Spoiled Girl Gets Reality Check
Tomorrow very early - much earlier than I ever get up - my dear hubby will be heading out of town for a unplanned break silent retreat from children week-long work emergency. I'm none too happy about this turn of events, mostly because I'm incredibly spoiled. I am blessed with a work-from-home husband with flexible hours and an ability to multi-task like you have never seen. Or at least better than me. It is quite impressive, if not hard on the old self-esteem! He can be on a conference call, doing dishes and making lunch for our 4 year old without even breaking a sweat. Or complaining. Until him, I had no idea that people really truly did these chores without complaining.

As a result, I have become increasingly lazy. Like, for starters, hubby and I have had a deal for over 4 years now that he - the morning person - will get up with our early wakers and I - the parenting-through-the-night person - gets to sleep in as needed. Bliss. Spoiled bliss. Particularly now that there are no wee-ones that need me in the night! So that will be the first - and possibly most-missed - perk of at-home-hubby.

But then there are the errands. I haven't taken a child grocery shopping in years. Despite all those articles I've read by homeschoolers and Good Moms who feel like this activity is not only important but essential, I'm just not diggin' it. And either are they. We part ways at the front door and I return exhausted anyway but they still have energy for unloading the groceries for me. It's a win-win. Of course half the time hubby does this too - again, he doesn't mind, he doesn't even come home exhausted. And at least some of the time he takes kids and doesn't mind this either. Again with the hit to the self-esteem.

I am exceptionally thankful and grateful. Not a single day goes by that I take for granted the gift of this at-home hubby. But.

There are downsides. Like I feel like we are on perpetual vacation for years now and although that might sound nice, it gets old. I crave structure and routine that just isn't possible when we are all home. I actually MISS being the one in charge around here all day. But no matter how guilty I feel or how much I miss doing the dishes, it doesn't seem to be enough to motivate me to do these things when I hate them and hubby seems to find actual real productive pleasure in them. So, a lot of days, I feel useless. And with the feeling of uselessness comes a feeling of guilt. Societal guilt, personal guilt, you name it. And even after five years of this, I still haven't found a really good solution. Or even a really halfway decent solution.

So while I'm going to miss hubster next week, I'm also both nervous and excited about this infrequent opportunity to get the house back as my very own, if only for a few days. I get to cook, clean, do laundry, play with the kids, discipline. It's all on me. And although I'm not thrilled with this last-minute trip, I'm excited about the freedom it will bring for me as a result!

Or at least I was excited until my naive optimism got the better of me and I ignorantly invited our four year old to come grocery shopping with me today in preparation for our week alone. Now I am sure that all those articles I read about the virtues and importance of taking kids shopping are full of it. It's not fun, it is slow, it is annoying to no end. And luckily for me, my four year old isn't even the type to ask for every single thing he sees. Actually I might have preferred that to the endless rambling and loud obsessive kicking of the cart by large-shoed feet overandoverandoverandover. And over. Only interrupted by the too-frequent overzealous kick that lands itself on my shin as I try to push the cart. I considered taking the boy out of the cart. He's old enough to walk. But the implication of such a decision were more than I could bear. I caught myself feeling sorry for me a few times but reminded myself that he's just four and four year old boys are loud and boisterous and they probably all sound like they have ADHD. Until some poor pitying woman turned the corner and before even seeing me, started to go on about how she could hear us from the other end of the (huge) store and did he ever come up for a breath? Boy isn't he a rambler! Usually such things occur to me as rude and inappropriate but I was actually thankful for the validation!

So yeah, I'm looking forward to my week. A little. Maybe a little more nervous than I was this morning. Let's just hope I don't have to go shopping.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 7/30/2006§

Cleanliness is next to....
I am considering doing that thing where you set the timer for 15 minutes and clean until it rings. They say it's a good way to make steady progress without feeling overwhelmed. Right now I'm overwhelmed. Not by the house which is big enough not to appear as messy as it truly is, but by my bedroom which is in a constant state of disarray.

So I considered this idea and then a slight snag occurred to me....

How would one ever make headway if one cleans for 15 minutes and then spends the next 20+ hours making new messes? Wouldn't one need to spend MORE time cleaning than making messes in order to make headway at all?

Housework, to me, is like calculus to others. I don't get this housework business, I don't understand it. I'd rather do calculus. So if you ever stop by just know it will be messy here. Lived in. There will be animal hair and piles of clutter and piles and piles and piles of books and even more piles of projects that are half done. The walls will have visible finger prints (except the few walls with nice paint specifically chosen to hide fingerprints) and there is typically squishy slobber marks on the lower windows where my dogs press their noses. Sometimes there are even dishes piled in the sink - we have yet to train the kids to put their stuff in the dishwasher but manage to never run out of dishes so this feels like an accomplishment.

If you are looking for a cute house, walk on by. If you are looking for an immaculate, designer estate, don't ring my bell. But you would know this by the two baskets of deader-than-a-doornail flowers on my front porch anyway.

Plus blogging about cleaning is much more fun than cleaning. What I really need to do is clean all day and set the timer for 15 minutes of blog-indulgence. THEN I might finally make some headway!
posted by Stepping On Legos at 7/27/2006§

Scrapbooking Nicki-style: or Why I Never Get Anything Done
So yesterday I got out all my scrapbooking stuff, inspired by a new book I bought on scrapbooking. I laid it all out, I got out my pictures, I decided on a few pages I wanted to make and then I set about the task of deciding how to lay them out. I got out my embelishments, my papers, my stickers, my alphabets. And I just stared. My pictures don't look good with my pink paper at all. I don't know what to do.

