All of Us

All of Us

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Christmas card 2013

christmas anonymous
View the entire collection of cards.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Day in the Life

Here's a typical day in my life.  To start with, there is NO SUCH THING as TYPICAL!!  So, today the kids had a half day of school due to high school final exams--the entire district has a half day.  I awoke early to the sound of something scrabbling under my bed.  Luckily it was only Daryl, trying to retrieve my cell phone.  I have been using it as an alarm, and have been using a new app called Sleep Cycle, which detects when you are in the lightest stage of sleep during the half hour prior to the time you must wake up by, and wakes you then.  To do this, the phone must be in your bed (up  high next to pillow) because it detects how much you move around in your sleep and uses this to determine how deeply asleep you are.  Apparently, last night my phone fell out of bed.  Daryl is training for a triathalon, and purchased some training equipment that tracks workout length, intensity, etc. which is compatible with my phone but not his.  He gets up very early to work out and has been "sneaking" my phone out of bed.  I am a data freak and the sleep cycle app collects different sleep data so I was annoyed to learn he'd been tampering with it.  So, when I leaned over the side of the bed to investigate the noise, he was quick to whisper "it's me honey".  Good thing he was quick or I'd have screamed!  I went back to sleep, only to wake an hour or so later when he returned the phone.

The kids were getting up then, so I got up, fed them breakfast, packed lunches for M. and Z., packed all of their snow clothes into tote bags (which was wishful thinking since the temperatures were too low again today to allow outdoor recess), got them dressed, fixed Z's hair, and drove them to preschool.  When I got home, I took big M's temperature because he awoke with a bad cough.  It was 99.7 so I called his playdate's mom to see if it was still ok for him to visit.  It was.  I managed to get the broken dishwasher to turn on, ran it to clean it, unloaded the 2nd dishwasher, reloaded and ran both of them.  Then I went to the basement to work out.

I lifted weights and did calisthenics, followed by Tabata.  Tabata is a new cardio workout I've been doing, which consists of 20 seconds of doing an exercise at the highest intensity possible followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes.  You choose the exercise (pushups, jumping jacks, treadmill, etc.) and it doesn't have to be the same each set.  Hard to believe, but research shows that this form of exercise increases both your aerobic and anaerobic capacity significantly more than 60 minutes of moderate exercise, as well as promoting weight loss.   For a time investment of 4 minutes (and a lot of pain--you should feel like you're dying by the end) it's certainly worth a try!

Then a world record speed shower, and raced big M to his buddy's house, raced to 2 schools to pick up kids, realizing  along the way that I had forgotten to call the schools and inform them that I would pick up the kids instead of having them ride the bus.  Made the calls mere minutes before school let out, hoping against hope that the school secretaries would be able to get a message to the classrooms in time.  Arrived at school late, relieved to see kids waiting in the single digit weather.  Raced to McDonald's, because I'd promised we would go, knowing that this would make me late to an appointment, and was dismayed to find a long, long line of cars, probably due to half day at the high school.  Accepted the fact that I would be REALLY late.

Raced kids home, then off to appointment, then home again.  I chatted with an old friend on the way home.  We are attempting to plan a girls weekend away together with some other friends.  I confessed my religion issues of late, and we had a lengthy discussion in which she tried to convince me that I must continue attending a Catholic church, because it is the one true faith.  She had some good points and nice ideas, but I'm really unsure where my faith journey will take me.

At home I attempted to open and unload the large pile of Amazon boxes that had arrived.  Once a month we receive a large amount of nonperishable grocery items ordered through amazon's subscription service.  Before I was finished, it was time to leave again, this time with Daryl, to another appointment.  I had to ask L. to pick up big M for me.  On the way to the appointment, I had to confer with L. about big M's attempts to manipulate him into taking him to McD's, the end result being that L. did take big M to McD's.  After the appointment we stopped for coffee.  On the way home we stopped and picked up M and Z from school.

Once home, Daryl did potty duty with M., who is almost totally potty trained.  We have discovered that he does a #2 at around the same time each day, and if watch him carefully we can prevent him from doing it in his pants.  He is sneaky, and will disappear into another room for a moment (even the bathroom!  how ironic) and do the deed.  Daryl was successful!  This was our 3rd day in a row of catching him.  Hopefully he will give up on the sneaking around soon and just go in the toilet.  He pees totally independently.  Just imagine, the first time in TWENTY YEARS of no one in diapers!

