Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ready for Christmas?

Christmas trees decorated and lit...

Presents wrapped and under tree...

Santa Treasure Hunt gifts hidden and clues scattered throughout house...

Gobs of cookies baked (ginger snaps, spritz, nut butter balls and good ole chocolate chips)...

Stereo loaded with a wide mix of Christmas tunes...

Fridge packed with groceries procured from a noon-hour-fight-the-hungry-crowds grocery store trip...

Chinese menu at the ready (for dinner, of course)...

Bottle of Chardonnay chilling in the fridge...


Christmas may now begin...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lil Goofy's Literature Hour

Lil Goofy reads some selected passages from his favorite novel "Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?"


(can you tell we read him this book EVERY night?)




Mmmmm....Banana Cake

This weekend was filled with sugar. Filled! I had some bananas getting that lovely brown color that usually means I will be making Average Jane's Banana Bread soon, but instead I discovered a Banana Cake recipe. My sugar tooth was calling, so I tried it. Wowee! It's fabulous. And fairly easy, for a cake. Okay, you cheat and use a cake mix, but I'm not holding that against this delicious cake. Also, I'm a big cream cheese icing fan. I believe you could put cream cheese icing on a shoe and it would taste great. But it's much better on this great cake!



Banana Sour Cream Cake

1 pkg. (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup oil
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 pkg. (16 oz.) powered sugar (about 4 cups)
1 cup walnut pieces, finely chopped


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat cake mix, eggs, bananas, sour cream and oil with mixer on low until moistened. Beat on medium 2 minutes. Pour into greased and floured 13x9 pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick in cake centered comes out clean. Cool cake completely in pan.


Beat cream cheese and butter with mixer on medium until blended. Gradually add sugar, beating well after each addition.


Remove cake from pan. Carefully cut cake crosswise in half using serrated knife.


Place 1 cake half, top-side down, on plate; spread top with frosting. Top with remaining cake half, top-side up. Frost top and sides.


Press nuts onto sides. Sprinkle a few on top if you're feeling sassy. Refrigerate leftovers.


Oh yeah...After making this on Friday, Goofy Junior and I went to a Cinnamon Roll class on Sunday and brought home two pans of cinnamon rolls.

We had to take turns peeling each other off the ceiling. Yowza!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Goofy Goes to "Fork & Screen"


I was invited to a 'sneak peek' of AMC Theatres' new in-theatre dining concept, Fork & Screen, last night, and it is SPECTACULAR.

I'm also giving away coupons for free admission and more!

Read all about it here:
KC Word of Mouth



Monday, October 13, 2008

Brotherly Love

Awwwww...it warms my heart to see both of my boyz together - happily sharing the computer.

NOT!



Friday, October 10, 2008

The Great Escape

Lil Goofy shows us how he gets out of his room after naptime.

Notice the "Aw, shucks" attitude after the escape.





NOTE: No toddlers were harmed during the filming of this video.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Lil G is a Boogie Machine

Not only does he dance in the car....

he also dances on the coffee table*...




but he's not so crazy about Pink...




*seriously, if a song comes on that he thinks is "danceable", he climbs up onto the coffee table and starts dancing. Yes, we have our own little Coyote Ugly dancer in training. I think I saw a tip jar there yesterday!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Woobie!

So Lil G needed a "woobie"...otherwise known as a "lovie" or an "attachment object". Right about the time our pediatrician mentioned it, he latched onto one.
A small white stuffed dog. (Yes, that's Baby Tad mocking the stuffed dog!)

Great, right?

Er...not so fast there, Dr. Spock.

Problem was...this was Goofy Junior's little white stuffed dog. And not just ANY little white stuffed dogs..this was Mischa. The little white stuffed dog that we gave him right before we traveled to Russia for the first of three trips. The dog that I told him to hug when he missed us. The dog that I told him we could TELL when he hugged and would send him hugs back...yes, all the way across the world. Yes, I have a pretty wild imagination.

So when Lil G latched onto Mischa, Goofy Junior was pretty horrified. He tried to switch Mischa with the Big White Chicken (sitting in Baby Tad's lap in the pic above).

Lil G was not fooled. He wanted Mischa.

We tried to reason with Goofy Junior. He has 8,342 other stuffed creatures...couldn't he let Lil G "borrow" Mischa...just for a while?

Finally he relented. Whew!

What's ironic about this whole story is that of all the stuffed creatures we have, this one we got for FREE. From our bank, for crying out loud!

In the end, it all worked out well...and there was peace in the Goofy household. Aaaaaaaaaah.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Olympic Beach Volleyball Swimsuit too Small?

No!

I am sick of hearing complaints about the Olympic beach volleyball women's "tiny" swimsuits.

Anyone who has ever actually, oh I dunno, PLAYED beach volleyball understands the reason.

The details...
- Loose swimsuit = chaffing + jiggling of the sisters upstairs
- More-coverage swimsuit = hot (it's fricking hard to MOVE in sand...hello?)
- One-piece swimsuit = restricted movement

In short, anything other than a skin-tight, small, two-piece suit will result in a distraction to the athlete. I'm sure some athletes would play naked if there wasn't a risk of sand in their girlie-bits. Been there. Owie!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Olympics!

I really like the Olympics. They are so inspirational. The fact that someone has a dream and is so completely FOCUSED to spend so much time training for that dream just gets me.

I never cry at movies (nor a lot in real life), but when Michael Phelps took the podium to get his gold medal, I had a tear in my eye. He's 23 and this is his THIRD Olympics - he's been swimming since he was 11. His mom got him into swimming to "burn off his extra energy".

It's just so cool.

Dara Torres is racing right now. She is one year younger than me (she's 41) - the oldest swimmer to compete in the Olympics, ever. Have you seen her? Goodness...she's got the body of a 25 year old! It's all about focus and training. Oh, and she has a two-year-old little girl, did I mention that? She FINDS the time for her dreams. How cool is that?!?!

US just took silver, with Torres swimming the last leg - possibly breaking a record with her leg of the race.

What an inspiration!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

What's For Dinner?

First off, let me just say that the Goofy family eats out. A lot. We don't always eat OUT, but we bring carry-out home pretty often, so I suppose I should say that we don't really cook at home a lot.

However, since neither of us is gainfully employed at present, we figured we should probably eat in a bit more.

Sigh.

This has lead to a War of Wills between Number One Son (Goofy Junior) and I about what consitutes a "good meal".

Goofy Junior is not a big eater. One day he ate an English muffin for breakfast, a hot dog bun (sans dog) for lunch, and then wanted to get away with only eating a roll for dinner. And getting ice cream for dessert.

VIOLATION!!!! Call the Nutrition Police. In other words, he didn't get dessert.

Eating is one of those Parent Topics that is frustrating. You don't want to give your kids food hangups, but you can not MAKE a kid eat. You just can't. You also can't make them sleep or poop, but those things eventually happen, like it or not.

So we struggle with selecting foods for dinner that Goofy Junior (aka Picky McPicky) will eat. He is very much into the "look" of food. We had a Mushroom Lasagna the other night and he was freaked out about the "black things" (um, they are mushrooms!) in the lasagna. Arg! And I REFUSE to make two meals. Mr. Goofy chides me for this. But no, I will not make one meal for one picky kid and another for the rest of us. Life is too short for this.*

But in a moment of clarity and brillance, Mr. Goofy came up with an idea: We will let Goofy Junior select the dinner menu every so often.

I have to admit...I was a little scared about this. Our only constraint was that it had to be a nutritious meal (no ice cream and cake for dinner!).

He chose pretty well: Macaroni & Cheese, Carrots** & Dip, and Garlic Bread.

A little high on the carb scale, but not too shabby. GJ's dinner menu is served tonight.

Bon Appetit!


*Can I just confess right here that I (yes, me) was a super-duper picky eater when I was little? And my parents supported my habit. I didn't eat a salad until I was 25 years old. Never ate peanut butter - still to this day. And I still order my cheeseburgers plain...no ketchup, mustard, pickle, onion, etc. If it's on there, I can't eat it. I really don't want to raise another Me!

**from our garden!! Yippee!!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Goofy Gets Sirius

I've been spending more time in my car, now that we have our new son home. (I know it doesn't make sense...more on this later*) What's driving me crazy is the state of terrestrial radio nowadays. If it's not some lame-ass DJ yammering about how guys are this horny and girls are always frigid, it's a commercial, or it's some whiny John Mayer song that I could care less about.

Ugh. It's simply painful.

For a Christmas gift, I bought Mr. Goofy a Sirius radio subscription and have benefited from the use of it while riding in his vehicle. I typically listen to audio books most the time I'm in my car, but with New Kid, I figure I better at least pretend to pay some attention to him (it's called "sarcasm" by the way, folks...)

