Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hi-ho, Hi-ho, It's Off to Ilinois We Go

The much longed for trip to visit Grandma Z will begin after tomorrow's evening service. Making the motherland pilgrimage at night is a time honored tradition among the Texas branch of the S_________ family. The idea is to let the children sleep. It wasn't too bad last year when we went at Thanksgiving. I took the 2:00-5:00 shift of driving, and right before dawn I got REALLY sleepy. I began belting out songs on the radio, but as soon as the DJ would start talking, my eyes closed. Finally, I spotted a visitor center, and pulled in. After a fifteen minute cat-nap, the master awoke from the back seat and took over.
Long car trips are about the only time the master gets phantom pains anymore. I hope he doesn't have a huge problem with them. It will definitely be our longest drive since the amputation.
At least we do not have to worry about the weather. It is barely cooler there than it is here! The coldest we should see is around 40. Not too bad. A little sad that the kids won't get to see snow, but worth not having to drive in icy conditions.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Release the Hounds!

Little Cara she's as pretty as the angels when they sing...I can't believe she's out here in the kitchen in the swing....

Normally Randy is a Kaboda man, but he's willing to make an exception.

This girly-girl is now well stocked.

"Mom, this is my imagination station."

I'm always surprised at least once during the unwrap by the kids' response to the gifts. This year, they were ecstatic to find winter gloves and matching tobagans in their stockings. 1$ at W*llM*rt. Go figure.

Oh, the bliss of a new Lego set!

The wreckage

Christmas and Gender Identification:

Ian: Hey, Marina, you want to go with me into the woods and watch me shoot my new pistol? (cap)

Marina: Sure, just let me get my makeup, in case I need it.

No confusion here.

Hope your Christmas is as merry and full of love.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Salvation Sunday

My sweet Abigail accepted Christ this morning in the worship service. Just two days after her physical birthday we celebrate her spiritual birth. The master was preaching a straight evangelistic message (not uncommon) and I was praying with all my heart that she was listening. Abby held her head in her hands and stared at the floor. It is hard to know at these moments if she is truly attending or counting the threads of carpet. But when the master began to close the sermon with a portion of his own testimony, she began to weep. The master was pleading with the congregation to come to Christ and I leaned over and asked her if she was ready to run to Jesus. She said, "Yes, mommy. Will you come with me?" I told her I would come and stand beside her in a few minutes, but that she needed to make this walk on her own, and she did. The most touching part was that the master had not seen what had transpired in the pew, so when he saw Abby coming down the aisle, he was surprised. In the most beautiful way a person can be surprised. He embraced her and cried over her for joy. Praise the Lord! Thank you all so much for praying for her! And in case you are wondering, yes I bawled like a baby.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hodge-Podge Post

I've been out of blogger sync the last week or so. It's working great for my comments, though! Six comments on that last copy/paste post. That is tied with my all-time record from Just Another Day. And that was from my surprise, "We Have A Daughter" post. By holding out posts, I force your hand to comment on posts you wouldn't normally comment. Ahh....blogger strategy. Of course, you can counter move by tagging me. Like Suz. Accordingly, here is my fourth picture from my fourth file.
This is a three year old Ian at DisneyWorld's Magic Kingdom in 2005. If memory serves, this photo was taken right across from Mickey's house, where my sister and I stood in line for HOURS to get the kids' pictures taken with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and the Ducks (Donald and Daisey respectively). When we finally finished, it was LATE, and the rest of the fam got tired of waiting for us and disappeared. We hung out in this toddler play area and put out some APB's on the cell phones. Yes, he was still having a great time even at dark thirty. For Ian, it's always a good time for a party. He cannot wait to go back. We have a cut up poster of the Disney castle in a zip-lock bag and a matching blank poster board on the back of our closet door. Each piece of the poster represents one debt and the poster board is market with the name and amount. As we pay off a debt, we put a piece of the puzzle poster up. When the picture is complete, we will be debt free (except our house) and have the four thousand dollars in hand for a return trip to Disneyworld. Ian is the only one who checks our progress almost weekly. Dave Ramsey would be so proud.
I tag Kelly the aforementioned sister, and Katy from "Beyond Decaf" if you are reading, Mamaporuski, and Allison. ** Post the fourth picture in the fourth file on your computer.**

I want to give you all a sneak peak of our Christmas picture. For those of you who have not e-mailed me your address, this is as good as you are going to get. I'm contemplating drafting a newsy family letter to include with the photo-card as I have in the past, but I've always gotten pretty personal with those. The secretary said the last pastor always sent out a family letter to the CONGREGATION and told me she would be happy to help me with it this week. I took this as a not-so-subtle hint. Sigh. Could I really open up and be myself with the church at large? Excuse me while I put my head between my legs and breath into a paper bag....

I know we are stunningly beautiful, but as this is a pirated picture, please resist the urge to print it and sell them to the highest bidder. Thanks. Abby's hair is a trifle fluffy, and Randy had a goofy fish face, but all in all it's not bad. I think the photographer could have waited for a full blown smile from Cara. He wasn't much of a kid person, but it is not difficult to get a smile or even a chuckle out of her, she is that good natured. Here is proof:

Jenny, if you are out there reading, please let me know how I can contact you, because that link from your comments is a dead end.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Franciscan Prayer

What a wonderful prayer to pray over your children:

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths and superficial relationships so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in the world so that you can do what others claim cannot be done to bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, Monday, December 1, 2008
Outside My Window...I can't see outside my window, because my beautiful Christmas tree is blocking my view. But it is cold out there and moist...makes me wheeze just thinking about it.
I am thinking...about the damp weather with the possible respiratory repercussions and that I'm bone tired.
I am thankful for...the many unknown mommy's who take the trouble to send a little extra lovin' for my Cara. See picture thought.
From the kitchen...two delicious slow roasted hens and a big gaping hole where my refrigerator was. We rented our old house!!!! Big "yeah," on that. But we had to provide a fridge because of a typo on the listing stating that the house had one. Booo! Since our's didn't match our new house, we decided we would take it BACK down to the old house and buy a new one.
I am jeans, long sleeve shirt, and pull over.
I am creating...girls winter jammies and a Christmas card list. I lost my address book in the move, so I'm having to track down information. HINT, HINT: e-mail me your address.
I am take Ian to the ENT on Thursday. The pediatrician said his ears looked, "sad and tired." Awww...poor deaf baby. Third set of tubes, here we come.
I am reading...Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (kid's bedtime book)
I am hoping...still hoping to hear about that teaching position. If I don't hear something this week, it is a good sign that they have found someone else. Even though I don't really want to work, it would be disappointing to not have the choice.
I am hearing...The hum of the hard drive, and the tap-tap-tap of the keyboard.
One of my favorite nativity all set out on the mantel.
Around the house...Disaster in the kitchen due to the loss of the fridge. Behind in the laundry and most other chores from Thanksgiving. Will I ever catch up? Probably around mid-January.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...With the exception of Ian's doctor's appointment, the calendar is pretty clear until this weekend. We are heading to Houston for our agency's Christmas party and a quick visit with my Aunt and Uncle who have not yet met Cara Bear-a.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Aren't they lovely? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You're looking at 168 ounces of prevention.

Oops! Almost forgot to leave the link:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Deck the Blog

We've had a busy weekend decorating the house for Christmas. I already have a great stash of Christmas photos to dress up the blog for the holiday season. I'm sorry about the ribbon cutting across my post. Couldn't seem to get around it.
Funny Story
The master helped us get the tree decorating started, but then he had to go up to the church building to prepare for evening service. The kids and I put the finishing touches on the tree. As I was placing the angel on top of the tree, Ian warned that I should be careful because if it fell, it would break. I reminded him that since our angel is paper mache, it would probably be o.k., even if I dropped it.

