Saturday, January 30, 2010

Changes

What is it about birthdays that end in -0 or -5 that makes you sit back and spend a lot of time evaluating your life?

I've seen a quote floating around FB and the blogging world that goes something like: Figure out your priorities and then figure out where you spend the bulk of your time. If they don't match up, then your life isn't in sync with your priorities, etc.

My priority has long been, and still is, being a wife and mother. Given the fact that I am a homemaker and have made the decision to homeschool my children, at first glance, yes indeed, my daily schedule certainly reflects my life's priority.

But then I have to break it down. How much time do I spend each day, with each child? What do I do? What's the breakdown of computer/phone time, etc?

What type of qualities do I want to demonstrate? Am I more concerned about being the "cool" mom, or do I care more about the character development of my children, trusting that if we raise them right now (which includes upsetting a pre-teen every now and again), we'll grow into healthy adult relationships? Do I take the easy way out to avoid conflict (and hard work), or am I willing to set my lazy nature aside and roll up my sleeves and get dirty?

Long after my children are grown and gone, it will be the Mister and me. Am I strengthening my marriage, or am I just letting things slide while I am busy with the little ones? When my husband comes home, do we take time to talk together? Or do we go off and do our own thing on the Wii or the computer? Do we take time for date nights? Or if we can't find a babysitter, do we make out when the kids aren't looking? Am I taking advantage of the fact that a woman's sex drive peaks in her mid-30s, or do I write each evening off because I'm tired? Do we have rituals/hobbies/habits that reflect our commitment to each other?

All things to think about, and honestly evaluate. Because like it or not, we only have just so many hours in a day. And those are ours to make our break our life with.

The Mister, who just celebrated a non-0 or -5 birthday, has found that he hit a major career milestone before the age of 40. At first I thought this sort of "accomplish this goal by the time I'm this age" milestone thing was strange, like it was just a man thing. But then I remembered my goal between Paloma's 24 and 36 months of life was for both her and I to get through it alive (thankfully, we achieved that one!)

Mars/Venus aside, the Mister is now thinking about the next steps he wants to pursue and accomplish, and how to do them in conjunction with being a father of (gulp) five. Or maybe someday even (gulp) six or seven.

(Sorry, Mister. Just had to throw that in to Freak. You. Out!)

Since the holidays we each have been dealing with a steady succession of incidents when others have been completely rude, if not hostile, to us. I once posted about why I love being in my 30s, and part of that is because I realize that while it's always good to forgive, I don't have to be a doormat for anyone else while they work through their own issues.

We trudged our way past the holidays, and then the Haiti earthquake completely took the wind out of our sails. Emotionally we found (and still find) ourselves exhausted. Wanting to help, but only being able to do so much, feeling helpless and frustrated at watching a broken, overwhelmed and often poorly-thought out system.

This February, we are committing ourselves to making some changes in our lives. Some big, some little, but after the past month and a half, I need to make some positive changes so that I can begin feeling optimistic and hopeful again. Changes so that we can begin to propel ourselves forward, a continuation of pursuing our personal life goals and missions.

So in February, I'm going to post about some of these changes and why we've made them. I'm going to try hard to change my personal momentum from that of a Tired Trudging through Each Day to a momentum of Purposefully Working Towards a Goal.

Bear with me if some days I seem to rah-rah or Pollyanna. But after a month and a half that we just got through, I need to jolt myself out of this rut. And sometimes, jumping headfirst into a series of changes is the way to achieve it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Slippery Slopes/ Need advice from Adoptive/Foster Moms

The path from Homecoming to Attachment is not a one-way street.

Instead, I liken it to a large hill, with steps in some places, green grass in others, rocky paths here and there, and then those treacherous icy stretches just to make things interesting.

A few steps forward, a step or two back, a few steps forward, a few steps back. Cyclical, in ways.

I've been taking a lot of time to re-read Attaching in Adoption, and most particularly the chapters regarding Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence.

Both of our boys are behind in their Emotional Development, and understandably so, given the fact that they have spent the vast majority of their 5 years in an orphanage setting.

Keenan, despite his younger age, is a little more advanced in these stages.

On one spectrum, the boys are attaching very well. Both come to the Mister and myself for love and hugs. If they are hurt or not feeling well, they will seek me out. When an injustice is done to them by another child, they find us as opposed to seeking revenge on their own. Neither boy has an interest in strangers. And both seem to be slowly developing on the emotional spectrum.

Our slippery slopes come to areas of Cause-and-Effect and Emotional Intelligence.

Both boys have a rudimentary sense of cause and effect. They can see it at play in toys. They can see it at play with positive emotions. Have a big hug with Mommy= Happy, loving feelings in our belly. Helping out Dad with a project = Proud, happy feelings.

But both of our sons struggle when it comes to working with feelings of anger. Any sort of logical sequencing that they may grasp when they are calm, is no longer reachable when they are angry or unhappy.

For example: All of my children have to help with laundry. They each are assigned two days a week for Laundry Duty, and all of them have a Laundry Buddy.

When the boys are on Laundry duty, they must fold and sort the laundry by Atticus' clothing, and Miles/Keenan's clothing.

Nothing earth shattering there. They both clearly understand the concepts. When they are feeling happy and silly, they can knock a load of laundry out in about 5 minutes flat.

However, if on that day one of the boys is feeling angry about something (the most recent has been with Keenan, when he was upset that we didn't have ice cream in the house for dessert), then they will take a piece of two of Atticus' clothing, fold it real teensy weensy, and stick it in one of their piles. Or they'll take a pair of their own underwear, fold it and stick it down a pant leg of Atticus' jeans.

Now, the boys know that if they do the laundry wrong (and I'm talking about when they do it wrong on purpose. I'm not talking about when they accidentally mistake Atticus' blue turtle shirt for Keenan's light blue shirt, etc.), then they are given a chance to correct it. If they fail to take that opportunity, then the Laundry Buddy is off duty, all the laundry goes back into the basket and it needs to be re-done.

With Keenan, I would say about 75% of the time, he will take the opportunity to correct it, so he can be done with it and move on.

Miles has NEVER taken the opportunity. In fact, most of the time, he'll take the opportunity to grab something of Atticus', and then while looking at me square in the eyes, put it in his own pile.

Lord help my blood pressure.

