Sunday, December 17, 2006

Impending Christmas from Jennica's viewpoint

This blog is my estimate of what Jennica is thinking and feeling, based on her recent activities. :)

1) Mom and Dad put a tree in our house, covered it with bright lights and shiny things and expect me to stay away from it? Yeah right......

2) Mom and Dad wrapped PRESENTS and put them under the tree and want me to stay out of them. How stupid can they be? If they wanted me to stay out of them, why did they put them UNDER the tree where I can get to them?

3) I've got this cool new red dress, but even cooler is this net thingy underneath it that goes way out when I spin really fast. I'd really like to show everyone I meet this cool net thingy, but Mom and Dad call it "flashing" and don't seem to like it. Too bad!!!

We'll see what else she gets into in the next week...It could get interesting.....

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I'm going to the Nutcracker!!

I got a phone call the other day asking me if I was interested in a "day trip" and I'm SO excited!! I get to go to The Nutcracker in Seattle!! I've wanted to go for years, but have always been out-voted by the three males in the house. Since the other two females aren't old enough to vote yet, I've lost every time....

But everyone keeps laughing at my adventure when I tell them that I'm being chaffeured to Seattle in a big yellow school bus and I'm being accompanied by 60+ fifth and sixth graders plus some other parents and teachers. Seems that people don't think that 10-12 year olds are going to be real attentive to the production. Hmmm........They may be right. However, I refuse to be swayed and I'm going to go and have a GREAT TIME!!

So why did the school call ME? Do I have "sucker" tattooed across my forehead? Hmmmm.....

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Good Riddance November!

Any of you that check my blog regularly may have been wondering where I've been lately. Or not!! Hee hee hee. Whether you want to know or not, I'm going to tell ya!! (Once again, I remind you that you are here voluntarily.......)

As I've already mentioned Mike and I went to Seattle overnight over Veterans Day weekend. Prior to that, I had taken a day off ALL BY MYSELF and gone shopping out of town just for a day. We hardly broke the bank during either of these trips, but it is rare for us to do two things like this back-to-back simply "for the fun of it."

So.......I guess you could say that in the middle of this month, I felt like maybe I needed to take on more work than I normally would have to make a little extra and atone for our expenditures. So as the appraisal orders kept coming and the phone kept ringing, I kept saying, "YES!" Big mistake, huge.......GI-NORMOUS!

Up until Thanksgiving, I was sailing along happily in denial as to what I had done to myself. But after Thanksgiving, the bell tolled loudly and I was shackled to my desk for my sins. I honest to goodness NEVER want to repeat a month like November. I'm simply not greedy enough to lower my quality of life to the extreme of working those kinds of hours!!

Finally, at 11 pm on Friday, DECEMBER 1st, I completed the last order that had been due in November. Only 24 hours late, technically speaking. My tendons in my wrists are still aching tonight, Sunday evening, from the stress of hours spent at the keyboard last week.

So........moral to the story?? GREED does not pay!! Not to me anyway!! I was happy to usher in December, which is already much slower, as the market tends to lull this time of year a bit.

So you can picture me, with huge bags under my eyes and my hair still smoking from being on fire that last week and LAUGH!!! The office is CLOSED, until Monday morning at 8 a.m. and will be closing promptly at 5 p.m. No more 16+ hour days!! At least not until I forget how awful it was the last time...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My Stick Person

I saw this little guy on someone else's blog and I liked him, so I kidnapped him. :) Life is good right now!! I made some headway on the pile of stuff on my desk today and am rewarding myself with the evening off!! WAHOO!!! I hope that wherever you are, you are enjoying a day/evening with family and loved ones!!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

My "Gremlin"

Grant is now 11 and doesn't really like it when I call him "Gremlin" anymore, which has been my nickname for him since he was about a year old. He says he doesn't mind "Grant-ster", another one of his nicknames, but really prefers that we avoid "Gremlin". I'm having a hard time breaking the habit, but I'm working on it as I'm trying to respect his wishes and the fact that he's growing up.

Since he IS growing up and I've been blogging about the funny things that the girls do and say, I've come to realize that with the passage of time, I have forgotten some of the funny things that the boys did and said when they were in toddler and preschool stages. The boys like to read my blog and have asked me if they did/said funny things at the same age. So I've decided that I'm occasionally going to blog things about the boys from their early childhood to journal those events for them. Today, this one is all about Grant. The photo I will attach of him was taken at about the time this conversation happened. Check out those dimples!!!

When Grant was about 4, he was attending Preschool/Day Care while I was at work. He had a habit of coming into the bathroom in the morning, perching on the bathroom counter, and chatting with me while I got ready for work. One November morning, I was asking him what he was learning at Preschool and he started chatting about pilgrims. The conversation went like this:

Me: "What have you been talking about at Preschool?"
Grant: "Indians and pilgrims. Pilgrims rode on a boat."
Me: "Did the indians help the pilgrims?"
Grant: "Yep. The indians helped the pilgrims build houses."
Me: "That's cool. Did they live in houses like us?"
Grant: "No. The Indians lived in tee-pees." (I don't really think the indians of the Atlantic coastline lived in tee-pees, but he was four, so I didn't argue.)
Me: "Wow. Did you know that indians here lived in big houses made of wood?"
Grant: "They did?"
Me: "Yep. What other kinds of houses do people live in?"
Grant: Blank look here.
Me: "How about igloos? Who lives in igloos?"
Grant: "IGLOOS??"
Me: "Yes....igloos? Who lives in igloos?" (I thought this was a word he was familiar with.)
Grant: Big pause. Thinking. And then, "Oh. Oh. I know!!! DOGS!!!"

It took me a minute. Is it taking you a minute, too? Hint here: My Mom and Dad had a Golden Retriever at the time with a Dog-loo from Walmart. I was laughing too hard to explain that the answer I had been looking for was eskimo. And, after all, he was right!! The retriever DID live in an igloo. :))))

Yes, Grant, you also said/did funny things at a young age. I love you, Grant-ster!!! You were a wonderful 4-year-old and you're an even better 11-year-old. I'm proud of you!!!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The wind blew and the trees fell

This past week, we had a doozy of a windstorm. It started blowing here about noon and went to full force at about 1:30. I grew up here in the Pacific Northwest, am accustomed to life beneath the trees with the coastal winds that blow several times each year, but this was UNREAL. I'm not sure that I've ever felt it blow this hard. And oddly enough, at about 4:30 pm, it was like God turned the switch off and the wind stopped. Very strange.

In any case, during the course of the storm, we ended up with at least four trees down on our property. A year ago, we hired a faller to come in and take out 13 hemlocks close to the house, several of which were rotten, and we are so thankful that we spent the money and had it done. The four trees that fell in this storm were out along the driveway, made a huge mess with limbs and debris, but our home was not threatened. One of them was a BIG one, which took out a couple others on its way down. I got the adventure of driving the van across our yard to get out the driveway that day, but other then a minor four-wheeling event in a minivan, no major thrills. I have to admit that it was fun to see Grant's face when he got off the school bus and had to climb over a fallen tree to get to the house. He came in the door and said, "Uh, Mom?? Did you know we have a tree in the driveway??" No kidding. :)

In any case, Mike is out playing lumberjack this morning. His chainsaw will cut up all the limbs and the smaller-midsize trees, but we're probably going to have to hire someone to come in and do something with the big one. Its going to require a serious tree-eating piece of machinery. Since we don't have any sort of wood-burning heat, I guess Dad & Mom will get first crack at a bunch of free firewood.

