Friday, April 29, 2011

Myth Busting: "Just Adopt And..."

Okay, I'm going to be honest here. I would LOVE to be pregnant. Love it so much that we're actually going in to see a fertility specialist for a consult in a few weeks. Love it so much that when I do have several days of weird twinges or cravings or nausea or hot flashes, yes, I do pee on a freaking stick to test. Love it so much that I dream about it and fantasize about it and wish for it.

And yet, sometimes I really hope that I never become pregnant.



"Just adopt and you'll get pregnant!"

I don't want to prove them right.


"Just adopt and you'll get pregnant" is the most annoyingly absurd statement. I heard it while trying to conceive, I heard it after our infertility diagnosis, and I heard it all throughout our first adoption.

"I know a couple who tried for years and then they finally adopted, and THEN they got pregnant and finally had their own baby!"

"I keep reading about people who can't get pregnant until they adopt a baby and then they're finally relaxed enough that they do get pregnant!"

"Just watch, as soon as you have that baby home from Ethiopia you'll find yourself pregnant!"

Um, no.

Did not happen.

In fact, given our state of affairs right after P's adoption (my post adoption depression, his PTSD and attachment disorder, the language barrier and adjustment and physical delays that ruled our life, etc) I can guarantee you that I, in fact, did NOT want to get pregnant then.

In fact, it wasn't until recently that I finally came to a place where I wanted to be pregnant. I wanted to make sure that P had a sibling who looked like him before I would even consider having a child who did not, leaving him the only person of color in our family (and yes, he does notice race).

But all this? Is beside the point.

Because I'm here to bust a myth.

The myth isn't actually "just adopt and you'll get pregnant." If it was, that would be an easy one to bust. There have been studies on this "phenomenon" and those studies have shown that there's no increase in pregnancy rate after adoption than there is before it. It's all luck and timing and coincidence.

But anyway, I'm not touching something to easy to disprove.

The myth I would like to bust is this:
"The most affective fertility treatment is an adopted child."

There, I said it.

That's the gist of "just adopt and you'll get pregnant" isn't it? That the child you adopt is nothing more than a means to an end? Not really a human being, a beloved child, but instead a useful fertility treatment? That this child isn't really a child at all, but an "adopted child," a faux child, a person you bring into your life for the sole purpose of creating your "own" child?

So, lemme let you in on a little secret here:
My kids are my kids.

They are real. They are human. They are my own.

They have my mannerisms and speech inflections, as well as Nik's. They call me mom. They love me, and I them.

And they are not a fertility treatment, nor a means to an end.

They ARE and end.

Both of my children are a happy ending. Both are a dream come true, a real, true dream realized in flesh. Both are the loves of my life.

And if I were to become pregnant right now?

What a blessing that would be!

But it would not be a greater, nor lesser, blessing than having them in my life.

I can guarantee you that I did not adopt our children because I thought they would lead to me having a different child, "my own child," nor would any sane person attempt such a thing. They are in my life because I wanted them in my life, because Nik and I filled out paperwork and payed gobs of money and traveled distances, one time across the world, to have them in our lives.

We have fought for them, waited for them, cried over them, worked our asses off for them, and that's all before we even knew they existed. Since homecoming I cannot count the number of kisses and hugs and bedtime stories and boo-boos and popsicles and walks around the block and pushes on the swing and cuddles, oh the cuddles, seemingly endless. And the counseling sessions and school drop offs and diaper changes and doctor's visits and rushing to the ER... these are not things you do with a "thing," with a treatment, but with a real, live, beloved human being.

In case I haven't gotten my point across yet, let me go ahead and summarize:
My children are my children. Not my fertility treatment. Not a lucky charm. They are real and human and wonderful beyond measure and should we be lucky enough to experience a pregnancy and birth at this point I will thank my lucky stars, not for ONE happy ending, but for THREE incredible, indescribable, breathtakingly beautiful happy endings.

Friday, April 22, 2011


I have them.

They're small, but they're there. And I can totally, like, feel them and flex them and even use them a bit.

