Wednesday, March 26, 2008

This is what I get for making fun of Trekkies

I've made some slightly unkind, sarcastic comments about Star Trek fans in my life. Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, comic book nuts (er, fans)... Same difference. I have judged them. I've called them names. I have been almost a tiny bit mean, maybe. But no longer. Something has happened to change all that. I fear it's all coming back to bite me, so I am turning over a new leaf. A leaf of love, compassion and understanding. From this day forth I say, "Rock on, pitifully lonely, pointy-eared, spandex costume-wearin,' still-living-with-your-mom, never-had-a-girlfriend, nasal spray-addicted, convention-goer! I salute you!" Oh, sorry. It just slips out. That was the last one. I'm all done, startinnng... ... ... NOW.

Earlier today I was giving Tucker my "undivided attention" (meaning I was utilizing that awesome Mom Listening skill where you maintain eye contact while you smile and nod, and you're somehow able to say things like, "Wow, buddy! That's sooo cool!" at all the right times, but really you are making a mad, mental dash to your happy place) as he went on and on and on and on about some video game, that may or may not have had something to do with Spider-man. If Tuck were to rank these types of conversations in importance, they would be on par with finding the cure for cancer, so I do my best to understand and be interested. I love Tucker. Really, I do. He is a very bright, sweet, wonderful boy. I cherish every opportunity to hear about all the things that interest my kids (wow, I said that with a totally straight face) and I would never want to be critical of their interests or make fun of my own child. At least not on a public forum... at home in private is fine. (Kidding... Kind of.)

But the boy does take his superheroes very seriously. I'm sure when he's old enough to notice girls, that phase will pass, right? Please, God?

Anyway, Evan walked in behind him and, with a serious and deeply interested tone, says, "Hey, Tucker? When you grow up, buddy, are you gonna be going to those Spider-man conventions, all dressed up like Eddie Brock to talk about, like, every detail of Spider-man?"

Now, Evan is a very witty guy. He has that dry humor that I love so much, and he's sharp as a tack. His sense of humor is way beyond his years, and he makes me laugh every single day with some perfectly-timed crack. It's one of my favorite things about him, but unfortunately, that type of humor is often lost on little kids and the superhero obsessed.

So Tucker- not feelin' the levity- snaps, "Now, how am I supposed to dress like Eddie Brock, Evan? Huh? How? I don't even have a jacket that looks like that! And I don't look anything like Eddie Brock, Evan!!" He seemed slightly agitated. A tad more P.O.'d than the situation called for, but that's just my opinion.

(This is the Eddie Brock character, BTW, who becomes Venom in Spmn 3. Duh.)

Evan and I exchanged a look and had a sweet little mother/son bonding moment where we were both kind of telepathically making fun of poor Tuck before I started to giggle and ruined the magic. Ah... Good times. Of course, Tucker didn't understand why anyone would be laughing over a topic of such weighty importance as this one, which just seemed to add to his P.O.'dness.

Later, Tuck came back to ask me what a Spider-man convention even is. I dodged the question. For now. Can you blame me? He's going to think it sounds awesome, and he'll go on and on and on and... He's going to want to go to one. I just know it. I've got it coming. I pretty much asked for it.

Aw, geez. I'm going to need a much bigger happy place to handle that.

It's not like they need the blog traffic, but...

To the one or two people left on the planet who may not read Pho For Four and already know this: Go see the pictures of the beautiful new Finley Marie! I can't wait to hear Laurie's account of her labor and delivery. That poor girl labored the old-fashioned, natural way for days before having her lovely new baby girl late yesterday morning by c-section. Go over and give Laurie and Travis a big "Congratulations!"

Monday, March 24, 2008

You should really talk more about being adopted...

This is going to be a long one. If you're not interested, now's your chance to escape. If you're staying, better pour yourself a Coke, grab the bag of chips and settle in. You have been warned.

The title of today's post is a suggestion I've heard several times now since starting this blog. Why don't I talk more about my own adoption? How much time do you have?

The reasons I don't talk about it here are many, but they include:
  • Not wanting to upset, embarrass or offend my mom with unpleasant revelations or memories about my childhood (For clarification purposes, when I use the words "mother" or "mom," I am referring to the mother who raised me: my adoptive mother, although I hate calling her my "adoptive mother" and never do so in real life situations. She's just my Mom. When I refer to my birth mother, that's what I normally call her. Sometimes, I say bio/biological mother. I don't do the whole "first mother" thing that's so popular right now. I don't like it. Anyway, you should be able to differentiate with no problem). Both mothers and other family members visit my blog, so I feel an obligation to practice restraint. I am acutely aware that my story is not just my own. To be completely open and honest about it, means I will probably say something that is seen as hurtful by the other people involved. And you know the old saying, "If you can't say something nice..."
  • Along the same lines... My attitude towards some of the people involved is probably not what it should be, although I don't really know what it should be. Maybe I should say that, as a Christian, I fear it's not what God would want it to be. I live with a lot of guilt. I feel I should be more forgiving, more accepting, more understanding, less hurt, less angry, etc. Some days, I'm at total peace with the whole mess, full of understanding and forgiveness. Some days, I'm not. And usually, the more I think and talk about it, the more self-focused I become- and the more I feel slighted, betrayed, and treated unfairly. This doesn't mesh with how the Word of God tells me I should feel and think (Just one example: "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires... If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless." James 1:19,26).
  • Mostly, I just plain don't wanna talk about the ugliness of it in a public forum. It doesn't make me happy. How's that? Maybe I will want to someday, but not today.

The entire thing is a long, convoluted mess of a story. I think I've touched on my childhood a little bit in this previous post, but have never given the adoption back story. The best I can do on this blog is an edited version without the spicy details, and with an effort made to keep my judgments and opinions out of it (yeah, we'll see how that goes), which is not the most interesting way to tell a story, I know. Sorry. I'm told it's a juicy and titillating tale from a listener's POV, but I don't owe "a juicy story" to anyone. It's not my job to provide shocking, heart-wrenching, touching, or exciting stories. That's what Oprah is for.

