Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Bright Side

I've spent the last few days working (yet again) on our landscaping. If you recall, I began this project somewhere back, oh, like FIVE YEARS AGO! Landscaping tends to take a long time on account of my kids interrupting me every 5 seconds because they're fighting or because their bike is stuck or because they need yet another snack. I could go on and on about the reasons they interrupt me. All I know is that I only get one leaf trimmed for every 45 minutes that I am outside.

I have to admit, things are getting better. They play more contently and allow me to get small projects done. They even pitch in from time to time. Plus, now with Bear in pre-school, I have a few hours a week when I can work without any distractions at all and it's heavenly!

I finished our postal planting area yesterday. I cleaned out any weeds and trimmed back the heather as well as the black eyed susans that were crowding out my daylilies. I removed some ornamental grass that had grown out of control and I planted a some mums, added mulch and a pumpkin. It looks good, especially since you can now see our house number that had been long-since hidden. We thought about cutting things back earlier but decided that it was too much fun watching people try to find our house without the number. I know...we're diabolical.

The front of the house looks good too. Last weekend we chopped our arborvitae down about seven feet. I also removed the hostas from either side of our steps and replaced them with the divided ornamental grass from the postal planting area. Then I divided and transplanted the hostas in an area with better shade. We also cut back all the junipers and shaped them and guess what? We found windows we hadn't seen for five years! And this year we will be able to decorate our trees with twinkly Christmas lights because we will be able to reach over them without the help of a 40 food scaffold! Things look neat and clean and kept and I'm really proud of all the work we've done.

But body's achin'! My feet hurt cause I'm stupid and don't always use the proper foot wear when I'm digging holes. And lucky us, we live in a really rocky area so imagine the fun when you use all your strength to push a shovel into the ground and hit a rock. Ouch! My shoulders hurt from the hundreds of pounds of mulch that I've shoveled and my back is screaming at me too. I just got up a second ago to let the cat inside and I couldn't even stand up straight. I had to shuffle across the kitchen like an old woman. Thank goodness I was wearing my fluffy socks that glide easy across the floor! Lets just hope if I fall, I can get up.

There is still so much to do. But instead of complaining or feeling overwhelmed, I am going to try to look at the bright side, take a glass-is-half-full kind of approach and be grateful that there is always something to do. Because I think life would be pretty boring if there was nothing to be done and everything was always in order. There is always a reason to get up in the morning and a reason to keep moving and for that, I am grateful.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Our social worker called this morning with the answers to the questions that I had hounded her about in regards to the referral last week.

I did want the questions answered but really, we had decided to say "no thank you" to the referral. But before I was able to tell her just that, she started in with the info:

The allergies and medical issues that were our strike one? Well...turns out they aren't severe. As in, when the boy has an allergic reaction they put cream on it. Well then.

And the travel that was our strike two? Well...turns out we won't have to do any of it. The workers will take him to and from visits and his medical appointments will be only monthly and only a 15 minute drive away. Hmmm.

And the legal risk that was our strike three? Still there but not as exponential as had been expected. And to be honest, the legal risk thing is something we would have to face with EVERY referral so this one is no different. Interesting.

We had not been expecting this. What looked like big mess from the outside was revealed to be quite a beautiful opportunity once all the layers were peeled back.

We've tossed our hat into the ring which means that they have submitted our study to be considered along with 4 other families. The workers will determine which family best suits the needs of the children. As for us, we've done all we could. We couldn't be more available (or vulnerable) than we are right now. What happens from here on out is to be determined but everything happens for a reason, so I have faith that either way will be the right outcome for us.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

I challenge you to listen to this song 3 times with your kids and NOT get it so stuck in your brain matter that you can't complete a sentence without adding "boom, boom" to the end of it!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Call

As you know, I've been feeling rather deflated about the whole adoption process. And after my last conversation with the social worker, had decided that I was just going to go to that corner over there and eat worms. I was pouting and my bottom lip had gotten a splinter from where it had been dragging across our hardwood floors.

So I did the only thing I could think to do- I started praying. I prayed that God would give me patience, that he would give me endurance. I prayed that he would show me that I was on the right path, making the right choices. And why was he testing me this way? I know with all my heart that I am intended to learn patience because never once has this been about me not wanting to adopt. There is no question as to my commitment and desire to throw myself under the bus that is the foster/adopt system.

And then I got mad because, well that's what impatient persons tend to do and I said something like, "Okay God, if this doesn't happen by the end of the year then THAT'S IT, WE'RE DONE WITH THE ADOPTION!!" And do you know what God did? He laughed in my face. And then he patted me on the head and said, "do you know what pretty girls are???? QUIET GIRLS".

I joined a website for people who have been, have or will adopt. It's sort of a facebook for adoption. And while I was browsing, I happened upon a link and I clicked on it. It takes you to a website for a woman named Elna Baker; a devout Mormon and hysterical creature who did a story video about rejection. If you have time, you can view the video (it's really funny) but the overall message, the caboose at the end of her funny train, was that "if you try to force fate and try to make God do what you say, you will be REJECTED!"

