Monday, December 31, 2007

Good News!

We received Pre-Approval on Ahren's case! This means that the US Embassy reviewed the documents, the DNA results, and our i171h (approval to adopt) and have approved this case. This is a major step in the process and was one I was very concerned about. There have been many rumors that our facilitator was banned by the US Embassy for fraudulent cases, in which case we would never get approval. Apparently he isn't banned because his name is clearly on our documents and we are approved. Now, as soon as we have the report from the Guatemalan social worker (we might already have this) we are ready to be submitted to PGN, the final court on the Guat side to approve the adoption.

Seriously, I have no idea when Ahren may come home, or if he will be here before Peri Brynn. I have learned not to get my hopes up. There are many more spots that we could hit a major snag. But, for now, I am doing the happy dance and rejoicing!!!

2008 is going to be GREAT!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

My Christmas present

 This is the gift I found under the tree Christmas morning. A brand new, 18X zoom, fully loaded digital camera. Woot woot! I have been practicing with it to try and learn how to use it. Here are some of my first tries. I forgot to add that the pix I took of the deer were all from my living room, without going outside at all or even opening a window. I am nothing if not lazy!

Friday, December 28, 2007

And the icing on the cake

Look at those chubby cheeks and bright eyes! I can even see a bit of a double chin forming. This little peanut is thriving in her new foster home. Their latest report was that she is using her legs more and more to try and move her walker around. They have been working a lot with her muscle tone and it is definitely helping. Although she is almost 15 months old, her development is at about an 8 month old right now, but that is a huge improvement over where she was in October.

And, for those of you who wanted to see my lumber-jack of a husband riding a toddler scooter in our kitchen...

And introducing the latest addition to our household. Meet Joli, an 8 week old mini-yorkie with attitude. She was a gift to Katie from her father and she is soooo adorable.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


I was delighted to find 2 sets of pictures of Ahren in my in-box. The one in the jeans jacket is from November, and the others are from December. Gee, I knew it was taking a really long time to get him home, but I didn't expect him to be shaving already!

Does anyone know why they dress the children up like this at Christmas? I know it is traditional, but what does it mean? Are they portraying some famous person from back in time? All I know is that he looks darn cute in that outfit and mustachio!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Day stories

On Christmas Eve, we spent the day relaxing, wrapping the final presents, preparing for the arrival of Santa and pretty much just hanging out. At one point, laying on the floor, I looked up at Levi and noticed he had a dried booger in his nose. Now any Mom knows that a booger in a little boy's nose needs to be attacked immediately before said booger ends up on the snack list. (Eeeew!) So I got a tissue and tried to get him to hold still. He decided that he would get it and proceeded to shove his thumb and forefinger up his nose in an attempt to snag the booger. He dug and dug, and then finally proclaimed 'Mom, that's not a booger. That's my tonsil'. Then he stood there and stared at me as I laughed uncontrollably, wondering when his Mom had lost her mind.....

Christmas morning we woke early (not so bright, though) and set about seeing what Santa had brought. Santa, in his infinite wisdom, had failed to read the fine print on a pop-up basketball game, and was completely shocked to find it 6-feet tall and filling the living room. One side touched the tree and the other the couch. The top too close to the ceiling fan to allow the ball to be shot in safely. Oooops! Santa also delivered a remote-controlled robot (Robosapien, the robot with attitude....or so says the info) an art easel, and some puzzles. You see, Santa was trying to cover the areas of interest to a child. Artistic, physical, scientific, and logical. You know, trying to create the well-rounded child and all. Santa needs to give up on the psych books, though. All small boys want is something to hit everything with, such as the little butterfly net he also received. (Those things hurt!!!!)

Then we took a break and got some coffee, then settled in to open some presents. At one point, Levi opened a box containing a pair of pants. (**See side note below) He got the most disgusted look on his face and said, 'I didn't want pants!', then proceeded to throw them behind him. Chris began to tease him that every present was underwear, and he would act all upset and disgusted and then thrilled when there wasn't underwear in the box. While he wasn't looking, I snuck into his room, got a pair of his underwear, and shoved them into a gift bag with some tissue paper. I managed to sneak this new present into his pile when he wasn't looking. Sure enough, becasue it was small, he left it until the end. He pulled the paper out, pulled out the underwear, then got a huge grin on his face. He held the underwear up next to his face, and in the most sweetly fake voice ever, said, 'Underwear, just what I always wanted!' And we laughed and laughed.

**I have a terrible (or great) habit of giving the kids gifts of things they actually need, and I would have to be buying anyway. Levi had a sudden growth spurt and shot right up out of the 4T jeans I bought this fall. Therefore he got pants and some new longer pj's as gifts. Yeah, I'm mean, but that's my job.

The girls called at 8am to set up when to pick them up from their Dad's. This involves a 4-5 hour road trip since we live in different cities, but I was glad to do it. We were back home by a little after 2 pm and opened more gifts. The girls each got 3 main gifts this year. The Guitar Hero game for the PS2, a $100 gift card that was locked inside a puzzle they had to solve before they could retrieve the card, and a necklace from James Avery. They also got little stuff and stocking stuff. Katie got the traditional Dog Poop calendar (4th year in a row), and this year Ashley got the Butt Crack calendar, starting a new tradition. Twelve months worth of poop and buttcracks. Cool! You know, traditions are very important!

Later I will try and upload some pix. You have to see the one of Chris riding Levi's new scooter around the kitchen. What was that honey, you don't think I should post that picture???? Hmmm, how much would that be worth to you???? Ba hahh ahhaahahhh (evil laugh)

Monday, December 24, 2007

It's Christmas Eve

And all thru the house, the only thing heard were little boy shouts. I'm in my sweats and Dad will be soon, we are settling in for a long afternoon. The presents are wrapped, the cookies half eaten, I am totally worn out, I've taken a beatin'. This isn't quite right, this holiday season. It's just not fair and goes against reason. I have Ashley and Katie and little Levi, but two still are missing, one girl and one guy. I promised myself that last year it would end, the next year one and all would attend. Five stockings to hang for Santa to find, more presents to wrap but I wouldn't mind. I would kiss them and hug them and call them by name. My five precious children to spoil all the same. But it wasn't to be, not this year, not yet. It's a concept I still just somehow can't quite get. So once again I swear this is the last, and next year we will look back and think of times past. The years 'before' we all came together, and laugh at ourselves and the storms we have weathered. I will kiss katie, and Ashley and Levi goodnight, then Ahren and Brynn and tuck them in tight. No better present could I ever wish for, than my entire family behind my front door.

