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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's official: We're approved!!! Child Search officially begins...TODAY!!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

In honor of tomorrow – New Year’s Eve Eve AND hopefully the day that we get presented to the Agency and get the official stamp of approval – allow me to share with you the ‘birth parent letter’ that will grace the beginning of our family’s profile book (followed by pictures of us looking really cute and fun and wonderful doing really cute, fun and wonderful things with really cute, fun, wonderful family and friends). We had specific requirements/guidelines to follow but were told to try to avoid the standard “Dear Birth Parent, we appreciate your sacrifice, how difficult it must be…etc.” Voila:

The Top Five Reasons…
Why We Could Be Your Dream Family

5. We are a loving, committed family of four – Mike (30), Jenny (29), Matthew (6) and Zachary (3). Families come in all shapes, colors and sizes, and sometimes we do get to pick who our family is. We look forward to forming a relationship with you and working to create our new-and-improved family. Mike & Jenny met and fell in love in college in 1998 and were married in 2001. Matthew and Zachary are happy, healthy, fun boys and are so unbelievably excited to be big brothers to their baby sister – whoever and wherever she may be! (They’ve already vowed to “protect” her and make sure that she has some “pink girly toys.”)

4. We are committed to our marriage and family values. We are Catholic and share our Christian values with our children. We are very involved in a marriage prep ministry that prepares engaged couples for the struggles and joys that come with married and family life. We know that it takes work, and we are willing to make the effort to foster a healthy marriage and life for our family.

3. Our lifestyle: We live in a safe neighborhood in an Eastside suburb. We have a comfortable home in a great location; we love walking down the hill to our local stores and restaurants and attending concerts and movies in the park during the summer. We get together and play often with our neighborhood friends. Our location is convenient to both of our jobs – Mike works as a Software Engineer at a company about twenty minutes from our home. Jenny is a stay-at-home mom and a part-time preschool and toddler music teacher.

2. We have a ridiculously amazing support network of friends and family. We have lots of fun with our friends – a big annual Christmas party, summer BBQ’s, potluck dinners, family game and movie nights, etc. We go on annual trips (sometimes camping) with our best friends – Jason & Rebecca – and their kids. Jenny’s parents live 15 minutes away and play a huge part in our lives and those of their grandchildren. Our children have a few aunts and uncles; the boys love getting to spend time with them. Mike’s family lives in Spokane, Coeur d’Alene and California. We usually get to see them once a year and always keep in close contact.

1. We believe that children are a gift from God – no matter how they come into our lives. We’ve been blessed with Matthew and Zachary and we pray for you and thank God for the gift of our daughter.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I gotta say December 26th is kind of the most depressing day of the year. It’s sad that as I’ve gotten older, it’s become harder for me to see Christmas Days come to an end. It’s almost as if the excitement and anticipation is built up so much, that about ¾ ‘s of the way through December 25th I start feeling a little melancholy as I’m aware of the nearing conclusion. There’s such finality to Christmas Day. I realize that the Christmas SEASON – “Christmastide” is technically just starting – Churchilly-speaking that is, as we celebrate until January 10th which is the “Baptism of the Lord” – BUT commercially and socially the season is over; the decorations are all a little dusty, lights and trees start coming down and then everything just looks so brown and blah again.

We did have a wonderful Christmas though. It was the perfect amount of fun but with some good quiet at home time too. We attended the “zoo service” at church (aka the 4pm Children’s Mass). Where I, annually, become my worst-Christian-self as I get so frustrated by the oodles of people that show up for their twice-a-year-Church-fix and then proceed to chew gum, visit and talk on cell phones while acting like we’re all blessed with their holy presence on this Holy Day. Told you, I become a bad person at Christmas church. Anyway, after church we headed to our good friends’ home for Christmas Eve dinner. These friends – Kristin and Mike – are Zach’s Godparents and have four super-fun kids of their own. So, just our two families combined (and the 6 children ripping around) is plenty of fun and craziness. Christmas morning, the boys – following our instructions – stayed in bed until 8:00 on-the-dot when we woke up to their pounding feet racing down the hall. Matthew was thrilled that Santa did actually deliver the requested Nerf guns (which have – surprise, surprise – already been taken away a few times).

We went to my parents’ house for gifts and dinner in the late afternoon where I received the gift that, for me, was the piece de resistance this year. It was from mom (and dad) to us. Last year, for her birthday, we got my mom some instruction sessions at an art studio. She’s been rather mum’s-the-word about what projects she’s been working on. Now I know why. Mom has always been a huge fan of religious art and has a very extensive collection of Madonna (Mary) and Child (Baby Jesus) pieces. Needless-to-say the tears were a-flowing when I opened an original painting that she made based on a photo of the first time that I ever got to hold Matthew while he was in the NICU. She replicated our pose and faces to perfection and the intimacy only shared between a mother-and-baby post-birth is tangible, but then she transformed it into a Mary and Jesus picture. It’s A.MA.ZING. Whew!

So, we did have a really marvelous Christmas. We REALLY did. But all the while, I dreaded the dawning of the infamous December 26th. And as if, on cue, the universe responded with some equal blahness to match my impending mood. The first thing we heard this morning was Matthew yelling from the bathroom, “MOM! DAD! COME QUICK! The toilet is flooding the bathroom and there’s pee and poo everywhere!!!” We groggily race into the bathroom, practically bumping into each other and off the hallway walls. While Mike works on turning off the water, I grab towels only to hear another ominous sound – this one coming from the boys’ bedroom. It is the unmistakable sound of a vomiting child. Zachary. Throwing up. In his bed. And then continuing all day long. Poor guy. Fever. Vomit. Pee-d and Poo-ed on floor. Merry-day-after-Christmas. Bah Humbug. Only 363 days to go…

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I’m a bad, bad person. Or at the very least a bad, bad Blogger! And now we’re on vacation. Va.Ca.Tion. You’d think that I’d have all this time to catch up on my Blogging needs. We aren’t even technically going anywhere. We’re having a Staycation this week, and yet, I’ve just not been able to make the time or summon the energy to do some much-needed Blogging. Anywhoo, here we are, at long last. It’s only two days until Christmas (well, technically 1 day, 14 hours and 10 minutes). And I do know that Santa will not be bringing a baby girl in his sleigh for us this year, BUT the motto has now officially become “We may have a New Year’s Baby or a ‘In Two Year’s Baby’!” It looks like we’ll be licensed and approved and all that official broo-ha-ha on December 30th; then we wait. We’re added to the pool of waiting families. And. We. Wait.

Our final home inspection and interview last week went very well. Though Mike was disappointed that after spending half a Saturday cleaning the garage, Joy didn’t even open the door to peek her head in! She said ours was the most to-code house she’s seen and that we’ve flown through the Home Study faster than any of her other families. Yay us! She also got to meet the boys before leaving. She asked them what they would do with a baby sister. Zach immediately launched into a lengthy explanation of how he would take one of the baby toys that squeaks and then he would run and hide and squeak it until the baby came crawling to find it. This is a baby that we’re talking about right? And not a dog and squeaky toy? Anyway, they did very well and didn’t say anything inappropriate! :) And thank goodness she didn’t see the behavior that the boys displayed on Day One of Vacation.

School ended on Friday. After finishing my last music classes of the year, and Matthew getting to make a gingerbread house at school and perform in their Winter Concert, we were all ready for some down-time. Then Saturday morning broke. Within moments of being awake on our first official day of vacation I was saying things like, “Um, hello, Santa’s watching, you know.” And “Winter Vacation is going to be LONG,” and “maybe I’ll have to sign these boys up for Winter Vacation Daycare.” It was like the boys had forgotten how to behave…at home…and with each other…and with parents. The behavior really escalated at, oh joy, the grocery store.

I dropped Mike and the boys at Safeway and then went to run a couple of errands. I called Mike to see if I could stop at the ATM or if he needed me to come to the store to help out. What I got was a teeth-gritted, grumble of a response. I deciphered the message as: Things are not going well. Back-up. I need back-up. STAT. My immediate inward cocky-mom response was, C’mon, I deal with wild boys at the grocery store all the time. How bad can it be?

Um, bad.

I find Mike and the boys in the dairy aisle. Neither boy makes eye contact with me and Mike shoots me a pained, how-dare-you-leave-me/slash/get-me-outta-here look.

“So, uh, what happened?” I carefully ask.

“Well, they were acting all wild,” Mike starts. I nod. Tell me something I don’t deal with every week…every day. “And I had told them repeatedly to stop, to settle down. Zach was holding on to the side of the shopping cart, and then I turned to get milk out of the fridge, and I heard a big crash. Matthew apparently had also jumped on the side of the cart tipping it over and pulling the whole thing down on top of them.”

Well, that’s definitely never happened before. That’s definitely some of the worst grocery store behavior in Martin Family history. I kind of wanted to laugh though (just a tiny bit) at the image of our two children, limbs flailing, pinned under a shopping cart. Kinda serves ‘em right.

“Did anything get broken?” I ask.

Mike grumbles, “No. Thankfully, there was just orange juice in the cart, and I hadn’t gotten the eggs yet.” He shook his head and I could see that what actually got broken was a little of Mike’s ego. Yeah, you don’t want to be the parent with the kids who pull a whole freakin’ cart down.

Thankfully, ever since Shopping Cart Incident ’09, things have settled down a bit. I’m no longer praying for school to somehow magically, inexplicably start early. I’m no longer threatening coal-in-stockings several times a day. And Matthew even cried yesterday when Zach was leaving with me to go the gym/kids’ club (Matthew didn’t want to go, and therefore didn’t want Zach to go either; he’d miss his brother too much).

Maybe Santa will be good to us after all. Then again….we do still have a day and several LONG hours to go…

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Basically every single morning a little bit of my soul breaks off and shatters into a million pieces…because it STILL hasn’t snowed! That’s right I’m throwing a tantrum because of the lack of snow. Look, it’s cold enough, and in my opinion, the cold weather serves no purpose whatsoever if it’s not accompanied by the magical wet whiteness. And quite frankly, this is kind of bugging me a lot – it’s like a hang nail or a cankersore. I can not think about it every once in a while but then something will remind me (say, looking out the window), and I get a little irritated all over again.

Last year, we had a couple of the most magical wintry wonderland weeks that were the most magical wintry wonderland weeks EVER! It snowed. And snowed. And snowed. (For Seattle-area, it REALLY SNOWED)! Two weeks of the world just slowing down and looking pretty. Our house – instead of revolving around getting out the door to school, running errands, getting ready for Christmas, going, going, going – became a place of pajamas ‘til noon, lots of hot chocolate, board games and once a day going through the major accomplishment and process of bundling up to go play out in the snow. Magical. We had a White Christmas, last year, for crying out loud! Do you know how spoiled we were?! And now, like a wee spoiled brat, I may just have a tiny bit of a tantrum because we don’t get to experience that every year.

The thing about snow…is like the thing about Christmas…which is like the thing about having (or in our case right now, adopting!) a baby…THE WAITING. I’m a planner. I love me some good list-making, calendar-writing fun. A clear example of how much planning and dreaming ahead that we’ve done – is our baby name list. Mike and I picked four baby names early on in our dating relationship – seriously, like just a couple of weeks, maybe a month, into knowing each other and dating, we had picked four baby names. And we’ve stuck with those names. Two boy options, two girl options and ranked in birth/sequential order.

Now, having Abigail Madeline who kind of totally turned out to have a pee-pee and be 100% boy and actually be Matthew Robert, is certainly an example of God’s sense of humor. He’s like this (in a deep voice that speaks slowly and sounds like the Tom Hanks Santa from the Polar Express), “Hahaha, yes, you can plan as much as you want. You can have the name picked out, you can have all of the clothes with tags cut hanging in age appropriate sizing, but you can ONLY be prepared so much…kind of like you’ll get a snow day when I decide that it’s time for a snow day…”

And this planning, this waiting, this not being in control, this only being able to do so much and then just trusting…waiting…THIS is what makes the adoption process wonderful-yet-torturous for me all at the same time. It’s like the ultimate in faith. We have to be ready – 100% ready to go: crib is up, car seat is waiting – yet we don’t really know what to be ready for.

WHEN will this happen? (Could be New Year’s, could be two years…)

HOW will this happen? (Will a birth mom pick us? Will we pick a foster-to-adopt baby/child?) HOW will we know when we’ve found “the one”?! Yeah, yeah, they say it’s just like meeting “the one” – when you know, you know, but what if we never know?! Or what if Mike and I know at different times with different kids?!

WHO?! Who the heck is this little person? This little mystery being is a part of our family already and we don’t even know her. AND we can’t name her!!! (At least not for a while). And we may decide that one of our chosen names (and we’ve added a couple new possibilities) doesn’t fit at all…Argh. The planner in me gets a little freaked out about this.

WHAT will this all look like?! How will the boys transition to being big brothers to a baby sister? What will happen with my music class business and teaching? How much time will/should I take off? How long will it take for our entire family to feel adjusted to this new dynamic – this three kids – two boys, one girl (one adopted girl) family? They say that so many people have the adoption vision completely idealized – that you see your child for the first time and it’s love at first sight... “They” also warn NOT to have that vision. That it may take a while for a parent-child love to develop and that this can freak adopting parents out. They may start to have a panic like, “Did we end up with the wrong child? Do I totally suck as a human because I adopted this little person, and I don’t completely, unconditionally love her yet?” It’s true. That’s what they say. So, how do you prepare for that if that is what happens without preparing too much and setting yourself up for it?! I read one book that even talked about “Post Adoption Depression” – it’s not talked about because in some ways it’s considered even more taboo than Post Partum Depression. With adoption, you REALLY went out of your way to get this child – you’ve paid money, you’ve waited, you’ve somehow had somewhat of a say in who that person is (i.e. you can select gender…ahem…do we know someone who mentally prepared for a mother-daughter relationship six years ago? You can select the age, race, health needs, etc.). So, if you’re not 100% happy right away, you may start second-guessing yourself.

What kind of relationship will we have with her birth mom? How will people react to our situation (especially since chances are WAY good that Baby Girl won’t look a lick like us)…though that one I’m starting to realizing more and more is just not my problem. Everyone seems to have an opinion on adoption and many will try to push their beliefs on to us. But when it comes down to it, it just doesn’t matter…this little girl – whoever, wherever, however she is – will be ours.

WHERE?! This I DO know. This is the ONE question that I can answer. And the where is the same place where the magic of snow and the magic of Christmas dwell. It’s that fuzzy corner of your being that keeps all the excitement and joy of childhood bottled up. It wasn’t just a corner when you were a kid – it was your whole being – it filled every cell of your body. But as we get older, life and the world, responsibilities and expectations slowly push that sense of utter joy/love/magic to a small little place.

Thankfully, when you become a parent, that little place gets a little bigger. The first time you feel your baby kick within your very internal walls…well, baby’s working on cracking that sucker back open. When you see your baby smile or hear a quiet coo, it grows a little more. The first step, the big milestones, and heck! even pooping in the potty all the time brings some more joy to your world! So, this place – this joy/magic/inner-child place – is the same part of me that is disappointed not to see a magical winter wonderland outside. It’s the same place that has SO MUCH TO DO before December 25th but also CANNOT AWAIT Santa’s arrival. And it’s the same place that makes waiting for another child – an adopted little gift – torturous and yet amazing all at the same time.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Wowza. December. 24 days, 17 hours, 17 minutes (hmmm, what’s with the 17 theme?) and 10, 9, 8…seconds until Christmas!! ‘Tis the season. And it’s official: the Christmas Clutter Monster has pooped all over our house. Now, I LOVE Christmas, and I LOVE the house looking all ‘perty ‘n nice,’ but I hate (yes, HATE) the in-between stage where boxes are still out and normal season Stuff is still out so there’s just Stuff everywhere. Stuff kind of slowly gnaws at my soul until I feel all sorts of stressed and befuddled and paralyzed as to what to do with all the Stuff. I’ll feel much better once the Christmas Clutter Monster and Soul-Eating Stuff is put away for now.

Beware: this has the potential of being a lengthy blog post (I gottalot to cover).

Thanksgiving. Let’s address it. We had a great one! We headed south to Vancouver, WA where we had a scrumptious dinner at the home of my brother Timothy and his wife Rebecca. We stayed in a nearby hotel and checked in early (pre-dinner), so the boys could swim the three-hour car-ride wiggles out in the pool.

We got to Tim’s and Rebecca’s and sat down for the feast when a strange something happened. I looked across the table to Matthew (who was sitting diagonally from me and next to Mike) and saw an odd rash breaking out on his chin. Within moments, Matthew’s entire face was turning red-blotchy-ish and his left eyeball started puffing up and swelling shut. Aww, snap. We’d completely forgotten about Matthew’s cat allergy which seems to have gotten severely worse over the years. I mean, we had Mistletoe-the-Christmas-Kitty for Matthew’s first 3 years of life with no issues. But now, when in a cat home, he starts breaking out with a kitty-caused rash and eye-puffing problem. Needless-to-say, since we’d spaced on this, we didn’t have any childrens’ allergy medicine with us. After eating, Mike took the boys out (with umbrellas, in the pouring rain) for a walk around the block, and Rebecca was kind enough to stop at the store (after taking her dad home) to pick up some meds for us.

In the end, Matthew just couldn’t stay and Mike took both boys back to the hotel. Poor kiddo spent most of Thanksgiving trapped in a smallish room (and by kiddo, I mean MIKE). All in all though, we did have a great turkey day and kick-start to an awesome weekend.

Friday, we had breakfast with Tim and then drove up to Kelso where my parentals and Chris were staying. We ‘deposited the goods’ – meaning we lovingly ditched our boys with mom and dad who were taking them to Port Ludlow for the weekend. We had an entire 3-day weekend kid-free and didn’t even have an Engaged Encounter Retreat to put on! I’d say we were VERY thankful (for kids, some kid-free time, and grandparents)!

We did all sorts of fun stuff – I got to go see New Moon with a couple of friends. Mike got the outside Christmas lights up. He had a nerd-night on Saturday (as in playing video games until the wee hours) while I went out dancing for girls’ night. We watched a couple of movies, did some Christmas shopping and got the tree up (that the boys helped decorate when they got home Sunday afternoon). But – oh BUT oh! – the most magical event of all the magical weekend was the magic of attending the ‘Straight No Chaser’ show on Friday night. If you don’t know Straight No Chaser, it’s very possible that your life has lacked all meaning thus far. You must visit It’s true life was kind of pointless pre-SNC – they combine nearly everything that makes me happy in life: men in suits or tuxedos, humor, amazing performance-skill and true, raw stankin’-amazing vocal-talent. (And I often listen to their music while having coffee and dark chocolate or red wine or Diet Pepsi….so there you go; my life is complete. Plus, most of their music is Christmas themed and well, we know how much I do love me some Christmas tunes! Anytime of year).

Friday night, we got all gussied up and headed to the Christmas-bedecked downtown Seattle. We arrived early and had time to pop into the lounge at Purple (wine bar and cafĂ©) for a glass of wine where I kind of made a bit of an ass of myself. I had chosen the cheapest glass of Pinot Noir and thought it most excellent. A gentleman came next to me and said to the bartender, “I’d like a couple of glasses of Pinot, please.” The bartender – who was rather snooty and full of himself said, “Pinot Grigio or Pinot Noir?”

Wine-Orderer responded, “Oh, sorry, Pinot Noir.”

Snippy Bartender replied, “OK, well, you do know this is a wine bar, right? And we’ve got like 20 kinds of Pinot Noir. You’ll need to see a wine list.”

“Oh, right, of course!” Wine-Orderer mumbled as he took the wine list – opened to the Pinot Noirs – that was shoved into his hand by Snippy Bartender.

Thinking that I was being oh-so sophisticated AND helpful, I leaned over to Wine-Orderer and said, “I’m having the Argentine and it’s excellent.” I pointed to the Pinot-Noir-by-the-glass at the top of the list (as in, the least expensive).

The Wine-Orderer looks a little confused for a second and then says, “You mean the Angeline?” Now I look confused and look closely at the menu. Sure enough, what I’d so haughtily called the “Argentine” was actually the “Angeline.”

“Oh, um, ha, right,” I struggle. “Yeah, I just didn’t read all the letters or, um, something.” Nice one. Anyway, he did end up ordering the Angeline and I hope – for his sake – he enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed my Argentine.

Post-wine and dessert we walked down the hill to Benaroya Hall to our show where – to my utter excitement and oober-glee – we discovered that we were actually sitting in the VERY front row. I’m fairly certain that the excitement shows in my face…in every single photo taken that night. I was VERY excited! The show was amazing. We got to see them afterwards and like a nerd I had come prepared with my CD cover for them to sign. I got a photo with two of the SNCers – including Ryan (on the left) who sings the version of “Jingle Bell Rock” that I use in my music classes during December. He requested that I video tape my mini-musicians – with jingle bells strapped to ankles – as they march and rock out to Straight No Chaser in my Little Ditties classes. “We’d love to put the video on our website,” he told me. Front row seats, signed album cover, photographs AND my kiddos on their website?!! Are you kidding me right now?!

And guess what?! They’re coming back to Seattle in May, and I happen to know a certain someone who will be turning 30 in May. Sounds like the perfect birthday outing to me.

Baby Girl's Room!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Some wonderful friends invited us over for dinner last week because, you know, we were husbandless and daddy-less for all of four days. They have three boys (ages 2, 4, 6), and our boys totally adore their boys. Dinnertime in that house (and with the addition of the two Martin boys) is like a spectator sport. After a while, Jan and I just looked at each other, picked up our glasses of wine, sighed and nonverbally agreed that attempting to enforce manners or appropriate dinner table-behavior was just a little bit out of the question for the night. (The kids’ manners, that is, we’d still try to act in a socially acceptable way).

Ben, the six-year-old, and Matthew are great buds and are two peas in a pod. Both the oldest, both now in kindergarten, and both boys are a little bit more cautious and emotional about things. They’re just quite similar and get along smashingly well.

Well, Ben, all of a sudden noticed something about Matthew and just couldn’t contain his observation. He leaned over and said, “Matthew! Your ears are gigantic!!” Poor guy – the curse of the Martin ears strikes again.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I’m husbandless…just for a few days. Mike is attending the Microsoft Professional Developer’s Conference in California. The last time he went to this Matthew was two and life was pre-Zach; so it’s been a while since we’ve been apart (besides the whole 7 week bed rest hospital-stay, but then we could still see each other). Anyway, on Sunday, before we took Mike to the airport, Matthew was heartbroken that daddy was leaving for a few days. We were talking about it while he colored (Mike, not Matthew) and he (Matthew) said, “But I’ll miss daddy so much. He’s so cool. He’s too cool to leave.” I suggested that maybe daddy should share his coolness with some other people for a few days since we get to experience his coolness all the time. Matthew didn’t go for this and finally just stated, “This just makes me so sad, and I’m going to cry now.” I like that there’s an announcement made pre-breakdown.

After we took Mike took the airport, I explained to Matthew in the car that he would have to be the “man of the house” for the next few days. I told him that maybe he could earn some extra allowance (because anything would be extra since he basically doesn’t earn any right now). If he could do some other jobs to help me and just be an exceptionally good listener this week that would be SO great.

That night at dinner, Matthew insisted on sitting at Mike’s place at the table. He also scolded Zachary and said, “Don’t make me use my angry daddy voice.” He insisted that I call him “Mikey” or “Honey.” I tried to explain to him that by being the “man of the house” he wasn’t ACTUALLY turning INTO the man of the house. I really knew that this had to stop when he leaned back in his chair, laced his fingers behind his head and casually said, “So, then, I’ll be sleeping with you tonight, huh, Mom?” Um…Yeah. I shot that one down, but just as soon as I finished explaining that we would all be sleeping in our normal beds and that Matthew had not, in fact, morphed into a mini-Michael (though, yes, he does look like one), Matthew had one more idea.


“Yes, Matthew?”

“Maybe I should have a glass of wine with dinner too.”

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

‘Twas Halloween this past weekend (as you must well know). We had a good time with all the Halloweeny-festivities but also managed to be quite productive. Mike bought the paint for Girly’s room. Baby’s room. Sister’s room…I’m still not sure yet how we should refer to “her” until we have a name…and a child that accompanies that name. He also got the boys’ box springs wrapped in plastic and put up in the garage. (We don’t need them for their new loft beds). Mike cut a new wall/wood brace (in which we must reinstall the gate at the top of the stairs). He also put together the crib!!! The man was on a roll.

Huge news: our FBI clearance came in (phew!), and that’s SUPER fast (guess we’re just SUPER clean), so this means that the clock is now clicking for Joy to finish our home study (you have to have everything done within 60 days, I believe). But because Joy ROCKS she wants to get this thing done so we can get ready to wait, so to speak. It’s looking like my optimistic goal of January 1st for being licensed and ready to roll might actually be mid-Decemberish. Woohoo!

Now here’s an interesting thing that I must bring to your attention: while the identity of our daughter remains a mystery to us for now, once we have her some aspects of “her” will have to remain a mystery to you, my readers/family/friends. Let me explain: so there are two ways this adoption could go: A.) We’re picked by a birth mom and receive the relinquished infant or B.) We are shown foster babies/children that are legally free for adoption and we find one that is the right fit. If A. happens it works a little more like a traditional adoption…we most likely get to name her and have her from a much younger age. (It is also the most expensive route). If B. happens, we are legally required to call her by her birth name until we legally adopt her (at which point we can choose to change her name if it seems appropriate). Also, because she is technically a foster child until the adoption is finalized (usually after six months at the earliest), the state mandates that no photos can be placed on-line. This means that if B. happens, I can’t put pictures of our daughter on my blog or facebook or our family website until she is legally ours. That’ll be hard, I know.

Also, depending on the birth mom’s situation (for possibility A. or possibility B.) and out of respect for our daughter and ‘her story/ identity,’ we may choose to not share much of her past history/life before she came to live with us. This just all depends on the specific, different details that we can’t begin to imagine, but it’s a good possibility. There is so much about adoption that forces you to change the way you perceive and view things, and some of this could – to a certain extent – change a little bit how I even write my blog. Obviously I must stay true to myself (and to you!); however, there will be some things that I’ll need to state carefully or not at all.

Another thing with adoption is the fact that you’re judged on your likability – by potential birth moms and your ability to parent – by the agency and state. The agency obviously thinks that we’re good enough parents to adopt (phew!) and with their home study document (40 pages about us!), they try to paint a clear picture of who we are to the state social workers who are trying to find the best fit for their foster kids. The other thing that we have/get to do is to create two versions of a Family Profile. One is for the state with some pictures of us and our home and a basic introductory letter. The other one (the one I find a little more creative and fun) is a Family Profile for the birth moms to see. Basically it’s like a job application – pick us! Pick us! And I feel a lot of pressure to make it pretty, and creative, and potentially even crafty (something that I am so not a fan of or skilled at doing). As Joy – our adoption specialist – put it, “I don’t want you to think of it as a competition or a popularity contest or beauty pageant, BUT birth moms are shown about fifty of these and you should try to do your best to stand out from the crowd.” Um, no pressure.

Part of the Profile is the “Dear Birth Parent” letter. Adoptive parents know all about this – how, on one page, do you help someone make the most difficult choice in their lives? How do you convince them that you, are in fact, the most perfect, wonderful people and they should place their child’s life entirely in your hands and in your care? How does a birth mom even begin to make this choice?! Can you imagine? Looking through fifty books, narrowing it down and then finally just picking – based on paper – the people that you want to parent YOUR child, a person that’s currently living inside of YOU. Do you think there are some that just go eeny-meeny-miney-mo? I bet there are.

So, the question is: how to stand out? First of all, Joy did make me feel pretty good when she said, “But you guys shouldn’t have a problem ‘cuz you’re young and cute. My young and cute families almost always get picked.” OK, so we’re young and cute, that helps, BUT…here’s what I was thinking: it’s a given that it would be REALLY good to avoid the standard “Dear Birth Parent, We thank you so much for considering us. We’re honored and flattered and can’t begin to imagine the difficulty of this decision…Your sacrifice means the world to us, blahblahblah.” Obviously expressing gratitude and compassion is important, but by the 34th profile, you know that that Birth Mom (who may even, potentially, be in the hospital IN labor) is just skimming anything that looks like that.

I’m open to suggestions. Here are the two ideas I’m currently working with:

1.) “Once upon a time, there was a boy named Mike and a girl named Jenny. They met in college and fell in love...” It would be a story version of us, who we are, what’s important to us, important details (religious preference, family hobbies, values, general overview of our home/neighborhood, life, etc.) Everybody likes a story especially one with a “and they lived happily ever after” ending, though we’d need the birth mom’s help for writing the ending. Ahhh, touching. HOWEVER, I worry that this one would even seem too wordy to the poor tired Birth Mom who’s already read 17 profiles. So…
2.) “The Top Five Reasons…Why We Could Be Your Dream Family.” With a more bullet-point/countdown approach, just five doable paragraphs, we could present a theme-based, organized view of US. I don’t know, but I think this one may have the most potential. I’ve actually already written it though I’m sure I’ll edit it a thousand times. Joy thought it was a good idea, basically less is more, but you still want all the details to be there.

Those are my current thoughts, any ideas?! Let me know!

Along with the letter, we provide a little family photo album – us doing fun stuff and apparently looking drop-dead gorgeous (well, it wouldn’t hurt)! My dad suggested we just get some new picture frames and use the fake family photos that come with them….um, whatcha saying dad, we aren’t attractive enough for ya?! Talk about the ultimate judging a book by its cover…a book that’s going to raise your kid!! (OK, obviously a book can’t raise children, but I’m just trying to apply the expression here. Gimme a break.).

How, HOW do you convince someone to GIVE you their baby???? And HOW will she ever pick?? It’s quite the choice to have to make.
I chopped my hair last night. I figure, it's been four years since I did that, it was time. As usual, Mike's comment was: "It's short." Well, yes, honey, when have I ever come home from a haircut with longer hair? But, it's true, it's definitely The boys didn't even notice this morning, and when I finally just pointed it out, Matthew said, "It just looks like bed-head." (Which it was). Then after putting some product in (and that's literally how easy it is), Zach and I decided that at least it looks like "fancy bed-head." None of my students even noticed today. I'm pleased to say that I did get some cat-calls and whistles with the Bus Stop Crowd, so I made an impression there!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Three hours talking about myself?! Cake! And oh-so delightful. My individual adoption interview went really well last week. At least, I knew all the answers! It does blow my mind that even with 24 pages of autobiography, they still have questions to ask us. And obviously talking about myself is something that I do well, but even with my skill it was a pretty tiring process. There was one question that she asked me that I honestly haven’t ever thought about and it forced me to pause (for just a moment). When talking about my postpartum depression/therapy experience, Joy asked, “And what, do you feel, did you learn or get out of therapy?” Sheesh! That’s kind of a HUGE question. I’m pretty sure I rambled about learning to love and appreciate myself, to understand that the balance of putting myself first – so that I HAVE something to give to others – is a crucial practice (and that it will take practice). So, here I am, practicing what I preach – putting myself first with some quality latte and writing time.

Cooking is something that I’ve been doing for myself lately (well, yes, it’s for my family, too, but mostly for me). I’ve been researching new recipes, creating my own cookbook of recipes that I’ve printed out and plastic sheeted, and I’ve been planning meals for the whole week on Sunday afternoons. Monday has become Soup Night. I love the fall for it so nicely lends itself to the promotion and practice of Soup Night. I HEART my Crockpot and have blogged before on my Crockpot-head tendencies. Therefore, Monday is a happy day as it’s Crockpot Day/Soup Night.

I don’t toss around the H-word, and when I do employ the H-word it is because no other word carries the weighted emotion that it embodies, but here goes: The boys HATE my Crockpot and LOATHE Soup Night. They’ve both gone through phases of being the lead picky-eater in the house, but Soup Night provides them for a beautiful brother-bonding opportunity. They unite in their anti-Soup Night stand. It would be quite beautiful except that it’s quite annoying. The pediatricians of the world, parenting magazines, food-propagandists proclaim that you must feed a picky child the same food TEN TIMES before they like it. Does that mean I should make the same soup ten Mondays in a row? Or does a ten-times-dose of soup in general work? All I know is they are NOT fans. We at least have Matthew trained now: he knows that wrinkling his nose and announcing his disgust is unacceptable. So, while Zach is literally gagging, rolling his eyes, and proclaiming: “eeeewww, blech! Gross!” Matthew, with the fakest, most forced smile in history, voice dripping with phony-joy says, “Mmmm, this smells good.” Then he forces down a spoonful trying to hide his secret desire to spew. He follows his torture with a sarcasm-dripping, “Mmmm, I LIKE it.” Meanwhile, he’s shooting a look at Zach that says, “Dude. What have we done to deserve this? Why does she hate us so? How the heck do we get out of here alive?!”

Ahhh, I love Soup Night.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Voila! Finally pictures of the boys' new and improved joint-custody-shared room!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hot chocolate. We can now add that to the list of items that Kara – my laptop – has been bathed in. Hot chocolate, red wine, Diet Pepsi and chocolate ice cream. Yes, these are a few of my favorite things. Kara! What a fighter!

Zach gave me a gift this morning; I didn’t realize it was a gift at the time, but now I know. He threw a total fit when we were trying to walk out the door for preschool (for him) and for the gym/spin class (for me). Zach is a strong-willed little mister. And lately he’s been rocking some serious attitude which includes, I’m horrified to report, a little bit of tongue-sticking-out action when he doesn’t get his way or is being reprimanded. So, this morning, he all of a sudden decides a new equation: preschool = torture. Now, I’m no good with the math, but I’m pretty sure that preschool does NOT = torture. As a matter of fact, preschool = rockin’ good times and typically Zach = a preschool-lovin’-boy. So, why today the sudden dislike for one of his favorite things?

Yesterday morning, when we arrived at preschool (in an absolute torrential downpour, I might add), there was a police car parked out front. The teachers, huddled under umbrellas, were approaching cars one by one. I knew this was not a good thing. The school (and church where the school is located) got broken into on Sunday night. As far as they could see the only thing stolen was our teachers’ new set of super-cool walkie-talkies. A bummer, but it could’ve been way worse. So, school was cancelled and Zach and I headed to the gym where he was super-pumped to run and play in the Kids’ Club. Apparently this morning, Zach decided preschool should be cancelled again because he wanted to go to the Kids’ Club with me.

The more I push him (especially if we’re in a hurry – which we were this morning), the more he resists. I don’t usually give into fits, but I did recognize that we were already running late, I didn’t want to just put him – kicking and screaming – in the car (making preschool feel like a forced, negative situation). Plus, getting to the gym late, means that Spin Class will already be full and I won’t get to do it anyway. I might as well, just wait, go to the gym after preschool (with Zach) and use this time as the gift that it is. Voila – the pumpkin spice latte and the marvelous surprise of some writing and reading time. Thanks, Zach!

And I need the writing time as I’ve failed to get up early for my “me time.” I’ve apparently made a horrendous mistake in buying new cozy flannel sheets for our bed. Our bed is so stinkin’ cozy that I’m just not able to get out of it. Literally. I’m not choosing to oversleep; it’s just happening. Today and yesterday I woke up closer to 7:30 (when my alarm was set for 5:45, and I need to get Matthew up at 7 to get him ready for the day). Aaah!! I love sleeping; I hate oversleeping. I don’t like the process of waking up early, and it’s particularly difficult now that it’s so dark in the morn. But once I’m up and I’ve had the “me time,” the whole day is off to a much better start. Darn the cozy sheets.

Sleep is always wonderful but it’s now, more than ever, a welcome respite from the boys. The boys. And the copying. The copying. They’ve learned that it’s annoying. They’ve learned that it’s annoying. And they’re doing it constantly. DOING IT CONSTANTLY!! And then it’s always followed with a “Stop copying me.” “Stop copying me.” “I said stop.” “I said stop.” But yet it just NEVER STOPS!!! NEV…OK, no I’m done. Must put an end to this copying madness. Copying mad….OK, it is actually pretty difficult to stop, I’ll give ‘em that.

This week, I’m looking forward to Thursday and my three-hour individual interview at the adoption agency. Three hours to talk about myself?! What if we run out of time? Mike’s three hour interview – next Monday – will probably be done in two hours.

We’ve completed the fingerprint scanning process (now we await, with baited breath, the results from the FBI). We still have a lot of house-proofing projects that we need to do, but we’ve done a lot of our big paperwork projects. We still have a finance report to do, and then we have family picture/story profiles that we make both for the agency/state workers and potential birth moms. That’ll be fun – I just have to remember to keep our family profile a BRIEF summary, not a three hundred page flowing prose piece. But they do tell us to do something a little different and original from the standard “Dear Birth Parent, we thank you for your gift…” The possibilities are endless! I’m thinking of maybe going the list-route: The Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Pick US!...what do you think?!

And then next month, we’ve got two weeks of class-madness: CPR/1st Aid on Monday and Tuesday night, then the PRIDE (Foster Licensing class) on that Thursday night, Friday night, all day Saturday; and then Mike leaves town for a work conference on Sunday, he gets back Thursday evening while I’m at class, and then the last class will be Friday. Meanwhile, I’m going to paint the baby room – two walls “Lilac Bouquet” and two walls a light pink called “Sweet Baby Girl.” Girly enough for ya? Hey, when you know you’re actually having a girl, why wouldn’t you paint with some “Sweet Baby Girl” pink?!

The deeper we delve into the adoption process, the more excited we get wondering just who and where our Sweet Baby Girl is. Can’t wait to meet her! Can’t WAIT to meet her! :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

[For the record: I know that book titles need to be underlined, but the Blog is only offering me an italics-version of life. I apologize.]

It amazes me that I never before made this connection – some of my very favorite stories and/or movies of all time are all based upon the theme of adoption. Annie, the musical (the version with Carol Burnett, Alan Finney, Bernadette Peters) was basically the soundtrack to my childhood. I played my cassette tape soundtrack to that movie to its breaking point. Even at the ever-so-mature-age of 13, when visiting my future all-girls high school, standing on the fourth floor, I peered down over the stair banister (seeing all the way to the basement below), and I could clearly picture our entire student body bursting into, “It’s a hard-knock life for us!” as we scrubbed the stairs and slid down the banister on dust cloth-butt-skateboards. And just the other day when I walked through a torrential downpour into the Montessori School where I teach, I dropped my bags of musical instruments on the floor (not a subtle or quiet gesture, mind you) and with a sweep of my arms, in my most robust chest-voice-belting burst out with a truly moving: “The sun’ll come out tomorrow!!!” (Um, it’s possible that I was slightly disruptive to the Montessori-genius-children who were hard at work, but whatevs, they needed a little sunshine in their day). And if that little orphan Annie doesn’t inspire you with her never-give-up plucky little red-headed self then nothing will!

How about one of my favorite books of all time?! Anne of Green Gables! Anne Shirley convinces sweet Matthew Cuthbert of Green Gables to pick her at the orphanage (instead of a strapping lad to help on the farm). Anne is the definition of pertinacious and strong-willed; making a life for herself.

Then there’s Heidi – an orphan who must go to live with her crotchety grandfather – who, in the end, of course, transforms both of their lives.

A Little Princess – Sara Crewe, a well to-do little rich girl, suddenly finds herself poor and alone.

Um, hello!
Harry Potter
, for crying out loud! Now, there’s an orphan who makes a name for himself.

The more unconventional adoption stories must also not go unnamed. Who could forget the moving story of Buddy the Elf? Buddy (Will Farrell) leaves the safe enclosure of his adopted home and adopted father Head Elf – Bob Newhart – at the North Pole and is forced to find his way in a mysterious land called New York while connecting with his cranky birth father, played by the gravelly-voiced James Caan. Obviously, Buddy the Elf has the added gift of Christmas magic and cheer on his side, but how can you not believe in miracles with this little flic?

Then there are the really, really unconventional adoption stories – where the strongest families and bonds are formed from the most unsuspecting parties. There was KoKo the gorilla who fell in love with a kitten named All Ball. The touching story of Owen the baby hippo and Mzee, a 130-year-old giant tortoise epitomizes the idea that love can be found in the most unexpected places. Owen was stranded in the terrible Indian Ocean tsunami that hit just after Christmas 2004. Owen was rescued and provided a home at Haller Park. The scared 650-pound hippo immediately grew attached to Mzee, cuddling and cowering behind the old male tortoise as if Mzee was a mama hippo.

More recently, I’ve been given a picture book that moves me to tears every time I read it: Horace. Horace is a spotted-cat that’s been adopted by striped-cat parents. He doesn’t understand why he looks different from the rest of his family. He even tries to connect his dots to turn them into stripes! After trying to find a place to fit in, Horace discovers that the very thing that makes him so different is what makes him so special.

As part of our adoption home study process, we’re required to read at least three books (or watch three videos) pertaining to adoption. Well, months ago I received a box full of adoption books from my aunt (who spent 40 years working in the adoption biz). So, while I’ve already done plenty of research on the topic, I never even realized that I’ve been preparing for the adoption my entire life. I’m not saying that knowing every word to all of the Annie lyrics makes me an expert or that rereading Anne of Green Gables every couple of years prepares me for raising an adopted daughter, but, well, it is extra credit and it sure couldn’t hurt!

Monday, October 12, 2009

First of all: whenever I see my list of 'followers,' it cracks me up that somehow I managed to become my own follower which just seems awfully pretentious and self-involved. But, if I remove myself (if I even figured out how) would that be indicating low self-esteem tendencies?

And it seems all of a sudden that my Blog is judging me, and I'm only allowed to post/view one entry at a time. Is it saying that I'm just a bit too wordy? Why can't I scroll down anymore to see previous entries? Can you? I have to click on "older post" to see my thoughts of yore and yesteryear (actually more like thoughts of 2 minutes sure to scroll down or make the commitment to click on "older post," as the "older posts" are actually quite new. Woah. Deep.)

I extend a most sincere thank you to my followers (those that aren't me 'cuz that'd be dumb and weird to be thanking myself for...following...myself).
I didn't realize I had so much blogging to do tonight! Be sure to scroll down and see 'older posts' since there's actually new stuff...

We’ve had some good times mingled with rough times in the last few days. We’ll start with the rough: we’re sick. Matthew woke up with a nasty cough-snot-fever combo on Wednesday. Then on Friday morning Zach started rockin’ the cough-snot-fever (would that be Cosnever? Cotver? I’m just trying to Bradgelina this sickness we’ve got to spice things up). Well, we kid-decongested the boys on Saturday morning so that we wouldn’t miss the Open House at our local fire station. Darn it, I’ve seen that sign up EVERY YEAR (since having kids and caring about things like Open Houses at fire stations) and not once have we been able to go. So, this was GOING to be the year.

We had a fabulous time. Matthew had drawn an amazing picture complete with aerial ladder fire truck, ambulance and burning building. He got to give it to the Captain who immediately put it up on the wall! The boys both got new firefighter helmets (although Zach went prepared wearing one we already had); they got to see all of the equipment and sit at the wheel of the fire engine and the ambulance. All very cool. I, however, was quite disappointed with our station’s lack of pole. Apparently most new fire stations are being built minus the pole as the pole could cause injury. They just have to go down the stairs at our station. They don’t even slide down the banister! (I asked). I suggested a twisty-slide. They seemed impressed with my idea. I will expect to see one installed next year at the Open House…though one of the firefighters told us that we don’t have to wait to the Open House – we can just stop on by any ‘ol time. Hmmm, this is a problem as we drive by the fire station everyday (it’s directly across from the entrance to our neighborhood). Matthew has reminded me of this firefighter’s kind offer EVERY time we’ve driven by. (“But Mom, remember he SAID we could!”).

When the boys were getting dressed for the big outing (both in fire truck-themed shirts), Mike and Zach had an interesting conversation (which I happened to hear from out in the hall and immediately wrote down); it went like this:

Mike: “You’re cute.”
Zach (very serious): “Yes, I know.”
Mike: “The girls are going to be all over you.”
Zach: “Yes, but they’re going to boss me around.”
Mike (laughing): “Oh really?”
Zach: “Yeah, ‘cuz they boss everybody around.”

Now, why Mike was telling our three-year-old that the girls are going to be all over him is beyond me. Take that one up with him. I guess we don’t need to be concerned as it sounds like Zach doesn’t care to even mingle with the bossy ladies at this point.

I just discovered this video while uploading photos. The boys were showing off their new pirate-themed pajamas. You can tell that they aren't camera shy.
I'm a bit behind on some updates...we 'did the Puyallup' (a big, annual fair) with the fam. We met up with my brother Tim and his wife Rebecca (as well as my parentals and brother Chris). The boys thought the Star Wars guys were so cool that they're both going to be Clone Troopers for Halloween.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Mike and I managed to say three things that probably top the Top Ten List of What Not To Say During a Home Study Visit With Your Adoption Specialist.

Joy arrived on Monday afternoon to a spotless home. We joked (she as well), that homes are always the cleanest on her first visit, then families realize she’s not actually here to judge our housekeeping skills, so they start living like normal people again. (Normal people actually HAVE dust in places and toys scattered about, for the record. I’m pretty sure they’ve done studies).

I heart Joy. She is AWESOME. She’s young, fun, totally down-to-earth. I had my completed Autobiography for her, plus another paper that isn’t required until later. She was VERY impressed with everything that we’ve gotten done already, and she started glancing over my autobio, and said, “Are you a writer?! This will be so much fun to read!” Why yes, yes, I am. Did I mention I heart Joy?!

As is the name of the game with this adoption stuff, Joy arrived with yet another packet full of paperwork for us. This one included the Holy Grail of adoption paperwork though – I might just put it in a padlocked, protective display case on the wall – it’s the Adoption CHECKLIST. Every single item/action that we’ll need to do to get a completed home study is listed and accounted for us complete with a place to put the date on when you completed it and a handy little box for your neat check mark. Ahhh, I love a good list. And I already got to cross off about a third of the items! Some of them – our CPR/First Aid class, PRIDE Foster Training class, Trans-Racial Awareness class – won’t be able to be crossed off until November and December when we’ve completed all the trainings. But at least we’ll have all of our stuff done by then.

OK, so the visit. This first one was just for us to have the chance to meet, Joy to deliver the paperwork packet and Mike and I had to fill out the background check/clearance forms (then we wait for those to get processed, THEN we get fingerprint cards, get fingerprinted, those get submitted to the FBI and that can take between a few weeks to a few months).

And now for the Top Ten List of What Not To Say During a Home Study Visit With Your Adoption Specialist. (Mike and I chose to only go for three on this first visit; we don’t want to over-impress her; we’ll save some for the future):

1.) Talking about something that criminals do: When discussing the fingerprinting process with us, Joy asked if either of work with our hands. Mike explained that he’s a software engineer and I said that I play the flute and shake shakers and stuff. Well, that’s all very nice and good, but what she meant was REALLY working with your hands like a masseuse or carpenter. Apparently people in very handy (haha) occupations can actually wear down their fingerprints over time and they don’t print and scan well. Huh! Who knew?! Well, Mike proceeds to add all nonchalantly, “I know that criminals sometimes dip their hands in acid to burn off their fingerprints.”…………………………………………………………………………………………….
(that would be the awkward silence that followed). OK, first of all, how do you even know that? WHY do you know that? And why would you admit, right now, in front of our home study/Adoption Specialist, that you know that?!! Great! She thinks that we run and mingle with acid-hand-dipping criminals. Excellent!
2.) Announcing that you’re a stalker: I have a kind of funny relationship going with Emily, one of the gals that works at the Amara Agency office. She was the first person to have the pleasure of receiving emails from me. These weren’t just ‘so how does your agency work’ kind of emails, these were detailed, lengthy emails with lists of questions, requests for statistics, etc. We’d done plenty of research into the adoption world already by the time we contacted Amara, so I knew what questions to ask. Some of my questions she couldn’t answer and had to ask of the agency director. Anyway, Emily has been very patient with me. I’ve spoken to her on the phone several times as well. The first time she called (to confirm our Pre-Application Interview), I joked with her about her last email which had said, “You’re coming up with SO MANY great questions!!” This was really just her nice way of saying, HOLY CRAP when will this crazy Jenny Martin lady stop asking me questions?!! She laughed and was, of course, very nice about it. Now whenever she calls we joke about how she sets aside extra time, etc. lest I keep her with more questions.
We’ve been in the agency building several times now and have seen pictures on the wall of all the staff members, so I knew what Joy and Emily both looked like. I proceeded to tell Joy, how great Emily’s been, and how I think I saw her leaving the building the last time we went for a class, because I’m a stalker and I’ve seen her picture a few of times and I know what she looks like…and I know where she lives. (OK, now that last part). Yes, I told our Adoption Specialist that I’m stalking an employee there. Stupdenous!
3.) Having no clue where your children are: When Joy stood up and was just about to leave, Mike suddenly looks around and says, “Where’s Zach?!” I give an uncomfortable little laugh and Joy tries to mask a look that clearly says: “Dude, you don’t even know where your kid is?!” I say to Mike – in an over-the-top joking way, “Haha. I thought YOU had him! Huh….real good, honey. Losing the kids like this. Ha…um…ha. He went to Andrea’s to play, remember?” Mike wrinkles his nose, trying to search his memory, “Oh yeah, now I remember.” Then as an explanation to Joy he says, “I was working on the computer downstairs. Anything can be going on around me when I’m working, and I wouldn’t notice.” Um, great! So, like the kids could be stolen. The house could be on fire. I can’t imagine why someone wouldn’t trust people like us with a kid! Wonderful!

Friday, October 02, 2009

We are part of the newly-formed Marriage Prep team at church. The other night, we went to a lovely couple’s home for a dinner meeting. They were an awesome, fun couple who have four children – three boys, one girl – two of which (the youngest son and daughter) are still living at home and in high school. After some conversation, we learned that the daughter (who is the youngest) was adopted from Romania when she was four. The mom was telling us that during their home study visit, one of the young sons was asked by the social worker if there was anything else that he’d like to share about his family. The little three-ish-year-old thought for a moment and said, “Just that there’s a lot of love.”

The parents, still beaming with pride that’s lasted for thirteen years, say, “We didn’t even tell him to say that!” I smile and nod. Yes, that’s touching. Meanwhile, I’m wondering what little pearls of surprising, unexpected wisdom our boys will share with our adoption specialist. I hope it’s not anything like the conversation I overheard them having last week.

The boys had been told repeatedly to clean up the toys downstairs and then they’d get to watch a short show. Well, instead of cleaning, they were being all sorts of crazy and wild. (And yes, I realize that, here, they’re already having a good time and I’m telling them to clean up so they can sit and watch TV. Not cool parenting. Yeah. Yeah.) So, because the boys had been getting more and more wild, were not listening to me at all, and had already received a couple of warnings, I finally just said, “OK, no show, and you need to go get ready for bed.”

Matthew and Zach are in the bathroom, going potty and brushing teeth. Like two old men wallowing in their misery sitting at a bar, I hear Matthew grumble, “Do you feel like we’re in prison right now? I feel like we’re in prison.” Zach glumly agrees, “Yeah, we’re in prison.” Well, I realize that I had a choice; this could’ve gone a few ways. At least I didn’t jump straight to the ‘ol: Oh, you wanna see prison? I’ll show you prison alright! (I’m pretty sure saying stuff like that would not bode well for our fostering/adoption license process). So, I decided to be a really good mom and use this as a ‘teachable moment’ – an invitation to grow and learn.

I storm into the bathroom and say, “Would you like to see a prison?” The boys stop, mid-teeth-brushing and stare at me with saucer-big eyes. “We could go see a prison. If you’d like to know what a real prison looks like, we could take a field trip to one.” Matthew shakes his head as quickly as possible, eyeballs starting to flood with the potential onslaught of tear-release. Zach’s just standing there. You can tell his weighing his options, thinking: hmmm, that kinda sounds cool, but Matthew doesn’t think so; I’d better agree with him and vote no on this one.

“Well, I just want you to know,” I continue, “That our home is nothing like a prison. So, we could go to a real one if you need to see that.”

Matthew starts stuttering, “N-n-n-no, no I don’t want to go to prison!” I can see Matthew’s thought bubble: Please don’t make me go to prison. I’ll never say that this home is like a prison ever again. Just don’t make me go!!

Oh-uh. My little plan seems to be backfiring. I try to reassure my sensitive little boy, “I’m just trying to say that we could go to a prison, not that I’m going to make you go to one.”

“S-s-so we don’t have to go to prison?” He asks needing a little more reassurance.

“No, prison, Matthew. We’re not going to a prison,” I say, hugging him. Yeah. So, what I thought was this great, creative, teachable moment ended up being an excellent learning-lesson for me. DON’T THREATEN YOUR CHILDREN WITH FIELD TRIPS TO PRISON.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I thought at first that I should be concerned that the first song Matthew comes home from kindergarten singing is Puff the Magic Dragon. Well, this is a public school, of course, the five and six-year-olds will learn all the words to a drug-reference song. But, I’m happy to report, that after doing some research (thanks to I discovered the following: No, “Puff the Magic Dragon” is not about marijuana or any other type of drug. It is what its writers have always claimed it to be: a song about the innocence of childhood lost. So, now knowing that the drug-reference stuff is just a bunch of hooey, I guess I owe my mom an apology. Last November, while under the influence of some pretty intense pain killers, she softly sang a slow mournful, contemplative rendition of Puff . I apologize for wondering (jokingly – for the record) about her past habits. She was just commiserating childhood lost as well apparently.

So, now that we’ve cleared up that a.) my mom never did drugs and b.) my six-year-old did not come home singing about drugs, let’s get back to the story. I was impressed by the amount of words that Matthew remembered from Puff (though the few that he did remember he just sang over, and over, and over…). I asked him about his music teacher (because quite frankly, I’ve hardly gotten any information out of him about what goes on in kindergarten, so every once in a while when he seems in a chatty, information-forth-coming mood, I grill him). I asked Matthew if he happened to have mentioned to his music teacher that his mom is a music teacher. (Just curious!) Matthew said, “No, that wouldn’t be a good idea.”

“Oh? Why not?” I wonder.

He thinks for a moment. “Because you’d argue about it,” and then he continues in a high squeaky (music teacher voice, apparently), “I’m a music teacher! No, I’m a music teacher! No I am! No me!” Interesting that Matthew believes that music teachers would bicker in the same way that 3 and 6 year old brothers do! (And for the record: I would totally play nice, and try to not start a fight at all).

Monday, September 28, 2009

Let it be known that I like to SAY that I'm a morning person, but I really find getting up out of bed every morning pretty much the most torturous practice ever (just like everyone else). I like being up before everyone, I like the extra time of quiet to think and start processing; I just don’t like the actual part where I have to wake up and leave the cozy, warm comfort of my bed. In the darkness at 5:45 when I stumbled out to the coffee pot, I caught myself searching for something outside. And do you know what I'm hoping to see in the darkness just beyond that window? Just a shimmery, silver glimmer that indicates snow. That's right, it's only the 3rd-ish week of school, it’s only be fall for one week, and I'm already praying for snow days!!! Not good. So not good.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m loving school for the boys and I enjoy teaching on my music class days, but there was serious magic that happened last December when we had nearly two weeks of snow. The world stopped. We became Amish and it was a beautiful thing. (OK, well, Amish with a Wii and Christmas movies and microwave popcorn and nonstop Christmas music playing in the background. That’s the best kind of Amish to be). I miss being Amish. I miss slowing down. Playing games everyday – not just Wii, mind you, but games of the card and board persuasion as well. I miss reading. Snow makes me want to read Little Women for the who-know-whath time. I miss getting all bundled up to play in the snow and then coming in for hot chocolate. But the boys always think that hot chocolate is way too hot, so they let about three huge ice cubes float around and melt in their mugs making it midly-luke-warm chocolate instead. I miss wearing fleecy cozy sweats from 9-5 and THEN changing into flannel pajamas for the night. And I know I’ll eat these words: but I even miss that feeling of Cabin Fever – like we’ve just been all cooped up together for too many days and we just need to get out and do stuff. Right now, I’d be so happy for some Cabin Fever. Bring on the snow.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The boys are famous!

Johnette Downing is a musician based in New Orleans whose music I've used quite a bit in my classes. I couldn't help but pass this along to her. Check this out:

I've got plenty of music-makin' to do myself this week. Today is the Montessori School, tomorrow I teach at Zach's preschool and then Friday is four library classes. Thursday night, Mike and I attend a three-hour adoption class. Saturday, we have an all-day workshop at church and then Saturday night, I will be MORE than ready to get out for a girls' night! Sunday, we're going to 'do the Puyallup' (going to the big Puyallup Fair) with my parentals, brothers and sister-in-law. I think I just may have to experience a deep-fried Twinkie. Look, the curiosity might just win out over the common sense on this one.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I’m being very naughty right now. I’m such a rebel. Wednesday is the day that I get up at 5:45 and instead of writing, I do some Yoga and meditation. Yeah, today I ‘overslept’ until 6:15, stumbled out to my yoga mat and laid there comatose for another ten minutes, smelling the coffee being made in the kitchen and thinking about writing instead of Yoga-ing. I motivated and did about eight minutes of the most lethargic, pathetic down-dogging/warrior-holding/cobra-upping ever and finally gave up. This is what I really wanted to do today. Well, this, and work on my adoption home study Autobiography a bit more. What I love most about writing about myself is that I already have the answers, I don’t have to be creative in making things up; I just have the creativity world oyster to pry open and see what pearls of witty prose lie within its’ gooey folds. LOVE it.

This week is ca-raziness as some of my music classes start up…today! I’ll only have three classes, so I’m easing in to things (not like my Hawaiian-dwelling, music-teaching friend Jessica who teaches full-time in a school and then has like 72 private students as well; that is crazy talk)! I did just get a random job offer from another Montessori school, so I’ve been emailing back and forth with the director to find out more. She won’t just come out and tell me what the salary is though, so that’s kind of annoying. Just show me the money! Mama’s gotta buy a baby girl! I’m going in Friday for an interview and to see if it’s a position I even want. The classes would be K-5th grade level. Besides private, one-on-one flute lessons, I haven’t taught anything over preschool level since before Matthew was born. And, ironically, part of their curriculum is teaching the recorder. Here’s the serious irony in that: I play the flute, taught flute lessons privately for ten years, taught music to grades 3-8 for two years, and I haven’t actually played a recorder since I was in 4th grade!! I think I could pick it up fairly easy…I’d be awfully embarrassed and lame if I couldn’t.

Last night was “Back to School Night” at the elementary school. I sat at Matthew’s table and colored a picture for him. He just got this awesome new hat for his birthday from Uncle Harry and Nana – a little picture math equation that has: a green crayon + yellow crayon = John Deere logo. It’s perfect for him and he loves it! So, I attempted to draw that in a note that he’ll find at his place this morning.

It was nice to hear from his kindergarten teacher what all they’re going to learn this year, and I’m pleased to report that he’ll be even more genius-y by June. I am a little distraught though because he’s already starting to bring home papers that say just “Matt” on them. I was determined to fight the “Matt” fight all through school, figuring that I had until maybe third grade before Matthew put his foot down and said, “No, I want to be called Matt, not Matthew.” And then I had every intention of blatantly ignoring that request. But kindergarten?! He’s already writing it in kindergarten?! I’m sure part of it is that he’s figured out it’s a heck of a lot easier to just write M-a-t-t than mess with that whole tricky h-e-w part at the end, but still! He will ALWAYS be my MattHEW and I’m determined to fight his growing up with every fiber of my being!!

As for MattHEW’s brother – Zachary, Zach, ZJ, Rocker Zo-Zo, Rocker Z has been busy coming up with a new career path. The last few days, I’ve overheard him a few times shot-rocker-singing into his “microphone” (this crappy, plastic toy that really just makes the kid’s voice echo a bit and was obviously created by someone who has never been around children EVER). So, Zach – legs spread wide and shaking his booty – was shout-rockin’ a new smash hit: FOOD IS HEALTHY. ALEX THE LION MOVIE. CHICKEN NUGGETS. Yup, those are the lyrics to the song. Very existential, don’t ya think?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I've been working on my autobiography for the adoption home study since 6 o'clock this morning (it's now nearly 8). It's a little wrong how much I enjoy writing about myself, isn't it?

Monday, September 14, 2009

We are adopting a girl. That’s a major-mondo-ginormous decision, and yet I haven’t even blogged a fair amount with a just explanation for you. It’s not that I don’t want to (come on, have I ever held out on you?!), and it’s not that I don’t have enough words (I’ve too many, as a matter of fact), it’s just a bit of a daunting and time-consuming task right now. September is THE most stressful month of the year (at least so far…) what with school starting up, music classes going again, all activities getting underway. As a perpetual student and/or teacher, I’ve always thought in terms of school year. Not this January 1st-December 31st business; that’s for ‘normal’ people. We the academics, think from September-June, thank you very much. So, I guess it is fitting that September – always feeling like an exciting/stressful time of new beginnings, new lunch boxes and sharpened pencils – should also be the month that Mike and I start this enormous process of adopting. And this bloggo explanation is part of that process!

As you know, we’ve successfully made two of the most freakishly handsome, genius-type boy children ever. We’ve done a great job…except that I’m not so good at the pregnancy part. My uterus is a selfish mothuh and not willing to give these boys a cozy resting place for as long as they need. Whilst in the hospital on bed rest, ‘Dr. Doom’ came to check on me – as he occasionally did. He strutted his British Behind in way-too-tight black pants, pushed up the sleeves of his black turtleneck and flipped his floppy, beautifully conditioned hair.

“You should not have any more children,” he said calmly like he really just muttered something as mundane as ‘It’s windy outside.’ “Every baby you have,” he continued, “will be early. We don’t know why you have preterm labor and we don’t know how to stop it. And typically with this pattern, each child tries to come a little earlier than the last. We usually see the preterm labor occurring two weeks earlier or more than the previous kid. Matthew was born at 35 weeks. With Zachary, here, you’ve gone into preterm labor at 28 weeks. You’ve said you have multiples as a trend on both sides of both families – twins, triplets. I just, quite frankly, don’t even want to think of that pregnancy.”

Well, at the time, I was so looped up on preterm labor-stopping drugs that all I could do was cry. I haven’t even given birth to my second child yet and you’re already saying that this is it! We didn’t necessarily have plans to go make 12 Catholic babies, but I didn’t want to be told by Dr. Doom that I had to be done either. So, the next step was denial. Maybe we should make it our mission to prove Dr. Doom wrong. Maybe I DO want five months of bed rest so I can finally write some award-winning books and get published. Maybe I could be the first music teacher to teach classes from…my…bed…or couch. OK, maybe not on that one.

But then the Post Partum Depression hit. And it hit again. And again. It rolled in like waves hitting the sand on a windy day at the Pacific – unrelenting, without any indication of potential end because just went things calmed down a bit and you think ‘OK, I’m getting better, I can handle this’ another dark moment of tumultuous pain and despair washes over you. So, then my other doctor (my primary physician) said, “You really shouldn’t have any more babies.” And then my normal OB/GYN said, “We loved having you in the hospital because you were so upbeat [um, cried everyday, but if you say so!], and we all miss you, but I think Zach should be your last…You’d be a great family for adopting! And then you could add a girl to your group!”

So, every doctor told me, “Uh, yeah, sorry, no more. Don’t do it.” But every bit of my tantrum-throwing-stomping-the-ground-with-hands-on-hips body said, “But I don’t WANNA be done!”

A lot of thought, a lot of prayer and the decision is adoption; adoption which – for the record – I’ve wanted to do since high school. I’ve thought about adoption ever since seeing that first Oprah about the condition of girls in orphanages in China. Now, it’s taken Mike more time to get on the adoption train, but I’m so happy to say – and praise God! – that he was the one who made it leave the station! (The, uh, adoption train station from which the figurative adoption train departs the figurative adoption station…to clarify).

Initially, I was thinking International adoption – it’s just what I’ve always wanted to do, and I figured that I could be like everyone else and just go get my daughter from China or Taiwan. (Please note: I’m not knocking ANY kind of adoption here, I’m just explaining how we came to our choice. There is no such thing as a superior way/place of adoption…it just varies depending on what’s right for each adoptive family or couple or person.) The more I looked into the Int’l route, the more I saw the trend that it’s become – countries see that they can make money playing with people’s emotions, and when it comes to wanting children most people stop at nothing to make it happen. So, International adoption has become, by far, one of the most expensive, time-consuming, wait-intensive (and potentially frustrating) ways to adopt…not to mention the travel time and expense and being away from our kids. So, I had to adjust my thinking. Plus, I realized, why would we go abroad when there are babies right here in the U.S.?!

But then, we saw just how expensive Domestic Adoption is if you’re very picky – one place would even make us pay a $6000 “Gender Specificity Fee” for requesting a girl. But we eventually found a more affordable option (though, still QUITE pricey) that offered major discounts and incentives (it’s like buying a car, for crying out loud!) if you were open to adopting babies of any race. And there’s such a need for it – they have an average wait time of 3-9 months which is ridiculously short for adoption! Apparently, there’s a huge need for multi-racial and African American infant adoption in this country…so much so that they have to offer huge financial motivation which just breaks my heart. I can’t understand why people are adopting older babies abroad when they could get a healthy infant from Day One right here. And it seems that when people are adopting here they’re typically opting for Caucasian babies who come with a $23000-40000 price tag and an 18 month-5 year wait time. Yes, race does have a price. (Again, I’m not saying this is bad. All adoption is good. It just varies greatly per family).

But still daunted by the price and frustrated by the idea that we – a family who could give a loving, safe home to a child who needs it – feel like this goal is practically impossible; I began looking for even more affordable means. That’s when I found Amara – an agency in Seattle that does adoption of babies relinquished directly to them or foster-to-adopt infants and children. I’d actually read about Amara and considered attending an information night but it was the same night as our Anniversary, and then I’d forgotten about it. A couple weeks later, at book club, complaining to the girls about the price of this process, my friend Molly mentioned Amara and brought it back to my attention.

So, again, after hearing about Amara’s program I was struck by the same kind of question: why would we look Internationally OR Nationally when there are babies and children right here in the Northwest who need a home? Now, one thing that’s different about Amara is, because there is a chance that our daughter will be coming out of foster care (though she’ll still be little – under the age of 2), we do have to do all of the classes and preparing to be foster licensed – a very involved process! We’re just starting the home study now. My guess/goal is that we’ll be licensed by January 1st. We need to be ‘ready to go’ (like the boys moved into one room, have the baby’s room ready, crib and car seat set-up) on day one and then we wait. Their ever-so-specific wait time is two days to two years. Obviously, most people fall in the middle of that and the majority wait closer to nine months.

At the end of last week, we received all of our paperwork for the home study part of which is 16 pages of questions for each of us to do an autobiography! Some of my writing time will have to be spent doing that. But Ha! 16 pages?! Are we limited to that?! While I’m excited and contemplating turning my adoption home study into personal memoirs (did they even KNOW what they were getting themselves into with me?!), Mike is wondering how he’ll find 16 words to use let alone fill 16+ pages. Good times!

Through this whole process I’ve had to continue to change the way I think about things. I won’t be giving birth to our third child. She won’t be the little dark, curly-haired girl I always pictured (or maybe she will be, she just wouldn’t be taking after me). We won’t have her from day one and we won’t get to name her (at least not until we legally adopt her which typically takes 6 months at which point, we could decide to change her name). But despite all of those things being different than how I always imagined, and no matter where she is right now or who she is, she won’t be any less ‘ours’ than either of our boys.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Today, Matthew had his first day back at school since the whole missing of the bus and my bug in the eyeball debacle and yesterday’s Snotty-Stay-at-Home-Day. Just to REALLY make sure he made it on the bus, I fashioned an exceptionally cool sign to his backpack. I also stuck a little note in his lunch box (which, might I add, he happened to see before he left for school and he read it out loud all by himself!). Overkill? I think not. I debated on Sharpie-penning a sign on his forehead but decided against it. Subtle yet successful, that was my goal.

And it worked! When Matthew got off the bus this afternoon, the entire BSC (Bus Stop Crowd) cheered. It was awesome. Matthew broke into a teeth-grin, came running at me and gave me an enormous hug. (He’s usually more of a let’s-keep-it-clean-and-cool-Mom-and-you-can-just-kinda-put-your-arm-around-me-as-a-greeting kind of kid). Needless-to-say, we were BOTH happy he made it onto Bus #7.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

And so it begins. Matthew has only been in school for one week and already we’re having us a Sick Day. Matthew was up at 4 this morning all sniffly and coughly. Being a good, caring dedicated mom I planned on medicating him and sending him out to infest the world with germs (he got it at school, so he wouldn’t be the first to take it to school, right? Right?). Plus he seemed a bit better this morning…that is until he sneezed at the breakfast table. The sneeze was mammoth spewing across the table a shower of chewed-up waffle and “dinosaur snot” – that’s the nasty spewing, ooey-gooey kind – all over Zach who proceeded to sit there, shocked and unsure of what to do, covered in snot and waffleness going, “EEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWW, he got snot all over me.” I looked at Zach; I looked at Matthew and said “Guess I better call the school.”

I was really hoping that Matthew would be at school today – not just because it’s lame he’s sick and missing class in just the first full week of school – but because I had an important note for him to deliver to Mrs. Randall. See, we had kind of a stressful event happen yesterday, and I wanted to let Mrs. Randall know so that it hopefully won’t happen again. Allow me to fill you in.

We were waiting at the bus stop with the Bus Stop Crowd – BSC. The BSC is huge and so far – in my immense BSC experience (the whole four days of it), I LOVE the bus scene. The families in our neighborhood are awesome, and I kind of think one of these days, I’ll show up, set up a table and start handing out glasses ‘o margarita goodness (it just seems like a party atmosphere) and we’ll have a fiesta in the street. At any rate, Zach and I are hanging with the BSC awaiting the bus to arrive driven by Bus Driver Bob. (OK, how can you not love the fact that Matthew’s first ever bus driver is called “Bus Driver Bob”? And Bus Driver Bob brings little dog treats and tosses them out the door to the leashed canine pets of the BSC. Even the dogs love Bus Driver Bob!!).

Bus # 7 rounds the bend, stops and about 20 million little people start tumbling out (in a safe, organized way). The BSC consists of nearly every elementary family in the neighborhood – we almost all go to the same stop, so it’s a ton ‘o kids. I see our neighbor girls Stephi and Ellie, Sydney and Zoe (lots of girls!), I see Mick from Matthew’s class, and then I see Shay – Matthew’s 2nd grade girlfriend and daughter of my running pal Andrea. Shay is more responsible than a 5th grader and has taken Matthew’s hand every morning (along with her younger sister Brooke’s) and led them on to the bus where the three of them squeeze into a seat. She’s been Matthew’s little 2nd grade guardian angel at school, and I honestly trust that girl more than…myself. ?! Anyway, I smile and wave at Shay and for the first time ever she doesn’t smile at me right away.

“Matthew wasn’t on the bus,” she says. I look up and realize that Bus Driver Bob is already pulling away from the curb and, yes, there is no Matthew in sight. I immediately say, “Snap,” pick up Zach and start running. OK, it’s wasn’t Snap it was something else that starts with S and has four letters and rhymes exceptionally well with HIT. Andrea yells, “Jenny! Leave Zach with me!” I put Zach down and start sprinting down the street. Bus Driver Bob – who is just starting to drive away shakes his head, shrugs his shoulders and raises his hands at me like, “Sorry. He wasn’t on the bus. Dunno.” I raise my arms hoping that in that one movement I’m communicating: Yeah. What’sup?! Why wasn’t he on the bus? Where is he? Thanks for your help, anyway. You rock, Bus Driver Bob. I’m sure he got ALL that from my flailing arms as I continued sprinting down the street. (I imagine I looked more like a large, awkward chubby bird flapping my wings attempting to lift off but fail miserably and have no choice but to keep running).

“Great. The one day I don’t bring my cell phone to the bus stop,” I think as I continue haulin’ down my street. I’m just nearing the one-block-away-from-our-house spot, when a minivan pulls up and drives along side me. It’s Holly – a mom in the neighborhood. “Looks like you need a ride!” She shouts.

“Yes, that’d be great, thank you,” I pant as I jump in. Holly and I have never actually met. She introduces herself and I tell her I know who she is and where she lives but I swear I’m not a stalker it’s because Andrea knows her and has pointed out her house to me. Meanwhile I realize that I have a bug in my eye. Yes. I’m that kind of dedicated mother. I was sprinting so fast to go find my lost 6-year-old that a bug flew into my eyeball. He did not stand a chance against this mama-on-a-mission.

“My kindergartener didn’t get off the bus,” I explain as I direct her around the bend to our house and try to extract bug carcass from under my eyelid. She glances at me and assumes I’m crying because of my lost child.

“I’m sure he’s safe and at the school office, they’re really good about this sort of thing,” she reassures me.

“Oh, I know. I just have a bug in my eye,” I say ‘cuz I’m the coolest/slash/cruelest mother ever. What must Holly think of me?!

“One of the moms from the bus stop flagged me down and told me to go pick up the running lady. You were doing pretty well with the running though,” she said.

“I run with Andrea,” I say as if that explains why I’m lightning fast…nothing but a blur of mommyness flying down the street.

I thank her for the ride and practically jump out of the van while it’s still rolling. Thankfully, the garage door opens right away, and I propel up the stairs to get my purse and phone. I check my phone, as I hop in the car and there are two messages – I pray that one of them is from the school.

It is. Thank God.

“This is Hazelwood Elementary. We have Matthew here in the school office. He seemed to think he was getting picked up today and missed the bus. Can you please call us and let us know you’re able to come get him?”

I leave the driveway (forgetting to close the garage) and head up the street. I turn the AC on full blast realizing that I’m sweating like a crazy thang. I dial the school back as I pass all of the BSC heading home – including Zach walking under 2nd grader Shay’s (and Andrea’s) protective care. They cheer me on. Dang. They’re still a LONG walk from home. I’m fast!

“Hazelwood Elementary,” a friendly womanly voice says.

“Hi, this is Jenny Martin,” I pant, “I’m Matthew’s mom, sorry I didn’t have my cell phone with me. I’ll be there in a couple of minutes.” I’m already turning out of the neighborhood on to the main street.

“OK!” she says cheerily. “We’ll see you soon!”

I park and hightail it to the main office. (I don’t run in the halls though since I’m pretty sure that’s still a universal school policy).

When I walk into the office, I see Matthew sitting in a chair – jacket on, backpack on, eyeballs all red from crying…I try not to join in right then and there while giving him a big hug.

“Matthew! You silly. Why did you think I was picking you up today?” [I don’t ever pick you up ‘cuz that’s just being an overachiever. You need to get your own butt home, child.]

Matthew mumbled something unintelligible. I thanked the office ladies. They thanked me for having all of my phone numbers and information on his bus tag (pinned to his backpack). Ha! Maybe I’m not a slacker mom after all.

In the end, this is how I understand the story: The kindergarteners have a Bus Buddy – a 4th or 5th grade girl who rides the same bus, helps them line up in the right spot and then leads them up the stairs to the bus curb. Matthew says – or thinks – he saw his Bus Buddy so he followed her, but instead of heading out the back door to the bus line-up spot, she went out the front door to the car/parent pick-up spot. That’s when – I think – he started to cry and a Mom saw him and directed him to a 1st grade teacher standing nearby. They saw his tag, took him to the Bus #7 line-up spot, but it was too late; the bus had already left.

I assure Matthew that he did everything right – didn’t get in a car, didn’t just start walking away from school, didn’t get too lost, he found a mom (or a mom found him) and got the help he needed – but from now on since he KNOWS where the Bus #7 line-up spot is, he shouldn’t pay attention to what other kids are doing he should just take care of himself and get to Bus #7. After saying this in about seven different ways, eight different times, Matthew finally says, “Mom. Can we be done talking about this now?”

Sigh. Talk about cutting the umbilical cord or apron strings. Pushing your baby out of the nest. Releasing them into the wild. Sink or swim baby, and thank God we’ve had over a year of swim lessons. It’s a BIG pond out there.