Saturday, December 5, 2015


T-Rex is quite involved with her school.  This fall their play was "Fools" by Neil Simon.  It isn't one of his that I knew, but it was very enjoyable.  T-Rex played the postman.
Essentially, this is a play set in Russia.  There is a curse upon the town making everyone incredibly dense and it can't be broken. 

The curse goes back to when the Count wanted to marry a young woman who refused, so he cursed them all.  A young school teacher comes to town at the request of the descendants of the young woman's family and tries to break the curse. 
The postman talking to a townsperson

The Doctor and Wife speaking to the teacher.

 The teacher reading about the curse. 

The townspeople trying to convince the teacher to break the curse.
The wedding between the teacher and the daughter. 

The urgent letter.

She really enjoys theater and is involved in an apprentice group for a local theatre as well.  She is working in their musical theatre track. Her first performance with them is next week. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

The SC Flood

     I'm dusting off this blog for a couple of reasons.  ONE - I'm more secure about our son joining our family and if his birth family finds this then I hope they enjoy the pictures. TWO - I've missed it, but not the pressure I was putting on myself to post everyday..... so I'm not doing that this time.  THREE - and most importantly my kids pointed out that I have missed documenting some events and they want a record. So I'm starting again.
     We've had a flood in Columbia, a BIG ONE.  It really started last week when we had some rain, and then Hurricane Joaquin moved off the coast and our state got caught between two fronts and then the sky opened up and apparently trillions of gallons fell. I made Alex (used to be Big Al, but now she's in college so I'm using her real name) come home from school because I thought her city would be hit worse...... but we were wrong. We have a lot of low lying areas, but we also have a lot of little lakes, with small dams, that breech or break when trillions of gallons fall from the sky. The picture on the right shows one of these lakes that emptied and flowed down the hill destroying so many homes and businesses.  No joke... water over cars, and up to the ceilings of homes and businesses and sooooo much damage. We were lucky.  Our pond started flowing into our yard, but apparently whatever the problem was it resolved and we were fine.  Sadly our neighbors were not so lucky. Roads are washed out, sand eroded out from under them and huge chunks missing. Our water supply is contaminated and the City/State is working to resolve it as soon as possible, but the reality is this will take months to recover from. If the only inconvenience I have is to turn around on a closed street or boil water (ongoing for days now) to drink water, or deal with being out of school then believe me... my family is blessed.
    Southern hospitality is a very real phenomenon here.  I've watched so many people gather together to try to help each other out.  Not because our politicians have failed, or took too long, but because this is what we do.  We want to help someone who needs it.  We don't care which church is yours, or your ethnicity, or your socio-economic status, we want to help.  Thankfully social media has become a HUGE participant as well.  Facebook pages are everywhere for missing/found animals, specific neighborhoods in need, and up-to-date postings for many organizations having collection spots, or places for folks to volunteer.  One of my friends organized a neighborhood food drive yesterday for the local food bank.  The kids and I went and sat, chatted, collected, made sure our neighbors were okay, and then loaded up the first round of donations (food and financial donations) and delivered them. We raised $300.00 and about 1,000 pounds of food. The kids had a blast.

     Today we joined friends (who happen to be my colleagues) at a local church to volunteer.  This is not our church, but is highly organized and had a list of folks needing help to move out of their apartments.  The lower apartments were flooded, but the upper apartments had to move out too because mold is setting in and the renovations need to begin soon.  Many of the units had their power pulled because of the flooding, and many families were trying to move out as fast as they could.  Moving supplies and food were available to all residents, and a group of about 20 of us were assigned to 3 families.  The first man was ready, and everything went very quickly.  The next lady was still packing so we were trying to put clothes in boxes, move large pieces of furniture and play with her adorable little boy too.  Blondie, our friend, and I left after that house because we needed to return home, but Cheesie and the Boy stayed to help the last person.  She was the widow of a soldier killed in Iraq and really seemed to touch the hearts of my two youngest.  They were very impressed with her story and strength. We have two more days to help others, and I'm sure we will work to find something to do.  I'm a little worried that we are supposed to get another 1.5 inches of rain tomorrow, but hopefully it only happens in a few areas.  I'm still crossing fingers that the coastal cities don't become overwhelmed with the rivers overloaded this weekend.  We aren't out of this yet, but we are doing okay.