This is a scenario that plays out in our house at least once every other week. Keenan has done a basket of laundry over twice before deciding, This is getting kinda old, and doing it the correct way. He'll take 45 minutes doing a load of laundry incorrectly, but when he decides to switch tracks and make the good choice, he can bang out that entire load himself in 10 minutes flat.

Miles has chosen to do the same basket of laundry incorrectly 9 freakin' times. NINE.

Both boys, once they are angry, completely are unable to reason this cause and effect sequence:

Do it incorrectly = Do it again = Do it until it is done right = Do it right = Go and Play

The best I can determine, after talking with each boy, is that their minds follow this loop:

I'm mad at Mom for something = Mom gives me a chore = I'm mad so I won't do it right = I'm told to do it again = but I'm still mad = and because I'm mad I won't do it right.

That circle loops and loops and loops. So far, I feel like we're making NO progress on this section of slipper slope.

Honestly, when I'm facing days like this, I'm not quite sure what to do.

*Do I give him one re-do chance, and if he still chooses to do it incorrectly, do I issue than another consequence, like no tv or no basement playroom time?

*Do I keep on having him work on the load, because if Mom gives you a chore, you must complete it?

*Do I ignore the things he's doing wrong and just have him do it incorrectly? Or is that encouraging him and his sneakiness/wrongdoing?

I would gladly appreciate ANY advice that you Been There, Done That or Are Currently Doing that you adoptive/foster parents have.

Many, many thanks,
Sarah.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Good Books for Boys

I love my Boy Patrol.

I believe in letting little boys be little boys.

This is one of the BEST books I have ever read about little boys.

And of course, this is one is also one of my Absolute Faves:

I believe in raising boys the "old-fashioned" way. I'm not a fan of hand-held video games, or any video games, really, but I do think the Wii is Awesome for burning off some pent-up energy on those -20 degree days.

My boys play Cops 'n Robbers with toy guns (and yes, they truly look like Toys and in no way could ever be mistaken for the real thing.)

My boys pretend they are SwashBucklers and Pirates with play swords.

My boys morph into Spies and attempt to disarm evil with high tech gadgets like paperclips (carefully placed in drawers so you know if someone snooped in your stuff when you find it lying on the floor), the latest in Tin Can-n-String Eavesdropping Technology, and mirrored sunglasses that let you see what's behind you.

My boys build snow forts, attempt to rig pulleys to hoist their sleds to the top of playfort, work on figuring out a way to skateboard down a snow bank, and try to ride their bikes backwards. They find frogs and attempt to hide them in our camper so they can keep them as pets, love to sleep in their tent, and play in mud.

We stock the house with Tinker Toys, Matchbox cars, Magic Shows, Lincoln Logs and Legos. They can distinguish the differences for appropriate uses of blue, green and red Light Sabers and they can correctly give the scientific name of a dinosaur after glancing at it for 1.2 milliseconds.

In addition to giving boys room to be boys, I also believe a very Important Part of raising boys is Book Time. Curling up with Mom or Dad and a great book about a great boy (or boys.)

This year Atticus and I have read some wonderful ones, thus far.

We've read about the adventures of the radio-building, donut machine making Homer Price:


and Henry Huggins and his scruffy dog Ribsy:

The adventures and ingenuity of The Swiss Family Robinson:


Mountain Born was a gentle tale about a boy growing up on a sheep farm.

SO many good books out there! I'm dying for some more great recommendations from all of you moms with your own boy patrols. What should we read next?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Destination: Destin

Wanna help Haiti and Orphans in the Democratic Republic of Congo
and
Possibly win a vacation in Gorgeous 2 bedroom Condo in Destin, Florida fora FULL week?


Heck, yeah! Count me in!

Go to Megan Terry's Blog and buy yourself a Raffle ticket!

How cute is this room?

All proceeds will go directly to benefit Haiti. Megan is an incredible woman with an incredible heart for these countries.

Each raffle ticket is $10. If you go to her site, and link her raffle to your blog, she'll throw in an extra raffle ticket for you!

Good luck!

Just the Facts, Ma'am

The Cake:
The most amazing Italian Cream Cake, scratch made by the Mister and his Boy Patrol.

This cake is heaven on a plate.
Even if it is not your birthday, or your honey's birthday,
you should make this cake.

The Occasion:
Today I turn the big 3-5.
And as the Mister so lovingly reminded me,
Once you turn 35, each day you are closer
to 40
than you are to 30.
Lov you, babe.

The Place:
The 5FC Abode




The Time:
Probably an hour way too early to eat cake and ice cream,

but that's just how we do it here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Travel

Tomorrow, I am packing up the car with my two girls, picking up my sister, and driving two hours south to visit my grandparents.

I haven't blogged about it yet, but both my paternal grandparents are ill and in nursing homes. Sadly, after nearly 70 years of marriage, they are not together in the nursing home. My grandfather is on the dementia ward, and my grandma, who has multiple health issues, is currently on a rehabilitation floor.

I cannot imagine after being married 60+ years, and living together each day in retirement, suddenly being separated from my spouse. I am so hoping that my aunts are able to find a nursing home where they can share a room together, once the doctors give approval.

The entire situation is covered with sadness. What a sad, lonely way to spend the last days of your life. It's not one that any of us in our family expected, and yet, here we are.

I haven't been able to see my grandparents since my uncle's funeral. Both began declining shortly thereafter, in and out of hospitals and such. Then our boys came home and life as we knew it blew up (in a good way, but nonetheless), and we are still trying to figure out what the new "norm" is for our family.

My plan is to bring the girls and assess the situation. Then, if my aunt thinks my grandparents are up to it, I will bring the Boy Patrol for a visit the following week.

I am so grateful that Paloma is at this stage in life. She is a loving, delightful little girl. She is also the "Baby" of all the Great-Grandchildren. I know she will bring a lot of sunshine with her.

The Mister took all 5 children out shopping this evening for someone's birthday gift, and I poured myself a glass of wine and am looking through some photo albums from when I was little.

So much of the time, I don't quite feel like an adult yet. I can so clearly remember being a little girl with a Mom and Dad and two very active grandparents who we visited often.

It seems so close, but yet it also seems like a lifetime ago. Because so many things have changed.

All of this serves as a good reminder to me to just enjoy each day. To make connections and memories with my children and husband. Because this is but a season too.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Now UNICEF is interfering with getting Haitian kids HOME to their legally approved families

Insanity. Pure Insanity! From our reliable sources:

Please, please contact your media! Unicef is on the ground impeding the process
of families leaving with their children! Unicef is accusing agencies of child
trafficking! They have said to the media that they support these children
leaving Haiti- these are children WITH adoptive families in Haiti. This is not the
actual, live situation in Haiti right now! Children need to get out NOW and meet their families stateside.

