Friday, May 30, 2008

I want to be Nancy Drew

Every evening, Hatfield and I read 2 chapters from a Nancy Drew mystery (the original series). Always 20 chapters, we make it through a book in roughly 10-12 days.

I soooo want to be this girl. She wears sport dresses. Her hair is always perfect. She can shimmy up trees, walk along edges of steep roofs, and hang from bridges. She understands both how to waltz and how to converse about the lesser known rules of collegiate football. She drives a convertible with skill, speaks fluent French and adores her father. She is kind to the elderly, concerned for the ill, compassionate to those who are cold and hungry. I soooo want to be Nancy.

After years of reading Junie B. Jones and the American Girl books, reading Nancy Drew originals are an absolute literary delight. The author uses CLASSIC, TRUE English; No slang dots the pages, no poorly worded sentences scar our ears. No dumbing down of words or terminology exists. Every few pages, Hattie queries the meaning of a new vocabulary word, and on several occasions I have noticed her using her newly treasured word around her brother or sister.

I realize that my middle-aged, mini-van driving self will never be Nancy Drew, but for 30 minutes each evening, Hatfield and I delight being transported into a different world, where we each envision ourselves as our titian-haired, sleuthing heroine.

Trying to keep positive, sane and focused

I am a very overly-paper pregnant woman trying her best not to pop.

We are finishing up week 11 in MOI. A gal I know got out yesterday, and they went in only mere weeks before us. Our time has to be soon, right?!?

Some days are surprisingly easy; schoolwork, outside playtime, garden time, soccer schedules and poof! Three, four days go by before I can comprehend it.

And other days, like yesterday, inch by. Tic tock ticking in my head. I could barely sleep, out of that jumpy, excited Santa's-coming-in-the-morning little kid feeling in my belly.

I'm beginning to panic at organizational things that must get done in the house before the boys come home; and the things that I would love to get done, because I know once the boys are home it will be a long time before I get a chance to tackle those projects. Because once they are home, my ONLY priorities are playing, reading to, bonding and having fun with all five of the kids and husband. Everything else can go to pot for a while, and that's just fine by me.

I've signed off on the Haitian adoption/orphanage Yahoo group boards, and that has been an excellent decision. No longer am I using my time obsessively checking for news that never shows up, nor am I fuming over the comments of those who just don't get it (IMHO, mind you.) I feel my internal tempo switch to something a bit more upbeat, and I am enjoying this waiting, nesting time much more.

This morning while drinking my coffee, I've created a mental "To Do" list that, fortunately, for me today has me excited and itching to get at it. So that's just what I'm going to do.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Happy 4th Birthday!!

Happy 4th Birthday, Merisier!!!

Oh, how I wanted this little guy home for this birthday. Foolish I know, but I hoped and prayed that he could have been here. I tend to cry on all of my children's birthdays, as they are all growing up much too quickly. Today is no exception, only made more bittersweet by the fact that he is in Haiti, and we are here.

Baby boy (poor kid--we STILL don't know what we are going to name/call him), we promise you one heck of a birthday party when you come home!

Wake Up Call

When we lived in Milwaukee, we owned a small bungalow where the children's bedrooms were on a different floor from ours. I had placed a baby monitor on the hallway floor between their rooms, and stationed the receiver on our nightstand.

Every stinkin' morning at 4:30 am, our cat Ezra would walk over to that monitor and meow very loudly into it. Every. Morning.

In our new home, we're all on the same floor, so no monitors are needed. Ezra is now on a farm, so our 4 am hour has been relatively quiet, with the exception of an occasional super-early morning from Paloma.

Until the past two weeks, when Ernie decided that he wanted to begin sleeping in our bedroom on the floor (typically he would sack out on the couch). The cats now sleep quietly on our bed; Wanda starts her night in Hattie's room and migrates to ours; and Ernie was just feeling lonely, I guess.

And guess what Ernie does around 4:30 am each morning? He wakes up. Yawns VERY noisily. Each yawn incorporates some doggie 'talking' and whining. Stretches. Shakes. Scratches his ear. Yawns some more.

We finally have gotten Paloma to sleep to 7:30, and now Ernie starts up. I'm still trying to figure out just why the good Lord does not want me to ever get a good night's sleep.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Change of mind

I completed my first ever 50+ minute run this evening, and my music conked out on me. I turned today's earlier post over and over in my mind, and have decided to delete it.

