Monday, March 31, 2008

Going Green

I think I'll post a weekly "being Green" on my blog. We have spent a lot of time this year trying to be more Green. I've switched over to all natural or non-toxic household cleaners. I used to be quite addicted to the Clorox wipes. They were so handy but the chemicals are not good for humans or the planet. I've read many articles and done lots of research on germs (hubby and I have a bit of the germy phobics;). Your bathroom gets just as clean without all the harsh chemicals. These are some of my favorite new cleaning products. They aren't any more expensive and they work GREAT! The laundry soap and dish washer soap is made without phosphates..which harm the water. The laundry detergent leaves your laundry room smelling of fresh cut grapefruits...yummy. The Method brand cleaners are super...I use the floor cleaner, hand soap, and multipurpose spray cleaner. I'm a cleaning freak...I love to clean...and I love these cleaners. Oh, I'm not perfect...I do occasionally do a load of wash (socks, undies, and wash clothes) with bleach. I haven't found anything that gets them as white. I have tried the powdered oxygen bleach but it just isn't the same. What have you found that's a non-toxic cleaner that you love?

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Lunch is served. Chef Busy Guy's latest creation. I never thought of fishy crackers in the toaster before?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Inspiring post

This is an amazing post! It's written by Erin, a great mom of 11 kiddos. She is the new HIV adoption coordinator for AAI. Her and her husband just brought home a precious little boy from Ethiopia. Her blog is private but if you would like to be added to her list of readers...leave me a comment and I'll let her know. Read on!

