Sunday, November 29, 2009

If I could bottle this . . .

(see Casey in the lower right hand corner in the forest above?)

. . .I'd put a little bottle of it in each of their backpacks every morning so that when they feel the stresses of being a kid (and it is stressful for them, no matter what we grown-ups want to think), they could take a drink from the magic bottle and feel the way they felt when the pictures were taken. Hiking with the family, making a new friend, or even getting blown by the leaf blower--these are the things that bring those kinds of smiles to my beautiful kiddos' faces.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

In the spirit of Thanksgiving. . .

Thank you, Dave, for still loving me after almost 13 years of the good, the bad, and the ugly. We make a good team, and although we aren't exactly living a calm existence at the present time, there is no one I'd rather weather the storms with!

Thank you, Keller, for being the guy who can bring laughter to our house under just about any circumstances. Your unquenchable thirst for knowledge and general zest for life make me a better mom. I simply cannot wait to see the ways you will change the world as you grow up.

Thank you, Casey, for being the sweetest, most romantic little boy ever to love his mama. You will probably never know how much it fills my heart to have you tell everyone that you're planning to marry me (in "Yew Nork") when you're old enough. Whoever you choose to bestow that honor on when you are older is going to have a very jealous mother-in-law.

Thank you, Marley, for coming into our family and loving us so easily and completely. Your little life has not been easy and we wouldn't have blamed you if you weren't so sure about us. But, your eyes just sparkle when you look at those naughty brothers of yours, and the way you melt into our arms for hugs and kisses melts our hearts.

Put together each piece of our family and you end up with a truly thankful mom/wife.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hope and Joy Campaign

Early in our adoption journey (like back in the days when I was ready to hop on a plane to wherever to bring home a kiddo and Dave was ready to hop on a plane and fly away from my persistant nagging!), I made an on-line friend named Kelly. She lives nearby (Baltimore area) and although I've never had the chance to meet her in person, I am constantly in awe of her dedication to orphaned kiddos. She has two beautiful biological daughters who are older, and has added four amazing kids to her family through China Special Needs adoption programs. Her most recent addition, Brighton, is a living testimony of how a family can change a child's life and future. Brighton is deaf, had an unrepaired club foot, and several other special needs. Kelly and her husband brought her home from China a few months ago and it has been amazing to watch (on line) her transformation. She is a beautiful, smiley little doll who is getting all of the medical and educational attention she so deserves.

Kelly and her family have recently submitted their Letters of Intent to China to bring home two more children, who they will name Samantha HOPE and Piper JOY. Samantha Hope is almost 14 years old, which is the age at which orphans in China become unavailable for international adoption. They have just 4 months to zip through the adoption process and raise enough money to bring her home before she ages out. Piper Joy has limited use of her hands and has unrepaired club feet. A child in the US who has club feet would typically begin receiving corrective treatments at two weeks of birth.Can you imagine being 11 years old and never having the opportunity to live with a family that can help meet your needs?

Kelly and Bill are asking for help to raise the approximately $30,000 that it will cost them to bring both of these girls home to their family. Please visit their blog at: Donate $1 and spread the word about what they are doing. It's just one dollar and you can drop it in the mail to them. This is a great opportunity for parents to introduce their children to giving--$1 from an allowance and your kids will know that they contributed to bringing home two beautiful girls.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A day in the life . . .

I thought it might be fun to give my faithful readers a glimpse into my glamorous daily life. I also thought it might garner sympathy, and perhaps a warehouse full of anti-depressants. Or at least a few 'get out of jail free' cards for when I flake on something. So here goes. . .

7:10am Wake up to the sound of Marley standing in her crib, yelling in her most pissed-off speech-delayed voice "Enh. Eeeennnnnhhhhh. EEEEENNNNNNHHHHH!!!" I say, "Say 'Mama' and I'll be happy to come get you out of there." She says "Mama, EEEENNNNNNNHHHHHHHH." I lied about the 'happy to get your out of there part.' I'm not a morning person and this is the first time since the time change that she has slept past 6:00am. I was hoping for more like 7:30 or 7:45. But 7:10 it was.

7:10-8:50am Do all of the things that I have to do every morning to get three kids ready. Breakfast, vitamins, clothes, socks, shoes, brush teeth, brush hair, lunches in school bags, check whiteboard calendar (a.k.a. my so-far-successful attempt to keep track of stuff) to make sure I haven't missed anything.

8:50am Realize that while all three kids are ready to walk out the door, I'm in pajamas, haven't brushed my teeth, my coffee is cold and my gym bag is not ready to go.

8:50-8:55am Run around like a nut.

9:00am Drop Keller off at school. Give him a kiss and a friendly reminder to "have a good day and be a good listener."