So I open my new book and flip through it and get some good ideas but none just right for a lifebook or baby book or whatever. Maybe half my problem is I'm not sure exactly what these pages are for yet - lifebook or baby book. Each would require a different slant entirely.

So I pop online and go to twopeas and start searching the adoption gallery for ideas. I easily spend hours doing this, saving layouts I find particularly inspirational. I stop to read a few of the layouts to find out how they were made and see a trend - many people are making digital layouts these days. Digital layouts? I consider this. I can use a computer with the best of 'em. I can make webpages. Maybe I can make digital layouts!

But it's late so I go to bed.

This morning I wake up and pop online and discover that twopeas ha a bunch of digital layouts for free. I download them all. Then what? I don't know what to do with them. I can't figure out how to make those into a layout that I love any more than I can the actual products still scattered around my bedroom floor. So I read the FAQ about digital layouts. How do you print them? How much would that cost? How do you put them all together? I play around with some freebie templates and love them but decide that I can't handle doing a whole layout digitally and trying to figure out where and how to print a 12x12 layout in high enough quality to actually use.

I go back to the gallery and search for more inspirational layouts. I finally find one I am settled on for my first page. I decide I am not cut out for digital scrapbooking but I CAN wrap my brain around making some elements, quotes, poems, journaling on the computer. But I don't have any good fonts, despite my husband's claim that I have the biggest font collection in the world. I don't. So off I go on a search for free fonts online. I spend an easy 2 hours finding and downloading free fonts I love. By the time I'm done I can't remember what I was looking for, specifically, or what layout inspired me to begin with.

24 hours later and I have yet to stick an actual picture on paper or print a thing.

And this, my friends, is why I have 7 kids and 12 years of photos an entire closet of scrapbooking supplies but only 3 completed scrapbooking pages to show for it!
posted by Stepping On Legos at 7/26/2006§

Adoption News & Other Ramblings
Photobucket - Video and Image HostingYesterday was a good day in adoptionland. We got new pictures of our baby girl! She doesn't look a lot older to me, which was a surprise. She had a little less hair up top. I know she will grow and change so much between now and travel, though. There was one special picture - a profile shot - that I am just enchanted with. I can see so clearly the girl she will become as she grows. I guess when all you have are photos, you study them, memorize them, look at every feature Photobucket - Video and Image Hostingand learn every visible inch. I have looked and looked to try to see who my daughter will become and, until this latest picture, I haven't seen her. Now I see and it fills my heart with joy. I see her future in that one simple picture. She also has the deepest, oldest eyes. I love her eyes. I wonder, in the Buddhist tradition, who she once was and where she has traveled in past lives. I wonder what her job is here on this Earth, what she was born to learn and to teach. I can't wait for her to be my teacher and for me to be hers.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingOf course I had to rush off to Costco and make prints of every conceivable shape, size and color. While I was there to pick up the prints (which, incidentally, I ultimately forgot!!!) I stumbled upon the cutest boat bed. It is very similar to the Pottery Barn boat bed, pictured right, that my older two boys have coveted for a long time. Except it's not $3000! The best husband in the world approved the purchase and he's off picking it up for them right now. They are soooo excited - almost as excited as I am!!

Today we learned that our dreaded medical had, in fact, expired. I'm ok about it which probably means I secretly miss the paperchase! haha. Our doctor is being crotchety about replacing the document, that's fun. But otherwise, I hope to have it in hand tomorrow and on it's way to California by tomorrow evening. We don't expect this to hold up travel.

And last but not least, hubby brought up my huge bag of baby stuff. I had packed it away in hopeless sadness about 6 weeks ago and it is fun to see it all again. A lot can change in just six weeks.

quilt note: In response to the comments yesterday I just had to say that I never said I am capable of making that quilt! haha. I plan to but I have no idea if it will turn out or not. It is supposed to be an easy pattern and I ordered the book so I'll follow the directions and we'll see. I always bite off more than I can chew and I'll just have you all know right now that I have *never* made an actual quilt. I've made small wall hangings from kits but that is it. I know NOTHING about quilting. Nothing. I don't even get all the terms. So wish me luck!
posted by Stepping On Legos at 7/25/2006§

Craft Crazy
Ok, for those of you who read this blog merely for the adoption news, my apologies as I go off on this crafty tangent. It is adoption related as most of my crafts, these days, are inspired by or for baby Addy. So, yeah, they are sort of interconnected.

