Friday, May 29, 2009

My accomplishment for the day.

We went from one hand-me-down computer desk (from my in-law's.) To another. This one was gifted to us by our hand-me-down neighbor, Mike. The new desk didn't fit in the corner where the old one was, but that gives us the opportunity to buy a beautiful bookcase from the nice Amish folks so that we can ditch my funky wicker "hopeless" chest from college.

What did I learn in this adventure?
- Dust is attracted to electronic things.
- I can unplug the computer, move the components around and put all of the plugs back in the right place.
- The keyboard doesn't like to be unplugged, so the main shut off on the back of the computer needs hit to reset it.
- We have one big ole honkin' tower. I think that thing has grown since we got it.
- We really do need a new chair. That's on the list, too. Perhaps I can score one from a yard sale.
- I'm tired.

This is post number two today. If you didn't get to read my earlier rant, just feel free to keep scrolling down.

Have a great weekend! See you again on Monday!

I've never watched Jon, Kate and their 8.

I have to tell you, though, what they have going on in their lives makes me ill. Seriously. I don't mean this as the judgmental express, but why do they or Nadya Suleman complain about all of the paparazzi or "P People" that they have following them when THIS IS WHAT THEY SIGNED UP FOR!

Folks, when you decide to air your entire life out on national television, you are going to get followed around. Surprising, I know, but you have made your life something people find interesting. Feed the public beast and it will feast.

1. You think that you are caring for your children in doing this as a "job," but now you have made them publicly hunted for the rest of their lives. That means that people good, bad and otherwise want a glimpse of those precious children that you spent so much freakin' money to have. That means grandmotherly ladies in the bathroom, Mamas and their kids in restaurants, playgrounds and whatnot, pedophiles . . . You've opened your life up to everyone.
2. Your children now think that everything that goes on in their lives have to be public knowledge. Do they see themselves on TV for either the program or even commercials? What do they think? Do they have a concept of keeping private matters in the family?
3. This strains relationships in your lives. Though you have chosen to air every single aspect of your life out on the laundry line of life for 1/2 of the world to see, not everyone in your life is interested in being showcased on television. You have just alienated some folks in your lives possibly forever. Just letting you know.
4. You may do this as a "job" but know that when you decided to be a parent, you should have done so with a plan to provide for your family without making them a traveling circus. You have made the choice to have batchloads of children and that is fine. However, having done so, you are now asking the public for money or donations (see website for Nadya Suleman, which I won't post here) or Kate stating that it is her job now to travel and so forth. This is something that you very much chose for your life. You shouldn't expect others to finance this venture for you. I applaud you for choosing to have all the babies that seated themselves comfortably in your womb. I wouldn't have been able to be selective, either.

Why do I write this? I'm irritated. I have never watched Jon and Kate, but I can't believe what choices that they have made for their family. Nadya decided to have a big family on her own-- her own choice-- but then she's been trying to get a reality TV show, going on Dr. Phil and whatnot. Come on people! Just be a family. Raise your family TOGETHER. Jon and Kate's marriage is falling apart. How so sad.

There is a family from NE Ohio that had multiples. They are the Hanselman's. They have sextuplets. Sure, the community pulled together. They had folks help them when the babies came home. Their church had a donation drive for them. Someone built them a spiffy new house. But they didn't ask for these things. They didn't exploit their children. They are an extremely quiet and thankful family.

We've run into them or part of them while we're out and about. We went to a library program with a friend and there were the Hanselman sextuplets-- all six children with additional caregivers in tow. I've seen Jennifer out shopping on her own. But they have done it, on their own, with some community help. They didn't feel the need to employ reality TV as a way to make money. They didn't ask for help. People wanted to help.

See? It is possible to have a big family and finance it on your own. It is possible to be that mommy and daddy that is blessed to have that "Surprise! Guess what took with that in vitro procedure" that you had and do it quietly.

Let the Hanselman's be an example to you. They are quiet people. They are involved people. I admire them for the choices that they have made for their family. Jon? Kate? Nadya? Please make the Hanselman's your roll model.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Crash, Boom, Bam!

I tried. I really did. I had K- in bed on time. We've discovered that we must continue to adhere to school bedtime, as she was staying up far too late and breaking down. Hubs had a bit of a digestively difficult day and he was in bed before nine, as well. Then it started.




