Friday, July 31, 2009

A Photo Log of Friday Morning

This morning, I did not rock at mowing the back lawn.
It is now 12:12.
I began at 9.
The lawn is 1/3 complete.
But that's okay.

Because this morning, I rocked as Mom.

I played lifeguard through my dirty window screen

while I filled up bucket


after bucket


after bucket


after bucket


of HOT water

to dump in the kiddie pool.

Sometimes,
after a few trying days,
it's good to toot your own horn
and recognize your parenting awesomeness.

Good ahead, give it a try!
(in the comments section or on your own blog)

What did you rock at this week?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Our Unwatched Pot Just Boiled Over

While Miles' homecoming was a time of great rejoice in our home, an undercurrent of sadness was always present. While we celebrated the arrival of one dear son, we were quietly mourning the reality that we had to leave our other precious boy behind.

But as troubling as that fact was, we were comforted by the knowledge that we witnessed a HUGE miracle in Miles' homecoming. That miracle allowed us to let go of our fears and worries over Keenan's file. If God can bring Miles home, he can bring anyone home, including Keenan. I see how perfectly timed Miles' homecoming has been---even if it meant two years of aggravating, blood-pressure rising, anger-management necessitating waiting. And I can trust Keenan's homecoming will be perfectly timed as well, whenever that may be.

Are you familiar with the saying that a watched pot never boils? Well, Keenan's file has been our unwatched pot. While prior to Miles' homecoming, I spent HOURS deliberating and agonizing over every movement--or lack of movement--in the boys' files.

But in the never-ending hustle and bustle of adjusting Miles' to his new life, there just hasn't been much time to be concerned about Keenan's file. We were missing paperwork, and we were told that it would take months--possibly up to half a year-- for that paperwork to be regenerated by the Haitian government.

But guess what?
That unwatched pot just boiled over.
Keenan's miracle is beginning.

This is the email I received today:

Dear Mrs. C.:

Please be informed that your case is in the approval phase. We will
send you by Monday an e-mail confirmation of the approval and
transfer
to the Consular Section.

Regards,

Department of Homeland Security
U. S. Citizenship and Immigration

[Sarah's note for unadopting readers:
the US Consular is the last stop and will issue Keenan's Visa!]

Needless to say, we were NOT expecting to
learn that we have I-600 Approval!!
We are ECSTATIC.
And SHOCKED.
And HUMBLED by this
Absolute Miracle in the Making.

What an awesome experience it is to witness God's hand working in such an incredible manner. To move a Haitian government office to produce documents in a matter of mere weeks, when it should have taken months----months---is a miracle of a huge magnitude.

We are so grateful for the timing of this situation. Please, please pray for Keenan's file and a speedy issuance of this Visa. Our little boy is very sad and needs to come home to his family. Miles desperately needs his brother Ti-blahn here at home. We all need to become one united family living under one roof.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wow!!!!
I am impressed,
relieved and
saddened
all at the same time,
because there are a LOT of you mommies out there
who knew the answer to yesterday's trivia question!

5 Gold Stars go to:

Melanie
Shelly
Kelli
Aves
Geralyn
This Mama
Laura
and
Jenn

Plus a 5 Gold Star Honorable Mention goes to:

Marta Lynn

who has gracefully endured the High School Musical series to a point no woman should have to endure.

Don't know who the Wiggles are?!?

Let me share some of their Aussie joy with you:



Bon Appetit!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Morning Music Challenge

Miss Shelly and the Swat Team sent our boys a present which has become Miles' favorite toy above all else: a little digital music radio which plays the hits of a certain famous musical group.

Miles listens to this toy
morning,
noon
and night,
and now he has added the following phrases
to his ever-growing repertoire of American lyrics:

* Dance your gloomies away.

* We hope you like the beat, oh yeah.

* Fruit salad, yummy yummy.

* Let's have a Party
(which he say's "Pah-dlee" in a super cute way
and to which Paloma responds, "Oh yeah!")

* I hear a polka and my troubles are through.

(Okay, I'm totally kidding on this last one.
He doesn't sing that.
I do.
It's in my head 24/7 and I can't get it out.
Help!)

