Thursday, April 30, 2009

May 1st

Did you know that the US Embassy in Port au Prince takes May 1st off for "Labor Day?"

It's true.

Lest anyone call us "Unpatriotic,"
we are going to hang up our

sign
and high-tail it
outta here for some Labor Day fun.

After all, it is our patriotic duty.

May 1st means that it is time to Re-Open

Camp 5FC for the 2009 season.

Say what you will,
but I heart doll house livin'!

While it will be too cold to do this


it will be a perfect time for some of this.


Happy May 1st Labor Day, Everyone!
Whoop it up and Celebrate Big!
After all, it's your Patriotic Duty!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Survival

Our Social Worker survived the
Eau de Skunk permeating our home.

I survived the home study.

The Mister survived the Missus' HUGE
Oh-My-Good-Lord-My-Home-Smells-Like-
Skunk-Right-Before-Our-Homestudy
Freak Out
(Thank You, Mister!)

Trixie survived her tomato juice bath.

My bed's stinky comforter survived being
left out of the laundry line overnight,
because I was too tired--
okay, too lazy--
to retrieve it in the dark.

Life is good.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Something Stinks Around Here

This morning we have our Homestudy Update appointment with our local adoption caseworker. Although this is the second update to the homestudy, I still get that sick, nervous knot of worry in my stomach while I obsess and insist that the house must be perfect.

So last night the Mister and I snuggle down in bed, exhausted. He shifted around the covers, put his arm around me and immediately, I got a whiff of something bad.

Really bad.

Like skunk bad.

So I started sniffing him.

Which I think he took offense to.

Don't you smell it? I said, nearly gagging.

I think he took offense to my near gags, too.

Maybe a dog got sick? he suggested, getting up to turn on the light.
He walked away, but the smell did not.

Suddenly, a little form worked its way out from underneath the covers.

And there she was,

our little french version of Pepe le Pew.

Sometime yesterday, there was quite the cacophony of noise outside when I had let the dogs out to do their business before retiring for the evening.

They probably are chasing a squirrel, I thought.

Au contraire, mon frere.
They had an encounter with a skunk.
The night before our homestudy update.

And now it's the day of our homestudy update.
And now my bedding smells like a skunk.
So does our carpet.
Hatfield's lower bunk.
Paloma's bed.
Paloma's carpet.
The family room couch.
The family room chair.
The front hall rug.

Eau de Skunk.
It stinks.
On many levels.
Lovely.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I nearly missed it

Last night, I was determined to go back to my old ways of 'early to bed, early to rise.' A long-time early bird, sometime over the winter I fell into the habit of waking up at 7ish. Mostly because Paloma was sleeping that late, and I felt I deserved it after her first 14 months of life when she would wake up in the 4 am hour. After those 14 months of seeing 4:10 on the clock each and every day, a 5:15 alarm wake up never seemed early to me

This morning I awoke at 6, easing back into this early morning habit. I could hear the wind outside before even hoisting myself out of bed. Looking out the window, I saw grey, puddled streets and a whole lot of blowing trees and shrubs.

Looks cold, I thought. Running in wind bites.

So, I turned around to jump back into my cozy bed.

But then I saw my Mister.
Sitting up in bed, with a dopey, dreamy smile on his face.
"I'm so proud of you," he gushed.
"You are an amazing woman to be so dedicated."


All I could think was,
What a sh*thead.
Now I have to go out there.
Damn.


But thank goodness for the Mister, because I was pleasantly surprised to find the temps at 58 degrees. The sun was peaking out as I hit the pavement. A balmy breeze cooled me perfectly. And at times, the clouds shimmered a pinkish hue. The birds sang and Joyce Meyers was on fire, pounding some truth and reassurances into my thick skull that I desperately needed to hear.

And I nearly missed it.
All of it.
Simply because I judged the world
from my window perch,

and not from my actual experience of it.

Which now has me wondering,
What else am I missing?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Good Lady, Gone

Today I am driving myself and my mother to the far southern reaches of our state to attend a wake for my great aunt (my mother's aunt) Virginia.

Every family should have an Aunt Virg. The woman had a zest for life, a love of people and made everyone feel special. My Aunt Virg had sparkling eyes. Enthusiasm and love radiated from her.

Most of my memories of my Aunt Virg are from my childhood.

My grandfather, his sister Virginia, and his brother Bill bought adjoining lake property up in the Great North Woods. Each built a cottage for their families to gather. Aunt Virg and Uncle Vic's cottage was just a stone's throw away.