That last line hit me line a freight train. It was exactly what I needed to hear and while I wasn't happy about it, I sat down and decided to let go (as much as possible) of the idea that thinking and worrying and willing things to happen wasn't a huge waste of time.

And then do you know what God did? He smiled and placed his thumb on his nose and wiggled his fingers at me because TWO DAYS LATER we got it...the call. I had been at Bear's pre-school and when I got home and walked into the kitchen I noticed that Howie's eyes were the size of dinner plates. "I called you on your cell phone", he said in a monotone fashion. "Sorry, I forgot it." "We got a call." "Okay". *eyes looking side to side* "A call, Licha." "Yes", I said still confused. "From DCF."

And wow, the build up to that moment was like slowly ascending a steep hill on a roller coaster. Click, click, click, click, click. And the moment itself was like reaching the peak and being slammed down at a 90 degree angle while your insides tumble inside you like clothes in a huge laundromat dryer.

Our social worker had called but left a message because I was gone and Howie was in the shower. They found a match for us, a sibling group and she wanted to see if we were interested. She would call back at noon. It was 9am and we were going to have to wait three excruciating hours. That was bad enough but then she didn't call at noon. And didn't call by 3 so I called her and she wasn't there.

It wasn't until the next morning that we finally made contact. When I saw CT STATE on the caller ID I got butterflies in my stomach. Kind of like when you've met someone really hot and given them your number and hope and wait and dream of them calling. But at the moment when the call finally arrives, you want to play it off like you're cool, like you HAVEN'T gone to sleep with the phone in your bra cup for the last three weeks.

"Yeah, hi Jenn. What's up". As if I didn't already know. She went right into it. Details were flying past me, faster than I could absorb them. Within the first few minutes my stomach sank because I knew that this probably wouldn't be a good match for us. It was a sibling group of 2 boys, ages 3 and 5, both with a host of special needs. Strike one. Plus, their medical issues would necessitate several days of extended travel per week. Strike Two. And their parents were actually very involved, see the kids daily so the legal risk was exponentially high. Strike three.

I still asked a ton of questions so that we could make an accurate decision and our social worker, sweet lady, tried as much as she legally could to tell us that this wasn't the right match for us and that she has to call us about every case. I just wanted to be sure because honestly, if I had to write my kids down on paper and be brutally honest about them, they would look like a train wreck. Seriously...a bossy, mildy ADD girl who will eat through the drywall to get to the food in the pantry, a boy with P.D.D (nos) which nobody will understand so all they will see is "AUTISM", and a little girl who is sweet as can be but can turn on you at any second and morph into the spawn of Satan. So... I want to take careful consideration with these boys, because it's only fair.

We've decided that it wasn't the right fit for us or our family. And you would think that I would be disappointed and sad but I'm not. Instead, I feel invigorated...hopeful. I feel like things are happening and our study isn't sitting at the bottle of a file cabinet in the back corner of a dim lit storage room, in the basement of a half-condemned building.

I'm starting to learn that patience really is a virtue and while still nothing has happened, it feels like everything has happened.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Swamp Ass

Yesterday I got a call from the school nurse. Birdie was in her office- again. She spent quite a bit of time there last year. Because she's obsessed with her poop and every time she went to the bathroom, she ran to the nurse's office to confirm that her bowl movement was an acceptable color.

I'm not even kidding you. I can't tell you how many phone calls I received last year from the nurse's office so that I could confirm that yes indeed, corn does come out in full kernels. And it is normal for poop to be brown, or green, or soft, or shaped like "a snake". Unfortunately, the school nurse is not the only one who gets to hear all about Birdie's poop. I believe that her teacher, the town librarian and even the man who fertilizes our lawn knows the inner workings of Birdie's bowel.

I thought we had conquered this obsession over the summer so I was surprised when I got a phone call yesterday. Birdie was in the office yet again. This time it was in regards to her butt being wet and "thorny". The nurse said she had been in the bathroom for a long time and wasn't feeling well and was sick to her stomach. I went to pick her up. I took her temperature and asked her a bazillion questions about how she was feeling. I gave her toast and applesauce for lunch, all the while thinking that she was sick. I knew that she hadn't thrown up and she didn't have a temp or even diarrhea so I was concerned but not really worried.

She said that her butt was itchy so I told her to take a shower which she did and !voila! she was "cured".

I couldn't believe that I had to get a phone call from the nurse, pack up Bear and Tariku and trudge my not-yet showered self to the school all because she had swamp ass.

I know this is WAY too much detail but she had eaten something fibrous that caused some activity if you catch my drift. I had told her to make sure that she washed herself really well because we all know that loose bm= swamp ass. She had sworn that she was clean but apparently she had lied. And she went to school picking her butt and shifting her weight from side to side so as to itch herself and gotten so uncomfortable that finally she feigned sickness so that she could come home and relieve herself.

As soon as she was dry and happy, I told her to get dressed because her swampy little ass was going back to school! I was not about to let her play hooky! She was only gone and hour and thankfully only missed lunch and recess and was back in time for lessons.

