Monday, April 29, 2013

Too much stuff

We had the second of our tag sales this weekend.  It was lovely.  So many people cleaned out their basements and garages and donated their stuff to us.  The weather was perfect and we got a lot of traffic.

A woman came who was originally from Cape Verde.  Her family and friends still live there.  She describes it as beautiful but very poor since their is no economy.  She rents shipping barrels (waist high) and sends whatever she can find back to her islands.  I gave her pair after pair of soccer cleats, she said the children play soccer barefoot.  Barefoot could be nice or very painful depending on where you play it.  We still had many pairs left.

A man came and asked prices.  First he thoughtfully read our poster with Nellie and Marin's pictures and story..  When I said "$5" he said "will you take $20?" and so on.  How generous!  His girlfriend had seen us in the paper and was moved by our story.  We were moved by his generosity.

And after two yard sales totaling 4 days - we still have a driveway full of stuff.  Which leads me to my point - we all have too much stuff.

Kids playing soccer without shoes?  Children in orphanages while we complain we "just can't afford to adopt".  Organizations getting their budgets cut and begging for volunteers.  Something is wrong with this scenario.

Now I will leave this post hanging so Nate can update us on the finances which I never look at because they are too overwhelming.  I just keep my eyes on my prizes and keep praying.  It's the only thing that truly ever works.


And before I forget - besides all of the material waste that was evident, what could we all do with the time we spend shopping?  If everyone volunteered instead of shopped it would have a massive positive impact on our communities.  

Back to the finances - it was a successful weekend.  We raised money with our yard sale, received two unexpected donations, and sold some of the items we got for our yard sale on eBay.  So (imagine drum-roll in your head) we raised:

Tag sale: $891.30
Donations: $  80.00
eBay: $185.98

For a total from this past weekend of $1157.28, and a grand total of $12,828.91 since we started this!!! 

And to add to Kimmy's story, the gentleman who bought the $5 item for $20 then proceeded to come back and offer us $100 for a cappuccino machine that we were asking $60 for.  I'm assuming he has a chihuahua or perhaps a toy poodle.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My article on Wonderbaby!

My article is live on Wonderbaby (Perkins School for the Blind's parents' site)!

The link is HERE.

If you could hit the "thumbs up" under our Nellie's picture and give it some praise I would really appreciate it.  Thank you!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A bit of chicken humor

Ohhhh Olive Ann, we love you so!

How we got here

Everyone who adopts has a "we always knew we wanted to adopt" story or so it seems.

We also knew we wanted to adopt for many years.  God placed little reminders in our path.  The little Chinese girl in a church we attended (and then stopped attending) when Lucas was only 2.  Her name was Kim if you can believe it (my name is Kim).  There were all of the children I saw in family therapy.  Then my supervisor was an adoptive mother of two children.

Then the year after we had Olive Ann I had some recuperating to do (she was a surgical birth).  I found a blog called The Blessing of Verity.  I couldn't pull my eyes away as I watched the blog's author adopt Katie, who was found in an orphanage in Bulgarian at age 9 weighing 11 pounds.   Yes, you read that right.

And by reading her blog I found a link to a BBC documentary called Bulgaria's Abandoned Children.  (Please DO NOT watch with children, do not watch if you are having a rough day - enough said?)  I fell in love with each and every child in that video.  But the child who took my heart was a tiny little blind boy (who was really 10 years old).  God had him take my heart.  Then he took Nate's heart. That was when we knew it was time to act.  All these children never got a family while we were waiting for "the right time".  I was exasperated with our waiting.

God loves to up the ante, so the next day child number one newly listed on Reece's Rainbow was our Nellie.  Fireworks please!

God knows just how to do these things (which he will remind me of next week when I'm fretting about how long this adoption is taking).  There was no doubt in our mind that Nellie was meant to be ours and that God has his hands all over this adoption and would open the doors to get her home.

We started fundraising and immediately got responses.  A local comedy group (The Ha Ha's) volunteered to perform at our silent auction.  A newspaper did a story.  And so it goes.

Then we had that nagging feeling.  Something was missing.  When we started this adoption we were open to a second child but none had spoken to us (and I was obsessively checking Reece's Rainbow).  Nate had a dream about a boy with one arm and then I had a dream.  We mentioned in to our adoption coordinator and she showed us this.

Cuteness in a sailor suit!  And you know what?  I still wasn't sure!! (I can see God just tapping his foot and sighing).  Then we saw a video of him romping around and THEN I saw the boy from my dreams.  And love has just grown big and sloppy ever since.

We have pictures of these two all over the house.  It makes me feel like they are "here" with us.  I can imagine they are.