Anyway, I finally had the last straw late last week and started looking for Sirius radios. Since Mr. Goofy has a subscription, it's a mere $6.99 per month for me to sign up. I scored last season's Sirius tuner on eBay for $56 (not too shabby - Sirius' price for the same model was $109).

...and I am waiting impatiently to get it. Yippee!!!! Good music! Jim Kramer on demand! Whee!

Yes, I am a Late Adopter. Late, but I get there eventually.

* Lil G LOVES to go! Anywhere. Price Chopper. Target. Garden Store. Post Office. It's all New! and Fun! for him. The Russian word for "Bye" is "Paka". After breakfast dishes are cleared, he starts pointing to the door and/or putting his shoes on, and saying "Paka!" "Paka!", as in "Let's go!"

He's definitely not a homebody! He's living it up now that he has two chauffeurs!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Goofy Complaint

A brief timeout from motherhood topics to lodge a complaint...

I love blogging. I love Twitter. I am able to keep tabs on friends that I don't see for months at a time with these tools. I also have made new friends. I'm also reading about people that don't even have a clue that I exist, yet they inspire and motivate me in one way or another, typically on a daily basis.

All these social media tools are wonderful additions to my life.

Yet....

I really miss the fine art of face-to-face conversation. Sitting down over a coffee, a beer, a glass of wine, dinner, a slice of pie (or preferably...all of the above!), and talking. Live. Chatting about the meaningless. Gabbing about the obscure. Deep discussion about the meaning of life.

Preferably without little kidlings interupting to tell me that they've recently farted.

Does anyone else miss this? Will there be a resurgence of the dinner party in response to all the "faceless" conversations we have on a daily basis? Or are they gone for good?

Is it just me or are we all missing out on something good?

Fun with Nicknames

Over the past week-and-a-half (has it been that long already?!), we have come up with some nicknames for Lil G, based on his behaviors.

Here they are, in no particular order:

"The Closer" - If there is an open door in the house, Lil G will find it and close it. No, let me correct that...SLAM it. Closets, pantries, cabinets, refrigerators...they are all fair game. I go to take the milk out of the fridge. I turn around to put it back...and the door is closed and I hear little feet padding away. And giggling. You'd think this skill would be a good one. But I'm just waiting until we get locked out of our house by The Closer.

"The Flopper" - Lil G has got a will of iron. When his will is not served, he throws a tantrum. The tantrum consists of a full-out DIVE to the floor, where he lands on his belly and puts his hands over his eyes. The Flop is hilarious because it is usually silent. And no kicking. Just The Flop. We found out quickly that The Flop can easily be broken down with some strategic tickling....

"The Beast" - This was the first nickname he got. This kid eats like there is no tomorrow! He seriously eats TWICE as much as Goofy Junior, who is FIVE! And we have yet to find something he won't eat. Mexican, Indian, Chinese, American...he happily gobbles it all down. Spicy? No problemo. He chows it.

First thing in the morning, when The Beast awakens, he wants to go IMMEDIATELY downstairs and EAT. No stopping for a diaper change, a hug, or even to get dressed. This kid is HUNGRY! Is he skinny? Heck, no. He's a little chunk. But he is always eating. He yells and points excitedly when he sees food. He absolutely must have a snack between breakfast and lunch, lunch and dinner, and sometime before bed. He wakes up in the middle of the night. Why? The Beast needs something to eat! Milk usually does the trick quickly, thankfully.

"LL Cool G" - When we get in the car to drive, if there is music out that can be danced to, Lil G will start swaying, swinging his foot in circles, nodding his head, and raising his eyebrows. This combination is guaranteed to make even the most serious person bust a gut.

Check out the hilarity for yourself (make sure to watch the eyebrows!):


Friday, July 25, 2008

The Papparazzi Strikes!

Surf's up, Dude!


When's Dinner?


Me, cute? Nah...


Big Brother Alex loves his new "Toy"...


...but decides he needs some "ink" to be taken seriously. (no, that's not a pretty pink butterfly, it's a, um...dangerous stingray, yeah, that's what it is.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

But Going Well So Far....

Okay, time to follow up my last "Trip from Hell" post with the "Things are Actually Going Well" post. Things ARE going well. With a few surprises!

First, we EXPECTED that Goofy Junior (now 5) would have some jealousy issues when we brought home Lil G (2 years old). Of course, Lil G will require a bit more supervision than Goofy Junior, and thus, more attention. Knowing this, we both decided to set aside some "One on One" time with Goofy Junior and us. But... as it turned out, Goofy Junior has turned into a Lil G "Stalker". The first morning, Goofy Junior really, really wanted to wake up Lil G. "NO!" we declared. He ended up doing it by repeatedly going into Lil G's room.

Then he proceeded to grab Lil G's hand and take him for the house tour. Then the playroom for some play time (first time Goofy Junior's feet have entered the playroom in like 6 months!). He was very controlling of Lil G...up to the point of wanting to do EVERYTHING for him.

This was not the issue we thought we would have, so we had to change gears quickly. We reminded Goofy Junior that WE were the Mommy and Daddy. WE would take care of telling Lil G what to do, etc. This did not go over well, but eventually sunk in. I think we are at a happy medium now...

On the flipside, Lil G IDOLIZES Goofy Junior. Watches his every move. Follows him. Goofy Junior goes up the steps, Lil G goes up the steps. Did I mention that Lil G has never seen steps before? EEK! We were sure we would be making a trip to the local emergency room this weekend, but low and behold, as it turns out, Goofy Junior is a fairly good role model!

Regarding our dog Murphy, we decided that we would make this introduction informal. We would go get Murphy, let her do her thing around the house (which is mainly sleep nowadays) and if Lil G encountered her, he would figure she was just one more acoutrament in our household. Um, yeah, this didn't go the way we expected either. The first time Lil G saw Murphy, he audibly GASPED. He said, "ABAKA-DOH!!" repeatedly, then muttered some more Russian that we don't know, while backing up in the opposite direction.

Then he stepped forward and petted her.

Then backed up, muttered another "ABAKA-DOH!" and more disgruntled Russian mutterings.

Once we stopped our uncontrollable laughter with this weird behavior, we realized that we had a Love/Hate relationship brewing. He was scared, yet he was curious. And quite frankly, Murphy could care less. She doesn't antagonize him, but she doesn't avoid him either. And it still makes us laugh when he rounds the corner and comes face-to-face with her, and gasps. She's not a threat to him...he just doesn't realize it yet.

So it's gone well so far. He is sleeping through the night, although he wakes up about 6:30am, which is damn early. He eats like a beast. He does have little two-year-old temper tantrums, but we are pretty practiced at ignoring those that he is realizing that he is getting nowhere with those.

Yeah, things are going well....so far.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Trip From Hell...But We Have our Angel Now

We are home now with the newest member of the Goofy family - Lil' Goofy. We traveled last week to Russia to pick him up, get his passport and visa, get him a physical, and bring him home.

The trip started badly. Our flight to Russia went well, but when we arrived in Moscow, expecting to have the day in a hotel for a shower, nap and some relaxation, we were told that, no, we were being taken directly to the train station. For a 10-hour wait (!!!) for our 12:30am train the next morning. WTF? We protested a bit, but decided the travel arrangers must know what they are doing. In hindsight, hell NO, the travel arrangers most definitely did NOT know what they were doing. Ugh. Those are 10 hours that I want back! We were bored silly after the first hour. I still don't know how we did it.

Anyway, fast forward to picking up Lil G. He was happy to see us, and we had a great visit. When it came time to leave, we carried him outside to the car. Our driver was putting some items into the trunk. Lil G saw this and started crying. Once we assured him (with gestures and our very bad Russia) that he was NOT riding in the trunk, he settled down and did great on the drive.

After we boarded the train back to Moscow, we quickly found out that our train car did NOT have air conditioning. It was around 86 degrees. All we had was a window that we could open about 6 inches. Lil G was a happy camper in just diaper and shorts, but we were miserable, since we did not think to pack any shorts. It was a long night, but Lil G slept through and woke up happy.

We got to our Moscow hotel, checked in, and rushed off to get Lil G his physical. (NOTE: At this point, we had still not had a shower since leaving home...going on 3 days!) He giggled through the whole thing, as Dr. Boris declared, "this one will be breaking hearts soon." We headed back to the hotel and Lil G took a 4-hour nap.

Little did we know it was all a set-up for the hell we were about to enter.

The trip ended worse than it started. Fast-forward to our flight back to the states. Lil G got a little crabby on the way to the airport. It was a long drive, being a Friday, during morning rush hour in Moscow. He whined a bit, but when we got out of the van, he was happy and curious again.

We boarded the plane, thinking that surely he would nap. It was naptime, he had been on-schedule the entire trip so far. There was no reason to think he wouldn't.

You see it coming, doing you? We sure didn't.

The flight was pure, unadulterated HELL. Yes, in ALL CAPITALS. If there was ever a time I wanted to open my brain up and erase a 17-hour block of time, this would win, hands-down.

