Thank You

Thank you to all the military for loving your country and protecting my family. We appreciate and honor your sacrifices.Thank you for all the mothers, wives, fathers, husbands, sisters, brothers and children of members of the US military. Your sacrifices are just as heroic. Happy Memorial Day.


Helping my Sensory Seeker During Mealtimes

The second best thing about having a cool physical therapist for Brady is that she keeps her eye on Tsega for me. Tsega didn't qualify for Early Intervention when we had him tested, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have areas of development that I check mark in the back of my mind (like with all my kids.) Brady's PT interacts with Tsega each week and has great insight and ideas for me to help him reach his potential.

I've mentioned before that Tsega has above average sensory input needs. Lots of kids do, and many are not developmentally challenged nor adopted. I watched one at church a few weeks ago. A normal, highly intelligent eight-year-old was attempting to turn her little spot on the pew into a trampoline/bucking bronco for about ten minutes. The whole bench was shaking. She just couldn't be still. At first I wanted to put her into a full body cast because it was distracting and a tad irritating, but then I saw her through more understanding eyes: I saw her as seeking sensory input. She was rocking and bouncing so hard her behind was slamming into the seat.

Being aware of sensory input needs sheds new light on things like ADD and wiggly, obnoxious kids. Because let's face it, what is understandable if not funny and cute behavior in two-year-olds can be difficult to enjoy and deal with in older children. Sometimes children just cannot concentrate or be still if they are seeking physical input. And sometimes they will do anything they can to get it. They have to, even when it gets them in trouble, or other children mock. There are appropriate ways to get input and inappropriate ways. For example, jumping on a trampoline: appropriate. Hitting one's head against a wall over and over: Inappropriate.

**I am not an expert, or even knowledgeable in any way in SID (Sensory Integration Disorder) nor I am even suggesting my kid has that. I am simply sharing and documenting.

Tsega needs movement. He needs input. He likes a rush. And so with complete disregard for my freaking out suggestions, lately he has been rocking his dining chair back onto two legs during mealtimes. He puts his feet on the table pushing, releasing, pushing releasing, turning breakfast into a ride at a carnival. It's dangerous and impolite, but he's only eighteen months. It's awfully hard to convince his age bracket of those two facts.

Brady's PT noticed this behavior and suggested I give him something to "feel" that might fill up that physical craving without endangering his life or my sanity. And after all, it's my job as his mother to help him find appropriate ways to fill up his senses. (Sorry for the song reference. Soooo cheesy.)

So what kind of input can you give a kid while eating that isn't messy?

A wobbly, textury cushion for his booty. Yup, I made up the word textury. You can use it if you want. Kathleen the PT said I should try to make one for him, that it might give him the sense of imbalance that he's looking for without tipping his chair back. I was highly skeptical but thought it was worth a try.

A few nights  ago when my kitchen looked like this:

I decided to ignore the mess and work on Tsega's cushion.  Look closely at the clock on the oven. I do believe it speaks of my recently confessed late night sickness: It says 1:20am.

I decided to borrow from the custom hospital gown that I wore when I went on bed rest trying fruitlessly to prevent Brady coming early, but you could use any fabric you want. 

First I took a regular piece of paper and traced the outline of T's booster chair. It is, and always will be disgusting. No matter how many times I clean it.

Then I traced around my outline, to allow for sewing a seam. See how imperfect and not-measured well it is?

Then I traced the pattern onto the fabric, which I folded over so I could cut out both sides at the same time.

Then I put the two "pretty" sides together, so the ugly sides were showing on both front and back.

And sewed them together. I started with a straight stitch, and realized I wanted it to be stronger, so then went to zigzag.

What these photos fail to show was that this fabric is a lovely blue and light green paisley, but the thread was red. I just used what was in there from the previous project. Lazy, and ugly.

I left about two or three inches not sewn up, and then turned it all right side out.

I poured in some of these, along with cotton balls and make-up foamy sponges. I wanted different sized and different hardness items in there. This cushion is not meant to be comfy. It's meant to stimulate his brain. Through his butt. Weird, I know.

Once I liked the thickness and feel I hand stitched it closed. And threw it in the booster.

So did it work? I know you're dying to know, right?

Someone hasn't tried tipping his chair back in the four days since we started using it. I am thrilled about the reformed behavior. Because there are beans and barley in this cushion it cannot be washed, so when it gets nasty from the spilled food I will make another; this time with oil cloth or something I can wipe off.

You tell me: Is the Physical Therapist a genius, or is it coincidence?