Meanwhile I was discovering that the recipe I'd planned to make for dinner in the pressure cooker took an unusually long time, even for a pressure cooker.  I didn't have anything else faster available, so I got dinner going.  I was unloading the dishwashers and went to put away a wine glass.   When I opened the cabinet door, out jumped a wine glass and smashed to smithereens on the counter, spraying glass in a 10 foot radius on the floor.  Of course M. finds it insulting to be told NOT to walk there until I"ve finished sweeping, so has to be repeatedly scolded and removed.  Everyone under 5 in our house finds a glass breaking extremely exciting.  While I was sweeping and cleaning the counter, big M awoke.  He'd fallen asleep on the couch after his playdate and unbeknownst to me, wet his pants (and the couch) while sleeping.  He was upset and very wet, although he swore it was SWEAT, not pee.  I convinced him to bathe, and he cried and fussed at me to fill the tub NOW the entire time I was sweeping.  I turned on the tub, helped him take off the wet clothes, and headed back downstairs to follow up with the vacuum.

Daryl and K left for basketball practice--Daryl is the coach.  I got out another wine glass and poured myself some wine.  Then I made yorkshire pudding batter and got the puddings in the oven and set the table.  L. left for soccer practice.  I went back upstairs and helped big M out of the tub, and threw in a load of wet clothes and his blankies, which had been on the couch and were wet.  I removed the couch cushion, which of course M. thought would make a great toy to jump on while I was helping big M.  Hide the cushion.  Called everyone to dinner.  I. comes down complaining of a stomachache that she's had since lunch.  When she reviews with me what she's eaten, including a chocolate shake from McD's, I conclude that it's lactose indigestion (a problem she's had before) and get up to give her some Lactaid.

Dinner was so late that it was bedtime right after dinner.  Arrived upstairs to the realization that I hadn't yet put the blankies in the dryer. While I was doing that, kids were brushing teeth, and M decided to smear the bathroom mirror with his toothbrush.   Withheld fluoride vitamin as punishment.  When I went downstairs to get his blankie, saw that he had ripped up a large pile of paper while i was finishing up dinner.  Got him and forced him to pick it up.  Tucked M. and Z. in.  As soon as I left the room Z. begins shouting it's too dark, which normally doesn't bother her.  I turn on hall light and closet light, neither of which appeases her.  After a warning to stop shouting, I shut her bedroom door.  I receive a string of insults--dumb smelly mean butthead mommy.  Ignore the yelling and eventually she shuts up.  Tuck in big M.  Daryl and K return from soccer.

I sit down to check calendar for tomorrow, send some emails, etc., find myself reading interesting blog posts, and decide to write a post myself.  During this time I review school papers and say goodnight to K and A.

I. is clearing counters and informs me that she will not wipe them because they are covered with ants.  I sigh.

L. returns from soccer practice, very upset that his car handles poorly on icy roads, that his windshield wipers need replacing, that we never had his airbags repaired, that he feels sick and never had a flu shot (he was too busy) and one of his close friends is really sick with the flu right now, and that he is worried he won't do well on his chemistry exam tomorrow despite many hours of studying, especially if he feels sick.  I issue Motrin, wash off thermometer and instruct him to take his temperature, and discuss the impact of the chem exam on his final grade, all while killing some of the ants, cleaning up crumbs and putting out some ant bait/poison.

Finish blog post and head to bed at midnight, soon to be awakened to do it all again!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Journaling

With the new year, I feel suddenly committed to chronicling my/our lives again.  I bought a new journal and some pens (and some stationery since I plan to begin writing letters as well), but I am torn between writing online or on paper.  I suppose I can save my most personal feelings for the paper journal and write about daily life here.

Thoughts to Remember About Adoptive Families

Courtesy of Ashlee Othick Andrews at http://www.thekitchenisnotmyoffice.com here are some important thoughts for friends and family of adoptive families to remember:

Our children are not necessarily grateful to have been adopted. 
And we don't expect them to be. It is not that our kids don't notice the stability of a familyIt's not that they don't cherish the love that they are receiving or that they don't like their new life. It is because children are programmed to need, want and expect love. When we provide it we are not heroes, we are simply meeting one of their very basic needs. Expecting adopted children to be grateful for being adopted is like expecting our biological children to be grateful for being conceived. It was a choice that we, their parents, made and that they were brought into. 

Parenting an adopted child is hard work and we struggle.  
We may tell you that were okay when we're really falling apart. We're worried that if we are honest about how difficult it is that you won't understand and that you'll think we're nuts. Adding a child who may or may not have anything in common with us socially, culturally, biologically or even personality-wise is challenging. Though undoubtedly beautiful and worth all of the struggles, adoption certainly isn't always easy or pretty.

