Thursday, March 31, 2011

Two Week Progress Report

The chicks are getting big.

They've definitely reached that gangly, uncomfortable-in-their-own-skin look what with the down and the feathers competing for space, their necks getting longer and their feet getting bigger. They look like your average teenager.




But at the same time they're so darned cute.



What with all their peep-peep-peeps and the running around, scratching, perpetually looking for SOMEthing, even if they don't know what.



They love their little treats of bread crumbs and minced-up apple and come running when I say here, chick, chick, chick.

Hey, look at me. I could be a hand model for the cover of Today's Hobby Farmer.



Wonder if my kids could be so well trained. Probably not with scraps of stale bread. M and Ms? Not likely. Debit cards? That might work.





Heeeeere click, click, click.....

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Week at a Glance

OK, I know I've made light of some of my school's calendar items, but this one takes the cake (or should I say the toast).

This particular calendar was actually from a couple weeks ago, but somehow I just never got around to blogging about it. But without further adieu, I give you,

Week at a Glance......

Monday
National Common Courtesy Day

How do you do?
Very well, thank you. How do YOU do?



Tuesday
International Goof Off Day

Feel like goin' to school today?
Nah, I'd rather sit home and goof off.



Wednesday
Toast Day

Seriously, you can't make this stuff up ....


Thursday
National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day

I have to wonder if this fell on the day that I dropped a Raisinet from my shirt while getting dressed.....


Friday
International Waffle Day

and......wait for it ......

Pecan Day

I think this is the special over at IHOP.


I'm guessing that each day a lesson is learned, a skill acquired, so that by Friday you can combine them all into this:

How do you do? Would you like me to treat you to breakfast?

Sure, let's goof off and skip school and head over to IHOP!

Shall I buy you some toast?

Don't feel like toast.

Shall I buy you some chocolate-covered raisins?

Uh-uh.

Some pecan-topped waffles, perhaps?

THAT'S IT!!!!!!



I think I get an A for the week, don't you?

Seriously, though, WTH?
Only thing I can figure is that I'm misreading these calendars. You know how you're not supposed to go grocery shopping if you're hungry b/c everything looks yummy and you buy way more than you need? Maybe I need to eat a nutritious meal before I download these calendars.

Maybe Toast Day was really Host Day in honor of our school's exchange students.

Could be that Chocolate Covered Raisin Day was actually Sustainable Grazing Day to teach our kids about agriculture.

Perhaps International Waffle Day and Pecan Day were really .....
OK, I got nothin'.


Today is International Click The Brown Button To Vote For Me Day.
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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Not Fair!

Apparently I live in a house with 6 young justices, because all I ever seem to hear around here is

NOT FAIR!

For instance....

Rosie: Mom, how much longer will the chicks be in my bathtub?
Me: Partly depends on the weather, but roughly another 2 weeks.
R: NOT FAIR!

Mind you, she's the only one of the kids with her own bathroom. Not exactly sure how that's fair, but whatever ....

Bella: Can I have a soda?
Me: No.
B: NOT FAIR!

Doesn't seem fair that I'm the one paying the dentist for your rotten teeth, either, but OK....

Julie: Can I watch this movie?
Me: No.
j: NOT FAIR!

That is NOT not fair. What would be not fair is if I had to calm your fears in the middle of the night or share my bed with you because you watched a rated R movie about some evil dead thing ripping people's throats out.

Patrick: Mommmmmmm! Daniel is being annoying and inappropriate and I've asked him a bunch of times to stop and he won't listen!
Me (to Daniel: Go pick up your pony's halter that he lost, it's just inside the gate near the pond, and put it in the barn. Also take this bag of lettuce and stuff and feed it to the bunnies.
D: NOT FAIR!

Is it fair to be treated rudely? Sorry bud, but when you disrespect your brothers and sisters, you write yourself a ticket for extra chores.

Me (to James): Empty the dishwasher, please.
J: NOT FAIR! I already emptied it today.
Me: Too bad.

The dishwasher is your chore this week and sometimes that means emptying it twice in one day. Get over it.

Patrick: Can I have early screens?
Me: No.
P: NOT FAIR!

Is it fair that I may someday have to support your lazy a** if you don't get good a good job
b/c you didn't get into college
b/c you didn't get good grades in high school
b/c you didn't do your homework
b/c you were too busy playing x-box?

I think not.



Me: Click the button to vote for me.
You: NOT FAIR!
Me: Life's not fair. Get over it. Now click the button.


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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Limitless

Took a few of the kids to see Limitless this afternoon.

Good movie. Enjoyed it immensely. Though I have to say, calling it PG-13 was a stretch of someone's imagination.

And if you haven't seen the previews, I'll give you the nutshell: Bradley Cooper is offered a drug by an acquaintance, with the promise that it will allow him to access 100% of his brain, as opposed to the measly 20% we can normally lay our hands on. And his life soars to new heights. He becomes a best-selling author and creates riches untold from the stock market and so on and so forth.

On the drive home, two things happened.

First, I began speaking in tongues, spewing forth the anti-drug sermon to the kids. That's one of those out-of-body experiences that only Moms can relate to. It is automatic and completely out of our control. It just happens.

Second, I began to mentally compile a list of what I would wish to accomplish if I could suddenly access 100% of my brain.

And here's what I've come up with so far.....

1) Play the stock market to make a few quick million. Oh, not so I could jetset. I'm a humble gal. All I want is college funds for the kids, a new kitchen sink, and maybe some new fencing. And is it so wrong of me to want a chauffeur and a personal chef, too? And sue me if I want weekly spa treatments. A stressed-out Mama needs a good back massage now and again.

2) Read all the books that I've ever wanted to read and finish writing all that I've ever hoped to write.

3) Burn and destroy all my many forms of calendars, be they digital, dry-erase, or the freebie from the feed store. I would keep all appointments, parties, soccer games, playdates, farrier visits, IEP meetings, and homework due dates in my magnificently efficient superbrain.

4) Become fluent in Russian, French, Italian, Chinese, and that African clicking language.

5) Learn to the point of mastery all aspects of animal husbandry, thus eliminating all appointments with the vet and the farrier.
Of course, learning this one skill alone may exclude my need for both becoming rich and for mentally organizing all my appointments.

6) Be as good ....no no....hope to be as good as the juggling chick on the Top Mommy Blogs voting button so I could literally juggle the cupcake, weights, the rolling pin, computer, apple, the budget and the blissful baby.

What more could one hope for, after all....?




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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lost .....and Found

Bouncing and swaying in my seat, I picked at the rip in the green vinyl bench beside my leg as I stared intently out the small window fogged with breath and fingerprints and snot.

I was looking for my house.

This was my first time riding a school bus. I knew to get on the bus heading to the south end of The Island, but I did not know my stop. My brother was on the middle school bus. My sister, on the early elementary school bus. I was alone.

Ask the bus driver, I told myself.
But my throat was tight with embarrassment and fear.

Any ten year old child should know their bus stop.

So I watched out the window, hoping I would see my house from the Boulevard.

I knew what it looked like, this new house that was now my home. We moved in about a week ago, over Christmas break. It was beautiful. It was big. The dunes were just steps away from this oceanfront home with brown cedar shingles and yellow trim.

Of course, we didn't own the house. We didn't even live in it. We lived in the little apartment above the garage. Church mice. The Bishop owned the house and he lived there some weekends and a good bit over the summer. Mommy had taken a job as his housekeeper and cook.

I always thought the change I put in the collection baskets went to feeding the poor.....

With the sleeve of my winter coat I cleared away my breath from the window, but I still couldn't see far enough up the side streets to recognize our house.

I could get off the bus if I see a payphone, I thought.

But who to call? Mommy? I didn't know our new phone number yet.
The police? I didn't know what address to tell them.

I thought it would be exciting to ride a bus. When I was younger, and my parents were still together, my brother and sister and I went to Catholic school, and Daddy drove us there on his way to work.
When my parents divorced we moved to this quiet place on the Jersey shore. A cold and desolate place, she had already slipped into her winter coma by the time we arrived. Our home was the back half of a second floor unit, and it was right on the bay and only a couple blocks from my new school. So different from the two story Victorian with the green yard and the swing set and the picket fence and the climbing trees. The new house was small, just four rooms in all. But it had a dock. And the whole yard was sand and gravel. So cool.

We weren't there long (a few months?) before we
suddenly.....inexplicably
moved to Kentucky to live with Daddy. There were so many things my brother and sister and I didn't understand. But what can you do? You do what the grown-ups tell you. You go where they tell you to go. You don't ask questions.

