Monday, June 30, 2008

Getting by with a Little Help from My Friends (and My Mom!)

Last Thursday my BFF Melanie and my dear Mom threw an adoption shower to help us prepare for our impending arrivals. I must say, it was AWESOME to attend a shower in my honor not looking like a cow and being able to knock back a glass or two of champagne.

My mother's party philosophy is, "Never skimp on the cake. Always have an incredible cake that the guests will never forget." She did just that, as we gorged on this adorable and moist white cake with apricot filling (wording courtesy of the 5FC 2007 Christmas Card).

Everyone loved the idea of placing the flowers in sand pails!

And a shower would never be a shower without an incredibly super cute baby to pass around and coo over (thanks for sharing Addie, Amy!).

My very thoughtful friends realized just how much MORE laundry I'll be doing with two more boys.

We had photos of our trips to Haiti strategically placed around the wine and iced tea bar, which was the busiest spot in the house.

And you know you're with a large group of moms when they naturally sit a la library circle time, even when there are chairs nearby!

You know a true friend when they hobble over to celebrate your adoption three days post-leg surgery (thanks, Jill!).

And Melanie is THE party gift-wrapper master!

Thank you so very much, Melanie and Mom, for throwing such a picture-perfect shower. What an incredible way to help welcome in our two very special boys!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Stepping out of my comfort zone

A week or so back, my dear friend Jill (the friend who also is adopting from Petits Anges de Chantel) asked me if I would be interested in mentoring a pregnant teen girl who lives at The Marion House, which is a state licensed group home for pregnant teens/teen mothers. Our friend and neighbor Mandy had recently taken a position as a house social worker, and found two girls in need of a Mom Mentor.

The mentor's role is to see the girl at least once a week, and to spend time with her, get her out of their residential home. To invite them into your own house, as many of these girls have never actually even witnessed how a stable, Christian family works. Mentors typically go through Lamaze with their girl and attend the birth. So right there, Mandy had two little light bulbs, one bearing Jill's face and one bearing my own, light up in her mind, and she got the ball rolling with a phone call to Jill.

Truth be told,I hesitated at first. All for the purely selfish reason that I was scared I was going to become attached to this girl, attached to her baby, and then be terribly hurt if she were to disappear with the baby, or not take care of the baby well, or bring the baby around unhealthy and/or dangerous people. I don't know how I could handle worrying about a little baby's safety or whereabouts if the girl wasn't able to pull it all together and handle motherhood.

While wrestling with those feelings, I thought of a dear, dear friend who was my single mom mentor back in the days when it was just me and my little Hattie. Donnell was (she's now happily married) a sharp, witty yet no-nonsense single mom who had her own fair share of birthdad woes to put up with, but which never got her down. I watched with amazement at how she budgeted, at how she ran her house, balanced her job and LOVED her little boy with everything she had. I watched her barter down medical bills, hunt for thrift store finds and drive an older car that was paid for. Donnell couldn't have cared less what anyone thought of her.

I think of the many lessons I learned by watching her, and how kind she always was to me. She is now one of my dearest friends still. I wonder how long it would have taken me to learn some of those lessons on my own, and what pitfalls I wouldn't have managed to avoid.

And I had it relatively 'easy' as a single mom: a college degree, a good-paying job with a super understanding boss, and a supporting family.

This girl never had it easy: a lack of family, history of abuse, and still in high school.

And I realized that there was absolutely no way I could turn my back on her. The thought of having a broken heart was far less painful than knowing that she was alone week by week through her pregnancy, all because I was too chicken to do so.

The moment I made the decision, I felt a sense of peace despite my discomfort at the unknowns. And yes, the discomfort is still there, ashamedly. But sometimes there are things we just must do, even if they are out of our own comfort zone.

I spoke with the director again, and she gave me "J"'s background. Just hearing about her made me feel a sort of motherly love and sense of protectiveness. There was no way I could abandon her now.

"J" had been attending church with the director, and this Sunday was to be water baptized. "M" (the director) mentioned that it would be so cool if I could come to the watch and meet "J" for the first time.

So I did just that. Excited and nervous, I bought a sweet little, "Hoping you have many blessings on this special day" card for her. I didn't know what to write, so I left it at "I look forward to spending time with you in the days ahead" and hoped that didn't come across as too generic or psychotic.