So pilates is working for me, though not as fast as I'd want it to. I mean, in The Sims 2 all you have to do is tell a person in a good mood to run on a treadmill for 2 hours and they just do it, and when they get off their body kinda wiggles a bit and suddenly they're fit. Until you have them eat nothing but birthday cake for 5 days straight. Why can't life be so easy? (though the trade of is that they're fictional and also live about as long as the common housefly I guess)

The garden is currently being watered by a cool spring rain that no weather forecast predicted. The chickens are growing and thriving and feathering out. Plants are growing and showing promise, and most of the pests disappeared from my peach tree after I sprayed it down thoroughly with a mix of water and peppermint castile soap.

And I'm enjoying the gym.

Oh, sure, I have a LOOOONG way to go to reach where I'd like to be. I still have a massive sweet tooth and I can down a whole plate of cookies without remorse. I can also go days without stretching even, and there are times I go to the gym and get ready then spend the whole time sitting in the locker room with my friends talking. I still struggle to touch my toes and getting my palms to the floor seems dang near impossible. I fall over a lot in yoga, I flop on the mat in pilates, and I can't do a proper push up to save my life.

But I'm improving. Little by little.

I'm tripping over my own feet less and enjoying the exercises more and every now and then, not every time, but really every now and then I do find myself being able to do something I couldn't do a month previous.

I'm starting to look a bit better in zumba, just discovering how to hold my body and position my legs and especially knees. I'm breathing better in class, and thus breathing better outside of class. My posture isn't perfect still, but I notice it more. I think I'm even sleeping better and waking up more refreshed.

This diet and exercise thing? It can work.

Sure, no actual real weight loss yet, but a bit of flab loss and definitely some strength gain.

And the best part of it?

The kids are enjoying it.

Oh, sure, in many ways our fitness goals are for ourselves.

But there's just something about having a baby beg to take bites of my steel cut oats every morning or watching my 5 year old ask for seconds on salad or greedily serve himself a heap of kale. There's something about beginning and/or ending our days with a walk around the block, or a walk to the park, or a walk to the store, or something, anything, physical. Makes you feel like you're raising them right, you know?

And now it's time for me to get off my butt and put laundry away...

Okay, after my mandatory celebrity gossip :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Waste...

We lost power a few days ago thanks to the huge storm that hit central NC for about an hour. As our baby chicks are only 2 weeks old and need to be kept around 80 degrees, and as the temp was dropping to 60 degrees that night, I had to do some quick thinking. I devised a plan, one I'd used to keep guinea pigs alive while I was in college and we lost power due to a large snowstorm: I would run off the last of the hot water saved in our tank in a bathroom, door closed, and heat the room up that way. Then I'd shove the chicks in and keep the door firmly shut and thus them nice and warm until the power came back on, hopefully later that night or the next morning at the latest (ended up being 2:30am or thereabouts).

And so, having hatched my plot, I went upstairs and turned on a shower, putting it on the highest setting and closing the door. I let it run for about 2 or 3 minutes. Almost immediately after turning on the shower, I regretted it. Sure, it was a good idea but the chicks could probably last a few more hours in their still-warm brooder before needing extra heat, and wouldn't it be smarter to just wait until the boys' bedtime and use the water giving them a shower? Same end result but far less waste.

But I hesitated before turning off that shower.


Easy: I'd already wasted. I mean, already there were a few, if not several, precious gallons of heated water just poured down my drain. If I shut the shower off now then that loss would all be in vain! Nothing good would come of that waste.

And so I wasted even more deliberating it, before logic won out and I shut off the water.

I gave the boys a long, warm shower a few hours later and after I put them to bed I moved the chickies into the bathroom. They survived the night just fine and it all worked out alright.


And so that mundane and rather boring story leads to my actual blog post....


We're considering giving up on this adoption.

There, I said it.

We're not giving up, at least not yet, but we're considering it.

At this point, we aren't really pursuing it but if the right situation comes along then it does and that would be incredible and wonderful and just brilliant.

But we aren't signing up with any agencies with high fees or getting locked in to anything risky, and we're being ultra choosy, and we're keeping our options open and refusing to budge. If it's the perfect situation, then it's the perfect situation and we'll go for it. Otherwise, we won't compromise.

