Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Our day at the Audiologist

She looks across from the desk at me and says, "Do you have Medicaid?" I shake my head no and wonder why she would assume that. "Well, you'll have to have a chart made over there..." She points randomly across the waiting room. The girls and I walk into a small room with a few desks to have Jameson's chart made to see the Audiologist. "Do you have Medicaid?" Once again, I shake my head no.

I want to explain that my eyes are bloodshot because I worked all night and slept for an hour and a half this morning. I want to explain that while this is yesterday's pony tail, I am still a good person. I want to explain that I have 6 kids and if I look tired, it's because I am. I want to ask why everyone assumes I have Medicaid. But I'm too tired to be confrontational.

The woman stares at the insurance card, confused. Confused that someone with this many children could have insurance? Possibly. Confused as to the relationship between card holder and patient. "Are you foster mom?" Confused as to the name in the insurance card. Most likely. You see, Jameson and Josh have official documents which have about 4 or 5 different spellings and arrangements of their names. I try to explain that Jameson goes by her middle name. "Well, she'll have to go by Merkeb here..." I tell her it makes no difference, but begin to wonder why that's a reason to be upset.

We meet with the audiologist and I supply her with the paperwork from the educational testing Jameson has already had. She spends 2 minutes glancing at the test results and spends no time with my daughter before she says, "Well, if they didn't give her enough time to focus on the testing, this is probably just an attention deficit." I explain that the professional who tested her had spent 12 hours with Jameson and was very patient with her. So after 2 minutes, this woman clearly knows Jameson better.... better than me, better than the professional who spent hours testing all aspects of her learning abilities.

I explain that I didn't care what the problem was as long as we find a solution to it. She looks at the testing which showed Jameson on the low side of normal for a 2nd grader. She says, "She did very well on this testing. She must have had some schooling in her country. She's near normal." I explain that she's supposed to be in 5th grade... and being near normal for 2nd grade is great, but we have been working for a year and a half to get to the low level of second grade and have identified significant learning problems.

I want to scream that I'm not making this up. I'm not being overly concerned. I want to scream that I need answers. I need this to get better. I need her to stop sitting there judging me. Looking at me like I'm bringing my child in for more expensive testing when it's not warranted. It isn't because she's from Ethiopia. It isn't because she is a new English learner. It is something that needs to be addressed.

And as I walk out, she asks me if I have Medicaid.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Text Message Tuesday

Welcome back to TMT!!!!

Message: "My mom was just going on and on about a documentary she watched about Dubai and how wonderful it was there and how she wanted to live there. So I said, yes and I bet they have pots of gold at the end of all their rainbows. Then Jameson goes, ohohohohoh, is that little guy there too?"

Reply: "Too funny."


Message: "Ben just came to me and told me he was hot. He has on one of those jogging suit things with the jacket that zips up the front. I told him to take it off. He said he couldn't because he didn't have a shirt on underneath."

Reply: "Haha. Those 2 are gonna be quite a pair aren't they? Wandering around looking for leprechauns, sweating in their jogging suits with no shirts on underneath..."


Message: "I just saw a midget pirate juggling fire... weird."

Reply: "I like pirates"

Message: "One of them has blond dreds all the way to his feet. I wonder if Grace likes pirates."

Reply: "Well, we know how she feels about blond dreds..."

Message: "hahahahaha."


Message: "Dinner with 5 kids and my mom... my mom just ordered mashed potatoes for dinner and told the waiter it was Jo's birthday so she could get free cake."

Reply: "That sounds AMAZING."

Message: "Have you seen the movie Aliens vs. Monsters?"

Reply: "um... yeah."

Message: "So the place we ate at had blue jello and no one liked it except Justine, so everyone gave theirs to her."

Reply: "Ok..."

Message: "And she made a huge bowl of it. And then she was standing up to show me. And dropped it on the waiters foot. There was blue jello everywhere. She was screaming... "BOB!" All this time, my mom was singing happy birthday to Jo..."

Reply: "Is it Jo's birthday?

Message: "Nope. But she got cake."


Message: "Justine insisted on taking "Bob" in the car. She fell asleep. Now Bob is all over the seat."

