Summer's End

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 No comments
As our last full week of summer vacation comes to an end, I am trying to squeeze in some of the "summer" activities with the kids that we didn't get to yet. One summer tradition for us is the zoo. We usually go multiple times in a summer but this year we didn't make it. We picked a great day to go. The zoo wasn't crowded, it was a warm summer day and we had lots of fun with one of Chloe's best pals who came along with us.

Chloe starts school after Labor Day and we are planning on having lots of fun celebrating summer's end (if Hurrican Earl doesn't spoil it for us).

Golf Fever

Sunday, August 29, 2010 No comments
"Some dude gave me a golf ball!" Chloe announced as she walked back from the 6th green. That "dude" was PGA golfer Ryan Pa*lmer. Matt and I were more impressed than she was. We carefully guarded the ball during the rest of our family outing to The Ba*rclay's golf tournament today.

Golf has been on the brain for some time now. I've been volunteering and assisting in planning for The Barclay's since April. I volunteered as a committee chairperson for the event. It turned out to be a lot more work but a lot of fun too. I volunteered last year for the tournament but only worked as a regular volunteer. This year I decided to step it up a notch and take on some planning responsibility. In doing so, I would earn my charity, the Jun*ior Le*ague, a larger donation from the tournament. And, I have to admit that I was a little proud to see my name on the big board at the tournament as a Volunteer Chairperson. Chloe was impressed, finding my name on the board and declaring me famous. Hardly, but it was cute.

We spent the day walking around, sitting in the shade and following a few of our favorites. Chloe got to play two rounds of miniature golf in the spectator village. She's convinced herself she's a scratch mini-golfer and its time she move on to "the real game" as she stated. And, she wanted to jump in feet first to the big game of golf, demanding Matt take her to get her swing analyzed while we were at the tournament. Unfortunately, the wait was 45 minutes and we knew Oliver wouldn't be patient as we waited for his sister to have her swing critiqued and edited. We got a melt down from Chloe but we were able to make her happy again with the promise of hitting golf balls some time during the next week.

Chloe is enamoured with golf now. She wants her own clubs and she wants Matt to take her to the driving range not later in the week but like right now. Oh, she also wants me to keep volunteering for the tournament so she can be a standard bearer at the tournament. I love the enthusiasm.

I wish I had photos from the day and of Chloe squeezing up to the ropes with her Daddy to view the players but, no cameras or cell phones allowed. We plan on finding Chloe some junior golf clubs this week, so I hope to get some photos of her at the driving range with Matt.

Readoption---the Not so Easy Way

Friday, August 27, 2010 2 comments
Oliver came to the U.S. on a visa that requires we re-adopt him in the U.S. and then file for his citizenship. Part of our adoption agreement with our agency was that we would re-adopt Oliver within a year of bringing him back to the U.S. It sounded reasonable and do-able.

We didn't have to re-adopt Chloe in the U.S. She came home on a different visa and was granted U.S. citizenship when she landed on U.S. soil. This readoption process is new to us but we have been told that it can be done on your own without an attorney, which is what we have opted to do.

About a month after we returned home I made some calls and found the correct agency/department in our county that handles adoptions. I was told we couldn't file to readopt Oliver until he had been home 6 months. Each state handles their re-adoption/adoption processes differently and NJ prefers a child is home 6 months before you file to adopt. It can be filed before the 6 months, but it takes several court appearances and more money and homestudies--in other words, they try to make it a pain so you don't do it before 6 months.

In July, I contacted our county surrogate's office, received the instructions and began preparing the items needed to readopt. Talk about more paperwork, more notary fees, etc. We also have to relinquish original documents from Ethiopia that we aren't willing to part with so we have to contact an attorney to certify that we made copies of original documents.

A photo of the 2 lbs. of adoption paperwork and legal filings we have to complete for Oliver's readoption.

In other words, this process isn't as cut and dry as we thought it was going to be and now I've learned that court hearing for readoption are being scheduled three-months out!! I'm kind of panicking now, worried that we won't make the 1 year cut off.

We also thought we would go ahead and readopt Chloe while we did Oliver so she could have a U.S. birth certificate. We learned that we can't readopt her in NJ because when we adopted her we lived in Texas and our homestudy agency is in Texas and in order to readopt in NJ, they must be a licensed NJ adoption agency. I'm still waiting to hear back to see if it can be done, but right now, we are proceeding with just Oliver's readoption. Can't anything be easy?

Look Who's Walking

Thursday, August 26, 2010 1 comment

and boy is he!! He started full-fledged walking while we were on vacation. He's very independent and wants to do it all on his own. Try and pick him up and interrupt the walking and you're going to get a tantrum (and you can hear the pitch in which he screams in this video--that's only an appetizer).

A local children's shoe store had a sale that began on Tuesday and we went to get Oliver his first real shoes. I think we may be banned from the store for life. By the time I made it to the register I had a scratch on my arm and my hair was disheveled. I looked good compared to the poor girl who helped fit Oliver's shoes. He wanted to cruise the store, not be held down and have some foot binders placed on his feet! He's worn Ro*beez and apart from ripping them off every chance he got he never actually walked in them. His first shoes have a flexible sole, but he doesn't like the feel. I have to keep reminding myself it's just a stage and he'll grow out of it before I know it. Until that time, I may be hiring the high school wrestling team to come and help me put his shoes and socks on. Lord grant me strength (literally).

