Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dancing for Isaac

I know of a brave little boy who is going through a really rough time right now. Not only did he recently come to America with his new (and WONDERFUL) mother, he also just endured two surgeries to correct a very seriously deformed spine. Before the surgery he loved to dance. The child has rhythm that some of us can only dream about! He is now facing many long weeks in the hospital working hard in physical therapy to first walk, and then to dance.

Until he can dance for himself, we are dancing for him! I will post video once I figure out how to, but until then, here are some shots of Ashley and Levi 'dancing' (which actually means making total goofballs out of themselves).

So Isaac, this is for you. Feel better soon!!!! Now everyone please go visit his blog and give the little man some love while he works hard to walk again.

Sorry this is so blurry, but it tells the first part of this sequence. This is Ashley trying to 'dip' Levi.

Levi was squirming so hard that she dropped him!

And here is Levi getting back up off the floor while Ashley continues to laugh.... Don't worry, he wasn't hurt. That kid bounces!

More 'fantastic' dance moves. Please note that no children were harmed in the making of this montage.

Isaac, please dance soon and save us from these dancing fools!!!!!!

Good news!

I spent several sleepless hours last night between 1am and 4am contemplating how to fix this problem of the mis-spelled names. I came up with a plan of attack. This morning I pulled together electronic copies of all the documents related to the rectification of the birth certificate. I then dug up 2 e-mail addresses for the US Embassy in Guatemala and I sent them a letter outlining this entire situation and attached all the supporting documents. I didn't expect to hear anything back from them until probably next week, but I got an answer within a few hours and it said:

Thanks for the information. I doubt that there will be a problem but I'll have the information in case there is.

Not a problem? Music to my ears!!! Finally, someone shows some common sense. They are getting the DNA done, it will probably be sent to the lab tomorrow, processed next week and hopefully by the end of next week we will have our Visa appointment. I am guessing Aug 15th, but it might be earlier in the week. Or possibly the beginning of the following week.

I am not going to breathe until I have him on US soil. Mama Bear is tired of being blindsided. Time to bring that little guy home and spoil him rotten!!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Just when I could breathe easy

Today we were notified that we were Orange (meaning we had Embassy permission to do the 2nd DNA test and submit it to get our Visa) I contacted the lab, sent all the info and was waiting to get the confirmation we were all set when the bottom dropped out of my world. 

Let's backtrack briefly here. When Ahren was born, the hospital had his name spelled one way on their records but it was spelled differently on his birth certificate. This caused us huge problems and resulted in 22 months of rectification to get a birth certificate that matched the birth records. Once we had the corrected birth certificate we then proceeded with all of the actual adoption steps.

Fast forward to today. I send the orange sheet from the embassy to the lab and they can't find the original DNA results to match the new ones to. I dig out the case number and they pull the results only to discover that the original results are under the mis-spelled names of the incorrect birth certificate. The stupid, moronic, embicilic, add any other nasty adjective, attorneys used the old, incorrect BC to get the original DNA done. 

Now we are being told that the documents will not match and will not be accepted by the Embassy. Even though all the DNA matches. Even though we have the rectification paperwork to show it's the same child. All we can hope for is that someone at the US Embassy has some common sense and sees this for what it is. 

Darian vs Darien -  a roadblock of epic proportions

I am back under my rock. This hurts worse than anything else. So close I could almost feel him....

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Struggle, Cont.

OK, here are a few more things I do to try and stay ahead of the chaos. 

I work full-time at a company about 12 miles from my house. I go in to work early and try and get off early so I have more time in the evenings with my family. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't. I also have computer access from home to work so that I can always catch up on things when the kids settle down for the night (or in the wee early hours when I can't sleep) It helps me balance things and yet not feel like I am short-changing anyone. I run errands on my lunch hour as much as possible. Or, I run an errand on my way home. 

I do all our banking on-line. I can move money around, pay bills, check charges, etc in an instant, any time night or day. Oh boy do I feel powerful!!! OK, I would feel a lot more powerful if there was more money in there, but at least I can pay all the bills and still have a bit of disposable income. Oh wait, school is about to start. Scratch the disposable income part. Ugh!

  I adore/love anything Swiffer. I want to marry them! I use the extended handle dusters and let Levi play Swiffer hockey on the tile. I walk around with a duster in my back pocket to swipe at things while I am cleaning. I use the wet jet to keep sticky spots on the tile under control. It's not what I consider deep cleaning but it sure keeps things under control with a minimum of effort. 

  For deep cleaning I use my Bissel steam cleaner on the tile every few months. It leaves the floors clean enough to eat off of and only takes 1-2 hours to do all the tile (a LOT) I also love my Dyson vacuum cleaner, although now that I know Angel has a Roomba I am thinking that I really NEED one. 

  I don't have a meal plan set ahead of time. I usually like to think about what I want for dinner each day, find out what Chris had for lunch and then choose. I do shop with menus in mind though. I just don't know what we are having on any given night. When I have the chance, I will spend an entire afternoon cooking and freezing meals for use later. I have several good frozen/re-heated recipes that we all like and I will stock away a couple of each for those nights where I absolutely cannot be persuaded to cook and yet a hungry crowd is milling about. 