UNICEF representatives verbally attacked Stephanie T. with A Love Beyond Borders just last night as she helped load two children on a plane to the Netherlands. She said that she feared her safety and the safety of the children. The Netherlands officials contacted their government and
the government in fact HAD approved their evacuation. This is a very, very serious situation. These children need to get out! They have families! Stepanie could use your prayers and your support right now! Anything you can do would be appreciated! Let the media know to get down there to SEE what Unicef is actually doing. It is ugly, and it is typical for Unicef. I am so sick and tired of them! HELP IS NEEDED!

Sarah Now Adding:

It is no secret that UNICEF is staunchly against inter-country adoption. They have a long standing record of "getting involved" with countries, which then later shut down their inter-country adoption programs, leaving thousands of children stuck in the balance.

IMHO, UNICEF are big bullies when it comes to inter-country adoption.
They have no authority to stand at an airport and try to stop children from leaving.

Let's recount this here:
President Preval gave the O.K.
The Netherlands gave the O.K.
The U.S. State Department gave the O.K.
And all children at the airport, leaving, have had:
their documents reviewed, and
appropriate paperwork issued.
This is B.S., plain and simple.

SIMPLE THINGS YOU CAN DO:

* Have Twitter? Tweet on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, etc. UNICEF behaves VERY differently in front of the camera than off. Perhaps a camera or two needs to be placed upon these so-called "official reviewers"
* Contact your local media
* Put this on FaceBook

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Joy!


Baby Maisie is here!
Maisie is my newest niece.
Born this morning at 10:01 a.m.
I cannot wait to hold her.

Baby Maisie has an awesome big sister named Aristana.
Aristana is three.
My children love her.

Sometimes, Aristana jumps on their living couch,
which is perched right in front of their bay window.
Twice now, we have driven by Aunt Maggie's home,
to see little Aristana jumping
UP
and
DOWN
and
UP
and
DOWN
in the window.

My children are J-E-A-L-O-U-S.
Every time we drive by Aunt Maggies,
five little necks in my van crane to their fullest
to catch a glimpse of their jumping cousin.

Miles reaction upon seeing baby Maisie:
"Oh! Oh! Oh! Mama, mama, bebe pink! Bebe pink!
I never no see PINK bebe!"
I smiled and explained to him that when
blan babies are born, they are usually pretty pink.
He looked at me like I was CRAZY.
Shaking his head:
"No, no, no, Mama. You blan.
I black.
Baby PINK!
I know. I learn colors at school."

So there you have it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sew Cool

Hatfield is my oldest daughter.

She's 11.

In my opinion, she is a damn cool kid. She's happy; she cares for others; she's artistic; she's genuinely nice. She loves animals and they love her. She's at ease playing with her 3 year old cousin or her 12 year old best friend.

Being the oldest of 5, within that group two very active 5 year old boys and a drama-inclined 4 year old girl, is fun at times, and not easy at times.

I'm an oldest child. So is the Mister. So we try our best to remember our times as the oldest child.

Every evening, between 8 and 9, without fail, is Hatfield Time. Which is fine by me, because I really like hanging out with my girl each night.

Sometimes she and I will knit. Sometimes we play board games. Other times we'll eat ice cream and watch an episode from the 1970s Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series (gotta love those pantsuits on Parker Stevenson!) And we always end it two chapters from one of the original Nancy Drew Series.

Our newest activity these winter evenings is sewing. Jimmy bought Hatfield a sewing machine for Christmas (a real one--not one of the machines for kids).

Santa brought her this adorable sewing box (love the print!) full of sewing notions, along with a gift card to Hobby Lobby.

Hatfield picked a "Carrying Case" as her first sewing project. She had to determine the supplies she would need to purchase.

She did everything herself, from measuring, to cutting, to pinning and sewing. The only thing I did was set up the velcro on the right side of the fabric (right being the outside fabric, not in 'correct' side), instead of the wrong side, (the wrong side was the correct side.)

So she and I had to rip out the two pieces of Velcro, and then flip it over for her to re-sew. It took a lot of stitch ripping, and I felt horrible for making such a goof. It was a LOT of stitch-ripping, but Hattie took it all in stride.

See, I told you she was a cool kid.

And despite the little detour we had to take to fix mom's goof, she did one bang-up job!

Here is Hatfield, proudly displaying her first finished piece of sewing.

You have GOT to be kidding me. . . .

As if a 6.1 "aftershock" (here in the states, 6.1 is considered a full-blown earthquake, but whatever) isn't enough, get a load of this news update regarding the evacuation of orphan children (who have U.S. families waiting for them):

"JCICS further relayed that orphanage requests to the U.S. Embassy for security
and transportation for the children have been denied by the State Department.
The U.S. ministry associated with this orphanage, For His Glory Adoption
Outreach (FHG), was also asked to stop requesting security, transportation or
even water at the orphanage location. Following discussions with staff and
board members in Port-au-Prince, the difficult decision was made that all 133
children, including approximately 60 children under the age of 3, will begin
early in the morning of January 20th to walk the over 2 kilometers to the U.S.
Embassy Port-au-Prince. This decision was made due to the limited staff
available and the increasingly dangerous security situation at the orphanage in
Port-au-Prince. The staff will carry as much water, food and baby formula as
possible with them for the orphans while processing at the U.S. Embassy. JCICS
relayed that once processing is completed, the orphans will travel to the United
States on "cargo jets to locations that are not often known until an hour or so
before the flight leaves."

Kim Harmon, President of FHG, acknowledged that "this arrangement is far from
ideal for the safety and well-being of the children. We are calling to all who
care about these precious children to pray earnestly for their safety tomorrow.""

This isn't some daycare piling children in a buggy for a nice walk down a suburban street to a local municipal park.

Seriously, now I know how much this both grieves my heart for the safety of these children, as well as infuriates me with the complete idiocy of our government. I can only imagine how the waiting adoptive families feel with this latest development.

Please, please say a prayer for these children, orphanage staff and families today.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thankful

Jacci in OH posted this comment on my blog, offering her view on how to frame the context of our lives. I have found it tremendously helpful, and maybe you will too.

Last night I sat in front of my laptop bawling for all these reasons and more.

