Wednesday, April 29, 2009

She's finally legally part of our family, forever!

Today was our court date for Maya's final re-adoption. It went off without a hitch. The hardest part was the 8 hours of paperwork I did to save $1500 in legal fees. I am grateful to our social worker for forwarding us the paperwork and holding my hand while I called her every few hours for two days.

Alana showed up to take photos. Both grandmothers attended as well. I did not pull the boys out of school since they are going to miss 10 days for Sarah's graduation in Arizona. It was a nice experience. Maya buttered up Judge Murphy with those Poki cookie sticks you get in the Asian section of the grocery store. Alana brought her the ones that you dip in chocolate. It was a nice reprieve from the usual drunk driving and domestic violence cases they deal with.

The funniest is part is, when Maya saw the judge in her black robe, she bowed her head and folded her hands in prayer!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Belly Science

It's springtime in Alaska and the moose are starting to wander into town in search of food. Soon there will be baby moose following along behind them on spindly legs.

Yesterday Riley went across the bay on a field trip with a fourth grade class. His class is going May 6-8 when we will be in Arizona for Sarah's graduation. Mrs. Kirkham, another teacher, was kind enough to take him across the bay with her 4th grade class. They will learn about the local marine biology of Kachemak Bay. It is a great opportunity and I am so glad he did not have to miss it.
"Belly Science"

I helped drive kids and gear to the boat. We had an hour of "belly science" before they departed. Conrad is a dynamic biologist who can make inverterbrates more interesting than rocket science. In fact, he taught us amazing facts like how NASA studied the substance that blue mussels make to attach themselves to rocks and other things into a sticky glue that does not melt at high temperatures so shingles do not fall off the space shuttle during blast off and re-entry. Conrad also showed us another invertebrate that makes a toxin that scientists are studying because of it's beneficial effects on the immune system. He pulled a six foot rope out of the water and it was teeming with life! He set it down on the pier and pulled out at least 8 different lifeforms.

This giant fringed anemone can live up to 100 years!

Saying goodbye, see you soon, stay warm, brush and floss, be good!

Last Sunday I gave Maya this little stuffed daschund puppy. It looks like my mom's dog, Heidi. My mom also has a yellow lab named Nikki. Maya calls her puppy "HeidiNikki". Look where I found HeidiNikki, hiding out in the cupboard!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Second Chances

In many arenas of life, there are no second chances. You get one shot at something. If you don't make it the first time, there are no do-overs. Last week our friend Falcom found out it did not make the list for Jubilee, Homer's annual talent show. He was devastated. I spent the week trying to convince Alana it was not her fault. Well meaning but misguided friends wanted to take action. Sometimes it is hard as a parent to know when you should fight for your child, and when you should just sit. Learning to cope with disappointment is part of growing up. Failure can be a harsh but powerful teacher.

A couple of days ago Falcom was invited to sing at a fundraiser for our local park. He sang "Here Comes the Sun". He did not have much time to prepare and he did a good job. But his ego had taken a terrible blow the week before and his confidence was quite shaken. After the performance he needed a lot of reassurance. Here's where the hockey mom in me was glad I did not have to be a stage mom.

This morning Maya was baptized in our church. It was a wonderful ceremony. One of those events where everyone who was present felt like they were part of something really special. I asked Falcom to sing a traditional baptism song that is a favorite in our church. He choked on the first verse. Our pastor went over to him and said, "let's try that again". Falcom started over and nailed the rest of the song. With each verse his voice grew louder and more beautiful. He was radiating joy as his confidence returned. While holding Maya in my arms, surrounded by my family and my best friends, in front of my church family, I was grateful that in God's arena, there are as many do-overs as you need.

Riley's dyed his hair red for his birthday, for the third year in a row.

Alana gave Maya a tool belt for her baptism present.

A Vietnamese Alaskan Girl!

The Baptism Barbecue party.

Lyn visits with Nanna

Alana and her mom, Mary

Uncle Michael is not grumpy, I think the sun was in his eyes. Vince looks relaxed.

Grandma having a good time.

Darwin gets a giggle out of Maya and Lyn.

Ly came over to visit, too.

Maya's Godparents: Vince and Alana. L to R: Willie, Falcom, Marina and DeeJay.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy to you, Riley!

Riley turned 10 today. Yesterday my mom brought this cake over for Easter dinner. Being the slacker mom that I am, I stuck some candles on it (after mom already cut it) and made everyone sing to him. Maya says "Happy to you!" On Saturday we will have his birthday party, if he can make up his mind what he wants to do. The problem is that he wants to play hockey for his birthday, but the ice is melting away for the season. Our ice rink shuts down from April until September. So he can't decide between a bowling party or a swimming party. That's because both choices are unacceptable to him.

