Friday, August 31, 2007

I need to find a new international calling card. . .

Have you ever spent the whole day, excited about a near-future event, very much like a child the night before Christmas, only to then have the event never happen? I am soooo highly aggravated right now for this very reason!

This past Wednesday, Jill and her mom traveled to Haiti to meet Jill's new daughter. From the start, we planned for me to call her 7 pm on Friday. So 7 pm comes. First call, a gentleman, who speaks very clear English, answers the phone. Bing-o! This never happens and I do a little happy dance at my good fortune. Still, our communication is completely muddled as he can't hear me, and I can hear my words coming back to me twice through feedback on our crappy cordless phone with my crappy quality international calling card. I recall this happening with Cliff's calls to me, and that he had to call back on a regular phone. Even then, the quality was mediocre at best. I tear through the house, trying to find the one non-cordless phone that we have (which serves as a toy for Paloma on occasion). I find the base in a short amount of time, but it takes me about 10 minutes to locate the receiver, and another 10 minutes to locate the cord.

I call Haiti again, and this time no answer. I impatiently wait another 5 minutes, and call again. This time I am unsure if anyone even answers--I think that I hear a female voice, but do not know if it is my echo, or another frequency coming in on the phone, or the possibility that I'm now hearing things at this point.

My last two calls net me the busy signal, and now I only have 7 minutes on my calling card. I am officially resigning from calling Jill tonight.


I am over my need to constantly check the message boards (my proof: I log onto my email first, then my blog, all before I check the boards). I am over my obsession with knowing the status of IBESR and Parquet, because it doesn't matter what happens there--the boys will come home when their file is ready. I can accept all of that.

However, until these boys are home, I will never be over my aching need to find out how my babies are. This need is magnified a thousandfold when my very good friend is at the orphanage where they live. I need to parent vicariously through her, even if for a moment. And not only that, I am dying to know how Jill is holding up in Haiti, how things are with her baby girl, and how are all the other families who are there picking up their children .

So until Jill returns home and I can talk to her Monday morning, I will make do with the following precious photos that a mom took just under two weeks ago.

How adorable are these photos?!? Look at Joel's little boo-boo on his nose! I just want to kiss it. Alas, I can't do that, so the neurotic mom in me made Jill promise to put antibiotic cream on it if it looks infected. Merisier looks to be his happy-go-lucky self, always in the middle of a group of friends. It does my heart so much good to see the boys looking healthy and happy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Comments from the Peanut Gallery

The following conversation occurred this evening at a local ice cream shop.

Atticus: Mom, what kind of nuts are in your ice cream?

Sarah: Pecans.

Atticus: Pecwhat?

Sarah: Peh-cahns

Atticus, looking disappointed: Oh, I thought they were squirrel nuts!

Hatfield: Squirrel nuts are too big for ice cream.

Atticus: No! Squirrels carry their nuts in their mouths.
[We all ponder that thought for a moment]

Atticus: Squirrel nuts are green. You don't want green squirrel nuts in your ice cream.

I certainly don't, my boy, I certainly don't.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My Favorite Hand-Me-Down

Here is my sewing maching:

This was my grandmother Marian's. Singer Model #348. Manufactured in Scotland in 1967/68. I have all the parts and it runs beautifully. I even have the instruction manual, which I hid about 5 months ago after finding it in Paloma's possession, and now I can't remember where I hid it--arrgh!

I'm currently working on a valance for Hatfield's bedroom. We recently switched the children's bedrooms, and we're in the final leg of decorating Hatfield's bedroom.

Saturday night rolled around, and Cliff went out with the guys to watch a UFC tournament on pay-per-view (Neanderthals!). I knew that if I did not have a project to work on, I would waste the evening away surfing adoption boards and blogs, worrying about things out of my control. So, I began creating Hattie's valance.

So far the only things I have left to do are to tack on the second row of pink ribbon, iron and hang. I am getting so anxious to see the results--I'll be certain to post.

The Old Switcharoo

It's time to rebalance the imbalance in my life.

