Friday, January 29, 2010

There is a light at the end of the tunnel . . .

and it isn't a train!  LOL  I am feeling slightly better but Kirsty decided that she would postpone her family's visit until later in February.  She could tell that I was wiped and thought it was the better part of valor.  I would have gone with the visit because I don't like to stress other folks out.  I am glad she is better at making sure I take care of myself than I am!  So the weekend while not quiet per se, will be way less busy and noisy and that is a good thing. 

I have finished 2 of the big projects here at the office.  I had a 90 minute conference call today for a grant we are trying to get here to expand our site's computer lab capacity for our tenants.  It is a great thing and I would love to see it happen but grants sure suck time up in a big BIG way.

Funny story though. My office is rapidly becoming at least as secure as Fort Knox due to new federal guidelines issued.  Cabinets are locked, not just office doors, and now my computer must be password protected.  I keep telling people I am a computer dunce.  People don't believe me.  So my main office sent a letter explaining how to do the protection.  I called someoen in my main office to have them walk me through as I was not sure that i was reading it correctly. She assured me that I was and i proceeded.  Together we made my computer so secure I was locked out of it till   today when the computer tech could bail me out!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wiped out Wednesday

This is one of my favorite pictures of Chet and it actually has nothing to do with my post.  It is just that it is hard to get good pictures of him, so I really treasure those that we have.  In that one moment in time in this picture, , the essence of his personality is more fully present.  There is a spark that is sometimes lost in the confusion of the way his mind interprets the world that seems so normal to the rest of us.

But I am babbling basically.  I am tired.  Work has been flat out and there isn't a lot of hope that it will ease up in the near future.  I hope to put in to take Kirsty's birthday off. (Feb 9th) It will make it more easy to help the kids with our plans but we will see how it goes. 

KC and Lissa have colds that they have shared with me.  Usually my herbs keep such cruds at bay pretty well but I suspect the fact that I am a bit rundown has allowed the cold to seep into my system and work its evil magic.  Blah.  And I didn't sleep particularly well last night as KC was mildly feverish and making weird noises in his sleep.  I admit to having fears of my kids choking and dying in their sleep.  I know it is weird and irrational but it almost happened when KC was a few weeks old and I can't shake it. So everytime he made a weird gasp in his sleep I would waken and check.  I am slightly consoled by the fact that my coworker shares this same irrational fear! At least if I am bonkers I have a friend for company.

We have also had a lot of piece work to do here at home.  This is good. The tax bill is due soon.  But it is tiring as well. However another friend lent me CD's of the first season of True Blood. She heard that I was watching Vampire Diaries and thought I would like this more.  It is good, but I actually prefer the sanitized vampires without the graphic sex on the CW!  The good thing about piece work though is I can't stare mindlessly at the screen.  I have to look at the paper i am folding so I don't have my eyes on the show during anything super graphic.  Clearly I am a weenie when it comes to graphic sex on tv.  Or am just shell shocked as I haven't had pay channels like HBO and i am really used to regular channels regulated by stiffer controls.  And yet the plot line is intriguing enough that I want to see how things resolve.  But not tonight.  Tonight I am taking more zinc and an elderberry lozenge and heading to bed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gender questions

My eldest always chats with me in the morning when I am getting my clothes for work. Something about the fact that my head is stuck in the closet makes him very comfortable asking me song lyrics, my opinion on greenhouse gasses, or what we might have for supper.  Today he took it up a notch and asked me if I thought he was bisexual. Um, sure I was thinking about that very topic while i was finding my black sweater!  LOL

I know that there was a transgendered speaker at church on Sunday.  I didn't hear the sermon as I was helping with the youth programming, but I assume this is what started the thought process.  I explained that it wasn't really a question I could answer.  You couldn't look at someone and decide that. I will say in his neuro psych evaluation when he was a late teen, he did test as 'gender confused.'  However the reality is that he has never really expressed much interest in either sex in that manner. He has never had a romantic relationship.  He does dress in ways that could lead one to assume he might lean toward being gay.  He loves big earrings, lots of jewelry, flowy clothing, painted fingernails and the color pink.  However, I explained that any of these things in and of themself do not a gay or bisexual person make. 

I suggested that he have a private conversation with the fellow who spoke at church on Sunday.  I know this man and I am comfortable that he would be open to conversing with my son and that it would be unlikely that anything Chet could come out with would be really startling to him.  I did  have to explain to Chet that this should be  a  private conversation.  He should not expect to stand in fellowship hall after service and have this conversation.  It deserved attention and thought and none of this could happen if they were trying to shout over the hubbub of coffee hour.  We practiced a bit how he could approach P at church and ask for time to speak with him.  He seems quite animated about doing that.  We will see what unfolds.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A new celebration!

