the homepage of gregory and ann kline

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Two Years

Being the totally awesome mom that I am, I almost forgot what today was. Two years ago today was when Marcus legally joined our family! Only two years? It seems like forever to me.

Me and my baby after and tiring day at the embassy. Wow, those days of him sleeping cuddled up with me seem so long ago!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rad Moves

We are now fans of Backyardigans in this house. Our DVR is set up to record it and it is my choice of show to keep the kids entertained while I make lunch. I kept putting on this one episode that is on our DVR because I really liked the music. After the third viewing in three days, the kids were really digging the songs too. One of the songs is all about having rad surfer moves. Marcus spent most of yesterday dancing and chanting, "Rad moves! Rad moves!" I did my best to catch some of my kids' rad moves on video but as usual, when the camera comes on, they aren't quite as free about their moves. It didn't help that there was something in the way of my camera too.


Monday, October 27, 2008

The World According to Will

I sometimes feel like Will doesn't get the spotlight on my blog all that often. He just isn't as demanding of attention as certain other people in this household are and he is generally happy to just go with the flow. He doesn't feel the need to be on center stage and is happy to let other people take that role. It doesn't help matters that he is in that 18-24 month age range either where the typical toddler behavior isn't really something I want to be reliving on my blog. Plus, he is the second child. So sad that this is true but once you have been through it with kid #1, when the second kid does something it doesn't really seem all that new and exciting.

Will is my social butterfly. He makes friends so easily and is quick to buddy up to almost anyone who wants to play. He still says hello to everyone while we shop. (On Friday he said hello to someone and when I turned to see who it was, it ended up being my cousin.) He tends to eye people up if they make first contact though.

Despite the fact that he is very outgoing socially, he tends to be cautious when it comes to doing new things. If you ask him if he wants to try a new activity he will back away and say, "No." Once he gets his mind made up about something, there is no chance he is going to change it either. Even if he sees other kids enjoying the new activity, he has already decided to be against it and that is that.

I have no idea what kind of things he is into. He doesn't really show any more interest towards one thing than he does another. Will does show a lot of athletic ability though. He can throw and catch a ball, dribble a ball, loves to kick, and is always interested in running around with Greg's football. Tackling Marcus also is great fun. Once he decides to try something, he has to master it. He gets his mind set on something and just does it nonstop until he really gets it.

And boy can that kid dance! He does this hysterical dance move where he kicks his leg out. A little bit of music comes on and he is dancing and bopping to the beat.

He has great manners, as I mentioned before. He is starting to say, "Excuse me," when he toots now instead of, "Whoa." He almost always says, "Thank you." I haven't really pushed "please" because he went through a long phase of screaming, "PLEEEASSSEEE!!!" anytime he thought he should get something he wanted. Every time I sneeze he say, "Bless you, Mommy." I don't have a clue where he learned that one.

He has gone poopy on the potty a couple times now. It is all because we have tricked him into it. We have noticed him starting to go and we run him to the bathroom and sit him there. He has been asking to go to the potty a lot and we have been curbing his enthusiasm for it because I am just not ready for it. I don't think that his bladder is mature enough for it either. We put him on the potty every night before bath and he hasn't figured out what he is really supposed to be doing while he is sitting there.

He is quite the daddy's boy. Always has been. Even his foster family told us that he was pleasant all day for his foster mom but when his foster father would come home, he would just go crazy with excitement. That is about how it is here. He just thinks Greg is the best. Greg is pretty awesome so I really can't blame him.

He has never been too big of a cuddlier, just too busy being on the move. He will sit and hang out for a minute but then he is off to do something else. He is all into giving me hugs the last few days. I am loving it of course. Tonight I was putting some lotion on him after bath and he basically shoved my hands away just so he could snuggle up to me and give me a hug.

Will is currently going through an identity crisis. Many people will tell you that they just don't know who they are. Will really doesn't know. He calls Marcus Will most of the time. Sometimes he will call himself Will and then point to Marcus and call him Will too. He often asks, "Where Will go?" I am pretty much at a loss on how to answer that one, because if he doesn't know where he is, how am I to know?

That kid has still got that killer smile with that little dimple and a laugh that is utterly contagious. I just can't stop tickling that kid because his laughter makes me so happy. Sure, there are times when he does make me feel anger or frustration, but every minute of every day he makes me feel love. You just can't beat that.


Friday, October 24, 2008

More Adoption Talk

As any adoptive parent will tell you, the more time goes on the less you think about your kids' adoption. The adoption is something that happened in the past. After that is over, they are just your kids. Before the adoption I read a lot about raising adopted kids and interracial families. I am sure a lot of it will be more important when my kids get older and start asking questions and have friends with questions and such. I was all prepared in the beginning for how I would answer questions from strangers. Then I didn't get any questions. Every once in awhile someone approaches me about my kids' adoption and I usually try to write about it here because this did start out as a blog about adoption. Until this week, it had been a couple months since someone has made any comments about the fact that I am Caucasian and my kids are Hispanic. Then it happened twice this week!

