Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Not Enough Time

I probably shouldn't be blogging. I have a million things to do and only one more day to get things done. My last post was a list of things that I really hoped to get done this weekend. Unfortunately, life is busy and my list is progressing slower than I had hoped. Here is what I have done the past two days.

Here is what I can check off my previous list:

1) Took the cat to the vet.

2) Completed some of my laundry.

3) Got some of the carpet shampooed.

4) Took M to the dentist.

5) Picked up the house (although you can't tell again)

6) Finished the reading for school.

Things I accomplished that weren't on the list:

1) Attended an autism training class.

2) Found Halloween costumes for the kids.

3) Picked up a new cell phone after mine began acting funny. I think it may have had a virus.

Things I hope to do tomorrow:

1) Finish my internet work that is due Thursday. I WILL be completing this no matter what it takes.

2) Going to the doctor. Not a planned appointment but nothing major. It should be quick.

3) More laundry

4) Grocery store

Of course there are more things I need to do but they may have to wait until later this week. M's social worker is stopping by tomorrow afternoon and a friend is visiting for dinner. I don't have class on Thursday so I can run a couple errands that afternoon. Whether the work gets done as soon as I would like or not, I am determined not to let it cause me too much stress or become too overwhelmed. I just have to prioritize my to-do list and get done what I can.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Do you ever get the feeling that you are overwhelmed and will never be able to catch up with all of the things that really need to get done? That is how I am feeling right now. I feel like every time I turn around there is another chore that just has to get done. I don't know if all mothers feel this way or if it is more a result of being a single mom. Either way I hope to spend my next three days off work really focusing on my to do list and see how much I can challenge myself to finish. I still have to rank and prioritize my list but here is what I hope to at least start the next three days. I will post at the end of the week how successful I am. Maybe this blog entry and public challenge is what I need to really motivate myself.

1) Take cat to the vet.
2) Shampoo carpets.
3) Clean out toys.
4) Organize and inventory winter clothes. Figure out what still fits and what can go into boxes for next summer's garage sale (it should be a big one).
5) Mow the lawn.
6) Catch up on laundry
7) Work on Dream Act
8) Finish this week's homework. I have some reading due tomorrow and internet work and assignments due on Thursday.
9) Take M to the dentist.
10) Go to the grocery store.
11) Pick up contacts.

While the list seems rather large, I have 3 days plus this evening to work on it. I think I can get most of it done if I just make the list my priority. Maybe I can even convince the kids to help with some of it. Yeah, right.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sometimes You Strike Gold

That is how I feel about Jacob's teacher. I have never seen anyone who can motivate Jacob like his beloved Ms. Jessie. Ms. Jessie has been on vacation the past few days and Jacob keeps asking when he can see her again. She returns on Monday but Jacob is convinced that day will never come. Just this morning he woke up very happy to go to school. With a smile from ear to ear he loudly proclaimed, "I get to see Ms. Jessie today!" Unfortunately that smile left when he learned she won't be there.

Jacob has been trying every thing he can think of so that she won't leave again. He told me none of the other teachers are smart enough to teach him. He stated she needs to come to school because she knows where the worksheets are.

I have never seen Jacob this excited about school. In the past, he has always preferred to stay home if given the chance. Now he asks if he can stay for at least half the day (which I require now that the school year has started) or sometimes even for nap and snack. He gets sad on Saturday mornings when he learns he won't be able to go to school for two days. He wants to do his worksheets including writing. In the past he has always complained but now he waits eagerly and wants the work challenging so he can show Ms. Jessie how smart he is.

So this mom is sending out a thank you. Ms. Jessie, thanks for being such a fantastic teacher and motivating my son. You are giving him a gift that will last a lifetime.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Is Your Child Documented?

Many of my readers have adopted their children through international adoption. Some have considered adoption and almost all probably know someone who has completed an international adoption or heard about one. For those of you who have adopted internationally, I want you to stop for a moment and think about your child. For everyone else, think about a child you know or heard about who was born in another country and later adopted. Here are some questions I want you to answer about that child.

1) Was that child younger than 16 years old when he or she joined her forever (adoptive) family?

2) Did that child have the opportunity to decide if he or she wanted to move to the United States?

3) Does that child consider his or her birth country as their home or the United States?

4) Is there anything that separates that child from other children in his or her age group culturally? Does she or he act in ways or have values that are more like his or her birth culture than American culture?

5) If your child was forced to return to his or her birth country at age 18, would he or she fit in? Would they know the culture and social cues to fit in or would they stand out as different?

