Tuesday, December 25, 2007

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, My True Loves Gave to Me:

Twelve Months of Wonderful Memories:













Twelve Months of Memories,
Eleven PM Wrapping,
Ten Prayers for Haiti,
Nine Days of Indentured Slavery,
Eight New Photos from Haiti,
Seven Beds for the Makin'
Six New Things on the To Do List,
Five Packages of Fudge,
Four Hours of *@&#$( Frustration,
Three Legged Beagle,
Two Crazy Cats in My Christmas Tree, and
One Border Collie Named Wanda!


Monday, December 24, 2007

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me:

An 11 pm present wrapping session.

Oops, we did it again. We procrastinated on wrapping, and so here we sit. Ugh.

On the Tenth Day of Christmas

On the Tenth Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me:

Ten prayers for Haiti

Haiti's children and adoption program are weighing on our hearts and minds a lot lately, so we'd like to offer up our Haitian prayer list.

- We pray for little Caleb and his wonderful adoptive mama, Sara E., our program manager. Their file continues to hit one nightmare after another, and through it all Sara is always strong, always prayerful, and always working as hard on our cases as she is working on her own. We pray that Caleb's file is released from MOI and has his passport in hand SOON.

- We pray for the other families waiting to get their children home. There are far too many, and children need to be in loving, forever families.

- We pray for Jill's family and Addie's family, as they have received word this week that the children they were adopting (Christna and Davidson) have been removed from the orphanage by their birthparents. We pray for the health and safety of little Christna and Davidson, and we pray for their birth families to have a means to provide them with shelter, food, safety, education and love. We pray for emotional healing for Jill and Addie and their families in this all too sad time.

- We pray for the health and safety of all the children at Les Petites Anges de Chantal.

- We pray for the health and safety of Marie and all the nannies and staff at Les Petites Anges de Chantal. We pray that they receive many health and financial blessings for the incredible and selfless work they do each day.

- We pray for the problems and holdups within the adoption process to dissolve, and for files to once again move quickly so that children may go home.

- We pray that the new adoption laws will not further restrict families from pursuing Haitian adoptions.

- We pray that the restavek children of Haiti.

- We pray our boys come home quickly.

- As we pray, we praise our God and rest quietly, knowing that He is at work.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

On the Ninth Day of Christmas

On the Ninth Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me:

Nine Days of Indentured Slavery!!!

The Mister's company gives them the entire week between Christmas and New Year's Day off, which, in effect, gives him nine days work-free at home. While he is working, I rarely place 'jobs' on his plate along with work and parenting--that's a heavy load alone. But vacation time? Watch out, Mr. C, lol!

Fortunately, I am married to the nicest, most easy-going man on the planet who is quite agreeable to "Projects." Projects this break? Paint the boys room! Paint our bathroom! Clean the Man House!

We'll post the results as we go!

Nine Days of Indentured Slavery
Eight New Pictures from Haiti
Seven Beds for the Makin'
Six New Things on My To-Do List
Five Packages of Fudge
Four Hours of @#&^# Frustration
Three-Legged Beagle
Two Crazy Cats in My Christmas Tree, and
One Border Collie Named Wanda

Friday, December 21, 2007

On the Eighth Day of Christmas

On the Eighth Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me:

Merisier, age 3 (Blue's Clues Shirt)

Joel, age 4 (Green Shirt)

Eight New Photos from Haiti!!!

Don't tell the Mister, but this morning my true love is a beautiful French Canadian woman named Isabelle! She is an adopting mom currently visiting Haiti, and she uploaded all her photos last night for us! She is an amazing photographer, and all of us PAC parents are so incredibly grateful for these wonderful, early Christmas presents!

Eight New Photos from Haiti,
Seven Beds for the Makin',
Six New Things on My To-Do List
Five Packages of Fudge,
Four Hours of #*&#)@ Frustration,
Three Legged Beagle,
Two Crazy Cats in the Christmas Tree, and
One Border Collie Named Wanda

Thursday, December 20, 2007

On the Seventh Day of Christmas

On the Seventh Day of Christmas, My True Loves Gave to Me:

Seven Beds for the Makin'

In preparation for the boys' arrival, we did a major bedroom overhaul earlier this fall. Hatfield moved into Atticus' old room, Atticus into Hatfield's, and two sets of bunk beds were brought into the house.

I don't know who created bunk beds, but goodness gracious, you think someone by now would have created an easier way to make the darn things!!! I have cracked my head more times than I can count, and I can't stand having to crawl down those little ladders after putting clean sheets on the beds.

