Friday, February 27, 2009

3D

We had such a great time in Texas! No hurricanes or spiders the size of my head--but I do believe they exist! As I sit here pondering our great visit I am reminded of the importance of visiting those I love--in their own space.

Luckily, my sister comes here fairly often but I haven't been there in years. And it really hit me this time--there are profound aspects of their lives I can't experience from here--meeting their friends, watching their sports, attending book club with neighbors. Seeing those I love in the comfort of their own home brings me the simplest of pleasures: watching my niece work on a pioneer project, my nephew celebrate a win in flag football (against my sister and me) or my other niece loading up all the little boys then driving off to Sonic for an ice cream treat.

I don't get to see these things when chatting over the phone, through e-mail or even when they visit me here.

It's the difference between 2D and 3D.

3D is way cooler than 2D.

My kids couldn't get enough of this:
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My nephew ready for lacrosse
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My niece and kids on the train:
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My nephew's teacher lets her class use these cool balls instead of chairs:
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Lasertag birthday party:
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My sister and her husband with a talent for making us feel at home. Seriously, my kids could do ANYTHING and it wouldn't bother them. Patrick spilled a big bowl of cereal and he came upstairs to me and said that Auntie could clean up ANYTHING and she didn't even CARE and that is why she ISN'T just an Aunt, she's an AUNTIE:
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How to have the best flight ever--call me a bad mother but I sure enjoyed reading an ENTIRE book AND taking a nap:
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Monday, February 23, 2009

SUN

Let's see . . .
sun
fun at playgrounds
walks along the river
kite festival
train ride
sun
hot tub and pool
friends
family
BBQ
sun
book club
dinner with some VERY funny Texas women
flag football
birthday party with laser tag
children able to play outside for HOURS
sun
not to mention:
cheap gas
cheap houses
excellent schools
SUN

Can someone please explain to me why I don't live in TX? Why do I live where it RAINS most of the year?

Right now, I'm wondering folks. I really am. It's a good thing half my family is back home or ya'll might never see me again!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Riddle Answer

Ahhhh! You guys are too smart! I should have used my original clue:

More Wonderbras are sold here than anywhere else in the nation . . . LOL! Hey, they say everything's bigger in Texas!

I am at my sister's house with our three youngest--just for FUN! And we are having lots of it. Updates and pictures later. We are now off to meet some friends who also adopted from VN.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Riddle

Guess where I am?

It has 28 stars but it's known for just one.

Put your thinkin' caps on!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Multi-tasking

It seems our ten yo has inherited his mother's propensity for time management and dove-tailing--doing at least two things at the same time.



Yes, he is playing Guitar Hero with his feet while simultaneously eating ice cream.

Should I call Hollywood?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Betty Crocker's Dead

Remember how well Betty's menu plan was going? Remember those delicious recipes?

I'm sorry to inform you, but Betty died. We had company last weekend so Betty didn't make her Sunday base meal (she went out to eat which was a lot more fun!). She did make spaghetti on Monday . . . but it was all downhill from there.

Tues was Dino Nuggets, Wed--grilled cheese sandwiches and Campbell's tomato soup. Thursday Betty bought Costco deli pizza and on Friday--take-and-bake pizza. Saturday there was a delicious meal of red foods in honor of Valentine's Day--but it was prepared by Lizzy so Betty can't take any credit.

Today Betty decided to go to her parents' house. She was originally going to make a turkey but decided to go eat their food instead--which was very yummy (and free).

Since Betty did not make her Sunday base meal, it looks like Betty's going to remain on the back burner for another week.

Isn't Betty Crocker over-rated anyway?

Here is the transformation of Betty over the years:
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Here's Betty this week. FREE AT LAST!
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She looks a lot happier than those other Betty's--don't you think?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Forever And Ever

We had Vu's US adoption ceremony! He was legally adopted in VN but still had his VNese name. It was a wonderful ceremony and he is now an offical part of the Crazy family. A new birth certificate will be issued in his American name with Eric and I listed as parents.

We had the courtroom to ourselves and the judge took thirty minutes to explain to our kids the history of circuit court judges, branches of government, the making of laws etc. We then had a mock trial with our kids in which "Bob" stole several chickens. (It took some time for us to explain this to Vu after the ceremony. He was confused what Bob stealing chickens had to do with changing his name.)

