Friday, September 29, 2006

Sweet product

I just used some Loctite Gel Super Glue and I am in love. The gel is thick to stay where you put it and you have to (easily, but suredly) squeeze the sides of the bottle to get it to come out. The bottle has a wide base and stands stably upright.

I have a history of super glue accidents (THANK GOD never with my eyes) and this stuff makes it really hard to have an accident. Should you have an accident, there are instructions on the package for how to get your fingers unstuck. It doesn't, however, describe how to get your wedding and engagement rings unstuck from each other and the dining room table.

You might think he's just a polite sweetie...

...but there's more to him than that.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Burn, baby, burn

The first fire in our new wood insert. Bring on the cold weather!

Still Growing

Compare to the collage of photos from the same location previously.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

First black eye

Andy left after work on Friday for his "No Talking Allowed" camping trip. It was supposed to be 2 other guys plus him but one was sick so it was just Andy and Chris.

Kevin and I went to Chick-Fil-A for dinner and to play on their playground. Not less than 2 hours after Andy left, Kevin has his first black eye. He bumped his face on the playset, I don't know how. He had a large red lump under the outside corner of his eye. After a few minutes he wanted to keep playing so we stayed for another half hour or so.

The next morning, the red spot was still there but some blood had seeped away from it to directly underneath his eye. At breakfast I said, "Kevin, you have a black eye!" He jumped up from the table and ran to look in the mirror and then he walked slowly back to me and said with a surprising amount of condescension, "Mama, I'm SUPPOSED to have black eyes, that's how God made me."

I told him that's the phrase we use when there is a bruise around someone's eye. He still has the black eye but it's getting better. Where the bruising had spread along the entire width of his eye, it's now a little smaller and the coloring is fading.

When Andy got home on Sunday afternoon and the black eye was at its worst, he said, "Kevin, how'd you get a black eye?" Kevin looked at me and rolled his eyes and slumped his shoulders in exhaustion at having to teach us everything, then repeated to Andy that he's supposed to have black eyes.

Parents - sheesh.

Friday, September 22, 2006

First ever family portrait

And second ever professional kid portrait.

Day Out With Thomas

On Wednesday night, we informed Kevin that we would all be visiting a railroad museum on Thursday and riding on Thomas the Tank Engine.

At first, he was stunned.

Then he did a happy dance.

Then he fell over from happy dancing so hard.

Shortly after we arrived, we saw The Holy Grail.

Then we rode on The Holy Grail.

Right before this picture was taken, Kevin and Alyssa were shoving each other out of the way from in front of James (the red engine.)

What local community building will do for you

As I've mentioned, we had our neighborhood picnic last Saturday to help our little community get to know each other. The next day, I took Kevin to a barbecue at a coworker's house and left Andy at home to relax by himself. While trying to do that, one of the neighbors came over to talk about a zoning issue that she was trying to fight. She stayed for 30 minutes moving the conversation to the "appalling" state of some of the houses on the other end of the street. We have no idea what she is talking about but we had heard previously from another neighbor about her saying such things in the past as well.

Last night when we came home, 2 families of neighbors were talking in one of their front lawns. We've never seen these 2 families talk together before the party. They may have, but we didn't see it. Last night, we saw it. When I went to get the mail, I met one of those families who said that Bill up the street was finding people to take their food because their freezer had gone belly-up that day. I also had a phone message from Bill's wife saying that she had a bit of an emergency and asking if I could call her. I called back and left a message but I assume the problem was their freezer. Either way, I would have never gotten that call in the past because nobody knew our names or phone number.

While this is all a bit tiring (trying to rest away from people and they find you, having to wave and be neighborly when you're exhausted from a day trip, etc.) this is also pretty cool - and it is what we asked for.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

R.I.P. Northern Lights

I realize that there are small groups in the area that still consider themselves Northern Lights, but to me, my group was Northern Lights. And it is no longer.

