Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hanging Instruments

On another mom-blog, I saw their violins neatly hung on the wall, safe from small fingers and looking quite beautiful and decorative. Since Curly's violin has been perched precariously on the top of the piano, I decided we needed something similar. I like the look of a "music room" even if it's just a corner of our already-crowded dining room!


Two weeks ago I began searching around on the internet (thank you, Uncle Google) and found some really nice-looking hangers. Today they came in the mail, so Hubby and I set happily to work, drilling pilot holes and installing screws.


We're all pleased with the result. The instruments are out, handy to for daily practice and they provide a nice wall decoration, art and music combined!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Odd

Have you ever noticed that some things live in odd places?  Things that shouldn't belong but once they have been set there for a long enough period of time the end up living there permanently?


This lighter lives among the Nativity Set.  Although the shepherd seems content enough with a giant blue Bic lighter next to him, I find it a strange juxtaposition of pyromania and religious decoration.  The things is, the lighter has lived there for years, while the Nativity set exists only as a seasonal interloper.


The top of our fridge boasts an ever-growing garden of spent batteries.  Dust too, although that's not particularly odd and would be best if you would please simply ignore it.  Thank you. 

We try to recycle our batteries, but the local recycling station stopped accepting batteries, so instead of throwing them away to leech ferocious chemicals into the landfills, we stash them in ever-growing quantities on top of the fridge.


With a creative six-year-old in the house, I never know what I might find.  Yes, this is a straw clipped with a clothespin to the Christmas tree.  I think in a wild fit of ornament-making one day she resorted to whatever materials came to hand.


This small box sitting in my plant contains violin rosin.  I'm not exactly sure what to say about the fact that the violin rosin now lives permanently in my plant.  It's kind of just one of those things. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Loves Bananas, Hates Peaches


Here's an interesting fact about The Bean. He hates peaches. We tried peach baby food a few months ago and were rewarded with peach-covered baby as he spit and smeared and tried everything in his eight-month-old power to extricate all traces of peach from his mouth. Today I tried canned peaches, which the other kids will eat by the truckload. The Bean showed his contempt by not only spitting the pieces of peach out but squashing them and throwing them on the floor. While this is not really that unusual with any food, the vehemence shown to the peaches left little doubt as to his opinion.

Miss A tells me that The Bean's bio dad also hates peaches. I wonder if hating peaches is genetic? If so, I might as well give up now and concentrate on the bananas.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

We had a fantastic Christmas with family today.  We spent two nights in L-town with my parents, and my sister and bro-in-law.  Nine people under one roof seemed a bit crazy but we had a blast anyway.


My brutha-from-anotha-mutha.  He got this new batman hoodie from his wifey, my sis and was ecstatic.  He also stayed up with us till 2am playing Pinochle, even after working since six that morning.  What a stud.


My mom. And her fluff.  And my son and daughter in their Christmas jammies.  We had such a fun time.  My sis and I cooked two feasts: a seafood extravaganza on Christmas Eve and a brunch at 6pm Christmas night that had Aebelskivers, stuffed hash browns and fruit dipped in chocolate fondue.  Mmmm!


My children posing for the camera.  From now on please note the large black trash bag that is front and center in the middle of the room and thus in every photo.  If we didn't throw away the wrapping paper as we go, we'd lose The Bean and possibly even Little Mister.


This is me and my sweet Hubby before I woke up.  Note the coffee.  Consciousness is coming.


Little Mister picked out his present at Hastings two weeks ago.  Then I wrapped it and put it under the tree.  Then he unwrapped it and told me how much he liked his present.  That, my friends, is how you do Christmas.


Aah, a picture of me later in the morning when I could finally see.

My sis gave me a Willow Tree figure of a beautiful little black girl.  I can't wait to bring our little Ethiopian Angel home!  Next Christmas she'll be with us.  I could almost see her here this year, running around with the Goombas.  Merry Christmas, little one.


