Posts Tagged ‘Colombian princess’

Still a California Girl

November 15, 2016

Last time I visited my sister on Maui, the kids would do their schooling in the morning then I would excitedly announce right after lunch, “Let’s go to the beach!” because we were in Maui. DUH! Why would you sit in the house, even if you live here? Several faces turned and looked at me as if I had horns coming out of my head then uttered ridiculous comments such as, “Now?” and “Why?” and “It’s too late” and my personal favorite: the glance to the clock and then the look of confusion on their faces.

It was 1:00 in the afternoon. Warm weather. White sand. Waves rolling just two blocks away. I did not understand the problem. At all. We had an afternoon stretching out in front of us with NOTHING to do. WHY AREN’T WE GOING TO THE BEACH!?!?

“Well, it’s kind of late in the day.” Um, no. It’s 1:00.

“It gets windy in the afternoon.” Um, yes. And doesn’t that feel good breaking up the warm air?

“We usually go early in the morning.” Um, that hasn’t happened since I arrived a week ago. So let’s go now!

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Fast forward to today. Nora, the Hawaiian Colombian princess, and I sat on Wailea Beach with the afternoon sand blasting our faces. It was a tad windy. Okay, more like gusting to 57 knots, whatever that means. Prayers were being sent heavenward that our orange beach umbrella wouldn’t do a Mary Poppins and fly away. After all the spaces between my teeth were filled with sand, we made the decision to pack up after only 45 minutes on the beautiful white sand beach.

As we drove away, I started thinking about my senior year of high school when I spent every Wednesday on the beach in Santa Cruz, California with my friend Kendle. We would drive over 17 after my only class and be on the beach by 10:30 a.m. The Maui mentality probably would have worked back then because we would lie under our beach towels until the fog burned off. It was freezing, but we could say we went to the beach every week… all year long.

Maybe this is why I find afternoons perfect for beach time? Maybe it’s because every time we get to the Maui beaches in the afternoon there are other people there? I am not the only one who thinks afternoons are perfect for lazy beach sitting.

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Today’s beach adventure was saved when we drove past Wailea to Mekena State Park, home to Big Beach. Although there were clouds, the wind was mild. The waves were relatively calm and the beach was, well, BIG. We spent the afternoon staring at the water and the sand and the insides of our eyelids.

My new mantra is ANY TIME IS BEACH TIME! Come on, people, this ain’t the main land.

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Family Vacation Extravaganza!

November 5, 2016

My baby sister called me a year ago to tell me some thrilling news but her voice didn’t hold the excitement I felt it should have. A couple from their church invited my sister and her pastor husband (whose rapper name is Big Sexy but that’s not part of this story) on a two week cruise in the Mediterranean with 3-day stops in Venice and Paris. A DREAM vacation! I am pretty sure I was WAY more excited than she was about the cruise! I have taught Renaissance history… there are about 27 million places, buildings and works of art that I would kill to see. Well, maybe not kill, but close. Maim. Yeah. Maim.

My baby sister lamented, “I don’t think we should go because then we couldn’t come home to Arizona for Christmas next year.” I laughed loudly in her ear. A three week trip to Europe or Christmas with the cousins??? Seemed like a no-brainer to me. I felt like asking, “Are you dumb?” but I’m the nice sister, so I refrained. Then I remembered that we were going to Canada for Christmas and wouldn’t even be in Arizona. That encouraged her just a tad to consider the magnificent adventure at her finger tips.

The fervor had not returned in her voice. Still sounding forlorn she asked, “What would we do with the kids for three weeks?” HELLO!? You live in Maui. I WILL COME! Hence yesterday’s blog about Hana, the beach chair, returning joy and cat barf. So they went.

Knowing that we would be staying in my sister’s home, which is the parsonage twelve steps away from the church they pastor, (which consequently used to be the offices for a sugar cane plantation 50 or so years ago) I began to have visions of our own Crosby Family Vacation Extravaganza!  Whooo HOooooo! With some cousins thrown in! Party like it’s 1999.

