Monday, July 30, 2007

Urgent Prayer Request

I just received a phone call about a neighboring community, who has found itself with a new business in town--Planned Parenthood. Apparently, they went in like a thief in the night, totally under the radar and are scheduled to be open with the specific purpose of providing abortions to this community. The local newspaper is running a poll about whether or not such a service is necessary. You can vote until 4pm CST. Does our community covet such a service? At this point, the votes tell the only story. Go and vote, if it's not too late. But if it is, don't worry, it's never too late for prayers--especially those that fly beneath the radar.
Picture Perfect

It's happened again. At some point in the last 24 hours, my house and its minions launched a sneak attack.

When I walked into the basement, I discovered that a certain family cat had thrown up and was denying any knowledge of it at all. Obviously, our furry friend had brought in the feline counterpart to the I. Dunno child(you know that one extra child you have who takes the heat for all household mishaps--i.e.-"Who decided to connect the sprinkler hose to the septic tank?" "Gee, I. Dunno."). The only one who was the least bit amused by this was Baby T, who couldn't understand why I withheld such unique play-doh from him.

Overnight, the stack of dinner dishes whom I begged sit tight until I came to visit in the morning, decided to stage a protest-a sort of place-setting "sit-in" if you will; in which they clearly called for a sympathy strike from the local Pots and Pans Unit. Needless to say, the situation became hostile and I decided against crossing the picket line, dropped this morning's breakfast dishes on the corner and told them to walk.

Then, this afternoon, I laid everyone down for naps. Then... ONE messy diaper, ONE potty break, ONE juice cup refill, TWO stories read and MULTIPLE pleas for early parole later, I was the only one who was sleeping.

I cringe when people suggest that life on the ark is perfect. Partly because that's a heavy mantle, but also because it simply isn't true. Getting everyone dressed and ready for the picture is half the battle, getting them all to smile is another. The dirty dishes, the unruly kids and parents, the messes and the dishevelment that is life aren't in the pictures that make the final cut and wind up on the wall. No, they're not the status quo either, but they are there, hidden amongst the old sepia-toned negatives, signs of our shortcomings and failings and a reminder that the only truly perfect picture ever taken must be divinely developed.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Good stuff

Lisa, of the well-known Catholic Mom site, has a new contest up at her blog! Go over and check it out!

Also another recent find, Heidi Hess Saxon's blog, Mommy Monsters; where she writes on parenting--especially for foster and adoptive parents.

Also, over at Mommy Community, there is a new Friday Faves meme that comes out every, well, Friday. It's a clever way of sharing a few of your favorite things and maybe finding some new faves to check out!

I'll be sure to add these sites to my sidebar soon!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The rest of the story

Here are the photos from what I like to refer to as hiking "lite". I have one picture that I'm not including here because it is absolutely begging to be used with another photo in a flashback/flashforward post. Check back again soon to look for it, but for now, enjoy these...

Friday, July 27, 2007


I am not what you might call an "outside" person. Those of you who have known me for a long time will attest to this fact. You will recall numerous outdoor activities involving prehistoric-looking insects, the threat of dirt and despicable heat and humidity and my noticable absence. It is much preferable to have access to water that runs from a faucet, not a stream, and an outlet for my hairdryer. There are many things I would give up in this world, my Marriott Rewards number is not one of them.

So when we visit NH, I have panic-inducing flashbacks of the forced death marches family hikes that occurred in my youth. My parents love to recount far-fetched tales about my supposed behavior on these outings. Apparently, as a child, my preferred method of hiking was to pathetically appeal to a sympathetic stranger for a "ride" on their back--the original hitch-hike; and, hey, it was the 70s, so hitching a ride was a piece of cake.