To next year.....

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Love to all of you

I am amazed at the stories I am hearing, the children who are suffering, the mother's arm who are empty, the money paid and more demanded, kids who appear and disappear as easily as the fog. It makes me sick. I don't know why we ended up with two children stuck in this hell, or why we found this way to connect with all of you, but I am so thankful! We cannot fight all alone. We have to lean on each other. We have to gather our forces and make the changes needed, for the children. My heart swells with the knowledge we are all together. The new year will be all about changes. I promise!!! We will win this challenge because the alternative is inconceivable. The Momma Bears are about to go a hunting......

So, after the holidays, it's WAR!!!! Come, my sisters and my brothers, our children await.

But, in the meantime, we have lives to live, spouses to take care of (oh yeah, and don't they need us!) other kids, jobs, homes, families and much, much more. We are blessed and that makes us stronger. We will draw from that strength and march forward. No matter what, we will be OK. We will have each other.

Now, a bit of normalcy (well, normal for my family!)

As for the special Santa Cookie, it was not a trick of the camera. That Teddy Bear was indeed quite 'special'. He is a 'stand up guy' you might say. Very proud. I am sure Santa will see the specialness and appreciate it very much. I know we all have appreciated it it quite a lot. Hee hee!!!

Today, in the parking lot of Mega mart:
Me: Thank you Levi for holding my hand in the parking lot.
Levi: Don't mention it.
Me: hahahahhahahahahhahahha

Let's discuss the dynamics of divorce on holidays. First, I want to tell you my ex and I are great friends. We really are! He is a good guy. A good father. My friend way before we were married and still my friend. We break all the rules about divorce. We have taken the kids on vacation together, we talk frequently and support each other. Ours is a divorce to be coveted! But, I still have one issue. He is the 'FUN' parent. Ugh! I try to be fun. I try so hard, but he is just plain fun, all the time, all the way. Heck, that's one of the reasons I married him, and one of the reasons I divorced him! How do you compete with that? I schedule dental appointments and flu shots. He takes them shopping and to 6 Flags. I cut their toenails and their hair, he buys them games and clothes. It is always the worst at holidays. This year is no exception. The gifts he got the girls are way cool, top of the line, memorable. I bought them good stuff, but not ones that compete. I have given up. I can't out-do Super-Dad. They deserve to have a Super-Parent, so I will let him do it. He deserves it too. I will be the pretty good parent who you can depend on. I can live with that. Divorce, who knew it was about presents.....

Saturday, December 22, 2007

More cookie art

OK, today I get back to normal, ordinary, holiday-stressed me. I can't dwell on the adoption related stuff for too long or I will absolutely lose it. As is, it takes everything I have not throw an absolutely horrific 2-year old tantrum, kicking and screaming on the floor, wailing like a scalded monkey. Let's not go there.....

Yesterday we had Round 2 of cookie chaos. In an effort to entertain a 7, 4, and 2 year old, I pulled out the sugar cookie recipe and set to work. We made dough, rolled it out, used the cookie cutters and carefully baked pan after pan of edible art projects (well, maybe not so edible after the decorating)

Tubes of colored frosting, 10 different colored sprinkles, red hots and jelly beans, sugar, sugar and more sugar. We were all set. Plus, this time I had an extra set of adult hands to help. Nanny!

A lot of the candies and frosting ended up in the little mouths instead of on the cookies. Well, actually, some went in the mouths and then onto a cookie or two, but we discreetly separated the ones with the gooey jelly beans. (Or did we????)

After a bunch of practice cookies, I gave them each a large teddy bear and a star cookie to decorate especially for Santa. A lot of serious effort went into those cookies, since they were for Santa.

Here is the special cookie Levi made for Santa. He is, um, 'special' all right!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I am blown away!

When I posted yesterday it was more of a vent for my over-stimulated psyche and not a plea for support. I am absolutely blown away by the comments everyone left!!!! I am humbled and blessed by all of you! I have tears in my eyes as I type tonight. I can positively FEEL the support and love emanating from all of you. How did I get so lucky to have found all of you?

First, I have a special shout-out to 'Mommy', who posted that she has also been dealing with this agency for 14 months and we need to talk. Please e-mail me at We need to share and support each other! It's not just you and me. Apparently we are part of a much larger group that I didn't even know about.

I am left often to wonder why. Why 2 bad cases? Why us? Why our children? I think my 15 year old had the answer. She told me she thinks God chose us because he knows we won't give up and we will fight for what is right. I have known for a very long time that a lot of changes need to be made in adoptions, and not just international adoptions. Domestic cases need help, too. Somehow, somewhere along the way, the system became less about the children and more about money, regulations, laws, control, money, power and money. I understand how it happened. In a lot of cases, one bad egg spoiled it for everyone. Someone stole a baby and passed them off as their own. Someone took money to give up a child. Someone adopted and then abused a child. Even though the majority of people adopting, people giving up children, people involved in the process are good, some people ruined it for everyone else. I hate those people so very very much. I especially hate the ones who make money off of people's desire to adopt a child.

People set out to adopt for emotional reasons, but some people set out to work in adoptions for purely selfish reasons. Adoption agencies are businesses that deal in a highly emotional field, and yet they are 'businesses'. They offer a service for a fee. If you hired a house painter to paint your house, but they messed it up, didn't complete the work, didn't keep you informed about the progress and always had excuses, you would be furious. If they were delayed due to faulty paint, bad weather, or some other reason beyond their control, you would understand, but expect to be kept informed and that as soon as possible the job to be completed. In adoptions, it's a 'buyer beware' situation. You give them tens of thousands of dollars, get no guarantee, and no control. You may or may not ever get a child, and heaven forbid if you fall in love with a specific child. In the adoption biz children are interchangeable. I know because we were offered a 5 year old girl instead of our infant daughter after she was injured. (It turns out the 5 year old girl was not really available and has since been returned to her birth mother due to paperwork discrepancies)

It is so hard. All we wanted was to add to our family through adoption. Simultaneously have a child and also save a child. Why has everything gone so horribly wrong? I have no answers, but I do know that I will spend the rest of my life working for adoption reform. No child should be left behind. no child should suffer at the hands of inferior foster parents. No child should be un-loved. Not when there are many, many loving families fighting to bring children home.