One hour into the flight, the diarrhea started. In total, we went through 4 diapers and one entire set of clothes on a 10-hour flight. Yeah..."ew" just doesn't really do it justice. And the clothes-splattering blowout occurred right during a "stay in your seat, there is turbulance" announcement. I explained the situation and the flight attendant let me into the bathroom, where we bumped and bounced around, trying to control damage from the diaper explosion and get some new clothes on.

He did NOT end up falling asleep until the final hour of the flight, after basically screaming for the preceding hour. The screaming resulted in a nose-bleed, complete with blowing blood out his nose onto everything, as he tried to catch his breath.

We didn't know what to expect as we carried our screaming, crying child off the plane. Thankfully the other passengers parted the way to let us through.

How did it end? Well, after we went through Passport Control and got our bags, we again had a smiling, happy perfect angel-child.

What did we do? We got our hopes up again for the final 2-hour flight back home. And yes, half-way through the flight the crazy-child, complete with yet another poopy diaper (how much poop can one child produce?!) appeared again.

We are home now and all this is starting to become a distant memory. After documenting this here, I plan on promptly forgetting this 17-hour block of time and replacing it with some of the many giggling, happy-child memories that I now have.

Case Closed.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Quick Status of Russia Trip

We picked up Christopher on Tuesday! He has been such a good traveler. He didn't like the car at first (I suspect because the trunk was open and he might have thought that was where he would be riding), but quickly calmed down and started looking at everything out the window, once we got moving. Of course, he did not sleep the entire 3-hour drive back to our region. On the overnight train back to Moscow, he was so much fun. He started talking (although we couldn't understand him) and pointing to the other trains. We all slept very well on the train. All night long even. Very cool!

He had his physical today. Dr. Boris pronounced him healthy, and said that he would be breaking little girls' hearts very soon. I do believe he is right. In the mother of all coincidences, there was a boy from Christopher's orphanage at the medical center for his physical on the same day! They acted like they recognized each other - wonder if they were pals?

We have our Embassy interview tomorrow and then come back to KC on Friday.

So it's all going well so far. Will post more stories and pics when we get home and settled.

Monday, July 07, 2008

We are Back!

Well, hopefully you've been following our progress in Russia on Adventure Bound. If not, get over there and read up! I'll wait....

Okay, so we got back into KC last night around 10:30pm. Because of storms in Atlanta, flights were backed up, so the Atlanta passport control, customs, and the terminal in general were packed! We couldn't even find two empty seats in ANY of the gates to sit in - we ended up sitting on the floor by the wall of the main corridor. Which made for great people-watching! Anyway...when we finally got a seat in our gate, we found out our flight was one hour late. I should emphasize ONLY one hour - lots of folks had it worse.

We went and did what good red-blooded Americans do after returning from overseas - we had some hot dogs & fries. Yum.

Our family and our son Alex were waiting for us when we deplaned in KC. Yippee! We came home and went to bed. Alex & I actually fell asleep on the car ride home.

Our internal clocks are still wrong (the clock says 4:00pm, but to us it's 1:00am Moscow time). So I'm going off to nap now. Will post more gory details later!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Greetings from Russia!

Since Mr. Goofy did such an excellent job of posting already, I'll let him speak for the both of us today.

Check it out here: Adventure Bound

Quick note: Up to this point, I have been feeling a bit nervous about this trip. But I woke up early this morning and had some time to think. I realized that I should be feeling excited and happy. We are bringing our new son home soon, for crying out loud!

Yes, it's intimidating to be in a foreign country, where you need to think before you speak, in order to be understood. But by focusing on the wrong stuff, I was bringing myself down.

Anyway, I needed to kick myself in the pants a bit. I think it worked. More on Friday or Saturday, after court.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Back in the (Country Formerly Known as) the USSR

We are leaving Monday to begin the process of adopting our new son and bringing him home. The pace will be fast and furious. Once we reach Moscow (Tuesday) we will be poked and prodded by Russian doctors to make sure we are fit to be parents. We have heard that we will be seeing about 10 doctors for about 2 minutes each. Most Russian docs have a speciality, so we will be seeing not only a General Practitioner, but also an Infectionist, a Neurologist, a Pulmonologist, a Narcologist, and (believe it or not) a Dermatologist. Obviously the medical system is very different in Russian than in the US.

If we are pronounced "fit", we will travel overnight by train to our region. There we will have just one visit with our almost-son (a fun 6-hour round trip by car), then it's off to court on July 4th.

Court is what I am most anxious about. I remember court from four years ago, when we adopted Alex. Court is intimidating. Our judge was a large, stern lady, who didn't crack a smile - even when she granted us custody of Alex. She did not speak English - we worked through an interpreter. At one point, there was some discussion about a document that was not filed correctly. Not our fault at all, but we got the impression that the court clerk was getting her ass chewed, in Russian of course. We laughed about it later, but didn't dare even grin at the time.

We are told court in this new region lasts about 3 hours. What will they ask us? Hopefully nothing too hard!

We are bringing along a letter from our pediatrician to ask to get the 10-day waiting period* waived. We did this with Alex and it was waived quickly. But that was a different region and a different time. This region typically does not waive the 10 days. But...what if they do? Then we will be bringing home our son about two weeks earlier than planned. Eeek! We will have to think on our feet if this happens, but it would be a good problem to have.

What we expect is that they will not waive the 10 days, and we will have to head back home after court. Then a week later, we will repeat the 11+ hour journey to go pick up our then-official son.

That trip is cake. No intimidating judges, no poking and prodding, just paperwork and bonding time. We get him a passport (Russian), get him a visa, visit the Embassy to emigrate him, and we are off. Then our main job is keeping him comfortable on all the legs of the journey back: car, train and plane. All of which will be brand new to him and probably overstimulating for someone whose world has been a large room with 15 other kids his age and two female adult caregivers.

Then, when we all get home, the real adventure begins...

* A period of time in which the judgement can be appealed. Sometimes waived if the child has medicial issues that require doctor's care.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Anxiety Update!

Well, about two hours after my last post, I not only got a call from our adoption agency with a court date (July 4th), but I also got a call from Mr. Goofy that he had passed his kidney stone.

So no more wondering about when we are going to travel, and no more worrying about a kidney stone removal procedure and recovery time.

Sometime things work out well, even when you just know they won't.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Anxiety can be Fun!

It has now been two months since our first trip to Russia to meet our new son. We still have not gotten a call back with a court date. It should be any day now. Do I feel ready? NO. Am I eager to get this now two-years-and-counting process done? YES. These are weirdly conflicting feelings.

Also, in this time between first trip to Russia and second trip to Russia, Mr. Goofy decided to find a new job. Since starting a new job, then saying, "Seeya, I gotta run off to Russia for about 3 weeks" would be pretty rude, he won't be starting new job until after we are back. But his last day at old job is tomorrow. Think about that. As of this Friday, no member of the Goofy household will be reliably income-producing. Am I scared about this? Actually no. My little stock trading hobby is helping quite nicely along those lines.

And, just in case I was starting to feel comfortable with the chaos mentioned above, Mr. Goofy's kidney has decided to produce another stone. A big one. One that is stubbornly stuck just before falling into his bladder - kinda like a little kid too scared to dive into the pool. If the stone doesn't take the plunge by Friday morning, Mr. Goofy's urologist plans to go in and get it. You really don't want to know how this is done.*

Oh yeah, and I'm working on our 2007 taxes today. We had to get an extension because we busy getting ready for our Russia trip and couldn't get them in on time.

Calgon? Please get me outta here!


*If you really, really do want to know, check this out: http://www.dentonurology.com/urs.html

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Tuesday Randomness

It's Tuesday and I declare it Random Thought Day. Here's mine:

1. Finally...after four years and about eleven chiropractic interns (seriously), I think something is working! Chiro Intern #10 broke his wrist, so I saw the on-call this Monday. He did something called the Thompson Technique. I heard no pops. It felt pretty lame, really. But then I got up from the table and things felt different. I actually felt out of balance. Probably because I was in balance after being out for so long. Later in the day I was walking Murphy and I realized "my back doesn't hurt AT ALL!" This was huge, as I haven't had a minute of relief for four years. Of course, the pain came back that night, but I can't help but be optimistic.

2. I've never seen the benefit of having a food processor, until tonight. I bought a great one on sale at Target like last month. I've been too intimidated to use it. The whole "gotta read the instruction manual" really irks me. But I used it tonight to make some Spinach Lasagna*. This thing rocks! I actually screamed for joy! Now I can make my own Salsa! And Hummus! And Bean Dip! Look out!!

3. Our neighbors across the street have been taken to court by their next-door neighbors for 'harrassment'. What could they possibly achieve by going to court!?!? It's not like either one of them are going to move. Are they looking for money? A judgement to prove that one of them is "right" and the other "wrong"? I don't understand. Seems like our court system should be used for more important stuff.

