Scoring Major Mommy Points

I am now the proud owner of my very own Webkinz pet, an adorable barred owl whom I named Oren. Jeremy was so impressed with me when I presented Oren that he actually said, “That’s so cool, Mom!” We introduced Oren to Webkinz World over the weekend so he could get to know the virtual Ashley, Sky Blue, Phillip, Cozmo and Sarah.

I’ll set up his treetop room tonight after the boys go to bed. Whenever we get online, they hardly ever let me have a turn!

Thus Begins Birthday Week

Jeremy turns seven on Wednesday, which is something he’s reminded me off no less than three times a day for the last two weeks. So just in case you didn’t know, Jeremy turns seven on Wednesday, and according to him, that means he’s almost 10 and that means he’ll be able to drive soon.

Did you hear that Jeremy turns seven on Wednesday? There, that should be enough.

I’m carrying on a tradition started by Chuck’s mother – the hanging of a Happy Birthday banner during the entire week of a birthday. However, to put my own spin on it and not use something pre-made, I decided to make a flag banner out of retro-inspired fabrics I found in a half-price bin at Hobby Lobby. It was love at first sight.

For some strange reason, I sent my sewing machine and other materials to storage, so I had literally nothing with which to make the birthday banner. Naturally, that didn’t stop me. I freehanded the shapes and cut the fabric on a whim, then hot-glue gunned it all together on white yarn I found stuffed in the boys’ craft cabinet. The whole process took about an hour and I’m pretty satisfied with the result.

I’ll probably redo the banner later or at least trim it with white thread when I have access to my sewing machine again. I’ll also make Jeremy a name banner like I did for Jackson in June, but I may not get to that until tonight or tomorrow. I’m swamped with freelance work, which means my Labor Day is going to be quite laborious.

Lucky Charm

I took this photo last night during Jeremy’s flag football practice. It was too poetic not to capture – the team huddling at a rainbow’s end. Jackson especially loved seeing a real live rainbow, and I hoped it was a magical sign for a good flag football season.

Things I’ve Noticed

  • When I woke up the last three mornings, I’ve forgotten that I don’t have to let Hank outside.
  • Telling Jeremy to feed Hank is something I have to make myself not do.
  • There is still dog hair along the edge of the couch against where he used to lay.
  • I’ve looked at the photos of Hank in my phone no less than four times per day since Friday afternoon.
  • Other disappointments bring me to tears when they normally wouldn’t, and I’m well aware that it’s because I’m grieving.

All of this may seem silly to some of you, but it makes no matter to me. I miss my dog and I suppose I will miss him for a great deal longer.

I went back to work today with much on my plate – stories to write, ideas to brainstorm and tasks to mark off on my very long to-do list. Originally I thought all of these things would serve as a great distraction from the loss of Hank and my sore back but it was quite the opposite. I hope tomorrow will be different.

The boys are carrying on as usual. Only one time did Jeremy approach me at a time when I was quiet and asked, “Do you miss Hank?”

“Yes, very much,” I replied.

“Me, too.”

And that was that.

The sutures in my back are itchy and the area is tender but I am otherwise recovering nicely. The incision is about an inch long, and aside from the six shots required to numb the area around my shoulder blade, the only thing that bothered me about the procedure was the sound of the doctor cutting away my skin. It was as if he used kitchen scissors, the bulky kind you would use to cut away fat from the edge of a pork chop. It was at this point that I turned on my iPod and blared loud music. I couldn’t bear to hear him snip me like a piece of meat. I get the stitches removed a week from tomorrow.

In other very benign news, I have become a huge fan of Mrs. Meyer’s All-Purpose Cleaner, specifically the Basil scented kind. Mopping my floors and wiping down counters has never smelled so divine. Just overlook the price.

Stupid Frogs and their Stupid Lack of Fear

Before it got too hot today, I made a point to mow the lawn. The benefit of having a very small lot in the BIG STATE of Texas is that mowing takes about half an hour at best. That’s minus the trim work and fancy stuff I don’t care to do to make my yard the best on the block. I’ll let the neighbor sweat over that crap.

If I haven’t mentioned our frogs before, let me introduce you. Reader, meet our stupid frogs and their stupid lack of fear. Frogs, welcome to the internet.

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Girls Weekend, July 2010

I’ll eventually get around to posting more about my weekend in Philadelphia, just like I’ll eventually get around to cleaning out my dresser and organizing the five containers of loose photos stashed in the guest room closet. Eventually.

