28 January 2010

Why...I love my husband part 2

Last evening...

Chris and I arrive home at the same time (late...) We get inside the house dumping bags and keys and coats and other miscellaneous stuff just inside the front door.

Check the messages (none.)
Pet the cat (very whiny and demanding.)
Look at the mail (just Newsweek.)
Put away things from grocery store (shower gel, yogurt, gluten-free bread.)
Chat (about our days and our usual frustrations.)

As I'm puttering around the kitchen, Chris approaches me with a grin on his face and something obviously being held behind his back.

"What did you do?" I ask him.

His grin gets a little bigger and he brings forth from around his back a present dressed in lovely floral wrapping paper. A little whisper of spring.

Hmmm...have I forgotten some major milestone?

It's not our wedding anniversary or the anniversary of our first e-mail. Not my birthday.

Nope, no milestone that I can think.

"What's this for?" I ask as I gently start prying open the wrapping paper (it's so pretty that I don't want to tear it up.)

"Well," he says, "it's for you to celebrate how well you're doing in your commitment to getting healthy. You've been working really hard."

"Really?" I say as the wrapping paper finally falls away in my hands to reveal 9 Dragons by Michael Connelly, one of my favorite authors. "Oh, Sweetie, you didn't have to do this!"

"I know, but I wanted to. You deserve it."

It's official.

I am a very, very lucky woman.

25 January 2010

Why...I love my husband

We're in the kitchen this evening taking care of a little cleaning and prepping of dinner. Chris is washing the few dirty dishes that remain from the weekend. I am holding some lettuce leaves waiting for the sink to become available so that I can wash them for our salad.

Our conversation:

ME: [looking at the Romaine lettuce leaves in my hands] You know my favorite author - Barbara Pym.

CHRIS: Yyyeeessss?

ME: Well, I love it how in so many of her novels these very proper English women of the 1940s lament the fact that they just can't properly "dress a lettuce." [the sink becomes available and I wash the lettuce leaves] Or how some of her English lady characters whisper nastily about some other English lady, "Well, SHE doesn't even know how to properly dress a lettuce!"

CHRIS: [chuckles then pauses] How DO you properly "dress a lettuce"?

ME: [making salad and about to answer, but cut off by Chris still musing aloud on the proper way to dress a lettuce]

CHRIS: Tuxedo? [pause] Cummerbund? String tie?

Now it's my turn to chuckle.

24 January 2010

Living healthy...

It would seem that I haven't been blogging nearly as much as I had been in the recent past. Apparently my plan to live life in the present moment has cut into my computer time.

Is this such a bad thing?


I've been busy with being busy - especially with the "getting healthier" part of being busy. My commitment to be a good example for our Little One seems to be getting stronger everyday.

Spent quality time at the gym everyday this last week - even when I had two 8:00 a.m. meetings. I hauled my butt (all of it! although there is a little less of it now...) out of bed at 4:45 a.m. to get myself to the gym.

Not that I'm bragging.

Oh hell yeah, I'm bragging!

But seriously, it's all been good and surely as I get more efficient at the gym I'll be able to get back to blogging a bit more regularly, although not too much because I want to keep moving more than I'm sitting still.

(Even the New York Times, bastion of all knowledge and all things written, writes that sitting around too much is a bad thing.)

The next part of my living in the present moment and getting healthy plan is to join my colleagues and thousands of others in the 5th Annual Shape Up Campaign.

Now, if you're not from Rhode Island, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about.

Shape Up RI is a program that was started 5 years ago by a brilliant young Brown Medical student, Rajiv Kumar, to get Rhode Islanders (who, at the time, were apparently some of the most unhealthy and overweight folks in the U.S.) off of their big flabby keesters and into some kind of exercise program from February through May.

In the first year, there were 1,738 Shape Up participants who lost a total of 5,911 pounds during the 12 week program. Last year, 13,071 participants shed an amazing 45,106 pounds. The program has become so popular that it's expanded to include a summer challenge as well.

To join Shape Up you need to be part of a team. Businesses around the state usually put together teams. The non-profit where I work has taken something of a movie/movie star approach to our team names: The Lethal Weapons, Chuck Norris, and Kat's Karate Kids.

