Life as MommyMo

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Nighty Night

I really love our nighttime routine. I swear, this 30 min. is the best part of the day. No matter what kind of mood any of us is in, or how tired Sam is, when we have him bathed and we're all in our jammies for the night, it's like we're in our own little world where all Beckers are happy.

Sappy? Yes. But I like it like that.

Here's how it goes:

We have a bath (which, should be noted, is not always one of the Pollyanna parts of the routine.)

After bath, we wrap Sam up in either his puppy or lion towel. Whichever towel he's in, he plays the role of that animal and pretends to roar or bark. It's very cute and comes with it's very own dialogue that can last a full five minutes or so.

Next, we get dressed for bed, and it always manages to be exciting for Sam to see which PJs I'll pull out. No matter that we've worn the same ones night after night, though, Sam still doesn't think it's his job to learn how to put them on himself.

Then comes my favorite part: books. Sam tells Daddy that Mommy is the best reader and Rob goes off to check Drudge Report or football scores (I'm assuming, but it's not hard to guess. I know the man.) Lately, we've been reading Corduroy -- my all-time fave kids book -- and a book Aunt Noel and Uncle David gave Sam for Christmas -- The Human Race. Sam knows most of the many books we read by heart and I randomly stop in the middle of a sentence and he finishes. He does tire of this soon and ends up saying "You read it yourself, Mommy. I'll listen." He goes and grabs his snack and drink during the second book and settles up next to me while I read.

We always say we're only reading two books, but he knows Mommy always reads an extra (or three.) If Daddy comes back in early, Sams uses a stage whisper to deny that we're reading more than two books "No extra books here, Daddy!" It's funny. Maybe you have to be there.

When I'm done reading, Sam runs and hides beneath his covers and I yell to Daddy that "I've lost him again."

Rob comes in, finds him when he gives up searching only to lay down on top of Sam and then they review Sam's "special day."

Most nights, they are whispering to each other, so I can only hear murmuring over the baby monitor. It's very cute. At the end, Rob says good night, and Sam asks us to "leave the hall light on, please. You can turn it off when you go to bed later. Ok, guys?"

I'm sure a version of this routine happens in every single house that has kids, but I still never tire of feeling Sam snuggle up for the last time of the day or hearing him whisper to Daddy that " you guys are my best friends."

It's starting to sink in that another baby will be joining us, and I have been imagining what it will be like to hear Sam and his little sister or brother whispering to each other before bed. I can't wait.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Email Gone Awry

Having just received the Barack-Obama-is-an-antipatriot email for the umpteenth time in a month, I am following suit with my friend Jeff and providing a handy link to a list of facts that refute some of the crazier things I've read about Obama lately. Just consider one little blogger's contribution to truth on the Internet (she says like she has first-hand knowledge, but still... this is a real issue for me.)

I'm not one to tell people how to vote. I am unabashedly politically-minded, and I'm wearing an Obama '08 shirt as I type this, but I'm actually more offended by *the* email because of how irrational it seems to me. It's just crazy for people to believe what they read in an email chain as opposed to doing actual research about someone who's a strong contender to run the country some day.

There's probably someone far more eloquent than me to extol Obama's virtues, but for now, check out this link for more background about Barack (I say that like we're close personal friends!) His real website also has a comprehensive list of his stance on certain issues.

I can't believe I'm ranting about this, but I'm amazed at how many people I know who are convinced that the email's contentions that Obama is a Muslim who refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance are accurate. Isn't Social Security about to run out? Don't we have millions of people living in poverty in our country who can't get even basic health care when they need it? Aren't thousands of American families losing loved ones in a war right now? I just wish we'd focus on actual issues, not gossip clearly intended to make one person look bad for reasons that seem based in bigotry to me.

Wow. I haven't been that fired up in a while.