By the time I woke up this morning, the Lord had transformed my feelings of guilt to feelings of profound thankfulness.

Thankful that I could easily get clean water for my four children.
Thankful that they slept in warm, comfortable beds.
Thankful that I could give them breakfast that actually filled their tummies.
Thankful that I can be their mother - that they have a mother.
That they're all safe and here beside me.

We thank the Lord for our meals every time we sit down, but in the face of such devastation and need, this morning we thanked God Almighty from our hearts even more. All the time knowing our complete unworthiness, praying for those that experience a different providence.

This morning I AM thankful. More thankful for all these blessings in my life. More than I could ever have imagined, and far more than I could ever deserve.

Thank you, Jacci in OH, for taking the time to comment. I am very grateful to you!

Monday, January 18, 2010

How do you find normal again after a week like lasts?

For the past 6 days, the great majority, if not all, of my mind has been, at all times, in Haiti.

The suffering, the worry, the concern. It's always there. When you've been to a country, when you're children are from a country, how do you just let that go?

I'm incredibly concerned and worried about these two little fellas.

They are the birth siblings on one of my sons.

They live in Port au Prince.

We have NO understanding about what happened to these little boys, and the likelihood of us finding out any time remotely soon (if ever) is slim.

I realize that I can't sit and watch CNN forever. I can't spend my days scanning Twitter and FB for updates. Some sense of normal has to be found again.

People are really starting to irritate me with their whines and complaints about our very blessed lives here stateside. Like my husband's dingbat cousin this morning who used her Facebook page to publicly complain that she had already cleaned 2 bathrooms in her huge home, but she still had--gasp! the horrors!-- 2.5 more left to still clean.

It's a tough life, princess.

And I nearly wanted to vomit at reading the headline that the glamorous, post-Golden Globe parties were filled with celebrities bedazzled with jewels, an abundance of the finest cuisine and an overflow of liquor.

Yet, I do need to regain a sense of normalcy here at home for my childrens' sake. So this morning I dusted off their ChorePacks, and we've resumed chores, music lessons and homeschool. We'll check in with the news on our breaks. We'll continue to donate and try to encourage others to donate. We'll keep on writing to our state's representatives, asking them for their help in bringing home all orphans matched with a family.

It's hard not to feel guilty, that while we resume our quiet, comfortable life, Haiti is out there.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Anticipated Homecomings

Time for Praise and Prayer.

Many adoptive families have received word that their Haitian children are being evacuated. They are hereby being placed "on call" for a near-future pickup.

This includes Dear Jill and Brent and their Haitian daughter, Amandine.

PRAISE GOD!!

Many of the orphanage situations are dire and desperate. These evacuations cannot come a moment too soon.

Some other countries have not yet begun evacuation procecedures. Children will remain in these precarious situations, and many, many more children have been made orphans by the earthquake.

Please, please keep these children and families in your prayers, both those who are staying and those who are being evacuated. This entire situation needs to be covered in prayer.

Please pray for:

* The evacuation's logistical planning to go smoothly.
* Safety for these children in their travels.
* Peace of mind and heart for these children in this insanely tumultuous time.
* That ALL children who have a family, from all countries, are able to go home.
* For ALL needs to be met for the children who remain in the orphanages.

This week has been exhausting. Mentally, emotionally, physically. And I'm just here in the states watching it from afar. I read the accounts of people in Haiti, and my heart breaks. I cannot imagine going through what they are going through.

Watching the dire conditions of several orphanages and its children on Fox News nearly did me in. I recognized the children of friends.

What the devil may try to do for our harm, the Lord can use for our Good. His ways are mysterious, His timing is not always for us to understand. But, finally, in this entirely awful situation, here is some good. Children are being united with their families. And for that, I will give praise and be grateful.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Their First Home

Every adoptive child has their own, unique pre-placement experience.
Some good.
Some not so good.
Some downright horrific.

While I don't like sharing everything I know about my boys because it is their story,
I feel this is a bit of their story that is important to share.

My boys, together, entered Les Petits Anges de Chantal (PAC) creche
at a very, very young age.


Neither son has memories or recollections of their birth family.

While in Haiti, PAC was Miles' and Keenan's HOME.
For the vast majority of their little lives.
They were among the first children Marie France took in.

When they came to live with us, they mourned having left behind PAC.

The other children in the orphanage were siblings to them.

The nannies were stand-in parents to them.

Both boys speak affectionately of their time in Haiti.
They love looking at photos at the orphanage.

For having grown up in an orphanage, my sons came home in good shape. I attribute this to the care they received at the orphanage. Miles was nearly off the charts for his weight/height. Keenan, who had some stomach ailments, was still strong and healthy, given their circumstance of being raised in an orphanage in the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

Neither boy has a single cavity. The both brush their teeth thoroughly in exactly the same manner. Our dentist was shocked at the great condition and health of their teeth. Given the fact that my little guys didn't even have many teeth upon entering the orphanage, I again attribute this to the care they received while at PAC.

When the Mister went to Haiti, each time, to retrieve our sons, the grief their leaving caused Marie was real. He said it was tremendously difficult to watch the pain mixed in with her joy. She had my boys from nearly the start.

They were her babies, too.

Was everything there perfect? By no means! Could their care have been better by American standards? Sure. But we consider our boys lucky to have had the start that they did.

If it is in your heart, there are several ways to give to our orphanage.

First, you can sign the petition in the below post. Help get the children who are assigned homes, home. Where they belong. And helping free up space in the orphanage allows new children to be cared for and placed.

Second, if you have any loose change (or bills) lying around, you can GIVE to our orphanage directly.

Celebrate Children International is our adoption agency that works directly with our orphanage. You can earmark your donation for Marie France Simon/PAC/Haiti.

and

The PAC Haiti Recovery Fund will also give directly to our orphanage.

The recovery needs of our orphanage and Haiti will be long lasting. Food, water, medicine, diesel will be in short supply/high demand for a long time to come.

For those of you who know Miles and Keenan, you know what healthy, beautiful, loving boys they are. If it is in your heart, please help those who helped give our boys the head start of life, in the middle of Haiti.

Blessings,
Sarah and Family

Friday, January 15, 2010

Help cont'd. . .

Ever wonder why the boys and I sound like?

You can watch Miles, Keenan and myself, along with my dear BFF Jill here!

