Friday, October 31, 2008

Interesting Analogy

Different Trips to the Same Place

Deciding to have a baby is like planning a trip to Australia. You've heard it's a wonderful place. You've read many guidebooks and feel certain you're ready to go. Everyone you know has traveled there by plane. They say it can be a turbulent flight with occasional rough landings, but you can look forward to being pampered on the trip.

So you go to the airport and ask the ticket agent for a ticket toAustralia. All around you, excited people are boarding planes for Australia. It seems there is no seat for you; you'll have to wait for the next flight. Impatient, but anticipating a wonderful trip, you wait-and wait- and wait.

Flights to Australia continue to come and go. People say sillythings like, "Relax. You'll get on a flight soon." Other peopleactually get on a plane and then cancel their trip, to which you cry, "It's not fair."


After a long time the ticket agent tells you, "I'm sorry, we're not going to be able to get you on a plane to Australia. Perhaps you should think about going by boat." "By Boat!" you say, "Going by boat will take a very long time and costs a great deal of money. I really had my heart set on going by plane."

So you go home and think about not going to Australia at all. You wonder if Australia will be as beautiful if you approach it by sea rather than air. But you have long dreamed of this wonderful place, and finally you decide to travel by boat.

It is a long trip, many months over many rough seas. No one pampers you. You wonder if you will ever see Australia. Meanwhile, your friends have flown back and forth to Australia two or three times, marveling about each trip.

Then one glorious day, the boat docks in Australia. It is more exquisite that you ever imagined, and the beauty is magnified by your long days at sea. You have made many wonderful friends during your voyage, and you find yourself comparing stories with others who also traveled by sea rather than by air.

People continue to fly to Australia as often as they like, but you are able to travel only once, perhaps twice. Some say things like, "Oh be glad you didn't fly. My flight was horrible, traveling by sea is so easy.

"You will always wonder what it would have been like to fly to Australia. Still, you know your blessed with a special appreciation of Australia, and the beauty of Australia is not in the way you get there, but in the place itself.

~ Author unknown

New Camera!

Yesterday we were at Target and decided to look at their cameras. My sister graciously loaned us her old one, but it only had 48mb of memory sticks. We also just wanted a new one to have since we like to take pictures of the little buddy and will definitely be taking pictures of our new baby buddy!

One problem we were having with our old camera (which was over 7 years old!) was how dark the pictures were coming out. They would look okay on the screen, but once I downloaded them onto the computer, they were very dark. With our little mocha man, that just wasn't working so well.

The worker at Target talked to us about the ISO on the cameras and explained how it made a huge difference in the lighting. I'd never even heard of the ISO, so I'm really glad that we talked to the person. They had one at Target that we liked, but it was a little bit more than we wanted to spend.

We decided to check out the selection at Wal-Mart, and they had the same camera at the price we had set. Yay!! The drawback, according to Mark, was that it was pink. I considered that a bonus of course! When the worker went to get it, she asked if we wanted it in black or pink, and we both answered at the same time with different answers. I won, though, since I use the camera more than he does :)

I tested it out this morning on Steven (of course!) as he ate his breakfast. I decided to let him feed himself everything instead of giving him a mix of finger foods and feeding him myself. He had fun and did a good job of getting everything cleaned up in the end--even his face didn't look too bad!










That is cottage cheese, cereal, and applesause on his tray just in case you were wondering :)

I'm excited to try out our new camera tonight as our little tiger goes trick-or-treating. (I need some candy!) We're just going to a few people's houses, ones that we know. I'm not crazy enough to take him door to door around the whole neighborhood.

A New Job and a Second Car

Monday I start a full-time temp. job grading the Michigan MEAP exams. I worked for this company last year and scored 8th grade creative writing exams for the state of New Jersey. This time I'm scoring K through 6th grade writing. The pay isn't all that great, and I can't do it at home, but it'll give me 4-6 weeks of steady paychecks. With a new baby coming soon, we can definitely use all the money we can get. I don't mind the work either, which helps a lot.