I was told I was adopted as a child, but adoption was not openly discussed in my home growing up. I consider that to be no fault of my parents- that's just the way it was back then. The few times I recall bringing it up, my mother was visibly "ruffled" and I was aware of doing something wrong.

**And may I interrupt my own story here for just a second, to encourage APs not to be afraid of questions? Welcome and encourage them. Answer them. Let your kid ask or say whatever they need to say. Try as hard as you can to remove yourself and your own insecurities from the situation. Remember some things are not about you. Let them feel their feelings without guilt. Provide opportunities and outlets for them to get those feelings out in the open. Don't wait for them to bring it up, either. They may not realize they're allowed to talk about it, if they don't hear you talk about it. Recognize that the life they had before you is part of who they are and should be treated with love and respect. It can only help draw you closer and build a solid relationship. Lecture done. Moving on.

I didn't know many details of my conception and birth, or why I was placed for adoption, until I was around 26. By that time, you have a fairly clear idea of who you are. It took years, trying to readjust my compass, to come to grips with how the knowledge of my story has changed my perception of myself. Self Identity is a stubborn thing. The few sketchy details I thought I knew, came from my parents who got them from their agency. Those details turned out to be untrue. Catholic Charities may have thought the truth would make me a less desirable candidate. I don't know.

Here are the basic, non-juicy facts that I can share with you...
I was relinquished in 1966 by a woman with two other children, ages 7 and 10, so I have two older bio half-siblings who were raised by their mother. She was separated from her husband, and they reconciled during her pregnancy with me. Her husband was not my father. They divorced years later, shortly before I met her in 1993. He dropped her off at the hospital to have me. She never held or saw me. The husband looked at me once, apparently. He brought her back home after my birth and I was never discussed. I was just gone. She kept my relinquishment a secret from everyone (but the husband), allowing her family to believe she had "lost" her baby. My half-siblings learned of my existence, from their mother, shortly before I met all of them. They had forgotten about their mother's pregnancy until she revealed her story to them as adults.

I was adopted as an infant by a married couple with one 9 year old bio son, so I have an older brother. As I said, they used Catholic Charities and were told by the agency that my birth mother was very young (she is actually a year or so older than my mom) and single; basically a poor girl "in trouble." I guess that seemed more "acceptable" to them than the truth? The agency's version was understandable- something you can sympathize with; something that would make me sound deserving and in need of a family.

During my first pregnancy, I grew tired of writing "unknown" in boxes on medical forms and not knowing my own medical history for my kid's sake. That's how the wondering started. Before that the thoughts were just vague and distant wisps. Nothing concrete. I had learned to feel guilty when I wondered, so I tried not to. But I couldn't help wondering where the boys' blue eyes came from, as Darrell and I have green. The wondering eventually grew into an ache, then a need. I wanted to know who I was and where I came from for MY sake (Oh, be careful of what you wish for, little girl...). I decided to start searching after my second pregnancy.

In the state where I was born, at the time of my search, the records were sealed and only a court-approved private investigator was allowed to petition the court to open them and release them to the adoptee. That may have changed now. I certainly hope so. My history, my personal beeswax, was known by the investigator before it was known by me. Seems a little screwy to me the way adoptees are treated as if their own life is none of their business, but whatever. I digress. We paid the investigator a ridiculous amount of money to gain access to my own life, and she went to work.

I called my parents to let them know I was searching, out of respect. They had a right to know. Plus, it was an exciting and scary time and I wanted their support. My mom burst into tears. She was hurt and mad. It was so difficult to know I had broken her heart. I felt like I was the most selfish, disgusting scum on earth, and at the same time was indignant over feeling that way. I felt very lonely and afraid all of a sudden not to have the support I had hoped for, but still I understood her feelings. And I had Darrell. Thank God. He was a rock during that time.

It didn't take the investigator long to starting collecting information. Too bad the initial info was incorrect. She soon called me and coldly read the non-identifying "facts" surrounding my conception, birth and adoption as if reading a weather report. The very first piece of information I was given was that I was born to a married couple with two children. My mind was racing and I crumbled inside, as the P.I. kept right on talking (So then, she means this wasn't a matter of "having to give me up?" They had other kids and just... Didn't. Want. Me.). This new detail did not fit the mental ideal I'd cooked up for myself (with a little help from the good folks at Catholic Charities); that my birth mother was young and single and scared and "had no other choice." She would have kept me if she could, but she had no choice. I was a wanted child, but her circumstances determined that she had... Blah, blah, blah. It was all a bunch of lies. Lies I'd been telling myself all my life to feel better about her and what she did; trying to understand. Trying to justify. Trying to insulate myself from feeling rejected. Ever feel completely worthless and unwanted, like trash to be thrown away? I sure did that day. It was the first major "heartbreak moment," in what would unfortunately become a semi-regular series of them over the next few years. This minor blunder was later clarified when the P.I. made contact with the bio mother and learned her husband was not my bio father, but for the first few days I was a zombie. Wait. Do Zombies bust out crying while cooking dinner, or driving their cars? I called Darrell at work to tell him right after I finished talking to the investigator and I absolutely, totally lost it. I felt like I'd just been punched in the gut and kicked in the teeth after being run over by a truck. I didn't know at the time that that would become a very familiar feeling. It took me a long time to get past that feeling. At least I think I'm past it.

The P.I. said the next step was to write a letter to my birth parents, explaining why I'd like to meet them. Keep in mind, at this time, I still believed I was writing to my two married parents. It felt like grovelling to me. Begging. It felt like I was being asked to advertise or promote myself; make myself sound worthy enough to meet the people who gave me "the gift of life." I was supposed to make it clear that I didn't blame or judge them, I just wanted to meet them. What I really felt like saying was... Well, we'll just save that part for another post. Anyway, the letter writing process was very humiliating and difficult. There were countless drafts, and probably even more moments of wondering if I should just stop this whole thing right then and there. Just forget it. But how could I do that by that point?