** Update three weeks later: meal times remain much better. I am giving the cushion credit. Might have to start making and marketing them. If anyone is interested in me making it, let me know!


Caption Contest Winner and Other Tidbits

A Saturday Night Conversation Between Spouses Cleaning the Kitchen While Listening to the 80s iTunes Folder:

Hubs: If I continue this I am gonna need ice cream.
S: Do you dare me to take this to the next level?
Hubs: What's that?
S: Scrubbing the sticky crap underneath the table.
Hubs: Woah, this just got real.

We know how to party. Be jealous.

And without further ado I am happy to announce the winner of the Caption Contest winner. There was some fierce competition and I was impressed and highly amused with your creativity. My favorite caption was submitted by Mary P, who had a clear advantage living in the Boston area.

"I still mad they traded Perkins"

And what did Mary P win? My favorite inexpensive kitchen accessory is this:

Twixit Bag clips! They come in two sizes and rock my world. Will send some to you right away! :)

On an entirely unrelated note, it should be mentioned that today I actually called one of my own children by his fake internet name. In front of other people. And they laughed at me. And thus we see how blogging might actually be hurting my brain.


Caption Contest: Because Blogging Isn't a Spectator Sport

Calling all clever Scooping it Up readers. I know you're there.

I gotta say, this week this little corner o' the internet has gotten a lot of traffic. Yesterday alone there were 684 visitors. Can you hear my jaw dropping? If I had that many cookies I'd be in a happy choco-coma instead of up until 4:30am playing with new blog headers. Yes, that is what I did -among other trivia- last night instead of sleep.  Speaking of this: Help me, Internets. I don't know why I'd rather be up than sleep. I think I just love getting to do whatever I want while the kids are asleep and I don't know how to convince myself that resting will be just as fun.

Anyway, the point is, I know you're out there. And I know for a fact you're smarter than I am, because you have not purposefully stayed up past 2am every night for two weeks running. And I am fairly certain that you are human and as such are genetically programed to want to win things. So I am giving you a chance to win something.

Submit as many captions for this photo as you'd like for a chance to win my favorite kitchen accessory that costs less than $5. The contest is completely subjective. You have until Friday at 10pm EST. Unless I fall asleep in which case the deadline is Saturday morning sometime vague. Go get 'em tigers.

{Your caption here}


eight years

"Eight years" are the opening lyrics to a song from Bye Bye Birdie about a girl who's seen the light and cannot believe she wasted so much time on her man.

Those are not my sentiments.

Eight years ago Hubs and I tied the knot in Los Angeles. We were young. We were confident. I was blonde. I wore a borrowed dress that was two sizes too small as you can see by my hideously disfigured/squished torso and arms a bit snug.

The last two years of our life have been chock full of surprises. The pendulum has swung far and wide between joy and sorrow. Lest the Blog Gods strike me with lightening as I type, I will never let it be believed that I have ever professed to have a perfect family. Or that I am a perfect wife with a perfect husband. At times, we've let each other down.  We’ve had times where we didn't work well together.  We’ve had times when stress and blame seemed to be the rule, instead of the exception.  But we've come out on top.

Hubs is kind. He is supportive. He is a the best of fathers. He is a good listener. He and I are in sync on the most essential things and sometimes I often forget that due to that profound and singular nugget of truth, the little things on which we fail to align don't matter at all.

I've said it before: on his very worst day, and mine, there isn't another human I'd rather spend my life with. I love you, Hubs. Every minute of every day I love you. I can't wait for eighty more anniversaries.

Us this morning on our way to an anniversary breakfast. Because it's never too early in the day to make out.  Yes, we are wearing matching t-shirts. We wore these the day before we got married. It's kinda an inside joke. And no, I am not wearing my wedding ring. It's too big and I am afraid I will lose it.


The Most Underwhelming Part of Our Adoption Process Was...


Readoption! Or Finalization. Or in layman terms:  The U.S. Doesn't Recognize the Adoption that Took Place in Ethiopia Even Though They Had to Approve of it Every Step of the Way so we Had to go to Court Again!

I will tell you, I had higher expectations. I've seen cute pictures from friends' days in court. But it was not at all thrilling and took exactly fifteen times less than it will take me to post about it. But it's another box checked. Another person/entity granting their superfluous permission for us to be a family. And hey, Hubs got to take the morning off, Grandma and Grandpa and few friends got to hang out with us and we were all together so that by itself is worth noting.

On the way to court. I love Brady's foot completing the picture.

We waited.

And waited.

And played.

And waited some more.

This is my new favorite picture.

And then spoke to this judge for about 45 seconds. Hubs and I signed a piece of paper during that 45 seconds. The judge said next to nothing. There was no decree. There was no ceremony.

We signed the piece of paper, turned it in to a clerk downstairs and left.

It was like wha- that was it? That was our court day?? Totally anticlimactic.

Luckily, things picked up because we went to Lucy Ethiopian Cafe in Boston for an awesome lunch. You should go there. It's really, really good and really good people own it make us feel like family.

These friends met us there to celebrate (though none of us need an excuse to run to Lucy's for Ethio-Therapy.)

We love you Tsega. We are so blessed to have you in our family.

What do you do when you start missing Ethiopia?

I've found there are really only do two things to remedy that feeling.

The first is to strengthen and continue efforts to reduce poverty and raise standards of living in Ethiopia.  Tsega doesn't yet understand the inhumane and impossible divide between how much we have and how little most Ethiopians have. He doesn't understand our sacred responsibility as a family to do our part to close that divide. But my older kids get it. They love picking out clothes, books, making blankets, choosing things from their own closets and shelves, picturing these things in the hands of their fellow humans half a world away.

Tsega first thing in the morning before I hit up the post office. Some awesome kiddos are getting some new clothes and books and blankets, thanks to the efforts of the kids and some of our friends who donated and made blankets.--Thank you guys! Wanna get in on this kind of thing? Wanna know who you are helping? Go here!

The second thing we do when we miss Ethiopia is inundate ourselves with this.

Tsega will watch these videos for hours if I let him.

Yesterday, when he was weepy and kept pointing to the computer, I let him.


Color me Flattered

I was syndicated on BlogHer.com

I am honored, pleased and nervous (like, cold sweat almost barfing nervous) to mention that a few folks from BlogHer liked a little somethin' I wrote and published it on their website! Come and read, even if you are just my mom and it's old news to you...


A Day in Photos

Read that cute graphic up there. I am joining a whole bunch of cool bloggers in a project to show your day in photos, one for each hour from you wake to when you go to bed. You all know that I cannot physically do this: one photo? Please. Please. When I do something I tend to go overboard. I have issues with this. I promise to one day seek professional help for my inability to just do a little bit in any aspect of my life. In the meantime, this is by far the longest post in the history of this blog. So buckle up amigos.

My day started laaaate. Hubs gave cereal to the older two, let me sleep and the babies were slow to wake up. Love sleeping in. Doesn't happen often. I was summoned by Samantha when Cookie had to pee and needed help. Otherwise, who knows how long they would have played by themselves, bless their mature little souls.

Tsega wakes, I bring him down to join the biggies for their third bowl of cereal.


I tell Samantha today is cold, rainy and that we will be going out later, so pick a good outfit. This is what she came up with on the first take.

Cookie Monster tells me he needs some love via a ride in the Ergo. Sometimes I think he is my most attachment disordered child. Except I guess it isn't a disorder if he tells me when he needs love. But man, he is sure needy. I will love this about him forever. Brady comes along for the ride.

Love tank filled, time for the boys to break the new-to-us train table from craigs list. It's still functional, just no storage capabilities anymore. Reckless toddlers...

9:06am L, our fabulous babysitter/Keeper of Laundry arrives and I soon realize through some procrastinating on my part, and a series of unfortunate accidents related to food and poop on other peoples' parts, I will not make it to physical therapy. I call and cancel appointment, hand off Brady so I can do some exercises at home.

As you can see, it is very efficient to exercise at home.

While I am on the floor strengthening my quads, I notice an interesting grouping of books. One's bookshelf says a lot about one, yes?
(Titles are The Power of Positive Parenting, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Children Just Like Me, Understanding Exposure, The Riverside Shakespeare, The Five Love Languages of Children, Adoption, Race & Identity, Why I Believe, Cutting for Stone, and Trusting Jesus) 

10:15am Time to turn on the "radio" for the little ones. 

I gotta take a shower, since it has been exactly four days and it is not acceptable to meet up with friends looking or smelling like I do. Before I go upstairs, I set the biggies up.

Cookie Monster colors and practices cutting. 

Samantha gets a few minutes of Starfall. She has thankfully changed from ridiculous Fairy of Migraine Neon outfit. While I am upstairs L thankfully prepares lunches and snacks for our outing.

Only thirty minutes late we arrive at the Lexington public library to see friends at 12pm on the dot.

This outing was good and bad. Good because we like friends. Bad because this library offered far too many tempting escape routes, ramps, long hallways for running, and the kids' general naughty factor was peaking. A few library workers seemed to hate toddlers were probably very happy when we left. We agreed this was not a good place to meet up again, but I will say this: the Lexington Children's section had an amazing selection of books depicting different ethnicities and cultures. I mean a vast selection. So, I might have to back for that alone. But sedate the kids first.

Someone falls asleep on the way home.

Someone is a big boy and feeds himself while I attempt and accomplish a successful car-to-crib maneuver.

The older kiddos resume coloring.

I take the opportunity to play with Brady and do some of his stretches and exercises. Tummy time first.

Sitting and reaching practice next.

I start noticing nasty unidentifiable stuff on the carpet and make a mental note to vacuum soon.

It's 3pm. Time for a late nap for Cookie and Brady. We grab some of the books we checked out from the library for a quick story time.

3:20 Boys down. Samantha is playing with dolls. I check email, work on this for the blog, but don't like how it turned out. Still like the quote though.

and then start a decorating project.

But then the little Ethiopian wakes up after a highly insufficient nap.
I hate those lights on the monitor...

I decide to ignore the awake child. He needs quiet time. He can talk for a little while. If it turns to tears, I will rethink this.

4pm: I have framed and hung this amazing piece of art.

Look closer. Isn't it lovely? My friend Karen sent this to me and made me cry. I love it so much. And I don't know a blessed thing about the painter. Need to find out who did this.

Time to start dinner. Samantha beautifully handles her assignment "shuck the corn."
She is seriously the best helper.

Cookie wakes up and demands I hand over the rinds of the cantaloupe I am cutting up for dinner. When it comes to food, Cookie adheres to a waste not want not philosophy.

Samantha helps hold Brady over while I do the finishing touches on dinner. I go upstairs to grab Tsega who never really napped and is shrieking.

A strangely sedate dinner time. Everyone likes it. No major brawls or spills.

6:20pm. Tsega is a disaster. Tired and requires bed immediately. Bath, Braids, Baba.

I am attempting to work up his tolerance to braids, as I have lofty goals of cornrows this summer. First I started with four pony tails and that was all he could handle. Then four box braids. Then two french braids which are like big cornrows, kinda. Now I can get him to sit almost still for three french braids. Slowly but surely we get closer to cornrows. He loves having it done (not the process) and likes not having to do a comb out everyday. I've noticed braiding keeps his hair moisturized and happy.

While the bedtime routine is going on with Tsega, the older kids resume coloring once again.

(They got a new coloring book yesterday and let me tell you, that $4.99 is so worth it for the hours they spend coloring in it. On a side note, the coloring book is Dinosaur Train. A show we newly discovered on PBS. They love it, and it is about a family of pteranadons who adopt a baby t-rex. They talk about adoption, how he is different from his siblings and parents, and how to find other dinosaurs like him and accept who he is. Go PBS.)

It is

I note that at some point I need to stop playing with pictures. But editing pictures is addictive and hard to stop.

But Brady is playing so nicely and the kids coloring so well... Finally I get responsible and take them upstairs.

Time for a tube-feeding for Brady

It's 7:45pm. Pjs on.

Samantha's turn for teeth and braids and posing.

Brady is now dysfunctional. I send the older kids to my bed to read while I change diaper and nurse Brady to sleep. (He is in their room right now. When he can learn to be a big boy and stop waking up at night, he can move in with Tsega. But for now, he is with the older ones because they sleep right through his crying. Tsega wouldn't put up with that crap.) Brady down. It's 8:16pm

I walk into my room and see this:

Stories. Bed. Easy Peasy.

I head downstairs 8:45pm. Mess isn't terrible. Start to clean. Make myself dinner.

I settle down for a date with Glee and my breast pump.

Brady wakes and I go help him settle down. I have having to stop mid-pump session.

Come back, 9:30 now. Time for another bout of PT exercises while finishing Glee. Notice right toenails were painted a few weeks back. Never got to the left foot. Now the paint is peeling. I am so hot.

BTW, Glee was totally emotional. 

It's 10:48pm. I remember there is a narsty diaper upstairs that warrants cleaning asap.

My lover comes home.

I stay up, finish pumping, read a few blogs, get these pics in order, do the dishes, and now it is 1:33am.

Tsega is babbling to himself in bed for who knows what reason. He will tell me if he needs me. I am just gonna let him sing.