Sunday, March 27, 2011

I Knew This Day Was Coming

Leaving Baby Home - Astrakhan Russia 6/25/07
We have always been open with Madeline about her adoption.  Just like with biological children, you don't receive a manual when you are handed your kid. However, although we have always been open with Madeline, we have also let her take the lead. Compare this to a conversation about the "birds and the bees" with your child.  You are not going to give a 5 year old ALL the details, you will answer questions as they arise.  We are handling this adoption conversation in the same manner.

For quite awhile, Madeline has known that she was born in Russia.  She has known that Mama and Papa prayed for a little girl and God answered our prayers.  Madeline knows that God told us that he would give us the most beautiful, perfect girl, but that she was waiting for us in Russia and that we had to fly all the way to Russia to bring her home.

With the latest developments, Madeline knows that there is a baby growing in Mama's tummy.  Madeline has been intrigued by all the things that are happening to the baby and the fact that Mama's tummy is getting bigger. She knows that the baby will continue to grow and one day this summer Mama will go to the hospital where the doctor will help to take the baby out of Mama's tummy.

Madeline has been asking a lot of questions lately such as, "Did I have hair when I was a baby?" and "Did I know how to walk when I was a baby?"  I knew that it was just a matter of time before this line of question progressed to in utero. 

This morning, as Madeline and I were getting ready to start our day, Madeline brought up the topic of her baby brother.  I honestly don't recall exactly what we were talking about but Madeline made mention about how the baby will be born in Russia.  "Uh oh...here we go", I thought.  I simply responded "No, your brother will be born in Buffalo".  "Why?"  "Because that is what God planned for this baby."  That seemed to satisfy Madeline's curiosity as the questions stopped.  I knew that the next line of questions was not far away.  Little did I know that "not far away" meant 10 minutes later. 

TGIFriday's - Moscow Russia 7/2007
Madeline began asking more questions about the baby such as, "How big is he now?" "How big will the baby be when he is born?", "Will he have hair?"............hesitation........"Mama, was I a baby in your tummy"?    There it is....the *real* beginning to the adoption conversation.  I have been dreading this and even though my heart stopped, I knew I had to proceed with the conversation without hesitation.  I knew that any hesitation in my response could potentially come off as not not being open to this conversation and that is sooo not the case.  (DAMN....why can't David be here for this??)  I knew that *any* insecurities that will arise in the future - be it middle-school or high school - about her being adopted, stem from this moment in time when the pieces of this puzzle start to come together in her mind.  (Okay, maybe I am being a little over dramatic with that but in many ways, these conversations will be just as or more important than the eventual "birds and bees" conversation.....and think how carefully parents choose their words for that!)  So, I took a little breath and continued. 
"No, Madeline, you didn't grow in Mama's tummy.  You grew in another lady's tummy".
"Why?"
"Because for whatever reason, Mama wasn't able to grow a baby in her tummy at that time"
"Why?"
"I don't know, honey.  But God had another lady grow you in her tummy for us. After you were born Mama and Papa got to go to Russia to pick you up."
processing......processing....processing.....processing.....
"Ya know what, Madeline.  It doesn't matter where a baby grows because *families* are born in the heart and they grow with love".

Madeline seemed satisfied, she went off to get some toys and brought them back to show me the neat things that they could do.  She seemed happy and Mama breathed a sigh of relief.

Madeline and I continued our day.  Obviously, this was still rolling through Madeline's mind.  Later when we were in church, Madeline spontaneously hugged me, looked up at me with a huge smile.  I looked down at Madeline, hugged her and smiled back at her.  Then Madeline whispered to me as she hugged me, "I like the Mama God gave me".  Talk about a heart-melting moment.  Madeline....you have no idea how lucky Mama and Papa are and how much we love you!!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Loooonnnngg Days

 Good Morning!
The days are sooooo long when David travels.  Weekdays aren't quite as bad as Madeline and I are used to not having David home during the day anyway.  Also, weekdays include activities such as school, ice skating, swim, library story time, playgroups, etc.  By the time evening comes around I am ready to veg on the couch.  However, THE WORST are the weekends that David is gone.  We normally fill our weekends with family time which is a nice switch for Madeline since come Friday night, Madeline is fairly bored with me and she is usually enjoying the idea of extra Papa time.  Although David is not usually away over the course of a weekend, his travel itinerary worked out in such a way that he is not returning home until Sunday night.  And so, weekends when David is away is spent trying to fill the minutes (and keep everything & everyone in one piece) until David gets home.

