28 November 2009

Crazy baby...

Our 14 month-old niece (A) sounds just like a Wookie.

A is a gorgeous towhead with enormous blue eyes and a huge grin. She looks like a lovely, sweet baby that one might find in a magazine ad or a television commercial. She's that gorgeous.

And then she opens her mouth and out comes this amazing sound that one can only liken to that sound that a Wookie makes.

It's bizarre and hilarious.

Our little Wookie.

She is also DESTRUCT-O BABY.

My sister-in-law tells me that A hates to have any container full...bags, boxes, drawers...all must be emptied out onto the floor. And I have seen this in action over the last two days.

And A can't just dump things out either. She must fling all objects violently onto the floor. It's a good idea to not be sitting too closely to the baby when she is in flinging mode otherwise you might get clocked. Hard.

When A is denied access to the object or objects of her DESTRUCT-O tendencies she lets out a blood-curdling shriek combined with hands banging on the table or on my sister-in-law.

My sister-in-law (C) and mother-in-law are currently engaged in a heated, intense battle of "Terrace" and A is desperate to get to the game board and the rounded black and white pieces. My sister-in-law pushes the game board further away from the baby who shrieks and tries harded to lean forward for another go at getting her little hands on the game. C pushes the board farther away and A shrieks and shrieks and then bangs her little hands HARD on the table.

"Honey," calls my brother-in-law from the kitchen, "is she OK?"

"Yeah, she's just in one of her violent rages," says C with a wry smile.

After a bit more shrieking, my brother-in-law (G) comes in and grabs her. He takes her to the couch where he manages to distract her with lots of tickling. The distraction is short lived as A climbs down to trundle over to her mother and shriek and bang on her mother's back.

"Time for you to go night-night?" Asks C.

A scrunches up her face and lets out a little Wookie warble.

C scoops her up and says, "Say night-night to everyone" and then whisks A off to her bedroom for a mid-morning nap.

27 November 2009

The day after...

The turkey is in the fridge.

All 8 tons of it.

The desserts are all still out on the table and it's just way too easy to grab a cookie here and a macaroon there as you wander by.

I'm sitting in my brother-in-law's GIGANTIC overstuffed chair - sideways with my legs up on the arm just the way G sits in it.

Chris is downstairs getting a little quiet time.

My mother-in-law is showering.

Breakfast has already been consumed and the kitchen cleaned.

My teething 14 month-old niece is down for her post-breakfast nap after an up and down morning of crying and laughing and crying and laughing.

The dogs, exhausted from all of the activity and from 24 hours of constant hoovering up of crumbs and dropped food items have collapsed into contented heaps in the living room and kitchen.

The living room is a chaotic riot of children's toys and sippy cups in various stages of being consumed.

My 4 year-old niece is wandering around from adult to adult looking for playmates and has snagged "Rhode Island Nana" (as opposed to "New York Nana") for a game of Crazy 8s.

The day after Thanksgiving.


And to think...next year there will likely be another Little One adding to the chaos and the fun.

25 November 2009

The Macaroon Lady...

I'm in Macaroon Hell.

No, not really.

My fourth batch of coconut macaroons is baking away.

The first two batches - chocolate covered - are setting up in the fridge.

The whole house smells of coconut and vanilla. It's rather intoxicating.

I'm not much of a cook...mainly because I've never really had the time or inclination, but I do love to bake and I have a modicum of talent with flour, butter, sugar, chocolate and the other fattening yummy ingredients that one makes into sweet treats.

My sister-in-law C put in a request for coconut macaroons for the Thanksgiving holiday. In honor of Babci (Chris' and C's maternal grandmother) who passed away in April.

Babci always made macaroons for family occasions - knowing how much I liked them. She would always grab my arm to pull me down and whisper in my ear, "I made these just for you."

Knowing how much C also loves macaroons, I can't help but wonder now if at the same family gatherings that Babci pulled C aside to tell her the very same thing.

If she did, it doesn't matter. To Babci food equaled love and I am more than happy to have shared that deep, sweet macaroon love with my sister-in-law or anyone else for that matter.

It's going to be strange to celebrate Thanksgiving this year without Babci. We're heading to a "new venue" this year...my sister-in-law's house in NY. None of us could really bear the thought of being in our usual venue at my mother-in-law's house. It would have been just too hard to see Babci's rocking chair without her in it.

She will be missed.

But we can't have Thanksgiving without her coconut macaroons.

And so I think that I may have become the family's Macaroon Lady. Certainly not a replacement for Babci. I could NEVER fill those shoes! However, I am more than happy to keep the family in macaroons and love.

Here's to you Babci. Happy Thanksgiving. We love you.


I have never really been one of those "I'm thankful for..." kind of people around the Thanksgiving holiday. In truth, even though I can be a very emotional and sappy kind of gal, I always found the whole "I'm thankful for..." exercise at the Thanksgiving dinner table - well - just a bit hokey.

I suppose until this year I took the Thanksgiving holiday and my life a bit for granted.

Thanksgiving was always just about getting together for a crazy big sumptuous meal and a day of family fun (and/or family drama...)

But in this difficult year when there has been so much turmoil, so much sadness and uncertainty, when so much has happened in our family...
  • The loss of Chris' maternal grandmother - Babci.
  • My mother-in-law coping with breast cancer, chemo, surgery, radiation therapy and the loss of her mother all in the same year.
  • My father dealing with a second and much worse melanoma, surgery and a difficult recovery with complications that no one expected.
  • Our youngest cousin who has a degenerative condition coping with numerous and lengthy hospital stays and the matching with and then devastating separation from her service dog
  • The loss of one of the beloved family dogs - Maggie - just a few months ago.
  • Annabel being taken so suddenly from us.
...I'm not taking anything for granted anymore.

I am going to say out loud and clear and to whoever might listen...