One would think that since two of the bunk bed's residents are not home just yet, it would mean two less beds to make, but oh no. Atticus loves playing musical beds, each naptime and nighttime spending the night curled up in a different spot. And Hatfield, although she only sleeps in one, uses the other as her "reading spot," where she hunkers down with a good book, messing the sheets in the process. Since she's reading, I'm not complaining, but again, it's one more difficult bed to make on a regular basis.

Seven Beds for the Makin'
Six Extra Things on the To Do List
Five Packages of Fudge
Four Hours of #@$*()#& Frustration
Three-Legged Beagle
Two Crazy Cats in My Christmas Tree, and
One Border Collie Named Wanda

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

On the Sixth Day of Christmas,

On the Sixth Day of Christmas, My True Loves Gave to Me:

Six Extra Things on My To-Do List!

Buy a gift for your boss? And your cousin's brother's neighbor? Order 30 extra Christmas cards for people you haven't seen in 15 years? Make and wrap 20 homemade gifts for the Homeschool Third Grade Gift Exchange?

Effective immediately, we have two new Household Holiday Rules:

Household Holiday Rule #1: If from Thanksgiving Day onward, you choose to have no participation in the Household Holiday Preparation List, then you forfeit your right to place any "add-on's" onto the List after December 1.

Household Holiday Rule #2: If I address, stamp and mail a Five Frozen Chamorro Holiday Christmas card to any one individual/family/entity for 2 years in a row, and by the 3rd year I have yet to receive a Christmas Card in return, I remove that individual/family/entity from the list. I don't care if they invited you to their Birthday Party when you were in first grade; cleaned up your puke after a fraternity party; or that you are still feeling guilty for running over their cat. They are OFF the list.

On the Fifth Day of Christmas

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me:

Five Packages of Homemade Fudge

Every year we make a ton of fudge, and send it out to all the grand and great-grandparents (there are 5 sets). And every year, Cliff and I gain about 5 pounds each by performing the sacrificial duties of kitchen quality control. Sigh.

Five Packages of Homemade Fudge,
Four Hours of (!*@&$#(@ Frustration,
Three Legged Beagle,
Two Crazy Cats, and
One Border Collie Named Wanda!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

On the Fourth Day of Christmas

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me:

Four hours of *(!&$*% frustration!

These mittens are for my dear friend Melanie's Fourth Anniversary of Her 29th Birthday. Pretty, huh? The picture does not do them justice, but they are made with a soft, silky wool-blend grey yarn and Mohair Moonlight in Black Pearl--which has shimmy, bead-like greys, blacks and whites. I love them. Or I did.

When one knits a mitten while watching a movie, gabbing with the husband, and drinking wine, one will inevitably forget a couple 'ticks' or two on her row count. Then, when moving onto the second mitten, which takes roughly 4 hours to knit, one will not include those all-too-important rows, and bind off the mitten. Only then, will one realize that the mittens are TWO FRIGGIN' DIFFERENT SIZES!!!!!

On a positive note, Miss Melanie was able to try both mittens on and choose the one of her liking. I will now knit that mitten's mate, and then Miss Melanie will not only receive hand-knit mittens, but specifically sized hand-knit mittens.

So, we're at:

Four hours of (*@#$* frustration,
Three legged beagle,
Two crazy cats in christmas tree, and
one border collie named Wanda.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

On the Third Day of Christmas

On the Third Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me:

A 3-legged Beagle

(Okay, yes Ernie was our day 3 gift last year, but seriously, how could we leave the cute ole guy out?)

A 3-legged Beagle
2 Crazy Cats in My Christmas Tree, and
1 Border Collie Named Wanda

Thursday, December 13, 2007

On the Second Day of Christmas

On the Second Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me:

Two Crazy Cats in the Christmas Tree!

(Hence the reason we only have one Christmas tree up: the ultra-sturdy, artificial "Children's Tree" in the family room. It's adorned only in non-fragile, unbreakable ornaments. My real "pretty tree" with all of my breakable, family heirloom ornaments, typically resides in the front room window. This year the "pretty tree" is taking a sabbatical, courtesy of Double Trouble (our name for Iris and Lily!).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

On the First Day of Christmas

On the First Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me:

One border collie named Wanda!

Meet the newest member of the Five Frozen Chamorro Crew! Wanda, Hatfield's new best friend, joined our crew shortly before Thanksgiving, but we have been waiting until our annual 12 Days of Christmas (okay, so I've only done it once before, and stopped at day 8, still!) to make her Grande Debut!

We adopted our beloved Wanda from the Bay Area Humane Society. She is 3.5 years old, sweet, gentle-natured, and very well trained. I have fear that her previous owner may have been too harsh in his training, as she tends to cower when she is uncertain and is hesitant at times. But, with lots of love and play, we see Wanda come out of her shell a bit more each day. She is a very smart girl, and Hatfield has been able to successfully use simple commands with her. We plan on starting Wanda and Hattie in training this winter, with their big dream of working on agility training later this year.