So come on all you Mommies out there whose brains have been turned into similar bowls of mush. Who can name the band??? 5 GOLD STARS to all who can!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Initiation

Yesterday afternoon we brought Miles up to Camp to introduce him to the Great North Woods. While the weatherman has been giving us a 30% chance of rain for the past month, with nary a drop in sight, it figures that the heavens would open within 3 minutes of our arrival. Talk about a full-fleged North Woods Camping Initiation for our tyke. We were poured on, but that did nothing to discourage our crew from having a wonderful time.



As you can see (if your neck can handle be cranked sideways for a minute--ouch! Someday I'll figure this whole camera/YouTube thing out, but probably not before I spend some significant time in a chiro office), Miles is teaching the kids some fresh Haitian dance moves. Atticus is in heaven.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I finally finished a post! And here it is. . .

I have 5 unfinished posts dating back since Saturday, all with the intent to give y'all an update about the State of the Union here at the 5FC household.

Bloggus,
Interruptus.

So right now I am bound and determined to get out a post, no matter how disjointed, sloppy or boring it may be. I think I'm going to bullet point a list, because a lot has been going on and my thoughts are all over the place.

Thoughts on Attachment/Tantrums:

* I spent our first week home feeling worried and uptight inside. Nearly every thought I had was trying to analyze whether or not we were attaching. If Miles was sullen or moody, I would worry. If Miles seemed sad, I would worry. If Miles seemed detached, I would freak out.

Since then, I've realized that ALL of those things will happen and need to happen. He needs to grieve and process and go through all of that to attach. And the world will not end for either of us in those rough moments. Life goes on, and can go on well.

If it sounds like I'm stupid or never picked up an adoption/attachment book, please know that is not the case. I read a TON before he came home. It's just that reading something in a theoretical setting, and then re-reading it in a real-life setting are two majorly different scenarios. Some things you just need to be knee deep in before it finally sets in.

* This week, I'm far more relaxed. The Mister and I have come to the conclusion that having Family Fun, Acting Silly (not stupid, but joyous, full of laughter, etc.), and Keeping Active is a great way to encourage attachment. None of which I do well if I am over-analyzing every move the poor kid makes.

* Major tantrums no longer scare me. I should personally thank Paloma for preparing me so well :) Miles has had a few doozies, including one MAJOR one this evening at dinnertime. Lucky for both of us, I have a huge amount of tantrum-weathering patience. Many other types of patience I certainly lack, but I can sit through an hour-long screaming, hissing, kicking, jumping, crying and flailing tantrum without my blood pressure rising like nobody's business.

* One of my major fears regarding tantrums was that they would set back bonding. However, so far it seems to be quite the opposite. Weathering those tantrums and coming out the other side with a hug and a "Mama Blahm will ALWAYS love you" seems to promote and actually build bonding. Miles seems more comfortable, more affectionate and happier after each episode we have had.

On Sibling Adjustment:

* Orphanage kids seem to do quite well speaking up for themselves. If any child is about to commit an infraction, no matter how small, against Miles, he speaks up. LOUDLY. Not in a mean way. Just more in a "I'm-used-to-needing-to-be-heard-above-20-other-children" volume level. Miles has not hit or acted aggressively towards any of the three children, which we are so thankful for.

* We have a whole lotta Sharing Rules Re-Negotiations that need to go on. It occurred to me today that my children had previously worked out an unspoken set of rules regarding toys, sharing and play. Throw one more kid into that mix (especially one who does not speak English) and that can be a recipe for disaster. Paloma and Atticus are especially having a difficult time. Atticus doesn't want to share anything anymore. With anyone. Period. Paloma just was under the impression that everything in the home is meant to be shared with her, but not that she in turn would need to share anything with anyone else. We're working on this.

* Atticus, our in-house Motor Mouth, has met his match when it comes to bedtime. The lights go out, and Miles talks. And sings. And talks. And sings. And talks. You get the drift. To which Atticus will come downstairs crying, "He won't stop singing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes!" Which is vaguely reminescent of the time when Hatfield had to share a room with her 2 year old brother Atticus, and she would come into the living room crying, saying, "He won't stop talking!"

What goes around, comes around, boy.

On Language Acquisition:

* Your child may not have any desire to even attempt to speak English to you the first week or so they are home.

For a while, it seemed like every blog I read had a post or two marvelling over their child's ability to pick up English, even from the start. So I had expected Miles to want to mimic everything we would say.