The time came to get to the particulars... Do we meet, or do we not? Everything was still being mediated by the P.I. I couldn't be given any names or contact info. until all the parties gave consent. But there was a glitch. My birth mother was open to it, but her former husband was not. The problem? He was listed as my father on my original birth certificate. It was only at this time I found out he really wasn't. But still, because his name was on the certificate, he had to give permission for a meeting to take place between the bio mother and me, even though they were divorced and he wasn't my bio father. I was told he feared I may be after his money. He didn't want to be legally obligated in any way to a kid (kid, trash, whatever) that wasn't his. Understandable enough, I guess. The investigator pleaded with him on my behalf and assured him I wanted nothing from him and would leave him alone if he would just please, please be kind enough to allow me to meet my birth mother. I had to sign some legal thing, drafted especially for the occasion, promising to never try to contact him in any way or claim him as my dad (Gee, what a loss). More grovelling. More humiliation.

He agreed and I got the contact information for my birth mother. I called her that same night, which was by far the scariest phone call I've ever made. The P.I. assured me she was sitting at home waiting for my call, but she didn't know who I was for a few minutes after I called. Awkward moment. We met a few weeks later, I think.

I can't tell you how odd it is to stare into a stranger's face and see your own features. It was exciting and scary and emotional. And weird. I met my half siblings and their families, although not all in that same night. Everyone was nice. I remember wondering if they were all horribly disappointed in me, or wishing I'd just disappear (again). The first meetings went OK and we planned future get-togethers. The future get-togethers gradually grew further and further apart over the years. There's not much interaction anymore. My birth mother and I exchange emails occasionally, and see each other maybe once every year or two. I don't have much contact with the half-sibs or other family members and don't know them very well, although they've always been nice to me when I do see them.

It's an odd and difficult thing, for all involved, to meet close blood relatives for the first time in adulthood. There's no etiquette or rule book for handling that kind of thing. The truth is, there's just no way to replace or fake the bond that can only come from knowing someone all your life. You can't fast-track a history together. You're related, but you're strangers. You have things in common, yet you're completely different.

So, there you have it. There's the story. The "Short Version!" lol! Whaddya think?

A natural question is, "Did you find what you hoped to find?" That depends. What was I hoping to find? lol! I still don't know. I guess the answer is basically a "No." I did get half of a medical history, which was my original goal, so I guess it was halfway successful then? When I started looking, I wasn't completely aware of all the hidden expectations and hopes I had tucked away inside.

The whole experience has truly been the proverbial Pandora's Box. There have definitely been some blessings here and there, but it also caused waaay more pain than I was prepared to handle. Pain that affected others around me, yet can never be fully understood by those closest to me. It's been draining, exhausting, and at times, tormenting. However, I still believe every adoptee has the right to know where they come from. Nobody should have to wonder about their own identity and history.

If you're considering a search of your own, for yourself or on behalf of your child, I would just caution you first to do a lot of self-searching before you begin. Make sure you're being completely honest with yourself about your reasons for wanting to search, and take lots of time to consider your own hidden expectations. Sort the fantasies from the realities. Carefully and deliberately consider all possible outcomes. What would be your worst-case scenario, and are you prepared to handle it if that or something worse happens? How good are you at dealing with rejection? Are you considering the impact on your other relationships? What are the long-term ramifications, and are you really prepared for those? It sounds stupid, but you need to remember you can't go back and unlearn something once you learn it. Be sure. Be very, very sure. And don't assume or expect anything (Easier said than done!). Just my two cents. And always keep a litter bag in your car... OK- That one was thrown in just to see if you're still listening.

To those of you who asked me about this stuff, I hope I gave you the info you were hoping for. If not, and there's something you'd like to know- just ask me. I'll either answer you or I won't! HA! I may prefer to answer in a personal email, but I'll probably answer. If there's an interest in this, I may do another post about it. Let me know what you as a parent feel would be helpful to hear from me as an adoptee (if anything), and I'll see what I can do. And as always, if you want to comment or discuss, great!

My Husband the Comedian

Darrell and I really enjoy prescription drug commercials. They're hysterical. They always sound like one of those pretend Saturday Night Live commercials. We just love the way the side effects are quickly rattled off like they're no big deal, when oftentimes they're actually worse than the condition the drug is supposed to treat. At best, it's a trade-off.

I have had RLS since I was a teenager, since before RLS even had a name or a drug prescribed for it. In the past, I've tried to explain it to doctors and pharmacists who treated me like I was nuts and had no idea what I was talking about. For those that don't know, RLS is Restless Leg Syndrome. If you know what it is, then you probably either have it or have to share a bed with someone who does and you know it's absolutely, unbelievably miserable. If you don't know what it is, it's very hard to explain... Basically when it's time to go to bed, or I have to sit still for long periods (like a really long car trip, or plane ride, etc.), my calves move. You can't see it or feel it from the outside. They twitch and quiver deep down inside and there's no way to stop it. I don't mean leg cramps. They continue to move all night, keeping me from getting a sound sleep. It's not really a painful thing, just incredibly uncomfortable, nerve-racking and it drives the sufferer crazy.

In the last couple years, I've been seeing commercials for drugs specifically intended to treat RLS. Here's one we saw last night for a drug called Mirapex:

Side effects include "drowsiness and falling asleep during normal activities like driving." Oh. Sounds ideal for a busy Stay-At-Home, homeschooling Mom! My legs will stop quivering but I'll kill my kids when I take a little snooze on the way to Wal-Mart and cause a head-on crash. Let me think... What to do. What to do. Another side effect is nausea. Well, of course... Constantly feeling ready to vomit is much better than twitching legs. Gosh, it's just so darn tough to decide if I want to try it. Then came a warning to tell your doctor if you experience increased gambling, sexual or other intense urges... Unfortunately, the YouTube clip above cuts off the tail end of the commercial, but right at the end they say something like, "Ask your doctor if Mirapex may be right for you!" As soon as Darrell heard that he goes, "Oh yeah. It's right for you." Smarty pants. Do you suppose he was referring to my need for help with my RLS, or... something else entirely? Hmmm.