According to the Immigration Policy Center, approximately 65,000 undocumented immigrants graduate from United States high schools every year. Many of these children came here before they were 16 years old and have grown up much like the children you thought about. They live with their birth families instead of adoptive families but their parents would most likely answer the above five questions just as you did for your child. They were younger that sixteen when they entered the United States, they did not have the opportunity to decide if they wanted to come, they consider the United States as their homes and may not even realize they are undocumented immigrants, they are culturally Americans and they would stand out as foreigners in their birth country despite having similar physical characteristics.

Take amount to think about the future of these children and their well-being. Then contact your Senator or Representative and urge them to support the Dream Act. You can find the bill at http://www.thomas.gov and search for the Dream Act or Senate bill S.729.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

5 things about Jacob

In honor of Jacob's 5th birthday today, I am posting five things about him. I will admit that I got this idea from other blogs I have read, mostly Erin Henderson and her blog at fullhousehandshearts.com/my_weblog.html.

1)In Jacob's words, "I really like to make people happy." Jacob will do almost anything to cheer someone on, give encouragement and make them happy. It is a trait his nannies commented on when he was still living in Ethiopia and one that he still has today.

2) He can read and do math! Well, he is beginning to read and can do simple addition and subtraction if he uses his fingers.

3) Jacob is sure God is "holding" two jobs for him. One as a fire fighter and one as a police officer.

4) Jacob's favorite sport is baseball but he is beginning to learn to love soccer also.

5) Jacob's favorite food is macaroni and cheese.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Birthday and Soccer

I only have a few moments before I have to run off to the daycare. It was a hectic morning. The boys and I actually slept until 7 which is 2 hours later than normal. We needed it but since they had to be at school by 8:15 and I had to be on the opposite side of town it meant a hurried and mad dash to get out the door. In that mad dash, Jacob forgot his blanket for naptime so I am now hurrying to get some work done before trying to get the blanket to daycare before naptime.

Due to family circumstances, the kids are allowed 2 parties. One party is with their friends and the other is family only and much more subdued. The friends party was Saturday at our local YMCA. If you have never explored a Y and have one in your area, I strongly recommend it. For only $55 we were allowed to invite 12 children for an hour of swimming and then an hour in a party room. I chose the child watch area so that the kids would have toys to play with during any down time (there really wasn't much).

We ended up having 13 children and 7 adults attend the party. The children ranged in age from 3 years old to 9 years old and everyone had a great time. Jacob, M and I found a dalmation pinata dressed like a fire dog. It had pull strings so the kids each took turns pulling ribbons. The pinata didn't work quite like it should have and the trap door didn't open when the ribbons were pulled. It was actually more fun that way since everyone got to pull at least one ribbon before I manually opened the trap door and the candy fell out. I had half a bag of candy hidden that I allowed the parents of the younger children to pick from and exchange any candy they did not want their children to have. I then placed the candy on the table and had the parents determine if their child received enough candy from the pinanta and to take what they felt their child should have. It worked really well and the kids had a great time.

M and Jacob played soccer on Sunday. It was the first game of a 6 game season. I chose a shortened season for a couple of reasons. This is the first time M has ever played on a team and he is really young (he turned 3 last May). Jacob played soccer just over a year ago and didn't like it so I wasn't convinced when he told me he likes it now.

M had the first game and it started off a little rocky. With only a half an hour nap and two very big days, M was very tired and cranky. He wasn't really sure what he was doing and didn't know the other kids on his team. He became shy and then began to cry when his coach and I told him to go out on the field. Once we convinced him to go out, he did great. He quickly began running and trying to kick the ball. He really enjoyed it when I taped him and showed him the video. He also liked looking at the pictures I took.

Jacob had a great time too. He got to start in the second game and kicked off (or whatever it's called in soccer). He managed to steal the ball away from the other team and stopped them from scoring a goal later. I was really proud of the way he was able to keep up with the other children since some of them are almost 2 years older than him (his team is 5 and 6 years old and he turns 5 tomorrow). Jacob had a great time and proved to me that he really does enjoy soccer.

The boys are back at daycare/preschool/4K today. I am hoping after going to bed a little early and sleeping in 2 hours late, they will be rested and have good days. Next weekend will be calmer and we will hopefully begin to get use to our school year routine soon.

Friday, September 17, 2010

It's almost time!

It's finally Friday and I actually have the weekend off! In the law enforcement world, it can be very rare to actually have a work week Friday on a real Friday. This is one of those rare weeks and one that I will treasure.

Jacob and M have been doing really well lately. M's behavior began regressing at the beginning of the month when the daycare was moving a bunch of children and day care was closed for four days. The change in routine and unknowns seemed to throw him off a little and he was really testing my patience. He seems to be back to his enjoyable three-year-old self again and I have really enjoyed having some extra time with him.

