Monday, August 30, 2010

Nine Snowcones Please!

It's our last week of summer.  I am going into the school year kicking and screaming all the way!  I NEVER want summer to end!  WHERE is the DISLIKE button??? 

My Dislike List:
  1. Getting up early and being on a strict schedule
  2. Making school lunches
  3. Homework 

I feel better just being able to complain.  Thank you.

Here is one reason I will miss summer--snow cones at the zoo!

I have big plans for today.  Relax.  Drink coffee.  Blog.  Read.  Sew.  Eat snowcones.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Once A Mama's Boy, Now An American Soldier

We have kept this candle burning for the past seven days. 

Our son Will is in his final week of boot camp/AIT.  He will then go on to train for Special Forces.  This week we are sending extra prayers to our son, and his entire company, as this week of training is intense and challenging. 

I'm not sure how it all happened.  It seems like just yesterday he was a newborn in my arms.  He nursed until he was . . . well . . . too old for me to print given the fact he is in the Army now!  He was an absolute Mama's Boy--sweet, sensitive, and never wanting to leave my side!

As he grew, he remained sweet and sensitive, yet always dreamed of joining the military.  Birthday party themes revolved around camouflage and capture the flag, and Halloween pictures are a version of Will dressed like this:

During his teen years I wondered if he would still join the military.  His hair styles seemed to mirror the changes in his dreams.  A professional baseball player?  A high school teacher?  A businessman?

In the end, the passion of his early years drew him back, and he is now an American soldier.

I miss my Mama's boy, but I am very proud of the man he has become--an American hero! 

Sending hugs and prayers to my Willsy boy and to all American soldiers all around the globe!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Revisiting Code Brown

The previous video reminded me of our trip to CA in 2008.  It was a CODE BROWN.

Here's the memorable part:

"Near the end of our swim the lifeguard got on his loud-speaker and announced, “Please get out of the pool. I repeat, please get out of the pool. We will be closing due to an unfortunate incident.”

I looked around alarmed that perhaps someone had drowned but realized several people were laughing and the exit mirrored that of the barf incident. I asked one of the lifeguards what was up and was hurriedly told, “Code Brown!”

Code Brown? Could it be what I thought? Our kids watched in horror as one lifeguard, apparently the one who drew the short straw, took a long handled net and large garbage bag and scooped something brown out of the deep end of the pool! (All I could think about was the movie Caddy Shack.)

The deep end! Can you believe it? A big person pooped in the pool! Yuck!!! Yuck with lots of laughter and long, hot, SOAPY showers!

Definitely one of the memorable events of the trip. I really doubt any of my children will grow up to become a lifeguard. Looked like a cush job until that point!"

I'll leave you with a mostly unrelated picture.  I do have to wonder where the lifeguard is???  Potty break?  Attending to a Code Brown?

Funniest Video of the Summer

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Secret Obsession

Okay, so you already know about my coffee, chocolate, and kid obsession.  I do have another little, teeny, tiny, secret obsession.

PETS!  The kind that do not eat or poop.

The best pets ever--Schleich animals:

My kids rarely play with them--but I do!  I have a rather odd assortment as I often buy the ones on clearance.  They are not cheap, but these are toys I will keep for my grandchildren.  At least, that is my excuse for continuing to buy them! 

I heart playing with toys!

(Now you know the real reason I keep on having/adopting kids!)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Has Anyone Seen MY BRAIN?!!

I am always and forever asking if anyone has seen MY BRAIN?!!!

This morning we couldn't find anything as we were trying to get out the door to swimming lessons.  Patrick's swimming shorts were MIA, we could only find one of Vu's flip-flops, and Paul was scrambling for his goggles. 

I tried to convince Paul that he did not need goggles, that both his father and mother had survived JUST FINE without goggles when we were kids.  I mean, goggles weren't even invented!!!  We actually just opened our eyes in the water!  It's a miracle!  We survived!!!

Paul was unimpressed.

Anyhoo, we found the goggles and were almost late for swimming and in my rush I forgot my morning coffee.  UGH!  How could such a tragedy strike??? 

No, worries!  With the kind of morning I was having, I needed, NO!  I DESERVED a Starbucks!  I had no guilt about buying myself a Grande today!

Dropped off Paul at the pool (he takes lessons first) pulled around the corner to the nearest drive through, prepared to order a hot, delicious, white chocolate mocha.  Then realized . . .

In my rush, I had forgotten my purse!  Horrors!  No morning coffee!

At least the kids had fun swimming:

When I finally returned back home I shouted out with frustration, "Has anyone seen my brain!!!  It's missing-- AGAIN!!"

I heard Kim laugh and shout from the kitchen, "Yes!  Yes!  I found your brain!  It's right here!"

I looked around the corner:

FOUND!  My missing brain!  And, good news!  There's a whole lot of extras in that bag of peanuts! 

That girl makes me laugh!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Waiting And Attachment

It's midnight and I can't sleep.  I'm thinking of Rose.  I wonder what she's doing right now.  Right at this very moment.  Is she happy?  Secure?  Is she loved?

