Tag Archives: adoption

Resolution Update, a little late

Here’s the June-ish update.

  1. Reduce overall monthly expenses by 10%.  We don’t qualify for Making Home Affordable, so now we’re looking at a standard refi.  I should know more this week.    We’re generally doing okay on this, but I’m still trying to tighten up a little more.
  2. Move forward with our adoption. As you know, Daniel is here!  For the next six months, we will have monthly visits with his social worker and our social worker and will likely legalize the adoption next spring.  We are settling in pretty well.  Daniel seems to be getting attached to us, we’re improving at managing three kids at once (luckily, they rarely all need me simultaneously) and Madeline and Daniel behave just as you would expect siblings to– that is, they are best friends one moment, wrestling like baby bears the next and tattling on each other the next (“Daniel took my bucket!  Madeline touched me!”)
  3. Make more things from scratch. I am slacking here.  I bought bread.  Purchased bread does, however, make a much better peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  It has been sooooo hot in our area that I haven’t had the motivation to turn on the oven.
  4. Landscape. Need more woodchips.  Front yard looks better since the removal of overgrown bushes.  Picture soon.
  5. Reduce our paper towel habit. The greatest evidence of our success is John’s recent statement, “You know, I don’t even miss paper towels.” 

And, dear readers (all 11 of you), we still want to go viral.  Admittedly, this particular post is more for Mr. AFT’s and my benefit, but if you know someone who might appreciate my pith (perhaps another exhausted parent of 3 under 5?), please forward!  Since we’ve pretty well succeeded on #5,  I may have to add a new goal– PUBLISH.



k and the AFTHOTW crew


Daniel is Here!

Look at that face!  I assure you that he was laughing as I took this picture, because that’s what he does most of the time.

Daniel came to live with us full-time as of June 17.  We did back-and-forth transition visits for the week prior to that.  Now, we’re settling into our new normal, just like after I had Charlotte.  No raging hormones for me this time, but maybe that’s why I’m so tired.  Or maybe it’s having three kids under 5.  Just sayin’.

Daniel picked us on February 27, walking right up to John at an adoption event and asking for juice.  Our social worker said that he wasn’t the right little boy for us.  Daniel’s social worker wanted him to be the youngest child in a family.  John and I thought we were going for siblings, a little bit older. . . but Daniel is our boy.  I have great satisfaction in my soul when they are all playing together or when M and D are singing in the car or when they are all asleep in their beds or when Daniel pats my face before he falls asleep.

I’m not saying that having three little dudes is easy.  But it has its perks, too.

M and C are thrilled.  Well, M is.  C is reserving judgement until she can speak, but she seems to think Daniel is mighty swell.

The brain trust hard at work at HQ

Do you know how hard it is to get all four of them looking at the camera?

And this one, because M is so pretty. . .

. . when she’s not covered in mud.

More soon– two more days of work and then I’m all yours, all summer long. . . .

Evolving and resolving

Someone recently told me that no one cares about my paper towel usage.  I’m fine with that.  If you are reading this, great.  If you don’t want to know about my paper towel usage (which, by the way, has been drastically reduced since John is now on the bandwagon), skip that part (and any other parts that don’t interest you.)  If you are just here for the pictures (none today), click on the tag in the cloud that says “photos”.

I haven’t been posting recently.  I’ve been putting all of my time and attention into working full time and being a mom and a wife.  By necessity, other things have been falling by the wayside.  But LOTS of things have happened.  I could write eleven-teen posts about it all.  I’ll start with this one.

A while back I blogged about all of the “stuff” I had going on right now. Some of it is no longer an issue.  We’ll go down the list.

Two dogs– not any more.  Jack left us May 24, after 17 or 18 years.  He died lying in the sun in his backyard, which he loved.  He was an old boy and a good boy, my longest successful adult relationship and arguably, the reason I am sane.  Jack and I lived through a lot together and I only hope that he knew on some level how much he was loved.  Holly is still with us, seemingly unphased by her new status as an only dog.

