Thanks for stopping by! We were a family of three, until we added one more (cat, that is), making us a family of four. In 2012, we added four more...one husband, two girls, and a dog. We have a full plate as a party of eight!

Adoption, blended families, pets, school, running...it's all here. Pull up a chair and read a while. After you do, please leave a little comment love! It makes me happy...and y'all know...if Momma is happy, then everyone is happy...at least at our house!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Cat Who Answers the Phone

Seriously...Hannah Cat answers the telephone. If she is sleeping on the sofa when the phone rings, she bolts up, eyes wide open, looks around and makes a mad dash for the source of the nap interruption. Then, she hooks her paw under the receiver and pulls it off. If that doesn't work, she grabs the cord between her teeth and pulls. If we are upstairs when the phone rings, I have to race her to the telephone in my bedroom. Unfortunately, she can leap across my bed in a single bound. I can't.

The only bad thing in all of this is when she does it while I am at work. Gloria and I can come home at the end of the day and find the receiver off the hook and half of a message on the answering machine. It's the first thing Gloria checks for when we walk in the door.

I keep thinking...if only I could get this on video...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Time for Some Wrapping

This afternoon, we started wrapping. We weren't wrapping presents though. Every year, in time for the first Sunday in Advent, I wrap up all of my Christmas books--usually in purple tissue paper (the color of Advent), but they are in white this year because I couldn't find any purple. Then, each night after dinner, we unwrap one and read it together. I started doing this five years ago. When Gloria was little, she thought it was exciting just to rip the tissue paper apart and find a book inside. (Good practice for Christmas morning, too!) Now, she starts asking when we are going to wrap the Christmas books as soon as November hits. Over many years, I have collected some really wonderful books. I have my favorites and Gloria has her favorites. (And one she avoids at all cost..."The Grinch") Some of them are the traditional, Biblical story of Christmas. Others are more secular in nature. Some are whimsical and others are simple. But, this has become a holiday tradition at our house.

Here are some of our favorites:
  • A Christmas Story by Brian Wildsmith
  • The Nativity illustrated by Julie Vivas
  • Gloria, The Christmas Angel by Scott Anthony Asalone
  • The Last Straw by Fredrick H. Thury
  • Jinglebugs
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas with cut-outs by Robert Sabuda
  • The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston, illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!


We have so much to be thankful for today. Family and friends, warmth and happiness, toys and books, days and nights, and so much more. We love y'all!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Adopt-a-_____(fill in the blank)

Earlier this month, I wrote about November being Adoption Awareness Month. As such, I want to address the "adopt-a-_____" campaigns that we so often see when groups are soliciting donations or seeking other kinds of support.

You've seen them:
  • Adopt a Highway
  • Adopt a Stream
  • Adopt a Zoo Animal
  • Adopt an Angel (providing gifts at Christmas time)
Now, the actual projects themselves don't bother. Rather it is the use of adoption that bothers me. I understand that these, or projects like them, are all worthy causes, but I have to question the use of "adopt-a-_____" as part of the name. As an adoptive mother, I believe that "adopt-a-_____" misuses a very special, potent word and can add to the public's misunderstanding of adoption.

I do not believe that employing "adopt-a-_____" is meant to deliberately misuse the word or lesson the true meaning of adoption. Instead, I suspect that no one has stopped to think about the implications of such a campaign name or the message it might send about the true meaning of adoption not only to adoptive families and their children but to other families and children as well. "Adopt-a-____" became popular during a time when adoption was not as prevalent, obvious, or publicly talked about as it is today.

Adoption, fund raising, and outreach programs are all important, vital aspects of our society today. In fact, recent statistics suggest that one-third of the nation is touched by adoption within their immediate families, and that number continues to grow each year. But, many adoptive families cringe when the concept of adoption is used as a way to solicit financial support or sponsorship, even when it is for a good cause. Many organizations use the term because it captures people's emotions; it hooks them and makes them feel more committed to a particular cause, therefore supporting it with contributions.

Adoption is more than purchasing gifts during the holiday season or making a financial contribution to a charitable organization or promising to help pick up litter along the side of a road some where. Adoption is an age-old way of joining a loving family...forever. Adoption creates a sacred, legal, and everlasting bond between a child and a parent. Adoption is not a sponsorship. When a child is adopted, he or she becomes a permanent part of a family; it is a permanent commitment.