That choice thing didn't work when he was a toddler either. He used to have a terrible temper. You know how the expert books say that when you want a child to do something they don't want to do, you give them a choice between two options? Well, he was no dummy. I would say, "Riley, you have to go to bed now. Do you want me to read you this book, or that book?" He would fly into a rage and scream, "I DON'T WANT EITHER BOOK! I DON'T WANT TO GO TO BED!"

One time he had such a terrible tantrum in the car that he took his shoe off and threw it at my head. The car window was open and the shoe flew out the window. Since it was a hand me down shoe that I didn't have to pay for, I decided it was time for a natural consequence and did not pull over. I told him he just lost a shoe. He loves that story now. But it was not so funny at the time.

He has matured a lot since those days. It's hard to believe he is now my easiest child. He still has a bad temper but has learned to keep it under control most of the time. He can be very sweet and caring. His teacher says he is a kind boy. That is one of the qualities I admire most in a person. Happy Birthday, Riley! We love you! Ooh, I just thought of a third party option. Maybe there is still enough snow on Ohlson Mountain for an Extreme Tubing party!

Roasting my husband

I'm treading on thin ice. Last weekend we went out to lunch. Matt ordered a Tuscan chicken wrap or something like that. I was surprised. He hates wraps, always has. He says they are "pretentious". He doesn't understand why they don't just call them burritos. So he's eating this chicken wrap and says "This is just chicken and salad wrapped inside a tortilla!" And you were expecting????A burrito perhaps? Oh boy, if he ever starts his own blog, I'm going to be in deep trouble. He has enough dirt to humiliate me and keep you all laughing for the next 20 years.

Thanks Rob for the link to the high pitched noise that only people under 25 can hear. Rob has been thinking up new uses for the sound, like hooking it up to the cookie jar. I wonder if we can somehow use it for birth control. People who can still hear this sound should not be able to procreate. But then, I wouldn't have three out of my four wonderful children (doh!).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!
Here are the customary Maya's first Easter photos.

The bubbles were a big hit. Until she dumped the bottle into her Easter basket.

But what I really want to talk about is the saga of biannual family photo. Is it a huge ordeal in all families, or just ours? I only ask my family members to do this twice a year: Christmas and Easter. It's always so difficult in my family, you would think I was asking them to donate a kidney.
First of all, it's hard to get all of us in the same place at the same time. When Sarah was home, we had to wait around for over an hour while she showered, dressed, did her hair and make-up. By the time Sarah was ready, Matt wasn't in the mood anymore.
Today Nanna had to hit the road so we had to do it without her. Just as I announced that we were going ahead with the family photo shoot, Chris hit his head on the corner of the couch and gave himself a goose egg on the forehead. Since there was no blood or broken bones sticking out, I slapped an ice pack on it while he cried and Matt set up the tripod.
A few minutes later Chris was back to his usual cheerful self but then Riley was being uncooperative which made one of the parents mad, I won't name any names. So this is the best we could do. I've included some of the rejects for your entertainment.
I'm comforting Chris while Matt sets up the tripod.

Is the camara on? I better fix Maya's hair!

Okay, everybody smile!

I have no idea what was so funny, but right after this shot things went downhill.
I kind of like this picture the most, except that Maya is not looking at the camara.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Holy Week

There is nothing holy about this week's blog. But I couldn't help thinking about all the Biblical events happening around here. First, all this ash falling on us reminds me of Ash Wednesday. Then when the cloud of ash covered the sun and day turned into night last Saturday, I was reminded of the events following Christ's death. Wednesday as Matt and I attempted to remove some of the ash from our deck, I felt like there was a plague upon us. Oh wait, that's Passover. I'm mixing up my religions. I'm not trying to be funny.

Last Sunday I did a very un-kosher version of a Seder meal at Sunday School with my class. This was the first year I could not find Matzah in Homer, so I had to use wheat crackers. The real Jews get their Matzah sent up from relatives in the lower 48. When I do it for Sunday school, I explain that Passover is what Jesus and his disciples were celebrating at the Last Supper, and relate it to Christianity. I love tradition and the kids love doing the Seder meal. They look forward to it every year.

