Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Goodbye and Hello!

I had a FEELING that this wasn't the end of this story. Like M.Night Shyamalan's "Signs" when we find out the aliens are allergic to water...that would've been a terrible ending in the movie that is our lives. (did i miss something? you are a super smart strong alien but water makes you burn?).

Do you believe the cliche, that "everything happens for a reason"?
I'm not always sure that I do. Sometimes I think we use this as a warm, comforting catchall phrase when we need help explaining the unfortunate, sad or otherwise undesirable things that happen in life. This would mean that every single step, every wrong turn, every right decision, every death, sickness, war...it was all predestined before it happened. Hhhmmm. Sometimes this works and sometimes I think it's accurate; but only part of me believes this and it's the same fantastical part of me that still wants to believe in good angels and kind hearted vampires.
I think that mostly we make our own good luck, we choose our lives and the paths that we take. We create the lives we live right down to the people that are in them and the jobs we work and the level of happiness we feel on a daily basis. Possibly with some help from some sort of Divine Intervention. I know, I am a study of contradictions.
You've probably heard me blab about this before, but Buddhism teaches that we must accept pain, and death. That bad things happen in life. And not so much to celebrate that fact, but to ACCEPT it. Trying to fight it, and always put a happy face on no matter what, is not acceptance and will only cause delayed pain and inner turmoil. You allow yourself to feel the pain, and move on. Accept that it happens. Don't dwell on it, but acknowledge it.
I bet you are wondering where I am going with all this really uplifting happy talk. After our decision to back out of Russia, I was a wreck. I mean full on couldn't deal with it, couldn't look at a baby, had to keep the baby's room closed. Blubbered my eyes out for days on end. But I just let myself feel it all and in a few weeks the fog lifted. I was able to see clearly and could move forward with my quest! Did Fate take me in that direction, or did I consciously make it happen, or both? I don't know, but I'm happy we're here!
So for anyone who was following along and would like to continue to; you'll have to redirect your literal and figurative path, just like we did: www.seoulbabee.blogspot.com

Monday, April 12, 2010

Closure. Or Open-sure?

This post is a bit overdue. For some who I talk to outside of this virtual world, this is old news, but I finally felt ready to wrap things up and share the ending with you. The ending of this particular story anyway, I like to think there is a beginning of another one somewhere out of all this.
Somewhere around mid-end March we had, or rather I should say I had, another financial reality check. I remember when it happened, I was staring out the kitchen window at Bek playing with the two neighbor boys in the backyard. These two boys, who are being raised by their unusually young grandparents, who swear and shout and can’t drive because of multiple DUIs. One of these boys taught Bek what the middle finger is. He had no idea what it was. Yeah, thanks neighbors. I try to find the good in people, I really do. But I can’t find anything but lazy trashy neglectful possibly abusive parenting here. And I don’t want Bek growing up here. I don’t know what that makes me sound like but it doesn’t matter, it’s not part of the story.
We’ve wanted to move for a while, but put it on the back burner when we decided to pick the adoption back up. I realized, as I heard the 6 year old boy from next door use a very ugly racial slur, that with the adoption debt, we will be stuck here forever, or at least another 10 years. A sad reality started creeping up my spine. The reality was that IF we could even somehow come up with the amount we were short, we’d be sacrificing the quality of life for the child we already have. Not to mention our own.
I knew all of this for a long time, in theory. My husband continually told me we cannot do this, that it would ruin us. I kept telling him it would work out somehow. Love conquers all! Except debt, sagging roofs, bad neighbors and high interest rates, of course.
I fought it, even though I knew it was true. This could NOT be happening, again. How many times have we started and stopped? This baby was already alive and waiting for us. Our dossier is already over there. We’ve already spent $4k. I’ve started painting the room. We’ve told Bek over and over about ‘when your baby brother or sister gets here’. But I knew it. Knew it not only wasn’t meant to be, but that it couldn’t be.
All this paints the picture that we are hobos living in a one room shack! We are normal “middle class” people. We have a nice-ish house in a city with an excellent school system. We can afford some nice things, have a savings and 401k and a college account for Bek, take vacations (frugally of course), we love good food and prefer French reds. *Sigh*.
Like any loss or death, this was the denial stage. Next was anger. Fuming Blazing Raging anger, that apparently only the wealthy can adopt more than one child! That we are kind good spiritual people ready to open our hearts and homes to one of the world’s orphans, someone neglected in an institution on the other side of the ocean without a mommy or daddy….if only we were in the right tax bracket. Why of all the nice people in our city, which I otherwise really enjoy, did these losers have to move right next to us!? C’mon, it’s wood and tar, why does a new roof have to be so flipping expensive?! Oh yea, I was pissed. About everything.
Then we were told that because many families were turning down referrals due to health issues, we might need to be prepared to take a third trip to select a child. With Russia’s internal foster program going strong, many of the children left available for adoption were not the healthiest. This all really knocked it out of the ballpark, there was no way we could do this. The additional airfare and lodging would put the total cost somewhere around 50k. In a way, this was good for me, because seriously, that is just too much for us.
AAaand then came acceptance. Not only about the financial part, but that I had some other certain nagging feelings in the back of my mind all along. Health of the children, political issues (during this time there was another terrorist attack on the subway in Moscow). Then a few news stories broke about yet another nutjob American sending her adopted Russian son back to Moscow on a plane by himself. Rumor started circulating that Russian adoptions would stop, or at least put on hold temporarily. I don’t think this has happened yet. For all the families waiting I pray that they don’t shut it down, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they did.
Then, in a routine thyroid exam, a lump was discovered on my thyroid. I am going for an ultrasound today, and it will likely (hopefully) be benign. Even if it is malignant, it is very very treatable form of cancer.
It all added up to this just not happening for us. When I look at all that was stacked against us, I’m pretty sure the universe, God, whoever, kept trying to send me a message. I kept not hearing the message until I practically had to get hit on the head with it.
I am NOT giving up though. I have already begun researching other options (hhhmm Korea maybe?). But for right now, our goal is to sell our house, focus on Bek, and my health.
I love the cathartic therapeutic outlet of this blog though, and will continue to post about parenting, adoption, cooking, life in general. Thanks for reading up until now, and stay with me if you like!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Homestudy Update