Here are the projects I'm in the middle of:

  1. Scrapbooking: today I plan to start Addy's lifebook. I have been searching high and low for a telephone diecut/cut-out/embelishment/sticker. Nada. Anyone know where I can get one? Google has let me down.
  2. Knitting: I made a lot of headway on Addy's cardigan while I was out of town. I finished the main body and half of one sleeve. I'm SO eager to finish it. I also picked up a very cute hat pattern and picked out the yarn I want for that but have not yet purchased it (personal goal - finish first project before buying yarn for second). A friend also gave me the cutest pattern for some felted baby ballerina slippers. So hopefully I can pick up some sweet soft pink wool for those - they should be super fast to knit up.
  3. Quilting: I have like 85 quilt squares for Addy's 100 wishes quilt. Amazing. I haven't even asked friends and family yet! Quilt swaps are a fast fun way to get it done, for sure! But in bigger news, I finally found the perfect quilt pattern to use. I spent most of my vacation looking around for exactly this and found lots of great ideas but nothing was exactly right. Then I got this great idea to do a picture quilt with an imagine of a cute Vietnamese girl and a friend suggested I add circles around the border in various fabrics. Getting closer. Then I stumbled upon this quilt when I got home and knew it was exactly what I wanted to do! I asked hubby to sketch me up the girl based on this precious moments Vietnamese doll and his version is totally perfect! I made the applique pattern this morning and cut it out and I think it will work perfectly. Now I just need to keep my eye out for the perfect fabric for the doll, herself. I am considering getting ao dai fabric from our trip to Vietnam to use for the ao dai in the quilt but I wanted it done before she got home so I might settle for some local silk brocade. I can't wait to get started - it is going to be so precious when it is done!!!! In non-Addy news (yes, I do have SOME of that), I also picked up like 4 or 5 new applique quilt patterns while on vacation - mostly seasonal/holiday wall hangings. I love them so! I also have a few quilt square swaps to finish up: my world quilt swap (my theme is Vietnam - I'm stuck on fabric - any ideas?!), little girls swap and a batik's swap.
  4. Sewing: I have to help my son sew up a pillow case. Should be easy enough but hrm - I dunno. I'm so not good without a pattern. I'm a slave to a pattern. Then I need to start working on a mei tai for Addy but I am reluctant because it will be soooo hot. I want to make something really special and beautiful but anything like that will be way too icky to wear in the heat. Then again - northern Vietnam in October? Maybe I can get away with it? I also want to learn how to sew a fabric backing onto a knitting blanket. I saw one in a pattern book I restrained myself from buying and really REALLY would love to do this. It was precious. But the thing I'm most excited about is a ribbon swap my quilt group is doing so that we can make taggie-style blankets. I have wanted to make one of these all year but the idea of buying all that ribbon was overwhelming. Now I'm just thrilled to be able to finally get it done. I bet Addy will love it! Noah won't be jealous at all - he absolutely hates tags of any kind, even on stuffed animals. I have to carry scissors in my purse because you never know when a tag-inspired fit of rage will overcoming him. So no taggie blankets for him! haha

So now you all know how I'm keeping busy until it is time to travel :-)
posted by Stepping On Legos at 7/23/2006§
I'm a survivor
I'm back from Vacation 2006 and I survived. It was one of those things you just have to get through. I'll share the particularly exciting details - hold onto your hat, it doesn't get much better than this folks!

  • Arrival: We get in in the evening. It rains. And rains and rains. I think this might be an omen. No one wants to sleep in the tent. It is 1000 degrees and muggy. I consider sleeping in the tent by myself and leaving everyone else in the cabin to battle it out. No one gets much sleep.
  • Day 1: Hubby's 6 year old required a lot more structure and routine than one family vacation can offer so he gets two bonus days of local daycamp to keep him happy and us sane. I get lost going to daycamp located in a local ski resort/golf course. Clarified directions are "It's near a big hill like a sledding hill". Um, ok, it's a SKI RESORT! Finally find and drop off the boy, spend my morning internet time* (my indulgent vacation from the vacation) at the laundromat doing pj-and-sleeping-bag-laundry because my husband's 12 year old wet the bed. We had anticipated bedwetting with the 6 year old and prepared accordingly. No one anticipated the 12 year old. I get to clean it up - why we did not think to have him come along and do his own laundry is beyond me. I think I was still in denial about my "quiet trip into town". Haha. I somehow miss breakfast and lunch and end up at The Walmart where every single person in a 100 mile radius hangs out for fun. I had to pick up groceries for the entire week. Nothing like running errands on my vacation. All morning long. Laundry, groceries, carting kids off to camp. Are we home yet?! I grab lunch late in the afternoon after not eating for 24 hours. The week is off to a roaring relaxing start! Not.
  • Day 2: no camp today. Today we spent the day at the beach where every single horsefly in Michigan decided to attack. We managed to have a good time anyway and swam for something like 3 hours straight. My trip into town was a little more enjoyable today. We expect very very bad storms. And suddenly there are 1000 flies in the kids' bedroom. This happened to us a few years ago and we know from experience it gets worse before it gets better. My Dad whips out the vacuum and sucks them up. No one wants to sleep in the kid's room tonight. No one wants to sleep in the tent due to the impending storms. Bedtime was fun.
  • Day 3: camp again, this time hubby makes the trek. We expect rain and prepare to be stuck indoors (which means 9 of us in about 600 sq feet or less). the rain never comes. The storms, last night, never came. The flies seem to have disappeared. I take my 11 year old son (hey - he ASKED to come), my 9 year old stepdaughter and stepmother three-generations of steps - a virtual flight of stairs - head into town to shop the yarn and quilt stores. This is pure luxury. The owner of the knit shop was the loudest woman I have ever met and SO enthusiastic about her job. She cornered my stepdaughter and shouted to her for about 10 minutes straight about the perfect yarn for a scarf project she was considering. After that I had to reward my poor girl for her politeness and for her new hearing-impaired status by buying her the yarn she definitely earned. Later I made the trip in to pick up the 6 year old from camp and got my daily internet fix. It proved disappointing and I miss dinner along the way which is ok because it is lasagna and I don't eat lasagna. I do eat ice cream, though.
  • Day 4: last day of paradise. We plan to head up to Pestoskey to hang out at the beach and search for Petoskey stones - an annual tradition. Guess what? TODAY the rain comes. It was overcast and really really cold (and I, of course, did not even bring along the sweatshirts/pants I painstakingly packed for each of us). It was the ONLY day the weather predicted it to be beautiful. Go figure. We went anyway. We took lunch. The 500 ducks and geese thought this was a great idea. I"m surprised someone didn't get bit. Most of the kids swam, freezing or not. A few looked for stones, 2 found petoskeys. My oldest son took off to go fishing and spent the entire time hanging out with other people's families and I didn't even blame him! haha. My parents and I went on a nice window shopping tour of sail and speed boats. We wrapped it up and headed back to the cabin. This is approximately when the kids started acting insanely obnoxious and I gave them all tattoos (like "kick me" on one child's back or "L" on one child's forehead). Great fun. Apparently too much fun for one day as my Dad really freaked out at my 4 year old and of course I caught it all on video! The only, might I add, footage of video we took the entire trip. Swell. I called it a day and went to bed.
  • Homecoming day: I woke up at 7am sharp (two hours before any other day this week) and had the entire 8 person ensemble packed, fed and out the door by 8:30. I have never felt more energetic and excited in my life! Hope it wasn't too obvious to anyone else. There was much fun ahead - we promised the kids a stop off at our favorite shop in Frankenmuth - Bronner's Christmas Wonderland. Our 4 year old repeated the phrase "We're going to the christmas shop" over and over for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Straight. Literally. In a sort of sing-songy voice that he said qualified as a "song" about the christmas shop. The christmas shop, as it turns out, was further away than he anticipated and he finally got mad and stopped his song/chant. We got there about a half hour later. After the christmas shop, he repeated "Are we there yet" over and over and over but, thankfully, only managed this one for about 15 minutes. The boy has stamina and I think I deserve to be sainted for not driving the car off the road OR yelling at him to stop :-) And now we are back.
  • The day after: last night I slept GREAT in my own bed, in my own home in my cushy air conditioned house. There is nothing like a vacation like this to remind you of how important home is. I asked hubby if he would help me reorganize our bedroom today (It is the collection point for every pile of anything in the house as well as my workshop for sewing/kintting/quilting and my homeschool center and my office). Who ever thought I would consider cleaning to be a perfect way to spend the day?!! It sounds positively divine!!!!!!

