Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

The kids have the week of Thanksgiving off each year. This year we decided it'd be the perfect time to take a trip to Ohio to visit Casey's birth family. We always have fun when we visit them. And this year was no different.

They just finished off their basement, and it was beautiful:


It doesn’t really matter to us how we spend our time—it’s about being with family. And we always have such fun. One day, we took a walk to a nearby lake (and when I say nearby, I mean next door—literally):

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One afternoon, we went bowling:


We saw a movie and met some new people. And generally hung out. Marcie became Casey’s older sister’s shadow. Casey loved being with his big brother and his cousin. And even Tate had someone to look up to: Casey’s other cousin. I’ve never seen Tate take to someone so immediately. I could have left the building, and he probably wouldn’t have noticed.

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And I think it’s worth mentioning—though I describe these relatives in terms of their connection to Casey, we consider all of them our extended family, too. And they us. If you ask Marcie, she’ll probably tell you that she has a big sister, too. If there’s one thing adoption has taught us, it’s that family is not about blood relations. It can be. But it doesn’t have to be. And we feel so lucky that Casey’s birth family sees it that way, too.


Thursday, November 18, 2010


I'm back-dating this post. It's mid-December, so it'll be obvious. But it's a post about November, so I don't feel too badly. It's just that I got stuck around mid-November. I wanted to write some heart-warming, tear-jerking letter to Marcie in celebration of her 5th birthday. But somewhere in between loads of laundry, dirty diapers, and the general mayhem of my life, I couldn't make myself focus. And it didn't help that Marcie had hit a . . . uh . . . especially sassy period.

But Marcie had a nice birthday. We celebrated with a party at Pump it Up. As is our tradition, I made Marcie's birthday cake this year. She wanted Hannah Montana. And by the time I finished paying for the right cake pans, food coloring, frosting, tips, frosting bags, etc., I probably could have gotten a professional one much cheaper! (Note to self: Costco, costco, costco!) But, hey, it's a labor of love, right? Here's the main cake tray:

She got a lot of very cool gifts-- including blingletts (to make bracelets!) and shrinky dinks (remember those!?!). We're still working on the thank you notes (the part I wrote is finished, but Marcie's taking her sweet time completing them). But we'll get there.

Marcie was five way before she turned five. She is the same height Casey was when he was 6 1/2. And now that she's missing those three front teeth and a bottom one, she looks much older than her age. Which is fitting. Because she acts, most of the time, much older than her age. But she's only five. And I have to remember that sometimes. She is smart. And observant. And she likes to make sure everyone knows what to do. She's like a mini-me. No wonder we clash so often.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Life in the Fast Lane


November has been like a speeding bullet.  I can hardly keep up.  I think some of it is all the birthdays—we may start out slow with just three family birthdays in late September and through October, but in November we hit our first birthday bonanza with friends and family.  More on that later.

Tate’s been doing pretty well.  He’s eating up a storm, which is great for his growth and development, but pretty hard on the pocketbook.  Casey and Marcie were out of baby food by around 12 months for the most part.  Not Tate.  He devours the stinky stuff.  Can’t get enough.  Goes through nine containers (at a dollar each, on sale) each day.  PLUS he eats some of our people food.  I can’t really push the table food issue until the cleft is repaired, so I’m biding my time.  For now.

At his last doctor’s appointment, Tate was up to 19.6 pounds!  Just a little more and we can turn him around so he can see where we’re going in the car.  We’re still working out the staph infection on his head, though.  We were able to get a culture run of the stuff in the last remaining bump, and it turns out it’s MRSA (I probably spelled that wrong).  So now we’re on to another anti-biotic, which will hopefully help (along with the warm compresses) expel the last remaining, stodgy infection.  Tate is so accustomed to it, he doesn’t even flinch when doctors push around on this last little lump.  And I’m anxious to get rid of it because, well, it’s an infection.  And I don’t want anything to hold up our palate surgery.

Speaking of palate surgery, that’s a saga in itself, of course.  We have scheduled appointments with all the specialists, but even once the last one (the ENT) sees him on December 21, we’ll then have to coordinate all their schedules for the surgery so they can take care of everything at once.  We’re told Tate will spend one or two nights in the hospital, then have no-nos on his arms for a couple weeks.  Those are like boards that prevent him from bending his arms so he can’t puncture the palate repair.  He’ll be a little frankenstein.  We’ll know more once we see the plastic surgeon in December.