When I arrived, I took a seat in the back so I could scan the crowd for J and M, or catch them as they walked in. Never saw them. All through praise and worship, I worried that perhaps J changed her mind, or was ill. Shortly after the singing, the pastor announced they would have the water baptisms, and he announced each person one at a time, sharing a bit of their testimony with the Church.

J was the third person up. I was so far in the back of the cavernous, poorly lit room that I couldn't make out any distinguishing features other than she had short hair. As soon as the service was over, I made my way across the room to M and met J.

J is absolutely beautiful. A freshly-scrubbed, sweet-natured girl with a soft beauty about her. Not due until November, I certainly could not tell she was pregnant.

M explained to her that, unbeknownst to J, she had invited me to the baptism. J looked so surprised that someone would actually come for her, and hugged me. I gave her the card, and we chatted for a short while. I told her that I would come to see her tomorrow at the house, and she seemed happy.

Having done all of that, I know I made the right decision to begin this journey.

The path the Lord leads us on is funny sometimes. Always where we need to be (whether we like it or not), I knew that today I was meant to be at this church as a visitor. I have truly been struggling with our adoption during the past few weeks, and inside I have felt a disjointed, removed feeling from everything and everyone except my own children. The Pastor today gave a sermon which I needed to hear. I still get chills just thinking about the things he said, and I slowly felt myself waking up and snapping to. Suddenly I find myself feeling a bit more equipped to weather the peaks and valleys we have left before bringing our boys home.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Feeling Low

I'm trying not to post a huge whiney post, so I'll keep this short. A whole week with no news. We're one of the last families from our file group not to be signed out, and I want to join the others in the queue for passports. I was so hoping that we would be able to travel down with a few other friends who will be bringing their children home as well, but at this rate we'll miss them completely.

My blood pressure went up EVERY time the phone rang this week, in case it was "the call" that we were out. No call ever came.

I just want to cry.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Waiting. . . and then some more

No offense to those Warhol lovers out there, but right now I must say the man is a complete idiot.

I swear I could hear the echoing sound of each tiny grain of sand hitting the bottom today. Trust me, there ain't nothin' exciting about that.

CSA Bliss

The anticipation of CSA Pick-up Days is greater than that of child on Christmas Eve. I find myself absolutely giddy with the arrival of each box, and I admit that each Thursday afternoon is more exciting than any birthday or other gift-receiving holiday.

Our Spring here in Wisconsin has been pretty dismal. Cold temps and extensive flooding have wreaked havoc on many crops. Good Earth Farm, our CSA producer, has managed to dodge any major or sustainable damage, but crop production is several weeks behind schedule.

The first few boxes have been "light" by their accounts, but I believe they are nothing short of wonderful! Strawberries, green garlic and onions, lettuce mixes, baby bok choi, mushrooms, sugar snap pea pods, garlic scapes, rhubarb--all farm fresh, organic and flavorful beyond belief. Who knew that I could be such a little piggy and eat a full pound of raw sugar snap peas in less than 15 minutes?

I have learned of an amazing California family who grows over 6000 pounds of food on a 1/10 acre gardening site. Amazing! I can only imagine what it must be like to live in a climate where one can grow food year round. For now, I will settle for a full 19 weeks of happy munching on some farm fresh, organic bliss.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Probably asking for it, but. . .

This morning I gutted the double closets in our boys' bedroom. Moved Atticus' belongings to one side, and began to prepare the two little guys' side. I dumped out the tub of 3T clothing and began going through it, sorting, hanging, folding. Doing so probably sends a handwritten invite for Hell to break loose in our adoption, delaying it to the point where the boys will no longer fit in 3T clothing by the time they come home.

To even further tempt the devil, my mom, Hattie and I went outlet shopping yesterday. We bought the boys' coming home outfits, and bought all 3 boys matching swimsuits/t-shirts combos. They are so cute I could just cry looking at it all, hanging up in the closet.

Just waiting.

We received the WONDERFUL word that 3 fellow adopting families are OUT of MOI!!! I am just thrilled for them, knowing that they are one HUGE step closer to bringing their rugrats home. I get butterflies in my belly, thinking that we should be getting very close now, as our files all went in around the same time.

I've decided to work on potty training with Paloma starting later this week. She's wicked smart, just strong-willed and wants to control EVERYthing. Well, guess what little girl, the winds are a-changing. For instance, she has not napped in over a week. Last week was a loooonnnnngggg week. By 4 pm she is so ornery she can't stand herself, and by 6:30 pm she is so overtired that she becomes hyper and is impossible to put to bed.

