Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bigfoot and Perpetrators

Ahren and Levi are 2.5 years apart in age. Can you guess which shoes belong to which boy? Ahren is on the left, Levi on the right. I keep telling Levi he needs to be extra nice to his brother because very soon Ahren will be bigger than he is and paybacks will be baaaaad.

What do you get when you send 3 kids out back to color on the patio with side walk chalk on a spring day? You get the chore of trying to wash blue chalk off of your yellow house.  (Nanny got to wash blue chalk off of the little chain gang.....)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring in Texas

Chris made me this raised-bed garden this year. Note the hopefully-deer-proof fencing designed to give my garden a fighting chance at not becoming a salad bar. I have tomatoes, peppers, corn, cantaloupe, squash, cucumbers, watermelon, and pumpkins so far. Some of these will peter out before the others come on strong so I can double-duty some of the space. I also am training some of the vining varieties up trellises to maximize produce space. 

Want to know something funny? Not one other person in this family besides me is excited about having fresh produce. The major reaction around here is Yuck. I guess they will be eating a lot of peanut butter sandwiches this summer since I am going to be making lots of meals with fresh veggies....
Spring in Texas also means Bluebonnets and wildflowers. One of our neighbors is a naturalist (meaning he grows and propagates native plants, not that he runs around naked...) He seeded all around our pond with bluebonnet seed before we moved in and we have been very careful to multiply them every year. Right now they are just getting going, but here is what we have so far. Gorgeous!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hi/Lo Thursday

This post is part of "Hi/Lo Thursday" on the Riggs Family Blog. Check out their blog to read everyone else's "Hi/Lo" posts and get your link on their site.

I have wanted to participate in this for so long, but I am perpetually 'a day late and a dollar behind'. Sigh.

So here goes. I did finally figure out how to get their heading and blog button over here. Uh, yeah, Brent had it all lined out with simple instructions like 'Copy and paste'. Apparently even that can be a bit challenging for me! 

This weeks Hi: I am almost finished with my pharmacy course. I just have the final exam and project to turn in. I have maintained a high-90's average over the 240 course hours of work and I have really enjoyed it!

This weeks Lo: We cannot get any information on our sweet PBJ. The agency refuses to return our calls or e-mails. I can't get in touch with the attorney (who also refuses to turn the case over to a new atty) and I fear we are at the end of the journey. I just wish I knew. I can't move forward until I know something. Anything. I can take the bad news better than not knowing. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Oh No!!!

This showed up in Levi's backpack after school yesterday, addressed to him. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blue Booty

Laughter LivesThis post is part of "Laughter Lives! Tuesday" on the Riggs Family Blog. Check our their blog to read everyone else's "Laughter Lives!" posts.

Ahren has Mongolian spots, a bluish set of birth marks that most often occur on the lower back and buttocks. His is more of a large bluish region instead of spots, and it covers most of his little cheeks.

The scene: I have both boys in the tub trying to scrub the dirt and sweat off their little stinky bodies

Levi is looking at Ahren and he announces, "Mom, Ahren has a blue booty!"

Then, with a turn of his head, looking backwards, he announces, "And I have a pink booty!"

And then, he looks at me and announces, "And Mom has a big booty!!!"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Seven months

Ahren has been home 7 months. It's unbelievable! The 3 years we waited for him are now just a distant memory, erased by the daily joys of raising this delightful little boy.

When we brought him home, he seemed more baby than 32 month old boy. He drank a bottle every 4 hours, he had almost no muscle tone, he barely spoke (in spanish or english) and he was just so helpless in many ways. His foster family did a marvelous job but they spoiled him horribly. The child had never fed himself a bite of food. He didn't have to talk because he could just point and everyone jumped for him. In a way, I was glad. I got to enjoy a bit of him as a baby, all snuggly and needy. 

Now, just 7 months later, he is all boy. Mostly potty trained, independent, talkative, opinionated, has grown almost 3 inches in height and slimmed down too, and a total booger which I say with the utmost love! (I'll explain later in this post)

Ahren had just woken up in the morning and Levi was hugging him. These two are great friends, partners in crime and a two-boy wrecking crew. They fight sometimes, but mostly they just play and laugh. Ahren imitates absolutely everything Levi does, which is good and bad!
This child is so full of joy and laughter. He goes non-stop all day long and then just face plants in bed and sleeps 12-13 hours straight. 
He is an ornery little booger. He has learned how to do things that annoy others and will pick at them until he gets a reaction, all with this cheesy little grin on his face. The sort of things he does? He will say, 'Spiderman wears a dress' over and over again until someone screams. Or he will sneak up behind one of the other kids and pretend he is going to bite them. That one is always good for a scream. 
He is developing a wild and creative imagination. The more words he learns the more I see how rich his imagination is. 
He is silly and loves to make others laugh. Here he is making a silly face and asking me to take a picture. On the table are the Easter cookies we decorated. In his cae, before I could even get the frosting out, he broke his cookies into pieces, so he has decorated cookie parts. 
And just so you can see he is a totally normal 3 year old, here is what we get treated to when he gets mad or doesn't get what he wants. It's hard not to laugh! He has at least stopped the spitting and biting, now he just gets mad, then stomps off to his bedroom looking like this, until he cools down. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cheer Mom