Mr. Wallet and I discussed the opportunity and we enthusiastically presented it to the kids one night at dinner. Here is how it went down:

Me: (Can’t stop smiling!) Your Auntie and Uncle are going on a trip next November and have asked us to go over and take care of your cousins for two weeks. So we are all going to go and have a blast in Maui together!

(No one cheered.) (Maybe they didn’t hear me?)

Our 17 year old son: I don’t want to go. It is my last state band competition for high school.

(Again, I am weighing the alternatives: band or Maui?) (No brainer.)

Me: We could go the last two weeks so you could do the state competition and then go.

Our 17 year old son: I don’t want to go then either. That would mean I would have to have my 18th birthday in Maui.

(And the problem is?????) (I am pretty sure my mouth was hanging open.) (Well, that just saved us $600!)

Our 19 year old son: Yeah, I don’t want to go either. It would be hard for me to get my jobs covered and I’m driving bus for the homeless on Sundays.

(Since when did ministry come before self indulgence?) (KIDDING!) (Another $600 saved!)

The 12 year old Colombian princess: Do I get to go? 

(Didn’t I say FAMILY vacation?)

YES!!!! Her eyes lit up and a smile spread across her face. That’s my girl.

THEN a few months into the planning, Mr. Wallet counted his vacation days and decided he was going to save another $600 and stay home. What the heck? How can all these men be related to me? I live for vacations! My sons had free food, lodging and flights to Maui but turned them down. I just don’t get it. I am pretty sure when they are 40 they will regret the foolish decisions of their youth.

You guessed it… GIRLS TRIP! Nora and I are having a blast! She hasn’t flown on a BIG plane since she came to America six years ago, so of course she had to tell me all about them…. trays that come down out of the seat for your table… tiny bathrooms… free nuts! So many things to look forward to!

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Oh, you know I’m posting pictures of facebook, snapchat and instagram and tagging my sons. BEST GIRLS TRIP EVER!

If You Give a Homeschooler a Computer…….

August 7, 2015

We are doing school a bit differently this year, and we got Nora, our 12-year-old Colombian princess, her own computer for her work. She was SOOOOO excited! Like she’s a big kid now, or something. The other kids never got their own computers! FINALLY! Something that she was FIRST for! Because in her world “that last shall be worst!”

Okay, so a new computer means that she needs a desk to work on, because this mama ain’t sharing. I am the sharing type, but not work space at a computer desk. I do have my limits. Up in the loft, that is only used for book storage and sewing, there sits a perfectly good desk that was holding junk that never found its true home. I decided THAT could be Nora’s desk. But then, I need a desk in the loft too, to work along side her [so I don’t lose my ever-lovin’-mind while she takes F.O.R.E.V.E.R. to sound out moss-quit-toe (mosquito) and mett-hodd (method) repeatedly incorrectly while my eyeballs cramp from trying not to roll into my brain.] I love that kid!

My son has a desk in his room that matches Nora’s new desk. They should be twinsie desks in the loft, I decide. One quick trip on Swip-Swap (a facebook garage sale group) and I find a new IKEA desk for my son for $10. Perfect. An hour later there is a blonde desk sitting in my dining room. BAM. (Too many things have to move before it can go up the stairs.)

Then I realize I must put away all the fairy garden paraphernalia from Nora’s birthday party that is on her new desk, but the craft closet door is dragging across items hanging out of their designated boxes. I must organize the craft closet FIRST.

Then I notice the horizontal blinds have somehow been missed on the spring cleaning list …. possibly for the past six years. That is sadly not an exaggeration. Sorry, Mom. Don’t judge me. My kids are fed and one chicken is still alive. And the windows in the loft…. have they ever been washed on the outside? We’ve lived here for 10 years. So the windows and blinds are all sparkly and shining and clean now. DOUBLE BAM!

But as I washed the blinds (and had to rinse the rag after only four slats each time….ewwwww) I noticed the walls are sorely in need of paint. They WERE white……. ten years ago. So I need to paint the walls before we set up the desk for the computer.