4. I am so NOT looking forward to being in Russia for 20+ days. The region we are going to always requires that the adopting family stay for a 10-day 'waiting period' after court, supposedly in case a wayward relative decides to come forward and challenge the adoption. We know for a fact that the child we are adopting has no living relatives. Why are we stuck in Russia so long? If it was just Mr. Goofy and I, it would be great. A mini-adventure. However, leaving Goofy Junior for that long makes my heart hurt. Ouch.

5. Mr. Goofy quit his job today. He was going to wait until Friday, but the events of the day simply required the "Take this Job and Shove it" approach. He has another job waiting for him, but he is going to wait until we are back from Russia to start. So we will be eating Beans & Rice and Rice & Beans for a while. But I can make Bean Dip now! (see Item #2)

6. Just finished "The Host" by Stephenie Meyer. Awesome read! I made the mistake of starting her "Twilight" series, so three more books are in my future. I started "Odd Hours" last night, book four of Dean Koontz's "Odd Thomas" series about a guy that sees dead people. Really!


*with spinach from our home garden! Squee!!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Thing That Drives Me Crazy #732

Companies that use cute phrases instead of numbers for their phone number in marketing materials:

Like...
1-800-EAT-CAKE
1-866-BUY-GUNK
1-888-HOO-TERS

This strategy used to be helpful. If I forgot my favorite bakery's phone number, I could remember "EAT CAKE", convert the letters to numbers and bingo! I'm ordering my brownies.

However, recently two problems have popped up that put a big wrench in this marketing strategy:
1) multiple toll-free prefixes
2) mobile phones

Item 1) simply confuses the issue. Even if I remember "EAT CAKE", I have to remember whether the prefix is "800" or "866" or "888". Or maybe just try them all. Kinda defeats the purpose of the cute name. And starts the crazy-driving process.

Item 2) has two sub-problems:
a) Why would I need to remember a phone number? If this is indeed my favorite bakery, I'm damn-well going to have the number on speed-dial, or in my Contacts (if I have a cool PDA phone). Who actually memorizes a phone number anymore?
b) All the mobile phones I've owned do not have the corresponding letters on the phone-dialing number keys! Can you tell this is the problem I've had recently? You saw it coming, didn't you? When this happens, I am dead in the water. I cannot dial the number until I look on a land-line phone or surf the Internet for "phone keypad letters" (Thank the gods for Wikipedia, yet again!)

Give me numbers, not cute phrases!

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Goofy Vegetable Garden: An Epic Adventure

It started out as a simple plan....teach Goofy Junior how seeds grow into plants.

The mission: Grow some easy vegetables in our backyard.

The victims: Broccoli, Spinach, Bush Beans, Peppers, Carrots
(I found out later that these aren't the usual "beginner" vegetables - oops!)






NOTE: We took a tip from Jerry Baker's "Fast, Easy Vegetable Garden" and soaked our seeds overnight in a mixture of weak tea, liquid dish soap, Listerine (non-mint).




Next, we very carefully planted the seeds into small peat pots. We quickly filled the two 72-pot trays that we had purchased and had to run out and buy two more 72-pot trays.





This should have been my first clue that the project had already gotten out of control. But Goofy Junior was digging it, so we continued...






Already, the squirrels were gathering and chuckling their evil laughs, "Ha-ha! Soon the vegetables will be ours! Bah-ha-ha! I call dibs on the spinach!"














Soon the seeds in the little peat pots were sprouting. The question arose, "Where in the hell are we going to plant these things?!"

So a site was quickly identified:
(Child included for scale only. He looks like he would be helpful, but he just wanted to play with the "cute" grubs. Ew!)





NOTE: Man, sod is hard to get up when it's attached to the ground! Much Advil was required for aching back after this stage was complete.



Raised beds were requested by Mr. Goofy. This required a trip to the Big Box Hardware Store for the purchase of large quantities of wood. But wait!!!! Lowe's did not carry the suggested cedar in 2' x 16' planks. Of course not. So we had to buy fir. Fir?!?! BTW, fir must be water-proofed if used outside. Of course.

Also, because of the length we had to buy, this increased our beds from 5' x 5' to 6' x 6'. ARG! More digging. More Advil.

Then ensued much cutting and staining/waterproofing of the wood....



Are we done yet???
Whee....that smell makes me feel all goofy inside...





...meanwhile, the seeds (now plants!) were waiting patiently indoors:



"Boy, it sure looks nice outside. Why are we still stuck inside this freaking basement?"

"I don't know, but quit pushing me!"
"Step off! You pushed me first!! Have some manners!"




Then I did my best impression of Ty Pennington and constructed the boxes that would be sunk into the ground to surround the raised vegetable beds.





I love power tools!









Four cubic yards of soil/compost mix and a half-bottle of Advil later, we were ready to plant our little darlings....

But hold that spade!!!! We then had 3 days of crazy-freaky storms, with 70 mph winds. I didn't want to plant our precious veggies and have them end up down the block. So we waited....







...and waited....







Finally, we were able to plant our veggies.

Done.
What?!?!? You have to water these things!?!? Groan.

The Lemon Pie Incident

Mr. Goofy & I know another couple that is as crazy about food as we are. If we hear about a new restaurant, we grab them and go. Recently, all of us have been a little tired of eating out. I think the strain on our pocketbooks was showing. Also, with Goofy Junior, there would have to be a sitter involved and that requires planning ahead. Something we are not great at.

So...we started a dinner club of sorts. Mr. Goofy cooked first. The other couple (let's call them Mr. C & Ms.C) brought wine & dessert. It went smashingly! We all had a great time, Goofy Junior went to bed, and we continued to have a great time. There was talk of doing it again and even talk about playing bridge at some point (Mr. C knows bridge, and Mr. Goofy & I are card fanatics).

This past Saturday was Ms. C's turn to cook. She made a yummy walnut-fig-kalamata olive spread with pita for appetizer. Then a delish shrimp with creamy sauce over pasta dish for dinner. I was in charge of wine & dessert. I chose two Chardonnays (one $16 and one $6, just to be goofy - we all liked the $16 and not so much the $6).

The dessert was to be Average Jane's Lemon Chiffon Pie. I've made it before and it's super easy and super delicious. Plus, a perfect, lighter dessert would go well with the creamy shrimp.

I started making it during Spectacular Spider-Man on Saturday morning. I got to the filling part, which is eggs, various lemon parts, sugar and cornstarch. The cornstarch thickens the filling, eventually to the consistency of gravy. That's how you know you are ready to put it into the pie shell.

Well, two Spider-Men (Mans?) later, plus a Mrs. Spider's Sunnypatch something-or-other later, still no gravy! I remembered this part taking about 10 minutes the previous time. I was looking at 30 minutes already! I added some more cornstarch. No dice. I removed the filling from the heat, thinking maybe it would thicken upon cooling. No love.

I finally gave up looking for gravy after about 40 minutes and just put the filling in the shell and cooked the pie. I blame the whole thing on old cornstarch, although the true cause will remain a mystery.

Well, when it came out of the oven, it was jiggly. Very jiggly. Pamela Anderson-jiggly.

I figured it would settled once it cooled. Nope.

I put it in the fridge for an hour. Did it thicken? Nope.

So what did I do? I FROZE it.

And guess what? It was delicious! Ms. C & I had two slices each. And it made for an interesting dinner story, to boot.

Who says I can't be creative?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Multi-Level Madness

If you ever have a friend or co-worker invite you to lunch because they want to talk to you about "a new exciting project that they are working on that they want to tell you about" or "that you might be interested in", just run. Run. Fast.

Jeez. You would think I would see the signs. But no, this happened again last night.

Another MLM (multi-level marketing) pitch.

I got a free dinner, yes. But I also got an hour-and-a-half long pitch about becoming a representive for a company that would 'build my financial independence'. *

Of course it all sounds good. They learn scripts for these sorts of things.

Then I got home an did the obligatory Internet search for the company name + 'scam'. Oh, lookey there, 8 links! All from previous "representatives". And all scathing.

At least I got a free dinner.

* I won't mention the company here, because I really don't want to attract THAT sort of linky love. No thanks.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

OMG...the weirdest dream EVER.

Okay, so I had this dream last night. It was bizarre and weird to the extreme.

I was going to a new doctor for some reason. A physical, maybe? I mentioned the weird back/hip pain that I've been having for like the past four years or so.

The doctor looked at my right knee and found...screws behind my right knee. (why did I never see these before!?) He unscrewed the two screws behind my each side of right knee (and two more he found by my right ankle) and took off the outside of my right leg. There was room for storage in there. What was there? Well, electronics. Obviously, I'm bionic. LOL. But on top of the bionic stuff was....a tray of Mrs. Fields cookies. WTF?

