Tuesday, April 29, 2008

On another note...

Why do libraries have videos? And WHY do they put them right where TV-addicted kids will be drawn to them like flies??

Tonight Caleb checked out two books and a video. Although he loves to read the books once he's home, at the library it's all about the videos.

When we got home, Caleb had a ten-minute fit because he couldn't watch the movie he checked out tonight (it was time for bed!). Scott made a proclamation:

Libraries are for books!

Who's with us here??

And on the eighth day...

...God created librarians!

Nikki is working on her science fair project. More specifically, she is doing a "review of the literature." This is a task that I was asked to do in graduate school, but not before then. Perhaps this is a new task that was created in the fifteen years between my undergraduate and graduate careers, or perhaps this is yet another way that schools have found to create chaos in the lives of unsuspecting families by assigning students work that is way over their heads. Regardless, this is what she is working on right now.

Tonight, she informed us that she must have four books, published within the last five years, and three encyclopedia articles so that she can complete her bibliography by Friday. Her topic: do different types of music affect the rate at which one runs? She also informed me that we cannot use journal articles (which is the only way I know to do research). So I did what any overwhelmed parent would do-I took her to the library.

After we floundered around and found nothing helpful for about a half hour, we finally asked for help. Within thirty minutes, the librarian had helped her find two books, ordered two more, copied two encyclopedia articles, and printed two journal articles.

Every time somebody cuts a budget, librarians are the first to go. WHY?! They are angels sent from heaven. God bless librarians everywhere.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Caleb will be turning four next month! Where did the time go??

So, of course, it is much more fun to plan for his birthday than to, say, read essays or work on my final project for my last class for my MA. I wasn't sure whether to go with a pirate theme (since he spends half his days dressed as one) or a Veggie Tales theme (his other favorite-and the inspiration for the pirate obsession). He is really into being a pirate, but he finds pirates other than the Veggie variety to be rather scary. We browsed online today:

Me: Do you want to have a pirate party or a Bob and Larry party?
Caleb: It's my birthday! I want cake! I love cake.
Me: Well, it's not your birthday yet. You have a few more weeks. But we need to decide what kind of party you want to have. Do you want Bob and Larry or pirates?
Caleb: Bob and Larry. Pirates.
Me: Which one?
Caleb: Bob and Larry. Pirates.
Me: (switching tabs on the browser between pictures of the two choices) This one?
Caleb: Pirates.
Me: Or this one?
Caleb: Bob and Larry.

We finally arrived at the decision that he likes pirates when they're VEGETABLES dressed like pirates, but not when they're "scary" pirates. And he definitely doesn't want to go on the "pirate boat" at Disneyland (not that we'll be going back anytime in the near future).

Shockingly, there is very little in the way of partyware bearing veggies dressed as pirates. Go figure.

I think we'll just have a pool party and call it good.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Caleb's birthmom came for lunch today. We had a great time watching her chase him around the house, wearing a pirate's hook on her hand, and enjoyed visiting with her. She's getting ready to go to Israel with her church, so we are very excited to hear all about that. She's such a great person, and we love her dearly.

Coincidentally, this month's Adoptive Families magazine is all about open adoption. I love having Birthmom and her family in our lives!

Also coincidentally, I was filling out paperwork for Caleb's IEP meeting when I came across questions referring to his "natural" mother. I have to admit I was offended by the wording. What does that mean, really? That I'm his "unnatural" mother? That we've somehow violated the "natural" order of things by parenting a child we didn't create? It just added to my impression that our local school district, while good-intentioned, is a little backward.

I couldn't resist the urge to correct the wording, and wrote a little note pointing out that "birthmother" would be the correct term there. I am an English teacher after all.

Caleb has two parents who love him. He has a sister who prayed for four years for a little brother. He has a birthmother who loved him enough to make difficult choices in his best interest, and then loved him enough to commit to being part of his life. His parents who fostered him until he came home to us, who stayed with him when he was hospitalized at five weeks, are loving, doting godparents. He is surrounded by a huge family (adoptive, biological, and chosen) that loves him. We were all brought together through God's perfect plan for Caleb. If that isn't "natural," then I don't know what is.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Thankfully, Caleb's puking germs ran their course by Tuesday evening. This was especially wonderful because Scott's entire family was planning a trip to Disneyland on Thursday, and since it's taken us five months to schedule this date, another one would have been hard to come by!