There was a day-bed in the loft…. it got posted on Swip-Swap and left my house within 24 hours. CASH in my hand for wall paint! But with the day-bed missing, we need something cozy to sit on. Back on Swip-Swap I find a red loveseat and within 24 hours it is sitting in my living room next to the blonde IKEA desk…. with cash to spare STILL! (Does anyone else hear angels singing or is it just me?)

Then I notice the drab, tired-looking tan/pinkish color of my curriculum bookshelf and remember the can of darling light turquoise mis-matched $9 can of paint in the garage. A homeschool-room-vision-of-lovliness is materializing in my head. An oasis of higher learning. (“Higher” = upstairs.)

After 27 hours on Pinterest, (just KIDDING!)(kinda) I found homeschool rooms to die for. Seriously… death by darlingness. So adorable… makes me WANT to teach my kids for HOURS if I could just sit in THOSE rooms. The vision is ALIVE!

Turns out my red loveseat is really a brick-rust color. Shoot. Red and turquoise are so cute together. But after a redeeming trip to JoAnn’s Fabrics (my mother ship) all is well and curtains and pillows will now tie together the rust mini-sofa and the soon-to-be-painted light sea-mist turquoise shelf in the loft that will be painted off-white tomorrow.

turq n rust fabric

Tomorrow is homeschool day #5. We are SOOOOO close to setting up the computer!

Taking a Little Test

March 24, 2015

Nora at the beach

(The beach has nothing to do with the test.)

Today was the long awaited day when I took the Colombian princess to a reading specialist for testing to determine if this homeschool mama had just “lost her touch” or if there is something else going on in that cute little dark-haired, dimpled head. As requested upon arrival, I sat at the table with the teacher and my daughter the whole four-hours-when-I-planned-on-getting-stuff-done time. When she initially stated “stay during the testing” I translated that to “be in the house” not “pay attention for four hours.”  My mistake.

So this is what I learned from the testing: I have OCD WAY worse than I originally anticipated. There were crumbs on the table…. WITH the animal flash cards and the blue and white bottle caps used for Morse code. I believe I was the only one who noticed them. Miniature crumbs…. a red hole punch, bread crumbs, half a staple and (gag-reflex warning) a fingernail. EWWWW. Just EWWW!  But my self control is also WAY more advanced than it used to be. Those items are STILL on that table… and I’m not there to worry about them any more.

The plaid and sunflower placemat would have needed to be removed for me to put ten animal flash cards in line. WAY too much going on for this sister. I’m not sure what that means…. it could also be OCD, but visual clutter makes me crazy. Hmmmmmm. This could explain a few mountains I have to climb every time I want to work at my desk.

My auditory memory is quite good for letters and words, but not for numbers. This was a test for an 11-year-old and I knew I couldn’t pass it. A sheet with numbers 1-100 (in order) was placed on the table and she was given three sets of instructions before she could follow the directions. “Draw a line from 27 to 34. Draw a line from 78-79. Draw a line from 17-20.” Bam. That was it. By the time drawing commenced, I could barely remember the last combination of numbers, let alone the first two sets. And math was my favorite. I love numbers. I simply don’t remember them. This may explain why I can’t tell Mr. Wallet how much groceries were upon returning from the store. I don’t know!  Look at the receipt, Mr. Math-a-Holic!

Walking backwards on a balance beam is hard, especially toe to heel.

The good news is, after discussing my case of dyslexia for the first time in history with a professional, mine is a very minor impediment. A one on a scale of 1-5. Which I knew, but it was my very first diagnosis and I’ll be the last number of the 40’s in a few weeks. That’s a long time to go through life knowing something is different and never having discussed it. All my skeletons are now out of the closet.

So the testing was all worth it. We got a two-fer!  2 for 1 and the specialist didn’t even know it.

P.S. Nora did great!

Laundry Line Up

February 20, 2014

In the Crosby household, the minute your little hands could reach the knobs on the washing machine and dryer you were taught to do your own laundry. In my humble mama opinion, this has been glorious, to say the rock-bottom least. We have, however, hit a few glitches over the years.

1. Children who leave their laundry in the washer, in the dryer, piled on the washer and dryer, piled on the floor in the laundry room, etc. for DAYS.

