Saturday, September 26, 2015

What's the Big Deal About 16 Months?

Nope.  I don't want to walk yet.

This little cutie pie is now 16 months old, which seems like a fairly random age to become fixated upon. 

She seems like she has has always been here.  I know her quirks.  I can anticipate her reactions.  I have been able to watch her grow, learn, struggle, change, and thrive.

Sixteen months is also the age Levi was when he came home.  He seemed so old when we met him because we had nothing more than a couple of very outdated pictures to last us from referral till travel.   The pictures showed a baby.  We adopted a toddler.  We never had the gradual sense of him leaving babyhood and entering into the young boy stage.

The sweet boy we are adopting from China (I can't publicly reveal many details yet until we are further along in the process) has just hit the milestone of 19 months old.  So while I watch Juliet grow, I know that our newest one is doing his own awesome, remarkable, amazing toddler tricks.  I just don't know who is there to cheer him on. 

We continue the adoption paperwork avalanche, but can only move along as quickly as everyone else processing the things we submit.   We anticipate a late Spring or early Summer adoption trip - which doesn't seem nearly soon enough.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

My Shameful Music Collection

Let me start this post by admitting I am hopelessly uncool when it comes to music.  I will share some of my musical vices and you may giggle out loud, if you so choose.  But, I imagine even the biggest music buffs out there (a group to which I do not belong) like some pretty lame music in a completely un-ironic way.  They just don't admit it. 

I am a fan of records, and not just those perpetually cool albums that you can name-drop in a conversation and immediately have an aura of awesomeness around you.  Fortunately, I have given up on being cool a long time ago and I am pretty content with being authentically me instead. 

I realize that I prefer to pick my albums using the same criteria I use to pick out wine.

1.  Cheapness.  I am a fan of discount booze like I am a fan Goodwill records.  You don't need to invest a lot of money to bring a lot of joy.

4.  Novelty.  Since I don't have a refined palate for either music or alcohol, I am able to appreciate a lot of mediocre content.  My standards aren't impossibly high because I don't have the skill set to recognize the flaws anyway.  If the wine or album were the best ever made, they wouldn't be in the discount bin, would they?  I can appreciate it for what it is and not expect perfection.  My expectations are sufficiently low for me to be happy with nearly every purchase.

3.  Fun pictures.  You bet I pick out wine that has an interesting label, and most of my record selections were based on cover art. An amazingly, awesomely bad cover art is my favorite.

4.  Variety.  Its nice to have a beverage and music for any mood.  Sometimes I want sad, old country.  Sometimes polkas, or marching bands, or hymns, or show tunes.  Sometimes something a little royal like Carole King, Nat King Cole or Elvis (the King of Rock).

Here are some "highlights" of my collection:

The Hair.  Oh, the 70's Hair.  John Schneider (aka Bo Duke from the Dukes of Hazzard) was my first crush ever.  Unfortunately, the album cover is about the only redeeming quality to this purchase.  Once in a lifetime was enough to listen to the record.  But that feathered hair is enough to warrant a place of honor in my record collection.

Scary clown.  Applique Lee brand jeans.  Menacing bull.  And song lyrics like this to haunt your nightmares:  I could ride 'em all the bulls and the broncos knew I was boss
But the ride that woman took me on
Broke a whole lot more than this ole cowboy's bones
While the tears on my make-up melts my painted smile into a frown
The crowd thinks I'm a dandy I'm Bandy the rodeo clown. 

Alvin and crew sing Bette Davis Eyes, Whip It, Queen of Hearts, etc.  I love my children.  A lot. 

I like Dixie music so I probably would have gotten this record even without the awesome cover.  The emotion of the trombone player makes me regret my decision to play clarinet (although he's rocking out as well.).  Drummer looks like he lost something - or maybe he is just showing off that strong profile.  It is hard enough for a Baritone to get respect, but do they really need to have him turned the wrong way?  I'm not sure who the creepy guy is behind the trombone player.  Maybe a groupie?  Banjo Guy's fake smile is hiding the fact that he is crouched, ready to pounce on unsuspecting Drummer and steal his coveted plaid coat.  You know Trumpet planned the album cover as a way to impress the ladies with his suave, soulful stance.