But we weren't there long (less than a year?) before we
suddenly......inexplicably
moved back to New Jersey to live with Mommy. Only now we had a new baby sister.
So much to understand.
Don't ask questions.


We did not move back into the little house on the bay. We moved into the apartment above the Bishop's garage, in his brown cedar shingle house with the yellow trim.

If I thought the house on Bayview was small, this was tiny. A living/dining area with a strip of kitchen along the back wall. A small bath. One bedroom. My baby sister was in her crib. My younger sister and I shared the twin bed, and my brother slept on the trundle bed that we pulled out from beneath ours each night. Mommy slept on the couch.

This was the 8th house (or 9th?) that I had lived in.
Still, I would recognize it. If only I could see it.


And then, the last stop. The remaining three kids stood up and gathered their books and began shuffling their way to the front. I got up and moved forward with them, trying to appear confident, praying I wouldn't get caught by the bus driver.

My feet connected with the pavement. The bus door whooshed shut behind me. A gust of wind stole my breath.

I turned eastward, toward the sea, toward my home, and marched across the empty lanes of the wide road. I walked with conviction the block or two till I arrived at Ocean Blvd. I knew with certainty that my house was on this street. But where? I looked left. I looked right.

I had no clue.

It occurred to me that I would be able to recognize it more easily from the beach. So I walked straight ahead, wavering only slightly as the road disappeared from beneath my feet and became the endless sand that grabbed at me and struggled to pull me under; to swallow me.
Once I crested the dunes, with the eternal ocean before me, I paused again and wondered,

Which way?

In the coin-toss of my mind, I turned right, towards the southern tip of The Island.

I don't know how long I walked.
I walked with purpose, my head shifting constantly from the sand before me to the ocean on my left, to the houses on my right.
I walked till my legs and feet ached with the effort of battling the sand.
I walked until my hands and face were numb with the cold. Numb from the wintry seaspray carried on the biting wind.

I thought many times that perhaps I should turn and walk the other direction. But what if my house was on the next block?

One more block.
One more.... one more .....

The light was fading.
The salt of my tears, so cold against my face, mixed with the salt of the ocean and left my face raw and chapped.

I was afraid.

I looked out at the ocean and saw a gull afloat on the waves.

Adrift.

I was adrift.

I was lost.

A child lost to poverty.

A child who had lost her father. Like the bridge that tenuously connected the strip of island to the mainland, so the chasm between my father and myself was spanned. Separated by a vast distance, physical and otherwise, yet still tethered thinly together.

A child lost from her mother. No physical distance to separate us, not with the close living quarters, yet unreachable nevertheless. She was the alluring sandbar that looked so welcoming with its clear, gentle waters to splash in. So close, almost within reach, yet separated by a gulf of dark, swirling water. The sandbar could only be reached by chancing the riptide. So much promise, so much risk. There was no bridge to safely cross over to connect with her. To connect with her mind. She was an island within an island.

A child lost in the most literal sense, as I did not know how to find my way home.

Lost in every sense of the word.

I began to pray.

I prayed for home. I prayed for my mother's arms. I prayed for the scanty warmth of the baseboard heater. I prayed that God would send me a sign. I prayed that He would carry me home.

And He sent me a sign.

As I trudged on, and wiped at my tears and my leaking nose with the back of my sleeve, I began to notice....

Everyone was walking the other way.

Every person (though there were not many).
Every dog.
Even the seagulls all seemed to be flying north.

I took this as my sign. I turned about and started walking with renewed purpose. Now with the ocean to my right, the houses on my left, and the northern tip of The Island, with its lighthouse, many miles straight ahead.

I felt rejuvenated. I felt determination creeping into my soul. The wind dried my tears and I pressed on, picking up speed.

When I turned in the direction I was pointed, I left behind my fears, my indecision, my feeling of being adrift on an uncertain sea. I shed them; they fell off me and pooled briefly in my footsteps before sinking into the sand, gone forever. I would not define myself as lost. Not lost to poverty, or distant parents, or dependence on others for my fate.

The tide was coming in. The waves were crashing forcefully on the shore, creeping closer and closer up the beach, threatening to steal me away.

But they would not take me.
They would not take me from my home.

I was no longer lost.

This place was home.

My mother was home, even when her mind carried her far away.

My brother, my sisters were home.

Most importantly, I was home in myself. In my heart, my soul, my strength, my thoughts and ideas and faith. Home.

And then, with the light nearly gone from the sky, up on the left nestled in the dunes, sat the brown shingled house with yellow trim, with light spilling from the windows of the little apartment above the garage.


God had carried me home.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Slapped, Shot or Sued

My sister visited last week with her one year old son.

Kind of brought me back to the days when mine were little. Sigh ....

Also made me recall all the things we, as mothers, do with our children. Things that, if we did them to anyone else, we would get

slapped, shot or sued.

A small list:

Putting nose to bottom and taking a big whiff

Giving the diapered crotchal region a good squeeze

Wiping snot/boogers off the face with our fingers

Cleaning faces with our saliva

Reaching into a slobbery mouth to retrieve a handful of saliva-coated
dog food, legos, grass

Discussing with others the shape, size, consistency and frequency of another's bowel movements

Asking if they've pooped

Asking if they've wiped

Asking to look to double check

Putting hands inside
toilets, garbage cans,diapers
to retrieve lost/hidden/tossed items

Asking someone if they have to poop or pee

Telling someone they have to poop or pee

Demanding of someone that they MUST poop or pee on command this instant



Sigh. Guess I'm kinda glad mine are older now.

Though I've still been known to put nose to armpit and take a big whiff.....



Go poop. DO IT NOW! And then come back and click the button.
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

One Week Progress Report

So we've had the chicks a week now and have suffered no losses.

No death.
No disease.
No missing chicks.
No unfortunate accidents.

Praise be, I'm still at 100%.

They've changed a lot in a week. They're starting to lose some of their down and their feathers are coming in. Their beaks are growing longer. Still cute, but next week? Maybe not so much.
We'll see.

They're starting to look different from each other now too. So of course the kids are picking favorites and applying names.

Though with my history with chickens, naming is probably not such a good idea.


This is the one Bella picked out. She's a Golden-Laced Polish and her name is Tizzy. She's the biggest of the bunch.








This one is too cute and my personal favorite. She is Daniel's chick and he has named her Nugget. Yes, as in Chicken _____.
Sick.









Here is Julie's litle chickadee, Pox. She is one of the Ameracaunas.











This here is Rosie's chick, Speckles. She's the other Ameracauna.









These are my three Buff Orpingtons, Big Mama, Puddin' and Goldie. They've changed the least in the past week. Smaller and less feathered than the others.










The whole gang.
Wait. 1, 2, 3........14. Yep. All there.













The Sleepy Bunch











Chick, chick, CLICK!
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Tooth Valet

The kids are getting so old, Fred said as he was geting ready for bed.

Ruh roh. What happened?

Well I went to check on all of them and to take care of the Tooth Fairy business like we talked about. And I said to him, 'Well, young man, I understand you lost a tooth this evening' and he said 'Yep' and he stretched his cheek just about over his ear to show me the new gap.

OK...

And so I said to him, Did you put your tooth under your pillow? But he just stopped in his tracks and gave me one of those looks and said, 'DAD'.

You mean one of those smug don't-you-dare-disrespect-me-by-presuming-I'm-still-a-child looks?

Yeah. One of those.

So then what?

Well, he said he left his tooth downstairs. So I said, well, OK then, I guess I'll say goodnight. And I reached out to shake his hand and I slipped him the dollar.

You mean like how you would tip a valet?

Yeah, I guess so.

Well. That's kinda sad. But maybe this will make things easier on us. Maybe from now on Santa can just slip each of them a Visa card.




Click the button. Then go brush your teeth.


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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Twitterpations, Interrupted

Bella: MOM! You'll nevuh believe it! You-know-who asked me to sit next to him on duh bus today!

Me: What? What happened? Tell me all about it!

B: OK, well come over here, away from duh boyzzzzzz.

Me: OK, so tell....

B: Well, I was sitting on duh mat doing my math and M came ovuh and said, "Do you want to sit with me on the bus today?" And I said OK, and den my bwain stawted thinkin' bout othuh stuff cuz I don't know what it was thinking bout and ....

James: Mommmmmm! Patrick is sooooo creeeeeeepy!

Me: Hold on a sec, Bella.
What did he do?

J: I was in duh bafroom, an I was doin my process, and when I opened duh door, Patrick was sitting on duh kitchen stool right outside duh bafroom door and he was just staring and waiting for me to come out. He was sooooo creeeeepy!

Me: Ummm, OK, well I think you can manage that one without my help.
OK, Bella, go ahead. What else?

