Sunday, December 21, 2008

Be careful what you wish for

Okay, so I know in my previous post I was beyond thrilled at the idea of snow... but that was before we got completely buried under it. I spent a good two hours shoveling on Friday (luckily now the dh is home to pick up the slack) and can barely see the street over the mountain of snow in our yard. Seriously. It was a bit too cold & windy on Friday for the boy to have much fun - he insisted on shoveling with his gloves off & kept falling into the deep snow pits that were already up to his waist (I am thinking at this point he could get completely buried). I had to banish him to the house while I finished shoveling & he kept staring at me through the front window with a flashlight up to his face (he uses the flashlight to detect and scare away monsters). I grunted away, hefting the heavy snow from the bottom of the driveway while my neighbors made easy work with their snow blowers. Apparently I was not quite damsel-in-distress enough to require assistance.
We had a break in the snow Saturday & headed out for some sledding. Paul braved the hill several times alone & only face-planted once. Now we are back to blizzard-like conditions. Sigh. & are due to appear at a family party once Paul wakes up. Can't disappoint the boy (Santa will be there) or Grandma. Sigh. Hopefully we will make it there & back in one piece.

Friday, December 19, 2008

SNOW DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is 7:00 in the morning & I just found out that we are having a snow day. Wooo-hooo! Not a flake has fallen from the sky - but it is supposed to be a doozy of a storm today, so I am happy to stay home and watch it from the window instead of being stuck on the highway trying to get home from school. Hopefully CJ will make it back okay this evening (his job is about 20 minutes away). I am excited to finally get Paul out in the snow to actually play in it. Up till now we have had several mild snowfalls (1-3 inches) that melted quickly. What kind of winter is that!?!? We did take him sledding one day, but the temperature was in the teens so we only stayed about 10 minutes. And even then you could see the grass poking up through the snow. Sad. One of my fondest childhood winter memories is taking our sleds to the school parking lot across the street. The snowplows would push the snow into these massive piles and we would sled down the truck-made hills for hours. The best was when you would hit the section at the bottom and go flying down onto the pavement. Good times.
For now, I need to wait for the almost-winter-solstice-darkness to end before we can do anything fun. Oh, and for some snow to fall. heehee.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas card rejects

It took thirty shots to get a good picture of Paul for the Christmas card. Thank goodness for digital cameras!! Here are some of the rejects that are classic Paul.

Distracted









"NO!"









"CHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESE"









"Mommy, why don't we sing instead. Head, shoulders..."








The Scream









The Goofball

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Christmas Top Ten

10. Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas ("Lookit the birds up in the trees" "We're not birds, we're a jug band!")
9. Turning used wrapping paper rolls into do-duh-do's
8. Busting out the Christmas Cd's
7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas ("It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!)
6. Ben the gargoyle in his Santa hat & scarf
5. Reflecting on years past via Christmas ornaments
4. Watching Heath make a mad dash for the tree skirt
3. Speculaas (traditional Dutch cookies... spicy!)
2. Candlelight service on Christmas Eve
1. Helping Paul create his top ten list (so far his favorite thing was hanging candy canes on the tree... he had to go get a chair to reach "way way up there")

Sunday, November 30, 2008

From one holiday to the next

Thanksgiving weekend is drawing to a close and the annual event of getting the house ready for Christmas has begun. CJ finally has his wish - a house with a window facing the street where we can display our tree. He even bought blinking lights this year!! (Technically they are "twinkling" but I'm looking at them right now & they look pretty blinky to me!) For those who do not know, I was raised in a family where the tree had multi-colored, multi-design, blinking lights. Any ornaments we made were proudly displayed, even the really bad ones. CJ's childhood tree? Non-blinking white lights, red bows and silver tinsel. Guess who won the Christmas tree design war? Hmmm... not me. Alas, now that the handmade ornaments are going to start coming, I have petitioned for my own tree. After the holiday we plan to purchase a second tree, and I have been preparing for next Christmas, when I will hang the most obnoxious lights I can find.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Paul's Greatest Hits

video

"Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"

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"ABC"

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"Itsy Bitsy Spider"

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Happpy KTA day!

Okay, I have decided (for now anyway) that the best way to describe today is to call it "Korea to America" or KTA day. Honestly, traveling is about all Paul did on November 8, 2006. He arrived in NYC at around 11:30 at night. We didn't arrive home until sometime after 4:00 am, making it technically November 9. And as I have stated previously, his official family status did not occur until the following October. (Although as far as I am concerned he was my son the moment that I saw his referral photo with his pouty little lips & punk rocker hair, but that's a totally different issue.)Here is my adorable little boy the morning after he came home. Honestly, could he be any cuter?

Here's Paul in 2007. It was a school day, so I wasn't able to snap a photo until he was getting ready for bed.

And here he is this morning. We have decided to celebrate by watching flaming onion volcanoes at a local Japanese hibachi restaurant. Onions are Paul's current favorite vegetable (no lie) - so it should be fun.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A rose by any other name

November 8th is quickly approaching. It is an ordinary day for most folks but a rather significant day for the van family because it marks the anniversary of when we went from two members to three. This particular day of celebration is called a variety of things in the adoption community, and I am struggling with what to use for our family. Here are some popular choices along with my views:

  • "Gotcha Day" Okay, this one is pretty cute and all, but it seems a little, well, like we snatched our child out of a dark alley in the middle of the night. Yes, he did appear as if we had snatched him that first night we met - that look of "how dare you take me away from the only family I've known, send me on a ridiculously long plane trip and hand me over to these strange smelling people!!!" But when I think about that meeting, I try to forget that look. I try to forget the five hour drive home during which he screamed inconsolably. I try to remember instead the feeling of WOW. MOTHERHOOD. MY SON. Gotcha Day just doesn't seem to cover that.
  • "Family Day" I like this one a lot because we did indeed become a family that night, although he was not legally a van until the following October. My problem, however, is twofold. I feel that CJ & I became a family the day we got married, and when we add #4 to the mix, what will we call his/her day? Hmmmm...
  • "Adoption Day" Technically October 13th, not November 8th.
  • "Homecoming" or "Coming Home Day" I don't know, Homecoming sounds too much like there should be a football game and a king and queen. And honestly, I'm sure Paul did not feel like he was heading "home" at the time.
  • "Arrival Day" Accurate and doesn't hold any negative connotations, but not a whole lot of emotional bang to it.

