Monday, June 29, 2009

Vacation Review

I changed my mind. I want to post a review of our weekend vacation and will post pictures later. I only have a couple of pictures. We were just too busy to take many pictures.

We left home on Wednesday afternoon about an hour after I got off work. I loaded the boys into the car, got gas, stopped at the house to get the portable DVD player that arrived that day and hit the highway. We got about two hours from home when I realized that I forgot M's blanket. M is not a child who can go without his beloved blanket for long. He won't sleep without it and will look for it if whenever he wakes up. I knew there was no way we would be able to go four days without. I began watching for places to stop and buy a new one while secrectly hoping I could convince him that a new blanket was as good as the old one.

We stopped for dinner at a rest area along the interstate. Illinois has great reast areas that are clean with picnic tables and playgrounds. The boys and I enjoyed ham and cheese sandwiches for dinner. I allowed them to play on the playground for a few minutes which seemed to help prepare them for the rest of the evenings drive.

I found a city with a Wal-Mart near the interstate and let the boys pick out new blankets. It worked! They were very excited to get new blankets to sleep with. Jacob picked out a Dora blanket while M wanted Elmo. They were the really soft blankets that are fun to snuggle up with. I was very relieved to have avoided a bedtime crisis. M seemed to relax almost as soon as he sat down with his new blanet.

We arrived at our hotel in Springfield around 8:30 PM and found our hotel room. The kids wanted to go swimming but I knew we were all just too tired. I also wanted to get up fairly early the next morning and start driving again. I promised the kids that we would swim the next afternoon. I was shocked when they agreed without even a little bit of a protest.

Thursday morning came early. We were dressed, fed and ready to leave by 7:30 AM. We drove the rest of the way to Arkansas and arrived at the hotel around 3:00 PM. Just in time for check-in. The kids were now growing impatient and kept reminding me of my promise to take them swimming. I quickly unpacked the suitcase and we all changed into our swimsuits.

The swimming pool was great. It was this neat indoor/outdoor pool. Inside the pool was 2 1/2 to 3 feet deep. Jacob could stand in it and I didn't have to worry about helping him when he didn't wear a swim vest. The outdoor part was deeper and accessible by walking under a window in the middle of the pool. It was about 100 degrees outside so perfect for sitting in a nice pool. We were able to swim for about an hour before my parents arrived and we headed out to my grandma's house. We took her to dinner before returing to the hotel to get ready for bed.

Friday was another nice relaxing day. We slept in a little later before going to a nearby park. It was nice to let the boys run around outside before the 100 degree heat returned in the afternoon. We spent about an hour at the park before heading over to Wal-Mart. Prices are lower in Arkansas then at home so I often try to buy some things while I am there. This year I bought each of the kids a new book and crayons and some diapers and shoes for M. I also forgot to pack socks for the kids so we bought a couple packages of those also.

I bribed the kids with swimming to get them to take an afternoon nap. It was a short nap since it is difficult to sleep long in an unfamiliar bed with the promise of more swimming. The kids slept for about an hour and a half before we headed off to the pool for an afternoon swim.

After swimming, we went to a buffet and met my uncle and aunt there as well as my parents and grandma. The kids were able to eat for free since they are 3 or under which made dinner a very affordable meal. The food was good and we all had a nice time. After dinner, we watched my cousin's daughter play softball and then headed back to the hotel for the night.

Saturday was a short day in Arkansas. The kids and I went to my grandma's house again in the morning. We spent time with my uncle, aunt, cousin and her family, grandma and my parents. We ate lunch together before everyone prepared to leave. Jacob, M and I left around 2:00 PM.

The boys napped in the car and we drove about 3 hours to a hotel. We arrived at the hotel around 5:30 PM and ordered a pizza. It was difficult to wait to go swimming until after dinner but we managed to do it. I don't think they ate much since they really wanted to go swimming again. Jacob suprised me by swimming the length of the pool pretty much by himself. He grabbed my hand a couple times to get a breath but never really rested on it. He has really improved over the last few months.

We swam for about two hours before deciding it was time to head upstairs to bed. We stopped for candy bars, popcorn and cookies in the lobby and to say goodnight to my parents (they had decided to stay at the same hotel on their way home.) Everyone was already beginning to get tired and M was having more trouble staying out of trouble and controlling his tempor.

