Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Joy of Little Boys

Truth be told, I am always a bit surprised and saddened when people express disdain over the number of children we will have once our two little boys come home. "Five?!? Are you crazy/insane/nuts/etc.?"

I really shouldn't be shocked because we heard negative reactions when we were going to have just three. "Holy Crap! Why?!?" was a response I received from someone after I announced my pregnancy with our third child, Paloma.

As irksome as those comments may be, I am always left feeling quite troubled when these naysayers take it one step further. "Two more boys?!?" as if they don't quite understand. "Three little boys in one house? You are in for it!"

Yes, I wholeheartedly agree that I am in for something, just not the "it" that they have in mind. I doubt I would receive the same reaction if I were adopting two pigtailed little girls. Call me crazy/nuts/in for it all you want, but I LOVE every bit of the happy, energetic, crazy, chaotic, laughter-filled JOY that little boys bring to their Mama's hearts in their own, special way.

Please don't mistake me. . . I love having my two daughters. They are incredible gifts, and I am so blessed to have two beautiful, smart and loving little girls of my own. It seems that everyone just naturally understands how wonderful it is to have daughters, but I just cannot figure out why boys are so misunderstood.

Take my little Atticus, for example. Atticus is a sensitive boy. He loves his swords and Legos, karate and big wheels, frogs and iguanas, but he also loves his violin class and art lessons, his hip hop dance class and his weekly Scripture memory verse. Someone recently asked me if I was "bothered" that he would rather take dance than football, as if there was something wrong with that. Heck no! Atticus is adored at his dance school. Last week, he went to his class wearing his camo newsboy cap backwards. He was so stinkin' cute that it hurt for me to look at him. Every mom and teacher in that place was absolutely ga-ga upon his arrival, and he received far more fawning over him than any pink tutu-clad girl in the joint.

How is that inferior to football? I don't look at his telling me that Dumbo makes him cry as a sign that I need to toughen him up. Or the fact that he'll stay by a friend who has had his feelings hurt until his friend perks up, instead of running off and playing, leaving his friend alone to cry. I see these sensitive childhood qualities as the precursor to a very compassionate adult male.

And honestly, what lady doesn't want a good-looking, compassionate man who can throw down some "fresh moves" on the dance floor?

So in honor of my son here at home, and my two little boys I'm so impatiently waiting on to come home, I'm listing the Joys of Little Boys. Here goes:

1) A little boy's first love is always his Mama. They love us so much that they want to marry us when they grow up (and when Daddy explains why they can't marry Mama, then they'll usually jump at the chance to marry their pretty Auntie.)

2) We Mama's are always gorgeous to them. Once, after I had just gussied myself all up for Date Night with the Mister, Atticus saw me and fell to the floor. Putting his hand over his heart, he lifted just his head off the floor and said, "You are so beautiful, you killed me!" and then pretended to die. I. Love. My. Boy.

2) The bravery of a little boy will make up for any lack that a Mama might have. Dead mouse in the dog food bin? They'll take care of it. A tree frog on the patio table? It's his new best friend. A big booming storm while Daddy's away on business? He'll sleep in your bed so that you "won't be scared."

3) Little boys throw themselves headfirst into anything and everything that interests them. Take a peak at Atticus' bedroom door:

He loves brains so much that he had our pediatrician get out a book and photocopy these diagrams for him.

4) They are funny in such an effortless way and can make you laugh even when you don't want to.

5) They rarely are bored and can turn anything into a toy or game.

6) They can ask about 5 questions a minute, 80% of which you will not have a clue how to answer, which in turn makes you feel youthful when you realize how little you actually know.

7) They can identify every subspecies of dinosaurs, frogs, toads and lizards by the time they are 5.

8) They build you your dream mansion out of Legos.

9) They can speak in Yoda-ease for hours at a time. Hand them a telemarketer while they do so, and I guarantee you will confuse that telemarketer so badly that they'll put you on their "Do Not Call" list without you're having to ask.

10) They're the first who want to cuddle with you in the morning and they'll want to sit on your lap for story time until they are too big to do so.

Certainly, days with little boys can be tough, but the joys far outnumber them. I could go on and on, but I'd love to hear how your sons melt your heart!

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Ragamuffin for My Little Ragamuffin

I saw this idea some time back on The Nester's blog (of course! I love that woman!), and have wanted to make one since. Of course "life" happens, and sometimes ideas just sit and become cobwebby in the back of one's mind.

Lately, though, they kept popping up on various blogs that I stumbled across, which I took as a sign that now was my time to embark on the Ragamuffin Garland Express. Ideally, of course, you are to make these out of leftover fabrics or clothing to be thrown away, of which I had none that would work for the garland I had in my mind's eye. So, I stopped in at Hobby Lobby before we hightailed it up to the lake, all set to make a Ragamuffin Garland for little Miss Pona's bedroom.

After several hours of cutting and ripping, had all my pretties laid out in a row, waiting to be knotted.

See how pretty it looks knotted on? So delicious looking I could eat it!

I hung it up instead of a valance in her bedroom. I love the fact that each of our bedrooms have large window seats, and I didn't want to hide it with a heavy window treatment.

We bought all the materials to make two smaller ones for Hatfield's room, to hang on the footboards of each bed of her bunkbed. I am all about a simple craft that require no gluing, sewing or intricate pattern to follow. They're addicting, I tell you.

*** Click here for a tutorial courtesy of Darlene's Days.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Can't blog much this morning. . .

I can't blog much this morning because my brain is tired from my back hurting (huh?). Yesterday I had to brilliant idea to move ALL the furniture in my family room around in EVERY CONCEIVABLE furniture arrangement "just to see." Of course, 80% of the room looks exactly like it did prior to my brilliant idea, the other 20% being a relocation of the room's smallest and lightest furniture.

