Time needs to stop flying by. Sabrina finished 1st grade. Tessa perhaps finished preschool…I’m still not sure yet. On the left is the 2 of them on the first day of school in August 2012. In the middle and right are the last days of school yesterday (Sabrina) and today (Tessa). Not a huge difference but both definitely are a bit taller and lost a little more of the round baby-ness in their faces.
We’ve got all sorts of projects going on at Chez Smiles. First, I have been searching for chairs to go in our eat in area for 2 years. I finally found 6 at a reasonable price. Now to paint them. I’ve been wanting to play with chalk paint so I bought a super ugly, super cheap end table (soon to be bedside table) to practice with it on. I love the way it turned out but I will admit it was way more work than I was anticipating. First comes paint, then sanding to distress it a bit, then clear wax, then some steel wool, then some more clear wax, then some dark wax to age it some more, then some more clear wax. The 6 chairs will likely take me six months. Here is the before and after of my $8 side table. For my first attempt, I am pretty pleased. Let’s hope the chairs turn out well.
Last year, I blogged a bit about our CSA experience. We loved it. It changed the way we eat and the way I cook. I found ways to incorporate vegetables that I never dreamed of – and I learned that a lot of things I thought I didn’t like just hadn’t been cooked well when I tried it. We were going to do it again because it was such a fun experience. But after some discussion, we decided to try something different this year. There was some waste with the CSA either because it was something we never learned to like (beets for me…some greens for all of us) or because of an over abundance of 1 item (can only eat so many kohlrabi or because of just an overabundance (another box before we were done with the previous week’s box). This year we decided to set aside the same amount we spent on the CSA each week and spend it on local foods at local farmers markets. That way we can tailor it to what we want and need. We also decided to plant a garden. That means as the summer goes on, we can spend less on veggies and more on dairy and meat. We are doing square foot gardening and have planted two 4′ x 4′ raised beds. I am skeptical about growing so many things in such a small space but am excited to see how it turns out. We’ve planted tomatoes, peppers, onions, herbs, pumpkins (the small pie variety), baby watermelon, cantaloupe, green beans, carrots, and lettuce. The gardening has made me think so much of my dad. First because he would be shocked to see me planning to eat so many veggies. Second because he gardened (which I hated as a kid – forced to weed in the heat and bugs but didn’t like anything that came out of it) and took pride in trying to have the first red tomatoes in the county every year.
The past month has been filled with birthday parties. Sabrina got to go to another horse riding party. Lucky kids! I never got to do cool stuff that like as a kid.
I’ve also been agonizing over some art pieces I was working on. A friend asked me to do 3 canvases her daughter’s nursery. She showed me her nursery and just said have at it. For whatever reason, this completely made my brain freeze. The canvases were bigger than I have done in the past. I had no idea what would make her happy. I wanted them to look nice together but not to be 1 connected scene. It took me months of starting and stopping to get these done. I learned that I either need to just do canvases and THEN let people buy them so that I know they like them or I need to just get out of my head and just do it. Because there was no reason for that to take so long and to paralyze me that way. Rather ridiculous. But, in the end, I was happy with what I did. And so was my friend.
I have this person at the grocery store that I think of as my Newman/arch-nemesis. He is a 20-something guy who mans the self checkouts. I cringe every time I see him there and consider waiting in line for regular register. I’ve had numerous issues with him – the take away being that he just isn’t the brightest/fastest/most aware human being.
We have a mutual dislike which I will admit I am responsible for. Shortly after we moved to this little town, we were walking through the produce department. Sabrina was pretty young. He walked up to us and said “Where did you get her?” I was in a mood (I think I was pregnant and therefore perma-cranky) so I didn’t respond in a kind way. I said something snarky like “Wal-Mart.” He took a minute to figure out my response and then said he was only asking because he was adopted (he looks Korean or Vietnamese…I’m not good at telling Asian heritage). I immediately felt like an ass. I apologized and told him I was just crabby. Then much more pleasantly answered his questions. Obviously, not a good start to our relationship. Over the years, I have gotten irritated with him repeatedly for not paying attention, walking away, having a bad attitude, and generally sucking at manning the self check out. He has not been a fan of mine since our first interaction and I can’t blame him.
