the homepage of gregory and ann kline

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Parties and Pumpkins

If I weren't so far behind with blogging, I am sure this would have been a couple separate post with lots more words to go along with the pictures. But at last, you get to see our little family life and don't have to listen to my ramblings so much. Enjoy and Happy Halloween!

We had our annual Halloween Party last week. Sorry I didn't plan ahead better and just sent out invites a little more than a week ahead of time. It was a great time. Thanks everyone who came and sorry I missed all of those that couldn't make it. It was amazing to me to see the diversity of my friends. Up until my boys came along, I had only ever had white friends with one African American friend mixed in there. It was nothing I ever did intentionally, it was just that my community wasn't that diverse. During our party, the white kids were just about outnumbered. I love how my life has evolved. Both my boys are just loving the idea of Halloween this year. Especially Marcus, who wants to wear his costume all the time and has been telling me all about the ghosts that he sees. Maybe he just has a strong sixth sense. (If I post a picture of you or your kid and you want me to remove it, just let me know. I can't keep track of who I got okays from and who I forgot to ask.)

That looks like an odd beverage of choice for a ladybug

It had gotten cold so we came in the garage and closed the door. The kids decided to run in circles around the garage with every push and riding toy we own. It was LOUD. Then there was Will, my little guy who always insists on going against the grain. He just hung out in the middle watching all the other kids while he ate some mac 'n cheese.

The next day we were off to the local pumpkin patch. This was Will's second trip and Marcus's third. We got to enjoy a few activities and animals before catching the hay ride. There were some baby cows there. Will liked them and kept saying, "Hi, Moo."

This pumpkin was record size, although I don't know if it was the biggest ever in state or just the county. It weighed 1444.5 lbs.

A polka dotted sheep. Is this normal?

I took this picture last year.

I still couldn't get them to look at the camera, but at least Will wasn't crying this year!

Will picking his pumpkin.

Marcus's first pumpkin pick, although I coerced him into getting a bigger one since the pumpkin patch is so darn expensive and I wanted us to get our money's worth.

Lost in the maize maze.

Hay Maze

They cheated before and they are still cheating in the hay maze this year.

This is a picture I took of Marcus in 2007 on his first trip to the pumpkin patch. He had just learned to walk and was loving all his new found movement. I've always liked this picture so I tried to recreate it this year.

The final pumpkin selection.

Next up was our playgroup Halloween Party. There was food and crafts and lots of kids in costumes. I don't know a lot of the moms so I didn't post too many pictures from this event. We ended up having to leave early so we could get to story time at the library since we had yet another Halloween Party to go to there.

Mmm... snacks.

Will, Marcus, and Avery. Go WVU!!!

A great shot of my great pumpkin, borrowed from a friend of mine, Avery's mommy.

Another borrowed picture from Avery's mom that I just love.

I've never been a fan of carving pumpkins. Greg apparently isn't either. I suppose we will someday give our children the experience of pumpkin carving, but that day will come when they will be able to do more of the carving (and guck removal and cleanup) themselves. For now, we paint.

Trick-or-Treat is tonight. I'm not expecting anything extraordinary to happen. I am expecting on getting to my kids' candy before they do. Have a great Halloween!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Three Years

Three years ago today I stood in front of a stranger behind a counter at the US Embassy in Guatemala City and promised that Greg and I would parent Marcus forever. It had been such a long and bumpy road leading up to that point that we expected fireworks or trumpets sounding. Instead we got pushed back into a crowded room and wondered what were we supposed to do next. Were we just supposed to leave? Where was the woman that had driven us there? And of course there were the deeper questions. Two minutes ago we were holding a baby. Suddenly we were holding our son. Someone really needed to tell us what to do next.

We got in a car and went back to the hotel and all just stared at each other. We couldn't believe it was over. We couldn't believe it was all just starting. We made it through the day and then another one. We survived traveling home on the airplane and introducing Marcus to our family. Months worth of sleepless nights went by. At times, the clock stood still as I screamed in frustration wondering how someone so small could make me so angry. I woke up this morning and somehow realized that three years had gone by. During that time I figured out exactly what I was supposed to do next - really love my son.

I have loved Marcus since before he was born. I dreamed about him around the time that he was conceived and had no idea at that time why I was dreaming about an itty bitty baby with a head full of black hair. Even in that dream I loved him. Through all the paperwork I knew that my son was out there. The referral came and at last there was the photo of that boy I loved. I kept loving him and longing for him for 7 months until that stranger at the embassy said that we were a family at last.

Three years later, I love Marcus still, but not at all like I loved him then. I didn't know it at the time, but even though I said I loved him, what I really loved was the idea of him. I loved him as a child of the world, as a boy I knew would profoundly impact my life, as the person I would call my son. I couldn't love him as I love him now because that day at the embassy, he was almost as much of a stranger to me as the woman behind the counter was.

