Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dear Easter Bunny . . .

On the night before Easter, we set up for the Easter Bunny’s visit. The kids picked the grass for their baskets. We prepared a carrot for the rabbit. We talked about what time we could get up to see what the Easter Bunny brought (6:30a.m. if you’re wondering). Marcie asked if they could “label” their baskets with note cards (as if the pink and blue grass wouldn’t give it away), and I said, “Sure. Why not?”

You know where this is going. I found out why not.

I don’t know what your Easter Bunny brings, but ours brings things like pajamas or t-shirts, summer-style shoes, a movie, or a video game, a book, music—and only one package of candy.

But before I knew what was happening, the kids wrote the Easter Bunny notes explaining exactly what they hoped to find in their baskets the next morning:

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And what do you know? The Easter Bunny delivered.

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All I’m saying is that I sure am glad that Wal-Mart is open until midnight.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

April Began with a Blast

April wasn’t so bad.

We managed to have ourselves a little bit of fun here and there.  We

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We did some ropes coursework.  In the first photos above, we climbed about 5 flights of stairs, 45 feet or so up in the air, and dropped straight down, attached to a pulley rope.  It was surprisingly difficult to make myself step off the ledge, even though I knew I was safe. I suppose I will never go bungie jumping.  Casey was incredible.  He did not want to go at first, and we did not push it.  But once he went, he went again and again- 4 or 5 times.  Marcie gets points for even trying—and even more points for knowing her limits and, once she looked over the edge, deciding not to jump at all.

After the free-fall, we headed to the zip line and ropes course.  Case flew down the zip line the first time so fast, my camera didn’t even catch him.  He loved it.

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We went to a Discovery Kids play town, which was a great way to spend what was supposed to be a rainy day.  They had different rooms for everything—a water table and plasma car area for the little kids, a life-sized fire truck, a drive through ATM window for the bank, an arts and crafts area, a building blocks/architecture area, an underwater room, a cafe, a grocery store, a farm, and I could go on and on.  It helped that my sister and brother-in-law were along with us because the kids were all over the place.

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And to round out the photos, we also went to an indoor water park and played laser tag (boys versus girls). 

It was a lot of fun to hang out with my sister and her husband and to see my parents.  And we found plenty to keep us busy.  (In addition to these activities, the kids went to a movie, played at a beautiful park with a lake, and went to a bird conservatory.)  It was a fantastic start to our April.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tate and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Flight

I had a small break in my schedule in April, so we quickly located tickets and planned a trip to North Carolina to visit my parents. It was supposed to be warmer in Charlotte than San Diego; Tate had not met his youngest aunt yet; and I needed some real R&R. So off we went.

We were smart about it: we got Tate his own seat.

And we are about as experienced as any other casual traveler can be. Heck, in the past 12 months, including this trip to North Carolina, our kids have been to Washington state, China, Hong Kong (which I suppose is part of China), Ohio, and now North Carolina. That's a lot of miles in a single year.

Well, it turns out our "big kids" have spoiled us. They sit quietly. They do not scream. They do not kick. They mostly entertain themselves with food and games and movies and sleeping. They are mostly patient. They are pretty darn good travelers.

But Tate- not so much. My first mistake was booking a flight that coincided exactly with nap time. He got super exhausted and then just cried and cried and cried (really, screamed and screamed and screamed). Normally I would just let him cry himself to sleep, but of course you can't really do that on a plane or the other passengers will eat you. So I did my best to rock him -- and after about an hour of screaming, he finally passed out. Just in time for us to land in Chicago and navigate to our next flight.

It was not until I was in the midst of his devilish screaming that I remembered Casey at age 2. Once I was flying alone with him, and I brought him into the toilet stall with me (it was the large, wheelchair accessible one, and he convinced me to let him out of his stroller). He crawled out under the stall and took off-- and I had to chase after him while pulling up my pants and dragging the stroller from behind. (Now I know to leave the kid in the stroller no matter how loudly he yells at me.) And I remember literally pressing my body on Casey's legs one flight to get him to stop kicking the seat in front of him. I don't know that it really worked. Poor passenger in front of me. Sigh. But that stage was so brief. I think. Isn't it amazing how little we remember those irritations?

I can't say we won't do it again soon. In fact, I am hoping we will get to go somewhere fun this summer.

Any advice from seasoned travelers with toddlers? If you are on a 5-6 hour flight, how do you entertain a child who likes to play in toilets, pull chewed-up gum out of trash cans and eat it, and throw toys out the back door into the yard? (Coincidentally, he seems to have calmed down on that last one after throwing a toy out what he thought was the open back door only to discover the door was closed. The loud crash and the projectile toy coming back at him scared the heck out of him. For now.)