He didn't. Not at all. He would say stuff to our dogs, but that was it.

And it's a tad tough not to take that personally.

But, seriously, if this happens to you, don't take it personally.

* The language will come. We find that the more comfortable and relaxed Miles is around us, the more he is willing to parrot the things we say. I tried for DAYS to get him to sing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes to me. Not a peep. Nada. Then the next thing I know, Atticus is downstairs crying that Miles won't stop singing it. One day, he'll say to you, "Manmi, mwen fini" as he tries to hand you a granola bar wrapper in the car. You'll take it without a thought until it hits you that he just called you Manmi. And then you'll probably cry.

On the difference between 3 and 4 children:

* Holy Schmoly. I don't know if it's the adoption thing, the language thing, or whatnot, but wow. There is no way I can fake my way through a day if I'm unorganized. I need to have my A-game truly on if I want things to go well during the day.

* Sometimes we'll be out and about, and I have to count heads. When I come up with only 3 (like if Hattie's at a friends' house or Atticus is at violin), I'll panic and can't remember exactly who I'm forgetting. It's embarassing.

* I'm seriously considering making special, oversized t-shirts in a garish neon color to make my children put over their clothing when we go out in public. Kind of like those daycares. I used to think, I can't believe people would entrust their children to a group who are not even competent enough to watch after all the children they are in charge of without an ugly t-shirt. Mea culpa, I now see my shortcoming. And I get it.

Maybe I'll even have a T-shirt design contest. That'd be kind of fun.

Although, considering I can't keep up on my laundry and I don't even know what the date is, it's probably not a good thing for me to take that on right now.

But hey, at least I finished a blog post! It may have taken me 6 tries, but I did it.

All in all, though, things are going well, and I can't, or at least when I do, I know that I really shouldn't, complain. I have a new baby boy who eats well, is potty-trained and sleeps through the night. I have 3 other beautiful children who are doing their best to adjust to this new chapter in our lives, and who always amaze me with the sincerity of their hearts and minds. And I have one hunky husband who is brave enough to take on one of the toughest of parenting tasks: the dreaded stool sample collection. He is such a brave and noble man that he said it wasn't all that bad, and he would even do it again.

And I'm glad he made that promise. Because it's coming true Mister. On Friday. Your day off. You, Miles, and a stool collection kit have a date. Sorry I didn't have the courage to tell you in person, though. You're the best, babe!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Live Long and Prosper

You know you live in America when your kid learns more English courtesy of a Happy Meal toy than from you.



How adorable is this?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Seven Days

Miles has been home one week.

Which, given the fact that we still have our other dear son stuck in Haiti, seems nearly unbelievable. If I wasn't waking up to his smiling little face each day, I still might not fully believe it.

I truly believe that it is a miracle Miles is here.

Home one week, and Mama Blahn is sick on the couch with the flu. Poor Mama Blahn.

Mama Blahn means "White Mama." The kids in Haiti are generally excited and proud of their white mamas. I didn't realize just how much so until Miles and I were cuddled on the couch, flipping through a photo album. We came to a picture of me holding him in Haiti, back in '07.

"Mama Blahn!" he cried out, smiling. The next picture was one of me and Cliff. "Mama Blahn!" he smiled again, and did a little clap.

Hmmmm. The next time I said, "Mommy loves you," I replaced "Mommy" with "Mama Blahn." Instant, eyes-light-up reaction.

So that was the end of Mommy, and the emergence of "Mama Blahn."

And you know what?
I'm loving it.

Except the being sick part. And the feeling overwhelmed part. And the house being trashed part. And the laundry being mountainous part. And the 15 phone messages and 23 emails I have yet to respond to part.

Truthfully, I hadn't quite prepared myself for all of that. But, been there, done that three times with newborns, and will be there again when Keenan arrives, so I'm just shrugging my shoulders and surrendering to it.

And I'm offering up an apology right here if you happen to be one of the 38 messages I need to get back to. I love you all, and I promise to get in touch, but just not quite yet.

Things are going well here, I think, by adoption standards.

We've had a little testing going on, and I think we handled it well so far.

The kids have had their bickering moments, and we're working through it.

