Monday, December 17, 2007

Let There Be Light... I Mean, A Room!

I do believe we almost have a room. I mean, if you consider stark drywall and concrete floor to be a room, but we're much closer anyway.

On other fronts, I thought that once our dossier was submitted we'd go onto the waiting list. However, I learned today that I misunderstood that one (is anyone surprised?). The dossier IS submitted, and it's being reviewed. But we also must have CIS clearance to go on the wait list. We had clearance for Guatemala, so we submitted for a "switch" a couple of weeks ago to Ethiopia. Let's hope they are feeling festive in the CIS office in Phoenix and get that change made pronto!

But with the holidays upon us and folks coming into town and cookies baking (and the sun shining), I can't complain about much.

More to come...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Demolition continues...

We're moving along on the demolition. I called our drywall/framer today to ask him if he remembered that he also had to take down the wall in our bathroom through which one would have to walk (and into which a door therefore must be installed) to get to the baby's room. Do you think his answer was actually "Yes?"

If so, you would be mistaken.

"He did not remember," I thought, "which means he also didn't remember to include that work in his price!" I don't want to pay anyone more than necessary, and I also don't want someone to come into my bathroom with a sledge hammer because there is a portion of our bathroom which will have to be put back together (by me) and it includes tile and, from experience, I can tell you that you want to have to dremel out as little grout as possible down the road. It isn't fun.

Therefore, I saw NO reason not to just start tearing out the bathroom myself. Doesn't that sound perfectly reasonable?

David didn't think so.

I can't appropriately describe the look on his face when he came in wondering about all the hammering and saw the reality of what was causing it.

Of course, Jack came in and announced that he needed Santa to bring him his own tool set --- drill, hammer, and screwdrivers, so that he could get in there with me and really help!

The framer/drywall guy is coming tomorrow morning (I'll believe it when I see it) and will begin his part. In the meantime, I'll continue with my part. I have to get a 4 ft x 6 ft mirror off the wall (it's glued on there thanks to the homebuilder) before David gets home because he has no desire to help me or watch me or even know that I'm doing it.

The real joy: I leave town tomorrow for the weekend to visit Katie, Steve, and Sylvie and so David has to live with this construction over the weekend. Of course, I'm not thrilled either because that means I don't get to wire electrical with Len. But Len said he'd leave some work for me to do on Sunday night or Monday morning. Yeah!

I'm praying that the reference letter we're waiting on will arrive today and I can lug the kids to UPS to overnight our dossier to our agency. That would be a wonderful birthday gift, as my birthday is tomorrow (hint hint).

More soon!

Please hurry, I must get back to work!
I love telescoping drill bits!
How the heck is this thing connected?
When all else fails, go for the hammer.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Grace was home from school today because she was feeling a bit under the weather last night. We had a few errands to run, including Old Navy. While I was in the women's section, she said, "I'm going to go to the kids' section."

Grace is really not all that into clothing (thank goodness). She likes what I buy her and rarely peruses the girls' section of a store. I figured she was just killing time.

About 15 minutes later, she found me and said, "Mom, I was looking for my sister! Look what I found! Isn't this perfect? AND it was on sale!" And here it is.

Come on - is that the cutest thing you've ever seen or what? And the fact that she was paying attention to the sales was extremely validating!
Our dossier should go into the mail tomorrow. FINALLY! This one wasn't bad, but we're just very ready to be back on the wait list!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Luigi Plumbs...Liz solders (sort of)

What an interesting day.

Luigi the Plumber came by around 12:30 to re-route some copper pipes that come out of our water heater in the garage and were in the way of the door to be cut into the baby's room from our bathroom. Now, Luigi is quite a character. He's about 4' 8", 60 years old, and has these crazy blue eyes that you feel like you should be able to see right through. He has a heavy Italian accent, but speaks very good English. He's also seemingly become quite fond of some English expletives, specifically "Son of a b*%^&."

I was telling my mom that I'm not even sure he realizes what he's saying. Sort of like, if you went to Italy and worked in construction and each time there was a snafu another construction guy said, "Holy Pasta," you might start saying "Holy Pasta" each time YOU had a snafu, just assuming that it was as benign as saying, "Oh shoot" (and I suppose that "Holy Pasta" IS more benign than "Oh shoot," so bad example, but...).

Each time something went awry, which seemed to be about every seven seconds, Luigi would either mutter or shout "Son of a B*^&$!" Thankfully, George was asleep upstairs!

I told him of my love of construction and assured him that my presence in the garage had nothing to do with my supervising his work, but instead my desire to see how this was going to come together. He handed me a hammer and told me to start pulling nails out of the 2x6s. First, I had to change my shoes. I made the mistake of wearing brand new Crocs during construction once before. That mistake shall not be made again.

Then, as I start pulling nails, I realize that Luigi is a bit of a "whistle while you work" guy. He's over there humming and whistling Italian songs. So, I start humming Christmas songs because that's all that's in my head right now, despite the fact that it's 70 degrees out. But it is raining today, so it feels a little East coast-ish.

He mentions that my humming is interfering with his. I thought he was joking, but then he turns on this godawful loud mini jackhammer. So I sang louder. But trust me, NO ONE could hear me. That thing was VERY loud.

