Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This kid is a genius!















You know I'm always looking for an opportunity to brag about my fabulous kids! But tonight even I was stunned...at what an incredible genius my little Carloline is...


Today when I (and Sam and Emma) picked Caroline and Jack up from school, everyone was starving! And since Jud was out of town...I made and executive decision...McDonald's!


So, we're in Mcy D's , we have our food and our huge booth to accommodate our brood and while I'm divvying up the happy meals, suddenly all four kids start yelling, and I mean yelling! (and jumping and pointing!)

BARACK OBAMA! BARACK OBAMA! LOOK IT'S OBAMA!

I looked up and yes, there was Obama on the TV (When did McDonald's get TV's?) So, I acknowledge, yes, there's Obama. Meanwhile a heard of 70 year olds from the surrounding booths are now staring at us even more than before... trying to listen in...(we are in a McDonald's at 4:45 after all!)

Regardless of the crowd...the kids go on to enjoy their nuggets! And I go on to clean up all of the Carmel that Emma has gotten onto everyone..and every surface in our vicinity!


While Caroline goes on to explain politics to Jack! It was really pretty funny!

I'd do a quote by quote...but when Caroline talks...Jack just listens... so instead, this is what Caroline said...


"We like Obama because he wants to make the changes that we want...but mommy thinks the girl is OK because she'll make some of the changes, but McCain (which got a Haamen response!) is really no good "


FYI -Haamen is a Jewish reference (definately a "bad guy" and upon hearing the name everyone boo's!)


And yes, the 70 year olds did look at us more intensely...a few whispers...and even a few head shakes!


But really, even if you don't agree with my, or I guess, now , our politics, I think you'll find this interesting!


As we settle into our scrumptious dinner, the footage of Obama continues...I notice Caroline watching the TV...watching Obama...and then she says...


"Mommy, Obama really reminds me of that other black man who stood up for people's rights...when nobody else would...a long time ago"


"Do you mean Martin Luther King?" I ask her


and then she says, "Yes! Obama really reminds me of Martin Luther King...maybe that's why I like him so much!"



Need I remind you...she's only seven!


Seriously! I think that she is already smarter than I was in high school!



The little genius went on to read stories tonight...they each get to pick one book... and then decide who gets to read it..by unanimous vote...Caroline over mommy - 100% of the time! Caroline's reading is really unbelievable! And as long as I'm bragging...she is a Math wiz at fractions, a natural pianist, a true problem solver, and the sweetest big sister!

Whew! I guess that's enough bragging for now!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

An end to my pity party!

Friday night I went to bed early...I've been so stressed and tired lately, so soon after the kids were down...so was I. But as I laid in my bed pouting about how hard my life was...and how difficult this whole process has been on me...(yes, I'm a tad emotional lately) I got a call from my amazing friend Kathy...which seems to have ended my pity-party!

A little background...

Kathy and I met, kind of as a set up...My sister and her sister-in-law were friends (out of town) ...they realized that Kathy and I lived close to each other...and thought we'd be good friends...thus a set up...

Well against all set-up odds, we really did actually hit it off!

At the time, we each only had two kids...stayed at home (and loved it)...

...shortly after we met...I was pregnant...and then so was Kathy...


The friendship continued...between us, and our kids! We all loved the zoo trips, the trip to the state fair, the play dates at the park or at each others houses...and really just anytime we were together!

and then....after a few more months...Cathy was pregnant... again...and we had decided to adopt...



The years have flown by...when we first met we used to watch each other's kids whenever the other had Dr. appts...(obviously OB!!!) or just to get a little break...and our kids always loved playing together..they have all always gotten along so well...(we joke about future marriage potential!)

However, in the last few years it seems like Kathy and I rarely ever see each other... Since we both now have four kids...at different schools, it makes it a little difficult to see other...let alone help each other out.

But we still talk...often.

So anyway...back to present... as I'm feeling sorry for myself laying in bed sulking...(Jud was pedalling away on his bike...)

I got the call from Kathy...

She was calling to let me know that they were back in the hospital. To respect her privacy I won't give details...just that her little guy has a serious medical condition,and recently had major surgery...it definitely wasn't good news that he was back in the hospital...

