Friday, December 28, 2012


Holy cow, am I tired!!

(No, that's not me in the picture.  You can tell by the manicured nails and the lipstick.  Do you know when the last time I had either of those things on me was?  Try never!  But that is a frighteningly accurate depiction of what's happening to me today!)

I ran myself pretty ragged leading up to Christmas, trying to make everything perfect of course.  I traded sleep for things like wrapping, cleaning, baking, planning, crafting, etc.  Combine that with the darkness this time of year, a side of stress and anxiety, and I am just wiped out.

We had either 20 or 21 people in our little house for Christmas.  I lost count.  It was very cramped, but as far as I know, everyone had a good time and there was lots of laughter and joy.  That made all the work worth it!  My uncle supplied a big old hunk of prime rib which turned out amazing in my oven.  It was just the reward I needed after all the work I put into getting ready for the day.  Nothing got burnt (including my hands or arms!), nothing was dropped or ruined, dinner was relatively on time, gifts were enjoyed, children squealed with delight.  It was all I could have asked for and more.

After the last guest departed on Christmas evening, I plopped down on the couch, completely spent.  I was asleep by 8:45.  I woke up at 9:30 long enough to trudge up the stairs to bed, where I stayed until 7:45 the next morning.  Truthfully, I could've slept until noon, but I have a two year old who had other plans!  It seems like I haven't been able to get really rested anytime since.  I'm sure it's coming - I just have to get there!

Santa was good to us this year.  He brought me a new lens for my camera, which I have only been able to play with a little bit, but which I am enjoying immensely anyway.  He brought hubby a beautiful framed print with a whole lot of sentimental meaning, and he brought the kidlet a whole bunch of new toys!  We actually only bought him a few small things this year, knowing that he would be spoiled from every direction anyway. And he was!  We still haven't opened up all the new toys he got, just because he hasn't had time to play with all of them.  I'm hoping for some down time this weekend to change that.

Speaking of down time, it's going to be above zero here for New Year's Eve and that is a rare treat!  The university here does a great fireworks show, which I've never been to, because it's usually too cold or we have other plans.  This year though, I plan to keep the kid up late (I think it starts at 8:00?) and go enjoy it!  I can't wait!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Memories

It's finally here!  Christmas Eve!

One of the (many!) reasons I love this time of the year so much is that it makes me feel like a kid again.  There are only two things that make me feel like I'm 8 years old again: Disney World and Christmas.  I get giddy and excited.  I love giving, and surprises, and kindness, and generosity, and joy, and having reasons to visit with those we hold dear... and Christmas wraps all of that into one season.

And, now that I am grown and have a child of my own, I have a whole new understanding and appreciation for all my parents sacrificed for us kids all year, and especially at Christmas.

I had a good childhood.  We had everything we needed, and a lot of what we wanted, in life.  Both of my parents worked throughout most of my school-age years.  I remember when Dad worked as a driver for a bakery, he'd be up and gone well before we rose in the morning.  It didn't matter how cold it was, or how tired he was - even when he was sick - he was up and off to work every day.  And for many years, Mom worked at a school bus company as a driver, a dispatcher, and eventually a manager of some sort.  I remember her working some 12-14 hour days, and that was hard.  But she had summers off with us kids for many years, and she took full advantage of that, which was awesome.

We weren't drowned in luxuries at Christmas time like some of our friends were.  I remember one year in particular that my 'big gift' was a really nice new coat that I desperately needed.  It was red and had a hood and it beat the pants off my old coat!  And when you live in Alaska, that's a big deal.  I like to think I wasn't jealous of my friends who had more extravagant Christmases; in fact, I don't remember being jealous, but I probably was, as kids so often are.

Point is, my parents worked their fingers to the bone and we knew exactly how much we were loved and treasured.  Maybe we didn't get snowmachines for Christmas like some other kids did, but we always knew that Mom and Dad the very best they could and I admire them to this day for that.  They certainly went without, many times, so that us kids would have a few more packages under the tree.  And now... I totally get it.  I get why it was okay that Mom and Dad only had one or two gifts apiece when my brother and I each had a big pile.

Nope, not a little boy!  That's me!

Turns out that's the whole nature of parenthood - it's a lot like the spirit of Christmas.  You give of yourself to make sure your kids are healthy, taken care of, and hopefully happy.  You wear your work shoes for a little longer so that your kid can have that nifty new thing that will put a smile on their face.  Six months later, you'll remember Christmas morning, and your feet won't even be a thought.

I thought I would share a few of my most loved Christmas memories with you... like how on Christmas Eve, after dinner, we would open a gift from my grandma who (still!) lives in Seattle.  She always sent us turtles from See's Candy, and usually another box full of homemade goodies too.  It was the only time all year that we got either of those things, so it was really a special treat.

And like how I would be so excited on Christmas Eve that even though I knew Santa wouldn't come until I was asleep, I would lay there awake nearly all night.  You see, we always had Christmas lights on the outside of the house, but they were shut off at bedtime to save electricity (that stuff is expensive here!).  But Christmas Eve was the one night that they were left on all night.  That was so special!  I would lay in bed and stare out the window at those giant multi-colored bulbs for hours, listening for the *thump* of Santa landing on the roof.

We weren't allowed to leave our bedrooms after lights-out on Christmas Eve night.  No exceptions... except if we had to pee.  Which, naturally, I had to do a lot.  Between dying to know if Santa had been there yet, and the fact that I was awake most of the night, I made a lot of trips to the bathroom.  (The bathroom was close enough to the living room that if I made a beeline, I could catch a very brief peek at the tree on the way!)  I cannot even tell you the number of times that my dad chased me back to my bedroom in his undies to make sure I wasn't peeking.

When the pre-arranged time came on Christmas morning that we were allowed to get up, I would fly into Mom and Dad's room and make the announcement.  Mom and Dad would groan at me and ask for more time.  I would say no and probably whine a lot.  (Now I know why they needed the time - they were completely exhausted from all the working, shopping, assembling and wrapping, baking, prepping, and chasing me back to my room 47 times during the night!  I finally get it!)  Eventually Mom would drag her tired self out of bed.  It was at that point that she'd tell me to go back to my room until a pot of coffee was ready.  Holy TORTURE!!  I would do it, only because I had no choice.  Finally, when the coffee was flowing and the kids were (undoubtedly) obnoxious, it would be time to open presents.  We usually did stockings first and then everything else.

I remember that gifts from Santa always came in special, fancy-looking paper.  I remember one year (or maybe more?) it was a beautiful red foil paper with some sort of pattern on it.  Even the paper seemed magical; there was no doubt which presents were from Santa!

In my younger years, we would head over to my grandparents' house after all our gifts were open, breakfast was eaten, showers were taken and toys were christened.  There we'd get together with all the extended family, have a casual Christmas dinner, and open more presents.  Grandma and Grandpa's house was extra fun at Christmas, too.  I swear their tree was 25' tall and professionally decorated.

Yup, that's me there in the red tights.  And my grandma taking pictures of me and my cousin.  Isn't that tree amazing?!  (Okay, I know, it's just a regular Christmas tree.  But it wasn't.  Grandma and Grandpa made it so much more.)

I could go on all day about all my amazing memories of Christmas.  Point is, maybe we didn't have the most extravagant things under our tree, but we had so much LOVE, all year and at Christmas.  My parents worked hard and made sure I knew what was important.  I can only hope I'm doing the same for my son.

To all of you, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and I wish you ALL the best in 2013.

Thanks for keeping me in your circle this year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Moment of Comfort in a Sea of Mourning

I haven't posted anything about the senseless massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.  I felt there was nothing I could say that hasn't been said.  And the last thing I'd want is to contribute to anything that started as sincere but has become cliche.  But my heart has been just shattered over it.  Not to mention the thought that this could happen to my child or his peers scares the bejeebers out of me.

I don't talk about my religious beliefs here much - if at all - because I feel like it's no one's business but mine.  But I saw this and had to share.  Regardless of your beliefs about God, about guns, about politics, about our education system or anything else, I hope you'll read this and find the same kind of comfort that I did when I read it. 

Twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate.
their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
they could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
they were filled with such joy, they didn't know what to say.
they remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
"where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
"this is heaven." declared a small boy. "we're spending Christmas at God's house."
when what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
and in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
those children all flew into the arms of their King
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.
and as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad."
then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe
then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
"Let My power and presence re-enter this land!"
"may this country be delivered from the hands of fools"
"I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"
then He and the children stood up without a sound.
"come now my children, let me show you around."
excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
and i heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
"in the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT."