Thank you to all of you. I couldn't keep fighting for our kids without the strength I get from you. Some days I just want to give up. Put all of this behind me. Move on. And then I read the comments and know what I need to do, and I have the power to do. Thank you, all of you, and God Bless you!!!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I ticked them off, so what.

Yesterday, in a fit of frustration, I wrote a long letter to the agency that is handling PBJ's adoption. It has been 14 months and with everything that has happened I feel that my frustration is well earned. I didn't accuse them of anything, I simply laid out the facts of our case so far, asked for better communication, pointed out that our interests haven't always been a priority and asked for more help.

What I got back was a long, rambling letter accusing us of 'jumping on the blame bandwagon' and having a 'lynch mob mentality'. Um, excuse me, but I said nothing of the sort. This is the kind of intimidation bull that our old, very bad agency used. We ask for them to do the job we paid them to do and we get accusations and attacks. Well, fine. You want to play the adverserial card, be my guest. Do they have any inkling what kind of damage it would do to their reputation if I publicly revealed all of the details of PBJ's 'mysterious' head injury? I am sure that most intelligent people have already figured out that a baby cannot get an almost 5 inch long fracture in their skull in a simple fall. Or that the foster home that was chosen and monitored by said agency was the scene of the 'accident'. Or that she laid there for more than 24 hours before she was taken to see the doctor, and only then becasue she was unconscious and seizing? Or what if I told everyone that not only was she injured, but she was filthy, malnourished, had parasites and a urinary infection, had hair so matted on her head I had to cut it out, and that her fingernails looked like they hadn't been cut in months. Or that the foster family dropped her at the hospital with no clothes, no formula, no diapers, nothing. Just the mismatched, too small shirt and pants she was wearing. I left dozens of outfits, toys and a bouncy chair for her in July. All of it gone, most likely sold for money. Or how about the fact that the CT scan of her brain revealed a previous injury that was in the process of healing already? So who the heck was checking on her? We paid the foster care fees and medical fees faithfully each month for our daughter, and had supplied the foster family with everything they needed to take care of her, and yet no one ever checked on her.

So yeah, you want to accuse me of playing the blame game, go right ahead. You want to make it MY fault for not understanding how 'the system works', be my guest. BUT, I know right from wrong and I know what happened. I know where the failures occurred. I know who let that precious baby down. And I know I don't have to form a lynch mob. All I have to do is go public with the truth.....

Mainstreet Adoptions, you were warned.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hey, it's not Monday anymore!

Katie was absolutely no fun last night. She wouldn't even let the boy get out of his truck (they all drive trucks down here) and he was barely pulling into the driveway and she was sprinting down the walk. He didn't even get to see Chris's shotguns. Man, if you can't torment your teenager then life is no fun. Wah!

I had the best report from Nanny yesterday regarding Levi's behavior. She said he was an absolute angel! I thought maybe the phone call from Santa did it, but it was something completely different. (He isn't a bad boy, but he is active and can get loud) Nanny said that he spent several hours yesterday sitting on the couch trying to learn how to blow a bubble with gum. Hours. Quietly. Is anyone else as amazed as I am? By the time I got home he was blowing bubbles and was on his third piece of bubblegum. His poor little cheeks and tongue must have been so sore! I had to finally force him to spit it out before bed. Now if he would just be that focused on being able to write his name!

I demanded an update from PBJ's agency today and what I got was a long, not helpful, answer. The only new bit of info is that the case worker assigned to us in Minor's Court is on vacation until Jan 15th. Great. You know the only thing that hasn't gone wrong in our adoptions so far is that no one has been abducted by aliens yet. I say 'yet' because just give it time and I am sure that will happen too.

Ashley got to shoot free throws in her game last week, and my little super-star shot two in a row, nothing but net! Her Dad told me he was just sitting there praying she hit something with the ball, and suddenly whoosh, it went right in. He was so proud he was about to burst! He asked her if she had been practicing that at school and she said she did a little, but she had never made one before. Then she looked at him and said, 'Dad, I just do better under pressure'. He said she didn't even look nervous standing there at the line. Way to go Ash!!!!

Tomorrow Katie gets out of school at noon and then I am taking her to get her driver's permit. This is a warning to everyone in the tri-county area. Fifteen year old behind the wheel. Watch out! The Driver's Ed kit I bought has these big dorky signs that say Student Driver that you are supposed to place on your car when they drive. I am thinking of adding flashing lights and a horn, too. Just in case someone even thinks about getting in the way. You have all been warned.......

Monday, December 17, 2007

My teenager is dating, HELP!

Ssshhhhh, don't tell, Katie has a boyfriend. She had one last year for about 2 weeks, and one earlier this year for about 6 days. She is very picky about boys (which is a gooood thing!) This boy is a senior and drives. Eeeck! Last year, when Katie went on her very first date, Chris and I discussed how to handle it. Should we put the fear of God in the boy? Have Chris answer the door while 'cleaning his pistol collection'? Play 20 questions with him? Instead, we opted for the following.

The young man came to the door to pick Katie up to go to the movies. We introduced ourselves, shook hands and made a little small talk. Then, when they were leaving, Chris ran out the door yelling 'shotgun' and began to climb into the boy's truck. The look on Katie's face was priceless! She turned beat red and began to splutter. The boy had a deer-in-the-headlights look on his face. I tried, but I couldn't keep a straight face and I began to laugh and they realized we were just teasing. The two of them laughed all the way down the walk (as Chris came back into the house, laughing too). At that point we deemed the boy A-OKAY in our book. If he could laugh with us then he passed the test.

I don't know what we are going to do to this new boy. Katie is onto us now and won't let him come too close. We are going to have to get more creative. Chris thinks we should put out a sign that says, 'If you can afford her, you can have her'. I think Chris should be sitting on the front porch with his shotgun across his knees when the boy comes to pick her up. Or better yet we can send Levi along on the date. (Oh boy would that be a hoot. I would love to be a fly on the wall and watch that!)