  I have what I call 'staging' spots. These are points halfway between where I find items and where they need to be. Example: as I find things that belong upstairs, I place them into a basket at the bottom of the stairs. When the basket needs emptying, the upstairs inhabitants (teen-age girls) are responsible for taking all of the items and putting them away. Then again, if I went up and down the stairs a few more times I might actually get in shape. Hmmm.....Naw, not gonna  happen! 

And now, for some 'special' tips. If you let your little boy run around naked you will save so much time on laundry. Plus, if he is always naked it cuts down on extra-curricular activities and unexpected guests! A double-bonus!

Everyone needs a total junk-shoving spot. This is a closet, spare-room or other space where you can shove the things you just do not know what to do with. Don't worry, you can figure it out later. Or maybe just move and not worry about it. 

 In an emergency, such as guests are arriving in 5 minutes un-expectedly, shove dirty dishes in the oven, wipe down visible counters with baby-wipes (smell good) and light a strong good scented candle. Oh, and turn down the lights. Voila, the perfect home!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The struggle to stay organized

Angel at The Voice of Adventure has again challenged us to reveal how we handle trying to stay organized and keep up with multiple kiddos. Although I currently have 3 kids (ages 16, 13 and 5) and will be bringing home a toddler in a few weeks, we also have 2 more munchkins here Mon-Fri that our nanny watches and that also adds to the need to be organized. 

My biggest ally in the organizational battle is the design of our house. We had the luxury of designing every square inch of our house and having it built just for us and our needs. We designed it so that there is an entry off the driveway/garage area that has a large mud-room area, a bathroom and leads into the laundry room.  It's all tile so handles dirt well. The laundry room is big enough for shelves, extra storage, plus a small refrigerator and a small chest freezer.  

In the sunroom/dining area we have a large window seat that Chris built. Besides adding some nice seating area, it provides a lot of storage space for toys.
At the end of the day, you open the lids and scoop toys inside. We used to try and keep toys in kids rooms but that never worked. This is much easier. 
We also have a large walk-in pantry. On one of the low shelves we have a plastic snack tub full of Mommy-approved snackins. This promotes independence and frees me up from constantly having to hand out snacks. I also use these tubs, one for each of the kids who come to our house each day, for their mothers to put their own food. It helps Nanny feed kids easily and also to let their mothers know when they need to be re-stocked. 
We took our old computer, loaded it up with educational kids programs and placed it on a low table for little kid access. This solves 2 issues: 1) No more little kids messing with our good computer and 2) they can help themselves with minimal assistance.
In the mudroom I have placed a large plastic tub that muddy shoes go into. With acres of land and a pond, we see a lot of muddy shoes. There is a small bench next to it to sit on to remove shoes. There is also a small bench outside the door under the breezeway where our rubber mudboots all reside (for the really wet days). 
We have a waist high table for diapering, with all the supplies handy. The basket stores diapers and pullups for those requiring such things. Hand sanitizer, wipes, creams, powder and a toy or two are also handy. Plus, it's easy on the back of the diapering adult. No bending!
Other things I like to do are hang matching outfits together on a hanger, only buy white socks (no searching for the pair that matches) and place socks/underwear and pjs in low drawers where little ones can help themselves. 

For the older two, they either have to do their own wash or they have to present the wash to the laundry room, and then pick it up and put it away. Mom or nanny will do laundry but they are responsible for the rest. Katie mostly does her own.  The main computer in the house is located in a niche off of the living room, allowing parental monitoring at all times. (I'll never forget the day years ago when Katie accidentally clicked something and an ad for a porn site popped up. She started screaming with her hands over her eyes. Luckily it was just a large pair of naked ta-tas and not something worse. She cried she was so upset because she thought she was in trouble. Poor traumatized kid!)

I wish I had more secrets. It's still a constant battle, day in and day out. But we have a lot of fun around here and that's more important!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mom, I'm Bored

It's summertime and I hear this phrase a lot. We try and plan lots of activities that keep their little bodies and minds occupied, but thereis a limit. Sometimes kids just have to entertain themsleves, especially when both parents work.

Late this morning I got the obligatory call with the whine 'Mom, I'm bored'. I rattled off my list of things they 'could' do, knowing full well that nothing I could conjure up would possibly sound like any fun. About 30 minutes later I get a call and I hear Katie on the phone, all breathless and talking so fast I swear dogs couldn't hear her. I finally understood that one of the the horses next door was out and running loose down the street. She had already sent Ashley to alert the neighbors but wanted to know what to do. I told her to grab some carrots and go out and call to it. They are all super friendly and love attention.

You would have thought I told the girl to go catch a wild tiger! OMG, what was I thinking, it might BITE her! Right, it might be a rogue quarter horse that is just cruising the neighborhood looking for a juicy victim to sink it's teeth into.

