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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Last week in review

Zach stayed home from school yesterday with an “ookie tummy.”  I’m sure this is an official diagnosis.  The real bummer is it was storybook character dress-up day for “Read Across America” week.  Zachary was SUPER pumped to get to wear his Ninja costume to school, AND we were going to have three boys from our neighborhood (a 3rd grader and his twin 1st grade brothers) over for a playdate in the afternoon.  Had to reschedule that!


Last week was mid-winter break.  While I was a little jealous to hear about all the wonderful places some people would be traveling to (Mexico, Hawaii, Disneyland – to name a few), I must say that we had a really nice, relaxing break.  The boys – with our encouragement – have given up TV, computers, etc. from Thursdays-Sundays during Lent.  (That way we can still do family movie night on Fridays and they get a little time to play the Wii or on the computer on Saturdays).  So, we went into break screenless.  This seemed daunting even to me at first, but it ended up being wonderful!  The boys – after adjusting to the concept of some serious quality time together – played awesomely pretty much all week.  They built extravagant pillow-couch cushion forts and had all sorts of creative “set-ups” with their Legos, toys, etc. . 


On Wednesday, the kiddos and I went to the zoo where we waited in line for 40 minutes to see the three month old lion cubs.  Kayli called them “Roar babies” and hasn’t stopped talking about the one that went “Ka-boom.” (He fell off a low branch he was trying to climb…which caused everyone in the viewing area to giggle and ooh and ahh over his animal baby cuteness).  Thankfully the boys agreed that it was worth the 40 minute wait in the cold drizzle!


We had a couple of fun playdates on Thursday and Friday.  Then Saturday, it was all work and no play.  Mom, Dad, and Chris came over at 10am loaded up with yardwork tools and equiptment.  ALL of us (kids included) worked out in the backyard trying to tame some of the overgrown ravine.  Mike and my dad dug up a maple tree that had been planted WAY too close to the house and deck.  It was transplanted down in the ravine where we hope it won’t drown (it’s fairly near the little creek at the bottom).  My mom worked at chopping down a big overgrown hazelnut tree/bush/growie thing.  Go moom!  I did whatever people told me to do, and also dug up a bunch of ferns from the woods (where I found two piles of coyote poop!) and planted them along the edge of the yard.  The boys attempted teamwork sawing up branches – that was not very successful.  Kayliana moved piles of dirt from one random spot to the next, got completely filthy and had a ball!  She’s definitely more outdoorsy than the boys combined!  I’m super excited about getting the back cleaned up a bit and hope to put in this summer – where the maple tree had been – a small flagstone patio and brick firepit. 


In other news: Zachary has started playing basketball for the first time and L-O-V-E-S it!  He’s on a team with five boys and for coaches has two of the possibly nerdiest, most non-basketball-playing dads I’ve ever seen.  (For example: at the first practice, one of the dads pulled out a print-out that basically was the “how to’s of coaching a kids basketball team.”) Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that they volunteered to coach, but, wow.  They lack leadership experience, knowledge and, forgive me, but any personality!  I think three-toed-sloths are more entertaining and could coach better.  I know you really shouldn’t complain (though I totally am) since WE’RE not stepping up to help out.  But, for reals, you should see these guys!


Anyway, our first game was a bit of a disaster.  Like with most kids’ sports, they don’t technically ‘keep score.’  But this game was pretty obvious.  Our team – “Thunder” – shot two baskets total.  The other team probably had, mmm, 20+.  This week (our second game), Zachary was the first one with the ball.  He dribbled (mostly, with only occasional traveling and double-dribbling) all the way down the court and seamlessly scored his first ever (during a game) basket.  It was awesome!!  Right after the basket, the refs blew the whistle and announced that we’d have to start the game over after the other team took a quick break to take their team photo.  Yeeeah.  Kids’ sports for ya. 


