Saturday, February 28, 2009

4:31 p.m. on Friday

What were you doing at 4:31 pm on Friday?

Here's what we were doing,
evidenced by the photos I took
while attempting to learn
my new camera.
I owe Small Town Girl a
HUGE Thank You for her comment,
which got me off my duff and onto
buydig.com! Thank you,
Small Town Girl!

Atticus and Dominic were playing.

Paloma was chillaxing.

Who's with me on thinking that "Chillaxing" is
the most stupid word

out there in the blogger world?
I tried to use it so I could feel hip,
but to type it was like running my finger nails on a chalkboard.

I should get one of those sidebar blinkies.
CX: DUI!
Chillaxing: Don't Use It!


Hatfield was playing Artist Extraordinaire.


Her masterpiece!

I made whole wheat pizza dough for our pizza and calzone.

Atticus attempted a picture of moi making whole wheat pizza dough.

On the last Friday of every month, you will find the Mister here, finishing his inventory.


The Last Friday of Every Month=
Inventory=
1 Crabby Patty Mister (I still love you though, babe!)

Although my 4 Seasons Wine Box arrived at that moment,
which made it way easier for me
to deal with Mr. Crabby Patty.


But look! A short while later he was finished and back to his happy self!

And the girls were returning from their Cookie Delivery Mission.


What were you doing at 4:31 on Friday?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Morning in Review

As difficult as February '09 has been (discouraging adoption news, VomitFest '09, never-ending winter doldrums), it is ending on an upbeat note.

This morning we learned that a meeting about our files is scheduled at the USCIS for next Thursday. I don't expect much to instantly come out of the meeting (the USCIS is notorious for saying, "Thanks! You'll hear from us," without ever indicating a timeframe.) But, progress is progress. The people involved in the situation have been working nonstop on our behalf. We can't get the boys home without an initial meeting, after all.

I cannot begin to explain the sense of peace and confidence I feel in the midst of this situation. "Freeing" doesn't fully describe it. We are moving forward and proceeding with life as it should be. Our boys will be home, no doubt. We'll live life as we should in the meanwhile.

We're busting our tails in homeschool, cementing plans for a few family trips and diligently planning our garden beds. It's a good feeling.

Even more exciting, today Mr. Fed Ex guy (and we have a cute Fed Ex guy, too!) will be delivering my new camera today! Whoohoo! So while the Mister is out dominating on the volleyball court this evening, I'm going to be reading my new camera manual.

Because I actually read manuals.
Fully.
In detail.
With a hi-liter.

I'm a dork like that.

Right now, though, the kids are playing happily in the family room. Both Hattie and Atticus have friends over, because the public schools are off today. Paloma is at an age where she plays right in there with them, and I'm loving it!

So while the kids are playing, I'm making a batch of chocolate chip cookies for Mr. Earl across the street. The Mister was out of town all week, and Mr. Earl was my Driveway Hero this morning. He plowed his way over with his Snow Blower and cleared out our driveway for us. It was the first time he ever did that, and I am so thankful.

Of course, this all happened within moments of me telling--okay, complaining, to my friend Melanie about how, despite the fact that ALL of our neighbors have snow blowers, no one ever helps out when the Mister is out of town. They'll have their driveways cleared out in 5 minutes flat and wave to me on their way inside their cozy homes, while I'm out there by my lonesome shovelling all that snow with the Mister's broken snow shovel. Pay no mind to the fact that they are retired and have nothing to do, while I have a 3-year old banging on the storm door, crying because some injustice befell her while I was out there shoveling. Nope, in the past they'd just wave and race inside, lest they miss a whole 10 minutes of the Today Show.

So the cookies are my silent mea culpa.

And if I'm honest, the cookies are symbolic of my future hope that he'll be that kind again, the next time the Mister is out of town.

Honesty is not always pretty.
But in this case, it tastes pretty good.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Burning Question from a Mother Slowly Going Stir Crazy

If February is the shortest month of the year,
why does it feel so darn loooooooooooooong?

Does anyone else share my misery?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

There's no school like the home school

Maybe it's the fact that spring is around the corner, or maybe schools are beginning their annual Fall Enrollment push, but suddenly I am finding myself receiving numerous telephone calls and emails inquiring about home school. I love it!

We were very blessed to have several families help us with our decision to home school, so in an effort to "pay it forward," I'm going to share some of our answers to the most common home schooling questions.

Please note, however, that I am sharing my personal beliefs about the validity and effectiveness of home school. And that does involve comparing it to the other alternatives we have: mainstream school. And that these opinions are My opinions regarding My particular family, not Bob and his or Tina and her kids.

Is home school for everyone? Heck no! For a variety of reasons, it is not an option to some families, and that's perfectly okay! Education is important, and I believe that as long as you are a loving and dedicated and involved parent, you are serving your child well.

*When did you start home schooling?

When Hatfield began 3rd grade, and Atticus was still in pre-school (he was 5 and could have been kindy, but I don't believe in starting kids "early" in school.) Prior to home schooling, we had our children enrolled in: Montessori, Mary Linsmeier, public school, Catholic school, and Lutheran school. Some were great, one was okay and one was downright scary. So I feel comfortable (and qualified--we've been there, done that with it all) with comparing education philosophies.

* Why did you decide to home school?

When we decided to grow our family to 5 children, we realized that if we wanted to have a quality family life, we needed to reevaluate our school options. Did we really want to have children in 3 different schools someday (high school, middle school and elementary school), all in different parts of the city? That's a lot of chasing. Add in sports (we limit it to one at a time), music (a non-negotiable in our home), and church activities. Don't forget homework. When would there be any valuable family time? There wouldn't be. We'd be ships passing in the night, and for the Mister and I, this was unacceptable.

The more we researched home school (okay, I did the research and then took it to the Boss), the more I realized that THIS was the perfect answer to our school concerns. We love the fact that our children are home and are still family-led and not peer-led. We love that our children are able to converse with adults and people of all backgrounds. We can tailor each child's education to where they are. Nothing is rushed, and nothing is dragged out unnecessarily.

I will say this: it is a gift and privilege to teach your children. To watch their faces as they learn something knew, or struggle through a difficult concept, or make a connection for the first time. Just like first steps, the first time they say Mama, these are small wonders that you can never get back if you miss them.

*How did you decide what resources to use? There's so much out there!

