Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Hi. We're still here. Things are good, things are happy. The pie at Betty's is tasty. If you're ever on the MN North Shore, eat some pie.

I've been talking with the kiddo's m o m. She was very nervous about communicating with me, but I think we're okay now. The kiddo has a sister that was born 7 months after TPR. I found that out and contacted Mom (for the first time) that day.

D a d was denied p aro le, so we're safe for at least another 18 months.

I still keep the Tazer in the bowl next to the front door.

I started a business. I'm doing well enough to exhibit at a trade show in January.

We did not move, but it took almost a year to find a way to stay. Every month we were presented with a new location/option, but we are still in the same house, the man still heads to the same area for work, but now he's DoD, not a contractor, and the stability is good. If we'd been given a happy-making combination of location and new job, we would have moved. It didn't happen that way, and I'm good staying put.

Here's two plants that didn't make it through last winter.

I had a really big surgery at the end of April. It wasn't supposed to be big when I went in, but it turned out to be big, and I'm still not totally recovered, which sucks.

Kiddo started second grade. He's huge. He turned seven this Summer. The mind boggles. We had the school open house last week and his teacher described him as "tenderhearted, joyful, and very active." The teacher is not wrong. The Kiddo is fantastic. He has been with us for almost four years.

Here's a peacock.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Eating Veggies

Since I'm in quite the funk over the move, and having to tell my parents and grandparents today, no real post.

But I will tell you that we have not purchased any vegetables (tomatoes don't count! They're fruit!) since October. One packet of loose leaf lettuce seeds, one package of spinach seeds, one package of swiss chard seeds, two packs of broccoli seeds, three packs of carrot seeds, one spicy salad greens mix, 25 seed potatoes, five packs of edamame, two packs of peas, and a few things I can't recall right now were incorporated into the front yard landscaping (mostly) between roses and mistflower and firebush. Living mulch, and yummy. They've done very very well on benign neglect during our cold season. My broccoli, for example, was planted in June and grew, grew, grew without heading until the first 35 degree night, sometime in October, and now I'm pulling in 4 heads the size of a serving platter every week. This summer I gave away tomatoes and pumpkins and squash and green beans (those all kicked around Thanksgiving -- were in a colder part of the yard), and now I'm passing out broccoli to anyone who comes to our house. I think I've watered the veggies 6 times since October. Imagine what could start growing here if we got the normal amount of rain. (We're in the worst stage possible of drought in my county, have been for all of 2008 and still going.)

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Now that we know we have another 6-8 months here, it feels like it is time for me to decide whether I will get in touch with Huckle's mom and maternal grandparents.

Before Huck was adopted, there was a court order keeping them away. Or, keeping us from contacting them, I suppose, is more like it. Since he was removed from his mom in October 2006, none of them have had any news of him, save for the TPR hearing which the grandparents showed up to, but left halfway through. I feel very, very guilty about this. I want them to know that he is healthy, happy, safe, and loved.

I don't usually hem and haw over things. I make a decision, I move forward. In this instance, though, I've decided by not deciding.

I want to talk to them. I think the grandparents would be open to this, and I hope his mom would be.

The big, big impediment is Huckle's father. As of this moment, he is in prison. He may be there for another 18 years. He could be released this afternoon, though. His first parole eligibility date was in May of 2008, and due to the backlog of parole-eligible inmates, it can take up to a year for the review to go through and early release to be granted. The parole board won't tell me anything about the status, so we wait. And carry a tazer.

Huck's father is nearly 50 years old and has spent about half his life in prison. At first there were drug convictions. Then he murdered a man. A few years after he was released for that, Huckle was born. Huck's dad was not happy when Huck entered the system, and aside from a few more drug charges, he also kidnapped Huckle twice, beat Huckle's mother and grandmother to a pulp, and set their house on fire while they were asleep. He also hurt Huckle. After all of this, Huckle's mom still handed Huckle over to his father for a bag of drugs.

What we know is that Huck's dad says that no one will keep him from his son. He will find him and take him, he says.

Huckle's father cannot find the three of us. Just cannot.