Sunday morning we got up early, said goodbye to my parents and started driving again. We drove about 2 1/2 hours to the St. Louis zoo. We spent six hours there before finally leaving. The St. Louis zoo is one of my favorite zoos. I could have spent two days there easily. It is a huge zoo that is free to the public. I paid a small fee to watch the sea lion show, go to the children's zoo and ride the train around the zoo. It was a great deal and a good day.

We drove the rest of the way home that afternoon and arrived home at 10:30 last night. The kids are now exhausted. M is crying for almost no reason and just not happy. Jacob was falling asleep on a couch in his classroom when I left this morning. Hopefully, they will take good naps and catch up on sleep now that we are home again. Overall, the boys did great and we had a wonderful time. M could use a few days of quiet now and then we can get back to our normal routines. That is until our next vacation.

A Wonderful Ending

I will post a few pictures and recap the weekends vacation soon. We arrived home at about 10:30 last night and had to be up at 5 this morning. The kids are exhausted and definitelly not off to a good start today. I think it will be an early bed time the next couple of nights.

Jacob summed up our weekend well last night. We were about 30 minutes away from home and the car had grown quiet. Jacob was watching his video again for about the 1000th time. All of a sudden he stated, "Mom, I really like having fun with you." I assured him that I enjoyed having fun with him also. We arrived home and began to get ready for bed. Jacob stated again, "Mom, I had fun. I like being with you." It was fun to spend some time with the kids and I am already looking forward to our next days off together.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Preparing To Leave

We leave today! A four day weekend away from home. We will be visiting relatives in Arkansas and enjoying the same blazing humid heat we have here now. I have packed the shorts and t-shirts and am working on the swimsuits. I still have a few more things to pack. We are having a picnic dinner somewhere in central Illinois and then stopping for the night in Springfield.

Jacob, M and I got up early this morning to prepare. We started a couple loads of laundry (we need socks and shorts) and put our favorite toys in the car. Our friend Kelly was generous and loaned us her portable DVD player for the car ride so I also found our favorite DVDs. Jacob wants to rent a new one so we will probably stop at the video store on our way out of town. We also went to the grocery store and picked out some bread and juice boxes for our picnic dinner tonight and picnic lunch on Sunday. I need to get ice for the cooler and then we will be all set.

I have to work for 3 hours this afternoon before we leave. As soon as I can escape, I will rush to the daycare and get the boys. Hopefully, the car will be packed and it will be a very quick exit from the daycare center. With any luck, we will be able to leave town by 4 PM and be headed to Illinois. We probably won't be able to swim tonight but tomorrow and the next three days will include swimming and fun with family.

I plan to take a lot of pictures and hope to have some to post when we return next week. If I can figure out how to get my computer to work on wireless internet, I may be able to post while we are gone as well. It just depends on if my computer skills (or lack of them) can get the internet connection figured out.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pictures From Father's Day

I forgot to put the memory card in my camera so these are from my cell phone. Just a couple pictures from a fun evening with Uncle Chuck, Grandpa and Grandma.

Happy Father's Day To Our Male Role Models and Friends

Happy Father's Day! While there is not a dad in our immediate household, there are many men who play important parts in my children's lives. I want to take a moment to thank them.

As a single parent, I constantly worry about finding adult role models for my children besides me. Many of them are women but many are also men. My sons benefit from each and every one of these relationships. Some of the relationships are short lived and others will hopefully go on for years. All of them are important to me and to my kids.

My father plays the biggest role as a male role model in our lives. He sees the boys at least a couple times a week and plays with them. He is always willing to listen to Jacob and have "alone time" for male bonding. I am often sitting within listening distance and love overhearing their talks. They are usually about such important issues as why Jacob is mad at M that day or how Jacob is going to be like his grandpa. M also loves spending time with Grandpa and was chanting "Grandpa! Grandpa!" as we drove towards the house yesterday. Grandpa is a constant source of support for all of us.

My brother, Uncle Chuck, is also an important person in our lives. Jacob is looking forward to some promised outings with Uncle Chuck this summer. So if Uncle Chuck reads this, hopefully he will remember his promise :) We don't see Uncle Chuck nearly as often as we would like to but he is still important. Whether it be talking to him on the phone or just riding bikes with him outside, every moment is always a good one.

Our friend Jamie, who we don't see often enough, is also a good male role model. He is always there to listen to me when I am having a bad day. He plays with the boys when we do see him and is a great source of support. He is a great example to all of us as he puts his daughter's needs ahead of his own. He really is a great dad and one that my children and I can both learn from. Oh, and he is great at helping fix ceiling fans and snake toilets.

