Tuesday, June 30, 2015

More Profile Book Angst

Today is my third (week)day of summer. So far, I have read two books, started a third, watched a lot of Insi.de Amy Schu.mer (which I've enjoyed immensely), done a little working out (and realized how horribly out of shape I am), and spent a lot, a lot, A LOT of time at the computer. I have NOT spent hardly any time gardening, not really, because it is apparently monsoon season in Western NY. I am not complaining about the chilly temperatures, because I love not being a sweaty mess. But the weeds are definitely winning.

I have already shared with you that the profile book is a project that is not bringing out the best in me. As in, it's pretty much bringing out the worst in me. I want to control it, but I kind of suck at this sort of graphic design-oriented project. I want to work on it all the time, but I also want to do it together. But, as I've mentioned, we handle these sorts of challenges differently. And I am really, really bad at letting things out of my tight, sweaty little grasp.

So I've been a rat bitch lately.

Which is why today, after going to see Juras.sic World at the fancy leather-recliner theater with a friend (so much fun, not too terribly scary, but terrible cliched script writing...if you can overlook that and Bryce Da.llas Howa.rd's constant heavy breathing, you will have a grand time), I picked up this strangely apropos card for Bryce:

Art by David Olenick
Hilarious, no? On the inside, it says "Well you get the idea." Except I had to add a comma after "Well," because it really bothered me that it wasn't there.

It was basically an apology card for being such a monster lately. I just want us to be parents as soon as possible, and now the profile book is the last thing standing between us and going live, being able to be profiled and get this show on the road. This exciting, terrifying, exciting-terrifying show on the possibly long and twisty road.

I think my angst over the profile book is multi-layered. It is a creative effort, and while usually I love me a good creative project, it is kind of surreal to be encapsulating your life into a photo book when I have only made one photo book, for our wedding, and I wasn't really all that happy with that one. It has to be perfect. Not for everyone, but for the person who will ultimately choose us to parent her baby. We don't know who she is or where she is or if she is baking that baby right this very minute, but she's out there somewhere and we don't know what about our book will attract her to us. Will it be me with my violin? Bryce with his guitar? A picture of us taking advantage of our beautiful woodland backyard? A picture of our cats? A picture of the gardens, or us in the kitchen? Will it be the montage of us making the same stupid silly face on every outing/hike/trip we've ever been on?

This year, in Ithaca
Last year or possibly the year before, here in Rochester.
Just a smattering of the many photos we have like this.
Attractive, no? Endearing or crazy?
We just don't know. It could be that I like owls. It could be that Bryce woodworks. The problem is, we kind of have a lot of interests. They are all quiet interests, relatively speaking, and ones that you do alone or with another person -- hiking, cooking, gardening, woodworking, reading, playing instruments... how to show all that and not look like weird hermit people? Because through going through all the pictures, we are not particularly social. We do not have a lot a photos of us with others.

Caveat. We do not have a lot of photos with others that do not involve some sort of booze. Bryce's 40th birthday party? Well, lots of friends there, but it was a classic cocktail party, Frank Sinatra style. So it was classy, but there are cocktails in virtually every shot. Dinners with friends? Dinners out with family? Wine, cocktails, champagne toasts.

And we are not supposed to have pictures with booze in them. Which again, makes us look like  antisocial people who live in the woods, the workshop, the kitchen, and the garden. And there's the question of: should we hire a professional photographer to do a small shoot of us around our home and the park nearby? Or are our photos (some professional, some not) enough?

So the pressure keeps building up, and I get overwhelmed, and then I get so super cranky that I can hear the tone coming out of my mouth and I cringe inwardly as it comes flying out like sarcastic daggers, but I have had a hard time stopping the onslaught until the damage is already done. All I can do is say I'm sorry and hug deeply and give Bryce apology cards with ironic dinosaurs on them, and a contrite packet of his favorite strawberry licorice.