Hey Marj--If you guys have some sort of wood heat in your house, I'll give you a free load of firewood for Christmas to take back to Spokane in your trunk with you!!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Feeling humbled this morning...

Jennica was up during the night and not in a pleasant mood. We finally determined that it was a stomach ache (won't go into the details of how we figured that out). I'm tired this morning, and I got, by far, the better end of the deal as Mike sent me back to bed and stayed up with her. He stumbled out the door at 6:30 this morning to head to work and I know he's exhausted today.

I'm not really a morning person to begin with, and with a lack of sleep, I'm even worse. Of course, Jen managed to wake up bright and sunny today, which thoroughly annoyed me. Until suddenly I remembered...

This is the little girl that is supposed to have severe, inherited disabilities. This is the little girl that we almost "lost" to her birth family on the East Coast. This is the little girl that we were not sure would walk or talk. This is the little girl that we hauled to a neuro-developmentalist at 8 months so we could begin the process of identifying her disabilities and start early therapies.

Instead what we have is Jennica. Rambunctious, stubborn, demanding, delightfully funny, lover-of-books and any lap that is still long enough for her to climb into it, brown-eyed Jennica. She actually doesn't ever really walk.....she runs!!! And sings. And when she laughs, she laughs with her whole body.

So, I am again humbled by our youngest daughter, reminded of what a miracle she truly is, and what a miracle God has worked right in front of us in watching her grow from the tiny 7-week-old infant she was, to the rowdy 2 1/2-year-old she is today. We took custody of her fully knowing that she was the biological child of two developmentally disabled adults, and that she had two autistic siblings. NEVER did we question our decision to adopt her, and I feel so strongly that God blessed us with a MIRACLE.

Now, if I can only remember all of this the next time that she is wide awake at 5 a.m. and singing, "....winkle tar......winkle tar.....ding dong ding.....ding dong ding....." (Her own delightful rendition of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "Frere Jacques" combined together.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Benefit of getting to preschool a few minutes late...

Tiersten's three-year-old preschool class in our elementary school starts at 8 a.m. The rest of the elementary school, and the Jr High/Sr High School across the street, don't start class until 8:25, so when I walk her into her classroom, I get to see all the elementary kids in the hallways, shout a "hello" to any high schoolers I know standing around on that side of the street, and chat with staff members and other parents that may be loitering before school starts. Our boys prefer to ride the bus to school in the morning rather than ride with the girls and I, so sometimes I get to see them, on their own respective sides of the street, chatting with their friends and doing the typical before-school activities.

I have discovered that if I'm running a little late, I get an added bonus that I really enjoy. Every morning, a high school student reads the bulletin over the loudspeaker, which is broadcast indoors and outdoors over the campus. It doesn't broadcast inside the elementary school, but if I'm outside the building, it is loud enough that I can hear it from across the street. It is truly GREAT fun!! As Dane is only a 7th grader, he doesn't seem to know how the reading student is chosen, but I'm guessing it is probably a member of the ASB?? In any case, it is great to listen to. They always recite the "Pledge of Allegiance" and then go through the day's announcements--which teams won or lost a game the previous evening, the lunch menu, all those types of things. Sometimes, I can tell that the reader is a little uncomfortable with the microphone because they will read it all pretty quickly in a monotone. Other days, you get someone who can "ham it up" a bit better and they'll throw in a "woo-hoo" behind the team announcements if a game has been won, and add some fun adjectives to the lunch menu. It makes the days announcements so much more interesting to hear them from the teenage perspective and I really enjoy listening!

I can't help but wonder, when my children take their turn at the microphone, will they be the shy ones, or the extroverted "woo-hoo" and "DEE-licious Macaroni and Cheese" kids??? :)

Monday, November 13, 2006

A weekend in the BIG CITY

I've had a long day, but I've been anxiously trying to sneak a few minutes in for the past few days, so I'm finally doing that, despite the fact that completing a sentence is a tad tough tonight. Not sure where all these appraisal orders are coming from, but I'm scheduling late November now and I'm still buried. In the "World of the Self-Employed", we all try to remind ourselves that it is better to be too busy, than to be twiddling our thumbs waiting for the phone to ring, but some days when the phone won't stop ringing, its hard to remember that. Am I rambling? I think I'm rambling. I have a tendency to do that when I'm tired and over-stimulated and a half hour ago the fax was still ringing with new incoming orders. I'm still doing it, aren't I?

Before I forget, I've posted a few new "Tiersten-isms" on that blog post from August, so for those of you that like to hang out and wait for my daughter to come up with her latest phrase, check it out!! And she has the "T-I-E-R" down in writing her name so I figure that in about a year, she can have her own blog. I'm still rambling, aren't I?

ANYHOW, Mike and I ran away this weekend to Seattle. (If there are any of you out there that think that its strange that people go to the CITY on the weekend instead of the other way around, you need to realize that if you live in Smalltown, USA it is NOT a treat to spend the weekend in Smalltown, USA. We can sit around and debate about which of three restaurants to eat at any old time we want. We want CHOICES when we run away...The rest of you can enjoy coming to the country when you want to escape the city. Not us.)

We stayed downtown in a high-rise hotel with a view of Elliott Bay, ate at a restaurant with authentic Cajun food and live jazz music, and....drumroll here.......a very first for me.....we rode in a TAXI....TWICE!!!! And for me, there is nothing quite like the helpless feeling of being from a small town, pulling up in front of a nice hotel, and having your car and luggage both removed from your possession in the first 60 seconds by a valet and a bellhop. It leaves you standing on the sidewalk feeling a little lost and out of control, but I think I could get used to the spoiling with a little bit of practice!!! Its just a very odd feeling when you are used to being self-serving in a rural area that doesn't have a single valet parking place in the ENTIRE COUNTY.

In any case, we laughed a lot while we were gone. Mostly at ourselves, but it sure felt good. It was nice to not have a restless toddler and preschooler tugging on our arms, and know that they were both in excellent care at home and enjoying some one-on-one time. (We split them up and sent them different places, so that they could have some "special" time, and they are such a handful together that you feel like you're burdening someone to hand them both off at once.) The boys were happily hanging out with their Dad and stepmom for a couple of extra days. We slept late, we enjoyed a variety of art, we ate, we strolled, and we enjoyed. (The Pottery Barn in downtown Seattle is to die for. I ended up not buying anything there because I couldn't narrow it down. I wanted the whole store!! Ohhhh.....the shopping!!!) It was so nice to have a concrete reminder that life DOES exist beyond our usual activities that absorb our daily lives. Ahhh.......culture.

Today, life was back to chaos as usual, but I feel a bit more rested than last week. Maybe not so much rested in a physical way, but definitely rested in a mental way. In the larger world, I'm just one little ant putting one foot in front of the other. Going to the city where there are so many ants put it in perspective.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A good day for Dane

Today was a good day for Dane. Which means that it was a good day for his Mom, too. :)

His progress report came in the mail today and he is doing VERY well in all of his subjects. Great to know!!