Reply: "Poor Bob."

Message: "Poor Me."


Message: "So we just got security called on us in the hotel for being too loud..."
Reply: "Only you..."

Message: "I know."


Message: "All the kids went to a kids thing at UChicago and had to stand up and say their name and what their favorite movie was. Justine said, I'm Justine and I love Twilight."

Reply: "Nice. Has she even seen it?"

Message: "Nope."

Reply: "That's what makes it even funnier..."

Message: "The kids keep doing a great imitation of her doing it too... it's hysterical. Hands on her hips, all saucy..."


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Text Message Tuesday

Share your texts...
Laugh at mine...
Make my day.

Message: "Every time Jameson has to take a test, she says, 'I hate testes'. It makes me giggle inappropriately."

Reply: "Haha. I met a guy once whose name was Tim Testen. You just made me think of that."

Message: "Who would name their kid Testen? That's like naming your daughter Ovary."

Reply: "Well it was his last name. I don't think he really had a choice about that part. But the Tim part... there were a lot of intestine jokes..."

Message: "That's kinda weird."


Message: "It's cold here. Jameson just told me she had "ear mugs" on. Maybe that's why she can't hear a thing I say."


Message: "Larry and I want to make shirts with a mythical creature called a yeticorn which is half yeti and half unicorn impaling an innocent creature... like a manatee. What do you think? Money maker?"

Reply: "That would definitely be a hit."


Message: "I hate 4th grade. Jaiden had a science test and actually wrote on her test, "I will never do extra credit." She definitely should have done the extra credit...."

Reply: "I don't know but I really hope this phase passes with 4th grade. It's like he's become a retard overnight."

Message: " I know. I hate the 4th grade."


Message: "I'm freezing my nipples off at a soccer game with rain drizzling on me."

Reply: "Grace just texted me almost the exact same thing."


Message: "I can't text very well with my mittens on."

Message: "I'm a popsicle."

Reply: "Don't let anyone lick you. That'd be gross."

Message: "Maybe I will. Maybe I won't."

Reply: "They're just children. Behave yourself."

Message: "Ok right. Licking in front of the children... Inappropriate. Check."

Reply: "I'm just trying to keep you from a jail sentence gina. not keep you from having fun. It's because I love you."

Message: "These gloves are really interfering with my texting abilities. I feel like a muppet."

Reply: "I like the word muppet."


Message: "Would you be a fang banger?"

Reply: "Probably. Or at least a V addict. You?"

Message: "Yeah I think so too."


Message: "I need you to come home and clean the litter box immediately. It's disgusting."

No reply... once again because she's in Chicago and rarely has time to respond...

Message: "Girls and I are sipping Chai, eating rice krispie treats, people watching at the mudhouse and I'm reading a smutty sookie stackhouse novel. Ahhhh."

Reply: "writing a 4 page paper about smith's economic theory, then I have to try and nap before my 2-4 am radio show, and read 30 pages of Marx somewhere in there."

Reply: "Also it's freezing here. I need to get boots and gloves."

Reply: "but I'm not complaining seriously. it's all fantastic."



Saturday, October 10, 2009


Josh is taking guitar lessons and was strumming out a little "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star..." when I heard him singing "Tinkerbell, Twinkerbell..."

I started to correct him because ... well... really.... he would want me. He's a pre-teen boy who fits in with his friends really well. And they would totally make fun of him.

I was surprised to find Jameson quick to correct him. I was impressed because usually she's the one to mutilate language. Then I heard her say, "No Josh. It's Tinker. Tinker. Little Bell."

I give up. Really.


Friday, October 09, 2009

playing with numbers

the number of hours I went without sleep from Friday am to Saturday...

the number of uninterrupted hours of sleep I got on Saturday when my sweet, sweet hubby took the kids to soccer! (And yes, those 6 hours were glorious and appreciated... thank you very much!)

the number of days I spent cleaning closets and rearranging furniture...

the number of trash bags we took out full of stuff we found we didn't actually need, hidden in bookshelves and closets...

the number of bookshelves we cleaned off and reorganized...

the number of missing puzzle pieces in the World map puzzle I just had to put together in the middle of our cleaning frenzy... you know just to make sure they were all still there ....

the number of lives I saved this weekend at work...