Of course, they were stale, but the doctor ate one anyway.

Like I said, this was one weird dream.

Then, of course, he found the same screws on my left leg, and removed a similar panel from this side, revealing a similar storage area. What was there? Well, to start with, a "Who Sunk My Battleship?" game, already in progress, with all the accompanying pieces, and about a dozen small ball-peen hammers (???).

I can't remember all the stuff that was stored in my legs, but I remember thinking, "This stuff is all from the late 80's. I can't remember putting it there, but I must have. I've been walking around with all this baggage from way back THEN???!!!"

I remember thinking, "Wow! I've been walking around with all this BAGGAGE all this time. It will be so nice to get rid of all this stuff and be lighter". Significance? I dunno. Am I ditching some emotional baggage now that I've been carrying for some time? Dream interpreters, please let me know!

On a related note: I realized when I woke up from this bizarro dream that the right side of my head was facing upwards. (I was laying with my left side on the pillow) Usually, when I dream really creative/bizarre dreams, the right side of my head is upwards, like this. When I have more practical, day-to-day dreams, the left side of my head (brain?) is facing upwards.

Does anyone ever have this same thing occur? Pay attention next time you have a weird (or not weird) dream and let me know. Maybe I'm just imagining this...

p.s. I should mention that right before I went to bed, I watched "Battlestar Galactica", you know...the show where Cylons (robots) look just like humans? And also that I'm reading Stephanie Meyer's newest book "The Host", which is about alien life-forms inhabiting human bodies, while the souls within them are still present. Might explain some of the weirdness.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Goofy + 31,000 Other People...

went to visit Warren Buffet and his Merry Berkshire Hathaway Festival of Capialism. Yes, I scored the tickets on eBay and they actually let me in to the Shareholder Meeting. Me and 31,000 of my closest friends. Buffet's fan(atics) filled the Qwest Center, and then some.

Having gotten some last minute intel from GA, I showed up at 7:10am for the 8:30am meeting. Being just me, myself and I, I scored a pretty good seat about 5 rows from the floor, on the aisle. Again, on intel from GA (thanks buddy!), I had my binoculars, so I did some intensive people watching until the show started.

I had a great conversation with very smartly dressed lady who has been coming to Warren's annual party for the past FIFTEEN YEARS. Dude! We discussed how this was probably the only event in the Qwest Center where you could "save" your seat by simply draping a newspaper over the seat and leaving. People did this! They showed up, draped the newspaper, then went and got breakfast or visited the exhibition hall. Then about 8:00am, they came back...and their seats were still there!! She also mentioned that people bring their purchases from the exhibition hall back to their seats and leave those too, when they take a potty break.

This kinda restored my faith in the human race. A tiny bit.

All in all, the BRK shareholders are pretty fine peeps. Generally older than me, there were a lot of grey-haired couples, in sweater vests and trousers, looking very dapper and buying lots of peanut brittle.

WTF? Yes, peanut brittle! See's Candies is one of BRK companies. At the exhibition hall, I circled their (giant!) booth like 3 times, looking for an opening to buy some candy. But I was DENIED. 8 rows deep was the line to check out! For candy!

I kinda like these folks....

As far as racial diversity, there was some, but not really representative of the general population, IMHO. I saw many Asians, lots of Germans, some Hispanics and Indians, but I was hard pressed to find any Black folks. ??? I pondered this way too long before deciding that, well, the companies that BRK owns maybe just don't really market towards that population. I guess. Once I noticed this lack of diversity, it was hard to overlook.

As far as male/female ratio, I was pleasantly surprised. There was pretty many women there. Probably because of the aforementioned 'couple' thing.

At the exhibition hall, I got my picture taken at the GEICO booth on a way-cool motorcycle, and flirted with the Fruit of the Loom fruit guys (the purple grape guy was especially cute).

And, the highlight of my day...I saw my personal hero, Tim Ferriss, author of "The 4-Hour Workweek". He was sitting in my section! I did one of those, "is that HIM? Is it? Nah. Hmmm... Yes! It's him! Oh shit. Do I go say something? What?!?!" I was chicken and didn't approach him. Then read on his blog the next day how he was nervous about the possibility of meeting Warren Buffet and how he prepared his elevator speech, just in case.

Lesson learned. Next year I will prepare for the impossible.

Saturday night was the big Beach Party. Food, music and lots of Buffet fans, in the Nebraska Furniture Mart parking lot. As it turned out, this was the longest line of the day! These folks wanted a damn $5 taco, and were willing to wait in line for it. Quite a long line...

We passed and ended up in the hotel room with pizza and wine and "Chronicles of Narnia". All in all, and fine ending to the weekend.

So, did I learn anything that will make me piles of cash in the next year? Well, sadly no. Did I experience something that lots of people don't and that I may not again my in lifetime. Yes!

And that, my friends...is priceless.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

In Which I Score Big on eBay

I love eBay. I have bought a LOT of stuff on eBay. I have sold a LOT of stuff on eBay. I love the 'thrill of the hunt' and sniping something away from another poor schmuck in the last 7 seconds of an auction. I've gotten quite good at it.

But I was denied today. DENIED. But it all turned out well. I love when that happens!

I was bidding on a set of Berkshire Hathaway 2008 Shareholder Meeting tickets this afternoon... What's that? You're wondering why in the world would I want these? Well, my friend... Mr. Buffet (as in Warren, not Jimmy) throws quite the party bash for his shareholders. We are talking a weekend of pure capitalist fun in Omaha, including a cocktail reception Friday, a Baja Beach Bash on Saturday night (2007's bash included the other Mr. Buffet - Jimmy!), and exclusive shareholder shopping day on Sunday and a DAY-LONG Q&A period with Mr. B and his crew. I heard from someone who's been there that it's better than an MBA.

...which sounds like a blast to me. I know, I'm a weirdo.

So, if you own at least one share of BRK stock, you get two tickets for free. The problem? The stock is currently trading at $4387 per share. No, I didn't forget a decimal point. Four GRAND and change = Too rich for me.

Luckily, Mr. B is generous and gives away some tickets each year at a nominal fee.

Which leads us back to this afternoon. I had found the tickets on eBay and was bidding. There was not too much action on the auction, so I wasn't worried (first bad sign). I waited until about 30 seconds were left in the auction and jumped in at $20 for two tickets. I was the high bidder for about 3 seconds, then I wasn't. ARG! I showed my hand too early! I tried to quickly re-bid at $26, was denied, and the auction ended. The tickets sold for $30.

Damn! I had really counted on winning the tickets. So I looked at my "Sorry you're a big fat loser" email auto-generated by eBay, and looked for 'similiar auctions'.

Lo and behold, there it was! A link to tickets offered directly from BH. No auction required, just "Buy it Now" for $3. SCORE!

So I lost, but then I won and saved $27 in the process. I love a happy ending! Squee!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Name Game - Part Two

Before we traveled to meet New Kid, I wrote about potential issues with names. Since New Kid comes "complete with name" we needed to decide if that name would "work" in the US.

As it turns out, his given name is Sergei. Not a bad name. It would work in the US with no problems. However, here's the rub: the kid does NOT look like a "Sergei".

I imagine a "Sergei" as a dark, swarthy, handsome and mysterious dude. New Kid is not that, even accounting for the fact that it's hard to be dark and mysterious when you're only two years old.

He is blonde. He has blue eyes. I just can't channel "Sergei" from that.

So the Name Chase has begun. We have a few potentials, but not many. Most the names we like are now attached to one of Alex's schoolmates. And typically not in a good way, if you get my drift.

Before we knew his name, we discussed coming up with something that sounds similar, since he knows his name currently. This would confuse him less. Hopefully.

Two problems with this:
(1) What in the hell sounds like "Sergei"?
Fergie? Surrey? Suri?!

(2) Russians don't typically use their kids' given names in everyday conversations. They are very big on nicknames.
I didn't hear anyone in the baby home ever call him "Sergei". That's too formal for kids. Sergei's nickname is "Seregozha". Huh? It took us two days to get the proununciation right. I'm not even trying to match that with another name.

I'm thinking "Bob" sounds about right at this point...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Cookies Make the World Go 'Round

We met with New Kid three times last week: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

On Wednesday (our first meeting), New Kid did not want to have anything to do with Mr. G. Typically all the staff in the Russian baby homes are female, so this was to be expected. Mr. G belonged to a new and unusual species, of which New Kid had never seen before. He kept a close eye on Mr. G and wouldn't let him get too close. At one point he actually pushed Mr. G away!


On Thursday, we were determined to have New Kid do a little more interaction with Mr. G. New Kid was playing with some blocks, so Mr. G moved up slowly and sat behind him. You could tell that New Kid was still not digging this. We decided a little movement was in order.

I took one of New Kid's hands, Mr. G took the other and we started walking around the room. After a few steps, New Kid pulled his hand away from Mr. G....Darn!

