Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Cried....

This week I started reading Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew.  Actually, so far I've probably only made it thirty pages in and it has changed the way I am thinking.  On Tuesday I only got a few pages in before I had to set it down and take a walk.  I had to take a walk because I had to cry alone.
I have always been nothing but thrilled by the idea of adopting.  It has never been a source of sadness for me because I never before felt like I was giving anything up.  Suddenly something was brought to my attention in the book, and it took my breath away. 
I had to cry....

I cried because I suddenly understood just how powerful the loss that Miles went through was.
I cried because it wasn't MY heartbeat that he heard for those nine months that he was in the womb.
I cried because MY eyes weren't the first thing that greeted him into this world.
I cried because I wasn't the one that got to cheer him on the first time he rolled over, or crawled.
I cried because I never nursed him.
I cried because he's already had to lose a birth mother and a foster mother.
I cried because there is nothing I can do to keep him from hurting because of it.
I cried because I love him so much.
I cried because someone else got to love him before I even knew him.

Dearest Miles, always know that the loss of these things doesn't make me love you any less.  None of them make you less my son. But know that when you are ready to grieve, it is okay to be sad.  It is okay to cry.  I cried.
And as the author wrote at one point in the book, "The need to express feelings is just as physiological as hunger."  It is okay to feel.  It is okay to cry.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Miles and Mommy's Top Ten Bedtime Books

I have been thinking about this list for some time.  First of all, I love to read.  I love to read big adult novels, but I also love to read children's books.  I consider myself a self-proclaimed enthusiast when it comes to children's literature - by literature I mean picture books that two-year olds love.  I had a lot of experience with these types of books when I taught at the daycare, and definitely found my favorites.  I even wrote a few books of my own (but never published them - obviously) about 6ish years ago when I was seriously considering going into writing children's books.
What makes a good book to me....well, as an art teacher, of course the illustrations.  It also has to be short and to the point.  One rookie mistake (which my husband always makes) is trying to read a book with too many words to a child too young.  Also, I'm a sucker for rhyming, which I know my friend SS (an actual English and Writing teacher) would cringe at....but what can I say?

The Top 10 Books I Love to Read to My Boys (Today (because this is always subject to change)) And that I would recommend to ANY parent with little babies at home.

#1 - Number one has always been Ten Little Finger and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury.  I started out loving this book because Miles loved it.  When he first came home with us he would look at it for minutes on end (that's hours in infant world).  It was always the first book he pulled out for nighttime reading.  Then I started to love it because of the message - all little babies may be different, but they are all babies, and perfect at that.  THEN it started to dawn on me - the irony of the story.  Let's just say that the first two lines of the book are "The was one little baby who was born far away.  And another who was born on the very next day."  and in the illustrations these two little babies very closely resemble Miles and Liam.  Now how could I NOT love it?  Plus it has the essentials for a great picture book... it rhymes, has cute illustrations, AND it uses the word "eiderdown" which I had to look up.  :)

#2 - All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon and Marla Frazee.  I originally bought this book as a Valentine's Day gift for Dustin (who didn't buy me anything because he didn't want to "buy into the commercialization of Valentine's Day" (have I mentioned that before?)).  Anyways, I bought it from this little independent book seller in town, because I fell in LOVE with the story and with the illustrations.  Again, it rhymes, but the the rhythm is so clever that it is truly irresistible.  Also, if you pay attention to the illustrations you can see how the entire story is connected.  And the best thing about it?  It promotes (in a very subtle way) being a global citizen, which is important to me and my ultimate wish for my children.  I truly love every line in this book, but if I had to choose only one, my favorite line from the book would be the last one.... "Hope and peace and love and trust, All the world is all of us."

#3 - Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry.  It helps that Miles loves trucks.  But it helps even more that you'll get the lines from this book stuck in your head all day, and not necessarily in an annoying way.  This story also teaches a lesson about being friendly and loving to others and how that ultimately pays off.  Another good thing?  The verse is so catchy that you find yourself reading it really fast in your excitment.  And you'll be saying "BEEEP, BEEP, BEEP"  all day in your head after you have read it a few times.  :)

#4 - Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney.  This book, like all of the llama books is just plain cute.  I mean, what isn't to love about a bunch of llamas walking on two feet, dressing up in human clothes, going to a megastore (think the llama equivalent of WalMart) and then everything falls apart with the emotional collapse of the young llama who just really doesn't want to be there anymore.  Even the little llama pout on the cover cracks me up.  And the best part?  You'll find out just how many words really can rhyme with "llama."  And any book that uses the phrase "Llama drama" has got to be a keeper.