Fast forward to summer 2007, in the same White Mountain region, with the same trails minus the hippies (okay some of the hippies, it is still northern NH) willing to help a sister out with a piggy-back ride here or there. I find myself in an uncomfortable predicament. The people who now accompany me to the Great North Woods want to do things like, well, hike. You can see my dilemma. Out of sheer love for my children, I agree to one "hike", which ends up being more like a walk, on a paved path, that happens to go through some trees and near some water. It's a win-win situation, or so it seems; but the children get greedy. They've been hiking and they've developed a taste for it. They want to go again. Fortunately, the same people who liked to drag me up and down the sides of mountains are happy to do the same with my children.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Miracle Worker

(def.) one who is able to take the chocolate chip cookie dough AFTER all the children have *tested* it and can STILL spread it out in the pan.
What's it worth?

Jena at Preparing for Rain shared this link the other day about adoptive parents dealing with the corruption that exists in some adoption situations. Although the country in question was Cambodia, this is definitely an country non-specific issue. As you even hear, albeit infrequently, that it happens in the good old US of A.
One fly in the ointment of this issue is something that our adoption agency has been cautious about concerns giving gifts or money to help our adopted childrens' "left behind" family. Even when it seems to fly in the face of the care and compassion we want to offer our adopted children, their extended family and their country; their concern is valid based on horrific situations that have occured in countless adoption programs-and yes, I would venture to guess, even the most respected ones.
As with most benevolent adoptive parents, such thoughts would never even enter my mind; but the reality is that the situation is desperate enough for some people (some well-meaning and others not-so-much) that if there even exsisted the slightest implication that kids=cash (payable in US dollars) then they'd auction them off to the highest bidder.
Our agency has organized a separate group of adoptive families to brainstorm ways to help the extended families, who fill our hearts and minds as soon as we know of them, but the answers haven't come quickly. The obvious solutions of the promise of jobs, schooling, money or other goods is a questionable carrot dangling in front of some unethical noses. And while many families would not sacrifice their young for any amount, there are some for whom the *bait* would be just too tempting.
How then do adoptive parents fill in these gaps that range from mild cracks in the system to gaping chasms in some country programs? Are there programs out there that meet these needs? If so, are we being vocal in support of them and are we then putting our money where our collective mouths are and investigating the motivation and methods used by the adoption agencies before committing thousands of dollars to their programs. We owe it to our adopted children, their families, and their countries to do so.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


If you missed it in the comments below, check out my sister-in-law's friend's blog. They are collecting stickers to cover their ENTIRE vehicle! They're looking for stickers from blog readers everywhere. If nothing else, you've got to see the pictures of the sticker progression! We'll be sending a sticker from the ark's travels, feel free to do the same and spread the word. You can find GTI Sticker Quest in my sidebar or you can click on the links in this post.
Be careful what you wish for

Last night at our women's bible study, one of the discussion topics (out of Danielle Bean's book Mom to Mom, Day to Day) was on trying to survive while swimming in a sea of housework. It reminded me of an article of Erma Bombeck's that I read while logging all our driving miles last week. I promised the women in the group I'd share it with them. So here it is ladies, this one's for you-

by Erma Bombeck

No More Oatmeal Kisses--January 29, 1969
A young mother writes: "I know you've written before about the empty-nest syndrome, that lonely period after the children are grown and gone. Right now I'm up to my eyeballs in laundry and muddy boots. The baby is teething; the boys are fighting. My husband just called and said to eat without him, and I fell off my diet. Lay it on me again, will you?"

OK. One of these days, you'll shout, "Why don't you kids grow up and act your age!" And they will.

Or, "You guys get outside and find yourselves something to do . . . and don't slam the door!" And they won't.

You'll straighten up the boys' bedroom neat and tidy: bumper stickers discarded, bedspread tucked and smooth, toys displayed on the shelves. Hangers in the closet. Animals caged. And you'll say out loud, "Now I want it to stay this way." And it will.

You'll prepare a perfect dinner with a salad that hasn't been picked to death and a cake with no finger traces in the icing, and you'll say, "Now, there's a meal for company." And you'll eat it alone.You'll say, "I want complete privacy on the phone. No dancing around. No demolition crews. Silence! Do you hear?" And you'll have it.