I have been thinking a lot about kids lately... kids who don't have moms (and dads)... kids waiting for moms, and what life is like for kids who do not have parents. I have been thinking about the transformation that occurs when a child realizes he has a mom, a dad, a, love and somewhere to belong.
With some of our kids, that "realization" that they have a Mom and a family, that they have someone to belong to, someone to watch over them, someone to care for them and someone to love them, has been gradual. With some of our kids, there has been this "a ha!" moment, where you could just see that they "got it".
There was baby Maggie... almost four months old... laying on the bed in our hotel in Vietnam on our first full day together (I had been visiting her for days at the hospital before this point). Before her hospitalization she had lived in a government orphanage where the babies had their names written on their legs in black magic marker so they could be told apart, and got very very little personal attention. She didn't cry when she was hungry or when she wanted something. She was quiet and tiny, but I could tell she loved being held and loved the attention I was giving her.
I walked away from the bed where she was laying to get a bottle for her, and she made this teeny tiny pitiful (feeble attempt at a) cry, and I rushed over and picked her up and offered her the bottle. She got this look of amazement on her face with a little smile that seemed to say, "Holy cow! You mean that crying thing WORKS with you??" and after that she did not want anyone but me and always wanted me close. She got it. I was there for her. I was her mom.
With Mercy, she was nine years old. She had had a mom before, who did not value or respect her role as a mom. Mercy knew neglect and abuse and loss. Despite that, she came to us with an open heart and a surprising amount of trust. At one point during our first week, Des needed her hair washed (and Mercy had been the one to care for Des up until that point, even though she was only three years older). Mercy told Des to go into the bathroom so she could wash her hair, and I gently told Mercy that I could wash Des's hair, and reminded her that that was the kind of thing a Mom should do. The social worker had warned us that "letting go" of being the caregiver of Des might be hard for Mercy and we might have some power struggles over it... but Mercy looked at me and looked at Des and looked back at me and said, "You wash all the other little kids... You would wash Des's hair too?" and I said, "Yes". And she said, "And then what would I do?" and I said, "Well, you could go play." And she looked at Des again and then back at me, and then she got this huge smile on her face, and you could almost SEE her letting go of the responsibility of caring for her little sister. She ran over and gave me a hug, and then took off to play. She got it. I was there for her and for her sister. I was their mom.
With Solomon, that moment came when we left AHOPE for the second time together. We had spent two days together, and then we had gone back to AHOPE to visit. As we walked through the gate and the kids called out his name and came running to say hi to him, he sat in my arms with huge, silent tears running down his cheeks. He would not make eye contact with anyone (including me, the kids and the nannies) and just stared ahead with this heartbreaking acceptance of the fact that he thought he was being left. Again. It hurt me so much that he had come to accept this from life... that nice people came and went, but he did not truly belong to any of them. I couldn't imagine how his little heart felt and how he had endured all that he had already. I comforted him and held him close and told him over and over again in his ear that I would never, never, never leave him.
He started to relax a little the longer we were there and I stayed with him, but he was not his usual self. And then it happened. I put him in the sling, we waved good-bye, went back out through the gate and headed back up the road towards the hotel for some lunch. He got this HUGE grin on his face, and was bouncing up and down in the sling laughing, and then grabbing my face and kissing it over and over as we walked. He was so happy and joyful. He got it. He was not going to be left again. I was HIS. He was mine. I was his Mom.
Since then I have watched him blossom with love. I have watched him learn how to expect and look forward to being held often, comforted when he cries, rocked to sleep, having his needs met, getting individual attention and being smothered in hugs and kisses often. As I crawled into bed last night, a few hours after I had put him down to sleep, his little body turned towards me, and without waking up, he put his arm on me, snuggled in close and let out a content sigh.
All kids deserve that knowledge, that peace and that comfort. All kids deserve to know that they are loved and that they belong to someone.
I believe with all my heart that our Heavenly Father did not send us down here to go at life alone, to worry about ourselves and to focus our lives on material and trivial things. I believe with all my heart that we are meant to live in families... mothers, fathers and children together, focusing our lives on loving, enjoying and serving each other.
We have several reasons to believe that Solomon most likely spent very little (if any) time with his first mother. And yet even after multiple changes in caregivers and "homes", multiple losses and lots of suffering without a mom to comfort him, he KNEW what a Mom was for from our very first days together. His heart and soul reached out to mine and grabbed on firmly. He knew that he wanted a mom. He knew that hugs, kisses and rock-a-byes were something he wanted, deserved and needed. The other kids we met in Ethiopia knew it too. They knew that they belonged with parents. They knew that something big was missing from their lives.
My heart rejoices for my kids and others that have had their lives changed so drastically...who were once alone, and now live with love, security and family. Watching Solomon over the past few weeks has reminded me of what an incredible miracle adoption is.
And at the same time, my heart aches for the so very many kids who are living life alone right now. . Even the very best orphanage is no comparison to a home and family. It is wrong that these kids must wait and yearn for a family. They deserve, as all children do, the peace and security that comes with the knowledge of knowing that they belong to someone, that they are being cared for and that they are loved.
This is why I support adoption...because I have seen the sadness in the eyes of the children who wait for moms, I have seen the amazing transformation in children once they have been "claimed" and loved, and because I believe, with all my heart, that that love and belonging is what our lives on this Earth are supposed to be about.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Last Night

On Wednesdays during Lent we attend a pre-sanctified Liturgy. It's such a beautiful and somber service. My favorite part is the prayer of St. Ephraim:

O Lord and Master of my life,Take from me the spirit of sloth, despair,lust of power and idle talk;
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages.
My hubby usually works on Wed. nights but he was off last night. It was so nice to have the whole family in church together. As I sat on the pew with Mr. P I was filled with such peace and joy watching my family participate in the service. Mr. P snuggled up to me, kissed my belly and said, "This is so awesome...I can't wait to hold the baby". After the liturgy we have a soup/bread dinner at the church. In the Orthodox church we fast before communion (for an evening service we don't eat after lunch...except little ones of course). After visiting with friends and having a bite to eat we left for home. On the way home we stopped by to see an elderly woman from our parish. We had been told that she was in the last stages of death. I was so proud of my boys. They were not afraid and so compassionate. They each went to her, rubbed her and sat with her. She reposed about 30 minutes after we left. Memory Eternal Grandma Dot.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How many of each?

Mr. P loves to count how many boys versus girls our family is going to have. He says we will have 5 boys (Tuba, himself, Busy Guy, new baby brother and Papa), and 3 girls (new baby sister, Mama....and the cat Shiloh!). I wonder if the cat will play baby dolls with us?

