Samuel Jerome and Richnightder

Samuel Jerome and Richnightder
Our boys in Haiti

Thursday, December 30, 2010

continuous electrical service is a good thing

Last winter we lost power several times due to snow and high winds.  The last outage we had was on Good Friday which was early in the month of April.  Our power went out and stayed out for many days.  We ended up with the rest of humanity at Lowe's on Easter Sunday to buy a generator and it now holds a place of honor in our garage.  We revere that appliance and bow down in reverance at its ability to bring us light, heat and most importantly, TV when the power lines are down.

We are in the midst of a blizzard which is supposed to last until Saturday.  So far, we haven't had a bunch of snow, but we have 45mph winds that is causing the light, powdery snow to blow into white-out conditions.  In anticipation of this storm, I shopped for food, bought extra dog,cat, bunny and guinea pig food, and medicine for the horses in case we are unable to leave. 

I never see it as a good sign when you get a letter in the mail from your electric company explaining that Mother Nature has her own agenda and often knocks out our accustomed electrical service.  So when this letter arrived from Capital Electric Cooperative, I initally laughed.  Then I smiled.  See, this letter also asked us to check all the boxes on the enclosed postcard in which we would be able to help the power company in times of outages.  Would we be willing to offer assistance; do we have a tractor; do we have a snowblower; do we have a snow mobile; do we have a 4 wheel drive vehicle....on and on and on.  I smiled because in this great age of our's with advanced technology, when the going gets rough, it still comes down to neighbor helping neighbor.  I think that gets lost in big cities, but here in rural North Dakota, a mere 20 miles from our states capitol, people have to pull together to help get a community effort completed.

When our power goes out, it isn't very long before I hear the snowmobiles of the Capital Electric workers traversing the fields in search of downed lines and poles.  Even when the weather is horrible and brutally cold, those men and women, leave their homes to restore power to others.  If our power company wants help from us and we have some equipment to help them, then they can have it.  I have a feeling this sense of good-will and sense of community is a dying way of life.  But here in North Dakota, I really am smiling knowing that our power company aims to provide service, but still isn't above asking it's neighbors for help too.  Simply charming!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ma in her kerchief and pa in the garage assembling bikes

By some miracle, we managed to get 4 kids bathed, dressed and to church by 4PM for the candlelight service.  It was packed but it was a beautiful service complete with Ole and Lena jokes.  Singing Silent Night by candlelight is beautiful and puts you in the true spirit of Christmas.  Sadly, as soon as the kids raced to the car, the fight was on as to who stepped on whos foot, etc. and the beautiful feelings were over.

They argued the whole ride home, which took a little longer tonight due to the snow drifts on the road and the fog.  As soon as we got home, I hurriedly made dinner while Marc and Madison headed out to feed the horses.  Once dinner was shoved down their throats and into their belly's I ushered the two little ones off to bed so Marc could commence with his chore of bike assembly.

He only has two to put together, but I figure it will still take him a little while since reading the directions is always a last resort.  Somehow he always manages to have 'extra' parts leftover.  I suppose when the handle bars come off and the wheel falls off, we'll know where those pieces belonged.  But I think Marc is most excited that Thomas will be receiving the quintescential Christmas gift memorialized in the movie, A Christmas Story, that any boy could hope to get.  Yes, Thomas is getting an official Red Rider BB gun, sans a compass in the stock.  As I type, Thomas is watching that movie again and never seems to tire of it.  Well neither do I, but he can watch it back-to-back  and still stay engrossed.

So far, I haven't heard an onslaught of cursing from the garage so it's going well for Marc and the assembly process.  With any luck, Marc will be finished by midnight and we can catch some sleep before their stampeding feet rouse us from our winter slumber. 

Tomorrow afternoon Madison has a friend who will be spending the night with us.  She is a very nice young lady and I just hope that the shock of seeing what a house full of boys is like doesn't make her becoming violently ill.  She'll get to enjoy our Christmas dinner complete with inevitable argument, and followed by cake and indigestion.  I don't think we'll head to church on Sunday as the entire month of January I am both a deacon and a teller(money counter) and that is in addition to my confirmation class duties.  Sheesh, being on the church council has a lot of extra duties!

I can't stop yawning and so I bid everyone a good night.  Outside our window now, the moon is adding a luster on the crest of the new fallen snow and it looks to be perfect for weather for Santa and his sleigh to make a visit.  The cookies and milk are on the fireplace hearth and hopefully by tomorrow morning, santa will have taken some bites out of our cookies as evidence of his visit.  Jerome is soooo excited about Christmas that I hope he can sleep.  I really, really don't want to do present opening before 5AM.

To all a goodnight!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Is it really a burn-in-hell card to drink the sacramental wine...after church?

Today was a long day in church for us, by Lutheran standards.  We were the greeters at the 8:30AM service so we had to be there by 8ish.  In addition, I was the reader and Madison was doing altar guild duties which require her to put out the dish with the communion wafers and fill the challices with wine and grape juice.  Then the kids had Sunday School which today was practice for the 10:30 service which was solely the Christmas play.  Marc and Thomas had leading roles and both rocked the lines and play.  Madison had confirmation class and as a Confirmation guide I had to sit thru class with her too.

Pastor Paul is a super cool, hip guy and today's confimation class consisted of a video of the orginal "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."  His hope was that the kids would grasp the meaning of the movie which is that Christmas is not about things, it's about love, which God gave us with the gift of Jesus and that nothing can stop that from happening...not even a grinch.  Ok, ok, I just wanted to give you a brief synopsis of our day before I get to the sacramental wine.

I helped Madison put away the un-used Communion wafers, otherwise known as the Body of Christ and helped her empty the chalice's which held the wine and grape juice, AKA the Blood of Christ.  Pastor Paul had told Madison that she could either drink the left over liquids or pour them out as they cannot be reused.  Seeing as it was going to be a LOOOOONNNNNNGGGGGG day, I decided I would take a large gulp of the "Blood of Christ" before pouring it down the drain because being wasteful is a sin (HA)!  Well, in walks Pastor Paul as I'm sipping (cough) the wine and just shakes his head.  He did point out that in all his years of Pastoring he has never walked in on someone in the Sacristy drinking the wine.  I quickly pointed out that he had informed my 13 year old daughter that she could either drink the unused wine or pour it down the drain, so he should not be shocked to find her mother volunteering for 'clean-up' duties.  He's a cool guy, so it was a funny situation especially as I was just elected to a 3 year position on the church council.  God I love the Lutheran's.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

all 4 of 'em in one place at the same time

Because I am so on-top of things, always prepared and never procrastinate, I just rounded up the kids and
 headed outside to take a Christmas photo.  Of course my lack of planning caused us to do this when it is a balmy 9 degrees with a stiff wind and a light snowfall.  Everyone was crabby to say the very least...even the horse was crabby as we stripped off her blanket and exposed her to the nasty elements.

Below find the 4 choices that we will have to wittle down to THE ONE that will appear on the 2010 Laurie Family Christmas card.  Oh Joy!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Let me tell you a little story about....

a beautiful baby girl named Madison.  She was born on a Spring day in Portland, Oregon to a woman named Angela.  Marc and I were right there as Madison made her first appearance in this world.  She was so fresh from God and the angels.  Her beautiful black, curly hair, her perfect mocha-colored skin, her incredibly loud, demanding voice.  Yes, from her first breath, Madison made it clear to the world she was a force to be reckoned with.

We feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have been given the privilege to parent this soul.  Without her birth parents, Angela and Darryl, we would never have heard the sweet words fall from Madison's lips calling us mom and dad.  We also count our blessings that Angela and Darryl have remained an integral part of our lives.  The beauty of open adoptions is evidenced in our ability to raise a healthy, happy daughter who knows her genetic roots and is able to see the reflection of her face and personality in her birthmother's eyes.  All is well and wonderful in our adoption story with Madison; a fact we revel in.

We have also been fortunate enough to meet extended family members suchas grandparents, aunts and uncles.  We have been able to vacation with Darryl's family including his mom and step-dad and they have visited us here in North Dakota and stayed with us for a week or so.  And this is where my story and quandry begins.

When her paternal grandparents visited us in North Dakota in 2007 all went well until Madison had a melt-down.  She yelled at us, stomped up and down the stairs, slammed her bedroom door and was, in general, a snotty 'tween.  It was a difficult time at our home since my mother was in Oregon, dying of Alzheimers and had just entered Hospice care.  But even taking that into account, Madison was just being Madison.  She has been strong-willed since her first breath, head-strong, determined and too bright for her own good.  R and E, her visiting grandparents had been annoyed by the fact that Madison and Thomas had friends over all the time and I allowed them to go in and out of the house all day.  I also allowed them to have ice pops at their desire and this seemed to annoy R and E also.  Another annoyance seemed to be that Marc and I were in the process of adopting Richnigthder and Jerome.  R seemed concerned about this and questioned us and our reasons for doing so.  She also questioned Madison on a long trail ride about her thoughts, concerns, fears of having new brothers.  Ok, I let this go as I didn't see it as anything of great bother and it certainly wasn't great enough to rock the boat.  We were just happy to have a relationship with Madison's birth grand mother and step grand father.

