Thursday, February 21, 2008

Family Celebration

Yesterday, as I posted, was Elena's Forever Family Day. The day itself was pretty low-key but we did have a party/dinner last night to celebrate. Unfortunately none of our blood family was in the area to celebrate with us. However, as those of us in the adoption and military communities know, family isn't always about who you are related to by blood. So we celebrated with our friends who are family -- Angel and her sons, Zach and Jacob (our neighbors who Elena is in LOVE with), and Meg, Ben, and Nathan. Momma CiCi and Jack weren't able to make it as they have the rough time of being in Hawaii right now. Tough, I know.

For dinner I decided to make a Guatemalan meal. I spent a lot of time on the internet researching different meals and I settled on pollo en pina (chicken in pineapple), arroz Guatemalteco (Guatemalan-style rice), refried black beans, fried plantains, and pastel de tres leches (three milks cake). I am proud to say that I made this entire meal from scratch. It was DE-LISH!!! Definitely going to be cooking all these items again, though next time I am going to grill the chicken before simmering it. Now I am torn as to whether to make this same meal in April for Garrett's forever family day, or to try one of the other traditional meals. Maybe I'll even get brave and try tamales!

Here are some photos of our fun night. Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of Zach while he was over, so I included a photo of a few days ago when my girl and her new favorite guy were watching a video together.

Awww, first movie date
Ummm -- bubble juice!
(We had sparkling grape juice to toast a great year and bless the next. The kids all called it "bubble juice" and the name stuck.)

Yummmmm -- cake! Let's just say that the kids didn't leave any of that on their plates!

Some Nathan cuteness

Bubby and Daddy snuggles and loves. Gotta love the guys in my life -- they are just so sweet and cute!

Some Elena cuteness

Lena and Auntie Meg

Lena and Uncle Rice (Meg said that my kids had a rice for an uncle -- Uncle Ben -- and so, of course, I have decided that the name will stick and my kids have been willing.)

Garrett and Auntie Meg

Tickle time!

Nathan and Uncle Chris hiding from the Daddy Dinosaur -- Nathan really thought he was hiding behind that tree. Kids crack me up!

Garrett carrying his cars around the house. Love how he clutches them close to his chest to carry or protect, I'm not entirely sure which.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Happy Forever Family Day, Elena!

One year ago today, Chris, my mom, and I hopped on a plane to Guatemala to bring home Elena. We didn't have pink, but Chris was scheduled to deploy in less than a week. Thanks to prayers from family and friends and the intervention of Chris's two senators from Wyoming and my Congressman from NC we were granted pink that day and had our embassy appointment the next! What a year it has been -- I'll post more later.


Monday, February 18, 2008

What spice are you?

Prompted by Kerry's post about her age, I had to check out Of course, I was horrified to discover that I act 2 years OLDER than my actual age -- need some of Kerry's immaturity to rub off on me.

However, I did try the What spice are you? quiz. Here are my results:

You Are Cumin

You are warm, unique, and pretty dominant.

It's also pretty likely that you smoke or like fire.

You are energetic and intense. You definitely stimulate people.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Slacker Mommy Provides Update from the Potty Front

We have not fallen off the face of the planet. I just have been trying to cut my addiction to the internet and to bloggerland. Plus, we've been busy with lots of doings in and around the house.

First of all, Garrett is almost all potty trained. He poops almost exclusively in the potty -- and is very proud of himself for it. We are just working on him telling us when it is potty time for peepee instead of us running him to the bathroom everyhour. Getting better, getting better. Elena, on the other hand, took a full month off from interest in the potty. Once Garrett started to go potty she was no longer interested in the process at all. At first I was bummed, but once I considered the logistics I was thankful that I only had 1 at a time to take to the potty. The past week or so Elena has taken an interest in all things potty again. With almost 100% accuracy when she says it's potty time she goes peepee right away. Of course, she's not so interested in us taking her to the potty at other times, so she's still wearing dipes though jealous of Garrett's big boy undies.

I started my masters in education at the end of January. I am completing the Curriculum and Instruction program through the University of Phoenix. I finished my first course with a lot of stress (I believe induced by a subpar professor) and an A. I'm finishing up the first week of the second course and I'm really liking it now. It's so great to have some type of adult activity during the kids nap and after bed, especially on days when the kiddos are in rare form (can it still be called "rare form" if it starts happening more and more???).

Over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend Chris's parents came for a visit. We had a great time visiting with them, and the kids loved all over Grandpa and Grandma. We walked all over the San Diego Wild Animal Park on Saturday, played lots at the park up the street, cheered the Pats to victory in the AFC championship game, and overall just had a good time.

My folks came for a visit the first full week in February and left this past Wednesday. We had absolutely beautiful weather for their visit -- postcard weather that perfectly demonstrated why so many people love to live in southern California. We went to the Zoo, visited Old Town San Diego (birthplace of California), played at the park and in the yard, and had a wonderful visit. The kids loved having their grandparents around, even if they had the sniffles for most of the visit. The other great thing about the visit was that Chris and I got to go on a date for the second time in a month (the first being dinner alone together when his parents were here), this time to the Symphony for his birthday.

Also in the past week, Ben, Meghan (my best friend and sorority sister from college), and their son, Nathan, moved to San Diego. We've spent some time hanging out with them and reestablishing connections. It is so good to have them back close -- the last time we were anywhere close was over two years ago when they were in Charleston, 4 hours south of Jacksonville, and before that it was college! I guess that's military life.

