Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Quick! Go buy a lottery ticket.

We have had quite the 24 hours over here at the Hotel Dumpling. Zach has been offered 2 new big woodworking jobs (helping a buddy make a custom circular staircase for some huge house on Long Island, and making a table and 8 chairs for a friend of the family's) and sold a cello all in a span of a day, and then our stimulus check came in the mail (Which we will spend on a very sexy purchase. Heating fuel. Oooooh baby!) It makes me want to run out and buy a Powerball ticket, and I never buy lottery tickets.

Usually the holidays just mean that a giant vacuum is attached to our bank account and turned on high. It makes for a nice change to have this year be one where we can relax about the finances a bit, especially before the festive season and given the current economy.

The woman who bought Zach's cello flew up here from Puerto Rico to try it! And the weather could NOT have been any more disgusting today, sleet and snow and rain and yuck!!!Thank God she loved it. I am almost jealous of the cello. How come it gets to jet off to the Caribbean? She is the 2nd cello in the PR Symphony, so the cello will be back in PR tomorrow and it's first gig is playing the Nutcracker. Kinda sweet isn't it? I like knowing where they are going and what they will be playing. They are a bit like kids. A lot of love, hard work and quite a bit of swearing goes into them. They drive Zach crazy, but turn out beautifully.

So, our REAL kids have started playing hockey, and I literally don't know what to do with all the gear. Between the hockey bags and the downhill and cross country ski gear I am having trouble getting into our mudroom. I mean honestly, look at the pictures of them posing next to their hockey bags. These are 4 year old human beings. They are not large. Can you imagine them once all the crap in those bags is on their little 40lb bodies? I'll get pictures of that next week.

I love that Grace gets out of her hockey gear and immediately dons her princess garb again. But look at the size of those bags! They couldn't have taken up Hackey Sack? Or chess? Something that doesn't require a U-haul to get the gear to the rink or the slopes?

I know, I know, I'm the one who introduced them to skiing and riding. But the hockey thing is all on Zach. I don't even know how to dress them for it. Although I am a very capable cocoa buyer at the rink concession stand. I can hand over $5 like nobody's business!

At least Noah's only sport is Olympic Jolly Jumper bouncing in the heavy-weight class. He always seems to be wearing this outfit when I take his picture. I guess I do put it on him a lot. But it pleases me no end to be able to wander around the house and shout "I found Waldo!" whenever I see him in it.

My life is full of simple, and inane, pleasures.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

On boys and hibernating.

So, twice in the last 10 days Kai has fallen asleep at about 4:15pm with a headache and been out for the night. Which, of course, means I was frantically researching "headaches in kids" on the internet, sure that it means something, and it does. It means he had a headache.

Yeah, not so good on the not jumping to conclusions over here. I was mentally scheduling him for brain surgery.

But I think part of my fear is that I don't want him to get migraines like I do. I would do ANYTHING for my kids not to ever have to go through that. Hell, I would do anything not to have ANY kid go through that. He has never complained of a headache before and he never gets sick. Never. And he has an absurdly high pain thresh hold, like, kinda dangerously high. As in he does some CRAZY stuff with his body, falls, everyone around does a collective "Woooooaaaaaaahhhhhhh!! That had to hurt!" and he leaps up smiling. The number of times I have found cuts with crusted over blood that he has no idea how he got, is too many to count. How many four year olds do you know who, when they have a splinter deep in the bottom of their foot grin devilishly, "Dig IN there mom, c'mon, get it out. This is cool, it's like surgery!" And when I say"it's gonna hurt." He smiles and says "that's OK, it'll heal."

Don't hurt his feelings though, because those nerves are right there on the surface and even an unintentional rub the wrong way can bring on sobs that last a long, long time. His soul is fragile, and delicate and needs tender care. His enthusiasm for life vast, his heart and capacity to love, endless. His body, its a vehicle to carry that soul. It needs care, but he doesn't seem too concerned with the occasional scratch, bump or gaping wound, as long as it works and can carry his bright, shining, slightly reckless spirit from one fabulous activity to the next. Being the mother of sons is something else, I tell you, something else!