Coming soon to a blog near you:

Ten things adoptive parents don't want to hear
Ten things I said I would never do as a parent
Ten things I actually said I wouldn't do and haven't
Three things I would so if failure wasn't possible
Pictures and 10 great vacation memories (really!)
posted by Stepping On Legos at 7/23/2006§

Strange things are afoot at the Circle-K
I really did shop until I dropped yesterday and I have a reinjured ankle to show for it. Instead of feeling sorry for myself I plan to PRETEND to feel sorry for myself all next week so I can have an actual vacation :-) Despite this, I bet I did a few things today that very few other people did :-)

Very recently a private excavation company was turnover over the earth in a nearby bog for a county road construction project. In the process, they hit a bone and upon further investigation discovered that it was no ordinary bone. It was a fossilized bone of a mastodon! It was a slow news day so you might have heard about it on CNN or Yahoo News. The local science museum was given about 12 hours to excavate the site (time is money, people!!!) and they worked hard and collected about 30% of the
complete mastodon which they were "allowed" to take back to the science museum to clean and prepare for 4 days before returning to it's owner (whether the private excavation company who found the bone or the county road commission who commissioned the road project is the owner is still up for debate - politics!!) who will do who-knows-what with it. Since it will only be on display for the 4 days they are actively working on it, I decided to take all interested children up for a look-see. It was interesting and exciting but the lines were very very long and it was in the 90's and blazing. I can't even imagine what the lines will be like tomorrow on the weekend! Thanks to sunscreen and complimentary water, we survived. They had some amazing anthropologists on hand and also the original excavation team working on the bones and answering questions. The kids all agree it was worth the wait. I want to be an anthropologist when I grow up. Or maybe a paleontologist.

Life is sometimes stranger than fiction.Also recently we had some areas of our garden that looked as if a dog puked on them. Very strange. But upon further research my hubby sent me some info this morning via email that he had discovered online proving that our puke-spots were actually multi-nucleus single-cell plasmodial slime mold called Physarum polycephalum. It is not all that slimy (at least not for long) and it isn't a mold or even a fungus. They actually move and grow and then die of starvation and thirst. They are harmless but amazing because they are single-cells that are gigantic (a foot in diameter) and actually move and eat and resemble amoebas. I decided it is our new family pet but no sooner did I make this proclamation than it up and died on us, just like all the plasmodial slime molds that have come before it. We had wanted to collect a sample and feed it and watch it under a microscope but it was dead by the time we returned from the mastodon viewing. But good news! We have a brand new Physarum polycephalum that sprouted up just tonight!!! So if it is still alive by morning we'll grab a culture and try to feed it oatmeal and water it and see if we can grow it ourselves. Apparently, we humor easily :-)