Ashley gets back and announces no one is home next door. I inform the girls that they need to catch the horse and get it back in the paddock before it wanders into a busy street. Explaining this takes about 10 times longer than it should have because I have to explain how to call a horse, how to loop a rope around it's neck and how to lead it home. Seriously. They have no clue. Ashley is the calm one (she loves horses) and is trying to help Katie wrap her brain around the concept. I finally hung up and am hoping for the best. They are supposed to call me back when they catch it and get it back into the paddock.

The cure for boredom? A good ole fashioned round-up a la city-girl fashion. Oh, and Levi has his cowboy boots on and is ready for action!

Afternoon update: They were not able to catch the turns out it wasn't our next door neighbor's horse anyway. All three of theirs are still in the paddocks. Someone else's horse must have escaped and come visiting. It turns out it was a very good thing they didn't catch it and put it back. Think what the neighbor would have thought when they came tonight and found an extra horse. I am still laughing about it!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

No Good News

Sorry I was so cryptic. Sometimes when things overwhelm me I just need to shut down. I slept the sleep of the dead last night, and then overslept this morning. It's how I react to the really bad things. So here is what we found out yesterday about PBJ's case that sent me into a tailspin:
The new investigator and in fact the whole dept/group he worked in are changing. The new-new investigator has re-opened charges of fraud against our attorney for PBJ's case. They cancelled the re-interview of the birth mom until the attorneys case is resolved. This puts us back to where we were months ago and again we are pins and needles waiting to see if we get a favorable outcome. This adds months to the process and brings back the possibility that the entire case will be denied.
PBJ's case took a turn for the worse.

No news on Ahren's case.

Me? I'm a basket case.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sweet PBJ

This precious little one needs a break! PGN originally kicked her file out and sent it to investigation last September. They took their sweet time completing the investigation, complete with 2 birth mother interviews, but they did finally find everything to be fine and the judge signed off on it. It went back to PGN where it got kicked out immediately and they brought the attorney in for questioning about a document. That court found everything to be fine with the attorney, no fraudulent behavior, and the file again went back to PGN. Where it AGAIN was kicked out and sent to be re-investigated! A new investigator is now assigned the case and they want the birth mother to come in again to be interviewed. I am heading out in a minute to wire the funds to bring the birth mother in. The investigator said if they can bring her in right away, he could finish the investigation in about a month. And maybe, just maybe, PGN will finally accept her case.

Look how big she is getting! What a precious little thing she is.
She had been to a party and in both hands she is clutching candy. She knows what the good stuff is!
I love this picture. All sacked out dreaming sweet dreams (probably of candy...)
And look at our big girl making a mess with her food. How adorable is that!!!!

I really need to get this little pumpkin home. The hydrocephaly from the head injury seems to have stabilized and her head has not grown for quite a while, but the initial pressure and seizures have likely caused some damage. Her head is at 50 cm, which is quite large for her age (way off the charts) so the pressure must have been quite high at that point. (The pressure is what forces the boney plates of the head out so quickly) Luckily, the injury happened before her bones had all fused so they could expand. Otherwise she would be dead. She is almost 22 months now, but developmentally around the 10-12 month level. She understands a lot of words but isn't really speaking. She is growing well and is a happy, happy little peanut, so that is great! I can't wait to see her soon. My precious little angel.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Twiddling my thumbs

Aaack! I always hated the last few weeks of my pregnancies. They seemed to take longer than the whole pregnancy had up until that point. That's the same point I am at now, but a lot more physically comfortable! I can't stand this wait!!!! So close, just a few more days, almost here.....I just want to zip down there, grab him and come straight back. We should have news tomorrow on getting our documents turned in at the Embassy and scheduling the second DNA test. Then about 10 days and we will have our notification of our Embassy appointment. If all goes well I should be travelling in 2 weeks or so. Considering I am about 22 MONTHS overdue, I think I am holding up pretty well!

Conversation between my girls in the store yesterday:
A: That looks cheap.
K: Like you would know cuz you're a millionaire and all.
A: Well at least I am not going to be a stripper when I grow up.
K: At least I have the body to be one.
A: You think.

I quietly snuck around the corner and pretended I didn't know them. (They were laughing while saying these things. Obviously they think they are hysterical....)

Levi was watching a DVD the other day when he announced, "That guy's nemesis is playing the piano." Chris and I both looked at him, wondering if he had actually just used the word 'nemesis', so he explained to us that the nemesis was the bad guy in the movie and gave us the example of Batman and the Joker. Guess he really did use the word, and correctly too!

I took my three kids and a friend of theirs to the DMV and to the mall yesterday. Obviously I am certifiably insane if I did that willingly. I lasted a couple of hours and then forced them all back into the car when my pounding headache threatened to bring me to my knees. (Actually, they were pretty good but my head had been hurting all day already) We got Ashley several pairs of jeans and each of my kids a new pair of shoes, including Ahren. We were in the Van's store, which looks like a skate board park inside, and while we waited Levi put on a show for everyone. He had all of us and several other people cracking up. I think this kid is destined to be the class clown. Oh goody, another one. I just don't know where they get it....