You all know that Girls Weekend is sacred to us, so I don’t have to begin by explaining our 12-year friendship or our decade of three-day weekends spent talking, eating and soaking up every second of each others lives. Susan and Lesli are a part of my extended family and I think about them and miss them nearly every day.

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This is my dog on drugs.

I’ve been itching to run since returning from Philly, but due to returning so late on Monday and staying out late last night, I postponed a run until today. Again, I got home late from work, so I didn’t lace up my running shoes until nearly 6:30 p.m.

Upon filling my water bottle to jump on the treadmill, Hank and Salem gathered at my feet. Rather, Salem sat at my feet and Hank paced in the background. I could tell my sweet, aging dog had some energy to expend, so I decided to treat him to a quick warm-up run down to the mailbox at the end of our cul-de-sac.

Continue reading “This is my dog on drugs.”

A Bad Case of Nostalgia

Today was a rough, and at one point I needed to retreat to the bathroom for solace. It was a day of missing people, feeling stretched thin and wondering when the relief will come. When I finally decided to sit down and breathe very slowly, I saw that The Karate Kid was on HBO. With that, I pulled a blanket over me, Salem hopped on my lap and the boys each found a spot to lay.  It was an open invitation for nostalgia.

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The Great Wolf Lodge

I’m slow on picture editing from our Great Wolf Lodge weekend but I have my reasons. They mostly revolve around some form of procrastination, but I’ll just say that I’ve been playing catch-up on the book and trying to reestablish myself as a runner. Plus, I have a lot on the DVR.

Because I knew editing would be delayed, I didn’t take as many photos as I normally would, and that means I’m uploading even fewer. I’m sorry to say there are no pictures of me in a bathing suit. I’m sure my sister has some, BUT SHE KNOWS BETTER.

Whirlwind Weekend

In what seemed like three seconds, we spent three days with Becky and her family at the Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City. It’s a favorite little spot to meet because it takes each family about eight hours to get there and it’s hours of fun in a bathing suit. We’re all a little sunburned and worn out from the water slides, but I tell you this – every second of that long drive, every dollar over-spent, and every sting of our sunburn is worth it. It’s been one solid year since our four boys played together, so you can image the amount of photos we took.

There are more to come, but here’s one from Monday night at the White Sox/Royals game. Obviously, I was a White Sox fan by proxy, as were my boys. We sat next to five other White Sox fans, so when the whole stadium booed, we were the 13 who cheered. The White Sox lost, but hey – the margaritas were good!

And just like that, she’s gone.

What began as a long two-week stay in Amarillo for Mom ended up flying by in a flash, especially the last few days. She was a great help with the boys, and while it had to have been overwhelming at times, I know she tucked away handfuls of memories to dwell on in the months we’re apart.

There are many photos to sort through, but here is one of us at the Palo Duro Canyon, taken on one of the few times I got out of the car.

Default: HGTV

On the nights I’m not working on the book, which are more often than none since Mom’s been here, she and I just lounge in the living room watching HGTV and sipping wine. Now don’t get me wrong – I enjoy HGTV, especially episodes of House Hunters (and more bitterly, House Hunters International) when it’s all a game of WHICH ONE WILL THEY CHOOSE!?! I like Genevieve and Vern and Candance and all those other fabulous people, but there are certainly other things I like to watch.

So when Mom said last night, “I hope I’m not keeping you from watching other things you like to watch,” my brain immediately went to all the shows I will not watch with her in the room, specifically Sex and the City. I just laughed and told her it was okay, that I DO watch HGTV and Food Network a lot, but that I absolutely was NOT going to flip on my beloved reruns of SATC while she’s here. There’s all that… kissing. And then there’s Samantha.

She giggled and said it was okay to watch whatever I wanted, but honestly, I was fine. The new season of Dexter hasn’t started yet and The Tudors is on its way out (last episode of the series on Sunday – rest in peace, King Henry). Big Love isn’t in rotation again yet, and Top Chef was on the night before. So, I’m good. I’ll watch 18 hours of HGTV with Mom because I cannot go THERE with her and Sex and the City. Because she’s still my mother, and I’m still 16, and I don’t know anything about anything and all that is stuff is icky.

Plus, since my boys are adopted, there’s no human PROOF that I know anything about anything and I’d like to keep it that way.