This message was NOT paid for or supported by Obama for President. :-)

A Pint-Sized Independent

You may start to notice a pattern. Rob and I discuss politics a LOT. Seriously, it probably makes up at least 50% of our daily conversation. The other half is a mix of Sam logistics, what's for dinner, Relay For Life and American Idol. In no particular order.

So... the conversation was continuing as we were getting dinner ready last night. Rob and I were talking about Hillary's shenanigans in Florida (no bias there, sorry) when Sam asked if we were "talking about the president AGAIN?!"

Uh, yes. Sorry.

In order not to leave him out, we asked him if all of the news of the past few days had changed his mind about who should be president. He's apparently DONE with all of the antics, because his reply was that he "didn't really want anyone to win."

Well, then, are you a Republican or a Democrat?

"I'm really nothing."

Ok. Here's a test for you: Do you like elephants or donkeys better?

"Definitely elephants. I love elephants. Ella is an elephant."

So, you must be a Republican.


Clearly we are agitating our young son with all of this talk, so we dropped the subject and moved on to chicken nuggets vs. a cheese sandwich for his dinner.

My mom arrived a bit later and I relayed the conversation to her. She tried telling him that he could be a registered independent like Nonni.

Is it wrong that I'm teaching a 3 1/2 year old that registering as an independent is like throwing away your vote since you can't pick your candidates?! I am sure there must be medication for this.

A more age-appropriate moment came when Sam had had enough and retired to his bedroom to play with trains while the grown-ups cooked and continued the boring political talk. He screamed at the top of his lungs that we HAD to rush upstairs to see what he'd done. My little engineer had actually built a track for his trains all by himself for the first time. Rob and I were both suitably (and for real!!) impressed with what he'd done. The irony was not lost on me that if, perhaps, Mommy and Daddy found more constructive things to do with their time that maybe we'd get around to re-doing the bedrooms as we've planned or, say, renovating the kitchen that so desperately needs it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

XX or XY

The whole notion of gender selection in adoption is curious to me. I totally understand where some people are coming from in wanting to choose whether or not they adopt a boy or girl. Many families who adopt have been through tremendous loss and much of the experience has been out of their control... If there's a way to control one small part and you truly dream of having either a son or daughter, why not follow that dream if you can?

For us, that's just not the case. Rob, in particular, feels very strongly about letting God decide who our child is. The way we look at it, we wouldn't select gender if we were pregnant, so we won't this way, either.

I read a post on the Holt board, however, that led to an interesting conversation. If the story posted is true, the social worker in Korea who makes the final decision about matches will "save" a family that already has a boy -- especially if that boy is Korean -- for a girl. I've been told that it has something to do with the notion of balance, an important aspect of Korean culture.

I read this information matter of factly and just said to Rob that I think we have better than 50/50 odds of having a daughter this next time. He was troubled by the notion that it's a social worker, not God, making the decision. We ended the discussion by saying that either way, it's not us, so we just have to trust that the child that is meant to be ours will be matched with us. I reminded him that God helps that social worker make her decisions. He agreed and we switched to a lighter subject -- girl names -- a topic I could discuss for hours on end.

I was in Atlanta yesterday for a meeting, and even though I was down and back in one day, I didn't get to see Sam. I just hate days like that. I did sneak in to his room before I went to bed and gave him a quick kiss and re-tucked him in. We'll make up for the time this weekend when Rob has his Mock Trial competition. Sam and I will get another Saturday to do something ourselves. We miss Daddy, but I love those days, too!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I (think) I'm over it

The dog thing. I think I'm done begging.

Why, you ask?

Because Franklin has barked nonstop all weekend. I have no idea what's gotten into him, but it's really, really, really annoying.

When he wouldn't stop barking at absolutely nothing (that humans can see, at least) at 7:42 this morning, I just looked at Rob and said that if he wants me to stop begging for that puppy, all he needs to do is tape Frankie barking and just hit "play" when I ask again.