The first year, we purchased a Sonlight curriculum. It's a full-curriculum, and you can tailor each child's math, reading and grammar to where they are skill-wise. This is so important to us because Hatfield can read on an 8th-9th grade level, with 7th grade comprehension. She would have been bored to tears with 3rd grade reading! But math wise, we needed to redo all of second grade math before we could get to 3rd. Atticus was not ready to begin reading, and I certainly was not going to push him to do so. But the kid "got" numbers and so we went to town there.

As we pushed through that first year, I continued my research of all the different types of home school curricula and programs out there. I soon swapped out the science and the math programs. I changed up History and added some stuff to it.

*Do you have your children "tested" with the public school kids?

No. And the reason why is that those tests have artificially low standards. And I don't want to "hold back" my kids by teaching to those low standards. I review the tests, am aware of what "skill levels" are appropriate per grade, and I have NO worries.

I believe that children are not an empty container. We cannot "dump" information into their brains with textbooks. The school systems are set up with a "Memorize/Test/Forget" learning system. Hatfield whizzed through 1st and 2nd grade math with 95+% averages. She would ace tests, and then she'd be in a puddle of tears a month later when the "Unit Review" came up because she knew nothing. NOTHING. So that's why we restarted math. I'd rather have her graduate with only Trig or Pre-Calc and not AP Calc as long as she has a SOLID foundation in the basics of math. Could we have continued on at "grade level?" Sure. But she would have a lifetime struggle with Math. Which leads to low self-esteem and a hatred of a fascinating subject matter. Not gonna do it.

Instead, we believe that children are sponges. Let them learn how to read, digest and assimilate information.

I learn so much from my own children. I didn't realize it until we began our home school journey, but as a nation, we really, really, truly dumb our kids down! They can comprehend SO MUCH MORE than we realize, if only given the chance! We impose these artificial ceilings by trying to get a classroom of kids on the same page, and then no one can take off and fly! So even if you do send your kids to school, read good books to them at home. Ask their opinions of things. Use big words around them and ask them if they know what it means. It's so easy to get lazy and just let it all slide, but please don't!

*What "style" home school are you?

We no longer use a "big box" program. They are wonderful, don't get me wrong. It just wasn't right for our particular family.

We operate under the Charlotte Mason school of thought. Charlotte Mason was an English educator in the 1800's. She believed education is a Discipline, an Atmosphere and a Life.

By “Atmosphere,” Charlotte meant the surroundings in which the child grows up. A child absorbs a lot from his home environment. Charlotte believed that atmosphere makes up one-third of a child’s education.

By “Discipline,” Charlotte meant the discipline of good habits — and specifically habits of character. Cultivating good habits in your child’s life make up another third of his education.

The other third of education, “Life,” applies to academics. Charlotte believed that we should give children living thoughts and ideas, not just dry facts. So all of her methods for teaching the various school subjects are built around that concept.

For example, Charlotte’s students used living books rather than dry textbooks. Living books are usually written in story form by one author who has a passion for the subject. A living book makes the subject “come alive.”

She taught spelling by using passages from great books that communicate great ideas rather than just a list of words.

She encouraged spending time outdoors, interacting with God’s creation firsthand and learning the living ways of nature.

To learn more, check out Amblesideonline.org or simplycharlottemason.com

*What does your day look like?

Our family operates on a schedule. I do best with one, and I firmly believe that children need structure to thrive. When they are secure in a stable environment, then they can spread their wings and really fly without having to worry about something shooting them out of the sky.

Here's our day:


7:15 am: Everyone up. Beds are made prior to coming downstairs.
7:30 am: Breakfast.
7:45 am: Hatfield showers.
8:00 am: The children dress and do Morning Chore Routine.
8:30-9:00 Piano practice for Hatfield
9:00 Morning Prayer, Bible Reading and Memory Verse (Paloma listens and participates.) The children must memorize 2 verses each week.

Between 9 and 11:30, we work on Copywork (this is handwriting, but taken from excerpts of wonderful literature showcasing wonderful ideas/thoughts.) Spelling (Hattie), Literature (Hattie), Reading (Atticus), Geography (both), History (both), Home Ec or Manners (both.) We may have an art lesson or play a game. When Atticus and I practice violin, Hattie plays with or reads to Paloma. We also have snack and do a read aloud. In nice weather we go outside at 11:30 to play until lunch at 12:15.

After lunch, Paloma rests. We then work on Math and Science.

We are usually done by 2. Then the rest of the day is for outside time and play.

Is it always this way? No! But the majority of the time, yes. It has become the natural rhythm of our daily life, and we're all comfortable with it.

We homeschool year round: 3 months on, 1 month off. The month off is for traveling. This May, we'll be driving out West to Seattle for 2 weeks. In September, we'll be driving down to Florida. I usually take half of December and half of January off, but that's for holidays (Cliff receives all the time between Christmas and NYD off, so it's nice to take advantage of that). In years ahead I'd like to rent a house on Guam every other year, and when the children are old enough, travel for missionary work.

*Do your kids fight? Do they drive you crazy?

Sure they do. But it's much less now that we home school. Because we are together so much, we "understand" each other a lot more. Sure, we get cranky and step on toes. But the Mister and I work very hard on promoting a "team" mentality.

Once I saw Maria Shriver on Oprah. O asked her about her closeknit family growing up. Maria, who has all brothers, said it was drilled in them: He is your brother (or she is your sister). You may not like each other at the moment, but you are to love one another. You are all you have, and someday Mom/Dad won't be here and you'll have each other. Love your brother! And she said that it was so effective and created a great bond.

So we take the same approach. I feel my kids are pretty respectful of one another. I don't tolerate name calling or physical pushing. But I let them sort out disagreements regarding sharing and play, because they need to learn to sort out those things for themselves.

My Mister is very respectful of me as the Home School Teacher. What I need, he will do, and do happily. He is always encouraging me to go out with friends. He doesn't freak out if I need time to myself.