Today I *had* it with this whole ordeal, and I put her upstairs to nap. I had told her we were going upstairs to rest, and she ran out to the backyard, demanding playtime on the Rainbow. We swam all morning long at my mom's, so 'no.' It's naptime. Kicking, screaming at such a high decibel level that my eardrum hurt, I put her to bed.

Four times she came out, "I scared Momma! I scared!"

She's not scared; she's tired and she's stalling. I know when she is honestly scared, and she's no where near it. I hate the fact that she has chosen "I scared" over "I want a drink" or "One more story" or "No nap!" The "scared" thing makes me feel like a heartless monster.

I picked her up and moved her to Hatfield's room. "Okay, I go nigh nigh Momma," she said, tear-stained and absolutely exhausted. Two minutes later she's in dreamland.

Momma: 1
Paloma: 0
Mom's Nerves: -100

Birthday Pictures

We've done a whole lotta birthday the past two weeks. Here are a few pics from all the festivities:

Hattie and I made Frog Party Favors for Atticus' frog-themed birthday party.

1.5 hours of work = 75 water balloons = 5 minute water balloon war.

We had an alligator pinata that actually broke in a reasonable amount of time. Usually they either break before every child gets a crack at it; OR they are so durable that even the strongest adult at the party cannot break it with a steel bat.

I labored until 1 am making Hatfield's birthday cake. Hopefully it can be recognized as an I-Pod. I will say this about home-made cakes: no matter how horrible we as adults think they look, our children will always think they are COOL and look AWESOME!

Hatfield's present from Mom and Dad.

Despite warnings from the APA, Atticus feels the best way to start the day is with a cake-and-ice-cream induced sugar rush.

I can now honestly say that I am *offically* cake-and-ice-creamed out. We have a two month reprieve until Paloma's birthday in August, and I think it will take that long before my blood sugar levels return to normal.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Happy 10th Birthday, Hatfield!!!

Ten years ago today, I was a terrified, young thing who gave birth to the most amazing daughter. From the moment I first saw my little one, I fell into a hard, deep love that changed my life for the better. I credit her with saving me from who I would have become without her.

Hatfield is a remarkable child--kind, loving, patient, hard working yet easy going. She is generous and giving with her little brother and sister, even when they are anything but that to her. Every day with her has been a blessing, and she is one of my greatest gifts. I still cannot figure out what I did to be blessed with a daughter like her.

Happy 10th Birthday, My Dear. If I could go back and have every day with you all over again, I would gleefully.

(Pictures to follow)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fresh Start

Today, I made a fresh start.

Last fall, I discovered myself in a personal situation that left me completely devastated and drained.

Since last fall, I've lived under a blanket of grief, anger, self-pity, depression, fear and anxiety. A thick heavy one which has slowly suffocated me, smothering out any flames of joy, strength and peace I once had.

For months now, I have tried to pretend to enjoy things, but I wasn't enjoying anything. Most things were a huge struggle, and I literally had to will myself to get through days without hiding under my bed. I withdrew from friends and just kind of hunkered down in my little shell of negativity. "Going through the motions" is the best way to describe my state of being.

The toxic mix of these emotions culminated last night, when I suddenly saw myself through the eyes of someone else. And I realized that I hated the weeping, grieving, paranoid, self-pitying, fearful emotional weenie that I had become. I was exhausted by all the negativity that I was carrying with me everywhere. I became acutely aware that I had a decision to make. To live drowning in this grief, or to move forward and begin living life again.

It doesn't matter how unfair things are. Or how it hurts to be the victim. It's just a matter of whether or not I'm going to be the person who I was before all of this. A strong woman, with a sense of self and purpose, who could roll with the punches and always come out stronger than ever.

Today, I decided that enough was enough. I've packed up that suffocating blanket of emotions and kicked it to the curb. I'm recommitting myself to feeling life again. I'm going to love my husband, children, family and friends with every ounce of me. I'm not just going to go through the motions anymore.

I can breathe deeply now and my shaky stomach is gone. It's a new start, and does it feel good.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Goal: An uncluttered house and frugal lifestyle

Lately I have found myself in a tug-of-war of sorts between the ideals of living a frugal life and those of living an uncluttered life. I realize that when it's all said and done, the two ideals are completely complementary. I think an uncluttered life is a natural consequence of being frugal and very careful about what purchases are made and aware of using resources wisely.