We have been very lucky so far. Katie seems to think all high school boys are idiots and too immature to waste her time on. She likes to hang out with groups of people but doesn't feel the need to have a 'boyfriend'. She has plenty of friend-boys and she likes it that way. Whew!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Calculation of Potential Mess Quotient

After years of careful data aquisition, I have come up with a scientific calculation that will predict the amount and severity of a mess generated by a kid-centric activity. I will now reveal the calculation so that all parents can safely and with reliability predict the outcome of such activities.

The Calculation

N= # children involved in activity
A+B+C... = sum of ages of involved children
N/(A+B+C....) = average age of involved child
X= number of children participating without a needed nap
Y= complexity of activity on a scale of 1-10, 1 being most complex, 10 being something akin to falling down

Basic formula is like this:( ( (A+B+C....)/N ) X)/ Y

This is only the basic formula. Now we need factor in some additional variables

R = need to hire professional help to undo damage by activity, on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the need to call 911
D = the presence of a dog (or Roomba if you are so lucky) to clean up dropping as you go. D = 10 if the droppings are edible,
D=1 if they are toxic to dog and will necessitate a trip to expensive doggy ER.
Q = the number of cuss words the kid-centric activity is likely to cause you to say, if you drop an f-bomb, square this number
S = the number 2 if more than half the children involved are boys, or 1 if more are girls
M = the amount of importance the Mom places on said activity, from 1-10, 1 being 'I don't give a darn' and 10 being 'If this
goes wrong it's going to take years of therapy and thorazine to fix'.

So now the formula looks more like this:

[ ( [R( ( (A+B+C....)/N ) X) /Y]D*Q] )S]/M

If the score is lees than 1000, rethink the activity carefully, plan for the worst and have a large bottle of wine handy.

Good Luck!



What better way to push aside the blues than to have an old fashioned sleepover! Little Miss Mina is Levi's bestest friend. Even though she is 2 years younger than he is, she keeps up very well. Her parents had a party to go to last night and I took advantage of that to finagle some time with her! (Helps to feed my missing-baby needs) We also had one Miss H. spending the night (Katie's friend) since her parents were also going to a party.

We got mexican food from a local restaurant, pigged out on queso and enchiladas, baked sugar cookies, de-cheesed the little ones in the tub and watched Christmas movies. The big girls went to a friends house to play Guitar Hero for a couple of hours (said friend being a HOTT older boy, making it the ultimate evening) And the little ones got snuggled into jammies and tucked in bed.

This morning the little ones were up bright and early, but not as early as us! (Early rising habits don't know when it's a weekend, argh!) Chris headed off to church by himself and I am entertaining the Toddler Troops. Luckily that is as involved as letting them play with a couple of stuffed snowmen I have. Levi announced his is a girl and he's taking her on a date. Mina put her Snowman's carrot nose up her nose! (I'm pretty sure levi taught her that!)

Now they are eating breakfast. Sausage and cheese Kolaches, bananas, and one powdered sugar donut. Ahh, the breakfast of champions!

By the time Miss M's parents pick her up later this morning I will have her completely messed up. Not enough sleep, too much sugar, and a few new tricks taught to her by Levi! I had better enjoy this while I can because my baby-sitting career may be over! Hah!!!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sinking into the abyss

I was doing so well, keeping my spirits up and heading into the holidays in the right frame of mind. Life is good, we are blessed, what a lovely time of year! And then this week came. There isn't one specific thing I can point to as the culprit. I have all the holiday shopping and decorating done so that isn't stressing me out.

Maybe it's that of my 5 kids, only 1 will be with me on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. What is Christmas without kids? Or maybe it's that I still have no idea if/when two of those kids will actually live with us. Or maybe it's that work sucked this week. Sucked majorly. Or maybe it's the weather, cold and rainy (which killed half my outdoor Christmas decorations when the plugs all got wet) Or maybe my heart is just 3 sizes too small. (a little Grinchy humor)Did I mention work sucked?

I think I will spend the weekend doing some things that I like to do instead of all the things I have to do. Do you ever feel that way? That as a grown-up everything is 'have to'? By the time I get everything done I don't have the energy left to do something I want to do! How pathetic is that?

Now, for a follow-up on Psycho Substitute Bus Driver. Apparently I was not the only parent to call in to the school, but, in typical school fashion, no one believes the kids. I was told not to over-react, it was probably only a couple of minutes and that the kids deserved it. I know my children aren't perfect by a long shot, but come on! I had talked to Katie the day before after she got on the bus and she told me that there were only 5 kids on the bus because of the rain. This doesn't jibe with the driver's account of a loaded bus of teenage crazies. Plus I spoke to Katie while they were still sitting in the parking lot and it was 30 minutes after the bus usually leaves the school. This is one of my biggest pet peeves about public school. The kids and the parents are always wrong, no matter what. All I can say is if it happens again I am going to go Big Chunky all over someone!!!

Here is a conversation I had with Katie yesterday:

Me: I love you
KT: I love you too.
Me: You're a good kid.
KT: You're a good mom!
ME: Well, I'm not sure my parenting has anything to do with you being a good kid. You're probably good in spite of me.
KT: Yeah, you're right. (Said with a smirk and a giggle)

Here is a conversation I had with Levi:

Me: Santa is coming.
Levi: No he's not. We don't get any snow.
Me: Santa still comes even without snow.
Levi: No he won't. You have to have snow.
Me: Really, Levi, he still comes to lots of places that don't have snow.
Levi: Mom, he's not coming. (With a look on his face as though I am the dumbest thing in the world)

So today I had a friend at work, who has a big deep voice, call him and say he was Santa and promise to come to his house. I can't wait to see what he says when I get home. Poor kid, thinking Santa won't come if we don't have snow. All together now....Awwwwwww.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hostage situation???

I was driving home and I got a phone call. I answered and Katie blurted out, "We're all being held hostage on the bus!" Time...stood....still. The sound of blood whooshing in my ears took over. I had visions of armed gunmen and terrified kids held for ransom for the release of some third world terrorist. I stammered 'What?" (I am cool like that in a crisis!) She then began to tell me a story how they had a substitute bus driver that day, and after everyone got on the bus, she pulled it around into a different parking lot and stopped. She then began yelling at the kids for having been crazy the day before. Funny thing is she was NOT their driver the day before. The kids tried to tell her that, but it only made her madder. She screamed and yelled at them then just sat there. For 30 more minutes. Just to punish them. For something they didn't do. Freaking psycho bus driver, on a vendetta against those crazy kids. It would almost be funny if other situations like that hadn't made it into the news for ending tragically. So now I get to call the school, and although I don't have to ask about Big Chunky, I now have to ask about Crazy Psycho Substitute Bus Driver. Homeschooling is looking better and better.....