He sealed my dislike of him during The Yogurt Incident. It was marked on sale. It didn’t ring up on sale. He very grudgingly went to check on it (there was a large price difference or I wouldn’t have made a big deal). After taking his sweet time, he finally returned and said the sale signs had been incorrectly left up (this was 3 days after the sale would have ended) so he guessed he would give me the sale price. I thanked him. Then he revealed how horribly our education system is failing our youth because he had to figure out what to charge me per item because the sign said 4 for $2. He got out his calculator. Then he got very confused because his calculator told him they should be $2 each. I then had to explain to him that they were $.50 each. He never looked convinced that I wasn’t scamming him. I was sad that he couldn’t figure out the cost of each yogurt in his head or with his calculator but my dislike was sealed by his surly attitude through the whole interaction.
Every time I see him at the registers I mutter “Newman” under my breath. I really need to get a life instead of creating feuds in my head. He gives my children copious amounts of “I’ve been Krogering” stickers so that there is no surface in my car or home that doesn’t have a sticker on it at all times as payback. Well played checkout guy. Well played.
So. This happened today.
How is that possible when just last week she looked like this?
We put a deposit on her preschool seat for next year in case we feel she isn’t ready by the end of summer. But can we use it if I’m not ready? I’m not ready to give her up to the world yet. I’m not ready to lose my snuggle bug. I’m not ready to admit all of the baby is gone from her now. One more year of hanging out with her on Tuesdays and Thursdays would make me very happy. Why do they grow so damn fast?
Look who joined the ranks of those riding big girl bikes.
Finally got that Christmas bike put together. And she is almost too tall for it already. That will teach me for waiting so long to get her a big girl bike…and daddy for taking so long to put it together. (Yes, her helmet is really loose here. I fixed it after the photo.)
Soon she will likely inherit Sabrina’s. Sabrina’s legs are getting long enough that she’ll need a new one by next Christmas.
Sigh. More proof that they keep growing up. Make it stop.
Steve is passionate about teaching the next generation to code and program computers. He feels it is a teachable skill greatly lacking in all educational arenas. He is currently working with a local school that has started with the express purpose of providing these skills to young adults so that they can be employable in a lucrative, secure career.
He also wants to see if our girls have any aptitude or interest in his field. He recently attended a conference and received a Raspberry Pi. He had talked about getting one for Sabrina so he was excited to bring it home. He has been teaching her some basic coding with a program called Scratch which is meant to help kids learn a little bit about coding. I’m quite certain my 6 year old now knows more about computer coding than I do.
I was going through some old draft posts. I wrote this one on August 6th, 2008 when Tessa was 8 days old. It struck a chord with me because I’ve been asked recently how it was different. It being adoption vs biological child. The post must not have been finished but I present it as I found it. I thought I would share.
One nurse in the hospital made the joke that makes all adoptive parents cringe “So you did it the easy way the first time, huh?” Anyone who has adopted knows there is nothing easy about it. And those who have children the traditional way know that pregnancy isn’t always easy. In my mind, it is apples and oranges. One was one of the most emotionally taxing things I’ve ever experienced and the other was full of physical discomfort and uncertainty. But both produced miracles – my daughters.
The flood of post partum hormones has surprised me. I don’t know why. I knew it was part of the package. I’ve worried about post partum depression. Steve has done some reading and marveled at the chemical changes documented in the post partum brain (told you he is a geek). But despite the knowledge, the sudden tears and overwhelming emotions I’ve experienced since having Tessa have caught me by surprise. Thankfully, the majority of my emotions are sappy, happy, and awe filled rather than anything depressive. But all of this emotion has lead me to feel guilty at how different this experience is from my first week with Sabrina. For some reason, I feel like the experiences should feel more alike to reinforce the fact that I love my adopted child every bit as much as my biological child…and in fact don’t think of them in those terms at all. They are my children. Period.
But despite loving each with my whole heart, this first week with Tessa has been a completely different experience than my first week with Sabrina. Our first week with Sabrina was when she was 3 months old. We visited for a week in Guatemala. I felt incredible love for her but I also felt fear (that the adoption could fail) and uncertainty (did she like being rocked like this) and clumsy (I didn’t know how to comfort her). I felt rather fraudulent declaring myself her mother and her my daughter. I loved her from the minute I saw her photo but I didn’t feel like her mom until I earned it – meaning had her in my care for good and stopped feeling like I was playing house with her. I sobbed for her, ached for her, worried about her, longed for her but the throw-myself-in-front-of-a-speeding bus to protect her love took a little time to develop. It was fast once I moved to Guatemala but it wasn’t instantaneous.
