Saturday, February 28, 2009

Shoppin' Day for the Girls

Took the girls out shopping today to buy dresses and shoes for the upcoming weddings. I was uber-pleased, as I found three beautiful dresses, all in black and white, that they look gorgeous in. They look coordinated, yet individual, which is what I was hoping for. And we found shoes and everything, all on sale. It doesn't get much better than that ....

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Artwork dujour

James sure does beautiful artwork. Though I don't know what he has against paper ....

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thursday Afternoon Play-by-Play

1st child complains of sore throat.
Temp checked - fever.
2nd child complains of headache and the ever helpful complaint "not feeling well".
Temp checked - fever.
3rd child tudda-tudda-tudda-tuddas across kitchen tile floor on scooter.
4th child tudda-tudda-tudda-tuddas across kitchen tile floor on skateboard.
Dog barks and runs after skateboard/scooter children.
Tea kettle whistles.
Tea fixed and delivered to sick children.
Tudda-tudda-tudda-tudda ----tudda-tudda-tudda-tudda: skateboard child now has scooter child hooked to dog leash and rolling across kitchen floor train-style.
Get out all the stuff for dinner.
5th child asks to play x-box.
6th child asks to play computers.
7th child (friend over) asks to watch TV.
Mantra kicks in on auto-pilot "No screens till 7:30".
All children whine in unison, sounding surprisingly like a barbershop septet. Note to self: check into possibilitiy of booking gigs.
Child informs me she needs a Batman costume for school tomorrow because tomorrow is Batman Day. What the ....?
Hoarse bark heard in the other room. Does one of the kids have a seal as a classroom pet? Did I volunteer to watch it for the weekend? Note to self: get large quatities of fresh fish to feed seal.
Sick coughing child crying b/c throat hurts. OK, no seal. Bad cough. Cancel fish order.
Hugs and Motrin dispensed.
Barbershop septet sings my favorite tune, "When's Dinner/What's for Dinner".
"Owwwwwwwwwww!" Ninja-child was right behind me as I removed a box from the fridge. Got hit in eye with said box.
Apologies exchanged. Mixture of Russian/English/sign language follows in which he asks why I hit him in the eye with the box and I explain he hadn't been in that spot a millisecond before. Neither of us understands the other.
Fix dinner, fix dinner, fix dinner.
"Mommmm, James is crying"
Hugs and more apologies dispensed. Wet paper towel applied to swollen eye.
Child with learning disability informs me she has a test tomorrow. She's supposed to memorize all 44 presidents.
Fix dinner, help study, fix dinner, help study, fix dinner, help study.
Serve dinner.
Eat portions left on plates.
Say hello to husband.
Brief husband on current illnesses, bedtimes, shower and homework status.
Say goodbye to husband.
Drop friend off at her house.
Drive to school for meeting from 8 - 9:30.
Get home, put away leftovers, load dishwasher.
Exchange info with husband on school meeting, status of kids.
Bed. Sleep.

Post-note: Friday morning two sick kids home. Cancel all plans. On the way to the store for ginger ale, receive call from nurse. Third child sick. Drive to school to pick up.
The phrase "repeat as neccessary" springs to mind ....

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

4 weddings, a communion and a confirmation. God willing, no funerals.

Our social calendar is getting pretty full, and it's only February. We have all of the above betweeen March and October. But hey, it's a great way for our two new kids to get to meet all the 3rd cousins twice removed that we didn't even know we were related to. AND, I'll get my money's worth out of the dress clothes I'll need to buy them. Usually if I had to buy them a pair of dress shoes, they'd get worn to the one event and then become a breeding hutch for dust bunnies in the bottom of the closet. So this year the jackets and ties and nice pants and decent shoes and dresses will get to be worn again and again. And again ....
I can hear the kids now in July, "Mommmmmmm, this black wool dress is too hot!" "You'll wear it and you'll like it. Now turn around so I can do up your buttons".

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chaos Theory

With two tweens, two preteens and six teenagers at our house this weekend, there was never a dull moment (or a quiet one). Here the swat team gets ready for a big mission.

Our friend A grew a new shadow. James followed her around all weekend like a lovesick puppy dog. Can you blame him?

Happy Birthday Patrick! Seems like I turned around and blinked and he was 14. I gotta stop doing that.

These are the 10 kids that kept us on our toes this weekend. A, G, A, James, Patrick, J. Next row Bella, Daniel, Rosie, Julie.

Our six: Daniel, James, Patrick, Bella, Rosie, Julie.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! And Happy Birthday to Fred my honey. And Happy Patrickmas Eve to my firstborn.

