Thursday, March 22, 2007

Of Raccoons and Kids

Now don't think I am going to go all Steinbeck literate on you, not the case, but I am going to tell you about raccoons and kids and how BOTH can lead to one very sleepy mom. Yes, I realize this guy is cute in the picture, but I can tell you, he and all his comrades are NOT.

So sometime last year when D was away, I heard an "intruder" outside of my bedroom on the deck, where there sits a table that was being scooted as the "intruder" made their way to the french doors. To put it mildly, I was terrified. It was the middle of the night and I didn't know if I should call 911 immediately or if I should try to be brave and jump out of bed and turn on the deck light to scare them away. I almost wet the bed. Seriously. Well, I decided to be brave - with the cordless phone in my hand poised to dial 911 (I am ferocious) - I jumped out of bed, turned on the light and whisked back the curtain and there was my intruder. A raccoon, on the railing, sniffing about, not a bit scared that I had turned on the light. This began my not-so-lovey relationship with the raccoon.

Well about a week or so ago, middle of the night, I am woken up by sounds of the deck furniture being moved, but on the first floor of the deck. I lay there frozen thinking I am crazy and D is still sawing logs (poor guy he is getting no sleep with classes and work) I wait, hearing nothing I begin to drift back off to sleep...but I hear it again - this time on our level of the deck. In my rationale brain section, I know this is an animal, but in my people-are-sick-and-evil-and-I-have-3-children-to-protect brain section I know this is a violent killer (aren't my thoughts pleasant?!). So, I hit D and make him wake up (his title would be Of Wife and Kids), we both lay there a while, then still hearing noises, we look outside the window and see nothing. Okay, I have lost my mind, we go back to sleep. An hour later Shenzy wakes up crying with a raging fever and I spend the next several hours holding her downstairs while she insists sleep is no longer a necessity. I then must go off to work and pretend to have some intelligence left in my brain.

The next night, still tired, when my head finally hits the pillow I am more than ready and completely exhausted. Guess what - I know, you are WAY ahead of me - I hear the noise again. But the noise, this time it is LOUD, very LOUD and it sounds like it is tearing our second floor apart. I wake D up AGAIN (I swear he is so tired he would sleep through a tornado) and together we turn on the light and pull back the curtain. I swear I would not have believed it if I had not seen it with my own two eyes, the CURSED RACCOON WAS CLIMBING OUR HOUSE, HALF CHIMNEY HALF SIDING. You can imagine the noise his nails were making on the siding. At our banging on the door, he meandered down and slowly climbed off the house, off the railing and down the deck to the first level. I was MAD. I ran downstairs and got the broom and went off after him but he was already gone.

Groundhog Day, right? The next night it happened again - but this time I was awakened by sounds of someone (always thinking violent killer) on the ROOF, over our bedroom. Same scenario, this time the CURSED RACCOON hops down off the roof, then off the railing and gone again.

Well, D was more tired of me waking him up than anything, but he managed to get a live trap from one of the older guys at our church and it has now been set for about 4 days - and guess what, we have seen hide nor rotten hair of this creature.

So, between the CURSED RACCOON, sick kids, early rising kids, late nights studying, early to work and school - I am ready for some truly good good nights of full sleep. Blissful sleep. Ahhhh.

Wish me luck!


P.S. On the weight front, I joined WW today. I did it a couple of years ago and did well, so given my complete lack of motivating myself since the flood, I thought I would try financial pressure and the knowledge that this check, to whom I am paying money, is going to see how much I weigh each week. I am hopeful and actually excited!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Happy Birthday Doodle and Meesta

6 years old today, in some ways this seems completely impossible, but in others they seem wiser than these years would indicate. We have had a VERY busy weekend, but I think they have enjoyed themselves. On Saturday we went to the Children's Museum - along with everyone else in a tri-state area apparently... We had lunch out at one of their favorite establishments, that happened to be out of helium so no balloons - kind of a bummer. Then we had my side of the family over for a birthday party. A good time was had by all! Sloppy joes, chips and fruit pizza. Lots of boy cousins, lots of rowdy, but lots of laughing.

Today, the real day, we went to church, they had cookies with their Sunday school class, and then finally a party with D's side of the family and some friends. A bit much, yes, likely, but I am not a big fan of the parties and thought that minimizing the number of people at the party might make it better and I think it might have a bit. Shenzy has been a bit, um how do I say it nicely...cranky?! After a good nap, she is doing better, much to the relief of the rest of us.

