Friday, October 29, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Solo Day

One of the benefits of our little town's Suzuki Violin program are monthly mini-recitals in which various students have a chance to perform their current piece in front of a sympathetic audience of peers and parents.



Our little Curly Miss performed "Minuet 2" this afternoon. The purpose is to gain experience in performing, to practice being a polite audience and to see what other students are learning. I love that there is no competitiveness encouraged among the students and the older ones often compliment the younger ones.

Although her performance wasn't as perfect as the dress rehearsal, Curly still smiled and seemed satisfied with it, something I have very much desired for her since avoiding the performance anxiety that Hubby and I both suffer seems to be a good thing. As long as she was happy with how she played, I felt the same.

Musically, I felt that she rounded her phrases better than she ever has done, playing the loooong dotted half notes the proper length and biting into the next phrase right in time with the pianist. Her tone is slowly improving although the fact that her bow is brand new today didn't help her any. Poor kid was so happy not have to play with a broken bow like she has for weeks that she didn't even mind the lack of rosin or the squeaky tone.

I'm impressed with her ability to memorize a long song. For a five-year old this is an impressive piece to achieve. She also can sight-read well, something that many Suzuki teachers neglect but that hers makes sure to emphasize.

Most of all, Curly loves to play. She goes around the house singing her violin songs and smiles when I ask her if she likes being a violin player. Like most kids, she'd rather not work quite so hard when it comes to practice time but she loves each song when it becomes easy for her. I hope we can always foster this appreciation and love of music that seems to be built into her.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Little Mister!!!

Dear son,

You are my middle child and as such you don't always get the attention you deserve. But you are such an amazing kid, I hope you always know how special you are and how loved.

I love your red hair. I never thought I'd get a red-headed kid and yours is so neat. I love that you wear glasses like I do too. Everyone always says you look just like me and I guess that's a good thing!

You're really super smart. Even at this young age you surprise me daily with the amazing memory you have and the ability to problem-solve. You love order and your favorite thing to do is to take a bunch of something and put it all into a container or line things up in a row. For a four-year-old your attention to detail staggers me.

I know your life isn't always easy. You're smack in the middle of some very noisy, very demanding siblings whereas you love order and calm and quiet. I guess it's good practice for dealing with a noisy, chaotic world out there.

I remember so clearly this day four years ago when you were placed in my arms for the first time and how deeply I fell in love with you. I knew from that second that you were a very special person and I am still thrilled with you! I'm so lucky to get to be your mom.

Happy Birthday to my big four-year-old son!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ambulatory

He crawls with lightning speed...



... and now he walks too!!!



[I really do plan to blog about the other kids at some point! Yes, they are still very much around, doing Preschool and homeschool, making up stories and playing. I just have been behind on everything.]

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Five Years

Reading back over old blog posts, like this one, I discovered that this month marks my five-year anniversary of being a stay-at-home mom. When Hubby had been at his job for five years, he was awarded a coffee mug.

Looking back over five years as a full-time mom with other jobs being a mere moonlighting effort, a few thoughts come to mind.

1. This is the longest I have ever been at one job. My record prior to this was two years before I would get bored and switch jobs. I had begun to be a little worried about my ability to stick to something.

2. This has been the toughest job, the most hours and the lowest pay of any job I have ever done. It's harder even than the awful teaching job from which I was put on probation and subsequently fired, because it's so relentless. Each moment may not be harder, but the fact that it never lets up, I never get to "go home, leave work at work" is draining. I also get so lonely and bored! Kids, no matter how cute they are cannot provide stimulating adult company and I miss talking to co-workers. Reading mom-blogs is the closest I get to "talking shop" with someone.

3. This is my favorite job to date. Yes, I liked working in the hotel at the front desk. I enjoyed teaching. Fast food was tolerable; cleaning dorms stunk. But I LOVE, love, love being a mom. I love being with my kids, I love teaching them, I love taking the best possible care of them. I love being in my house (most of the time) and I love being my own boss and setting my own schedule.