Once we are matched with our kids the wait has always been terrible.  The only way I can describe it is to imagine giving birth to a baby, knowing full well during the pregnancy that you will not be able to spend the first several months together, and then survive months (maybe even years) apart.  It is especially agonizing when the wait is longer than anticipated.

With Rose, I told myself I was not going to get so wrapped up in the wait.  My brain insisted to my heart that I was not going to stress with delays.  After all, we have been told it could be a year before we have her home.  Our wait will be twice as long as those we have endured in the past.

Because our wait will be so long, and because I was trying to avoid the pain of waiting, I wasn't allowing myself to prepare for Rose.  I didn't plaster her picture everywhere, like when we were waiting for our other kids.  I didn't immediately start sewing her things and buying her things.  It would, after all, be a YEAR!

But you know what I soon realized?  It NEEDS to be hard to wait.  The pain of the wait is the labor of adoption.  I WANT to think about Rose all the time--even if it means making the wait longer and  harder.  I NEED to immerse myself in preparing for her physically, in order to have reminders in our home that she REALLY WILL eventually come home--and to be unconditionally attached to her when she does. 

The wait, and the pain, are all part of the attachment process.

Once I realized this, I plastered the house with her pictures, started to sew her a very special quilt (with fuchsia ladybugs and pink hearts), and began to buy her things.  

We continue to wait for our FBI fingerprint clearances--almost 8 weeks now--and yes, I am totally wrapped up in the frustration of waiting!  I know.  It's a good thing.  But this is going to be a VERY long wait. 

In the meantime, every time I hear this song, I think of Rose. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Homemade Playdough

Today we made homemade playdough.

 Two batches simultaneously:

I love playdough.  I am amazed how many mothers do not.  I've had many a teenager friend join in the fun of playdough at our house, lamenting over the fact that their mother never let them enjoy it.

I admit it can be messy, but anything that gives an hour of pure pleasure, takes less than ten minutes to clean up, and costs almost nothing is a SCORE in my book.  Playdough relieves stress and has an awesome creativity factor too!

Homemade playdough is fun to make and has a softer texture than store-bought.  In case you've never tried it, here is our recipe:

Homemade Playdough

3 C. flour
1 1/2 C. salt
2 Tablespoons cream of tarter (in spice section of grocery store--it is white and looks like baking soda)
3 C. cool water
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
food coloring

In medium size cooking pan mix dry ingredients.  Put in water, oil, and food coloring, then stir them in all at the same time until well blended.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until playdough forms a round ball the consistency of, well, playdough :-)  A large metal spoon works well for stirring.  In the picture above the playdough is only half way done.

It's nice to get out the rolling pins, cookie cutters, and invest six bucks in a Playdough Fun Factory

Make a batch of playdough, get yourself a cup of coffee, revel in the knowledge that your future teenagers will have one less reason to hate you, and enjoy an hour of bliss!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Taming A Turd

This post is not about poop.  It is about children who are acting like poops.  It would probably be more appropriate to call my child a "tiger" when misbehaving badly, but why sugarcoat it when the word that best describes them is TURD!

Our busy summer has taken its toll on my crew.  We spent a fair amount of time away and are now madly trying to catch up from neglecting all the appointments and "to-dos."  Just this week we have had more appointments than I can count, swimming lessons, and school shopping for five children (just thinking about all that shopping is enough to drive anyone into turd status.) 

One child in particular has been Chief Turd.  I will confidentially protect the not-so-innocent, but honestly, all of my children have achieved the high calling at one time or another.  Chief Turd has been fighting with all the siblings, teasing, not listening, and just plain misbehaving. 

Many times, I do not even know what brings one of my children to become chief.  It often happens out of the blue, with no attributable cause.

However, I do know what often tames the beast and as of yesterday, all-out turd tackling has begun.

In the coming week I will be keeping The Chief near me, interacting with him as much as possible.  Errands will be kept to a minimum, and instead we will spend ample time together, especially doing quiet, tactile activities, such as cooking, painting, and puzzles.  We will take nature walks and spend time at the park. 

In addition, I will keep an eye on food and make sure he's eating enough protein and not so much junk.  Our summer diet has consisted of WAY too many carbs and sugary treats.

An afternoon rest/nap will be non-negotiable (the Chief sleeps as I write).  An earlier bedtime too.  The long days of summer tend to make bedtime later and later; it is now time to rein it back in.  With school starting in two weeks I will be glad we began the switch now. 

Finally, more positive feedback is a must--extra praising of good behavior.  Why is it I so often fall into spending too much time correcting and not enough time praising?

I'm a little stressed knowing my to-do list will just pile-up more.  Hopefully, the results will be worth it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Blueberry Scones!

Summer brings delicious blueberries and here is a family favorite!  It can also be made with frozen blueberries, when fresh are not available.  The recipe originally appeared in Family Circle magazine.

