Friday, September 10, 2010

Dresser #1... finished

You know that thing I said about wishing I had endless amounts of time? Yeah. Still wishing. Which is why it's now a month later. And I have like two more sentences written of our story. And eighty-seven projects cluttering up my garage.

And so, I'm a bad blogger. :) With the weather now bringing just a bit of relief from the extreme and excessive heat (seriously, this was the first summer that I just COULD. NOT. TAKE. IT. Did you feel that way?), we are spending every waking moment outside. And I love it! Sassy runs off her energy (mostly), takes a fantabulous nap in the afternoon (usually), and then we're back out.

My floors are looking pretty sad, though. And the clutter... oh, the clutter! The inside really suffers when it's this beautiful outside.

Still, I'm taking full advantage of these early autumn cool mornings and comfortable afternoons to turn THIS:



into THIS:


Isn't she loverly? Perfect for a certain little girly girl's room. :) I painted it Valspar's "String of Pearls" (FYI: You can totally have it mixed at Walmart for half the price.), and if I had it to do over, I'd have taken the extra step of priming. I did not, and I think the final count of coats of paint was four... maybe five in a few spots. :)


I love the drawer pulls. Half off at Hobby Lobby made these beauties $2 a piece... woo!


Don't look too closely, though. It's most certainly not in "show room" condition. You might not have been able to see in the original picture, but there was some pretty obvious water damage to two of the drawers. I sanded the top drawer down as well as I could, then filled in with wood filler. The second drawer just needed a little wood glue and a clamp. Perfect? No, but I'm okay with that.


Let's just say it adds character, shall we?


I unintentionally added some "character" of my own. I used a clear glaze as the top coat, and there are some noticeable spots that turned a little yellowish. :(


And we have a spot or two of some glaze drippage. Oops.


I guess that "weathered" style will look nice with this mirror I'm thinking of hanging above the dresser! I found this pretty piece at a garage sale this summer, I believe for $1. It's Pier One... you can bet it wasn't a dollar in the store!


This is the bed I purchased for Sassy last summer for $15 at a yard sale. I touched it up with some white paint, but other than that, haven't done a thing to it. I LOVE the scrolly design on the headboard!


Her "big girl room" is a work in progress, but thankfully, neither she nor I are in any bit of a hurry for her to leave the crib. Yes, I know she's closing in on three. Don't rush me. :) I'm keeping my eyes out for some cute girly bedding on sale (or even better... on clearance?). I'm absolutely in LOVE with this PBK set, but seeing as I haven't seen the set come even close to under $500+ (seriously, who in their right mind??), I'm still shopping. :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Our adoption story: The best laid plans

I wish I had endless amounts of time. Don't we all? :) Enough time to get all the housework done, all the dangling projects completed, meal prep, laundry, exercise, running errands... and still have some leftover for "extras," like blogging.

Since I don't have endless amounts of time at my disposal, and since I don't want to spend great amounts of the time I do have staring at a computer screen, I'm going to break down pieces of our adoption story to retell. It goes without saying that some things are non-blog material, and still other things just aren't worth the time -- yours in reading, mine in writing -- to record. But, I hope that I can tell enough to paint an accurate picture. Sound good?

To preface the adoption side of the story, I should first address the infertility side of the story, since that is what first landed us in an adoption agency in the fall of 2006.

In the spring/early summer of 2005, Mr. Incredible and I decided we were ready to start our family. We had the house. We had the dog. The next step? Babies, of course. :) I'd been ready for this step since I was ten; he was finally ready to indulge me. I felt like I'd waited my whole life to be a mommy, and I wanted to shout to the rooftops that I was finally at the threshold! What joy and excitement this would bring our families!

Mr. Incredible wisely urged me to remain silent about our plans until we had something to tell... in other words, a positive pregnancy test. Okay, I thought, a little disappointed. But I quickly got over that need to tell and fully enjoyed the "secrecy" of our plans. I felt like we had this wonderful, special, exciting secret (non-news, really). And besides, I could stay quiet for a couple months, right? Because surely it wouldn't take longer than that. We'd be making our announcement by Thanksgiving. Christmas at the latest.

Oh, those best laid plans. :)

For the first three months or so, I was completely relaxed about the whole thing, which is funny to me now because "relaxed" is hardly the word I would use to describe myself in most situations! :) However, I just wasn't worked up about it. When I still wasn't pregnant in October (our fourth cycle trying, if I remember correctly), I took up charting my temperature, but just casually. By November though, I became religious about it. I kept my thermometer on my bedside table, and would set my alarm for the same time each day to check it, even if I wasn't planning to get up yet. Then, I'd recorded all the temps in an online calendar I'd found, watching it desperately for my temps to creep up, up, up... only for them to come crashing down a day or two before my period inevitably arrived.

What was happening? Why was this taking so long? I was supposed to be making a pregnancy announcement by the holidays. I'd selected (and purchased) meaningful "grandmother" Willow Tree figures for each of our moms, and this would be how we would give them the news. And now they just sat in a cabinet mocking me, hidden behind any mish-mash of items to conceal them from others, but also from myself. I didn't want to look at them or be reminded of what I perceived to be my "failure."

By February 2006, I was ready to lose my mind. I made an appointment with my OBGYN to ask him what the heck was up with my body. No testing at this appointment, just a plea to relax and let it happen naturally. He ordered me to stop charting, because he could see it was making me a crazy person, and was likely hindering rather than helping by this point. He explained that it's a vicious cycle... with every passing month, I got more anxious and less relaxed, meaning my body wasn't as "able" to conceive as naturally. He encouraged me that conception would be very likely on our upcoming Alaskan cruise, scheduled for June, and that he had no doubts in his mind that I'd be returning from that trip with a little extra "souvenir." I really did feel so much better after talking with him that day. I just felt like I could put my fears at ease, because if anyone knew what he was talking about, a doctor certainly would.

The next few months came and went, and off we flew to the Pacific Northwest for a memorable trip. If I'd had doubts about conceiving on that trip, they were only more confirmed by how seasick I felt for most of the trip. I couldn't have brought home that "souvenir" even if I'd wanted to. :)

The bottom line was that I was still not pregnant, and now we had been trying for more than a year. I could not believe it. I never would have thought we'd have still been without a baby by this point in our life.

Summer 2006 was primarily occupied with fertility testing and doctor's appointments. Initial bloodwork came back fine for me, and my next scheduled test was an HSG, which I was completely horrified by. I'd heard it was an invasive, painful test, and could lead to a significant amount of cramping even afterwards. I dreaded that test with every fiber of my being, but what made me even more concerned was what would happen between my bloodwork tests and the possible HSG: sperm analysis.

This falls under the "not worth the time" category (because it's gross, and private, and did I say gross?), but I'll summarize this part of the story by saying we had a winner! Or a loser? I'm not sure which. :)

Due to some complications going back to his birth and toddlerhood (again, I look back and can't believe this sincerely NEVER occurred to me as a possible problem in the midst of it), we were given two options -- IVF or adoption.

I remember the moment those words came out of the doctor's mouth. I remember we were sitting in a white, sterile, tiny room on metal exam chairs, and that it was the least possible environment of comfort. I remember a vision in my mind's eye of a young girl with soft, blonde ringlets pulled back in pigtails, skipping off to a tree swing, laughing with a beautiful smile and sparkling eyes. And I remember feeling that girl had been taken from me in that moment, in that exam room. I remember the doctor could barely offer me a tissue, let alone a sliver of hope to hang my dreams on.