I am thankful for ALL that I have in my life...
  • Wonderful husband who I adore
  • Amazing family - both biological and the one into which I married
  • Lovely and supportive friends all over the world
  • The opportunity and ability to adopt and expand our family by a Little One
  • Beautiful and loving pets
  • Nice home and lovely, safe community in which to live
  • Job with caring and wonderful colleagues and enough income to go beyond having just the basic necessities to be able to live comfortably
  • Our health (knock on wood)
  • Love and laughter and joy
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

24 November 2009

Is she really gone?

I can't seem to erase Annabel's pill schedule.

It's still on the little white dry ease board on the fridge.

On Sunday when I was cleaning the kitchen I just couldn't keep looking at Annabel's Bowl sitting empty on our dining table. So away it went into the storage room.

But I just can't seem to bring myself to erase her schedule. I tried to do it yesterday and ended up in a heap of sobbing tears leaning against the fridge. I finally just had to walk away to do something else.

It's like somehow if I do it...

I'll be admitting that she's really and truly gone.

I have to pick up Annabel's ashes today on my way home from work.

Maybe afterwards...

22 November 2009

Liar, liar...

pants on fire!

I did not get out of the house today to run errands as I said I would in my last post.

I sat on the couch all day and wallowed in my grief.


Now am getting off my ass to clean the kitchen (which desperately needs cleaning.)

And to bake.

Years ago, when I was very depressed and when I discovered that I had some small talent with sugar, flour and butter, I would spend many of my "down days" perfecting my toll house cookies, attempting to re-create my Grandma Yetta's chocolate chip cookie recipe (never written down anywhere and yet to be re-created) or baking the infamous Flora's Apple Cake (infamous because of its amazing richness and fat content and the fact that it is humanly IMPOSSIBLE to eat just one slice.)

The problem with baking when you're depressed is that you tend to eat the fruits of your labor.

We'll see if I can manage to refrain from downing 3 dozen chocolate chip cookies later this evening.

Wish me luck.

I'm still really sad.

But I just can't sit around anymore.


Forest is sound asleep in her chair just a few feet away from where I am on the couch.

She dreams a lot and as a result of her dreams she twitches and makes numerous funny noises - little snorts, sighs and just a second ago - a long, low growl.

She makes me laugh.

I'm so glad that she and Cecil are here because their goofy and wonderful presence helps with the pain of losing Annabel.

It's been such a strange couple of days without Annabel.

I wake this morning to see the valley between my pillow and Chris' pillow empty. No warm, purring grey body there to pet and adore.

So strange.

Yesterday...I spend the morning writing my long post, weeping and weeping some more, and talking on the phone to so many of my very kind friends and family who are so sympathetic.

Finally, after a while I say to Chris, "I can't do this anymore. Could we just get out of here and go see a movie?"

Just to sit in a dark theater with theater treats and people who don't know anything about my grief. Just to have two hours where I don't have to hurt and ache.

And so after Chris does some yard work we head to the movies.

I feel awful saying it, but it is such a huge relief to be away from the house. To be somewhere where I don't have to be in the moment of my pain and grief. To ignore it completely. To laugh just a bit. To not think at all about the loss of the best kitty.

Sweet relief.

After the movie we run some errands and then head home.

Back to the sadness.

I sit on the couch last night flipping aimlessly through the channels. That there is no little grey body curled up in my lap is too painfully obvious. I look over to see Cecil hanging out in my office chair waiting for Chris to notice her. Knowing that my husband is deeply involved in whatever is on his computer and that he will not be noticing Cecil anytime soon, I call her over to me.

Cecil is not accustomed to being called over. There is always someone else in my lap.

Not anymore.

And so I call her, "Cecil. Come here, Sweetie!" and follow my call with the little kissing sounds that seem so universally alluring to all cats.

She jumps off my chair and comes trotting over to me, tail straight up in the air and looking very excited.

When she gets to the couch she looks at my lap and is obviously surprised to find it empty.

"Come on," I say patting my thighs. "There's no one up here. You can come up. Come on..."

And she does. She begins purring immediately and demanding that I pet her. It takes her 23 minutes before she'll actually lay down and get comfortable. Even then, when I stop petting her she finds my hand starts with the licking to get me to continue with my ministrations.

Later, it seems as if she is sound asleep, but when Chris gets out of his chair to go upstairs Cecil shoots off my lap like she has a rocket in her butt.

"Oh, fine," I call after her, "just leave me."

And she does - racing up the stairs after Chris so excited that he is no longer paying attention to his computer and may instead pay attention to her.

I can't be mad really.

Chris is Cecil's Person.

I'm someone who adores Cecil and she knows that, but Chris is Her Person.

Just as I was Annabel's Person.

I'm heading out today. Out of the house to run errands for the day. Away from the phone and the computer. Away from sitting around in my sadness and grief.

I'm coping.

But - I must admit - not very well.

20 November 2009


Annabel arrives in my life on a warm Saturday morning in early September in 1990.

I am the weekend receptionist for veterinarian Dr. Crenshaw. It's actually a quiet Saturday with relatively few appointments. One of Dr. Crenshaw's clients calls.

"Hi, this is Mrs. X," she says.

"Hi, Mrs. X. What can we do for you?"

"Well, there's a cat that's been living in our garage. My husband wouldn't let me bring her into the house."

Mrs. X's husband won't let Mrs. X bring the cat into the house because the X household is already full up with three dogs, four cats and a guinea pig.

"The cat had two kittens a few weeks ago and she was killed by a car last night. I want to bring the kittens inside, but my husband will kill me. I'm not sure what to do with these kittens."

"You can just bring them right to the Humane Society shelter. Somebody should adopt them quickly there," I reply and provide her the address.

Dr. Crenshaw's veterinary clinic is considerably closer to Mrs. X's home than the Human Society shelter and she arrives not ten minutes later with a very small box containing two very tiny kittens - one all grey and the other a grey tiger striped kitty, both mewling furiously and covered in fleas.

Mrs. X sprints out the door before I can say anything.

One of the vet techs and I give the tiny creatures flea baths after we close up shop. They squeak and cry piteously as they endure getting wet.

We have no overnight weekend stays and so no one will be coming in on Sunday. The little kitties can't stay in the clinic until Monday without someone coming to check on them.