B:So we was on duh bus and he was showing me his DS and it had a dog on it and it was a puppy and it was soooo cute! And den Lexie wanted some snacks and she wanted M-n-Ms but I gave huh some waisins and dere was a lot uh weally big waisins and....

J: Mommmmmmmmmmmm!

Me: Hold on, Bella...
What James?

J: I ran into your bafroom to get away from Patrick, and I locked duh door, and I was peein', and den I heard knockin' on duh window and I heard my name and I looked out duh window and Patrick was on duh balcony and he was lookin' in the window and sayin my name and it was sooooo creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeepy!

Me: Yes. That is without a doubt creepy. I still think this is something you can handle.

Bella(talking into the phone): .....so ummmm, maybe we could like, sit next to each uduh on duh bus again tomowwow and ummmm.....I liked dat and like....I'll see you in school tomowwow and um......just to tell you I like you and ummm..... call me OK?

Julie (who overheard the phone conversation): Bella, you should NOT have said you liked him on the phone! Because now his mother and his whole family will hear the message that you like him! This is not goot. Oh this is not goot.

bella: No, I was just tawking to M!

Me: Bella, honey, you left a message on his answering machine. You know how they work, right? You know anyone in his family could hear that, right?

Bella (Hanging head): No! No no no! I ony wanted M to heah dat! I need to take it back!

Me: Sorry, babe. There's no taking it back. But that's OK. I think it's kind of sweet. I'm sure he will too. And his family probably won't hear it except maybe his Mom. And I think his Mom already knows you like him ayway, so it's OK.

Bella (now sitting in my lap): Oh I can't bewieve I did dat. I'm going to be embawwassed when I see him tomowwow.

Me: Don't you worry another minute about it darlin'. It'll all be fine. You just remember how it felt when he asked if you would sit next to him.

Bella (with eyelashes fluttering and hands clasped under her chin): Ahhhh. It was SO wo-MAN-tic!


Click here if you believe in love ....
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Monday, March 21, 2011

Oops

I let the day get away from me without writing.

I could blame it on my *%@#&^% computer, which taunts me with its connectivity one minute and then whips it out from under my feet the next.

Jezebel.

I could blame it on having to clean out the chicks' water dish 3 times today b/c they keep clogging it with wood chips that soak up all the water and then they stare at me with their little beady chickie eyes. Pleading silently for water, water ....

I could blame it on possibly finding the solution to that problem by placing 2 bricks under the water dish so it sits up higher out of the bedding.

Or on the fact that while I was in the barn to fetch the bricks I got distracted and before I knew it I had built a little hutch within their room as well as a small table for their food and water dishes for when I move the chicks out of the tub and into the Chick Shack.

Or if I want to sound more like a good mother and less like a grungy farmhand, I could blame it on making some homemade Play Doh with the kids, using a neat recipe I found that uses Kool Aid packs to flavor and scent the dough. We played with it (myself + all the kids but the oldest) for like an hour. Some of our sculptures included a foot, a beanie-sportin' snowman sticking his tongue out, severed fingers, hearts proclaiming undying fidelity to the one and only Justin Bieber, and a newly-hatched-still-in-the-shell chick.

Oh well. As pathetic as it sounds, it's 9:45 and this good-mother/grungy farmhand is heading to bed.

Better luck tomorrow.
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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dream Weaver


My kids are going to need so much therapy.
So much.

Driving Rosie and her friend Maggie in to their play this morning she related last night's dream to me.

And if you'll recall, it is her bathtub that our new chicks are residing in.

R: I had a dream last night that I went into my bathroom and the tub was filled with water and the chicks were floating in it. Some were dead and some were still alive and I was trying to save them. And there were also these little tiny black things that were the heads of some birds. I told you, 'These birds killed some of our chicks' and you were like, 'Yeah I know' like you didn't even care and I said 'well how did they get in past 3 doors' and you just said they were super tiny, like that explained everything.

Me: That's so sad that you were having to save drowning chicks in the bathtub in your dream!

R: Oh but it gets worse. Because then I was trying to help you build a new enclosure for them, but it was all open on one side and I was like, 'Aren't the foxes gonna get them?' and you said, 'Nahh, I wouldn't worry about that' and then these geese kind of moved in to live with the chicks. But the geese had their wings sewed on with pink and green fabric and they had button eyes. And there was like a Grandma Goose and a Grandpa Goose and you were talking to the Grandma Goose and I was like, 'Do you know her?" and you said, 'Oh, yeah, I know her, she's in my chicken group'.

Maggie: Chicken group?

R: Yeah. My Mom belongs to a chicken group.
Accompanied by much eye-rolling and suppressed giggles.

Me: Don't laugh! It's true, I belong to a chicken group. It's a very informative listserv where I can post questions and get lots of feedback and in fact just this morning I learned from Ol' George.....

R: Ol' George, Mom?

Me: Yes, Ol' George. He's a wisened old man with a plethora of information and good advice on raising chickens and he has a fondness for Rhode Island Reds. He is a sage.

R: Mom, have you learned nothing about cyber safety? He's probably a pimply 13 year old boy having a good laugh at your expense.

Me: I think not.

R: Anyway. In the dream you were talking to this Grandma Goose like you were old friends and you told me you were trying to make more friends. You were trying to expand your social circles.

Me: That is just so sad on so many levels.....



All: Silence for awhile.

Pensive, heavy silence.



Maggie: I had a dream about dancing Twizzlers.



Why do my children have to have dreams about drowning baby chicks?
And geese with sewed on wings and button eyes?

What can't my children have dreams about dancing Twizzlers?


Click here if you think we can be saved....
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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Let the Carnage Begin

My chicks arrived Thursday morning.

They're cute as, well,
little fuzzy baby chicks.

They are tiny and they sit in the palm of your hand and they go peep-peep-peep.

But I know their days of being adorable are numbered.
I just stopped into my local feed store to get a new heat lamp and saw they had some chicks for sale.

2 1/2 week old chicks.

Not so cute.

Bigger.
No longer going peep-peep-peep.
Walking all over their smelly green poo.
Feathers beginning to come in every which way.
Not in that cute-soft-fuzzy sort of way, but more like the chin-stubble-of-a-teenage-boy kind of way.

Oh well. The kids and I will enjoy a bit of precious while it lasts.

The thing that I dread more than the loss of their cuteness is the approach of their certain demise.

See, I have a not-so-strong history with chickens.

The first time I got them I did not fully appreciate the importance of a fortress-like chicken coop. I had a stall in the barn all decked out for them, but my barn was by no means critter-proof.
Needless to say, I came out one morning to find a bunch of feathers, a piece of wing here or there, and not much else. They were good eats for the foxes.

And it was a lot of chickens, so one of those clever foxes must've gotten the idea to do a delivery service that night. Or somethin.
I'm just saying, it was a lot of chickens.

But that was years ago.
I'm older and wiser now.

I've got a varmint-proof room in my barn all ready for my little chickadees.
But even that didn't satisfy me. I was afraid their heat-lamp might mysteriously malfunction in the middle of the night and they would freeze to death all huddled in a ball of cuteness.

Chicksicles.

So I'm keeping them inside for a while.

In Rosie's bathtub.

How does a 13 year old girl feel about having to share her bathroom with a dozen or so chicks?
Oh she's good for now because of the teenage-girl-affinity-for-all-things-adorable thing.
But I know in two weeks' time, when their stench overpowers the rankor of her bathroom, she will be peeping a different tune.

When they're ugly.
And smelly.
And loud.
And messy.
And have I mentioned smelly?














Our farmdog Annabelle surveying her new charges.
Chicken tenders?

















The chickies are 'ere!





















High-brow facilities



Click here if you want chicken for dinner.
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Friday, March 18, 2011

In the Words of Robert Plant

"Might as well face it I'm addicted to ...."

chocolate.

The other day I was picking out something to wear. I pulled a shirt out of my closet. I had worn it a couple days earlier, but I had hung it back up b/c I thought it was still pretty clean.

As I was putting on the shirt, I saw something fall to the ground.

I looked at it.

In the dim morning light it looked a bit like an engorged tick.

Kind of early in the year for that.

What was it?

I bent closer to get a better look.

Not a tick.

I picked it up.

I smelled it.

Ahh yes! It was a Raisinet.

From the movies.

I literally have chocolate dropping off my body now.

Is that a red flag?

Is it perhaps time for a 12 step program?


Click here if you think I need help.....
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Meeting My Babies Part 3: The Child Not Chosen

Meeting Ylia

The Child Not Chosen

I chose
my babies by birth
in the quiet before you were born.

I did not know you.
I did not choose you.