Mr. Doug is a great friend. He helped teach Jacob's church school class last year and is always ready to greet him with a smile. He even lets Jacob sit next to him before church. I hope he will consider teaching again next year.

All of the babysitters' husbands who take time to play with the kids fulfill the role as important men also. It is through their interest and actions that my children learn how fathers can play a role in a family. I know Brett is one of the biggest reasons why Jacob is now willing to be a dad and not just a grandpa.

We see men on a regular basis who are good, responsible men and teach my children how to be boys and men. Some have been coaches, others neighbors and others just people we see regularly at church. All of them help my sons learn what real men are and not just who TV and the movies say they should be. My sons don't have a man living in our home they call dad, but they do have a lot of men who love them, guide them and teach them everyday. To these men I say thank you. You will never realize how important you are to me and to my children.

Friday, June 19, 2009

We Need Sleep!

We had some severe storms come through the area last night and today. Jacob and I both woke up numerous times from the storm as well as from the weather radio sounding. It resulted in a very tired Jacob who is having a very difficult time following directions and rules tonight.

I have actually never seen Jacob behave like this. He was hitting and spitting when told it was time to leave McDonald's tonight. He refused to wear a seatbelt until I told him there was no choice and he WOULD be wearing one in his carseat. He is now in his room refusing to go to sleep. I really hope that this is just a result of not receiving nearly enough sleep last night. It better be or he really won't like me tomorrow.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Midweek Break

Jacob, M and I are enjoying the last day off this week. It finally got warm outside earlier this week and we had to put away our summer pajamas. I went to find some lightweight pajamas for Jacob and realized he didn't have any that would even come close to fitting. So, last night and today we searched for cheap summer pajamas.

We found four new pairs of pajamas that should get us through the summer months. I found fairly good prices and feel better about it knowing that M will most likely be able to wear them when Jacob outgrows them. Jacob also got a new toy from Grandpa. It is a new delivery truck from Fisher Price. The truck has the Little People theme. Michael delivers letters of the alphabet. As the child plays with the truck, the truck tells them the letter and a word that starts with it. It also sings the alphabet. I love it! I think I was more excited than they boys were although they have been playing with it non-stop since last night.

Besides looking for pajamas, Jacob and I got his haircut this morning. I won't mention how long it has been since we cut it but it had been awhile. We picked M up early from daycare and we all went to the mall for a little while. I made grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch and the boys took naps. M fought the nap idea for about an hour but he has been asleep for almost 1 1/2 hours now so I know he really needed it.

I just finished making a salad for supper and am working on laundry. I got one load folded, one in the dryer and one in the washer. I am hoping to get at least a couple more loads finished before the day is over as well as wash the boys blankets before bedtime.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Field Trip Fun

I loved seeing the tadpoles transitioning to frogs. I had seen this in textbooks but never in real life. They were so small and almost cute!

Even though Jacob was afraid of what might be hiding on the stump, we had a great time on his field trip. I love coming on these trips with him and hope I can attend more of them.

Jacob's schoool visited a nature preserve today. They had a small prairie, miniature woods and a small pond. The guide was knowledgable and I learned a lot. I am hoping the kids also learned a lot. Jacob said he liked the yellow flowers and the duck. I just loved working with the kids.

New Pictures

We made garages out of legos and mega blocks while we waited for our foster home consultant.

Jacob, M and I have also been rediscovering the joy of eating ice cream on a summer evening. We found these cotton candy push-ups at Target. The boys love them. I think they are too sweet but enjoy buying my own fudge tracks ice cream.

Some Time With M

I have been trying really hard to find a way to sneak in time with just M lately. It is more difficult to find time alone with him. He has to go to daycare everyday due to state funding rules. I don't want to hire a babysitter for just Jacob because Jacob would be very upset he can't go along.

Yesterday, I decided to sneak to the daycare an hour early and pick up M. The two of us went for ice cream and some play time at my parents' house. I thought it was a great idea. I was wrong. We did have fun but M kept asking to go get Jacob. He missed Jacob after a full day away from him and really wanted to go see him.

I do think it is important to spend time with each kid alone so I will be picking M up early again. Whether he would rather be with Jacob or not isn't the issue. I think it is important that he get one-on-one attention with me away from Jacob.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Programing

Summer is officially here. Maybe not on the calendar but at our house it is. The weather has been close to hot and very humid the past few days. The grass is growing quickly like it does at the start of every summer and the plants in the garden are getting big. The biggest sign is that Jacob and M start their summer program today.

