Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Winter Cleaning

We're nesting. There's just no other explanation for it. We've cleaned out closets and cabinets and drawers. We've organized the basement and thrown away mountains of garbage.

Howie has listed over 50 items on Freecycle. Bags and Bags and Bags worth of stuff. I cleaned my pantry and my linen closet and took all of my jewelry and cleaned everything piece by piece. I sorted rubber bands from barrettes and barrettes from scrunchies and headbands and put everything in separate plastic containers.

We got rid of diapers and baby books and toys. We also got rid of the crib and changing table. It was a little heartbreaking to say the least. We placed three of our babies in that crib and changed THOUSANDS of diapers on that changing table. It's such a huge milestone to be rid of everything baby. It would have been hard if it hadn't gone to such a great recipient, a woman who was in desperate need. She needed the crib for a premature baby. We ended up hooking her up with the sheets, bumper, wall decor, diaper holder, pillows and even a matching growth chart! Not to mention the clothes and changing table pad and clothes and socks and toys and oh boy was she overwhelmed...but happy!

We organized DVDs and book shelves and clothes bins. I went through the last of my mom's boxes and sifted through hundreds of pictures. It took me this long (2 years) to be able to look at those pictures and actually smile, to remember all of those good times. It was; however, difficult to throw things out. There are so few things, tactile things that represent my parents actually being here. In one box I found a pillow case that had a blood stain on it and you would think it would be a no brainer to throw it out. It was a gross, old pillow case for crying out loud but I had a hard time with it. I kept shifting it back and forth from the "throw away" pile to the "keep" pile...only because I know their heads laid upon that pillow case. It still smelled of their detergent. It wasn't the only thing that smelled of them. All of the boxes did. That was one of the reasons I never opened them. Because every time I opened one, there was their smell and it was like they were all around me.But, everything is gone now. It's either incorporated into our own stuff, donated or thrown out but it feels good.

Furniture has been moved around and space has been made to incorporate a new person. Howie went through the house and did the chores that added up on us. He replaced light bulbs and changed batteries in smoke detectors and fixed bathroom fixtures that the children had ripped from the walls. Sometimes I wonder if we are raising orangutans instead of children. He fixed falling curtain rods and reinforced dresser drawers and fixed clogged drains.

But now the house is organized and clean and there is a place for everything and everything is in it's place. It feels good. We're finishing this year all ready and set to go for the challenges and joy that the new year will bring. Bring on 2010!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Dinner

Howie: "Wow, what a wonderful dinner. Can you believe that next year we will have another kid at the table?"
Me: "No. But that will be amazing."
Birdie: "And I will be EIGHT YEARS OLD NEXT YEAR!"
Howie: "I'll be thirty eight!"
Bubs: "I'll be six!"
Birdie: "How old will you be, Mamaw?"
Mamaw: "Lets not talk about that."
Howie: "How old do you think she'll be?"
Birdie: "90"
Bubs: "39"
Bear: "OLD!"

The consensus was that Bear came the closest.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


On Monday I had to pick up Chase from the Y. Bubs had an eye appointment that morning and since her mom couldn't drop her off, I offered to pick her up. As I was leaving the Y I noticed a pair of gloves in the passenger seat. I had forgotten to take them into the event I worked on Saturday night.

It was a dinner and gift Christmas party for a homeless shelter. It's a transitional housing for adults and I will tell you all about it in another blog. One of the things I did was collect items for the 70 residents there; things like gloves, socks, hats, shampoo, shavers, etc...

I had obviously forgotten to take the gloves in on Saturday. As I got into the car I heard a distinct voice..."somebody needs these gloves." And when I hear something like that, something so out of the blue and wonderful I try to pause and listen because I know it's coming from a good place.

And since I was in a poor area of town I decided to drive around and see if anyone needed the gloves because I had no idea what to do with them and I have to tell you, I felt kind of dumb doing it. I was just driving around aimlessly so I prayed for a little help.

Not long after, I noticed an old man shoveling snow from a sidewalk in front of an old, run down house. He was unkempt and wearing old, dirty clothes and was shoveling without gloves so I thought to myself, this MUST be the person who needs them.