Ten years ago, 7 people met together in an apartment in west Catonsville - a married couple, an almost-married couple, a married woman whose husband couldn't come, and two single ladies (I was one of them.) We met every Wednesday night to study the Bible and other books together. What we didn't know was that many of us would become very important friends to one another - nor that we'd still be at it 10 years later.

Since 1996, we've twice split into 3 groups because we grew so big. It's hard to have a meaningful discussion with 20 people in the room, especially when over half of them are introverts. We've changed meeting locations from house to house and we've changed leaders over the years.

The past couple of years, our group has been slowly but steadily declining in the level of satisfaction it has provided its members. The members' commitment to the group waned and the conversations became stale.

Tonight, 6 people met together in a house in Catonsville - four were members of the original seven. We met to discuss the fate of our group and came to a near consensus that it's time to fold.

I agreed with the decision and have been feeling that way for awhile so I was surprised on my drive home to feel very sad and then scared, in a way. I know that some of my friendships from the group will fade. I think that's ok and normal but it's still sad when I think back on how strong they used to be. Times change and relationships change and although I feel it's time to move on from meeting as a group every Wednesday night, it's sad to know that the "We'll still stay friends!" sentiment we tried to keep close to our hearts will not be upheld. It's hard to be separated by time and space and remain close. I found myself feeling scared because without such strong relationships forged by many hours spent together in prayer, mourning, joy, silliness and personal growth to support me, I may slip and fall. Honestly, that doesn't rationally concern me because I know they're still there and I know I will have room for new relationships, but the feeling came over me anyway.

I can't begin to express my gratitude and thanks to the people who have touched my life through Northern Lights. You've been my best friends, my companions, my supporters, my pray-ers and my entertainment. You've provided me windows into myself that I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to peer through. Thank you for also opening the windows into yourselves so that I could peer through to see the real you sometimes.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

It was worth it

Today was our neighborhood cookout at our house. We worked pretty hard this week to prepare for it but we didn't prepare for rain and what did we get? Rain. Oh well, at the last minute we moved the party from the front lawn to the back porch and inside and made do.

Today was exhausting, but so worth it. The introductions, conversations, smiles and laughs flying about the crowd were fantastic. There wasn't a person who came that didn't say, "We are SO glad you did this. Thank you." And we were just as thankful that they came because that was the point of it - to get people together to meet, converse and become something other than anonymous to one another.

It's easy to list the ways that community is hard but what you gain from it is immeasurable.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Don't Drink the Water

The other day, my parents received a certified letter that stated the gas station which they are 2 houses away from, was leaking and MTBE, the additive that helps gasoline burn cleaner, was found in nearby wells. This has been a problem for some time around their county but this was the first that their local station was reported to have a problem.

The Baltimore Sun ran an article with some further information including:

the levels have been rising since spring

The letters, sent Friday, come nearly two months after the state received the results of groundwater testing at Meller's Food Mart, a convenience store and former Sunoco station. The state's delay in notifying the county Health Department could be a violation of Maryland law.

the county Health Department did not receive word of detection until Aug. 31 - nearly seven weeks after the findings

One of the wells also showed benzene, another gas additive, at 171 parts per billion.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It's Done

I just finished handing out the rest of the neighborhood picnic invitations. I knocked on some doors but I mostly just put them at the front doors or porches of the other houses. You know, even if only the people who I invited in person and who said they'd come come, it'll still be a good time and I'll consider it a success.

This is a moment for a huge PHEWWWWWWWWWWWWW! But then hopefully no migraine.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I did it! Well, I started to do it

Kevin and I just returned from over an hour of inviting some people on our street to our neighborhood picnic next Saturday. Last night Andy and I realized that we have to do it next Saturday or wait until next year and we didn't want to wait again, especially because we already have a bunch of hamburger meat and hot dogs in the freezer for the cookout. So... I took Kevin with me as an ice-breaker and hopefully a way for people to realize I wasn't trying to sell them something when I approached their door.

