life on the funny farm

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Social - Annabelle

Next one down on my siggy line...

Anne,
Wife of Fred for 23 years
Mom of:
Patrick (16)
James (16)
Rosie (14)
Bella(14)
Julie (13)
Daniel (12)
My children around the world:
Milly in Taiwan
Eun Hae in South Korea
Felice in Hong Kong
Nadya in Germany
Obrin in New York
And our critters Blue, Sunny, Cindy-Lou, Annabelle, Fiona, and Sophie; Mamfy, Mali and Punkin; Nick; Frog 1 and Horny Toad; Charlie and Dizzy; Minnie and Alice; Elfie, Frex, Crope, Tibbit and Ozzy; Genevieve, Pippin and Finnegan; and a dozen or so chooks.

I'd like to ask God why He allows
hunger, poverty, and injustice
in the world,but I'd be afraid
He'd ask me the same thing ...




is Annabelle.


















Annabelle is our farm dog.

That means she is on patrol to watch over the critters on our farm. Namely, the goats.

See, at our old place, before we ever had a livestock guardian dog, we had sheep. And one day some neighborhood dogs got into our pasture and tore the place up. They killed one ewe, leaving her week old lamb without its mother. It was around that time I started to learn about LGDs.

Turns out they've been around for thousands of years. They are used to keep livestock safe from predators such as dogs, wolves, coyotes, mountain lions and anything that would think of taking a goat, sheep, chicken, calf, etc. LGDs consist of several different breeds, but most times when you see a large, white, hairy dog? It's a livestock guardian. Great Pyrenese, Akbash, Anatolian, Kuvasz, Komondor, Maremma. There are others, too, but that's all that comes to mind at the moment.

Guardians are NOT to be confused with herders like Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Shelties, Collies, German Shepherds. Those dogs are bred to move the livestock from one spot to the next at the direction of the farmer/shepherd. LGDs patrol and protect. If you have more than one LGD in charge of a flock/herd, and there's trouble afoot, usually 1/2 of the dogs will run out in pursuit of the threat, and half will stay glued to the flock. There is no training required for them to learn this, it's all instinct. If you've only got one LGD, and that's all we've usually had at a time, it will run about 1/2 the distance between the flock and the threat. See, sometimes critters that work in packs, like wolves or coyotes, will create a distraction to draw the guardian away, and the others will circle in to the flock. Easy pickins. That's why the LGDs have learned to never completely leave them. So cool.

When our old LGD, Bear, was getting up in years, we decided we would need a new one. Couldn't find any in our neck of the woods, but we learned of some puppies in North Carolina. So I loaded the kids up in the car and we drove the 7 hours down to NC to a large goat farm. How do you choose which of these adorable balls of fluff to take home? Near impossible. But we chose our little cutie with the badger-colored ears and the heart-shaped nose.

Before too long she figured out what she needed to do. Bear taught her everything he knew before he passed. I never got too confident of how well she would be able to handle things if they got dicey, b/c she just seemed like such an ol' softie. But then one night we heard a huge ruckus, and ran outside to find Annabelle in a vicious fence-fight with a neighborhood dog. The goats had all run to the barn when the trouble began while Anna kept this very large dog at bay. We closed the goats up and put Annabelle in with them until we were finally able to get the owner to come collect their beast. Annabelle saved the day that night.

Now she has chickens to add to her collection of critters to keep safe, and she's as gentle as can be with her new charges.

With her human flock, too, I know I would never have to worry. If the kids are out in the fields, she follows them around, quite literally, like a puppy dog. She is gentle and sweet and affectionate and always smiling.

Since her tail is always wagging, I sometimes call her Swisher. Sometimes Belly Button (from Anna BELLE).

Whatever we call her, she's our good dog.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday Social - Cindy

Next one down on my siggy line...

Anne,
Wife of Fred for 23 years
Mom of:
Patrick (16)
James (16)
Rosie (14)
Bella(14)
Julie (13)
Daniel (12)
My children around the world:
Milly in Taiwan
Eun Hae in South Korea
Felice in Hong Kong
Nadya in Germany
Obrin in New York
And our critters Blue, Sunny, Cindy-Lou, Annabelle, Fiona, and Sophie; Mamfy, Mali and Punkin; Nick; Frog 1 and Horny Toad; Charlie and Dizzy; Minnie and Alice; Elfie, Frex, Crope, Tibbit and Ozzy; Genevieve, Pippin and Finnegan; and a dozen or so chooks.

I'd like to ask God why He allows
hunger, poverty, and injustice
in the world,but I'd be afraid
He'd ask me the same thing ...



Is Cindy.
















Cindy is pretty new to our family. In fact, we've had her almost exactly one year, as she was a Christmas gift to Bellalast year.

See, the farm down the street from us where I used to get my eggs before I got chickens had these cute little dogs that would run out to greet me everytime I pulled up. And the times Bella came with me, she was just nuts over these dogs. And then I got to thinkin. Bella would just love one of these. So one day I asked Sarah about them, and she told me they still had a couple puppies left over from their summer litter. So I took a look at them and decided on a little female, and arranged to get her on Christmas morning. And after the kids were all done opening their gifts and things were settling down, I told Bella to have a seat and close her eyes, and then I brought little Cindy up and placed her in her arms. When Bella saw her, she just cried and cried with happiness, and they've been inseparable ever since.

I was told they were fox terriers, but all the pictures I've seen online are telling me she's a rat terrier.

All I truly know is she is a fiesty little so-n-so. She loves everyone in her family but hates anyone who is not. She barks, she nips, she lets you know in no uncertain terms you are not welcome. She knows no tricks, she is not obedient.

Her chief occupation is chew toy to our puppy Fiona. When Fiona first arrived on the scene, she was only Cindy's size, and they played together non-stop. Now Fiona towers over Cindy and is about quadruple her weight, but they still race and wrestle constantly. And I'm here to tell ya', Cindy can hold her own. Ain't nothin can take her down.

Nevertheless, she is still a cuddlebug. She wakes Bella up every morning with kisses and wiggles, and she jumps up and paws at the legs of all her human family to say hello to each and everyone of them throughout the day.

Pain in the tush, that one. But she's our little Cindy Lou Who. We'll keep her.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday Social - Blue

Next one down on my siggy line...

Anne,
Wife of Fred for 23 years
Mom of:
Patrick (16)
James (16)
Rosie (14)
Bella(14)
Julie (13)
Daniel (12)
My children around the world:
Milly in Taiwan
Eun Hae in South Korea
Felice in Hong Kong
Nadya in Germany
Obrin in New York
And our critters Blue, Annabelle, Fiona, Sunny, Sophie and Cindy-Lou; Mamfy, Mali and Punkin; Nick; Frog 1 and Horny Toad; Charlie and Dizzy; Minnie and Alice; Elfie, Frex, Crope, Tibbit and Ozzy; Genevieve, Pippin and Finnegan; and a dozen or so chooks.

I'd like to ask God why He allows
hunger, poverty, and injustice
in the world,but I'd be afraid
He'd ask me the same thing ...


Is Blue.


Blue is an Australian Shepherd, and our oldest dog. He'll turn 12 in a couple months, but our vet thinks he looks he looks no more than half his age.

Our kids are teens now, but were babies and preschoolers when we got him, so they've grown up with him. When the kids were all little, he used to play with them. I'm not talking about fetch, I'm talking about duck-duck-goose and red-light-green-light. I'm not kidding you, he knew how to play those games and would join in whenever we started one of them.

Through the years, he's dabbled in sheep herding, agility and obedience training, and has done well at everything he's put his paw to. Though it's been years since he's gone to herding classes or competitions, he saved the day about a year ago when the goats got out of the barn and niether the vet nor I could convince them to get back in. Had it not been for Blue's herding prowess, we would have had to reschedule the appointment, wasting both the vet's time and mine.

He is the. Smartest. Dog. Ever.

If he's staring at you when you're eating, all you have to say is "Don't be rude, Blue" and he slinks off looking ashamed of himself. Though I don't get around to walking them much, when I do he is a perfect gentleman on the leash. I could probably take him tomorrow to a vet's office or a playground or a circus and he would give me a wonderful off-leash heel with a sit at my stops. He's that good.