Feelin Sexy in my new digs!

So what do you think? I wish I could say I did it all by myself, but that would be a big fat lie. Besides, you know me too well by now and you know I am not a computer genius by any means. A wonderful young lady named Nikki created the new look for me. She is designing blogs to earn money for charities and a charitable trip she is taking soon. You, too, can get in on the action by visiting her blog at
The hardest part for me was choosing pictures of the kiddos that really showed their personalities well. That's why you have Ghetto-Barbi Katie throwing a gang sign, Ashley laughing, Levi in his little smarty-pants picture, Ahren the sweet, calm teddy bear, and PBJ my little firecracker.

So besides the new look, I have nothing. Nada, zero zippo. Life marches on, the holidays get closer, work is work, and that's about it. Gee, I live such an exciting life you all want to be me, don't you!

I will leave you with a joke Katie told me the other night. I have changed it slightly to be more PC.

Two men sitting at a bar were having a discussion. One says to the other, 'Watch, I'll show you.' He then turns to another man at the bar and says, 'I am going to clean up the world. I am going to kill all the lawyers and one clown.' The other man looks at him and says, 'Why one clown?' The first man then turns back to his friend and says, 'See, I told you no one cares about the lawyers.'

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The food battle

No gross pictures for you today. Katie's throat is looking much better. Finally! I don't know if it could have looked any worse, but it definitely is coming around finally. Next up: visit to the ENT to see about having those things yanked.

Levi does not eat very much. He does love fruit and will eat fresh fruit throughout the day, but he just doesn't eat much of anything else. It's a constant battle to try and get enough protein and calcium into him to insure he has what he needs to grow properly. He might act like a monkey but bananas are not enough to keep him healthy. His biggest issue is he will be hungry but after 3 bites he is full and the meal is over.

Here are some tricks I use to get him to eat:

1) frequent healthy snacks- If lunch would consist of a protein, a veggie, and a carb, then I engineer his snacks to encorporate those items and give him cheese at 11am, carrots and dip at 12:30 and crackers at 1:30.

2) sneak in protein- add an egg to a bowl of soup, put peanut butter on toast, put cheese on everything

3) dip, dip, dip- he loves dip, any kind. I make peanut butter dip, cheese dip, sour cream dip, anything I can think of and let him go at it with veggies, crackers, fruit or whatever. I think his main source of calcium lately has been sour cream.

4) add supplements to drinks- I buy a strawberry protein smoothie powder for kids and add it to milk (when I can get him to drink milk) I have also stirred it into ice cream and it is goooood!

5) Tell him he can't have something- I will make a 'special' food and tell him he can't have it, which of course makes him want it very badly. So then I finally 'give in' and let him have some but tell him it's a secret and not to tell his Dad. I don't do this very often but it has been highly effective. Hah! (And everyone thinks he's the smart one!!!)

Why do I worry so much? Because last year when he got the bad stomache flu he ended up in the hospital for a week and almost had to come home with a feeding tube. He just doesn't have enough reserves if he gets sick. He is growing well, taller all the time, he is active and healthy and smart, but if he gets sick, he has nothing to fight with. So if he wants to nibble on our gingerbread house, he can. If he wants to have a bite of my food, he can. And if he says he wants pizza for breakfast and pancakes for supper, he can. (Caramels for breakfast, no, but pizza? OK)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mrs. Crabby Office Lady

I really like our pedaitrician. She is a wonderful, down-to-earth, easy to talk to kind of person. BUT....their office keeps getting bigger and bigger and it is just crazy there now. We arrived 20 minutes early for our appointment. I was thinking that since it was right after their lunch break, they would be on time and we would slip right in. No such luck. We waited for an hour before they called Katie's name. Then we waited and waited to see the doctor. She came in and ordered blood work. We waited and waited and finally I went out and tracked down the nurse. I had to tell her what the doctor wanted and she got the phlebotomist to come draw the blood. Then we waited and waited again and I went and again tracked down a nurse who found the blood count results and took them to the doctor. All in all we spent nearly 3 hours at the office.

The latest diagnosis? The antibiotics are working, keep taking them. She has tonsillor plugs which essentially are large hard plugs of pus and mucus that have solidified in the crevices in her tonsils. Here is a picture of what that looks like (but it's not Katie. She didn't want her tonsils outed in such a public forumn!) She is supposed to work hard at gargling and scrubbing at them with a q-tip to try and get them to come loose. That should help the rest of the pus drain out. We will then see an ENT to see about yanking the darn things.

Katie is ready to take the test to get her drivers permit. Yikes! Just the thought of that makes me flinch. How did my sweet bald baby get so big? So old? So grown up? And how in the world am I ever going to let her drive a car, on the streets, with traffic??? Why didn't anyone ever warn me that this was coming??? (Oh wait, they did and I just didn't listen.....sorry Mom!) So yesterday I sent the form with her to school so they could sign it declaring she was a valid student and therefore qualified to get a license. It is one of many forms necessary to get a permit. More on that in a minute. Katie turned it into the office and then when I went later to pick her up we stopped in to pick it up. This is where I met Mrs. Crabby Office Lady. I asked if we could pick up the form and she looked at me and said, "And you are?" I told her I was Katie's mother and she told me she needed my driver's license. She then proceeded to pull up Katie's info in the computer and scrutinize my license to be sure I was who I said I was. When I finally got my license back I again asked if we could get the form. She looked at me as though I were a pile of stinking dog poo and told me that they required 24 hours notice to complete the form and that I had sent the wrong one. They have their own form they use. I asked her if that meant that tomorrow Katie could pick up the correct signed form. She then asked if we had filled out the request sheet for the form. We told her Yes it was all filled out and submitted that morning. She told us Katie could pick up the completed form tomorrow. She said this as I noticed our form lying on her desk (the one that the Texas DPS gave me and that I had already filled out) next to the stamp pad with the signature stamp to sign the form. Our tax dollars at work.