But more importantly, to me at least, is that he was awarded the "Coach's Award" this evening at the Jr. High Sports Banquet for football. Way to go, Dane!!!

Academic achievement is a good thing, but I am even more proud of his accomplishments that earned him the Coach's Award. He was chosen for his upbeat attitude and work ethic. In the bigger picture of life, I think those are the characteristics that carry us the farthest.

Just bustin' my buttons a bit tonight!!! For those of you who knew him as the holy terror of a toddler he was.......I guess this is our reward!!

Congratulations, Dane!!!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I don't "get it"!

The following are things I don't "get" in life...about other people, about human behavior, about how we think, and just in general. Please keep in mind that this is MY blog and you are here voluntarily. If you don't like what I have to say, uh........too bad!!! Feel free to post comments and tell me I've totally lost my mind. :)

1) Why did two boys this morning totally miss the point of, "Can you guys watch your sisters while I take a shower?" The phrase "watch your sisters" was not intended to mean "watch them make a mess of the house", or "watch them fight over toys", or "watch them slam each others fingers in doors". In the future, I guess I will need to be more specific. I will try to use the phrase, "Watch your sisters AND INTERVENE as necessary...."

2) Why do people care whether Britney Spears and Kevin Federline are fighting or not this week? Why do people care if Madonna is adopting a child from Malawi? And why do people care if Angelina Jolie took her children with her to the grocery store today to buy lettuce? Let me make it clear here...I DON'T CARE!!!! I can, to a point, understand people's desire to know that the lives of the rich and famous have some of the same problems and issues that we ordinary folk do. I can, to a point, also understand that we all like to think that somewhere/somehow/some way there are people out there that do NOT have the same problems and issues that we ordinary folk do. But all it takes is one trip to the newstand these days to realize that we are WAY beyond that point. America is obsessed with the personal lives of famous people. I think its weird!!!

3) Someone explain hunting season to me. Keep in mind that I live in a rural community where, every fall, a large percentage of the male population dons orange and camouflage clothing, climbs into pickup trucks, and drives around the countryside with the intention of killing animals with firearms. I can relate to the desire to drive around "off the beaten track" and enjoy the country. I can relate to the desire to have an excuse to experience some time away from the house and go off and enjoy a hobby. For those who choose to enjoy this hobby only with other men and/or large quantities of beer, I can understand that, too. The part that I don't "get" is that it involves killing something. What is the point? DO NOT insult my intelligence by telling me that it is about feeding your family. If this was 1890, I'd accept that, but this is 2006 and we all get the vast majority of our meat from the grocery store. If you want to tell me that it is about celebrating your heritage, give me the gun and the truck, and start hiking with your bow and arrow. Maybe I'm the one thats weird here, but I'd rather be weird than view every deer and elk and try to imagine how he's going to look dead in the back of my truck. I like them better alive. Are there hunters that agree with me, but want to be a part of "the club" so they drive around all month and hope they never see anything that their buddy wants to shoot?

Just some things I think about...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Art of Procrastination

I should be working, but I don't want to, so I'm blogging instead. sssshhhhhh....

Halloween was a little bizarre and anti-climactic this year. I think our Halloween highpoint was carving our six pumpkins on Saturday evening and then watching "The Blair Witch Project" with the boys. Halloween itself consisted of the girls having parties at Day Care and Preschool in the morning, trick-or-treating after school around the downtown businesses, and then trick-or-treating at my parents' home and the home of Mike's boss. Dane had his first wrestling practice on Halloween, we had to pick him up at the school at 5:30, and it just didn't work out right schedule-wise to do what we normally do. We might have tried to extend the trick-or-treating a bit more, but Dane injured his foot at practice pretty good and we needed to get him home to evaluate the damage. (No permanent damage, but a fair amount of blood and a really nasty bruise. His entire big toe is about the color of grape juice right now. Really special!! I can post pictures if you want? Nah.....didn't think so. You wimps!!)

In any case, Halloween is over for another year. Next year, the girls will be 3 & 4 and will be a little easier. This year, we were still really on the edge of that nagging question in the back of your head that says, "Why are we stuffing our children in costumes that they don't want to wear and dragging them out to gather candy that they will never eat?"

Well.......While I've been blogging I haven't seen anyone show up and start working on my appraisal reports. Hmmmmmm. I guess I'm going to have to do them myself. Back to work.

Monday, October 30, 2006

A photo...but not of Jennica I'm not posting a new picture of Jennica. I had great plans, showed up early to pick her up at Day Care so I had plenty of time to play "paparazzi", but totally spaced on the fact that it would be getting dark an hour earlier. And it is suddenly COLD here. We got our first good frost last night, and at 4:30 this afternoon, it was pretty obvious that it is going to freeze again tonight. I decided that trying to get natural smiles out of a cold toddler was going to be miserable. Will try again on Wednesday. Tomorrow Jennica's schedule (and that of her chaffeur) is booked for trick-or-treating.

In any case, I did get a few good photos today, although they are totally unrelated to Jen. I had a home inspection in Timbuktu. Seriously--2 miles from the nearest paved road--I clocked it as I will need to note it in the report. But Timbuktu has some gorgeous fall leaves, so I took time to smell the roses, or photograph the leaves, as the case may be. :)

Happy Halloween tomorrow!!!

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Grant's team had their last game of the season today against Montesano...And THEY WON!!! It was very exciting!!! They played a very good game and this was their first win of the season!! They're really not as pitiful as that sounds--but our association team rules are drastically different than the teams we play, so we have consistently played our fourth and fifth graders against older/larger/more experienced kids. Today was a nice end to a difficult season!!

And then, this evening we carved pumpkins. The only person to lose any blood was Mike, so the kids are all still fully intact with fingers and hands. It still makes me nervous to hand the boys a knife and say, "Go for it!!" The girls were pretty fascinated and were willing to dig in and help with the gutting, but got bored pretty quickly since we obviously wouldn't let them carve. We ended up with six great pumpkins and good memories!!

The attached photos are my two favorites from the shoot yesterday with the boys in the park. I particularly like the one of Grant!!! As Jennica is still the hardest to get to hold still for any length of time, she is still the hardest to photograph. My goal for tomorrow is to shoot some new photos of her, so with any luck at all, I'll be adding those late tomorrow or Monday.

Happy Autumn!!

Friday, October 27, 2006

I have bats in my belfry tonight...

I'm tired tonight, but I have that ADHD feeling of my thoughts just racing. I worked super duper long hours on Wednesday and Thursday, in order to get some orders done. Last night, this required returning to the computer for a couple of hours after Dane's football game. And then when I decided I was done working, Jennica decided to wake up with a stomach ache and was up until after midnight. And then I had to be in Ocean Park this morning at 9:30 for another appraisal I'm working on. And then tonight I volunteered for two hours at the Halloween Carnival at the school and worked my fanny off being nice to children that wanted to throw quarters at my assigned target to win prizes.

But, strangely enough, I'm feeling very "enthused" about life in general today. Life is GOOD!

