the homepage of gregory and ann kline

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Merry Christmas/Happy New Year/Things to Come

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from The Klines!

I am way behind on blogging. Whether you care or not, I want to get caught up. I always have this great plan that I will go through my photos and get them labeled, organized, and uploaded, and once that happens I will blog about what is going on in the photos. Then I end up just taking more photos and not getting around to organizing the old photos.

Then Christmas happened which means more photos and less time to do anything about them. Then this Monday I went to the doctor to see about having a surgery at some point to remove some troublesome tissue in my abdomen. My doctor said, "How about surgery tomorrow!" I said, "Okay!" Surgery went fine. Now I'm recovering and stuck in bed or in a chair for the next several days. What better thing to do than to tackle all those photos and get to blogging? So check back often. Lots of blog entries coming up. Not sure if any of them will make any sense though since I am on a bunch of pain killers and the world is feeling pretty warm and fuzzy right now.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!


Monday, December 21, 2009


Been busy. Here's what we have been up to:

- Marcus is done with soccer for a few weeks. I signed him up for the next session which doesn't start until the end of January. Since the last session on Friday he keeps asking me if it is a soccer day again. I told a few of the preschool moms about the program and now several of his classmates are signing up too. Even though Will is old enough now to play, I opted to wait a little longer. My friend's son who Will plays with while Marcus plays soccer also will not be playing. Will gets so excited to play with his friend that he loves going to soccer just for that, so for now, that is good enough.

- We've been having "movie nights" at our house. I think we started doing it every so often over the summer. We decided that every Friday night from Thanksgiving to Christmas we would have movie night and watch Christmas movies and eat popcorn in our pj's. Maya wasn't really into the movie and was looking to play. Maya now has a new friend in the house that she loves to wrestle with, nip at, and nap with.

- My brother and his girlfriend have been in town. They were kind of sort of staying with us but not really. They did sleep here a few nights but were mostly running around visiting friends and family in the area. They are headed back home early tomorrow morning. Even though the kids have only met their Uncle Willie a few times, they think he is so much fun.

- I spent most of the day on Saturday making tamales (while still in my pjs). Tamales are the traditional Christmas eve meal in Guatemala and for the past two years, we have brought that tradition into our home. We are continuing the tradition this year. I made by biggest batch yet - 91 tamales! The ones that we don't eat Christmas eve - which is most of them - will be frozen and enjoyed over the next couple months.

- Had our first "real" snow that actually amounted to something. The kids were loving it. The pup was loving it. Greg and I were loving it too. Last year the kids were okay with snow but this year they are totally into it. Even my brother Willie and his girlfriend Sindy went out to play in the snow with us. All us big kids did some sled riding while the two little kids watched.

- One of Will's birthday presents was "Diego Dinosaur Rescue" for Wii. The kids played it the other night and it was a big hit. They loved being inside Diego's world and getting to control what was going on on the TV. It was so easy for them to understand and a lot of fun. I highly recommend it!

- Since my parents, siblings, and I won't be together on Christmas day, we went out to dinner and had a mini Christmas celebration yesterday. It was great to see everyone in one place. It might not happen again until next year. My sister's family got Marcus and Will a Smart Cycle. They had a really great time playing with that tonight. Will is still learning to pedal so he wasn't quite as into it as Marcus was.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy 3rd Birthday Will!

Happy third birthday my big kid. I really want to write you a letter about how much you have grown and how amazing you are, but everything I think to write just sounds really corny. As usual, when this day comes around I find myself thinking of your birth family. I know in my heart that they are thinking of you on this day too. I know that they would be proud of you. They would smile to see the love that you have for your brother, a boy that you probably never would have met had they not made an adoption plan for you. They would see that the life you have now is merely different - not better or worse - than the life you would have had in Guatemala. Today you chatted all day long in English, a language you may not have learned. You played in the snow with your daddy and brother and dog. You learned how to play a video game. And even though you were thousands of miles away from where you were born, you still smelled the aroma of tamales cooking on the stove.