Above:  Waiting for the adults to finish furniture tetris at a storage unit, the boys were lying on the asphalt while the girls sat on the stairs singing.  They really worked hard all day.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Not what I thought it would be....

     As Christmas approaches and I look at our new son, who is right now enjoying family Christmas movie night,  I am thinking about how lucky we really are. I was asked today at the bookstore if I wanted to donate a toy to a child in foster care, and I thought, "Lady if you only knew what was under that tree!"   It is no secret in my family that I have wanted to adopt forever - literally since I was a child.  I used to read books about families that adopted, and then when the blog "thing" started I quickly found adoptive families that I followed. I generally followed blogs about foreign adoption - except for fosterhood (because I love her humor), so when Brian wanted to start the process through foster care, I honestly expected the worst.
     I thought we would have huge emotional issues, and perhaps mess up what we have going with our daughters.  I thought people from DSS would be sort of invasive with their questions, and looking for reasons why we wouldn't work. I thought the child would resent us some because we aren't his first family and lash out with violence or willful misbehavior.
      I was wrong.
      YES, he leaves everything EVERYWHERE.... but cheerfully picks them up when reminded. He would rather play games and build with Lego than go to school, but he didn't have the successful start our daughters had. He doesn't hit anyone, but has asked if we do - and was visibly relieved that we don't. After school he runs to the house to drop his things on the floor, but then runs back to either help Blondie or me get the rest of the things out of the car.  He grudgingly put in time to learn multiplication (the first hole in education we plugged) and when he saw that it got easier, he was proud of himself. He came here playing mature video games that we don't generally allow anyone under 16 to play, and doesn't ask any more.  He raked the yard to earn money to buy his birth sisters Christmas presents, and then gave me a one-armed hug when I paid for them myself. The two times he has gotten really frustrated it was more about missing his first family than anything else. The homework struggle is going to continue for awhile, but I think it has to do with lacking skills, and testing boundaries.  He is learning that 100% of the time I won't let him slack on the work. He doesn't believe in Santa Claus, but is checking out where the Elf hides EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.
    The folks at DSS have been nothing but kind, and working like crazy with us to make everything work. They've seen the craft closet all over the floor, and didn't bat an eye.  I had the GAL show up with one hour notice and not worry that the backpacks were still in the entry way, and the beds were unmade that day. When they heard my grandfather passed away they pushed through paperwork so we can take The Boy with us over break - keeping in mind they are all about to start their own vacations with their families.  They have given up evenings and Saturdays to work around our schedule to visit with him, and delivered Christmas presents to his sisters for us, as well as work to keep the kids connected.
     The birth family is still a bit of a mystery for me as to how it will work out.  Right now it doesn't sound like a good idea to call them, and I think it would upset The Boy.  I really would prefer something where he could write letters, or email them, but I think that will be down the road when birth mom is healthier.  Right now when he tears up (has happened a couple times) I agree with him that, "it sucks" what happened to him, but when he is able to see first mom again she is going to be so proud of him. I am glad though that he is starting to process all that has happened in the last few years because apparently he didn't talk about it at all in foster care.  In the meantime we're going to call his older sister periodically,  and keep plugging away at school one goal at a time.  We'll work on what he wants to call us, and how to pick up toys when we want to do something else, and just keep taking it one day at a time with our son.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Photo Shoot part 2

The pictures on the last post were my husband Brian's.  While he was taking those, my Mom had these going.....

