Dancing and Screaming

October 31, 2014

I didn't realize when I took the video that I wouldn't be able to rotate it.  Sorry for the sideways view but the top one is Sky and D dancing and the bottom one is a very excited Fire.  You'll Fire's wonderful laugh in hi video but you'll hear him scream too- that's the same scream that we've tried to get him to stop doing for years- he does it when he's happy, when he's sad, when he's angry, and sometimes just to make noise.  

Dancing with Daddy and A Sweet Little Baby

I had music on while I was making dinner last night (so happy to have internet at home now so that I can listen to Pandora!) and the kids were getting a little antsy.  D grabbed Sky and just started dancing with her:

Fire wasn't coordinated enough to dance on D's feet so his turn devolved into rough play with daddy:

And a few pictures of our littlest


October 30, 2014

  This was our kids first real Halloween and it was a pretty good one.  Sky had never been brave enough to actually go trick or treating in the past and Fire too little so we'd skipped that part.  They both had a costumes and we handed out candy but this is the first year we did the whole she-bang.  Sky was Elsa (big surprise, right?) and Fire was Spider-Man.  Fire LOVED his costume!  He even ate breakfast with the mask on before wearing it to school for their costume parade.  He brought it to me this morning and wanted to wear it to school again and was mad like only a 2-year-old can get when I said no.
  The kids went trick or treating with some friends and that went really well.  Their daughter is a year older than Sky and very out-going and Fire goes to pre-school with their son.  D took the kids around and they covered most of the neighborhood while Water and I stayed home and handed out candy.  My part of Halloween was a lot slower than I expected it to be.  At our last house, we had trick-or-treaters come to the for most of the evening but it looks like our new house isn't in the best neighborhood that that kind of traffic.  It was a little boring but I got to spend a lot of time playing with Water and we got to see a beautiful sunset, so I can't complain too much. 
  I hope you all had a safe and fun Halloween!!


My Elsa
Water was an angry little fisherman

Thanks to a friend, we had coconumpkins again this year.  Paint was in short supply but A managed to get some orange and white and painted up a bunch.  She then spread them all over her yard and invited a bunch of us to the "Coco-Patch" and Halloween party.  We picked out coconumpkins and then painted them: Sky's is on the left and I did the other two.

The start of the Halloween sunset
Water was much happier without his hat.  I just adore his smile!

A Halloween Look Back

October 29, 2014

Sky (almost 2) and her BFF
Our mermaid princess (almost 3) and her baby brother (9m) the fisherman
 Tinkerbell (almost 4) gets a lift from daddy
A very adorable pirate (age 1.5)

NaBloWriMo 2014

October 27, 2014

   I know I won't be able to have time to participate in NaNoWriMo (I've tried twice and just can't keep up) so I'm going with the slightly easier version: NaBloWriMo.  I'm committing to one post a day for every day in November and to make it a little more challenging, I'm going to try to take a picture each day and post it here as well.  I worry that I let too many simple and fun moments pass in our daily lives and maybe this will push me to try to capture them.
  I've done this challenge once before: NaBloWriMo 2012 and I'll end this with one of my favorite posts, written after yet another sleepless night with Fire:

Go to sleep, sweet Fire.
It's 2AM, stop crying
And go to sleep, please!

Sweet Boy

October 25, 2014

 A friend visited Fire's class today and sent me this picture.  His friend W had fallen and Fire was checking his knee to make sure he was okay.  Fire, for his being VERY two right now, has a truly kind and caring heart and my friend really captured that in this moment.

Baby Smiles

October 21, 2014

Look who learned to smile! 


Where Did You Get Him?

October 20, 2014

 A big part of me wants to start off with a rant.  You know what I mean, other parents in unique families: Where did I "get" him?  Is my beautiful new son a sweater?  I didn't "get" him from anywhere!  He was born and placed with us by someone who loved him more than she loved herself.  Where did you "get" your kids?!  Are Sky and Fire related?  Would this little girl be calling me "Mama" and tattling on this little boy, who also just called me "Mama" if they weren't brother and sister? 
  But I know that won't do any good to get angry.  All that will do is offend the person asking the question.  It won't change the way they approach the next unique family they see.  I understand where the questions come from.  I have that same curiosity when I see other families that stand out.  Call me nosy but I want to know everyone else's story and to share mine.
  But- and that's a big BUT- just because you're curious doesn't mean you have the right to be rude.  Just because you're curious doesn't mean you need to satisfy that curiousity.  Just because you're curious doesn't mean you have a right to know our story. 

  Below are some of the most common questions that D and I get about our kids. There are several ways I could, and have, answered each question so I included those as well.

-Where did you get him? 
(We've gotten this one a lot about Water.  His features don't make him easy to place in a category and that piques people's curiousity.)
Angry answer to rude question: see above
Polite answer to rude question: My son was born in Seattle and we adopted him there.
A better way to ask: Where was your child born?

-What is he?
(I was shocked the first time some one asked this about Sky.  I know what they want to know but I couldn't believe that they couldn't find a better way to ask it.)
Angry answer to rude question: A child, my child! Why, is your kid a horse?
Polite answer to rude question: Are you asking about my child's ethnicity?  He's African American.
A better way to ask: What is your child's ethnicity?

