Saturday, August 20, 2011


...trying this again.

I once loved posting our comings and goings. As I stopped writing faithfully, I did not know where to start back up.

Our year at a glance:

Two exchange students! Margarita, from the Ukraine, lived at UM and spent time with us on weekends. Valentine, from France, lived with us for almost a month this summer. What an amazing experience to welcome new family members, however brief. We were lucky to get the great kids we did and it was fun to view Montana through their eyes.

Clark became the CFO at work (our state-wide food bank). Wonderful! Though, he works more which is a bit less wonderful.

Jake is a Senior in High School next week. HOW HAS THIS HAPPENED!?! All my efforts to stop or slow the growing-up process have been unfruitful. He has his first job and is about to begin driving the kid-car; he is also looking into the Air Force.

Liam will attend High School with Jake, as a Freshman. Definitely an advantage to have an older brother in school! Liam practiced with the Varsity soccer team all summer, and made JV this week. We are proud of his hard work.

Simon takes on the role of Middle School student with gusto this year. We spent the week looking for just the right shoes and backpack to make the year a success. He turns 12 in thirteen days.

After much deliberation (and assessment) we have decided to place Sylvie-Aganoti in Kindergarten. She is either a small five-year-old or a very smart four-year-old. Either way, she is ready and is absolutely thrilled. Her goal is to learn new words every day. I love her passion for learning and can not wait to see what school brings her.

Myself... ...never too sure what to say. I am busy. I am happy. I am thankful for my family and friends.

It sure feels good to blog--like slipping on a favorite sweatshirt.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

At a stand-still... blogging.

Our office is moving downstairs ssssllllllooooowwwwllllyyyyy!

I do not have picture-posting abilities at the moment and have great pictures to share.

We are enjoying summer. Busy building a garage/shop and eagerly planning our summer vacation to the coast.

Lastly, we know what a turtle-ferter is!!! I'll tell soon.

I promise!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Can someone pleeeeassse tell me what a "turtle ferter" is?

Sylvie-Aganoti frequently asks, "Remember turtle ferters mama?". I have NO IDEA what she is saying. Clark has NO IDEA what a turtle ferter is.

Of course we have questioned her. The following are facts about turtle ferters.

1. They are generally yellow--mostly on their backside.

2. Though, if I had one it would be blue.

3. Mine would be bigger than Sylvie's.

4. Turtle ferters can be found at Grandma's and Grandpa's. Whom, by the way, have NO IDEA what a turtle ferter is.

5. To eat one would be inappropriate, funny and even yucky!

This is what I picture occuring on Fridays at Grandma and Grandpa's when nobody is looking...

Monday, May 31, 2010

Make a Difference

Once upon a time there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing.
He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day he was walking along the shore.
As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer.
He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day.
So he began to walk faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn't dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.
As he got closer he called out, "Good morning! What are you doing?"
The young man paused, looked up and replied, "Throwing starfish in the ocean."
"I guess I should have asked, why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?"
"The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don't throw them in they'll die."
"But, young man, don't you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can't possibly make a difference!"
The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said...
"It made a difference for that one."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Have you ever... a mile-long track event in the sleet with your shorts falling off?

Liam has.

The harder it sleeted, the wetter his shorts became. The wetter his shorts became, the heavier they got. The heavier they got, the harder they were to keep up.

Our guy ran across the finish line holding on to his waistline. But he finished. And we are proud of him!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day at the Scare-ousel

Our Mother's Day tradition includes a huge, amazing brunch followed by a spin at the carousel. We prepped Sylvie-Aganoti for her first ride, "It will be so fun, there are horses carved out of wood in beautiful colors, you get to sit on them and ride around and around, tinkly music will play. We know you'll love it!"

Minutes before we leave brunch, I take S-A for a pit-stop in the bathroom. While going potty, she squeales, "I is soooo esssscited! We are going to the Scare-ousel and it is going to be SCARY!" I try re-frame the way she is thinking, but decide it doesn't really matter, as she does proclaim to be "soooo essscited".

Right before the ride begins...

