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!