We are preparing to head "up nort'" this weekend, as we must close up our "cottage" for the season. I have a list of fun fall craft projects to fill our hours, as the lake is far too cold for swimming. Being away from all phones and computers for a few days is also a good thing, as the adoption front news we received was not good. Fortunately, we are in the hands of a very dear, very competent agency, and hopefully by the time we return, we will have several, "If not, then this" plans of action in place.

Also to look forward to upon our return is that my gorgeous friend Becky is coming over for a Sunday dinner with her gorgeous family. I am SO excited! I have oodles of paint samples to peruse through, and I am in need of her expert opinion. I was just at her house last night, and I literally salivated on her floor while fawning over her new photograph arrangements on her great room walls. If I were a man, I would so want to marry Becky. If God were to strike both our husbands down at dinner on Sunday night (God forbid), then I would take the life insurance money and buy a big house where she and I could live with our oodles of kids and we would have the best darn wall photo collages the world has ever seen. (Please don't worry,fellas, I'm not planning on and/or hoping for your demises; I just want to reassure you both that if something were to happen, we ladies would carry on. :)

So in lieu of blogging (ha ha), I'm just going to post some Friday Fotos, since I've been lacking in the photo department lately.

My kindergartener Atticus has been working hard on learning how to build and name numbers.

And little sister is always there to offer moral support when the going gets rough.

Paloma loves to put all of her school "work" on the fridge.

We had great fun watching my niece Aristana while her Mama was working the McCain convention (we forgave her). The big kids loved trying to make her laugh!

I got to fulfill one of my greatest joys in having my double stroller stacked with little ones (I so missed the boat on that one by having my kids so far apart).

After 2 hours of listening to Mommy fawn over Aristana's supercute Boo pigtails, Paloma asked for some of her own (which makes it the second time she ever let me fix her hair, whoohoo!).

Enjoy these wonderful Autumn days!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Case of the Disappearing Pants

Oh dear. Where is Nancy Drew when you need her?

30 minutes ago, my dear sweet Mr.

called me, all distressed.

he cried, but not in a pleased fashion.

"Hush hush, my beloved, be not distressed," I soothingly spoke, and then empathetically yet rhetorically asked,

as if it were somehow the blue suit pants' fault that they were hanging in our closet, and not in the Mister's overnight bag, a mere 135 miles away. (Oops, sorry Nancy, you really aren't needed here after all!)

"Take comfort, my dearest, and mind there's no need to be an

I promise you won't be going around tomorrow asking,

Even a 24-hour WalMart is open in the middle of the nowhere that you are, and $6.87 psuedo-suit pants beckon!"

And my Ardent Admirer, rest assured that your adoring Mrs. will never let you again declare,

And I promise that these words will never again escape your lips,

Upon your return, I shall place your 100% polyester treasured trousers in this:

only the one I give you will declare, "These are my pants," as we both knowest that I detesteth poor English.

Sleep well, my darling, and know that you shall never again feel the depths of despair that you felt tonight.
Your loving Mrs.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ready to Burst

I am so ready to burst right now, just not in a good way.

Today has, by far and away, been my most difficult day in dealing with this end-of-process wait. My blood pressure is so high right now that I can feel my pulse pounding in my ears.

I am so unbelievably mad and frustrated that it is nearly the END of September, and here we sit with no birth parent interview done. The one that could have been done at any time after Mother's Day.

I fully realize that it does no good to be mad and frustrated. Most days I completely get that, and while sad, I can go about my business just fine.

Today is not one of those days.

The unknowns of the wait are killing me.

The fact that I have the two most adorable homecoming outfits---summmer outfits--hanging in their closet-- that I need to put away because it will be to darn cold to wear them when they actually do come home-- is absolutely killing me.

I flip flop from wanting to punch something out to wanting to scream every cuss word I know to wanting to sit in a corner and wail. Please tell me I'm normal.

Tomorrow will be better, I know. Today I need to just get a grip; it's just that my blood pressure is not letting me.

My pounding head

I've had a headache that developed at the end of last week that my regular tried-and-true ibuprofen will not put a dent in. A situation has developed with the teen I mentor (who's 30 weeks pregnant with a baby boy), which I'm certain is my headache culprit. Since Advil has failed me, I'm hoping that maybe a huge mental/emotional blog purge will rid me of it once and for all.

I haven't posted a huge number of J updates simply because there were not many to post. The girl managed spend most of her summer placed on restriction and stuck in the group home. Everytime I did see her, she would just spew anger and hatred about the group home and their staff; being her mentor, I would listen, but would not agree with her near-delusional conspiracy theories about why the girls are not allowed to drink caffeinated soda or not allowed to have their statuatory rape-convicted baby daddies be allowed unsupervised visits. Being "held captive" in a group home with a group of other young girls who also felt that they were being "held captive" created a very negative attitude within those walls, and I still am in shock at how often the police were called to the group home.

I don't mean to come across as bitter or jaded. Incredulous, disbelieving, naieve are probably all better terms.

When school started, J's mood and attitude cheered up considerably, as well as the others. Getting out of the group home each day and actually having things to do was sorely what those girls need. Idle hands may do the Devil's work, but let's not forget idle minds do as well, and with all those girls busy with their homework and jobs, the drama/trauma level in the home has considerably lessened. Thank the Lord for small favors.

Throughout the past months, J would often rail about her mother. And given the upbringing she had, I don't blame her one single bit. She had no intention of ever letting her mom see the baby, and she was infuriated with the staff for disclosing to her mom that she was having a boy (which was completely legal for the staff to do, and I don't think out of line, since the mom has legal custody of J. J felt otherwise, which, again, I don't blame her). We were making progress with J, coming up with a plan for school and work once she turns 18 next summer.

