Friday, February 25, 2011

And the winner is....

the VIRUS!!!!

I battled on my own for a while. I walked away for a while. I was distracted for a while.

Last night I heard desperate cries from Mari and ran back into battle! This time I decided to hire mercenaries to aid me in the battle. They wanted a stiff fee for their services with no guarantees of success....

I surrendered.

Sometime later tonight I pick our new computer up from Best Buy. It just was the fiscally responsible option given the Geek Squad's quotes for Diagnosis, Recovery, and External Hard Drive set up [due to our nearly full memory capacity]. Wishing our Income Tax Return didn't always fly back out the door without a proper visit in the interest bearing accounts of our bank!!

At least I'll be able to get back in at my picture files loaded since the last time I made a back up CD!! Then I can catch up with our Springlet week of weather and more family events so I won't have to listen to Mari complain about the lack of pictorial representation of Julia and herself.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Space Age Genealogy?

My forays into the files of the past to unearth ancestors has been the topic of a post or two in the past. I'm well aware that not everyone has the emotional need to know their progenitor as I. On more than one occasion I have been asked just why I care about people who have been dead for years! I can't say I have words for what drives me to find these humans who's lives lead to mine? There's the thrill of the chase. There's the unique stories of lives lived in times of hardship and plenty. There is the portrait of myself that is evolving. A subtle shading here with the discovery of one ancestors contribution and a splash of color there from others. It fills some longing in my soul to be connected within the circle of life.

This passion of mine comes with it's complications as well. My two daughters so far have watched my endeavors from afar. Those old people that they see in pictures cannot possibly compete with Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift don't you know?!?! But there will probably be that day when a head cocks and a furrow appears on the brow as they realize that there can be no climb through the branches of their family tree! I've fought the fight with those who say that they are now my daughters and therefore my family tree is their family tree. I am resigned to the fact that there will be many people who just are not ready to embrace the uncomfortable fact that my daughters HAVE a first family. Their first family are real flesh and blood human beings who did not melt into the mud of Mother Earth the day a judge signed a paper giving me the legal right to raise them to adulthood! They too have stories that shaped the very beings of my daughters. Someday my daughters may just want to feel the thrill of the chase and watch their portrait evolve...and that very thought reduces me to tears.

Adopted from Guatemala. That means a lot. The obvious is adopted. The difficult is Guatemala. I am doing all I can to open that door to their past that the process of adoption closed. There are many who would criticize my actions. Some think I need to keep Pandora's Box closed. Some think it is not my right but something to be left for the girls to do when they are ready. I know I'm right. Lots of doors get stuck shut with time! More importantly, people die over time...especially in Guatemala. Finding the family who can show you your tree is hard enough when you KNOW the family. I can only imagine, especially given the fact that one of the birth mother's has trouble even remember the ages of her own children, how hard it will be for them to get accurate information! I will keep safe and guard this information for the girls until the time they are ready. It will be their journey to make. I just plan to be there with the supplies they need to get started down the right path. My grandfather left my mother a notebook with notes of his recollections of his relations which has been a treasure trove for me in my endeavors. I see my actions of using a searcher to find the first families and then obtaining family information to be the same gift!

Now, after another monster of an introduction, I come to the post I meant to share!! Not only am I interested in genealogy, but I am a bit of a science geek. The burgeoning field of genetic testing has been singing it's siren's song to me every since I discovered that my girls would have DNA tests to prove that the woman placing them for adoption was indeed their biological parent. I mean really, what more tangible way to 'meet' your ancestors than look at those microscopic strands of protein that they handed off to you at the moment of your conception? The literal brush strokes they made on your portrait?  The problem up to know? Accessibility and cost!

Then one of the adoption forums I read mentioned how one of the bigger laboratories working in the field of genetic testing was having a sale. A significant, just in time for a great stocking stuffer sale!! It still was far from cheap but it was drastically less. So this past Christmas break the girls and I had a 'spit party'. The company mailed out special vials for us to spit into and when we had filled to the mark we closed the lid and mailed it back. Now these many looooooong weeks later we have the beginning of our results!! There are pages upon pages of information about the many different alleles and how they are interpreted. For the first time I feel a bit better about my girls future in genealogy. Just like I can quickly surf from file to file on the internet and in to find documents that previous generations of researchers took months of traveling and paging through old tomes in government buildings,....I'm feeling like my girls will get to fly along chromosomes and look at their ancestors. Maybe not as emotionally satisfying as seeing a name in print or a picture but better than the 'unknown' they would come across routinely in this day and age? Only time will tell how far this field will progress. But for now we have the first brush stroke in their portraits....

Called an "Ancestral Painting" by the laboratories!! 
The segments are designated by the original source of the DNA from 15,000-50,000 years ago. This is Mari's 'painting'. Her Asian portions are traced back to Siberia and 'paint' the picture of population migration across the Bering straits to the Americas. But this child who has always been thought to be be indigenous...clearly has the DNA from
the Spanish conquerors as well!

