We’ve been luckier than a lot of people with regards to the kids’ dental needs. They have strong teeth, very few cavities, and things are generally pretty straight.

ahem. or so we thought.

So, Rockinrolla has a crossbite. One tooth on the bottom is in front of a tooth on the top. The dentist said this is an issue not just cosmetically, but that it would be pretty easy to get it knocked out or chipped when playing sports. Also, his teeth are a little bit crooked – more so than the Fishmaster’s, whose teeth are pretty much spot on.

Our dentist recommended an orthodontist who services the county seat near us as well as the Big Town about half an hour away, but he said we could to whomever we want, obviously.

We went yesterday to the person he suggested and it was the NASTIEST waiting room I think I’ve ever been in. Like, I’ve been in public health care buildings that aren’t the freshest in the world, but this was beyond the pale. Paint peeling on the outside, awful ceiling, stained, funky carpet, packed waiting room, no TV or magazines or coffee tables, and furniture that the Salvation Army would reject. No joke: the couch I sat on was just icky, old and faded and splotchy, and the seam of a pillow was ripped open with stuffing coming out.

To be fair, everyone that worked there was very pleasant. The ortho seemed capable and friendly. And the Service Room, at least, was clean and bright and decorated with those brightly painted leering fish that dental types seem to love.

However, this is an orthodontist, people. Someone performing expensive, often purely cosmetic, work who presumably gets well compensated for it. I mean, right? I can vouch for the fact that, if we end up going with this office, we’ll be paying puh-lenty for Rockinrolla’s twenty-four months of care. More,actually, than teh interwebs say is the national average for twenty-four months of orthodontia. Which is interesting given that we don’t live in like Manhattan or Miama or somewhere fancy, no? (and yes, it’s entirely possible that the figure I found was dated, though I did find it on two different sites.)

I’m feeling like the guy either is struggling financially because business is not so great OR he just doesn’t give two flips about the space his clients are occupying. And if I’m going to be taking Rockinrolla somewhere every month for two years and waiting while he gets tightened up (and, you know, paying for it) I don’t want it to be somewhere vile.

The orthodontist said that, in addition to the crossbite, his lower jaw was crowding his upper a little, and that it might not be an issue, but that we might have to tweak the upper teeth outward so they don’t knock the lower ones. Mah boy has a “strong lower jaw.” So I guess that’s why he needs a full set, right? so that they can be tweaked as his jaw grows over the next couple of years? I just had four braces on my front teeth to correct a gap when I was a kid, though I do kind of wish I’d had the whole kit and caboodle and my teeth were perfectly straight.

I had made the appointment to get his spacers and teeth molds and whatnot upon leaving (in their other office, assuming it was surely less nasty), but then called back to postpone while I got a second opinion. We’re going next Wednesday to someone else for an initial consult.

I imagine that we’re of one mind here, but I’ve been surprised before.  So,


The Fishmaster, my thirteen-year-old rising 8th grader, won an honorable mention in a county-wide essay contest. Here’s his answer to the question What is a farmer?, printed with his permission.

A farmer is an apprentice of the land. He learns everything he knows from the land itself. It teachers him patience, the very patience which is needed for his seed to sprout in the Spring. It teaches him thankfulness and to be thankful for the tiny miracle of life given to him by the land which grows right under his very feet. Most of all, it teaches him love and to be loving to the land and its God, through which all things are planted, grown, and harvested. A farmer’s land is like a good algebra teacher; it doesn’t give you the answer, but it shows you how to get pretty close.

A farmer knows fully well that, without his land, he would be nothing. Everything he earns, his land gives to him. He would not be able to provide food for himself or his family, water his fields, or feed his animals. He must repay the land, Mother Nature, and God for their wonderful efforts to bring a Fall’s harvest by treating them all with respect, dignity, and love. In truth, everything farmers earn is because of their land and how well it is kept. A field that is irrigated, fertilized, and is healthy will produce far more than one that is less well kept.

