Monday, May 31, 2010

This is R2's first week out of school, and I've been dreading it, because he doesn't care for the family dynamic so much. In fact, if we would have given him a significant vote, the outcome on siblings might have been entirely different. So I was worried about him being pretty surly and unhappy, especially since both tiny TV/VCR sets recently died from exhaustion and toddler abuse.

To our surprise, he has been pretty happy, even participating in outdoor activities to some extent. That primarily includes sitting on the ground outside the kiddie pool, flinching and getting splashed and finding random things to throw in there and push around, and then getting splashed some more.

Today I took all 3 to Target to buy a smoke detector, so we can be fit parents to a 4th child. I rarely go anywhere with all of them these days, as I have grown weak and they very very strong. We were a pretty jovial bunch, munching on a giant pretzel and commenting enthusiastically on everything as I tried on swimsuits (you gotta do what you gotta do) and requesting pet food and rain boots, whatever.

Since we were there to buy a smoke detector, we also picked up a pair of flip-flops (toby) and a swimsuit (me) and some chips and 3 American flag pinwheels.

They then celebrated through the entire store, a patriotic menace to society with spinning pinwheels held aloft as I pushed the cart at a moderate pace, them cheering every time someone got a good spin going. I personally got patriotically whacked in the head at least 3 times, but I took it. For America.

R2 was pretty stoked about the pinwheels, and I had to keep reconnecting him to the basket since he would just stop mid-aisle and jump wildly. Then we drove home with the windows open, with 2 out of 3 shrieking with total abandon and LOUDLY correcting me for stopping at red lights and yielding, at all. I had a mental picture as I pushed it past 75 a couple times, just out of respect to the volume, of myself explaining to the hypothetical officer, "There's pinwheels, see? Um..."

It's gonna be a good summer.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Do you ever have the thought that you have no original thoughts? Even that is not an original thought, because here I am thinking of it first. Only not.

This is not the first time I've pondered this. I wrote about it last year, or sometime. On occasion, when I think deeply about a new subject, I want to blog about it and hash it all out on the interwebs and its virtual paper. The problem is, there are a million blogs, with a million people, pondering the same thoughts and probably saying it better. Sometimes that gives me a boost, a sense of belonging in this human community, and sometimes it makes me a little tired, because if they didn't figure it out in 1680, what's to say I will get a good grip on it now?

All that being said, I'm still thinking about it. Thinking about her. No, not that kind of her. I mean the woman who is carrying the child I will parent. My baby's mother. I spent way too much time on angry birthmother blogs in 2007 and 2008, and even though it was really uncomfortable reading for someone who hoped to be an adoptive parent, I think it was good.

For one thing, I don't think adoption is win-win. I think it's necessary sometimes, and it's a wonderful answer to the problem of our foster care systems, but it's not easy. Someone is losing here, in a big way. A mother and a child. I can guarantee you that I will love a child with all my heart, and they will be my child, and I will be their mother, and still, it will not be the same. Maybe I've read too much angst on all this, because I can't be totally carefree and giddy like I'd like to be.

There is a woman. Today, a woman, with a swollen belly and tiny feet kicking her from the inside. Trying to sleep with tiny elbows in her ribs. She will give life, and then she will say goodbye. I can't be totally happy about that, no matter how much I want to hold a little baby, to call him or her my own.

In my most selfish moments, I wish she was awful. I wish she hated being pregnant and she couldn't wait to be rid of a baby, and it won't hurt her at all to let go. Then I snap out of it and I know that is wrong and crazy and of course she loves her baby and of course it will hurt, and someday I can say, "She loved you. She loves you SO much. You are so worth LOVE."

And maybe in a couple of years I will read this and think about how little I knew. And that won't really be that original, either.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tomorrow is R2's last day of 5th grade. Next year he'll be going to middle school. That is very weird, because he is a baby.

I don't feel really emotional about it, because it's just an age thing. What I do feel a little emotional about is the fact that he looks like a kid. Almost even like a preteen. One benefit of having miniature children is that you get to enjoy the baby stage a lot longer. Sometimes too long.