Julia, the one who's birth certificate from Guatemala reads "non-indigenous"....has 41% Maya in her DNA!! This new scientific field is redefining the 'label'. Redefining the portrait of who my daughters really are! Giving them their first peeks at those people in their past who made them into the human beings they are today. Who knows where this science will go with the information it can draw from those precious strands of protein? It is still in its infancy. There are not yet enough people participating in the studies to make it an exact science...but if they could just get the price down I'm convinced there would be interest! With just a limited number of participants we have already 'met' two of Mari's third cousins [based on % shared DNA] also adopted by Americans. Yes, the service offers you the option to be matched with others who share your DNA!! We will probably never know the names of the family members that connect our children but at least we can see the genes that do and that is better than nothing!! [PS-both of those 3rd cousins were born within 5 miles of where Mari was born!?!?] My fervent wish is that this field will continue to blossom and grow and that I have provided the girls with the first key to their past by the simple act of collecting saliva.
Oh, and guess who's DNA is in this Ancestor Painting??? One hint, Patrick only did his spit fest on Sunday....guess those Irish relatives I keep finding are no lie?!?!


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mid-winter blahs...

The weather gave us a bit of a break this week! I took pictures and uploaded them onto my desktop...but have been battling a series of hardware issues. As a matter of fact, I have been also battling a stubbornly persistent case of sciatica. I have not missed one day of work or any other commitment as I stooped and hobbled my way through daily life! Pair a frustrating computer bug with two weeks of sucked up pain and you get....a not so nice Mom Meltdown.

The  cure as diagnosed by my family....

A veeeeeeery early delivery of my surprise birthday present!!!

My present, right?

Those are just from the first night we had it opened and up and running. Since then they have given me my time and space to play with my new toy. Time to firm up some details on my other birthday present which is supposed to help with the cure for Mom Meltdown.....

Ahhhhh, makes a girl giddy at the thought of her birthday when she knows it is going to be spent on Lido Beach!!!!!

The brief break in the weather did give me enough sunlight to get some pictures of my new version of the Guatlinda dress. It's up on my Etsy site finally!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

When Irish Eyes are Smiling..

Today is February 17th. The weather has broken and our snow banks are turning into giant puddles. Today I saw the first signs of spring....

Tender little shoots pushing their way through the soil. Fragile little tendrils of green still bent from the journey through seed coats and wet peat. A magical moment that lifts the winter weary soul to rejoice in the season to come. That bright golden time when millions of faces sport smiles.

Today is February month from today is St. Patrick's day!!!!!!!!! The shirts are bought, the parade route is set, and the shamrocks are sprouting. It's never too early to prepare for March 17th!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Another Golden Birthday!

So it has been brought to my attention that I've been sorely lacking in pictures of people in my posts of late! Guess I better get back to "basics" it was described to me by the young, hates to be in pictures herself person who felt compelled to bring this neglectful behavior to my attention. {Was that a big enough hint???}

Work, both in and out of the home is keeping me pretty busy this week so I'm going to try and push out a couple of posts in a row so I don't get too back logged. This opening post in the series is brought to you courtesy of another Golden Birthday lady in the family!!

Cousin Mairead is our Valentine's baby who went, and when our heads were turned, grew up on us!!!

The cousin who was Mari's closest friend and biggest competitor! I caused many a milestone to be met with a simple sentence, "But Mairead already does it!" 

Now she is a lovely young lady who turned FOURTEEN on February 14th!!

A lovely flautist who even played accompaniment to the rousing rendition of Happy Birthday...

and graciously opened her gifts...

while the 'gayles' [as Andrew used to call the trio when they were younger] were right at her feet!

The red velvet custom continued again this year [don't think she'll ever tire of it frankly!!] ...

but the Grammy Awards were on so the party moved to the couch. Sigh, gone are the days of bouncy house head bangs and soggy cake swim parties! Father time marches on and our 'young gang' are 
ALL teenagers now!!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday Snapshot

Sunset seems to be the time of day when I begin to notice the world around me.
Could be that I'm nocturnal by nature.
Most likely it's because daily life is considering slowing down to a manageable pace.
Last night I noticed this....

No photo editing involved. It was all Mother Nature's doing. The rays of light from the setting sun splitting into a spectrum and shining on my back splash.
My awe for her masterpiece is unspeakable!

Of course, me being me...

Just had to take one of Mother Natures stunningly simple displays and make it complicated!

Friday, February 11, 2011

FFF- Besitos/Kisses

So when I saw this week's theme I had quite the opposite reaction than I had to last weeks theme! Besitos, the Spanish word for kisses....well not so much. To be clear we are a fairly normal hug and kiss kind of family. We just don't photograph the moment. Seems kind of intrusive...voyeuristic....hard to find just the right word for how I'm trying to explain why I can only think of one picture in which a kiss figured prominently!