I felt loads better after talking with a friend of mine, who I haven't spoken with in AGES, who adopted her son through the same agency at the end of last year. She told me everything about her process, her journey, and it was twisty for sure. But, she said that she was hideous during the profile book process, too. (Not that this makes it better, but at least I'm not alone.) She basically said that it's a miracle they survived it. Maybe the profile book is a way to gauge the strength of your marriage before you really get past the turnstile and are on the road to adoption, truly. My friend said that she used a different program than Publisher or Shut.terfly, that she used Mi.xbook. And that she basically wrested all control and spent 6 weeks on the thing until it was perfect. And then after it was live, she found a typo and recalled her books, reprinting them all. Yeah, that sounds about right to me.

So, I spent yesterday evening and this morning messing around in Mix.book, and basically love the program. But right now, Bryce is in his office working away at his version of the book in Publisher. And that is okay. Maybe his version of things will be better. (It probably will be, from a design standpoint.) He has an incredible eye for color and pattern and space. It's what makes him a great engineer, a great designer of woodworking projects, and a great decorator of our home. Every renovation that we've done to our home has been masterminded by him, to the point where he uses a CAD program to do up his own blueprints and designs down to fractions of an inch. It's why finding the right contractor is so important, because... oh my god... HE IS A CONTROL FREAK TOO.

So it becomes control vs control, and for the time being I have relinquished mine. I am curious to see what he comes up with. I don't hear him sobbing and swearing in the other room, so he's obviously got a better hold on this than me. Maybe giving him control over the design and then tweaking the drafted product and providing the written copy is enough. We did select pictures together, and maybe after we see what we have it will help us decide whether or not to have that professional shoot done.

We will get this done. It will get done sooner than later. And when it is all done I will share with you advice (if you wish to take it from a person who has admitted being a crazy cranky overwhelmed bitch throughout the whole process), the stuff that we decided to take and use and the stuff that we chose to ignore, and how our book turned out. Probably not the actual book, because of confidentiality and stuff, but maybe some pictures and spreads that we chose.

Those of you who have already done this, recently or not, please please please share your wisdom on what worked for you and how you tackled this beast. I am feeling like I have it mildly tranquilized, but it still has the potential to pull the dart out, rear up, and bite me. Or Bryce. Let's hope this divide-and-conquer strategy will work for us!

Monday, June 29, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: Profile Books Make Me Crazy

Nothing is illustrating to me just how differently my husband and I tackle a project more than the adoption Profile Book. Up until this point, we have been able to divide-and-conquer all of our adoption tasks, and I hate to say it but I have been able to orchestrate and control the way that things are being done through my lists and schedules and reminders. This is a good thing, but it also highlights my incredible need to control every little piece of the process, something I realize quite sharply that is going to change once we go live and very little, if not absolutely NOTHING, is in our control.

I had a plan for the profile book. It seemed so simple in my head. It is SO NOT SIMPLE.

Last weekend I was crying, SOBBING in front of the computer, feeling completely overwhelmed and lost, swimming in a sea of Shut.terfly options that just didn't fit.

Finally, Bryce was like, "Step away from the computer, crazy lady" (in the nicest of ways).

He thought we should do things differently than I wanted to, with my Shu.tterfly poking and my 11x17 inch paper folded mock-up that I'd already erased at least once. I hated to admit it (controlcontrolcontrol), but he was right. Putting a fake layout into a powerpoint made so much more sense --we could manipulate it easier, we could switch pages around, we could see a snapshot of what a page might look like and then search for layouts to fit that, not vice versa. And then we would find a platform that works for us, for this specific purpose, not just go with what we used before for our wedding books.

Writing it down it makes so much sense, but at the time it seemed like he was just making all these EXTRA STEPS. Typical engineer, planning things to death. Things that would slow us down.

And it's true, it does slow us down, but this project is kind of important, no?

The profile book is often the ONLY thing a potential birth mother will see of us, a sort of "imagine your baby here" kind of look-book into our lives. It is the MOST IMPORTANT thing in the adoption process to get right. The home study was important, we can't be at this point without it, but the profile book? We don't get chosen without a good one. Period.

So I need to let go, let go, let go. Let go of the unreasonable deadline that I myself have imposed upon us. Let go of the need to control everything, because when it comes to designing things on a computer, that's one of many places where Bryce shines. I've got the writing thing down and can pick out nice pictures, but when it comes to working in Publisher (our final choice for the platform), Bryce will have the edge. Let go of my fears that I will screw this up and no one will pick us.