SO Monday I had a staff development meeting at my house, Tuesday I thought I was working but I got called at 11:30 to get Caleb, who then had to stay home on Wednesday with Scott (because I've missed WAY too much work!). Wednesday, Caleb had speech therapy, so Nikki and I went to school, Scott stayed home with Caleb, took him to speech therapy, and then picked us up at school and we drove to Anaheim. We stayed the night Wed. night, went to Disneyland yesterday, and got home at 10:00 last night. Today we were back at work/school, but now it's the weekend, which is always good, but I'm having a really hard time getting caught up!

Fortunately, we have a quiet weekend. This is especially fortunate since I have a lot of work to do for both work and school.

In medical news, Caleb officially has some sort of hearing loss. When they tested him, he had fluid in his ears, so the extent of the loss was inconclusive. This prompted another referral, which meant three more phone calls and another appointment to schedule. The poor boy will have been seen by the doctor more times in two months than in his entire life! Also, he was assessed by our school district resource teacher today and was found to have speech delays, so we will be scheduling an IEP meeting with them soon. I'm so glad he's finally getting the help he needs, but all of these appointments are hard to juggle with a full-time job. And school.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why I'm at home at 1:00 on a Tuesday...

Caleb puked at school today.

Poor boy. If he could JUST get well and stay well. The antibiotics cleared up his ear infection nicely, but destroyed all the good bacteria in his gut.

Got a phone call in the middle of class at 11:30, had a teacher to cover me by 11:45, picked him up at 12:00.

So here we are. At home. Again.

I guess I'll read some more stories while he naps. That, and pray that it was a one-time puke.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Planes, BARTs, & buses.

Perhaps you've seen the movie "Planes, Trains, & Automobiles" with John Candy and Steve Martin? Our weekend looked something like that. Just the transportation issue part of it, though. We had a GREAT time!

In my infinite wisdom, I decided that we should use public transportation to get around during the trip. Really, there's no reason to rent a car to go to San Francisco; you really can't drive once you get there anyway. BUT we didn't GO to San Francisco. We actually FLEW to Oakland, then went to Berkeley, and THEN went to San Francisco, but we had to return to Oakland to fly out. Therein lies the rub.

Getting TO Berkeley wasn't that bad. We arrived in Oakland, took the Air Bart to the Collisseum, caught the BART to Downtown Berkeley, and without too much trouble found the bus to get to Jackie's dorm. Unfortunately, Jackie wasn't there. That's alright, I said, we'll call her! Except she didn't answer her phone. Three times. We started to walk onto campus (dragging the suitcase behind us), but then thought better of it and went back to where we were supposed to meet her. Eventually, we did find each other in a little cafe where we went to eat some breakfast (we had to leave the house at 5:00 am to get there). Once that was settled, we had a great tour of Berkeley, attended classes, and spent too much time and money in the gift shop.

That evening, we WALKED back to the BART station and caught the San Francisco-bound train with no problem. However, we got off the train one stop too early and wound up walking around for a little over an hour trying to find our hotel, which we could SEE, but not find. By the time we did find it, our feet were throbbing from walking all day. We decided to eat dinner at a nearby sushi restaurant to save ourselves for Saturday.

Jackie decided she wanted to do five things on Saturday: ride the cable car, go to the fortune cookie factory in Chinatown, eat clam chowder in a sourdough bowl, visit Ghirardelli Square, and go to City Lights Bookstore. We set out on our quest at 10:00 after stowing our luggage at the hotel. We went to the cable cars (a block from the hotel) and bought Muni passes for the day. The line was really long for the cable car, so we decided to take a bus to Chinatown and then take the cable car back. After about a half hour of wandering and waiting, we were on a bus to Chinatown. There was some sort of huge festival, so the buses were crowded, and so were the streets.
We got off and started trying to find the fortune cookie factory. It was located in an alley, so reading the map and trying to find the alley took about an hour. By some miracle, we DID finally find the factory. There was a tiny sign down an unmarked alley, that we just happened to spot (top left corner of the picture below). We ate yummy fortune cookies and watched the ladies make them. All of this took about five minutes, because the whole "factory" was about the size of a walk-in closet. Mission one accomplished, time to move on.