The tug-of-war regards decisions on what to declutter. As I ponder objects, I try to think of ways to 'use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.' Sometimes I amaze myself with the brilliantly creative ideas I come up with for the fleece from a badly lipstick-stained pullover. The trouble is these creative ideas will NEVER come to fruition because I just don't have the time. It is hard for me to say, "Nope, never will get to it." I am definitely an optimist when it comes to what I think I can get done.

It's difficult to set aside that frugal nature and part with something perfectly useful. Take this box of Swiffer WetJet pads.

This box has been sitting on my top laundry room cupboard shelf since May 2006. Only one has been used; the rest sit, perfectly usable. The Wet Jet itself is long gone; a victim of Paloma-induced collateral damage. Honestly, I was never a big fan of the Wet Jet. The cleaning solution costs more than a liter of gas in Germany, I found that it makes the floor cloudy, and it's an ecological disaster. Plus, let's face it: 3 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cats, 1 mom who loves to cook. My floors are filthy by the end of the day, and a Wet Jet just ain't cuttin' it in our busy household.

Why I kept this unopened box for so long I'll never know. I couldn't justify just tossing it; it seems wasteful. But, I found a great resource center that will gladly take them, as they'll sell it in their thrift shop where it will go quickly.

The Mister shares in my frugal nature. When I explained to him my laundry room declutter and how I gave away the box of Swiffer wipes, his response was, "Why? We might have used those someday."

My thoughts exactly, my dear, for the past two years. This is just one of the millions of reasons why I love this man and why we have a cosmic connection. But it's also why we've had a bulky box of Swiffer wipes that, if we are honest with ourselves, we know we will never use, and they're taking up precious cupboard space.

Fortunately, I had a great talk last night with my dear and very grounded friend Melanie. She wisely assessed my dilemma and gave the advice to pitch what we don't need without thinking twice, and then be frugal with the rest.

Very sage advice, indeed. With that nugget of wisdom, today I shall go forth and tackle the Mister's closet and tie rack. He's in Vegas this week, so baby, there ain't nothing you can do to stop me.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

I titled my post Father’s Day, instead of Happy Father’s Day, out of respect for all of us who don’t have a great dad, or our dad is gone, or we'd just rather forget the day all together. I know how (some) of you feel. My dad has been gone truly over half a lifetime now, and this holiday is still difficult.

My Dad was a great dad. I mean that sincerely, not in the don’t-disrespect-the-dead-so-say-only-nice-things insincere way. A little proof that I know my dad was a great dad is that my sister and I married really good guys. Hard working, kind, loves kids. When you have a good dad, you marry a guy whose good like him. I look at women I know, and the ones with good dads all married great guys. Now, some who had big losers for fathers married some good guys too, bjut not all of them. I would say that it’s under 50%.

The funny thing is that my sister and I each almost married the wrong kind of guy. Like we got really, really close to marrying some major big losers. Luckily for both Stephanie and myself, when you had a dad like ours, once you realize that the one in front of you just doesn’t measure up, you drop them like a hot potato, count your losses as blessings and move forward.

Days like this can really suck. For me, it’s bittersweet because looking at my own husband with our kids, I know what I lost. But still, the celebration is there because I get to see how much our kids absolutely worship the Mister.

My brother and sister aren’t that lucky. For them, the hole is gaping, and little exists to divert them from that fact on this day. My mother looks at her children and grieves the loss of my dad all over again.

I look at photos of our waiting boys and wonder how they’ll feel about Father’s Day in the years ahead. I look at Hattie and wonder how she’ll feel about her birthdad. He’s a piece of work. The Mister and I do a very good job of just being happy and matter-of-fact about everything; Daddy Joe lives in Washington, your real Dad lives here (the Mister adopted her years ago). Daddy Joe never has visited (fine by me), rarely replies to her emails (she’s long stopped asking to email him) and sent her a birthday card this week with the line, “I hope you are going to do lots of fun things this summer. I know I am.”

Puh-leeze. Now, the Mister and I totally realize that he is writing that solely for our benefit. A sort of yeah-I-once-was-a-huge-loser-but-I-got-my-shit-together-and-look-at-me-now sort of transparent b.s. Honestly, what kind of dad would write something like that to their own kid? I realize many have written way worse. But my God, why would someone say, “gee, hope your life, that I’m not, in is as good as mine, cuz mine rocks!” What a jackass.