#5 - On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman.  When this book was first given to me the Christmas before we brought Miles home, I couldn't get through it without getting completely choked up.  A year and half later I still have to pause at the last line of the book when I'm reading it to my little boys.  "Heaven blew every trumpet and played every horn on the wonderful, marvelous night you were born."  This is exactly how I imagined it when Miles was born....and then I actually gave birth to LIam and realized that when they're born it actually goes nothing like the sweet sentiments in the book.  However, I still love the story.  I love what it means and how it makes me feel. Sigh.

#6 - No No Yes Yes by Leslie Patricelli.  Okay, so this is the first non-rhyming book on my list.  In fact, you probably couldn't even technically call it reading.  The only words in it are "no" and "yes" repeated throughout it.  However, what I love about it are the illustrations.  Pretty much it's this little baby in a diaper (who doesn't wear clothes in ANY of the books) who demonstrates things not to do (i.e. pour food on your head, draw on your walls and pets, eat dog food, hit your friend with a mallet, and run away from adults) and then shows what you should do on the next page.  (i.e. eat your food, draw on paper, eat a banana next to the dog food, hit the mallet toy with the mallet, don't run away from the adult.)  It cracks me up because every no no reminds me of Miles.  AND when we're reading it Miles totally cracks up at the pictures....probably because he is planning his next move.

#7 - What are You so Grumpy About? by Tom Lichtenheld.  Okay, I admit that this book is much better for me than it is for my kids right now.  The humor is completely lost on them, but it is just SO FUNNY.  There is no rhyming, and the words aren't all that clever, but the illustrations really do all the work.  And anyone who has either worked with kids, or has had siblings that are significantly younger (I have both) would find the humor in this book to be spot on.  The author/illustator really highlights all of the possible grumpy-inducing scenarios for young kids - having to eat healthy cereal, getting underwear for your birthday, falling into the toilet because someone left the seat up......I can't even do it justice here. 

#8 - I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak.  This book isn't necessarily clever, or full of amazing illustrations, but I just love the words that the author uses.  I love the story it tells - that I love you unconditionally.  It's a pretty cute book, and short enough that my son loves it too.

#9 - Truck by Donald Crews.  You know I couldn't have a whole list of books and not include at least one book about trucks considering my oldest son eats, breaths, and sleeps trucks right now.  This book has absolutely no words in it, unless you count the road signs sprinkled throughout.  However, I still love to read it.  The illustrations are simple, but as an artist I appreciate how the simplicity works.  They successfully tell a story that Miles and I can totally ad-lib together.  Everytime we read it, the story is a little different.

#10 - How do Dinosaurs.... by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague.  There is a whole series of these books.  I first fell in love with How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? when I worked at the daycare, but I now also read How do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? to Miles quite often.  These books have so much going for them.  First of all, they rhyme and have only one verse per page - the perfect recipe for little kids.  Then, the illustrations are just great.  AND if you have a dinosaur lover, each dinosaur's page is secretly labeled with the name of the dinosaur (so it's also like a science lesson - and who doesn't want a little learning now and then?).  The greatest part is how the illustrator and author combine all of these things that the dinosaur could do if he or she were sick (i.e. "Does he drop dirty tissues all over the floor" or "Does he scream, is he mean, does he run off and hide?").  Then both go on to illustrate what a dinosaur REALLY does. (i.e. "He drinks lots of juice and he gets lots of rest....").  It's a pretty cute book that I definitely recommend.