He left the room, and I was relieved to see him go. I can understand now, all this time later, that he was just doing his job, and that this was the hard part of his duties. But he didn't have much in the way of a bedside manner, and all I wanted to do was cry and scream... and that's what I did. I wailed and sobbed and gasped for air. I knew patients in other exam rooms, nurses, doctors, and anyone nearby could hear me, but I didn't care. Mr. Incredible held me tight and stroked my hair, allowing me to only begin the grieving process.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The prompting

I'm considering trying to write a series of posts (over who knows how long) to tell our adoption story. There are good moments and bad... high points and low ones... and I will say that it doesn't necessarily paint the agency we used in a positive light, much to my dismay. :(

I've wanted to write this "story" (although, it's our life, not a fictional essay) since we were in the midst of it happening, but I couldn't... for a number of reasons. And now, nearly three years later, I'm at the point that I don't know how much time and effort and emotional energy I have available for sharing the hard things... but I also know there won't ever be a day when I have endless amounts of those things, anyway. :)

It's easy to pop in here and write about "fluff" once in a while. I've gotten to be a pretty lazy blogger as it is, but that's all for good reasons. I want to use my time in the best, most productive ways that I can, and I want to honor the Lord and serve my family by doing that.

But maybe? Maybe I should not be silent. I've chatted with many people over these past few years about it, and I've shared privately with some. But I get the itch from time to time to stand up and speak publicly about our experience, not because I think I have a well-heard platform, but because this is where I am, right now. This is where I can speak... if I choose.

My chest is tight right now. I'm physically tensed up and my heart hurts to remember. I think I'm willing to speak, albeit reluctantly. Not because it is not important, but because it is hard. Because it is painful to relive.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Well, here's a new one

Just when you think you've heard it all, people never cease to amaze you!

Mom #3 and I were working in the nursery together again this weekend. Another mom is apparently expecting her fourth, and at twenty weeks has less of a tummy than I do with only the previous night's supper in me. That's always nice to see.

So, as we know, no topic is off limits among nursery workers. Oh, nursery duty days... I just love how I never know what to expect from you!

So as the other two moms in the room were talking about their various delivery experiences (seven, between them) at different area hospitals, which had a good nursing staff, which did not, which nurseries were the nicest, which doctors they preferred, etc. I know this topic tends to come up among younger moms, and I do know that it's just one of those things I can't control, but also that I don't really have much to add to the conversation... obviously. :)

Finally, Mom #3 (see the linked post) asks me, "Where did you have Sassy?"

Um? Wasn't the whole "adoption" thing clear from previous conversations we've had?

Thinking she must have just forgotten, I smiled and said, "I didn't have Sassy." It was at this point that she looked at me like I had grown a third eye.

I filled her in on the fact that we had adopted Sassy, so I didn't actually birth her. :) The response was one that I can honestly say I had never gotten before. She told me I was wrong. I actually had someone tell me I was lying about Sassy being adopted. HUH??

Of course, she wasn't being mean... but apparently the adoption was just so incredulous to her that she sincerely thought I was telling her a story. I don't for the life of me know WHY I would lie about that, but okay then.

"No, you didn't! You HAD her! I know you did!" Exact. words. And repeated over and over... and over... and over...

I finally had to say, look, I was there, and it wasn't me she was coming out of. :) (Although I wasn't actually in the delivery room for a number of reasons, it was the only thing I could think of that seemed to get her to acknowledge that, yes, in fact, I was being completely honest!)

She never really indicated why she so strongly thought that Sassy was my biological child. I didn't ask... didn't seem productive.

Oh, it gets better though!

"So, whose is she then?" YES, REALLY!

"Mine!" was my reply, because that's the honest answer!

"No, I mean, who had her? Did you know her?"

"Well, we do now!" I said. I was into literal answers on this occasion, I guess!

I explained that we went through an agency, that we had a home study, that it was (ironically) about nine months from being approved to Sassy's birth, that Sassy's mom chose us from the profiles she had to view, that we have an open relationship with her, and that we do still visit when we have the opportunity.

I think she was still pretty shocked, though. I just didn't realize we were so... abnormal! Are we really that weird?!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I love a good project!

I lurve garage sales. Love, love, love. I'm very possibly the cheapest person you'd ever hope to meet, so finding unique pieces at ridiculous prices AND being able to bargain with them is right up my alley. And plus, half the fun is in the process. You never know what you might find! Worst case scenario, you'll certainly find something to laugh at. :)


So here is a recent purchase of mine! Want to guess how much I spent on this dresser (which, by the way, is NOT missing a drawer on the top left side... that drawer has been painted black for some reason)? $3. I'm not kidding... three dollars!!


Aren't the legs adorable? The casters came right out... with a little help from Mr. Incredible. As in, he did that part for me. :)


I've sanded the whole thing, and we've taken the old drawer pulls off. I'm planning to paint it white or an off-white and use it in Sassy's "big girl" room, which is a sloooow work in progress. It'd probably help to have a better "vision" of what I'm doing in there. Help, anyone? We like pink. And girly. And possibly some type of cute birdie/tree combination.


So this? Yeah, had to have this one, too. I nearly had a coronary over this thing before I even got out of the car. A little bargaining and $10 later, it was mine.


One slight problem. My sister has requested this dresser or similar for her new house. Blood might be thicker than water, but I think she's going to have to look past my offense on this one. Because it's mine!


It needs a little work, no? But it's got so much character. So much appeal. So much storage.


So here's the thing... my knee-jerk reaction was to sand it down, paint it black, and then distress it. It's not going to be anyone's actual dresser; I'm going to use it the living area and store office supplies, magazines, and yes, probably toys in it. But, thing is, I actually really like the color it is now. And now I'm sort of wondering if I should do something a little more "unpredictable" with it... something reminiscent of one of my favorite eye-candy blogs. And I'm seriously loving all shades of aqua these days. One look in Sassy's closet, and there's no doubt of that. But I just couldn't see a big piece of AQUA furniture in my house. Just not sure if it would "fit."


And then, this morning, I came across this. Quite accidentally. I was on my way to drop some things off at Goodwill and totally missed the turn. There was a garage sale at the turn-around. ONE. DOLLAR. Hello, lover!


LOVE these glass knobs. Love, love, love!


I wasn't sure about the print at first (and the little rose buds are actually magnets... the picture part is magnetic), but it kind of grew on me. I still may give some chalkboard spray paint eventually, but for now, I think I'm keeping it as "inspiration" for Sassy's new room. Maybe not quite so Victorian, though. But the frame color? Ooh, la, la! I could maybe see that color on my green dresser. Thoughts?! If it helps, it's likely going against that caramel colored wall...

Friday, May 21, 2010

She's ASLEEP!

After a week-long nap strike, Sassy is NAPPING!!!!! I put her down earlier than usual today (easier said than done), and it worked like a charm.

I feel like singing! But I won't because I don't want to wake her up. :)

Could I possibly be so lucky as to have naptime back in our normal routine?!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Disgusting

I got a new vacuum cleaner last week. It was overdue.

We'd shopped around and I had surprisingly (for me) sold myself on an Oreck. Gosh, they're nice, aren't they? Crazy power and light enough to lift one-handed without breaking a sweat. That little old wrinkly man sure does know what he's doing, I'll tell you that.

Downside? The pricetag. Ouch. And then our garage door spring broke. And our air conditioning went out. And some part on the TV blew a fuse and had to be replaced. All in the same week. Double, triple, and quadruple ouch.

Bye-bye, Oreck money. Hello, Target vacuum aisle.

