Life as MommyMo

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Max's first page

I was literally beginning to obsess over what kit to use for Max's first scrap page. I didn't have this problem with Sam because he was here long before I began to scrap, so there wasn't quite so much (clearly self-induced) pressure. In the end, I went with Melissa's suggestion of Kasia's Love is Blue kit. It's not necessarily a baby kit, but is perfect for a baby boy page.

The reality that we actually have another child on the way is starting to sink in. I bought Max a stocking this weekend as well as his first few Christmas presents. I'm trying to find the balance of wanting to document that we love him and were thinking of him at Christmas even though we can't be together and not making an already intangible situation even harder for Sam to grasp.

Sam is intellectually aware of who Max is, but he seems to be struggling a bit with the whole he's-actually-going-to-live-with-us detail. If we bring it up, he says that "I don't want to talk about that right now." He also still thinks poor Max is just hanging out on a passenger jet somewhere, waiting to come home. In the end, I think that he's just basically struggling to figure out how this all works. If you think about it, it's kind of hard to expect a four-year-old to understand that his brother is a picture on the computer right now and that while everyone is over the moon with excitement, we won't actually get to meet this little person for several more months.

The cool part of Sam being old enough to talk about what's going on is that we can explain to him that everyone felt this way when we found out about him, too. We talk to him about all the calls we made when we were matched with him and how we counted the days until he came home. Even a Sunday School teacher today recalled that Mommy used to walk around carrying a picture of him that ended up in tatters from all the showing off I did. He just smiled when he heard that story.

A few people have asked how I'm going to manage the months between now and when Max can come home. Yes, it's incredibly frustrating and sad to know that our son is with another family, on another continent right now and that only red tape and mountains of paper stand between us. Rather than wallow in what I can't change, though, I'm focusing on really enjoying the time that we still have as a little family of three. I want to savor the last days of being able to give all of my attention to Sam.

Big Oops

I'm realizing this morning my first major mistake in my parenting of little Max. Lots of people have heard me wax poetic about the meanings of the names I give my children. One of my chief criteria for names has been at least part of the name needs to connote the gratitude I feel to God for giving us the opportunity to have such a beautiful family.

Lovely, right?

Well... I've been operating under a very mistaken assumption about Max's name for quite some time. I don't know where I got my faulty info., but I always thought Owen meant "gift of God." That seemed perfect and was the deciding factor for his middle name.

As it turns out, Owen actually means "well-born." He's already Maxwell Owen to me, so his name won't change, but I've been pondering all morning the "new" meaning of this name.

Two thoughts come to mind. We always want our kids to have a special place in their hearts for their birth mothers. It was out of unspeakable love that those women made the choices they did, so it's very appropriate to call Max "well-born." We also want our kids to grow up knowing they are children of God first and foremost, so, again that name still works.

I feel better getting the mistake off my chest. I feel a scrap page about my idiocy and subsequent epiphany coming on, though!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Worth the Wait!

Apparently all the adoption wives' tales about your call coming the minute you think you can't take any more waiting are actually true!

After 66 weeks, we received the referral of Maxwell Owen Tae Min yesterday at 3:47 p.m. Oddly, when the phone finally rang, I didn't jump immediately thinking that this was THE call.

I was at a meeting in Atlanta most of the week, and got special dispensation to keep my phone out and on during the sessions. Someone remarked that it was amusing that every time I talked -- which I tend to do with my hands -- I did it clutching my BlackBerry. In some ways, I didn't want the call to come while I was away from Rob and Sam. In others, I just wanted the call at any time!

Well, when I woke up yesterday morning, I thought to myself (somewhat cynically, I suppose) that I'd probably miss the call while I was in the air flying home. Of course, I checked my voicemail as soon as I landed, and moped off the plane, prepared to wait even until after Christmas for the call.

I was supposed to be taking Sam to a "Santa Jump" at Pump It Up last night, but have a really nasty sinus infection and could barely breathe yesterday. I ended up apologizing profusely, but telling him that we'd go to Toys R Us and pick out a new truck documentary and have a quiet movie night at home last night. It was en route to Toys R Us when my phone rang. I was just about the turn into the parking lot when I heard the phone. I tapped the little button on my Bluetooth, only to realize I'd lost the connection. I contemplated just calling whoever it was once I was parked, but still ended up grabbing the phone thinking it might be Kim. Isn't it amazing how many thoughts can go through my little brain in such a short span of time?!

When I picked up the phone, I also didn't look at the Caller ID... again, weird for me. When I heard the agency director identify herself, I immediately knew that I needed to pull over. I nearly wrecked the van when she agreed that it would be best if I was parked before she told me what she was calling about.

And so it went... We didn't have the experience of an out-of-the-blue call with Sam, and the surprise and joy were everything I imagined they'd be. I managed to keep from crying on the phone, but that could have been because I was taking down notes and actually processing the fact that we were matched with a son. I was really, truly expecting a girl match, though I'd always known we couldn't bet on what the outcome would be.

Korea no longer allows the vast majority of families to request gender, but we impressed upon our social worker at the time that we were not disappointed with that change and that we genuinely didn't have a preference. I had convinced myself in watching the other referrals that it would be a girl, but I really knew I'd be happy with either. I felt like we'd get matched with the child God intended us to have, and that's just what happened.

Sam was in the backseat during the call, of course, and was mildly excited for a few seconds before he realized where we were. Then he only cared about getting into Toys R Us. I felt like it was my first lesson in being a mommy of two. I wanted nothing more than to go home and see the pictures of our son, but Sam would have freaked, so we did our shopping before meeting Rob at home to see the photos.

We'd considered a short list of names for a while, but ended up going with one that, while on the list, probably wasn't the leader for most of the time. When we saw our little guy's face, he just didn't look like some of the other names, but he did look like Max to us. He sort of looks like a sweet, serious, little old man to me and that name just worked. I also like that it goes so well with Sam.

His birth mother did give him his Korean name, so we are absolutely keeping it as part of his name. I searched yesterday evening for a name that meant the same thing as the name she chose, but couldn't find a good American name that means "pretty" or "pretty rock." It's a stretch, but I did read one translation of Maxwell to mean "capable," and since his birthmom wanted him to be "a strong, healthy, happy baby," (a quote that was in his file) we felt like Max still honored that. Owen loosely translates to "gift of God," too, which was important to us.

Sam has adjusted to the news about like I thought he would. He likes to talk about the baby to some degree, and even mentioned that he had a baby in Toys R Us right after the call, but also has moments of not wanting to talk about it and seeming worried.

I've reassured him, after being questioned, that we would certainly love him every bit as much now as we did before Max. I told him that mommies and daddies have special hearts that allow them to grow as much as they need to in order to hold all the love they have for all of their babies.

After hearing that, he was a bit happier about wearing his big brother shirt and was quite chatty with the dentist and his teachers at school about "his baby." He does, however, still seem to think Max is already on a plane. We'll work on that one, or else the next few months will REALLY be long ones.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Keeping my mind occupied

It's too early for the phone to ring, so I'll play this (from Rachel Young's blog.)


1. Put your music player on shuffle (ALL MUSIC).
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
4. Tag 10 friends who might enjoy doing the game as well as the person you got the game from.

God Speed (Sweet Dreams) -- The Dixie Chicks

Barricades and Brickwalls -- Kasey Chambers

The Good Stuff -- Kenny Chesney

I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow -- Soggy Bottom Boys (now this is sad)

Something's Gotta Change -- David Phelps

Bad Day -- Daniel Powter

Life is a Church -- David Phelps

WHAT IS 2 + 2?
Hollaback Girl -- Gwen Stefani (this made me laugh out loud...for more than one reason!)

Feel Like I Do -- Eric Lindell

You're My Better Half -- Keith Urban (how apropos!)

Flyswatter/Ice Water Blues -- Lyle Lovett (huh?)

I Can Drink the Water (Live) -- Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers

Home -- Daughtry

New Shoes -- Paolo Nutini

The Remedy (I Won't Worry) - Jason Mraz

I've Got to Be Clean -- Guster (For the Kids) (all of my work friends are cracking up right now... I'm a hotel germophobe!)

Whiskey River -- Sheryl Crow

My Sanctuary -- Marc Cohn (great song...weird answer)

On My Feet Again -- Jonny Lang

Sexuality -- k.d. lang (uh oh)

Thin Line -- Indigo Girls

It Hurts Me, Too -- Eric Clapton (this one was bound to work since half my iPod is blues)

Noisy Head -- Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers

Secret Agent -- the Backyardigans (maybe I have an admirer??)

I've Fallen in Love With You -- Joss Stone (this one makes me sad, too... Not true!)

Where the Devil Don't Stay -- Drive By Truckers

I'm Letting Go -- Francesca Battistelli

Now you try!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

No Call Today

Another referral came through today (a little boy born in June) for a homestudy in mid-December. I figure we MUST be in the pile of people they are looking at for the new referrals coming through. It really has got to be any day now.