~Written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA

God bless these little angels.  All the way home.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Why I Love Open Adoption, #273

I remember when we were at our intake appointment at the adoption agency.  I remember the social worker telling us that most adoptions are open.  Something seized up in my heart.  I was terrified.  I wasn't closed off to the idea, but I'll admit it scared the snot out of me.  I knew enough to realize this wasn't some sort of co-parenting arrangement, but still, I assumed I would feel very threatened in such a scenario.

Over the next few weeks and months, I did a lot of research.  The social workers spent time educating me on the benefits of openness for everyone in the adoption scenario.  I read a lot online and in books about open adoption and the benefits.  I quickly began to understand that this is exactly what I wanted for my future child(ren).  I could re-hash all the fundamentals of why I believe open adoption is best in many (most?) cases, but if you've read my blog for long at all, you already know them.

I wanted to share with you a specific moment that occurred last night that brought tears to my eyes and reaffirmed ALL of the decisions we've made about having an open adoption.

At our last visit with Aidan's birthmom, hubby took a picture of her, him, and me together.  I never did do anything with the picture except send it to a few immediate family members and admire it a lot.  I realized the other day that I've been slacking on showing him pictures of her (the few that I have!) and I started feeling pretty bad about it.  So, I uploaded this picture of the three of us to the local photo shop and had an 8x10 print made.  I'll be turning it into a wall hanging for a Christmas gift for him.

Anyway - Aidan saw me taking this print out of the envelope and he asked, "who's that?"  I held it up in front of him and said, "I don't know, who IS that?"

He instantly pointed at me in the picture and squealed, "Mommy!!"

Then he pointed at himself in the picture and said "Nen-nen!"  (Aidan)

Then he pointed at his birthmom and said, "who's that?"  (Cue the guilt...)  I waited a minute to let him think, wondering if he'd come up with her name.  

After a minute, I said, "who IS that?"

He said, very thoughtfully, "uuuuummmmmm...."

Then, after another moment of thought... "kiss?!"  He proceeded to take this print from me and mash it to his face, planting a wet slobbery kiss right on her face.

Happy tears streamed down my face as I squeezed him tight and reminded him of her name.

And, once again, all our reasons for choosing openness for our son came rushing back and the guilt disappeared.  He knows.  He's known since he was born.  I remember saying that at our visit when he was about eight months old.  He might not understand, but he knows that she is very special.

I hope he never forgets that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Refreshing Take!

I know I haven't mentioned it here yet, but November is National Adoption Awareness Month (NAAM)!  I decided to lay low this year and didn't participate in any of the blog rings or interview projects.  This is both because of time constraints and because although I am VERY proud to be an adoptive mommy, I feel like NAAM is geared more toward foster-adoption.  Don't get me wrong, I'm good with that!  Kids in foster care need immediate and serious assistance from very special people.  I don't feel I could be an effective foster parent (but that's a whole other post).

Point is, I was cruising through some of the posts in my reader about adoption this morning and I ran across one that had me nearly leaping from my chair in joy.  I just had to share it with you.  Keep reading, the link is below.

You may remember a year or so ago, when I launched a little campaign aimed at a popular TV show, begging them to change the way they were handling an adoption storyline on the show.  We ended up with a few thousand of signatures, and I was interviewed by (and written about in) Time Magazine, USA Today, the LA Times, and other major outlets.  We know the producers were aware of the petition, but they chose to ignore it, and so it fizzled.  I felt like I had still accomplished something, and I got people talking about it, so that was good enough for me.  (Please note I didn't mention the show's name or any other specifics; that controversy died and I'd like it to stay dead in terms of people finding my blog!)

The only downside to all of that hubbub was the nasty messages I got from people who believe that adoption is a tragedy - some of them believe this regardless of any circumstances.  They believe that the biological family is best for a child no matter what.  Most of the people who messaged me were quite angry and bitter, and it became clear that for the most part, they were angry and bitter about their own past decisions or issues.

One woman in particular stuck out, as she was intelligent and articulate but very condescending and insulting toward me personally.  (I'm not going to say her name here because I don't want Google seeing that, and also because I don't want to direct any extra attention to her lair of anger.)  If you know me at all, you know I don't mind when people don't agree with me; I even enjoy a good debate if it's kept friendly.  But these people who said such nasty things to me only reinforced my belief that they are just bitter about decisions they made in the past.

The woman that I referred to that was the worst of them, told me that my son is irreparably damaged, will never live a happy life, and would only be a shell of the person he would've been, had his birthmom raised him.  She also compared me, as an adoptive parent, to a prostitute and a drug dealer.  She insisted that adoption simply does not exist without the coercion and manipulation of birthparents.  She is completely certain that every woman who chooses adoption for her child is forced into it by evil baby-hungry agencies or adoptive parents.

Yes, those exchanges were every bit as pleasant as you'd think.

I REALLY wish that this post I'm going to point you to existed at that time. I would have sent this link to her as a final word.  It says everything I was too annoyed to say.  And the author says it well.  So please, go read this, and enjoy its honesty!  I wish I'd written it myself!

An Open Letter to TV

Click that link there!  Go!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Big Post That Starts With A Picture Of What I Had For Lunch Yesterday

Looks pretty tasty, hmm?  Actually, it's pretty darn good.

Back in 2007, when I lost over 75 pounds, I ate a LOT of these frozen meals from several different brands.  Most of them are reasonably tasty, y'know, for frozen diet food.  I knew that I could feel good about eating them because they were helping me lose weight.  I picked some up not too long ago to have on hand at work for days I don't get out for lunch.

Then, shortly after that grocery shopping trip, I discovered the PCOS Diva, aka Amy, and her program.  Actually, that's not true, I'd run across her site a few months ago and I think I automatically dismissed it as "just another diet plan that's impossible to follow."  For some reason, when I stumbled on it this time, it just hit me differently.  I realized it was realistic and relatable.  I read virtually everything on her website.  It all made a startling amount of sense.  Here's a woman with my same condition who is not only surviving it, she's living well with it.  I spoke to her on the phone a few times for some private coaching.  She made me feel so at peace, optimistic, and empowered.  (I had to stop the one-on-one, but will be picking it back up shortly.)

I ordered her summer and fall meal plans.  I spoke to clients of hers that I saw posting on her Facebook page.  I found out that not only is Amy for real, her ideas for living better with PCOS actually work.  She LOVES making women feel better, or rather empowering them to make themselves feel better.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I wasn't paid or compensated in any way to rave about Amy or her website or program.  She doesn't even know I'm writing this.  I'm hoping she won't mind.  I am just truly excited about this.)

Thanks mostly to a couple of people in my life who are healthier than me, and Amy, I've had this enormous epiphany in the last couple of months about the things I put in my body and the effects they have on not only my body but my mind, my emotions and my future.  I have always eaten almost exclusively processed foods, and not usually even the health(ier) ones.  I eat a lot of junk.  It's easy, it's quick, and it's a lifelong habit of mine.  I grew up loving Swanson TV dinners, Chef Boyardee ravioli and Hamburger Helper.  Needless to say, it was a different time.  Mom and Dad always made sure we had veggies with dinner, but the 'whole foods' craze just didn't exist, at least not with anyone I knew.  And without the internet, how would we have really learned so much about it, anyway?

I've spent the last few weeks slowly stocking my pantry with foods that are truly good for me (and that are recommended by Amy).  I've become acquainted with that section of the store that I had always avoided before because it smelled funny.  You know the one.  "Natural foods."  "Organic foods."  Or in our house, the "hippie section" or "granola land."  I was pleasantly surprised to start learning a lot about food.  I would make trips to the grocery store just to wander up and down these aisles.  It was as if I'd discovered a whole new side of life.

I've now got a handsome stash of foods like flaxseed (which I am proud to say I ground myself, thankyouverymuch!), chia seeds, raw cacao powder, organic almonds and sunflower seeds, gluten-free bread (which I didn't even know existed before), steel cut oats, organic coconut oil, and so much more.  Once I was satisfied with my stash, which happened to be yesterday, I finally made the trip to the store that committed me to this whole new way of thinking.  The produce run.  Gasp!  The point of no return.  I bought strawberries, green beans, limes, bananas, cucumbers, carrots, onions, spinach, mixed greens, green onions, pears and more.  All organic.