Since it's almost two hours later and I've lost track of how often we've gone outside to try to chase him in or shut him up, I don't even think I need the tape anymore. I think the response is now imprinted on my brain. No, we DON'T need another dog. No laughing at me...

I should get us ready. I started cooking (again, no laughing, please) at 7 a.m. for my former coworkers that are coming down with their kids for lunch in a couple of hours. Sam's still in his Mater PJs and should probably be scrubbed and fluffed before they arrive.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

We are so old

It's 9 p.m. on a Saturday night. We spent the day running errands and taking care of various family members before hitting a Gymboree party at 4:30 p.m

Now we're all settled in, watching the South Carolina primary returns in our PJs. We joke often about how old we must seem to some people. My sister is out with a friend for dinner, then hanging with some other Philly friends at a bar or two. She and I frequently giggle at the fact that she rolls in at an hour that I might be getting up early, not just going to bed.

My Obama shirt finally arrived today and Rob, who already had his, wore it today.My friend Ted believes that what he wears could possibly impact how well the Cowboys play during football season. Do you suppose the same is true for campaign gear? Is it plausible that I am somehow helping Barack the Vote (couldn't resist that one)? We ordered our shirts the day he won Iowa. We got them and wore them when he wins South Carolina. We just wore regular clothes for New Hampshire and Nevada. I don't know... that's a pattern if you ask me.

Live Out the String

A word of warning, this is shaping up in my head to be a real "journaling" post more than a concert review, so you were warned if it gets all mushy and gooey.

I went to the Keswick last night to see Marc Cohn in concert again. Rob and I have seen him a couple of times before, but I took my mom with me last night. She really enjoyed the show as did I, but Mr. Cohn's new album is affecting me in a way that music rarely does.

I love quality music as well as the next girl, but every so often a song comes along that really touches something inside you. I don't think it's ever happened to me in quite the way it has with Marc Cohn's new single "Live Out the String."

I'm a devoted fan, so I knew all about his totally unfortunate run-in with a carjacker in downtown Denver on August 7, 2005. He was shot in the head, but managed to walk away unscathed with the exception of what he describes as a pretty bad case of PTSD. While home recovering, he watched the events in New Orleans unfold and was inspired to write his new album.

Back to the song... Live Out the String talks very directly about what it feels like to have a second chance when you've faced death. I don't talk about the emotional effects of my near-death experience in 2002 very easily. I'm quick to say how happy I was to have survived and can articulate how our struggles with subsequent pregnancy losses affected us and led us to what's become an amazing way to build a family. But, the (not to sound too melodramatic) psychological scars that I didn't become aware of for a while after the "incident" are still there. I've been told to write out the experience, both good and bad. For some reason, I've never been able to make myself do it.

In a weird way, I feel like if I were a better writer and had one lick of musical ability, I would have said just exactly what Marc Cohn says in his song. I read interviews with him where he talks about the stages you go through after such an experience. I was stuck, like he was, in the euphoria of having lived for quite some time. After that starts to wane, though, you wonder if you're supposed to be doing something specific with the life you've been left to live.

I know I'm doing a lot of what I'm "supposed" to be doing. I trust that God wasn't finished with me yet. I still struggle, however, with wondering if I'm doing enough. It's a bit freaky to know that you should have died, to have been told you pretty much did, but then be released with nothing but a pelvic scar and the notion that life has changed forever. Granted, when I was released from the hospital, I wasn't in the life-has-changed-forever stage. I was in the what-the-heck-is-with-people stage. I could NOT figure out why everyone was treating me like I was so fragile. I'd nearly died and didn't. I'm not fragile. I'm strong and darn happy to know my time isn't up yet.

I could probably ramble on about this forever. I suppose that's why people tell me to write it. Maybe I'm getting closer to being able to do it, but I'll most likely do it the old-fashioned way and dig out a pen and paper so that I can tuck the memories away to be read only if and when I need to.