Later in the evening as we sat around the Christmas tree sipping our hot cocoa:
The master: Too bad I had to leave before putting the angel on top--that's my job.
K: Yeah, it's tradition!
Marina: nonchalant Nah. It's paper.
complete cast: LAUGHTER
Marina: indignant It is so paper! Mommy said!
Hey, at least she was listening for once.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, Monday, November 24, 2008
Outside My Window...Still those darn leaves.
I am thinking...about how being a pastor has to be one of the hardest jobs on earth.
I am thankful that every once in a long while do the right thing without being asked.
From the kitchen...messy kitchen. I've been out of dishwashing detergent for three days. But the master brought some home, so after the homemade pizza, I will once again restore order and cleanliness.
I am jeans, T-shirt, no shoes.
I am creating...technically still creating quilt since the quilt has been started, but not completed. In the active sense of the word? Not so much.
I am going...home for Thanksgiving. We just can't swing the trip to Illinois, even with gas prices as low as they are.
I am reading...Happy to announce that we wrapped up Trumpet of the Swan and are moving on to Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle tonight.
I am hoping...that our possible rent situation works out. PLEASE hope with me. I'd also like to hear about a possible teaching position after the holiday. I dread putting Cara in daycare, but four months in the classroom would certainly help us pull out of our financial nose dive, and it would mean the master could quit the side job. The children would once again have a two parent home.
I am hearing...The last murmurs before Cara succumbs to sleep. The diswasher, hallelujah, the dishwasher is washing away. Ian has on his super hero jammies and is role playing as Superman--involves entirely too much running for indoors. Bathroom doors closing. Marina is doing a cheer. Now she is coming to say that Randy climbed the bathroom shelves and brought down a whole stack of towels...oh, my.
One of my favorite things...this week? Dishwashing detergent.
Around the house...Readying the rooms for the madness of the holidays. Washing up clothes for our upcoming trip.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...Visit with Cari tomorrow, and baking (I'm responsible for mashed potatoes, pecan pie, and deviled eggs). Wednesday, still more doctor's appointments, one for Cara and one for Ian (he has lost his hearing AGAIN), late night drive to hometown. Thanksgiving Thursday, Friday clean out shed and garage of old house (because we will have renters, right? We are acting in faith), Saturday head home, swinging by tree farm on the way.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...

The kid likes shelves.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Was It Something I Said?

I was doing a little surfing, killing time until the master came home from P*p* John's, and since Debbie has a HUGE blog role, I decided to try out some blogs that I don't normally read. Quite by accident I discovered a post from a blogger named JOY (never visited her blog before) that was addressing a negative commenter. Do you remember the sad situation I mentioned earlier in the week--where the adoptive parents had just found out that the birthmother was having second thoughts? Well, the adoptive mother's name is Adrienne, and the birthmother did decide to parent. Anyway, Joy was saying that a commenter--ANNIEMAC--had used both Joy's and Adrienne's blog as a platform for her views. Intrigued, because ANNIEMAC is a first/birthmom, I decided to find out what "views" these were. I must really have too much time on my hands....
After reading ANIEMAC's comment on Joy's blog, I clicked over to see if I could find the offensive comments on Adrienne's blog, because, quite frankly, ANNIEMAC's writing was not completely coherent, and I hoped that in reading her other comments, I would better understand the point she was trying to make. Long story not so short, I noticed while skimming the hundred's of comments on Adrienne's blog, that my two comments--one of congratulations and one of condolences--have been removed. Or at least, I'm assuming they have been removed. I can't find them anywhere. I know for certain that the first comment I left published. On the day I posted it, I went back to read the string later in the day and it was there. I'm not sure about the second one.
I can't remember exactly what I wrote on each one. The one I left when they were waiting to hear if the birthmother was going to parent was something to this effect:
"I am so sorry you are going through this. I'm praying that the birthmom will be given wisdom to make the right decision."
Do you see anything wrong with that? The first comment (from when everything was going great), might have been a little more controversial. Adrienne kept referring to the baby as a "gift" and saying that the birthmom was "giving" them a baby. I gently (or so I thought) shared with her what I have read and heard directly from birthmothers first: this adoption language is inaccurate at best. They don't "give" adoptive parents their babies; they give their babies the gift of adoptive parents. I said how that change of perspective had been meaningful to me as an adoptive mom and made me feel very special. I hoped it would make her feel special, too. Hmm...guess it didn't.
I'd like to get some honest feedback on this. This family is in a crisis situation and I would feel terrible over saying anything hurtful. If ya'll think I have written something insulting, I would like to apologize to Adrienne. But presently, I'm at a loss to know why my comparatively mild comments (to my way of thinking) were trashed, while other comments--like ANNIEMAC's rants--were left.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Method to My Madness

How do you clean your house? I'm an erratic cleaner to say the least. It bothers me to do the same thing in the same way every time. That's why I didn't make it as a postal employee. But keeping this house even semi-sanitary requires some organization, and here are a few methods I alternate.
1. Room by room-like Mama taught me. Only, then the work was split among the four of us and I only ended up with one or two rooms. I probably use this way the most, but it has definite drawbacks. For instance if you aren't able to complete the entire house, your left with some spic-and-span rooms and some pig-sty rooms. One pig-sty room ruins the entire house.
2. Daycare clean--the daycare period was by far my shining star for housekeeping. People do not want to leave their children in a messy house, even if their's looks like a tornado went through. You have to keep everything tidy to please your parents and everything must be bleached to please your licensing agent. Following every meal, I swept, immediately cleared and washed dishes, put away food and disinfected tables, chairs and counter tops. Each day after naps, everyone--toddlers and up--put toys away, threw away trash, and followed me from room to room while I vacuumed and dusted. In the evening, I mopped and scrubbed toilets, my own children were not allowed to play inside the house, because they might mess it up before daycare. This method takes discipline and stamina. You must be satisfied with HAVING a clean house, not LIVING in it.
3. 10 Minutes To Clean--The kids and I love this method. We set the timer for 10 minutes and clean like crazy. When the timer stops, we're done with that room and reset the timer and attack the next room. I must resist the urge to continue with the few undone items left. Rules are rules, and if Mom is breaking them, chances are the children will clue in that they are actually working, not playing. The kids are all amazed at how clean the room is after "just 10 minutes." I really ham it up with comments like, "On your mark, get set, clean...." and "Two minutes and counting..." etc. If you use this method occasionally, you will have enthusiastic helpers like I did two Saturday's ago.

4. Lavern Clean-Named after the master's best friend's mother. Who, according to my sources, upon hearing that guests were expected, would pull out large hampers and begin filling them with clutter and mess. Dirty dishes, dirty clothes and all manner of household items were dumped in the The full hampers went in a closet, and when the door was closed, PRESTO, clean house. I think the drawbacks to this method are obvious, but I've had to use it more times than I care to admit. So if you ever drop by the house on a few minutes notice...don't open any closets. Steer clear of the garage, too. You've been warned.