I pulled over, rolled down the window and offered him the gloves. He smiled a huge, warm and wonderful smile and said exactly this, "I don't need those, you need to give them to a young man." I asked him if he was sure and he just smiled again and sent me on my way.

I felt completely defeated, deflated, REJECTED! Because you see, this is one my biggest fears: giving to someone who then rejects you. It's hard to give sometimes not because you don't want to share but because it's often awkward.

I decided to go home, thinking I would give them to Hal but as I went home I remembered that the foodbank was open on Mondays and I thought I could just drop them in there. Surely someone would need them.

I immediately noticed a young man, 18 or 19 years old, desperately looking for work. He said he was shoveling driveways and was hoping they could put his name out. I looked to see what he needed and guess what it was? Gloves.

I had no idea who to give them to but they still made it to the right place. I know I saw God on Monday. And he was shoveling a sidewalk in Connecticut.

Monday, December 14, 2009

To Cell Phone or Not to Cell Phone

If you know me at all, you know that I am terrible with cell phones. I have one but only because it's totally masochistic and can really take a beating. I have killed countless others by violence, neglect and even drowning!

I rarely keep mine charged and use it even less often. If you have left me a voice mail on my cell phone expect a call back somewhere around the neighborhood of 6 months from now.

So I don't really understand people and their obsession with their cell phones! And I am especially troubled by my 7 year old's consistent badgering about "needing" one. She's seven. Who the heck is she gonna call? Me? She can try but she might be waiting a while for a returned call!

I steadfastly refuse to buy her a cell phone. That's just craziness!! That doesn't stop her from working on me. For right now she's content to play with a broken cell phone so she can pretend. And as she pretended to text and email and Facebook farm, I was overcome with an intense feeling of dejavu.

Later on, I borrowed Howie's cell phone (because mine was of course not charged) and when I returned it he declared that he could "finally use the bathroom". Because you see, he can't function in any normal daily function without his phone. What if he needs to check his football stats? And what if he gets an email that just might save the world from falling out of it's axis? And what if he didn't harvest his crops on time? Oh the tragedy! Bingo! Birdie is trying to be like her daddy!

Countless times, I have yanked the phone from his hands while he is driving and attempting to look at something on that damn blackberry! And every time that I do, he looks at me like, "what? I was watching the road!" IMPOSSIBLE! First of all, the man only has ONE truly reliable eye in the first place and when that one eye is squinting and fixed upon a tiny little blackberry screen, I tend to get uneasy. Excuse me if I get a little worried that I'm sitting in a tin can with my precious children and you're veering off the road because you can't wait to check your fantasy football scores. Let me just save you a little trouble and tell you that THE STEELERS LOST!

Okay, maybe I should think really hard about what I just said because that is total grounds for divorce in this house. You know...taking the Steelers name in vain. Shame on me!

So Howie and I started talking about phone boundaries. And to be fair, computer boundaries for me too. Because I spend WAY too much time online, mostly because the computer is in the kitchen and since I spend 99.9% of my day cleaning the kitchen, it's an easy distraction for me. We don't want the kids thinking that they need to be plugged into something at all times. I don't want them to be chained to a phone or to a keyboard all day.

Now, it's not that I don't appreciate technology. I want them to know how to use everything and use it to their advantage. I just see a danger in allowing them to abuse it. And in order to teach them that, we need to be good examples. Howie needs to put down the phone if they ask him a question. I need to slide away from the computer because that email or that status update can wait until they've gone to sleep.

I just really want to teach them balance and because technology is such a slippery slope, that's a REALLY hard thing to do. I know all too well how easy it is to spend an hour on Facebook without blinking an eye. I want them to know how to use a paper map as well as google maps. I want them to know how to use the Dewey decimal system to find a book in the library. I want them to understand the value of research that does not include Wikipedia. Heck, I want them to be able to wash the dishes without using the dishwasher!! I want them to have access to everything. It's just that I worry it will take away some of their common sense and make them vulnerable. They need to have book smarts, computer smarts but they also need street smarts. They need to rely on themselves to solve problems and find information. I swear that if you took many of today's teens and put them in the woods and took away their cell phones but gave them a map and a compass, they would not be able to find their way out. And if they got a flat tire on the highway but didn't have a way to call triple A, they would sit in their car, completely vulnerable, even though they had a spare tire and a jack in the trunk.

