Friday, November 28, 2008

And some more on thankfulness.....

I am ultimately thankful for those that I love, that love me and that mean the whole world to me. My in-laws, who are awesome. My parents, who mean everything to me. My sister, who I never really knew until we were adults, and my brother, who I don't talk to often but think about all the time. Their families, too. And my Aunt Judy and Uncle bill, some really special people in my life. 

Looking Sexy
More Looking Sexy
All together now, Look Sexy!
Pure joy. My joy.
I have al ot more to be thankful for. So many, many things. My co-workers, my boss, my friends, so many many people who mean so much to me. Just let it be known, I am thankful for each and every one of you, whether mentioned by name or not. 

I know that only Americans celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving. Supposedly it originated when the Pilgrims sat down to dinner with the Native Americans to celebrate the bountiful harvests of the year and the fact that they had once again managed to survive in the new land. I have my doubts as to the origins. It may have actually been the first Hallmark ancestors who started the holiday, but I have no proof. What I am trying to say is that even if it is a made-up holiday only celebrated by one nation it is a concept that should be celebrated by every human being every day. I have to admit that I am guilty of not counting my blessings often enough. I take for granted that I live in a place so blessed. Hurricane Ike taught me some lessons. Visiting Guatemala, the countryside of Guatemala, taught me more. I still have a lot to learn, and even more to be thankful for. So for everyone who doesn't have a State mandated holiday that tells you to be ahead of the curve and figure it out yourselves. Being thankful is not an American trait. We are usually so selfish and self-absorbed we have to have a HOLIDAY to remind us of our blessing. Geeshh.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful cont.

This may take me several days and several posts....but only because I have so many things to be thankful for that run around my house and demand things like being FED. Hah!

Opportunity. It was my great opportunity to be able to pursue adoption, to achieve parenthood, to have the true LUXURY of choice in my life. The opportunity to pursue many things. 

Education. And I don't just mean degrees, although those were very important to me and I worked hard to finish while also working full time. But education in the every day sense of the word. People constantly amaze me and I have learned so much about how truly good some people are and how truly bad some people are. I have learned way too much about the ugly side of people. Greed, self-importance, lying, cheating, stealing, and downright nastiness. Why in the world would someone be mean just because they can be? I am stymied by that one. 

Health. Good health. Energy to keep up with small boys who seem to run on energizer batteries. Energy to keep up with teenage girls who can shop for 10 hours straight and still want to visit one more store, pleeeeeeze. Energy to attempt to keep a house clean when it seems like the best idea would have been to have cement floors with a drain in the middle and a giant flush lever. 

Home. I have moved a lot in my adult life. I've lived in Iowa, Phoenix, Dallas, and now Houston. I have lived in several houses in each state, too. Most of them felt somewhat homey, but not the same sense of a safe HOME that this house feels like now. Maybe it's because I know we are here for good, or maybe because we designed it to fit us, or some other intangible. I don't know. I do know the girls say they like this house a lot better than our last one. We have 3.5 acres, a pond, a barn, space. It's very quiet. We are at the end of a cul-de-sac at the top of a small hill. Candy- we can have 1 horse per acre and there are plenty of lots left and some horse properties already built that are for sale.  Some right around the corner from us! (hint, hint)

More later. I have a date with a turkey now. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I will start listing all the things I am thankful for today, and hopefully finish tomorrow. It's a long list, one I think about often. A long time ago, a lesson my hubby and I taught to a Sunday school class stuck in my head. The lesson was about how God was all around us, even in the littlest ant crawling across the ground. How God existed in the smallest of kind acts, just offering a thirsty person a glass of water. It's not the big, grandiose things that should have meaning, it's the little every-day miracles that we tend to not notice that should be celebrated. That lesson has really stuck with me.

So, here are some of the things I am thankful for in my life:

Hope. There have been so many times when hope seemed lost, and yet, it still blossomed in my heart. Maybe it was foolish and maybe it was a lost cause, but i still HAD hope.

