December 31, 2008

Looking Back

I've tried to reflect on 2008 several times over the past week, but only one thing keeps coming to mind. This year will always be the one in which Firefly joined our family. Everything else just sort of fades away in comparison.

I looked back through the archives (a surprisingly quick read--I was awfully quiet this year) and pulled out some of my favorite posts from each month:

Last January, we were in the final stretch of our wait for Firefly and I was full of conflicting emotions. Meanwhile, Puppy was bonding with his first dad.

In February, Firefly became our daughter, even though we didn't deserve her.

A few weeks later in March, Ms B brought Firefly an amazing gift.

In the midst of babywearing bliss one April morning, I went out topless in front of my elderly neighbor.

In May I was getting sappy at the photographer's studio while Puppy was staging a toddler revolution.

Watching the children interact as big brother and little sister is still as restorative as it was that day in June.

I often think about this conversation in the church bathroom from July and wonder what happened to that mother.

August brought one perfect still moment, thirty-three years in the making. This post makes me tear up every time.

I thought you would roll your eyes at my advice from September on supporting family members who are adopting but instead you said, "Amen!" and added some advice of your own.

October found me remembering Puppy's birth day.

In November I learned that I will never do NaBloPoMo again. But the DIY revocation period discussion was interesting.

This December, I learned how love opens itself up to the unexpected joys that change sometimes brings.

Happy New Year to you all--it's been wonderful to travel the past twelve months with you. May we all discover new joys in 2009.

December 29, 2008

An Evening Conversation

Puppy: Ray didn't come to the house today.

Me: I know, sweetie. He was on his way here this morning and his car broke. He tried to find another way to see us, but it didn't work out.

Puppy: He can come tomorrow.

Me: No, buddy, we're leaving on the airplane tomorrow. So we wouldn't be here to see him.

Puppy: Why didn't he come after his car got fixed?

Me: He wanted to find a way to come, but he had to spend a lot of time dealing with his car. He was really disappointed. And I'm sad, too.

Puppy: Why are you sad?

Me: Because I like Ray a lot and it's been a long time since we've seen him. I was looking forward to seeing him today. And I'm sad because I know how much he wanted to see you.

Puppy: I want him to come.

Me: I know, buddy. I know.

December 28, 2008

Mixed Signals

We are in Southern California for Christmas II right now. The temperature here is over twice what it was the day we left home, so if you are trying to find us, we're the ones wandering around in short sleeves amidst all the people in puffy coats.

I'm writing this furtively on my in-laws' computer. My online world is super duper top secret as far as family is concerned, and I have every intention of keeping it that way. Which generally isn't that hard to do, until you are staying at their home.

Puppy's first mom came over tonight with her parents and the new baby. The conversation stayed pleasant. The sister-baby was passed around, presents were exchanged. Her mom engaged quite a bit with Puppy and seemed to genuinely enjoy the whole evening. Puppy and Firefly were their charming selves.

K talked with T and me, she talked with T's parents, she played some with her daughter and with Firefly. And she never interacted directly with Puppy except for the two minutes we asked to take some pictures.

Eeps, someone is coming down the hallway, so I must hide all evidence of my sneaky blogging. Puppy's first dad arrives in the morning and I am so looking forward to seeing him.

P.S. She was really excited about the hand-me-down shirts.

December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.

We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son.

Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.

-John 1:14 (as translated in
The Message)

To those who are celebrating Christmas today, may your time be marked by the simplicity of his birth and the magnitude of his purpose.

To everyone who reads here, no matter your celebrations, may you know peace and joy--today and every day.

Photo credit: Trey Campbell, Photo Net

December 22, 2008

Small Bits

We had tickets to fly off to spend the week with Tom's family yesterday, but our flight was canceled along with most everyone else's in the area. I think something like only a dozen flights left the airport.

So! We're rebooked for a post-Christmas trip and we're crossing our fingers that this one will take. We have over a foot of snow in our backyard, which is unheard of around here. And another storm predicted for Christmas Ever--yikes. I am glad the rescheduling worked out. It was looking like we were going 0 for 3 for first parent visits this month for awhile there, which would have been disappointing. Puppy is at an age where those face-to-face interactions are so crucial and it's been a long time since we've seen either K or R.


We bundled the kids into carriers last night and took a walk around the neighborhood looking at lights on houses. It was wonderfully, beautifully, peacefully magical.

Firefly kept wanting to turn her face up toward the falling snow. Then she'd be shocked when the snow was wet. Every single time.


