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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Traditions, Old and New

W and I just headed out and braved the post apocalyptic battleground that is Wegman's two days before Thanksgiving. Sheesh. Luckily, my list was small, so it wasn't too bad. Thanksgiving is at my parents' house this year so I'm not allowed to do too much for it. Even though I'm 32 with my own husband and child, I'm still my parents' baby, so I'm not allowed to do too much as far as helping. It's our job to show up and eat eat eat. I was able to convince them to let me bring an appetizer and the coleslaw. So I'm making slow progress. Anyway, to Wegman's we ventured. Since I'm only allowed to bring an appetizer, I decided to make the yummiest appetizer that I know of (and one I over indulged in a few days ago at a friend's baptism), stuffed cherry peppers. Yum! I can hear the prosciutto and provolone calling my name in the fridge. So let's wish me (and my waistline) luck that I don't eat them all before Thursday afternoon. I just subscribed to the one-for-you-one-for-me school of assembling. Now I'm stuffed full of stinky cheese and cured meat. Happiness.

And so begins my most gluttonous season. I love the holidays.  I love stuffing myself to the gills for two months, I love the smells and the family and the traditions. But what I love most about the holiday season is all of the opportunities to indulge in cranberry sauce. And not of the homemade variety. Sure, I appreciate a good, homemade cranberry sauce. I may even reserve some real estate on my plate for it these next few months. But the shiny, can shaped glob of sugary goodness is where it is at for me. I love the sound it makes when it slides onto the bowl, I love the way it melts a little when it mingles with the warm gravy <insert Homer Simpson gurgling here>. Oooh I love it.

photo credit: zipongo

And while I'm talking about traditions and food, I should mention my newest tradition. A few years ago we came home from Thanksgiving with zero (ZERO!!) leftovers. Blasphemy! Little did we know that our friends down the street were suffering the same injustice. We started talking about how rotten a Thanksgiving without leftovers is. And we got sad. And mad. How could this have happened? Why didn't our respective families understand the importance of next-day-turkey-sandwiches?? Why were we powerless in this situation? And why were we standing for it? Convention ruled that that you can only eat gastro-busting portions of turkey and fixings on the third Thursday of each November. Why only once a year? Seeing as we (my friend and I) weren't ones to necessarily follow convention, we said screw it. And so it was that Slapsgiving (named in honor of a silly episode of How I Met Your Mother) was born. Now every year, once Thanksgiving is over and the sea of leftovers has dried up, we will get together with our dear friends and drink wine and cook a traditional Thanksgiving feast all.over.again. We use pretty china and wear forgiving (read: stretchy) clothes, we listen to awesome Christmas music (Think, Pogues and Waitresses) and we enjoy a great Slapsgiving.
And there are always leftovers for everyone.
photo credit
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a groovy Slapsgiving (with no actual slapping, of course). Cheers!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Chicken By Any Other Name

About ten years ago my parents relocated to the country. We had always been city folk all our lives. Well, suburban folk, really. But compared to country folk, we're city slickers. I, being in my early twenties and just starting to forge my way in this wild wold had zero interest in moving to the middle of nowhere with my parents. So I remained a city folk and bid adieu to the comforts of parental proximity. Gone were the days of free laundry-doing and home cooked meals. I mean, they didn't move across the continent or anything, but 90 minutes isn't quite a stone's throw, either. It's just far enough to have to plan the trip. Especially now that we have a toddler. Ninety minutes of "IWANTMYAPPLEJUICENOOOOOOOW" isn't for the short of patience.
My dad recently built a chicken coop and got my mom 5 lovely little hens to live in it. So we packed up the family yesterday and headed over the river and through the woods to attend their coop warming. Good times were had by all and nary a foul was served as food. And most importantly, Little W went ballistic chasing the ladies around the yard. He named two of them Happy Chicken and Fried Chicken. It was a time.
W with Happy Chicken and Fried Chicken (I think)

As much as I enjoy living in a bustling neighborhood so close to Philly, watching W with the chicken and all that open space made me wonder if maybe our kids would have more fun if they were country boys (or boys and girls). Playgrounds, museums, walking to school and skads of close-by friends or a horse, room to roam and a pickup truck?
I'm sure there's pros and cons to both lifestyles but I'm curious. What do you think? Are you a country mouse or a city mouse?  What are your kids' favorite aspects of where they live? Do you feel they're missing out on anything? Do tell...