Faith. Not faith in the religious sense of the word, but faith at a deeper soul-based level. I do not have faith in the church-going, offering-plate, wearing my Sunday best kind of way. I have faith that is there as my companion at the darkest of moments, the bleakest of times, the most painful days. The kind of faith that reassures me that in the end, all will be right. However it works out, it will be OK and I can be Ok about that. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Just in time for the holidays

Guess what I got for the holidays? A big pimple! Right on my cheekbone. Come on! I am too old for this!!! Thank goodness no one is coming over to celebrate with us. They might run screaming into the night.....

Today was Levi's Thanksgiving celebration at school. Being the Mom that is Mostest, I realized last night that I was supposed to send food with him today. Thanksgiving style food. Not donuts. Panic mode set in. Wait, I cooked a free turkey this weekend and have the meat safely packaged away in the freezer. Pull meat out and thaw. Score! But what else.....I dug around in my pantry and found a bag of seasoned bread cubes for stuffing. Hey, when did I get these? I can't remember but dried bread can't go bad, can it? i poured melted butter and chicken stock over it, placed in a dish and threw it in the fridge. Voila - stuffing! Ashley went to the party as Levi's family and Nanny warmed up the food for her. I got a call 30 minutes before the party. Nanny said, 'Your stuffing is awfully, awfully dry. What should I do?' My answer, pour some more chicken broth over it, warm it up and send it off. Some of  it came back after the party and nanny threw it away. She explained that it really wasn't very good. Gee, and I tried so hard...... NOT.

Ashley is 13 years old but very tall. She must be 5'9" now. And gorgeous. As I mentioned, she went to Levi's Thanksgiving feast at school. Now, I look at her and see my little girl, but apparently that is not what other people see. Levi's teacher told her it was so nice that she came home from college just to be with her little brother. Then a couple of mom's were overheard discussing whether she was Levi's Mom or sister! Ash was 8 years old when Levi was born. Eight!!!! Then on top of it, the other Mom's acted like stepford wives and totally made arses of themselves. So bad that a ,13 going on 30 year old, noticed. Nice!

So Thanksgiving dinner at our  house is all me. I cook it all. This year it will be just us. The 6 of us. Everyone has their favorites so I will be making more dishes than you can count. Katie wants corn casserole. Ashley wants sweet potatoes. Chris wants homemade noodles cooked  in turkey stock. Levi wants rolls. Ahren, well Ahren eats anything so he wants it all. Or so I am guessing. Me? My favorite is stuffing. Stuffing with gravy. Yum yum yum. And cranberry jelly. So I will have both ovens going full force on Thursday and both refrigerators full. Life is good!!!! (Has anyone else noticed that Thanksgiving is a carb-fest???) 

Good night to all. Tomorrow I hope to post about what I am thankful for...but then again I think you all know what I am thankful for. I love them all so much.......

Ashley is my favorite child.
i love her more than all of the rest of them.

Note" my blog was bogarted by my second child. But I agree, she is my favorite Ashley of all time!!!!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pix of our QUIET week

You heard right! Quiet. No blood clots, no thieving, no lawsuit threats, nothing. What a let down.....NOT! So instead, I give you how we boringly spent this week at Chez Chaos.

Ahren is in LOVE with his Poppi. If he can be outside with daddy then he is a happy camper. Last weekend, when Chris was mowing the back 40, poor Ahren was miserable. he could see him but not get to him. Little Houdini tried everything. He was caught undoing the chain locking the gate shut, dismantling the door knob cover on the back door, and trying to scale the fence surrounding the kid-safe play area. After he was done mowing, Chris took the boys for a ride around on the tractor. I didn't get a picture but i will next time. 