Well, there you have it.  I've been thinking about this list for a long time. I want my sons to look back at this and maybe someday remember reading these books together.  All I know is I'm a sucker for a combination of good illustrations and great messages (and rhyming of course).  I hope I'm raising readers, but more than that I hope I'm raising children that can appreciate irony, humor, and beautiful pictures. :)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

That's right, I'm blogging about blogging

This week has flown.  I realize I haven't written on the blog since Monday - if you even call that writing.  It could have to do with the 2.5 sleepless nights I got at the beginning of the week as my boys tag-team-slept to the great joy of their father and I.  Or, it could have to do with my job and the demands it places on me at this time of year.  OR, it could be because the combination of the two and being a working mom is just really starting to kick my butt.  Whatever it is, it has kept me from blogging.  I've thought of a whole slew of great bloggy topics, but I'm finding that blogging is a little bit like anything else.  If you take a break from it, it is a little harder to start back up again.  Okay, I know you're thinking "she really only stopped blogging for like five days - so why are she talking about it so much?"  Fair enough.

Everyday I've had something to write about.  Everyday I've found an excuse not to write anything - although the excuses have been legit.  I even skipped Wordless Wednesday even though I had pictures all ready to share.  So, I am going to share with you my Wordless Wednesday pics and will tomorrow turn over a new leaf.  I know you're all excited - don't try to hide it.  I know my brothers have missed the automatically generated email that is sent to them everytime I hit "publish post" and my angelic personality that they can't even escape 4+ states away.  So don't worry brothers, there is more to come.  But until then....
Giggles + Mischief + Tons of future wrestling matches = Miles and Caleb

A dapper young Miles ready for church and a teeny tiny little baby faux mo after bathtime. :)

My three boys today at Forest Park Nature Center's Earth Day Celebration.

So there you have it.  Other highlights this week?
- The handle broke on our mower (we have an old-school push reel mower) so we've been waiting for my students to weld it back together for almost 2 weeks now.  In the meantime we've grown a miniature jungle.  Today we got our mower back only to have the handle break off (because ANY handle would have broken off in that jungle).  We then had to borrow a mower from our neighbor - which we could have done from the beginning.  
- Sleep training began and then came to a screeching halt, thanks to two little boys who showed us whose boss.
-  We bought a bike trailer on Craigslist!  We were so excited about it until we remembered that there really is nowhere to ride a bike with two little boys trailing behind.  We could try Main Street, but that just doesn't seem wise.
-  I still only have one room in my entire house spring-cleaned - and that was the easiest room.  (We're going on three weeks now.)
-  Today we went to visit Dustin's grandma in Eureka.  Miles had so much fun that this was the scene in our backseat while we were leaving....
So I'll leave you all with that little gem (which does not do his actual anguish any justice).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Movie Monday - Spaghetti

Miles is like a sponge. Tonight for dinner we had spaghetti (thanks to the leftovers that Nana and Papa had left at our house. A few weeks ago I noticed how Miles was eating his noodles - he was copying off of us! So tonight I got it on film because I think it is pretty clever. I'm partial though. :)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Your forever "eomma"

There has been a lot about adoption in the news lately - first the missionaries in Haiti and then the mother who sent her child back to Russia with a note.  It really has me thinking.  I think about how others must see our family - it is obvious that one of my sons is adopted and that the other son looks just like his father.  I am conscious about how that appears....especially when someone asks me if I'm "babysitting".  (Yes, it just happened at the international food market a few weeks ago.)  It is easy for me to get flustered or angry when someone talks about me "saving" a child, or asks imposing questions about my decisions....but I don't want to get angry.  I want my children to see me approach these questions completely unfussed.  I want to appear cool and cavalier....because these questions don't matter.  What others wonder, or think doesn't matter.  If anything, I've been given these opportunities to point out how special each of my boys are, and to educate those around me.
There are a few things that I want BOTH of my boys to always remember...

