Thursday, September 30, 2010

Vacation (Part 1)

Where we braved a nine hour drive with all the kids crammed into our overstuffed minivan.


As a homeschooling mom, anytime I can combine a good deal, a learning experience, and a chance to visit good friends, with vacation, I will have to jump on it. No little car ride is going to stand in the way of such an opportunity:) I miraculously was able to load our aging van with all the accouterments for our young brood without the use of a car top carrier. Dh came home early on Friday afternoon to find that I had the car and its passengers loaded and ready to go, despite the added workload of two sick kids and a sick husband. Granted, I was beyond overtired, but we were ready for our much needed vacation.
(Yes, Gabe and Joseph are sleeping in this picture. This stroller was such a blessing on this trip.)

The first leg of our journey, was a stopover in Washington D.C. where we were blessed to stay and visit with a dear friend, do a little site-seeing, and a lot of walking. We were taken on a tour of the Dominican House of Studies, where we did our best to keep a couple rambunctious two-year-olds in check after a long car ride and late night. The girls had been told by a friend to keep an eye out for the cool chairs, I hope she likes this picture of the kids in the chairs. During meals, we were able to visit with many of the brothers who have visited our parish each year to help with VBS.
We are so fortunate to have such a good friend in Fr. P. He said Mass for us both days we were there in the small private chapel. It was so nice to be able to focus a little more on Mass and a little less on whether or not our little ones were disrupting those around us. We have had two wonderful visits with him in the last few months and both of them brought me such needed peace.

Peaceful would probably not be the word the others sharing our wing in the House of Studies would use. There was a young man discerning a vocation there with us over the weekend. We joked that it was a clever trick to put a family with all these little ones so close to him. After having to listen to little ones up at all hours, and then having Joseph barge in on him in the wee hours of the morning, I am sure he is one step closer to that priestly vocation :)


Speaking of vocations, the girls each had their own little room and enjoyed pretending they were nuns in their cells. At home they clamor to make a bed in our room, but there they were more than excited to stay on their own.


While I enjoyed seeing all the beautiful monuments D.C. has to offer, it was the company and hospitality that brought joy and peace to a vacation that required more work than any previous vacation. It certainly is very different to travel with six children (four of whom are under the age of 5), and I was thankful we had the help of friends to lend a hand.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Great Cable Debacle

Last year, at the close of college football season, we canceled our cable subscription. We only watched three channels, The Food Network, EWTN (the girls especially enjoy their cartoon shows), and any station broadcasting a college football game. Dh had these grand plans of watching all these things via the Internet. So, with all the money we were saving, we (he) purchased more and more equipment to hook our computers to the tv. All of this is a little beyond my technical knowledge (and for that matter-- interest), and I simply observed as packages started arriving. Cordless keyboards, little doohickeys with cords, new hard drives to hold the downloads, etc. Countless evening he spent on this endeavor.

The girls could indeed watch their EWTN shows. They also started the Leave It To Beaver series. We have simply done without the Food Network, which has given us less screen time. Dh and I also watched downloaded shows, which we enjoyed. We could watch them on our time schedule and the quality was really pretty decent. I should note we own old, ancient tvs and none of them are HD so our expectations are low. All in all, we were happy not paying that cable bill.

Then college football season began. Dh had done quite a bit of research and the Thursday night season starter approached. That night we had a tailgate dinner, we were all dressed in our game day gear, revved up for the start of the season. He couldn't get it to work. We missed the kick-off, and most of the first quarter. He did eventually get it working, but the quality was not there, even with our low expectations. By half-time he was on the phone with the cable company discussing our options.

Since we were going on vacation (blog posts forthcoming), he scheduled our installation for cable (and Internet) in late September. And since we didn't need double coverage Internet coverage, he canceled that as well. We would use our city's Wifi coverage for the few days without Internet access. Unfortunately, dh did something more typical of his dw (me), he scheduled the installation for late October, not late September as he thought.Here we are, using the city Wi-fi which is h.o.r.r.i.b.l.e, I can barely get logged into the girls' school, and every page required 2-3 refreshes before it actually comes up.

I have all these great vacation pictures to post and a few other posts in the works, and none of it matters because I can't get to anything. Even this post will be long and dry, without pictures, because I have to disconnect and reconnect and deal with a poor connection to get to them.

After much wrangling and many, many, many calls, my wonderful dh has somehow managed to get an overbooked cable company to come to my rescue. They will be installing this afternoon. I will be able to get the girls' school back on track, able to catch up on email, hopefully able to get out a few posts, and most importantly able to watch this Saturday's Big Ten opener.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Peace


There never was a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him asleep.-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, September 13, 2010

6 Month Post Adoption Report

(Yes, I am well aware Joseph has been home for almost 8 months now. I am late, again. The report was only a little late, the blog post about it is really late.)