We have an agreement not to make it a habit to come home from work and instantly demand "me" time. We're pretty in tune with each other and can sense when the other needs a break (and needs it now!) I've been known to line up a guys' dinner for the Mister or send him off to watch the fights if I think he's burning out. He'll call my mom to take me out for a margarita or send me to Jill's with a bottle of wine if he suspects my brain is turning to oatmeal. Neither of us want to get in the habit of coming in the door and needing to turn on the computer, the Atari, or the tv. We make an effort to "unite" as a married couple; I pour him a drink and set the table while he changes, and then we have dinner as a family (actually, just like my parents when I was growing up.) That way, the kids know how important the Mister and I are to one another, and how important, loved and respected they are by us.

Overall, I would say our family is very close. I like being with my husband. I like being with my kids. And they with me. Home school is such an incredible gift and privilege. We have been blessed immensely by this journey. I wish that more families would be open to it, because it is wonderful and precious (even on the bad days. And there are bad days!)

I believe that, while it is important for us to behave outside of our home, God judges greatly on how we act behind closed doors. Are your spouse and your children your top priority? Do you pay more attention to tv, the internet, or video games? Do you yell or belittle? When you become out of balance, do you work at reinstilling it in your home? Do your children and spouse feel loved? Do they feel respected? Those are things I constantly think about and try to improve on daily.

Let me make sure that I make myself perfectly clear here when I say that both the Mister and I feel that it has been THE BEST decision we have ever made as a married couple and a family. If you feel this is on your heart and in your mind, we strongly encourage you to consider it. It's a huge step outside one's comfort zone, but the rewards are incredible.


Monday, February 23, 2009

500th Post!

As I logged onto 5FC, I was stunned to realize that this would be my 500th post! Who knew I was so self-absorbed I could actually think of over 500 things I felt others just must know about moi?

I started my blog to chronicle our lives, for the sake of ourselves and our out-of-state family. I'm not certain that any long distance family reads it, but it sure has been wonderful befriending so many of you who do! Throw in our struggles through an international adoption and family crises, add on top of that decimated vacuum cleaners, rat-bastard squirrels and occasional tirades against local tv stations, and there you have it: the life and times of the 5 Frozen Chamorros.

Where are we today? Well, if I had a camera, these are some of the things you would see chronicled from the past week:

- The trillion loads of laundry still piled up in front of the washing machine, courtesy of VomitFest '09.

- Our Hattie competing in a Piano Federation where she played a grand piano in a huge, majestic, old stone church sanctuary.

- Atticus rocking an incredible Justin Timberlake impression while dancing to Beyonce's Single Ladies. Because after all, what lady doesn't want a good looking guy who can throw down some fresh moves?

- Paloma asleep on the floor of the cold and creepy basement closet, next to a lit up flashlight, because some children forgot they were playing Hide and Seek while in the middle of the game.

- The Mrs. running around the house, screaming and frantic, because Paloma is NOWHERE to be found and visions of a sock-less child running down snow-covered streets in 5 degree temps race through her Mommy Brain. (Don't worry, we found her in the closet.)

- The 3 dismantled bathroom drains, courtesy of the Mister. He went to unclog ONE sink. Two hours later, add 2 more in as collateral damage. Soon to come: a Plumbing Contract for the man.

- The puppy eating play-dough and saying, "Yo quiero Taco Bell." (Well, not really, but together with the Mrs., they make a damn good ventriloquist team.)

Boy, I bet you're all REALLY wishing I had a camera!

So what's to come in the next 500 posts? Hopefully 2 new little boys. Maybe another kid or two? But no more dogs! A couple road trips. A bigger garden. Oh, and a post celebrating the Mister's decision to become a vegan!

Just kidding on that last one.

But you already knew that, didn't you?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

His/Hers

The Mister and I, being from two different and distinct cultures, love to poke fun (lovingly!) at one another. We howled over these two lists.

Enjoy a little weekend laugh at our expense!

HIS
You Know You're a Chamorro If:

*You actually understand the chant, 'Duk-duuk-duuk-duuk-duk...'
*Your remedy far a bee sting is to.. "Pee" on it!"
*You borrow a person's pots & pans for a party & return it 3 months later....
*You take off you're gold jewelry when lightening starts to flash
*You go to Happy Hour and get into a fight...
*You fly to Saipan to find out what it's like to be a "Tourist"....
*Your only form of exercise is to run from your air-conditioned car to your air-conditioned office or home...
*You wake up during a rosary when you hear Ma'ase, Ma'ase,Ma'ase...
*You refuse an offering 3 times before accepting---example: "Here, take some food home.."(No, thanks).."Come on, don't be ashamed"..(No really).."You want me to wrap it for you?"..(No, I'm serious)... "Stop being silly"...(Okay then)...
*
You never take the last piece of food on the serving tray..
*You give up drinking and smoking for Lent, then you start back up..
*Your grocery shopping is done at the Base Commissary and you...don't even have Base Privilege
* You're partner smiles at someone of the opposite sex and you automatically accuse them of fooling around...
*You profess your love for someone to the rest of the world by calling up the radio station and dedicate a song...(ahem, Mister!!!)
*You call the kids in at 6pm because the night air is bad for them...
*You're saying goodbye to someone because you're leaving their party and you're still there 15-minutes later...
*The "Golden Egg" you use for the Easter Egg Hunt is the container from your pair of pantyhose..
*You eat the Colonel's spicy chicken with finadene....
*
The majority of you're "Bahaki" wear is from free t-shirt giveaways..
*You get confused filling out an application when it asks for your marital status because you're ina common-law relationship..
*You wish the medicines nowadays tasted as good as the St. Joseph aspirin you took as a kid...
*You don't go to sleep with your hair wet because you might get "lockjaw"...
*You don't register to vote because your'e scared to be called for Jury Duty...
*You use SPAM as a main course...
*You wear a T-Shirt to go swimming at the beach..
*You're at the beach and when it starts to rain you all get out of the water....
*You can fit your family of 5 into the front of your Pickup truck...
*You use your whole Pay-Check for a small B-B-Que..
*Your mom has an outside kitchen...
*You ask for the fat on the Roast Pig...
*You ask for catsup instead of ketchup...
*And finally...you know if you're a chamorro if... You ask for Ketchup and get Soy Sauce !!!!