Though he's really too big, he still tries to be a lapdog now and then. I'll never say no.

He's my Handsome Man.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Social - Obrin

Next one down on my siggy line...

Anne,
Wife of Fred for 23 years
Mom of:
Patrick (16)
James (16)
Rosie (14)
Bella(14)
Julie (13)
Daniel (12)
My children around the world:
Milly in Taiwan
Eun Hae in South Korea
Felice in Hong Kong
Nadya in Germany
Obrin in New York
And our critters Annabelle, Fiona, Sunny, Sophie, Cindy-Lou and Blue; Mamfy, Mali and Punkin; Nick; Frog 1 and Horny Toad; Charlie and Dizzy; Minnie and Alice; Elfie, Frex, Crope, Tibbit and Ozzy; Genevieve, Pippin and Finnegan; and a dozen or so chooks.

I'd like to ask God why He allows
hunger, poverty, and injustice
in the world,but I'd be afraid
He'd ask me the same thing ...



Is Obrin.


















We are Obrin's host family with the Fresh Air Fund, and he stays with us for a time each summer. He's only been with us two years now, but he is definitely part of the family. First year he stayed a week, this past summer he stayed about two, and next year we'd like him to stay longer.

He's from New York City and he's nine years old. He loves to swim, play video games with his summer brothers, pick tomatoes from our garden, and pet the ponies. This past summer he climbed a tree for the first time. I had tried to get him to take on that challenge the first summer but he wasn't quite up for it. This year? He was ready. And he went almost high enough to make me feel uncomfortable. Once he did that, there was no stopping the climbing and he moved on to tackling our fences.

His Mom tells me that as soon as school is out, he starts pestering her with,
"How many more days till I can see my summer family?"

Obrin. He's our summer Son.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Look Who's Coming to Town!

OK, this is just so cool.

Mary will be filming her pilot Spirit Seeker

AT MY HOUSE!!!!!

Our house is going to play the part of quaint bed and breakfast in PA Dutch country.

Some of our kids will even get cameos.

There's one little problem. What was initially going to be a virtual 0-budget film is now getting a little more serious, with the involvement of some bigger names. Mary and her crew are now in a position where they need to raise some money to fly some of the "names" from LA and the UK out to my place. And I guess they need to put them up and feed them, too. You know these Hollywood types. So entitled. Always wanting a bed to sleep in and food to eat. Guess they'd thumb their respective noses at my couch and sleeping bags. They'd probably push their dishes of macaroni and cheese and hot dogs away, too. Sheesh.

Anyway, if I embedded this clip properly, you should be able to click to play the video, so Mary can do better job of 'splaining things to you than I can.




And here's the original clip of Spirit Seeker:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Social - Nadja

Next one down on my siggy line...

Anne,
Wife of Fred for 23 years
Mom of:
Patrick (16)
James (16)
Rosie (14)
Bella(14)
Julie (13)
Daniel (12)
My children around the world:
Milly in Taiwan
Eun Hae in South Korea
Felice in Hong Kong
Nadya in Germany
Obrin in New York
And our critters Annabelle, Fiona, Sunny, Sophie, Cindy-Lou and Blue; Mamfy, Mali, Milky and Punkin; Nick; Frog 1 and Horny Toad; Charlie and Dizzy; Minnie and Alice; Elfie, Frex, Crope, Tibbit and Ozzy; Genevieve, Pippin and Finnegan; and a dozen or so chooks.

I'd like to ask God why He allows
hunger, poverty, and injustice
in the world,but I'd be afraid
He'd ask me the same thing ...



Is Nadja.
















Yes, Nadja (or Nadya), my sweet German daughter.

She was our most recent exchange student, staying with us for the 2007/2008 school year. She and my girls bonded immediately. They looked to her for her sense of fashion and they loved doing the whole bathing beauties thing together at the pool or the beach. I can't say my sons were complaining about that much, either.

She was the first of our students to attend the district school instead of the charter school where my kids attend, but I definitely think it was the better option for her. I don't know if her education was all that it could have been, but she made a ton of friends and got involved in some sports through the school.

She is fluent in German, English, French, and I believe some Spanish, as well.

Nadja was a good student, and possessed a strong moral compass. Along with being a great friend and sister to my girls, she was also an excellent role model. They remain friends to this day, texting and chatting and skyping and all that stuff kids do these days to keep in touch with each other.

She's currently doing very well in college and having a wonderful time living independently in her own apartment.

She came back to visit with us last year, and attended my nephew's christening with my family. Because she is part of our family. I hope, hope, hope she is able to make her way back here again to visit us one day.

She's my German Girl.

Love you, Nadya!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Beulah as Biographer

My Life.

As told by Beulah, my car.

That's right, my car.

A car can tell a lot about a person, didja ever notice?

For instance,


I've got kids.
Lots of kids.
With kids comes the need for spare essentials in the back of the car.

Essentials such as

crayons
coloring books
hairbrushes
hairbands
socks
sweatshirts
blankets
umbrellas
word-find puzzle books
Mad Libs
used napkins
nearly empty french fry cartons
balloon animals from the last festival
soccer-ball-shaped erasers from the last soccer tournament
plastic rings from the last trip to the family fun place where $30 worth of tokens yielded 25 cents worth of plastic crap that was forgotten about before arriving back at home.















And here we have, from left to right:

My family.

Except, wait. One of them appears to be missing. Is that some cosmic indication that one of my kids is really missing?

Hold on.

.............

I'm back. All kids present and accounted for. Nice one, cosmos. You almost had me there.
Like my family in real life, they are getting a bit ragged. My kids need a bit of nagging here and there to take showers, clip their nails, wear deodorant. My sticker family needs a little help, too, to keep firmly plastered to the back of my car at all times. Like my real kids, they don't listen very well.
















Next sticker is my philosophy on life, in general:
Wag More, Bark Less.

I know several people that I hope will tailgate me just so they can get a good, close look at this message.

Followed by that sticker is the next:
Life is Good.

This sticker has taken a beating and is very difficult to see at this point.
In real life, this idea is hard to see sometimes, but that doesn't make it any less true.

Thank you, Beulah, for pointing that out. You are very wise, indeed.

Next is a skating sticker, b/c my Bella is a very graceful and talented ice skater. Beulah likes to brag on my kids. She's a very boasty gal.

Then comes our school name because I very stupidly like to let all the crazies know where my kids attend school. I know, I don't understand myself, either. At least I've smudged it out for the blog, so I know where to draw some semblance of a line.

Last sticker is good ol' "Exit 63", which is where I spent my growin' up years, and is the only shore destination for this family.





So then over my gas tank door thingy is a soccer ball to honor Rosie's committment and talent as a soccer goaltender. It is also a reminder of how much it costs in gas dollars to cart a child hither and yon to practices, games, and tournaments. But to paraphrase those commercials, seeing her leap sideways to stop that ball? Priceless.















Heading towards the front of the car is a giant Band Aid. Because poor Beulah has seen her share of scrapes and dings. The trim piece on the driver's door is no more, and the one behind it is soon to follow.
You can also see her grill is looking pretty busted up, and one of her eyes is hanging loose in its socket. Poor thing. Poor, pitiful old thing.
And you know, I forgot to take my keys out with me when I went to take the pictures, and I was far too lazy to go retrieve them, so I couldn't turn the car on and show you the odometer. Let me just tell you that this old gal and I have seen over 207,000 miles together. And the only thing I've needed to replace other than brakes and tires and oil was the alternator just recently.

Good girl, Beulah, good girl.
































This one here? This is Beulah's way of letting you know I loves me some Tastycake. When GMC performed their factory performance testing on the leather and the stitching and the springs, they weren't counting on someone like me getting in and out of the driver's seat time after time for 8 years and 200,000+ miles. No. No they weren't.

















And that's all you need to know about me.

My Life.

As told by Beulah, my car.

I think I see a second career for her after her retirement.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Farm Friday - Green Pumpkins

You know the mantra: reduce, reuse, recycle.

And that other one: buy fresh, buy local.

