Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Wasn't Christmas enough?!

My sweet, wonderful child. He loves his Daddy so much and wants to be more and more like him. Daddy likes computer games? Roman wants to play computer games. Daddy likes Star Wars? Roman wants to watch Star Wars. Daddy likes Legos? Roman wants to play with Legos.

For Christmas we got him a tub of Legos, the 4+ "regular" kind. Roman has tried hard, but he just doesn't have the finger strength to snap them together. So Doug and I agreed today that we should get him a tub of Duplo blocks instead, which I have seen him play with at preschool. But we didn't imagine the thrill that it would give Roman!

We got home from Target after picking up the Duplos around 4:20pm. Daddy came home at 5:30ish and we were STILL playing Duplos. And it was Roman building, destroying, and building again the entire time. He brought his Duplo zebra to the dinner table, and cried when it was bath time because he wanted to keep playing. He perked up when Daddy agreed to a baby Duplo penguin in the bath. And Roman can't decide which is better about tomorrow - playing with his Duplos some more, or what preschool has scheduled. So with all the gifts Roman got at Christmas, we missed the mark with Legos, but have made it up now.

Preschool, by the way, is doing Jammies & Slippers day. Roman has decided to wear his Thomas pjs. Very important decisions that a 3-year-old has to make. My excitement is going to be a blind date with a house around 4pm that has really intrigued us.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The *almost* end of the adoption.

We had our last post-placement meeting with Nancy today. This is what is required for Russian adoptions; reports & pictures at 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, and 3 years post-placement. We've had Roman close to 3 years now - can you believe it?! I had "Records Day" today so no kids; I picked Roman up at 12:15 and we met Daddy at home, then had a quick lunch at McDonald's before we got to Nancy's office. The meeting went fine, and Roman even answered a few questions. It was leaving that finally got me, however - it's done. No more reports to Russia. No paperwork connection to Russia anymore. No reason to stay connected with the agency. We don't have to "jump" if Russia calls. In my mind, the adoption is over.

Now, we still have to get it to Lansing to get apostilled, and Doug and I are planning on taking a half day to do it together, and having a short celebratory lunch afterward. But I had been treating today's appointment much like the others - a hoop to get through again. But this one had a finality to it, and my emotional reaction took me by surprise.

In house news, we're going to have a couple houses lined up for us at the beginning of the week; meanwhile, we've been asked if we're willing to do another Open House on Sunday. We decided that if there's a realtor willing to sit around our house for 3 hours, we're willing to go find something to do. This time, I hope it's shopping!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Interested in dating again.

After a sufficient mourning period of any relationship, you've got to get back out there. Even though your heart may not be fully healed, you can never find love again unless you take a risk. And so, Doug and I are ready to date again. Houses, that is.

We have chosen 5 to take a look at over the next few days. It's not all about looks - we care about what's on the inside. Age doesn't particularly matter either - in fact, the two that intrigue us most are of very disparate ages; one built in 1921, the other built in 1966. And we're looking at all shapes and sizes; from farmhouse, to trilevel, to ranch. They all have some pluses and drawbacks - can we live in an old farmhouse that was last updated in the 1950s? Can we live in a house that has little privacy and is just like my childhood friend's? Or can we stay interested in a house that, besides an odd main room (is it a dining room? formal living room?) has an unfinished basement when we swore we'd never finish another?

But we don't want to stay hooked on the bidded house. While we may find our way back to it and build a permanent relationship, we need to play the field... have "backup," if you will. Now, if only our current house would start an affair of its own...

Along the housing line, I do have to say that searching for a house has brought out two different sides of Doug and I. While we love houses that are ready-to-move-in and tastefully painted/wallpapered, we also are attracted to the older houses with character, where some work of our own would bring out some real class and beauty. Hard to decide which will win out - I guess price and availability. But I think the historic-ness of certain houses makes me long for them, while the fixer-upper projects in the same type of houses make Doug drool; not to mention we both like imagining the (hidden) potential. So we'll see what happens.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Roman can add

The other night at dinner, we were trying to coax Roman to eat the rest of his dinner. "Eat three more pieces," Daddy said. A few minutes later, Daddy said "eat two more pieces." "But that would be FIVE!" said Roman. We just gaped at him. And didn't make him eat the rest.