Some may argue that there is much to be gained by allowing children to use technology and that trying to fight the advancement is futile. That's true. But there is also a danger in promoting a form of communication which eliminates their "real" interactions with people. Because we all know how easy it is to be a different person online. I guess I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to technology and my kids. I love that all three of the kids knew how to use a computer by the age of 2. But I don't like that Bear knows how to find Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" on Youtube...BY HERSELF!

I understand that we are moving forward at a break-neck pace technologically speaking and frankly, I believe that very soon one day, PCs will be archaic technology, replaced by PDAs.

I look forward to communicating with my children by text. I love that they will be able to tell me if they missed their school bus or forgot their library book or if practice ended a little early and they need a ride. But I also look forward to spending a lot of face-to-face time with them. Because texting and phone calls and emails and IMs are great, but they aren't real communication. They can "roflol" all they want but nothing beats truly rolling on the floor and laughing out loud with your kids!

Thursday, December 10, 2009



It snowed yesterday. About five inches of snow with sleet and rain. Which is why I freaked out when I woke up in the morning because I started to worry that since school was closed and Howie was staying home from work, that the adoption teaming would not happen. After all, why would they drive all the way to work in the freezing rain??

I emailed Michael and said basically for him to let me know the re-scheduled date of the teaming and something about how I was soon going to be without fingernails and hair.

I went outside to play with the kids and build a snow man and when I came inside I had an email from Michael. It said this:

"call me."

My heart dropped because that just didn't sound like good news. I did but he was at lunch. Hal was working in the basement and so I went down to the basement to vent. He was on the phone and said that there had been two beeps so we checked to see who called and it was both of the social workers. This made the little hairs on my arms stand up.

I ran back upstairs to call our social worker, Amy but just as I reached the top, the cell phone rang. It was the other social worker, Michael.

Good news! They picked us. Out of 25 families they picked US! We are the proud new adoptive family to a little boy named Raul. He is 5 years old, just a couple of months older than Bubba. He is also autistic, very similar to Bubba in terms of development as well.

We are immediately starting the transition to bring him home over the next six weeks!

I just can't believe it. We're beyond excited and joyful and blessed and hold on just a second while I jump up and down and scream.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Okay, since everyone else is doing it, I should just go ahead and fess up and admit that I too have been having an affair with Tiger Woods.

And so was Mamaw.

And my neighbor down the street.

And that cashier girl at Stop and Shop.

And our mail lady.

But other than that and all the other women who have come out of the wood work, he's a totally upstanding, family guy.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pull Over!!

We went to Pennsylvania last weekend to attend the wedding of one of Howie's cousins. It's a journey that we rarely take because being stuck in the minivan with three kids for 5 hours straight sounds more like the way prisoners of war are tortured for government information and less like a fun vacation.

Although this trip wasn't so bad. They were surprisingly agreeable. We took Mamaw with us because she obviously wanted to attend the nuptials and here's the ironic part about that. There are five of us in our immediate family (Me, Howie, Birdie, Bubba and Bear) and between us we required two large suitcases and our coats for a 2 day trip. She is one Mamaw and she brought FOUR BAGS! Yes, she is staying a few extra days but it's not like she'll be there till the end of 09!

So anyway, she went with us and she always likes to sit in the front seat. This is partially because she can't climb into the middle seating of the minivan, even with the help of the "oh shit" bars attached to the roof and seats. This means that either me or Howie or both of us have to hoist her into the back of the car. There she is trying desperately to swing her leg into the car and I am trying to catch said leg so as to direct it into the vehicle while Howie has both of his hands on her ass, trying to lift and shove her into the seat. It's a task that leaves sweat on your brow so I try to avoid it at all costs. She also doesn't like it when Howie and I are in the front seat because we talk and she can't hear everything we are saying and that bugs the shit out of her. Now that I think of it, she does that everywhere, not just in the car. She will follow us around so that she will know everything that is going on which wouldn't be a problem if she didn't feel it necessary to then tell everyone else what is going on too. When she lived with us for six months, we swore that she would sleep with her face against the wall so that she could hear any and every conversation because she would ask questions and clarifications of things we had discussed in our a whispered tone. She once reprimanded us for having sex. Because apparently being discreetly intimate with your spouse in your own home is "un-necessary" and "we don't need to be doing that". But I digress. It's just clear that she wants to always ride in the front seat.