I am open to thoughts/suggestions from any one out there with an opinion on the matter. Being the procrastinator that I am, I also need ideas for how to celebrate. Last year we took Paul out to dinner at the Olive Garden. He was miserable because he was coming down with a cold. Two days later we ended up in the ER after he had a febrile seizure. Hoping this year has a bit less drama.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ahoy Mates!

Paul had a wonderful second Halloween. He dressed as a pirate (of course) and enjoyed two consecutive nights of trick-or-treating. Thursday night we went to the mall, and Friday night CJ took him around the neighborhood. Mom held down the fort, giving out candy and scaring small children with our spooky lights. They play the Mike Myers theme (very loudly) and are motion sensored, so when unsuspecting children knocked on the door they were surprised and often slightly mortified. The first two little girls ran screaming down the sidewalk. It was classic. Here are this year's pumpkins. Paul designed the one on the far right, CJ designed/carved the one with the eight million teeth, I did the one with the bloodshot eyes & the cat was one of those cut-out designs. It was a group effort - I poked all the tiny holes & CJ did the carving.

The full collection of halloween pictures will be posted in our snapfish album.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

171-H!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

IT'S HERE!!!!!!!!!!! For those of you just checking in, the 171-H is the "golden ticket" of the adoption world and it means that the lovely folks at US immigration have deemed us fit to be parents. That's a darn good thing considering we've been parents since late '06. Alas, we are done waiting and can now officially begin WAITING.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The most wonderful time of the year

Our pumpkin patch hopping has begun! We started by purchasing our house pumpkins (not to be confused with house elves) on Saturday. Typically we carve three pumpkins, but CJ decided he wanted four this year. And well, if we get four we might as well get five. And well, it was buy five get the sixth free, so we might as well get six. The last two are small and will probably not get carved, and I have to admit that the pumpkins do look cute on the front porch in two groups of three. Paul immediately tried to lift the largest pumpkin he could find and made quite the face during his effort. Unfortunately I was not quick enough to capture it on film and my little problem solver quickly figured out that A.) It was much easier to roll the desired pumpkin toward the wagon and B.) The smaller pumpkins are easier to lift. And hey mom, look at me lifting two pumpkins. So there!

On Sunday we headed out to a pumpkin patch/amusement park where we met up with Kim & her brood. The boys enjoyed jumping over hay bales and riding the ridiculously fast slides in the playground. We tried to capture them on film posing in the pumpkin teepee, but this is the best I could get. Imagine - four boys five years old and under not wanting to sit still. Hmmmm.
The festivities continue this weekend and will include a hayride at the zoo and murder mystery event for mom & dad. Hopefully it will not snow. AH!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I (heart) Fall

The leaves are rapidly falling in our backyard, and we spent some time raking this weekend. Paul enjoyed "un-raking" and jumping into the piles. It took some convincing, but CJ agreed to make one big pile out of the smaller ones (he usually just goes around & collects the small piles onto a large tarp) so that Paul could get the most from his jump. I got some great shots & managed to capture the run & jump on video.



video

*** Disclaimer: Paul chose to start that far back - he would have gone even further back if I didn't tell him to turn around. Makes for a nice Monty Python reference though. (grin)

I have another video of him counting down to the big run, but I'm having trouble uploading it. Instead, here's a pic of him in the pile of leaves.




Monday, October 13, 2008

Happiness is...

...Daniel Radcliffe.... live on stage... in the flesh... all of it!!!
As an early birthday present, CJ got us tickets to see Equus on Broadway. We decided to go this past weekend so that we could have today to recover from the trip. Luckily we were able to stay with CJ's relatives in New Jersey and spent most of the day in NYC (sung like Daddy Warbucks: NNN!! YYY!!! CCCCCCCCC!!!). The weather was amazing & we spent some time walking around Ground Zero, lounging on a bench in Battery Park & shopping for Paul on 5th Ave. (He spent the weekend with Grandma van.) Then it was off to Broadway for an incredible show. Seriously. I'm not just saying that because it was Daniel Radcliffe, although that certainly helped. He without a doubt proved that he can be more than Harry Potter. I read Equus in high school and have wanted to see it performed live ever since. I was not disappointed.
As we left the theater, a large crowd quickly gathered in hopes of catching a glimpse of HARRY POTTER. We crossed the street to try and get around everyone and I remarked to CJ, "We don't need to stick around for this. We just saw him completely naked." (OK, so I used a more colorful word there, but I thought I'd keep this PG.)
Anyone out there in the blog reading world that plans to be in (sing it) NNNNYYYYYCCCCCC, I highly recommend Equus. A fantastic show.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The struggle for independence

Besides "NO!" Paul's current favorite saying is "All by self." In the morning he insists on dressing himself, which is great except for the fact that he typically puts both feet into the same pant leg and if he manages to get the shirt on in the right direction, head and arm often come out of the same hole. The worst part is that when faced with an article of clothing that he cannot get on "all by self", he launches into complete meltdown mode. This morning we had a fifteen minute episode over a pair of socks. He couldn't get them on without me but there was no way I was going to be allowed to help. After some kicking, screaming, snatching and a loud chorus of "NOOOOOO"s , eventually he agreed that we could do it together.
I'm all for independence, but it is this struggle between what he wants to do alone and what he is developmentally capable of doing alone that is causing the problem. Hopefully soon his abilities will catch up to his desires. Until then, we celebrate each time his head and each arm all find their own way out of a shirt.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Crunch, crunch

Yesterday the van family plus Grandma & Papa headed out to Aunt Chrissy's to pick apples. It has become an annual event and was the second trip for Paul. He enjoyed the tractor ride out to the apple trees and happily carried the empty buckets. Last year CJ carried him in the backpack, but this year he went around helping pick apples and sampling each variety.

