Sunday, November 25, 2007

Couch Potato

Well, it's official. One of my biggest fears has happened. I have become lazy again. You know that selfish, lazy existence that occurs when you can do what you want when you want? You wake up when you want. You lounge around watching tv when you want. You go to the bathroom when you want (without anyone watching). Well, that's where I am once again. I feel a little bad about lamenting my state. After all, I know a ton of very busy moms & dads that would kill for a day of selfish laziness. But lemme tell ya, the novelty wears off quickly. And I don't mean to say it's a bad thing either. I just know that it's temporary and will be tough to let go of again. Let me explain...

One of the most difficult transitions of motherhood for me was the loss of freedom. Before Lillian came into our lives, I would work all day then come home and flop on the couch. I awoke to the sound of the alarm clock and could choose to press snooze several times for "just five more minutes" of sleep. After becoming a mom, I soon realized that all of that changes. I mean I knew it in theory but reality was a totally different story.

I remember being soooooo tired one Sunday after a particularly grueling night of getting up with a teething child. When she awoke at her normal 6am, I was simultaneously impressed by her ability to wake up happy and full of energy despite a sleepless night for both of us and depressed that I too had to get up and start the day so early. Around 11am I was ready to drop. Every fiber of my being was screaming for a nap. My head felt like it was floating above my body. And yet, here was this happy little person just wanting to play so my nap would have to wait until her nap time.

I adjusted to this new world after time. I think it's like any change, a new normal settles in and pushes out any memories of what used to be. And beyond just accepting this new normal, I grew to love it. Yes, parenting is a 24 hour a day job. And yes, it can be exhausting. But every age came with new discoveries and new joy that made it worthwhile.

After Lillian passed away, we decided to remodel the house partially because it would keep our evenings busy. And I'm still trying to keep my evenings full with bible study or visiting with friends or trying out a new recipe. Anything to avoid settling into that laziness because once we have another child, the freedom that I've enjoyed yet again will be difficult to relinquish.

But it has happened. This new yet all too familiar normal has taken hold. How do I know? I've been wearing a pedometer to track my steps. On average I walk about 2,900 steps a day. A far cry from the recommended 10,000 but each day I make small changes to ramp that number up. That is until yesterday. A leisurely four day weekend culminated in the ultimate couch potato day where I logged a measly 373 steps. ::gasp:: How's that for lazy?

At this point, I need to learn to appreciate this little hiatus. Soon enough it will be but a faint memory and I'll be longing for a 373 step day. Because it's all too likely that I'll have many 373 step NIGHTS. So as much as I miss bath time and story time and rocking my dear baby to sleep, I will try to make the most of this short time. To not spend all my energy wishing for what was or what will be but just enjoying what is. As hard as that may be.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Crazy Pies

Faithful readers, forgive me. It has been 19 days since my last post. I wish I had some brilliant excuse. Like travelling to an exotic locale or accomplishing some heroic task at work. But sadly, I just haven't had much to say. Shocking, I know! Hopefully this extra-long post will make up for my absence.

As the lines in the grocery stores would indicate, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It's strange for me to celebrate a holiday that has been boiled down to devouring meat followed by watching football. Two things I rarely do. Scratch that, two things I NEVER do. But hey, I'm not one to complain about having four days off. Especially considering that until 2 years ago, most of my adult life was spent working on the day after Thanksgiving.

The infamous Black Friday. Just keep in mind that in order to facilitate the shopping orgy that you all enjoy so much, there are poor saps such as myself that have to climb out of bed at 4am to man a cash register or put away discarded try-ons or restock a shelf. So let's take a moment to salute those valiant retailers that sacrifice so much to satisfy our craving for a bargain. Now that I've made the switch to the wholesale side of our business, I am no longer a slave to Black Friday. For that, I am grateful. And I will show my gratitude by NOT stepping foot into a store on that fateful day. But in support of my livelihood which is still dependent upon your consumerism, I would encourage you to shop til you drop!

