December 22, 2011

Harper's early christmas gift from aunt lexi... He's seriously out of control cute. And tough, as you can see from his hat-wearin' face.

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We were talking about how to deal with bullies, and this was marlie's suggestion... "you could give 'em the side-eyes."

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December 19, 2011

London woke up with the flu today. I gave her a bowl in case she threw up again, and she filled it with a baby doll and two ceramic choir boys that she calls "poor babies." and she is fake vomiting all over them. Poor babies indeed.

December 15, 2011

we three kings - the 9 remaining days remix.

"we three kings of orient are
  bearing gifts, we've traveled so far...


  rolling, rolling
  stirring, stirring
  a-and we wonder why."

(this works best if you do the motion to wheels on the bus during the "rolling" part, and stir a big, imaginary cauldron of brew during the "stirring" part.)

December 14, 2011

lara's crazy carol countdown - 10 days left

i am notorious for getting lyrics wrong.  it doesn't matter how many times i have heard a song, i can never hear the lyrics right or something.  the problem is that this does not deter me from singing the wrong lyrics, loud and proud.  my poor children do not know any of the right words to traditional christmas songs.  it's kinda sad.  but not really that sad.

so, i have decided to do a christmas carol countdown.  i will offer a sampling of carols done my way.  the wrong way, yes, but still pretty great.  these are all actual songs that i sing to my children (and anyone in earshot) around christmastime.

to the tune of frosty the snowman:

"frosty the snowman, is a pretty real-looking guy.  with corn for his nose and sumpin' for his eyes, and buttons for other things!  oh frosty the snowman, yes, he will marry you.  oh, down by the bay, with doctor brown, yes he will marry you..."

merry christmas to all, and to all a good job!

December 9, 2011

high fives and pooping pockets.

lately, i have become keenly aware of how strange i am.  i mean, i always kinda knew... but some of the things coming out of my mouth lately are so strange, that it startles me.  por ejemplo...

"well, if we can't do it (cut down our christmas tree) right, then i guess we'll just rip off the abortionists."


"i should say, if i had to marry a sandwich, this would be the one... not if i could marry a sandwich."


"honey, don't tell a lie just because you want someone to pull your legs."


"i don't know a song about a puppy going na-night, but i can sing you a song about jesus and some hay!?"

or, my personal favorite,

"just pretend my upper half is stuck in a metal canister and you have to really jostle me out."

it's no wonder, then, that my children are the way they are.  they have a way of seeing things (and saying things) that continues to crack me up... and sometimes blow my mind.  one cloudy night, when annalee was only two years old, she whispered to me, "mama, the moon went in the cloud's pocket."

marlie has called lasagna "a-la-bazoonia" since i can remember.

when harper was still having accidents during potty-training, he would say "i drilled a little in my undies."  and to this day, if he sees something wet on the floor or couch, he says it's "prolly drill."

now london has started with all these shenanigans.  today alone, she asked to wear "high fives," told me to check out her "waffles on the snow man" and notified me that my pocket had pooped.  i realize this is all very cryptic, so allow me to translate.

high fives? = gloves
waffles on the snow man? = footprints (that look like waffles) in the snow (there was no man.)
my pooping pocket? = when my cell phone slipped out of my pocket and landed on the floor.

i love how she sees things.  i love that she sees things.  i have spent much of this year just trying to make myself SEE things.  to be present, aware, thankful.  this is really hard.  it is much easier to miss it all in my distraction.  to check out, ignore, complain.

with four strange and amazing kids, what a waste if i miss a second of it!  so, 'tis the season to keep that crappy phone (ha. ha.) in my pocket, and throw on some high fives and make tons of waffles in the snowman.     and... if i happen to get my torso stuck in a metal canister, i have a great family who will jostle me free at the drop of a hat.  what more could a girl want?  well, besides maybe a little alabazoonia...

November 7, 2011

there's this guy who's in love with me.

it is not easy for me to write that sentence up there.  i don't understand all the ins and outs of it... but i am keenly aware that it is unusually difficult for me to say that i am loved.  i know that there are plenty of people in my life who care about me and would do anything for me if i asked.  and there are even some particular people who genuinely love me just the way that i am.  still, i am secretly afraid that if i were to actually name them here and now, those same people would flog me publicly.  *i don't actually know what it means to "flog" an individual, but i am pretty sure it is what they do to fozzy bear in 'muppets go to hollywood.'  in order to flog another, there has to be a lot of throwing lettuce on a stage, i think.

i know that none of my loved ones would really ever throw lettuce at me, just for saying that i think they love me.  however, i have always had this fear that if i make a declaration of certainty about any relationship... that everything i think to be true will blow up in my face and i will have been bamboozled in a serious way.  it's as if i believe that if i avoid ever being vulnerable enough to say that someone loves me, then i can also avoid the  suffering and humiliation that comes when you find out that, in actuality, they do not.  i realized this was a serious problem when i would not even say out loud that God loved me.  primarily because i did not fully believe it to be true.

i once had a college roommate tell me that Jesus probably didn't love my singing voice.  but, other than that... i had no reason to believe that Jesus had anything against me in particular.  (aside from my obvious, heinous sin nature that is.)  so, why couldn't i feel loved by God?  other heinous sinners seemed to bask in the love of God, why couldn't i?  

i honestly have no real point here.

it's just that the other day, i was driving in the car, feeling very sad, and i was listening to a secular love song about how the singer will make everything okay, and will be there to show the listener all this love.  and right when i was about to dry heave, something hit me for the first time, i really believed that Jesus was trying very hard to say "hey, you. i really love you.  and all these words are cheesy and unrealistic as far as romantic love goes... but I died and then I came back to life and I did that for you.  and I can do things like that because I am God... so, i think that i can handle loving you.  stop protecting yourself, I can take it from here thank you very much.  but, keep it down with all the singing.  just kidding, you belt it out baby."

this made me realize two things.  i will list them below.
  1. Heaven might be a little bit like the 6th grade, in that i still had a nice singing voice at that time.  it wasn't until the 7th grade that i recorded myself singing a gospelly version of amazing grace on my answering machine taper and realized how horrific my voice was.  the 7th grade is more like hell as far as singing voices go.  but in heaven, they're all a bunch of 6th graders up there lovin' every minute of my jams.
  2. Jesus is seriously wild about me.  
now, i realize how stupid and ridiculous it sounds to say that i believe that God literally came down from heaven, became a little baby Jesus-God, who grew up to be rejected and tortured and executed just so He could push me out of line at the gates of hell.  i know that it is crazy to believe that Jesus is speaking to me through the theme song from the movie hope floats.   i know that sounds crazy.  it IS crazy!  but, i actually believe all of that.  and i am so thankful that i do.  because in Him, there is hope.  there is hope that someone like me could be loved!  there is hope that God can redeem the cheesiest of songs, and also my wicked soul.  there is hope that i can be vulnerable in my relationships without fear of being flogged.  and there is even hope that somebody out there in the universe could love my singing voice.  

and if that isn't proof that there is an all-loving Creator ... i seriously don't know what is.

One lumpy lady, dressed for success.

October 28, 2011

Marlie's school field trip... Milking synthetic udders and such!

October 26, 2011

The girls are dressing up London... It's hard to make the distinction when she actually does look like a doll. THAT is a cabbage patch head if i ever saw one.

October 24, 2011

vagloggering take two

i am not as embarrassed as i seem... i am really just that immature.  i can't get through it.

October 20, 2011

Annalee is growing out of all her clothes... We went to a consignment store and she picked out her whole outfit. she looks like she's in high school...

October 19, 2011

video chatbloggervid - take one. epic fail.

 this explains why i opted against the videoblogging efforts.  well.... that, and my lazy eye problem.  (don't look for it, please.)

