Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Aftermath

I am taking down the fragile Christmas decorations. If I don't we will have to keep the pumpkins up as decorations next year. I mean really how much superglue can one person buy? We have had a great and eventful week and a half and through it all Emmanuel did amazingly well. He really tried hard and it is such an effort for him. We met with his teacher today and quickly have realized he needs to get back to his structure and lay low for a bit though.

One of the highlights of the past few days was meeting Scott's cousin Lynn. One of Scott's other cousins lives nearby and bravely had a bunch of us over on Saturday morning. Scott has always raved about Lynn and every time we talk about him says, "you've never met him have you?" Lynn and his wife Kristine adopted two boys from Russia. Kristine and I found each other quickly and found we speak the same language and compared stories. It doesn't matter what country, adoption brings you into a unique club. Grandma Charlene and Grandpa Arthur left early yesterday morning and made it back to Oklahoma safely. But not before Grandpa and Abegail joined the clean plate club.
Grandma Charlene will be back on Monday. (She can't get enough of my cooking) Scott is having knee surgery Tuesday. So she will come to make sure I don't get admitted to the mental ward (not that there's anything wrong with that, it often sounds restful) since Scott won't be able to chase after the short people in the house. (It is about me afterall isn't it?) Scott is having microfracture knee surgery. Has anyone had it? How long is the recovery? In other words how long can I let him milk this??? I'm thinking he should be back plowing the driveway by the weekend, anyone? I mean its a knee surgery not a quadruple bypass right???

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Merry Christmas

We had a really nice Christmas. The kids got up about 7:20 which was not too early. We opened presents and were off to church by 10:30. Here are some highlights.

Quotes From Annie:
A: Mommy, kids are luckier than Moms.
M: Why do you think so?
A: Because kids have Grandmas and Grandpas AND Moms and Dads AND cousins and Aunts and Uncles.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Photographic Moments

The Turner Family: Front row, Chase English (4), Annie (4); Second Row Cameron English (6), Grandma Marian, Grandpa Chuck, Owen English (8); Middle, Abegail (8), Emmanuel (5); Back Row; Auntie Caroline, Uncle Mark, Zoe English, Scott, and Sue

We arrived home from DC on Monday safe and sound. I actually split up from Scott and the kids because we got stuck in DC. I had to be at work that afternoon and they couldn't get us all back at the same time. So Scott was stuck with the three kids and several multi-hour layovers from noon until 11 on Monday night. Emmanuel did remarkably well on this trip. But by the end you could tell he was itching. He had been fairly patient, even enough so we got a family photo in, and it was all too much. By the time Scott reached Atlanta a full melt down was brewing and overflowing. One look and Emmanuel just couldn't take it anymore. For an hour Emmanuel tried to get it out of his system until Scott finally got him calm. Then both exhausted, Scott stayed with E-man while the girls went to the restroom a few feet away. However they took a wrong turn out of the ladies room and ended up 30 gates from where they started. Luckily a police lady (that's what they called her) stayed with them until Scott got nervous and caught up with them. Abegail was slightly worried, Annie was dancing and singing not phased in the least bit.
Eventually they made it home and it was all worth it. We had a great visit with my family. The kids got along well with their cousins and enjoyed all the activities (especially the gift exchange)from the jingle bell hunt to the daily runs with Grandpa Chuck. We also went to see the National Christmas Tree and the kids got to see the outside of the White House.
I came home to 12 degrees below zero and was sent right from the airport to a raging apartment fire. I don't think I've ever been that painfully cold. But at least I had a home to go to. There were 190 people displaced by the fire, 1/3 of them on subsidized housing. A day after the building burned someone donated a million dollars to be divided by the 64 families living there. In all the people received more than 17-thousand dollars in donations to get there lives back on track. If this was your year you were wondering whether or not St. Nick was real, there's your answer.

Grandma Charlene and Grandpa Arthur arrived tonight from Oklahoma. The kids were so excited I'm pretty sure steam was coming out of E-man's head. Grandpa read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' and they were off to bed. Merry Christmas to all and to all.....a good night!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2008 Turner/Richardson Family Video

Here it is!  Sue's annual family video!  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Day Three in DC

We are having a great time visiting with my family in DC. Yesterday we went to cousin Owen's school to see him perform a poem and have a Christmas party. All the kids got to make snowflakes and E-man found the reading corner.
Last night was Sundae night, a big hit!
Then a game of Santa Says...
Abegail and Annie wake up happy
A game of make a snowman blindfolded, even Grandma Marian plays.