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fawns and Tadpoles and Toads, Oh My!

See the one horned buck on the left? He is very brave. He stands at the edge of the woods and when I call to him he comes forward. I get the bucket of corn and start to rattle it and he will start walking right towards me. As I throw the corn down he comes right up and starts to eat, even though I am only a few feet away. The does and fawns follow right behind but they are a bit more cautious. This is right on the edge of our driveway.

I have seen at least 3 sets of twin fawns and some singletons this year. They are growing so fast. They haven't lost their spots yet but they are starting to eat grass and corn. 
They are so adorable I just want to squeeze them to pieces!

We always have some sort of special project going on around here. This is a worm farm we built to ensure we had plenty of worms to fish with. I read some instructions in a kids magazine and that was it. Two plastic tubs, wet newspapers and a tub of worms from the bait shop and we were all set. The worms seem quite happy and so is Levi!

Another project we just started this week is one of opportunity. Chris and levi saw a bunch of frog eggs floating on the pond so they scooped some up and brought them into the house. They were only in the house for 1 day before they all started to hatch. We have several hundred tadpoles now! The white stuff floating on the water is cornmeal. Just in the couple of days since they hatched they have grown a lot. When they are a bit bigger we will transfer them to a baby pool on the patio and watch them as they grow legs, lose their tails and become frogs. Then back to the pond with them. 

Levi got a frog house for his birthday and before I knew we would have so many home-grown frogs, I got him a Fire Bellied Toad from the pet store. We have had fun catching bugs for him to gobble up. Levi named him Jetson. On his underside, he is bright red with the black spots. He has been a lot of fun to watch. 
Just another day in the burbs. 

Friday, July 18, 2008

Lists, Lists, and lists of lists

I am a list maker. I love lists. I love checking things off of lists. I am a nerd extrodinaire when it comes to lists. Right now I am in list overdrive. I am even dreaming of lists. I wake up at night and run down mental lists, checking and re-checking that I am on track. So here is a partial rundown of the current adoption-related, pick-up trip is soon list. (Note, some of it is not actually adoption related but are things I feel I need to get done before my time is devoted to bonding with Ahren)

1) Get paperwork in order
I-864 form - filled out and copied
last 2 federal tax returns, copied
notarized statement from Chris granting me all say-so in Guat
2) Clothes, shoes, socks for Ahren (in 2 sizes or adjustable) DONE
3) diapers, wipes, disposeable bibs, sippy cups, toothbrush, shampoo etc DONE
4) toddler medicines for fever, colds, lice, scabies, rashes, diahrrea, etc DONE
5) get money exchanged to quetzalas DONE
6) Make list of needed phone numbers and e-mail adresses to have with me
7) Get oil changed in van DONE
8) Get puppy spayed (appt is made)
9) Pack toys to entertain a toddler in a hotel room for several days DONE
10) Dentist appointments for the girls (scheduled)
11) Pick up Ashley's new glasses and contacts (scheduled)
12) Buy and pack lots of toddler friendly snacks DONE
13) Stock up on special dog food for Jackson DONE (how long does 70 lbs last for a 110 lb dog?)
14) Make pediatrician appt for right after we get home
15) Make travel plans, book hotel and flights
16) get prescriptions all re-filled (for me, Chris and the dog)
17) finish Thank You notes from Levi's party (ugh, this one is going to kill me)
18) send donated money to Lost and Found DONE
19) Buy new outfits for PBJ to take to her DONE
20) Clean out desk at work (hopeless....)
21) train others to fill in for me while I am gone
22) Buy and install new carseat DONE
23) Get Katie ready for her mission trip with the church
24) Get Katie to the DMV to fix her messed up permit

There are a million and one other little details that I am obsessing over. That's OK, it is keeping me busy and that is a good thing. If I survive it in one piece.....

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pix do my heart good

I am outta here guys! I'm heading to Texas. (I have a copy of his birth certificate in my hand, oh yeah!)OK, I will try and sit here while you annoy me with that flashy thing.
But you can't make a guy wait around too long. My Momma is coming for me and I need to be ready!
Just thinking about it makes me smile!!!

Cutie Patootie working hard at this walking business. Or maybe she is expressing her opinion on having to wait longer before she comes home???
Can you believe h ow big I am getting? And get a load of my adorable shoes. My foster Mommy has great taste!
Sending you kisses!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Random family stuff

Apparently Levi has been using his toothbrush to scrub something other than his teeth. This weekend I discovered that the bristles were all flattened and it had a funny color to it. (We are using the don't ask/don't tell theory on this one.....yuck) When I was at the grocery store Sunday night I picked him up a new one. I got him an electric one that has a character from Pirate's of the Carribean on it. I prefer the electric ones so that he gets maximum scrubbing while he plays at brushing his teeth. I pulled it out of the bag and handed it to him and his face just lit up. He played with it a minute, then looked at me and said, 'Mommy, why are you so nice to me?'

I gave him a huge hug and said 'Because I love you sooo much!'