Anyway, people responded better than I expected! Which means that we were out there meeting and talking to people for longer than I had planned. And we're only 1/3 of the way done! We talked to people from our house to the north end of our street. Now we have that many people still on our street and then 6 houses to visit on the street between ours and the main road.

It's probably best to have a short time to get fully prepared because I've done some preparations already (bought meat for grilling, paper plates and napkins, thought about logistics of chairs and tables, etc.) and this way I won't have time to get burned out before the big event. And, this forces me to get out there and knock on some doors - which is one of the most unpleasant things I can imagine doing.

Kevin didn't really talk to people except to say "Bye!" but he did a good job of handing out flyers.

It just keeps getting better

Kevin picked out some purple bedsheets at Target last week so I put them in the wash yesterday. He helped me switch them from the washer to the dryer and as he put them in the dryer I said, "Do you know what this is?" He answered, "Your bathing suit?"

I gave him a quizzical look and he said, "Your underwear?"

He learns a lot from his father.

Friday, September 08, 2006

What I bring to our family

There's a Baby Einstein video about farms that includes a song to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell" that goes:

The cows give us milk! The cows give us milk!
Hi-ho the derry-o, the cows give us milk!

The chickens give us eggs! The chickens give us eggs!
Hi-ho the derry-o, the chickens give us eggs!

Ever the musician and songwriter/stealer, Kevin made up some other words to the song such as

Our plates give us food! Our plates give us food! Hi-ho the derry-o, our plates give us food!

Then we came up with

Papa gives us silliness! Papa gives us silliness! Hi-ho the derry-o, Papa gives us silliness!

After hearing our rendition of the song, Andy prompted Kevin to come up with words about me and Kevin came up with the following gem on his own:

Mama gives us hair in the shower! Mama gives us hair in the shower!
Hi-ho the derry-o, Mama gives us hair in the shower!

And he sang it with the gusto of a Broadway performer.

Weekly Roundup

This week has been weird. I'm a creature of habit, by any definition. This week's schedule change to 5-day preschool for Kevin, the start of swimming lessons for Kevin and my holiday on Monday which is a day I'd usually get 8 hours of work in has thrown me for a bit of a loop, albeit not as big of one as I might've expected. That's probably because I expected it to be bad, so anything would've been better than that.

Swimming lessons went great. Kevin started out the class crying as soon as he got in the water. He sobbed for about 10 minutes but I held my ground (I'm such a good parent) and stayed on the bleachers instead of going over to him. He eventually learned to trust the floatie strapped on his back and to trust the teacher and by the end of the 1/2 hour class, he was jumping off the side of the pool and then "swimming" without the teacher pulling him. Good stuff.

Now that preschool has officially started (and summer time fun is over) Kevin is learning school-type things each day. He even has a project due next week (technically, *I* have a project due next week) and he gets to take something in today for show and tell. I am still glad that he was there for the summer to get to know the other kids and teachers but I was ready for something a bit more structured and I'm happy he's getting it now.

I like putting jigsaw puzzles together and I recently realized that while working on them, I spend a lot of time in contemplative thought. I think through things rather than just thinking about them and I think about other people and their needs. Even when I specifically set aside time to do that, I don't keep my brain on the task for as long as I can while I'm putting a puzzle together.

This afternoon we'll meet with our social worker for the last time in reference to Kevin's adoption. This will be our last post-placement visit and report. In one month, we'll celebrate the 2-year anniversary of Kevin being part of our family.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Last night when I was finished eating dinner, I left my place at the table to work on the puzzle set up at the other end.

Kevin: Mama, did you wash your hands?
Dianne: No, I don't need to. I didn't touch my food; I used my fork and knife.
Andy: (whispering to Kevin) Ask her how she ate her hamburger.
Kevin: Mama, how did you eat your hamburger?
Dianne: I did eat it with my hands, but my bun wasn't dirty because it wasn't inside out like Kevin's.
Kevin: (squeezing his bottom with both hands) I can't turn it inside out, silly!