Hers:
You Know You're From Wisconsin When:

*The town you grew up in had a bar called Ma's Place.
*You know how to polka, but never tried it sober.
*You know what knee-high by the Fourth of July means.
*You know it's traditional for the bride and groom to go bar hopping between the ceremony and the reception.
*You know that there is no "r" in Wausau.
*You were delighted to get a miniature snow shovel for your 3rd birthday.
*You can recognize someone from Illinois by their driving.
*You buy Christmas presents at Fleet Farm.
*You are a connoisseur of cheese curds and find anyone unfamiliar with them to be frighteningly foreign.
*You get irritated at sports announcers that pronounce it "Wes-con-sin."
*You own at least one cheese head.
*You spent more on beer than you did on food at your wedding.
*You know that Kaukauna is NOT an Hawaiian Island.
*You hear someone use the word "oof-dah" and you don't immediately break into uncontrollable laughter.
*You or someone you know was a "Dairy Princess" at a county fair or a Miss Action in Jackson.
*You know that "combine" is a noun.
*You know what a FIB is.
*You know that pasties are not articles of clothing.
*You let your older siblings talk you into putting your tongue on a steel post in the middle of winter.
*You think Lutheran and Catholic are THE major religions.
*You know that creek rhymes with pick.
*Your class took a field trip to a brewery...in second grade, Borden's in third and the cheese factory in fourth.
*Football schedules are checked before wedding dates are set.
*You can visit Luxemburg, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Berlin, and Poland all in one afternoon.
*You have driven your car on a lake.
*You can make sense out of the word "upnort" and "batree."
*The Packers will always be better than the Vikings, no matter what the standings are.
*You know that De Pere is not a wooden structure extending into "Da Lake."
*You can leave your ice cream in the car while you go into Fleet Farm, and it won't melt.
*You always believed that vacation meant "going up North."
*At every wedding you have been to, you've had to dance the hokey poky & the chicken dance.
*You know what a bubbler is.
*Your definition of a small town is one that only has one bar.
*Your local gas station sells live bait.
*At least twice a year, the kitchen doubles as a meat processing plant.
*You laugh aloud every time you see a news report about a blizzard shutting down the entire east coast.
*Your mom asks, "Were you born in a barn?" and you know exactly what she means.
*Your s*xy lingerie is tube socks and a flannel nightgown.
*You are a member of the Polar Bear Club and proud of it.
*You think that the start of deer season is a national holiday.
*You learned to drive a tractor before the training wheels were off your bike.
*Pop is not only what you call your dad, but is the ONLY name for soda.



Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Encouragement

I love listening to Joyce Meyer each day. I like her upfront attitude. She calls people on their actions and attitudes, herself included. She doesn't mince words, and she certainly tells it like it is. Very rare are the times where I don't have at least one lightbulb moment while listening to her podcasts.

This morning, I've been listening to Day 5 of the series, "Don't Complain!" The effect her words have had on me this past week has been profound.

This parable, which she used this morning, clocked me right in the head:

Your son comes up to you on Tuesday morning. "Mom, my shoes are too small and have a hole in them. Will you please get me new shoes?"

"All right, son," you say, "I'll take you shopping Saturday morning for new shoes."

Two hours later, he asks again. You remind him again, on Saturday.

Wednesday morning. Wednesday afternoon, Wednesday evening, Thursday morning. Again and again your son asks.

Friday morning comes, "Mom, my feet are cold and are on the ground and really cold and I wanna know when we're getting my shoes."

"Son! I'm working on it! I've got a plan, and I'm working on it. We'll get them Saturday morning!" you say in frustration.

"But come on! I don't understand why I don't already have my new shoes yet."

Instead of complaining about it, we should be giving thanks to God that Saturday is coming! What good does griping do over and over again? Or asking over and over again like a petulant child? He knows our hearts. He knows our minds.

Complaining will weaken us, but praising will strengthen us. Focusing on the negative only invites more negative. Focusing on the positive will raise our spirits and allow us to grow strong. When we ask God for something, He is faithful and is working on our behalf. We may not see it, but we must believe it.

What God call us to do, He equips us to do.

Whatever kind of situation He puts you in,
He gives us the grace and ability to do it with a good attitude.

If you are trying to fix something that isn't your job, then you are not standing in line for a miracle. I'm finally beginning to have a grasp on the often thrown-around phrase, "Let Go and Let God."

Why wouldn't I believe that God will be faithful in the promise to bring our boys home? He has always been faithful to me in the past. I have been in some very tough and painful spots in the past 18 months. Situations which I thought which no good could come from. Situations where at times, I was certain I was alone in my agony and my pleas were falling on deaf ears.

But you know what? God saw me through. He took what was damaged and broken and made it Stronger and More Resilient and More Beautiful than I could EVER imagine.

There have been victories in the past.
And victory is surely to come.
Our Saturday is coming.
Praise God.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hattie cracked the code!

Our Miss Paloma is
one
picky
eater.

Here is her reaction to most meals:

'Picky' alone is troublesome. But she's picky with a small appetite, which is even more troubling to us. She's a teeny tiny thing who could quite happily go without food for long stretches of time. It worries me; it absolutely freaks the daylights out of our food-happy Mister.

Mealtimes are a struggle with Paloma. Often times, you'll find the Mister or I following her about the house with a spoonful of food, hoping to sneak it into her mouth so maybe something will stick to her ribs.

You know, the stuff
the parenting books
tell you to
NEVER
EVER
EVER
do!

But I'm willing to bet that those authors never had a Paloma.

But yesterday and today so far, Paloma ate like a champ.

How did we do it?

We didn't; Hatfield and her incredible imagination did!

Hattie went ahead and named Paloma's food.
At last night's dinner,
the brown rice was Cody;
the fish Bob;
the petite corn Larry.

Paloma had a field day gobbling it up. ALL up.

Thank you, Hatfield, for your divine ability to think outside the box!

This is not it

This isn't the big change that I promised you, folks. I just couldn't handle my other background anymore. I loved the pink, white and green it because it reminded me of the wallpaper in my grandparent's bathroom when I was a little girl. But I was only in my grandparent's home for maybe 6 hours each year. Little did I know that I would soon grow tired of being greeted by those splashy white flowers.

Have I ever shared with you that I am in love with and fascinated by old wallpaper? I am. When we lived in Milwaukee, nearly every house we looked at had some awesome 60's wallpaper somewhere in the house. The Mister would look at it and say, "Ugh. That's a lot of work to get that stuff off."

I would say, "I LOVE it! No one's touching it!"

But of course, we bought the house with the early 80's wallpaper (think mauve, powder blue, peach.)

The poor Mister's prediction came true.