My family is soaking up the warmth of an Arizona Thanksgiving and Jeff's family is celebrating in their usual laid back style. So when our dear friend Cody invited us to join her family for Thanksgiving, we said "why not?". We met Cody around this time last year in Doernbecher where she works as a Chaplain. One of the many things we love about Cody is that she is a foodie. Listening to her describe preparing a laborious family recipe for lemon meringue pie was such a welcome distraction as we settled in to our hospital room for Thanksgiving last year. This year we are blessed to join forces in celebration of our mutual love of cooking. In fact, just last night we had a marathon pie making session. A few weeks earlier we did a test run at pie making and learned a lot. For example, if you want a top and bottom crust, you need to double the recipe. Freezing the dough for 15 minutes is not the same as refrigerating it for 30 minutes. You know, that kind of thing. With these valuable lessons in our arsenal, we were ready for battle. After four hours of pie making mayhem, we managed to make a pecan tart and caramel apple pie with streusel topping. I know it's an absurd amount of time to make just 2 pies but therein lies the fun.

I tackled the pecan tart while Cody began preparations for the apple pie. The recipes both called for a butter based crust to be made in a mixer. We watched Paula Deen make pie crust and she advised to do it by hand and not over work the dough. And in my book, what Paula says about butter and baking must be true.

Modification #1, no mixer for us!

My recipe said to make the dough, roll it out, press it into the tart form and then freeze. Cody's recipe said to make the dough, refrigerate and then roll it out. After cutting together the ingredients with a fork, I formed it into a ball with my hands. So far, so good. Then I rolled it out on a floured surface but the dough was so soft that it stuck to the counter and the rolling pin despite generous flouring.

Modification #2, form the dough back into a ball and press it into the tart form. Cody completed her dough, wrapped it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.

While I finished up the pecan pie, Jeff sliced the apples and Cody moved on to making the caramel sauce. Time was of the essence as we didn't want the apples to brown so we were moving quickly. The recipe called for water and sugar to boil rapidly until it turned amber. Five minutes later, we had not a beautiful amber lake of liquid sugar but a crystallized block.

Modification #3, let's not stir but swirl occasionally. Again, a crystallized block.

Modification #4, let's follow a different recipe and stir constantly with a different ratio of water & sugar. This recipe also called for butter, brown sugar, half-and-half, red wine and a vanilla bean. Cody miraculously had a vanilla bean and heavy cream in her car from earlier grocery shopping and Jeff was happy to crack open a bottle of wine so we thought we'd give it a try. Again, a crystallized block.

Modification #5, new recipe for caramel candy involving no water or white sugar. We halve the recipe and combine the ingredients into a saucepan. Then we notice that the recipe is supposed to take 45-60 minutes for the candy to come to hard ball state. Oh heck no. By now it's 9:30pm and we are not about to spend another hour getting this silly caramel to work.

Modification #6, follow a similar caramel sauce recipe by adding cornstarch and water, bringing to a boil and simmering for 2 minutes to thicken. We don't have any cornstarch?! You've got to be kidding.

Modification #7, use kuzu root in place of cornstarch. It's a relatively flavorless organic thickener which should work just like cornstarch. After simmering for a couple minutes, it still looks a little thin.

Modification #8, we keep it on the heat a bit longer. Looking good, now for the vanilla.

Modification #9, the recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla but we had already split and scraped the vanilla bean so in it goes. It's a little clumpy but a good whisking takes care of that.

Cody moves on to rolling out the dough. I give the caramel a few more minutes to thicken and then pour it over the apples. It smells delicious, that's a good sign. We each try an apple. Mmmmm, heaven. Cody masterfully rolls the dough and places it into the pie plate. We pour in the caramel apples.

"Shoot, we still need to make the streusel topping," I said.
"I already made it," Cody smiled triumphantly.
God bless her.

I retrieve the streusel from the fridge and we sprinkle it on top. Cody's not sure she likes the streusel recipe of butter, sugar, flour and spices. "Shouldn't it have oatmeal in it?" she asks. Oh well, we throw it in the oven as is. An hour later our second masterpiece is complete. By now it's 11pm and even though I think it could use another couple minutes to brown up, we pull it out anyway.

Cody had to go after the pie went in the oven so I sent her a picture of it today. She wrote back that she still thinks the streusel needs oatmeal. I just happen to have an oatmeal streusel type mixture in the fridge left over from a bar cookie recipe I made the night before.

Modification #10, tomorrow we're going to sprinkle some of the oatmeal mixture on the pie, bake for another 10 minutes to re-heat and brown the topping.

Phew, that is a lot of modifications! Typically a failed recipe would really irritate me. I would be impatient and frustrated and grumpy. But going through this with a friend made it fun. We agreed that the "do-overs" made for comic relief. And bouncing ideas off each other for variances to the recipe made these pies more personal.

