Saturday, November 5, 2011

Month of Gratitude - Day 5

Today, I am thankful for the internet.

I know.  Some people claim that it's evil.  They don't want their children on their computers.  I understand that and acknowledge that there is danger lurking out there and that it can be used for evil, (as with ALL things).  But, there is also amazing good for which it can be used.

I can't begin to tell you the support that we received during our adoption process AND even continuing now, by people known only through the computer.  We've prayed together, cried together, shared stories with one another, shared tips and information.  The Yahoo group for our agency was one of the single most valuable sources of information to us during the entire process.  They were my go-to-girls.  Before I'd pick up a book or email our agency, I'd ask those women (and a few men).  More often than not, they had answers.  Good answers.  From people who've been there, done that.

Google is also one of my main go-to's.  I seriously sometimes think I should have been a researcher.  It can be problematic at times, but it's also incredibly helpful most of the time.  Your daughter just spilled oil-based paint on her carpet and you don't know what to do?  Google it.  Your son has some funky bumps on his arms and you don't know what they are?  Google it.  Your lab results were just posted online and your doctor hasn't called you to discuss them yet and it's Friday and you are DYING to know what XYZ is?  Google it.  (BTW, I'm sure that I drive my doctor completely insane because I am ALWAYS saying, "well, I read online that....", but, too bad.  I like to think that I'm an informed consumer of medical care and that I keep him on his toes.  He probably thinks differently.)  I also drive my husband crazy because I frequently Google his ailments and diagnose him with some serious afflications.  **think Arnold Schwarzenegger, in whatever movie that was, saying "It's NOT a tumor!".

I can track my kids grades on Edline.  I can see what they buy in the school cafeteria.  I can do my banking and pay my bills.  I can skype with people in other parts of the world or IM with my sister at midnight when everyone else is sleeping.  I'm even going to graduate school, primarily online when my kids are sleeping or at preschool!!  Come on!  It's incredible.

I've nearly forgotten how to use a dictionary, thesaurus, or phone book.  And, frankly, with a house as small as ours, I'm so happy not to have to keep those additional books in the house! 

I have done intensive, video-based Bible studies online, while my kids were napping or at preschool.  I have watched sermons when I couldn't go to church because my kids were sick and my husband plays guitar for the praise team so he has to go. 

I've stayed in touch with friends who have moved far away, and gotten back in touch with friends from high school.  I've laughed myself silly goofing around on Facebook with old friends and new. 

I've also received urgent prayer requests or cried until I was exhausted at receiving the most awful of news. 

I have friends who "aren't into computers" and I understand that, but for me, it's a God-send.  Truly.  Markos is the biggest attention-hound known to man-kind.  If I even think I'm going to pick up the phone and have a conversation with someone, I am sooooo mistaken.  But, I can sit and email at any time day or night without interruption.  OK, not really without interruption, but without the recipient having to endure the interruption with me.  :-)

Surely, the internet can be used for evil, but it can also be used for good.  And, I am grateful for it!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Month of Gratitude - Day 4

Nothing fancy.  Nothing emotionally moving.  Nothing extra special.

Today, I am thankful that my kids don't have school on Monday or Tuesday.

A four day weekend.

Sleeping in and not having to rush around to get to bus stops and preschool, which inevitably leads to me yelling at them.  Just nice peaceful mornings.

And, to go along with that, I'll add that I am also so thankful for our king-sized bed.  

I LOVE our bed.  I think I've actually talked about it in a previous post.

When Eric and I were first married, we had a full-sized bed in a bedroom which was barely big enough for the bed and 2 dressers.  So, when we did our addition, that was the only thing Eric wanted -- a room that was big enough for a king-sized bed.

Aside from the sheer comfort of it, I am glad that we have this bed because:
  • it's allowed Daniel to climb in during the night when he's sick or scared

  • there was room for Markos to sleep with us when he first arrived in America and was afraid at night

  • our puppy (who is enormous for a puppy) sleeps with us and is the biggest snuggler of a dog that you'd ever meet

  • we were able to cuddle in our bed with all 3 kids when the power was out for days and we had no heat during the Blizzard of 2010

  • we frequently all snuggle together in our bed and watch movies as a family

It's nice.  It's comfy.  It's warm.  It's safe.  