(Please note that by "perfect situation" I don't mean "perfect child" or "storybook/fairytale situation." I just mean that the situation would have to seem just right to us and really speak to us.)

I was reading someone's blog recently and she was talking about how she's updating her HS entirely to be prepared in case they have an "oops" adoption, something that falls into their laps that seems right. And I think that's where we are now.

And good Lord it's hard for me to stomach...

The waste! The time and money and energy! Well over $5K spent on this adoption already, mostly in useless USCIS fees. And putting together a profile, copying, applying to referral services, applications and fees, mailing, emailing, calling, scouring situation sites, preparing the boys for another sibling, seeing if 3 car seats fit, buying girl clothes just in case, pumping every night to keep my supply going....

Wasted, if we don't adopt. All in vain.

And yet....

We don't lose.

We have two healthy, happy and well adjusted children. And there are times, fleeting moments, when I'm having fun with my boys, just taking our daily walk and singing or building and smashing sandcastles or kicking a ball in the yard and I think:

This could be it. I could be happy with this, just this. Just us and our sons, two beautiful, amazing sons, far more than I could have ever dreamed of. I got to hold a newborn, got to nurse and co sleep and baby wear, got to see the milestones, feed the first solid food meal, hear the first words, see the first steps, be the recipient of a first smile. I got the baby shower and the birthday parties and the first day of school. I could honestly handle being done. I could stop now, stop the drama and questioning and hoping and wondering, and just live this life forever.

But those moments are fleeting. The thought that I might never hold a newborn, my own tiny baby, again makes me ache inside. The heart wants what the heart wants and as happy as I am now my heart feels that we're meant to have another.

And yet here we are being fickle about the adoption.

Thing is, we're worried about the adoption business. And, oh, is it a business. We can afford the fees thanks to our generous tax returns, and yet... do we want to? We're worried about a system quickly becoming less and less ethical. It should not cost an average of $33K to adopt a newborn within your home country, but it does. Agencies across the board are raising fees and requiring more up front, refunding less, and it appears that there's more $$ going towards "birth mother expenses" which greatly worries me.

I'm not saying all adoption agencies are unethical, I'm sure many agencies in specific (hopefully most) are just great. But in general, I'm worried and so is Nik.

And then there's the pregnancy thing....

We may, honestly, decide to stop at 3. If we're considering it at 2, it will be an even higher consideration at 3.

And if we know we might want to stop at 3, and I know I'd love to experience a pregnancy.....


So, we've started calling fertility clinics and I'm researching REs and embryo adoption and infertility support groups and fertility acupuncture.

We're not totally ready to switch gears yet, but we're looking into it, thinking we may want to have some tests done and see what our options are. Could we have luck with IUI? Natural? Could medications and aromatherapy help? Or should we go right to FET with donor embryos?

And even then, talking about several THOUSAND dollars per try... yeah, that's scary. I'm seeing $4K per FET before meds. May want to call around a bit, neh?

I don't know, it all feels so jumbled and up in the air, and sometimes I almost do want to just settle and be done, say "we have our two, we're good" and be over it and just focus on them and watching them grow and providing the best environment for them alone. And other days, I think we should just do that for a couple years then come back to TTC or adoption. Then I think, "Let's get all our family building out of the way, and fast!" and I feel rushed and pressured. And other times I think, "Wow, I wish we were suddenly and magically fertile so we didn't have to sit around and worry about such things..."

So we're in a deciding phase, a learning phase, a researching phase. We're going to see if there's even a possibility of me becoming pregnant. And we're going to stay active with the adoption, at least until the home study dries up, just in case our next one is out there somewhere, and oh how we would truly love it if the right situation came to us.

And we'll be talking a lot and thinking a lot and I'll probably be writing a lot as I process my own thoughts and emotions.

You've been warned :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Trying not to attach to the chickies

So we have chickens.

They're almost 2 weeks old and definitely growing. And dumb. Very dumb. They're cute, though, and funny and we're enjoying them.