Satisfied "Customer"
Friday night was a great start to this long weekend.  It was our monthly MOMS not out for the MOMS Club that I belong too.  On tap for this month was a game night at another MOMS' house.  Under normal circumstances, these "MOMS nights out" (MNO) are off limits.  The husbands know that that they have kid duty so that we women can enjoy an activity that we plan for that particular month.  Without David or a sitter, I was going to have to decline game night.  Yet, Mary (the hostess) offered to have Madeline play with her daughter (who happens to be in Madeline's Pre-K class) while her husband kept an eye on the kids.  I was thrilled to get that night out with the girls and Madeline was thrilled to play with Michellyn.  Although, Madeline was technically part of the MNO, the playroom was in a separate part of Mary's house that it was easy to forget that kids were even around......so much so that I completely lost track of time.  I thought I was doing good by leaving early to get Madeline to bed but I was amazed that it was 10pm when I was getting into the car to go home.  What a refreshing evening!  In addition to the game night, Mary also gave me TWO tubs of maternity clothing.  Her son, was born last August.  I am soooo looking forward to sorting through all of this and trying everything on.  Thanks Mary!

Do you think Madeline is counting the days 'til she is 16?
Saturday morning, I asked Madeline what she wanted for breakfast.  She told me "happy face eggs".  I must've had my short-order cook hat on because I obliged.  As I cooked, Madeline drew pictures of how the eggs should look.  She requested everything from a dog's face to a kitty's face, and even a pony's face.  I was happy when she mentioned Rapunzel because adding some shredded cheese for "hair" on the eggs satisfied Madeline's craving.....WAIT!!! I thought *I* was supposed to be the one with cravings!

Later in the afternoon, Madeline and I did a girls' lunch a Wendy's.  What the heck, I had some coupons for free fries and free Jr. Frostys so....okay, twist my arm.  After a mother-daughter lunch, Madeline and I headed over to the local mall to spend some time in the play area.  Madeline enjoyed running around like a little monkey and Mama-Dirtyfoot enjoyed sitting.  Afterward, Madeline of course had to partake in the obligatory merry-go-round ride.  MILESTONE ALERT....this was the first time I didn't have to help her onto the ride.  She did it all by herself.  :-(  She is growing so quickly!!  At least she still waved to her Mama when she  would spin past me.  It was so hard trying to capture her picture with the merry-go-round spinning so quickly.

No help from Mama :-(  Off she goes....
Another "issue" when David is gone is dinnertime.  I typically love cooking but I don't have much desire to cook when David is gone.  Hoping Madeline would come up with some brainstorm idea, I asked her what she wanted for dinner and she requested that we make pizza.  Okay....three not exactly low-fat meals in one day but, what the heck.  I figured I could ease my guilty conscience by piling extra veggie toppings on my individual pizzas.  We headed to the grocery store for a quick toppings stop and home we went.

Pic taken Dyngus Day '10 but fitting for this blog post.
On the way home, we girls were getting silly again.  In a stern voice I would called , "Madeline Olga...." and when Madeline would respond, I would softly tell her that I love her.  After a while, I would do this again and Madeline would sternly reply, "Mama Olga....".  Cute, but the only problem is that my middle name is not Olga.  I decided to take this opportunity to teach Madeline to respond "Matka Moja" (Polish - my mother).  The exchange between us continued: (sternly) "Madeline Olga..."  Madeline would laugh and I would tell her to say "Matka moja".  Madeline would laugh more and respond in a stern voice, "Matka Poopie".  So much for a Polish lesson, I thought.  However, when we arrived home and I unloaded the car, Madeline was dilly dallying around coming into the house.  Finally I warned Madeline, "I am going inside now" as I headed into the house.  Madeline quickly ran, following me up the driveway yelling at the top of her lungs, "Matka moja! Matka moja!"  Ahhhh...my parents would be so proud.