Housemate.  Shawn moved out.  I already blogged about this.

My sister-in-law, sadly, passed away last week.  She had breast cancer, one of the most beat-able cancers.  Unfortunately, Ann never really responded to treatment and the cancer spread to her liver, lymph nodes and brain.  She leaves her devastated husband (still in remission from prostate cancer), two in-denial kids and a stepdaughter who is now the de facto maternal figure down there.  I’m grateful that Ann is no longer in pain but consumed with worry about her husband and kids.  More on this another day.  Shanti shanti shanti.

Our adoption.  Closer and closer!  Things are happening. There are people that I want to talk to in person who may or may not be reading this blog, so this update will have to wait.

My jobless brother got what amounts to close to his dream job– working for the US Tennis Association in some high up executive capacity. 

Stayed tune for upcoming posts with monthly resolution updates (super duper two-month edition), the return of Food Waste Friday (the accountability does help), Menu Planning Monday (but we’re eating the same things over and over, so the plans are boring) antics of the goobies and all the other fantasticness you’ve come to expect from all of us here at AFTHOTW HQ.

If It’s Thursday, I Must Be Tired

Something bizarre is happening.  As Charlotte sleeps longer and longer at night (she’s pretty much got the swing of sleeping through the night now), I get more tired.  It must be that the hormones that allow the moms of newborns to survive on a cumulative total of six hours of sleep a week have dissipated.

Then, on top of that, Thursdays are long days here at AFTHOTW HQ.  John is at school until 7:30 and we try to eat dinner as a family upon his return.  Every other night of the week, we’re deep into the getting ready for bed mindset by that time.  On Thursdays, I try to hold Madeline off so that John can see her and we all eat together.  She’s usually a trooper about this, albeit a trooper with a little shorter fuse than usual.  Tonight, she hung in there pretty well and then after dinner, she wanted to retrieve her “heart box” (a decorated shoe box that she used at school for her valentine mail box) from the playroom. So she and John went upstairs and examined every card, every conversation heart, every sticker.  It was a mush-inducing father-daughter moment, but it meant that she wasn’t jammied-up until 8:20.  Then snuggles, a bit of a movie and we all fell asleep by 9.

I woke up 20 minutes ago.  It’s officially Friday, but in my mind it’s still Thursday. I committed to posting on Thursdays, so I’m now typing in the middle of the night when both of my kids are sleeping (therefore, I should be sleeping too!)  See my dedication?

And I emptied and reloaded the dishwasher.  I don’t really do the FlyLady thing (detail– click here) but I prefer going to bed with a clean sink.

So now, dear multitudes of readers, some updates.

Our original social worker, the one who taught our parenting class, will be doing our home study. This is good, because she likes us, but disheartening because it means that the first visit isn’t actually set. We now have to wait for her to contact us to arrange a time.  Since I am not particularly patient about such things, guess who is getting a call on Friday (the real Friday, not this middle-of-the-night, might-as-well-be-Thursday-still craziness)?

Sometimes, folks express to us that we are doing such a “good thing” by opening our home to adopt and how lucky our future adopted child will be.  This point of view is incomplete.  John and I feel that our family is not yet complete, that our boys are waiting for us out there and that they will bring as much to our family as we give to them.  Just wanted to clarify.

As per my meal plan, I made El Helper de Hambuergesa and while it was good, it wasn’t particularly Mexican.  This could be because I improvised. When I opened my jar of salsa, I found a fascinating layer of fuzzy white mold so I used extra tomato sauce, added onions, cilantro, peppers, and cumin.  I also threw in spinach, because I’m like that and I try to add in green vegetables wherever I can.

It’s still really Thursday on the west coast and I’m still really tired.  Charlotte will be up in about 5 hours, which means in about 6 hours, I’ll be taking pics and posting for Food Waste Friday.  We have a big day planned– lunch with my mother and grandmother, and then I’m getting my haircut by the one and only fabulous Jeff, who can do anything to anyone’s hair and make them look amazing. I’ve looked forward to this for months. I’ve got to go to bed.