When he woke up and joined us, he thought it had magically snowed wrapping paper.  His main business, apart from tackling Curly, was to find the cats hiding under the Christmas tree and try to suck on their tails.


Luckily there were plenty of people like my sister to corral him and keep him out of trouble for 0.02 seconds until they put him down again and he found some thing new to do, like getting into my candy cane and smearing sticky redness on everything he could find.


I don't remember what the joke was in this picture, but obviously Curly and Mama thought it was hilarious!

Merry Christmas, everyone.  And thank you, Jesus, for coming to this tired old earth to bring light and life and joy for two thousand years.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Brothers

Have you seen the commercial for Johnnie Walker that shows the two brothers?  How they can't bring themselves to show affection publicly, but they actually really love one another?  I can see my two boys behaving exactly this way.  They already do.
I asked Little Mister to teach The Bean how to push a toy car on the floor.  At my first suggestion, he looked at me with an angelic twinkle in his eye and said, "No, thank you."
I know he loves his little brother.  He works hard to keep him safe.  He brings him toys and shares his french fries.
On my second, more insistent suggestion, he reluctantly gave The Bean a toy car, made of metal, and in the hands of a 14-month-old, a lethal weapon.  Little Mister took his own toy car and demonstrated how to roll it along the floor.
The Bean, absolutely thrilled to have some attention from the older brother who is the most awesome person on the planet, took the car gleefully.
And Little Mister fled.

And that was the end of teaching The Bean how to play cars.

I read in a book recently that a little sibling is both in awe of and a little afraid of the big sibling. In our house, that sentiment has a bit of a twist. Yes, The Bean is in awe of Little Mister. But the fear is entirely on the other side. It's something akin to the brilliant, gentle scientist in fear of a very small, very fast brown hurricane, one who throws things, hits, tugs on clothes and does everything he can to gain the attention of the adored older brother.

So far, because The Bean is a baby, I haven't let Little Mister defend himself. I think perhaps it's time to relax that rule.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Big Beach Ball

As indebted as I am to the support of the nearby family and friends during our adoption journey, there is something so special about the "been there done that" camaraderie of the friends I've met on the internet. I particularly appreciate ones who have a sense of humor.

Remember how I talked about missing the "baby bump"? These folks (click the link) have taken that concept to a creative and hilarious new level. Hubby and I laughed until we almost cried.

It made me wonder... if her beach ball is big enough to accommodate twins, how big is mine since I'm expecting a three-year-old??

I'd like to say, congratulations to Alana and Xander on the adoption of their gorgeous twins, and I hope you enjoy the internet fame your hilarious belly shoot caused. It certainly gave this adoptive mom a much-needed chuckle. :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Part of the Pack

I'd always intended to make Shadow part of the family. A dog needs a pack. Dogs aren't solitary animals. When we first got him I could see his potential to be a really great family dog, but potential is not the same thing as reality.

He was young and exuberant. He joyfully mouthed all of us, sending the kids squealing onto the couch. He stole toys and chewed them.

Matt built him a nice big run in the back yard and for the past seven months he has lived pretty much outside. Alone.

In that time, however, he's mellowed out a lot, stopped mouthing, learned to sit and (sometimes) to come. He's accepted our dominance and has stopped bouncing the kids over like Tigger.

There was one more thing keeping him from joining us in the house, however. He stank. As he lived outside in the muddy yard, chewing on milk jugs full of sour milk, he got more and more rancid. Although it worked great to give him our recycling as chew toys, it did nothing for his personal hygiene.

Finally yesterday I broke down and took him to the groomer. The thought of an 80-pound water-loving lab in my bathtub was to intimidating to contemplate.


He came back smelling delightful with a neat little red bandanna around his neck. Perfect! And so, he's been welcome to come in the house for short periods of time to acclimate to indoor behavior. So far, he's been an angel, except for stealing the Bean's Rice Rusk. But who can fault him for that?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Haircut Day

Finally everyone feels better after this awful stomach flu we've had this week. Since it takes 24 hours to be totally non-contagious, it leaves us with another day at home. I decided to give everyone a haircut that still needed one.