October 17, 2011

harper drops some sick beats.

he is four.  i mean....

london: before & after blood transfusion

i came across this picture the other day when i was starting to put pictures together for the next adoption profile. i could. not. believe. how different london looked when she was sick.  looking back at pictures when she had transient erythroblastopenia of childhood (TEC), it is so obvious how sick (and even sad) she was.

after discovering this picture... i am praising the lord all over again for her improvement.  i have never been more thankful to live in a country where a blood transfusion is a relatively easy and common procedure.  it blows my mind that human blood is accessible to all people at any time in our country.  we are a rich people.
see for yourself what a dramatic difference a few, life-saving blood transfusions can make...

london before

london healthy

for the sake of awareness, here is a little info on transient erythroblastopenia of childhood.  it does not mention this, but TEC also seemed to be responsible the complete stoppage of london's growth.  while her development stayed remarkably ahead schedule, her height and weight completely dropped off for several months.  as you can see... she has more than made up for lost time, and has begun to look like something of a chubby cherub.

October 12, 2011

A bird in a bin.

When i looked in the bin being pushed from room to room, this is what i discovered.

October 5, 2011

Rookie mistake.

I told London to go get her shoes on. She went with the strappy stilettos that are a little too small.

October 3, 2011

how much love can you squoosh in one square foot?

after the recent break-up and make-up drama with a beautiful house we are trying to purchase, i am left feeling very drained and not just a little confused.  the most recent chapter of this saga?  well, we made another offer on the house, and it was accepted!  the offer was contingent upon the quick sale of our current home (which is a huge challenge in and of itself). the contract is also hinging on our comfort level with the results of an engineer's inspection we had done this morning.  

we knew that there was some trouble with the roof, because that was what caused the last buyer to bail out.  the sad truth is that we may have to walk away from this house because somebody put cedar shakes under the shingles, and that means the whole roof will need to be torn off.  i am looking into finding the guy that invented cedar shakes, and having him apologize to thousands of homeowners, publicly.  i am sure he will come and personally tear off every last bit of cedar from my roof, and will replace it with something very energy-efficient, and cutting edge, so that it is both maintenance-free and will never need replacing.  while he is at it, i am pretty sure he will offer to finish the basement.  and peel the wallpaper.  in the slim, outside chance that mr. miracle-cedar-remover-man does NOT show up, we will need to make some pretty hard decisions. 

as i was walking through the house today, i could not help but imagine the kids running through the house.  i was picturing where we would eat, and play, and hang our stockings.  i couldn't help but move in, emotionally.    i know that you are not supposed to do that when you are looking at a house.  but, it seems like if you can't NOT do that... then maybe you have found the house.

in other family news, we have recently learned that between fundraising, saving, and the generous gifts of others... we have officially raised enough money to move forward with the adoption.  we will submit our family profile and complete the home assessment as soon as we are certain as to which home our mistry baby will be brought! 

if we aren't able to afford this particular house (of my dreams), then we will wait on the Lord that provides more than i could dream up on my own.  the day that we get to bring our last baby home is drawing closer, and that fact is much more significant than to which building he or she will come.  it is a good reminder that no matter what house we end up in, we will pack every square foot of it with all sorts of love and babies.  

and if the Lord wills it, every square foot will also be recently refinished hardwood.  


September 28, 2011

making up us even harder...

in my most recent post, i wrote about the striking comparison between finding (and losing) a great house to finding (and losing) a great guy.  i lamented over our recent "break up" in which our offer on a house was not accepted because mommy and daddy warbucks came in with a non-contingent offer.  i was seriously devastated because i felt so sure that this was the right house for us.

i shamefully admit that i threw a  pretty decent pity-party, and have slowly tried to recover.  however, despite all my efforts... i could not move on.  everyone kept telling me that "it just must not be the house for us."  i pouted and told them "buuuuut, yes it definitely was."

after praying for a miraculous intervention from the God who knows all things before the engineer's inspection... the original warbucks deal fell through.  apparently the roof needs work, and since the fickle buyer was not truly devoted and committed to choosing love, even in the hard times, they backed out.  the house is now back on the market.  and i am back in the full swing of being in l-o-v-e.

tom, on the contrary, is back to having chest pains over the decision.

yet, in the midst of the major-decision-anxiety, even tom feels that this is supposed to be our house.

sooooooooo... we are in the "make-up" phase of our relationship with this house.  we are re-approaching the relationship with a little more caution this time, taking time to evaluate where we both went wrong. we are trying to start fresh, letting our past be in the past.  i am just trying to keep my mind clear of the ugly reality that another woman walked through that house and planned where she would hang her pictures.  tom is foreseeing every possible expense and is overcompensating by re-brewing coffee grounds to eek out one extra weak cup.

we can't exactly say where this relationship is going to go... but, if i have my way, we'll be wed and living together by november.  i don't want to rush it, but mama ain't losin' a good man twice.

September 19, 2011

breaking up is hard to do.

i don't think i have ever really gotten dumped.  until now.

i can't say for sure, but i am pretty sure that this is how it feels to get good and dumped.  ya see, we put in an offer on a beautiful home that really seemed like it was the best possible home for us.  this house was just like the perfect guy: sensible, stable, good-looking, (without trying to impress anyone), met all my earthly needs, had a lot of character, and even a little bit of a sense of humor, humble from the outside, but was really something special on the inside... where it counts.  oh, and like all perfect guys, he had a walk-in butler's pantry.

in fairness, i know it isn't exactly the same as a breakup with an actual human... but, all the major factors are the same.  it all started out like young love.  there was the awkward anticipation of the introduction, trying to get to know the house while everyone is watching and wondering if we'll hit it off.  there's that feeling of being totally head over heels, but trying to play it cool, knowing you need to take things slow, and really try to see things realistically.  all to no avail, because there simply are no flaws!

then, it starts to unravel.

i want to make a commitment, but my facebook status indicates that i am already a relationship with another house, or worse yet... that "it's complicated" because i need to sell by owner so i don't lose all my equity.  all of this is just too much for the dream-guy-house, because he's totally ready to settle down, and he's a real catch, and he knows what he is looking for and if you don't snatch him up... some other unattached babe is gonna snag 'em with an offer that isn't contingent on breaking up with her other house first.

and this leads to the ultimate demise.  suddenly there i am, making these empty promises that i swear i'll break it off with this other house, that this other house means nothing to me... that the house i currently own was just there for me when i needed a place to stay... it isn't love!  i just need a little time to let that house down gently!  please, i just need a little time!

i am acting a desperate fool, and he just moves on like our time together meant nothing to him.

in keeping with the common denominators of a heart wrenching breakup:  i cried for an embarrassingly disproportionate amount of time, i had trouble sleeping, woke up clinically depressed and without any desire to eat or hope for any future happiness.  i emailed his buddies (aka the realtor) and asked to convince him to give me another chance. (sorry tom, that is actually true.)   i (impressively) was able to change every subject of conversation back to the house, i spent most of the day looking at pictures of the house online, then went to the "post office" which is PATHETIC for "i drove past the house just to see if the house was home."  i have pouted like a betrayed dumpee, and spent every spare second looking online for a house to rebound with.  i just want to hurt him the way he hurt me.  i want him to realize what he is missing.  and when he sees me pull my U-haul down a DOUBLE-wide driveway, he will look at his puny single-wide and wish that he never let me slip through his beautiful pocket-doors.

with leaded glass.

so, as it stands, my current status is "brokenhearted. for-sale. by owner." (spoken in an Eeyore-voice)  but, in my heart... i am "single, lookin' to  mingle."  thoug, deep down, my heart really belongs to that handsome stranger that is in the arms of some floozy who came out of the shadows with all her money and her freedom and her move-in-with-a-quickness.  there is no way she loves him like i do, there is just no way.


