Thursday, February 24, 2011


So we settled into the Spring of 2009, waiting for Miss Marley’s arrival in June. We got Marley’s room ready, we spent extra time with the boys and began shopping (finally) for pink clothes. As a little girl myself, my parents’ nickname for me had been ladybug. I always liked that nickname, and always loved ladybugs. In fact, one year in the not too distant past, upon Pete learning of my childhood nickname and my affection for it, he got me for Christmas a beautiful charm bracelet with tiny, adorable ladybugs on it!

So when coming upon a tiny, newborn onesie in pink, with tiny, red ladybugs on it, I quickly snatched it up for Marley’s “coming home” outfit. I brought it home, eager to show it off to Pete. He, of course, thought it was precious; Alex, however, had a different idea. Alex took one look at it, grabbed it from me for a closer inspection, looked up at me as if I had lost my mind entirely, and informed me, “Dat’s not ladybugs, Mommy! Dem’s COCKROACHES! Don’t put my baby sister in cockroaches!”


Anyways, the hilarity while waiting for Marley didn’t end there. An episode occurred with Austin one evening that we still laugh out loud about to this day. One evening, all of us were in the den watching Animal Planet. The boys were roughhousing about, occasionally watching what was on the TV, but for the most part, just being boys....bumping, hitting, pinching, squeaking, squalling, carrying on, stealing toys from one another...until Austin looked up at one point and notice what was on TV. I don’t remember the name of the show, but this particular episode was about a momma cow, giving birth to a calf. It was very realistic and fairly graphic. It showed the farmers and vets all around in the barn....the momma cow laying down in the hay, and by the sounds coming out of the momma cow, she was in heavy labor. Austin stopped his horseplay, and began intensely watching the TV. The momma cow kept bellowing, in pain that I, as a “different kind of labor” pain-free adoptive mother, can only imagine. I’m not much of one to watch any television depicting any type of suffering, animal or human. Give me a sit-com any time. I started to tell Pete to change channels, but Austin hollered out, “No! No!” The calf was coming, the vets and farmers were helping momma cow, and Austin, spellbound, got up from the floor where he had been playing with his brothers, and, mesmerized, began walking towards the television set. His eyes were bugged out. He dropped his toy dinosaur. He continued on towards the television, never taking his eyes off the momma cow. The den got quiet as we all watched Austin’s progress towards the TV, the only sounds now being the sounds of the momma cow, the human on the show, and....finally, the newborn baby calf! Austin was, by now, standing right in front of the TV, his right hand out and touching the screen where the baby calf lay in the hay, between it’s momma’s hind legs. Austin’s never moved a muscle, never took his eyes off, never said a word. The vets/farmers were now beginning to check over and clean up the baby calf, and, eventually got the calf up on its feet. Austin.....still entranced. The baby calf began to nurse at it’s momma. Austin....fascinated. The baby calf nursed for a short while, then pulled away, and nestled with it’s momma for a bit, then went back to nursing. Austin, this entire time, has not moved a muscle, has not said a word, has not even blinked his eyes! Just standing there, hand out touching the TV screen, just overwhelmed by the miracle of birth, of a baby cow. Then, as the scene began to close and the camera was pulling away, taking in the larger scene with the vets and farmers and other people, the barn, the other cows, and just farm life in general, Austin, apparently finding his voice, finally, leaned his head back....way back, puckered up his lips, took a deep breath, and let out the loudest, longest, most passionate, heartfelt “MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” any human being has ever uttered. No cow ever has anything in our Austin. His alter ego was born.

Pete and I laughed until we actually cried, watching this whole thing play out.

Even funnier was about two weeks later, when they had “Zoo Day” at his pre-K, and upon picking up Austin from school, his teacher told us, “Ya know, Austin was just thrilled by the cows. And as a matter of fact, whenever we have play/pretend time, Austin is always our best cow. He can “moo” louder and longer than any of the other kids. He always insists on playing the cow!”

The teacher looked at us like we’d lost our minds when we both cracked up laughing hard enough to cry. And even to this day, almost two years later, whenever we’re out with the kids traveling and pass a field of cows, or even when we’re anywhere, reading a book with a cow in the storyline, Austin can always be counted on to reinvent his inner cow, bringing both of us to tears with laughter....the best kind.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Thomas the Train

One of the funniest things I think I have ever seen, happened in early 2009. I don't know when I have ever laughed so hard, either before or since (well, except maybe for the Alex potty training talk) .

It began with Christmas. The boys each got a tiny, battery-operated Thomas the Tank Engine in their Christmas stocking. You just insert one AA battery, close the compartment, flip the switch to "ON" and off he goes! The boys had great fun with them. They love to run Thomas over everything: the floor, the table, their arms, the sofa, the kitchen counter tops...anywhere with a flat (or near flat) surface.