The Bean got his first "real" haircut! He is almost exactly the same age as Mister was when I cut his hair the first time and it turned out so cute!

This time I was smart, having learned my lesson with cutting Little Mister's hair. Babies do NOT hold still for haircuts. So I got creative. I spread a towel on the couch and had Hubby hold Bean over the towel while feeding him a bottle. So I had approximately 2.67 minutes of quiet baby while he downed the 8 oz. of warm whole milk. I snipped away with pretty good results.


Is this picture with the scrunched up face cute?


Hubby needs a haircut about every six weeks and I think it had been more like nine.  His hair is somewhat curly and very wiry so it gets quite scruffy-looking when it gets long.


He also decided to try growing a full beard so we trimmed his goatee to match the week-old beard growth. I think the combo of beard-shadow and new haircut looks muy guapo. Woot-twoo... :)


Then I cut mine, which is way harder! I can either wear my glasses and they are in the way or not wear my glasses and do it completely by feel. And we don't have a good mirror to see the back.

So I do my best and if it looks like it's been done by a blind person with a kitchen knife, well, at least half of that's not true.

This time, since I am growing out the red dye, it turned out two-toned. The bottom is my natural brown and the top is still mostly red. Actually I think it looks kind of cool and unique.


On a side note, taking a picture of yourself in the mirror is not an easy feat! I should have had Hubby take a picture. :)

Although I still consider myself a rank amateur when it comes to cutting hair, it's an activity I really enjoy. I like to make my family look nice and I love saving the $100 it would have cost to take all three of us to a salon today.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Deep Thoughts on International Adoption

I have pondered lately the sense of identity, the sense of self I feel as a part of the spaces I inhabit. I grew up in Idaho. Although I've traveled, I have always come back to Idaho. Somehow I see myself as a part of the wheatfields, rooted, planted. Not native perhaps as generations ago the "me" part of the population lived in Britain, but flourishing here. Rooted here. The wide rolling hills and seasonal rotation of crops are as much a part of me as my own circulating blood.

We're adopting a little girl from Africa, a child who will shortly be uprooted and transplanted. Our ethics for doing so seem altruistic enough to override the cultural and deep-rooted loss she will experience from losing her sense of place, of belonging. For our part, we will gain a daughter, a missing family member who has been in my heart since I was a small child. She will gain a family a world away. Family. Belonging. Shelter. Yet how will the graft take? How will she flourish in chilly Idaho, away from her African sun, her African rains?

Someday may she go back. My dream for her would be to go back to help her people. To take whatever meager resources we have been able to bestow upon her and to go back to her country. I don't know if this will be so. A child's dreams belong to that child and a parent's dreams do not. But can she in some part of her American soul still belong to Africa? I hope so.

"Paper-Ready," here we come!

After an insane month of making phone calls (which I hate), asking tons of people for help (which I also hate), collecting papers and signatures and notary stamps, at last today we have the final two pieces of paper ready to mail.


I now know for a fact that I don't have HIV or Hepatitis (aren't you relieved?) that I am still 5'9" tall and that I really do work where I thought I worked! Whew! It's with great delight that I send in these last two documents. When those and our homestudy are received, we'll be declared "paper-ready" to adopt. We can officially be matched with our little girl and the papers can travel to Washington D.C. where I have been told they need to be signed off by Hillary Clinton. (Sorry, Hillary, I won't vote for you, but please sign our request to adopt, ok?) Then they will be translated into Amharic, travel to Ethiopia and go through the Ministry of Women's Affairs office.


I still think the paperwork part of an adoption is about as miserable as morning sickness during a pregnancy. Two redeeming features happened this time around though. One is that Hubby really stepped up and took the lead on this last batch, which blessed my socks off! I was so discouraged I almost could have given up, so his timing was perfect.