"I can't take them," says the tech to me. "My dog will think that I've brought him a lovely snack."

I look at the two wet squally kitties and say, "OK, well I can take them for a few nights."

Notice that it doesn't occur to me to take them to the Humane Society?

By the time I arrive at home the two kitties are dry, warm and very sleepy. I lay down on my couch, turn on the TV and the kitties curl up underneath my chin for a long nap full of purring and just a little bit of kitten drool.

We are all content.

I decide then and there that I'll "keep just one of them" and take the other to the Humane Society on Monday.

How to decide which to keep?

Francis is clingy and needy, always wanting to be with me and mewling pitifully when I'm not willing to hold him.

Annabel is much more independent. The Adventurer.

It is Annabel who figures out how to open the glass fronted built-in cabinet doors and climb inside with my cookbooks. It's Annabel who is the first to explore my apartment. And Annabel who figures out (and quickly learns never to do so again) how to pull the shower lever to turn on the shower...while she and Francis are in the tub.

How to decide which to keep?

Francis - the tiger kitty - stays with me for nine years until he becomes very ill and has to be euthanized in 1999.

Annabel lives with me to the ripe old age of 19 years and 4 months...until yesterday when Chris and I have to say goodbye to her at the Bay State Emergency Veterinary Clinic.

Until yesterday the saying in our house was always, "It's all about Annabel."

Not because she is a demanding and terrible and cranky and grumpy (a little like our Cecil), but because she is so sweet and lovely and loving and funny.

Everyone who meets her falls in love with Annabel.

Even our friend D who is a confirmed Dog Guy and just as confirmed Not A Cat Guy seemed to think she Annabel was pretty OK...

For a cat.

Annabel fell in love with D on his first visit to our house. When he would come for game nights here at our house, Annabel would make a beeline for his lap. D is very tall and has very long legs and Annabel seemed to take great joy in stretching out to her full length along his thighs. She would close her eyes and purr contentedly.

D even gave her a little scratch or two.

"She's all right," D would say.

Part of Annabel's charm was the way she would talk to everyone. Little chirps and meows. As she grew older, her gentle "meow" turned into a louder and more insistent "Mrow!!"

Still charming.

When Francis was alive, Annabel was a very quiet cat. Francis did all of the talking for the two of them. He meowed often, though not loudly. For a 20+ pound cat, Francis sounded for all the world like a teeny tiny kitten. Francis liked to be the center of my world. He spent as much time in my lap as possible and talking to me as much as possible.

Annabel took whatever of my attention she could get when Francis wasn't monopolizing me.

After Francis was gone it took about a month for Annabel to fully realize that he was not coming back and that she had me all to herself. She would wander around my apartment searching for Francis all the while shooting me puzzled looks about his continued absence.

At the end of a month, Annabel discovered her voice.

With Francis no longer there doing all of the talking, Annabel realized that she had something to say. Nine years' worth of Annabel's silence came to a crashing and loud end. She began chirping and meowing and chatting...all of what she had to say that she had kept to herself came tumbling out and never stopped.

At the end of that same month Annabel discovered my lap and spent the next ten years there whenever I sat or lay down on the couch.

Often when I'm downstairs watching TV or in the living room reading a book, I'll look down and there will be Annabel sacked out in my lap.

"How long have you been there?" I'll ask.

When she wasn't in my lap, Annabel could usually be found in her bowl.

"Her 'bowl'?" you ask.

Chris' aunt and uncle gave us a beautiful ceramic bowl as a wedding present. It has sat on our dining table since we were married. And when we moved to this house five years ago, Annabel claimed the bowl as her own. It was just the right size for her to curl up in it to relax or sleep.

Annabel's Bowl.

We have some great photos of Annabel in her Bowl.

The only "person" who didn't like Annabel is Forest.

When I met Forest in 2000, she was a very shy little kitty. Prone to hiding for hours at a time behind the couch when a new person came to visit Chris' apartment.

However, it didn't take long for Forest to recognize me as a cat person and when I would come to visit she would leap onto Chris' kitchen table, tail straight up in the air, purring like mad and wanting my attention. We became fast friends.

And then came Annabel.

Chris and I kept our cats separated for the first week that we all lived together in our rented house in Newport. Annabel stayed in the guest room while Forest and Cecil stayed in our office. We let them all out at separate times so they could get used to each other's smells and the new house. After a week, we let them all meet face to face.

There was no fighting, but it became evident that Forest felt little but contempt and dislike for the Grey Intruder.

And it became just as evident that Forest had some kind of personality transplant as a result of Annabel's arrival in her life.

Forest became the House Bad Ass.

She did a 180 and turned into a confident, outgoing and assertive cat...directing most of that assertiveness at a very perplexed Annabel.

In almost ten years' time, Forest never came to accept Annabel, who made the very occasional and very unsuccessful attempt to befriend Forest, but there was never any true cat fighting. They pretty much left each other alone except for some occasional hissing and batting at each other when they came upon one other unexpectedly.

Everyone else loved Annabel.

"She's SO beautiful!" people would exclaim upon first meeting Annabel.

As much as I loved her and thought she was the most wonderful creature on the planet (sorry, Chris), I never thought of her as "SO beautiful!" She was grey - sleek and shiny for most of her life - with yellow eyes. Pretty, certainly, but beautiful? I guess she was. It's wonderful that others thought so.

And not only would people be amazed by her beauty, but they would be charmed by her friendliness and her desire to get to know them. She was like a little dog in a cat disguise - always wanting to be around the action and with the people visiting our house. Wanting to hang out with everyone.

Annabel was also the Queen of the "Head Butt."

She would gently head butt visitors with her forehead to get their attention.

And she would certainly head butt us.

Chris and I would be sitting at the dining table talking at the end of a work day and Annabel would come to each of us in turn to head butt our shoulders or chins or hands. A "head butt" that clearly said, "Hello. I missed you today. I love you. You can feel free to give me some attention now."

Occasionally Annabel would sometimes employ the Head Butt to wake us up in the mornings. Unfortunately, she more often then not chose to employ a much more vigorous head butt right to Chris' or my forehead.