I chose
Bella as my own.
With Bella you shared a roof.
With Bella you shared Mamas.

But I did not know you.
I did not choose you.

I chose
Borya as a son of my heart.

With Borya you shared distant memories of another roof.
Of another mother.

But I did not know you
and I did not choose you.

I was told I could take Borya as my son.
Not just of my heart
but of my home. My family.

I chose to begin the journey that would take me to him.

I was told
by men unknown to me
from the land of your birth
that I was to be your mother.

I did not know you.
I did not choose you.

Others chose you.

I heard words.
I heard special needs.
I heard ten years old.
I heard if Borya was to be my child
you would be my child.

I was angry.
I did not choose you.



God chose you.



God chose me.




God tried to quiet my angry heart and take me by the hand to lead me to you.
But I was angry and hid my hands behind my back.

I crossed dark oceans and sleeping lands.
I found myself in the land of your birth.
I found myself in a sorrowful building.

I was reunited with my son
and cried tears of joy.
My heart was full.

I did not choose you.

I found myself looking towards an opening door.
I found myself looking into beseeching eyes.

Eyes of loneliness
Eyes of questions
Eyes of searching and longing and hope.

Could I choose you?

I came to see you.
I came to know you.

I looked in your beautiful eyes.

Eyes of love
Eyes of joy
Eyes of mischief
Eyes of searching and longing and hope.

Eyes of God.

Eyes of my daughter.

I choose you.
I choose you.
I choose you.


Daughter of my heart
Daughter of my family
Daughter of God.

I choose you.






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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Newsworthy

On my Yahoo homepage there is a news events scroll bar, with several pictures and captions to choose from.

Today when I looked over the newsworthy items, the first two caught my eye, more for the sheer lunacy of their juxtaposition than anything else.

The first:
Japan Faces Nuclear Crisis
As I looked at the image and reviewed in my mind all that had been happening in Japan over the last week, my heart broke. I thought of all the families who had lost loved ones in the tsunami. All the Mamas literally fighting for the very survival of their babies. And now radiation? What else could possibly happen?

The next:
Bachelor Makes Final Decision
Really.

Really????

Unless the bachelor has made a decision as to

how to provide food, clean water, and shelter to the millions of Japanese citizens in need

or

how to contain the radiation leaking as we speak from the damaged housing of the nuclear reactors

or

how to identify, clean up, and notify next of kin for the thousands upon thousands of men, women and children killed by the tsunami

then I honestly do not want to know what decision he has made that is so earth-shattering.

Don't get me wrong. I like shallow, mind-numbing TV as much as the next gal.

And hey, I'm all for arranged marriages, I mean, who isn't?

All I ask is for a modicum of sensitivity and common sense when deciding where to place this news nugget.



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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Daylight Savings

Last year I really screwed up the whole Daylight Savings thing.

I was planning a surprise party for James over at the bowling alley. Everything was going according to my well-laid plans when I got a call from one of his friends...
"Hey, Mrs. G, isn't the party starting at 1?"

"Yes, why?"

"Well, cuz I'm here but no one else is."

"Well, you big goofball, it's only 12:15."

"No it's not. It's 1:15. We turned the clocks ahead last night."

Oh holy crap. Needless to say it was pretty ruined. We still managed to pull off a modicum of surprise by scrapping my original plans and changing things all around, but I went from one of those I'm-the-queen-of-the-universe moods to one of those I'm-a-big-bag-of-poop moods. And the rest of the day it stayed with me and just soured my whole weekend.

So this year I was sooooo ready for it. The kids had off school on Friday and we went to the bookstore and went to the movies and grabbed dinner out and in general kicked off our weekend a day early.

So when I hopped on the computer Fri night and realized that it was DST weekend, I immediately jumped up and started turning all the clocks ahead early. Hours early. I wasn't waiting till 2am. Or morning. I was taking no chances this year.

So the next morning rolled around and I woke up early and got Rosie up so she could get ready to go to play practice. We had breakfast and coffee and got dressed and brushed our teeth and she packed her lunch and off we drove to the school.

And when we got there the parking lot was empty. The doors were locked. She was knock-knock-knocking but wasn't nobody answering.

Ha! I thought.
I'm the only one out of all the play parents that remembered to turn the clocks ahead! What a bunch of nincumpoops they all are. I in my efficiency-glory laugh at them.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Hahahahahahahahaha.

Haha.

Ha........

Oh crap. The clocks get turned ahead on Saturday night. Last night was Friday night.

Big-bag-of-poop mood once again.

The upside was that since it didn't make sense to go all the way home again, we went to Starbucks instead. And we had coffee and breakfast
pay no attention to where I wrote we had coffee and breakfast at home already
Julie was with us, too, and of course the two of them were models of deportment blowing straw wrappers at each other and dribbling drool down their chins. Sometimes the wrappers misfired.
R: Ewww, MOM, she spit liquid in my hair! I feel fluid in my locks.
J: It was by accidentally I did it! Wait. Logs? What's logs?
Me: Logs are blocks of wood, Y. But she said locks.
J: Locks? Like combinations?
Me: No. Locks can mean hair.
R: Rosie has locks in her hair? I don't understand.

Me: Me neither. Come on, it's time to go back to the school.

And when we showed up "on time" I could have almost felt redeemed except that Rosie ratted me out to all her friends and the teachers involved.

Wonder how I can mess it up next year? I'm running out of ways. I'm sure I'll think of something.

Can't I just opt to save something else instead? I mean, do we alllll have to save the daylight?

I think it's redundant.


Tick-tock, click-clock.....
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Monday, March 14, 2011

Meeting My Babies - Part Dva

Most readers of this blog are familiar with the story of how I met Borya. You can find it in my sidebar. You can find it in my Origins of a Blog page. You can find it in my earlier posts.

But sometimes a good thing needs a retelling.

Meeting Borya
It was August. 2003. I sat there in the dusty play yard on the worn bench feeling more than a little overwhelmed.

Bella was on my lap and I couldn't believe how much love I could feel for this tiny child that I had only just met for the first time yesterday.

We were in a dreamlike mother-child honeymoon of cuddles and songs and hugs and eye gazing. There wasn't a scrap of doubt that this was my daughter, and that this was meant to be. Visiting with her twice a day for the next two weeks was a beurocratic formality in my mind. I could hop on a plane to take her home with me tonight if they'd let me. But this was Kazakhstan. They would not let me.

I rocked Bella back and forth in my lap, embracing her tightly, and hummed softly in her ear. And I looked all around me at the children. Children swirling around me like the dust of the yard. Children laughing and dancing and fighting and all speaking in Russian. In turns, they would come stand before me to look and wonder. They glanced at Bella and then at me, and I knew they were asking themselves,
"Why her?"

I knew,
before I ever arrived at the Detsky Dom,
before I got on the plane to fly to the other side of the world,
before I even thought up the concept of adopting a child,

that there were orphans in the world. Children living without families.

But until I sat in this yard, I never thought what that meant. I never put faces with the word "orphans". But now I was here. And they were here. In the flesh. laughing and dancing and fighting and all speaking in Russian.

These were Real Children. Oh my God.

Oh. My. God.

'Orphans the Idea' was transitioning into 'Orphans the Reality' right before me. My heart was beginning to race. Why did I never think of what this would mean to me, what this would feel like to be sitting among all the little children without Mamas? I knew myself better than that. Jesus, Mary and Joseph I could't even walk into an animal shelter without wanting to take them all home, why did I think I could do this?

And then, a tap on the shoulder.

I turned and looked into the brown eyes of a boy. A young boy about 7 or 8 years old perhaps, with a smattering of freckles across his nose and cheeks. He smiled softly and spoke quietly in Russian, never breaking his gaze. I turned to my translator seated next to me. "What did he say?"
"He said, 'Can you find me a Mama too?' "

That was it. I looked back at this beautiful little child and the tears began to spill from my eyes. I was crying. I hugged Bella to me even tighter as I wept for this little boy, and for all the children there.

"Tell him I will do whatever I can to find him a Mama", I whispered.

And I sat in the dusty play yard on the worn bench, and I cried.


It was October, 2008. Years had passed since I had first met Borya in the play yard. And here I was again,
halfway around the world,
sitting in a stifling room smelling of ammonia and cabbage,
at the end of a five year journey.


We had vowed to help him.
We lost him.
We found him.
We were told we could adopt him.
We were granted approval of our dossier and permission to travel.

And I sat in the suffocating room feeling more than a little overwhelmed.
It had been five years.
How would he feel when he saw me again?
How would I feel?
My head was spinning, my heart racing....