 "Toast, Nell-bell?"

 "That's too much ketchup Marin-boo!"

And Jericho and Marin?  Batman and Robin?  Killers of all that is breakable?  Masters of exasperation and parental time outs for sanity?  Yes, we love you!!!

Next year, two extra bunnies will be hid in the yard!

Monday, April 22, 2013


Last week had me all out of sorts.   Boston was on lock down Friday - the day my boys were scheduled to attend a Red Sox night game.  Oh well, we've had that set back before and never for this important a reason.  And then all over the news the pictures of these two young men. The men who bombed my city's marathon.  I can't help think we are seeing more and more pictures of alienated young men rise up on the front page again and again.

Seeing these two young men made me think of our Marin.  We know he has been up for adoption since at least July of last year.  Maybe longer?  Just by chance we never found out he was 3 hours away from Nellie (which results in a longer trip) until recently.  Would we have adopted him if we had known?  It's more time off Nate doesn't have.  He could have waited forever for his family and never found them.  Nate isn't happy he has to take more time off but is very happy that he didn't know until now because now we are in love.
Jericho's self portrait.
Very unflattering picture of me by Jericho.  This must be how I look to him.
Then I ran into a man at the park I know from church and he told me his story of being an adoptee.  His experience wasn't great.  He was adopted and then his parents (as he described it) "just didn't want to parent anymore" and sent him away to school.  This crushed him, he said it was like being abandoned twice.  This and the fact that finding his birth mother resulted in no answered questions.  This man is a loving grandfather with a haunting pain.

Adoption isn't all roses.  Children come out alienated and angry and crushed.  Biological children come out of families the same way.  There are no guarantees.  When I worked as a family therapist I was convinced time and time again that family is the number one important soul enhancing life shaping experience we can have.  It creates who you are.
Photo by Jericho.
Will Marin fare well after 9 years without a family?  Will he ever be able to imbue the words mother and father with texture and depth?  Will he be able to leave behind years of institutional life for a life with siblings, dogs, and parents who want reciprocal affection from him? I just don't know.

So I turn again to God and ask "please?".  Please God heal his heart.  Please God heal all their hearts.
Heal those who have been hurt in family and those who have found their happiness in family.  And I have to ask Him.  Since relying on myself only leads to pain and fear.  I've done that enough already in this life and I don't want to do it anymore.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Not Shipping Up to Boston

Red Sox games are eventful for us.

The first one we went to with the kids (it was only Lucas and Gaelan then) was a no-hitter that Derek Lowe threw.  I was busy keeping kids entertained and was glad that the game was so brief, since neither they nor Kim had much tolerance for a baseball game.  Kim still doesn't.
A Younger Gaelan Being Very...
Consistent With His Grimace...
On A Tour of Fenway Park
Then a couple years ago, while Kim was pregnant with Olive, we went to a game that included a magnificent view from the center field bleachers of a thunder and lightning storm sweeping over the city and heading right at Fenway. 

Lightning Re-enactment
 After sitting out a rain delay for what seemed like the length of the baseball game, we had to get little Jericho and pregnant Kim and the soggy rest of us home.  By the time we managed to get back to the car at Alewife station, start driving home, and turn on the radio, the game resumed.  I don't remember who won.

Jericho's Face Explains How He Feels About Sitting Through A Baseball Game

So, it seemed fitting, that on April 19th I would show up at work to find out that greater Boston was under strict orders to "Shelter in Place", and no trains were going from Alewife station to anywhere.  

"One Watertown.....this will all be wrapped up by noon at the latest," I remember thinking.

"The best-laid schemes o mice an men /Gang aft agley..."

Fenway From the Green Monster
So we spent tonight waiting to find out when/if they were going to capture the suspect (they did three hours ago!) and when the game would be rescheduled to.  We still don't know about the game - maybe Sunday?  Maybe July 1st?

So this was one of those weeks that vacillated between surreal and bizarre and terrifying and then back to surreal for good measure.  Its the kind of week that puts life in perspective.  

Waiting on paperwork or filling out grant applications - not as bad as explosions and carnage and death.  It's just not that bad.  

Futures at Fenway Game:  Jericho & I Spent Much Time Trying
to Get a Photo-Op With Wally.  In the 7th Inning of the first
 game Jericho began repeating quite loudly, "This is boring...."
My kids can do things to drive me crazy (mostly because they remind me of myself), but none of them hates life so much that they want to blow anybody up.

My kids are alive, my wife is alive, we're all in one piece.

I'm waiting on my other kids in Bulgaria and that is awful in many ways, but they will make it here.  And as the week also shows, I can't control it (and many other things in life) anyway.  

