Monday, July 31, 2006

It Can Really Happen!

Whew. What a day! And it’s not even really OUR’s somebody else’s day. In fact, it’s somebody we don’t even know, but we feel like we know them. I’ve been following The Naked Ovary for about six months now. Her ramblings and musings during her wait for her daughter in China have made me smile and grumble and laugh...and sob on many occasions. And, Lord, how this woman has waited. I can fully appreciate why she intends to blow-dry her hair and wear pointy shoes when she goes to China. After what she's been through, shit, she could wear a fekkin' tutu in China and I'd still give her the nod. I like her...even though I don’t know her.

And today she (finally) became a Mom. I didn’t run my errands today because I couldn’t leave the computer for that long (well, that, and I needed to take a two-hour nap). Me, and thousands of other women, were glued to their computers...waiting for Karen to become a Mom. It was surreal. Go check out her posts from today and pay attention to the number of comments she was getting with each one. Seriously, the world was watching. I was so anxious and excited I had something like a mongoose running around in my stomach. And then it happened. I swear there was an audible gasp, a universal gasp, when she finally posted... “WE HAVE A DAUGHTER!!!!”. We all held our breath while we read the details of Maya. And then the universe could finally breathe again.


So, it really happens. I mean, this is a big deal! Families really are made through this process, and arms that were once so heavy with emptiness, can now grow strong by carrying a child, their child...our child. This is huge!

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Uh, yea...duh...” But, you see, waiting for your baby through adoption is VERY different from being pregnant. When you’re pregnant, you’ve got a baby growing inside of you. You’ve got this thing, a bump, that you can rub, and sing to, and other people can point to, and it’s real. With adoption, you have a dream, you have a promise, a “contract” (and, actually, we're the only ones that have signed anything. Our agency and China have made no real obligations to us...gulp), and you have the stories and experiences of the families that have gone before you. This is VERY different from having the bump. And, because of that, it sometimes seems less...real. And that can be scary.

But it’s made a little less scary, and a little more tangible, when people like Karen, and all those other families that have gone before us, share their experiences with us. It helps us realize that it can happen. That there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That there is hope. That we will have a baby someday. And that maybe, just maybe, it might be safe to go out and buy Thor a little dress with flowers on it. Maybe....

So what’re you doing over here??? Go check out The Naked Ovary! Oh...and check out Sophie's video while you’re at it. Made me cry like a baby.... What a day.


Friday, July 28, 2006

Color Fuh-reak

I am a color fuh-reak. Did you know there are more shades of green than any other color? Well that’s what the paint store guy told me when I went in there for the third day in a row. When we painted our bedroom a couple of years ago I went through 17 shades of green before I picked the right one. Fortunately (or unfortunately – depending on your perspective), this paint store lets you rent quarts of paint before you're ready to commit. I would come home with my new shades and paint them on big pieces of paper then hang them on the bedroom wall so I could see how the colors changed with the light. It amazes me when people can just paint a room (or their house!) based on those tiny, little swatches. That’s so. not. fuh-reaky.

So, for the two of you that have visited this blog more than once, you may have noticed that I’ve been going through some color changes in the last couple of days. I was really happy with the first colors. Nice, earthy green background, bold print, etc. But then Floyd pointed out the links in the text were hard to see...ack!..., which led to a complete overhaul. During the overhaul I realized the colors were different, sometimes very different, depending on the computer. The nice earthy green on my laptop was an icky, dirty chartreuse on the desktop. Most (normal) people wouldn’t have really noticed (and certainly wouldn’t have cared)...but now I was obsessed. I quickly found out the nice antique white on one computer, was light pink on the on one was a weird salmon on the I’m really (color) fuh-reakin.

I learned a lot about myself this afternoon when I took a glimpse into the proverbial mirror and saw myself surrounded by, at one point, four computers (all with different interpretations of the colors). In the midst of the frenzy, I realized I had hit bottom. So, I took a deep breath, gave myself up to a higher power, and went with the white background (which still looks like light pink on one computer). If you liked me better with the earthy green background, well that’s fine, it was good times, but please respect my decision to go colorless. It’s better for me in the long run.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Baby? What Baby?