I'm not sure if the comments went with it. . .if so, thank you for all the lovely and supportive comments. It is so nice to feel loved :)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

"Pink is My Signature Color"

Is this bike not fabulous?!?

My friend on the next street received this bike for Mother's Day. I have a BIG case of bicycle envy. I love pink. I love retro. I love this bike. Which is kind of funny, because I am a gal who does not have a long list of material wants. If anything, I'm trying to get rid of a lot of junk that we have, from our closets to the toybox to the pantry. The only material thing I truly desire right now is about 6 cubic yards of pulverized topsoil for regrading the back yard and mixing into my new garden plot.

I love pink. I blame it on Paloma. The pregnancy hormones I experienced with the child wired me to love ANY and ALL pink. Prior to that, I wasn't so big on pink. I don't know if Hattie ever wore pink prior to age 5. Now, I can't get enough. I would have a pretty pink pseudo Shabby Chic bedroom would it not horrify the Mister. My kids all know I love pink, too. While I didn't get a pretty pink bicycle for Mother's Day, I did get a rather cool pair of pink running shorts, which I love. I wear it with my pink running shirt.

Don't worry, it's a lighter shade of pink.

Friday, May 23, 2008

This one's for you, Jen!

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer

What were you doing five years ago? I was packing up our first little house to move to Milwaukee, for Cliff's new job position. Hatfield was 5, and Atticus had just turned 1.

What are 5 things on your to-do list today? What isn't? Let's see. . . pull up all plants/shrubs/weeds in the area abutting the back of our home, by the central air unit; lay cardboard (which I still need to cut) over the ground of the new raised garden bed that the Mister built for me last weekend; bake a dessert for tomorrow night; vacuum the family room; begin thinning out overgrown perennials in back gardens.

What are 5 snacks you enjoy? any kind of fruit, popcorn (with butter), pretzels, frozen Snickers and anything dipped in hummus.

What 5 things would I do if I was a billionaire? Donate a lot of it (who needs a billion dollars?); help family; move to the country; do way more 'traveling' home school; have a whole bunch of kids!

What are 5 of your bad habits? procrastination, speaking before I think, blog surfing, misplacing my car keys, not giving myself enough breaks so I have a tendency to burn out.

Where are 5 places you have lived?
Green Bay, Tacoma, Olympia, Milwaukee. That's it!

What are 5 jobs you have had?
I've plunged pickles into jars in a pickle factory; tutored students in writing; was a house mother in a homeless shelter for girls who aged out of foster care; was a litigation paralegal; and my favorite: stay-at-home, home schooling Mom.

What 5 people do you want to tag? Mandy, Aves, Melanie, Shelly and Debbie.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Juicing, Continued

Wow, I received a lot of great juicing questions, so I will gladly oblige and continue the juicing discussion.

Does the juice taste good?
Most certainly, because my children would not drink it otherwise! Freshly squeezed pear juice is heavenly. You will never be able to gulp down a mouthful of Juicy Juice again.

Certain foods are good because they have powerful flavors which can override less desirable flavors. Carrots, pineapple, mango are good examples. Same with strawberries. You can always taste those flavors in juices. Apples are not as strong, but their sweet tartness does a great job mellowing things out. Cucumbers add a light freshness; lettuce the same.

If you go heavy on tropical ingredients--pineapple, papaya, mango--then the juice is quite sweet. If you are used to bottled sugared juice cocktails, or your kids are, then yes, it will take you a bit to get used to real juice.

Beets have a very "fresh" flavor. Cliff calls it "earthy" but I don't think it's nearly as earthy as rooibus tea (which I can barely get down). When added in smaller doses with stronger flavors, it adds beautiful color and incredible health benefits with little effect to the juice.

What kind of juicer do you have? Are they expensive?
Yes and no. You can get fairly cheap juicers at Target or Walmart. You won't get a lot of juice out of them, so there is a lot of wasted fruit.

I initially hoped to get a Breville juicer. They were available for a time with Cliff's Star Points program through work. Well, we didn't have enough Star Points, and then for a time, they were no longer available. They are around $175+, so to me, yes, that is very expensive.

I did purchase a Jack LaLane Power Juicer. Yes, he's the infomercial guy. But I did my research, and felt good about this decision. I watched prices, and through a small, local department store was able to purchase it for $72. It was originally $150, but it was last year's model, so it was then marked down to $99. I had a 20% off coupon, and then store 'bucks' after that. So, I was pleased with the end cost.