And when these two cute kiddos finally do arrive, with the four kids here now plus me and Kim, we'll only be one person short of fielding our own baseball team.  Now that is good news.

Online auction

Our auction is live HERE on Facebook.
We are hoping to raise enough to have our agency fees before our first trip to Bulgaria!
Thank you!

Loose web of associations

My mind seems to work overtime while waiting.  For months, I have been fretting about how I will be
teaching Nellie to learn (and use the toilet) and talk (and brush her teeth) and about a million other things.  My mind kept milling around literacy and our family's love of books.  We have a read-aloud nightly and consider it one of our favorite pastimes.  I was worried how books would come across to Nellie - what would a "fairy" or a "knight" translate as when I am reading (or a cat or house for that matter).  A quick look at all the literature relating to teaching a child with visual impairments in the preschool years says that what is most important is linking the words to experiences.  I have been mulling over this point.
Oldest and youngest coloring together.
Sure you can buy books with tactile illustrations of "the bowl full of mush" but somehow this didn't sit right with me. Then I read a post on Thomas Marshall Does it All  (a wonderful blog, a stinkin' cute kid) about Thomas learning about leprechauns in school by dressing up as one.  Then he really got what a leprechaun is (funny hat, big belt, pot of gold).  Dressing up bridged the gap for him since he is blind.

At supper the other night while eating baked beans and cornbread, Jericho was lamenting that the food was gross except the maple syrupy goodness of the bean sauce.  Gaelan (in true Gaelan fashion) said "Jericho, you use the bread to sop up the sauce, like in the Pete Seeger song!"  And sure enough there is a line in the song Groundhog with the words soppin' up the pan (while eating your groundhog gravy).  Leave it to Gaelan, the kid who was obsessed with the word "bust" when his brother was an actor in The Wizard of Oz (you will be a bust, be a bust, be a bust, in the hall of fame....)  He loved that word, and that song, every time he heard it he would need me to define what a bust was again and again.
Fairy cupcakes and lemon water to celebrate Spring.
So if you follow my loose web of associations here you can see that I ended up deciding that real life experiences, lots of reading, and expanding on the story with crafts, dress up, and (big surprise!) eating are the way to go.  That and really good folk music thrown in.

I think this is the way Nellie will begin to learn language, associations, and concepts.  A deep and rich way that is sustainable to this family.

This "putting it all together" way that I process can be time consuming, but when I reach a final conclusion I am confident I have a plan that will work with her needs and my strengths.  Every book we read can become fodder for their play and hence, for her learning.I think Lucas and Gaelan even had a pair of Joe and Frank Hardy stuffies for a while.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cooking inspiration

While I am revamping our meal plan, which I do periodically it seems, I'm looking for new recipes and inspiration.  Smitten Kitchen is a favorite.  When I pick up a new cookbook I can tell within minutes if it will be a keeper or a dust collector.  I love cookbooks that give me a hint of the new and different without making me feel I have to break the bank or stock an entirely new pantry.

I have on tap for the week: Spinach and smashed egg (GF) toast, lentil and chickpea salad with feta and tahini, latkes and fried eggs (I think this is in the book), and for my son's 18th birthday (!!) - meatloaves (tiny ones) with brown butter mashed potatoes (also in the book).

Just enough to liven up the morning and evening routines.  I have also been experimenting with double cooking, which basically just translates into me roasting two chickens at a time and having blackened chicken the next night for supper.  Or making a mess of (GF) spaghetti and then making it into a "fried" mass the next night with olives and garlic kale.  I basically hate casseroles or any dairy intensive meals so this works better than freezer cooking for our family.  I just need to start making bigger meals (soon to be 6 kids!!)

The Carefree Clothes for Girl's book is my newest inspiration for how I will do literacy with Nellie.  Lots of reading and then expanding on the story.  My way of expanding is eating (big surprise) and dressing up.  So I'm making pinafores and basic dresses.  White for St. Lucia day next year and mustard yellow for The Princess in the Forest.  We also take lots of trips to expand the story.  We just got a braille copy of Ferdinand so I need to find a bull to befriend.

And the last book, The Fault in our Stars, was on KA facebook feed.  She liked it and I like her so I hope it will be a good read.  I just finished The Hunger Games trilogy - reading in tandem with my oldest boys. I really liked it and I didn't think I would.  It was almost comical to watch us all try to snatch the book away when the other's weren't watching to get in an extra chapter.  I lost more than I won, but I'm finally getting to the end.  I don't have any interest in the movie because it usually spoils the characters in my head.  I'll leave that to my boys to watch, they have far better imaginations.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Science kits

As we get closer and closer to travel for first trip, I am thinking more and more of actual real live kids being here and in our home.  I'm thinking of ways to expand on the knowledge they have and fill in the gaps in ways that are fun and soothing.  I think soothing might be my new favorite word.  I think our newest children will need lots of ways to cope with the immense changes they will be going through and I will need activities so I can make supper without the house descending into chaos.