Everyone looks happy, right? Then the ride starts. So does the screaming, wailing, shreiking, demands to get off NOW. Add that to the fact that everyone's huge, amazing brunch is whirling around in their stomach like a tornado.


This is what the carousel riders looked like when they were done.

Sometimes it is such a blessing to be the picture-taker rather than a participant.

Funny thing about this story is, over the year, it will somehow be dulled, or even erased, from our memories. And, next Mother's Day, we will end our brunch with tears, shouts of dismay and scrambled stomachs.

Scare-ousel is a comprehensive way to put the experience into words Sylvie.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Flyin' High

Daddy had a GREAT idea today! It was a Sylvie-Aganoti first...
And, she loved it!
So did Simon.
So did Daddy.

Name one person that doesn't insist on eating cashews WHILE flying kites...

Sylvie-Aganoti, did you feed that dog cashews?
Hmmm..... I think you might have.
What a wonderful time we had!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Big Mama

Sylvie-Aganoti views her surroundings as one would a science project; an opportunity for comparison and contrast; a venue to examine, discover and label; a chance to hypothesize and categorize.

Currently, she is fixated on color, shape and size. She is a "yummy, chocolate-brown girl". I am a "pink-skin mama". She has "tiny, brown shoes". I have "big, blue shoes". My personal favorite has to be, Sylvie-Aganoti is a "little girl" and, yes, I am a "big mama".

Never thought I'd like being called that. I feel like I need a leather biker vest sporting the words "Big Mama" across the back! Wouldn't that be a hit?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April Showers???

Snow Showers would be more accurate! Aaarrrgggggg! Winter, please, please, please go away!!!!!
I need some sunshine. I want to water my flowers, pull out the beach towels, frolick in green grass, sleep with windows open, wake to birds chirping, slather on sunblock, meander through Farmer's Market, go barefoot all day, enjoy a cup of steaming coffee on the porch, let Sylvie run around outside in her birthday-suit, star-gaze from our rocking lawn chairs, try to eat an ice-cream cone before it melts, take the kids to the pool, pack a picnic, wear my flip-flops...

The following are pictures taken this morning!

Right out the front door.
Snow, snow, go away. You make the sky oh-so-grey.

Boys on their way to school. I should have shot lower, as Liam is wearing SHORTS. He suffers a bad case of denial.

Wouldn't he look better spouting water into our pond?

Snuggled up.
It is quite possible the cold I am home from work with contributes to my CRUMMY attitude and outlook. Nothing some sunshine wouldn't help... :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

"Silly" Snaps

Awkward Affection

Crazy Cousins

Loony Lemons

Cheesy Cheeks

Silly String

Terrific Tongue

Mad Money

Happy Hair

Goofy Gesture

Saturday, March 27, 2010

It was a Happy Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday. It was wonderful. We had a family dinner (barbecued salmon, wild rice pilaf, fresh pineapple, a great bottle of French wine, finished off by various chocolates) and watched The Blind Side. We got to bed rather early and slept beyond eight hours.

Again, it was wonderful.

And the gifts! Chocolates from the boys, a treasure hunt from Clark (which was SO much fun), and this from Sylvie-Aganoti...

One last time, wonderful.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Months ago I proudly blogged about our status as a TV-free family. We spent our evenings playing Yahtzee and Chess, reading books, eating family-dinner, conversing... Life was perfect, ideal. Ok, ok, life wasn't exactly rainbows, puppies, and walks on the beach. But pretty darn close.

Then came the Olympics. And the justifications. Just these two weeks. What kind of Americans are we if we do not watch our best and brightest perform? The kids would be missing history. We love sports. Sadly, even the old stand-by, everyone else is doing it.

Well, we watched those two weeks like we were addicts on a bender. At our house when we do something, we do it BIG. And, I must be honest, we are still using. Three times a week. "The Amazing Race", "Survivor" and "Parenthood". Tonight, in fact, is TV-night.

I need to apologize to other TV-watching families. I have judged you in the past. As we had wholesome, television-free evenings, I imagined you hooked up to the Tube, aimlessly amused, with drool running down your chins, and brain-cells leaking out your ears. Now we join your ranks. Humbly.