I am just so proud of you for always being who you are. Even though it frustrates me like crazy sometimes that you just won't go along with the flow, I know your way is the best way. Be yourself. Don't change for anyone, even me. Practice patience and listening every day so you can fill that smart brain of yours with more knowledge. Keep doing what you love - "playing" football, playing pretend, hugging Maya, helping others, making new friends - but remember to try new things too. Keep smiling! As you already know, it will get you out of trouble and welcome more friends into your life. Thank you for always telling me that you love me, blowing me kisses, and always always always being up for a hug any time that I want one. Never ever grow out of loving to give your mommy hugs.

Happy Birthday Will! I love you!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Seeing Santa, Take 2

We headed out this evening to try round two with Santa. This time, we hoped for photos. As soon as we mentioned what we were doing, both kids started whining about how they didn't want to see or talk to Santa and they didn't like him. I pulled up last year's picture of them sitting on Santa's lap looking at least mildly amused and said, "See, you liked Santa last year!" They were much better after that.

No line this time! Will got a little whiny when it was our turn but other than that, the kids did great!!! Yay!! I don't even think they noticed that Santa must have eaten too many cookies and not visited Hermey, the dentist elf. Santa was missing a few of his front teeth.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Happy Third Birthday Party

We had a little family birthday party for Will yesterday. He won't officially be three for a few more days and I am living in sweet denial that my little baby boy is still only two. There was socializing and dinner and all the typical birthday party stuff... like presents!

I wasn't sure how Marcus would do with it not being his special day. I explained to him that Will would be getting presents and Will would surely share his new toys with Marcus. Marcus was a little upset when I told him but come party time, he was awesome. He helped hand Will presents and sat back to let him unwrap. I'm so proud of him!

Opening presents took a really long time. My dad picked up a football tee for Will so there were lots of kicking breaks while opening gifts. Will would open something,

and then he would take a short break to kick the ball.

Even though it took a while to get through the gifts, the family stayed entertained by being attacked with kisses by the pup.

I insisted the Will open his gift from my sister and her family last because I was afraid that he wouldn't want to open anything else. They got him his very own Steelers uniform! He was scared of it at first. He wanted everyone else to wear the helmet.

After he saw that everyone else loved the helmet, he was ready to be a real Steelers player. In fact, he has pretty much worn his helmet all morning long.

Then it was cake time! I was sure that Will would want a football cake. He had other plans.

Will wasn't so sure about blowing out the candles and only gave a halfhearted effort.

Marcus tried to lend some air but that wasn't helping. We called in the cousins to get the job done.

Will picked a blue cupcake from his cake. He used to be scared of ice cream but he ended up eating all his ice cream and only took a bite from his cupcake.

I'm not sure what color icing Marcus picked...

Marcus finished his cupcake and asked if he could eat Will's. It was a birthday party so, sure, why not! "Grandma, are you sure you want me to give you a big kiss goodbye?"

Thanks everyone for coming to the party and thank you for the wonderful gifts! Thank you for sharing your love with my sweet baby boy who can have 100 more birthdays and will still be my baby.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Seeing Santa, Take 1

We headed out to the mall tonight to get a preview of Santa. I am hoping to get the kids picture with Santa but figured we better let them get acquainted with the man first before we attempt that. As usual, Will was a chatterbox the entire car ride. He has always been quite the talker but it has reached a whole new level in the past couple weeks with him telling long stories and me only understanding about half of them. The kids practiced telling Santa what they wanted for Christmas. Marcus said he wanted choo choos and dinosaurs. That was the first I heard he wanted dinosaurs. (He is into the show on PBS Dinosaur Train so I suppose he wants to "play" Dinosaur Train.) Will said he was going to tell Santa that he wanted shirts and shoes. Will is an aspiring metrosexual.

Despite their enthusiasm in the car, as soon as we walked into the mall Will announced, "I going to hide." Santa was taking a hot cocoa break so we went to do some shopping. Then we came back and waited in line for six hours. Okay, maybe only 30 minutes but when you have two young kids, it seems like six hours.

At last, we were next in line. The anxiety hit. Marcus said he didn't want to see Santa. Will was trying to run away. Greg said he would hold our coats and I could handle the kids. Gee, thanks. I kept reassuring the kids that we were all going to hold hands and stay together and I would talk to Santa first. Marcus was almost buying it. Will was freaking out more. It was our turn.

If only we had a video camera.