In the mean time, we’ve been very busy around the house.  I’ve discovered I actually like a clean house!  (At least cleaner than the one I was living in.)  I like not having to do laundry and grocery shop on weekends.  I like having a clean kitchen and a family room floor I can roll around on to play with the kids.  I like not being slightly embarrassed when the kids’ friends (and their parents) drop by for a play date.  The keeping up takes some definite work, but it was one of the (many) things I had to just let go when I was at work outside the home full time.  Things around here still aren’t perfect, but that’s okay.

Here are some pictures from our month so far:

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This is how I spend much of my mornings—putting away the tupperware Tate has pulled out (it’s the cabinet without the baby lock so he has something to do without frustration in the kitchen), and pulling Tate away from the dishwasher.  If it’s even slightly ajar, Tate makes a beeline for it.


My Aunt Joanne made this sweater for Tate.  It zips up the back (how smart is that?), and it arrived on the first coldish weather day we’d had in a while, so it was the perfect cover when we went to the park that afternoon.


One weekend we made it to the zoo- Tate’s first visit.  We mostly stuck by the Monkey Trails, and you can see Marcie and Jason monkeying around above.  We also visited the elephants (who were trumpeting while we were there!), the koalas, and the reptile enclosure.  After, we stopped at Ruby Tuesday for dinner:

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Tate’s first taste of lemon. . . not really enjoying it so much.


Tate got to join us for a couple of Casey’s soccer games.  Casey played really well in both and even scored a goal in this last one.  His team is undefeated, and they are playing in their championship game (against another undefeated team) this coming Saturday.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Halloween Review


Well, for the first time since Casey was born we did not make it to a pumpkin patch.  At all.  Between the rain and the parties, it just never worked out.  Consequently, we found ourselves without pumpkins on Halloween afternoon.  With nothing to carve, I set out in search of a couple of pumpkins.  SIX stores later (I am not exaggerating), I came up empty-handed.  So Casey and I made peanut butter chocolate chip cookies from scratch while Marcie and Jason drew pictures (and Tate napped).

Not to fret, though, we had plenty of fun over the Halloween weekend, even without the pumpkin-carving.  On Saturday, we attended a costume party and brought some ghoulish appetizers to share:

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And then on Halloween, we put the finishing touches on the costumes and headed down the hill (where the street is pretty flat) for dinner and trick-or-treating with some friends.  It’s worth mentioning that our friends at the bottom of the hill will typically go through five giant Costco bags of candy on Halloween.  People drive to our neighborhood to go trick-or-treating.  There are so many trick-or-treaters, people don’t bother to open and close their doors—they just set up outside on the driveway.  We lucked out with beautiful weather, and as we raced after the kids, I commented to Jason that it felt like we were in a scene from a movie.  Just then, I looked up to see a small group of kids blowing by on their scooters.  It was pretty idyllic.

For comparison, we hand out full-size candy bars.  To encourage the trek up the hill.  And we never go through a single, 30-bar box from Costco.  Even when we leave the lights on until 9:00 p.m.

After the kids were finished, we checked through the candy (and otter pop) at home, told the kids they could each keep five pieces of their choice (one for each day this week after school), and then offered them $5 each for the remainder of the candy.  Well, offer is putting it nicely.  We told them we were taking their candy, and if they wanted $5 in exchange, well, we’d give them the money.  They took the money.

Alas, I did not do a good job with photos.  When Casey and Marcie were smaller, I’d chase after them with the camera.  Impose myself on neighbors so that I could capture the actual moment of trick-or-treating.  This year, with the almost-20-pounds of Tate strapped to me, chasing after the bigger kids, keeping up was all I could hope to do.  So no pictures.  Except the one I grabbed of Tate experiencing his first piece of Halloween candy (Reese’s peanut butter cup):



And this one I snapped just before we left the house.  Not of the kids, though—oh no.  This one is of Super Mario, Baby Mario and a High School Musical Cheerleader.