I checked out the reviews, and finally decided on a Bissell that everyone seemed to have awesome things to say about. It was in the price range I was planning to spend, and let's face it -- the only other choices out there are the Hummers of the vacuum world and the $30 joke that you're afraid will break after two uses.

So, hooray for making a decision! I was actually pretty excited to test it out. I've never had a bagless vacuum before, and I will say that this is the #1 quality I hate about it, but there really aren't many bagged upright vacuums on the market these days that don't cost an arm, a leg, and a kidney.


THIS is what I found after vacuuming one room. Seriously?!? What disgustingness we've been walking and playing on without even realizing it!

Even my husband, who shall thus forth be acknowledged as "Mr. Incredible" (per his new toy -- uh, phone), noted that the carpet seemed softer... "fluffy" almost. I won't say it's turned my beige carpet three shades whiter or made it look brand new again... but for eighty bucks? I'm happy.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sigh of relief

I love finding new blogs about motherhood, adoption, teaching your children... anything I feel has a pretty big place in my life. Months and months ago, I stumbled across an adoption blog -- I can't even remember where -- and found myself nodding along with what the writer was saying. I felt like she really got the loss aspect of adoption, something that's traditionally swept under the rug by most.

I'll admit I'm not the most faithful blogger or blog-reader anymore. I just don't feel good about putting in the amount of time it takes. I flip through a few favorite reads quickly on a pretty much daily basis, and I try to do one "clean out the reader" session about once a week. But a lot of times, I just "click, click, click" without paying TOO much attention, unless it's a blog I know that I love and will glean something from.

After skimming through a post recently on the aforementioned adoption blog, I did what I've been meaning to do for quite a while. I deleted this particular blog from my reader. It was overdue, and I finally found the two-and-a-half seconds to search for it in my list and hit "delete." And you know what? I honestly breathed a sigh of relief. It felt wonderful, and I'm not sure what took me so long to fix this oversight.

The point of this post is not to be ugly -- as you can see, I'm not naming names, and I'm not even giving details about what finally pushed me to the limit. I guess I'm just saying that, when you live with adoption in any form, there's bound to be a measure of grief/loss/stress that come along with it. Why have I been allowing my blood pressure to be raised when it's completely and totally unnecessary? Why am I allowing a stranger to make me cringe with, what I believe, is a completely skewed view of adoption, loss, and healing?

I will say this alone, and then I'm done with this topic. It literally pains me when the very thing I wish NEVER had to happen is the thing that some others are hoping and praying for.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Grocery store bargains

A few months ago, I was introduced to Five Dollar Dinners. I'd like to say I'm good at saving money at the grocery store, but wow! I'm always so impressed at what Erin comes up with for only five dollars!

Each week, she posts about her grocery shopping trip and takes a picture of everything she bought and explains how much she spent. I'm always so intrigued by this, especially because she uses the same grocery store chain that I do. While we don't live in the same area, a lot of the sale prices are the same, so I like to get tips from her when I can! :)

I thought I would post about some of the great deals I found during our shopping trip today. I was quite excited about a few of them! Hey, everybody needs a hobby! This is mine.

Stop laughing.


Bought today at Kroger:
  • Two loaves Healthy Life bread, on sale for $1.39/loaf, plus $0.35 off coupons, which doubles to $0.70 off (two coupons means I bought two loaves of bread) = $0.69/loaf of bread
  • Bisquick pancake mix, regular price of $3.59, with $0.60 off Shortcuts e-coupon, plus $0.50 off coupon, which doubles to $1 off = $1.99 for the box (40 oz.)
  • Dole salad mix, on sale for $1 {with what I assumed was a $0.75 off e-coupon, but apparently was for a different flavor... maybe? Going to have to look into this...} = $1/bag of salad... FAIL. Thought it was $0.25!
  • Yoplait Greek yogurt cups, on sale for $1, plus $0.45 off coupon, which doubles to $0.90 off = $0.10/yogurt cup!!
  • Two packages of hummus, on sale for $1 each (regular price is 3.99!)
  • Dawn dish soap, marked down to $1.39?!?, plus $0.50 off coupon, which doubles to $1 off = $0.39 dish soap!
  • No Sugar Added Del Monte fruit cups, marked down to $1.39, plus $0.75 off coupon = $0.64 (This is the kind of thing I won't usually buy because individual packages are almost always more expensive... but for sixty-four cents, it'll be handy to grab and go!)

The last item pictured is this trail mix from the produce section. I never EVER buy these unless I have a coupon, but I love me some trail mix! It ended up being on sale for $3.99 (regular price is $4.49) and I had a store coupon for $0.75 off, making this good and healthy snack $3.24. Not too shabby, considering how spendy these "specialty" mixes typically are!


Last but not least of my good deals today -- two whole chickens for $0.98/pound. Every once in a while, I like to make a roast chicken in the crock pot. It's so moist and delicious, but I absolutely DETEST the clean-up! However, when I wanted to make a roast chicken a few weeks ago (and use up some of my produce drawer for flavorings), I bit the bullet. I threw some things together and was very pleased with the honey citrus chicken that resulted. I was not pleased, however, when I got home from the store and realized the bag was leaking chicken juices all over my kitchen. Yuck! So, it went straight into the crock pot for dinner the following night. Because it wasn't done cooking until it was time for me to go to bed, I just stuck it in the fridge overnight and sliced it up the following day. I could not believe how much easier it was slicing the bird COLD rather than freshly cooked! I feel like I always waste so much meat when I'm trimming it off while still warm... like it's hard to tell what's good meat and what's yucky parts. By letting it sit in the fridge overnight, I could get entire chicken breasts and tenderloins off whole, and just sliced them up from there. So easy! I also felt like I got a TON more meat off of it than usual. It was enough for dinner for three PLUS a small Pyrex dish full of leftovers that were frozen (which are going to be chicken enchiladas tonight... yum!). So I'm going to try that method again and just freeze the meat in bags this time. I'll just pull a bag out as I need it.

TWO CORRECTIONS:
  1. The price for the whole chickens was $0.88/lb., not $0.98. Even better!
  2. After posting, I filled out a dispute form at Shortcuts about the coupon that wasn't applied to my bill today, and I already received a response. They've credited my account with $0.80 (five cents higher than the value of the unused coupon), which will be applied to my next grocery bill. Woo!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One's company... two's a crowd?

I'm sitting here with the windows open on a lovely 72-degree day... and hearing the neighbor kids argue with each other. A 12-ish year old girl is screaming at her 3-ish year old brother because he broke the rules of some bike racing game they were playing. Seriously? How old are you?

And more importantly for me, why exactly would I want to listen to these kinds of shenanigans in my own home? I'm sorry, but when I can sit here and listen to my two-year-old quietly playing and making me laugh with the funny things she says, the idea of siblings (you know, the live-in kind) just doesn't make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

It's a good thing, too, because I saw a high school friend's newborn this weekend, and wow... that didn't do me any favors. I'm pretty sure my uterus started twitching.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A quick breakfast treat

Last week, I attended our church's moms group, and I was among those whose turn it was to bring breakfast. At nine o'clock on a weeknight, I didn't really feel like running to the store to buy ingredients for something tried-and-true... especially when American Idol was coming on. :) This is what I threw together with ingredients on-hand, and it seemed to go over pretty well!


Refrigerated crescent rolls. We had a package leftover.


Cream cheese. Oh, how I love thee!


Almonds (any nut you like would work here).


Strawberry jam, canned last summer.