One night as I washing dishes, R and E came to the kitchen counter and asked if they could talk to me about something.  Sure, what the hell; my life is an open book.  WHAM!  What came out of R's mouth actually made me feel light-headed.  I don't know if I felt that way due to anger or saddness.  What she said was that she needed to talk to me about something and she wanted to know if Madison was mentally ill.  Yep, you heard me correctly, she said she thought Madison was mentally ill!  Her basis for this thinking was Madison's rude behavior to Marc and me, her obstinance when asked to do a chore and her apparant feeling of empowerment to have ice pops without asking.  I too politely explained to her that Madison has been of this temperment since birth and I acknowledged that she indeed can get mouthy at home with us, but has NEVER, EVER been disrespectful to an adult outside of this home.  She is giving of her time, generous of nature and kind to others.  I also expressed that I thought she was very well-behaved and polite for the most part and I saw no mental illness.  Quite honestly I felt so hurt, I wanted to burst into tears and run to my room like a baby.  How can Madison's flesh-and-blood grandmother think such awful things about her grandchild, let alone utter them outloud to me. 

I admit my mistake in this was not sharing my true feelings with R and E that very moment.  I tried to be polite and act as though nothing had occurred, but it was palpable.  The tension in the house grew from then on until their departure.  Since then, I have not spoken to R.  I miss her, but realize that if those are her beliefs about my child, I guess there is no way to change her mind.  I also know that thru the grapevine, she is aware of her offending comment to me, and has never called, written or emailed to discuss/apologize for offending us and Madison in such a painful way.

Now fast forward to this morning when an envelope arrived from R and E addressed to the Laurie Family.  What has taken us by suprise is that there was an envelope inside addressed plainly to 'the grandkids' and contained 2 gift cards for $50 each.  The financial amount is generous, but what I find disagreeable is that it neither acknowledges the FOUR kids by name, nor acknowledges that there are in fact now FOUR grandchildren as compared to the 'original' two.  Thomas is not their biological grandson, but fortunately, they had always treated him as though he were.  Now it seems as though they are failing to acknowledge the little boys.  Am I being thin-skinned about this?  I had always felt lucky that Madison's birth family was so involved, but their slights, rude, hurtful comments have obviously led us to this uncomfortable place.

Richnightder and Jerome don't understand that the two gift cards excluded them, and Madison and Thomas have agreed that the only correct thing is to use the money to buy something for all 4 of them.  Wow, for a girl that is 'mentally ill' she sure seems to understand the difference between right and wrong.

So that's my little bitchy Christmas story.  I suppose  it's not really bitchy, but more painful than anything.  I tend to keep slights and insults to myself, at least for a good long time, but I had expected that R would contact me in some fashion to apologize or discuss the fact that she over-stepped her boundaries in my home, regarding MY daughter.  I operate on the system that if I believe I have even possibly offended someone, I contact them to offer my apologies and my sincerest hope of extracting my foot from my mouth.

My kids are my everything.  They might be a pain in the butt, but those little butt's are all mine.  All of my kids have strengths and weaknesses just like every other human being.  I am accutely aware of their qualities and when someone comes at me from any point of view that doesn't aim to make their lives better, you better watch out.  Hmmmm, I guess when it comes to standing up to R, I took the easy way out; the path of peace on to be shown that that was probably not in our family's best interest.  Today I hurt for my daughter and the relationship with R that seems lost, and the knowledge that they are losing out on 4 great kids.

Oh, and Angela, Madison would like to stay with you for a week or so in June when we are in Seattle for her confirmation trip.  I just thought you might like to make some waterpark plans for a hot day and see what trouble you two girls can get into!!!  HAHAHAHA...P.s.  I'll send lots of Solarcaine!  Love you oodles, Angela!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

time flies

I find it almost impossible to believe that Richnigthder and Jerome have been home from Haiti for 19 months now.  It seems like just yesterday we were hopping on the plane to head to Port-au-Prince as a family of 4, only to return to the USA with the two littlest ones making us a complete family of 6.

Last week Marc and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.  The kids made cards for us and all of them will be keepsakes forever.  Madison's card for us was written in French and she drew a picture of Marc and me holding hands.  Luckily, Madison is grandly delusional and drew me as thin and willowy.  I haven't been thin and wispy since she was born, so bless her heart for drawing me in a flattering light.  Jerome drew a VERY interesting picture of us.  Once again its of Marc and me together.  Marc's torso is a square and saddly the picture shows that Marc must be suffering from Elephantitis of his right leg as it is massively swollen compared to his toothpick left leg.  Also, Marc's mouth is wide open and he appears to be yelling.  Hmmm?  But its the picture of me that is REALLY interesting.

As Jerome drew me, he must have been picturing how he came into this world.  Since he has a most horrible birth story the first 4 years of his life, he must be searching to add pieces to his story.  You see, he drew a picture of a VERY PREGNANT me.  I asked him who I was pregnant with and he answered that he was in my  tummy.  The thought and sentiment are remarkably sweet, but the picture was most unflattering.  Not only did he draw a picture of me looking like an elephant in the 24th month of gestation, but he clothed me in a stripped moo-moo.  Trust me, even in pictures, stripes just don't work for me.  But oh how I love my sweet, easy-going Jerome. 

Richnigthder and Thomas continue to have alpha dog battles daily.  Those two can fight over anything.  They are now fighting over who smells more like manure and they enlisted me to give the deciding vote.  Once again, Thomas earns the privilege of being the smelliest boy in the house, an honor he takes seriously.

Madison has ridden outside everyday this week, even in the single digit temps and falling snow.  She takes her dressage riding very seriously and I love her determination.  Now if she would only spend a few minutes cleaning her hell hole of a bathroom, we would all be happy.  It's so gross even the boys won't use it.  'Nough said!

The kids are getting older at an alarming rate and while 99% of the time this makes me ecstatic, sometimes it makes me sad to realize how fast time has flown by.  Madison is approaching 14 and it honestly feels like it was just yesterday that we stood alongside Angela in the delivery room watching Madison make her enterance into this world.  When Marc cut the cord and I held her for the first time, I couldn't imagine how fast time would fly.  She was only 15 months old when Thomas came home and she seemed so grown up and such a big helper to me then.  She's still a big helper, just with a big teenaged mouth attached.  Thomas has grown to be an extremely handsome young man with a most gently and kind heart.  School work remains a struggle for him and me, but I know homeschool is where he needs to be to continue to thrive.  Richnigthder and Jerome are physically and emotionally growing before my eyes.  I still feel cheated that I misssed out on so much of their lives.  19 months have rocketed by and I am frightened at how quickly the day is approaching when they will all strike out on their own paths in life and I will be able to sleep in, have a margarita with lunch and read a book til my eyes bleed.  I picture a day like that when I am struggling to tread water and wonder if, when they are all grown, I will ever be able to relax without all my chicks at home in the nest?  Of course, 4 kids in college will be a source of anxiety for me, not just financially, but always questioning if they are alright and doing the right thing.  Guess until then, I'll continue to slog through the days and day dream about the all too quickly approaching days of empty nesting.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The moon in retrograde

Thomas has had a difficult time focusing for about 3 weeks now.  The pressure is on him...and complete his academic year by December 31.  He can do it, but when faced with the pressure of completing daily work which includes small compositions, he folds.  He gets angry and yells and storms around, all of which I recognize as his way of avoiding the work.

Today I had high hopes of a calm, productive school day, but alas, it hasn't been that way.  Thomas has been argumentative about finishing his work, heck even starting his work.  He doesn't mind reading and doing independent work, but intensely dislikes having to write his answers and form complete sentences in coherent paragraphs.  When faced with difficulty, Thomas creates distractions by being naughty which tends to shift my focus from him and his responsibilities as a student, to mom mode and me stopping his behavior.  He knows he must complete his work but become soooo frustrated he can't even focus on accomplishing one small assignment.

I swear the kid can find 9 gazillion reasons to avoid school work:  the room is too dark/bright; hot/cold; loud/quiet; pencil is too short/too long.  I could go on and on.  So in the midst of this regular annoyance, I try to get Richnigthder and Jerome settled and into their school day.  They usually both start with math and are able to continue without much hovering and typically complete said assignments independently and correctly.  While they begin math, Madison begins her day reviewing her lesson manual and getting an idea of how long her day will be.  She has a full day and works about 75% independently with some help from me on grammar/composition and geography. 

Just for fun today we added in a 'lost' dog to the mix.  It is snowing and about 7 itty-bitty degrees above zero.  We are expecting even nastier tomorrow and lasting into Thanksgiving morning so having a lost house dog would be devestating.  No one could find Gucci anywhere in the house.  We checked closets, beds, cabinets, tubs, basically we scoured the house and garage.  I called Marc, crying or course, and as he headed home, we got dressed and hit the snowy fields looking and calling for him.  I got in the car and drove to the neighbors calling and calling, hoping to see his little black head pop up somewhere in the snow.  Sadly that did not pan out.

I drove home and could see the kids searching the culvert under our driveway and saw they too, had failed to find him.  I couldn't believe that one of our 4 dogs, that we never let outside without one of us could be lost.  Had we left a door open?  Did the dog run out with Marc when he went out to feed the horses?  It was a mystery.

I told Thomas to run to our back deck and see if Gucci had climbed into the cabinet below the bbq.  I was grasping at straws here as I had no idea where he could be.  A minute later I saw Thomas WITH Gucci running down the driveway to me.  Seems when he was on the deck checking the bbq, he heard whimpering coming from the utility room.  He went inside and heard Gucci in the dryer!  Marc had taken a load of clothes out this morning and figures he left the door open and Gucci jumped in.  I suppose it's completely possible that as he jumped in, it flipped the door closed behind him.  All I know is that I am soooo happy and thankful that my dog is not outside lost and wandering in the cold and snowy weather.

