Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Someone mentioned something the other day that really caught me by surprise. They mentioned how white Ahren is and that he doesn't look hispanic. It suddenly dawned on me that people consider Ahren and PBJ's adoptions to be transracial. I never, ever thought of it that way. Maybe it's becasue we live in Texas and a majority of the population is of hispanic heritage, or maybe it's because I was raised to see the person not the skin color. When I look at pictures of kids from Guatemala, I see beautiful children. When I look at Ahren and PBJ, I see MY beautiful children. Now don't get me wrong, I realize there are differences between my kids, but the differences go way beyond skin color of birth country. Here is my list of the ways in which my kids are alike/different:

Blue eyes: Levi and Katie
Brown eyes: Ashley, Ahren and PBJ
Blonde hair: Levi and katie
Brown hair: Ashley Ahren and PBJ
Stocky build: Ashley and Ahren
Slim build: Katie and Levi (don't know about PBJ yet)
Girls: Katie, Ashley and PBJ
Boys: Levi and Ahren
Have CN as their dad: Ashley and Katie
Have my hubby Chris as their Dad: Levi, Ahren and PBJ
Born in Arizona: Katie and Ashley
Born in Texas: Levi
Born in Guatemala: Ahren and PBJ
Curly hair: Katie and Ahren, plus Levi is getting some curl now
Straight hair: Ashley and PBJ
Walked before 1 yr old: Levi and Katie
Walked after 1 yr old: Ashley and Ahren

Here is something funny. Ashley is darker skinned than Ahren. She has the most beautiful skin that tans without burning. One day in the sun and she has tan lines. Even as a little tiny girl, she was a little brown nut in the summer. Her skin is absolutely gorgeous. She looks absolutely nothing like me, but she is the spitting image of my mother, personality and all. I remember someone asking me if my girls had different fathers and if they were really sisters. They have the exact same genetic contribution, same father, same mother, same everything and yet so different. Katie and Levi look incredibly alike and yet they have different fathers.

So are we going to be a trans-racial family? Honestly, would it make a difference if we had that label? Love is not a color. Love is not a race. We will be a family. Plain and simple. A family with things in common and with uniqueness for each individual. Each one of us will be an individual and part of the whole. We will revel in the boring, averageness of our familydom. The craziness of raising 5 kids will be no different except we might just appreciate it more.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A post of Pictures

We had a bit of a boo-boo at the new house. Apparently one of the guys driving the bulldozer didn't see the garage and ran into it. Chris was not happy. One of his guys had it all fixed within 24 hours and it looks brand new, can't tell anything ever happened. It's not good to run a dozer into the big boss's brand new house. Needless to say, he was terribly sorry and he still has his job.

Chris and Levi walking around the finished pond.

I am the king of all that I see. It is good to be King!

A bubble blowing dragon is a great way to spend a nice afternoon.

This is the biggest red-headed woodpecker I have ever seen. It has been working on the phone pole across the street form our house for a few weeks now. We have really enjoyed watching him. He is a magnificent bird and very industrious. See the hole he has already made in the pole?
I don't know if he is building a nest or if there are insects in the wood, but he is a large bird and he can fit almost all the way into the hole now. I'm sure the phone company is going to appreciate it when the pole cracks in half.

Learning to hit the baseball. It seems Levi is equally good at hitting both right and left handed. I see a switch hitter in our future! He sure loves to give the ball a good whack, and routinely hits the wiffle ball across the yard. He pegged the neighbor girl in the head with the ball yesterday and she was halfway across the yard. Luckily wiffle balls don't hurt!

