Monday, August 29, 2011

Hair we are.

I didn't know that having two boys would require so many trips to the hair cutter. If I was a bit more confident (or talented), I would do it myself. But I'm not on either front. So, we go to an over priced but well worth it kiddie salon where my kids can watch a movie (their cut is done before the beginning credits are even over) and walk out with a balloon and a sucker. That's worth twelve bucks to me any day.

With Turner's new haircut, his baseball bat injury is EVEN MORE noticeable. Great!

And I didn't know Quinn could look *more Chinese* but he does in this pic. I'll tell you one thing, the kid can grow some mean side burns. They were ridiculous before the haircut. But he's looking good once again.

The boys start school next Tuesday. I'm not exactly all, "Get these kids outta here so I can have the morning to myself." Although it will be nice to run some errands alone, clean my house with out little hands undoing all my efforts with in seconds, and go to all my doctor appointments with out trying to arrange child care. See? I DO have glamorous plans for my free mornings. Jealous, aren't you?

But I am a touch sad to see them go. In the last month or so Quinn and Turner have been enjoying each other SO MUCH. They do role playing and pretend play with their light sabers and their Kung Fu Panda moves all day. And they are getting along great. Except, of course, when they are not.
And without further adieu, here is the latest with my hair. This is a picture of me and my friend, Sarah, at a wedding we were at this weekend. I wish you could see my hair better. Oh, right, that would require MORE HAIR. But I couldn't be more thrilled to have what I have. In about two or three more weeks it should look like just a really short haircut.

I'm still not sure what color it is. One thing seems for sure, it is definitely not curly. People like to tell me it's going to come back curly. But sorry folks, I'm pretty sure it's not. I'm liking to call it *blond* right now. Olivia likes to call it gray. (She's five, what does she know?) Steve thinks it's going to be brown like it was before chemo. Feel free to place your bet.

But in other good hair news, my eyelashes and my eyebrows are back too. Shoot. I'm practically normal once again.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Oh, good grief

This has been one of those sneaky weeks. The kind that are busy and full of good stuff. Moments to celebrate. Schedules to nail down. Routines to establish. A busy kind of week that doesn't afford much contemplation time. (Wait a minute, my current life doesn't afford me much contemplation time, but that's another post.)

Because of that, I was a bit surprised when a wave of emotion hit me the other day. A smack of grief that I wasn't planning on. Then again, that is the nature of grief. It's unpredictable and unplanned.

This is a week that my mom and I would have been on the phone about five times a day. With so much going on and so much new and exciting. She would have wanted every detail of Olivia's first day of Kindergarten. She would have wanted to know about her class room, what she wore, what her new friends are like, what her stories were. My mom would have wanted details even I don't care about. She would have been seething with anger about the bus situation. She would have felt my pain and my anxiety. Then she and I would have laughed and laughed.

She wouldn't believe what a confident girl our Olivia has turned into. The last she knew, Olivia was struggling with fear and anxiety at school. She would never believe that yesterday, Olivia read a book to the class. The last my mom knew, O had an adorable short hair cut. She would be surprised that her hair is now able to be put into an *up* pony tail. (And she would definitely have an opinion on that... she loved O's hair short.)

My mom would have wanted to know about the notes that I write on her napkin at lunch everyday. She would want to know what I packed- a hard boiled egg, fruit, pretzels and a juice box, fyi. She would laugh at the fact that O didn't eat breakfast at school the other day because they "served unhealthy muffins with chocolate chips in them." (She certainly did not get that from me... or my mom! We live(d) for unhealthy muffins.)

There's not time nor room to mention all that we would be discussing about the brothers getting ready for their first day of school. Oh sweet mercy the time I would log in on phone calls with her this year. Then there would be the topics of my hair coming in, my return to spinning class after 8 months off, my addiction to Pinterest and the 20+ recipes I've tried and my recent attempts (again) at organizing my life.

All things that only a mother, in specific, my mother would care about. Sigh.