It's been a productive week...


My life map

In what will forever be referred to as "the colossal clean," I also found this life map in the top of a closet.

I suppose this was probably made during a time when I was a huge Oprah follower... It seems like something she would endorse.

I made this life map at a time when I wasn't sure which direction my life was going in. What did I want? What was important to me? What did I need to do to get there?

I had everything on this life map that I thought I wanted for my future.
The only thing I didn't have was a date. According to my own carbon dating process, I would say it was made approximately 15 years ago...

It all centered around family and work.

When I showed it to the kids, it was funny to see how many things were the same and how many things were different than I had expected.

Josh was looking and looking and reading my life map ... and I admitted, "Josh, you weren't on that road map anywhere... but I'm so glad I took a detour."

I don't think 12 years ago, I ever expected to have 6 children. I certainly didn't imagine I would have 5 kids ages 6-12 and one in college.
Most of the things on that life map, I have attained.
Several things I'm still working on.
And many, many more things are on my map that I never even imagined I would have. I guess it was more of a life compass... because we never can map out where our lives are truly going; we just need to know what direction we're headed in.

If I were to make a life map now, what would it say? What would I think important enough to place on my map?

having a happy family
being a success at work
great marriage
being debt free

OK those are for amateur life map makers...

How about...

Making a real difference in the world
Doing something spectacular
Changing the world
Being a mentor
Being an advocate
Encouraging someone else to change the world
Educating children who will change the world
I won't be making a new life map because I'm too busy making my life come true.
But if I were, it would be a beautiful masterpiece.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Rest Assured...

Jack bought an airsoft full face shield/face protector with his birthday money...

But he also bought a Semi-Automatic Assault Airsoft Rifle...

Bring it on neighborhood Mafia.

Wordless Wednesday

Well not so wordless....
You were right... it is dangerous.
Jack was assassinated by an airsoft gun in the neighborhood mafia wars.
Thank God he was wearing his eye protection.... the only time they've actually listened to me.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Dear Diary...

I have been on a cleaning rampage the last few days and decided to clean out the closet of our schoolroom...

As I have mentioned, this adventure turned into relinquishing the school room back to Jaiden, who gave it up when she was 3 years old.

We have been reserving a private room at the library and doing most of our work there. It somehow seems easier to not be constantly distracted by the phone and the laundry (for me) and toys (for the kids.)

We have to be there at a specific time, which is really good for me, because those of you who know me, know that I am not a morning person and definitely have a warped sense of time.

We also have to be done at a specific time, which is good for the kids. They have their watches set!

We have to be on our best behavior... which is good for all of us.

So back to my colossal cleaning story...

This was not your ordinary clean. This was me putting puzzles together to make sure all the pieces were there; me ditching any and everything that I hadn't used or seen in the last year. This was 9 big bags of trash.

This was a stroll down memory lane as I found Jack's kindergarten papers, back when he would only refer to himself as Wolf. I spent a few minutes to cry over Jaiden's kindergarten memory book and admire Justine's first attempts at writing her name.

Oh, and I also found my diary from 1997... Thank God I was the one to find it, and don't ask me why it was in the closet of our schoolroom.... But I digress.

You're gonna love this entry...

28 April 1997

"Well it happened. I met the man I'm going to marry. He may not know it yet, but I am. We met on a blind date on Wednesday. I went home for Susan and Joe's wedding. We all went out that night and we ended up talking and talking most of the night. We spent most of the weekend together after the wedding. I have never felt so comfortable with someone that I could talk and tell so much about myself. And he makes me laugh. God, he makes me laugh. He likes kids. He likes family. As I boarded the plane to fly home yesterday, I thought this was probably just a really fun weekend and nothing would come of it. When I got home from the airport last night, there was a message on my answering machine with his hotel and flight information for next weekend because he said he's never been to Lubbock before. I'm so gonna marry that man."

And the rest, as they say, is history. We were married 10 months later on 28 Feb 1998... and that was... 4,238 days ago... or 11 years, 7 months and 8 days... or almost 12 years.

