Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Our Paloma

Paloma is THE force to be reckoned with in our home. Such a little person, such a big personality. This past weekend, Cliff oh-so-accurately assessed Paloma's philosophy on life: It's her world. We just happen to be living in it.

Paloma brings in the perfect balance of sheer motherly delight and frustration. She makes the world's most adorably expressive faces. She speaks "in tongues" for minutes on end, expressively, seeking our approval and agreement to her thoughts on the world. So often I find myself echoing Marlin's sentiment about Squirt in Finding Nemo: You're really cute kid, but I have NO idea what you're saying!

Somehow the fear gene, deeply embedded in the deep end of her parents' pools, managed to skip Paloma's. No height too high, no feat too meager, no warning of danger too real. I credit every single grey hair that I have to this child, which is probably why I'm not in a hurry to do anything about them: I earned these babies! Her newest favorite perch is sitting atop of her toddler bed's roof (the headboard is a little house).

More independent than any child coming before her in our home, Paloma insists upon dressing herself (and to my great chagrin, her all-time favorite outfit is a hand-me-down Blues Clues pajamas, size 4), reading to herself, directing her own playtime, dictating her own menu. God forbid I try to help her into her snowpants, or attempt to buckle her into her carseat before she is ready to ask for assistance. Try to dare squelch that independence and you will pay. Dearly.

But for as often as she pushes us away during the day, her need for us becomes so evident in the night. We'll put her to bed in her own bed, only to find her asleep 30 minutes later in ours. We'll move her back to her own bed at 10 pm only to find her in ours again at midnight. She'll curl up as close to us as she possibly can get without suffocating. She'll reach for us throughout the night, and in the morning, she'll pat Mom's back while handing her sippy to Daddy, with a one word request: "Juice." Content in the knowledge that Daddy will do anything for his Baby Girl, she snuggles in with me, happy, content and willing to be still for that moment.

For a long time after Atticus was born, I felt that our family was complete. Then one day, I was watching Hatfield and Atticus put a puzzle together at the coffee table, and I became distinctly aware that someone was missing. I could see the two little heads, but then a blurry empty space where that third one belonged. Watching my three this morning, working on a birthday card for Grandpa at the same coffee table, I realize just how empty that space was without our Paloma. I couldn't imagine our family any other way.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Benefits of the Compact

January hurtles to its finish line, along with our first month of our Compact Commitment. With the exception of my family's deviation for my birthday gift, we have kept our full commitment (see previous post. Please note that I had repeatedly told Cliff NO storebought presents, only HOMEMADE gifts. Obviously, he could not expect the children to create anything of value in the 45 minutes he alloted for birthday shopping, so he forced me to give him a budget, which he then recklessly abandoned. When the children weren't looking, I returned it all, except the pastry server, which they used on my cake, and the chocolate, because DUH, that falls under groceries.)

At this point in time, we have no negative experiences to report. In fact, we have been pleasantly surprised with the depth of benefits we are experiencing.

Some benefits have been obvious from the start. My bank statement is so short it's laughable. Bills paid. Cash withdrawn for grocery and gasoline budget. Nothing more. No debit charges. No checks to Target. A whopping 90 seconds to reconcile my checkbook.

We expected benefits with increased savings, less paperwork. What we were not expecting was the feeling both of calmness and clarity that has eased into our consciousness.

Waking up each morning, we tell ourselves: today, our needs are met. We need nothing that is not under this roof. For today, we are self-sufficient and autonomous.

Quite surprising just how much mind-space this frees up.

I've put a decent dent in my pile of "to read" books. I've tackled some homeschooling organization projects that have been nagging me for months (reducing clutter), and I was able to tackle them wisely because I had the time to research and evaluate different organizational options. I'm adding fun, new meals into my weekly menus, since I've taken the time to go through untouched magazines and sort out recipes that caught my eye.

In the past, I would have purchased new books that caught my eye; purchased some catchy new organizational structure to catch all the clutter, which would quickly fall into disarray since the main organizational problem was not addressed; and bought new magazines since looking through ALL the old ones seemed overwhelming. All things I am ashamed to admit, but it's the truth, and I am SO glad to see the light.