We decided to catch another bus to Fisherman's Wharf. This was one of the least problematic trips of the day. The bus took us straight down to the Wharf, where we were let off at the final stop. We walked down to Pier 39 and ate clam chowder (except Romina, who wanted a hot dog????). Mission two accomplished.

From there, we walked about six blocks to Ghirardelli Square and ate ice cream in the soda fountain (yummy!) and bought chocolate. Mission three accomplished.

Once again, we decided to take a cable car up to Little Italy. However, the walk over to the cable car line, which was about a mile long, in the 50-degree, 20-mile-an-hour wind made us think that bus travel sounded much more appealing. So we caught another bus.

After wandering around for about forty minutes, we found City Lights, which is the COOLEST BOOKSTORE IN THE WORLD! They have about a million books, and very few copies of any particular title, so that the selection is amazing. It spans three stories. Awesome! I found a CD of Langston Hughes reading his own poetry, Nikki found a new series to read, and we all enjoyed poring over the titles we hope to read someday. Mission four accomplished.

After waiting about 20 minutes for a bus, we were on our way back to the hotel, having given up on the cable cars. We had a plane to catch, after all! The bus took us on the familiar route back to Fisherman's Wharf, but we were not concerned because the route map said it eventually would take us right across the street from our hotel. Then the driver told everyone to get off the bus. WHAT?! I asked him where we were supposed to catch the version of this bus route that would take us where the route map said it would and he started going on about streets we'd never heard of. Defeated, we got off and started walking, searching for another bus with the same number. Five blocks later, we found a stop and a helpful teen who assured us that yes, this bus would take us where we needed to go. After about ten minutes, the bus we needed pulled up, driven by none other than the driver who had just kicked us off! Undaunted, we hopped on, knowing this would be our last bus ride. Little did we know that it would be our most memorable!

At the second stop, a tiny Chinese woman with a huge bag of cans got on the bus. The driver started yelling at her, "No! I told you last week you can't bring that on here! Get off!" The lady smiled, said, "Thank you," and climbed right on. The other Chinese ladies on the bus were clearly disgusted by this and gave her dirty looks and gossiped about her in Chinese. This provided us with entertainment until the bus started to get crowded. VERY crowded. As we moved closer to Chinatown, more and more people got on the bus, all of them Asian. The ladies had been grocery shopping, and started putting their bags behind those of us who were sitting, so I had someone's celery over one shoulder and something that smelled like a dead animal behind me. At this point, Nikki was asleep on my shoulder, so there was nothing I could do. The bus was standing room only, with people packed down the center aisle. And people kept getting on. By the time we got to the heart of Chinatown, the people standing in the middle were three deep. At one stop, the driver didn't even open the doors because there was a huge crowd waiting to get on and the bus couldn't hold anymore people. They started banging on the doors and one lady was yelling at the driver. He was stuck because of traffic, so we sat there crammed together with people yelling and banging on the bus for about ten minutes before we could move. There were also people on the bus who needed to get off, but the driver couldn't open the door for them because of the angry mob outside. Finally, he was able to move up a block and let the people off where only four were waiting to get on. I couldn't see, but a fellow rider reported to his girlfriend that the people at the stop were running for the bus.

Fortunately, our stop was rapidly approaching at this point. When we got to our stop, there was a huge mob of people waiting AGAIN. We got off and looked back, and the aisles were about five people deep! We sighed with relief, retrieved our bags, and headed for the BART, relieved that our adventures in public transportation were almost over. It was 4:30 by then, but our plane didn't leave until 7:05, so we were fine. Or so we thought.