My sister Stephanie and I would walk over to their cottage and she would seat us on kitchen stools and feed us salami cut into little bite-sized pieces, followed by vanilla ice cream for dessert. I have memories of her dancing, clapping and playing her harmonica.

Vic and Virg had 5 children. She loved them all unconditionally. She and my Uncle Vic raised those 5 children in a small ranch house with 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. My mother has many memories of going into their home, and finding my aunt on her couch, a cigarette in one hand, glass of wine in the other, listening to loud opera music. "Just a minute, Nanc," she would say, before my mom would go off to find a cousin, "you have to listen to this part."

Her 5 children took all different paths in life. They are all wonderful, good people who live life and tell it like it is. There is very little pretention among any of them, if at all. Virginia accepted all of her children unconditionally, no matter their life's path.

When my mother was having trouble with my younger brother, Aunt Virg emphatically told her, "He is your son, Nanc. You love him. You do not turn your back on him, no matter what people are telling you." Aunt Virg recognized that sometimes people do stupid things. But that didn't mean that the person was worthless. Everyone was valued and loved by her. If she ever judged anyone, she kept it inside and certainly did not let the judgment pass her lips.

My Aunt Virg lived life until the very end. When she needed extra care and went to live in an assisted living facility, she did not let her circumstances dampen her outlook on life. She loved to talk and visit with others. On her neighbor's birthdays, she would play her harmonica and sing Happy Birthday to them.

I feel so honored to be taking my mom to Aunt Virg's wake. My mom adores her 5 cousins, and it is so rare an occassion when they are all able to get together. To be able to do so, to be able to watch her reunite and enjoy herself, is a privelege for me.

And while today will be sad, it will also be impossible not to celebrate this amazing woman's life. The stories will be wonderful and funny, warm and plentiful.

Sometimes a person dies, and you have to search for something nice to say about them. Not Aunt Virg. We were all so lucky to have had this woman in our family. And she certainly would not want us to waste time mourning her loss.

Life is too short, she would say, her eyes sparkling.

In a time of my life where I often feel frustrated, or tempted to put my life on hold while we are enduring this wait, my Great Aunt Virginia is an excellent example.

Life is for living.
For harmonica playing.
For singing and dancing.
For sitting on a couch with a glass of wine in one hand,
listening to opera.

I can only hope that when I pass away, my children and grandchildren are able to talk about the light in my eyes. That they are able to say that I inspired them to live life to the fullest.

Thank you, Aunt Virg,
for the inspiration you have given
your entire family,
both close and far.
You blessed us so.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Have You (((Hugged))) a Tree Today?


Today is Earth Day.
I think it is pretty cool that we have a day for this.

Yet, it's a bit sad in the way that Mother's Day is kind of sad--why do we need a special day to remember our mom, when really it's something that should be done at least weekly, if not every day? The same goes for our good planet.

But in an effort to be positive, I'll say that it's a good start.

In honor of our Good Earth today,
I will not sit
and list
ALL
the things that are wrong with the Earth.
Or ALL the things that you should do to improve the Earth.

On Mother's Day,
would you list
ALL
the things wrong with your Mom?
Or ALL the things that should be done to improve your Mom?

I should think not!!!

Today,
I would like to a take a moment and reflect on the
beauty
majesty and
perfection
that God created in our dear planet.

Have you ever thought
--truly thought--
about the
Miracle of a Seed
?

To think that with a handful of seed,
earth and water,
you can feed yourself and your family.
That you need not a single convenience item.

That with a plot of land 10' x 60', $50-70 and some seeds,
you can grow over 300 pounds of food,
at a value of over $600?

How majestic is that?
God gave us EVERYTHING we need for our physical survival
in water and mere seeds and earth.

The wonder of that perfection brings tears to my eyes.

So today, enjoy the wonder!
Share the wonder with your children.
Teach them the wonder so that they may share it with generations to come.

And if you're not too embarrassed,
smell the dirt of the earth,
plant a seed or two,
maybe even sneakin a little tree ((hug))

It will do you good.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Letting Go

Yesterday I heard an update on J, the young woman who I mentored all last summer/fall while she lived in a group home for pregnant girls in our city.