James and Julie seemed to enjoy their first Valentine's Day, first getting cards and some money in the mail from spoiling grandparents, then at school yesterday receiving cards and candy, then today getting a goodie bag from Mom and Dad with another card and a few sweets and things.

We actually have a pretty full house today, as our friends from NJ are spending the w/e with us. So this morning there were 11 Valentine treat bags set out on the breakfast table. K and M treated us to a wonderful homemade breakfast that took 2 1/2 dozen eggs, 2 lbs of bacon, a couple dozen pieces of bread, 40 sausages and more. Don't think I'll eat the rest of the day ......

Right now all the kids have completed their showers so they're all squeaky clean for the time being. As stereotypically cliche as this sounds, the girls are working quietly at the table creating crafts and the boys are playing video games, soon to be gearing up to run amok in the fields killing each other with paintball. Hey, they're all being quiet right now, so I'm not complaining.

Yet another treat from our friends, they'll be watching all 9 of the kids tonight so Fred and I can go out to dinner and a movie for his birthday. Better them than me. Everyone please say a quick prayer for them!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Overrating of firsts

Usually when people make the decision to adopt, they rule out all age groups over the age of about 6 hours. Too old. When they find that babies less than a day old are hard to come by, they settle for anything that is still unable to make eye contact. If the baby can smile b/c it's happy to see you and not just b/c it needs to fart, again, too old. Part of the reasoning for wanting to score a neonate is the whole blank slate thing. While nothing can be done to change whatever parties went on in utero, the newborn baby's delicate psyche has not yet been torn asunder. Even a few short months of the infant's needs not being met can have a lasting impact on the ability of this little person to trust and attach with its caretakers. OK, a valid enough point. Though I must mention that damage done early is NOT always permenant or irreversible.

Another oft-cited reason as to why folks want a baby is so they can experience all the "firsts" in their baby's world: first smile, first tooth, first time to sit up, crawl, take a step. As a parent who has been witness to her bio babys' firsts, as well as to her older adopted childrens' firsts of a different nature, I'm here to tell you the baby firsts are a bit overrated. Don't get me wrong, I'll be the first to admit that I was the sterotypical first-time Mom who saved the lock of hair, the tooth, the hospital wrist bracelet, the first poopy diaper. Okay, that last one, not so much. I probably spent as much time chronicling and archiving what my new child was doing at every moment than I did actually interacting and caring for him. It was of utmost importance to me that I record every blessed meaningless thing about him. "This morning, when I changed his diaper at 5:24, he peed so high it almost reached the ceiling! I'll bet when he's in college he'll win contests when he's out with his drinking buddies. I am just sooo proud". Flash forward to my 3rd bio child's baby book: "Came home from the hospital today. He's pretty cute. Hope he's a good sleeper". Next entry: "He started 3rd grade today".
So you see, at some point we make the switch from the constant recording of every detail to actually just witnessing and appreciating them. Either because we lack the time or the brain cells, or b/c we just learned how to prioritize.

These baby firsts are pretty much one-sided celebrations anyway, a tool to help US bond with the baby, not the other way around. The 6 month old could care less that he's cutting his first tooth and probably thinks you're a freak for jumping and squealing and scribbling in your book (again) when he's screaming in pain and chewing on his toes. Their memories of their firsts will be pretty much non-existent. In contrast, when an older adopted child experiences a first, it opens their eyes in wonderment, changes their view of the world, and helps to shape who they are as a person. We expose our children to so much from such an early age, that by the time they're old enough to think about what they're seeing or tasting or smelling, it has lost its impact. The unique becomes ordinary. The special, commonplace. With that in mind, here are a few "firsts" of my adopted children. These things never made it into a baby book, but I was blessed enough to be there to witness their reaction to something new and special in their lives:

the cool, sweet taste of ice cream
a crowded bumpy noisy bus ride to school
a soft, cozy bed of their own
a Mama's warm lap to snuggle in
the steamy warmth of a shower
hunger subsiding when grabbing an apple from the bottomless bowl of fruit
the excitement of tunnels and slides, arcades and lights at a fun center
the crash and scatter of bowling pins
the wind in their hair as they coast down the driveway on their bikes
fuzzy soft bunny fur
a dog in a lap
the chaos and fun of having friends over
salty popcorn and cold drinks while watching a movie in the dark of the theatre
the creamy warmth of a cup of hot chocolate after playing in the snow

the all-encompassing love of a family

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Back 2 School

After keeping a countdown checklist for the last couple weeks, James and Julie finally got to start school on Monday, Feb 9th, one month to the day since arriving in the US. They were sooo excited, and came running in the door at the end of the day looking fit to bust. Julie, with both thumbs up, shouted, "School gooooot, yes!"It was one of those moments that I wished each of my ears could process independently, b/c they were both regurgitating the details simultaneously. While the fine print might have been lost on me, the overall sense from both was that it was a day that will last in their memories a lifetime.