I love my Gucci, Carlos, Kitty and Bunny.  I love my Tommy, Hondo, Josh, Lucki, Ka Ching, Coco, Blue, Lolly, Corntassle and Baby.  I love my April, Elmer, Momma and Tulip.  I love my Panda and Darryl.  I *like* Cochon and Bacon.  I don't think I've forgotten anyone...since these are all my furry babies!  And yes, I am thankful they are all safe and sound just where they should be!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's almost our 20th anniversary

A month ago I accidentally dropped my Movado watch down our garbage disposal and without knowing it was in there, flipped the switch and turned it on.  The horrible grinding noise emminating from the disposal made me say a cuss word and I completely expected to reach inside and pull out a gnargled spoon.

What I pulled out, made me burst into tears.  I sobbed and wailed.  It wasn't just a watch.  It was a watch that Marc and I purchased together on a cruise in 2007 in Belize.  He got a matching one too.  We had spent the day drinking on the beach, probably...ok, actually to excess...but we were without kids for the first time and were just two love birds alone, enjoying each other's company.  The margarita's and fresh salsa made everything perfect.  The brilliantly clear water and gorgeous white sand added to our memories and as we returned to the cruise ship we of course had to pass thru the luxury shops.  We indulged in buying matching Movado watches and relished them as a luxury.  My watch meant the world to me as we bought them as a sign of our love for each other.

After I mushed it up in the disposal, Marc sent it off for an estimate of repairs. Saddly, the repairs exceeded the cost of a new one and Marc had it returned to us.  I thought that was the end of it and mourned the loss of my beloved watch.  Today I received a box from UPS that required a signature.  Marc told me to open it and inside was a brand new, identical watch to the one I mangled.  Oh how I love my husband!

Now what should I get him for our anniversary?  What can equal the sentiment attached to the watch he replaced for me?  I am at a loss.  Ideas anyone?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

With these odds, I need to buy a lottery ticket

Let's see.  3 visits to the ER in 3 weeks.  Last visit was 48 hours ago when Richnigtder's head collided with my horse's head and resulted in a small concussion.

Fast forward to the present.  Thomas just ran inside yelling that Madison got bucked off her Arabian mare and is hurt badly.  I ran outside in just my pajama pants, well, and a t-shirt, but my point is that it is only 28 degrees outside right now.  Marc hobbled after me slowly since his ankle is still healing and the splint slows him up. 

She was walking towards me when I got out there and seemed OK except that she was holding her right wrist.  As she relays the story, she hopped on Lucki bareback and Jerome startled the horse which resulted in Madison landing full weight on her right wrist.  This happened in our outdoor arena so the dirt is somewhat soft and tilled up so we are really. REALLY hoping it's just a sprain and we don't have to go back to the ER.

At this rate, I'm going to ask for a punch card and see if on the 10th visit I get a free donut or something.  AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Because I Can't Make This Stuff Up

Two weeks ago today, Madison was in the ER for her migraine.  Last Saturday Marc hopped off the tractor and tore a piece of bone away from his ankle along with shredding his tendons and ligaments.  And last night it was Richnigthder's turn to make an emergency visit.  Yep, count 'em....that's three in 3 weeks!

Madison feeds the horses every evening and Richnigthder waters them.  Last night they were both in my horse's stall while Madison fed the grain and Richnigthder filled the water buckets.  I'm not quite sure how it happened, but as Richnigthder bent down, my horse brought is head up and hit Rich straight in the forehead between his eyes.  It was a hard enough knock that it threw him backwards where as he was falling, smacked the back of his head on the water bucket.  Madison was there as it happened and she said he was dizzy, and confused as he stood up and then ran into the house. 

I saw him come in and run downstairs, but thought nothing of it.  Madison followed behind and told me what happened.  I went downstairs and found him wanting to sleep.  NO WAY!  Marc came home a few minutes later and we took both took him to the hospital.  The doctor gave him some coordination tests and said he seemed "Fine."  Yeah, right.  I kept reiterating how he wanted to sleep and she said to let him.  SURE!

We had to stop on the way home and pick up Thomas from the Iszler's house and we stayed for some time swapping stories of our kids and our cumulative ER visits.  Unfortunately it seems that whenever we take a kid there, on of their boys ends up in the ER soon too.  I love having good friends that share our similar states of constant chaos and manageable disasters.

So anyhow, that's what we did for fun last night.  I'm not sure but I think it was more fun than spending 6 hours at church today making Lefse with 20 or so teenagers for the youth group fundraiser.  How do you spend your weekends??

Friday, November 12, 2010

"How come you homeschool?"

Most days I love the fact that I am privileged enough that I get to home educate my children.  Most days it is a good thing and I enjoy their company, their humor, their "lightbulb" moments.  However, I never intended to be a homeschool mom.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever believe I was capable of doing such a thing.  But then circumstances both in private school and public school led me to this decision.

When we moved to North Dakota in the summer of 2003, we enrolled Madison and Thomas in a Lutheran school and all went well there until Madison was in third grade.  She had a little girl in class that told Madison that she was beneath her and was not allowed to play with her because of this.  I really believed that the little girl must have misinterpreted what her mother said so I took the bull by the horns and asked the mother.  I honestly felt anger like I have rarely before when she looked me in the face and told me that yes, she had told her daughter that about Madison and our family.  Armed with an overt confession of bigotry, I marched to the principal's office where she promptly told me and I quote, "We've never had to deal with this type of situation before so if you choose to leave, you'll go with our blessing."  WHAT???   In short order we were told to take our black children elsewhere as they just didn't know how to handle racism!

Yes, the principal told us that it would in essence be easier for her if we took our two black children elsewhere as it was a Pandora's box issue she had never dealt with, nor obviously cared to deal with now.  It was also around this time that we moved further out of Bismarck and that prompted us to withdraw the kids from private school and enroll them in the local 2 room school house which taught K-8 grade.  Once again I was foolishly optimistic about the potential for academic growth.

Madison entered in 4th grade and continued with her record of straight A's.  Thomas began 2nd grade and immediately began to flounder.  In the little school house, grades K-3 were taught in one classroom and grades 4-8 in the other.  There were two teachers and 2 aides for the entire 19 students enrolled.  Madison's teacher was actually a nice man.  His love of educating and of children was obvious.  He worked hard to instill in the children a desire to achieve beyond mediocrity.  Thomas' teacher was something else!  It was her first year teaching and she sucked at it!!  She had a total of 9 kids in her class and needed a full time kindergarten teacher to be hired as she couldn't handle it herself.  She struggled to be kind to the boys in her class, and seemed to enjoy the girls.  None of the boys seemed to do anything acceptable and she kept detailed notes on Thomas' every misdeed Monday thru Friday.  That damn purple notebook came home everyday with page after page of detailed transcripts of what Thomas had failed to do both academically and socially. 

I stopped looking at the book as it was too damn depressing and then it became kind of comical.  If this woman was supposed to be teaching, how could she keep this running daily log?  Honestly, this purple notebook would often have 2-3 pages of notes.  The woman was obsessed it seemed with noting only bad things.  The final straw came by a fluke.  After butting heads with this woman for a year and several months, Marc attended a school board meeting where it 'slipped' out that neither teacher had passed their minimum teaching standards for the second time.  HMMMMM????

I decided to pull Thomas out of school in October and began homeschooling him using Calvert.  I love Calvert's no-nonsense approach to learning.  They expect the child to learn; not just do the work, but actually remember it and build upon that knowledge.  I pulled Madison out of public school at the Christmas break as she had overheard both teachers talking about Thomas and what a mistake it was for me to homeschool.  Suprisingly Madison went willingly.  I anticipated a fight as she is my social butterfly, but she looked forward to homeschool with gusto.

So that is how I ended up home educating the oldest two kids.  The little boys arrival from Haiti added yet another long story that I just don't have the energy to go into right now.  Suffice it to say that they too are thriving in homeschool and appear to be achieving academically and socially very well.  Now that I homeschool the kids and dare say, enjoy it, I will not go back to public school. Our experience was so sad and disappointing that once I was tossed into this realm, I feel it was for the best.  I am in this for the long haul and hope to see my children achieve to the highest possible levels.  I tell all 4 kids that college is not an option it is a MUST!

I sincerely hope I am giving them everything they need to succeed in life.  I also hope I am giving them the confidence to stretch themselves academically.  Home education does seem to be more rigorous, at least by the curriculum I use, but I feel in todays global society, it is a must.  These kids must have someone fully invested in their future.  Someone who cares what they learn.  Someone who's job review is reflected everyday in their children's behavior and knowledge.

But today, as the oldest two struggle to put together compositions and the youngest two grapple with cursive handwriting, I am ready to leap out the window.  Unfortunately the window isn't high enough to cause me permanent damage, probably just a broken leg.  Today in this household, there is much too much togetherness.  I think a recess is in order and they all need to go outside and get rosy-cheeked while mama stays inside and escapes into the cyber world. 

Before I escape life and reality, I would like to add that Madison and Thomas have each had exceptional teachers who's care and concern for them as student's was obvious.  We all remember those teachers we've had that make learning fun and instill a love of it within us.  Their efforts go forth with us forever.  Madison's kindergarten teacher in Oregon started Madison out on the right foot and Madi will never forget her.  She cared about her student's education and was a genuinely wonderful woman.  Thomas had a first grade teacher that overlooked his wiggles to help keep him marching down the road of education.  I feel fortunate that Thomas had someone early on in his academic life that overlooked his fidgeting and focused solely on his abilities to learn.  For the people who are called to teach and do it with a passion, my hat is off to you!  And for the few in that profession who are in the wrong career...get out!  You're giving the true professionals a bad name. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bon Jour, Bunny!