9:05am Park by Marley's school and begin the walk to meet her teacher at the door. This is usually the time Marley decides that rather than being glued to me like velcro as she insists at home, she wants to run down the sidewalk and refuse to hold my hand. Today was no exception. Casey lags behind (as usual), this time complaining of a pain in his toe. I ignore him, cajole him, bribe him--just to get across the street and onto the sidewalk in front of the school. I finally stop, have him and Marley sit down on the sidewalk, and inspect his shoe. This shoe, which he has been wearing since July, has suddenly sprung something pointy and sharp aimed directly at the end of his big toe. It feels like a tack. What it is, we'll never know. I'm so annoyed by now that the shoes are going to hit the nearest dumpster. As I'm checking Casey's shoe, Marley gets up and runs away, but of course not in the direction of the school. Chase Marley, carry her under my arm like a football and finally deliver her to her teacher.

9:15am Drive home to get Casey a different pair of shoes (thank goodness Marley's school is only 1/2 mile from home). Argue with him about how a piece of Halloween candy does not consitute a snack. Give him a fruit roll instead and off we go.

9:25am Stop at UPS store to make copies of Marley's private speech evaluation and Keller's IQ assessment. Decide not to take Marley's eval to her school because the special ed teacher in me worries that the speech teacher at her school will cut and paste rather than doing the evaluation that she is required to do (and has been dragging her feet on). We want everything we're entitled to for this kiddo, including a thorough eval. Take Keller's paperwork to his school. While in the office, Casey turns off the little TV where they have photos of students cycling in a slideshow. When I try to turn it back on, he unleashes a tantrum in his typical "I can do it myself, damn it. . . but oh, can you show me how first?" style. Grin and bear it when the secretary makes a joke about yesterday's occurence--Keller got in the car after school very upset that he had left his coat on the playground. I parked the car, searched the playground and lost & found with him. Visited the office, then the classroom in search of the missing coat. . . which was, of course, stuffed in his backpack, in the van. Yeesh.

9:50am Arrive at gym for some solitude and stress relief. Spend the entire 30 minutes on the treadmill and 20 minutes on the bike engrossed in a book called "Born to be Wild: Freeing the Spirit of the Hyperactive Child." Laugh, and then worry, about all of the similarities between the child in the book and my own 'hyperkinetic gifted child.'

11:10am Pick Casey up from the child center at the gym and listen to the third degree about why it took me so long. Sorry, Casey--I wanted to actually dry my hair after my shower. Treat him to some harvest cheddar Sun Chips and a V8 Fusion while I nibble some healthy kibble. Or at least it tasted like Kibble. Not that I know--although there was one time when I was a kid when I accidentally ate a dog treat (hey, it looked like a Hershey kiss. How was I to know?) Anyway, try to stay 'in the moment' while having this little date with Casey. Listen to him ramble on about playing chase. . .zone out, attempt to nod at appropriate times and say, "Really? Wow, buddy" periodically.

12:30pm Pick Marley up at school. Go through our daily ordeal of having her sit her tiny butt down on the sidewalk and refuse to walk. Listen to the teacher sweetly comment that "Oh, she's never contrary like that in school" while gritting my teeth and trying to figure out how to deal with this on-going drama (or how to convince Dave to pick her up every day instead). Bend down to talk to her on her level, only to have Casey jump on my back repeatedly in a middle-child effort to gain my attention. I was a middle child. I know his motives. Walk/drag/carry Marley to the van, which involves a few smacks in the face (from her) and a whole lot of "EEEENNNNNHHHHHH"-ing.

12:50pm Go home to feed Casey and I lunch. Watch, dumbstruck, as Dave fulfills Casey's request for a hot dog wrapped in bacon. Pork wrapped in pork. That's just. . . porked up. Slurp down the broth from last night's yummy slow cooker turkey chowder (Dave 'somehow' managed to get all of the turkey and veggies out of the leftovers in his bowl).

1:05pm Call the provider for Marley's summer speech services to bitch about the error they made in billing our insurance. Have them admit to the error, but say they can't reverse the claims. Dream up all of the things I'm going to say to them when I have more time and don't have a screaming toddler following me around the house.

1:40pm Leave for Marley's private speech therapy appointment. Casey just loves being dragged along for these (dripping with sarcasm here) so I pack him a nice bag of fun stuff we can do in the waiting room. Oblige his begging to watch a DVD in the van (it's a 25 minute drive, after all) and listen to the Veggie Tales "Big River Rescue" for the 10th time in two weeks. Marley fusses and cries most of the way there.

2:05pm Arrive at the speech therapy center. As Casey 'carefully' whisks his backpack of entertainment from the front seat, he knocks over my cold coffee travel mug and spills it on my 'Intro to Buddhism' book and the two clean diapers I had for the trip. Clean it up the best I can with wipes. Hear the sound of Casey spitting one of my mints onto the car floor. Pick up the remnant and put it inside one of the coffee-soaked diapers. Walk in with the kids, get a whiff of something rotten and realize the reason Marley has been fussing is because she had a little poo in ye ole pants.