In adoption news: of course there is very little news. We did hear from our agency with some additional measurements (head circ) we had requested but no new pictures to date. We are still awaiting our IA doctor's review of this new info but based on our preliminary research of the data, we are pretty satisfied with it. At first I panicked because it seemed, on an American chart, that the %tile was rather low compared with her weight and length %tile. But we dug around a bit and found a few chinese charts that showed her to be closer to 50%tile. But then we read a few places that the head circ should be fairly universal and not culturally determined. So we are anxious to hear what the IA doctor thinks about her numbers and whether she is concerned about them at all. I feel much better since finding the chinese charts and wonder why there is such a discrepancy if head circs are truly universal. And of course this info comes in Friday night. No clue if our IA doctor will check email or respond during the weekend and then we are leaving on Monday morning. I truly hope we don't have to wait too long to find out her determination. And by "find out her determination", of course what I mean is "get reassurance that all is fine". Because if she comes back with bad news it will be very upsetting and likely come with more wait-and-see instructions (like check her head circ in another month and compare or remeasure her length and weight for accuracy). I am just hoping she is close enough to "normal" that the doc isn't concerned. So cross fingers.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 7/14/2006§

She Shops
I had to go out and pick up a few "necessities" to complete my two remaining projects left on my to-do list this week. So I got a bigger cutting board for my quilt swap and a new scanner for my dad's father's day gift. But while I was out, I stopped at Old Navy and then ran over to Babies R Us and then flew by the mall where I zipped into the Children's Place, Osh Gosh, Gymboree and Carter's - all outlet stores. I actually didn't find nearly as much as I thought I would but I stocked up for Addy. I haven't bought ANYTHING since we got her referral so this was what I have been waiting for :-)

Of course at Old Navy, as I was checking out, I was alerted to the fact that tomorrow begins the semi-annual Old Navy bag sale. Figures. I signed up for an Old Navy card this spring specifically for this sale but then wasn't allowed to use it. Now I miss it by one day. My luck.

When I went into Michael's to buy my new cutting board I almost burst into tears when I saw ......are you sitting? HALLOWEEN DECORATIONS!!!!!!! A normal person might think "How ridiculous - it is July!! Halloween is a lifetime away!". Me? I think "We should have our daughter before I could even use these decorations! It is THAT CLOSE!!!!!!!!!". So don't burst my bubble, ok?! :-)

I was on a mission for a cute Americana outfit to rival Kelly's. Finally I found it at Carter's and bought some awesome Gymboree tights in case it is freezing in October in Michigan on our return journey. Now I just need to find a nice little red or navy cardigan/sweatshirt to wear over the top of it and she'll be ready for her return trip.

I bought way too many summer clothes so shifted gears and picked up a few fall/winter things next. There still isn't much available yet which blows my mind. Why is this? They have all the back to school supplies out, the halloween decorations, the fall candles. But no back to school fall clothing?! They are slacking.

We aren't doing a nursery. Little Addy will stay close to us for her first year and then will join her brother or sister in their bedroom next door. I have already painted and tattouaged the wall with a huge willow tree for Addison and today I found the perfect wall hangings that I am now DYING to buy. It would go perfectly with her greenish-yellow walls and willow tree.

So I shopped until I dropped and now I'm, of course, way too tired to do my projects! Maybe tomorrow.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 7/13/2006§

Why be normal?

Remember those t-shirts and bumper stickers? That's how I feel lately.

I have felt for months that when we get our referral I will be at peace. Everyone was a naysayer - they say the wait until travel is the hardest part. I know it hasn't been long yet but I am at peace, I don't feel burdened by the wait. I am not anxious or worried. None of those things you normal people feel. I am just glad to know my daughter. Know who she is, where she is, what her name is, what her deep beautiful eyes look like. I could get lost in those eyes, so full of wonder.

As high-strung as I have felt in the last few months, this is a huge relief.

This week I have a lot of loose ends to tie up. We are leaving for vacation next week. I have been in denial about this very thing. I can't believe we will be leaving in a few days. I have TONS left to do - I have three Asian quilt swaps to *start* and *finish* before we can leave. I have to create my Dad's father's day gift (a video slide show of his life as dad - no small undertaking considering all the pics have to be scanned and our scanner is so horrible). I have a friend coming over tomorrow. Oh and there is that pesky business of caring for the kids to fit in in my spare time :-) My daily special summer events have gone by the wayside during this last week, in a big way. I need to get back on track.

So maybe I'm not normal but I have an incredible sense of peace. Things are as they should be. Finally.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 7/11/2006§

3 days later
I can't believe it has been 3 days since we got "the call". It's been a blur of happiness and activity! I am so blessed to have the world's best adoption friends and supportive community. I absolutely love my agency "family" and can't wait until we are all parents and can hopefully meet up in real life. I love my local friends and my family has been so supportive as well. We are so blessed. Thank you all for your thoughts and comments and congrats. I feel reborn, renewed, alive. So happy.

We shared the news with you all before we told our own kids. When we finally got Addison's picture, my hubby's kids were gone visiting their bioMom for the weekend. We wanted to wait to tell them all but after all the outpouring of messages and support, we decided to gather them together yesterday afternoon for ice cream and share the news and her pictures. My step-daughter, who has wanted a sister her whole life, is over the moon that she finally has a sister and that their birthdays will, forever more, be only 5 days apart! They were all happy, of course, but no one was happier than our 4 year old who has been asking for a baby sister for years. He just kept squealing and jumping and staring at her picture and squealing some more. He literally could not contain his joy. It was the absolute most precious thing ever. I would give anything for a video camera to capture that moment! A little later he became very serious and worried and asked multiple times if his baby sister would be safe and well cared for while she waited for us and shared that he is worried about her and really hopes she will be ok. For an already emotional mama, this about did me in. My poor hubby - now there are TWO worrywart in the house he has to contend with!