Best Buds, Annie and Chase

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Santa Checks Up On E-man

We have arrived at my sister's house in Washington, DC. We are doing fairly well. Emmanuel got through the flight well and he even did a good job at his first movie with Grandma and Grandpa. So tonight Santa made a visit to congratulate his good behavior and of course see the other kids. Here are some highlights!

Meeting Alexandra

I was able to go see my friend Sophia and meet her new baby girl, Alexandra (born 10/30). She is beautiful, such a miracle.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

E-man Has A Talk With Santa

Scott says I'm crazy. I don't deny it, I just refuse to stay home because of what Emmanuel might do. For one, I'm not going to keep Annie from those fun memories and I just never think its going to get that bad. That's until I'm in line for Santa in the furniture department of Macy's (because the line is so long) holding 800 coats and E-man's sweat suit, saying Emmanuel every three seconds, don't touch, stay with us. EMMANUEL! E-Man! The man behind us comments, "wow he never gets tired of hearing his name." I generally come home from things like this and vow never to leave the house again (some time I will write about grocery store Emmanuel) but then I recharge and go again. Although I will admit, I do not take the kids swimming quite as often as I used to.
Last night I decided if we didn't go see Santa, we wouldn't have time to go before Christmas. Also, I had covered Macy's Christmas display, "A day in the life of the Elves" and knew the kids would think it was neat. Macy's puts on a different elaborate display every Christmas. So off we went, it won't be crowded on a Saturday night right? After an hour in line, we got to the display. I was trying to think positive, "this is good for the kids to wait in line, teaching them to be patient and wait their turn." The kids did love the display. Then we waited in a MUCH SHORTER line to see Santa at the end of the display. Luckily there were two black moms and their kids ahead of us. Black people are always more tolerant of Emmanuel than other strangers, I have no idea why this is. I have noticed this time and time again. They get a kick out of his energy and like to tease him. So I had a nice talk with the mom's ahead of me that started, "who did your daughter's hair?" To which I replied, "you know a white person didn't do that." Abegail just had her hair done for Christmas, by a high school girl we met through a friend, so its looking unusually good.
We finally got to Santa and Emmanuel says, "Santa! I want another Cadillac!" Santa says, "have you been good?" Emmanuel stops dead in his tracks, not wanting to lie to the great and wonderful Santa. "Where are your reindeer?" Santa says, "they are at the North Pole. Have you been good????" Emmanuel speaks slowly and more softly than normal, "uh...a little bit?"
"Ho ho ho, OK, Merry Christmas and be good now!" says Santa who gets a hug from Emmanuel, really that will convince Santa to load up his sleigh with a Cadillac won't it?

Happy Birthday Martu!
Martu turned 10 on Friday and we were happy to see her on her big day.

Emmanuel enjoyed another soccer medal from his indoor soccer season at the Y. He'll try basketball in January.

The girls continue with tap and ballet lessons. They are getting ready for a big show, January 31st.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

E-Man's Christmas Program

Emmanuel was a shepherd in his Christmas program at Mt Hope Lutheran School where he attends daycare. He was a very spirited shepherd and we had fun watching him Thursday night. The kids are fascinated with how many times E-man's name is referred to this time of year. I told him, do you know it means 'God is with us?' (oh yea, God is definitely with us!)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving in OKC

The kids and I road-tripped to Oklahoma City while Mommy got to stay in Minneapolis and enjoy a Thanksgiving "break." She had to work 3 of the 4 days we're away...but I'm guessing she didn't mind TOO much!!

We left Tuesday night at 8pm and arrived Wednesday morning at 7:30. The kids slept 10 of the 11.5 hours...and I must say overnight is the only way to go!

Auntie Amber was here with Maddie and Baby Eli - who we got to meet for the first time. Ben joined us Wednesday night and we had an awesome Thanksgiving dinner Thursday afternoon. They left Friday night...and then Akins ("Junior") came Saturday morning and we had a really fun time w/ Val, Lorea and Joyce at the park by Lake Hefner.