The Mister has only had to comfort me in just two "I'm sick-and-tired-and-overwhelmed-and-please-please-please-don't-go-back-to-work-on-Monday" moments so far. Which probably freaked him out a bit, because each time we had a baby, I kicked him out of the house and back to the office before the end of his family leave. This time, I'm holding onto him for dear life, lol!

Miles is a delightful child. He loves to play, sing, eat, take baths and sleep. He does it all with gusto. Loud, LOUD gusto (except the sleeping part.) He fits right in.

He's very reserved around outsiders. He completely shuts down in the presence of visitors, unless he is playing outside, and then he just keeps on playing. So for now, we are still limiting visitors, because we can see each day how his comfort in our home is growing, and we don't want to backslide there.

When we are with others (like when we picked up Atticus from a neighborhood friend's house, or on a trip to the park), Miles will seek me out and hold my hand, which I think is a good indicator of a forming attachment.

Things he doesn't do yet: he won't give affection. He'll smile when I tell him Mama Blahn loves him. But he won't initiate a hug or kiss, and he won't say it back to me. But, from all that I read, this isn't unusual or anything to worry about. These bonds take time to build.

He won't say 'Mama Blahn' or 'Daddy' or 'Hatfield' at all. He will call Atticus and Paloma by name. He responds to Miles. He won't repeat names or words in English, but if I tell him "Vi 'bonswa' to Miss Ruth," he will shyly say "Bonswa." But not Hello or Goodbye.

But, he speaks to all the dogs clearly, and in English. LOUD English. It is absolutely hilarious and endearing.

So for now, the plan is to just keep on keepin' on. We're taking it one day at a time, and we're enjoying each laugh, smile and moment with him. Miles started a heavy antibiotic round this afternoon to treat his intestinal troubles (which wasn't giardia, but some amoeba parasite. Uck. Uck. and Double Uck.) The pediatrician warned the antibiotics will tire him out a bit, so she encouraged us to lay low at home for the time being, which we will gladly do.

Seven days home.
Home.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Firsts

Over the past few days we have been delighted to share so many "firsts" with our boy Miles.

First trip to the park:


First time shooting off a rocket (well, that was a first for all of us, except Uncle Elmo, our in-house Rocket Expert)



First roasted marshmallow (which he at first loved, but he did NOT love the gooey finger aftermath)


First time making bread with Daddy:


First ice cream cone:

and accompanying ice cream cone mustache:
Other less-glamorous firsts I didn't get a shot of: First time to doctor, first time having blood drawn (the child didn't flinch), first time for Daddy to fill those impossibly small, fluid-filled vials with nasty poop, first time the children rolled around on the floor insisting they were going to go blind from the smell wafting from the bathroom during Daddy's aforementioned activity.

Things are going well, so far. Much better than we expected, but then again, we are still honeymooning. Miles LOVES to be the "helper." I totally forgot my camera on our first trip to the market, but he loved helping place things in the cart. And then when we got home, he would race Cliff to the car to get the grocery bags. He beams each and every time he helps. You can see the pride on his face, and we are sure to coo, "We are so proud of you!" and "Great job!" for all of his help.

Overall, he seems to be a lot more comfortable here at home. He skips everywhere. He sings and plays. He says, "Wanda" "Trixie" "Ernie" and "Atticus" clear as a bell. He loves stroller rides.

Yesterday he played a practical joke on Atticus. When Atticus got up to leave the breakfast table to use the bathroom, Miles hid his plate behind the flower vase. When Atticus came back, smiled and said, "Hey! Where's my plate?" Miles started laughing hysterically. Then Atticus would say, "Miles! Gaday--Machine, Machine!" (Miles, look- car, car!) and try to move Miles plate.

I'm growing more confident in my ability not to mess up this whole bonding thing and scar the child for life. Right now we're still in the 'going well' stage, so I am still a bit tense, waiting for the shoe to fall with things like tantrums, testing, etc. So much of it is still new and scary, for both him and us. I'm glad I've spent so much time in the past 2 years reading all of your adoption blogs out there, because it helps me feel assured that 1) what we're going through is normal and 2) we'll get through this adjustment. For now, we're just enjoying all our firsts, one day at a time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Thoughts after our first weekend

Discovery #1:

My Haitian lad has NO interest in television. Unless he's strapped in his carseat and has nothing else to do but look at the tv, he won't pay it a moment of attention. Which kind of undermines my "get out of jail free" card when it comes to moments to load the dishwasher, switch the laundry or even sit for a moment.