Then, he turned it off. He returned to humming and swearing, and it occurred to me that perhaps this was some sort of cultural experience and, when in doubt, one should just do as the locals do. This was the justification I gave myself for, whenever a nail was slow to be removed, simply muttering, "Son of a B*^&%!" to myself! It was most cathartic.

But the best was yet to come. It was time to solder the copper piping. I saw the blow torch. I said, with great awe, "Oh, are you going to use that?"

"Yep! Wanna do it?"

"Yes, I do. I really do," I replied.

So, he did a demo on one piece of pipe and then handed me the torch and the soldering "stuff." I never know the technical term for anything. Most things in the world are "thinga-ma-hooches" or "thingys" or "stuff."

I'm there, blow torch in hand, trying to do just what he did, and he's yelling.

"Liz! No! Higher! Lower! On top!"

Now, I think he's screaming, "Try her!" because, as I said, he has a strong accent and the blow torch was loud.

So, I counter with, "I AM trying!"

"No!" he yells. "Higher!"

"What?" I screamed.

At this point, he grabs the blow torch out of my hand and says, "Liz, you make me nervous. You have blow torch right by drywall."

Do you honestly think I didn't know that, Luigi?

He took over at that point, but for 17 seconds, I was soldering my baby's room's copper pipe.

It was at that moment that I vowed that I will have my hands in each of the subcontractor's work to some degree so that I can say I truly worked on each facet of this project.

The concrete guy comes next Friday. Not sure what he'll let me do. But if nothing else, I will draw a little something on the concrete before it dries!

In other, equally magnanimous news, our home study was officially approved today by our agency. That was a big one. Many changes were required from the Guatemalan home study to be in accordance with Ethiopian regulations. One more signature and we can mail our dossier and be on the waiting list for our sweet Ethiopian Princess!

Luigi and his mini jackhammer

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Moving...And Building...

Well, things are progressing! We're only waiting on three documents, two of which are in the mail to us and one should be finalized in the next few days. Then we can, hopefully, get on the wait list!

So, we need to get going on the baby's room. We're making another bedroom out of a quarter of our garage and it will be off of our master bathroom. The drywall guy wasn't moving quickly enough for me, so I decided to take matters into my own hands, literally. I began removing drywall on Tuesday and finished this evening. I cannot move at all.

Jack and Henry wanted in on the action

After Day Two
The finished product!The plumber should be here in the next day or two and then the concrete guy. From there, a whole slew of folks come in and do their thing.

My neighbors think I'm completely insane for taking this drywall removal thing on myself, but anyone who knows me well knows how much I love construction!

But I realized something as I was thinking about my insanity. With my first four children, my body worked to grow them and nourish them until they were ready to come into the world. Now, those who know me know how much I did not like being pregnant. I always had vivid fantasies of a pregnancy wherein I wore fabulously cute clothing (in which I looked fabulously cute) and loved every minute. This never occurred.

I found cute clothes, but they didn't look nearly as cute on me as they did on the mannequin in the store window. I grew seemingly in every direction, and I felt like a blimp. It was worth every bloated, painful second obviously, but it was a means to an end.

With this baby, I can't provide my uterus. I can't let my body do the work by nourishing her in utero. But what I can do is use my core muscles to hammer out drywall! Building her room is truly a labor of love for me. Every drop of sweat, every hammered finger (of which there were ten), every tweak of my back muscles as I strained the wrong way to get another piece of stubborn drywall out, was an act of me giving of myself for her in a way no one else can (or will).

In each of my pregnancies, I do the physical labor (whether carrying a baby in my belly or hammering for hours on end) and David makes sure I'm well fed. He doesn't do home renovations, so interestingly during this "pregnancy" he cooks while I work. He made me many a wonderful (and large) sundae when I was pregnant with the other four kids, and, lo and behold, he's off to make me a HUGE one right now! Come to think of it, perhaps the ingestion of those sundaes is what made it impossible for me to fit into those cute maternity clothes. But this time around, I don't have to fit into any of those clothes. So I say, bring on the sundae - and make it large!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I found this image after my very crazy last few days, and I found it most calming. I think I need something like this that's very big to hang in my office!

Let's go back a few days to Wednesday. I spent 5 1/2 hours in the morning cleaning the house for Thanksgiving. Just as I was finishing, I realized that the kids were upstairs pretty much undoing all of my work. Then, the doorbell rang.

It was a FedEx package I've been waiting on of a product my dad and I are developing. The product had a few "issues" in my opinion, but while I was discussing those concerns with my dad over the phone, I had to cut the call short because my contractors pulled up.

The contractors had come over to discuss the process for demolishing 1/4 of the garage and making it into the baby's room. Now, I could have made this demolition process easier (and more expensive) had I put someone in charge of general contracting. But because easy isn't fun (and it's too expensive) I decided to be that general contractor myself. So, I'm coordinating a general build-the-walls-and-drywall-them-all guy, a plumber, an AC guy, an electrician, a guy to pour cement, and a stucco guy. So 2 of those folks were here and they were trying to figure out when each of the OTHER guys needed to come. It was all going so well. Until the build-the-walls-and-drywall-them guy commented that he wanted to tear out drywall this Sunday. As in tomorrow.

