Thursday, October 30, 2008

Random kid stuff

I had forgotten how hard it is to shower when you have two little ones on the loose. I have now perfected the 4-minute shower. Here are the rules:

1) soap left in forgotten spots is just a head start on the next shower, whenever that might be
2) by rotating which portion of your legs gets shaved on any given day you will always be mostly hair-free (and besides, winter is coming and I can use the insulation)
3) nicks and cuts are totally in style these days
4) shampoo not well rinsed out of your hair doubles as styling product

While my folks were here I took advantage of them watching the boys and jumped in the shower for a good long soak. It was HEAVEN! I shampooed, I conditioned, I exfoliated, I dawdled. Finally, I was ready to step out of the shower and return to civilization. I took one step out the door, realized Levi was standing there, and then listened to him scream 'Naked Woman' over and over again as he ran back through the house.

Note to self: Lock bathroom door!

Ahren has been sick for a couple of weeks. First he had a cold, but then it settled into a sinus and ear infection. At the same time, he went through a period of constipation. We tried several things but he was still having trouble. Then we decided to try Activia, the yogurt that is supposed to help with this issue. It really seemed to work! And then (you know it can't be that simple at my house) Tuesday he got into the fridge and wanted yogurt so Nanny fed him some. Then some more. And some more. Three cartons of the stuff. Anyone want to herald a guess about how this ends????? Let's just say that constipation was NOT an issue the next day. And Nanny got to do extra laundry of the decidedly disgusting type. I hid the rest of the Activia.

Ahren is finding more and more american style foods he likes. He tried pizza the other day and ended up eating 3 pieces. (That kid can EAT) Last night he had a complete meltdown when I took him out of the bath tub. The scalded-monkey screaming, arched back, hard to hang onto type of fit. I was holding him wrapped in his towel trying to calm him down and then I said a magic word. (I didn't KNOW it was a magic word until I said it) I said the word.......cereal. And he immediately quit crying, calmed down and was happy. Cereal. Can you hear me scratching my head?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Once again I am having issues uploading pix to blogger. Ugh! I did get these two in, though. Ahren took about 10 minutes to warm up to my folks and then he was in one lap or another the whole visit. He is definitely the little charmer. It was almost surreal to see my Mom rocking him and my Dad playing cars with him. I have imagined that for so long that seeing it for real is amazing. We were supposed to travel to Missouri to see all of Chris's family the weekend that Ike hit. Obviously we didn't make it. We need to re-schedule that so Ahren can get to know his other grandparents too. Grandparents are special. Very, very special.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Catching Up

We have been having a wonderful time with my parents here. I will post more about that this week. For now here are some pix from the recent weeks.

What happens if you put (hypoallergenic, tear free) bubble bath in the tub and turn on the jacuzzi jets? 
Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles!!!

Potty training continues to go extremely well. I can't actually call it training because he is doing it himself. He wants to do everything Levi does and he is just copying the potty routine. he is dry all day every day and working on the poo-poo thing. His timing is a little off still in that aspect. He has also discovered Levi's underwear, which he demands to put on all by himself! 
Isn't that cutest little hiney you have ever seen????
Ahren's personality continues to expand and amaze us all. He is so happy and loving. He is also a normal 2 year old, which means tantrums and such, but just the fact that he is so completely normal is enough to make us rejoice! 
Doesn't he just shine? And I swear I combed his hair! I did, I did!!!
What is it about an empty box that makes kids and cats want to climb in? 
Brothers, so different and yet so much alike. They really seem to adore each other (most of the time) and entertain each other for hours.
Ahren and Daddy making music one lazy Sunday morning. 
I have finally gotten my feet under me. Things feel much more normal now. I am still running around like a chicken with my head cut off, but in a good way. I no longer have to fake a smile, it is coming naturally. (Seriously, for a while there I had a fake smile plastered on my face thinking I would just fake it until I could make it) It's not that I wasn't thankful, or enjoying it all. It just was so overwhelming. The emotions hit me like a freight train. I had boxed up all the emotions for so long during the process and couldn't process them while in the middle of it. Then once we actually brought him home, it couldn't be contained any more. The bad emotions had to be released. Now I feel so much better. Yes, the process was torture, un-fair and beastly. But it is OVER for Ahren and we have him. Forever and ever. He is OURS. I can finally breathe. 