He didn't walk until he was 4, but he looked like a 2 year old, maybe. When I made comments about wishing he could walk, then I'd get the typical "oh soon he will and you will wish he wouldn't and they grow so fast and blah blah blah" and I'd be all snarky in my head like "He's been drinking bottles for FOUR YEARS I think I'm ready for a little growing up now." And then finally, he did walk and he did chew food and it was all miraculous. And I never wished he would stop.

Last week I took him to urgent care because his stomach was sticking out. Imagine my surprise when he weighed in at 44 pounds. That's right. I took my kid to urgent care because he was growing.

Right, so that's where I was going with this. His face doesn't have any baby fat anymore, and his hair is getting a little greasy. I was looking at him last night, and he's a good looking kid, but I just had this flash of his babyhood being over, forever, and he will never be tiny and chubby again.

It gives me this panicky feeling in my gut about Toby and Brynn, like I have to slow this down somehow but it's out of my hands. Sheesh. I need a Snickers, stat.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I'm writing this as I wait for my broccoli to finish steaming. That sounds ├╝ber domestic, as it should, because I am all about the homemaking skills. OR, I bought a rice cooker/veggie steamer at Target for 8 bucks and the novelty has yet to wear thin.

So, this may come a shock to you, but as of a couple of weeks ago, the wee ones were not vaccinated. I decided when Toby was a couple of months old that he was too small to shoot up with multiple diseases, and that carried over to Brynn. So I never got them, although technically I'm not opposed. We tend to lean toward the medical establishment around here, based on all of our children's capability to be housed in a Barbie Corvette at birth. (note: not that we ever TRIED that) We're on the crunchy end of the spectrum with our parenting philosophies, with the breastfeeding on demand and the co-sleeping and the home-schooling and such. But give my kid a fever and I am applying Tylenol.

Anyways. R2's been vaccinated all over the place, and I always planned to start shooting my other kids up with polio and malaria as soon as they were 2 or so and then never got around to it. Adoption paperwork brought it back to mind, so we started.

This is good stuff, you know. You can't get this stuff just anywhere.

Today was the second round of shots, and Toby had really worked himself through the steps. "Okay, so first..." fingers on chin. "First we get the shots and it hurts for a minute. And THEN we get a sticker. And THEN we get ice cream." (repeat ad infinitum) Brynn was totally into it until they brought out the needles and she remembered what exactly a shot was. Then she had quite a bit to say, and it was all very sad.

Then Toby got exempted based on a paperwork snafu, and a very sad kitty whined all the way home about her SHOPS and her BANAIDS make her LEGS hurt and she DON'T WAN A PANDA STICKER ANYMORE.

Fudge popsicles eased her pain. I get that.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Yesterday, a licensed professional social worker came to our house to determine, among other things, the safety of our home and our fitness to parent. This is the kind of thing that causes me to break out in hives and have nightmares, after being reported to CPS once and the police once. (I was planning on linking to those stories for humor purposes, but I can't find it in the archives...)

Anyways, she came and interviewed us and looked at the house, and amazingly, we passed the inspection. So we might have a baby in a month. GASP. Yeah, looks like it's going to move pretty quick.

During the interview yesterday, she asked Toby which book was his favorite. He thought about it for a second, and then said, "Well, I like them all..." I had this flash of me saying that, a thousand times, of my dad sweeping his arm across a wall of books. It was such a sweet moment of connectedness, of heritage that it stopped me in my tracks for a second.

I was thinking today about the new baby, whoever he or she is, and how a lot of who they are will be genetic, and not my genetics. If they are musical, or athletic, or brilliant, we can't claim that trait as "ours". That will be an adjustment. It's food for thought. How much of who we are is hereditary, and how much is learned or taught? Am I funny because my family is funny, or am I funny because my DNA has some kind of humor gene?

I know there are things that can be taught and passed down, that we will "look" like each other in the ways that count, and I look forward to celebrating whoever this baby is. Just percolating in the ol' mental cavity here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

So maybe you're sick of hearing about our adoption. Hey, grow a heart! (smirk) Now, I will talk about it some more. Mostly about our banquet/bbq/fundraiser.