We had a lot of fun and can't wait to start hitting the pumpkin patches.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The joys of puberty

Today marks the end of my first full week teaching 11th & 12th graders. And most people might find this crazy, but... I miss middle school. 12 year old boys are relatively predictable. They are often a thorn in a teacher's side, but it is a thorn that is easily removed with the right strategies. They hate you one day and love you the next. They are immature, yes, but that is to be expected at their age. They are still young enough to be afraid of you and deep down they really want to please you. Most of them anyway. Then the flood of testosterone hits and it all goes downhill. 16 year old boys (to be fair, at least the ones that I've worked with this past week) don't care about pleasing the teacher. They dish out excuses all day long; and believe me at this age they have some doozies! They can look you in the eye and tell you a boldface lie. Oh, and it isn't as if the hormones make them any more mature. 16 year old boys try to play paper football in study hall, find hilarity in drawing beards on people's faces in the newspaper, and write stupid messages to each other on the white board.
I am happy to be working again, I'm just not so sure about this whole high school thing. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, P is feeling better about daycare but has decided to stop sleeping. It may be some sort of protest, I have no idea. And our homestudy has been approved by our agency & should be on its way to Korea any day now!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Are you going to finish that?

Anyone who knows me knows I am a wicked procrastinator. I have these great project ideas that typically take several months (years) to begin, and then once started are often abandoned mid-project, leaving behind a mess that does not get cleaned up for weeks. Eventually things get done, but it generally takes a whole lotta external motivation. Some examples:
  • The summer we began discussing adoption (2005), I decided to refinish my childhood dresser for our future child. I dragged all of the pieces out onto our back deck, stripped the old finish and began to sand. We had to go somewhere that day so I neatly stacked the pieces in the patio, and they sat there... for an entire year. In the summer of 2006 we got our referral & I realized that I best finish the project. I managed to get the dresser sanded and stained and even found new hardware on ebay after months of searching for the right size. CJ couldn't believe he no longer had to stare at the dresser drawers out of our family room window.
  • In 2003 CJ went on an eight month deployment. I dutifully collected newspaper articles and saved photographs and other memorabilia from that time period, purchased a scrapbook, and had every intention of putting together a nice album. And I did... it just took me five years. In the fall of 2007 I finally finished the scrapbook, motivated by the fact that CJ refused to pack up and move the stacks of newspapers.

Which brings me to today. When we moved into our previous house (2004), I purchased some mismatched curtains with the intention of creating window treatments for our living room. We had this massive picture window and I somehow figured I would sew the curtains together to create a swag. Ha. Me, sew. (To be fair, I did sew two roman shades in our WA house AND a bed skirt with the help of my friend Susanna.) Needless to say, it did not get done. We moved here, and when I chose the paint color it was partially based on the curtain remnants that I still had. Yesterday I went out and bought curtain rods. CJ refused to hang them until I had actually sewn the curtains. (External motivation) Well, I dug out the machine & after breaking the sewing table and cursing the bobbin that refused to wind properly, I managed to hem the curtains. HEM THEM. All this time and all I needed to do was cut the fabric in half and HEM them. Honestly, is there a twelve step program for procrastinators? I'll sign up tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Off to high school

Yesterday I went in to shadow at my new job. The teacher going out on leave is not due until Sept. 24, but she wanted to make sure I had a feel for things in case she had the baby early. The school is enormous and I was immediately intimidated by the fact that well, high school students are most certainly taller than middle school students. And so much more independent! Of course several students forgot to bring a writing utensil to class and were already making excuses for lacking supplies and not completing homework. That much appears to be the same. They will be an interesting bunch, that's for sure! The co-teachers are all experienced, enthusiastic teachers who each seem to have that eccentricity that I remember from my own high school teachers. I was most nervous about the Government class, but the teacher is great and I know I will learn a lot from him. I look forward to going back to work and just hope I don't get lost when I get there!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The daycare disappointment

Image of Paul when dropped off at daycare: Ridiculous grin (see previous post), happily making his way around the room to check out the myriad of new toys, a quick kiss for mommy before heading right to his new teacher
Image of Paul when picked up from daycare: Eyes swollen and red from crying all day. ALL DAY. His teacher said he did manage to eat and take a one hour nap in between his crying and asking for "mommydaddy". Apparently he finally realized that going "back daycare" did not include his parents and that he would actually have to share the teacher's attention with other children. Hmm. I felt terribly guilt ridden and worried that we had rushed into this new situation. Honestly though, we visited the center several times and talked at length about what his day would be like.
I guess I took for granted the fact that he regularly accepts new people and situations without issue and completely forgot about the first few times at library hour. My son, the boy who dances to the music on television commercials and will sing his repertoire of nursery rhymes to complete strangers, sat frozen on my lap for the first several sessions. Music! Books! Dancing! It was the perfect fit! He refused to participate until he became comfortable with the situation. One week, my mom took him to a different library for a special Thomas the Tank Engine day. He sat mute on her lap the entire time. (Paul mute - hard to picture, I know!)
I can only hope that his crying jag at daycare is merely due to the adjustment of being away from mommy and my constant 1-1 attention. I tell myself it will be good in the long run; the teachers are kind and knowledgeable, the other kids are happy, and Paul will eventually love all of the activities and social interaction. I mean, comparatively I am pretty darn boring.
We go back for day two on Friday. Hopefully there will be fewer tears and more ridiculous grins.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Back daycare!

OK, so it's not like it was the first day of Kindergarten or anything, but it sure felt like it! Paul has been to daycare before, but this time it is at a center instead of someones home. He has his own cubby and hook, where he proudly hung his cookie monster backpack. It took some serious self-control to keep from bawling right there in front of his new teacher. I was oddly calmed by the fact that she (his teacher) seemed just as nervous as I was (today is "moving up" day and she had all brand new kids). It was weird being on the other side of the parent-teacher relationship. Paul happily joined in with the other boys and girls in the classroom and made himself right at home. He gave me a kiss goodbye before I left and that was that. Paul back daycare. Now I can focus all of my nervous energy on the long-term substitute job that starts later this month. I will be co-teaching 11th and 12th grade English and Government. Should be fun! Honestly, could the boy look any happier?