Speaking of Drivers Ed, permits and such. In our area they no longer offer Driver's Ed as a school course. You have to send your kid to a private course or teach them yourself. But, you can't just teach them how to drive. You have to instruct them with a DPS recognized course and curriculum to qualify. We have purchased the Driver's Ed in a Box version. The first packet is all about how to get a permit. It required us to spend 6 hours of classroom time going over the handbook. They also supply all the paperwork necessary to apply for the permit (one of those being the verification of education form for the school) I have to register with the state to be her instructor. They check my record for this. If I have ever lost my license, gotten a DUI, murdered anyone or been guilty of any number of crimes, then I cannot be her teacher. Luckily I am not (guilty that is). Whew! We need her passport, social security card, birth certificate, last report card, school ID, multitudinous forms stating who she is and what she wants, and a copy of the last 5 years letters to Santa. Plus I have to swear in front of an officer that I am her legal parent and guardian and have the authority to allow her to get her permit. What next? A DNA test? Geesh, it's a wonder any kid ever learns to drive. I wonder if I can convince her that the latest rage is riding a mule around town????

Monday, December 10, 2007

Kangaroo Ranch

Monday. Ugh.

Katie's throat isn't any better than it was 4 days ago, maybe worse. We see her regular doctor today. They need to get this infection under control ASAP. Her tonsils are touching together in the back of her throat and there is greenish/white chunky stuff coming out of them. I didn't go to medical school but I'm pretty sure that is a really bad thing. The one on the left is about the size of a golf ball and you can feel it on her neck as a large lump. She isn't eating either. For me that wouldn't be a problem, but when you have 8% body fat you just don't have any reserves to pull from.

We have been discussing getting some domestic ducks in the spring to live on our pond. Supposedly they make great pets, are good with kids, will lay lots of eggs (I'm not going to do egg duty, no way am I sticking my hand under duck butts) and are lots of fun to watch. Right now it's just a thought. We'll see.

What we really need to get are some kangaroos. There was an article last week where researchers (again with the damn researchers) discovered that the gas that kangaroos pass is not destructive to the environment the way cow flatulence is. In fact, due to their specific digestive processes, the gas is actually good for the environment. I remember when they did the study on cow gas at Iowa State Univ. near where I was living. I would drive by fields of cows grazing, and attached to each ones backside was a gas-collection/monitoring device. The poor cows would look at me with those large brown eyes that begged for me to save them from the horror of it all, and I all I could do was giggle at their fate. (Seriously, what poor student got the joy of connecting the devices and emptying them????) So what we really need are kangaroos on our land. I took the time to look in our subdivision regulations and no where does it say we cannot keep kangaroos. We are good to go! (I wonder what kind of fence we will need....)

Yesterday I was talking on the phone to my folks. I called upstairs to see if anyone wanted to say hi to them, and Levi calls back down, "I'm sorry but I am very busy helping my KK." My heart swelled at how polite and grown up he was!

Then later I saw him doing something and I checked and he had torn up a small piece of blue foam and stuffed the pieces up his nose, and I am reminded he is only 4 years old.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Introducing the newest SuperHero

UnderWear Boy

Note: the undies were clean, fresh out of the drawer.

Nibble nibble nibble

I finally got all the hats and scarves together that I knit for charity and boxed them up to ship out. I tried to make them cute and colorful. Being warm and dry shouldn't have to mean boring wool, but I was hard pressed to find much yarn that fit my ideas. I did find some bright colors and mixed them to get the effect I wanted.

Katie had a large competition yesterday, one of those millions-of-cheerleaders glitter everywhere kinds of competitions. Her squad wasn't competing until almost 9pm last night so we didn't head out until about 4 pm. We left Chris and Levi home since we knew it was going to be a late night. (Good thing we did since Levi fell asleep at 6pm and slept until 6am. He must have been beat!) I had the wonderful luck (much like my luck in adoptions) to sit next to a woman with a cowbell and in front of a man with the loudest whistle I have ever heard. I actually had to plug my ears because it HURT when he whistled. By the time we rolled out of there my head was throbbing and my ears ringing. I think I need to go buy a couple of those air-horn blasters for the next competition, but not to use for the girls. I am going to use them to tame the parents. (For the record, these people were not part of our gym)

Katie's squad took first place, although I could tell Katie was struggling. She ended up pulling up a little short on her longest tumbling run, partly because there was another girl standing in the spot she would have landed her back tuck. By the time we were on our way home her throat was killing her and was even more swollen than the day before. Even so, she didn't drop a stunt or touch down in her tumbling. That kid is such a competitor. Next year she wants to join a traveling international squad. She lives for competition.

Nibble, nibble on my house. Who is nibbling on my house? Apparently a little mouse (or boy) has been nibbling on our house. Oh well, it's not about the house, it's about the memories. These are good memories in the making!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Busy Saturdays

It's Saturday and you all know what that means.....errands, chores, craziness galore! By 11 am we had decorated our gingerbread house, Levi had a haircut and a bath, then we took him to get his picture taken with Santa and picked up all the wrapping paper and supplies I need to begin that phase of the holidays. Chris is at the feed store getting a bale of straw for my strawberry patches and feed for the deer.

He wasn't too sure about Santa. He willingly sat there but he was very nervous and wouldn't talk. I heard Santa trying to talk him into asking for a horse, though. Gee thanks, Santa!

Katie has a terrible case of tonsillitis. It's not a good thing when the doctor looks in your throat and says Oh Boy! I took a picture but I won't gross all of you out with it. Suffice it to say the back of her throat is nasty but she is feeling better already. Thank goodness for antibiotics. She has a cheer competition this evening and she will be there, ready to do her best. She is a trooper!

While I was in the store picking up the wrapping paper, Levi discovered a whoopee cushion. In his loud pipey voice he announced to the whole store, "Look Mom, a FART toy!" and then proceeded to make it fart repeatedly and laugh hysterically. I tried to pretend he wasn't my kid, but he kept calling to me to watch him. At one point he laughed so hard that he tooted loudly and that was so absolutely hysterical that he ended up rolling on the floor. It didn't help that Katie was laughing at him. That just gets him going even more. Just for the record, even though he begged, I did NOT buy the whoopee cushion.

This morning I put a Christmas DVD in to play but it had a big scratch on it and stuck. I looked at levi and asked him if he knew how the big scratch got on it. His answer: "A villian must have gotten it and broken it" Not a bad guy, not his sister, not the dog. A villian. What 4 year old talks like that?