But I also have this teensy little problem: I get car sick. Especially in the back seat for extended periods of time. For this trip we were already leaving a bit late and I didn't really want to bother with getting Mamaw in the back so I just said I would sit there. Big mistake. No sooner had we reached the highway did my stomach begin to churn and hurt and OH THE NAUSEA. And then the dizziness and OH MY GOD WHY ARE WE GOING SO FAST. Those trees sure are going by at warp speed and the rocking, oh Lord...please stop THE ROCKING!!

If you've ever been car/sea/motion sick you understand that there is a feeling of almost panic because you are trapped inside of a rocking vehicle. You could be on a boat with water all around you, you could be in an airplane with 40,000 feet below you or you could be in a car, trapped with 3 kids, a Mamaw who didn't bathe and a farty husband. And before you know it, you start to realize that all of the windows are up and you are trapped in the backseat and you start to imagine that there is only so much air in the cabin and it's all turning to carbon dioxide and then you can't breathe and LET ME OUT OF THIS CAR! I made it just inside of New York before I started gagging and vomiting. I had spent the first hour of the trip with my head between my legs trying desperately to make it work but it just wasn't going to happen. I made Howie pull over so that I could vomit on the mile marker and take a breath of fresh air. Mamaw had to ride in the back from then on.

I was still sick for the entire trip, just at a lesser degree. We will now always add an extra 10 minutes to our trips so as to have enough time to hoist Mamaw into the back seat.

The wedding was nice although I did sort of wonder if it was appropriate for a 42 year old pregnant woman to get married in white. I get that every bride wants to wear white on her wedding day and it's tradition, regardless of symbolism. We all know nowadays that the chances of the bride being a virgin are slim to none. It's understood. But we look the other way because like I said, it's tradition and it has less to do with her chastity than the pomp and circumstance of the wedding. But wearing white while your pregnant? That's pushing it a little bit isn't it?

Anyway, the wedding was simple and beautiful. The kids were fantastically behaved and I didn't suffer (much) from the car sickness on the way home. Even still, I don't think we will be traveling back to Pennsylvania for quite a long time. If only to give my head and stomach a few months to recover.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I Justine

A few months ago, I came across a viral video comedienne named ijustine. Honestly, she's hysterical. She goes out and does incredibly funny videos about absolutely anything. From her 300 page phone bill to spoofs about changing her facebook profile pic set to the tune of the Black Eyed Peas "I Got A Feeling" to her exasperated plea for a cheeseburger, all of the videos are relevant and funny and often set to music. Her recent video is about those terribly corny and ridiculous jewelry commercials that started airing as soon as the turkey left-overs hit the refrigerator shelves. Seriously, the one that starts with the storm outside always gets my attention because I think it's a movie and then I get all interested until I realize that it's so sappy that I start to feel all sticky and dirty for watching it. I'm glad to see I'm not the only ones who thought the recent commercials were over the top cheesy.

Check out Justine's new video here.


She's funny and goofy and silly and sarcastic and ridiculous and childish and crazy. In other words...she's me. A much younger, much prettier, much funnier, much braver me.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Power of a Badge

I don't normally do this but just had to pass this along as I got a real tickle out of it...

The Power of a Badge.....

A DEA officer stops at a ranch in Texas , and talks with an old rancher. He tells the rancher, "I need to inspect your ranch for illegally grown drugs. " The rancher says, "Okay , but do not go in that field over there," as he points out the location.

The DEA officer verbally explodes saying, " Mister, I have the authority of the Federal Government with me. " Reaching into his rear pants pocket, he removes is badge and proudly displays it to the rancher. "See this badge? This badge means I am allowed to go wherever I wish.... On any land. No questions asked or answers given. Have I made myself clear? Do you understand? "

The rancher nods politely, apologizes, and goes about his chores.