I was at the grocery store with my kids this morning and had the following conversation with the cashier:

Her: Your kids don't look anything like you.
Me: No, they don't.
Her: They must look like their dad.
Me: Yep, funny how that works out sometimes.

Now, I really have no clue what either of my son's birthfathers look like but I am pretty certain that they got some physical characteristics from their birthfathers.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Tell-Tale Sign

How do you know you moved too close to your parents? When your dad says he is coming over and you spot him coming down your driveway on his riding mower. We do live close to my parents now, but not THAT close. Or at least I didn't think so until today. We haven't invested in a riding mower of our own yet and our yard is way too big to cut with a push mower in a reasonable amount of time, so my dad offered to come over once this fall and mow our lawn for us. I told him that it probably wouldn't be necessary because our grass really wasn't so bad. Greg discovered pretty quickly that raking leaves and getting them out of our yard was going to be pretty unrealistic without a little mechanical assistance. (See giant pile of leaves in post below.) I asked dear old dad if maybe he could help out with the leaves. Then there he was, driving down my driveway in his cute blue hat. He said it only took him 25 minutes to get here, which is only about 20 minutes longer than it takes by car. Not bad...

The kids were napping when my dad arrived but they were thrilled (and confused) to see him outside when they got up. We went out on the porch to visit and as soon as Marcus spotted his Pap-pap coming around the corner of the house he started saying, "Marcus ride tractor!" And so it was.

(Notice they both have the exact same expression on their faces. This is the face that both my dad and my son get when they are having fun. It is that whole glazed over and taking in the moment look.)

Will opted not to take a tractor ride, but he was highly interested in sitting on the tractor.

I thought my dad was just going to help out with the leaves. Three hours later the leaves were gone and my entire lawn was nicely mowed. Dad, you are totally awesome! Thank you so much for outdoing yourself! I hope you had a nice ride back home.

FYI, I get my fashion sense from my dad. Mostly. I mean, I might even have to draw the line at wearing that hat. Blue just isn't my color.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Just in Time for Cold Weather...

Fall is upon us. As beautiful as the leaves are and as much as I like apple cider, I am not the least bit thrilled with the fact that we are looking at several months of being stuck inside permanently.

Just in time for cold weather...
Imagination is really developing. At least Marcus's. This is definitely a plus because it opens up a whole world of play, one that we can really use while we are confined to the indoors. Earlier this week we made a (big surprise here since it was all Marcus's idea) a train. Marcus got all the chairs set up and I added the tunnel for some added fun.

Marcus kept yelling at Will all day, "Ride choo choo, Will!" The only downfall with Marcus's imagination is that Will doesn't quite get it yet. We have had a couple arguments that have resulted from this. The other day Marcus made Will some invisible cake. Marcus kept telling Will, "Cake, Will!" but Will was utterly confused as to why Marcus was chasing him around with nothing and just kept running and screaming, "NOOOOOOO!"

Just in time for cold weather...
The kids finally got to explore their playhouse that came with our new house. Greg was hard at work raking leaves and despite my input of, "This is going to end badly," he thought this was a good idea.

I was right. Marcus was in tears. Fortunately Greg was able to convince him that leaves were fun.

Then Will was happy to join in the fun.

While they were messing around with leaves, I was trimming back all the jaggers (thorny bushes for those of you not familiar with my dialect) and other overgrown foliage that covered the path a short distance into the woods behind our house where the playhouse is hidden. The kids weren't too crazy about crossing the swinging rope bridge to get to the playhouse, but once there they seemed happy to enjoy it.

And there was a truck inside! Not too much else there to do and not all that cool when your parents are with you instead of you just hiding from them, but it was nice... for 5 minutes. Probably won't end up going back to the playhouse until spring.

Just in Time for cold weather...
I have decided we need to bike more. I took the kids by myself to the Montour Trail on Monday for a little ride. It was downhill in the direction we took and I decided to turn around after two miles because it suddenly became drastically downhill and I knew I would never make it back up that hill with two kids in tow. Then I had the joy of going uphill for two miles with the kids riding comfortably behind me. It was not helping that my bike is still out of order. I really need to get that fixed. I just have to find a bike shop, and do it soon before I lose my desire to keep biking. Even though it was a lot of work, it was also great exercise and a lot of fun. I have this wild fantasy of getting my bike fixed and leaving Greg with the kids for a couple hours so I can bike some hills and maybe even some mountain bike trails. I just know that I will be impressed with my speed and maneuverability when I don't have kids dragging me down. And I mean that nicely.

Just in time for cold weather...
I discovered an indoor playgroup thing. My mom used to go sometimes with my niece and nephew. It is once a week in a big church social hall. We went to check it out today. It was great! So relaxed and just a couple kids running around and playing with some toys. There was no structure or commitment involved - just moms and grandmas and kids having fun. It turned out that this week it was all boys there too. Next week they are doing a little fall party thing and I plan to be there. I'll probably take the kids too. Oh, and on an adoption topic, someone at the playgroup asked me what nationality my husband was. I have heard that is a common question adoptive families get so I was prepared for it even though it was the first time someone asked me. I was half tempted to say, "He's Caucasian. What nationality is your husband?" I was trying to make friends though and decided (for once) not to be snarky and just said Greg is Caucasian and we adopted our children from Guatemala. Then the woman talked about how wonderful I am for adopting and I got embarrassed because it really isn't like that and it is weird when people tell you you are wonderful. I mean, I know I am wonderful, but adopting two kids isn't why.

