Thursday, April 30, 2009

Texas Bluebonnets 2009

My Bluebonnet pictures didn't go so well this year. I ended up with shadows on MM face in most of them. I did try taking pictures from all different directions, but somehow I just didn't do good this year.

There also weren't as many flowers out behind the dam this year. I was really surprised since there were so many last year.

We also went later in the season, which means the grass and weeds had grown up pretty tall all in and around the flowers. This makes the flowers stand out less. Note to self - go as soon as they come up!

Love the above shot. It is so Mighty Mouse. Always thinking about something...and trying to decide wether she is going to co-operate or not.
Surprise pose. She started cheering in the middle of the shot. Turned out cute.

Sigh. This kid is just too beautiful. And pensive. Can't wait to see what she is like as an adult.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Autumn Asks: Have You Ever Been to Antigua?

I'd love to go visit this island. I love beaches and laid back communities. They have 365 beaches on this and the neighboring islands. This means the beaches are not overcrowded even though Antigua is on almost every cruise ship stop in the Caribbean. Speaking of cruises...would love to go on one. Sigh.

• Ethnicity: As opposed to other Caribbean Islands that are ethnically diverse, Antigua and Barbuda’s inhabitants are mostly descendants of the African Slaves that the British brought to the islands to work in the Sugar plantations. This African Influence can be seen in many aspects of the islands daily living.
• Language: English is the official language of the nation, but Creole is widely spoken in the islands. Antiguan Creole includes many words and sayings that trace their origin direct from Africa.
• Religions: Because of the British influence on Antigua's culture, the majority of people on the island are Christians, and the official religion is Anglican. However, several other religions are practiced on the island including Catholicism, Islam, Bahai, and Rastafarianism.

So while we are here, why don't we park our luggage at a hotel on the beach....

Or a cute little cabin.

Then we can take in some activities that the island has to offer....

like snorkeling....

and other water sports....

Or a boat ride...

If you aren't up to much, we can always go for a walk on any number of beaches in the area.

Later we can walk into town and take in the local color.

I'm sure while we are there we will run across many interesting things to photograph.

We can enjoy the local culture.

And fall in love with the children.

And of course enjoy the food. I hear they have a pineapple native to the island that is very good. I love pineapple. The Antiguan Beef Stew is supposed to be devine also.

All too soon it will be time to pack our suitcases back up and return home. To the dishes. And the laundry. And the schedule.

But the blue skies and crystal clear waters will remain in our minds....for the days when Calgon just isn't enough.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Autumn Asks: Are You Living Your Dream?

You think I'm crazy for asking that, don't you?

How could we possibly be living our dream when we are up to our elbows in dishes and laundry? And snotty noses. And bad reports from teachers/care givers? And screaming sibling fights? And not enough money to make a trip to the store before payday because _____ happened. Or cars that break down and wipe out the _______ fund you had been working so hard on?

So what is your dream? Or what was your dream?

My dream was to find the perfect man for me, have a family and stay at home with my kids. Now, I didn't think this would happen until I was into my 30's at least. I didn't have a career path I wanted to follow in the mean time. Totally at a loss there - I just knew I was DONE with school and college was not in the least not right away. Long story of multiple moves and schools and the challenges therein.

So I shocked the snot out of everyone by getting married at 19. Trust me, no one was more shocked than I was. It wasn't supposed to happen that way.

Three years later we had our first child. Then, after six years of intense badgering I agreed to a second child. Then 10 years later we adopted a third child. Sure didn't predict that one. I thought 4 kids, right on top of each other would be perfect. That is so NOT my personality. I love being mom to my three only children....and I can't imagine surviving four at once. I guess I walk to a different drummer on that front. And it works for me and makes me very happy.

So I already have my dream. I am married to the only man on the face of this earth that could live with me and survive. I have 3 great kids. I get to stay at home and be a mom to my kids -- which was very important to me as I hated being in daycare/babysitting while my mom worked as I was growing up.

I also HAVE to eat rice and beans sometimes. I scrimp and save to pay off all our debt. I can't always participate or help out on projects because of limited funds. There are many things I'd like to do but can't.

And it doesn't matter. I'm still living my dream.


When we first moved here and bought our home I was rather unhappy with it. It doesn't have any personality at all. It's a box. But its a 4 bedroom box with a mortgage that we can afford. And it was brand new (never again please Lord!).

Now that we have spent the last 9 months or so living on a written budget and knocking out debt, I've come to love my house also. Why? I think its because we have simplified our living to the point that our priorities have really changed. And that feels good.