Berry-Lemon Scones

3 1/4 Cups Flour
2/3 C. Sugar
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 teaspoon Salt
6 Tablespoons Cold Butter cut into small cubes
1 Tablespoon lemon juice plus enough milk to equal 1 Cup
1 C. Fresh Blueberries
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (I leave out if I don't have a lemon)
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1 Egg White (for brushing top of scone)
2 Tablespoons sugar (for top of scone)

1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl.  Add butter; mix with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Gently stir lemon-juice-milk mixture into dough, along with blueberries, lemon peel and whole egg, just until combined.
3.  With floured hands, pat half of the dough into a 7-inch circle on a large cookie/baking sheet (covered with parchment paper if desired).  Repeat with remaining dough, spacing apart.  You will now have two mounds of dough.  Brush with egg white; sprinkle with sugar.
4.  Cut halfway down but not through each circle, 6 wedges for each round.
5.  Bake at 400 for 18 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on rack.  Cut apart at lines.  Eat and enjoy.

Double recipe with caution.  I always seem to mess it up when I double it!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More Caffeine!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Brave/Crazy/Tenacious Award Goes To . . .

My baby sister made it safely across the US and back!  She gets my award for brave/crazy/tenacious woman of the year--driving 6,000 miles in 3 weeks with 2 kids, 1 husband/dad, and 7 months pregnant!  Amazing! 

It was certainly a memory of a lifetime and I'm sure she will blog about it once she does simple things like catch up on laundry and birth her baby (due in six weeks!). 

It was so wonderful to have them here--our time together was much too short!  We did fit in a trip to the zoo.  The excitement of the day was the elephant with five legs.  I believe his name was Long Dong Silver (no pics--you pervs!).  It was a gorgeous day and the kids all had a blast!  They ended each day the same way at bedtime--in slumber party fashion. 

We love you!  We miss you! 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

We Haven't Killed Each Other Yet!

Happy 29th anniversary to us!  High school sweethearts, married at 18, defied the odds, worked through many hard times to reap sweet rewards. 

My advice to newlyweds is to realize you cannot change your spouse, you can only change yourself. 

Marriage is hard work for sure!  Marriage requires more compromise than we would like to give, humility, and commitment; but in the end we are left with a lifetime of unconditional love and our very best friend.  I feel very blessed with my guy--I love you Sweetie!

And now, for your entertainment pleasure, some pics from our honeymoon.  Check out the hippy dude with the short shorts!  Mine are on the short side too--shesh!

We have talked about a second honeymoon forever and are beginning to plan a trip to Hawaii.  I wonder if I can find some shorts like those?!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Campout 2010

We're back from our camping trip and I am happy to report that Vu had a great time--thanks to the help of the previously mentioned article on inducement.  As we were packing, I spent time talking to Vu about what he likes about camping (friends, scooters, marshmallows) and what he doesn't like (bears, bees, and cold weather).  I told him we did have to go camping but we could also address his concerns, so that he could have a good time too.  It really worked!

I made a big deal of having Vu help me pack him a TON of warm clothing, and then I made sure to keep him warm on our trip.  There were times it began to get chilly quickly, and he insisted he wasn't cold, but I was proactive in putting on sweatshirts and keeping him warm.  We made sure he had the warmest sleeping bag, put on a winter hat and even gloves when he slept, and tucked a blanket around him.  I didn't feel he needed so much warmth, but my hope was he would really feel we cared about his concern of being cold.  I could tell by his tuck-in smiles he was happy to be catered to.

The second solution that worked well was letting him sleep in the back of the big van.  The older kids have done this in the past, and love having their own little "camper."  Vu felt a sense of security knowing that bears and bees could not get him!  (And sleeping in the van brought true security, whereas simply having his parents tell him not to worry about bears did not!)  He slept warm, safe, and secure every night.

Overall, the solutions really seemed to lie in just allowing him to express his frustrations (appropriately) and trying to find the source--then addressing them.

A few pics from the big event.  We join about 80 other adoptive families for a week of festivities.

Tons of activities occur including the ever popular "Fear Factor" for teens.  The first picture shows the kids after they have just found clothespins in a combination of syrup and cereal.  Later in the game they had to get real chicken feet out of real chicken feed.  YUCK!:

 The trip also included lots of friends and memories-- including warrior boys, makeovers, crafts, potlucks, and time spent around the campfire.

It was a great week but I must admit it was nice to sleep in my own bed and wake up in the night and actually be able to GO to the bathroom--instead of holding it until morning, because I am afraid of bears too!  LOL!

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Dangerous Boy!

We are back from a fantastic camping trip!  Even Vu had a great time (more in my next post on how we achieved success)!

First, the proudest camper on the planet.  Patrick has been wanting to make his own bow and arrow ever since receiving The Dangerous Book for Boys for his birthday. 

A little help from his dad:

Some finishing touches with his pocket knife:

The result: one very proud bowman:

We have really enjoyed this book--I highly recommend it!