Monday, January 28, 2008

Snow Day!



It snowed! I got the boys into all their layers and we went out to play. Beck loved it, but Yogi reminded me of a cat in the snow. He wanted to go in after about ten minutes and when a few flakes got on his mittens, he took them off.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

My Fond Interests

This weekend I was scanning my bookshelves looking for more books to weed out, when I stumbled upon an old notebook with all of my calligraphy work. So I sat down and carefully paged through the whole thing: the practice pages, the layout ideas, the exemplars, the poems and quotes I wanted to work on. What struck me the most was how I've completely forgotten about some of my past interests. Not only have I no time for playing around with creative pursuits, I haven't even had a chance to think about missing them. But with the notebook sitting right there in my lap, well, I had a nice long day dream about sitting down with all my pens, the pretty glass bottles of ink, the baby-blue lined papers. So organized, so quiet and meditative, so clean!

Anyway, here is a piece I particularly liked and always meant to work on, but never got to.

My Fond Interests by Chen Jiru

studio, cool breeze and beautiful moon
vase of flowers
tea, bamboo shoots, oranges and tangerines all in season
amid mountains and river
stretching under the sun
research
peace in the world
talking to high monks in the snow
having strange rocks and bronzes by my side
getting up from sleep
recovering from sickness
freely displaying objects, but slowly putting them away

The Votes Are In!

And the winner is...Wren! Thanks for your votes. My mom told me that Clover sounds like something you'd name a cow and two people mentioned that they would spell Ester with an h (Esther). I think we'll work some more on our list and throw it out to you all again as we get closer to our referral. For now, all I can say for sure is that Clover and Juniper are out.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Toaster Waffle

So this morning it was like this:

Beck wanted a toaster waffle and we had one left. I toasted it for him. I asked him how he wanted it cut. "In half," he said. I sliced it and handed it over. He took one look and said, "But I want it whole now." And then he shoved it away. So I ate it. About an hour later he wanted that toaster waffle back, but of course by then it was gone. So he started wailing and moaning and rolling around on the floor. It can make a person crazy, this parenting job.

Friday, January 25, 2008

When Beck Grows Up

Oh, this is nice: the house is completely quiet, everyone is sleeping and I'm here with the computer all to myself! Actually, I stayed up so I could finally get going on my Christmas Valentine's Day letter. But first I wanted to share quick Beck quote before I forget.

A few weeks ago, Beck was telling my mom what he wants to do when he grows up. He gave his usual list: a fireman and a worker. Then he got a big smile on his face and he added, "And I want to be a mom and a dad."

Time

Hello, my loyal readers. (all 3 or 4 of you, anyway!) I've been meaning to write, but I've been consumed with our basement lately. Decisions, decisions... about window treatments (Levolor Cellular, single cell in Daylight) and on shower surrounds (getting one more quote today, but we're thinking cultured stone with a privacy glass door.) Stay tuned for some "before and after" photos this weekend.

Other than that, I'm not sure where all my time is going. When I used to work full time I would wonder what on earth could keep a stay-at-home mom busy all day. And it's still true; I feel busy, but at the end of the day it never really looks like I've accomplished much. The living room is usually still strew with toys, piles of laundry sit on our bed waiting to be folded, bills still need to be paid. Actually, I've been trying to raise my awareness around time lately, but I haven't gotten very far.

Here's what I've noticed:
1. It takes 2.5 hours to get the boys out the door in the morning. That includes breakfast, packing Beck's lunch, clothes, my shower, and making the beds.
2. It takes a good 15 minutes to get myself ready for bed.
3. I take a 30 minute walk every night.