Last Friday, J called me, happy as a clam, telling me that her county social worker put in a Change of Placement petition, and her hearing was set for Oct. 6th. She'll be moving 2.5 hours away, living with her mother.

I asked if her if she thought this would be the best place for her baby. Irritated, she snapped at me, "I am so mentally and emotionally stressed living here in the group home. That's certainly not good for the baby. If I'm happy, then I'll be a better mother."

Silly me, I must have missed that part in my parenting books! The whole, I need to be in an environment that makes me happy, even if it could possibly be considered a less-than-optimal place to raise a baby.

She went on to explain that, besides, she would only be with her mom days. Her plan was to convince her mom to let her move 45 minutes away, back to the one-bedroom apartment with the 21-year old guy (not the baby's dad) who works part-time at a pizza parlor, and full-time at, well, I'm not quite sure.

Hence the start of my headache.

Last night J was over for dinner, brightly going on and on about her plans. The Mister and I were uncharacteristically quiet.

On the ride home, J and I got on the subject of our adoption. J remarked that she could never give this baby up for adoption, because she "knew that even though it would suck and be hard, she could do it." She went on about how if she did give the baby up, she would never be able to get over the thought that she was a "quitter."

"I don't know, J.," I said. "I'm sure many women give up their babies because they just can't do it, but I know there are some who give up their babies, even though they are capable of raising a child. They just want more for their kids than what they could give them--maybe they want their baby to have a home with two parents, or in a family with other kids, or people equipped to provide more than what they could. I wouldn't consider those women 'quitters.'"

She chewed on that for a half second. "Nope, not me. I didn't grow up with much, and I don't care about that. I just could never forgive myself if I quit on my kid."

Cue the throbbing part of the headache.

I don't even know what to make of all of this. What to say, what to do. I certainly don't support this insane chain of decisions, but I certainly don't want to not help or support this child either. My heart aches, my stomach hurts, but I can't quit on her. I just wish I knew what to do.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

An Autumn Frame of Mind

I need not look at a calendar to know that we are moving into autumn. A simple look at my "Books Checked Out" list from our local library tells me so. I've gone from books such as this:

to books of this genre:

After 3 straight weekends on my feet canning tomatoes, salsa and peppers, I was quite content to cook and bake up a storm today for my grandparents. Grandpa and Grandma live in the Great North Woods, and my folks are visiting tomorrow. Jimmy and I intend to stock their freezer full of individual-portioned meals. Grandma recently suffered a nasty bout of food poisoning, likely due to unknowingly eating food past its prime, as sight, smell and taste all diminish with aging. Mom and I are determined to not let it happen again. Hopefully, individual-sized servings will reduce the likelihood of food spoiling and then being eaten.

Hamburger Vegetable Soup and Chocolate Cherry Cake are Granpda's all-time favorites, so I have a huge pot of the soup simmering on the stove, and I just took the cake out of the oven. Later this evening I'll put together an eggplant lasagna and bake some lemon cheesecake muffins.

The kids are in from a busy afternoon of play, and all are heartily digging into the soup. I am as well, but from a smaller pot of soup sans hamburger. The days warm up with the sun, but the evenings cool decidely faster, and mornings are brisk for my early hours run.

I'm not complaining. I love the start of a new season, and Autumn is one of my favorite. An excerpt from

sweetly described the author's tradition to begin knitting mittens with the arrival of Autumn, and I do think I may try to follow suit.

I'm bound and determined to go into this season in a positive frame of mind, not with lamentations over a passing of a season that did not bring our little boys, but rather with the optimism that this could be the season that brings our little boys home. We are waiting on an update of our birth parent interview situation, but realize that we are in for a wait. We certainly covet any prayers and/or good thoughts you could kindly send our way.

Wishing you and yours a very blessed Autumn,
Sarah and the Frozen Chamorros

Friday, September 19, 2008

Scary Food

This scares the jeepers out of me, and is yet another reason why I feel secure in my decision to go back to a vegetarian diet. The only meat I now buy for my family comes from places like this one, here, and if the week's grocery budget doesn't allow it, then we do without.

Even better is a diet in which you can point to the exact spots where the majority of your food comes from, like your backyard or the organic farm down the road or the farmer's market up the block. Way easier on the wallet than the produce sold at your local grocers, not to mention an easier impact on the environment. Granted, it's not 'easier' than throwing a prepackaged, frozen just-heat-and-serve-and-try-to-ignore-the-mystery-meat meal on the table (I've been guilty of that more than once!), but I find a little pre-planning in the meal department goes a long way. It's just a matter of getting my game on enough to get it all done. Yet reading articles like the one above re-ignites my focus on healthy eating and suddenly the menu preparing moves up on my priority list.

Okay, I need to stop surfing the net now and go to bed. Hopefully I won't have nightmares of salmon/mouse hybrids chasing after me down the aisles in a meat packing plant. Ewwwww.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Best Darn Quote I've Heard in a Long Time!

Dave Ramsey, quoting Larry Burkett's tokened saying:

"If you did it wrong the first time, go back and do it the way your wife told you to."

If that is not sheer brilliance, I don't know what is. And since I'm a kind and loving wife, I went right ahead and shared that brilliance with the Mister.

His brow furrowed. "In what context?" he asked. As if I were some political pundit who was trying to twist a statement out of context to promote my agenda.

"What do you mean in what context? This is globally solid advice! It's true in EVERY context!"


(Many thanks to Cindy for posting such brilliance.)