And, I get to hopefully spend a little extra time snuggled up there this coming weekend - for 2 extra days, and 1 extra hour due to the time change.  Yippee!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Month of Gratitude - Day 3

One small disclaimer before I share what I'm thankful for today:
These are in no order of importance to me, just what I'm feeling especially grateful for on that particular day. Shoo.  OK, now that you know that I'm not more grateful for this than, say, my kids!  :-)

 Pretty sure that I've complained before about the allergy issues that we have at our house.  They currently  include:

tree nuts
corn (including corn syrup!)
all beans
all shellfish

molds & mildew


Oh, and because that's not enough fun for one house, it has turned out that our new dog has significant allergies, too.  We are currently giving her prescription medication AND avoiding all chicken & beef.  Do you know how hard it is to find treats and dog food with no beef or chicken?

Anyway, on to the thankful part....

I am so thankful for the availability of specialty foods and allergy friendly products.  

For the most part, we've been able to find or make foods for Daniel so that he never feels left out of normal kid things like birthday cake, or gummy snacks, or even condiments (no small feat for a child who is allergic to corn syrup, paprika, and tomatoes!)

They may be pricey, but they're totally worth Daniel being able to not feel like he has to miss out on everything.  So, for that, I am thankful for:

Nomato Ketchup - tomato free ketchup! (also Nomato pasta sauce and Nomato BBQ sauce)

Back to Nature crackers and cookies.


Annie's Homegrown Bunny Fruit Snacks.

 And all the other the other great products with labels I've scoured and websites I've searched.  Not only have they made Daniel a happier kid, but they've made my life easier in so many ways!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Month of Gratitude - Day 2

Today, I am thankful that Markos has adjusted so well
in our family.  

 I am grateful that he celebrated his 5th birthday.  

I am grateful that he got to experience dressing up in a costume and doing fun Halloween things, and that he was here for Easter to go to church and find his basket.

I am grateful that he's mostly healthy and now has access to the medication he needs, doctors and hospitals, and CLEAN WATER!

I am grateful that despite the severe malnutrition, the numerous losses in his short little life, and being taken from his first family, culture, and country, he is just like any other little preschool boy - 
singing songs, 
making up his own words to the songs, 
making friends,
learning his ABCs, 
starting to count (up to and including "eleven-teen"), 
fighting with his siblings but also being their best friend at times.  

I am grateful that he speaks amazing English - especially for a 5 year old child on his third language, who spoke no English just 9 short months ago.   

I am grateful that he talks about God, that he prays with us, and that he is learning about Jesus.

I am grateful that he gets to attend church and school, and that he has a bed to sleep in and food to eat.

I am grateful that he is ours and we are his.

God is good.  All the time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Month of Gratitude - Day 1

A few weeks ago, fellow adoptive Mommy and blogger friend, Chrissy, issued a challenge for people to join her in celebrating a Month of Thankful Hearts, posting one thing that you are thankful for every day in the month of November either on Facebook or a blog or just in the privacy of your own home.

As Junior Asparagus said it in Veggie Tales, "A thankful heart is a happy heart.  I'm glad for what I have, that's an easy way to start."  If you don't know the song, here's a close rendition.

Anyway, I decided to join Chrissy and the others in sharing one thing that I am thankful for every day during the month of November.

So, for today, November 1st - 

I am thankful for my husband, Eric,
who makes me laugh all.the.time.  

Seriously, he's one of the funniest guys I know.  
Others might not agree, but he and I both appreciate one anothers' sense of humor.  
We "get" each other.  
So, it's probably good that we're married.  ;-)

Notice his t-shirt:  "Metro-Gnome"
Some people collect trinkets .  He collects t-shirts.  Seriously.  
It's a problem.

One of his newest
I'm willing to (mostly) overlook the never-ending purchasing of new t-shirts because:

He gives a phenomenal massage.  So good, that I bought him a massage chair for our anniversary.  
I know.  I'm thoughtful like that.

He used to be is a great athlete.  However, I now prefer that he stick to helping the kids and coaching their teams.  It results in more infrequent injuries, fewer doctor's bills, less physical therapy....

B.P. Youth Lacrosse Coaches - Gr. 1 - 4

He can build just about anything, provided you don't need it in a hurry.  :-)

The two-story Shed
He teaches the boys about guns, bugs, electronics, snakes, and all things boy or gross (or both)...

He's always up for some "friendly" competition.

He is THE Tickle Monster!

He helps Kenzie (and some day, Markos & Daniel) with their advanced math & science projects.

He fixes all things (that he doesn't have a desire to buy new!).

