Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lost in Amsterdam...

This is the way my Christmas tree has looked for a week now. It is a perfect illustration of the state of our family at this moment in time. If anyone even swings by the blog anymore then my apologies. It has been sooooooo long since I last blogged or even felt like blogging and a couple of you reached out recently to check on me so I figured I owed an explanation.

Long time readers know we are a family created by immigration and adoption. We are together by choice and not biology. Since we did not have the benefit of shared DNA and months of intimate gestation, our family ties need much more TLC to prevent knots or breakage. We've been struggling there......

Those of you with experience in special needs or mental health professions will be familiar with the reference in the title of this post but for those not familiar here is a short explanation. In counseling there is a story to try and redirect ones focus on the 'big picture'. Let's say all your life you have dreamed of traveling to Italy. So much so that you saved every penny, read every travelogue, and even took Italian lessons so you could order those delectable meals you read about in the travelogue. Finally you have the time and money and you book your dream trip....but the plane lands in Amsterdam with an announcement that due to completely unforeseen circumstances this is where your trip ends. There is not going to be an Italian dream trip...ever...not going to happen!

It is at this point that the counselor tries to show you how very much you will miss in all the grandeur of Amsterdam if you stay curled in a fetal position at the airport mourning your lost dream! In our case there are some variables we are still working through. Like how sooooooo very long we had to wait for the right time and money to book our way to Italy and how sooooo many family members that we are invested in have already reached Italy and insist on texting you constant updates on all the fantastic experiences THEY are having in Italy even as they know you sit stranded forever in Amsterdam!!!

Well I'm out of the fetal position. Partly because my intellect sees the benefits of embracing Amsterdam but partly only out of duty....what Mother leaves their children stranded at the Amsterdam airport while they have a pity party?? We are walking around checking out Amsterdam...but I must admit that I have in no way made an emotional connection with this new destination yet. The girls still think we can figure out a plan B that gets us to Italy so they are not very excited about our tours of Amsterdam either. Really, I am still pretty numb. Just look at our Christmas tree....we are going through the motions but there is no excitement...not joy...not emotional connection to the season...yet! I have hope we will make a breakthrough.....

We hear they do a might fine Christmas in Amsterdam (-:

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fantastic Fall

Yes, minus the emotional quicksand bit, this has been a wonderful fall for those of us who live in the Chicago environs. The weather has really been decent. I guess 'normal' would be a fitting description of the slow and steady spiral downward movement of the thermometer and the leaves.

A few weeks back we harvested the garden. The potatoes, carrots, cabbage and tomatoes gathered that day were paired with a couple of pieces of corned beef and fed the ten of us who gathered for the usual Thursday family dinner.

The end of the harvest from our little city plot.

Peggy had the garden ....I do the baking...together we had a Halfway to St. Patrick's Day!

Dinner time craziness!!!

Tastes so good when it comes from your own garden!!

For the past two weeks I have been pounding my sewing machines to near death. Besides some Etsy orders there were costumes to be made for Halloween!! All were done and delivered by last Friday [<;

 My Muerto del Titanic and Hogwart student grudgingly posing today.

 Much happier to be heading off to collect candy with the friends than the sister!! She went Trick-or-Treating this year despite the homework assigned by EVERY teacher because the middle school decided that 8th graders are too old to celebrate Halloween!?!?!

The younger set happy to be together without those silly teens! Oh, and the grammar schools decided that Halloween night was a good time to assign homework as well!?!?!?! This Mom decided the teachers would reap the rewards of what they had sown...after Trick-or-Treating we did the homework....which resulted in a two hour delay in the usual bedtime....so they can suffer the behavior tomorrow of two sleep deprived girlies hepped on sugar to keep them from nodding off!!!

This is my version of an Angry Bird made for a friend's son (-:

And the view of his tail feathers.

The Tarzana costume and the ...ah...um...Fallopian Swim Team member are awaiting the promised pictures by the recipients!!! Yes, that would mean you Steven!!

We also prepared for November 1st , Dia de los Muertos by decorating our ofrenda...

...which included our plate full of sugar skulls made last weekend.

There are still plenty of leaves on the trees waiting for the cold winds to blow them down. We've only had a mild frost or two...unlike our poor friends out east who were slammed with snow. The weathermen are trying to scare us into being prepared for one heck of a snowy winter....I should listen and prepare...but I'm not ready to let go of fall just yet!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sweet Times

I'd suggest you'd better sit down because I've actually gotten around to posting on my blog...but I'd have to assume you are probably sitting at your computer! Anyhow, we really have been living a quite full and interesting life. I just have not found my mojo for blogging to be particularly ...motivating.