Our church has had a change of heart regarding the Haiti situation and has asked us to write a letter to accompany a plea for collection to help the relief recovery and our orphanage. Praise God! The help is SO desperately needed, as food/water/diesel/building supplies will be in high demand/short supply in the weeks and months ahead. We are so proud and grateful that our church community has chosen to pitch in!

Many adopting families with children stuck in Haiti are on their knees in prayer today and would be so grateful if you were to join them. There is a large meeting this morning with government officials, trying to find a solution and way to bring these children home to the United States. This disaster is going to increase the number of orphans in an already overwhelmed country, so let's get the children who already have families home so that the orphanages can take in other souls.

Please consider signing this petition to do so, found here:

The petition states:
To the US Government and US State Department - Legally adopted children of Americans are currently stuck in Haitian orphanages, many of which are destroyed or damaged and without food and water. These are legal children of American citizens, whose adoption has already been approved and finalized by the Haitian government prior to the 1-12-09 earthquake, but have been waiting for Haiti to print a passport or the US government to issue a visa. But now, with Haitian government buildings destroyed and the country in chaos, this is not possible. By signing this petition, we ask that the US government take action by immediately issuing visas to these children so that they may travel to join their families in the US, who love and are invested in these children. Evacuate the already adopted children so that they do not die in the aftermath of the earthquake! Letting the legally adopted children leave Haiti on emergency visas will open space in orphanages for newly orphaned children who will likely die on the streets without care. Issue visas now!
(Petition open until 1-25-10 at which time it will be sent to US State Department.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Help for Haiti

When our family adopted Miles and Keenan, we adopted Haiti, too.

We take the fact that our boys are from Haiti very seriously. It is our sincere desire and we put a lot of effort into making sure they keep their homeland in their hearts and minds.

For the years that we were in process with our boys, we watch Haiti suffer through political violence and hurricanes. Many times we hoped and thought, Where is the world? Why aren't people aware?

Unfortunately, it took an Earthquake 7.0 to grab the World's Attention.

Yesterday while talking with my mother, she encouraged us to Speak Up. To help put a REAL and Local face to this disaster in our local (very sheltered) corner of the world. To perhaps inspire or encourage others to give to Disaster Relief Efforts when they might not otherwise have done so.

So yesterday I took the paper up on their desire to find local families affected by the Earthquake. Dear Jill, whose 7 year old daughter Amandine is still in Haiti, their adoption halted now, also was interviewed by the paper.

And this morning, my boys adorable little faces are gracing the front page. And I pray that their little Haitian faces will help other open their hearts to give.

http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/article/20100114/GPG0101/301140154/1978/frontpage/Haiti-disaster-hits-home-for-Allouez-families-Green-Bay-doctor

Already, my phone is ringing off the hook and my email is filling up with people asking what organization to donate to or how to give money to our particular orphanage.

We also contacted our Church and Cliff's company for help. While our church decided to pass on our plea for an additional offering to help the people of Haiti (and we're working very hard on trying to be Christian about this and approach the rejection with a loving and forgiving heart), Cliff's company COMPLETELY stepped up to the plate.

Next week they have a National Training Meeting in Atlanta for the launch of a new drug. Cliff's company always sponsors a "Wear Jeans for a Donation of $20" day during the training (these are big meetings with a lot of people). This year, they are going to donate all of that money to an Earthquake Relief fund. We are so grateful and pleased that they are doing this.

We try very hard to teach our children that in the light of resistance, to never give up. To teach them that ONE person can make a difference. I would encourage every adoptive family out there to open up their homes for a day, to share their story with others about their families and their precious children from Haiti (or still in Haiti). Because the likelihood of your inspiring others to give by your putting a 'real' face on this tragedy is pretty good.

For now, we are exhausted. Our hearts and minds hurt. We stayed up watching Anderson Cooper until midnight last night. We cried until we were cried out, and we were left with the exhausted, lingering headache.

Many good organizations are out there:

**Yele Haiti- Wyclef Jean's Haitian relief fund.
**You can text Haiti 90999 and it will give $10 to the Red Cross (and be added to your next cell bill.
** Celebrate Children International-- This is our adoption agency. They will give money directly to our orphanage, Petits Anges de Chantal.
** Real Hope for Haiti
** The Red Cross
** World Vision

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Heartsick

UPDATE: Someone was able to get in touch with Veneil Jean from Wall's International Guest House and reports that Veniel and his family are okay. Please keep them in your prayers.

This is a Before/After Photo of the Haitian National Palace (the equivalent of our White House.) This building was a source of great pride for the Haitian people.




UPDATED TO ADD:
Our friend Veniel runs Walls Guest House on Delmas in Port au Prince. He lives their with his beautiful wife, daughter Venika, age 4, and their brand new 10-day old baby girl. The Main Building of the guest house collapsed yesterday. No one has yet seen or heard from them. Please, Please PLEASE pray for this wonderful man and his beautiful family, and for all the guests at Walls.


I have been glued to the computer and news, absolutely heartsick over the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

Our orphanage is in Port au Prince. As of this morning, we are unaware of anyone who has been able to get in touch with our orphanage director, Marie. Our orphanage is on Delmas, one of the main roads in Port au Prince. News reports said that more buildings were done than up on that road.

I have many friends whose children still wait at that orphanage. One of our sons has siblings there. I have friends in the country right now.

Please, please be on your knees in prayer. Please consider giving your month's eating out or takeout money to an organization that will give 100% of donations directly to Haiti without taking any out for administrative costs (please contact me if you need help finding a place to give!)

I cannot even imagine it. This is a country whose medical system could not support the country even when the country was relatively stable. This is a country with no fire stations. The city of Port au Prince does not have a brigade of bulldozers sitting on the side to come in and remove rubble. Overwhelmed does not even begin to cover it.

The Livesay Family link on the right is the family blog of Troy and Tara Livesay, an expat family with children living in Haiti. Please click on it and send them your support and prayers.

UPDATE: An agency has been in contact with Marie France. The children are fine and accounted for. They slept out in the street last night because of the aftershocks. Not all of the staff, however, is accounted for. Please, please continue your prayer for our Haitian babies and all of the people there.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Six Months Home

As of this past Sunday, our Miles has been
home Six Months.
As in, half of a year.

Crazy, huh?



The sheer amount of Growth that can occur
in a mere 6 months is amazing.
Height, weight, hair, language.
Amazing.

Miles rarely communicates in Kreyol.
He still holds onto the word "machine" for car
and "ti bo" for kiss,
but that's about it.