With the realization that right here, at this moment, our needs are fully met, I realize just how much trouble we create for our own selves. Walk through a book store and look at the walls of self help books. Where does all of our stuff and accumulation and desire for bigger--bigger houses, bigger cars, bigger job titles--leave us? With bigger debt, bigger feelings of emptiness, bigger messed up kids. Bigger problems.

I've done my fair share of creating my own bigger problems. I have found that the Compact has really taken a lot of "noise" out of my head. Without that "noise," I can really concentrate on how I feel about things. When I am in imbalance, making poor decisions, I can feel it. My stomach knots. Anxiety. Something's off.

The thing of it is, I know what creates imbalance, and what doesn't. I haven't yet to find a situation where I am not the creator of my feelings of imbalance. I know when I'm not giving something my all, or when I'm taking the lazy way out. I could--and have-- made excuses, blaming my husband or the layout of my house or something completely immaterial. And you know what? All that damn "noise" made it so easy to pass the blame.

I'm approaching a stage of my life where, if I want to be truly successful by my personal definition, I have to squash this imbalance. Being a mother of 5, homeschooling them all, I don't want to give chaos too much room. Why at times I make some of the most basic things so difficult is beyond me. Am I stupid? Certainly not, but by some of my actions, you would be hard to prove otherwise. It's not about sweating the small stuff--it's about obliterating the small stuff so that I can focus on the things that truly matter.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Supermom! (Part 1)

Hello to all! If you notice a sudden drop in grammer (inside joke there!) skills, its because this is Cliff, Sarah's husband, taking a crack at blogging. As some of you may already know, Sarah's birthday was yesterday (Friday.) Birthdays are a special time and, for the 5FC household, this is super duper special because mom is Supermom. Faster than a slowpoke husband, stronger than the smell of a soiled diaper, able to leap over two foot high piles of toys, Supermom was sent to our house to save it from its own demise. Taking on the forces of evil (that would be messiness and laziness), she singlehandedly saves an average of one adult, three kids, and four pets each and every day. Sarah is, quite honestly, an oak tree for the family. She provides shelter, comfort, the necessities of life, and is 100% reliable for anything we need. So, on this annual occassion, the grateful citizens of Chamorropolis get together to celebrate and praise the force of nature called "MOM".

Our story begins two days ago (Thursday). I called my wife from the outer reaches of the UP (upper penninsula of Michigan)regarding the possibility of taking the kids shopping for school supplies. Sarah, mild-mannered teacher/reporter/parent/jack-of-all-trades, saw through this thinly-vieled ruse and said, "While getting supplies, you may want to take them shopping for birthday gifts before tomorrow".

Curses, foiled again! "Uh, yeah, I can do that too! So, when I take the big kids shopping-".

"You mean everyone. I have an appointment tonight, which should be on your calendar."

I feel the subzero tempurature get even colder. "Uh, yeah, that's right!" I shuffle paper noisily near the phone, "yes, on my calendar, right here. Its in code, so I-"

"That's an impressive code, complicated enough even to stump you, my beacon of intelligence." I think I hear sarcasm in her voice.

"Uh, yeah" is the only thing I can think to say.

The story continues that evening, when I have three of the monkey children (Hatfield-Speak No Evil, Atticus- Hear No Directions, Paloma- Sees No Reason to Listen to Me) at the store, chaos breaks out.

"Daddy, Mommy wants this- a Snoopy snow cone machine!"

"Daddy, Atticus is thinking only of himself."

"Paloma," this is me, raising my voice, "come back here now, before the monster jumps out from that clothes rack to eat you!"

I have $30 bucks to spend- we are on a tight budget, I've agreed to a compact (i.e.- don't spend money), and $30 is the allowance the children have saved up that I can find.