Friday, August 29, 2008

On our way to the 171-H!

In the international adoption community, the 171-H is the magical piece of paper that arrives from immigration indicating that you are eligible for adoption (which then places you on the referral waiting list). In order to receive it you need to complete your homestudy and be fingerprinted by the nice folks down at the immigration office. Well, this past week we had our second social worker visit and he is now busy at work finishing up our homestudy. And today we drove downtown and got our fingerprints done. Hurray! I told CJ on the drive home, "I'm feeling a lot less stressed about the second adoption." He chortled. OK, now that everything is done - of course I feel less stressed! I'll admit, there have been anxious moments. And there is plenty of time for more anxious moments. What would life be without a little stress, right?
In the meantime, P is getting ready for his return to daycare. He starts next Tuesday and is beyond excited. We visited this past week and he made a beeline straight for his classroom. I am going to try and not be a nervous wreck next week. ha!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Finally moving forward

Thursday night we had our first social worker visit. Yipee!! It took a while for him to actually track us down - apparently moving twice and having three different phone numbers in the last five months was just more than the agency could handle. So he'd been trying to call some number that he thought was my parents' house & was misdialing & leaving messages on some unsuspecting person's machine. Meanwhile I was contacting (ok harassing) the agency via phone and email over the fact that three weeks had passed since our paperwork was in & still no word from the SW. Alas, all the kinks were straightened out (for now anyway) and we are moving ahead once again. CJ & I thoroughly enjoying the personal probing on Thursday night and look forward to having the house combed for dangers at the next visit. For those readers who have not endured a home study, it is a rather invasive procedure in which you are required to tell all of your personal history to a complete stranger, including but not limited to your childhood relationships, marital pitfalls and struggles with infertility. The social worker then takes that information and enters it into a narrative that is sent to immigration where they decide whether or not you are fit to be a parent. CJ keeps pointing out that P should serve as proof enough at this point, but the USCIS does not see it as that simple.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

my thought for the day

They say motherhood changes a person. Well how could it not. Every day you put the needs of someone else above your own and have to make decisions that often have enormous impact on the life of another person. You start watching your own behavior closely in hopes of becoming a positive influence & when nasty behaviors creep out and are reflected in your child it makes you feel that much more rotten about what you have done. (Example: I am afraid of bees. My instinct, however dangerous and unnecessary, is to flail about and run in fear. Paul has seen this and now reacts in a similar fashion. When I see this I think, "Oops.")
Last night I went to a local concert and was thinking to myself, if motherhood changes you into this new person, what happens to the one you were before? Is she still in there, popping out at moments when you are away from your child and engaging in a pre-motherhood activity (such as rocking it out at a concert)? Or do we shed her like a snake's skin and leave her behind while we embrace larger, more important roles? Why do some moms feel guilty about enjoying things for themselves? It is society that dictates this or our own inner fears? I think it is important that Paul sees me not only as his mom, but as a person with passion for doing things that bring me joy. Hopefully that will cancel out the bee fear and the fact that he says "You serious?" in a disgruntled voice when we come across a bad driver (hey, it could be worse)!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

No big hair, just the Big Ocean

Paul has now been to both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans (or has he calls them, the "Big Ocean" and the "Big Ocean"). We were down visiting some friends in New Jersey & took a trip out to the shore. He was a bit braver this time, actually sticking his feet into the water and letting me take him into the waves a bit. He enjoyed the sand and was of course covered in it by the end of the day.

He also enjoyed the infamous Jersey boardwalk and wanted to visit each and every arcade and eat lots of chocolate ice cream. The boy can spot an ice cream stand anywhere - it's like he has ice cream radar! On the drive home we passed a Friendly's off the highway & from the back I heard a tired voice say, "Ice cream." Honestly.

On the way down we had a quick visit with Karen, Kyle & Cole and enjoyed a day at Sesame Place where Paul climbed the rope maze like a little monkey and braved the tube rides.

A fun trip; we are happy to be back home!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The next Phil Collins

Paul likes to "Play drum". On everything. He turns chopsticks, eating utensils, crayons, etc. into sticks & will play on any & every available surface. I am convinced that this is because of something I told him when he first came home. See, when I was younger & wanted to play a musical instrument, my first choice was the drum. I too enjoyed turning stick-shaped objects and Tupperware containers into a drum set and banging away to my heart's content. Mom & dad said no, drums were for boys (code for: drums are too loud) and I settled on the clarinet. I have been sad about this ever since and continue to love banging away on the Turkish bongos CJ brought back from deployment. When Paul first showed signs of musical interest (about the time he stopped screaming & realized we were O.K. folk) I told him that he could play whatever he wanted, no matter how loud or gender specific. It seems he has already chosen the drums. Which is fine with mommy. The neighbors however, may have different opinions once Paul graduates to the real thing. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tour of the van's pad

Over the weekend (in between watching women's beach volleyball & water polo), CJ transformed our hallway closet into a mudroom. I snapped some photos & then decided it might be time to take pictures of the rest of the house. Many many posts ago I recall promising such a thing. We (meaning CJ mostly) have done a lot of work so far with more projects to happen in the fall. Here's a quick tour, starting with the new mudroom.
Previously, there was carpet running down the hallway between the kitchen and the laundry room (and including the closet). CJ ripped out the carpet, continued the laminate from the kitchen into the hallway, and did ceramic tile in the closet. Eventually he'll tile the laundry room too. Then he removed the large shelf, cut it in half, painted the walls cream & the shelves red & rehung the shelves. We added baskets, a bench & a bunch of hooks for coats & bags. Tada!
The kitchen has seen the most work (with more to come once mommy is fully employed again). The floor in the front hallway was this awful, dark, chipping ceramic tile (circa 1980s), and the kitchen was linoleum. CJ replaced it all with laminate made to look like tile. It took him all of Memorial Day weekend and he ended up with cuts & bruises all over his knees, but it is beautiful & we love it! The refridgerator was originally sitting inside a little alcove & messing up the flow of traffic, so CJ happily tore down that wall, blocked a doorway that led to the den, and moved the fridge closer to the rest of the appliances. The orginal microwave & oven were in the wall and didn't work. We replaced them & CJ built a shelf unit for spices & cookbooks and added an additional cupboard next to the new range.