Katie tried out for Varsity Cheerleading last week. She did school cheer once in 7th grade and didn't like it. She has done competitive cheer instead, or like this year, got a job. I was surprised she wanted to try out, but then again all her friends are cheerleaders and that's who she hangs out with. Three days of practice to learn a dance, cheer, chant and the school fight song. Then tryouts in front of judges brought in from outside to make it impartial. They can have up to 16 Varsity cheerleaders, but the girls have to score above a certain score to make it. 

Katie? Yeah, she blew them away. They actually gasped when she did her jumps (with a 36 in inseam, it's amazing when she whips those babies around) 

How in the heck did my bald baby grow up so fast that she will be a senior next year????

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday evening

It's Sunday evening and that used to mean I would begin to get wound up, not sleep well, and start to think about work. It has taken a while, but I am over that now. Instead, I think about other, more important things.

Things like why is it so important that we have other family friends that have adopted. That have kids from other ethnic groups, backgrounds, countries, adoption paths. But it's not just that. Those things might have brought us together. The shared emotions and pains of the Guatemalan process. The issues with the sudden parenting of a toddler you only know through photos. Developmental delays, parasites, malnutrition, evil people and much more. It tends to bring people together. 

But what holds them together? We have all met someone we found interesting just to never see or hear from them again. Ships passing in the night. What holds some people together?

I saw it this week. I don't see nat, Angel or Candy very often. Heck, I don't actually communicate with them directly very often. I read their blogs and feel like I am involved. Then, once a year when we meet in person, the underlying fabric is there. Instant sister-hood. I know what they think, feel, worry about. I know how much they love their children and husbands, warts and all. I feel their pain and their joy. Deep, inside of me, in my very soul.

Why? Why do we connect with some people like this, and others merely pass through? I don't know. What I do know is that I feel honored. Glorified. Lucky. And seriously blessed to be able to share with these women and their families. The women I met in person this week are amazing. Real people with real problems, real fears and real issues. And yet, each and every one of them is an inspiration to me.

Angel, you have given so much. To your family. To other families. To lost children all over the world. You are so young and yet you have accomplished so much. I am in awe. I feel so late in finding my heart and giving self. You have shown me what I should be. What I want to be.

Natalie, you adopted Caleb, loving him from that first photo. And that love shines through in every movement of your body, your face, your eyes, your heart. I watched as you so carefully kept an eye on him at the museum. I don;t know if you realize how powerful that glance was, but it knocked me off my feet. You want so much for him, it hurts you in a way nothing else could. Then he will turn, see you and run with a huge smile to hug you, and you light up. It makes my heart soar to see it. He is one very lucky little guy!

And Candy. Candy with her heart on her sleeve, her every emotion played out to the world. Girl, if you could save them all you would, without a doubt. Your love overshadows everything else. How do you think Kya became such a loving, giving little girl? It's not in the nature of a 3 yr old to be like that. She has seen  you do it and she has absorbed it. That is what makes her even more special than she already was. Her heart mirrors your heart. She is a true lover, not selfish at all, and not afraid to give herself to others. If my kids have half that heart I will consider myself very blessed. 

To the rest of you, who have taught me so much. Especially you, Paula Z. I love you all more than anything. You have made me a much better person and I thank you.

This ends our Sunday evening ramblings. God Bless you one and all.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Kya Time, day 1

I am the last one of the group to get pictures posted of our two wonderful days with friends last week. We had such a blast! Candy came in form Oklahoma, Natalie and Angel live on the southern side of Houston, and then me, north of Houston. When Levi was falling asleep this night, he looked and me and said, 'I sure love Kya time'. That says it all, son!

Day 1 Angel couldn't make it, so I picked up Candy and kids at their hotel and we headed off to natalie's house for a birthday bash for Kya. The weather was perfect, her home is perfect and all the kids were perfect. No, I am not fibbing, they got along fantastically! Here is the proof.

