On Growing Up

I decided today that I will be terribly sad when my boys are too old to enjoy:

  • playing at the park
  • blowing bubbles
  • telling me they love me in public
  • singing "You Are My Sunshine"
  • eating picnics
  • jumping in rain puddles

What about you? What will you miss about your child's current stage?

Wordless Wednesday: Any Resemblance?

For more WW, see 5 Minutes for Mom.

Becoming One of THOSE Families

I have wanted to post about this for a few weeks, yet I have not wanted to post about this. But it is becoming such an integral part of who I am now that I must share. So, here I go.

We are about to become one of those families. A homeschooling family. Yes, we are. From the time Liam was 14 months old until last Fall (3 ½ years of age), I had him in either Mother’s Day Out or preschool. I was fine with Mother’s Day Out; it worked well for us. But when I decided to put him in a “real school” and did so for a little over a year, I felt unsettled the entire time.

In September and October 2006, I really began wavering on keeping him in preschool. He already knew most of the curriculum they were teaching. I’m not trying to brag, but I’m his mom and have bragging rights, this kid is smart. He picks up on everything quickly, so he was already bored in preschool and running wild as a result. Bored in preschool, have you ever heard of it? I know, I should’ve tried some other preschools, but this was “one of the best”. But instead of doing the preschool shuffle, I knew the issue was much deeper for me. I finally admitted to my husband that I was concerned whether I would ever be happy with anyone else educating my son. After all, no one else loves him as much as I do. No teacher shed those tears over trying to adopt him. Thus, no one else could care for his educational well-being the way that I do.

I’m a former public school teacher. Homeschooling is such a topic of taboo within the public school system. During my formal teaching days, I hated the idea of homeschool. I thought homeschooling families were nuts. I imagined them all as social outcasts. I never imagined that I would even consider the idea of homeschooling my kids. Yet, here I am. And I’m proud to say that I will be responsible for my boys’ education.

What pushed me over the edge to make this decision? Several things:
1. Liam’s personality has a major flaw. (What? I'm going to admit he's not perfect?!) He is easily impressed with the behavior of those around him. I know that most children are this way, but Liam’s personality causes this to be of great concern for me. So why put him in a room with his peers for 8 hours, 5 days a week and hope that he’ll settle down enough to actually learn something?
2. I attended a homeschooling workshop at Creative Arts in Action a few months ago. I went to this Homeschooling 101 on a Saturday with great doubts in my mind. I thought for absolute certain that I would walk away from this discussion and tell Rick, “Nope, absolutely not. No homeschooling for us.” So, I walked into the workshop with my arms crossed and a stern look on my face. Yet, I walked out with complete resignation to admit that I have been wrong for a very long time. Part of this workshop brought in some homeschooling families as a panel, and the audience threw random questions at the parents and kids. I was awestruck at the kids’ abilities to articulately answer each question. I was amazed at their respectful attentiveness. Remember that I’m a former teacher, so I have a pretty good idea of how “most” kids behave, but these kids left all of that in the dust. I came home and told Rick, “We are homeschooling. This is the way to go for us.” And we haven’t looked back since.
3. Research is showing that the cohesion of homeschool families is greater than those participating in public and even private schools. Now, don’t throw darts at me. Your family may prove those stats wrong, but I want to do everything I can to keep my family intact. Satan would love to tear us apart, and we will face many obstacles along the way, but I’m going to do all that I can to keep us close.
4. Universities are no longer considering homeschooled graduates taboo. Many universities are actively seeking out homeschooled students to enter their programs as Freshman. In fact, Harvard has an entire department dedicated to this search. I don’t necessarily want my kids to attend Ivy League, but I want them to receive Ivy League caliber education with Christ-centered morals in tact. I want them to go to Aggieland with well-educated minds and grounded morals.
5. As a former teacher, I know how much time is spent idling in the classroom. There is no reason for my boys to be at school for 7-8 hours, when we can accomplish it in 3-4 hours at home.
6. I have discovered that homeschool families are not social outcasts. My boys will be participating in educational coops and extracurricular events to insure that they are being socialized. The great idea behind these homeschooling events is that my boys will be surrounded by students of all ages; thus, they will learn to work and socialize with more than just their immediate age group. They will also be socializing with their brothers and me on a daily basis, and I think we’re pretty good company.
7. We want to be able to travel anytime, and homeschooling allows us to set our own calendar.
8. Most importantly, I want to be the one to see them read their first words and solve their first equations. Just as I wanted to see their first smiles, crawls and steps.