Open your crescent rolls... and please don't be alarmed if this happens.


Even if you find pieces of dough halfway across your kitchen on a rug somewhere. Or if you continue finding those dried out dough pieces for the next two days. It's okay.


Smoosh the rolls into the bottom of a 9x13 pan, and don't worry if it doesn't look pretty. No one will see this part. I sprinkled a little cinnamon and sugar on the dough, and then baked at 375 degrees for about ten minutes (until it's somewhat "firm" to the touch).

Spread the cream cheese on in a thin layer (it will be melty since the crescent dough will still be hot, but I found that helped it spread a little easier). Next goes a layer of strawberry (or whatever flavor) jam. Apple butter would work nicely as well here! Continue baking at the same temperature for another twenty minutes (give or take a few). Don't be concerned if your jam looks runny when you pull it out of the oven... it will set up as it cools.


I had toasted a couple handfuls of almonds and chopped them up. Sprinkle them on top while your jam is still hot. Cut into squares and enjoy!

I was a little nervous bringing a complete and total experiment to a social gathering, and when I walked in to see all kinds of delicious-looking treats, I felt even more unsure! When I was asked what my breakfast was (someone thought it was a cobbler), I laughed and said that it was just what was in my fridge, and that they shouldn't feel obligated to eat it if it wasn't terrific. :) But I'm relieved to say that it was tasty, though a bit on the "sweet" side for my personal taste. The strawberry jam was definitely the most strong flavor, and I was really glad I'd added the almonds on top. Nevertheless, I brought home a nearly empty pan, and was even asked by two moms for the recipe. :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spring is here











And I couldn't be happier.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Lesson learned

When you find yourself wanting an iced coffee and Dunkin' Donuts is closed, don't fool yourself into thinking you can settle for cheap Speedway gas station iced coffee. It is truly terrible. And it's not any cheaper than McDonald's... and there's certainly always one of those nearby.

That sludge was $1.93 wasted.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Learning names

Before Sassy was born, someone gave us a little baby-proof picture book. The cover says something about "people who love me," and there's pockets for your own pictures of family members and friends to be inserted. I thought this was such a great idea, and I even remember noting while I was opening the gift that one of the slots could be used for FirstMom's picture.

Even though Sassy's baby days are quickly slipping away (some would argue that, at age two, there's very little "baby" left in her), we'll still pull out that little baby picture book from time to time. We go through it and discuss who is in each picture. It's also interesting to let her figure out who that baby (at varying stages) is with all of these people she calls her family.

There's a picture framed in her bedroom of FirstMom holding Sassy the day after she was born. Occasionally, I'll point it out and ask her who that is. She knows now and can tell me FirstMom's name. She doesn't yet understand that she is the baby, all swaddled in nursery blankets.

We talk about "who" FirstMom is to her, as much as is possible at a young toddler's level. We practice various "terms," trying to try them on for size, if you will. I don't yet know which one will fit. As an adult who is fully secure in who I am to my child and that no one can ever take her from me, I'm personally a fan of "first mom," just because it's true. It makes sense. It's honest. But, from the position of my young child, who isn't yet old enough or mature enough to comprehend (even in part) what it means to be adopted (thereby having a complete "other" family before the family she knows now), I don't know that I'm ready to commit to one particular term above another for her sake.

I've noticed lately that as I ask Sassy who someone in a particular picture is, she'll almost certainly reply with FirstMom's name. Even if it's someone who looks NOTHING like her. Even if it's a picture of Sassy herself as a baby. She says her name with a questioning tone, but looks at me with a proud grin.

Why is this? Why has FirstMom become her default guess? I'm not bothered that she knows her name; after all, this is what we've been practicing, right? I don't think it's appropriate to bring her up daily at this point, but I also don't want my daughter to feel blindsided by new information someday. But why does she make this same guess each time?

Maybe it's time to back off from learning names for a while.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Open Adoption Bloggers: Interview with Sally Bacchetta


I recently had the pleasure of interviewing author Sally Bacchetta, of The Adoptive Parent, for the Open Adoption Bloggers Interview Project. Sally is an adoptive mama to a daughter and a son. She's been involved in this crazy world of adoption for a few years more than I have, so I always appreciate hearing insight from those who are further down the road than I!

Poor Sally will likely keep having to answer questions from me, even though this interview project is over. I excitedly sent off my first batch of questions (yes, first), and within a matter of a day or two, I'd thought of more things I wanted to ask her. Now that it's all said and done, and I'm putting the final touches on this post... I've thought of more questions. My apologies in advance, Sally! :)

One really nifty thing about this lady is that she doesn't just blog... she writes books. Specifically, this one. Keep reading below to get a sneak peek at what's inside her recently released "What I Want My Adopted Child to Know."

***

For those new to your blog, can you give a little background on you and your family?


Despair and my husband (Dennis) led me to adoption. After a few years of trying to conceive followed by a few years of the infertility circus, we called it quits. I had developed some serious complications that made it almost impossible for us to conceive and life-threatening to me if we did. So it was time to move on.


We meandered our way through the thoughts and emotions of healing from infertility, and eventually Dennis suggested adoption. After much discussion and prayer, we emerged together at peace and ready to embrace adoption as our path to parenthood. We had been married for 8 years when we adopted our daughter, now almost 5, and last year we adopted our son, who just turned a year old. I can’t imagine becoming a mother any other way.


Was there a moment in time that really drew you to open adoption over other types of adoption? Or was it something you sort of "fell into" unexpectedly?

I never considered (and would never consider) a closed adoption. Our children’s biological families are theirs. Their origins are theirs. I consider their birth families among the most important people in my kids’ lives, because it’s they who chose this life for my kids. We want our children to know their birth families as much as possible because that’s knowing part of themselves. We want them to be able to ask questions and share feelings as their lives evolve and their thinking about adoption changes.

Selfishly, I could never be at peace without contact with my kids’ birth families. I needed to meet their birth mothers, I needed to hold their hands and look in their eyes and ask them why they chose adoption. I needed to tell them that it’s OK to change their minds, that it doesn’t matter what anyone’s expectations are, it doesn’t matter what papers are waiting to be signed, it doesn’t matter how much Dennis and I want children… that this is their baby, and they are the mother, and no one else knows what’s in their heart or head, and if they decide to raise the baby themselves, then that’s the right choice. I needed them to look at my face and know that I meant what I said.

And because we had those opportunities, I can love my children freely. I can love them without guilt or uncertainty. I can love them without any insecurity about their birth families. All because of openness.

And I have to say that we use the term “birth mother” in our family because our children’s birth mothers asked us to. Our children call their birth mothers by their first names and refer to them in conversation by their first names or as “my birth mother.”


Do you feel that your family and friends are overall supportive of your family's open adoption, or have you encountered more questions and concerned statements from those close to you?

I guess they’re as supportive as they’re able to be. I’m fairly certain none of them really understand the unique relationships we have with our kids’ birth families, but I don’t expect them to. The only time it bothers me is when someone asks an ignorant question like, “Aren’t you afraid she’s going to change her mind after she sees him/her?” If you have to ask that, you really don’t get it.


If you could tell your children's first parents anything, what would you tell them?

Thank you. I love you. I love seeing you and my kids together. I hope you’re OK. I worry about you. I wish I heard from you more often. I’m afraid of sharing too much about how amazing the kids are because I’m afraid it’s painful for you. You inspire me. (I tell them those things already.)


Having been through the adoption process twice, how did your experiences compare or differ from each other? How did you process the emotions and the grief side of placement the second time around?