Then New Kid walked over to the table in the room, that just so happened to have a tin of butter cookies in it, from lunch. He stopped in front and stared at the cookies. I smelled opportunity...

Mr. G got a cookie, showed it to New Kid, then sat down and pulled New Kid onto his lap. And started feeding him bits of cookie. There was no whining! And no crying! New Kid happily munched his cookie, possibly thinking, "Hmm....I kinda like this new species. Yum!"

A little while later, we saw New Kid's first smile (of many to come!). And after this, New Kid's fear of Mr. G simply disappeared.

Looks like we will be stocking some butter cookies in the Goofy pantry from now on...

We are Home!

Ahhhhh...it's so nice to be home. We were able to adjust our flights so that instead of getting home Sunday at 6:00pm, we actually flew to Chicago last night and got in this morning around 10:00am. This gives us an almost-whole day at home before the real week starts.

In the process of changing flights, we got bumped up to Business Class on Lufthansa. Let me tell this, this was kick-ass! More leg room than my living room and the seats have their own remote control that allows you to adjust almost everything. This includes a feature to make the seat lay all the way down into a bed. Flat! Which is pretty cool for a > 9 hour flight. Oh yeah, and there were about 20 movies to choose from. I had to keep my eyelids propped open to finish the two movies I wanted to watch ("National Secrets - Book Two" and "Golden Compass", if you're curious). And the food? Let's just say between us we had smoked trout, veal, lamb and tillapia. And tiramisu for dessert. On an airplane. Whoda thunk it? Oh, and the free wine (6 choices!) wasn't bad either.

I'll post more later - it's about midnight for me body-clock-wise, and we still have a dog to pick up and laundry to do.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Our Own Amazing Race!

Well, we finally made it to Russia. We have not had much spare time at all since we arrived.

Right out of the gates, things went wrong. Our flight from KC to Chicago was delayed FOUR HOURS because of thunderstorms in Chicago. And this is after getting to KCI TWO HOURS early (suggested for an international flight). Of course it took us only 15 minutes to check in.

I love sitting in airports waiting, don't you? GAH!!!!

Okay, so we finally got to Chicago. We thought MAYBE our flight to Munich would be delayed in leaving because of the weather. Nope. It left without us. RATS!

So another THREE HOURS waiting in Chicago for the next flight to Munich.

On the Munich flight they played two movies that you wouldn't want to watch before going to adopt: "Martian Child" (single guy adopts really weird child) and "August Rush" (mom thinks her son was born dead, but in reality he is alive and homeless). Both great movies, but I really wanted to get my mind OFF adoption. "Golden Compass" would have been about my speed.

So we get to Munich, wait only ONE HOUR this time, and jump onto our plane to Moscow.

Because of all the delays, when we reached Moscow, our poor driver had to drive really, really fast to get us to the train station for our overnight train to our region. No nap. No snack. No change of clothes in Moscow.

We finally got some down-time on the train. The train was cool. We had a sleeper cabin with two bunks (Ah....we got to actually lie down to sleep. Yeah!) and a small table. We had dinner in our cabin - yummy.

We slept well and in the morning we were in our region. Instead of going directly to a hotel to, I don't know...SHOWER, we headed straight for the Ministry of Education to get details about our referral child.

Only after this did we get to our hotel. For an hour. We showered, then jumped into our driver's car for a THREE HOUR trip to the baby home.

Yeah...and that was just the first two days.

More later....

Monday, March 31, 2008

Delayed!

Chicago has thunderstorms…we boarded the plane, then got back off. Probably an hour’s delay. Just enough to make us worried about connections. Our travel agent says "no worries" but who knows?

I already have a headache and there’s 15 hours to go. Ugh.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

And We're Off...

The visas are here. The airplane tickets are in hand. The bags are packed. The grandparents have arrived. We are about as ready as we will ever be.

We don't know anything about potential new son. We don't know if our laptop will work in the region. We don't know if the train is heated or not. We don't know if we will have an extra day in Moscow or not. We don't know much.

I think ignorance is bliss in this situation.

Luckily, we love adventure. Whee!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Name Game

I almost forgot about this fun bit...when you adopt, your child already comes with a name. If he is younger (< 1 year or so), you can probably change this name without too much trouble. However, in our case, we are adopting a two-year-old. He's going to know what his name is.

In Alex's case, he came with a pretty easy name - Alexander. It "works" over here in the states. Before we went to meet Alex and found out his name (they don't tell you in advance), we jokingly called him "Boris". When folks would ask about naming, we would say, "Well, if his name is something like Vladamir, we will probably consider changing it. However, if it's something like Alexander, we will keep it."

You can imagine our shock when his name was actually Alexander!

In hindsight, we spent a LOT of time worrying about naming, when we didn't need too.

But...we have to consider this again for New Kid. At two, we will probably know and identify with his name. If we change it, we will need to change it to something similar. This makes it darn near impossible to prepare ahead of time!

Do we look up most common Russian boy names and find alternatives that 'work' in America? (ouch...too much work)

Do we just keep his existing name, even if it's Vlad or Dmitry? (easiest solution, but he might get beat up in the future)

Do we just come up with a new name and figure he will learn the new one? (not very nice, IMHO)

ARG.

I dug out our old 'name list' hoping for some help there. Yuk. Names that we liked four years ago do NOT sound good now.

Oh yeah, and there's one more situation that could occur. He could be named "Alexander". What do we do then? We will have two kids with the same name. Hmmm...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Talk

When you already have a child, and another is on the way, there comes a time when you have to sit down and talk to them about how things are going to change.

When one is pregnant, you have some sort of idea about the time frame (typically 9 months, from what I hear). You can also plan on spending some extra time with your child, so that when New Kid comes, they feel all lovey-dovey and not jealous of Parental-Time-Sucking New Kid.

However....

When you are adopting second child, things work a bit differently.

For example, we had The Talk with Alex about New Kid about a year and a half ago. We really thought it would happen quickly. Of course, he immediately went to school and started talking about his baby brother.

I had to slap the folks that started gazing at my belly. Sidenote: I don't know how you pregnant moms deal with people staring, fondling and commenting on your belly. How rude is this!

One time last fall, Alex & I were grocery shopping. He picked up a 4-pack of yogurt and said, "Look Mommy! One for me, one for Mommy, one for Daddy and one for my baby brother."

Better check that expiration date on the yogurt...I don't think Baby Brother will be here in time to eat it!

So now that we have gotten The Call, we have to have The Talk with Alex again. New Kid is not like Elmo - just a make-believe furry creature that never comes to your house for real - just through that box in the living room. New Kid is really coming...look out!

Another difference is that, instead of being able to spend quality time with Alex, we get to leave him for 7 days, then come back for a few months (without New Kid - how confusing will that be?), then leave him for about 20 days, then come back with New Kid and rock his world.

We have to do things like leave him notes, photos, etc. so he doesn't forget who we are when we are traveling.

And - are kids like dogs?....should we introduce them on 'neutral ground' so no one feels dominate/submissive on the 'home turf'?

We are treading new ground here. The Talk should be interesting. I'll let you know how it goes!

Holy Mackerel!

As some of you already know, Mr. Goofy and I have had paperwork in almost two years to adopt a little boy from Russia. Our current son, Goofy Junior, is also adopted from Russia. Typically, the second adoption is supposed to go faster (you've already done most the paperwork - it's mainly just renewing it all...and more money, of course). This didn't happen, since a few months before we got our paperwork done, Russia decided to revamp their adoption system and re-accredit all the adoption agencies they worked with.

Well, this took a while. They work with a lot of agencies. And we've been in a holding pattern for almost two years now. Our agency was re-accredited at the end of December, but we hadn't heard anything so far.

Until Monday.

Our agency rep called. They have a little boy they would like us to come and meet. And, oh, by the way, could we leave next Monday?

Huh? HUH?!?! That's like, not even 7 days to get visas, get international flights, pack (not a small matter!), get grandparent on the phone for sitting duty and prepare to meet our potential new son.

Yeah, that last one is pretty important. When we adopted Alex, we brought over TONS of Russian medical terminology printouts, growth charts, maps, language guides, etc. We knew we were traveling a month ahead of time, and I still remember getting frantic at the last moment.

So, this time we have 6 days to prepare for this very important trip. GAH!

Breathe...breathe...breathe... SCREAM!

We were able to get our visa paperwork going first thing Tuesday morning. Literally as I am typing, I just got an email that my visa was approved. Yeah! BUT...I still have to get it in the mail before we fly our Monday morning. And no word on Mr. Goofy's...yet.

We struggled with flight reservations. No 7 day advance purchase = $$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Luckily, Mr. Goofy remembered reading about an adoption-friendly* travel agency that was mentioned on one of our adoption e-groups. We found them, called and this Travel Agent Angel was able to secure two tickets on Lufthansa (we be stylin', no?) for the price of one ticket on Delta. It's still pricey, but acceptable.