No more plastic tablecloths stained with spaghetti. No more bedspreads to protect the sofa from damp bottoms. No more gates to stumble over at the top of the basement steps. No more clothespins under the sofa. No more playpens to arrange a room around.No more anxious nights under a vaporizer tent. No more sand on the sheets or Popeye movies in the bathroom. No more iron-on patches, rubber bands for ponytails, tight boots or wet knotted shoestrings.

Imagine. A lipstick with a point on it. No baby-sitter for New Year's Eve. Washing only once a week. Seeing a steak that isn't ground. Having your teeth cleaned without a baby on your lap.No PTA meetings. No car pools. No blaring radios. No one washing her hair at 11 o'clock at night. Having your own roll of Scotch tape.

Think about it. No more Christmas presents out of toothpicks and library paste. No more sloppy oatmeal kisses. No more tooth fairy. No giggles in the dark. No knees to heal, no responsibility.

Only a voice crying, "Why don't you grow up?" and the silence echoing, "I did."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It finally happened

July 14, 2007 my *little* brother and his girlfriend became Mr. and Mrs. my *little* brother. The ceremony was beautiful as they were surrounded by their family and friends who witnessed their vows. Well, surrounded by most of their family anyway; a 15 month-old, who shall remain nameless, decided to practice his opera audition just prior to the start of the nuptials and, in turn, joined his Daddy a floor below to wait for the instant replay.

Back upstairs, the nieces (and the non-screeching nephew) presented themselves for picture taking.

But, you didn't read this far to see pictures of all those people...The two that you stopped by to see are right here, looking charming as ever.

The picture just does not do the two of them justice. They both looked wonderful and so very happy. The wedding reception continued until late into the evening and was attended by a small group of family and friends. My aunts and uncles and some of my cousins made the drive North from CT and NJ to share in their day. It was a great chance for us to see them, some of them for the first time in over a year. It was also a treat to meet the friend (and blog reader) of my newly-minted sister-in-law and her husband. It's a funny thing to meet someone for the first time who already knows your family's quirks and the cast of characters just from regular blog reading. Before the ceremony was over, each of the fathers of the bride and groom offered their best wishes with a blessing and a toast. My dad read a beautiful Irish wedding blessing, which I'd never heard before and I'll leave you with today:

May your mornings bring joy and your evenings bring peace. May your troubles grow few as your blessings increase. May the saddest day of your future Be no worse than the happiest day of your past. May your hands be forever clasped in friendship And your hearts joined forever in love. Your lives are very special, God has touched you in many ways. May his blessings rest upon you And fill all your coming days.

Monday, July 23, 2007

And speaking of travel...

We've got lots of stories and pictures and more stories. We spent the better part of 10 days on the road or mooching off of enjoying the hospitality of friends and family alike across two time zones.

While the children sat angelic and well-mannered (ahem) throughout the entire trip...

I passed my time in the front seat enjoying the scenery.

H learned one "ark" trip rule very quickly-it is not worth repeatedly asking if we are still in Pennsylvania or how much longer we will be in Pennsylvania or what time it will be when we leave Pennsylvania-because a funny thing happens: the more you ask, the longer Pennsylvania gets. The good news is that eventually she stopped asking and the mind-numbing thrill ride that is I-80 through the entire state of Pennsylvania released us from its clutches and we arrived without incident at all of our arranged locations:
  • Pizza at Carmela's in NY with the Greens; where we got to meet the newest family member!

  • The SJHS condo in CT; our "price was just right" lodging the night before the wedding

  • Chez Foi in MA; where we stayed during the wedding and received an unexpected visit from Pettey (who made us some oh-so-cute summer purses so our sensible Midwestern handbags didn't bring the East coast fashion scene to a screeching halt)

  • The Moose Drop Inn in NH; where we ran Grandma and Grandpa B ragged with one solid week of ark-inducing fun

I'll get the pictures and some of the stories up later tonight or tomorrow.