The first task man was entrusted with by God, was to farm, as said in Genesis. This task of farming should, therefore, be cherished and preserved. The land and earth, which are gifts bestowed by God, should be treaded with the highest repect and love from the agrarian world. If a farmer expects to gain a fall’s harvest, he must show appreciation for the plants, animals, and the entire Earth itself. Just as an apprentice learns who he can be from his Master, so does a farmer learn from the land.

And here is the Fishmaster reciting a poem on middle school commencement day. Every child in the school memorizes a poem for this day. Well, actually they memorize them all year and recite them to the class, but this is the Big Deal One. The Fishmaster’s is kind of quirky, but I think he recites it with great oratory skills. Plus, I love his handsome new teenagery self and deep voice.


Little Rainbow has undergone a couple of milestones that are good in the long run, I guess, or at least inevitable, but kind of make me sad.

Milestone 1: I guess he’s weaned now. I’m pretty much not producing any milk at all, and have only tried to nurse him a few times in the last couple of days, with very limited success. It’s felt like there was a little bit of milk accumulating, but it was a very paltry amount, and then it just sort of goes away. So, yeah. I guess I’m all done nursing babies, like, ever.


Milestone 2: He slept in his cradle in our bedroom last night and seemed to actually prefer it. He’s kind of been sweaty and squirmy lately, so we gave it a shot and he honestly just seemed… relieved. I bought one of those baby positioner items with velcro-attached wedges on a very gentle foam ramp type thing, so it kind of feels snug around his middle. After the bedtime bottle, he went down while still drowsy and went right to sleep. He had another bottle at 3:30 and went right back to sleep in his cradle. So, yeah, that too. I guess I don’t have a baby who sleeps in my bed every night any more.


A Very Good Year

We’ve had a few Bad School Years between Rockinrolla and the Fishmaster, and they are awful, awful, AWFUL when they happen.  When there are issues with other kids in the class, or conflicts with a teacher who just doesn’t like your kid one little bit, it makes the school year a sludgy mess to flounder and force your way through.  We’ve had years where I’ve had to tell one or the other boy just keep on pluggin’ honey, the year will be over soon, you can’t change your teacher but you can change how you yourself feel and act, don’t worry about what those other kids say…  I HATE those years.

This year was pretty great, though.  Rockinrolla had a conflict with one of his teachers that I could go into and tell you stories that would curl your hair, but we’ll just skip it.  It’s over now.  And for whatever reason, this teacher quit singling him out in the last couple of months.  Plus, Rockinrolla has plenty of friends and succeeds academically and athletically, so overall it was a good one.  We’ll get Rockinrolla’s report card next week – he thinks it’s all A’s – and then he starts seventh grade at the private school near us this fall, which I think he is going to love.

We (friend K, Daddy J, Grandma L and Grandpa R, and Grandma MJ) went to the Fishmaster’s commencement ceremony at his small private school today, and it was clear that the Fishmaster has had a totally stellar year.  His report card was AWESOME (a dip in grades in the 3rd quarter, when Daddy J and I were gone while bringing Rainbow home, was WAY vindicated with crazily great scores for the last quarter) and he won a special award for having the inquisitive mind of a True Student.  The headmaster had glowing, heart-swelling things to say about him.  I’m just so proud of him, I could pop.  And SO glad that he’s had a good year in which he’s learned a lot, had good friends, and had good relationships with his teachers.

I’m just feeling super-grateful for their school years that just wrapped up.  ahhh… nice one.  Super-grateful that they have innate skills to succeed in school, that they have home environments where they are able to get work done, and that they had (mostly) really great teachers this year.  And super-grateful that they are such pleasant, fun, interesting boys to be around.

Parents of school-age kids out there, did your kids have good years this time around?  Or are you all just relieved that the year is finally over so you can put it behind you?