This is our American Bulldog/Boxer mix. She is honestly the best dog we have ever had in our house.  She thinks she is in charge of the kids and follows them everywhere.  If they get too rough she intervenes. If they swim out too far she goes after them and circles them until they come in.

Here is Blondie with Maggie. 

Mom got some great pics of Big Al and her friend "C."  I like the ones of them looking more natural...... although this picture was really of "C" being incredibly uncomfortable. 

Mom selected this place in the college owned gardens near our house.  I love the peeling paint. 

"L" had some gorgeous pictures too.  Hope she gets them for her mom for Christmas, or at least copies her on the email. 

I wish I could share the family picture she took of all of us, but I'm not allowed to share pics of "the boy" yet.  Soon we hope.   If you liked these photos let my mom know in the comment section below.  She isn't sure she is ready yet to turn this into a business. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Family Photo Shoot - probably part 1.

     I gave my Mom and Brian the task of getting fall pictures of all of the kids, and a family portrait.  I want them all put on canvas for my kitchen wall.  Mom had previously taken the other four out and taken pics, but Big Al was always busy.  Today didn't have any major plans, so we took all of them, plus Big Al's boyfriend "C" and her friend "L" out as well. The boy was with us today too, I just can't post his picture yet.

While Mom took Big Al, C, and L, Brian grabbed Blondie and T-Rex and photographed them.  Mom is going to send the pictures she took a little later.

Mom had taken the other kids to this path, and I wanted Big Al there too.  Big Al was more interested in pictures with her friends. 

Some were serious......

some involved hair flipping....

others were just hilarious. 

Some of us got bored waiting for our turn..... 

and took their sister's iphone (birthday present) and started shooting a bunch of selfies. 

We caught up with my sister and my nephew, Super S, and had a great time playing with him. 

Big Al has just celebrated her 17th birthday, so it was a great time to commemorate the occasion. 

While Big Al and C were snapping pics with my Mom, L and I tried to photobomb...... but SOMEONE WOULDN'T JUST TURN THE CAMERA AND INCLUDE US...... 

 So we were busted. 

T-Rex hates taking pictures, but was sort of game for today. She is enjoying high school, and finished up cross country with a lot of personal records. 

Little people who get bored want to do what their older cousins are doing, and try to jump the benches.

Then our crew headed home. When Mom sends some of the ones she took I'll post those too. 

Whirlwind 4 weeks

     In the last post I mentioned how Brian and I, and the girls had met the boy.  That Thursday he came over for Halloween. We dropped him back with foster mom, and then picked him up Friday for his first weekend. We knew it was the right match 100% when it felt good all weekend, and we didn't want to take him back.  It seemed rather pointless, and he thought so too.  The next weekend he mentioned it as we took him back too.  It's dark, and Brian, Big Al and I are in the car with him, and he says, "This is stupid, when am I moving in?" And that was it. We called the adoption worker, who then spoke to him, and since we were all on the same page he moved in on the following weekend.  
    The only bumps happened at school, but nothing major - probably typical for any boy changing schools...... and families. He seems to have settled right in.  He tests boundaries, especially homework, but so far he knows we mean everything, and we haven't had to do much.
     Thanksgiving was fantastic.  My mom, Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, Sister and Nephew joined us.  He has handled every meeting of family very well, but we know he can only handle a few people at once.  The "rules" say we can't post his picture or his name, so that left me in a mess with the blog.  The name is easy, all of my kids have pseudonyms, but the pics are tough.  I think we'll try the blurred out face, or sticker over his face until court his over with.  We are waiting on an adoption date.... sometime between now and Christmas. He asked me yesterday what was taking so long, and I told him it wouldn't change anything, and that seemed to reassure him. So, be patient with me as I either edit pics for shots without him, or the back of his head, or some smiley face pasted over his, but ultimately I don't want him to feel left out of the family blog.  He knows the rules, and he understands the reasons, and he knows we would put him in if we could.  We're content with starting his new scrapbook of pictures, and listening to him when he speaks of his first family, and how frustrated he is that some kids can go back and he couldn't.  He is very matter of fact about this whole process and his finding his way each day.  On our end we are trying to prioritize what we have to work on so as not to overwhelm him, and spend a lot of time with him so he knows he can come to us. It is definitely a worthy process.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

We've met the boy!