It was a LOT of work to get that stuff off.

Fortunately, blog wallpaper is much easier to put up and take down!

The big change is imminent.

The holdup? Me. My indecisiveness. Because as easy as it is to put up and take down the free stuff, the wallpaper you pay mucho dinero would be very painful to remove.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sunshine Daydreams

Today is my first day out of bed, and I'm looking out our front window at a whirl of flurries adding to our already generous new blanket of snow.

It's painful to look at.

While in recuperating in bed, I drooled over all my seed catalogs. I read Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (read it!). I winced through alarming news articles and sighed over the gardening tales of my down South blogging buddies, who have already begun gardening.

And I realized that in addition to the stomach flu, I caught it:

Cabin Fever.

Which makes me:

Stir Crazy.

Heck, scrap "Crazy" and try "Insane."

I'm of the personal belief that you only get ONE and ONLY ONE season to complain about. I can't stand the people moping about snow only to turn around and whine about the humidity 7 months later. So let's all limit it to one and make this all the more enjoyable for those around us, shall we?

I limit mine to "late" winter. I LOVE early winter. I LOVE holiday snows. I LOVE declaring our schools "Snow Day" on the first day of good snow.

But that love stops after my birthday.

I love Spring. The melting and thawing. The little buds peeking out of their winter's hibernation.

I want my Spring to be in February. Not May.

So I while I was in bed, I came up with some Possible Life Plans (PLPs). Of course, the PLP's have to be within the realm of reality (i.e., things we can afford. A castle on the Thames isn't a PLP in this case.)

Like maybe we should move to Yelm, Washington.



We could buy this house on acreage. We could garden and homeschool and be a short drive to the ocean, a wee bit longer drive to Seattle.

Sounds good, no?

Or we could move on down to North Carolina, by my friend Megan and her family. Look what we could have in their neck of the woods!

On 2.9 acres too, no less. The mountains, the ocean, warm weather, longer growing season. Plus the Y's outdoor pool was like a water park. And the parks there are incredible.

Ahhhhhh.

The Mister has himself a mighty fine job here. So moving is out of the question. So being the ever-persistent problem solver that I am, I realized that the children and

I could relocate here and rent this house

for the late winter months.

On Guam. I couldn't afford the house, but we could rent it for 2 months. We could learn all about the children's heritage while soaking up the sunshine.

Seriously though, I'm really going insane. How many times can one woman clean toilets in 9 day period before she loses her mind? I think I'm on the brink.

So, Miss North Carolina Megan, if I'm still without 2 little boys come April 1, air out the Guest Suite. Because the kids and I are packing up the van and heading your way until the Great Thaw begins up here. I'll clean your house and cook for room and board. Deal?

Monday, February 16, 2009


I am sick.

Still.

I feel horrible and can't figure out why I just can't feel better.

But all this time lying about in bed leaves me a great deal of time to reflect.

I am a lucky, lucky girl because I'm married to the Mister.
I love my Mister because when I am sick, he always steps up and never complains.
I wouldn't blame him for complaining. Not one little bit. After all, look at the guy! He has a wife who is lying in bed, smelling like a barf bag.

He has to run after after a puppy who struggles with the concept of being housebroken when it's colder than 32 degrees outside.

And he has to deal with the aftermath of 3 children who spent all last week sick and whose mother became sick before any sort of household normalcy was reinstated.

Yesterday, while I was lying in bed and puking, he made the kids a super yummy and balanced dinner. Even though we had ramen in the house. Because he knows how important it is to me that the kids have good dinners.

Today, he did ALL the homeschool. With ALL the kids. Every hour or so, someone would come running up the stairs to proudly display their work or to share something 'cool' that Daddy taught them.
And in between all that school, he took it upon himself to help me out by washing all the boys' room bedding. And guess who found a "hidden" pile of dried out vomit in the sheets?


After all,
if you were a 6-year old boy
who threw up in the night,
and were really, really tired,
would you trek ALL the way to mom's room
when you can just hop in the empty bunk below yours?

I could hear my poor Mister run, gagging all the way to the bathroom after that discovery! But, the brave fellow still took all those nasty sheets and washed them up.

He also took both girls in for their haircuts this afternoon. They came home grinning ear to ear with their shiny, bouncy hair.

He gave the younger children a bath this evening, without me asking.

And when Paloma was all done with her bath, the Mister got out the hair dryer and plugged it in by Paloma's bedroom vanity. Then he brushed and dried Miss P's hair, just like lady did at the beauty salon.

Thank you, Mister, for all of your love and help the past two days.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

And VomitFest '09 Continues. . .

On Monday, Hattie wandered into our room at 4:30 am saying she thought she was going to throw up.

Which she promptly did.

On Tuesday morning, Cliff was holding Paloma in our kitchen. "My belly hurts," our little peanut lamented. I locked eyes with my Mister and before we could even telepathically communicate, "Do we have time to race her to the bathroom, or shall the garbage can suffice?" Paloma let out a huge "Brraaaaccck," and projectile vomited over the entire kitchen.

On Friday morning at 1 a.m., Atticus sauntered into our bedroom. "I think I threw up," he said. The Mister sleepwalked his way to Atticus' room to check on any possible vomitage.

"So did he?" I asked the Mister when he returned to the room.

A blank look greeted me: "Did he what?" Followed by instant snoring.

At 1:05 am, Atticus was paying homage to the porcelain god. Poor baby boy.

At 6:30 am, I discovered the vomitage in Atticus' room which our Sleepwalking Vomit Inspector failed to find.

By 2 a.m. this morning, it was MY turn.

4 down, 1 to go.

VomitFest '09.
Fun, fun and more fun.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Name's Toledo. . .Jose Toledo

Brrriiiiinnnngggg!

If your phone rings and your honey announces,
after looking at caller ID,

"Babe, who the heck is Jose Toledo?"

"Jose Toledo?" you say puzzled.

"Jose Toledo," they confirm.

Don't worry!
Take the call!

Because it's just little ol' me
Calling from my Celly Telly

Jose Toledo
is my
Caller ID
Secret Identity.

I'm willing to bet
you're all jealous
that you don't have a
super COOL
super HOT
super Mysterious
Caller ID
Secret Identity!