I am very happy with this as my first juicer. The two end products are: juice (in good quantity), and ground pulp so pulverized that it is absolutely dry. A fine pulp confetti (it's quite pretty with all the different colors), I toss it right into my backyard compost pile, where it decomposes and turns into gorgeous compost at warp speed. The fact that we either drink the end product or turn it into "black gold" (aka compost) means that truly there is no waste.

The downfall of the juicer is that it is quite piece-y, and is kind of a pain to take apart, wash, put back together again. I will use this one until it falls apart. Since I know that I truly love juicing and am hooked, I will save my pennies (or Star Points) and purchase a Breville next go-around.

Does it kill my grocery budget?
Not really. I stick to a pretty tight grocery budget, and have not found juicing to alter it greatly. I make the choice to purchase fruits and veggies over junk food. Yes, I know fruit can be pricey, but if you broke down the cost of Cheetos or Yo-Go's, I would bet that the cost of junk food per ounce is the same if not more than a lot of produce. I don't buy granola bars loaded with high fructose corn syrup--I make homemade ones here at home, with honey. We eat popcorn, baby carrots, fruits/veggies, pretzels or ice cream for snacks. I am a from-scratch baker probably 95% of the time.

So, there you have it. I think I answered most of the big questions. I urge everyone who has been thinking about it to give it a try. We have noticed positive improvement in our energy levels, digestive tract health and complexions. And I'm hoping in the cholesterol department as well.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Getting juiced in the afternoon with a High Flyer

Sounds rather illicit, no?

Have no fear, this homeschool mama is still on the straight-n-narrow in the children's waking hours. I'm talking fruit and veggie juice, people.

I started juicing last month. I first was exposed to it by Jane, a woman in my book club whom I sooo admire and secretly want to be like (yes, I'm a Jane groupie!). She and her family live a very centered, healthy life, and she encouraged me to look into juicing for extraordinary health benefits.

I did, and I must say that I was bowled over by my research. I saved my pennies for a good-quality juicer, and the rest is history.

The High Flyer is my favorite afternoon pick-me-up.

Pretty, isnt' it? What gives it that fabulous deep magenta glow?

Beets! Juice a beet, one tart apple, 3-4 carrots, 10 spinach leaves and presto! You got a High Flyer; a healthy energy rush full of more fresh, natural vitamins and nutrients than most Americans get in a week.

I love the beet. I sneak it into the kids' juice and presto! Beautiful, party-pink fruit punch. Kale, spinach, watercress, parsley and all of their fabulous nutrients are coursing through the veins of my family. Makes this Mama delirious with joy at just the thought.

What about all the fiber in the actual fruit or vegetable? people ask. Please note that juicing is in addition to the 5-7 fruits and veggies we should be getting each day. And come on, how many cups of kale or watercress am I going to get into my kids each week? Granted, I chop up kale and put it in nearly everything, but still, I get a lot more of it into them now that I'm juicing.

I'm thrilled that the Mister is all-aboard the Juice Train. The guy loves the stuff, and is even willing to do a two-day juice fast this weekend, in an effort to detox his system and begin the hard work of lowering his cholesterol.

If anyone has any good recipes, I'd love to hear them. Bottoms up!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Race Results

The results are in, and I'm happy to report that we all made it through our races. No one tripped over untied shoe laces (a mother's greatest worry) or got lost by taking a left when the course went right. We did good!

Saturday brought warm temperatures for the Kid Races. Hattie managed to make it through her half-mile run, and I say 'managed' only because she was nursing a very scraped and scabbed knee from an earlier bike fall. It was the first time she had the bandage off and the poor girl said she could feel the scabs stretch with each stride, but she was determined to make it to the end, even finishing with a sprint.

Atticus ran his race in his usual chipper, smiley manner (gee, wonder who he gets that from?). Coming down the finish line, with people cheering the little racers on, he pumped his arms up in a victory "V" while cheering loudly himself. Always the character.

While the children basked in the post-race glory under sunny skies, Cliff and I nearly froze our hineys off Sunday morning. Relatively sheltered by the 'burbs in our neighborhood, we were blasted with a cold shock of hard wind the moment we began our walk across the stadium parking lot. We huddled with thousands of other racers in the Lambeau Atrium to keep warm, and walked en masse over to the starting chutes about 5 minutes before the buzzer rang.