‘Cause it’s summertime, baby:


We’ve got three pretty happy, silly boys around here. It’s pretty great.

I don’t know if it’s the greeny-spring freshness, the fact that school is almost out, or if the mood of the whole house is just lighter since the adoption stress is lifting.

(if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.)

Not that things have been so terrible while we were waiting on Rainbow, but I think we all feel some kinks in our backs loosening. Also, the Fishmaster continues to love his school, Rockinrolla is very excited to begin seventh grade at Daddy J’s and my alma mater next year, and Daddy J’s company change, while time consuming, has proven to be a Very Good Thing.

The biggest problem with the big boys of late is trying to get them to eat their meals instead of just cracking each other up the whole time. It hearkens back to the old days when they were, like, 5 and 6, and enraptured with Bionicles and Pokemon and Terrifying Prehistoric Beasts Real and Otherwise and thought each other was the coolest and most fun guy ever. They are into different stuff and different friends now, of course, but it’s so cool that they are getting along so well.

But, yeah, meals are full of vulgar baby poop-and-pee short poems (um, yeah, SOME of which might be Mama Jamz instigated), ponderings about just what is going through Booger the cat’s head, and the potential hilarity of singing Have You Ever Been to Electric Ladyland? to one of their old lady teachers.

Really, they’re just a hoot right now.

Gray and turtle

 and HANDSOME too, if I may say so mehself.

(yes, that would be a snapping turtle that the Fishmaster is posing with.  Good eye, mate!)

As is this guy:

This one is pretty mellow, but he does a little talking about halfway through. He’s very proud of the soft ooo-ooo-ooo sounds he can make now.

Here I try to get him to laugh with the Descending Tickle method, with limited success. It amuses me that I throw in the towel halfway through and use the Vocal Gunshot method, which he finds hilarious. And no, we didn’t share that little technique with the social worker.

key change

This weekend, after spending some time with Daddy J and the sculptor at the park figuring out the statue’s orientation, I walked with Rainbow downtown to meet the Fishmaster and buy him a treat. It was a glorious, glorious, warm, bright day.

We passed by the house of a very recently widowed neighbor. She was sweeping cobwebs off her porch. I wheeled the stroller over to her to exchange greetings.

She admired his beauty and studied me for a minute and said, “It’s good to see you happy.”

We chatted for a bit; I didn’t bring up her husband because I remember being refreshed in those early grieving times by having a few minutes of normal, pleasant conversation that didn’t bring up loss and pain. Rainbow and I strolled on.

So many people have commented that I seem happier now and/or that I look better. Partly because the adoption uncertainty is over, partly because I’m not taking hormones or anything messing with my body, and mostly because it’s just so joyful to take care of a sweet baby – I know it’s true.

Walking on down the street, I thought about how people don’t like it when other people are hurting. It’s a huge relief when the bad time is over for people they care about, one way or another. And I thought about shockingly offensive it was when someone told me that, because we donated Ward’s organs, “all this has had a happy ending.” As if it were a tidy package of loss and rebirth that we can wrap up and put on the shelf and give a pat to now and then. It’s not ended; his story’s not over and neither is ours.

I thought, Is it a whole new chapter now, though?, and that’s not really it either.

It’s more that the whole thing is our symphony, with layers and movements and a wide array of moods and tempos. The dark, minor dirge doesn’t have the best dance beat, but it has a beauty all its own, and it adds richness and contrast to the whole package. And it fits into the whole work; it has an important place among the playful light twittering and the bold marches and the elegant waltzes. It belongs. It helps tie together the movements that come before and after. And, like all the movements, it has echoes of the same simple phrase that is repeated throughout this symphony, the defining phrase that makes it recognizable as ours even out of context with the whole.

Ours might not be a work of solely key-of-C-sunny-brightness, but that’s okay. It’s beautiful, it’s complicated, and it’s all ours.

Rockinrolla roxx

Rockinrolla really loves his new drum set.

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