In other mom-related news, she courageously had a few bites of my shrimp tempura rolls the other day, so I’m going to take her to a full-on sushi bar before she leaves. And I WILL take pictures.

Good Morning, Mommy. I’m four.

There was truly no better way to start the day. Upon waking the boys up at 8 a.m., Jackson rubbed his eyes, sat up in bed and announced his age. I teared up immediately because I cannot believe this child went from newborn to FOUR in just days.

You mothers know what I mean. One minute we’re changing cloth diapers, pureeing baby food and counting the hours until the next feeding. Now I’m breaking up fights, teaching table manners and watching my language. HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Continue reading “Good Morning, Mommy. I’m four.”

Preparations for Four

My youngest turns four years old tomorrow, and while he and I snuggled tonight I thought back to the first time I saw him through the window of the hospital nursery. He was only hours old, wrapped in a newborn blanket with a cap. I wasn’t allowed to touch him yet, but I knew he was all mine. I quick-sketched his name on a blank sheet of copy paper and added an “I love you,” and the on-duty nurse affixed it to his bed. It would be one full night before I could hold him, but I wanted him to know he was already taken.

Preparations were made tonight to make tomorrow special for Jack, so stay tuned for birthday photos.

Hyde Memorial State Park

We had not been camping since 2004, when Jeremy was a mere 18 months old and Jackson wasn’t even a thought yet. And to say we went camping in 2004 is even a stretch. We packed up our things for a week, grabbed the dog and the toddler and drove to Pipestem, West Virginia, a place my parents used to take my sister and I as kids. However, I wasn’t able to relive the nostalgia because thunderstorms rolled in, and after one full day and one long night of raining, we packed up camp and headed to my grandmother’s house. We haven’t camped since.

Mountains above Santa Fe

Hyde Memorial is about seven miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, nestled below a ski resort among the beautiful aspen trees. It isn’t until you head up the mountain that you realize how dense the woods are and how secluded you are from the city, which is exactly what we all needed.

Because it was Jackson’s first camping trip, there were a few concerns I had for him, namely sleeping in a tent, hanging around a fire, general issues of having no fear, etc. Fortunately, the only misfortunes we suffered were the usual – boys not sharing, pushing and tattling, and being Mommy’s shadow. All non-camping related, naturally!

Fire sitting My favorite three boys Playing army guys Sweet brothers May 2010 Throwing rocks

Camping was just what I hoped it would be, minus the golf balls in my throat (that finally shrunk to jelly beans by Day 3), and the drastic drop in overnight temperatures that drove Chuck to the store at 3 a.m. for extra blankets. As an added bonus, I got to blow a bunch of money shop at Whole Foods on Saturday. Overall, the weekend was lovely.

Hyde Campsite

Hank at Hyde Memorial

The One Day Blizzard

I’ll make this brief because I’m tired and have no business blogging at 10:30 at night. Honestly, I should be fighting my insomnia by now.

Anyway, I’ll start the Blizzard post with a picture of Jackson on Friday. He had a fever and didn’t part with Uniqua for about 36 hours. (She is the pink blob underneath his bottom in the picture.)

fever jack
This was taken when the blizzard first got going. Keep in mind that it was 65 degrees the day before.

Jeremy and Chuck in the blizzard
Since Chuck was deprived of igloo-building as a child, he fulfilled a lifelong fantasy and built one on Friday.

working on the igloo

beginning of the igloo

almost done with the igloo

Jake the Roomie helped because it wouldn’t be fitting for any adult male to not take part in building an igloo. This kind of endeavor takes man-skills (and a Rubbermaid lid).

the older boys finish the igloo

The igloo building continued after the little boys went to bed. (Perfection takes time.)

igloo into the night

He was happy. Covered in snow, but happy.
finished igloo
Jeremy was happy, too, to wake up Saturday morning and see the finished igloo in the front yard. Since the temperature rose to nearly 45 degrees that day, playing outside was more enjoyable.

jeremy in the igloo

side of the house

By Sunday, the temperature was back in the 60s and there was little snow to play with. All the neighborhood kids were out enjoying every last bit, including Chuck and Jake, who impaled the small children with snowballs.

snowball fight

boy in shorts

And finally, here is Jeremy in his father’s old Superman pajamas. We were nice and let him wear the cape to bed.


Now I’m going to bed.