1) Dane lost his game last night, but it was the LAST game, so from the parent standpoint, it was still a celebration at the end. (He played the ENTIRE game, so he is very sore and tired today. But he also didn't have school today, so he got to sit on his rear and recuperate at complete and total leisure. His highpoint of the game was realizing that he had just mowed over one of his best buddies from his baseball team. He and Sam have been good baseball friends for the last couple of years, but attend different schools, so now that they are in Junior High, they will forevermore play on opposing teams. Dane thought it was hysterical that he flattened Sam on a good block.)

2) I'm doing GREAT at the moment on deadlines. In fact, I've even submitted some orders early. This is the first weekend in a while where I will not have the little midget in my brain, "PSSSTTT!! You should NOT be sitting in this chair!! You have work to do!!!"

3) Even though I had to be in Ocean Park early this morning, it was a GORGEOUS fall day!!! One of the homes that I had to inspect has an incredible ocean view, so I measured their huge decks very slooooowly and enjoyed listening to the crash of the waves and watching the gulls.

4) The Halloween Carnival was BUSY, so the two hours went very quickly. Plus, it was fun volunteering with so many of the other parents that I grew up and went to school with. Yes...Its true...Nobody sane ever really leaves here. And if we do, we come back. So if you are a graduate of RHS, WVHS, or SBHS, and you are living "off-campus", its because you are sane. The rest of us are only allowed brief field trips out of town.

5) And I got to indulge TWO of my favorite hobbies today. Napping.....ZZZZZ......and taking pictures. I was totally drawn today by the leaves outside, so I victimized my two eldest children and made them pose in the park downtown for me today. Pictures will be forthcoming shortly.

Grant and Mike's last football game is tomorrow and then we will be FREE. WAHOO!! (Picture me doing "snow angels" on the carpet here!!) Not sure what we're going to do with all of our newfound free time. Perhaps it is time to paint something. Like a wall. Or maybe I can find a new faucet to fix. Heh heh heh.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My name is "T"

Tiersten has recently become rather insistent that we call her "T". This has been an ongoing nickname around home for quite awhile, but I guess she's decided she really likes it. Mike snapped the enclosed photo of her this weekend and I think it is going to be one of my very favorites. Her glasses came in on Monday, but I haven't had a chance to take a picture of her in them yet. Maybe this evening.....In the meantime, enjoy our new photo of "T".

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Suddenly--I feel like Dane has really turned a corner in the "Age & Maturity Department." Junior High has been a big jump (bigger than I had expected) and he is really rising to meet the occasion. I am proud of him!! He has really worked hard in football, continues to pull excellent grades, and helps out around home without whining whenever he is asked. His developing sense of humor is a riot.

Around home, we have always called him "Dane-O". I'm not sure where it came from, but it started when he was very small. Sometimes its even "Dane-O Morano." Don't know where that came from either. I don't really notice when we call him that, but I know that we must still do it, because both girls sometimes call him "Dane-O" and they had to have picked it up from us. In any case, Dane now has a new nickname that I'm getting a real kick out of. And Dane seems to like it!!! It represents what he is and wants to be on the football field--"Dane-gerous". His coach has tagged him with this name and has even told him he should get it tatooed on his arm. I think we'll wait on the tattoo, but I like it!! He came home on a gameday a few weeks ago with it written in BIG silver letters on his forearm. He said that one of his friends had written it on his arm for him. :)

The two attached pictures are two of my very favorites of Dane. The first one was taken right at age two, and shows the mischievous grin that he still has. The second one shows him now, in a more serious moment.

Dane--I'm very proud of you. For the little boy you were, the teenager you are now, and the man you will be in the future. Love, Mom

New Photo of the girls

Mike took this photo of the girls on Sunday. They had climbed into a laundry basket together and he was quick and grabbed the camera. I really like it!!

Just for Susan

My older sister, Susan, HATES spiders! With a passion!! In fact, we have several family jokes surrounding her phobia. Tent checks with flashlights, shaking the mail off outside of the car before it enters the vehicle, watching her do a "crazy-person" dance if she felt a spider web on her......These were all a part of my childhood and growing up with Susan.

Now, being the delightful little sister that I was, I decided at a very young age that I LIKED spiders. I LOVED spiders!! All simply to irritate and annoy my older sister. Heh Heh Heh. I used to catch them and let them crawl all over me, refuse to kill one that might have found his way into my room and then take it a step further by naming him-- and anything else I could think of.

So yesterday, on my 38th birthday no less, I was measuring a house and had to squeeze between the building and a large rhododendron. Needless to say, I ended up wearing the spider web of an autumn sunshine-loving spider like a hat, and proceeded to do the "crazy dance" in the yard of a complete and total stranger. (For those of you that don't understand, the crazy dance comes unheeded with the assumption that you are probably also wearing the spider himself somewhere on your body.) I have to admit that I immediately thought of my sister. After that, I watched where I was walking much closer and took the attached photo of the next hairy beast that I saw. I'm still going to contend that I'm not afraid of spiders. I just didn't much like the unexpected feeling of his web in my hair and all over my face. YUCK!!!

So, dear elder sister, feel free to gloat and laugh at the mere thought of me dancing all over the yard of some stranger frantically grabbing at my hair and face. I admit it.....I've more than earned it for all the times I made fun of you. Love you, Big Sis!!! :) And to my other older sister, Marj, I'm still not sorry for all those times I locked you in the basement......yet. :) I'll blog about that another time...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Jennica and the Orange Highlighter

Anybody out there remember the "Harold and the Purple Crayon" books? I LOVED those books as a little girl. I don't think I ever had one of my own, but I remember checking them out at the library with my Mom. For those of you that are not familiar with them, the entire book(s) is always about Harold drawing some adventure with his purple crayon. Whatever he draws.....happens.

"Jennica and the Orange Highlighter" does not have the same ring to it, but it fit this weekend. On Saturday, she found one somewhere and had quite an adventure coloring her pants, shirt, socks, face, and hands. She didn't have any regrets whatsover, and the enclosed photo shows her proudly showing off the one little piece of paper that she colored.

Today, she took advantage of Mike and I both being busily involved with Tiersten and Grant, respectively, snuck into the boys' room, and found a black felt-tip pen. She wrote on their walls, closet doors, dresser, door, her hands and face, and a few other things. Luckily, this was not a pemanent marker, but still.......

Now...Let's be honest here. The obvious point to be made is that Jen needs to be more closely watched. I'll agree to that. However, its still frustrating when you think you have all the scissors, pens, etc. above her reach and she STILL manages to find something. Oh well...I guess thats what makes two.....well......age two, huh?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Being thankful

We've had kind of an odd couple of weeks around here. It seems like it has been very busy, but compared to some other weeks lately, its actually been a bit more leisurely. But still, I rather have that tired and rundown feel. I always seem to feel this way when the days begin to get noticeably shorter. I reach a point where I want to mow the lawn one last time before winter, and then curl up in a chair with an afghan and sleep for about four hours. With the sunshine coming through the windows. Aaahhhhhhh. Boy, that sounds nice......