The games are played three-on-three with the coaches basically standing in the middle of the court telling the boys what to do.  Well, unfortunately one of our players had broken his arm over the weekend so he’s on the DL.  We didn’t have as many kids to start with as the other teams, so we don’t usually have a sub for the every five minute sub-out time.  Zachary had already played for two “quarters” and was limping over to us.  (He said his foot just tweaked and felt weird – it only lasted a couple minutes, thankfully.  But he limped for the last minute before the whistle).   Zach hobbled over and sat down to drink some water.  One of the dads on our team went and asked the coach if HIS kid could sub out instead of Zach because HIS kid had already played two quarters (same as Zachary) and HIS kid really needed a break.  Um, OK.  Zachary, tired, but happy enough returned to the game.  It is REALLY fun to see how much he loves it!  Hopefully, Matthew will feel the same about baseball when that starts back up in a month!  In the meantime, Kayli serves as cheerleader and (literally) yelled at Zach, “Block your guy!!”

Kayli -- rocking the dress my mom made for me and that I wore circa 1982
                                                                     Roar baby!
Yard workers

Just chillin'

Future NBA star

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lenten Slacker vs. Lenten Rockstar

Crud.  I posted this (or thought I had) on Feb. 15th but it's not showing up (at least for me).  So, bummer.  Here 'tis:
It’s funny how some years I totally rock Lent and then others I’m a Lenten failure.  Last year, I was an EPIC Lenten failure.  I’ll blame the house situation – which is kind of a valid excuse for stress in this normal humanoid world in which we live but really shouldn’t actually impact my Lenten-spiritual journey at all.  We were getting the house ready to sell and then had it on the market for all of Lent.  It was totally stressful.  I couldn’t plan meals because I didn’t know if we’d be able to be home for dinner.  We’d get a call at 4:30pm saying they wanted to do a showing at 5:30 – and there went our evening.  I’m SO thankful that those crazy days are over. 


Last year, I knew, due to my stress level that attempting to give up say my top food/beverage vices: coffee, wine or chocolate would be a total joke.  I DID end up giving up Diet Pepsi but allowing myself one a week.  See, that’s how I’ve done Lent pretty much my whole life – just SORTA.  Sorta giving something up but then finding a way to basically cheat – a built-in excuse to indulge in whatever activity/food/beverage of which I’m supposedly fasting.  Cheater cheater dark chocolate eater.  I even told our priest at the time that I’d finally learned that the idea of me giving up chocolate is a joke.  God doesn’t want me to be a hater and, let’s face it, I’m just not pleasant to be around sans chocolate. Then there’s the whole “Sundays don’t technically HAVE to count during Lent…” During my chocolate-give-up days, this meant Sundays = chocolate-fest pig out days.  I’m AWESOME at finding the Lenten loopholes.


So instead of making a major sacrifice, I did the Diet Pepsi thing and also decided that I would DO something as well.  I’d spend quality time with each child every day.  Again, major epic Lenten failure.  Thanks to the house-stuff (and basically my lameness) the one-on-one mother-child bonding time just didn’t happen every single day.  It did work in adding to my mommy guilt though.  Awesome.


Here we are, a year-ish later, and it’s Lent time, baby!  For Catholics, Lent should be a time of reflection – reevalutating our lives and realigning them with Christ. And we’re even told to buck up!  We’re not to whine and groan and throw a pity party through the whole thing nor are we to brag about our sacrificial piety and general awesomeness.  Let’s see, we’re on what, Lent Day 3?  I – ever the open book – have already dropped the ball with this one.  Telling everyone I meet and their dog what I’m doing and how DIFFICULT – woe is me – it is.  Oops.


Getting the kids (the boys) on board with this sacrifice-idea has been a challenge this year.  They thought they were just SO funny with suggestions like: “I’m giving up school!” (Matthew).  And “I know! I’ll give up vegetables!” (Zachary).  Meanwhile I – not so subtly – suggest (several times a day) to Kayliana that she should REALLY consider giving up toddler tantrums for Lent.  No go, thus far. 


Since I was so Lenten Lameness last year, I’ve taken it to the extreme this year.  I’ve been way over zealous and for the first part of the week – and even Ash Wednesday – upon hearing what other people were giving up/doing, I thought, “Ooh! Ooh! I’ll do that too….Oh that’s a good idea, maybe I should give that up in addition to…and….and…!” 