2. Children who can only remember to empty the lint screen if they were paid $127 each time. (And no, $125 is not enough!)

3. Hanger stealing children.  BYOH!

4. Children born in Colombia who had a birth mama who was 4’11”. (She may not be able to reach the knobs until she is 21!) Thus, the laundry stool was welcomed into our home. (So …. the cow…. does this mean there is life milking cows after the laundry is done???)

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This week I have had the pleasure of watching all three of my children who are still living here do their own laundry. Son #2 dragged all his bedding downstairs to the laundry room a few days ago including his comforter.  It did my heart good.  Hubby and I were on the couch (watching Downton Abbey, but that is entirely another story!) when the dryer buzzer announced that son #2’s sheets were dry. A gangly 15 year old came flying down the stairs, ran to the laundry room, grabbed said dry sheets and dashed back up to his room. (Not emptying the lint screen. GAH!) A quizzical look came upon my husband’s handsome face. Being the bearer of all knowledge about my kids’ weird ways, I informed Daddy-o about the joys of climbing into a bed with warm sheets…. even in Phoenix, Arizona it is a pleasure.

Yesterday, the little Colombian princess was sorting her laundry on the couch in the family room, then moved it all to the laundry room and washed, dried and put away all her clothes. (Insert happy mama sigh.) Later that day, she was dusting the family room and happened upon a little pair of black panties with a hot pink waistband in the large blue decorative bowl that sits on the coffee table in front of the laundry-sorting-couch.  She was horrified that she left them where all the world could see… and she couldn’t stop giggling. Made me giggle too.

Today, I brought down my basket of dirty clothes but got distracted being a mom before I could get them sorted.  Son #1 whisked through the kitchen in the middle of my distractedness and loaded up the washing machine before me and my loads that were downstairs FIRST! However, I don’t care AT ALL!  He is 17 and washing his own stinky clothes without being asked or prodded.  It is a mommy victory moment and I will happily wait in line behind my kids for the washer ANY day!

Playhouses Will Be in Heaven!

November 11, 2013

From my earliest memories, I have LOVED playhouses.  My talented and skillful father built one for us when I was four years old. It was a big triangle and transformed our woodsy Oregon backyard into a deserted island, the open sea and the jungles of deep Africa.  When our kids were 4, 1 and nearly born, we moved into a home with a deluxe tree house/fort that was so perfect for our growing family!  We lived in that house until the kids were 10, 7 and 5.  All they knew of backyard bliss involved that playhouse.  They decorated it every Christmas with a mini tree, sparkling mini lights and mini stockings for all family members and the dog.  Secret meetings were held there… and sleepovers.  Lots of sleepovers!

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So, with our little princess joining the family, I have been envisioning a playhouse for her for SEVEN YEARS!  This is what I have longed to build:

playhouse pink

And more accurately….. this:

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And this would be ideal, but could be ostentatious in our backyard:

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With my husband leaving the country for ten whole days, the kids and I, …. O.K., it was just ME…. decided to build a playhouse for Nora, the Colombian princess, before she was too old to play in one.  Budget: $50 max. And that is only if I put off grocery shopping for a week or two.  How many times can teenagers eat spaghetti in a week?  We’ll see.

This is what I had to work with:

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It is a tool shed my son built when he was nine.  It is solid!

Wish me luck and say a few prayers for creativity and imagination and more creativity and free stuff and great ideas and more free stuff like carpet and a bean bag chair.  A few windows, some flowers, a slap of paint and this place will rock her little heart for a few more years!  Be strong in the Lord and never give up hope.

Daddy’s Being Sly

February 24, 2013

Yesterday we went shopping at Goodwill because it was 50% off day! Whooo Hoooo!  I mean, really.  If you’re going to buy other people’s junk, you might as well go on the day when it is half off.  No, we didn’t pre-shop the sale on Friday night.  We didn’t even line up at 8:30 a.m.  We have relaxed a bit.  We waited until the LONG lines of the morning rush had slightly diminished before we hit the store for the goods.