As my eyes widened (I wasn't prepared to start until after Dec. 5th), the UPS truck pulls up. Now, this was, I knew, a very important package from our agency with our Guatemalan dossier in it and our new Ethiopian dossier packet. We planned to transfer a large number of the Guatemala documents to the Ethiopian dossier.

I had a call 20 minutes later with our case manager. But then I heard the phone ring and something told me to answer it.

I told the guys to hold on with their can-I-demolish-in-4-days discussion, and ran inside to get the phone. It was our case manager wanting to hold our call a few minutes early since she was leaving early for the holiday.

I told the guys in the garage to figure it out and just let me know when the drywall would start coming down. (I still don't know if anyone's coming tomorrow!)

I took my call with our case manager, during which I emptied the contents of the package they'd sent. I found myself a bit confused because while all of the copies of our Guatemalan dossier were there, none of the originals were. I asked her about this, she asked me to hold, and she came back commenting that she thought it was possible that they had been sent, you guessed it, to Guatemala.

Now, we're hoping that they are in Guatemala but have not been authenticated yet. If they've been authenticated, we must start all over. But hopefully that's not the case and they can simply be mailed back.

Okay, that was exhausting. To live it AND to write it! But we'll know more on Monday.

We got a bunch of forms notarized today, dropped our new medical forms off with our doctor, and got some pictures developed for our package.

We're getting there!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

First of all, this is what I want to live in: a world of thanks. I'm trying lately to be much more conscious of being thankful for what I DO have instead of wishing for what I DON'T have. For the amount of blessings that we have been granted is quite large.

As I continue to research Ethiopia, one thing that's struck me so profoundly about their culture is the level of thanks they offer for what, in our world, would be considered the smallest of things. They have a square on the sidewalk to sleep on at night, and they give thanks. They have an opportunity to eat one meal a day, and they give thanks. They have the ability to raise their children instead of offering them life through an adoptive family, and they are forever grateful. It's very humbling. I read about an orphanage where the kids made tether ball sets out of socks filled with dirt, and then I looked into my backyard to see the tether ball set our kids have which had been taken apart and was waiting to be put back together again. These things are, in our world, taken quite for granted. We want a tether ball set, we buy one. (Or, in this case, are given one as a gift from Grammy and Poppy!) But nevertheless, the children in Ethiopia are given a pencil and they feel as though they've been given the world. The sense of gratitude they possess has truly inspired me.

Many know that George seems to favor David lately. And by "lately," I mean for the last several YEARS! It's hard for me to get a hug or a kiss from him. It's impossible for me to get him to sit on my lap. So today, when I was handed his thanksgiving box made at preschool with a slip of paper inside noting for what he is thankful, I was fully prepared to see "Papa" written on that paper. Imagine how my heart melted when, instead, I saw, "My Mommy." And then, he had dictated four things for which he is thankful and his teacher wrote them down. They were, "My Mommy," "cookies for lunch," something I can't remember, and "My new baby sister from North America...I mean Africa." I do just love that kid. But I didn't give him cookies for lunch nor do I know where he came up with that idea!

I'm off to get the other kids from school, and I think that this afternoon we will take a bike ride and spend the day outside. All of us. Not them outside while I'm working. I will give thanks for the gift of these children and the weather and our wonderful neighbors and the cool breeze and just spend time with all of it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

I am very much looking forward to this in a few days. Pumpkin pie, my favorite.

We're also looking forward to receiving our dossier packet from our agency. It will have all of the revised documents we need to get filled out, which I hope to do in five days or less.

Also, most of our friends know that we are completely addicted to The Amazing Race. This season, there is a brother/sister team that, from the very start, I was convinced was from Ethiopia. They didn't say anything at first, and I checked CBS's website to see if it was in their bio, but nothing.

Then, last night, the teams had to venture to a little-known town in west Africa. The sister said, "We love Africa because we're from Ethiopia." David and I were like, "Yes! We knew it!" There is just something about their eyes that is very distinctive. Ethiopians have very distinct and beautiful eyes and I was just sure that they were from Ethiopia. And I was right! So now I'm rooting for this team 100%. They're good people, too, not taking other teams' taxis or stealing their camels!

One more day of school for the kids and then it's Thanksgiving break. Looking forward to a few days of food and family.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It Was a Day!

This is how many people turned out for my book signing today at Borders in Tucson. Well, better than zero! Many of the employees approached me as I sat at my little table by the parenting/kids section and said, "We're sorry there wasn't a better turnout. We feel terrible that you came all the way from Phoenix!"

"Are you kidding?" I responded. "Four quiet hours (round trip) in the car and 90 quiet minutes sitting here. AND I'm learning all about how to cut dados with my router thanks to this handy Fine Woodworkers magazine. This is a great day!"

But then when I left, I thought, "Maybe I SHOULD be depressed that I only had one visitor. And if I WERE depressed, what would I do? I'd go shopping." So I headed across the street to a great import furniture store and bought myself a candlestick. A very good day indeed.

Our fantastic social worker here has already modified our home study so that it now meets the guidelines for Ethiopia. Hopefully our agency will get it approved this week. And hopefully our revised contracts will arrive on Tuesday and we'll really get this ball rolling! Can't wait.

