Saturday, November 29, 2008

We won game 3!

We finally won a game! We beat the North Star Girls U12 team 2-0. Garrett scored the first goal. Dimitry was on fire! It was his first game this season out of the goalie net. He played with so much enthusiasm that he was the first one in the penalty box this season! Then he scored our second goal! Bradley played goalie with equal enthusiasm, shutting the girls out completely. His dad told me Bradley's head was so big he had to buy a new van to fit Bradley in! It was an exciting game and so much fun to watch. The best news is, now we get to play the earlier consolation game at 12:45 tomorrow so we can be on the road before dark. Hallelujah!

My blog is not going to win any awards for accuracy. Yesterday I made a mistake reporting the score again! We lost 5-0 to the Boys and Girls Jr. Seawolves. It's a good thing they didn't have me keeping score for the tournament! Yesterday we crashed the pool at the Courtyard by Marriott where most of the team was staying.

Today we had time for sledding in the morning, then Chuck E. Cheese in the afternoon, then swimming again before dinner. Maya had a great time at Chuck E. Cheese. She loved feeding "money" into the machines. She hit the jackpot on her first game and won over 300 tickets! She had fun playing games and riding all the little rides. She has been a great little traveler. She's never grumpy when I wake her up early in the morning or interrupt her naps. As long as she gets to "watch movie" once or twice a day, she's happy. The reason I put those words in quotation marks is because those are her latest words and she uses them often. By watch movie she means a short Baby Einstein or Baby Mozart video.

Michael doing double duty as uncle and grandpa. I bet he's looking forward to just being Boo's dad on Monday!

Playing football with Cousin Michael (AKA "Boo"). The funniest part is, they didn't have a football outside, so they improvised by using a tennis shoe!

Hockey players in hot water

Maya hits the jackpot!

Riley and Bradley throwing balls around, as usual.

They make games my size! Never too young to get addicted to video games.

Backseat Nascar driver.

Riding with Chuck E. Cheese.

Watching Baby Mozart with Ursula and Louisa

Maya jumps into the pool while Judy catches.

Playing ball with Brenden in the pool.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Game 2

Today we played the Boys and Girls Club Jr. Seawolves. Lindsay scored our first goal in the first period. Then the Seawolves scored 2 goals. Garrett scored our second goal in the second period. Then the Seawolves scored 2 more goals. We lost 4-2. I made a mistake yesterday. Fairbanks beat us 8-0. Tomorrow we play the North Start Girls U12 team.

Team photo

This one's for you, Vanessa. Matt hasn't had to yell at Brenden at all. He's doing great. Yesterday he even took the puck up the ice on a breakaway. I wanted to give his Epipen shot to another kid on the team who looked like he was asleep the whole game this morning. By the way, I bought him a neck guard and a mouth guard today.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Maya's First Thanksgiving...and her second!

Yesterday we celebrated our first Thanksgiving with Maya. Nanna, Grandma and Jim came over for dinner. It was very low key and relaxing. Today we drove up to Anchorage and had another Thanksgiving dinner at Michael and Karyn's house. Riley played his first hockey game of the season this afternoon. Fairbanks beat us 6-0. Riley got 3 shots on goal. Better luck next time!

This is my Christmas cactus. It always blooms for Thanksgiving and Easter.

Nanna, Chris and Matt eating Thanksgiving dinner #1.

Riley, Grandma and Jim.

This is just for show. Maya didn't really eat the drumstick.

Halfway through dinner Maya gets bored and puts her socks on her hands.

Jim and Maya read a book together.

The snowy drive to Anchorage (it wasn't this way the whole time, just through the pass).

The Homer Glacier Kings waiting to take the ice.

Riley and his teammates.

Our little Squirt.

The fans waiting for the game to start.

Maya loves Uncle Michael.

Michael and Maya, Dan and Pia.

Why choose?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sledboarding and No Gurring!

What's new this week? Chris lost his second tooth! This photo was taken midweek, after the loss of his first tooth. Last night he went to bed with a wiggly tooth that was turning almost 360 degrees in his head but would not come out. This morning it finally let go.

Maya loves to be outside in the snow. She starts out helping me shovel the deck, but as soon as she remembers she can fit inside the snow shovel, I end up giving her snow shovel rides around the deck. She also loves to sled. This week we were able to complete another speech evaluation at Birth Two Three. It took all the speech therapist tricks Martha had and all the mom tricks I had to keep bringing her back to the table until we got through the whole flip book of words she needed to say. Martha and I were very pleased with the progress she made. Not that Maya didn't growl at us a few times during the testing.