The thunderstorms that they had predicted all day long finally decided to start-- right at bedtime. Lightning was crashing very close to the house, so much so that I decided to turn the computer and TV off, regardless to the fact that we have them plugged into super-duper lightning safe strip plugs. Not long after moving into our lovely home, a bolt of lightning hit the power line one house down, and took out our TV. We had that TV repaired and many years later it died, but we replaced it with a much nicer one. Though our computer is a conglomeration of leftover basement parts from some lovely friends of our neighbor, I'd rather keep the box running.

I didn't write my post last night.

"Mommy, can you make the storm go away?" Oh, I wished that I could. I told her to blow and see if she could blow the storm away. Then I told her the age-old, count from lightning to thunder to see how high you can go. One. Two. Three . . . This went on for a good hour and a half. She told me that, "Mom, you can sleep in here with me. Put your checkmark into your book (bookmark), bring it in here. I made you a pillow with my Tinkerbell blanket." I ended up going in and hanging out with her. "But where is your book?" I couldn't read it in the dark! She understood. I snuggled up with her to get her calmed down. I finally got her quieted down. The storms subsided enough to turn the TV back on and I went back out to the living room. I fell asleep sitting up while reading. Then I woke back up at 1:15 AM with K- telling me-- in full voice-- the account of a nightmare that she just had. Back in her bed I went to get her all settled down. I finally made it to my bed, and here I sit.

Folks, I'm tired.

All Hubs could ask this morning was, "Why did the storms have to wait until bedtime?" I asked myself the same question! I hope it was a quiet night in your neighborhood! For whatever it is worth, at least my plants got a nice watering!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday: Adoption Process Tips

Everyone who stops in here pretty much knows that adoption is near and dear to our hearts. More specifically, we are advocates for domestic county adoption -- they are right in your backyard -- though adoption in general is just a wonderful thing.

Our adoption was through the county just south of us and what we did was Foster to Adopt. What that means is that when K- was born, the hospital reported her birth status to the county, they filed for temporary custody (emergency if memory serves) and she came to live with us. She was foster only at this time. Her first week with us was a flurry of caseworker visits (3 total) and a doctor's well visit. (Required to be done the first week a child is with you.) We had a hearing in mid-January that was optional for us to attend, but we were able to meet K-'s Guardian et Litem. The county was awarded temporary custody, then the move was to get permanent custody. Monthly, we had a few workers stop in to check on K-. We eventually gained permanent custody, despite the timing with the paperwork issue, then onward to adoptive status. Early on, we did have one worker give me a tip. I'm adding the others that we found particularly helpful.