He loves a good game - be it board or computer!

He strings the lights on the tree and on the house - usually on the coldest day of the year.

And he plays hard.  It may hurt him, but it usually makes the rest of us laugh.

A cheerful heart is good medicine...
Proverbs 17:22

Artists at Work

Eric and the kids finally carved the pumpkins on Sunday.  The kids drew their design on paper and then passed it off to Dad who was supposed to be able to work miracles.  ;-)  He actually did a pretty good job, aside from refusing to even attempt a few of Mackenzie's creations without a carving kit.  (Mental note: Must buy carving kit for next year.)

Eric doing the dad thing, and keeping me away from sharp knives
Markos was excited to pull the goo out of his pumpkin.

Markos scooping out his first pumpkin
Even the "brain", as Daniel calls it -- that last big gob that is attached to the bottom of the pumpkin and tends to come out in one giant clump.

Markos with "the brain"

Daniel has come a long way from being that kid who would cry if he was forced to touch something that didn't "feel" right to him.

Daniel scooping out his pumpkin
He also took delight in removing "the brain".

Daniel with "the brain"
Daniel's design.  (don't ask about the star.  We have NO idea.)

Daniel's pumpkin

Markos' design.  He wanted his pumpkin to "have a happy face" and a "nose like us".  This is about as good as it gets.

Markos' pumpkin
The boys with their creations before we put candles inside.

The boys with their masterpieces
OOOOhhhh.  Spooky.....and happy. 

Mackenzie wanted her pumpkin "to be different".  And apparently funny too.  She got the green "heirloom pumpkin", which was unbelievably thick and smelled like cantelope.  (weird, but pretty).  Eric refused to attempt to carve the "C" and "U", even though Kenzie suggested that he could do it if he used a drill with a tiny bit and made a series of holes in the pumpkin.  He said SHE could use a drill and make a series of holes in the pumpkin.  She opted for a Sharpee instead.  She's a smart girl.

Mackenzie's pumpkin

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pre-Halloween Festivities

Several weeks ago, during a Target trip, Markos and I purchased his Halloween costume.  He wanted to be a cowboy.  He frequently became confused after we purchased it and called himself a "cow" though.  He then spent the next few weeks driving me completely insane, asking if he could wear his costume, when Halloween was, when we were going trick-or-treating....followed by the demanding question, "well, WHEN IS Halloween?"  Unfortunately, no matter what answer was given -- in 3 weeks, October 31st, in 2 weeks, after your school party -- he has no concept of time, so he was as annoyed as I was waiting for the day to arrive that he could wear that cowboy costume somewhere.

Finally, on Thursday, a friend invited us to join her and her kids to go to the trick-or-treating at Southwestern Nursing Home.  Markos was so excited to finally get to wear his costume.  And I was so excited for him to stop asking me when he got to wear it trick-or-treating.

Markos the Cowboy

When Markos and I were at Target weeks ago, I also saw this large display of Angry Birds' costumes.  I chuckled and thought to myself, "I should get that for Daniel.  I bet he'd love it."  Then, I idiotically talked myself out of it and thought, "Oh, I should bring him back with me so he can pick out his own costume."    Then, I went home and told Daniel about it and he was all excited and said, "OH YES!!  That's what I want to be!"

However, when he and I finally made it back to Target a few weeks later, all Angry Birds costumes for kids were completely sold out.  I checked a few other stores.  They were also sold out.  I looked online - sold out.   I hopped on eBay just out of curiosity and saw that people were bidding over $120 for the same costume that I had seen at Target just a few weeks earlier for $15!!!  (At this point, let me just add that PEOPLE ARE OUT OF THEIR MINDS!!!!)  Anyway, it was at that time that I informed Daniel that he could forget being an Angry Bird because it wasn't going to happen.  So, he chose the nice Ninja costume at Target instead.  And because Daniel has to be Mr. Creative with everything he does, he made a little Ninja "costume" for his stuffed Penguin so he could join us at all the Halloween activities. 

Daniel the Ninja & Pengy the Ninja
Cutest conversation EVER as we prepared to go to the nursing home for Markos' first-ever trick-or-treating experience:
Me:  "OK, now, Markos, do you remember what you say when you go to get candy?"
Markos:  "Please"
Me:  "ok, that's good.  Yes, you do say please, but I mean when you  go up to someone for trick-or-treating and get candy."
Markos:  "Thank you"
Me: "ok, yes, that's good, too.  But, I mean when you go up to someone and you want them to give you the candy for Halloween...."
Markos:  "TRICK OR TREAT!"