If Huck's mom and grandparents know details about us, would we be safe when Huck's dad is released?

Since I could never know the answer to that until the minute he's standing in front of me, we don't reach out to Huck's mom and grandparents.

And I can't think of a more selfish thing.

(by the way, a few paragraphs of this post will vanish in a day or two)

Thursday, January 15, 2009


We're moving.
To Virginia.
But not until Summer.
House goes on the market in May.
We'll rent if it doesn't sell in time.
But it should sell in time for the new school year.
Our area has slowed down a bit, but home prices are still going up.
We decided to move about a week ago.
At first we were going to move to DC, but we could afford a 300 sf shack on the highway if Hubs wanted a less than 45 minute commute.
So then we looked at Baltimore.
It took five days to shoot that down. Did you know that most people who live in Baltimore don't really like it there? And these are knitters!

I love this house.
I love this garden.
I love that my family is within 45 minutes.
I love my friends.
I love that Huck can ride his bike to any of two dozen friends' houses.
I love his school and his teachers.
I love our brand spanking new travertine floors that go throughout the house.

I am trying hard to find things to love about the Fredericksburg area of Virginia, or maybe the Chantilly area of Virginia, depending on which is the best move for Hubs.
I am trying hard to agree that a move to VA is okay when we also have an option to move to Fort Worth or stay here.
I am trying hard to remember that careers, like relationships, are like sharks.
I am trying hard to convince myself that something like This House may still be on the market once we sell our place. It is under contract at the moment, but there are contingencies. If it were about 30k cheaper, I'd be even happier, but hey, that's 10 acres. Yes, I'd have to cut down five trees a day for three years to have a backyard, but that's what chainsaws are made for. And I could have angora goats. And Cochin chickens. And maybe if we get land without a house we could get one of THESE. Or we could just build a huge metal barn and insulate half of it to an R factor of 50 with that fancy spaceship paint and some spray foam, then slap a few storage containers into it for bedrooms and use the rest of the half as an open concept floor plan, while the other half is dedicated to the goats and chickens and a old-sized cow and maybe a pony.

And then I remember that to do all that, which is so exciting, I have to move 1,521 miles away. And that sucks.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Outside, c. June 2006

I figured you guys deserve a kinder, gentler post after that last one, so I'll start talking about the gardening stuff. Lets start at the beginning:

Here's what my front and back yards looked like as we were pulling our homestudy materials together two and a half years ago.
Here's the backyard, from left to right. We're on a standard builder's lot, 60X120, and since the house, garage, driveway and sidewalk take up about 2/3 of that space, there isn't a lot to work with. The backyard is only 20 feet long on this side, from the concrete covered porch to the fence, and over on the right side, it is only 30 feet from the back wall of the house to the fence. The side yards, otherwise known as the "hallways" around here, are a scant 6 feet wide.

For someone who lives in Texas, this will sound strange, but being in the sun gives me migraines. A ten minute drive on a sunny day can knock me out for days. It is something about the quality of the light down here -- the white-hotness of it. I'm fine in the midwest -- I'd have been a midwesten gardener long ago -- but down here it sucks to be me sometimes.

About a year ago, my sunglasses broke. I was very upset, since they were a pair of Chanels I'd had for ages, given to me by my parents. When I went out to look for new ones, I got ones that were polarized and had huge lenses that totally covered my eyes. The change was fantastic, and even though I don't really have the face shape for huge frames, I don't care. I'd thought I'd had polarized lenses with my old pair, but it turns out that they weren't real Chanels, they were cheapo fakey fakes, so I'd been suffering needlessly for, oh, five years. Thanks, Dad! Oh, well. I should have known.

The really cool thing, though, was that I was able to go outside for more than a few minutes. I spent more time in the back yard with Huckle, and decided I was really tired of looking at patchy grass and weeds. Then I got the idea to put some flowers in the front yard. Revolutionary, no? Here's what I had to work with up there -- cute house, the closest our builder offered to Texas Cottage style. White limestone masonry, a couple of columns, white and beige trim. When we were looking at houses, I wanted a 150 year old fixer-upper white limestone cottage downtown, and Hubs wanted new, warranty-holding, garage having. He won this time.