The other really amazing thing was getting to read the recommendation letter by our friends. In the past the letters have gone directly to the agency and we never saw them. We assumed they were good since we got a green light, but we didn't get to read them. This time, though, we collected them and sent them in ourselves. So we got to read them. I can't tell you how encouraging it is to have close friends who are parents themselves write about you that you are a good parent.

We parents feel like we're under such scrutiny from family and friends, then under a high-powered microscope with the adoption process, it's a relief to know that even though my children seldom have their hair brushed and that I bribe them with Reeses Pieces, I'm still overall doing okay!

I hope all you readers have a fantastic day. :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Energy

If there was a way to plug The Bean in somehow, we'd have an endless supply of pure, natural energy. We could light our house and supply all of our power needs with this one small bundle of rapid movement.


Unfortunately, plugging in a baby to harvest his energy sounds somewhat unethical, reminiscent of The Matrix or Transformers. I guess I'll look for other ways to let him run and climb and bounce and roll and play.


Little Mister has blossomed this winter in his physical prowess. For the first time, he enjoyed sledding and even pulled his sled back up the hill himself. He also walked downtown with us with a minimum of whining.


Exercise is hard to find on snowy, cold, wintry days. We play outside when I can gear myself up to put on everyone's snow pants. But the various indoor playgrounds around town offer a welcome place to run off some of the spare energy.

Snapshot: A Common Sight


Any coffee-loving mom with multiple small children will immediately recognize this. A half-drunk cup of drip coffee, made into a hasty Latte with a splash of egg nog, sitting around the house getting cold, shares the table with a row of clothespins clipped to a pen. Such is the randomness of items found on my table.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Through Little Mister's Eyes

It always amuses me to give the camera to one of the kids and see what they choose to photograph. Seeing the world from their wondering eyes and small perspective reminds me to see the magic in everyday things.

Our living room, with piles of blankets on the coffee table.


In the foreground, a new vaporizer shaped like a penguin blows a soft cloud of mist while in the background, outlined by the harsh white light of a winter window, Mommy sits at her computer.


Sister Curly Miss plays games on Mommy's iPod, stretching her long legs along the couch.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Guest Post: A Great Lesson

Hubby wrote this today on our Homeschool Blog:

Today, it was snowing and blowing hard. Teacher [K] had four of her students bail on her, even though she was teaching at her parents' house, which isn't as far out of town. We were the only ones to show up.

[Curly] has been working on Gavotte, the last song in book one. It has a lot of "firsts" in it. The first ever sixteenth notes, first ever D.C. al Fine form, first ever song with a "C" section, first song with multiple accidentals in the same measure, first song with pizzicato notes, and first song with leaps greater than an octave.

She's been smoking it too. I was really proud of how she worked through the hard sixteenth-note run section a couple nights ago. I didn't have to prod her at all. She, drawing completely on her own determination, played the passage about 20 times until she got it right. She even chased me away when I tried to help her. I had played it for her on the piano and she knew the recording so she knew EXACTLY what it was supposed to sound like. She just had to figure out how to reproduce it and she knew she could. This is where some of that stubbornness and perfectionism can really be exerted for good. And it was! After those grueling, self-motivated 10 minutes, she had it figured out. Since then, she's played it right every time. The same goes for some other passages.

Anyway, back to the lesson. I was so proud of her again! She stood up straight. She answered all of teacher [K]'s questions right away. She knew all the answers about what was stacatto and where the circle bows were and what fingering to use here and there and so on and so forth. She never tried to sit down and goof around and tap her bow on things. They ironed out the finer points of the tune for 1/2 hour and the time flew by. She was so good. She didn't even get distracted when their neurotic cat pounced on me and yowled.

After countless rough, rough practices and many frustrating lessons, it was so nice to have such an encouraging time of violin. I've really wanted to throw in the towel several times but what I saw today gives me hope. I'm sure there will be plenty of hard work and bad attitudes (hers AND mine!) ahead, but it is really nice to know that there is the potential for wonderful times as well.