Paul was "Bob" and Kim was his attorney.
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Lizzy was the prosecuting attorney and Vu and Patrick were witnesses. Vu even got to take the witness stand.
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Then we did the actual ceremony. Vu got to bang the gavel. The judge explained to him that he would be in our family even when he was a teenager, even when he was fifty, even when he was one hundred!

Vu gave a big grin and said he would be in our family, "Forever and ever, even when we die and go to heaven!" He then looked out in the courtroom and gave his grandparents and our social worker a thumbs up and a huge grin! I was dry-eyed until that point!
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I don't know if it's "judicially" correct to post pictures of the judge, so I won't, but here's Vu after the ceremony:
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As a side note, Vu loves his American name of Luke. He has two middle names--his VNese name and his baseball player name which is after Cal Ripken Jr. (a family tradition). And the best part of all, our whole family now shares the same last name!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It's Not Fair

I knew he would be sad. I knew he would grieve. I knew he would be confused and emotional and frustrated. What I didn't know was how angry he would be.

I expected him to be angry at me for taking him away from everyone and everything he had ever loved. He's not. But he is angry at me for a reason I never expected--for taking so long to come and get him.

Many kids repress their memories of life in the orphanage. It's a coping mechanism, one that draws a line between before and after; an electric fence that protects.

Some kids keep snapshots or let memories creep out in dreams.

And then some are like Vu. He talks about Vietnam every . single . day. His memories are as bright as a golden dragon--and as dark as a dung beetle. He was loved. He was also left. Over, and over, and over, again.

Vu was raised in the orphanage from the time he was a baby. He grew up with four other children, all the same age and for four years they slept together, ate together, played together. They were like siblings. And there were other children too, many living in foster care, but visiting the orphanage often enough to be close friends. There were babies and toddlers Vu loved--one of his favorite things to do was go play with the babies in the baby room.

And then Vietnam reopened bringing a tapestry of joy interwoven with grief. One by one Vu's beloved friends and babies left; piece by piece, his heart left too. The orphanage began to empty out leaving Vu feeling like the last kid to be chosen for the playground team.

His saddest memory was when Mr. Personality left. Vu tells me, "After he left every day, every day, I had to sleep ALL ALONE! And I was scared!" Vu rarely cries. Vu cries when he tells me this story. I cry too. I cry just writing this.

Vu tells me it's not fair. It's not fair he was left behind. It's not fair that everyone's mom came and his did not. My feeble explanations fall upon ears unable to understand, a mind too young to comprehend, a heart too broken with hurt and ultimately, words cannot explain what even I do not understand. What matters is the truth.
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His friends had a Mommy.

He did not.

And it's not fair.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Menu Part 3--Recipes

I have two posts of substance being constructed at present--written in my brain which means by tomorrow I may not remember. One is my best advice for parenting newly adopted children and the other is anger in adopted children.

Time is my nemesis, today will be filled with a special day with my godson (we are going to a new museum), a birthday dinner for Kim, and writing a paper about the movie The Constant Gardner. Have you seen this movie? It is set in Africa so would be of special interest to those adopting from a beautiful continent with beautiful people.

Today you get a post which was already written--I've now added pics. It continues on with the menu idea (still working well). I keep a running grocery list that ties into my menu plan and yes, I let my oldest do most of the grocery shopping which is AWESOME!

Here's what we had last Sunday for dinner:
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Here's what it really looked like:
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LOL, actually, I didn't take a picture but roast chicken is so easy to do in a crockpot or roaster pan or even a cake pan in the oven. I just cover it with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder. Yum!
Lizzy made this cake:
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Angel biscuits--you bake some--
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and freeze some, uncooked, for later. They can be taken right from the freezer and baked.
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Here's a recipe for ANGEL BISCUITS.

My recipe is slightly different. I use 2 cubes of butter and no shortening. I also use 3 teas. of baking powder and only 1 teas. of salt.

I double the recipe, bake half then freeze half, already cut out. I freeze on cookie sheets, then, once frozen, put in ziplocks. I bake frozen on cookie sheets at 400 about 20 minutes. These can make the simplest meal yummy!

