Friday, December 26, 2014

Things I've learned after being a mom for two whole weeks:

My nine year old son is adorable and reserved, and some days just watching him sleep is enough to make me cry.

We need more cups with lids.  

I feel like I've known him forever and he absolutely belongs in our family.

And then I'll suddenly be reminded of how much of his day to day life up until now we know very little about. We know the big stuff, but the little stuff we don't. Like what movies has he seen? What was his favorite toy as a toddler?

Not all kids see the beauty in taking apart Legos after they've already been put together.

He is an expert eye roller, button pusher, negotiator and video game trash talker. Like most nine year olds.

He and our Scottie dog Mac were instant best friends.

He has such a generous and kind heart, plus the sass and blatant disregard for what we are asking him to do at any given moment.

I've colored and drawn more in the last few days than in years. I've loved it as much as he has.

My level of exhaustion is something I only vaguely remember from pulling a couple of all nighters in college, only minus the three hour nap the next day, and make that several all nighters in a row. And he's not even a newborn.

Boys burp and fart with abandon and find each of these activities as funny as I find David Sedaris.

The constant alertness and wariness and watching him and making sure he's safe and clean and being smart and not eating his egg drop soup like an angry wombat is something that you just don't completely get until you're a parent. You think you do, you don't.

Christmas is so much louder, earlier, gigglier, and more magical than before. Seeing my kid's face light up talking about Santa was the best. But I did miss a little napping and reading this year.

Sharing our kid with our extended family has been such a joy. Watching Xavier click with his uncles and cousins and hug his three grandmas, high five his two grandpas, it made me smile wide every time. Ok, I cried some too. I'm a wuss.
The love I have for him is intense and overwhelming sometimes, and then it's often immediately followed by simmering frustration or unbridled bafflement. But the love itself never goes anywhere. It's there, helping you tamp down the desire to scream "Stop being such an asshole!" at your long eyelashed, dimpled kiddo smiling with mischievous glee.

I want so much for him in his life. And thinking farther ahead than just a few weeks or months is more than I can handle right now.

Watching my husband be a dad is the best. He's firm and gentle and so warm with him. It makes me love him more than I can say. And believe me, I already had a serious thing for the guy.

Our family is so new. So fragile, and yet I think it is built with three stubborn, strong, bright, independent, and most of all, loving people. 

And this kid is the toughest, most amazing little person. I feel like our biggest job as parents is going to be helping him shed the behaviors that have been important to his survival in the past, but will get in the way of his happy future. And I think the three of us can do it together. With the loving support and encouragement of our family and friends. I feel like we're all going to need pretty sturdy helmets for the ride ahead. But what an exciting long ride it's going to be! I'm so glad he's ours. And I'm so proud to be Xavier's mom.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Escaping the Wallflower

Getting dressed in the morning had devolved into five minutes of standing there and staring at it all. All the sweaters and skirts and shoes and pants. Just hanging there..... taunting me. Then I'd try on four different combinations and end up wearing one of the six or seven default outfits that I end up wearing repeatedly. Over and over again.

@hilaryrushford  Pumpkin & Spice with a little husband photo bomb. #StyleMeNovember
11-1: Pumpkin and Spice, with husband photo bomb
I'd gotten tired of everything in my closet. I'd gotten tired of thinking that I'd lose some weight before I bought anything new. Or I'd get a new wardrobe when I lost this magical weight that I'm always thinking of losing. I'd suddenly start dressing in a newer, bolder, riskier way. That feeling got old. I like how I dress just fine most of the time. I don't need a What Not to Wear intervention. It's not bad. But it's not outstanding. It's not risky and only occasionally bold. Because I have some arbitrary rules in my head about what a plus size woman can and should wear.

The goal in plus size fashion seems to be anything that makes us disappear into the sidelines. Key words being "slimming" "dark" "figure flattering" "matronly". But I don't live a life on the sidelines. I'm not a wall flower. I'm not old. I'm not shy. I'm not hiding my body. My body is fine. It may not be my ideal, but it's strong and serves me well and it's proportional. I'm not a model. I'm not an actress. I'm a real live human woman and I want getting dressed in the morning to be more fun. Without having to be a size 6 and without feeling guilty or bad about myself because I'm not a size 6. And sure, I want to wear things that are flattering, but that doesn't mean everything needs to be navy or black or a baggy tunic. And plus size fashion has gotten a lot better in the last several years. It's my rules that need freshening up.