Our homestudy is being updated. Even though in Ohio it is good for two years, in Russia, like a bag of frozen peas, it goes bad after one year. I have a funny mental image of them sniffing our stack of paperwork there on the other side of the world…. “eewwww. Da, eet’s expired!”.
It is pretty painless. The social worker makes a one page addendum saying there have been no changes to our home life, employment, financial status, etc. We are however, making one very important change. In the sections where it reads gender request…we are officially changing it from “GIRL” to “OPEN TO EITHER GENDER”. Since so many families request GIRL…this most likely means that I will be the mommy to another sweet LITTLE BOY!!
Maybe it’s because it’s what I know, or maybe it’s just because boys are so stinking cute, but this thought makes me very happy! And to give Bek a brother, well that’s just very cool. What boy doesn’t want a brother, in both his younger and older years?? And I already have all the boy stuff, so I already feel so prepared.
This is not a definite of course, and it’s not to say that a sweet baby girl would not make me equally thrilled. If that is what Fate and God brings us, then so be it!
Because I can already see some question marks forming above certain heads out there …
“So when will you know?”
since we are traveling “blind” to Moscow, we will not know until we get there.
“When will you go?”
We’re told June/July.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Baby Signs

For those of you who've adopted before, or even those of you who've traveled to a foreign country (and you didn't speak the language)...you know that lost, confused, frustrated feeling of not being able to understand what the ach ee double hockey stick anyone is saying. I think this is how our newly adopted children must feel. And what do we usually resort to in these incommunicado situations? Charades! Aka sign language. It's a universal form of communicating.
Our new little ones have only heard Russian. The rolls of the tongue and cadence and pace are all different. We are already pulling them away from everything they've ever known, and then we are speaking a crazy sounding new language to them! Granted, they are very resilient intelligent little things and seem to take to new language incredibly well...but for us it was helpful for us to bridge and ease this transition with sign language. Bek at 11 months old, babbled a bit and copied a few small words. He seemed to understand what we were saying, although I know that's not really possible. I started sign language with him almost immediately when we got home, and the results were amazing! He took to it right away, and seemed happy & relieved to be able to convey some things to me. I could see his little baby brain working; "ok, those gibberish things you're saying to me, i gotta tell you they don't really make sense, and it sure as shashlyk doesn't sound like what they were saying to me back in Uralsk. but these things you are doing with your hands? that makes sense! i can do that! I'm hungry! see? i'm putting my hand up and down on my belly. and you bring me food...i love it!"
So..we will definitely be doing sign language again with this one. For anyone who hasn't done it and wants to try, it's easy. When you talk to your baby, make the sign along with the word. Repeat the word with the sign. "do you want something to eat?" (put your hands to your mouth as you say it). Bring the food and say "ok, here's something to eat", and put your hands to your mouth again. They get it really quickly and will even start making up their own.
Baby Signs is a great book but you only need a dozen or so of the signs and there are some free charts online like this one: http://www.signwithme.com/images/SWM_cheat_sheet.jpg

Give it a whirl, it's fun!

Monday, March 8, 2010

D-I-Y - Dang It, You!