I'm having a hard time settling into myself this year. Usually, about this time of the fall (or stick season as we call it around here) I am totally into everything that speaks to feelings of warmth and comfort. But for some reason I am having a harder time settling into that this year. Maybe it's because we are going through tough sleep issues with all the kids right now, meaning that I am up a lot with one or all of them every night. By the time the day is over and they are snuggled into their beds, I am good for nothing but watching Scrubs or going straight to bed at an embarrassingly early hour. Hopefully that will sort itself out with the arrival of white noise machines and the ridiculously overpriced, but evidently brilliant, kids' sleep clock I had to order from Europe.

Part of the problem is that, since it is dark until about 7am, the kids can't tell when it's OK for them to get up, so they leap out of bed anywhere from 4am to 5:30am, when really, they are not supposed to leave their beds until 6am, otherwise mommy turns into a sleep deprived screaming machine. This clock is supposed to tell them when they are allowed to get up. I can't WAIT for the thing to arrive.

The other reason I am not able to nest as much is because of the baby. I had gotten used to being able to sit with the older kids and work while they played or did puzzles or colored (by work I mean knit, sew or cook. The work that feeds my soul.), but with a baby, I can't. He is too wiggly to hold while I knit, I can't put him down long enough to even get the sewing machine out, and while I can, and do, cook with him on my hip, it's hard to get into the pleasure of the textures and smells when your worried about him sticking his little fingers into everything. It's all good, it's just that I had forgotten how many things I can't do with a baby in my arms. On the other hand, I can just hang out with a baby in my arms, which is always good (except when he gets heavy, which is happening more quickly these days.)

I usually make all my Christmas presents for the grownups, and I will again this year, but it would not be possible without the addition of Hilda, the wonder-Swede, in our lives. We have an au-pair, and she ROCKS! She and I are going to be sewing our little butts off, the kids and I will be baking, and somewhere in there I will finish Zach's sweater (I KNOW, but I started it waaaaaaay before the baby, so it doesn't technically make me nuts. Oh, and when I ran out of yarn, the store owner informed me it was a discontinued yarn, and my head almost exploded. I had completed 2 front pannels and the back, all in cables and 3/4 of the first arm. I thought I was going to throw up. Then she found 2 skeins and I was quite possibly the most relieved person in Vermont. I digress.) and make mom and Polly each a pair of socks. Everyone else should expect book-bags, aprons, place mats etc. Things that can be sewn together quickly, but made of the nicest materials, naturally.

Anyway, first we have Thanksgiving, which is the BEST holiday ever. No gifts, no stress, just food and family and viciously intense card games with Zach's siblings and cousins. They are not above cheating, so vigilance is required.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

You know, from the Godfather.

So, the butterfly cake was a hit. It had pink, it had sparkles and it was devoured by the kids and parents alike.

There were a ton of kids in our house yesterday and it went great. They were all so good! No tears, no fights, nothing but rambunctious and extremely loud play. Kai and Grace are so close in age, they share a lot of friends, so the party was a blast for everyone. I know it was a good shindig because a lot of them were in their skivvies by the end of the evening, but that's just how we roll around here.

We had a pinata, and the only one I could find last minute was a horse which happened to look rather like our pony Violet.

You can imagine where this is going, right? Yeah it didn't end well for the little guy.

Oh, dear.

It's like something out of The Godfather. You know what I'm talking about.

Anyway, the kids had a great time, most of all the birthday girl, which was the whole point after all wasn't it?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Gracie!!!

So my beautiful daughter turns 4 today. How in the hell did that happen??? We woke up early, we had pancakes and opened presents and are now trying to survive the ensuing sugar crash and over stimulation caused by the acquisition of NEW THINGS. This child is so amazing. She is so sure of who she is in a way I don't think I have ever been . As my mom's friend Pat says "Grace is a complete package. None of her spills over." By which she means that Grace is Grace no matter the situation. I am deeply affected by place, and time and other people's moods. Grace is not. She is who she is.

Sometimes that person is incredibly bossy, and sometimes heart achingly sweet. She can be a tyrant and an angel in the same breath.