It's funny how sometimes we take things for granted. Like I take for granted that when I'm browsing the supermarket aisles that my 7 year old isn't going to tell the shelf stocker guy that her butt itches. I take for granted that if she is feeling not so fresh, that she will clean herself. I take for granted that she knows she can't spend 2 40 minute sessions in the bathroom.

I blame her father. Because she has learned from him that in order to take a proper constitution, she has to strip down to nothing, dim the lights, spark some candles, play some mood music and fall head deep into an IKEA magazine.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Back To The Future

Birdie is doing a class project in school. Yay! Joy! Super! Can you hear the excitement in my voice? *sticks finger down throat* She has to build a diorama of our town hall; a brick, square building with lots (and lots) and lots (did I mention lots) of windows. We spent a good portion of last Sunday working on it. The teacher said to let the kids do most of the work. But she also said that it must be to scale and look exactly like the building assigned. Psh. Doesn't she know if I let Birdie do it alone, our town hall would look remarkably similar to Cinderella's castle? And here is where I have some struggles. Do I let her do all of the work herself and risk her humiliation when all of the other kids come to school with perfectly scaled down replicas (made by their parents of course)? Or do I help her and perhaps stifle her artistic expression? I compromised. I helped her with the general construction, the foundation, if you will. It was her job to add detail and color and personality ( and oh boy, did you know that our town hall has glitter blue tinted windows?).

There was just one thing we weren't sure about. The picture we had of the building didn't provide enough detail and while we knew there was a tower at the top, we couldn't tell what was in it. We assumed it was a bell and couldn't imagine how, exactly we were going to make not only a tower but a bell to boot.

I drove by last night and realized that it wasn't a bell at all. It was in fact a clock. A giant clock.

Me: "So Birdie, I drove by town hall and there isn't a bell in the tower, it's a clock!"
Birdie: "Awesome!"
Me: "So now, I think it will be really easy to replicate it." Yes I used the word "replicate" because having a good vocabulary is fundamental!
Birdie: "Yeah!!" *jumping up and down
Howie: "Maybe if we drive in front of it at 88 mph in a Delorian and generate 1.21 gigawats on a rainy night...maybe we can go BACK to the future."

Maybe it was how cute he looked when he said it. Or maybe it was that I loved that movie. Or maybe it was the irony that he can't remember where he put his shoes but he can remember details like this. Or maybe it was that I was on my second Smirnoff Ice, but his comment had me in hysterics and it was the perfect reminder of why I married him.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Caught In The Act

Oh yes, this blog is EXACTLY what you think it's about. Never in my life has there been a more mortifying experience.

It's not like we've never been caught before. We have, but those times have always been discreet little accidents that could easily be played off. Like once, the kids busted through the protective locks and stormed into the room while we were, ahem...under the comforter. But we were exactly that, under the covers in bed and half dressed. Or, I should say that the kids had no idea that there was any nakedness under the covers. Couple that with the fact that they saw nothing and were too little to understand much of anything, they just assumed we were being lazy.

Plus, there was another time when Bubba caught us. His room is directly off of our bedroom, as in you have to go through our bedroom to get to his and we don't lock his door because he might need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night which is exactly what happened. Luckily the lights were off and I hoped and prayed that his vision was still sleepy blurred and maybe even his eyes half stuck together with gook. But it was a close call.

This last time? Well...suffice it to say, a lot of mistakes were made. First, we didn't wait the customary 30 minutes to make sure that the kids were in such a deep sleep that an earthquake couldn't rise them from their slumber. Second, we forgot to lock our bedroom door. Big mistake, HUGE MISTAKE.

So without going into too much detail or subjecting you to mental pictures, I will just say that things were happening. Things that happen when a man and woman love each other very much and yada yada.

All of a sudden and without any warning the door flew open and Birdie is standing there. Within half a nano second she had flipped on the lights and let me tell you...there was NO WAY to talk ourselves out of things this time. This time there was no half naked-ness. This time there were no comforters. This time there was no cover of darkness!

We told her that she should go to her room and we would be over in minute. She closed the door and we hurriedly got dressed and had a quick meeting on what exactly we were going to say to her. Then we shivered and helped each other suppress our gag reflexes. We decided we would address it only if she seemed curious. Basically, we would answer questions but not bring it up otherwise, which she didn't. I talked to her later about privacy and how we always knock on doors before entering because it's the respectful thing to do. I asked her if she had any questions and she said "no" but I told her that if she does, she should ask them and I will answer them.

But I'm still skeeved out about the whole thing. *shivers* I'm thinking that we need to start double bolting our doors at night. And putting away a little extra money for all the therapy Birdie is going to need when she gets older.

Have you ever been caught? How did you deal with it? Do tell...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Hair Blog

Okay, so I promised you that I would write a blog about my horrible haircut and here it goes. I decided that I should get my hair cut because it was looking much too much like a mullet. The back had grown out (irregularly I might add) and looked like a big mess. My hair is very thin and straight. Well, it's straight in some areas, in others it's wavy. Plus, I don't have a lot of it so I have bald spots, or spots where the hair is very sparse.