Adoption Round-Up #3

Suzanne's talking about the travel piece of adoption. You can read about the Boy and the Captain's travels in Ethiopia here as well as stories of other families travel adventures. You can also add your own adoption travel story. Go on over and check it out!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

No place like it

Home, that is. We've just returned from over 2200 miles of travel and are making pathetic attempts to convince ourselves that we really should unload the car before the remaining fries and nuggets under the baby's carseat fashion themselves into something that might actually unload the car itself. Lots of stories and pictures to share, but they'll have to wait until tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

He said it

As the Boy was perusing our July calendar.

Boy: Whose anniversary is tomorrow?

Me: That was last Thursday and it was my mom and dad. They've been married 38 years.

Boy: Wow.

Me: Yeah, that's a long time to be married to someone.

Boy: Yeah...especially (Grandma adds: TO) someone like Grandpa.

Product (RED)

Just a few weeks ago, Gap joined with a handful of other major retailers to sell Gap(RED) products whose proceeds will go towards the treatment of tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS. From their website:

In less than four years, the Fund has achieved some substantial results.
By January 2007, Global Fund financing provided:
*770,000 people with treatment for HIV and AIDS
*nearly 9 million people with voluntary HIV testing
*more than 1 million orphans with care and support
*2 million people with treatment for tuberculosis
*more than 22 million people treated for malaria
*nearly 18 million families with insecticide-treated mosquito nets

If that wasn't a good enough reason to support the work they are doing, check out this cute outfit that is offered by Gap(RED)! The bad news is that it is only available up to a 24mos. size... WHICH MEANS...The good news is that Baby T will have to get one soon!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Biggest Thing for Vermont

since, well, Vermont. I can't believe that Illinois Springfielders couldn't turn up 725 dead people to beat out Vermont for this honor.
What did the Pink Panther say...

when he stepped on the ant? Deadant..deadant...deadantdeadantdeadantdeadantdeadant...deadant.

I've been rather hesitant in writing this for a very good reason. It is based on my completely rational fear of my yard being infiltrated by highly intelligent, IT-savvy ants. I just couldn't shake the thought that the queen ant had hooked up her geek squad of workers with little, tiny Dell notebooks and a brand, spanking new wi-fi connection. All of this in a pathetic attempt to read my blog and see what my next onslaught of attacks on their army might be. Be that as it may, I've decided to throw caution to the wind and announce that I think I saw their arms (or are they legs?), waving teensy, weensy white flags the other night. I know they thought they had us beat, but if I gave up that easily, I wouldn't be parenting six children. More than likely, given some of the younger children, I'd be off in a corner, curled up in the fetal position, rocking back and forth as I consummed mass quantities of the homemade vodka the Captain brought back from Poland 10 years ago. It didn't take spells, chants or any other hare-brained schemes to get rid of them. In the end, large quantities of poison ant-deterring spray and powder did the trick. Now, hopefully, the few that may still be lurking out in the backyard aren't the blog hacking type.
In the sidebar

You can now find the posts from my "How'd You Get Here From There?" series located in the sidebar under Adoption FAQs. Keep checking back as I've got a few more posts in the works about our adoption process (yes, including the always promised, but as yet delivered-'timeline' post!) If you have any other topics you'd like to see addressed, feel free to drop me a note in the comments section. I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Thanks, kid

Apparently along with the age of three comes a healthy dose of bravada...

N (to me as I got dressed this morning): Mommy, I have something to tell you.

Me: Yes.

N: Those pants at the store didn't fit you too well.

Me: Thanks for noticing...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Footprints Sequel?

There was a visiting priest at Mass this morning. He spoke in a heavy Irish brogue complemented by the gift of the gab bestowed on the people of the Emerald Isle. During his homily, which was well worth the extra listening that his thick accent required, he spoke about how each of us is given a gift, a special purpose by God to fill our time here on earth. Had he stopped there, it would have been a homily that I would have merely nodded my head and thought to myself, this is the all-important message I've been straining to hear at quarter to eight this morning? But lucky for me, he didn't stop talking and I, by divine intervention, didn't stop listening.
He wrapped up his seemingly commonplace sermon with a reminder for us all about the importance of using those gifts we are given lest God decide to drop us off in a location where their use is demanded of us. I'd never heard this poem before (although many times I've heard the original), and it definitely gave me some early morning food for thought on which I will be chewing for days to come.