For a little over 3 years I have had the privilege and challenge of being this girl's mother. Some days I feel so inadequate, as if there is no way I can be the mother she should have. Other days, I feel like, if I can just stay out of her way and not try to interfere, just love her, then it will be alright. More than alright. She will be spectacular.
I have a hard time not bending them to my sometimes forceful will. Parenting a stubborn little girl isn't easy and power struggles pop up before I even know it. There are a lot of days when I forget to say to myself "She is a baby. You do not need to fight about this. How important is it really?" Because usually, I am just trying to make a point. Or she wants to do something that's going to be messy, and honestly, why do I care? Messes can be cleaned up, and she can help. Points don't always need to be made. I can let her win a few from time to time.

I like to make a new parenting resolution on my kids' birthdays and for Grace, I am going to try to not stand in the way of her heart and soul and yes, even her will. Before I know it she will be gone, and I won't get a second chance at this. I am lucky to have any chance at all.

Today is, naturally, the day her birth mother is most on my mind. I wonder how she is doing. Is she sad? Is she thinking of Grace? Does she even know where she is? We are still trying to find her. We are on our third search and are hopeful this time will be our lucky shot. Mostly I want her birthmom to know that she is loved beyond measure, that she is healthy and happy and not stuck in an orphanage. Kai's birthmom didn't know what had happened to him until we found and contacted her. She was greatly relieved to hear he had a family. I want that for Grace's birthmom too.

But more than that, I want to find her for Grace. I want her to have a picture, an address, maybe even a place to visit. In my dream scenario, we would be able to go back and meet her and Grace could have all her questions answered. And I could say "thank you." Thank you for taking care of yourself while you were pregnant. Thank you for having her in a hospital. Thank you for having her. Thank you for loving her.

Kai often asks about his birthmom and I have pictures and a story to show him. And Grace spins these beautiful fairy tales about her birthmom and always talks about her in the most loving way, but I have no pictures, no letters, nothing but a name for her. I want more for my daughter. For this amazing child who asks for so little in her sweet life. For the little girl who crawled into bed with me this morning at 5am, snuggled in tight and whispered "Mama, can I have a butterfly cake that's covered in pink and then put sprinkles on it? 'Cause today I is four years old, ya know." If she wanted 18 carat gold flakes on her cake, I would find a way to make it happen.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Curse you facebook!!!!!

Why, people WHHHYYYYYYYY????? Why did I join that giant popularity contest of a time-suck? Why? Yes, there are people who instantly popped up who I haven't talked to in some time (Hi Hillary, the kids are adorable!) and there are people I would like to touch base with. But mostly I was dismayed by the sheer number of people Facebook claims I went to high school with who I have absolutely ZERO memory of. Who are they?? I am sure they are delightful, it's just that I felt like I had entered an episode of the Twilight Zone wherein the past I thought I had lived happened in some parallel universe that I can't access.

Plus, you know, all the pressure to be witty and cool. Not to mention interesting. I am not that interesting. I am a stay at home mom. I make play dough and wipe butts for crying out loud. And all those people with like, 457 friends. Seriously??? How? When does anybody have the time for 457 friends? I don't have enough time to talk to the people I really love, like my long suffering sister in Austria who probably thinks I don't love or miss her because the 6 hour time change is proving too much for me to master. Annabel my love, you would be wrong. I desperately love and miss you and it turns out this whole "you guys being away for a year" thing totally sucks for me. I am not making out well in this deal. You guys are off having fun and being all adorable posing next to castles and I am stuck here missing you.

Anyway, for a dedicated procrastinator like myself, Facebook is akin to a curse sent forth from the gates of hell itself. I am so not going to get things done that need doing now. Somebody please tell me the novelty wears off.

On the bright side, turns out my older brother and his wife, who live in Australia, are on there, so that was kind of a nice surprise. Hey James!

On an adoption note, I have a good friend who just returned from Cambodia with her adorable doctor husband where they spent a few weeks doing good deeds for the people over there who need good deeds done for them, namely almost everybody. While there, they evidently fell in love with an orphan they desperately want to adopt, but, as most of my friends in the adoption world know, Cambodia is closed to American adoptions. There was fraud see, lots and lots of fraud and people trying to make money off the selling of babies and Cambodia closed their doors. The problem with that is that there were also good people trying to help kids with no homes and get children out of institutions and into homes who have never known what family is. There are always good, dedicated people in the adoption world working diligently next to the crooks trying to make a quick buck, and it's not fair to the kids or the people who truly care that everybody gets lumped together.

I have no idea what to tell this lovely young couple other than, don't get your hopes up too high. Try every avenue you can think of, but the answer will probably be "no."

I have seen so much heartache caused by the closing of programs, the slowing of programs and the whims of bureaucrats. I have never, however, had to counsel someone who wants to adopt a child from a country that has a closed program and they know that program is closed from the onset. This is a new one for me. If anybody has any ideas, feel free to pass them on.

And on a final note. I welcome, wholeheartedly, comments that disagree with me and my posts as long as they are as respectfully written as Corinne's. I have absolutely no problem with people thinking I am full of it, I probably am, and feel free to voice that in the comments. I will not respond to the comments most of the time because this blog is mostly a writing exercise for me as well as a place to get down my thoughts, so I don't feel it needs defending. I love that so many of you are checking in though, especially those of you who disagree with me on religion and politics (again, screaming liberal here) so please sit back and make yourselves comfy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Calling someone a cheeseburger does not make it so.

So, this headline was, of course, the first thing my eye was drawn to this morning. And I must say I am fully on the side of the Jews here. Baptising dead people is just plain rude. The Holocaust wasn't horrifying enough, now people who died because they were Jewish, aren't even Jewish anymore? Can you also make them not dead? And, I am pretty sure it wouldn't work anyway, because doesn't the baptisee (new word! made it up myself!) has to actually believe in said religion in order for the baptism to take. For example, they could baptise me all they want, but since I don't believe in God, it would pretty much be a waste of their, and more importantly my, time. Perhaps I should offer myself up as a potential victim, I mean baptisee. If you leave one deceased Jew alone, you may baptise me. How's that?

Now, I have nothing against people who are devout. There are a lot of religious people in the adoption world and I have some lovely friends who pray for me and my family (which I kind of love, I have to admit. Holding people in your thoughts is a powerful and loving thing to do.), but never once (to my knowledge) has one of them tried to convert me or baptise via e-mail. And I don't spew my heathen philosophies all over their in-boxes or down the phone lines either. It's called common courtesy.
The Mormons call this harrassment of the dead "posthumous baptism by proxy." I personally think that anything done by proxy leaves a giant loophole and quite a bit open to interpretation. For instance how can they be sure it worked? What if there was a misspelled name and the person they think they baptised doesn't actually exist? What happens to that baptism that is free-floating in the ether? Could it randomly crash into some unsuspecting Buddhist? It is all very confusing and not a little annoying.

Cute woodworker husband had the inspired thought that gays and lesbians should mentally sleep with the Mormons doing the baptisms, thereby making them gay. They could call it "fantasy gay-making by proxy." It would solve the whole Proposition 8 fiasco in California. If all of a sudden a bunch of Mormons who voted for Prop 8 woke up tomorrow and found they had been made gay (by proxy), they might rethink their stance on gay marriage. Or maybe not. You have to admit, it makes about as much sense as the baptisms.

On the kid front, Noah is teething, which means he cannot be put down. Ever. This is not one of my favorite stages, but I know it will pass. In a few years when the last of his baby teeth come in. Ugh.

The big kids are great. They ran screaming outside this morning to build a snow-fort with the millimeter of snow that had fallen. Optimistic little buggers aren't they? Below are some Halloween pics including one of Noah that is my revenge for how sore and lopsided my left side feels from carrying him. He actually had 2 costumes, but I can't find the ones of him as a cow (Kai was the cowboy, Noah the sole member of his herd.) Grace was, of course, a princess. What else?
The cowboy costume was actually Zach's when he was a kid. How cool is that?

HA! Revenge is MINE! Oh, like you don't have embarrassing and mean shots of your kids. Fine, here is one of him happy.
See those two teeth? We call them twofers (get it, cause he only has 2?) and it is the fact that their buddies are coming in up top that none of us have been sleeping much this week. Somebody explain to me the biological reason that teething has to hurt?

Kai is really into painting on his face, but other than that, look at how happy and cute they are. Ahhhhhhhhh. Dumpling love.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Well, HI there! I'm new here too.

