Wednesday, May 20, 2015


The dress for the trip is purchased.  We settled on jewelry earlier this week.  All that's left to find are shoes.  The dress is a floor length ball-gown pouf, so really, the shoes are pointless.  No one will see them.  They simply need to be comfortable enough to wear all day and night without ruining her groove and protect her feet during all of the "walking around outside parts" of the night.   She has cute flats that would look fine even if they did peek out, but she really really wants heels.

Light pink heels.

With closed toes.

These do not exist in any stores.  This weekend we spent 2 hours at the mall and went to DSW, Off Broadway, Famous, Payless, and the shoe departments of Penneys, Macys, Burlington, and TJ Maxx.  Nothing fit those three simple criteria.  We found dozens of light pink open-toed shoes (no.) and dozens of cute closed toe pink flats (No.) and a handful of cute closed toes shoes in biege and silver (no.) but nothing hit the trifecta.  The weekend went downhill from there and frankly I refuse to engage in this as a dramatic disaster because she has perfectly fine shoes she can wear already.  We have about $30 left in the "dress, jewelry, shoes" part of the budget so I'm willing to buy them if we find something in that price range, but not willing to act like it's the end of the world.

So Monday I found about 8 pairs of cute closed toe mid-height heel light pink shoes online in our price range and sent her the links.  She liked two of them and I said we could look at them together that night on one condition: She had to ask me about shoes in English.  Nothing fancy, just "shoes please" or "shoes?" or "see now?" would work.  Nope, refused.  Repeat tonight.  I'm holding out. She doesn't need these shoes, she wants them.  And for a "want", the least I expect is for her to put in the effort to speak a word of English to my face. There's a huge mental and emotional battle going on behind the scenes that I can only imagine, but they are optional shoes and I'll wait it out.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Gratitude: day 1

Jill suggested a prayer exercise in which all prayers for a week are focused on gratitude and thanksgiving rather than requests and complaints.  Frankly, it's been tough here for a few weeks and I still need prayers for help and sanity every hour of the day, but going to focus on some serious positive perspective.

Going to get all the obvious ones today:

My amazing husband, my beautiful kids, their teachers who obviously care about them so much and work with us to make every interaction valuable, my job that I mostly love when it's not so stressful and which allows us to live in our beautiful home.  Our extended families near and far whom we love and miss, and the internet which lets us all stay in touch so much more than we could have imagined 20 years ago.  In short, my life.  I am so very very grateful.

I'm also grateful for the grace and compassion that got us through the afternoon with peace, good humor, and open hearts.  It may not have been a yahtzee of 6's, but we managed to roll a pretty good full house of 4's and 5's tonight.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

My people are talkers.  If something bothers us we talk about it.  We might even yell about it.  But we get it out, get it over with, and move on.  Secrets are exhausting and take away from living your life.

I'm baffled by the secret-hoarders.  I don't understand this mindset.  The excuse of "we didn't tell you because we didn't want you to worry" makes no sense to me.  It means I never ever stop worrying.  Because apparently everyone is sitting on their own secret ticking time bomb and they're just not going to tell anyone until it explodes.

And so I'll write even on the crappy days.  Because my people are of the "it needs air to heal" mindset.

Kids are exhausting.  I love them all.  I love them so much it makes me dizzy.  I want to love them, and I want to know them.  I heard today: "To be loved but not really known is a weak comfort.  To be known but not loved is our biggest fear.  To be fully known and still truly loved is our greatest joy and hope."   I wish wish wish our oldest would let us know her.  Let us love her for who she is.  The walls are intense.  Just...wall.

I don't like walls.  I don't like hiding behind a wall and not telling someone what hurts and scares us and what will help make it tolerable.  I really hate being locked on this side of a wall not being told anything; I hate being handed lukewarm assurances from someone clearly hurting and in chaos that, really, it's all fine when it's so clearly not.

I'm screaming from my side of the wall: "Help me help you.  Let me help you. Just trust me to love you through this."   WALL.

Saturday, May 16, 2015


There's just not ever a day of rainbows and sunshine here.  Rob and I are good.  Great.  We're a solid 9.7 on a scale of 10 and most days I feel like we're standing back to back fighting off the biggest swarm of zombie alien monster attackers ever to drag themselves across a movie screen.  We're a team.  That's the good part.  We'd completely fall apart without each other, which maybe isn't so good, but we're good.

The rest of this circus is not really interested in being on our team.

One is on the cusp of being held back in school.  We can't seem to make life work the way it should for this one, and a year of reinforcing basics seems to be the best solution.  We feel like it's for the best and won't really be an issue, but I can't help thinking just a little less distraction and chaos would mean a lot.  Every day and every action is a happy-go-lucky battle of wills.