I am so excited about this event! I hate to even charge a ticket price, but, uh, it's a fundraiser so I have to. Tickets start at $25 but you can pay more than that if you want to- it's going toward a great cause. Adoption costs vary, based on the specific agency or baby, but we know it could cost $25,000.00 by the time we're done.

That night there will be a barbecue dinner and entertainment- Leah Nelson will dance and there will some unplugged Radiants, and more! We will also be holding a silent auction - if you have a business or some service you'd like to contribute, please get in touch with me or Julie Davis.

I'm considering doing a webstream from part of the night as well, we'll see if that works out.

this flyer was designed by Josh Brown and I LOVE it. You should hire him for any of your graphic design needs, because he rocks. 

I designed this page, so don't blame Josh :)

I know $25 for dinner is a lot, I live here in the real world. I'm going to quote my friend Tracie, here and say, "You're not here for a good deal." We're here, banding together, to help a baby. We're putting our money where our mouth is and getting something done. 

I want you all at this party, because a) parties aren't that fun by oneself and b) your ticket cost helps a baby that might otherwise not be helped. So, join with me! Tighten your belt a notch and skip some Starbucks or McDonald's, or for those of you looking scornfully at this page, WHOLE FOODS and chip in! 
Oh, and our homestudy visit is today at 3. Woot!

Friday, May 21, 2010

I'm in the process right now of compiling pictures for our adoption profile. The profile is a book that is a picture of our lives... in 10 pages or so. It's supposed to give a good glimpse into what kind of family an expectant mother might be releasing her baby into. (Grammar nazis- away!)

Our friend and adoption consultant, Tracie, is going to put together the profile, and so she sent a list of what kind of pictures she needs. Stuff like, 4 pictures of you and your spouse with kids, 10 pictures of you alone, 8 pictures of extended family, etc. Where I'm getting tripped up is the pictures of me alone. These are supposed to be a snapshot (ha ha) of me. So, for example, if I had a hobby, it should be pictured, or just basic stuff like, me cooking, or, you know, sewing, or healing wounded birds or what have you. 

But no. No, I don't have any pictures of that. What I have are pictures of me, eating. A variety. I eat with blonde hair! I eat with red hair! I eat in the summer, and in the winter. 

Dear Expectant Parents,
If you want a home for your child where the mother is a food lover, have we got the family for you. This woman can throw down. She will eat just about anything, and while she is eating, she will smile cheerily, for the moment to be captured for all posterity. Does she clean? Cook? Go outdoors? Stand up? We may never know, but she definitely, definitely eats. So rest assured. 

Also, sometimes her husband wears wigs. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Toddlers are amazing in their creativity. Couple of days ago, I was closing the door to Toby's room for "quiet" time and he was working some last minute negotiations. Finally, he blurts out, "Wait, wait!!" It sounded pretty urgent, so I stopped. "Do you have any fried chicken?" he says. I'm not gonna lie to you. I laughed in his little face. Then, I said I didn't have any and went away. Then I thought about fried chicken for a while.

And they're creative with their art. I have a collection of heavily painted pages hanging up in my kitchen. They are bright and eccentric and definitely abstract. I oughta frame them and start an Ebay business.

Where they are the most creative, though, is mischief. Give a kid a marker and a piece of paper, and you'll get some large random swirls, maybe a smiley face. 15 minutes, tops. Give an unattended kid a marker and they will spend untold amounts of time covering whole walls with art. They will amaze you with how high they can draw on a wall, how completely they can cover a hardwood floor, how effortlessly they can paint themselves to look like somebody hanging out on 6th Street in Austin.

Or say, leave some random foodstuff out. They will find a chair, dragging it across the house into the kitchen, climb on top of the counter, retrieve the chosen food and then drop it to the ground, where they will settle in with curious siblings and ants and eat their fill before some alarmed adult happens upon them and ruins the fun.

I have developed a little bit of a sixth sense about detecting potential pitfalls. I see knives left on a cutting board. I think, not of blood and guts, but more likely, shredded drum heads and carved couches. I see a permanent marker, in a SAFE INSIDE A LOCKED ROOM and I see the end of the age, the apocalypse, the desecration of the temple, you name it. There are few evils larger than a Sharpie in the wrong hands.