So here's the thing... the thing that makes me admire and respect Kathy even more than I had before...

She was so strong. Kathy has never been one to complain...about anything. She handles whatever is thrown at her with such dignity and grace. Even coping with a child who has such a serious`condition, which I can only imagine, must be the most difficult thing for a mother to go through, she remains strong.

I don't know how she does it.

She is truly amazing.

I am so lucky to have her as a friend...I hope one day I can be more like her.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Earth Day

To celebrate Earth day, Caroline wanted to go around and look for garbage! So after school we went to the park...She took charge and gave the other kids orders on what to look for! She's quite the little organizer! Watch out Uncle Dave!



















Only a few minutes into the hunt...the other three abandoned the mission and decided the sand was way more fun!
















Caroline stuck with it until her bag was half full, and then she joined the rest on the playground!





















As I look over the pictures from yesterday...I'm stuck on one thing.

looking at these pictures of Jack....check out the hair!






normally his hair looks something like this...notice the dimples!

















A while back, Jack decided that he wanted to grow his hair out like tarzan!

Initially I thought, ok, we'll let him go with it for awhile...assuming he'd get sick of it, because, normally he can't stand it when his hair touches his ears! (future banker perhaps?)

But he's really sticking with it! He no longer wants it as long as tarzan because he's worried he might look like a girl! So, I'm not exactly sure what look he's going for (maybe Troy from High School Musical?) and I'm not sure what to do about it.

It's cute because it's starting to curl in the back, like when he was a baby! And my hippiesh side says it's his hair he should decide how he wants it....but most of the time when he's running around he gets so sweaty and then it just looks gross! So my other, banker's wife side, thinks he needs a haircut!

So any advise is welcome...do I let him decide now..... so he doesn't end up with a green mohawk in a few years! (ha! ha! ha!) or do I pull out the old "well because, I'm the mom and I said so" and insist on a trim?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I'll tell anyone who will listen!

The following is from Erin, one amazing mom, who I must say, I am in constant awe of. I have emailed with her and I follow her blog. (full house, full hands, full hearts) She is constantly doing more and pushing farther to educate people about HIV. Do you know how many people consider adopting a child with HIV but don't because of the stigma and the negative reactions from family and friends? I agree that we could all use a little education...So chances are if you know me you'll get this letter in an email as well! You all know how much I can't stand chain emails...but this is one thing that I think really needs to get out!


Jess






Tell two

Today I have heard from several different parents of HIV+ children who are facing negative reactions to their adoptions based on the stigma and ignorance surrounding HIV. It is extremely frustrating to me that in 2008 there is still so much unfounded fear caused by a lack of education, that results in nasty, ugly and mean treatment of people who are HIV+ and their families.

The reason people in the U.S. are not educated about HIV is that most people don't care, because most people in this country are not affected by it. People still see it as the problem of homosexuals, drug users and people in Africa. The reality is, HIV/AIDS is everyone's problem. It is a devastating problem in Africa and many countries, but there are many, many Americans living with this disease as well. In fact, new cases of HIV in the U.S. are now being seen in the largest numbers in heterosexual women. HIV/AIDS is a HUMAN problem.

Living with this nasty disease is hard enough, but compounding that with the misguided fear and judgment of society is beyond tragic, and as the mom of two HIV+ children, it is sad and frustrating.

So, if you are one of the many who check in to this blog every day, I am asking you to do me a favor. I want you to tell at least two people about HIV. Spread the word that...

- HIV can NOT be spread through causal/household contact. HIV is not spread through hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toys, sneezing, coughing, sharing food, sharing drinks, bathing, swimming or any other causal way. It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles).

- HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long and full lives.

- People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support and acceptance as all people do.

If anyone wants more info on transmission, there is great info on the Center for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/transmission.htm

Help me spread the truth about HIV, and take a tiny stab at the stigma against HIV. Tell your friend when you talk on the phone. Tell your spouse. Tell your parents. Post it on your blog and ask other people to tell their readers. Ask them to pass it on as well. I would love to see this spread beyond the adoption blogs. Do it for me. Do it for the other adoptive families and the HIV+ orphans that are waiting for homes. Do it for Belane and Solomon. Do it for all of the other people on this planet living with HIV. If everyone that reads this blog tells at least two people, that is a whole bunch of people we can reach and a little bit of difference we can make.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Come on PA!