-How much did he/she cost?
Angry answer to rude question: I didn't buy my kids at a store!  I didn't buy them at all.  We had to spend money to bring them into our family, just like you had to pay the hospital bill when you had your kids.
Polite answer to rude question: The agency and lawyers fees vary for every adoption but the kids were free.
A better way to ask: I've heard that adoption can be expensive.  Your kids are priceless but do you mind if I ask about the fees for their adoption?

-Are they related?
Angry answer to rude question: see above
Polite answer to rude question: yes, through David and I but not biologically.
A better way to ask: Are they biological siblings?

-Why were they given up?
Angry answer to rude question: That's none of your business!
Polite answer to rude question: That's a very personal question.  My children's stories are their own and we don't share them with everyone.
A better way to ask: There really isn't one.  Each person's story, adopted or not, is their own.  If you're genuinely interested in adoption or think you may share a similar experience with someone, initiate a real friendship. 

  Please think before you ask these kinds of questions!  I'm usually very happy to talk about adoption but only if I (and my family) are approached in a respectful way.  A variation of the Golden Rule is a good way to remember it: If you wouldn't want to answer the question yourself, don't ask it of others.

What is the best or worst question you or your family been on the recieving end of?  How did you answer? 


Pink Eye

October 19, 2014

Poor D!  He's been quarantined in the house for three days now with pink eye.  That didn't stop me from putting him to work- in the picture above he's finally installing our AeroGardens.  We've all been really careful about washing our hands and so far, no one else in the family has it. 

Shaving Cream Social

October 18, 2014

  It's that time again!  Kwaj had the annual Shaving Cream Social this past Saturday.  I've been told that it started as an alternative to mischeif night which used to be pretty big on Kwaj.  Apparently they created this sponsored event as a consolation after they cracked down on the egging and TPing that used to happen.  Regardless, this was Sky's second time participating and just like last time it took her a while to warm up to it.  She didn't like having the shaving cream on her hands and didn't want her friends to rub it on her.  Sky also refused to run after her friends to try to smear shaving cream on them.  The other moms and I were laughing at ourselves trying to teach our kids the idea of revenge when we're usually trying to teach them to not try to get back at each othere!

If You've Only Got a Moustache

October 17, 2014

You may not have the name,
You may not have the cash,
But you'll make that girl your own.
If you only got a moustache,
a moustache, a moustache,
If you only got a moustache.
Water followed Seth McFarlane's advice from "A Million Ways To Die in the West".  Look out girls, he's already got a moustache!

Sharing a Great Find: SHINE Blog Hop

October 16, 2014

  I may be one of the last mom-bloggers to stumble onto the SHINE Blog Hop hosted by Jennifer at The Deliberate Mom but I'm so glad I did.   I found it through a link from another blog I read, Little Earthling Blog.  Each week bloggers are invited to share two blog post through the link up.  It's a great opportunity to find new blogs and more importantly, a chance to connect with other bloggers.  This week it looks like there are recipes, costume ideas, parenting ideas, and so many others.  I shared two posts: Toes and Ej Jematen Ri-Majel Kia!.  Click through the link below or the button on my sidebar and check it out- who knows what great blogs you'll find!

Water at Two Months

October 15, 2014

  Our baby is two months old!  He hasn't had his two-month check-up yet so I don't know his weight and length but I can tell you that he is definitely big for his age because he's already in 3-6M clothes.  Water has slept through the night for the last three nights, something D and I are eternally grateful for after our experience with Fire, who didn't sleep through the night until he was almost one.  Sorry, I don't have any sleep training tips for you since we had nothing to do with it.  We are pausing before picking him up when he fusses so that he has a chance to calm himself but mainly, we're just lucky to have a good sleeper.
  He still eats 6-8 ounces at a time, although we're trying to break that up into multiple feeds with breaks in between so that it's easier on his stomach. He makes that little baby dinosaur noise when he finishes the first four ounces but will calm down if we give him his pacifier.  Water is very alert and will stay up for about three hours between his naps.  He's very curious and wants to see everything around him.  I've already gotten out Fire's old Bumpo chair and braced him up in it.  He watched me cook for 10 minutes the other evening before his strength ran out and he wilted.  Water has also started smiling when he sees one of us or hears our voices.  He's not ticklish yet but he loves to have fingers run under his chin and will give you a big open baby smile when you do it.  He's just starting to coo too, which is just about the sweetest sound in the world.
  We're so lucky to have Water in our family.  He's the perfect baby for our family and I hope we can be the perfect family for him.

Columbus Day Run

  If we do something as a family four years in a row, does that make it a tradition?  If so, than the annual Kwajalein Columbus Day Run is on of ours.  We'd only been back for a little over a week and hadn't had much time to practice.  D and I tried to get runs in while we were on vacation but it didn't really work out.  My goal was to run the whole quarter marathon, 6.52 miles, and to not stop and I did it.  Our time was 1:20:24- actually that was my time- D's was 1:20:25.  I finished one second ahead of him in a dead sprint.  He'd teased me that he kept having to stop and wait for me and there was no way I was going to let him beat me to the finish when I'd run the whole thing!
  Sky ran with us this year for about a half-mile and then rode her bike for another half-mile.  It was great to have her out of the stroller and actually doing the run with us.  I was really proud of her even being willing to run- she was the only kid there that did. 