But that's only 3 hours and 15 minutes out of a 16 hour day. Note to self: keep better notes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My Other Job

I think I'm going to resign my teaching contract and that makes me sad. I know it's the only reasonable thing to do since we'll have a baby again this summer and even if we didn't, I still have two young boys at home. But still, it feels like the end of an era for me. I'm the kind of person who always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I'm the kind who spent hours playing "school" as a kid - even reading aloud from novels to my classroom of stuffed animals. And then just before graduating from college I got my job with the Edmonds School District teaching 5th grade. And that was 17 years ago. All in all I taught at three different schools, spent 8 years as a classroom teacher and 6 years as a school librarian. (I've been on childcare leave for the last few years.)And even though facing those 30 students for 7 hours a day was a tough job - crazy at times, it was me. It was the best me, I think.

Well, ok, one of the best; I'm a pretty good mom, too!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Name Game

When we named Yogi we got a bit of...uh...feedback so this time I'll ask you all to participate in our naming process! A friend of mine sent me this link to Nymbler, "Your Personal Baby Name Assistant". The site works like a slot machine and it's addictive. You never know what's going to come up next so you just keep pushing the button. I've already blown more time than I'll admit here on it, but the good news is that we've discovered a few names that we hadn't thought of, but would seriously consider. So today I'm using a few of those names in a poll and you get to vote! The polls close on Sunday so get your vote in now! And, no, "none of the above" is not an option today! :)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Good 'n Easy

If you're a foodie, you might want to stop reading this post now. Or just head on over to Orangette. For the rest of you I have three words: Lipton Onion Soup. Have you tried this stuff? I discovered it this weekend and made a delicious and super easy pot roast and the next day, the onion dip to go alongside a pile of fresh veggies. So easy, so tasty! I noticed Lipton has a website with lots of other ideas which I'll probably be trying soon. Always on the lookout for easy dinners.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Home Improvement

There was a story that we pondered and discussed in philosophy class in college that I often come back to. It goes like this: A wooden ship is built,given a name (we'll call it the Sea Maiden) put to sea, and eventually repaired. And over time each of the original timbers is replaced. In fact at some point there is not one bolt or board or anything at all left from the original construction. So the question is, is it still the Sea Maiden? Is it still same boat even though there is nothing left of the original Sea Maiden?

Ok, well we haven't replaced everything in our house, but it's beginning to feel a little like the Sea Maiden. Last summer we began an extensive remodel on our basement which included completely replacing our deck, most of the siding on the south side and everything in the interior downstairs. Now we're slowly trying to complete the finish work ourselves -- with generous help from my parents. They've been doing plaster work and painting this week and Chris is down there hanging doors as I type. Yesterday we nailed down the details of having our fence replaced, bought a new sink and faucet for the bathroom downstairs, and decided that we might keep the old fireplace face and just add a gas insert to it. Beck and Yogi put on their orange hardhats and went around with their tape measures yelling, "Right there!" Always helpful, those boys!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Adoption Process

Right now we're waiting for our referral. After that we wait for our court date (usually a month later) which happens in Ethiopia and at that point the child becomes legally ours. Head on over to Jocelyn's blog to see what it's like to be further along in the process! She's also working through Children's House International, our agency. Mazel tov to her!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Our Day

Our day started with Beck's four year check-up. He is in the 50th percentile for weight and "off the charts" for height. He was pretty scared during the whole check-up, but really fell apart while he got 4 shots. Poor little guy. I took him to Top-Pot donuts to make him feel better when it was all over.

Then we went to IKEA and bought the boys a bunk bed! We're only going to set up Beck's bed to start with since he is almost too big for his toddler bed, but Yogi still fits in his just fine. When our baby is here the boys will be changing rooms and then they'll both sleep in one of the new beds. I'm not sure if they'll be ready for having them set up as bunks at that point or not.

Dragon

The boys like to open up the front door and poke their heads out to "check the weather" throughout the day and then give me a little report. Here is one from today:

Yogi: It is dragon outside.
Me: Oh, you mean it's raining outside?
Yogi: No, I said it is dragon outside.
Me: Snowing? (It's been very cold lately)
Yogi: No, it is DRAAAGON! There is smoke coming out of my mouth outside.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Weed and Read

Today I noticed how messy the kitchen office bookshelves have gotten so I decided to weed the collection a bit. Here are a few that didn't make the cut:

Co-Housing - I've hauled this around for years, but let's face it, I'm not the kind of person who would feel comfortable living with a bunch of other people. I like my privacy and crave solitude and quiet. My family is enough of a co-housing community for me!