Through Instagram a few weeks ago, I happened to stumble upon some great webinars on the Dean Street Society website presented by Hilary Rushford. She's a former Broadway musical actress turned stylist, fashion guru, and inspirational entrepreneurial coach. She's a delight. Energetic, funny, bold, and very down to earth. So I watched the entire series, 3 Steps to Simplified Style. I watched a couple of them a couple of times. I took notes. I wrote down everything I wore in the month of October, just as Hilary recommended. And it was a fashion revolution for me!

I felt so snazzy in my blazer it was almost like I got out of bed early enough for church.
11-2: Blazering a Trail for Sunday

I know that sounds silly. I have a nagging, bitchy voice in my head that says it's shallow to worry about clothes and how you look. But I think that voice is wrong. Because I've felt more powerful, more attractive, sexier, and bolder in the last month than I have in awhile. Getting dressed is fun again. The 3 Steps changed the way I look at my closet, myself and my need to buy anything new. I'm shopping from my own closet, and it's wonderful. So this month I'm following along with the Style Me November daily prompts from Dean Street, one prompt per day to help spark your creativity and mix up your wardrobe, motivating you to try new things. Get out of your rut.

It's silly. But mixing patterns makes me nervous. So here we go. #sailorstripes and floral for #stylemenovember
11-3: Sailor Stripes, otherwise known as mixing patterns makes me nervous

And the first 7 days have been a kick so far. Posting photos to Instagram, and joining the community of other women interested in the merry side of getting dressed each day. I've been inspired. I've taken risks. I've had a blast. And I think everyone needs a little more fun in their mornings. So these are my first seven outfits from Style Me November. I'll probably wear most of them again. Some I love more than others, but I can't wait to see what I'll end up pulling together next week. So join me over on Instagram or just in your own closet, and add some joy back into getting dressed. No rules, just creative prompts and that pleasurable little shiver you get when you know you look great! And that feeling is never shallow. It's powerful.

I'm calling this look Flamboyant Han Solo. #stylemenovember #whitenight
11-4: White Night- I call this one Flamboyant Han Solo

Let's call this one Elsa Gets An Office Job. #stylemenovember #onceuponanecklace #letitgo
11-5: Once Upon a Necklace, or Elsa Gets an Office Job

I'm calling today's look: Dorothy, Vice President of Oz. #stylemenovember #menswearmaiden
11-6: Menswear Maiden, or Dorothy, Vice President of OZ

Today's theme is a steal on sale. Free counts as a steal, right? This white sweater courtesy of my generous shopaholic friend Tara! Thank god we're the same size! She buys, gets bored, and gives it to me. #stylemenovember
11-7: A Steal on Sale, or free stuff from Tara is the best.

Here are the prompts if you want to join us!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

We're Back in the World Series, Baby!

The last time the Kansas City Royals made it to the World Series I was ten years old. I was lucky enough to attend Game 7 in 1985 and I'll never forget it. But I'm thirty nine now. So it's been awhile. And while I'm not pretending to be a rabid baseball, or even sports fan, I'm a Royals fan by birth. As the stakes kept increasing with each game this year, all I could think of was how excited and giddy my grandfather would have been to watch his boys in blue finally succeed. I'm actually really excited too. I wrote this post a few years ago for a Blogher article and it just seems completely perfect to re-post again today, the day after our Royals, my home town team, clinched their spot in the World Series after a four game sweep. My town is covered in joyous blue today, (even the celebratory donuts I brought to work are blue!) and I know my grandparents would have been the loudest, most jubilant fans if they were here to enjoy it! So this one's for you, Grandma and Pa-Dad!

Grandma rocking the cat eye sunglasses at the Royals game in the 1970's.

I'm not a fan of the sports. I never have been. I don't know why exactly. Maybe it was my first memory of organized sports, playing on a soccer team as a seven or eight year old. I remember we lost every single game. As a team we got one goal, maybe two, and I remember standing around a lot wearing smelly shin guards and short shorts. One season and this book worm was done. Or maybe it was attending one too many soccer or baseball or football games for my younger brother, the little jock.

Those shorts came up to my armpits.

This post was going to be entirely about how I'm not a sports fan, I don't watch, I have a reputation for reading Vanity Fair back issues while everyone else curses at the TV as the Chiefs inevitably choke. But then I realized something. I have spent most of my life in Kansas City and our town is lucky enough to have both a major league baseball team and an NFL team. I didn't attend my first Chiefs game until just a couple of years ago, but I pretty much grew up at Royals Stadium. Now Kauffman Stadium.