Jacob is extremely excited to be celebrating his birthday tomorrow and next week. His birthday party with friends is tomorrow. He chose a firefighting theme. I was able to find a cake with a firetruck picture, a dalamation pinata with a fire hat and fire badge, firetruck tablecloths and silverware and a Happy Birthday banner with a firetruck theme. There were more things such as firetruck plates and goodies for the kids but it was getting expensive and money is tight as usual. His party will be tomorrow and if blogger copperates, I will have pictures soon (I tried to upload pictures last night but couldn't get it to work).

Jacob and M both have soccer games on Sunday. It will be M's first soccer game ever and he is super excited. He has been waiting a long time to be able to play on a team like his big brother. We are also touring a dairy farm with the church before the soccer games so I expect two very tired children by Sunday night.

Monday is my third day off (I work 6 days and then get 3 days off). The boys will both be at daycare so I will be doing homework, getting new tires on the van and just trying to rest a little after the weekend. Thankfully, my dad decided he wants to visit my brother Monday evening and has volunteered to drive us to Appleton for my class. I am very grateful since I will probably be tires and want to sleep on the way home.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What A Weekend!

As many of you know, last weekend was Ethiopian New Year. It is now 2003 in Ethiopia since they follow a different calendar than we do. As part of my love for Ethiopia and commitment to teach Jacob about his birth culture and history, we celebrate the new year every year. I try to arrange for us to do something related to Ethiopia where I can teach him a little about his birth country and culture.

Saturday the boys and I went with our friends, Lana and Andrea, to the Milwaukee zoo. I hadn't been there in about three years so I decided it was time. We had a great time looking at the animals and talking about what part of the world they live in. We talked about the animals that originate in Ethiopia and a little about the land and how people interact with the animals there. Jacob enjoyed looking at the world maps and pointing out where Ethiopia and America are while I showed him where the animal we were looking at was from. It was fun to see him start to realize just how big and yet small the world really is.

Sunday we went to a gathering with the local Ethiopian community and Ethiopian adoption community. One elderly gentleman came over to say hi to Jacob and M. Jacob casually smiled, held out his hand and said hi just like he has been taught to greet adults. The man immediately got tears in his eyes as he bent down, whispered something in Amharic and gave Jacob a hug. Jacob hugged him back and thanked the man. I'm not really sure why the man was so touched by Jacob's simple gesture but I know we made his night and brought him a moment of happiness. I saw the man later just sitting and watching the children play. He didn't seem to speak much English and just enjoyed watching the children have fun. Of course, we also ate Ethiopian food which was delicious and Jacob got a chance to mingle with other Ethiopian Americans, young and old.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Preschool and 4K!

Our day care recognizes M's classroom as the first preschool class. I never really gave it much thought since Jacob spent two years in a 3 year old room and I thought of it as more of just day care than school. I guess I was wrong. Not only is it official preschool but the kids celebrated their first day at school yesterday. M walked out of his class and proudly told me that he is in preschool now and a big kid! He then showed me the big fire ball on the floor that says "Blast off to preschool!"

The first day of the school year was a hit for both kids. They got to take their new backpacks filled with school supplies and their new shirts and jackets (Lighting McQueen of course). M absolutely loves having a backpack to take to school and throws a tantrum every morning when he has to put it away in his cubby. He really just wants to carry it around with him all day.

Jacob also had a great first day. He was really nervous since all but one of his friends moved on to kindergarten. He ended up making several new friends yesterday and had a great time. He proudly showed me the painting he made with his new water colors. He was a little disappointed he didn't get homework the first day but his teacher promised to give him some next week. I really wish the homework excitement would last forever. Or at least be contagious and I could get some.

I start class again tomorrow. The last of my new textbooks are scheduled to arrive today and tomorrow. I already have readings to do before tomorrow night. I guess I know how I will be spending my quiet time after the kids go to bed tonight. Ah, another school year has begun. I am very aware that my attitude towards school will have a direct effect on how the boys view their homework and school so I will do my best to appear excited. Even when writing my fifth research paper of the year or so swamped in school work, my job and parenting that I just want to scream. The boys are watching so I will be smiling and sitting down at the table to read.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Month Of Firsts

Jacob misplaced my camera a few weeks ago. I have been hoping it will reappear but I am beginning to give up hope. My plan for tonight is to go through my bedroom again and make sure it isn't just hiding under something. If it is not found tonight, I will have to break down and buy a new one tomorrow. Why tomorrow? Because the month of September is going to have a lot of important milestones for my children and I need to have a way to record them. Here are the milestones I anticipate for each child this month.