My daughter once explained adoption to a preschool friend as "when a baby needs a mommy or a mommy and a daddy or maybe just a daddy and they get to be a family forever." Simple? Yes. But at that point in time, that was her understanding of adoption and how we came to be a family. That understanding has changed as she has grown up, as it should. However, I do not want her to wrongly associate adoption with the relatively simple act of providing gifts for children in need or writing a check to some organization some where.

Simply put, adoption is adoption. It is not about a short-term project, gift giving, or holiday assistance. One concept should not be misused in service to the other. Thoughts, anyone?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Five Years Ago

Today is Tuesday, November 25, 2008. Five years ago, it was Tuesday, November 25, 2003. For most people that might not have much meaning. But for me, it was a day I will never forget. It was the day that I held my sweet daughter in my arms for the first time. I had had only pictures to gaze at for the preceding six months. Finally, she was in my arms, even though it was only for a few days. This was only a "visit trip." I was still awaiting approval from the powers that be in Guatemala. So, I had decided that since Thanksgiving was a time to be with family, I was going to be with my daughter. I was going to Guatemala for Thanksgiving!

My mom decided that she was going with me. I'm not sure that my dad liked the idea of the two of us taking off to a foreign country like that. OK...I know for sure that he didn't like it. But he also knew that he couldn't change our minds. Once we decide to do something...it's pretty much a done deal.

We each had early morning flights from our home towns to Houston, TX. There, we met at the gate from which our flight to Guatemala would depart. The flight was easy. I had a book with me, but I don't remember being able to read much. I was too excited, filled with the anticipation of actually meeting and holding my daughter, my Gloria! Landing in Guatemala, going through customs, arriving at the Marriott...those are all pretty much a blur at this point. I do remember the phone ringing in our room about 15 minutes after we arrived and hearing "We're here in the lobby with your daughter." A mad dash for cameras ensued and down we went to meet Gloria, her dear foster mother, and my attorney's daughter. We got off the elevator and...there they were. Real! Live! In person!

Here is a picture from those first moments...



Gosh, she's so tiny! I look at this picture and am overwhelmed by how much time has gone by, how much Gloria has grown and changed, how much I have grown and changed, how much we have grown and changed together. It's simply mind-boggling.

We were there, together, for four days. We played, sang, walked, got to know each other, met other adopting families, and soaked up every moment (pictures and videos were not in short supply). Placing Gloria back in her foster mother's arms at the end of our visit was one of the hardest things I think I have ever done. I had no idea how much longer it would be before she was in my arms forever. But I had the memories of this time together to sustain me.

Now, Gloria loves to ask me to tell her the story about Maggee and me visiting her in Guatemala. She fills in the gaps if I leave out any little detail. That time was priceless for me. And now, it's priceless for Gloria too.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Kitchen Capers

Gloria has taken quite an interest in cooking lately. It's fun to have her in the kitchen with me and she's learning about the measuring cups and spoons and how adding one ingredient can really change the looks of what you are making. She loves to smell all of the different spices and has decided that she really loves the smell of ground cloves.

This afternoon we were making chili for tonight's dinner. I opened all of the cans and she was going to drain and rinse the beans. I got her started with the first can and then proceeded with chopping an onion. The next thing I know, Gloria is panicking, confused about what has happened. I turned around to see pink liquid running off the counter, down the front of the cabinet and dishwasher, and onto the floor and the floor mat. She had set the strainer down on the counter instead of in the sink and then poured the beans into it. Oops! We called it a "life lesson," cleaned up the mess (with a little help from Hannah Cat who loved the little bit that she licked off of the floor), and resumed the chili preparation. It's now simmering on the stove and will be perfect for dinner in a while.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This one's for you, Uncle Will


Gloria wrote this in her journal at school. It is her response to "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Usually she says she wants to be a mommy or a teacher, but not this time. Notice the colors? Orange and blue...Go Auburn!

Quiet

It's so quiet around the house today. You see, Gloria is in school but I am off today. That doesn't happen often. Actually, it's usually the other way around. But today it's quiet. I can hear the wind rustling the leaves outside, the painters working next door, the noisy leaf blower in the parking lot, the birds in the bird feeder (and Hannah "talking" to them). So maybe it's not really quiet. But compared to the hustle and bustle of the every day living that goes on in our house...it's really quiet! But soon I will go get Gloria from school. She's excited to go to the carpool line today instead of after-school care. And then...there are cupcakes to be made, homework to be completed, reading to listen to, dinner to be cooked, bath time, bed time....I love every minute of that (most of the time), but for this moment I'm just going to savor the quiet.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Adventures in Church-going

Gloria has always gone to church with me. I just believe that children should be in church. It's not always easy, especially when they are toddlers. Even now, I never truly know what I will get! 90% of the time, she's great: she participates in the prayers, attempts to sing the hymns and read the psalm, and is pleasant and good-natured. But...that leaves that 10%. Today falls in that 10%.