One night I had a wondrous dream.
One set of footprints there was seen,
the footprints of my precious Lord,
but mine were not along the shore.
But then some stranger prints appeared
and I asked the Lord, "What have we here?
Those prints are large and round and neat,
but, Lord, they are too large for feet."
"My child," he said in sober tones,
"For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
but you refused and made me wait."
"You disobeyed, you would not grow.
The walk of faith you would not know.
So I got tired, I got fed up,
and there I dropped you on your butt."
"Because in life there comes a time
when one must fight and one must climb,
when one must rise and take a stand
or leave their butt prints in the sand."
Life imitating art

or, it's not nice to call your blogging wife a computer geek. Even if you add in the word beautiful. Nope. Not even then.

You will be happy to know, however, that I am at least not a big enough computer geek to decide to pay money for the "crackberry" gadget for your meez, although it would have been more realistic... ;-)

We always knew you were a trendsetter...

Forget everything you knew about librarians--unless, of course, you know my mom--and check out these "new, hipper, shushers".

Friday, July 06, 2007

Sisterly vows

Let me preface this by saying that I may be completely off base here. I mean there was that time in high school when the sister who taught my French class tapped her closely-trimmed, practically designed, nunnly hands on my desk and I caught sight of the single gold band on her left ring finger. I thought I'd uncovered a scandal so big that, well, I couldn't believe that she'd be so bold as to walk around blatantly advertising her illicit marriage. Needless to say, many, many years later some kinder, gentler and much wiser person explained to me the significance of her ring. I was pretty happy that I'd decided to let her secret stay just that.

Now, this is not nearly as scandalous a story, but I think I need to re-examine the vows that our dear sisters take. If I'm not mistaken, theirs are vows of chastity, obedience, and poverty; which would imply to me that a nun's life is simple, lacking in an overabundance of material goods. So this morning, when I volunteered to help my mother-in-law to clean out the kitchen at the school's convent, I mistakenly thought the entire job would be finished in a couple of hours. To say the very least, the job will continue into the next week, probably the next month and quite possibly until the dear sisters have long since settled into their new convent (which shouldn't take long, given the amount of stuff that was left in the old digs).

At present, I am running loads of place mats, potholders and dish towels through my laundry. If cleanliness is next to godliness, then one of the sister's forgot to embroider it on one of their many kitchen wall hangings. In the two hours I had allotted, we managed to NOT wash down the walls, NOT wash down the cabinets, NOT wash the inside of the cabinets (with what we found out today was nearly 50 years worth of accumulated kitchen paraphernalia), NOT sweep the floor, NOT wash the floor, NOT wash down the counter tops or NOT clean out any small appliances. We did, however, get a tremendous head start on sorting and boxing things up for the school's rummage sale this fall. (Ed Note: If you are in need of 30 different types of nutcrackers, spatulas of the wood, plastic, metal persuasion or any combination thereof, or perhaps you're just missing 7 colored wicker paper plate holders-only burned once...then you'll want to mark the rummage sale on your calendar.)

Don't misunderstand this little anecdote, either. I love the sisters who work with our kids. I truly feel that our children are loved by them as if they were their own. And having an opportunity to go "behind the habit" as it were, gives me a little insight into the lives that on the outside seem so perfectly simple. It also sheds a little light on my one extremely right-brained daughter, who leaves "stuff" in her wake as she moves throughout the house during the day, that maybe her considering becoming a nun isn't such a far reach for her after all.
Best laid plans

I purposefully got up early this morning to get in the shower and get dressed before the crowds ensued, but instead I decided to just *quickly* check my email, and then look in on the blogs I read, which led me to spend way too much time creating this. And now, I think I hear Baby T waking up and quite possibly my own alarm clock that the Captain must have set for me...

You, too, can spend your morning creating your virtual self. Just click here.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Fourth of July!