In any case, we're not yet at a point where we can relax. We have a few more weeks left of football, some winterizing to do around the house and outdoors, and then we'll be there. To fight the "blues" today, I'm trying to remind myself of all the things I have to be thankful for. And I really do have LOTS of things. So here goes:
1) We only have a few weeks left of football. Hurray! Then maybe we can have meals together before 7 pm on weeknights. :)
2) All four of the kids are healthy and doing well in school/Day Care. I think I tend to take this one for granted and forget how hard it must be to have a child who struggles with health, behavioral, and/or academic issues.
3) Our house is safe, secure, roomy, and HOME. This winter's project will be painting and putting new flooring in the laundry room, but thats pretty minor compared to having a leaky roof, or....???
4) I work my own hours when I want and how I want. Not always quite as easy as that, but in the end, the decisions are MINE. Really caters to the "control freak" in me.

And last, but certainly not the least,
5) I have a wonderful husband to share this life with, to experience the ups and downs of parenthood with, and to be my best friend. Wouldn't want to do it without him!!!

I have so many other things to be thankful for as well, but these are the big ones on my mind today. What do you have to be thankful for?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Ramblings on school violence

After the occurrence of several school shootings in the past week, I'm finding that I'm bracing myself somewhat when I pull up my internet homepage. I rarely turn on the TV anymore, and have reached a point where 99% of my daily news connection comes through my computer screen. This entire school violence/shooting thing really bothers me...

To state the obvious, I'm sure the fact that I have three children in our local public school system, with one more to be joining them next year, contributes to why this issue literally hits so close to home for me. However, in acknowledging the larger picture, I also feel that we have to recognize that the importance of pursuing an education is so American. The American public school system is something we all tend to take for granted. The fact that our children will have the opportunity to be educated, cared for safely, transported home, etc. while at school is a given. Isn't it?

Violence in our schools MUST be stopped. I appreciate the efforts that our own home district has put in place to provide a more secure environment. Even though I'd enjoy the convenience of taking my pre-schooler in the back door of the school, I understand why it must remain locked and I'm willing to walk a little farther. But what can we do to help our school districts become more secure? We, as parents, need to step up to the plate and make suggestions. I need to acknowledge that, even though I attended the same school as my children a gazillion years ago, I am not exempt from the rules and need to make sure that I ALWAYS sign in as a visitor at the office. (I'm really bad about that one!) We need to help our school staff so that they know, at all times, who they have on school grounds. If we see a stranger in the hallways without a "visitor" badge, maybe we should ask if we can help them find something. If they respond strangely, REPORT them to the office. And don't tell me that we can't make a difference! There is no stronger group than parents and loved ones united for the cause of their children!!! If you don't believe me, face down a mad Mom at the principal's office sometime. :)

I'm going to personally devote myself to helping my school become more secure. Will you join me? And to those who have lost loved ones to school violence in the past days, weeks, months, and years...both the victims and the heart goes out to you. May peace be with you.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

"Daisy 'hebby' "

That phrase was one of the first things I heard today from Jennica--"Daisy 'hebby'." (Translation: Daisy is heavy.)

Daisy, our cat had the misfortune to have all of her food eaten by raccoons during the night, and was loitering on the front porch bright and early this morning, hoping for a generous serving of breakfast. Now, I use the term "misfortune" in two ways: 1) She was hungry due to the thieving masked bandits who swiped her food, and 2) it left her in a prime position to be an early morning victim of "toddler cat torture".

For Jennica, "cat torture" started at a young age. She was about 15 months old when we got two kittens and, from day one, she decided they were hers to do with as she pleased. Only one of the original two remains (No...We didn't let Jennica kill the kitten!), and that would be today's victim. For your viewing pleasure, I have included two photos of Jen with Daisy--one when Jen was about 17 months old, and one from this morning. Notice that all four of the cat's feet are off the ground in both photos and the comfort and safety of the cat do not appear to be a primary concern to Jen.

I have to admit that I also regularly participated in cat torture as a child. I made them ride in my doll strollers and buggies, dropped them from trees (lower branches, People...GEEZ...) to see if they truly did ALWAYS land on their feet, and on one particularly memorable occasion, my dear friend Melanie and I were determined to teach a cat to swim in the creek behind her house and proceeded to spend the better part of a day giving a cat swimming lessons. (You may be asking where the parents were during said swimming lessons, but think about it...We were probably 10, old enough not to drown ourselves or each other in the creek, and we were BUSY and leaving them alone. We were also probably old enough to know that a cat is not going to learn to swim, but we'll ignore that part.)

In any case, Daisy got away repeatedly this morning, only to be recaptured and drug around some more. While Jennica was occupied with the cat, I was actually able to get a few extra things done this morning before I hauled the kids off to school. I can justify turning a blind eye to these activities by pointing out that said cat has all claws intact and is perfectly capable of defending herself. And, second, its kind of touching to know that my daughter has inherited my love for cat torture at such an early age. With any luck, it will continue into adulthood. Oh... come on now.......don't tell me that you've never tickled a sleeping cats' ears or whiskers to see how long it takes before they get up and move......

Sunday, September 24, 2006

My New Job--Keeper of the Pictures

Over the weekend, I started to transition into my new job--Keeper of Nana's Pictures. When my mother mentioned bringing them to the Celebration of Life and letting family members go through them and take what they wanted, I protested loudly. My fear is that some of the pictures would disappear into Never Never Land, or worse. I'm also quite sure that there are some family photos that more than one of us are going to want. big plan is to scan them all in, save them to CD, and distribute copies of the CD to as many family members as want them. Sounds like a good plan, right?

My Mom gathered a number of photos and put them on a poster for everyone to view at the Celebration of Life. The photo included on this blog post is one of the photos from the poster, and one that particularly intrigues me. It is undated, but I'm estimating that Nana was in her teenage years when this was taken, which would place it circa 1925-1930. She looks SO different from the Nana I knew.

Eyes in the back of my head

I pulled a good trick on Tiersten not long ago. One that I hope has more than a "tad" of lasting influence over the coming years. It went like this...

One weekend at home, Dane and I were standing in the kitchen chatting. I was performing some myriad of chores, and he was talking to me about some upcoming plans he had. Tiersten was playing in the living room just a short distance away.

As I was cleaning, I stepped to the kitchen sink for a moment and happened to glance out the window. (Now...You have to understand that, from the kitchen window, I have a clear view of the sliding glass door that leads from our living room onto our deck.) Much to my surprise, I spotted Tiersten LICKING the sliding glass door with her tongue. I immediately spoke up, "Tiersten, please stop licking the glass!!"

In her three-year-old's dimension of the world, it never even crossed her mind that I had "busted" her by looking through the kitchen window. She instantly stopped licking the window with this shocked look on her face and came walking over to the kitchen, where I managed to keep a straight face and informed her, "All Moms have eyes in the back of their heads and I could see you." I could tell from the look on her face that she totally believed me and I haven't seen her licking any windows or glass doors since then.

Of course, Dane at 13, no longer believes I have eyes in the back of my head and was trying desperately not to laugh through the whole thing. He knew exactly how I had caught her!! As Tiersten walked back to the living room, he whispered to me, "You are SO mean!!"

I may be mean, but at this stage, I really WANT Tiersten to believe I have eyes in the back of my head. Call it an extra boost to her conscience. It's fine with me if she thinks I can see her from anywhere. :)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Epilogue of Husky Stadium

Just a few days before heading to Husky Stadium with Grant's football team, we found out that we would only be allowed one digital camera in the stadium for the entire team. I was quickly appointed to be team photographer, and I have to admit that I had a blast. It has taken me a full week to edit the 286 photos! I hope you'll click on the montage at the lower right-hand side of the screen to view some of those photos set to music.