NOTE: On our trips to meet Alex, we flew Aeroflot from the US to Russia. There's a whole other post about flying on a Russian airline, but let's just say I'm thinking we will be living la vida posh on Lufthansa.

Right now I'm struggling with SHOES! You really walk almost everywhere in Russia and my favorite walking shoes are TOAST. Yes, I know, this is like the lamest thing to be worried about, but if my feet hurt, I'm cranky. No time to be cranky on this trip.

Oh, and here's the schedule:
Leave KC
Arrive Moscow
Jump on overnight train to middle o' Russia
Arrive middle o' Russia
Nap (we hope!)
Go to orphanage for visit
After 3 days in region, reverse the process

We left ourselves an extra day in Moscow before our flight home, just in case something is delayed our they want us to stay longer. Your middle name has to be "Flexible" when doing international adoption. Nothing is for sure until it actually happens.

So, if everything works out, maybe we will have a day in Moscow to visit Red Square again, maybe see the Kremlin this time (it was closed our last trip, as Putin was "in the house") and (if I can stomach it) go see Lenin's tomb.

So, dear readers, please send some on-time-flights--on-time-trains--healthy-child--no-problems-while-overseas thoughts our way next week.

If I can find a Russian Internet Cafe, I will post next week with the gory details. Dasvidanya for now!

* meaning flights can be booked last-minute, as well as changed, refunded, spindeled and mutilated without extraordinary fees! A decidedly good thing for us!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Adventures in Camping - Part Three

Part 3 - The Accidental Great Hike

Saturday morning we set off to hike in the Charon's Garden Wilderness Area. We had our sights set on finding the rock climbing areas in the Refuge. Several folks had told us that these were beautiful areas and Mr. Goofy definitely wanted to scope them out for future climbing trips.

We had to drive to the trailhead. We packed up our climbing shoes and harness and looked for the marker for the trailhead. We found a picnic area with some parking and lots of activity. "This must be it!" we thought.

We estimated that we would be at the climbing areas in about 30 minutes. Easy peasy, right?

From the map, it looked like we could head down the Elk Mountain trail and at some point there would be a branch to the right that would take us to the other trail and the climbing areas.

Stupid map. If Dora had this map, she would never make it to Tallest Mountain, that's for sure.

We hiked and hiked, gradually gaining elevation. At some point, we forgot to keep looking for a rightward branching trail. In hindsight, the hike was pretty great - lots of interesting terrain and enough rocks to keep you on your toes.

About 45 minutes later, we realized that we were NOT on the right trail, we were NOT headed to climbing areas, but rather the top of Elk Mountain. Gah!

Since we were already committed, we went ahead and summited Elk Mountain (probably about an hour's hike total). It was beautiful!

You see, most mountain tops are small. You summit, look around, take the obligatory "I made it to the top...see?" photos, then you head down.

But this summit was HUGE...spatious and beautiful. Lots of gigantic, round rocks, that we joked looked like whales, hippos and giant eggs. We probably spent another hour on top of the mountain, just exploring, taking pictures and climbing on rocks.

And we accidentally snuck up on this bison. He must have taken the wrong trail too!

NOTE: For WAY better pictures, taken by someone who actually knows what he is doing, check out Mr. Goofy's pics at Adventure Bound.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Adventures in Camping - Number Two

Part 2 - Trail Runs

Trail running is a sport where you put on running shoes with beefy soles, usually in some "outdoor" color (green, brown, tan) and you run on hiking trails in the woods.

Trail runs are when you get to your campsite and right in the middle of setting up camp, your son announces that some poop has "sneaked out of his butt". EEK.

Daddy to the rescue...one pair of underwear down for the count (Thank heavens for Ziplocs!).

Ten minutes later, more Sneaky Poop. Gah!

Again Daddy to the rescue. Thank heavens for Daddy! Who, in a brilliant moment of foresight, washed the underwears (I was ready to pitch them...cause you know...EW!) and hung them between two trees to dry. Yeah, we looked pretty white trash, yes we did.

Sneaky Poop: 2 Underwear: 0

No, er, movement happened for about twenty minutes, so we decided it was safe to go for a hike. Yep, we were wrong. Ten minutes into the hike....more Sneaky Poop!

Back to the car. Much cleaning of the butt region. Installment of Underwear #3 (of only 4 packed!).

Smart Daddy came up with another brilliant idea - a big wad of Kleenex in the underwear. Alex was very put off by this, and actually walked like a duck for a while, but gradually forgot about it.

This was a brilliant idea, because it saved Underwear #3. You guessed it...Sneaky P. again.

We gave up on the plan of a longer hike and headed back to camp. Once at camp, Alex & Daddy headed to the rustic campsite outhouse. I can proudly say that my son pooped in the campground potty (they are pretty yukky and kinda creepy, especially if you watched that one X-Files episode about the monster that lives in the outhou....oh nevermind).
The point of this icky story? Camping really makes you appreciate the pleasures of indoor plumbing.










Monday, March 17, 2008

Adventures in Camping (a multi-part series)

Part 1 - Forgotten Things

This past weekend, the Goofy Family packed up the Family Roadster and headed south for some camping in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Located in southern Oklahoma, the WMWR is home to Bison, Elk, Longhorn Cattle and (much to Goofy Junior's delight) cute little Prairie Dogs.

Since my camera is currently located in the Family Roadster, which is currently located at Mr. Goofy's work garage, you'll have to wait for photos.

This trip was packed with fun, melodrama (present anytime a 4-year-old is involved) and danger. (insert Mutual of Omaha "Wild Kingdom" theme music here - if anyone remembers it)

We didn't decide to make this trip until the last minute. Actually the wrench-in-the-works was trying to sweet-talk the kennel into making room for our beloved dog, Murphy. It's spring break, you know. Thanks to a last minute cancellation, Murphy got a spot at the kennel (or the "spa" as we like to call it). So we were off...

At this point, I must confess that I am an anal-retentive planner/organizer when it comes to traveling. Whether it's a weekend camping trip or a week-long trip via airplane, I get pretty focused on the packing process.

You see, I have this personality flaw: I HATE taking something on a trip that I DON'T use.

It drives me nuts. This includes, but is not limited to, clothes, food, toiletries, shoes, and books (although I always bring too much reading material....always.).

I'm constantly asking myself "Am I really going to need this?" when I pack. I also usually pack, then just for principle, take 2-3 things out and leave them at home. This usually leads to a lot of washing of undies in hotel sinks. But I digress...

My husband, dear Mr. Goofy, is the complete opposite. He would take the kitchen sink with us if he thought there might be a hookup near the campsite for it. I think it's that whole Boy Scout "Be Prepared" philosophy.

Okay, so now that I've established our respective freakishness when it comes to packing, here's what happened on this trip. Since we did not have a lot of time to plan/pack (about 24 hours total), we ended up bringing the wrong things and leaving some essential things.

Like...

I remembered my styling brush, but forgot a hair dryer and even more importantly towels. No towels = no showers for us until we got home! Pee-yew!

We remembered all the makings for S'mores (yum) for our campsite dessert, but forgot to bring jugs of water from home. We ended gagging down well water from the campsite. Even adding powdered Powerade to it didn't mask the metalic taste. Gag.

We remembered Uno cards for campsite entertainment (which we didn't end up doing - too windy), but didn't remember to get much traveling cash. We went through 4 toll stations on the way down (and on the way back too) and the campsite office and the local restaurant only took cash. We were borrowing money from Goofy Junior for the last toll!

We remembered our full-on medical kit (complete with splints, roll of bandages, stethoscope, first aid book, etc.) but forgot to replenish our kit with either alcohol wipes or antibiotic cream. We had to doctor our many scrapes with only water and a Band-aid until we got home. Ow.

But even with the forgotten things, and the extra things, we had a great time. We had so much fun that for the next week, I'll be posting more about our trip. There are so many stories to tell...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Goofy Cooks...Kinda

I hosted our neighborhood book club tonight. Our book was "Second Glance" by Jodi Picoult. We all enjoyed the book, although it was long (400+ pages) and had a plethora of characters. As usual, Picoult did a great job neatly tying all the characters and plotlines into a nice, hearty package at the end, as well as incorporating some controversial topics (ghosts, eugenics and American Indian land rights specifically). Great author!

Our menu was Quiche Lorraine and Tomato Bisque. This would have been the perfect cold winter night menu; however it was about 65 degrees outside. It was still good. And I'm not complaining.

If you need to entertain a small group and need something fast and easy, but want to look like you spent a lot of time preparing, try this...

Tomato Bisque
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes w/ juice
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 cup water
2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp. dried dill
1 tbsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. sugar

Put all ingredients in a pot and whisk together. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Serves 6.