De-humanizing Words

The McCain Train came through our area today, and the Mister and I have been recently surprised to find out how few people are aware of what I'm sharing with you this evening. For those of you who don't know, the Mister is Asian Pacific Islander, so this topic has been well-known to he and I; we just thought the rest of the country knew as well.

This video, for us, is not an easy one to watch. The "G Bomb" is a word not taken lightly in our household, and for darn good reason. We were both amazed to learn what a deep history the word "gook" has. As parents adopting Haitian sons, we were stunned to learn that the word "Gook" actually took form in Haiti, yet another way in which the Haitian people have been dehumanized.

The article Irwin refers to in the San Fran Chronicle can be found here

I'm not telling anyone how to vote or who to vote for. I will, however, feel free to share what issues and concerns are important to me, and my family, in this election, because 1) I'm blessed with Freedom of Speech and 2) it's my blog :) I don't expect anyone to share the same concerns/issues that I hold, as I certainly hope no one expects me to share theirs. What is wonderful though is the fact that we can have these forums to discuss our opinions in civilized manners.

My family is a wee bit more racially mixed than your current average American family. I am caucasian and my husband is Asian; we have one caucasian child; we have two children who are Asian-Caucasian; we have two Haitian children who society calls "black."

We fully recognize that our children will be exposed to racism. The Mister has shared with me all of the horrible, dehumanizing things he has been called because of the color of his skin, or the slant of his eyes. Traits that made him "less than" in the eyes of others. Horrible dehumanizing names will someday be spoken in reference to the beings of my own children. As a mother, this BREAKS MY HEART in a way that I cannot even put into words.

I will teach my children to rise above this. To hold their heads up and with Christian love in their hearts, to accept those who offer hate. Maybe they'll even be able change the minds and hearts of those who use such terms.

I just don't want the President of the United States of America to be one person my children need to work on.

Wanna hear a secret?

I'll tell you, but ONLY if you Super-Duper, Pinky-Swear that you will not let the cat out of the bag. I would become an Instant Super Star, the Darling of Morning Talk Shows, a Highly Sought-After Author. . . and all of that would throw my homeschooling schedule to pot.

Deep breath. . .here goes:

I have SEE-THE-INVISIBLE Super Vision.

There, I said it.

I can even prove it, because apparently as long as I am the one taking the photos, my Super Vision transfers to my little old HP camera as well. Take a peek:

I can see INVISIBLE SHOES that no one else can see, particularly the owners. I watch my family trip over what they think are invisible blocks of air, each time they come into the house. I laugh inside my head at their mere humanity, as I know they are not invisible blocks of air, just INVISIBLE SHOES.

I know they say black cats are spooky, but apparently I am the Spooky One as I can see our INVISIBLE EMPTY CAT FOOD BOWLS and our INVISIBLE CAT SO HUNGRY SHE'S TRYING TO EAT THE COUNTER.

My Super Vision can spy the INVISIBLE COLLECTION OF RANDOM ARTIFACTS that accumulates, invisibly, on the banister, day after day. Surely it must be INVISIBLE, as no rightful owner ever carries their random artifacts UPSTAIRS.

See the Tabasco Tie? The Mister wears it when he's having a I'M-HOT-STUFF day. His last I'M-HOT-STUFF day was THIRTEEN DAYS AGO, on Friday, September 5th (I moved it up to the forefront of the INVISIBLE COLLECTION OF RANDOM ARTIFACTS for photographic purposes). Certainly, the tie must have taken on INVISIBLE PROPERTIES to be hanging out on the banister for THIRTEEN days! I'm amazing, I tell you!

But my Super Vision Feats do not stop there, on no! Look!

I see the INVISIBLE EMPTY TOILET PAPER DISPENSER, whereas others only see the full toilet paper roll SET ON THE COUNTER, a place within their BAVZ (Below-Average Vision Zone.)

And last but not least, this sad INVISIBLE site:

A little mini-vac with a big ol' mess of cord, just resting at the top of the staircase. Apparently the little mini-vac went INVISIBLE the moment Atticus finished vacuuming the steps, as he could not find it to put it away in the hall closet! And apparently it remains INVISIBLE, as EVERYONE has been STEPPING on it EVERYDAY since MONDAY, when it's the child's Vacuum the Stairs Morning Chore Day.

Please, do not inundate me with comments asking me how you too can obtain Super Vision. I simply cannot share my secret. Please feel free to leave comments marveling about, fawning over or simply worshiping my God-given skill.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How to Irritate the Snot out of Your Siblings, by Pona

Lesson 1:

Take all the usable Play Dough in the house and mash it into a ball. Leave no hope of separating it back into the original colors.

More lessons to follow.

Wait. Paloma would like to add this disclaimer:

More lessons to follow UNTIL I am offered a large sum of money for the exclusive rights to my upcoming book, How to Irritate the Snot Out of Your Siblings, by Pona.

In an instant

Yesterday Cliff and I received some insane news that has completely overtaken and boggled our minds. A former co-worker of his from our Milwaukee days had called him. In the course of their conversation, Cliff asked how this man's wife was. This was a couple who we were "couple" friends with while we lived there; we had them over for dinner, we went out to dinner with them, when we were at work events we hung out with them. Not close friends, but friendly. They were married shortly before we moved back to Green Bay. In the meanwhile they had built a home, and last we heard they were thinking about trying to start a family.

The question brought the conversation to a grinding halt.

"You mean you don't know?" the man asked, assuming that surely the Mister heard through the grapevine.

"Huh?" was the Mister's response.

"Uh. . .she's in jail. For a year. She was in a car accident which killed a motorcyclist."

WOW. What do you say when you find out news like that?