We have friends in Washington who had a miniature Schnauzer that was frequently growling. Whenever the dog growled, our friends would say, "No gurring!" Now when Maya growls at us, we say the same thing. The boys call her "the Mayanator". It's a great name for her. And l ike the Terminator, it suggests the presence of a very powerful being. A force to be reckoned with.
Speaking of forces to be reckoned with, I hit the wall yesterday. The wall of beaurocracy. I'm talking on the scale of Social Security and the state board of licensing. It has been one of those weeks where no one returns my phone calls or emails. I found out I was 2 pharmacology units shy of getting my license renewed. Not that I was actually short of continuing education. But because one of the conferences I attended did not specify how many of the 12 hours of lecture that I were spent discussing medications, the state licensing board would not renew my license. After trying to call different organizations to remedy the situation and getting nowhere, I broke down and blubbered like a baby to my very understanding husband.
He helped me choose the path of least resistance. He signed me up for an account at Medscape so I could get two more hours of continuing education on line while Maya napped yesterday. They don't call him Dr. Wise for nothing. I even learned a lot. I've had a mental block on the topic of osteoporosis for a long time. I spent one of my two hours learing more about it and now I feel much better about counseling my patients about when to treat. The other hour was spent learning how to best advise patients on the risks, benefits and side effects of medication.
The other walls are going to be harder to scale but I won't bore you with the details. At least I have lots of options when dealing with the other beaurocracies. I am thinking about all the Holt Families that are still waiting to bring their children home from Vietnam. Particularly the children in Dong Nai Province, where the hurdles often feel insurmountable. These families are in need of our prayers and support. Not a day goes by that I do not think about all of you.
Today was a better day for me. After church while Matt was putting Maya down for a nap, Chris asked if I wanted to go outside and sled with him. I said "sure." After a few runs he asked if I wanted him to teach me how to snow board. I said "sure, why not?" Then he showed me how to stand up on the sled while going down hill. I tried it and fell down. A lot. It hurt. A lot. I also laughed and screamed a lot. He asked "Mom, have you ever been this wild before?" I said "Not for a long time." He said "Like 20 years?" I said "Yeah, about 20 years." It's hard to stay down in the dumps with Chris around. He's always coming up with the most humerous and profound statements. He's the classic middle child, attention seeker, class clown.
I tend to avoid sports that involve falling down and getting hurt. That might change if I get a wild hair or have a midlife crisis when the boys are teenagers and I decide to take up snowboarding, hockey or surfing. There's a reason why you should not wait until you are middle aged to try those kinds of sports. Maybe I should start taking drugs to build my bone density now. Even if I don't take up snowboarding in my fifties, maybe I'll be less likely to break a bone if I slip on the stairs walking to Maya's graduation.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Land of the Midday Moon

In summer they call us the land of the Midnight Sun. At least that's what they call it in Fairbanks. Our days aren't that long in summer this far South. Therefore, our days are not as short in winter. Yesterday I was outside with the kids and couldn't resist these photos of the moon still up at 11:00 am. The other good thing about living here is that you can get up at 9am and still do yoga at sunrise. Friday night I kept Falcom and Marina overnight for the first time in over 6 months. This is a good sign that I am on my way to recovery from the events of the past 6 months. Either that or I'm relapsing in my co-dependent tendencies. Just kidding.

I have always subscribed to the village model. That it takes a village to raise a child. I have been putting the rest of the village on hold while I concentrated on raising Maya. But I'm starting to feel like I can join the Human Race again. Of course, I still have days when I just want to "drop out". I mean that in the 60's sense. I totally get now why my groovier older brothers and sisters wanted to drop out. The funny thing is, most of them now have computers and internet and mutual funds just like the rest of us. But I am so overwhelmed by The Information Age that I frequently long to move to a very small island, live in a grass hut and blog by candle light. Oh wait, that last part didn't sound right.

The stomach flu paid a visit to our home this past week. It hit the grandmothers the hardest. I was the least affected. I stayed home from work on Monday, slept through two movies, nursed one can of ginger ale, and then finished reading "Grace, Eventually" by Ann Lamott. I really enjoyed the book. I totally "get" Ann Lamott. I love the way she bares all her foibles. There is something so comforting about finding out that you are not the only person in the world with weaknesses and character flaws. I thought about her a lot when I first brought Maya home because I felt like I finally understood how she felt in "Operating Instructions". If I had been as good about journaling those early months with Maya, I could one day publish my own book of "Operating Instructions...for the Adoptive Parent".