Soiled Linens

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 No comments
A Completely Random Photo taken on vacation, but I thought it was better than the photo that should accompany this blog post--Someone really likes yogurt.

As fate would have it, the stars aligned and lady luck walked away. It began when we returned from vacation with loads of laundry to discover a broken washing machine. We made an appointment to have it repaired--first available date is this Saturday. Sensing my inability to clean soiled fabrics, my children turned on some primitive wiring in their brains and began spewing bodily fluids.  Drastic times call for drastic measures and a new repair company was called---one that handles emergencies. They arrived this morning and I greeted them covered in vomit (a gift from my son). I'm happy to report that the washer has been fixed and my children also appear to be on the mend.

I remain holed up in my basement, catching up on laundry. Oh washer, I never thought I would say it, but I missed you.

A Kneeboarding Film by Chloe

Monday, August 23, 2010 No comments
Chloe filmed Matt kneeboarding during vacation. We didn't know until we watched that she added the opening commentary.

Summer Vacation

Sunday, August 22, 2010 1 comment
We're back from vacation. We spent 11 days in the Finger Lakes of NY. We left on Thursday, August 12 and returned today. Matt had a Po*rsche club race at Watk*ins Glen the first weekend and the rest of the time we spent boating on Lake Seneca, visiting the glass museum in Cor*ning, wineries and keeping Chloe entertained (which is hard to do). Our vacation began in the rain and ended in the rain. In between the weather was beautiful.

Chloe etching a glass at the Cor*ning Glass Museum.

We camped in our RV. Two cars, two parent, two kids and two dogs and one boat. It took some driving and planning, but we managed to get all of us and our toys to the Finger Lakes. We took the boat up to a marina on Lake Seneca the Saturday before we officially went on vacation and Matt took the boat back to the marina we purchased it from in Pennsylvania this past Saturday before we left for an oil change and to store it there. That left us with the SUV pulling the RV with the dogs, kids and I in tow and Matt driving his car back home.

As I said, the first few days of vacation we spent at the famous WG race track for Matt's driving event. It was three-days of track time. The kids and I watched Matt and the other Por*sche's drive the track. We snapped lots of photos and made a few side trips to keep us entertained. Matt's Por*sche pal, Paul, stayed with us through the weekend.

Chloe, Matt & Oliver checking out the other cars.

Matt (center car) at the toe of the boot at WG.

On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday we boated on Lake Seneca. The lake is 35 miles long and has a maximum depth of 600 feet. Our boat was one of the smallest on the lake, if you could find another boat. We were surprised to find that the lake was relatively empty---we had it all to ourselves! On a busy day we might have seen 4 sailboats, the tourist boat/cruiser and maybe two other motor/ski boats. It was fantastic fun tubing and swimming (though it was shockingly cold at first) on our own private, expansive, glacially created lake!

Chillin' in the tube.

A view of the vineyards from the lake.

Oliver, probably having just thrown something important overboard into the lake. We fished out soda cans, Matt's sunglasses, numerous sippy cups (hey, he was finished!), not to mention the constant swarm of birds we had flying over the boat to scoop up discarded bagels and crackers he'd thrown overboard. Cell phones, car keys and boat keys are safely locked away when we are anchored.

Oliver, Matt and Chloe going for a chilly dip.

Matt got to perfect his kneeboarding.

We also enjoyed the usual camping traditions on this vacation--campfires, sparklers, roasted marshmallows, cookouts, etc. Chloe had great fun at the campground playground. Every kid at the campsite knew her and would call out her name to come and play. Of course, Chloe could not tell you there name. "I forgot", she would tell us. Every day Chloe would inform us of the schedule. She would politely ask us what we would like to do for the day, then she would start in with what we WOULD ACTUALLY do for the day. Each day she tried to cram a weeks worth of activities into one day. She would hit the playground at 8 a.m., be on the lake at 10:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. tubing and swimming, return to the campground at 4:30 p.m. and demand to go swimming. She would try to squeeze in a game of mini-golf before dinner, another trip to the playground before capping off the evening with a trip to the camp store for an ice cream cone. I didn't even add the walks on the hiking trail, jump pillow, bicycle rides around the fishing pond and golf-kart rides. She had a full agenda each day.

Chloe smiling in the rented golf cart that I used one day to ferrry her to her various scheduled activities and playdates at the campground.

Chloe enjoying the "pedal cars".

Oliver playing in the grass while sister hops from activity to activity.

The jump pillow.

Milestones & General Cuteness

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 2 comments
We're still anticipating when Oliver will walk on his own. Right now he cruises and takes a few steps on his own (usually when he thinks you aren't looking). We're up to 5 unaided steps!