For this reason, my hair can't be allowed to grow too much because it gets heavy and weighs down and then you can REALLY see my bald spots. It's not exclusive to me, it must be a family thing because my mom had it and several of my cousins have it. A family curse.

So I had done a stupid thing in letting it grow out. Because I delude myself into thinking that this time will be different, that this time it will grow out in thick silky strands like the girls on the Pantene commercials. After the first time that I cut my hair short, I kept thinking that eventually I would be able to let it grow out again, that I would be able to get through that awkward "growing out" period. I was wrong because I look hideous when it's growing out and no matter how many times I delude myself, it never grows back in thick, silky strands.

Plus, and you women can attest to this I'm sure, when your hair looks awful, you FEEL awful. I felt dumpy and unkempt and disheveled. And since I always wait till the last minute and never even think to make an appointment, I never know what I want and go to a salon that isn't exactly known for their fashion sense. I think their style books were from 1980. I think my stylist did this hair style and felt really proud about it...
bad hair Pictures, Images and Photos

So I told the girl doing my hair that I wanted it longer in the front and shorter in the back and she took that to mean that she ought to part my hair down the middle of my head and cut the back super short and the front a long and never mind with blending it together or anything.

This is the right side of my head and even though I asked her to leave the front a little bit longer, she still cut it too short. Now, I don't know if she's trying to ease my hair into a style over the course of time, she didn't say anything to that effect, but what she did doesn't make any sense. She cut it longer and didn't thin it out (it tends to poof on the sides because it has a little curl to it). And look, there's a bald spot on top!!!

Here is a pic of the other side.

In this pic you can clearly see the divide between the front and the back and how stupid does that look? Plus, you can also see another bald spot. I'm so proud of it *rolls eyes*. Also in this picture, it looks like my hair is two different colors and I don't know how that happened but I need to color it anyway. I'm going with a jet black that will hopefully cover a few of my gray strands.

And these pictures were taken after I dried and flat ironed and waxed and fiddled with the hair until it looked half-way human. I would tell you what it looked like right after she cut and styled it but the twitching and the nightmares might start up again if I do.

This is THE LAST TIME I scrimp with my hair. I am going to start selling my blood plasma so that I can return to my awesome stylist, a girl named Nela who is an artist of cut and color. She's going to take one look at me and have a heart attack and rather than admit to being a cheap bastard, I will tell her that I got into an unfortunate weed wacker accident.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Confused Between Her Head And Her Vagina

This is what happens when I turn my back on Bear for the minute and a half of alone time I get in the shower. The girl cannot be trusted.

Just in case you are confused, or of the male persuasion, these are Always pads. Apparently the TV was on the rag. Or in this case, it looks like the rag is on the TV. They were also on the floor and in her hair. The girl is confused between her head and her vagina because she also wears her pull-ups on her head. ALL OF THE TIME!

Next thing I know she will be wearing my tampons as earrings.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Bad Start


Yesterday morning I commenced with my typical daily routine. I packed school lunches and checked backpacks. I made sure everyone was fed and dressed and ready to hit the bus stop on time. I made sure I was wearing my sports bra so that I wouldn't accidentally victimize someone at the bus stop with my dangling boobies.

Bear, in her desperate attempts to be a big kid, begged to go to the bus stop with us. She was dressed and so I figured what the heck. She donned her Dora The Explorer backpack and headed out with us.

We always go to the bus stop early. Because I'm a letter of the law type of person and I always seem to be on the wrong side of Murphy's Law. It's the best way that I can insure that we won't miss the bus, even if we do have to sit there for half an hour before the bus comes. Plus, my kids are pokey. So they got their shoes on, backwards on the first try, hung their backpacks on their shoulders and began walking down our driveway.

She loves the bus stop. But she hates being left behind while Birdie and Bubba head off to school in that shiny yellow school bus. Because of this I never know if letting her go to the bus stop with us is fun or if it's torturous teasing.

She whined as they rode off but I quickly changed the subject to something that she loves- breakfast. She had not eaten yet and back at home a plate full of steaming hot eggies with sweet, freshly cut strawberries that would make her mouth dance with happiness was waiting for her. She bought it. For further distraction, I even let her pick a few flowers from our postal area, black eyed susans that are starting to dry out. "These are Black Eyed Susan's, Bear. See how the middle part is black and when you put them together they look like eyes? Cool huh?" "Hi Susan, my name is Bear", she said, greeting the flowers.

Yes!! I successfully diverted her from a complete meltdown. I was feeling pretty proud of myself as we walked through the garage when she said something that made me stop in my tracks. "Can I have Birdie's umbrella?" The umbrella was resting just outside of the door and she wanted to take it in. I bought each of the kids their very own umbrella for the beginning of school and since then, I have been cursing myself for buying them because they have been a huge bone of contention in our house. They fight over them non-stop and even though they each have their own they fight over each other's until I have to take them away, hide the umbrellas and threaten them with the old "I brought you into this world, I can take you out" bit.