But I don't want to get attached.

And in many ways, I'm not. I don't feel the same for them as I have for pets in the past. I don't swoon over them like a new kitten or cuddle and buy toys like with a dog. Nope, none of that. In fact, when I'm thinking about them it's mostly about their care and when they'll start laying and making sure they'll be productive. Nothing abnormal, nothing too attach-y.

Yeah, I care about them. I mean, they're our flock, our first flock, our first pets even for a long time. I clean their brooder out every few days and keep adding bedding to keep it safe until then. I clean out their food and water at least once a day, and check on them 3-4 times daily to make sure they're comfortable. I handle them and talk to them and make sure they aren't limping and seem to be doing alright.

But they aren't like a pet cat. They aren't my new best buddy or companion. They're chickens. Dumb little birds who serve a purpose. And I know this "experiment" could fail and we could end up losing one, or all, and we could end up selling them all eventually or whatever. And even without the knowledge that they could very well not stay around for a long time, I still, like I said, don't feel the same for them as I've felt for pets in the past.

Which, I guess, is normal.

But I have to say... I was reading just a couple days ago about the lives of chickens in modern chicken farms. Reading about the horrid conditions, lack of space, psychological disorders, bleeding, starvation, drugs, injuries, a death sentence at age 2 or 3....

And I actually started crying.

For the first time I wanted to run in there and pick up those silly little peeps and kiss their heads and say "that will never be you! I promise!"

Because while I don't care for them as I did my childhood cats, I still care. I still want to provide the food and the water they require, not solely because this will provide us with nutritious eggs but because that's the humane thing to do. I want them to live in a safe environment, to have a warm roost and comfy nesting boxes, to live in clean conditions and to have the companionship of each other. I may not love them like the dog I got for Christmas when I was 4, but I still want them to thrive. Not just survive.

The more I read about how chickens are treated on factory farms, the more I'm glad we're doing this. And the more I'm willing to pay $5/dozen for the wonderful farm fresh eggs we get through our CSA. We can visit the farm the eggs come from and actually see the chickens who lay them, and in about 6 months it will be our own sweet, silly girls providing us with low cholesterol, highly nutritious, scrumptious eggs, fresh daily.

Now let's see how long I can resist backyard bees.... :-P As if Nik would let me!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Beginning to wonder....

When P came home from Ethiopia, he was in rough shape. Oh, sure, I jokingly tell people that he was the healthiest child in the orphanage, and he just might have been. His teeth were perfect, not rotten and falling out, he wasn't covered in scabs, his giardia was latent, his ringworm was under control, his ascaris was easily cured, and he was a head taller than several of the other young walkers.

But he was just-turned-2 and could hardly walk. He could make it a few steps then he'd topple and take a few minutes slowly pushing himself back up. We know he wasn't carried all the time, but he didn't get much outside time (just a small, cement courtyard). And his thighs were small, much shorter than his calves, and with his huge, rock solid distended belly he had a tough time balancing.

Fast forward a few years.

We've seen counselors for behavioral issues and we feel happy that we've reached a great place, where he's bonded and happy and thriving.

And now his little brother is a toddler too, 6 months younger than P was at home coming and the same size. And the things this child can do! I mean, I know kids all develop at different rates, and P had some early difficulties, but still...

I'm starting to worry that we completely missed a component, something important or formerly important, that was right in front of us.

Walking- P could hardly walk at age 2
Running- We joke that P's the slowest kid on the playground. He can't run for long. He enjoys running with much smaller children since they go the same speed.
Jumping- He couldn't jump until age 3 or so.
Clapping- He learned how to clap shortly after coming home. It was totally new to him, like grass and sippy cups.
Potty Training- He didn't day train until 3.5 yrs and at 5.5 years still isn't night trained.
Swinging- He just learned how to pump his legs. He just couldn't figure it out until recently.
Swimming- He can swim while holding a boogy board but often forgets what to do with his legs.
Climbing- He didn't figure out how to climb into things until probably after age 3. He's a good climber now.
Eating- If he's distracted while eating or drinking he'll often tip his plate/cup/spoon, forgetting how to hold it if he's not focusing on it.

