Monday, October 27, 2008

The joys of parenting two boys . . .

Here are three pieces of evidence that my boys' goal in life is to torture me. Each of these three things has caused me to teeter on the edge of laughter vs. crying, but I'm at least leaning toward the laughter side now.

Yesterday Keller asked me how to spell "stinky breath" so I told him, not really wanting to know why he needed to know ;) Fast forward twenty minutes and there is evil laughter from him, followed by angry crying from Casey. Turns out big brother had taped a homemade "stinky breath" label onto a water bottle and offered his little brother a taste of this special potion, which he of course drank a sip of because he is always trying to do whatever his cool big brother is doing. The water . . .well, let's just say it came from the bathroom, but not the sink, tub or shower.

Last night we set up the humidifier in the boys' room because they are both prone to nosebleeds, especially right now with the dry air. Casey came out of the bathroom, wet from the tub and snuggled up in a warm towel. He looked at the humidifier, which I'm guessing he doesn't remember from last winter, and immediately proceeds to drop his towel and "cool his jets" over the cold mist vapor with an elated grin on his face.

And finally, today Casey called me into the bathroom to wipe his bottom for him (which is of course, the greatest joy of motherhood--not). I looked in the potty and
didn't see evidence of any pee to go with the other business, so I questioned him about it. He pointed to the floor and said, I peed over there. I saw a few drops and thought he meant he had accidentally sprinkled a little. Oh no, he had intentionally peed down into the heating vent in the floor. I had to clean the vent cover and then scour the ventilation duct inside because we all know what that would smell like if it wasn't cleaned and the heat kicked on.

These boys . . . they had better take care of me in my old age.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Can one be 'prepared' to become a Huffman?

A few people have asked me lately if Marley is 'being prepared' to join our family. Friends and family would like to know how much Marley knows about us, how much she is spoken to about us, and how often she has seen pictures of us. I don't know the answers to those questions. I know that we have sent two small baby-proof (equals chewable/slobberable) albums filled with pictures of our family. I know that we have sent four care packages, each with a letter asking the nannies to give her hugs & kisses and tell her that her family loves her. I also know that she is only 20 months old, so probably doesn't grasp much at this point. She knows that she has a new snuggly blanket, some snazzy toys, and hopefully she is becoming familiar with the strange-looking people in these albums they keep giving her.

But the question of whether or not Marley is 'prepared' to join the Huffman family gave me cause for reflection today. I mean, anyone who has spent more than an hour with our crew knows that we are a unique group with some truly quirky individuals. So, I'll share a glimpse of what Marley needs to be prepared for . . .

Casey has been working on a project that he refers to as "homemade applesauce" for two days now. So far, this concoction has involved water, juice, pretzels, dry spaghetti, chestnuts, one single peanut, a medicine dropper, a bug vacuum, the controller from our V.Smile game system, an 'enchanted fairy wand' that he made me buy him in NC this summer, a plastic sea lion, a wooden foot massager, and a walkie talkie. If any of those items is moved from his 'laboratory' on the kitchen table, he has a fit and reminds us all that he is working on his "homemade applesauce" and we shouldn't touch it. As further evidence of his wonderful imagination, he has been telling us (and anyone else who will listen) that he has another family in California and that he'll be going to live with them soon. He packed a backpack with his brush and mirror, a Pokemon game, a few books, some plastic animals, and a camera. When I mentioned this to an adoptive parent who I am friends with, she said that this is all very normal for a young child who is gaining a sibling through adoption. But when I told her that his 'other family' happens to be half dog/half human robots . . .she didn't mention the words 'very normal' for the rest of the conversation.