This year has had me thinking of their birthparents more than usual. Given all the issues with adoptions from Cambodia around the time of their adoption, we will likely never know the true circumstances by which they ended up in the orphange, but I know that they were indeed in an orphanage for over a year before becoming our children. I am thankful to them for such charming, gorgeous and healthy children and for making a choice that they did not feel they could care for them and wanting them to have a better future. They will forever have our gratitude and assurance that we will love and care for these children. Blood is irrelevant, these are our children. Thank you for the opportunity to be mom and dad, it is an amazing blessing. The nature versus nurture debate is really a moot point, I just know that these children are amazing, intelligent, charming, and at the very core of why I live and breath.

Meesta is very sharp, interested in absolutely everything and becoming more confident with each day. He wants to be a "sport" as well as a doctor and is devastatingly handsome. He is now very aware that his twin sister is taller than him and he is none to fond of it. He rarely asks for seconds, instead eating his food at a reasonable pace (used to be SOOO SLOWWW) and then wanting dessert - very good at convincing and negotiating. He loves to use the word "actually" and loves to torment his sisters. He likes to be held in the mornings and melts my heart when I see him mimic his dad, which he does often. He is my only son and he is the best surprise of my life (his paperwork had been misplaced with Doodle's and 2 weeks after her referral we learned of his existence). I love being his mom. Happy 6th Birthday my handsome little man!

Doodle is sweet and gentle and smart as a whip, always the helper, a little mother to both her sister and brother. She is becoming a bit more shy around others but draws attention because she is so stinkin' beautiful. She has had a rough year healthwise because of the seizures (we are at 4 or so now), but is still doing great otherwise. She has the longest legs, arms, and fingers, complimented by a captivating smile. She is loving beyond words, gentle with everyone, and caring at the best level. She wants to be a ballerina or dancer and a mom:) She rarely argues or fights (with us or her siblings) and has even renamed her prominent wrist freckles after our 2 other girls who remain in Cambodia - always thinking of others. She is my first child, she will forever be my first baby (if only by 2 weeks), and I will forever be grateful that she brought Meesta to us. I love being her mom. Happy 6th Birthday my Doodlebug!

I think they are incredible people, and I hope that other people think so as well - they seem to, but of course we are biased! D and I do our very best to help them become good people, to raise responsible, happy, well-adjusted people that make this world a better place.

Happy Birthday my Doodle and Meesta, you make being your mom so easy. You are truly my sunshines.

Love, Mom

Monday, March 12, 2007

Debt Reduction - Chugging Away

I spend a great deal of my internet time tooling around on personal finance blogs, trying to absorb their learnings and live vicariously through their achievements. It is fun. But, I have been secretly squirreling away all extra cash this year and I have paid off 2.5 of my debts - gone finito with this rising to 3.5 as soon as my tax check arrives!

Woo Hoo! It feels so very good, still a long way to go, but slow and steady wins the race, right? I just want to have options in the future, I want to be okay if my employment should have to change if we move for the Navy (if the Navy indeed pans out for D).

My favorite PF blogs though, the realistic ones, the ones that truly speak to me somehow are my friend D over at Divorce to Financial Freedom and Tricia at Blogging Away Debt . These ladies keep me coming back for more and their enthusiasm and success inspire me to keep at it. I do flit about to others and read them, but I am most inspired by these ladies.

What has worked: some extra cash, D and I holding hands and agreeing on our plan, staying home more, eating out less, reading others successes and ideas

What has not worked: cursed internet shopping, Mvelopes (tried it, worked wonderfully at first, then horribly and frustratingly not well at all - just requested a refund...), Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Lattes - they are seriously very good and a new Starbucks just opened a week or so ago on my way to work..., a not-firm budget

Things I need to work on: creating a reasonable budget that we can follow with a clear map and timeline for debt payoff if we follow it, taking my lunch to work more, stopping at aforementioned Starbucks less

Keep up the inspiration financial bloggers - it helps tremendously!

CC - a bit less full of debt than when 2007 started...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Took One for the Team?

In order to tell this story, you must know that 1. I really am a caring and compassionate person. 2. My children arrived in our family through international adoption, the youngest being 10 months old when she arrived home. 3. Generally, I am a rule follower.

stork parking n. vehicle parking spaces reserved for pregnant women or new mothers.

Well, after church today, I had the 3 cherubs by myself and we were driving home, discussing what we would have for lunch. Doodle begged for spaghetti - a food that I believe she could live on - wheat variety, no sauce, with parmesan cheese and garlic bread. The girl knows what she likes and HOW she likes to eat it... Anyway, I digress, so knowing that we were sans garlic bread, we decided to stop by our local Kroger store to pick up a few essentials.