4. I never imagined I would be doing this. Somehow I figured I would be a career mom, working hard, changing the world. I would be teaching or training guide dogs or traveling. I would be fulfilling my dreams. Well, I am teaching, with a much smaller class size. Whether the world will be better as a result of my efforts remains to be seen.

5. Because this is a post about FIVE years, I figure I need FIVE points. I really can't think of anything significant for the fifth point, except a pet peeve that I think I share with a lot of stay-at-home-moms: PLEASE, for the love of all that is holy, please do not insult me by calling me unemployed. I work far harder than I did when I was a 40-hour-a-week clock puncher. I have chosen this life, I choose the financial hit that accompanies it. But though it doesn't draw a paycheck, I still have a career. I don't sit around all day; I have goals and plans and dreams and I go bed every night exhausted but knowing I made a difference.

This writer sums it up really well (those of you on Facebook have seen this):

(Click to view full sized)



I should go buy myself a coffee mug.

Perpetual Motion

Ha! I bet you thought I was talking about the Suzuki Violin song. But this post is about a little brown baby who is taking up to five steps at a time and who is into EVERYTHING!!!


I'd forgotten how absolutely exhausting this age can be for the parents who have to watch him every. single. second... or he is getting into the trash, pulling the fake tree apart or climbing the stair that lives behind a door that someone forgot to close. While the house is technically "babyproofed" he still manages to get into plenty of trouble.


Of course I delight in his curiosity, his intelligence, his strength and coordination. I watch him explore his world and learn new words and new skills every day. Of course I think he is the cutest, cleverest most amazing one-year-old in the world!


But I sure am glad when nap-time comes!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Small Houses

Today a mom posted about how she loves her tiny house.

This has been a matter of much thought for me because our house, you see, is very small for a family of six, compared to the modern family who lives in a 3,600 square foot "McMansion." Our little cottage has two "official" bedrooms and a few other odd little spaces where we can tuck a bed or a crib. The dining room is tight for a long table; the living room could be called "cozy" and the kitchen, well, a couple of people can help cook but that's about it.

We've looked at building an addition and even had an architect draw us some gorgeous plans. Perhaps someday that addition will happen, but for now several huge obstacles stand in the way. One: we're using our spare pennies to bring home Little Sister and to accelerate the payments on those pesky old student loans. Two: we don't actually own the house but we rent it from family with the idea that someday we will somehow purchase it. That's a problem right there.

It has also occurred to me that I'm not entirely sure I want a bigger house. Everything I read about living in a wee house is something I completely endorse. I love having less space to clean, for one thing.

More that that, I love having to share. The necessity of learning to get along with one another in a shared space is something I find very valuable. We must be polite; we have to take turns. In my mind that is a good thing. Messes, in a very practical way, have to be cleaned up in short order because the table will be needed for meals or new projects. We do have enough space for creative projects to be left out from time to time, but for the most part the kids have learned to put things away where they go before moving on to the next thing.

My biggest complaint about this house, rather than the small size, is the dimness due to the north-facing living room and small windows. For now I've put my "Mom-chair" by the largest window in the dining room, moving the table halfway into the living room. It's and odd arrangement but sitting near the light helps me a lot in the mood category. The addition, in my mind, would provide a sun room as a south-facing, window-filled living space, not tons of extra square footage.

All in all, I have to say I love small houses. I'm not sure I'm ready to live in one of these, but the years of living in a single-wide mobile home and learning to eschew clutter have been extremely valuable. Living simply, not letting material things overtake my home, teaching my kids to play with simple toys, avoiding kitchen gadgets or collecting clothes or shoes, carefully considered frugal purchases, tasteful and subtle decorating, letting the outdoors be a part of our living space... all of these lessons came from living in small spaces and I find my life is richer because of them.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

2 Goombas, 1 Goomba

The other day I observed this:


2 Goombas playing in the back yard.


1 Goomba standing at an open window watching.


"Hey Guys!!!! Whatcha Doing??"