Here are a few more shots of the house. Every room has been painted except for the family room and laundry. When we got here, everything was beige, or some variation of beige. It was depressing. We are very happy with the chosen colors (the living room is much more mauve than pink, despite the way it appears in the pic).
The den and living/dining rooms
Paul's bedroom & playroom

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A visit from Carrie & Amy

A conversation between two two year olds can be quite riveting. Take Paul & Piper (my friend Carrie's daughter) for example. They sat across from each other in the mini van & had several conversations along these lines:
Piper: "My juice!"
Paul: "NO!"
Piper: "My juice!"
Paul: "NO!"
Piper: "My juice!"
Paul: "NO!"
You get the idea. This went on for a good five minutes. I started to feel like I was trapped in a Family Guy joke that lasts just a little too long. The toddlers enjoyed tormenting each other in the car & I got a glimpse into my future with two children. Despite the bantering, Paul enjoyed having company for a few days & I was happy to have two of my buddies around.

Monday, August 4, 2008

CAMPING!

This past weekend we had our first post-Paul camping trip. He was excited and enthusiastic all week, shouting "CAMPING!" over and over. Little did he know that camping involves sleeping in a tent on the ground, listening to rain pelt the thin plastic barrier, and watching the sky light up and crackle with thunder and lightening. Little did mom know that trying to convince a toddler to sleep through such an event would be next to impossible. Okay, so I knew that much. Needless to say we didn't get much sleep (honestly though, who gets much sleep when on the ground, even without the toddler?) and when my mom asked if we "relaxed" I chuckled. Loudly. We did have fun though and were happy to be joined by Kim & Josh for one night. We had a great campfire Friday night & on Saturday headed out to the park where CJ & I got married eight years ago tomorrow. I was happy to be able to show our son where the Van family began. {smirk}
Paul concluded that the "WATERFALL" was his favorite part, but he also enjoyed creek stomping with Daddy and sitting by the campfire. Oh, & splashing in the mud puddles Saturday morning. The boy has never been so filthy. Not sure if we will try to camp again this summer, but I look forward to more mornings waking up with the sun, opening my eyes to a little face peeking up over the side of the air mattress, a tiny finger poking my forehead. "Mommy. Morning, mommy. Reading books me? CAMPING!"

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Blue chicken pox

Earlier this week we were at the mall & my charmer son scored some lovely blue circle stickers from a couple of sales clerks doing markdowns. I have been finding them everywhere - on Paul's diaper, on the bottom of my foot, etc. Today he decided to cover his face, legs and hair with the stickers, which made him look like he had a bad case of blue chickenpox. As I type this he is continuing the sticker brigade with Sesame Street characters (he is finally out of blue dots). It appears to be a very serious process. Anyway, here's the pic.

Friday, July 25, 2008

My mom date

Being a full time SAHM is lonely. Without a job to go to every day and interact with other adults, it becomes difficult to, well, meet other adults. I try to take Paul to the library, playground, zoo, etc. and make small talk with other mothers, but it generally does not progress past the casual conversation. I find myself feeling strange, like this is some sort of club that I don't really belong to. So I joined this online mom's forum, where I could remain comfortably anonymous and still interact with other people. It is local, and I figured if I met someone interesting that we could meet in person and have a play date. After a few failed attempts, I finally had my first "mom date" this morning. I call it this because it felt a little like a blind date. I worried about whether or not we'd recognize each other, what she would think of me, whether or not my son would behave himself.
I got there and saw a woman who I though might be my "date" but she didn't make eye contact. After about ten minutes we started making conversation. I heard her call her daughter's name, which was, coincidentally, the name of the daughter of the woman I was scheduled to meet. Hmm... I mentioned this. Ah-ha. She was indeed my mom date. Turns out she is a very nice person, and Paul & her daughter got along well, even exchanged a nice hug. As lunch time grew closer, I found myself feeling, once again, like I was on a blind date. Did she like us? Would she give me her number, so we could have another play date? What exactly is the etiquette in these situations?
Navigating friendships via motherhood is proving to be tricky, but hopefully I will find some new friends for both myself and Paul. In the meantime I am thankful to those friends who, though far away, are close in my heart.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Can you repeat that?

I know that endless repetition is part of toddlerhood - but sometimes I feel like I am living in the movie Groundhog Day. For example, every morning when I am getting ready, Paul reaches into my makeup drawer and after applying excessive amounts of chapstick (at least he is putting it on his lips now and not his tongue), he will inevitably pull out the tweezers and recount the time that I used them to remove a splinter when we were in California. His description is always the same: "Tweezers. Maria house. Splinter hand." (holds up hand to demonstrate splinter removal) "OUCH! Got it. Good job, mommy." (thumbs-up) I tried to explain to him that tweezers are not just for taking splinters out but also for tweezing eyebrows. This was a bad idea of course, because then he wanted to tweeze his own. Oops.
It seems to me the repetition is most often used to recount painful events. Like the time on the playground when he went down the slide too fast. Every time we drive by (the incident was in April btw), he says: "Playground. Head. BONK!"
I have also learned that if we must be extra careful about what we tell Paul these days. I've been looking for a new job, and CJ told him one night that I needed some privacy to prepare for an interview and that finding a job was very important because it meant Paul could go back to daycare. Every since that day, I've had to endure endless rounds of: "Mommy job. Paul back daycare." It doesn't help that we pass two daycare centers on our way into town. As soon as he sees them, the "Back daycare" serenade begins. Sigh. Not like I don't have enough pressure trying to find work without my two year old nagging me!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

A trip to the lake

Back in college, I babysat for this wonderful family who were basically my "home away from home." They moved away shortly after I graduated, but maintained their summer cottage nearby. The girls are now grown (one is in college, the other a senior in high school... yes, I am officially OLD) but thankfully we are able to see them every so often out at the lake. This past weekend we made a trip out there for the first time since Paul came home. He was delighted to meet everyone and had a great time jumping on their trampoline & feeding the ducks.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The paperwork is in!