A short time later, the old rancher hears loud screams and sees the DEA officer running for his life chased by the rancher's big Santa Gertrudis bull......

With every step the bull is gaining ground on the officer, and it seems likely that he'll get gored before he reaches safety. The officer is clearly terrified. The rancher throws down his tools, runs to the fence and yells at the top of his lungs.....

" Your badge. Show him your BADGE ! "

Friday, December 4, 2009

December Ninth

I finally heard from one of the social workers. They were able to schedule a teaming and it will take place on December 9th. At that time a group of social workers will get together to discuss the case files of all prospective adoptive parents, including us. They will also make a decision as to which family best meets the needs of the adoptive child.

*jumps up and down*

Now, there is still a good chance that he won't be the right match for us but I'm feeling very optimistic. I've badgered the social workers enough so that maybe they'll just pick us so that I will QUIT BUGGING THEM ALREADY!!! Even if it's not the right fit, that just means we're one step closer to finding the right boy.

I have no idea what time they are meeting but I'm hoping that it's earlier in the day so that I can hopefully get a phone call. Otherwise I will have to twist and writhe and bite my fingernails in bed all night long.

I have a gut feeling that we're the right family for him. But that could just be that I so want it to work that I'm making it seem that way in my head. I'm one of those types of people who believes in signs and I feel like they are all around me. First, Bubs got promoted to Kindergarten which opens up a place in the pre-school which is where he would need to be. Coincidence? Perhaps.

Second, the other night- out of the blue- a woman gave us 2 HUGE bags of clothes that fit Bubba because he has grown length wise out of his 5T clothes. Which means that we have a huge amount of 5T clothes just waiting for someone to wear. Ahem.

I's a stretch but I'm trying to look at things in a positive manner, to pick out the little things, the signs that perhaps some of us would miss. I guess it's because I believe that God takes care of us, many times in ways that we never even recognize. I think he's preparing us in ways only a father can.

*jumps up and down again*

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Two Years

If Roses grow in Heaven
Lord, Please pick a bunch for me
Place them in my mothers arms
and tell her they're from me
Tell her I love and miss her...
and when she turns to smile,
Place a kiss upon her cheek
and hold her for awhile
Because remembering her is easy
I do it everyday
But there's an ache within my heart
that will never go away.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

All Day!

Bubby started a full day of Kindergarten this week. As many of you will recall, I had a hard time deciding what to do with him this year because he's a December baby and also, he has P.D.D (nos), a mild form of autism.

At the end of last year I had told his teachers and the special education director that I wanted him to do a full day of pre-school again because I didn't want to push him and I knew that because of his birthday, I wouldn't really be holding him back.

Well, he grew tremendously during the summer. He made huge advances in speech and motor skills as well as being able to sit for extended periods of time and pay attention. On top of that, I noticed that he tended to mirror the behavior and speech of children around him and I was very afraid that he would go to pre-school with children who were significantly behind him developmentally and start to regress.

I asked for him to do morning preschool and afternoon Kindergarten and they looked at me like I had completely lost my mind. I still wanted him to have the safety and security and reinforcement of preschool but I also wanted him to be challenged and have the exposure to "normal" kids. They reluctantly agreed. But only because I threatened to stand outside the school with my picket signs until they agreed.

He started school and did handsomely. All of my worries about Kindergarten were completely unfounded because not only did he keep up, he excelled. His attention to detail and ability to pay attention serves him well. In many cases, he performs better than many of his classmates! By the time teacher orientations rolled around, the school suggested that we meet for our annual PPT to determine what his goals should be for the rest of the year.

To our surprise, the director of special education suggested that he be promoted to all day Kindergarten since he had met all of his objectives in pre-school. We all thought he would benefit from the repetition of a full day. Everyone else only gets half day so Bubs is getting it full force. His teachers adore him. They ooh and aah and tell me how wonderful and sweet and agreeable he is. It's nice to hear this and it's in stark opposition to what we hear about Birdie!