Let go and breathe and just let our lovely selves shine through, don't overdo it, and try not to freak out.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy. Again, apologies, this one is more like a midi post.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Homestudy is Done

Ahhhhh, here it is, finally -- the first day of summer in earnest. I love, love, love teaching but there is really nothing quite like that first truly free day. The eye twitch is gone. I have spent quality time with my chaise lounge already, and I've done some gardening and even some laundry. Finally, space to breathe. And space to catch up on everything that's going on in our process!

We received a call on Wednesday from our home study social worker, that she had forgotten to ask us a very important question. After realizing that I had left my phone on silent all morning during the building End Of Year Breakfast and then classroom cleanup, I checked it at lunch (glorious lunch outside at an ACTUAL RESTAURANT that is only possible in the last week of school) and found that I had 6 text messages and 3 voicemails. Whoops. It was a sobering reminder that I need to make sure that my phone is ON and AUDIBLE and ACCESSIBLE at all times once we "go live." Anyway, I called Bryce back, we discussed the question just to be sure we were both okay with our answer, and then I called our social worker back. And, just like that, she said,

"I'm so sorry; I've been sick and I didn't get your report done as quickly as I wanted to. It will be submitted to the agency today."

Sorry? We were literally introduced to her for the first time on June 9th, so I'd say that the turnaround is incredibly speedy! Amazingly lightning fast! Almost to the point of making us nauseous because that profile book project is turning out to be a behemoth of epic proportions that may make my eye twitch come back... but that's my next post.

Anyway, it's all in! I already talked about our individual meetings in this post, so let me share with you how the couples visit and home tour went.

We were more relaxed for our second visit, since we had a read on our social worker's personality (laid back, clearly an advocate, willing to drop some cusswords, which I always appreciate) from the first visit and weren't too terrified that we'd bombed the thing. We really didn't even clean the house too much more, although I had Bryce cook the breakfast bacon outside so that our house didn't reek of crispy delicious pork belly strips when she came to sit and chat.

I'll be honest, I was a tiny bit worried about how we were going to handle asking questions asked to us jointly, because I can be a bit of an over-talker, but I also didn't want to be strangely silent while basically sitting on my hands and having Bryce answer questions, because then it might seem like I'm muzzled or something. But it worked out pretty effortlessly. I forget that while our own comfortable conversations kind of flow over themselves, more formal(ish) conversations result in a good back-and-forth, a good intuition as to who should talk first and when to jump in and when to shush and let the other person talk a bit.

Questions she asked us as a couple:  