I've clearly crossed some sort of threshold in terms of my ability to remain calm and patient. I am convinced at this point that I won't be getting a call tomorrow, but rather next week when I'm on an airplane or in a meeting. Everyone in Atlanta knows that I will be keeping my cell phone right next to me and will bolt out for a call that is from a few key area codes. I would REALLY rather be home with Rob and Sam when the call comes, but I'd also rather it be sooner rather than later.... so, that's a long way of saying, I just want the call. I'm no longer picky about the particulars.

It would be kind of interesting to get the news while at the home office. I was a bit of a nudge getting policy changed for our entire organization that ensures adoptive parents can take family medical leave (and use their medical leave pay when doing so.) ACS came through with a really fair, balanced and generous policy. I am told, maybe jokingly, that the HR dept. calls it the "Karen Becker policy" behind closed doors. I just might drag my boss over to that department to say thanks in person if the call comes while I'm there.

I also do think Rob and I have decided on our top two names (one for boy, one for girl.) I'll leave that little bit of suspense hanging in the air until we get the news. Both names carry a variation of the meaning "God is gracious" which is perfect. The boy's name is not quite as decided as the girl's, but I have a feeling that in the end we will make the final call based on meaning. We have had a long road to children in the first place, and the addition of this child will mean our family is complete. No matter how we look at it, we are in agreement that all of the wait and heartache along the way have been because we are being matched with the child God meant for us.


I don't think I've ever been tagged on someone else's blog before, but Melissa knows I read her daily Camden and Rory escapades, so she must have known I'd be happy to oblige. :-) And besides, I realize not everyone else is walking around with their phone literally attached to them, waiting for a special call... which I imagine means more news from me about how quiet that phone has been could begin to get boring.

Six Things That Make Me Happy

1. Listening to Sam break into song now that he's memorized a slew of holiday songs for his preschool concert. My favorite is listening to him sing "Hooray for Hanukkah!"

2. The fact that my basement will be completely renovated in time for Christmas morning. Sam will not only have the Geotrax he has his heart set on, but a whole new room of the house in with to play with them!

3. Working downstairs with my laptop so I can simultaneously enjoy CNN and my beautiful Christmas tree.

4. Knowing that I'm married to the kindest, smart and most dedicated guy I know.

5. The number of new photos that I have, waiting to be scrapped, and the notion that I finally have some time off from work to spend scrapping them.

6. Mint truffle Hershey Kisses. Seriously. Try them. And then forget it was me who told you about them when you are looking for someone to blame.

I'm also going to take the liberty of adding here that I'm also grateful that Baby Will and Bob P. are both getting stronger every day.

I'll tag Kim, Shelley, Nancy, Kelli and Kate. If you don't blog, you can use Facebook. Who doesn't love reading about happiness at this time of year?! :-)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

List Watch

I just checked the Holt board again to see that FOUR girl matches have been made in the last 24 hours. Two of them were January homestudies; one was a MARCH homestudy; one didn't note a date.

I think I might actually be about to go off the deep end. I really think I am going to lose if we aren't matched soon! I feel like I can't think about anything else!! I know that sounds melodramatic, but I know my fellow adoptive moms/dads know what I mean. The long months of uncertainty are mentally exhausting to me and I'm getting so sad at the thought that, while my baby is born, I don't know who he/she is and might not even have that information by Christmas. It's sad enough that we won't be together over the holidays, but not even having information and a confirmed match is really depressing to me.

Oddly enough, the glimmer of hope in all of this is that I've often heard adoptive families say that as soon as they feel like they can't wait any longer... the call comes.

I sure hope that's true. I'm ready.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I just checked the Holt board and saw that someone from our agency received their referral yesterday (for a baby girl) whose homestudy was sent to Korea on the same date as ours!!! There appear to be a few people with older homestudies that still aren't matched (for those not familiar with the process, it's not completely chronological) but my stomach did a huge flip when I saw 1/25/08 next to the name on the list! That REALLY means we could we any time now.

We're having dinner with Kim and Ted tonight to celebrate Kim's birthday. I just know that getting a call today would be a PERFECT thing to talk about over dinner. (And don't worry, Kim... If I get a call, I won't leave you hanging until you get here!)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Fun Scrap News

I've always thought it would be fun to need to scrap an "out for publication" page. I finally got to do it this week! I'm pretty sure Lauren helped things along for me, but I got a sweet note from Digital Artist Magazine that they want to publish a layout of mine called "Adored" in their January issue. That particular month's magazine will focus on love layouts, and the page of mine that they liked is one of my all-time favorites. It's a great, sweet photo of Sam, and it just has a simple bit of journaling about how much his Daddy and I love him.

In other news, my adored child apparently has some sort of radar for when Mommy has a day off from work. I've been *trying* to get things like Christmas shopping, cleaning and preparation for the construction starting next week and generally time to NOT think about work fit into my schedule for a while now. I had three days off before Thanksgiving. Sam had pink eye for two of them.

No biggie. I'll just take the next two Fridays off (I have lots of vacation time to squeeze in before the end of the year) and see what I can get done. Well... The precious little man arrived home from school today feeling kind of warm and sporting a voice that sounded like he'd smoked a pack of cigarettes on the ride home. I can hear him on the monitor now, hacking in his sleep. I feel awful for him, but I must admit I also feel a wee bit bad for myself. I was READY for a day off. We also had planned to go out for dinner with Kim tomorrow night while the boys played at "Saving Grace" night at church.

As it looks now, I'll be quarantined at home yet again. The silver lining, however, is that if tonight is any indication, Sam's not going to be that active tomorrow. He'll want to snuggle on the couch for most of the day... That's certainly not a bad way to spend a day (so long as I don't end up with bronchitis next week!)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Major Milestone

See the snazzy haircut on that kid? Rob and I did that ourselves!

Many people know that nothing -- no monster, no ghost, nothing -- instills fear in our child quite like the idea of a haircut.

We've tried every trick we can think of and have even used outright bribery. The best we get is a decent haircut but severely damaged eardrums. Sam screams bloody murder every single time we come even close to Kids Kuts. There's a nice woman there who has come to endure his screams because she knows she's nicely rewarded in the end. You have to tip well when you child occasionally pukes on the person wielding the clippers, after all.

Well, Rob got new clippers for his birthday. We invested in fancy ones now that I'm his main stylist. Sam saw that they're not quite as loud as our old pair, and he decided to brave a home cut. I'm not going to lie. There was whining involved, but no tears and certainly no vomit.

All things considered, I think we did a decent job. Rob is more precise than I am (perhaps because I was the one in front of Sam and would have been the one wearing what was left in his stomach had he freaked out) and went kind of slow, but we got the job done.

I'm partial to little boys with nice, neat haircuts so I hope this is the start of a whole new hair world in our house. It would be so nice to just give a quick trim to both Sam and Rob every ten days or so and know the days of screaming, drooling, trembling and puking salon visits are officially behind us.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Answered Prayers

We have had a picture of this (now) young lady hanging on our refrigerator for nearly three years now. Her name is Rogette and she had been living in Holt's Fontana Village in Haiti awaiting adoption for quite a few years already when we encountered her story for the first time.

I was immediately drawn to her face. We knew that we were not the right permanent family for her. She had been placed by her own family at a fairly advanced age because they did not have the resources to care for her. I knew that a girl nearing her teen years and having been in an orphanage (no matter how well cared for there) for some time needed a mother, in particular, who could be around much more than I can. I first saw her picture and story not long after I started my current position and realized that a travel schedule like mine would not be a good fit for her. It was also not long after Sam's adoption, and we had not completely finished his transition yet.

So, we began to sponsor her through Holt. On several occasions, we were able to send small gifts and notes to her. I prayed for her daily and have kept her picture in our kitchen all this time. I had heard not long ago via a letter from Holt that a family was interested in adopting her, but it wasn't until an email this week that I had confirmation that she has indeed come home to her forever family in the United States. The latest blog entry says she's doing well and has really settled in there. I get teary just thinking about it. I hope she knows that there must be many families like ours who have prayed for her and are overjoyed to see that she now has a home to call her own.

Early Christmas

Christmas came a bit early to our house this year. After vacillating for years, we finally got Rob a new laptop for work. He's been using the Social Studies office computer for about seven years now, and nearly every other teacher in his department has caved and purchased a laptop on their own.

We went ahead and got the computer early for him because he has a huge project coming up for Pearl Harbor Day for which he could really use the laptop. He also has a new SmartBoard in his classroom, so he's made a huge leap into the 21st century.