So this umbrella that should have been hidden, had somehow mysteriously turned up in the garage and now Bear wanted to bring it inside. Do I want to take the chance that she will throw a fit about it because I won't let her bring it in? And what harm would it be since her brother and sister are gone? "Sure. But only for a few minutes, then we need to put it away." "Okay, mommy."

That was all well and good until it was time to go to pre-school and I tried to pry the umbrella out of her sticky little fingers. We were getting into the mom's taxi cab minivan when the confrontation began. "It's time to put the umbrella away, we can't take it to school." "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" "You can have it when you get home." "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Then the stomping and pendulous arms began. She was screaming so loud that her mouth was WIDE open to the point that I thought the top part of her head was going to break off and as it was dangling there, she would still be trying to scream for that umbrella.

I took it away and then began the grueling task of getting a screaming toddler in the throws of a tantrum, into her car seat. I sat her in it but she bucked her body and then slid down onto the floorboard like a puddle of goo. All the while, her salty tears were flying and my sweat was dripping. I had to use my elbow across her body to hold her in place while I used my other arm to thread her jello arms into the harness straps. By the time it was over I was exhausted and sweaty and a little pissed off.

She continued to cry the entire way to pre-school. Because clearly, the loss of an umbrella is so painful and gut-wrenching that it necessitates a full dramatic, oscar-winning performance. What else could I have expected. The problem was that she already cries when I leave her at pre-school. It only lasts for a couple of minutes but I was afraid that she was so worked up that she would never calm down and they would call me to come pick her up. And I DID NOT want to spend the morning with this little demon.

I tried my best to calm her down once we got there. It worked...a little bit, anyway. She stopped crying long enough for me to take a couple of breaths but then it commenced again as she was putting her backpack in her cubby and washing her hands. I braced myself for the glass shattering screams that were about to envelope the room as soon as I exited.

They came, although not quite as intense as I expected. Aaaaaaaand 15 seconds later it was over and she was laughing and playing and going about her business as if the dramatic and mournful morning had never happened. It took me way longer to gain my composure. I was still rattled from all the screaming as I sat getting my hair cut. A really, really, really bad hair cut that makes me look like one of these guys, minus the hats:

But that's for tomorrow's blog.

Shame On Me

There is a woman that I know. And there is something about this woman, I can't exactly pin point what it is, but there is something about her that annoys the living daylights out of me. I see her often so I have the agony pleasure of being in her company quite often. She's nice enough and I try to be pleasant. Because that's what God would want me to do. But inside, I have to fight my every urge not to roll my eyes at her or thump her on the forehead or kick her in the shins. Now this is not a friend or someone who even runs in my social circle, she is just someone who I have to deal with.

I believe the main reason she grates on me is that she takes great pleasure in making herself feel better by pointing out what she sees as my flaws or shortcomings. I recognize this as insecurity in it's purest form but having to deal with her is the emotional equivalent of standing in front of a firing squad.

Anyway, this is a battle for me because when I am around her, a dark side comes out of me...a catty, vindictive and malevolent side of me which makes me feel shameful. I guess I get defensive and feel like I get sucked in.

The other day something happened...I can't go into detail because, well...I live in a small town and it seems like every time I turn around someone's going, "hey! I read you blog and OMG that one about your husband's gray pubic hair...hysterical!" And I'm all..."oh, thank you very much reverend." My point is, I have no idea who reads this (probably more people than I know) and word travels fast and someone down the road might remember this incident and then put two and two together and then there would be an angry mob standing on my front lawn with pitch forks and torches.

So anyway...something happened where she had to endure a little humiliation on behalf of her children. They are GREAT kids, sweet kids...but normal kids. They, as any normal kid, have their good days and their bad days and this particular day was a bad one. Well, she spends a lot...A LOT of time trying to make sure everyone knows how perfect her children are and how perfect her husband is and how perfect her life is so when this happened, you could tell, it was making her skin crawl.

And here's the bad part. I was loving it. It totally made my day. Seriously, it couldn't have been a better day if I had simultaneously won the lottery and invented a calorie free cheese cake. About thirty minutes into my high on life party I started to realize how horrible I was being. How could I take pleasure in her troubles? Shame on me!!!

I should have said something like, "it's happens to all of us and your kids are lucky to have such a great mom." Instead, I smiled and said nothing. And do you know why? Because I really felt like she was getting her comeuppance and deserved it. Because my kids are ALWAYS bad. I'm used to it. Because once you have more than 2 children, the odds are simply against you. Someone IS going to have a bad day, it's just a toss up as to who that might be. So I'm used to one of them throwing a fit or saying something humiliating or wearing something questionable (like a pull-up for a hat). I'm used to people giving me strange looks that say, "wow, I wonder if she has to muzzle them when she takes them to the vet for their shots."

But her? She's not used to that so yes, I did enjoy it. I enjoyed watching her squirm. I enjoyed how she didn't make eye contact. I reveled at her desire to duck and cover. And I feel guilty for all of it. My hope is that I can learn to find some kind of way to use this to my advantage. Not in a selfish way, but in a way that I might grow and improve upon my wretched personality. That I might embrace compassion and understanding. That I might live forgiveness and grace. Oh boy, I have my work cut out for me because those things, they are simply not in my nature. I have to work extra hard at things like this because I don't have a history of taking the high road.