How did you meet? 
Match.com, actually... and reluctantly for both of us, with no pictures in our profiles and brutal honesty in the written part.
What attracted you to each other? 
We each talked about how incredibly appealing each of our profiles were to each other, and then how true-to-life it all was in person, and how easy it was to fall into a close relationship, even if it got a little bumpy in the beginning with Bryce being a bit gun-shy. Once that hurdle was cleared it was (and continues to be) all about each other's talents, personality traits, and of course physical attraction.
What is the most stressful thing you have been through as a couple? 
This was interesting, because I definitely felt like hands-down it was infertility. Especially the last two years or so when we were making some of our most difficult decisions and facing one hideous setback after another. Bryce was a little worried we were talking TOO much about the infertility, but I asked him what else could possibly compare. Point taken. Also, we spent our ENTIRE MARRIAGE, from day one, embroiled in the quest for pregnancy until we shifted our track to adoption earlier this year. This was not an easy thing to talk about, because I definitely feel like in some ways Bryce would have moved forward with adoption a lot earlier and I just wasn't ready. I feel like I held us back a bit. It makes me pretty sad sometimes, actually. But, we got the chance to talk about all of our T-charts, and our decision trees, and how we keep each other sane (only one person can be crazy at a time in our arguments, which works out 99% of the time), and how we thoroughly investigate our options and the ripple effects of our options and talk through every challenge we come across. So I think we got some major points there, and I managed not to be a weepy mess. (Thank goodness it wasn't this week, because I have my lady times and I am getting weepy over EVERYTHING.)
A slew of questions about child rearing practices and thoughts on discipline.
We had thought through this one a lot, especially because she told us ahead of time multiple times to really think through the discipline thing, so we were super prepared for that question. No spanking for us, even though we were both spanked (so confusing to be told hands aren't for hitting, except when your parents are mad at you because you've misbehaved), lots of natural consequences and reflecting on choices and keeping developmental appropriateness in mind and using some sneaky behavior modification techniques I know from my own training and relying on tips and tricks from friends of ours. Although, we felt like big fakers, because WE ARE ALL TALK. We have very little experience here, minus Bryce's fleeting experience with a child in the house in his first marriage, and so it's like being a teacher in training and talking a lot about classroom management when really, you learn from experience and as you go. We are definitely on the same page with things though and are going to try really hard to not have those chinks in the armor that apparently children can smell a mile away. :) Stay tuned to see how THAT all works out.
Questions about our decision-making process with our Grid.
By far the most uncomfortable part of the discussion, going over our choices for the Will Consider/Will Not Consider three-pager of situations for the baby, the birth parents, the adoption situation in general. We thought out our decisions very, very carefully though and so the discussion went just fine, we just felt terrible in general for not being accepting of every possibility out there. It's a very surreal thing to fill out that Grid, but an important one.
Questions about childcare (but called later in the day about this one).
I am taking a leave of absence for a period of time we haven't quite determined yet, but hopefully as long as 6 months, and then we are planning on center-based daycare. It will be very, very strange to go about interviewing centers this summer as we plan and find out just how you get on a list of possible enrollees when you don't actually have a due date. It was interesting though, I found out that most of the families that our social worker sees take a month or two only, and then have daycare of some kind. She said that often women have had their careers for a long time at the time of adopting, and don't want to lose traction or that piece of themselves. I felt like a nice middle point, because so many of the people I know who are on this path ahead of me have either taken an extended leave of absence or are planning to be stay-at-home moms or are planning on working from home. None of those are options for us, but more on that in a separate post. It was interesting to hear that I was planning more than the average of her caseload, at least.
Questions about post-death planning, in the event of a horrible tragedy. (Also called later)
This is also not fun but necessary to talk about. We had to discuss possibilities for guardianship and why, and prove that we had discussed it. We did not have to have an actual will set up, although we really need to go do that sort of thing and soon.

Then, it was time for the house tour! She basically said that she needed to see that we had working indoor plumbing (check), adequate bedrooms and space for the baby (check), and a kitchen (check, and all fancy now). She did not have to see our basement.

She loved our house! I love our house, too, but worry about space constraints for later. However, our house is roughly 1600 square feet, which is plenty, and we have two full bathrooms (with working indoor plumbing, I was bummed she didn't even give it a flush to check it out), and even though our upstairs is literally our master bedroom with attached glorious bath, the tiny little room with nary a closet to be seen, and a little dormer nook, she thought it was just fine. (I have to remember that people have babies in apartments, that our space is actually quite luxurious, and that in our house cozy character has trumped a layout that makes sense, but it's FINE for a baby, just FINE.)

In fact, she was all over the baby's room. It was adorable, it had plenty of space, and she LOVED the bookshelves. I got a little thrown under the bus with the bookshelves, actually. They're these beautiful floor-to-ceiling built-ins that Bryce put in years ago, but they take up a lot of space in a small room and covered up the air vent. BUT, when she said she LOVED them, Bryce said, "Oh good, because Jess wants me to get rid of them but I thought they should stay. I've been thinking about how I can fix the air vent and take some shelves out and put in rods so that it can serve as a little curtained closet." WHAT? I had never heard this alternative plan before, and we had just spent over an hour talking about how big on shared decisions and togetherness we were, and I felt a little taken off balance by this. Because she was all, "OH MY GOD, YES! YOU MUST KEEP THE BOOKCASES!" And all of a sudden I was a sort of villainous character who selfishly wanted this long IKEA dresser in that space for the changing table next to the crib instead of this lovingly-constructed-by-my-child's-father, heirloom piece that showcased our love of books and sent the message that Daddy's woodworking is important and books are important. I didn't know about the closet-retrofitting, but it makes sense and will save us space somewhere else. She had a different idea for where to put the crib that I thought wasn't okay, but is, so I smiled a little tightly and nodded. So the bookshelves are saved and I briefly felt a little ganged up on. (And hello, the rest of the house screams books-are-important! Our house is a freaking tinderbox from the books that are EVERYWHERE! There are no rooms other than bathrooms that don't have bookshelves and (artfully-ish arranged) piles of books! I kind of took offense to the idea that I could be somehow nixing books in the nursery. There's a window seat Bryce built that holds picture books galore. The bookshelves are loaded with Steven King and Edith Wharton, for the love of all that is holy! There were other bookshelves going in... BUILT BY BRYCE.) Obviously I am still not entirely over this little coup.