I not-so-secretly despise it when there's not an element of surprise on Christmas morning. I love shopping in secret, hiding the gifts at home and then watching Rob open them up. I feel like there's not much surprise left in life and gift giving is one place in which you can still manage just a bit of it. Oh, well. He's totally happy, and that's all that matters. I'll try to be creative and find a few small things for him to unwrap that don't damage the budget too badly. That concept is pretty much toast anyway, as we'd originally said we'd try to stick to $100 each for gifts. I'm pretty sure the adapter alone for his new Macbook cost that.

Sam had a totally busy day yesterday and is paying for it today. He had a play date in the morning, followed by two birthday parties. He left the house at 10 a.m. and we didn't get home until after 6:30 last night. Today, the hint of a cold he started with is a full-fledged infection. He sounds like he has socks stuffed in his nostrils and every cough makes *me* wince. I kept him home from Sunday School so that he doesn't infect every other kid before Thanksgiving. I'm hoping that a true day of rest will make him feel better, too.

I'm also hoping he's feeling well enough to go to school tomorrow, since I'm on vacation and planning to spend the days before the holiday in the basement, transforming it into a playroom for him. He's only seen the basement in our house a handful of times, so he does not suspect anything as we work down there. He's absolutely dying for a Geotrax train set for Christmas. We're trying to get the basement playroom ready so that after he opens some new Geotrax on Christmas morning, we can take him downstairs and show him the whole new room he has to play in. We also bought a huge starter set of the trains on Ebay (sorry, Kim!) and are going to have those already set up for him when he goes down there.

I apologize again to Kim for even mentioning our delight over finding this great Geotrax deal out loud. As it turns out, the furious bidding war we had in the final moments of this particular auction were against HER. Of all the people anywhere in the world who could have been bidding on that particular set on that particular day, it was Kim and I fighting it out till the finish. The silver lining is that Ethan, too, will benefit. He's one of Sam's favorite playmates and will have lots of time to play downstairs with the new trains. He'd have even more time if Kim and Ted bid on a house in our neighborhood. ;-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Single Digits

We are now officially in the top ten on the UNofficial Holt "Waiting for Referral" list! I just peeked in and saw that we are #9 on the list that tracks everyone, regardless of requests for gender. We are #7 on the list of families waiting for either gender or a boy.

This is all very technical and probably boring to anyone not obsessing about our match date... which I admit is nearly everyone else in the world. However, it's very exciting for us. I not-so-secretly hope that we'll be matched with a baby before Christmas.

We typically decorate our Christmas tree with an ornament that somehow represents the "biggest" thing that happened to us that year. (This is a completely stolen idea from my sister-in-law's sister... but she's more creative than me and actually MAKES the ornaments. I'm nowhere near that talented and just buy a close facsimile of and object representing the event we are trying to commemorate.)

This year's ornament, we've decided, needs to be a clock to remind us of all of the waiting we've done. We've waited for a baby. We've waited for our new kitchen. You get the idea. So... you'd think a clock ornament would be easy to find. Not so much. Any ideas?? Maybe I can drag my feet a bit longer and have a new baby ornament to add to the tree instead!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Peppermint Mocha

Here's the latest installment in our caffeinated child drama. It's still working and we now have a bona fide coffee connoisseur on our hands. He asks what selection of coffee creamers we have for him every morning. He's tried quite a few and has decided that he's a peppermint mocha kind of kid.

This morning, he woke up (quite early, I might add) with some serious sniffles. He asked for milk with his breakfast, but I was leery of giving it to him since I was afraid it would aggravate his asthma if he really is getting sick. I gave him water instead. He told me that water is too boring for breakfast and demanded to know when the coffee would be ready. I replied that it had just finished and asked if he wanted some peppermint mocha. He looked at me with a completely deadpan expression and said, "Of course I do."

Sarcasm and caffeine. Is that the chicken-and-egg scenario we've created for ourselves? Which came first?! Honestly, given both of his parents' brand of "humor" I'm guessing the sarcasm would have reared its head at some point regardless of when he started drinking coffee.

It's just Sam and I for a couple of days at home... Rob is in upstate New York for the Division's Relay For Life leadership summit. It's so weird to be the one at home holding down the fort while he's at Relay meetings! I'm excited to hear how things are going. He's been working his rear end off for months now to launch a very cool program called Heroes of Hope. He gets to introduce 20+ survivor Heroes this weekend and he's totally psyched about it. The committee also chose him as an honorary Hero and he was just beaming when a spiffy embroidered shirt showed up in the mail for him saying so. If I haven't mentioned it lately, I'm quite proud of him. I'm not sure Sam could have ended up with a better specimen of a human being for a father.

Because Rob is out of town, I'm off to the dentist with Sam alone this morning. So far, Sam's taken to having his teeth cleaned far better than say, getting his hair cut. Hopefully this will be an routine appointment for which I will not regret having tackled alone.

The highlight of my day will actually be getting to spend some time in Sam's classroom after the appointment. It's my turn to read to his class. He chose, to my delight, Is There Really A Human Race by Jamie Lee Curtis for me to read. My sister-in-law and her family gave this book to Sam at least a year ago, and it has been read almost nightly ever since. If you have kids and don't have this book, you're missing out. We also love I'm Going To Like Me (also by Ms. Curtis) if you're looking for additional recommendations!

I should sign off and go print the Gap Old Navy Friends and Family discount coupon that the lovely Melissa sent to me last night. Sam has experienced his annual growth spurt in the last few weeks. All of the 3T pants we own are now showing a bit too much ankle for my taste. I'm pretty sure that if I don't go replace his jeans, he'll be wearing capris by Thanksgiving. Since every inch he gains in height is never matched a single inch around the waist, I'm not looking forward to finding 4T pants that will actually stay on his body.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


So it turns out that I have been unnecessarily worried about not getting matched with our child this year because of quotas. I caved and asked (ready for the bad news if it was real) on the Holt message board today. I figured someone there would know if we were running into quota time this year.

Because we didn't have this wait for referral when adopting Sam, some of the details about the process get jumbled in my pea brain. The proverbial quota I've been fearing for so long only affects travel once you are matched, not being matched in and of itself.

That actually makes sense, because the government in Korea is ultimately controlling how many children actually leave the country each year. Any matches being made now will definitely not travel until next year, so... we could seriously be matched by Christmas.

I am aware that might be wishful thinking, but I'm still getting my hopes up. I would just love to know at this point if we have a boy or a girl (and a picture would be nice.) I can occupy myself over the holidays by decorating his or her room and getting Sam prepared for the new arrival. It's all so esoteric until you have *something* and I feel like we've been in that limbo for way too long.

That's my good news for the day. Back to my regularly scheduled programming, otherwise known as torturing my husband over baby names. For those of you watching from home, we are about 99% decided on a boy's name now. That probably means we'll be matched with a girl and not have the poor child named until she's almost here.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Movin' on up...

I checked the Holt referral list today and we're #9 on the list of families waiting for either gender child. SINGLE DIGITS!! I'm reinspired to believe that we WILL have a new baby. It's so easy to get frustrated and start to feel like it's never going to happen...

It is really starting to feel like so much is changing all at once, which is JUST what happened when Sam came home. We have a new president (whom we are hopeful will bring about true grassroots mobilization for the first time in our generation's lives,) our home is changing for the better (demolition should begin soon,) we are about to start switching Sam to his new "big boy" room AND, there is light at the end of the waiting-for-a-referral tunnel!

I've had lots of phone calls today asking me how I'm feeling on this "day after." Unfortunately, I got what I think is food poisoning just after Obama delivered his victory speech last night. Needless to say, I have not enjoyed this day as much as I'd hoped I could.

I will say, however, that I was proud to the point of tears last night. As the parent of a child who will face racism on some level throughout his life, I am simply giddy at the notion that perhaps those barriers are finally crumbling. It's so easy as a Caucasian American to overlook how insidious the problem can be. I truly believe that times are changing as a direct result of the election of Barack Obama.

I have also told quite a few people when asked that I firmly believe that no one person can bring about the change we need. I know lots of people believe all politicians are shady characters on some level. That may be true, but just complaining about it and accepting that as fact will never change things. I want to believe that we may have a new leader who is uniquely gifted in his ability to stir the souls of many, many Americans. If that is true, and if that continues and we don't become complacent (expecting Obama to single-handedly fix some huge problems) I believe that we can actually see real change.

Call me Pollyanna. Call me glass-half-full. Call me naive. No matter what you call me, though, show me a different solution other than people getting involved, because I just can't see one.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My voice was heard

For a complete news and political junkie like me, today is like the Superbowl and the World Series played at Disneyland all at once. I know plenty of people who are sick of all the political talk (I'm specifically tired of the ads) but I still have plenty of enthusiasm about today.

We got up at 5 a.m. and left the house just after 6 a.m. to vote. We are enthusiastic, yes, but the move was more about self-preservation. Sam really wanted to vote with me and since I recall my mom taking me to the polls (wait, maybe that's what caused all of this *gestures to self like Vanna White*) I wanted to be sure to go at a time that he could come into the booth with me. I had a feeling lines could be long, and no matter how much I want to instill pride in doing your civic duty in my son, I am not prepared to stand in line for hours with him. Remember all the talk about him needing caffeine?!