I'm one of the Karate Kids.

I must admit to being just the tiniest bit nervous about the team competition aspect of Shape Up because the teams at my workplace last year were... hmmm....how to say this?...uh...


There were teams who purposely brought in cookies, donuts and other revoltingly sweet and fattening goodies to tempt opposing teams to fall off the healthy eating wagon. A paper image of Chuck Norris was - er - "fed" in effigy with a giant cookie by one of the opposing teams. Chuck Norris retaliated with anti-other team signage all over the building.

It was wicked insane.

But I'm looking forward to all of it even if I am a bit nervous. If the wicked insanity motivates me and my colleagues to eat better and to get to the gym and be healthy then...

Bring it on Chuck Norris!

18 January 2010


Houston...we have lift-off.

Our various adoption profiles are now "live."

As my lovely husband said in a recent post about this "going live" business (yes, I'm a little behind in reporting out to you about this latest development in our journey), "Holy cats!"

So, basically...now we wait.

This process of waiting to be selected could take days, weeks, or months.

Or even years.

Here's the strange thing: I'm actually OK with the waiting.

All of the running around and getting things together and writing like crazy and filling out questionnaires and getting my physical and securing letters of reference and blah blah blah. All of the adoption activities that have so overwhelmed us since May 2009 - that's the stuff that made my head spin and made me feel anxious and exhausted.

Waiting...this I can do.

Weird, huh?

I've visited the blogs of other prospective adoptive parents who actually have tickers that say, "134 days waiting for [Baby Name here] to come home"

Not for me.

I've been recording our progress in the "Becoming Plus One Timeline..." that hangs out in the right-hand column of this blog, but I won't be adding a weekly "still waiting" entry.

That would make me crazy.

I surely don't want to spend all of my energy focused on what hasn't happened yet. It took tons of energy and focus to get to this point. And with nothing else active to do, I just can't and won't sit around bemoaning how much time it's now taking.

Instead, I'm just going to focus on living.

On my life with Chris and how I can make ours a great life while we wait.

I'm going to try my very best to be in the present moment. And the present moment is not one that currently includes a baby.

Instead, the present moment includes a body that needs...quite a bit of work.

I'm the heaviest that I have EVER been. So to prepare for the very busy days of motherhood in my future (whenever that might be) I am now religiously hitting the gym and eating "clean" to get fit and healthy. My plan is to say a very permanent goodbye to my sedentary ways and the F-A-T that is literally and figuratively weighing me down. I've already lost some weight in the last few weeks and feel just wonderful.

The present moment includes a house that needs work.

Chris and I cleaned the public areas of the house pretty thoroughly two weekends ago in preparation for guests. Miraculously, we have managed to keep these rooms looking pretty decent ever since - a big deal for us as we seem to lean toward clutter bug-ishness (not by actual inclination or preference for clutter, but most often by being so tired from our jobs that we don't have the energy to clean up.) Today's task is for me to deal with the laundry in our bedroom (yes, we have numerous hampers of both clean and not-so-clean laundry waiting for attention...so NOT romantic in the bedroom!) and to tackle cleaning and organizing our guest room, which has become the repository for all things we didn't know what to do with while dealing with the mess in the public rooms a few weeks ago.

We also have some house projects that should really get done before the arrival of our little Schmoopie: new closet doors and closet organizing systems for our bedroom closets, new kitchen cabinets, putting in a toilet downstairs, painting out the trim in the upstairs, clearing out stuff from the guest room so that it can become the baby's room, etc. The things we certainly will not have the time or energy for once the baby is here.

The present moment includes the need for nutritious and tasty food for our bodies.

I have never been much of a cook - again, not out of inclination, but more because of lack of time and energy. The time/energy thing is still an issue since neither Chris and I have changed jobs. So I am currently working on developing strategies to plan and execute meals throughout the week so we don't resort to eating junk, ordering take out, etc. Hopefully b y doing this, we'll then be in the habit of cooking when we become Plus One. Can't feed the baby junk food or take out! I'm still not a great cook, but I'm trying and want very much to learn and develop a repertoire of tasty, healthy go-to meals. I've actually cooked a few good meals over the last few weeks and am planning to do more in the coming weeks and months.