Welp. When I'm bummed... There's always this.

September 17, 2011

Today my boy turns 4. He woke up this morning and i told him that he was born four years ago and he said "I was born out of (birthmother's) tummy and she gave me a life and a birthday present of putting together a whole family for me!"

September 15, 2011

Jackets and fall weather all around. The tundra is imminent.

September 12, 2011

Annalee, my sweet-faced, second-grader, during her after-school interrogation. What does this entail? well, before the girls play after school, they are required to tell me all their deep, girly feelings. since that is hard to get out of anyone... I am, at least, allowed 4 questions. 1) what is something great that happened today? 2) what is something that happened that was not-so-great? 3) what happened that was interesting? 4) what is one thing that you learned? believe it or not, this usually tricks them into divulging more deep, girly feelings than i would have gotten otherwise. Maybe my favorite part of the day, these mama-daughter interrogations.

September 10, 2011

good to the last drop.jpg

Squeezing in as much outside time as possible before upstate New York becomes the bitter, lifeless tundra of frozen misery we all know and love.

September 7, 2011

when you give a wolf your first-born... the others will surely follow

so i sent three quarters of my children out into the world today.  (insert dry heave.)

i remember planning my back-to school outfit when i was little.  my favorite year was fifth grade, when i rocked black jeans and a teal short-sleeved shirt with matching teal earrings.  my mom always said the jeans were "brushed denim" which in my mind was as good as cashmere.  even if they were "brushed," they couldn't have been that classy because i definitely wore them with all-black reebok hightops.  which was great, because i definitely planned on dunking on all my friends that year.

all that to say, my kids were that excited last night.  i know they slept fitfully, if at all.  especially harper, since it was his first day of school ever.  he was 100% certain that he was going to have the best time of his life. when i picked him up he said "i tried to remember everything you told me, but i forgot to be a good friend to everybody."

oh boy.  that is just what a mother wants to hear on day one.  upon further clarification, i was less concerned because what happened was that he forgot to introduce himself to the kid who couldn't stop sobbing for his mother.  we had encouraged him to say kids that seemed shy or nervous, "hi my name is harper, what is your name?"  and follow up with "do you want to play?"  but, due to all the hysterics, harper forgot to network with that particular child.  sooo... he felt he was not a good friend to everybody, technically.

still, i think he did have a great time.  i am basing this on our trip to the drug store after school, where he literally told every single passerby that he was in preschool.  you would be shocked how many people seemed genuinely proud of this little stranger-boy with zero social boundaries.  i was quite proud myself.

i can't wait for annalee and marlie to get home to see if their first day went as well as harper's.  I pulled each of them aside this morning to remind them of who they are, and how great they will do, and what we expect from them at school.  then i let them each borrow a pair of my earrings.  it was adorable how special this seemed to make them feel.  they acted like this was a major privilege.  i mean, they were my regular cheap-o earrings... it's not like they were made of brushed denim!  still, it seemed to give them the little boost every gal needs before walking in to school on the first day.

i always go back and forth about school.  do i send them to public school, or to "the wolves" as my father-in-law calls it?  do i homeschool, and risk having them lose out on so many of the great experiences i had when i was in school?  do i send them to private school and file for bankruptcy?  i think most parents lament over these same questions... so, i don't claim to be going through something unique.  and i certainly don't claim to have any answers.  i know enough about life to admit that i know so little... that i cannot possibly pretend to know what is going to be the best decision for my own kids, let alone anybody else's.  i think we all have to work out all parenting decisions, with the insights, tools and convictions God has uniquely given us.  and that includes schooling decisions.  it is senseless to think that there is one educational model or scenario that suits all children.  (at least in my opinion it is.)

so, we have resolved to make a new decision, for each kid, for each year.  and as hard as it is to send them out into the world... this year happens to be that the 3 older kids are all in public school.  and i feel really good about that decision, for this year.  london, on the other hand, is going to a local community college this fall.  which is a little unsettling, so we will re-evaluate at the semester.

September 5, 2011

eye cannot do a video blog.

i woke up early this morning, and couldn't fall back to sleep.  i don't know if it is all the back-to-school buzz that kept me awake, or if it was the raging headache that arrived around 5:30am... but, i was in bed, wide awake when i got the most brilliant idea i have ever had.  i am going to do a video blog.

here is why it appealed to me:

  1. i say what i think, and i write the same way that i talk.  why not save some time by cutting out the middle-man, and skip the writing and just say stuff?
  2. i had all these clever ideas of what i would say, and how clean my house would be... (and if it wasn't clean, i would say something cute like "it's not my fault... the camera adds ten loads of laundry!"
  3. you all could actually see my kids' personalities in real time!
  4. for the avid ATATT readers, you guys would realize how difficult it is to get tom to answer any of my questions.  you would feel sorry for me, and be my fan, instead of tom's.
here is why it's not actually going to work:
  1. i have spent almost an hour trying to access the BUILT-IN web camera on my tippytappy and i cannot.
  2. i have a lazy eye.  okay, that isn't exactly true.  in real life, i have a regularly energetic eye, but for some reason when i am on camera one eye seems a little lazy.  not completely lazy, like it refuses to go anywhere, it more lags than anything else.  like it just needs a powernap and it'll be back on it's top game.  i don't know why this is, because in real life, it has all the energy and spot-on timing an eye could hope for... maybe it's camera-shy.
  3. i really didn't have any clever things to say, except that one thing about the camera adding ten loads of laundry, and after an hour of searching for my webcam, it seemed less funny.  and i realized that the only funny thing about my video blog was going to be my one lackadaisical eye.
  4. i do not mind being ridiculous in writing.  i don't even mind being ridiculous in person.  but i refuse to be ridiculous on video.  i will never be the girl with the video of herself (and her eye) on the internet so people can send it to their old college roommates with a caption that says "hey everyone! check out this video!  she doesn't say anything clever or hysterical... so just mute it, and watch that one eye try to keep up!  it's gotta be like that in real life too, for sure it's a lazy eye!"  nobody will believe it is just stage fright.
so, video-blog is off the to-do list.  my ego is fragile enough to avoid all that.  plus, i can't access the stinkin' camera should my ego decide to toughen up a bit.  it looks like for now, i will just have to be satisfied with being ridiculous in writing.  and in person.

August 30, 2011

our mistry baby.

while i was recently going through some papers and school projects that came home at the end of the school year, i came across a family book that marlie had made.  on each page she had drawn a picture of a family member and wrote how she loved each of us.  it started with your standard issued "i love my daddy, i love my mama, i love my sister, i love my brother, i love my baby sister."

i was surprised that there was an extra page at the end.  on it, she drew a picture of herself, with wild, yellow curls, blue eyes and "peach" skin.  beside her was a little swaddled baby, carefully colored dark brown.  below, the caption read, 
"i love my mistry baby."  

it is strange sometimes how a baby that doesn't even exist yet can already feel like a part of our family.  sometimes, when people ask how many kids i have, i accidentally say "five."  when we look at houses, we make sure there is room for five kids.  when we consider feeding the bottomless pit that is teenage children, we envision feeding five insatiable pits.  when i pray for my kids, i write in five different-colored prayer journals.  and when we panic about how we can't afford to put any of them through college, we make sure we panic about not being able to afford five tuitions.

this baby feels as much a part of our family as any of us.  and i can't wait to meet, and then know, and then love, our mistry baby.

now that london's health issues have resolved, and she is at a reasonable age to begin considering a sibling as a real, live thing in our home... we are starting up the adoption process again.  many people wonder (and ask) what this will look like... so, here is sort of list of must-do's as we move forward in the adoption journey.