I drove them in the first day so that I could walk them to their classrooms and introduce them to their teachers, but they have taken the bus since then. I stand at the door crying like an idiot watching all six of them board the bus in the mornings. Something I've been dreaming of and waiting for so long, and now it's just one of those ordinary realities. The first of many beautiful, miraculous ordinary realities ....

Friday, February 6, 2009

Spelling Bee

Today Rosie was in a spelling bee at school. It was really for middle schoolers, but they let her participate even though she's only in 5th grade. Now, I'm being completely objective here when I say she was the cutest, smartest, most confident, kid up there.

Did I say cutest yet?

The only kids who beat her out were two 8th graders. I had a hard time keeping my butt in my chair because I wanted to stand up and cheer for her every time she got up to the mike. But I didn't want to embarrass the poor kid.
Wait -- how do you spell embarrass?

Kazakh sun-bathing

This is Julie lounging on a pool chair (is it time to store them away for the season yet?) during a snowfall. Don't think she's quite got the concept.

New skates

Finally found some ice skates roughly the sizes we needed and on sale, so I picked up a few pairs, along with some hockey sticks and pucks. Got another good freeze, so the kids got to go try out the skates instead of just slip-slidin' around our pond in their snow boots. They had a blast. An icy blast. It was about 12 degrees out. I decided they were safe enough if I watched from the window with a hot cup of coffee in my hands.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Fountain

We've all heard the jokes of the dog's perception of the toilet as an eternal fountain. No matter how much they drink, there's always a supply of "fresh" water waiting for them.
I wonder if my two new kids must think of our kitchen and pantry in that way. No matter how much they eat (which is considerable), food just keeps reappearing. The apples, the yogurt, the milk, the pretzels, it just keeps on comin', as if fed from an underground spring.
How I wish. Keeping the coffers filled has become a job in and of itself. I feel like my car is set on auto-pilot to take me to the grocery store and I know the cashiers by name.
Must be a strange feeling for the kids. In the past, they only ate when the food was placed before them at mealtimes. Now they know they can take fruits and vegetables whenever they want, without even asking. Other snacks are available to them too if they just check with Mom first. And cleaning their plates at dinner (never an issue) means dessert afterwards, usually ice cream. Ice cream! They always look at me in disbelief after their first bite.

I'm glad we're able to provide this all-you-can-eat (within reason) buffet for them, and I'm glad to see them growing so healthy and strong. It's worth all the extra trips to the grocery store, and the bigger totals at check-out.

Still wish we had that underground spring providing it all.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Head Honcho

I was out at the barn feeding my critters the other day. I probably should have taken notes, because my horse Jasper could teach me a thing or two about quiet authority. While he was eating his grain undisturbed, a whole mess of goats was fighting over another bucket several yards away. Fur was flying and horns were being smashed into rather delicate areas as chaos ruled. I remember thinking how their behavior reminded me of my kids. Didn't matter that there was grain distributed all around, with plenty for all, they each felt like the bit right in front of them was rightfully theirs. Not one of them could see that the situation would be improved if they could share. Meanwhile, as they fought over the bucket, Jasper finished what was in front of him and decided to see what else was around to munch on. He simply walked over to the goats' bucket and they all scattered as he settled down to dine. They looked mighty forlorn, I can tell you. Because of all the fighting, they had each only gotten a bite or two and now Jasper was eating the rest. Though there was a lesson there for them, they didn't learn it. They're goats. But I'm hoping I'm just a hair smarter than them and can learn from Jasper how to exert my authority over my kids. None of the goats questioned him, and he didn't need any loud obnoxious displays to get what he was after. So if I can tap into his mastery of authority, perhaps I can stroll into a room and quietly tell my kids what I need them to do, and they will immediately step into action without question. Jasper didn't need to ask them nicely three times to move over. He didn't need to yell. He didn't even threaten to remove barn privileges if they didn't listen. What was his secret? I did notice he pinned his ears as he walked over. If I try real hard, maybe I can wiggle mine a bit, but I don't think I can pin them flat like he did in that menacing manner. Of course, he also weighs about a thousand pounds. Maybe that's the trick. Alright, if that's what it takes.

So if any of you see me putting on a considerable amount of weight, you don't need to inquire about my health. I'm just trying to get my kids to listen better.


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