1. Keep track of the birth mother via the public record. -- Every state (I think) has online access to the public record. This gives accounts of arrests, court dates and so forth. I would check the record a couple of times a week. If there was a new entry, I would e-mail our worker immediately.
2. Be seen often. -- An optional court date? Go. A review hearing that you don't have to attend if you don't want to? Go. Hubs and I were determined to have the county see our smiling faces as much as humanly possible.
3. Keep impeccable records. -- When we got K-, she was a day and a half old. Keeping records for her was easy, as I just kept an incredibly detailed baby calendar for her. She had a doctor's visit? I recorded it, for what reason, the measurements taken that day and if a follow-up was needed. All case worker visits were listed. Any milestones were recorded. Any new places or fun things we did were listed. She went to the voting booth with me that year (it was a presidential election) and I placed my voting sticker in there. They knew that we were very involved as a family, I had all kinds of memorabilia and whatnot. No questions asked. The worker was so excited when we were wrapping up our paperwork to move onto ADOPTIVE STATUS! that she actually copied the entire calendar so that she could show her clients.
4. Tackle paperwork like a life depends on it. -- Really, this statement is completely true. Our adoptive worker, the one who copied the calendar, commented that she could be to our house on Monday, give me a stack of papers 2" thick to fill out and she knew that it would be in her box by Wednesday. I pushed papers. My husband said that he was stunned with the intensity that I had when tackling the adoptive paperwork. The sooner I got it handled and back into their hands, the quicker we got through the system.
5. Put your big city girl boots on and talk to everyone that you need to at the county. -- Seriously. The county knew that I made no bones about calling or e-mailing. Usually, I would e-mail, as I knew that they had so many cases and that really, we were a cut and dry case. We had to go through the motions (K- was the 7th child, after all) because really they had it streamlined by the time K- came along. It still didn't mean that it didn't need to be handled. When our Guardian failed to turn paperwork in on time and K-'s permanent custody case was appealed (ARRRGGGHH!), I called the CSB attorney. I don't think that is typical for a parent, but he could see with what extreme seriousness we were taking our case. I spoke to department head to address the concerns that I had with the homestudy. Our homestudy was handed over to an independent contractor and she came, took the information and was lolly gagging on getting the report filled out. I complained and magically, the report appeared.
6. Keep all appointments. -- You only delay the process if you don't keep the scheduled visits and so forth. Sure, it can be a bit of a pain to have people traipsing in and out of your house all the time, but this is a part of it that you signed up for. Look at it this way, it is a built in house cleaning plan.
7. If you choose to call your child a name other than the given name, remember to call them by their birth name when official folks are present. -- K-'s name is not her birth name. There was no romantic reason for us to keep the birth name. We chose K-'s name for a few different reasons, but that didn't mean that we could call her that to the workers or in court. Sure, the first thing that the workers asked when they entered after K-'s arrival was "so, what are you naming her?" (Her birth name was very misspelled and a bit street, as my social worker friend told me.) The pediatrician that saw her the first time asked that, too. However, as much as the workers understand that you are changing the name, the courts like you to refer to the child by their legal name until adoptive status is reached. Then you can call name them mud, if you want!
8. Be extremely appreciative. -- Honestly, these folks are overworked and underpaid. If you are taking a child into your home, chances are that they are only visiting as a formality. Really, they look at your house as a place to hang out, take a deep breath and be glad that they don't have to worry about roaches, fleas or other creepy crawlies, abuse, neglect or other bizarre things. There were times that we found that it was more of a therapeutic dump session for them. During those times, I (it was mostly just me) got a little bit of a window into what their work was really like. It is because of all of these meetings that I'm as hyperspastic about K- as I am. (Hubs, too.)
9. Keep up to date on coursework. -- Don't try to crash all the required upkeep hours in a week. Take classes that seem interesting to you, not ones that you are taking just to log in the hours. Take it as an opportunity to learn. Take it as an opportunity to network with other parents. Give honest feedback. Help the county to know what worked and what didn't with the class. Really, most of the classes that we took were really good.

K-'s adoption day was exactly two days shy of her 1 year anniversary of being with us. Her adoption day? It fell on her very first birthday. I still get weepy just thinking about it.

Truly, I cannot say enough about how much adoption has touched our hearts. Whether it be private, county, domestic or international, know that the children who need homes didn't ask to be in their situation. They are little victims of circumstance. Their parents, for whatever reason, have been deemed as not the best guardian for them. Even if it is not your heart's calling to adopt, please pray for all of the children that need homes. There are so many children without parents, here and abroad, that the number is just shocking. They need moms. They need dads. They need love. Even if fostering is what you are interested in, a positive launching pad stays with a child for a lifetime. You may be the first positive reinforcement in their lives that they ever got. Though sometimes they may not say it at the time, believe me when I say that you will stay in their hearts forever. Fostering is a gift that makes my eyes well in tears. So many stories I heard of from folks who only fostered, fostered so many and were able to see children, otherwise broken and bruised physically and/or mentally, turn around and be productive and wonderful citizens. Please remember these children. They have been through so much.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Weekend Wrap Up

No Tales from the Trenches today. I don't want to start my week bellyaching, even though they have efficiency experts coming into work this week. I don't see this going so well. Artists are not the most efficient folks. We know that. My bosses are far from the most efficient folks. It will be interesting to see how this one turns out. (Though my husband did play a few scenes of Office Space that he insisted that I watch.)

Anyhow! We started our Friday by going to the nursery. I had a gift certificate that was burning a hole in my pocket. We go to a really nice Mom and Pop nursery just down the road. Sure, we could go and buy our flowers at the big box stores, but we really want to keep these folks in business. Now mind you, I don't buy quite enough to keep them in business, but we certainly love supporting them. They are a wonderful German family and the same folks are in there every. single. year. We started shopping there because of a goofy promotional postcard that they sent years ago offering a free wave petunia. Yes, we did get our free petunia and we've been loyal customers ever since. I swear that I could go in blindfolded and easily find everything I wanted.

We came home, puddle-putzed around a bit and as I got a few containers planted, I wasn't successful in planting everything. K- and E- were running between houses and I thought it was more important to keep up with the little people. We did end the day with the monthly run to Sam's. Of course, I didn't realize that we could use another case of toilet paper. Bummer.