Three years later and I didn't know I could love someone so much. If only he weren't a three year old gaining his independence, I could hug and cuddle him all day long. He is hilarious and makes me belly laugh at least once a day. He asks me all the time if I am happy or sad or tired. He offers to help everyone around him. He is a good listener and incredible at following directions. He has a drive for success that I want to learn from. For better or worse, I see myself in him every day - his competitiveness, his shyness, his orderliness, his desire to solve problems and figure out the puzzles of life, and his passion. Whether it is a good thing or not, Marcus is one of my best friends. Three years ago he was just coming into my life and I loved him for that. I get my fanfare of fireworks and trumpets each day that God has given me a chance to get to know and let my love grow for Marcus.

Three Years Ago

Me and Marcus 2 Weeks Ago


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happiness Is

I am really far behind on blogging for one reason. I have been doing what makes me happy. What would that be? Traveling? Manicures? Relaxing on the couch? Although those things do make me somewhat happy (not so much the manicures really, only ever had one in my life), the thing that makes me happiest is being busy. I've been finding cool activities for the kids to do, participating in Halloween festivities, and hanging out with friends. Pretty much all of it has been blog-worthy and will show up in posts eventually, but right now is the time to focus on this happiness that I have been feeling.

It all comes down to physics really. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion and objects at rest tend to stay at rest. I like to rest. I love reading or grabbing the remote and settling in with plans for my body to do nothing and my mind to do little. The longer I sit, the longer I want to sit. I pull out my to do list and I think, "I'll put that one off until later since right now I am sitting and I would have to get up to accomplish that. It can wait." I get tired. And not the tired you get from being physically exhausted or missing out on sleep because you were off doing fun things, the tired you get from being lazy.

Lately it has been all about the motion. I get up and get moving and then I just don't want to stop. Things get crossed off my to do list with lightening speed because I just don't have the time to sit and ponder whether or not I really feel like doing them or not. I don't have time, so I just do them to get on to the next thing that needs to be done. When time slows down long enough to have some free time with my kids, I eat it up and cherish it and really live it.

It all comes down to being in the moment.

When I am busy and life around me is moving at 100 mph, I don't have the ability to let my mind wonder off into the future or ponder the past. I just live. I focus on what is happening right then. I just do. I play with my kids and I am really there. I have spent so much time being with my kids and not really being there at all. Lately, I have really been there - listening, playing, creating, and loving - instead of off in my mind wondering what we are going to have for dinner or who I need to email or what time I should put the next load of laundry in. I feel better physically when I am in motion. I love what my body can do. I don't eat out of boredom because there is no boredom and I feel healthy.

Happiness leads to more happiness. My kids see me happy and they are happy too. I laugh and run and play with them and suddenly, the temper tantrums and picking on each other and random acts of bizarre mood swings melt away. We laugh together. We play together. We smile and hug a lot more. At the end of the day I see the laundry building up and the dishes in the sink and two little boys giggling as I tuck them into bed, and I feel that on this day I have really accomplished something.

This week I am happy. I am inspired. I am busy. I am social. I am physically exhausted. I have no plans on stopping because it all makes me happy.

And I have a lot of laundry to do.


Friday, October 23, 2009


Marcus started his first day of soccer today. It was something I really wanted to get him involved with if, for no other reason, it is what just about every Guatemalan boy in Guatemala does from a very young age. Through another mom friend, I found out about this soccer program for 3-4 year olds that teaches them basic skills of the game. We figured we would give it a try. I thought about taking my camera and then forgot it. Hopefully next week I will remember and have some better quality pictures than I was able to get from my phone.

Marcus has been wearing his shin guards pretty much nonstop since Tuesday evening in preparation. He even wore them to playgroup and story time at the library, because you just never know when an impromptu game of soccer might break out. There are about 8 kids in his class, a coach, and an assistant coach. Both of the men who coach are excellent with the kids. For an hour they had them dribbling the ball, learning to dribble and then stop the ball, and kick the ball off of the wall. They played a couple of relay and running games with them as well. The coaches were really great at encouraging the kids and giving lots of high fives. Marcus is pretty slow to warm up to new things so he did a lot more shuffling around than he did running. I so proud of him for getting out there and being so brave to give it a try.

(Marcus is in the orange shirt.)

During their first water break, Marcus came over for some hugs. He got tears in his eyes and said he didn't want to play soccer anymore. During the second water break, he just kept practicing his moves and didn't bother to stop for water. By the end, he was all smiles and telling me he wanted to play more soccer.

I wasn't sure how Will would be during the class. Will still has 2 more months to go before he will be old enough to try it out. In the end, Will showed absolutely no interest in playing soccer with the other kids and was quite content hanging out with me and playing with his cars.