I think I have a lot in common with Ann Lamott. There are only a few differences between us. First, she stopped after one child and I was blessed with three more. She remained a single parent and I was blessed with Matt. She stayed in Northern California and I moved to Alaska. Homer is a lot like Marin County. They are both beautiful places to live, sorrounded by water and mountains. Only we have more Rednecks and they have more psychotherapists.

I have a tendency towards fantasy. Lately I've been fantasizing about the reviews on the jacket cover of my future book, Operating Instructions for the Adoptive Parent. New York Times calls it: "Depressing, but funny!" The San Francisco Chronicle: "Irene Wise is a younger Ann Lamott, without the alcohol tolerance". Ann Lamott would say: "Irene, you rock! I look forward to reading your blog every week!"

Somebody pull me up the hill!

I'll only pose for this one photo!

Winterizing the tree fort?
Matt keeps the home fires burning.
Our neighbor's horses and the moon.

Marina and Maya sledding.

Maya whizzing around the kitchen on her new tricycle.
I try to "blacken" Maya's teeth with blueberries.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sisterhood of the Traveling Shoes

The coveted traveling shoes.

Future garage band?

I went to a party last night hosted by my friend Shannon. She asked us to bring two cans of food for the Food Pantry and clothing, shoes, jewelry, purses or other accessories to "swap". If you wanted to take an item home, you donated $1 per item towards the Food Pantry. All leftover items are being donated to Haven House, our local shelter for women. While it is unfortunate that I live in a world where many people still do not have enough to eat and many women do not feel safe in their own homes, I am grateful that I live in a town with a Food Pantry, a Haven House, and many people like Shannon, who work very hard to keep these services available.

My friend Alana made off with a fabulous pair of shoes donated by Chris' kindergarten teacher, Jennifer. Jennifer bought them for a trip to Las Vegas but couldn't actually wear them and ended up carrying them around the casino (I'm sure she looked really hot anyway!). These shoes were the envy of the party. Everyone wanted a pair. Except me, because my foot still hurts from trying on high heels when Alana and I were at Value Village in Anchorage a couple of weeks ago. Alana offered to loan them out to anyone who needed them for a night, a weekend or a special trip. I got the idea this morning to call us the Sisterhood of the Traveling Shoes.

This blog isn't really about shoes. It's about friends and how important it is to have them. I'm waiting for a phone call right now from Lisa, one of my oldest friends. I don't mean she's old, I mean I've known her since I was 12. Lisa and I met in at Girl Scouts. I met my friend Kelly, who is living in Belgium now, when I was in third grade. She used to be really mean to me. On the first day of school she drew a line down the center of the desk we shared and said, "this is my side, this is your side" If my pencil so much as poked it's tip over the line she would push it back and say, "you're on my side of the desk!" One day I finally asked in a tiny voice "Why are you so mean to me?" She gasped and asked incredulously, "Have I been mean to you? Oh my gosh! I'm so sorry!" We became best friends in third grade and have been good friends ever since. I guess that proves the theory that some bullies are just friends waiting to be befriended.

In the past 6 months, I have been so overwhelmed with being the mother of four children, one of them a newly adopted toddler from an orphange in Vietnam, that I have not really had the time or energy to be a very good friend. I gave myself permission to act as if I had a newborn baby and didn't do much more than I had to. This past week I found myself wondering about old friends I hadn't heard from for a long time and fired off emails asking for confirmation that I was still loved and needed. The replies were a resounding yes. One friend commented that I have always been good at surrounding myself with a great support system. That is quite true. I have always been blessed with a wonderful support system, everywhere that I have ever lived.

Sharon, Alana and me in Anchorage.

Alana and Suzanne at the clothing swap/canned food drive.

Alana meets Maya and me for lunch.

This week marked the 6 month anniversary of Maya joining our family. She is behaving just like our social worker said she would at 6 months. Not that she had a reservations about letting us know what she wanted and didn't want. Now she even tells us where to go and expresses her wants and needs in a very LOUD manner. She goes from 0 to 60 in about 3 seconds, and her volume goes from 0 to 10 in about 1 second. She tells us to "STAY!" and holds her hand up, palm out, just like we learned to do when went to puppy obedience school with our first dog 12 years ago. When she wants something she shouts louder and louder as if we didn't hear her the first time. If she doesn't get her way she stamps her tiny little foot and growls at us. Fortunately, I can usually redirect her by asking if she would like to go to her room.