As I was perusing the women’s clothing for Lands End, Anne Taylor and Coldwater Creek labels, Rick and Nora, the nine-year-old Colombian princess, were in the toy aisle.  Nora spotted a paper doll set that had a gazillion outfits for the three dollies and a Nancy Drew video game, both to die for.  EAch was marked $2, so they would be only one dollar!  Knowing that Daddy would probably make her pay for them with her own hard-earned money, she decided to work him.  “Daddy, if I pay for one will you pay for the other?”  And I’m sure she batted her long eyelashes and flashed her dimples at the weak man.  Of course he agreed, so she dug four quarters out of her wallet and handed them over to him, quite pleased with her negotiating skills.

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We reconnoitered at the check-out and made it painlessly through the line.  On the way to the car, Nora confronted her father, “Dad, I gave you the money for my doll set but you did not use the quarters to pay for it.  My quarters are still in your pocket.”  This is called hyper-vigilant, which means that she is VERY aware of ALL that is going on around her at ALL times.  From what I’ve read, it is common with adoptive children.  Patiently Rick explained that he had her quarters but he paid with bills from his wallet.  She responded, “I know…… can I please have my money back?”  Oh did we howl.  We tried to explain it over and over but there was no comprendo on her part AT ALL.  She still thinks daddy pulled one over on her!

Good times at Goodwill!

My Heart is STILL in Colombia!

November 24, 2012

It’s true.  We have been home from Cali, Colombia for 23 months with our little Colombian princess.  The adoption journey has had bumps and twists that we didn’t expect, but it has been so wonderful and rewarding.

Tomorrow is GOTCHA DAY number two!

TWO YEARS!!!  Hard to believe it has gone by so fast.  Sometimes our month in Colombia seems like forever ago… and sometimes it seems like last week.  I miss the lush greenness of Cali, the vast array of mystery fruits that were scrumptiously yummy, the glimpses of the Andes when the fog lifted, the bamboo forest we drove by to our villa, the coconut ice cream bars, the afternoon rain showers, the neighborhood boys who would come and ask,  “Is Austin Rick’s son?”, the sweet smell of the flowers, arepas filled white cheese, the stickiness of the night air and the pee-po pee-po LOUD evening serenade of the coqui frogs.

People often ask “Why Colombia?”  Quite a few factors lead us to the beautiful and tropical South American country.

1.) My husband, Rick, went to Valledupar, Colombia for a summer to build a church when he was 17-years-old.  He grew to love the warm-hearted people and the countryside teeming with unknown vegetation, never imagining that he would return to meet his daughter twenty-something years later.

2.) We have three bio kids who do not look like Rick AT ALL.  Ok, one does a little, but I was expecting little chubby, black-haired Indian babies when I married a Cree Indian.  Didn’t happen.  The Irish and Finnish genes dominated and we got two blonde-haired, blue-eyed kids and another slightly darker. So, when we had chosen an adoption agency, I looked through the pages for the countries they worked in….   I held up the two pages and announced to Rick, “El Salvador and Colombia are where the kids look like you.”  “Colombia,” he replied.  And it was a done deal.

3.) Not that I was anywhere near proficient, but I thoroughly enjoyed taking Spanish… back in the day.  Larisa also had Spanish courses and was mastering her second language quite nicely.  So a country in South America seemed familiar… somehow.  (Not distant in my mind, like, say, Kazakhstan… or China.) I related to Ellie from the movie UP…. her dream was to visit South America.  She tore pictures right out of a library book of the fascinating country.

I am as American as you could get.  I LOVE my country… the anthem brings me to tears.  Studying and teaching the history of our great land is a deep passion of mine.  But I have to say that my heart beats in thirds… a third for the USA, a third for Canada, where I spent my college years and the first 10 years of marriage, and now a third for Colombia where I fell in love with my daughter’s people and homeland.  My heart is still in Colombia. <3

After ALL These Years….

September 19, 2012

After all these years, I have finally figured something out.  Please don’t hold your breath too long waiting in anticipation for this monumental, earth-shattering news.  The back-story first.