He's been eating like a garbage truck for the last few days, constantly saying "I'm hungry" or "My head hurts," which usually means he hasn't eaten enough. I made his day today, though, when he found the quarter-slice watermelon in the fridge I had bought at the store. He got a huge grin on his face and came to tell me how much he "just loves" watermelon. On top of that, I decided to make a raspberry Jello salad. He's thrilled, and announced that he cannot wait to eat it for dinner Monday - he will have it for breakfast!

In house news, we're beginning to obsess - and that's not good. We had a call that a realtor wanted to show the house today. We got it all ready, left for the afternoon, but upon our arrival back couldn't find evidence that they'd been there. Of course, this is where the obsessing starts - we were studying the sidewalk and street for tire marks, footprints - a regular CSI crew! Our realtor said he'd call tomorrow with feedback, so we'll be patient. I think there'll be as many ups and downs in this house-selling debacle we're in than adoption!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Exciting world of Roman

Roman is, at this moment, playing upstairs with his friend Garrett. It took a little to settle themselves in, but I alternately hear doggie barking, crashing cars, and giggling. We had a reminder of Roman’s temper on Monday night when he refused to go to bed. Every time Daddy put him down, he was up. Always excuses. I tried putting him to bed… up again. Every time we put him back into his bed, he cried louder and louder. Finally I said to Doug, “Very soon he’s going to stop crying and get angry. Get ready!” Not 5 minutes later, Roman started demanding “Get in here Daddy! NOW!” Daddy didn’t move. Then came the loud frustrated growl in the throat, “Eerrrrrr!” Then more yelling, to the point his voice was beginning to get hoarse – “Daddy! DADDY! YOU GET IN HERE!” This was all with the door closed, luckily, because we were laughing so hard we couldn’t catch a breath!

Things finally settled down that night, but he is fighting bedtime every night. He is exhausted but just doesn’t want to sleep, but it’s no fun with a kid who fights against the time, his jammies, brushing teeth, his book, and us leaving his room.

I know it’s the age he’s at, but Roman is intensely fascinated with his own life story. Every night for the last couple weeks he has passed on a song in bed in favor of a “one day story” about when he was a baby. We started with the day we brought him out of the Baby Home, and ended a few nights later with arriving in the US. But he wasn’t satisfied with that, so the last couple times I put him to bed he has asked for more “when I was little” stories. It’s been fun to share them with him. He does appear interested in knowing about Russia – we have a book called “The First 1001 Words in Russian” – it’s a picture book with the Russian word, and then how to pronounce it underneath. He likes to try to repeat some of the words, probably because they sound so silly!

Later… now it’s evening, and we’re winding down for bed. I had to add this, because Roman and his Daddy are on the Internet, looking at pictures of steam locomotives. Roman hasn’t said “choo-choo” in awhile, it’s always “train” or “engine” – but now he’s trying to say the very difficult word “locomotive.” It doesn’t come out right, but he doesn’t give up. Daddy has Google-imaged “steam engines” and Roman points to every picture, saying “Let’s see that!” followed by “what’s that called?” He absorbs everything train.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Things are good!

School is going along swimmingly. The only crimp in my daily schedule is the fact that my main route into my work-town is closed once again. For approximately 9 months, I had to take back roads because the highway was under reconstruction. There was a month's reprieve... and now they have closed the road at the level crossing. For those of you who are not initiated into the world of railroads, a level crossing is when a road and train tracks intersect. For the next 22 months the level crossing will become a train bridge, with road underpass. So we have to tack on about 5-10 minutes to our commute once again. Boy, I hope we can sell our house and move to work-town soon!

The cats had been using parts of our house as their own personal litterbox, but that seems to have been stopped by locking them in the basement since Dec. 27th. Here's to hoping they can have trial visitations upstairs again soon.

I've stayed mostly caught up with life this week, even the inevitable grading papers. Grad class starts tomorrow, so we'll see what happens... and swim team is starting to bubble in my brain, with signups in a month and practice starting end of February. So I'm enjoying these last few weeks of minimal paperwork.