Quiche Lorraine - buy a frozen Quelle Quiche from your local grocery store. Cheating? Hell, yes, but really, unless they see the box, only you will know!

I also provided a Mirassou Chardonnay.

My guests kept complaining that I went to too much trouble and I set the bar too high, blah, blah, blah. They don't know that this entire meal took me about 10 minutes total to prepare.

Shhhh....don't tell.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Goofy Dusts Off Her Green Thumb

As in gardening. As in vegetable gardening.

I recently heard about an organization called Food Not Lawns, and have been reading a lot about urban gardening, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) and the like.

If you think about it, it is a bit odd that we Americans spend so much time and money growing a plant (grass) that has no value other than looking pretty and keeping soil in place. Think of all the businesses built around seeding, aerating, fertilizing, weeding, to make that lawn green, green, GREEN.

Why not take a bit of your lawn and grow something that you can actually use (i.e., eat)?

Nothing like a bit of logic to get me fired up.

Also in the Goofy household, we have been trying to eat food that is fairly close to its source (consider the Twinkie...what is the real source of a Twinkle? Hmm.....). In order to make this more fun, I suggest to Goofy Junior that we grow some vegetables in our backyard. He loved the idea so much that he would not shut up about it. For example, yesterday (Sunday) he came up to me and want to plant the vegetables in our backyard. Right. Now. Mommy.

I had to explain that there was a bit of preparation that was needed first. Like um, buying some seeds. And starting the seeds. And digging a bed in the backyard.

These are times when I love the Internet. I fired up the computer, typed in "starting a vegetable garden" and got a few great instructional sites, plus a site with gallery pictures of lots of vegetables. Goofy Junior & I took a look through the veggie pictures and we had our own little Vegetable Voting Primary.

Broccoli got thumbs-up (yeah, I was surprised too). Carrots got thumbs-down (strange). Eggplant got thumbs-up (I think because it was purple and shiny).

So, I went to my local Lowe's and got some seeds and some starter containers. The winners: Spinach, Broccoli, Carrots, Sweet Peppers and Green Beans.

I'm hoping to start the Great Goofy Vegetable Endeavor next week. I'll do some periodic posts (maybe even with (gasp!) photos!) to document our progress.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Alex Meets Harry

While flipping around channels last week, my son became enthralled with a Harry Potter movie. He wanted to watch it. Anal Retentive Mom said, "No, this is the third movie, and it's in the middle of the movie. We will rent the first movie and watch it, if you want to."

I thought that was the end of it.

It wasn't.

For the next several days, all Alex wanted was to "watch the Harry Potter movie". Memory like an elephant, I'm telling you.

Keep in mind that I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan. Read all the books. Watched all the movies. Some multiple times. I wanted to make this a good experience. I look forward to reading all the books together, at some point. I just didn't think it would be so soon!

I also didn't want to scare the shit out of my 4-year-old son. The most recent movie was pretty darn scary/violent, but I couldn't remember too much scariness from the very first movie.

Yeah. Whoops. There are some scary parts. (CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR LAME FOLKS THAT HAVEN'T SEEN/READ THE FIRST HARRY POTTER BOOK/MOVIE) Like at the end when Quirrell turns around and Voldemort's face is on the back of his head. And the three-headed dog (Fluffy) guarding the Sorcerer's Stone. And when Voldemort is drinking the dead unicorn's blood and attacks Harry.

Alex took it all in stride. In fact, when Mr. Goofy got home, he got an excited earful....

"Daddy! Vomomort* gave Harry Potter a scarf* and killed his mom and dad. And do you know what he was drinking? The unicorn's blood. Because he was DEAD."

Yep. I've scarred him for life. Now onto "Eragon"!

* not typos. Just 4-year-old speak.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Endangered Species: Combs?

What has happened to combs?!?! Combs are disappearing from the face of the earth. We must act fast to save this endangered species!

I don't typically think about combs much. Okay, really not at all. I use one in the morning to detangle my hair. Well, my comb broke last week. I went to buy a new one.

I must admit that my comb is kind of specialized. But how specialized can it really be? It's a comb, for crying out loud!

Anyway, here's my beloved (and now fatally injured) comb:

It's a Scunci Soft Comfort Grip™ Lift-and-Tease Comb. Call me high-maintanance, but this comb rocks!

And I not only found it impossible to find a replacement for my rockin' comb, I had a really difficult time finding any combs at all!

I looked at CVS and Walgreen's. No luck. They had mainly the gigantic, big-toothed combs. I don't have that much hair! Then I tried Beauty Express and Beauty Brands. These places were pathetic! They only had the barber-shop black bare-bones combs.

Everyone I asked seemed very apologetic that they didn't have more combs. Where have all the combs gone!?!? Is there some sort of comb boycott going on? Is someone stockpiling combs for some sort of comb revolution? Am I just old school for even using a comb?

I'm perplexed.

If someone can find this near-extinct comb somewhere, I'm offering a reward!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Laugh of the Day

Time Warner Cable...always good for a laugh.

This page on their website helps you understand your bill. Supposedly. It really doesn't explain why I was charged $3.99 for renting "Callejon De Los Mila". *

But that's not the funny part.

Take a look at the second graphic - "Back of Bill". Take a close look at what our friend Jane Customer has been renting, under "Movies and Events"....


"The Nasty Professor"!?!??! (not The Nutty Professor, which would be the G-rated movie with our pal Eddie Murphy). I'm thinking porno.

Jane, you need a date, girl!
*I think this means "Alley of the somethingorothers" - kudos to anyone who can help translate. Callejon is 'alley', but "mila" is not in my Spanish dictionary at all.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Are Kids and Good Food Mutually Exclusive!?!

Hey! Look what I started...

There was a recent article in KC Magazine called "Family Dining With Kids" (January 2008 - p. 57 of the link). Their suggestions for eating out well with your kids in Kansas City? Crayola Cafe, Rain Forest Cafe, T-Rex Cafe, Fritz's, Papa Keno's and Avelluto's Italian Delight.

This pissed me off.

I don't buy into the belief that your dining-out life ends when you have kids. I believe that you can still go out and eat some pretty darn good food, with kids in tow. We do it often.

Anyway, my full rant is here: Chowhound

And I think I've hit a nerve - I have quite a few comments to the post. Take a look and chime in with your thoughts!

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Day of Water Horses and Wills

Wills:
Since we will be traveling to Russia again, someday, we have been needing to get our wills into place. Just in case.

I say "wills" (plural) because, yes, we BOTH need to do our own will. Seems strange, because I believe if one of us kicks the proverbial bucket and the other one is still around, all assets go to the surviving spouse. No questions asked. But maybe that's just a Kansas thing.

I signed up with Prepaid Legal about a year ago, with one of the main reasons being that they do your will for free. And your spouse's for $20, I found out later. Not a bad deal, I think.

Except....

Who wants to think about dying? Not me, buddy. We have procrastinated and procrastined. Then, when we got to the actual paperwork (a fairly easy 5 page form), there were Decisions.

Big Decisions.

Like who would take custody of Alex if we both go down in a fiery plane crash? Who would manage distributing the assets from our mondo estate (1 mortgaged house, 2 cars, and 3 iPods)? How about who makes the decision to continue life-supporting services, should one of us be unable to make that decision? Who gets Murphy (our dog)?

Gulp. Like I said, you just don't think (or WANT to think) about this stuff on a daily basis.

Anyway, I finally got the paperwork done today and in the mail. Now I'm prepared to die. EEK!

Water Horses:
Alex & I went to see Water Horse: Legend of the Deep tonight. What a great movie! And not just a kid movie either. It's about the legend of the Loch Ness Monster, and rated PG, so I was a bit concerned that Alex might have nightmares for the next 10 years if I took him. But the only other option was Enchanted, and, with or without Patrick Dempsey, I would have needed at least a bottle of wine before venturing to that piece of cinematic excellence.

Anyway, to test my Scaredy Cat theory, I went to the movie's website and showed him the movie trailer. He was not scared and wanted to see all the trailers. Dude, there were about 10 snippets of the movie available to watch! I felt like I saw the whole thing before even leaving the house. But there was more to the movie after all.

It was very well done, the scenery was amazingly beautiful - made me want to visit Scotland. And the effects related to the "monster" were superb. There were some perilous scenes and some gunfire, but Alex was pretty un-fazed by that. He enjoyed the cute monster parts (when the monster is small) and there's plenty of comedic parts in the movie.

I've always been intrigued by the legend of the Loch Ness Monster, and this movie attempts to put some explanation behind the legend. I thought it was very well done.

Although from the minute we sat down and someone rattled a popcorn bag, all Alex could say was "Mommy, I need a snack." (looking pointedly at the bag-rattler). I managed to put him off until we got home (I'm not buying a $10 bag of popcorn when we have popcorn in the fridge!), then he had two crackers and crashed.

Let's hope the monster stays out of his dreams. And mine too.