Have a great day/night/sleep. . .

One Day Closer

There is action on the adoption front!  Admittedly, a small, small , teeny-tiny step, but we’re still excited.

A social worker is coming to do a pre-home study visit in one week.

From what I understand, the purpose of the visit is to make sure that our home is physically safe for a small child.  Sufficient fire exits and hand rails, no exposed live wires, decorative sword collection under lock and key, no bags of broken glass strewn about. Our home is pretty child safe at this point– you know, since two small children live here– but now we are going through the house with an eye to overkill and putting child locks on every cabinet. I’m stopping short of bolting the furniture to the walls.

What I really want to do is make sure Thor’s room is ready.  (“Thor” is our stand-in name for our pre-adoptive child.)  I need to clear out the closet, put away John’s books, make it more little boy friendly.  We’ll paint once we are matched.

As exciting as this is, I am nervous.  Every small step makes this course of action that much more real.  It’s not that I am having second thoughts (although it seems most everyone is expecting me to,) but we are now moving from the theoretical to the actual.  Part of our reason for adopting is that we feel God is calling us to open our home. Admitting to the call of God is just not something in keeping with who I thought I always was. Not to mention that people who hear and obey God’s call often end up sounding like unhinged fanatics.

One day closer to answering God’s call. One day closer to fanaticism? I hope not.

Resolution Update

Since I actually do want to make progress on my resolutions this year, revisiting them seems prudent (and I saw another blog on this, so the onus of originality is erased.)  I originally said that I would revisit quarterly, but more frequent check-ins mean a greater likelihood of doing these things.

  1. Reduce overall monthly expenses by 10%. I didn’t do too badly here.  I was concentrating on reducing my grocery bill by 10% this month (which means keeping my monthly outlay to $405, including diapers and dog food.)  The final total for the month of January was $399.76.  However, some of our spending was taken up by a Costco gift card we got for Christmas.  We didn’t buy too much food with it, but we did buy diapers and dog food.  Also, my mom bought diapers while she was here (she enjoys going to our local grocery store– don’t ask me why!)  Next, we attack the utility bills (gas, electric, water, cable.)
  2. Move forward with our adoption.  Progress was okay on this goal.  We finally got in touch with someone at DCF.  We refiled preliminary paperwork (six months ago, when we originally filed, no one mentioned that it was only good for six months.)  We are now waiting to find out who our case worker will be. Not sure why that part is so difficult.
  3. Make more things from scratch. Not bad, not bad at all. In the last week alone, I’ve made bread, cornbread, chocolate cake, pizza and coffee cake. The real trick will be when I return to work (preliminary date is March 3.)
  4. Landscape. It’s winter.  The best I can do is to clear away the dog “gifts” as the snow melts.  And I have done that.
  5. Reduce our paper towel habit. Getting better!  I’ve put out a basket filled with face cloths and rags and a roll of paper towels.

And I think I found high quality, very affordable child care around the corner from school!  The one catch is that the owner speaks about as much English as I speak Spanish.  Right now, I am trying desperately to confirm the girls’ places and make an appointment to fill out paperwork.  I do better in Spanish in person.  Maybe I will just stop in.

The Adoption Option

John and I are not deliberators.  We decide what we are going to do and then go ahead and do it.  This is how we ended up married 29 days after our first date.  As I’ve mentioned before, we decided last year to grow our family by adoption through the Department of Children and Families.  We took their training class, MAPP, last spring.  The next step would have been to start our home study but DCF staffers felt very strongly that we needed to wait until after Charlotte’s birth for our home study.  The articulated reason was that Charlotte is part of our family so she would have to be part of the home study.  The subtext was that once we had two biological children under 3, our enthusiasm to adopt an older child– or any child– would wane.  This attitude is not exclusive to DCF, but more about my mother’s attitude later.