One afternoon, their father was watching TV while home with the boys. Austin came running up to his daddy from the play room and hollered, "Daddy! Watch Thomas!" and proceeded to put Thomas, with his tiny little battery-operated wheels just a-chugging along, on the top of his daddy's head. Tiny little Thomas the Tank Engine proceeded across the top of hubs' head, and the tiny little wheels proceeded to swirl, spin and twist up the very few hairs that still claim residence on Pete's head. Before Austin or Pete could do anything, Thomas was locked up tighter than a drum, with his little train wheels just a-spinnin', twirling those few hairs tighter and tighter, and the little plastic wheels digging deeper and deeper into Pete's scalp.

Pete immediately reached up to grab the offending Thomas off of his head, but Thomas was stuck! Oh, so stuck! Pete pulled and tugged, but that train was on the tracks to nowhere! He managed to switch the on/off switch to OFF, but he could not get the train off of his head! Those four little wheels had twirled up his hair all the way to the root! (For those of you who have never seen Pete, his is...shall we say...of a certain mature age, and his hair is...shall be say...thinning! And for those of you who don't know Pete very well, he is...shall we say...very vain about his hair. Every trip to the barber, he swears THIS IS THE TIME I CUT IT ALL OFF AND JUST EMBRACE BEING BALD! Or not. Each time, he comes home with a perm AND a dye job, trying his best to hold off looking like a monkey's behind.) Had this happened to me, no sweat. I have long hair, thick hair and lots of hair, so one quick snip of the scissors and back to business it would be for me. For Pete, not so much.

The image of Pete with Thomas the Train stuck to his head is funny enough. The first thing that really cracks me up is that the train was not sitting flat, on top of his head....rather, Thomas had begun his run in the center of Pete's scalp, and ended his route sort of at the curve of his skull, above his right eye. The second thing that was so funny was this whole episode happened to poor Pete, early in the day! So he spent most of that entire day with Thomas the Tank Engine stuck to his scalp! Luckily, it was not a school day for the kids, but it was a work day for me, and Pete had to remain with the train on his head, for hours and hours. Get up to fix the kids' lunch? Thomas went along. Go outside to play with the kids....Thomas went, too. Off to the potty? Thomas followed. I'm sure there were errands to run that the very least, checking the mail. But Pete refused to leave the house, embarrassed to be seen with a small, battery operated child's toy, stuck to his head.

So I got home after work that evening, and there Pete sat, in the den, with the news on, the boys jumping, chasing and chattering all around him like rabid little monkeys, and Thomas, right on top. At first, as I approached, I thought one of the kids had placed it there, as in JUST PLACED IT THERE, and that it would fall off Pete's head with the first time Pete moved. But he sat there, lazily rocking back and forth in his recliner, turning his head to pick up his Diet Coke can, and even bending over once to pick up little Andrew, who had fallen to the ground while playing. And when Pete rose back up holding Andrew, and then turned around after spotting me coming in the den, Thomas rose back up and turned with him. I thought...I must be seeing things....that is NOT a Thomas the Tank Engine on my husband's head. But going up to hubby for a smooch, I reached up and raised my hand to take Thomas down, and "JEEZ! WOMAN! STOP!" were the next words out of Pete's mouth.

Because, well, you know, doesn't every woman know better than to try to take Thomas the Train off of her husband's head after a long day of being a stay at home dad?

"Um, Pete, what's up with Thomas? New style that I'm not hip to scene about yet?"

"Ask Austin."

"Oh. 'Nuff said."

"Well, can you get some scissors and cut this thing out? I've tried and I can't get my head bent in the right position to see where to cut."

(Muffled laughter). "Alright, but how long have you"

"Almost all day."

"You mean, you've been all day, coming and going...with Thomas stuck to your head?"

"No, I haven't GONE anywhere. Do I look stoopid?"

"Well, actually, yes you do."

"Hush up and get the scissors."

So I did. And let me tell you, those measly few hairs were turned around tight. And I could see that in the position Thomas was in, on top of Pete's head, that he couldn't bend and see and clip, all at the same time. There were even faint track marks still in his scalp from Thomas' wheels turning against his scalp, before he managed to get the switch turned off.

So I went after the scissors. The boys began dancing around their daddy, pointing and laughing. As I turned back to Pete, it really did strike me as hysterically funny. Grown man spent the day with Thomas the Train stuck to his skull. I pictured him going about his day, running errands, greeting people, tending to business, all with a small train on his head. I started laughing so hard I cried. I literally cried tears of laughter. Poor Pete just looked so funny.

