Friday, August 31, 2012

What Sisters Share

They may not have the same eyes...

They may not have the same skin color...

They may not have the same body shape...

They may not have the same set of genes...

But they have the same dress!


"Here, Mom. I'll make her smile."


Thursday, August 30, 2012

New Blog Arrangement

What do you think of the new arrangement? I wanted something different and to clean things up, but maybe this is too much? It also takes some ads away which means I lose a little revenue - the amount of money it takes to buy a combo meal at Chick-fil-A once a month - I am not super concerned about that.

What do you think? Easier to read? Leave comments? Hard to navigate? Trickier to find things? Easier? Keep it this way or find something else? Thanks for your opinion!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Club You Don't Want to Be a Member Of; Guest Post by Jennifer

My friend and former coworker Jennifer who writes Peaches and Potatoes has been struggling with infertility for quite awhile. She recently wrote a beautiful blog post and I was lucky enough to get permission to re-post it.


Sometimes, I physically ache for all the women facing infertility, pregnancy loss, infant loss, or the overwhelming obstacles of adoption. 

Sometimes, I ache for myself...My first, my one-year-old. And my second, my little baby, due this fall. I think of them this way, maybe because I've had a while to think about them. It probably seems strange to other people, but it's natural for me. 
It brings me peace.

Sometimes it seems like everything I do every day reminds me that I've lost them. I can't help but think how different life would be if they were here now.

A stranger, Katie, who shared her story on www.facesofloss.com, wrote, "Miscarriage is death, yet there are no funerals, no sympathy cards, no bereavement time. Instead couples grieve in silence. You’ve just got to pick up the pieces, hold your head high, and go on with life as usual.
"


I've observed that some people believe that infertility or pregnancy loss is mostly longing for a baby, something like dreaming of a car or new furniture, only perhaps more intense. 

They believe that you just have to be patient, because eventually you'll have a baby (when it's somehow magically "the right time"), and everything will be alright. And that you shouldn't worry so much, and try to be happy with what you already have. It's a matter of faith and patience. 

This is true, because happiness is a choice, but it's only half of the truth, which makes it half a lie. The whole truth is that it's much more than waiting. It's more than what it seems. 


It's a part-time job that you don't get paid for.

It's weekly doctor's visits, daily phone calls, and constantly waiting on hold for the nurse. 


It's getting the run-around over and over from your insurance company.

It's follow-up, follow-up, and more follow-up. 


It's getting nowhere.

It's feeling like you have to keep trying, even when you want to give up.

It's freezing cold exam rooms with nothing on but a paper shield.

It's complicated explanations and half-smiles from the medical staff.
 

It's feeling completely out of place in a building with pictures of babies all over the wall and a waiting room full of pregnant women.
 

It's piles of paperwork and a whole drawer full of files at home labeled "Infertility/Miscarriages."

It's trying something new and hoping that it works.

It's trying again, then again, and again, and hoping that it works. 


It's bad news.

It's rarely ever good news. 

It's a 4-hour drive to see the specialist.

It's a night stand covered in prescription bottles. 


It's taking medication that turns you into a person that you hate.


It's paying $80 every month for a bunch of plastic sticks. 

It's complex calendaring, counting, charting, and analyzing (and over-analyzing). 


It's blood tests, and poking and prodding. 


It's physical pain and emotional stress.

It's failure.

It's the loss of privacy.

It's the loss of someone so small, yet that you love so much.

It's birthdays that only you remember.

  
It's starting over. 

It's "just life" to everyone else, but it's not 
their life.

It's money.

And more money.

It's running out of options.

It's tough decisions.

It's praying. 


It's crying.

It's hope.

It's dreading church every Sunday, and hating that you feel that way.

It's waterproof mascara.
 

It's being misunderstood and judged.

It's trying to figure out the best answers to awkward questions and well-meaning "advice."
 

It's trying to pretend that life is normal, when it's not.

It's growing closer to your spouse.

It's growing apart from friends who avoid you. 


It's being lifted up by encouraging words from people who care about you.
 

It's feeling the love of God.


It's seeing His hand in your life.

It's spending hours reading strangers' blogs to remind yourself that you're not alone.

It's a club you don't want to be a member of. 


It's scouring the Internet for answers that aren't there.
 