My kids continually crack me up.  At church this month the focus for the month has been on birthdays.  Birthdays being something everyone has and the whole Sunday school worked making birthday kits to be given out with the food at our church food pantry.  It was sobering to them ,I think, to come to grips with the fact that some kids might not get a birthday party.  We don't do expensive parties but hey, we always party! 

This Sunday was capped off by a birthday tea (actually 2 of them since we have a 2 service format) where the kids made goodies and decorations and invited the congregation at fellowship to sit at a table designating their birthday month.  It was fun for kids to hear grownups talk about their favorite birthday gift ever etc. 

In a couple weeks we will be celebrating Kirsty's birthday.  We have a lot of fun planning that and have some kicking gifts for her this year.  This coming Saturday we are celebrating Yule with Kirsty's side of the family and also her sisters birthday.  But that is not enough celebration for my brood.  LOL

KC informed me that we had to have a birthday party for his teddy bear and that Lissa's bear and dolls were invited.  Sooooooo, he has been busy making invitations, gifts for his bear out of bendyroos and has informed me that this gala celebration  will be Feb. 13th and I will need to make a bear cake.  My mom heard about it and decided she would like to come to the teddy bear birthday so I guess we'll have company for that.  And of course, Valentines Day is the following day and ehem, we celebrate that in grand style too! 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

All hail the computer tech!

I have a computer again!  The most wonderful awesome computer guy came for a house call, spent 2 hours and voila, fixed zee computer.  No more plagued by 181 viruses and other nasties (all of which is weird since we have spyware and McAfee)  I am just thankful for this guy.  He is so *nice* and he talks real people talk.  If any computer techs read my blog I apologize in advance.  Typically if I call a computer tech help line from work I get some guy who listens, at least for a few seconds, interupts me twice and then says "well take the wonket and turn it into a bita boppy file upload it thru wiggywonky and you will be all set.  Uh, yuh, sure!

This guy is willing to accept that I have talents--and that not a one of them lie in the technology industry!  And he is able to work his technological magic amidst the chaos of my life-the kids, the dog, the cat, the work room where I probably have 8 cartons of semi finished piece work all over the place.   Truly, life is good!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Haitian thoughts

I am watching the help for Haiti concert on TV.  I have to take a break periodically (hence the blogging) because the images of Haiti keep reducing me to a pathetic weepy eyed mess.  Since what my hands are doing (or supposed to be doing) is folding tissue paper for piece work--this is not good.  But this outpouring of love and help for the Haitian people is good.  I have tried to get through on the phone line to donate and it has been busy every time. 

My tenant who went to Haiti to visit family has still not been accounted for.  This makes the situation feel very personal for me.  Looking at the pictures of the children who have been separated from their family, whose family may never be found, makes me cry too.  Please understand that I am not saying there should be a mass adoption of Haitian children.  But the mother in me cries for children who don't have loving arms to hold them, who can reassure them.

My boss thinks that we should worry about the homeless people in our own country instead of reaching out to the Haitians who have lost so much.  As long as there is one homeless person in the states, he feels we should focus or energies and resources inward.  Um, needless to say, we can't talk about this situation much.  He feels badly about our tenant who is in Haiti but this really is his ideological position.  I can't wrap my mind around that.  I want to do for our own, but this so vastly surpasses anything anyone could imagine for need.

I have listened to people tell me that they are sick of stars "yapping" about how much they are giving to the relief effort.  You know what?  I would rather hear about that then what club they went to, what they wore to a premiere.  I think that at least at times like this, these people seem to remember that rightly or wrongly, they can do much both financially and to set a tone for giving.  If people want to donate becuase they might get Reese Witherspoon on the phone tonight, or because they think George Clooney is hot, well so be it.

OK, I have to get back to work now.  Wipe eyes, fold paper. Pray for Haiti.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Audit Day and computer woes

My computer is acting wonky.  Sigh.  I have run a virus scan and it quarantined something but it is still not right.  I am not tech savvy. This requires someone who is.  I will have to call the guru that fixed it a few years ago.

On the plus side, my annual housing audit was today and it went very well.  Intellectually, I know that both my coworker and I work hard to follow the multitudious regulations that are involved in our line of work.  We endeavor to balance human decency and beauracracy--sometimes two very mutually exclusive things!  Sometimes the desire for that balance is what gets you into trouble.  This year, it didn't. We received excellent marks and are set for another year.  (wiping brow)  I am glad it is over.  I am tired.  I am also in the process of writing more than 300 new leases (due to some of the aforementioned beauracracy) and in the midst of filing for a rent increase on the subsidy portions of our rents.  To say there is barely time to breathe is an understatement.