I'd love to hear your tricks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Those Three Little Words

I love you. How many times have we told her? A million. In a million different ways. It was our constant refrain those first few months after she came home. We love you! Daddy loves you! Everyone prayed for you! Everyone loves you!
I love you.
Oh, she fought that love. To some degree with her daddy, but most violently from me. I would cuddle her; she would stiffen. I'd look at her with my heart in my eyes; she would stare through me with hatred. I'd whisper words of tenderness; she would scream and claw at my face. Though I had laughed when first reading them, I found myself repeating the scripted words of Holding Time, "You are strong. But I am stronger. My love is strong enough to hold you." It became my mantra for 18 months. Looking back, I don't think it was true. Only God's love is that strong. Strong enough to hold both of us.
Long after the rages subsided, she could not respond to our verbal expressions of love. She could talk--in sentences--yet somehow those three words eluded her. "I want oatmeal." "Where is my book?" were no problem, but at night when we would tuck her in and whisper, "I love you," she would reply, "cabritogel," or some other nonsense. It never sounded like, "I love you." Not even close.
It wasn't until Abby and Marina became roommates that display of passive resistance disappeared. I tell you, that child cannot bear to be excluded from anything, and occasionally that works to our advantage. I would say, "Goodnight, girls, I love you."
Abby: I love you, Mommy!
Marina: expressionless I. love. you. too.
Empty words, disconnected and meaningless.
I'll never forget the day last spring when Marina crept up behind my lawn chair. We were out with the daycare kids enjoying the beautiful sunshine. She put her hand on my shoulder, "Mommy." "Hmm?" "I love you." I couldn't believe my ears. Did I just imagine those words? I pulled her around to face me. She couldn't look at me in the eye, she stared at the ground, embarrassed. She said it! She actually said it! She LOVES me! Breath, Jessica, breath. Act like this is commonplace....DON'T OVERREACT!!!! "I--I love you, too, Baby." I gave her a quick hug, and she smiled and ran off to play. I cried.
The next day was the Hair Cutting Day. A day that will live in infamy. On the following occasion Marina told me she loved me, she painted the side of her bed with blood-red fingernail polish. The third time, she followed her expression of affection by destroying a half dozen of our outdoor playthings. When she was spanked for her actions, she grabbed the spoon from my hands and tried to attack me.
I may be slow, but I'm starting to see a pattern here. Sunday, out of nowhere, Marina looked me right in the eyes and said, "Mommy, I love you." "I love you, Marina." And while those words still hold so much sweetness for me, I dread the sting. Sure enough, she pushed all my buttons yesterday. Thank goodness the master didn't go into P*p* John's. He ran interference for me in the evening, when her acting out had reached a crescendo. You see, armed with my new suspicions of how this whole "I love you" thing was playing out, I was able to keep my cool. And she was growing desperate.
In the end, she succeeded. Her daddy put her to bed at 8:00 and told her to lay down and be still, so she did the opposite. When I went to get the baby up for her 10:00 bottle, I found her jumping like a maniac around the room she had trashed. She had opened all of her sister's special treasures, and gorged herself on a sack of hoarded Halloween candy. I haven't found any signs that she urinated on anything, but it doesn't mean that I won't. I could tell she was glad to finally have been discovered. I admit, I lost it.
The master administered her actual punishment, but I found myself yelling at her: "I know why you are doing this. I KNOW WHY! You told me you loved me yesterday. And now you are trying to push me away. You can't make me stop loving you! It doesn't matter what you do! I love you, and you are stuck with me! Do you hear me? I am your mother FOREVER!" Not the usual choice of speech for a butt chewing, but that is what is overflowing from my heart in those angry, confused, frustrated moments. And for her, them's fightin' words. She is afraid of the love she feels, the love she needs.
I don't know how to handle this. But I know when I'm yelling, she is winning. This is a battle she cannot afford to win. Heaven help us, how would her marriage survive the honeymoon? Based on my research, the best approach would be to not react negatively to her negative behavior (so far, I've been a total wash out with that) and have her spend every waking moment with me following any vocal expression of love. This ought to make for some interesting notes to the teacher:

Please excuse Marina for her absence on Tuesday. She told me she loved me on Monday.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, Monday, November 17, 2008
Outside My Window...I can't see them, but I know that my yard is covered in fall leaves.
I am thinking...about the blog post I just finished reading. An adoptive mother who has spent the last three days with the newborn she expected to bring home today posted, "The mother is having second thoughts. Please pray."
I am thankful for...This will sound terrible, but at this moment, I am feeling very thankful that C.C. did not have a choice. Technically, she chose us, and I will be forever thankful for that, but in any case, she would not have been allowed to take Cara out of the hospital. I am thankful that C.C. willingly signed over her rights immediately, thereby making it possible for Cara to escape entering the foster care system.
From the kitchen...mmmm, good stuff. The lasagna is almost done. The french bread and corn on the cob are on the stove. Desert is chocolate peanut butter fudge (and it is good for you!)
I am jeans, T-shirt, tennis shoes. (I didn't have to retype that. It is the same thing as last week. Sad.)
I am creating...custom blog headers (see below). This weekend I figured out how to sew my own baby slings and I have already made two. Cara and I will make quite the fashion splash. Her sling is most useful for our all day trips to the Big City. Especially when I have Marina and Randy along. I can carry her in the sling and still have both hands free for hand-holding.
I am going...I'm changing this one to "I went" this week. I went to my hometown this weekend to visit my mom and attend my friend's baby shower.
I am reading...The Trumpet Of the Swan (kid's bedtime book. I think it is time we finished this book). Ephesians.
I am hear something regarding finalization this week.
I am hearing...Cara is beginning to fuss. K is arguing with Ian. Abby is practicing the piano. I hear the lasagna sizzling. Marina is singing something, but I can't quite make out the words. Now, I hear drumming....
One of my favorite things...My "Hungry Girl Cookbook" Great buy ladies, and it is where I got my chocolate fudge recipe.
Around the you can tell from the "I am hearing" section, it is pretty chaotic.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...Get the last of the church directory in the mail, and crop on Friday and Saturday.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...
I'm a fashion plate.

For more Simple Woman posts, visit the original.

Friday, November 14, 2008

For Cari

Here is a blog header I created for my friend Cari. I'm posting it here, because she seems to have trouble opening the link from e-mail. I love scrap blog!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, Monday, November 10, 2008
Outside My Window...drippy leaves and overcast sky. Texas winter has arrived.
I am thinking...about the Masonic Lodge. But why I am thinking of that most random topic is a spaghetti bowl, that I'm not prepared to delve into.
I am thankful for...good in-laws. We got to spend time with the master's family this weekend. Having an extended family you genuinely love--not just tolerate for your spouse's sake--is a true blessing.
From the kitchen...freshly mopped floors. Some meat out to thaw. The refrigerator is bare, so it is time to do some more cooking.
I am jeans, T-shirt, purple sweatshirt and tennis shoes.
I am creating...a quilt and badge vests for the children's mission group.
I am going...again making another trip to the big city for Cara's appointment. I'm going to wear out the roads between here and there.
I am reading...The Trumpet Of the Swan (kid's bedtime book). Galatians.
I am hoping... From last week **for the Spirit to work in my oldest daughter. She is passed the age when I accepted Christ. Older than her brother was when he was baptized. She isn't even showing a hunger for spiritual things, and maybe that is what concerns me the most. About a month ago, I drew her aside, and said that I hoped she would truly start to listen with her heart during service, and that if she had any questions, her daddy or I would be happy to answer them. But nothing has come from that ** Update-twice this week Abby initiated a spiritual conversation--once with her daddy and once with me. This is most encouraging, and I am now hoping for more work of the Spirit soon in her heart. She seems to be struggling most with having to come to Christ on His terms and His alone. In her mind, she has some very good ideas on how things should work that make perfect sense. She is waiting to see if she and Jesus can have a relationship that doesn't involve her 100% total submission.
Aye, yiah, much they have to much they have to teach!
I am hearing...I am straining to hear the wind that I see is blowing outside, but this house is so well insulated I can't. The children are all down for an early nap, otherwise I couldn't be blogging.
One of my favorite things...changing Cara's diaper. Never thought that would be one of my favorite aspects of parenting, but Cara LOVES having her diaper changed. She coos and kicks and giggles, and her eyes light up and dance. And that is when I know that whatever damage might have been done to her body in utero, her mind is whole and healthy.
Around the house...Sleeping children and quiet clutter.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...Tuesday ECI is coming to start Cara's evaluations, Wednesday the aforementioned Big City appointment, Thursday WIC. Oh, and I had to move the crop to the NEXT weekend (Novemeber 21st and 22nd)
Here is picture thought I am sharing...