We call these "science kits".  Basically they are just a whole lot of ingredients given to play with and make fizz and bubble.  A non toxic and language rich activity for my second language learners.  "The yellow is fizzing and popping, the blue is swirling....."  you get the picture.  Of course if I spend the time talking about all that is going on supper might not get made.  My new favorite?  Blackened catfish with broccoli rapini!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Getting tactile during limbo

We are in limbo.  The homestudy is done (and we have verbal approval), the silent auction is done, the paperwork is mostly done (waiting for the written homestudy for more paperwork).  We are resting and planning and starting to think about our garden.  And it's "spring" in New England.

Like I said we are in limbo.

Limbo is a bit dangerous for this Mama, I have a tendency to obsess when I don't have a project.  I've been obsessing about my newest children.  Mostly about their health and well-being.  Lately I've been researching and deciding how I'd like to homeschool them.  We are a literature rich household and I'm concerned how to share my love of books with my newest loves.

Nellie and Marin have been institutionalized since birth.  No braille instruction (for Nellie), no trips to the farm, the zoo, the park.  No  pre-literacy work.  Not even a rich tactile environment.  I aim to change all that.

Olive and I have been experimenting with ways to play in a more "tactile" way.  We've also ordered way too many books from The Braille Institute.  Ferdinand, Thundercake, and my all time favorite The Seven Silly Eaters.  Clearly I have to join their Braille Book Club.

And Marin will be reading and writing in Bulgarian's Cyrillic alphabet.  How will he enjoy our pre-bed reading fest?  We've decided Legos are a shared language; so are puzzles and hikes in the woods.  At the playground the other day I kept wondering if he would like the swings more than the slide or basketball over soccer.  I keep wondering how I will keep up with all of them.

We ordered more maple syrup in anticipation of more children eating pancakes.  We are streamlining our menu plan.  We are searching through thread bare hand me downs that we have kept way past their rag stage (local friends please remember us when cleaning out your kid's closets.)

We are praying and waiting and dreaming.  Limbo stage is hard but being in love with our two newest children is the balm for that wound.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Money Money Money

Any time I can reference ABBA you know it's going to be a great blog post.  If I could only flip that first "B".

So over the weekend we had a yard sale and another silent auction.  The silent auction, which in many ways was a "bridge auction" (thank you Theo Epstein) between the first pre-realforsure auction at the Newman Center and the upcoming online Mother's Day and Father's Day auctions, raised $305.  The yard sale, which had a strong first day on Friday afternoon but a cold and windy second day, earned $535.  We still have more to sell in another yard sale and more goods waiting to be donated.  Our basement is a little less packed now and we got plenty of exercise dragging things out and putting them away again.

With this past weekend, donations, selling of items on Ebay and Amazon, and previous auctions, we have raised a total of $11,083.94.  So far we have spent $7031.00.  

It is good that we haven't spent it all  because we have big expenses upcoming.  Once our homestudy is written up and becomes part of our dossier, it will go to Bulgaria.  We will need $7500 to finalize that.  Then there will be travelling expenses such as flights (this month are $1100 or so, if I look to June, it goes up to $1500), food, lodging, etc.  I travel light, I'll keep it cheap.

Another expense is $460 for visas that are filed on the first trip.  The I800 paperwork is filed after the first trip and will cost us  $975.  

Needless to say, we are ramping up the fundraising.  The Mother's Day and Father's Day auctions are looking really good and getting better, and we are also starting to apply for grants (they can't be sent in until the home study is completed - although we're starting to fill out paperwork now).

So thank you to all who have supported us in words and thoughts and donations of all kind.  We're more than 1/3 of the way there and we're not slowing down!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tag Sale Time!

HUGE! MULTI- HOUSEHOLD! Friday 3pm-6pm & Saturday 8am-3pm

Yard sale to raise funds to adopt our two children from Bulgaria!

Many people have donated quality items to this sale. All priced to move and fund our adoption.

Antiques, old books, new books, homeschooling curriculum/materials, furniture, glassware, holiday decorations, toys, games, household items, sporting goods, kids clothes, glassware, arts/crafts materials........we have a ton of great stuff!!!!!!!

All to bring our two children HOME!