Saturday morning snuggling on the couch. My boys. I love saying that. My boys.
Beware, this picture is sure to melt your heart and bring a lump to your throat. It is truly miraculous how well these two adjusted. Oh, there are fights and lots of wrestling, but way more laughs and hugs than anything. We see almost no signs of jealousy, either, between these two. 
All I wanted was a picture of how cute Levi looked in his school outfit this day. Unfortunately the girls have taught Levi how to 'pose sexy' and I can never get just normal pix anymore.
Ahren copies absolutely everything Levi does, so here is his interpretation of 'posing sexy'. This kid cracks me UP!
Ahren has his own little buddy, too. One with super powers and all. You should hear him say Superman. It's too cute.
More super buddies.
We worried about levi feeling left out and misplaced when Ahren came home, so we have made the effort to have some special things to do just with Levi. He and I have what he calls our 'tradition'. We play Pirates of the Carribean on-line together. We started doing it the day Ahren came home, during his naps. Each day we got a couple of hours, just us. We are still doing it and it seems to be working. We also make efforts to take one or the other alone on errands, etc. Katie will come home from school and take Levi to get gas or something for a school project. It seems to be working. Levi shows no signs of jealousy against Ahren. Instead, he is more loving and his buddy than anything. Maybe it's because he had been waiting 'his whole life for a brother' in his words!
Is it any wonder posts have been few and far between with my little button pusher around to help?
Dressed for church. Handsome boy!!! (And no 'sexy pose!)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A few pix and I call it a post

The other night Ahren was absolutely coated with sand and dirt from playing outside. My first thought was to just rinse him off in the sink (too cold outside to use the hose) but when I figured out that he still (barely) fit in the sink, I scrubbed him up there. This is an over-sized extra deep sink and he fills it completely!

I bought some cool underwear for Ahren since he is doing so well with potty training. Any time anything new shows up the gang has to investigate and thoroughly try out the new stuff. Here, sweet little Holly shows off the new undies in a way only Holly could carry off!
I am forever amazed at the bond my older girls have with their littles. It's not something i push or demand, just something they do naturally. It makes my big ol' mama's heart swell with pride and love!
This is a Pirate Ship playhouse that I bought the designs to build. It ends up about the size of my mini-van. Soon, it will be going up in our backyard. Watch out, Mama Bear has Power Tools!!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Has the whole world gone crazy?

We had another uber-fun filled week around Chez Chaos. Our beloved nanny developed a blood clot in her leg and ended up in the hospital on Thursday. She had been having some problems with it and they finally diagnosed a blood clot and started her on blood thinners. Unfortunately, it seems to have been a case of too little, too late, and by the time I arrived home on Thursday her lower leg looked like a sausage about to burst it's casing and was turning ugly shades of purple and black. This earned her a trip to the ER, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Of course, being the super stubborn woman she is, it took everything her daughter had to keep her there long enough to get looked at and admitted. Her daughter actually resorted to threatening to move her car and hide all the keys! 

Then, the exact same night a delivery man at our neighbor's house got seriously injured. It just so happened that adorable little Holly's parents were driving past when the wife came running into the road looking for help. Her husband is a big name brand tool distributor and the delivery guy had attempted to unload an 1100 pound tool box on wheels all by himself. It got crooked on the ramp and tipped over crushing his leg. When they moved him onto the gurney his whole leg was like a piece of over cooked spaghetti. He was holding the end of his thighbone where it poked out of his thigh. I think the only thing that helped save him a little was the heavy duty work boots he wore. The tool chest was propped up on his shoe giving just a little bit of clearance and possibly saving his foot from being crushed. Poor guy had only been on the job one week. I am thinking that his training might have been a bit lax.

Levi was riding his 4-wheeler the other night when the battery died. Chris pulled the battery and brought it into the house to recharge. When he then went to put it back into the 4-wheeler, it was gone. Someone stole our Little Tykes 4-wheeler right out of our yard. 

And for the coup de gras, the piece de resistance, the icing on the cake....I bring you a story of insanity. A little background first..... We live in an area that is really a bedroom community to the nearest Houston suburb. It's small, it's fairly rural with lots of horse properties, and it's full of the nicest folk you ever could meet. Our football team has made it to the playoffs for the first time, well, ever! This is huge! Most years we have been lucky to have a win or two, but since they opened a second high school we have dropped down to 4A and are now winning. The whole school has been supporting the football team, cheering them on, etc etc. 

So the Friday before last, a large number of students (including the cheerleaders, the mascot, the booster club and the trainers) all reported to the parking lot immediately after school and used window markers to write things on the football teams car windows. Apparently they wrote really awful stuff like Go Bulldogs, We Love You, Win Win Win. You know, really hateful stuff. Katie, as usual, was right in the middle of this horrific display of support. 