Every morning as the kids wander out to the kitchen, or I have to drag them from their beds, I welcome them with, "Bon jour,            "   This morning as Jerome rounded the corner, the first thing he saw was our dog, Bunny and then I heard him give her a warm, greeting of  "Bon jour, Bunny!"

This kid warms my heart.  He is tender, kind, generous of spirit and perpetually happy.  Tonight when I tuck Jerome and Richnigthder into bed and utter the usual, "Bon nwit" I will give them a little extra hug to let them know just how happy they make me and how lucky I feel to be able to call them my sons.

Yesterday I took Madison for another dressage lesson and right afterwards, Ka Ching was having the equine dentist float her teeth.  It was snowing very lightly as we drove there, but as the lesson wore on and the dental visit persisted, the snow began to cover the roads.  The sleepy drugs they gave Ka Ching wore off very slowly and we didn't hit the road to come home until 5PM.  It was a little slick and I wasn't enjoying hauling the trailer with the new horse in it, but we had to get home.  Madison turned on Michael Buble's Christmas CD and we sang along....woefully out of tune....but enjoying ourselves anyway.

I heard our weatherman say the dreaded "S" word tonight......snow!  Yes, we've had snow already, but not the ground covering kind that lasts all winter long.  He said it is supposed to snow next week and then get a bit chilly towards Thanksgiving.  He's betting on a white Thanksgiving.  Blech!  Just so you know, chilly in North Dakota means highs in the teens and lows about zero.  Whooppee. 

Thomas has hit a growth spurt and is almost as tall as I am.  The big difference between Thomas and me is that he is my lean boy.  He is one lean, buff, muscle mass.  I, on the other hand, have a body that was built to with stand plagues, natural disasters, and starvation.  In other words it significantly over-achieves in the 'keeping the fat' on department.  I WANT MY 20 SOMETHING BODY BACK!!!!!  Life is unfair.  Now, where did I leave that Butterfinger?

Monday, November 8, 2010

So which is it? Supper or dinner?

When we moved to North Dakota 7 years ago, I was suprised to hear people refer to the meal typically consumed in the evening as 'supper'.  I had rarely heard that expression before.  I had always refered to the evening meal as dinner.

So which is it people?  Is it more commonly called supper or dinner?  Is it a regional thing?

Marc went to the doctor today for his ankle and he does seem to have a small bone chip pulled away with the tendons and ligaments.  He's supposed to keep it wrapped and give it light exercise.  All I can say, is that the doctors expect people to buck up and be hearty and stoic here!

A disjointed post at best, but I am feeling as though my karma is massively off.  I keep throwing out positive, happy energy and keep attracting negativity.  Today Thomas has had a horrible, terrible, rotten day.  He seemed incapable of focusing;seemed angry and argumentative and had a complete lack of respect for everyone, including himself.  I know this is part of having a language disorder which makes it hard for him to interpret social cues, but man 'o man, was today a tough day.

I knew if I posted about how fortunate I felt to have my 4 sweet kids, that one of them would prove the normalcy of our life by displaying crappy behavior.  Today was a rough day with Thomas and that energy flowed over to everyone else in the household.  Amazing how one person's off day, can affect everyone else and totally throw off any chance of a productive homeschool day.  I can't quite figure out what is eating at Thomas, but something is weighing heavily on his mind.  I just wish he could articulate his feelings verbally rather than acting out with lousy, destructive behavior.

All I can add at this point is that the worst days of homeschooling are by far, still much better than the best days of public school.  I promise I won't complain too much, but days like today sure make me see how hard some things are for Thomas to grasp and how he struggled with concepts in public school.  Yeah, today was hard for me.  Frustrating.  Infuriating.  Sad.  I know Madison, Adam, and Jerome were affected too, but if it's like this for me, I can't even begin to imagine what it must feel like for Thomas.

He's quietly reading a book which he has to for school, but at least he's quiet and self-soothing.  Now there's a line from a movie.  You know what I'm talking about.  In the movie Meet the Focker's,  Robert DeNiro's character tells Greg Focker that the baby is "Being Ferberized and learnign to self soothe."  If you haven't seen the movie, you have to since it is really funny and for those that have seen it already, you know what I'm talking about.

Ramble, ramble, ramble....I gotta run and stop this disorganized diatribe.  Should I hit the publish button or not?  What the hell, I'll do it and let people see the chaos inside my itty bitty brain. :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What's a weekend without another trip to the doc in a box?

Last weekend was the Madison show with her migraine and the IV drip in the ER.  This weekend it was Marc and his ankle and Jerome and Thomas for their sinus infections.  Where to begin.......?

Yesterday all of us, the whole darn family, pulled together, pitch forks in hand and began cleaning stalls.  The weather was glorious, especially for a November day in North Dakota.  Marc was feeling frisky and in a giddy leap from the tractor, promptly landed on the side of his left ankle.  Being the spider monkey hand-to-hand combat guy he is, I thought the tuck-and-roll maneuver he executed was just part of his muy macho persona, but oh no.  As he struggled to stand up right, it was obvious that his ankle was unusually puffy.  He refused to stop working in the barn and persisted on which only exacerbated his injury.  Today he longer has an ankle, but he is now proudly sporting a man cankle!  It's a lovely hue of purple, black and blue complete with little mud turtles for toes.  I tried to make him lie down today to elevate his foot and ice it, which he did for about 3 1/2 minutes.  We'll have to wait and see how it looks and feels tomorrow.

Jerome fell asleep in church today not because Pastor Paul was boring, but because he has complained for several days now of a chronic headache.  He has a cough to boot and being the outstanding mother that I am, immediately realized he probably has a sinus infection.  Thomas also has had the same symptoms and so in a two-fer deal, I took both of them to doc in a box today.  I liked this doctor much better than the ER doctor Madison had last weekend, but I digress.  Both boys are now on Zithromax and I hope it clears them up and their lingering throbbing headaches.

I took Madison for a follow up appointment with her pediatrician on Wednesday and he felt as I did that her headaches are largely hereditary; closely followed by the fact she too has a sinus infection, stress and hormones.  She is on Amoxicillian which now puts our household up to 3 out of 4 kids on antibiotics.  Her ped. whom I really like, suggested that we hit her headaches ASAP with a combo of Tylenol and Motrin and if that fails to abort the headache to follow up with the prescription he gave us of Hydrocodone.  He doesn't want to prescribe Imitrex or similar drugs yet, since his goal right now is to avoid ER visits for pain and to allow her to function without being completely dopey and unable to function.  Poor thing has had migraines since she was 4 or 5 years old and as she gets older the headaches are becoming longer lasting in duration.

Tomorrow Madison has another dressage lesson on her new horse, Ka Ching.  They are becoming quite a nice pair and are working well together.  Now all we need is a new Sprenger bit, dressage headstall, a mattes pad for her saddle and new half-chaps.  I think we have aptly named the horse!  Everything involves mucho dinero and both Marc and I keep hearing that cash register sound over and over of ka ching, ka ching, ka ching!

Richnigthder is still my brilliant, driven little man.  He has been riding my horse both bare back and in an English saddle and is taking my horse over Cavaletti poles and itt-bitty jumps.  He has a blast and no amount of my arguing with him that the horse is a reiner, not trained to jump, fails to deter him.  He loves the horses and has a natural knack with them. 

My sweetheart Jerome announced tonight at dinner, out of the blue I might add, that he is "Most happy that I have my family!"  I think he sums up what is most important in life.  Having someone to love and be loved, health, happiness and people to share it with.  He embodies all that is good, innocent and simply joyful in life.  How fortunate I feel to have my 'problems' when so many other struggle with tragedies.  Today, I am thankful for my fighting, yelling kids that now require me to get up and stop the impending blood shed.  Just when I am on a roll of ridiculously happy thoughts, their arguing snaps me back to reality! :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

And Yet Another E.R. Visit

This time our trip to the ER did not involve broken bones or stitches, it was for Madison and her migraine.  She has suffered with migraines since she was 4 or 5 years old when she started getting headaches and over the years, they have progressed to migraines.  Typically if we can Ibuprofen into her the moment she complains of pain, we can stop it, but not yesterday.

Marc and I had just left to take the dogs to dog class and she called to say she had blind spots in her vision and a headache that came on with the flip of a switch.  We turned around and came home, but it quickly became apparent that she would need more than I could do for her at home.  In addition to her visual disturbances and head pain, she also had tingling in her left hand.  Now since I suffer from migraines too, I was sadly familiar with these symptoms.  10 years ago I had a migraine so severe that Marc thought I was having a stroke and called an ambulance.

They hooked Madison up to an IV and infused her with a cocktail of pain relievers, benadryl (for the sleep affect) and an anti-nausea medicines.  Soon she was drifting into a moderate sleep and no more had her breathing become relaxed and rythmic than the nurse pops into and gives her shoulder a good jiggle and loudly demands of Madison to note her pain level from 1-10.  Hospitals suck at letting people rest!  Her headache went from a top of the chart pain to a tolerable 2 and we were sent home.

She slept most of the afternoon and early evening, but when she did rouse, she still complained of her head hurting in her right temple.  Now I know from personal experience that migraines seem to move around and often, at least for me, last a good 24 hours and then I am left with what I call a 'hangover' headache.  By that I mean the headache just rambles and seeks to lurk in the recesses of my brain, ready to spring back to malevolent life at any given breath.  The ER doctor who reminded me of Duggie Howser since he wasn't much older than Madison, was insistent that if Madison awoke with the headache still in play she would need to come back and have an MRI or CT scan.  Being the hypochondriac that I am, this made me feel sick to my stomach....and then, she did wake with the headache.