** I don't have a choice in loving you.  For me it is no longer optional.  I am built to love these two little boys.  I function by loving them.
**  They are stuck with me forever.  Both of them - they aren't going to get another mom.  There may be times when they want one - like when I drop them off at soccer practice in my paint clothes, or sing along in public to whatever is on the radio, or when we go to weddings and I attempt dancing, or when they are stuck going to high school at the same school I teach at.
**  Nothing you can do will make me stop loving you.  You can try - although I hope you don't.
**  You're probably going to have a hard time finding a significant other that I'll think is good enough.
**  That my emotions are tied to your emotions.  Although I love being happy when you're happy, life would be a lot easier if I didn't also get sad when you're sad, or angry when you're feeling angry.  However, I also don't want you to feel the pressure to always be happy.  I want to feel these emotions with them...I want to deal with what they're dealing with.  I choose it.
**  If they want to get their hair buzzed while I'm still alive, then they are just out of luck.
**  If I could choose ANY two little boys in the ENTIRE world to raise, it would be them, hands down.
**  I'm going to make mistakes, and I'm going to try to always remember to apologize for them.  But, for those mistakes that I don't catch until it is too late, and I forget to apologize, I will tell you I'm Sorry now. :)
**  We're in this for forever, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tomorrow is going to be......


Why?  Because.....
** I am going to have coffee with some good friends.
** I am going to plan a baby shower for someone that really deserves it.
** I am going to go into work and get a TON of stuff done and feel really productive.
** I am going to treat myself to a fountain Coke from McDonalds while I do it.
** I might even treat myself to an entire lunch from MickyD's.
** I am going to come home just in time for nap time.
** I am going to make Thai Chicken Noodle Salad for dinner and it reminds me of summer.
** I am going to an artist reception for my students who have done an awesome job at yet another art show this spring.
** I am going to finish watching the movie that DJ and I started, but he started snoring halfway through.
** Then I'm going to go to bed and think about how awesome my day was, and thank God for each person in my life that was put there.

Today was NOT awesome, but tomorrow is a new day, and that new day is going to be AWESOME.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My book club is better than yours....

I have a confession....I belong to a book club.  Okay, that's not much of a confession, but what if I told you that it really isn't about books?  It's more about a couple of women (some of my favorites out there) that get together and talk about each other, themselves, and pretty much anything but the book at hand?  What if I told you that we weren't even supposed to read books every time?  I know, you're jealous aren't you?

Here's how it works, each week a different person chooses the "assignment" (80% of the group is made up of English teachers).  We then have a month to complete the assignment and report back on the following Monday where we sit around and munch on sweets and drink wine.  We're only a little over two months in, but so far we love it.  The first month my friend SS had us read the book Shelf Discovery, which talks about all of the books  that we read as young women - including my favorite two childhood authors Cynthia Voigt and Judy Blume.  We then had to reread one of the books mentioned in the book and bring it in along with an embarrassing picture of ourselves in jr. high.  Although I could find absolutely no embarrassing pictures of myself from that time period (yeah right....more like I couldn't decide between the thousands of terrible self-portraits I performed - and kept no less!), I did find an entire box of my precious old novels.  I decided to reread Deenie by Judy Blume and I was only more thrilled when I opened the front cover to find not only my name stamped inside, but also a fantastic throwback sticker of Donnie(y?) from New Kids on the Block.  ANYWAYS I have lost track of why I'm writing this..... our last assignment was to make a Vision Board.
I'll be honest....I've read The Secret, and I'm not opposed to the idea of bringing positive energy my way, but I have always thought the idea of a vision board was a little cooky.  (And that is coming from someone who made it through high school sports by spending time before each game envisioning the basketball going through the hoop.)  We didn't have to read anything - we just had to envision our goals and fit them all onto a board that was small enough that we would want to display it in a place where we would see it everyday.  My board was 26"x30" (not small) and has been hidden in the corner every since our meeting three weeks ago.
I put a lot of thought into my vision board.  I did research - i.e. If you want washboard abs then you don't want to put something that says literally - "Fight stomach fat" because you'll actually be attracting stomach fat.  It's a dangerous game, these vision boards. :) Also, I didn't want to put things on there that I knew would happen, or things that were just plain crazy.  (i.e. I know we're going to have more children - no matter how we decide to go about it, but it would be just plain crazy for me to say I want above mentioned wash-board abs (mostly because I don't want the work that goes along with said "abs")).  However, I must say that this assignment couldn't have come at a better time.  Just when I feel like my dreams have to sit on the back-burner, and have Idisplaced the time to pursue them - even losing the interest and inspiration behind them, I NEEDED this assignment.  I NEEDED to have to think about my goals and the actuality of them - the reality of them.  I NEEDED to lay it all out on a giant piece of foam board in front of me so that I could see what was worth pursuing, and what my heart actually wanted.
Most vision boards I think are meant to be secretive....but not mine.  I'm putting it out there now - mostly for two reasons.  First, because I want my children to see that their mom has goals outside of just being a mom and wife and teacher.  I want them to know that I believe in dreams and goals.  Second, because I want to be held accountable.  It's easy to get sucked up into everday life - who would even consider that my creative side is suffering except myself?  I figured if I put it out there on a public spectrum, then it will remind me that I am in charge of making it happen.

The best part of making this vision board was deciding what WAS important to me...what I really wanted.  Do I believe all of these things could possibly happen?  Sure.  Do I think I need a vision board to do it?  Nah.  But it is fun to have it documented all the same.  And the best part was when I walked into the bar we were meeting at with my ginormous board of dreams.  No shame. :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Our Zoo Date

On Saturday Dustin was busy with a conference for most of the day so I decided to take the boys to the zoo.  We had a lot of fun and I thought I'd share a little photo essay of our fun day........

Here is a view of our sweet double stroller that I get very excited about anytime anyone wants to talk about it.  I think it might have something to do with the clever engineering and all of the different ways the two seats can be configured - I'm a sucker for puzzles.  Anyone with two kids close together - I highly recommend it. :)

This is the first (and only) picture I got of Miles actually facing the camera....

The typical view from behind my camera - Miles running off to the next exhibit.  We made it through the African exhibit in record time.  It's a good thing we're members - it makes me feel a lot less guilty about running through the entire zoo. :)

Afterwards we walked to the park to hang out for a bit and enjoy a nice snack.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bubye Spring Break....

I'm not sure if I've ever been so sad to see a spring break bite the dust as I am right now.  I'm sure part of it is because this is one of the latest spring breaks I've ever had, and therefore the best weather for such galavanting as spring break surely entails. Or perhaps if it is because I've actually enjoyed this week way more than I enjoyed my entire maternity leave this winter (which I believe has a LARGE part to do again with the weather).  The boys and I got into a routine and we had a lot of fun together.  Like I mentioned in the last post, spring break is TOTALLY different than it was during my carefree childless days, but different doesn't mean good or bad....just, different.

The days of productive week-long breaks are well behind us.  I can't even really tell you if I got anything accomplished this past week - it is such a blur.  I can tell you what I didn't get done.....I didn't get the house spring cleaned.  I didn't get a single piece of jewelry made.  I didn't write out a single lesson plan.  And I didn't edit a single photo for any of my clients.

What did I do?  I went on walks every day.  I kissed ouchies.  I took naps.  I ate lunch with a very worn out bear and monkey.  I blew bubbles.  I ate elaborate and drawn out breakfasts.  I raced cars and trucks outside.  I went to the zoo.  I had a picnic in the park.  I changed a lot of diapers.  I pulled out all of my summer clothes.  And I jumped in mud puddles. 

Being a working mom is miserable and rewarding at the same time.  Sometimes I feel guilty that I get to take a week like this past one off, when other working moms and dads don't.  If I could have one wish for the world it wouldn't be world peace (I've pretty much given that one up).  It would be that everyone got a spring break to feel refreshed and alive.  And who knows, it might just lead to world peace.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Homestead

Let me start out by acknowledging the fact that it is Friday  night and I am blogging = Lo-ser.  I am on spring break, which come to find out means something COMPLETELY different when you have two boys than it does when you are a young carefree childless twenty-something with a whole lot of time to do absolutely whatever you want.  Well, this year on my spring break, besides going for walks and to the zoo and playing with trucks, I am also demonstrating my impending old age and uncoolness by attempting to spring clean my house.  Let's put it this way - It is Friday and I have one room done - one of the easier rooms even.  So while my students are out splashing around in Panama City in their tiny bikinis with the tans they've been working to achieve all winter at the local fake-bake parlor, I am getting down and dirty with my super old house.  Totally uncool.
The whole point of me writing this is because cleaning today got me thinking about our house and how much it has grown on me.  I am constantly thinking about moving - to a different town, or even a different state, but the truth is that I would be so sad to leave this house.  It isn't our first house, but it is the first house that we picked out completely on our own.  The first house we got to have total say in what we've done.  Also, since one of the main points of this blog (besides to keep all of you up on the details of my glamorous and fascinating life - blah) is to keep a record for my children of our lives, I wanted to tell them a little bit about the house that we started our family in.  (Because that is the kind of thing I would have found fascinating about my own parents' lives - trust me, I am aware of just how uncool I am.)
So here we go kids......
Our Homestead