My own Matryoshka dolls. Why is Cara always screaming in these group photos?

This meme brought to you by Simple Woman's Daybook

Friday, November 7, 2008

Flashback Friday

There is a challenge floating out there to post referral pictures. I'm always happy for an excuse to share cute pictures of my kids!

Here is Marina's referral picture. She is 5 1/2 months old. My apologies to the folks who had to endure 3 months of pushing this same photo in your faces, but look at this way, you've had almost a four year break! We also had a video. The video is better, but now we have no VHS player, so we need to see about getting it converted to DVD. When we went to pick Marina up, an earlier photo was also given to us--around two months old--but it is even smaller and you can't see much of her face.

No referral picture for Cara! When we drove down to south Texas, our worker Denise, had not yet been able to visit the baby. All she could tell us was that, "she heard she was beautiful." That was a true rumor if ever there was one. Someone (social workers? nurses?) snapped a poor quality Polaroid picture of her at birth, that I saw the night we met C.C., but there was only one, and I taped it to the inside of our birthmom book. I'm glad I did! I remember being embarrassed that she had such a crummy photo, and felt sure that we would bring her a whole stack of wonderful pictures the next day to replace it. But by the next day, she was gone. Here is the first picture we took of her with our camera. Notice how big the newborn binky looks compared to her head. She was so little!
The earliest photos of the rest are sonogram, and they pretty much all look the same :0). Funny side note: The Christmas we were waiting for Marina, was emotionally tough for me. I made an ornament with her referral picture and hung in on the tree--symbolic of my hope that she would soon be with us in person. Every year when we trim the tree, I let Marina hang her special ornament (Yes, it still brings a tear to my eye!) And every year one of the older [birth] kids will whine with jealousy, "Where's my referral picture? Why don't I have a referral picture?"

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

In His Considered Opinion

My oldest is an odd duck. Take these two conversations from this afternoon for example:

I was comforting Randy in the kitchen. He has been clingy and wanting lovins throughout his sickness. I was the same way as a child. I used to beg Mom and Daddy to come sit next to me when I was sick, and I remarked how Randy and I shared that trait.
K: That is the opposite from me. I prefer to be left alone when I am sick.
This was the latest of a long series of, "I like to be alone" statements, and I said, "You seem to be mentioning that a lot lately. You want to be alone to eat. You want to be alone when you read. Now you want to be alone when you are sick?"
K (remember he is only nine years old): Mother. I am the oldest of six siblings. I am never alone. It is perfectly natural that I should feel this way.
Allrighty then.

While discussing with Abby that I hoped by using a professional upholstery cleaner we would be able to save the couch from Randy's Heavin' Siege of 2008.
K from the dining room: Perhaps in light of recent mishaps, we should offer the love seat alone when seating guests.
Again, he is NINE years old.

I am either raising a brilliant therapist, the next Emily Post, or one heck of a good hermit here.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Simple Woman's Day Book

FOR TODAY, Monday, November 3, 2008
Outside My Window...pitch black darkness at 7:48. I hate the time change.
I am thinking...about the future of our great nation on the eve of the presidential election.
I am thankful for...a college education. I turned in my substitute application today and in every school I visited the secretary asked me, "Are you certified?" To which I could reply, "Yes, I am." That was a good feeling. I felt employable (is that a word?), and it renewed my commitment to keep my teaching licence current. You can substitute teach without a teaching license, but certified teachers with classroom experience are more in demand. I am also thankful that before the end of the year, we will have paid off my student loan. It only took us eight years! I'm sure Dave Ramsey would be horrified. I'm pretty horrified, myself. EIGHT YEARS in bondage to Sallie Mae for one stinking semester! And it was my student teaching semester! I was working and paying them for the privilege. AUGHH!!!!
From the kitchen...Pretty messy. Cluttered counters, full sink, and a few treat bags from Friday.
I am wearing...PJ's
I am creating...not much. I did some scrapbooking this weekend. Which reminds me, all blog readers withing driving distance are invited to a crop on November 14th and 15th at our church.
I am going...absolutely nowhere. According to Dave, I'm not going anywhere for a VERY, VERY long time. But when we are debt free? Oh yeah, baby, the world is my oyster.
I am reading...The Trumpet Of the Swan (kid's bedtime chapter book), blogs, and not much else.
I am hoping...for the Spirit to work in my oldest daughter. She is passed the age when I accepted Christ. Older than her brother was when he was baptized. She isn't even showing a hunger for spiritual things, and maybe that is what concerns me the most. About a month ago, I drew her aside, and said that I hoped she would truly start to listen with her heart during service, and that if she had any questions, her daddy or I would be happy to answer them. But nothing has come from that. I don't know if I should say more or wait for her.
I am hearing...Randy's hacking cough from the sickness mat. He is still puny. Poor guy.
One of my favorite things...I'm sure I've posted this before, but I have an ongoing love affair with hot chocolate.
Around the house...every piece of bed linen has been puked on, washed, dried, aired, and placed back on the beds at least once. Several sofa cushions will never be the same. This being the first time ever, Randy has had the stomach virus, he has not been schooled in the fine art of MAKING IT TO THE POTTY.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The that I have that application turned in, I'm pretty free. We have family pictures on Saturday, so I have to put the finishing touches on our coordinating photography wardrobe.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Big Papa and little Princess take a snooze together.

This meme brought to you by: Simple Woman's Daybook

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Mamaporuski, a new blog friend, has tagged me for seven random things. I've done one before--"eight random things"--and I'm not confident that I can come up with 15 things total about me. I parent six children. Am I really an individual at all? I guess this is a good opportunity to get re-acquainted....
1. O.K. I've got a shocker....I actually (occasionally) get annoyed with my husband's righteousness. I do! Honestly, what does that say about me??!! How much more perverse could I be? That, not only do I fall short of holiness, I gotta begrudge someone else's? It happened just today: The master has been working nights at P*p* John's delivering pizza (we're attempting to make up the two house payments shortfall--whole different post). We haven't enjoyed a family meal all week. Yesterday, I prepared one of his favorite meals, chicken and dumplings and a special dessert he LOVES for Sunday lunch. I didn't get to go to church (Randy has a mean case of stomach bug--yuck!). But when he arrived home, I had the table all prepared, like the dutiful, submissive wife I am, waiting expectantly for his compliments. His response to my dinner call? "I'm fasting until after Tuesday's election. But I will drink some iced tea." So, I am aggravated by his act of spiritual devotion, and even more angry at myself for being aggravated. Am I not a hopeless case?
2. Lullabies and bedtime songs I sing: "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"; "Before I Knew Your Name"; "Come Ye Sinners"; "It Is Well With My Soul"; "Softly and Tenderly"; "Snuggle Puppy"; "Bring Back Marina" my adaptation of "Bring Back My Bonnie" it goes like this, "Marina lies over the ocean, Marina lies over the sea, Marina lies over in Russia, Bring back Marina to me." Don't worry, in the last verse she "flies home with me." Which, as you know, she did! ; a Cajun-French song my nanny sang to me when I was a baby. Don't know the title, it is only written in my heart. Mama says that it is about a drunkard and his nagging wife. In the song he is telling her that when he dies, he wants to be buried under the sweet potato vine...strange lyrics for a lullaby, but in French it sounds lovely.
3. I have fat sausage toes. But, I think they are kind of cute.
4. I have chin hairs. Gross, dark, disgusting chin hairs. I remind myself that I need to be nice to my children, if for no other reason than I'm going to be dependent on these people to come to the nursing home and pluck my chin hairs.
5. Pet peeves: little girls with ragamuffin hair, repeating words and phrases, someone writing with a dull pencil, incessant sniffling (get a tissue!!)...
6. I was coming up dry for the last two, so I asked the kids to tell me something about me. I begged them to be kind. K said, "You're a great mom, who knows what she is doing." Abby said, "You're loving." Aww, shucks....
7. I asked the master to name something random about me to finish off the post. He offered the CAMP SHOES. I have a pair of once white Keds which I keep at the lake that I have owned and worn since I was 15. WOW! That is exactly half of my life. They started out as my twirling shoes and over time came to reside at the lake house. I wear them at all times while there, because they can be worn in and out of the lake. They are a dingy, non-descript color, with several holes, and after that first dip in the reservoir, they don't smell too great. Throughout the years, my family has tried to persuade me to replace them with a new, old pair of sneakers, but I refuse. They are just getting broke in. The master says that this is random information because, "you are not normally a nasty person....and those are some NASTY shoes."