Two are constantly sullen and pouting and instead of using actual words and just telling us what's wrong, they create chaos and confusion and heartache all around.   Nothing is ever good enough and everything is always awful and it's always our fault and we never do anything right.  Clearly.  Pouring love out and into these two wears me out.

Another is so sensitive and kind it breaks my heart to see the way the stress of our house weighs on this one's heart.  A perfectionist and people-pleaser is doomed in our house these days.  Nurturing this heart takes whatever is left.

Every. meal. sucks.  No one can or will eat anything anymore. And yet if we don't eat good solid meals, all four of them fall apart as soon as they get the slighest bit hungry.

My work is stressful.  Up-all-night-and-crying-during-the-day stressful.

Extended family--the main reason we moved here when we did--is a sore subject.

We're in the trenches right now and I'm just weary.  I want a nap and a hug and a full-house-attitude-adjustment.  And two publications and tenure while I'm at it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


For me.  Rob still has this week.  And the kids have at least a month.  But my grades are in and I'm done with all things classroom.

A short list of what still has to happen this summer for my job, though:
1. Analyze data for paper #1.  Update that paper's results section and all other minor edits requested by reviewers.  Submit that paper.  (estimated 80 hours of work; goal: mid June)
2. Fix paper #2 per reviewers' requests.  (estimated 50 hours of work.  Goal: mid June)
3. Analyze data for paper #3.  Prepare a mind-blowingly good 30 minute presentation on this. Also write this paper and submit it.  (estimated 200 hours on this.  Presentation due end of June.  Paper goal end of June).
4. Work with co-author on paper #4.  Not sure this will happen.  (estimate 60 hours.  Goal: last month)..
5. Attend 3 day conference in June.  Attend and present at another 3 day conference in June. (see #3).
6. Prepare about 400 pages of documentation (completely not exaggerating) about every professional thing I've done in the past 7 years and organize it into a file box but also a 50 page packet and several 2-3 page summary statements about my philosophies on life, research, teaching, and students.  (estimate: 75 hours.  Due mid August)
7. Research and prepare a short list of people that would write letters of recommendation for me. (20 hours) (Spent all day Monday and Tuesday on this; almost done)
8. Prepare my class listings for the fall-- plan all assignments, tests, projects, etc through the end of the semester, all due one week before classes actually start (70 hours, due mid August).

I think that's it?  Sadly that adds up to about 14 weeks of full time work, crammed into exactly 14 weeks of summer.  Squeezing at least 1 week of traveling with Maryna and one very hopeful week of vacationing with the family into there, means long long days ahead.

Saturday, May 02, 2015


On May 2, Jorge made his first communion.

Our niece and nephew made their first trip to NY

My baby sister and her fabulous husband were called mom and dad for the first time,

and my baby nephew made his big debut.

Good Love Day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


I was out of town for most of last week.  I came home Sunday at noon to find a beautiful "Welcome home" sign over the door.  Better: the first person to greet me at the door was the reserved, back-of-the-pack teenager.  And then the general mobbing began and led to roller-blading, bike rides, gardening, housework, cooking and all the other exhausting thrills of parenting.  But typically kids with developing attachment struggle hard with absence, so I was fully expecting a retreat for at least a week from our newest.  I expected avoidance, ignoring, and anger.  I got a hug.  Grace and Mercy.

Yesterday the same teen came home from school very grumpy.  She snipped and snarled about her day to her dad at home, but wrote to me via messenger while I was at work.  There was concern about a big exam at school next week.  I provided reassurance.  Then, when I got home, she gathered up all her internal strength and showed me two tests she got back from last week.  Both had low scores.  She was disappointed, embarrassed, a little defensive, but mostly nervous. I lit up in excitement: You got 9 right!?  You read nine questions in English about cultural differences in food and geography and got the answers correct!  That's amazing!  Forget the other 16.  You got NINE RIGHT!  And on this one you got 20!  Amazing!  You've come so far in only six months!

Because, really, it's been six months.  So very much has happened in that time and I'm incredibly proud of her.

Six months home and we finally did some basic things this week to mark it.  The family portrait taken when August was 6 weeks old was finally updated to our Easter photo with all six of us in full personality.  Now, every trip up or down the stairs involves passing a family portrait that includes all of us. Likewise, an additional frame was added to a display near the staircase landing so that all four kids are there together. And everyone got their most recent 8x10 photo updated in the dining room display--replacing an 18 month old photo of Maryna with a headshot taken last weekend by the lake.

Family.  Inclusion.  It's showing in the displays around the house, but more importantly it's in the actions.  Things are really starting to feel connected.

The other three are amazing and beautiful and crazy and perfect and annoying and sweet.  Another post for another day.