  • finish all of our on-line application information.  (we have done the formal application and the interview portion, but the online portion requires a lot of specific family and financial information that we need to update and adjust.  it is actually pretty time consuming.)
  • apply for adoption loans.  (we are really praying that we will be selected for the abba fund, which is an interest-free adoption loan... this would really change our lives.  paying off our first adoption loan was a huge deal this past tax season, and we would love to avoid paying any interest this time around, if it is at all possible!)  
  • continue fundraising.  (this adoption will probably cost us somewhere around $16,000.  hopefully, this explains why we need to take a loan, and do fundraising. check out our store to see how you can help out!)
  • take care of tedious details, that are annoying, but necessary. this includes: getting physicals to clear for everyone in the home, getting fingerprints done, as well as child abuse clearances/background checks so they know we aren't criminals,   (hope they don't find out about this.)
  • make a family profile. (this is a scrapbook that gives birthparents a look at what life with us might be like.  this is where a birthmother can "get to know" a family through pictures and letters that explain who a family is and what they enjoy, believe and do together as a family.  it can play a huge role in being chosen by a birthmother, so it is an important, and time-consuming project... but one that i love to do!)
  • complete the home study.  (this is what kicks off my adoptive-version of nesting.  and trust me, it is no less intense than nesting while pregnant.  i have done both! comparatively, nesting during an adoption is intensified because it happens for an indefinite period of time! having no due date to use as a gauge for when my personal mania will end is tricky, but i usually  use the home study date as a nice "kick-off" to my indefinite state of perpetual nesting-mania.
  • maybe move into a different house.  (this one is not a "must" but is highly recommended by the last shred of common sense that i possess.  in order to make room for mistry babe, we will have to really overhaul the bedrooms.  depending on if we have a boy or a girl... we will have to move harper and london around, tear up carpets, loft beds, and bunk the baby up with someone... it just might be a costly project, and we aren't 100% convinced it makes sense to invest more money in this house, when we know that eventually we are going to need more space.  and if there is one person out there who would like to challenge me on this, i would ask you to try potty-training and living with five kids with one bathroom. on the second floor.  that leaves one sink, one toilet, one shower, and three bathroom drawers for 7 people.  i am not complaining... we have been making it work.  but, let's just say... we are outgrowing our home with four kids.  #5 might seal the deal.)
so, those are the major things off the top of my head.  i will certainly keep everyone apprised as we move along.  we are very excited about growing our family, once again, through adoption.  i am, admittedly, a little nervous.  it seems pushy to ask God for another healthy, beautiful child.  it is tempting to leave well-enough alone, and just be happy with the four treasures that i have already been given.  but, God is God.  and i am a fool. so, i am gonna go with obeying what i believe He has asked us to do.  and i believe we are called to open our hearts, our lives, our home, and even our bathroom to another baby.  so, we will.  we will wait, and nest, and open ourselves to this little miracle-mistry that will someday be so much our own, that he will only seem a mistry to everyone but us.

August 29, 2011

You can't see it, but there is so much giggling and dolls speaking in falsetto here.

August 28, 2011

Last day as a five year old! wahhh!

Tomorrow my little Marlie turns 6 years old! Let the bowling commence! (i know i swore i would never post a picture of food i made, but c'mon, this is the coolest thing i will ever make. So, this is probably the last time it'll happen.)

August 26, 2011

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London's bedhead usually defies gravity, but these particular pigtails could lead worship for the most charismatic church.

August 22, 2011

there's a support group for that.

today i blew my baby's nose into a pair of dirty socks.

usually, i would opt for my sleeve, or a receipt from my pocket, or whatever elderly tissue i could find crumpled in the bottom of my diaper bag.  but today was special.  today was a snot-in-sock kinda day.  we were at the park with some lovely friends (shout out to jeannine and her well-behaved and sweet kiddos) and it was getting pretty hot, so i had marlie take off her socks.  it was handy timing because not too long after that, i saw london trying to blow her own nose into the pocket of her overalls.

"sick," i think to myself.  dirty socks made much more sense.

this was my first playdate with this woman.  and i was thankful that she didn't judge me.  out loud.

i have been processing through this whole judging, comparing, insecurity issue.  i think i am coming into a good place where i am starting to, unabashedly, be who i am.  in some ways, i feel like i have always been myself... no matter who i was around.  but, immediately upon leaving any social situation... i beat myself up for being myself.  for talking too much, or being too opinionated, or for asking such personal questions, or for not asking enough questions, or for waving my gangly limbs around too much when i talk.

this blog has actually been very therapeutic in regard to being myself.  lately, a few "closeted" readers came forward and confessed to following my blog.  they were such encouraging women!  they said such lovely, complimentary things.  but the best thing was when my friend, sue, said "it makes me feel like maybe i can be my self, and i don't have to fake it all the time."

what a blessing those words were to me.  so often i consider whether or not i should filter, or sensor, or eliminate something i have done, or said, or felt.  tom, my faithful proof-reader, continually encourages me, saying something to the effect of "you haven't had a filter a day in your life, why would you start now."

he frees me to be me.  sue, and these other ladies that encouraged me and my little blog, freed me up to be me.  and even those little moments where i literally (or figuratively) blow my baby's nose in a pair of gym socks, and forget that maybe that's disgusting and my new friend might be repulsed... instead, she just laughs and suggests i blog about it, and makes me feel free to be me.

so, this blog post is dedicated to any other secret blog- followers out there.  you may think of yourself as a "blog-stalker" or even a "creeper" as one woman swore that she was not.  but i don't care how shady or shifty you are, this post is for you readers in the closet.  just know, that there are others out there just like you.  you are not in this alone. and i appreciate you all, even if you never come forward.  when i write some crazy story about my life, or an even crazier story about what goes on in this head of mine... you read it and you don't send me mean emails, and in some small way, that makes me feel free to be myself.  and for better or worse, i am one nutty broad... so i will take all the freedom i can get!

if you, or someone you love, has secretly followed a blog... now is the time to confess it.  there is a whole bunch of us out there.  so don't be ashamed of how creeptastic you may seem., just confess your blog love freely.  and, if you're in a pinch, wipe a nose with whatever you fancy.

should we worry.jpg

Our morning discovery.

August 21, 2011

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Even the Barbies have chores in our house.

August 19, 2011

What? Aren't all babies wearing goggles indoors at 9pm?

August 18, 2011

Harper is helping me make peach cobbler, this was the uniform he decided to go with.

August 15, 2011

If something makes me smile, it's gotta be this.

August 14, 2011

miss marlie has been in trouble all day. oh how i wish my stubborn 'tude wasn't a such dominant hereditary trait. but, at least the poor thing inherited great curls!