Usually, on our way to church I question her about how she will behave in church on that particular day. She has her answers down pat...be quiet, listen, sing the songs, say the prayers...Today, I didn't engage in those questions because we were playing a math facts game. My first mistake!

The second mistake came when I offered to share my hymnal with her. Now I know she likes her own, so why I made that mistake I just don't know. (And I made the same mistake with the prayer book later on! Some day I'll learn!!!) She quickly got snarl-y and pout-y. So, I offered her the hymnal to herself which she refused. And she continued to pout and make these little whiny puppy sounds. When she got over that, we were reading the psalm. She couldn't find it in the bulletin, never mind that it was where it always is! Here goes more pouting. I'm just trying my best to ignore it.

During the sermon, she was writing in her bulletin. That's fine. That's what she does every week. I was hoping this was the calm after the storm. I was wrong. Nothing was going to make her happy today. We even left church at the announcements for a 5 minute time out in the restroom. Somehow we made it through the rest of the service. I only got kicked once, but I don't think it was intentional so I chose to ignore it. I was very glad to leave her in atrium (Sunday school) today.

Later on, while she was in her atrium and I was having Starbucks with friends I pulled her bulletin out of my purse to see what she had been working on during the sermon. Here's what I found:

  1. Wat do pepl no not to do drim hit ply (What do people know not to do? dream, hit, play) "hit" was checked.
  2. This day is spashl chrismis estr or valintins day (This day is special Christmas, Easter, or Valentine's Day). Christmas was checked.
  3. Love is...............................nat moning or ol day and nat (Love is...night, morning, or all day and night.) "All day and night" was checked.
Then she had written a list of "ansrs" (answers)
  1. hit
  2. chismis (Christmas)
  3. ol day and nat (all day and night) Gloria loves Mommy.
Guess I need to forgive her, huh? And remember my "how do you behave in church" questions next week!

Friday, November 7, 2008

"Do You Care How I Look?"

Last night I was brushing Gloria's hair before bedtime. She caught my eyes in the mirror and asked "Momma, do you care how I look?" Thinking she meant things like a clean face, nice clothes, or neat hair, I replied "Of course I do." Only then did I learn that this was a trick question of sorts. I got the rolled eyes and big exhale through puffed out lips..."Not like my clothes and stuff. But how I look. You know, my brown skin and my black hair. Do you care how I look?" How was I supposed to answer that question? Neither yes or no seemed appropriate. I wrapped my arms around her, gave her a tight hug and assured her that I love her just the way she is.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

November is...

November is the eleventh month of the year.
November is the time for national elections.
November is chilly mornings, warmer afternoons, chilly evenings.
November is Thanksgiving.
November is Adoption Awareness Month.

The month of November has been designated as Adoption Awareness Month. It is a time to raise awareness of adoption. There are countless thousands of children around the world who need families who will love them, nurture them, and give them the love that only a family can give.

Our little family was created through adoption. Many years ago, I knew that I would someday adopt a child. When, where, how? Those were questions that were could not be answered at that time. Finally, during the summer of 2002, I experienced this sense of urgency that I simply could not ignore. It was so strong and compelling...that this was the time to begin gathering information and following through on the desire to adopt a child. I could not explain where that feeling came from, but I knew I had to act.

I spent time researching adoption agencies, attending seminars, and gathering information. People often ask why I chose to adopt from Guatemala. I don't think I chose that country as much as I was led to that country, and my precious daughter. God orchestrated it all. There is no other explanation.

The process was long and arduous. Mountains of paperwork. Fingerprints. The home study. The wait for a referral. And then the wait from referral to "gotcha' day." Emotions ran high. The waiting was excruciating. But it was all so worth it! International adoption is not for wimps, that's for sure!