I've started accepting and adapting to life with out my best listener. My best question asker. (Shoot, it's been over a year, I should be adapting.) But those sneaky weeks really take me by surprise. So, on behalf of myself, and my mom, thanks for listening!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The wheels on the bus go round and round and round and round

Remember my sweet peanut of a daughter who started Kindergarten yesterday? The one who waited for the bus that never came?

Remember her mom who crossed the "I'll never let my kid ride the bus to public school" off the *I'll never* list? Yeah, well the sweet peanut of a daughter got the afternoon ride of a lifetime. As did the opinionated, list crossing mother.

Olivia was suppose to get off the bus on our corner at 3:22. The letter from the district said to wait at the stop 10 minutes before she was to get off. Being the OCD parent that I am (even though I can see the bus stop from my window), I arrived at the bus stop at 3:05. Just. In. Case.

I had been warned by some other parents who have older kids at the school that the buses were running late since they were still ironing out the kinks. So when the bus was 20 minutes late, I decided not to panic. When it rolled onto 30 minutes late, I was so proud of myself because I still remained calm. I told myself I'd give the bus until 4:00 and then I would call the school.

At 4:10 I decided to call Steve and then the school. I also texted a few parents to see if their kids got off the bus. Steve got on the phone with the Department of Transportation (whom he tried earlier that morning to get the scoop on the a.m. bus, but after 45 minutes on hold, gave up) and I called the office. I was told her bus was the last to leave but they didn't know what time it left.

Since she was only suppose to be on the bus for 8 minutes according to the schedule, I thought I would give it another 10 minutes in case it had just pulled out (an HOUR late from school. Seemed weird, but you never know.) At 4:25 when the bus was officially an hour late, I called the school again (and Steve was still on hold with DOT) but gained no other further info, other than the fact that the first week of school, buses tend to run late.

Fine, I get it. But how LATE can you be to the first stop of the afternoon?

Finally, at 4:40 her bus rolled up. I ran to greet her. Off stepped a red faced, sweaty and disheveled Olivia. I looked on the bus and there were no other kids. The driver apologized. She said that she didn't know Olivia was on the bus. She did her whole route and then found my kid. She said no one at the school told her O was on the bus. What the????

I asked if the bus would be arriving from now on at the appointed 3:22 time? She said it would be more like 3:45 because she doesn't even arrive at the school until 3:30 (a half hour after O is dismissed.) Needless to say, an hour and forty-five minutes after Olivia got done with her first day of Kindergarten, she got home. Sweaty, tired and ready for another bus ride! The good thing was that she didn't know the difference.

The bad thing? I did.

I got a hold of the DOT today (after another 30 minutes on hold) and was told that should have never happened (duh... glad I held for that!). Apparently it was the bus driver's fault. Not exactly boosting my confidence in letting my 5 year old ride the bus this year.

So I'll be adding this one back to my *I'll never* list. (Until next year rolls around.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Here we go

So many people say, don't blink and you'll miss it. I have to admit, while in some ways it seems like just yesterday my girl was a peanut and I was sending her off for her first day of pre-school, so much life has happened around here that it doesn't exactly feel like *yesterday.*

But I have to laugh when I see that tiny little thing with that big 'ole pack pack.
Last year she seemed to fit into the back pack a little better.

Last year's school year was rocky to say the least. And in most ways, we are not exactly sad to turn the page.

So, that is what we did this morning!

My little peanut of a girl, put that Tinkerbell back pack on, one more time and is starting ALL DAY Kindergarten.

And doesn't she look the part?!

She was so excited.

She will be one of three returning kids to her class room (the Montessori school puts 3 4 and 5 year olds in the same classroom.)

She is excited to be a *helper* this year. We had a nice long talk about looking for kids who may be nervous and helping them out. I'm sure she'll do a great job.

She's so big this year, she is able to ride the bus. Which is another *I'll never do* as a parent to cross off the list.

Well, almost.