He is right on par with all of his classmates. He is starting to read and is beginning to understand math. His social skills are exponentially better than ever. I can't even begin to express how amazing this is for us. This is a boy who only 2 years ago was completely unreachable. A boy who had ZERO speech, who couldn't tolerate hot and cold and dark and light. This is a boy who had no sense of self or recognition of others, a boy who was trapped in a loop of repetitive action, a boy who could not see out of his shell.

It's hard for people who know him now to imagine this about him. They see a normal little boy who functions very well. A boy who is heart-achingly gorgeous. But we remember. It's all still so clear in our mind and it's almost like a dream, a miracle that he is where he is today.

Many parents have high expectations for their kids. They want them to excel in reading or math or science. They want them to be exceptionally behaved or have musical talent in order to make themselves stand out. All we ever wanted for Bubba was for him to fit in. We wanted him to just be normal so that he wouldn't stand out as being different.

He will always face difficulties, we will always have the challenges of helping him maneuver the world. I'm so excited to see what he can accomplish!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Belated Wishes

1 comment:
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I know...I'm a little late in wishing you a happy holiday but as we tell our kids "you get what you get and you don't get upset!"

We had a terrific turkey day. It was just me and Howie and the kids and Mamaw. I cooked dinner with a little assistance from Birdie. This year she peeled potatoes and it was wonderful except for the little part where she had trouble getting the potato shavings into the trash so they went flying across the room and stuck to the walls and floors and cabinets.

I kept it pretty simple: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and corn. I normally make an authentic pumpkin completely authentic...homemade crust, pumpkin puree from a cooked sweet pumpkin and freshly whipped cream. This year I couldn't be bothered so I made it from a jello box. It was still good. They ate it just as excitably which led me to wonder why I normally put all that time and effort into an authentic pumpkin pie!

We ate at noon and lounged around the house for the rest of the day. It was so wonderful and relaxing, all around enjoyable! I totally love my family and have so much for which to be thankful.

We are starting to get our own traditions in our family. For example, we always have a Butter Braid for breakfast and then let our bellies grumble until noon. After dinner, Howie sits in his family room chair with a pile of black friday flyers and a magic marker. Later in the afternoon, we begin decorating for Christmas. We put up our tree and begin digging decorations out of the basement which isn't always an easy feat seeing as how my decorations always seem to be labeled in the wrong containers. Our Christmas stuff is labeled "Easter" and "Fall" and "Fourth of July". It's a good thing they are see-through because otherwise we'd be SK-A-ROOD!

The house looks lovely although not nearly cheesy enough for me. I like my decorations gaudy and cheap and totally over the top. This is a total departure from my normal sense of decorating. My house is usually very empty, devoid of anything stylish or even pretty because I LOATHE knick knacks or anything that makes for clutter. But Christmas? CLUTTER IT UP, BABY! Unfortunately, my husband doesn't see it that way. He prefers something with a little more class. So we use only white lights and try to stay away from too much over the top decorating. It's a compromise that I make because in return I get to be completely crazy and totally unreasonable during the rest of the year.

We also have a tradition of buying an ornament every year to represent what was going on in our life at that time. We have one for the year we moved in together and the year we got married and for the birth of each child and for the things they loved and accomplished each year. This year we will have to get one that says "Boom Boom Pow" for Bear. Or maybe they make a Black Eyed Peas one? Because she's been obsessed with them for months. She's only 3, yet if I let her she would decorate her room with posters of Fergie and and Taboo and whoever the other guy is. For Bubba it would be something about Kindergarten and his amazing accomplishments which is so incredible, it deserves a blog unto itself. And Birdie? Do they make an ornament for being a pain in the ass? An ornament which shows that she never combs her hair or that she has the stinkiest feet I've ever smelled? That's it! I'll get her a smelly foot ornament! It will be so heart warming.

We also decorated the front of our house for the first time ever. Our landscaping had been so out of control in the previous years that although we wanted to, there was just no way to make it happen. But since we cleaned everything up this fall, we were able to cover our arborvitaes and four junipers with white lights. It looks GAWJUS if I do say so myself.

Yep. We're all set for Christmas. Except that we're not. :-)