     Almost 2 weeks ago we received a phone call from dss about a boy.  He is 9 and they wanted to know if he was too old for us. We told them we were interested (he is slightly younger than Cheesie) and they set up an appointment to hear his story.  Last Tuesday we went in and they had his entire file there.  It included his history with dss, medical info, school records and a few pictures.  We listened to his history, saw his picture and then were sent home with the rest of the information to discuss it.  We were allowed to call 24 hours later and accept, so they set our first visit up for Saturday.
     Yesterday, Brian and I went without the girls to meet him at a local gym with a rock climbing section.  We gave the boy a choice between batting cages (he likes baseball), rock wall climbing, or the zoo. He chose the destination, and we were thrilled.  We ended up arriving 15 minutes early, and the social worker arrived 15 minutes late..... so Brian and I paced a LOT! The guy at the counter was getting nervous just watching us and asked us if we were okay.  Once we explained the situation he just sat back and giggled at our nervous energy.  As soon as the social worker drove up we ran down the steps, and tried not to mow the kid over.  He was also super nervous, so we introduced ourselves, and got him moving into the building to give him something to do.  Once he had his gear, we walked to the back and the belayer hooked him up. I realized pretty quickly that this boy was related to spiderman.  He ran right up those walls, and when he got stuck he would take a second and look at the wall to figure it out.  He did an excellent job.  At some point I explained to the belayer what we were doing (when the boy was up by the ceiling) and he just melted.  Apparently he has worked with all sorts of kids as well as just started working at our local children's home as a cabin manager. The Boy did a fabulous job, and chatted with us a lot. He spent time answering both of our questions.  At one point he watched a grown man struggle on a route that he just knew he could do, and whispered to me, "Watch this." Then he went to the belayer who hooked him up, and scampered right up that wall.  He felt so proud of himself.

     After the gym we took him to a cupcake place and sat and chatted.  He didn't know what to ask so we told him all about the girls and the dogs.  We talked about family and what we like to do for fun.  At one point his social worker asked if he wanted to see us again and his face lit up and he said, "Yes! They are nice." So we set a time to meet with him today.

     Today's visit involved the girls.  All of us were excited about our trip to the zoo to meet up with him.  My mom and sister decided to meet up with us as well.  His foster mom drove him half way (they live on the other side of town, and she is an absolute angel to drive him to meet us) and we picked him up in a parking lot.  Brian and I went to meet him, and I asked if he was nervous.  "Yes ma'am, I am VERY nervous," he said.  He got right in the big car with them, and just sort of sat quietly.  At the zoo he tended to stick by Brian or I, and we were pleased to discover one of his interests seems to be animals.  I finally have a naturalist kid to hang out with! He pointed out a mockingbird to my mom, and then would periodically give us random facts about animals.  Once he loosened up we saw the "typical boy" type behavior from him - jumping up on curbs and benches to walk on them, and then at one point telling me that Gorilla's eat their own vomit...... great...... and wouldn't you know just as he is telling me that the Gorilla barfs and ....... well you know..... he was right. 
     After the zoo we ran to find him a Halloween costume because his saint of a foster mom is willing to have him come here on Thursday (I"ll meet her half way) and trick or treat. Then it is back to her house for the night.  When our day was over and we drove back to the parking lot to meet up with her he looked a little down that the time was over. I think he was just getting the hang of things.  The plan --- from the social workers point of view----- is for him to spend weekends here and then move in over Winter Break - before Christmas. If the boy and Brian have anything to do with it, it will happen sooner.  
     We feel so lucky to have been matched with him, and despite all of the waiting over the last 7.5 months of finished paperwork, we are thrilled to be moving forward.