By that statement, I do not mean eliminate the imbalance and replace it with balance. I'm not that unrealistic. By rebalance the imbalance, I simply mean to take one area of complete obsessive compulsive behavior and replace it with a a wholly different obsessive compulsive behavior. In this case, I am taking one behavior--- my compulsive checking of the status of the Haitian adoption process-- with another behavior--which is to revert back to my former obsession with knitting. And for kicks, I'm throwing 'sewing' in there along with it.

So, I'm pleased to present my very first FO in quite a loooonnngggg while!

This is a baby prayer blanket that I made for a special little Haitian boy, "J."
Several months ago my urge to knit returned, but I had no idea what I should knit and for whom. With five kids, it's kind of hard to pick a project and then feel guilt for the others I'm not knitting for (yes, I grew up Catholic). So while paging through my knitting books and mags, little J's face kept popping up into my mind over and over again. J's mom K, an incredible woman who has done a lot to help many family's understand the Haitian adoption process, was in an agonizing wait to go get her boy while the government was dinking about. J is her first child, and she was missing so much of his babyhood, and really, doesn't ever child need a baby blanket, no matter what their age? So I started knitting this prayer blanket, each time picking up the needles, saying a little prayer for their safety, the speed of the adoption, their future, etc.

Here's the other catch: I have knitted many a blanket over time, and never have I ever finished before the baby was ready to come home! It's not because I'm a slow knitter, or I start at too late of a date, it's just that the baby comes early, or I'm off by a week or two. Either way, I figured that perhaps this blanket would somehow tempt fate and baby J would be home before long.

Sure enough, "K" arrived in Haiti yesterday morning to pick "J" up! And sure enough, I finished that evening, too late to have the blanket arrive before she left.

My record still stands.

And no, I seriously don't think that I or my knitting have any sort of cosmic pull that somehow got this child home more quickly (okay, well, maybe just a little. . .I'm going to start on a blanket for our caseworker, who is in the same hellish wait for her son "C," so we'll see!).

With that blanket finished, and without having purchased yarn for baby C's blankie, I have another project OTN:

This time it's a felted tote for me to carry around my current knitting project. I'm really liking this project: it's more complicated than a simple blanket. I garter stitched the bottom, and then I had to pick up stitches around the bottom's perimeter for the sides. Now I'm knitting the sides from the bottom up, in the round, with nifty right twists on all four corners. It looks a bit floppy with loose stitches in these photos, but that will all tighten up when the project is felted. I'll post more as the project progresses.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Lost Children of Haiti

A Major Schlumpf

A bad night turned into a worse morning, when, awake with Paloma at an ungodly hour, I flipped open Good Housekeeping, and there she was: my mirror image.

The title of the article?

"Have You Let Yourself Go?"

Yes, I have turned into Miss Schlumpfy. A past-due haircut hair, layered clothing, schlumpfy canvas purse, ugly sandals. The model is my size, my complexion, my hair and eye color. Ugh.

Really, I would expect to find myself to be rated this in a Glamour or Vogue magazine. But Good Housekeeping?!? Are ya kidding? No, apparently not.

I am waaaayyyy too young to be feeling this way, so something's gotta change. Now it's just a matter of finding the time; that should be a cakewalk, because after all, every homeschooling mother of 3 has time to conduct a self-image overhaul.

Honestly, I would think that today is Monday instead of Friday. I just want to crawl into bed and stay there for quite a while. Haitian adoption timelines are being hand delivered to Hell in a Handbasket, courtesy of The Corrupt. What went from ONE bottleneck that was systematically working it's way down the line (and one that I was naive enough to believe would be nonexistent as we worked our way through the system), has somehow turned into bottlenecks in EVERY stage of their adoption cycle. The step that I'm in will not release files for "some time" while an audit is being done by UNICEF, which is a solidly ANTI-adoption organization and probably is in no hurry to get things moving right along. But does it even matter? The steps after are just as bogged down.

My emotional spectrum has been from wanting to scream, to being weepy, to now feeling just numb. This ride is crazy, and at this point, I'm not enjoying it at all.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

At least she found a use for it. . .