So we had a bunch of pictures printed up at costs yesterday and we are just in celebration mode. It feels amazing to wake up in the morning and know that my daughter is out there, where she is, what she looks like, what her name is, etc. I have also gotten a lot of great info from a few people about Phu Tho. THANK YOU!! It seems like she will be WELL taken care of in her little (tiny) orphanage and we feel very blessed for that.

I added a ticker to the top of this blog counting down the approximate time until we travel. We can't wait!
posted by Stepping On Legos at 7/09/2006§
Dec 28, 2005: Tony's physical completed, applied to homestudy agency.
Jan 16, 2006: assigned a homestudy social worker
Jan 17, 2006: adoption agency app sent
Jan 19, 2006: Nicki's adoption physical
Jan 25, 2006: 1st homestudy meeting
Feb 1, 2006: 2nd homestudy meeting
Feb 27, 2006: last homestudy meeting (home visit) - APPROVED!
March 17, 2006: I-600a sent!
April 1, 2006: Received fingerprint appointments
April 13, 2006: Fingeprints taken
May 4, 2006: Switch adoption agencies
May 10, 2006: received 171H
May 16, 2006: notarized documents, state-certified dossier and FedEx to agency. We are DTV!
May 18, 2006: dossier in California for Vietnamese authentication
May 30, 2006: dossier in Vietnam for translation
June 14, 2006: dossier translated and awaiting referral
July 6, 2006: referral!
July 9, 2006: dossier filed with the IAD
October 11, 2006: received TA!!!!

Still to come:
and finally travel!
posted by Stepping On Legos at 7/09/2006§

A Mother's Story
Once there was a girl who dreamed of a daughter while other little girls were dreaming of being nurses and super models. But a daughter was an unlikely possibility as the girl came from a family with a strong genetic predisposition for producing boys. Still she hoped. During her first pregnancy she knew instantly that she carried a boy. And this was ok. She loved her baby boy with all of her heart. He brought with him gifts that had been unexpected to this young Mom. He taught her to not just listen but also to hear. He taught her to trust her instincts as a Mother and let them be her guide. He taught her that a baby's needs come first and when they are met, all is right in the world. Indeed, she grew more in the first two years as a mother to this son than she had grown her entire life. Soon she became pregnant with another son. Pregnancy was not a natural or easy endeavor for this Mom. She became violently ill and despondent throughout each pregnancy. The wrath of young parenthood took its toll. Again this second son brought gifts to this Mom that she hadn't expected. His jovial spirit, his laid back and easy going nature, his persistence to heal naturally against mounting health problems all taught this Mom lessons she had not expected to learn. A few years of single parenthood later, this Mom married her best friend and decided to give pregnancy one last shot. Always desiring 4 children, it soon became evident that 3 boys was this mama's limit. Her body could take no more. A daughter wasn't meant to be. Embracing her role as Mom of Boys, this mama thought she had learned all the lessons a boy could offer. She was yet again surprised by the gifts and lessons her third son brought into her life. His intensity and passion, his unabashed love and ability to express his emotions like a poet, his inquisitiveness reminded us all to live and live big. Every moment has a lesson and every moment should be enjoyed, larger than life.

But still there was a hole in her heart. Something was missing. Pregnancy wasn't an option but as the months crept by and turned into years this mama fought off the repeatedly nagging voice in her ear urging her to have a daughter. It wasn't a possibility! They were done with their family. They were complete! But still, the voice persisted. It would not relent!

Then one day this mama was talking and emailing with another local mama who announced, with great pride, that she had started her journey to adopt a daughter from China. And all at once she knew, as if the obvious had been staring her in the face all along and she was just too close to see it, that adoption was the option. It was her daughter's voice in her ear, urging her on all those years!

Unsure, this mama started the research that would eventually consumer her and take over her life. But for a long time it was just a weekend hobby. Slowly she presented this option to her adoring husband who, as always, reluctantly supported her with open arms. But after researching many countries and programs, nothing compelled her to take the leap. She still wasn't sure. What she really wanted to do was adopt from Vietnam but the program was closed. Another good local friend convinced her to let go and let God or Destiny or Fate take over. So this is exactly what she did.

Just two weeks later, during a conversation with a new friend, this mama had mentioned her desire to one day adopt but the difficulty in finding the right program. She suggested they look into Vietnam. After explaining that they had done this very thing and found the program to be closed, this new friend shared that, in fact, it had just reopened for adoption in the U.S. Leery, the mama did a little research and discovered, with complete amazement, that indeed it had! Within two days the mama and her supportive husband had jumped in with two feet and began the planning, researching and paperchasing journey to find their daughter.

For six months the family worked hard, saved hard, researched, asked questions, learned, cried, hoped, dreamed and finally, on July 6, 2006 The Call finally arrived announcing the referral of their daughter, Addison, whispering in her ear from across the earth in Vietnam. . Her heart is full; her daughter has found her way to this mama and into her heart. And she eagerly anticipates the gifts and lessons her daughter will surely bring into her life and the lives of her eager and welcoming siblings.


