Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"An Update in Pictures" or "My Family is Weird"

I haven't been on this blog for a while, (I know, a common reoccurrence these days) so I'm going to give the cliff notes version of an update. The end of this year has found us in the amazing position of having 3 of my 6 siblings now living near us in Colorado. I'm still pinching myself because it seems too good to be true. It's a jump up and click your heels kind of feeling.

But let's scoot back and hit a few recent highlights of these last few months:

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Aidan is becoming quite the cellist. He loves his cello and is on the brink of taking his music to a street corner to try and raise money for an electric cello. He also loves to express his individuality which is not always appreciated by his teachers. For Halloween he went to school as a protester in a shirt that said "I Protest Everything" and a sign with a variety of interchangeable protests: I am the 97.3546%...I protest Obamacare...I protest your greedy consumption of candy...I protest your pessimistic attitude (and the flip side, I protest your optimistic attitude.)...and so on.  When asked for a complete meal plan from his health teacher, he handed her recipes for roasted camel and elephant stew. (She was less amused than I was, but assured me in our little chat that she would never ever forget him as long as she lived.) He does, however, have some teachers that really get his creative bent. His LA teacher loved his enthusiastic end of term presentation about why we should eat road kill, and even baked me cookies as an end of year present. The gym teacher is a gruff, "I used to be in the navy and think I'm a drill sergeant and don't ask me any questions or I'll bite your head off sort of fellow". He and Aidan were best buddies. Not really, I made that part up.

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This is Chloe at Aidan's concert. She really loves cello music, it makes her want to be weird. Chloe's teachers think that she is a perfect angel and the model student.  She is about a year away from getting her black belt, and is very justice oriented. Very. She has no problem stirring things up in the defense of anyone she loves. I had to talk her out of trying to take on the 6 foot dude who gave her brother a concussion in a soccer game.

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For her 10th birthday, we took her to the salon for pink streaks in her hair. A lady who looked like the real live version of Barbie spent WAY TOO LONG quite a while giving her the cutest pale pink highlights.

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making cake pops for the party


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Valley Forge
We went to Philly for Thanksgiving to visit my brother's family who should move to Colorado but still hasn't yet.  They live in this gorgeous, wooded area that is dotted by horse farms and is minutes from Valley Forge, Yes, I'm aware that there is a flagpole sticking out of my head, that's just how patriotic I am.

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Chloe's birthday was while we were in Pennsylvania and the ordered the cutest cake and took us all to the Speedway to celebrate. This was some serious go-karting. And I would like to take this opportunity to say that the reason I went so slow was because I had a defective kart and not because I was terrified.
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Chloe being awesome
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Merry Christmas eve with a cousins gift exchange. Getting all those kids to look at the camera was impossible, so why try?

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The photo booth at Chloe's party
At this point, you may be wondering if we always look weird in photos, and the answer is: yep, pretty much.

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Merry Christmas!

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Aidan found the pickle which is a new family tradition. As you can see, he's thrilled about it.

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Another tradition we have is to make sock creatures for the kids' stockings. This was Chris' first year to take the lead on that project and he did a bang up job making weird looking minions.

Well, I'm about tired of blogging now. Happy New Years and a toast to family, friends, happy memories, and more good things to come.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Paperwork and Fires

Last Friday was a crispy, cool, fall day. Just the perfect thing to entice me stay inside with a cup of coffee and a fire in stove. My wood stove is an instant happy place for me. It crackles and pops as it expands and contracts with the heat, creating a sensory experience reminiscent of fluffy socks and good books. I sat down with the huge pile of papers for our dossier, my favorite pen, and carefully read the instructions.

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I love checklists.  Having a little box to put my finished mark in makes me happy. Kind of like those tests with the bubbles to fill in. I love those too.  Happily, my stack of instructions came with two sets of checklists so I can have twice the amount of fun.

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After carefully reading the instructions about how this is an OFFICIAL document and no white out, corrections etc could be made, I very neatly started filling out the first page. And then proudly took a picture of my work.

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That was the point when I realized that I had got my hubby's name wrong. Seriously. In tidy black handwriting, I had given him my maiden name. And while he was, no doubt, honored to officially become a Hewitt, I'm guessing the foreign government might be a bit less impressed with his name change.

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Speaking of which, if you know who's flag this is, then you know where we are adopting from.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Family That Flushes Together...

I became a little bit more of an urban hippie today. I bought a neti pot. Aidan has been sick with a cold, and often it seems to get stuck in his sinuses bringing a headache and vomiting. A couple of people recommended that I do a sinus flush. Can I just say, Gross? But hey, if it's going to help my little man, I'm all over it. So there I am at the checking out my options, and I couldn't help laughing at the advertising. Sorry for the poor quality pic, I was sneaking a pic with my iphone.

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Look at all those happy faces! And there is a whole family nose flushing together with huge smiles on their faces!  I especially love the "Little Squirt to go". I'm going to have to get one for my purse, just in case.

I bought a cute little ceramic one that looks like a mini tea pot. It's teal. And made in the USA. The lady at the check out admired my cute little pot and told me that she found a nasal flush to be invigorating. Good to know.