My grandparents had season tickets to the Royals for a very long time, most of my childhood I think. They had four seats about twenty rows back along the third base line. They brought my brother and me all the time for weekend games. All the time. We would spend the night at their house, sometimes the whole weekend, swim in their pool, eat Kraft macaroni and cheese with hot dogs for dinner and our choice of Grapenuts or crullers for breakfast the next day (crullers are basically French toast dipped in cinnamon and sugar instead of butter and syrup, kid heaven.) We'd swim and play card games with my grandmother until we were exhausted, sunburned and pruney fingered. After dinner we'd get in our pajamas, (I was always giddy to borrow one of my grandma's pretty, shiny, colorful nightgowns,) and we would end the night by jumping on their king-sized bed which was decked out in the most beautiful patchwork velvet bedspread. We'd climb in bed between them and watch Benny Hill on their tiny TV, we would laugh along with my grandfather, though I never understood why the old chubby guy chasing young girls was funny, we would fall asleep and they would gently wake us up and send us off to our own beds. Because we needed a good night's sleep for the best part of the weekend coming up, the Royals game.

My grandparents lived just a few minutes from the stadium and for the longest time I actually thought they owned it. It was right by their house and they were there constantly, they knew everyone and had multiple signed baseballs from the team, an enormous range of Royals clothing and paraphernalia, including my grandmother's light up Royals earrings, oh yes, you read that right. All of these things together, in my seven year old head, meant that they must own the stadium. Seemed logical at the time. Game day we arrived at the stadium, ran ahead of our grandparents straight to our seats, and before sitting and eating our weight in cotton candy and nachos, we would scurry right down to the edge of field and look at all the players warming up. Sometimes we'd get signatures for my brother's baseball or laugh at the antics of the San Diego Chicken. And then it was game time.

I always half paid attention. My grandfather made sure we watched, at least some of the time. He did a thorough and diligent job explaining the rules and detailing the strengths and weaknesses of all the players. This was in the Royals heyday of the 1980's: Dan Quisenberry, Bret Saberhagen, Frank White, George Brett (he was my favorite and we once ran into him at a local restaurant, he was very gracious, I had a bit of a crush on him.) We even got to attend Game 7 of the 1985 World Series. I remember the chaos and glee as the fans rushed the field when we won.

A 98 degree July day at the K with the family.

But the games weren't about the actual baseball for me. It was about spending time with my grandparents. It was about hanging out with my little brother and collecting those plastic batting helmet sundae cups for him. It was about running full tilt up the twisty ramp to the upper levels and back down again so fast it made us dizzy. It was about feeling like I had a second home, not just at my grandparent's house but at their stadium. And maybe that's what sports are really about. People feeling a connection to a place, a stadium, a team of athletes with daunting impressive talent, that second home where all of your friends and family are, oh, and the beer. So while I may not be a sports fan, I will always love the Royals and that stadium, no matter what it's called now. To me it will always be Herb and Mary's, Grandma and Pa-Dad's. And now I can't wait to pass down these same experiences with our kiddo.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I'm the Worst and the Best

Things I'm the Worst at right now:

Taking criticism without getting defensive
Doing my hair in any style but straight and down
Applying liquid eyeliner without redoing it three times, maybe four
Not cleaning the house if people are coming over
Sticking with one book and not trying three others before I land and finish one
Sharing the remote
Not over analyzing everything, everything
Letting the dishes sit over night
Delayed gratification
Not comparing myself to other people
Being completely spontaneous 
Making large changes outside of my routine without agonizing over them
Eating all the veggies I buy and plan to cook before they go bad
Not laughing without a bit of a snort 
Doing things I'm not good at until I get better at them

(After 30 minutes of practice, I'm slightly better at the liquid liner.)

Things I'm the Best at right now:

Making quick decisions without regrets
Listening to you, closely
Making the bed everyday
Wearing brooches and scarves
Picking books for other people
Putting myself in your shoes, though not literally because I'm guessing my feet are bigger than yours
Baking things you'll want to eat seconds of
Reading more than one book at a time
Managing multiple deadlines and projects and people personalities
Dog walks through leaves
Knowing a wide range of historical slut shaming terminology
Assuming the worst in any serious situation 
Crying while watching anything vaguely emotional
Eating all kinds of interesting things, even eel
Singing along to every song I love with loud joy, and totally off key
Loving you
Saying no
Appreciating your tiny lovely quirks
Buying lip gloss that's always too pink and never quite red enough

How about you? What are you terrible at today? What are you the queen or king of doing well?