Discovery #2:

This child LOVES, LOVES, LOVES to play outside. I give God a HUGE praise for His perfect timing, because I cannot imagine how entirely difficult it would be to have brought him home in the middle of winter. His first day here, we were outside at 8 am, came in for a noon lunch, took a nap, and went back outside for the remainder of the day (with a short dinner break.) He loves scooters, the kiddie Jeep, tricycles, big wheels, the playground, our tree swings, soccer, dodgeball. He is not too fond of the sprinkler or Slip-n-Slide, which surprised all of us, but that's okay. I think it the weather was too cool (only upper 70's) for him to even want to attempt that.

Discovery #3:

We were prepared to bring home a 4 year old child with a 24-36 month skill set. Not the case with this child. We are amazed at how agile, adept and skilled he is physically. He can do simpler puzzles, trace his hand, drive the jeep (including stopping on a dime), and build things out of Legos. Of course, I feel great Mama pride over all of this.

Discovery #4:

No matter how much you think you can imagine it when you read about it on other blogs, ghiardia (spelling) or intestinal parasite poop is beyond disgusting. Jen, you have my heartfelt sympathy and HUGE admiration and respect because I cannot imagine what it's like to find that in a diaper. It's bad enough have to wipe and flush.

Also, if you utter the phases "He just had the measles after a major measles outbreak at his orphanage" and "I think he has scalp ringworm"to the pediatrician receptionist, she will rearrange the doctor's entire day to get you in. Quickly.

Discovery #5:

The different language factor is tough. Way tougher than I thought. As a parent, it is horribly frustrating to not be able to communicate all I want to with him. Yesterday, I asked him, "How are you?" and he went into a 3 minute answer. I caught "mwihn" (meaning "I") I think my lack of response broke his heart. And I can only imagine how frustrating it is for Miles. At night he talks aloud for 30 minutes before going to sleep, probably just to hear his own language without English being thrown at him with abandon.

Hattie and Paloma seem to be fine with the language barrier. It is devastating Atticus. He goes into long explanations of a toy or food or gameplan for playtime. Of course, Miles has no idea what he is saying. So Atticus walks around with the Kreyol book all day, creating his own sentences and questions by piece-mealing together catch-phrases. Which is pretty damn impressive, in my opinion, but of course, we don't understand the response.

Discovery #6:

We are exhausted. Bringing home a new child through adoption is EVERY bit as tiring as bringing home a newborn, if not moreso. Instead, I'm running after an adorable little boy to whom everything is new and wondrous and exciting and he wants to explore it all. Which is an amazing gift to watch. An amazing, exhausting gift.

The week before Miles came home was an adrenaline-packed week. From preparations to travel to the end of his first day home, our adrenaline was sky high. We went to sleep and crashed. I woke up his second morning home feeling like I had been out on a month-long bender.

Fortunately, after having 3 babies, I realize that this is just a phase and this too shall pass. Admittedly, for a Type-A control lover like myself, this requires a lot of mental readjusting on my part. But, I'll get there.

Discovery #7:

We knew and prepared for the fact that an adopted child will grieve when they come home. Preparing and then watching are two entirely different things. I don't think you can ever prepare for the absolute heartache of having to watch/help a child grieve. I'm sure I'll have more to write on this topic at a later point in time, but for now, we are knee-deep in this process and my heart is reeling from it.

So all these discoveries have led us to some realizations:

Realization #1:

We need to purchase an English-Kreyol dictionary and learn way more Kreyol when Keenan comes home.

Realization #2:

I need more silverware. Especially those shorter tined forks which carry less of the poke-your-eye-out risk.

Realization #3:

We have had no crying tantrums or fits as of yet. I believe this still puts us in the "Honeymooning" category. I'm hoping we can stay here through his doctor appointment this morning.

Realization #4:

We need to start shopping more at Sam's Club.

Realization #5:

Friends who send beautiful "It's a Boy!" bouquets and friends who deliver delicious, wonderful already-made dinners are the best friends anyone could ask for. THANK YOU oodles to all of our dear friends who have celebrated with us by being so incredibly kind and thoughtful.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Miles comes home

Home

We are home.

Man, it feels good to write that!