We waited for the bus to come for over 10 minutes this morning but it never came. So, I drove her to school. Just like the good old days. *Hopefully* she is taking it home this afternoon. If it doesn't go well (or if she comes home with words we don't approve of) I'll be driving her home too!

Here are the infamous Skeetchers. These are not NEARLY as aweful as the brothers'. But you'll have to wait for their first day of school to see those beauties. If you can hang in there for two more weeks, you're in for a real treat.

Their school has moved to a brand new building this year. We are super excited.

If you want to hear JUST HOW EXCITED we are, you can click here and see the little news clip that made it on our nightly news. I'm practically famous!

And just think, you knew me when!!!

Friday, August 19, 2011



Here I am. The past week has been a whirlwind of activity, travel and escaping from my computer. I promise to be back on a more regular basis (hopefully that is a positive for you.) Between our trip to northern Michigan, Toledo, back to school shopping, cleaning, organizing, appointments and meetings, there has been little time for blogging. Not to mention the winding down of summer t.v. You know, the important stuff.

I'll be back soon with the progress of my hair growth (I know you're dying to know that I no longer look totally like Mr. Clean), back to school pics (O starts Monday, the boys go the day after Labor Day) and other earth shattering news.

But for now I'll leave you with a summary of my life these days:

(On our way to school for Kindergarten testing for O)

O and Quinn yelling at Turner, "Ewwww... gross. Turner, don't eat your booger!!!"

Turner: "Why not?"

Me: "Turner, do you know what boogers are made out of?"

T: "No."

Me: "Dirt. Do you eat dirt?"

T: "No. But there are no tissues in the car. So I have to eat it."

I start to reason with him and then I find myself talking to myself "How did this become my life? I'm talking about boogers with my 3 year old. Wait, now I'm talking to myself. Ugh."

And now I'm sharing it with you. I guess once you've walked around life bald, you have no pride left. May your pride (and hair) be bigger than mine. Have a great Friday. Now I'm off to buy some tissues for my car.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

You light up my life

It might be the perfect day outside. The sky is mostly sunny. The breeze is blowing. The temp *might* reach 80. The a/c is off and the windows are open. And I'm sitting here on my couch on the computer and my dang kids are plopped in front of PBS. SHAME ON US!!!

If it counts, we did spend the better part of the day out side. The kids in the blow up pool, me doing this and that. So there, my guilt is relieved. A touch. I mean, school IS breathing down my neck... O goes back on the 22nd and the brothers start the day after Labor Day.

We started our back to school shopping over the weekend. It seemed crazy to be shopping for school stuff when it was 92 degrees and 112% humidity. But the sales were out there and so were we!

This is the year I finally caved. If your kids ever watch Saturday morning cartoons, you probably know my plight.


Kill me with the Sketchers!!!

Every other commercial on Saturday mornings is for boy Sketchers. And then for girl Sketchers. *Bad Sketchers*, *Twinkle Toe Sketchers*, *Ballerina Sketchers* blah blah blah. All I hear week after week is "MOM, Can we get Sketchers?" My brilliant come back for a few years has been, "Yes! When you all go to school." Ha! Brill.i.ant!

Until this year, when my brilliance bit me in the butt. As of September 6th, THEY ARE ALL IN SCHOOL. Crap. As of Sunday, August 7th they are all wearing Sketchers. Olivia's twirl (somebody shoot me!), Turner's are *skater shoes* that light up green (Steve died a thousand deaths) and Quinn's have fire all over them and light up red (perhaps the chemo got to my brain? or at least to my better sense.)

My kids now run (because apparently running causes them to light up better?!?) and twirl (there is a ball at the bottom of the very pink very annoying shoe, in case you are wondering)every where. I know this is just the start of it. My friends with teenagers assure me this is just the beginning. And tame. Buying things for your kids that you wouldn't be caught dead in. Par for the course. In the early '80's I *might* have had a "neon" phase that my mother whole heartedly supported, I'm sure.