Friday, October 03, 2014

Friday 5: James Dean, Jesus and Han Solo

It's Friday. The weekend is upon us. And since I'm trying to get back into this regular blogging gig, I thought I would cheat a little today and visit the Friday 5 site for some writing inspiration. They always post an interesting set of questions on a theme each Friday. So today's theme is: Rebellion. After answering these five questions, I realized, well hell, I'm not much of rebel. Never have been. But I am in my heart. Han Solo, James Dean, Jesus. Rebels are the best.

In what ways have you rebelled against your upbringing?

I'm not sure. I don't think my parents had any kind of clear philosophy in raising us. They are both so different from each other and once they got divorced it was like being raised in two very different and separate families. So which one was I rebelling against? Neither really. I mean, I made some choices neither would have liked. But I work hard. I'm happily married. I'm independent and assertive. I still live in my home town, because once I moved away I realized how great it actually was. I think these are all things that my parents wanted for me, because they make me happy. They didn't raise us in their images or as a way to live through us, so I don't feel like I've had to rebel much. I'm sure they would answer this question differently.  At most my tiny rebellions include:

  • I don't attend church regularly like we did as kids. I guess I consider myself Methodist still, but I can't remember the last time I attended church except for Christmas and christenings.
  • I do have a couple of tattoos, and I know they both hate that. 
  • I curse a lot. 
  • And if I even say the word "masturbation" in front of my mom, she loses her cool. So I mention that often, because it's still fun at 39 to make your mom lose her cool. Ok, I'm a rebel.

In what ways have you rebelled against your schooling?

I don't really think that I have in a traditional sense. Other than not following the typical four years of college, then job or grad school plan that most of my friends have followed. I struggled with serious depression off and on while I was in college, so school was really challenging for me. I finished and graduated, but it wasn't on a traditional timeline and I was disappointed in myself because of that. I still am sometimes. But because of it, I didn't have a perfectly clear plan or a formal structure to rebel against. My parents never told me I had to grow up and be a doctor or a lawyer. They let me figure it out. And they paid for my therapy, bonus points to the parents. 

I've always loved writing, reading, helping people, teaching. Early on in college I thought I wanted to be a journalist or college level English professor. Through a volunteering job, I fell in love with social work, but ultimately my degree and certifications aren't in either subject. Now as a development director for nonprofits, I think my schooling and work experience and long time passions and even my past depression and struggles have all combined to fit my career choice quite perfectly. And the depression has been under control for over a decade. So what do I have to rebel against? Nothing. I kind of figured out my own path and made it work, even with some serious missteps of my own making during college. I give my parents credit for helping me figure things out and giving me the space and support so I could figure things out in my own time.

In what ways have you rebelled against American culture?

What does that even mean? Is there an American culture? Aren't we too spread out and diverse and "insert melting pot/salad bowl metaphor here" to say we have one culture? Don't we all get to influence our own culture or find our own niche and community? But let's pretend that the culture that The Today Show or Oprah or Bill O'Reilly wants to sell me is the universal American cultural truth. In that case, I don't really like sports. I'm not religious. I've never watched much NASCAR or pro-wrestling. I'd give up TV before I'd give up books. But I do love apple pie, hot dogs, fireworks, wide open prairies, freedom, Bruce Springsteen, Boulevard beer and driving my car down a long stretch of deserted road. 

Is it possible to rebel against yourself?

Maybe against your best self, your ideal self, the self that creates unattainable New Year's resolutions. I rebel against my best intentions entirely too often. I need to make a resolution about that. Or read another Life Hacker article.

What’s your favorite song about rebellion?

For singing along, Rebellion (Lies) by Arcade Fire. For yelling along and punching the air with my rebellious fist, Oh Bondage Up Yours by X-ray Spex.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

30 Second Book Reviews: A Dangerous Tower of Nightstand Books

Even though adoption stuff and work and travel and friends and family have consumed most of my time this year, I'm still reading up a storm. Less that previous years granted, but I'm sure next year, once we have a kiddo, my time for reading will shrink up even more. I'm ok with that. I think I'll just be reading different things too. And the Roald Dahl and the Harry Potter and the Box Car Children and the Captain Underpants books will all deserve equal review time here. But for now, let's stick with the adult stuff. Mostly adult stuff. 

I've been reading a mix of fiction and nonfiction, a lot of Stephen King again for some reason, and plenty of audiobooks on my commute and various road trips. I have slightly different standards for audiobooks than I do for books I read traditionally. I like more plot and less character development, fewer characters, more action in my audio and the beauty of the language isn't quite as important to me in audio. I don't know why that is. It just is. If I really want to savor a book, I want to pick it up, hold it in my hands and read it with my own eyes. So let's dive into the reviews for everything I've read since June. I've noted books that I've listened to rather than read, just so you know my bias. Totally biased.