So, there you go. I’m following my heart. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it.

Friday Funny

I just had a good laugh at myself, so I'll share with you. I was browsing a health website a few minutes ago, and it asked for my age. They were so kind to provide a drop-down with the following choices: 20-30, 31-40, 41-50, and 51-69. As I looked for my age, I gasped when my age came up with the big 4-0! This site actually considers me as closing in on 40, what?!?!? I'm only 32, but I'm still in shock that the big 4-0 is now in my age bracket!

How Do I Do It?

Jodie asked this question a few weeks ago: "With all that you guys have been through with the adoptions and how blessed you have been with your 3 beautiful boys, you have to share how you handled 3 children, boys no less, that were so close in age." Honestly, I had to laugh out loud when I read that question! I know Jodie personally, as she and Rick used to be co-workers when we lived in that beautiful mountain state. (Sigh. I'll try not to get distracted by that thought. The thought of how much I miss Colorado. Moving on.)

Because I know Jodie, I know that she works, mothers two kids beautifully (often single-handedly as her hubby travels a lot), and saves time for her own hobbies, the question is not how do I do it, but how do you do it, Jodie? I stay home with my boys for two reasons. One, I don't want to miss anything that they do! Second, I would be a terrible working mom. Terrible, I tell you! Either my children would go hungry, or the house would be in absolute shambles, or the boss would fire me for not completing my "real" job. I simply do not have enough energy for a full-time job and my family. Thankfully, Rick understands, agrees with, and supports me on this issue, so I get to stay home with my boys.

But because I do get that question often, I will address it. And this is the point in which I sit here drumming my fingers on the keyboard, because I don't know how to answer the question. How do I do it? I don't know. I just do. Sometimes I fly by the seat of my pants. Sometimes I'm wonderfully scheduled and planned. Sometimes we have a wonderfully productive day full of sunshine and laughter. Other days are full of tears and timeouts.

But there are some things that I have figured out that help me keep my hair in their follicles and smiles on my boys' faces. These things must take place every day:
1. My day starts with a diet Coke. If I could afford the calories, it would be Dr. Pepper.
2. We have blanket time every morning.
3. All three boys take an afternoon nap. Thank the Lord God in heaven above!
4. During nap time, I blog and accomplish my to-do list from the couch. I force myself to sit down for at least an hour. Without this time to recharge my feet, I could not finish out the day.
5. All toys must be picked up before nap and bedtime. I cannot stand clutter!
6. All dishes must be picked up after each meal. I hate facing dirty lunch dishes at dinner.
7. These boys are taken outside every possible moment. They sweat, get dirty, and run wild, and I freckle in the sun.

It's never a dull moment around here, that's for sure.

WFMW: No More Forgotten Stains

If you're like me, your brain seems to forget minor details between the time you start a load of clothes in the washer and the time that the clothes need to moved to the dryer. By the time I remember to move those wet clothes to the dryer, I've forgotten that there was a red stain on that white shirt. When I remember that red stain, it's too late and that pesky stain is set after being heated in the dryer.

This is my remedy:

This dry erase board holds my memory and hangs on the wall next to the washer. As I treat a stained piece of clothing and place it in the washer, I put a simple note on this board next to that person's initial. For instance, if Jack's khaki shorts are stained, I write "khaki shorts" next to his initial. When it's time to move that load of wet clothes to the dryer, my note helps me remember to check those shorts for cleanliness before putting them in the dryer.

Works for me!

Disney Cruise Anyone?

That title might be a bit of a teaser. No, I'm not giving away a Disney cruise. If I had a cruise to give away, I'd be on that cruise right now! Yes, I'm selfish that way.