I think there were a couple more things I was going to write about too but I don't remember and this entry is long enough so I suppose I'll post again soon.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Family Fun

With all this house selling and buying and moving and Greg working crazy hours, I can't remember the last time we did something together - just the four of us - that didn't involve errands. I woke up Thursday morning and decided that I just needed to get out. I needed to do something fun outside that I really enjoy and haven't gotten to do. Everyone tells you when you have kids that your life will change, but no one tells you that you will find yourself wondering how you ever stopped doing some of the things you really love. I love bike riding. Always have. Loved it when I was a kid. Got into mountain biking in high school and college. Before kids I used to go to the park every single day after work in the summer and bike. What happened to that girl? Thursday morning after making the realization that I could actually still bike with kids, and Greg too, I sent an email off to Greg and we made plans. The unfortunate part was that we were supposed to go to a housewarming party today but that just didn't happen. We were in just too much dire need for some family time. Sorry!

We got everything together this morning and headed out before 10 am. We went to one of my favorite places in the whole world, Ohiopyle, PA. I have spent so much time hiking, biking, white water rafting, and camping there. I even tried kayaking there at one point but finally decided that wasn't for me. I was concerned about the weather. The high temperature today was in the 50's. I knew it wouldn't be too bad for Greg and me but since the kids were just going to be sitting and getting wind in their faces the entire time, I packed layers and layers of clothing for them. First thing we did was eat a little picnic lunch. We decided to conserve energy and just stay at the car. Plus, it was a little cold be sitting out on a picnic bench or on the ground. I told Greg to get over by the kids so I could get a picture of the three of them since I don't have too many good ones. I guess this is as good as it gets.

We got an extra special treat while eating our lunch. Just so happens we were parked right by some train tracks which are frequently used!

The kids were so excited about the bike ride that they were climbing in the trailer before we were ready. Since we were concerned about the temperature, we started off the bike ride with the trailer closed to keep some of the wind off of them. I was able to get a rare picture where they were both looking at the camera... I think.

A very short distance into the bike ride and we were at a bridge crossing the Youghiogheny River. What a beautiful fall day!

Then we were in paradise. It was so beautiful I almost cried. I just wanted to wrap up all these colors and take them home with me. This picture doesn't even come close to capturing how beautiful it was.

I only biked that part of the trail once, about 10 years ago. I had a vague memory of this really cool spot on the trail and decided that we wouldn't stop until we got there. The trail is basically flat, just a gentle decline as it runs along the downward flowing river. Greg suggested at one point that we should probably head back but I told him my plan to keep going to this spot I remembered - as long as it wasn't more than 2 more miles. I was tired. It didn't help that my bike is in some serious need of servicing and only 2 of the 21 gears were working. We ended up taking a little break before getting to my desired destination. Greg and I needed a rest and the kids needed to stretch their legs. We did some leaf throwing.

Then a little posing with Greg because I was determined to get a good picture of the three of them.

Then Marcus had to poop. Right there in the middle of the woods where the only running water was the river. There wasn't even a bucket in sight. Really, what else were we to do?

(Greg said I should have zoomed in so you could see Marcus's bare bum hanging over the edge of the log but I felt it was more kind to let my readers just use their imagination.)

Soon enough, we were back on the trail. The kids really like riding in the bike trailer, despite facial expressions that might tell you differently.

Less than a 1/2 mile later, finally got to where I was headed. Just a few minutes earlier we had heard a trail going by on the other side of the river. I had really hoped we would have made it to our destination a little bit sooner. It was still very beautiful!

This group of trees looked very tropical to me.

Shortly after we turned around to head back to our car I thought, Maybe Greg knew what he was talking about 2 miles back when he suggested we turn around. We had biked 6 miles to get to the little clearing overlooking the river, which meant we had to bike another 6 miles to get back to our car. This time, we were also heading upstream so it was 6 miles of gentle incline. About a mile into it Will fell asleep. Another mile and Marcus was totally slumped over in the trailer zonked out. I tried to get a picture of this but as soon as I stopped both kids looked up at me with droopy eyes. Back to pedalling and they were out again. A couple more miles and my knees started getting really irritated at me for continually bending and straightening them. Those last two miles I started to wonder if I was even going to make it. If I would have had the energy, I might have had a party right there on the trail when I saw some people walking. Greg said it was like seeing seagulls and knowing you are close to shore. About 2 1/2 hours and 12 miles later, we were back to where we started. We felt it was necessary to treat ourselves after all that family fun with a little ice cream.

On the way out of town, we stopped at this restroom in Ohiopyle. I took this picture of the outside of the restroom because I thought it was really funny. If you can guess why I thought it was funny you will get a great big "Attaboy!" from me. The answer will be reveled in an upcoming blog... if I remember.


Trolley Ride

My mom came over yesterday and we didn't have a thing planned. Suddenly we decided to head out to the Trolley Museum. We were packed up and out the door in 10 minutes. Okay, so it took a little longer than that...