Apparently I’m at a place where I feel the need for some major soul spring-cleaning. But seeing as this is MY blog – and will also be the lasting memoir for my children to read when I’m but a distant memory – I do like to catalogue my life ‘n such here, so I WILL explain my Lenten plan…or at least some of it.  A girl’s gotta keep SOME secrets.  A few posts ago ( I wrote about some recent alarming discoveries that I’ve made.  This moved me to really think about what we’re eating and feeding our children and while I realize that Lent is not supposed to just be a convenient time to diet, the six weeks does coincide nicely with the six weeks that Dr. Fuhrman recommends as a sort of cleanse to a Vegan diet. So, Mike and I are trying it with a few exceptions (that we typed up).  We won’t make anyone cook Vegan for us, should we be invited for a meal.  I’m still having my one dark chocolate with my morning coffee.  And come March 16th – when we get to attend the boys’ school auction – we will SO eat the expensive meal that we’ve paid for (and we’ll enjoy it, darn it).  Oh, and for the record, I didn’t give up alcohol, but I am definitely limiting my intake.  (Jesus’ first miracle WAS turning water into wine, afterall). Maybe I’ll give up drinky-poo’s for another Lent, but for this year, I’ve already got enough on my plate (mostly leafy greens).


To get into the groove, I made a version of Dr. Furhman’s “Anti-Cancer Soup” last week. Due to our lack of high-powered blender/food processor, my version turned out quite textured and lumpy.  Essentially, it looked like vomit.  (Warning: this photo is not for the weak of stomach).  Matthew saw it and attempted to politely lie, “Mmmm, that looks good.”  I laughed and said, “No, it doesn’t.  It looks like throw-up.”  With which the boys were only too eager to agree.  Mike, Kayli and I all thought it was actually VERY tasty.  Matthew gagged down his required 9 bites (to correspond with his age).  Zachary sobbed through three bites (he just couldn’t get through six) and, as always when I make soup, questioned my love for him.  (“If you love me, why would you make me eat soup when you know I H-word it?!”  [H-word, of course, is that unacceptable four-letter word, H-A-T-E.]  He means business with his dislike of soup.)  I tried to explain that this soup was basically saving his life and he essentially has the most amazing mom in the world.  He rolled his eyes, looked down at his full bowl of steaming hot barf –  I mean soup – and shuddered.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013


It’s amazing to have those ah-ha-Oprah-full-circle-come-to-Jesus-epiphany moments when clarity and the meaning of your life just hits you like a tanker truck.  Now, I realize life doesn’t always work this way.  I think more often than not, we DON’T know why some of the dooty in our life happens, but when the dooty comes and smacks us in the face (hypothetically, of course), it can really awaken us to the truth and we finally just…get it. 

Well, I had a moment like this.  It was a few months ago, actually.  But another more recent ah-ha-Oprah-full-circle-come-to-Jesus-epiphany moment of awakening reminded me of the aforementioned realization.  I’ll start with the more recent one and work back from there.

We -- Mike, the boys, and I – were discussing the topic of the current ‘Google doodle’ contest for kids.  The line for which kids create a Google logo-themed design is: “My best day ever.”  We were discussing ‘best days’ ever.  Of course, the boys took this to mean the most amazing, magical (let’s face it, pretty unrealistic) day they could possibly imagine…which is fine; it can be interpreted however one wants.  I took it to heart and started to really ponder this: could I name one – just ONE – best day ever?  And without a second’s hesitation I realized that yes, yes I sure can.

Obviously, most people would name their obvious top days: your wedding day, the birth of your children, etc.  These are most certainly on the top of my list, but the issue with those days for me was – while they were undeniably joyous and miraculous and had great moments of awe-inspiring wonder – they will always be marred by the stress and worry that accompanied them.  Mike was so ill on the morning of our wedding, we thought we might have to cancel the whole thing.  Once through with the ceremony and reception (both of which did go smoothly), we headed to the ER where we spent our wedding night.  Not the most bliss-filled experience, honestly.  Matthew’s birth-date – while incredible – was full of surprise, delight and immense fear.  Five weeks early, our 5 pound peanut – thought to be a girl – was a well-endowed little boy who was immediately whisked off to the NICU where I wouldn’t get to hold him for over 24 hours.  An amazing day, yes, but also not the most ideal of circumstances.  Then a similar story with Zachary’s arrival into the world.  An even smaller peanut who I didn’t get to hold or nurse or cuddle for a long time.  I know so many people have way more tramautic labor and delivery stories than this, and we are SO very blessed because, in the end we have these two incredible healthy boys, but their first entries into this world weren’t exactly stress-free and nonstop joy.  None-the-less, their birthdays will always be special to me.  But these two momentous days were not The One.  However, I’d like to think – I hope, nay, I know – that Matthew and Zachary will understand that The One – my Best Day Ever – was in a huge part because of them.