Not ever really having run a race before, I was a bit dismayed to realize that most people, whether they are in the 7 minute/mile section or the 10+minute/mile section, start off at a fast clip. I don't like to, because I'll burn out and struggle through the last mile. I'd rather start slooowwwly and build my way up to my pace, easing my muscles and joints into motion rather than beginning with an all-out assault.

The problem with that is I found it quite disheartening to be passed up by so many people at the start of the race. Not that I was out to beat anyone; heck, I just wanted to finish the race having run the entire distance. But it was just hearing all these pounding feet pass you by; almost as if I was standing in slow motion.

Yet I was not standing in slow motion, and I soon realized that we were already doing the last part of the 5K jaunt: a full loop around the actual Lambeau Field, inside the stadium. The course funneled us out back into the parking lot, and a short turn later the finish line was in sight.

I finished the 5K (3.1 miles) in 31 minutes (so 10 minute/miles). I was quite pleased with my result, and I am so grateful to the Mister for staying with me, providing encouragement, because he could have easily finished a good 6-7 minutes faster. I'm feeling pretty pumped, having finished one race, and so I'm continuing with my training, preparing for next month's 10K Bellin Run.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Shiny, Happy Faces.

Dusty, really, but happy faces nevertheless. Here are Cliff's pics of the boys--don't they look great? Looks like someone got clipper-happy at the O; check out those bald heads!

Hey, gotta like this Dad guy. . he's loading us up on soda!

The above shot is the "cola" shot. M having Sprite for the first time. The Mister realized the kids obviously knew about soda, as upon taking their first sips of Sprite, both boys raised their glasses above their head and called out, "Cola!" much like the way "Opa!" was called out in the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Hmmm, never saw one of these before. . .

Who, me? I didn't touch it!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Race Day Weekend

Well, I did it. Nine weeks of jogging training under my belt. I am a full-fledged graduate of Cool Running's Couch to 5K program. I still take a bit of offense at the word "couch," as I'm chasing after a toddler all day. Overall, the program title is not much of a misnomer.

I finished the last training run tonight, with Hatfield riding along with her Barbie scooter, by my side. I will definitely be taking my little sidekick along with me on more runs; when our conversation would lag because I was wheezing, she would cheer me on with, "Go Mom! You're doing great! Better than great! You're doing magnificently!" Gotta love that girl. When we finished the run, she told me that once her knee was better (she tore nearly all the skin off on a bike incident--ewww), she wanted to run with me. Rock on, little daughter!

My running-wise friends were so right: not only does it become easier, it becomes somewhat addicting. The post-run feeling is a great one: mentally, physically, emotionally. I don't know if I lost any weight (broken scale), but I can fit into pre-Paloma pants, which is a much bigger reward than any number on a scale.

Tomorrow we get to pick up our little packets and get our t-shirts (aren't free t-shirts the best? We use them as pajama tops.) The two big kids in our family are going to run in the Saturday morning Children's Race. Mom and Dad will be running bright and early Sunday morning.

The race course goes through the neighborhood I grew up in. We'll be able to see my childhood home, but not run past it. The race ends inside Lambeau Field--how cool is that?

The only thing I'm a bit nervous about is running with my husband. The Mister runs like a Nazi. He will run even when he's hurting--dying, really. The other week he went out running with Wanda, and before he knew it he was 4 miles from the house. So during the 4 miles back, his bum knee acted up. Still, he kept on running.

At the 1.5 hour mark, I began to get nervous, thinking about his knee going out somewhere. I had the kids get their shoes on and hustled them out to the car.

"Look!" Atticus shrieked, pointing down the lane. "There's Dad!"

We all stopped and stared.

Purple face, drenched clothing, barely grasping the dog leash, he was hunched over, running just like Lurch would from the Adam's Family.

"Huh," said Hattie. "He looks kind of strange."

The fact that our trusty Border Collie was skipping along, tail wagging, smiling, not even breaking a pant, made the whole thing even funnier.

But that is what I love about the Mister. The guy defines moxie.

Tomorrow's run will be pie for him; I'll be able to do it, but I just might be the one looking a bit Lurch-ish at the end. He is SOOOO terribly excited for us to run together. I know my Mr. Eternally Optimistic Man, and I know that he has the picture of the two of us, hand in hand, skipping through this race while singing Kenny Rogers songs.

Hmmm, somehow, that's not quite the same picture I have in my head.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Daddy's Home!!!