After we'd been on the BART for about ten minutes, Jackie remarked that the surroundings looked unfamiliar. We checked the map, and we were going the WRONG DIRECTION. We jumped off at the next stop and took a train bound the opposite direction. By the time we got re-situated, it was 5:15. We would still be okay, barring any other delays.

We left Jackie at a transfer station at 5:50 and figured out which train to take to the Collisseum. Unfortunately, we had to wait fifteen minutes for said train, which put us at the Collisseum at 6:20, where we still had to catch the Air BART back to the airport. We ran from the train to catch the shuttle, shoving our tickets into the styles to get through, when Nikki panicked. "I can't find my ticket!!" I picked her up and lifted her over the style (all 70 pounds of her) and we RAN to the shuttle, where we waited an additional three minutes until his scheduled departure.

We pulled into the airport at 6:35, and tore into the building. Fortunately, Nikki made us eligible for the "family line" in security, so we made it through security in record time (after having our hot fudge we bought at Ghirardelli Square confiscated-apparently it might blow up??). I realized at that point that I hadn't checked the gate number, so one of the TSAs hollered over that we needed to go to gate 28. We RAN to the gate to find it devoid of people, with a plane still attached to the boarding gate, but bound for Ontario? I went over to a Southwest employee and asked her about our flight that was scheduled to leave at 7:05 for San Diego. She looked at my boarding pass and said, "You mean 7:20? It's delayed, but it is leaving from gate 28." We looked at each other and laughed, sat down and snacked on fortune cookies.

The plane wound up leaving at 8:00 after having been delayed in Denver.

See? Steve Martin had nothing on us. :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Star Student

Caleb started speech class today. He was a perfect little student. He did everything the therapist asked him to do, including letting me push his tongue back with a little sponge so he could make the /k/ sound. He got pretty darn good at it! Of course, he needs the help to make the sound, but with help he makes it quite well. I was impressed!

Nikki and I are preparing for our trip to Berkeley. I'm excited.

Other than that, still reading short stories, still doing laundry. Same old, same old. After last week, monotony seems like such a blessing.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Escaping the heat, I mean serving the community!

Today was EXTREMELY hot where we live, so hot we even had to turn on the air conditioning! In the '90s HOT!! So we did what all civic-minded people do when they're roasting; we headed to a beach cleanup!

We actually had this event on the calendar with my students, but it was the perfect day for it. Nikki came along and brought two friends. We had a great time, the beach is a little cleaner, and we were much cooler. It doesn't get much better than that!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Catching up.

Nothing exciting happened today. It was a blissfully slow day. So I thought I'd update all the things I left hanging this week.

Caleb had a double ear infection when we went to the doctor. One of them was NASTY according to the pediatrician. Caleb never said anything about his ears hurting. Regardless, he's on antibiotics now and seems to be on the mend. He hasn't had a fever since Thursday.

I got in touch with our local school district and Caleb has an appointment for a speech assessment in two weeks. Their classes take place early enough in the morning that we can take him for therapy and still get to school in time to teach. Yeah!

We also now have an appointment for a hearing test. In June. Yes, June. We are on the list to be notified of cancellations, but a former neighbor suggested calling an audiologist who lives on our street to see if she can do a basic test sooner. I hate to take advantage of people like that, but in this case it might be worth it to just know if there appears to be a hearing loss or not. I'm still thinking about that.

Those are all the new developments in our medical saga. At last, all of the loose ends have at least been connected, if not tied up. God willing, we will attend Caleb's first speech class on Wed. and he'll have his assessment with the district the following week. Things seem to finally be moving. FINALLY. :P

Friday, April 11, 2008


My friend Tami told me that days like today offer us some perspective.

Nikki and I joined her school community to celebrate the life of Marisela today. It completely reinforced why she goes to a faith-based school. The entire school closed down to attend the mass, every teacher participated in the service in some way (including one who no longer teaches there), and the students did the prayers and readings. Nikki's classmate's friends brought the elements up for communion-two rows of four boys each, all dressed in suits and ties. It was beautiful, a perfect reflection of Marisela.

