There are a lot of things about our city that I detest.  It drives me bonkers sometimes. But it also has a lot going for it, so we put up with the bad and embrace the good. (I could say the same about my kids, but I digress.) On Sunday afternoon we (well, truthfully, David) loaded up the bikes and went to a BMX track near one of the parks. It was designed to be an exact copy of the Olympic track in Beijing, so it's nothing to sneeze at. It's hard to believe that at one time these little kiddos who were in diapers and completely reliant on me are now big enough to ride like animals on a dirt track. They all got into it, were cheering one another on, and got as dirty as you'd expect 3 kids to get when riding around in the dirt. And I know, the mountains are awfully nice to look at, too.



What person woke up one day and thought, "Hmmm, I wonder if tying a chicken up in string will help keep the flavor in?" I'm awfully curious. Even though I'm not eating meat anymore, my family does. I still make what they like as well as what I like. And when I buy meat, I make sure I buy the right kind of meat.

So today I had a whole chicken and I found a recipe that seemed good... rubbed with seasonings and then tied up trussed. And the trussing instructions seemed simple. But all I had was blue sewing thread. So I tried. And it was like a crochet project gone bad. With a bit of slippery wrestling thrown in.

Any hope I ever had of Ina Garten meeting me and saying I was a good cook just left the building.


Food For Thought

If I were in charge of the world, I would appoint Carrie as ambassador over food and nutrition. Go read this great post.


Another School Year

School started last Wednesday and it was fantastic. Lily and Z are still at their elementary school, and Carver has "moved up" to middle school. They were excited to meet their teachers, meet new friends, greet the old friends, and use their new lunch boxes and backpacks. I love the first day of school mostly because they all wake up early and on their own make their beds and brush their teeth without being reminded. It's the only day of the year that happens, so I pour myself a second cup of coffee and enjoy it. Carver is liking middle school. Likes changing classes and having a locker and having some extra curricular classes. After orchestra he has shop class (which in today's era is called "industry basics"). Middle school is wonderful because it is still very sheltered and structured. Carver actually spends most of his morning with two teachers in two classrooms. His english and history classes are with one teacher in one classroom. His math and science classes are with one teacher in another classroom. He switches throughout the morning, but he has two teachers who will know him well. He also is in the same classes with the same kids through the morning, so he won't always feel like a stranger. I hope that it continues to go well, that he makes some good buddies soon, and that he continues to excel.

And this is what my kids look like the other 99.9% of the time.


True Confessions

So, here's a dirty little secret of mine. I still have not finished that last details of Zinabu's adoption. You'll be confused when I describe it to you. After all, what could possibly be left? Allow me to lead you through the littered minefield of adoption paperwork.
Home study
Medical check
Financial check
Agency approval
State approval
Country approval
Overseas paperwork
Background checks
Fingerprinting (not once, not twice, but often three times)
Security clearance
More overseas paperwork
Referral paperwork
Acceptance paperwork
Medical paperwork
Visa paperwork
Travel paperwork
Travel immunizations
And probably a hundred more items I forgot.
Then you get home with your child, and there's more.
Medical check ups
Post travel evaluations
Home visits from the social worker
Post placement reports (Several the first year, and one report each additional year until the child is 18)
Application to finalize adoption in our state
Court appearance to finalize adoption
Tax paperwork
Social security paperwork
And a few other odds and ends, but I think you get the picture.
I have done it ALL, three times over. I do NOT begrudge the process. Not at all. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat for every one of my babies. But... can you understand while I've put off one last item? And it's a bit of a doozie. You see, even though Zinabu's adoption is recognized and finalized in Ethiopia, and the United States recognizes and has finalized Zinabu's adoption, he does not have a Certificate of Citizenship. Meaning he's our child but not a citizen. Trust me, the entire process is maddening.
I have not finished the citizenship paperwork for lots of reasons. First of all, I have another 10 years before I need to complete it. Second of all, it's a big fat fee of $500. Third of all, the paperwork necessary is worse than trying to explain the game of Monopoly to my dog. Here I am, a well-educated, English-speaking grown woman and I can't quite figure it all out. Imagine being from another country, where English is not your first language, and trying to navigate our Immigration system. Talk about a bum deal. It would, in a word, suck. So have mercy on me and anyone else you meet that is still working on their paperwork. It's no walk in the park.
I was getting good at putting off this last dreaded task, until last month. I was waking up at night, freaking out, sweating, wanting to wipe this off my to-do list. So I put on my big girl panties and started. I have the photo to show my piles of paperwork (yes, all for the ding-dong citizenship application). I am hoping to get it all in the mail by the end of August. And when I do, I will be popping the champagne!