At long last, the door opened, and Borya walked in. And just like that, the stress and uncertainty were gone. We moved towards each other and I wrapped my arms around my son. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what then is a hug worth? Here, folded in my arms and squeezing me tight, was the flesh and blood manifestation of a dream.

We stood like that a long time, till one of the women asked him in his language,
"Do you know who this is?"
"Da. Mama."

In an instant I was transported back in time to a child's room, with dancing bears papered on the walls and hand-painted on the furniture. The lamp-lit bed held a mother and young child, with a cherished volume propped open on a mountain of knees while the concluding words of the book were read:
"Yes, I know who you are. You are a bird. And you are my mother."

Of course I cried. Of course. He had not qualified his answer in any way. I was not the woman he remembered from so many years ago. Not the woman who wanted to adopt him. Not his adoptive mother. I was simply ...

Mama.



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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Is There a (Rug) Doctor in the House?

I jinxed myself.

I just six days ago posted that I never have anything to write about because my kids have been toilet trained for years now and so my well of poop stories has run dry.

But today poo and pee of both the animal and the children variety converged in a perfect storm.

I have nasty animals.

I have snobby cats that put their noses in the air and look at me with disdain if I don't clean their filthy cat box out to their liking. I mean, come on, what's wrong with every day? Scratch that, once a week? OK sometimes it goes longer than that but suck it up already and just go in the box anyway, you're a CAT not the Princess of Wales. Pick your way around the big lumps of clumped up pee and the abundance of cat turds and just go.
In the box.
NOT on Rosie's mother******* carpet!

And I have a puppy who refuses to housetrain herself, though I've asked her to repeatedly. We take her outside and she does her business and I think "See? She's housetrained. She knows what she's doing. She's a stinkin' housetraining prodigy".
And then an hour later she'll take a dump on the FAMILY ROOM RUG RIGHT IN FRONT OF US ALL!!

Really? I mean truly, honestly? That's how brilliant you are? You just KNOW I'm gonna rain a storm of hellfire all over your 8lb hiney.

Then there's our dog that came from the shelter as a 3 year old, so she was never properly trained before she came to us and I absolve myself of any wrongdoing here. I keep telling myself that I know she's trained and I never actually see her going in the house, so I have this whole fantasy world that I live in where I pretend she's trained even though I know she's pi**ing in my sewing room.

Final player here, our upstairs hallway bathroom. That toilet in there is a porcelain beast from hell. Oh, it looks innocent enough, and it's kept pretty clean. But some unknown person in this house keeps clogging up said toilet every time they drop the kids off at the pool. No one's fessing up, but someone needs to see a doctor. We actually have a sign on this toilet now that says "DO NOT POOP IN THIS TOILET!"

That's how classy we are.

So this weekend I thought wouldn't it be nice to rent one of those Rug Doctors from the grocery store and clean all the rugs and the sofas?

So I did. And after I paid a small fortune in rental fees, showed them my driver's license
what the.....
and filled out all the forms in triplicate while the line piled up behind me, I lurched out of there burdened with this dinosaur and its bags of assorted attachments and cleaning solutions.

Somehow I hoisted it first into my car and then into the house and got jiggy with it, mixing buckets of hot water and cleaner and odor neutralizing solution like a deranged medieval alchemist.

I did all the downstairs, changing the water as needed by dumping the old nasty wastewater down the toilet, per the instructions.

And when I say wastewater, I'm talkin' about a viscous sludge a brownish-grey shade that would give the good people at Crayola nightmares, with a healthy representation of hair, dirt, and detritus of the urine and fecal variety.

I am baring my soul here, people.
I am airing my dirty laundry.
I am embarassed and ashamed and disgraced.
But my faithful readers demand my vulnerability.


I moved on upstairs. Boy, was I on a roll. I got half of Rosie's carpet cleaned and then ran out of solution, so I removed the wastewater bucket and took it to the hall bathroom to dump in the toilet.

I opened the lid and lifted the seat and began to pour the hazardous waste into the toilet. All 3 1/2 gallons of it. And of course because the pipes were all clogged up down below, the toilet projectile vomited everything,

the contents of the vacuum bucket
the mounds of wadded up toilet paper
the poop that clogged the whole thing to begin with


everything back out all over the bathroom floor.

And there I am, in my bare feet, with filth pouring out of the toilet and all over the floor and all over my feet and I'm scrambling to grab towels to sop it all up and grabbing the plunger and frantically plunging for all that is holy and the very act of plunging is causing all the nastiness to spill out at an even greater rate and one of the kids is calling up at me from downstairs
"Water is leaking from the ceiling!"
only I know that it is not really water but sewage, raw sewage that is now puddling on the bathroom floor around my ankles and running down through the floor to the ceiling below and raining excrement over the first floor

of our house, our home, the place we live and breathe and eat and sleep

and I just want to throw a match into the mess and let the whole thing go up in a fantastic explosion of billowy smoke and gas and poo and pee and wastewater and start all over again.

But instead of fulfilling that fantasy I had to spend the rest of the day scrubbing upstairs and down, washing towels in scalding water and Clorox, and soaking in a nice hot tub of bleach where I exfoliated every last skin cell.

Free To Good Homes: Assorted dogs and cats, all impeccably housetrained.
Also, white porcelain toilet, like new.


After enduring a nightmare like that, I know you'll vote for me, right? If you do, you win the toilet give-away.
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Next Guest

Stopped in a store today to buy one item: a baby gate to keep the front door area off limits for my dogs.

Thought I could run in, pay for my purchase, run out.

Oh, but I forgot it's 2011 and that's just not done anymore.

First off, the "customer service representatives"

Ummm, whatever happened to clerks? Or salesmen?

are all wearing headsets and have walkie-talkies strapped to their belts. Looked like they were working for the Secret Sevice.

Then, when I got to the counter, she scanned the barcode and proceeded to ask me a series of questions:

1) Do you have a Select Customer Rewards Card?
No.
2) Would you like to apply for one at no additional cost to you?
No.
3) Would you like to receive coupons by e-mail?
No.
4) Would you like to save 10% today by opening a charge account with us?
No.
5) Will you be needing to buy any batteries today?
(For a baby gate???)
No.
6) Would you like to complete the on-line survey for a chance to win $500?
No.

Next, as I'm being interrogated, I hear the next CSR over announce, "I can help the next guest at register 3".

Guest.
Guest?

Since when am I a guest in a store?
I am not at a hotel.
I am not at a fine restaurant.
I am not attending a wedding.
I am not company at the house of my relations.

Generally when I'm a guest somewhere, I get a little something out of it.
My sheets turned down.
A nice dinner.
A cocktail, perhaps.

All I'm getting is ticked off that the "representative" is wasting my time with all these questions when all I want to do is check out and be on my way.

Next time I set foot in a store where a representative refers to me as a guest, I'm going to demand a little basket of shampoos and a shower cap.

Or a gin and tonic.



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Friday, March 11, 2011

Meeting My Babies

Unlike most Moms, I cannot recount in detail, or even in generalities, the birth stories of half of my children.

And while I can blame my faulty memory on many of the black holes in my life, the integrity of my memory has nothing to do with the void in my brain where a beautiful story should reside.

The stories are not there simply because I never experienced them. I did not conceive, carry in my body, or deliver three of my children. That leaves me with an emptiness that aches. I never got to place my hand on my belly to feel them swimming and kicking and searching for elbow room. I never got to kiss their sweet tiny fingers or inhale their baby essence.

However,to be fair, I must mention that I have, in exchange, something most mothers do not. Meeting my babies for the first time took place when they were no longer infants, but people. People with thoughts and questions and dreams and the confusion of their emotions all swirling around.

And these meeting stories, as opposed to birth stories, are monumentally sacred to me, and just as special as the birth stories of my three biological children.

I thought I would share...

Meeting Bella
"Mom?"
"Hmmm?"
"Will you tell me a story?"
"What kind of a story?"
"About the day I first met you."
"You're not too tired?"
"No, no, no. Please tell it?"
"Well, OK. If you're sure ...
"Many years ago, you lived on the other side of the world in Kazakhstan, in a big building called the Detsky Dom, which means Children's Home. You lived there with many other children, and the caregivers, which the children called Mamas. Now, these children were all different ages, all different colors and shapes and sizes. But there was one thing you all had in common. None of you had a family of your own. Sure, you had food a-plenty, and things to do and lots of children to play with. You had warm clothes and tights and shoes to wear, even if sometimes the shoes were too small or had holes where your toes would peek out to see what was going on."
Giggle.
"But every once in awhile you would have to say goodbye to one of the children, because a new Mama and Papa wanted them to be part of their family. You didn't know why the children were chosen by these Mamas and Papas. Did they choose Anastasia because she had beautiful long blond hair and eyes blue as ice? Did they choose Peter because he was so good at marbles and had that smile that made you smile right back?
You wondered if maybe a Mama and Papa would one day come for you, but you worried because you didn't think your teeth were pretty and you didn't like your short brown hair and the other kids teased you sometimes and said you talked funny.
So you watched the Mamas and Papas come and go, and you said goodbye to many children over the years, but still you waited and you wondered and you dreamed.