Hey, maybe I'll become a gambling addict who falls asleep and/or vomits in the middle of sex???? At least my legs won't be twitching!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

Here's a few pictures of the kiddos...
My beautiful girlies, ready for church this morning.
Bri looked like such a little business woman in her suit. Tucker was in a skit at church this morning.He did a great job- definite acting potential!His "character" had to dress as an Easter basket for a party.
He'll kill me one day for posting these photos.
I can't wait to show them to his prom date, someday... hee hee hee.After the skit, all the kids came up to sing a song. This is how Bri looked throughout her whole performance. She's not one to concern herself with something as boring as being prim, proper or ladylike. That's my girl! Stand right out front and let that beer gut hang out, Honey! Back at home, it was time for the Easter egg hunt. When Olivia heard Evan the other day telling Brianna he'd help her find eggs, Livie said, "Boy, I sure hope someone invites me to be their partner on the hunt, too!" So Alex, being the gallant gentleman that he is, asked his little sister to be his Easter egg hunting date. Such a sweet guy! It was a pretty good match- she wound up with the fullest bucket.
I'm not sure what Bri saw here, but it must have been something good!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

That's My King

Robbed from Ladybug's Mama. I love this. Have a happy Easter! I'll try to post some pics of the kids tomorrow. Blessings to all! Take it easy on the chocolate bunnies.

New Again

Friday, March 21, 2008

50 Best Mom Blogs

Hi, Blog Buddies~
Don't have enough blogs to read already? Teens Today With Vanessa Van Petten has compiled a list of the "50 Best Mom Blogs." These are not adoption-specific, but Mom Blogs of all types. Take a look. She will soon be posting her list of Dad Blogs and Parenting Blogs, too- so watch for those. I found Vanessa's blog link on 5 Minutes for Mom.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

College Road Trip

I know. Another post from me today. Don't I have a life, you wonder? Apparently not today. The kids are on Spring Break here, so I have some MUCH needed extra time on my hands to get important stuff done; deep cleaning, organizing, catching up on things, or ignore the important stuff and talk to you guys instead. Hmmm... Which do I choose?

So, how's this for pathetically embarrassing? We went to see College Road Trip this afternoon. No- that's not the pathetic part, although I was embarrassed to be there watching it. Not a good movie. Not. At. All. I was embarrassed for Martin Lawrence and that pretty little Raven Simone girl who is still trying to cling to her cuteness from her Cosby days. And what happened to Martin's career? So sad. He used to be kinda funny. Bad acting. Bad plot. Bad writing. Bad. Bad. Bad. The only redeeming thing was Donny Osmond- and that's only because I was so in love with him when I was little that I'm allowing him to coast a LOT. Although, I do think Don's had a little work done. His eyes look a little stretched to me. Am I right? But that's neither here nor there, and he was kinda funny at the tail end of the movie. I'll give him a C-, while the rest of the movie gets a D-. Raven Simone gets a... what's worse than an F? Have I made my feelings clear? Not an Oscar contender, is what I'm saying.

Anyhooo... I'm sitting there suffering through this cruddy movie, slapping on the fake "I'm having so much fun here" Mom Smile for the sake of the kid, aware of each and every one of the 83 passing minutes and feeling stupefied to think I PAID someone to steal these 83 minutes from me.

I don't want to give away crucial plot details on such a fine film, but towards the end of the movie, it's time for an over-protective Martin Lawrence to realize his little girl is old enough to be treated as an adult (even though Raven Simone unfortunately chooses to play her part as an obnoxious 12 yr. old through the whole thing, but I'll stop picking on the poor baby, just in case she reads my blog ). He knows he needs to let her go. This is when suddenly, inexplicably, I started to get a little... Oh, we'll say "verklempt."

It made me think about Alex leaving for college in a few months and how it's time for me to stop worrying and being afraid, to pull back and entrust him to the Lord, trust that I've done my job "good enough;" time to let him go, let him be a man, and "Oh my gosh. If he's a man, he won't ever need his mom again," and... You get the idea, right?

When the time comes for Raven's parents to say good-bye and leave her at school, Martin Lawrence flashes back to her as a little girl, and (here comes the pathetically embarrassing part, people)- Aw geez, I can hardly bring myself to say it... I cried. I cried and cried. Real tears running down my face. I even had to stifle one of those embarrassing sob noises. I turned it into a cough. Pretty convincingly, too- I might add.

I cannot believe I cried during College Road Trip. My shame is more than I can bear. Go ahead. Mock. Make fun. Please. Be merciless. I deserve it.

We love this recipe...

I tweaked a recipe for a chocolate bundt cake (which is very good), and came up with something that my whole family RAVED about, which is really unusual. Eight people of various ages rarely agree on anything. I got major mom props for this and it's so easy (it uses mostly pre-packaged stuff), so I thought I'd share it with you...

See, this is what I've been reduced to. Our adoption is going nowhere, so my "adoption blog" is now nothing more than recipes. All that's left for me now is to throw in some cleaning hints. I may add in a few wise parenting tips I've learned over the years, like how to get a kid's head out from between the spindles of your mom's stair railing (freak out and cry first, yell at the kid, cry a little more, wonder how it could have gotten in there in the first place if it can't come out, call for kid's dad to come do something, dad then calmly saves the day, yell at kid repeatedly throughout the day for putting you through this and threaten that they better never do it again), but we'll just have to see.

Remember, you don't get a figure like mine without knowing a thing or two about good cake. This one is a keeper.

Chelle's Butterscotch Spice Cake

Beat together:
1 pkg. Spice cake mix
1 5.9 oz. pkg. instant vanilla (or butterscotch) pudding
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 c. warm water
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Stir in:
1-2 cups butterscotch chips (depending on your preference) I used one small (11 oz.?) pkg., but could have used a little more.