I looked, bewildered, at my selections as they traveled down the belt to the cashier.

When did I become one of those people?!

November, 2012.  That's when.  I'm so excited... and a little nervous.  The weight loss will be nice, but mostly I am looking to feel better, live longer, and enjoy life more.  My heart and my gut are both screaming at me that this is GOOD for me and definitely the way I should go.  It'd be really absurd not to give it an honest try.  And even though gluten-free bread scares me a little (what do they use instead?!?), this doesn't feel temporary.  I think this will be permanent.  And I think that 2012 will go down in my history book as the year things changed.

So, about yesterday's lunch?  Truth be told, I had to eat it, because I didn't have any other options.  We were short handed at work and I couldn't leave.  And my body doesn't like going without food for 12 hours. So, down it went.

What's in that, anyway?  Turkey is good for you, right?  Mashed potatoes, ehh, I could do better, but I could do a lot worse too.  Sounds harmless enough.  Then I started really paying attention, in keeping with my new dietary existence.

Ingredients: MASHED POTATOES (water, potatoes, margarine [soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, water, salt, monoglycerides, soy lecithin, sodium benzoate, artificial flavor, beta-carotene (color), vitamin A palmitate], dehydrated potatoes with sodium acid pyrophosphate added to maintain color, cream powder [cream, soy lecithin, ascorbyl palmitate], maltodextrin, roasted garlic puree, nonfat dry milk, salt, parsley, spice, chives, mono & diglycerides, dehydrated garlic, xanthan gum, extractives of black pepper), GRAVY (water, modified corn starch, turkey flavored gravy paste [corn oil, modified cornstarch, wheat flour, turkey and turkey broth, whey, turkey fat, salt, yeast extract, sauteed carrots, hydrolyzed corn gluten, flavor (turkey fat, natural flavors, spices), soy sauce solids (wheat, soybeans, salt), disodium inosinate and guanylate, dried chicken meat, caramel color, chicken fat, butter (cream, salt)], rendered chicken fat, carrot juice oncentrate, salt, dextrose, dehydrated chicken broth, natural flavors, autolyzed yeast extract, spice, xanthan gum, chicken fat, caramel color, chicken broth, soy lecithin, flavorings), COOKED TURKEY BREAST MEDALLIONS (turkey breast meat, water, seasoning [autolyzed yeast extract, maltodextrin, salt, turkey flavor, turkey stock, flavor, gum arabic], modified cornstarch, salt, canola oil, carrageenan, sodium phosphate, natural flavoring, paprika).

Oh dear.  Soy... so bad for PCOS.  Hydrogenated, hydrolyzed, pyrophosphate, diglycerides, autolyzed, modified?!  These are all words that don't exist in the foods I know (now) are good for me.  Eating that meal felt like going out to dinner with someone with intentions of breaking up with them before the entree arrives.  Like a final meal, if you will.  I admit I enjoyed it, but I also know it's the end of the 'cardboard food' era and I'm not the least bit apprehensive or regretful.

By comparison, my breakfast this morning tasted MUCH better than the frozen meal, and its entire ingredient list was: organic strawberries and bananas, raw cacao, chocolate protein powder, flax, organic almond milk, organic baby spinach (you really cannot taste it, I swear!) and ice.  It took me less time to prepare than the microwave meal.  Plus, who doesn't love throwing a bunch of stuff in a blender and making something new?! My two year old even loved it, which should tell you something.

Suddenly, this is a no-brainer, isn't it?  Oh, and did I mention I didn't have indigestion afterwards?  And I didn't consume a third of the recommended daily allowance of salt in one sitting?

If you have PCOS, go check the Diva out.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Oh, and wish me luck, wouldja?  I'm excited and committed, but I'm still working against 35 years of habits here.  Support would be mucho appreciated-o.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Six Days!

(Image credit: Google Images)

Thank the good Lord there's only six days left until we elect one of these clowns to be our new/continuing leader.

Maybe I pay more attention now than I used to, but I cannot remember another election that has been so hotly-debated, not only by the candidates, but by pretty much everyone in the country.  Facebook has been on fire with "he said/he said" posts for months, the intensity growing as the big day nears.  That's annoying enough, but the number of people willing to post/re-post these things without spending 15 seconds to verify if what they're posting is even true... is the truly obnoxious part to me.  Would you stand on a street corner and holler that the one guy is a Muslim, or that the other guy pays no taxes?  Probably not.  (If you would, you might just need your head examined.  Just sayin'.)  So don't post that crap online either, unless you can be reasonably and rationally sure that there's truth in it.

Has critical thinking become a lost art form???

Six more days of this nonsense.  Then maybe we can get back to life.  Because honestly, no matter who wins this election, we're going to have the same challenges we have now (at least for a while).  If we conquer some of those, new ones will pop up.  This is just how life works, people.  If the economy continues to improve, or hopefully does so at a faster rate, then something else will become an issue.  Perhaps the International Brotherhood of Turkeys will rise up and firebomb the Butterball factory, and we'll all be eating cheeseburgers for Thanksgiving.  It'll be something.

(Image credit: Google Images)

It's a giant game of Whack-A-Mole.  And though I'm not excited about either candidate per se, and both of them have points and views that I agree with and others that I don't, I can assure you that the United States is not going to crumble into the sea if the guy you don't like gets elected.  It's just not.  The best thing we can do is to educate ourselves, be involved as much as we can tolerate, and endorse the guy (or gal!) that we think will do the best job.  Period.

Posting angry tirades, f-bombs, insults, fake or deliberately unflattering photos, or other junk online is not going to change anyone's mind, except to perhaps show people that you can't make an actual articulate argument to back up your views and have to resort to such forms of persuasion instead.  It's sad.  Some of the most intelligent people I know - and I mean that literally - have been hidden from my feed on Facebook because I just cannot stand the nonsense anymore.  That includes both people I agree with and people I don't.  I get plenty of drama and negativity in my real life, I don't need it online too!

If you want to change the way things are going, I know a really easy way to do it.


Even if you think your vote doesn't matter, do it anyway.  Regardless of whether you and I agree or want the same guy in office.  Just do it.  Do it for me.  Do it for my son.  It's free, it's easy, it's painless, and it's (gasp!) even more powerful than calling the other guy a filthy scumbag on a social networking site.  So vote, early if you have the opportunity and it'll make you feel better.  And then, please... move on and talk about something else.


Monday, October 22, 2012

My Mother Says I Should Blog More

Yes, my mother says I should blog more.  Thing is, I come here and writer's block sets in almost instantly.  I want to tell you how awesome my kid is, but that gets old to read, I know.

I want to tell you parenthood is hard, but as far as the audience of this blog goes, you either know that first-hand or don't want to hear it, because you'd give anything to experience it.

I know.

I'd like to write about how there are people I love who are fighting tough health battles.  But I don't want to be a downer.

I'd love to write about my five-year plan, but quite frankly, there are people in my 'real life' who feel entitled to chime in rather forcefully on major decisions.  People who can't seem to stand the idea that I might do something that isn't in their best interest, regardless of what's in mine or my family's.  And I don't feel like listening to it.

I love this blog and I want to spend more time here, but I don't know how sometimes.

So, help me make my mother happy.  What should I write about??

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Family Stuff

There's something pretty amazing and pretty huge happening in our extended family - well, more specifically, in hubby's family.  It's really wonderful stuff and as much as I HATE it when people leave me hanging with a teaser and no details, that's what I have to do for now.  Suffice it to say it's a big, sensitive issue and it's not my decision when to share, it's hubby's.  Hopefully he'll be ready soon, but whenever he is, you'll be the first to know.

In other news, Aidan has just moved up to a new classroom at daycare and - WOW! - holy brain explosion!!  He's been stringing multiple words together more often, identifying shapes, and all sorts of really nifty stuff.  We're going through a bit of a sleep difficulty phase - and yes, I say WE because when he's not sleeping no one's sleeping - but I know it'll pass.  His little brain is absorbing so much, so fast, that sometimes it can't chill out at night for him to go to sleep.  We'll get through it.