Roman is doing excellent, if a little exhausted. It was enlightening to spend time with him over break, because once he began to go to preschool again with all his friends, his mood changed. He was so much fun when getting enough rest - now he's tired and cranky, and falls apart crying at the slightest "miff" to his ideas or his activities. Today he began crying because his movie from NetFlix wasn't in the mailbox when we got home. (He doesn't nap at school). On the other hand, we went to Toys R Us today and I told him I was buying small toys for school, and he was totally fine with that and never asked for a toy to be bought for himself. We are very proud of him.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Darn that state of Michigan!

So nice of the Dept. of Education. They finally aligned with the real world, realizing that there are middle schools of 6-8 grades instead of junior highs of 7 & 8. Effective immediately (as of November 2006) they adjusted teacher certifications to match schools, and "grandfathered" those of us who didn't align.

Basically, all this jibberty-jabberty means I am now highly qualified to teach sixth grade. ACK! I was certified 7-12 for a reason! Now the greatest fear... I am able to go full time next year because I'll be assigned a sixth grade elective. I can think of nothing worse... unless, as we joked at school today, my sixth grade elective is "Training to Be a 7th grader that Teachers Won't Despise."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

somewhat successful Open House

Overall it went well. We had 3 separate visitations (which is what we hoped for - 3 or more). The third arrived at 10 to 4pm, when we had already returned, so we pretended to be buyers and left again. It was a young woman with 2 older ladies with her. The somewhat successful part was the middle visitor, a man. He came back three separate times, more interested every time, apparently. He was "asking all the right questions" according to realtor. He will be getting a follow-up call this week from the realtor. So all in all, it was a good start. Realtor recommended having another Open House next month, as Feb. is when things really start to roll.

We did, for the heck of it, look at a house a few streets over that's been for sale for many, many months. They've dropped the price about $20,000. Spacious basement, and if we wanted to stay in the area it'd be great. Now we have to go look for the cats... there's evidence that one of them "freaked" during the Open House; some books knocked over in my office area and phone knocked off the hook. Funny!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Open House, round 2

If you're the type that believes everything happens for a reason, then the previous Open House that never happened was meant to 1) get us motivated to get little projects done, and 2) it didn't happen because we weren't done doing the little things.

So now we are scheduled for another Open House tomorrow. We have, officially, done every single thing inside the house that we could do, short of painting the whole darn place "sell-the-house-cream," refinishing the hardwood floors, or putting a ceiling in the basement, none of which we want to do on our dime & sweat. On the outside of the house, we do need to put a railing on the deck. According to building codes, we don't - but aesthetically, we do. So I guess that's next, but it's all "Doug work."

Back to real life on Monday - I return to work, my grad class starts on Thursday, and life begins to slide past much too quickly again. Fingers crossed that we get some people looking at the house tomorrow - weather should be 42 degrees & partly sunny. Makes me think of my compatriots in Colorado - Doug sure wishes we had some of your snow here!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Funny, funny Roman

A smackerel of stories for you today.

#1. Roman was playing at his train table, and bent down to get on his knees. As he did, he let out this grunting "errumph" noise in his throat. He did it again for good measure. I panicked and asked him, "are you pooping in your pants?!" "No," came the reply, "I'm Grandpa. Grandpa makes that noise." And sure enough, when Grandpa (my dad) gets on the floor to play, he does make that exact same sound!

#2. Roman and Daddy have begun playing Legos together the past few days. Doug has (with some trepidation) agreed to share his already-built ones, specifically the Star Wars ships and little Lego guys. Last night, the spaceships were flying around the basement, and Roman landed his on his train table. He took Han Solo out and pronounced, "Han Solo will be on the Island of Sodor." Doug and I burst out laughing - who knew that Jabba's lair was actually hidden on an island filled with trains?! Listen up, George Lucas!

#3. When Roman gets mad now, he knows he's not allowed to hit us or talk back. So he's taken to showing us in a different way. He will open his mouth, think better of what he's about to say, purse his lips together, and emphatically point right at us with his right index finger extended. It's all we can do to not laugh at him (this is usually when he's very angry at not getting his way). All I can think of is he's like some emperor putting a curse on us. I used to think of Moses ("Let my people go!") but now Doug and I say quietly to each other, "a pox on you and your descendants!")