Machine Quilting for Beginners: tried it and didn't like it - especially traditional styles. I would like to learn to sew, however!

The Massage Handbook: Not sure why I bought this. Pages and pages of various techniques and diagrams of muscles which seem completely unnecessary at the level I'm interested in taking a massage. Plus I hate the oil.

Living Juicy: What? Lots of ridiculous time-wasters, if you ask me. I just opened to a random page titled "You are Your Journal". It says, "If you're bored, write in great motions just how bored you are, and why." I'll spare you. Besides I already have several journals filled with garbage like that.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: I could never figure out why this book gets recommended. I found it to be unhelpful and completely scattered and disorganized. It's the kind of book that you are compelled to throw across the room in frustration.

Pregnancy Childbirth and the Newborn: Don't need that anymore!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tickle me Timbers

It snowed! I took my walk while it was still swirling down last night which I consider a great treat and this morning it was white, but the snow had a hard icy crust on top. Sort of disappointing for the boys who wanted to roll out a snowman or two. Anyway, when I swept back the living room curtains this morning Beck took a look outside and shouted, "Tickle me timbers! It's white outside!" And then he did a little dance down the hall. This is why I love living with small children. Chris would never do that sort of thing!

Later in the day it turned Colorado on us with a searing blue sky and an ice cold wind. While I enjoy the winter sunshine, I don't enjoy the way every fleck of dust becomes visible in the low skim light. All that dust just drives me crazy and I spent a lot of time vacuuming. Which I do plenty of anyway!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Word of the Year

So have you noticed the Miriam Webster word of the year for 2007? It's woot. I can't stand this word - especially since it's not really a word. Maybe also because it's from the gaming community. I would've voted for fug, a word that's new to me this year, but fills a void in my vocabulary that needed filling. I have lots of opportunities to use that one! Love words.

A Birthday

Today we celebrated Beck's 4th birthday. Our Seattle family was here for lunch and birthday cake - a Scoop cake, by request. He got several wonderful presents including his first two-wheeler bike! Later in the day we took it for a ride around the block and he easily whizzed far ahead of us - and as I saw him getting smaller in the distance I thought, "There goes my baby!" It was another of those "wake-up" moments where suddenly he's leapfrogging (in this case off the back of his little trike) and into his future. Beck was proud and excited and so was I. I sure love that little guy. I'll try to get some photos up by tomorrow.

And now an adoption update: Children's House International called on Friday to tell me that they received our dossier and that we are officially on the waiting list for our baby girl. They estimate that it will only be about two months for our referral, but that it could be three to five months after that before we travel to Ethiopia.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Ahhh...

You must read "Hands", a sweet essay by Antique Mommy. Just read it.

My Sleepy Little Lambs



These were taken the other day during afternoon naps. Beck always sleeps with Piggy. I heard Yogi get up about 10 minutes after he went down and decided to wait and see what he would do before I interfered. He simply walked out into the living room, picked out his hammer and returned to the bed after carefully closing the door behind him.A hammer?! I love how children are constantly doing things that don't make sense to adults.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Sleeping Circus

Our bed is seeing a lot of action these nights. And, no, I do not mean THAT kind of action. It's like this: Chris and I go to bed and fall asleep. A few hours later Beck joins us and wakes me up so I can help him and his load of stuffed animals in. A few hours later Chris moves Beck back into Beck's bed after being speared in the back by Beck's head. A few hours later Beck re-joins us and wakes Yogi up in the process. Then Yogi comes in with his blanket. Yogi complains that the covers are touching him; he only wants his blanket on him. Yogi sleeps for a few hours and then wakes up loudly announcing that he wants to go back to his bed. I take him back. The alarm clock rings and Chis gets up for work. This wakes Yogi up and he returns to our bed. Now Beck is awake and wants his oatmeal. I give up!