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August 10, 2011

anything you can do, i can do better.

i might have a seriously major problem.  comparing myself to others has been a lifelong infection of mine.  i intentionally choose the word infection because that is what it is.  infection is defined as being tainted or contaminated with something that affects quality, character, or condition unfavorably. 

comparing myself to others is something that affects life's quality, my personal character and the condition of my heart unfavorably.  i am a sick, sick woman.

i think that this infection (for me) started at childbirth.  i was born 18 short months after my organized and athletically gifted sister, who could do almost anything better than me.  she was a more disciplined student, a much better athlete, and she always had her uniforms washed by game day.  comparatively, i was a bright, but distracted student who rarely "applied herself."  i was mediocre at sports, and had to sneak out of school during my lunch hour to go home and wash my uniform on game day.  and i usually washed the home jersey for away games, and vice versa.  my antics irritated my sister, and almost anyone in a position of authority.

don't get me wrong, i wasn't a complete idiot.  i'm just a little more free-spirited than your average apply-oneself-er.  it's not that i got bad grades, they just didn't reflect my potential.  one semester in college, i decided that i would actually try to get a 4.0.  i had 18 credit hours that semester, so it was the perfect time to see if i really had what it takes to ace a challenging course load.  i got a 4.0.  i didn't tell anyone at the time, and i never tried to apply myself so thoroughly ever again.

while i may not have told anyone, i kept track of that achievement in my mind.  if someone out-performed me in school... i could always say "well, if i had applied myself, i would have done just as well."  (comparison: victory for me.)  it is really out of self-preservation that i needed a secret comparison victory like this, because i spent the other 99% of my life feeling bad about the losses in most comparisons:  "wow, that girls has incredibly thick hair, but not frizzy-thick, her hair is smooth, shiny, pantene-commerical-thick. my hair isn't so much thick, as it is big.  not pantene-big, but 80's-big."  (comparison: loss for me.)  "her kids know all their state capitols??  and they recite the old testament in its entirety out loud before dinner?  and they eat the egg whites?  unsalted!?  she is super mom.  i'm the worst."  (comparison: loss for me.)  "but, her kids don't understand dry humor."  (comparison: victory.)

do you see what i mean?  i'm totally sick and infected.  it's like the circular argument i am constantly having in my head:  i am the worst-----> at least i'm not as bad as that guy-------> i am a total fool-------> she acted dumber than i did--------> i wish i could be her-----------> i could probably beat her up in a survival situation-----------> i would never act like that!----------> i can't believe i acted like that----------> i'm the worst----------> i can't believe that i am seriously the best.

sick. twisted. infected.

i hate comparing myself to others.  i usually lose out to some busty broad who fills out her dress like a proper adult... and to make myself feel better, i try to find a comparison victory to make myself feel better.  so, i search and i come up with something like, at least i know not to wear the sock/sandal combination that lady is rockin'.  it's horrible, and it doesn't make me feel better.  it makes me feel like a huge jerk.  which leads to "well, at least i'm not as big of a jerk as...."

if all of you egg my house tonight, i will understand why.  i just egged it for saying this stuff out loud.

so, i have been contemplating the comparison trap.  i have realized that it leads (in my mind) to some perceived loss or victory.  the losses, obviously, make me feel horrible.  and the victories make me feel a little better for a hot second, but ultimately make me feel horrible.  the trap is this: "victories" lead to pride (sickening), or "losses" lead to self-loathing (sickening.)  either way, comparing myself to others makes me more and more self-focused and sickening by the second.  so, i quit.

i am giving up comparisons.  i am choosing to believe that i am fearfully and wonderfully made, and so is everyone else.  no better, no worse.  we are all made in the image of a good and perfect God who is neither impressed by my "victories", nor disgusted at my "losses."  so, i am choosing to agree with God on who i am, and who others are.  i am going to stop measuring myself against other women, and start measuring myself against who i know God created me to be.

this is going to be really hard because it all happens in my head where there is zero accountability.  so, if you see me deep in thought, just slap me right across the face as hard as you can because i am, undoubtedly, comparing myself to someone else.  i will gladly do the same for all my sisters out there who are stuck in this same sick trap of comparing ourselves, and our families, and our gifts, and our faults, and so on...

i'll even bet i can slap harder than you can slap.

August 2, 2011

July 30, 2011

life done well.

as i have said, i am working on being fabulous.  more specifically, i am working on living a fabulous life.  and even more specifically than that, i am working on realizing that the life i live is already fabulous, so i am noticing, naming and thanking god for each gift in each moment of my life.

this journey has been a mind-consuming thing.  to stop, and notice.  first of all, the moments in my house that are quiet, totally focused and still?  there have been about four of those moments in the last 7 1/2 years.  my life has felt like a whirlwind, especially the motherhood part of my life.  it all started with a scandalous break-up, where i called off an engagement to an impressive guy that most women wouldn't dream of walking away from.  but, i did and i know it was the best thing for both of us.  then in an even more scandalous rebound move, i met my beloved husband, the kind of guy, that NO woman would dream of walking walk away from.  so, i didn't walk away (for once in my life) and in one last move of scandal we ended up pregnant before we were married.   this is how motherhood began for me.  with a lot of unresolved emotional baggage.  even during those seemingly "quiet" months of pregnancy, where i didn't have any other children to run around and look after... there was a lot of noise.  there was so much noise in my mind.  just noise.  i started the painstaking process of sifting through my baggage.

i sifted.  for years i have sifted the noise of my upbringing; a divorce, a brother's life violently taken, a search for happiness in all the wrong places (and in all the wrong people.)  i sifted through the noise of my young adulthood; the regrettable choices, shame, mistakes.  i have sifted through beliefs taught to me, beliefs introduced to me by books, professors, the world, oprah and friends.  i have sifted through instincts, fears, ideals, and ideologies.  i've forgiven some unforgivable things done to me, things i took years to say out loud.  and i've sifted all the secrets i've been asked to keep, and those i kept on my own.

even before the actual, physical noise of motherhood, there was this inaudible noise of my mind.  it has been such a long, loud life.  attempting to be fabulous in my thirties is, for me, much more than looking great and loving life.  living a life of gratitude can only happen if i have sifted through enough past garbage to have a moment quiet enough to see what's actually happening right here and now.

so, my silly resolution of fabulousness is actually a deeply spiritual exercise in faith, healing, forgiveness and renewal.  i have resolved that as God makes me new each day, that at some point in my thirties He will graciously reveal a creation made new, and so stinkin' fabulous that i will undoubtedly have to write a book.

so, here is a moment of my life.  and in it, a thousand gifts, waiting to be noticed and named and appreciated.  i see the sunlight dancing on the blonde curls of, marlie, my second born daughter, as she pours herself a goblet of muddy-water tea.  she perpetually has one bun-cheek hanging out of her bathing suit.  london walks around.  she is bow-legged, and she's a little pushy.  in her veins, her blood is being pumped at a normal rate and her blood is all her own.  the bags of adult blood that were transfused through her body are gone, and what is left is her own healthy blood.  her bone marrow is doing it's job.  annalee, the eldest and "most likely to be class treasurer," fixes the strap on london's bathing suit, all on her own.  harper, my only son and the one who makes my heart simultaneously ache and leap with joy, dumps a pitcher of water on his own head... and then seems startled by the event.

these are all gifts.  i name these, and i write them down, and i thank God - out loud - for each of them.  i am naming the specifics.  i am thankful for the kids, in general, but something is lost in general gratitude.  i am specifically thankful.  in this moment, though, i am mostly thankful that in my mind, i have sifted out enough clutter to make room for the awareness of 1,000 gifts.

July 29, 2011

update on London's health

Yesterday, London had her 18 month check-up and we wanted to share how it went with all who have been praying for her.  In the last 2 months, London has gained almost 2 pounds, grown 2 inches, and moved up 2 shoe sizes.  This is the first growth in the past 9 months.  Since her 12 month check-up she has moved from the 5th to the 24th percentile in weight.  Also, she has moved from the 8th to the 33rd percentile in height.  We received back all of the results of her genetic testing and all of the results came back negative. Additionally, her most recent blood test results suggest that she is still happily making her own red blood cells.  We have one more blood test in a few weeks just to be sure, but if those are as good as we expect them to be... we will be done with all medical testing for London.  As you can imagine, this is a huge relief and amazing testimony to God's healing.  The only unresolved issue that remains is her diarrhea, which has been ongoing for nearly 4 months.  Please continue prayer for this specifically.  Thank you all for your prayers and concern, and encouragement!

July 22, 2011

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London was quite a little helper unloading the groceries. Yes, that is a pack of swimmy diapers in the crisper. Just where I wanted them... She's so smart.