It is with great joy and pride that we are finally able to introduce our daughter, Addison Mai Noelle.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 7/07/2006§

Post-Holiday Flatline
It's July 5th. A significant day for us on a few levels. First of all, it is the day hubby and I decided we would discuss whether or not we'd continue with the adoption. We have had a really bad June with too much heartbreak to mention here. So 3 weeks ago we agreed to give it three weeks to play out and see where we stood. I'm happy to say that I think we are standing strongly on two feet. So onward forward. I think we'll have a referral in the next 3 weeks.

Also we were supposed to hear about our home equity loan by this date. Last week we heard that it should be out of underwriting this week and hopefully there is still a chance we could build our deck this summer. This is great on multiple levels but feels just like a luxury, either way. It has been a mild bummer to live in this beautiful house with such difficult access to our own back yard. Our kitchen has this great doorwall onto the back yard with one big snag - it's 20 feet off the ground :-) So it's time. I hope.

And last, we are now beyond the christmas-birthdays-holiday rush that happens from October - July. From now until October, it is essentially smooth sailing. No planning, no parties, no holiday rush, no preparation. We can just enjoy the summer and wait for our referral, plan our travel and then probably take off for Vietnam just in time for the 2006-2007 holiday rush to start up again in October :-)

We had a really busy holiday weekend. We ended up hitting three different fireworks over the past few days. We lucked out with timing, parking, leaving, the whole bit. Until last night. It was the strangest thing. The MINUTE the first firework was exploding in the sky, a whole bunch of people booked it to their cars to leave. What was the point of coming only to leave as soon as the 'works began?!?! Well, we soon learned, first hand, what the benefit of this is. We hit the worst post-fireworks traffic EVER last night but we made it home around 12:30 (2 hours after the 'works ended), finally. Crazy.

Otherwise we had a great day yesterday. We went to our old stomping grounds, visited a local fair and bought the cutest little sign for christmas that has each of our kids' names on it, including our new baby! So now her name is official, signed in ink :-) We went home and made a huge fruit salad, grilled some shrimp and mushrooms and had rice pudding and jalepano potato chips. A strange combination, yes. But yummy.

Bring on the holiday-less season!

posted by Stepping On Legos at 7/05/2006§

Comedy of Errors
Monday I took the kids to a nearby Metropark. For fishing. Which we didn't do. Nothing happens in this family without a bit of comedy of errors. I should have known by the difficult drive to the park that it was maybe not the best idea. First of all, I am NOT a morning person but this fishing trip required early morning hours while the fish are still biting. Yawn. We managed to leave home and come back four different times after continuously forgetting things. But still, I lived in denial!

Then I was so sleepy and slow on the uptake that I managed to mentally block out the sleep-inducing voice of my car's navigation system, missing who-knows-how-many turns along the way. I'm vaguely aware of at least 3 turns I missed but since my nav system just readjusts accordingly, I'll never know exactly how many wrong turns or missed turns occurred. I just know that ordinarily it is a 50 minute drive and I managed to extend it far beyond that.

My step-daughter had never been to this park and my boys wanted to show her all the things they love. Instead of renting a boat or going directly to the pier, like any smart parent would have insisted on, we decided to take a short walk on a path across a boardwalk that overlooks a rookery of Great Blue Herons. It is quite a sight to see and hear. I admit my own love of birds and my selfish disinterest in fishing swayed my judgment. Then we wanted to walk beyond the boardwalk around through the woods to a place we know we can fish off the shore and had always wanted to try. It is also right by an Osprey hacking so the boys wanted to show their sister that, as well.

Walking through the woods, I told the kids to be quiet and maybe we would see some animals. It was still early in the morning and the park wasn't too busy yet. Sure enough, sleeping about 15 feet off our path was a doe followed by another doe a few feet away. This should have been a Disney moment but instead it just scared the heck out of us. Turns out deer are pretty big up close and they always give you that deer-in-the-headlights look. These particular deer were close enough to touch but not concerned enough to get up from their sleepy position on the ground. Still - that piercing deer stare creeps me out. But I had to get a picture, of course, which meant standing still just feet from the deer while they stared me down urging me to get the heck out of dodge. I don't think this qualifies as a scrapbooking moment.

We got to our fishing spot only to find out that it was way too weedy, now, to fish. When we were here a month ago the weeds hadn't grown up yet. But we spotted a funny structure in the middle of the lake whose purpose is to encourage raptor nests and sure enough, there was a family of Osprey in the nest. We decided, now that shore fishing was a bust, to try to walk around the lake a little to get a good picture of the osprey nest.

So we walked. And we walked and walked and walked. And walked some more. And never got that picture. It started getting hot and we started getting tired. And then the bugs came out. I had the unusual foresight to bring bug sprays of various kinds. I started with a more natural variety and quickly moved up to the big guns. Nothing helped. These bugs were out for blood.

