Hi, I'm Dana and welcome to Death by Great Wall, a place where I share stories about older child adoption and family life.

You might want to know a little about me. 
  • I'm an "old mom."  I just turned 52, and as my friends from college are becoming empty-nesters and grandmas, I spend my days homeschooling four kids ages 14, 11, 11, and 10.  I almost called this blog, Hey, I'm that Old Mom, but I didn't want to hurt my own feelings.
  • No, I don't have twins.  I have two eleven year olds because back in 2010, my husband, Mike, and I adopted an older child from China.  You can learn more by reading about our Adoption Journey
  • Being a mom is my favorite thing I've ever done, but I admit I'm tired all the time.  Which leads to my next point:
  • I love coffee and am brewing the "afternoon pot" right now.

You might wonder where my blog got its name.  Well, it all started with this photo back in 2010. 

There I am.  Limping up the Great Wall of China. Living my dream.  

Arriving at the Great Wall that day, our guide said, "There are two ways up. One is steeper, but the view is better." Without a pause, both Mike and I said, "We'll take the hard way."

At that point our guide smiled and said, "I'll be waiting for you, right here at the bottom. Take as long as you like." She, obviously, had been there before.

Off we went. . .with our seven year old, newly adopted son. . . the little wild man who didn't speak English.

Off we went. Up a very steep, never ending staircase.

Off we went -- and then, off they went as Mike and Wenxin quickly left me behind. I knew it would be hard, but this was ridiculous. I couldn't breathe. My legs wanted to stop working. Eventually, I began taking sit-down breaks; I took one about every twenty steps.

Wenxin kept calling for me. He was fine -- fine enough to keep running up and then back down to check on me and then back up again. A leathery old Chinese man chuckled and explained in Chinese, "Mama lei le." Translation: "Mama's tired." Then, Wenxin snapped the best photo of the day -- me --putting one foot in front of the other, almost slain by the Great Wall of China.

In the end, I didn't die, and I got a photo that will make me smile for the rest of my life. It was totally worth it.

Looking at that photo again today, I noticed something I hadn't seen before. Even though, I didn't get as far as I wanted, and even though I was literally dragging my aching body up each step at that point, look how far I'd come. We started out way down there at the bottom. Look how far we'd come.

When I think about our family's journey it's a lot like that trek up the Great Wall. Mike and I are quick to say, "We'll take the hard way," when we think it's worth it. Then we end up doing crazy things like homeschooling or adopting an older child, even though we're getting older ourselves.

Today, I reminded myself, to peek back over my shoulder and look how far we've come.

The hard way's usually worth it -- if it doesn't kill you.

I see a new post in my future. It's called Death by Homeschooling.

For a taste of Death by Great Wall, follow these links: