Tuesday, August 18, 2009

104 Days of Summer

I actually have no idea how many days of summer break there are. Phineas and Ferb say there are 104, and that school comes along and interrupts it. Oh, how I relate.

This summer was the shortest. summer. ever.

I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because we did little resting and relaxing? Maybe it's because time passes more quickly as we get older? Whatever the reason, I can hardly believe Casey's first day of first grade is this Thursday.

His school supplies are all purchased. We've poured over his class list. His teacher's two sons are actually two of the before/after school care staff members, so we think that bodes well. About 1/4 of his new class is comprised of kids from last year's class. And we know a hand full of others through the neighborhood or before/after school care, or for some other reason.

Tonight at dinner, Jason was telling Casey how he'd be at his elementary school until he was 11, then he'd go to the middle school next door-- and then we'd decide what to do about high school when the time comes. (The high school Jason and I graduated from is an open-enrollment school and Casey's aunt teaches there. So even though it's not our "neighborhood" school, we might consider it. Who knows what life will be like in another 8 years, though-- so, we'll see.)

Then Jason told Casey how the friends he's making now will probably be his friends for a very. long. time. To support Jason's point, I piped up. "Casey, do you know who my oldest friend is?"

Casey played right along: "Who?"

"His name is J____ P_____, and I met him on the first day of first grade, on the swings. We've been friends ever since."

"Where is he?" Casey demanded.

"In New Mexico. He lives in New Mexico."

Casey screeched in laughter and delight: "He can't live there. You can't live on another planet!" He turned to Jason incredulously. "PLUTO! You can't live on Pluto!"

"Not Pluto, Casey. New Mexico. It's a state."

But the moment was gone. He has no idea that we were trying to explain to him that the relationships he forges now may very well last him a life time and shape the person he becomes. I hope he's as lucky as I was. I have remained in touch with a couple of my elementary school friends (and not just through Facebook- I have in-person interactions with a couple of them!). I hope his experience will be as positive as mine, that his friends will stand by him. That they will experience adventures together, learn from each other-- rely on each other. I can't believe he's in first grade already. Wow.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Own Personal Zoo

Sometimes it feels like I live in the zoo.
No, really.
I got home from work early tonight- almost 45 minutes early. So I beat the kids home. I was shocked at the state of the TV room. Random shoes tossed about. Pillows askew. Toys strewn across the floor. And the sad thing about it is that I was the last one out the door this morning, which means it was exactly as I'd left it. No secret gnomes cleaned while I was away at work today.

The kids were so happy to see me, plopped on the couch, that Marcie did a head-dive into my lap and Casey immediately started fake-karate-chopping me as he danced across the room throwing karate-like punches.

But nothing tops their reaction when I said they could watch an episode of Phineas and Ferb. They love that show. They don't exactly know all the words to the opening, but they sing at the top of their lungs anyway. While mimicking the actions of the cartoon characters on the TV screen. It's hilarious. It's crazy. And I love it.

If I could just find my battery charger, I'd make you smile with a video of it. Alas, my charger must be hidden in the piles they occupy our computer room. Another space that's exactly as I've left it. Perhaps my zoo enclosure is my own fault and the animals, uh, I mean kids, aren't really to blame at all. . ..

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Caught- Chocolate-Chip Handed

This past week was Casey's last at summer "camp." (He didn't go to camp- he attended our local public school's summer ESS (Extended School Services) program, which was fantastic.) As a thank you to the staff, I wanted to send Casey in with fruit this week. Stuff they could enjoy at work or take home. The timing had to be right- because they already had an ice cream social, a trip to the movies and pool, and a field trip to the beach planned on three of the days.

So I called our local Edible Arrangements store. They deliver, but their business hours were only 8 to 5. And it's too hard to explain where to deliver on an elementary school campus during the summer. Especially when the location doesn't really have a room number.

So I went to Plan B. There's a local pizza place that makes amazing "homemade" chocolate chip cookies. Seriously. They are incredible. Way better than whatever break-and-bake I'd probably spend three or four hours making. So I bought some. They gave them to us on a restaurant-looking tray, and Casey and I transferred them into those disposable Tupperware containers, which we then decorated the tops of with thank you notes.

A couple days later, as I was dropping off Casey for his last day, one of the staff members cornered me, in front of the lead coordinator of the program. "You have to tell us your secret," she practically begged.

I tried to change the subject, "They're really good, aren't they?"

"Yes! What's your secret?" she implored me to share. . .

Hmm. What to do? Lie? Tell her it's a family secret? Feign ignorance (I just add extra chocolate chips to the regular Tollhouse recipe)?

Nah. I just couldn't look at these people who care for my son day in and day out and lie.

So I told the truth. I'd thought about baking, but I knew this great place to buy them, and I figured they'd enjoy something I bought that was delicious more than something I'd spent hours and hours on that was just so-so.

I think they were disappointed.

I hope it doesn't change the taste for them. We really did pick them out with the very best intentions. They really are good cookies.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I've been secretly wondering when Marcie's personality would become apparent to me. That's not to say she hasn't had a personality all her own up until now. She's quite aware. And articulate. She isn't afraid to assert her own thoughts, ideas, wishes into conversations with us.

Marcie is excruciatingly clingy and shy around people she doesn't know. I think it used to be that she really was a little frightened by strangers. But now I think it's just for show. Like at the pool, how she only starts squawking and carrying on if she notices I'm watching her through the observation glass. But when I'm not there, she's this crazy dream student who follows directions and swims. Or like how she endears herself to my parents when I'm not around, but the minute I walk in the door, she buries her face in my shoulder and refuses to give them kisses good-bye. In other words, it's a show.

But last week, I got to see the real Marcie. The one I don't usually get to see because she acts differently around me. (I'm having flashbacks to conversations with high school juniors in American Literature, discussing Hawthorne and Salinger about how -and when- we learn to wear masks to cover our true selves- ugh!) It was . . . well, I guess enlightening is the word. I've heard that she can be bossy. And I've heard that she can be persuasive among her peers. But I've never actually seen it.

Then, last weekend, I took her to a birthday party. Marcie was like a little ringleader. "Come on, guys!" she yelled. Let's play in the bouncy. Or, "Come with me, D___. I have to go to the bathroom, you can help me find it." Or, "Let's go get a lollipop at the table over there." And after her toddled along a gaggle of other little three-year-old and four-year-old girls. At one point in time, I caught her sitting at the top of the bouncy-house slide, with her legs blocking the entry to the slide down. She was requiring each passing preschooler to give her and her friend D__ a high five before lifting her leg-gate and smiling and giggling as they flew down the slope.

She knew right where she wanted to sit for the cake (across from the birthday girl, where she could see her). And she waited patiently for her cake, which she devoured in like three seconds (and said thank you to the cake-giver). When it was time to leave, she didn't just scuttle out the door. Oh, no. She announced that she was leaving. "Guys! Guys! I have to go now. I'm going home with D___ (who was coming over for dinner)." She wanted to make sure everyone knew it.

This must be what she's like at school. Not unlike her older brother, Marcie (secretly?) likes being the center of attention. She may be a little more coy about it, but Marcie is a bit of a ring-leader. I'm glad, actually. As long as she uses her people skills for good and not evil. Seriously, I'm not expecting a life of lollipops and rainbows with her. I mean, I was a teenager myself once. But I feel like she's off to a good start. And now I just have to help her keep her self-confidence right where it is now.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Headaches and Tummyaches and Earaches, Oh My

Casey came down with a fever last Tuesday. Eight days ago. It was really just at night. Wednesday morning, no fever. But by Wednesday night, 102.4 (or something).
Then Thursday, I stayed home with him. He was listless. His tummy hurt. His head hurt.

Lucky for me, Casey is super easy when he's sick. He just wants to lounge around and watch movies and play video games. Come to think of it, that's what he's like healthy, too. Regardless, it makes working from home very easy.