Pour into a greased bundt pan and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 50-55 minutes. Let cool in pan completely before inverting onto a plate. Dust the top with sifted powdered sugar, or warm a can of cream cheese frosting in microwave and drizzle over the top as a glaze. So good!

If you switch the cake mix, pudding, and chips to all chocolate and omit the vanilla and cinnamon, you have the original chocolate bundt recipe I started with, which I found on I use a dark chocolate cake mix, and 2 cups mini chocolate chips when I make it. Dust it with powdered sugar. It's good!

I get a lot of good recipes off that site. Check it out.


"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for." EpicurusSpring, to me, is Hope. The dead, cold, ground begins to sprout grass. There are buds on the trees. Flowers bloom. Birds chirp (which does become annoying pretty quickly and then I hate them, but work with me here, people)... Everything ugly becomes beautiful again. The ultimate Do-Over! Hope is such a precious gift. Even in our worst moments, when we are absolutely sure it has died, it takes a few timid steps out of the dark to let us know it's still there. It tells us to keep going. Keep believing. Spring is Birth: The birth of second chances, new beginnnings... fresh hope.
May the first day of spring bring fresh hope to each one of you, with an appreciation of the One whose mercies are new every day- the Creator of spring and of hope! Peek out from your long, dark winter and Choose to see the beauty and hope of spring. And, YES- I realize I've gone all Hallmark Card-ish on you... No, I have not been drinking. Yes, I do feel like I could vomit in my mouth a little bit over it. But what I've said is still true. Just ignore your gag reflex and accept it. "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him..." Lamentations 3:21-25God bless! Happy Spring! And if I don't talk to you before, Have a blessed and happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Terror at the Mall

No, that's not the name of the latest Quentin Tarantino film... That's a description of my afternoon.

I went shopping with Olivia today. We ate lunch at IHop (first of several mistakes- remind me next time that only alcoholics and kids leaving prom at midnight actually choose to eat at IHop on purpose- at least at our IHop.).

We were having lots of fun together. Then I decided to look at dresses. Geez. Way to ruin a great day, Chelle. I decided to be brave and try on a few in a smaller size (second mistake), since I've started losing a little weight.

The first one was just so-so. Didn't make me cry, but it wasn't anything special. It was too low-cut for church, which is the only place I go where I'd need to wear a dress. And while I was impressed with the appearance of my own, um... neckline area, I pictured myself greeting my pastor in this dress and decided against it. Best not to be known as the Church Harlot, when I'm probably already known for several other unflattering things.

The second one almost looked good, as good as a dress can look on a horse. It was kinda stretchy too, so I could fool myself into thinking the smaller size really does fit well. That's a huge bonus.

The third one... Aw, geez. The third one was a pull-over-your-head kind of dress. It went on OK, which I'm still trying to figure out. It was pretty tight in the, um... chesticular regions, though. Uncomfortably so. Do you remember me telling you the other day I'm just a teensy bit claustrophobic? I hope so, because that figures greatly into our little story from here on out.

So I've got this dress squeezing my, um... lung area, and then I realize it's kind of tight in my shoulders, and oh Dear God, I'm going to die if I don't get this &*%#$!!! thing OFF right NOW. I start to pull it back up over my head, and... I'm stuck. It's stuck. I can't breath. I AM GOING TO DIE. I tell Olivia, "Oh, geez. I think I'm stuck in here."
Livie says, "You're whaaaat?" She starts to giggle. She doesn't seem concerned. No, not at all. She doesn't realize my head is starting to go all fuzzy and I have roughly 48 seconds of air left before it's all over, and her mother will be wearing this tight, evil piece of crud in her coffin.
She says, "What do you want me to do about it?"
I gently, calmly tell her, "You have to get me out." By now, I'm laughing with her, which is using up my last little bit of oxygen (third mistake). I feel myself fading.
She laughs hysterically, wasting precious seconds wiping the tears rolling down her cheeks and slapping her leg.
I say, "I'm glad you're enjoying this so much, but I NEED SOME HELP! GET ME OUT NOW!"
She wants to know how, exactly, she is supposed to get me out.
I drop to my knees in the dressing room, begging her to "LIFT IT UP! PULL IT OFF! GET ME OUT!" I hear more laughter, and what I'm certain is the sound of another leg slap. "I'm your mother for Pete's sake- please, if you've ever been fond of me at all, even a little, help me! I'll buy you something with Hannah Montana on it. PULL!"

She pulls. It comes off. She laughs. She wants to know how I managed to get stuck in a dress. She says this whole thing was "a little bit ridic-lee-ous."

We open the dressing room door, and I am surprised to see there are no security guards waiting for us with guns drawn, after all the commotion.

I bought the second dress. The stretchy one. Suddenly, I really loved it. I bought Liv some Hannah Montana hair clips.

Fun day.

Monday, March 17, 2008


I first learned about this upcoming film on Angel's blog (at least I think it was Angel's blog. My apologies if I'm wrong). This is the short trailer... there is a longer (7 min.) clip available to view on YouTube and the Expelled movie website. I'm getting so excited about this movie and just wanted to bring it to your attention. I believe it comes out April 18th, and I can't wait to see it. I've never been a huge Ben Stein fan (although I do like my "Bueller... Bueller..."), but this is a subject I'm passionate about, as a Christian and homeschool mom. If you're involved with a church youth group, I bet this would be an awesome film to take them to see! I'd even be willing to take a group in my van, but only if it's not a bunch of lunatic little girls (Remember how well it turned out last time I did that?).

P.S. Happy St. Pat's Day

Sunday, March 16, 2008

BIG News in a little package!

This is so exciting, guys! RUN- don't walk- over to MN to VN to see the big surprise and offer Anne and Grant a big "Congratulations!"

Thursday, March 13, 2008

First Official Sign of Spring

Is this the face of a hardened criminal?