I offer the kids various ideas, which includes gifts like a food processor, a book from her favorite author, and a heated blanket which fits her (I could say ours, but who am I kidding?) bed. The idea here is that we can get something I recommend and the kids and I can keep a secret as to the funding source. Everyone wins- Sarah gets a great gift, the kids see their mom smile, and I get credit for buying a thoughtful gift. I'm not a cad, I'd make sure to get a couple of inexpensive gifts and let the kids give them to Mom so that she sees they bought something too- they do get credit!!

Of course, the plan goes to hell seven days to Sunday. They hate my ideas, they don't want to pool their money together to get one nice gift. They choose, well, thoughtful gifts but go the path that suggests my influence (several inexpensive gifts to give the illusion of spending a lot of dough when little is spent). This includes a cake server utensil (what's it called? I have no idea), a pedometer (not bad, wish I thought of that), and a cake pastry thing-a-ma-jig (even better than the pedometer). The kids fight over the cards, except Paloma who decides that cards are prearranged confetti and is pulling them out of the sleeves and tossing them in the air (wheee!!!). I'm trying to keep up with the cleanup, Atticus is crying because he's tired, and Hatfield begins to raise her voice to Paloma- no,no, NO!

We race home, partially to get there before Sarah does for gift wrapping and partially because I need a drink. How does she go out in public? Paloma treated me like an ill-respected peer, laughing and running away every 20 seconds. Atticus and Hatfield acted like the Hatfields and McCoys, arguing over everything, and everyone looked at me like I was a bad parent (not that this matters, I could care less, and might even let Paloma wander in their way for spite while asking Atticus to run outside to the car to get my whiskey flask).

Anyways, we get home and what do I see, Sarah's there, cleaning up after baking her own birthday cake (how could I forget???) I leave everything in the car, tell the kids to rush upstairs, and proceed to tell Sarah about the screwed up time I had at Target with the kids. She seems sympathetic but I'm not sure- she's pulled out a violin and I can't see her face while she's playing a sympathy song.

(To be Continued)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Lost in Translation

Cliff and I have recently increased our efforts to prepare our kids at home for our two new additions. Discussing with each of them things to expect, problems to prepare for, fun things we can all do together, changes that they are worried about. Cliff and I have spent countless evenings discussing these topics between the two of us, trying so hard to make certain that we don't leave anything major out.

Yesterday we found our just how much of major we've been leaving out.

Atticus loves to talk to his buddy Canada Jack. The conversations are quite a stitch, as they can last for as long as 30 minutes and involve such intense discussions as "I like Spiderman better than Spiderman 3?" and "What did you have for lunch today?" So yesterday, Atticus began telling Jack that he would be coming to "camp" at Jack's house for 4 days. "Mom, when are we going?" Atticus asked me.

"Not until your brothers are home," I said.

"I'll visit after my brothers are home," Atticus informed him. "But Jack, you have to get ready, because after my brothers come home, we will only speak Creole. So I won't remember how to talk to you in English anymore, cuz we'll only talk Creole. You have to have your mom teach you Creole, so we can talk. The only Creole I can teach you right now is BONJOU, which means HI. You have to learn the rest."

Got that, Shelly? Teach that boy some Creole!

Yikes. It never occured to us in teaching our children about the language barriers, and in our daily attempts to learn Creole, that one of them would actually think that we would only be speaking Creole in a few short months. Can you even imagine? Thank the Lord that hugs, kisses and the word "No" are universally understood.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Table for Seven

Ah-hem: Official news has been received, straight from our Adoption Angel Sara E. Cliff and I are OFFICIALLY (read: legally) the parents of five kids. We are now out of MOJ, the Haitian government decreeing that the boys are legally our sons.

We are ecstatic. Another step closer to bringing these boys home.

Five kids. What a trip, huh?

We poured a glass of wine in celebration, and Cliff remembered a moment from our wedding dinner. For those who don't know, we eloped in Seattle with Cliff's youngest sister and her husband attending as our witnesses. Afterwards, we celebrated at a Thai restaurant in the Broadway District of Seattle. During the course of dinner, Mary asked if we were planning on more kids.

"Definitely," Cliff answered, looking at me. "I'm thinking five kids?"