We watched the Sex and the City movie last night. It was about a C- anyway, but gets a total F from me for the "My doctor said all little infertile me needed to do to get pregnant is adopt!" scene. And for not even having the adopted daughter hanging out at the hospital with the rest of her family after the birth. Lame.


We're giving away my favorite carrier for itty-bitty babies over at Northwest Mom Finds (the wrap of my neighborhood flashing incident). And at my review blog I'm writing about a new website for parents and educators looking for quality children's books. Check them out if you're so inclined.

But I'd rather hear you're having much holiday fun! What is your household up to today? Are you snowed in, or free to roam?

December 20, 2008

Opinions Noted

Well, I am glad that I asked.

First, I just want to make it clear that these are pieces of clothing K purchased for Puppy quite some time ago. He wore them, has long since grown out of them, and they've been sitting in boxes with his other baby clothes.  I'm sometimes a little gift-dense, but I would never return an item back to the original giver because I didn't want it. Heavens.

This all started because we were going to mail a gift for the baby.  And I remembered these shirts and how much K liked them, so I thought maybe we could send them down for the baby to wear.  But because they were going to be in the same mailing as the present, I wondered if they would be seen as part of the present and worried about, well, about all the things you brought up in the comments.

The truth is, I'm not very sentimental about clothing.  I was cleaning out the kids' closet once and threw Puppy's coming-home-from-the-hospital outfit in a thrift store pile without thinking about it (I fished it out later).  I attach a lot of meaning to other tangible things, just not clothes.  So I'm thinking, hey, they're shirts that she liked, so let's reuse them.  But this is probably a time when clothes aren't just clothes.

We're actually going to be doing this in person (we're seeing both of Puppy's first families (separately) on Monday).  Which, as several of you pointed out without realizing it, solves the problem because I can just ask her if she is interested in having the baby wear them.  So here is the revised plan: I am going to bring the shirts with me, but not have them in any way connected to the present we have for sister-baby.  That way we can see how things go on Monday and maybe have a conversation, and I can emphasize that these are things I had saved because she had picked them out for Puppy and I thought it might be sweet if sister-baby could wear them, too.  But leave it up to her if she wants to take them home or have them stay with us. Or take them and return them later, whatever.  Hopefully that erases any re-gifting taint.

To answer a couple of other questions, the fact that the baby is Puppy's (half biological) sister is out in the open.  And she has been talking about them as siblings, at least with us, so I don't think I'm overstepping anything in that regard.

Thank you for your insights. This has an interesting time in our relationship with K and I have little idea what to expect on Monday.  Some things have been said and written in the last month that make me hurt for my little boy, her first born.  I almost don't care about anything else that happens on Monday, I'm just praying that none of them get said again in front of him. He is young, but he listens and takes things in and believes every single word.  And I don't know how to help him understand that none of this is really about him.

December 19, 2008

Your Opinion is Kindly Requested

Let's say you placed your first child in an open adoption, then had a new baby you were parenting. If the adoptive parents gathered up some t-shirts you originally gave to your eldest and sort of re-gifted them back to you as part of (or alongside) a baby present, would you be...

(a) touched that your youngest could share these clothes with her sibling, or

(b) hurt that they didn't want to hang on to them as mementos for your child, or

(c) annoyed that part of the gift is not only used but a gift that was being returned to you?

I think I know what I'm going to do, but I have made bone-headed moves in the gift arena throughout my life. Everyone's opinions are welcome, but especially any first moms'. What do you think?

December 18, 2008

Love Opens Up

I had always prided myself on our Christmas trees. Everything from selecting just the right noble fir to placing each light and ornament was done with great care and deliberation. I'd view the tree from multiple angles, adjusting decorations until it looked balanced and full from any spot in the room. Once finished, it sat like a show piece in the front room, its perfection untouched until it finally came time to dismantle it. (Save that year I came home from work to find the tree had toppled over. We don't talk about that year.)

It was a soothing, enjoyable process, done with Christmas music playing and peppermint lattes on the coffee table. And sitting by my sparkly tree in the evenings was one of my favorite parts of Christmas. They were rituals I didn't want to lose when kids entered the picture. In the years before becoming parents, T and I would talk about how to protect our precious trees from future tiny hands. Would we put the tree inside a playpen like my parents had done? Not decorate the bottom branches until the kids were old enough to leave it alone? Forbid anyone from touching it on pain of death? We searched for ways to maintain what we thought was its perfect beauty.