I'll still be tutoring at school on Saturdays. Unfortunately, I had to give up my Wednesday shift (which was more than a day's pay!), but the job is an all or nothing deal. We aren't allowed to miss more than 15 minutes the first week! This is because the entire first week is training, and it ends on Friday with us taking tests. If we don't pass, we don't get to come back for the rest of the project. It sounds harsh, but it makes sense when you consider the importance of the exam. It's crucial that all the scorers are giving the papers the same grade.

This also means that I have to have my own car. I'll be working in the opposite direction of Mark and at roughly the same hours. We had a hard time finding a car that we wanted and could afford, and we ended up settling on a 2007 Ford Taurus. We were looking at mini-vans now that we'll have the backseat full of car seats, but the ones in our price range weren't worth buying.

Friday afternoon Mark is driving out to his grandparents' house in Iowa to pick up the car. His grandfather works with several dealers, and cars are cheaper out there. For some reason, there is also a surplus of 2007 Tauruses. Ours is merlot colored. Mark says it's burgundy, but I think it looked awfully purple in some of the pictures his grandpa sent.

Once the baby comes, this will be my car. We're not too optimistic that the double stroller will fit in the trunk of the Civic :) It's certainly not what I wanted, but I'm just thrilled to finally have my own car!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Double Stroller!

We found a double stroller! I am beyond excited because it matches our car seat and single stroller. It is a Graco duo glide, and the only one I could find that matched our car seat/stroller was a Graco quatro, which is about $100 more. (Apparently they don't make the one we bought any more.) I went to Once Upon a Child, for only about the third time ever, to look for a lion costume for Steven. We already had a different one, but now that he can roar, I thought it would be nice to have a lion costume :) We got a Tiger which is close enough.

Anyway, I looked at their double strollers, and they were about the same as the ones I was finding on Craig's list. Right before we left, though, I decided to take a quick peak at the girls stuff, and in that aisle was our stroller. It's in great condition, and we got it for much less than the new ones I had just looked at at Babies R Us. I feel like I'm pushing a bus, but that's just how double strollers are.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One More Checked Off!

We finished our formal application today. Yay!! They now have you do it online which is so nice because we don't have to wait to have it mailed to us and then mail it back to the agency. Now we just wait.

We're praying that we can get through the entire process quickly because we'll only have a narrow timeframe to apply for grants. You have to have an approved homestudy (almost always), and most places won't take applications post-placement. That's why we couldn't apply for grants for Steven's adoption--it was only a few hours between approval and placement!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Checklist

Preliminary Application--Done
Formal Application--In progress, should be done by tonight!
Mark's Physical--Scheduled for Nov. 18
Rebekah's Physical--Scheduled for Oct. 30
Self-Study (Saved answers from last time!)--
Homestudy Interviews--
Homestudy Approved--
Bring Baby Home--

In the meantime, I start a new job on Monday. It's a full-time temp. job grading the elementary MEAP tests. I worked with the same company last year, only that time I was grading standardized 8th grade creative writing exams for the state of New Jersey. The project is scheduled to last 4-6 weeks, depending on how many scorers they have and how fast we work. That means that I should be done right around the new baby's due date.

Before next Monday, we have to buy a car. There's no way that Mark and I can both work full time (and in opposite directions) without two cars. Please pray that we find the right car at a price that we can afford. We haven't had a car payment for years, but since we don't want to sell any stocks right now, it looks like we're going to be making payments again, at least for a little while.

Steven's birthmother wants me to go with her to any ultrasound appointments (yay!), so we are waiting to hear from the social worker when they are scheduled. We would really like to know the gender so we can start getting things in order. I went to a mom-to-mom sale this weekend and picked up a few girl things. I got several really cute outfits/shirts, and I didn't spend much money at all. The one thing I am looking for, though, is a double stroller. There's a mom-to-mom sale in two weeks that has 150 tables, so I'll definitely be checking that one out!