Well, I think that catches us up on the details of what we have been up to. Now for the pictures of the babes:

Reading with Grandpa (Chris's Dad)

Hey, duck, whatcha doin? (Checking out the bird pond at the Wild Animal Park)

Playing at the Animal Park

Heelllooooo? Learning to use the "phones" at the Wild Animal Park

Love how Elena thought she had to put her whole face into the phone for it to work!

Grandma helping Lena put her shoe back on (big girl's wearing a 6 now!!!)

Elena giving the adults directions at SeaWorld

Enthralled by Shamu (or Shampoo, as Elena calls him)

The kids desperately wanted to play outside on Sunday afternoon. "Crocs on" is Garrett's phrase of choice lately. Of course, that day it was pouring rain outside. Did the kids care?

Reading potty books while being big kids

Checking out the koalas with Papa (my dad)

Passed out from the sheer excitement of it all

Posing with Papa on a canon at Old Town

Hmm, how can I get this thing to work?

Sissy, maybe together we can get it to work?

In el mercado at Old Town with YaYa and PaPa. I can't believe it happened, but my father even ate Mexican food during our visit! This from the man who likes no spice, no flavor in his food! What can we get him to try next time???

Check me out, Mom! I'm ready to drive! Got the keys???

Ohhhh, a light!

Walking back to the car after dinner the last night my folks were in town. We ate at Ruby's Diner on the Oceanside pier (thanks for the idea, Cynthia!), hopefully to overlook the Pacific while we ate. The marine layer moved in, so not much of a view, but we still had fun.

That's all for now folks! Hope this quells your fix for a while :)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Chris wanted to take me dancing. I don't think this is exactly what he had in mind, but I think we fit the parts. What do you think?

Don't send a lame Valentine's Day eCard. Try JibJab Sendables!


What is my son thinking?
Here is how we found him one night as we headed to bed, many hours after we thought he had been asleep:

And couple of nights later:

Seems little man is afraid that he is missing out on some action after he goes to bed. So we have been finding him asleep in his doorway, dead to the world. Hee hee. Guess we might want to start cracking the door at night?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A light has gone out

This past weekend the world lost one of its bright lights. My dear friend Ann Marie Gutshall died. She had been battling colon cancer, a result of the treatment for cervical cancer when she was in her 20s, for over a year. Her death has hit me hard and I thought it was only appropriate to post a tribute to her on my blog.

I first met Ann Marie my first year of teaching at Jacksonville Commons Middle School. She was a new teacher as well and quickly established a "rebel" reputation. She didn't care if her students listened to their music as long as they were doing their work. In fact, she often encouraged them to include raps in their presentations. Now, that might not make sense if you don't understand the challenging population that we were in charge of. Jacksonville isn't exactly rural, but it isn't the inner city of New York either. Of course, many of students had moved into the area from New York and other cities and so our school took on an inner-city feel. She knew how to be tough and demanding of our students without being degrading. I wanted to become a teacher like her.

My second year of teaching she kindly agreed to be my assistant coach to the cheerleading team. I would get so fired up sometimes knowing that the team could do more than they were willing to do the work for, and there she was to talk me down and encourage the team. I had an especially difficult set of parents that year and she knew how to handle them with poise and confidence, even as they threatened to sue me for hazing (because I had the team do push-ups if they repeatedly got something wrong after being helped or if they were messing around during stunting practice). Through all those extra hours together for practices and games I believe we became good friends. Later in the year we attended a social studies conference together. I remember her kicking my butt out of bed in the mornings so we could go work out or walk the hotel before our seminars began. I know that she would literally kick my ass for not starting my marathon training and sitting around the house. She was training for the Marine Corps marathon when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Now I really want to run, not just for Global Orphan Team, but for Ann Marie and cancer research.

Watching the Super Bowl on Sunday after getting this news was even harder because I kept flashing back to the Pats-Panthers pre-season game that we attended together. She was such an NFC fan I know that she was rooting for the Giants. It always helps to have an angel on your side.

I am so saddened by her death for a couple of reasons. The first is that her son will not have the opportunity to learn directly from his mom. I know that his dad will regale him with stories of her, her quick sense of humor, and all the good that she did. But that's not the same as witnessing her first hand. M was adopted domestically and will be 2 soon, just before Elena's birthday. She and I talked often about how to raise a confident multiracial child in this world. I will miss those conversations and her plain insight.

I am also deeply saddened that she will never step foot into a classroom again. The ideas she had for connecting material with her students were truly inspired and I loved the conversations we had about the classroom. We both struggled with the idea of teaching again at JCMS if our hubbies were transferred back to Jacksonville. On the one hand, teaching there, teaching that population is hard. On the other hand, those students deserve teachers who are committed and truly care as much as any other students, and perhaps maybe more. Because of this, if we move back east, I plan to teach again at JCMS if they will have me.

Goodbye, Ann Marie. I will miss you. I will miss hearing your statements "Who cares what the administration thinks about the chaos in my classroom. I know that my students are learning and growing," or "They are crazy to think x -- they must not y." Or "Beckie, chill out. You are taking this too seriously." I learned a lot from you. Chris will miss your insights on Native American culture. I will miss being your friend.

Rest well.