It's constantly battling feelings of discouragement, despair, anger, bitterness, jealousy, and self-loathing.
 

It's being physically exhausted from that constant battle.  


It's trying to be the very best person you can be in some of the very worst situations. 


It's "temporary." (...Right?)
 

It's (seemingly) never-ending. 


It's so much more than even this, and it's different for everyone. There are so many stories, some with happy endings and some with very, very sad ones. I'd like to believe that everyone will have their happy ending eventually, even if it's not in this life. But until then, it's much, much more than waiting.
 


Thanks, Jenny for letting me share your post. It really touched me and I know it will touch others.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Help Me with My Book - Name the Ship

My novel will be available soon. I am in the last stages of editing.

But one thing keeps nagging at me.

I am not happy with the name of the ship in my book.

I have named it twice and I am not crazy about either names. I have one last chance to change it and I need your help.

So a little background. This is a pirate ship in the early 18th century. It's name needs to sound realistic. It needs to sound ominous. But it can't be obvious because it is awhile before our heroin realizes the vessel is a pirate ship.

My first name was Furtuna del Fuego (Fire's Fortune) and the second name was Banshee.

I don't feel that either is quite right. So I want your help coming up with a new name.

A few actual ship names from the Golden Age of Piracy are:
Adventure Galley 
Fortune
Queen Anne's Revenge
Bachelor's Delight 
The Golden Hind
Sea King
The Great Ranger

Some great fictional ship names:
The Black Pearl
The Dauntless
Nautilus
Poseidon
Red October
Dawn Treader

(Too bad I can't steal some heavy metal bands - Black Sabbath; Quiet Riot, Megadeath, Iron Maiden? Perfect!)

Anyway, here are some options I am looking at now. Please rank them in the order you like. The survey takes less than 2 minutes. Pleeeeease help.

Use the comments section of this post to tell me your opinion of any of these names or suggest new names.

Thanks!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Best Break-Up Songs

Remember that all-consuming pain of a broken heart? Remember locking yourself in your room and drowning in a perfectly tragic song?

It's a type of therapy only music can accomplish.


For the record, I don't need any break up songs. Thanks to my darling husband, I haven't needed a breakup song in twelve years and hopefully never will again.

But someone I know was having a hard time yesterday and blasting breakup songs. I got to thinking about my go-to breakup songs back in the day. They are a little dated. :)

Hard Habit to Break by Chicago
Somewhere in My Broken Heart by Billy Dean
Shut Up and Drive by Chely Wright
Hey Jupiter by Tori Amos
Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose by Dwight Yoakam
Ain't That Lonely Yet by Dwight Yoakam
In the Arms of Sleep by Smashing Pumpkins
Making Love Out of Nothing At All by Air Supply
Crazy by Patsy Cline
Pictures of You by The Cure
Don't Speak by No Doubt
Blue Spanish Sky by Chris Isaak
Can't Let Go by Landon Pigg
Pretty much anything by Damien Rice
With or Without You by U2
Love on the Rocks by Neil Diamond
China by Tori Amos
One More Try by Timmy T
Unbreak My Heart Toni Braxton
Missing You by John Waite
Careless Whisper by George Michael
My Immortal by Evanescence
Case of You by Joni Mitchell
Always by Bon Jovi


I remember making mixed tapes (and eventually Napster CDs) with these songs (if only Adele had been writing songs back then, I am sure I would have a ton of those!). They were the perfect soundtrack for the utterly paralyzing, exquisite pain of young heartbreak.

Did any of these make your breakup song list? What was your go-to breakup songs?



P.S. I have some additions.

You Oughtta Know by Alanis Morrisette
Insensitive by Jann Arden
Right Here Waiting by Richard Marx
Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover Sophie B. Hawkins

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Nighttime Lara Is Such a Jerk

I have a battle raging within me.

Morning Lara versus Nighttime Lara. And Nighttime Lara is winning. She is such a jerk. She stays up way too late. Every freaking night. She dinks around online. She watches Vampire Diaries. She wastes her life (which is my life too so it makes me mad). She has a blast with her time. Does whatever the heck she wants. And ultimately, she screws over Morning Lara. Yeah, the Lara that has to face rolling out of bed after just four hours of sleep. Maybe five. Never, ever more than six. Morning Lara has to get two kids ready. Morning Lara has to be on time for things. Morning Lara has to do the boss's bidding. Morning  Lara has to plan her day and check off boxes and write headlines and look perky and pound down 20 ounces of Diet Pepsi before noon to function.