His English is astounding.
And when he doesn't quite catch an Engligh word,
he will make up a word (or sound) in it's place.

At the K-4 Christmas program,
Miles sang LOUDER than the ENTIRE class combined.
When he didn't know the words
(which was often)
he would LOUDLY sing "la la na fa" or "humdee dee doo."
It was adorable
and precious
and my heart nearly broke with pride and adoration.

Miles talks ALL of the time.
Even when he is playing in a room by himself.
He has long and lovely conversations with his toys,
and the Mister and I find it quite endearing.

Miles belly laugh gets deeper each week,
and it is contagious.
You can't hear it and not feel joy in your heart.
It's simply not possible.

He is a fearless little boy when it comes to sports.
We went sledding on Saturday,
and before anyone else even got their sled out,
there was Miles,
going down the BIG hill with a snow ramp at the bottom of it.
He FLEW off the ramp,
and did a mid-air sideroll with his sled.
He landed with a huge WHUMPH.

Our boy got up laughing.
"Oooh whooo! Look at Miles! I a Snow Man!" he howled,
snow sticking to every inch of him.

Miles.
Our boy.
Home Six Months.
We are so very blessed, indeed.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Playing Hooky

Last week was not fun.

The kids were challenging.
The Mister was out of state.
And I had
(and still have)
an achy flu-bug of sorts.

This weekend, though, was pretty fun.
We sledded.
We bowled.
We completely neglected the house.

Tonight I decided to go grocery shopping.
I didn't want to go.
But the noise level in the house was killing me.
The mess in the house was killing me.
And I really needed a break from the kids.
But I was feeling achy and tired.
And I really didn't want to go.

So I got in the car and began driving towards the grocery store.
Although my car went in the Opposite Direction.
Over the river and through the mall parking lot.
To the movie theatre I rarely go to,
where I suddenly found myself parked.

"Screw it" I said to the grocery shopping.
I gave the Mister a quick update
(and received my Noble Knight's blessing.)
I bought my ticket.
My popcorn.
And my Non-Diet Cherry Pepsi.

Sometimes,
a full pantry isn't the best way to go into the week.

Sometimes,
Playing Hooky
and the restoration
relaxation and
recharging it brings
is the best way to go.

So that's exactly what I did.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Look who's 37!

Happy Birthday to our Beloved Mister, who turned 37 yesterday!

True to family tradition, we began our day with Presents

and Cake.

And true to family tradition, my camera batteries decided to die out moments before the early a.m. shindig began. And I was too tired and cold to hike it out to my van to get the battery charger (because doesn't everyone keep their charger in their car?)

To celebrate the occasion, I made the Pioneer Woman's Red Velvet Cake. Which is probably the best cake I have ever made. Ever.

If you have someone you really, truly love in this world, make them this cake.

You should always make your loved ones cakes from scratch, IMHO. If you don't, that's okay, but seriously, it's not like you don't have 365 days in advance warning to prepare for your loved one's birthdays.

How hard is a little preparation to show someone just how much you care?

Because a from-scratch cake is in a league of it's own. You can't compare.

That's my "Bake A Cake from Scratch" soapbox. Forgive me. I'll hop down now.

The kids were so excited to celebrate Daddy's birthday. Until now, it's been only celebrating children birthdays, and sometimes, little ones become envious of the attention and gifts doted upon a sibling. So sometimes, birthdays become a day of great dysregulation. And we all know just how much fun that isn't.

With Daddy's birthday, everyone was in good spirits. Happy to celebrate. Happy to eat cake. Happy to have a good day.

All the children adore Daddy. We are very, very blessed to have a Daddy who's main priority in life is the welfare/upbringing of his children.

The Mister cares about each child for who that child is. Not who he wants them to be.

The Mister believes each of our children are gifted and magnificent, and he works with them so that they can see just how valuable they truly are.

He doesn't force his hobbies and interests upon our children.

He doesn't force his beloved Spam upon their plates and palates.

And he doesn't demand control of the remote when he is in their presence. The man has watched enough Little Einsteins and Special Agent Oso to earn his rightful spot in Disney-free heaven.

I adore the Mister too. He was my knight in shining armor 10 years ago, and he still is today. The Mister was out of state for the majority of this week. And my one lil' defiantoso REALLY gave me challenge after challenge after challenge all week long.

By the time the Mister arrived home Thursday night, I was nearly down for the count. But the Mister swept into the house, gave me a kiss that made my knees weak, hugged the children, and laid down the law for lil' defiantoso.

Peace had been restored.

God Bless this Sheriff.

Happy Birthday, Babe.
We love ya!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Threat of a Sledgehammer Works Wonders

My home was built in 1975. Which was a GREAT year. Except for the unenlightened kitchen architecture.

Here is a snapshot of the food prep area of my kitchen: a "u" shaped configuration of cabinets. The attached island, "peninsula" if you will, was finished off with a large set cabinets hanging above them (immediately behind me.)

Cabinets which were, for all practical purposes, a huge, PITA obstruction. I hated the fact that it divided the kitchen into two small, poorly lit halves which prevented the flow of light, vision and air.

Plus, the cabinets' low stature accounted for countless forehead goose eggs, several bleeding cuts, 2 minor concussions and the childrens' premature exposure to a whole slew of swears from the mouths of their dazed and confused parents who had unfortunately just cracked their head on the *@#&(&# cabinet for the billionth time.

So on New Year's Day, in 2009, I decided that the island cabinets needed to go. Bye bye.

If you had seen the Mister's reaction to my announcement, you'd think I was asking him to remove his left gonad instead of an erroneously placed cabinet.

I was *highly* irritated.

But being the good wifey that I am, I kept my mouth shut (because pouting, after all, requires few words.) Instead of harping at him, I would take him to friend's homes where similar poorly thought-out cabinets were removed by wise, intelligent homeowners.

"Look at how wonderfully spacious Debbie's kitchen is," I'd coo. Or, I'd enthuse "can you believe how open Jill's kitchen feels without those cabinets there? I bet it added some great resale value to their home!"

But with this New Year creeping up and the cooing and enthusing getting me nowhere, I decided to change my approach. Time for a little hardball.

After returning home from an evening of drinking wine and visiting with Jill, I remarked to my Mister,

"Jill said that if you aren't up to the task of taking the cabinets down, she'd come over with her sledgehammer. We figure with my power drill and her sledgehammer, we can get those bad boys out in no time flat."