Whewww!! I made it!  Now, what to do tomorrow???

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Our Little Athlete

video
Madeline is growing in leaps and bounds!!!  There has been so much baby talk on my blog lately.  I certainly do not want that to overshadow the amazing things that Madeline has been up to.  I have to say that I absolutely LOVE the age of 5.  Madeline is growing so quickly and I love watching her mind develop.  Her questions are much more complex than the simple "whys" that previous years held.  I love seeing a real thought process develop in her.  Madeline is very interested in the phonics of letters.  As I work in the kitchen, Madeline is often nearby playing with her magnetic alphabet letters on the fridge.  This is a renewed interest in the letters as we work on sounding out and spelling various words and the names of school friends.  Madeline also spends hours drawing pictures on her easel.  I love hearing the detailed stories that she creates about her drawings.  Madeline is currently taking ice skating lessons once a week.  The video above is Madeline zipping along on her ice skates.  Madeline is the one wearing the pink pants and brown jacket.  Although she pulled the wool over her cousins' eyes while they were in Buffalo by purposely falling for extra attention, Madeline really *can* skate.  They are already working on teaching her how to skate backwards.  It is amazing that at her first lesson this season Madeline had to use one of those skating walkers but now she is zipping along and keeping up with the big kids. (When you hear me say in the video, "She is about to pass Hannah", Hannah was the next door neighbor kid at our old house and is a year older that Madeline.)
video
Madeline is also doing a great at swim class.  From our first day together, we knew Madeline loved the water.  She never had a fear of putting her face in the water as a baby.  Madeline was a little fishy during her first tubbie time and has enjoyed every opportunity to be in the water ever since.  Madeline is currently in intermediate swim lessons.  She can often freestyle swim the length of the pool (although this video isn't the best representation of her ability).  She is learning how to do the back stroke and she is also beginning to learn about diving.  Madeline's class is a half-hour session.  On the occasion that we have to miss a class, Madeline is able to do back to back sessions that last an hour total.  Madeline especially likes those days and has even begged me to stay through a third session (although that has never happened).  I am looking forward to enjoying our pool with her this summer....that is, if it ever warms up here!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lesson #1, Baby: Modesty Is A Virtue

"Porkchop" - 18 weeks 3 days (profile)
Today I had my BIG sonogram.  The first question from anyone who knew about today's appointment was, "Are you going to find out the baby's sex"?  Proudly, I would answer, "No".  Why would I respond this way, "proudly"?  Well, proud that I was confident in myself to wait until the child was born. And, proud that I was choosing to go against the trend to know the baby's sex prior to its birth.  To me, finding out the sex of your baby was the equivalent (on a grander scale, I guess) of peeking at your Christmas presents before Christmas morning.  Although David really wanted to know the sex of the baby, he was willing to let Mama-Dirtyfoot have her way and wait out the pregnancy.

Say "Cheese"! - Face view
I have attached a few snaps of today's sonogram and labeled the images.  A few things came out of the day...

1) First, and most important....all indicators point to this baby being healthy.  Today's sonogram was very detailed.  They looked at everything - brain, heart, stomach, bladder, kidney, spine, etc.  They took various measurements and everything in the "growth chart" range was smack dab in the middle of the range.  All a good sign.