He is also such a crackup these days.  He loves animal sounds.  Last night, Aidan was in his highchair having dinner and I was sitting with him at the table eating mine too.  Hubby had just come in from clearing the snow from the driveway.  (Yes, it's already here!)  I playfully said to hubby as he walked by me and pretended to bump into me, "hey now, no horseplay!"  Well, I had NO idea that Aidan was paying attention at all, but just a fraction of a second after I said that, he started doing his best 'neigh!' sound repeatedly and proudly proclaimed, "horse!"  I thought I would fall off my chair.  I swear, the things they pick up on when you don't think they're paying attention are just mind-boggling.  

He's also learned that he can control people's emotions and actions, to a degree.  He's figured out how to make people laugh when he wants to.  He knows that if someone is sad, a hug will fix it, and he's very good about doling those out when he feels they're warranted.  It's so sweet.  He has actual friends at school now, and when one of them shows up in the classroom, especially one adorable little one named Lyla, he hollers her name and runs to her.  Last month, we saw him tackle-hug little Lily, like something out of a movie.  It was the cutest thing I've ever seen, until they fell down and both cried.  But still.  Super cute.

Of course, along with this realization about controlling people's emotions, he's come to understand that he can also make Mom and Dad upset.  He still occasionally hits when he gets mad.  We're working on it.  It's hard.  It'll be nice when his speech catches up with his emotions and he can say "hey, I'm angry" instead of slapping me on the arm.

There are so many things I want to post about, and so few opportunities to do it.  I'm still looking for that iPhone app that will just pull the information from my head and post it to Blogger.  Any ideas?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Newest, Most Obnoxious Question I'm Asked On a Regular Basis

I don't know how it happened, but somehow our little man just turned TWO years old.

He had a wonderful birthday surrounded by those who love him and I was surprised at how amazingly well he did with it all, considering the recent development of, well, being two.  Yes, we are discovering our independence, and it is a wonderful thing!  (If I keep telling myself that, I WILL eventually believe it, right?)  In all seriousness though, he is doing great, just going through the motions of normal development.  I'm so proud of him and I try hard to remember not to wish even the difficult parts away, because I know I'll miss them.

I spent his actual birthday, though I was at work, reliving every moment of the day he was born.  I was a little surprised that I didn't wake up at 3:05am, which is the time two years ago when we got the call that he was coming.  I noticed the time at 6:14 when he was born, and every hour after that, I remembered what we were doing, how we were feeling, how his birthmom was doing... the whole thing.  I fought tears a few times.  I just still can't get over how lucky we are to have this little angel in our family.

And then it started.

Apparently, there's something about the two-year mark that makes people feel entitled to ask you when you'll be adding another child to your family.

"When's the next one coming?"

"He needs a little brother or sister!"

"Time to have another one!"

And believe it or not, I STILL hear the classic, "You know, now that you've adopted him and he's turned two, you know you're going to get pregnant!"

Seriously?  Was there something in his birthday cake that would make my ovaries not be broken anymore?  That would make my body likely to carry a pregnancy to term if one did occur?  That would suddenly make thousands of dollars appear in my bank account for another adoption?  That would fund several years of child care expenses?  Because if there was, I sure couldn't taste it!

Most people around us know that we never intended to 'only' have one child.  We planned to have two or three kids.  We planned to do this the 'natural' way, getting pregnant about every two years.  We planned for one of us to be able to stay home once the second baby came.  But as we were reminded through the processes of infertility and adoption, life doesn't always go according to plan.  And we're okay with that.  But it seems some other people have an issue with it.  Which is pretty funny, considering they're the ones that none of this has any impact on whatsoever.

Trust me, if it was as simple as pressing a button and having another baby, I would do it today and just figure out the details later.  But it's not that simple for us and that's just how it is.  We are slowly realizing that we are probably going to always be a family of three.  We are happy with our lives the way they are and, under the circumstances, I don't believe that 'forcing it' by adopting another child when we can't afford to is the right thing to do, not for us and not for our son.  And quite frankly, I don't know if I can put my heart out there once again and risk another failed adoption.

So please, be mindful of the things you say, even in jest.  I know I've said this for years, but I feel just as strongly about it now as ever: family planning is an intensely personal decision.  It's truly none of your business what our financial situation is relative to the cost of another adoption.  And it's none of your business what's going on in my uterus, or more accurately, what isn't going on in there.

I know you mean well, I do.  I know you just want me to be happy, and I'm grateful for that!  I'm not angry at all.  I just wish that you could be satisfied with knowing that we're happy with OUR decisions about OUR family whether they're the same ones you would make or not.  And that's all you really need to know.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Payoff!

Aidan's attitude and patience have slowly been improving all week, now that he's out from under Cody's influence.  Again I must say, I didn't expect the difference to be so swift OR so drastic.  But I could not possibly be happier.

His teacher has been filling out a grid-type chart each day this week.  It tells us how he was acting and feeling at each time of the day (early morning, snack time, late morning, lunch time, nap, afternoon, etc.).  It hahs been tremendously helpful for identifying what triggers his frustration.  And since the frustration itself has been melting away a bit, I'm hoping she won't need to do them for long.

Today I got this text from her:

Talk about making my heart sing!!  I knew this whole thing was stressing me out, but I really didn't realize how bad until it started to improve.  It's like 300 pounds has been lifted off each shoulder.  I have fallen in love with my son all over again.  (Not that I ever fell OUT of love with him, just that he was very difficult to be around, a lot, over the past few months.  And to think all this time I thought it was just the early terrible two's.)

Yup.  That's the face of hope.  And I'm soooooo glad to see it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Daycare Trouble Update!

It's a little uncanny the timing of this story - how it played out, anyway.

My last post was from Friday afternoon after the meeting with the director of the daycare center.  We had an action plan.  I was feeling a lot better.

And then we went to pick Aidan up on Friday night.

When we walked in the entrance, there stood the director in the main lobby, waiting for us.  I could tell from the expression on her face that she needed to talk to us sooner than later.  She asked if she could walk us to his classroom and talk on the way.

Turns out she did have that meeting with Cody's mom.  And she - for lack of a better way to say it - kinda freaked out and blamed ALL of this on the lead teacher in the classroom.  I laughed out loud when the director told me this.  Of all the people in the world to blame this on, I can't believe she chose that teacher.  The one who's gone so far above and beyond for this kid, it's absurd.  She's spent her own time researching and trying to find new things to try to make things better, despite the kid's own mother insisting he's a normal toddler and being rude toward her.

Anyway, once Cody's mom started bashing the teacher, the director had had enough (mind you this was not the first meeting they'd ever had, there were tons and tons before, always with similar results)... and so the director told Cody's mom that she stands by her teachers and all they've done for Cody.  She went on to tell his mom that if she was that unhappy with the care he was getting, maybe she should find care elsewhere.  Apparently, Cody's mom replied that he would be gone within two weeks.

WOW!  What a start to my weekend!

On our way to daycare on Monday morning, I thought to myself, "ahh, two more weeks, and then we're on to something better."  Imagine my surprise, then, when we arrived in the classroom to find Cody's mom packing up his cubby.  Cody wasn't there.  She had always been so friendly toward all the other parents; this time she wouldn't even acknowledge me.  I don't think we even made eye contact.  Talk about awkward.

So, Aidan started his week in a whole new - yet very familiar - environment.  I was left hoping that within a couple of weeks we'd start to see changes in him.

Last night, we picked up a happy kid.  We had a lovely evening, the three of us.  No tantrums, no freaking out, no hitting, no attitude, no time-outs, nary a tear was shed.  (Not by him and not by me either!!)  WOW! I chalked this up to coincidence.  Certainly this change couldn't have made this much of a difference in just ONE day, right??

Wrong.  This morning, on the second day Cody-free, Aidan's teacher sent me a text.  Said there'd only been one 'incident' so far today and they were able to work through it without a big problem.  She said she's already noticing he is less frustrated.  And he is talking more!!  I fought tears when I read her text.  Maybe my sweet little boy isn't gone after all!  He was just on an extended vacation for a while.

After all he went through for all those months, I'm glad I finally did something.  I am SO happy that I took a stand when I did.

And with that said, this is a really mixed feeling.  I feel really terrible for Cody and the fact that he probably isn't going to get the help he desperately needs in order to become a successful and happy person.  I don't even know that it would require any sort of intensive help, but either way, he won't get it, because his mother is in denial.  And that is so very sad.