Sam popped out of bed around 5:45 this morning, ready to put on a blue shirt "because I'm on the blue team, Mommy!"

We snapped a couple of pictures for posterity (and the adorable voter scrap kit burning a hole in my external hard drive) and caravanned over to Thomas Paine Elementary. Now... we vote in nearly every election including all the little local ones a lot of people don't bother with. It's usually a bit like visiting the library: the halls are quiet, people talk in hushed tones and you do what you came to do and get out.

Today was a different story. At 6:12 a.m., it wasn't easy to find a place to park at our polling location. Sam and I parked around the side of the school and got to say good morning to all of the people streaming out ahead of us. The coolest part was that they were all grinning these huge grins. Imagine that! People were totally happy about voting. I can safely say I have never noticed that particular phenomenon before.

Rob ran into an older African-American woman leaving the gymnasium in which we vote. She paused by the "polling center" sign and snapped a quick picture because she was making history today. It's hard not to feel proud about something like that. No matter who you're voting for today, we will make history and that's a very cool thing.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I have lots of other photos of Sam to upload and edit... The best part of today so far has been that he actually ENJOYED Halloween for the first time. He usually cries and feels self-conscious. This year, he couldn't wait to wear his costume and go to parties.

The downside so far... He arrived home from trick-or-treating at 7ish. I asked why they were home so early and found out from Daddy that he literally laid down on the sidewalk, put his head down and said to Rob he was "too tired to stay out. I need to go home." I have a feeling he'll sleep well tonight! Well, once the sugar wears off.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


My heart just did a little leap. I have stayed away from the Holt message boards far more during this wait than I did while we were in process for Sam. I came to realize that it was stressing me out to no end to obsess every single day over how long the process takes... It's a good thing I did make this decision for my sanity this time, seeing as the wait is taking FOREVER.

Well... I just peeked in and checked the very non-official list for referral and see that we are number 11 for a match with either/boy (meaning those people waiting who have not specified a gender preference for their referral.)

I think I might start dancing when we make it to the top 10. All of a sudden, I'm feeling much more hopeful that this will eventually happen! I have been feeling so frustrated and anxious. Maybe now I can start focusing on the fun stuff again. Like the kid needs a room! I don't want to start decorating for real until I know if we're matched with a boy or a girl, but part of getting started is getting Sam moved to his new "big boy" room, so I need to really get on that. Once my dad's visit it over, I guess I will get going!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Only in my house...

Yesterday was a perfect fall day. The air was crisp and cool and the sky was beautiful. We decided to finish the weekend by hanging out in our PJs and lighting a fire.

Well... We haven't ordered firewood for this year yet, so Rob ran into the store to grab a small bundle. A couple of hours later, he got a nice fire going. It didn't take long for my eyes to get all red, itchy and swollen and for me to start coughing. I left the living room to join him in the kitchen to get out of the room with the fire in case it was the smoke making me a little uncomfortable. I figured that once the fire settled in, I'd be fine.

When I got to the kitchen, Rob glanced over at the fire and said... "Wow. Birch wood really makes a nice fire, doesn't it?"

I replied, "You bought birch wood to burn inside our house?"

To most normal people this would seem like an insanely picky thing for me to care about, let alone mention to my dear husband.

EXCEPT, birch is the common element in all of the things, like peaches, etc., that I am ridiculously allergic to. If you don't know this very strange quirk about me, I'm so allergic that my friend Kim can't even use her usual apricot soap in the shower on a day she's going to see me or I can't sit next to hear without getting all clogged up. Weird.

I was certain my coughing after our conversation was psychosomatic at first, but I ended up without a voice and gasping for air shortly thereafter, and albuterol seemed to reverse the problem, so I realized it actually was the birch.

Seriously. If that doesn't define high maintenance, I don't know what does. This morning I feel like I swallowed glass from all of the coughing yesterday. I have a feeling Rob will be burning Duraflame logs for at least a couple of weeks now. The poor guy is traumatized.

On a lighter note, I'm lifting this from Kim's blog because it made me laugh out loud.

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car)Greta Sienna

2. YOUR ROCK STAR TOUR'S NAME: ("The"+Your favorite hobby/craft, fave weather element +tour) The scrapping thunder tour... this makes me sound like a wrestler, I think.

3. YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fave icecream flavor, favorite cookie) Moose Tracks Toll House...not so tough, really.

4. YOUR "FLY" GIRL NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name)KBec... sadly, lots of people actually call me this.

5. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)Green Wolf

6. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born) Christine Lenexa...totally works.

7. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name , first 2 letters of your first)Becka ... almost a real name, so not so funny.

8. SUPERHERO NAME: ("The"+2nd favorite color, favorite drink) The Purple Gimlet...heehee

9. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers) Francis Allen... Again. Funny.

10. NAME YOUR SPOUSE CALLS YOU: (the name of your favorite perfume, favorite candy)Gucci Baby Ruth... He'd better not try this one.

11. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother's & father's middle names) Ann Allen... perfectly anonymous, really.

12. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (your 5th grade teacher's last name, a major city that starts with the same letter) Mallin Miami... This is why I chose PRINT journalism.

13. SPY NAME:(your favorite season/holiday, flower) Autumn Hydrangea... kinda lame and not a very easy name to hide with.

14. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you're wearing right now+ "ie" or "y")Apple Hoodie... I can hear Sam calling me this now.

15. HIPPY NAME: (what you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree) Granola Cypress ... perfect for a hippie.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Bittersweet Day

I struggle every year on October 17th to sift through all the emotions of this day. It was six years ago today that my life changed forever.

I've never been able to completely put into words what I went through on a day that, all at once, I discovered I was pregnant for the first time, but lost that baby and nearly my own life in the process.

To this day, it's strange to recall the sequence of events. I just glanced at the clock and realized that six years ago at this time, I was probably putting my make-up on when I had that first strangely intuitive notion that perhaps I was pregnant. Since we hadn't been trying I had no reason at all to think that was the case.

I left the house not long after that, drove the wrong way to work and decided to just take a test (all before going to the office) so that I could clear my mind and focus. I'm sure everyone realizes that their life has changed forever the moment they see those two lines on a test, but I had no idea just how surreal the day would be at that point. I assumed the passing feelings of nausea and dizziness I was experienced were all related to nerves over the unexpected news and the anticipation of telling Rob.

I know that I need to continue writing this story, and particularly the experiences I went through when I was near-death, but I just can't yet. I've tried at the urging of so many people, but I always feel like I just need to keep those details stored only in my mind for some reason.

I did go listen to an amazing man from our church talk about all he went through on the road to a heart transplant. I asked him, since he's an author, about finally deciding to write about his journey. He told me that he thinks I'll feel better about everything once I start writing and that I'll probably recall details that I don't remember. I think he may be right, so I really am going to push myself to do it. Soon.

Ironically, this week's DigiDare (a scrapping challenge site I visit weekly) is about scrapping the story of a journey. I instantly thought that perhaps someone is trying to tell me that I need to get started!

Anyway, I wade through the thoughts of that day in 2002 repeatedly every year on Oct. 17. I always end up feeling sad at the thought of all the loss that started that day, incredibly grateful that I made it through, and at peace that -- despite all the pain of those years -- it was all to bring us to the family we have today. I wouldn't trade how things turned out for anything, but it doesn't keep me from feeling a sense of permanent loss on some level.

I'll spend today doing utterly mundane things and being especially careful to remember how blessed I actually am.

In the spirit of doing the regular stuff of my life that makes me happy, I will note that I'll be hosting my first scrapping challenge this weekend as part of Kelley Mickus' party at All Things Visual. Kelley graciously invited me to work with her designs at least a year and a half ago at this point. Not only is she a great designer, we've really been able to get to know each other and every email I get from her brings a smile to my face! Join us at

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Catching Up

The more people I hear about that read my blog, the more I realize that it's not just me talking to myself (I'm quick that way, huh?!) It also means that I catch myself sometimes wondering just how ready I really am to spill my guts. I started blogging as a journal, but I find that there are things that I struggle to put into words. It's as if committing them to paper (or a screen) makes them a real part of my life and our family's history. Sometimes I'm just not ready to admit things right away.

One of those realizations has come to pass since I last blogged. I have probably talked before about the possibility of Sam having ADHD. We've always known he was more than a bit exuberant, but the older he gets, the more we realize he just can't control it. He's not being disobedient or stubborn as much as he's just unable to contain his energy and emotions. His pediatrician, his teachers, his Sunday School teachers all admit that he's beginning to fall outside what's typical for any other child his age.