The days of being able to show I love him with a $3 toothbrush are growing shorter. So are the magical powers I have to kiss away his hurts and to banish monsters from under the bed. The days where he will wear what I put on him without a fight, let me cut his hair myself and hold my hand in public. My little man is growing up way too fast.

The girls went to their Dad's house on Saturday to spend a week or two. Sunday Levi was crabby and I asked him why. He said he missed his best friend. Oh honey, who is that? He said Ashley. (It varies day to day, but it is always Ash or Katie who is his best friend) He said he needed to hold her hand. That she can make him feel better. I about cried. Or maybe I did a little....

Today we are supposed to get Ahren's new birth certificate. We should have had it last week, but the gentleman who signs them died. I can't complain about a week of extra wait, not when someone lost their life. So today we should have it. They have scheduled Ahren to get his passport photos today and they will apply for his passport later this week. They will also apply to the embassy for the approval to get the second DNA test performed. Once that is done we will receive our emabssy appointment and bring him home. It's about 3 weeks away now if all goes well. Those rabid wolves could still break in and pee on our file so I'm not holding my breath!

I packed Ahren's suitcase this weekend. It still doesn't seem real, and as I packed I thought to myself that at least these were all things I could leave with him. In my mind I still have not accepted that I won't be leaving him there ever again. I am still carefully guarding my heart. I am fearful that about the time I step off the plane in Houston with him it will all hit me and they will have to mop up my blubbering incoherant self. Lord have mercy when those defenses finally break down because I may not let go of the poor boy for a year!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Things I can say NEXT time....

1) Does it hurt to be so stupid?

2) Are you trying to be offensive or are you just ignorant?

3) Well at least my kids are cute!

4) I'm sorry, were you talking because all I heard was an annoying buzz.

Actually, what I have decided to do is send my friend a letter. Here is what I will say:

Dear friend,

I know your friend X didn't realize the impact of her words on Saturday but what she said was terribly hurtful to me. I don't know her but I would like for you to pass along this message for me.

Our son is not stolen nor was he bought from his birthmother. She made a plan before he was born and relinquished him at birth. She has been interviewed once in Family Court early on and again by the final court to insure that this is indeed what she wishes for her child. In addition, she has had to sign off on the case at 4 different times. At each of these interviews and signature points she had the right to reclaim her child, but each and every time she confirmed that this is what she wants for her son. Also, the birthmother and the child had to pass a DNA test early in the process to prove that she is indeed the birthmother and therefore has the right to relinquish this child (not stolen). There will be a second DNA test now to prove that the child is indeed the same child and no switch has taken place during the process.
There have been articles in the paper which you have undoubtably read, but the corruption and crimes only affect a tiny portion of the adoptions in Guatemala. Of course, the bad cases get all the press so that is all you hear about. Did you know that for every 3000 children who are successfully adopted from Guatemala, 30,000 dies from the affects of poverty? The current suspension of adoptions in Guatemala has taken place as they become Hague compliant and work to put more governance in place over adoptions. Cases that were already in process, like ours, have been grandfathered in but have also received an enormous amount of scrutiny as the new system is brought on line. This is one of the main reasons our case has taken so long.
As one adoptive parent to another, I am thrilled that your adoption was fast and successful. That is the way all adoptions should be, but the truth is that your case was the exception and not the rule. Unfortunately our expereince has not been that unusual and as long and painful as it has been, I still would not change it for the world.

You have been blessed with a wonderful daughter and I wish you nothing but the best as a family.


If I can educate just one person at a time, then I will feel like I am making a difference. Our children and our adoptions do not deserve to live under this terrible cloud of suspicion and accusations. Yes, some people did some very bad things and they have made a mess that the rest of us are dealing with. But the children still need families, loving homes, and have the right to live without this stigma.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I should have told her to shut up

In our adoption journey (as in traumatic 3 years) I have rarely run into anyone who was not supportive, kind, curious and pleasant when the subject came up. Until yesterday. We were invited to attend a birthday party for a little boy who our family is close to. The party was awesome. They had a bounce house, a pony cart giving rides and a train that drove around the neighborhood giving rides. This was the kind of kid's birthday party that dreams are made of!

We knew most of the people there. In fact, everyone but one couple and their little girl. I had never met this couple before. My friend Kim and I were standing in the kitchen when she asked me about how Ahren's final paperwork was coming. As I told her, this other woman chimed in asking where we were adopting from. I told her Guatemala and she proceeded to tell me that Guatemalan adoptions had all been stopped because people were stealing babies and forcing poor women to sell their babies. I started to explain that although there have been some problems, it is actually the Hague that has caused adoptions to be suspended for now. (I said this after I picked my jaw up off the ground) She went on informing me of the terrible problems and then told me they adopted thru a local agency and it only took 6 weeks from the time they were approved until they had their newborn in their arms. My poor friend was trying to get a word in edgewise at this point, and I just said 'well our adoption has been the opposite end of the spectrum and we have been in process for 3 years'. I then walked out of the door and away from the house before I burst into tears. 