"Ow," we would say, "Annabel, you have a very hard head."

"Mrow!" she would reply.

And then do it again.


Annabel liked to join us at the dinner table. Chris sat at the head of the table. I sat at Chris' right and Annabel sat at his left on the dining bench, her little head just peeking up over the edge of the table.

Our other cats might wander around under the table hoping for the odd scrap, but Annabel firmly believed that she belonged at the dinner table with us.

(That Chris quite often hand fed her little pieces of bacon, steak, meatloaf or chicken pretty much reinforced her inclination to join us for dinner.)

Annabel's habit of joining us at the dinner table extended to those times that we invited other folks to over for dinner. We'd be just starting our meal when whoever was sitting on the bench would get a lovely surprise - little Annabel popping up between them to join us for the meal.

When it came to kitty food, as Annabel grew older she became something of a picky eater... enjoying one brand and flavor canned food for a week or two and then turning her nose up at it. As a result of suffering from IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), Annabel not only got canned food, but organic, gluten-free, chemical-free, meat-by-product-free canned food.

Basically - food that cost a small fortune.

But, of course, she was worth it.

Up until the last few weeks of her life, she loved to play. Chris keeps a laser pointer on his bedside table for just that purpose.

The Laser.

Annabel's favorite toy.

When she was in really fine form, she'd run into the bedroom, leap on the bed and wait for one of us. Then she'd look at Chris' bedside stand and then at us. And then at Chris' bedside stand and then at us.

"You want to play with The Laser?"


And out would come The Laser...that infuriating little red dot that she could never quite seem to capture, but which she took great delight in trying to do so for almost ten years. Round and round and round in circles on the floor she'd go! Up onto the bed and round in circles there! And back to the floor! And jumping up on the wall!

Damn red dot!

Her sides would heave from the exertion, but her eyes would alight with wild kitty joy at the chase.

She had her thousands of calm and cute times, too.

"Are you the best kitty in the whole world?" I would ask her quietly as she lay on the bed. She would look up at me, roll onto her side and do that wonderful looooooonnnnggggg kitty stretch to let me pet her belly.

She was just charming and sweet.

And funny and loving.

And goofy.

And loud.

And I can't believe that she's gone.

As I write this post, it seems so wrong to be referring to her in the past tense.

So very wrong.

She's Annabel.

She's going to live forever, isn't she?

But, no...

And now I won't hear her funny "Mrow!!" when I walk into the house at night. Or look down and notice that she's in my lap and that I've been unconsciously petting her as I always do. Or be able to pet her in the middle of the night when I wake up to find her still nestled into the valley between my pillow and Chris' pillow. Or listen to her funny little purr - the soft purr that used to slip out gently through her nose. Or see her curled up in her bowl sleeping the deepest of kitty sleep. Or watch her little body tremble with excitement as I pull The Laser from Chris' nightstand. Or say, "Annabel, you're killin' me!" when she turns up her nose at her food and then joyfully gobbles down the third flavor that I present to her. Or have her company in the guest room when I have insomnia at 1:17 a.m. Or watch her greet all of our guests and select which lap she'd like to be in for the evening. Or watch her investigate the tool box of the furnace guy when he comes to do the yearly maintenance and then go to make friends with the furnace guy. Or enjoy watching her sit by the open front door in the summer. Or call to her "Annabel! We're down here!" when she's howling for us from the top of the stairs. Or see her appear groggy and rumpled from a long nap in the guest room. Or wonder at her choice to sit on the very corner of our dining table. Or say, "Annabel, you are very opaque" during those times that she would get off my lap and hop onto the coffee table for a good stretch right in front of the tv screen. Or laugh at her when she would play in her water dish or demand to drink water from the bathroom tap and accidentally snort some water up her nose. Or laugh at the way she would lick sour cream off of the spoon that Chris offered her and come away with sour cream all over her face and whiskers. Or talk to her when I'm feeling sad and have her head butt my chin in response and know that somehow everything is going to be OK. Or comment, "Annabel with those crazy long whiskers!" Or say to her, "Annabel, OK. I'm coming," as she would "Mrow! Mrow! Mrow!" for her breakfast early on a Saturday morning. Or laugh hysterically at her as she dives into the piles of tissue paper on the couch at Christmas time as we trim the tree. Or be able to scratch that favorite spot right behind her ears...the spot that makes her close her eyes and tip her head to the side for more, more, more. Or be able to ask her over and over and mean it, "Who's the best kitty in the whole world? Hmmm? Is that you? Who's the very best kitty in the whole world?"

Or see and experience and enjoy and share any of the other million and seven hundred little things that made Annabel who she was - the most special cat ever.

I'm so sad right now. Crying as I write these words and trying to figure out how to move through this tremendous grief I'm experiencing. Trying to figure out how I'm going to go through life without her.

Being with her right until the very last moment of her life after having been with her since she was 4 weeks old...Watching her take her very last breath was one of the hardest things that I've ever had to do. But I'm so glad that Chris and I were there to love her and and pet her and talk to her and adore her until the very end.

A number of people with whom I spoke yesterday said that she was such a lucky cat to have had me, but the truth is that I'm the lucky one.

I'm the very luckiest person in the world because somehow that little bundle of furry sparkling wonderfulness ended up in my life for so very long. I didn't always deserve her, but I always loved and adored her.

She will be missed.


For the rest of my life.

Miss Annabel.

The Grey Bullet.


19 November 2009

"Outing" myself...

I'm flipping through the channels last evening after a long day at work.

Chris is at his computer.

I hear a chuckle from across the room.

"What are you laughing at?" I ask.

"I'm reading your post - 'The yuck factor...' I like it," he replies and returns to reading.

"Really? You like it?"

"Yeah. It's REALLY good."

I can feel myself blushing and glowing at my husband's praise.

Chris is a great writer. He's fast, talented, funny, and I truly admire all of his work...So when he reads my work and compliments it...well, let's just say that I turn into a great big dork with a ridiculously huge goofy grin on my face.

So I wake up this morning still basking the glow of his compliment, feeling the urge to write and then I realize...