Her vision was fine after the ER and she was no longer vomiting, but yet her head continued to throb.  When she woke this morning she was feeling better, but still not herself.  I think several factors are in play causing her problems, first and foremost being she has had a head cold and is still significantly congested.  Also even with all the IV fluids they filled her with, she did not have to go fe peepee for 12 hours!  She also has what several other people have right now which interestingly enough is a severe headache with vomiting that last a couple of days....viral...that's my guess.  And lastly, the infamous hormones of a young lady.  Add to that the stress of trying to wrap up our school year, and somewhere in that big 'ol pot of stess is the perfect recipe for a migraine.

I am enormously grateful that we are blessed to have a wonderful open adoption with Madison's birth mom, Angela and birth dad, Darryl.  The questions that are asked in the doctors office/ER always bring to light how important one's genetic history is in situations like this.  In fact, Angela called yesterday just as the doctor was coming into the exam room.  Unfortunately, Madison comes by her headaches thru a genetic link to Angela...and me too.  How odd that both her mom's have the same migraine issues.

She is moving around right now in preparation to go trick-or-treating dressed as a girl from the '80's.  When she approached me about the idea of being a big-haired girl from the '80's she knew I could help her since she has seen my high school and  college pictures from the mid to late 1980's.  Sadly, I knew just how to give her mall bangs and dress her in shoulder pads, skinny GUESS jeans with zippers in the ankles, high top Reeboks, and lots and lots of bangles and BIG earrings.  Like totally, OMG, she looks like a total valley girl!

I am happy she feels better to be up and on the move, but Halloween is definetly not my holiday.  I have nothing against it, I just hate going door-to-door asking for candy.  For God's sake, if my kids want candy, I'll buy it for them myself.  Marc tells me I'm a kill joy, so he will be taking them into town tonight while I put a bowl of candy on the porch and enjoy some peace and quiet by myself.  Oh I relish an hour or two of Q.U.I.E.T!

But tomorrow is the start, at least for me of the best time of year.  I adore Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I love to plan Thanksgiving dinner, look forward to holidays with friends, family and good food. Oh and let's not forget that tomorrow they begin to stock the store shelves with Christmas candy.  Oh joy!!!!!  My favorite candy are the extra creamy milk chocolate jingle bells. 

Before I end, I have to add one last intersting tidbit from yesterdays long episode spent rubbing Madison's head, none of which I begrudge her, it just happens that it was during that time she told me her thoughts.  I was trying to help Madison visualize herself doing, being, feeling her best and happiest.  I tried to help her by telling her how I see myself on a beach hearing only the sounds of the waves when I have a migraine and it was then that she shared her happiest place.  She said she is happiest when she is riding her horses and taking lessons at Karla's.  She pictured herself riding and feeling free and happy on her new horse.  Her thoughts brought to light how happy it made me to hear that is her greatest pleasure.  This especially since the ER nurse asked me Madison's age and if there was any chance she was pregnant!!!!!  After the ringing in my ears stopped and I said NO, I realized that sadly for some, that is reality.  So dear daughter, enjoy your horses for ever and ever and stay clear of those boys until at least 45!

Friday, October 29, 2010


Y'all know that Jerome, otherwise known affectionately as number 4, is the happiest soul on the face of the Earth.  He defies all the educated statistics that dictate he should be burdened with a ton of attachment issues, PTSD, and other negative behavior due to his abandonment in an orphanage in Port-au-Prince sometime during his first year of life.  By all rights, he should be one messed up little dude!

Before he came home to us, we talked to professionals, read everything we could get our hands on and gleened what we could from the internet regarding RAD and related attachment issues.  We prepared for the worst case scenario with him.  We visited our boys twice in Haiti at the orphanage before we brought them home and saw him as a sweet, engaging child who did not like to follow rules.  He would laugh when we told him to stop touching the computer or to put the candy away.  Even though he was called La Petite Bandit, he exemplified a joy of life that was unmistakable.

When he came home what we saw was a remarkably different boy.  He was compliant, joyful, willing to please and appropriately shy of strangers.  Yes, he remains friendlier than most kids his age, but he has definetely learned social parameter and skills that work in our society, not in an orphanage.  We always wondered if his happiness was just the 'honeymoon' phase of adaptation or if this was his true personality.  Well, we feel confident that since he has been home now for 19 months, this is indeed his true nature.

The best way to describe Jerome is to say he is a happy soul.  How he survived the severe illness he was afflicted with at his first orphanage, in addition to the lack of nurturing care and adequate nutrition, leads me to believe this kid does indeed have some specific purpose to serve in this life.  God gave my son a joyful soul, a kind and loving heart, and the ability to be loved after such such tragedy is evidence of his Maker's handiwork.

Now, Jerome also has a way with words that makes me laugh.  These are some things that I heard Jerome singing/talking about this week:
The other morning I heard him singing with the radio in the bathroom...which is a habit of his, to take the radio into the bathroom....singing at the top of his lungs;  I love my life, I love my life, I love my life!  Guess he was reveling in the freedom of being able to go potty alone!

Yesterday he was pretending the swiffer mop handle was a microphone and he was dancing around the kitchen watching his reflection in the oven door singing; I love my life, I love everything I have, I love my family.....even Madison!  HAHAHAHAHA   I particularly like that one!

Today driving home from the grocery store I was listening to Broadminded on Sirius/XM.  They were playing a "Name that scream" game in which people could call in to identify famous screams from such movies as the Shining, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, etc.  From the back seat I hear Jerome ask Richnigthder, "Why's that broad screaming?"  Oopsie!  Seems he's heard how the ladies on the channel refer to themselves.  Gulp!

Another thing that makes me scratch my head besides cheap shampoo is seeing how heavy my boys' Haitian accent still is.  Last week we visited the Watkins and Dorcheus families in Montana and I was really suprised to see how slight their little boys' accents were.  I'm wondering if it's possible because their boys are 2 and 3 years younger than my boys?  I don't know?  All I know is that I understand Jerome's slower acquisition of language due to his horrible start in life, but Richnigthder is one smart cookie.  He speaks well, but man does he have a heavy accent.  So what's the deal?

And speaking of funny kids, the Watkins kids are freaking hilarious.  Peterson who has a known appreciation of a woman's body copped a little feel on me and then had me busting a gut laughing at his "How would you like a little hot love?" comment.  Best thing about the Watkins kids is that they have no idea they are so damn funny.  We had a lovely mix of kids and they all got along!  Now I just have to keep the pressure on them to join our adventure at Haiti camp next July in Minnesota AND to get Kristi to commit to joining me on the mom's get-away in Orlando in March.

Friends are family you choose along the way and we have been blessed by many great friends met thru the adoption world!

Monday, October 11, 2010

oarring on the wrong side of the boat

My dearest friend Jan tells a funny story about her mother, a family reunion, a lake, and a canoe ride that involved an inept attempt at rowing across the lake.  Jan's mother sat in the back of the canoe and happily told Jan that she was, and I quote, "Oarring on the wrong side." 

I'm not even sure if I'm spelling 'oarring' correctly, but nonetheless, you get what I'm saying.  Today Marc is home since it is Colombus day and of course being the diligent federal employee, he gets a lovely three day weekend at home with his fun family.  From the moment I got up today I have felt as though I have been oarring on the wrong side of the boat.  It's one of those days when nothing seems to be going right. 

Thomas is struggling with school work that he knows, Madison is not working effectively as she keeps butting into everyone elses business, Adam actually just finished his day and Jerome went off to the doctor with Marc since he has a headache.  Hmmm, a possible remnant of his ear infection from last week or so??  My kitchen is a disaster, the laundry is piled up, the horse stalls need cleaning and even though it's just Monday, my week is already jam-packed.  When and how do I get everything accomplished?

Hence, I feel as though I am sitting in a boat, "oarring" on the perpetually wrong side, going no where fast!  Does anyone else feel as though this is happening to them too?  I just can't seem to get anything done.

Madison has another dressage lesson today at 2PM.  She will not be riding our mare as she had to go to the vet this weekend with her right eye swollen shut.  Seems she either had a nasty bee sting or possibly even got kicked by one of the other horses.  So, one horse on the slightly sick-and-injured list.  That means Madison will be riding one of the trainers horses.  We are still trying to decide on a new dressage horse for Madison.  So far, she has test ridden a Tempel Farm Lipizzan, an Andalusian and a kind of ordinary Thouroughbred mare. 

She..and I...have fallen in love with the Lippizan, Acatina.  Unfortunately I am not sure I want to shell out a substantial amount of money for her at the front end of her training.  She is a gorgeous and comes from the premier Lipizzan farm in the United States.  Not only is she trained for 1st and 2nd level dressage, but is going nicely over jumps.  I have fallen for this horse like I did for my horse, Tommy 9 years ago.  Sometimes when you meet a horse you love, you just know it!  Unfortunately, Acatina carries a hefty price tag that I am uncertain of dolling out right now.  I have to decide on this quickly as the trainer will be hauling Acatina back to Chicago on Wednesday to return to Tempel Farms since someone is flying in from the West Coast to view her.  Once again, I feel as though I am 'oarring' on the wrong side of the boat.  Either that or I am rowing into a stiff wind!

What I really need right now is a lemon, some salt and some Tequila and then damned be the boat or the oar!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Richnigthder's first communion today

I find it hard to believe that my second to youngest child, who's only been home with us for a mere 18 months, who was just baptized 16 months ago, made his first Holy Communion today.  My sweet little Richnigthder has had so many new experiences in his relatively brief time with us.  I am in awe of how well he has adjusted and adapted to a completely new and foreign way of life.