Nothing is bad or really makes life hard, nothing that requires PT or anything, and yet...

Today at the park I saw my 18 month old walk up to a climbing board and figure it out in less than 5 seconds. We spent a lot of time trying to show P how to use this same board and he couldn't figure it out until he was about age 4. He simply couldn't comprehend how to hold his body and climb up, while A just did it so smoothly and naturally.

P's catching up, certainly. He doesn't typically run with the other kids on the playground at school, but when he does he's probably about average speed, if still a little slow. And his confidence has grown immensely since he learned how to swing himself. He's growing, and I'm kicking myself for not realizing all the extra growing my little guy really needed to do. Poor thing could very well have a slight physical developmental delay and I never noticed until now....

On the other side of it, both boys have always had very, very good eyesight and hand-eye coordination, and P's problem solving skills are top notch. That kid's a survivor, lemme tell you!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Growing as they Grow...

It's been a long day. Not a rough day, but a long day.

P is acting up. He's been a bit more impulsive lately, and while it's understandable it's still frustrating. Out of nowhere, he pulls on one of the cabinet faces under the sink, the fake drawer that he's knows is fake. He's never shown interest before, but on his impulsive days anything can happen.

We have a relatively normal dinner and afterwards we have some extra time. They took a late nap and shouldn't be going to bed for about another hour. I need to run to the home improvement store down the road so I take P with me, along with the broken cabinet face.

In the store I have him find the right section and go over to a person in a red vest, showing them the broken item and explaining that he broke it and needs the materials to fix it.

They can't help him. Don't have the part. Pretty much just sit and stare at us.


I ask where the tape and glue is, changing gears. If they don't have the broken latch, then we'll just try gluing it on.

P helps find aisle 4 and carries the glue and tape out. We go to one line to pay, in the garden section as I need compost, but the line is way too long and instead we go to an open register indoors.

The cashier is clueless. And not too polite. I spend 10 minutes waiting for him to figure out how to ring up the compost. Over and over again I tell him that it's the "organic compost you have outside, that's $1.58."

I've bought it here several times and that's all I've ever needed to say.

I don't need an explanation of how they don't have "compost" in their system. I don't need for him to explain to me how his search function works. I just need him to ring me up for my damn dirt.

It also wouldn't hurt if he stopped giving me funny looks, talking to me like I'm a child, and telling everyone who lines up behind me that I'm going to take awhile to deal with.

During all this P is getting more and more bouncy. It's an impulsive day, as I've said, and he's grabbing things, jumping, singing, pushing buttons, running around and making loud noises out of nowhere. I eventually tell him to put his hands in his pockets and leave them there until we get to the car. I have to remind him several times.

Finally a manager comes over, with a similar attitude to the cashier's. She rings me up and they explain that the dirt in question is in their system as "cow manure". Again, silly looks, talking to me like I'm an idiot. For wanting to buy a product they sell. Urg.

I pay and turn to grab P, quickly realizing that he's not beside me anymore. I find him only a few feet away playing a video game with another child. Frustrated and ready to get home already, I grab him and say "you were supposed to stay beside me with your hands in your pockets! Come on, it's time to go home."

The other child's mother glares at me.

"He's just playing a game, it's okay," she mutters authoritatively.

Thanks, lady. Exactly what I needed right now. Glad you know the whole situation and can fix it with an offhanded comment.

I walk with P to the car, trying to keep myself calm but feeling like crap. I don't normally let people's words or looks get to me, but tonight just stung. I carry my receipt out to get the dirt. There were 3 people working the lot when I arrived half an hour earlier, but they aren't there now. I have to load 320 lbs of bagged compost into the car myself while trying to explain to P that, yeah, we'd be home soon and, no, we aren't going back in so he can play with the other boy's video game again.

I try to be calm on the drive home. P is antsy and upset himself. He slams on the window, something he's never done before. I ask him to stop and am rewarded with, "No, I will not stop. I will not listen to you." This is how he normally acts when someone usurps my role as parent around him. He's very sensitive to parental roles and power. Again, thanks lady.