After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman- Audiobook - Let's just jump in with the audiobook bias, I love a good mystery audiobook. This was that book. It was good. Not amazing. Good. A little long, a few too many characters, but enjoyable.

Live from New York:An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live by Tom Shales and James Allen Miller- This book was funny and strange and fascinating created from interviews with all of the key SNL people on stage and behind the scenes from the 1970's to today. If you love SNL like I do, through its ups and downs, this is a must read. Plus you'll feel like you're trying cocaine without actually having to do so.

Parenting the Hurt Child by Gregory Keck - I'm reading this one again right now. It's going to be really helpful. This parenting thing seems like it might be hard. 

The Tommyknockers by Stephen King - Turns out, I don't really like sci-fi. It's one of the few genres I just can't seem to get into. This was a lot of weird aliens and strange goings on set in Maine naturally, not my favorite King novel but not the worst thing I've ever read. Much like sex or pizza, King is always pretty good even when he's not amazing.

All Three Gillian Flynn Books for the second time Gone Girl, Sharp Objects, Dark Place - Audiobooks - I made Joe listen to these with me on various road trips. I love them all.

The Ivory Grin by Ross McDonald- Noir noir noir. Dark, sinister, perfectly set in the 1950's. I wanted to sip a scotch, hire a PI to investigate my husband and wear a pencil skirt while reading this sucker.

Wine to Water by Doc Hendley- A passionate and lively memoir about a bartender who finds his mission in life by bringing clean water to some of the most dangerous places in the world. Pretty inspiring while still pointing out all of the mistakes people make when running nonprofits. Good intentions don't negate the need for some planning, structure, and business acumen.

The Drowing Room by Elizabeth Black -Audiobook- This one was odd. I stopped about half way through because I realized I didn't care about any of the characters. That's my valid excuse. I use it often. Life is too short to bother with books you don't want to really dive into.

Adopting the Hurt Child by Gregory Keck - Again, I've read this one twice.

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison -Audiobook - Like buying a "PRADA" bag on the streets of New York, this book wants you to think it's Gone Girl, but the stitching and quality of the fabric give it away immediately as a cheap imitator. I still listened to the whole thing though. I wanted to find out what happened!

The Eternal Nazi by Nicholas Kulish and Souad Mekhennet - I've had an ongoing, strong interest in WWII and the Holocaust since I was in high school. This was another example of bringing that time period to life, with the story of Nazi hunters on a quest to find Nazis even in the 2000's. 

Snowblind by Christopher Golden - Fine. It was fine. It was chilly and weird and fine. Parts of it were legitimately creepy but descriptions of little ice monsters dancing on snow just made me giggle and drink some hot cocoa.

We Were Liars by E Lockhard- Audiobook - Nope. Not a fan. I guessed the twist early on because I'm not 12. And I don't have the stomach for poor little rich kid youth fiction anymore. If I was 12 I would love this one though.

Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter - What a gut punch of a book. As we get ready to adopt an older child through the foster care system, this book tore me up, inspired and educated me about what this process is like from the perspective of a child about to be adopted, to go through years of foster placements, to be ripped away from your biological parents, and to finally get your forever home. It's going to be so challenging for all of us, but isn't that the truth for anything deeply valuable in our lives? Thank you, Ashley, for sharing your story.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King -A solid Stephen King novel. Strong characters that I found myself rooting for throughout, a macabre and disturbed villain I couldn't turn away from, and a story line that kept propelling me forward into certain chaos and potential doom. And while it lacked a true mystery or any typical King horror, it was a well paced, sometimes funny, always engaging book.

I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman - Audiobook - Again, a perfect audiobook mystery. A woman is kidnapped as a teenager and must face the kidnapper years later. I wasn't sure where this book was going to end up but I liked that.

The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore - As usual, a ridiculous, funny, strange hybrid of a novel, mixing Shakespeare and fantasy and satire into one romp of a book. I love Christoper Moore and want to meet him someday.

The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis -A mystery series wrapped up in the intrigue, history and rich setting of Ancient Rome. I'm hooked and with 20 books so far in the series, let's see how many I can read. Falco is funny, dastardly and such a rounded full character, I don't know if I want to slap him or kiss him.

Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda - No wonder Dennis Lehane loved this novel. It's from the same school, the gritty dark streets, storyline and the magic of the words just flows together into this cast of characters and themes you can't turn away from, I loved it too. My motto, always take Dennis Lehane's book recommendations.

Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. - Audiobook- This is the totally true story of a multi-millionairess recluse who locked herself away with her dolls and her cartoons in her mansions in New York and then in a private hospital room for decades. It's bizarre and almost too strange to believe. I loved it. She was incredibly generous and incredibly unique.

So that's it! Right now I'm listening to American Gods by Neil Gaiman, a book I read a few years ago, but I heard such great reviews of the multi-cast audiobook, that I thought I'd read/listen to it again. It really is a modern classic. The gods of the book are currently meeting up at The House on the Rock, one of the most bizarre places I've ever been in real life, and it's been delightful to read Gaiman's descriptions of the place. That place completely deserves a prime spot in a bizarre epic fantasy novel like American Gods. I'm also reading a real paper copy of Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose, about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. When we visited the Gateway Arch in St. Louis in July, I loved visiting the exhibits about Lewis and Clark, so I thought I'd learn more, since I only have a high school American History understanding of the whole exploration. Ambrose has an elegant narrative style that makes the dry history seem less so. I'm liking it so far. 

So what are you reading as summer disappears into fall, my friends?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Control Freak in Waiting

Good lord. Have I mentioned before that I'm not a patient person? I'm not a person who easily just goes with the flow? Little things, sure, but big life events, I want input, I want control, I want a say, in all of it. And that doesn't work. It just doesn't. And at the age of 39, I'm finally learning this lesson. Just in time too.

I mentioned here, back in February when I last wrote, yeah, February, that Joe and I are going through the adoption process through the foster care system. And we are hopefully getting past the beginning and middle of it, the homestudy and classes and background checks part, then into the searching for kiddos part of it all, and now into the last phase, before the real stuff of parenting begins. The matching has happened. The case workers have sent over photos of our potential kiddo. We've read pages and pages of his case files, and had long talks together about what type of kiddo we think we can parent well, and extended conference calls full of questions and answers and more questions with case workers and foster parents and therapists. And now there's a specific kid out there that we think will be ours.

Ours. A specific kid. One little guy. It's not a mystery anymore. He knows we exist. We know all kinds of things about him too. But we haven't met yet. We're falling in love with him a little bit already. More everyday. And we haven't even met him yet. We don't know what his little voice sounds like. Or how many books he will demand we read together before bed. Or which superhero is his real favorite. Or what kind of jelly he likes best on his pb and j. But I think we'll know soon.

The bureaucracy keeps us waiting. I was talking to a good friend about it over the weekend and he said it made him feel reassured to know that there is a clear and formal process to protect kids and make sure that adoptive families understand the commitment. I've been looking at the process as a slow, painful obstacle somehow set up in our way to prevent us from getting to hug our kid, like yesterday already. And he put it in perspective for me with just a few words, without even intending to. I see irritating slowness there to thwart our best laid plans to grow our family this year, and he saw a deliberate, careful consideration. I'm caught up in the anxiety and anticipation of adding this wonderful child to our family as soon as possible, but people who aren't as impatient as I am, see the reasons for the delay. The reasons for the process and the methodical paperwork and signatures and the infuriating checklists.

Because it's not for certain that we'll click with this particular kiddo. It's not 100%. We might meet and it might just not feel right. It might be the hardest decision we've made yet, to walk away. Because the making of a family is tricky, especially with older kids. The right chemistry and the realistic expectations and the forever commitment all have to be there. But we're hopeful. We're really really hopeful. I think we might have our boy. We just might. And I'm sitting here trying not to imagine what it will be like to send him off to college, or take photos of him posed with his prom date. I find myself trying not to cry at the oddest times, with raw excitement and concerns popping up here and there. I'll try not to jump ahead too far. I'll try to tame my inner control freak, my inner impatient soon to be mom who wants to plan and strategize and read every parenting book before he gets here, so we can make sure we do it all right. I might have some perfectionist tendencies thrown in for good measure, too. Maybe.

I'm trying to tame this person inside of me, this ball of nervous tension and fear of failure who keeps closing her eyes scared of the unknown, because this combination of hopeful anticipation and sheer terror seems to be a feeling we're both going to have to learn to embrace.  It sounds like it's going to be our new normal sometime soon, hopefully soon, like really soon. Come on, people, it can be soon, right? Soon? I'm trying to be the soft, gentle, soothing voice in my own head that says "It's going to be ok. Whatever happens, you can handle it. And you'll do your best, because that's who you are." I'm going to be that voice for myself right now, because very soon we're going to have the honor of being that voice for some small boy, who is just waiting to meet us too.