Spring is just around the corner. I know this not by looking at my calendar, or by the warming weather, but by the fact that my daughter brought me flowers today- picked without permission from the neighbor's yard. Despite my repeated attempts over the years to stop my little criminals, the "Stealing of the Daffodils" has become a tradition and the surest sign of Spring. Each year's new thief always tries to use the same old tired excuse... They don't recall me yelling at last year's thief for committing the same offense. Yeah, sure. I must confess, it is hard to be disgusted with that proud, smiling face thrusting pretty flowers under my nose.

Here's a few thrown in for fun. Mike whipped out the Elvis glasses to make me laugh. He succeeded. What a dork.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I may be a freak, but I'm no psycho...

After publishing yesterday's post and doing my usual "After Publishing Proofread" thing (which is when all the typos suddenly appear), it occurred to me that I may have made my reading/history interests sound a little, um... Dark? Twisted and creepy? The historical periods and events I mentioned mostly revolved around horrific human suffering. Did I sound as if I'm obsessed with disasters, death and suffering, just a tiny bit? I hope I didn't make it sound as if I "like" the holocaust or slavery... That would just be icky. It's not the suffering that interests me, it's the surviving. It's the strength exhibited in the personal stories of the people involved that grabs me. People who have had the crap kicked out of them by life and continue on, believing, hoping- and not only surviving, but really living life just amaze and challenge me. People who have every reason to become jaded, hateful, cynical, horrible, but DON'T... That's what I like. If I didn't make that clear yesterday, and had you scared for a minute that you have been reading the pre-manifesto writings of a sicko all this time, I apologize.

Before I go... For those who may not know it yet, S. of Our Vietnamese Ladybug is back from VN with her daughter! She came back last week after 7 long weeks in VN. Hop on over and give her a big "Welcome Home!"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Feeling Better

Well, the clouds are beginning to part and I can see a few glimmers of sunshine peeking through. My horrible funk is passing. Thank you guys, for the sweet comments the other day after my fun little depression rant. Not a single one of you told me to just shut up and stop whining, which is amazingly kind.

I think I've just been very, very tired for too long and I ran out of steam... Well, that and the fact that my ridiculously high expectations of myself don't do me any favors. I don't know why I'm willing to give someone else a break, but not myself. Never myself. I do apologize, by the way, for making June Cleaver a part of my little break down. That was uncalled for. Even I know that goal is waaaayyy unrealistic, and I don't even really want that. My references to poor old June got a few jabs from some of you guys the other day, and rightfully so... but I say you gotta give props to any woman who calls her son "Beaver" with a straight face. Did they ever offer any explanation as to how he acquired that nickname? I must have missed that episode. I don't remember his teeth sticking out, or anything- and if they did, wouldn't that be really mean and twisted to call him Beaver? You just have to appreciate a woman who can inflict that kind of long-term emotional damage on a kid with no apologies, wearing pearls as she does it- lol! Actually I never watched or liked that show, and I don't really sit around daydreaming I could be her- I promise!

If I had to pick an equally unrealistic TV mom I'd really like to be, it would probably be Laura Petrie (Mary Tyler Moore) from the old Dick Van Dyke Show. Anybody remember her? I always loved that show and her character. She always looked nice- with her cute little capri pants and flippy hairdo, had a clean house, and still had time to maintain relationships with friends and constantly throw those fun little parties where she would serve "potato poopies (which I don't think I would have eaten)" and "corn curlys" then sing and dance for everyone right there in her own living room. Awesome! But, I DO understand that TV is not real life (really, I do!) and I can't be the perfect sitcom mom. I don't look good in those skinny capri pants anyway. So, who's your favorite TV mom? Let's hear it!

Last Monday, we had to take Tucker back to the Dr. for a THIRD round of antibiotics. He has a sinus infection that just won't die, and the Dr. said if it doesn't clear up, it could be a polyp in his sinus cavity. She didn't act too concerned about that, but it doesn't sound good to me. Any medical people out there? Should I be doing a Mommy Freak Out over that, or not?

Then on Thursday, we were supposed to take a field trip to the cave I was telling you guys about. Livie woke up with a fever (a little one), but said she felt "great" and wanted to go. So we dosed her up with Tylenol and went. We had a lot of fun. It was really interesting and beautiful in there, but once my claustrophobia started kicking in, I forgot to take any pictures. There were tiny little bats in there hibernating. One of them moved a little when the guide shined a flashlight at him. I freaked. But just a little bit. Good times.

On Friday, we were supposed to go on another field trip with our homeschool group, but had to skip it. Instead, it was Olivia's turn to go back to the Dr., since I'm such a great mom and drag my sick babies all over creation to look at bats in damp, chilly caves. She did not need another round of antibiotics, because her ear and lungs looked and sounded good this time- Thank God. The Dr. thinks it was a separate viral thing this time. I was told to take her home and give her plenty of rest, so...

On Saturday, we all packed into the van for the long trek to Pea Ridge, AR. There is a Civil War battle site and national park there, and this was the 146th anniversary of the battle. They had a lot of special stuff going on on Saturday only, and Olivia kept assuring me she felt "great," and wanted to go. Since she wasn't running any fever that morning, we went. I'm not always such a horrible mother when it comes to my kids' health, really!

We had a really good time. I must admit, I'm a little bit of a history geek. I hate boring text books; can't stand a bunch of dates, and dry facts, but I LOVE memoirs and biographies from certain periods of history- The Civil War is one of those periods. Walking around this place with all the guys dressed up was like living history. So interesting! I had more fun than my kids, I think! To some, this may sound almost as nerdy as, oh... say, a Trekkie Convention, or something. But it wasn't like that at all. Those people... Well, I won't say anymore. Wouldn't want to offend any Trekkie readers.

Just an FYI, for those who may want to mock my geekiness later, in addition to the Civil War/Slavery era, I'm also really interested in stories of the Titanic, Henry VIII, his wives and his kids (Elizabeth I), the Holocaust, etc. I really have a thing for reading about people who lived through unspeakably horrible circumstances. I even like reading about the Donner Party, so how's that grab you for weird? Moving on...