Plus, the high tomorrow is, I believe, 79. It was so cold in our house this morning with the windows open that we thought it might snow (okay, it wasn't that cold, but compared to what we've been experiencing, it was very, VERY chilly).

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Moving Right Along (Again)...

This isn't me. I think this person is under the age of 10. But this is what I feel like! I don't think I realized how much the decisions we were making were weighing on me. I feel free!

We had our official orientation into the Ethiopian program this morning. Not too much is different between the Ethiopian program and the Guatemalan program. The biggest difference lies in how the children come to be at Hannah's Hope. In Guatemala, Hannah's Hope truly is an orphanage, where many children who are not available for adoption live until such a time when they can leave for one reason or another. In contrast, HH Ethiopia is more of a transition house than an orphanage. They hope to not have any child living there for more than one year. The children come to HH from government run orphanages, and they come based on the fact that our agency believes they can be placed with a forever family.

When we go to pick up our daughter, we will have the opportunity to not only spend time at HH, but also at the government-run orphanage where she initially was taken. That will certainly be an amazing experience!

Another interesting fact is that, in Ethiopian culture, a child is given her father's name. So when our daughter gets her documents to come into the U.S., her name will be David _____ Lyons. The "blank" will be whatever her given Ethiopian name is. So, if her Ethiopian name is Amaya, her passport will say David Amaya Lyons. David's not sure about this, but I've assured him that I'll get the readoption done here in the U.S. as soon as possible so we can get "David" out of first place in her name! For insurance purposes, until that happens, she will be known as David. Hilarious. That ought to be real fun for the insurance company to deal with!

For now, we need to update some portions of our dossier. Thankfully, the Ethiopian dossier is a breeze compared to the Guatemalan dossier. A few updated documents and we will, hopefully, find ourselves back on a wait list. I hope our number will be nowhere near as high as it was on the Guatemalan list (or, should I say, as low).

We simply cannot wait. I was in Old Navy today and found a onesie that was pink and said, "I was worth the wait." I wanted to buy it so badly, but I had no idea what size to buy AND I fear that by the time she comes home, it may be hotter than blazes here again and no place for a child to wear a long-sleeved anything!

Stay tuned!

Monday, November 5, 2007

I'm Back!

I've been MIA from this blog for several months, which I think is probably okay because, truthfully, I think I'm the only one who reads it.

The fact of the matter is, our adoption journey has taken more than a few unforeseen turns, and each time I thought to document one of them another emerged. I couldn't keep up. The maze above pretty accurately illustrates what I went through in my mind to get myself to the place we are today.

As many of you know, the process for adoptions from Guatemala is changing. People have dedicated entire chapters of their blogs to the details and since they, in their totality, give me a headache (the details, not the bloggers) and I already have a headache, I won't delve into them. Suffice it to say it's a bit of a mess.

When we began the process of adopting from Guatemala, we knew that these issues may arise. However, we didn't think for a moment that they'd arise so soon. We were only paying attention to the U.S. side of things, which wasn't smart. It didn't occur to us (or to many others) that Guatemala would take steps that, in the end, will hopefully ensure the long-term safety of the children and integrity of the adoption process, but in the short-term will cause a lot of confusion and delay.

When the latest information on the process in Guatemala, the expected delays, and the unknowns (of which there are many many many) were presented, I had a long chat with our case manager at our agency. We were still way down at the bottom of the list for a referral. In fact, our case manager mentioned that based on past trends, by the time we were placed with a baby we may set a record for the longest time on the wait list they'd seen. Not a record I was thrilled to achieve.

So, after much discussion, thought, research, soul-searching, research, reading, and did I mention research, we have chosen to switch countries.

Many months ago (okay, two months ago, but it feels like many months ago), when this all started looking not-so-good, our case manager asked us if we'd ever thought about Ethiopia. The truth? We had not. Not for any reason in particular; we'd simply been drawn to Guatemala and our search stopped there.

But once I started researching Ethiopia, I could not stop. I was drawn in from every side and every angle. We had to ask ourselves some questions that were different from those we asked ourselves when we were considering Guatemala but, all in all, the answers didn't change. At least not the important ones.

So, the bottom line is that we will now wait for our daughter to be born in Ethiopia!!!! We are over the moon, truly. We're waiting for an official call with our new case manager to see what paperwork needs to be altered. Then we'll wait. However, the wait list for Ethiopia isn't nearly as long as it is for Guatemala and none of the issues currently present with adoptions in Guatemala exist in Ethiopia. No international adoption is without risk, but we feel very good about this change.

We don't know how long we'll wait. Grace asked this morning, "Exactly WHEN is my sister coming home? And exactly WHERE is she coming from?" The latter we know; the former, not so much. But we should have a better idea very soon.

So I'm thrilled to be up and running and documenting this amazing experience once again. I've met some incredible people already, and experienced some strange "coincidences," and each day I am more and more excited at the prospect of meeting this new little person and welcoming her into our family.

Stay tuned. There's more to come!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Mohawk Madness

They're not permanent, but I figured that I could sort of give them what they wanted for 12 hours since they needed haircuts anyway. The "strip" will be shaved off tomorrow morning! But for now, they think they are most cool. Henry keeps yelling at Grace to "not mess up my STYLE!"