This is something I often think about, yet being asked here, now, the question has proven much more difficult for me to answer than I originally expected. I felt very little grief the first time around, and there are several reasons for that. One, "M," our daughter's birth mother (herself an adoptee) was very young, and it was really easy to understand why she chose adoption. Two, we met her the night before we brought our daughter home, and we haven't seen her since. Three, our journey to parenthood had been terribly long and incredibly painful, and I was literally light-headed when we met "M" and later, our daughter. I was emotionally intoxicated by the "miracle of adoption." It was like falling in love... the world fell away... I felt nothing but pure bliss. Within a few days of homecoming my thoughts turned to "M," and I wondered how she was doing and if her life still fit. Still, she had been so clear and decisive about her decision I never imagined her grieving. Curious, yes... wistful, maybe. Not grieving.

I'm sure that's why I was stunned by the near-obsession I've felt for our son's birth mother, "J." We have a more open relationship with "J" (emails and visits in addition to pictures and letters), and we spent quite a bit more time with her before bringing our son home. "M" has always been sort of a mystical character in my mind, whereas "J" has always been real. Our relationship with "J" snares me in uncertainty - how much detail should I share? Why hasn't she written back yet? Does she ever regret her decision? The up-side about our openness is that I can ask her these questions, and she seems sincere when she says she does not regret her decision. I, of course, worry that she may yet, that she may be protecting herself from grief. But I take her at her word and trust that she will let me know if things change for her.

I know this is a long answer! I think about this a lot. I'm obviously definitely not anti-adoption, but I think the adoption industry can do a much better job educating prospective adoptive parents in this regard. I think most adoptive parents don't realize what angst and healing most birth mothers go through... for some, peace never comes again in this lifetime... and I think that piece should be in place before adopting. Otherwise, it's like having surgery without giving informed consent. Potential adoptive parents should know the WHOLE picture, and that includes talking to birth mothers (with both positive and negative experiences) and adult adoptees (both pro and con adoption) before making a decision. For me, the issue is general under-education by the adoption industry, not adoption itself. One of the reasons I wrote my book is to help change that. I think there's great value in partnerships between adoptive parents, adoption professionals, and birth parents... working together to make sure that "open" is really open for everyone involved.


What do you think has been most influential for you (or any member of the triad) in terms of support?

Maybe surprisingly, birthmother/first mother forums and blogs are the biggest influence on me. I find them generally difficult to read because of the intensity and prevalence of pain expressed there, but for that same reason, I think they’re vital to me as an adoptive parent. I think all adoptive and prospective adoptive parents need to actively cultivate their understanding of birth mothers’ experiences. I think Ann Fessler’s book, The Girls Who Went Away, should be required reading for anyone considering adoption.

Even at the time of our second adoption I was very na├»ve about the adoption industry. Both our children’s birth mothers had family support and no one pressured them into adoption. Both did consider raising their babies, and both would probably have been able to make it work. Each ultimately chose adoption for her own reasons, but since they were (and still are) at peace about their decisions, I never questioned the rhetoric that adoption is a “better” choice than single parenthood or unwed motherhood. At the time, I had no reason to question it.

Since then, through the writing of my book (What I Want My Adopted Child to Know: An Adoptive Parent’s Perspective), I have met and spoken with countless birth parents, extended biological family, and adult adoptees, and my understanding of adoption is much more comprehensive. Certainly, no one birth mother speaks for all birth mothers, and no group speaks for all people, but there are universal themes running through adoption that I think adoptive parents need to understand.


In terms of their adoptions, what do you most want your children to know as they grow up?

Several things – that’s why I wrote my book :), and each is a chapter in What I Want My Adopted Child to Know:
  • I Would Do it All Again
  • We Really Are Your Parents
  • I Regret What I Can’t Give You
  • You Are Not Different Because You Were Adopted. You Are Different Because You Are You
  • To My Daughter/To My Son (“I can’t imagine any mother loving her child more than I love you.”)
  • I Want to Be Part of Your Process
  • I Think About Your Birth Parents
  • Before You Search (“The truth is that your birth story has no real bearing on the opportunity you have to create the life you want.”)
  • I Will Always Love You

What are some of your favorite traditions you enjoy with your children?


Cooking and baking. Reading! Making up songs, exploring the natural world, and writing love notes to each other.

***

Thank you, Sally, for such a lovely interview! I've enjoyed getting to know you a little better. Thanks for letting me pick your brain!

Besides her blog, further information and resources can be found at Sally's website, The Adoptive Parent.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Another great coupon resource

Can you tell I love my coupons? :)

I keep meaning to share that I found another site similar to Shortcuts, which I posted about a few weeks ago. Cellfire works much the same way (see my post on Shortcuts for a more detailed explanation), and what is even more awesome... I've discovered that coupons that overlap are BOTH credited to your account! Combine this with a coupon from the paper, and you can find some items for very cheap or even free! Love it!

I've found so far that Shortcuts is laid out a little better for me... it seems to be a little more organized, and I like that the expiration date is easy for me to find. Cellfire isn't quite as great in this way, but I really can't complain when I'm saving money. :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The million dollar question

Why is it that probably a good 90% of my difficult moments relating to infertility and adoption happen at church?

It was my turn to work in the nursery this morning, and more commonly than not, conversation at some point will turn to babies, who's having babies, who just had a baby, or who will probably soon be having a baby. Pregnancy hormones, labor horror stories, and childbirth scars are all fair game for topics of discussion. I understand that when moms get together, particularly young moms, pregnancy and childbirth does come up at times. I usually just sit quietly and hope for the subject to be changed quickly. Most people know that Sassy was adopted, but it's still an awkward topic for an adoptive mom, as I honestly don't have anything to contribute.

This morning, though, I was dragged into the conversation. I'm sure it was an attempt to make me feel included, but I would have felt better just waiting it out.

Mom #1: "So, are you guys going to be started the proc---"

Me (cuts her off in the middle of the word "process"): "Nope, I'd rather not think about it! I have no idea what we're doing."

Mom #1: "Wouldn't you like to have another baby?"

Me (not interested in explaining the difference between desires and reality): "I'm just really happy with my one kid right now."

Mom #2: "But you don't want them to be too far apart. I know someone who is six years older than their sibling, and they never were very close."

Me: "Oh, I'm not too worried about that yet."

Mom #3: "Well, my kids are all three years apart."

Me: "Maybe I just have a different frame of reference because my next sibling is four years younger than me."

Mom #3: "Really? Are you close?"

Me: "Yes. I'm actually probably even closer with the one who is five years younger than me."

Mom #3: *gives me a dissatisfied look*

Mom #2: "You know, you always think you won't be able to love your second child as much, but you do. I had a few pregnancy scares before I actually ended up being pregnant -- and still got pregnant before I wanted to *laughs* -- and just wasn't excited about that at all. But it all works out in the end."

Mom #1: "Yeah, it's like you can't imagine life any other way now, but once you have another, you won't be able to imagine life any other way then."

Me: "I mean, I know I'd love a second child, but it definitely hard to imagine another loving another child as much as you love your first. It's like -- how can anyone else compare?"

Moms #1, #2, and #3: *smiling, nodding, and giving knowing looks* "You'll be fine! You'd love having a second one!"

Me: "I've always thought how it just won't be the same again, even from when she was a tiny baby."

Mom #1: "Oh, but it is!"

Me: "No, I don't mean about love... I mean about time and attention."

Mom #1: "It really does work out. You really will have enough of everything to go around."