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

the color "cream"

Call it what you will - Durango Dust in the kitchen, Sweet Nectar in the bathroom - our house is becoming "cream" again. It's a funny color. We bought this house partially because it was so open and bright - the whole darn thing had been power-painted cream. And then we couldn't wait to get rid of it and add some color. And now that we're selling, once again we're "neutralizing" some areas by painting it... cream.

My morning consisted of a coat of Kilz on the upper cabinet frames in the kitchen, and two coats of Kilz over the beautiful red we had in the bathroom. Then, 2 coats of Durango Dust on the cabinets, and I quit for lunch. Doug is going to put coat one of Sweet Nectar in the bathroom tonight, and I will finish up tomorrow or Friday (depending on drying capabilities). Two more things I have learned about painting:
1. Kilz is the best invention ever. Covers dark colors, dries quickly, and gives paint something to stick to in high-traffic areas.
2. I will never, ever again purchase paint in metal cans. From now on, it's twist-tops, baby!

I also spent an hour pressing "redial" to finish up my father's Xmas gift, which is two tickets to the NASCAR race in June. Got through finally and secured them. This afternoon I spent doing 2 quick scrapbook pages, and digitally laying out pictures for 6 more pages to complete later. I just love this digital thing. I'm getting better at figuring out size on the screen vs. size in real life. But, now it's off to get the boy and buy him another pair of shoes. He only has one pair, aside from his snow boots, and we've learned from experience that one pair just isn't enough - especially when you leave the snow boots at someone else's house!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

what I've learned about houses

1. Don't paint trim under kitchen cupboards. Ever. It's dirty, it's hard to tape off, and stinks to paint light over dark.
2. Try to limit colors if you think you're going to sell within 5 years. You'll have to repaint, and that is a lot of work.
3. Don't let your husband talk you into doing cupboard doors different than cupboard frames.
4. Get rid of half your furniture and knick-knacks on shelves and tables; then your house will have the right amount of things in it.
5. Rent a storage unit. It's invaluable.
6. If you're going to paint, make sure it's a good TV day.
7. Try not to obsess about how many flyers have been taken from the front yard sign. We've had about 10 taken, but Doug reasons that it's probably 10 neighbors wanting to see how much we're selling for.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Hello, 2007!

What to do when Daddy is watching football all day? Sleep. Yup, we let Daddy sleep in until 9am this morning, and then we switched - I went back to bed for 2 hours. I can't believe how tired I've been the past couple days! That's what vacation does for you, I guess. After playtime all morning, we all had a great lunch and Roman had quiet time. While resting, he got a phone call from his cousin Iris! Roman called her back and they had a brief discussion about the movie "Mary Poppins." Too cute.

Once up, Roman and I decided to make cookies. We have "playdoh" dough - it's bright red, yellow, blue, and green sugar-cookie dough. Roman loved using the cookie cutters, and we made two batches of small and large cookies - even a blue dinosaur! We also ran out to the mall to get some "Flowering Herbs" lotion from Bath & Body Works - brought back for a limited time! And finally, Daddy did pitch in today and did 6 loads of laundry. To our pleasant surprise, we discovered that the microfiber covers of our soiled couch (by the kitties) IS machine washable! Hooray!

Our New Year's Eve wasn't very exciting. We watched "Muppet Treasure Island" with Roman but he didn't care much for it. He's more obsessed with Lego Star Wars video shorts that Doug has found on the Internet. After Roman went to bed, Doug and I gave ourselves a special treat - time to ourselves! Doug played Wizardry 8 and I made three 2-page digital scrapbook layouts. About 11:30 we had a snack of tortilla chips and watched Dick Clark/Ryan Seacrest. In bed by 12:15am, I think.

Tomorrow, Roman heads back to Red Bell and I get down to "real" work - I have a list of 4 different things I need to accomplish for school, plus paint the cupboard frames in the kitchen. Hope everyone had a good start to their 2007! Oh, by the way, I posted all the scrapbook pages I worked on. Click on the "Photos of our Adventures" under "Links" to the right - or click right here!