We were addicted to America's Got Talent this season and this past week when Butterscotch, the beat boxer, did her thing, George listening intently and then commented, "Hey, that's not bad!"

Of course, while I was AGAIN on the phone with my sister the other night, I heard a blood curdling scream and joked that I was going to have to hang up again and head back to the ER. Imagine my shock (so much shock that the first two words out of my mouth were "Oh Sh*t!") when George came running in and had split his eyebrow AGAIN about 1/2 mm under the first cut! I managed the stop the bleeding on that one after thirty minutes or so and we avoided the ER.

George also now has an older girlfriend. Hannah is in Jack and Henry's class and she is completely smitten with him. She's a peanut - she's only about 2 inches taller than George and they probably wear the same size clothing. But she just loves him and this morning, he said, "Bye Hannah. Have a good day at school!" Kills me.

Everyone is waiting on pins and needles for the High School Musical 2 premier tonight. Then, the weekend awaits. Yeah! I only wish it were going to cool down! Nothing under 110 in the forecast, I'm afraid.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lost teeth and lost fur

Finally! On Wednesday evening we all sat with baited breath at the dinner table for 15 minutes while Jack twisted, bended, bled, twisted, and bended some more (and bled) until he was just like Henry and had lost a tooth. Well, Henry's lost two teeth, but Jack's on his way now and we've confirmed that his teeth do fall out like everyone else's.

School continues to go well. Grace came home with a flyer advertising voice lessons, art lessons, or violin lessons, and wouldn't you know it, she picks the one for which I have to buy an instrument! Violin begins a week from Thursday and I can't wait to see what this brings about.

George loves taking his brothers and sister to school each day, but he wants to be more like them. So he fills his suitcase with all the things he believes one should take to school each day (you know, cars, extra shoes, a toothbrush...) and pulls it behind him all the way to their classrooms and back to the car again --- even when we pick them up in the afternoon. It's hysterical.

I think it's already pretty clear what at least two of our kids will ask for for Christmas this year. I feel fairly certain that George wants one of the Lowe's carts that's like a car, and last night Jack asked for a mohawk. Neither will be transpiring.

Humphrey finally got a much-needed haircut. We hated to do it, but it had gotten really matted so it was a necessity. Now he looks like a glorified poodle, but I've been assured that it will grow back and, if we comb him regularly, we don't have to do something this drastic next time.

Finally, a bit of adoption-related news. In an effort to further thwart those who are attempting to remove children from Guatemala in an unethical manner, the U.S. Embassy is now requiring (as of August 1st) a second DNA test on the children before they are given their pink slip to leave the country with their adoptive parents. All in all, this is a good thing. It ensures that the child getting the pink slip is the same child who was DNA tested against his or her birth mother umpteen months prior and referred to a particular adoptive family. In cases where adoptive parents don't see the child except in pictures for many months in between the referral day and adoption day (we will fit into this category), it ensures that the child isn't "switched" in between. On this 2nd DNA test, they only compare the child's DNA to that from the first test; they don't retest the child against his or her mother. It may add an extra week or two to the process, but it's a good thing. It will take one step further in making everyone comfortable that the child leaving the country is the child who has been approved to leave the country with a specific set of parents.

Other than that, still waiting for the referral of a baby, and we'll likely be waiting a while. But we'll try to be patient!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

I should have been more prepared. After all, it's been a loooong time since our last ER visit.

As I was concluding a phone call with my sister this evening, I heard a scream. That part wasn't unusual. What was unusual was the sudden sight of George standing in front of me, screaming, and looking a lot like Carrie in the final scene of the movie by the same name --- but with the blood pouring down only the left side of his face.

As the story went, someone (of the male persuasion) threw a matchbox car at his head. The rest is, as they say, history.

I held a compress on it for a while, then put a bandaid on it, then said some prayers because it was rush hour and I REALLY didn't want to head to the ER with all four kids in tow. But, after an hour, the blood was still coming out from underneath the bandaid and George was wandering around saying, "I don't feel well. I need to go to the hopstital."

As a compromise, we went to our favorite pediatric urgent care facility. They can do stitches, and the wait isn't nearly what you deal with at the ER (plus, you get to avoid the adult victims of everything from a gunshot wound to the Ebola virus, which is always a bonus).

Unfortunately, while I thought this was just a minor laceration, the doctor at urgent care didn't agree. "It's pretty gaping," he said. "You need to head over to the hospital ER. They'll need to stitch it and stitch it well so he doesn't get a bad scar." Super.

We headed over and they got us in right away somehow.

After having been asked for the sixth time (by the sixth person) how this all happened, I suppose I was feeling a bit defensive about the fact that one of my children had done this to the other. After all, it's far easier to blame it on the neighbor, the protruding oven handle, or the broken sidewalk. So, when the poor nurse politely inquired as to the course of events that brought us to her triage area, I responded with something along the lines of, "ONE OF MY KIDS DID THIS TO HIM. OKAY? THERE ARE FOUR OF THEM. AND THEY ARE ALWAYS FIGHTING. AND TATTLING. AND FIGHTING. AND TODAY, APPARENTLY, THEY WERE THROWING THINGS. AND ONE OF THOSE THINGS MADE CONTACT WITH THIS POOR CHILD'S FOREHEAD. AND NO, I WAS NOT WATCHING SOAP OPERAS WHEN IT HAPPENED. I WAS ON THE PHONE. AND IT WAS BUSINESS. SORT OF." Poor woman. She responded with, "Oh, I get it completely. I have two boys. They are always fighting.