One of the boys on the team has a father who apparently is a bit, ahem, different. When he learned of this carnage he closely inspected his son's truck, only to discover a small dent on the side. Aha! Vandalism! Criminal mischief! Someone must pay!!! And who, you might ask, signed their name to said truck's artwork? Why yes, none other than Katie and 2 other girls. This resulted in a nasty phone call to the criminal's mother (me) along with a full fledged tantrum at the school, resulting in a police investigation. He wanted to press charges, he wanted the girl's charged with criminal mischief, he wanted them taken into custody right then and there! 

Now I asked Katie if she wrote on his truck and she said yes and told me what she wrote. I asked her if she climbed on the truck and she said No. I asked her why they wrote on that particular vehicle and she said 'Because no one else would write on it because they are scared of his psycho dad'. (Wow, we need to work on her reasoning skills!!!) The police investigated, even pulling the surveillance tapes for the parking lot. Final determination? There is no evidence to suggest that these girls ever damaged the truck. End of investigation. In fact, the police said it is highly unlikely that the itty-bitty dent on the side of the truck was caused by someone leaning on or climbing on the vehicle. it looks suspiciously like a door ding. 

Is the 'Different Dad' satisfied? Nope. But you expected that, didn't you? He says he will sue. I say, go ahead! I have a lot of unresolved anger and anxiety that I need to take out on someone!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Case of the Knackerly Knitters

All weekend long I had been excited about lunchtime on Monday. Several of us from work were going to take our knitting to the park and meet up with a local knitting guru for some knitterly advice. I know, rather lame to be excited about, but welcome to my life! The idea of sitting outside in the recent beautiful weather, knitting, laughing and relaxing sounded heavenly.

The first sign that things were going to go very wrong was when the skies turned dark and rain began to pour mid-morning. Thinking quickly, we decided on a Plan B. We would have the guru come to our work and we could sit in the lovely lobby and get our lesson. But, wait, would we end up disturbing people (knowing that we would probably be doing a lot of laughing and probably more than a bit of knitting humor)? So we thought, A-Hah! There are meeting rooms in the lobby to meet with people who are not allowed into the secure research areas. We had seen these used often for things like baby showers, birthday parties and the like. Being the midwestern girls we are, forever bound to 'do the right thing', we asked if we could use the room. We received a 'conditional' yes, but had to wait for the Head of Security (HoS) for the final say. 

Right on time, the knitting guru arrived and proceeded to wait in her vehicle for us, while binding off a shawl (exactly the sort of thing you would expect any knitting guru worth her weight would do in a few spare moments). About then, my phone rang. Great timing! It was the 
HoS. I asked if we could use the room and she replied, 'Absolutely not'. I beg your pardon, did you say what I think you said? She went on to explain that those rooms are reserved for business purposes and we were NOT allowed to use them. Then she demanded to know why I waited until the last minute to request to use one. I tried to tell her our story, but she cut me off. No, no, no, not permitted. At this point I said, 'This is ridiculous'. Apparently this is exactly NOT what to say to HoS because she went off on me. Her exact words were, 'Did you just call the HoS ridiculous?' to which I resp0nded, 'No, I said the situation is ridiculous. All we want to do is use it for a few minutes'. She continued to yell at me. The gal in the adjoining office could HEAR her she was yelling so loud. She then asked me, 'Who are you?' so I began to tell her and she yelled, 'I know who you are!'. (WTF? If she knew why did she ask?) She continued to accuse me of calling her ridiculous and I told her 'never mind, we will go elsewhere' and I ended the call. 

In the meantime, our sweet little knitting guru got shooed out of the parking lot because she had no business being there. Want to know the best part? The knitting guru is a 72 year old woman who babysits for the President/CEO's daughter. Nice. And our company is trying it's best to be the Best Company Ever. With co-workers like that, who needs enemies?

Monday, November 10, 2008

You flatter me so!