But it is nearly Friday.  The weekend beckons.  And tonight the kids and I decorated the house for Valentines Day. We began the process a few weeks ago but decorated in our house tends to mean it isn't done till every square inch screams whatever the holiday is.  It doesn't matter to me that it is garish and overdone.  They had so much fun with it. And it was so very much what I am trying to give them.  As they hauled the decorations out of the box the conversations were peppered with "remember when I made"  "will we have xyz again?"  "Lissa, let me tell you how Rob did this. . . " That is the magic of celebrating to me.  When my kids are grown and on their own, I hope that the first time they see a holiday display when they are shopping that it triggers these happy memories for them.  That for just a moment they are transported back to a simpler time when a paper valentine garland rocked their world.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

An email from Jane

Fiona will call tonight and typically Jane and I touch base before the call via email. This happened as usual today.  In Jane's email she said that she really liked the scrapbook that I made for Fiona (whew!) and would I mind adding a picture of our home and some type of wording about the fact that though we don't live in our home that we are connected by love and phone calls and letters.  I am cool with that; I did not do anything like that because in prior emails it seemed like Jane wanted us to back of the "love" word but I suspect from the way the phone calls have gone that she feels it is okay.

The more challenging part of the email involved a question from Jane about whether or not I felt that we had to discuss Fiona's removal and the fact that she was never coming to live at our home before we plan a visit.  Jane said, quite correctly, that this is the 'elephant in the room' that we never talk about.  I agree but am hesitant to have this conversation.  First of all, it happened 9 years ago.  9 years ago is a lifetime for a child.  And the actual reason that she never came back to our house was a result of the comprehensive testing that took place in two treatment facilities that both concluded a regular family environment could not keep her safe.  I mulled things over a bit and then asked Jane via email if we could sort of walk around the elephant.  Fiona has done well moving forward and has begun to have some goals--a volunteer assignment that may ultimately lead to a job, for instance.  If there is a housing goal to work toward, say a group home or apartment on the school grounds with less supervision, would that not be perhaps a healthier focus.  I always feel a  bit nervous making suggestions to clinical folks.  I am not a therapist, not a counselor, but I do appreciate being part of the process.  I hope so very much that we find a way to handle this in a way that doesn't hurt Fiona.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Helicoper Buzzing

I have read some interesting posts recently about "helicopter moms."  The idea is that they are always buzzing around fixing things, their children never experience consequences and grow up helpless and confused.  I want my kids to grow up to be self sufficient and successful in whatever life path they choose.  But by some standards I am a helicopter mom.

One post referred to the mom making breakfast and lunch for children who were older than 5.  The horror!  Gasp and dismay!  So I thought I would put another slant out there as to why I cook breakfast and cook lunch for and with my kids.  And supper too, if K is working that night.

My eldest is on the autistic spectrum.  He can not read body signals worth a plug nickel.  He to this day can not tell when he is hungry, thirsty, hot or cold with any amount of reliability.  He often confuses one for the other. He also doesn't particularly enjoy eating so he will not eat unless it is put in front of him at a set time.  If left to his own devices, he doesn't notice hunger, and either gets a migraine or passes out.  I'll helicopter thank you as opposed to those two options!

My 13 y/o came to us at 5 from a situation where he had experienced trauma and neglect.  Food was  then and remains today,  huge to him.  By and large we have eliminated the hoarding, though it still rears its gross little head from time to time.  At 5 he remembered being hungry.  He remembered situations where the kids scrounged cold hotdogs because there was not someone able to cook for them. It was proof to him that adults were not to be trusted to take care of kids.   For him, cooking for him, putting enough food in front of him, is reassuring.  It is an act of love. It is in a weird way, probably the first way he began to attach to us.  Luckily I don't mind cooking!  I like to cook with the kids help and they all are pretty accomplished at it all ready. (with the exception of my eldest who is hampered by his disability but can do microwave reheats) I still get all their breakfasts in the morning, but now, I hang back a bit for the extras that go with the humungous breakfasts at our house.  My 13 y/o will get himself that 3rd piece of toast or another cinnamon bun or scone.  He can do for himself, but the reassurance of the fact that I will do it and do it consistantly are a key part of how we built our bond together.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Valentine Decorations

It is time to start decking out our house for another one of my favorite holidays--Valentines Day!  Now I know there is a significant segment of society that thinks this is a "fake" holiday generated by Hallmark.  History would show otherwise.  :-)  But history aside, I personally think a day that makes us think of ways to show our love for others is always a good bet.  I decided that this year we needed an official Valentine mailbox.  Our plan in years past was to make heart pockets that hung from everyone's chair in the dining room.  Over the 4 to 6 weeks leading up to Valentines Day they would gradually be filled with notes, drawings etc.  But, this year Lissa is far more active and mobile and not yet old enough to understand that she should not rifle all those pretty heart pockets.  So I found a Christmas mailbox up in the attic and covered it with construction paper and shiny silver hearts.  It can all come off easily if we ever want or need to use the mailbox for Yule.