Except for PBJ. But I have a sense of peace about her now. We will just wait. Her future will be revealed to us in due time. And we can handle that. But any prayers anyone might want to throw her way would be very much appreciated!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Homecoming and Visits

Saturday was Homecoming around these here parts. After running around and stressing all day over the audition, Katie then headed to a friends house to get dressed for the dance. I didn't get to see her all dressed up, but she did give me this picture. Can I just say that never, even in my wildest dreams, did I ever look this good. 

My parents are here visiting, so I won't be posting as much, but I promise a lot of pictures and funny stories next week. 

Saturday, October 18, 2008

God's hands in strange places

My last post was based on what I consider to be a real live act of God. Why did God choose that child and that journey for that family? Because they are special. God knew this and trusted one of his angels who would have such a wrenching journey to the people he knew he could trust to be there for her. Not just any family would be able to weather the journey. Not just any family would dig deep enough in their faith to make it through. Only a very special family would do for such a precious angel. 

There is another act of God that has touched our lives lately. It didn't come to us through the normal channels, but instead through a casting call for Katie. A few weeks ago we received an e-mail announcing a casting call for the lead in a movie. I ignored it for a while, not because I didn't think Katie would be interested, but frankly because I was so overwhelmed with other things that this got turfed to a back burner. By chance, I happened across the e-mail earlier this week, and this time it caught my attention. It is a movie about Bethany Hamilton, the 13 year old surfer who in 2003 was attacked by a shark and lost her left arm. She has gone on to compete internationally in surfing, started several charities and written several books. She is incredible. She accepted her loss and never looked back. Instead, she became stronger in faith, spirit and devotion as a result of her loss. If you read about her life, you will see God's hands all over the place. 

I decided to go ahead and submit Katie's information. I sent it on Tuesday and the end of the open casting call was Thursday. On Friday I received a call that the producer would be in town on Saturday and they wanted to audition Katie. (OK, about that time I was trying not to pee my pants and was covered in goose bumps) Um, yeah! We will be there. So today we travelled to downtown Houston and Katie got to audition for the lead in a major motion picture. In front of the producer and casting director. She had to do two scenes and be interviewed. Amazingly, she wasn't really nervous. She thought it was great fun and a learning experience. She doesn't think she will get a call back, but you never know. The movie films in Hawaii starting in January. She would have to learn to surf, which I imagine will take her about a weekend given her athletic abilities. 

So what do you think, does she look the part?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Do you know who this is?

I will give you some hints. I met her for the first time exactly 2 years ago today. She lives in the orphanage that is associated with Ahren's facilitator.

She stole my heart along with the hearts of quite a few others I know.
Her sister Hayle has been waiting for her ever since she can remember!
She is a precious, precious child who I have prayed many prayers and cried many tears over.
Here she is looking at photos of her forever family. See that smile!

Please join me in shouting a great big YAHOO for the newest member of the Z family
who has been waiting for Little L for almost 4 years. This is a very special family. They never gave up, even when they felt helpless and hopeless. Their deep faith and strong love for this child kept them going. They never gave up. Four years.
Four years.....
God Bless them!!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Barn Raising the Newfangled Way

We are finally getting our barn put up. It has been a long, drawn out process. First Chris visited many different barn manufacturers. Steel frames, wood frames, pole barns, kits, etc etc. Who'd have thought barns came in so many varieties? Then, once he found 'his' barn people, he had to pick the size, height, doors, color, roof, covered patio, etc. After that, we had to submit the plans to the homeowners association and wait for approval. They rejected it the first time because we didn't have a drawing depicting all 4 sides. Got more drawings, re-submitted the next month and finally we were approved. After that, we ordered the barn and it took several months for the pieces to get manufactured. Finally, they are putting it up now. 

The deer gave the barn two hooves up!
If it looks really large, well, that's because it is. The measure of a man is the size of his barn!
My boys helping with chores around the house. I love them sooo much!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Life in the countryside

Yesterday started like any other day. Wake up, shower, dress, etc etc. At 6:30am Nanny comes through the door, only she isn't her normal chipper self. She is hobbling and in pain. Her knee is all swollen and terribly painful. Change in plans! I will work from home and help her out with the wild indians.