My dear friend Jill is an AWESOME woman and everyone should have a friend like Jill. I love her. She is a gifted home decorator, upgrader and renovator. She rips down shower tile with abandon, and she'll take out and replace huge light fixtures on her own. She even does crazy ass but completely brilliant things like drill an old-fashioned pencil sharpener into her kitchen counter, because she has 5 kids and daycare and they're the only things that work. A move which I plan to replicate, but only on the counter on the office counter and not a kitchen counter.

Did I mention that I love her?

Well, wouldn't you know it, but just by putting the words JILL and SLEDGEHAMMER and POWER DRILL and KITCHEN CABINETS into one little sentence, and the Mister was on the phone not more than 3 minutes later, consulting with my stepdad on the best way to remove the cabinets and when he would be available to come over and help.

Originally, the Mister and I were only going to empty the cabinets ourselves, and then Boppa and the Mister were going to take the cabinets down the next morning.

But looking at those ugly ol' empty cabinets, do you think I could possibly resist the challenge that lay ahead?

So in the spirit of independence, I convinced the Mister that we could totally do it. (I might have added in there that watching him use power tools makes me all hot and bothered, but personally, I think it was the independent spirit speech that hooked him.)

So here's my man using his (my) power drill.

We took off the molding. We undrilled the SIX screws holding the ENTIRE cabinet up. Six not-that-big, unanchored screws. That's all. Not attached to the wall. Not attached to the other cabinets. Just six screws stuck up in the ceiling.

Which completely caught the Mister and I off guard.

WHOMPH!!!!


The whole thing crashed down. Fortunately, it stayed in one piece. And fortunately, the Mister's finger wound did not require an ER visit.

Afterwards, we had the boys pose with the removed cabinet and power tools. Because boys like stuff like that.

Miles and Keenan are Muscle Men.

Atticus is all, "Holy chita! Did I do that?!?"

And VIOLA! The finished results!

A bright, open, airy space.

So now I can be at my computer desk and see what my little felons are up to in the family room.

I can sit in the family room and spy on the Mister to make sure he isn't downloading illegally obtained MMA/UFC fights from Russian websites.

Which is why, I'm sure, he was opposed to me removing the cabinet in the first place.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Good Choice/Bad Choice. . .What'll it be today, son?

Our largest post-placement struggle with our boys revolves around the issue of defiance. I wrote a post here about one episode of defiance, and listed a book that has helped Cliff and I even know where to begin when dealing with defiance.

With both sons, their "main" defiance method initially appeared as a complete refusal to answer us. We initially handled it with "Time Ins." (Which I still use on occasion.) One son actually sat at the kitchen table for nearly 3 freakin' days before willingly answering us and apologizing to their sister. He's the one who is, quite seriously, the most stubborn person Cliff and I have ever met. Our other little guy sat at the table for about 3 hours before he cracked and decided to answer us.

Since then, both boys rarely not answer us. Both willingly respond. Hooray! Victory! We're getting through to them, right?

HOWEVER, they have since employed some new tactics.

New Defiance Tactic #1: Respond in an inaudible, mumble-jumble voice. Otherwise known as "Repohn pa-jaunti" ("Answering Not Nicely." We are probably desecrating the Kreyol language, but the boys understand the phrase and concept, so we stick with it.")

One boy of ours, however, has recently added a new twist to this: made-up words in Kreyol. He'll speak audibly when we ask him, but the words are nonsense words.

When the boys choose to answer incoherently, we always explain to them that Mommy can't hear you. Please speak Nice and Loud and Clear like you do when you ask for a cookie. Because we all know how Nice and Loud and Clear that particular request is.

If they change their ways, we praise them. Great choice! Whohoo! We make a big to-do to show them how good Good choices make us feel.

If they don't, we will explain to them that the Good Choice would be to answer nicely. The Bad Choice would be to answer not nicely, because then we cannot hear them. We tell them how important they are to us, that what they say is important to us, and that we want to know their answer. At this point, we'll lay out the consequence if they chose to answer not nicely again. We then give them the chance to say it again.

New Defiance Tactic #2: Respond with the incorrect answer.
Typically, they strive to have the most Out-of-Space, Have-Nothing-to-do-with-the-Topic-at-Hand answer possible.

An example: the other morning, I had given one boy the task of cleaning up the billion Hot Wheels cars on their bedroom floor while Atticus and the other son put away the clean laundry. The child with the car chore was clearly not happy. Which is okay. You don't have to like everything.

He finished the job, and I said, "Please pick up those three stuffed animals so you can set the car box right by the end of your bed."

He picked up the stuffed animals. And then proceeded to shove the car box underneath the headboard area of Atticus' bunk bed.

Ahhhh, my dear son. "____, where did Mommy ask you to put the car box?"

Nonverbal, he pointed to Atticus' bunk bed. "No, Mommy didn't ask you to place them under Atticus' bed. Where did Mommy ask you to place them?"

He just stares at me. He knows exactly where I asked him. Instead, he now points at the top bunk on Atticus' bed. "No, I'm afraid that Mommy didn't ask you to put them there either. Mommy just had you do something, so you could put the cars in their rightful place. What did Mommy just have you do?"

"Fold laundry."
"Ahhh, no."
"Pick up the cars."
"Ahhh, no, after you cleaned up all the cars. What did Mommy have you do?"
"Brush teeth."
"Nice try."
"Eat dinner."
"Not at 9 am, sorry."

What fun, I tell you.

At this point, we began to talk about Good Choice and Bad Choice. Answering Mom with the right answer when we know it is the Good Choice. Answering Mom with a Bad Answer when we know the Right Answer is a Bad Choice.

"And what happens when you choose a Bad Choice?" I ask.
"Consequence."
"Yes! Consequence. Mommy does not like to give out consequences, because they are NO fun. I will tell you, if you choose to make a Bad Choice and give Mommy the wrong answer, you will have no Build-A-Bear toys for the rest of the day. Now, I know that you are a wonderful and smart son. I know that you have a good heart and can make Good Choices. So tell Mommy, what did you do after you cleaned up the cars?"

"Take a bath." was the answer.

Thump. I banged my head against the wall (figuratively.)

"I'm sorry, but that was the wrong answer. Please go bring your Build-a-Bear bin to Mommy."

Once I had the Build-a-Bears, I start again. "Please make a Good Choice here. If you are going to make a bad choice, then you will not be playing in the basement the rest of the day. So tell Mommy the right answer: what did you do after you cleaned up the cars?"