The emphasis is no longer on learning to read and write but is now on just having fun. I actually think the kids learn just as much in a good summer program as they do during the school year at this age. Sometime before Friday, I need to pack up swimming suits and towels for the kids to use at school and find the bug spray. Sunscreen was sent a few weeks ago.

Jacob's first week of the summer program looks to be fun. He has bike day tomorrow when the Crash Helmet will be coming to visit their school. Jacob gets to take his bike and we promised to bring an extra helmet for his friend, R. She claims she doesn't have a helmet and want to ride Jacob's pink bike. Wednesday is the first field trip of the summer when the older kids go to a nature preserve. I am hoping to be able to go with them. Swimming begins on Friday.

I was able to finalize the plans to visit my relatives in Arkansas in a few weeks. It will be wonderful to see my grandmother, aunt and uncle again. The boys are just looking forward to staying in a hotel. Jacob is still talking about the friends we saw a couple weeks ago. He wants H and R to join us in Arkansas. He even prays for them nightly.

I keep thinking that maybe we should postpone our big vacation to save money. The hotels are almost all paid for already though and it really is our last chance to take our friends Jasmine and Brooke. We will just have to watch our spending while we are gone. Have sandwiches and other food we can prepare for lunch and get dinner as cheaply as possible.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Study Update and Telephones

Jacob finished the study he was involved in earlier this spring. He and I have been reading daily (or almost daily). We actually always have so this was an easy study for us to be in. A student evaluator from the university spent time the past two days testing him. She stated he is "really smart." She also stated that his vocabulary is really good for a child his age and he was able to stay on task better than a lot of kids. It made me feel good to know he is doing well. I began teaching him his address last night. He had most of it down this morning. He also showed me (on a toy phone) how to dial 911 and to tell the operator what the emergency was. I was suprised he already knew how to do that. He also told me not to call 911 unless it was an emergency. Hopefully, he will remember that and I won't have a police officer at my door next week.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Deep Conversation

Jacob and I were getting ready for bed last night when he heard the horrific story of the shooting at the US Holocaust Museum. He asked me why someone shot the police officer. I tried explaining that sometimes people don't like someone because of the color of their skin or how they believe in God and Jesus. Jacob looked sad and confused. He asked if people sometimes don't like me because of the color of my skin. I told him that yes, that does happen but in this case it was because the police officer had brown skin like him.

Jacob stated that it was bad to only look at someone's color and I told him he was right. That people should only consider if the person is nice and fun not whether they look a certain way or a certain color. We went on to discuss what to do if somone said something mean about the way he looks. He agreed that he should tell a teacher or me and then find someone nice to play with.

The whole conversation left me sad. Sad that we live in a world where I have to prepare my son for the comments I know he will hear someday. For comments made only because his skin has more pigmentation than mine and not because of the type of person he is inside. I was sad for the things M may hear someday because his family is multi-racial and multi-cultural. I was also sad that a three-year-old boy was left wondering why that bad man shot someone just because he had skin like his.

I love the different colors and cultures that make up my family. We get to explore many different cultures within our family and within our friends. I wouldn't trade any of it for anything and I hope my children also grow up to celebrate our family's uniqueness. I also hope I will live to see the day when my children don't have to worry about teaching their children about racism and hatred. Instead, it will just be something covered in history books. Ahh, that will be a great day.

For now, I take comfort in knowing my son loves his brown skin and Ethiopian culture. He is proud of his birth country and his family today. He loves his brother, M. Whether M stays or not, he will always be a member of this family and Jacob's first American brother. Despite their skin colors, they share a lot in common. Starting with their love for eachother and their love for our family.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Jasmine Is 16!

I met Jasmine almost nine years ago. It doesn't seem possible that it has been that long but the math tells me it is. I was honored to be able to spend part of Jasmine's 16th birthday with her today. She has grown up and is now a young woman preparing for her last two years of high school and thinking about what colleges she wants to apply for. I feel both proud of all of her accomplishments and of the young woman she is and also sad that she has grown up so quickly.

