Monday, April 30, 2007

Warm Weather Weekend

It was simply gorgeous over the weekend, so we tried to spend as much time outside as possible. The whole family went garage sale-ing on Saturday morning. The kids had a great time looking for bargains on toys. It’s amazing what 50¢ will buy at a garage sale! We spent pretty much the rest of the day out in the backyard, where C.B. caught a caterpillar. I was afraid he’d never let the poor little thing go!

Saturday night the adult residents of the Zoo went to the Tap Room to enjoy burgers and beer along with some great music and great company (thanks, D&P). OK…so that had nothing to do with being outdoors, but it was fun nonetheless.

Sunday we had a picnic in the park, where Big D tried to ride his bike without training wheels for the first time. We’ll have to keep working on that balance thing. Afterwards, the kids washed our cars and, of course, got wet from head to toe. I noticed afterwards that my car actually looked better BEFORE they washed it. At least they had fun!

The highlight of this weekend’s events took place on Friday night. Big D had his very first ever baseball game of his entire life. Three of his cousins are on his team, so the majority of the fans were related to us. Don’t ask me who won – who cares? All I know is that Big D had a great time, and we loved watching him and his cousins playing ball together.

Click here for more photos.

Speaking of cousins, we had a couple of them visit us this morning. Check out these shots of Banana and her baby cousin watching a video together. Too cute!

Friday, April 27, 2007

A Family Affair

I recently invited a couple of Guest Authors to post on the blog occasionally. They are well qualified, since being a resident of the Reddy Zoo is the only requirement. After all, this blog is about our family, and they have first-hand knowledge of that. It should be fun hearing about our adventures from a different perspective. My little author, Miss M has already published her first post, complete with pictures. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

My Trip to the Zoo

By Miss M

My class went to the Zoo on Wednesday. We saw all kinds of animals. My favorite one was the
Okapi. It looked like an all black Giraffe with black and white knee socks on. My cousins and I are all in the 3rd grade class. I have pictures of them and some of my friends. It was suppose to rain that day, but it did not start until we got on the bus to go back to school. I took a lot of pictures and so did my friends. I did not go into the butterfly wing of the Insectarium, so two of my friends took great pictures for me. Click here for all of my Zoo pictures.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Adoption Education - Part I

I attended a workshop last week called "I Don't Look Like You" - Transracial Adoption Issues. We discussed how society in general still has a long way to go toward understanding adoption, and people tend to make ignorant or even insensitive comments to adoptive parents. Parents who have adopted transracially are most often the recipients of this type of comment, due to the obvious differences between parent and child. We discussed several specific types of comments that can be hot-button issues for adoptive families, and our responsibility to educate those around us. I thought this blog might be a good place to talk about a few of those comments and questions. I hope it doesn’t sound too much like a lecture. I am just trying to provide honest information about our family’s feelings and experiences with respect to adoption.

Although records of adoptions go back even before Moses (the Code of Hammurabi from the 18th Century B.C. contains a clear definition of adoption), society still doesn’t always see adoption as an ordinary, accepted idea. It’s viewed as different; even unnatural. That idea is made evident when people use terms like “real parents” or “natural parents” when referring to a child’s birth parents. Anyone who knows me has probably already heard me talk about this one. Each of my four children has a different birth mother, but they all share one real mother – ME. I realize that this term is commonly used out of a lack of awareness, and not usually used in order to diminish the worth of the adoptive parents. However, people need understand how their choice of words can make us feel. It is more accurate and respectful to use the words birth or biological rather than real or natural.

I get this one a lot with respect to my two boys. It is understandable that people have questions, but it is often in the presence of the children that these questions are raised. What does it say to my kids when the authenticity of their relationship to their siblings is questioned? I don’t want Big D for a second to think that C.B. is not his real brother. I think he would actually get angry to the point of violence at anyone who tried to tell him that. (Big D is a sensitive guy.) A couple of years ago, Miss M was told by a friend that her brothers were not her real brothers. She came to me in tears to tell me about it. Fortunately I was able to speak to the little girl right away and explain to her that when we adopted our boys we became their parents and Miss M became their sister – just like her parents and her siblings. My mission to educate kicked into high gear that day.