We've also been looking at baby names. I got a book at the sale this weekend, but it doesn't have too many names in it. We made a list, but we want to look at at least one more book before making any decisions. So far, we have a boy's name we both like enough to possibly use, and we've decided on a girl's middle name. We don't have an easy last name to match, so we don't want a name that begins or ends with a c or k, and the name has to be at least two syllables. If you want to leave any suggestions, go for it (not that we'll necessarily listen to any of you!). Please just don't include our last name if you know it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Kitty

We had our first word this week, and it was kitty! I wasn't sure at first if he were saying it intentionally, but this afternoon I could tell that he was. He's said it several times, and each time he is either petting Josie or she has come in the room, so it is said in connection with her.

Both the critters do exceptionally well with Steven. He LOVES them and wants to pet them whenever they're around. They always let him, and we've been working with him on being gentle. It's funny to watch because he pats them. Of course, he also pulls on their fur (which we stop), but the critters haven't gotten upset with him. Maybe it feels like a deep tissue massage :) Once Josie walked away and went behind the couch (one of her favorite spots). Poor Steven kept looking for her and couldn't figure out where she had gone.

Tonight he decided to step over Sadie. If you don't know Sadie, she's a 68 lb. Golden Retriever. I was surprised that he was mostly successful. He didn't get his balance quite right and ended up falling on Sadie--in a way that had him sitting on her. After sitting there for a second or two, he got this huge grin on his face and so excited. Sadie didn't seem to mind either.

I've heard him say doggy once or twice (again, when he sees or is petting Sadie), but it hasn't been consistent enough for me to count it as a word yet. He's also said fishies, but I don't think he knew what he was saying. We were reading a book about animals, and he repeated the word after me.

Here are a few old pictures of Steven and his kitty. She was quite daring to be lounging under a jumparoo!




Thursday, October 16, 2008

Quilt Giveaway!

Enter now for a chance to win a home made quilt! The deadline is tomorrow. Jen--this may be your chance to get your very own quilt!

http://pigtailsandsnails.blogspot.com/2008/10/quilt-giveaway.html

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Day at the Farm

Since WM eliminated Mark's overtime, he's been coming home early on Fridays since he uses up most of his hours at the beginning of the week. This week, he didn't even have to go in on Friday. Yay! It was so nice having him around, esp. now that I work all day on Saturdays. In the morning, I had a meeting with my MOPS creative activities team and went to some awesome garage sales.

When I came home, Mark and I decided to take advantage of the amazing weather and take Steven to a local farm my mom and sister highly recommended. (Interestingly enough, the actor of one of the hobbits from Lord of the Rings bought donuts there less than 10 minutes before us, but we didn't get to see him.)

The farm has so many things fun for kids to do, but Steven is a bit young for most of them. Steven was also in a rather pensive mood. I'm not sure if it's because he's still sick or because he only took a two hour nap or what, but he didn't even start talking until the end of our time there, and even then, he was still a bit subdued.

Sitting on a Haystack

(Recognize the outfit Grandpa Hal and Nanny?)

Going Down the Slide


The Pensive Look

Feeding the Baby Goats

Starting to Come Alive a Bit

Actually Showing Interest in Something!

Next year we'll definitely go on the hay ride to the pumpkin patch. It's only $5/family, which given his mood we weren't willing to spend, but I'm sure we'll do it next year.

It was so nice to get to spend the day as a family. I feel like Mark misses out on so much since Steven and I do things with either my family or playgroup during the week. Next week, I think we're going to the zoo!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Back to Work

I wasn't ready to go back to work after such a nice two month break between quarters, but who is really ever ready to go back to work?? This summer, the Writing Center was dead--I hardly had any appointments the entire summer, which is unusual. I wasn't sure what to expect when I went in because of how slow it was this summer and since it's only the second week of the quarter.

I ended up having five appointments (out of eight time slots). One person was a no show, and another came in two hours late to reschedule. The three students who actually came in today had been out of the classroom for several decades. It's always interesting when I work with people in that situation, and today was no different. All three were beginner writers, and they were fun to work with. We went over everything from subjects and verbs to APA formatting to run-ons and fragments. I'm definitely different than most people because I enjoy grammar :)

The "best" part of my day, though, was when I sent a student with almost no computer skills to go type up her paper. As I saw her out the door, I reminded her to save her work. I'm so glad that I did--she didn't completely understand what I meant. I asked her if she had a flashdrive or anything, and she exclaimed, "Oh, is that what that thing is for? I bought it but couldn't figure out what it was!" Needless to say, I gave her a computer tutorial after that.