Porkchop's hand to face
2) Second, we discovered that Madeline wasn't as clairvoyant as we originally assumed.  Despite not wanting to know the sex of the baby, this little one was......oh, let's just say not exactly the most modest fetus during a photo shoot.  The baby was a wiggle worm (amazing I couldn't feel much of the movement that was going on - just a matter of time).  At one point, the baby was positioned in a way that its rear end was facing the camera.  It was a perfect position to see and measure one of its femurs.  After the technologist took the measurements she clicked the computer to continue taking more images and the baby had shifted so that the baby was almost mooning us.  It was a perfect shot to get a look at both femurs, looking like two parallel lines......with "dangly parts" in between.  I am certainly not a trained eye in the world of sonograms but without a doubt I knew what I was looking at.  YEP, IT'S A BOY!  I asked the sono tech, (who had tried to quickly move away the image), "Am I looking at what I think I am looking at"?  She responded, "Are you *asking* me"?  I knew by her response and intonation  that I was right.  David all of a sudden tuned into the gist of my line of questioning and then asked the tech, "Is that part of the umbilical cord"?  The tech responded, "Yes" and then she winked at me.  I felt bad for the sonogram tech.  She was sort of in a tough spot because although I told her that I didn't want to know the sex, "Porkchop" moved to show off the family jewels.  I could've not asked for confirmation of what was *so obvious*, but what would be the point of that?  But my "confirmation question" had to make the sono tech feel like she was in a tough spot. I knew what I was seeing...but I couldn't have David not know.  So, I asked again. The "are you *asking* me?" response was the same. And so I told the sono tech that I pretty much figured it out (it really was obvious) so I gave her the go ahead to confirm what I was looking at......and with a simple nod to her head we knew that we were expecting a boy.  (A) Sooooo happy that "Porkchop" is looking healthy (B) soooo wishing he kept his legs shut so that I could've been surprised after labor.  Once the news was out in the open, the sonogram tech was free to explore the images.  "Porkchop" was more than happy to show off "his stuff".  The images (and no I didn't include any of these on the blog) screamed "boy".  There is no mistaking the fact that Madeline will have a baby brother.  After the sonogram, a doctor reviewed the images and took a few more.  Even the doctor said, "There is no mistaking that this is a lad".

Our own little Miracle - 3-D shot of face
3) Finally, we told Madeline that Mama got more pictures of the baby in her tummy while she was in school.  I said to Madeline, "You know how girls have one body part that is different from boys?"  She responded, "Uh-huh. Boys have a penis and girls have a "china".  I continued, "Well, the doctor was able to see the baby's body part to know if it was a girl or a boy".  After discussing that the doctor saw the baby's penis so we know the baby is a boy, Madeline was downright hysterical at the fact that we were talking about penises and "chinas

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Special Papa Time

Checkin' out the floats
BEADS!!!
Mama-Dirtyfoot had to work this afternoon.  You may recall that I am a Tastefully Simple consultant (click here to check out catalog and place an order) and this afternoon I worked a taste testing party.  Madeline and Papa had a couple hours this afternoon to spend some one-on-one time while Mama was "partying for a living".  Madeline and David went to church together and afterward they enjoyed a McDonald lunch date.  The topper of their afternoon together was going to Buffalo's St. Patrick's Day parade.  The ultimate party girl, Madeline was enjoying the jovial atmosphere.  The icing on the cake, however, was in the form of cotton candy.  Well....at least Papa was in charge of any sugar high that was a result of this sugar on a stick. 

Cotton candy treat!

Yum!!

Loving a special day with Papa!

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Prayerful, Clairvoyant Daughter

The news has been broken and the world knows that our family is about to grow.  I do, however, have to share how Madeline has been involved in this pregnancy journey even before David and I realized that we were.

I was certain that once Madeline was involved in pre-school and began making more friends who had siblings, Madeline would begin asking for a brother or a sister.  Amazingly, Madeline never really did this.  I have heard many stories about children relentlessly pestering their parents for a brother or a sister and I, considering David's & my fertility history, was happy that this was never the case in our home.  That is, until about November.

Out of the blue, Madeline began asking for a sibling.  Of course, considering our history, how exactly do you respond to such a request from your 5 year old?  My response would simply be, "If that is what you want, Madeline, you will have to ask God for that.  You can say a prayer.  Only God knows what is right for our family.  Just because you say a prayer, that doesn't mean that you will get what you want, however if God thinks that a baby is right for our family He will give one to us."  Keep in mind that although this was my response to Madeline's request, I whole-heartedly did *not* believe that a baby was in our future.  And so, for a few DAYS, Madeline would bring up her request for a sibling.  Each time, I would respond in the same manner.  Finally after a few days of this Madeline brought up the sibling topic again as we were sitting down for dinner.  After once again after getting the same response from me, Madeline right then and there stopped and said her prayer for a sibling as a before dinner prayer.  Speechless, David and I just gave each other a "knowing" glance.....knowing in *our* sense of the word.  We "knew" that Madeline's prayer was one that was not going to be answered.  Amazingly, after that prayer, a few days after her request for a sibling began, Madeline no longer brought up the sibling topic again.  David and I were relieved and didn't give these requests another thought until we found out that I was pregnant.  You see, we estimate that these sibling requests occurred in November.  November is the month we would've conceived.  I would say that Madeline has some connections!!!!