Marcus looked very worried but walked up anyway, holding my hand. I had to practically drag Will. Marcus turned his back on Santa. I think he was just trying to tell me that he wasn't going to talk to Santa but Santa took it to mean that Marcus wanted picked up. Santa placed Marcus right on his lap and Marcus did really good. Not great, but really good. Santa asked him his name and he told him. Santa asked him what he wanted for Christmas and Marcus said, "Choo choos and dinos." I don't think Marcus ever once looked Santa in the eye but he did really good.

All the while, Will screamed bloody murder. It was pretty much exactly like the first time Will met Santa two years ago. I don't have video of that either but I think this picture pretty much explains it.

He was seriously out of control. I was kneeling down and holding him tight but he was just terrified. Santa asked Marcus what his brother's name was because Will was not about to speak anything beyond shrieks. I turned to Will and said quietly and sternly, "Will, that's enough. We are here to talk to Santa. All done crying."

Will stopped crying INSTANTLY. We also learned this evening that Will is not only a chatterbox normally, but he talks even more when he is nervous. He went from screaming his head off to telling Santa something about the lights in the sky and he had snow on his hat and he wanted a choo choo and there were people over there and he liked candy and something wasn't working very well and he wanted shoes and shirts and a hat and some pants too and it was dark outside and about ten other things that I didn't catch because Will was just talking too fast without a tear in his eye. Santa asked if he could have a hug and Will jumped off my lap and gave Santa the biggest hug ever while grinning ear to ear.

Greg and I were pretty much speechless at the turn of events.

Then Will got back on my lap and started talking some more but Santa cut him off and offered him a candy cane. Both kids gave Santa high fives and we went on our merry way. The whole way home Will couldn't stop talking about how he hugged Santa and gave him five. He said repeatedly, "I like Santa!" Hopefully the next time goes as smoothly!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Remembering The Pooch

A year ago today I held my best friend in my arms while she took her last breath. At first I thought maybe I could hide my tears from my kids. Then I decided that it was okay to let them see me cry, to tell them I was crying because I was sad. I cried all the time. I didn't think I could ever stop. I got through a day. Then a week. Then a month. Last night I read some things that I wrote about my girl this time last year and had a good cry over her too short stay in this world. It was the first time I had cried over her in a long time.

Me and the pooch at my college apartment, February 2000

She is not really gone. She shows up every day in my life. Maya never met her but surely thanks her for teaching this family how important it is to love and spoil their furry friends. One thing I cried over this time last year was that my boys would probably never remember her. The last time they saw her I told them they needed to say goodbye because she had to go to the vet for her boos on the inside. Will kissed her all over her body and said, "Boo boos all gone." They do remember, or at least still know of her. For at least three months after she died, one of my boys would randomly ask where she was and the other would say, "She's at the beach. Riding a choo choo." I told them that she had to go live at the beach now because if heaven truly is paradise, her heaven would be nothing more than a giant beach covered in sticks and tennis balls. They made up the part about the choo choo. Their questions later moved to them coming up to me once or twice a week and just telling me that she was at the beach riding a choo choo. My screen saver on my computer shows a slide show of photos and there are thousands of photos of my pooch on my computer that pop up. The kids watch. When they see her, they call her by name.

The pooch and me in the Outer Banks, NC October 2001

Thank you to each and every one of you that left me a comment on my blog or on my facebook page or both last year at this time. It helped more than you can imagine to know that I wasn't alone in my pain. I think I had more comments when I lost my dog than I did when I brought my boys home! I guess it is just a sad reality that we can all relate to losing someone who is close to us.

Me and the pooch at our old house, Winter 2003

Here is a video that we put together last year. Apparently youtube wasn't happy that we set it to a popular song and took the liberty of removing the audio for us.

And here is the tribute I wrote to my pooch one year ago today.