Happy Tuesday, it might be time to buy your own little squirt to go...

Thursday, October 17, 2013


It's official now.  We finally have our home study approval.  I was going to be blogging about the whole process, but there was so much waiting involved, it didn't feel like I had anything to say. But that part at least is over. We went in today and signed and signed and signed. 

I was so nervous before our first home visit. I cleaned the house in a frenzy. I didn't know what she was going to be looking for so I prepared for an invasion of Martha Stewart type proportions.  At one point, when I was on my hands and knees with an arm stuck in the fridge, I wondered what the likelihood was that she was going to have an urge to pull out the lettuce drawer-but still, I was prepared. (Sadly, she didn't, and so the gleaming, white underside remained an unseen testament of our adoption worthy house.)

The whole process was partly fun. After all, I got to sit there and talk about how amazing my kids and husband were, definitely my favorite subjects. In fact, I think our social worker wanted to be adopted by us at the end, but that could have just been the sugar high from the chocolate chip cookies I was feeding her.

It was also partly invasive, uncomfortable, and definitely stressful. I'm mostly a private person and not the sort to give all the intimate details to the hairdresser. So having a fresh faced collegiate ask all sorts of personal questions while busily bullet pointing on her laptop was not my favorite thing. I would have rather she just looked behind the lettuce drawer.

Now on to the dossier which is a HUGE stack of papers that makes me want to cry just looking at it. Basically, I think that we have to find the originals of every scrap of paper detailing our lives and have it notarized. But this part is on me to gather and submit. Part of the reason that our home study took so long was that we had to wait on wheels to turn in our agency that were not turning. People left, and new people took their place...things got lost and had to be resubmitted...etc..etc.

Oh, I never mentioned which country we are adopting from. Next time then, because there is a wee story involved and I need go make a pumpkin pie.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Back to School Photos

It looks like we may have finally broken the back of our summer heat and Autumn is most assuredly making a welcome entrance. Our summer was spent resting, and playing, and hanging tight around the house with piles of books on the couch. My creative energy seemed sapped by the heat and the end of school drain on my mind- you know that part of the year when everything is on auto pilot waiting for the rescue of summer break, and all you can think of to make for lunches is PB&J? But now, the weather is cooling and the leaves are starting to change, and part of me is perking up and wanting to Create Something.

I have felt in a rut taking pictures and I confess that my camera has stayed in the closet more often than not this summer. But I signed up for a Photoshop Grunge course and I'm super excited. It's all about creating layers and art in a really unique way, and I'm looking forward to experimenting with some new avenues of photography.

Back to school photos: I let the kids pick something they wanted to express about themselves and then we came up with a location that fit with that. Aidan wanted his skateboard and Chloe wanted something to represent her artistic side, so we went with paintbrushes. We scouted around downtown Denver and found a lovely place with lots of funky graffiti.

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The first day that we went I managed to forget my camera's memory card at home. That was brilliant. But on the sunny side, we found an awesome coffee shop, Crema, and drove back home properly fortified with an iced latte.

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Aidan is in that camera shy stage where he avoids all attempts to take his picture. But this is where the beautiful thing about taking your own kids' photos comes in to play-I know exactly the sort of bribery to use...

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This is the part of the story where we started saying "bacon covered squirrel!" because if there is anything that Roscoe can't resist, it's a bacon covered squirrel.

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Aidan's easy: the price of a smile can be bought with the promise of bacon. And it helps to have a goofy sis behind me pulling out all the stops to make him laugh.

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Chloe works for cupcakes. Sheesh, you'd think I never feed my kids meat or sugar...okay, well maybe that is kind of the truth.

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The sign above the car read "Asshole's Garage" and informed us that trespassers would be shot. But since we weren't actually touching anything I figured we were safe enough. They are laughing because, according to Chloe, I was doing something weird. (Which if you ask my children, might be more commonplace than they would like.)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A vacuum, cookies, and some cleaner

I have a confession to make. I'm one of those people who has trouble saying no to the the salesmen that show up at my front door. I take it personally. I know that by rejecting what they are selling, I'm not really rejecting the person, it just feels that way. And the more downcast they look, the easier of a sell I am. Once I bought a vacuum. And then had Chris return it the next day (after thoroughly vacuuming the house). I bought cleaner from a man who put some in his mouth to show how harmless it was. I've signed all kinds of petitions and buy nearly every cookie that is peddled to my house. I usually start out trying kindly to refuse, but I always waffle after a quick peak at their clipboard reveals how few sales they have. I recently had a call from a man who asked if I really wanted to have my roof inspected for hail damage, again, since he had just been up there the last time their salesman went through the area, and he was thinking it probably hadn't changed that much. I sheepishly told him that of course he didn't have to climb up there again, I didn't really want it inspected at all. Tonight I bought the Denver Post, again. In my defense, I said no about 5 different ways. But each time, he looked a little more disheartened. He was wearing ill fitting slacks and a oversized shirt. Like he was trying to dress nicely, but lacked the proper funds to do it well. And he was standing on the front stoop like he had been doing this all day and now the sun was going down and he had little to show for it. I'm not sure which one of us was going to cry first if I said no one more time. I didn't really help that after I shooed him away, Aidan was standing at my elbow saying, oh that poor man, you should have bought something from him. I kid you not, I sent Aidan running after him to tell him that I changed my mind. So yeah, I bought the newspaper, gave him some bug spray and would have sent him along with some cookies if we hadn't already eaten them all. Fortunately, our lawn needs to be mowed so Aidan can pay me back in hard labor for his part in our paper purchase.