What am I going to write about?

No great adoption revelations yesterday. And no new news on the adoption front either since we just mailed off the last of the stuff (and may I add that it feels really weird to come home each day and NOT have adoption stuff to do...)

So I find myself writing not about adoption, but instead about my writing.

How stupid is that?

Vanity, thy name is Jennifer!

But it's true.

I've kept a journal for more than half my life. Writing, writing, writing all of the time my deepest, darkest thoughts and my not-so-dark thoughts as well. And then along comes the Internet and my discovery of the world of blogging and suddenly...

My inner writer wants OUT.

Oh no.

Oh dear.

No more keeping my thoughts and incredibly keen and clever insights all to myself.

My inner writer wants someone ELSE to read my words! Wants to affect others - to make them laugh, cry, think, reflect, react, and - dare I even admit it? - to have others say about me, "Wow, she's a great writer."

The ultimate compliment.

"She's a great writer."

It almost makes me swoon to think about getting that kind of praise.

The other day one of my colleagues said in passing, "I just love the stuff you write. I keep wanting to comment, but I don't know how. I'll have to figure that out."

Her compliment keeps me glowing for the rest of the day.

And, of course, the inner writer in me shrieks, "Go show her how to leave a comment so she can compliment your work right on the blog!"


Just awful.

When did I become this crazy vain person?

This writer?

Have I always been this way???


So here I am in my little corner of the blogging world. I write about whatever I want, whenever I want. There is a great amount of satisfaction in seeing my words posted online for the world to see and an even greater amount of joy in the process of creating each post for folks to read if they choose.

I even have a few followers (Thank you! Oh, thank you!)

Am I a great writer? I don't know (and, no, I'm not looking for compliments - seriously...), but I do know that I love writing.

So, the next time that Chris compliments my work...well, as much as I'll try not to do it, I just know that I will once again turn into a huge grinning blob of happiness.


Just awful

Feel free to leave a compliment - er - I mean - a comment...

18 November 2009

The "yuck" factor...

OK, I admit it.

I'm a lemming.

I've now joined the legions of other lemmings who went over the cliff to follow McDreamy and Meredith along their improbable romantic journey on Grey's Anatomy.

I'm not a rabid lemming because I'm several seasons behind having only just gotten caught up in the Meredith/McDreamy saga in re-runs on whatever channel happens to be channel 40 in my viewing area and whenever I happen to be home to catch an episode or two.

The episode I watched last night left me feeling sort of....well, "yuck" if you must know.

It turns out that Dr. Izzy has a daughter that she gave up for adoption.




That's not the "yuck" factor.

I imagine that there are many Izzy-s out there - successful women who have children that they are not parenting - children that are being raised by others.

The "yuck" factor in the storyline is that the GA writers opt to tell Izzy's adoption story via every bad adoption cliché they could think of - Izzy grew up poor, in a trailer park (no!), had uneducated parents, got herself pregnant at 16 (really???) but knew that a baby would screw up any chance of her ever getting away from her trailer trash life, etc. etc. etc.

Could the writers have gone for any more awful clichés about a woman who pursues adoption for her child? Could they have been any less thoughtful in their presentation of what adoption looks like?

Please don't get me wrong - I'm sure that that there really are those stories out there. I certainly don't want to bash any young woman who chooses to put up her child for adoption because she is certain that she doesn't have the resources to care for her child and wants to make a better life for herself and her child.

But what makes Izzy's storyline so yucky is that people who are not involved in adoption just assume that children who are placed for adoption only come from the kind of situation the GA writers describe...when the reality is that there are so many situations that involve adoption - much more so than just "young poor girl gets pregnant."

The GA episode takes an even yuckier turn when Izzy counsels (in a very heavy-handed way) a 16 year-old pregnant girl in her care to give up her baby for adoption.

"You're smart," Izzy says to the girl, "You read Shakespeare to your baby now, but after you've worked a 12-hour shift at the truck stop you won't be reading Shakespeare to your baby then."


Now if I'm honest I can and will admit that I am of the opinion that a 16 year-old girl is likely not going to be well equipped or have the resources to adequately parent a child. However, I will also admit that I could be wrong and that that may not necessarily always be the case. Perhaps there are young women out there who - with support - could make a good life for themselves and their children. Not many, but maybe.

The way Izzy swoops in to counsel the young girl in the GA episode... It reminded me of everything that's wrong with adoption today - some well-meaning person telling - not asking but telling - a girl or woman what she should do and what's best for her and her baby. The well-meaning person assuming that he/she knows better and knows what's best.

In the episode the 16 year-old girl's mother is furious with Izzy for trying to convince the girl to give up her baby. The girl's mother wants to help parent the child. Izzy pretty much lays the same "You're daughter is smart" line on the mother and then storms away without waiting to hear what the girl's mother has to say.

Did it ever occur to Izzy (or to the GA writers for that matter) to ASK the girl and her mother about their parenting plan? Or to consider the fact that the mother of this 16 year-old girl wanted to be there to help parent her grandchild?

To go beyond the assumption.

This may sound strange coming from a me - a woman who is preparing to adopt.

But it isn't.

I would very much like to know that the girl or woman who is preparing to give up her child to me - whatever her age, race, socioeconomic situation - has been presented with and has considered ALL of her options. That she is making the most informed decision she can. That she isn't being pressured or coerced into adoption. If she wants to parent and has family that are willing to support her and help parent her child, who am I or anyone else to to say that she would be better off giving up her child for adoption?

Grey's Anatomy is a ridiculous show...over the top and heavy-handed in just about all of its storylines. It's not like I expect anything more than mindless entertainment when I fall off the cliff to watch it, but it would have been nice if the writers could have just this once seen beyond the cliché...gone beyond the assumption.

17 November 2009

Follow up...

I'm finding it hard to write after my last very long post.

How do I follow up on that?

Part of me wanted to write something very light-hearted, witty and amusing, but I'm not in that frame of mind at the moment.

Still feeling kind of pensive.

And tired.