2:10pm Rationalize that the coffee is mostly on the outside of one of the diapers, so it is still good enough for this emergency situation. Change Marley's pants and see that she has a ferocious diaper rash starting up. No wonder she was fussing. Poor thing. Still doesn't erase the memory of her whining and Casey yelling for me to turn up the volume during the whole drive to speech, but makes me feel a little less agitated about it.

2:15pm Hand Marley over to her very sweet speech therapist and spend the next 45 minutes making a Bendaroos boat with Casey (while simultaneously thinking of the 15million things I need to get done today).

3:00pm Talk to Marley's SLP about her session, while watching Marley stand in the corner and poop her pants.

3:05pm Go back out to the car for a diaper and realize the only one I have left has coffee on the outside and a half-eaten Altoid on the inside. With no other option, take it back into the speech center to use to get home. Decide that lining the diaper with a clean wipe will somehow negate the coffee and Altoid issue.

3:10pm Listen to Marley cry and sign "cold" over and over because of the freezing cold wipe now held tightly to her butt by an abused diaper. Decide it's best to just let her go 'commando' for the 25 minute ride home and hope for the best.

3:35pm Arrive home. Run in the house to hand Marley off to Dave for diapering and nap time. Turn around and drive to Keller's school to sit in carpool line for an absurd amount of time. Read more of "Born to be Wild" in preparation for Keller's daily self-inflicted confessional on the car ride home from school. Decide to make a 'quick' trip to Target to get 'a few things' rather than go home and dive straight into home work and keeping boys quiet for Marley's nap.

4:05pm Enter Target. Promptly forget where I've parked, which will not occur to me until exiting the store 70 minutes later and $107 poorer. Deal with rowdy boys who think that being dragged on an errand automatically assures them a toy, book, or reward of some type. Shop for work-out pants to replace my fading black pairs. Buy three different pairs to try on at home--no way I can enter the dressing room with the boys. Last time, Casey asked me why my belly was bigger 'at the top', by my 'dimples' (aka nipples). Boobs, kid. They're called boobs. I may not have much, but it certainly not just a high part of my stomach, ok?? Anyway, move on to the food aisle to find the all-natural fruit snacks that no one else carries and surprise, surprise. Target doesn't have them anymore either. Argue with kids about why we eat Kashi rather than Lucky Charms and refuse to buckle under their pressure.

5:30pm Arrive home and sit down for homework with Keller. Fight the urge to grab a brew out of the fridge due to the fear that he will someday remember me as the mom who drank beer while he did homework. Hear Marley wake up from her nap and know that there will be no reprieve until bedtime.

6:00pm Start preparing a yummy Weight Watchers dinner which I know the kids will refuse to eat. It contains vegetables and spinach fettucini--green stuff. But the chicken should pass muster. Provide moral support to Dave as he tries to entertain all three kids with bikes, scooters, and basketballs in the garage. We hate cold weather and dark evenings. Our kids live for being out in the yard, down on the trail, or otherwise wreaking havoc on the neighborhood. The time change has hit all of us hard and we have found that backing the van out and letting the kids blow off some steam in the garage is a good temporary solution.

6:45pm Sit down to dinner. Have Marley (who is usually our best eater) reject everything I offer her. Have Casey do his usually daily routine of yelling "Ewww, I don't like that" the second he lays eyes on whatever I've made for dinner. Dave to the rescue with some ranch dressing to dip Casey's chicken, and he's good to go. Enjoy three yummy spritzers of white wine with Acai berry juice. Mmmm Hmmmmm. Takes the edge off, for sure.

7:15 Send Casey for a bath. He's the one out of our three kids who is chronically, disgustingly dirty. Today he actually had cheddar cheese finger prints on the butt seam of his sweat pants from digging at his bum after having Sun Chips. His fingernails are always dirty, he usually has snot in his eye brows. He's just a cruddy, crusty kid who requires a bath every night. We have a rule against Keller and Casey getting in the tub together. They flood the bathroom, among other obnoxious behavior. Enter the bathroom to tell Casey that the tub is probably filled enough. Find Keller, naked, pooping on the toilet. Ask why he's naked and get the obvious response "I need to be the lifeguard for Casey's bath." Oh, of course. Silly me.

7:30pm Start this blog post. Deal with constant interruptions despite turning on 'The Penguins of Madagascar' for my 'deserving' kids.

I'm sure I missed many tidbits of my day. But you get the picture. This is how life is with my three kids. Anyone who thinks that stay-at-home-moms have it easy can choose to 1) Fill in for me for a day or 2) Kiss my butt. After all, giving choices is a part of effective parenting, right?