Photo comparison

We finally laid out all 3 sets of photos and made our decision about where we'll order prints from. The big winner? Shutterfly!

Here are the 5 photos we had printed by Snapfish, Shutterfly and Kodak EasyShare Gallery.

Surprisingly (at least to me) the Kodak photos were the worst. They looked washed out because the colors were lighter. The picture of Nicholas in half sun and half shadow didn't look nearly as nice because the contrast between the light and dark wasn't natural. The Kodak photos also lacked detail, which I don't understand. In the picture of the mountain through the logs on the bridge, the logs in the foreground were smooth while in the Shutterfly and Snapfish prints, you could see the wood details. In terms of convenience, Kodak took the longest to get our prints to us in the mail.

Snapfish and Shutterfly were close enough in print quality for us to be able to make our decision based on convenience factors. While we already use Snapfish for all of our film developing so we have a lot of pictures stored there, I really like that Shutterfly prints my file name on the back of each picture and sends an index print. Snapfish was the only one that didn't send an index print and I really think they should.

I've spent a lot of time this weekend transferring photos to Shutterfly's website. I can drag and drop them into their photo upload application and then let my computer and dsl connection do the rest.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The paperwork never ends

I suspect that I'll be filling out paperwork for Kevin (or at least double-checking his efforts) for another 20 years, but most of that will be paperwork that we can call someone to ask about should a question arise or that won't affect his life drastically if we get something wrong. "Oh, you wanted his birthdate, not mine? Sorry, let me correct that and hand it right back to you so he can join the t-ball squad."

I'm down to my last nerve (or is it fed up to my last nerve?) with federal government paperwork for Kevin's adoption. This is almost as bad as trying to make a call to the phone company except that I don't expect this to be easy. However, it is still frustrating.

It appears that the number of different forms the government creates is less so that the question of whether a person is filling out the correct form or not is not as difficult of an issue. But, on each form, there are so many options for how to fill it out, that it's just as confusing as trying to figure out whether I'm on the right form at all.

I'm currently filling out the N-600, "Application for Certificate of Citizenship." I honestly think this is the last thing, other than tax forms, that we'll have to file for Kevin. We will probably get him a passport soon, since I have extra passport photos due to a misunderstanding with the helpful lady at FedEx/Kinko's yesterday and they will technically expire in 29 days, and that will somehow be affected by his adoption because we'll have to prove that he's a U.S. citizen and I'm sure the CoC application won't be even looked at by then, let alone finalized. So I guess that's one more thing.

I'm not saying that all of this isn't worth it because, honestly, he is.

And to think that although I've spent the last 3 months loving the idea of not having anymore kids and even telling a bunch of people that all the way up through last week, I now think I want another. What the heck is wrong with me?

Pictures I've taken lately

In preparation for the remnants of tropical event Ernesto to slide through here, we saved some of our roses before the wind hit. I don't usually cut them and bring them inside but as pretty as they are on the table, I should do it more often!

In the mood to eat cookie batter the other day, I had Kevin help me make chocolate chip cookies. We baked some right after dinner so they were extra yummy.

I went on a spending spree yesterday. Although it was somewhat planned, I'm still slightly uncomfortable with it. When I graduated from college, I bought a shower curtain for my new apartment. I've been using it ever since because although my tastes may have changed, there was nothing wrong with it. Yesterday, I bought a new one. And not only the shower curtain but matching curtain hooks, hand towels (to use only when guests come), soap dispenser, and bath towels for Andy and me.

Now with Blogger Comments

When I created my blog, Blogger didn't include a commenting feature so I enlisted the help of HaloScan, which I really liked. Now that I've switched to Blogger's new (beta) version, I can't get my comment code to work with their new template format. I could revert to my old template and blogger version or I could just suck it up and use blogger's comments, which is what I'm deciding to do. So, go ahead and comment, you legions of commenters who I'm sure have so missed my commenting feature over the past week or so.