We leave tonight at 7pm and hope to be home Sunday morning at 7am...just in time for me to go to bed and get up in time for the Vikings game Sunday night.

Enjoy the photos!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Season of Thankfulness

I was tired of the kids passing by Thanksgiving and focusing on what THEY want for Christmas. So in a first of its kind experiment for me I decided to teach them that Christmas was about giving, not receiving. I told them they each had to take money from their piggy bank and we would go to the toy store and they had to pick out something for each of their siblings. If they wanted something that was more than they could afford, they could team up with the extra sibling to get something for the third. In the meantime we could look for gifts for their cousins. Such a nice plan it was. In reality it fit into the category of what was I thinking? Emmanuel immediately took off with his own shopping cart, one he could barely see over, so he ran into everything not cemented to the ground and promptly found the car and truck aisle. He filled his shopping cart to the brim with every car and truck imaginable, the louder the better. Annie and Abegail hit the doll aisle and proceeded to tell each other what the other should buy for them. Perhaps you didn't get the point of what we were doing? We did manage to get our list checked off with only a few insults thrown my way and a healthy temper tantrum from a nameless little boy. Oh yea, these are definitely before pictures.
Social Security At Capacity
I had to go to the Social Security Office today. When I walked in I was immediately reminded of the passport office in Liberia. There was not a chair to be found. I heard a guy behind me say he had been waiting there for an hour and a half. In a rare occasion, I was one of the best dressed in the place. These were not people looking for retirement benefits, these were Moms and Dads and kids. Except they didn't have the African luxury of wearing flip flops and T-shirts. They had hats and winter coats. I remarked to the man I met with, Mr. Yosef, how busy they were. "Yes," he said, "everyone needs benefits, so many people are without jobs." Everyone should have the opportunity to sit at the office of Social Security for a while, to hear the crying babies, and smell the aroma of desperation, its a perspective much more tangible than watching the Dow drop.We are Thankful for Miss Laura
This is a picture of Emmanuel's teacher at his special school. She has been coming to our home to work with us since the summer. Ten minutes before this photo was taken you would never have thought Emmanuel would have ended her visit with a smile. E-man got mad today. Really mad, what they call BIG mad at Washburn. Big MAD at Mommy, throwing things and kicking. Miss Laura has seen more of E-man's Big MAD than anyone except Mommy and she is a rock, patient and gentle, but firm and supportive. We are hoping Emmanuel will not get BIG MAD when he is BIGGER and we will have Miss Laura to thank.

To a middle aged average woman in a parking lot
E: Can I see your spare tire??
Woman: I'm sorry???!!!
Mommy: No, he's absolutely fascinated by cars and wants to know if you carry an extra tire in your trunk.
Woman: Laughing, oh of course, I just never had anyone ask me that before.

Scott is off to Oklahoma with the kids tomorrow for Thanksgiving. Mommy has to work and is staying behind...stay tuned, good stories to come I'm sure.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Abegail's Thanksgiving Show

The 1st and 2nd graders at Abegail's school put on a musical show the other night and Abegail got to read a bunch of lines all by herself. She did awesome and we're really proud of her!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Abegail's Second Sacrament

photo taken by Scott's cell phone
Our camera broke. (somebody knocked it into the wall) BUT we got it fixed and now its back. In the meantime we were FORCED to take video of the kids. Abegail had a Thanksgiving program at school on Thursday and we hope to post it soon, as soon as Scott figures out how to edit it. I have no patience for figuring stuff like that out. Abegail did make her first Reconciliation on Tuesday night. That is where you go to your first confession. In the catholic church, it usually happens before you get ready for your first communion which Abegail will have in May. They encourage the parents to go to confession too. I went at the same time as Abegail (Father Steve brought in a lot of priest friends so it wouldn't take so long) and when I came back Abegail says, "Mommy, you took a long time." I said, "I have A LOT of sins." Which of course Emmanuel had already told Daddy in the form of, "Mommy must have been very naughty!"
Quotes from funny Kids:
To get ready for the first confession, there were two training sessions for parents and a retreat for the entire family. They began the retreat with songs and one little girl comes up next to me and says, "I'm going to stand by you, but I don't want to be adopted!" I said, "yes, I do have that look about me don't I?" (if only it was that easy!)
Quotes from Abegail:
This comes from the category of what are they teaching these kids in school...
A: Mommy, do we have a lake home?
M: Laughing hysterically, trying to get out, go ask your father.
A: Daddy, do we have a lake home?
D: No, Mommy won't let us get one.
M: We do have one, you just might know it better as Grandma Marian's house.
Background: The thing to have in Minnesota is a cabin "up north" on a lake. Apparently both Abegail and Emmanuel have already picked up on this because the rest of the night, everything Abegail did I said, if you don't cooperate I won't get you a lake home. At one point Emmanuel was in earshot and blurt out "We're getting a LAKE HOME???!!!"
M: Probably not this year.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Election According to the Kids