And that was it! I sent her off with some purple coneflowers I had dug up the day before because they are literally taking over my garden, and she initially was worried they'd constitute a gift (which she can't accept), but I doubt taking native (and sort of invasive) plants that were going to wilt and die otherwise constitutes some kind of bribery. Plus they had my native soil clinging to them, which included not a small number of weeds hugging the roots. I felt kind of sad when she left, because in those hours we'd spent together she seemed like a really nice, kindred-spirit-y kind of lady, and we may never see her again. She may be able to request us for the post-placement visit, which would be lovely, so I hold out hope that we'll see her again and she can see how our little house accepts our bundle of joy and all the equipment that comes with. And the bookcase transformation, of course. (Man, I really need to learn to LET THINGS GO.)

Now that the report has been sent to our agency, we wait. Apparently, our Family Advocate is behind by a couple weeks on processing the reports (they just hired a couple new Family Advocates, I suspect they have all been swamped lately and then were training the new people and so relief for workload will come slowly), so we probably won't get it in the mail to sign for another few weeks. I'm hoping by the end of July. In the meantime, we work our butts off on that profile book, and get used to the idea of waiting patiently for paperwork to go through, for all the steps to happen as they need to in order to bring our baby home.

Monday, June 22, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: Bad Blogger

I have been a terrible blogger. I have been hard-pressed to find adequate time for writing posts, reading posts, and commenting (and I really don't know where all the time is going). The eye twitch is still in full swing, and my only hope is that I have only three sweaty, cleaning-my-classrooms, finishing-my-paperwork, taking-stuff-home-for-the-summer days left and then time is MINE.

Things I need to write posts about but won't be able to until after Thursday:

- The second home study visit
- The profile book experience
- Um, the second and third parts of the home study classes
- the whole inducing lactation question
- the overwhelming, but in a completely different way from before, feeling of being in the baby aisle in Target
- Trying not to register for a small country
- getting the house ready
- maternity leave issues
- summer break -- time to relax but also time to prep for possibly not being there all year, even though I could totally be there all year

The list could just go on and on and on and on and on. I would like a clone, please.

So, my apologies to you for not being as much a part of the dialogue lately and not being as good a supporter as I'd like to be of your blogs, and my apologies to myself for not adequately processing my own feelings as the adoption process piles emotions and complex questions up around my ears.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Monday, June 15, 2015

#Microblog Monday: The Eye Twitch

I have an eye twitch that's been going for about a week now, off and on (but mostly on). It's not just perceptible to me, but if you're looking me in the eye, you can totally see my eyelid jumping about.

It's probably related to the end of the school year, lack of good sleep, stress from balancing school stuff and adoption stuff and home stuff (adoption stuff is winning lately), and the crazy weather patterns that have us going from hot to cold and dry to flash flood and my head going from normal to achy to full-blown migraine.

And it's probably related to vitamin deficiencies. I stopped taking a vitamin when I stopped taking prenatals after taking them diligently for six years for what turned out to be no real useful reason.

The eye twitch had me starting up a One-A-Day women's thing, a big horse pill but nothing compared to all the fish oil and CoQ10 and giant organic prenatals I was on. Hopefully that helps. (I hope it helps with the evil leg and foot cramps that have been plaguing me in the middle of the night, too.)