A Message to Granny from Atticus

Hi Granny!

This is Atticus. I wanted you to see me in my favorite shirt.

Do you remember making my shirt? I love it. I love to wear it with my red Christmas socks. If my red Christmas socks are dirty, then I love to wear it with my orange Halloween socks.

I would wear this shirt everyday if my mom would let me. Instead, she says she must wash it first. I only get my laundry done once a week, but for this shirt, my mom makes the exception and will wash it two, sometimes three times each week.

Do you remember sending us these?

We love to keep track of the Santa Countdown. I asked my mom to hang them up in the famiy room, so she did. The only problem is that my sister Paloma likes to eat the chalk! We haven't figured that one out yet.

I love you Granny. I keep my picture of you with your fiddle in my violin case.

I can't wait for someday when you can play your fiddle, I can play my violin and Hattie can play her piano. Actually, Paloma likes to sing.

Big Hugs and Smooches Too

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's a Girl!!!

I've always felt a sisterly kinship with my beloved washing machine, but in all honesty, I've never truly known that she was a girl until this morning.

Now, you old-school sexists out there may scoff, thinking, "Duh, of course the washing machine is female. It does woman's work!"

Tsk tsk tsk.

I now know because this morning, I went in to check on Atticus' laundry and found this:

A shiny clean Hot Wheels, pleasantly waiting on the edge for neat and tidy retrieval. Can you say, "Multi-Tasker?" Of course my machine has to be female!

Freshly washed, stain-free clothing and shiny Hot Wheels? No male washing machine would even attempt it.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Christmas is around the corner, and PAC families are making fun t-shirts for the kids at the orphanage! One super-organized parent took the time to create a database on our group board with all the kids' names, so that parents could sign up for their kids and any others who do not have families committed to them yet. Another very kind family, who will be in Haiti right before Christmas, volunteered to bring all the shirts down.

As such, Jill & her older kids headed over to our house last night for a T-Shirt Party! Stocked with an iron-on transfer paper computer program, a variety of iron-in doohickeys, and puffy paint, we set out to make some awesome t-shirts for Christna, Joel and Philippe Merisier.

Atticus and Dominic were hard at work.

Clarena and Hattie put the finishing bling touches on Christna's shirt.

Jill and I are so much alike it's comical. Well, except for the fact that she has way more energy than I do, much better decorating skills, and her house is really, really clean (two times I have stopped by unexpected and things were all glowy and gleamy!). Other than that, we're identical. So, by the time we had finished with all the iron-ons (and a half bottle of wine), our kids were busy playing hide-and-go-seek. We looked at the puffy paint, looked at each other. "I stink at puffy paint" I said. "Our shirts are too nice to ruin them," she agreed. "Quick, let's hide it from the kids."

The kids never even noticed. They were proud to show off our final results!

Our boys' shirts!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

In a blink of an eye

The first days of our vacation took us to Sanibel Island, Florida, where my Grandpa Tony and Grandma Marian reside. Most of our winter vacations of my childhood were spent on Sanibel. The tropical air scent, the salt of the surf, even the distinct taste of the water from my grandparent's faucets are lasting imprints on my senses. To see my own three children on Sanibel, playing in the surf where I played, was one of those moments in life where all the stars seem to align and the heavens themselves shine down upon us all.

A moment that, ten years ago, I would never have believed would be coming. As I sat one evening in my grandparents’ home, watching my children hunt for geckos out on the patio, I realized just how much can happen in a ten-year span.

Ten years ago, almost to the day, I was in Sanibel, reeling from the overnight changes in my life. Weeks earlier, I had been blissfully planning for my wedding to take place on Sanibel that December. That October, I had discovered I was pregnant, and while unexpected, I was at ease since I thought all was perfect with my then fiancée. Days before the wedding, I discovered that my fiancée had been cheating on me, and I realized that there was no way I could marry him. Embarrassed, terrified, unable to wrap my mind around everything, I escaped my world and headed to Sanibel.

That time was painful. Sick, scared, I cried all the time and wondered how I would ever get it together to make anything of my life. I spent a lot of time alone, and my grandparents were kind and gave me my space when I wanted it and a hug when I needed it. My wedding day came and went and with it, I thought, were all my dreams and hope for the future. I felt I would be alone forever. I couldn’t imagine my life being manageable in one month, let alone ten years.