All of the emotion of the last few days combined with the intensity of my job has left me feeling worn out... (so, it's a good thing that I'm awake and blogging at 11:26 p.m. on a work night...) There are still thoughts rattling around in my brain about compassion and adoption, but now that I am actually setting fingers to clackering away at my keyboard, I find myself too tired to organize my thoughts into any semblance of coherence. As my old camp friend Lisa W. used to say every morning as we dragged ourselves into the Lodge for a few minutes of peace without our campers, "Lord, I am dragging ass today!"

So, I will save my ramblings for another evening when I am feeling a bit more energetic.

Before I go, just want to take a moment to thank Kathryn, Anonymous, Amanda and Dawn for your lovely comments on the "Compassion..." post.


15 November 2009


com·pas·sion (noun)
sympathy for the suffering of others, often including a desire to help

We're now in the waiting stage. Chris just mailed off the very last batch of adoption "stuff" on Friday. The adoption facilitators will take the next few weeks to assemble our various electronic and print profiles. Once those are done, we wait for an expectant mother to choose us and the we proceed from there.

So, shouldn't I be over the moon with excitement and anticipation right about now?


Strangely, what I find myself feeling instead is...pensive.

Kind and very well-meaning friends say things to me like, "Wow! So that means that your baby is already getting ready to be born soon!"

Yes, this is true. Amazing and true.

But it also means that there is an expectant mother out there who is struggling under the weight of making the decision to give up her child to me.

She is suffering and that troubles me.

Maybe she is poor and feels she just doesn't have the resources to raise this child. Or maybe she already has other children and feels that the addition of this child to her family would be just too overwhelming for her. Maybe she is very young and doesn't feel ready for motherhood. Maybe she isn't young, but still doesn't feel ready for motherhood.




Regardless of what brought her to this point, she is thinking about putting her child up for adoption and I can only imagine what is happening in this woman's mind and heavy heart.

A number of people have said that they worry that I'm thinking way too much about the "birthmother" who is "making her own choice" and that I should just focus on becoming a mother myself.

But, tell me, honestly how can I do that? How can I NOT think about the suffering of this expectant mother?

Is it right for me to just set aside her feelings in favor of my own?


The adoption industry pretty much sells the idea that "birthmothers" (goodness, how I dislike that term) leave the adoption process and after a few years just "move on" with their lives and get over it.

But I don't believe that.

What woman could spend 9 months with a child growing inside of her and just walk away from that child and "move on"?

There must be grief - a lifelong grief that any woman would experience at having handed over her child to strangers to raise.

Shouldn't I have compassion for her?

Just as somehow she has enough compassion for me to give me the most precious thing she has - her child?

I think about it this way...

What if my sister had to give up a child for adoption?

What if it was my sister-in-law?

Or any of my friends or colleagues?

Wouldn't I want the adoption industry and the adoptive parents to look out for my sister or my sister-in-law or my friend or colleague?

To be compassionate with her and to treat her like a human being who is fragile and has feelings and who is suffering as a result of having to make this decision?


And so I think about this woman who is out there right now struggling to make this decision for herself, for her child and, ultimately for Chris and me. I am thinking of this woman who is the mother of the child that Chris and I will eventually raise. This woman who is someone's sister, someone's friend, someone's daughter and who will soon be related to me and my family because Chris and I will be raising her child.

So I would like to be compassionate, but to also move beyond compassion to action.

As strange as it may sound to others, I believe that this woman should have the opportunity to know her child and not to be left to a lifetime of wondering and grieving. And that this child that will become ours should have the opportunity to know her mother from the start of life - not 18 years later "in reunion" with all of its attendant life-altering disruption and confusion - to actually have a life-long relationship and to hear directly from the source the why of her adoption. I believe that our child should not be left with a lifetime of wondering about her biological mother and family.

Moving through our child's life with honesty, openness and integrity and without secrets and lies seems to me the best way that we can be a family - And very likely this means navigating new, non-traditional and possibly awkward, uncomfortable and challenging situations and relationships.

But I believe that we should do this...

Without fear of the unknown.

Without judgment.

With compassion for each other.

Will this become our reality?

I don't know. There are so many variables, but in my mind and heart I am committed to working with Chris and the mother of this child to see how we can best move forward through this adoption - for the good of everyone involved.

The world of adoption and compassion...

Based on my limited experience so far in the world of adoption - one of the things that has shocked me most is the incredible amount of judgment out there and the awful, awful lack of compassion that many women seem to have for each other...

  • Adult adoptees who are furious at their biological mothers for giving them up for adoption.
  • Adult adoptees who judge their biological mothers as selfish for walking away from them and often judge their adoptive mothers just as selfish if not more so for adopting them away from their biological families.
  • Biological mothers who rage against women struggling with infertility who pursue adoption as a means of becoming parents.
  • Biological mothers who are angry at the children who they surrendered to adoption who don't want contact as adults.
  • Biological mothers who rage against the adoption industry for its manipulativeness.
  • Adoptive mothers who are angry at the biological mothers that want more or even any contact with the children they surrendered for adoption.
  • Adoptive mothers who are angry with their adult adopted children for wanting more or even any contact with their biological families.
  • Adoptive mothers who judge biological mothers as terrible for surrendering their children to adoption.
  • The list goes on and on.

Why is it that we can't simply recognize that we ALL come to adoption from a place of deep hurt and pain?

How can I look without compassion at a woman who has been struggling for years to get pregnant and become a mother? How can I - or any woman - not feel for this woman who has been struggling with the pain of infertility?

And how can I look without compassion at a woman who gave up her child for adoption (for whatever reason!) and is suffering because she has spent her life regretting her decision and/or wondering and worrying about that child? Doesn't she deserve our compassion, too?

Or what about the adult adoptee who is battling to get her original birth certificate, to find her biological family or is in the midst of an awkward and disruptive reunion? Shouldn't we feel for her suffering?

I do, but it doesn't seem to be that way for many in this topsy-turvy world of adoption.

There is a distinct lack of compassion on all sides.