On Wednesday we met with the special needs preschool teacher at our local elementary school. Maya joined right in with the other kids in pretend play. We met with the speech therapist who will take over when Maya turns 3. Susan, our occupational therapist from Birth 2 Three met us there to help Maya's transition to the new preschool. She has been acting as the liason between Birth 2 Three and the school district. I can't say enough good things about Susan. On December 12th we meet with the teacher and Robin from district office again for the Eligibility Meeting. You would think that a 34 month old child who only eats pureed food and has the speech pattern of an 18 month old would have no trouble qualifying for services but there are many children with special needs more urgent than hers.

For quite some time now I suspected that Maya's feeding difficulty is a multifaceted problem. I think I have now identified all the factors involved. The root of the problem, I think, is an oral neuromotor delay from being bottle propped for the first year, then fed only pureed foods for the second year and a half. The next layer comes from being a picky eater. On top of that, add a very small appetite and an even smaller attention span (she would rather play than eat). Finally, add a generous amount of control issues and you've got Maya. The only layer I've been able to do anything about is my reaction to her control issues. Some days I do better than others. Funny thing about her control issues is that they bring out all my control issues.

I never even knew I had control issues. I pretty much let my other three children run all over me, never forcing them to help out, take naps or go to bed on time. I don't know if I'm just getting too old or if I have too many children now to let them run my life. Of course I still totally organize around my kids, but I refuse to let my home be a turned into a three ring circus. Even as I say this, I look around and see a home that is much messier than a three ring circus. Granted, there are no piles of large animal droppings, but it's pretty dismal in the tidiness department. I hate to admit there's even peanut shell crumbs inbedded in the couch and the carpet after Chris and I watched Toy Story together yesterday while Maya napped and Riley went to "power skating clinic" with his friend, Bradley. I remember remarking to Chris that peanuts in the shell should only be eaten at the circus or baseball stadiums. They sure were yummy!

It's raining and blowing outside. It's gray and cold and ugly. The days are short and so is my temper. I get pleasure from the small things in life, like eating peanuts while watching movies with my kids, and swapping shoes with my girlfriends. May it always be so.

These are NOT the traveling shoes. Alana bought these at Value Village.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! I apologize for not updating my blog for two weeks. It's been crazy busy around here. What I really feel bad about is leaving you all hanging with my last heavy blog entry. Half of you probably think I checked into a psych ward for some well deserved R & R. Alas, I have not been vacationing at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute. Furthermore, my mom has been out of town for two weeks so I really feel bad that she hasn't been able to log onto the blog to see what her grandkids are up to.

Well Mom, other than Halloween, you didn't miss too much. First, Chris was sick with high fevers. He did most of his sick time over the weekend so he only missed one day of school. A week later Riley got sick. He missed three days of school which is not good when you are in the college prep 4th grade at West Homer Elementary. He was not a happy camper when he had to spend Thursday night studying the rock cycle so he could pass his science test. But last night made up for all that.

I'm going to spare you the diatribe on my like-hate relationship with Halloween. I can't even call it a love-hate relationship because there is nothing I love about it. There is way too much emotional trauma over the costumes. When I was a kid, I made my own costumes. My mom did not stay up all night sewing costumes for me or spend hundreds of dollars on expensive store bought costumes. Sounds like I'm diatribing. Okay, I might as well get it off my chest.

When Sarah was little, I had an irrational need to make her costumes for her. At the age of five, she wanted to be princess. So I went to a fabric store and bought the most difficult princess dress pattern I could find. But because I am not a seamstress, I did not know I had picked the hardest one. I had never made anything from a pattern before. I never took home economics. My electives in high school were math, science and foreign language. So when I unfolded the patterns and had no idea what the instructions even meant, it still did not occur to me that I had picked a really hard pattern. And because I have a tendency to procrastinate, I ended up staying up all night to finish the costume on October 30, 1990. It was not until she was about 9 that I finally gave up on trying to sew her costumes. After she rejected two pairs of harem pants for her Princess Jasmine costume I threw in the towel (or rather, I threw the harem pants at her) and declared that she could make her own costumes from now on. The learning curve of motherhood is sometimes steep and I'm not a quick study.

