Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Whatever happened to a notebook and a pencil....?


I just got the supply lists for back to school stuff. Oy. I don't know if all schools do this b/c of lack of funding or if it's a charter school thing, but I could sooner afford to feed a small country than buy all the stuff that's required. And my poor kids usually look like they could use a sturdy llama or burro when they set off to school the first day with plastic bags in each hand and their backpacks stuffed to bursting.

When I counted up the items required (not counting the "suggested classroom donations"), I got more than 180 items for 5 of them (Patrick's list is not out yet). In addition, I'm to send $25 each for James and Rosie as a donation for "classroom and project supplies".
These lists include the expected items, such as pencils, composition books, notebooks, binders, rulers. But also items such as ziplock bags, tissues, hand sanitizer, Clorox cleaning wipes.

Although I recycle items from previous years and I scout out the sales and do my shopping where the stuff is cheap, I've still spent hundreds of dollars and I'm not even done. And this is not including clothes, of course. I'll tell you what, after seeing these lists, I'm tempted to homeschool my kids in order to save some money.

Not.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Wedding: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good
6 well-behaved kids sitting front row during a Catholic wedding.

How the girls were calling their newly married Aunt Michelle "Mrs. Cinderella".

The beautiful ceremony, bridal party and reception.

Award-winning performance of "Natural Woman" sung by my sister Mary at the reception.

Julie dancing the night away on the dance floor. Again.

Being able to get one more wearing of the wedding clothes even though sashes needed to be pinned on.

James and Julie meeting many new family members for the first time.

The warm welcoming into the family for them.

The positive, supportive comments about adoption from almost everyone.

Scattered family reunited.

The rite of passage of a long road-trip for the kids.



The Bad
My legs and feet after wearing high heels when I've been accustomed to flip-flops and bare feet.

"When're we gonna be there/how much longer/he touched me/I'm hungry" on a loop for 12 hours.

James getting his feelings hurt and feeling sad for most of the reception.


The Ugly
Sigh. One person's ugly comments about adoption/adopted children.














The Beach: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good
Sandbars
The ice cream man ringing his bell at the top of the dunes
Popsicle juice dripping down sandy chins
Miniature golf
The views from the top of the lighthouse
James and Julie learning the art of boogie boarding
Sand sculptures, including castles, dolphins, mermaids, seaturtles ....
Warm sand, sound of the surf, cool breeze
James and Julie seeing an ocean for the first time in their lives

The Bad
Sand on the floors
Sand in the sheets
Sand in our ears
Jellyfish legs after climbing the 200+ steps of the lighthouse
Sunburn

The Ugly
Pretty blue crab legs collected by Bella on the jetty not smellin' so pretty the next day












Saturday, July 18, 2009

Runnin' the Race

So Tues I was at the hospital all day for Bella's surgery.

Then Thurs Daniel had an appt in Wilmington in the morning. Got home, gave everyone lunch, then loaded everyone into the car by 1 (except Rosie, who is still on vacation with her best friend in Cape May) to drive 3 hours to my sister Veronica's house in NJ. The big boys will be staying there till Sunday to get some good solid Aunt Ronnie and Uncle Jamie time in like they do every summer (she takes them all a couple at a time). We were hoping that she could watch our little Sophie while we're away on vacation, so we brought her along too for a trial run. But Ron and Jamie have a new puppy now, 6 month old Shepherd mix Casey, who is just all abut play. Sophie was having none of it.
So after a time, we said our goodbyes to the boys and drove an hour or so south to drop Sophie off at our friends house, who had also offered to watch her. Funny, seems we have a multitude of offers from people who want to keep Sophie for us, as well as our dog Blue. Wonder why we don't get any offers for people to keep our rotten yellow Lab Sunny? Hmmmm ......
Anyway, we finally got home at about 10pm after a long day of driving and visiting. The house seemed strangely quiet with just 3 kids at home.

Friday Fred and I took the kids to lunch at TGIFridays and then to the movies to see Harry Potter. Strangely, not one person turned to stare at us as we walked in the door with our 3 kids. And all this time I thought people were staring at us b/c we are so darned attractive.

