a LOVEly project

It wasn't finished until after Valentine's Day. As in, just a few days ago. But somehow having it up makes me happy. When I see it I think of my friend Kathleen who came to visit and brought this idea with her. I think of how I don't want to let the fact that I am up up to my earlobes in dishes and diapers stop me from doing fun, creative things. I think of how much I love this little life of mine. Learn how to make your own here:

Valentine's Day is long past. But I am gonna keep this heart up for awhile.

*don't forget to comment on the previous post and earn more donations for Ethiopian Orphan Relief!

Final Resting Place and an Incentive! (updated)

I know it doesn't make sense but it's easier to breathe having this blog back. My interim blog in wordpress did its job. It afforded me some time and space, but really, I like being a sum of my parts. As I write I like referencing the past and seeing where I've been. I've had a grand ol' time reading old blog posts as I've begun transitioning the past few years of posts into this blog, I hope you will too. I am not done, and in my spare time (ha!) I will keep going back and importing the old posts.

Thank you for coming to what I hope shall be my final blog resting place. Welcome to where I plan to record, process, learn and hopefully occasionally make you snarf your morning smoothie with a good laugh.

And because the few hundred of you that honor me with your checking in and reading deserve a prize for jumping to this new new location, I have a fun incentive for you.

For the next ten days, for every comment on this post saying you forgive me for making you update blog locations again, Hubs and I will donate $1 to Ethiopian Orphan Relief. They are great folks building wells, schools, feeding, clothing, families, widows, orphans, vulnerable folks in Ethiopia. For every person who leaves a comment that they forgive me and let me know they've updated their feed reader, follow or once again change the link on their blog to come here, the donation is $2.

So, say hello, promise you'll come again. Let's surprise Ethiopian Orphan Relief with a good size donation this week! It's all in your hands!

*Update* Less than twenty four hours in and we have $72 nuggets of forgiveness. Keep it coming folks, it will feel soooo good. Tell your mom to come by.


the best part of my morning

I don't know what it is about this boy in the morning. Maybe it's that he's so cheerful. Maybe it's the bed head. Maybe it's the way he asks for "May I want kinkajou cereal?"

Whatever it is, it's hard to be a grumper even after only a few hours of sleep when faced with him in the wee hours.

Borrowing and Accountability

I come from the school of thought that this life is just a very short Act II of my soul’s existence. I was a soul before I got this imperfect body and its set of natural tendencies and weaknesses. I am here, largely to learn how to overcome my natural tendencies and turn myself into a disciplined, refined, Giver of Love doing good things for other people on this planet. After this life my progress as a soul will continue. I will learn more, understand more, become more. I hope. I feel this is true. I don’t know how it all works or what it looks like, but this concept of the eternal nature of Me, and of families is something I hang my hat on. This is where I come from as I start this post.

If this is true about all of us, this three (or more) Act experience that is Life, it translates into an interesting parenting philosophy for Hubs and me. If we are all ancient souls, children of God who all must have this experience on earth, be organized into families to learn, grow love, then really, I am not that much older than my children in the grand scheme of things. I just got here a few years earlier, and was put in a position to show them the ropes. To share what is working for me. To teach what it means to be a good person, to give up our selfishness. To serve others. To be starfish throwers. To realize that things are just things and don’t matter one bit.
In this light, our children in some ways aren’t really ours. We are entrusted the nuturing of these slighly younger souls in life, to hopefully bring them and us closer to our potential.

My kids: I am borrowing them. I am accountable to God for their development, for their healing, their progress. The good news is that we are all ultimately responsible for ourselves, my parents can’t make me turn out one way or another. They can’t make me make good choices. At some point the onus is on me to do more good than harm in the world. The same goes for my kids. Who are ultimately His kids. We are all brothers and sisters. Isn’t that an interesting thought?

When I think about how to handle situations, when I look at my kids’ tendencies, strengths, weaknesses, struggles, I feel a great responsibility to Not Screw This Up, (don’t we all?) because I honestly feel like I need to handle this with the most love, patience, wisdom I can muster. Do it how God would want me to do it, after all, it’s His child. And I often fail because I am tired, cranky, impatient, not thinking of their long term souls, but rather of the short term how on earth to get them all to bed as quickly as possible so I can sit and stare at the wall. I need to do better. I pray often that amidst my failings somehow my good intentions will count for something. I think that is the technical definition of grace, right? Only time and therapy will tell. I hope, I hope, I hope.

On top of all of this, Tsega adds one more layer to my intentional but flawed parenting and all the baggage that comes with it. I feel that sense of borrowing and accountability to his birth family. He God’s child, he is their child, he is our child. Whenever he is grabbing poop off his little boy parts during a diaper change, or screaming, or driving me crazy, I feel my irritation checked by the thought his mother would give anything to be here to wipe off this poop. I owe her the decency to not yell at him when he drinks pee out of the toilet. Or tries to pull out Brady’s g-tube. And I take it to another level of crazy too. I talk to her, his first mother. When I don’t want to rock him very long because I am desperate to end my day and I just want him in bed, I say outloud to her, I am sorry. As we sit and rock, I talk to Tsega, to myself, to God, and to his mother, about what I need to do better. I plead to all of us that I will have the strength to not screw this up. To discern who needs me, and how, and how much each day. I plead with all of us that I will forget about things that don’t matter, like a new dining room table, and care about the things that do: showering my kids with love and acceptance so they don’t seek those things from people who don’t really care about them or may cause them harm. Yes, I am talking about the two worst evils in the world: middle school and kidnappers.

How to wrap this up, I don’t know. This is one of those 2am kind of posts. And I hear a crying through one of the monitors. I guess I will echo a phrase I hear thrown around sometimes: Today, I am going to try to give all this to God, knowing He will give it back, hopefully with a healthy dose of inspiration on how to raise these borrowed, lovely, perfect souls.

Oh yeah, I am only 95% convinced that She, Tsega’s first Mama, can’t hear me.


in *our* swagger wagon

We fittin' three wide, holla.

and in case you haven't seen it. this is us.


I Know This is Morally Wrong

...but Hubs is out of town...
and I was just curious as to hard it would be...
and I was curious if he would even let me do it, and--


I know there is no justification of what I did to my son today.
I am sorry Tsega.

On the upside, I always thought doing this would make him look like a girl, and in my humble estimation, he is undeniably boyish.

Even with puffs.
Maybe I should take a dress to Brady, just to see...


a friend indeed

My soul mate K-baby has been here for a week. We've been separated by time zones, continents and circumstances for almost four years, and having her here was unadulterated bliss. We had an orgy of cooking and crafting and decorating, staying up to 3am talking and general girliness. Many of our activities are bloggable, but I was far too busy enjoying my friend to take pictures. I also chose to feel too busy to answer my phone, check email, read blogs and think about anything. I disconnected from the universe and it felt awesome.

Before we jumped in the car and headed to the airport I prayed for a random snow storm to come and her flight get canceled I propped up the camera with books and told Samantha to click. In the shot I am sleepy and in the same Patriots shirt I'd slept in and worn the day before, but I don't care, because I have proof she was here.

My deepest thanks go to her Hubs for loaning her out to me and being with the boys all week. Between you and I, I can honestly say I don't know who loves her more. My heart is lighter. My soul is refreshed. And I miss you already Kathleeny. I can't wait until next time. Is it too early to make a chain?


it finally happened

The four-year-old girl child meandered into the kitchen where I was loading the dishwasher with all the speed and fury of a mother who knows the baby is going to wake up any moment. She asked to watch a video. In my experience, children ask this at least thirty times a day because they really have no idea when you might say "yes." There is a chance, at any given moment, I will need a video to watch my kids so I can make a meal or call an adult on the phone and the only way to keep them from tearing me apart like a pack of wolves is resorting to the stash of Sesame Street and Saddle Club episodes I have DVR'd. But this time I said "Nah, actually, there is a pile of towels that need to be folded, would you please work on that?"

I completely forgot about the interaction but thirty minutes later I walked into the living room and found this:

If it isn't abundantly clear why this is amazing I will spell it out for you

1) I deflected a request for a movie without any whining or crying, she simply walked away
2) I didn't ask twice, or thrice, or however many ice is "twelve"
3) She didn't stop half way through and give up to go play with Pollys
4) She obeyed, first time I asked, without complaint, completed the job.
5) Cookie Monster, the resident two year old, brought me a hand towel she missed (it was under the piano bench) and asked if I would show him how to fold it so he could help
6) Tsega didn't knock this over in the thirty minutes between when she finished and when I found it.

Needless to say, I went completely berserk about how amazing she is and how wonderful and helpful and beautiful and lovely and perfect. I am tempted to go wake her up, it's 1am, just to pound in the positive reinforcement. I can't believe that really happened. I will admit, my joy and relief is tempered with thoughts like, what if stuff like this happens again? Are you saying that this gets easier because the kids are going to start pulling legitimate weight without me screaming and cavorting about like a lunatic?

What will my excuse be then?, I ask


when life hands you another snow storm, make sno cones

Or at least try. And then learn they would taste a LOT better if you'd taken thirty seconds to google a decent recipe for the syrup.

Even still, the project was fun, and while the two babies napped we got out of the house. You heard me, the girl who lives in fear of being cold (because I am always cold when it is less than 78 degrees) actually went out too because I cannot resist taking pictures under perfect conditions: light being reflected like crazy by white, shiny snow.

Step 1: collect snow for the sno cone. this part takes the longest and is the most fun.

Step 1b: Get distracted from goal of obtaining snow for treat.

Step 1c: Regroup and come on in!

Step 2: concoct a sweet but strange-tasting potion made from straight corn syrup and food coloring. Realize it's too thick and add some apple juice. Realize this might not work. Go with it anyway.

Step 3: let kids stir up their color of choice

Step four: Anoint sno cone with syrup

Step 4: Eat as much as you can before realizing you'd rather eat ice cream. (Cookie Monster never got there, he ate Sis's leftovers and got more snow from the front porch for a third helping)

Step 5: Look at handywork and prepare to post

Next time I will be more prepared, the whole thing has potential. Or, if the New England Weather God feels like we've had enough smiting, we could have no more snow the rest of the 2011. I'd be ok with that, too.

* Now I am officially freaked out. Someone came to my blog a few minutes ago by googling "pictures of snow from 2/2/2011" this tells me someone has the intent to use a picture, unauthorized by me for some unknown purpose. I don't want to put a watermark on my pictures but so help me I will.