Mid morning, she mentioned a couple of things we needed from the store, so Levi and I decided to head out to get them. We merrily hopped in the van and off we went. As we apprached the major intersection near our house, strange things started happening. Police officers were running through the road with guns drawn. A large pickup truck was parked on top of a small black car. A man in handcuffs was lying on the ground. Cars were stopped at crazy angles all over the place. This is the country, the suburbs of the suburbs. The biggest news around here was when a local boy won Grand Champion at the Fair.

I cut over into a turn lane and got the heck outta there. Thirty minutes later, as we came out of the store, we saw Life Flight hovering overhead and I assumed it had to do with the wreck. It hovered for several minutes then took off in a different direction. Interesting. We loaded up and headed home.

We got back to the intersection (only way to get home) and now there are 30 plus cop cars (I am NOT exaggerating) there is crime scene tape strung all over the place. There are CSI type people marking spots on the road, taking pictures and making measurements. There are news helicopters overhead and news crews set up along the road. The police direct us around the tape and we head home to turn on the news.

Here is an aerial shot of what we first saw.

Turns out they tried to do a planned stop of a wanted felon and he tried to run. People in his car began firing at police, who returned the fire. They ended up shooting all 4 people in the car and killing the driver. As you can see, the car ended up ramming itself under the big truck. (I wonder what the heck the person driving the truck thought as the police were chasing and shooting and wham, they were in the middle of it!)

The other half of the story is that one of the news copters crashed while covering this story killing 2 men. That's why the Life Flight copter took off in the other direction, to respond to the crash.

So for one day life around this quiet community was pretty exciting. A little too exciting. And we got a little too close to it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to

Yup, it's my b-day today. Don't ask how old I am because I believe in the strict 'don't ask don't tell' policy. But, I will tell you that I got a new set of Wolfgang Puck stainless steel cookware (Chris), a new cook book (the boys) and a new purse (Katie and Ash) and I am thrilled. That makes me 'mature' to be happy to get cookware. Read into that whatever you will, but good pots and pans and a new cook book are like legal crack to me. 

I have spent the day lounging in satin pajamas, sipping mimosa's and enjoying a massage, pedi-mani and facial.


 Actually I have spent the day shampooing carpets, cleaning out the refrigerators, steam cleaning tile and doing laundry. Oh, and I made a couple of dozen breakfast tacos and froze them for the upcoming weeks. Reality sucks, but it's my reality and I asked for it. I did order pizza to be delivered for dinner and that's a rare treat around here. I plan on pigging out. OINK!

Right now Chris is at church, Katie is off volunteering with a group that spends time with teenage foster kids helping them to find their way in the world, Levi is watching Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (awesome video series based on the books) and Ahren is running around wearing underwear (backwards) and cowboy boots.  Oh wait, he just took the underwear off and placed it on his head. He is soooo much like Levi it scares me! (And now he brought me underwear to put on MY head...which of course I am wearing ;-)

Happy Birthday to ME! Now where did I put that bottle of wine......

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

No Whining Today (at least from me!)

So, yeah, things aren't as rosy as I imagined, but they are still pretty darn good. I have to remind myself to not be such a perfectionist, to enjoy the little things, and to cut myself some slack.

Today I am going to talk about a topic near and dear to my heart. Food. But not just any food. Food of the Midwest. (Mom, turn away now. I am going to skewer the family cookbook) There are only 3 seasonings allowed in Midwestern cooking. Salt, pepper and garlic powder. Oh, the occasional dehydrated onion might appear, but that is abby-normal. All good casserole dishes begin with a can of cream-of-something soup. Start with the soup, add in any combination of meat, potatos, noodles or exotic ingredients like vegetables and voila! A hotdish to feed the family. A favorite is tater tot casserole. Cream of mushroom soup, hamburger, and tater tots, topped with some cheese and baked to yummy gray goodness. (Oh, and if I hadn't mentioned it, most Midwestern recipes are totally lacking in color)

Except for the Jello! Here color variations abound. Did you know that Jello is much more than a dessert? Why yes, it is! And what makes it rise to the super-side-dish category? Why a jello mold! If you knew this you get 10 points (which are completely useless but sounds good huh?)