Friday, December 07, 2007

PBJ is doing great!

We heard from the foster family last night and our little PBJ is sitting by herself! Fourteen months old and finally able to sit unsupported. She is also starting to bear weight on her legs a little. They are supposed to send pictures and video later today, and I will update as soon as I get them. She is making amazing progress. They also said they weighed her and she is up to 20 pounds. That is 6 pounds gained since October 6th. She's just about Butterball size now. She hasn't had any more seizures, either, so the medication is working well.

Katie came home with a sore throat yesterday. I got the flashlight to take a peek and what I saw made me want to hurl. Her tonsils were so swollen they were touching the uvula in the middle. They were all lumpy and discolored and so totally disgusting. I am taking her to the doctor today. I think a tonsillectomy is in her future, unfortunately. This is not the first or even the tenth time I have seen those tonsils like that. I don't know how the poor thing can even swallow.

Levi didn't sleep au naturale last night. In fact, he slept in pajamas underneath his spiderman costume. Two layers of clothing. He woke up nice and toasty warm this morning and ready to take on the world. (At least once I unzipped his costume so he could go potty) He didn't mess with the tree at all yesterday, so I told him if he can be good again today that I would start wrapping presents and put them under the tree. But...if he messes with the tree, then no presents under it. He promised he would be good and I am sure he will be.

Now that it gets dark so much earlier Levi and I have taken on some of the chores that Chris was doing in the evenings. When I get home he gets his mud boots on and we let the dogs run, get the mail, put up the trash can, feed the deer and water the strawberries and the new trees. Last night, Levi decided he wanted to wear his OLD boots (2 sizes too small). He worked and worked to get his feet scrunched into them, then hobbled along like an old man with gout. I asked him if the boots hurt and he said No. (I don't know where he gets that stubborn streak. Must be Chris's side of the family...) We finished the chores and went inside, and then the struggle began. He had put the boots on without socks. The boots are rubber and his feet were sweaty. Those boots were absolutely NOT coming off without a fight. We did eventually get them off, but I had to sit on him and pull hard with both hands to do it. He doesn't think he will be wearing those boots again. See how smart he is????

Update: 3 pm No pictures yet....Argh!!!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Silliness all around

Katie's wonderful friend H. told me this story the other night.

They had just built the KFC near our house and H. and her friends decided to go pick up some chicken one night. They pulled thru the drive-thru and up to the speaker, looking over the menu and trying to decide what each one wanted. They sat there for a few minutes and waited, then finally began yelling into the speaker, "Hello? Hello? We're ready to order." This went on for several minutes until finally some one came out of the back door and up to their car. The man, trying not to laugh, told them the store wasn't open yet and only the building crew was inside. They would not be getting any chicken that night. (Can you guess? Yes, H. has blonde hair)

Yesterday Levi beat the living daylights out of our Christmas tree. I think it was personal. By the time I got home, the garlands were askew, the lights all crooked and the angel on top was hanging sideways. I asked him why he did it, and he just looked at me with a blank stare. I told him all about Santa, and how he was being watched. I laid in on very thick about the naughty list and lumps of coal. Later, I heard him telling Katie she had to be good or Santa would bring her coal. At least he listened to me. I hope it helps because the poor tree won't survive another beating and then I will have to admit to my husband that he was right and I was wrong and we should have put the tree upstairs. Nooooooooo.....

Remember how I told you about Ashley and her flailing appendage syndrome? Well she sprained her ankle in the first quarter of the first game and had to be carried off the floor. She had a great attitude about it and was back practicing by the end of the week. She is giving it 150% and I am so proud of her! She made a basket in the scrimmage game this week. But, her best talent is blocking the ball and stealing it from the other team. She is tall and her arms are fast. That's my girl! (Please note that none of my children inherited any athletic ability from me. Maybe that's why they amaze me so much!)

Levi has decided that he wants to sleep naked every night. Stark naked, or as Chris calls him, Nature Boy. Why? I don't have the foggiest idea. He's funny, though. He lays his jammies next to the bed and puts them on before he comes out of the room. Is modesty finally setting in? Or is the house just too cold to be nakey??? I don't know, but at least he has been keeping his underwear on lately.

Last night, while I was washing Levi's hair, I noticed something strange. He has a bald spot on the back of his head. In closer inspection, I can see that a patch of hair has very neatly been shorn off right down to the roots. I guess I didn't notice it since his hair is so blonde and pretty short anyway. I asked him what happened to his hair. Again with the blank look. My theory is the tree fought back.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Smart kids

The Wonderful Elle (link on sidebar) has a 3 year old boy who is scary smart. The kind of smart where it goes beyond making you a proud parent, but the kind that gives you a shiver up your spine when you realize that you need to parent this special child in such a way as to foster their intellect but also their emotional and social maturity. My mother used to alwasy tell me that stupid kids are easier to raise and she was soooo right!

Katie said the word banana, using it correctly, at the age of 9 months. She was reading 2nd grade books before she entered kindergarten. In school she was constantly in trouble for talking and getting out of her seat. We finally figured out that what she was doing was finishing her work quickly then helping all the other kids with theirs. She didn't see why it was wrong to help!

Ashley missed the sum total of 1 question on last years state-wide placement testing. This is one of those tests where over 3 days they test language, math and science skills. One wrong answer. Over 3 days. Last year she corrected one of her teachers during class. The teacher did not appreciate it and Ash got in big trouble. The teacher said she was goping to settle this and took Ash with her to the library where they had another teacher look up the correct info. Ashley was right, the teacher was wrong, and Ash received an apology in front of the class.

Then there is this little guy. His head in enormous for his size. It grew so fast and so big when he was a baby that they sent us to have a CT scan just to be sure there wasn't a problem. Nope, all brains. His pediatrician calls him Jimmy Neutron. He is constantly amazing us with the words he knows and uses appropriately. He also, for more than a year now, has been sight reading words. One day, a year ago, he looked at the headline of the newspaper and read it out loud to his father.

This morning, as I klissed him good-bye he looked at me and said, "If you were unemployed at your work, you could stay home with me." All I could do was shake my head. In fact, I am still shaking my head.