We smile and say to Hattie, “Wow, what a cool card! How nice he wrote you a little letter and sent such thoughtful gifts.” We would NEVER EVER say a discouraging word about him to her (she doesn’t read the blog, and I would never include this post in a blog book), but it makes me wonder at what age she’ll look at us and say, “Are you kidding me?” At what age her angst will begin?

I’m betting that at some point in the next, oh, say 5 years, some legislator somewhere will draft a bill to abandon the Father’s Day holiday. Or maybe suggest splitting it into two days, one for those who have awesome dads who are worth celebrating, and a day for those to vent and rage over their crappy genepool. I’m not saying that I think this should be done, but I’m betting there’s more than one person out there who feels that way.

I look at my beautiful son sitting next to me, and the photos of the two gorgeous sons I long to hold, and I commit myself to doing everything I possibly can to raise them to be excellent husbands and fathers. Our society certainly doesn’t make it easy. I’m very fortunate in that I have a great husband whose an excellent dad to help with this huge task. So thank you Mister, and I wish you a very happy Father’s Day.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How to Live with Just 100 Things

If you could only live with 100 things, what items would be on your list?

I just finished reading this article about Dave Bruno's 100 Thing Challenge. If you don't know who Dave Bruno is, don't worry; neither did I. He's a fellow living in San Diego who decided enough is enough when it comes to "stuff," thus creating his 100 Thing Challenge.

Always one for living simply and frugally, I immediately began mentally tallying what things would make my list. Instantly I realized heck, I would be happy if I could get our garage clutter down to 100 things. Do categories of items count (utensils, undergarments, toiletries), or is that cheating?

I certainly do not think the 100 thing challenge is feasible for me, but I'm all for anything that gets one thinking about how one can do without all this junk. I've long been a HUGE fan of Flylady, feeling intense satisfaction with each successful 27 Fling Boogie Mission. The Mister heard on NPR that if every person on Earth lived in the same manner as every American, it would necessitate SIX planets to provide the same resources. Yikes.

Looking around this basement "pit," I see about 4 games with missing pieces that we could easily part with and a half dozen toys we've long outgrown or lost permanent interest. Those things right there would take up 10% of my list if included. I think the fewer things we have, the more we tend to value them and thus take better care of them. I'd bet that if my children had one set of checkers and one game of Candyland as their only boardgames, not a single piece would be astray. While I think the idea of 100 individual items is too lofty a goal for me, the challenge idea certainly has my wheels spinning as to how I can somehow adapt the game for my own life.

It's Official

It's officially summer.

Today I cut my first peony bouquet.

Discovered our first ripe strawberry and dug out my first radish (an Italian variety.)

Also discovered that last year's composting really paid off, as indicated by the size of this not-quite-finished growing and ripening berry.

PLUS, tomorrow is our first CSA box for the season (see Good Earth Farm link on right).

Ahhhhhh. Summer is definitely worth the wait of a long, cold winter.

Four Things Never Fail

1. Without fail, every time I venture into our basement to check the old email because, after all, Sara E. could be emailing me the news that we are out of MOI, the telephone will ring upstairs. I race upstairs each time to answer the phone, because, after all, Sara E. could be calling me with the news that we are out of MOI.

2. Without fail, every time I use up the last drop of creamer on my morning cup of coffee, I will inevitably set the cup down momentarily on my family room carpet while I race to get an early morning telephone call, because, after all, it could be Sara E. calling me with the news that we are out of MOI. Without fail, I will manage to upset that cup of coffee and spill the contents over my light beige carpet. Without fail, I find myself left with a huge coffee stain to clean and only 2% milk to stir into my coffee.

3. Without fail, on the afternoons a grumpy Paloma most desperately needs a long nap,UPS or Fed Ex will deliver something to our house. Without fail, my heart will begin to race in anticipation, because, after all, this could be a document from Sara E. stating that we are out of MOI. Without fail, it will be a delivery of the Mister's work materials. Without fail, I will hear the truck on its approach and subsequent slowdown/stop in front of our home, and I will begin to race, Chariots-of-Fire style, to the front door in order to beat them to the doorbell. Without fail, they will beat me, ring the doorbell, ditch the package and wake up the baby.

4. Without fail, this entire MOI situation has me acting like a complete spaz.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Feeling Smurfy

My children gifted me with these blue garden clogs for Mother's Day, and the shoes have fast become my favorite footwear. Squishy and comfortable, they clean right up in a jiffy with a garden hose. What more could a mom ask for?