On the other hand, I feel so relieved.  I advocated for my child after putting up with this stuff for WAY too long.  The director and the teachers even told me that the parents in our classroom put up with 'much more than they should have to' throughout all of this.  That felt good.  I didn't run crying to the director at the first sign of trouble (which was well over a year ago).  I waited, and waited, and tried hard to work with the teachers and be a support where I could while also looking out for Aidan's best interest.

For the first time in weeks, I am nearly beside myself with anticipation for picking him up tonight.  (I'm always happy to see him, but for a while, pickup also signaled the start of 2-3 hours of difficulty.  I like this much better!)

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to pick up my little hero!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Toddler Troubles

I know I should probably start this post with an explanation of my more-than-three-month absence (!!)... but I'm not going to.  By the time I got done explaining and apologizing, I'd have already bored you to death.

Things have been good here, with a few rough areas lately.  Nothing major, all little stuff, but it adds up, y'know?

People warn you before you have kids that you will have a whole new world of things to worry about.  They're right.  But of all the things I expected to worry about, there's been one that's sneaked up on me.  It's not a constant worry, but it's more than an occasional one.

I'm terrified of my kid turning out screwed up.  Heh, that sounds absurd even as I type it.  But it's true.

I think this all started because of some problems we've been having at daycare.  First, let me say that I ADORE our daycare.  It's believed by most - myself included - to be the best one in town.  It's really expensive, to the point that it's caused us to make some serious lifestyle changes in order to afford it.  And I wouldn't want to send my kid anywhere else.  Period.

That said, there's a kid in his class, who was also in his infant class, who has been... a problem.  When this other child, who I'll call Cody, started to crawl, he started cruising around the baby room and biting other children on hands, feet, etc.  Anything he could get a hold of.  The teachers would do their best to prevent this, but without the ability to designate one teacher to care for ONLY Cody all day, they can't catch everything before it happens.  They tried to tell his mother what was happening in an effort to get her support with stopping this behavior, but all she does is laugh and say how cute it is.  No matter what he does, it's just cute.  Now, if anyone can understand wanting to believe your child is perfect, it's me, but c'mon.  Let's be realistic here.

Cody has always had very high energy.  I used to playfully (okay, seriously, disguised as playfully) call him spastic.  When we go to drop Aidan off in the morning, Cody is frequently running around in a small circle, head down, as fast as possible, squealing and shrieking for no apparent reason.  He's not a dumb kid, not at all.  He's just... I don't know what he is.  But he's very aggressive, quick to anger, and not very nice a lot of the time.

The teachers have admitted to me that they have to spend more time with Cody than with anyone else.  The lead teacher told me, while fighting tears, that she feels other children in her class, including ours, have suffered because of Cody's issues and Cody's parents' refusal to admit there are any issues.

I originally found out the extent of how bad things have been going when Aidan's teacher started expressing concerns a month or two ago that he isn't talking at school.  The other kids are using two- and three-word phrases, but Aidan is not.  He will label certain things now and then, but mostly he'll just repeat what he's told to repeat.  Which is odd, because at home, he is a total chatterbox.  I've started paying more attention to this both at home and at pickup/dropoff at daycare, and she's right!  I wouldn't say he's withdrawn, but he's quiet and does seem to wander off and do his own thing during free play periods.

Furthermore, he's started mimicking some of Cody's undesirable behaviors like hitting, pinching, etc.  That's when I started really stressing.  When I go pick him up in the evening and his daily sheet says that he was pushing and hitting others on the playground, I have to fight tears.  The last thing I want is for my kid to be a jerk.  I don't care if he's brilliant or not, whether he becomes a doctor or a video store clerk, whether he's gay or straight, whether he has a family or goes it alone his whole life, whether he has tattoos or wears a pocket protector.  But by God, if I have anything to say about it, he's going to be a nice, decent person who treats others with respect and kindness.  On the worst days, I end up leaving daycare afraid I'm raising one of "those" kids.  You know the ones.  Entitled, bratty, full of attitude, rude, inconsiderate.  And the thought kills me.

Just to make absolutely sure that nothing was going on with Aidan developmentally, I contacted a local agency that specializes in this sort of thing.  They told me, based on what I was telling them, that not only did he not need their services, but he wasn't even eligible because they only provide services to children who are at least 50% delayed.  She said that he is either at or above his age level for talking.

So, what to do next?  This whole thing stresses me out.  It's becoming obvious that he doesn't feel comfortable expressing himself verbally at school and is choosing to follow Cody's aggressive lead instead to get his point across.  This is NOT okay with us.  I know that all toddlers do this to an extent, but this is different.  You'll just have to take my word for it.  It's breaking my heart that he knows how to communicate, but either can't or won't in that environment.  The teachers agree with me that Cody's behavior is at least significantly to blame for this problem, but their hands are tied in all sorts of ways.

With Aidan's teacher's permission (encouragement!), I decided to go to observe Aidan's class for my lunch hour yesterday to see if I could identify anything that they weren't seeing, or weren't doing right, or whatever.  What I saw was five toddlers enjoying a free play period, playing nicely for the most part, with baby dolls, bubbles, scarves, trucks, and books.  And then there was Cody.  In my 30-ish minutes peeking through the barely-open door so Aidan wouldn't spot me, I saw Cody throw three different tantrums and demand attention from one or both of the teachers on a nearly consistent basis.  I saw him throw things, hit, pinch, try to bite, cry, scream, throw himself on the floor... and all for what appeared to be no real reason.

I saw two very loving and experienced teachers who have tried everything they can think of to tame this child, integrate him into the class, and who consistently treat him with all the love and respect that they should, even on days when he makes it hard to do so.  I see them becoming tired and frustrated over time and I don't know how much longer they can do it.  They shouldn't have to do it.  It's not fair.

After I observed for a little while, I got to chat with the lead teacher, whom I adore, and while I cried to her (yes, literally, how embarrassing, but I'm just so frustrated)... she validated everything I feel and, once again, made it clear to me that she is committed to continuing to try to make this better.  I asked her if she would mind if I talked to the director of the center.  She lit up like a Christmas tree and told me that would probably be a really good idea.  Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the director was in a meeting, so we made an appointment to meet with her after work.  (I say maybe fortunately because this way, hubby would be there, and I really wanted that anyway.)

I was a nervous wreck going into that meeting, mostly because I don't like to rock the boat, but dangit, this is my kid, and I am his mother, and my job is to be his advocate no matter what.  So if I have to rock the boat - heck, if I have to SINK the boat - that's what I'll do for my boy.

Thankfully, the director is an awesome person.  She's friendly and kind, yet fair and firm when needed.  She knows Aidan from when she was a teacher in the class next to his and she loves him.  She has been in constant communication with the lead teacher about how things are going with Cody and the ripple effect he's been having.  She's had multiple meetings with Cody's mother about the issues.  She continues to deny anything is wrong.  To try to prove it to her, the center even brought in a local agency to observe for a day.  Of course, Cody was a total angel that day, so the observer's report says there's nothing wrong.  And, of course, Cody's mother is hanging her entire mindset on this report and insisting to the daycare that they are just being cruel to her baby.  Uggghhhhh.

The director has been diligently documenting everything in preparation to ask Cody's mother to take him out of the center.  She fully expects fireworks - and not the good kind - when it happens.  She has her head completely in the sand and won't even listen anymore when they try to discuss things that have happened that day at school when she comes to pick him up.  She laughs about it, and sometimes she reminds them that he's basically allowed to do anything he wants.  They have stopped trying to tell her.  And that's how things have been going the last couple of weeks.

We received a lot of compliments that I didn't expect during this meeting.  I hate being that parent who's a pain in the butt and thinks their kid can do no wrong.  I was quick to tell her that I know my son has his own issues and isn't perfect.  But at least we listen to his teachers when they tell us about anything that's going on and we do our best to respond in a quick, responsible and fair manner.  I've never doubted that they look out for him and his best interests, and would have no reason to fib to me.  The director told me, kind of with a giggle, that she and the lead teacher were just talking the other day about what "phenomenal parents" we are.  She thanked us for being so understanding and for communicating with them and having reasonable expectations.  She told us that Aidan is a wonderful child and that he is lucky to have us.  It made me feel so good.  And hopeful.  And like things aren't as bad as they sometimes seem.

