Sunday, February 13, 2011

Orange faces and orange spaces......

Today's temperature marked the return of some classic Arizona winter weather that we know and love. The kids and I made our way to our community park to partake of some ice cream, trains and playground fun. Sophia's popsicle gave her orange lips and orange teeth and Keenan's face had remnants of orange and green Ninja turtle ice cream. The day took it's leave in spectacular tones of orange and pink. The photos can never do the sunsets justice, but at least gives hints of the beauty that can be found just outside our window.

Friday, February 11, 2011

6/26/06 "Who Knew?"

Today, 02/11/11, I was pursuing some old posts in the blog to help with a school project for Sophia, a 'Things about me" poster. As I was revisiting the past, I came across this old post from 2006. The last paragraph caught my attention (the one about Colin worrying about Sophia and his prolonged absences (uh, those absences were a maximum of 5 days back then, now we consider ourselves lucky this month because he will only be gone 17 days). I thought to myself.....self, some of these sentiments were worth revisiting. Only this time, I will feature of a fetching photo of Sophia in the red dress we bought her in China almost 5 years ago. She wore it for Chinese New Year's last week and she looked amazing. She is no longer a little baby, but rather, she is a bright, funny, insightful girl who is growing up so fast, right before my very eyes.

Before we took Colin to the airport this morning, she told him (in a very matter of fact manner, "you know Daddy, you are gone twice as long as you are ever home"). I know his heart broke because he relayed to me this exchange with a pained expression on his face. Make no mistake, we are both grateful that Colin has a good job. We're just hoping that, sometime soon, he can return back to work in the U.S. and, perhaps, once again, only be away for four to five days at a time. A girl can dream, can't she? Make that girls can dream, can't we? Darn, better make that, a family can dream, can't we? After all, we don't want to exclude the boys (Keenan or Colin) who long for the very same thing.

Without further adieu, here comes 2006.......
I was never someone who wanted children from a very young age. When I was 10, I didn't play with my Barbies and dream about my wedding day. When I was 18, 25, 30, 35 or 36, I NEVER thought about having children. (My friends and family who are reading this will chuckle at that memory).

I was the insensitive restaurant server who would cringe at the sound of a baby crying and the flight attendant who felt sorry for ANYONE who had the misfortune to be seated next to the family of four. I wasn't known to coo over babies and I never babysat the neighbors kids (well, maybe the four legged kind).

I would shake my head in wonder over mothers who adeptly changed poopy diapers and recoil at the thought of sticky little fingers and faces in high chairs. The only maternal urges I ever seemed to have completely revolved around horses. I would see a newborn foal and think "awww, that is so cute, I gotta get one of those some day."

I swore to my family, friends, and anyone else who would listen that I would NEVER have children.

And then I met Colin. And then a lot of my friends had babies and I discovered, much to my amazement, that I liked them. When Colin and I got married, I told him I was still pretty sure I didn't want kids and he still married me. What changed? I have absolutely no idea! That is not totally true. I think I finally met the right person (Colin) and perhaps, I just grew up a little.

That is not to suggest that people who choose not to have children are not grown up. I still have a lot of friends who will never have children and they are quite grown up, responsible and wonderful people. I guess what I mean is that, aside from the fact that, prior to Colin, I had never met anyone I could imagine having children with, I was also very terrified of the responsibility of having children.

Having a child is the ultimate exercise in responsibility and self sacrifice. Your life no longer revolves around you (which is as it should be). As a true blue egocentric, that utterly terrified me. I cherished the freedom to go where I like, when I like. A child was tantamount to being shackled and that was just not for me....... or so I thought.

I guess by the time Colin and I got married, I realized that I had pretty much done as I pleased for most of my life. I traveled to most, not all, but most of the places I had dreamed about going. Colin...if you are taking notes, Greece is still on my list.....say for a five year wedding gift or such. I had accomplished enough things and looked around and said to myself "is this all there is?" I realized how much I missed being close to my family. Colin missed his. And I thought to myself "self, we are both such family oriented people, why are we not raising one?"

Perhaps it really was just my biological clock kicking in and setting off alarm bells. When I readied myself to tell Colin I thought we should have children, I think I warned him to sit down as I thought the shock of my change of heart might be too much for him. I should not have been so worried, he took it in stride and in his usual unflappable manner, replied "really?"

So this lengthy diatribe was inspired by a thought I had the other day. I was busy cleaning the boogers out of Sophia's nose after realizing that just moments before I had been kissing her proffered sticky fingers while she had been eating. Those same little fingers that very likely had been up her nose full of boogers minutes before. Then I went and changed her fourth poopy diaper of the day. And some time between the fingers and the diaper, I realized "wait, what on earth has happened to me?" I was unfazed by the boogers or the poop. I don't mind her sticky fingers and I am unbothered by her screams. *****OK, I do have to admit here that she does have one type of scream that does get under my skin. It is so loud and blood curdling that, in my opinion, it holds all the charm of nails on a chalkboard.*****Aside from that particular scream, I really don't mind any of it.

She has become very talkative lately and I just could spend hours listening to her babble and discourse about 'who knows what'.....***wait, I actually do listen to her for hours, so I guess I can take out the "I could" part, because I already do. The key here is that I love it. I love her, I love how she has changed me and brought me closer to Colin. I love watching her play with my Mom who has this little girl so charmed that she literally squeals and jumps when my Mom enters a room.