"Check those out!" the Mister said when he came home and found me in my shoes. "Those look great!"

"Yes, I call them my Smurf Shoes," I gleefully told him, knowing he understand the reference. I tried that title out on the kids, but it fell flat since they have no clue what a Smurf is.

The Mister just stared at my feet. "Why? Smurfs wear white shoes."

I stared back at him, a bit incredulous that he just took away my thunder in an instant. "Yes, but these shoes are bulbous and the same color as a Smurf."

"Well, then you should call them your Smurf-colored shoes, or your Smurfy shoes," was his retort.

Yes, unbelievable but true, my life has come down to a semantical discussion regarding the Smurfs.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Eating Good in My Neighborhood

25 days ago, I took the time to throw a couple handfuls of spinach seeds into my backyard dirt. Today, fresh, bright green spinach abounds. I sauntered out to the garden, pulled up a few handfuls, washed off the dirt and then savored the way the flavor of freshly picked spinach actually bursts in your mouth. Even in the pouring rain, I was pulling on my galoshes to work my way through the mud to get to my spinach. The Mister looked at me like I was crazy, until I served the spinach to him. Handfuls of spinach, throw in some grape tomatoes, a sprinkle of basil, a slosh of EVOO. THEN he understood why I would be going out there in wind, rain and thunder--it is heaven on a platter.

Shortly after I planted my garden, a friend/neighbor stood on my back deck, inspecting our garden beds. Scrunching up her nose, she disdainfully remarked about how she just couldn't spare so much time for a hobby of playing around in the mud. Hobby? Playing? Girlfriend, I'm feeding my family here. While she went out this weekend and spent big bucks at the Pick and Save for nutritionally-devoid iceberg lettuce grown on another planet and wrapped in non-recyclable plastic wrap, I spent pennies to her dollars on a few packets of organic, heirloom seeds which grew a nutritionally, environmentally, ecologically and palatably (is that even a word?) superior green. Who's laughing now, sister?

Seriously, though, since when did we become so afraid of a little dirt? For generations upon generations, we humans have grown and eaten our own food straight from the dirt. Not until recently have we decided to process our food to the point where it isn't even food.

I probably should have been born several generations ago, when no one would have turned up their noses at me for gardening, thought I was crazy for canning or a glutton for punishment because we bake our own bread. Why is it so strange to want to follow in God's original plan for living? I don't recall there being a Mickey D's in Eden.

I realize that I'm standing up here on my nutritional soapbox. The Mister will read this and then say, "Maybe you want to edit this a bit, babe. You're probably going to offend some people who like to eat at McDonald's or who don't want to garden." He's saying it out of kind concern, because he knows how many comments I already get about the homeschool, about the adoption, about the gardening. He probably is scared someone is going to push me over the edge.

But here's the thing. I feel quite passionately about my gardening, my carbon footprint, and my concerted effort to put as much great nutrition as possible into my family's bodies. And I won't be making any apologies for that. And I don't expect any of you to apologize to me if you eat at McDonald's or feel that God wants us to eat at the Golden Arches since he created the man who invented it.

I think far too often I have the 'edit' button turned on inside my brain, and I edit opinions out of my posts before I even type them. I'm going to make a concerted effort to turn that 'edit' button to 'off.' For several reasons. I realize that the blogs I like the most are all written by highly passionate, motivated individuals who don't get a hoot as to who agrees with them. I want this blog to accurately reflect my years spent mothering my family, and that includes choices I make for them based on my own passionate beliefs regarding their wellbeing. And I read a great post by my friend Marta about each person's 'rarity,' (see 'Stumbling on Happiness' blog) and I do not want my rarity to in any way reflect the definition of sycophant.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Failed Miserably, Yet I Feel Darn Good

Well, I failed miserably on my No Complaining experiment. At first, I thought it would be a sort of Compact for personal behavior, but really, it left me feeling worse than I did prior to it. I already feel badly enough for being such a crank; why heap even more guilt onto the ever-growing guilt pile? I think if I swallowed all of my frustration, I would spontaneously, although predicatably, combust.

This would NOT be a good thing.

Just like I needed to complain when I was 41 weeks pregnant and counting with very overdue (and large) baby Paloma, I need to complain about my frustration, aggravation and sadness with this entire adoption process. True, I fully expected the process to be difficult, but that doesn't mean that coping with the difficulty is easy at times.