I know I would be jealous.
(Secretly, I'm hoping I don't have an identity crisis!)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In a Holding Pattern

Well, after a tense and tearful past 24 hours, it now looks like we are going to be in a "No News" holding pattern until sometime next week, at the earliest.

Any circumstance where an adoption time line drags out even further is unfortunate, but in our particular situation, I'm at peace with it. I won't go into details except to say that the case is serious enough where I certainly don't want anyone going in to assist us unless every 't' is crossed and every 'i' is dotted.

If time is needed to properly prepare a response to the USCIS, then that is time I will gladly allot. I worked far too long as a paralegal to know that half-assed responses or incomplete documents will get you nowhere, fast.

And 'nowhere' in adoption is not a place we want to be.

So, I can at least take a breath now. I've had a chance to think about the situation. While we have no idea what USCIS will do, we have a range of scenarios that I can prepare for.

I'm trying to stay positive. To focus on what is in front of us. To remember that I must let God do His job, and that I must do My job.

In a quiet moment yetserday, I remembered a prayer that was posted on our agency's Yahoo group. It was posted a year ago on Valentine's Day (which, coincidentally, was the first anniversary of our commitment to Keenan and Miles).

The prayer made a huge impact then. Obviously, if I could remember much of it verbatim a full year later.

This time, when I went back to it, made even a huger impact. I will repost it here in a moment, but suddenly, I was overcome with gratitude at these thoughts:

God CHOSE our family (and all the adopting families)
because he feels we ARE WORTHY to adopt His children.
He KNOWS we are CAPABLE and STRONG enough to WITHSTAND such battles.
He is allowing us to GROW in our FAITH and INTERNAL SPIRIT
in a manner that is HUGE and AMAZING.
What an incredible gift, on all accounts!

I've always been one to look at the battles other people are going through in their lives, and fully believe that God hears their prayers and could perform miracles for them. Yet, in my own life, I've always felt that I was somehow unworthy of God's love and blessings.

Remembering this prayer was certainly a lightbulb moment for me. God LOVES me---and all of brave, adopting folks--enough to want to work these big things in us. He knows I can handle what is being thrown at me. And I don't want to disappoint Him! If He knows I can handle it, then I can persevere through whatever Satan throws our way. If God loves me enough to entrust me with the most precious of His lambs, then I certainly know that it is in me. I can do this through Him. With His help. With His love.

Well, enough of my babbling. Here is the wonderful prayer I have been writing about:

"Maybe, just maybe, the angle from which we have viewed this trial happens to be the angle of the enemy instead of God's perspective. Maybe God is taking us deeper, deeper into trust and abandonment to Him. Maybe satan wants to discourage you and your families because
he sees an army of saints coming into his domain. Maybe he wants to discourage you before the war has even begun. Instead of questioning God's calling to work in and to adopt from Haiti, maybe we should praise God that He has found us worthy to endure and combat a spiritual warfare in this land enchained by darkness. Perhaps it is a blessing, God has seen that you and these families are fit for the battle. Satan knows this and is waging a violent assault to discourage us from continuing this battle.

Today, lets change our prayer. Father, we thank you for all that you are doing through the people, situations, and circumstances that are beyond our control. Father we thank you that Satan's mountains are only made of smoke. And today, Lord, we cry out to you to move
the heavenly forces on our behalf and release these children from the clutch and grasp of the enemy so that they may come home. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, we bind the demonic forces of darkness, confusion, chaos, inefficiency, pride, and laziness that
has brought the Haitian adoption process to a halt. Where there is darkness, we call upon Your light oh God. Where there is confusion, we pray for Your Divine Spirit of clarity, wisdom, and knowledge.

Father break these chains of darkness Lord. We don't have the power in and of ourselves but You have said that when Your people call upon Your name You will hear them and answer their prayers. In place of the chaos in this Haitian adoption system we call for Your
peace and organization. Where there is inefficiency we pray for Your spirit of efficiency. Where there is pride and arrogance among the officials we pray for You to soften their hearts and Your
humility to fall upon them. Where there is laziness to pray for your strength in Jesus name.

Father, most of all we want to thank you. Thank you that You have seen our families as fit to conquer these demonic forces through surrender, prayer and trust in You. Thank you that this is where You have placed us today for Your purpose and plan that is far greater than anything we could imagine. Father I thank you that You see beyond our desire for a trouble-free life, You see the internal construction of our spirit taking place. We surrender to Your plans
and Your timing.

Thank you Father."

I couldn't say how many times I've read this over today. I find that I'm drawing an incredible amount of strength and peace from those words. Maybe some of my adopting friends out there will as well.

Thank you so much for all our your prayers yesterday. We are so grateful to every one of you who take the time to put in a word for our little guys.

Many blessings to you all,
Sarah

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Exhausted

We received an email today
from USCIS,
which did not bring
good tidings
or
the news
we wanted to hear.

Instead,
it was like a
left hook
out of nowhere
and
it has left us
rather concerned,
to say the least.

And I'm worn out.

Our boys

could
really,

really,
REALLY
use your prayers right now.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Weekly Mess

I bet you all thought I was talking about adoption,
didn't you?

But Notify the Presses!
Sound the Alarms!
Because I'm not.

I'm talking coffee today, folks!

Confession:
I am coffee-maker challeneged.

At least once a week, I make a huge nasty coffee mess.

This morning, I forgot to put the filter cone in. Oops!

My mess looked similar to this one,

except mine had WAY MORE coffee grinds in the mess.

Atticus walked up to the fridge, saw the coffee pot spewing black ooze everywhere, and cried out,

"Mom, it's a doozie this time!!!"

So all the children came running to the coffee station to see what type of mess Mom made. Hattie looked disdained. "That's not a doozie!" she huffed. "Don't you remember Christmas morning?"

"Oh yeah! I forgot!" Atticus cried, "Now THAT was a doozie."

Kids!
They always seem much more charming
when these conversations
are at the expense
of someone else.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Foxtrotting Right Outta My Comfort Zone

Tonight, my Mister and I are going out dancing.

For a Lesson, followed by an Open Dance.

My Mister is a very good dancer.

He has ALWAYS wanted to take couples dance class,
ever since we were first married.

No one really knows where I fall on the Dancing Talent Spectrum.

I was kinda okay living life without knowing!

But this is a New Year.

And I am going to start toe-tapping my way outta my Comfort Zone this New Year.