So let's see, among many other things, this year I'm thankful for...

  • ...not working on Black Friday.
  • ...those who shop on Black Friday.
  • ...foodies.
  • ...dear friends.
  • ...a husband who does the dishes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Waiting Families

I pictured the waiting families gathering a little something like this...

Several nervous couples lounging on the floor on over sized pillows gazing up at me in reverent silence as I expounded the virtues of open adoption. They would all be novices in this voyage but I would be their anchor. No, their lighthouse. Yes, a lighthouse stoically illuminating their path through the hazy waters. I would be that voice of experience that would calm their fears. We would build lifelong friendships out of this common journey to parenthood. And I...I would be the founder of this tight knit group.

Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech. Hi Reality, good to see you! Who invited you to the party?

I'm not sure why I thought we would be the only second timers in the crowd. Or why our experience would be relevant to the pre-selected topics of last minute placements and entrustment ceremonies. We had neither.

Let me remind you that we did not attend these gatherings during our last adoption process. But we thought we'd give it a shot this time. Part of the reason we attended was to be a reference tool for the other families. My other hope was that these discussions would calm my escalating anxiety.

We arrived at the host's home to discover that they had adopted a son in September of 2004, just one month before Lillian was born. Then in walked another mom with her three year old. We recognized her from the adoption seminar we both attended in January of 2004. Rounding out our little gathering was a couple soon to be in pool and three couples who joined the pool around the same time as we did.

Suddenly the pool seemed a whole lot more crowded. These are all eager, bright, loving couples who want the same thing as we do.

The host family casually mentioned that had been in the pool for a year. Pause here for my blood curdling scream: AAAAHHHH! I told Jeff that I would have to video conference into the waiting families gathering a year from now...from the funny farm. I will be mentally unstable if I wait a year. Did I mention...AAAAHHHHH! So much for calming my escalating anxiety.

The discussion began with the counselor asking if any of us had experienced a last minute placement. One mom told us about adopting a four-month old in a last minute placement. They were kayaking in the San Juan's when they got the call. The met the birthfamily on July 4th and were told to return the next day ready to take home their little girl. They didn't have a car seat. They only had infant clothes. They had formula but this child was allergic to dairy. She said they ran to the only store open at 8:30pm on the 4th of July and frantically grabbed other mothers in the aisles to ask what size a 4-month old would wear. After the counselor commented that many people get the call while taking a "last vacation," I suggested that we all go kayaking this weekend.

The families had many questions about the logistics of a last minute placement. How does the birthmother select an adoptive family? Do you go through mediation I & II? Are there ever disruptions in a last minute placement? How does insurance work? We sat and listened and picked up a couple of new pieces of information.

Then the conversation turned to entrustment ceremonies. These take a variety of forms but are generally the expression of both the adoptive and birth families' feelings prior to departing the hospital. The counselor said that almost every family has some sort of entrustment ceremony. (Huh, we didn't have an entrustment ceremony. Lillian's birthmom didn't think we needed something formal and we agreed.) Then the counselor remarked that these ceremonies are a very important part of the process. (We certainly didn't feel like anything was missing in our adoption process.) After she went on for some time about the value of being able to tell the child about this important ceremony, something in my head snapped. How dare she assert that those of us who did not conduct some tear filled gesture would not be able to tell our child how loved they are by their family. So I piped up and boldly remarked that we did not have an entrustment ceremony and didn't feel like we missed out on anything. The counselor asked how we left each other at the hospital. I told her that we took pictures together in the lobby, hugged everyone, promised to call once we got home, got in our cars and left. She just kind of smiled sadly and continued on about the importance of this exchange of emotions. The guy sitting next to me whispered conspiratorially that he didn't want to have a ceremony. Oh well, even if the counselor didn't agree with our process, it was satisfying to the people involved which is more important. AND these waiting families were able to hear an alternative point of view. I guess our experience was a valuable contribution to the evening after all.

After an hour and a half, our gathering came to a close. We said our goodbyes and jumped in our cars without exchanging so much as an e-mail address. Guess we won't be lifelong friends.

On the way home I told Jeff that I didn't want to go to another one of these gatherings except for the fact that I offered to host the next one! Well, I can continue to hope that by the time January rolls around, we will no longer be a waiting family and I will be relieved of my hosting duties. I'm beginning to have my doubts but a girl can hope...and pray.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Call Us!