Yesterday went very, very well. I have lots of stories to write and photos to post. Last night I first fell asleep putting Miles to bed, then woke up and fell asleep putting Paloma to bed, and then Hattie (the Mister fell asleep with Atticus.) I was a tired Mama!

This morning, I'm cuddling with my boy. Today, we are focusing on fun as a family and building attachment. At naptime I will put up those photos and share a story or two.

Home.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Touchdown

My little boy is on U.S. soil.

I heard his little voice say, "Allo, Mommy."
I heard the joy and pride in my husband's voice.
The same joy and pride I heard in his voice in the hospital
after the birth of our other children.

My heart is full tonight.
I am overwhelmed with Joy.
Gratitude.
Relief.
Hope.
Excitement.
Tomorrow my arms will be full,
wrapped around four precious children.
The journey now truly begins.

Safe and Sound

I'm happy to report that the Mister and his suitcase full of donations made it safely to Port au Prince. We had some doubts about the luggage, as this was the same suitcase full of donation that never made it past St. Louis on his 2008 trip to Port au Prince.

The Mister is now relaxing at the Visa Lodge with our son. At 2 pm, they will be driven back to the airport, and God willing, by 8 pm tonight I'll hear on the telephone that little voice I've been dreaming of for so very long.

The children and I are having a wonderful time in Chicago with dear Anne Marie. Anne Marie is spoiling the children with yummy take out, and they, in turn, are teaching her some smoking dance moves. And Atticus limited himself to asking Anne Marie"Can I tell/ask you something?" only 30 times an hour instead of his usual 60.

Yesterday we shopped, and an incredibly kind owner of a local toy shop, upon hearing our story on why we are in Chicago, gifted Miles with a very precious, super cuddly and soft stuffed giraffe, which turns into a pillow and a blankie. I don't care what their reputation may be, we always meet the Nicest people in Chicago.

This morning we spent 4 hours at the fabulous Kohl Children's Museum (WOW! is all I have to say), and now we are headed down the block to a deli for lunch. Less than 24 hours until I'm holding that little guy. I'm trying to limit myself to just counting hours, and not minutes.

Trying, but not necessarily succeeding :)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Bon Voyage

It's true.
This is really happening.

We are packed and ready to go.
The little owl backpack is full of treats,
goodies and Matchbox cars.
Clean, new jammies and
a blanket lovingly made by Jimmy.
Bath toys and baby powder.
And a homecoming outfit identical to
Atticus' "Welcome Home, Miles!" outfit.

I have butterflies in my stomach.
In just 48 hours, the son I've long awaited will be in my arms.
Forever.

Monday, July 06, 2009

I cannot believe I'm about to post this, but

This Little Boy

has a Visa.

I can barely find words for this moment.
After 28 months, you would think
that I'd have
perhaps thought of some.
Kind of like preparing for an Oscar speech.
Because I feel like we just won
an Academy Award.

The Mister will be leaving the states Wednesday afternoon,
and will be bringing our son HOME to us
on Friday morning.

PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE
BE TO OUR DEAR GOD.

MILES
HOME.
FAMILY.

I will update more tomorrow.
For now, the Mister and I are popping
the cork on a celebratory bottle of champagne.

Our baby boy is coming HOME.




Thursday, July 02, 2009

In defense of a 'traditional' marriage


At my uncle's funeral, my aunt spoke about her relationship with Gary and her love for him. It was always very evident that my Uncle loved my aunt deeply. I think it was wonderful for my aunt to openly share her love for him. Listening to her made me realize that I need to make sure that the people I love know just how much I love them. You can never say it enough.

At the beginning of her talk, my aunt made it very clear that she is a classic type A personality, to nearly a magnified degree. Her husband was very laid back and easy going.

Hmmmm, sounds vaguely similar to another married couple I know.

The Mister and I have a very "traditional" marriage by societal definitions. I'm proud of our marriage and not ashamed. The Mister works outside the home in the "public sphere" (a term I remember from a feminism course in college), and we're very fortunate that he has a great job and provides a very comfortable life for us. He is as every bit driven in his job as he is laid back at home. I think when people see the Mister at work, in action, they are always a bit surprised by his intensity and focus. At home, he is "Island Time, All the Time." But his work role is on a completely different intensity spectrum.