And while I was able to appreciate all of that, the other parents and I sat there and sobbed, because that is every parent's worst nightmare; to have to leave our children before they're done with the huge task of becoming adults. Her poor son looks like he is carrying the world on his shoulders, staring vacantly and on the verge of collapse. He's twelve. Her husband embraced him throughout the service, having to be strong for his son while his heart must be breaking inside.

Like Tami said, a little perspective. I'll take my cranky preschooler.

This afternoon, we had a second funeral for our little hamster. Nikki chose a special box that said, "He is Risen, Indeed!" for Sandy's coffin. We buried him under the jacaranda, with three of her friends who loved him present. Nikki decided that each of them should take a handful of earth and say something about him while they covered him. Then they found a headstone and inscribed it with a sharpie. They also decorated the grave with some of Nikki's collection of pretty rocks. The finished up by collecting flowers and laying them on the grave, and then had a little reception on the driveway (Mom, can you get us some snacks?). It was a much more lighthearted event, something she could wrap her brain around. She orchestrated the whole thing in a way that made sense to her.

Nikki has the luxury of processing death on a smaller level. Marisela's son has no such luxury.

A little perspective.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

An exercise in self-control.

Caleb is driving me CRAZY! Everything that comes out of his mouth is a whine or a fit. Intellectually, I know that he is sick and doesn't feel good. And perhaps I am deficient in mothering genes, but I CAN'T STAND THIS ANYMORE!!!! We have to stay home again tomorrow because he had a fever this morning, but the rest of the day his temp was normal and he was a PILL. Of course, the days that Scott had him (Mon./Tues.) he was listless and slept most of the day-not a hint of the beast he has become since then!

On the bright side, we did complete three puzzles (punctuated by "I can't do it!" every time a piece didn't go in on the first try), we played with an alphabet toy and talked about letters, read books, and we went to the bank and the library (quickly, just to check out books). He put on his own clothes and cleaned up his Legos with help. He also lassoed the banister several times and played with his cars.

Right now, in order to preserve what is left of my sanity (and there ain't much left, let me tell you!), he is watching Veggie Tales on the "'puter."

There has never been a virus that knocked him out like this one did the first few days. There has also never been a virus that turned him into a bipolar fiend. Let's hope we never meet this one again!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Saying Goodbye

You may not have noticed, but I had to change our headline. Tonight, we are minus one family member; our hamster died today. This may seem trivial to some, but we are very sad. He was Nikki's first pet for which she was the primary caregiver. And he was very, very sweet (unlike most hamsters, he didn't bite). He was also a two-time Hamster Ball Derby Champion!

In the hamster world, two years is a long life span. Sandy was 2 1/2. He had been declining for a couple months, and about five weeks ago we had to move him into a hamster nursing home because he lost mobility in his hind limbs and was getting stuck in the ramps and wheel of his other cage. But Nikki, undaunted, moved him into a ramp-less, wheel-less aquarium, lowered his water bottle so he could drink while reclining, and continued to minister to him. Each time he would get a little worse, we would think, this is it. And then he would prove us wrong. And even though she knew this was imminent, she fell apart when she came home and found him dead.

Coincidentally, her friend in school also lost his mother to breast cancer this weekend. So I'm not sure how much of the trauma is due to the expected death of her first pet, and how much of it is due to tragic development at school. Also, my parents just lost a dear friend who passed away two weeks ago at the age of 100, and Nikki was with my mom when she went to say goodbye right before he died. Even though she knows that, in all three cases, death was an end to suffering and poor health, she's a sad little girl tonight. Imagining Jesus welcoming them home does little to alleviate the ache of missing them.

So tonight we remembered Sandy, and Marisela, and Bill. We said prayers of thanksgiving for their lives. And we reminded ourselves that we will all be together again where there is no more pain, sickness, or death. Amen.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Progress & Germs

Caleb is still running fevers in the 100s when he's not on drugs. We will be going BACK to the doctor tomorrow, just in case something has decided to appear to be infected since Sunday. The poor boy feels pretty good when the Motrin and/or Tylenol is in effect, but as soon as it wears off he curls up in a ball and goes to sleep. It's very sad and I'm getting worried about all these drugs we're giving him to keep his fever down. This can't be good for his little organs.