All in all, it was a great experience! The boys were fantastic and I was proud to be a part of the group. And other than a near-miss of being almost run over by the Husky's All-American Punter during our scrimmage, I'm so glad I had the opportunity to be down on the field with the kids. (He had the nerve to look annoyed at the "Football Mom" crouched in the middle of the field with the camera. LOL.)

I hope that our Willapa Loggers continue to have great success in the future--both on and off the football field.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

It takes a secure teenager...

For weeks, I have been harassing Dane about trying on my 25-year-old Junior High Cheerleading skirt with his Junior High Game Jersey. He has resisted.....until tonight. I caught him in a weak moment and made sure I had the camera ready. It takes a secure teenager to let his mother do this to him!! LOLOL

Family converging from far and wide...

This weekend will be my Nana's "Celebration of Life." I rather like that phrase, as it represents her passing in a more positive light, as it should. She had a long and glorious life, and we SHOULD celebrate it.

For this momentous occasion, my very large extended family is all converging upon my small hometown. Since I live here, I am fortunate that this event will not require lengthy travel of my immediate family. My boys will still be able to participate in their normal football games at the end of this week. I'm glad that we're not going to have to make any big decisions about which commitment takes precedence, as we have stressed to the boys for years that being part of a team means that you are THERE for your team, and that could have been difficult.

In any case, my sisters will both be in town this weekend. One is driving a good distance, and the other flying a great distance with husband and sons. My many cousins are coming from far and wide--many of whom I don't see much--and I'm looking forward to having them here. We are quite a large crowd, in one place at one time, and it's always great fun. It brings back memories of big holiday celebrations from years' past with all the noise and ruckus we could muster. Nana's passing is turning into a great family reunion, and despite the fact that I feel a little conflicted that her death will be a party of sorts, I think she would have liked it this way. There will be laughter, children running everywhere, and lots of food. Yes.......Nana would have wanted it this way.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Tribute to Nana

February 19, 1912 - September 13, 2006
My grandmother passed away last night. She was a wonderful, delightful little Swedish lady and we will all miss her dearly.
When I was about 8, my Nana moved into a little house just down the road from my parents home. My parents live at the end of a dead-end road and Nana's house was located between their house and the closest arterial, where I caught the school bus. Therefore, every time we went anywhere growing up, we had to go past Nana's house. When I walked to and from the school bus, I had to pass her house, which made it convenient to stop in and grab a cookie, a can of 7up, or whatever other treat she might be offering that day. She was a part of my daily life during my growing up years, only if it was a wave from her porch or yard. That means a lot to me looking back.
The things I will remember most about Nana were her love for drives to the beach, hamburgers, and lottery tickets. She made the best ripple-stitch crocheted afghans in the world. And the newest baby in the family was always the cutest and the smartest baby she'd ever seen. She sang a funky little "doot-le-doot" song when we bounced on her lap that I always recognize when I hear, but can never remember exactly how it goes. For years, I spent every Wednesday evening with her while my parents went to choir practice and she always let me watch whatever I wanted on TV.
A few months ago when she moved out of her home and into assisted living, I was fortunate to inherit a real prize--her piano. It needs tuning and some other work, but I wouldn't have passed it up for anything and I'm honored to have it in my home.
Nana's journey here has ended, but she will live on forever through her children(3), grandchildren(11), great grandchildren(18), and great-great grandchildren(1). My life is richer for every minute I spent with her. She will be missed, but never forgotten. Although I'm a little sad and nostalgic today, I can't help but smile as I think of her being reunited in heaven with her parents, brothers, son, and husband--all of whom she lost too soon. And in her heaven, she will be swimming in the Willapa with her brother George, playing hide-and-go seek amongst the logs on the docks, gardening up a storm, and brewing a good Swedish cup of coffee. We love you, Nana!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tiersten goes to school

Tiersten had her first day of 3-year-old preschool today! She was pretty excited...I will be taking her to school every morning and then she will ride the bus to her Day Care. She threw a big fit when they got to the Day Care today because she didn't want to get off the bus. Sigh...Oh well, it will take her a few days to get used to the new routine. In any case, she had a GREAT time and was very excited tonight because she gets to go back tomorrow.

Monday, September 11, 2006

PROOF of a miracle

The attached photos are living proof of miracles!! Jennica actually held still long enough for me to put two little braids in her hair this morning. The first one was easy. The second one was a lot more difficult but, with one done, I had the courage to hang in there and prevailed in the end. She wasn't real happy about the camera. I snapped the first photo before she realized what I was doing, and then buried her face in her bed. But its progress.......Usually at the first sign of a hair brush, she clasps her arms over the top of her head and says, "NO, Momma!"

Monday, September 04, 2006

Grant's first football game

September 16th is Grant's first football game. Ever. He just turned 11, is heading into the fifth grade, and is playing for the Willapa Loggers this year.

On September 16th, they were scheduled to play Montesano in Shelton. The first big game of the season. However, that is not going to happen. You see, Grant's team has been invited to play at Husky Stadium instead. As in...University of Washington--Seattle--where the Seahawks played while Qwest Field was being built. They will be playing before the Husky game starts. They get to run through the tunnel and the whole works. WOW!!!

Mike, as you all know, is Grant's head coach. Knowing that Dane would be horribly jealous of his little brother's good fortune, he has assigned Dane to the "chain gang" for the afternoon to measure for yardage as needed. So Dane will also get to feel the roar of the crowd and the turf beneath his feet and be right on the sidelines, which is far better than viewing it from the stands. ('re the best.)

His VERY first football game ever in Husky Stadium? How do you go "up" from there? WOW!

The light at the end of the tunnel...I hope!

The last few weeks have not been my greatest and brightest. In early August, we took a week-long family vacation to Eastern Oregon and Idaho, knowing full well that we had many things to accomplish when we returned. Knowing it and living through it have turned out to be two different things.

First of all, since I am self-employed, I expected to take on a little extra work through late August to make up for the week's income that I had missed while on vacation. No big deal, right?

Second of all, Mike and boys all started football practice when we got back. A few hours in late afternoon/evening several days per week. Manageable, right?

Third, we needed to paint the exterior of our house. Yes.........its large, but not a three-story monstrosity hanging off the side of a cliff, so shouldn't be a problem, right? atttitude about all these pending activities during pre-vacation was that we would just "buck up and do it." Make a list of things to do, check them off as we go, and we'd make it through. Onward and upward and all that jazz. It has not gone that smoothly and I'm really wishing we could rewind the past several weeks, but in reality, I'm not sure what we would have done differently.

Yes.....I accepted some extra work. And yes, we started on painting the house and all the boys started football. What we didn't count on was that Jennica was going to deal with massive ear infections through August that refused to respond to antibiotics, and that we would end up with two trips to Mary Bridge, two trips to two different Emergency Rooms, ear surgery for tubes and removal of a blood clot. She is doing very well with recovery, and we are grateful for having the resources that we can provide that level of medical care for our children without financial worries, but its been stressful and time-consuming with so many other half-started things going on.