Well, I've done my part. Check, and check.


Like every year, we bought our punkins at a local Mom and Pop Pick-Ur-Own farm. Complete with hayride by Pop Lytle himself, and three generations of his kin to help run the place.


And after carving them and setting them out on the stoop for no one to see (we don't get any trick-or-treaters round here), I decided I could offer our pumpkins-turned-neglected-jack-o-lanterns one better than the garbage can.

One better even the compost pile.

I gave them to the chooks!

And they loved them.

The circle of life? It looks a little something like this:

Pumpkin seeds = pumpkins = jack-o-lanterns = food for chickens = eggs.

Orange = green = brown (eggs)



Looks like orange is the new green.






Thursday, November 10, 2011

Verbal Droppings

I follow a blogger who never fails to amuse me with the verbal droppings of her children. They are unfailingly creative, clever, and hysterically funny.

So then I think to myself,

I'll blog some of the things my little comedians say. I should have a cornucopia of material to choose from. After all, I have six to her two. My kids are smart. They're funny. They are creative and clever.

But when I sit down with fingers primed, all ready to let the diatribe flow forth onto my screen?

I got nothin'.

Why is that? It truly stumps the poop out of me.

THEY'RE FUNNY!
THEY'RE CLEVER!
THEY'RE OUT OF THE BOX!

















Maybe it's my shoddy memory. I have to cram so much #@*& into my brain what with all their appointments and meal planning and birthdays and school forms that I cannot retain anything they have actually said in my presence.

I mean, if I have to ask myself,
"Did I brush my teeth?"
"Was Daniel wearing shoes when I dropped him off to school this morning?"
then how do I expect to remember actual spoken words? Not gonna happen.

I thought I would follow them around the house, wearing a jaunty little hat and carrying a notebook; pencil poised to write down anything remotely amusing. But then of course I saw dog hair that needed to be swept. And then the stray socks on the floor reminded me of the laundry that needed switching. And when I was up there I realized I was almost out of detergent and ran down to add it to the list and ....
...what was I doing?

So, yeah. That didn't work out so much.

The other day I actually picked up five out of the six of them in carline (plus a friend). A rare event. And we had fun. There was laughter, to be sure.

But blogworthy laughter? No. No, not really.

One of them burped real weird. That was funny. We all laughed at that, I can tell you.

When we were pulling into the driveway I saw my mare Genevieve running around in the pasture and said,
"There goes Gen running around like a maniac again. She keeps getting her panties in a twist lately over some horse in the next field."
To which one of them asked, "Where do you get panties for a horse?"
"She's just borrowing some of mine", sez I.
"Way to build your self-esteem, Mom."

And we all laughed in the car and bonded. But it just doesn't translate to chuckle-worthy stuff once it's written down.

I could write about some of the funny English as a Second Language stuff, like how Julie used to call girls "groins", and how James thought vagina began with a W...

"You know, girl's parts that begin with W. I don't want to say. W, W!"

...but likely someone would misconstrue and think I was bullying them by poking fun and then I'd be under investigation, and where's the funny in that?

Sigh.

You'll just have to take my word for it. My kids are funny.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bashing My Head Against a Wall of Hatred

My friend Lori, from Five of My Own, recently came under fire from a blogger named - ironically - Joy who describes herself as "pro-adoptee". Until she tagged herself as such, I thought (from the few things I had read by her) she was anti-adoption. Her ranting post against Lori was filled with rambling, name-calling, f-bomb-laden insanity in which she accused Lori of being a racist, a baby-buyer, and more.

In Lori's defense, I thought I would jump in and say a thing or two. It turned into a back and forth debate that spanned a couple days but sadly, got nowhere. After several verbal (well, written) volleys, I decided to try to end things by seeing if we could find some middle ground. A meeting of the minds, as it were. I figured, she feels like she is an advocate of adopted kids, as do I, so maybe if we could better understand each other's perspective on some level, we would all benefit.

What follows is the end of my post, and then her response:


So why don’t we try something new and stop making assumptions about each other?

I’ll go first. I consider myself an adoption advocate. That pretty much means that I am all for adoption, and I try to open people’s hearts to the concept that maybe they could adopt,or foster. There are so many kids in this world without families. Way too many. If I could find a genie to grant me a wish, it would be that every child could have at least one loving, capable parent. But I’m not running around rubbing lamps. Instead, I write, and I try to get people to think that maybe they could make a difference. That’s prety much my entire platform.

But what about you? You seem like a reasonably intelligent person. You say you are not anti-adoption, but when I read phrases like “doll-buying bitches”, what am I left to think? It was only after reading several things from you that it came across that you are “pro-adoptee”. And I still really don’t know what that means. I would love for you to teach me. For if I hope to advocate for adoption at all, how can I do that effectively if I don’t know all there is to know from every angle?

But Joy, teach me, do not alienate me, and then I’ll be one more person who can help to advocate. Let’s face it, you want the best for the kids, I want the best for the kids. It seems you and I have different ideas about what “best” means, but I would like to understand. Because I just don’t. All I see is hatred and anger. Help me to better teach those in society (but again, NOT the other APs/PAPs I have met) that we are not saving them, they are not lucky we adopted them, they should not be grateful to us, we are not saints. Society is filled with this viewpoint. I just don’t see APs/PAPs as the enemy.


November 4, 2011 5:44
Anne, dude you are sick in the head, no?

I can’t even believe your comment or that you expect to be taken seriously. If you wanted the best for kids you would do that.

I can’t even relate to you, your type of personality is so foreign to me. NO! my adoptive parents are nothing like you, they are way more sophisticated and kind and you are sicking me the f*** out. Really, what the f*** is wrong with you?

You don’t need me to educate you, there are plenty of adoptee blogs that aren’t as offensive as mine. I don’t want to “help” you , you make me sickened. How dare you come here and spew your stupid crap? Really how dare you? Okay racist cow, go have fun making light of adoptee issues elsewhere and f*** right off. I hope you get bit by the nasty fleas in your own carpet. Good God Woman.




I decided right there was as good a time to jump off that train as any. Me? I'll grab any chance I can to share my thoughts on the value of adoption, b/c that's what I believe in. But "Joy"? Even when I asked her point blank to share with me her views, she couldn't do it, leaving me to wonder if she really has any.

I learned a couple days later that she wrote a whole long post about me. None too flattering, I can assure you

I didn’t post your picture because I have since joined the anti-hair-defamation league. Good God woman, it is not 1983 anymore. Hairbrushes are not as expensive as an adoptling.

and yet she still did not clarify what her views were.

And Joy, if you happen to be reading, there's more to pick on me for than my hair (I actually thought my hair looked pretty good in that picture, which shows how much I know). I can give you a list if you'd like: I'm overweight; my teeth are crooked and in no danger of blinding anyone with their whiteness; my clothes are old and out of style; my skin shows its age and then some; my hands look like they've been working in a barn (oh wait, they have been working in a barn)...

There's way more, but I'll not bore my readers by fleshing out that list any further. Suffice it to say I am neither elegant nor eloquent, I am far from perfect, and I'm actually OK with that. Clearly, appearances mean a lot to you. For me? Not so much.

As for the adoption issue, I guess no matter what it is you believe in, even when it's something as seemingly win-win as adoption, there are going to be those with an opposing viewpoint. I guess I would just like to know what that opposing viewpoint actually is.

Sigh. I guess I will never understand....

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sunday Social - Felice

Next one down on my siggy line...

Anne,
Wife of Fred for 23 years
Mom of:
Patrick (16)
James (16)
Rosie (14)
Bella(14)
Julie (13)
Daniel (12)
My children around the world:
Milly in Taiwan
Eun Hae in South Korea
Felice in Hong Kong
Nadya in Germany
Obrin in New York
And our critters Annabelle, Fiona, Sunny, Sophie, Cindy-Lou and Blue; Mamfy, Mali, Milky and Punkin; Nick; Frog 1 and Horny Toad; Charlie and Dizzy; Minnie and Alice; Elfie, Frex, Crope, Tibbit and Ozzy; Genevieve, Pippin and Finnegan; and a dozen or so chooks.