Let's watch this one more time! Emma loves it! Her favorite saying lately is Yes we can! Come on Pennsylvania....YES WE CAN!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Our First Seder!

So, tonight was the first night of Passover. And at the last minute we decided to have our own little Seder! It was great! Hopefully, it's not a faux pas to take pictures...it was just one of those nights I always want to remember!

















For those of you who don't know us very well...I was raised in a big Catholic family and Jud in a smaller Jewish family. When we got married (although not in the church) we planned on raising our family Catholic. Caroline and Jack were both baptized in the Church...and then, just before Sam was born...for a number of reasons, we... well... changed our minds!

The last four years since, have been a huge learning experience for me! I feel like as we are teaching the kids about religion and faith and everything that goes along with it...I am learning too!

So honestly the very idea of putting on a Seder...for me was out of the question... I had only been to one, when Jud and I first started dating...I wasn't prepared to have one of our own. I was secretly hoping we'd be invited to someone else's Seder this year, so we could all learn a little!

However, as things turned out, it was just us! (not surprisingly, considering inviting our family over is like inviting a traveling circus! and who wants a circus at their Seder?) Jud very cleverly crafted a slightly edited version of a traditional Seder...keeping in mind the attention span of his audience! The kids were captivated!



















The night went amazingly well...the kids actually sat and listened to Jud tell the story(I know that is a miracle in and of itself!)...they sampled the food...Caroline read the four questions! It really was a great night of family and togetherness! A wonderful first Seder if I do say so myself!

















The bitter herbs...not a huge hit!















The haroset was definitely Caroline's favorite!















And even though I thought, I had cleverly hidden the Afikoman, Caroline found it within about thirty seconds!















My favorite thing of the whole night was, as the kids where enjoying their reward for returning the Afikoman...Jud asked who they thought the "hero of the story was"

Jack replied, "God! Because he parted the sea...and dropped it on all the bad the guys!" This was his favorite part of whole story!



Caroine's reply was "Miriam, because she saved her little brother Moses, by letting him go...even if it meant he'd live with another family."


Caroline's response, of course struck me...and gave us the opportunity to talk to them (mostly caroline) about the heroism and braveness it took for Emma's birth family, and the next 'little one's' birth family to make that same decision... to give the child to another family...in order to save them...and give them a chance at a better life... A decision we are grateful for!



And as for poor little Em...she has gotten a nasty cold and spent most of the night on my lap!

Friday, April 18, 2008

You've gotta love Bono!

This is a video clip of Bono's acceptance speech at the NAACP awards last year. The picture is pretty grainy and dark but the message is loud and clear!




It's getting Real...

Well, I think we are in the final leg...of our adoption journey...We have gotten word that our home study was approved! (Yeah!) Sooo... now we have the next...oh I don't know, 40 pages or so of paperwork to complete! notarize...double notarize...have the seal of the secretary of state(?)

I was so excited when I saw the email...and then as I looked it over...page after page...after page...I started to panic!

Why?

Partly because, I don't "get" much of the formalities...the paperwork...the wording...the notaries...Quite honestly it was a bit over my head...

Once again, Jud to the rescue...he calmly assured me, we've figured it out before, we'll figure it out again. We're hoping to get everything wrapped up this weekend! We're still waiting for our fingerprint date but I'm sure that will be any day now....

I think the other reason for my sudden burst of emotions lately, is because...it is finally getting real.

And now I have to live with that reality.

Now, I know that my child is out there somewhere. And it will be months until he/she is home...

This is the part of the journey that is so difficult...

And to most people...like my family and friends it probably just seems like I'm being an ornery bitch lately! Which, I admit, I have. But not completely without reason.

For people that haven't been through this experience, however supportive they may be, it's not possible for them to really "get it". To get how heavy your heart is. To get the feelings of loss and guilt you experience going through adoption.

I think three years ago when we went through this, I didn't really get it either. I didn't fully understand the range of emotions you can experience one minute to the next...and the toll it takes on you...physically and emotionally.

And because of that, because I wasn't open about the feelings I was experiencing, even to myself...when Emma came home, it hit me like a ton of bricks!

This time though, I hope that I've been handling things a little better. Our agency has a forum for adoptive families, which has been absolutely invaluable to me! There are families in all different phases of their adoption journey who are so open and honest with each other about all of the different aspects that other people simply can't. It's been really helpful to have these forum friends to rely on...to look to for advice...and to listen to their experiences so we can all learn from each other and in the long run, help each other. I am so grateful to all of the families who have shared so openly!

So I guess, I should warn you...this is the part in the blog where I will try to be very honest. I must admit most days I am a basket case already, so I warn you, it won't be pretty! If you can't handle the emotional stuff...this is not the ride for you!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Does anyone know how hard it is to get a picture of four kids?

I've been wanting a picture at the top of the page...but it seems that all of the pictures I have with all four of the kids are from last summer...(or longer!) I have been trying to get a new one for a few weeks now but it never fails...everytime the camara comes out, at least one of them decides they want nothing to do with having their picture taken.

But today, I had an idea! I'd take the picture from behind them, so it didn't matter if one wasn't smiling! My best idea yet!


Oh and have I mentioned that I absolutely love my new camara!








Sunday, April 13, 2008

Good Times!

Lately we've been feeling like we've been burning the candle at both ends!

Jud is crazy busy with work these days! Lots more work and responsibilities which of course means more stress...and more travel...long gone are the salesman hours I so loved! (when he was home by 4 most days and never later 5:30 ) and don't forget the triathlon training! (in all of his spare time!) And me, well...I am beginning to realize just how much Jud helps out around here! Because lately, my job sure has gotten increasingly more difficult!

So, anyway...we decided we needed a little family bonding time this weekend! We took the kids out of school and headed up to a hotel with a water park! The kids had a blast! It was so fun to just be together! For them to just have time to swim and play...no schedule, nowhere to be, nothing we had to get done...just play!
It was wonderful! Here are couple pictures..with my new camera! Yes, Jud luck strikes again and he was able to find an awesome deal on the camera I've been wanting! I'm still figuring it out...As I'm looking at the pictures I can see we have a bit of adjusting to do...but we'll get there. There aren't many pictures of Jack...and the reason is, the kid is fish! Seriously, he loves the water! He puts on a mask, jumps in, and barely comes up for air!



















Emma was a little nervous at first! There was a huge bucket of water above the pool that would fill up with water and every few minutes tip over and soak everyone...it freaked her out! But after a little while she was over it, and was ready to jump in too! She even went down the water slides!
















Everyone was pretty worn out from the day so we headed back to the room...where Emma was doing her best on Daddy to convince him that she didn't need to go to bed! And it worked! Apparently he's a sucker too!

















Then on Saturday, we went to Wild Air to meet some other families in the area that have also adopted from Ethiopia...It was really fun. The kids had a blast! Unfortunately chasing four kids around we didn't get to talk to people a whole lot! But those we did meet were really great! And what beautiful children!

The pictures aren't the greatest...as I still have a lot to figure out with the new camera!


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A visit to the dentist results in tears!

For the past few months Caroline has been very upset because she is the only kid in her class who has not yet lost a tooth...She is in a multi-age room with first and second graders so most of her classmates have lost several...

We finally noticed that she indeed had a few loose teeth too... Oh, the joy! Unfortunately they never got any looser... all the wiggling, the apples, the carrots, they just are not budging...Then one day while I was trying to wiggle them a little more I noticed that the new "grown up teeth" are already poking through behind the "baby teeth"!

So we went to the dentist, he thought the baby teeth would loosen up and come out...that was almost two months ago...so we went back today, with the baby teeth still hanging tight... I was sure he'd pull them, so I tried to prepare Caroline...

So, the dentist took a look (about 45 seconds...)and said, yes they do need to come out...and it looks as though they won't on their own. (Caroline got a huge smile on her face...) then the dentist asked, "when is she out of school?"

I like an idiot said, "like, for the day?"

No stupid girl, for the summer! he told me with just a look.




So the point is...Caroline will have to wait for summer break to loose her first teeth...And that is where the poor little girl burst into tears! She really wanted to go back to school today with two missing teeth!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Another busy weekend....
