We are, however, considering a Disney cruise for next year's vacation. 7 nights, lots of activities for all ages, basking in the Caribbean sun, etc. It sounds like a great time. But is it? Has anyone out there taken a Disney cruise? Can anyone out there tell me if it would be as much as fun as it seems? Our boys will be 5 and 3 by the time we would cruise. If you have taken this trip, please leave me a comment or an email and let me know if this cruise was a blast or bust! If you know of someone who has taken this trip, please send them over to my blog.

Monday, Monday

I am in a rotten mood today, and I keep wondering why. But I think I've nailed it down to the following:

1. It's Monday.
2. We had an amazingly fun weekend as a family, and it's over, being that it's Monday.
3. I'm craving junk food, being that it's Monday, and I need to seriously cut back after eating everything within arm's reach over the weekend.
4. I hate my hair, and that has nothing to do with the fact that it's Monday.

I think #1 sums it up the best.

How's your Monday?

Friday Funny

This edition is coming from an email I received long ago. A first-grade teacher gave her students one-half of a famous quote and asked them to finish the quotes. Here is one:

"If at first you don't succeed...get new batteries."

And another:

"When the blind lead the blind...get out of the way."

Happy Friday!

Preconceived Notions

Before becoming a mommy, I had some preconceived notions about how parenting would run.
Item 1: I will not sleep through the night for the first few months. Check.
Item 2: I will love my children immensely. Check.
Item 3: I will dread potty training. Check.

I also had some preconceived notions about children's likes and dislikes.
Item A: Children who hate vegetables hate vegetables because their parents hate vegetables. Wrong.
Item B: Children who fear the dark fear the dark because their parents teach them to fear the dark. Wrong.
Item C: Children who fear bugs fear bugs because their parents freak out at the sight of a bug. WRONG!

Explanations for my wrongness on children's likes and dislikes:
Item A: Rick and I eat vegetables daily, not only because we know that we need to eat veggies but because we enjoy them. Give me a plate full of broccoli over a burger any day. Two of my boys, however, think that vegetables come directly from Satan.

Item B: Rick and I do not fear the dark. Our house is too bright at night, in fact. Some of those black-out curtains in our bedroom would be a great investment. Liam, however, flips out if we do not leave a lamp on for him. A lamp that might signal the astronauts to our exact location.

Item C: Rick and I have shown ZERO fear of bugs to our kids. Jackson, our "all boy", has an all-out phobia of bugs. During our picnic today, he went absolutely ballistic when a butterfly landed on his arm. A butterfly, y'all!

Can anyone please explain how this happens?!

Wordless Wednesday: The Love of Hats

October 2006
For more WW participants, please visit 5 Minutes for Mom.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Because I'd rather our dinner not consist of frost-bitten chicken and stale tortilla chips, I decided to buy groceries today. I typically try to not take all three boys with me to buy two weeks' worth of food, being that their attention spans don't allow them to sit like little angels for the 1 1/2 hours that it takes to accomplish this task. However, life seems to be getting in the way of convenience these days, so off we went this morning.

The boys were really pretty good in the grocery store. The only problem was my embarrassment. I wanted to crawl under the grocery basket when Liam spoke freely to a scantily-clad woman in the bath and beauty aisle: "Your shirt...what's wrong with it? It's too little." Her shirt was lacking in the modesty department, especially considering she was in the grocery store and not a strip tease. I had to think quickly to pull my jaw off the floor and quiet Liam before he embarrassed me any further. But all I could say was, "Liam!" He hushed, but Jack couldn't stop himself from hanging out of the basket to lean over and take notice of her three-inch heeled sandals and say, "Shoes! Ouch!"

My next move was to push the basket and the boys from aisle 16 to maybe aisle 99! Only I couldn't move fast enough before Jack continued shouting, "Mommy! Lady's shoes! Too big!" And I replied with "Boys, hush!"

Being that Liam and Jack are 4 and 2 respectively, I can't expect them to know better than to comment on this woman's outfit. I'll need to teach them to use some tact, I suppose. She really could use another two yards of fabric to cover her body in order to shop in our local grocery store, so maybe she could use some lessons on tactfulness as well. What do you think?


Last Monday, I asked for your questions to give my writing brain a jump start. Margaret asked two questions, one of which I answered on Tuesday. Today, I will attempt to answer her second question. She asked, "What advice would you give another couple considering adoption?"