Please don’t get me wrong…I never want to discourage questions. Like Big Bird says on Sesame Street every day, “Asking questions is a good way of finding things out.” However, people need to be sensitive to emotions, especially if the children are present. It can be confusing for my son to overhear someone ask what happened to his “real mom” is when I am standing right next to him. Another thing people should understand is that an adoptive parent won’t always be willing or able to answer their questions. For example, my husband and I decided that people don’t need to know the private details of our children’s lives before they are themselves aware of them. Therefore, we plan to keep things like their birth names and the circumstances surrounding their adoptions confidential until the kids are old enough to understand, and only then if they see fit to share those details.

Coming Soon: Adoption Education – Part II.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Why Don’t You Go Outside and Play?

This is something that was rarely heard when I was younger. As a kid, it seemed like I was always outside playing with the other kids in the neighborhood – playing kickball, practicing our gymnastics moves, riding bikes. As a parent, however, I sometimes feel like I have to convince my kids to play outside. People say all the time, “Things are different now.” I wholeheartedly agree. When I was Miss M’s age I walked to the neighborhood corner store – at least a half a mile away. My friends and I played entire games of Wiffle Ball in the street, using a fire hydrant for first base. When I was 11 (just a couple of years older than Miss M), my brother and I would ride our bikes to the pool as soon as it opened and stay there until dinnertime.

It’s true that things are different now. As a society, our sense of security has diminished. Today I wouldn’t dream of letting Miss M leave our street by herself, whether on her bike or on foot. My boys know that they are not even allowed in the front yard unless there is a grown-up out there with them. The stories of child abductions as well as freak accidents involving unattended children are enough to scare parents into keeping their children locked up in the house.

Our sense of community has also diminished. Neighbors aren't as "neighborly" as they were when we were younger. Our neighbors generally keep to themselves, occasionally waving from across the street or smiling in the direction of the kids if we’re out playing. People don’t stay in one house like they used to either. I have seen articles suggesting that the average American family moves every five to seven years. Perhaps that’s why people don’t bother getting to know their neighbors – because they won’t be neighbors for long!

One of the reasons why we want to move is because it is very difficult to find any kids on our street to play with. There may be more than I realize, but it’s even more unusual to find a kid whose mom or dad stays home during the day. Finding a playmate isn’t as easy for my kids as it was for me. On most days I could just walk outside and have a playmate. For my kids, playing with other children involves a lot more planning than that. There’s setting a date and time that works for both families, arranging rides to and from the play date, not to mention making sure the location is safe and acceptable to both sides. I am extremely lucky that my children all have cousins nearby that are also their playmates. I feel 100% comfortable with my children at their houses. It’s a different story when someone from school asks one of my kids to come over. It makes me want to run a background check on the parents before my kid is allowed to go over. Oh, how things have changed!

Thankfully, my children will always have each other to play with, whether they appreciate it or not. The primary reason we wanted more than one child is so that our children would have built-in playmates. As I mentioned yesterday, the boys have been getting along wonderfully lately. And since the weather has been so nice they are more than happy to play outside. The Banana loves it outside. There’s no place she’d rather be, whether she had a playmate or not. Miss M likes playing with her sister and her brothers, but most days she’d prefer someone her own age to play with. This is why it takes a little more encouragement to get her to go outside and play.

Yesterday was one of those days when my heart got all warm and fuzzy to see all the kids playing in the backyard together. I just had to get the camera and snap a few dozen shots or so (I love digital photography, don’t you?) Click the picture for the set.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Spring has Sprung

The calendar says it's springtime, but it's already starting to feel like summer. I don’t want to complain because at least it’s not cold! But I do wonder if the warmer weather is here to stay or if we will have to get coats back out again next week. In any case, we most definitely enjoyed the lovely weather this weekend. Our windows have been open, the kids have been outside for hours on end, and we even had our first warm weather barbecue this weekend.

Smell that smoke!

Miss M’s Girl Scout troop participated in April Showers over the weekend. We collected 782 personal care items which were delivered to local food pantries and shelters. Remember to use those green bags when the Girls Scouts bring them to your door next April!

I took Big D to get his pants for school next year. It is hard to believe that he will be starting Kindergarten in just a matter of months. He is very excited about it, and he is definitely ready for BIG school. Of course, he’s more ready to go than I am to let him go. It will take some getting used to not having him home with me every day next year. I have a feeling that C.B. will miss him even more than I will. Lately it seems they are really acting as much like friends as brothers.

The boys taking care of their baby cousin

Watching a movie together

I am pleased to announce that there are currently fifteen e-mail subscribers to the Reddy Zoo blog. Thanks to all of you that signed up. I hope that you enjoy receiving these posts by e-mail. If you haven’t signed up yet, but you think it sounds like a great idea, click here to get started.