But for this afternoon... I'm sticking to PBS... they don't do commercials; godbless'em.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Positive Perfection

Last week at this time I was waking up in New York City. sigh

It was such an amazing long weekend of friends, walking, food and memories. Thanks to my friend, Karen, who gave up her Friday to hang out with us and arrange our housing for the first two nights. Karen's friend Kari Jo and her family were out of the City so they graciously allowed Steve and I to stay in their empty apartment. What a gift! Thank you!!

Ahhh... Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE the city? And by *the city* I mean New York (because I AM a New Yorker at heart, and to us, there is only ONE TRUE city.)

In August of 1996, I packed my bags, sadly kissed my mom and dad goodbye and boarded a plane headed for Manhattan. I didn't have an apartment yet. But my roommate, Jennifer (she went by Jen back then ;) ) let me live with her in her studio apartment which we lovingly called *the box* for a few weeks while we apartment hunted.

Well, we hunted, and we hunted. We got rejected. We got turned down. We signed a lease only to pick up the keys and find out some girl came in the day before us and payed cash. We got our down payment back. Then promptly moved in with some great friends who let us live on their couch for the next six weeks while we hunted some more.

We finally found the perfect apartment for us in the Gramercy Park area. I lived there for the next three years. It was a heavenly place to spend my early 20's.

We were just a few blocks from the Flat Iron Building. My favorite building in all of NY. So on Saturday morning, Steve and I headed back down to my old neighborhood. It was a glorious morning and we enjoyed every minute.

An interesting observation for me on how the city has changed is the cupcake/bakery obsession that has hit the City. When I lived there it was the Gap and Starbucks. You couldn't walk more than two blocks before you could buy a pair of jeans and a grande iced latte. Now it's cupcakes. I would seriously weigh 500 lbs. if I moved back.

They even have cupcakes on wheels. So, naturally, we had to try one while sitting in the shadow of my fav building with a glorious view of the Empire State Building.

We tried the French Toast and bacon cup cake. It was a bit much for me.

Jamba Juice was also passing out a free energy drink only adding to the perfection.

After we were fueled up we headed over to my old apartment. Such fun times. Such a different life.

On our way past, a girl who looked to be about the age I was when I lived there and some friends were hauling out a very old very crunchy Christmas tree. Yep, time to get rid of that thing, kids! Oh to be young again.

The old apartment was one block off of Gramercy Park. This is the last private park left in the City. That means you only get to go in if you have a key to the park. You only get a key if you live in an apartment ON the park. So people like Madonna and Julia Roberts have keys. Not people like me.

By the way, I ran into Julia Roberts walking her dog several times while living there. Each time I ended up just walking past because I couldn't think of anything clever to say. All I could come up with was, "Nice sweater" or "I really love your movies". Yep, best to just keep on walking!

One day a year there would be a *neighbor day* in the park. They would open the gates and let any old riff raff in. I would take a book and read in there until they kicked me out. Classy, I know!

We visited one of my old haunts. A coffee shop called 77 Irving. It used to be on a different street and it used to be a secret. Now it's super popular. But still cute. Once I had coffee with Ann Curry from the Today show there. This time we had coffee with about 75 of our new best friends.

We strolled down to the Union Square Farmer's market. Most Saturdays I would head down there, if not to buy, then just to look.


More feast for the eyes.

One of the real reasons we headed to the City was for a friend's wedding. Unfortunately, I didn't pull my camera out during the wedding or the reception. I was enjoying myself too much to dig for it.

As it turns out there were about 20 people from our time overseas. Some whom I hadn't seen in about 10 years. It was a real treat. The reception was out in Flushing, Queens at a Chinese hotel. We were there for over 5 hours and we ate the whole time. It was a 12 course Chinese dinner and it was heaven on earth!

In between the wedding (which was on 5th Ave. right near Central Park) and the reception- about an hour subway ride away- we killed time walking in the park. This was always one of my fav things to do. However, it was about 100 degrees (without an exaggeration) and we were dressed for a wedding. Steve was wearing a suit. It was a good idea for about 10 minutes. The problem was, we walked for about an hour. By the end we were sweaty, tired and really grumpy. Thankfully, we recovered and were able to enjoy the reception and our friends!