I try to reason with him, to get him in line, and all I hear is "no" and "I don't like you anymore." All in his calm, in charge voice. It's frustrating. And irritating. And angering.

I clench my fist and push it as hard as I can into the door of the car, something that helps calm me. I breath in and out. I just want this night to be over.

Finally, I come to a conclusion. And I tell him my conclusion.

"When we get home, I'm going to go inside. I'm going to put the baby to bed. Daddy will put you to bed. I will see you in the morning."

"No good night kiss?"

Breath in, breath out.

"No... I am angry right now, and I'm afraid I will act angry around you. I don't want to do that, so I'm going to let daddy take you when we get home. I will see you in the morning."

"But that's mean!"

Breath in, breath out.

"I'm sorry. I love you, and I'm sorry. I'm just afraid I'll say something mean because I'm not happy with your behavior right now."

We get home. I leave the car. I leave HIM in the car. I walk inside and put down my bag and the materials to fix the broken cabinet face.

I can hear Nik and Ambrose in the bathroom, the baby splashing in the tub and laughing. Nik is laughing with him.

I'm about to go in, about to take over and give P over to Nik for the rest of the night.

I'm about to... but I don't.

I can't.

I walk to the open window and look outside, at the wind blowing through the tree. I breath in. I breath out. I breath in. I breath out.

I hear P's door open and shut. I take a final large breath. I go back outside.

He hides behind the car when he sees me, knowing very well that I'm not pleased with him right now. I just open my door and pop the trunk, then lock the inside of the car. I go to the back and open the trunk up wide.

"Come here," I say, not looking at him.

He walks over, wary, slowly.

"Stand here," I command, and point to a spot right behind the car.

He stands there, in wonderment. What could I be planning? Why am I still talking to him? Didn't I walk away and leave him alone? Wasn't he a bad kid? So bad I didn't want to be around him? What could be going on?

I pull out a bag of compost, about 40 lbs. I put it down in front of him.

"This is your bag. I need you to carry it to the garden. I'll get the rest."

I don't wait for arguments or complaints, I just reach in and grab a bag.

He does complain. He does argue. But he also tries.

He tries different angles and pulls differently and finally, slowly, he gets it to the garden about 40-50 feet away. I'm surprised it doesn't tear as he pulls it over the ground. I think he is too.

When he's done, I'm there waiting for him, sitting on the side of the deck. I beckon him over.

He's calmer now. Subdued.

Heavy work. It's what his OT prescribed for his SPD. Give him something heavy to life and it will calm his nerves, and he'll be able to better control himself and his behavior.

I had forgotten that. It had just suddenly struck me while I was inside, my myself, calming down. He needed heavy work to calm his jittery, flippy nerves.

We sit on the deck for awhile. We talk. We hug. I tell him a story from my childhood, half to let him off the hook, and half to remind me of how emotional children can be. I apologize, as does he. Then we go inside and I put the baby to sleep, a little late. I go and give P a kiss afterwards, and remind him that I love him. That I'll always love him, even when I'm frustrated. And that I'll always be his mommy.

He hasn't exactly been an angel since then, but he doesn't have to be. He's a child. And I'm an adult. And that's how we have to approach our relationship.


Except on rainy days. Then we all (all 4 of us) squish into his outdoor playhouse and draw on the inside with chalk. We can be kids sometimes too :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Little by little...

This house... is old. Okay, not old old. In fact, not even as old as most of the other houses in this neighborhood. But in a city growing as fast as Raleigh, with new housing developments popping up all over the place, I think our house certainly qualifies as older than many, if not most, of the other houses in this fair city. Or at least my friends' houses anyway :)

My house was built in 1981, a year before I was born. Two stories, split foyer, 2100 square feet, 5 bedrooms though really only the three upstairs I'd consider to be regular bedrooms (and even then Ambrose's room is tiny enough that I'd consider it an office or nursery). The two downstairs bedrooms are attached by a door and one has a door leading outside, which means we won't be putting kids down there for a looooong time (and then we'll be blocking off the door!).