I was lamenting this last week and my mother-in-law suggested I "ground" Nighttime Lara, making her go to bed early for a week. I do! Every time I get up, I curse Nighttime Lara. I get so angry with her. I demand, insist, and require that she goes to bed before midnight. And I mean it! But guess what? By the time night falls and it's bed time, Morning Lara is nowhere to be found. Nighttime Lara is completely unsupervised. So guess what she does? She spends hours reading damnyouautocorrect.com. She reads and wastes time. And she stays up way too late.

Sometimes on the weekend, afternoon Lara plays mediator and takes a nap. But that doesn't happen often enough for anyone's liking.

All I can say is that Nighttime Lara is a total punk.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My Brown-Skinned Baby

We are now a multi-cultural family. I remember in the adoption classes hearing that multi-cultural families have to get used to a bit of celebrity - people stare, people ask questions, anonymity is gone because it is obvious your family is different than biological families.

I am experiencing it now. I don't mind. I'm not a super private person (what blogger is?). I don't mind the strangers who come up and ask to see her. I don't mind the extra stares.

But there are some things that are new to me. Let's just say my family and the neck of the woods I live in isn't super diverse.

So it's kind of silly...but baby powder. Baby powder on a brown bum shows up like, well, like you would imagine. It kind of threw me for a loop the first time I saw it. "What is all this crap on my baby?" Oh yeah. I put it there. I never saw it on my ivory-skinned Joci.

Mongolian spots. I didn't know about these at all. They are a birth mark pattern that is very common in darker skinned people, especially Pacific Islanders, East Asians, Native Americans, and East Africans that fade in a few years. Noelle has more spots on her back than not. From shoulder blades to tail bone, she is a mottled collage of bluish gray and bluish green spots.

Photography. Noelle's skin is bee-autiful. A perfect creamy shade of latte. But in pictures her skin--especially on her face looks shiny and greasy. It does not look like that in person. Does anyone else have this problem? Are there tricks for photographing darker skin?


Still, I am so excited to have this exotic beauty in my life. There is no way our genes could have ever created her lovely combination of tawny skin, almond shaped eyes, and black hair. And I love being a multi-cultural family.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Joci's World

I wanted to share some cute encounters with my darling 3 year old.

Yesterday we went to my niece Jessica's baptism. When Jessica came out of the dressing room after her baptism, Joci loudly exclaimed, "She got sanitized!"

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One day not too long after we brought Noelle home, Joci got right in Noelle's face and cooed, "She's gorgeous!" I suppose she was mimicking all the adults who had met Noelle. :)

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Normally, Joci loves watermelon. But one time she was eating it and spit it out. "I don't like it. It's gorgeous."

Obviously, she's still trying to figure out that word.

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Kids are supposed to embarrass you, right? Well, it's begun. Our first stop at the grocery store was at the pharmacy. While waiting in line, Joci noted the white-haired pharmacist and asked if he was Grandpa Dave. I said no. She said, "Look at that guy. He looks like grandpa. He's dangerous." Hmmm...I hope this was another case of a misunderstood word.

Later on, I dropped a refrigerated roll of Pillsbury biscuits. You know, the kind that pops when you slap it on the counter? Yeah. It exploded on the floor. I basically turned and walked away as fast as I could, pretending it didn't happen. Joci wouldn't let it go. "Mom! You dropped that! You made a mess! Did you break it? Are you going to pix it?" (fix it.) This went on LOUDLY for the rest of the shopping trip.

We saw an African American man at the grocery store. He was older and in one of those motorized shopping wheel chair thingys. I am sure that is what captured Joci's attention more than race because she knows several African American kids and people. Anyway, she pointed at him and (loudly) asked, "What's that black boy doing?"

*****************************************************

While at the store last week, Joci kept putting things in the cart and not listening to me. We have a rule - she can walk around at the store as long as she listens but as soon as she is disobedient, she must sit in the cart (which she hates). So I told her to put the pack of straws back she was taking off the shelves or she would have to sit in the cart. She angrily said, "I'm going to throw you in the trash!"