A quick example that for some reason really got to me: When it was the week to practice writing the letter "c" in school, I saw the papers of the other kids in Sam's class. Each one wrote (somewhat wobbly) letters in a pretty decent row. Sam, however, only seems to get the overall shape of the letter and wrote little arcs in all directions all over a page. Similar things have happened with other lessons and his teacher says that she's already learned that there are times when Sam simply cannot learn if she forces him to sit still at a time when he's not ready. That means he doesn't end up practicing things nearly as much as other kids might.

I have cried off and on about all of this for weeks now. I don't want Sam to face any more hardship than he needs to. No one wants that for their child. I want him to be able to make great use of the obviously brilliant brain he was blessed with (I'm not biased, of course.) I wonder how he'll be affected when the new baby arrives. I don't want to jump to conclusions about what might really be wrong. I want to believe that his struggles are a phase. I get totally confused about what might be attachment related, what's nothing, and what might actually be a real issue for him.

And to be perfectly honest with myself, I am completely Type A and have a really hard time dealing with things that are outside my control. I pray every single day that I'll figure out the right way to cope with everything without worrying about what anyone else says or thinks. That last part is -- by far -- the hardest part for me. The few people that I've had real conversations with about all of this usually immediately ask about medication and finding any other way to deal with what may turn out to be a lifelong issue for Sam.

I swing wildly back and forth about all of this. My gut instinct is to say that I need to find ANY way other than real drugs to deal with this once/if he's formally diagnosed soon (and I fully admit I'm totally dragging my feet. I need to pull myself together, but I am not feeling quite ready to get the formal diagnosis.. That makes all that I've written before sound like I've already made a diagnosis that I'm not qualified to make. In some ways I suppose I have. I don't like to admit that for real, but he's got more than enough signs and I'll explain in a minute what brought it all together for me.) I don't like the idea of psychotropic drugs in a 33-lb. body. I also know that ADHD is a chemical imbalance in the brain. I would not deny him real treatment if he had another disorder.

My stopgap measure comes in the form of morning coffee. Caffeine in general, really. I have been doing a lot of research (big shock, I know) and have found numerous studies that say caffeine can have the same effect on dopamine levels in the brain as low doses of Ritalin without the other side effects. It's counterintuitive to give caffeine to a hyper child, but it's like magic when you see how it works. It completely levels him out and helps him focus. Once I told his teacher, she said that he had been remarkably better during lessons and was managing to sit still with the other kids to practice, and his writing already shows dramatic improvement. We've also been accustomed to NEEDING two adults to manage Sam in a place like Costco. Well, since the addition of caffeine to his diet (low doses, I assure you... I did that research, too) he sits in a cart and has a nice chat with us while we shop. It's a completely different experience than what we used to face, which was a whiny, climbing, screaming, bouncy child for the duration of any given shopping trip.

Now that all of this is off my chest for the moment, I'm off to take him to school. I have to admit that I'm far less anxious since we started testing this theory. It's so nice not to dread the feedback at the end of the day. Most days, we know that they're going to tell us now that he's a happy, active kid who's making great progress in school.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Machine Gun Fire

Rob always says my typing sounds a lot like machine gun fire. I've been known to get comments from people who walk by me when I'm typing on my laptop at meetings. So, when I saw this speed test on the Sweet Shoppe blog today I decided to take a quick crack at it.

86 words

Typing Test

I used to say I typed about 90 words a minute, so I guess I wasn't that far off!

I'm headed out in a bit to go to Tennessee again. The sky looks kind of ominous and the wind is really blowing. I hope that doesn't affect travel too much. Then again, it was beautiful last week when I took a tour of the entire MidSouth before making it to Nashville. Who knows what will happen? All I know is that I'm already missing Grey's Anatomy. I guess getting in a bit later won't make much difference. I'll stop now before I jinx myself.

The biggest news in the week is that one of our favorite people FINALLY came home (safely!!!) from Qatar a couple of days ago. We are doing our best to be patient about when it's *our* turn to finally see him! I understand he wants to catch up with his own wife and child first... I can be that patient if I must.

I took Sam in to school a bit late today, and ended up with some time to talk to his teacher in more detail than I'm usually able to. She actually started a conversation with me, asking if we'd considered having Sam evaluated by a neurologist. I was a bit surprised, but she quickly explained that her comment is related to the ongoing concerns we've had about his ability to focus and learn. She said to me that his intelligence is definitely not in question, but that he's highly unusual in his inability to concentrate when doing lessons. She said it takes almost nothing to distract him and that he's not yet been able to get through a worksheet on his own without needing significant "help."

We had a conversation about how much more he struggles with this than any other child in his class. We've known this was an issue for a while, but to hear the first real words of confirmation that he's not learning is not good news. I not exactly sure what our next step is going to be, but we will do something. I see evidence of the same issues she talks about happening at home, so I agree that we need to pay attention. I'm just hoping that someone can suggest strategies for behavior modification that might be helpful. I'm in full research mode now.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Drink on Me

The Recipe For Karen

3 parts Wit

2 parts Inspiration

1 part Whimsy

Splash of Warmth

Finish off with an olive

I'm stuck in a hotel in Nashville after two long days of meetings. It's always refreshing to get to spend talk just talking (this was actually interviewing) field staff and volunteers across the country about our favorite subject -- Relay For Life -- but 10 solid hours of questioning does get a bit exhausting.

I'm in the lovely airport Marriott, just trying to relax before getting up at 4:30 a.m. for another early morning flight... The little Blogthing above seemed funny to me in my current state, so I'm sharing it with you. :-)

It might be advisable for me to have a drink or two, actually, before embarking on another airline journey. I left my house at 3 p.m. on Thursday to pick Sam up and get to the airport in time for a 5:30 flight. All seemed to be going swimmingly for a while. Our inbound flight was about 15 min. delayed, but no biggie. USAirways books in extra time, so I figured I'd still reach Nashville in time to order some dinner in my hotel room and get some writing done before going to bed.

Well... I boarded my plane around 5:50 p.m. We took off around 6:20. I did a little work and read Newsweek during the one hour and 20 min. jaunt to Tennessee. I hear the captain get on the intercom to very pleasantly let us know that we were making our initial descent, "but unfortunately, folks, it's NOT into Nashville."


As it turns out, our plane was having a wee issue with the anti-skid braking mechanism, and the runway we were supposed to use in Nashville was closed. The only remaining runway was too short for our plane to land, so we were going to have to go to Louisville, KY and wait to be told what would happen next.

Ok. We go to Louisville. We sit for about 20 min. without being let off the plane when we're then told that there is not a plane for us in Louisville, but because of the Ryder Cup, there is also not a bus to take us to Nashville, nor any cars to rent, nor any hotel rooms in the city. So..... I start to think we're going to spend the night sleeping on the plane. Visions of those people who have reportedly sat for 15 hours on board planes without being let off begin to pass through my mind.

The intercom crackles again. "Well, folks... We've located a plane for all of you. It's in Cincinnati."

Back into the air we go. I seem to be perhaps the only person a bit concerned, not that we're being diverted for the second time, but that we continue to travel in a plane with a less than reliable braking system. The flying part is fine, but I'm pretty partial to planes that can also stop once they're back on the ground.

Well.. We get to Cincinnati and realize we are swapping planes with a bunch of people headed to Philly. Turns out those poor people were getting to ride the crappy plane because the runways in Philly are long enough that the plane would eventually coast to a stop (I'm guessing) and then they could take the plane out of service. I have no idea if those people originally knew the cause for their delay, but the airline held us in the same area as them before we reboarded, so if they didn't know before that, they did after they heard from a bunch of ticked off passengers that were five hours in to a supposed 100 min. flight.

In all honestly, I actually was quite calm through all of this. I was nervous about that whole no brakes thing, but I actually think the nice little pills I'd been taking to keep from being dizzy for my ears have weird, unlisted anti-anxiety properties, because I really did just go where they told me to go.

The end of my long saga is that I did get to Nashville around 11:45 ET that night. All things considered, I am impressed I actually got there that night. Turns out I landed within two minutes of my boss' final flight from California, so we had a VERY late dinner and then left the hotel fewer than five hours later to drive to Bowling Green, Kentucky to interview field staff about staffing successful Relays.

What a trip! So... I will not drink to calm my nerves tonight, but I will pray that I get home in time to spend some time with Sam tomorrow. Assuming I actually get home at the expected time, we plan to go apple picking. I'm looking forward to some straightforward fun!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fonts Make Me Happy

I've been a total font geek for as long as I can remember. Back in college, while taking newspaper layout and design classes, I would spend forever searching for just the perfect typeface when creating a new look for a newspaper. Imagine my delight when I realized that digital scrapbooking could provide me an actual REASON to download hundreds of fonts to my computer.

Like any good addict, I've moved beyond what I can find on free font sites. I tend to like to use beautiful fonts that are not totally common. I even get a little twitch when I see marketing materials created with Times New Roman.