By the time the meeting with the director was over, we had a plan for the next few months including Aidan's transition to the next classroom, and a guarantee that he will NOT be going to the same room as Cody, if Cody's even still there by then.  She was planning to call Cody's mother in for yet another discussion, and this time to let her know that other parents are complaining, and try to get her attention to let them bring some outside resources in to figure out what's going on with him.  I really do fear that if she doesn't remove her head from the cavern where she's currently keeping it, that he is going to do very bad things later on.

WHEW.  I needed to unload that.  I hate coming here and whining, but it's nice to get it out.  If you're still reading this, mail me a self-addressed, stamped envelope and I will send you a homemade cookie or twelve!

Aside from all that drama, things are well on the kid front.  He is still adorable as ever, sweet as ever (most of the time) and growing like crazy.  At 22 months, he is wearing 2T pants and 3T shirts; 4T in some of the Old Navy ones!  The other day I noticed him watching out the screen door while Daddy mowed the lawn, and as soon as I snapped a picture, I realized I had taken an almost-identical one last year.  I put them together and....

WOW!!  Hard to believe the difference a year can make.  For one thing, I'm thrilled to report that my child now has a neck!  Ha!  I know I made all that daycare stuff seem catastrophic, but it really is such a small part of our lives with this little boy.  Still, almost two years later, almost every day I am caught off guard again by how blessed we are and how much I love this little creature.  I know I'm not a perfect mom, but I do my best, and when I do make mistakes, I tell him that I'm sorry and I try not to do it again.  That's the best thing I can model for him, after all.

There's so much else going on - like my epic battle with the IRS and my mother cracking her head open - but I'm all typed out for now.  Til next time!

Friday, April 20, 2012

So, About Having a Toddler...

Back when we abandoned infertility treatments and decided to pursue adoption, one of the first questions we had to answer was how old of a child we would hope to adopt. After a lot of discussion and soul-searching, we decided a child 12 months or younger would be our wish. I remember people telling me I was crazy for limiting myself like that. They would say things like, “you should just skip that part, it’s exhausting and messy and just a pain.”

My reply was always the same: “Sure, but I want the baby experience. This might be my only chance to have a BABY, and I’d really like to have that experience.” Most of them rolled their eyes, shook their heads, or both, and sort of left it at that. I usually walked away annoyed. Was it not bad enough that I had already lost my ability to carry and birth a child myself? Now people were telling me I should just hope to skip the entire first couple of years. It really hurt.

We were so fortunate to have been chosen before Aidan was born and, even more-so, for me to be in the delivery room for his arrival. I know I’ve told the story here, but I’m repeating a little bit of it here to make my point. I was with him from his first breath. On his first day of life, he did a lot of sleeping… and a lot of waking out of a dead sleep, out of nowhere, and immediately SCREAMING for a few seconds and falling back asleep. It was unsettling and I didn’t like it one bit. All I could do was comfort him and try not to have a heart attack when he did it.

We later figured out what was causing that and it went away…


I’m going to be honest. My kid has never been a great sleeper. For the first two months of his life, hubby and I took shifts with him in the living room. Hubby covered from about 8pm until about 2am while I slept, then we’d swap and I’d take him from 2am until hubby got home from work. He rarely slept more than two hours at a stretch during this time. His days and nights were completely flip-flopped. Around the two-month mark, we transitioned him to his crib. He did sleep almost through the night one time when he was 5 months, but he was sick at the time, so it was sort of a fluke. Aside from that, he never slept through the night until he was 16 months old.

Even now, he’s not a great sleeper. He regularly wakes up coughing or just tosses and turns a lot. Just recently, in fact, he has started waking up crying “Nooooo! Nooooo!” or “Miiiiine! Miiiiine!” I have no idea what he’s dreaming about, but it doesn’t sound pleasant. Poor little guy.

In terms of other ‘baby experience’ fun, We went through RSV three times (one of those requiring hospitalization), two rounds of bronchiolitis, four cases of pinkeye, two rounds of pneumonia, an allergic reaction to Amoxicillin, hair-follicle-choking cradle cap, hand foot and mouth, strep, colds and flu, terrible constipation, and all the other stuff that comes with the territory.

Yup, aside from childbirth itself, I can definitely say I have now had the baby experience. And I wouldn’t trade it for ANYTHING.

But you know what? This time right here – 18 months, 19 months, THIS is what I always wanted when I wished to be a Mommy. I didn’t really realize it since I’d never been through it firsthand. But this age is so incredibly fun, even despite the recent emergence of strong opinions and various (some inappropriate!) ways of expressing those opinions.

My little boy is, aside from his daddy, my very best friend. We chat, we wrestle, we play, we get silly at mealtime, we both bargain to get our way. It’s so incredible to watch his communication skills explode like they are right now. He has figured out the power of please and thank you. He has begun testing the limits and even has a very distinct facial expression that tells me he’s about to do it. It’s very much a give-and-take relationship in some ways. He’s getting to the age when it’s impractical (impossible?) to FORCE him to do something I want him to do. Sure, I can force him, but by the end of that process, he’s angry, I’m frustrated, and the desired action usually hasn’t been completed.

I’m a huge believer in explaining things to him. (This is not to be confused with needing to get his permission. That’s not what I mean. This also doesn’t mean there aren’t tantrums. There are plenty. It amazes me how many people think that we just cave to this kid all the time. It’s a little offensive when people tell us we need to be tougher, stick to our guns more, be more firm. We are plenty firm with him. Rules are rules and they are to be followed. Safety is paramount. When it comes to most other things, it’s more about ‘pick your battles’ than ‘never let your toddler win a battle.’ He certainly doesn’t win them all – not by a LONG shot – but people seem to not realize that. It’s annoying and I wish people would just keep their philosophies to themselves sometimes.)

Wait, this wasn’t supposed to be a rant post. Oops!

Anyway, I have found that my little miniature grownup responds really well, most of the time, if I explain to him WHY we need to go change his diaper, or WHY we brush our teeth, or WHY we don’t reach up and touch the stovetop. He understands so much more than we have been giving him credit for, and that’s become very obvious in recent weeks.

The other night, we drove past a blue car. He pointed out the window and said “blue!” Whaaaaaaaa?! I mean, sure, we’ve been talking about colors, but he’s never done anything other than repeat my words. I’ll be darned, it’s sinking in! He mimics things that we do, which is so very adorable. He has finally started saying ‘no’ – it wasn’t one of his first words unlike many toddlers. The way he says it is so dang cute. I really need to get a recording of it. The tone can only be described as something like “I’ve carefully considered your offer, and I’m really really sorry, but no.” He sounds so apologetic when he says it. Hilarious.

When he wakes up in the morning, he sits in his crib and talks to himself. It can be babble or actual words, but either way it’s a great sound to wake up to. When he decides he’s ready to get up, he starts calmly, but persistently, calling for one of us. This morning, it was “Mama? Mama? Pleeeeeeease? Mama?” I wish I could think of the words to express how my heart feels when he says this. It feels like it’s overflowing.

He has abruptly started to be aware of his bodily functions. He announces when he’s peed, pooped, or tooted (though he calls that poo-poo as well). I have no idea where he got this from; we hadn’t even started talking about it yet. I was planning to wait until closer to the 24-month mark. I guess maybe other kids at daycare? At first I thought it was just random, then I noticed he was actually using the terms at appropriate times. He’s started expressing disapproval at having a soiled diaper on. Consider my mind blown. We are on the verge of potty training here!

I could go on all night. Suffice it to say I am having so much fun with motherhood right now, even amid (brief) frustrating moments that come with having a 19-month-old. There is nothing I love more in this world right now than watching him soak up his world and teaching things. He thinks I know everything. I am really soaking this up because I know it won’t last long.

Here’s what I’m getting to with all of this rambling.

I don’t know if we’re going to adopt again. I mean, I do want to. I never wanted to ‘only’ have one kid. But if I’m being honest, I just don’t know that I can take another failed placement or even knowing I’m putting myself out there to have it happen again. I still miss Allie every single day. (Her second birthday was last month; emails from her mom are getting less and less frequent, so I suspect this may be the end of that contact. Totally understandable, but still painful.)

But… if we do? I think I will be changing my tune about ages. I’ve now done the baby thing. I don’t feel the need to do it again. I want to grow my family, not to specifically start over from the starting line, if you know what I mean. I don’t miss those sleepless nights, or washing bottles, or worrying myself sick anytime there’s a fever or a wheeze.

This part is SO much more fun.

I just can’t wait to see what’s next.