It is amazing to me how quickly these months with Joseph have flown. The busy-ness (the birth of Gabe, my sister's healing heart, learning to run a house that has expanded quite quickly, etc.) of our early days with him make that time seem surreal. I'll never forget pulling the van up to the curb of the airport to greet an exhausted little boy not sure what to make of this next stop in his journey. An almost two-year old boy who had known too many homes, too many caregivers, and not enough love.
He responded very similarly to Juliana and in many ways shut down. Dh was remarking how serious his countenance was in almost all the early photos we have of Joseph. These first six months with him, he has come out of shell. He smiles often now, he laughs, he wants attention. It is amazing to think of how much he has changed in such a short time. Being with him each day, and watching this gradual transformation, it hardly seems like it has only been six (ok eight) months. Then, looking back at those early pictures, he hardly seems like the same little boy.
He has also gained so many skills to go along with his budding personality. He now helps get himself dressed. In the early days, dressing him was painful. He was limp and we would have to push his arms and legs into his clothes. Now, he looks forward to pushing his arms through, and the only trouble is getting him to be still. He especially likes trucks, cars, anything with wheels, and he loves to see these machines on his clothes. He even has a favorite pair of truck jammies and sleeps with a toy truck in hand.
He also has learned to run and jump. This is good when at the park, not so good at evening prayers. He has learned to use a fork, sometimes. He eats like a champ and has now taken to pointing to others' plates when he is finished with his own, hoping to be given their leftovers.
Perhaps my favorite early memory of Joseph will be how much he loves to go to Church. The minute the van pulls up and he recognizes where we are, he laughs and has a look of pure joy. He tugs and pulls on our hands to get in as quickly as possible. He smiles at everyone he passes and tries to shake hands with anyone he meets. He especially likes the holy water fonts and as we pass each one (typically we pass four on the way to our pew), he earnestly submerges his entire hand into the font, splashes a little, pulls out his hand, and does his version of the sign of the cross. Inevitably, he ends up quite doused in holy water. I would like to say his behavior during Mass is just as sweet, but we are talking about a two-year-old rambunctious little boy. We do our best, and it is getting better, but dh usually leaves Mass feeling like he had been in battle.
Yesterday someone commented on how much Joseph was growing. I told her he was getting taller and monkey-er, and that pretty much sums up his first six (eight) months with us. What a blessing to have this little monkey and the infectious joy he brings to every one he meets.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Today's Post Is Brought to You By the Letter S

Surgery
Soccer
Schooling
Squirmy Seven-Month Olds
Scared Sons

What do these have in common? They are the cause of my current state of sleep deprivation...

My sister had her surgery to take out her LVAD early yesterday morning. From all reports, she is doing well and has already been able to get up and walk. This is such wonderful news. I am really looking forward to seeing her tonight. Last night, when I saw her she was still pretty groggy and sedated. It will be nice to see her with fewer tubes, not to mention without a heart pump. Thank you all for all the prayers you have offered on her behalf. I was able to see her before the surgery, but you know it is early when you try to stop at a coffee shop on the way to the hospital and they are all closed. It might be too late for coffee, but it should never, ever, be too early :)

Soccer season has also officially begun. This coincides with the reinstatement of Mom's taxi service. It also means early dinner preparations, no evening chores (my laundry is mounting), and poor dad is left with almost all bedtime duties.

School is also in full-swing here. I am getting better at managing little ones while keeping the older ones focused. It is a daily battle and some days are better than others, but the important thing is that progress is being made. Now, throwing in the housework is probably going to throw a wrench in the whole thing (have I mentioned how out of control the laundry is getting?).

My squirmy seven month old is getting teeth and becoming a real Mommy's boy. All this I could handle since he is about the cutest thing this side of the Mississippi. The trouble is he wants to nurse all-night-long. The new teeth make this especially uncomfortable for me.

As if one kid keeping me up half the night weren't enough, Joseph has decided to fill the other half of the night. He seems to be looking for reassurance someone will come if he calls. For the last two weeks, he has woken up somewhere in the wee hours of the morning and if we don't run quickly, he pulls Juju into the mix.

So please Letter S, bring me some sound sleeping soon :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bear's Vocabulary Lessons

Bear, my budding third grader, is becoming a real wordsmith.
She also does a great flamingo imitation :)

While peach picking last weekend, we drove past a field of grazing sheep. Dh called out to all the kids crammed in the back of our van to take a look at them. As we approached the end of the field we also noticed an alpaca in the middle of a group of resting sheep. Banana calls back to him and asks what an alpaca is. Bear doesn't miss a beat and quickly retorts that an alpaca is a "PACK" of sleeping sheep.
I know this is a goat (not an alpaca), but I'll use any excuse to post a cute picture of my handsome dh :)

In a completely unrelated conversation, we were discussing what an easy baby my little Gabe has been. Of course then all the children wanted to know where they ranked on my newborn difficulty scale. Gabe has hands down been my easiest, but he was preceded by my most difficult. Little Bophie caused me much angst as a newborn, especially with her bouts of colic. Later Bophie asked her much wiser older sister, Bear, what colic was. Bear, again not missing a beat, told her it was something you have when you are a baby and it turns your tongue yellow. Poor Bophie was incredulous at the idea her tongue was yellow.
This has to be one of my all-time favorite pics. It is Banana and Bear with my colicky little Bophie.

Where does she come up with these things?