With two bathrooms upstairs and a newly acquired princess from Colombia in December 2010, I decided that she could brush her teeth and bathe in the master bathroom, so as to leave more room for her three siblings.  How nice of me.  I’m the nice mom, remember?  I figured it wouldn’t be that much of a hassle due to her usually preening at different hours than her father and me.  Fast-forward four months to me being completely grossed out by the blobby toothpaste all over the cap and drawer where the Crest is kept.

The gross-out feeling is mutual between my new daughter and me.  She is grossed out that hair is stuck in my hairbrush.  I am grossed out by dried, globby toothpaste on the cap and in the drawer.  Deciding not to mention the blue blobs, I got myself a brand spankin’ new tube of Crest ONLY for personal use, and cleared a spot in my medicine cabinet for MY toothpaste where it would remain clean and blob-free.

NOTHING gets past her big brown eyes!  NOTHING!  She asked me THE NEXT DAY, “Why do you have toothpaste up there on the shelf now?”

In a sweet voice (because I’m the nice mom) I replied, “It’s because someone left toothpaste on that tube in the drawer and I don’t want to touch it.”

Her response made me burst out laughing, “Maybe DAD left the toothpaste all over the cap!”  Hahahaha!

Her father and I have been sharing the same tube of toothpaste for 23 years.  If you are a germaphobe, I’m sorry that you now look down your sanitized nose at us.  We are what we are.  So, YES there were new clumps of toothpaste.  YES, the Colombian princess was the culprit…. but not the culprit willing to admit to the messiness.

So what did I figure out after all these years?  My husband is a very neat toothpaste user, for which I am thankful.   I would not be harboring these thankful thoughts if it weren’t for our Colombian Princess joining the family.  :o)  One more blessing of adoption.

 

English 101

April 27, 2012

Since the addition of the Colombian princess to our happy family, the English language has been under much scrutiny in my mind.  Our little girl, who only spoke Spanish when we met her, is now only speaking English.  I remember the adoption agency telling us that at four months she would be speaking English.  I hoped and dreamed that would be true for each of the 120 days leading up to the four-month mark. 

My eldest daughter and I had some grasp of mangled Spanish when we headed to Colombia, and with the addition of Google Translate (that speaks aloud for you!) we did communicate fairly effectively, I thought.  A year after the fact, I now believe that there was a lot of smiling and nodding going on without much comprehension.  But we survived those early days!  Whew!  What made me sad was that Nora’s daddy couldn’t talk to her at all.  My sweet husband simply spoke louder…. as if that would help the translation somehow.  My mother also was a bit uncomfortable being left with the care of a little girl and a big language barrier.  The sooner the four-month switch occurred, the better!

At three months, three weeks and three days, I was getting exasperated with the translation between our little Colombiana and the rest of the family.  It didn’t seem to me like she was understanding English.  She wasn’t using that many words in her new language.  What I didn’t realize was that her little brain was storing English words.  In little filing cabinets… that could be referred to later.  After four months.

Then four months ended.  And POOF!  She spoke English.  Spanish was gone.  English had arrived… the switch in her brain took place ON CUE at four months and she has not looked back.  I don’t think she even realized what happened.  It was as if the Spanish filing cabinets were closed and locked.  The English filing cabinets were opened and readily available for use.  Unbelievable how God made young brains to absorb language.  Unbelievable!

As she continues to experiment with the English language, I have had to think through a lot of her sentences, words and syntax…. to try to discover WHY we say things like we do.  It is confusing.  Tonight she told me, “You don’t have to fed the dogs.  I did.”  ‘Fed’ is past tense.  ‘I did’ is past tense. I can see how it seems right… sort of. 

One time I asked Nora to close the back door.  She stood still, eyes roving the room as her little brain tried to grasp…. something….  Finally she held onto her shirt and said, “I think this is clothes. How do you clothes a door?”  Made perfect sense to me.

And the -ed ending to words is so confusing.  Go…. goed.   I saw the bird…. I sawed the bird yesterday.  Eat… eated.  Run…. runned.  Sat… satted.  Drive… drived.  “Well, -ed is usually how you add past tense….. but not this time, Honey.”  Witnessing the transition has been a blessing and an awe-inspiring adventure!  Adoption stretches you in ways you never expected.  Ever.  And I love it!