On a whim I answered an ad in the newspaper. When I arrived you were there, the last of your brothers and sisters, waiting for me to take you home. When I decided I had enough of daily life, you ran away with me for a week in New York and to the beach in New Hampshire. Through a broken heart and through rock bottom, you were there letting me hold on to your body and cry myself to sleep. When the only thing on my mind was homework and finals, you were there to remind me to lighten up and have some fun. When I left behind the life I was living to live the life I was meant to live, I walked away from it all and you came with me. You were there with me when I lived in Morgantown, Washington, Carnegie, Greentree, Avalon, Shaler, and the move into our new house. When some scary and unwelcome visitors showed up at my apartment, you were there to lunge at the door and scare them away. The first time Greg ever came to my place, you were there to greet him at the door with your tail wagging away, while pretending to bark ferociously. When Marcus came home as a baby, you let him learn how you like to be loved with never ending patience. When Will came into our family, you welcomed him into our house and sat through all his hugs. Every ball I have thrown, you were there to retrieve. Every stick (or log or giant tree part) that was the slightest bit accessible, you were there to drag it out, ready to play. Once I came home to find pillow fluff strewn from one end of the room to the other. You were there, right in the middle of the fuzz, looking completely innocent. Through job offers and getting fired, you were there. When I knew my boss wasn’t going to show up for the day, you were at work with me. Each time I sat down to play the piano, you crawled under my feet to share in my music. When the Steelers won the Super Bowl and America elected its next President, you were there with me. I came home from work on September 11, 2001 very shaken up and you were there waiting for me. You somehow managed to lock me out once and you stood in the door waiting for me to climb through the window so I could get back in. Christmas morning, you are the one that helps me open my presents. On every vacation, you have been there. On an unseasonably warm day one January, the giant mud puddle in the parking lot didn’t stand a chance because you were there rolling happily – and filthily – in it. Anytime I felt cold or sick you were there to make me feel a little bit better. Anytime I felt lonely, you were there with me to remind me that I was not alone. At a whopping 80 lbs you were there, sitting in my lap. You were there with me - just the two of us - driving all the way to the beach and back so you could run in the sand, dive through the waves, and chase tennis balls in the swells of the ocean. This summer as I bobbed in the waves at the beach, you were there swimming steadily around me - ears alert, face smiling and bright. Every camping trip I’ve taken in the past ten years, you were there sleeping under the stars with me. I’ve walked to the bottom of The Gorge with you and back again. Every hike through the woods, every walk around the neighborhood, every trip to the mailbox – you went with me. I had always dreamed that some day happiness would be defined by the chance to play in the yard with my dog and my kids. You were there to bring me that simple happiness. As everything in my life has changed over the past ten years, you were there keeping your love the one constant.

I sat on the floor with you today. You felt my sadness and let me wipe my tears on your shoulder. Just like you have done for me so many times, I was doing my best not to let you feel cold or sick. You were not alone. You lifted your head and placed it into my hands. I held your head close to my heart as you took your last breath.

When I got home, I looked for your feet in the space under the door as I walked up the stairs. You weren’t there. I heard you moving around, getting comfortable in your favorite spot behind the chair. You weren’t there. I waited for you to tell me that you were hungry or you wanted to go outside. You weren’t there. Tonight when I crawl into bed I will wait for you to join me for your nightly snuggles and belly rub. You won’t be there either.

For the first time in as long as I can remember my heart is breaking, I am sad, and I am lonely and I don’t have you to bring comfort to it all just by being there.

I whispered in your ear, “Swim. I love you,” and I felt your soul leave your failing body. I know that you are at the great beach in the sky. You are crashing through waves and swimming over the swells. You are kicking up sand, jumping in circles, and going back in for more. And I know my life is better because I rode the waves with you and set you free.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Alphabet Song

When we wash our hands, we sing the Alphabet Song while we rub our hands together so we know we have washed them long enough. At the end we sing, "Now we wash the bubbles off 'cause we sang our ABC's" to indicate that it is time to rinse. Will doesn't know his letters but he has pretty much mastered the Alphabet Song phonetically.