Some day, my bad, brilliant little children will be doing genius things for Jesus. Until then, I will not sleep. Mmm... fried chicken.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I want to tell y'all about a little guy that could use your prayers. His name is Levi Brett, and he's 18 months old. A couple of days ago he was diagnosed with Wilms tumors on his kidneys. He has begun chemotherapy and is home as of yesterday. We know Levi's family personally, and they are amazing parents.

If you live in Montgomery County, there is a website organizing the meals, so let me know if you want that info, because I don't want to put the login information out here on the world wide webs.

There are also multiple fundraisers being planned, with the first one being this Thursday at Pump-it-Up in The Woodlands.

You can get all the details of the fundraisers and more, as well as a Paypal account to make donations at

Monday, May 17, 2010

On another note, I will be talking more about how you can help the family of Levi Brett in upcoming days-  stay tuned. I was writing that blog today, but I want to have some more specifics yet to direct you.

All right, y'all. If you came looking for your weekly adoption update, you came to the right place! If you came looking for amusing anecdotes from a mother of toddlers, you have 4 years of archives to weed through. That should keep you busy for a while! If you came for something else, I don't know if I can help you or not until you use your words.

So, adopting and whatnot. Our homestudy is one week from today. I may or may not be panicking a little about kids, and rooms, and beds, and broken mini-blinds and such. The awesome news is, we were given $450 last week, which pays for the first half of the homestudy. Amazing.

We still need multiple thousands of dollars, so if you have a few grand laying around blocking your view, just click here and send it away. Our next goal will be the remainder of the homestudy fee, which could range from $600-800, and will be due when we finish our homestudy, which will be in June or July, probably.

If you are lucky enough to be a Texan, thank the Keeper of the Stars. But also, get ready! We'll be doing a fundraiser dinner at a location to be decided (somewhere in Montgomery Cty) on June 12th.  Dinner will be served and Leah Nelson of TrEd will be dancing, plus maybe some other special guests. Invites will be mailed and we'll be selling tickets and then doing a silent auction. Julie Davis is the Southern coordinator of this event, and I will be the Midwestern Panic Department Coordinator.

If you want to give, or be invited, or donate some good or service to the auction, lemme know and I will hook you up.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Last night I put Toby to bed and then dyed my hair while he stood there asking me questions. It confuses me, too, how these things happen.

It all starts with him really, really needing to go to the bathroom right after he goes to bed. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I don't mess around with potty needs- I will fall for a potty bluff 1000 times before I will let a kid pee in their bed. Unless they have a diaper, in which case I might ignore them calling out I wanna go peepee on the ducky potty at TOP volume after 9 pm, when I have settled in with my overcooked chicken breast and rice and I am watching the Hulu.

Motherhood is a strange dichotomy of selflessness and selfishness. It comes naturally to think of them first, like when I'm given "fun money" to spend and all I can find is kid clothes, or when they're hungry, and I'm hungry, so they eat. I used to hate seeing moms still wandering around the kitchen while we youngsters scarfed all the food, and now I are one.

I think self-preservation kicks in when I get really overwhelmed or tired, and it allows me to be selfish. Selfish enough to do things like walk away from a kid who is screaming to be taken along to the grocery store, or to make a kid stay in his room for 2 hours even though he doesn't take naps anymore. If I wasn't living my life, that might sound cruel. It is undeniable, though, here in my skin, that I am a better parent when I make those kind of "selfish" decisions.

When I come back from the store, or I release the captives from naptime, or I sit alone in my room in a quiet house at 9 pm, I am refreshed. That moment of silence reminds me of who I am, and then I can take a deep breath and be present for the kids I love so much. I try to let them apply the same ideas, to have a quiet space if they want it, away from the siblings, or to have a "special toy" that doesn't have to be shared, even if the rest of the toys belong to everyone.

I hope that it's working. I hope that I am raising little people who understand that there are boundaries in life, that keep us centered and safe, and that it's always okay to take a second and breathe a little, to be your own as well as part of a whole.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Last week I turned in our adoption application. Now, when I say application, maybe you're thinking about a front-and-back page from Gap, wanting to know if you are a felon and what hours you can work. If so, stop thinking about that. I'm talking here.