For the last few minutes of their time, the kids played a little four on four scrimmage. Marcus just kind of shuffled along in the general direction of the ball. It was easy to tell the 3 year olds from the 4 year olds, since the 4 year olds were much more into it. By that time most of the 3 year olds weren't paying any attention to the soccer ball at all. I wasn't really paying attention either, just talking to some other moms. Then one of the other moms said, "Marcus just scored a goal!!" There was much cheering and rejoicing and yelling from me, mostly to encourage Marcus but partially to cover up for the fact that I missed seeing it. Oops. Bad mom. At the end of practice, Marcus was so proud of himself for scoring a goal and got lots of hugs from both me and Will. Go Marcus!!

I talked for a little bit with the main coach for his team after practice. As if his dark hair, dark skin, and accent weren't enough to convince me that he was of some sort of Spanish decent, he pronounced Marcus's name as if it were spelled Marcos. Every Hispanic person we have run into calls Marcus Marcos. I usually wouldn't do such a thing, but I asked the coach where he was from. He is from Argentina. Marcus hasn't reached the stage of noticing differences in race, but I'm really excited that there is potential for us to have found a positive Hispanic role model for our kids.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Do It

We have decided that we need a little shift in how things are done around here. We have fallen into a slump where even though I know the right way to do things, we have chosen to do the easy thing. Since he had a voice, Marcus has always been the kid announcing, "I do it!" He is always eager to learn a new skill and show off his independence in the form of doing things for himself or for other people. When it comes to Will, I do it. Or Greg does it. Or even Marcus does it. We let Will slide because it is the easy thing to do. He plays the part of the baby of the family well, desiring that everyone take care of him. While Marcus is off doing things for himself and mastering his skills, Greg and I are left with the free time to just go ahead and do it for Will. In the short term, this works out well. It is faster. Will is happy to bypass the frustration of trying something new. We all skip out on the temper tantrum that is sure to come about 2 seconds after Will becomes frustrated. Stuff gets done in a timely manner.

And we just let it all happen. Despite the fact that we all know in the long run, everyone is going to benefit more by Will learning some skills for himself.

I'm not talking about anything super complicated. (Hey, Will, is my checkbook balanced yet??) We are focusing having him follow more directions and quizzing him on routines in our household. (It is time for dinner. What do we have to do before we eat? Right, wash our hands.) Mostly though, we aren't letting him slide as much and teaching him skills to last a lifetime.

For example, before we head out anywhere the kids have to use the potty. Marcus runs in there, does his business, does a decent job of washing and drying his hands, and then he is off getting his shoes. Normally that would be followed by Will standing by the potty, me (or Greg) pulling down his pants for him, putting the potty seat on the potty for him, setting him on the potty, getting him off the potty, pulling up his underwear, pulling up his pants, flushing, placing him on the step stool, and pretty much washing and drying his hands for him. It is just faster that way. That is no more. He still needs help getting on and off the potty and some assistance with the hand washing, but other than that, he just needs some verbal reminders on what to do next.

It's all going pretty well and it makes me feel good that by the time he is 18, I won't have to dress him anymore. There have definitely been some temper tantrums when he has discovered that everyone around here isn't going to do everything for him anymore. There have been lots of times when we have to assure him that he can do it, that he just needs to take a deep breath and think. He is so excited when he is able to do something on his own and I am so excited that I am teaching him the skills. Then there was that little hang up the yesterday when I asked Will what we should put on first. Marcus said in a singsong voice, "I don't think that's right." Will was happy with his decision though.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Love is in the Air

I've been a bit under the weather but on the mend. Marcus stepped up to the plate and would appear out of nowhere quite often asking if he could help. It was super sweet but not all that uncommon of a thing for Marcus to want to help me. It is what Will started doing that has melted my heart. Will started coming to my side and giving me a little hug or just running up to me and looking me in the eye while he said, "I love you!" Despite his great verbal skills, until these recent weeks these three words had only been muttered by him a handful of times. Now he tells me at least 10 times a day. I smile each time Marcus says it and now I find myself smiling twice as much because I have the two most amazing boys that not only show me, but tell me every day that they love me. Despite the fact that this cold, rainy weather has kept us all inside and at each other's throats, tonight at bedtime Will hugged Marcus and said, "I love you, Marcus." And right on cue Marcus responded, "I love you, too."


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How to Tire Out a Kid

(Sorry about the quality of the photos. I took them with my phone at dusk so hopefully they can add something to this post.)

Find a steep hill. The longer the better. We used our mega terrifying to the kids sled riding hill.

Have your kids push the biggest, heaviest dump trucks up to the top of the hill.

Push the dump trucks down the hill, encouraging and cheering on collisions and crashes, as well as flawless runs that result in much distance.

Send the kids down the hill after their trucks.

Have your kids push their big, heavy trucks back up to the top of the hill and repeat the process as many times as necessary.

You have succeeded once your kids are so tired from running up and down the hill that they start asking if it is time for bed yet.