J was 17 at the time. She had bounced in and out of foster care/relative care placements since she was 11. Grew up with her bipolar, schizophrenic mother during her first 10 years of life. The mother had severe anger issues and had pushed a man to his death on subway rails in NYC, prompting J's entrance into the endless rotation of foster families. As I grew to know J, it became evident that those anger issues were passed on to her as well.

J is a very smart girl, both academically and intellectually. She was a school track star and varsity wrestler. Quite the go-getter.

But J was also very smart like a fox. She instantly hated the group home. When she learned that she couldn't live with us until our adoption was complete, she then convinced her mother--now living on her own--to move to a larger apartment, and then concocted a plan to convince her social worker to give her mother primary placement of her once again.

Somehow, she pulled that off.

But, when leaving the placement hearing, she had a 21-year old Jamaican man "friend" pick her up and promptly move her back in with him. Into the apartment she was living in when she became pregnant. Leaving her mother to head back to a large empty apartment by herself on a Greyhound. This fellow had a small, one-bedroom apartment in the ghetto of Madison, but J insisted he's like a big brother and slept on the couch.

The Mister and I had expressed complete disapproval over this plan of hers. We tried to convince her to stick it out at the group home and get her diploma. She then could move into an independent-living apartment on the group home property and receive free daycare to go to community college. We would be there to help her, guide her, and create a support network for her.

But, 12 months was a prison sentence she could not bear. Not even for the promise of a better life.

12 months, honey? I said to her. You'll be a mother of a minor for 18 YEARS. Stick out the mere year to make the following 17 so much easier.

To her, I sounded just like Charlie Brown's teacher: "Mwah mwah mwah, mwah, mwah, mwah" rang through her deaf ears.

And our disapproval over the situation? When she realized that she could not convince us to enable her in this unhealthy lifestyle, we were dropped like a hot potato.

I had heard through the grapevine that she had her baby boy, whom she named Ace. Seriously, that's his first name. The baby had terrible jaundice and she was going back and forth from the hospital with him.

I kept waiting to hear from her, but I never did. I had promised her that I would always be here to listen. I know darn well she knew my phone number, and I always reminded her that we are listed. "Just whitepage.com us," I would tell her.

Instead, she would call the group home for updates, and try to get them to tell her our number. Which, by law, they can't do.

But that's just another example of her games. She knows how to get our number; she just wants to see if she can get other people to break the rules for her benefit.

The few times I was in Madison, I was worried sick about that baby, wondering where he was, how he was doing, etc. If J was in school, if there were still drugs in that apartment, if she picked up the baby each time he cried.

Yesterday, Jill had an update for me through her mentee. J is back in a different city living with her mom.

I was relieved, as crazy as that seems. I'd much rather have her living with her sedated, overly-medicated mentally ill mom than the gang banger, pizza palace worker 22-year old.

J's not in school. I'm hoping she got her diploma in December as she had planned. Not in school and not working, with no plans. Instead she's catching up with other girls who have since left the group home; girls who are prostituting and living with drug-dealer relatives.

Oh, and the baby's white. Completely white. DNA-tested and confirmed. Which is funny, because when she was telling me "in confidence" the father options, a white guy was never one of them. Apparently, she was really disappointed because she was hoping for a black baby, but she's over that now and besides, the baby is cute.

Good grief.

When you're 18, everything seems both overwhelming and forever. 30 is "forever" away. Going to school for 2 years takes "forever." The Mister is looking at MBA programs right now, which will probably take him 4 years to finish part-time. A drop in the bucket, timewise, for us. But to an uneducated 18 year old with no life skills? That takes way too long. They can't even imagine being 22.

I feel sad for J. I feel sad for baby Ace. I wish some way, somehow I could have conveyed to her that anything worth doing is going to be really difficult at times. But you get through it.

My baby brother is learning these lessons now, in his mid-20s. He feels overwhelmed and regretful and pessimistic. He feels like things really probably won't ever get better, because he can't project out his life on a timeline.

I spent so much of my late teens and early 20's feeling stupid and ashamed. I thought I would always feel that way. But that was a long time ago, and my suitcase isn't big enough to carry all of that around, so I let it go. My 30's arrived and I found my footing. Now when I make mistakes, I shrug my shoulders and say, best not to do that again.

I have spent the past few weeks feeling very irked and angry over the rude actions of people. On at least 4 occasions, I've been flabbergasted by rude, inconsiderate or hurtful actions and remarks. To the point where I felt like it's better to be a hermit in my own home than deal with rudeness every which way I turn.