The kids were exhausted and worried we would never make it back to our car. Did I mention two of us were wearing flip-flops? Not prepared for walking through the woods for miles AT ALL. We stopped to rest a few times and pick woodchips and grass out of our sandals but mainly we just wanted to push on through to get back to our car. I was vaguely aware of the fact that we SHOULD have made the most of the trip through the woods, searching harder for snakes and reading the informational signs along the way. We could have made it fun. But the kids were focused on one thing and one thing along - getting back to the car. I don't think they trusted that we were on a real path, despite the signs. They didn't like the spontaneity of a long hike through the woods. Or maybe that's just transference on my part :-)

Hours later, we finally made it back to the area we parked in at the nature center. Dalton, the eternally energetic, convinced the rest of us to abandoned the car and head over to the nature center so he could share more familiar sights with his sister (who at this point was a good sport but badly wanted to be sitting in the car where, did I mention, we had left ALL the water?!). We limped over to look at the giant carp and the kids spotted a water snake. We had been looking for snakes all morning so it was ironic to finally find one in the water of all places. I went to get my camera to take pictures and......no camera.

I panicked, instantly. I could backtrack to where I left it but the sheer though of re-walking all the way back to that one spot with all the kids voluntarily was more than I could bear. I did a quick calculation of the cost of the camera and decided it may just be disposable after all. Frustrated, I made one last ditch effort to sweet talk a park ranger who offered to ride his little cart back there and pick it up for me. Whew! A half hour later, he delivered my camera and we headed to the car.

We did managed to take a quick dip in the lake (which freaked out at least one of my boys - they know exactly how big the fish are in that lake and how big the fish TEETH are!!) and a nice ride on a party pontoon that gave tours of the park. I thought it was fun but Paige was freezing the entire ride - still wet from her dip in the lake.

We decided, at that point, to quite while we were down and just head home. We'll try to fish again another day. Maybe.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 7/04/2006§

A great first day of July
Yes, indeed, it seems July is already starting out in a positive way.

Yesterday we found out pretty early in the morning that hubby was awarded the Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) award in the area of Windows Security. This is a big deal - it is a peer-nominated award so it isn't something he could have applied for and it is awarded annually. I'm very proud of him. We celebrated by going to our favorite restaurant on the way down to my Uncle's house.

We had a fantastic time visiting my Uncle, both my cousins and their families. We rarely see our family (weddings, funerals) so this was long overdue. The kids swam in the pool for literally hours and hours. Noah learned to swim with his life jacket (previous attempts had him flopping like a wet fish hysterically on his back) so by the end of the day we didn't even have to go in with him. He did a very hilarious version of the cannonball which includes standing at the edge of the pool counting to 3 and then quickly sitting down on the edge and slowly plopping in the water. He was quite proud!

All in all, it was a fabulous day. Until we got home. We had noticed that our next door neighbor was preparing for a birthday party for his 1 year old before we left. He had rented a huge jumpy thing and they were busy decorating. We were already prepared for the fact that it was very likely that we were the ONLY neighbors in the whole neighborhood that were not invited. Thank goodness we had plans - how awkward would that have been for his next door neighbors (us) - with six kids - to be out playing all forlorn while the rest of the neighborhood had a blast in his yard? SO that sort of sucked. But by the time we came home, the kids were all long since in bed and it was just the adult neighbors drinking and partying. Yes, we felt left out although I wouldn't have gone even had I been invited but hubby would have. I have nothing in common with those people in any way and am too selfish to "fake it" just in the name of neighborly brownie points. So we discussed it what it is exactly we want from our neighborhood and came to the conclusion that we really aren't interested in invitations for wine tasting (with a hint of snuff in the gums), comparing Harleys or Hummers and ignoring our kids. We're ok with the sort of "hey, how's it going" fly-by-night neighborly relationship. And in return, we are going to make a more concerted effort to see our actual real bona fide friends more often and invite them out here as often as they'll come (which may very well be not that often given our location smack in the middle of BFE). This has actually been a big issue for me. I feel pretty lonely and transplanted. We moved here the same week that both of my best friends left the area for Texas and I've just never been the same, I never quite rebounded and found a way to be happy out here. But living here is very important to my kids. THEY are very happy. And this house makes my hubby very happy. So I'm glad to have finally - after almost a year - made progress myself in becoming slightly more happy.

And the the fireworks started. At 9:30 pm, a few of the neighborhood "men" got together next door and started lighting off the huge, noisy, *illegal* fireworks. I was frustrated. They are loud enough when you go watch them elsewhere but when they are literally in your own backyard and all your kids just went to bed, they are outrageously loud. But we buckled down and prepared for a few minutes of noisy illegal activity. That few minutes turned into hours. They were STILL going strong at 11pm and finally finished sometime after that. It was ridiculous. Who has that kind of money to spend on something that could be stopped by the cops at any time? And what is the point, seriously?!? I just don't get why men get into this kind of thing. And why would you do this over the water on a (very small) lake with 20 other houses who probably would rather you didn't but of whom you never even warned them let alone asked if it was cool with them?!? I can't believe we moved to this expensive house in this expensive subdivision and still can't get away from the "lighting off illegal fireworks all night long" thing. I guess boys will be boys, whether they are homeless or have Hummers. Please, God, my prayer for tonight is that they used up ALL their fireworks last night. And that none of their illegal schrapnel landed on MY hard becuase, if it did, the fall out wno't be pretty or nice.

So this is an open invitation to anyone and everyone to come on out and hang out at our place! :-) It's a long drive, I know, but the kids can swim, fish, kayak or jump on the trampoline, we can grill up some dinner, serve up some drinks and make fun of the neighbors :-) C'mon, you know you wanna!
posted by Stepping On Legos at 7/02/2006§

Name: Stepping On Legos
Stepping On Legos Stepping On Legos Home: TX, United States
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