Now for the clairvoyant piece to this story.  In January, Madeline's school held parent teacher conferences.  We made our appointment to meet with Madeline's teacher to find out that Madeline is doing great in school and she is on the right track.  All good reports (yeah!).  While at the conference, Madeline's teacher took out a stack of papers.  The stack was a sample collection of Madeline's work that she completed since the beginning of the school year.  We paged through the pile and saw drawings, handwriting, etc.  One assignment the children were asked to draw a picture of their family.  The children drew the picture and the teachers asked who is each person in the drawing.  The teacher then labeled exactly what the child said.  At the time of the conference, Madeline didn't know I was pregnant nor did the teacher.  We reached the "family portrait" in the pile of work and there were four people in the drawing.  The picture was labeled with Madeline's words (by the teacher), "Mama, Papa, Madeline & my sister but she is not here yet".  After almost falling off of our chairs, David and I looked at each other and then glanced at the date at the top of this assignment.  This was dated for November....again, the month we would've conceived.  The true question is....will the "sister" part of this be correct??  We'll find out in August.  But, as you can imagine, David and I were and still are speechless!!  The drawing that we saw currently remains in Madeline's classroom file but I will get it back at the end of the school year.  What a neat thing to place in the baby book.....especially if Madeline gets a sister.

Madeline & Margaret at P.F. Chang's
And, as a side note....When I was enjoying a sister's weekend, visiting my sisters at Marysia's house in Baltimore, Margaret, Madeline and I spent a morning at the mall while Marysia was working.  Margaret, Madeline and I stopped for lunch at P.F. Chang's.  After lunch we were given fortune cookies from our server.  My fortune simply said, "Gift".  At this point my "monthly friend" was a little late.  Four days later, a pregnancy test confirmed a gift was on the way.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day.  Yes, I wore green!  I must share yesterday's shopping find.  Not only did I find a green sweater but (a) it is a maternity sweater, (b) it is light weight enough to wear throughout the rest of spring and on cool summer nights and most importantly (c) it was only $3.97!!  My only question is, how can I say it's the "luck of the Irish" when I am Polish???  Well, I'll go with the fact that they say everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day.

Paul's Visit

Madeline hamming it up for Aunt Penny
Can you see the "I'm wound up!" look??
My brother Paul and his family visited from Kentucky this past weekend.  We had a houseful and I enjoyed every minute of it!  Staying at my house was Paul, my sister-in-law Penny, niece Rachel, Rachel's boyfriend Garrett, niece Becky, and Becky's fiance Zac.  I love when family visits!!  This visit, however, seemed to go too quickly.  The worst part though is the fact that I didn't even take out my camera for pictures - not even my cell phone camera!!  So, I appreciate the fact that Penny, Becky and Zac posted pictures on Facebook that I could steal and share on my blog.  Below, I will try to give a quick synopsis of the weekend.

One pic that Madeline is actually upright
Down she goes!
Madeline milkin' it for cousin time with Becky & Rachel
Friday night, Paul, Penny, Becky & Zac arrived from Lexington Kentucky.  Prior to their arrival, our little party animal daughter was beside herself with excitement during all the preparations for company.  Madeline was screeching and jumping up and down as we filled air mattresses for the boys' room.  Madeline's excitement grew to a crescendo throughout the weekend as anyone who came in contact with her could attest to.  David even commented that Madeline, the party gal, is truly her mama's daughter!  I was amazed that she fell asleep before the Kentucky crew arrived.  Upon arrival, it was nice to catch up with everyone as they unwound from their drive.  We chatted and enjoyed each other's company for a few hours.