*****

As an aside, Teacher K once asked Curly about learning to play when she is distracted, as she would be in a performance. From my place on the sofa, I burst out laughing, thinking of what actually goes on at our house during practice time. If Curly can continue practicing every. single. day. while her baby brother does things like banging on the piano or trying his best to pull her pants off, yes, she can play through distraction.

Can't say I haven't been warned!

I posted not too long ago that I was feeling a bit of an "ouch" and also that people have been warning us with tons of adoption horror stories. Recently I vented on the adoption forum at MDC that I was tired of all the negativity.

One of the posters had this to say:

Oh boy - I feel that. I'm sorry people can't just be happy for you. Congrats on the new addition. Let me just warn you about your new child.... she's going to steal your heart like no one has, you are going to be amazed at your capacity for love, you are going to have to suffer the joy of seeing the world through the eyes of a child, you are going to cry like you've never cried before when you see your child asleep, safe in their bed, and you'll celebrate the most ridiculous milestones (like writing their name for the first time). Sorry I had to be the one to warn you but I felt it was my duty - as one adoptive mother to another. :P

I laughed when I read this, then my eyes got misty. How wonderful the support from other parents who have "been there, done that" when I am taking the road less traveled by? What would I do without the little gems dropped along my path that remind me everything really is going to be okay!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

(Not) My Favorite

I realized in reading back over the last post that Little Mister did not even get a mention. Then I realized it was because my last post was mostly about Mayhem and Chaos, respectively. There, sitting in the middle between the two is Mellow. Whiny, occasionally, but usually Mellow. Chill. Predictable.


I don't have favorites among my children. I love them all dearly. I really, truly don't have favorites. But very, very often, I thank God for Mellow.

Somehow it all gets done anyway.

The kids and I had a happy afternoon of sledding, then this evening we set out to decorate for Christmas. As usual I sustained idealistic fantasies about my angelic children, delightedly decorating the tree, of soft Christmas music playing in the background, of the smell of spiced cider and peppermint.


The first thing that happened was that Curly went to Time-Out. My eldest child has always taken my ideal and forcefully reminded me that parenting is messy, unpredictable, delightful and overwhelming. She never behaves as I fondly expect but instead goes so berserk at whatever she is doing that she winds up in trouble. Someday when she is a little more mature her habit of living at 150% will stand her in good stead, but as a child it just gives her mother gray hair.


Five minutes later she came back, amazingly in a much more cooperative mood.  Instead of hogging all the ornaments and bossing her brothers, she suddenly remembered she could share. I had to laugh at her... the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

The kids had been so eager to begin, they put a bunch of ornaments on, then had to take them right back off again so Daddy could put the lights on.  Daddy had put on his favorite radio show, "The Thistle and Shamrock" so the house filled with Celtic music rather than Christmas.  I pretended not to care that the house smelled like tacos, and that every single ornament was getting piled onto the front 1/3 of the tree. I can't say I've entirely overcome my orderly tendencies of wanting to do things "just right" but I am improving.


Meanwhile The Bean wandered around the house, grabbing stray ornaments, unplugging lights, yelling and attempting to knock over the tree.  Finally I confined him to his booster chair, where he hollered and protested not being able to cause mayhem.


"Let me down!  I want to help decorate the tree too!"  Each of us tried to console him by kissing him on his curly head as we walked by.


I got out a new/old Nativity set someone gave me ages ago.  Carved out of wood, I like it because the characters in the set are not white, but they have a sort of African feel. 





Last year Mom gave the kids a Nativity that's sturdy enough to be handled.  With delight they played with this set and left off playing with the delicate wooden one.


At last we got all the lights working.  We have our new, clean rug and the tree has ornaments on it, set high on a desk away from The Bean's marauding fingers.  I hung a sixth stocking for our little girl, still over in Africa.  Next Christmas she will be with us, God willing, and I will paint her name on her stocking. 

And we'll likely have even more delightful mayhem.