Summer is coming, precious, precious, summer, and I think my eye twitch will disappear as it comes into focus. I need a reset from this year. It was both an extraordinarily challenging (yet also rewarding) year student-wise, and the year that took me from my last transfer to the surgery that exposed the Asherman's to two failed cycles in a row to this point, where we are done with our home study from our end, just signing it in a few weeks when it's processed and in our hands, complete. Big changes, big emotions, big challenges.

It's amazing how stress can become a tangible, physical thing. However, I think that my eye twitch is nothing a few lazy days in the chaise lounge in the backyard with my stack of books won't cure. (Having the profile book done and ordered will probably help, too, but for now I just want the chaise and the books and no schedule so desperately).

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

And All Of A Sudden, It's Home Study Visit Time

Well. First things first, I have done a TERRIBLE job of finishing my home study class Part II and Part III posts. I will get them up, but in the meantime, there have been some developments.

So on Monday, I mentioned that we'd been assigned to our social worker. I've been keeping a timeline of sorts to keep track of all these exciting milestones, so we have our trajectory through this process for ourselves and also to help us tell the story to our beautiful, materializing-from-the-ether FutureBaby.

I have had to add a LOT to the timeline in the past two weeks.

Last Thursday, we received the call that we had been assigned to a social worker. We were told to expect a call by the end of the following week to start scheduling the visits. Based on what I know can happen with scheduling from other people and just life in general, I expected to have the visits scheduled by July, and to have our homestudy report completed by August. We haven't started our profile book because this was our expectation -- that maybe we could be lucky and be homestudy approved by July, but more likely it would be by August or even September.

We received our call from our social worker on Tuesday, June 9. And our visits were scheduled starting TODAY, Saturday, 6/13. She is speedy, she is personable, and I have this feeling that our report will be done A LOT sooner than we had anticipated.

Which means some really, really great things -- we can be approved and waiting sooner! We don't have to torture ourselves for weeks gearing up for the "scary" visits! We can get this over and done with! We will most likely be waiting parents before the summer is even remotely out!

But also, some very, very stressful things -- we felt initially that we didn't have enough time to adequately ready the house... we felt a little underprepared in general...and this new timeline is downright terrifying. Our profile book needs to get started. Our little room needs to be completely revamped so that, you know, there's an uncovered heat/AC vent that provides a somewhat necessary supply of climate-controlled air, which means the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves Bryce built need to come out, which means that ginormous number of books needs a place to go, and the walls need fixing and repainting and the floor is damaged from the cat water that apparently overflowed while the kitchen was being done and sat under the rug that protected the floor from our gross cat's butt scooting and the cat hair needs to be vacuumed up and we need new windows because our second greyhound ate the windowsill of one and it doesn't stay open anymore and I can't breathe because there's just so much to do all of a sudden in a very short period of time.

STOP. Breathe in, breathe out, slow it down, just...BREATHE.

It's a little more than a little daunting. Good practice for letting go and letting things happen as they may and not holding too tightly to imaginary timelines, right? I just really wanted to have that profile book done simultaneously with the home study report being done. And THAT is a topic for a whole other post... I have a process in mind for designing it and I don't think it will take too terribly long, but it's kind of an important piece of things to rush through just for the sake of meeting a deadline that I, in my infinite wisdom, MADE UP.

But anyway...

Our first home study visit was today. There are three-- me by myself, Bryce by himself, and then us together and the home tour combined.

Here are things the social worker told us we absolutely did NOT have to worry about:
- the house does not have to be spotless
- the fact that our dining room isn't painted and the wall is peeling from the water damage is of absolutely no consequence.
- she just has to see the bedrooms, check for safety issues, and make sure we have indoor plumbing that is functional.
- she is just making sure that we are who we said we were in our paperwork and our extensive autobiographies, clarifying a few things, asking a few additional questions.