So, some of you have found me via http://www.taylorkid.com/, our adoption website, and some of you are wondering who the hell I am and why you are even here. Not sure I can answer the last part for you, but I can try to answer the first.

I am April. A chronically sleep deprived mother of 3 adorable monkey dumplings who wake up too early, never stop talking and really make me laugh. I am also the wife to one very sweet and handsome man who is deeply funny and has the added bonus of being handy. Our house is consequently in a permanent state of renovations, but since I am not a planning on entering it in Architectual Digest any time soon, it's all good. Plus, ya know, free labor and a cute guy with a tool belt. How can you go wrong?

Some things I love (in no particular order):

coffee, books, travel, knitting, sewing, cooking, baking, skiing, horses, The Obama family, hiking, Nina Simone, clean teeth, my family, clean sheets, my friends, my husbands family, swimming naked, Thanksgiving, outdoor concerts, Paris, people with funny accents, the Huffington Post, Vermont, weddings, cheese, births, birds, the ocean, snorkeling, the word "snorkeling", my town, David Sedaris, new sock wool, Christmas, the Caribbean.

Some things I hate (again, in no particular order):

cleaning, getting bumped from flights, electric stove-tops, Caillou, migraines, bigots (does it make me a bigot to hate bigots?), the politics of the far right, dropped stitches, not knowing where my car keys are, burned coffee, capers, laundry, flat tires, pimples.

My older two kids were born in the same town in the Republic of Kazakhstan and the baby is from Kyrgyzstan, 6 hours from where the other 2 were born. Yes I saw Borat. Yes I think it's hilarious but I couldn't get through the whole thing because I get really embarrassed for people and have to turn away. I couldn't even get through the Palin/Couric interview because I felt bad for Sarah Palin, and she is not someone I would normally EVER feel bad for. I am a screaming liberal, just so you know. Just in case you care.

Anyhoodle, I am in to adoption, but am an advocate for adoption reform and will post some stuff about that another day. It's a whole topic unto itself. Hell, it's a whole blog unto itself and there are blogs dedicated to the topic. I would love another baby, but it ain't gonna happen. We don't have the money or stamina for a 4th. Although that could all change. For now, we have tied the adoption tubes.

Kai, the eldest, came home in '04 at 8 1/2 months. He is sweet and smart and funny and ridiculously athletic and deeply sensitive. He is really into guns. I have given up that fight. I don't actually think he is going to shoot anyone, mostly because he hates hurting anything so much he gets hysterical when he does. He is a great big love-bug. He's 4.

This is Grace. She is amazing. She is loving and head-strong, and opinionated and sweet, and beautiful and graceful and gets really embarrassed if she thinks she has done something wrong. She has been saying "I HATE you" to me when she is mad since she was 2 years old. The teenage years are going to be long, very long with this one. However, she is also the one who tries to make everyone feel better when they are sad. We have nicknamed her "Kofi Annan" for her superior mediation skills amongst her peers. She will be ruler of the world someday. Just do what she tells you to and you'll be fine. She'll be 4 on Friday.

And this is Noah. Born at 6 weeks early at 3 1/4 lbs, he now weighs 19 lbs at 8 months old. He is super mellow and loving and has the sweetest smile. We call him "HH" for "His Holiness" because he looks like the Dalai Lama. I would not be surprised if he is the next incarnation. Basically I am expecting a bunch of Tibetan monks to show up any day now and ask to take him to a monestary. They'll have to wait. I haven't had my fill of snuggles yet. His siblings worship him and he is well situated to be the proverbial spoiled youngest child who can do no wrong. He is the third, so things are pretty laid-back in terms of his care. We feed him and give him naps, don't get me wrong, but we are not slaves to the schedule like we used to be. Thankfully, he just goes with the flow. He is AWESOME!

So, this blog will be mostly about our life, parenting, travel, crafts, adoption, basically whatever I feel like writing about on any given day. I will attempt to load all of www.taylorkid.com onto this blog and archive it, but that could take me a while. In the meantime, if you are curious about our actual adoption process, you can still head over there and check it out.

Welcome! I will start adding new posts later today.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Testing. Is this thing on?

Moving from website to blog. Oh joy!