My October Surprise

Friday started out ordinary. Jeremy didn’t have school because of Parent/Teacher conferences, so he tagged along with me to Jackson’s speech therapy. The three of us ate lunch together like we used to and piddled around the apartment waiting for Halloween night. I baked all day while the boys played and took late naps. By 5 p.m., I took Obi Wan Kenobi and Superman to visit my in-laws and by 6 p.m. we were headed to Karin’s house for the Halloween party.

Obi Wan Kenobi 08

Superman 08

Along the way, I sent Chuck this text message: Wish u were here.

His reply via video message: Funny you should mention that. I’m in Little Rock right now and I’ll see you tonight.

Continue reading “My October Surprise”

Column: Miracle makes a family of four

You lucky ducks get to read this Sunday’s column right here, right now, before the rest of the city gets a chance. Don’t you feel special?

Miracle makes a family of four

When I was preparing for my previous column six weeks ago, I had no idea that by the time it ran on Sunday morning my life would be changing forever. Again.

On that early morning in June, our second son, Jackson, was born. We had no knowledge of his existence until a few short hours prior to his arrival. His birth into our family is nothing short of a miracle.

There is very little predictability in adoption. With the adoption of our first son, we had about four weeks to prepare. We found his birth mom through a friend and met with her and her entire family. Everyone was supportive and encouraging. This baby was who I longed and prayed for. Jeremy’s adoption was flawless. The fact that God gave us a miracle was more than I could fathom.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t believe God would do it again.

And to be perfectly blunt, I thought I could do it on my own.

Last fall, I told my pastor about my struggle to believe a another miracle could happen. When I informed him we’d be signing up with an agency to adopt a second child, he quickly asked me why. I gave him run-around excuses, something about adoption being a long process and wanting to get on a list.

“But why not go for another private adoption?” he asked. I gave him more excuses, but this time, he called me on it.

“Don’t you believe God will give you another child the way He did with Jeremy?” he asked.

“No,” I responded with certainty. “I know He could, but I don’t think He will. It’s just not logical. Two miracles in one family? I don’t see it.”

He disagreed with me, but didn’t push. I left his office in tears, struggling to hold my head up. Weeks went on and we started the adoption process with an agency. We barely got to the formal application before backing out. It didn’t feel right for us and we couldn’t move forward. Our file was closed and baby No. 2 seemed more out of reach than ever.

Fast forward to the Saturday night before Jackson was born. We had dinner plans with another couple who were considering adoption and they wanted to get the inside scoop. I was happy to meet with them, though I knew my heart was still dealing with bitterness and confusion. I wanted a second child and felt like we had no where to go. How in the world I could inspire someone else was beyond me. Nevertheless, we met at the restaurant and eventually ended up back at our house to continue the conversation.

We shared our story about Jeremy’s private adoption, how quickly it all surfaced and how were there for his birth. We told them how much prayer and faith adoption required, and certainly, how unpredictable it can be. You just never know, we said. There’s no real way to prepare, we told them.

I received a phone call during their visit, but I let the voicemail pick it up.

They left around 9:30 p.m. and I went upstairs to get ready for bed. All the adoption talk left me thinking about another child. I longed for another boy, and I wanted our second adoption to mimic the first – private, comfortable, and through someone we knew and trusted. Before turning down the bed, I remembered the phone call. I went downstairs to check my voicemail and nearly dropped the phone as I listened.

“There’s a woman in labor,” I told Chuck, who was sitting on the couch. His face went blank.

“What?” he asked, as if I had spoken in Greek.

“Yes, there’s a woman in labor and wants to place the child for adoption! Is this really happening?” My hands were shaking and my heart beat heavy in my chest. I returned my friend’s phone call and got more information. In a matter of minutes, we got our neighbor down to stay with Jeremy and were out the door to the hospital. We had no guarantee that this baby was ours, but we were surely going to find out.

Four hours later, we returned home still unsure about what lay ahead. We met with the birth family, making them aware of our desire for another child, and left it in their hands. Neither of us slept. Every second was longer than the last. By mid-morning, we had lawyers on the phone. By early evening, we were able to view the baby through the nursery window. By Monday morning, we were awarded temporary custody and were able to hold him. Now we are awaiting a court date to make it final.

In a matter of about 36 hours, we became the parents of another beautiful blue-eyed baby boy.

Jackson is not just a second child for us. He is what my heart desired, even when I struggled to believe. He’s proof that God really does perform two miracles in one family.

Now I wonder if He’ll do three.