Matching outfits for Levi and Ahren. I may never see them wearing these together, but I can have pictures of each of them in the outfits. Just a little brotherly bonding.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Up by the bootstraps

I know it sounds pathetic, but I just can't shake the feeling that something is going to go wrong with PBJ's adoption. It has been too easy so far. The mean adoption ogre's are just lulling me into a false sense of security and then they are going to pull the rug out from under me, just like with Ahren's case. When we learned his case was submitted to Family Court, I didn't believe it. I checked a second source. When they verified it, I still didn't believe it and got verification from a third source. Then and only then did I allow myself to get excited. I remember finally breaking down in tears and hugging Chris saying we were finally going to get to bring our son home. We had started the process. I didn't care how long it took, I just knew that now we would eventually get him. That euphoria lasted about 3 days when we learned that they had mistakenly submitted our file and the birth certificate was still not fixed. The Family Courts rejected it and it went back into a pile on a desk somewhere, to wait on the new birth certificate. That low was deeper and darker than any of the others. Thirteen months of waiting, praying, hoping, loving had all come crashing down in an instant. I wanted to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head. Hibernate for a month or two. I wanted the world to just leave me alone. It makes the good news from PBJ's case so bittersweet. I have asked the question Why a million/zillion times. My faith has taken a beating. I find myself just wishing they would tell us it was over so I could stop the pain. I don't feel like I have the energy to keep a positive outlook. Even so, we will not give up. I will pull myself up by the bootstraps as many times as it takes and keep pushing forward. One small boy with curly hair and huge dark eyes depends on us. He doesn't know it, but the love we have for him will change his life. He has already changed ours.

I took this picture a couple of weeks ago. Ashley had some friends over and I let them decorate Valentines cookies for fun. As a joke, the other girls pushed all the crumbs and sprinkles over by Ashley while she wasn't looking. It looks like she is a total piggy compared to the others, but it got them all giggling like only middle-school girls can do. (The sugar they consumed while sampling their handywork probably didn't hurt their giggliness either) Two of the girls who were there are sisters who were adopted just over a year ago from the foster care system. They are beautiful, wonderful girls and are blending into their new family really well. Their other siblings were adopted by another family about an hour away and the two families get together every month or so. It hasn't been easy for anyone but the rewards are huge.

So today's message is simple. Life may smack you on the chin, but grab those bootstraps and haul yourself back up. Little curly headed kids depend on it!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

House Updates

The earth work Chris's company is doing is coming along quickly. They have hauled in about 50 loads of dirt and have started on the pond. These pictures are after the first day of digging. They have now brought in a 'big scoop thingy' to dig it deeper and have made it bigger. I'll have more pictures of the progress in a few days.

Levi got a big kick out of the bulldozer and compactor. He likes to sit on them and pretend he is driving. He's a little scared of them when they are actually on, since they make a lot of noise.

Levi attempted to single-handedly fill in the pond by throwing dirt clods back into it. Luckily he lost that battle. We stayed and played for a long time and he was absolutely exhausted from running up and down the banks and throwing dirt clods. He was also one dirty little piggy by the time we headed home.
This gives you an idea of the size it was on this day. The pictures don't do it justice. I think it's going to be a really big pond, as far as suburban ponds go.

Chris's guys put in a lot of fill and smoothed out the yard. It looks a lot better than it did and no more low areas. They filled in the pseudo-pond left from where they dug the clay up for our foundation pad. They also built the pad for Chris's barn.
They finished the insulation and brought out the sheetrock yesterday. I have a meeting tomorrow with the builder to design all the kitchen cabinetry. We know the basic sizes and shapes but now I get to pick the fun stuff. Slide-out spice racks, special sliding shelves and all kinds of fun doo-dads. I think we are going to go with a rustic looking knotty cherry wood. We originally had a golden oak picked but the builder is changing cabinet companies and this new one has a lot more selection. As long as it doesn't cost an exorbitant amount then that's what we want. The stain will be light and just accent the natural grain. With the dark granite countertops it should be quite striking.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Mommy and Levi Day

I don't get a lot of days off where I don't have a house full of kids but today was wonderful. The girls had Friday off and had school today. Chris worked all day. It was just me and Levi. I had lots ofplans to get tons of things done, but I knew it was going to be a struggle to have time for Levi and still get anything accomplished. So here is what we did today (after dropping off my carpool at the high school at 6:45 am)

Took pictures of the new outfit I got for PBJ yesterday. The shirt says Future Cheerleader. I can't wait to enroll her at Legacy AllStars and teach her to yell Think Pink!