Before I had Tessa, I was a little concerned about loving another child as much as I love Sabrina. I just couldn’t imagine it was possible. I anticipated it would take some time with Tessa as well. I thought I would be so tired and so busy that logistics would keep me going until that fierce momma love kicked in. That wasn’t the case at all. The second I heard her cry and then saw her face, I was lost. I look at her eating or sleeping on my chest and I cry because of the overwhelming love I feel for this child. I am awed by the miracle that we created. I suddenly get why people love newborns (I’ve never been a fan). I won’t go into the ride home from the hospital but suffice it to say the level of protectiveness from both Steve and I was bordering on absurd.
For the first official day of spring break, we had snow. In Tennessee. Weird. I am usually trying to talk myself out of putting away the coats and sweaters at this point each year. With no regard for weather, the girls and on put on our springy pink best and headed to the city for Pinkalicious The Musical.
I’ll admit I was a bit leery. The last time I took the girls to a show by myself it was a disaster. Disney on Ice – the happiest place on Earth on ice and Tessa made my cry. In my (and her) defense, it was while Steve was living in Pittsburgh and I was an emotional mess that summer. She was just too young to sit still that long. It was almost 2 years ago but I still so vividly remember the overwhelmed feeling that I almost didn’t buy the tickets. Poor Tessa – her momma’s memory is long. (I really wanted to take just Sabrina to see The Lion King but holy moly those were some ridiculously expensive tickets…the children’s theater was much more reasonable.)
Fortunately, this was a much better experience. Tessa was enchanted by the play. The length was perfect – she was just starting to get a little antsy as it ended. Sabrina loved it too. I would love to be able to expose them to more plays and shows but it is going to require planning and a line item in the budget. I’m thinking of taking them to a high school production of Cinderella next week since that is uber-affordable. Production quality isn’t really an issue for a 4 and 6 year old, right?
How do you find affordable ways to expose your kids to the performing arts? Is it a priority for your family?
Don’t get me wrong. I love me some sweet treats. I’m all about chocolate. And ice cream is a food group in my world. Sometimes fruity skittles turn my crank. All things in moderation – yada yada. I loved this blog post about taking the holidays down a notch. I totally agree. I saw someone on facebook asking how to make St. Patrick’s day more special for her (Guatemalan) children. She had never made a big deal out of it before but everyone else was so she wanted to do it for her children too.
My poor kids. We have a few special traditions. I do the damn elf at Christmas. (I hate that elf…it doesn’t help modify their behavior. It only modifies mine as I wake up in a cold sweat at 3am with the realization that I forgot to move the damned thing again.) I made an advent tree that we put up and enjoy every year. Ummm…that might be where it ends. I don’t decorate for any holiday that doesn’t end in -mas. I don’t go over the top for anything. The bar is very, very low in our house.
But many of my fellow moms don’t share my lazy, low bar setting tendencies. Every freaking holiday and psuedo-holiday results in candy. Look at this:
The pottery bowl on the left is full of left over Halloween and Christmas candy (after them eating some and me throwing a decent amount away). The bowl on the left is Valentine’s Day candy and the felt basket is half full from my youngest’s egg hunt at pre-school. I remember it being a big damn deal when someone included a lollipop in a Valentine card back when I was covering a shoe box with tin foil. It was rare and quite exciting. Now almost every Valentine includes a candy treat. A few were tattoos instead but most were candy. I’m guilty – my girls picked out Valentine’s with candy this year. Last year, Tessa gave out tattoos and Sabrina gave out Hello Kitty magnets but this year they wanted to choose.
Treats have stopped being treats. There was rarely candy in my house growing up. Easter and Halloween was it. Otherwise, there was a dearth of chocolate. I feel like I am constantly having to be the sugar police. The girls request treats daily. I allow them what I believe is a reasonable amount of junk food (some would say none is reasonable…but having grown up with it being off limits, I have struggled my entire life with finding a balance so I am trying to teach it to my children). Part of my just wants to throw all of this away then it stops being an issue. But I have trouble throwing away food and I tend to recycle it. The Halloween and Christmas stuff will go into Easter baskets and plastic eggs. What isn’t eaten will be given out at Halloween (yes, our house might not give out the freshest candy – watch out for those taffys and tootsie rolls HA). But I am weary of all of this candy constantly coming into my house (I don’t mind some but come on – look at the volume). I am weary of telling my children no several times a day when they ask for a treat. I am sad that a sweet little Valentine isn’t enough of a token any more and everything requiring candy or even a whole treat bag.
What do you do with the piles of candy? Do you give your child(ren) free access to it just so it will be gone? Do you limit it? Do you throw it away?