Upon wheeling into the parking lot, I see a prime spot up near one of the cart racks near the front and I make my bee line, glaring daggers at nearby cars that they had better not approach that spot, I had called it with my attitude (very Sunday-after-church Christian-like of me, no?). As I turn into the spot, I see it - THE SIGN. The "stork parking" sign that indicates that is is reserved especially for them, those "expectant mothers or new mothers" that our society gives some leeway to (rightfully so....I truly don't blame pregnant mothers!).

The portion of my brain that plays by the rules said, oh crap, I need to find another place. BUT, the infertile, never pregnant, never "newborn" side of my brain took offense (yes, I realize there must deep down be some issue in my brain there) and said that this was indeed our spot. My children and I have trudged from the crevices of the parking lot more times than I could count and by gosh we deserved to be up close. In. That. Spot. In my head, I was doing this for every woman who has experienced infertility, this became a huge righteous effort in my head (all taking about 2 seconds).

Now, all of this drama would make you think that I was somehow challenged, or glared it, or mocked by 9-month pregnant women who were waddling up to the front from the back 40 because of my illegality, or some newborn had to be trudged through the wind and cold because of me....but no. Alternatively, there were no infertile women chanting my name as their hero. This drama was all in my head.

So tell me, have I completely lost my mind at this point. Do others have these crazy internal battles in their heads over random things? Does this obviously indicate that I have unresolved issues over the way people are treated when pregnant versus when adopting? I know that I have irritation on the difference in treatment for adoptive mothers versus pregnant mothers - BIG difference in time off (fathers either way get 1 week of parenting leave).

Just ranting and obviously a bit unstable :)


Friday, March 09, 2007

Email Hostage

Email. It controls my life, I feel as if it has me on a very short leash. I always thought that I was completely tethered to my email when we were going through our adoptions, but it continues today. I realize that this tethering is partially my fault, but I still feel powerless somehow.

My DSL provider was bought by another company and communication to the customers during this time was far from ideal. Our email address had to change and I am far from confident that the new provider would last long, so I switched to gmail for both our personal and NFP accounts, and am having the email from the new provider forwarded to the gmail account. Suffice it to say, this has been a big headache. The flood caused me to lose all my contacts emails and now I have no idea who all I am going to lose touch with, bums me out. I know, if I was really that close with someone I would not lose touch and I should focus on that.

I am just frustrated that email has me some dominated!

Oh well, all this to explain that I was locked out on my last couple of attempts to blog as I couldn't figure out which account it was now linked to!

But I am baaaaacccccckkkkkk!


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Places to See - Start w/ Briland

I have been playing around with my google homepage and one of the optional links you can add is "places to see before you die". This has made me think of all the places I would love to see before my time on this earth is no more. Given D and I's love of travel and our desire to show the kids the WORLD, I thought I would share some of the places I would love to see.

Do you have some you would recommend to me?

I will start this little blog journey with Briland (aka Harbour Island) in the Bahamas. Now, everything I read touted it as the most lovely and calm place to visit, everyone friendly, lots of relaxation. Now, I will agree with the lots of relaxation and it being a fairly calm place to visit - the friendly part I would not really agree with. The islanders were not overly friendly or helpful, but our main goal was the relaxation piece, so it was what we were looking for. It was a very expensive place to visit (hence the private island part and everything having to be shipped in), but we still enjoyed ourselves. We ate a lot of seafood, mostly conch (cooked any way you want) and drank some lovely beverages;).

Here are some pictures:

This was the view from the beach itself, it was gorgeous.

This was the view from our deck in our apartment, very lovely - despite the power lines - and you could hear the waves rolling in, very calming.

This was the sun setting from our evening beverage - I mean dining - establishment. We really did relax and enjoy each other's company.

This was a picture of a photo shoot that was on the beach, we never did seem to see the model/s that were being "shot" but it was interesting nonetheless. D and I joked that it was a good thing we were not in our fitness prime at the moment or we would have had to oblige and let them shoot us. (JOKING!)
This already seems like so long ago and it was only January, I guess the events since then have aged us considerably! We NEED anther vacation, but are sufficing for an evening out - adults only. Our friend N is coming over to stay with the kids, and they are beyond ecstatic. They think she is the greatest thing since Ramen Noodles and I think she is pretty darn fond of them too...
So, where are your favorite places?