The adoption application was actually 5 packets, with multiple documents each. The Gap application page, which was not actually for Gap, but the one with our names and addresses and felony charges and income and such; and then multitudinous other documents, which I'll talk about a little, since maybe you're thinking about adopting someday.

There were multiple release/waivers and an interracial questionnaire, which was several pages of essay style questions about raising a child of another race, copies of birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, licenses, insurance documentation, copies of tax returns, background checks for Texas and Missouri, fingerprints for Missouri and the FBI, a 15ish page self-study, where we talked about our families and our childhoods and some of our parenting philosophy, and medical and school reports. Gathering all this took me about 3 months, which probably could have been slightly quicker if I were an organized person, but still- not bad. All of this documentation will become part of our home study, which is the larger study and report required by the state for anyone wanting to adopt.

For medical visits, some forms and fingerprinting, I think I spent around $400. Then, when I turned in the application, I paid another $1750, which is the app fee, part of our program fee, and a profile fee. The profile is our personal portfolio-type package, which is a bio about our family and our home that will be presented to couples or women considering placing their babies for adoption.

If you're thinking about adopting, understand that all that text up there was a little tedious to collect, but not really that big of a deal. Maybe the home study's gonna kick my butt, but so far this is easier than I expected.

Next step- May 24th is the first of 3 home study visits. This one will be at our house, which you better believe will be clean (by then). I'll need to write a $600 check at that visit, and then somewhere from $6-800 in a few months when the home study is done. So far we have a little over $200 toward the first $600. If you want to donate, the link is over there on the sidebar, or message me for a mailing address if you'd rather donate old-school style.

Another thing: I am thinking of other ways to fundraise. One thing people are doing is designing t-shirts and selling them as fundraisers. Other people are doing all manner of crafty things, which is not my strong suit- help me brainstorm. What would be appealing to you to buy and donate for? Hit me.
Don't really hit me. Just tell me some ideas.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sometimes, I'm feeling something, and when I check my blog archives, I find I felt that way before. I am a forgetful and predictable creature.

Anyway, Mother's Day is a hard day, sometimes. Yearly, if my archives are correct. I said it better in 2008, so I'll just paste that entry. Only now, my boys would be almost 6.

Yesterday was a tough day.
Sometimes, I'm tempted to think that I will get "over" my lost children. (dead is such a cold word)
It's been almost 4 years and I never really knew them, surely they will fade from me. 
But in my mind, they grow. In this phantom-land, this in-between heaven and earth, there are shadow boys. 
There, they are almost 4. 
I might go a month, without thinking about them, then Toby finds his tongue, and walks around with his finger on it, saying, "Wud thatsh?" And 2 shadow boys are laughing, because they would have done that last year. 
Then it's mother's day, and all my living children are too small to understand... there are no mugs with photos, no crudely painted drawings, no construction paper cards. Not yet. But in that other world, there would have been, this year. There would have been 5 underfoot, instead of 3. 
And I, entirely human, am trapped between the beautiful now, the aching past, and the longing for the future, when shadows become reality.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Today, I took Brynn out to run errands for more than one hour. That, in itself, is unremarkable. I have always made my kids endure lengthy grocery shopping trips and such. What was different was- this trip was DIAPERLESS. As in, the child wore underpants.

I've told you before, but I am pretty laid back. I figure kids are pretty smart, and they usually figure out that dirt doesn't taste good, or that it hurts when they "fly" off the couch, and so on. Really, when they learn it that way, it means a lot more than just my party-pooper warnings. All that to say: I am not so easygoing when it comes to bodily fluids. I hover like a Woodlands mommy.

"Brynn. Brynn? Sweetie? How you doin? Do you want to go to the big girl potty??!!"
"No. "
"Okay, then." pause... "But... it's real FUN in there. Big girls love the potty."
"No. The dog don't wanna go potty. The dog wanna play her game."
10 minutes later
"Um, Dog? Baby Princess Dog? Do you want to go pee-pee in the potty and get candy??"
"I not Dog. I giant panda." (scornfully)

I convince her to use the potty multiple times a day, with success every time and no daytime accidents. I just am having a hard time not asking. Maybe soon.