I winked and replied, "Maybe more."

So here we are, a short 7 years later, parents to five. What a trip.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Compact and Good Stewardship

This year, for the first time ever, Cliff and I made a New Year's Resolution together. We first learned of this idea together, and it's big enough where 1) we need to support one another in our efforts and 2) it makes the biggest impact when it is a full-blown team effort.

While we were driving to Florida, Cliff and I listened to Marketplace Money on NPR. Interviewed over a year's time was a California couple who decided to not buy anything new for one year. Groceries and household necessities (soap, laundry detergent, toothpaste, etc.) were the only exceptions. In the course of a year, they started out full of energy and zest, eased into a place where it seemed easy because they saw the rewards, and eventually moved into, "when will this year be over?" thinking.

Upon further research, we discovered what started this couple's actions was The Compact. What is the Compact? It is a movement of sorts, with the following goals (taken from the blog:

The Compact

1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc;
2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er);
3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)

As we read more and more about this, we became hooked on the idea. Not quite ready to commit to anything of this magnitude for a full year, we have decided to give it our best go for the first 3 months of the year, whereupon we will evaluate and see if we want to continue it further.

So, from January 1 to March 31, we are:
1) Not purchasing anything new: clothing, sporting equipment, electronics, games, toys, books, etc. By "new" I both mean "new" as in packaged on the shelf at Target, but also "new" as in, "new" to us (preowned items purchased at Goodwill, thrift or consignment shops).
2) Reduce our grocery budget 20%. Set aside that 20% each month for the eventually purchase of a quarter cow and chickens from a local, organic farm.
3) Purchase only those household/personal hygiene items that are absolutely required, and in lesser expensive forms if available. Meaning, I will not be running to Elizabeth Arden when I am out of cover-up or moisturizer.
4) Reduce the amount of STUFF in our home.

Today's January 10th? So far, so good.

Lately, it seems like every book I open lends itself to the support of our effort. I just began "The Organized Homeschooler," which really is a Bible-study of sorts in addition to being an organizational guide. It focuses greatly on how everything God does is purposeful, ordered and organized. Those are the things he wants from us as well. God blesses us with things, but He greatly desires for us to be good stewards of our possessions. If we have so much stuff that it's clutter, that we cannot locate it, that we cannot find a place for it in our homes, then we are not being good stewards of the blessing bestowed upon us. Chaos, stress, exhaustion ensue, and the blessing soon becomes a burden and a downfall.

Late last night, I was feeling tired and quite emotional (as I tend to get when I'm quite tired), and I was thinking of my dad. My dad passed away nearly 17 years ago, and it is so painful not to have him HERE. How I value the days I had with him. At that moment, I had Paloma curled up next to me in bed, all snuggled in, with her little head resting under my chin, so little. Hatfield was next to her, asleep, and I was reminded of all those nights I had little Hatfield snuggled up next to me, under my chin. Those days are GONE. I cannot get them back. I grabbed onto Hattie's hand and held it tight, realizing that I need to take advantage of that very moment to connect with her, because in all too short of time she will grown. These days will soon be GONE.

I am really trying to change my focus to the thought that NOTHING material matters. That I need to focus my time and attention on my husband and children. That I need to focus my time on how I can use my blessings to help those in need. It is very easy to say that and intend for that, but it is also very easy to be sidetracked. Sidetracked by "stuff."

Our hope for this resolution, the compact, is to reduce the "stuff." To help reduce the feelings of imbalance and unease in my daily life, feelings that surface when I'm letting "stuff" dictate my life. This should be interesting. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mr. C!

Well, today is my honey's 35th birthday! And what a birthdy it has been! I'm feeling too tired to go into great detail, but here's the birthday rundown:

Morning: All is great! We enjoy our traditional cake-and-ice cream breakfast, and off Cliff goes to work, and I homeschool.

Afternoon: Head into the basement. Hmmmm, the carpet is completely soaked. Hmmmmm, the cement floor in the storage room is completely soaked, with water everywhere. Hmmmm, it has been raining for 36 hours straight, plus a ton of snowmelt. Hmmmmm, I don't hear the sumpump working at all.