Cause for Celebration!

This afternoon I Fed-Exed our completed and authenticated dossier along with three extra copies of the entire bundle - two certified and one plain to our agency in Ferndale, WA. In all I had about 65 documents notarized, made over 200 copies, drove south to Olympia, north to Ferndale, and east over the Cascade mountains twice -- in winter weather, no less! -- and sent it all to D.C. for authentication. It took 4 full months and in the end weighed 3 pounds. Whew! It's been consuming. I'm cautiously optimistic that our paperwork is complete and correct at this point, but I wouldn't be surprised if something comes up and we need to make a correction somewhere down the road. Anyway, cheers!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I Saw Christmas in the Yard Waste Bin

There's nothing that kills my Christmas spirit faster than seeing our Christmas tree cut up into small pieces and smashed into the yard waste bin. And to think that just two weeks ago it was the jewel of our home, glittering with possibility, the center of our boys' wide-eyed Christmas dreams. I happened to see it last night as I dumped the last sack of vegetable scraps into the bin. And now it's waiting on the curb ready to be picked up by the city and eventually ground into compost. And with that, it's time to move on!
I usually think of this time of year as the doldrums, a belt of calm where the winds are slight. And besides a few birthdays, there really isn't much going on. We are spending a lot of time inside these days because of the cold and damp weather. We have no trips planned. And we are about to begin a long stretch of waiting in our adoption journey. As soon as our dossier is sent to Ethiopia, we begin to wait for our referral (when the agency matches us with a baby and sends photos and health information) which they estimate will take between two and four months. It's strange and a bit unsettling to think that our daughter is probably already born at this point.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Monkey Face


For Beck's birthday we're invited to bring a little treat to share at preschool. Beck chose cupcakes with sprinkles so I whipped up the most darling little fleet of vanilla babycakes with chocolate frosting. I even used a "large star" pastry tip (#826) for the frosting application. Aren't they cute?

Both boys wanted to sample them so they bit in and immediately got frosting all over their faces. Here's the conversation I overheard while they sat at the table.

Yogi: You are a monkey, Beck.
Beck: No, I'm not.
Yogi: But you have monkey all over your face.

Thanks for sharing.

From Beck while sitting in his bed with his finger up his nose:

"Whenever I have a booger, I just take my finger and scratch it out."

Saturday, January 5, 2008

They're not babies anymore!

About once a week I really clean the wood floors in the kitchen and dining area. Of course, I do what I can on a daily basis, but with two young eaters and lots of spills and messing eating I just can't get it all. So about once a week I vacuum, chip off all the hardened food spills from the boys, and then damp mop the entire area. But this week as I worked my way around the table I noticed that Beck's area was basically clean - as was the foot rest on his chair. And then I started thinking that he really doesn't use a bib much anymore either. And you know what this means: Beck is growing up! It's funny how sometimes I wake up from all the chaos and realize, wow, they've changed - suddenly they've taken a giant step forward. Even Yogi surprised me this week when I noticed that he's saying, "Oh, darn it!" when something doesn't go his way. This is not something you hear from a baby. He still makes a big mess when he eats though!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Trip Notes

Death Valley, one of the hottest places on earth, was seriously cold. I wore four layers including a down jacket at all times outside. Of course Chris only had on one short sleeve shirt and a thin fleece jacket - not even wind block - and he was fine, but he has a weird internal heating system. Other than that the most remarkable thing for me about the desert was the total silence. We didn't get away from heavily visited areas or roads too much, but when we did the silence was wonderful and a bit eerie.
We did a few hikes with the boys, but they still want to be carried much of the time - especially over rough terrain. Beck is probably close to 50 lbs. and when he rides on my shoulders he grips my head like a vice and grinds his little chin into my scalp. It sort of feels like wearing a heavy backpack on your neck while someone is pulling your hair out by the roots. Not good. We did what we could and it was incredible to be there doing it. I'll try to get a little slide show with more pictures up tomorrow.