I tag: all readers of this blog, which according to my comments numbers, is only 6-7 people.
Cari, Tami, Carla, Christine, Suzi, Allison, and Kathy F. (you can do your random things in pictures. That will be interesting.)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Harvest!

Does this pumpkin make my butt look big?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It Only Took Me Six Tries

When we started looking into another adoption eighteen months ago, we thought in all likelihood, we would be matched with an AA child. I read up on racially mixed families. I remember a comment from one adoptive mom in particular. She said that adopting across racial lines meant that suddenly your family became "conspicuously adoptive." I pondered that statement a long time. While we eventually decided we could handle that adjustment, I knew and admitted to our social worker that it would be the most difficult transition for me.
We already turn many heads when we are in public because of our size. I suppose by now I should have a thicker skin, but if I am being honest with myself, the stares, comments, questions and whispers, still annoy me. Oh, I have my carefully thought out responses always ready, but it bothers me that I have to use them at least once each and every time I stir out of doors. Just one time in three years have I had to broach the additional topic of adoption with these nosey strangers. And in truth, that was a relief for me. Because Marina is white, people naturally assume that our "weirdness" is limited to having an "insane" number of children. Any questions of, "Are they all yours?" are answered in the affirmative. Sometimes, someone will notice that Marina is very tall for her age (not like the rest), but I choose to simply say, "Yes, she is" and leave it at that.
We believe Cara is at least partially Hispanic (1/2, 1/4?). Her birthmother, C.C. was 100% Caucasian, but that is the minority in south Texas. We love Cara's beautiful black hair and dark (my mama calls them "Spanish") eyes. So far, we have had two comments from strangers. Both were from African American women on separate occasions who--after looking over the other children--asked, "She looks mixed. What is she mixed with?" I found that it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I said, "She is adopted. We believe her birthfather was Hispanic." Do you think that was all right? Or perhaps, I should say, "She is adopted." and leave off the part about her birthfather. As long as I didn't have the master with me, I could say, "She is half Hispanic." and not even bring the whole adoption thing up. NONE of it is their business, but I am reluctant to respond rudely to rudeness.
And I'm learning there are funny moments for bi-racial families, too. A few weeks ago, we were sitting at Wendy's after Sunday night church. Two older ladies began to comment on our family. They didn't realize that--in talking loud enough for audibility between each others' hearing aids--they were broadcasting the conversation to the entire restaurant. They exclaimed over the amount of food on our table. Recalled all of their acquaintances who also had large families. They counted the children. They grouped boys and girls. Made guesses on their ages. They noted how well the kids behaved. Remarked how pretty and fair they were. And coming to the end of the dialogue, their eyes came to rest on me as I held Cara.
"And look at that! She finally got one that looks like her."
Ha, ha, ha. I smiled broadly at them. Those near-sighted ladies made my day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sweet Hearts

You may remember that last Thanksgiving we traveled to Illinois to visit the master's extended family, but most especially his aging grandmother, "Grandma Z." We both thought it would be the last time we saw her, and it was important for us that she get to see the children. We were very glad we made the trip, especially when his grandfather (on the other side) passed away unexpectedly three weeks after. We have some wonderful pictures of the kids getting to be with him and love on him.
However, Grandma Z is still with us, though she has had some touch and go moments over the past year. She is the master's last remaining grandparent. She has been on dialysis for over a year now and must go in every other day. She is tired and has just announced to the family that she will not continue dialysis after Christmas. When we got the e-mail, we discussed over dinner what we should do. We had not planned to return this year, but should we change our plans in light of this new information? Of course, the kids wanted to pack up right then and head out to see Grandma Z.
We freely discuss finances with and around our kids. We want to give them a good foundation, so that hopefully they will learn from our mistakes, glean wisdom from our successes, and become problem solvers. Last night was no exception. A trip to Illinois is expensive and financially draining to our budget, particularly right before Christmas, and we explained that to them. That's when K looked up from his plate and offered this suggestion:
"What if we gave up our Christmas presents? Getting to see Grandma Z before she went to be with Jesus would be our present!"
I looked around the table. There was no outcry of dissent but nods of agreement, smiles, and a few exclamations of, "Yeah, Bubba, that would work!"
My heart swelled with pride. Thank you Lord for giving me these sweet children. They teach me so much.

Monday, October 27, 2008


In the last few days, I have been amazed by the number of blogs and bumper stickers of professing Christians who are supporting Obama. How can they vote for a man who has voted against medical aid for babies who are BORN ALIVE? James Dobson's broadcast sickened me even further. This man goes way past pro-choice. He is adamantly and completely pro-abortion. He would even repeal the laws that require doctors to explain to the patient what will be done to her body and the baby's body during the abortion process.
Cara was born four months ago to a VERY confused, traumatized woman. There is so much of the story I can't give you, but the circumstances were ugly, brutal, horrific...some of the worst I have ever heard of. I am convinced, after hearing this broadcast, and reading the article that under an Obama presidency, babies like Cara will be partially born, mutilated, murdered, and discarded. [Yes, even at 33 weeks. If you doubt it, please read the article.] Hospitals will have nothing to lose and government money to gain by shoving a piece of paper at desperate women in their most vulnerable moments and aborting these babies. I am not pro-choice, but even if I was, how does this protect a woman's choice?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Laughing Out Loud

So, I was getting on to check my comments from the last post, and the master decided to read over my shoulder. He got to Tami's, "You are so together," and--kid you not--burst out in full belly guffaws. I had to smile myself when I read it, but honestly, did he have to LAUGH OUT LOUD? Cari, fess up, you are laughing, too.
Tami, if you could see my house, you would KNOW that I definitely do not have it all together. I put everything on hold--cooking, cleaning, basic hygiene, etc.--for the week before fall festival and create. I don't know why, but I really have alot of fun witCheck Spellingh costuming. The kids get into it as well, but probably only because I have conditioned them with years of elaborate dress-up. In another life--without the chuckling husband and kiddo cast--I could see myself as a Broadway designer.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Return to Oz

They were a HUGE hit at the fall festival. Here they are: Dorothy, ToTo, The Scarecrow, The Tin Man, The Cowardly Lion, and Glenda the Good Witch.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Coming Up for Air