The trick-or-treating was great.  The residents at the nursing home got the biggest kick out of all the kids in their costumes and of course, the kids loved getting all that candy!

When we first started, I thought it was going to be an ugly scene because at the first 3 or 4 places we stopped for treats, Markos' deep seated need to have EVERYTHING be exactly equal and "fair" reared it's ugly head. The boys would approach a nice man at his door.   The man would give Markos a Kit Kat; then he'd give Daniel a Hershey's Bar and Markos would flip.  "HEY!  that's not fair!  I got this and Daniel got that..."

Trust me, if you do not have an adopted child from an orphanage, I doubt you can understand this obsession of his.  You can't reason with him about it.  (believe me, we've tried.)  You can't ignore him because he will NOT tolerate that.  It's completely, totally annoying and aggravating as a parent.  (BTW, any adoptive parents who have been home for longer than 9 months, please feel free to comment and assure me that this WILL eventually stop!!!  Please!....)

Anyway, he did this several times and I immediately started thinking, "oh, this isn't going to go well.  I'm going to have to take him out of here and let Daniel finish with Chelle' and her kids."  But, thankfully, once we got going and he started to get into it, he stopped paying attention to what Daniel was getting and if he was getting the exact same thing every time (thank goodness!!!) and he started to enjoy it.  Until his bag started getting too heavy.  [First world pains:  This giant bag full of candy that I did nothing to earn is SO heavy to carry while I walk around being given even more candy!!]  He did well though, and really did say "trick or treat" and "thank you" to every person who gave him candy.

Markos' first trick-or-treating experience
As if that weren't enough pre-Halloween excitement, Markos also had his party at preschool on Friday.  The kids all wore their costumes and had their little "parade" through the halls, along with some of the kids from the daycare.

Then Mrs. Lucarelli (or, as Markos pronounces it, "Mick-a-relli") had all the kids gather together so parents could take group pictures before we scooted out of there to enjoy what was left of our 2.5 hours free from kiddos!

So happy and excited!

"Everybody look here!"  "OK, good."
Friday evening, we went to a little trunk-or-treat party at Markos' preschool, but we got there late and missed the majority of it.  But, the kids had fun making a few crafts and playing some games while Chelle' and I colored.  :-)

This morning, we woke to snow.  Yes, snow on October 28th.  Markos has been asking about snow for weeks.  He wants snow so badly!  We have been trying to explain the seasons to him and keep telling him that, no, it's only Fall and it usually snows in winter, that he'll have to wait a little longer.  So, when he woke me up at the crack of dawn, after I had just stumbled back into bed after Lily woke me up to go outside and pee, I picked him up in our room and showed him the snow out the window.  He yelled, "SNOW!!!".  I whispered, "I know!  Are you surprised?"   And, he asked, "Fall all done?!"  (this poor boy is going to be so confused by the time we get done with him!)   

The last Saturday of the month, we try to make it to an Ethiopian Adoption playgroup that meets at Tana, one of the Ethiopian restaurants in Pittsburgh.  Today, we went and the kids wore their costumes for a little Halloween party lunch.  They colored Halloween pictures and played with toys in the back corner, where Seifu (the owner of the restaurant) puts a carpet out for the kids to play when the group comes.  He is an awesome guy, who loves all of our kiddos from Ethiopia.  If you've not eaten there, you should definitely go!  It's delicious!

Markos loves when we go there and he can chow down some Ethiopian food.  I mean, really, what cowboy DOESN'T love injera and shiro wat?!  ;-)  (Actually, we did have to take his costume top off of him when he ate because the cowboy fringe on the sleeves proved to be not very conducive to eating ET food!)  And just to gross everyone out, the kids got some candy when they were finished eating, and, at one point, Markos was eating Razzles (the candy that turns into gum), while dipping his finger in his leftover Shiro Wat and licking it off.  Yum!  Nothing goes with Razzles quite like Shiro Wat! 

Tomorrow, we have nothing planned except going to church, so all pre-Halloween festivities are now complete -- aside from eating the ginormous bowl of candy and huge bowl of salty chips and such that now sit on the counter to make room for the additional ridiculous amounts of candy and chips that the kids will receive on Monday night.

Anyone know of any organizations that are doing that "send your candy to the troops" thing this year?!