Tonight, I'm truly hoping that I don't find out my feet were both lefties after all.

Wish me (and my feet) lots of luck!

Friday, February 06, 2009

A New Adoption Detour


We are now on yet another detour on our adoption road. I am now saying "detour" because as I was talking with the Mister, I had a picture of a map appear in my head. Kind of like on those overly-simplified, cartoon maps (think Dora. I watch waaaayyy too much Dora!)

I'm no longer using the word 'roadblock' because we are not stuck. A roadblock denotes "end of journey." And we are not at the end. A detour just takes you off-course so you can move around all the junk. But we're still moving onward in our journey.

I received some bad news this morning. Basically, the United States' USCIS office is trying very hard to find a reason to deny our Visa's. Their chosen method is by creating a 3-ring circus of great proportion, What a bunch of _____ (fill in the blank. The Mister and I thought of some doozies this morning!)

But guess what?
It Ain't Gonna Happen.

What the devil may use to try and harm us,
our God will use for our good.

And we are quite confident that He has the situation covered.

Am I saddened? Yes. Do I feel grief? Yes. Am I mad? Darn right I am. I have a Mother's Heart. You keep my away from my precious children and I'm gonna feel mad, sad and grieved.

But, I can do no more. I am not going to frustrate myself trying to do God's job. And he's made it quite clear that it is His job to bring my babies home. And I know what His job for me is: to be Mama to my babies at home, to be the Mrs. to my Mister, to teach my children and create a loving home.

So that's just what I'm going to do.

Is it easy? No! But honestly, I'm at the point where all I can do is lean in and fall under the cover of His protection. To live in His light. To hold fast to His promises.

I am Tired.
I am Weary.
I am Grateful and
I Praise God for His protection.

This morning, I am asking anyone who is willing to, to pray for us. I know that God has His light covering our situation, but each prayer offered helps that light to grow a little stronger and brighter.

Detours always bring you to your destination.
That is why they exist.
To bring you home.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A Message of Hope and Encouragement

Typically, I have not been a blogger who posts a great deal about my faith. I have here and there, but not very often. If I'm honest it is because I'm uncomfortable in sharing something that is both so very personal, but also so potentially polarizing. I don't like confrontation, and, honestly, I'm not seeking it when I choose to post my feelings on a matter.

Lately though, I guess I grew a pair of spiritual cojones, and today I'm going to share something. I read many blogs by people of a wide variety of faith and spiritual backgrounds. I always have enjoyed reading when other people share their beliefs, so why not share mine?

I will make this blanket statement. I am a Christian. I am also very liberal on the political spectrum. If you are not either of these things, please don't feel that I am here to judge anyone on their beliefs. Last time I checked, my God didn't mince any words when he instructed me to not judge others, to love one another in brotherly love, and to do onto others as I would have done unto me. I take all of that stuff pretty seriously, and I'm not about cast that first stone.

I shared this post on my adoption agency Yahoo group at the request of a good friend. Many have shared that it has given them comfort as well.

In addition to our fellow agency families, I belong to a large group of us adopting families out there who have been waiting a VERY, VERY LONG time. An agonizing time. And there are families out there who haven't been waiting quite as long (but really, it's all long, no matter where you are!), but yet still struggle with the grief and pain. So I wanted to share that with them.

So, all that being said, I will go on with my post :)

(To give a bit of background, our files exited MOI on July 3rd of last year. Since then, it's been a living nightmare of sorts. Since December we have been waiting on USCIS approval so we can get Visas, but our files have just been sitting. Very disheartening.)

Last week was terrible for me. The grief I felt was nearly drowning me. I had been praying faithfully and I was wondering if God could even hear me. I cannot even describe the feeling as the grief and frustration was building to a level I never thought possible.

We went to Church on Sunday. At church we begin with Praise and Worship, I sometimes up to the altar and pray on bended knee. This praying usually involves a good cry ;)

On Sunday, after Praise and Worship, our Pastor called Cliff and I up to the front so they all could pray for us, which surprised us (pleasantly so!) We are Pentecostal Christians, so as such we believe in the 9 gifts of the Holy Spirit (speaking in tongues, interpretations, prophecy, healings, miracles, etc.) We have very wise and gifted Pastors in these gifts. He was about to begin praying when his wife, Pastor Sandy, took over the microphone and began speaking in the Spirit. She then interpreted, and this was (some of) God's message for me:

"My daughter, I hear you. I know the grief and sorrow in your heart.
Like Hannah, I hear you. I hear you today because of the grief in
your heart. I know this has not come to pass in the way you would
have liked. But in the name of Jesus, I decree, this too shall pass.
Quickly. In the name of Jesus, this shall happen. This is not about
the two of you. This is about saving two little boys and bringing
them into the family and kingdom of God. This is about bringing them
home so they can be raised up knowing the love and word of God."

Pastor Dennis then began a prayer for us, but he eventually stopped and looked at us and said, "God is saying 'I have this covered. This entire situation is covered.' That is what he is saying to me over and over again this morning. 'This entire situation is covered.'"

While I was sitting, listening to the rest of service, I could suddenly hear God telling me, "Daughter, I have always been here. You could not hear me because your worry deafened your ear."

Later we came to find out that their daughter, who has long been gifted in interpretations, had received the same message. During fellowship afterwards, a young woman whom I never met came up to me. She said that while we all praying, she had a vision of a robed arm, throwing wide open and releasing a huge flock of angels. Those angels flew out, much like if you were releasing a huge flock of doves. The flew out and were going to a place with paper. The young woman did
not understand the paper part, but we have been praying for many weeks now that God descend angels upon the Consulate to help protect our files and move them through.

I cannot begin to explain the incredible Comfort I have felt since Sunday morning. Worry had deafened my ears to the messages the Lord was sending me. I listen to the Joyce Meyer radio show each and every morning, and this Monday she preached about frustration. As
Christians, she said, many of us have the tendency to focus on banishing the devil from this and that. But we can't fight the darkness ourselves. In order to overcome darkness, we have to turn on the Light. We have to put our prayers to God. We should not be praying to the devil to stay away. We should be praising God for his protection.

Listening to her, all 3 of the messages just culminated together and I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. I was given a game plan for how to handle the remainder of our wait. What a gift! I just needed to quiet the worry and paranoia so I could hear it.