It happened really fast. I guess you could say he swept me off my feet? I think part of the reason it worked was because we were 700 miles apart for many, many months. It gave us a long time to get to know each other via the phone and letters and let our friendship morph into something else.

We definitely learned how to talk and share with each other from the beginning.

And now, even with the stress of our lives, he still makes me laugh and I still would rather spend time with him than anyone else (Jaclyn and Grace ... you're right up there too), and I still feel lost if I can't find time to talk to him about any and everything.

We recently saw someone we knew before we were married, and they exclaimed, "you mean you're still married?" They couldn't believe it. I guess no one thought a long distance, whirlwind romance would work, but luckily it has.

Right... honey?


Text Message Tuesday

Do you get annoyed with that person busily texting next to you? Well, no need to be annoyed, each and every text message serves its' purpose. There are text messages that give details, for us, this is usually who needs to be where at what time? What's for dinner? Don't forget to...

Then there are those text messages that just make you laugh hysterically, and don't forget those text messages which just simply help us share our lives with those we love.

And now... my favorite text messages of the week.

Don't judge, just sit back and enjoy.

*some text messages are really just bragging about my parenting ninja skills

Message: "I just caught a bee in a quarter pounder box. I'm so good! Jameson just said "that's the first thing they're told... not to talk to humans. Except it was hooo-mans."

Reply: "That's really funny."


*some text messages are just ways to highlight how wonderful our children really are...

Message: "Adventures in sleepwalking: .... just came in my room and said "um um my hair um my hair, it jiggles, with my hand, and so um I'm mad with the jiggling."

Reply: "Hahahahahahaha"

Message: "I said that's awful. Did you hair stop jiggling yet? And he looked at me like I was crazy. I asked if he was ready to go back to bed and he said yes ma'am. Even asleep he has good manners."


*sometimes people can't just let me be the best parenting ninja in the world and they have to try to show off and out-do me

Message: "Remember how you caught the bee in the quarter pounder box.... well I just killed two mosquitos doin' it."

Reply: "It feels good doesn't it?"


*some text messages should never be sent, read or responded to.

I apologize ahead of time for this one

Message: "I have been so busy. I haven't done any laundry and just realized I have no clean underwear for work unless I wear a thong for 12 freaking hours. Great!"

Reply: "I didn't wear under wear with my scrubs today. No underwear here either."

Message: "I didn't think I could feel less trashy considering I'm the one wearing a black lace thong to work, but thanks to you, I feel pretty good. Thank you so much!"


*sometimes text messages are confessions about the frustrations of parenting that only a friend could appreciate

Message: "I just got so angry because ... (my kid)... hadn't turned in his homework for three days, I kicked the trashcan, which was evidently pretty heavy because it hit my oven and shattered the glass."

Reply: "I'm so sorry. Don't feel bad; I almost killed a man at the library."


Message: "I just told ... (my kid)... he better get to work unless he wanted a live replay of yesterday. He looks at me and say 'not to be rude but if we have a live replay of yesterday you're gonna have to aim for the top oven this time."

Reply: "I'm sorry but THAT is so funny. I really wish I could put this whole thing on TMT (that's what I'm calling text message Tuesday... btw)"


*sometimes we ask stupid questions...

Message: "My patient's family member has a shirt that says 'Ask me about the T&A Club.' I wonder what that means..."

Reply: "Ask. They want you to."

Message: "I'm scared."

Reply: "Deep down, you know what it is and deep down you want to join."


*sometimes text messages are examples of the perfect love between mother and son

Message: "I love you."

Reply: "I love you more."

Message: "No. I love you more."

Reply: "No. I love you more."

Message: "No. I love you way more... more than the stars in the sky."

Reply: "I love you more than the stars way way way way way way way way way more than the stars way."

Message: "Moon? I love you more than the moon and the stars."

Reply: "I love you more than the universe."

Message: "I love you more than the sun, moon, stars, mercury, venus, mars, earth, jupiter, uranus, neptune..."

Reply: "I win."

Message: "You lose. I gave birth to you."

Reply: "Ok."

Message: "Ok. You can win but only because I love you more."

Reply: "Sweet."