Oh, I'm Aware, Alright...

This month is a busy month for us, as far as national acknowledgments. It's Prematurity Awareness Month as well as National Adoption Awareness Month. Last week, the first World Prematurity Day was celebrated. Maybe it went unnoticed by most people (who haven't been touched by prematurity). But not by me. I thought about all my friends with preemies (some of whom didn't make it) and reveled in how far we've come and continue to come. We're a close knit group of people, even if we don't really know each other too well. We've all felt the same gut wrenching emotions as we rode the NICU roller coaster. So every few weeks when I hear about a friend of a friend who just had a 26 or 28 weeker, I'm always more than happy to extend my contact info to them. When Little W was in the NICU, I would have killed for some been-there-done-that sage wisdom. So I love that I can provide that to future friends. Premies are amazing little people and until you've been touched by one, it's hard to understand just how magical they are.
This is Little W at 1.5 months old, during his second attempt at breathing on his own, sans respirator.
As an adoptive-mom-in-waiting, I don't have much (of the the tangible variety) to acknowledge Adoption Awareness Month. Seeing as we're "paper pregnant," I guess I could pull together all of our paperwork and make it rain up in this piece. That would make a seriously big mess, so I'll refrain. What I'll probably do one day soon is redo our profile forty seven more times. Maybe I'll hand in one of the edits. May not. Maybe we'll finally get out butts in gear and finish painting the baby's room. Over the past few weeks,we've become masters of avoidance as far as that bedroom is concerned. Rather than get in there and put some elbow grease into the space, I'd much rather sit on the computer and stare at already adorable bedrooms like these, compiled by Design*Sponge.

Anyhoo... Whether you're waiting for The Call or your house is bursting with kiddies (or something in between), what are you doing to recognize National Adoption Awareness Month?  I'd love to hear all about it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why We're Adopting

"Oh, we're fertile. We have a biological son."
     I tossed it out there lightly, without much thought. I saw my words hanging in the room like lead balloons and I  tried desperately to shove them back in my mouth. We were at our first formal adoption group class with our agency. We were just asked to discuss our feelings on infertility with the group. Sitting in tight nervous pairs all around us were couples who couldn't have babies. I didn't know their stories. But as I was trying to shove the zeppelin back in my mouth, I could feel  their pain They probably had really long infertility stories marred with failed attempts and miscarriages. I felt terrible for seeming so cavalier about what drove us to that meeting. I wanted them to know that we, too felt incredible pain and this wasn't something that we decided to undertake "just because." 

     I didn't bother to go into the details at that meeting. I didn't tell them that W was just one pound and completely see through when he was born. Or that he suffered a pulmonary hemorrhage that almost killed him and that they were pumping blood out of his collasped lungs for weeks. Or how we couldn't hold him for a month after he was born. Or how he suffered a brain hemorrhage and we weren't sure if he'd ever be able to walk or talk. Maybe I should have. Then they would have understood that there was nothing cavalier about why we were adopting.

     Little W and I were quite happy together when I was pregnant. I was getting a cute belly, he was growing, we were doing prenatal yoga and exercising and learning what each other liked to eat. I followed all the rules. I was the picture of pregnant health. Then like a tornado at 25 weeks, we were on hospital bed rest. Preeclampsia was the culprit and it was ANGRY. I barely had time to come to terms with what was happening to us when they took him from me at just 26 weeks. The next four months Little W lived in the NICU and we held constant vigil at his side.