I believe that the people around us are there for a reason. They are there to teach us things, to give us the opportunity to be better people. I think she is here to test my patience and test my ability to take a breath and see past my gut reactions long enough to say and do the right thing. That and to give me a reason to drink in the afternoons :-)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Shameful Process

Well, it's been two months since our adoption certification went through. And we're still waiting. January will make a year that we began this process and we're going through a rough patch. It's hard to wait. HARD!

I spoke with our social worker today who said that our study went out for a couple of cases but what does that mean, you ask? Nothing. It means nothing because we could still be waiting for months and months for the right referral. We could wait for another year for the right referral and then it take one, two or three years more for adoption finalization.

In the meantime, I've been speaking to other adoptive parents who are going through or went through the same process and most of them, unfortunately have horror stories. In one case it took FOUR YEARS for the process to be completed. Dude, I don't have the staying power for FOUR YEARS. And worse, we could go through the process, wait for four years and then still have to give the child back to a parent who will eventually lose custody down the road for further abuse.

I'm starting to question myself. Is this the right thing? Maybe we shouldn't be doing this? Is it not meant to be? I can't imagine being in limbo for the next FOUR YEARS! And here is what saddens me the most and this applies to both domestic, foreign and social service adoptions. The process is broken. The system is too screwed up. And the kids are the victims.

There are kids out there right now who are starving or being neglected or abused. There are kids in foster homes, lingering in their own personal hellish limbo. And there are families waiting with open arms but the system has to do it's thing. So paperwork has to be filed with one person who sends it to another who files another set of paperwork and then reviews it and between vacations and weekends and someone taking a long lunch hour, the paperwork gets put off just another few more days before someone finally looks at it and realizes that someone didn't dot an i or cross a t so the whole thing has to be done all over again. Say a child, lets say a 3 year old, comes available for adoption. They are placed into a database and matched to families, perhaps up to thirty families who are willing to take a 3 year old with whatever needs he/she has. Then those thirty families are reviewed one by one, visited and asked to come to meetings. The social workers have to work together to find the right match, which could take months. Then, that child has to go through court dates and more paperwork before a family is pre-matched. But by this time, the child could already have turned four in which case the system deems they are in a different age bracket and any family certified for a three year old would no longer qualify. Or perhaps original prospective families have already had children placed with them in a foster situation and are no longer available. If no families are available, then the process has to be re-started with a whole new group of families and even then, if a family is found there are rounds of meetings and placement studies before a child is placed and then they are fostered for months or YEARS before the adoption is finalized in court. During that time, there are countless court dates and family visits and other things that could de-rail the whole thing.

These kids are just a number, a date on a calendar that can be moved around and re-scheduled. They endure until court reconvenes or until their worker returns from Disney World. It's shameful.

I wish I could say that I can wait for as long as it takes and perhaps this is a test of my patience and commitment but I just can't possibly see waiting years for this process to be completed. I believe that we went into this for all the right reasons, to help a child who had run out of options, to open our home and welcome them into a family they could call their own. From the beginning, we were lead to believe that there is a great need for families and now I understand why. They don't make it easy. In fact, they make it to where you have to defy the odds in order for it to happen.

Right now it looks like this isn't going to happen. Or if it does, it would be years from now. I've all but given up and I hate that because I really wanted to help a child. It's a sad state of affairs when you have children in need and families willing to help but a system that can't bring them together. I never knew how broken and dysfunctional it is and now, I've seen it first hand and it makes me want to weep.

I have to change my perspective from someone who was going to adopt to someone who isn't. We cannot plan for this or wait for this much longer. From the beginning, Howie said we would give this thing a year and if it didn't happen, then we would take that as a sign that it wasn't meant to be. I didn't want to do that because I really felt that it was the right thing and that it would happen. I was willing to wait until... But I'm now realizing that it's not a matter of waiting it out. We cannot will it to happen. We are still on the books and we can't really get off of the books (mostly because it doesn't matter how often you call your social worker, they aren't available) easily. I can't see us waiting for a referral more than 6 more months. It's a sad, sad thing.

Friday, September 11, 2009

True Love

...early one morning...

Me: "Where did you put Bubba's school paperwork?"
Howie: "I put it on the counter."
Me: "It's not there."
Howie: "Well that's where I put it."
Me: "I don't know what to tell you. It's not there. Are you sure you put it there? Did you look in your truck or in your briefcase?"
Howie: "It's not there. I know where I put it."
Me: "Well, it's not there."
Howie: "I swear I put it there. If it's gone, then you moved it."
Me: "I didn't move it."
Howie: "Well, I didn't move it and I definitely put it RIGHT THERE."
Me: "Okay. I'll as the teacher for another one."

...later that morning...via phone call...

Howie: "Um...I found the my briefcase...where I didn't look even though you asked me...and I feel like a real jackass.
Me: "I'm glad you found them. And I love you."