Enjoy the beautiful spring day…before it rains!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Zoo Will Come to You

I recently discovered how to set up the blog so that people can "subscribe" to it. This means that you can receive updates via e-mail instead of having to visit the website. It seems pretty simple. Just type in your e-mail address using the link here

Subscribe to reddyzoo by Email

Or look for the "Enter your email address" space on the sidebar to sign up. Thanks!

The Names have been Changed to Protect the Innocent

It has been over a year since I started blogging on The blog was created in order to serve dual purposes; to journal our family’s experiences and to update friends and family members of our activities. I didn’t really expect anyone outside of our family or small circle of friends to even read it. Up to now the blog has been doing a wonderful job serving both of its original purposes, if I do say so myself.

I’m not na├»ve…I know that the internet is a very public thing, but people would really have to be looking for my little site to find it. But since I have decided to make cakes for people outside of my friends and family, I thought the blog was a good way to operate that business. Now this blog serves another purpose, which will potentially involve more than just friends and family. I have begun circulating a business card which directs them to this site if they are interested in ordering a cake from me. If a friend of a friend of a friend gets one of those cards, suddenly total strangers are visiting my site!

In addition, throughout the past several months I have been questioned by some concerned friends and family members. “Don’t you worry about using your kids’ real names on the internet? There are some pretty crazy people out there, you know.” Well, I do know. And I have been thinking about that for a while now and decided that it might be better if I used nicknames for my kids instead. It took me a while to make all of the changes, but it has been done. Some would say that if a “crazy” person wants to find you, then having nicknames on your blog ain’t gonna stop ‘em. But keeping their real names off of the internet is a simple way to protect my kids, so I’m all for it. I hope you will still enjoy reading about them: Miss M, Big D, C.B. and Banana.

**Addendum: I love getting comments on my site. I only ask that you will also refrain from using the kids’ names when commenting. Thanks!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Party Weekend

We were quite busy over the weekend. The Christian rock band I sing with had a “gig” on Friday night at a Youth Lock-in. The room was loaded with kids, and we played LOUD. All of them were singing along and enjoying the music. It was a lot of fun. However, it went pretty late and some of the band members went out for a bite afterwards. Long story short…I didn’t get home until 1:30 am.

We had to get started early the next morning, too. We had an out-of-town wedding to attend in the early afternoon. My dear-old-gray-haired-sainted-mother came to stay with the kids for the ENTIRE DAY!! It wasn’t ideal weather for a wedding, or for an hour-and-a-half trip to Perryville for that matter. But it was a very nice ceremony; the church looked pretty, the bride was beautiful, and the flower girls were simply adorable.

AND we didn’t have to wrestle with any children in church. That made it even better in my opinion. The reception wasn’t immediately after, yet somehow we still managed to show up only seconds before the newlyweds made their entrance. We had a fun night. It’s always nice spending time with each other as adults. I appreciate the 13 hours my mom spent with the kids so we could go out and be grown-ups for an entire day. It was quite a change from our usual Saturday. Congratulations, Mark & Erin!

On Sunday morning we went to church / Sunday School and ate at the Pancake Breakfast our Pro-Life group was hosting. We headed home just in time to get the house decorated for Aunt Mary Ann’s surprise birthday party. Aunt Mary Ann is the aunt who never misses a birthday, spends lots of time and money on our kids, and never expects or even wants anything in return. Whether she liked it or not, we thought it was time to acknowledge her birthday. Knowing she wouldn’t come over for her own birthday party, we simply asked her to come over and play games at our house. We also invited my cousin and his family, but we kept that a secret as well. She was surprised, and I think she was also touched that we planned a day just for her. We even did get to play a couple of games, which was tricky with the Banana around. Happy Birthday, Aunt Mary Ann!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Dream Drenched

Remember when I was so excited about C.B. staying dry through the night without a Pull-up? And remember how that all came about because I forgot to buy Pull-ups at the store? Well, I forgot again the next day. (Gimmie a break…it was Holy Week and I was at church 4 out of 5 nights last week.) Anyway, that night both C.B. and Big D went to bed without Pull-ups. Both boys stayed dry. And again the next night. And even the next. I was more than just excited at that point. I thought maybe the Pull-ups were like a safety net, so to speak. It seemed as if having a Pull-up on made it OK to wet your pants, and they no longer had that security. In any case, the thought of not having to buy Pull-ups anymore was very appealing.