So, I confess. We are watching TV. Cautiously. And liking it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ready... Set... Action Figure!

Sylvie-Aganoti is one little girl being raised with a pack of boys. This has many impacts. She loves to wrestle and throw a football. She can be demanding and bossy, as they hop-to any time she asks. She also adores action figures.

Sylvie-Aganoti bypasses her doll-house daily to play with her brother's ensemble of men with weapons stuck to their sides. She has them walk and talk. She sneaks them into her pockets, and includes them on many-a-family car ride. But what she is really enamored with is hiding them in various tuck-away spots in our home.

Arriving at the point of this post...

Liam has a solo trumpet performance yesterday. He is good at playing the trumpet. Really, really good. Though, this piece in particular he struggles with. He has been playing this song, this one and only song, for weeks and it just does not seem to be evolving.

Picture him standing in front of an audience. Feeling quaky. Feeling unsure. Feeling insecure about the piece he is about to play.

He starts out with a wobbly note, continued by several others. He hears some classmates giggling. Liam is getting that stomach-sinking sensation. The giggling is becoming more enthusiastic. Liam considers bolting for the door.

One lone voice rings out, "Liam, you might have a guy sticking out of the bell of your trumpet."

"What?", Liam thinks. "A guy? Did I hear that correctly?"

Band Director intervenes. Sticks his hand deep into the trumpet. And produces... action figure.

Thank you very much Sylvie-Aganoti!

p.s. After this traumatizing experience, Liam prevails. He plays his piece better than ever!

Monday, March 8, 2010

In Sticking with the Star Wars Theme

We have a new student who is reserved and fairly introverted. On approximately her fifth day of school, her mom has braided her hair in tiny little plaits and pulled them up into two sloppy buns. Her hair was soooo fabulous!

What does the School Counselor say to the new, shy student?

She says, "Student, I really like your cute buns!!!"


Yep, that is what I said.

Sinking to a new low in putting my foot in my mouth.

I admit it here, right now, publicly. When I begin praising student's buns, it is a clear indicator that I am loooooong overdue for Spring Break.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


I was reading a book to Kindergarten students about a character named Harry when...

In the sweetest voice you've ever heard, "Mrs. T., I have a connection! My daddy's back is really hairy."

Is is wrong to have pictured this????
Love those connections!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

If I Could Write My Child's Teacher a Letter... would say:

I loved my child, your student, when he was just an idea. A maybe. A hope. A dream.

He and I functioned as one for nine months and seven days. When he was born it was a loss as well as an indescribable gain.

As a baby, he held qualities beyond his time. We laughed, finding him an old man in a young boy's body, possessing an uncanny understanding of his world and those around him. Yet, ironically, that is his bane--functioning successfully in this world and with those around him.

It hurts my heart in ways immeasurable to see him struggle and it is hard not to point my finger at you sometimes.

He is special. He is valuable. Do you know that?

I want you to care enough to know him.

He lives for bugs and treeforts, taking things apart, reading a book until (in his sleep) it drops to his chest, throwing pebbles into water, the color purple, his stuffed bear, shattering rocks to find what might be inside, getting a letter addressed just to him, asking "why", riding his scooter over a bumpy course, wearing tennis shoes without socks, having his hair ruffled, eating homemade popcorn, exploring nooks and crannies, receiving a compliment.

He is a shining star.

He knows you groan inside when he walks into your classroom, yet he climbs out of bed each morning to spend his day in your care.

I ask you to change some things for me. For him.
  • Please do not sit him furthest away from where you teach--that alienates him.
  • Please do not have him write his name on the board with a sad face underneath--that humiliates him.
  • Please do not pull him out in the hall to tell him you think he is mean, a bully--that deflates him.
  • Please do not put him at a table with others who have a hard time concentrating, telling him you don't want him make hard-working students less successful--that beats him down.
  • Please do not reward kids by table when you've put him in a group where everyone struggles--that sets him up to fail.
  • Please try to feed him more positive feedback than negative--that builds him up.
  • Please give him a genuine smile--that makes him feel worthwhile.
  • Please treat him like an individual and give him goals he can achieve--that empowers him.
  • Please write nice things on his paper in your red pen--that encourages him.
  • Please place your hand on his shoulder from time to time--that refocuses him.
  • Please tell him a joke or give him a hug every once in a while--that humanizes him.
  • Please remember he is a little boy, trying his hardest, who wants more than anything to please you--that is his intent.