In the meantime, the extra work that I had accepted has rather built up and I'm desperately now trying to catch up. I already have a ton of work lined up for September and am still trying to dig myself out of August.

And lastly, my personality is such that I can NOT live in this house all winter with half of it painted. Can't do it. A rational person could sit down and admit that they've taken on too much and figure out what needs to be done and prioritize. I'm not rational with some things and this definitely qualifies. I explained to Mike that I knew of a family years ago that people referred to as the Tyveks. They were not Willapa Harbor natives, nobody knew their last name, and they had started a home re-siding project and never finished it. After a lengthy time of having exposed Tyvek with no siding on the exterior of their home, they became known in the neighborhood as "The Tyveks". I have an intense fear of being that family--the ones that people refer to as " know, that house down the road that has been half gray and half green for a while??"

So........point being...........I could use a REALLY good prescription. We busted our fannies this weekend and the house is now all green. Decks still need stained, gutters still need put up, and some other things. I still have several appraisal reports to complete today, as tomorrow is a LONG day in the field with my first big string of September jobs due in the coming days. My appraisal license expires shortly and I still have an on-line class to complete before my license can be renewed, so I've already booked two days for this month to take care of that. Jennica is due back for a re-check on the ears at Mary Bridge in a few weeks, so that will be another day away from home and office. School starts tomorrow. Football speeds up now and will hit full gear with Dane's first game on September 14th and Grant's first game on the 16th (more on Grant's first game in a later post).

So.......I need to get back to work and quit typing this. And I owe Mike a big thank you for not making me sleep in the shed with the dogs this weekend when I got *itchy. Had the situation been reversed, I'm not sure I would have been as understanding. I'm going to try to buck up and do better. And hopefully, that little bright spot in the distance is the light at the end of the tunnel and not just a glare ricocheting around in my brain.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fanatical for Football

The three males in my home are becoming aliens. Mike, the oldest "boy", is head-coaching Grant's football team this year. This is Grant's first year playing (ever) and its hard to tell who is more excited. Dane will be playing Junior High Football this year. Suddenly, our home is full of new literature (playbooks) and a whole new vocabulary like "20 power through the 3 hole" and "I-right formation". ???

Yesterday evening, I found myself at a Parent Meeting for Junior High Football players. The coach explained to us the risks of death and injury, and then we all smiled as the boys headed up to be fitted for helmets. Is it just me, or is there something wrong with this picture? Death and injury.........."Head on up, Son." ?????????

In any case, high school football was a small part of my upbringing. Days getting games........leaves crunching. Its all part of autumn in my mind. But the youngest of three daughters, I can honestly say that I didn't realize that I was missing part of the experience. Now, to my autumn experiences, I guess I will have to add to the list the fact that my husband and sons turn into aliens in cleats, and my laundry room becomes filled with grass-stained football pants and sweaty socks, and every conversation turns into a discussion on football. Ahhhh.........BOYS!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Body part names

As I've already mentioned, Tiersten has an ability to put words together in ways that just crack us up. Last night, she came up with a new spin on this, which I will explain...

First of all, you have to understand that my husband, Mike, is a tad uncomfortable with the whole concept that his little girls are someday going to be women. He doesn't want to think about it, be reminded of it, or really......have to deal with it in any way at this point. Which generally works pretty well right now, considering that they are only ages 2 & 3.

However, last night as I was helping Tiersten out of the bath tub, she points to her nipple and says, "What's this?" I very matter-of-factly state, "That is your nipple," and continue to dry her off. She gets this very indignant look on her face and stomps out of the bathroom, leaving me standing there holding the towel. When I hollered after her and asked her where she was going, she yelled back over her shoulder, "Going to tell Daddy!" Of course, I followed her.

Mike was in the girls' room putting pajamas on Jennica, when in stomps Tiersten. She marched right up to him and said, "Daddy, this is NOT my body. This is called a nipple." And pointed at her chest. By this time, I'm standing in their bedroom door, having heard the whole thing, and am trying not to laugh.

Mike somehow managed to confirm that she was right with a very straight face, and she even made him apologize, I think, for having told her it was called her "body".

Oh...........out of the mouths of babes. :) I can hardly wait until she moves in the general direction of her feet.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Tiersten is our oldest daughter. Only one year and six days older than Jennica, they are as close as.......well........close. I never totally understood parents that described their daughters as something like, "4 going on 14". With Tiersten, I get it!! She is a little girl and "trying to be all grown up" all in the same package.

Tiersten joined our family at 16 months of age. Like Jennica, she was removed from birth parents at an early age. Despite a start in life that could be considered less than ideal, Tiersten has overcome it all and is a thriving three-year-old. She definitely keeps us on our toes!!

When thinking about Tiersten, a couple of things come to mind. First, she is the type of beautiful that makes you think "Age 13" and "locking her in a closet" all in the same thought. See photo above. I'll say no more. Second, Tiersten is one of those children who has the ability to come up with the most delightful phrases ever! I'm going to make a list of them below and add to them as they happen. We call them "tiersten-isms".

My favorite Tiersten-isms:

Absolutely #1: "I have a 'bless you' on my arm!!" (Right after sneezing on her arm.....YUK. But funny nonetheless.)

New One!! Added October 3, 2006: "This is called your 'trouble finger'!" (While holding up the middle finger all by itself. I'd love to know where she heard this one, but I didn't want to show any reaction, as then she would repeat it over and over and over!)

New One!! Added November 13, 2006: "Daddy, why isn't the 'yelling light' on?" (After a few questions, Mike figured out that the "yelling light" is our bathroom fan. We're not sure if she calls it the yelling light because we raise our voices to be heard over it, or because its noisy...but either way, its funny!)

Brothers for life

A friend and co-worker once gave me a little plaque that simply read, "Mothers of boys work from son up to son down." At this very moment, I can't find it and I miss it, for being a mother of my two boys is one of my greatest accomplishments to date.

First, there is Dane. He is 13 now, and very quickly nearing me in height. He is intelligent, funny, and reaching that point where he is really his own person. He is very good with his little sisters and his baby-sitting skills are invaluable. He is also outspoken and stubborn, with a passion for football that surprises me. During toddlerhood, he was so aggressive, that we worked hard at teaching him that it was inappropriate to express himself physically and that he needed to "use his words". By age five, he had swung far the other direction, and was horrified by children who hit and shoved in play. Now.......he seems to be finding a healthy balance in getting vast enjoyment out of smashing other people on the football field, while retaining his mild manners away from the game. Go figure!!

And then there is Grant. At age 11, he is known by others to be extremely quiet and reserved. He is brilliantly, frighteningly intelligent (especially in mathematics), but few people get a glimpse of it. At home, he is hilariously funny, and yet sensitive. He has little tolerance for people who can't get along, or people who can't abide by basic rules. He is always so excited about the future and is always looking toward the next adventure with relish--a trait we could all use more of.

Together, the boys are (and always have been) a strong pair. Oddly, they have never fought. Ever. They will, on very rare occasions, bicker about the move of some creature or other in some computerized game, but NEVER have I seen them fight. And if you take on one of them, you'd better be prepared to take them both on!!!