What I had wished I said was , 'Jane you ignorant slut' a la Saturday Night Live, and then set her straight. I wish I had told her that although she had no doubt read the articles in the news, that there is so much more to the situation in Guatemala. I should have told her that for every 3000 kids that get adopted, 30,000 die from poverty and disease every year. I should have told her that although we have had a long hard adventure, we would not trade it for anything because God led us to these children. I wish I had said that ore than setting out to just add a child to our family, we felt drawn to the children of Guatemala and to making a difference in not only 2 lives, but in many many lives. 

Aw heck, I should have just slapped her.....

Added later.

OK, maybe I over-reacted. My nerves are raw, but whose wouldn't be. We have been fighting for so long, have hurt in ways others who haven't been there can't imagine, and she says it took less than 6 WEEKS to get her baby! It's not her fault. The pain is mine. The raw emotions are mine. The path we chose is our own. Still, we wouldn't change anything. Yeah, I wish it had been easy. I wish I could be obliviously happy and a sufferable know-it-all, but our journey was different. We have learned and grown in ways I never thought possible. Who knew that adversity really was a good thing? 

Obviously, I need to work on my reactions to others. Sigh. Sigh. Siiiiighhhhhhhh.

Then again....oh how much I need to therapeutically slap someone and she did seem to volunteer!!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Colds make me stupid

I have a cold. It's not a horrible cold. I don't feel bad enough to stay home or lie in bed (not that I would get any rest if I did stay at home) but bad enough that I broke down and took some cold medicine. A little later I headed out for an errand and to pick up some lunch. I pulled thru the drive-thru, paid for my food, took the bag and then the cup and straw, and then sat there. The guy inside was busy and after a minute (or 5 or ten) he looked over and asked me what I was waiting for and I said 'my food'. He politely pointed to the sack nestled beside me. Being the super quick wit that I am, I said 'Oh' and drove away. Darn, that was my favorite drive thru and now I can never eat there again......

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Y'all Knew Her When...

I just had to share a couple more. This is my total favorite so far. I can see my Katie in it, but see the woman she will be/is turning into.

And this one looks totally like a Vogue shot, but I can still see a hint of her freckles on her nose.

Now, to totally change the subject.....

I took Ashley to the eye doctor yesterday. She has worn glasses, or SHOULD have been wearing glasses (we have a bit of a compliance issue in this dept) for the past 2 years. Her prescription isn't much, but it is enough that she should be wearing them for distance. This past year she has been getting a lot of headaches and we attributed it to her not wearing her glasses. So I promised her contacts if she could show she would be responsible enough. She did everything I asked her to do to show me she was ready, so off we went to the eye doctor. They did a couple of new tests I had never seen before. One of them involved two images that she had to make come together into one. It has to do with the way your eyes/brain take the two images we see and converge them into one clean crisp picture. Well, she failed it. Apparently she sees everything as two images floating on top of each other. Her eyes and brain constantly strain to put them together, and that causes the headaches she has been having. She also has this odd habit of looking at things sideways, out of the corners of her eyes. She tried to read the eye charts that way. It's her way of compensating to get the images clearer. She says when she reads the words will float and shift on her. It also has messed up her depth perception (which is probably why she has always had eye/hand coordination issues) I asked the doctor what causes this and her answer was that it is commonly illnesses with high fevers during the first year of life, when the eye/brain system is developing and learning to function. Well that describes Ashley's first two years of life to a T. Luckily, it's just a matter of vision therapy to retrain her eyes/brain to bring the images together correctly. In 4-6 months of work she should be fixed good as new. Want to know something funny? Her dad has been really getting on her because she doesn't look at you when you speak to her. She turns her head and glances out the corner of her eyes. He thought she was avoiding eye contact because she was lying! We all feel like big heels right now.....

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The photos from LA

This is probably bad timing to post this now, seeing as how Ashley has issues with getting enough attention and feeling inferior, but we just got some photos from Katie's photo shoot.

The photographer is Marcel Indik, and don't go googling him because I did and about freaked out. He has photographed a lot of celebs like Angelina Jolie, and he takes a lot of really super-sexy shots. Too sexy for a 16 year old girl. I wasn't at the photo shoot, but her Dad was and he said it was all very appropriate. I was still afraid.....
They started out with shots of her looking very natural, then progressed each outfit, hair and make-up to more and more high-fashion looks. Here is the first look.

Katie liked this outfit the best. It was fun, she said. She really liked the hair, too. No idea why she is posed like that, but I am not a professional.
This is my favorite. The copy on here just doesn't do the color of her eyes justice. In the original they are turquoise blue and vibrant.
And the dreaded swinsuit shot. I know, I know, I said you would never see them, but I cropped out her lower half and it's a one-piece suit. See the funky line down the right side? I did that, somehow. Ooops.
This photographer is amazing!!! I can't believe that is my baby girl. I can only say that I am totally freaking out.