(Side note: this was my 500th blog post! Yippee! What a way to celebrate, by picking up a kid!)

Monday, February 10, 2014

1:1 Thrilled:Terrified

I'm sitting here filled with a perfectly equal emotional ratio of 1 part terrified to 1 part thrilled. Ok, it might be closer to 2 parts terrified to 1 part thrilled, or maybe 2 parts thrilled, and 1 part terrified, ok, it goes back and forth constantly. This is what parenthood is going to look like, right?

We have our first foster parent/adoption class tomorrow night. Suddenly all the talk and paper work and character references and background checks start to feel real. The idea that our kid is out there already. Just waiting for us to find them,to get matched, as my friend Wendy pointed out to me a couple of weeks ago. He or she is already out there somewhere in the whole United States. It makes me wonder. Who's tucking them in at night? What books are they reading before bed? Are they even reading books before bed? What's their favorite toy? Is there a well loved teddy bear sleeping next to their tiny face tonight? What are they going to eat for breakfast tomorrow? What makes our child laugh? What makes them stomp their little feet in frustration? What do they want to be when they grow up? When do we get to meet them?

The idea that, because we are planning to adopt an older child, we could become parents as early as June. This June, is a little bizarre to me. We've tried off and on for years to become parents and this could actually be the year that it happens. It all feels so theoretical. So impossible somehow. And yet as I sit here tonight filling out pages and pages of paperwork, typing out our birth dates and social security numbers over and over again, filling out deeply personal questions about our own losses, the things that make us angry, trying to share the core of who we are as people, as a couple, as potential parents with these dry, standard questions. It's weird. It's so damn exciting it feels like all of the holidays rolled into one. And it's terrifying. Did I mention that part? But I'm so excited. My stomach hurts I'm so excited. So here we go...

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Big Selfie Sendoff to 7 Days!

For the last five years I've had the pleasure of being a part of an online photo group, 7 Days. Four times a year, for the last seven years (I only joined on Bethany and Joe's suggestion in 2009) but for seven excellent years, this gang of photographers has taken a self portrait every day for 7 days once a season. We posted our sometimes creative, sometimes genius, sometimes mundane photos online through Flickr and then we commented and chatted and got these sharp glimpses into each others lives. Through births and deaths, joy and sadness, we made friends. We connected, and we shared some great photography. So this last round just wrapped up right after Christmas, and it's the final round for the group.

I'm both sad and happy about that. It's a natural, timely ending, 7 years of 7 days. And I think the creators of the project are ready for new challenges. And I think we are too. So here is the collection of my last 7 Days photos. It's helped to make me a better, more creative photographer, and I've made some excellent friends from all over the world through this group. So thank you, 7 Days, and Sarah and Bethany and Lauren for starting us up and keeping us going, and all of the other wonderful participants! I love you guys. And I'll miss your faces. Here's a collection of all of my 7 Days photos from the last five years, only venture in if you want to see that many shots of my face or feet. There's a lot. Which is kind of the point, right? (Joe's photos are really excellent, by the way, go see them here, he's so good.)

it's that time again

It's That Time Again
I've been eyeballing this guy for years. He hangs on the bathroom wall in my mother-in-law's Wizard of Oz themed guest room. He's shiny, he's slightly creepy and he looks a bit like a mask. So Merry Christmas from the Tin Man, Dorothy, the Lion and the rest of the gang that we're sharing our room with over the holiday. And no, I didn't grow a mustache.

"Let me stick this on my money stack."

"Let me stick this on my money stack."
We had a great night tonight. Just a cozy night in at our dear friends' house, soup and sandwiches, way too many Christmas cookies. Then the games came out. Playing Despicable Me Monopoly with two of Katrina's sons and my husband. Guess who was more competitive, the kids or Joe? Guess who threw all his winnings into the air to "make it rain" and then tidied up his money with the "let me stick this on my money stack." I'll give you a hint, he's the one who's over 30.

Gyros and a little Hustle

Gyros and a little Hustle
Dinner and a movie is one of my all time favorite night type activities. So add in a few of my favorite people, plus Greek food (with a huge mirror and mural of course), plus all of the fantastic holiday movie choices (we picked American Hustle) and our Monday night was pretty choice. How was yours?

Is it 2014 yet?