Me: "I mean things like -- when Sassy was a baby, I'd take twenty or thirty minutes just to change her diaper if I wanted to. We'd play or talk or whatever."

Mom #1: "Well... yeah, that DOES change!"

Me: "Even things like Sassy still waking at night sometimes. I'm not ready to be up all night every night again!"

Mom #1: "Yeah. My cousin is an only child, and their reasoning was that her dad didn't think he could love another one as much. When she was a kid, she HATED it. But now as an adult, it's nice because her parents can follow her all around the country when they move and not split their time. She has two boys, and I think her dad now understands what it's like to love two kids. I think he sort of wonders... maybe he could have done it."

Me (getting that the obvious implication here was regret, but not wanting to go down that road with people I'd consider acquaintances): "You know... there's just SO many factors that go into that decision."

Mom #2: "Oh, sure! But you're never really 'ready'... until it happens."

*Another worker brings a young baby into the room, and MY child flocks to see the baby.*

Mom #1 and #2: "See?! She'd be FINE!"

Me: "Yeah... it's ME that I'm worried about though!"

Mom #2: "You'll be FINE! Come on! Have another one! I'm going to talk you into it."

Me (voice shaking): "It's just... I, um... (*getting teary-eyed*) I had a really difficult time bringing Sassy home."

Mom #1 gives me a sympathetic look at this point, and the rest of the room waits for me to divulge as many details as I will.

Me: "It's just, you know... it's tough. I mean... it's taking someone else's child away. I mean, it's not... but it feels like that..."

Mom #1: "But you'd have to think of the good---"

Poor Mom #1. I cut her off for the second time, because I know darn well what was going to be said. Think of the good home you're providing for a baby who needs one. Think of all that she has that she wouldn't have otherwise had. Think of the wonderful Christian home she's now in. Think of what a godly thing adoption is. Think of what her life would have been like if you hadn't intervened.

I couldn't do it. Absolutely never. I couldn't stop the question from coming, but I intercepted it as best I could and spun it in a different direction.

Me: "I know, you think of the end result being that you love your child so much, and you'd go through anything for your child. We talk about this actually, and I know that if it came down to it, I'd have to just push through the initial bad stuff to come out on the other side and be able to love my second child as much as I do Sassy. It's just that... the beginning... it's tough."

I would LOVE to know what anyone else does in situations like these. I try to say the standard line of "We're just happy with one!" and leave it at that, but sometimes, as evidenced by this morning's conversation, that one-liner isn't enough. How can you convey, particularly to a group of people who have NO frame of reference for adoption -- other than it being a "good" thing to do -- the feelings of loss, grief, and hesitation to jump back on the ethics crap shoot? How can you explain, in a relatively brief and somewhat elusive manner, that it's SUCH a multifaceted process? That just because point A leads to point B doesn't mean there aren't eight million microscopic points in between, many of which can carve out a canyon in your soul?

Trying to switch the focus off me a little bit, I asked the only other mom in the room who was parenting an "only" if she got that question a lot, too. She said she was already ten weeks pregnant with her second. Oh. Of course you are.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I'm in

By the skin of my teeth. :)

Deadline ends today for the Open Adoption Bloggers Interview Project.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

If you give a mom some dirty dishes (a true story)

If you give a mom some dirty dinner dishes, she'll rinse them off and put them in the dishwasher.

When she can see to the bottom of the sink again, she'll notice that it's looking a little dingy, so she'll scrub out the sink quickly.

As she's scrubbing out the sink, she'll remember an item of clothing she'd intended to hand wash earlier in the day. She'll grab it and wash it in the sink while she's thinking about it.

When she is finished, she'll take the item upstairs to hang in the bathroom to dry.

While in the bathroom, she'll remember that she put toilet cleaner into the upstairs toilets earlier, but never came back to scrub them out. She'll finish that job since she's already in the bathroom.

While scrubbing the inside of the toilet out, she'll notice the outside could use a good wipe down, so she'll do that as well.

Upon leaving the bathroom, she'll see a stray pair of shoes that needs to be returned to the closet.

Once she's done that, she'll notice that the laundry basket is still sitting on her bed with folded clothes that are ready to be put away. She'll put the clothes away, and then take her child's clothes to the next room.

While putting laundry away in her child's room, she sees there are a couple of items that need to be hung up, so she'll put those things away as well.

She also figures she might as well take a minute to pull out her child's pajamas for the night and lay them out.

Seeing the pajamas will remind her that bathtime is coming soon, so she'll lay out a washcloth in the bathroom.

In the bathroom again, she'll notice that the wet clothing item is dripping onto the floor, so she'll go to the hall closet and pull out a towel to catch the wet drippings.

Returning to her child's room to finish putting the laundry away, she spies a bouncy ball partially hidden under her child's bed, so she'll pick it up and slip it into the spare bedroom to add to the "rainy day" collection.

Upon opening the spare bedroom door, she sees that she's forgotten to put away the wrapping paper rolls she'd gotten out a few nights prior to wrap some gifts. She'll take a minute to put those away.

While she's finishing that job, her small child barges in the room and reminds her that it's time for her bath, so she'll take her to the bathroom, brush her teeth, undress her, and sit her on the potty while drawing her bath.

Her husband enters the room for bath duty and asks "What have you been doing up here?"

"Nothing," she'll reply.

:)

Monday, February 22, 2010

New(ish) blog

I forgot to mention...

I am also now writing at Too Busy for TV. It's a way to chronicle the little projects, fun activities, and simple crafts Sassy and I do, and hopefully encourage others to do the same! I'm loving this new stage she's in of wanting to really explore things and learn through doing.

I also have been featuring some other fantastic reads as I find them! {see new post today about that} There are so many excellent ideas out there... why not take advantage of them? :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Shortcuts

I came across a really neat coupon site a few weeks ago and thought I would share! While there are many online coupon sites from which you can print coupons, this is the only site I have found yet that offers electronic coupons. No printing, no clipping, and no forgetting them at home! :)

Sign up for an account (it's free) and search for your grocery store. If they don't happen to be in your area yet, I did notice that you can request notification when they are.

If you DO see your store listed, you can put in your store card information, and it will link your savings directly to your card. Browse their coupons, add the ones you want to use (or even just any you think you MIGHT use!), and when you purchase that item at your store and use your store card, the value of the coupon is automatically deducted from your total. Easy as pie!

While there are not tons of coupons available through Shortcuts, I've noticed that they do list new ones fairly regularly, so it's important to check every couple of weeks. I've saved $5.25 so far in the two shopping trips I've made since registering my account. Coupons are not doubled as some printed coupons are, but you can use the electronic coupon in combination with a printed or newspaper coupon to save even more money and end up with some really good deals!

Just as regular cut-out coupons do, Shortcuts coupons do have an expiration date. You also cannot reuse them. Just as you hand in your paper coupons to the cashier, Shortcuts coupons are marked on your account as being used. However, it appears that they re-post some coupons, so just keep checking to see what's available.

Hope it works as well for others as it has been for me! :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Raisins: a warning

When serving lunch to your two-year-old, please take caution when adding raisins to their plate. Even if she has NEVER given you an ounce of indication that she just may do something besides eat the raisin, your toddler very well may be calling you when you step out of the room by yelling "Stuck! Stuck in nose!"

You may discover that simply asking your child to blow her nose does nothing to dislodge the stuck raisin. And you may find yourself sitting in front of the largest window to get the best possible light, pinning your small child down in your lap, and using your good tweezers (as its the only pair you have, and the only thing potentially smaller than the nostrils in her cute button nose) to attempt to un-stick a dark dried fruit from a dark, snotty space.