With that expression, he looks like Columbo ready to solve the Case of the Harmonica Murder. 

Who thinks Polka music isn't fun?  This group's claim to fame is that they played at the Nebraska State Fair 26 years in a row.  Oh, and there were a lot more than six people in the actual band.  And they weren't all fat.

I'm got some Norwegian heritage, so I took a chance on this album.  I've come to the conclusion that everything sounds nice in Norwegian.  This could be an album full of tragedy, insults, or curse words and I wouldn't really care because it sounds so pleasant.

My children sometimes ask to listen to the "Scary Guy" music.  Bach is actually so lovely, that I find it ironic to have such a severe composer on the cover with children in various states of fear.  The back cover has several more choir-robed children in near tears.

I have decided to have eight children just to form a band like this.  I intend to create the ultimate bouffant for myself and replicate the groovy seventies hair and clothes for the rest of my family.  We will magically acquire musical talent and fund the children's college educations with proceeds from our road tour.

I enjoy classical music.  I enjoy classical music performed by an orchestra of Robin Hood clad musicians immensely more.

My forays into thrift store music have provide me with the following data regarding genre of albums:  33% are show tunes.  33% are Christmas albums.  33% are a combination of Barry Manilow and Linda Ronstadt albums.  The remaining 1% make up all the other music styles and artist.  This particular Christmas album set itself apart by the cover musician's ability to play mariachi-style Christmas music with mittens on.
You don't have to be a pre-teen boy to recognize the humor of a conductor named "Whoopee Will Fart".  I mean Wilfahrt.  And there are Hummel figurines making out on the cover.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Home Study Visits - Done

We had our final home study visit (assuming we get our official home study approval shortly).  For those who have traveled this path already, you know the giant sense of relief that comes from completing this step.  For the uninitiated, let me give you a snapshot of this particular tribulation.

Imagine, if you would, that you are hosting a guest in your home.  Imagine that this guest will inspect every room in your home.  Then imagine that this guest gets to decide if you are awesome enough to parent a child. 

That is the joy of a home study.

Well, that is not actually how it goes, but that is how it feels.  In actuality, the social workers we have had have all been lovely people.  That doesn't prevent the panic from setting in a couple of weeks before the visit.

The problem is that I know everyone else goes cleaning crazy for home study visits.  If I didn't, I imagine the social worker thinking, "Is this as good as it gets after mandatory-reporter level cleaning?"

Why don't all adoptive parents make a pact that they will only wash a few dishes and scrub the bathroom before their home study visit so we are all on the same playing field.  Then I won't feel a compulsion to Martha Stewartize my home before the social worker comes.  Who am I kidding?  You can't Martha a home with seven kids in it.  But you know I'm going to try.

Let's be clear.  My home is not Hoarders-worthy.  In the last hour before company comes over, I usually resort to a frantically shouted, "Just throw that in my bedroom and close the door." with the spare odds and ends that just hadn't gotten put away.  If I invite you over, you can count on me being sweaty and slightly out of breath when I answer the door due to my last minute tidying.  That just doesn't cut it when the social worker looks in your bedroom.  And office.  And laundry room.  And playroom...

Just getting all caught up with laundry should have been a laudable enough goal. 

Instead I organized all the crafting supplies.  I purged bags of clothing.  I replaced all my dead plants.  I painted furniture, people.  

I even cleaned my closet, even though home study visits don't involve looking through closets or drawers.  That is what home study neuroses will do to a girl.

And if that wasn't enough, I baked some pretty awesome cookies and pulled them out of the oven five minutes before the social worker pulled in front of the house. 

Do you want to know how long the home tour took?  Less than three minutes. 

When I came home from a meeting later that night, there was no hiding the fact that seven little people live in this house. 

Fortunately, even if adoptive parents forget in the haze of Windex and Soft Scrub, home visits are not there to assess if your home could be featured in a decorating magazine.  They are there to assess if you would be a good family for a child who needs one.  They want you to succeed.  They don't want to judge a stray sock or a Lego piece on the floor (Unless they stepped on it - those things hurt like the devil.)