But being a hermit is not really the answer, is it? My suitcase does not have the extra space to store all of my irritation. So, I'm working hard on dropping it. Letting it go. Life is too short for feeling stupid and ashamed, and so it is too short for irritation and anger as well.

I want to fill my suitcase with my husband and a house full of children. Full of loving family and friends. Full of pets. Full of memories of times at the lake and in the garden. Full of journeys and experiences and plain ol' living.

But, I really had hoped to have J and Baby Ace in my suitcase, too.

For now, that corner of my suitcase is glaringly empty. At this point, I don't know if they'll ever be in there. I don't know what to do. I can try and tell myself that she is an adult and makes her own choices and that at least I tried. That at least I took the time to tell her what she needed--and didn't want---to hear. But I still feel like I failed.

It's difficult. I learned to let go of my own feelings of anger, stupidity and shame.

But how do I learn to let go of them?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Road Trip '09

We found some May dates,
and marked it on the calendar:


5FC Family Road Trip '09

Destination:
Washington State Peninsula and Puget Sound Area

Mileage:
1979.17 miles (each way)

Time in Car:
29 hours, 1 minute (each way)

Adults:
2

Children:
3

Mode of Transportation:
One 2009 Toyota Camry

Wine:
2 cases
(1 bottle for the Mister, the rest for the Missus)


Suitcases:
Whatever fits around the cases of wine.

Sanity:
Questionable, at Best

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dirt Under My Fingernails

Today's forecast: 70 degrees and sunny. Yesterday was nearly the same.

We've been living outdoors in the backyard. Jimmy came over on Wednesday, and she and Hatfield re-seeded some very worn out areas of the backyard. I hauled 9 wheelbarrows of compost and mixed it into one vegetable garden bed.

Our bodies are sore as all get-out, there's dirt under our nails, but we are blissed-out.

Rhubarb, oregano, chives and strawberries are greening up nicely. Yesterday some spinach went into the garden. Today some another variety of spinach, plus mezclun and two varieties of beets will be added.

I'll put up pictures later. For now, we are off to the neighborhood garden center.

Happy Spring!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cha-Ching!

Yesterday afternoon, I listed something for the first time ever on Craig's List. I had been procrastinating doing so for several months now, but yesterday I got my act together and spent a whole ten minutes to do so.

And today, I made my first sale!

I sold this wall art:



for $40!!! The item originally cost $80 at Kirkland's, but I'm pretty sure I bought it for $35 or so during a clearance sale. It's a very pretty piece, but I'm trying to get rid of the 'department store' feel in my living room. It's just not me.

Not bad for ten minutes of work!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It's a Ruff Life

Poor Po is still down with some sort of bad GI upset.
In an unprecedented move,
she actually fell asleep mid-morning on the couch
(which is how I know she is really fighting this bug.
The child has a natural aversion to sleep.)

As such, Wanda and Trixie have taken it upon themselves
to pull a Double-Duty Baby Watching shift.

Working dogs have such a ruff life.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Only a Few Things are Really Important

Today is a sad day for me, as my Dad passed away 18 years ago today. I was 16 when he died. "18 years" is absolutely mind-boggling to me, as it seems both so long ago and just like yesterday.

This is the family my dad created.
I am so proud of all of us.
I think he would be too, if he were here.

Here is Paloma, hunting for eggs at 6:25 am Easter morning. Our fiesty girl would have held a very special place in my dad's heart, and I think she would have adored him.

Little Miss Diva was not about to place a dirty egg into her pristine Easter basket.

Mr. Atticus is always thinking a few steps ahead, planning his next moves. My dad would appreciate that. My dad was a brilliant man, and I do believe my wee lad received some of those genes (they must have skipped generations, or maybe it's only carried in the male genes, ha ha)

And Miss Hattie. As the first grandchild, I can only imagine how he would have doted upon her. I love my girl. A pre-teen, but still not embarrassed about being seen outdoors in her pj's at 6:30 in the morning.


We held Easter at my mom's this year. She held a lovely affair.

The 5 Frozen Chamorros:

His three children: Myself, my sister Stephanie and my brother Adam.

His three grandchildren:

My dad was the only son in his family. My brother is the only son in our family. And my Atticus is (so far) the only son (here) in my family. (My mom also only has one brother. And the Mister is the only son in his family. We have a strong female bloodline!)



In 1959, my mom was in Brownies/Girl Scouts, and her Mom was the Troup Leader. In their home's basement, on Wabash Street in Waukesha, Wisconsin, they made paper plate Easter Bonnets.