Then one day, one of the caregiver Mamas gave you some news. She told you that a Mama was coming to the Detsky Dom. She was coming to see you because she wanted you to be her daughter. At first you didn't believe her. You thought she must have meant Katarina with the beautiful braids. But she assured you, she meant you. Natasha. The Mama would be coming in the morning.
That night was the longest of your life. Your brain had so many questions that it didn't know the answers to, so sleep was impossible. What would your Mama look like? What would she smell like? Would she be soft? How would her hair feel in your fingers? Maybe she was a princess and wore a sparkly crown. Maybe she was .........................
and you fell asleep at long last.

When morning came, you were out of bed while the other children were all still deep asleep. You snuck quietly to the window and sat there, looking out, staring intently at the place where cars come in off the street, so you would be sure to see your new Mama the minute she got there.
Sometime during the morning one of the Caregiver Mamas came in to get you dressed. She slipped over your head a fancy red dress, all ribbons and lace. She smoothed and brushed your hair and made it pretty as could be with a white bow that was big as your head. She gave you clean white socks and pretty buckle shoes (that were, ouch, too tight).
As soon as she was done, you went right back to your spot at the window. You waited there and watched there all morning, for hours and hours.

Finally the Caregiver Mama told you it was time. She took you by the hand and led you out of your group room, along the hall, down the stairs, and through a whole lot of hallways till you came to the Director's office. Without hesitating, she sent you right in, with a little nudge at the top of your back. A few steps inside the door you stopped, frozen with uncertainty.

There, across the room, sitting in a chair by the Director's desk, was your new Mama.

She was wearing a long flowy skirt and she had long, flowy hair. She smiled at you, and her eyes got all watery. You smiled back, but didn't move from your spot by the door.
Valentina, the Director, told you to come over and say hello to your Mama, then told the Mama that you were shy. Then another lady that you didn't know said something to the Mama in funny words that you didn't understand.
When you still didn't move, all the grown-ups went back to talking, but the Mama kept looking back at you and smiling. After a few minutes you began to take steps towards the Mama. She was listening to the other grown-ups, but now and then would look over her shoulder at you and smile some more.
You liked that smile. You took more steps. You were almost close enough to reach out and touch her. A little closer and you were standing right there beside her. She looked at you, and put her arm around your shoulder, and gave you a little pat.

You didn't realize you had been holding your breath, but now you let it out like a wind. Moving ever so slowly, you kind of backed yourself up till you were sitting right in the Mama's lap. She put both arms around you now, and started stroking your hair, and rocking gently back and forth. You reached out to feel her hair, and it was as you imagined, soft as silk.
You lay your head down on her shoulder and ran your little fingers through her hair, top to bottom and back again, over and over. When you looked back at the Mama's face again you saw it wasn't just her eyes that were watery. Her whole face was sloppy wet as tears washed her cheeks.

But somehow this didn't make you scared. Though it seemed too crazy a notion to be true, she was crying because she was happy that she was your Mama. Not a Caregiver Mama, not a princess Mama, but the best kind of Mama, a Real Mama. She was yours and you were hers and could this really be true? Someone out there in the world beyond the Detsky Dom, someone wanted you, Bella, over all the other children here and in the wide world.

Like spring rains seep into the dry ground to bring new life to the sleeping flowers, this thought that this Mama wanted you and loved you began to seep into your skin and into your bones and into your soul.

And as you sat on her lap, with her rocking you back and forth and humming a quiet little song in you ear, and stroking your hair and your back with her warm hands, you knew you had found Mama.

And that Mama was Home."


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Thursday, March 10, 2011

I Miss Him, I Miss Him Not .....

For the past couple days, my son J is no longer in the house.

But only for a week.

The long awaited day came that he got to fly off to sunny California, tagging along with his Dad, who is off to yet another conference.

He had been planning and hoping and dreaming of this day for months. It is J's dream to one day live in CA, and when F knew he had this trip coming up, we told him he could go if he earned it.

And earn it he did. Sort of.
His grades improved. Marginally.
He earned no more notches on his Detention Belt at school.
However, the effort of keeping it together at school left him with no reserves to hold it together at home, so he's been kind of miserable to live with lately as the pressure mounted.

Still, the furniture was neither upended nor broken. Nobody has been hurt (unless feelings count), and his chores have been completed (though I dare not look in his closet for fear of what I may find).

So now that he's gone, do I miss him?

I Miss Him
His creativity pouring forth as he makes toys and planes and beautiful artwork

I Miss Him Not
His constant knocking down of every syllable uttered by his brothers and sisters and yes, his parents too

I Miss Him
His many hugs every day, from sun-up to sun-down.

I Miss Him Not
The countless faces J makes at his siblings every day, from sun-up to sun-down.

I Miss Him
"I love you Mommy"

I Miss Him Not
Mercilessly teasing his brothers and sisters in his often mean-spirited way

I Miss Him
Sigh. I just miss him.

So bottom line, do I miss him?
If I'm being honest, I will admit that many of his behaviors I most certainly, hands-down will NOT miss.

But my son? Him, I miss.


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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday

I'm a Catholic.

A Roman Catholic.

A Slippery Slope Roman Catholic.

Whatthehell does that mean?

It means that over the years my adherance to the rules of the Church have taken a ride on a Slippy Slide coated in Vaseline and perched on a 45 degree angle embankment.

It means that

In the beginning
(insert thunderous echoey voice here)

I would tote my infant, then my infant/toddler, then my infant/toddler/preschooler combo-pack to church with me, even when I felt like crud.
I would wipe the spit-up off my dress, perform a last-minute diaper change on the fly, comb everyone's hair, put a double layer of leaking-booby pads in for when the baby started crying, and load the diaper bag up with Cheerios to be cast over the congregation during the service.

I would then take my brood with me and sit/stand/kneel on cue, all while restraining the two year old by the cuff of his pants from crawling under the pew, endure being scalped by the baby with a fist full of my unwashed hair, and yanking the crayons from the four year old after he edited the hymnal.

Whereas

In the beginning

I felt no excuse for missing mass was justified (with the possible exception of birthing a baby) , I gradually found more and more reasons to remain miserable within the confines of my own home.

Even so, I remained true to attendance at the Holy Days. Not a year would go by that I wouldn't have a dried-up stalk of palm hanging from my rear view mirror in the months following Palm Sunday, or a grey smudge on my forehead following Ash Wednesday.

And I made sure I explained to my charges the importance of Lent. That it was a time to sacrifice, or to choose to do something of hardship or value. Like Motherhood. The entirety of Motherhood could be considered one excrutiatingly long Lenten sacrifice, my dears. But I digress.

One year in particular, I remember that I thought of a brilliant Lenten objective. I would not yell at my children. They were my babies, after all, and I had no business yelling at my cherubs.

So I was going to refrain from yelling the entire six weeks of Lent.

Soon enough it was time to go to mass on Ash Wednesday morning and get our ashes and feel all holy.
I washed and dressed the children.
I changed their diapers.
I tied their shoes.
I fed them.
I changed their diapers.
I wiped their faces and hands.
I tied their shoes.
I stopped the preschooler from hitting the toddler.
I stopped the toddler from hitting the baby.
I changed their diapers.
I wiped a butt and emptied a potty.
I soothed a crying toddler.
I soothed a crying infant.
I put jackets on everyone.
I zipped and buttoned and tied.
I got the baby into the car seat carrier and took everyone to the car.
I hoisted the carrier into the backseat and buckled it in.
I chased the toddler and buckled her into her carseat.
I kissed her fingers that got pinched and soothed her crying.
I tried to quiet the baby who was now also crying.
I looked all over for the preschooler.
I found the preschooler behind a tree. Playing machine gun with a stick.
I took machine gun stick away from preschooler.
Preschooler simultaneously went completely fall-to-the-ground limp while screaming
at the injustice of having his machine gun anihilation interrupted.
I cleaned, best I could, the pants and shirt and hands and face of the preschooler.
I carried the preschooler, kicking and screaming and somehow mutiplying his weight
ten-fold, into the car.
I bent and folded the rigid-as-lumber preschooler into his carseat.
I walked around front and climbed in and buckled up.
Heading down the driveway to mass for our holier-than-though ashes, with my vow of not yelling at the children sworn only minutes ago, I looked in my rear-view mirror at three crying and screaming children in the backseat, and I added my own sound effects to the symphony by crying and screaming at my children till my face was blotchy and red and my hair was plastered to my skin.