I'd like to ask God why He allows
hunger, poverty, and injustice
in the world,but I'd be afraid
He'd ask me the same thing ...



Is Felice.



















(Sorry about the sizing of the picture)

Felice, pronounced Phyllis, was our third international exchange student, and hailed from Hong Kong. She started out the academic year with a family in a different school district. When the host family experienced some family problems and were unable to continue hosting, Felice moved in with a temporary family in our school district. At that point, she and our student at the time Eun Hae became good friends in school.

Halloween night, as my kids were trading their loot, I got a call asking if I would be able to temporarily host Felice. I picked her up around 10 that night, and she never left.

She and Eun Hae were so close, and the agency was having so many problems finding another host family, that we decided to just go ahead and host her ourselves. What's one more, we thought. When we gave the girls the news, they were beyond thrilled.

We were happy for the girls, we were. Unfortunately, Felice didn't turn out to be the greatest exchange student we'd ever had. She tended to the moody side, and never really did form any close bonds with us or with any of our kids. She also, I thought, seemed to dominate our sweet and shy Eun Hae. Their relationship seemed to work for them, though, so I tried to keep a close eye on things, but give them some space to handle their friendship in their own way.

When she left, unlike all our other girls, we never heard from her again. At this point, five years later, I don't really know where she is or what she's up to. I hope she's well.

Felice, if you're out there, give us a shout! I'd love to hear what you're up to.

Daylight Savings


















At the risk of rehashing another old post and boring any readers who have been with me longer than six months, here is what I posted back in April, when we turned our clocks ahead.....



Last year I really screwed up the whole Daylight Savings thing.

I was planning a surprise party for James over at the bowling alley. Everything was going according to my well-laid plans when I got a call from one of his friends...
"Hey, Mrs. K, isn't the party starting at 1?"

"Yes, why?"

"Well, cuz I'm here but no one else is."

"Well, you big goofball, it's only 12:15."

"No it's not. It's 1:15. We turned the clocks ahead last night."

Oh holy crap. Needless to say it was pretty ruined. We still managed to pull off a modicum of surprise by scrapping my original plans and changing things all around, but I went from one of those I'm-the-queen-of-the-universe moods to one of those I'm-a-big-bag-of-poop moods. And the rest of the day it stayed with me and just soured my whole weekend.

So this year I was sooooo ready for it. The kids had off school on Friday and we went to the bookstore and went to the movies and grabbed dinner out and in general kicked off our weekend a day early.

So when I hopped on the computer Fri night and realized that it was DST weekend, I immediately jumped up and started turning all the clocks ahead early. Hours early. I wasn't waiting till 2am. Or morning. I was taking no chances this year.

So the next morning rolled around and I woke up early and got Rosie up so she could get ready to go to play practice. We had breakfast and coffee and got dressed and brushed our teeth and she packed her lunch and off we drove to the school.

And when we got there the parking lot was empty. The doors were locked. She was knock-knock-knocking but wasn't nobody answering.

Ha! I thought.
I'm the only one out of all the play parents that remembered to turn the clocks ahead! What a bunch of nincumpoops they all are. I in my efficiency-glory laugh at them.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Hahahahahahahahaha.

Haha.

Ha........

Oh crap. The clocks get turned ahead on Saturday night. Last night was Friday night.

Big-bag-of-poop mood once again.

The upside was that since it didn't make sense to go all the way home again, we went to Starbucks instead. And we had coffee and breakfast
pay no attention to where I wrote we had coffee and breakfast at home already
Julie was with us, too, and of course the two of them were models of deportment blowing straw wrappers at each other and dribbling drool down their chins. Sometimes the wrappers misfired.
Rosie: Ewww, MOM, she spit liquid in my hair! I feel fluid in my locks.
Julie: It was by accidentally I did it! Wait. Logs? What's logs?
Me: Logs are blocks of wood, Julie. But she said locks.
Julie: Locks? Like combinations?
Me: No. Locks can mean hair.
Julie: Rosie has locks in her hair? I don't understand.

Me: Me neither. Come on, it's time to go back to the school.

And when we showed up "on time" I could have almost felt redeemed except that Rosie ratted me out to all her friends and the teachers involved.

Wonder how I can mess it up next year? I'm running out of ways. I'm sure I'll think of something.

Can't I just opt to save something else instead? I mean, do we alllll have to save the daylight?

I think it's redundant.



To my credit, friends, I managed to NOT screw it up this year! Saturday night I turned my bedside clock back, Sunday morning some of the clocks downstairs. Old dogs CAN be taught!!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

No need to call 9-1-1. This is what my 16 year old son does for kicks.

Do I see Hollywood make-up artist in his future?


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Social - Milly

Oops! Never posted this one from last Sunday:


Next one down on my siggy line...

Anne,
Wife of Fred for 23 years
Mom of:
Patrick (16)
James (16)
Rosie (1)
Bella(14)
Julie (13)
Daniel (12)
My children around the world:
Milly in Taiwan
Felice in Hong Kong
Eun Hae in South Korea
Nadya in Germany
Obrin in New York
And our critters Annabelle, Fiona, Sunny, Sophie, Cindy-Lou and Blue; Mamfy, Mali and Punkin; Nick; Frog 1 and Horny Toad; Charlie and Dizzy; Minnie and Alice; Elfie, Frex, Crope, Tibbit and Ozzy; Genevieve, Pippin and Finnegan; and a dozen or so chooks.

I'd like to ask God why He allows
hunger, poverty, and injustice
in the world,but I'd be afraid
He'd ask me the same thing ...



...is Milly.





















Milly was our very first exchange student. She came to us back in August of 2004 all the way from Taiwan. She was a lonnnnng way from home but she quickly fell into the groove of our family. I was immediately impressed with her level of maturity, and with the degree of respect/obedience to her parents. I can remember her getting all dressed up to go to a school dance. She was wearing heels when she left, and she was wearing them when I picked her up, though all the other girls I saw coming out of the school were barefoot, holding their heels in their hands. I asked her, didn't she take her shoes off during the dance, to get more comfortable? She told me her Mom had said she should keep them on all night so that she could get used to wearing them. And so she did, even though her Mom was literally as far away across the world as she could be. Wow.

Milly was a wonderful big sister, a good friend to the girls and boys she met while she attended our school, and a terrific daughter. She was an excellent cook, too. She invited friends over for her birthday party, and single-handedly cooked several amazing dishes, icluding two of my favorites that she made, sesame cold noodles and pineapple shrimp. I believe she was turning 17 that year.

She came back to visit a year or two after she left. She is now a grad student, and doing quite well. Straight As all the time, of course, then and now. We keep in touch through Christmas cards and Facebook.

Her picture is still up on the mirror in my kitchen, along with pictures of our other students and our kids. I sure hope our paths cross again someday.

She's my Milly.....

Sunday Social - Eun Hae

Next one down on my siggy line...

Anne,
Wife of Fred for 23 years
Mom of:
Patrick (16)
James (16)
Rosie (1)
Bella(14)
Julie (13)
Daniel (12)
My children around the world:
Milly in Taiwan
Eun Hae in South Korea
Felice in Hong Kong
Nadya in Germany
Obrin in New York
And our critters Annabelle, Fiona, Sunny, Sophie, Cindy-Lou and Blue; Mamfy, Mali and Punkin; Nick; Frog 1 and Horny Toad; Charlie and Dizzy; Minnie and Alice; Elfie, Frex, Crope, Tibbit and Ozzy; Genevieve, Pippin and Finnegan; and a dozen or so chooks.

I'd like to ask God why He allows
hunger, poverty, and injustice
in the world,but I'd be afraid
He'd ask me the same thing ...



Is Eun Hae.
















Eun Hae (pronounced Oon Hay) was our second exchange student. She was 16 when she came to us; an extremely shy, quiet little girl all the way from South Korea.

I don't believe she really wanted to be an exchange student, but entered the program out of duty to her parents.

She was unfailingly sweet, and always willing to please. Bella bonded with her instantly, and became Eun Hae's little security blanket.

She became very close with another exchange student, Felice from Hong Kong who joined us later in the school year (more on her next week), as well as a student from Taiwan that lived about a mile down the road from us, but didn't make too many other close friends.