It is greatly appreciated if you choose your wording carefully, especially around our children. 
Yes, these are all our "real" kids (though sometimes it would be nice if all of my kids, adopted and biological, had "off" switches) and, in most situations, you probably do not need to specify whether you are talking about my "adopted kids" or my "biological kids". They are all my kids even if they joined us through different paths.

Be considerate of the types of questions that you ask about our child's background and personal history, especially in their presence and especially if they are old enough to understand.
Would it offend you if someone asked if you have AIDS, if you were abandoned, if your parents were drug users or how your parents died? If so, best not to ask these questions to someone else. We understand that it is normal to be curious and to wonder about the circumstances that led to a child's adoption. However, these are things that we discuss openly in our immediate family but not elsewhere. Our children may or may not choose to divulge more of their personal stories someday when they are older but they are THEIR stories and details to share, not mine.

Attachment takes time and work.
It doesn't happen overnight. Even if it appears that our child is securely attached to us it may take many months or years and every child and every family bonds differently. Many times we're faking it until we make it but one day we will wake up and realize that we're not faking it anymore and that our love is deep and real.

Please refrain from commenting on our child's appearance (specifically relating to ethnicity/race) in front of him or her.
All children want to feel included and to fit in. Pointing out how dark they are, how differently they look from the rest of us or how unique their hair feels only makes them feel like they stand out more.

Please do not ask adopted children if they like their new parents/family.
Adopted children do not usually get to hand pick their family. Adoption is similar to an arranged marriage and unique, sometimes very different people are brought together. With hard work and patience true love may grow. However, ask ANY child, biological or adopted (especially any older child!) if they like their parents and be prepared for some interesting answers!

It takes time to help children start to heal from a difficult past.
Just because they have been with us for a certain amount of time does not mean that the are "fixed". On the other hand, just because children are adopted does not necessarily mean that they will be any more difficult, defiant, less successful or anything else as teenagers or adults.

Educating your children about adoption and diversity helps my children. 
Talking openly about adoption, children who look different than one or both parents and other "nontraditional" family structures helps our children feel accepted and secure at extracurricular activities, church, school and elsewhere in our community.

Please do not tell us how amazing we (parents) are because we have chosen to adopt. 
We know that this comment is usually intended as a compliment but our adopted kids are not burdens, charity cases or a community service project to be completed.  As parents we gladly invest the time and energy needed to ensure the happiness and well-being of any of our children. 

We do not advertise our child's "cost".
If you would like to know how expensive our adoption process was, please ask when our children are not present, call after our kids are in bed or send us an email. Most adoptive families are happy to share our experiences and to provide helpful information but we do not ever want our children to feel like they were bought or that they are commodities. 

When the going gets tough please do not ask if we regret our decision to adopt or imply that "we asked for it". 
Few people would tell a sleep-deprived mother of a colicky newborn "well, you asked for this" and it would be considered rude to ask a new mother if she regretted her decision to have a baby. Just because something is difficult does not mean that we regret it. There are bumps in the road of every journey.

Even the happiest of adoptions are a result of challenging or difficult circumstances. 
Though we like to think of adoption as a "happy ending", birth parents may have made difficult decisions, children may have faced losses and many lives were forever changed. Though most adopted children grow to be happy, well-adjusted adults and though most adoptive families are beautiful and full of love, it is important not to romanticize adoption. 

And, most importantly:

No one is perfect.
If you slip and call our biological kids our "real" kids or if you've already asked "What happened to his mother?" we won't hold a grudge. We know that our family is different. We understand that it is impossible to be sensitive and politically correct in every situation all the time. These are ideas and suggestions, not commandments.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

 A lot of time was spent reading on the porch,
 and reading on the beach,
 cuddling,
 and playing in the sand.

Spring Break 2012

Our high school marching band went to Disney to perform just before our spring break began.  I. is in the marching band (alto sax) and we, like many families, met her in Orlando and stayed in Florida for the rest of spring break.  The first day we visited Seaworld.  The shows were spectacular, unbelievable and amazing.  However, the weather was very hot, and there weren't many attractions available for children under 42" tall, so the majority of the day was long and frustrating.  I have never been a huge amusement park fan, and I have since realized that I just DON'T enjoy them.  Long lines, excessive prices, exhaustion...We departed around dinner time for Vero Beach where we rented a house for the rest of the week.  Here is our view from the porch.  That's right--water front!  The owners did an amazing job of having the house outfitted for a large group beach vacation.  The house is on stilts and underneath there is a lot of storage for beach toys, as well as 2 shower stalls with hot water.  It has a porch that wraps around 3 sides of the house, and coolers that remain on the porch, a hose on the path from the beach to wash feet.  The main house has 2 bedrooms and one bath, and there are 2 other bedroom "pods" attach├ęd to the porch but not to the main house, which each have sleeping for 5-6 and a bathroom and TV.  They are basically bunk rooms for  kids.  Fantastic layout!  And very reasonably priced.

