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Saturday, February 27, 2010

What to Eat

I'm rather addicted to Man vs. Wild and have my DVR set up to catch all the episodes. (Man vs. Wild is a reality-type show about surviving in remote places.) I typically don't watch this show when the kids are around. However, I noticed that one of the episodes my DVR picked up took place in Guatemala. I told the kids we were going to watch a guy in Guatemala and flipped on the tele to witness the star of the show climbing through the jungle toward rescue and searching for food. He found a rather large beetle and Marcus, Will, and I all cringed when he ate it whole and wiggling. Suddenly I had visions of my own kids eating bugs (as soon as all this snow melts and the bugs come out of hibernation) because we all know how easily kids are influenced by things they see on TV. I quickly informed them that we don't eat bugs. People only eat bugs when they don't have any other good food to eat, like we have.

I wasn't even sure the kids were paying attention to me. Silly me for forgetting that Marcus never misses a thing. Two days later we were headed into preschool and, as happens every single day, Marcus and Will asked me about the area set up for people to drop off food for the needy. Like I do every single time, I explained that that is a place that we can bring our food to share with people that don't have good food to eat, and how sad it is that some people aren't as fortunate as we are. It took me a minute to figure out where in the world Marcus came up with this, but he shouted out, "Those people have to eat bugs!" So there you have it. We give food to the needy so they don't have to eat bugs.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Marcus is still totally loving soccer. Each week as soon as we get there, he tears off his coat, waves good-bye, and is off running faster and kicking better than the week before. He recently got a pair of indoor soccer shoes and some special soccer socks and the boy looks like a professional. If only he would stop running quite so fast so I could get a picture of him.

All that snow that we had was calling to me. I had to break out the old skis, get back to my younger days, and do some skiing. Who needs a mountain when you have a driveway?

A couple runs down the driveway followed by a hike back up to the top made me realize that I might not need a mountain, but I really would prefer to have a ski lift.

It had been four years since Greg and I have gone skiing and we were due. We called in some child care and headed off to Hidden Valley to enjoy some of the best skiing conditions Western PA has seen in years. I really miss being able to hit the slopes on a weekly basis, but until it becomes a poor man's sport, I think it will remain a luxury we enjoy on those special rare occasions. I am hoping our next ski trip will be a whole family affair.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Three is the New Two

It is definitely true what "they" say. Three is the new two. Three is way worse than two. I learned about the idea on Ask Moxie about children having a balanced period followed by an unbalanced period. (Not sure who's idea this was originally.) The balanced period generally occurs for the first 6 months of an age, followed by 6 months of being unbalanced. (So that from say, age 3-3.5 a child will be going through their balanced period and then be unbalanced from 3.5-4.) Both of my kids seem to go through some major unbalancing a few months before their birthday. Which means, right about now, Marcus is completely out of whack.

I try not to say anything negative about my kids on this here blog. Let's face it though, there is a lot of stuff that goes on in the raising of children that isn't all puppies and rainbows. This phase is hard. This phase sucks. And this phase will be over soon enough. In fact, as bad as the last two weeks have been, I can already see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Not even sure how much of this behavior has been this "unbalanced" phase and how much has just been our current situation. We have snow. A lot of it. (Which is starting to melt at last.) That leads to lots of time inside. No school. Spending 24/7 with each other. Lots of boredom from everyone involved. Lack of patience and energy from pretty much everyone in the house. And a three year old who is driving us all nuts.

Marcus is typically an easy kid. He is always doing his best to make sure everyone is happy and can even be qualified as overly obedient. Not counting these last couple weeks. He has been whining more than I have ever heard a kid whine in my life. There is sass. He could win a gold medal in sibling rivalry. There is defiance. There is pouting and temper tantrums. Making it more frustrating is that I know he has the verbal skills to express his needs/wants but often times just resorts to behavior that I would expect from an 18 month old. He is testing his limits.

Thankfully I recognized all this pretty quick and tightened those limits right up. It has been a bit of a struggle of wills, but slowly we are coming out on the other side of it all. Still having some issues of some serious attitude and downright grumpiness, but things aren't nearly as bad as they have been.

So it sucks sometimes. Sometimes I feel like the good times are so limited and I never know what I might say or do (or not say or not do) that will quickly tip those good times into the bad. Any day that Marcus happens to take a nap now, he wakes up crying that he wants his mommy and all I can do is sit and rock him in my lap until whatever unknown thing that has set him off has passed. And sometimes, sitting there with my great big boy curled up in my lap while I rock him makes all the tough times during this phase not matter one bit.