In keeping with that tradition, we girls had a ball making our own bonnets.


Even though I have lost my dad at a young age in my life,
I have been very blessed.

I'm one of the people on the planet who are lucky because they were born to incredible people.
I was blessed to have been his daughter.
My children are blessed to be raised hearing stories about their Grandpa Carl.
Through this tragic loss, I have become wiser.
I "get" some things,
things that I'm pretty certain I may not have,
had our family not gone through what we did.

Only a few things in life are really important.
-Marie Dressler

Indeed, only a few things are.

Thank you, Dad, for all that you have given all of us.
We love and miss you,
Your Family

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Chain Reaction

Tonight we had the first BBQ of the season with our dear, dear friends the Beau & Becky B. Bunch. We love these guys.

Here is a glimpse at our end-of-evening activities:

Paloma (age 3.5), Bella (6) and Hatfield (10) are in Hattie's room playing Barbie's. The Mommies plus baby Lilly are in the family room eating the awesome Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Brownies that Becky made. The Daddies are drinking Seven-6.5's because my Mister buys lower shelf pseudo-Seagrams.

Bella races downstairs, "Mrs. Cruz! Paloma just totally diarrhea'd in her clothes!"

I race upstairs to find Miss Paloma in the bathroom, in the said state as described by Miss Bella.

As I'm running the bath, Hattie comes racing upstairs into the bathroom.

"Mom! Bella's throwing up in the downstairs bathroom."

"Oh no! Is she sick?"

"No, the smell of Paloma's diarrhea made her throw up!"

I then race downstairs to find poor Bella looking mortified, Mr. B trying to soothe a sweet yet tired Lilly, the Mister doing clean-up, and Miss (Pregnant) Becky outside looking a shade green.

"Are you okay?" I ask Becky upon her return inside.

"Yes, it's just that I caught the first round of throw up in my hands, and then the smell of the throw-up made me nearly vomit."

So the thought of poor Bella's throw up being caught in poor Becky's hands made me nearly throw up.

See why I called this post Chain Reaction?

But all's well that ends well, as everything always is with the best of friends like the Beau and Becky Bunch.

Bella left feeling quite happy to be wearing Hattie's Pom and Dance t-shirt.

Pona got to show off cute jammies.

The boys, Micah and Atticus,
who wisely managed to stay completely away from the Bodily Fluid Jamboree,
made plans for their next Nerf Gun War.

And Miss Baby Lilly was the cutest thing you ever seen,
all wrapped up in a pink fleece Eeyore blanket.

We love you guys. We hope you are feeling better, Bella dear!

And Becky, I hope you didn't throw up
when having to take Bella's soiled clothing out of the Target bag.
Because I nearly threw up after loading all of Paloma's soiled clothing
into the washer.

A chain reaction, indeed!

Friday, April 10, 2009

I Love Easter

Easter is my favorite holiday.

I love Spring.
I love pinks and yellows.
I love bunnies.
I love Easter dresses
and Easter bonnets
and little purses.

I *heart* Easter.

And I truly heart this Easter, because the weather forecast is SO WONDERFUL that I think we might actually be able to have an outdoor Easter Egg hunt!

The kids and I were busy with Easter crafts this week.

How sweet are these little bird nests?

I love them. I have them lined up on my living room coffee table on top of a sweet yellow Easter tablecloth. It brings me such joy to see those little nests.

We also had a grand time making a huge paper mache mess when creating these Easter Egg dia-ramas.



Atticus made the green/purple egg, Hattie the green/yellow/blue and Paloma's is the pink/yellow.

The eggs are lined up on my kitchen table for all to take a little peeksie.


Paloma wanted to be in the picture too.
Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Summa Cum Laude

The past two weeks have been busy ones in our home school, as we have wrapped up several curricula and graduated to the next levels.

Atticus was very proud to have finished the Primer level in Math-U-See, which in my humble opinion, is one of the best math curricula on the planet. Plus, I felt all proper and English asking Atticus each morning to take out his math primer (that's prim-er, not prime-er like the paint.)

He has now begun the Alpha program, which is the next level up in Math-U-See. It is probably equivalent to First Grade Math in other programs. Atticus is in Kindy, so he's a bit ahead now, but really, he could be in First Grade as well.