The moral of the story is that if you come to my door, I'm going to hide.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Isabelle Lake

We were in Oklahoma recently for a wedding and some fellas struck up a conversation with Chris at the coffee bar. On hearing he was from Colorado, they slipped further into an Okie drawl.  "Weelll ah just can't magin whhy anyone would want to live theyr. Too cold. Too much snow. Me, ah'm a lizard, I like the sun".

Yep, you're right. You should probably stay right where you're at. It's a dreadful place to live, but we try to make do...

Some views from our most recent hike.
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Lake Isabelle
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Cummings kids+Sparks kids = muddy, artistic explorers talking about guns
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Indian Paintbrush
What hike would be complete without a picture of the Indian Paintbrush? Maybe because it's one of the only wildflowers that I know it's name? Here's another just for variety's sake: 

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Pretty unnamed wildflower

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The afternoon thunderstorms came rolling in and gave us a gorgeous panorama of shifting clouds filtering the sun into an ever changing array of light. 

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The ever awesome Esther Sparks
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Leyla and Chloe shenanigans
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It's a menhir!
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Happy trails.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sand Dunes

The kids and I took a mini road trip to the Great Sand Dunes a while back. Mini means under 6 hours. And just for fun, we borrowed another child for the trip. The rules were simple, we had a destination in mind, I was not planning anything, and the answer to almost anything was Yes. It was really freeing, and liberating from the daily "have to" list of responsibilities. I explained that for this trip we were a democracy and everyone had equal voting rights. I had some cash in my pocket and when that was gone, we were done.

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We arrived after two little detours, (one slightly unplanned, but Siri set us to rights again) and the other was a spur of the moment decision to hike to the top of Zapata Falls. It was amazing watching my little monkeys gleefully scamper along the slippery sides of the canyon we had to climb through holding on to wires bolted to the side.

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The fog from a wildfire
Our plan was to camp if we found an open spot. I was extremely proud that I pitched the tent all by myself. Sure, I used rocks instead of stakes, and the rain fly fit on weirdly, but at least it was still standing in the morning. (Chris later laughed that my "rain fly" was the top of our teepee tent thing.) Whatever. I'm still awesome for providing shelter.

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The smoke made for an amazing sunset
Our food prep was simple, a trip to Vitamin Cottage to stock up on all sorts of non perishable things. And there was a restaurant nearby. So we had pie and coffee for breakfast, except for Justice who opted for the classic brownies and ice cream.

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It felt like we had landed on another world. And nobody complained that our toothbrushes and toothpaste had somehow disappeared in the car and we had to wash our teeth with our fingers.

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Justice being gnarly
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Aidan sandboarding like a pro
We waited in line to rent boards behind a fastidious gentlemen with ironed shorts and a belt who was making sure that everyone knew their place in the que. Our little crew was amused by his orderliness and came to the conclusions that 1). He was probably an engineer (bless his heart) 2). He had probably not forgotten his toothbrush 3.) He was not having nearly as much fun as we were.

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Yes we did slide down the steepest slopes that we could find
Every few minutes, the wind would pick up and blast us in a mini sand tornado. I was wearing jeans, but had the unfortunate experience of having a whirlwind of sand find it's way down the back of my pants.  Days later, we were still finding sand in our ears.

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Chloe was a trooper and hiked just as hard as the bigger boys. She's one tough little cookie.

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Taking a break
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Chloe and Justice after sliding down
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The view from the (almost) top
After a hard day of playing, we drove home. We drove through a town that was later evacuated because of the wildfires nearby.  We managed to hit Denver right around rush hour traffic which meant that we spent an hour in traffic that had Aidan naming a new game called Angry Mommy-it's not quite as fun as Angry Birds. But nobody threw up in the car which is always a success on road trips, and I always saw the kindly policemen before they saw me. We made it home with a few coins left, a car full of sand, and some new stories.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Little Hike

Yesterday, the kids and I went for a wee (7 hour) hike with a friend.  It was absolutely, stunningly gorgeous, and fed our souls.

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Diamond Lake
See waterfall equals want to climb waterfall for my small ones.

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That little dot at the top? There's Aidan, with Chloe not far behind. I was just happy they didn't meet a bear at the top munching on some berries.

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I did, at this point, decide that we should probably climb up after them

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A close up of the awesomeness in action
The view from the top...

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I was bummed that I hadn't brought my big camera because I didn't want to hike in with it and everything else I was carrying. Chloe lent me hers instead.

Proof that I was there...

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Obviously I missed the photo bomb cue, but if you look close, the holes in my pants look like a face

We walked through fields and fields of wildflowers. I saw magenta colored Indian Paintbrushes, wild roses, lots of ones that I couldn't identify and of course, the Columbine.

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