After a quick browse I didn't find another one jumping out at me. Knowing full well their reaction I asked the girls about the possibility of a photo shoot to produce pictures for today's theme. "Oh gross!!" and "Are you kidding??" figured prominently in the response......which will also probably be their response when they see the picture I ended up using!!!! Welcome to the tween/teen years....but if you want to see other BESITOS then check out Nora's blog!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sewing up some loose ends!

Remember a post waaaaaaay back in December when I hinted that I was lured into a sewing project? Well these many weeks later I can finally tie the loose threads on that promise of a future post!

My sister-in-law, her daughter, and several of her granddaughters descended on my house for a day to make a big push on a batch of costumes needed for a quickly approaching dance competition. While the little ones ran around like maniacs and played with abandon we cut and sewed.

The eldest granddaughter was put to work in the family tradition of costume making as it was her dance team that was in need of the new 'look'. 

Meanwhile the little ones decided to abandon the dolls and computers for a "day at the spa"...also know as my whirlpool tub!

We cut and sewed...
and did it some more! 18 times over and over and over, in fact!!

At the end of the day there was a good pile of costumes well under way and the finished product.....

AFTER I cleaned up the aftermath of the 'spa day' that is....

was just received by email from my niece who was tickled pink that her team took FIRST place in their 'homemade' costumes!!! Must admit it makes the crazy days and nights of sewing seem less tiring when there is a trophy on the mantle at the end of the day!

Friday, February 4, 2011

FFF- Abrazos {{{hugs}}}

You know that moment when you hear a word or smell an aroma that immediately brings you back to another time and place? The minute I saw Nora's theme for this week I had that experience! Abrazos, the Spanish word for hugs. I instantly knew it would be another flashback post....

Back to the day when we were in Guatemala visiting Julia and Mari's foster mother came to the hotel...

and back to the day my Mom first met Julia in the intimate setting of O'Hare Airport.

There was the reunion hug from the big sister who finally was getting her baby sister full time....

and the ones that come a few months later when the thrill is given over to jealousy!

The variety of 'cousin hugs' is endless! This is the one reserved for the new little Guatemalan cousin who might break if you squeeze too hard!

Then there is the one that comes on the news that your BFF/Cousin is going to be
in the same classroom as yourself!!

The group hug.....

and the just for a special person hug!!

Want to see more posts about hugs?? Then head over to Nora's blog and check out what all the FFF participants have put up for your viewing pleasure!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Well what do you know?

The weathermen actually called one right?!?!?! Our "winter storm warning" was warranted! With only minutes to spare I finished at work and headed home. We slogged through the first of the winds and driving snow to collect our babies from school and tucked in for the 3pm!!!!!

The winds HOWLED and the lights flickered a couple of times but our power lines held. We watched a very emotional documentary regarding Guatemala...actually three of us watched...Mari was relishing the extended computer privileges as she 'chatted' with friends, some of whom were in the dark without power. [Could tell when the laptop batteries started to fail as she tallied the declining numbers of friends on chat!] Anyhow, it was a GOOD thing Mari missed this documentary and we have decided she needs some more time and maturity to deal with some of the topics and issues addressed! Julia had some concerns over some of the scenes which were flashbacks to the main character's childhood as a Mayan survivor of the genocide of the late 70's and early 80's but nothing was sooooo graphic as to be traumatic. Mari is much more sensitive to these kind of things as well as the fact that she has memories of her childhood in the main character did...and might find the main character's emotional conflict over 'who she was' hit very close to home! My recommendation to those adoptive parents who are interested in watching the documentary 'Discovering Dominga' is to wait for a kid-free time and give yourself time for after viewing to process the weighty topics addressed...this is NOT a "they lived happily ever after" documentary!!!!

So we followed that heavy viewing matter up with Madagascar 2 and a few episodes of America's Funniest Home Videos before  deciding that it was 'safe' to go to bed. We woke up to an amazing winter scene!!

The view from inside my bathroom!!

Taken from my front porch over towards my neighbor's porch...which is drifted over!!! 
That mailbox of theirs is mounted at about 5 feet.

Looking out my front window. The snow is to the sills of my ranch style home!!!

The school across the street started to plow their parking lot early this morning...and then gave up!!

Not my stubborn Irish farm boy!!! He's determined to give me a heart attack by watching and worrying about him having a heart attack.

Julia standing in the path of the first shovel wide pass to give some perspective. This picture was taken at 9:30 am  even though it looks like PM!! 

The camera was NOT HAPPY that I was trying to snap pictures in 3 degrees and driving snow!!

After 20+ hours of blizzard conditions it has finally stopped!!! Patrick has almost gotten the cars dug out even though the city has put out TWO robo-calls begging everyone to stay off the streets. Everything is closed.

A fact that makes my youngest child very, very happy!! And yes, she is WAIST DEEP in snow...and loving every minute of it....but she's about to be pressed into shoveling duty!!