True love...not saying "I told you so" even though my tongue is bloodied from holding it in :-)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Why You Should Never Work On Labor Day

Howie and I decided to put the "labor" in Labor Day yesterday. Instead of grilling hamburgers or drinking lemonade, we decided to work on the tremendously overgrown landscaping in front of our house. Actually, I should totally give Howie credit here because it was he who had the fire lit under his ass to accomplish something. I, on the other hand, would have been happy sandwiched between my comforter and sheets. I can't explain whether it was something I ate or didn't eat or how much I slept or didn't sleep or how much I drank or didn't drink enough. Whatever the reason, I was in a funk. But I felt guilty leaving Howie outside doing yard work with the kids so I scraped my tired butt from the couch and went outside to help.

There is one tree that we literally had to hack in half because it was that overgrown and we've learned from seasons past that if we merely take some pruning shears to it and not cut it back, it will grow back like wild fire. We can now see out of two of our windows now that it's been cut back!! We also ended up pulling two stumps out of the landscaping and from how deep and firmly entrenched they were, you'd have thought they had been there for 100 years. Howie had to attach them to the riding lawn mower and yank them out and I kid you not when I say that at one point, I thought the mower was going to tip backwards and land on top of the hubby.

We trimmed, we shaped and we hacked. Bear helped us load branches onto tarps but Bubba and Birdie soon grew tired of riding their bikes and playing so they headed inside. A weird phenomena happens with those kids. When I have laundry to be done or something that requires us to stay inside they will beg and plead and throw themselves at my feet and shamelessly swear that they are going to die unless they get to go outside. But on the flip side, when I set aside a whole day for them to frolic in the fresh air, they beg and plead and throw themselves at my feet in attempts to go back inside. Crazy I tell ya.

So anyway, I'd been using a hedge trimmer to cut back a two juniper bushes that were poking out onto our sidewalk. I was trimming along, minding my own business and trying to figure out whether I should simply cut them back or try to sculpt them into the shape of an elephant a la Edward Scissorhands when all of a sudden, I felt a searing pain on the ring finger of my left hand and I looked down just in time to see a black hornet ripping my flesh open. I swear time stood still and we made eye contact. It was only a split second but it was long enough for the little sonofabitch to wink at me.

Now, I'm no stranger to bug bites. I constantly have a connect-the-dots sort of design of mosquito bites on my person. I've been bit by bees and wasps and yellow jackets. Nothing...NOTHING compared to this kind of pain. My hand was on fire and every minute that passed made the pain grow more intense. My hand began to feel heavy, like it was filling with lead and it started to rise upwards. First to my forearm, then my elbow and finally up to my shoulder. I started to panic. First, this reaction was so different from anything I'd ever experienced and second, my doctor told me to be very careful of bites like this because my allergies are precarious and it could take only a small stink to send me into anaphylactic shock. The fear of my air passages cutting off was terrifying but not nearly as thought consuming as the pain!

I read once that vinegar helps take the sting out of bites so I poured a large cup and dipped my hand inside and guess what, people? IT WORKED! The pain almost instantly went away. But then the swelling set in and the aching and while the vinegar helped the sting it didn't do anything to quelch the pain in my arm. I've since learned that WD-40 also takes a way sting pain, who'd a thunk it? So I was in agony and did the worst thing possible: I searched online. Now, by this point I was almost certain that I was going to die. I took a Benadryl right away but was curious about symptoms which would require Howie to strap me to the hood of the mini-van and drive me to the Emergency Room. There were no shortage of symptoms, especially bad ones. The problem is that I could summon the symptoms as Howie was reading them to me.

Shortness of Breath- well, now that you mention it, I am feeling short of breath
Dizziness- Whoa, I'm gonna fall over
Itchiness- Scratch, scratch

About this time I was thinking that this was it, I was a goner and I would owe it all to one damn pissed off insect. And how could I go out this way?? Howie was sitting at my desk. I was pacing the kitchen, holding a cup full of vinegar with one hand in it and starting to go into a full blown panic attack and the kids are chanting, "snack, snack, snack, snack, we want a snack, snack, snack, snack."

"DAMNit kids, can't you see that your mother is DYING over here." I can't breath but I can't figure out if I'm having an allergic reaction or I've frenzied myself into a panic attack. Luckily, the numbness in my arm starts to subside but I'm still betting that I'm going to see the new ER wing of our hospital tonight.

I sit down to calm myself and Howie gets the kids a snack while telling me that I'm gonna live, I just need to chill the fuck out. But this is the man who didn't believe that I was in labor when Bear's head was falling out of my nether regions. He cannot be trusted with medical diagnosis.

I was telling myself to breath in and out when the best thing, I MEAN THE BEST thing happened. Howie leaned over the kitchen sink and took a drink. And why is this spectacular you ask? Because instead of picking up his glass of water, he picked up my glass of vinegar. He took a huge gulp, ya'll. Don't ask me how he didn't smell it. I mean it's not like you can't smell vinegar from a mile away.