Sunday was a fun day of brunch with friends (where once again, I was so lost in the moment I forgot to get a picture with them. Sorry, Queeners!) Then Steve and I hopped on the subway and went downtown to SoHo, Chinatown and then tried a new experience. The High Line.

This might have been my favorite thing all weekend. The old elevated train tracks that carried cars of meat into the old meat packing district have now been transformed into a city park. It goes from 14th St. to 34th St. and is an amazing view of the city. We loved it!!!

Then we hopped back on the train for a dinner at a lovely side walk cafe. Maine lobster roll and homemade chips? Yes, please and thank you!

After our first two nights at the apartment, we moved out and headed to a night at a hotel. We stayed on the Upper West Side at a very cute place called On the Ave. It was a bit more European and we loved it. Our room was clean and spacious and on the 16th floor there was a balcony with patio furniture.

We were able to relax, enjoy some rest and conversation and some coffee up there.

The weekend was such a great balance of friends, memories, delicious food, relaxation, conversation and culture.

It was exactly what I needed after these grueling months of chemo and stress.

We headed back home Monday afternoon. But not before one last stroll through Central Park and a delicious brunch at a side walk cafe. We arrived at the airport with enough time to hop on an early flight. They were predicting rain and flights are easy to be delayed from there. We arrived at our connection in D.C. an hour and a half earlier than expected. Only to find that because of storms our flight would eventually be totally cancelled for the day. Our 6:30 pm arrival home turned into a noon arrival THE NEXT DAY. So, perhaps not total perfection. But close enough!

Friday, August 5, 2011


True to my summer form, I'm a bit behind.

We celebrated Quinn's second *Gotcha Day* on Tuesday, July 26. If you are unfamiliar with the adoption world, Gotcha Day is traditionally celebrated on the day that you met your child. Since so many Internationally adopted children have an unknown birthday, Gotcha Day is their special day that can be accompanied with their own story.

And boy do we have a story. Two years ago, Steve and I travelled to Xi'an, China to meet our son. My best friend, Lisa, and her husband, Gary, were living in China at the time and were able to take the train to be with us for a few days when we met Quinn. That was a total gift in and of itself. Not to mention, Quinn's Gotcha Day is also Lisa's birthday. In China, that's called double happiness.

Honestly, the few hours leading up to meeting Quinn were some of the most nerve wracking of my life (well, up until cancer.)

We were taken to a government building where we waited for his orphanage to bring him on a van. Thanks to the bird flu foreigners were unable to go orphanages. We waited outside of an elevator on the 6th floor for about a half hour (glamorous, right?) Every time the elevator door opened, I nearly had a heart attack.

They finally opened with Quinn in his care taker's arms. A butter ball of a boy wearing a Green Bay Packers corduroy jump suit (in the middle of July). You know I could hardly WAIT to get that kid back to the hotel and put some Gymboree on him.

The initial meeting didn't go so great. Quinn cried and carried on (as expected) for about a half hour. That is, until we gave him a sucker. And to this day, the kid loves him some sugar. Snap, he IS my kid. Initially, he took to Steve more than me. Soon he preferred me. Then, both of us. He protested by not drinking anything for 24 hours, which sent me into a panic. He hoarded food in his cheeks for a few days. But eventually, he decided he liked us.

Since then, he's never looked back. And neither have we.

I can't imagine life without Quinn. He is smart. A clown. An extrovert. A talker. Cautious. A lover. Stubborn. Clever. Generous. Relentless.

Each year we go out to eat for some Chinese food. The waitresses love him. We look at his baby book (can you believe his orphanage made him one?) and watch his Gotcha Day video.

It is hard to imagine what life for Quinn would have been like in China.

It is hard to imagine what our lives would be like without him.

I'm sad for the family and friends that have missed out on his presence back there. But I am thankful that their loss is our gain. Thank you, Jesus, for blessing us with Quinn Jian Koproski!