Besides my kids, adoption is my favorite topic. I remember when Rick and I were engaged, he mentioned that he would like to adopt one day. The thought of adoption scared me back then. At that time, I pictured adoption as nothing but trying and difficult. But I remember praying like this: "God, if we are to adopt in our future, please change my heart. If we are not, then please change Rick's." Well...you see what happened! God took my hard heart and softened it to the point that nothing short of adoption would fulfill my desire to be a mother. I could have chosen in vetro fertilization, but when the fertility doctor said that IVF was my last choice, I said, "No, it's not. I can adopt."

In the very beginning of our adoption journey, I still pictured my baby as a blond, blue-eyed, freckled child...just like Rick and I appeared as children. But when we went to the agency's first informational meeting, I saw that we were going to have to wait in line for our white, all-American baby. There were about 10 other couples in the same stage, and I felt like we were going to have to compete to get the birth moms' attention. It just didn't feel right to us. We took a step back and asked ourselves again, "What is it that we really want? Does it matter that this baby looks like us?" Of utmost importance to us was that we become parents to a human, because we had already tried parenting a dog, which was fun but not quite all that we wanted!

That's when we decided that our hearts were being pulled to Africa and began the process to adopt a girl from Sierra Leone. As I've mentioned before, that international program became shaky and we decided to stop funding the adoption that might never be. But our hearts were still drawn to black children, so all of our adoptions from that point on were for African Americans.

That is a long way of giving my first bit of advice to the prospective adoptive couple: don't be narrow-minded. If we had continued to search for a white baby, the wait would've been longer. Liam's adoption only took 9 months, and that time includes the eight failed adoptions! It's sad but very true, so I'll go ahead and be blunt...most adoptive couples don't want black babies. But if you can open your heart to becoming a trans-racial family, there are so many black babies that need stable families! And you don't have to go to Africa. They're right here in your own backyard.

We went through two agencies before finding the "right fit" for us. The first agency felt too competitive, and the second one wasn't upfront with some information. Therefore, my second piece of advice is...choose your agency wisely. Talk to other adoptive families and ask if they would use their agency again. Don't be afraid to back out of a program if you feel uneasy.

With Jack's adoption, we felt comfortable enough to forego an agency. Instead, we hired our social worker and attorney independently. We saved a lot of money this way, but I would not suggest this to the novice adoptive family. An agency will cost you more money, but a good agency will also provide you with the help that you will need along the way.

An adoption consultant is another option. A competent consultant will have contacts with many agencies that often have "ready-to-go" babies. We went this route with Garrett, after Jack's adoption was so heart-wrenching. Our consultant was able to help us find Garrett on quick notice.

Yes, adoption can be expensive! Depending on which program you choose, you can expect to spend $12,000-30,000. Yikes! But the IRS does give tax credits to help with the financial burden. We have been able to realize our tax credits every year for the past three years, so it's a nice little bonus every April!

My last bit of advice for the prospective adoptive family is to pray, pray, pray. Adoption is wonderfully rewarding, but there can be trials that come your way. Cover your adoption journey in prayer so that God's will can be allowed into your family. And don't forget that He knows which child needs you, so ask Him to guide you to that child.

I'm sure that I scare some people away when I talk about our eight failed adoptions. Yes, it hurt. Yes, it might happen to you once or twice, but I really doubt that you'll have to face that failure eight times. I also know families that never once faced that heartache, because they were able to get their children on their first attempts. Please don't shy away from adoption because of fear. There are so many children that need forever families!

If you have other questions, I'm open to answering them for you. You can leave me a comment or an email, and I'll try to help you the best I can.

Friday Funny

I received this in an email yesterday and thought it was too appropriate for today's funny. NOTE: This is NOT about my family!

So, at the time of this story we had this great 10-year old cat named Jack. Jack was a great cat, and the kids would carry him around and sit on him and nothing ever bothered him. He used to hang out and nap all day long on this mat in our bathroom.