I think the final thing the song made me realize is how grateful I am to have been surrounded by people who let me take things as they came and understood that I'd deal in my own way. It feels weird to tear up about all of the memories based on the song of some guy who has no idea who the heck I am, but I suppose that's what good music does.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I tried again

I'm so sorry little Tucker. Your would-be daddy is not budging. He and I are on totally different pages about the need for another dog. To him, it's not even worthy of a conversation. To me, it's at least worth some begging cleverly disguised as very mature, rational-sounding, convincing points of fact.

The points of fact?

We used to have three dogs. What's two now? Two would be easy.

Tucker wouldn't shed. I'm just sure he wouldn't. Whiskey doesn't; so I'm positive no other dog of similar breeding would either. (I'm so using someone else's dog to do my dirty work. Sorry about that Whisk. There's a treat in it for you soon, I promise.)

We really don't go on vacation very often. Why worry about a few measly days when we could have weeks, months, years, of sweet puppy kisses?

I'm the one at home most days. I'll be the one to let Tucker out, take him to the vet, make sure he gets along with Frankie.

You see? All very rational statements.

I know... I know... It's not what you say, it's the tone you use (as so evidenced by Tom Selleck in Three Men and a Baby. Remember that movie?!) To be totally transparent here, I should admit that perhaps my *discussions* about the acquisition of a new canine are not without a slight lilt to my voice.

All of this is to stay I'm still a loser in the dog argument arena. Somehow, we're supposedly in an equal marriage, yet all Rob has to say is NO, and it is so.

Does that mean I secretly know he's right, or that I'm just not fighting hard enough?!

I knew it!

I knew I'd forget to come back and blog every day. I'll keep trying. I know I'll want to know what was going on when we find out who our new baby is.

Yesterday was a typical work/school day, but Sam's behavior, alas, was NOT typical. He apparently was quite the unruly child for Ms. Krystyna at school. Now, you have to know that Ms. Krystyna is practically a saint. She has more patience than 10 average people rolled into one. For her to report to Daddy that Sam was pretty much obnoxious and out of control all day long means he was REALLY misbehaving. We had a nice chat when he came home and he behaved like a perfect angel all night.

Incidentally, I asked him *why* he was naughty at school. He replied that "it was just because I really wanted to stay home with Mommy in the morning but I went in to school early with Daddy."

I was trying to finish up a huge project, and since Sam was up, Rob took him in so that I could get some writing done before my phone started ringing for the day. I did get everything on the project done by lunchtime, but I'm not sure it was worth the payoff. I'm also not sure if that's *really* Sam's reason or if he's getting that good at playing us!

I took him in this morning, and he immediately sat down nicely on the rug in his classroom. No one else was there, so I asked what he was doing. He responded that he was practicing being good. That's more like it!

The only other thing to report is what's NOT going to be happening in our house. I got an email from someone who's helping to find a home for a VERY VERY CUTE golden doodle dog. Seriously. He's the cutest little thing and would be a perfect playmate for Franklin and our cousin-dog Whiskey -- also a remarkably adorable golden doodle puppy. Meeting Whiskey is what made me JUST KNOW that this dog must come live with us.

I really did try to convince Rob of our *need* for a companion for Frankie, who I really do think is lonely without Ellie.

Here's how the conversation went.

Me: Seriously. Rob. This dog is soooooo cute. Look at him.
Rob: No.
Me: Just look. And don't you think Frankie is lonely??
Rob: No.
Me: Really? He seems lonely to me. And think how cute and sweet Whiskey is.
Rob: No.
Me: Come on! I promise I'll take care of him (said in a whining tone as if I'm 10 years old and begging for my first pet)
Rob: No.
Me: Well... You think about it.
Rob: No.
Me: Please?
Rob: No.

You get the idea. We did wind up having an annoyingly rational conversation about how Rob thinks Franklin has adjusted as well as to be expected and that there's a new baby coming and that it's easier with one if we want to go on vacation...blah...blah...blah.