Tornado

On Mar. 15, 2012, an F3 tornado struck the small town we live in.  Remarkably, although many homes were badly damaged or entirely destroyed, no one was badly injured or killed.  We were home, in our basement, taking cover.  The tornado went right by us--we heard the "freight train" sound--but did not touch our home or property.  It literally came down our road, knocking down almost every tree for a 2 mile stretch, but for some reason skipped over our house and several others.  Sadly, the tree line road with a beautiful canopy of leaves is entirely demolished--our local landscape will never be the same.  Once again, we can't be thankful enough that not only was our home and family spared, but so were the 200 year old oaks in our front yard.  We live across the road from a large metro park, and it looks as though a giant rampaged through it tearing handfuls of trees out.  Entire sections of forest are leveled.

Marathon

In Mar. 2012 Daryl ran his first marathon in Napa Valley, CA.  I went to cheer him along (and enjoy the wine!).  Here he is at the finish!

Zs 4th birthday

Here is Z. on her 4th birthday (Jan. 2012).  Among other things, she received a ukelele as a gift.

Ring Redone

As part of my Christmas gift, we had my wedding ring done.  It was much too small and in very bad shape, so I hadn't worn it in several years.  The new ring is a wide band of rose gold with leafy cutouts.  The top and bottom are banded with a row of alternating tiny circle cutouts and tiny diamonds.  The two paisley shaped antiqued swirls on either side of the diamond are my original setting, which I had mounted on the rose gold base.  The original setting is yellow gold.  And of course, in the middle is the diamond.

Legally Ours!

In late November we had our day in court with M. and Z. and the judge proclaimed them legally ours!  She also approved their name changes, so now we all match.  Here they are dressed for court.

Heading Outside

Despite the fact that we had almost no snow this winter, there was at least one occasion when they all donned jackets, boot, snow pants, hats and gloves to go play.  Here is A. (back row) M. and Z.

First Day of School 2011

J., L, and I. on the first day of high school this year.

Halloween 2011

I'm just going to randomly post things from different points in time since it seems like too much effort to make them chronological at this point.Here is Z.being a Halloween princess.

M. was a pumpkin, the traditional 2 year old costume, which was worn by ALL of his older siblings.


Publishing

Hi internet friends!  I want to continue/resume blogging but would also like to print hard copies so it's a journal my family will have to keep some day.  Can I do this on blogger or any ideas about websites where I can?  Comment away...

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Homecoming Dance 2011

J, L and I by PaulaK
J, L and I, a photo by PaulaK on Flickr.

J. didn't go to the dance, but she and her boyfriend went out to dinner. And yes, that is a 3rd and different dress that I is wearing. The turquoise gown she wore to the football game was her sister's prom dress from last year.

Getting ready to leave for the game

Brother and sister by PaulaK
Brother and sister, a photo by PaulaK on Flickr.

Sister and Brother

How beautiful are they?

Homecoming 2011

D, I and L   Homecoming 2011 by PaulaK
D, I and L Homecoming 2011, a photo by PaulaK on Flickr.

After much agonizing, I decided to have her brothers walk her out onto the football field instead of her dad. He didn't mind at all, and many of the other girls did the same thing (which is most important, unfortunately, when you are 14!)

Siblings

J, I, D and L by PaulaK
J, I, D and L, a photo by PaulaK on Flickr.

This was taken at halftime of the football game. You can't tell but it was extremely cold, about 44 with whipping wind and pouring rain. I is a marvelous actress, but you should have seen her once the cameras stopped!

Freshman court

I in purple by PaulaK
I in purple, a photo by PaulaK on Flickr.

sisters

sisters by PaulaK
sisters, a photo by PaulaK on Flickr.

J and I. I was on Homecoming court. This was what she wore for the parade and school assembly.

About Me

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SE Michigan, United States
Mother to 10 fabulous kids, ages 4 to 21 years! Married for 26 years to my best friend.

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