Oh, by the way, that is Levi's natural color. He is not anemic and is quite healthy besides being a skinny little munchkin. He's just inherited my Danish albino coloring. He can thank me later......

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Divorce killing our planet

Apparently, according to a Univ. of Michigan study (no doubt funded by our tax dollars) divorced couples use 70% more kilowatt hours than married couples. Divorced people are killing our planet.

Well, DUH!
How can people who live separately not have higher energy bills? Is it just divorced couples? No, every 'single' person on the planet also uses more energy than those who co-habitate. We paid precious tax dollars to find this out. Many tax dollars. That is insane to me. What is completely transparent to anyone with common sense takes scientists millions of dollars in federal grant money to see. I am a scientist and yet that is completely ridiculous to me! It's time to stop the idiocy!!!! Research should further us, not tell us things that are so apparent. Anyone who condones such research is an idiot, a moron, a failure as a human being. I say this because I AM a researcher. What I do needs to have a real purpose or I am a big failure. Worrying about how much energy I use because I am divorced is NOT an issue. I live with 4 other people. Is that taken into account? Nope. Nuff said. Some research is just stupid and useless. My kids will NOT be attending Mich Univ. No way, No how!

Al Gore still has not contacted me. It's sad, because I have many eco-credits to sell. We use all energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs, our house is so well insulated that even at freezing temps we have not needed to turn on the furnace (even after we got it running) We have been planting trees, bushes, grass and flowers like crazy. We recycle, we re-use, we re-peat everything we can. And yet, according to the eco-calculators, we are not good people. Mostly that is due to the fact that we use a lot of energy to cool our house during the hot months. Hey, we live in Houston. We try to keep it down but there is those 8 months of the year where the temp and humidity kill us.

How many trees and plants do we need to grow to be Eco-Okay? The answer? No one knows. Solving the problem is not as important as pointing the finger, apparently........

Monday, December 03, 2007

Speaking of my childhood....

My sister and I have a game we play that I like to call 'Where in the fridge?' You see, when we were kids everything in our refrigerator had an assigned spot. Seriously! I would have thought this was to cut down on the times we had to be told to 'Quit fanning the refrigerator door' but it went far beyond sheer energy conservation. You see, we lived in the perfect Leave it to Beaver home. My parents never argued. Every cloth hanky was carefully ironed and every bed made to naval standards every single day. We got home-cooked meals and home-grown veggies. Life was very, very good.
The game involves my sister and I (never played it with my brother) stating the name of an item normally found in the fridge and the other one of us declaring it's assigned spot. Mustard? Second shelf on the door, to the right. Cheese slices? Top drawer on the left. Iced tea pitcher? Top shelf on the right in the front. It was a very useful system if the electricity ever went out and we had to locate the butter in the pitch darkness! I am sure you can see the usefulness in this system. (Why us 3 kids never drove my mother insane is probably a better question)
My refrigerators (yes, 2 of them) are a disaster. There is usually at least one mutant life form beginning in the odd container of leftovers. Shelves are sticky, I can't find anything and I often end up with duplicate food items because of that reason. (No jelly? Buy more. Oh, there is the jelly. Oops.) I don't have a system other than to buy it, cook it, store it, eventually discard it. (Hey, at least I don't have to kill it...unless it's one of those mutant life forms I mentioned) My kids aren't enjoying the Leave it to Beaver childhood I enjoyed, but I don't think I am doing any permanent harm. Besides, all the preservatives in their food protects them, right?

Productive weekend

On Saturday, we got up early and began putting up the outdoor Christmas decorations. Just to make the task a bit more challenging, the weather decided to turn hot and windy. Have you ever tried to secure an 8-foot tall blow-up Santa in gusty winds with nothing but a 34 pound kid to help you? I swear I had visions of him floating up into the sky, hanging onto Santa for dear life! (Chris was on the ladder hanging the house lights and mumbling dark words....) We had Max and Jackson out with us and Jackson decided to drop a huge pile of poo right where I wanted to put the angels (Upwind of us of course. Do you know how big a poo pile comes from a 120 pound dog? Yuck!). I placed large plastic candy canes all along the walkway, and while I wasn't looking Levi pulled them out and used them to whap the daylights out of Santa. I got the large blow-up Noel sign tethered and turned on when I realized it was backwards and read 'leoN'. (Leon, the Christmas dude, one of the lesser know wisemen.) Then while I was trying to get the power cords all hooked up, Levi dis-assembled 2 spiral trees so he could use the poles to play Ninja. When I was fussing and fuming, he sweetly looked at me and said, 'Mama, don't be so frustrated.' I had to laugh at that! Seven hours and one trip to Home Depot later and we are sufficiently lit up to be on the Non-Grinchy list.
Then yesterday I tackled the indoors. Being the Christmas-loving sap that I am, I decided that this year we would not place the tree upstairs, where it can safely reside thru the holidays, but instead I re-arranged the living room and placed the tree right in the middle of the action zone. It is covered with over 1400 lights and a myriad of unbreakable ornaments. I know it will get re-arranged many times between now and New Years, but I want to be able to enjoy it. We did place a kiddie fence around it to slow the attacks. Levi is pretty good, he may re-hang some ornaments, but I told him he can.
That reminds me of the story of the 'designer' tree we had for a while when I was growing up. (Dana and Joel, you remember it!) Mom was the wife of a young executive. She belonged to the bridge club and a ladies club. She had her hair styled weekly into the popular beehive and she always wore a dress. One year, from a magazine or something, she got the idea that we needed a designer tree. No more random ornaments or hand-made goodies. No more icicle tinsel and fat colorful lights. Instead she worked diligently to create the perfect tree. Fuzzy balls of gold, green and burnt orange, gold twinkle lights, coordinated ropes of garland and real candles (which could NOT be burned, they were for show!). Us kids didn't even get to decorate it. We got our own little tree in the basement to go all Charlie Brown with. The perfect tree was placed in the living room in front of the huge picture windows. Our tree was the envy of all the neighbor ladies. It really looked like it belonged in Home and Garden. Unfortunately, us kids didn't really appreciate it and after a number of years the designer tree was packed away and we once again had the eclectic, randomly decorated tree. Sorry Mom, your tree really was beautiful!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Pix Post

Trying to be patient.

Enough food for an army!

Why do kids only like white food???? (Except he loves salsa and queso....goofy kid!)

The downside to the feast.