Sunday, February 14, 2010


I finally got around to getting the kids' pictures with their birthmoms scanned. During the adoption process when our boys were still in Guatemala, a DNA test had to be completed to make sure that the woman that was placing the child for adoption was indeed the child's birthmom. At the time the test is done, the birthmom typically hasn't seen her child for months and likely won't ever see her child again. Talk about an emotional experience! One of the steps of the DNA test is to have a photo taken of the birthmom holding her child. The Polaroid is the only photo we have our children's birthmoms.

Now I have digital copies of the photos as well. I printed off a photo of each of my boys and their birthmoms and put them in frames. I finally got around to getting this completed the other day just before "rest time". Will was in bed already but Marcus spotted the picture frames on the counter and wanted to know what they were. I showed him the picture of him and his birthmom. He instantly recognized "Baby Marcus" and I told him about his birthmom, how he grew in her belly and she wasn't able to take care of any children so Mommy and Daddy adopted him. We bring up adoption frequently but it was the first time he asked questions back. He wanted to know where his birthmom was and if he had a birthdad too. The most exciting part was that the questions he asked were all ones that I could easily answer. I left Marcus in his room with his picture of his birthmom for "rest time".

A bit later I went into his room because Marcus was being a bit loud. He was just sitting on his floor studying the photo. When "rest time" was over I went in to check on him. Marcus had fallen asleep in his bed with his birthmom photo.

When Will got up I gave him his picture of his birthmom and explained who it was. Will found a special spot in his room to keep his picture so he could look at his photo whenever he wanted to.

Greg read the kids an adoption related story before bed. The character in the book said he had a birthmom and a birthdad as well as a forever mommy and a forever daddy. Marcus shouted out, "Like I do!"


Monday, February 08, 2010

Lights, Camera, Action! (a.k.a. The Blizzard of '10)

As I am sure everyone who reads my blog who lives anywhere close to here knows, it snowed. A lot. I thought we were supposed to get about a foot, which around here usually means we end up with 2 inches. Panic set in to most citizens around here and they all ran to the store to get milk and toilet paper. I did not. Let it snow. All I had to do this weekend was catch up on laundry and vacuum. Neither of those activities ever got completed. It is amazing how much your life is affected when you are without power for 53 hours.

It started snowing around noon on Friday. I didn't pay too much attention to it, just casually watched it accumulate out the window. It snowed constantly but never really seemed to be coming down that heavy. I took the pup out for a walk around 8 pm and we had probably 8 inches. At 9:45 the power went out. I am always thoroughly confused when our power goes out during storms here since all the power lines in this neighborhood are underground. Greg called the power company and a recording told him that power for our area should be restored by 11 pm. We made sure the wood burning stove in the basement was full of wood, threw a spare blanket on the kids, and went to bed.

We woke up Saturday morning to find that the weather prediction was a bit off. Instead of 12 inches of snow, we got nearly 2 feet! My inaccurate measurement of the snow clocked in at 22.5 inches. It was one of those "wet" snows that stuck to everything, pulled down trees and power lines. I put all my snow gear on and took the pup out for a walk. My oh so generous neighbor had plowed our driveway the night before so there was only about a foot a snow on the driveway. Maya made a mad dash into the fresh powder and all but disappeared.

Our house is a little ways from the road. The pup usually isn't on a leash in our yard but I can still only trust her to come when I call about 80% of the time. I wanted to check out the road and didn't have a leash for Maya. I figured I would risk it. There was no one at all around. The township hadn't been out to plow our roads yet but someone took it upon themselves to do a little plowing. If I turned left out of my driveway, things were looking pretty nice. Whoever had done the plowing apparently couldn't make it the rest of the way up the hill because right after my driveway, there was a wall of snow where the plow stopped.

And just because we could, the pup and I headed up the street a little bit and played in the snow in the middle of a three way intersection.

Back in our yard, I thought we should stop and have a little swing... but that didn't work out so well.

Please take your time and enjoy the following few pictures because my short legs had to climb through the massive amounts of snow up a hill to get these pictures. It was rather exhausting.

Weeping Willow Tree was weeping despite its lack of leaves

Check out all the snow on the swings.

Despite (my) fears that our back porch roof might collapse since it is almost flat,

the only damage that we noticed was that part of the garden fence fell down. The fence ripped away from the support poles so it is just a matter of attaching it again.

Still without power, we attempted to go on with our day normally. Greg made coffee.

The kids seemed very understanding of the fact that our TV was "broken". We all goofed around together and I found myself savoring life without the distraction of television and checking email and catching up on blog reading/writing and doing that laundry and vacuuming that really needed done. Perhaps that is why I like camping so much. The only things we had to worry about was staying fed, warm, and enjoying the time we have to spend together.