Here is what we absolutely DID worry about:
- We had very little notice, so we spent Thursday and Friday nights cleaning like mad. Because even though that's apparently not important, and there's no getting all the drywall dust up that keeps surfacing even though the kitchen is done, it made US feel better to have a nice clean house. We didn't go crazy though.
- We did light candles, because with the kitties being cooped up in the little room during the kitchen fiasco during the day, it did smell a bit like cat in the house. And this incessant monsoon season also has the house smelling a bit musty and camp-like. We really didn't want her to walk in and think, "Is that eau de mold-and-cat-shit I smell?"
- We did put our adoption binder and Adoptive Parent Education Manual on the table, as well as a couple of adoption books (and my People magazine, so it didn't seem utterly staged). Not so much to kiss ass, but in case we needed any of those things. Lori, if you're out there, I chose The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption as my book of choice, because it was so awesome and would be a great example of us using our resources.
- We did NOT hide our bar. We have a lot of good-quality spirits and bitters and liqueurs, because we like a good cocktail every now again. And, as my best friend has said, "You even DRINK in the nerdiest of ways." So I was a little worried about the breadth of booze sitting on our buffet, but felt it would be dishonest to replace it with a bowl of oranges or something. We have not a whole lot of responsibilities right now, and so mixing drinks on occasion for ourselves or with friends should not be an issue. And it wasn't. I don't think. See? It's impossible to not worry about all the things that are open to scrutiny, but I feel as long as we're honest and explain our enjoyment vs a means to voiding out life, then we're good.
- We did have WXXI classical playing, because that's what we'd normally have on on a Saturday. That or Kat Edmondson/Madeleine Peyroux/Frank Sinatra, not sure which one makes us sound more old and dusty!
- We did offer her coffee.
- We did vacuum the cat hair off the couch, which is good because a) she sat on it and b) she's allergic.

She implored us not to be nervous on the phone and again in person when she arrived, but how can you not be? However, it really wasn't that nerve-wracking at all. As someone who has utilized therapy to get through a variety of crises, it didn't seem all that different from a first meeting with a counselor who wants to get your context. A lot of questions relating to family of origin, coping mechanisms, first marriage, and general grace-in-crisis and are-you-able-to-persevere type things. What has shaped you as a person? And so on. We talk more about our "courtship" when we have our second visit, and our relationship, and our journey to adoption, and our thoughts on parenthood and discipline. That should be a fun conversation. I'm trying to get the image of the movie Green Card out of my head, where they meet separately and then together and it's all brought down because either Andie McDowell or Gerard Depardieu doesn't know what color the other's toothbrush is. (I feel so old for making that reference... it wasn't even a great movie but it stuck with me as what I originally thought home study visits would be like.)  I think we can handle a conversation about how we envision parenthood. And both our toothbrushes are white Sonicare, I have the grey ring and he has the blue one. I think. Oh NO! It's all over...

I have to say, initially I was terrified. Like, fake-vomiting-buckets-in-front-of-my-colleagues terrified. It seems so scary, having someone in your house, potentially judging you, scrutinizing your choices and habits and past experiences, and looking at your home. But, it wasn't really like that. So far, so good. It's like a conversation with someone who's really interested in what's made you the person you are today. I have to say, when thinking on our ability to handle a crisis, I just want to be like, "Please reference the last five and a half years..." I think we have some practice. Not to say that we know how to handle everything, but I never imagined that we'd have to cope and get through so many things that we did, and I don't feel that we are damaged. We are stronger. Kind of like muscles, you have to rip them and tear them as you build them up. We should be pretty freaking buff right about now.

I will share more after the second visit... I would love to say to you "Don't be scared, it's not that scary in actuality," but it's one of those things I think you have to see for yourself. I was told by several people who have done this very thing that home study visits aren't as big a deal as you psych yourself up for, but it didn't really stop me from hyperventilating. It did help me to be a bit more calm as we cleaned and prepared the house, and to feel like, "okay, this is as good as it gets" and not freak out when we ran out of time, but I was still nervous. And then I wasn't.

We'll see how the next visit goes. Closer and closer, step by step, that blurry shape in the distance is starting to look like a baby, coming here, to our home, to our hearts, to stay.

Monday, June 8, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: You Keep Some, You Lose Some

Things are getting more and more real for us over here -- we were assigned our social worker, she's reviewing our files as we speak, and we were told to expect a call by late this week to schedule our two home visits.


I am super excited, but also suddenly slapped in the face with how much we have to get done once our home study is complete and approved and we are officially waiting parents.