We bought our house after being married and living in a neighboring city for 2.5 years.  It was owned by a woman named Verna whose own parents had built it in the 1920's.  When we moved in a young couple had been living here and although I'm sure they did some fabulous things that we can't truly appreciate, they also did a lot of really weird things.  For example, they pulled out every TLC painting trick in the book.  Now, I love TLC just as much as the next person (although not enough to actually pay for cable), but there comes a point when it is a little excessive. 

Now, almost 5 years later I've made Dustin paint every room twice, (what can I say - I'm sensitive to color. :)).  We've remodeled almost every room in some way, and there is so much more we want to do (like actually finish the second upstairs bedroom that has never been finished).....  So, for my children (and those of you that have actually made it this far in the post...) here are some photographs of the house our family started in.

The Kitchen

It used to be an enclosed room with some really funky cupboards.  One day Dustin came home from work and I had started knocking out the wall because I just couldn't stand it.  So began our first big renovation and almost 6 months without a kitchen sink.

 The Basement (a.k.a. ManLand)

Your dad couldn't wait to get the basement done.  You love to play down there and we love having friends over and hanging out in our newest addition to the basement.  It really had nowhere to go but up. (Yes, that is definitely a keggerator in the corner, and we definitely sold it in record time to a bunch of frat guys that saw a poster I hung up at the local college.)  Your dad and his friends studded it themselves and then your grandpa came out to help us do all of the lighting and add the half bath.  Your mom (me of course) did all of the wiring with a lot of guidance from grandpa.

The Dining Room
This is one room that I only painted once - but it did take many coats of paint.  The previous owners may have done weird stuff, but they did it well. :)
My dad (your grandpa) helped us put in a sliding glass door where there used to be windows so that we would use the backyard so much more.

The Boys' Room

This is the boy's room three paint colors earlier (like I said, I'm very sensitive to color).

The Living Room

This is one room that really hasn't changed all that much, but it is a room that you boys play in often.  You (Miles) love to look out of the picture window at the cars and trucks driving by.  You also stand on the couch to wave goodbye to us when ever we leave.  Miss Ele has even taught you how to get Bear to wave to us as well, which is super sweet.

Upstairs Bathroom

Your dad has never been able to share a bathroom, so this is his bathroom that we had to try to make "manly", whatever that means.  This is significant to you because of the leather box on the back of the toilet.  Your dad insists on having his toiletries out for convenience factors, so I make him keep them in a sweet leather tote.  You've (MIles) figured out how easy it is to get to these items and have a lot of fun grabbing his deodorant and licking it or rubbing it on your cheeks. 

The Backyard
We love our backyard now and you love being back there with us.  That is probably our favorite place to spend time together.  This picture below was actually taken two years ago, so the trees and plants are already so much bigger.  Your dad and I have even more dreams for this part of the house.

Some things not pictured:  
Great neighbors, including sweet Mrs. Alvey, Todd with the giant back tattoo, and two people we wouldn't recognize in daylight because we think they're allergic to the sun.
A dilapidated garage.
A half-finished upstairs.
The stairs that you LOVE to climb.
The driveway that you can't get enough of.

So there you go.... our humble abode.  In looking at these pictures I'm still trying to figure out what your dad and I saw in this place nearly five years ago.  However, we have tried our best to make it an appropriate home for our new family.  We're not sure how long we'll be here, but we do know that it will always hold a special place in our heart.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Hey! This used to be mine!

It's funny how I keep finding Miles.....

in Liam's Swing...

in Liam's crib

in Liam's Hat

in Liam's Walker