Becky & Zac getting silly at the ice rink
Duff's - *real* Buffalo wings
Saturday was a busy day for everyone.  Knowing that a feast was planned for later in the evening and many preparations needed to be made I tossed out some bagels & cream cheese, Timbits (donut holes) and fresh fruit for breakfast.  During that time, my niece Rachel (who is attending college in Pittsburgh) arrived with her new boyfriend Garrett.  Due to her work schedule, Rachel was not able to stay as long as the rest of the gang and since she was not able to head to Buffalo the last time the Kentucky group was in, I was very happy that she was able to make the trip.  Additionally, I had the opportunity to meet Rachel's boyfriend, Garrett.

Aunt Sue, Kaye & Jim
Uncle Tom & Eric
Uncle Ron aka "The Duke"
Me looking very ROUND! Not sure if the baby is in my face or tummy!
Rachel, Garrett & Zac
Paul, Jim, Luke, Rachel, David & Madeline - buffet time
Once everyone filled their tummies and wiped the gifts left by the sandman from their eyes, the young ens were antsy to go do something. And I was in need of making preparations for the evening's get together.  Paul, Becky, Zac, Rachel, Garrett, David and Madeline headed into downtown Buffalo to do some ice skating at the outdoor rink.  I was hoping Madeline would show off her skating skills that she has been acquiring during her skating lessons that we have been sending her to.  She really, really is becoming a good skater but, according to David, Madeline kept falling (on purpose).  Madeline was milking it for all the attention she could and everyone (including David), who isn't fully aware of her ability, was falling for it hook, line & sinker.  And so Madeline got to take turns holding every one's hand around the rink.  Little stinker!!  They also headed out to Duff's for some *real* Buffalo chicken wings. (They prefer Duff's to the Anchor Bar - Home of the Original Wings).  While everyone was out ice skating, Penny and I stayed behind to start getting thing ready for the evening.  During that time, I undoubtedly began to feel the baby moving around.  It is amazing how light (for now!) those little tickles feel! 

Saturday evening we enjoyed a family gathering.  In addition to the 6 joining us from my brother's family, we enjoyed the evening with more family. My Aunt Sue & Uncle Ron, Uncle Tom & Aunt Mary Grace their adult kids - my cousins, Malina, Malina's hubby Eric, Luke, Julie (their other daughter Kellie couldn't make it because of work) and also another cousin (my late Aunt JoJo's son) Jim and Jim's wife Kaye.  Even though I and they all live locally we don't get the opportunity to see each other as often as I would like.  We had a houseful of family and I loved every second!  In true Polish fashion (and the fact that I am my mother's daughter) we had enough food to feed an army!  I was extremely grateful to Uncle Tom & Aunt Sue for their major dish contributions.  It made things so easy for me!!  Uncle Tom brought barbecue hamburgers and Costanza's rolls (locals know that there are no better rolls than Costanzas!), Aunt Sue brought a huge crock of Bigos (a Polish hunter's stew), I had a platter of Redlinski's ham & Swiss, rye bread, of course Weber's mustard & horseradish, homemade baked bean salad, a relish tray, and ambrosia with Acini Di Pepe.  Additionally, I made a couple quick desserts however the star attractions for dessert were the amazing truffles that Becky made (in particular, the Oreo truffles!!) and the HUGE tray of desserts made by my Aunt Mary Grace which included brownies, chocolate chip cookies and the most amazing cheesecake (I was quite sad when the last piece of cheesecake was