Since Charlotte is now here, I’ve updated our family questionnaire and sent it to the MAPP facilitator and social worker, Ida.  I’ve called Ida.  I haven’t heard back from Ida.   We’re frustrated.  There are children in need of forever homes and we are ready to step up.  We have the resources and the desire, but we can’t move forward until someone from DCF works with us.

In the meantime, shortly after Charlotte’s birth, my wonderful friend Brad (aka “Uncle Fabulous”) sent me the online profile of a waiting child, Joe.  Joe is 9 and his profile stated that he had a younger brother who could potentially be placed with him at a later date.   Brad and his partner, Stephen (“Auntie Fabulous”) have recently finalized their adoption of David (“Baby Fabulous”) through DCF.  I filed away Joe’s info.

Because I hate to wait patiently and prefer to take action, I was surfing around on the waiting children website (www.mareinc.org) over New Year’s weekend.  Joe’s profile had disappeared.  I did find a profile for two little boys, Joseph and Christopher, who are hoping to be placed together.  I’m pretty sure that it’s the same Joe, now listed with his little brother.  Ida has advised us against siblings, saying that in her experience, placing siblings in a home where there are already biological siblings leads to a lifetime of war between the bio siblings and the adopted sibs.  But my heart still wants two and since I was just surfing around, I sent in a request for info on Joe and Chris.

This could all lead to nothing.  However, I talked to the boys’ worker, Pam, yesterday and found out more about them.  Pam didn’t seem to think that placing them into a family where there were already siblings should be an issue.  The issue is our (lack of ) homestudy– which we can’t make happen without cooperation from DCF.  But Pam did invite me to send in our family profile, which I did.  She is meeting with a potential, already home studied family for the kids, but she conceded that it might not come together with them.  I dont’ know if this is a standard caution or a genuine doubt on her part.  The important thing is for these boys to find the right forever home.  If it’s with us, fantastic.  If not, that’s ok too.  As long as they are placed and happy, that’s what matters.

(BTW, I’m typing this during an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse that is keeping M distracted.  It’s  coming to a rapid close.  TYPE FASTER!)

Yesterday was Chris’ fourth birthday.  Happy birthday, little guy.

Today we’ll wait for a callback from Ida or more info from Pam.  For distraction, we’ll be going to Petco to look at all of the fish and get new tags for Jack and Holly.

It’s 9:00 am, both kids are dressed, both beds are made, Charlotte is sleeping in her sling.  I’m still in my jammies (that is, the shirt I wore yesterday and my long johns) and the breakfast dishes are in the sink.  I stand a chance of getting out of the house by 10.  Piece of cake . . .

What I Can Handle

“God doesn’t send me anything I can’t handle, but sometimes I wish He didn’t trust me so much.”  I’ve seen this quote widely attributed to Mother Teresa, which I don’t quite believe because it sounds so secular and I always expect saints to sound more, you know, saintly.  Whoever first said it, I find myself repeating it when I feel overwhelmed- which is often.  I am kind of hard on myself, always have been.  Apparently my second grade teacher first brought this to my parents’ attention and my mother likes to remind me, still, more than 30 years later.

But sometimes I do feel overwhelmed.  I keep going, because there really isn’t another option.  When I have the opportunity to reflect in kind of a detached way, I think maybe I feel overwhelmed with cause.  Here’s a list of all of the stuff on my plate:

  • Newborn daughter
  • Very busy 2.5 year old
  • Husband (who is in graduate school) (My husband is a general great guy and a fantastic, helpful and involved father so this item is in no way an indictment.  He’s also my only blog follower at this point.  Hi HOG! 🙂 )
  • Two dogs
  • A fish
  • A housemate (who I’m not responsible for per se, but it is someone else living in my house)
  • The house (cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, vacuuming, baking– some of this is my preference,so I could make my life a little easier by not baking, but that’s breaking one of my resolutions)
  • My career (I’m on maternity leave now, but normally I teach high school English in a large urban district.  Teaching is an overwhelming job and more so in our particular environment)
  • My professional development (I want to get my PhD at some point)
  • My grandmother who just moved into a retirement complex about 45 minutes from here
  • My sister-in-law who has breast cancer
  • Her husband who has prostate cancer
  • Their son and daughter who understandably are feeling some fear and stress
  • Our upcoming adoption
  • Church and spiritual life
  • Maintaining our church website (we do this as a team, so it’s not all me)
  • My brother who is looking for a job and is very concerned about it
  • Same brother is also trying to adopt a child
  • Trying to maintain my own friendships
  • “Me time” – HA!  No, seriously, I know it’s important, nay vital so that I can support all of these other people and things.  But guess what often gets short shrift?