I wish I could wrap my arms around him all day long and protect him from unkindness. Sit on his shoulder and guide him seamlessly through social situations. The depth to which I hope he succeeds is immense.

You, he and I want the same thing. He is a boy who leaves our home each morning, declaring, "Today is going to be a good day Mom."

Please be good to him.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Her words...

...make us laugh every day.

Tuesday morning to our dog, "Margaux, you are soooo smart. Just like me!

After bursting into daycare, "I am here!!! It's Sylvie! I am here and I am brown like chocolate!!! And chocolate is YUMMY!"

Looking at our friend's new referral of a beautiful baby boy, "He's Ethiopia!"

At the grocery store after being told she's cute, "Yep, I am cute!"

When asked her name, "Sylvie-Aganoti Teresa Tower Stinker-Pants." Guess what we've been calling her?

This kid is FANTASTIC.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Book Club

I belong to the best book club in the world. It is absolutely one of my favorite things in life. There are nine of us girls and we've been a group for a little over two years, rarely missing a month. We read great books, have wonderful conversations, eat chocolate and drink a glass of wine. It is lovely.

The boys are frequently jealous of this event. They repeatedly, to no avail, beg invites. Jake usually reads the book when we are done and he and I club it together.

So, we had a family book club night the other night. A nice compromise (minus the wine!). Here are some snaps...

Incidentally, "A Mother for Choco" has to be one of the best adoption books we've read. It is a favorite of Sylvie-Aganoti's. In fact, I bet any one of us could practically recite the entire book we've read it so many times! I highly recommend it!!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Victoria's Not-So-Secret

We spent some time at the mall this weekend.

I needed some new undergarments. The boys waited (they'd rather not go in!) and Sylvie-Aganoti made her first trip to Victoria's Secret.

Not five minutes in the so, so busy store when Sylvie loudly declares, "Momma, Momma!!!! These breast-es are HUGE!!!!!"

I don't know if she was talking about our fellow shoppers. I don't know if she was referring to the displays.

In either case... ...she's rather accurate.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What would you pay?

For a beautiful bag...

What if it was funding an adoption?

Bag number one!

Bag number two!

A sister for Sylvie-Aganoti. Just considering...

...for now.

MLK on Love

Love is the key to the solution of the problems of the world. ~Martin Luther King, Jr., Nobel Prize lecture, 11 December 1968

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hurting in Haiti

Thoughts are with those in Haiti tonight, and those for with loved-ones in Haiti.

A couple of months ago a woman had her eye on us (mainly Sylvie-Aganoti) in the Good Food Store. After a bit, she approached and introduced herself as a fellow adoptive mom. I LOVE these moments. She has a Haitian son who is home and another they are waiting for. They have been waiting a long time to bring him home. As we exchanged information, she showed S-A a photo of she and her husband visiting their son in Haiti. Sylvie hugged the picture to her chest and did not want to return it. The mom gave it to her. She said, "It isn't often our kids see a family that resembles theirs. I have more at home." Sylvie carried their photo around for days.

The picture of their family has been lost for quite awhile. Sadly, the same can be said for her contact information. But, she is on my mind and heart. May her son be unhurt and his needs met.

There are many orphans in Haiti waiting for U.S. families in harm's way at this very moment. Two hundred and fifty four to be precise.

Tonight I emailed my state senators. I asked them to support Humanitarian Visas to bring the 254 waiting orphans home. Quickly.

It was a simple thing to do. Do it!

It is one small way to help those hurting in Haiti.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

So much to be grateful for...

Intense concentration!

Is he mocking me????