How creative can you be with solidified neon gel? How about nuts and olives? Cabbage? Mayonnaise dressing? Shredded carrots and raisins? Cottage cheese? I've had them all and a few more that I can't even tell you WHAT was in them! Look at this one. Onions? With jello? Eeew.

And what exactly is this? Pimento loaf jello surprise? (Kudos to this website for the cool pix and a lot of laughs!)

Another favorite dish I remember from my youth was Porcupine Meatballs. Now don't get worried and go all PETA on me. No real porcupines were harmed in the making of these meatballs. The term comes from the fact that there is rice in the meatballs and it sticks out sort of like porcupine quills. This isn't a very good picture, but hey, that's what they looked like. This may be the beginning of my long-standing hatred of all ground meat.

Then again I think Swedish Ham Balls, a great traditional Christmas food, are to blame. I can't find a picture but think of grayish pink meatballs (they contain ground ham and pork) cooked in a mustard/sugar/vinegar sauce to chewy perfection and often served with some sort of preserves. They made me wish I was Jewish.

Ok, Ok, I might have exagerated a little. Or maybe not. My Mother is a wonderful cook. If you ever get the chance to try her Dane Dumplings you will want to marry her. But food in the midwest when I was growing up? It was...umm, ......interesting.

Krystal - those are the doorknob cover we have and Moose boy is getting them open. I had to grease the doorknobs underneath. I am seriously considering barbed wire.....

Thanks to all the kind words. You all are the best! Even when I am a mess!!!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


It's time to get real. Yes, things with Ahren have been awesome. He has melted right into our family like he has always been there. He is happy and funny and loving and adorable. He is also 2 years old and with that comes a lot of work. I am sooo tired.

First, let me start with the things we have done right to make this adjustment better. We talked a lot with Levi and the girls about what it would be like. What we expected each of them to help with and what we thought the hard parts would be. We prepared them as best we could. I learned as much Spanish as I could, focusing on the adoption phrases in the book/CD that wonderful Kim sent me. I can't tell you how much that helped! We sent pictures of us to Ahren and his foster mother showed them to him every day and called us Mommy and Poppi to make him familiar with us. We cacooned for the first weeks, going few places and taking it easy. I made foods as similar to what he was used to as I could. We made sure he got enough sleep every day. I carried him as much as I could. I fed him his meals. It was my face he saw last thing at night and first thing in the morning. I think all of these things helped.

What I wasn't prepared for was how HEAVY this kid is! I am physically exhausted after carrying him, dressing him, playing with him, putting him in his carseat. I have strained my back and one arm hefting him around. I was trying to toss him in the air and I just about ruptured myself!

He is still falling and crashing into everything. He did a lovely 3 point landing (2 knees and his head) on the cement the other day. He hit hard enough that the texture of the cement was embossed into the bump. He has gained a lot of strength in his upper legs, but his lower legs are still wobbly and loose-jointed.

When he gets really mad he bites me. Or tries to. I have figured out the look right before he is about to bite and have been stopping him. We will have to see if this is typical 2-year old behavior or something more. He seems to be responding to the re-direction and consequences, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Ahren has shown himself to be a Houdini. He has learned to turn the dead bolts and open the doors, leading his band of merry tots on wild adventures into un-charted territories. I placed door knob covers on those doors and he figured out how to use them. He has enormous meat-hook hands and gets the doors open quick as a wink. I ended up greasing the inside of them until I can get something else to keep everyone safe. (And now I can't open the doors....great)

I am back at work 3/4 time and it is stressing me out. I feel so guilty, especially when I have to leave in the morning and both boys are crying. (That happened yesterday) I know that before I am even out of the driveway they are over it, but I'm not. Mommy guilt. Ugh.

I also wasn't prepared for the emotional aspects of his coming home. I have wanted this child for years and now I find myself wondering what was I thinking? I am too old for this. I can't do this. Why am I not happier, over the moon, on cloud nine every day? My dream has come true, why am I struggling? How un-grateful can one person be? I have my miracle and yet I am still not happy? What the heck???? Did this horribly long and painful process steal all of the joy out of this? What is wrong with me???????