She enjoyed singing in the school choir and became close with her music teacher. This teacher's husband was pastor at a church near the school, and Eun Hae came to love that church. She's a very spiritual girl, that one.

Eun Hae had a few quirky mannerisms, which we loved her for. One was her efforts to keep out of the sun. Apparently, in South Korea, pale skin is sought after the way tans are sought after here in the good ol' US of A. Eun Hae had what she considered to be dark skin. Too dark. She hated it and fought the sun like a vampire. If she were in the car with us, she would often wear sunglasses, and put a piece of paper under the sunglasses to form a mask over the lower half of her face. We tried to explain to her that the windows were tinted and she would not get any sun through them, but she wasn't taking any chances. Or for example, if I were to take all the kids out to the shoe store or something, when she got out of the car she would hunker down in the parking lot in the shadow of the car, desperately trying to keep out of the sun while I got the kids out of the car. Funny girl.

But she was a good student, a wonderful big sister and daughter. Saying goodbye to her at the airport was a miserably sad moment. In her life and in mine.

And do you know that poor little girl, in every communication with me since, has not gone once without berating herself for not being a better daughter? She says once she got home she realized how great she had it with us, what a wonderful family we were, and how she did not join in enough, or show us how much she appreciated us.

Here's an old email from her:

Hi it's me. EunHae.

it's cold. isn't it... i got a cold.

did you have a wonderful christmas and New Year. in korea, we have new year's day on January 1st but we celebrate it February.

Now i'm studing hard like i did before... and i'm sorry that i didn't contact with you for like 1or 2 ( or more than that ) month(s). i wonder what's going on there.

everytime the life here is harsh and unbearable, i think of the time i stayed there.

it was like heaven. and so comfortable.... so i want to say thank you again.

so how are you doing???? and how kids are doing???? i wonder what's going on in America.

now i'm going school and i went to some tranning center from church last week.

it was so awesome and great. the pastor was great and his church was one of the most largest church in korea (or maybe in the world.. ) it was really huge and great....
and when he lectured, i sometimes slept but i think it was good and nice that i didn't regret going there.

i think my life is changing.. i'm studying really hard( i think) and i will follow what my parents and pastor say..

and i think most of the students in our church were changed.... .... i'm so glad... ....

now i'm leading praising part in church. it's kind of hard, but i'm trying to do my best.

miss you, love you so much.... and those old days...

i regret that i dind't give you many things which i can give... and i didn't do my best there.

i once again want to say sorry to you and have a good day..

see ya..

miss you love you
from South Korea EunHae


I surely hope she learns to develop more confidence in herself along the way, because she's really a great kid.

She just doesn't know it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Farm Friday - Pam! Kick it up a notch.

I went out to the barn the other night with Rosie. It was her turn to close things up in the barn, but we had gone out to dinner for her sister's birthday and it was after dark. She doesn't like to go out there on her own after dark.

Because of the rats.

Yes. Rats. Buhahuuuueehhh. Ew.

Because rats, you see, go part and parcel with a barn. A barn is quite simply a haven for a rat. Dog food, chicken feed, water, bits of hay, lots of good hiding places.

During the day they stay hidden, but if you go out there at night you're sure to see one. Or a gang.

Anyway, so brave and compassionate Mom that I am, I accompanied her to the barn, and rats we saw. But they scattered, and we forged ahead with our work. She got our farm dog Annabelle squared away for the night and I went in to check on the chickens. They were all roosting save one. One of our Buff Orpingtons was still all hunkered down in her nesting box, which is where she had been hours earlier. I'm figuring she's blocked.

So I went to the house and got me a can of Pam. Back to the barn I went, and this time I took along Cindy, our Rat Terrier. The rats had stayed hidden, though (probably b/c I had left the lights on) so she didn't get to do any rat hunting.

Anyway, I picked up Goldie or Puddin' or Big Mama, not sure which Buff it was, truth be told, and sprayed her nether regions down with some Pam. I did a little external palpation but nothing felt unduly amiss, so I put her back in her box and hoped for the best.

I can honestly say that is the first time I have ever used Pam in that particular fashion.

Maybe I should call them up and let them know? Kind of like the endorsement Crisco got in The Help?

"Hello, Pam Operator? Can you connect me with marketing, please?"
I really think it would make a great commercial:

"Pam. Keeps your eggs from sticking in your pan, keeps your eggs from sticking in your chicken's ass. Buy some today!"

Anyway, the next day she was no better. Still sitting in her nesting box, still looking morose, still no egg.

I sprayed her down again and when about doing my business running kids to the orthodontist and play rehearsals and whatnot.

Then in the evening I decided it was time. I was goin' in.

So we brought her inside, nesting box and all, and placed the whole works in a dog crate. I got out a heat sock, which I warmed up and put in a ziplock, and I got out the mineral oil. I turned, let's call her Goldie, upside down and tucked her under my arm, with arse forwards (hers, not mine). I coated her liberally with the oil and put her back in her crate on top of the toasty heat sock.

So now I've got chicken, and oil, and heat. Good thing we already ate dinner.














































We never did get her to produce an egg, but she seems better this morning somehow. She's moving easily, eating, drinking, clucking. Being a chicken.

Fingers crossed. Will keep you posted.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday Social - Daniel

Next one down on my siggy line...

Anne,
Wife of Fred for 23 years
Mom of:
Patrick (16)
James (16)
Rosie (1)
Bella(14)
Julie (13)
Daniel (12)
My children around the world:
Milly in Taiwan
Felice in Hong Kong
Eun Hae in South Korea
Nadya in Germany
Obrin in New York
And our critters Annabelle, Fiona, Sunny, Sophie, Cindy-Lou and Blue; Mamfy, Mali and Punkin; Nick; Frog 1 and Horny Toad; Charlie and Dizzy; Minnie and Alice; Elfie, Frex, Crope, Tibbit and Ozzy; Genevieve, Pippin and Finnegan; and a dozen or so chooks.

I'd like to ask God why He allows
hunger, poverty, and injustice
in the world,but I'd be afraid
He'd ask me the same thing ...




Is Daniel.




















3rd child to come into my family.
6th in birth order.

My only redhead.

My baby.

MY BABY.

Oh I love this kid.

Funny?

Oh my.

He's also creative and, uh, unique. I never know what this child is going to say next.

His Christmas wish list last year? It included a Tempurpedic mattress and a poncho.

He has a penchant for wearing hats of all sorts. And boots.

When he was about nine years old, I lost him for a few minutes in a book store. I said to the clerk,

"I can't find my son. He's about this high, he has red hair and freckles, and he's wearing an elf hat." It was not Christmas time.

He's super smart. Like, scary smart. He has an idea journal in which he has all these intricate sketches for machines of all sorts. He has big plans for how to provide desert areas with clean water, how to create a Mars colonization breather, spaceships, jetpacks, cars that run on water....

His knowledge of geography and history far surpasses mine. He is 12.

I remember taking him to our school for his Kindergarten screening the spring before he started school. He came clomping into the school in his boots and yelled out to everyone he met (and they all knew him by name, though he was not yet a student there) "I'm here for my Kindergarten screaming and I'm gonna do the best I can!"

I have had more than one teacher tell me that when they get home, their spouse asks them to share the latest from Mr. Daniel.

He is an amazing writer and if he could stick with something for more than a heartbeat, he could probably publish a novel. Like now.

He has dabbled in soccer and gymnastics, and took Kung Fu long enough to get his orange sash and then decided he had had enough of that.

He loves video games, reading books like his 40,000 page book on the universe, and drawing (he is, among so many other things, a gifted artist).

When I am not rolling on the floor over the latest Daniel-ism, I am sending him TO HIS ROOM! for, ummm, interpersonal issues with his siblings. He does not always play well with others. Because, if you haven't guessed it yet, he kind of marches to the beat of his own drummer.

While wearing his boots and a hat.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Henpecked

Big, bold Big Daddy.

Seems he's hen-pecked.

I guess that's what it is. All around the base of his tail he's bald.




















He acts so tough, but I guess he just lets his ladies walk all over him.