Most of my children were 'cursed' with summer birthdays, where they could either be the oldest or the youngest. We purposefully enrolled our children as the oldest in their grades. While Hatfield was emotionally, cognitively, socially and academically ready to start Kindy at a young 5, we knew that come 4th and 5th grade, when girls began to make those emotional and physical leaps, it was best for her to be ahead of the curve and not behind it. What's wrong with letting kids be kids and not pushing them into premature maturity?

Atticus, on the other hand, was simply not ready for Kindy at age 5. Especially when you look at how ridiculous Kindy has become with the skill set those kids are expected to learn. Very, very different from my Kindy days. So it's no wonder so many kids fall behind by 2nd and 3rd grade--they were pushed into the 3 R's far too early.

If I had tried teaching Atticus to read last year, it would have been disastrous. It took him to age 5 1/2 before he had any interest in even writing letters and numbers.



This year however, Atticus was ready to read and raring to go! He completely rocked his reading curricula and is now a full-fledged graduate, and reading at the tested "2nd Grade Level," all the while in Kindy. See why it's important not to force kids to read before they are ready?

If I had tried it last year, he would have been so discouraged, and would likely feel a bad vibe about reading for the rest of his life. We waited until he was ready. It wasn't easy, because we received MANY disdainful comments about his not reading last year when all of his regular school Kindy friends were, and he was still in pre-K (I'm still amazed at how mean people can be, right to your own face.)

But look at him now! The lad is reading everything he can get his hands on. I'm so proud of him!


We lost a true friend when we finished our US/Canada/Great Lakes Geography series with the book Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling. Please parents, do yourself and your kids a HUGE favor and buy books by Holling C. Holling. They are beautiful and enjoyable to read, your children will not feel like it's school!

We would read about 2 chapters a week in this book. Many days my children would beg me to read just the next one, but I would refuse. I wanted to take our time with Paddle, so we could enjoy and soak in every last drop. With each chapter we would map out Paddle's journey. We would check out related books from the library, like about ore mining, Sault Saint Marie and Niagara Falls to name a few.

Alas, I will bashfully admit, I was all choked up when reading the last chapter. I look forward to the day when I can relive Paddles adventures with our 3 Youngest Musketeers.

Some days, homeschooling is really, really tough. But times like this, when you and your children can see and celebrate the progress that has been made, are so incredibly rewarding. These times draw you closer and strengthen the bond you have together.

And I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

9 Months Ago

Nine months ago, we got out of MOI.
NINE Months.



I saw this and found it very funny. Lately my sense of humor has returned, but I guess it's a bit left of center. I guess one needs a warped sense of humor at this rate anyway, if only to survive.

Laughter gives us distance.
It allows us to step back from an event,
deal with it and then move on.
~Bob Newhart

So many tangles in life are ultimately hopeless
that we have no appropriate sword
other than laughter.
~Gordon W. Allport



Laughter and tears are both responses
to frustration and exhaustion.
I myself prefer to laugh,
since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.
~Kurt Vonnegut


Man, when you lose your laugh
you lose your footing.
~Ken Kesey

Monday, April 06, 2009

Of Course Not!

So, our orphanage director, along with her attorney, along with the letter, along with the supporting documents, went to the USCIS building for their scheduled appointment this morning.

Did the meeting happen?

Of course not!

The USCIS director was out sick today.

Of course!

We wait 56 days for today,
only to have it fall through on the other end.

The good news is, all the paperwork was deposited.

We made the deadline.

The only bad thing about it is there no instant feedback. And if there were any questions for the attorney, he is no longer in Port au Prince.

Neither of those things mean the end of the world, however. The other good news is the USCIS will review it upon her return, and she works well with our agency, so we should hopefully hear from her, health willing, before the holiday.

You have to admit,
the entire situation is comical.

We are the poster children
for Murphy's Law
at play in international adoption.

And that SOB Murphy has one sick sense of humor.

Meet Reese, My Ever So Patient Waiting Buddy

Please meet my most patient friend, Reese:



This morning, I found out that our adoption meeting was being held this morning.

I did very well until 1:30 p.m. That was the time I had decided would be more than reasonable time to expect news.

Of course, that was really stupid of me, because that time came and went with nary a phone call or email.

So I called upon my good friend Reese. Patient, endearing and delectable. A great combo of traits for a friend, don't you think?

Sadly, Reese has lost a lot of weight these days. Down to a scant 1.1 oz from her previously voluptuous 10 oz.

Succumbing to societal pressure to be uber-thin, I suppose.