The End.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Talking About A Paper Pregnancy

In reading a blog of a delightful adoptive mom, she made this comment recently:

"At first, I felt a fraud as the inevitable pregnancy/birth/baby talk came up. I have nothing to say to that part of mother hood and I sat there feeling a bit foolish. Once we sailed through those conversations and drifted to topics of tantrums, eating, sleeping, discipline, and sweet personalities I felt like I could join in at least a little bit." From:The Perfect Mom

I guess I'm lucky; as an adoptive mom I HAVE been through biological pregnancy and childbirth twice. I'm here to tell you the adoptive process is surprisingly similar. We adoptive mom share adoption stories in much the same way as non-adoptive moms share pregnancy and birth stories.

But this post is for the adoptive moms who sit in mom-circles feeling as though they have nothing to share in the pregnancy department. I'd like to let you know, you have every right to share your "pregnancy story" too, even if no one else gets it. You have labored for the child you hold in your arms, just in a little different way. But as a mom who has done both, I can tell you the emotions are exactly the same, although the timeline may be a little different. God prepares our hearts for motherhood, no matter how it comes about.

Here are some of the comparisons:

Pre-Pregnancy

There comes a moment in a mom's life when she decides "I want to be a mom someday." This may be a surprise, or it may happen when she is six. Either way, it happens. For me, I think I knew I would adopt before I knew I would be a biological mom. Our kids came in reverse of that, but I still knew years ago.

The Positive Test

When you're pregnant, there is that magical moment of a thin, pink line on the little stick. That's the moment the roller coaster reaches the top of that first, dizzying hill and begins its terrifying descent and you're on it for the ride.

Adoption has a much different carnival ride, but it's still a circus! For one thing, you can get off at any moment, which makes more terrifying than the roller coaster. Instead of being strapped in for the duration, you're able to step off the ride any time you choose and walk away. The choice to keep riding through all the swoops and bumps, pushing on for the end, choosing to conquer your uncertainty and fear means this ride has an even greater feeling of triumph at the finish.

Still there is a moment in your heart of no return. There is a determination that enters your soul where you say to yourself, "I'm in this till the end." No matter what happens, I am in this until my child is placed in my arms. To me, that is the same feeling, the knowledge that no matter what happens, you're going to have to do this. It's the same feeling as staring at that little pink line and your life changes forever.

Morning Sickness/Homestudy

Just as each pregnancy is different, each adoption is different. But some parts we all agree are hard. Most pregnant women experience at least a period of discomfort, usually nausea. Most adoptive moms have to complete a homestudy. It's long and difficult and you wonder at times if you're ever going to make it through. And only people who have "been there, done that" know exactly how long and hard it really is.

Worry

The first thing I did when I got pregnant, after the euphoria wore off, was to freak out. All of the fears and worries: Will I miscarry? Will I be a good mom? How much will this hurt? Was this a giant mistake? How will this new child fit into our family? Will I love the new child as much as I love the other ones? They all piled upon me like a... well... pile of something very heavy.

The first thing I have done when choosing to continue both adoption processes has been exactly the same. Have I made a huge mistake? Will I be able to love the new child enough? What will this new child be like? How hard is this process really going to be?

The solution to both has been to give each child back to God. He is ultimately in charge of our family, keeping us safe, helping us to love beyond our own capacity to love. He is the one who calms the fears I cry into my pillow in the darkness of the quiet night. He is the one who formed each child and placed each one in our family, each in his or her own special way.

Checkups

When pregnant you quickly learn not to be weird about being examined. My OB knows more about my female anatomy than I do myself and has touched areas I'm not sure my husband has explored. Getting used to this was difficult as I am a very modest person.

During adoption you bare your life, history, parenting, thoughts, fears, marriage, sex life, heath history, job history, hobbies, pets and education to a social worker. I'm pretty sure my social worker knows more about my current life than my mother. Getting used to this was difficult as I am generally a pretty private person (writing this blog has been therapeutic the last few years).