You may further realize that your good tweezers are only pushing the raisin up further into her small nostril. But be persistent! You'll eventually get it out, even if your child is crying and apologizing FOR you since you are apparently not focused on saying you're sorry for the inconvenience.

Anyone else had the pleasure of dislodging pieces of your child's lunch from places they were never intended to be?

No? Just us?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Uncomfortable exchanges

I'm not sure what about me says "adoption poster mom," but apparently there must be something others see that I cannot.

I do understand that adoption is a unique life experience that most people just have not had, so that "singles us out" as being different. That's okay, but sometimes there are those who cross the line into being inappropriate or just plain obnoxious.

This post has been brewing for weeks, and I just haven't had the time or the energy to sit down and pour my thoughts out here. Though, I will say, my husband has gotten an earful. :)

A couple months ago, an older woman from our church (whom I've known for years) came rushing up to me, all excited to tell me some news. Let me preface this story with the fact that this woman, although very kind, is not someone who is known for being tactful or soft-spoken. She's taken an interest in us, though, for different reasons, and I think one of those reasons is the fact that we are an adoptive family. Evidently, this intrigues her. I think she also likes to interact with my daughter as a "granddaughter" of sorts, because she does not have grandchildren.

She was very aware of our being in the adoption process three years ago. She was happy for us when we were matched, even giving us a huge gift bag of adorable coordinating Carter's outfits for our daughter-to-be. But, she's never understood anything about what we've experienced, much less the loss our daughter and her first mom have gone through. I listened to her literally question which month she should pray for Sassy to be born in -- November, because her birthday would not be close to Christmas? Or December, because it had a prettier birthstone? I believe she finally settled on praying for early December, the best of both worlds.

Ahem.

So, this is the picture.

Back to a couple months ago, when she excitedly rushed up to me to share some news.

"I just had to tell you this exciting news! My best friend's son and his wife can't have children, so I told them all about you."

Naturally. Glad to hear I am the silent spokeswoman for infertility.

"I told them how you couldn't have kids and how you adopted and you went through [agency] and had such a marvelous experience."

Marvelous. That really is the word I'd use for an organization who bullied, lied to, and threatened us, and still is operating under the name of Christ.

"Anyway, they were so encouraged by your story, that they also went through [agency], and they just finished up all their paperwork..."

Um, wait a minute... when exactly did they hear MY story? And what part of it would make anyone WANT to support the same organization? I think I'm missing something...

"...and they just got a call that they are getting a baby in 6-8 weeks!"

I really do love when the FedEx man can give me a rough estimate of when to expect a human child to be dropped on my doorstep. It's nice to plan ahead.

"The birthparents are this really nice, young couple who attend [in-state university], and they just don't want the baby."

Yeah. I can totally buy that. Most nice, young couples don't want their babies, so nothing about that statement seems absurd or even a little off-base to me.

"Anyway, I just told them all about you and what a blessing Sassy is to you. I knew you'd be so excited, so I just had to share with you!"

Excited. See? This is my excited face. Pick up on the cues, woman.

I'm not entirely sure where to begin with what is wrong with this picture. I don't even know what bothers me the MOST. Is it the fact that this couple went through the same agency who has brought so much pain upon so many people? Is it the fact that the baby involved is being referred to like a UPS package? Is it that nagging worry that these "birth" parents might be making the wrong decision, with no one to guide them toward reality? Is it the flippant attitude that infertility is no big deal and that adoption is the cure-all for it? Is it that I now feel like I had some part in contributing further to said agency's profits without my knowing or my permission? Is it that adoption is still being painted as a win-win-win situation, with no room or regard for its less marketable (though still very real) qualities?

And how exactly do you BEGIN to scratch the surface with someone who just HAS. NO. CLUE.

The answer? You don't. You simply just don't. I wish I had a better answer, a more positive one. Something that would make me feel like I've at least made a small dent in someone's mind -- just one person. But it's such a MASSIVE issue with so many complexities... how can you do it justice in a five minute conversation in passing?

As my blank stares and glazed-over eyes apparently said nothing to this woman, all I could squeak out was that "it's an emotional time, for sure." That's it. That's all I could say. And then I went home and sobbed.

I had a good cry that day -- for the parents who were facing the dread of losing their child, for the baby who would be losing his or her mommy and daddy, for the waiting parents who might not even have a clue what adoption loss is, and for us. This meaningless, one-sided conversation ripped open wounds that I thought were more healed than they were. I cried because adoption is such an ugly process. I cried because building our family is not so simple as planning nine months in advance. Because I don't know how I can stomach the adoption process a second time, knowing full well what it is like to leave a hospital room with someone else's baby. And yet, if I am completely honest with myself, I know that I would love nothing more than to have more babies, when the time is right. So, what are my options? Adoption or a miracle from God.

Well, it is now 6-8 weeks later. That same woman was ever so thrilled to tell me that the couple's (as in, the adoptive couple, not the people who had the baby) baby had been born, and they were going to "pick it up" the following day. Guess that delivery man must have lost their address. Faulty delivery system.

Then, she said to me, with voice lowered and eyebrows raised, "But... I have to tell you, they were so nervous because... the birthmother breastfed the baby." She raised her eyebrows further and gave me a look as if to say she'd really just told me a juicy piece of dirt.

I let it fly, and I didn't care one bit. I'd had ENOUGH and couldn't tolerate one more shred of this crap.

I don't remember exactly what all came flying out of my trap, but it was something to the effect of how ecstatic I'd have been if Sassy's mother had been able and willing to breastfeed her. How amazing that experience is for a mother and baby both. How nutritionally beneficial, and how emotionally bonding. What a unique experience that no one else can duplicate. I'd have been cheering her on. And what's more, a mother is a mother always. No piece of paper is powerful enough to deny the connection that mother and child have forever. Think of how she felt when her children were born, and imagine trying to squelch that love you automatically have in the most natural way. The fact that my child has another mother does not in ANY way take away my place in her life as her mom. It may not be "normal" to some people, but it IS her reality. We've always viewed this as a choice -- to embrace it or to deny it. What good does it do anyone, least of all our precious daughter, to sweep honesty under the rug? It is what it is, and we are proud of that!

She stood there for a second, a bit taken aback, I think. And then she changed the subject to something completely unrelated and random. The weight of the conversation had shifted, and now she was the one who was uncomfortable. It was obvious she didn't know HOW to respond, so she chose NOT to respond.

I came home that night and told my husband that I'd like to think I made just a small, tiny, microscopic dent in her way of thinking... but I seriously doubt it. She probably just thinks I'm a nut job, but maybe at the very least, it will deter future commentary. :)

At least for a little while.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Complete



Complete.

I enjoyed the Eat From the Pantry Challenge, and successfully completed three out of my four goals. It's that pesky budget that I didn't do so well with. However, it's better to buy things when they're on sale and stock up, rather than to wait to buy them when they aren't on sale and spend more money in the long run... so, whatever. Overall, I'm happy. I did like the challenge of using things already on hand to base my meal-planning on, and I'll have to continue that trend in the future... even though I probably won't be spending under $150 a month for groceries!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

$3.00


...is what I spent on all of these. Our local library has a "library shop" in which they sell books that have either been donated and cannot be used, or library books that have been phased out of the system. I've come home with some amazing finds from this shop, and always make sure to check it out each time we are there, since they restock it frequently. Sassy and I went to the library on this cold Saturday morning, and we found some treasures in the library shop today! We chose twelve books. All children's books are a quarter a piece... you can't beat that! Yes, some are a little old, and some are a little worn... but there are so many books that have tons of life left in them!