Monday, March 24, 2008

It's not our Easter yet

What? It's not your Easter yet? We are Orthodox Christians and we will not be celebrating Pascha (Easter) until April 26th. We are in the midst of Great Lent still. We did get together with family yesterday (nobody else in our family is Orthodox) and celebrate. The boys hunted for eggs and we had a great time catching up with hubby's family. I really like having Western and Eastern Easter dates separate. We enjoy seeing family and then during Holy Week and Pascha we spend our time at church. I will be blogging over the next weeks about what we are doing and the various services. Below is an explanation of why Western and Eastern Easter have different dates.
Western churches use the Gregorian Calendar to calculate the date of Easter and Eastern Orthodox churches use the Julian Calendar. This is partly why the dates are rarely the same.
Easter and its related holidays do not fall on a fixed date in either the Gregorian or Julian calendars, making them moveable holidays. The dates, instead, are based on a lunar calendar very similar to the Hebrew Calendar.
The Eastern Orthodox Church not only maintains the date of Easter based on the Julian Calendar which was in use during the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325 AD, but also according to the actual, astronomical full moon and the actual vernal equinox as observed along the meridian of Jerusalem. This complicates the matter, due to the inaccuracy of the Julian calendar, and the 13 days that have accrued since 325 AD. This means, in order to stay in line with the originally established (325 AD) vernal equinox, Orthodox Easter cannot be celebrated before April 3 (present day Gregorian calendar), which was March 21 in 325 AD.
Additionally, in keeping with the rule established by the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea, the Eastern Orthodox Church adhered to the tradition that Easter must always fall after the Jewish Passover, since the death, burial and Resurrection of Christ happened after the celebration of Passover. Eventually the Orthodox Church came up with an alternative to calculating Easter based on Passover, and developed a 19-year cycle, as opposed to the Western Church 84-year cycle.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Money Saver

This dresser has been around for quite a while. When I was a kid it was given to us as part of a bedroom set. My sister and mom both used the pieces. Around the time Tuba was born I got the pieces. After all that use the dresser was in need of refinishing. I measured it and called two different companies for bids. I was shocked to hear bids of $500.00-$900.00 to refinish it!!!! I would do it myself but I was afraid of the chemicals since I'm pregnant. I wasn't sure how I was going to get it done when my WONDERFUL hubby came up with a plan! He needed some paperwork/phone calls done and he was willing to trade refinishing the dresser for me doing the paperwork/phone calls! Win-Win:) The finished product looks amazingly nice. It cost about $90.00 for all the supplies...stripper, scraper, gloves, sand paper, plastic, stain, sealer, and brushes. Now we have all the things and enough stuff left over to do more projects. I spent part of the day yesterday buffing the hardward. Watching me buff brass was giving hubby terrible Army days flashbacks. I then had so much fun filling the drawers with baby clothes. One half for baby boy and one half for baby girl. I put a changing pad on top and it's all ready for sweet babies!
Here's our St. Patrick's Dinner too.
Yummy Irish Soda Bread
Table set and ready
Tuba enjoying his stew.
Our newest pet....Mocha!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Busy Guy is 2!

Busy Guy had his birthday party yesterday. What a good time. He loved all the presents, his cake and all his guests too. He requested Elmo cake and theme for his party. He's been having a great time today (his actual b-day) playing with all the new things. It's a special day for Mr. P too. It's his patron saint day. We are having a nice Irish dinner and leftover cake tonight.
Elmo Party!

Busy Guy showing his new age...2!

Opening presents and taking a break to play with them.

Blowing out the candles.

Mr. P's special gift for his special day.

My guys sharing their special day and having lunch together at Busy Guy's new table.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Guy Stuff

Papa got a new motorcycle (traded in the old one)...and ALL the boys are thrilled! Mr. P can give you a 3 minute sales pitch on the bike and all it's features and Busy Guy is going around saying, "Daddy cycle", Tuba loves it when Papa fires it up and he can honk the horn. And for those of you wondering...No, the boys do NOT get to ride on it....and YES I worry about my hubby riding it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Busy Guy Strikes Again!