Then Elisabeth and I made this little centerpiece for the dining room.  We got the kit on sale at the end of last years Valentines Day.  I tend to go the day after an event or the day before and look for the 60 per cent off sales to put away for the coming year.  This was such  a find.  Most of the decorations were peel and stick but a few things did need a low temp glue gun to adhere.  She had the best time though working with me on it.

Today the weather was glorious!  It was that day or two that you get in New England that remind you that someday you WILL be warm again. The sun shone brightly, there was a nip in the air but not a freezing feeling. The kids played outside, it was so great.  It ends tomorrow I guess but I'll carry this memory forward for a few weeks at least before I forget again that once upon a time I was warm!  LOL

Friday, January 15, 2010

More on a visit

I got an email from Jane yesterday and she had met with Fiona's mini-team  about a potential visit somewhere down the road.  They are willing to fetch us if we take the train in which is absolutely fantastic news.  I was googling to figure out subway and bus schedules and such but to do this w/ all the kids in tow was obviously going to be stressful.  Jane also had questions for me on a family member who apparently has expressed interest in seeing Fiona.  I identified who the person was.  It was funny though that Fiona's social worker didn't know who the person was.  On the other hand, maybe she is just overworked and I am sure the file is an immense one  after all these years.

A co-worker of mine asked yesterday why I work so hard at keeping these connections.  She pointed out quite rightly that my son doesn't seem all that interested in it.  Truthfully, I don't think he is.  I think at this point in his life, knowing that his other siblings are safe and doing well (by whatever yardstick at 13 y/o uses) is enough for him. His primary focus is our immediate family, his friends and sports.  Ah yes, my Rob is all about sports! LOL   However, there will come a time when he wants and needs more than that.  If I haven't done my part, keeping ties as strong as possible, keeping doors of communication wide open, he is going to feel angry at me, or disloyal to me if he tries to do this on his own, or just plain confused and frustrated.  I don't want that for him. 

That is one part of the equation.  The other is that quite simply I care.  I have known Fiona and Crystal since they were 9. (they are only 9 months apart and were the same age when I met them) I have known Dee for a much shorter time but I care about all these kids. They have had so much hardship and loss.  I can't make up for that.  But I can be in relationship with them.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Show time

I am watching KC and Elisabeth create a "show."  KC has a head set for singing with and Lissa has a sparkly gold cape that has been turned into a dress.  There has been one wardrobe malfunction but 2 successful performances.  I sit here watching them, laughing and drinking in the love and happiness of the moment.  I delight in seeing their attention to details--making a "poster" so I 'll know about the performance.  Setting up stools with their animals for additional audience.  It is all so cool.

And my mind keeps flashing back to my tenant who is in Haiti.  He has 4 children in an apartment with his girlfirend here in the States.  They have not heard from him and they have as of now, no idea if he is okay or not.  If they will see him again or not.  I hope and pray with all my heart that they do. I really hope they (and all of us really) hear something soon.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Frugality Rocks!

Essie has a too true Tuesday (that I read about on Mama Dramas x 2's blog that is very cool.  Being umm New England thrify myself (otherwise called cheap by most of America!) I hope to find more tips!  The gist is what are you all doing to save money, reuse, and further stretch the green none of us have enough of?  You can use the little linky thing at the beginning of the post to see the details in Essie's words.  Here is what I can think of that we do and trust me for some of this I get grief from the rest of society!

1.  water down kid juice (I actually do this only with KC's apple juice or unfortunate bathroom incidents happen.  My boss thinks I am being cruel to my kid!  Seriously.

2.  I have developed a network of friends and acquaintences that we share and swap clothes among.  I have not had to buy a winter coat for KC or Elisabeth or Rob this year as a result.  I did have to do snow pants for the 2 boys but Lissa even scored snow pants!

3.  We don't heat the upstairs of our house.  Our house has 11 rooms but the  upstairs is all sleeping quarters so why heat it?

4.  We wash out our ziplock bags and reuse them unless they had something really messy and yucky in them.  Marinara stains them and unless I know I have another tomato product to put in there, I will pitch them.

5.  We don't buy convenience foods.  We make all our baked goods from scratch.  It is cheaper and once you are used to it not any longer to do.  And I can pronouce all the ingredients which was the original reason I started doing that!

6.  We have one or two big errand days a week.  Other than that we don't do it as it eats up gas in a big way.

7.  I almost always pack my lunch for work.  It is almost always leftovers. Same for Chet.  Food CAN NOT be wasted. It is a rule.  I positively go ballistic if I find dead food in the fridge.  Goes back to when I left home and could barely put food in my fridge.