P.S. Friday is PBJ's second birthday. The foster mother and I had been planning a big party for her.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Finally, I got some pictures to load! It took several hours yesterday, but Voila! The trick is to just walk away and ignore the computer, as opposed to my smacking it upside the hard drive!

Silly boy, loving his boots. He was dry all weekend (except while he sleeps) but keeping underwear or a pullup on him is a challenge. He runs around yelling 'Makey' (nakey) in his all-together.

Our dear friend Kimberley brought Ahren a coming home present. It included this really cool foam rocket launcher. You stomp the air bag and it sends the rocket flying. Chris taught Ahren to use his bottom to get more power. He now does a lovely butt-flop on the air bag.
They quickly figured out they can aim it and proceeded to attack all unsuspecting sisters!
Hmmm, I think he might be a little big for the swing. Did I tell you that he came in at the 80% on the American charts?
Katie gave Levi some candy that happened to be Extreme Sour Pucker something or other. I laughed so hard, but I got my picture first!
This is why playing in the sandbox while still wearing a diaper is NOT a good idea. Ouch!!!!
Levi kissing Ahren. Ahren is letting him but keeping one eye on cartoons.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Ramblings

Well, for the most part, I have nothing for you. I can't get photos to load this week. There were no catastrophic weather events. Just plain old family and work life. So instead here are some snippets and some thoughts from this week.

Ahren continues to pee in the potty regularly. He even poo-poo'd in it once this week. We cheer him on but don't push. He just wants to do what the other kids do and it's working. I would post the most adorable photo of him and Levi in boxers but there is that photo issue. Plus, pix of kids in their underwear on the net is kind of ....eeewwww!

Swimming lessons are going swimmingly! Ahren is loving them now and gets so excited to go every Thursday. He can float on his back with only slight support under his neck. The place we go is indoors, heated and totally caters to kids. They have separate classes for kids afraid of the water or not, by age and by skills. They also have lessons for kids with disabilities. Each class is very small. The mommy and me class is 6 max, then 2-4 kids depending on age, etc. They work very hard to teach safety above all else. Ahren is learning to jump off the side, swim back and climb out on his own. He is also learning to get back on his feet if he falls down in the water, to hold his breath when he goes under, and to flip on his back and float if he needs a breath. This is also the same place Katie is now working as an instructor and Levi has been taking lessons. It has been a terrific bonding experience with Ahren and a great confidence booster for Levi!

We bought a used Honda this week for me to commute with. Now Nanny has the mini-van, fully equipped with carseats, so she can run kids back and forth to school, etc. Yesterday was the first day I drove the new car to work. I got off at noon, picked up Levi and headed to the grocery store. When we came out, I couldn't find the car. I started to panic thinking someone had stolen it and then I remembered I drove the new car. Sometimes I am soo blonde!

I hate politics. So little of what the elections are about is what is good for the nation and good for us as it's people. Instead it is a giant Jr. High-ish he-said/she-said, whose friend are you kind of game. Don't get me wrong, I pay attention and will vote. I just don't like the games, the double-talk, and the non-answer answers. By the way, I did watch the VP debate last night and I have to say I have never laughed out loud at a debate before!

I am pretty much an open book. My life is out there for all to see. What you see is what you get. But, there are a few things I absolutely will not discuss with most people. Politics, religion and my marriage. I vote, I believe, and I love my husband with all my heart and soul. End of story.

I really enjoy cooking for my family. I really enjoy cooking period and having people to feed is just a bonus to me. After Hurricane Ike sent us into a tailspin (we came off of boil water restrictions last week and are still having difficulty finding cold/frozen foods) I decided that something had to give. I found a place called Mom's Secret Chef that makes home-made meals ready to pop in the oven. Nothing fancy-schmancy or ultra-gourmet, just down-home food cooked fresh. I went and got a couple of dinners and we tried them. The cost was amazingly low and the food was Yummy! Meatloaf and mashed potatos, chicken and bowtie pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, pork chops, etc etc. I went back and picked up some more and have them in the freezer ready to pop in the oven several nights a week. Talk about taking a load off of Mom! The only downside is they make better lasagna than I do.....but I can live with that!

Have a great weekend everyone!!!