I can actually see myself living in this little box for the rest of my life. Who would have thought? And this is rather dangerous thinking as we have no idea what happens 2 years from now. Will dh retire and find a job in this area? Will he make chief and decide to stay in and retire at 30 years of service?

I don't know.

And its still okay.

Because I'm still living my dream.

And for the longest time I didn't even realize it.

How about you?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Autumn Asks: How Earth Friendly Are You?

So its Earth Day. I notice in our town there are several places that are giving away free reusable shopping bags. One store has the newer type light bulbs on sale for a killer price (yet they are full of mercury so how earth friendly are they really???). The retailers are really jumping on this bandwagon this year.

And its a good thing.

I think the whole economy mess and most people living on less has made this a little more important in the eyes of the masses. Not that we didn't care before...but when you start to simplify more you become more aware of the damages you are more than just your credit.

Earth Day has never been a huge deal to us. Okay...and it still isn't. It is important, but I get turned off pretty easy by the people screaming about how we are killing mother earth. You know, the ones having a naked protest down by the courthouse?
I do believe we are suposed to be good stewards of our planet. I think more of us are becoming aware of the fact that we can ignore the radicals that tell you all the things we need to do. Like live in mud huts...or caves.
Eat only sprouts and beans.
Use hay for toilet paper.
Because if we aren't doing all of these things...well, we are just the devil.

I hope we are becoming more aware that we can make one change. And that is good. We aren't terrible if we only made ONE change. The mother earth police might come after us and tell us how bad we are....but hey, we made ONE change.

And one normally leads to another.

Then, before you know it, you are doing all kinds of little things that are adding up. And this is GOOD. Even if we still use airplanes.

And eat meat.
And don't have a brick in our toilet tank.

And wear leather and fur.

And own a SUV.

So, for this year, I decided to take a look at our family and see what kinds of changes we have made to be better stewards of our planet. I'm sure they are not extra extensive. And I'm not interested in the mother earth police critisim on all that I'm not doing. Because I am doing SOMETHING. Next year, I will be something else also.

But just to be clear. I DO NOT hug trees. Not even during hide-and-seek.

Our changes:

1. Making our laundry soap. Leaving the chemical overload behind. Much cheaper. To date I am happy with the cleaning power....but I reserve the right to change my mind on that in 6 months. Less pollution of water sources.

2. The expensive light bulbs. But I read they have mercury so I'm really not sure if this is better. My light bill is better...but where are we supposed to dispose of the burn-outs???

3. Plant a few veggies or other food. Cuts down on our grocery bill AND we aren't adding to the burning of fossil fuels that transport food. I never though of this before reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Reusable grocery bags. Wait - big fail on this one. I have them. I forget to put them in the car. Or, if I carry them in the car I forget to take them into the store. And I'm telling you, in this town I get dirty looks for throwing them up there for the baggers. Why is that?

5. We use cloth napkins instead of paper.

It's not much. But it is something.

How about you? Have you made changes due to the economy that have in turn benefited our planet?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Autumn Asks: How Does Your Kindergartener Rate?

I like to read the blog of another adoptive mother called Our Little Tongginator. This week she had a post called Life Ala Tongginator. She ran across one of those lists of things you should do...

This time it was 100 Things To Do Before Kindergarten.

I wondered how Mighty Mouse would fare on this list so here it is:

1. Go to the zoo: Omaha was the best, but Waco's is really not bad.

2. Visit a farm -Arbor Day and Pumpkin farms.

3. Go on a hike - With all the sight seeing we do on vacations this is a yes. But it was never just jump in the car and go hike. And she gets to hike around in the carrier on dad's back. What a chore.
4. Play with kittens or puppies - I want to say yes but I have no clear memory of this.

5. Catch a frog - our back yard. And how about petting an alligator?
6. Make a gigantic mess -- And it looks even worse right now. I have refused to go in there for 3 weeks. I'm on strike.

7. Help clean up a gigantic mess - if you want to call it that.

8. Master the monkey-bars -nope

9. Swing high up into the sky all by themselves -Nope = powered by mom
10. Try ice-skating -- no

11. Go sledding --yes

12. Make a snow-man - yes

13. Blow bubbles --
14. Plant seeds and watch them grow --

15. Have a pillow fight -- I hope not.

16. Jump on a big bed -- All.The.Time. Not allowed.

17. Jump on a trampoline or in a bounce house -
18. Hang out in a tent -- Yes. Hope to go camping again soon as its been a couple of years.