I refuse to be a mother to push their child into potty training, just because she doesn't want to change diapers anymore. Really, who among us wants to change those dreaded doodies? But honestly, kids learn to go when they're ready. I realize that some kids are ready and don't want to, so we mommies have to bribe them into it with insipid tricks like sticker charts (Hattie) or Matchbox Cars (Atticus). But really, all the stickers or cars did was create the incentive and greedy little toilet monsters--it was when they stopped needing the incentive when they were really there. Yes, I just want to avoid the guilt of having any of my pushing create elimination problems of Freudian proportions.

Anyway, I cloth diaper, and kids in cloth tend to train faster because they can feel when they're wet, as opposed to disposies where the kid has to pee 4 cups at least before they're wet, and then really it's not wetness but mushiness from that horrid lining turning to toxic gel on their poor bums.

Paloma is at the stage where she immediately notifies us when she is wet or poohs. She calls it all pooh, but we'll tackle that issue later ;) And she is constantly hellbent with trying to push her sister or me off the toilet and trying to climb on herself. Lovely. So, anyways, I brought up our potty chair. The first morning she thought it was a hoot, and would sit on it as a chair. Since then, it has been long neglected, until we walked into this scene on Wednesday:

At least she's found a use for it! Once Barney's done with his turn, I'm going to reshelf the thing until it's truly time.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Check It Out!

My Daughter the Photographer is also my Daughter the Blogger. Check out her blog:

She takes all her own pictures, and dictates her entries with Mom typing. Mom takes no artistic liberty in Hatfield's blogging; she just types it because she doesn't allow her kids online unsupervised. Mom also monitors/approves the comments.


A Miracle of Polaroid Proportions

Shortly before my May trip to Haiti, old butterfingers here dropped her camera. On the basement floor. On the concrete basement floor covered by a mere splattering of ugly beige basement carpet. After the battering, my camera would start, but would promptly display an Error screen. After calling HP, I was informed by a consultant that I had rendered the camera inoperable, and if I wanted to, I could send it in and pay an upgrade fee for a brand new "refurbished" camera. After finding the a great electronics website (, I found the camera I wanted, brand-new, for less than the "upgraded" refurbished one. Take that, HP!

So the old camera became one of Paloma's newer favorite toys, and yesterday Hatfield picked it up while we were cleaning the basement. "Oh, it doesn't work," she said, turning it on and seeing the 'Error' screen. She pressed some buttons, turned it on and off a few times, and:

The darn thing is working again!!! As Atticus accurately articulated: It's a miracle! (how's that for some wicked good assonance? Bet you all are j-e-a-l-o-u-s)

If finders are keepers, then so are fixers, and the camera is now Hattie's. She is spending most of her free time the past two days taking photos, and she's pretty good! Of course, her favorite thing to take pictures of are her brother, sister, dog and My Littlest Pets. Mom tends to run from the camera.

Monday, August 20, 2007

One Classy Lady

I love Harper Lee. For those who do not know, this amazing woman is the author of the book, To Kill A Mockingbird. My all-time favorite book, my Atticus is named after Atticus Finch. Since high school, I always knew that I would have a son named Atticus. When pregnant with Paloma, Cliff and I seriously considered the name Harper, but decided against it because it seemed a bit creepy in a obsessed fan sort of way.

Harper Lee is a reclusive woman these days, shunning media and public appearances, so any accounts of her presence is a treat to me. Today she broke her silence while attending a ceremony in Alabama, honoring living Alabamians. The chairman joked with Lee, saying that he knew she had something she wanted to say for the crowd.

"Well, it's better to be silent than to be a fool," was her reply.

I have a lot to learn from Miss Harper Lee. I think we all do, perhaps.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Happy 2nd Birthday, Paloma!!

Just how hard is it to take a picture of a moving target?!?

Pretty hard!

We had a great family party at our favorite Mexican restaurant, where Paloma was treated to her first serenade.

And in true moving target style, she wouldn't sit still to eat cake from a plate, but she managed a few moments to get a few fistfuls from the whole cake.

While it proved very difficult to get a great shot of the Birthday Girl, her cousin Aristana proved more than willing. How cute is she?