Friday, March 30, 2012

My First Time Using an Online Customer Service Chat

Last Saturday, we made a trip to our local Barnes & Noble store so Aidan could play with the train set and we could check out books.  Oddly, Aidan was the only one who walked out of there with anything in his hand (funny how that works?)  He fell in love with Ding Dong, Elmo's Here!.

Anyhow, when we checked out, the cashier informed us that our membership was expired and asked if we wanted to renew it.  It definitely paid for itself last year, so I said yes.  She charged us something like $35 and we left.  Today I went to their website to change the address on my account and I noticed that it said my membership was expired.  Hmmm... this happened a few years back with my Sam's Club membership.  Took two months to get it straightened out.

After navigating through 37 different FAQ and customer service screens (or maybe about three), I finally found a phone number to call, however I was already on a conference call.  Alongside the phone number was that button I've seen on so many sites - click here to chat live with a representative!  Oh sure, I thought, why not?

Well, now I know why not.

14:02:48 : Amber: Initial Question/Comment: Last time I was in the store, the cashier asked if I'd like to renew my expired membership. I said yes, and paid, but the website still shows my membership is expired.

14:02:53 : System: Welcome to the Barnes & Noble Chatroom.

14:02:53 : System: Jason has joined this session!

14:02:53 : System: Connected with Jason. Your Reference Number for this chat is 742176.

14:02:58 : System: Thanks for joining us.

14:03:23 : Jason: Hi, Amber. Thank you joining Barnes & Noble Chat Support.

14:03:29 : Amber: Hi there!

14:03:58 : Jason: We regret to hear that the membership still shows expired. I'll be more than willing to check that for you.

14:04:03 : Amber: Great, thanks.

14:05:23 : Jason: In order to assist you, we need you to reply with your Member Name and Member Mailing address on the account.

14:06:00 : Amber: Member name is Amber _____ and the address on the account should be my old one (I was actually logging in today to change my address and phone number). The old one is _______.

14:07:38 : Jason: Thanks for the information. According to our records, your Barnes & Noble Membership will expired on 12/31/2011. If your expiration date has passed, we invite you to continue enjoying the privileges of your Barnes & Noble Membership. Renew your membership online from the "B&N Member Program" link at (click on "renew" in the Member Services menu located at the left of the screen), or if you prefer, just visit your local Barnes & Noble store.

14:07:56 : Amber: I did that already, and paid for the renewal, however it's not showing up on the website.

14:08:10 : Amber: This was last Saturday.

14:09:53 : Jason: I will need some time to thoroughly research your problem. Can I have three-four minutes while I further check? Please stay with me and I will do my best to get right back to you.

14:10:00 : Amber: Sure thing.

14:12:49 : Jason: Thanks for waiting. It seems that the membership was not renewed. Do you happen to remember if they provided you with a new member number?

14:13:16 : Amber: They said my same card would still work. I know for sure they didn't hand me a new card.

14:14:44 : Jason: I suggest that you call the store itself since it is not reflecting on our system. Can I have the zip code and name of the store maybe I could get the phone number for you.

14:15:45 : Amber: I've got the phone number. Thanks for your help.

14:16:04 : Jason: No worries. Is there anything else I can help you with for the meantime?

14:16:19 : Amber: That was all, thanks again.

14:16:39 : Jason: Thanks once again for joining the Barnes & Noble Chat.

14:20:10 : System: The session has ended!

Now, I'm not one to take out my frustration on poor Jason, even if he did seem eerily computerish in his responses.  (Jason isn't real?!?!  Say it ain't so?!?!)

So now, after paying my $25 fee like a good little lemming to save money on books that I probably will only read once anyway, I get to go back into the store sans receipt and convince them that yes, I really did pay?  How exactly will they verify that?  If it's anything like the Sam's Club experience, the Store Manager will need to get involved as well as the Regional Manager, the CEO, and the Pope.  And two months later they'll finally give me my membership.  Maybe.

They'd better, darn it.  Or I'll unleash the fury of an overtired 18 month old on them.

I don't know about you, but I'd much rather think I'm losing $25 (even though I'm not) than deal with that sort of torture.  Stay tuned!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Well... It's Happened.


It has happened.

IT has happened.

I thought I had at least a couple more years yet.  Certainly he'd have to get this idea from someone else.  You know, one of those little deviants at daycare.  The same ones who keep licking his face.  (Well, that's my assumption anyway, that little germ-ridden jerk-children are licking MY child's pure, innocent, germ-free face, otherwise he wouldn't be sick so much... right?)

MY little angel would never think of this.  My baby would never.

And then it happened.

Last week, during bathtime...

My 17-month-old son discovered his penis.

He just looked down, saw it, and thought, "huh, wonder what that is."

I can only describe the next five minutes as the period during which I laughed harder than I have in a long time.  He poked it, prodded it, squeezed it, tickled it, pulled on it, pushed it in, smushed it, and even cleaned it meticulously with his washcloth.  All while staring either directly at it, or absently at the wall, mouth agape, in utter shock at this new toy he never realized was there.

And daddy shook his head while stifling laughter.

And mommy died a little inside.

(But only from oxygen deprivation from hysterical laughter.)

Seriously though, it was stinkin' hilarious.  I really did think we'd at least pass his second birthday before he noticed it, but nope.

So yeah, that question's been answered.  Y'know, the question of whether they learn to play with it all day or if they come pre-wired that way.  Definitely pre-wired.

Is it too early to enroll him in a 12 step program?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Talking Talking Talking!

We're in the process of finishing the latest battle with RSV/bronchiolitis here.  It's not been fun, but nothing keeps our boy down - not even spending a night in the hospital with oxygen.  He doesn't miss a beat!

One of the most enjoyable things about this time in Aidan's life is watching his language development explode!  He has said the basics (Mama, Dada, dog, etc) for months, but in the past few weeks, his vocabulary has increased by a huge amount!

Words used regularly (some constantly, ha!):
  • Mama
  • Dada
  • Dog ("dog-dog," actually)
  • Puppies
  • Water
  • Milk
  • Juice ("juuuuuuuuuice!")
  • Chicken
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Cheerios ("cho-cho's!")
  • Crackers
  • Cookie
  • Waffles
  • Banana
  • Pears
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Pizza
  • Bread
  • Cup
  • Up
  • Down
  • Please
  • Book
  • Wow!  (This is the CUTEST thing I have ever heard because of the tone he uses!)
  • Ball
  • Toys
  • Snow
  • Window
  • Bye-bye
  • All done
  • More
  • Stairs
  • Diaper
  • Car
  • Truck
  • Bus
  • Trees
  • School
  • Grandma
  • Grandpa
  • Other relatives' names
  • Night-night
  • Shirt
  • Pants
  • Socks
  • Jammies
  • Phone
  • Legos
  • Santa
  • Pretty
  • Toes
  • Eye
  • Nose
  • Mouth
  • Chin
  • Ears
  • Bath
  • Tub
  • Fish
  • Towel
  • Bubbles (which he uses for the bubbles in the tub as well as falling snow!)
Geez, I didn't even realize how many there were until I started typing this list.  I'm sure I've missed a few.

I can't believe that I have a little talker on my hands!!  So much fun.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

An Outstanding Read

(Image courtesy The R House on EtsyGo check their adoption stuff out!)

You must, must, MUST read THIS POST over at The R House - which is, by the way, one of my very favorite blogs!

Whether you're intimately involved with open adoption or barely know anything about it, you need to read this.  THIS is what open adoption is all about.  For all parties, it's about sacrifice, selflessness and most of all, pure love for a child.

This post (mine, not hers) is dedicated to all those people who sent me messages during all the pet-ition hubbub a few months ago telling me what an awful human being I am for adopting my son.  The same people who assumed that I was going to lie to him his whole life about who gave birth to him... and hide his original birth certificate from him (because apparently we're back in 1957 again).  The ones who compared me to a drug dealer or a pimp, or who accused me of buying my son.  And my personal favorite, the one in particular who 'informed' me that my son is irreparably damaged and will never be well-adjusted or happy in his life because I 'ripped him from his real family.'

Read that post and realize that open adoption, when done right, is an amazing, incredible, beautiful thing and that the children in these open adoptions are happy, well-adjusted, successful, and very loved!

Okay.  Putting my soapbox away.  For now...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Second Fiddle

See that over there?  -------------->

That's a link to my crafty blog.  You should go follow it.  That would make me really happy.