Well, I have a few more sequins to sew on...a little magic with the glue gun on finishing touches and I am done with Fall Festival Costuming 2008. And it is going to be a good year. Ultimate cuteness. I'm a little disappointed with Randy's outfit, but I think, in context with the other's, it will be o.k. I couldn't find the right type of fur at any of our fabric/craft stores, so I had to improvise with a much shorter nap than the pattern called for. And the dye bath for Cara's costume didn't quite come out the color I was hoping for--but at any rate--it is done. Again, I'm hoping the overall theme will pull it off. Aren't you dying to see them? Tune in tomorrow, friends it is worth logging on for.
The master went to Houston yesterday morning. He had two solid days of fittings and this afternoon walked out of the office with his FINAL prosthetic. This one has a working ankle (his real ankle was fused) and it also has a pump to return his energy, so he will be able to RUN!! For the first time in his life. I can't wait to see it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pelmeni Recipe

I will happily share my pelmeni recipe. I got it at our very first culture day, which we attended BEFORE being matched with Marina. The recipe itself is very simple--it is the rolling, filling, and sealing of the pelmini that is tedious. But if you have as many happy helpers as I do, it is not too bad. Tami, I think this would be a great dish to add to your holiday feast. Pelmeni is an EXCELLENT make ahead meal, and--I think--one of the ultimate comfort foods. I freeze the pelmeni completely assembled, but uncooked. When I'm ready to serve them, I take them directly from the freezer to the boiling pot. Mamaporuski, I don't know if you ate pelmeni while in Russia/Ukraine, but I found that after one bowl of the meat stuffed dumplings, I was usually FULL. As I said, our pelmeni are a little on the large side (on account of the little hands and fingers shaping the dough). For this batch, I estimated eight dumplings per family member for one meal when dividing them into freezer bags. Cari, pelmeni is a traditional Russian meal (sometimes served as an appetizer), and we found that it is generally served with a broth consisting of the water they are cooked in and sour cream and butter. I love it so much this way, that I have never tried it any other, but our translator told us that many eat it with a thin tomato ketchup. Russian mommies, how have you eaten them? Here is the recipe, along with some Su____ tips:

4 Cups Flour
1 Cup Milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
3 Eggs

Meat Filling:
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1 onion finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste (sometimes I am tempted to get fancy with my seasonings, but sticking with salt and pepper only produces a truly authentic taste.)
1 Tblsp milk

*I triple this recipe for our yearly pelmeni making.

1. In a medium bowl, combine ground meat, onion, milk and salt and pepper. In a larger bowl, combine flour with salt. Add eggs, milk and oil until a soft dough forms. Knead on floured surface until dough is elastic.
2. On a lightly-floured surface, roll dough until 1/16 in thick (easier said than done!!). Take a glass and or cookie cutter approximately 3 inches in diameter and cut into rounds.
3. Place 1 teaspoon of meat into the center of the round and fold into a half-moon. Pinch edges together to seal. (We sometimes moisten edge with water to create a better seal. You don't want you pelmeni to pop open in the pot.)
*At this point you can freeze them if desired.*
4. Bring water to boil in large pot. Carefully drop pelmeni into pot and gently stir from time to time to prevent their sticking together. Boil 20 minutes (I don't think mine take this long. I boil them until they look right, then I fish one out and cut it open to make sure the meat is cooked.)

I always seem to have meat mixture left over. I think this is due to not getting our dough thin enough, so of course, we run out of dough faster. Beef and pork mixtures are a staple of cajun cuisine, so I'm using my excess meat to make dirty rice this week--a meal of my OWN cultural heritage. ;0)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Rolling in the Dough

Pelmini dough that is! Suz posted last week on their family day dinner of Russian cuisine, and it got me hankering for a big bowl of pelmini. Making pelmini from scratch is a family affair, and you can count on completely destroying your kitchen in the process, but it is alot of fun. Because they are so labor intensive, we only make them once a year (in the fall or winter) and freeze several batches. The master tried to find some Tchaikovsky on the computer for our listening pleasure, but when his search proved fruitless, he settled for a you-tube of Ray Stevens, "Surfin' USSR." Ha, ha, now that's cultural education at its finest. For those of you who have eaten real Russian pelmini, you can see that ours are not quite as dainty, but I assure you, they are as tasty!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, Monday, October 13, 2008

Outside My Window...a fall sunset. This evening on the drive home K said, "Mom, you know how you say that when you watch Cara sucking her binkie, you can't imagine how some people believe there is no God? Well, that is how the sunset makes me feel." Well said.
I am thinking...about the week ahead. All the work I need to do for a Saturday garage sale.
I am thankful for...last night after church a man from the congregation showed us the van he is GIVING us. I'm so thankful for it! We were just about to sell our car anyway, and I was not looking forward to "making do" with one vehicle. Problem solved!
From the kitchen...Frankly, not a whole lot going on in there. The master had a budget and finance meeting tonight and we caught an early supper at McAlister's. I am in desperate need of a trip to the grocery store. Like Old Mother Hubbard, my cupboard's (and fridge, and pantry, and cleaning closet) are bare.
I am wearing...H_______ Track and Field shirt. They were selling shirts at the 5K run for a $1. I couldn't pass that deal up! So now, we look like quite the avid racing enthusiasts.
I am creating...six fall festival costumes. Two down four to go. I'm hitting the why-in-the-world-did-I-ever-start-this-project? stage.
I am the "big city" on Wednesday for Cara's doctor appointment. Fun, fun.
I am reading...The Trumpet Of the Swan (kid's bedtime chapter book), A Place Called Home (Lori Wick), need to get back in the Word.
I am hoping...that we will have no more trouble getting payment out of the man who bought our vending machine business. He was two months delinquent and we had to bring a lawyer into it. Then he got really ugly yelling, cussing, the whole nine yards. Made a complete ass of himself. I hate to point this out to him but HE is the one not abiding by the terms of the contract.
I am hearing...K clearing away his homework, Abby, Ian, and Marina involved in a rowdy game of pretend. The early fussing of Cara getting ready for her bottle. We're going to have to wrap this one up quick.
One of my favorite things...A finely stitched seam.
Around the house...the air of an impending garage sale.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...Wednesday appointment and children's group, Thursday meeting for church directory, Friday and Saturday garage sale, throw in a few fall festival costumes, and I think that will do it.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Guess who? The fall air takes me back to football games and fire batons, late night bus trips and nacho cheese chips. Amazing that they were a regular meal in my diet, and I still looked like that. More amazing still--at the time--I thought I was FAT.

This meme brought to you by: Simple Woman's Daybook

Friday, October 10, 2008

Baking Biscuits

I read this on a blog comment the other day, and loved it! So true:

Raising kids is like baking biscuits--It is as easy to raise a big batch as it is to raise one, so long as you keep your fingers in the dough.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Post Placement Visit

Our post-placement visit went very well. They arrived about two hours early (that seems to be a recurring theme with our social workers), but we were good. Not one to make the same mistake twice, I'd mopped the floor FIRST this time. ;0) We weren't sure how long it would take them to drive from Houston here, so it was probably our fault. We over estimated. But, it gave us time to visit with them (two ladies from our agency came), before the second shift of kiddos got home from school.
I have to say this again...I love our agency!!! This will sound so cliche, but they truly do seem like members of the family. The conversation was easy and not forced, as it often was with agency #1. That is due, I think, in a large part to everyone at this agency being mothers themselves. In Marina's adoption NOT ONE person we dealt with--U.S. side or Russian--was a parent. Yesterday, I was chatting with women who have been in the trenches. The director, Jan, raised six kids. All adopted at birth, five with special needs. The other lady who came is Ann, she and her husband have raised 15! I believe birth and adopted, with most of their adoptions coming from the foster care program. I would have loved to just sit and pick their brains all evening. Much wisdom could be gleaned from them, I am sure. Mostly, though, we talked about how Cara was doing and how we were all adjusting. Then the older kids came home, and praise be, everyone behaved well, with their good manners. My kids can be very charming and entertaining. They get that from their dad.
We all had a lovely dinner. Yes, I served them dinner, Christine. I didn't have to, but like I said, it was really as though some of our great aunts had dropped in for the evening, and I wanted them to share a meal with us. I feel so much love and thankfulness for these people. They matched us with Cara and have STOOD BY US, despite her diagnosis. There have been no, "Well, the risks were clearly explained to you..." speeches, just love and support. They have worked countless hours to ensure Cara benefits from every service possible, and all without pay. The director has told us that our account is considered paid in full. We only paid $750. We will have to pay court costs, if we are allowed to finalize, but still that is an amazing, generous, miraculous, gift. I hope I am not stealing their reward, but I feel as though I must sing their praises. They are very special ladies--all of them. Our worker from the adoption, Denise, did not get to come, but we will see her the first week in December when we go to the agency Christmas party.