Blessings to all of you and your families who share this same wait.
Love,
Sarah

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Big Changes

coming soon!

I'm not saying this to brag
or to promise huge wonderful things.
This has been on my To Do List for some time now.
And
if I decree a Public Proclamation,
then it is far more likely to happen!

After all,
if we are going to be a family of 7,
with 5 children,
my blog should reflect that,
right?

Monday, February 02, 2009

This is supposed to be relaxing. . .seriously?!?

Lest anyone should think that we actually keep all of our NY Resolutions, I thought I would share this.

In addition to my own early morning yoga sessions, I *thought* it would be great to transform the kids into adorable little yogis. Intense, focused, limber children. How cool would that be?

Here's a breakdown of a Child Yoga session at our home.

We get out the mats/towels.
* The children argue over who is assigned what.
* They begin to swap.
* Atticus begins to cry because someone won't swap with him but would the other.
* Mom's blood pressure raises 3 points. She declares a "freeze" on swapping. Whatever is under your feet is what you use, she announces.

We turn on the DVD.
* The children argue over what workout we should do on that particular day.
* Mom cannot find the friggin' list showing what workout was assigned on that particular day. Mom the dictator randomly chooses one.
* The children protest that we just did that one the day before.
* Mom chooses another while she feels her blood pressure raise another 3 points.

We begin our workout.
* Hatfield manages to place the soles of her feet on the back of her skull, balance on one leg with all remaining limbs starred out around her, and wonders aloud why Mom cannot do all the same moves. This is a children's yoga DVD, after all, she says. So parents should be able to do it.
* Atticus cries because he can't remember what is left and what is right. Hattie tells him it doesn't matter, when it's time to change, just switch to the other side. He is okay with that.
* Atticus cries because he doesn't remember what they told him to do. Mom tells him to watch the tv.
* Atticus falls into the fireplace because instead of focusing on balance, he was watching the tv like Mom told him to so he could see what he needed to do next. Mom made him fall.
* Paloma somehow turns every yoga move into a forward roll. She's like a bowling ball, and the rest of us in our yoga positions, the unfortunate pins. Paloma bowls a LOT of strikes.
* Paloma, bored with yoga (whoever said it increases concentration obviously did not have a 3-year old), begins to crawl under everyone when they are in Downward Dog. She says, in her high falsetto (think the Redrum! kid from The Shining), "I'm a tiny troll under the bridge!"
* Hattie begins to cry because Wanda ran over her hand and Trixie scratched her face, all while she was in the Cobra pose.
* Mom's bloodpressure spikes 10 points.

We conclude.
* Mom mentally calculates that she completely cancelled out any BP-lowering effects from her own early morning workout by attempting a Family Yoga Session.
* Mom takes out the DVD while listening to two crying children and one tiny troll.

Oh well, not every Resolution sticks. Good thing that there's always next year (or 2015!)

February is Dairy Conversion Month



This year, instead of having a huge, long list of New Year Resolutions, I decided to break it down into one resolution per month.

Last month, well, I don't think I ever posted about that. Last month was Yoga month, where I began an early-morning Yoga habit. I love yoga. The best way I can describe the incredible impact it made is this:

Think of your spine as a stack of those cute, wooden alphabet blocks. I had some for Atticus when he was a baby and Ernie ate every.last.one. Beagles aren't the brightest bulb in the canine kingdome.

Anyways, instead of having a nice, straight tower of blocks, my spine felt like a slowly curving, forward leaning hunch of a spine. My part-time seasonal desk job wasn't helping matters, either.

Yoga takes those blocks, stretches them out (making them taller) and restacks them, one directly above the other, in a nice, uniform line. You leave feeling about 2 inches taller and with a ballet dancer spine.

Addicting.

Anyway, more on the yoga later.

This month is Dairy Conversion Month. We eliminating all dairy products.

(warning: I feel a bit passionately about this subject, so soapbox ahead!)

Why? Simply put, we are not meant to drink milk. Milk is meant to grow a baby calf into a 300 pound adult in 6 months. Nothing more.

Would you want to pour breast milk in your cereal? Of course not! You may even be gagging at the thought!

Would you drink orangutan's milk? After all, they are closer to us as a species. But would you? No way, no day.

So why do we like to pretend we are baby cows? Baby cows have:
-4 stomachs (pop quiz: how many do we have?)
-9 feet of intestine (we have 27 ft)
-the biological need to double their weight in 47 days (no wonder we pack on so many pounds do to this "food group")

Should we eat a health, balanced diet of a variety of natural foods/grains, we would consume more than enough calcium.

The whole "we need milk in order to have strong bones" thing is a crock of BS that the government, in connection with the high-dollar dairy lobbyists concocted. Do the research. The whole dairy food/convenience food is a symbiotic, double-edged sword. Fill our bodies up with enough red meat, bleached foods and soda and we virtually eliminate any chance of absorbing any calcium you may have (but probably not) ingested via food. So enter milk and voila! You can get the calcium. But at what cost?

How about heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, kidney stones, allergies, nasal congestion? How about those bovine growth hormones? Yummy.

And if all that "logical" stuff isn't enough to convince someone to say adios to milk, then go for the gross-out factor. Ask if the dairy farmworkers clean all that cow pie off those udders every.single.time.they.milk.

Ewwww.

So milk is gone from our home. We switched over to a combination of soy milk, rice milk and almond milk. The kids like it all. I have a hard time with soy milk in my oatmeal, but find almond milk to be very delicious in it.

And I have to add that I am SO proud of my Mister for being 100% on board with this whole plan. That's a huge step for him (and one more thing to cross off on my evil scheme's plan to turn the Mister into a Vegan!)

But I don't expect it all to be easy. I am a bit worried about the cheese conversion. Okay, really worried. We're Cheeseheads, for goodness sake! But, I'll report our progress and give you my honest impression of alternate choices for cheese.

I'm hoping that we experience many of the promising benefits that countless others have received since becoming dairy-free: less allergies, no more nasal congestions, losing the 'puff' in our faces. I have no intention of putting Keenan and Miles on milk when they come home, so now seems like a very good time to switch the rest of us over before our little guys are home.

And did I mention that it's February?

And despite the fact that Punxsutawney Phil had many people groaning this morning about the rest of this month, I am feeling pretty darn good about February.

New month, renewed hope, renewed faith.