My boys are BROTHERS,in the strongest sense of the word. The best of friends and each others' fan club. Can we clone them??? :)

The most humbling day of my life

Through an unexpected series of events that I'll probably blog about at some point, my husband and I adopted our two young daughters through foster care. Each of them is a miracle in her own right, and has a miraculous story about how she joined our family, which I will also share at some point. But for this post, I want to focus on a single day of Jennica's life, the circumstances that led us to that place, and the profound effect that this single day had on the outlook I have about my life.

First of all, Jennica was removed from her birth family at the hospital when she was born and placed into foster care. At seven weeks of age, she came to live with us, as a foster child with a high chance for permanent adoption. We were a family looking to adopt a young toddler or infant. Hence, a perfect match. But, as there usually is with foster-adopt children, there were some risks. First, her birth parents were both developmentally disabled and there was a possibility that she would have inherited some developmental issues. Second, she was their third child and both of her siblings were in permanent placement with family members on the East Coast and both of them had varying levels of autism. And third, there was still a chance that the East Coast family members would have a chance to step forward and request custody of her at any time during the coming 12 months before her adoption could be complete with us. Scary? Absolutely!!! But after a devastating miscarriage and my subsequent infertility, we were desperate to raise a child and willing to take the risks. We saw the potential for disabilties as something that is a possibility with every pregnancy and every human being. If this was our biological child born disabled, we would certainly not reject them. So why reject this beautiful baby girl??? As for the family on the East Coast, we were just going to have to pray that they would make the decision to let her remain on the West Coast with us.

To make a long story short, Jennica had ups and downs through her first year. Her development proceeded in fits and starts, and we worried incessantly. We pursued every available avenue for infant testing, therapy, and developmental intervention. To say we were "pro-active" is probably putting it mildly. Our goal was simply to give this baby girl the absolute best chance at the highest functioning life she could ever have. If that was a normal life.....wonderful. If it was somewhat less than normal, we would give her every opportunity to excel to her utmost potential. And during the whole time, we continued to pray that the distant family she had never met would not express a desire to take her, and prayed that the adoption would proceed.

A full fourteen months after taking custody of her, the big day arrived. FINALLY, on August 19th, 2005, her birth name was changed to Jennica Angelie Stevens. Our angel baby was irrefutably and inarguably OUR DAUGHTER!!!

We had long planned that when she was 18 months old, we would return (we had already been there once with her) to our region's very best children's hospital for a developmental evaluation. The appointment was set, and the day arrived. Now, keep in mind...Jen is the youngest of four children. It is a rare occurence for us to be able to spend the entire day alone with just one of our children. So...we started out the day with a bit of a "party mood". Just us and Jen. WAHOO!!!

We traveled the hours from our home to the hospital, found our way to where we needed to be, and began the exasperating experience of a day of medical appointments with an impatient and strong-willed 18-month old. She's bored with the waiting and wants to run the hallways. She finds a toy truck somewhere and clings to it while she is weighed. (The nurse, bless her heart, wisely chooses not to wrestle the truck away and writes the weight in the chart with a note that states "including toy truck".) Jennica discovers that she can open the exam room door and bolts down the hallway at every opportunity, usually yelling at her greatest volume, as the hallway has the most delightful echo. And she is far more interested in wadding the exam room paper, which crackles and crinkles loudly, than she is in looking at the book that the therapist wants her to point out pictures in...

And suddenly, in the midst of my exasperation, I begin to notice the other children present in the waiting rooms and hallways. Wheelchairs abound. Facial features and limbs are "different" with disabilties that are unknown to me. And I begin to realize that some of these other parents may never chase their child down a hospital hallway. They may never see their child scream "MINE!!!" when a nurse thinks about taking a small toy away. And their lives are interrupted daily by therapy visits and hospital appointments. As our day continues, and Jennica becomes less and less patient, we begin to tire of passing her back and forth to try to entertain her. And then I suddenly realize how fortunate I am to share my parenting experience with a willing and involved father. I see another mother balancing 2 children and a diaper bag and a wheelchair alone and hope for her that there is at least someone to help at home. And I am humbled beyond tears with the child in my arms that is struggling to be put down, the husband beside me who is packing a juice cup and a diaper bag, and I think of the other three, healthy children we have at home. I think of our weekly schedule of football games, soccer games, etc. and feel guilty for the times when I have recently wished we could just have a quieter life. How many of these parents in this hospital will never see their child chase after a soccer ball?

When we left that day, Jen's attention was drawn to the shiny, mylar balloons at the gift shop on the first floor. Of course, we stopped and bought her one, tied it to her wrist, and watched her bounce across the parking lot outdoors, fascinated by the movement of the balloon above her head. While I smiled at her antics, I found myself also thinking of the parents in the windows above us who, just once, would like to see their child dance with a balloon.

We left that day with a healthy diagnosis. Jennica's development, now almost a year later, continues to be normal and on track. She is a rowdy, obnoxious, strong-willed 2-year old, with huge brown eyes and a smile that melts our hearts every single day. She is truly a miracle--the only member of her immediate biological family without major developmental delays.

To the parents that we saw that day, you touched my life forever and made me appreciate what I have. I was humbled by a brief glimpse into your daily lives. May you be blessed with love, peace, and wisdom. I still get exasperated, exhausted, and plain old worn-out sometimes from keeping up with our busy lives. But that day changed my life with a view of a much different perspective.

Michael Blaine

My first real post...Mike has no idea that I'm starting this blog and I don't intend to tell him until I get a few things on here. But, then again, I never seem to be able to keep things from him, so we'll see how I do. If this goes as planned, I'll tell him in a week or so, after I've written down some of the special things that we've experienced in the past few years.

In any case, I am so thankful to have this man in my life to share the chaos. There are very few people who know the entire story of how the "we" came into being, and one of the miracles of my life is that we are together at all. I hate to use worn-out phrases like "meant to be", but it took a monumental effort to move some of the necessary roadblocks to be where we are today. Out of that period of our lives, came a dedication to each other and an appreciation for what our love can endure, and for those things I am eternally grateful. To those who didn't understand the sacrifices, and still don't, I hope that someday you find a passion worth fighting for.

And to Michael, I love you yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Thank you for the times when you keep your mouth shut even when you don't want to, and thank you for the times when you open it and put something in perspective (even when I don't like it). Thank you for supporting me, when you agree with my decisions and even when you don't. Thank you for being the father you are to our children, and for the friend you will be in their future. Thank you for making mistakes and being a jerk sometimes, because it allows me permission to make mistakes and be a jerk sometimes. Three words, five phrases...every step of the way. Honey.....I think we jumped!!

And when I get irritable in the next few months while you're busy coaching football and get home late from practice and run out the door to work the next morning, and when I get downright bitchy after a game--Just know that I LOVE that you're coaching Grant's team. I enjoy watching you with the team, I enjoy watching the hours of effort you put into game plans and all that I see behind the scenes. I WANT you to coach--but trying to entertain two toddlers with enough snacks and juice to last a football game, without either of them falling off the bleachers, AND keeping up with the business and the house and all the other stuff we do, sometimes turns me into a grouch. Just give me a hug and a kiss, tell me you love me, and give me 30 minutes of peace and quiet, and I'll be ready for the next week of practices and games. :)