Last year at this time we were preparing for his first birthday party ever as he was about to turn 7.  The Haitian community here in town held a get-together and had a party complete with massive soccer ball shaped cake.  Our dear friends, Mike and Tifanni Watkins and their children, Aurrora, Peterson and Adlerson drove 15 hours to join us for this big event.  Now with his 8th birthday approaching, we will be heading to Polson, Montana to visit them.  They have just returned from a week long mission trip to Haiti and we all look forward to hearing about their experiences and most importantly, sharing time with their great family.

Where does the time go?  My kids are growing up and seeing them grow, both physically and educationally is a wonderous thing.  Richnigthder has matured so much and still works at relinquishing control and just being a kid, but my sweet little boy, the one I prayed for everyday since I saw his picture and said yes to his dossier, is becoming an outstanding young man. 

And just soz ya know, having a 13 year old daughter aint all it's cracked up to be everyday! there's a challenge!!  :) Fortunately she is only unpredictable and moody while she is awake!  Tomorrow she will be blissfully happy as she has her dressage lesson, which is immense fun for her and work for me.  I have to not only load the horse and drive her there, but pack the living quarters of the horse trailer with goodies, drinks, games, coloring books, etc for the little boys in an effort to keep them occupied while she is training.  I am thrilled she continues with her passion and drive for riding, but as her new instructor pointed out, her Arabian mare she is riding now, will only take her thru her training phase and then she will need a new dressage horse. 

Great!  We have 2 nice reiners and now she'll need a new horse?  All that translates to is M.O.N.E.Y!  Got love kids and their expensive passions!

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Scent of Charred Pumpkin Bars

Madison and I have to be in attendance at our church's youth group table at the local harvest festival tomorrow.  Pastor Paul asked me to bring a pan of bars and 3 pounds of sloppy joe's.  Sure, no problem.  I like to bake and cook, so no biggie!

The kids and I got home from the library today where Madison and Thomas were each doing research for their compositions.  I sent the kids out to play in this glorious weather and began to bake.  I made a double batch of pumpkin bars; one for the church youth group and one for us.  They were a gorgeous shade of autumnal orange and the scent of them baking enveloped the house in an aura of Martha Stewart. 

My oven tends to cook a little on the hot side, so I always reduce baking time, which I did today.  Sadly I burned the hell out of both pans of bars.  The heavenly scent of baking pumpkin bars dissipated in a noxious cloud of charcoal when I opened the oven door.  I guess the smell of burning bars always lures kids back inside where they greeted me with their lovely sentiments of "Gross, what stinks?" and "Yuck who's cooking firewood?" I love my kids, I love my kids, I love my kids, at least that's what I'm telling myself right now.

The kitchen widows are open now in an effort to air out the offending smell.  I am sure that even the neighbor 1/3 mile away can smell the mistake now.  Honestly, I don't know why the oven cooked them so quickly, but what I do know is that I will be venturing back into the kitchen in an effort to redeem myself and my ability to make basic pumpkin bars.  Crap!  I hate it when I make the boo boo and can't blame it on one of the kids!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Guess what followed me home?

No it wasn't some smokin' hot stud...he already lives here! HAHAHA  Well actually, Marc is pretty damn hot, but I digress.  Jan phoned me early and asked if I could meet her in Wilton to look at a little house for sale.  So I left the kids with Marc and drove like a bat out of hell, drove leisurely to Wilton to meet her at the Cenex.  She had Aila with her and we had a nice long chat before we decided to head back to my place.

She followed me on the drive back here to our place and as I was preparing to pull onto HWY 36 what do i see staring at me from the middle of the two lane road, but an itty-bitty kitty.  I stopped, got out and walked to the cat, which I fully expected to run away from me, and to my suprise, it walked to me and rubbed my leg.  I scooped it up and motioned to Jan that I had once again found another stray. 

The cat is VERY friendly and sat on my shoulder, much to my chagrin, all the way home.  The kids have named it Willy and it seems to be a sweet little guy.  He purrs the moment you touch him and I am sure he will make another lovely pet as soon as he is neutered and vaccinated.  Just what I needed, another darn animal.  Aren't the kids enough?

About a mile after I saved the cat from meeting Jesus prematurely, I passed a wayward calf ambling alongside the highway.  Jan called me and asked me why I didn't stop to rescue it too.  Well duh, I'm sure it wouldn't sit quietly on the ride home!

Good Day, Sunshine

Ever notice how everything seems better when the sun is shining?  Yesterday was a typical "Oregon" kind of rain.  It rained all day from dark, oppresive clouds that obliterated the sun's rays.  It was the kind of day that makes one wish they could stay in their pajammies all day long.

Unfortunately, Jerome had two eye doctor appointments which necessitated me putting on clothes and banning me from lounging on the couch after school in sweats.  He first saw the optometrist who concluded that since his corrective Strabismus surgery in Minneapolis last March, his eye sight has actually improved.  This is not a typical outcome from strabismus surgery.  He has a little near-sightedness, but it has improved a lot since his surgery.  I guess that is just a nice benefit besides having both eyes looking in the same direction at the same time.  His second appointment was with the Opthamologist who concurred that his eyesight has indeed improved and although his left eye still drifts slightly vertical, the surgery was a complete success.  He will probably need another surgery somewhere around puberty to further align the eye, but given how profoundly crossed his eyes were before surgery, one would never be able to tell he had had strabismus for the first 6 years of his life.

We gorged on Borscht soup last night at the neighbors and it is really, really good stuff.  She made the soup in a pot so large, I actually believe a small child could bathe in it.  It was GINORMOUS, but she said it was the only way she knew how to cook after having a family of 9.  Richnigthder had 4 big bowls of Borscht and Madison had 3.  It is a hearty soup and now that I have the recipe, it has been requested that I make it soon.  It was perfect soup weather last evening.  Dark, cold and damp. 

Now that the weekend is here, the weather is supposed to warm up to the 70's and be sun-shiny!  I like that a lot.  I probably won't be making Borscht this weekend, but instead plan to use the BBQ as long as the nice weather holds out.  Tomorrow Kitty,Bunny, Gucci and Carlos will be partaking in the Bismarck Kennel Club fashion show.  Not quite sure how to dress them.  I could probably do a costume, but fashion????  Not my thing.  Madison made a hat a while ago for Carlos that made him look like the pope.  Dumb dog wore it all day and didn't seem to mind it.  Guess I could dress him like that and call it Italian fashion?

As soon as Thomas finishes some reading and Jerome finishes some sentences, we are heading out to enjoy the gorgeous weather.  Can't ride the horses outside today as it is still too wet and slippery so that'll have to wait until tomorrow.  Sunshine beckons and I cannot ignore basking in the last warm rays of this fall's sun!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Borscht and Biscuits

Tuesday was a bad day around here.  Nothing bad happened, it just seems that the kids and I were at odds all day long.  That translates to a difficult day of homeschooling where we all feel like we are banging our heads together or alternately banging them on the walls.  Just when I was about to explode with frustration, the neighbor lady, Joyce called to see if it was "Recess?"  BTW, that's mom code for, is it a good time for a drink?

She was going to come over here, but I instead told her I would be to her house in about 3 minutes.  Her kids...all 7 of them...are grown up and no longer in school.  I was going to say, no longer living at home, but we all know that's just fictional thoughts as most kids return home for some period of time after college.  Alas, she has her 23 year daughter living back at home.  So I raced like a bat out of hell, drove carefully over to Joyces to have some liquid refreshment.

In the midst of my  rambling about my mouthy kids, she decided one afternoon aint gonna cut it to help me out.  So she called last night and invited the whole family over for dinner tonight.  Seems we'll be having something none of us Oregonians have had before, Borscht soup.  It sounds great; hearty, earthy food complete with homemade buttermilk bisquits.  I'm bringing an apple cake for dessert, but the real reason I am going is to enjoy the company of a mom who successfully raised 7 children to productive adulthood.  She gets the chaos, dirt, dishevelment of having 3 boys and a 13 year old daughter.

I'm looking forward to having Borscht soup tonight.  Better yet, I'm looking forward to the company and experiencing the wisdom that a mom of 7 kids can pass on to me.  Lord knows I need the wisdom!

Friday, September 17, 2010

This is Wrong

It's snowing.  Big, white, angry flakes driven to the ground by the Northwest wind.  I am not ready for this.  I still have lots of riding to do in our beautiful new outdoor arena.  So much to do and old man winter is breathing down our coated necks.

This is just wrong!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dog Lovers, please read this post and learn from our near tragedy!

Last evening I heard an odd noise while Kitty and Bunny were playing on our back deck.  It was a thumping sound.  Beside the thump, thump, thump, I heard an odd raspy type of noise.  When I opened the back door, what I saw horrified me and I began to scream, "Kitty's dead!"  Madison came running and so did Thomas.  What we all witnessed was Bunny's lower jaw wrapped and twisted around Kitty's collar.  Kitty was lifeless from the noose-like twisting of her buckle collar and her limp body was being dragged by Bunny's entwined mouth.

Kitty's collar was twisted over Bunny's lower jaw and behind her canine teeth.  The more she pulled to try to release it, thhe more it choked Kitty.  Bunny was terrified that she couldn't close her mouth and also by the fact she was dragging Kitty with her.  Thomas immediately tried to stop Bunny from her frantic pacing and I tried to pry her mouth wider open to untangle the collar.  It so tight over her jaw, I had Thomas run and get a steak knife for me.  The dogs were so tightly tied together that it was impossible to get a knife in anywhere to start cutting. 