I don't think she does get it completely. I think I told her as much. I don't think she gets that the other day, one of my kids (who shall remain nameless) threw a rock at his sister's face. I don't think she gets that there isn't a single toy in my house that it played with as intended. I don't think she gets that my daughter wants to raise a panda bear in our backyard. But she's a nurse, not a therapist, which is, I'm sure, precisely what she was thinking in that moment.

She noted that she could easily glue his head back together and avoid stitches. Super. She asked him if he could lie down and he just said, "Yup! Sho!" (which is how he says "Sure). He made not a peep as she cleaned and glued. When she was finished, he actually said, "Tank you. Tank you, Mom." You're so welcome, dear.

And as we left, I realized that perhaps he took the old advice about always having on clean underwear in case you have to go to the ER to the extreme. It became clear (since his pants were practically falling off) that he didn't appear to be WEARING underwear. I said, "George, are you wearing underwear?"


"Why not?"

"Because I don't need to, Mommy."

I was too tired to respond. Who cares.

Time for ice cream. Thank God for ice cream.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Day Two

Day Two of the 2007-2008 school year has been completed. I believe it was relatively uneventful. Jack's backpack somehow was taken home by another student, but hopefully it will resurface this morning.

I bought this candelabra thing for our kitchen table and it has four candles on it. Our new "tradition" is that every night after dinner, the kids each name something they are thankful for or make a wish for the next day and then blow out one of the candles. That wasn't what I had in mind when I bought it, but it's worked out well since it's sometimes the only positive 60-second span of the day.

Last night, George was once again thankful for being able to blow out a candle. Henry was "thankful that God created this wonderful world." The child is hysterical.

David has ordered some book about the Indigo children and the fifth dimension and was trying to explain to me last night about how the Mayan calendar predicts the end of "this world" and the beginning of the next in 2012 based on these children and how they are going to transform the world. I was totally lost. Kind of like when we watched "What the Bleep Do We Know?" I'll look forward to the arrival of the book and, hopefully, a more thorough explanation of this phenomenon that, at this point, sounds downright terrifying.

On the adoption front, I'm now scouring guidebooks on Guatemala in preparation for a trip my mom and I plan to take after the first of the year to Antigua, Guatemala. This trip is simply to explore the area, purchase some decorative items for the house, and hopefully not spend even a moment suffering from any sort of illness that can be attributed to drinking water, contaminated fruit, malaria, dengue fever, cholera, or that point in time's most prevalent flu strain.

Over and out.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Another school year already!

Dear heavens. Another school year is already upon us. I do believe that when I was growing up, summers were four weeks longer than they are now. But, I won't complain too much. I think we were all ready for a schedule, and given that Grace was creating her own homework the night before school started, some of us were ready for some work other than room cleaning.

Jack and Henry had a great first day. I met them for lunch, and this morning Henry asked me not to join them today because "you confuse me when you come to lunch." Don't know what that means, but I'm not concerned because I had plenty of other things on the agenda today. The boys came down in identical outfits and said they wanted to see if their teacher could figure out who was who. Poor lady. Apparently yesterday a girl in the class told Henry he wasn't in the class, and Jack said, "Yes he is. He IS in this class because he's my twin and we're the only twins in this class."

They don't just dress alike at school. Here are their newest PJs. After they put them on they said, "Mom, do we look like twin boys?" I told them that indeed they did. They then said, "Well, you'd better take a picture of us then."

Grace learned yesterday that panda bears are apparently an endangered species. She said, "I'd like to do something about that. So I've decided that I could raise a panda here and then release it into the wild when it gets older." We will not be doing that. I think it's illegal.

I can't wait to see what stories they come home with today!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

On The List!

We've officially done it! We've gotten on The List for a referral!
We went on the list on George's birthday, which was quite significant for us. The bad news is that we're #53, so it could be a while. I'm not entirely sure just how long, but a while. But David notified me that 53 was his high school basketball number, so perhaps that's significant. We'll wait patiently and know that we have plenty going on here in the meantime.

I'm also pleased to report that they did take me at INS (now USCIS) yesterday! I took Grace with me, and at one point, the old cranky security guard said that no kids were allowed in the building. Um, okay? I said, "What should I do with her? Put her in the hot car?" He acquiesced. Thankfully, he was the only angry one there, and everyone else was lovely to work with. We were out in about 34 minutes. I am VERY happy to have that overwith!

In other news, it's more humid than I remember it ever being in Phoenix, but the temperature is only in the 90s, so I suppose I should not complain. I got my table saw all tuned up this morning in anticipation of beginning some interior design projects when the kids start school on Monday. George unfortunately now does not start until Sept. 4th, but that's okay. He and I will be tearing the town up looking for lumber, smoothies, and air conditioned venues and I'm looking forward to spending that time with him without anyone pushing anyone, yelling at anyone, or throwing things at anyone (at least not in my presence).