We dumped out all of the toys all over the living room. (OK, not really WE, that would be more of a Levi standard move although I did step on something with my bare foot and do a little dance)

Laundry, laundry and more laundry. How can we be such dirty people? Or maybe it's because we are clean? I don't know. I just know we make way too many dirty clothes. I feel like Sysaphus and every time I get close to having it all done, the mound grows behind my back. (Sysaphus is the God who is doomed to continually roll the large boulder up the mountain only to have it roll back down just before he reaches the top)

Went to the grocery store and then baked cookies. Levi picked these out. Thank goodness for ready made cookies. Just place and bake. I love to bake from scratch but in a pinch these will do. (Who am I kidding! I am always in a pinch. Hee!)

Made a large batch of chicken spaghetti and divided it up to freeze. Pull it out, pop it in the oven for 30 minutes and dinner is served. Add a vegetable or salad and it's a quick and easy meal when we need it. My goal is to do more meals like this when we are in the new house. We will be getting a large stand up freezer and I can fill it with home-made goodies for quick nutritious meals.

I also loaded up the slow cooker with ham and beans. I will freeze this in dinner sized portions, too, after we have it for dinner tonight. Add some home-made cornbread and we have a traditional southern meal (except lower sodium and fat than the regular version because I use low-sodium turkey ham and low-sodium fat free chicken stock)
We also cleaned 2 bathrooms, cleaned the leather furniture and swept the floors. Did the dishes, wiped down the counters, etc etc etc. You get the idea!

Here is my latest crafty attempts. I learned how to knit this past summer. I started with scarves and baby blankets and have now learned how to make these little hats. My first attempts were ridiculous but now I have the hang of it. It takes me about an hour to whip one out. PBJ has a collection of them already. One to go with each color outfit she has. I joke with Chris that I am knitting her home. If I just knit fast enough I can make her materialize!

Thursday, February 15, 2007


A few days I posted the great news that Ahren's case had been submitted to family court. I waited to announce that until I knew for sure it was true. Well, it is true, but they submitted it WITHOUT the corrected birth certificate. That means that it will have to be re-done as soon as we get the new birth certificate. The attorneys said they hoped that the new BC would be done soon and they could substitute it for the old one, maybe saving us a week or two of time. I think they just submitted it so that they could say they had done something and get us off their backs. Submitting our case doesn't hurt us, but it certainly doesn't help either. The rectification of the birth certificate is still stuck in the government offices and under investigation.

So I decided to soothe my broken heart with shopping! There is nothing beter than spending a little money and shopping for baby clothes to help me feel better. here are some little dresses I picked up for PBJ. They are way too big for her now. The summery dresses will fit her in a few months and the black/pink one maybe next winter. (They look really big in these pictures, but even though they will be big on her they are so teeny!!)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The World of Dance

I have never taken dance lessons. I am lucky if I can do the Hokey Pokey and not hurt myself. Up until this year Katie has always done cheerleading. She has done competitive cheer and school cheer (she liked the competitive stuff way more) The one thing she didn't like about school cheerleading was that it was so full of drama and the girls were not nice to each other. No team spirit at all. This year she decided to try the Dance/Drill Team. The only dance experience she had up until this point had been on session at a studio when she was 4 years old. That didn't stop her. (Nothing ever does, when she puts her mind to it) She tried out and made it and has been off to the races ever since. None of her coaches can believe she hasn't danced before since she is such a natural at it. (Proud mama here!) So here are some pictures from her recent competitions.
Mom, get that camera out of here. I am stretching!

Killing time in between performances.
Getting ready to head out onto the floor for their kick routine.
Laying around killing more time between performances.

Kick kick, dance dance. They won a choreography award for this routine.

Smiling for the cameras!

These are some really crazy girls!!!

Monday, February 12, 2007

House Updates

The house is coming along slowly but that is to be expected. The stage we are at now is supposed to be slow. The plumbing is done, the gas line has been run and connected and all the plumbing for that is in place. The furnaces and water heaters are in too. The electrician started last week and will finish in a few days, then we have another inspection before the sheetrock begins. We are on schedule to move in around mid-April.