Cliff's return trip home was a nightmare. His plane in Port au Prince had a flat tire. As the airline attendant was very careful to point out, "An airplane flat isn't like a car flat. You just can't use a jack and lugnut wrench. We need to employ special equipment."

So glad she pointed that out.

But guess what? No equipment to be found anywhere. So he sat around and waited until the replacement plane arrived. He then missed his connecting flight in Fort Lauderdale, was rushed to an alternate airport, and then flew to an airport 2 hours away from home. He could have stayed in a hotel and catch a late morning flight home, but,

We just wanted Daddy home.

So Jimmy came over to spend the night with the kids, and Mommy drove the two hours to the airport to pick up Daddy at 11 p.m. After a quick pitstop at Taco Bell, we made it back home and were zonked out by 2 a.m.

And every bit of the exhaustion we both felt was worth it when the kids woke up this morning to find Daddy hanging out in the family room. "Daddy!" Paloma yelled, running to him. Hug. Kiss. Sippy cup. "Green juice please." The kid loves wheat grass/spinach/pear juice.

Atticus comes in next. His face lights up magically. "Daddy!" he says, tackling Cliff on the floor. "I missed you! I'm glad you're home." He stands up. "Can I tell you something? In Star Wars Legoes, in the forest with the Ewoks. . ." and he proceeds to go into a 10 minute (no joke) explanation of his PS2 game.

Hatfield joins us a short while later. "Dada!" she says, hugging him and crying. What is it with 9-year old girls and baby talk? Good golly. "I missed you. Don't leave anymore."

The morning brought me a belated Mother's Day gift. Earlier on in his trip, Cliff emailed me with the boys clothing/shoe size, legal names, birthdays. . .only on the birthday he put the month and the year.

Joel's birthday was a surprise to me, because it is October. We had been told December. Realizing that, I became a bit sad, because it means that he would be at home and age 4 two less months (and isn't age 4 just one of the best with little boys? I loved it!).

So I'm going through the paperwork Cliff brought home, and my eyes nearly jumped out of my head. He wasn't born in 2003, as we had been told. His birthday is 2004! Joel is only 3, not 4! And he'll be 3 when he comes home!

An entire extra year with my boy--what an incredible gift! I started crying at the table right there and then. Cliff looked over my shoulder and saw what I was looking at. "No offense hon, but I couldn't possibly see how you thought he was going to be a 5-year old. They're awfully little and toddler-like."

Yes, that is very true, but in my defense, when I went I compared them against the size of Paloma, our current resident toddler. Paloma is a peanut. I mean, 4th percentile weight, 10th percentile height peanut. People usually say to me, "Will she be 2 soon?" and are shocked when they find out she'll be 3. She's just an itty bit.

I must have looked at the paperwork 3 dozen times today. Just taking in those full legal names (neither are called by their legal names), their dates of birth, their little shoe sizes. Solid facts. Solid data.

We're getting closer. With each day. Doesn't matter how frustrated I am that day, or how much I wonder if we'll ever get to the point of bringing them home, we're one day closer.

Soon, boys. Soon.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Daddy of the Year

The Mister gets my vote for 2008 Daddy of the Year Award. My man rocks. I am so proud of all he was able to accomplish today! Here's the running list:

1) He got ALL the info we needed.

2) He managed to confiscate someone's cell phone (with permission, of course) to call me on the way to the Embassy because he knew how worried I was.

3) After first being taken to the wrong building, and then given the runaround by Consulate/USCIS guards (they each kept sending him to the other facility's security entrace), then surviving a huge line in a DMV-style room where in an AMERICAN government building where there was NO English that he could see printed or spoken, he was able to file our paperwork, pay the processing fee and find out our next steps.

4) He returned to the Orphanage and emailed me ALL the things I wanted to know about the boys: their birth names and surnames; their dates of birth; place of birth; their shirt/pant/shoe sizes. PLUS he told me that the boys are in undies and POTTY-TRAINED! I know we as adoptive moms tend to mourn developmental milestones, but, in absolute all-out honesty, this was one milestone I do not feel too upset over missing.

5) He spent the rest of the day playing with the boys and having a blast.

Last night when he returned the boys to their nannies, he said both boys became so upset and cried. One of them quite hysterically so. I think it caught the Mister off-guard just how much fun they would have together. And I think it caught my man off-guard to realize just how much it hurts to leave them behind. It hurts like hell. Just hearing his voice after only spending a few hours with them, I could tell how much they mean to the Mister. How in just a moment's time he has turned into Daddy Bear for them. Thanks, babe. Thank you from the bottom of my motherly heart for doing this for our boys.