Today, we went to Walmart. She was mostly interested in holding all of the groceries. As in, not letting them go in the back of the basket. We lost the MOG to boredom somewhere between the coffee and produce, and that is when she decided she needed to go potty. On her own. I called Richy's cell and told him to come back and get Toby and the groceries so I could take her. He strolled casually back to us by way of Galveston, and eventually got there.

I was panicking a little, watching for signs of the pee-pee dance and cheerfully urging her to wait a minute. We booked it to the front restroom, where she asked questions about every wall and soap dispenser and tried to sit in the baby seat and then finally sat down and didn't really have to go. Still, kind of a win. Man, I'm exhausted. Woodlands mommies, you have my sympathies.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Today we saw the developmental and behavioral specialist again. Lemme refresh your memory. R2, our special needs 10 year old, has violent rages when he's not being angelic. Those are pretty much the 2 options. So we saw a psychologist last month and they sent us home with a spreadsheet. I'll let that sit for a minute, for humor purposes.

Seriously, though, they wanted us to chart his fits and try to find some patterns and such. The only pattern I charted the first two weeks was his ability to NOT do something expected. Zero fits. Textbook. Then, the last two weeks, he used up all that stored tantrum with a couple of doozies. One fit lasted 55 minutes, with toddlers screaming outside the bedroom door and peeing on the floor in the hallway and dropping bowls of macaroni across the kitchen while R2 screamed. I used my webcam to tape that one and took the video with me today to the clinic.

The psychologist is young. Maybe younger than me. Last time, the supervising psych was in there, too, but today we just had the younger one. Sometimes, I feel like telling these nervous younger docs what to do. Eventually, she had some helpful ideas for helping R2 communicate, and then after we watched the videos of the fits, she said I was amazing and very patient.

There's something very healing about being honored by doctors and teachers. I think most parents of special needs kids are constantly second-guessing themselves and trying to make the best of a complicated situation, and there is always ignorance and implied (as well as direct) criticism. So when someone who sees a lot of these kids and knows how hard it can be says you're doing a good job, it means a ton.

I asked about a straitjacket, but no go. So, 2 visits down and no tranquilizer darts or straitjackets. What are these people doing, anyway?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I went to the doctor today. Since I am one of many Americans who choose to be uninsured, we just went to a walk-in clinic. I have some kind of bronchial/sinus thingy, and that's straight from the doc, y'all. I also have cough syrup with codeine and antibiotics. I should start feeling better in 7-10 business days, excluding holidays.

I feel awful. Like coughing until my guts explode raging headache achy bones awful. You know what, though? We finished our first round of adoption paperwork, and I dragged my diseased body up to the Hannah's Dream office and dropped it off. I also coughed a LOT in there, hope that doesn't show up in my paperwork. "Mom is in good spirits but appears to have terminal tuberculosis."

So now, we wait for our home study visit, which is one of three home study interviews. As soon as my spirit returns to my mortal body, I need to clean this place, and put batteries in smoke detectors and get rid of the viper pit and such. We have lots of money left to raise if you wanted to get in on that. Oh Lordy. The coughing.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Three items of some interest today:

one: I gave up on potty-training Brynn and then half-heartedly picked it back up last week, and found to my great shock that she's totally into it. As in, not having any accidents during the day kind of into it. Now that I have told you this, she will probably totally regress and pee on everything.

two: I am near death. Or at least, I have a cold. I have coughed all night for 3 days, and if I drink any more chai tea with honey, I will be captured by Indian bees and taken away to be their queen. I am requesting that the MOG buy multiple varieties of cough-suppressing and sleep-inducing drugs, and that request should clear my cold right up before I actually ingest any of the pharmaceuticals.

And C: I have completed all of our adoption application documents. If the MOG can complete his 12 page self-study tonight, then I will turn all that in tomorrow along with money and such, and then after something... some kind of review or something, we will begin our homestudy. I'm going to start up again with the fundraising at that point, so get ready!
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