Answer: "Go sleigh-ing in the snow."

Thump, Thump, Thump.

"Are you telling me that you just went outside and played in the snow, and then came back inside, got undressed, came upstairs and shoved the toy cars underneath Atticus' bed?"

"No."

"I didn't think so. I'm afraid that you will not be playing in the basement for the rest of the day."

We then got to a point where we told him that if he was going to continue to make the bad choice of telling the wrong answer or lying instead of giving the correct response, then Daddy was going to stay home with him and he was not going to go to the Pizza Party we were having at a friend's house. "So tell Mommy, what did you do after you cleaned up the cars?"

Quick, loud, articulate answer: "I moved the stuffed animals so I can put cars here." He then ran and got the cars and put them on the bed. "Can I go Pizza Party now?"

EVERY part of my being wanted to scream, No! No you can't! You are driving me bonkers here, little boy! You can't go because I'm angry and I want you to suffer through displeasure the way you are making me!

But, I didn't. Because in reality, he was told the consequence, and then given the choice of whether or not he wanted to make the Bad Choice or Good Choice. He accepted the consequence of the previous Bad Choices, and then made the Good Choice to answer appropriately so he would not have that consequence.

Instead, we gave the whole spiel about how he did the right thing by making a good choice. We went through the situation again, reiterating his bad choices and subsequent consequences, and then we highlighted his Good Choice. And didn't his Good Choice make him proud and make him feel good?

Of course, we then felt good because we got through, and that's a success.

But of course, we went through the whole she-bang the next day with something else.

So I'm not quite sure if the defiant behaviors are escalating, or evolving? My gut tells me that they're not escalating, because they seem to drop that behavior once they realize it won't work. But I think they're evolving in the fact that they are still in the "Testing" phase, and they need to find new ways to test us.

The whole Good Choice/Bad Choice/Testing thing is exhausting. EXHAUSTING. Truthfully, I never in a thousand years thought it would be this exhausting. But it is.

If it sounds like I'm making light of a situation, or am 'labeling' my sons negatively by calling them little boogers, please know that I'm not. I find it helpful to keep a sense of humor in these situations, because otherwise I would be bogged down by this exhaustion.

And besides, I would never call them boogers to their faces.

Because I love these little boogers. And Lord help me, I am their Mother and I need a whole lotta divine assistance and intervention. Because it.is.tough somedays.

Which is why I bang my head only figuratively. Because otherwise, I'd probably have a permanent concussion by now.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Ushering in a New Era

Happy New Year!

Not only a new year, a new decade. And for me, a new era of sorts.

This year, my children are ALL home. No more adoption wait. No more wondering if this is the month, the season, the year. For the first full year since 2006 (because we started the process at the beginning of 2007), I have no more mother's turmoil, worrying about dear children in a country far, far away.

I find the amount of emotional and mental energy freed up once the boys were home to be mind-boggling. It seems like for the first time in forever, I can just live in the moment.

And after 33 months of living "when the boys come home, we can. . ." living in the moment is a breath of fresh air. A pretty darn wonderful breath of fresh air.

This year, my baby turns five. FIVE. I have no baby, no toddler in my home. For the past decade, I've pretty much always had a baby or a toddler in the home. But no longer. And we have no immediate, or any, sort of plans to bring a baby or toddler into our home anytime soon.

With 5 children ages 4-11, our family will be able to do so many things all together. This summer we will be able to take family bike rides, with 7 bikes. Or we can go to an amusement park, and no one will need to sit beside a stroller. No booster seats at restaurants. Heck, for the first time we can go to a restaurant without the fear of a tantrum or food fight.

The Mister and I find this to be an exciting time. To have no obligations or distractions other than what is right in front of us. To be able to concentrate and aim to live according to our values and beliefs. We have not felt this settled and at peace in a long time.

We wish you all a time of peace and joy in this new year. For my friends who are enduring the long, hard wait for your children, we wish you a speedy process. Please know that I am always praying for the process, the children waiting to go home, and for peace to surround Haiti.

Blessings!
Sarah

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Don't Diss the Spid-a-Mon

The addition of Miles and Keenan to our family basically created a set of Irish triplets, as my y0ungest three children have a birthday within 10 months of each other. For a few months every summer all four of them are the same age, and right now both Miles and Keenan are 5, and if you ask Paloma, she is "Almost 5."

Our three wake up at the same time each morning. They get dressed at the same time and come downstairs together. Miles and Paloma are chatterboxes, and Keenan always has something to throw in for good measure.

Miles and Paloma often sound like an old married couple. Keenan and Miles, who share a very tight bond, often sound like Felix and Oscar because they are just so different in personality and thought process, yet so joined at the hip.

Listening to them talk amongst themselves each morning is one of my favorite times of day. Quite often their conversations are hilarious. And each conversation gives me a little peak into their personality that you don't otherwise see in all Mommy-child conversations.

Most mornings, their conversations are civil bickering. A recent conversation though, I thought, was nearly going to come to blows.

We were watching Spiderman (Miles' favorite) while I was working on Miles' hair.

Paloma, not a Spidey fan, remarked with great disdain: "I don't like Spiderman. He toots."

Miles was instantly horrified. "Spid-a-mon no toot, Pah-Low-Ma!" he gasped.

Paloma looked as smug as a Cheshire Cat, continued. "Yes he does. He toots. It's disgusting."

"No, he no toot, Pah-Low-Mah! Spid-a-mon . . . saves people!"

"Yes he does toot, Miles. Spiderman toots when he puts on his silly costume in his costume closet. Toot. Toot. Toot. He's stinky and yucky."

At this point, had I not been working on Miles' hair, I think he would have charged Paloma from across the room.

"SPID-A-MON NO Toot! Spid-a-mon saves people. Spid-a-mon (here Miles does his Spidey hand web thingy with the appropriate sound effect) Spid-A-Mon not stinky! You DON'T KNOW Spidey, Pah-Low-Mah"

Satisfied that she had gotten her point across and aggrieved her brother for the day, Paloma skipped off to play Littlest Pet Shop.

Miles continued to watch his Spid-a-Mon, all the while muttering quietly, "Spid-a-mon no toot. Spid-a-mon good. Not stinky. Good."

I still laugh every time I think of that conversation. Watching the two of them interact, you would think that they were brother and sister from the start. Slowly, but surely, it is really beginning to feel that way to me too.