Second Trimester/Waiting

There was a stage during pregnancy when I became fairly certain I'd be pregnant forever. It's just a myth, I would think, that a baby really results from this odd experience. The phase lasted far longer than I would have liked. During adoption this stage lasted even farther longer (grammar thrown aside for emphasis) than I would have liked and I was fairly certain we would be waiting for a phone call forever. The fact that a baby really was at the other end of it seemed like a cruel taunt.

Well-wishers

Friends and family constantly asked me "How is the adoption going?" or "How are you feeling [re: being pregnant, sick as a dog and big as a whale]?" In both cases the answer was usually negative: "Still waiting for the phone to ring and if you dare to call me, cause my phone to ring and not be my social worker I'm going to come through the phone lines personally and rip your head off." or "Still barfing, lying in bed and growing to the size of the Titanitc." Satisfied?

I think adoptive moms must get as hormonal as pregnant moms. I'm not sure I craved mashed potatoes like I did with my first pregnancy but I sure got protective of my telephone.

The other thing with family and friends is the ability to tell a good horror story. They had an absolute knack of hearing my news of being pregnant and immediately launching into the gruesome tale of the most painful miscarriage they'd ever heard, or the poor woman who miscarried ten times and ended up committing herself to a mental institution. Similarly with adoption, the first thing I'd usually hear was the story of a brother-in-law's sister's uncle's dog's previous owner's daughter and her husband who adopted from Timbuktu and the child was brutally killed by the mob before they could get it home. In both cases I'd paste a plastic smile on my face, nod, say "that's lovely" and then go retch in the toilet.

Dreams

If any potential mother is like me, she dreams about her soon-to-come child.

I have to point out something to you here: my dreams are always wrong. Always. As a clairvoyant, I am a hopeless failure. When I was pregnant with my first I dreamed about a little, tiny, squishy newborn with tons of dark hair. She was born a gigantic, pudgy bald linebacker. At first I wondered if the hospital had inadvertently switched babies.

Dreaming about my third, I dreamed he would be a girl. Oops. He (She) would have dark black skin. Oops.

Nevertheless, I dreamed and I watched my heart prepare for this new person to enter my life and completely captivate me each time.

Third Trimester/Matched

The end of the pregnancy speeds up. The end of an adoption speeds up. You realize this is really going to happen and soon, but it can never be soon enough because you want it to be over so badly you can actually taste the wanting. You count not calendar days but milliseconds. You nest. You buy unnecessary little supplies.

Labor/Delivery

Biological moms love to swap labor horror stories. "Well *I* was in labor for 30+ hours (I was), switched hospitals twice (I did), had a 4th degree tear (I did), then had to have an emergency C-section after all (ok, I didn't have that)." We try to one-up each other in the pain and suffering category, wearing our agony like a badge of honor. We flaunt our natural births, our homebirths, our scars and tears and every comment by the doctor or midwife. Those who had an easy birth are scorned, but secretly envied.

Adoptive moms do the same thing. "Mine was delayed for six months (it was), and I waited years for my kiddo to come (I did), the paperwork had a hiccup and I was afraid I'd have to quit (that happened), the plane trip was 23 hours long (anticipating this with trepidation) ..." You get the picture. Adoption message boards get filled with horror stories, since we human beings are at heart shameless soap opera junkies.

The Meeting

I found the "love at first sight" upon meeting each child to sometimes happen and sometimes not. With my first, my daughter, a biological child, our love grew slowly and not at first sight at all. It came softly, creeping upon me like a reluctant spring and took years to cultivate. With my second, my son, a biological child, I held him in my arms for the first time seconds after his birth and I fell hopelessly, madly in love. With my third, my son, an adopted child, I held him in my arms at age ten days and I knew how much he needed me. I felt a bond between us that was eerily mutual, like he relaxed into my arms and loved me as fiercely as I loved him. Each child was so different and the love we share is as different in kind, if not in intensity, as their personalities.