Is it 2014 Yet?
We're out running errands on this sleeting frigid Christmas Eve. Joe ran into Costco to pick up some photos he had printed for his mom. And I wisely waited in the car. This was a weird year for me, us really. A lot of ups and downs, I finally gave up on having any illusion of control, and we mixed some grief in there for good measure. But there are some exciting and slightly scary things awaiting us next year that I'm very much looking forward to. When I'm sitting somewhere quietly lately, I get contemplative about it all. I get a little sad. I over analyze it and get a little lost in my thoughts and fears. I worry and brood, while staring at all the shoppers scurrying through the parking lot off to finish errands so they can spend the day with their families like we are. But my brooding doesn't last long. Joe pops back in the car and breaks the spell, with his smile and his energy and his love, and I realize just how lucky I am.

Filled with blessings and cookies

Filled with Blessings and Cookies
It's a Wonderful Life on the tv, my parents, dogs, a fire in the fireplace, presents, snacky dinner, and the husband. Aren't the holidays lovely sometimes?

My happy place
My Happy Place
Going back to work after the holidays is one of those painful times filled with post holiday malaise, food regrets, exhaustion, and the desire to return to the days of presents, friends and family, naps, cookies and Santa. I missed Santa today as I worked on spreadsheets. So as my work day wrapped up and I ran some non-holiday errands, I made sure to make a stop at the library. I always smile while at the library. I can't help myself. All the potential and possibilities awaiting me. The knowledge and laughs just right there. Plus sometimes they have free cookies. So it seemed only appropriate to take a library shot, on this our last 7 Days round. And I did get caught by one of the elderly librarians, she just shook her head and shuffled away from me mumbling under her breath, "cell phone cameras..." So what's one of your happy places, friends?

This is the end, my friends

This is the end, my friends
It's been a pleasure. A challenge. A hoot. And a true delight to "meet" you all. Thank you for letting me peek into your lives over the last years. Your lives are as beautiful as you are. I've made some amazing friends from this quirky little selfie group and my life is more colorful, more creative and just more because of 7 days, and you. Yeah, I'm talking about you. So good bye for now and let's see each other again soon, ok?

Thursday, January 02, 2014

The Strangest Year

I am never going to be pregnant. I'm never going to grow a baby inside of my body, some magical combination of centuries of DNA from Joe's family and mine. Melded into a mysterious and lovely little person. It's not going to happen. And that's a hard thing to admit to myself. It's a hard thing to absorb.
Not because we know who that person would have been or what that person's laugh would have sounded like, but because they never existed. We aren't grieving that person, we are grieving the simple idea, the whisper, the hope of that little person in our lives. And that's one of the hardest, most elusive, and most painful things I've ever had to feel.

It's a sharp pain some days. Others days it's nothing more than a slight lump in my throat while watching a child throw a tantrum in Target. Some days there's even a bit of relief that my body will always belong just to me. But December has been hard. Waves of grief and loss creep up at the oddest times. And especially around the holidays, which I've always loved. They were a little bittersweet this year.  I've felt like I've been walking around in a bit of a daze this last month. Not grieving a death. Not grieving a tangible, concrete loss. But grieving an idea, a dream, a hope and a joy that we won't get to experience. And that feels strange, and yet still deeply painful sometimes.

But I'm getting ok with it. I'm getting to the next place, the place that says, ok, we want to be parents, above DNA and placentas and Lamaze classes, we want to be parents. So we'll find a way to do that. But this wispy sadness will always be with me, I think. This little "what if?". We did everything we could to try and have a biological baby. No regrets. But that "what if?" will always linger. Who would that little person have looked more like? Would they have had Joe's curly hair and my height? Would they like to ski or dream of being president or hated algebra with a fiery passion? Who would that person have been? And I'm allowed to wonder that. I'm ok with wondering that. Because we'll never know. But I get to wonder that because I know that we will be parents to a real live child, not a dream, not a whisper. Not a biological child, but our child nonetheless.

Joe and I will have a home filled with laughter and fun and bedtimes and books and joy and tears and chaos. We will have that. It's just going to come to us in some form that we can't understand yet. It will happen. I know it. And I think the challenges of the last year have actually prepared us for the next challenges ahead. I feel tested and stronger and better able to sit with my own feelings and let them happen. And I think these are skills Joe and I both will need in the coming year. So as much as I am sad, I'm excited and scared and nervous about what happens next. Who will we be meeting? Whose laundry will I be doing someday? Who will we be helping with homework, and cuddling while watching movies, and grounding for a week, because that's inevitable, right? I have no idea. But I can't wait to meet them.