He let out a scream and was gagging and spitting. He threw the cup in the sink and turned the faucet and started splashing water in his mouth while grimacing. He was writhing, he was shaking, he was making sounds that only come out of animals when they are being gutted alive.

And it was the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. I swear that living in this house is like living inside of a sitcom! By the time he had the taste somewhat washed out and I had dried all four gallons of my tears of laughter, I had completely forgotten about not being able to breath. And I was still alive.

The fact that I'm still breathing as I write this, speaks to the fact that I in fact, did not die last night. But I still think I'm having a major reaction. My hand is still numb. I can't bend my finger. My whole hand itches like crazy and it's swollen beyond swollen and red and hot and tender. I have muscle aches in my arm, much like you'd experience if you work out really hard and they extend all the way from my finger to my shoulder. I'm hoping that it gets better tomorrow. It's a good thing that I was smart enough to remove my wedding bands before the swelling set in. Or else, I might be seeing the inside of the fancy smancy new ER wing for an entirely different reason!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

She Has Her Mother's Way With Words

When I was around ten years old I spent a summer with my grandma. She lived in a little town called Rocky Ford, Colorado - a small town nestled in southeast Colorado and known for it's sweet melons. There was nothing like sitting on Grandma's back porch on an arid afternoon and eating those sweet Rocky Ford watermelons. Man, just the memory of it makes my mouth water!

Anyway, so I spent some time with my Grandma and one of my favorite pass-times was teasing her. I would sneak up on her and scare her. I would pinch her butt when she walked past me and I would wear her bras and fill them with oranges and tell her that I looked just like her. What can I say, I was a real pain in the ass. I didn't do it because I was a bad kid or because I didn't like her, I totally adored her and to be completely honest, I did it just to get her to scream my name in her trademark raspy voice. It made my heart dance to hear her say that and I would giggle for a half hour after she did it.

For those of you who are parents and are subjected daily to the lobotomy inducing "Dora The Explorer", you might be familiar with Dora's grandma. She sounds EXACTLY like my Grandma and is one of the only reasons I tolerate that show. I guess it's not that bad if you watch it from time to time. It's the marathons that make me want to climb into the TV and and strangle that little girl and her endless QUESTIONS!!

So while I was visiting, I noticed that Grandma had a friend in one of her neighbors, Mr. Baca. He would bring her the daily paper and take out the garbage. Sometimes he would come over for coffee and afterwards I would tease her relentlessly about him being her "boyfriend." She would suck on her teeth and give me the stink eye every time I said it.

And here is where the story gets interesting. Do you remember being a kid and wanting desperately to fit in with grown ups and be taken seriously? But try as you may, you couldn't keep up with their conversations? Well, one day my Grandma had some visitors, a group of women from town. They sat around the table and drank coffee and nibbled on empanadas. They were gossiping about stuff that only old women give a shit about but I wanted so bad to talk within their circle. When one of them started teasing the other I took this as my opportunity and said, " Grandma has a loooooooover. Her loooooooover is Mr. Baca." There was a collective gasp and I believe my Grandma's heart stopped because all of the blood drained from her face. You see, it's because I was trying to tell them, teasingly of course, that Grandma had a boyfriend in Mr. Baca but because I wanted to seem older and more refined and intellectual, I chose the word "lover". Except I didn't know what the word meant. I truthfully thought it meant "boyfriend" or "someone you love". *snicker*

If I recall correctly, my Grandma didn't speak to me for the rest of the afternoon. In fact, I think she didn't even look at me because it was the only way she could restrain herself from kicking me in the trachea. I had "KUmiliated" her in front of her friends and now there was going to be gossip all over town that my 70 year old grandmother was a total tramp. A "hussy" is the word I believe she used. She got over it. I think. Maybe this could be the explanation why my cousins divided her diamond jewelery amongst themselves after she died and I received her torn up sewing kit.

Fast forward a few or twenty years to this last weekend. Howie was in the car with all three kids, picking up Mamaw from the airport. The kids were watching a DVD and after Mamaw got in and her and Howie started talking the kids wanted to turn up the volume. (Mamaw and Howie are notorious for talking OH SO FREAKING LOUD)

Birdie: "Dad, you're too loud. Turn it up."
Howie: *ignoring her because he can't hear her through his own roaring voice*
Birdie: "Dad please, we can't hear the movie! Turn it up a bitch."

That's when Howie's interest was peaked.

Howie: "What?"
Birdie: "Turn it up a bitch!"
Howie: "You mean, turn it up a BIT, a B.I.T"
Birdie: "Yes, father. That is what I said!"

She clearly had no idea what she had just said. She totally thought that was the word for that occasion. We know this because if she so much as says the word "fart" she blushes and refuses to make eye contact. This was different. In her attempt to use our phrasing and language she has turned into a complete potty mouth.

So that is the new phrase in our house. TV too low? Turn it up a bitch. Lights too dim? Turn them up a bitch. Of course, this is only a joke between Howie and I and only once the kids are in bed. We don't want to foster any more bad language. Even if they don't know what they are saying!