The view of our house from the street. The landscaping was "builder's special" even after a year and a half -- all we'd done was add limestone edging and put in 3 tiny sago palms, since my mother told me they would be fine if you left them alone after you planted them. The trees are live oaks.

Front porch, unused and collecting tumbleweeds. Baby sago palm, a windchime given to us by the in laws, some lorapetulum, purple verbena, and boxwood-ish shrub. By early last year, I was sick and tired of the out front look, hated the lawn and watering it in the summer, and none too pleased with the view. Add to all that the fact that our next door neighbor has The Nicest Lawn in the neighborhood, thanks to an assload of chemicals, constant watering during the summer, and at least 10 hours of maintenance each week, and we couldn't compete. I didn't want to follow his example though -- I don't like Texas lawn grasses, I don't like to waste money or water, and I wasn't about to pollute my family with traditional lawn chemicals.

I decided I wanted organic, cottage, low-ish water usage, and heat tolerant. At first, I thought I'd be satisfied with having "nice landscaping" but fairly quickly, I turned into a gardener.

More later.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Want to see something gross?

I'm warning you, this isn't pretty.

I spent most of the spring and summer in my garden, and so far a good chunk of fall. Most mornings Huckle would come and go from wherever I was working, sometimes watching movies, sometimes helping me dig holes or pull weeds. One June morning, I carried loads of river rock to the backyard, and Huckle was watching Cars for the eleventy millionth time, and all was swell until I heard Huckle scream, "Mom! Mom!" over and over again.

I bolted in the front door and skidded on a puddle of blood on the tile. I couldn't see Huck, and couldn't hear him anymore, but there were splotches of blood every few inches, so I followed his trail through the entire house, screaming his name, until I came to the kitchen and saw a 2 foot by 2 foot spray of blood on the wall, right at my waist height, which happens to be just about Huckle's face level. I could hear muffled screams, so I knew he was still alive and breathing. I opened closets, looked under beds, checked the bathtubs, scanned the backyard, and generally freaked out for some of the longest minutes of my life until I saw a tuft of blonde hair poking out from under a burlap row cover in the backyard.

This photograph doesn't convey the full horror, since you can't see the blood all over his forehead, glasses, shirt, pants, legs, shoes, etc, but it is pretty close.
Here's where it gets complicated. Aside from the blood, there were no apparent signs of trauma. He had all his teeth, no cuts, scrapes, or bruises, his ears, eyes, throat, tongue, gums, scalp, and everything else seemed fine. And he wasn't talking. When I asked him what was bleeding, he said, "My face," and when I asked him what hurt, he said, "My throat and my nose." When I asked him what happened, he said "I don't know," or, "I was standing in the kitchen and then there was blood in me, but it fell out."

Four year old boys are very helpful.

I called my mom, told her that Huck was covered in blood, but that he didn't seem injured, just that his throat and nose hurt, but that whatever had been bleeding had stopped. We decided that he'd probably bumped his nose or something and had gotten a nosebleed, which had freaked him the freak out. All the blood in his nose seemed to confirm that, so that's when I cleaned up the blood, then got the camera out, mostly to show Hubs and my mom, but maybe also to torment Huck with when he's my age and his kids do stuff like this.

So, la de dah, just a nosebleed, we skipped off hand in hand to my bathroom, where I asked him if he would like a bath or a shower (bath), did he want bubbles (of course!), did all that blood come out of your nose? (I think so!)

Huck and I chatted as the water filled the tub and the bubbles foamed, sending the "boy smell" of Irish Spring shower gel through the house, and I suggested he start taking off his shirt. While he lifted his shirt up, he tilted back his head and then I saw the true source of all that fuss.Hmm, maybe that one doesn't quite do it justice.

Just in case there's any confusion, that would be a 1 1/2 inch deep by 3/4 and inch wide hole in my kid's palate. You know, that hard thing at the top of your mouth? That second picture shows the resulting "flap" better than the first, wouldn't you agree? I remembered to turn the flash off for that one. (By the way, the bloody pics are timestamped 12:44 PM, the in-the mouth ones were taken Many Hours later.)