The present moment includes the need to assess my career and where it's going.

I've been doing fund-raising in one form or another for coming on 20 years. The truth is that I'm pretty burned out. But I don't know what's next or how to get to what's next. So I'll be focusing some energy on this as well. I no longer want to do a job for which I have no passion. The wonderful organization where I work certainly deserves to have passionate fund-raisers. Of course, I will do my very best work while I am still there. I owe it to the organization and to myself to still put in my best. But I'm ready to move on and need to figure out just what that means and what that looks like.

The present moment includes the need for me to be creative.

"You haven't worked on your novel in a while," says Chris as he's leaving for work this morning, "I hope you'll take some time for yourself on your day off to be creative. Don't clean all day."

What a lovely man I married!

He's right, of course. I haven't been terribly creative since August because my job sucked up all my energy during my "busy season" (understatement...) And so perhaps I will re-visit my novel this afternoon. Or perhaps, when I've cleaned the guestroom - which also happens to be my studio - I'll get out my paints and get to some visual creativity.

The present moment includes the need to be patient and centered.

While I am very ready to be a mom, I'm not ready to spend the next days, weeks, months or even years lamenting the time that is passing by with no Little One. Chris and I have put everything into place that needs to be in place for us to become parents and it will happen when it happens.

Life goes on.

And even though I am not a mom yet and my guest room is a disaster and I'm fat and I don't like my job, I am surprisingly happy. I'm doing things to make positive changes in my life and in preparation for the arrival of the Little One. This is a good place to be while I wait.

In the present moment...

14 January 2010

Non-adoption related...but very important

No time to write a post at the moment, but did want to direct you to my friend's blog. Hope you'll take a minute to check out this very informative post.

More from me later today...

10 January 2010

Still here...sort of

Still here. Sort of. Very sad and not feeling up to writing much.

We had to say goodbye to our little Forest a few nights ago.

Chris wrote a beautiful post about losing her so soon after we lost Annabel.

02 January 2010

Worthy...part 2

It's taken me a while to get back to posting on this subject. Between preparing for the holidays, dealing with a sick kitty (no new news on that front just yet), experiencing the holidays, and then recovering from the holidays...well, I think you get the idea.

First - I want to take a moment to thank Susie, Cassi, Susiebook, Campbell, Mei Ling and Amanda for taking the time to comment on the original "Worthy..." post. It meant a lot to me that you folks commented and especially that you were all respectful of me and of each other. Thank you. I've been reading a few blogs lately where the commentors have been so very full of anger and vitriol for each other and for the blogger.

Just horrible.

So thank you for not making me afraid to read my own blog!

I had an entirely different blog post laid out yesterday, but I received an e-mail from a good friend of mine (T) today and so changed my mind about what I am going to post. Here's what T had to say:

I understand your wanting to understand the adoption process from many angles and perspectives. It does seem that there is a tendency to dwell on the negative aspects and stories rather than the successes. Nothing in life is perfect Jenn. If you really want a child and adoption is your only means of having a child, then it's okay. If you do your best to be a good parent (not perfect---since no parents are) and you and Chris will love that child with all your hearts, then that's the best that you or any other parent can do.. You will never solve the issues/reasons that children are given up in the first place. You will never predict whether your child will be one who knows or wants to know or doesn't want to know their birth parents. Loving someone isn't about perfection. It's about being there and choosing to love them. Life can be full of regrets. Just because kids aren't adopted doesn't make their little lives filled with love---both [your friend G] and I are living examples of that. Loving, nurturing, and helping a child grow into a strong, independent, and good person is what parenting is about. Solving the issues of the birth parents is not your problem nor should it ever become your problem.. You are not responsible for their choice even though you may benefit from it directly. I hate to see you caught up in all of this and not really experiencing the joy and wonder of becoming a parent.