Adoption made me a momma. Adoption gave Gloria a family who adores her. Adoption changed the makeup of our family forever. Adoption linked me forever to a woman, Gloria's birthmother, somewhere in the country of Guatemala in a way that only adoption can link two people. My heart aches for her in a way I cannot explain. Her heartbreaking decision to make an adoption plan for her baby resulted in the joy of my life. I am forever grateful, but that doesn't seem like enough.

During November, we take time to remember and give thanks for many things in our lives. I give great thanks for being able to adopt a beautiful, brilliant, imaginative, creative, loving, sensitive little girl who has opened up my life and my eyes to the world around me.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Meet Hannah Cat

We adopted Hannah from the local animal shelter in August. She was about five months old. I was not allowed any input into the decision about which cat was going home with us that day. Gloria now has someone to boss around, play with, and tattle on. "Momma, Hannah _______." Hannah definitely keeps us entertained. She tears around the house like a wild thing, which earned her the name "Hurricane Hannah" before the actual hurricane by the same name. One of her favorite past-times is to perch on the back of the chair, watch the birds, and "talk" to them. Another favorite activity is to shred the tissue off the roll in the bathroom. She also likes to play with a ball in the empty bathtub (which is probably why she has jumped in the tub three times when it was full of water--to look for her ball). I finally learned not to leave the ball in the tub at night--too much noise! Every night she waits for Gloria to climb in bed under the covers before jumping up there and attacking her feet. It has become part of the bedtime routine. Then she comes downstairs to jump in my lap while I am on the computer. Gee, makes life before a cat seem dull, er, peaceful.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Few Pictures


Check it out! I got CANDY! What more could a girl ask for?




Picking apples



Look at all the apples I picked!




A new favorite activity...reading the dictionary! Seriously, she thinks of a word that she wants to look up and starts searching for it. I showed her one time how a dictionary works and how the guide words can help her and now...well, you can see. Here, she was looking up "iris." And yes, she chose that word on her own. I didn't even know she knew that word!




Just showing off for the camera.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Apple Picking

Today we went up to the beautiful NC mountains to go apple picking. Our destination was Sky Top Apple Orchard. We could not have asked for a more perfect day! The sky was blue, not a cloud to be seen. It was chilly at first, but quickly warmed up and we found ourselves shedding our jackets. It's supposed to be past "peak" time for the fall colors. I don't believe it. The leaves were just brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows. Incredible. Breath taking.

We wandered through the orchard with our basket on a wagon, picking apples when the mood hit, laughing at silly comments, pointing out a pretty tree or view. No agenda, no rush, no schedule to keep. And then we had to pull the wagon with the full basket (1/2 bushel) of apples back UP the hill. I call it teamwork, Gloria calls it "girl power." But whatever it is, we made it back to the top. She was still running after we arrived. If only I could bottle that energy...

After we bagged our apples, paid for them, and put them in the car, we wandered back down to visit the sheep and goats and the ducks. A walk through the bamboo forest was in store, as well. Some hot cider and time on the swings rounded out our morning.

We have more apples than we can possibly eat. Gloria has plans for sharing them with a few people and we will make an apple crisp tomorrow. Fortunately, I was able to find a recipe for a gluten-free apple crisp. We would have made it this afternoon...except I am out of brown sugar. Oops...

We took lots of pictures today (and yesterday). I have an "old fashioned" camera...you know...one that uses 35 mm film that has to be developed at the photo lab. There are just a few pictures left on the current roll and then I can post some pictures.

Tricks and Treats...All Things Halloween

Yesterday was Halloween. Some tricks and some treats of the day:
  • The repair man didn't show up, for the second time. We had some damage during the remnants of Hurricane Fay. The HOA still hasn't taken care of it. Bad trick.
  • I had a parent-teacher conference as the parent. A treat in the end...I've been doing these conferences, as the teacher, for fifteen years. This is only my second year of attending a conference on the other side of the desk, and it is so hard to do! I don't really need to worry. Glo is doing great. She reads everything she can get her hands on and loves to write and illustrate stories. Her teachers always say they love her. But, I still get nervous, almost to the point of tears, before hand.
  • I took my Glo-bug to get her flu shot. Yes, on Halloween. Not nice, Momma. Bad trick.
  • We went trick-or-treating with our friends. Such a treat. We had a wonderful time and came home with a pumpkin full of candy. (The only trick in that is figuring out what is gluten-free and can be eaten by my little Auburn Tiger cheerleader.)
It was a late night last night and we both fell into bed and slept hard. Then it was off for a fun filled day of apple picking. More on that later!