We're lucky to have a large, airy family room downstairs and a nice living/dining room upstairs, even if it does make our kitchen extra teensy. And 3 full baths is nothing to scoff at, as I'm sure we'll attest to during the teen years!

So... I love this house. I really do. And I'm loving it more and more, the more we "claim" it. We bought it as a foreclosed home, paid cheap, 0% down which was great since our whole downpayment needed to be used to fix it up! No cable, rotting carpet, no AC or heat, disgusting/stained wall paint, leaky windows in broken frames, few appliances, etc. Still haven't fixed the windows (*grumble grumble*) but we'd managed to do the rest. Our own paint and carpet colors, the fridge I was fawning over, actual new couches instead of hand-me-downs, etc.

A couple years ago we took down 14(?) trees on our lot, mostly pines, the rest dead or (supposedly) dying. Not only did this add value to our home, and make us safer, but suddenly we had a LOT more space and a LOT more sun. Also? The yard was a mess. It had gone from a pine needle coated forest to a beaten up, muddy, grassless junk yard.

Last year we had someone come and fix it up a bit, even it out, clean away brush that wasn't meant to be there, and seed the dang thing. By the end of summer our lawn was looking really nice.

And this year? A lush, green lawn with two little boys running and playing. Room for gardens, and sun to feed them. Huge, thriving hardwood trees shading the middle of our backyard and keeping our home cool. Bright violets and clovers. Sitting on the old wooden deck, feeling the wind rustle around me.

Our home is our little bit of heaven. Our little bit of semi-rural living in a sub-urban environment. I can be outside doing work or playing with the boys and suddenly I'm no longer living in one of the US's top fifty biggest cities. Suddenly I'm transported to my childhood days of running through fields and playing make believe and climbing trees and helping my parents in the garden.

Oh, sure, it's just a slice of that. I mean, it's still fenced in in the back and it's still much smaller than a field. But it's spacious and green and peaceful and ours. And I love the fact that I can get in the car and drive 5 minutes down the road and see sky-scrapers. I love the fact that I can choose to have a slow day in the back yard rolling in grass or I can go down the road to a free science museum.

I love the duality of our life here, having it all in a sense.

The chickens and the garden and the children rolling in the green grass and running around and laughing. The concrete sidewalks and multitudes of malls and movie theaters and restaurants and cars and buses and trains. You get sick of one life and you retreat back to the other, never really committing fully either way and enjoying them both.

I guess that's what urban home-steading (hehe) is all about. Your house and land aren't just there to hold your stuff, they're there to be lived in and on. But at the same time you don't have to sacrifice the city life, especially if you love it (and oh, we do!).

So I guess all this babble is to say: I think we found the perfect home. Thank goodness it's the one we've been living in a few years now :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Sometimes I think back to when P was brand new... well, brand new to us. We were young and overly worried and rather unprepared, and he was tiny and scared.

We went through a rough first year, both adjusting to each other as well as our new life. Everything was so different and new! People saw us differently, we reacted differently, we liked different things, we didn't like many of our old favorites, our friends appeared different to us, our priorities changed, our marriage changed, everything changed.

Then Ambrose came along and the changes were smaller. Oh, sure, still lots of a changes. Our first little baby so there was a learning curve, but even so it was easier and milder. Instead of feeling like we'd been slammed in the face by a high speed truck, we felt more like we'd been pushed a little by a tricycle. We had to change, sure, but it wasn't nearly as much. And, in fact, it was pretty pleasant.

Now? We're established.

Oh, we're not exactly old hats at this, and we sure as heck aren't perfect. Our oldest child is only 5, after all, and we're still so young in all this (young as parents and as spouses and even just as people).

But we're still established. We're a solid family unit. We're no longer several small bits trying to twist and turn and chip away until we all fit together.

I read so many blogs, some about general parenting, some about those who adopt, and some about those in the infertility world (and yeah, a few outside of all of this). And whenever I'm reading a blog where people are in the same dark place we've come from, well, then I thank God for how established this family is.