Last July, his wife was partying at a summer festival in her hometown on a Saturday evening. She ended up too heavily intoxicated to drive their home (about a 30 minute drive), so she stayed with a friend. The next morning she got up to drive home, and reported that she fell asleep at the wheel, then crossed the center line and hit a motorcyclist head on.

She blew 1.5 times the legal limit. At 8 am in the morning.

The man she killed was 40, a church-going man who was the president of his local BMW motorcycle chapter. Had a 15 year old son, a good career, and was well-liked and respected in his community.

In the end, she pleaded no contest and received 1 year in jail, ordered to pay 2 years of the son's college tuition, a lengthy probation with numerous details. She is now serving her year.

Cliff and I were left dazed by the news. How in just one instant, your entire life and those of your family's can change.

Our minds were reeling last night, thinking of it all. How his friend must have felt when getting the phone call from the police that Sunday morning. The mix of anger, fear, sadness. The mourning for that poor son left fatherless, and the mourning for the incredibly horrid decision made by your wife that changes everything forever.

There have been several moments in my life when things have changed---not for the better-- in an instant. Events, actions and decisions, both of my own accord and by others, that for hours left me horrified and paralyzed in grief. Events were I literally became sick to my stomach wishing to go back in time so a different course could be taken.
A feeling that I know must be gripping these 2 people, who probably feel like they are living a nightmare that they are still waiting to awaken from.

But life doesn't work that way.

My only hope is that somehow, some good can from this. It's unnerving to see this type of thing happen to people you know. Unnerving to see just how quickly and monumentally things can change with one severe lapse of judgment. Absolutely mind blowing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Crack that whip, baby!

Okay, I promise that this is not going to be that kind of post either.

But seriously, how cute is this Chamorro daggan? I don't know what gets me hotter in this picture--the Mister's bottom, or the fence that is being built so I no longer have to shampoo the mud out of my family room carpet on a daily basis.

Okay, total side note here, but my blog, so I'm allowed to digress. The Mister is Chamorro (duh, Sarah) and I'm Polish. We are so constantly amazed at how insanely similar the Chamorro and Polish cultures are that someday we are going to do ground breaking research to prove that the island of Guam was actually settled by Polish immigrants, or vice versa. Certainly, with that proclamation you can see why I'm a natural at homeschooling (if you are not rolling your eyes at that one, you need to stop taking my blog so seriously).

Anyway, who would have thought that the two cultures are so similar? Even the word for 'buttocks' are similar. . daggan, dupa. Well, not that similar, but they both start with a "d" and have 2 syllables. Daggan's are a Chamorro man's favorite part of the female body, and we Polish gals, well, let's say we are 'well-endowed' in the dupa department (isn't that a much nicer way of saying, I have a huge Polish butt?).

But the similarities don't stop there, oh no. Chamorros and Polish both hold long grudges, love food, and never take "no" from a houseguest when offering food. Anyone who has been to my house can contest this one. We will offer you food and drink and won't take "no" for an answer.

Mr. C. is far worse than me, though. Here are a few recent food-offering infractions:

*He nearly forced our poor pastors to eat cheesecake one evening, after we already stuffed them with dozens of cookies.

*He has offered to make my friends (who biked over with their kids, no less) 7-Sevens or White Russians at 3:30 in the afternoon, on a Tuesday.

*He has even been known to force "warm, soft pretzels" on our dinner guests within moments after we gorged on huge Italian dinners.

Of course, I'm not picking on him here. I am his little Polish Enabler. I help him be the best food pusher he can be.

But I digress. Big time. Back on topic.

As a follow up to my post about making the most of every inch, I thought I'd post some progress photos, since I haven't posted many pics lately. I've been cracking the whip!

Here are the kids working on the fence.

And here they are preparing the front patio for re-cementing.

They even did that during a homeschool day. Shocked? Ready to call child services on me? I may go to jail, but at least I'll be able to walk over my completed front patio on the way out the door, ha ha ha!

This past weekend I also went through Hatfield, Paloma and my closets. Yikes! Honestly, one of the things that scare me most about having 5 children is the huge clothing glut that this could create in our homes. Here is a photo of all the hangers which are no useless, as I purged our home of the clothing that once rested upon them.

2 huge bags for Melanie, 2 huge boxes for consignment, and 3 bags off to Manna. Whew!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Making Every Inch Count (Don't fret, this is NOT that kind of post!)

Please, get your mind out of the gutter. This is so not a post for the Mister. Well, it is, but just not how you may have gathered from the title.

When we moved into our home, it felt HUGE to me, as our last two homes were quite "cozy." Compared to new homes on the market, our current home is quite small, but to me it's still big. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with the realization that there is yet another room to tidy/vacuum/dust/etc., and then I wish we had purchased something a bit smaller or with less rooms.

In the past month, the realization that we will soon have SEVEN people living in this house has truly sunk in. Duh Sarah, I know, but I'm a slow learner. Supplementing our already ample supply of toys and books, this school year has marched in a large sum of additional books, notebooks, and art supplies. Suddenly, everywhere I turn I see clutter and poorly used space allocation.

We are not making the most of the inches in our home. Floor inches, wall inches, cupboard inches, drawer inches. All are not well-used, and it is evident to me with the disorganization that is creeping into each room.

"Creeping" is probably a nice way of putting it. Take the dining room, for example. Disorganization hasn't creeped in; it came in, assault rifles blazing, taking the room and everything in it hostage.

Fortunately, I am the daughter of Martha-Stewart's-Long-Lost-Twin-On-Speed. My mom rocks at this stuff, and she has taken pity upon me and my home.

Let the games begin.