Handy Helpful Tips

I am all about Handy Helpful Tips lately. Ever since I came across my favorite website ever--hosted by my new online mentor/heroine (see "My Blessed Home" under links). Basically this gal, who is ultra-organized, created a website detailing her organizational philosophies and techniques on every area of one's home. From her I learned of a BRILLIANT way to do laundry which has changed my life for the better!!! Typically I've always stayed on top of doing my laundry, one to two loads per day. And I fold it right as it comes out of the dryer, so that wasn't my problem either. My downfall would lie in the fact that I would transport all of our laundry to my bedroom, where I would sort/stack on the bed. Try as I might, daily life (i.e. children) and the size of my laundry room (won't easily hold 5 laundry baskets) prevented me from sorting my laundry into 5 separate piles while in the laundry room.

Sooooo, sorting laundry for 5 people and then putting it all away is a big P.I.T.A!!! Many times it would sit on my bed, and then be placed back into the baskets at 10:30 at night so the mister and I could go to sleep not covered in laundry. Ugh.

Well, this gal only does laundry one time per week, for everyone in the house. Everyone has a day (some of her children are grouped in two's). While she still does 1-2 loads per day, NO SORTING is required!!! Brilliant!

I employed this technique in my home 2 weeks ago, and let me tell you, laundry is a joyful breeze now!! I wash Cliff and my clothing two times per week, on Sundays and Wednesdays, but the kids each have their own washday. Their bedding is included on wash days, thus eliminating the headache of Clean Sheet Monday (having to make up 5 beds on one day). Hattie and Atticus are old enough to sort, switch over, fold and put away their laundry (I supervise). Things are getting easier!

Anyway, check out her website. She is brilliant and I love her.

But here is my Handy Helpful Tip of the day. The mister taught me this one, and I luv him for it (although honey, if you're reading, I would luv you even more had you just employed this technique yourself and did the darn project, lol!). When hanging tricky shelves, mirrors, etc. that have two sets of holes--meaning you need precisely the right distance and level--you place a sheet of tissue paper over the object. Then place dots over the holes with a marker:

Cut out to size of object and tape on the wall where you would like to hang it (it also helps give you the feel of how it will look)

Always use a level (I've learned the hard way, don't ask!)

Drill holes

Eazy breezy perfection!

And the job is done in record time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Two years ago. . .

I may have lost my dignity, but at least I didn't lose my sense of humor ;)

(Today is the last day my baby is 1 year old, and I'm feeling a bit nostalgic today, hence the photo)


My mom and I canned salsa this past Sunday, courtesy of my garden. As we have not canned for some time, it was a bit of a 3-ring circus, but what fun! I cannot begin to describe the excitement and satisfaction one feels at the end, when the jars announce they are properly sealed with a cute lil 'ping!' We have bread-and-butter pickles as our next canning project.

The ingredients all ready to go (the Corona is optional):

The salsa must be cooked prior to canning:

Our equipment, sterilized and ready for surgery:

Boiling the jars:

Viola! Our finished product:

Saturday, August 11, 2007

When the Moon Hits Your Eye

Some of my favorite childhood memories are those Friday nights when my father would make pizza dough and we would all garnish our own pizzas. He would toss the dough in the air and sing 'That's Amore!', making us all giggle madly. My father died before my brother was even old enough to have these memories that are so deeply entrenched in me, and this realization is a continual reminder to me of the importance of such family moments.

Friday night we celebrated our first week of homeschooling with Pizza Night. Atticus was enchanted by the idea, and spent the entire day discussing the dynamics of dough tossing.
What if it falls on my face mom? Do I take it off, or do I take a bath?
What if I slip and it lands on your refrigerator?
What if I drop it and it lands on the floor?

You pick it up and use it. It's called The Fifteen Minute Rule in our house, son.

Our Dough Boy was a great assistant when it was time to mix and knead the dough.