Kitty was limp and lifeless.  Her tongue was bluish-grey and her eyes were BULGING out of her head.  She did not blink, nor breathe.  Bunny was frantic and I realized after the fact that I had sliced up my fingers on Bunny's teeth trying to pry the collar over her canines and off her jaw.  Thomas also got some nasty cuts on his left forearm trying to help me hold Bunny's mouth open.  Somehow, I'm still not quite sure how, I got the collar over Bunny's lower canine teeth and was able to un-twist it from her jaw.  Bunny staggered away and Kitty fell lifelessly to the floor.  I closed Kitty's mouth, with her bulging tongue hanging out the side of her mouth, and began to give her CPR.  I never checked to see if her heart was beating, I just started doing some chest compressions on the side of her chest, kind of behind her elbow.  I don't know how long I did this, perhaps just a few times, maybe a few minutes.  My heart was beating out of my chest and I was  sobbing so loudly I couldn't hear Thomas yelling that she was alive.

I leaned over Kitty and saw her abdomen moving in very shallow breathes.  I started rubbing her vigorously all over and when she started to blink I knew she was coming back.  She laid there for some time in a type of fog.  She didn't get right up, but rather laid there and gained her bearings.  After several more minutes she lifted her head and stood.  She went right to the water bowl and drank.  About this point, my legs gave out and I was crying like a baby.  Sure we've had dogs put to sleep before, but that is humane, painless and needed.  Seeing a puppy suffocating and terrified of their own impending death is a sight no one should witness.

Thomas and I went to urgent care last evening and got our cuts cleaned up.  I was worried we'd need stiches, but they just steri-striped us and sent us on our way.  I was also concerned that they would report this as a dog bite and would take Bunny away.  I think after we explained it to the doctor, she understands that although the dogs teeth cut us, they were not bites.  She infact, called me a hero!  That made me cry again.

SOOOO, my PSA to all my dog lover friends is to never, ever let your dogs wear a collar of any kind without your direct supervision.  Even better, since supervision cannot stop the dogs from playing and getting tangled, do not let your dogs wear collars unless you are on the other end of the leash.  My shelties have microchips for ID, and next week, Kitty and Bunny  will too.  I will  never have my dogs wear collars again unless they are on a leash.  BTW, our dogs wearing nylon, buckle collars and the steak knife, had I even gotten to use it, would have been highly ineffective.  It's life cutting a seatbelt....damn near impossible without a razor.

Kitty is fine today.  Bunny is fine today.  I hope my blood pressure returns to normal and then I can be fine too.  Learn from our near tragedy!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hearing Voices

I dropped Madison off this afternoon to get her hair corn-rowed, which left me with the 3 boys.  The last thing I would ever consider is having them hang out with me at the salon with Madison for 2 plus hours.  It was bad enough for the few minutes they were there.  They sat and looked at magazines and Richnigthder quickly became bored which immediately spread to Thomas, and lastly to Jerome. 

All 3 boys were obviously starving as they only wanted McDonald's and not the dried fruit I had with me, so in an effort to appease everyone, I took them to get some cheese burgers.  As we were driving, I had received a call from Marc, ended it and tossed the phone into my purse.  I commenced with telling the boys that they were not getting meals, but I was getting burgers and a soda and to not complain, just be happy.  The next thing I hear even over the deafening din of the kids and the radio, was a voice calling my name.  I thought I was the only one hearing it, but Thomas heard it too.  The voice kept calling my name and then I heard the voice tell me to pick up or hang up! 

Seems I had dialed a friend here in town and she knew it was me.  I'm so glad I wasn't hearing voices in my head.  I'm also glad I wasn't yelling and screaming at the kids.  I'd rather be crazy than to purse dial someone and have them hear me yelling at the kids to sit down, be quiet, look out your own window and just be happy with with your damned burgers.  That's the real me!!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tequila ad

This is hysterically funny stuff.  Sorry Sarah for swiping it from your blog, but something this good and funny MUST be shared with the rest of the world. 

BTW,  This is the first song that was playing/being sung when Marc and I first met and talked.  Ah, memories!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sarcasm and lead balloons

Over dinner tonight we were discussing how some ignorant people don't like people who are different from themselves.  Some people don't like black people because it is different than their own skin and fear often causes people to react with anger and resentment.  So as this convo was progressing, I jokingly looked at Madison and told her, "Honey, It's finally time for me to tell you; you're black!"  She of course responded in her usual dry humourous way and said, "Oh my God, I am?"  Marc and I started laughing, but not Thomas.

Thomas got angry.  Very angry.

What he said next made us all stop and look at him in wonder...and a little confusion.

Thomas told us not to laugh since it was mean to make fun of people because of their skin color.  Then he said very calmly, "She's not black, she's white."  This made us all laugh again since of course, Madison is black.  While she is bi-racial, her birthmom Angela is white and her birthfather, Darryl is black, her mocha colored skin causes the world to perceive her as black.  Obviously though, Thomas never got this memo.

He always thought of her as white.  Just an interesting observation from a member of our family.  While we just see her as our daughter, white, brown, polka-dot, whatever, we have always acknowledged that the world views her as a beautiful, young black girl.  So in our family of 6 it would seem that Thomas sees Richnigther and Jerome as well as himself as black and Marc, myself and Madison as white.  Weird how ones view of people, images, skin tones and perceptions can be very different even within one family. 

Then again, it could be that Marc and I are just terribly sarcastic and Thomas has labored under the delusion of our sarcasm since his birth.  I suppose now that he is aware that  his one and only sister is black, maybe he'll love her a little more.  Nah, Madison and Thomas are truly real brothers and sisters since they have a love hate relationship that I hope never ends.  Ah, family dinner time.  What could ever be more entertaining....and enlightening?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Going to the dogs

Kitty and Bunny, our 11 month old Rottweilers have both now earned their Canine Good Citizen's titles. This is a big feat, for both them and us. It's a lot of work and along the way, we've made some cool new friends thru the Bismarck Kennel Club. I have also now learned how to do ring steward duties, gate steward duties and table steward stuff at AKC shows all the while feeling completely inferior and incompetent. Nuff said about that.

Anyhow, on Monday we head back to dog class to get their pictures taken and bring their AKC papers so their new titles can be added. See this is big stuff. Now we work forward towards getting their Companion Dog title (CD) which is really tough to get and after that, I would like to do therapy dog work with them. I did that in the past with our previous Rottweilers and I enjoyed it very much and it gave people a chance to see that not all Rottweilers are flesh-eating baby killers.

Richnigthder is outside riding my horse, Tommy. This kid is fearless and an over-achiever. He is riding Tommy bareback and trying to take him over some low jumps. So far, he's stayed on, but if he falls off, he's wearing a helmet, so it's all good....mostly. I'm heading outside now to kick the kid off my horse, throw on the English saddle and go on a slow, solitary ride. Just the horse, me, the sunshine and the hawks over head for company! Later!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I'm down with the Orlando trip, just saying

Neener, neener, neener, I'm going on an all chick get-away in Orlando next March. I've met Sarah from Green Bay before, but have yet to meet Corey in real life. I initially met these gals by following their blogs and have come to consider them friends, and muy fun friends at that.

We have things in common, like kids, homeschool, adoption from Haiti and other interesting topics. Most importantly we don't take ourselves too seriously. Besides, who else would understand that I am excited about taking my HUMONGOUS purple jug that's sole purpose is to conceal liquor. For God's sake, I feel like I am revisiting my sorority days and am all giddy about hanging with the cool girls by the pool and totally snarking about others. Ahhhh, good times for sure.

So for my dear friends who are happening mama's you should seriously consider joining me in Orlando, March 4-7. Lodging in rented villas will cost about $170 a person and food and beverages will be divied up. Come on girls, you know who you are and seriously need to come too.

Have purple jug and posters of hot cabana boys....will travel!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Adoption Etiquette

I've been following a gal's blog for several months now. She has several children by birth and brought home 2 kids from Haiti post EQ. She has disrupted both of her new children's adoptions for un-specified reason, other than to say they acted in angry, violent and possibly sexual ways.

Being the shy, soft-spoken person that I am, I left her a comment on her blog sharing my view that she was totally unprepared to add children to her family thru adoption. She did post on her blog that she was suprised that the new kids did not show gratefulness or appreciativeness for being 'saved.' I tried to educate her, kindly, and thought that maybe, just maybe she had seen the error of her ways and mis-guided feelings. She acknowledged that she was un-prepared and only thought RAD was from drug or alcohol babies. She even wrote that she thought she needed to save these kids from the horrors of living as a Restavec. Hell, anyone who knows about Haiti knows the life of a Restavec is miserable at best and deadly at its worst. But to adopt a child to save them is wrong.

Adoption should always be motivated by the fact that the adoptive parents have love in abundance to share. Adoptive parents also realize that often the love they pour out to their new children isn't always reciprocated and if it is, it is sometimes masked by pain and previous traumatic behavior. It is also good to realize that in trans-racial and international adoption, the children often DO NOT physically resemble their new parents. If you don't like the constant public attention and dumb-ass questions, then you better think twice about adoption. I stand by my previous assertion that this other gal went into this with all the wrong motivation and without ANY agency guidance.

But what really twists my cork is what she just wrote on her blog in response to me. I paraphrase here, but she wrote that I could not walk in her shoes since all of my kids are adopted and she had to protect her birth children from her newly adopted Haitian kids. HELLLLOOOOO, does she not think I would protect my oldest two kids in the event that my little boys were acting out towards them????? I suppose since all my kids are adopted, means that I can allow them to be victimized by the newest two Laurie kids??!!