If it were a perfect world, only people who would make good parents would get pregnant at the perfect time. There would be no unwanted pregnancies or children. Parents would always be loving, supportive, and provide a healthy, safe, and loving environment for their children. Alas, the world is not perfect. Life is messy, confusing, and yes hurtful at times. And people make choices that later in life seem wrong and they have to reconcile their lives. Life provides multiple opportunities for us to reach out to others and love them and for all of us to grow.. Enjoy this endeavor to have a family that you are on. The journey should be thought provoking but not emotionally crippling and it certainly should not leave you with a bunch of other people's emotional baggage for you to carry and dwell on for the rest of your life as a parent. Let the wonder, joy, and excitement which started your process swell up inside of you and carry you through till you are picked to be parents.

Thank you T for your good words and kind thoughts. And for reminding me to keep in my mind the joyful part of this experience. And for reminding me that the world isn't a perfect place. Believe me - I am truly excited and happy that Chris and I are on the road to parenthood even if it is through a rather imperfect vehicle...

If it seems that I have been dwelling upon the negative in this blog - please know that it's certainly not my intention. This is simply the place where process my thoughts - good, bad, and otherwise. Perhaps a few years ago - P.B. (Pre-Blog) - I would have done much of this processing in a private journal. I still do that occasionally, but in truth I find the comments that people leave quite helpful as I puzzle my way through this adoption. Sometimes the comments challenge my views as the folks who leave them are from the "opposite" side, but I do find these comments informative, thought provoking and beneficial to my understanding of adoption today. I'm honored that people who don't share my views about adoption take the time to visit my blog to express their views.

Solving all of the problems in adoption today certainly isn't part of my life plan. However, it is my fervent hope that by thinking the issues through that I can work to make our particular adoption - our one little piece of the adoption world - one that is positive and healthy for all of the parties involved: our child, Chris, me, our families and also the child's first parents and first family.

I'd like to be part of a change in the world of adoption. So, amidst my own internal happiness and excitement about becoming a parent, I do take time to think about the process and how I can be the best part of it that I can be.

I may not necessarily be responsible for anyone else's choices or for solving their issues, but by adopting a child Chris and I are taking responsibility for that child. And this particular responsibility comes with a link to another family via the child that we will be raising. Like it or not, we are responsible for how we choose to interact with this child's first family, just as it is the responsibility for the first family to choose how they interact with us.

It is my hope that this link - this relationship with another family - this responsibility that we have for each other - will turn out to be beneficial and positive for this child and, in turn, for us and for the child's first family. That we can all work together to navigate a new relationship with care, with respect, with integrity and with compassion for each other.

I think what I've learned most from all of the blog reading and commenting is this:

The world of adoption is complicated.

Adoption isn't an easy process for anyone involved.

Adoption is hard.

If it's done "wrong" - unethically, with broken promises, disrespect, lies, abuse, and secrets among any and all parties, etc. - it creates a world of hurt for everyone involved: adopted children, adoptive parents, adoptive families, first parents and first families. It leads to anger, resentment, confusion, disruption, etc.

If it's done "well" or as well as it can be done within the flawed system that is currently in place today - ethically, open, with promises kept, with integrity and honesty, etc. - it can create large extended families who love and support each other and work toward raising healthy, happy children.

Adoption - even one that is done well - is definitely not perfect - by no means. There is loss inherent in adoption. That will never change. There is still confusion: how do we make this work for everyone? It takes time and commitment. If adoptive parents and first parents can somehow learn to work together, to be compassionate with each other, to make and keep promises that are always in the best interests of adopted children and each other, then it seems to me that we can make the world of adoption a better place than it is now.

There's a lot to think about. There's a lot to be excited about. Adoption may be hard and complicated, but it seems like it isn't going anywhere and it is a world in which I am enjoying the exploration. I am enjoying thoughts of becoming a parent and I am also enjoying engaging in dialogue about how all of us involved can make adoption better. I look forward to see what the future holds for all of us in this world.

It's time to sign off for this evening. I have some thoughts that I'd like to share on nature vs. nurture, but that will have to wait for another post.

As always, comments are very much welcomed. Please remember that T is my friend and sent the above as an e-mail to support me. I included it here because I thought it was very relevant to the discussion and to my thinking. So please, if you are going to leave a comment I ask that you be kind and respectful to T, me and everyone who chooses to respond. Thank you. I appreciate that.

Happy New Year.