We found some cute Little Golden books.


And we found some childhood favorites of mine.


We found a book by one of our favorite funny authors.


I always thought The Magic School Bus books were so neat.


And we came home with this, since it will be in three days.


$3.00 for twelve books. The library shop is a great place!

Monday, January 25, 2010

EFTP Challenge: Week #4 Plan

The last week of January has arrived! This challenge has been harder than I thought in some ways, but not so bad in others. It's kind of a fun challenge to think of what I already have and see if I can put it to use in new and different ways, but I didn't succeed so well on the budget. However, I still think that I've done okay saving money in the long run by buying things as they are on sale, when I have coupons for them, etc. If I totaled up only what we consumed this month and no more, I'd have probably come in under budget anyway... or let's believe that I would. :)

The menu for the last week of January:

Monday 1/25 - spaghetti, broccoli, garlic bread
Tuesday 1/26 - chili dogs (using leftover chili), french fries, cottage cheese
Wednesday 1/27 - chicken fried pork chops*, mashed potatoes, corn, rolls
Thursday 1/28 - hamburgers, macaroni and cheese, baked beans
Friday 1/29 - crunchy garlic chicken*, baked potatoes, fruit
Saturday 1/30 - chicken cordon bleu, twice baked potatoes, green beans, rolls
Sunday 1/31 - tacos, fruit (plans changed last Sunday, so we'll eat this meal this week)

* denotes a new recipe I'm trying

Sunday, January 17, 2010

EFTP Challenge: Week #3 Plan

Halfway through the month!

We're still doing well on goals 1, 3, and 4... it's just that darn budget that hasn't complied so well.

Yep, I'm over-budget. Already. And we're only halfway through the month. I concede defeat on that one. It's that darn 10 for $10 sale at our grocery store!

However, I haven't bought anything that we have not or will not use, and I really don't think I've bought things at unreasonable prices, either. For instance, between the sale and coupon-doubling, I bought a brownie mix last night for 20 cents! I guess, if nothing else, I've learned that I'm probably doing okay on our normal grocery "budget." As is, I would expect to spend approximately $50 for a week's worth of groceries. Which really isn't bad when you think that that comes out to about $7 a day for three people, or $2.38 per person per day. Not bad.

Otherwise, we're still on track. Oh, and the chicken and dumplings meal was terrible. I won't be making it again. Maybe I did something wrong. "E" for effort, though! :) I liked the honey BBQ pork recipe, but would probably add a bit more liquid and/or sauce to cook it in next time, as they ended up a little on the dry side.

Meals for this week:

Monday 1/18 - meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn, rolls (no school tomorrow, and this sounds like a "homey" meal to make in the afternoon!)
Tuesday 1/19 - steak sandwiches with onions and peppers, french fries, fruit
Wednesday 1/20 - pancakes, eggs, breakfast sausage
Thursday 1/21 - chili
Friday 1/22 - cilantro lime pork chops*, cajun rice, rolls
Saturday 1/23 - homemade pizza
Sunday 1/24 - tacos, fruit

* denotes a new recipe I'm trying

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Never would have thought

Since Sassy was born, I have enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom. That was always the plan. It was something my husband and I discussed even before we were married -- that we both wanted me to stay home with our children someday, and that we'd be willing to make the sacrifices necessary in order to make that possible. We both had moms who stayed at home (mostly) while growing up, and felt that was important to both of us when looking ahead to the future of our own family. I know some are not as fortunate, and some choose other paths, but it works for us. :)

I taught elementary school before becoming a mom, and did really enjoy it. I was most certainly ready to get out by the end, and pretty fed up with the endless meetings, paperwork, and documentation that come with the job. I'd dealt with my share of irate, unreasonable, or absentee parents, and I'd gotten my fill of administrative "politics."

But, I do still miss the actual teaching part of teaching. I've even had a small seed in my thoughts of homeschooling Sassy when the time comes, but I'm not sure yet if that will come to fruition or not. I don't want to make that important choice based on my desires rather than her best interest.

For now, I'm just 100% enjoying where we are in life right now, and that includes me being at home.

And then the phone rang this week. The principal from the school where I used to teach said, "I have a favor to ask you, and don't say 'no' right away." Ugh... what was coming?

The short story is that, after a few hours of debating and thinking outside my comfort zone, I agreed to fill a long-term substitute position for a kindergarten teacher who is out on an unexpected medical leave. I've committed to one month, at the most. If her recovery goes well and she's able to return sooner, I let the principal know I wouldn't be offended. :) We also discussed that I cannot work past our agreed-upon deadline. I don't want to get into a situation of, "Oh, do you mind coming in just a couple more days? Just another week? Just one more?"

I only cover the morning class, which is wonderful. I don't think I could have done it full-day. We've pieced together family members who are willing to watch Sassy at our house every morning. This is fantastic, since she's not even awake when I leave for work in the mornings. I'm relieved that we've had to make very minimal changes to her normal routine. The only REAL difference is that I'm not the one here with her, but instead it's grandmas or aunts that she is completely familiar with.

I can't lie; it was flattering to be their first choice fill-in. It feels nice to be appreciated, and all of the other teachers (many of whom are former co-workers) have made me feel right at home again. I've gotten lots of hugs and words of encouragement. Everyone smiles warmly and says, "It's great to have you back!" I think what is most hysterical to me is watching former students pass me in the halls and whisper, "Hey, Mrs. _____ is here... is she back?" In a way, it feels like no time has passed.

The kids are delightful and precious. I've gotten a few hugs from them, too, and one little girl wanted to sit next to me one day. They do stretch my patience quite a bit in a couple of areas, but we'll get there. :)

The most difficult part so far has been putting everything back into order. Since the teacher was out so suddenly, and hasn't been in the classroom since before the holidays, things are fairly chaotic. I'm missing curriculum, portions of lesson plans, worksheets that were to be done, and other materials. Given my "type A" personality, organization was always a strong point of mine while teaching, and I had plans and materials laid out for at least a week in advance, always. Again, this is a unique situation, so it's not really anyone's "fault"... but it does make for some added challenges.

I think things will be much more smooth when the clutter gets under control a bit. I also think it will help the flow of our day significantly when I gain some familiarity with the new reading and phonics curriculum they've implemented this year, which is quite extensive. (Side note: I would love to know why curriculum writers seem to think half-day kindergarten has upwards of seventy minutes to spend alone on phonics. Perhaps it's been a bit too long since they've had to escort a classroom of five-year-olds to the restroom eight times in a morning, tie forty-seven shoelaces in an hour, and compassionately listen to a ten-minute story of how little Johnny's dog has a cold today.)

The mommy guilt isn't as bad as I'd expected during the day, simply because there is no time to think about it. Three days out of five, I have literally NO breaks, from the time they walk in the door to the time I drop them off for dismissal. But, it does hit a bit more when I get home. I eat lunch with my precious girl, and then it's time for her nap. She's been a little crabbier since this all happened, and I've noticed a few more meltdowns than usual. I wonder if this big change (in our world) is affecting her more than I realized. :(

It's only a month. We can do anything for a month! And, I do honestly enjoy it... but I won't be turning in my application for next year. :) I'll have fun with it while it lasts, be able to count the days, and will probably heave a huge sigh of relief when I scoot out of that building on my last day. I'll definitely be ready to go back to "just" a stay-at-home mom. That's my favorite job. :)