The guys' view at the game
Rachel at Niagara Falls
Sunday was Paul's 49th birthday. I made what my brother, Marty, calls my "company breakfast" of scrambled eggs, sausage, "monkey bread", pineapple and strawberries.  The daylight savings time change totally messed with all of us and so we had a very lazy morning.  In the evening, we all split up to do different things.  Madeline stayed home with a babysitter. David, Paul, Zac & a high school/college friend of Paul's (Vinnie) went to the Buffalo Sabres hockey game.  Rachel and Garrett went to explore Niagara Falls. Penny, Becky and I went to do some shopping.  The first order of business in our shopping was a stop to David's Bridal shop.  Becky and Zac are engaged to be married in May of 2012.  While in Buffalo, they also asked Madeline to be their flower girl!!!  We headed to David's bridal to peek at some dresses.  Penny browsed through the mother of the bride dresses, we glanced at a few flower girl dresses and Becky was able to (for the first time!!) try on a few wedding dresses.  I was so happy to be part of that!  And Becky has the cutest little figure that she looked gorgeous in whatever she tried on (Pictures Zac....you have to wait until the wedding day!).  Becky is such a pretty girl and she will make a beautiful bride!!  My question, however, is where did that little girl go??  When did my little niece become a woman??  Geez, time passes quickly!  Afterward, all 8 of us met up after the hockey game at an Elmwood restaurant/brew pub called Blue Monk.  Together we enjoyed dinner in honor of Paul's birthday and Rachel picked up a birthday cake while she and Garrett were out and brought it into the restaurant to share after dinner.  Right after the late dinner, Rachel and Garrett had to head back to Pittsburgh because Rachel had to work the next morning.  Leaving at 11pm-ish for a 4 hour drive???  And then get to work at 8am?? Ahhhhh.....to be young again!

Hat shopping with Madeline
Becky & Zac's flower girl at crescendo level!
Monday morning also had a slow start to the day.  Madeline had school in the AM and I had a few things to attend to while she was at school so the gang was left to fend for themselves for the morning. (I wasn't them worried about anyone starving as there were plenty of goodies to graze on for breakfast).  In the afternoon, we hung out and my techie brother fixed my computer's connection to my wireless printer.  You have NO idea how huge that is for me!!!  Later, we headed out to the outlet mall for some shopping.  Becky and Zac actually had enough courage to let Madeline tag along with them for a while.  Madeline, by this time of the visit, was near the peak of the crescendo of how wound up she could actually be.  So, I am not exaggerating when I say they were brave.  Becky and Zac also spoiled her and bought her a dress while they were shopping together.  The wound-up child tried on the dress with them and then proceeded to be goofy by putting on her clothes the wrong way before coming out of the dressing room.  I see sainthood in Becky and Zac's future!  After the mall, the Kentucky gang wanted to make their pilgrimage to Wegman's to get all the Buffalo items that they cannot buy in Kentucky.  They packed a cooler with all the goodies they wished to bring home with them.  For dinner, take-out....by request, more Duff's wings and also some of the best WNY pizza, the pizzeria of our childhood, Leonardi's.....yum!

Tuesday morning, the Kentucky gang was on the road early.  The house was quiet and days of gluttony were complete.  I enjoyed our time together but it went too quickly!  My mom would always have a day or two of "the blues" after my brothers and/or sisters visited and then left.  I now understand that fully.  And realize that I may not see them again until July's annual campout.  Whaaaaa!!!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mardi Gras Fun

Madeline helped to put up some Mardi Gras decorations
Mardi Gras Centerpiece
Special Overnight Delivery From New Orleans!
I grew up in a family that LOVES food.  We are all about celebrating events with a good meal.  The majority of our traditional meals, however, revolve around the major holidays yet, any large family gathering is good enough excuse to strap on the feed bag.  Yep, we are "foodies" and if you are my Facebook friend, you have noticed my numerous status updates detailing what creations I am making in my kitchen.  I embrace these traditions and are always open to creating more.

David's "Mardi Gras Tie"
The day before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, is recognized most often by the names "Fat Tuesday" or "Mardi Gras".  In my Polish family, we often referred to it as Pączki Day.  Pączki are donuts and were traditionally made on this day in order to use up all the lard, sugar and eggs and in the house prior to the start of Lent because they were forbidden to be consumed due to Catholic fasting practices during Lent. (wikipedia).  My maternal grandmother used to make pączki (from scratch) and hand deliver them to us every year.  Although my mom never made pączki herself, she would always make a trip out to the local Polish bakery and buy a bunch every Fat Tuesday.  In fact, just like her mom did, my mom was known to make a special trip to my house to hand deliver the pączki.  Although I always appreciated the gesture from both my grandma and my mom, I was never a huge fan of the pączki.  Maybe because it is a denser donut than what one is used to.  As a result, I never embraced this tradition as wholeheartedly as my mom had.