Saturday brought Lowe's Day. They had the building clinic outside, which was lovely! We build a Ready to Go box, which is for child safety and whatnot. We carted my brother and nephew back home and zoomed out to my sister's house. When we got there, we discovered that my sister failed to tell me that the birthday party was a pool party. Drat. I had no bathing suit for K-. Both of her girls are absolute twigs, so their suits didn't fit, but somehow they had a dance leotard that fit my average build child just fine. Since we were there before the party (wedding later at the same time as the party), K- scored on getting a ride in the little trailer on back of the 4 wheeler.All the rest of the party photos are of girls in swim suits and since icky predator people cruise the internet, I don't care to add to their collection of photos. But trust me, they were all cutie patootie! They went with a Hawaiian theme. My sister scored some cool plastic Hawaiian goblets from the dollar store, little swizzle sticks, made the girls foamy party punch (the sherbet-y floaty stuff), sliced a strawberry to decorate the top of the glass and gave them a straw. You would have thought that these girls were in HEAVEN!

So we left the party and trotted home to get changed for the wedding. The wedding? Oh my heavens! It was gorgeous. White, black and lime green with damask in black on white as a running pattern on everything. Drop. dead. gorgeous. I was just short of drooling. Since it was an adult reception and Hubs had to work, I dropped K- off at the in-law's and went to the reception stag. Half of the church was there, so I wasn't worried about not having someone to talk to. Turns out that I was assigned to the table with our good friends, Butch (our fantastic plumber!) and Carolyn (his wonderful wife that follows the same digestive mysteries as Hubs), the youth pastor (who performed the ceremony), his wife, his parents (part of our congregation) and our Pastor, who was flying solo that evening as well. Though we got ditched by the senior pastor for a better table (don't worry, the youth pastor stole the chocolate box from the empty place at our table), all of us had a great time. The food was stupendous. Now I have to tell you, I love to eat, but I'm kind of picky. (I'm better than I was.) They had Italian Wedding Soup (fab!), a lovely tossed salad, broccoli/mandarin salad (not my thing, lost me with the mandarins), tomato and cucumber salad (don't like raw tomatoes or cucumbers), Potatoes Anna (sounded so wrong but were absolutely delicious!), Penne with sausage (the Italian big link kind), green beans almondine (real, live from the garden yesterday beans!), and sirloin cut by an official guy. Now, I saved room on my plate for the beef sirloin (beef not my thing but I thought why not) and it was very medium. Oh, it wasn't moo-ing, but it was very pink. Everyone loved it and raved about how great it was, but I like my meat completely dead before I eat it. I passed on it and had wished that I filled up more on the green beans and Potatoes Anna. No worries! They had a 20 foot table filled with cookies and another table with fresh fruit and a chocolate fountain. My heavens!

A side note, I apologize for my liberal use of parentheses in the above paragraph.

Moving onward. Sunday we went to church. A fun thing was that on Friday I found my bible that has been lost for two months. Where was it? Under my nightstand. I had gone through a streak of finding all kinds of good reads at the thrift store. I have two stacks of books under my nightstand. The one with the bible got pushed back. Gosh I was glad to have it back! For me, using someone else's bible (Hubs') is like wearing someone else's shoes. I mean, sure they are the right size and all but it wasn't mine. I write in my bible. Hubs does not. (I think it is the residual Catholic in him.) I grew up with my mom writing in her bible and find that if I write notes on sheets of paper, I don't keep them. Write it in the margins and whatnot? I find that my pen stays there permanently.

(I'm a bit tangential today, yes? Sorry about that.)

So we had lunch and started on the gardens. I had flowers to finish planting and transplanting from Friday, we needed to uncover the garden (from the solarizing) and get it planted. Hubs decided to mow. K- and E- had been playing together, so I ran back and forth to keep tabs on them while he did.

He got the yard work completed and I finished my flower planting. K- helped me to plant Sunflower seeds (a pack was part of the party favors from C-'s birthday the day previous) and some Hollyhocks. I didn't plant either one last year and kind of felt sad without them.