Today I will pack up for our vacation, as we leave early in the morning. Here is a partial list of what needs to get packed/accomplished before we can leave:

oil change for my car
put trash out
extra food and water to all critters
DVDs (lots of 'em)
roadtrip Bingo boards
directions
bedsheets and pillows
bathing suits
water shoes
about 5 gallons of sunblock
beach towels
bath towels
casual clothes
wedding clothes (for my sister Michelle's wedding in KY next Sat)
rainy day board games and craft activities
medicines
cameras
books

If I manage to accomplish all of the above (and more) we will set out tomorrow morning and pick Rosie up in south Jersey on our way to the shore. Once we get checked in at the rental house, we will pick up the boys, who are about about 1/2 hour to the north, so we can all be reunited once again.
Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we'll be able to enjoy the beach for a few days before setting off on Fri morning for our drive to KY.
Our plan from there is to go to the wedding on Sat (the kids will be able to meet another wave of relatives they have not yet met), and then head home Sun morning.

Guess I'd best get off the computer and git bizzy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Fun and Surgery Tears

On the Rosie front, she's having a funtastic time with Lucy in Cape May. She calls us each night and runs through her day with us and Lucy's parents have been sending photos. Sometimes you just gotta love modern technology.



Bella, on the other hand, did not have such a fun day yesterday, as she had to go under the knife again for ear tubes. But she did fine, and left the hospital less than two hours after surgery. When she got home she immediately resumed her favorite pasttimes of watching TV and searching for David Archuletta pictures on the computer.
While we were still in the hospital and she woke from the anesthesia she was kinda tearful b/c her throat and ears and head hurt. So I brought out the big guns: a big-eyed stuffed animal leopard she had seen in the gift shop. When she saw it she began to cry and hug me and said "Thank you so much, Mom, how did you know I wanted it?"
Moms just know .....

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Shore Will Miss My Girl

Dropped Rosie off last night at her best friend's house. Today their family is going to the beach for a week and they've invited Rosie to join them. She is gonna have a blast! Two best friends, 11 and 12, for a week of sun and surf.

Actually, Rosie's getting TWO weeks at the beach in a row, as when Lucy's family comes home next Sunday, we leave for OUR beach destination. So we'll swoop in and scoop Rosie up and take her with us to LBI. Rosie tans more than anyone else in our family on a normal day, so after two weeks at the beach, people will think we've adopted a biracial child.

Friday, July 10, 2009

6 Month Post-Placement

Back when we adopted Bella many years ago, the post-placement report requirements were different than they are today. They were done at 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, two years and three years. Today they no longer require reports until the child has been home a year, but they are then needed every year after that till the child is 18.
So although no one is knocking down my door for the 6 month report, I thought I'd give an unofficial one anyway since the kids have been home with us 6 months as of yesterday, July 9th.









In a nutshell, they're doing fanatstic.

They have both celebrated birthdays with us: James turned 14 in March and Julie turned 11 in May.





James enjoys taking long rides on his bike and producing breath-takingly beautiful artwork and projects of one kind or another. He loves swimming and horsing around with Patrick. He takes great delight in "ninja-ing" his family members, and he and Patrick have a running contest to see who is more Ninja. James likes middle school and brought home straight A's. He was also voted most artistic 7th grade boy by his classmates.

Julie loves to play school or kitchen with Bella, paint her nails with Rosie, go swimming, and sew. We're currently working on making some pajamas for her and she always has some little embroidery project in the works. She loves, loves, loves going to family weddings and dancing the night away all dolled up. Probably her favorite pasttime, though, is to cuddle up in my lap and just snuggle and love.

Though they were both a bit fearful of the dogs when they came home, they absolutely love them now. They also enjoy holding the bunnies or our guinea pig. James loves to watch the frogs go cricket-hunting when we feed them, and Julie adores our fat-cat Mamfy. James has a great time fishing in our pond or skating on it in winter time. Julie is not as much of a nature-child as her brother, but likes to go for walks to the creek or play outside in the driveway with chalks or her bike.