With a little help from Caroline...her room is now painted! We're still working on the finishing touches but she has already made a "no stinky boys allowed!" sign for the door! I think she is really enjoying having her own space, though the boys are a little heartbroken every time she says she wants be alone...Yikes! It starts already!



Yesterday was a great day! Jud took the big three to the Brewers game...They had a blast! Didn't see a whole lot of the game...but that was to be expected with Sam! Although he did really enjoy the sausage race!

















With Jud and the "bigs" busy...Emma and I had the day to ourselves! It was really nice. It's hard to get much one on one time with any of the kids these days, so it's always great when it works out. Emma has been very snuggly lately...we took a little rest together, no sleep of course, but lots of cuddles! She was so sweet, when I told her that being her mommy makes me so happy she said being my Emma makes her so happy! I think she's already figured out how to work me! Because she then convinced me that she didn't need a rest, and we should go out to lunch instead! I'm such a sucker!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

One quick thing!

My friend Rebekah and her husband Patrick are in Ethiopia right now picking up their son! She has been posting about the trip so far...you can follow along by clicking
HERE

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

It's finally starting to look a little like Spring!

The snow has melted once again and the sun finally reappeared! Sam and Emma and I took advantage of this first spring-like day by going to the park. We brought the puppies who were so happy to get a little run time. Emma loves to walk Sketcher...She's really very good with him. She calls him Sketchy-boy! It's so darn cute!

I'm not sure who needed the fresh air more, the crazy dogs who've been cooped up all winter....the crazy kids who've been cooped up all winter...or the crazy mommy who feels like she is going to lose her mind if we are all cooped up for one more day!

















It's been so awesome the last few months watching Sam and Emma become little buddies...They play together now and really just like to be around each other! Even though they're over a year apart they're basically the same size! (Em may even be a smidge taller!) My favorite thing about these pictures, is that I didn't even ask them to hold hands! I looked up and saw it! It makes me so happy to see them so close.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Today I am the proudest mom!

It started when I got a call this afternoon from the school guidance counselor.

That's never a good feeling!

Especially when Caroline has been having issues with one little girl all year...let's just call her "mean girl"....

So, the guidance counselor was just giving me a heads up about an incident at school between Caroline and "mean girl" It seems they got into an argument about Caroline's aunts...and if they were married or not...Mean girl was insisting that girls could not marry girls and therefore Caroline was lying! Well, Caroline stuck to her guns and told "mean girl" that her aunts were married...

When I picked Caroline up from school, we obviously talked about it...the conversation went something like this....





Me:

So, Mrs. B. called today...she said that you and "mean girl"were arguing about something today...do you want to talk about it?


Caroline:

Yeah! "mean girl" was telling me that my aunts couldn't be married...and I told her "yeah they were"...and she told me "no, you're a liar" and she was being really mean and yelling at me...but all the other kids said they were on my side and they believed me...and then "mean girl" was really mad!...because she knew she was wrong! (Caroline then let out a little smirk!)

Me:

Well...Actually Boogie...Kristin and Mel aren't married...

Caroline:

(a look of total confusion came over her little face)...Huh?

Me:

Nope...they're not married!

Caroline:

What?

Me:

Well, a lot of people don't understand how a girl and a girl, or a boy and a boy, could love each other like mommy and daddy love each other....and because they don't understand it, they think it is not ok...
...so, most states, like where we live, there are laws that say that Kristin and Mel cannot get married.

Caroline: But they live together?

Me:

Yup...because they love each other, and they have loved each other even longer than mommy and daddy have...

Caroline:

But why do people think they can't get married?

Me:

Well, lots of Churches believe it's wrong for girls to love girls...so, people have made laws to keep them from getting married...

Caroline:

Well, that's not fair...what if the girls don't go to church?

Me:

(a little chuckle!) You know that's a good point...And you're right... I think, the people who make the laws, need to realize that all people don't go to the same church, or believe in all of the same things, but that doesn't mean that one is right or one is wrong...Just because some people can't get married in a church, doesn't mean they shouldn't be able to be married...Even Me and Daddy weren't allowed to get married in a church...but we were still allowed to get married...

Caroline:

Mom? Do you think Barack Obama can change those laws?!!!

Me:

(I honestly felt my heart jump!) I hope so boogie!