I had never been to the Trolley Museum or even ridden a trolley. Sad really since that was pretty much how my mom and dad got around here when they were little. For something that is such a big history of my town, I was most certainly never a part of it. The kids were all about it since we told them that we were going on a choo choo ride.

We just missed the pumpkin trolley so we took a ride on a different trolley first. We were the only ones on the trolley for a few minutes and the driver guy let Marcus and Will ring the bell and blow the horn. (Just a little FYI, my kids are really happy. They just choose not to smile or laugh or really show any joy in most pictures. You will just have to trust me when I say they had fun.)

We hopped off that trolley and got onto the pumpkin trolley. We were with a group of people and lots of little boys that were all in the same age bracket as Marcus and Will. We took another short ride and got to stop and watch a real train coupling up with some cars.

When we got back a lady took our group to pick pumpkins. It was kind of funny because I was expecting a pumpkin patch. Nope, it was just a little grassy area with some scarecrows and hay bales and a bunch of pumpkins sitting around for choosing.

We took our pumpkins inside and got to decorate them with little sticky things, pipe cleaners, and markers. Marcus and Will were only mildly interested in that. Mostly they wanted to play with the miniature replica of a trolley.

Pretty cool little outing. Definitely got our money's worth since the kids were free and it was only a couple bucks for Mom and me. The trip was geared towards younger kids so we might do it again next year but probably will be boring to them in a few years. I had fun though! Marcus was still talking about the choo choo ride today too so I am thinking he liked it.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Impeccable Manners

Will amazes me with his manners. Every time he burps he sweetly says, "Excuse me." It doesn't end there. Every time he farts he says, "Whoa!"


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Quick and Dirty

So much stuff I have wanted to post about and just haven't had/taken the time to sit down and do it. Here it goes!

- Jennifer is currently in Guatemala with her beautiful daughter Karla! That thought just makes my heart smile. She also started a blog. To check it out, click here.

- Started a tradition a few years ago of hanging out with our friends Amanda and Kevin on Columbus Day. We all happened to have the day off work. Kevin no longer gets the day off and Amanda and Greg both got forced to work on the holiday. Too bad for them. I still celebrated. My concertBFF Brian came over and we played guitar on the porch. Happy to announce, at least I am still part of the Columbus Day tradition. Too bad for the rest of you.

- Melissa came over today with her kids Grant and Sophia. Haven't seen them in forever and now we live closer to each other so we better quit with the excuses. This was only the second time I got to hang out with Sophia. What a sweetie. She wanted me to pick her up just before they left. Greg was home "sick" from work today and I was trying to show him how awesome I looked with a little girl on my hip. Not sure he was going for it... at least not yet. We seriously could use some more estrogen in this house, don't ya think?

- Marcus's imagination has been completely cracking me up. The other day he asked to take Bear outside. I said Bear couldn't go outside. Bear didn't even have shoes on. Marcus put his shoes on Bear. Then I explained that Bear could go outside but then Marcus would have to stay inside because Marcus didn't have shoes on. Marcus put his shoes on and left Bear inside. Yesterday Marcus helped Bear use the potty. He held Bear on the potty and started making grunting noises. He said, "Bear poop." Then, "Marcus wipe Bear bum." I gave Marcus a little piece of toilet paper so he could wipe Bear's bum. Then he took a close look at Bear's bum and shouted, "Oh no! Dirty mess! More wipe!" This evening we were watching Jon and Kate Plus 8. The little kids were getting ready to go to pre-school. Marcus was flipping out and yelling at me, "Marcus school too!" He was getting really mad at me when I kept telling him he could go next year. Time to put that imagination to work. I got out Marcus and Will's backpacks and announced we were all going to school. The kids took a seat at their little table and I got out notebooks so they could draw what they did today. Wonder how much longer I can get away with pretending to give Marcus what he wants and that satisfying him?

- Went out last night with concertBFF to see Tim Reynold's and his band (TR3) at Hard Rock in Pittsburgh. Decent night. Wasn't totally off the wall about the show but enjoyed some really fine guitar playing. Probably would have enjoyed a solo Tim show better. Didn't get home until about 1am. The kids didn't seem to get that they should have slept in today. I'm tired.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Parties and Pumpkins

We had quite a busy weekend around here!

Yesterday we headed up to Greg's parents' house. They were having a wild shindig to celebrate Grandpa Sam's 85th birthday. Maybe not THAT wild but there were lots of relatives and good food there. We were having a lot of fun and I didn't even realize how long we had been there. The kids were enjoying their great aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins. Will even snuggled up to his Great Grandpa Sam for some story reading.

The trip did mess with nap time a bit. We decided to just keep messing with nap time and have another day totally off our normal schedule.

Today I took the kids to meet up with my mom, sister, niece and nephew at a local dairy farm. Greg's work schedule is all cattywampus these next few days and he had to miss out on the fun to head into the office on a Sunday. (He left around 11 this morning and it is almost 9:00 and still no word about when he is heading home.) Last year we did this same dairy farm trip but Will was still in Guatemala and didn't get to join us. I remember so well how I couldn't believe when I looked at those pictures of Marcus that day last year how huge he was. Marcus had just learned to walk this time last year. This morning Marcus and I looked at the pictures again and he looked so little!