When we were back in the van heading home, Tucker said, "Hey Mom? Can you feel my head and see if I have a fever?" Oh, great. Sure enough, he had one. I imagine it's a touch of the same virus Livie had, but with the troubles we've had getting his nose cleared up- it's the last thing we need.

On Sunday morning, Tuck's fever was down (mostly) and he said he felt well enough to go to church. I thought he looked a little puny around the eyes, and between the fevers and the snot really needed to stay home. Plus, I didn't want to spread this thing all over church and have some kid's mother cussing me behind my back, as we all know church women are prone to do... Or is that just me? However, he told me that if he misses a service, he won't get to be in the Easter play because he has a big speaking part and the teacher said they can't miss. "Can I please go, Mom. Can I, please?" So we went. While I was there, I prayed he wouldn't snot all over other kids and get someone else sick.

Yesterday (Monday), I was the one lucky enough to play the fever game, complete with a pounding headache all day. Oh, the fun... Can you feel it?

That brings us up to this morning. I had to call the Pediatrician's office to ask what the deal is on Tuck's antibiotics. Last Monday, she said she was going to keep him on them longer this time, but he took his last dose Sunday night. So what gives? I talked to the nurse, who checked Tuck's chart, and he was supposed to get 20 days worth of antibiotics. The pharmacy gave us 6 days worth, with no refills. Nor did they give us a heads up that they were going to short us- no explanations, no nothing. The bottle also did not say "take for 20 days" on it. Hmmm. Weird. So, today we have to go pick up more meds for the T man.

It looks like I'm also going to have to call and reschedule some hospital tests Alex was supposed to have next Monday, because he's still trying to get over a never ending cold thing, and they said he cannot be sick within 7-10 days of the test because they have to put him under for it. He's really bummed about rescheduling it. He wants it during his Spring Break, so he won't have to miss school. At our H.S., if you miss one day, you have to take finals and he doesn't want that. He may not have a choice... Poor guy.

Tonight, I'm being taken out by my boyfriend. Dinner and a movie. I'm trying to push for Thai food (my FAVORITE, but definitely not his), but I don't want to push my luck since we're already seeing my pick for the movie- "The Other Boleyn Girl." ...See? There's that Henry VIII fascination I was telling you about. NERD!!!!

And this coming Saturday, I'm supposed to go meet my future daughter-in-law (my stepson's fiancee), her mother (we met only once before, briefly), and my stepson's mother (my husbands ex-wife) for a shopping trip to look at mother's dresses for the wedding. I tried to gently suggest to my son that this may not be a "comfortable" thing for all the moms involved, to have us all thrown together like that, and I would be happy to step aside and let the moms go do their thing. I thought it was nice just to be invited and included, period. However, he thinks this trip is a good idea, a good chance for everyone to bond, and still wants me to go... That's nice... (What? I didn't say anything. No, I did not make a face. I did NOT! I don't know what you're talking about. It's going to be fun. It's going to be fun. It's going to be FUN... Oh, Dear God...) Saying no more.

Here's a few pictures of the Nerd Fest from Saturday.

Evan is more interested in the cannon than in smiling for the camera.
Who is this chub and why does she always stand in front of me in pictures?
Darrell seems to like her, at least.

This was a demonstration of a field hospital. They cleared out a room in this tavern (The Elkhorn Tavern), and used a door for the operating table.The Elkhorn Tavern
Infantry demonstration

Artillery demonstration

Tucker took this picture, so he's not in it...

And Bri took this one. We all look pretty dorky here
but she was really proud of herself, so I can't let here down. Boys and their toys

All in all, a really cool day. Way more interesting and fun than it appears in the photos.
The best part was just getting out together as a family and enjoying some sunshine.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Parents' Right to Educate Children at Home is Under Attack in CA

I don't get into the daily specifics of it much here, but you guys all know I homeschool my kids. I am not a college graduate. Had I stayed in school, I would have pursued a teaching degree, but I didn't stay in school. I got married and had babies.

There are many homeschool moms exactly like me. In fact, many families around the world have realized the benefits and blessing of educating their kids themselves at home, including those without college degrees or teaching certificates. It is entirely possible to prepare a child for college and life without being a college graduate or certified teacher.

Homeschooling is not unusual, strange, or a poor substitute for a good education. Homeschooled students are growing up to become intelligent, successful individuals, who in many cases receive an education far superior to what their local school districts could have provided. For the most part, they are not backwards, unsocialized, uneducated dopes; nor are they pathetic, anti-social little geeks. They are normal kids. They are usually wonderfully intelligent, interesting people who have not been ruined or slighted in any way by receiving their educations from their oftentimes uneducated mothers and fathers. They play sports, have friends, and many go on to attend prestigious universities, join the military and get good jobs. In other words, they're just "as good" as other kids, whatever that means. Additionally, homeschooled kids routinely score above their publicly educated peers on standardized tests. In fact, many universities now wisely recruit homeschooled students for that very reason.

An education at home can also prove to be the best thing for lots of kids with special needs who would otherwise fall through the cracks. In the case of a child with special needs, there is no substitute and no college degree equal to the love and patience of a parent. No one else knows that child, and his needs, or has the capacity to care about his future more than his own parents. There is no degree for that. No college, no matter how schwanky, can teach that.

Homeschooling is often misunderstood and criticized out of ignorance. Most of its harshest critics are education snobs; people with more education than sense, who can't see past their own teaching certificates and important credentials long enough to consider the overwhelming evidence supporting the merits of home education. However, it is not a passing fad or something to be feared, frowned upon, or mocked. It works and it is here to stay. It is recognized as a viable and legal option, in some form, in all 50 states. At least it was until this past week.

A state appeals court has decided California parents without teaching credentials do not have a right to homeschool their children. The 2nd District Court of Appeals ruling could affect up to 200,000 homeschooled students in the state (CitizenLink).

This decision is not one that affects only residents of CA, or homeschoolers- it should matter to any parent who is concerned about their rights to make decisions in the best interest of their children.