Eventually, I pulled it together as best as I could and left. Instead of returning to Washington, I went back home to Wisconsin. I moved into the bottom unit of a cute little duplex where my sister Stephanie was the top unit tenant. As my pregnancy progressed, I grew stronger. I was over the moon to learn that I was going to have a daughter! I became more determined than ever to raise a healthy, strong, independent girl.

I remember feeling as if Logic suddenly smacked me upside the head, and at that moment I truly realized that I didn’t need a man in our life to have a happy family. Even though my ex-fiancee came around for a bit, I saw that having no dad in my baby’s life was better than having a dad with some serious issues. My mom would tell me, “Sarah, if anyone can do this, you can,” and that pushed me through the times when doubt would weight heavily on my shoulders.

Hatfield Louise was born that June, and I simply could not imagine life without her. Well, I could, but I prefer not to. In so many ways, Hatfield saved me. Saved me from an existence where I would have turned into a horribly self-centered, self-serving individual on a huge destructive streak. Saved me from spending tens of thousands of dollars on law school for a career that I would have hated (confirmed by my years working as a paralegal). Saved me from all the mistakes I would have made.

I loved that little baby so much. My world was my baby. I remember running into friends from high school during that time, who were also 22, 23, and just out of college. I remember the first time I realized that some of them actually pitied me for having to stay home with a baby instead of being able to go out to the bars. I couldn't have cared less if I ever set foot in a bar again, and in turn, I pitied them for their pitying me. I had been given such a gift, such a perfect little girl to love and take care of. I got a job to make ends meet, finished college, and got a career going. Before Hatfield turned two, I bought an adorable little house for the two of us to live in forever. I loved being a little family, just the two of us. Those years are by far and away some of the happiest of my life. I was so happy and life was so full, that I couldn’t imagine it ever getting even better. Boy, was I wrong.

Shortly after I bought my little house, Cliff and I met through Hatfield’s Aunt Carrie. Carrie is a friend of mine who I met because she is married to birthdad’s brother Eric. Cliff and Carrie were high school friends, and they had, by chance, bumped into each other and began emailing on occasion. Crazy, huh? Carrie thought that Cliff and I were similar people, so she gave him my email (first, she offered his email to me, but I told her that NO WAY was I ever going to email some guy from Seattle who I didn’t even know). Well, thank goodness Cliff’s rules of dating weren’t quite as archaic as mine, because he sent me a wonderful email, and a few emails later, I knew he would be the guy I would marry.

Ten years ago in Sanibel, I never would have believed that I would eventually end up marrying a man who birthdad’s sister-in-law set me up with!

So fast forward through the next few years: eloped with Cliff, had a beautiful baby boy, then a beautiful baby girl, then began adopting two beautiful little boys. We moved out of the little house in Green Bay, survived 3 years living in a rough neighborhood in Milwaukee, then on into a larger home in the Green Bay ‘burbs near many other members of my family. We have made the most wonderful friends, found a wonderful church family, became a homeschooling family and are growing closer than I ever thought possible.

Ten years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I think that life would be this full.

And ten years ago, when each day in Sanibel seemed like an eternity, never would I have believed ten years of days would go by as quickly as they did.

My biggest challenge of today, and every day for these next ten years, is just keeping conscious of the day that I am in. On one hand, days go by in such a blur that I can’t grasp it. It seems that upon waking up each Monday morning, I strap on a safety helmet, sit down in a catapult, and propel myself into the following weekend. Where do the days go? On the other hand, when waiting to bring your children home, days and weeks loom, larger than life ahead, and it is hard to truly envision the day when the paperwork is done and I’ll be on a plane to get my boys.

Yet, I know, in a blink of an eye, they’ll be here. History proves it. Tonight, I picked Paloma up out of the bathtub in a big snuggly towel. While drying her off, the towel slipped and there she stood, a long, lean-legged little girl. Where did those chubby little toddler legs go? I swear they were here during her Friday night bath. I took a good look at the slippery little monster in front of me, baptizing herself and the entire bathroom in a dust of sweet baby powder, and I realized that she is about 4 inches taller than what I recall her to be in my mind’s eye.

Then again, my mind’s eye has some serious farsightedness. I can’t quite see Atticus as a 5 year old, because in my mind, he’s still not quite 3. I so clearly recall holding little Hatfield on my chest, with her head tucked under my chin, and my hand resting on her back and little bottom, just inches lower. Such a little peanut all tucked between my chin and heart, I can feel her weight and warmth. I have to squint to realize that she’s not a 21 inches anymore, but rather a tall, beautiful girl on the verge of turning the big 1-0.

When I think of what the next ten years may hold for us, it nearly takes my breath away. We have been so blessed with resources, and our potential is only limited by our lack of vision. Opportunity oozes from all corners life, and we commit ourselves to seizing it, for it all goes by too quickly.