Somewhere in the house, I hear Reese's cousin, Easter Egg Reese's Cup, is visiting for the holidays. I hear the Mister "hid" her somewhere at Reese's request, because Reese wants my attention all for herself.

The Mister might be getting a phone call to put a stop to that nonsense once and for all.

Totally random side note:

I love Reese Peanut Butter Cup Easter Eggs. LOVE them. Which is why the Mister must hide them from me (at my request.) I love them so much and ate so darn many of them during my first pregnancy that I nearly named my newborn daughter Reese instead of Hatfield. So every time I hear of a child named Reese, I can't help but wonder.

Refreshed, Re-energized, and Ready

I'm back. Home sweet home after a wonderful weekend away.

I had a great time in Chicago. Thank you, Anne Marie! We had a fabulous time hanging out the entire weekend, both at her beautiful apartment and about town. We ate at wonderful restaurants, shopped at wonderful stores and went condo hunting with the funniest and nicest realtor in the state of Illinois. It was awesome!

The Mister and the Rugrats had a blast. I don't think they ate anything healthy the entire weekend, but whatever, right? The kids all had happy grins on their faces when I came home and the house was intact.

The only thing that did not survive the weekend was my beautiful handmade sheep figurine, who feel victim to a un-kenneled Trixiebelle while the fam was at Church. I knew something was wrong when Cliff called and said, "How would you take it if you found out that the puppy watched Silence of the Lambs one too many times and went all Hannibal Lector on your sheep?"

To which I responded: "I'd probably have to spend more of your money to help dull the pain of this tragic loss."

And you know what? My coping strategy worked!

I feel refreshed and re-energized.I no longer feel overwhelmed. I feel ready to take whatever comes our way this week.

Never understimate the power of a weekend Girl's Getaway.

Thank you, Mister and Anne Marie! You two are the best.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Holiday for Good Mental Health

Tomorrow morning begins my 3-day Mental Health Holiday.
God bless the Mister
for acting as my Travel Agent/Vacation Planner,
because I never would have arranged this for myself.

Mentally, emotionally, physically, I am fried.
I'm tired and unfocused and feel an alarming lack of motivation.

I've retreated from most of life this week,
as I am so spaced out and cranky
that I can barely stand myself.
If I can barely stand myself,
I certainly can't expect anyone else to.

My hopes for the long weekend away:
to mentally recharge myself,
to emotionally fortify myself and
to sleep enough to make up for the last month of poor sleep
(because it's probably unrealistic to make up for the last 10 1/2 years, right?)
3 whole days when I don't need
to plan a menu or cook a meal.
3 whole days when I can eat
vegetarian cuisine with no thought of what to serve others,
3 whole days when I may even be able
to read an entire magazine.
Plus, for 3 whole days,
I get to hang with one of my closest friends,
who moved away at the beginning of the year and
who I really miss (sniff.)

It's going to be awesome.

And just as I begin to get really homesick
for little voices and sticky kisses,
it will be time for me to leave and head back to
Home Sweet Home.
Because the Homecoming full of sticky kisses
and "Mommy! I missed you!"'s
is always the best part of a Mental Health Vacation.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

GotCHa!

We had a good day of pranks and tom-foolery here in our house today. This morning, Hatfield poured her (almond) milk into her cereal and became alarmed as her milk slowly began to turn a shocking shade of smurf blue.

The Mister was a bit nervous today after tasting the delicious homemade, from-scratch brownies at lunch time today. When the kids asked for a brownie, I made sure the Mister was within earshot when I whispered, "No, Mommy does not want you to eat these brownies."

A look of horror came across the Mister's face as he asked me what I put in them.

"Oh, a little bit of this and a dash of that."

He spent the rest of the afternoon sitting as close to rest rooms as possible, so sure was he that I had baked laxative brownies for him (I didn't.) The little dash of this and that were some Ghiradelli chocolate chips.

This evening, Cliff and I got all the kids with Faux Orange Kool Aid. First of all, we NEVER have Kool Aid in our home, so the kids were SUPER excited to see what Mom set out.

The joke was on them, when they discovered it wasn't Kool Aid in the glasses,

it was Jell-O.


But, the joke was on Mom in the end. When I ran upstairs after dinner to freshen up before heading out to the store, the kids poured out the remainder of my beer and filled the bottle with lemon juice.

They HOWLED hysterically while Mom puckered and sputtered.

It's been a good day.