     And I Googled things. Lots and lots of things. I found that the chances of this happening again with a subsequent pregnancy where anywhere from 10-70%. No, thank you. Before W was even home with us, we decided that this would be our only foray into the world of reproduction. We could not live with the guilt of trying to make another baby when so much could go wrong. If that kid didn't turn out 100% perfect, I'd blame myself forever and probably wind up pulling a Sylvia Plath.

     We decided right then and there that we didn't care whose loins our children came out of. Then about 15 seconds later we decided that we didn't care what color those loins were. And then about 12 months later when we got serious about #2, we decided that if this child was to be of a different race than us, they should have a connection to their birth family. And thus our domestic, open adoption love story began.
     Maybe I should have told everyone all of that at that first meeting. If for no other reason than to save face from my mindless gaffe. But honestly, the "why" just doesn't seem all that important to me. What's important is that we have a lot of love to give. We're committed to bringing a beautiful baby home with us and forging a lasting bond with their birth mother. And I think that's a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An Unexpected Addition...

This weekend was full of happy additions. On Friday, my piano was moved from my parent's house to my abode which filled me with all sorts of mushy emotions. My grandfather (Big W) bought it for my mom back when she was a little girl. She and her sister both played it dutifully but it was so much more than just an instrument. It was a backdrop for so many family memories. Christmas morning, Easter dresses, proms and plays. The piano was always there, helping to mark so many occasions. Then it was moved to my parent's house and was my piano. I sat at that thing every day of my life for 30 minutes banging out wrong cords and flat keys. Now it's sitting in my dining room as Little W's piano, waiting for him to learn it's ways.


A house just isn't a home without a well loved piano

Another addition this weekend was less anticipated. We done lost our minds and adopted two kittens from the shelter's adopt-a-thon. They're lovely little babies that have turned our house into a full blown zoo. They've settled into their new home like they've lived here a million years and promptly put the two dogs in their place. The swiffer is a-sweepin' and Little W is just tickled pink with his new babies.

Between the toddler bashing the piano and the cacophony of animals, our home might actually be the loudest house in NJ. Now all we need is baby#2 and everything will be (insanely) complete.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Meet Little W, my NICU Miracle Man

This is Little W and he is just the apple of my eye. I know I'm partial, but I think he's quite an amazing little dude.

He overcame incredible odds at a very tender age. Little W was born 14 weeks early and spent 106 days in the NICU. That was pretty sucky. But now he's an amazing 32 month old boy with boundless energy and an iron will (that tests me at every turn), which I am endlessly thankful for. Because without that iron will, he very well might not be here with us today.

W's very into trains, trucks, cars, playing hide and seek and most recently, dinosaurs. I love indulging his new passions, as rudimentary as they may be at this point. What passions do your children have? What do you do to indulge them aside from buying piles of plastic toys?

Distractions from The Wait

Just like any expectant mom, I find comfort in painstakingly nitpicking over every detail of baby#2's bedroom. When our little bundle of joy arrives, everything has to be Just Right so s/he can gracefully grow into the next Obama, Jobs, Einstein, Whitman or poet laureate. You know... be all they can be. Maybe their nursery has something to do with that? Probably not. But if it gives us expectant moms some control over such an uncontrollable time, lets us go with it.
This is especially true for expectant moms by way of open adoption. We are completely out of control when it comes to any family-related time line. We can't take vitamins or eat the right things or go to the doctor to see the heartbeat or feel the kicks and punches. That part kind of sucks (and that is coming from someone who threw up every time I brushed my teeth for the duration of my pregnancy). What we waiting adoptive moms have is the nursery. And so it must be perfect. Lets not even talk about nesting. I am living proof that nesting has little to do with actual pregnancy. But I guess that's a post for another time. If I start talking about cleaning insane things, I very well may have to follow through and jolt up to my attic to color code all of the boxes of W's old baby clothes. So I'll save that for another time.
Here's a few things I've been eyeballing on the interwebs for baby#2:

I recently picked up these inspiring Tibetan prayer flags from Ruka, a lovely shop in Philly.
I think they're wonderful because they're colorful and playful for baby as well as peaceful and inspiring for mom and dad.