As she got older, I had to explain why I was opposed to her dressing up as a french maid when she was in 6th grade (it's not easy being the feminist mother of a femme fatale, but still much easier than being the mother of a drag queen). So when she was a freshman in college she called me to say, "Mom, I finally got to be a french maid!" The following year she was the St. Pauli girl. This year she was a ballet dancer. I guess all that money I spend on her college education is finally paying off.

When the boys came along I allowed myself to let them wear store bought costumes. You would think this would be easier. Every year, Riley has trouble deciding what he wants to wear and waits until all the costumes are sold out in his size. And because we live in Alaska, I end up spending all kinds of money to get the costumes shipped here on time. This year I said, we are not procrastinating. I started showing them the catalogues as soon as they began arriving in September. Riley did not know what he wanted to be. Chris quickly picked out the Ironman costume even though he has never seen the movie. I paid $39.99 dollars for it, plus I sprung $6 for the gloves and of course, there was the shipping. Two weeks later I saw the same costume at Costco in Anchorage for $19.99, sans gloves (I have to throw out those French words occasionally since I took all that foreign language in high school instead of home ec).

Riley decided in early October to be the same thing as his best friend, a $60 Storm Trooper. I had trouble coughing up that much money for a storm trooper costume knowing that I had already paid way too much for Ironman. So I did what I usually do, procrastinate, hoping everyday that he would change his mind. I didn't feel too bad about it since he was being a copycat which is not okay in my book. Not at those prices.

Three days before Halloween Chris asked if his Ironman costume arrived. I said, sure, it's been here for weeks. He tries it on and lo and behold, it was too small. How was I supposed to know that I should not have ordered a size 4-6 for a child who wears a size 5? Okay, so I should have had him try it on as soon as it arrived. Why? So I can pay more money to send it back? (There's that steep painful learning curve again.) After much sadness on his part and much guilt on my part, we headed to town and found a ninja costume that made him very happy. Riley settled for a vampire cape. We found an inexpensive make up set that came with the vampire teeth. Alana worked her magic with the make-up and Voila! Count Riley is alive, I mean, undead.

So here's the only part of Halloween I like: the cute little kids in their costumes. Maya was the perfect dalmation puppy. She figured out very quickly what trick or treating is all about. I hate trick or treating. But Alana, the perfect Halloween mom, took the kids with her. I joined them after work, complaining the whole time about the bitter cold, the traffic, how much I hate trick or treating. Maya stayed far away from me, preferring the fun Halloween mommy. She stuck to Alana like a shadow. If they were separated for a second, she would shout "A-wana!"

When the boys were little, we only went to three places: The Senior Center, the Long Term Care wing of the hospital, and Dr. Alvarez's office. At the first two stops the kids went around taking candy from elderly people who enjoyed seeing the kids in their costumes. It's a win-win situation. The last stop is fun for mom and dad. Dr. Alvarez and his friends have a grown up party in his office while passing candy out to kids. The first time we trick or treated there, we were invited in for crab enchiladas. I've been hooked ever since. The menu changes every year. Dr. Alvarez is a great big kid himself, lots of fun, larger than life, kind of like Hemingway or Babe Ruth, only he's a surgeon.

Last night we were joined by friends dressed up like mariachis. Mike Heimbuch on guitar, Tom Klinker on accordian. They are actually very talented. Mike would play a well known tune and then make up his own words as he went along. Maya was enchanted by the music and stuck to the two musician like a magnet. They got down on their knees and serenaded her for about 30 minutes. Once in a while Dr. Alvarez would join in with his great big tenor voice like Pavarotti. Maya had all the men smitten with her.

This morning she carried her candy bag around, protecting her booty. What's the difference between a toddler and a pitt bull the day after Halloween? Candy. Who ever said "It's like taking candy from a baby" has obviously never tried taking candy from a baby. Maybe they meant it's easy compared to taking money from the Mafia. She even growls when we try to take her candy.

Finally, we had a surprise visit from Matt's best friend Eric this morning. Eric is captain of an Arco Tanker, traveling all over the world. He is up for a special simulation thing in Seward and came to Homer for one day to see his extended family. He and Matt got to hang out and get caught up a little. Matt's birthday was on the 29th (that is a topic for a whole 'nother blog entry), so Eric's visit was a nice way to end the week.

Dr. Alvarez being himself.

The mariachi band sernading Maya.

Riley the vampire, Maya the dalmation, Chris the ninja, and Falcom the cheerless leader

Maya protecting her booty.

Eric stops by for a visit.