My role is in the "private sphere." I believe that children and a spouse are a gift, and so I gladly care for our children and home. I do have a job/business, but even that exists largely in the private sphere due to the nature of the business. And I set it aside when my family duties need to take precedence. When I was a single mom, I was head of both the private and public spheres in my life, which was fine. But I gladly handed the reins over to the Mister once we were married. I love being a homemaker and wife, and the private sphere is where I will gladly reside.

The Mister does his job very well. I like to think that most days, I do my job pretty well too. I don't tell the Mister how to do his job; he doesn't tell me how to do mine. We trust that each is the expert in their own job.

But, we work well as a team and have a tremendous amount of respect for each other. He often asks me for opinions about work situations, and I do the same. Of course, there are things I am bossy about, like furniture placement or wall color, but in the end, he trusts that I know what I'm doing and acquiesces. And really, I don't think he truly cares if I paint the walls white, black or neon elephant peanut candy orange (a color he liked, by the way, which contributes to my unwillingness to allow his opinion on wall color.)

Often times, some friend or family member, typically male, will ask Cliff to do something and then make a wise ass crack like "Oh, if your boss lets you" or something of that nature, because they know that inevitably, the Mister will not schedule anything without checking with me first. They'll make cracks about who wears the pants in the family and so forth. The Mister, with his ever present laid back nature, lets it roll of his back, which I think leads people to further think it's true.

I often wonder though if people think I'm some sort of bossy, overbearing wife. The Mister can do as he wishes, and he knows that. But, our family is important to him, and family events are important to him, and he has always been the type to defer his own activities to family activities (which is how he grew up--Chamorro homes always put family first. Always.)

At the end of the day, the Mister is the head of our household. It's a Biblical principle I strongly believe in, although it's certainly not en vogue or highly regarded by today's standards. Being head of the household doesn't mean that he's a dictator or he has to lord over every decision and standard in our home. He doesn't.

But just because he leaves the private sphere to me, doesn't mean that he isn't the head of household. I've struggled for some time now, trying to figure out how to best explain it to people.

The best way to describe it is this: when the moment the Mister came home from work yesterday and his vacation began, I felt instant relief. He's here to help where needed, to step in and direct the children, to be the strong one when I began to crumble from the stress of the adoption nigthmare. The relief stems from the fact I have someone holding me up, being my safety net if I fall. And fortunately for me, he's always so close that I never fall far before he catches me.

I don't mean for this to be a saccharine sweet post. Our marriage is certainly far from perfect, and we have had problems that I wouldn't dream of blogging about on a blog read by people in our real life. But I do blog for my family. This blog is a journal for my children and grandchildren to read long after we are gone.

My grandparents' marriage is a love affair that is legendary in our family, even while they are still alive. Everyone knows and can see just how in love they are with each other. It doesn't mean that they haven't had their share of trails and tribulations. It's just that they made the decision to share and celebrate their love for each other, above everything else. I would never, never want any of my descendants to doubt for one second just how much I love my Mister.

Thank you, Mister, for all that you are to us. I love you.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Nothing like a postive affirmation from a 3-year old


I love nothing more than snuggling with my children each evening after their bedtime bath. I bury my nose into their hair and inhale in their Johnson Baby shampooed heads and baby powdered bodies. They smell delicious.

Miss Paloma is at a point in time where she "want(s) to do it myself." Including the post-bath application of baby powder. Inevitably, more baby powder graces the walls and floors of the bathroom than her own little self, but that is part of the charm of being 3, is it not?

Last night Paloma snuck the powder into her bedroom while I was busy attending to Atticus' shower. I walked into a large cloud of baby powder fluff which used to be her bedroom.

"Mmmmm," I said, inhaling. "Your room smells like delicious baby powder."

My comment was met with Paloma's patented cold-as-ice glare. Those of you who have seen it know what I mean.

"Mom, don't say baby powder!" she began, each word escalating in intensity. "I'm not a baby!"

I gave it another try: "Mmmm, your room smells like delicious powder."

The cold-as-ice glare turned to sheer frustration. "Mom, call it Daughter Powder!!" Really, it came out as "dot-er pow-da," but her intent was crystal clear.

"Oh, okay," I backed down.

The sheer frustration turned to a look of combined pity and disgust. "You're not very smart, Mom."

No one can build one up the way a 3-year old can.