Cliff called on his way to the USCIS office with the news that he had all the info he needed. The forms are now filled out completely. Thank the Lord!

I'll post more later--time to scoot.

Wanted: Prayers, Good Thoughts, Voodoo, etc.

We have a bit of a situation.

Cliff has been unable to get the paperwork we are in need of. He really doen't even 'need' the paperwork, as in have his own copies (well, technically, it is needed, but it could be submitted later, too.) He just needs to chance to SEE the paperwork to fill in some missing info. The agreed meeting to review the paperwork was continually pushed back, until it was flat-out broken, and now no one can get in touch with the director.

If you are a praying folk, PLEASE pray that he will get this information. If you'd rather send good thoughts, best wishes or cross every digit and limb you have, I'd be tickled. Heck, if you want to perform some Voodoo ritual and drink chicken's blood on our behalf, I'd be thrilled. We just need this information early this morning so he can make his government appointment and enjoy his last afternoon with the little boys.

Thanks to all. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Safe & Sound

I'm happy to report that the Mister safely arrived in Haiti this morning. His luggage was lost, but due to the overly-prepared packing habits of the Wife, he has all the essentials he needs right there in his carry-on (INCLUDING the all-important paperwork). The luggage was jam packed full of donations--medicines, formula, hygeniene items, so we're praying that it makes it way to Haiti. Preferably tomorrow morning so that after his appointment, the Mister can hook up the printer/scanner/fax machine that someone so generously donated (thanks, Trishah!).

When we spoke around the noon hour, he was still unable to locate the Orphanage director to see the boys and get the paperwork he needs. I told him to call me at 5 if he was still without seeing the boys or getting in touch with the director, but I'm relieved to say that 5 has come and gone and nary a problem to report.

Hopefully the trip will continue the good note it began on. We arrived at our local airport to stand in the line of an obviously cranky and tired ticket assistant. And us with TWO overweight pieces of luggage. The Mister leaned over and whispered, "Get ready to cough up the $100. No way she's handing out a break." Just then a fellow who looked like he spent the last year underneath an airplane with no break for a shower came up front and nodded to us to come on up. He weighed both our pieces of luggage and looked at us solemnly. "How much do your bags all weigh?" he asked.

"I think just shy of 50," the Mister replied.

The man twirled his Rollie Fingers mustache and nodded. "That's what this scale says too." He winked at me. After heaving our bags onto the x-ray machine and stealing a glance at Miss Crankypants next to him, he leaned over to me and whispered, "I hate them damn credit card machines."

God Bless our mustached friend.

The Mister will call after filing the paperwork tomorrow. I know that he is nervous that some problem will arise that he won't know how to handle. Please send your prayers, positive thoughts, and well wishes his way.

Thanks, Babe!

Awwww, Mister, thanks for such a sweet post! I didn't even see it until this morning. And to think I sat upstairs while you wrote it, irritated that whole time because I thought you were dinking around with your IPod the hour before your flight--shame on me! I think I'm pretty darn lucky to have you too. Love, The Missus.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day to My Dear Wife

Hi everyone, this is Cliff, Sarah’s husband. Sneaking in a little Mother's Day blog before I leave for Haiti, where I'll be spending Mother's Day 2008. Those of you reading this blog have and/or are learning much about my wonderful wife. To celebrate Mother’s Day, I thought I'd contribute a small piece on Sarah and why I’m lucky to have her as the mother of my children and as my best friend for life.

First, and foremost, Sarah is a wonderful parent. I think most men will say that about their wives, but I emphasize this first because this is what made me fall in love with her, immediately! If you’re not familiar with the story, we had an epistolary romance (love letters, notes, etc.) and, aside from her beauty and obvious intelligence (brains are soooo s*xy!!), she made it very clear that Hatfield, our oldest, was the most important person in her life. Being a man intent on making family the top priority, I was immediately smitten. When I saw Sarah with Hatfield, giving her unconditional love and attention, there was no doubt in my mind, this was the woman meant to be the most integral part of my family.

Since that first date in Chicago, when I found myself completely overwhelmed by this woman’s beauty, the type that is so vibrant and alive from deep inside that it pours out of her and permeates everything and everyone nearby, I have fallen in love each day and in a more and more stronger way. For those of you interested in the statistics, our courtship was roughly six months. I was infatuated from day one, I wanted to marry her five minutes into our first date, and was brave enough to hint at it (and work into conversations how we would get married ‘if’ things worked out) by our second date, and was unabashedly committed to being her husband at the end of that second date (fast, yes, but when you know, you know!).