More soon!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Birthday Planning

Today I took Grace, Jack, and Henry to Walmart to shop for George for his birthday. The mere fact that I went to Walmart period was laughable, however their selection of bikes blows Target's out of the water so I had no choice. I quickly picked out a two-wheel bike for George ("WITH training wheels, Mom" as Henry ordered) and we made our way down the toy aisles. The kids have always enjoyed buying each other gifts, so I thought this would be relatively easy. I was wrong.

We struggled with three primary issues. First, the immediate selection by my children of toys that, for one reason or another, simply wouldn't work. I will admit that I'm most impressed by my ability to look at a toy --- any toy --- and discern immediately whether or not the toy will work for a 3-year-old (or 5-year-old) boy. The bottom line: most won't.

Grace's first selection: "Hey Mom? How about this game? It's called 'Fact or Crap'." My response: "Who the hell named THAT game?" I suppose my language slip went right over her head because she responded to me with, "Um, probably the person who invented the game?" Now, in Target, I would have been embarassed by that dialogue, but in Walmart it was tame compared to what was going on around us.

From there came issue #2: the boys selected a whole slew of toys that were just plain wrong. A Star Wars light saber? No. Play-doh? Absolutely not. A Pirates of the Caribbean Sword? HELL no. Toys with 150 pieces or that cost $150? No, thank you.

I quickly figured out the mentality with which Henry was shopping. He'd point something out and I'd say, "No, Henry, I don't think George will like that." Henry's response? "Well, that's okay. I'LL like it!" Super.

Final issue: Grace, who was the only one seriously looking for George without ulterior motives, simply could not find the "perfect" gift for George. After one hour, I said, "Grace find a present. Any present. I don't care what it costs." She finally decided on a baby pig that George can feed. Not sure about it, but I was too delirious at that point to really care.

On a good note, Grace is really wanting to learn Spanish, "so that I can talk to the birthmother when we go pick up my sister." The My First LeapPad games in Spanish were on clearance for $5 so I bought them all. She started this afternoon with Disney Princesses and let me tell you, I really underestimated how challenging this would be! It's a full story in Spanish! She and I have been online all afternoon looking up words in the Spanish-English dictionary. She's doing well learning to figure out words based on context though. She's my kid, so she's very frustrated that she isn't fluent yet, but we're working on it. I'm pleased to know that all the Leapster stuff comes in Spanish and, at a minimum, can be ordered online in Spanish, so that'll be great for everyone!

Speaking of that exercise, here she is and she wants to translate again. Adios!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Beach Bums

Before I forget, let me mention my "shining moment" from Wednesday.

After I rode my first big wave to shore and was enjoying the final moments of such an exhilarating ride, I felt a pop. No, I didn't break anything. My bikini top had popped right off! Frankly, I might have preferred to have broken something. The kids were all yelling at me to stand up, and I was laughing so hard that I couldn't manage to explain that I was lying on wet sand because I seriously could not stand up without getting arrested! I glanced around, half hoping to see all the men on the beach pushing aside their wives and children in an approach similar to one they would use if Pamela Anderson had just lost her top. But, alas, I was disappointed to realize that no one was even looking my way. As Grace would say, "Too bad, so sad."

Thursday was our last day at the beach, and Henry kept up with his usual approach of being the social chair of the group. The kid made at least one new friend on the beach each day. Today, it was two brothers who were using skim boards. Henry's decided that the next time we come, we must buy skim boards. Hmmm.....

We went to the Hotel del Coronado and bought a kite. We did not have huge success with the kite, primarily because I was so sunburned that it was painful to even stand in the sun, but the greatest moment was when George got it to fly for the longest period of time.

Mama trying to get the kite to a functional point. It was not as easy as the 1-2-3 instructions on the front led me to believe.

Grace is off and running!

This may be the first time these two have been this close without one punching the other!

Jack ready to give it a go

Jack hugging George after George's most successful flight!

After the kite flying, we went for ice cream and, if you can believe this, to buy four small cups of ice cream and one smoothie at the Del cost $26. This is disguisting, but it shouldn't have been surprising since a bottle of water there costs $3.99 and a hot dog and bag of chips cost $8.50. I was doing the calculations and figured I could have bought nearly 10 GALLONS of ice cream at the grocery for what I paid at the Mootime Creamery. Maybe I should get into the homemade ice cream business. (That's next, Dad.)

George really enjoyed his "double dark in a cone."

Seriously, this HAS to be as bad as it gets!

Now, a business I am seriously considering is dog apparel. Seriously. Grace and I went into this store called Wag'n Tails and bought Humphrey two shirts - one with a skull on the back and one in camo - and a personalized "I have to go out now" bell for him to ring at the door. We almost got a coordinating leash and collar, but they didn't have the pattern we wanted in stock. I won't mention what these clothing items cost, but suffice it to say it's a good business. The woman who owns it said that the fastest growing industries right now in retail are pets and geriatrics. Not sure what they're making for geriatrics, but I'm all about pet clothing. Grace wants to get Humphrey his own PJs, but I told her I have to draw the line there.

Humphrey in his Skull and Crossbones shirt. Come on, it's all the rage. All the celebrities' kids are wearing it!