Madeline created this Mardi Gras mask out of construction paper
Drank Virgin - Dangerous when spiked!!
Since our very good friend, Jon, lives in New Orleans and we have visited New Orleans on numerous occasion and also spent many an evening on Bourbon Street, David and I have decided to embrace the Mardi Gras celebration.  Last year, we began our annual Mardi Gras tradition quite spontaneously.  However, we enjoyed the uniqueness of us, native northerners, celebrating with such a southern flair.  And today, for Mardi Gras, I had fun putting together our celebration.  Even David got into the action by choosing a tie for work that showcased purple and green, two of the three Mardi Gras colors.

Red beans & rice with andouille sausage
I must say, I didn't live up to *everything* that I wanted to do for Mardi Gras.  Initially I envisioned myself awaking early and making fresh beignets and Cafe du Monde chicory coffee to send David off to work.  Well, I guess the bed was a little too comfy this morning for me to actually  get out of it extra early.  Instead, David had to be satisfied with my plans for dinner.

King cake
In late morning, I rinsed out the kidney beans that I soaked overnight, got out my crock pot and the package of ham hocks.  From noon on, the red beans and rice recipe was in the works.  Mid-afternoon, I was about to make a king cake from a mix that we purchased while in New Orleans.  Just then, the doorbell rang.  It was the UPS man with an overnight delivery, direct from New Orleans, of a Randazzo's King Cake!!  Thanks Jon for sending some Mardi Gras fun!!

I wasn't feeling like getting out decorations, however, Madeline had remembered from last year that we put up some Mardi Gras bling.  With Madeline excited about Mardi Gras decorations, I had to get my butt into the basement to pull out my Mardi Gras gear.  Madeline was so excited about helping me decorate.  In fact, on her own, Madeline decided to create Mardi Gras masks for Mama, Papa and herself.  With decorations up, necklaces on, and Hurricane drinks poured (mine was virgin with a splash of imitation rum flavoring - one of those "pregnancy modifications"), we were ready to enjoy our red beans and rice with andouille sausage and toasted French bread. For dessert, the king cake was pretty much to die for!  Thank God Madeline found the baby in her helping as I am pretty sure she would've continued eating that cake until the baby was found.

Madeline found the baby!
Polish Pączki
Despite our new New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition, I felt the need to purchase some pączki while I was out this morning.  Just a tribute to my mom and my grandma, I guess.  I suppose I needed to remain true to my roots.  Despite the fact that I was never a big pączki fan, it totally hit the spot with a cup of tea.  Could it be because I am pregnant that my taste buds changed?  Could it be that it took me 40 years to acquire the taste?  Or maybe, it was the guilt of switching up tradition.  Regardless......yummy!!  I suppose that it is fair to say I had a multi-cultural Mardi Gras.  What it was....FAT Tuesday (emphasis on FAT) is a perfect description of today!  A gut bustin' dinner and way too many treats.  I have never been so grateful for Lent to begin.  Time to turn around and behave again.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Baby Bump

16 weeks & 1 day
A mom-to-be! Baby shower: Pre-Madeline
Baby Bump - 16 wks & 1 day
This whole pregnancy thing is crazy.  I just don't *feel* pregnant.  Hmmmm....what should "feeling pregnant" feel like??  I have no idea.  I have never been pregnant before.  But I guess I just imagined things to feel different.  Maybe if I were puking my guts out during the first trimester I would "feel" pregnant.  Maybe when I begin to feel the baby kicking my ribs I will "feel" pregnant.  But for now, I feel "normal".  In fact, there are small periods of time that I actually forget that I am pregnant.  And then I think about that little pork chop (the baby's pet name) in my tummy.  And what do I think of?? I think of the process of becoming a mom (again), worry about the baby, things to do to prepare for its coming, etc, etc, etc. With that said, aside from a growing waistline caused by the baby bump, I have to say that the ways I "felt pregnant" when I was "paper pregnant" (awaiting adoption) are the same aspects of "feeling pregnant" that I am experiencing now.....the baby-to-be (then and now) are what occupies/occupied my mind.  My thoughts of being a mom occupied my day dreams and the hope and wishes for all the best for the baby fill/filled my dreams and prayers.  I am living the proof and will continue to be living proof that adoptive moms are just as much of a mom as biological moms.