Nine years ago, I decided to call Big Brothers/Big Sisters and ask to become a mentor. I never dreamed how that decision would affect the rest of my life. I filled out the application and anxiously waited for a case manager to call. A few weeks later, I was scheduled to attend an orientation class where I was told what to expect. The average match lasts approximately two years and often ends when the mentor or the child moves away. The mentor must commit to one year. They spoke about how the children came from single parent households and that many had suffered quite a bit of disappointment in their short lives. The children needed an adult mentor who they could learn to trust and that would be a constant part of their lives. They also gave us statistics that I no longer remember the exact numbers. They spoke of how the child would be less likely to join a gang, commit crimes, drop out of high school and abuse drugs and alcohol.

I left that meeting feeling very excited. A short time later, my new case manager called me and asked if I would look at some children's files. We agreed to a meeting and she showed me the summaries and pictures of two little girls. She stated the first little girl had moved a lot as a child and her mother had a history of being very inconsistent in her commitments. The child was a sweet girl whose last match had ended when the mother abruptly moved the child to another state. They were back and looking to join the program again.

The second little girl was seven years old with a very sweet smile. She had recently broken her arm roller skating. She was a quiet girl but cold be difficult to work with. Her mom was responsible and worked full-time trying to support five children in the home. Her last match had ended abruptly when her mentor became pregnant and just quit the program. The little girl was very disappointed and might have a difficult time trusting me right away.

I took the second child. Her name was Jasmine and I anxiously waited to meet her. About a week later, I was told that she had moved to a different part of the city that would take longer to drive to. I stated it wasn't a problem and a meeting was scheduled.

I met Jasmine on September 11, 2000. The rest is history. Jasmine was that sweet child. She was also very quiet. I took her for ice cream that first evening and we just got to know eachother a little better. We have been there for each other since then. She has taught me as much or more than I have taught her.

When I met Jasmine, I was attending technical college attempting to get my associate degree in police science. I was working Jasmine was preparing to enter second grade and struggling with school. As the years have gone by a lot has changed. Jasmine now excells at school and is preparing to begin her junior year of high school next year. She was there when I graduated from the technical school as well as the four year school. She looked at houses with me and celebrated when I finally had an offer accepted on one. She listened to me and followed along as I went through the adoption journey to bring home Jacob. She was one of the first people to meet him as well as spending time with the foster children that followed. She will graduate high school the same year I finish my graduate degree and has already seen the campus I will attend classes at.

Jasmine has become a member of this family and a very welcome one. Yes, there have been challenges and we have both gone through difficult phases. We never gave up on each other and that seems to be the secret. There have been times that she has made me angry and frustrated and I am sure I have done the same to her. We continued to meet though and worked through our differences and phases. That is what makes any relationship worthwhile. I can honestly say that I love Jasmine like I love my other children and I have high hopes for her future. She is a smart young lady who has a very bright future ahead of her. I hope she will allow me to continue to be a part of it for years to come.

Jasmine, happy birthday. I am proud of you and so thankful I have had the chance to get to know you. Thank you for all you have given me and for what you will give me. Jacob and M love you and so do I.

More Recent Pictures.

Here are some recent pictures of Jacob. We really haven't done much exciting the past couple of days. Church was pretty much uneventful yesterday. We went to my parents house last night and were surprised to see my brother there. It is always great when Uncle Chuck has time to spend with us.

It is raining today so we are stuck indoors. It is actually the first quiet day we have had in awhile. We will probably go to Grandma's church later this morning and then just hang out at home. I have laundry to do and we can all use a quiet day at home.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

School Debate

It is that time of year again. Trying to figure out what to do with Jacob for next year. So here is my dilemma. Jacob will not be old enough to start kindergarten for two more years. He will have to repeat a year of preschool at some point. I have already decided that I will not have him tested next year to try to get him in early. It just doesn't make sense when he can fit in with the kids in his grade level and age group. The dilemma is only which year to repeat.

Last year, I had a similar discussion with his classroom teacher and we decided to leave him in the 2 1/2 to 3 year old room this year. That seemed great but then he had a huge developmental spurt towards the end of summer. He was suddenly becoming a behavior problem because he knew the curriculum the teacher was going through and was bored.

About six weeks into the school year, I had a discussion with the daycare director. I explained that I really believed he needed to be moved up to the three year old preschool room. I explained that when we discussed his classroom assignment in May, it seemed like a good decision. It no longer did as he had grown over the summer and was now bored. She agreed to try him in the older classroom. It turned out to be a good fit. He was challenged but did fine.