A few minutes later: MAJOR freakout on my part. After a freakout call to the Birthday Boy, Hattie and I work frantically to pick up toys, move furniture and sop up water. We use, and I am not joking, every towel in our home: kitchen, bath or otherwise. We are VERY grateful that we have a huge stock of too-small, but super-absorbant cloth diapers in the house.

An hour later: My knight-in-shining-armor, Mr. C comes home, fixes the sumpump, and begins to take care of the water removal. I love my husband.

An hour after that: Take the kids upstairs for bath, and discover that Wanda ate something plastic-y and decided to puke it up all over Paloma's bedroom. And guess what? Every towel we have is soaked with basement water!

With all the commotion, I am unable to make Cliff's special birthday dinner, so the handy dandy Pizza Hut Gift Card, a Christmas gift, is used for pizza, breadsticks and superhot hotwings.

I have some very cute pictures of the birthday breakfast, but right now I can't get to my computer (in the basement), so I'm on Cliff's laptop. I'll post them later.

One of my New Year's resolutions is to be less crabby. I don't know if I come across as a crabby person, but often I feel crabby inside and I want to change that. So, instead of crabbing about what happened, I tried to focus on these thoughts:

1. If the carpet has to go, so what. We don't have an extra dime right now for anything because we're going into that homestretch of the adoption, but that's okay. We could easily paint the concrete floor and throw down a few carpet remnants until we can afford new carpeting.

2. Given all that was in the basement, we have lost surprisingly little. And really, it's just stuff. As a pastor we heard once said, "I've never seen a hearse towing a U-Haul."

3. While I was sweeping water towards the drainpipe, I was thanking the good Lord that it was ONLY water and not sewage.

4. My dear husband was able to FIX the sumpump. No repair expense. No replacement expense. Which is such a blessing, as I want to tap our savings as little as humanly possibly.

5. We didn't have to pay for our Pizza Hut dinner because of the gift card, and our kids thought that they were giving Daddy a feast with the hotwings and pizza. It was very cute.

6. Looking at the major natural disasters of the past year worldwide, who am I to complain over a little water!?!

7. I realize how important it is to approach these types of problems with a cheery, can-do disposition. I see how both Hatfield and Atticus watch everything I do, and take cues from me. I don't want to them to see some stressed-out, cranky mom over-reacting. Especially Hattie, because she just soaks in whatever emotions I display. I want them to see a mom who takes the problem seriously, but addresses the issues and tries to remain light-hearted. I really tried to laugh through it, like when the laundry basket handle broke because the wet towels were so wet and heavy it couldn't hold it. The wet towels went SPLAT! and dirty water all over yours truly. Gross? Yes, but funny. Once the kids saw me laughing, they were able to laugh right along with me.

8. We were still able to celebrate Cliff's birthday and have fun while doing it. Sometimes these mini-crises are a nice way to infuse a "teamwork" mentality back into regular family life.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Simple Lessons

Atticus loudly informed me this morning that what I need to do, in order to be a really REALLY GREAT teacher, is this:

A pencil behind my ear.

So I tried it, and you know what?

I did feel like a much better teacher. Certainly smarter. My ego certainly grew a size or two, as Atticus bestowed compliment upon compliment, all testifying as to my greatness as a teacher.

But really, Atticus is the great teacher this morning. I love how children can demonstrate their faith and beliefs in the simplest acts. Sometimes I get so caught up in the systems of homeschooling, that I forget it really is the simplest of things that make the best lessons. Thanks, my boy, for the great reminder.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Great News to Start the New Year!!!

We received some rather unexpected, but utterly fantastic, news yesterday from our dear Sara E., of Celebrate Children International, the agency facilitating our adoption. Ready for this?

We are OUT of Parquet.

That big bad black hole. Out. Done. Hasta la vista.