So, yeah. Just one dog here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Days like today

It's days like today that prove why I DON'T blog every day, but I couldn't exactly flake out before I ever got started with my pledge, could I?!

Today was just a regular Tuesday. Not a bad day (save for a really yucky, lingering headache) but not particularly noteworthy either.

Sam did come home with his cute-but-becoming-slightly-grating request (seeing as it's an EVERY DAY THING now): Mommy, Where are my Skittles? Did you get me Skittles today?

The kid apparently thinks I spend my day procuring candy treats for him to enjoy the second he steps in the door. Kinda like June Cleaver, but Skittles instead of a glass of scotch or whatever it was that Ward liked to partake of after work.

I tried a little reverse psychology on Sam at dinner and it totally backfired. As anyone who's ever met Sam knows, the kid struggles a bit in the eating department. I've been more matter of fact about the situation of late and told him that he had a choice: either sit and eat dinner, or go up for a bath and bed. It was only 6:06 p.m. when I made this declaration.

Sam didn't eat, so I went to go up the stairs.

What does he do? Not flop on the floor screaming as I expected, but he follows me squealing with glee: I LOVE baths, Mommy. Can I have bubbles tonight?!

I did hold to the no snacks thing, but seeing as it was the night for Rob's hair cut, I did have to let him come back downstairs. Actually, I myself could have enforced a 6:45ish bedtime, but Rob did not agree. Fight with Daddy? Fight with Sam? Well... Daddy stays up later, so better if he's not mad at me. Like that logic?

The layout you see above is a RAKlift for a scrapper named NevadaJen whose sweet little girl suffered a massive brain bleed just before Christmas and has been struggling to recover since. She was released to rehab today (woooohooo!) but Lauren Reid's creative team has been following their story and wanted to do a round of scraplifts to hopefully let Jen know that we're thinking of her family.

Monday, January 21, 2008

This is post #102 for those of you counting...

...and apparently some people are! My sisters in law both told me that they read my blog more than I realized they did, and it's quite boring when I don't keep up. I've thought about blogging daily, but have never found my own life interesting enough for anyone else to want to read about on a daily basis. A fellow adoptive scrapping blogger, however, inspired me with her blog. She started posting the every day stuff every day so that she and her family would know what they were doing on the day their future child was born. That seems like a really good idea to me, seeing as I honestly have no clue whatsoever what I was doing the day Sam was born.

Rob and I both had today off, so we did an Ikea run (because heaven knows going to Ikea with Sam is NOT fun) and then squeezed in a movie before Sam would have woken up from his nap at preschool. We went to see Juno (spoilers ahead!!), which was really, really an endearing movie. It was about a high school girl who finds out she's pregnant and decides to place her baby for adoption. She gets to know that adoptive parents while she waits to deliver, and the story follows them as they deal with things from both sides. It was not at all melodramatic or maudlin, and was actually really funny in some parts. Rob and I were both in tears, though, through portions of the film. We could totally relate to the meeting in which the adoptive couple feels such anticipation and wonder over whether or not it will all work out (and Juno remarks that they should have just gone to China if they were that worried! Yikes.) as well as a scene in which the AMom gets to talk to the baby through Juno's belly. We will never have those opportunities, but it was completely palpable to watch this woman want a child so desperately and not feel any control over the situation. The real water works started when the AMom holds the baby for the first time. We cried knowing exactly how she felt, and we cried watching the BMom deal with her decision.

We know "our" birthmom is probably in Korea somewhere, struggling through every day. I think our child will probably be born in June or July, so she's probably starting to show now, which I can imagine really complicates the situation for her. I am so thankful that whoever she is, she's made a very difficult decision to give birth to her child and that we will be the recipients of her amazing gift.