The African adoption blogs were fairly busy when Barack Obama won the presidency. I let Abegail stay up and watch a little. I knew this was something she would think back on and remember where she was. This is not political. It's about a new identity figure for our black kids. Too often they are seeing black people on the news as defendants in murder and rape trials, residents of homeless shelters, and pulled over on the side of the road in handcuffs. Now there is someone new they can look up to. Someone who's hard work paid off. I am constantly aware that I am the future mother of a black man. The world will not be the same for him as it is for his white father. But just maybe he will see a black man as president as much as he sees those mug shots.

Here's some of the reaction written:

Politics and issues aside. Our new President elect has already made an impact on my six year old African American son who picked up our newspaper today and said "He looks just like me"

That makes it so special.

My 9 and 8 year old (Ethiopian-born) daughters have been intrigued with the whole campaign because "this Obama guy looks just like us." My 8 year old thinks it is not fair she cannot become President because she wasn't born in the US... (She wrote about that in an essay at school.)

Pretty good if kids in elementary are getting excited about all this.

Oh great, I was holding my breath on this one but now I get to say Woo Hoo!! Us too!!! Solomon, age 6, knows very well that Barack Obama looks like him, has roots in East Africa, and was raised by a white mom. I got to shake Barack Obama's hand in November 2007 when he came to my place of work to give a speech. I told him I had read his autobiography (which is GREAT, by the way), and that it gave me hope I wasn't screwing up my adopted Ethiopian son completely. He laughed (what a 1,000 kilowatt smile that guy has, and it was all for me!!) and said "I'm sure you're not." What a story I have to tell my boy! We are walking on air.

I say yes. You can rejoice. I know I am. I had tears in my eyes when Anderson Cooper declared Obama the president elect. Whether you were a supporter of McCain or Obama, you have to admit it's nice to see that final racial barrier fall. Some of the shackles of our disgusting past have fallen off and the freedom feels wonderful.

Obama's election has certainly ignited the dreams and hopes of many who haven't felt valued in our political process...the youth and persons of color (which describes our kids! :-). Funny story....Alazar (11) got up to go to the bathroom late at night and we told him Obama would be the next president. When he stumbled out of his room the next morning, he had his Obama pin on his pajamas!

Quotes from the kids:

Annie: Mommy, which one is John McCain?
M: He's the one who looks like a Grandpa.
Annie: Oh, the one with white hair? But Rocko Bama is going to be president?
M: Yes
Abegail: He's the one who has skin like mine.
Annie: And then John McCain?
M: No, then Joe Biden.

Annie: What's Joe Pommer going to do? (a hint that we watch too much news)
M: He's going to fix leaky pipes. You know travel around with Dora the Explorer and Thomas the Tank Engine and if they see a faucet on, they'll turn it off. Then he'll hang out with Bob the Builder and put bathrooms in the new homes he builds.

Emmanuel: Mommy, Barack Obama is president?
M: Yes.
Emmanuel: Mommy, Barack Obama is president???!!
M: Yes.
(this goes on several more times, each time the volume increases)
Annie: (chanting and marching) ROCKO Bama..Rocko BAMA...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What a country!

So Annie and I blocked off 2 hours this morning when we could go vote. And of course we spent 5 minutes in line...and 5 minutes in the booth! WAHOO!! Annie didn't really vote (no voter fraud accusations please)...but she did want to help me fill in all those circles!! I won't confirm whether or not I let her.

Then it was off to Starbucks for me! Free coffee...what a country!!

I gotta say...I'm feelin' pretty BLUE today!!!