You can see and sign a petition, sponsored by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, asking to have this dangerous opinion depublished here. Please consider joining over one hundred thousand other parents to make your voice heard in support of homeschooling families in California, and ultimately across the US, and add your name to the list. Thank you! I appreciate your help! More information about the petition and the case can be found below.

From the HSLDA petition website:

A California Court of Appeal recently decided that homeschooling is illegal in California unless a parent is a certified teacher. The case arose in a confidential juvenile court proceeding. The family was represented by court-appointed attorneys and HSLDA did not become aware of the case until the Court of Appeal case was published on February 28, 2008. The Court could have restricted its decision to the facts before it, but instead, it issued a broad ruling that effectively outlaws home education in California. The Court also certified its decision for publication, which means that the decision can now be cited as legal authority by all other courts in California.
The family and their California counsel are planning to appeal to the Supreme Court of California, which could result in reversal. Another option to keep homeschooling free in California is to petition the Supreme Court of California to “depublish” the opinion. If the opinion is “depublished” then it cannot be used by other California courts and this threat to homeschool freedom will be neutralized for other California homeschoolers.
HSLDA will be formally petitioning the California Supreme Court to depublish the opinion. We would like to show that many other people, both in California and across the country, care deeply about homeschool freedom in California.
Please show your support for this effort by signing the petition today.

For more information on the California case:

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Mom Funk

I haven't had much to say lately. I've been at the bottom of a deep, dark hole and can't quite seem to lift myself out of it. It's difficult to type from down here, so I've been fairly quiet. And please don't feel it's necessary to tell me you barely noticed I was gone- it will only lengthen the duration of my little pity party, which I'd rather not do since I don't like the guest list, the good food is gone, and most of the balloons have been popped. Still a few streamers up though, and I won all 5 rounds of Pin the Tail on the Donkey- so, you know... can't complain.

I don't know what my problem is... Well, I do- but it's nothing specific and it's certainly nothing interesting. Just typical mom stuff- I'm Overwhelmed. I haven't felt good for a while, the kids keep getting sick, too; the house is a wreck. The adoption is in the perpetual state of "Who Knows?" which is driving me nuts. This whole year of homeschooling has been a mess. Never have found the right groove for each kid. Someone is always waiting on me and I just want to hide under the covers.

I crave organization and structure like crack. That's my security blanket. When all is clean and in order, life is good. Everything's going to be fine. When my house is a mess, I'm a mess. Life is a mess. I want so badly to be running a home that is orderly and... I don't know. Perfect. I want my home, my life, and my Self to be perfect. I want to be June Cleaver so bad I can almost feel the pearls resting on my neck (And, Anne- if you tell me you're too young to know who June Cleaver is, I'm gonna have a fit). I am desperate to be the mom who is up at the crack of dark, fixing a healthy, hot breakfast for my family; keeping track of everyone's schedules with ease; praying over each precious baby before we all part ways for the day. I want to put in my 8 full hours of school time, lovingly, patiently, and carefully nurturing and teaching each child, and staying on top of scheduling and lesson planning, while miraculously keeping up with the laundry and managing to clean toilets, dust, sweep, mop, blah, blah, blah; I want to be able to NOT feel a tightening, painful terror grip my chest when someone comes to the door or announces they're going to "stop by" and I know my home is not fit for company, followed by the overwhelming shame as I sit and explain how my house doesn't always look this way (when in fact, yes, it does), and God forbid one of the poor kids asks to have a friend over... I want to have time to keep the bills paid and go to the store before the kids start whining that we have no food; I want to have daily time to spend with each kid doing something fun, or just talking and listening to them, so they will remember me someday for something other than the crazy lady who yelled all the time; I want to keep the dog's flippin' toenails trimmed, for Pete's sake. I want all this so much I could cry. Oh, wait... I already am crying. Most of all, I want to wake up in the morning feeling AWAKE; energetic and ready to tackle the day, instead of feeling so freakin' exhausted all the freakin' time. The tiredness makes me feel defeated before I even begin. And that's the thing. I know from the second I open my eyes in the morning that I will not accomplish even one tenth of what I'm supposed to be doing that day for my family. I begin hearing words like failure roll around in my head before I even put my feet on the floor. No matter how fast I work or hard I try, I will not get done. I know I'm rambling and I need to shut up. Because if I keep at this much longer, it will naturally beg the question, "Should you even be adopting another child, then- if you can't handle your current work load?" I have family members who already feel that way, I'm sure, so my venting is only going to confirm what they believed all along. Oh, well. Big shocker- I'm not June F. Cleaver (the F, of course, is for... anyone? Yes. "Freakin'"), and I never will be. Still love my kids and doing the best I can, but there are days when this job kicks my big fat butt.

Anyhoo... How are things with you? lol... Sorry to gripe. It's just a cruddy mood. Mom overload. This too shall pass. I will deal with it like a big girl and quit my bellyachin.' Tomorrow we are taking the kids on a field trip/family day, complete with a picnic and everything. We're going to tour a cave. So that will be a fun and much needed opportunity to get out of the house and spend time together as a family, with the added bonus for the kids of watching Claustrophobic Mommy deal with being in a cave. Oh, AND... it has bats. A guaranteed good time for all.

In the midst of this funk, I received a huge ray of sunshine in the form of this lovely little handwritten note from Miss Olivia:

Dear Mom,
I love you with all my heart
You are my very very best friend forever
With love
Your adoring Olivia

I (drawing of an eye) *heart* U!


Wow... I always wanted a BFF! I tried to scan the note so you could see how cute it really is but it didn't show up well, so you'll just have to trust me. So precious! It's the sweetest love letter I've ever gotten. If this can't lift me out of my mood, nothing can!

Dear Olivia,
I love you with all my heart, too.
You are such a precious blessing to me!
You are a beautiful person, inside and out.
I'm so happy and thankful you are my
daughter and my very, very best friend.
Forever and always, no matter what.

With love,
Your adoring Mom and BFF

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

99 Balloons

No words today. Just watch. You will be blessed.