All of this explains why I was giddy with excitement to find out I'd been accepted to Fontologie's Creative Team. It just so happens that I'd received a nice big box full of printed pages two days before I saw the call for Fontologie's team. I noticed that I've used a couple of her fonts, in particular, on a large percentage of every page I've created since purchasing them. The moment I noticed the call posted to her blog, I *ran* (as much as you can do that online... but you know what I mean. My clicker hand couldn't find the link to my yahoo email account fast enough.) off to send her a message.

And that's the happy news with which I'm starting this day!

In other news... I've spent the early part of this week at various doctors' offices. I have a teeny bit of ear pain that was joined by a not-so-teeny amount of dizziness on Saturday. Ever since, I've been feeling as though I'm on a cruise, but without the maid service and free drinks. The lovely nurse practitioner at my doctor's office determined that I have a garden variety case of fall allergies that are causing enough swelling in my sinuses to put pressure on my inner ear. Nothing too exciting, but the dizziness is getting really old. I've been taking a handy little pill that all but makes the dizziness disappear, but I learned yesterday that no amount of caffeine can counterbalance the drowsiness that comes with those pills. So today, I will just do my best to sit still so that I can write without pharmaceutical assistance.

Sam had his (tardy, I realize) four-year-old well visit yesterday. He gained three pounds and grew three inches in the last year, which leaves him at the exact same spot on the growth trajectory that he was last year. He's in the 10th percentile for height and 25th percentile for weight, just like his mommy. I kid.

Overall, he's a very healthy little guy. He took three injections of various vaccines like a *complete* trooper. At 34, I think I would have acted out more than he did! The doctor did acknowledge that his resistance to direction (like that euphemism for stubborn and hyper?) is probably something that we should start to address directly so as not to affect learning going forward. He does not have any actual delays in skills, but he simply does not want to practice things like writing and coloring unless he decides he's ready. He even told Ms. Elaine that he didn't need to practice his letters because "I'll do that when I get to kindergarten."

I'm going to call the district again this week and see if they can do an observation of him. I'm more confident than I was six months ago that most of this is seated in his need for control, which the doctor and our social workers have agreed is related to attachment. When you lose so much at a young age, the psychological need for control can be stronger than it might be for another child. That's all to say that I'm pretty sure getting some advice on how to work with him will help quite a bit.

The eating part of our day continues to be just hideous, in my estimation. I'm not going to lie. If I could afford to have someone come to my house for the sole purpose of feeding my child, I would hand them my wallet and go eat my own dinner free from whining and abject disobedience. Again, I kid. Well, maybe not. The not-so-good-for-mommy news was that the complete refusal to eat any kind of real food may continue for another YEAR or, dare I say it, even TWO YEARS.

I want to believe that sibling rivalry could convince Sam to try something other than chicken nuggets and pasta, but I probably should not hold my breath.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Things I Love

I love these lists for some reason, so it seemed appropriate to steal the Things You Love list from Kim's blog.

Song you love: Amazing Grace
Word you love: family
Academic subject you love: Spanish
Hobby you love: Digiscrapping
Type of baked good you love: cookies
Type of sky you love: cloudy (weird, I know)
Beverage you love: coffee
Vacation you love: Colorado
Restaurant you love: Tortilla Press
Way of getting around that you love: weird question... car, I suppose
Person you love: Rob and Sam
Room in your home (or ideal home) you love: once it's done, my kitchen
Movie you love: Breakfast at Tiffany's
Book you love: Pillars of the Earth
City you love: Dublin and Chicago
Future plan you love: New baby!
Form of communication you love: Facebook
Junk food you love: ice cream

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Along with School...

...come germs. We typically have disease-free summers in our house, thank goodness. Rob and Sam both then find a way to snag a few germs once back at their respective schools and have yucky, nasty colds sometime in late September. Lucky me, I get it last, but usually even worse than they do.

Well, it took Sam all of two full days in school to develop his first bug. Rob did say that on the very first morning, Sam lined up to go to the breakfast room right next to a kid that had what we grossly refer to as "snot slugs" coming out of his nose. Yuck. Why people send their kids to daycare with actual green sludge leaking from their bodies is beyond me. I suppose I should not take for granted that we have an easier time managing sick days with our jobs than many people do.

In any case, we had to miss dinner with Brad, Cristin and Shane last night and I'm sadly still on the fence about another birthday party this morning. I think Sam could handle it, but I have such a hard time deciding when to keep him away from other kids -- especially for stuff that's "optional." I have a feeling we'll go so as not to disappoint Sam or the birthday girl, and I will spend hours running around behind Sam with wipes.

I wouldn't be as worried if Hurricane Hanna weren't headed here any time now. I am quite sure the party will be inside, which means more kids will be in range of Sam's sneezes!

I just asked Sam how he was feeling. He said, "I'm a whole lot great and just a little bit sick." At least he's not whining!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

First Day of School

Today was Sam's first day back at school for true Pre-K. We were admittedly a little nervous because we felt like last year's teacher had sort of labeled Sam as a difficult kid. We just didn't know what today would bring with a new teacher and a drop kick back into a strict routine.

We started the day with having to open the door to Sam's room around 6:40 to *gently* wake him up. Somewhat like Eeyore (as Nonni would say) he rolled over and groaned that he did not want to go to school. I reminded him that all of his friends would be there and that there would be a whole room full of new toys at his disposal.

He countered with, "Mommy... are you going to drop me off?" (He knows that when I take him, he goes in later, which he likes. Daddy has to rush more than I do in the morning.)

When I assured him that today was special and that both Rob and I would be accompanying him down the long hall to the Eagles' room, he scrunched up his brow and asked if I could also be there to pick him up.

I told him that was the plan, and he bounded out of bed like he had springs in his tushie. He cheered, "All right then! I'm READY to go! Let's get going to school, Mommy!"

I could not have asked for a better start. He was a bit too excited for breakfast at home, but did pose for the requisite photos (which are not uploaded because the camera battery was near-death before I got it plugged in) and happily crawled up into his carseat, ready for school.

Being the experienced Sam parents that we are, we figured the proverbial other shoe was about to drop. I estimated that moment would occur right as Rob HAD to leave in order not to be late on his first day.

To my delight and surprise, he bounced down the hall, happily greeted the new teacher and barely looked back at us when he saw who was in the nursery already. He waved at us and kept on chattering to Adam.

Rob was a wee bit nervous that the new teacher already acknowledged that she knew him to be a child that "needs incentives" to behave. I said it was because she has dealt with him in the breakfast room for years. Well... we both waited to see who was right when we picked him up today.

As we arrived, Miss RuthAnne said very clearly and definitively "Sam. Was...." that was all we needed to hear before glancing sidelong at one another and bracing for a bad report.

Oh we of little faith. She finished with "WONDERFUL TODAY!" The caps are not mine. She said it with THAT MUCH enthusiasm. Seriously. I wanted to skip out of there. They still nap in the Eagles room, but those children who do not sleep are expected to sit quietly and read or rest for at least an hour. Well... My brilliant child sat on his mat without moving or needing to be coddled (which he is a big fan of and asked for daily in the Owls' room last year) for almost TWO hours without a single syllable or incident.

I. could. not. believe. it. I'm not sure Sam has ever been awake AND quiet for two hours. Ever.

Even though this is getting long, I have to recount another new nightly event in our house. Sam is well aware at this point in his young life that he is adopted and came home to his forever family on an airplane from Korea. He has asked lots of questions about which type of plane our new baby will come home on. He even asks if we will drive over the Ben Franklin Bridge when we go to meet her or him... You get the idea. He asks for specifics.

Well, I described exactly what we would do the day/night the new baby comes home. It occurred to Sam that the same scenario played out the night he flew home. So, he asks us every single night now to re-enact his homecoming. He pretends to be on a plane. He announces when he's at the gate. We excitedly wait for him to come off the plane. He crawls and goos like a baby, jumps into Mommy's arms. We exclaim how thrilled we are to finally meet him. We pretend to take pictures. We discuss who else is there to meet him. I give him a fake bottle to calm his crying, and he then moves on to Daddy who rocks him to sleep in about 15 seconds.

I wonder how long this evening routine will last? It makes no difference to me. It's finally sinking in that he has a story of the day he became part of our family and I think it's good for him to be able to imagine what it was like.

The most amusing part of tonight's little play was that I asked who he was on the plane with. We've explained in the past that he lived with his foster mom, Mrs. Lee, in Korea and that a nice lady named Mrs. Kim let him sit on her lap on the way home. Well, he told me tonight that Aunt Kim is always on the plane with him! I think it's adorable that he thinks she was the one to take care of him and make sure he got home safely!