*sometimes text messages are just accounts of our adventures

Message: "I took the girls to get their first coffee in a little coffee shop downtown and now they are freaking out."

Reply: "What were you thinking?"

Message: "Now we're at the library. I could live in the downtown library. I love it so much. I want the furniture."

Message: "We just watched a guy propose on bended knee in front of everyone at the table next to us. I took a picture. Now I'm crying."

Reply: "At the library?"

Message: "No... at the little Italian restaurant across the street from the library. Who proposes at the library?"

Reply: "??? I guess the GPS I have linked to your butt must have gone out. Last I knew, you were at the library."

Message: "I will try to keep you updated better about my whereabouts."

Reply: "Thank you! And I bet it wouldn't bother you to be proposed to at the library. You want to live there for heavens sake."

Message: "You are right. That would be the ultimate proposal for me..."

Reply: "I'll remember that... just in case."


*And then there are those multiple messages when you just have to share something with the people you know will appreciate it

Message: "We just watched someone propose on bended knee at the table next to ours. I took a pic and now I'm crying."

Reply: "Ahhhh sweet. They really upstaged your 38th didn't they?"


*sometimes text messages are just to remind you that you are missed

Message: "Justine just referred to your room as the guest room. Hahaha."

Message: "I grounded her."

Even though there was no reply because she's too busy enjoying college life to respond to every text I send her, I know she's reading them daily and enjoying every single one.

Don't forget to send me your favorite texts of the week.

I'm sure we all get a kick out of them wouldn't we? After all, why should I be the only one admitting to killing bugs with fast food containers, not having clean underwear, and wanting to kill people at the library?


Monday, October 05, 2009

Not Me! Monday

Welcome back to another Not Me! Monday created by MckMama! You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

During a weak moment, I did not agree to give up my homeschool room to Jaiden in an attempt to:

a) discontinue the constant state of clutter that is the girls room

b) discontinue the somewhat tense relationships of 3 little girls sharing one room and

c) discontinue their attempts at moving into college residing, much missed, big sis' Jordan's room.

I did not spend hours cleaning and organizing not only Jaiden's new room, but also the rest of the 3,000 square feet that received random regurgitated remnants of the schoolroom.

It does not look like an educational store vomited in my kitchen.

I definitely do not think we have a lot more work to do before it's finished, and I am not embarassed at all to show you what the rest of it looks like.

I did not celebrate our son's 11 birthday this week. I did not ask him to watch a movie with me in my bed and then savor every single moment when he fell asleep next to me. Nope. Not me!

I did not work a 40 hour work week in 3 nights in a busy ICU during a full moon. And for those doubters, it's a proven fact around here that things get CRAZY during the full moon...

It was not absolutely insane.

I did not pull into the patient parking lot at work at 6:29 pm and make the decision to park illegally because I hate being late to work.

I know, shame on me. Like you've never done it. Really.

I was not running late for work because I was moving furniture around in my basement and just couldn't stop. I am not OCD like that at all!

In the morning, after a very long 13 hour shift, amidst a sleep-deprived paranoia, I did not think that the security officer from work had left the parking lot at the same time as me and was following me down the freeway all the way to my house. I did not slow way down, trying to catch a glimpse of what I was sure were lights on the top of the silver SUV.

It was definitely not my neighbor in the silver SUV.

And he did not stare at me with the most incredulous look on his face as he passed me in a no-passing zone because... well ... because I was going 20 mph.

I definitely am not celebrating my birthday today.

I will not going to tell you how old I am today... nope. No way. Absolutely not.

Have a great week and don't do anything I wouldn't do!

Saturday, October 03, 2009


I woke up today and felt sore. I stretched. I moved. I whispered "ouch."

I remembered the mandatory/optional flu shot I received yesterday...

No wait, that was the left arm and the right is definitely more tender.

Bicep. Tricep. Deltoid. Pectoralis. Latissimus. Brachialis.



I pulled a muscle playing 15 minutes of Wii tennis with Jack on his new Wii.

What a great reminder that my birthday is in 2 days... I can't even play a video game simulating physical activity without feeling my age.



Friday, October 02, 2009

Just a few pictures...

Spelunking ...