Monday, July 07, 2008

No flames here

To the last anonymous poster from my last have a very valid point. She does sometimes read this and I surely didn't mean to hurt her feelings. These are issues we address on a routine basis with her so they wouldn't surprise her. I just don't know how to reach her. I want her to be great. Not just good, not just fine, but the great person I know she can be. I love her to pieces, but I don't understand her sometimes. I try to give her logical consequences for her actions but they don't seem to have any impact on her. She has a completely brilliant mind and I think most of the time she is just waaaay ahead of me. So I am stumped. I really don't know how to get her past these things. Honestly, I think I will have her read it and explain to her how worried I am about it. Maybe the fact the whole internets can help will make a difference to her.

Ashley is a special child. When she was little she often would tell me about the family she had before she came to us. (I gave birth to her) She would tell us all about them. Their names, where they lived, how they talked. She talked about this for years, until it finally just faded away and now she doesn't remember. She has always struck everyone as an old soul in a young body. She just has this aura about her. She was sick for the first two years of her life and had a couple of surgeries and hospitalizations. She is my only lefty, very artistic, extremely smart, has the gift of gab, and is turning into quite the beauty. She is also funny, sparkly and spunky. Although she walked later than most, she decided to ride a bike at the age of 5 and hopped onto a neighbor kids and took off, never falling once. She is sweet and sassy, can argue circles around anyone and can make a grown woman cry with frustration.

Ash, you are awesome and I love you sooo much. I hope you feel that all the way down to your toes every moment of every day!!!!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Parenting Dilemas

I am usually pretty good at managing my kids behaviors. If what I try doesn't work, I get creative and keep working at it until I see the desired change. 

But.....there are a few times where I end up wanting to tear my hair out, punch a clown or run away. There is a couple of issues with Ashley, my creative strong-headed child. One is a minor issue. She is loud. Not just loud, but very, very LOUD. When she was little she had a lot of ear infections and lost some hearing. For a while they discussed hearing aids but after more sets of tubes, sucking the goo out of her inner ears and some other treatments, her hearing now registers in the mostly-normal range. This is why I think she is so loud when she talks. Then again, maybe it is the drama queen part of her personality that drives her to be the center of attention. Being loud guarantees everyone hears her. The problem is she will do this in the car, seated next to me and it is painful! She will also say inappropriate things (she definitely knows better) really loud so that other people hear her and look. I call this issue minor because it is annoying but mostly benign. 

The other issue is she absolutely does not respect anyone else's privacy, space or belongings. I understood when she was much smaller when she would get into my things, play in my shoes, mess with my make-up, etc. Now she is 13 years old and she still constantly disrespects others. her main target is her older sister Katie. Today she had some friends over. I reminded her to stay out of Katie's room. The girls were upstairs getting ready for a party at the church tonight and when I checked on them, they were all in Katie's room and Ashley had locked the door. Tomorrow, when all her friends go on a horse-back riding outing, Ashley will be sitting at home thinking about respecting other people's space. I don't expect that to have one tiny bit of impact on her, though, because I have meeted out enough consequences to bend Napoleon to my will by this point. I guess I will start locking Katie's room just to protect her stuff, but that isn't a solution, just a roadblock. I am at my wits end on this one.

Then there is Levi. He is still as sweet as ever, but suddenly about 2 months ago he began wetting the bed. About once every 10 days he has an accident, usually just before the time he usually wakes up. He is embarrassed and sensitive about it. I suggested pullups and he was mortified. I hate to smash his self-esteem by forcing him into what he feels are baby pants, but it would be nice to not have to strip his bed and wash all his sheets, etc. So why does a child who has been completely potty trained for 2.5 years and who has never had night time accidents before, suddenly have an issue with it? Is it because he is drinking more because it has been really hot the last couple of months? or is it because he is sleeping 11-12 hours night and that is just too long for his little bladder to handle? Or is this some sort of developmental phase he will pass through and I should just ignore?

I feel like I am pretty competent at this parenting thing most of the time. And yet, the little buggers sure keep me on my toes. Each day brings something new. I love it, I dread it, I live it. It will be a miracle if none of my kids ends up in a rubber room. For me, that might be a welcome break......

Thursday, July 03, 2008

So much excitement

I am soooo excited that we have a 3-day weekend and NOTHING planned. I will spend some time getting clothes ready and washed for Ahren, organizing the boy's closet and beginning to pack my suitcases. I am also going to knit, knit some more and top that off with knitting. There may or may not be spontaneous trips to seek out new yarn, but there will probably be much fondling of yarn from my stash. I know, I can hardly stand the excitement of my life. But someone has to be me!

Julia challenged me with listing 5 things I cannot live without, so here goes. (Again, the excitement may be too much for some viewers)

1) Sleep. I have always needed sleep. I can barely function on too little sleep. Eight hours is necessary to me being human. Less than that and all bets are off!

2) Sunshine. Love, love, love the sun. Love to be outside, love to enjoy nature, have to have sunshine to be happy. I think I might have been a lizard in a former life and spent my days lying on a rock in the sun, because I would really love to be able to do that now.