The recipe for the detergent is one I got off the web. Don't credit me with being this ingenious! Although I have been known to mix up quite the reagents in the laboratory....bwah hah hah. Hey, just because it could dissolve a body so that no trace was ever found. Oh I jest....or do I???

OK, here is how I made my detergent. I made the recipe for powdered detergent because other people said the liquid version tends to gel up and be hard to use. Also note that I made a HUGE batch. Why? Um, well, it seemed like a good idea at the time...until I saw how much I ended up with!

2  32 oz. boxes Borax
3  20 oz boxes Washing Soda (not baking soda)
2 cups baking Soda 
8 Bars Fels Naptha soap grated
Essential oils to scent, if desired (I didn't use any, I like the clean scent it has naturally)
Mix well, use 1/8 cup per load

This sounded easier than it turned out to be. I bought a plastic tub to make and store it in for about $5. The powdered ingredients were easy but the bars of soap were harder. The notes said that you could use a Salad Shooter (darn, I have one but it is still in a box from our move and I don't know which one) ((OK, make fun of me for having a salad shooter but I could have used it now and you don't have one!!!)) or a blender. So the Salad shooter is out and I go to get the blender. Only I can't find the glass container for it. Base - check. Lid - check. Blades - check. Glass container- NOWHERE. Well that's not going to work. I started out with a grater but that got old about 1/3 of the way through the first bar. So I bit the bullet and we headed to Tar:Get and invested in a new blender. I rough cut the bars (they are crumbly) and threw them in the blender. Let me just say - OMG! The soap dust was awful! Do this step in a well ventilated spot. Or get a Salad Shooter!!!!! Or possibly find some convicts who are in need of a work release program.....

So there you have it. Cheap home-made detergent and it only cost me a few bucks and one lobe of my lung! (Hey, lungs are entirely over rated!)

Tomorrow I will write about my run in with the 'policia' at my company, all over knitting. Who knew knitting was so dangerous! (OK, well, I might have been knitting a bomb. Or a baby blanket. You decide)

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Yes, I have been a total blogging slacker this week. Want to hear all my excuses? No? Oh well. I rally don't have any anyway! I always hate it when I follow a blog through a long adoption process and then once the child is home we hear nothing. Yeah, the finger is pointing to me. 

So, let's catch up,  shall we? Ahren's physical progress is coming along. We took him back to the orthopedist and he was happy with the muscle development. He is still much less stable than other kids his age and about as limber as a dish rag, but he is progressing. At this point the doctor wants to keep up doing what we are doing (lots of physical activity, no shoes most of the time) and see him again in a few months. It's so hard to tell what is just muscle weakness from inactivity versus some cerebral palsy issues when he is so young. Poor little guy, though, he falls so much. He has so many bruises and skinned knees and elbows. 

Ahren is speaking almost entirely in english now. It has become a struggle to get him to use spanish and he absolutely refuses to answer me if I speak to him in spanish. I have friends who are fluent and try and talk to him and he just sticks out his chin and says NO! The other day he said 'chocolate milk' plain as day. He is doing very well peeing in the potty, not so much with the poo poo. We aren't pushing. He eats everything now, and a lot of it! If we make scrambled eggs he will eat 3-4 of them. He can down 2 bananas and 2 cups of yogurt for a snack. He eats a lot of healthy food, so I am not worried. He is also on the go constantly so he is burning off a lot of calories. He lost a little weight at first, probably because we weaned him off of the bottles every 4 hours. Those calories have been replaced with fruit, yogurt, whole grains etc. 

Today I am cleaning out our big chest freezer. Even though we had a generator during Hurricane Ike, it didn't run everything all the time. The freezer partially defrosted and then refroze in one giant blob. A lot of what was in there is probably freezer burned now. I am thawing all the meat and cooking it down with rice for dog food. I just HATE to waste it and jackson does best on a hypoallergenic diet of fresh meats and rice anyway. At least I won't be throwing it away.

Lately I have had this urge to stock up, cut back on spending, prepare to tighten the belts, etc. The way the economy is going and the unrest that comes from the change in presidents has me unsettled. I made the mistake of looking at my 401K and the kid's college funds and about wet myself. I will NOT do that again anytime soon. I just keep telling myself that every dollar going in right now is buying many more shares than normal, so that is a good thing. 