8.  I shop for Yule and bdays year round.  I have a myriad of hiding places.  Big gifts like the Wii I put on layaway.

9.  When I am shopping and the kids want a treat I am very um frugal.  I buy one treat for 99 c or less and they all share it.  For instance, I have often bought one danish or honey bun and cut it in 4 pieces. They only get a few bites but they are good with it.  It  is a big savings too.  I never knew that my wife was buying everyone their own treat when she had them out.  She now employs this strategy too.

10.  We don't eat fast food.  We pack lunches for things like meetings at church, picnics and car trips.

11.  We rarely long distance phone.  Email is free!

12.  We have cable but it is a company perk so I don't pay anywhere close to what I would otherwise.  Before I had this perk I had basic basic and it was under $10 a month.

13.  Vacations are always camping.  Let's face it what else can a family of 6 do that is reasonably priced!

14.  We join our local friends of the library to get discounts or free museum passes.  Helps the city, helps us.

15.  I save water bottles and wash them out. Then we don't have to buy bottled water in the summer and I just fill them and chill them with our home filtered system.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Maybe a visit?

Jane emailed me today with more questions about the EZ bake oven.  She didn't know how it heated.  OK I now know that Jane has not had young girls in her life!  I tried once more to explain the simple way it works; we will see!  LOL  She asked in the course of her email if we would ever be open to visiting Fiona.  It is a loooong commute for the kids and I but the short answer is yes.  The longer answer is that I am not willing to make this long trip and sit in a room in a school.  Because that kind of visit has negative memories for Rob.  Because he is naturally reticent and will just sit there and things will get awkward and ugly real quick.  *But* I think that if we can work this out so that she knows there is something fun we can do together near the school, this could work.   The very best visits we ever had were the ones Fiona still talks about on the phone.  Going and picking out pumpkins, buying hair care stuff, going mini golfing etc.  Those are memories she still holds onto. The times we sat together in a rec room, even when we brought games or art supplies, were never as positive. Amazingly, Jane is on board with that. She said if it happens that she would help craft a fun experience that we could share together.  I so love this woman. It is a long range plan.  But it is a possibility and it is exciting to think that it could happen.

I found Crystal!

Rob's bio-sister who was adopted by his cousin.  She is on a social network site and we made contact.  She had pics up (of course, don't all kids!!) and she looks great. So very grown up.  I showed Rob this a.m. and how he would be able to contact.  Perserverance is a good thing.  I have been working on this for what seems like years; probably is  years.  I believe the kids need this connection to each other and he was always very close to Crystal.  Whew!  I feel like I won the lottery.

Monday, January 11, 2010


One of the things I marvel at with children is the sheer utter joy with which daily events and mile stones are reached.  For Lissa, it is all about the toothpaste.  The toothpaste says not to use on children under 3.  She spent from 2.5 to the day she turned 3 on 12/16 wishing for toothpaste.  The fact that she brushes at the same time KC does probably added to the cachet.  Literally the night of her birthday she started hollering for toothpaste when she got out of the tub.  Every night thereafter she reminded KC and I that she was a big girl now and used toothpaste.  Eventually KC told her that this was getting a little boring and we would remember it and she didn't need to tell us (LOL) but of course being 3, she continued. So here she is in the fuzzy pink robe that Abuelita Maria got her for Yule using the all important toothpaste! Also gives you an idea of how teeny our bathroom is.  There is barely a foot and a half between toilet and sink. But when our house was first built, they didn't even have indoor plumbing!  Really, I am not making this up.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Kudos for kiddos

Busy Sunday for us.  Today was K's "mom's runaway day" so she is off somewhere.  LOL  I don't honestly know what she was planning on doing but assume she'll be home by 7 p.m.  Meanwhile I brought the tribe to church and had a meeting afterwards. This meant I also brought lunches for them.  They are good about meetings though. They like it there and with a few rare glitches it usually goes well. 

Today felt exceptional actually.  The minister sought me out at fellowship to tell me that Chet spoke well during the service.  There was a sermon talk back I guess (I was involved with the children's program so didn't hear it) and Chet did very well. This is huge as though my eldest is very bright, his lack of understanding of emotions and appropriate sharing have made for some interesting church experiences over the years.

KC usually is in a class with other 5 and 6 year olds.  For the month of January our church has an "inter-session" where the entire Sunday school works on a project together.  He has found the large group aspect to be a bit daunting.  9-11 kids is fine with him, upwards of 40 is not.  Last week there was a music event that he chose over the Sunday school and he sat in service with me to hear Jim Scott.  This week I wanted him to go to Sunday School.  It was clear he was anxious so I agreed to go too and brought Lissa.  They both cuddled up with me and were very appropriate.  They sang, they participated, they just needed a touchstone of family to feel safe in the larger community .