Lately, I feel like there is no end in sight. I recognize that the end is there somewhere. These boys will come home. I just don't know when. And I don't know how many and what types of unforeseeable complications lurk around the corner.

Whining feels good. I would love to kick and scream, but really, that isn't socially acceptable unless you're under the age of 2. So I'm just going to whine, moan, groan, bitch, complain and criticize my way through the rest of this process. I'll catch my breath, and if we're not any closer, I'll just start it all over again.

Friday, June 06, 2008

No Complaint Zone

No complaining.
No whining.
No moaning.
No groaning.
No b*tching.
No gossiping.
No judging.
No criticizing.

On NPR, I heard about a St. Louis pastor who gave his congregation a 21-day No Complaint Challenge. The testimony of those who succeeded was inspiring. Thus, my new code of conduct for the next 21 days straight. And if I fall off the wagon, the 21 days start over again. It took many of the participants 3 months to do this, but I'm okay with that.

By all accounts it has been a good week. My baby boy turned 6. We had a great party. I finished a huge amount of yardwork. Sold a bunch of stuff to consignment. Came out $3.96 in the black from the Drug Store Game (more on that later). Yet, I am knee-deep in a quagmire of self-pity and negative attitude.

I think I may go postal on the next person who complains to me about how long the adoption is taking. And I fully expect The Mister to go postal on me the next time I complain to his poor ears about how long the adoption is taking. Everywhere I turn, I feel negative. Yard work looms. My family room setup is driving me batty. And I can't manage to get our basement organized to save my life.

So, I'm picking myself up by the bootstraps and kicking my negative attitude to the curb. If you catch me moaning and groaning on here, feel free to point it out. I promise I won't whine, criticize or judge you (not even behind your back).

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

!Biba Kumplianos a Atticus!

I love my family. Truly. And I'm not just writing that because I know my sister reads my blog (I still love you even though you gave my kid two pet frogs, Auntie Stephie. Just remember that if the Mister and I croak, the frogs are coming to live with you along with all FIVE of my kids.) I really have been tremendously blessed by being born into this family.

We know how to get together and party. On a day-to-day basis, we usually host a good blend of knowing each other's business and knowing when to butt out. We aren't co-dependent, yet we aren't strangers either. And we all love a good margarita from a great Mexican restaurant. What more could one ask from a family?

Tonight we took everyone to our favorite Mexican restaurant to celebrate Mr. A's 6th birthday. What a time! Hatfield impressed us all tremendously by downing the super XXX hot salsa that Uncle Adam and Daddy had to work to get down.

In between posing with every individual for a picture with himself and the sombrero, Atticus danced around the room and sang, "Feliz Cumpleanos a Mi."

Paloma flirted with her Mexican boyfriend, Juan, who is the nicest guy. He's a waiter there who Paloma took to from the start, 1.5 years ago. He'll carry her all around the restaurant, people ask him if she is his daughter, he brings her extra ice cream. It's adorable, and I always leave an extra babysitting surcharge in the tip.

And when she wasn't busy hanging around Juan, she was charming Uncle Kevin into giving up his U.S. Open hat.

Jimmy was there, matching us younger folks margarita for margarita.

I'm happy to report that Atticus was ecstatic about his frog birthday cake, which, surprisingly, tasted quite delicious at 6:45 a.m. I myself was even able to enjoy it, despite the fact that the frosting was green (ewwww) and the coffee was not done brewing (pick up the pace there next time, Mr. C!)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Last Day of Being Five

Today was Atticus' last day as a five year old. Sigh.

While I love watching my children grow and learn, 'bittersweet' is the only word capable of describing the experience. My little guy brings so much joy to this mama's heart.

Atticus has the typical six year old boys' obsession with frogs. I find myself knee deep in amphibian literature. If the child is not asking me a question about Star Wars, he's asking me a question about frogs. We have some brightly colored frogs decorating the boys' room. Never did I ever think I would know so much about these little hoppy creatures.

We celebrate birthdays in our house by eating birthday cake for breakfast. We have cake and ice cream, we sing Happy Birthday, we open presents. A birthday is just for one short day, so we like to start it out right by celebrating it from morning to night.

In honor of the big SIX, Hatfield and I stayed up tonight creating this surprise cake creation for our boy.

He has no idea this is what we created, and I can't wait to see his face in the morning. Atticus is always so happy and enthusiastic about everything (especially frogs and Star Wars), and his flattery is the best pick-me-up a Mom could ever ask for.