Infant/Adjustment

For moms who adopted older children, I'd like to put forth the notion that you have something to share even in this area. There is still the magical first day that usually involves some sort of disaster. There is the first bath (if your child is young enough to still be bathed by you. My friend who adopted a sixteen-year-old will have to substitute a different "first" experience for bathing, I suspect). The feeling I've heard called the "babymoon" when you finally have your child and you're walking on air. You still get to deal with the first hard thud to the ground, the first anniversary of this little person entering your life, even the grief that this person is not exactly like you'd hoped, but the discovery that this person has something wonderful that you'd never anticipated.


Yes, moms, you all have something to contribute to the conversation. You all cried buckets of tears onto your pillow, you all grew in ways you never thought you would, whether emotionally or physically or both. With all four of my "pregnancies", I wanted to shout from the rooftops that I was EXPECTING!!! When I was adopting I wished I had a baby bump to show the world that new life was coming. When I was pregnant I wished my baby bump was more recognizable as a baby bump instead of just added belly, hip, thigh and rear-end fat.

Now when I sit in a circle of moms, I'm just as likely to say "When we were expecting Baby Bear to come..." as I am to give actual pregnancy stories. To me they're pretty much the same thing.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

On A Rainy Thursday

On a rainy Thursday when we decided to have a day in...


We built a fire. Nothing makes a room cozy and cheery like a fire in the fireplace.


We colored pictures of our favorite things. Little Mister drew this portrait of his favorite pet, a stuffed snake named Nice.


Once we were done coloring we built a blanket fort on the couch.


I provided the blankets, clothespins and two flashlights; they provided the imaginations and the giggles.


Of course we plan to stay in our jammies all day. Or at least very comfy clothes. (Baby Bear's jammies were soaked this morning and Little Mister fell asleep in his clothes last night.)


"Whatcha guys doing in there?"

All three kids played together, something that has not happened often, but I see happening more and more in the future as Baby Bear masters the fine art of walking and climbing.

It was such a relief not to have to get everyone ready to go, to load everyone in car seats and to remember to pack a diaper bag, lunches, purse and several toys per kid. I should have stay-at-home days more often!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Feeding the Squirrels

Watching Over The Hedge on long car trips has had a profound impact on my children. Due to the animals on the movie worrying about collecting food for the winter, my kids have taken it upon themselves to gather all the nuts and acorns they can find to give to the poor hungry squirrels.

One particular tree on the walk downtown has a convenient hole in it, so that's where we put the acorns, to the amusement of the hordes of high schoolers loitering in the parking lot next to their school building.


Little Mister's preschool teacher unconsciously added to this responsibility by sending home a paper sack full of nuts to give to the squirrels. Little Mister could not have been more thrilled if she had sent home a birthday cake.


He took Curly out into the front yard and they conscientiously scattered their offerings around, asking me later with concern whether the squirrels would find the food. I assured them that they would.

He must have checked because a few days later he reported to me that no, they had NOT found the food and the ants were carrying it away.

"But," he consoled me, "at least we're feeding the ants."

Whew.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Road Warrior

Miss A has a shiny new driver's license and one of the first things she did with it was drive clear down here to visit Baby Bear! What a lucky kid to be so loved!


She had a special baby blanket that she'd saved and a little present from grandparents. This little guy is so spoiled... I'm sure he won't complain though. :)


Baby Bear was due for a nap so he was squirmy and fussy while she was here. I felt bad; she only gets to see him every 8-10 weeks and then when she does see him for a short hour, he was fussy. It kind of stressed me out to want to let her play with him as much as possible but also to do what he needed which was put him to bed. Hopefully next time we do a visit I can get the timing to work out better! But a baby is his own little person and sometimes you just can't make everything work out...

Still, we were glad to see her and hear that she is doing so well in her nursing classes and moving out on her own and coordinating roommates (which brought back memories of my not-so-distant college days!).

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Smashing

...cake

...presents

...videos!









Happy First Birthday Baby Bear! We wished Miss A could have made it, but unfortunately something came up at the last minute. We hope to see her very soon too!