So naturally, I went through the Baby Binder to see all the on articles on registering I've razored out (to supplement my obsessive Pinterest collection of lists).

That was a bittersweet activity, let me tell you. There are a lot of pages, a LOT, that I can keep right where they are--a lot of parenting advice, milestones, newborn stuff, gear and nursery stuff, diaper comparisons, photo shoot recommendations, choosing daycare options and pediatricians, all that good stuff. All things we need to seriously start considering so that we're ready for FutureBaby, even if we wait a really long time. You just don't know how long or short that wait will be.

The heavy heart lump that I've not had for a really long time started rising up into my throat though when I saw all of the pages that I don't need anymore, but haven't yet had the heart to pull out of the binder. Pages on eating right for pregnancy, exercises to prepare you for labor and a swift recovery, dealing with c-sections, what to expect from each trimester, what to expect from each phase of labor, poses/props to help with labor, maternity clothes, maternity photo shoots, a lot of nursing stuff for new moms who don't have to induce lactation because they just gave birth, postpartum advice, and basically A LOT OF STUFF THAT NO LONGER APPLIES TO ME.

It was surprising to me, just how sad I found myself. It wasn't that raw, painful, sobby kind of sad; more like an ache caused by that lump that grew and grew but never got stabby. I immediately felt guilty. Shouldn't I be more well-adjusted than this? Shouldn't I just be so overcome by the thrilling fact that I AM PREPARING TO REGISTER FOR A REAL LIVE BABY that those non-applicable pages don't matter--a turn of the lip, a slight swell of a tear duct, but that's it?

I have gained so much. We have actual hope. We have an actual baby, somewhere, sometime, coming to make us parents. We get to have a nursery, and learn infant CPR, and interview pediatricians and day care centers. We get to do all the things a "normal" person would do in their third trimester, it's just that our third trimester could last months to years with no specific due date and possibly very little advance notice.

Despite the comfort and excitement in all the things we get to keep, all the experiences we get to have (you know, like PARENTHOOD), in that moment, those pages I've lost hurt more than I thought they had a right to.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

* Okay, fine, this wasn't really so "micro," but it needed to get out. I am so awful at brevity.

Monday, June 1, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: The Kitchen...is MOSTLY Done!

It's been a long two months, but it's been amazing the transformation that's taken place in our kitchen.

Originally we decided to redo the kitchen on the advice of a realtor, when we were thinking of moving a little more imminently. But now, this renovation kind of exploded and is so beautiful that we have to stay for a few more years to get some enjoyment out of it (and recover).

I think it's totally worth it.

Here are two before pictures:

Looking in towards the dining room after we cleaned it all out.
I HATED that wallpaper from the start.
I did not install it. :)

Looking towards the fence, you'll see
a new picture with the same fence but
it looks WAY different. 
So, it seems narrow, yes? And the windows DID NOT OPEN. The over-sink ones because they were old and the casement handles were missing (and no screens), and the big one because it was painted shut by the same person who installed the wallpaper (not me).

Here is the transformation:

Love the tiny tiles accenting behind
the stove... up close they look like
seaglass. And isn't that window area

New pull-sprayer faucet, bump-out window that
makes the whole thing seem sooo much bigger,
and counter-depth fridge so we can walk around
each other. Love that tile. 
Bump out, unobstructed view of the backyard and
The Shed That Bryce Built.

SO MUCH MORE usable space after shrinking
that window. Amazing the difference that
shift made. 

The glorious bookcase. Also hiding the doorway to
the cellar stairs. 

Obviously we will have to repaint the dining room,
can't wait to get that all back to normal.
The floors are slate Pergo, look SO REAL but
are laminate. Sneaky, sneaky.

Looking into the dining room, similar view as a before shot.

I just can't get enough of this After shot to compare with the Before...
Such. A. Difference. 
I am excited for the renovation to be over, to come home to no people in my house, no dust showing up in odd places, no locking-up of the cats in the little room, and no more eating out because our kitchen is Occupied... I swear I have a layer of renovation around my waistline.

The end, until we get it looking a little more lived in, a little less catalog-y.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!