The marriage happened quickly, so fast that it took everyone I knew by surprise, and they thought I was crazy for leaving Seattle. If you knew her, though, the way I did, and saw everything you wanted in a wife, you don’t let anything prevent you from getting your future started. No time delays, no work delays, nothing was going to stop me from living the rest of our lives together.

Wow, I’m probably straying a bit here. I should be talking about her and why she is the best mother in the world. Instead, I talk about how I fell in love with her! Can you tell that I am still crazy about this wonderful woman and continue falling in love with her each day? Back to her as a mother!

Sarah is unselfish with our children, which is something important to me. This isn’t unselfish in the way of spending money on them (which she does do within reason). She is unselfish in that they are top priority. Every decision made takes the children into account. Work and life balance, how we educate the children, what we stock in the kitchen, how our free time is spent, and every major thing defining our family is primarily based on what it means for the kids. This is hard and, for me, a challenge. Sarah does this naturally, correcting my selfish whims and reminding me of what is important- not to her but to us. We made promises at the beginning of our relationship and, as a shortcoming, I sometimes want to do things for my benefit, not for the good of the family (example- big screen television) because it makes me happy. Although everyone has a right to get a little self-focus, its important to manage our finances properly. It takes discipline to give focus to the children, to buy music lessons rather than cable television, to spend money on educational books and sport equipment rather than books I want for myself or some really cool electronic stuff. And, most hardest of all, its hard to make the kids the focus of our lives rather than ourselves. Perfect example- this posting! I try to focus on Sarah as a mother and I lace every paragraph with my thoughts, stuff about me, etc.

Anyways, Sarah is consistent in this respect. She gave up working to become a stay-at-home parent. Working is hard, it is, but I’d rather work than be a stay at home for one fact- it’s hard, very very hard. I say this because, when we made the decision for single income, Sarah offered me to be the stay at home if I desired. Thinking about the challenge of babysitting, errr I mean parenting, our one child for a day, and considering the idea of tripling the kid count over time and repeating it 364 times each year is daunting, heck, it’s maddeningly impossible! So, I chose the easy way out and opted to work.

So, Sarah works at home, 7 days a week, no holidays or weekends off, with no raise, no awards, and no promotions in sight. She does this with unending grace, giving every ounce of love and patience and direction in shaping our kids and providing for them every day. She balances the budget, which was challenging on the income side for a long time, and makes miracles happen with strapped funds. She cooks healthy and delicious food for the kids, which takes a lot of time. She homeschools the kids, which adds to the difficulty in being a parent because it requires additional time (think late-into-the-night reading and planning and researching) in preparation and doesn’t allow for a tempting 6-hour break each by having the kids go to traditional school.

In short, Sarah has shown adamant commitment to being the rock of the family and being the best mother that she can be to our children. She helps me to become a better father by reminding me of my priorities, and as a wife she has been my best friend, advisor, and overall good influence on all matters professional and personal. I admire her for her choices, her actions, and for the amazing job she has done with our home, our children, and our lives.

Happy Mothers Day, Sarah. I am a lucky man to have a woman like you as my best friend and mother to the kids we dearly love.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Deep Breathing

This week has been a blur of preparations for Cliff's trip. I am feeling my anxiety rise hourly, and I'm beginning to question the wisdom in assigning the Mister to this task. Not because he is in any way incompetent; my man's quite bright. It's just that, well, newsflash for you, folks:

I'm sort of a wee bit of a control freak.

Boy, I'm glad I got that one off my chest.

I have spent the past week agonizing over this paperwork. Triple checked, photo-copied in triplicate, plus I have written out detailed, explicit instructions regarding the information Cliff must ascertain from Marie's documents and used up an entire stack of bright red "Sign Here" stickies. Our program manager has triple checked my work and triple checked with Marie that she indeed possesses these required documents. I have meticulously filed each document in an expandable file, including both originals, copies and back-ups of the back-ups. Even Martha Stewart would be nodding her approval, were she standing next to me. She's not. However, my mother, whom our family has lovingly likened to "Martha Stewart, on speed," has given her seal of approval.