Yesterday I was at my milk farm. I thought to myself,

"Who better to ask an animal husbandry question than this nice, young Amish girl?"

So I sez to her, I sez,

"Sadie, let me ask you a question. I've got a rooster that's going bald all around the base of his tail. Have you ever seen that?"

And she knew right what I was talking about.

"Oh yah", she sez. "We had a rooster that happened to. Lost all his feathers right around his tail."

I brightened. I knew I had come to the right place with my question.

"What did you do about it?" I asked.

"We got a new rooster."







Sigh.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Glass is Half Full!















It's all about perspective, right?

It's all about how you choose to look at the sh- I mean the stuff that happens in your life.

So here goes....

Sh - Stuff that happened:
I had to spend money that we don't really have on new pants.

Altered Perspective:
I'm down a size and my fat pants no longer fit!


Sh - Stuff that happened:
When I got back in my car, the battery light was on and my car told me that my battery was not charging, whatever that means. The needle on the battery gauge proceeded to nosedive on the drive home.

Altered Perspective:
My car started! I was able to drive almost all the way home! Who needs a speedometer or a gas gauge?!


Sh - Stuff that happened:
When I got to my mechanic, his "CLOSED" sign was in his door.

Altered Perspective:
Since he's only a little one man shop, that probably just meant he was out to lunch. Or possibly reading the paper in the bathroom. Isn't that just quaint and provincial?!


Sh - Stuff that happened:
The minute I turned off the main road onto the side street leading home, my car died completely.

Altered Perspective:
I was able to coast down the hill and make it to within about 1/4 mile from home!


Sh - Stuff that happened:
Couldn't get out of the car.

Altered Perspective:
Who needs power locks? Who needs the driver's door? Who needs power windows, I didn't want to climb out the window anyway, what am I, a loser? Now that I've lost a little weight, it's easy peasy to extricate myself from behind the steering wheel and climb over the cup-holder-storage-compartment-area over to the passenger's seat and out the door b/c that lock never worked anyway, see, isn't that a good thing?


Sh - Stuff that happened:
Triple A informed me my battery's dead and my charging system ain't workin'.

Altered Perspective:
Yay for Triple A!!!!


Sh - Stuff that happened:
Tow truck hauled Beulah up onto the flat bed and drove me and my car to my mechanic's, while I silently prayed the "OPEN" sign would be in the door.

Altered Perspective:
Wow, what a wonderful car is my Beulah. 205,000 miles and this is the first time she's had to be towed, not counting those pesky collisions! And look! Bill IS open, PTL!


Sh - Stuff that happened:
Couldn't pick up my youngest from school. Couldn't take him to his appointment.

Altered Perspective:
Yay for my friend Theresa! She was able to pick Daniel up from school and deliver him all the way home for me!


Sh - Stuff that happened:
I will have to pay through the teeth, with money I don't have, to repair my ancient jalopy.

Altered Perspective:
Maybe I can make it all the way to 300,000 miles! Go Beulah!






Sh - Stuff that happened:
I begged and pleaded with you on a daily basis to vote for me in some stupid blog contest.

Altered Perspective:
You voted! The voting is all done and you got me into the Top 25! In fact, I'm like next door neighbors with the Duggars on this list! Raise the roof!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday Social - Julie

Next one down on my siggy line...

Anne,
Wife of Fred for 23 years
Mom of:
Patrick (16)
James (16)
Rosie (1)
Bella(14)
Julie (13)
Daniel (12)
My children around the world:
Milly in Taiwan
Felice in Hong Kong
Eun Hae in South Korea
Nadya in Germany
Obrin in New York
And our critters Annabelle, Fiona, Sunny, Sophie, Cindy-Lou and Blue; Mamfy, Mali and Punkin; Nick; Frog 1 and Horny Toad; Charlie and Dizzy; Minnie and Alice; Elfie, Frex, Crope, Tibbit and Ozzy; Genevieve, Pippin and Finnegan; and a dozen or so chooks.

I'd like to ask God why He allows
hunger, poverty, and injustice
in the world,but I'd be afraid
He'd ask me the same thing ...



Is Julie.


















5th in birth order of my kids.
6th in order of when she came into my family.


She is funny.
She is vivacious.
She is beautiful.
She is helpful and kind and loving.

I cannot imagine my life without her.

And yet, I resisted the idea of becoming her mother.

If you are not familiar with the story, I will tell you that eight years ago, my husband and I decided to bring a little girl into our lives through adoption. That was Bella, I wrote about her last week. While we were in Kazakhstan doing our two week visitation with Bella, we met a little boy, named Borya (wrote about him a few weeks ago). We fell in love with him and learned years later that we could adopt him, too. Only catch was, if we were to adopt him, we must also adopt his younger sister. On this the authorities would not budge. Although we weren't sure if we had grit enough to parent "virtual triplet" preteen girls, we decided to go for it.

But I wasn't happy about it; it was not something I chose to do. I felt my hand was being forced.

And so we travelled to Kazakhstan once again, thrilled at the prospect of being reunited with our long-lost son, yet trepidatious about meeting our new daughter, whom we knew next to nothing about.

And then she walked into the room. And my heart melted. And I was her Mama.

She told me, years later, that on that day that we met, a messenger child came into her classroom and asked her to follow him. Dutifully, she got up, walked down the stairs and through the hall and into a room where she was introduced to two Amerikanzas that were to be her new Mama and Papa.

I thought I had taken a leap of faith agreeing to parent her. But this child? This ten year old little girl? She agreed to join our family when she had never met us, never heard anything about us, and had probably never given more than a moment's thought to the whole concept of adoption her entire life. Got courage?

She folded into our family seamlessly. Within two hours of being home, still fresh off the plane, she had a teeny-bopper poster hanging on her bedroom wall.

The rate at which she learned English was nothing short of staggering.

When she first joined our family, she was my shadow. My velcro child. I could not turn around without accidentally elbowing her or stepping on her foot. When I came out of the bathroom, she would be right there outside the door waiting for me.

Now? She's gained a bit of confidence. She no longer has a look of terror on her face if she turns around and I'm not where she thought I was. She's starting to get that she is with us for keeps. Hard concept to learn when you were placed in an orphanage at the age of three, and your brother was transferred to another orphanage two years later without warning, without a goodbye.

To look at her now you would never know she had any insecurities. She is a typical 13 year old girl. She texts, she chats with her friends on Facebook. She has sleepovers and does her nails and rides her bike and listens to her favorite music on her ipod. She dances, she gets silly, she's loud. She gets obnoxious, she gets grounded, she pouts.

She loves school, loves her teachers, loves her friends. She loves horses, but is afraid of them. She has a hamster and a cat. She eats non stop and is growing like a weed and is all angles and knees, and yet all grace and beauty at the same time. She will probably be taller than me by the new year.

She is younger sister to her two big brothers and two big sisters. She is big sister to her little brother. She is a niece and a cousin and a granddaughter.

She is my daughter. And at one time, I did not choose her.

Shame on me....














Almost into the top 25. 2 spots away.
Please click this pink button, scroll down to my blog, then click to vote.
Voting ends tomorrow!
Thank you.....

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Social - Bella

Next one down on my siggy line...

Anne,
Wife of Fred for 23 years
Mom of:
Patrick (16)
James (16)
Rosie (1)
Bella(14)
Julie (13)
Daniel (12)
My children around the world:
Milly in Taiwan
Felice in Hong Kong
Eun Hae in South Korea
Nadya in Germany
Obrin in New York
And our critters Annabelle, Fiona, Sunny, Sophie, Cindy-Lou and Blue; Mamfy, Mali and Punkin; Nick; Frog 1 and Horny Toad; Charlie and Dizzy; Minnie and Alice; Elfie, Frex, Crope, Tibbit and Ozzy; Genevieve, Pippin and Finnegan; and a dozen or so chooks.

I'd like to ask God why He allows
hunger, poverty, and injustice
in the world,but I'd be afraid
He'd ask me the same thing ...



Is Bella.


















Bella is my 4th child in order of when they came into our family, my 3rd in birth order, and my last in order of tallest to smallest.