Well, we have 3 kids and at the time of this story they were 4 years old, 3 years old and 1 year old. The middle one is Eli. Eli really loves chapstick. LOVES it. He kept asking to use my chapstick and then losing it. So finally one day I showed him where in the bathroom I keep my chapstick and how he could use it whenever he wanted to, but he needed to put it right back in the drawer when he was done.

Last year on Mother's Day, we were having the typical rush around trying to get ready for church with everyone crying and carrying on. My two boys are fighting over the toy in the cereal box. I am trying to nurse my little one at the same time I am putting on my make-up. Everything is a mess and everyone has long forgotten that this is a wonderful day to honor me and the amazing job that is motherhood. We finally have the older one and the baby loaded in the car, and I am looking for Eli. I have searched everywhere, and I finally round the corner to go into the bathroom. And there was Eli. He was applying my chapstick very carefully to Jack's . . . rear end. Eli looked right into my eyes and said "chapped."

Now if you have a cat, you know that he is right--their little bottoms do look pretty chapped. And, frankly, Jack didn't seem to mind.

And the only question really to ask at that point was whether it was the FIRST time Eli had done that to the cat's behind -- or the hundredth. And THAT is my favorite Mother's Day moment ever, because it reminds us that no matter how hard we try to civilize these glorious little creatures, there will always be that day when you realize they've been using your chapstick on the cat's bottom.

Happy Mother's Day!


There's this meme floating around Bloggityville lately that I just can't continue to pass up any longer. This meme consists of seven things about me. Here goes....

1. I nearly drowned as a five year-old. I got into water too deep over my head, and I remember the horribly helpless feeling of bobbing up and down and trying with every ounce of my body to scream for help. When my parents discovered me, my lips were turning blue. I made it, obviously, but I still have a fear of the water to this day. I do not want water in my face at any time, including the shower. But I do mange to wash my face regularly, thankyouverymuch.

2. I abhor june bugs! They are the most disgusting insects on the face of this earth. This phobia also dates back to my early childhood when one got tangled in my long hair. Those nasty things tend to gravitate towards my hair every summer.

3. I have a tattoo. I'm too lazy to get the camera to take a picture of it right now. It's a black icthus (the Christian fish) on my left ankle. My mother hates it. I like it. I want another one. (Hi, Mom.)

4. I secretly want six kids. (Hi, Rick.)

5. I graduated from college with three credit hours shy of a double major. Yes, that's right, only three hours short of it. I could not force myself to stick around one more semester for the one required course that I needed. I don't know if my parents know that fact. (Hi, Mom.)

6. I used my degree to teach math and science for five years before becoming a mommy. I miss the actual teaching part, but I haven't missed the parents for one day. Parents, be nice to your kids' teachers!

7. I want to skydive!

That was fun. Hope you enjoyed it. If you want to join in on your own blog, consider yourself tagged and leave me a comment so that I can check yours out.

Time Will Tell

Thanks to Margaret for question numero uno to get my brain back in writing mode. She asked two questions, but they each deserve their own post. Today's question is: "Have you considered adopting more or is your family complete?"

Just last night, I was watching a show on TLC about a family with thirteen kids! Oh my word, that wears me out just typing it! I was watching this show in my bed last night, because anything past 9pm must occur with my pillow under my head, quite frankly. Rick came to bed during the last few minutes of the show. When he realized what I was watching, he covered his head with his pillow and said, "I do NOT want thirteen kids!" I laughed and asked how many he would like. As I asked this, I silently prayed, "Please say at least four!" But he didn't. "Three is just enough for me," he said with pure exhaustion filling every square inch of our bedroom.

To give him credit, he had just spent the entire evening in the backyard with the boys, while I kept my allergy-laden body in the air conditioning. Nothing will wear him out more than working a full day at the office and coming home to hit the backyard in 99% humidity with squealing boys. Word to the wise: do not ask your husband for more children after he's been playing outdoors with the children for three hours in addition to his normal work day!

To put all kidding aside, yes, we want to adopt again. Although we have days like yesterday, where we are completely worn out and wonder how in the world we could handle just one more child, we both know deep in our hearts that we are not finished. I would really like to have a girl.

Will we stop with one more baby? I don't know. I imagine that Rick would adamantly say "Yes!", but I can't imagine ever being finished!