I guess he's trying to tell us it's time to take the recycle out and empty the shredder? You couldn't guess that I was sitting a few feet away!

Monday, March 10, 2008

I Knew It!!!

I'm not crazy and I am tired for more reasons than being old! My Dr.'s office called this morning and I AM anemic! I knew it....if you've ever been anemic you know what it feels like. When the nurse poked my finger at the office she read the results and said I was fine? I have no idea if they run a more sophisticated test or if she read it wrong but the Dr. had her call me and to let me know it was low and he called in iron pills to the pharmacy. I can't wait to start feeling a little bit better and have more energy.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Mama's helpers

We made cookies today and Mr. P (wearing his storm trooper costume...that's the best $20.00 I've ever spent!) did all of the scooping onto the cookie sheets all by himself. I went out of the room for a minute and came back to find the job done....perfectly! Busy Guy and Tuba were the chocolate testers today...and stirring helpers too.

And....we got a height/weight update on our sweet baby girl. She weighed 7 lbs. in the beginning of Jan. and now she weighs 10 lbs. and is 22 in. long. I can't wait to see more pics of her and I REALLY can't wait to hold her in my arms!


I have never been this tired in my whole life!!! I thought for sure I was anemic so I had the Dr. test me...and I'm fine. I was telling hubby how tired I am and he replied, "well you're pregnant", No, I told him I'm way more tired than I have ever been before. His next reply was, "well, your old". What? I could pinch him! He quickly started back tracking..."I, I, mean your older than during your other pregnancies". As annoying as I thought this statement was...I think it's true. There is a huge difference in being pregnant at 26 with my first baby and being pregnant at 37 with 3 busy boys at home to care for. Last night I put the boys to bed (7:30 pm) and got in my bed to watch TV or read. This is what I do every night. In the last couple of months I have missed more of my favorite show and had to re-read portions of books because I fall asleep so early. Well, last night tops them all. I was out by 7:45 pm with the lights and TV on. I woke up at 10:00 pm and got up to turn everything off. I saw the answering machine blinking. Hubby had called and I didn't even hear it. I slept (off and on) until 6:30 this morning. It was time to get Tuba up and ready for the bus. I dragged (you'd think I'd be rested?) myself out of bed and got him ready. We sat waiting for the was 15 minutes strange? I went to the kitchen and looked at the calendar to see...there is no school today! Not only am I tired but I'm losing it:)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Busy Guy has been using his potty chair every day...multiple times a day! He loves the chair and pats it and repeats, "potty, potty seat" over and over. He hasn't done the "big job" in the potty yet...but maybe soon. He has been going so often that I thought we'd try some big boy undies. He is thrilled with them. He wore these for about 4 hours and had good success. Nothing like Shrek, Nemo and fire trucks to get the motivation going!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Portrait of Busy Guy

Mr. P has never been interested in drawing, coloring or arts and crafts of any kind. He just recently started drawing the people in his family. Here's Busy cute.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Spa Day?

Yesterday we were eating cucumbers (my latest craving). I was telling Mr. P how cucumbers can make puffy sore eyes feel better. He quickly laid down to try it out. What a ham!

Also, Tuba has been participating in a gymnastics class. The class is for kids with special needs and there are a total of 4 kids in the class. He LOVES it. They get to jump on the trampoline, swing on the bars, practice floor exercises and jump off a platform into a huge pit filled with foam blocks. The only drawback to the class is that it is Fridays at 5:00-6:00 pm. It couldn't be a worse time for us. Papa always works Fri. nights, we are all tired and it's at dinner time. But, we've made the best of it. The little boys come along with Tuba and I. I bring chips to snack on and books to read. Plus, it's so entertaining to watch all the kids spinning and jumping all over. The gym has girls ages 4-18 practicing. It's amazing to watch them! We miss dinner with Papa since he leaves before we get home. But, it's kind of nice to have an easy quick dinner when we get home. We usually have pancakes or waffles....or cereal and toast. Tuba gets great exercise, he's all red faced and sweaty and tired:)


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