Once upon a time I had three children. Boy, girl, boy, all brought into the world and into our family the old-fashioned way. Then one day it occurred to me that my little girl did not have a sister.

I could not have that.

I am very, very close with my sisters.

I had talked in my younger, idealistic days of adopting children. Why not now? I wanted another daughter, Rosie wanted a sister, and I was quite sure there were oodles of children in the world that would want a family. All I had to do was go out and find one. Easy peasy.

And so I did, but ain't nothin' easy peasy about adoption, let me assure you.

Long story short, we found our Bella. And it was meant to be. We knew she had some special needs, but we also knew this was one little mighty love muffin of a child and that she was our daughter. Make no mistake. Grab a tissue if you have a spare minute and read our meeting story. Or read a little about the beginnings of her life, and why she still sometimes has bad dreams.

And so she came home to us back in 2003, started Kindergarten a few days later, and turned six a month after that. That was just about exactly eight years ago. That's right. Next month, my little peanut turns 14. I shall faint.

To look at the next eight years, on paper, one might ask, what the hell did you get yourselves into?

There were surgeries. Medications. IEP meetings. There were appointments with many specialists to assess needs/make treatment plans for her strabysmus, hearing loss, cleft palate, stunted growth, speech delays, diminished IQ, learning disability, precocious puberty, ADHD, malocclusion, and more.

Today, there are still meetings. Team meetings now cover, in addition to all of the above, planning for her adult life. How much assistance will she likely need? What type of vocational path will she be suited to and how can we help steer her towards that?

I took her to AI duPont a couple days ago to meet with her pediatric endocrinologist. She lovingly calls him Stretchy Guy because whenever he sees her he stands on her feet and stretches her up by her jaw to measure her maximum height. We were delighted to see that after a year and a half, she had grown a little.

She is now 4 feet, 7 3/4 inches tall and weighs around 80 pounds.

She is just about done growing.

Her "working memory," which allows your brain to store away just-learned-things to draw upon later, is at the 2nd percentile. 98% of people have better working memory than she does. Because of this, anything she is trying to learn takes her about 10x longer to learn than her peers. What another child might have to go over five times before it sticks, she might have to go over 50 times. Or more. She is currently struggling for competence at a 3rd grade reading level. She is in 7th grade.


OK, so that's all the nitty-gritty on "issues." And if you're still scratching your head and wondering,

"Why????",

Let me tell you why.

This is The. Most. Loving. Person. You. Will. Ever. Meet.

EVER.

When we were at AI the other day? She spotted her eye doctor in the cafeteria. The man responsible for putting her through four of her six surgeries to date. What did she do?

"Mom, there's Funny Man!" And off she ran to give him a hug and chatter at him, and ask him did he have a fun time on his vacation?


When we have IEP meetings to discuss her progress and her goals, we unfailingly get to talking about how special this child is, and I am never the only one with tears in my eyes.

When I was helping in her Kindergarten class many years ago, a little boy fell off his chair and got hurt. While all the other children stood around the teacher and the boy, Bella immediately ran off to the sink, wet and wrung out some paper towels, and ran back, pushing her way through the crowd to do what she could to help the crying child.

She is always there to rub my back or give a hug if she thinks I'm having a bad day.

If even one little thing happens that makes her really happy, she is filled with emotion and smiles an enormous smile and says, "This is the best day EVER!"

This little child was abandoned by her birth parents, hospitalized for a long time with no Mama to hold her hand through all the pain and fear, and put in an orphanage to be an outcast even among orphans. She struggles and struggles and struggles with learning even the basics, and will need support all her life. And yet about four days a week she has her "best day ever". She loves just about every person she meets. She tries hard, and always does so with a smile on her face.

Unlike so many others that I have met, she does not focus on the disadvantages in her life, but instead rolls around in all the good like a pig in mud. She slathers herself till she is drenched and dripping and stands up proud and beaming.

I love this child more than I ever thought possible. I sometimes get all teary-eyed just thinking about her. Not because I'm sad for the less-than-normal life she has had or will have, but because of the love that just shines out of her pores.

She hurts my heart.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Social - Rosie

Next one down on my siggy line...

Anne,
Wife of Fred for 23 years
Mom of:
Patrick (16)
James (16)
Rosie (13)
Bella(14)
Julie (13)
Daniel (12)
My children around the world:
Milly in Taiwan
Felice in Hong Kong
Eun Hae in South Korea
Nadya in Germany
Obrin in New York
And our critters Annabelle, Fiona, Sunny, Sophie, Cindy-Lou and Blue; Mamfy, Mali and Punkin; Nick; Frog 1 and Horny Toad; Charlie and Dizzy; Minnie and Alice; Elfie, Frex, Crope, Tibbit and Ozzy; Genevieve, Pippin and Finnegan; and a dozen or so chooks.

I'd like to ask God why He allows
hunger, poverty, and injustice
in the world,but I'd be afraid
He'd ask me the same thing ...



Is Rosie.

















My second child by birth.
My first girl.
Now fourth in birth order among the kids.

What an amazing person....

Beautiful.
Talented.
Smart.
Funny.
Full of life.

She's on the honors track in school and gets pretty much straight As all the time.
I remember finding out that she was reading at a 3rd grade level when she started Kindergarten and that she had gotten through at least half of the Harry Potter books by 2nd grade.

A talented goalkeeper in soccer, she's aggressive, sharp, completely fearless.
She's also dabbled in a number of other activities throughout the years, including dance, gymnastics, and drums.

I will never have to worry about her being bullied, or taken advantage of, or stuck in a bad relationship with someone who is treating her badly. She won't stand for it. She was sandwiched between her rough and tumble brothers up till she was nearly six before her sister came along, and she's tough as nails.

She's always had a thing for frogs, and her first pet was "Hoppy", a little toad she found when she was three. He used to ride around in her pocket.

She has a cat named Mamfy that adopted her about 10 years ago, and a little kitten named Milky that sleeps curled up with Rosie every night. And of course, two toads.

I sometimes call her DubCeeDub (WCW), which stands for "When Can We....?" because she's full of drive and always wants to be going somewhere, doing something.

Of course, like any 13 year old girl, she's able to content herself for long stretches at a time by chatting with friends on FB and texting. I don't know how many texts she sends/receives in a month, but suffice it to say it's a good thing we have an unlimited plan.

She loves to fish, swim, read, go for walks to the creek, go on picnics with friends, watch scary movies, and paint her nails.

She was in her school play Godspell last year and she just got herself into the fall play.

Her Aunt Mary is one of her biggest role models and she wants to be an actress someday, just like her. Or maybe a vet.

She loves the beach and can't decide whether she wants to live on Long Beach Island in New Jersey when she grows up, or Salem, Massachussets.

And it won't be too much longer (sigh). She's growing up so fast. She's taller than I am now, and so mature. She's my most reliable child and I know I can count on her for whatever I need (unless it's cleaning her room).

Ack. My heart is hurting.

I love my baby girl.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I Hate Frugality

I come from frugal stock.


My mother raised four kids on her own and we pretty much had squat, so she learned, and learned quick, how to stretch a meal or find the best bargains or come into a lawn-bag-full of outdated ill-fitting hideous clothes with plenty of good life left in 'em. She could feed seven people on one can of tuna and a loaf of generic white bread, as long as there were large quantities of mayonnaise on hand. And some celery.

And my grandmother, bless her soul. I curse her! Living through the depression. Has she any idea what that has done to me? I don't believe the woman ever threw a solitary thing out in her life. Oh there were trash cans in her house, to be sure. For others to use. But she would usually fish out whatever you had thrown in to her recycled paper bag/plastic bag can liners. And she would wear a puzzled and hurt look on her face while she tried to think what could have possessed you to throw away a perfectly good toilet paper tube. Why, she could use that to make....















And I inherited their frugality gene. I inherited it, alright. And again, I say, I curse them! I hate frugality.

I hate sitting on the floor the week before school begins, drowning in last year's notebooks, going through each and every one and ripping out the used pages to give the notebooks new life. I CAN GET COMPOSITION BOOKS ON SALE FOR A QUARTER AT STAPLES IF I WATCH THE SALE CIRCULARS! A QUARTER! So what if they only used 15 pages last year and it looks like new. Throw it out, throw it out!