We got there a little early which gave us some time to enjoy some of the activities they had set up for the kids. My favorite thing of the whole trip was this little baby cow that was so friendly. She came right over to us and was licking us and loving up all of the petting. I just wanted to take her home. I am thinking that come this time next year though I would be commenting about how little she used to be. Marcus thought the kisses were really funny.

Will kept saying, "Hi Moo. Hey there Moo." It was the cutest thing ever.

I tried to get a cute picture with a bunch of pumpkins. Will was having none of that.

Will was much more fond of driving the tractor

and playing in the cornbox (like a sandbox but filled with dried corn).

Will was really loving his cousin Scott today. When we left, the whole way home (which was really only 5 minutes but whatever) he kept saying, "Bye Scott!" Isn't this picture just precious?

Then we got on the hayride to head up to the pumpkin patch. I was really hoping to get some good pictures of the kids on the hayride but there were just too many people crammed on that thing for me to get a good angle at all. I didn't even bother to try.

We did a little exploring in the hay maze.

Then we headed over to the corn maze. The corn maze is over 5 acres but we only went a few feet into the corn. Marcus found his own ear of corn (and tried to eat it) and was very proud of it. He kept carrying it around and showing it off.

(Me and my boys)

Last year I didn't bother with pumpkins. I am not a fan of carving them. Marcus wasn't going to be carving one. Plus, I knew he could care less at the time about having one. This year both kids picked a pumpkin out of the pumpkin patch. I decided last minute to ditch my bag I usually carry and take a backpack with me instead. I figured with two kids, two pumpkins, and only two hands, it was the way to go. I still had to use my hands with the two kids and one pumpkin, but was able to stash the other pumpkin, some gourds, and several ears of corn in my bag. And some water too. It was hot today! Last time I checked it was nearly mid-October. It should not have been 80 degrees out at the pumpkin patch today!

Then it was back on the hayride and back to the bottom of the hill. They had a potato sack slide set up this year. Will said he didn't want to slide but my niece, nephew, and Marcus were all up for it. Marcus went down the first time all by himself. Then he saw his cousins going down backwards and said, "Marcus backwards too!" So he went down again backwards. Then he said, "Mommy slide." This is the result of that comment:

Then we headed inside the store for some ice cream and chocolate milk. They have the best chocolate milk ever. Will is still not fond of ice cream - a bit too cold for him - but he was loving up that chocolate milk. Marcus ate his ice cream and asked for more. I told him that was all he got. He thought for a minute and asked, "Cake?" Nope, no cake either.

It was well past nap time for my two tired kids but we wanted to try to get one last picture of all the kids together. It wasn't working out real well. My kids were way more interested in things other than the cameras pointed at them. Then I yelled at Marcus to look at me. This upset him greatly and I snapped one of my all time favorite pictures ever. Just looking at the drama in this shot cracks me up.

It is seriously impressive how far that kid can get his lower lip to stick out.

The kids were very tired by the time we got home. I didn't want them to nap too long because I knew I would never get them to bed tonight. I couldn't get Marcus up so I went to get Will. I rocked him for a bit so he could wake up a little. Then I got his help to get Marcus up. Still wasn't working so well.

Apparently Will wasn't really awake either. He sat down for snack and assumed this position for the duration:

To see some pictures from last year's trip to the pumpkin patch, and to see for yourself just how little Marcus was, click here.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Introducing Marcus Enrique and William Alejandro!

At last, my kids can be known to the rest of the world by the names we have been calling them. Up until today, Marcus and Will weren't actually Marcus and Will. They were still Enrique and Alejandro. What a totally ridiculous process changing a kids' name is.

We contacted an attorney because we were told that an attorney could help us get our kids' names changed and go through the process to get them US birth certificates. The attorney sent us a bunch of paperwork and before we ever got around to doing anything with it, the attorney sent us a letter saying that the process could now be done in Allegheny County without an attorney and that the readoption (to get the birth certificate) and the name change could be done at the same time.

Next step was for us to contact some department to get the paperwork for the readoption. That was mailed to me and I looked at it and set it in a nice little pile in a safe place for a couple of months. Then I finally decided to do something with it. I got through most of the steps but was stuck on one about including name change paperwork. I set it back in the pile for another few months. Finally I decided I better figure it out because we were planning on moving out of Allegheny County and I wanted to get it done before that happened.

I called someone else who told me what I needed to do was have the kids' name changed and then use the paperwork from that to do the readoption stuff. Then I got connected to the department to do the name change. They told me that they don't mail forms out so someone would have to come get them. Greg was assigned that duty.

After getting all those forms I had no clue how to fill them out. I called and someone told me what to do. Greg took the completed forms in to file them. The lady there told him that he didn't do it right and if he did it a different way it would cost less. So he got new forms, filled those out and took them back. A different lady said that he didn't do it right again but he was able to fix the forms there. After wandering around the building for awhile, paying for things, and talking to a judge, we finally got a court appointment. In order to do the name change, we also had to advertise the name changes in two publications. The cost to advertise the names was about double the cost for the actual name change.