I have packed Cliff's bags full of donations, gifts, snacks and clothing. Knowing that he does not have the most acute of listening skills for the finer details (love you, babe!), I have written out what he can expect at each place, the names of key players, what documents/i.d. he needs to take with him and where. Notes detailing what to do if things don't go according to plan.

Much of this is overkill. The Mister's a big boy, and I know that he would more than step up to the plate if need be. Alas, I'm by nature a nurturer, and I just want to be able to take care of him while he's away. I don't want him to get there and feel like I threw him to the wolves, left to fend for himself. And, can I help it if send ing him with a color-coded set of notes regarding the various paperwork makes me feel like I'm fulfilling both wifely and motherly duties?

"A wee bit of a control freak"
just might be an understatement, ya think?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Kissy Lips

Wow! My upper lip can completely cover my nostrils?!? I'm even catching myself off guard!

My new hair 'do

I LOVE to randomly call people on Daddy's Contact list. Too bad none of them speak Chamorro as well as I do. . .

Friday, May 02, 2008

My Hattie Lulu

This is my favorite photo from Hatfield's 10th birthday 'photo shoot.' I'm taking them ahead of time this year; we have 3 kids with summer birthdays, so financially it's easiest to spread them out over 2 months. That and I 'got smart,' long since giving up on trying to get all of them to sit still and stay clean while waiting for their turn. Once the boys arrive, then I'll bring all 5 in for a sibling photo.

I should write something eloquent about my baby girl turning 10, but I just can't. My throat tightens, my eyes fill with tears, and my heart hurts. I'll gather myself up off the floor and write when her birthday arrives.

Paloma, who came with us for the appointment, spent the entire time trying to get in the photos. The kind photographer offered her a turn at the end of Hatfield's session--how adorable is this?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Running for my sanity

How many weeks has it been? Six? Seven? I forget, but either way, I'm still running. Somedays it is the only thing that keeps me on the plus side of the sanity equation. Other days, I must admit that I find it very boring and it is added to the list of things pushing me close to the minus side of the sanity equation. Thus is life.

We've had a 2-day break of nice weather sandwiched into a week of cruddy forecasts. It snowed last weekend, and this weekend I'll probably be wishing the Mister built a kayak for 5 with a couple of pet compartments, because we're in for one heck of a washing. The break was sorely needed, as I was getting cranky about running at the Y.

I am a weird-o magnet. Like bees drawn to an open can of Mountain Dew, any creepy guy who walks into the cardio center of our Y will park himself next to me at the treadmill. I don't know what it is. I'm not hot--the good looking guys don't run by me. I'm married--as my rings announce to all. I wear old, grungy workout clothes that I wore in college (not kidding--I'm a workout fashion disaster, but so what). I generally look grouchy and have headphones on.

Monday morning I went in at 7:30 am, as the Mister had to be home waiting for a conference call. A whole string of treadmills empty--7 to be exact. I'm on the end. Mr. Creep-O walks in. You know the type. Too difficult to determine age, slightly androgynous, dark shaggy-ish hair, Stephen King-type glasses. What treadmill does he choose? The one right next to me.

Am I the only one aware of Treadmill Spacing Rules? I refuse to look over at him, although I can see that he is continually glancing towards me. He spends his time walking for exactly 3 minutes, then pausing the treadmill, jumping onto the sides of it, tries to discreetly adjust himself. I contemplated reporting his creepy keister to the staff. But then I'd be the Hysterical Y Girl.

Last week I was at the Y one night late. Again, whole string of treadmills, and a balding guy chooses the one right next to me. Only this time I know who it is--I went to high school with him and my friend does daycare for his kids. He obviously didn't realize who I was. He said something to me--I don't know what, because, again, headphones--but I turned to him and said, "Hi ______. It's me. . Sarah. . you probably didn't recognize me since I probably look like a dying animal as I run."

He nearly fell off the treadmill. He spent the next of the time talking to me about his kids, nervously, probably to redeem himself and to discourage me from letting the cat out of the bag about his complete disregard for the Treadmill Spacing Rules to his wife. Of course in a thousand years would I never say to his wife, "Oh, by the way, your husband? A creepy Y guy." But it was fun to watch him sweat it out for a bit.

I'm hoping running will begin to stave off the crabby and overwhelmed feelings that are beginning to surface ("Beginning?" says the Mister, not knowing if it "safe" to laugh.) But if it doesn't, I'll gladly settle for it staving off thigh cellulite. That would be a very acceptable alternative.