But I can't. I can't do it.

I hold the comp book aloft over the trash can (well, the recycling bin), poised to toss it callously in. But my grandmother's little angel is perched on my shoulder and whispering in my ear
"Don't do it, it's a sin, look at all the life it still has in it. If you don't want to use it for your child's notebook, then maybe you could start a journal. Or you could write down some favorite recipes, you could paste clippings from magazines."

I even talked my girls into getting all crafty with their old notebooks a couple years ago by covering them with scraps of construction paper and scrapbook papers (not whole sheets mind you, I was saving them, just the scraps) and stickers and what-not. See how cute these are, I said to them. You'll be the only ones in the school with notebooks like these.

I tried the same approach this year but they were not having it.



Couple weeks ago I brought my vacuum in to the repair shop.
The man told me there was nothing wrong with it except for a clog deep in its innards and it needed a filter changed.
Great, how much will it be?
93 dollars.
And I stood there, mouth agape is dismay, for a solid two minutes.
Big Mama was whispering in my ear.
I thanked the man kindly, bought the requisite filter and some new belts, took my vacuum and I left.

When I got home I hoisted the behemoth onto my table and I got me a wire coat hanger and I went fishin' deep in the bowels of the vacuum and I retrieved a wad of hair and fur and old Easter grass and carpet threads and buttons all wound around the dismembered arm of a little soldier. Then I reattached hoses, changed air filters, and cut the hair out of the beater bar with the hedge clippers.

When I was done I was coated from top to tail in vacuum dust. I looked like a chimney sweep.

BUT I SAVED 93 DOLLARS!

ARE YOU HAPPY BIG MAMA, ARE YOU HAPPY?

I hate frugailty.....

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Social - James

Next one down on my siggy line...

Anne,
Wife of Fred for 23 years
Mom of:
Patrick (16)
James (16)
Rosie (1)
Bella(14)
Julie (13)
Daniel (12)
My children around the world:
Milly in Taiwan
Felice in Hong Kong
Eun Hae in South Korea
Nadya in Germany
Obrin in New York
And our critters Annabelle, Fiona, Sunny, Sophie, Cindy-Lou and Blue; Mamfy, Mali and Punkin; Nick; Frog 1 and Horny Toad; Charlie and Dizzy; Minnie and Alice; Elfie, Frex, Crope, Tibbit and Ozzy; Genevieve, Pippin and Finnegan; and a dozen or so chooks.

I'd like to ask God why He allows
hunger, poverty, and injustice
in the world,but I'd be afraid
He'd ask me the same thing ...



Is James















I've written so much about this boy on my blog that I'm not sure what more there is to say.

A few facts:

He was born the third of five children in Bolshenarymskoe Village, Kazakhstan 16 1/2 years ago.

He was placed in the Detsky Dom (Children's Home) in Ust Kamenogorsk when he was six years old. We met him there when we were adopting Bella, when James was eight.

Two years later, he was transferred to the "Internat" (older kids orphanage) in the mountains of Ridder, Kazakhstan, about 80km from the Russian border.

When he was 13 years old, he got on a plane with his little sister and came to America to live with us. Got courage?

This kid took a leap of faith to start a new life with a family he barely knew. Trusting adults had not served him too well in his past, and yet, he went for it.

Since he's been home, he's had his struggles. Reactive Attachment Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder do not make for an easy transition into a traditional family, but he hasn't let that stop him from trying. Though there have been plenty of times he's wanted to throw in the towel, he's kept at it, building trust in the tried and true two steps forward, one step back method.

He's been home with us now for two and a half years. There are times you can find him playing cards with his brothers and sisters, or fighting over whose turn it is on xbox. Other times he's creating breathtakingly beautiful artwork, or homemade science projects, or riding his bike into town to hang out with friends and ride skateboards. He loves speaking in Russian when skyping with his best friend Madiyar. He likes to watch the chickens when he gathers eggs from the barn, he loves our dogs, our rabbits, and takes good care of his hamster. He is wonderful with little children, especially his little 18 mth old cousin. He will be such a good Daddy someday.

He's a sophomore in high school now, and though he still struggles, he keeps at it. Most of his teachers have wonderful things to say about him, though he's had his share of detentions for acting up in class and being disrespectful (pretty good cover for when you're feeling overwhelmed, don't you think?). But I know he'll make it. He's come so far.

Oh and one more thing about James?


He's my son.....

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Disaster

My house is a disaster.

It is messy. It is dirty. There are stacks of papers that need tending. The garden is full of weeds. There is dog hair in every nook and cranny.

I am a mess, as well. Although I must say I have been finding the time to shower and put on clean clothes and wear undergarments of a supportive nature.

Usually.


Why this neglect of house and home and self?

I was working on, but have now finally finished....

MY BOOK.


That's right. For the last year and a half I have been working on writing a book.
















The first draft is now finished.

I sent my first official query letter to an agent on Thursday, September 1st.

I am expecting my first rejection letter in just a few short weeks.

I will frame it and hang it on a wall.


I know there is still much work to be done with making changes to the first draft and sending out query letters, but I must say I am glad I have made it this far. There were times I doubted that I could.

But I have received so many warm, encouraging comments from my readers to do this.

I wanted to honor that.

And James has made so much progress in becoming part of our family.

I wanted to honor that.

James would ask me now and then how the book was coming along. To him, it's been extremely important that this story be told. He wants others to see that it can be done. With love, and patience, and persisitence, it can be done.

And I wanted to honor that.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Farm Friday: Eggstra, Eggstra, Read All About It!

Last Friday I posted about our first egg.

EGGSciting, right?

Now, one week later, well, it's still eggsciting. Only more so.

I wouldn't say we are at the point where we have eggs coming out our ears yet, but our egg compartment in the fridge is full of pretty light brown, dark brown, and green eggs. We've gone from 1 egg a day to 3 to the other day 7.

7 eggs, uh-huh....















Yes, green eggs. From our Americauna hens. In fact, our first green egg was gigantic and a double-yolker! So proud of my girl.

We have officially bought our last egg elsewhere.


Our only problem is our rooster. Our cantankerous roo.

Ever since his gals started laying, he's been a bit, if you'll forgive the pun, cocky.

As in when you walk into the Hen House you take your life in your hands.

The first time it happened, he kind of hopped at me a couple times. Real low and all fluffy and making little noises.

Awww, isn't he just the cutest thing, I thought. He's acting all roostery.

But now we generally enter in pairs, and armed.

Because now he's got his sh** together.

He flies at you fast.
He flies at you high.
He flies at you mean.
He flies at you with his legs outstretched and making a
arrghscraghhhhh
noise with his beak gaping wide open.

I keep an old dust mop/broom thing next to the Hen House gate.

The kids know when they go out to gather eggs, they are to take the egg basket, a little cup of scratch for the ladies, and the dust mop/broom thing to shoo Big Daddy away with.

So one to do recon and one on watch duty. The wing man, if you will.

And the Hen House is filled with the sounds of the contented little cluckles of the hens, the arrghscraghhhhh of the rooster, the swinging back and forth of the dust mop/broom thing, and the threats and screams of the children...

"Don't you even THINK about it, Big Daddy!"

"Hurry up and get those eggs!"

"I'm hurrying, I'm hurrying!"

"Watch your 3:00, he's coming around!"

"He's on your 6, he's on your 6!"

"I've got 'em, let's go, go, go!"
















arrghscraghhhhh





Just a little country ambience....

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Daniel's First Day.

Daniel started school on Weds.

Everyone else started Tues. They were supposed to start Monday, but the first day was cancelled b/c of "transportation concerns and power outages".

Yay first days! Yay school!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Day!

Yesterday was the first day of school.

How much they've grown, even over the summer!


These are the five older kids, starting 11th, 10th, 8th, 7th, and 7th. Daniel starts this morning, so I will have his picture up later today, or maybe tomorrow.

All joking aside, I WILL miss my kids. I do so love the little creatures.



















































































































Bye kids, have a nice day!

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