3) My mini-van. It is a giant rolling cup-holder, trash-can and child hauler all in one. I can fit amazing amounts of things into it (gotta love the seats that fold into the floor) I use it to haul garden supplies, groceries, furniture and cheerleading squads. The only thing I would have added is a floor drain so I could just hose the thing out. Let's just say that the $29.99 special at the carwash is something I really get my money's worth from, especially after the traumatic Smothie King accident of 2007 (half melted berry smoothie upside down on the floor).

4) Good water pressure. Our last house had pathetic water pressure, especially in the early morning when everyone's sprinkler system was going off. I like a nice hot, invigorating shower in the morning and having to stand under a wimpy trickle just makes me irritable. Now we have great water pressure and I come out of my shower happy and clean and ready to face the day.

5) Cell phones. How did people keep track of their families before the advent of cell-phones? Our phones are essential to keeping connected. I have even learned to text although I am horribly slow at it. I don't really talk to anyone else on my cell phone, just my family, but without it I am lost. If I forget my phone my anxiety level shoots up and I start to imagine all kinds of emergencies and situations where I am needed and they can't reach me. (You know, because I am just that important....yeah, when they need money!)

So there you go. I warned you. And to think I used to do really exciting things like skydive and travel. Now my biggest excitement is 1 cup of coffee or two......

Oh, and the cakes for the party? I totally did not make those. I heated up the hotdogs all by myself, though!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Time to get real

A good friend of mine has challenged us all to get real. You can read about it at her blog

I grew up in a middle-class suburban family. Dad went to work every day in a suit and a tie, Mom cleaned and ironed and fed us jello salads from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. My parents never yelled. I never saw them fight (although I do remember one incident where mom didn't talk to dad for about 3 days....hee!) When we were little we wore matching outfits my mother lovingly sewed for us (although my sister HATED this, I loved it!) She even made matching outfits for our baby dolls. If it had been any more picture perfect bluebirds would have circled my head.

Fast forward to my home. Chris leaves the house at 4:30 am every day and arrives back home around 6:30 pm. I head out around 6:30 am and walk back thru the door around 5 pm usually. Dinner is not a planned event and with everyone's schedules we rarely sit down at the same time. There are sticky spots on my tile floor, the carpet has been cleaned twice this year and already is heading back to disgusting, there are sticky fingerprints everywhere. Last night I noticed there is a big cheese smear on the TV screen. The only reason I noticed is it interfered with the picture in a way that annoyed me! The kids broke the gate across the foyer, the brand new gate intended to keep Baby Holly (who Nanny also watches) from scaling the stairs. I picked up 7 (count them 7!) half empty cans of soda (we don't usually have soda around but it's leftover from the party....) Katie decided to do laundry at some point but left a load in the washer for who knows how long. Ashley let Levi put make-up on her. The deer ate all my strawberries, watermelon and cantaloupe plants and the tomatoes got forgotten a couple of days and shrivelled up in the heat. Someone spilled sweet tea inside the refrigerator and left it.

But, there is no yelling in our house (except mostly happy, fun loud noises) The kids are all doing great. The house is still standing. No one has drawn blood for a long time. We even have bluebirds, but they stay in the bluebird house in the back yard and don't seem inclined to swirl around my head.

I am full of self-doubt most days. I am also exhausted, grumpy, impatient, disorganized and generally in scramble mode. I am also very blessed, happy, proud and loving it all. All I can say is I keep trying every day to be better, to do better and to align my life with what the bible has taught us.

So welcome to my imperfect life!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Random stuff and junk

Chris's cake, complete with metal John Deere tractor that looks just like his real one.

One of the four little pools we had to play in, plus water guns.
The bounce house/water slide combo.
Katie's cake. Doesn't it look like something out of Dr. Seuss??
Levi's cake, keeping with the beach theme.

The party this weekend was fantastic. The weather mostly cooperated and the bounce house/waterslide combo was a huge hit. We ended up with many very tired and happy kiddos at the end of the day. I didn't get many pictures because I was just too busy having a good time! We collected about $250 for our missionary friends in Guatemala who have dedicated their lives to helping orphans there. Don't worry, levi still had quite a few presents to open and he was happy as a clam!

Chris wired the last part of our payment to the attorney in Guatemala last week, and ironically it got all the way to his bank but not into his account. He could tell it was there but not get it. Is it wrong that I think this is really funny? How's that for karmic boomerang!

I picked up buffalo wings for the girls for dinner last night. As they sat there eating, Katie suddenly gasped and grabbed her face. Somehow she had managed to splash buffalo sauce in her eye. Yikes! Don't worry, she was fine in a minute after her eye watered enough to wash it out. But I have to did she manage that?

Levi is officially 5 years old. My baby...wah! He used the word 'imposter' the other day, so I asked him what it meant. His answer: someone who pretends to be someone else. He scares me....

This summer, my work group has 2 interns. Two really, really good interns that are cranking out major amounts of good work. Of course, that doesn't prevent us from tormenting them. Or pulling pranks on them. Bwah hah ha hah...... work is a lot of fun these days!