Both Hatfield and Atticus displayed great form in the Dough Tossing Category:

Tummies rumbled as we put on the finishing touches:

Atticus gave the finished product a big thumbs up:

For years after my father died I just thought that those times were simply gone. Thank you, my children, for giving me these fun and loving times all over again.
When the moon hits your eye
Like a big-a pizza pie
That's amore
When the world seems to shine
Like you've had too much wine
That's amore

Bells'll ring
And you'll sing "Vita bella"
Hearts'll play
Like a gay tarantella

When the stars make you drool
Joost-a like pasta fazool
That's amore
When you dance down the street
With a cloud at your feet, you're in love
When you walk in a dream
But you know you're not dreamin', signore
'Scusami, but you see
Back in old Napoli, that's amore

(When the moon hits your eye)
(Like a big-a pizza pie, that's amore)

That's amore

Friday, August 10, 2007

First Week of Homeschool

Well, we finished our first week of homeschool--and survived! Actually, I am really quite pleased at how well it turned out. From the very first day we got off to a great start due to Hatfield's surprise sign she made for us:

Atticus, while excited for homeschooling, began his day a bit more slowly. He passed on my offer of a morning cup of coffee.

From the start, it was apparent to me what was working well and what would need improvement. I made an extra jobs list (to supplement our chore chart) and food menu for the week, and they were both a huge hit with the two older kids. However, I need to be more mindful of a rotation with Paloma's toys, as well as provide more table top activities for her, because that's where she wants to be--at the table just like the big kids. I also need to add more cutting/pasting projects for Atticus. That kid really loves to use scissors! I gave him a stack of coupons to cut out on Monday and he whipped through them in about 15 minutes.

We were able to take advantage of the nice weather, and today we had a ton of fun with sidewalk chalk on the driveway. The kids had a grand time taking turns lying on the drive and drawing outlines around one another! The neighbors sure got a kick out of that one.

Each day I set aside some of the read alouds for Cliff to do at the end of the day with the kids. They all seemed to really like this special time together. The science book The Great Dinosaur Mystery, our globe and our Markable Map were the big hits of the week.

All in all, I feel pretty good about our start to this new chapter of our lives. I'll be certain to post the good, the bad, and the ugly in the weeks to come.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A (Potential) Recipe for Disaster

I'm a home cookin-luvin' type of gal. Not a big fan of premade or prepackaged meals. Don't get me wrong--I recognize their value and they definitely have a place. After Paloma was born and I was nursing around the clock, and after our move to Green Bay when I had boxes up to here and Cliff out of state, Market Day and Dinner by Design were my saving graces!!!

However, now that we have no babies in the house or boxes to unpack, life has settled and it's back to scratch for me. For the most part, scratch cooking has been a good thing for us. There was the Horrid Potato Soup Incident of '01, where I made such a ghastly concoction that even Cliff a.k.a. "The Garbage Disposal," could not get it down.

We had a situation earlier this evening that had me worried that '01 might repeat itself. As I went to make Chicken Stroganoff, I found my lazy susan lacking both Creme of Chicken and Creme of Mushroom soup. Ack!!! Never have I been without these things! Racking my mind, I tried to think of what I could make with leftover chicken (already diced) and cooked egg noodles. Creativity was sorely lacking--I needed to figure out how to replicate the creme base for my stroganoff, and fast! The kids were already coming up every 5 minutes asking for a snack, and I knew that the seconds were racing before they would be so hungry that they would lock me in the garage while they pillaged the pantry.

So, I did what any smart home-cookin' woman would do: picked up the phone and dialed her home-cookin' girlfriend, Michelle S.! Michelle shares my love of both cooking and baking, and she rocks big time at both!!! Her food is so good that if I were a man, I'd want to marry her.

And do you know what? Michelle wasn't home. I was solo on this one.

After racking my brain (and eating half a bag of Fannie Farmer's pastel Melty Mints), I came up with the idea of using my gravy sauce from my "biscuits and gravy" for the base of my meal. I would add some chicken boullion in for a little flavor, and at the end I would stir in the veggies, and then sour cream for the necessary tang.

Shortly after my brainstorm, Michelle S. called me back--a true homecookin' girlfriend never leaves another hanging! I explained my dilemma, offered up my solution, and she gave me the encouragement I needed. So I donned my last clean apron, (Seattle circa '95):

got out a few of the fixins (love how simple it can all be!)

and set to work:

Success--well, per my kids and hubby. I personally thought it was a little too bland, maybe too starchy. But all in all, an edible meal.

As a reward, I'm now eating the rest of the Melty Mints as I blog. Oink!