Tomorrow is my turn to stay home. Maybe I'll finally get some sleep. I've been averaging about four hours a night since this started. I'm beginning to have flashbacks to the days when he was a newborn.

Some good things happened today, too.

1. I went and picked up my cap and gown. I'M GRADUATING!! YEAH! :) Of course, it cost an arm and a leg just to get the cap and gown and some announcements. What a racket! Oh well, it's the last time I'm doing this so I might as well just enjoy it.

2. Even better...when I went to get my cap & gown I took Nikki and Alan (the boy we drive to and from school) with me because we went on the way home. While I was paying for parking, the attendant said, "Are you the mom???" I told him that yes, I am the mom. And he said, "Wow! You look REALLY young!" Now, I was wearing a hoodie sweater and sunglasses, so it probably had more to do with the way I was dressed than actually looking young, but I'll take it. :)

3. Caleb's referral for a hearing test was approved. It came in the mail today.

We're supposed to start speech therapy tomorrow, but I certainly can't take a germy boy. I'm praying that he'll wake up in the morning and be all better. Hey, a girl can dream, can't she??

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sick Boy

Caleb is still feeling awful. This is probably the worst he's ever felt. It took him about three hours to get up the energy to get out of bed this morning. Then he played for about 45 minutes (while the Tylenol was in full effect) and then went back to bed and went to sleep.

I took him to urgent care and, of course, it's just a virus. Poor boy.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Pink Eye

Yep, Caleb seems to have developed a case of it. And a fever.

The really bad part about it is that everything is closed now for the weekend and we can't get any relief for his poor little eyes until Monday.

Occupational Hazard

Once again, I am obsessed with the literature I am teaching.

I just finished The Great Gatsby and am intrigued by one of the characters, Meyer Wolfsheim. He is one of Gatsby's more questionable associates, accused of "fixing" the 1919 World Series. The intriguing thing about him is that he is Jewish, but he wears cuff-links made of human molars and owns "The Swastika Holding Company." HUH?? So now I am obsessed. Were there Jews who had Nazi ties post-World War I??

Scott had no information for me, so I took the logical next step. I E-mailed a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist, who used to work with my students at my high school, because he wrote an article that came up in my Google search. We used to be friends, but I haven't seen him for years. He'll probably think I'm nuts. He'll probably be right.

Friday, April 4, 2008

A little adventure!

Nikki and I are going to Berkeley! One of my students was accepted but doesn't know if she wants to go there. One of my alumni is a freshman there and I've been wanting to visit her all year. So we're going!

We're going to fly up on a Friday morning and come home on Saturday night. We'll spend Friday at the university, take BART over to San Francisco and spend the night and Saturday there, and then return to Oakland on Saturday evening.

It will be a whirlwind, but I'm very excited. I'm especially excited to take Nikki so she can begin thinking about where she would like to go to school. You can never start too early, right?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Two things in life are certain...

And I just finished one of them. I HATE doing taxes! It took about three hours this year and as it stands we owe a big chunk of change the state and are only getting $12 back from the feds. Last year, we got a big chunk of change back from both. Apparently, they've reconfigured how they do the deductions. GREAT! Because we have a bunch of extra money sitting around to give to the government.

I guess we won't be filing until the 15th this year. :P

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Orientation Day

I had my parent orientation for Caleb's speech class today. The speech/language pathologist who teaches the class talked about the different games we can play with our kids to teach them how to make the sounds properly. It sounds like it will be good.

Our school is getting ready to go through WASC (accreditation process). We had to role play what we would say when asked certain questions today during our staff meeting. How annoying. We were also told that there will be a luncheon to welcome the WASC committee on Sunday. I don't think we'll be making that...

Okay, I've tried, but there is really nothing interesting to say about today. I guess that's my cue to say goodnight. Goodnight!