Picture Challenge

This is a challenge post. Hence the title. You are supposed to post the sixth picture from your sixth file on your computer. I haven't yet checked what that will be....Yikes! It is a picture of a very pregnant me unwrapping gifts at Randy's baby shower. At least the gift is covering much of my hugeness. Thanks, Tami, for that little walk down memory lane. Anyone else?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Top Six

Top six signs we are having a post-placement visit this evening:

6. I'm letting Barney baby-sit Randy while I clean.

5. I'm serving a three course meal on a Tuesday night.

4. I'm completely dressed with make-up on before 10:00 am.

3. In the last 24 hours we have installed 6 smoke dectectors, 15 cabinet locks, and 30 outlett plugs.

2. I checked behind 12 ears and under 60 fingernails after last night's bath.

1. And the NUMBER ONE, proof positive indicator......A VIEW FROM THE BOYS' CLOSET:

*They did this themselves. Didn't they do a great job??!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

She Has It All Figured Out

I have always been the subject of my children's first drawings. Usually, I'm pictured under a rainbow, or beside a darling house with a smoking chimney. Sometimes I'm seen skipping through exceptionally large wildflowers and sometimes I'm grasping a bouquet of "roses." Other times I'm holding a baby or the artist's hand. Added to the artwork there is typically a great profusion of hearts and X's and O's and even the occasional careful inscription, "ILUVMOM." And I am forever smiling.
Last Christmas, my mom gave Marina a M*gn* Doodle. And early last spring Marina's first real drawings emerged. Sure enough one of her first exclamations was, "Look, Momma, I drawed a picture of you." But lifting the screen to admire her work, I saw a stick figure with hair, two arms, and two legs...and a huge scowl on it's face. Where were the wild flowers? Where were the kisses and hugs? Where was my enormous, stretching-from-one-side-to-the-other smile?

Me: Marina, honey, you drew it very well, but why did you draw me with a frown?
Marina: Well, I can't draw it good the other way.
Me: Oh, I'll help you.

So we erased the frowning mommy and I helped her several times with making the U shape. Over the next few months, my sinister expression kept re-appearing on the M*gn* Doodle. It got to where--when I saw her busy with the pen--I would catch her attention and flash her my broadest grin, "See, Marina? I'm smiling. Mommy is happy. I like to smile. Please draw me smiling, Rina."
And that seemed to help. While I didn't star in any wild flower fields, at least I didn't look ready to carve some one's liver. But on Friday, Marina was working on the carpet with her precious Doodle, snickering all the while. After a few minutes she sat back on her haunches, evidently pleased with her masterpiece. She brought the Doodle over to me on the couch. The screen was 3/4 ths the way covered with scribbles and in the top right hand corner was a stick figure with two eyes and a big frown.

Marina: pointing Look Mommy...this is you.
Me: inwardly sighing Marina, why am I frowning?
Marina: indicating large mass of scribbles 'Cause this is a tornado, and it is about to carry you away. She does not seem troubled whatsoever over my sudden and traumatic departure, but rather impressed with her own ingenuity in writing me out of her life's screenplay.
Me: extensionally also impressed, somewhat amused, and mildly alarmed. My attachment sensors just went on full alert But, if I went away in a tornado, who would take care of you?

Marina pauses, then a light seems to dawn. She grabs the Doodle and goes back to the carpet. I'm thinking she has realized that perhaps my being spirited away in a whirlwind would not be best and is revamping her artwork. Guess again.

Marina: excitedly I have enough room at the bottom...I can draw Daddy...He will take care of me when the tornado take you away.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

She Must Prefer Pile

Just peeking around the corner of the couch to check on Sleeping Beauty only to find that she has wiggled off her lovely pink blanket and is sleeping on the carpet again. I've put her back on twice! I guess she likes it better there. Sure hope she doesn't pick up a hairball!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Birth Order Musings

I'm finishing up Dr. Lehman's book, The Birth Order Book. While I'd heard this and that regarding birth order before, it was good to read a thorough work on the subject. It was most helpful for me in understanding the two major "first-borns" in my life--the master and K. If your spouse is a first born or last born, I would definitely recommend reading this book.
I am not first born, but since my older sister is seven years older, I exhibit many first born tendencies. Unfortunately, first borns tend to always think their way is the right way, and it is their job to convince everyone else to see it their way. You can see how this can be problematic in marriage!
A neat statistic that Dr. Lehman brought out was that 80% of pastors are first born and another 10% are the first born males in their families. Only 10% are middle born and babies. I guess it makes sense that they develop a natural affinity for helping people along in life. I think of how often K serves as a kind of shepard--patiently herding kids one direction or another.
Speaking of K, Reading the chapter on compliant first borns was eerie when I applied it to my oldest son. Dr. Lehman could have used his picture in the margin with the words, "Exhibit A." He fits exactly. First borns tend to expect perfection--from themselves and others--so they can be prone to depression as adults when they and the people they love fail to live up to their ideal. I learned that, with K, it will be important for us to be transparent when we make mistakes and fail. The worse we mess up, the better. WOW! That takes the pressure off, doesn't it? He needs to see that God forgives us, we forgive ourselves, and we forgive each other. For years I've wondered why K had such a hard time making decisions. He would agonize over any and every choice. Silly stuff, like, "K, do you want Cheerios, or Shredded Wheat?" I must admit, after waiting several minutes for his answer, I often found myself blurting out, "Just pick something already!!" The Birth Order Book helped me see that it isn't that he doesn't know what he wants, it is that he is afraid he will make a bad/wrong decision. The first born is often paralyzed by this fear, which seems so foreign to me. Again, very helpful to see things from the first born's perspective.
There is less in the book regarding middle borns. SEE??!! We're always left out. Family photo albums are just the beginning....Nah, as I said, while I am the middle child of my family, I showed up seven year's later (any age difference of more than five years, will affect birth order traits--so says Lehman). Also I came on the scene after a four year battle with infertility, so I made a pretty good showing in the family album. My younger sister, Jen, is the one with the sore spot on number of photos. One thing that I'd never thought about before was that middle children often make more friends and put a far greater investment into these relationships than first or last borns. This was very true for me growing up. From the time I was a little girl, I had a large, close circle of friends that I was always out doing things with. Both of my sister's had maybe one or two good friends and rarely went out, which always struck me as strange. I had no idea that this tendency was somehow linked to my birth order. Middle born children are also extremely loyal to these relationships, that is what makes them good spouses. And, they are the ones that are the first to break away from the family and start independent lives (I married the master at 19).
I garnered the least amount of helpful information on last borns. But as I started to analyze my family and friends, I realized that I am close to few babies of the family. My younger sister and I, born 16 months apart, were raised as virtual "twins," so maybe that accounts for why she exhibits more middle-born tendencies than baby tendencies. And my sister-in-law (the baby), is more of a perfectionist than the master! Personality wise, she is a dead ringer for a first born. It could be my small sample size, but it was definitely with the last borns that I saw the most discrepancy in his theory. I do see what he calls "baby" tendencies with Ian and Randy, but I think that comes from my babying of them! This is his list of general baby characteristics:
"manipulator, charming, blames others, attention seeker, tenacious, people person, natural salesperson, precocious, engaging, affectionate, loves surprises."