Before we got Liam, I remember another adoptive mom telling me that adoption is addictive. I thought that sounded crazy at the time, but it is very true. It's like eating just one chip. How can you take just one, when you know how wonderful they are?! I'll take a handful, please.

The next question people typically ask is, "When?" I'm not certain. I can tell you that I am not ready right now. I still have two in diapers, for goodness sake! It would be nice to get Jack and Garrett potty trained and a bit more independent before adding a fourth child. Maybe in another two years. Only time will tell.

But I can tell you with great certainty that we will not have thirteen kids! Mercy!

I Want to Hear from You!

This is my 103rd post. For several weeks, I had been thinking about how to commemorate my 100th post. I hadn't really come up with anything earth shattering, so when the century mark actually fell on the day before Garrett's surgery, I decided talk about him instead. Now that I've spent the last six days worrying over his health, I'm ready to write about something else.

A lot of bloggers celebrate their one-hundredth post with 100 factual and sometimes quirky tidbits about themselves. However, I might bore you to death with 100 facts about me. Not only am I not that exciting, but I'm suffering from some writer's block.

So, here's what I'm thinking...why don't you post a comment with a question or a topic of discussion for me. My site meter tells me that there are 35 of you faithful readers out there, so don't be shy! Hit me with your best shot! But please keep it family friendly.

Hoping for a Facelift

I would love, love, love to win this contest for a new blog design from Everyday Mommy!

The Patient

Garrett made it through surgery yesterday without any problems. Thanks for thinking about him!

He was actually inerested in eating a little bit last night, but he insisted on wearing his sunglasses during the process. Whatever you want, my child, so long as you eat.
He is pretty fussy today. He's pretty much refusing to swallow his own saliva, so this is proving to be a difficult day. When he sees me coming towards him with a drink, he starts hitting me. Isn't he sweet? I'm being patient, because I know he's miserable, but I am concerned about keeping him hydrated.

He refused to let me hold him this morning, even though I knew that he would fall asleep if he would just let me rock him for a few minutes. This is how I found him a few minutes later:

He's standing at the couch, leaning over with his blanket, and sleeping to the point of snoring! I picked him up and put him to bed for a two-hour nap.

My mom is here so that I can try to nap, so I better pull myself away from the computer. Talk to you later.

D-Day for Garrett

For the last couple of days, I've found myself telling Garrett "I love you" more often than usual. You know, something like 200 times instead of 150. And when I tell him of my love, I silently add, "And I'm sorry for what your about to go through." Why? Because I know that tomorrow is Doom's Day for him, the day in which he will undergo a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. Thankfully, he doesn't have any idea what is about to happen to him. But I sure as heck do, and I hurt for him when I think about the recovery process.

He has snored since he was very young, and I really thought nothing of it, until we began to notice that he was also suffering from sleep apnea. Because it's slightly important to breathe continually throughout the night, his ENT wants to remove his extra large tonsils and adenoids. We're also hoping that perhaps his eating will improve, after the recovery, once his throat has more room for the large adult-sized bites that he insists on forcing down his throat.

Anyway, I remember the excruciating pain from my own tonsillectomy as an eight year-old. I remember my mom telling me, "Ami, you have to start swallowing your saliva. You will never get better if you don't start swallowing." And I remember thinking, "WHAT?! You want me to swallow my spit?! It may seem simple to you, but swallowing my spit feels like swallowing a bucket of nails!" That is why I hurt for my baby Garrett.

And so, I ask that you please say a prayer or two for him. The surgery itself is tomorrow at 8 am CST and should be short and simple. The recovery process is what I'm dreading. He will be on liquids for the first 24 hours, and I can slowly add soft "solids" thereafter. He is to avoid rough play for a week. No spicy, acidic, or rough foods for 3 weeks. Please pray for much less pain than I am anticipating for him, and please pray that he will have a strong desire to drink in order to avoid dehydration. And you can pray for my sanity, if you like. Thanks!

Praying for Heather

Heather is a 32 year-old mother of three with a brain tumor. She will be having brain surgery on Thursday. We, in Bloggityville, are rallying around her and her family by prayer.