Levi with Nat's little one, Caitlyn (hope I spelled that right) He loves cute babies!
Jagger taking a forced break from the excitement. 
Spontaneous swim party. The weather was nice but not quite this warm, but that didn't stop them.
Cheesy frosting grin.
I call this 'Moose and Tank Play Ball'. These two are very much alike, not at all built like most Guat people. I think football is better suited to them.
Achingly adorable, and she let me hold and snuggle her!
Levi helping jagger swing.
This one is full of personality, but so loving and sharing. An amazing child.
Oh Jagger, you are infectious with that smile!
This is how the swimming expedition got started. I am not sure who turned the hose on (Levi?) but Kya ended up with it and the boys were wisely keeping their distance!
Girlz just wanna have fuuu-un!
Why Miss Natalie, Yes, yes I do like my cupcake, thank you very much!
Drivers Ed for Tots
More b-ball.
This one cracks me up. Have you ever seen anything so adorable as Jagger?

Friday, March 13, 2009

A writing assignment

Katie wrote this for her AP English class. 

The Value of the Small, Everyday Events in Life

  I wake up to the sun peeking through my blinds. As I get up and begin to do my normal everyday routine, I can't help but think my day can't possibly go shy of great.
  Wrong! I'm late to school. As I sit down in class I notice I forgot my lunch. My teacher scolds me and sends me outside. I slip on a puddle of God-knows-what on my way to class. I hear my friends talking behind my back. When the day finally comes to an end, I rush to my car. As I get in I can feel my eyes stinging as they fill with tears. I can feel my face turn hot as a tear rolls down my cheek. My whole ride home I do everything possible trying to hold back the tears. I take a deep breath and enter the door of my house. As the door slams behind me I hear shrieks and my name being screamed across the living room. I can no longer walk as little arms wrap themselves around my legs. I pick up my littlest brother and once he is safe in my arms he plants a wet baby kiss on the same cheek which minutes before had a tear on it.  By now my other brother has a hold of my hand and with all his might is pulling me towards the fridge to show me what he made in school today.
  I stop for a moment to take in everything that has happened that day. I realized, something as little as my brothers showing their love for me made me forget all the horrid events that had happened tome earlier that day. The little things are the ones that matter. Though we sometimes take them for granted, it is the everyday events of life that keep us grounded.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rainbow Cake

This recipe was in a neighborhood flier the other day and I thought it looked fun.

Start with one white cake mix and follow the instructions on the box to mix. Separate into small bowls, one for each color you want to make. We did 6 colors (we also were making 2 cakes at once, so we have more than if you make only one) Add gel food coloring to each bowl and mix. Drop spoonfuls of different colors into pans. Bake per directions. Cool and frost. I used canned white frosting mixed with instant pudding mix, then added sprinkles. (Everything is better with sprinkles!)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Hardwork Yardwork

I don't know why I can't seem to ever put the pictures on here in the order I want. I know how, but I am apparently too lazy to do it. Oh well, I have a very good reason to be lazy, and tired. Very tired!

Here is the finished kiddie cushion mulching of the play set. Four inches thick of soft specially-treated mulch to catch falling munchkins safely. (I am amazed at how much of the stain is gone after only 1 year from our over-priced name-brand set)

Mulch prior to relocation.
My best Green Acres impression. Photo by Levi. Hair-do by Mother nature.
Little super-helpers at the ready.
Nothing runs like a Deere! (Oh boy was I happy we had a tractor to move stuff)
Once the mulch was done, we moved on to the stone. Did I mention that the 3000 pounds was only 5 rocks? Yeah, boulders. I challenge you, stinkin landscaping munching deer to eat these!
5 rocks, 3000 pounds. 
King of what is left of the decorative bags of mulch. I need to get at least 30 more. 
Mr. Mad because I made him sit on the porch as we moved the rocks. We flew our kite (on the left) and colored with sidewalk chalk between chores.
Beautiful rock. Each year I will add to the landscaping. I figure it will take me about 10 years to get it the way I want it. So far I have only worked about 0.5 acres of yard. That leaves me 3 more acres to go......
This kind of work leaves some ugly hands, but the calluses are a sign of a person willing to work hard to get what they want. (That's my story and I am sticking to it!)

P.S. I have a secret. I never lived in the country, on a farm or anything close to it. I grew up in the city. I don't know how to drive a tractor. The horses belong to our neighbors and we just get to enjoy them. I am such a poser. hah!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Octopus, the other other white meat

Want a quick, easy, fun dinner for kids? Try Octopi (Octopus plural) Take a hotdog (turkey dogs work well), slice one end up to about 1.5 inches from the other end, slice into 6 sections (8 is correct for an octopus but tends to make the legs too thin and they break off) Drop into boiling water. The legs curl up!
Here is how they look when they are done.
Yum yum and so much fun.