Unfortunately, our school switched over to the new microsoft software. I had never seen it before, and it is completely different from the old version. I never did find out how to open a document in word, even after asking someone for help. I could do it through windows, but I still need to figure out how to open it when you're already in word! Maybe that's what I'll spend my five hour shift on Saturday doing. . .

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sick Little Boy

Yeah, the little buddy's sick. He's had a runny nose for weeks, and now he's coughing. He's woken up early the last few days coughing for up to an hour. Fortunately, he's fallen back to sleep and slept for another few hours a couple times.

He's had a fever, but I don't know how high since our thermometer isn't the greatest. Tylenol seemed to help with that though. This kid LOVES medicine. It's rather scary. When I got out the tylenol today, he actually started quivering with excitement! (And it's not just because it's cherry flavored--he loved his gas drops and oral vaccine too!)

Tomorrow, we're going to start giving him pedialyte since his digestive system is not quite working. Needless to say, we're using disposable diapers. Interestingly enough, he isn't acting exceptionally sick. He's still playing, and other than dinner tonight, he's been eating as usual, but that could be due to the graham crackers.

I'm praying that he get's better soon. We're staying home from Bible study tomorrow, but I go back to work on Wednesday :(

Thursday, October 2, 2008

My Little Penguin

Earlier this week, I dressed Steven in a penguin costume that my aunt and uncle gave us when Steven was born. It was especially fitting since he LOVES the penguins at the zoo. Steven's main complaint about the costume was that it didn't have an opening at the bottom for her feet. I had him standing up in it when we were playing in his bedroom, but by the time we found the camera in the living room, he was less than thrilled to be wearing it.







Finally! A smile. Of course, the picture taken right after this is of him crying again. Oh well, he's over it now :)

**This isn't his Halloween costume--he's a little lobster for that!**

Skylon Tower

When we went to Niagara Falls two years ago, we went to the observation deck of the Skylon Tower. This year we decided to eat dinner in the revolving dining room. They have an early dinner special that fit in our budget, and the day we went was perfect weather. We could see Toronto in the distance!

The restaraunt makes a complete rotation every hour, and we were fortunate enough to start out viewing the falls. Since we were there longer than an hour, we got the best view twice.


The yellow bug climbing to the top. It takes less than 60 seconds to make the trip!


Eating in the Revolving Dining Room

After dinner, we went up to the observation deck (one floor up). We took a few pictures before heading back down.

The Canadian Falls

The American Falls

View From the Top

Maid of the Mist

I don't think a trip to Niagara Falls could be complete without a ride on the Maid of the Mist! This time, I really really didn't want to get my face wet. If you have ever ridden on the boat, you know that is not an easy thing to accomplish short of standing with your back to the water (which I kind of did last time). This time I used the length of the hood to my advantage :)

Before the Boat Ride


The American Falls

Lifting the end of the hood up from under my chin so Mark could take a picture.

The Canadian Falls



I accomplished my goal of keeping my face dry, AND I got to see the falls up close. My pants, however, were anything but dry by the end of the trip. I didn't realize that I was standing right next to a opening in the side of the boat for the water to drain out of. We hit a rough section of water, and it came gushing through the hole, right onto me. I was drenched. Mark was also wet, but that's because he wanted to take pictures/video. I'm glad that he did :)

Butterfly Conservatory

We bought a package of tickets when we went to Niagara Falls last week and included were tickets to the Butterfly Conservatory. It wasn't something we would have ever done on our own, but we ended up having a blast.

The next two pictures are of the same type of butterfly. It was hard to get a picture of it with its wings open!




Looking at all those butterflies!


One of three butterflies that landed on me. I finally had to ask a worker to remove one from my arm because I was ready to go, and the butterfly wasn't!

A Butterfly "Farm"

More Pictures with Uncle Andy

At the Rehearsal Dinner



Before the Wedding