Well, it took us about three months to get it all together, but we finally got the dossier paperwork sent in for our second adoption. I had been waiting on a statement from our bank and poor CJ had to keep calling and harassing them to send it to us. I decided to send in the packet minus the statement, and the agency received everything yesterday. Thankfully the bank statement came in the mail today & I can send it in tomorrow. We should be starting our home study soon - yipee! I have started talking to Paul about having a sibling. He thinks it is great, although I doubt he fully understands what that means. He isn't happy when one of the cats gets too close to something of his and has been known to shout, "MINE!" at them. Alas, I know it will be a good thing long term, even if it means some jealousy & adjustment at first. CJ & I are excited, but a little nervous as to how this will change our family dynamic. But we have many months to adjust to the idea & for P to soak up solo time.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Weekend thrills

We had a great 4th of July weekend. My bff from high school, Kelly, was in for the long weekend visiting her brother, and I was able to get in some quality girl-time. Friday we went to my cousins' for their annual picnic & Paul had a ball jumping on the trampoline. Saturday we spent the day with CJ's family on his sister's new boat - the weather was PERFECT & we had lots of fun in the sun. Finally got to meet my newest nephew (who is already 8 months old!!!) He's a total cutie. CJ tried wake boarding for the first time, and I tried tubing. Yikes. A little too scary for my taste! Paul learned how to drive a speed boat. Mostly he drove us in circles. He enjoyed himself, with CJ breathing a sigh of relief that our son likes the water. Sunday we did more swimming at Kelly's brother's house. Paul is becoming quite the fish. We are blessed to have so many great swimming opportunties.

Friday, June 27, 2008

New fears

Yesterday Paul & I went to our local library for a visit with Clifford. ("Big! Red! Dog!") Paul was excited to see Clifford and talked about him all morning. When the costumed character entered the room, however, Paul was terrified. Grandma tried to take a picture, but Paul refused to stand anywhere near Clifford and buried his head in my chest.
He seems to be going through this phase where he is scared by seemingly harmless things. In California, he was terrified of this indoor play area because there was an air cannon that shot out balls and made a whooshing sound. So my boy, who ordinarily jumps into every situation with gusto, hid against my chest and refused to play. Later in the week he reenacted his fear with his stuffed bunny, saying that bunny was feeling "scared. balls." and we tried to talk about ways to help bunny feel better. I am really at a loss, other than just letting this phase run its course and assure him that I will keep him safe.
Luckily, all was not lost at the library. Paul was happy to participate in the craft, making a lovely set of red dog ears.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Palm Trees!!!

Paul and I just returned from visiting his aunt, uncle and cousins in California. He was excited to see more "PALM TREES!" and announced their existence at every turn. My brother has a swimming pool in his backyard - Paul thouroughly enjoyed jumping in & learning how to kick his legs & blow bubbles. Here he is with his cousin Dom in the pirate boat. The two are very close in age & enjoyed each other's company (with only the occasional "MINE!")

We were able to get out to the beach for a few days & while the waves frightened him at first, he was excited about sticking his toes in and playing in the sand. We stayed in a cute little resort town and tried to keep cool (California was in the middle of a heat wave). The photo is of my brother and all the boys walking back from breakfast.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Home at last!

We are finally in the house. All of us. The humans moved in early last week & the felines joined us on Friday. YAY! Then a heat wave hit. Mom's house has AC. Ours does not. Bad timing. For the first few nights Paul asked to go back to "Papa's house", but he seems to be adjusting to life without grandparents. Not that he doesn't see them every day, I mean - they have AC remember? The cats handled things pretty well too. We were worried that they would be lost without grandma & KC (her cat), but after a few hours of sniffing around & Mia crying, they were back to their old routine. Sleeping. There are still a million things to do at the house and the heat is not helping my motivation. But we are slowly unpacking and getting back to normal. CJ plans to do some serious painting while the boy & I journey to California to visit my brother & his brood. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The happiest (and sweatiest) place on Earth

Magic Kingdom was great. And hot. Paul loved all of the rides (especially small world) and gave enthusiastic nods and thumbs-up at the end of each one. He can now identify pirates and give a hearty "Yo-ho-ho". The highlight of the day was our trip to Pooh's playground where he splashed joyfully in the sprinklers. He was right in there splashing with the other kids and moving the feet of anyone who tried to stand on top of the sprinkler. (My boy does not let anyone push him around!) He had a great time with the little girl in the picture, who I think may have also been adopted. (Mom was not Asian, but I hate to assume, ya know?!?)
Sadly the only adult ride we managed to sneak in was Splash Mountain, where we waited 70 minutes. It seems every school in Florida was having their class day and we were sandwiched in line between two groups of very loud, very silly 5th graders. Mom called to say that Paul was awake moments before we went down the big hill.
On our last day we spent the morning relaxing by the pool before heading back to the airport. Paul is seen here with bubbles given to him by another hotel guest.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Greetings from the Sunshine State!

The van family is in Florida! Paul did relatively well on the plane ride down - only a few moments of minor meltdown. We were hoping that he would sleep on the flight. HA! Of course he fell asleep as soon as we started driving to the hotel. At least he was able to sneak in a quick cat nap. He seemed excited and confused about the whole hotel experience. After dinner he said, "Papa's house" & we had to explain that we would be sleeping in a hotel for a few days. I think he is starting to get used to the idea here on day three.