Later at the meeting one of the moms said that she admired that I was able to accept where my kids were and guide them with gentleness to the next level.  It was a beautiful compliment and has warmed me all day.  Since I can't get my house temps above 60 right now, I'll take warm wherever I can get it!  (smile)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Fiona's Memory Book

When we talked to Fiona this week she asked if I had pictures of Crystal and Dee.  I have pictures of Crystal but they are very very old.  Crystal is 17 now.  She is 9 in the pictures.  But I think that Fiona is afraid that she is forgetting what her family looks like and I agreed to send pictures.  I took Robbie's first scrapbook to Staples and got color copies made of every picture I had been able to glean of their early years.  I was lucky in that their social worker had given me some pics of the kids with foster families, pictures of when they were filmed for a TV spot and I had pictures of our visits together.  Then I went to a craft store and bought a small scrap book and a few embellishments.  I have always felt badly that Fiona doesn't have a real memory book. Dee either for that matter.  After I saw his face when he saw Rob's books (Rob is now up to 3 of them) I realized how very much he wished he had something like that.  He has a small album with a few pictures and that is it.  I whipped Fiona's  book together tonight.  I have a few pictures of extended family and I included those and wrote who they were.  In most cases I have never met these people so I can't bring any stories to life with them but possibly their pictures will bring that for her.  Or the pictures themself will just be a comfort.    I also included pictures of how we all look now because I do want to keep her mind in the present.  Her brother is a teen now, not a little 5 year old boy.

Interestingly, KC and Rob were pouring over Rob's first memory book.  There is a picture in there of one of Robbie's aunts.  KC piped up and asked Rob if that was "his first mother."  (exact quote)  I heard Rob say yes.  KC was not fazed in the least.  It was an incident to think about.  First off, I love that KC was comfortable with first mother status and that he could ask his brother that in a way that didn't make it sound weird or awkward.  I wish I did have a picture of Rob's first mother.  I don't and i wonder if the aunt truly looks like her, if he didn't want to talk about it and figured a yes would shut his brother up. . . or if he doesn't remember and how that is feeling to him.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

3 Kings Day

I meant to write about this the other day and obviously, my brain cells scattered before my fingers hit the keyboard.  LOL  My kids, especially KC, adore 3 Kings Day.  In a way I feel a bit awkward about it.  We are not latino (to our knowledge!) and we are not even Christian.  So part of me worries that I am permitting or encouraging my kids to co-opt a holiday that isn't really ours so to speak.

On the other hand, I have a lot of spanish friends.  My KC's abuelita celebrates 3 Kings Day, and i was lucky to visit friends in Puerto Rico during festival time many years ago. And although I am not Christian, I think the story of wise men following a star because something momentous and life changing had happened is beautiful.  And bringing gifts to honor, well that's all good too.  And, let's face it, there is the Dora factor.  KC and Lissa both are totally all about Dora. And folks, Dora celebrates 3 Kings Day.  So the folks here in our house did too.

It wasn't quite as well organized as most of our festivities.  That would primarily be because K forgot she was supposed to make a cake.  LOL  I think she is just "caked out" and it flew off her radar.  The kids and i had done decorations and crowns the night before. 

Luckily, my 5 year old said that since we didn't have  a cake, we could play games and the winner of the games could wear the crown.  So that was what we did. First we played the matching game that Rob made for Lissa for Yule.  It is a set of handmade cards (using clip art) of about 15 pairs of pictures.  She loves it.  Then we played the Wiggles Game that she and KC like and then a card game of War.  It actually was  a lot of fun and our gifts?  The time together.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Resolving Resolutions

There is always hue and cry over resolutions.  I have friends who denounce them because they say that no one ever keeps them.  I have other friends who embrace them with a fervor that makes me shudder.  I am somewhere in the middle.  They tend to work for me.  Mostly because I think if I really say to myself, hey , this is a priority, I make it so.  So I am not fervent, but I think that having that conversation with myself (In my head people, I am not walking down the street speaking in tongues!) is fairly helpful.  So here is what i came up with that I need to focus on the for new year.

1.  Use my vacation days.  Seriously I don't know what happened last year but I didn't use all my vaca time.  Specifically I think I lost 5 or 6 days.  That is fairly lame as I don't receive any compensation for not using them and they can not be rolled over.  So I resolve to take off 15 days in the coming year.  I think last year I was saddened by the fact that we really didn't have the finances to camp as much as we wanted to and that the weather didn't cooperate for a number of planned trips.  I have decided that even if I just hang at home, I am using those days!

2.  Once a month I am going to work on the kids scrapbooks.  These mean so much to them and it is much easier to keep up on all of them with a couple hours once a month instead of the marathon end of  year stress that I let happen in 09.