P.S. Do you think it means something that both my terrible travel experiences have come resulted from my boys? Maybe we just didn't travel when Marcie was this age-- that's certainly plausible. I would not say that Marcie is less mischievious-- just that her mischief is, well, more brainy.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Love Multiplies

I've been thinking a lot about my kids' first moms. The ones who carried them around for nine or ten months. The ones who labored through the delivery and who heard their first cries. The ones who held their own breath while waiting to make sure their children took theirs. I was with Casey's birth mother when he was born. I know her graciousness. Her kind heart. Her true selflessness in making a decision I know was so very difficult for her because she believed, as his mother, it was the best thing for him. And, as I'm sure Casey will do as he gets older, I mourn her. I know that if she survived and were as lucky as I am to know him now, she would be as enchanted by him as we are. I mourn the loss of Marcie and Tate's birthmothers, too. I think about them from time to time. Of course I don't know their stories. I didn't play cards with them in the hospital while they were experiencing contractions. I didn't get to hold their hands while they were laboring. And I didn't experience their pain and loss as they said good-bye to their children. But I imagine that they felt it. And I wish they could know that whatever led them to make the choices they made, their children-- our children-- are doing just fine. This evening Jason and I were watching the kids play together. Casey had left the room to shower and put on his pajamas, and when he returned Tate squealed and kicked his feet, a testament to pure joy he must feel when he sees Casey after an absence. When I see these exchanges, it is so clear to me that Tate could not love Casey more. He was meant to be part of our family. We worried for a brief period of time before bringing him home that Tate wouldn't get as much attention because he's a third child. But we were wrong. Love truly multiplies.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Oh, Happy Adoption Day!

There's a book and a song called Happy Adoption Day, and I always think of it on our re-adoption days. We don't celebrate those days as a family, but I usually remember them around the right date, and it makes me think of the song. Well, yesterday was Tate's (re)adoption day. Of course I couldn't find our camera, but Jason's dad joined us and I did have my phone, so here we are at the end of the ceremony: Tate was a good sport. He high-fived Judge Gallagher. He drum-rolled on the table at the appropriate times. It was pretty amusing. During the picture, he kept turning to the judge and banging on his robe. (Thankfully the judge was very good-natured about it!) And the judge was super kind to Casey and Marcie-- confirming with each of them that they were prepared to help take care of their new brother. I think it was neat for them to experience what they had gone through (but have no memory of), too. There were lots of families there for adoptions-- and we were by far one of the very smallest groups. Many families had lots and lots of extended family. One family there was adopting a step-child adoption for 19-year-old-- and they were all so happy and excited. It reminded me that you're never too old to find a family to call your own. . . After the ceremony, we went to eat (I had not eaten yet). Here we are at Island's celebrating Tate's official California adoption:

After we ate, I went on to do some work while Casey (and the others) went to lacrosse practice. Then, because we'd eaten such an early "dinner," we decided to treat ourselves to Cold Stone for ice cream dinner around 6:30 or 7:00pm.

The afternoon was quite a treat for the whole family.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Keeping up with the Tater

This morning I offered Casey three dollars to watch Casey for a few minutes so I could get ready. When I exited my bedroom a few minutes later, Tate was covered in chocolate and blue marker. Casey swore he had no idea where the blue had come from. Then, this evening Jason and a good friend went up to L.A. to see the Clippers play the Lakers. Casey has a couple good buddies spending the night. They arrived about 20 minutes after Jason left. They started by playing football tag, then we went and had backwards dinner (frozen yogurt followed by pizza and video games at Round Table), and then we headed home. Not long after we got home, Tate got busy.

It started when he continuously pushed the "open/close" button on the DVD player so that we had to keep re-starting the movie the bigger kids were watching. Finally, I forced him to follow me back to the laundry room to-- ahem -- help. He got bored very quickly. The next thing I knew, the kids were yelling, "Boo Yow!" (No in Mandarin.) Tate, it turned out, had climbed up on the bean bag chair and was slapping Casey's friend Robbie in the face. Repeatedly. Fortunately Robbie is quite patient, and he didn't react. At all. And so tonight I learned the sign language sign for "hitting," and I think Tate already recognizes "no hitting."

After removing Tate from Robbie's vicinity, the kids said they were hungry and selected some chocolate chip muffins for a snack (shocking, right?). I'm not totally sure what happened, but the next thing I knew, Tate had swiped Robbie's muffin. So I gave Robbie a new muffin and figured I'd let Tate keep the one he stole. I went back to Marcie's room to help her pick out clothes for our upcoming trip, and when I looked up, Tate was standing there. With a trail of chocolate chip muffin crumbs behind. Most of the chocolate chips had been mashed into the carpet of Marcie's room. Of course. I stopped what I was doing to clean up the mess, and then heard more yelling.

Tate had figured out how to (literally) pull the plug on the old-school Pac-Man game the bigger boys were playing. I told him it was time for milk, prepared his bottle, and sat with him to make sure he drank it. When it was mostly empty, he got up with it. I didn't think much of, and I was having a rare quiet and good moment with Marcie, so I didn't immediately follow him. But when I looked up, he had shaken his bottle all. over. the. floor.


Fortunately, it was bedtime. For him, anyway.

Friday, April 01, 2011

The Earthquake and the Salami

I haven't been sleeping well. Not really sure why. But one night this past week, I was awake around 3:30 a.m. I think maybe Tate had been up for a bit and then I had trouble falling back asleep.

At 3:48 (on my clock-- which is never set to exactly the right time), the house shuddered and I leapt out of bed. In the dark, I removed the glass frame above our bed. And I paced for a couple minutes, waiting for the longer shaking I was anticipating. It never came.

The next morning I told the kids we'd had an earthquake.

Casey looked at me in earnest and said, "Mom, are we gonna have a salami?"

I sat there a bit stunned, wondering (1) why Casey would be thinking about lunch meat at 7:00 in the morning and (2) what lunch meat has to do with earthquakes.

And then it hit me. TSUNAMI.

Wasn't life easier when we called them tidal waves?