My best day ever was the day we brought Kayliana home from the hospital.  That day was more intense and powerful than stressful.  Kayli was placed in my arms by her birthmom.  (Did I forget about the pain that Mia must’ve been feeling?  No.  Not for a second.  My heart broke for her while it simultaneously was beyond full of joy.  Just trying to understand how she could’ve made that ultimate sacrifice deepened my awareness of what a blessing our daughter – and her birth mom – are.)  Kayliana came home.  We introduced Matthew and Zachary to their brand new baby sister.  When they rocked in the chair before bed, they held her and sang lullabies; I stood in the doorway and after capturing a quick photo, wept tears of joy.  That was my best day – my best moment – ever because I knew…I knew from the depths of my soul that our family was complete.  Whole. 

So, that’s my Best Day EVER…to date.  I’m still open to having more awesome, amazing, incredible days, but it’s hard to imagine topping that day.

OK, so my other big ah-ha-Oprah-full-circle-come-to-Jesus-epiphany moment is…well…pretty different.  It, first of all, took place in an Applebee’s restroom.  I kid you not.  Hey, Jesus is everywhere, even in the bathrooms of casual dining establishments. 

Mike and I were on our way to present an Engaged Encounter retreat weekend to 30ish couples.  We’d stopped for dinner.  Maybe it was the glass of wine (does Applebees have especially potent wine?!), but I’m pretty sure Jesus spoke to me while I made a quick pitstop before we left the restaurant.  It came to me in one quick rush of understanding.  I suddenly knew.  I finally understood why everything happened why it had happened.  If Mike hadn’t had Cancer in our first year of marriage (and doctors, therefore, telling us we might not get pregnant or it might take a while), then we might not’ve tried to get pregnant when we did…which lead to the conception of Matthew (who we were told would be a girl but was a perfect, surprise of a bouncing baby boy)…two years later we get pregnant with Zachary but at 28 weeks I go into preterm labor and get locked up in the hospital for seven weeks of bed rest (which resulted in the birth of this blog AND…) another sweet little preemie boy…who was discharged from the NICU after one week and sent home with us…where I proceeded to be slapped in the face by a bad case of Postpartum Depression (is there such a thing as a good case?! I don’t think so)…because of the bed rest and the PPD…so I start therapy and begin the long (never-ending) process of working through some of this history…and after a few more years…we eventually come to the conclusion that we do want another child and that adoption is the best route for us…which lead us to the adoption agency Amara…which brought us the info on Mia…who picked us as her daughter’s forever family…which has automatically placed us in the longterm blessing of being automatic spokespeople for adoption…which lead us to, when needing to update our Engaged Encounter presentations last year…writing an entire talk on the discernment process that helped us work through everything that I just talked about and conclude that adoption was the way to go for us (full circle-y, huh?)…so that now, every single EE retreat we present on, we are planting the seed of adoption in at least 30 engaged couples…of these 30 couples, unfortunately, approximately five of them will experience infertility and may, just may, think back on their EE weekend and how they heard this amazing story of adoption and perhaps it will lead them to consider it and discern that adoption or foster-to-adopting is right for them too.  (And obviously, couples who don’t experience infertility can ALSO adopt, I’m just going with some stats here).  If we continue our average of the last ten years and present at least three wEEkends a year, that’s 15 couples annually who might be affected by our story and maybe, just maybe, that’s why everything worked out as it did. 

And, while I could’ve done without some of the stress along the way, as you can see by my Best Day Ever, I’m pretty glad things DID work out as they did.  And God Bless Applebee’s.

The Best Day Ever moment