Yesterday we headed out to Disney's Animal Kingdom and everyone had a fabulous time. We went on the safari ride and were able to see many of Paul's favorite animals. We had a very yummy lunch in "Asia" and were very happy that Paul fell asleep in his stroller in the late afternoon. Grandma & Papa sat with him in the shade while Mommy & Daddy hit the rides. I actually volunteered to ride a roller coaster! It was the new one called Everest & it really wasn't too bad. I did scream rather loudly though and was told that I was walking a bit funny after we disembarked. Paul woke up just in time for the big parade and was thrilled to see some of his favorite characters. After a little more playtime we headed over to the Lion King show. Also a big hit with the boy who was enthralled with the monkey gymnasts. All in all a great day!
Today we are taking it easy. We spent the morning by the pool where Paul enjoyed practicing his swimming skills. We are headed into Downtown Disney after nap. Tomorrow we plan to hit Magic Kingdom. Traveling with the grandparents is going very well. It is wonderful to have a second set of hands and eyes, expecially with a busy little toddler!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Buzz buzz

In preparation for our trip to Disney, I have given Paul a lovely buzz cut. It is not the best haircut that's for sure - but it should help to keep him cool. It was a little sad watching his soft silky hair pile up on the ground below (and a little frustrating trying to remove it from the chair with all of its static clingy power), but he seems happy with the result. And I can't stop rubbing my hand over his bristly head. Our Memorial Day weekend has been a mad dash to get the house ready for moving in post-Disney. CJ spent the majority of his waking hours installing our new entryway/kitchen floor. It looks really nice & I am very excited. Our pre-trip move in was thwarted by the fact that our master bedroom carpet had to be reordered (after they half ripped out the old one - oops!) which has been a pretty big disappointment. We concluded it would probably be best for Paul to transition after vacation anyway. He is excited about the "Brown. House." and cannot stop talking about going to Disney to see "Mi-mouse. Airplane. Sky." His language is evolving toward sentences although there is a gap in between each word and sometimes between multi-syllabic words. My favorite: "Bater (water). Melon." Oh & "Home. Depot. Car." (We spend a great deal of time there & he loves the car carts.) It is exciting to watch him soak everything in and repeat back his version.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

grads and lilacs

Over the weekend we went to see my sister receive her Master's degree. She has been going to school while working full time and raising her (almost teenage) son. I am so proud of her! She graduated from my Alma mater, exactly ten years after I earned my undergrad degree. It was neat to see all of the changes that have happened in the last ten years. Here we are posing in front of the new academic building.





Afterward we went out to the Lilac Festival and enjoyed the aroma of flowers and fried dough. The weather was perfect and the lilacs happily in bloom.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Our home away from home

It may be a while before we can actually move into our new house. To begin with, there are several layers of filth to peel away and currently we do not have any hot water. Trying to clean with lukewarm water is only the part of the challenge, trying to clean while a mischievous toddler explores the new terrain is of course the rest. Yesterday (on Daddy's watch, not mine) he managed to pull down the curtain rod in the living room & tangle himself in the musty old drapes. Paul's version went something like this: "House. Daddy. Papa. Head." (hits himself in the head while making an appropriate head smashing sound.) With Paul, this could mean anything. I had to get the truth from Papa.

Needless to say we are making some progress in the right direction. All of the bedrooms are painted & we are waiting for the new rugs, which will hopefully be installed next Friday. Tonight we plan to stimulate the economy by purchasing all new appliances (YAY!) and (cross your fingers) a WATER HEATER. There have been hours of research and discussion regarding the water heater and whether or not it should be tankless. It seems that we do not live in a climate conducive to a tankless heater, and when CJ found out that the water can suddenly turn cold he gave it the big thumbs down. The man likes his hot showers. In an effort to reduce our "footprint", we plan to buy an efficient as possible tanked version & insulate it to death (well, not to death really, I mean we already have one dead heater on our hands!) Tomorrow CJ will be knocking down walls in the kitchen to make room for the new fridge. I plan to stay away and be nervous from a distance. It really is better that way.
Moving day has been pushed back at a minimum to next weekend while we wait for rugs and wall relocation. I'll keep everyone posted & will put some pictures up as soon as I remember to take a few.

Monday, May 5, 2008

A sigh of relief, and relief for labored breath

We have finally closed on the house. YAY! CJ has most of our stuff moved out of his parent's basement and into our new garage and has already painted three bedrooms (the man is on a mission!) We are still living at my folk's while the new place airs out, but hopefully we'll be in the house this weekend. Moving in requires some new floors in the bedrooms and several appliances. Right now we are without a refrigerator, dryer, functioning hot water tank & microwave. Luckily the government's "economic stimulus package" is just in time for appliance & flooring stores to heave some nice little deals our way.
Sadly, in the midst of our celebration of homeownership, our little one has gotten ill. He came down with a nasty cough over the weekend & we ended up in the ER last night because he could barely catch his breath. He's been diagnosed with croup & given steroids & a nebulizer. The boy is downright miserable, but with the medicine he's at least able to get some much needed sleep. Hopefully he will be on the mend soon!

Friday, May 2, 2008

2020 Olympics, here we come!

video

Paul has learned how to do a somersault. After several takes I managed to capture it on video.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

One step closer to close

Hurray! Closing is scheduled for Friday. Hopefully all will go smoothly and we will be in the new house by the weekend. If so, I will try to put some pictures up so that everyone can admire our fashionable 80's pad. We are still in controversy over what to do with the downstairs floors. I am hoping that CJ bends to my wishes & installs bamboo in the living room/dining room. The last floor place we went to told us that bamboo was "a colossal waste of money" to which I wanted to reply, "Wow, what an excellent sales pitch!" I told him that I was just trying to do my part to protect the planet. Sheesh.
In the world of Paul, we have had one successful visit to the potty - although it seemed to be quite coincidental because he was rather shocked to realize what he had done (as was I)! Needless to say his success was several days ago and we have not seen any repeat performances. Not that there hasn't been plenty of time spent sitting and reading books (followed by running around the upstairs stark naked). I have a feeling that there will be a long road to a diaper free existence.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Otters, reptiles & squatters, oh my!