So what do you think? Are you a last born? Know any last borns? Is he off, or am I?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Preschool Grief Therapy

As an update on the dachshund situation. Our new improved fence did not hold the escape artists. At two a.m. Saturday morning, there was a knock at our door. It was a neighbor who had not gotten any sleep because of our dogs. They had treed a possum in her back yard and had been yipping incessantly for hours. We held the dogs in the garage until about 6:00 am, and then the master took them to their new homes.
I thought the girls were taking it pretty well. We distracted Abby with a trip that morning to her best friend's house. Who needs dogs when you have a bosom companion? Marina joined us on the outing, and as far as I could tell, both girls were sufficiently recovered from their initial upset.
Little did I know...
Flash forward three days. Marina comes home from school with the exciting news that after an entire month of waiting, she had finally experienced the joy and privilege of being "The Leader." For days, she had been watching her clothespin move closer and closer to that much coveted place of honor, "Just four more days, Momma, and I am d' leader"..."I count three days till I am d' leader." The leader gets to pass out papers. The leader is first in line. AND the leader gets to dictate the class's daily journal entry during circle time. I did the same thing when I taught kindergarten. Apparently, Marina's teacher also asks the leader how they are feeling and records their response as a face beside their name. Scroll down to see what Marina pulled out of her back-pack on Tuesday.

Ask me if I feel like dirt.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, Monday, September 22, 2008
Outside My Window...a small purple newt, and beyond, a quiet street in a peaceful neighborhood.
I am thinking...that it is time to put back up our debt snowball poster and figure out where we go from here.
I am thankful for...I am feeling thankful that our old pediatrician has agreed to add our six kiddos to his practice. Cara has an appointment on Wednesday.
From the kitchen...I am happy to report that I have a freshly mopped floor and an empty sink. A few odds and end groceries on the bar that did not get put away in the pantry. A slowly simmering cr*ck-p*t full of pinto beans and sausage for tomorrow's dinner. Mmmm....
I am wearing...Stylin' in red, blue, and bright yellow PTA shirt from K's kindergarten class and teal work-out shorts. Don't worry, I didn't actually work out....
I am creating...nothing. Contemplating starting costumes for the kids, but six costumes is rather overwhelming me.
I am a local education store tomorrow with Marina. Where she will return the die that she STOLE on Friday. Yep, she is a thief. As far as I know, she has only ever stolen within the family before. I found the die on the floor of the van Sunday morning, which did not put me in the best frame of heart for worship. I don't know what I'm going to do with that child.
I am reading...The Wizard of Oz (bedtime chapter book with the kids) and Dr. Lehman's Birth Order Book. Fascinating, fascinating information--probably will hear some posts about birth order and how it applies to my family and the family I grew up in the near future. And Corinthians.
I am hoping...that Marina has learned her lesson on stealing and will NEVER, EVER, do it again.
I am hearing...golden silence.
One of my favorite things...Can I just say I love the new Pr*pel drinks from Gat*rade? You must try Black Cherry.
Around the house...a general sense of order and cleanliness. I'm feeling a need to get pictures, wall hanging, and drapes up. I'm ready to lose that "just moved" look.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Reform shop-lifting daughter. Get Cara to pediatrician. File COBRA insurance paperwork. Make dinner for new mom at church. Finish unpacking girl's bedroom. Oooh! Oooh! And Saturday we (the whole family) are participating in a 5k/1k run. I'll be walking the "run," but it should be fun. You should have seen the master's face when I told him about our participation, "You signed us up for what?" I'm not known for being an exercise enthusiast. But K and Abby have shown a natural aptitude for track events (both won the overall trophies in their age division at last field day), and I think we should encourage this discipline.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Hard to believe, but she will be three months old tomorrow. A newborn no longer! Her shirt says, "I give wet kisses."
This meme brought to you by: Simple Woman's Daybook

Friday, September 19, 2008

Of Daddies, Daughters, and Dachshunds

We have three dachshunds. Rufus, Sally, and GiGi. They are the remnants of one of our get rich schemes: Sunnyside Kennels. Which never really took off. All in all, they are good dogs. Dachshunds are excellent kid dogs, so long as they are raised from puppies with children. However, they have one terrible trait. Their all consuming passion to escape. Bred to follow badgers and other ground creatures into their burrows, dachshunds are wonderful diggers and not a'feared of anything, despite their short stature.
Our dogs are no exception. Over time, our hurricane fence became a high security enclosure with concrete under most of the perimeter and metal clips stuck deep into the ground. Each time they would dig out, we would get out the sack-crete and fill the hole and add some extra clips around it. But that was at our old house.
This back yard has no fence, and we cannot build one until we close on the house. At first we kept the dogs in a little outbuilding, but they escaped from there no less than five times. Last weekend, the master built a temporary fence, but with extra fencing pushed into the soil. He spent over four hours building it and in a little more time than that--you guessed it--the Houdini hounds figured out a way to climb it, flopping their long noodle-like bodies over it in a most ridiculous fashion.
Back into the shed they went. The master was pretty frustrated. But when they--by rushing at them at morning feeding and running lose all over the neighborhood--made Abby late for school on Tuesday, and K late for school on Wednesday, he came to the conclusion that the dogs had to go. That day. He got on the phone and found a home for each of them. He was taking them first thing on Thursday.
For my part, I was as tired of the situation as he was, but doubtful of the plan to give the dogs away. I warned him that the children would be heartbroken, and I was concerned about what message it would send Marina. She is very sensitive to abandonment themes. Every time we watch the Disney movie, Oliver and Company, she will seek me out within the first five minutes (when Oliver is the only kitten not chosen from his litter and is left out in the rain) and tell me that the show makes her sad. Of all the children, Marina likes the dogs the least. She never plays with them or pets them. Even when Sally has had puppies--driving the other kids wild with excitement--she had no interest in them, and is more than mildly annoyed when the dogs jump up on her and dirty her clothes. Still, my mommy-gut wondered how giving the dogs away would make her feel and I worried how it would all play out with her. It had nothing to do with her attachment to the dogs, everything to do with her attachment to us. But the master was firm. He was the head of the house and he felt this was for the best. OBKB....But I opted to be gone when he broke the news.
I came home from choir Wednesday night to find a big puddle of mush in my kitchen. The kids were all in bed, and I asked how had the dog discussion gone. The master looked at the floor. "I caved," he mumbled.

Me: What?

The Master: only slightly louder I caved.

Me: mock surprise No, surely not you!

The Master: looking very sheepish indeed I explained it it wasn't fair to keep the dogs in the shed. That it wasn't a good life for them. But that we couldn't let them run around the neighborhood messing up other people's yards and property. I told them that when we could build a good fence, we would get a new dog. A bigger breed that wouldn't be as prone to getting out. Abby tried to be brave--she kept nodding her head in agreement--but she couldn't help the big tears from rolling down her was the nodding that got me..and then when it finally clicked in Marina's head that the dogs were being sent away, she began to weep bitterly. 'Please don't make the dogs go away.' So, I relented.

Me: triumphantly You are so whooped. Those girls have you right where they want you. Well, what are we going to do about the dogs?

The Master: I said I would fix the fence and make it higher......But if they get out ONE MORE TIME.....

Me: Uh-huh. then in my best sing-song I told you so.

And he did fix the fence. He stayed up all night working on it. The question remains: Will they, or won't they?