On a final adoption note, I did get to mail our dossier to our agency today. It will arrive Monday by 2:00 PM. To have it arrive by 10:00 AM would have been another $37. That's another business I should get into! I got brave and went to INS with the kids, hoping they'd do my fingerprints. No go. They guy working security had clearly had a very disappointing week (perhaps a very disappointing life) and he was bound and determined to make every person coming into his station feel the same way. He told me that they were "understaffed." I should have told him that by this point in my life, not only can I do my own ultrasound as well as a self-exam to determine whether or not I'm dilated, I can probably fingerprint myself. I doubt it would have worked, somehow. So, I'll be back there at 8:00 AM on Wednesday morning with fingers crossed and I might say a few Hail Mary's before going in. I don't know if this is an appropriate use of the Hail Mary, but hey, it can't hurt.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"Now We Are Six" (All of us)...

Day Three.

We are all officially six: George thinks he's six, Jack and Henry are almost six, Grace is acting like she's six (months) old, and I turned six again when I boarded my boogie board (or "my board" as Jack calls it) and headed out to sea. The pictures below were snapped for my Dad!

Before I regale you with our day, let me share some other fantastic news: it appears that if FedEx does its job and gets our dossier to our agency overnight by Monday, we will go "on the list" for a referral on Tuesday. What's so great about that you might ask? Tuesday is George's birthday! Even more reason for celebration and a great way to remember the day we began officially waiting for our fifth child. Honestly, I knew our kids would be so excited to have a new sister, but I think I underestimated just how excited they would be. Grace talks about it constantly, as does George. Everytime we go out, Jack picks out baby items and says, "We need to get this for our new baby." I went into a baby boutique yesterday and almost emptied our checking account for my sister, so it's good our baby isn't here yet! I managed to exercise restraint even for Katie, but it was MOST difficult.

Here are some photos of our fabulous day today.

Mama hits the waves and waits for a big one. No one else was daring enough to wait for a "monster wave" as Grace called them.

Riding it to shore...

Jack caught a great one!

Going back for more:
Heading out with all four...

George thought he'd take a ride (but turned around once he hit the surf).

Grace and her new bikini. Her Target one did its job for a while, but by yesterday afternoon it was so stretched out it was almost indecent!

Liz's ergonomic sand beach chair

Jack: "I caught a huge wave, and then my board flipped." He's a surfer dude in training!

Grace and Jack sunning on the sand
George and his infamous boogie board!

George wanted a special picture of him being silly. Looks a lot like Henry!

If you can believe it, the most well-behaved child, and my almost constant companion for the past 3 days? Drum roll please...HENRY! He's been amazing. Some quotes that have come from his mouth: "It's OK if you want to go get the laundry Mom. I'll watch George." "You can keep looking at the brochures if you want, Mom. I'll go back to the room myself."
More later!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Oh, how I love the beach...

Ah, the joy of store after store filled with the same shot glasses, T-shirts, sweatshirts, flip flops, hats, tacky magnets, and shell necklaces. There's simply nothing like the beach, and now that I'm here I realize that I must be here far more often. We are fully situated at El Cordova Hotel in Coronado, California. And I even managed to get everything from the packing list into the car (except the beach umbrella, which I mistakenly left in the back left corner of the garage).

On the way into town, Grace advised us of the breed of positively every dog we saw (and there were many). She has a dog book at home that teaches about all different breeds, and that's where she got the info. Her positive ID of a labrador retriever? Not surprised. Nor by her pointing out the poodle or the cocker spaniel. But when she shouted out, "That's a pembrooke welsch corgie!" I almost passed out. I was like, "A WHAT?" She repeated herself and then proceeded to spell it in case I needed even further clarification, which I did.

We hit the beach bright and early this morning, and were even able to rent an umbrella for $6 from a cute little shop named Little Sam's, which is right next to our hotel entrance; not a bad deal! The "bad deal" was that the umbrella was found to be broken upon attempting to erect it in the sand. I had to leave the beach to return to said shop to exchange it. Let me mention that we're using the beach at the Hotel Del Coronado across the street, and it's a fantastic beach. It's also HUGE. The walk just from the spot where we'd set up back to the sidewalk felt like miles. Grace agreed to go with me, and the cost of that companionship was a rented Little Sam's boogie board. All the child wanted to do was boogie board. My dad will be so proud! Here are Jack and Grace giving it a go ---

On the ride after this one, Grace flipped off the boogie board and went under. She came up hacking and spitting everywhere. I thought, "Well, that's the end of that." Once she could speak she said with great enthusiasm, "That was specTAcular!" and headed out again.

Henry, on the other hand, preferred to simply lie on the boogie board on practically dry land.

By the end of the day, the kids felt it was imperative that they have their own boogie boards. So, the boys "rested" and Grace and I went shopping. We bought the three older kids boogie boards, and when we got back George was wondering when he'd be big enough for a boogie board of his own. We'd seen a really small one on clearance for $3.99 so we went back and got it on our way to dinner and he could NOT be happier. He carries it everywhere, singing his boogie board song, "Riding the boogie board."

It's 8:30 and no one seems to be anywhere near sleep (except Sharon and me). George is lying on his boogie board.

I'm off to uncork a bottle of moscato. More tomorrow!