While we were waiting for our court date, we moved out of Allegheny County. Thankfully no one asked if we currently lived in the county or not so this wasn't an issue.

Today was the court date. The judge said that Greg, the two kids, and me all had to be there. Since we had to head into town during rush hour, we decided to take the T - the light rail system. The kids were all excited because we told them we were riding a choo choo today. We got up early, drove to the T station, and headed into town. With kids in umbrella strollers and us loaded down with all our adoption paperwork (the judge said we needed this), snacks, and toys to keep the kids occupied, we headed over to the building. We went to the floor we were supposed to go to and had no clue what to do from that point on. Greg walked around trying to figure something out while I sat with the kids and fed them snacks. Finally we ended up in a court room. Greg took all our paperwork to the guy at the front and I continued to stuff the kids' faces with crackers. Then we sat and waited. We waited for close to an hour and a half. I wasn't happy about it. The kids weren't happy about it. I was having flashbacks of sitting in the US Embassy in Guatemala trying to keep a kid happy while being simultaneously bored to death and stressed out. There were a lot of people there waiting to get stuff taken care of and it seemed like nothing was happening. The guy Greg gave the paperwork to disappeared, and then returned. Then he started passing all the paperwork out. He just handed it to people and said, "Here you go," or "You need to go downstairs and get a certified copy." Never saw the judge. No one asked to see me or the kids or even all the adoption paperwork that we spent last night rounding up because we were told we needed it. We just got some papers with the judge's signature on it and had to go get some certified copies. Really, what was the point of us all going?? Maybe it had to do with the fact that there are very few steps in adoption that aren't long, drawn out, and on the verge of completely idiotic.

The trip was almost over. We went to get our certified copies only to discover that the only form of payment they took was cash. We didn't have cash on us. Greg ran across the street to the ATM while I hung out in the lobby with two tired and bored kids. Finally it was back to the choo choo, err... T. Had to wait a little while there with some grumpy kids. Back on the T where the kids took turns being cranky and disturbing other passengers with their whines. I thought about whining too but decided to act like an adult and wait to whine on my blog instead.

Still we are not done with this whole process. We still need to get the new birth certificates and now I have to figure out how to do that in this county. Not looking forward to that because I have a feeling that people in this county aren't going to be as well versed in the procedure. The good news is that we can inform our health care provider of the change so when I go to the doctor office or to pick up prescriptions and people ask me for my kids' names, I will actually be able to tell them without stumbling and thinking for a really long time.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Two More Things

Of course right after I just posted, I thought of two more things I wanted to say about my boys.

Marcus is pretending. He has been doing it for awhile but it is getting to be a much more frequent thing. Mostly he likes to make pretend snacks for me, particularly coffee, hot tea, crackers, and cookies. When he has pretend snacks in his hands, he can't use his hands for anything else, which caused him to get stuck in his playhouse a few weeks ago. I had no idea why he wouldn't just push the door open with his hands until he showed me that they were full of pretend cookies. He has also been known to carry around invisible cars and trains.

Will started sitting on the potty regularly. So far all he is accomplished on there is sitting but it is a good start. Today he even asked twice to sit on the potty while we were hanging out. I'm in no hurry to get him potty trained. Having one potty trained kid who knows how to get attention and disrupt and delay any sort of outing is plenty for right now.


The Kids and Good People

The kids are good.

I am not really sure I mentioned them much recently so I thought I would throw that in. I talked about how we were going to go to a new house a lot before the move. They walked through the front door and instantly adjusted. I expected at least some protest those first few naps and night times but nothing. They were in their own beds, surrounded by all their own stuff, and felt perfectly secure with it.

Apparently the town was awaiting our arrival. I spotted this sign about a mile from our house and made Greg turn around so I could get a picture of it. (Proof that I'm a blogging dork.) I am still trying to find the sign dedicated to Will.

Marcus's newest accomplishments include putting on his own slippers and making deeper observations of the world. He now tells me when the room or the outside is light and dark. He is also getting a hang of some of his colors. Marcus is generally kind. When Will is crying, he gently pats him and says, "Okay Will." He even gives Will toys to cheer him up and generally hands over his toys to Will for a turn when he is done. Marcus can count to two - okay not all that impressive but it is the first time he has shown any interest in numbers at all. A couple days ago he was counting rotten apples in our yard and counted, "One! Two! ...more two!" Apparently "more two" is what the common folk call three. His new favorite pronunciation is for hula hoop. He says "ula poop".

Will is mastering his ability to imitate everything the people around him do. This includes patting Marcus and telling him, "Okay," when Marcus is upset. He is a master of the two word sentence. His favorite inquiry is asking where things are. He will ask, "Daddy go?" or "Vaccuum go?" or "Shoe go?" The best is when he wants to know where our car went because both the kids call a car a "go go". So he asks, "Go go go?" He apparently calls Marcus by name. We have no idea how long he has been doing this because Marcus and Mommy sound pretty much the same. He has really been perfecting his dance moves although we fear that he is going to grow up to be "that guy," you know the one that has absolutely no shame about dancing but really should. (Think Elaine in the "Little Kicks" episode of Seinfeld)

We are slowly getting into having a real life in this house instead of having a life that consists only of unpacking or looking for things that we need. We even found some time to take one of those obligatory "kid wearing his parents' shoes" pictures.