The family, one bigger and eight minutes slower, after the 2014 run
(to see pictures of previous years' runs, click here)

Water, As Drawn by Sky

October 14, 2014

A Little Bit of Homeschooling

October 12, 2014

  While we were off-island, the Army rolled out a new fee schedule for all its Child Development Center.  It has a new category that applies only to government contractors, with fees that are hundreds of dollars more per month than we pay now.  They've also said that the multiple child discount can't be applied to families in the new category.  Since those two things together would mean that we wouldn't be able to afford to send Sky and Fire to the CDC, we've had to come up with a bit of a plan.  It involves something we never really thought we would do:  homeschooling.
  We're not going to be making any drastic changes, although we did consider them.  I'll still be working but I have to reduce my hours so that we're no longer in the highest fee category.  That will give me four extra hours a week that I'll be spending with Sky, doing pre-K since there's no pre-K teacher at the Kwaj CDC right now and D and I really think she's ready to keep learning.  She and I tend to butt heads during concentrated time together and I really don't want that to happen while I'm teaching her.  I'm hoping that I can be creative enough to keep her interested and forgiving enough to understand that she's not always going to just sit there and do what I tell her to.
  We've "played school" twice already for about 10 minutes each time.  Once we practiced skip counting and the second time I started teaching her some phonics letter sounds.  Those two times went really well and I have some ideas on how to break things up, as well as some workbooks on order so that Sky won't always have me talking at her.   I'm going to focus on number memorization and recognition, phonics and reading, and handwriting.  Have you homeschooled for pre-K?  What has worked, or not worked, for you? 

Water's Adoption Timeline

October 6, 2014

  Water's adoption went very quickly!  We weren't expecting that at all.  We were told to expect at least a 5-6 month wait to be chosen but that it would probably be closer to a year. D and I also assumed that when our family did get picked, the baby's birth mother would still be at least a month away from delivery.  As you can see below, it didn't quite go that way...

March: D and I decide against another adoption in the Marshall Islands and I begin researching domestic adoption in the US
April: D and I choose International Family Services and bombard them with questions for an entire month
May 3: We commit to a US domestic adoption with International Family Services and I begin working through all the paperwork and creating our family profile
May 10: We're fingerprinted for our FBI clearances
May 16: Family profile completed
May 31: Home study completed
July 3: Home study received by IFS
July 8: Completed and submitted IFS client info form and preference sheet
July 15: Our family profile books are sent to social workers in 10 US states
August 8: We're chosen!
August 9: We have our first phone conversation with the young woman who chose our family- this is also the day she's due to give birth
August 11: A flies to Seattle on the first available flight
August 16: Water is born at 1:43 in the afternoon
September 25: Water's adoption is finalized!
October 1/2:  We all fly back to Kwaj

Back on Kwaj

  We made it back to Kwaj and we're all ridiculously glad to be here.  Don't get me wrong, we're still working through transition issues with Sky and two-year-old challenges with Fire but they seem so much more manageable here at home. 
  Water made the transition really well and hasn't had any problem with the time zone change.  He's still eating and sleeping like a champ.  We're working on hiring a nanny to stay with him but I'm enjoying the end of my maternity leave and my days at home with him are busy and fun.

Water at six weeks

Get Daddy!

And this one sleeps through it all
One of the things I did with my short maternity leave was to paint a few accent walls in each of the kids' rooms.  I did Water's in a soft green color:
Not a great picture but you can see the green contrasting with the Army-standard eggshell white really well.  I found the little airplane mobile over Water's crib in a store in Seattle and fell in love with simplicity of the design.  It doesn't match the Finding Nemo decals and prints but I don't think Water cares.


Did any of you notice that I didn't include any pictures of this room in the original blog post I did on our move to this house?  I couldn't bear to.  The idea of a baby was there.  The adoption was moving ahead but with so many unknowns and such a wide open timeline, I couldn't even think about it on a day-to-day basis.  Once I moved the furniture into the room and arranged it the way I wanted it I closed the door and left it closed.  It was too much for me.

But now look who's sleeping in there!
The walls above Sky and Fire's beds are now a light blue.  Sky wanted hers to be pink but since I only wanted to paint these walls once, I talked her into something a bit more neutral.  I also got both kids new decals for above their beds:

Disney Princesses for Sky
Cars for Fire

(yes, that's both of them asleep on Sky's bed.  They fell asleep with the light on so I snuck in to get these pictures before I turned it off)
This little panel is in the hallway between the doors to Water's room and Sky and Fire's room.  I've wanted to paint something with chalkboard paint for a long time, since I thought it would be nice for the kids to have an easy artistic outlet around the house.  It took four coats but now there is a nice, shiny blackboard for them to color on.  It's already getting some use:  below is the leftovers from a lesson on how sixes and nines and b's and d's are each other reverse.

Our Charmed Life. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.