What surprises me most is not just the lack of compassion, but the downright surplus of anger and viciousness that exists out there - especially in the adoption blogging world. Women from all sides of adoption spend time villainizing, demonizing, judging, denigrating, and disparaging each other with a cruelty that dismays and saddens me to my very core.

And at the heart of this cruelty and viciousness there seems to be a sort of "my pain is greater then your pain" mantra out there in the world of adoption.


Is your pain greater than mine?

Is my pain greater than yours?

I don't think so.

Wouldn't it be better for all parties in the world of adoption if we acknowledged that we have ALL struggled in different ways? Wouldn't it be healthier if we tried supporting each other instead of tearing each other down?

I guess what bothers me most in all of this is not the "my pain is greater than your pain" thing, but the fact that quite often the women in this world seem to view each other as thoughtless, selfish creatures who are incapable of compassion or thinking of anyone beyond themselves.

How can we think that about each other?

12 November 2009

28 questions...

28 questions.

That's how many we had to answer on the second to last adoption questionnaire.

28 questions:

The basic and innocuous:

What is your favorite food?
Do you play any musical instruments?

The serious and thought provoking:

What do you hope to teach your children?
How will you help your child accomplish his/her dreams?

The so hard to answer:

What will you tell your child about his/her birthmother?

The vomitous and upsetting:

What makes a birthmom special?

The answers soon...

10 November 2009

Insomnia...part 2

We settle into our very comfy king size bed rather late last evening...or rather - very early this morning. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 1:00 a.m.

Why such a stupid hour on a school night?

Because Chris didn't make it home until 9:30 last evening after working a ridiculously long day.

"My plan of getting out of my office by 6:00 p.m. from now on got derailed on the first day of implementation!" Chris laments in a phone call to me at 7:30 p.m.

Gotta love his job.

So I stay up until he arrives home. We have a good conversation and then we settle down to watch the episode of"House" that has been recorded on the DVR.

"You awake enough to watch 'Castle'?" Chris asks at the conclusion of "House."

"Sure!" I trill enthusiastically, looking forward to 48 minutes of Nathan Fillion's "Castle" making numerous clever remarks to Stana Katic's "Beckett." How fun!

My fatal error.

Once I pass 11:00 p.m....the dreaded Second Wind kicks in.

Suddenly, after a great episode of "Castle" I find myself wide awake and reading my favorite blogs, loafing on Facebook, watching a few YouTube videos and by 12:30 I am still not in bed.


When we finally do crawl into bed after all of our foozling around, I get nice and comfy. Forest is on the bed with us purring like crazy. Chris sounds like he is going to fall away at any moment.

And I'm lying there wide awake.

There is NO sleep happening for me.


So, I grab my book, my pillow and my alarm clock and begin the dreaded journey to the guest room to read.

"You OK?" Chris asks groggily as I start to gather my things.

"Yeah, just can't sleep. I'm gonna go read," I say grumpily.

"Hope you manage to get some sleep. I love you," my sleepy husband says to me as he's rolling over. Seconds later I hear him snoring.

Usually during my nocturnal guest room reading sessions, Annabel joins me. With a loud "Mrow!" to indicate her displeasure at my still being awake she'll settle in right next to my pillow and then sigh and sigh again with obvious annoyance that the light is still on.

Not last night.

Annabel is already sacked out somewhere else in the house.

So I am alone and awake with just my book for company.

And now its early and I'm getting ready to head off to work feeling like my head is stuffed with cotton.

It's mornings like this that I wonder if Schmoopie will be a champion sleeper (please!) or will she be an insomniac baby who needs all kinds of TLC in the middle of the night. And will any of her potential nocturnal forays into wakefulness coincide with my bouts of insomnia or will we be on opposite schedules and both exhausted and grumpy during the day?

Oh, the anticipation...


Off to work.

08 November 2009

The domestics...part 2

"I liked your blog post," Chris says to me upon my return from the grocery store.

"Well, it's all true, isn't it?" I reply.

He looks off into the distance for a second with just the slightest hint of a rueful grin, "Yeah...well at least I know what my super hero name would be if I was a super hero."

"'Super Duper Laundry Guy'?"

"Yup. I like it."

Super Duper Laundry Guy gets in the Super Laundry Car (also known fondly as "Sam") and heads off to the hardware store.

Super Duper Shopping Girls saves the day - she unloads the groceries and begins to make beef stew!!!

The domestics...

"I'm doing 'the domestics' today," my mom will say to me during one of our weekly phone calls.

"The domestics" would be shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry.

The purview of women all over the world.

And let's face, of many men, too...my husband being one of them. He is much more inclined toward doing the domestics than I am. He is Super Duper Laundry Guy in our home. He is the one who is much more likely to cook after a long day at work. He is the one who takes the time to clean up the kitchen most days. Goodness knows that I am VERY lucky to have married this lovely domestically inclined man!

Me...once I'm done with a long day at work...I'm done.

With everything.

I get home from my crazy job to flop down on the couch with the tv or a book and that's my evening.

Not much of a domestics doing kind of gal at the moment.

Chris and I have made a lovely home together. However (quite frankly), with the amount of time and energy that both of us expend in our professional lives, our beautiful home most often ends up being something of a cluttered disaster area. We just don't have the time or energy to get to anything beyond laundry (and even that is minimal...Chris is Super Duper Laundry Doing Guy, but I am no Super Duper Laundry Putting Away Gal...We mostly live out of laundry baskets, which drives more my poor husband crazy.)

Doing the domestics...

Believe it or not, I am actually really looking forward to maternity leave and dropping down to part-time work to focus on parenting and really LEARNING and DOING and perhaps even mastering the domestics. Something I've never in my adult life taken the time to do because I've always focused on things outside of the home.

"Maybe you'll really like being at home," my mom says to me last evening.

Maybe I will indeed.

So, in the spirit of learning and doing the domestics...this morning I am heading to the grocery to store select and purchase all of the ingredients necessary for a hearty beef stew. I will return home to make said stew and then will practice the domestic art of cleaning the house in preparation for a visit from the in-laws this evening.

It's an ambitious plan for a not-so-domestically-inclined-gal, but I'm taking on the challenge!