Keller has an absolute obsession with climbing, much to the surprise and shock of some of the other parents in the neighborhood. He climbs street signs straight up to the top, does the monkey bars in our back yard at least 50 times a day (typically shirtless, no matter what the weather) and climbed 20 feet up in a spruce tree during his big birthday bash. He has dance moves that bring to mind visions of electroshock therapy and has an amazing arsenal of ridiculous faces to accompany his moves. He is a prolific artist, drawing all things monstrous and hideous. We have weekly sit-downs where I force him to labor over the difficult decision of which 50 pictures to recycle and which 5 to keep for the week.

And then there is Dave. Let's just say that Dave challenged me to a Moonwalk Contest tonight and won. He forced Keller to watch a video of Michael Jackson doing the original, then we had to give our best efforts. For the record, I think Keller picked Dave as the winner solely because he made him laugh harder than I did, with some sort of funky chicken jutting neck movement thrown in there. That's one contest I didn't mind losing. Dave loves to shower me with cheesy romantic comments which earn him rolling eyes and laughter from me. He can turn any conversation into a song, ranging from Phish to Willie Nelson to Jack Johnson to the Beastie Boys.

I'll leave out all of the ways that I am strange and loud, because most of you reading this already know me well enough. A life-long battle with embarassing clumsiness and the frequent loss of important items (wallet, keys, camera) are some of my claims to fame.

Our house is full of laughter, dancing, some really bad singing, and lots of noise. So, is Marley 'prepared' to become a Huffman? All we can do is hope that the combined commotion of the other 50-60 kiddos at her orphanage have at least given her the ability to roll with the punches, right?!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Keller's Dino Dig!

Still waiting . . .

Thanks to the many folks who have checked in on us to see how things are going as we wait for Marley. We haved passed the tentative 60-90 day timeframe for the phase we are in. We are on day 103 today. Joining the "Century Club" isn't something we had planned on, but it is what it is. There is no problem or reason for concern, the process is just moving very slowly in China for many families right now. Our agency expects us to have our LOA (Letter of Acceptance) by the end of October. The LOA is a letter that the Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs sends to us asking us if we still accept Marley and wish to proceed with her adoption. It signifies that all of the paperwork we submitted is through their review process. We will sign it and send it back to them, and then approximately 3 weeks later, we will receive our Travel Approval (TA). We are still really hoping to be able to bring her home by the end of 2008, but it is out of our hands.

I am currently fluctuating between wallowing in self-pity (with plans to wallow in chocolate and wine as soon as a decent hour arrives!) and feeling at peace with everything. To keep it in perspective, I have been reminding myself that a year ago at this time, Dave & I were still working through questions about if/when we would adopt. A year ago, we didn't know anything about this beautiful little soul who is waiting for us a world away. A year is not a long time in the world of international adoption. But we have been falling in love with her and imagining her in our lives since mid-March now, and these last six months have felt eternal at times. I cannot wait to hear her voice, see her smile, hold her and hug her. I cannot wait for Dave to hold his daughter for the first time, or for the boys to meet this little being who is going to be their sister forever. I cannot wait to know her. . .to know what makes her happy, sad, mad as hell. . .to know what she likes to eat and what she drops on the floor for the dogs . . . to know what she looks like when she's sleeping.

But, wait is exactly what we have to do for now. I mailed a care package to her today. This is the fourth one we've sent her. We sent her a warm blanket and some pajamas for the cool weather, as well as another small toy. I gave the blanket a good squeeze and a kiss before putting it in the box. Just trying to send some extra love her way. Casey helped me pick out some warm socks for her, as we can't imagine letting her little feet be cold. I stuffed the rest of the box full of goodies for the older children at her orphanage, too, as I'm sure there are many who don't know the joy of receiving gifts from a waiting family. I included 18 boxes of Crayola crayons and a huge bag of lollipops. I alway enclose a letter which I translate into Chinese using Babel Fish. I have had one of my Chinese students proof-read letters in the past, but I forgot to do that last night at class, so I am hopeful that the letter I sent wasn't full of grammatical errors, or worse!

Send positive vibes, happy thoughts, prayers---whatever your style is---in our direction as we wait to bring our little girl home.