Monday, December 07, 2009

25 Things

And here it is again, the next 25 things we never said until we had kids. To check out the previous lists, follow the links back from here. Greg and I just started a new list of things we never heard someone say until our kids said them. It will probably be a long while before you get to enjoy it, but it is something to look forward to. Until then, enjoy this list of things I never said until I had kids, and I assure you that each and every one of these things made perfect sense when Greg or I said them:

151. You did it! And I didn't even have to turn into a cannibal!
152. You can leave your clothes on when we go outside.
153. It's been a long time since we sniffed butts.
154. Sometimes I wish the Bicycle Chickens would come.
155. Did you know you have glitter on your penis?
156. Your brain looks exactly like a Spider Man chair.
157. That's a crazy way to ride a zebra.
158. If you swing like a monkey, you're going to need to poop like one.
159. This is the most uncomfortable squirrel I've ever ridden.
160. Get your face off the cheese.
161. That's the best head-backing ever.
162. Okay. Let's turn into naked scary monsters.
163. Don't let the dog eat Mrs. Pteranodon.
164. You can't wash your penis with lizards in your hands.
165. Are you pooping and playing drums at the same time?
166. There's no better entrance to a party than being delivered by scavenger birds.
167. Don't drink that! Your butt was in there!
168. You're the saddest boy I've ever seen holding lizards.
169. Do not stick baby Steelers in the faucet.
170. The table or your mouth: those are the only places a banana goes.
171. You got scratched by a waffle?
172. Soccer is not a snack food.
173. I wouldn't have to tickle you if you didn't pee on your butt.
174. That's not a bug; it's a sheep with a bug on its head.
175. Ahhh! You're flooding the bathroom with a hot snake!



Outdoor Games

I found this video that I took on my phone a couple months ago. This is one of my kids' favorite games. I don't understand it so don't ask me to explain.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Impromptu Photo Session

"You guys looks so cute! Go stand by the Christmas tree in your hats!"

"Okay, let's try one with both of your faces showing."

"That wasn't too bad but Marcus, your hat was not sitting right on your head."

"Marcus, let's get your hat all unfolded and Will, what in the world were you looking at? Awww, Maya! That is so nice of you to just sit down in the picture at the exact right place. Hold that pose!"

"Maya! Maya! Look here Maya!"

"Good girl Maya! Marcus, let's not kiss Maya this time, okay? Wait, where did Marcus go?"


Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Big One

On December 5, 2008, a little puppy was born. Just like my other children, I had no idea that it was happening. One year later, I've got a big overgrown puppy who keeps me company, keeps me warm at night, keeps me moving, and keeps my stress level down. When we brought her home, we braced ourselves for a chewed up house but the pup has never been much of one to chew things she shouldn't. She is friendly to a fault, often overwhelming people with her excitement and once nearly making my neighbor pee his pants since my neighbor confused her unbridled enthusiasm for a menacing animal attack. She is so smart and so quick to learn that I got bored teaching her stupid pet tricks in about two weeks since she mastered them all quickly. Teaching her manners has been a bit of a struggle. Once we invested in an electronic collar, she became much more controllable. She stays in the yard unsupervised and greets the neighbors without leaving our porch, until we tell her it is okay to go after them them with kisses. The kids and the pup have a special bond and LOVE to chase each other, play tug, play fetch, and wrestle. And as I sit here and type this, my sweet little birthday girl is being the most fantastic foot warmer, all without even asking.

I picked her up a little birthday present at the store, the Dollar Store since I knew the life of a stuffed toy would be very short. The whole family sang "Happy Birthday" to her (because we are dorks like that) and gave her the present. My cute little fur covered lady turned into a greedy little kid. She ran. She hid. She gave evil stares to anyone that she thought might for a minute take away the most fantastic of gifts ever. I had to army crawl and zoom in just to get a photo of her.

At last she was able to get to the surprise inside. Maya is now the proud owner of Sheepy.

It has been about 8 hours since Maya and Sheepy first became friends. Once she removed all the stuffing (about 15 minutes after she first unwrapped Sheepy), she started considering letting us play with her and Sheepy. At this point in time, not only is Sheepy missing all its guts, it is earless and has only 3 legs. The pup is still carrying her new friend with her everywhere she goes, despite its handicap.

Greg thought we should take a picture of her in our truck to show just how much she has grown in the past 10 months since she has been part of our family. She was pretty mad at us for putting her in there, but you get the point.

And for fun, a few of my favorite baby Maya pictures.

Leaving the breeder's:

The first week or two she would barely leave my lap. Greg was really not the least bit happy that this was how I ate dinner the first night we were home with her:

So sleepy

Sleeping again...

Snow Maya

Party Hard, Sleep Hard