Right now, here are our back beds. The first one is the lily bed. We had to cut our butterfly bushes back to about a foot from the ground, but they are coming back nicely. Our milkweed is popping up all over. So much so that we had to do a bit of a select pull. Our next bed was the original butterfly garden. We put the lily bed in about a year later. We had such success with this one, we figured why not? As I was planting the garden, K- was mixing old seeds and leftover onion sets for some mysterious concoction. I don't know exactly where she dumped it after she was done, but if I find onions mid yard, then I will know. Don't worry about the garden planting, though, she did help with the beans, chives, collards and carrots. Here is Hubs putting the final details on attaching the fence. See the wounded left pointer finger? Oh, he caught it in the lawn mower as he was collapsing it down to put it in our shed. He found it none too amusing when all I could do was laugh (and share the spray of the hose.) I didn't think it was funny that he injured himself, but that earlier I had gotten so excited about a hummingbird at our bush that I popped up to run for my camera and stabbed myself in the toe with a trellis that was laying flat on the ground. I bled and K- had to go get me a paper towel and a band aid. (Tinkerbell, if you were wondering.) So, as I shared the water with Hubs, I sent K- in for the first aid kit. Hubs was initially a bit dramatic, which made me laugh harder. Later, K- asked what we would be doing after planting and my response was, "Taking daddy to the hospital for an amputation." "ARE YOU SERIOUS?" was his reply. It took him about an hour and a half or so, but then he laughed at our weird injuries. But in the end, look at what we accomplished!As we were out working, Hubs realized that what we had nesting in our box on the back fence were Chickadees. Now, I have to tell you that I built that box at a park building workshop probably 6 + years ago. That box has never housed anything. Hubs was impressed. He said that normally they nest in the woods. Since we are on a 40' x 120' plot, with our backyard probably measuring 40' x 50' or so, we consider that habitat success! While out, we also had an adult hummingbird hang out, dragonflies zoom through (we always have a pair that lives here), a Downy woodpecker above our heads, the Chickadees caring for their young (both mom and dad) and a black swallowtail flutter by. Well, we had the usual cast of characters, but these were a little different than most.Chickadee-dee-dee! Flying for food for my baby-be-be-be's!

Monday started with a cranky K- who lost TV privileges for the day because of her refusal to make her bed. We did make it to the thrift store, but you would seriously think that they were completely giving the store away. There were people parked in aisles stripping down to their tight bike shorts, trying things on and modeling to the mirrors. Wow. I did score some Brain Quest flip books for K-, a kid's art book on Da Vinci (we have the Warhol book like this that we bought at the Warhol museum a few years ago), a purse for my niece, a changing table cover for Leland, a pair pants for Hubs, a book for me and a desk paper organizer for our newly acquired desk from our lovely neighbor.

After the thrift store, we went home to get ready for our afternoon of boating. Hubs readied the boat, K- played in the backyard and I prepared lunch. I packed a tuna noodle salad for all of us, fruit salad for K- (partially for me), cherry tomatoes and short cut carrots for snacking. While out, K- played with the load of toys she brought. I read my book for hours. I can't tell you the last time I've been able to read for hours and it didn't involve a college assignment. (I'm reading The Devil Wears Prada. No, I haven't seen the movie.) We did get stopped by an ODNR Watercraft officer to check to see if we are in compliance with state law. We always get nailed on something dumb. (I swear, they all must have just a little different spin.) At any rate, this time we were supposed to have the boat registration IN THE BOAT with us, but it was in the truck. We weren't cited. Initially, K- was asleep but woke up while he was there checking us out. He kept commenting about how proud he was of her wearing her life jacket. Even while sleeping, she had it on which was probably not a typical find for him.

Look! Hubs caught some fish! Two fish, actually. This was his biggest. It was about 16 1/2 inches long. It wasn't too bad! (BTW, we are catch and release people.)
K- was fishing, too. Not me. I was reading. Here is my comfy place. Hubs hooked an umbrella up for me and one for K-. I read here for hours. Every now and then I had to sit up. My back would develop a lovely crink. Here are my people. What was funny is that when they pulled up to shore, K- hopped out and onto land, grabbed the rope and started pulling on the boat to keep it on shore. I tried to get out, the boat floated and I started to get that split leg between land and boat thing happening. How is it that my child can successfully bail out to run with the rope and her mama can't even get out? I did get out, eventually.

Which brings me to yet another point. It's been a few years since I've been out on the boat. I guess that I hadn't realized that, but it is true. Word of caution, when you haven't backed the boat trailer up in a few years-- it is NOT like getting back on a bike. In fact, it is downright embarrassing and I finally called Hubs to do it. At that point, people were waiting for the launch and people get cranky when they have to wait for the single launch while a non-coordinated female keeps doing the forwards/backsies in the lot.

I hope that all of you had a great weekend!