There’s very little of this that I don’t want (with the obvious exceptions) and in the actual moment of living it, I don’t think about the volume of stuff.  But when I think about it or talk about it, I suppose it is a lot and I have to give myself credit for handling it fairly well. 

I recently had a postpartum “tune up” with a psychiatrist who just does acute and postpartum appointments, not ongoing therapy.  She was really pleasant and competent of course, but as I told her about everything in my life, she kept gasping.  I figure that when the shrink is shocked, maybe it is pretty overwhelming.

Which brings me back to Mother Teresa (or whoever the pundit was.)  I can handle it.  Otherwise it wouldn’t be happening.

In other news. . .

In our quest to reduce monthly expenses by 10%, we just changed our phone plan and saved about $32 a month!  That’s almost half of our monthly home phone expense.

A group of my friends is on a New Year weight loss mission.  We worship Our Lady of the Clenched Ass (OLCA).  I’ve received a flurry of email detailing what everyone is eating and prayers to “Our Lady.”  I love these people!

Today’s recipe at thefrugalgirl– tortellini soup.  http://www.thefrugalgirl.com/  We’ll be having this next week.

More Resolutions

I make new year’s resolutions.  Hence, this blog.  Several of my resolutions have to do with money, since the economy is, shall we say, tenuous.  I owe much of my inspiration to the fabulous Kristen of www.thefrugalgirl.com (thanks Kristen!  My yogurt turned out great by the way!)  and Suze Orman.  Here’s the plan.

  1. Reduce overall monthly expenses by 10%   This is going to be tricky.  We made a lot of changes in 2009– reducing our cable package, trading down on John’s car, changing Madeline’s day care to a less expensive provider, changing our homeowner’s and auto insurance.  I’m not sure how much more there is to trim!  This year, we’ll be doubling our day care costs when I return to work (ouch. . .)  I wish I could stay home with my girls until September.  Maybe if I win the lottery or inherit a chunk of change from a distant, unknown relative.  In the meantime, I can focus on spending less on groceries. 
  2. Move forward with our adoption  Last year, John and I decided that we would adopt a child through DCF.  That decision warrants a whole post.  This is the year to make it happen.  We’ve already taken the required class (MAPP) and now we need to get out homestudy done.  DCF didn’t want to do the homestudy until after Charlotte was born and now that she’s a whopping six weeks old, it’s time to get moving.  If I had my way, our boys (we’ve been told we should look for a boy, since we have two girls and our worker says we should only adopt a single child, but I’m convinced we’re meant to have siblings– long parenthetical!  Sorry if it was confusing. . . )  Anyway, if I had my way, our as-yet-unidentified boys would move in tomorrow.
  3. Make more things from scratch  When things were really tight for us, I was making our own bread and pizza (admittedly with prefab crusts.)  I’ve gotten away from that and I want to refocus on homemade items in 2010.  I recently made yogurt for the first time (see above shout out to The Frugal Girl).  Bread is easy.  Homemade cookies are better than store-bought and dreadfully amusing to Mads.
  4. Landscape  We’ve lived in our house for almost five years and every year, I mean to replace the overgrown shrubs in the front yard.  Every year, I get as far as cutting them back dramatically and stop.  This is the year!  I might even go so far as to plant flowers.

My goal is to revisit this list quarterly and be accountable to you, dear gentle reader(s) (if there are any readers.)