Just in case you needed a giggle today.
We've had a fair few over the last few days. Like when I asked David a question and used the word "scuttlebutt." The boys lost it. Bent over themselves in hysterics. Milk almost spurted out of Z's nose. Despite having to constantly work on their manners, having these kids is nothing short of joyful.


I Feel Like We Won The Lottery

I can hardly believe it!!! I had to pinch myself when they made the announcement today. Our school district is getting some of its vegetables locally, from a CSA? Are you freaking kidding me? They've banned chicken nuggets and "breaded" foods? They're serving organic, baked chicken?

I had to look around me to make sure I was in the right place, because let me tell you that our school district is not rolling in cash right now. We also have a high percentage of kids on free or reduced lunch. We're tough as nails, thank you very much, but I wasn't expecting this.

I am overjoyed. I am so proud of our Director of Food Services. Seriously. I will probably drive down to his office right after I post this and give him a giant kiss. (So what if I get arrested?) It's been coming on slowly over the last two years. Our director has been making subtle changes, not wanting to rock the boat, working to have small victories here and there to prove that it is worth it to care about what you eat. I know he's a huge fan of Michael Pollan (and you should be too) and he's been easing the schools in our district to a better meal plan.

You probably think I'm going overboard here, but you have no idea how important this is to me. And what's funny is that the only kid in my family who likes school lunch is Zinabu, and that's just occasionally. But when I think of all the kids who go to school and can eat carrots that were picked last week from just down the road, I could cry with joy. I feel like we just won the lottery!


Who Is "Old Men Reflect"?

I love this picture of my Uncle Jim, circa 1969. He's the one in the center. He is the youngest of 4 kids... and he's usually the center of attention. Like this photo. Right in the center. He is my mom's little brother, and currently (and more popularly) known as Old Men Reflect. He leaves all the insane interesting comments on my blog. Like when I wrote about how we're reading aloud biographies of important people to our kids at dinner, he suggested Al Capone and a few other choice criminals. He often suggests I go fix myself a stiff drink. And in my last post about the skunk, he made a reference to Sarah Palin.

His incredible sense of humor and dark wit hide a big softy, though. He is generous beyond words. He is thoughtful. He is loyal. He is kind. He is amazing. He is a knight in shining armour and I am fortunate to have him as part of my family.

Uncle Jim, I'm sorry to have betrayed your secret--that underneath all your biting sarcasm is a great man. A great, great man. Here's to many more posts that inspire your great comments.


The dog got sprayed by a skunk.
Right under our bedroom window--which was open.
It's a toss up about what smells worse: the dog or our bedroom.

Somehow this was not on my to-do list today.


Almost a Middle-Schooler

Yesterday I took Carver to his middle school for registration. For 6th graders they do a really good job of easing them into their new school, and there are a few small activities planned to help them learn the ropes. I'm long past the point of freaking out about middle school. That happens the entire year your child is in 5th grade. Now I'm ready for him to start and I want him to begin experiencing all the fun stuff. That's the good thing about time. You can't stop it, so you learn to just roll with it.

It's possible I've lost a small part of my brain this week. There's a lot to remember, and I'm failing. I keep leaving important pieces of paper on the kitchen counter while we dash off to places where I need those pieces of paper. Examples are (but not limited to): school supply lists, immunization records, and grocery store lists.

The laundry is piled to my ears. The dishwasher broke. ________! (insert whatever naughty word you want right here because if you're going to use naughty words, this is the perfect time.)
The kids are ready to go back to school but school doesn't start for another week and a half. We've done every summer activity you can do, times 5. We're done. And that's saying something because summer is my most favorite time of year.

Yesterday I was in the shower when my brother (the police officer) stopped by for a quick visit. All the doors were unlocked (one might have been wide open but you didn't hear that from me) and after he rang the doorbell my children just let him in without asking, "Who's there?" And that led to him lecturing me on the importance of safety/children/locked doors. Let me tell you, there's nothing like a lecture from your little brother to really get your day going.

On the upside, there's not much planned these days and I'm staying in my pajamas well past an acceptable time. I'll take whatever I can get.


Geeks of the Year Award... Right Here!


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