Mid-morning time we headed outdoors. The kids could hardly wait. Marcus went down the first two steps of our front porch and jumped into the snow. He disappeared face first and came up screaming. Being the awesome mother I am, I was laughing hysterically. Maya helped us out by bounding through the snow and packing down a few paths. The kids were content digging and digging some more. They weren't all that happy when we requested they try to walk. I wonder why.

By evening, the temperature on the main floor of the house had become close to unbearable. Our game room was still somewhat toasty. Just to be clear, "game room" is quite an overstatement. This is no nice looking "man cave". It really is just a basement - concrete floors with an area rug on one part, cinder block walls on three sides, some Styrofoam insulation and wood studs on the fourth wall, a ceiling that consists of exposed pipes and duct work. There is one window that lets in a little light, a couple of couches for comfort, and a spare bed. Most importantly, our wood burning stove that became our mode of survival is located down there. We began our decent into the game room.

My parents live a couple miles away and their house still had power so we headed over there for warm showers and a warm meal. After we sucked up their hospitality, we headed back to our house. The main floor of the house was 53 degrees. The game room was cool but definitely tolerable. We decided to "go camping" downstairs. The kids were on air mattresses and Greg and I (and sometimes Maya) were on the spare bed.
(That's Marcus, not the Old Mother Witch book with arms)

Greg, Marcus, and I experienced a lengthy power outage in the summer of 2007 that was the result of some micro bursts (tornado like things) that occurred near our old house. In addition to extensive water damage to our basement, we also lost all our food in our freezer. That wasn't a problem this time around.

I guess that is one advantage to being without power in the middle of near zero temperatures. I told the kids that we were going to put our food outside. Marcus was a bit worried and shouted out, "We can't Mommy! The deer will eat it!" Thankfully there are no flying deer in the area that were able to make it up to our deck.

Sunday we woke up to find we still did not have electricity. We attempted to eat breakfast upstairs with coats on and decided that all meals from that point on would be consumed in the basement.

Marcus and I spent some quality time together washing dishes (in cold water) by hand.

There was more playing in the snow. There was some cuddling time with the pup.

As much as we were enjoying all the quality time we were getting to spend together as a family, it was apparent that we were all done with the cold and dark world that was void of technology. My parents took us in for another evening of dinner and showers and we spent a second evening camping out in our basement.

At 2:45 this morning, I was awaken by something quite mysterious. It was a light not produced by fire or battery power. At last! We endured 53 hours of power outage and came out of it only slightly dirty, mildly cold, and with no frozen pipes. We did have to throw out some of our milk since I am convinced the inside of our refridgerator was actually warmer than our house at one point. Although I am in no hurry to do it all again, I have to admit that getting to spend all that time just being together will be something I will miss. Got to run. Got to pick up some milk and toilet paper at the store. Another storm that is projected to drop 12 more inches of snow is supposed to hit tomorrow. Keeping my fingers crossed that this time 12 inches actually turns out to be 2 inches instead of 2 feet.


I've Got the Power

Electricity was restored at 2:45 this morning. Time to move the family from the basement into the rest of the house. Normal (sporadic) blogging should return soon.


Sunday, February 07, 2010


It started snowing here around noon on Friday and didn't stop until some time Saturday afternoon. Two feet of snow later, the kids and pup are loving it. It really is quite beautiful. But there are consequences. The next town over is rather completely without electricity. As of last night 46% of our county was without electricity. I am sitting here with the family eating breakfast in coats in the dark while blogging on my phone. Our power went out on Friday at 9:45 and there hasn't been flicker since. The power is spotty in our neighborhood. So spotty that if you make a left out our driveway, everyone has electricity. If you make a right, darkness for half a mile then bam, lights again. My parents 2 miles away have power so we spent time over there yesterday (and had hot showers!). We are spending most our time in our game room where we have a wood burning stove. It is somewhat toasty. The rest if the house us currently 54 degrees. Reports say our power should return between Tuesday and Friday. Update again when we are warm.


Tuesday, February 02, 2010

A Year Ago

Although a day late, it has been a year since we brought Maya home. Our little fluffball who was scared and confused and oh so sleepy, has turned into a big furry lap dog who is most certainly loved by every member of this family, big and small. Really the only issue that we have with her now is that she loves everyone, sometimes a little too enthusiastically. Do I miss those few short weeks when she would crawl into my arms and fall asleep? How can I not?

Now there is just more of her to love is all.

Photo taken a week after we brought her home 2/8/09

She has put on a couple more pounds since this photo was taken on 11/29/09