First up is what I call "The Persian Conversion," in which we transform our current dining room (painted/decorated in an attempt for a Persian-type look which I don't think I actually achieved) into a home office. This one just about kills the Mister. When we moved into the home, our dining room was a home office. A terribly disorganized, ugly home office in a room painted two unmatching shades of seafoam green. I hated it.

Two shades of what should have been a spiced orange/red color PLUS the re-installation of one brass chandeleir PLUS the dismantling of the huge computer desk (which got stuck in the middle of the basement staircase when we tried to move it) PLUS the re-placement of my old kitchen table. . voila! I had successfully directed the Mister in creating a dining room out of our former home office.

Only with the exception of when we used the room at our annual New Year's Eve party last year, it has never been used as a dining room. Instead, it has just been cluttered with all the paperwork, mail, and supplies that would have been put away in there had it been a home office.

Like I said, I'm a slow learner.

So, in a short amount of time we will be painting over the spiced orange/red color that I never liked, removing the chandelier for the second time in the 2.5 years we've lived here, and storing away the large table. The room is being reclaimed as a home office.

See, I told you that was just about killing the Mister.

This week we're also making better use of our inches in the backyard. The Mister and Bopppa are moving up our fence and adding on to it, so that the entire side yard AND the side garage door are enveloped within the confines of the fence. Meaning that the dogs can go in/out to the backyard through the kitchen-garage door. Meaning that all the mud on their feet can be wiped off on a mat in the garage instead the nice carpet next to the sliding door that they usually enter from. Meaning that I will be a happier Mama with cleaner carpet.

While we watch the menfolk work, Martha-Stewart's-Long-Lost-Twin-On-Speed and I will be turning our sights to the disorganized garage. The thought of a clean, organized garage makes me giddy.

I don't know how the Mister feels about that one yet. I'll let you know.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Silver Lining

Sara called this morning to pass along the news that our birth parent interview did not go through. The birth parents were again a no show, although it's my vague understanding that they told our director that they would attend. Either way, I was fully prepared for this so the news was not a shock.

The good news in this, if it can be called that, is that we do not have to wait another month for a new parent interview. Our O director spoke with the Consulate, who expressed empathy and said that due to the birth parent distance from PAP, as soon as they showed up at the O, she could bring them in for the interview, no appointment necessary. Praise God for small favors.

Constantly being devastated over the lack of progress in the adoption is exhausting, so today I'm focusing on my shining, silver linings.

We were at the library this morning for Paloma's Story Hour, when the older children can pick out books for reading hour during the week. As usual, I fielded several questions about the children and homeschool. And as usual, I hear these responses:

"Oh, I could never do that/Not in a million years."
"Better you than me."
"My kids would never listen to me."

I usually smile, nod and say, "It's certainly not for everyone, but we are so lucky to live in a place where we have so many good options for schooling."

But here's the thing. I love schooling my children. I love the excitement of watching them grow and learn. I love the quiet family moments we get to share. I love the loud, crazy family moments we get to share. I love watching the sibling bonds grow and strengthen between them. The thought of my having to miss all of these things makes me want to cry. I look at this opportunity as one of the greatest blessings of my life.

They are my silver lining in all these crazy, up and down moments.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Mystery of My Universe

Can anyone tell me why Anthony La Paglia is on my Pick 'n Save grocery bag?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Taking "My Big Freak Out" off Tomorrow's Schedule

We've learned the news that, in all probability, tomorrow's scheduled birth parent interviews will not happen. The roads in Haiti are terrible right now, and our birth mothers live in outlying areas. For these poor people, getting to the Consulate on time is probably the least of their worries. In a sense, I feel terribly selfish and horrible for having any sort of disappointed feeling in this regard, but I'd be dishonest to say otherwise. Yes, I am disappointed. But I am outraged, worried and saddened by the conditions in Haiti right now, and how the help that is assigned to them is corrupted and never brought.

Please read the post below this one, and please make telephone call to your state's representatives. Put it on your blog. It's an easy thing to do.

If you have children, say, 3rd, 4th grade or up, consider having them make a call. They don't need to delve into the full politics of it all. They can say something similar to what Hattie said:

"Hi, my name is Hattie and I am 10 years old. I have 2 little brothers who live in an orphanage in Haiti, and many kids in Haiti are starving after all the bad storms. I would like to ask Senator Kohl to help the people of Haiti get the food and water they need from the U.N."

Honestly, what better way to show our children about our system of public servants than to have them call on one in a time of need? What better way to teach children to "do for the least of these brothers of mine?" then to explain to them how they can help, and then give them a way to help?

Eventually, the water will subside and a travel-safe path will exist for our birthmothers to attend their Consulate-mandated interview. Eventually, our boys will come home, and for us, life will go on.

For many others, they are not that lucky. These families are waiting to die. Those words sat heavy in my heart yesterday. It's only a moment to help. If you have taken the time to read and then forward an email supporting your favorite political candidates or to engage in a 2-minute conversation about why you can't stand one of the candidates, please consider setting aside the same little bit of time to make a call on behalf of the people of Haiti. You'll never know what a difference it could possibly make.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Help Haiti

This is a DIRE situation. Please, if you have any desire to help the children of Haiti, please consider making a very simple telephone call or fax to your Congressman and U.S. Senators. Shelly, you too in Canada can make a call to your local government, as the problem is with the UN :)

Here in my Area:
Sen. Herb Kohl ph. 202-224-5653 fax 202-224-9787
Sen. Russ Feingold ph. 202-224-5323 fax 202-224-2725
Rep. Steve Kagen ph. 202-225-5665 fax202-225-5729

To find your local gov't reps:

Word from Haiti:

Dear Friend,

Ike rained and blew all night on poor Haiti. This morning it is still raining and blowing. While we are safe on a mountain in Port au Prince, the northwest of Haiti is experiencing a natural disaster of unimaginable proportions.