Wednesday morning we had a new friend over. Blaze needed a place to go for a few hours so his mom could work. At first he was a little nervous because he only remembered coming over for a playdate once before. Sharon dropped him off clutching a new toy, looking sad and nervous. When I asked it he wanted to watch my Thomas the Tank Engine video, he perked right up. But then I couldn't get the TV to switch to video. As I was calling Matt for help, Blaze asked me "How come you don't know how to turn on your own TV?". Maya kept saying "Watch movie?" After I got it working, Blaze said "I knew you could do it!". Then he sat quietly, clutching his new toy and watching Thomas the Tank Engine. Meanwhile, Maya was taking videos off the shelf, out of their cases, and dumping half a can of food in the fish tank. After the third time I had to repremand Maya, Blaze said "I never do anything my mom and dad tell me not to do." He even has the dimples to go along with that statement. He is a month younger than Maya and light years ahead of her in the language department. But what else would we expect from a 3 year old who's mom speaks English, Hebrew and Arabic?

Ash on snow looks like a moonscape.

Last Saturday we went out to dinner with Vince and Alana for Vince's birthday.

Maya had swimming lessons with her preschool class this week.

Wednesday Blaze came over for a playdate.

Matt thinks I look like a dork in my swimming goggles cleaning up ash.

He looks so much cooler in these glacier glasses!

Maya has been really clingy lately. When I asked her if she was going through another "bonding phase" she said "Yes."

Thursday Riley rescued this bird who hit the window and was stunned. We put it in a warm hat lined with wool socks until it recovered and flew away! This is the third bird we have "saved" in this manner.

Maya got to pet the bird, too. Raising another generation of bird rescuers.

April in Alaska. We wake up to snow. It's mostly gone by afternoon.

Maya learns how to color Easter Eggs.

Riley and Chris are old pros.

Chris recently announced that there's no such thing as the Easter Bunny. I told him he won't be getting an Easter basket this year if he doesn't believe. If Riley doesn't believe, he's keeping it to himself.

Blaze singing Twinkle Twinkl Little Star

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Living in the shadow of a volcano

There was an article in the Homer News the other day entitled: Living in the shadow of a volcano is a nuisance, but kind of cool...At this point I think it's just a nuisance. This morning I got up at 6:30 because Marina spent the night and she was still on Greear time. So I was giving her a bath between 6:30 and 7:00 when I heard thunder. The first time I thought it was Matt sliding the bathroom door open. The second time I was standing there talking to Matt. I said "do you hear the thunder?". He said, "the volcano must be going off".

I looked out the window and saw dark clouds to the east. Nothing in the west. Within 15 minutes a black cloud blew from the west and turned the sky over our house from dawn to dusk. It was black for about 30 minutes, like an eclipse of the sun. This time, there is no snow falling so the ash is still dry. It blows off the spruce trees like pollen in spring. My dog has an 18 hour bladder but I had to let him out around 10am. When he came in I wiped his paws off with a damp rag. Then I dipped them in a bucket of water and there was about a 1/4" of ash at the bottom of the bucket. When I opened the door to throw the water on the stairs, he slipped out and lay down in the driveway with wet paws. I just got him to come inside and repeated the footwash. Dude is staying inside now until bedtime. I threatened the kids with a spanking for anyone who lets the dog out again. He is like an 86 pound ash magnet. We desperately need it to rain or snow, but I can see the sun trying to shine through the ash fog.

On a more cheerful note...Marina spent the night last night. She and Maya had a sleepover. I am enjoying having a little helper around the house so much, I may never let her go home. She took another bath when Maya woke up. She told me she found a way to get Maya to swallow: by putting a little piece of candy inside each bite of food. I tested her theory by pushing a little nerd inside Maya's mini muffin. It's like giving dogs pills, when you hide the pill inside a piece of meat or cheese. Well, it didn't work on Maya. She still didn't eat her homemade apple cinnamon mini muffin.

The only thing more fun than watching the birds at our feeder is watching the cat.

The boys trying to catch a bird.

Colton gives lessons on how to catch a bird. No luck today.

Maya loves wearing her brothers' hats and gloves.

April Fool!

Maya's little horse on a stick. Matt replaced his batteries the other day. His muzzle wiggles when he whinnies. He would be so cute if he didn't play the Lone Ranger theme. Where's the volume control?

Loose ash all over the deck.

Coloring with Marina. Notice the uneaten mini muffin in the right hand corner.

Marina picked out this cute little ballet dress for Maya. She gave it to Maya for her third birthday.

Scratch what I said earlier. I just lost my little helper to Chris. Chris suddenly remembered that he and Marina used to be great buddies when they were younger.