Will squeezed in a little time to send some text messages to his closest peeps too.

This week I have been reminded of the goodness of people. One of my new neighbors stopped over to bring us some flowers as a little house warming gift. Then I heard from Jennifer and Jason, friends that have been trying for almost two years now to bring their daughter home from Guatemala. Their church family has decided to cover their expenses so Jennifer can go to Guatemala and spend the rest of the process with Karla as they wait to bring her home! Every time I think of this wonderful opportunity that their family has been given, my eyes just fill up with tears of joy!


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Small City vs. Big Town

I've living here in Big Town now for over a week. I am sure I will have a lot more to say about this place once I get settled into a groove here. This place has changed so much over the last decade while I was off exploring the world - or at least the world within 50 miles of here - that it is almost as if I am living in a place I have never lived before.

Alas, it is time for a game. The idea of the game is a pick a category and decide which place, the previously inhabited Small City or the Big Town, wins that category. You can play along at home by suggesting more categories.

Point Goes to: Big Town
The hardest part about moving to Small City was realizing that I had to plan my trips to anywhere around rush hour. The only traffic issue here occurs when school is letting out and you might get stuck behind a school bus for 2 miles.

Point Goes to: Small City
This one was quite a surprise to me. I HATE grocery shopping. I went to four different grocery stores in Small City until I found one that I could even tolerate. It wasn't a huge store or very new. The staff (for the most part) was really nice though and I even got to be rather friendly with several of the checkout people. I'm still exploring my grocery shopping options in Big Town but so far I am 0 for 2. We are talking massive amounts of people in every aisle. I don't do massive amounts of people while I am trying to decide what brand of yogurt to get this week for the best deal.

General Shopping
Point Goes to:
Small City
A lot of the same reasons as the grocery store section above. I guess it all comes down to the fact that there were a lot more shopping options in Small City. People can kind of spread out. Here in Big Town, there is just one Wal-Mart, one Target, one main grocery store, and one mall. Therefore, everyone is there.

Anti-Pop In Protection
Point Goes to:
Small City
I am not totally against the Pop In. I like company. I like surprises. And as long as the Pop In-ees don't expect me to be looking my finest or have done dishes at some point in the past week, it usually isn't an issue. In Small City we had the protection of the rivers (people don't cross rivers in Small City) and distance from basically everyone we knew. So far we have only had one official Pop In (and it was an actual POP in since it my pop who did it, the least likely to ever perform a Pop In) and everyone else has at least called a few minutes before they have arrived.

Coolness of Inlaw Visits
Point Goes to:
Big Town
Got a phone call from the inlaws yesterday. They were in Butler. Would we mine if they flew in for a few hours? How cool is that! My inlaws have a plane and unlike Small City, there is an airport just across town that they can fly into. Even though we now live further from them, their ease of visiting us may have slightly increased. Even if it isn't easier, it is way cooler than coming by car!

Friendliness of Citizens
Point Goes to:
Big Town
Not to say that people in Small City were rude (okay, some of them really were) but people in Big Town smile a lot, make conversation with strangers, and are just generally polite. I am probably going to bite my tongue here soon when I go out for something and encounter some rude dude, but for now, all people I have come across in public have been quite friendly to me and my kids.

Running into Someone I Know and Never Liked
Point Goes to:
Big Town
Might be a Big Town, but I grew up here and know a lot of people here. That of course increases my odds of knowing people that I just don't enjoy. So far so good. Haven't seen anyone out and about that has caused me to quickly duck behind a display of produce to avoid, but that fear is always there.

As of now it is looking like Big Town is winning by a small margin, that is if having a point for running into someone I don't like is a good thing.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Stupid Internet

Still not totally up and running over in this corner of cyberspace. The router that the internet people gave us didn't work so they had to come back out and get us a new router. Finally got that on Tuesday. Now our wireless internet won't work. This means the only place I can access the internet is in the corner of my basement. It isn't exactly kid friendly down here at the moment so it isn't like I can just pop on for a second like I am used to doing. Paying bills, reading blogs, emailing people is now all restricted to the hours when the kiddos are sleeping until this gets straightened out.

So yeah, we moved. First off, thank you thank you thank you to every last one of you who helped out in any way with our relocation. I do plan to send out a little more personal thank you that just posting on my blog about it but first I have to figure out where we packed our thank you notes and stamps. Last Wednesday Greg's dad came down to help load boxes onto the UHaul. We weren't going to get the truck until Thursday but decided we would get it a day early to help relieve stress and have the peace of mind that it would all get done. Then Thursday the movers showed up an hour early. They were quick and will definitely get two thumbs up from me on their quality of service. When they showed up, I grabbed the kids and made a run for the backyard. Several people showed up to help out but at that point, our best bet was just to stay out of the way. I had been all stressed out thinking we wouldn't have anyone to help on Thursday to get the place packed up and then we ended up all just sitting around bored. After the movers left, we still had a few more things to pack up and some cleaning to do so we got to work on that. The kids had a good time riding their little riding toys around the empty house and we even were able to get them to take a nap (Marcus in his inflatable bed and Will in the pack 'n play). All our friends and family left around 3:00 and Greg, Marcus, Will, the pooch, and I walked around the house and said goodbye to all the empty rooms.
(Will saying bye-bye.)