July 17, 2011

End of Chapter Two

Since my last update, we got set up at Devil's Hopyard, which was a large State Park that our GPS refused to acknowledge. Madge (which is what we named the lady voice of our Magellan GPS), hates New England. If pushed, Madge will send you down dark, muddy, and (arguably) haunted streets in the middle of the night. More on that shortly, but next, we have a feature story from ATATT.

Those of you who personally know the star of All Tom, All the Time, understand that Tom is not really a guy who risks it all, throws caution to the wind, or goes where the wind takes him. Tom could also be the star of another feature like, All Cautious, All the Time, or All Planned Out, All the Time, or even All Low-Risk, All the Time. This is not to say he isn't brave, or fun, or adventurous... As his fan base, though, that much is obvious. The point is that when Tom leaves the rain fly off, it's because the forecast says that there is a 0% change of rain, clear skies all but guaranteed.

That was the forecast on our first night at Devil's Hopyard, and given such statistical support, Tom decided against the fly. When it started thunder storming (literally leaving an actual puddle on Tom's sleeping bag - everything else in the tent was bone dry) he was understandably surprised and just a tad agitated. We scrambled, once again, like crazy first-time campers and got the fly on.

That was about the same time that I had to leave to go get my dad at the airport. He was flying in to Hartford, CT just after midnight on his birthday. I asked Madge if she could handle getting me to Hartford's airport and back to the campsite... She reluctantly agreed. Just to build her confidence, I stored the exact GPS longitude and latitude coordinates of our actual camp site. No reason to get lost.

As I said in my last post, I don't drive when Tom and I are together. I hate it, and am maybe not the best at it... So, he drives and we're both fine with it. But, I wanted to get my dad, so Madge and I set out, breaking my 3 week dry spell.

I went with Madge's suggestion of Hartford's only airport, which proved to be a very small, private airport for flying lessons and things of that nature. When I pulled up at almost midnight to padlocked chain link gates, no lights or parking... something felt off, like maybe United Airlines is stopping by tonight after all. So, I panicked, not wanting to be late, I chastised Madge briefly and turned to the age-old "ask a police officer" move. Fortunately a group of 4 or 5 officers were hanging out in the parking lot between a bar and gas station. After closer inspection, I am pretty certain that they weren't legit cops, but had more of a "male entertainer" type of look... But, their uniforms were pretty convincing, so I asked for directons and they happily sent me on my way to the international airport just outside of Hartford that Madge forgot to mention. (She's so literal.)

Anyways, I am brilliant enough to give myself plenty of extra time... So I got there right when my dad's plane landed. Mission accomplished. And given my previous brilliance (setting the GPS coordinates as my next destination), not even Madge could slow us down.

I got my dad, was glad to see him and was excited to get back, get some sleep and let the kids give him some birthday gifts that they picked out themselves. That was not what Madge had in mind. Apparently when I saved the EXACT coordinates of our site, she thought that meant I wanted to go down a long, gravel, dead-end road where the Salem witch trials (practically) took place. When I got to the end of Foxtown Cemetary Rd. (which falls between Witch Hill Rd. and Salem Rd.) I gave Madge the cold-shoulder and pulled an agressive U-turn. Unfortunately, my turn was just a bit over-zealous and I backed too far over the edge of the road, trapping my spinning back tires in mud. We were stuck in Witchville, USA at 1:30am, no thank you very much.

By the time AAA came and pulled us out, and we got back to the campsite it was about 4:30 in the morning. Happy Birthday Jack, love Madge. Ok, I guess it wasn't all the GPS, my driving skills are to blame too. In some, minuscule way I suppose.

This made for a tiring morning, but we pushed through it... exchanged gifts, and headed out after breakfast for a brief 0.87 mile hike to an overlook point, called the vista. We found the vista, about a mile and a half later, and turned to head back. About 3 miles later, we actually arrived back at our campsite. Apparently Madge's bad sense of direction wore off on me, and I got us pretty turned around.

Next, we headed into New London, for what would surely be an exhilarating stop at a Maritime Museum. The kids got a brief look at a graphic portrayal of naked African slaves violently overthrowing their white captors aboard the Amistad. While the portrayal was inaccurate, historically speaking, it was anatomically spot on. So, there's that little bit of education for the children. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and passionate, pronouncing foreign names in their original dialect with more gusto than I've seen in decades.

We had great difficulty getting the kids to sleep that night, they were squirrelly and excited (knowing it was our last night camping), and likely overly tired from being forced to senselessly hike a half-marathon earlier that day. But, our visit with my dad was nice, and we got the kids down... Eventually.

Now, we are headed back home. It is bittersweet to leave the carefree adventure behind, but, with it, we happily leave behind the bug spray, the coolers filled with perpetually sogged food, and a potpourri of odors coming from a potpourri of places.

I have never considered scrubbing my children with steel wool before this trip, but it's on the table, I'm not gonna lie.

Our trip was really fun, though, and I am so proud of my family. I am proud of the kids, who go wherever we drag them, (usually) without complaint. And of how they hiked so much, endured bug bites and just a touch of poison ivy, like true camping enthusiasts. I am proud of Tom for doing these trips, for being the kind of dad and husband who actually WANTS to spend his vacation time doing this crazy stuff. And I am proud of myself. For going through with these wild adventures against scoffer's warning, and against conventional wisdom, and against all motherly instincts to keep one's children clean and comfortable. I am even proud of Madge, who failed us time and again, but really stuck with her beliefs about "taking a legal u-turn when possible."

I am thankful that we can take these trips, and I am thankful that my kids will grow up with so many great memories, and unusual experiences. I am thankful that they have a stable, steady father and a crazy mother and a home to go back to, with a bed for each, covered with sweet, precious, clean sheets.

In my thirties, I said I wanted gratitude. The trick is not FINDING things to be thankful for. The trick SEEING and ACKNOWLEDGING everything around me as the blessing it already is. I hope that I really do complain less, and grow a longer temper, and become truly fabulous and have great skin. But, more than anything I want to SEE, I want to see everything as a gift from God before it registers as anything else. I want to look around and really see every gift, every blessing. And it is easy for me to see and acknowledge that this time away was a huge gift, and each person I got to go with is a blessing I am so glad to call mine.

July 15, 2011

Scoring an Eisenbeiser Ain't Easy.

So, last night we arrived in Rhode Island. The state park we stayed at was more like a hoppin' block party. Which is a plus whenever we get a little too loud, but a little annoying when there is zero privacy. One little bonus, was that the campers before us, presumably the Eisenbeisers, left a children's soccer ball behind. The kids kept taking turns with it, requesting to play with "the Eisenbeiser" next. Even London is saying Eisenbeiser instead of ball. In Castaway, Tom Hanks had Wilson. In Rhode Island, we had Eisenbeiser.

It was a nice night, and we went to a nearby beach, then to a lighthouse, where we cooked and ate dinner on an oceanside bluff. (I am not totally certain I am using the right word here, but it was the bluffiest thing I've eaten on. So, let's just call it a bluff. Bluff it is. I hate the word bluff now that I have said it so many times, so now I'm calling it a 20 foot cliff over a rocky shore of Point Judith, a little peninsula leggy thing sticking off the state of Rhode Island.)

Anyhow, that's where we ate. It was really beautiful and the weather was perfect. So, we slept without the rain fly. We did not realize how risky this was until this morning when we woke up to the wild call of some sort of prehistoric birds. They pooped all over our tent, fortunately they focused their efforts more on the door of our tent, sparing the screened ceiling area (and our faces).