We took Paul on his first trip to the zoo this past weekend. It was quite the toasty day (can we say Global Warming???) and we had a great time seeing the animals. Paul seemed to enjoy the water animals and snakes the most. Unfortunately my camera wasn't working, but mom's was & she got a few cute shots. Not to worry, Paul's godparents got us a zoo pass so there will be many more trips in the future!
Despite the early rise into high 80's, I am really loving this weather! It helps that I am not in the hot classroom & instead home with my boy playing in the backyard. Sorry to all my sweating teacher friends!! I do miss it though, and have found myself longing for the mouthy retorts of preteens and the sweet smell of Axe. HAHAHAHA.
And no, in case anyone was wondering, we have not been able to get into the new house. The squatters are still there as evidenced by their piles of stuff in the garage. Yes, my husband is stalking the house (he continues to visit daily) and peering into the garage. I am hoping that no one calls the police on him. It has become quite heartbreaking to have this beautiful weather and not be out in the garden. We were so overcome with jealousy the other day when we walked out of the Depot empty handed. Dad offered to help us get out of our mopey state by handing me a broom and saying, "There's plenty of work to do around here!"

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Hey buddy, can you spare a dime?

We are officially homeless. We successfully closed on the old house on Friday and have no idea when we will be able to close on the new one. Luckily the folks don't mind us hanging around a bit longer and haven't started charging rent.... yet. We walk/drive past the new house daily and grumble over the fact that we could be using this nice weather to fix up the front yard. Poor Paul, we keep telling him that it is his new house - he's probably wondering why we never go in!!

Not too much else to report; the family headed out to a local Korean church on Friday for a night of Korean food and praise music, and I had a lovely time hanging out with the girls on Saturday as we celebrated Amy's birthday (a month late).

Monday, April 7, 2008

Mr. Paul is A-OK!

Paul had his two year old checkup today. He is doing very well & has hit all of his developmental milestones (go Paul!). He is a bit low on the growth charts for weight & height; daddy remarked that he was "hanging by his toes off the bottom curve of the weight chart." Not that the boy doesn't eat, he does. He just never stops moving. I explained this to the doctor, who nodded knowingly. Then I asked if the chart was used primarily for white American children & he said it was actually calculated using averages for African-American children. Hmmmm... So I went online & found an Asian-American growth chart, & low & behold Paul is right around the 50th percentile. I can tell you for a fact that the boy is growing; he can now turn light switches on and off and reach all the doorknobs in the house. Oh & if he can't reach something, he'll find a chair to help him out. We must continually update the childproofing as he figures out a way around it. Luckily my little problem solver is no match for daddy the engineer.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

bye bye llamas

Yesterday morning we woke up in our old house for the last time. It was nice to "sleep in" (Paul was at Grandma's) and have a relaxing morning reminiscing about our time in the house & listing the things we will miss/not miss (more on that below). Then the work began. It took about five hours to pack up the rest of the house & clean. Many thanks to Bryan & Amy, without whom we'd probably still be packing! Bryan expertly brought the truck right up to our front door (CJ most likely would have driven it straight into the house) and Amy helped clean and maintain sanity. Today we are headed to the new place to drop off our stuff. Unfortunately it may be a while before we actually move it due to the seller's death. Sigh. And we found out yesterday that her son is still living on the property. He was supposed to move out April 1. It is hard to be mad seeing as he has had a difficult week, but I am a little worried about leaving our stuff there. Of course we did not learn about this until after the truck was completely packed.


In the meantime, the weather is finally improving & we have been able to get Paul out of the house a bit. On Friday mom & I took him to the bike path, where he enjoyed enthusiastically naming everything "RIVER! BIRD! GRASS! DUCK! STICK!" and racing full speed ahead on the path. He even chased a couple of older gentleman out for a leisurely stroll. One commented that Paul was "full of life." That's for sure! He may be exhausting, but it he definitely puts a smile on the faces of everyone he meets!

Here are some things we will miss about our old home:
  • when the snow lands on CJ's wall and makes it look like a Thomas Kincaide painting
  • watching random creatures wander through our backyard (however we will not miss the deer eating all of our tulips, which btw they have already done, leaving the new homeowners with nothing but nubs)
  • our GIANT garden (we will not miss the mosquitoes that made it nearly impossible to work out there)
  • the fabulous butt workout you got from walking up our hill
  • silence (we'll be in the 'burbs now!)
  • driving past the llamas and various other farm animals, & listening to Paul make animal sounds
  • the handful of friends that made our time there enjoyable. You are always welcome for a visit!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

On the home front

The three of us are staying with my parents until our house closes. Our old house is scheduled to close April 14 (we are headed out there this weekend to move furniture) and the new house should close the next day. Well, yesterday we found out that our seller passed away. We knew she was sick and was selling because she had moved into assisted living, but her death was a bit of a shocker. The house had been on the market for almost a year and a half, so I told CJ that I am glad she was able to sell and not have to worry about leaving that burden with her children. This may seem silly seeing as we have never met them, but please keep her family in your prayers! We'll keep you posted on things as they develop & I'll post pictures of the new place as soon as we move in.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

And now for something completly different



Okay, I couldn't resist starting this off with a Monty Python reference. Forgive me. The completely different being of course my new status as stay-at-home mom. Most likely this will not be a permanent change as I plan to find a teaching job for the fall, but for the time being I figured I would enjoy being home with Paul. Being home during naptime means having time to start a blog... so here it is. Enjoy!

Today is Paul's 2nd birthday. In my efforts to be more domestic, I made him an Elmo cake for his party this past weekend. Many doubted my abilities, (and why shouldn't they? I am not known for my cake making prowess) but I pulled it off. Paul proudly proclaimed "Melmo!" when the cake was brought forth and was able to blow out the candle with minimal spit. He has been sung to three times now and will most likely have a fourth tonight after dinner. Today at lunch he desperately tried to blow out his sundae, which incidentally had no candle. He proudly proclaims that he is "TWO" to anyone who cares and was heard counting in his crib this morning while waiting for me to rescue him. The boy is too darn cute.