So now we go back: For his fourth birthday, Huckle was given an indoor tent -- it was a Spiderman tent/house that stood up with long plastic tubes fit together with metal joins -- basically black plastic straws with very thick walls. Well, this tent fell apart after a year of abuse, the pole sections snapped, and once Spidey-town could no longer be taped or sewn back together, we got rid of it. We let Huckle keep one intact pole section because he'd turned it into his "magic wand". Like this, but not snapped.

What I eventually coaxed out of him, after a particularly lung-tiring scream, orders to get dressed and get in the car, and another phone call to my mother, was that my SuperBoy had decided to try sword-swallowing. But instead of swallowing the "sword" (tent pole/magic wand), he used ONE HAND to push his sword through his palate. He even explained to me that he tilted his head back so that his esophagus would be at the bottom of his head, not at the back. Oh, anatomy, you cruel mistress. And tissue. You suck too.

Anyhow, I managed to call my husband and say, "Huckle has shoved a tent pole through the roof of his mouth, there's a large hole, and I'm taking him to the hospital now as soon as I find a towel to keep the blood off the car seats. Bye," before I hung up on him and left my cell phone on the coffee table.

Off to the ER we went, and even though there were a number of people waiting, we were triaged and sent back to a room within ten minutes. The triage nurse said, "I've worked here for 14 years and never seen anything like this," but she must take a lot of time off, because the ER doc said, "Well, that's worse than I usually see, but just two weeks ago there was another kid in here with a hole in the top of his mouth." Huckle got a painkiller, I broke off half a Xanax, and fairly soon my mom showed up. It was determined that, as ugly as his wound was, all that was needed was a patch job. For about two hours we waited for a passel of specialists to return the ER doc's calls, since the ER doc doesn't sew up holes in the top of mouths, and it turns out that neither does the ENT or the plastic surgeon.

We were discharged from the hospital and sent a few miles down to the only oral surgeon who sees kids with state insurance, sat in his packed waiting room full of wisdom tooth patients, and between jaw sawings, the OS took a look. We had the option of doing Nothing, just waiting a few weeks until the hole closed up by itself, or having the flap sewn back into place under light anaesthesia. If we waited for it to close by itself, Huck would have to go into the OS twice a week until he had the all clear, and sewing it up meant drugging him. That night, Huckle couldn't eat or drink anything, even with the area numbed, because it hurt so badly, and we decided that -- since he'd already come through bigger surgeries than this like a champ -- the best thing to do was to have the 1 inch by 3/4 inch by 1 inch flap sewn back to the roof of his mouth. For us, it was the best choice, and I think Huckle appreciated it too, because five minutes after he woke up from the drugs, he was asking to go to McDonald's and called every member of my family to tell them that the hole in his head was all fixed. We took him to McDonald's, something that usually only happens when his father travels for work (we started that ritual a long time ago -- daddy leaves on a trip, mommy and huck have a big fun day the first day so he won't be so sad), then loaded him up with non-red popsicles, juice, veggies, and fruits for the next few days.

Here's Huck twenty minutes after coming home from surgery. He always has those circles under his eyes, which some of you probably recall.

On the off chance that you, like my mother, father, husband, the many nurses and ER doctors, not to mention the ENT, oral surgeon, and even a few administrators who heard about us and decided to drop by our room, would like to know what stupid bastard taught a four year old boy about sword swallowing, all I have to say is, "Oops, my bastard."

See, a few days before this unfortunate occurrence, I was planting an agave in the backyard, right next to one of the saddest, most pathetic looking upright rosemary bushes I'd ever seen. Drought is hard, man. Huck was sitting on the patio playing with his cars, and he asked if there were real people who were fire eaters. I said something like, "Oh, yes, there are! There are all sorts of different tricks that people can do. They can eat fire, swallow swords, dance with bears, hang from their earrings that aren't always in their ears, walk on tightropes high above the ground and swing from a trapeze..." And somewhere around there I realized that I was listing things that could be a bad idea for a young, active boy to know about. I lose my defenses around a beautiful agave. I added, "But you have to grow up and go to college to learn how to do those things first. Not even your uncle Andy knows how to eat fire yet, because he's not done with college."