So in an effort to spread adoption etiquette to one gal who had no business complicating those two kids' lives by being unprepared for their arrival into her family, I share this deep thought: Regardless of the fact that all 4 of my children are adopted, I would protect them from harm in the same tenacious way that I would if they had been born to me. Can you sense I am screaming here????????

I also take offense at the comment she wrote in which she feels God used her as a tool to bring those kids here to the United States so that she could lead them to their forever mama. WHAT??? Maybe God expected you to step up to the plate, prepare, be knowledgeable and have a support system in place for the worst case scenario. Yes I do understand that there are in deed some situations in which finding a new family is the best solution for a child, however gut-wrenching it may be, but to have them home for 6-7 months and be dissolusioned because they added chaos and undesirable behavior is ignorant. I don't know anyone who would not seek all avenues of therapy and support, to include residential treatment to prevent a disruption. Yet I get the sense from her blog that she was just overwhelmed and frustrated because her new kids had some abusive backgrounds and brought that behavior with them. There appears to be a lot she did not think thru.

Oh this is a good statement she made. "After sacrificing for two years" get them home....! Excuse me? Who hasn't sacrificed to bring their kids home? The tears, gained weight, sleepless nights, anxiety, fear, frustration, finacial costs, yet we all did it and have been rewarded with the kids we desperatly wanted. Some people have had kids come home with really, really challenging behavior that is shocking, yet they haven't run right to court to dissolve the relationship. Some have put years into therapies, cried until there were no tears left and done a selfless act of finding a new home to ensure all their children's include their other adopted children too.

So I have vented and yet I don't feel any better. I do stand in judgement on this as I am greatly offended to know that she doesn't think my adopted children deserve the same level of protection as would a birth child. Maybe she is just tongue-twisted and things come out wrong, but I am still bugged to know she brought those kids home from Haiti and resented the fact they had baggage.

I'll end on this note of advice. Adding new kids to the family thru birth or adoption changes the status quo. Normal as it was once known, will never be again. Instead, a new normal takes its place. It takes time to shake out, but normal is a relative state of mind. A new normal does make itself apparant and life goes on. Is adoption easy, HELL NO! Would I change a thing? Well if I had a magic wand I would wipe the slate clean for my little boys and let them have come to me from loving, non traumatic situations, but then, they wouldn't have been available for adoption and to be my God given children. I guess since I lack a magic wand, I'd say I wouldn't change a thing and thank God for all 4 of my beautiful, lively, funny kids....even though they are adopted. And that last bit was written with a GREAT amount of sarcasm!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010


My nephew, Ryan riding with Madison.

Jerome, on a 'chilly' summer day! D.O.R.K :)

My nephew, Ryan who is almost 23 year old spent 4 days with us last week. He is taking a sabaticcal of sorts and is traveling around the U.S. on Greyhound so that he can get an authentic feel for our country and its people. Boy oh boy, is he getting an experience traveling by bus.

I recognize he is a grown man, but when I heard his stories of traveling from Portland to L.A. to Houston and then up to us in Bismarck, I almost passed out from fear. So far he has sat next to white supremacists, gangsta's to include Bloods and Crips, drug smugglers and completely drunk, vomiting people. YUM, sounds like fun to me....N.O.T!!!! He is keeping a journal and recording his experiences. He already has quite an array of stories and I think this has been an experience of a lifetime for him.

When we saw him on the bus here yesterday afternoon, I was so sad I cried. We all stood next to the bus, waving and blowing kisses. OK, well I blew kisses, Marc not so much. In fact, Marc assured me that blowing kisses to Ryan pretty much assured him getting his ass kicked all the way to Billings by the drug runners already on the bus. Yeah, I'm a totally cool auntie!

Ryan rode one of our horses for the first time yesterday and did really well. Madison rode along side for moral support and it was cool to see the cousins side-by-side. about a month ago when Madison's birthmom, Angela was here, it warmed my heart to see the two of them riding side-by-side. They have so many similar mannerisms that to see it with my own eyes always makes me smile.

In other news, the Laurie clan is planning on visiting the Watkins crew in October. We are anxiously awaiting our fun weekend with another family that gets us and our craziness. Plus, Thomas totally digs their daughter and thinks she is the cat's meow....purrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Our little boys were creche mates at the orphanage and enjoy seeing each other. My boys are already dancing around singing about playing with Peterson and Adlerson. Two months and we'll be living it up in Polson, Montana!!

Some of you have heard me talk about Jerome and his unique personality. Seriously, this kid is the happiest, easiest going kid God ever made. I have been reaching out and seeking info on Jerome's little quirk and the info I am getting is really astonishing. I will share it fully in an upcoming post, but for now, just know that Marc and I completely support Jerome and will do what we can to ensure his life-long happiness. For those of you in the loop, Madison just may have her wish come true....someday in the future. Just keeping checking back to see what I'm talking about and until then just know that we are eternally grateful that God gave us our sweetest little soul, named Jerome. He is a treasure, as are all my kids. And no, it is nothing bad at all, just slightly kooky and different. All in all, a perfect fit for our family!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Orlando, March 4-7th, 2011

I already have some plans solidified for 2011. Our first plan is for the Haiti in our Hearts camp in Alexandria, Minnesota for the weekend of July 15th, 2011. Right about that time, we also have Madison's youth group trip with church to Seattle for a week of community service. We'll travel there by Amtrak (blech) and then stay in something less than a 5 star hotel. I'd rather fly, but the other kids from church can't swing that finacially, so it's the train. I just hope they have a booze car so I can R.E.L.A.X away from teenagers.

But the biggest and most exciting news for next year is my trip to Orlando.....completely without kids or husband. Now I have never gone on a vacation without Marc before, but I am really excited about this trip. Corey, over at is planning this second annual mom's only trip to sunny Florida. It's a total CHICK weekend and I am more than a little excited. Could you tell?

I trust that Marc will be able to feed the kids and animals on a somewhat regular schedule and that the house will be standing upon my return. Actually, I don't give a damn.....I'm going to Orlando with a group of fun chicks. Tifanni....You Gotta come too!

Where's my template?

Our 3rd laptop is in for repairs. We seem to be really tough on them. Marc bought a new desktop for the kids and while it's nice, I hate being locked into one place to do my internet stuff. I like to be able to sit on the deck, the couch, my bed or even the garage when the kids are driving me crazy and blog in relative peace.

But for the last 2 weeks or so I have noticed that my blog doesn't load the template or all the info. It does this regardless of what computer I am using and it is bugging the hell out of me. Does anyone know what the hell has happened? Does this mean I actually need to add a new template? Did the old one get so old, Cutest Blog on the Block did away with my monkey template?

Hints, help please!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

I laughed so hard, I cried....and almost wet my pants

Just your average homeschooling mom's who get thirsty!

Our first weekend of Haiti camp is in the record books. We left for Alexandria, Minnesota on Friday morning and had a somewhat peaceful drive there. With 4 kids, the trip is never 'fun' but at least the 5 hours passed in relative harmony without any major fights. We found the camp, Lake Geneva Christian Campus, without any problems, checked in and promptly began looking for the three families I most wanted to see.

I had never met Sarah from Wisconsin, but had followed her life thru her blog, and knew we would hit it off in real life. Sure enough, we met and began chatting and having fun from the first second. Together we planned a covert operation of sneaking beverages of an adult nature into the camp which restricts alcohol on the premises. She brought two of the LARGEST travel mugs, cutely decorated with our names and sequined flowers so we could quench our thirst in relative secrecy. Who would have known that ice would be hard to find at this damn camp. We ended up drinking our margaritas out of styrofoam coffee cups with lids and I shared our 'secret' with Sara Eggers and another gal from Missouri named Maryann. Together we formed a secret drinking society.

All of the kids had fun and I have lots and lots of pictures to post, but for now I am going to post the one that made me laugh the hardest. Sarah and I posed for a picture at check-out time with our travel mugs and laughed so hard I almost pee pee my panties. Not only will these mugs travel to Haiti Camp again next July, but Sarah and I and the big purples jugs will meet up in March in Orlando for a mom's get away with Corey from

Secretly I desperatly wanted to make sure Sarah would come back to this camp so I nominated her to join the board of directors of this camp which is Haiti in Our Hearts. She is officially now in charge of event planning and getting the itinerary planned. Marc and I got elected to the board and will be in charge of reservations, registrations and newsletters. I'm sneaky, but just want to spread joy and sunshine wherever I go.

Richnightder and Jerome got to meet creche mates, Marie Dakar and Mackenson again. It's been 2 years since they saw them and their frienship picked right up where it left off. Their parents are Sara and Joe Eggers who are complete and total riots. Sara and I laughed to the point of public embarassment while watching Marc and Joe on the lake.

Marc took Marie and Richnigthder out in a peddle boat and Joe took Mackenson and Jerome for a ride in a canoe. Unfortunately, both men decided to do this right after a tornado..ish storm rolled thru on the other side of the lake. The wind picked up and the lake had sizeable white caps. Marc looked like Gilligan as the waves kept him from peddling the boat back to shore. I think he must have peddled a full marathon in that damn little boat with the two kids. Joe brought the canoe ashore but it quickly capsized and the kids scrambled ashore while he hopelessly fought the wind to paddle it back to it's docking place. Eventually the wind lifted the front of his canoe and tipped him ever so slowly backwards into the lake. He has now earned the nickname of Tippy-Canoe!

We had a great time and invite any and all of you with children from haiti to join us for next years camp. The more the merrier. For me, the most gratifying sight from the weekend was seeing the now grown kids who have been coming to this camp for 20 years. They are now young adults in their 20's, some with children of their own now and to witness how much they value their on-going connection to each other and this annual camp with families who will always have Haiti in their Hearts!