 Halloween preparations are in full swing at our house! Costumes are cut and in various stages of completion in the salt mine. The 'scary men' are in place on the porch. Today we decided to try our hand with REAL sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos!!!

 We had a book with directions. We had the BFF/Cousin.

 There was great surprise and happiness to find this required 'playing' with the sugar.

 You mush and mash sugar, meringue powder, and a bit of water together.

 Then you push the mush in a mold.

 Teamwork is not a problem with these two.


Then we tried coloring the next batch orange...ended up more like apricot colored.

 Sugar was sticking to skin like crazy....one enjoyed liking it off...the other not so much.

 The skulls are lined up and waiting to 'cure' so we can decorate them tomorrow.

Proud confectioners!
We still need to decorate our ofrenda, buy candy for the trick-or-treaters, and finish sewing the costumes. There's a week yet!!! No sweat (-;

Monday, October 10, 2011

Long Weekend Fun

Last year this time we were in Florida attending the Guatfest held at the Nick Hotel. They had 8 inches of rain this weekend in Orlando....while we had the most glorious Indian Summer weather one could ever hope for!!!!!!!!!!!! Kind of glad the finances kept us home this year because we got to be out in the sun and warmth all weekend. Not only out but out with the cousins!!! Just posting a random collection of the over 200 pictures we took of our Fall Break fun. I'm sure I missed a few that I meant to show but since sooooooooooo many of them turned out sooooooooo well it was hard to decide which ones to post!

Outing #1....back to our favorite orchard! In no particular order and with little commentary here goes...

 In a rare appearance is Ethan...Andrew and Alyssa's baby brother.

 The whole group with us this day.

He just had to have that perfect apple!

 Yes, Julia is now as tall as Alyssa!!

As you can clearly see we are having superb weather given that the calendar reads October (-; You never know...we might get to sneak in one more trip before you know what comes our way.

Outing #2...a photo shoot with all the cousins at a local forest preserve which features a creek with an old mill. This is the very first year EVER that all 8 of them go to a different school so we thought we get some pictures of them wearing their school hoodies or spirit wear....which for this public blog I regrettably had to obscure for their privacy. It was a bit warm for the hoodies and long sleeved shirts....

 Also in a rare appearance is Daniel, brother of Mairead and Deirdre!

 Soooooo bored waiting for the adults to plan the shot.

 Helping his baby brother down the river bank to get to the falls.

Wishing they could ditch their hoodies and go wading instead (-;

Only one more day off before we are back to the grindstone...can we only hope that this weather will last until Halloween?!?!?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Life Lessons

Have heard from more than one person in the past two weeks about my blogging drought! As I alluded to in the past post, there have been some pretty impressive emotional storms blowing through this house in the past couple of months. When the gales subsided I had very little wind in my sails to handle day to day activities and work let alone enough to blog. I have some memories that need to be recorded for my girls' future though and so I am digging deep to rejoin the ranks of the blog world!

I am opening with the most recent event!! Pretty much EVERY weekend the BFF/Cousin Deirdre becomes the third Mahoney daughter. Auntie Peggy even calls her my youngest as in "Is your youngest daughter over AGAIN?!?!" But she and Julia are just so darn good together that it is a pleasure to have her here. Yesterday they did something they rarely do....they asked for my help. It seems they felt it was high time they learned how to SEW!!! Gulp....as flattered as I was to be asked I also had a wave of panic at the thought of those two set loose in my sanctuary! Together they had made a well conceived plan and after rummaging through my insanely excessive stash of fabric we began their first sewing lesson.

We did the prep work first...cutting fabric and ribbons to the correct sizes.

Deirdre worried from the instant this picture was taken that now she will be expected to do ironing duty at home!! They learned what Wonder Under was and how it works....and how NOT to ruin my iron with Wunder Uck!

There was a lot of waiting ones turn as there was only one teacher for the two pupils!

Oh, did I mention that the teacher was working while injured???
As bad as it looks it is really the result of a botched blood draw so while my arm ached from the pressure of the bruising it was still usable.

But everyone had their turn at each step in the process.

When we made it to the step where the sewing machine would be needed we practised.....

...and practiced...

...and practiced some more....

...and when they had several straight runs we were ready for the real projects!

 They were all seriousness...

and determination!!

It took waaaaay longer than I originally thought but it is not all their fault as I neglected to factor in my chauffeuring obligations and then there was the impromptu family dinner at Portillos. There was the tiny interruption as Andrew, on his way to his first Homecoming Dance stopped by and I had to take pictures!! [Hopefully covered in an upcoming post!] What we started on Saturday was finished by Sunday which meant, of course, that Deirdre had to extend her sleepover!!!

Two uber proud sewers!!!!