By now, we all know when he stopped listening.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Coming back

Right now I have 12 children and 4 dogs (1 child is ours, 2 dogs are ours -- things haven't changed that much) in the house, but I'm going to start working on this here blog again.

Broad and narrow updates: Huckle loves kindergarten, even though he's almost a year younger than 1/2 the kids in his class he's in the top 3 for reading proficiency, he spends most of his days riding his (de-training wheeled) bike around the neighborhood with a posse of 5-9 year olds, I started gardening/farming my suburban 60X120 plot of land and haven't had to buy more than a few pounds of veg since May, I've sold $870 worth of organic basil to local eateries, which subsidizes my gardening habit quite well, we got travertine floors throughout our house, my cat ran away and was gone for 4 weeks, then a family found her in their backyard when they noticed a cat trying to push open the back door, since the cat came back she's actually friendly, like a real pet, Huck's father could still be released from prison at anytime, we had a prowler in the backyard a few months ago and I am now a liberal with a gun, we went to MN this summer for 3 weeks, while there my dad taught me to shoot and it turns out I'm frickin Annie Oakley, I've come to terms with the theory that if Huck's father ever attempts to make good on his threats to me and mine, I'll shoot him to stop him, I carry a Tazer in my purse everywhere I go, I bought my sister $1400 (original retail value, not including shipping) of West Elm furniture for $50 for Christmas (2 of these and 1 of these -- Yay Pottery Barn outlet store 10 minutes away!), I got a stock tank pond for Christmas, I made almost all our give-to-others gifts this holiday (except for the sister and her husband, neither of which appreciate stuff like that, so I don't waste my time), I've knit 3 sweaters in the last 2 weeks, Lexapro and Tramadol have a strange interaction that makes you obsessive and hyper focused (but I like it and totally owe the extensive gardening/landscaping to said interaction, booyah),I've naturalized my hair and haven't used shampoo in over 8 months (but I still get it colored - not ready to embrace the 5 years of grey I've got going), last night I taught myself how to spin yarn from wool on a drop spindle (built the spindle myself too) and ended up making 175 yards of DK weight single ply yarn (gosh darn it does my left shoulder hurt right now), and also last night Huckle had his SECOND successful sleepover at a friend's house.

And my husband and I have turned out to be a "catch" for other couples -- we've been invited to six houses for New Years' Eve, and we're currently trying to work it out so we hold one big party here at our house to get a bunch of our friends together instead of six disparate satellite parties. That means I'll need to pick up the dog poop from the backyard. And maybe cook something. Maybe.

Back later! Let me know if you'd like to hear more about any of the stuff I mentioned above, having a direction to go in will help me write more. Any of those topics can be fleshed out, and of course there's more, but that's what came to mind after making 18 PB+J sandwiches and putting a big rock over the boxer puppy's freshly dug hole along the fence.

I've been reading the whole gang's blogs, even if I often don't comment (see above re: 12 children -- it is a normal thing, since I'm one of the only WAHMs and we have a Wii and a sandbox). I hope you all had a happy holiday season, are safe and warm and happy (if not overjoyed), and I wish you a Happy, Happy, Happy New Year.

Lawdy, I need a nap.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Lets hope I stay safe.

Huckle: Mom, we can't break our legs.
Maer: Nope, we don't want to, do we?
H: If you break your leg, Daddy and I will be sad.
M: Will you take me to the hospital?
H: No, we'll get a new mommy.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Vital statistics

In February 2005, Huckle weighed 29 pounds and was 34 inches tall.

In November of 2006, Huckle weighed 36 pounds and was 36 inches tall.

In December of 2007, Huckle weighed 45 pounds (winter clothes) and was 43 inches tall.

Is it common for kids to grow barely at all from 18 to 39 months (this was his first time in foster care, then 4 months of reunification), then grow 7 inches in a year, or is something strange?

He's really flat footed.