Here is the front of the house. The siding is done but the stone hasn't arrived yet. The bottom half of the walls will be stone. The stone is a cultured stone that has lots of earth tones in it. The stones are different sizes and create a beautiful pattern. I am hoping it will look as fantastic in reality as it does in my head!

This is the view down the left side of the house. The house is a lot deeper than it seems looking at it straight on. You can tell where the stone goes in this shot.

This is one of the spaceships in our attic. Oh wait, it's actually a furnace. It is suspended from the rafters and doesn't touch the floor. This is supposed to make it virtually silent. We'll see about that. Levi took one look and went oooohhhhhh, then backed away from it. Oh well, so much for attic storage space...... There is a second one on the other side of the house too.

This is the view of the back. The portion on the right without windows is the back of the garage. Where the covered porch is on the back will then have a large patio area off of it. We are thinking of adding a covered area off the back of the garage and creating a kid play zone there. Put things like the sandbox and playhouse. That way if it is too hot or is raining they would have a nice shady or dry place to play.
Chris's company is doing a couple of large jobs up near here right now and part of the job requires them to haul away a lot of dirt. He is having his guys bring 20 or 30 dumptruck loads to our land. He will use most of it to build the pad for the barn, and some to fill in the pseudo pond that resulted from where they dug out the clay for the pad for the house. Then later he has another job where he is going to get a bunch of good topsoil and bring it to our land, too. We should be all set to grow grass and trees and whatever else. He is also going to have his guys come and dig the real pond way out back where we want it. We are going to set it up as kind of a wilderness area. We will put a deer feeder out there and stock the pond with fish. I want to grow cattails and lily pads in the pond (I have no idea if those even grow in Texas???) We will plant lots of trees back there for a refuge for the deer and other wildlife. It will take years to get to where we want it, but it will be fun to watch it develop.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Roller Coaster Ride

There has been a lot of things going on over the past two weeks which is why I haven't been posting as often as I normally do. First, on January 29th the company I work for re-organized. This is a lovely corporate term for layoffs. I knew it was coming, I just didn't know when. I am still employed here but I lost seven people from my team. I am angry, I feel guilty because I am still here and they aren't, I feel shell-shocked and numb. We have been working 10-12 hour days trying to keep up with the work (because it didn't get cut, just the people) and we can't keep up. Management seems surprised by this. I won't say much more because my mother always taught me that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.
We took Ashley to a pediatric orthopedist last week. They was some concern that one of her hips was not growing normally. On exam it was shown that one hip socket is extremely loose and has resulted in that leg rotatin outwards, causing pain in her knee. Once we get x-rays etc we will know the extent of the problem. Unfortunately, the only correction for this is surgical. If the ligaments can be tightened that will be done. Otherwise it might require a total hip replacement. My poor baby. This has been a very rough year for her.

Now for some good news. Peri Brynn is in PGN! The case went in in January some time. Now we just wait. One day we will get a call that says we are out, which means the final signatures are in place and she is legally our daughter. They will tell us when our embassy appointment is and I will fly down and bring her home. This could happen in a few weeks or months. PGN is a virtual black hole of government red-tape. We probably won't get any news while it's in PGN. This is the part where we are just supposed to wait patiently. To hell with that, I'm going shopping! There will be no cute little girl things left in the Houston area!!!!

And, the icing on the cake.......... we were informed yesterday that our case for Ahren has finally officially started. Apparently the birth certificate is done?? Our case was filed in family court on January 22nd. I am waiitng for confirmation before I do any backflips. We have had good news before that turned out wrong. I guess you could say that I am quietly hopeful. Everyone please say a prayer for this little guy that this is true and we will eventually be bringing him home.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Random things

My main squeeze. My hubby. My love. My best friend. Can anyone tell where Levi gets his enormous Jimmy Neutron brain from? Levi had such a large head as a baby that they actually worried he was hydrocephalic (water on the brain) We had to take him to Texas Children's for a CAT scan. His big ol' noggin was just full of brains, no water.

Chris looked at the new pictures of PBJ and his eyes got a little twinkle and he said it sure is nice to see her so happy and healthy looking. I think someone is going to be wrapped around a tiny little finger. I can't argue though, I spoil our kids rotten. Yes, I am guilty! They ask and I jump. But look at that cute little face, how could anyone not just melt when she smiles at you?