Tropical Storm Hanna flooded Gonaives and claimed more than 500 lives in the past week. Now Hurrican Ike is dumping more wind and rain on the battered region. This morning we received a first hand report of a missionary there who said, "Forty children in the orphanage are eating flour, because they have not had food for five days." This same missionary is using bleach to purify contaminated well water for drinking. While human and animal cadavers float in the flood waters surrounding the facility. They have no other choice though as the UN is NOT DISTRIBUTING RELIEF.

The UN received 33 tons of relief for the region yesterday and it is warehoused in Gonaives, to date they have not distributed any of it. We received a message from a Haitian pastor in Gonaives who said his wife walked 18 hours through mud and flood waters to get food for her family. She returned empty handed, even with cash she could not find food; BECAUSE THE UN IS HOLDING THE FOOD BACK IN THE WAREHOUSES. It is rumored they will sell the relief after the storm.

This same family said, they "are waiting for death." This is not an overstatement of the situation in Haiti. We need your help now. You can go on line and find the name of your Congress men and you United States Senators with their phone numbers. Call them today and tell them that the UN is NOT DISTRIBUTING RELIEF IN HAITI. That you know the situation is worsening by the minute and thousands are at risk, in fact 600,000 Haitians have been displaced without food and water for days now.

As of Sunday morning, aid had arrived in Gonaive but due to fear of rioting, it had not been distributed according to missionaries in Gonaive. People have been without food AND water for 6 days now. Orphanages in the area have children without food and water.

The UN that is suppose to distribute the food and water. The US, Canada, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, The Netherlands, and other countries supporting the UN should demand that this food be distributed!

Another missionary, Licia Zachary Betor with Real Hope for Haiti, in the village of Cazele said that at 3 AM on Sunday morning, a wall of water swept through the village of Cazele. There is a small, shallow river that runs through the middle of the village. They are assuming that a mud slide in the mountains caused the wall of water to sweep down and flood the village. It took out the foot bridge over the river and swept people away. Licia heard that the road to the village was cut in half by the fast moving water and so the village is isolated, but she did not know for certain yesterday afternoon if that was true. Go to her blog at: http://haitirescuecenter.wordpress.com/ to read more about the flood.

Please be praying for Haiti. Due to the flooding and devastation, schools will not open until October 6. Your help is needed more than ever to help the Haitian children.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A Good Sunday, Sort Of

I usually judge how well a Sunday goes for me based on the condition of my ironing basket. Silly, I know, but I can't tell you how good it feels to go to bed on a Sunday evening knowing there isn't a stitch of clothing in the house that needs to be ironed and that the Mister has a clean, pressed dress shirt to wear each day of the week. The ironing board is put away, and I don't have to live with its presence next to my bed, quietly nagging me about the fact that Sunday is long gone and the ironing is still not gone.

Yes, I probably need therapy.

I added the "sort of" to temper down the notion that this Sunday has been really good, as there are all sort of emotions brewing beneath the surface. This Wednesday, the 10th, is looming large before me, as it's the second attempt at the birth parent interview.

It's as if I can already feel the grief, anger, and fear growing in me from the last failed attempt, ready to surge forward. Silly to have those things already brewing over something that has not happened yet.

Something that may not even happen.

Why can't I feel happiness, or cheer, or victory getting ready to burst forth upon the news that it happened? Probably because I suppressed a good deal of my frustration the last go around. And probably because I am scared. Scared of all the scary things that could go wrong. Scared of how long it could be until they come home. Scared that some of my worst nightmare scenario are already kind of happening.

I nearly started crying today at Church when one of our Pastors asked me if our babies would be home soon. I was explaining our holdups to her, and she looked at me sternly in the eye. Pointing a finger at me, she said, "We are going to pray those boys home. And I'm going to tell Pastor H. and he is going to help pray your boys home. I'm getting on it right now," she said as she walked away.

For those of you who don't know our Pastor Sandy, let me just say that she is one tough cookie and when this woman prays, things happen. For those of you who do have the honor of knowing her, you know what an incredible blessing this is to us.

It always humbles me just how much others care about these two little boys they never met. I wish there was an adequate way to express my gratitude, but I haven't found it yet.

Well, I'm at this keyboard, a slobbering mess, and it's time for the littles to go to bed. I promised myself that my pain and grief over this adoption was not going to take away from my children here any longer. I'm going to pick myself up, use half a box of Kleenex and some chapstick to make myself more presentable, and go to for bedtime stories and prayers.

I wish there was a way to express my gratitude to all of you who hold me up. Thank you, thank you for listening.

Friday, September 05, 2008

A Loud Ewwwww and an Even Louder HALLEJULAH

As I reported a few weeks back, my dryer went belly up on me. With an impending trip to Haiti, I made the choice not to disrupt the balance of our savings account and rather wait it out until the Mister's next pay period. I've since had to resort to line drying, which worked fine for me, until the forecast turned cold and rainy yesterday morning.

Lo and behold, the Mister got paid today, so I placed a service call yesterday morning.

"We have an opening this afternoon," the gal cheerfully told me. Well, I wasn't going to say no to that, so I happily set it up a day before the Mister got paid. We had 3 bed wetting incidents in a 24-hour period and I was looking at a 3-day forecast of solid rain to ruin any chances of line drying; I wanted the dryer fixed.