On the couch tonight, writing this, I can peek over the top of my laptop at this year's tree. And, friends, our tree is a hot mess. Or, rather, the bottom third is. It morphs each day into a new combination of color and light. Garland loops haphazardly, five colored balls cluster on a single branch. In one section just shy of the ground, a large homemade angel sits upside down and backward. All of the train ornaments are happily grouped front and center. It is an explosion of asymmetrical chaotic madness, the result of a three-year old's constant meddling. And it turns out I don't care one bit.

Really for the first time this year, Puppy is old enough to not just observe our holiday traditions but participate in them. He jumped around with joy as he "helped" T decide where to hang the outdoor lights. He announces when we should have hot cocoa breaks and where each person should sit. He could barely contain himself the day we decorated the tree, dashing to the table to pull yet another ornament out of the box, squealing, "Oh, Mama, look at this one!" every time. And he has turned the tree into his personal interactive wonderland. Animal ornaments take rides on train ornaments, visiting the land of candy cane lights. Nutcrackers become friends with angels and move closer together on their branches.

I enjoyed my perfect Christmas trees in the past, but it turns out the what I love even more is sharing that joy with my son. Our tree may not be showroom pretty right now, but it is alive with the excitement of a little boy. All because love doesn't hold traditions tight to itself, but opens them up to be reimagined through the eyes of another.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone.

December 15, 2008

Odds and Ends

We ended up calling off Ms B's visit because of the weather. Which seemed like a mistake when Sunday morning was clear and beautiful, but ended up being a good decision by the time we were snowed in on Sunday afternoon. T and I were bummed, but we're going to try and reschedule for after Christmas. Ms B laughed at us on the phone, "You seem more disappointed than I am!"


T's school district called a snow day, so he and Puppy spent this morning building a snow man in the yard. T noticed Puppy spent quite a bit of time on one section of the body. Turns out he was making the snow man anatomically correct.

Such is life with a three-year old, recently potty-trained boy.


T is supposed to drive to the airport this afternoon to fly to his uncle's funeral. There are crashes and cars spinning out of control all over the freeway. He's determined to go; I'm a little worried.


I'm talking about Firefly's new shoes over at my personal review blog, .

December 12, 2008


They say what you put in your shopping cart at the grocery store reveals a lot about you. If that is true, then I think late-night trips likely reveal even more.

What did I bring home from the store last night?
  • (2) cans organic soy-based infant formula
  • (2) bags organic teddy grahams
  • (2) decidedly non-organic individual pies, apple and cherry
  • (1) bottle of the cheapest cheap-ass red wine available
  • (1) bag beef jerky
It may seem to be the diet of a very conflicted family. I was hunting for some comfort food. (And noticed the teddy grahams were on sale.) Cancer seems to have given us back Judy (yay!) this week, but it also took a member of my husband's family. Days before we were to fly down to see him again. Sometimes you just have to sit down with a sugary pocket of pie goodness (or in T's case, meat sticks and bad wine) and hope for a little break.

In other news, I'm going against the wishes of probably every last child in my town and hoping that it doesn't snow this weekend. Ms B is supposed to come up tomorrow to spend a couple of days with us. I'd hate to see her trapped at home when she's so wanting a little Firefly fix. Firefly is thisclose to crawling and it would be fun if Ms B could share in that milestone. And I find myself wanting a little B fix for myself. It's a different feeling for me, one that's causing me to rethink some things about the role affection plays in our open adoptions (current thoughts: helpful to have, harmful to fake).

December 10, 2008

Reading Between the Lines

When you say...
  • you don't think you should have to deal with birth parents after the adoption is done;
  • you're sometimes grateful your child was abandoned with no information, because that way it's like his history starts with you;
  • you don't believe in openness because it is uncomfortable;
  • that birth parents should be able move on with their lives, knowing that their child is loved and safe with you;
  • that speaking ill of your daughter's first parents has no effect on her, since they're not her family anymore;
  • you know your child is fine with her adoption because she never brings it up;
  • you never talk about adoption in your family because it's an event that's done and in the past
...what I hear is that you became a parent through adoption, but you don't really want to be an adoptive parent.

December 04, 2008


Several months ago I wrote a little post about having Firefly's picture taken, then took it down after just a few hours to think about submitting it somewhere. It is back up again, here at the blog where it belongs. I think it may be my favorite thing I've written about Firefly's arrival into our family this year. Here is a link for anyone who missed it the first time and is interested in reading:

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