Do they make a special sling to carry a baby that is this big??? We have a backpack but I think he might be pushing the limits of what is comfortable to carry for very long. It's a good thing he has such a sweet and calm temperment. He could really dominate the other toddlers! I wonder if he is walking? Talking? If he has any teeth yet? What does he eat? Does he still take a bottle? Has he ever had a haircut???

Friday, February 02, 2007


Ashley just turned 12 years old in January. In fact, her birthday and Ahren's birthday are the same, 11 years apart. They were born within minutes of each other in the afternoon. Fate? Destiny? Coincidence? Whatever it is, I think it's wonderful. Ashley refers to Ahren as her mini-me. How cute is that!

Ashley has Hashimoto's disease. Although she has had it for several years, the diagnosis was only confirmed this summer. Hashimoto's disease is an auto-immune disorder where her body is attacking her thyroid gland. Her thyroid is enlarged and has many nodules. The thyroid hormone that her body makes is inactivated by the antibodies her body is producing. The thyroid hormone is very important for metabolism and overall hormone balance in the body. Because hers is not functioning she is lethargic, gains weight, has trouble focusing and a host of other less-than-desirable symptoms. The treatment consists of giving her synthetic hormone to replace the hormone her body inactivates. Her antibodies do not detect the synthetic version so it can act on the body normally. Her dose is slowly being raised until she reaches a point where she feels and acts normal and her thyroid gland begins to shrink back to it's normal size. She has already started to show signs of improvement and is super excited to be feeling better and having more energy.

Why am I being so open about my daughter's medical condition? Because I knew something was wrong and the doctors wouldn't listen to me. She is my child. I know her so well and I knew something was not right. We had her tested several times but the thyroid levels would come back normal and they would dismiss it. They told her she ate too much, she was not active enough, she was depressed, etc etc. They even sent her to a nutritionist. (It turns out that the standard thyroid tests always turn out normal for Hashimotos patients because the thyroid is making the hormone. It's just that antibodies de-activate it.) I saw my little girl losing her self-confidence. Being hurt because someone teased her and called her fat. I saw my little girl, who had always been the entertainer and life of the party become more and more withdrawn. I vowed that I would not quit until we found the answer. This summer I found a female endocrinologist in Houston. I called and made an appointment and we went. I made them listen to me. The first thing they did was a scan of her thyroid and that is when they realized how enlarged and full of nodules it was. Totally abnormal for an 11 year old girl. The rest is history. My little girl is on track to being her old self again. She will take medication for the rest of her life, but will feel and act totally normal. So parents, if you think something is wrong, trust your instincts. We know our children better than anyone. If they don't listen, go somewhere else. I wish I had a lot sooner.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Things I love

A while back I posted about things I hate. Today I want to tell you all what I love! This list is a lot longer so I will only give you the highlights.

1) My family. My husband, my kids, my parents and in-laws. I have an absolutely awesome family. Every single person has been 100% supportive of our adoptions. They rock!

2) Holding my kids. I love the way they melt into your body when they are little and I love that my older girls still hug me. I especially love holding sleepy little ones.

3) Cheese. My favorite food. Anything cheesey is yummy!!!!

4) The fact that my husband kisses me hello and goodbye every day.

5) The way a child fresh out of the tub smells.

6) Ahren's curls and eyes.

7) Levi's gigantic blue eyes.

8) Ashley's sense of style and color. She has a gift and often helps me decorate or pick new clothes.

9) Katie's sunny personality. Even as a freshman in high school she tells me she loves me every day when I drop her off at school, in front of her friends!

10) Peri Brynn's chubby little cheeks that look so cute when she grins. And her left ear that is slightly bent and sticks out a wee bit.

11) Stubble on my husbands chin on weekend mornings.

12) The smell of freshly mown grass.

13) Sunshine!

14) Laughter.

And much much more.

I will leave you with one Levi funny. Yesterday, while riding along in his carseat, Levi suddenly told me, "I have a big brain. Like Jimmy Neutron." Where does he come up with these things????