Beautiful fall day to ride a bike...

Day by the cave and creek...

Does this helmet make my head look big?


Thursday, October 01, 2009

The question

A friend of mine told me today that when Jameson rode with them in their car a few weeks ago after soccer practice, she asked them if they were embarrassed to be seen with her because she was black.


My friend was very distressed about it. She thought she had said something or done something to make Jameson say this.

I have to admit when I first heard it, I too was quite distressed, upset, and honestly embarrassed. Have I failed as an adoptive parent of an African-American child that she would think it, much less say it?

Embarrassed? Why? That's an odd response. I know. I'm pouring my heart out here people. I don't have the answers. I'm really trying to work this one out in my mind.

I guess a part of me is devastated that she would even think that. We try SO hard to make sure that we don't and others around us don't ever insinuate that anyone is better than anyone else. There is no difference. And we make sure to tell that to ALL of the children. Girls can do anything boys can do. We learned sign language to communicate with our deaf friends. We talk about people who look different than us and the fact that God made us all. We are equal in His eyes, therefore we should be equal in each others eyes.

I don't know. I don't even know where to start with this. It's not that she doesn't have friends who look like her. I can't imagine she wonders if people are embarrassed of her dark skinned friends. We have more friends who have dark kids than we do friends with light kids. It's not that she doesn't see many, many other families that look just like ours.

A part of me wonders if what she was really saying was not about race or ethnicity, but more about Jameson herself.

"Are you embarrassed to be with me?"

She has such an innate sense of inferiority. I see it all the time. I see it in her nervousness to answer questions in school. I see it in her constant need for approval from everyone. Her performance anxiety follows her everywhere. I hear it in her apology for every thing she does.

Today I heard her asking the Magic 8 Ball, "Am I special?"

She comes from a country where, let's be honest, women and especially little girls, are not seen as having a lot to offer. She has lived in superstar brother Josh's shadow her whole life. Before they came home, when people who had met them would talk about them, it was always about him. Never about her. It's like she was invisible.

And to be perfectly honest, a part of me wonders if she doesn't say and do things like that with the right people just to get the attention she so desires. I notice when she's with other maternal figures, she often does things to "cling" on to them.

If I'm talking with friends, Jameson won't leave the room to play with the other kids. She often asks friends mothers to do things for her that she can very well do on her own. The mom she said this to is one of the moms she really clings on.

I know.

It screams attachment disorder. And perhaps it is. I researched some on anxiety and attachment disorder and she seems to meet a lot of the criteria. I just kept thinking *hoping* it would get better. She doesn't seek others attention to avoid contact with me. Believe me, she's just as attention seeking with me. She knows who her caregivers are, yet it seems as though she never can get enough attention.

And I know it's about her. It's 100% about her, but it also becomes exhausting to attempt to make up for all of her inner issues.

It's not pretty. I admit it. It's becoming my own issue. My own parenting inferiority.

So what do I do?

Call Oprah and ask for advice on how to raise a secure African-American girl? Maybe I could get on her show...

What would you do?

And which scenario is worse?

The fact that she believes herself to be inferior because of her race?


The fact that she would say something like that just to get more attention from a mother who isn't hers?

For the first time ever, I questioned whether I had done the right thing... bringing children of a different color into our family. Not so much our family, but rather into this very Caucasian area of the country.

I will be honest, I never thought much about it. I exaggerate. I thought about it. I just thought it would be something that enough love and enough reassuring would make up for it.

Did I just admit that?

I guess I had so much love to give, that I assumed we'd all be singing kumbaya around a campfire somewhere not noticing that we were all different colors. Color was never an issue to me, therefore I wrongly assumed color wouldn't be an issue to them. I'm so afraid I made a crucial miscalculation in the importance of what is means to be black. What it means to "fit" in and be a part of the black community.

How do I go about that when I have no idea?

I would love to hear from my African-American readers about your thoughts on this. Adoptive parents - any ideas? I'm desperate to do the right thing. I don't want her to spend another minute thinking any of these thoughts.

Makes me wanna sing kumbaya by some campfire and not think about it... kinda like sticking my head in the sand.

Ah... sweet campfire sand. I miss you.