Now we are at about the same place we were last year. Academically, he is somewhere between the four year olds and the younger three year olds. He has good friends in both classrooms. He is also showing signs the past few weeks of being on the verge of another huge growth spurt developmentally. He can spell his first name, write some of the letters, spell his last name and is beginning to learn his phone number. He is also growing physically in the huge leaps I saw at this time last year. It seems his body is timed to do most of it's growing and developing in the summer and fall months.

So here is where the dilemma lies. I know the daycare will do whatever I tell them to do no matter what their opinion is. I'm the mom and I get the deciding vote. I just don't know which vote that should be.

The school is suggesting that I leave him in the 3 year old preschool room for 1-2 months next fall and then evaluate him. That makes me nervous because he will not be able to settle into the routine when the other kids do. They also have some concerns that he will advance quickly at the beginning of the school year but aren't sure he is ready for four-year-old preschool now. The kids do a lot of writing worksheets and even write in journals. I'm not sure what that looks like but know that he isn't ready to start writing words yet.

I am leaning towards planning to allow him to stay in his current classroom next year. There will be a couple other kids staying and he really likes some of the kids moving up to that room. I would tell the director that I reserve the right to change the decision in August if he continues to make huge gains over the summer months. That would give me some time to think about it and watch him over the summer. If he suddenly advances like he did last year, I can tell them to move him. If not, he can try the three year old room out. If he is bored, then we can move him then.

These are the parenting decisions that keep me up at night. I don't worry about behavioral issues as I know I can help any kid through them. I don't worry about medical issues because I trust the doctors and I can't control those things as much anyway. It is the educational decisions that worry me most. I don't want to set him up to struggle or have him bored so that he no longer likes school. I have a feeling these issues will be keeping me up at night for years to come.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Minnesota Trip

Scroll down to see pictures from the trip.

I just realized that I never wrote about our trip to Minnesota or why we were there. It was a great trip.

M, Jacob and I left Friday morning and drove to Minneapolis for a reunion with our Ethiopia travel group. Most of the families that travelled with me to Ehiopia attended and we were able to reunite the kids. These kids lived at the care center with Jacob and came home at the same time. It was wonderful to see how happy and healthy all of the kids were.

We arrived Friday afternoon and took some time to go swimming in the hotel pool while we waited for another family to arrive. Jacob jumped right in and began swimming. M was a little more nervous and didn't want to get in the deep water. My dad arrived at the pool and let M walk around the side of the pool and play on the steps. M enjoyed it but is definitely still very nervous in the pool. We are going to be swimming quite a bit this summer so hopefully he will feel more comfortable in deep water soon.

Saturday morning we went to the Como zoo where we met up with the other families that were able to come. The kids had a great time playing together. Most of the pictures below are from there. After the zoo, we headed over to a nearby playground where the kids could just run and play. It was about this time that M was obviously overtired and couldn't really enjoy himself. I took him for a short walk in the stroller and he fell asleep within minutes. He took about a 40 minute nap which was enough to get him through the rest of the day.

Dinner was at Fasika's. We enjoyed eating the Ethiopian food. I am always amazed watching Jacob eat injera. He asks for it everytime we eat Ethiopian and really enjoys it. Quite a change from when he was described as a picky eater in Ethiopia because he wouldn't eat injera. I guess the taste grew on him as well as me.

Sunday morning Jacob and M played with a few of the kids before we headed off to Mall of America. I was hoping to meet up with one of the families there but it didn't work out. Jacob, M and I had fun shopping at the Disney store and buying a couple toys as well as some new shirts. Jacob loves Mickey Mouse but it can be hard to find Mickey t-shirts here.

We got back home Sunday evening in time to see Uncle Chuck and have dinner with Grandma and Grandpa. Then it was home and to bed. We were exhausted but had a really great time. There is talk of getting together again next year and I hope we are able to.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pictures From Minnesota

A Picture of M and Jacob at the hotel

Unfortunately, I still can't post M's face. I was excited to post this one even though you can't really see him. He is under the green blanket. Both boys were very tired and fell asleep quickly at the hotel.

Busy, Busy, Busy

That is our theme lately. While I would love to just have some quiet time at home, it just isn't the best choice lately. That also means that I haven't had a chance to post pictures from the past few days. I will soon including some great pictures from our trip to Minneapolis last weekend. I just need to have a little time at home when I am not cooking, doing laundry or sleeping.

On Monday I played softball and lost. It was still a fun game. We actually did well except for one inning when we couldn't get an out to save our lives. I will accept one bad inning though.