So I started the day with plans to start painting the baby's room. I was motivated! inspired! Well-rested!
Bek woke up late, I let him sleep in til the last possible minute because Brad put him to bed late. They have testing all week so he needs his rest, it's incredible what they ask of 1st graders nowadays. So, our morning was a little rushed, a little chaotic. Ok, hurry up, finish your toast! Run upstairs and get dressed, brush your teeth while you're up there! Gulpgulpgulp, chug some coffee (me, not Bek). Grab lunch, backpack, hop in the car, make it to school just in time for the brrring of the 1st bell at 8:45.
Home again, it's quiet and calm now, I can roll up my sleeves and get to it. But, I really need more coffee first. I check my email, a few blogs, drink some coffee, make half an english muffin with one egg and half a slice of jalepeno cheese. More coffee...definitely getting there now. Off to Sherwin Williams I go!
I stand staring at shades of orange with names like kumquat, copper wire, tango, papaya. I stand there a long time looking at these colors, holding it in different lights at different angles. I like Kumquat, but am worried it will be too dark. Exciting Orange is the same tone, but one shade lighter...but it's almost too light. I don't want circus peanuts, I want warm tangerines. I ask if they can go somewhere in between, they say yes. Sweet.
Home again now. Change into loungy pants and sweatshirt that already has paint on it from kitchen re-do. Get old blanket for drop cloth, paint tray, paint roller & spare towel for drips. Turn radio on alternative rock station. I'm ready! Lay out the blanket against the wall. Straighten up room and pull existing furniture to center. The tall cabinet w/ all our towels in it, I gotta tell you it's heavy. I move it as far as I can and decide I can just maneuver around it. Ok, let's pour the paint. Oh man, I forgot a flathead screwdriver to open the paint! Back down the stairs of our 99 year old house, down to the basement, which is 4 sets of stairs. Grab screwdriver. You know, I really should put some laundry in while I'm down here. Set screwdriver down. Load laundry, back up with the screwdriver. Pop open the lid, it's beautiful! Bright and happy and verging on the color of circus peanuts, but I'm still good with it. Where's my stir stick? Dang it, I forgot the stir stick. Back down...to basement. Phone rings. It's my mom calling from my sister's down in Georgia. We have a conversation about unnecessary souvenirs, and how overnight guests, like fish, start to smell after 3 days and that it's time for them to come home. I wrap it up with her and hang up. Ok, re-focus. Where was I? Oh yeah, painting, stir stick. Back up I go, stir stick in hand. I stir, I pour, I load up my roller and...it's lovely! I got nearly a wall and and a half done, and it's a beautiful color. Strangely though, I did find myself craving those chewy marshmallow like circus peanuts! But combined with some other colors, say brown, khaki and red, it's going to look great. That's about as far as I got though, because by now it was after noon and I was starving and losing my painting steam.
Annoyances aside, I found myself happy and enjoying the process. I was painting THE BABY'S ROOM! You know, that baby, that is already born and alive, in Moscow, waiting for us. I tried to send a telepathic message of love, to let him/her know we were getting ready and would be there soon.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Friend Food

Did you ever discover or re-discover a food and suddenly you think about it all the time, the things you could make with it, what else it would be good with, how many different ways you could eat it? I know this sounds a little bit like obsession, and by some standards it might be or mark me as an "emotional eater", but I just KNOW there must be fellow foodies out there who know what I'm talkin about!
My recent obsession is smoked gouda cheese. It's smoke-y (well, duuhh), so when used in certain dishes it adds a whole other layer, it melts fairly well, AND it's relatively inexpensive. Right now, as I type, with my 3 fingers on each hand so as to not completely grease up my keyboard, I am enjoying a Smoked Gouda Grilled Cheese with Sweet & Tangy spread. If you, like me, are a lover of all things between bread and grilled with cheese, please, try the following concoction:
Sweet/Tangy Spread:
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
mix, taste & adjust to your sweet/tangy desire
Rye Bread
Smoked Gouda Cheese
Red onion, raw, thinly sliced
Tomato, raw slices or sun dried
Baby spinach, arugula, chopped romaine, any sort of green for vegetal goodness/texture
Lay two slices out on a plate, spread each side w/ sauce. Lay 4-5 slices of smoked gouda, about a 1/4 inch slice.
Layer rest of ingredients on top. Sprinkle w/ s&p. Heat large pan, drizzle 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil, use a spatula and spread the oil around, put both slices in, grill for 2 mins or so, put the slices together. Enjoy w/ homemade fries or your favorite potato chips. Yuuummmm. Something about the combination of the smokiness, the soury maltness of the rye bread, the hint of sweetness int he sauce and the twang of the onion make me very happy.
Try it and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I've made a small dent in The Baby Room Project. Plastic bins have been filled, stray chochkies have been sent to the garage sale pile, and useless random items I haven't used in the last year have been pitched. What a great cleansing feeling!
After I've had my morning fill of online time and coffee I will be heading up to get back to it. I've been perusing a few different sites this morning for inspiration. I have a vintage Chinese checker game board that sortof inspired me, it's orange/brown/red/mustard, in those muted vintage shades. I'd like to throw in a nature-y/bird/owl/tree thing. I hesitate to say "theme" as I don't want too much of any one thing. I think that is gender neutral and not overly annoying. I don't like an explosion of ducks or trucks or pink or blue and feel it needs to be equally aesthetically pleasing for everyone! And really let's face it, the baby could probably care less on the actual color scheme. Although Bek loved his clouds on the ceiling and the minute we put him in his crib he loved it. His face lit up and his expression said "wow, this is all really mine?"
So here's some random stuff I've been looking at. I love the decals you can get everywhere now and think a tree of some sort is in order. Target has this one and it's only like $15 or something:
love this one too:

land of nod has these great number flash cards that i think would make great art:

maybe hang the flashcards from a clothesline like this martha idea:
Ok...with that said: I am fully caffeinated and inspired. Off I go!