Monday, August 25, 2008


We've had a pretty uneventful few weeks, but today marks the first "real" day of our vacation... Sadly, we couldn't make it happen until the last week of summer, so the time is kind of bittersweet. In some ways, I'm finding staying home for vacation more relaxing than I thought it might be. It's nice to just have a long stretch of days to unwind. Being home, though, also means there are still chores to do and the phone continues to ring. We like it when it rings with friends and family wanting to spend time together, but the yucky and annoying calls still come, too.

We did lots of errands today and somehow managed to wear Sam out like he'd run a marathon. He went to sleep early, and was out cold in under six minutes! Rob has a Relay call with the Division tonight, so I'm catching up on blog reading and writing and settling in to watch the first night of the Democratic National Convention. For a politics junkie, it's like the SuperBowl.

It's no secret that I've been a longtime Barack Obama fan. For that very reason, I've had plenty of calls and emails asking what I think of his pick for VP. It's almost become amusing... I'm like a hometown pundit or something!

For the record, I'm kind of lukewarm on the pick right now. I would have liked to have seen Obama choose more of a wildcard, less politics-as-usual running mate. I also feel pretty strongly that the Republicans are going to have a field day with the fact that he chose someone who did vote for the war. I would like to think that we could elect an entire team who truly represents what so many Americans (including me) want in a president/vice president, but I understand the political reality of the situation. There are too many people that doubt that someone "inexperienced" can be a good president. I'm sure that's why people much smarter than me chose Joe Biden. Also for the record, I think that perhaps people who haven't been engrossed in Beltway politics for many decades COULD do a good job of turning things around. I'd like to see some fresh blood in the White House!

Oh well, I'm by no means retiring my collection of Obama gear. I am sure my enthusiasm will be renewed watching the nutty diehards in Denver... They look remarkably like Relayers, just wearing the wrong color!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

10 Years!

Today, Rob and I celebrate 10 years of marriage. We went away in June when we had the babysitting help to mark the occasion, so today's celebration is a bit lower key. We're vascillating between going to see The Dark Knight before dinner (Um, woohoo?) or shopping for a new coffee maker. What activities could make us sound MORE like a suburban couple firmly planted in our mid-thirties?! The deciding factor? We have a Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon that MAY save us more money than we could buying the same coffee maker at Costco. That's a lot of shopping to drag Sam along for, so we may use our "free time" to just enjoy whine-free browsing.

In some ways, it's kind of fitting that we're so ok with that kind of celebration. Rob is truly my very best friend, and we're happy doing just about anything as long as we're doing it together. That can sound trite, but it's really how it is. The highest compliment I can pay him is to say that after a hard week or a busy work trip, I just want to be alone. My definition of "alone" though, always includes Rob and Sam. I really am at my happiest when we can just be together without too many obligations. That means it's just the people that Rob and Sam are that make me happy. I don't need to do something that is super-exciting to be blissfully content. I think that sounds like a good marriage!

It dawned on me this morning that I am quickly approaching a unique milestone. I will soon have the longest marriage in my own family. We're actually well past that point of "togetherness" if you consider that Rob and I have been together for 17 1/2 years now. It's the kind of thought that makes me wish I had some way to help other people just be happy like we are. It's something that's so simple, yet so easy to take for granted. We have the occasional conversation about how sad we are when we stop to realize how few truly happy couples we seem to know. I wish I knew what the answer was to be happy for a lifetime. I think it's really a lot of little things, and Rob and I are very blessed to value those same elements and work hard together to keep them strong.

Rob may not even read this today... Oddly enough, I don't think he ever reads my blog. I guess he figures he knows everything that's in here, but if he does, I want him to know that being that anti-hugger that I am, I realize that I'm not the most overtly sentimental and affectionate person he could have shackled himself to for all eternity. That does not diminish, however, how much I know I love him and how grateful I am to have him as my partner for life. I know a lot of very wonderful, nice, intelligent people, but I honestly have never met someone that I can for one second imagine being as close to and as happy with as I am with Rob.

I love that Sam will one day understand that Rob and I are actual high school sweethearts that have been lucky enough to have figured out the whole forever thing. I also hope he knows what a role he plays in making us happy as a couple, too. It's so gratifying to have gone down the very long road to parenthood together, and to get to enjoy the rewards of molding a little person as a team. When I'm feeling melodramatic (which, I admit, I am wont to do) I like to remind myself that what hasn't killed us (literally, in some cases!) has made us stronger and that I should savor every moment that I have.

I'm not always great at doing that, but I try. Today's a day that it's only fitting to reflect on my life, and I am proud to say that I am really a happy person. Thanks, Rob!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Feeling Proud

I am having my usual post-Summit mix of emotions this afternoon. Putting on such a huge meeting is a ton of work, but for very obvious good reasons. I am typically exhausted before I even arrive... luckily the adrenaline level is insanely high and totally contagious, so I make it through without collapsing in front of tons of volunteers.

I am feeling the pain today, but it's the satisfying kind... like when you take a very long walk and know you've done something good for yourself when you get home. I made it home with no flight delays this morning (which feels like the universe's little gift to me) and am able to get some R&R in before we head out to a family party tonight.

I had so much fun watching everyone in the ballroom in Indianapolis get excited to see people like Gordy Klatt, Pat Flynn, Dr. Seffrin, Dr. Brawley, Jeff Ross and so many other Relay celebs take the stage this weekend. It was especially fun to "experience" the Summit through Rob's eyes for a few brief moments. He's so committed to Relay, but had to watch most of the Summit (our biggest event of the year!) from the sidelines last year since we had Sam with us.

It was rather amusing, though, that Rob almost had no time for his boring wife whilst there. He was way too busy networking and basically being every bit the social butterfly. It was surreal. On Thursday night, we hung out in the hotel bar with a few friends and when I finally said I needed to get to bed so I could make a very early morning rehearsal, Rob just replied with, "I think I'll stay down here for a while and talk to these guys." What?? Voluntary socializing without my assistance? Who are you and what have you done with my husband??!

The absolute highlight of the weekend for me, though, was seeing Dr. Emil Freireich on the Relay stage. We'd seen Dr. Freireich for the first time about six years ago at the Medford Relay when he was asked by the family of a young leukemia survivor to come speak. Since I'd never forgotten that experience, I was thrilled that we were able to invite him to the nationwide Summit this year. Dr. Freireich and his research partner are credited with essentially "curing" childhood leukemia as well as developing the concept of combination chemotherapy. His contributions to the fight against cancer are nothing short of legendary, and hearing him tell his story was powerful stuff. We invited anyone in the 700+ audience who knew they'd been personally impacted by Dr. Freireich's work to come to the stage as he finished speaking to shake his hand. In the words of Rosanne Radke, it was like watching a religious revival in some ways. The flood of people who poured forth just for the chance to say a sentence to this man was one of the most moving things I've ever witnessed. I get chills just thinking about it. It's not often in your life that you meet someone with such stature who has single-handedly contributed to a better quality of life for MILLIONS of people.

Rob was lucky enough to get a quick picture with Dr. Freireich yesterday. He wants to be able to show it to a student of his who has been battling leukemia. I can't WAIT for her to see it! I was lucky enough to be the stagehand who helped Dr. Freireich get his microphone off once he was finished speaking and greeting people. I asked him if he's had fun, and he replied, "It was fun, but it was also so very moving..." And then he teared up a bit.

It's moments like this that make me realize how lucky I am to have the job I have.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Wordle

I've seen this wordart on a few other blogs, but just saw today how to create it myself (by going to I love seeing the words I (apparently) use most often when writing about my life turned into something so fun to look at. I'm going to have to scrap this for sure.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Another hurdle cleared

I woke up this morning kind of sad to realize that summer is already half over. We haven't even gotten in to any kind of groove yet. Rob's been so busy taking care of his dad that it seems like we can't settle on any kind of routine.

I did have a couple of days off this week. We had our final Parents in Process class on Tuesday at Holt, so I also took Monday off. We spent Monday at the Adventure Aquarium in Camden because it was so hot outside that I about passed out at the very idea of spending the day at Sesame Place. Sam had such a great time at the aquarium. He's followed it up with almost obsessive requests to watch some sea life kiddie documentary Rob discovered. I swear, he spent the entire time he watched it yesterday morning shouting "Look, Mommy! Did you know piranhas..." I admit I don't recall a single detail that he was so excited about, but in my defense, he fired so many aquatic facts at me while I was just trying to down my first cup of coffee that I really can't be expected to have absorbed the information.

As for the hurdle we've cleared, we took the last requisite parenting class at Holt this week. When we first started the process to adopt, I was kind of annoyed that we had to go through formal classes in order to parent. I felt like it was another element of the cosmic unfairness that had been chasing me for a couple of years. After all, I've encountered plenty of parents just during trips to Target that clearly could have used the help. However, when I went to the classes, I realized their value. It's good to spend some conscious time thinking about the unique aspects of raising a child born in another country.