On Tues we had my sister's Chicken Pot Pie recipe. Best EVER! Use leftover chicken from Sunday. It's easy with Pillsbury pre-rolled crust (in the refrigerated section by the canned biscuits). You can also make two and freeze one for later--freeze uncooked. I use all frozen mixed veggies and no potatoes.
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On Thursday we had my Mom's chicken noodle soup.
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I used Sunday's chicken carcass to make the broth. I did not have any Reame's frozen egg noodles--they make it esp. good.
My sister already posted the recipe so I will cheat. Click here. You can also make the noodles homemade. It's a lot of work but a fun family project. My MIL is the queen of homemade noodles!

Hopefully a post of substance soon!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What Do You Feed All Those Kids--part 2

Why do kids have to eat so much? And so often? Seriously peoples, isn't it obvious a man designed the human body? He made babies with a head one-third the size of their entire body--yet a stomach only the size of their fist. Shouldn't it have been the other way around?

Now a woman, she would have known that, especially given the fact that she would have been thinking about where that head had to fit to get from womb to room. And once here, she would have considered how nice it would be to just feed kids like fish--once a day.

I don't like to cook. I also do not like to shop and I detest grocery shopping. Given the choice of cleaning bathrooms or shopping I will choose the toilets every time (and remember, I am the mother of six boys)!

But I digress to my whole point . . . figuring out how to feed all these kids. And by law, I guess I have to.

I've tried all the menu and dinner plans--the freezer method, once-a-month cooking, and the OMGsh-it's-five-o-clock-and-the-heathens-will-soon-stampeed-method.

The pantry method worked fairly well--keeping a well stocked pantry and fridge, then choosing dinner the morning of. But remember, I don't like to shop, so there's a bit of a problem with that plan.

And what about sales? I like to fit weekly specials into the menu. And what about nights where we have a crazy schedule? And how about using up the leftovers?

Ready? Ta-da!!!

It's called the _________system (That means I still need to think of a good name before I publish my book).

Here's the deal:
*same menu plan for three months in a row--for me, that means during the same term of school--but there's so much variety, three months is okay.
*base meat plan based on sales/what's in the freezer/what sounds good
*fruits, veggies and bread are the same, all month, on specific nights

Now that you are totally confused, let me explain.
I decide on a "base meat" on Sunday. Let's say I roast two large chickens. I make enough for Sunday and at least one other meal, in this case, chicken pot pie on Tues. I even have enough meat to make homemade chicken noodle soup on Thurs. (It sounds like a lot of chicken but the rest of the week holds enough variety and it isn't noticed and we won't eat chicken at all the next week.)

Sunday: Base meat, biscuits, cook's choice of specialty fruits/veggies/side dishes
Monday: Pasta (spaghetti, ziti, lasagna, ravioli), rolls, salad, oranges
Tuesday: Base meat in a new dish, corn, pineapple, rolls
Wed: Soup and sandwich, apples (can use base meat in soup or sandwich or dinner as simple as canned soup and PBJ)
Thurs: Cook's choice (that often means leftovers :-)
Friday: Pizza--frozen, take-out, or homemade; oranges, carrots
Sat: Mexican (burritos, tacos, quesadilla) lettuce, tom, guacamole, corn chips

By keeping the bread, fruit and veggies the same I know my kids will eat them, I always keep them in stock, and there's no thinking about side dishes. I can always substitute if I decide on something else. That goes for all the meals too.

Ideas for Sunday's base meat conversion:
Teriyaki Chicken--stir-fry (make extra rice for both Sunday and Tues)
Roast Beef--stroganoff--fajitas--french dip sandwiches--vegetable beef soup
Chicken--pot pie, chx sandwiches, Waldorf chx salad, chx soup, fettuccine alfredo,
Pork Roast--stir fry--pulled pork sandwiches
Ham--fried--omelets for dinner--ham and bean soup
Turkey--casserole made with turkey and stuffing--soup--sandwiches

It sounds like a lot of meat but we usually keep it vegetarian on Wed. Fri. and Sat.

It sounds like a lot of cooking but you can use frozen/convenience foods on many nights.

Coming soon--yummy recipes! And an update on Vu! And Kim's birthday!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What Do You Feed All Those Kids?

At our house, if you're late for dinner, you better like vegetables because that's probably the only thing left.

When I got home after class last week there was plenty of salad:
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But only this much pasta:
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And the sauce was completely gone.

My salad was delicious!

Up tomorrow--what I feed all these kids and more important, HOW.

I've implemented a new plan that is working quite well.