That all changed on Monday, however, when Big D wet his bed. Of course I stripped the bed and washed his sheets right away so they were ready for the next night. Unfortunately I had to repeat that whole process on Tuesday as well. There was good news and bad news on Wednesday. The good news: I got a break from the laundry that morning. The bad news: I got to clean up the floor in the boys’ room instead. It seems one of them tried to get up and go potty in the night, but didn’t even make it out of the room. This morning BOTH the boys’ beds were wet, BOTH beds were stripped, and my dreams of not buying Pull-ups anymore were destroyed. And now I say with the passion of Inigo Montoya, “Don't bother me with laundry. After four days, at last my children’s beds will be dry. There will be Pull-ups tonight!"

"Don't bother me with trifles, after twenty years at last my father's soul will be at peace.
There will be blood tonight!" from The Princess Bride

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

The kids had a fun Easter this year. The bunny didn’t bring so much candy, but he did bring Dance Dance Revolution!!

Who could ask for a more appropriate Easter gift? It was a big hit with the kids, though.

Even Banana gave it a whirl.

But Dad was the “Dance Master”.

It was loads of Easter fun!

Click here for even more fun.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Easter Break

Yesterday was the first day of Easter Break for our kids. We weren't able to do a whole lot because we had some guys working in our house the entire day. It was obvious that we were on break, though, because we all slept in. It was almost 8:30 by the time Dad left for work - an hour later than usual. We pretty much took it easy at home. Besides keeping the kids out of the way of the “working guys”, I didn’t accomplish a whole lot. In fact, I didn't get out of my PJ's until 4:15 when I finally got the chance to get in the shower.

Today started much like yesterday, as far as sleeping in goes. This morning, though, Miss M got up with Banana and she helped get breakfast for everyone. She only had to come get us because Banana’s diaper basket was empty and she didn’t know where I hid the extra diapers. I was going to give Miss M a gold star, but I think she might be too old for that kind of reward. I think she deserves a dollar for “babysitting” while her mom and dad caught a few extra winks. Forget stars. When it comes to nine-year-olds, money talks.

We have big plans tonight. We are going to dye eggs, get our Easter baskets out, and take baths. That’s actually a pretty full night for us, as bath time alone can take over an hour from start to finish. But I might have to come up with something creative for the kids to do during the day today. If I don’t, I’m afraid they might do this all day:

Happy Easter!!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

They’re getting so BIG!

I have been using "gold stars" as a means of rewarding good behavior at our house lately. It might sound a little old fashioned, but the boys seem to respond to it. We put the stars on them - on their clothes, nose, etc. - so that their good behavior is visible. C.B. got one this morning because he stayed dry overnight. We always get excited when the boys don't wet their Pull-Ups overnight. Those things are expensive, you know! But this was even more exciting. We had unknowingly let our Pull-Ups supply run out, and C.B. went to bed in his underwear. I was sure that I would be doing a load of his sheets this morning. But I was pleasantly surprised when he told us with a big smile that he stayed dry all night. Needless to say, C.B. got a star this morning.
Big D got himself a star this morning too. When Dad asked him what he wanted for breakfast he said, “I already had breakfast” and pointed to the empty cereal bowl in the sink. Not only had Big D fixed himself a bowl of cereal and milk, he had put the bowl and spoon in the sink. And there was no mess to indicate that a five-year-old had been unsupervised in the kitchen at all. This responsible action added to the fact that Big D lost a tooth yesterday equals a BIG boy!

I do enjoy these kinds of “big boy” behaviors, but sometimes I wish they wouldn’t grow up so fast.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Big D's First Tooth

When your kids are babies you get excited when they get their first tooth. When they are around five or six, however, you get excited when they lose their first tooth. Big D lost his first tooth today. It was slightly loose this morning and he played with it so much that it was out before dinner. There is a pretty deep hole there, which makes us think he really helped that tooth along.

Miss M also just lost a tooth yesterday. But hers had been loose since the weekend and she wasn’t playing with it too much. I was actually threatening to take it out for her because she was complaining about it so much. Her tooth was also much bigger – it was a molar – and the new one was already growing in its place. I find it kind of funny that my kids are four years apart and losing teeth together. We’ve definitely been keeping the Tooth Fairy busy around here!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Another New Cake

I made this cake for a sports-loving little girl's birthday party over the weekend. The basketball is actually three-dimensional, which looked cool, but the box I used to transport it wouldn't close.
Click here or here to see some of my other cakes. Remember that if you are interested in ordering a cake, leave me a comment with your contact information. This information will not be published on the blog.