It is not all wonderful and sweet. Parenthood is hard sometimes and there are moments when I hope that I really am up for the job. Having said all that, I know that, although being a parent involves sacrifices, I do not feel like a martyr. Sophia is a joy, mixed in with some frustration, stress, worry and even a little anger at times. But more than anything, I just look at her and feel this indescribable sense of love.

My heart aches for Colin who would like nothing more than to be with his family. This week he ended up on the road for over five days. While he loved hearing his daughter laugh on speaker phone (Nana was making silly faces), he misses Sophia terribly and fears her reaction of his long absence. He really has nothing to fear. When we got our referral, we sent the orphanage a photo album with pictures of our family to be given to Sophia. It was returned to us on Gotcha Day and is still one of her favorite toys. Today I found her tracing the outline of her Dad's face and I know that she misses him and will be overjoyed to see him.

But I digress. The headline of the post was titled "who knew?" It sure wasn't me. I never knew that I liked little girls with sticky fingers, boogers, poopy diapers, giggles, smiles, and a whole lot of love to give. I didn't, but I sure do now :)

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

What Do You Do With A Scurvy Pirate?

The kids love the Noggin show, Backyardagins and one of their favorite episodes is "Pirate Treasure". Every now and then, I will hear one (or both of the kids) break into their rendition of "What do you do with a scurvy Pirate?"

Today, one of Keenan's classmates celebrated a birthday and brought in pirate treats for everyone. Colin was able to document the moment. Priceless.

Sunday, February 06, 2011


I've wanted to complete a marathon for the past several years but, last year, I promised myself that I would finally complete one before my next birthday.  Well, you know Murphy and his laws. I was signed up for the PF Changs Marathon last month but several events converged to put a monkey wrench in my best laid plans.  

So here I was, with my next Birthday rapidly approaching in three weeks and I had a goal to meet. But how to meet it? Colin and I talked it over and I realized that I really didn't need to participate in a scheduled marathon event to accomplish my goal. In fact, running an "at home marathon" had some distinct advantages. 1) Colin could be home when I ran it, so he could take care of the kids.  2) If we mapped a good route near our house, I could always run home every 3.3 miles to ensure I had access to water, nutrition and, almost as important, a bathroom! (of course, it meant 8 laps, tempting me to call it a day and stay at home with each pass, but...... 3) since I had my own home grown cheering section, I figured they would motivate me enough to keep going.

And so it was decided.  Initially, we aimed to have me run the 26.2 miles the first week in March. But the weather was nice and cool this weekend, so I went for a run today and told Colin that I would run a few laps and see if I felt like I could keep going.  Long story short, by the time I run 13.1, I figured I might as well finish it up.  

More hours went by then I care to remember (or would like to admit), but the end result was that I finished, and didn't even have any blisters on my feet to complain about and my knees held up without a hint of soreness. Of course, the chaffing from my bra (and I wore two to try to minimize it) and the soreness in leg muscles are another story all together.  The important thing is, I met my goal, and have no intention of running another marathon, ever again.

Many thanks to my supportive husband and great cheering section (in the form of Sophia, Keenan and Marz). Colin even missed the beginning of the Super Bowl to help me see this craziness through and he did it without complaint.  Thanks to my homegrown marathon team, I couldn't have done it without you. 

One final note. During the last 6 miles of my run, my body was begging me to stop, and it was very tempting to oblige. But aside from my family waiting for me, another thing helped me to keep going.  I have a book of famous quotes that I read every now and then and I hadn't looked at it in some time.  But yesterday, I happened to pick it up and the page fell open to a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt about fear and resilience. To sum it up, she said, "you must do the thing you think you cannot do."  So at mile 20, when my body really started to resist my intentions, I repeated that very wise quote to myself as often as was needed to keep my legs moving.  Lo and behold, it worked.  Many thanks to First Lady Roosevelt as well.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Daddy's Home

Colin arrived home yesterday and the kids are stuck to him like glue. We're so happy to have him home.  

Sophia is eager to wear her red Mandarin style dress on Thursday for Chinese New Year. While we were tracking down the dress, we discovered another outfit we had purchased for her on our China trip over 4 years ago.  Thankfully the outfit still fits, she looked beautiful and she received a lot of compliments when she wore it to school.  

Beefy and Casey

Many moons ago, when Colin was still flying for United, he went to England and brought home a stuffed Queen's Guard for Sophia.  I mistakenly thought it was a Beefeater Guard and Sophia named the bear "Beefy".  My English mother-in-law was dismayed by my error and quickly corrected me. But the damage was done and the name Beefy stuck.  He and Bunny (Rabbity) are Sophia's favorite stuffed animals.  

Keenan's favorite stuffed animal isn't actually his at all.  His favorite is his class mascot, a little black bear named Casey.  Keenan got another turn taking Casey for the week.  He carries her everywhere, she even went to Hawaii with us. Of course, every once in a while, he forgets where he put Casey and it takes a family effort to locate the wayward bear. On this visit, Keenan inexplicably put Casey in a play kitchen drawer and promptly forgot where he put her. An hour of searching later, Sophia finally located Casey.  This was a great relief to me because I had visions of having to tell his teacher, Miss Pattee, that Keenan misplaced Casey.

With that in mind, I found out where Miss Pattee originally got Casey.  I have since arranged for Casey's identical twin sister, "Kacee" (replete with the requisite jingly kitty collar) to pay a visit on Valentine's Day and join our family. I'm certain that Casey will remain Keenan's favorite, but I'm sure that Keenan will still be thrilled to meet Kacee.