3.  I am going to lose 10 pounds.  OK that isn't a whole heck of a lot but you need to understand that I have never (really, honest, pinky swear) been overweight in my life.  Until this past year i could wear clothes from high school.  10 pounds will bring that back.  Not that i want to wear my high school clothes.  I just want to be that same old healthy weight that I have always been up till now.  So less snacking is in my future for 2010 too I think.  (I confess as i write this that i am dreaming of saltine crackers)

That's it.  I am not planning to scale Everest this year.  Won't run a marathon like another cool blogger I know, won't get nominated for a Nobel prize.  But if I can accomplish those 3 goals, I will be happy.  Easy to please, aren't I?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bill Belicheck never got my email

Nope, he for sure didn't.  Because I very clearly wrote that he was NOT to play our starters in a game that it didn't matter whether we won or not.  Because we needed to rest our A game players.  Big things were ahead. 

Did he listen?  No. He. Did. Not.

And early on Wes Welker, my favorite player got wrecked.  It could even be a career ending injury because of the fact that the position he plays puts a lot of stress on the knees.  Sigh.  And he had made pro-bowl this year.

This is Sad, folks.  Patriots Nation--or at least the cadre of them that live in this house, are very very sad.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Thoughts on tidiness

I try not to be anal about neatness.  For one thing, it feels exceptionally futile in a house populated by 6 humans and a dog and a cat.  I am not into tilting at windmills.  However, my spirit, I have discovered does require a certain level of order.  I should have figured that out since my bedroom is a spare and asian themed room that always feels tranquil to me.  The rest of the house---uh not so much, not so often.  I would try and help (or perhaps get!) the kids to clean up the living room at night after a day of play and it would be torture.  I began doing it myself thinking that was better than things thrown in a heap or screams of discontent.  That made me annoyed so even if it did look decent I wasnt' feeling tranquil.

Then I hit upon my post holiday genious of taking pictures of what went where and posting them on the cubbies and containers that things went in.  It was a miracle!  Like magic, clean up became easier.  My kids were not by  nature slobs. They just have short term memories and didn't know (or care all that much!) where the stuff went!  But when they experienced how much quicker clean up was, how much FUN it was to have a neat space with no tears, I could not believe the buy in.  I think there has been one teeeny tiny complaint since 12/26.  Pretty long stretch considering that the two youngest are 3 and 5.

Today I was gifted  a treasure trove of used books from a coworker.  I brought them  home and the kids were thrilled.  But the book nook (a small space under our stairs with a bookcase and tiny chair) was very untidy.  I suggested to the kids that there were too  many books there and that perhaps we should pack some away in the attic and rotate them.  They really got into it and helped sort the books.  2 boxes went to the attic.  We have agreed to look at them in the spring and see if we still want them or if they will become part of our yard sale.  The new books were all neatly stored and the fact that there are fewer on the shelves will I think (hope, pray . . .) mean that the nook stays clean(er). 

We will see how it goes.   Perhaps if my tax refund is hefty this year I will design a closet system for our front hall.  Another area of perpetual clutter and this I know is no ones fault, there just isn't enough storage for the plethora of coats, boots and winter wear that we have.  But for now, I'll just go sit in the book nook!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Snowy Saturday

Seems like Winter knows its time has come.  Awoke to snow, but not so much that we couldn't shovel out us, our elderly neighbor and still get morning stuff done.  Banking, library run, shopping and a visit to K at the clubhouse.  All normal routine things--the only missing thing was dance class as they are not open till next week--and I think it helped. We have had fun, but we need our routines.  We need, the kids need, to know in their bones what is happening next.  Too much excitement becomes a recipe for ugliness and i am glad we have avoided that this season.

We stopped in and visited w/ KC's former daycare provider and brought her a Christmas gift.  I  made her a calendar with different pictures of the kids (though more KC months than the others as he is so very close to her heart) I am glad we went as it turned out she had a hard Christmas.  A son overseas, marital problems, but KC walking in the door cheerfully smiling and saying "hola, abuelita" brought an instant smile to her face.  She is very kind to Lissa and Rob too but she watched KC daily the first 9 months of his life and has always just been very very connected with him.

She had gifts for us too.  My favorite was her annual gift of frozen home made tamales and fresh dulce arroz.  The former are sooooo good and so time consuming to make that I never make them.  But I steamed up 3 for my lunch when we got home and they were heavenly.  The dulce arroz is sort of a spanish version of rice pudding.  Less heavy spicing maybe but oh so very good.

I was talking with my mom later today and said that it is funny as my child hood memories of this season just past don't have a lot of food things in them. We always made Christmas cookies but other than that I have no food memories associated with Christmas.  I wonder if it will be that way for my kids, and like me they will come to gastronomical delights of the season as teens and adults?  Although I have one child who says the best part of Yule is my cinnamon buns so who knows???