Their mastery of the English language has been nothing short of amazing. They can both read, write and speak English with impressive fluency. Here Julie has an edge over James, though whether that has more to do with her younger age, or being a girl, or just having an innate talent for languages I guess we'll never know. Though she still gets her pronouns mixed up and has more vocabulary to learn, she's pretty much understood by all who talk with her. James still struggles with sentence structure, so sometimes his point is lost as we try to rearrange his words and figure things out. But he'll get there. They still speak Russian with each other, which we've strongly encouraged so they don't lose their native tongue.

Six months down, a lifetime to go.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

As Bob Dylan once said,

The times they are a-changin'.
And so is this old body.
All signs are pointing to it. Guess I'm going through "the change". Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for aging gracefully and all that poetic nonsense, but do I have to suffer my change and its accompanying emotional rollercoaster ride at the same time that my three daughters are starting to go through some emotional changes of their own? While my two older sons are by turns either strapping young men or wailing preschoolers? At the same time that school turned them loose on me for the entire 10 months (sorry, weeks) of summer break? It's not fair, I tell you, not FAIR (stomping feet)!
Two days in a row now I've cried real tears over paltry stuff the kids have done or said that would barely get an eye-rolling response from me on a normal day.
The kids ask me if I'm OK and I honestly don't know how to answer. Physically? Yeah, right as rain. Mentally/emotionally? I feel like a 14 year old whose crush has just called her fat. I feel like I just watched all the sad parts of Bambi, Dumbo and Old Yeller. I feel like I've been looking forward all week to eating my favorite Ben and Jerry's only to see the empty carton on the kitchen counter and chocolate smeared all over the face of my nine year old.
I need a vacation. What's that? I have a week at the beach coming up? Oh good, just the relaxation I need. I get to pack everything the eight of us could possibly need for a week. I get to figure out what to do with all our animals. I get to count six heads in the surf all day like a mental patient. I get to make sandwiches, sweep sand, go grocery shopping, do laundry, cook dinners, schlepp everyone out to touristy things, and listen to complaints about sandy sheets. All this while feeling alternately hot, bloated, crampy, and like I could cry over someone asking me the time.
Can't wait .....

Sunday, July 5, 2009

"Thank you for America, Mom ...."



First 4th of July celebration for James and Julie yesterday. They had a blast, literally. We kept it simple, just staying home for cookout and DIY fireworks in the driveway. All the kids got to light a few things and ooh and ahh over all the sparkles and bangs. Julie was by turns scared silly and totally amazed. She kept telling me, "Thank you, Mom, for America".
Rosie made a BD cake and we all sang and blew out the candles.

Happy Birthday America!




























Saturday, July 4, 2009

End of another busy week.

You'll forgive me if I've been out of touch for the last week. We had friends visiting with us; they arrived Sun eve and left for home (NJ) yesterday afternoon, which was Friday. The kids all had a blast and they swam, ate, gamed, and played their hearts out for 6 days solid. But it was a houseful. Most days we had 13 here, but there were nights I was cooking for 15 or more depending on what strays we picked up for an afternoon or evening or overnight. Can you say paper plates?

A couple times we loaded everyone into two cars and headed to the movies to see a matinee of Transformers, or to the creek to have a picnic lunch and splash around in the water and throw sticks for our yellow Lab Sunny. My friend Mary and I were even evil enough to pawn all the kids onto her dh for an afternoon as she and I treated ourselves to a chick-flick and cried our eyes out to My Sister's Keeper.

So it was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work making sure the kids picked up their cups and plates and cans and trash. Extra effort being the laundry police to ensure wet bathing suits and towels got hung out to dry instead of sitting balled up in a corner. Being the Fairness Officer so everyone got their turn at whatever they were waiting to play with. Throw into the mix that Julie developed some kind of infection inside her eyelid and Daniel got something worked inside of his pinky toe to create a nasty infection of his own, and an older dog that seemed to have lost touch with his bowel control and it all made for an interesting and busy week.

Fred laughed at me last night. Tucked into bed for the night after a long day I sighed, "It was a fun week but it's kinda nice just having the 8 of us under this roof tonight".
Guess he thought saying "just the 8 of us" was a bit of an oxymoron.

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