On Tuesday, we drove to Appleton and met a very nice woman and her young daughter. Nicole has volunteered to babysit the boys while I attend classes this fall. I did the obligatory background check on her and then spent some time with her Tuesday evening. It seems like it will be a great fit. She has three children ages 1, 5 and 8. M and Jacob will fit in nicely with some older kids to look up to and a younger one to just play with.

I got lost on the way home due to trying to take a "short cut" after missing an exit. I am just familiar enough with that area to know feel comfortable enough to get really lost. My short cut was a highway that should have run to a city about 45 minutes from home. The highway turned out to be closed and detoured about 30 minutes south. The detour ended about 30 minutes from where I missed the exit. The only problem was that it was an hour and a half after I missed the exit. So, we were a little late getting home and another night with not enough sleep.

Last night, the boys had a difficult time listening. They ended up losing their swimming privileges. I still allowed Jacob to attend his lesson but he wasn't allowed free swim afterwards. M had to go to the nursery instead of swimming which did not make him happy. Hopefully, next week the boys will not be as tired and will be able to keep their swimming privileges. We arrived home a little early but with all of the activities and late nights, we went to bed a few minutes earlier than normal.

Tonight we are interviewing another babysitter. This one lives near our home and will watch the boys on the weekends I work. The weekend sitter we have now will still watch them occassionally but she only wants about one weekend a month so I needed to find someone for the other weekends (about 2). Since this sitter lives near us, we should be home early enough to catch up on some laundry and maybe even mow the backyard. Otherwise, we are busy for the next two days and I won't get much done until Sunday. Thankfully, the new housekeeper is working out great and the house is pretty much clean.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why Don't You Look Like Your Brother?

My cousin adopted her daughter from foster care about 7 years ago. When the little girl was in preschool, another child asked her why she didn't look like her mom and sister. My cousin then told her she was adopted.

Jacob has always known he was adopted and we talk openly about how we are different. We have discussed everything from how our eyes are the same color to the different skin colors and tones and why he uses olive oil in his hair while M needs special lotions. We don't really discuss it in terms of race but rather just in the way people are different. Of course, there are times when we discuss race but it is not nearly as often as just why we are different and how we are different.

While attending a reunion with other families in our Ehtiopian travel group, I was reminded of the conversation my cousin had with her daughter a few years ago. While Jacob goes to a very diverse daycare, most of the kids look like their siblings and only a few come from multi-racial families and backgrounds.

On the way home, I decided to ask Jacob about this. Here is the conversation we had.

Mommy: Jacob, do kids at school ever ask you why you don't look like M?

Jacob: Yes. Sometimes.

Mommy: What do you tell them?

Jacob: What?

Mommy: What do you tell the kids when they ask why you don't look like your brother?

Jacob: Because I'm Jacob.

Mommy: Oh. So you tell them you look like Jacob and that's why you don't look like M.

Jacob: Yes.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Welcome June!

It is finally June. The beginning of Summer is here. Jacob and M begin their summer programs in daycare in two weeks. I have parent/teacher conferences today and Thursday to wrap up the school year for the boys. I never realized how much evaluation and information the teachers at the daycare can give me about my boys.

This summer looks to be very promising. After spending the weekend with the kids, I realized how far the boys have come in the past few weeks. M is displaying much better behavior at home. He is still struggling with bedtime and with his behaviors at school but I do believe those areas will see improvement soon.

This summer I am committed to having relaxing evenings with my kids and not overscheduling us. I always want to be busy and schedule lots of activities. That is just my personality. I have learned lately that it can also be very nice to just hang out at home and have been looking forward to those evenings. Instead of looking forward to big exciting adventures, I am hoping to have more walks around the neighborhood and trips to the park. I want to get my grill out more often and just enjoy exploring the nature around the yard and neighborhood.

M did really well sleeping in the hotel so I am considering trying camping once or twice this summer. I have a couple friends who want to go and Jacob really wants to go. I plan to find a site near our home so that we can come back early if necessary but also hope to stay at the site for a couple of days. We also have trips to visit relatives in June and August so that will take up some of the summer.

M has discovered that he really enjoys swimming and Jacob is a little fish who scares me to death. We will definitely be spending time at the lake and at the swimming pool as well.

We had a wonderful weekend and I am looking forward to posting pictures of it soon. For now, I am just relaxing and looking forward to more fun this summer.