When you look around our house you’d have to be very perceptive to see evidence that a baby is going to come into our lives within the next year or so (heavy on the “or so”). I see the red folder sitting in the corner that holds all of our dossier material. That red folder was a very big part of my life for a few months there...and now, I can honestly say I haven’t looked at it in quite some time. There’s a few scattered books on Chinese history, a Chinese travel guide, some borrowed Chinese language tapes, and a couple of popular books on Chinese culture/lifestyles, etc...just enough to make someone think that we might be considering a trip to China at some point. There are a few books on international adoption, Chinese adoption and attachment issues, one of which I even keep on my bedside table, but a perceptive person would see the dust collecting on it. There’s no nursery, no baby clothes, no “What to Expect, The Toddler Years” or any other books on how to take care of a baby...nothing, nada, zip. It’s weird, and I’m pretty sure it means I’m going to be a terrible mother.

We spent the last two years totally focused on having a baby. I threw myself into the chase, not to the extent that some gals have, but it consumed me nonetheless. Then, when we decided to just adopt my days continued to be consumed by the chase, but this time it was the paper chase (I loved that show!). So, now, our dossier is sitting in China, I’ve got the books (and, yes, I’ve read some of them, thankyouverymuch) and...and...and, now what?

You see, we can’t decorate a nursery because we’re not “at home”, meaning we don’t live where we will be living when we bring Thor home (at least not by current predictions). Besides, I don’t even think I could bring myself to buy things like changing pads (despite sporting fabrics that I would design an entire room around) at this point, because I’m still only marginally convinced that we’re going to have a little Thor at the end of all this (but that sounds like another post to me). And I guess this is why I can’t even bring myself to buy the baby clothes that I’ve been drooling over for years now. WHY IS THAT?? (oh my, that would certainly qualify as a whine....yep, definitely a different post).

So, what’s this stage called? Adoption-limbo? Adoption oblivion? Sometimes it feels like that, but in some ways it feels like adoption nirvana (see, I am going to be a terrible mother). I mean, we’ve done our work, we’re (supposedly) going to have a little Thor come into our lives in the not-so-distant future (it’s all a matter of perspective), and now all we have to do is....wait? Hell, I can do that...on some days (nirvana days). On other days (the limbo/oblivion days) I scurry about, going to the waiting children sites, learning about different “special needs”, investigating adoption from other countries, scurry, scurry, scurry...because that’s what I’m used to doing. You can’t just SIT BACK and expect your baby to come to you???? You gotta go out there and GIT IT! scurry, scurry, scurry...

But then on other days, like today, I can just wait. I think it’s called faith. I don’t have much experience with it, but I think this is what faith feels like. It’s kind of like knowing you’ve done what you need to do and that somebody else is going to fulfill their part of the bargain. Faith is a nice, peaceful’s where the bluebirds of happiness* hang out.

So, with a little bit of faith, and a little bit of patience, maybe I can enjoy this next year (or so) of our lives. A little bit of travel (have I told you we’ve added Turkey to the list?) and maybe even a little bit of shopping for Thor (I’ll need a little more of that faith stuff first). Yea, that sounds nice. OR...maybe I’ll get my panties in a bunch and convince Floyd that we gotta go to Kazakhstan RIGHT NOW to git Thor. Maybe I should go get a Kazakhstan travel guide just in case....

*Bluebird of Happiness courtesy of Morgan Gleave (


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Totally Irish, Vol. 1

Totally Irish, Preface

Since we’ve been living here in Ireland I’ve been wanting to write about, in Ireland. Because it’s different here. Like really different. (when I say “different” I mean different from Oregon, USA because that’s where we're from) Before we moved over here we thought “how different can it be?” We’ve both traveled a bit, lived in a country where the language was foreign, and consider ourselves pretty open-minded, worldly we’ve experienced “different” and we just weren’t expecting much of it from this adventure. We were wrong. It’s difficult for me to explain the differences in one, succinct, little blog I’m not going to try. (Besides, I need stuff to write about.) Instead I think I’ll just write a little story every once in a while about something that I think is “Totally Irish”. Please know that I am not a Sociologist, Psychologist, Irish Historian or even very smart, so if I start throwing opinions (or even facts) around...well, take ‘em with a grain of salt. And I would welcome anybody that knows anything about what I’m writing about to comment...nicely, of course. So, here goes...

Totally Irish, Vol. I, Hurling

Hurling is totally Irish. There’s a few other folks that play games that look kind of like it but, whatever dude, it’s Irish. If you have a chance, treat yourself to the movie “The Wind That Shakes the Barley”. It’s a wonderful movie and there's an old-school game of hurling in the opening scene.

They say hurling is arguably the fastest team field sport...but I have no idea what this means. What I can tell you about this game is that there are loads of lads (15 per team) out on the pitch (that’s what the field is called) all carrying big sticks (hurleys) and whacking at a little ball about the size of a baseball (the sliotar, pronounced sli-her). They can kick the ball (usually a last-ditch effort), smack it with their hand (but not throw it), whack it with the hurly, or, my favorite, running down the field balancing/bouncing it on the end of the hurly....very cool. As you can imagine, it’s pretty dangerous, what with whacking the sticks and all, but helmets are optional and some lads choose not to wear them. I hear broken teeth are common. Oh, and the refs? They stand on either side of the end zone and wear lab coats. Lab coats?! It’s very scientific dontcha’ know.

So, Floyd and I went to our first hurling match this afternoon and it was a blow-out. The teams were playing up to the Christy Ring Cup and we were supporting our home team, the Lily Whites of County Kildare (Go Lilies!!), and they were completely shut down by the County Antrim Saffrons (I know, I know, but believe me, you would not walk up to these fellas and start picking on their team name). Final score was 2-21 to 0-06 (you figure it out).

You know how the Irish have this reputation of being fond of the drink. Well, there was no alcohol least not that we could see (other than the beers that we brought but didn’t drink because it was obviously not cool). It was very family-oriented. Loads of kiddies. Now I just can’t imagine going to a baseball game and not having a hot dog and a Bud. Sports and alcohol, man. They just go together. I seriously doubt that every hurling match is as sober as this one was...but it was interesting...and nice.

There was great team spirit without getting nasty. Nobody was bitchin’ at each other and nobody was bitchin’ at the refs. In fact, there was one obviously bad call and the fella in front of us turned around and said, very calmly, “Now that was an unusual call...” Unusual?! That’s a far cry from the American parent shrieking and foaming at the mouth at their kids’ soccer match. “Unusual” is probably not the word they’d be searching for.

Hurling has been around a very long time…there are some references to it all the way back to around 400 AD. It’s a common man’s game and it always has been. Even today, while being an Irish obsession, it’s still strictly amateur…meaning none of these lads gets paid. It is played purely for the fun and passion of the sport. When the game is over the lads go raise a pint together then go back to their regular jobs the next day. There is no glamour, no posse, no ‘tude. And because they’re playing for pride, and not money, they play honorably, which means they’re not out there whacking each other with those sticks. But pride also means they’re playing with all they got, so look out for that stick (remember the broken teeth?).

As this fella Tom Galvin wrote, “Hurling is a great game, not just because it is a great game by itself, but because it seems to illustrate the best of Irish culture -- its folksy character, its work-hard and play-hard virtues, and its community-based values.” Here here….

So after the match we came home and watched Tiger win the British Open and Floyd (Landis) take the yellow jersey in the Tour de France. USA #1!! Oh, wait....that was so. NOT. totally Irish.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Don't Worry Mom

We won’t be naming her Thor. Not that that’s a bad name. Floyd (darling husband’s nom de blog) was almost named Thor....seriously. You see, I wanted to pick a nom de blog for the little twinkle in our eyes. Something cute and pretty like Bunny, or Pumpkin (what Mom called me) or Jennifer Aniston. But then there were the....boy referrals (gasp). Yep, there were a few referrals last month of beautiful little baby parents that had not “requested” boys. It had the Chinese adoption community all a-twitter. So that got us thinking. What if little Jennifer Aniston turned out to be a boy? With that in mind I decided to butch it up a bit.

And, then, there’s the fact that we may be waiting a loooooong time and a lot can happen in that length of time. Importantly, I could get fed up with the wait and decide to go someplace else for our little angel. So, that leaves out the China-centric names, like Panda or Ladybug (ugh) or Little Empress (now, if you know me, you may know that I couldn’t go this route anyway).

But I think the biggest factor at play here is that I have a weird sense of humor. You see, I really like the whole God of Thunder thing. I mean, that’s what our little ray of light will be....right? All-powerful, smiting their enemies (with a keen wit instead of hammers of thunder, of course), and saving the planet...regardless of whether they’re a boy or girl, Asian or white, black or purple. (Although some Thors decide to forgoe the whole saving of the earth thing and just become Legendary Rock Warriors. That's their choice.)

Floyd’s still a little uncomfortable with the nom de blog, but he’s a scientist and prone to being pretty literal (as am I), but this is for fun. He wanted to know if this would be, like, a real would we call her this when we get her (or him)? Hmmmm....Maybe when she’s screaming at the top of her lungs in the midst of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (see below), I could gaze at her lovingly and say, "awwww.....are you my Thor, my little God of Thunder?" I mean, really, doesn’t it make you smile...just a little?

P.S. Please don’t tell me you can’t take your babies to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale...please.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Road to Thor

Part I. Dusty Eggs.

When the Reproductive Endocrinologist told us we had less than a 1% chance of conceiving our biological child we thought the world had caved in on us...for about two days...and then I just got ornery. My diagnosis was high FSH as a result of premature ovarian failure. Talk about a shit sandwich. This diagnosis doesn’t really leave one feeling like there’s a whole lot of options. I got it a few times from a couple of docs (because I was ornery) and each time they delivered it with a little cock of the head. You know, that look that attempts to indicate empathy. I think because of my advanced age (?! I was 37 at the time) we never found an RE that appeared to give a rip. Had we elected to proceed with high-tech (expensive) options that may have changed...but that’s just my bitter perspective.

After the diagnoses I consulted my good buddy Dr. Google (where you get what you pay for) and found that there was, indeed, LOADS of hope for my dusty ole eggs (heh). So began the regime...acupuncture, Chinese herbs, wheatgrass, temperature charting, loads of obscure supplements, sex on a schedule (hardly inspirational, my good friend calls it “gas station sex”...ding ding...fillerup!), cleansing fasts, special diets, and NO ALCOHOL (emmmm...excuse me?). In the meantime, I watched my friends get pregnant again, and again...sometimes accidentally.

Then we moved to Ireland. Oh. My. God. I have never, in my life, seen so many fekkin’ babies and pregnant women in one place. It really does live up to its reputation as a fecund nation. I tried to continue with the Eastern medicine regime, even going so far as to send digital pictures of my tongue to my Chinese doc back home (a means for diagnosis) and having monthly telephone conferences with her. We even upped the supplement intake to the point where we were each taking about 20-30 pills/day. Fun. We looked into going the high-tech/IVF route over here but I never really felt good about it. You know. Even though I watched my friends getting pregnant through IVF, the “gut check” just never revealed that warm-fuzzy feeling of hope. So I took some more wheatgrass.

Then winter set in. Now, Irish winters can be pretty damn dark and dismal...especially if you’ve lost all hope. There was just no light at all....and all of our friends and family were really really far away. But it was in this darkness that a little light appeared. We’ll call that little light....Thor, God of Thunder (or just Thor for short, I’ll explain the name in another post).

Part II. Sandwich Gone.

We had discussed adoption briefly when we were first handed the shit sandwich but the time just wasn’t right. I was too busy being ornery. But when I brought it up in the midst of the dark Irish winter (actually, I think we were in Scotland over Christmas) it was a pretty simple conversation.

Me: “Should we adopt?”
Floyd (that’s what we’ll call my darling husband): “Yea.”

Whew. It was just that easy. We always knew that it was the making of a family that was the most important thing for us and we were open to the different ways that can happen. Once we finally decided to adopt we felt like a huge weight had been lifted from our shoulders. The sun came out and we could, finally, FINALLY feel hope again. I think The Naked Ovary put it best when she wrote about adoption after infertility, “I never imagined that hope can have other soil.” (credit where credit’s due – that was the inspiration for my blog name. Read her post "The Mom Precipice" under Adopty when you get a chance.).

We pretty quickly decided on international adoption (for all sorts of reasons) and then chose China (for all sorts of reasons). I doggedly researched agencies. I worked off a list of agencies that work with Americans living abroad (there’s easily about 100 of them), made phone calls, reviewed their websites and mission statements (I was uncomfortable with the agencies that were heavy on religion), developed spreadsheets and did more gut checks. Once we picked our agency it started to feel pretty real.

So now the light of Thor was getting brighter...

Since I’m not working much over here I was able to kick some serious butt in getting our homestudy done and preparing our dossier (our paperwork). This whole process was made slightly more complicated and time-consuming by the distance from things like authenticated birth certificates, as well as our expat status, but, if you don’t spend too much time bitching about it, you just get it done. So we got our dossier over to China on May 22nd (DTC) and we were logged into the Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs (AKA God) on May 24th (our LID). And now we wait...and wait...and wait.

When we got started we thought the wait was going to be about 8-10 months but now they’re telling us the wait will be somewhere around 12-18 months (from LID). Jaysus. This puts our gestation period at somewhere between a sperm whale's and an Asian elephant's. Needless to say, this is a serious bummer. I’m trying not to bum out about it too much. Downside? It’s not the way we planned it (stomp my foot). We wanted to have this time in Ireland to make our family. Upside? Instead of starting a family while we’re over here we’re going to take the opportunity to travel. And travel we will. Scottish Highlands in early August, London-Paris in late August, Croatia in September, the south of France in October and Prague-Budapest in late October. But all this travel is just not distracting enough....I still think about ways to decrease the wait...but I’ll save that for another post.

So, we’ve gone from eating the big shit sandwich to feeling like we’re the luckiest folks in the world...because we have Thor to look forward to. Isn’t life funny?


Tuesday, July 18, 2006


This is where we live. It’s not really called Ballyknockmilliedoon but that’s pretty close. My husband and I are the luckiest people in the world (don’t worry if you think you’re luckier – we won’t argue with you). We’re living in Ireland for a couple of years and we live in a 200-year-old stone cottage at the end of the road. Well, it’s not really the “end” of the road, but it turns to gravel after our place.

It’s a big ‘ole estate with cows, horses, wheat fields, pheasants, badgers and hedgehogs (yep, hedgehogs). There’s even a river, from which I caught my first ever brown trout. Our closest (human) neighbors are the owners of the place and they’re about a 10-minute walk away. The estate is bounded by an old stone wall and there’s a big, iron gate that prevents just about everyone but the mailman from getting in. Quiet is an understatement. All this and we're only 20 minutes outside of Dublin.

The estate has some interesting history involving nasty landed gentry and some underground tunnels dug to facilitate an easy escape from the, understandably, angry Irish folk. Our cottage is right next to the old, cobblestoned stables and, if you’re really quiet, you can still hear the click-clack of horses and carriage on the stones. It’s pretty cool and creepy. A cab driver once told us that Michael Collins used to hide out here during “the troubles”…but I’ll bet he says that to all the ‘yanks.

Last night I was sitting outside, soaking up the quiet, and I realized it wasn’t that quiet after all. First I heard the heavy hoof steps and exhales of the new stallion anxiously exploring his new stomping ground. Then there was something rummaging around our compost pile…a badger maybe? I couldn’t see. Then there was a tiny, chaotic rustling under the hedgerow and a rotund little hedgehog ambled out into the moonlight. Hedgehogs make for perfectly delightful neighbors. My goal is to get a picture of one…if I do I’ll surely post it.

So this is where we live. I realize it may not be for everybody but it’s perfect for us.


Lamentation and Woe

Have you ever regretted playing hard to get (eh hem...)? Maybe you've come home from the party and wished you had given that guy your number? Well, there's a serious case of regret going on in our house today. The pugs are gone and Jezebel, our cat, is in the throes of self-reproach. She just lays in bed..."Why? WHY didn't I just let them sniff my butt once? I mean, they were kind of cute in a playful kind of way... Why? WHY do I always have to be so damn cold? (pounding her paws on the pillow...) I mean, if anybody could've melted my icy would've been...the pugs (more sobbing...)." She's just got to work through this herself. When she's ready to open up...we'll be there for her.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

The running of the pugs.

How's this for a first post? We're pug-sitting this weekend (for our friends that went to Pamplona to see the running of the bulls!) and these two handsome beasties inspired me to finish designing (i.e., picking out the colors for) my blog.

We love having the pugs over because they make us take two walks a day, they're so cute they make us talk funny (HOOsagudboy?? DATsagudboy....), and they snore like two old men. But it's not all roses. Our cat won't allow them to sniff her butt, so their relationship is in a holding pattern, AND they have really stinky farts. But who could resist faces like theirs?