I tried to cut away his hair from the wheels. But his hair was/is so short, and the wheels had turned so tight, there was no wiggle room to fenagle the scissors in to cut! I tried moving Thomas, but he just grinned at me with his cute blue face, happy to remain where he was. I tried simply yanking the train out, but Pete is really tender-headed, and I feared ripping an entire patch of his scalp out, leaving a raw, bloody cranium exposed. I tried to be serious about this matter, but I just kept laughing and laughing. I begged Pete to let me take a picture, but he would not let me. The kids were all laughing by this point. I imagined having to go to the emergency room, or, at least, an urgent care center. But Pete was already mortified enough...he refused to go to be a laughing stock for complete strangers. Best to keep it at home, and be a laughing stock amongst your own family.

Eventually, I did manage to slip one end of the scissors into just the right spot to be able to cut loose one hair. That, in turn, loosened up the other end of Thomas enough to be able to slip the scissors in and cut a second hair loose...and so on, and so on, and so on, until finally, after hours spent with Thomas stuck to his head, Pete was free.

I had not laughed that hard in I don't know when. Thomas, however, found no humor in being sent in the sack to Goodwill. Bon Voyage, Thomas!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Back again

What can I just keeps happening to me and around me. Back in the saddle again.

Well, after the police incident that began the year 2009 for our family, things kept hopping. The month of January alone contains birthdays for my mom, my dad, Adrian, me, my Aunt Nell and Casey (Andrew's birth mother). Everyone forgot mine that year, except my office mates, and that's probably just because our Outlook program sends out reminders of birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

February brought Austin's second birthday, which fell on a Friday and we celebrated a family party by going to Hungry Howie's pizza buffet for dinner. It went pretty well...considering that towards the end of our dinner, a local boys soccer team came in for dinner...about 9 or 10 boys in all...and our 3 little ones gave those 9 or 10 much older boys a real run for their money when it came to noise and mess. So much so that upon our leaving, one of the coaches commented to me that it looks and sounds like I have my own soccer team in the making!

And because just one celebration is not enough for my boys, we had a "party at the park" for Austin in March. We invited Austin's friends from school and Sunday School, as well as family and some friends. It was a great, cake, and a SpongeBob cake and pinata. Austin so loved the cake, he didn't want to eat it...just kept playing with the SpongeBob and Squidward candleholders they had.

March 31st brought exciting news. Very exciting news. We received a call from the attorney's office where we had placed our latest homestudy and adoption profile back in October of 2008. They had a birth mother, expecting a baby girl, that they would like to present us to! They gave us more details and asked us if we were interested. Interested? Heck, yeah! Present away! On March 31st, we received the news: we had been chosen by this birth mother to adopt her baby girl, due later in the summer! Time to shop for pink, finally!

Tax time was fast approaching, and that meant pressure, pressure, pressure for me at work. Our first meeting with our birth mother didn't occur until after April 15. When we finally did get to meet her, we got to meet her mother, as well. I was surprised when I met her, as she was tiny, especially for someone 7 months pregnant. You really could not tell she was pregnant at all. She was short and stick thin. I felt like the world's biggest galoot next to her. I looked more pregnant than she did.

The meeting went well. At one point, she asked what we planned to name the baby. We told her Marley, and then told her the story behind the name (that we were huge Bob Marley fans. Also, how back in the 90s, when we were romantically looking ahead at our future life of marriage and kids, and we picked the name Marley while eating dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant, our fortune cookie after the meal read "Your life will be made blessed by children"). How's that for a run-on sentence? That fortune, by the way, is now pasted in Marley's baby book. Our birth mother and her mother both teared up at that story. She then commented, "That's not a name". I, thinking she meant that she did not like the name Marley, replied, "Yes, it is...maybe not a common one, but it's a name." She replied back, "No, I just thought you'd pick a name beginning with "A", like all your boys". I, now feeling like not only a big galoot, but also a stupid one, realized that she had said "that's not an 'A' name", not "that's not a name". She kept tearing up...her mother, as well. My heart sunk. What if she thought I was hearing impaired, or stupid, or both?

An uncomfortable silence followed. I did not know what to say, because apparently, I was an idiot. She then looked up at me and told us her story. She said all her life, as a little girl and a young woman, she always thought that when she grew up and had a daughter, she would name her "Marlea" after her favorite aunt, Margaret, and her mother, Lea. So us having years ago chosen the name Marley, confirmed to her, in every possible way, that her baby girl was meant to be our daughter. At that point, all of us at the table were now crying. A lifelong bond was being formed. We all felt an indescribable blessing covering us. We couldn't wait for Miss Marley to join in.