At a local book fair I recently picked up some old books for a few cents full of amazing images. I fully plan on framing and adorning #2's walls with some of the more memorable illustrations. I so wish I remembered Gordon's Giveaway Gibson from my childhood. It  is chock full of early Sesame Street awesomeness (although I see on Amazon that a copy is selling for $88... maybe I should rethink cutting it apart!).

 Little W's current favorite book is Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. The images in this book are just so lovely and endearing. Plus... It was Little W's idea to include them in #2's room. So how could I say no?

 And finally, in this house, no child's room would be complete without some of Anthropologie's Pinwale Alphabet letters.
They're just so very sweet. And I need to utilize my employee discount while I still can. February (marking the end of my time in the professional world) is fast approaching. But what letters to buy? If only my crystal ball could tell me if we are having a boy or a girl. I guess that's something I'll have to put off until #2 is safely home with us.

So three cheers for distractions. They're wonderful for passing time and forgetting about the painstaking Wait. In fact, while I was writing this very post, I received an email from our social worker saying we were passed over by quite a few birth mothers last month.

The Wait continues...

Photos courtesy of Amazon and Anthropologie

The Waiting Game that is Adoption

I had a whole post planned this morning about some of the bright and shiny things I was planning on getting for baby#2's room. Then my cell phone rang and that whole train of thought and a few beats of my heart flew out the window. I don't know if it's this way for all waiting adoptive families, but every time my cell phone rings, my heart skips a few beats. It's in my pocket or in my hand every second of the day. And it makes me crazy. I mean, my actual phone doesn't make me crazy. I have a deep love for my iphone. But The Wait drives me crazy. Seriously crazy.

It's not that I wasn't prepared for this experience. I actually have a very zen approach to waiting for baby#2. I know the birth mother that picks us is the right person for us and the relationship we create will end with us getting our baby. And every birth mother that passes us over didn't have our baby. I repeat my mantra every night when I'm falling asleep: We will get our baby when our baby is ready for us. And it works - I'm content.
But that doesn't mean I don't have moments of unflattering spazz-out-titude when my phone rings and I'm not in the same room as it and I push people out of my way like a linebacker to get to it before it goes to voicemail (nevermind the fact that it's the Red Cross looking to take my blood like, 80% of the time). It's not attractive but it does provide a wee bit of comic relief to those watching. So there's a silver lining, I guess.

So if anyone ever reads this blog, I'd love to hear some stories about your Wait. It's such a unique experience and I have to assume that there's other people out there who have done silly things like upturning a sleeping dog to get to their cell phone in time (why did my darling W decide that mommy's phone belonged in our dog's bed anyhoo?).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I am truly Fortunes Full.

The first time I read Romeo & Juliet in high school, I was smitten. Other Shakespeare is good. Excellent, even. But Romeo and Juliet may be my all time most absolute favorite story. The ultimate love story. Sigh.... it still gets me every time. So much passion and tragedy with just the right amount of humor mixed in. And it's so enriching for young minds to get lost in Shakespearean writing. I could go on forever. I just love everything about it. Does it get any better than this?

Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-brow'd night,
Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.

 There's this one part after Romeo kills Juliet's cousin, Tybalt where he exclaims in agony O, I am fortune's fool. That has always stuck with me. I can't count how many times it's come to my mind when I've been in dark places. The time that stands out most is when my husband and I were huddled around our 2 day old son's isolette while the hospital's pastor baptized him. We were told he wouldn't live through the night and all I could think was O, I Am Fortune's Fool. For many touch and go months after that scary night, when our future was so uncertain it would keep coming back to me; O, I am fortune's fool. Then one day I was home, snuggling on the couch with that same little boy who was as close to the picture of health as I could hope for. And the saying came back to me, but in a completely different bright and sunny light. O for I am no longer fortune's fool.
I suddenly found that I was gratefully fortunes full. Full of love for this miracle little boy snuggled to my chest. Full of love for the husband who got me through such an unbelievable time. Full of love for my new family.

O I am still fortunes full and I am on top of the world.