Other important milestones at 13 months old--
  • Stranger Danger: Oliver will bury his head in my neck when someone new approaches to talk to him. Chloe missed this important milestone because she was 11 months when she left the orphanage. We had to be very cognizant of this as she grew up.
  • Not Dumping Bowls and Cups Out--it seems trivial but from a clean-up stand point its big. You can now give Oliver a bowl or cup of food or liquid and he won't just turn it over. He's learned that bowls are useful instruments better utilized in their upright positions.
  • Body parts: Oliver is starting to learn and point to body parts (eyes, nose, ears, etc.).
  • Ditching the bottle: We're working on it. Oliver is still on formula (and not milk) per doctor's orders. Right now it's sippy cups in the day and bottle at night.
Now, on to the cute photos...

Chloe working in the Le*go book we got to keep her busy on the drive to vacation.

Mr. Giggles. I joined a new gym and took Oliver to the childcare center while I worked out and explored. The ladies in the childcare center came out to tell me that Oliver was a joy to have in childcare---he's such a happy little guy.

Sister and Brother.

How Chloe's First Grade Teacher Took the Fun Out of School Supplies

Thursday, August 05, 2010 3 comments
Chloe has one more month until school begins and it may take that long to gather all her school supplies. When you have your first child in school, its a learning process. Other parents with their second and third kids in school know the drill. They know how it is done. Me? Well, I've kind of lost my mind parenting two kids. My mind is busy keeping up with snack times, nap times, swim times, volunteer times, etc. The other day I drove away with the back gate still up on my SUV. I wondered why everyone was honking---until I realized that I had a really clear view out the back window.

So, it comes as no surprise that I somehow missed the sheet of paper that supposedly came home in Chloe's backpack the last month of school where you can easily and conveniently buy all your child's school supplies and have them ready and waiting on the first day of school. Because of my apparent lack of brain power lately, I'm not going to claim it never made it in Chloe's backpack and thus never made it home, though that's what I suspect. I'm pretty certain if I saw it, I would have jumped on the opportunity.

Now, I do enjoy school supply shopping. Ever since I was a school-aged child, there was nothing more exciting than school supply shopping. I enjoyed it more than back to school clothes shopping. I can remember in high school searching for a notebook binder just like the one Molly Ring*wald had in the movie *Sixteen *Candles*. Seriously. Why would I even kid about that?

So, perhaps I did get the sheet from Chloe's school and opted not to buy the pre-packed school supplies harkening back to the good old days and excitement of shopping for new school supplies. Chloe seemed to share the excitement, asking daily when we would get her supplies (see kindergarten didn't need school supplies--we were robbed from that experience). What fun Chloe and I would have!

NOT SO. With one month to go, Chloe and I set out to buy school supplies. List in hand. We arrived at the big box store and I opened the school supply list to find a precise, specific, do not differ from this list, school supply list. It was the most specific, killjoy school supply list I had ever seen! Notebook--must be one inch and black! Folders---must be plastic, two-pocket in blue (not light blue but dark blue), orange, red and green (spring green to be exact). Its best if you buy these folders at XYZ store.

I stood in disbelief! Chloe whined she didn't like black and wanted a different color notebook! The wind was taken right out of our sails. School supply shopping was nothing to get excited about--it was tedious and boring work. We searched high and low in the big box store for the specific, name-brand supplies the teacher wanted. We had been clearly warned in the letter not to deviate---we don't want some children to have the glue sticks that go on blue and dry clear, we want them to have the .77 oz. glue sticks that go on purple and dry clear and are washable. If you deviate from these instructions you will be given the worst possible position on the PTA, cause complete chaos in the the classroom and the teacher will wish a plague upon your household.

Three stores later and the school supply shopping is not complete. Its become a chore. A chore I am bitter about completing. I had to get on the computer this morning to Goo*gle what a large Magic* R*ub eraser  looked like. Apparently the pink ones won't do, it must be a special art eraser of high quality that is nearly impossible to find in any common retailer. Oh, and you have to buy a package of three!

I took the kids to the park the other day and ran into a friend, who also has a daughter the same age at Chloe's school. She's in the know--this isn't her first child in school. I lamented on the school-supply list and its specificity. "Oh my goodness!" she exclaimed. "You're not trying to go it alone are you?" she shrieked, grabbing another friend nearby to share the shocking news. "Shannon, didn't buy the pre-packed school supplies for Chloe and is having to search for the supplies on her own"! The park fell into a hushed silence and everyone stared at me. "That was a mistake!" the other mom responded.

So, I've caved. I'm ordering on-line and in bulk quantities because Expo*2 low-odor markers ONLY come in assorted color packages in the stores. You can't find only blue  markers in quantities of 5 in a store. NO, that would be too easy. So, I just ordered a box online. Chloe has 12 low-odor blue dry erase markers. I hope it doesn't send her teacher into a tizzy that she has 7 more markers than the other kids in class. It could lead to the breakdown of society. Guess I should keep the extra 7 at home.

I also just wrote in my 2011 calendar all across the month of May in yellow highlighter---"KEEP EYE OUT FOR PRE-PACKAGED SCHOOL SUPPLY ORDER FORM!!!!!!!!".