Wish me luck...

07 November 2009


There are a number of blogs that I read from time to time - not often - of adult adoptees, many of whom appear to be quite angry and bitter about their life circumstances - particularly their lives as children of adoption.

(Please note that I am NOT making a generalization about all adult adoptees...and that I also read some really lovely blogs of adult adoptees who seem quite happy and well-adjusted.)

The general refrain from the unhappy adult adoptee seems to be:

I didn't get to choose my parents.


I didn't have a choice.

Please know that I don't in any way want to disparage the folks who write these blogs. These are people who are obviously in a great deal of pain and express that pain through their writing, just I as I express my pains, joys and other feelings through the writing on this blog. I truly wish them peace and hope that they can find their way through the pain and anger to a place where they can be happy.

However, what I can't help thinking when I read their same "no choice" refrains in so many places is:

I didn't get to choose my parents either.

I was born to the people to whom I was born.

The reality is that NONE OF US have a choice about the families that we are either born into or adopted into.

None of us gets to choose.

Now...I will admit that I lucked out.

I was born to kind people who worked hard, provided for me, loved me, educated me, and helped me in every possible way they could to grow into a successful and happy adult.

But I could just have easily been born to less caring people or people who had addictions or folks that didn't have the same resources or ability to provide for me.

The luck of the draw was with me.

But I didn't have a choice.

Children don't have choices in regards to their families.

As adults, however, we have certain choices.

We have choices about how we respond and react to our families, to the way we grew up, to the way we were treated and how we treat others. We have choices about whether we want to stay in contact with abusive or dysfunctional families, about whether or not we need to seek counseling to deal with our inner turmoil and family traumas, and about how we choose to move forward as adults if our lives haven't turned out exactly the way we had hoped or dreamed they would.

Even though I was born into a pretty darned good family, we've still had our issues and we've all had to make choices. As an adult I've had to work through my issues and make my choices about how I will move through the world as a part of my family - just as I'm sure my parents and sister have had to make their choices about how they will deal with me as part of the family.

We choose to continue to be a family and to be in each others' lives - to support each other and love each other and work through whatever we need to work through as a family.

My husband and I will soon have new choices to make - choices about how we will parent and how we will support and love our daughter. We'll do the best we can and hope that our Little One will grow into a happy, well-adjusted adult who will recognize that she has a choice in the way she moves through the world.

06 November 2009


My mom is a book nut.

Not only is she a book nut, but she is a book nut who buys all of her books....a habit that she instilled in me as I was growing up.

My parents' house is filled with books.

When I was a kid a trip to a toy store was a rare thing, but visits to our local bookstore occurred regular as clockwork. In general, my mom would let - and even encourage - my sister and I to pick just about any books that our hearts desired and she would buy them for us. We each had our own very impressive libraries housed in our bedrooms.

As we grew older, my interest in reading books and owning them grew exponentially.

As an adult, even when I was not earning much money and was living on my own, I couldn't seem to stop myself from buying books. When new books proved to be too expensive I found several wonderful used book stores where I spent hours poring over the shelves in search of just the right book to satisfy my mood and fit within my limited means (usually about $1.25 in my pocket.) Occasionally, if it came down to a choice between spending my last $5 on food or a book, I chose the book.

All of this book buying eventually gets just a bit out of hand.

When I need to make the move from the Midwest to Rhode Island I opt to sell or donate most of my belongings rather than haul them across country.

I don't realize how many books I actually own until I have to move. Each bookcase contains double rows of all of my favorite fiction, fantasy, sci fi and mysteries. I painstakingly sort through my collection culling out the favorites that I just can't live without.

There are still an alarming number of books in my "keep" pile.

More culling.

How had I amassed SO many books?

And, more importantly, how on earth had I fit them into my teeny teeny tiny little apartment???

In the end, I haul 780 books to my favorite used book store. The owner (and my boss at the time) looks at my books and then at me. And then at all of the books again.

"How many???" he asks me again.

"781..." I say sheepishly.

He shakes his head and grins.

He doesn't purchase all of my treasures, but the majority of them. Those he doesn't buy I give to him for the dime bin.

Remarkably, I still ship 14 boxes of books to Chris.

Our house today is filled with books because - like me - and my mother - Chris is a book-buying-book-nut, too. (That, and everyone we know gives us books as gifts.)

A while back we had to cull through our rather embarrassingly large collection because we had simply run out of shelf space. Books were piling up in odd places. So we have a yard sale. And those that we don't sell at the yard sale, Chris takes to the library to donate.

The woman at the library asks for Chris' name and address for the donation form and then how many books he is donating.

"331," Chris replies cheerfully.

The woman starts to write this down, looks up at him in astonishment and says, "Excuse me. How many books did you say you're donating??"

"331," Chris says again, this time a little unsure.

Apparently this is the largest book donation this particular librarian has taken in quite some time. Chris reports back she looked pretty shocked.

Since then, we have managed to amass more books.

We have reached saturation.


Luckily, our town's library restoration and expansion was recently completed and we have made something of a commitment to try to stop buying our books and instead avail ourselves of the library's wonderful facilities and growing collections.

I hadn't had a library card since I was a kid. I had forgotten how fun it is to pick out books without the worry of, "How the heck am I going to pay for all of these?" and how nice it is to know that should you select a book that turns out not to appeal - you can simply return it.

No hassles.

In my first trip to our new and improved library I come away with 6 books, which I devour long before their due dates.

I've continue to purchase a few books here and there, but am trying to make myself use the library to save money and the rather limited space in our small home.

And I'm really looking forward to taking Schmoopie to the Children's Section at our local library. It's big, airy, light, has a huge collection of books and many wonderful spaces where kids and parents can flop down on the floor to read or snuggle up on window seats together to explore a new book or revisit an old favorite.

I'm sure that we'll probably want to buy our Little One books. I'm just as sure that she'll get them as gifts. But sincerely I hope that Chris and I can instill in her the joy of spending time in our local library.

Need any books?

I have the feeling we'll be having another yard sale again soon...