I made my own laundry detergent as part of my 'back to basics' savings kick. For about $20 I have enough laundry detergent for the next 6 months for a family of 6. The best part? It works! I had a towel that was originally cream colored but somehow had gotten washed with something and turned pink. I used the home-made detergent on a load of towels and the pink towel came out cream colored again! (That makes me wonder how it will work in the long run on colored clothes....I'll have to let you know) You only use 1/8th of a cup per load. 

Today I am also making cookie dough, adding in the leftover Halloween M&M candies instead of chips and freezing it in single cookie portions. (Drop spoonfuls onto cookie sheet lined with waxed paper, freeze, transfer to ziploc bags) They are then ready to pop in the oven a few or a lot at a time! 

Right now the boys are all out in the barn working on a project. They are building the new bed frame with storage for Levi and Ahren's room. My heart about bursts when I look out there and see them. All three have on safety glasses and are intently bent over the wood. All together now....awwwwwww. 

We went to a birthday party at the next-door neighbors house for their 3 year old. There were lots of kids all between the ages of infant to about 6 yrs old. There was a group of girls about Levi's age that were absolutely wild. They took over the bounce house and attacked anyone who went in. Levi got tackled several times and decided to get out. One little guy, 3 yrs old, ended up crying and trying to get out but they kept knocking him down and calling him a baby. I was watching and said they needed to be nice to the smaller kids. One little girl looked at me and said, 'I don't care, I'll pull down your underwear'. I think Chris pulled me out of the entrance as I went in to give her the smackdown! (Just kidding) I did find the Mom, who happened to be 2 steps from the bounce house and paying NO attention whatsoever, and told her what her lovely little puke had done. She made the girl apologize, but just a little bit later she and her posse were back in the bounce house reigning terror. Ahren went to go in, got halfway thru the door, and backed out as fast as his chubby little legs would carry him. Good choice son!

Later I will work on uploading some new pix. 

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Boys, boys, boys

The Terror Tots have invented a new game. It involves pulling all the covers and pillows off the bed in the guest room and them rolling or jumping off the bed onto them. It's so sweet watching Levi help Ahren up onto the bed and seeing them cracking each other up. The sound of laughter ringing thru the house makes it more than worth the effort to have to pick it up when they are done. 

Cracking up over the 'game'. I did have to move one of the night stands, though, because Ahren decided to climb on top and try and leap from it. I caught him just before he could jump, with the stand wobbling under him. Ugh! Boy was he mad at me for ruining his fun!
Is this just the most perfect Halloween costume for my little nut? He looked ADORABLE, but I'm not biased or anything!
For Trick or Treat we hooked the big garden wagon up to the riding mower, filled the wagon with blankets and hung glow sticks all over it. Mina and her Mommy came along and we drove all over the neighborhood in our RedNeck Transportation! (The houses are far apart because everyone is on acreage here. The people sit at the end of their driveways and hand out candy. They also create spooky scenes and decorate to the max) Ahren wasn't too sure about it all at first, until they handed him candy and then he was gung-ho! 

Here is Mina as Princess Jasmine. She's not even mine and I still think she is absolutely adorable. Is there anything as sweet to a toddler as a bag full of free candy?

Look at this sweet angelic face. Who would have thought that just a little earlier he was a screaming, snotty nosed mess? Poor little sweetheart, he really needs those naps!

Levi is giving us his 'sexy pose' here. Why he thinks this is sexy I have no idea. I'm assuming his sisters taught it to him and convinced him he was sexy.  He doesn't even know what the word sexy means. (I asked and he said he didn't know.) 
Potty training update: We left the house in underwear yesterday. Spent 2 hours running errands with no accidents! He really has the pee-pee thing down. Poo-poo, not so much. This morning he pooped in his pull-up and I didn't know it. He went to the potty and pulled his pants down and several little balls of poopiness went rolling across the floor. He looked down and plain as day said, 'Yuck'! His timing was a little off, but his language is spot-on!