Thank you, O God, for the freedom we have to gather in faith in our country. As we celebrate our nation’s birthday, let us be especially mindful of the rights we enjoy and our obligation to be peacemakers.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Great cards!

I hadn't realized that Pauline Press, in addition to offering wonderful books and media, also had these very cool (and suprisingly free!) ecards on their website.
Hide Out

"I can't catch a break," I moaned to the Captain on the phone this afternoon. "The children track me down wherever I go in the house. No place is sacred." (Not even the bathroom, I thought to myself. I believe I have been *interrupted* in the bathroom even by visiting neighbor children.) As evidence to support my claim, here's the advice I received from B as she over-listened to the private conversation I attempted to have today:

"I know where you can go," suggested B, "the basement."

Then she quickly amended that thought, "Yeah, but if you did that, then I would know where to find you."
Warning: Don't try this at home

Note: I did not say that this stunt was performed by trained professionals. I am suggesting, with a little hindsight, that perhaps some should have been called in for this job...

Last night, the Boy and I decided that it was finally time to put together the Captain's Father's Day gift. Knowing how much he likes the Baggo game, we thought it would be a incredibly foolish, possibly drug-induced fun, get the whole family involved, kind of Father's Day gift to make him a set of his own.

Fortunately, and this may be the first and last lucky thing you hear about this project, H's godfather cut all the wood for us ahead of time. Yes, all.the.wood. As we loaded the Suburban up with all the evenly cut pieces of our beanbag game puzzle, it couldn't have looked more simple. Really. But, somehow, when it came time to put it all together last night it was like reading the Mandarin Chinese version of the directions (which, by the way, I do not speak).
To make matters worse, we were trying to avoid asking the gift recipient for any help. First, because it was HIS gift from us and second, because the Boy was concerned his Dad wouldn't think of him as a "handy man".

The biggest troublemaker seemed to be the drill. It was like that kid in class who every time the substitute teacher turned around, he found yet another annoying way to needle her. Initially, it seemed to only spin the woodscrews around endlessly, never sinking them into the wood but somehow managing to shoot them out projectile-like at any one of the four exposed knees it saw. I was almost ready to go grab the Captain, when the Boy asked to take a look. Turning it over, from one hand to the next, he looked at me, dead serious and said, "Well, here's the trouble, you've got it set to 'evil'." And then proceeded to head out in the twilight to practice putting. Even more determined, I crouched down and inspected all angles of the wood, all the shiny little wood screws, and even the antagonistic drill. Nothing. At that point, the Boy re-emerged, energized anew with pre-teen wit and wisdom, "Let me see that drill, Mom. It just needs a good talking to, I'll take care of it..."and launched into a 5 minute chastisement of the drill. Given the time I had spent with it at that point, I almost started to feel bad for it. Almost.
Finally, the Boy recalled that his Dad had actually *taught* him to use a drill when they built the girl's playset last year. I just stared at him. My big, goofy 12 year old who at last count towered over me by about 5 inches. Now? Now, you remember? After all I've been through with this lousy, good-for-nothing drill...but I digress. So, I relinquished drill control to my adolescent helper, who decided before making any more of a mess of the wood we were using, he would drill a *test* piece. He grabbed a small cube of wood, steadied the screw and held the drill in place before he pulled the trigger. Had I known what was about to happen next, I would have yelled "FIRE IN THE HOLE!!!" and ducked for cover. Unfortunately, I was only moments away from having my eye gauged out, but my reflexes (hey, there are some benefits to parenting so many children) are still pretty quick. As the block of wood, one inch of wood screw still protruding(see picture above), landed with a thud next to me, I looked at the Boy and announced, "That's it. I'm getting your Dad," and marched in the house to pull him off of the big comfy red plaid chair and a half to come and rescue our gift-gone-wild. Within moments, it was fixed.

Although there is still the little matter of the rogue screws that need to be removed from various parts of the garage.

Just wait till the painting phase starring the 3 and 4 year olds gets underway...