But Thursday night he wasn't better.
And Friday morning, another fever.

Off to the doctor, we went. She assured me it was not the flu. His ears were clear. Lots of rest. Lots of fluids. I was doing the right thing. Back-up care sent a nurse to stay with him Friday.

Saturday, Casey stayed home while his sister went swimming. And he lounged. He didn't really have a fever Saturday-- around 100 (which is so. . . hard to determine when you have a kid who runs warm).

Sunday morning, he seemed like a new kid. Off to the zoo we went.

But by Sunday night, he had a slight fever again. Into a tepid shower. Tylenol. And off to bed.

No fever on Monday- and he said he wanted to go to school. By early afternoon, he was exhausted. Monday night, another low grade fever.

Today, we returned him to the doctor. He looks like he's lost 5% of his body weight. Actually, I'm sure he has-- that would only be like 2 1/2 pounds.

Anyway, long story short-- ear infection. Lungs are not totally clear.
At least the doctor was a little apologetic (how did she miss this on Friday?).

Lucky for me, my parents are in town this week and offered (!) to keep Casey home with them. So home he'll stay again tomorrow. But I hope he's better by Friday. His camp is going to the circus.

Poor guy. I hate to see him so tired. And he can't hear out of his left ear at all.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


Today we took my sister and brother in law with us to the zoo to see the new Elephant Odyssey exhibit. Jason brought along his anniversary present- a new Nikon D60. I have to admit, it takes pretty nice pictures. Check us out:

Saturday, August 01, 2009


Yesterday we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary.

In many ways, ten just isn't that big of a deal.

But in other ways, ten years is no small thing. A lot can happen in ten years. For instance, in the last ten years, we:

  • bought two homes and sold one
  • bought four cars
  • worked eight regular, full-time jobs between the two of us
  • lost three pets to doggy and kitty heaven (so to speak)
  • went through at least 4 laptops between the two of us
  • replaced two sets of fences
  • laid down sod in four yards
  • installed two backyard patios and one front yard patio
  • replaced flooring in our homes three times
  • installed nine ceiling fans
  • added to our family through domestic, open adoption
  • added to our family through international adoption
  • worried about sick family and friends
  • went to the hospital three times (and not just for the kids!)
  • visited more than ten U.S. cities and two other countries together (and not for work)
  • read the Harry Potter and Twilight series books and compared notes
  • climbed the Great Wall of China, swam with sea turtles in Hawaii, and hiked to a waterfall in Mexico

We've certainly had individual accomplishments, too. But even those accomplishments are the result of teamwork. Recently, I was being introduced at an event, and they were describing how I arrived at lawyering. The person introducing me asked how I managed to work, go to law school at night, have a preschooler at home, and adopt a child from China-- and still perform so well. Without hesitation, I replied: "I have an amazing husband." She was shocked-- because no one sees the person in the shadow. But it's true. I could never have run a marathon or three half marathons, or completed law school, or survived my first year as an attorney without Jason. Someone is there, behind the scenes, giving me pep talks, reminding me why I'm doing it, building me up. Every day.

I hesitate to jinx myself, but our lives have been very blessed. We live in a modest home, in a nice San Diego suburb. We (currently) are employed. We have two beautiful children, who fill our home (and our hearts) with laughter and love (and tantrums and whining). We know the love of extraordinary people whose friendship we value. And we have each other.

If you'd asked me ten years ago where I thought I'd be right now, I would not have guessed most of my life. I wouldn't have pegged the job change. I wouldn't have guessed we'd be so lucky to have Casey and Marcie because of the love and generosity of their first mothers. But one thing I knew then is that in ten years I'd still be married to Jason. He is my rock.

Here we are, on the beach where we first played as teenagers twenty years ago, renewing our wedding vows yesterday:

I actually didn't think to get a picture of the two of us, smiling at the camera. Here's the closest thing I've got: