Total Pageviews

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!