It's been 2 weeks and I'm getting really sick of talking to telemarketers. But "no call goes unanswered," that's our motto. Even if it reads out "1-800-Ask4Monee" on the caller id, we answer. (Apparently in my mind, telemarketers can't spell...or count to 7.) Which means I've had the distinct pleasure of talking to some very interesting people. Last night, after I told the guy for the third time that I was not going to give him any money, he hung up on me. The nerve! How dare he hang up on ME! Especially when I was about to hang up on him. I hate it when my ideas are stolen.


Okay, I'm getting a little anxious. I know it's only been 2 weeks. And for the first 13 days, I was calm. Suddenly last night, the little switch in my brain flipped and I am on high alert. I think I'm even starting to imagine the phone ringing.

Next Tuesday we're going to attend the waiting families gathering through our agency. That way we can commiserate together...or whatever one does at these gatherings. I can only imagine the group reaction to a cell phone ringing in that meeting! I also offered to host one of these gatherings while secretly hoping that by the time they called on us to host we would no longer be a waiting family.

I'm plenty busy and there is much left to do on the house so it's not as though I sit around staring longingly at the phone. Calling the land line from my cell and my cell from the land line just to make sure they're working. Willing them to ring darn it, RING! Nope, none of that for me. I'm busy, busy, busy. I know God's timing is perfect so I will try to be patient. As you know, that is not my strong point so it will require great effort though. Ugh.

In the meanwhile, I am controlling...ahem, I mean influencing...what I can. Through a process of stalking that stops just short of a restraining order, I have managed to get our dear birthparent letter published on the website! Okay, it was just one little e-mail innocently inquiring as to whether they got all the requisite information for the posting. They confirmed that they got it. And the next day, voila! It's published. With that kind of marketing, I'm sure the phone will ring soon.



Friday, November 2, 2007

Dear Lori (Part 3)

Dear Lori,

What happens in the event that you get picked by more than one family? Do you get to adopt multiple babies?


Dear Lindsay,

No such luck. Unless this little baby happened to have requested a double instead of a single room, we have to wait a year between adoptions. In fact, our contract with the agency requires us to contact them if we get pregnant or adopt from another agency. They want adoptive parents to have dedicated time with their baby and birthfamily before jumping into the process again.

Funny enough, if you had asked me that question last time, I wouldn't have known the answer. I never thought to ask! This time we asked whether we could adopt from two birthfamilies at once. We're not getting any younger and as naive as this might sound, I think it would be easier to have twins than babies a year apart. At least with twins they are at the same developmental milestones. (I'm sure parents of multiples are getting a good chuckle out of my innocence.)

Most families in the pool are willing to adopt twins and we are no exception. The instances of twin adoptions are fairly rare at our agency which is not surprising considering that in the US, the odds of conceiving twins without fertility drugs is 12 per 1000. Despite the odds, with our last adoption, a birthfamily expecting twin boys pulled our profile but did not select us.

If a birthparent pulls our profile, the agency continues to send out our letter but flags our name internally. This indicates that a counselor should contact the counselor of the birthparent who pulled our profile before sending further information to their birthparent. Make sense? I can't imagine how, even I'm confused! But suffice it to say that the agency has ways of ensuring that the process is not overwhelming and that birthfamilies aren't fighting over us. Hey, it could happen...

Thanks for the question!

The Backseat Experiment

I've recently realized that the backseat of my car is a window into my life. A week ago, it was a chaotic mess filled with random stuff. And I felt chaotic and messy and random. Today, this is what it looks like:

A bit more orderly with a quilt conveniently hiding the desperate need of vacuuming. Here's an inventory of the stuff:

  • A bible - Easy to grab for church on Saturday night or bible study on Tuesday night, I keep this bible in it's grey wool cover in the car
  • Grout - I need to grout between the tile and transition pieces in our hallway
  • A sympathy card - Another sweet cancer kid went to be with Jesus last week (Labri)
  • Diapers, formula, baby wipes - I'm ready for the call!!!
  • Washcloths - Restocking the new bathroom

That's a pretty accurate summary of my life right now! I'm curious if I am (as usual) an anomaly or if this phenomenon is the same for other people. So indulge me as I conduct an informal survey aptly titled "The Backseat Experiment." There is only one question in this survey and there are no wrong answers. Tell me...what's in your backseat?

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