First disbelief set in. Then relief. Then we complete and utter joy. We are one HUGE step closer to bringing these kids home. WHOOOOHOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Our file right now is in the MOJ (or is it DOJ?), where by the end of next week, the finalized, legalized adoption decree will be signed, making us the legal parents of our two boys. We will then be the parents of five.

From the DOJ, we enter the realm of MOI. Not the greatest place to be, but way better than Parquet. MOI is basically passport preparation, and then our passports are printed.

Now one would think that with a legal decree, and a passport, we could bring these kids home. But not so fast. I will try to explain it all for those of you non-adopting folk, but bear with me, it is very convoluted.

The US government then gets involved. Which should tell you right there that this process gets dragged out even longer.

Last night, I contacted the Wisconsin USCIS office regarding the filing of our I-600. Just last week, the thought of contacting this office or filing the I-600 seemed like a lifetime away. Last night, it seemed so surreal. This morning I received their response. In true government fashion, it was poorly and vaguely worded. Just the slap of reality I needed to take away that hazy, happy fog I was floating about in.

Milwaukee (ideally) approves our paperwork, which is then sent on to the National Visa Center (or something like that) out East. From there it is sent on to the US Consulate office in Port au Prince.

((Laura McBride quite eloquently posted about the rest of the process, so I am going to post what she wrote on her blog, since she has explained it far better than I ever could. Laura posted specifically about their situation, so I'm going to edit it a bit for a generalized look at the rest of our process:))

The US Consulate office then schedules the birth parent interview. In order for that appointment to take place, the children's passports must first be printed and their birth parents needto actually be able to attend the appointment. Once that appointment has taken place, and if that US office deems that she/he/they is/are indeed the birth mom, then we can schedule our appointment with the Consulate and then the children's visa's will be printed and they can come home. We're talking a matter of weeks here people!

What could hold a case up? If passports aren't ready, that appointment can't take place. If the birth parent(s) doesn't show up, the appointment will have to be rescheduled. And, if that office doesn't believe that the birth parent is who they says they are, then they can require DNA testing on her and both the children. This could add up to 6 weeks more wait time AND it could cost us around $900!

Somewhere in here the US Consulate also requires a medical examination of the children, so that is another appointment to through in there as well.

Best case scenario:
- Passports are printed and ready in a reasonable timeframe
- Birth parents attend the appointment as scheduled
- US office signs off on all paperwork and schedules our visa appointment
- The kids can be brought home as quickly and smoothly as possible

Worst case scenario:
- Passports aren't ready and appointment must be rescheduled
- Birth parents miss appointment and it is rescheduled again
- US office requires DNA testing
- We add weeks to months onto the process


(Thanks to Laura for a great explanation!).

So, where does that leave us as to when the boys come home?!? Only the Good Lord knows!!! We could possibly have them home in a couple of months, or we could quite possibly have them home this summer. Either way, we know that the end is coming and they will be brought HOME!

Shelly. . here's the proof!

Shelly, I know you would NEVER believe this unless you could see it:

I have actually placed photos in my picture frames on the walls of our family room.

These picture frames have sat empty for. . .let's just say months.

I am notorious for being photo challenged. Both in my taking photo ability, and for actually getting around to printing, organizing and/or displaying photos. My mother recently went into my laundry room, where I have a shelving/hook unit with photo slots. A few minutes later she came out and remarked that for the life of her, she cannot figure out just who the people are in the photos.

Neither can I. Because they came with the frame.

But this is a new year, with a sparkly new photo-capable Sarah. . . which is probably taking it too far, but hey, it's only the 3rd, and I can dream.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


We were recently blessed by a good friend who gave me ALL of her Little People playsets. Upon bringing them home, we created a huge Little People Village in the play area of our schoolroom. The kids had a blast playing with it for a good few week.

However, with the holiday ending and school ready to start up again, I found myself in the dilemma of figuring out just where to put them all! So, I gathered up my courage and tackled the dreadfully-packed schoolroom storage closet.