And so the four of us drove to church on Ash Wednesday morning.

I may not have remained true to my promise, but dammit, we got our badge of ashes.


It's many many years later, but I still try. Sometimes.
Two years ago, when J and Y had only been home a few months, I took my crew to church for ashes on the way to school. A few of the kids' comments:

Daniel: I know how to pray the Rosemary.
Rosie: Feels like grit.
Bella(pulling all her bangs down low over her forehead): Can you still see them?
Julie: Which is this? Which is this one? You, me, church? Me, schoola?


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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Black Market Organs

I know this is the last thing I should be titling a post on an adoption blog
[For those of you not in the know, there are those in Eastern Europe (and perhaps elsewhere) that think Americans only want to adopt their kids to sell their organs on the black market.]

but bear with me....

New school "week at a glance" calendar.
New look of confusion and concern upon my face.

It seems this Thursday is both
World Kidney Day
and
Salvation Army Day

Does that give anyone else pause?

My understanding of the Salvation Army is that it takes your donated items....
and sells them.

Hmmmmm......


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Monday, March 7, 2011

And This Is Why I Hate Kazakhstan.....

OK, not really, but it's stuff like this that highlights the fact that sometimes the small stuff does matter and can cause you to sweat plenty.

So Friday James and Julie rec'd a letter in the mail from a long-lost brother. Excited? Through the roof. The letter was written in English and explained that he was doing well, had a job and a girlfriend, and was wondering how they were doing in America. A phone number was included, so obviously, we wanted to call.

We figured calling 10pm Fri would equate to 9am Saturday, Kazakhstan time. So here's how that went down.....

Attempt 1: Called the number written in the letter, but kept getting that shrill, migraine-inducing, "bee-bee-BEEP! We're sorry, the number you are trying to call...."
But then I remembered there is some top-secret international calling code or something, so I got on the trusty internet and looked up the code from US to Kazakhstan and tried again, but kept getting the beeps.
Then I realized there was a superfluous number in the brother's handwritten number, and so I tried again.
I got through! On the other end of the line was an older, deep-voiced Russky. I immediately threw the phone to James and he spoke to him for a minute in Russian. I didn't understand most of it, but caught his name, "Mama", America, and his brother's name.
But after a few seconds he hung up.


When I asked what happened he said it was some man that said Sasha (brother) was at work. Didn't say when to call back and started yelling at James.

Hmmm. This Mystery Man knew it was Sasha's brother. Calling from America. And then just started yelling at him? I don't get it. I don't get anything about it. But OK, we'll try again later.

Attempt 2: Called again at 10am Saturday, figuring it would be 9pm in Kaz. Surely, if his brother had left for work prior to 9am that morning, he should be home by now.

Made several attempts at calling the number, but kept getting a "full directory" message. Again, I don't get it, but I keep trying.

Tried again and got a girl, presumably Sasha's girlfriend, but as long as it's not the burly yelling man, I'm not asking any questions.
She told James that Sasha was at work. After 12 hours? OK. We were told to try again "the next morning" and he should be there.

Attempt 3: Called again 10pm Saturday (9am Sunday) and the friendly female voice said she couldn't hear us, to try back later.

Attempt 4: 1/2 hour later and we're on the phone again. Three or four "full directory" messages later we got through to Friendly Female again. James talked to her for a minute and then hung up. Sasha home? Nyet. At work. Try again.

Attempt 5: 10am Sunday we tried again (9pm Sunday). We got FF again. This time J is passed out dead b/c he stayed up all night long(6 friends over for a birthday sleepover). And poor Julie, her Russian is pretty rusty, but she did her darndest to converse with this woman. The gist she got was that Sasha was, yet again, not home.
Sigh.

Attempt 6: 9:30pm Sunday (8:30am Monday in Kaz) we attempted this once more. A woman that I thought was FF answered. I muttered my zdrastvyitze to her quickly and threw the phone at James (he's getting bruised at this point). He talked in Russian for a few moments and hung up. This time I learn that this voice did not belong to FF, but to some unkown woman who had no knowledge of Sasha or his whereabouts or when we could expect to get him.

I am taking bets on how many more attempts we will make before we:
a) get to talk to Sasha
b) end up adopting Friendly Female
c) get hit by the Russian mob (order placed by Burly Yelling Man)
d) Brother? What brother?


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Sunday, March 6, 2011

That Was Then

Sometimes when I'm blog-surfing

can I smash that into blurfing or is that too much of a stretch?

I am entertained and somewhat jealous of all the Mommy bloggers with little ones. It seems they have a bottomless well (toilet) of material at their disposal with which to craft their stories, what with all the poo and the pee and the puke flying about their house at all hours of the day and night.

Writer's block? How about a humorous anecdote about some poo?

It's funny. It's timeless. We can all relate. And it flows from the keyboard like a sour stream of yellow neonatal excrement.

But then I sit down to write and I've got nothin'.

My kids are big now. With the youngest an elderly 11 and the oldest ready to leave the house in a couple more years

please God

their diaper-bursting, poo-painting, potty-training days are, thank the Lord, a thing of our past.

However

uh-oh

now that I think on it, bodily excretions have not totally left the building, metaphorically speaking.

Let's play a little game of That Was Then, This Is Now, shall we?

That Was Then
Brown sticky substance covering the hands and face and nearby walls of the toddler. Mother Senses are in full state of arousal as you slowly slip on a HAZMAT suit while never breaking eye contact with the child...

This Is Now
Brown sticky substance covering the hands and faces of your Easter basket junkies. You grab their hands and sniff. Then taste. Then ask for a piece.

That Was Then
Putting little pee-soaked Princess panties in the washer and thinking, 'if only she had stopped playing to get in to the potty on time....'

This Is Now
Putting large pee-soaked granny panties in the washer and thinking, 'if only I hadn't sneezed....'

That Was Then
Cleaning drops of pee from the toilet, the floor surrounding the toilet, the walls around the toilet, and the baseboard heater next to the toilet (which, by the way, seems to aerosolize urine droplets in a Glade-air-freshener-candle-from-Hell kind of way)

This Is Now
Cleaning drops of pee from the toilet, the floor surrounding the toilet, the walls around the toilet, and the baseboard heater next to the toilet (which, by the way, seems to aerosolize urine droplets in a Glade-air-freshener-candle-from-Hell kind of way)

That Was Then
Staring at poo in the toilet, your face contorted, you jump around the bathroom, hands waving madly in the air, and yell loudly, "You pooped in the potty, hurraaaaaay!"

This Is Now
Staring at poo in the toilet, your face contorted, you jump around the bathroom, hands waving madly in the air, and yell loudly, "Who forgot to flush? That's disguuuuuusting!"

That Was Then
Between pregnancies and nursing it had been so long since you'd had a visit from Aunt Flo that you almost grew to miss her.

This Is Now
Between fluctuating hormones and your body shriveling up before your eyes it has been so long since you've had a visit from Aunt Flo you almost ....no-no-no. Here's your hat, what's your hurry Flo you old bag?

That Was Then
Your children come in from playing outside. They smell of sweat and dirt and somehow peach marmalade. You hug them tightly.

This Is Now
Your children come in from playing outside. They smell of B.O. And sweat. And B.O. You keep them at arm's reach and admonish them about the liberal use of hygiene products.

That Was Then
You walk into the bathroom and see your five year old, pair of scissors in hand and a line of 1/4" bangs running crookedly across her guilty face .

This Is Now
You walk into the bathroom and see your 15 year old very carefully shaving the one hair off his chin because he "needed to shave".

That Was Then
You securely latch the straps of his car seat and adjust his little mirror. He smiles as he jiggles the teether keyring you just handed him. You sigh and think, "How did he get so big? Seems like just yesterday I brought my baby home from the hospital."

This Is Now
He securely latches his seat belt and adjusts his rear-view mirror. He smiles as he jiggles the car keys you just handed him. You sigh and think, "How did he get so big? Seems like just yesterday I brought my baby home from the hospital."


That Was Then
#986.
This Is Now
#16
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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mama Drama

"I can't take these kids anymore!" I yelled to Fred as I stormed into the room.

"Uh-oh. What happened?"

"None of the bigger kids can get along for more than like TWO SECONDS when they're getting ready for school. They're constantly jumping down each other's throats. Over the littlest most insignificant things. I just don't GET them."

"I'm assuming there's more...?"