ATATT News Insert: Tom was the unfortunate tent de-pooper, which probably triggered flashbacks... Because he also de-pooped our picnic table the day before. No wonder he has so many fans... It takes a real man to let his woman remain free of such duties. Other duties I have been spared from this ENTIRE trip include, but may not be limited to: setting up the tent, taking down the tent, dealing with bugs, dealing with animal feces, and heavy lifting. Also, I don't drive. I mean, in general I do, but if I can help it, I won't. I haven't drive once in almost 3 weeks. On the other hand, I do all the cooking (except coffee, I make horrible coffee. Just can't get that ratio right.) I also manage roughly 1,350 ziplock bags full of clothes, socks, shoes, pajamas, rain gear, toiletries, cold-weather clothing, etc. For all six of us.). If Tom didn't come, we'd eat well, but sleep outside... But, we'd get mad dehydrated because I can't open the water bottle caps he twists on so tightly. Bad wrists, you know. If Tom did this without me, he would only eat marshmallows, which he would have to roast naked, but he'd have a tent and no animal poop anywhere. So, it's probably good we are a package deal.

This afternoon we did some of Cliff Walk, which is a 3 mile stretch along the coast of Newport, RI. The gorgeous mansions were incredible, and bad for my self-esteem. Then we hit a matinee showing of the new Winnie the Pooh movie. The kids were loving it, and I was loving the AC. I stopped loving the experience when a wrestling match between London and I (over who was at the helm of the juice box holding) left one of my legs juice-soaked and sticky.

We are now headed to our last campsite, Devil's Hopyard State Park near Salem, Connecticut, where we will spend our last two nights. My dad is flying in tonight from Michigan and spending the next two nights with us before we head home.

I am sure that he is in for quite an experience. I think he will particularly enjoy the post-dinner Beatboxing Hour, featuring "DJ Harper and all the Saliva He can Muster."

More on that to come, I'm sure.

winnie the pooh premiere.jpg

Today was opening day for the new Winnie the Pooh movie. So, we hit the theatre in Rhode Island after doing the gorgeous Cliff Walk. This is Harper and London's first time at a real movie theatre. They are very excited, especially because when we passed Home Depot on the way to the cinema, they thought that was going to be our surprise destination. The movies are even better than home improvement stores!

"Let's all go to the movies!" -Daddy Warbucks, in Annie (Sam, don't you wish I was your mom?)

July 14, 2011

our view for dinner tonight... right on the coast of Rhode Island.jpg

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Muggy and Buggy

We spent our first night in Wompatuck State Park being boiled alive in our tent. So much sweat was involved. Tom summed it up best when describing it as "muggy and buggy."

Our second night is best described as "torrential downpour." In between the two nights, however, was a lovely day spent on Cape Cod. We had lunch at a playground after driving the historic "Captain's Mile" which was a 1.5 mile stretch of old Sea Captain's homes.

From there we went to Grey's Beach where we walked a 300 foot boardwalk pier out over the marshlands. At the end, we pet a crab and walked back. After this, we caught our own miniature little crablets. The kids enjoyed naming and releasing them. London enjoyed throwing them instantly back in the water, since she thought they were rocks... or she is a die-hard crustacean advocate. Time will tell.

We then made a half-hearted attempt to see Plymouth Rock. Our lax effort never really paid off, but we did see some other rocks that has no historical importance, but were lovely nonetheless.

We are now in Rhode Island heading to our campsite at Fishermen's Memorial State Park, which is right on the shoreline and should be beautiful.

I know what it is you're all after though, so without further ado... Let's hear it for Tom everyone!

Today in ATATT, we will take a closer look at Tom's rise to fame and get to know a new side of Tom... Not Tom the star, but Tom the camping husband-dad-man.

L: What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the trip?
T: (*Note to reader: Tom originally gave this answer, "I will know later. Next question.") Final answer: "After one failed attempt, and one mediocre success... I was able to rig a tarp just in time for the torrential downpour, which served as shelter over our picnic table. The downside was that it also provided shelter for either squirrels or chipmunks... I don't know which it was. Whichever animal sprays more poop pellets on our tablecloth, that would be the one."
L: How do you feel that you handled the extreme weather conditions over the past few days? And can you describe what you were feeling?
T: (*Note to reader: this question made Tom want to "crash his head into the window.") Final answer: "The hot weather threw me a bit. 95 degrees, in a tent (with the rain fly on) is not ideal sleeping conditions. That night I hated camping. My friend, Paul Robinson, always hates camping. So I asked myself, WWPRD?, What Would Paul Robinson Do? Here is what I came up with, Paul would rip open the side of the tent with his bare hands, tell everyone to 'get up and get in the car,' leave everything at the campsite, and drive 90 mph to the closest hotel. Instead, I laid there and drenched my own drawers and sleeping bag. Next time I will DWPRWD (Do What Paul Robinson Would Do.).
L: The trip will soon be ending, can you tell your fans what they can expect from you upon returning home? Can they expect to see a blog from you in the coming weeks?
T: "I am in negotiations with my agent and publisher about a blog deal."
L: How have you managed to stay balanced during your recent rise to stardom?
T: "I am totally unbalanced. The stardom has driven me to extremes. For a closer look, you should see me on VH1 Storytellers soon."
L: Would you like to take this opportunity to thank anyone? Like, I don't know, someone for supporting you? Keeping you humble? Featuring you on their wildly successful blog?
T: "Nope, I'm good."

July 12, 2011

poor baby.jpg

Ladybird's burn. :( poor sweetheart can't get a break. We threw away the camp chair. But for those who think us negligent... we have used it for six years without a problem. I guess the lady is just top-heavier than the others.

Burnt in Boston

We concluded our time in Maine with a last-ditch drive to the northern part of the state in an effort to see a moose. We did not succeed.

Our last night in Maine was quite eventful. We made a last-minute campground change, which landed us at Paul Bunyon Campground in Bangor, Me. If you are looking for a family-friendly atmosphere, with a moral and inviting feel... maybe skip Paul Bunyon. If, however, you are looking for F-bombs all around, and an occasional mother threatening to "whoop yer..." then Bunyon's your place.

Adding to the already colorful experience, we had our first injury-related trip to the emergency room in seven and a half years as parents. We were all sitting in our camp chairs around the fire (including London who has a teeny tiny version of an adult camp chair.) The only difference in our chair and hers, is that apparently it tips with the slightest lean forward... which is exactly how London ended up with a bump and first degree burn on her forehead. She must have dropped her cracker or something, and when she leaned forward, she fell head-first, landing right on the fire ring.

I took her right to the ER, in part because it was too dark to get a good look at the burn and we'd rather take her in to be sure she was okay. They said it should heal up fine, and she seems to be pretty comfortable.

We were thankful that that was our last night of camping before another hotel stop. This gave us a chance to, once again get cleaned up and do laundry. It was horrible going to the hospital with a dirty, stinky kid and saying "yeah, she fell down, I swear, she's usually cleaner. And I don't always smell of smoke and wood and car." Tip: If you have an injured child and you have only showered once since June 30, at least wipe the pacifier shaped residue off from around your baby's face before your take her in. It will just help you keep your dignity when Child Protective Services hauls you to the Women's Penitentiary of Maine.

Ok, it was actually fine. They told me that accidents happen, and she is so pretty that nobody will even notice if it does leave a scar... which it shouldn't. But, they did say to keep the area clean. So it is true that I was very thankful for the hotel stay and your basic hygiene.

Our hotel was right in Boston, and we spent today at the Public Gardens, where the kids got to ride the swan boats and see the little duck statues that the kids know from one of our favorite children's books "Make Way for Ducklings." They enjoyed feeding the ducks, seeing a woman painted gold who acted as a statue (quite impressively), and meeting "Juice" a tenor sax player who waits until just the perfect amount of shade covers his favorite bench before his sits down to start playing.