So, here I go... I'll try to be back every day, lack of excitement or not, to faithfully record our lives. We may not get the chance to see our child come into the world or feel him or her kick inside a belly, but maybe we'll be able to look back and recall what was happening with us at a moment that we'll later know changed our lives.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Prayers Answered

About a year ago, I fell in love with a little boy in Korea named JaeHo. I posted about him here several times... I was so upset that, because he was close in age to Sam and had slight special needs, we would not be allowed to even look at his file. Even worse was knowing that since we was about to turn three, he's probably never be allowed to be adopted. It broke my heart to think he'd be in an institution just because they thought he should not be adopted out of birth order. Ideally I'd agree with that -- but his situation wasn't ideal.

I've thought about JaeHo ever since and prayed that the right family would find him. I was devastated to see his picture removed from RainbowKids, because I was sure it meant he was taken off the list of waiting children.

Well... an amazing mother that we know through Holt here in New Jersey is an incredible advocate for waiting children. She is in process now to adopt her fifth child from Ilsan. She posted on the Holt message board that there were a few wonderful children that she'd had the opportunity to meet who were being sponsored with grants from Brittany's Hope. We'd helped her with a Brittany's Hope fundraiser over a year ago, so are familiar with the program. I, of course, clicked over to the list she was talking about and BURST INTO TEARS to see little JaeHo's face with the best news ever next to his name: I've Found My Forever Family!!

I would have recognized his face anywhere, and he's growing up to be a beautiful child. It makes me so very happy to know that someone is going to bring him home and love him forever. It makes me feel, too, like there was a reason (which I should have trusted in the first place) that we were denied a year ago... It was because his perfect family was still out there.

I hope he gets to travel home very soon!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

First Snow

I've been a slacker blogger lately. I don't know why. I guess nothing monumental has happened since post #99! We had a short, impromptu photo shoot today when Sam got out of the car after preschool and starting dancing around in the front yard because he was so excited about the snow. Thank goodness I have a great boss who understands the importance of these moments. We were talking about a major project on the phone, and I kept talking while going out in the front yard to take pictures. He has four kids and never gets snow where he lives, so he understood why it was so necessary to multitask at that moment!

We've had kind of a slow start to the New Year, but it's certainly getting busy quickly. The travel has commenced and Sam finds plenty to keep busy. I'm excited to be signing him up for what I call "Soccer Lite." He'll start in March with a tots soccer program that's noncompetitive and essentially consists of a bunch of preschoolers playing any game that might involve a black and white ball. I see it as a good way to run some energy out of my totally wound-up child.

Our homestudy should be in Korea by now. That means we now begin the really agonizing wait of knowing that we're on "the list," but having absolutely no idea when a referral might come. A friend from work did point out that our child's birth mother must already be carrying our child by now. That's bittersweet in the truest sense of the world. I know that we'll have a new baby soon, but this must be such an incredibly hard time for the birthmom. I just can't imagine having to make the decisions she's making. I hope she feels in her heart that someone will give her child a good and loving home. I still think about Sam's birthmother all the time and feel so sad that she can't see what an amazing little person he is.

In lighter news, Sam has joined the near-constant political discussion in our house. Rob and I have been a couple for 17 years now, but this is the first time we agree on a candidate! It's fun... We do talk about every aspect of the campaign quite a bit, and Sam is starting to feel left out. The other day, he came into the kitchen and wanted to know what we were talking about. When we replied, "presidential politics," he was still interested in playing along. So... I asked him which of the candidates on the front page of the paper he thought should be president. He thought about it, stroked his chin and said "Her," pointing to a picture of Hillary Clinton.

"So you're a Hillary fan. Why do you think she should be president?" I asked.

"Because she's a girl," he said.

"Why should a girl be president?" says Mommy.

"Because Mommies are girls," says Sam.

Good answer!

The sentiment only lasted so long, though. The next day, on the way to school, he pipes up that he wants "Daddy to be president today."

I guess I really should have gotten him on video shouting "Go, Obama!" this summer while I had the chance.