- 1st day of 4K and what is considered "real school" in our home. It is held at the day care center but the children have a real curriculum, educational goals and homework. It is the first time that he really can't get away with missing two or thre days of school/day care a week without it affecting him academicaly.

- 6 and under soccer! He gets to play with the big kids and is very excited about it.

- 5th birthday and birthday party!


- First swimming lessons. He is finally old enough to take swimming lessons like his brother and is very excited. After having some problems with hitting other children yesterday, I reminded M that big kids don't hit and he can't take swimming lessons if he isn't nice. That was enough to stop that behavior. Or at least for a night.

- 4 and under soccer. M has spent the past 2 years watching Jacob try out different sports. Now it is his turn to be on a team. He is very excited and I am excited about watching him learn to be a member of a team.

- 1st day of church school. This may not be a big deal to everyone but it is for M. He has been waiting to be able to leave the nursery and join his brother at church school. This summer he has been attending "children's church" which is similar but not real church school. Every week he asks if it is time to go to the church school room.

With all of these exciting firsts, I must either find my camera or buy a new one. My boys are growing up and I want to capture some of it on film.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Advanced Policy Making and My Blog

I am taking a course this semester titled, Advanced Policy Making. I have been reviewing the syllabus and assignments for the semester and am excited about the curriculum. One of the assignments is weekly action on a political agenda. I'm not sure I completely understand how this assignment will work but there are several options that I can do. I can write letters to polititians, work for a candidate and make entries on a blog. That is where this blog comes in. Since I work indirectly for a polititian, I have a rule that I will not get involved in individual candidates campaigns. That doesn't mean as a normal citizen I can't or won't get involved. I just am careful about how I go about doing it.

Over the next month, I will be making occasional entries on this blog that are political in nature. The reason is to meet the criteria for my course. While the opinions will be mine, I want my readers to understand that it is for an assignment. I am hoping that some people will find the posts interesting. Other people may not enjoy the political opinions that I normally avoid on here. I am hoping that those readers will just skip the politically based posts and read the posts on my family and our adventures.

Depending on the response I get to the posts, they may or may not continue after December. If they do continue, they will be political issues that have a direct or indirect effect on my children, me and our quality of life. Some examples are child welfare issues, immigration reform and the current immigration debates effect on my family and friends and educational issues.

This is your warning that these posts are most likely coming in the near future. I hope you enjoy them.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Growing Up Fast

Jacob officially starts 4K next week. I am sad that he is growing up so fast but proud of the boy he is becoming. He told me today that he likes to try to make people happy. This is definitelly an excellent description of my Ethiopian prince. When Jacob was still living at the orphanage, he took pride in helping his nannies. He would set up the chairs every day at lunch and help get ready for meals. The first day I met him I saw the smile and pride on his little 17 month old face as he raced over to help.

As Jacob has gotten older, he has become more independant but that drive to help and be a good friend continues. Most of his friends at day care started kindergarten this week. It was a difficult week for Jacob. He is the only child in his class not starting kindergarten and he definitely feels left out. I have been really working with him to help him see that it is just as exciting that he will be in 4K even if it is still at day care and that he will make lots of new friends next week.

Jacob was able to meet up with his best friend, JE, last night. JE started kindergarten yesterday and is almost a year older than Jacob. The boys have loved each other since the first day they met in June. Not seeing JE every day is going to be tough but I have spoken to JE's mom. We have agreed to support the boys in continuing their friendship and letting them together often.

Last night I took Jacob, JE and M to McDonald's for dinner and playtime. JE's mom was there for the beginning but had to leave early when JE's sister began to feel poorly. About 30 minutes after JE's mom and sister left, I told the boys to use the bathroom and get ready to leave. Jacob started to go into the bathroom and then turned around and said something. I was sure he was talking to me and asked him to repeat himself. He stated, "Mom, this is JE and Jacob talk." Oops. Sorry. I don't want to interfere.

It was a lot of fun watching Jacob and JE play independently. I also really enjoyed listening to their conversations and was struck by how grown up they are becoming. JE was explaining to Jacob what it was like to have 2 houses and to have parents who don't live together. Jacob listened intently and they discussed their plans for future play dates and sleep overs. I am sure there will be plenty of both.

Jacob is growing up. He will be five years old in just nineteen days. I have begun making plans for his birthday party and have been contacting parents and handing out invitations. I need to get a few in the mail early next week and then decide what kind of cake to get and from where. I am also trying to come to terms with the fact that my baby is now five years old and defintely not a baby anymore. It isn't easy but much eaiser when I watch him developing close friendships, helping adults with chores and just becoming a wonderful young man and less of a baby every day.