I almost got teary eyed but it quickly passed. I guess I just always knew that that wouldn't be our forever house and I was really ready (and excited!) about what lay ahead.

I took some before and after shots of the house as we moved out. The before shots are from Wednesday morning. The after shots were from Thursday afternoon. Yep, we were busy.

Living Room

More Living Room

Game Room

More Game Room

Storage Room

We left Greg's car at the house. I drove the kids and the dog down to my parents' in the Jeep and Greg was driving the UHaul. He had to stop to get gas and was kinda stuck in the lot of the gas station, trying to figure out how to maneuver the big truck. Some older guy was watching him and Greg made some kind of "I don't know what to do" gesture towards the man. Then he realized the man was Mike Lang, the Pittsburgh Penguins announcer.

After we all arrived at my parents', we all went out to meet up with my friends Abbie and Jason who had helped us move (and sat around in the backyard with us all morning waiting for the movers to leave). Then it was back to my parents' for a shower and to go to bed. It was a little odd sleeping in my childhood bedroom with Greg, my two kids, and the pooch all crammed in there too.

Up early and back to Pittsburgh on Thursday. The kids were staying with my parents while Greg and I did the house selling/buying thing. First we closed on our old house. Everything went smooth on our side but the buyer was given some misinformation. Apparently everything was straightened out but we left when our stuff was done. We had to pick up Greg's car at the house formerly owned by us and then drive down to the house soon to be owned by us. Greg and I needed to do our final walk through of the house prior to the closing. We arrived at the new house before anyone else and wondered around the yard. Here is our first picture together at our new house.

Don't I just look so darling under our willow tree?

After walking around the lot for a few minutes, Greg and I settled onto the steps of our porch to wait for our agent, the selling agent, and the previous owner of the house to arrive. We saw a car pull down the street/driveway and were trying to figure out who it was. Four people got out. Two went to the other house on our street and two headed towards us. I almost got a case of the giggles when I realized it was two Jehovah's Witnesses. We didn't even own the house yet and they already found us! Shortly after they left, everyone we were expecting showed up. We did a quick walk through of the house. Our agent brought lunch for everyone so we stood around the kitchen island and ate. It was really strange. I was thinking how I was eating in my new house, but it wasn't my house, it was the woman who was standing over there's house, but not...

Off to the second closing where Greg and I signed our lives away so we could live here. Then back to my parents' to pick up the UHaul and then back to the house to start unloading. Everyone arrived at once - friends, relatives, the movers. I was feeling like I wasn't doing much of anything. Abbie and I hung out in the kitchen and unpacked while everyone else (relatives, friends, movers) huffed and puffed by us carrying heavy things. There wasn't much else I could do though. Everyone who walked into the house asked me where to put stuff so I had to be available, yet out of the way. I was feeling a little overwhelmed because I didn't have a clue where to put have the stuff. The movers would be standing there holding a giant couch and I was thinking, "I don't KNOW where to put it!! I don't KNOW where it will fit!!" Somehow we did get everything to fit, nothing substantial put away, and I ran off to my parents' to fetch my kids.

I had been talking about the new house for quite some time, trying to get them ready for it. We pulled up and Marcus started yelling, "NEW HOUSE!!" Out of the car they went and into the new house they climbed.

Everything was new and fun for the first two days. That made getting a little bit unpacked pretty easy. The kids just ran around and wore themselves out. The weather was nice enough that we just left the door to the deck open and they were in and out.

Saturday we went to Lola's birthday party. I was planning on moving my car around to the back of the house earlier in the day but when I tried to start it, nothing. I didn't have a clue who to call and didn't even have a phone book to try to figure it out. Couldn't get my car fixed until Monday anyway so that was a huge inconvenience. It was just the starter, still under warranty, and in and out once I got it there. I am just thankful that the started waited to go until after all our running around was pretty much over. Lola's party was fun. We didn't get to stay long though. Great food and the kids even got to pet some animals like a rabbit and a snake.

I guess that is about it. Just still trying to settle in. I keep forgetting when I leave my little world here at our new house, that I am back in my hometown. I haven't really lived here for 11 years and the town has changed a lot. I don't know where anything is. Here are a couple shots of the new house but I am trying to hold off until the place resembles something other than a box storage facility.

Great Room (Family/Dining/Kitchen)

Kids' Room (the only room that looks half decent at this point). We are planning on redecorating at some point but for now the original paint theme goes well. There is a built in bunk in the room that we left in but are currently not using.

Awesome attic, it runs the whole length of the house, has stairs to walk up to, and I can stand up in the middle. (Greg is too tall to stand upright there.)

View of the house from our front hillside