Oh, and while you're there following it, you should also read it.  The new Idea Book just came out and HOLY COW, is self-control in short supply for me right now.  The rush of orders I've taken from customers recently proves I'm not alone in that opinion!  One other note, don't forget we have digital scrapbooking program too.

* * *

You know what's hard?  Suffering through years of infertility, years of medical intervention, years of adoption waiting, and three failed adoptions, only to end up as second best in the eyes of your kid!

For as long as he's been alive, Aidan has preferred the company of his daddy to that of his mom.  Except for two days.  Yes, I have had two glory days out of almost 17 months.  Seems fair, no?

Now that hubby and I are carpooling, we drop him off and pick him up at daycare together instead of me doing it alone.  And every afternoon when we walk in, he sees me, smiles, then sees Daddy, chucks whatever he has in his hand(s), and runs frantically toward him with his arms up, squealing with glee.  It's the sweetest thing in the world!  I'll admit that on Friday, I deliberately stood between the two of them, hoping to be the recipient of this shower of affection.  What did the little turkey do?  He ran AROUND me to fling himself into Daddy's arms.  So funny!

Okay, don't get me wrong, I am over-the-moon THRILLED that they are such good friends.  I really am.  There are so many kids who don't have dads like he has, and that's just a shame.  Dads who wrestle around on the floor with their kids every single day, or who don't shy away from hugs and kisses or saying they love them.  So there's no way I'd trade the benefits of their relationship (for BOTH of them) for anything.  But I'll be honest, it would be nice if I was first choice sometimes.

Hopefully my time will come... before he leaves for college!

Daddy & Aidan cruising for manly things last weekend.
This was the first time we've ever let the boy have free run
in a store like this... mostly because it was Super Bowl
Sunday and the store was completely dead.
Boy, did he have fun! So cute to watch.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Y'Know What Really Grinds My Gears?

Did you see what I did there?  I made a Family Guy reference.  Didja catch it?

All sorts of things are just bugging me this week.  And we all know misery loves company, therefore I present to you my list of irritants.

  • It's been COLD.  Yes, I know it's Alaska.  Yes, I know it's supposed to be cold.  Yes, I know I hate the heat and therefore try to never complain about the cold.  But I am getting TIRED of it!  We had one of the coldest Novembers on record and now one of the coldest Januarys.  It's cold, it's dark, we can't go out and do anything... I'm over it!!  Please remind me of this post in July when I start whining that it's 85° and nothing is air conditioned.
  • Amy Winehouse is dead.  She's been dead for a while now.  She was no revolutionary.  She was a dopehead who happened to have some musical talent.  Which she totally wasted by choosing to remain a dopehead.  Sure, a new CD released posthumously is to be expected, I suppose.  But the way people are still talking about her and pumping out calendars, clothing, you name it... it's just absurd.
  • The stomach flu (or, more likely, some mutant virus) has had a hold on our house for over a week now.  We have all been feeling terrible, tired, and cranky.  The other night I threw up 13 times in 6 hours.  OVER IT.
  • Hate to shatter anyone's dreams with this one, but none of the presidential candidates (from any party) is the next Messiah. No one has a magic wand that can fix what's wrong in a day, a week, a month or even a year.  Let's just all try to educate ourselves, watch debates, be mindful of where information comes from before we believe it, and vote with our hearts and our heads.  And for the love of all that is holy, please do vote.
  • Speaking of being mindful of where information comes from, I swear I'm going to unleash this irritated fury on the next person who sends me a stupid email based on nothing but tinfoil hat paranoia about something the president or Congress or someone is doing.  Yesterday it was "OMG! Effective immediately, we all have to pay 3.8% sales tax when we sell our house!!"  Puh-lease.  Do some freaking research before you pass that crap on.  The only way to kill a parasite (lie) is to starve it (not forward it).
  • Two months in a row now, our electric bill has been over $220.  This is ridiculous.  The bill I just got yesterday was for $227.  Of that, $87 was electricity.  The rest was for the oil they use to generate the electricity itself (and a few fees/taxes).  What?  Are you telling me there's no better way and no one's getting rich out of this deal?  I'm not buying it.  This means that between heat, water, and electricity, it cost us almost $600 last month just to not freeze to death and to be able to bathe and drink water.  I'm angry.
  • Did I mention we are still paying more for gas than the vast majority of the country?  Did I mention we have a refinery within 20 miles where the crap is made?  Yeah.  You have to run your car a lot when it's -45°... it's not cheap.
Don't get me wrong, most of everything here is just peachy.  We all have a bad week now and then, no?

So, what's grinding your gears?!

(On one happy note, go check out my CRAFTY BLOG if you haven't already... I've been busy!)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Words to Live By

This morning, a friend tweeted a link to a post on a blog I'd never seen before.  It is just three sentences, but they are powerful.  And I wish everyone thought more like this.  Our world would be a much better place.

"One option is to struggle to be heard whenever you're in the room...
Another is to be the sort of person who is missed when you're not.
The first involves making noise. The second involves making a difference."

Read that again.  And a third time, if you think it's worth it.


I like to think I'm in the second crowd, but I suppose most of us would.

I used to catch a lot of heat for being the quiet and shy type.  Still do, now and then.  But school was the worst.  From grade school all the way until I graduated, I was known as the quiet type.  I was recently referred to by an old classmate as "a brainy one."  Uhh... thanks?

Truth is, I get a lot more out of listening to others, and watching others, than I do out of being heard myself in most situations.  Sure, I have stuff to say now and then like anyone does, but I'm not a person who thinks their ideas will change the world.  I think some people like that are presumptuous, even if they're right and they're brilliant.  Even if going out of their way to be heard means more personal or professional success, a higher paying job, or a new invention that will do the laundry while I'm at work.  (Okay, okay, I'd forgive that person if I got a free prototype.) 

I may be intelligent enough to dress myself in the morning and I may be educated according to a piece of paper in my file cabinet, but I don't believe I am superior to anyone else and I like that about myself.  The guy who picks up our trash on the curb on Wednesdays is quite possibly more intelligent, or educated, or creative, or business savvy, or a better parent, than I am.  I don't feel threatened by that.  And that's why I'm okay letting others talk while I listen.  Maybe I'll learn something.  A new idea, a different perspective.

I'm not threatened, either, by people whom I disagree with about politics or other issues.  I don't believe that someone is automatically wrong, mistaken, misinformed or stupid if we don't agree about who the best president would be or where our tax dollars should go.  Everything that person has experienced in their life has led them to the beliefs they have; who am I to say that their experiences are any less important than mine? I think that a discussion with someone who is on the other side of an issue from me can only bring me more knowledge and more tolerance.

Besides... I'd always rather be the type that is missed rather than heard.  If I'm missed, that means someone cares about me.  If I'm heard, it means someone else has ears.

That's a no-brainer.

Friday, January 6, 2012

One of Those Obnoxious Parenting Stories

Now that Aidan is in the big-boy room at school (read: no longer in the infant room), we have a new dropoff routine. There are two classrooms for his age side by side.  His teacher doesn't actually start work until 15-20 minutes after I drop off, so our new morning routine is that we go into his classroom, take off his coat, hang it up in his cubby, then walk next door and play in the other classroom with that teacher.  Then when his teacher gets in she picks him up. About a half-hour after I drop him off, once he's back in his own classroom, they have breakfast.  It's good food, too.  Pancakes, waffles, french toast, something like that, along with a fruit and milk, usually.

So this morning we went in, took off his coat, and as I was trying to get it hung up, I had my back turned to him. (Mind you we were the only two people in the classroom.) When I turned back toward him, he had marched over to the wall where they keep the little plastic chairs. He took one off the top of the stack, put it on the floor, pushed it over to the little table where they eat their meals. He climbed in it, looked around for a minute, looked at the table in front of him, looked around the room again, looked at the (offensively empty) spot on the table in front of him, and gave me a look that I can only describe as, "dude... where are the pancakes?!?!"

Oh, I could have died.  I don't think he appreciated how hard I laughed at him, but this may have been the cutest thing I have ever seen.  No discussion, no asking permission (which normally comes in the form of pointing at something and going "eh? eh?"), nothing.

He just took charge.

Because for crying out loud, what's a toddler gotta do to get some pancakes around here?!

Yup. That's my boy.