19. Spend days at the beach --
20. Build sandcastles --
21. Go fishing -- No

22. Go out on a boat -- Not sure. I think so but it could be the other kids that I KNOW have.

23. Play with blocks and puzzles -- all the time

24. Read the classic picture books- all the time

25. Read a classic chapter book --not yet

26. Check out library books with their own library card -- only on mommy's card

27. Get a passport --
28. Carve a pumpkin -- I think so.

29. Hold a newborn baby (to see how much they've grown) --No

30. Love a special doll or stuffed animal -- Does a blanket count??? It's a serious love affair. I have 6 of them to ensure life stays sane.

31. Bake cookies and cakes - her favorite. She always help make her own Birthday cake - she is sure that is some kind of rule or something.

32. Help plan their own birthday party -- she wishes, she tries

33. Go to the circus -- No - she doesn't like loud noises so this kind of thing is out.

34. Go to a museum on a quiet weekday -- Many times, many cities, many states.
35. Play hide-and-seek -- Every day for the last 4 years. If I'm out of sight, she's seeking.
36. Play a board game -- yes

37. Do nothing whatsoever all day -- as often as possible

38. Try a sport -- Does miniture golf count?? She can play the heck out of some mini-golf.
39. Watch a sporting event -- does track count?

40. Learn to swim -- Although she does not know HOW to swim, we can't keep her out of the water.
41. Be tickled in hysterics -- From day 1

42. Paint and draw as much as desired --
43. Have the use of scissors and glue -- yes
44. Display artworks and other creations around the house -- and everyone else's house she can get her hands on.

45. Learn to use a camera (and keep an album of the results!) -- no

46. Play with clay -- She likes playdough better. Not sure why.
47. Pick flowers -- Blue Bonnets and Primrose every spring in Texas.

48. Climb a tree -- Don't think so.

49. Gaze at the moon and stars -- yes

50. Toast marshmallows -- yes - when camping and at a friend's with a fire pit in the back yard

51. Learn to eat an ice-cream cone - no

52. Watch a sunset- she has no interest, I've tried

53. Learn to write her own name -- yes

54. Learn her address and telephone number -- no

55. Learn her parents' full names -- yes

56. Set the table -- helps

57. Clear the table -- helps

58. Help wash the dishes -- when we will let her - NOT helpful

59. Learn to say their pleases and thank yous and excuse mes --yes

60. Watch fireworks -- no - she doesn't like loud noises

61. Go to the ballet or theater or a puppet show -- only in small, quiet locations

62. Put on a ballet or play or puppet show at home --

63. Face paint -- a favorite

64. Dress up in costumes at will -
65. Learn rhymes and poems and songs by heart -- mostly Bible school stuff

66. Have a dance party -- yes

67. Enjoy friends at preschool and at the park -- preschool no, park yes

68. Invite friends over to play -- Her first play buddy was An-Ling. We really miss her!
69. Get to know grandparents -- Yes.

70. Play with cousins -- Yes.

71. Become attached to a wonderful preschool teacher and/or babysitter - no. Has only tolerated babysitters, church, etc for just over a year.

72. Learn the name of our president - no

73. Know the name of their town, state and country -yes and China too

74. Be familiar with a map of the world.- sort of

75. Listen to music from many different ages and genres -- yes

76. Hear and learn words from a different language -- yes (Chinese)

77. Learn the difference between trash and recycling -- yes

78. Grow their own vegetables -- currently doing so

79. Learn to ride a bike (or try!) - with trainging wheels only.
80. Take a road trip -- too many to count!! South Dakato was really fun!

81. Draw a self-portrait - always

82. Slurp alphabet soup- NO , bad manners

83. Learn to twirl spaghetti on a fork - I wish she would eat spaghetti.

84. Pick apples

85. Star in a home movie - from day 1

86. Learn a magic trick - Stealing the hearts of mommy and daddy at first sight.

87. Try different hair-dos - Well, that requires hair. Hair is a rather new arrival on our scene.
88. Practice writing letters - yes

89. Practice counting to 100 - not that high

90. Make up stories - all the time

91. Send a letter - tried

92. Receive a letter -- Yes. From her Nano and the orphanage director in China

93. Ride on a merry-go-round - don't think so but maybe

94. Give away toys and books to less fortunate children -yes

95. Learn the value of coins and bills - no - its all just money

96. Keep a piggy bank -yes

97. Try a musical instrument

98. Have a heartfelt wish granted -If having a family after being in an orphanage counts.

99. Have a heartfelt wish denied -- For her grandfather to get well.

100. Receive a million (make that a billion) heartfelt kisses and hugs from their parents! -- YOU KNOW IT!! Just look at those lips!