*****************************************************

Joci was jumping on my sister's trampoline and it was time to get going.

 "You can jump for two more minutes," I told her.

She negotiated. "Ten more minutes?"

"Two more minutes," I insisted again.

"Two more minutes and five more minutes."

****************************************************

Lately, Joci has been obsessed with growing up and getting bigger. I say this just to make myself feel better about the following exchange. I had helped her go potty and she asked me, "Mom, when will I have a big bottom like you?"

***************************************************

Joci snuggled up to me and said, "I love you. We're good friends."

Yes, yes we are. Love that girl.




Friday, August 3, 2012

Back In the Saddle Again

Yesterday was my first day back to work after my twelve week maternity leave. It was bittersweet. Naturally, I cried taking Noelle to daycare her first day (I learned to have her first day of daycare NOT be my first day back to work - I need the time to be emotional). But I was ready to greet the day yesterday. My return was eagerly anticipated, I could tell. Sticky notes saying "Welcome Back!" and "We Love You" were plastered all over my computer. I had a stack of jobs waiting for me. I got plenty of hugs and smiles. I was missed both personally and professionally. And honestly, I love my job so it felt good to know my job loved me back. :)

I played with Noelle for about 30 minutes in the afternoon. She was happy. I had to remind myself that she sleeps so much of the day anyway, that she couldn't be missing me too much. A half hour is actually a significant portion of her alert time. These are the things I have to tell myself. : /

Lunch was awesome. There were other adults. Everything said was so hilarious. Perhaps my bar for funny is super low since I've been subjected to way too much Blue's Clues lately. But the conversation was awesome and it was a blast. I honestly work with some great people.

There were some hiccups. I had a deadline, and I ended up staying an hour late to meet it. That was not in the plan! My purse strap broke. My car seat is stuck in the base and won't come out (apparently this is a common occurrence with our car seat model; time for something new). I did not plan ahead and ran out of gas on the way home. I was able to coast into my driveway on fumes so that was good. We didn't get home until close to 7:00 and we were all hungry and cranky. I left my cell phone at work so I couldn't call my husband to see when he would be home. Other than that drama, it was a good day.

I am sad to not be spending every moment with Noelle, though. So I need to focus on the positives of work.

Things I am looking forward to:

  • Earning money. Woohoo!
  • Air conditioning. Hottest summer ever and I've suffered through every degree of it. 
  • Putting on pants and makeup every day will inevitably boost my self-esteem.
  • Praise and rewards for doing a job well-done. 
  • My awesome friends and coworkers.
  • The good cafeteria at work - no more making breakfast and lunch.
  • Fridays mean something again (but so do Mondays - eek). 
  • Being so excited to pick up my kids at the end  of the day. Best part of my day. I love it! 




Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Noelle's First Day of Daycare

Today was Noelle's first day of daycare. I return to work tomorrow.



I arranged it this way because I remembered how hard Joci's first day of daycare was for me. Going to work in tears, forcing a smile, twelve weeks away from my job and not really feeling like being there, thinking I wouldn't have much to do, wanting to leave a bit early to go get my baby, and being slammed with work. So hard to force a smile, go to meetings all day, be expected to catch up fast, and not being able to leave early.

So I gave myself today as a buffer for Noelle.

I stayed strong packing her things last night. I did great this morning getting the kids ready. I even wondered if there was something wrong with me emotionally because I was holding up fine. Then on the drive to daycare it hit me. I cried all morning. I texted with Noelle's birth mom. She was comforting me, telling me she understood what I was going through. I felt guilty that she was the one comforting me over this temporary goodbye when she has gone through so much worse, but it was so nice to have a mother who loves this same baby to share my sorrow with. I can't imagine not having an open adoption.

Joci was excited for her sister to go to daycare. Joci is good friends with the teachers in the baby room and she was thrilled for Noelle. She showed her baby sister all the cool stuff in the room like the exersaucer, bouncy swing, rattles, and other toys. Of course Noelle is too small to appreciate most of the stuff, but it was fun to see Joci's excitement. She was upset when I made her go to her class for breakfast. I think the got a few visits to the baby room throughout the day. She is excited that Noelle gets to join her tomorrow too.

 So now it's real. I go to work tomorrow and both my littles are in the best daycare in town.


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