"Yes. So they all get on the bus and I go to wake up Daniel by calling up the stairs to him. I called him and I called him and I called him AGAIN."

"Yeah. I heard you 'calling' to him."

Is he condescending me????

"So at one point after I called him for like the bazillionth time, he started crying. CRYING. Said his stomach hurt."

"And so then ...."

"And so then I marched up the stairs
(pounding my feet really hard with each step for effect)
and I stormed into his room and I said 'You get your bottom dressed and downstairs right this minute young man. I've been calling to you for like a half HOUR!"

"So what did he do?"

"Nothing. He just looked at me and said, 'OK, Mom, jeez. Why are you so upset?' and I said 'Why am I so upset? Calm down? Are you kidding me? I've been calling you to come downstairs to get ready for school for a half hour!!!' So then he finally came downstairs and I had put some Pepto on the table for him and he said, 'Why did you give me Pepto?' and I said 'For your stomach ache' and he said 'But I don't have a stomach ache' and I said 'oh yes you do you were crying and telling me you had a stomach ache' and he looked right at me and said 'I don't know what you're talking about' "

And I looked over at Fred packing his underwear into his suitcase and cried,
"And I can't believe you're leaving me!"

"Well, don't say it that way. I'm not leaving you. I'm just going to a conference. I'll be back in a few days."

"You're leaving me. You're flying off in an airplane and someone will bring you a little plastic cup of soda with ice and a little bag of pretzels and then you'll check into yor hotel and it will be all clean and pretty with no dog hair or socks and you will sleep in a bed with fresh sheets and you will eat in restaurants every night where you don't have to cook the food or put your dishes away or clean up the pots and pans and when you come back to your hotel room at the end of your conference every day it will be quiet and there will be no dog hair or socks."

And so Fred bit back his smile and gave me a hug and told me he would be back before I knew it. Told me to go take my shower
that I should have taken a HALF HOUR AGO but Daniel was dragging his feet
and he would go check on our youngest to make sure he was moving along with getting ready for school.

So I did, and oh, what perfect timing for a visit from my special friend.

And no that has nothing whatsoever to do with my state of mind right now

And Fred came back up to give me a report
before he left me
that Daniel was doing OK and had finished his breakfast and packed his lunch.

He said, "I asked him what all the trouble was this morning and he didn't seem to know what I was talking about. So I told him that you said he was having trouble getting moving and getting ready for school."

"And what did he say to that?" I asked, thinking he would have some lame justification for not being more responsible and independent.

"He said,

'Well Dad. Mom was overdramatizing things a bit.' "

Overdramatizing?
Overdramatizing?!
Oh the injustice.
Oh the nerve.

Oh my, I.... I feel faint. I may just pass out.

Overdramatizing .....

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Friday, March 4, 2011

And That Brings Us Up To Speed

So the last few days I've had you all put on your bloggles to look back in time at what passes for my life. And you've seen.....

3 years ago
My outrage at a system that would have orphans sing and dance and put on a Mother's Day celebration.

2 years ago
The beginning of me losing my grip on sanity as a new Mom to 6.

1 year ago
My life seriously messed up: Taking kids to the ER when push came to shove (and shove came to fist fights and beating each other with bats) and losing (even fleetlingly) some of my children.

So where does that leave us today?

Depends on the day.

Some days I feel actually ....normal. For the most part the kids are getting along, doing OK in school (cough - most of them), and doing their chores without grumbling (much).
Sprinkle in some smiles and laughter and it almost looks like the after-view of an antidepressant commercial.

Other days I don't fare so well.

Like lately.

J has something huge coming up. A trip away with his Dad. He has been looking forward to this for a long time and he knows he has to earn it with good behavior, especially in school.

So now he's all pressured, b/c the trip is like days away, and he knows if he gets a detention for not putting a sock in his smart mouth, he will sit home while Dad flies off for the sunny west coast next week.

That kind of pressure means he falls apart with those closest to him even more, b/c whatever energy he's using to behave at school, it's all spent by the time he gets home.

Which translates to, 95% of what comes out of his mouth is negative. No matter how lightly and innocently someone phrases something, he finds something wrong with it. He insults, he gets in people's business, he accuses, he refuses, he lies.

In short, he's driving me insane.

When he can really tell that I've had all I can take with him, he then turns on the charm and smiles puppy dog eyes at me and leans down to hug me and slathers a schmear of "I love you Mommy" on top of the whole mess.
But then he gets right back to it.

In fact, here's a typical day:

J: mentally poke siblings with sticks all morning
Siblings: whine and cry and complain
Me: talk sweetly to everyone about how we're a family and kindness and respect and getting along and blah-blah-blah
All: repeat cycle several times while getting ready for school
Me: explode
J: apologize
A few quiet hours to run errands, get groceries, prep dinner, clean, do laundry, write, etc.
Then the houligans return home.
J: mentally poke siblings with sticks all afternoon/evening
Siblings: whine and cry and complain
Me: talk sweetly to everyone about how we're a family and kindness and respect and getting along and blah-blah-blah
All: repeat cycle several times throughout the afternoon/evening, while I prepare and serve dinner, supervise who has what homework/studying to do, and oversee who needs showers, who has what chores, whose turn it is for the good spot, who needs to do their laundry, whose socks need to be picked up
(insert little infinity sign here)
Me: explode
J: apologize


I know it's just the PTSD at work (see page above if you think this means Petulant, Trouble-making Son-of-a Derelict). I may be crazy but I'm not stupid. He can't handle any change, even if it's good change. And trying to keep respectful to his teachers that are
"Soooooo anNOYing"
takes a lot out of him.

So I get it, I really do.

But it doesn't diminish my secret desire to

a) throttle the child
b) be taken away by Calgon or a York Peppermint Patty
c) run away from home
d) lock them all in the basement and open up the liquor cabinet
e) all of the above



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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bloggles x 2 Years

I had been Mom to six kids for only a couple months when I posted this, and was feeling...

stressed?
overwhelmed?
ineffective?
about to lose my friggin' mind?


What follows in this post from two years ago was a play-by play of a not-atypical afternoon:

1st child complains of sore throat.

Temp checked - fever.

2nd child complains of headache and the ever helpful complaint "not feeling well".

Temp checked - fever.

3rd child tudda-tudda-tudda-tuddas across kitchen tile floor on scooter.

4th child tudda-tudda-tudda-tuddas across kitchen tile floor on skateboard.

Dog barks and runs after skateboard/scooter children.

Tea kettle whistles.

Tea fixed and delivered to sick children.

Tudda-tudda-tudda-tudda ----tudda-tudda-tudda-tudda: skateboard child now has scooter child hooked to dog leash and rolling across kitchen floor train-style.

Get out all the stuff for dinner.

5th child asks to play x-box.

6th child asks to play computers.

7th child (friend over) asks to watch TV.

Mantra kicks in on auto-pilot "No screens till 7:30".

All children whine in unison, sounding surprisingly like a barbershop septet. Note to self: check into possibilitiy of booking gigs.

Child informs me she needs a Batman costume for school tomorrow because tomorrow is Batman Day. What the ....?

Hoarse bark heard in the other room. Does one of the kids have a seal as a classroom pet? Did I volunteer to watch it for the weekend? Note to self: get large quatities of fresh fish to feed seal.

Sick coughing child crying b/c throat hurts. OK, no seal. Bad cough. Cancel fish order.

Hugs and Motrin dispensed.

Barbershop septet sings my favorite tune, "When's Dinner/What's for Dinner".

"Owwwwwwwwwww!" Ninja-child was right behind me as I removed a box from the fridge. Got hit in eye with said box.

Apologies exchanged. Mixture of Russian/English/sign language follows in which he asks why I hit him in the eye with the box and I explain he hadn't been in that spot a millisecond before.


Neither of us understands the other.

Fix dinner, fix dinner, fix dinner.

"Mommmm, James is crying"

Hugs and more apologies dispensed. Wet paper towel applied to swollen eye.

Child with learning disability informs me she has a test tomorrow. She's supposed to memorize all 44 presidents.

Fix dinner, help study, fix dinner, help study, fix dinner, help study.

Serve dinner.

Eat portions left on plates.

Say hello to husband.

Brief husband on current illnesses, bedtimes, shower and homework status.

Say goodbye to husband.

Drop friend off at her house.

Drive to school for meeting from 8 - 9:30.

Get home, put away leftovers, load dishwasher.

Exchange info with husband on school meeting, status of kids.

Bed. Sleep.

Post-note: Friday morning two sick kids home. Cancel all plans. On the way to the store for ginger ale, received call from nurse. Third child sick. Drive to school to pick up.
The phrase "repeat as neccessary" springs to mind ...


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