This particular module was geared toward parents who were not first-timers. I thought that meant only people who were adopting again, but it must have meant anyone adding a child to their family. Several couples were adopting for the first time from China after having biological kids. We were among a group that all had preschool-aged boys from Korea and were in process for a second child.

The biggest eye-opener of the day was listening to a lovely woman who was an adoptee herself, and had also adopted two boys from Korea. (I did ask if she had requested gender, since they make exceptions to that rule for adoptees and other people born in Korea, but she did not. Note to self: adjust the mental odds when people ask if we'll be matched with a boy or girl!)

Anyway, this woman spoke to the exact issues Rob and I have always worried the most about... The biggest such issue is how to deal with the inevitable racism that children like Sam are likely to encounter in school. It's easy for us suburbanite Caucasians to feel that our community is diverse and "color-blind," but that's never the truth. No matter how much we want to believe it is, adoptees like Sam and this woman struggle throughout their entire lives to fit in some place. Most adjust just fine and are happy people, but they still deal with the constant awareness that they feel white but are not, and that people assume they are Asian, but don't feel Asian either.

I was in tears twice listening to this woman talk about how her own family could make her feel without realizing it and how she has been treated while doing something as innocent as trying to register for school. I know we've tried out best to gently correct people in our own circles who don't realize that, for instance, Sam is Asian -- not "oriental." That seems like an innocent mistake to some people, but for someone struggling with real identity issues, a family member who can't be bothered to learn the correct term can be deeply hurtful.

We will continue to try to do our best (and need to do better at that) to expose Sam and his soon-to-be brother or sister to aspects of their birth culture that they will want to be somewhat familiar with later in life. It's not easy to balance both sides of their world, but that's our job.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Some Days Are Harder Than Others

It's beginning to get harder to wait and wonder when we'll be matched with our baby. I find myself with my mind wandering off on a pretty regular basis at this point. It's still too early to expect a call, but there's been a small part of me that's always thought we could be on the early side for a referral. Our homestudy has been in Korea for six months already, which is so hard to believe! Of course, his circumstances were different, but Sam was home with us about six WEEKS after our homestudy was complete the first time around. So... I'll just admit right now that the waiting part stinks. I know it's all part of the process and that God will ensure *our* baby is matched with us when the time is right, but I'm still allowed to be antsy, right?

So much of my life changed when Sam came home, and it wasn't all what comes along with being parents for the first time. I had a new job, too. I think part of me is beginning to wonder how this will all play out. Deep down, I feel like a lot is going to change this time as well, but I just can't say what that means for sure. Maybe it's just because I didn't have as long a period to wait and wonder last time, but it would seem that too much time to think is not always a good thing for me.

When I wasn't thinking about all the baby "stuff" today in church, I could not get our friend Ted out of my mind, either. I have no business even beginning to complain that it's been too long since we've had quality time with our friends the Gwaras given how much Ethan and Kim miss him, but it's really starting to wear on us, too! Of course, we pray for his safety every single day (along with about 1,000 or so others also praying for him at our church!) but I can't help but think that I just wish we had a weekend to visit Sesame Place and hang out with the kids. That's probably why I seem to be on such a tear to find a house right in our neighborhood for them to move to. Walks with Sam and Rob have turned into conversations about how many houses we can find that would be just *perfect* for them. Honestly, my definition of perfect right now seems to just mean that the living structure be located within walking distance of my own. There is a house right NEXT DOOR that is certainly more perfect than the others, if I do say so myself.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fun List

I'm so tired after an interesting travel week that I can't even think of writing creatively. For those work friends who were speculating as to how I would "handle" meeting Mr. Relay For Life himself in person for the very first time, I'm proud to say that we had a really great, long and productive discussion yesterday in Ithaca. I am still tortured over the fact, though, that my boss and I left two hours to drive a distance that should have taken just one, but still got lost in Ithaca and were late to our meeting. Most anyone who knows me at all knows how much I HATE being late. I'm obsessively, annoyingly early for everything in life. The day I meet the icon that is Relay For Life? I'm late. He was very kind about it and even joked with me later when he heard we got lost yet again after parting ways for the afternoon.

So... the fun, mindless part. I don't know why I enjoy these lists so much, but I do.

Here’s the game: you have to answer the question with ONE WORD only and then you have to tag 4 people.
1. Where is your cell phone? purse
2. Your significant other? Sears
3. Your hair? floppy
4. Your mother? honest
5. Your father? Kansas
6. Your favorite thing? Mac
7. Your dream last night? nonexistent
8 Your favorite drink? tea
9. Your dream/goal? independence
10. The room you’re in? toy-strewn
11. Your hobby? digiscrapping
12. Your fear? finances
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? settled
14. What you’re not? energized
15. Muffins? carby
16. One of your wish list items? lens
17. Where you grew up? Kansas
18. The last thing you did? walk
19. What are you wearing? Relay
20. Favorite gadget? Flip
21. Your pets? mopey
22. Your computer? Mac
23. Your mood? tired
24. Missing someone? yes
25. Your car? Toyota
26. Something you’re not wearing? flip-flops
27. Favorite store? jjill
28. Like someone? Mom
29. Your favorite color? green
30. When is the last time you laughed? today
31. Last time you cried? Sunday
Tagging? Kim, Noel, Melissa (I know no one else who reads this and also has their own blog!)

Thursday, July 03, 2008


We're taking Sam to see real, live fireworks for the first time tomorrow. This clearly isn't his first Fourth of July, but it is the first year we can be assured he'll still be in a relatively pleasant mood at 9 p.m. when it all starts AND that the loud noises won't scar him for life.

I'm actually not entirely convinced that second point is true, but I'm hoping it is. To be on the safe side, I'm going to get little bitty ear plugs this afternoon that he can wear if he wants to. I think the fun of it all, especially with his cousins, will eventually make him forget the loud booming noises. My dog, on the other hand, has not been left alone on the Fourth for quite some time and may have entirely destroyed our house by the time we return home. He's a big fraidy cat.

I saw this Blogthings quiz on the Sweet Shoppe blog today, and it seemed appropriate, so here you go:

What Your These Fireworks Say About You

You are the type of person who lives a big, bold, and unique life.

You love to stand out and be noticed. And people definitely notice you.

You are easily excited, and you're quick to move to action.

You like to be in motion doing something. Keeping busy makes you feel good.

A big, bold, and unique life? Ok. Sounds like someone else, but I'll take it. Like to be noticed. Um, not so much. If I looked like Jessica Alba, maybe. But I would rather people didn't look that closely on most days! That keeping busy part is true, but I count sitting in front of the computer scrapping as keeping busy, which may not be everything the quiz writer had in mind when I selected that lovely photo of two-in-one fireworks. Then again, who writes those quizzes anyway?!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The end of an era

After a great deal of debate between Sam's Daddy and I, we have finally agreed THE day has come. Sam no longer needs to nap.

Feel free to join me in a nice big sigh.

I have a love/hate relationship with this entire awake-all-day concept. On one hand, it's nice to not be tied to the need to be home for Sam to sleep for four hours in the middle of every single day. It will be nice when we're on vacation (as if) and don't have to plan to find a place to get him to sleep. It will be nice when we know we have parties to go to and typically either deal with a cranky kid or miss half the party.

It will not be so nice on our usually lazy Sunday afternoons, when I get a nice peaceful bit of bonding time with Photoshop and Rob gets to read or garden or play Wii.

There's no question there's some transition involved in this whole ordeal. And I will admit it here, though deny having done so: I am getting off so easy in all of this. Poor Rob. I'm tucked away upstairs working all day while he's left to figure out how to keep our overly active child busy ALL. DAY. LONG. Seriously. The man should be sainted.

That photo you see? That's part of the transition. Rob turned his back for five minutes around 6 p.m. one day last week and Mr. I'm Too Big For Naps, Mommy was out cold.

I have been a delinquent blogger lately because most of my life is consumed by script writing and deciding between the virtues of maple and oak or distressed vintage finishes vs. lovely wood stain vs. paint. I thought that redesigning our kitchen after it's needed it for so long would be fun. And it's not. Don't let anyone tell you differently. There's not a single glamorous thing about knowingly forking over this kind of money and all the while losing serious sleep because you and your significant other can't decide exactly which cabinet door style would look best or if the island should have a small radius edge to it. Call me when it's time to pick the paint. That sounds like more fun to me.

Finally, I promised a friend that I would out myself on my own blog. I assured him that no one that reads this probably cares to see me promote our Relay For Life video contest, but he did get me to admit that anyone who knows me would probably enjoy a laugh at my expense, so here you have it. Watch this video and see just how far I'm willing to go for my job. This ranks up there with serious embarrassment in my book, but my dedication to transcends my need to keep people from watching me make a fool of myself. And thanks again to the coworkers who have already seen this and do believe that I deserve combat pay for putting up with these two crazy people while we filmed this.