I feel a bit better today too. Sort of draggy for me, which is rather uncharacteristic, but I have still managed to get a fair amount done.  I scrubbed the kitchen and then Chet came in and said it looked real nice--now could i please make some oatmeal scotchies?  LOL  Scratch anything in my earlier paragraph about my kids and food and holidays. It is clear we are just all about the food!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 101

It doesn't take much to excite me sometimes!  Blog awards totally make me giddy!  Like this one I just got from Dia at Rancho Chico  I am supposed to list 10 things that make me happy and do one each day. Then link back to Dia's blog (yippee!  I just learned a new internet skill with the linky thing!) and list 10 more blogs to award.  My ten happy things are:

1.  My family
2.  Music--especially reggae and latin rock lately
3.  Camping
4.  Gardening
5. Playing with the kids
6. Driving standard (what can I say; I HATE driving the van, love my Metro)
                                             7.  Maine, NH and VT--my fave vaca and hiking spots
                                             8.  martial arts
                                             9.  Cooking
                                            10. Reading and homeschooling (couldn't decide which so I lumped em together)

Now for another fun part.  Awarding 10 unsuspecting bloggers with the award!  Let me digress for a minute and say that a year and a half ago or thereabouts when I started blogging, i had no idea that the journey would be like this.  I sort of looked at this all as an on line journal.  I figured the upside was when I was done writing I wouldn't be figuring out what to do with a composition notebook filled with my musings.  I also wanted a way to record my kids coming home stories as though they have memory books, I hadn't written the complete story as fully as perhaps I could have.

It never ever  occured to me that anyone would want to read anything I was writing.  I remember almost falling out of the chair the first time I saw a comment.  Sheesh, here i was not even taking time to spell check and someone out there was reading this?  Yup, they were.  And there are even a few more intrepid souls now who stop by and read.  And I have found so many friends on the internet.  Such a fount of caring parents willing to share tips to handle the challenges our kids face.  That are willing to share hopes and dreams and the sad times when we realize that sometimes our dreams can't come true for our kids and we have to readjust.  There are folks who share gardening tips that especially brighten my days because the gardens of my minds eye never measure up the few hours of daylight that I have to devote to plants and horticulture.  And there are food blogs that I adore too.  With new ideas and cool twists on old recipes.  So now, now that I have found the internet is so full of  a wealth of friends and treasures, which 10 do I nominate.  (and some of these poor folks may not even know that I stop by their blogs sometimes as I often don't have time to comment.  So hopefully no one thinks I am stalking them (LOL) and here are the lucky recipients.

1.  Claudia at Never a dull moment   because I love her posts--and the pics of the new grandbaby
2.  Thorn at Mother Issues because they are thoughtful,and more well written posts than I will ever craft!
3.  Kari at Thoughts Preserved because her struggles w/ her kids challenges remind me so much of things I went through with Chet.  I felt so alone back then and even now, reading her blog is a comfort. Plus I love coffee as much as she does!
4. Carmel at On our way because she and her partner are foster parents with huge hearts and the love comes through in her writing.
5. SW24/7  at Eyes opened wider because her posts have helped me be much less cynical about social workers.  There are good ones out there; she is one of them.
6.  Cindy at Big Mama Hollers because she parents challenging kids with honesty, with love, and sprinkles in the most amazing horticultural knowledge!
7.  Sarah at postmodernfeeding  because of her amazing recipes.  Oh my gosh the amazing recipes!
8.  Ree at The Pioneer Woman  is amazing.  Food recipes, amazing photography, homeschool tips and funny funny insights into her life. 
9.  Givers Log because I love the creative ideas.  And oh how I wish I had found that cake decorating site she listed before Lissa's birthday. 
10  And Kevin at my mind on paper a transracial adoptee sharing his story on finding his first family. 


Of sneezes and sleeping!

Well almost as bright as my shiny red nose from this cold I have been fighting!  I have this "blinkin beacon" of a red nose and a deathly pale face.  Such an attractive combo.  I don't really feel badly, but I am tired.  I haven't slept that well the past few nights.  I would either waken because of the congestion or I would waken because KC had rolled on top of me again.  Seriously I have to find a way to coax that child into his own bed.  I am reaching the end of my co-sleeping limits.  However I don't want to say anything to him as if I say things about being ready for a big boy bed, he freaks out and it is oh so very much worse.  I am trying something new tonight though.  Back in the late summer or early fall, I bought a special co-sleeping bolster so that when Lissa came into bed with us (which also happens often, that i would know she wouldn't fall out of bed.  Except that she has decided she likes to sleep on the OTHER side of the bed, not the side with the bolster.  So she will either fall out or not.  LOL  And hasn't so far.  Anyway, I slid the bolster to the about the mid third of the bed so that i have a roughly cot sized portion of bed just for me and KC, the little king (laughing) has about 2/3 of bed but a bolster between us.  I want to see if he will just cuddle up to the soft bolster.  I did read in the literature that came with it that many kids will do this.  If he does, I will gradually move the bolster further and further away from me and in my happy little dream world, by the time spring comes and warmth returns to our home, he will be in a twin bed all his own!