Amazingly, 90% of what was in that closet went to either Manna or the garbage. Yikes! I commandeered a shelving unit from the "Man House" (unfinished storage room, named by Atticus), and set up a nice little Little People storage area, if I do say so myself:

But here is the problem: in setting up this nice little 5 foot x 4 foot storage space, I completely DESTROYED the 12 foot x 20 foot Man House Storage area. I mean HAVOC, people! As in I am too embarrassed to post a picture of it.

I am not quite sure the means justified the end here, as I am now looking at a good 2 days of Man House Work. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Hairy Scairy

2008 has, thus far, been a hair raising experience in our home.

This morning, I discovered that my grey hairs are continuing to propagate their species, working their way into my part-line. Yes, indeed, one little crazy grey hair was not quite long enough to be snagged by elastic, astray for the world to see.

And how can I tell that I'm maturing? I couldn't care less about it. When I discovered my first grey hair, two days after my 30th birthday, I cried for quite a while. Pluckety pluck pluck. Now, who cares?

Cliff created his own hair spectacle late this afternoon, upon his return from kayaking. That's right. Kayaking. In Wisconsin. On New Year's Day. Idiot.

Sorry, I'm being hasty with my judgment. Crash, there goes one of my resolutions, falling right off that list. I made it a whopping 18 hours.

But am I being too hasty with my judgment? Hmmmmm. . .Cliff is known as "Tippy" to his kayaking buddies, and for good reason. So let's see...freezing cold air temp with an 80 degree F lake. That's right, 80 degrees. How so? A nearby power plant recycles its warm byproduct water into the body of water Cliff was kayaking on.

So, we have Tippy in freezing weather kayaking in warm nuclear water with the 3-eyed, glow-in-the dark fish.

Dare I say it?

Idiot. One year older, but not one year wiser ;)

Anyway, I completely digress. Cliff came home from his expedition, donning the following 'do:

The kids' reactions to it were hilarious! Paloma kept asking, "Daddy? Daddy?" and then would laugh hysterically. Hatfield looked embarrassed. And Atticus carried on the following monologue:

"Daddy, you look Chinese!" (For some reason, Atticus thinks all Chamorros are from China, despite our hours of explanation otherwise. There are days when Atticus tells us that he looks like Mom, and other days he tells us that he is Chinese. 5 year olds!)

"Dad, you look like a teenager!"

"Dad, you look like a teenager from China!"

"Dad, you look like a Chinese teenager!"

Great. Now I look like some old, crazy grey-haired pedophile with a Chinese teenager love slave. Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!!

Hmmmmm, I wonder how many blogs are using the same title for their post today...

Happy New Year! Out with the old, in with the new, and for us, we're ringing in the New Year with a few less things hanging around on our Honey-Do List.

Cliff painted the boys' bedroom!

I'm not finished decorating it quite yet, but it's such a HUGE improvement over the old one! Atticus LOVES it so much that it "makes him want to cry." To which Cliff responded that the kid is spending WAY too much time with me and my girlfriends, and that he would be taking him to all UFC match nights from now on (he was kidding).

While we tag-teamed parenting the kids, I finished organizing both girls' closets. I am taking the "Blessed Home" approach (the woman is a genius; the link is on the right; check it out!). One bin for clothes to grow into; one for clothing they grew out of. If they have more clothing for the "grow into" bin than what fits, we go through and decide what to keep, what to pass on, because really, no one needs more clothing than what fits into a bin. The results are clutter-free and fabulous:

And a major milestone in my life as a Homeschool Mom occurred: my ironing bar is E-M-P-T-Y.

This is the first time since we began homeschooling that my ironing was finished! I can keep up with all the laundry no problem (again, thanks to the "Blessed Life" approach. Love her!), but the continued pileup of ironing has been a huge thorn in my side.

We rang in the New Year with our Annual Party! It was a success, with good friends and a slew of kids running about. Yours truly won the Guitar Hero Tournament, based on points, with two of my three performances earning 100% 5-Gold Star Performances. Cool! We had so much fun partying, that the only photo I got of the whole affair was a pre-party pic of the Kid's Favor Bowl:

So we welcome in 2008, and we wish everyone a wonderful and very blessed year!