From there we went to the Museum of Science. This was a nice break from the 94 degree heat, and a good deal since our zoo membership has a reciprocal program which allowed 5 of us free admission. We are now headed to our campsite at Wompatuck State Park, about 45 minutes outside Boston (or a million minutes, with traffic.)

I am exhausted from staying up late doing laundry. I actually fell asleep on the wooden bench in the hotel laundry room. Between lack of showering and my general appearance and position of the bench, it definitely would have been a low point, if we hadn't just burned our baby the night before. :(

But, tonight should be an early-to-bed kind of night, and tomorrow brings all sorts of new mercies, and hopefully a healing epidermis and a fresh start.

tom's moose - stuffed and behind glass.jpg

Boston duck statues from “Make Way For Ducklings”.jpg

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Riding the swan boat around Duck Pond in Boston from the storybook "Make Way For Ducklings".

our view of Boston from the hotel room.jpg

July 11, 2011

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We tripled our "one eat out a week" allowance while in Maine. Had to try the local favorite - lobster rolls.

July 10, 2011

fun surprise of the night - there's a pool at our campsite!.jpg

A buffet of ridiculousness

For readers returning from my early blogging days, you may remember a few posts entitled "Never in a Millions Years." These posts were a sort of list of things I never thought I would say (or hear) in a million years. Below is a Road Trip Sampler Platter of things that I never imagined I would speak, or hear spoken, out loud.

Harper: "Enjoy the feel. Aaannnd, look at the bright side." (The kids take turns each day being Captain of decision-making, and this was what Haper offered up for the Captain's advice-o-the-day.)
Me: "There is no reason for your hand to have that much shine." (This was after I gave Harper a very small piece of candy. So small, that it should not have produced any mysterious hand shine - usually saliva or stickiness.)
London: "Cracker got me!" (When London gets upset, she will ask for either Tom or I by saying 'Mama/Dada got me!' It's her sweet little way of saying she wants one of us to get her. If she falls! 'Mama got me!" Or if Tom is walking away, and she wants to go too, 'Dada got me!'. Recently it has become her way of asking for anything she wants. Hence, 'Cracker got me!')
Me: "Yes, you can say 'good morning' to the serious campers, but you can't spit your toothpaste that loud when they're nearby."
Harper: "Sometimes animals poop on dair floor, but I will only say dat once because it's rude to keep talkin' 'bout dat."
Marlie: "I took a nice, little nap and now I changed my heart so next time we have to leave I will say 'Okay, well we had tons of fun and we can come back again another time.' That way it won't ruin the other fun things we have planned." (This wasn't totally ridiculous, but it was pretty cute.)
Me: "Juice should not come out of your face." (One of my many selling points in my pitch for chewing with your mouth closed.)
Me: "When a car is coming at you, you can't just look at it. You have to actually move back." (Lessons in Basic Survival 101.)
London: "Cake? Cake? Cake! Cake? Cake?" (Asking for a marshmallow? Cake. Asking for maple syrup? Cake. Asking for anything slightly sweet? Cake.)
Me: There shouldn't be any whining while I cook dinner, your tummies should be full of ice cream." (I feel a little shame on this one... But dessert was Captain's Choice. Marlie was Captain and her Choice was ice cream before dinner.)
Harper: "Mama I have a little skin peel. Can you really fix my skin peel?" (I still have no idea what this means."

Now for All Tom, All the Time's Sampler Platter. (That title is something I never thought I'd say in a million years.)

Tom: "I'll even take one on the side of the road, like roadkill." (Tom's desperation has spiked as we are nearing the northernmost tip of Maine and still have not spotted a real, live moose.)
Tom: "That black bird sucks." (When I tried to lift his spirits by pointing out a nice crow instead.)
Tom: "There is no more asking for gumballs, we will surprise you with one when it's time."
Tom (a short while later): "There is no more asking us when we are going to surprise you with gumballs."
Tom (whispered to me quietly): "If someone drops their wrap and tuna gets in this car I'm just going to drive right into a tree."
Tom: "Did you see that crispy wizard crotch?" (Somehow Harper's mispronunciation of 'sesame sticks' morphed into 'crispy wizards.'. So, when London spilled a cup of sesame sticks in her lap, it created a 'crispy wizard crotch' worth checkin' out.)
Tom: "And the worst part? I can't find Gandalph."

July 9, 2011

view from the top.jpg

We made it!

first climb to a summit.jpg

We just finished our first family mountain climb! It was a really difficult climb for the kids especially... But us too in some places. We did South Bubble (766 ft to summit) then North Bubble (872 ft). It was a beautiful view at the top... But a little too dangerous for air guitar. So, I will send a picture of the view from the top next.

wicked maine air guitar.jpg

Gorgeous views call for wicked moves.

swimming in the Atlantic.jpg

learning about native american tools.jpg

July 7, 2011

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All Tom, All the Time:

As requested: action shots of driving. I know I'm in there too... But, I got a new headband! And it's my blog (Joe), forgive my involvement.

Maine, Mustaches & Mosquitos.

Today is Day 8, which means as of tomorrow, our trip is half over. Wahh.

So, as you may have seen... We achieved all our lobster goals by ordering twin lobsters. I must say, it was quite appalling and I will never eat a whole lobster again in my life.

There was just a lot of cracking, and oozing, and discharging for one dish. When I am eating, I do not want any of my food having a discharge. Sick-a-relly.

So, we are now Livin' La Vida Lesson Learned and, in the future, plan to opt for the chowder, and politely pass on the opportunity to open up the exoskeleton of our dinner.

What did not disappoint, on the other hand, was bathing. It felt so good to have all six heads (and tails) scrupulously cleaned. We trimmed nails, washed clothes and flip flops. It was a little sad to discover that my legs were not as tan as I thought, just dirty. After the hotel, we got right back into the filth of our camping groove.

We explored downtown Portland, Maine (not nearly as radical as our visit to Portland, Oregon last summer... Rick and Christine were sorely missed.) After Portland, we went to Mackworth Island which is an adorable little island, heavily wooded, with a narrow beach... but, the best part is a clearing in the woods with dozens of tiny fairy houses built by little visitors. Annalee and Marlie got right to work building intricate fairy houses, complete with desk lamps made of acorn tops, and leafy bed covers. Harper got right to work laying a stick across his upper lip and pretending it was a huge mustache. And London waited until we had hiked to the point on the island that was furthest from the car (and the diaper bag), then got to work on filling her drawers. It was a beautiful day though and a nice, easy hike. For the two oldest girls, it was definitely a favorite activity.

Our campsite last night was not at all what we expected. The website boasted of waterfront campsites which would be a clam-digging free-for-all. In actuality, it was a wild mosquito refuge, in the deep woods of a trailer-park, with a dash of thunderstorms during set-up time. If I was still in my twenties, this might be a time when I complained. Fortunately for all of us, my new maturity transcends such trivial challenges.

If I were in my twenties, I might also complain about our GPS, which has led us astray, more than once. But, not thirty year old, fabulous me. This me says "well, at least we know where that supermarket isn't!" (Insert polite, closed-mouthed church smile here, while making a hmm sound.)

But, we managed to stay dry, get ice cream to celebrate Annalee's and London's half birthdays, and get a decent night's sleep. This morning we visited the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Me. We saw lots of interesting things, and climbed aboard a real ship, as well as a pirate ship playground.

We are on our way to Acadia National Park, which will be our home for the next three nights. As for ATATT, Tom is feeling overwhelmed by the question "how is the trip going?" So, out of respect for the hardships of newfound celebdom, I will give the fans a little something to hold them over and just say that he is a safe driver, a willing tent putter-upper and his head, specifically, is a mosquito magnet.

So for Day 8, we are taking the scenic drive along the rocky coast of Maine, while we sip hot coffee and all the kids are silent with sleep... even in my twenties I couldn't complain.