The service man came out, correctly diagnosed the problem from the sound alone, quoted me an insanely reasonable price, and wheeled it off to the shop. "I'll bring it back tomorrow afternoon (today), fixed, cleaned and quieter than when you brought it home new from Sears." He even said that they'll take payment tomorrow, which happens to be the Mister's actual paydate.

Deal. See how nicely that all worked out? Remember my dishwasher experience? I'm not used to this sort of thing.

Of course, after he left, I was completely GROSSED OUT at what was all lurking behind and underneath my dryer.

Please keep in mind that I'm not a piggy. I just have a dryer/laundry cabinet set up that prevents me from being able to wedge my head far enough back there to see what all fell behind the machine in the course of the past 2 years (excuses, excuses. . )

I'm still wondering how the heck a light bulb fell back there without breaking, but my guess is that the fall was cushioned by the 8 inch layer of lint, dust and dog hair that had accumulated (and which I swept up prior to the photo. I do have a basic level of pride, after all).

This morning, my phone started ringing at 8:10. "Hi, this is Paul from the Fix-It Shop. Your dryer is ready, and I know I said I'd drop it off this afternoon, but how about I bring it by right now?"


I'm thrilled to say that the dryer is back, quieter than ever, and working away at the 7 pile back-up taking over my front hallway. Can you hear that choir of angels sing?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I Can See Clearly Now

So yesterday afternoon I went to the eye doctor, my first visit in, well, one baby ago (don't even ask me how many babies ago it has been since I visited the dentist).

So I fibbed a bit in estimating how old my contacts were. Five months (give or take 2 years?), I guessed when asked.

Looking at my eyes, the optometrist asked if my right eye feels gritty. "Why, yes, it does," I said, crossing my fingers that I didn't have some horrible eye disfigurement.

"Your contact has a tiny tear in it. That's why it's uncomfortable," he kindly explained.

Well, now, that would do it, wouldn't it?

When the exam was over and I was comfortably wearing a new pair of trial contacts, the doctor seemed surprised that my eyes have improved and that my contacts were less strong than the ones I came in with.

A possible explanation could be that I've been walking around wearing the Mister's contacts for the past year. My replacements had been long gone, and his extras were just sitting, neglected, on the shelf, and our prescriptions were fairly close and I just didn't have time to get in to see the eye doctor, so. . .

"I eat a lot of carrots," I offered up as a possible explanation.

The doctor raised an eyebrow, and I could see his mind's eye wondering how the State of Wisconsin could possibly think how it is a good idea for a woman like me to be home educating her children.

I spent the early part of the morning reveling in just how well I could see everything! Until a few minutes ago, when I noticed it raining outside. I raced out to the bowed laundry line, completely overladen with a week's worth of Hatfield and Paloma's clothing.

There I was frantically ripping clothing off the line, determined to get every last piece off before it was all soaked. Clothespins were flying through the air like grenades did in WWI, and I suddenly could hear slight chuckling.

My super duper 20/20 vision caught sight of my dear 82-year old neighbor, laughing at my laundry line antics in this early hour.

This new vision is doing nothing for my humility. I think I'm better off going back to the Mister's contacts. Sure, I'd still be laughed at, but at least it would be behind my blind-as-a-bat back.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

First Day of School

Wow! Here we are already at the (end of) the first day of school. Sorry for the blogging break. . . we packed our bags and spent a weekend up at the lake, enjoying every last drop of beautiful, sunny summer weather. Today the temps hit a humid 90, considered dreadfully hot here, which actually made it all the easier to sit inside the cool house and hit the books.

I don't think I could have hoped for a better first day. My planning panned out better than last year, and the kids and I moved from subject to subject with relative ease. Jimmy did a great job pumping up Paloma over the weekend for "school," and crazy Miss P. sat very nicely, proudly showing us her coloring, puzzle piecing, or books as she jumped right in alongside of us.

We are SO happy that we switched our math curriculum to Math-U-See The blocks were a huge hit with Atticus, Paloma and Hatfield. The Teach/Practice-until-you-get-it/Teach It Back To Teacher to Demonstrate Mastery system already has proved its value with Hatfield.

This afternoon, Hatfield worked on a series of problems, after I explained/demonstrated the problems to her. She worked through the first sheet with no errors. On the second sheet, I asked for her to explain to me what she was doing (Teaching the Teacher to Demonstrate Mastery.) Although she could correctly solve each problem, she had no idea WHAT she was doing. I explained again the concept, and then demonstrated for her with the first problem. It took two more pages before she had mastered the problem solving fully and could explain with ease EXACTLY what she was doing.

While watching her, it became very evident to me just how it was possible for her to breeze through first and second grade math with a 95-100% average, but never actually "Get" any of it. And why we spent a good part of last year frustrated that she always had to "re-learn" what we had worked on just two months earlier, although she got A's on that work as well. The work is set up so that it never deviates, and all the child has to do is simply learn how to fill in the correct blanks. The HOW and WHY we do it was never imparted upon the child.

Scary stuff, huh?

Well, thank god for Math-U-See because now I feel confident that we have a fighting chance at both getting math and loving it.

Beginning this school year, on the whole, was a tough thing for me. Why? Because, overly optimistic (aka stupid) me really really thought that our boys would be home and I would be teaching a class of FIVE. It took some time for me to be at peace with where we are, as awful as it sounds. Not that my three beloved children are some consolation prize; certainly, they are not. I just had such dreams of being one big family under our home school roof. It was hard for me to accept that this just wasn't going to happen. As soon as I did accept it, then I was able to freely jump right in, enthusiastically planning about our year for our Triple Threat here at home.

But what kind of Home School Mom am I, to post about our first day with nary a photo in sight? For shame, Mrs. C! I shall strive to put my best foot forward on all remaining school posts from here on out.