I remember those days of trying to conceive and begging adoption agencies. I remember feeling like everyone around me was charging ahead into this new game called parenthood while we kept raising our hands saying "pick me, pick me, I'm ready to be next!" and never being chosen. We weren't certain it would ever happen for us. And it's so frustrating! To see others forging ahead with no issue, embracing pregnancy, giving birth, learning about parenting, growing and becoming established, while you're still waiting for step one.

And then there was that first year of parenthood. It was rough and we were rough and life was just rough and I just wanted to scream "why does this have to be so difficult?" I mean, other people produce babies who grow and bond as you grow as a parent. We were handed a screaming, angry, shell shocked toddler who didn't know our language. It all felt so jumbled and out of control, and we were just trying to hang on.

But we made it.

And by the time Ambrose was placed in our arms we had a solid foundation. P had been here long enough that he really started to trust us. And we were used to him and loved him. Adding Ambrose only made us love him more, even if it made alone time more difficult.

And by now...

We love them. They love us. And we're a solid unit. We have history together. We look at our photo books together and tell P about his toddlerhood. We have memories together and go places together. And this year we're starting a new journey, together, as P enters public school.

Now when I read about other's frustrations with building a family, I feel a little guilty. And relieved. That could be us right now. Instead of waiting for this journey to start, though, we're celebrating milestones and preparing for school. We're living our dream every day.

This doesn't mean that we don't still want more, or that we think we're done with journeys. I would still love to tackle the journey of conception and pregnancy, and of course we have the journey of school and Ambrose starting preschool. And this whole urban homesteading thing!

But as parents and as a couple, we're established. We know what we're doing, at least right at this moment. And man does that feel good!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Weepy weepy...

I get weepy sometimes. Silly mommy hormones! I used to be this way when PMSing so I know it's more hormone related than anything else. I used to be hyper weepy when we first adopted Ambrose, and I can still get really weepy when nursing a lot. I also go through phases of being totally hyper-happy, completely optimistic and ready to take on the world. These used to come a couple weeks off from each other (ovulation and menstruation) and I've been seeing them again for the past few months, though no blood to back it up (which used to be a yay and is now a boo).

Sometimes, like yesterday, I get in a weepy frame of mind and there's not a dang thing that can help me. Oh, sure, comfort food and kiddie hugs and laying my head on Nik's shoulder all help, but I'm just weepy and pathetic.

And often I focus on time and how fast it all moves. Yesterday all I could think was "my boys are growing up... pretty soon Ambrose will be Paxton's age and Paxton will be huge and then they'll be teens then adults and they'll move out and then they'll have kids and those kids will grow up and then they'll have kids and they'll grow up and then we're all gonna die!!!!!!!"

I have such a different perspective on life and death and, well, everything since having kids. I acknowledge that every person who lives will die. But I don't want to acknowledge that this is true for my children. I know my children will grow, that one day they'll be complex adults just like us, but yet it's hard to fathom. I know we won't always be the center of their worlds, that we won't have every answer, that they won't always think we're cool and want cuddles, that some day the hugs will end and the nursing will end and the bedtime stories will end and even all the loads of laundry will end.

And I'm so, so going to miss it.

And then I follow this train of thought to my own parents and how they must have felt about me growing up, and then their parents and how they felt about it, and so on and so forth. And then I see the image of a person who died on the news and my heart just breaks because that was somebody's child, someone who was snuggled up warm in a womb and born and snuggled and dressed and cleaned and fed and taught and then, in just a single instant, a car or bullet took their life and it was all over, just gone, the end.

And it just... resonates. It resonates with me at a frequency I couldn't pick up before. Now I get it, I flipping get it, how important this all is, how spectacular every second is.

I rock my sweet toddler to sleep and, my God, I'm rocking life! I'm holding a whole, real, complete human being in my arms as he closes his eyes and rests his weary body. Who knows who he'll be, who he'll nurture, who he'll inspire? Who knows if he'll be holding his own little one 30 years from now and thinking the same exact thing?

There's just so much potential, so much intricacy. And just looking at my boys and seeing how important they are, how wonderful they are, just seeing how a human being gets from a tiny baby to a big, grown adult, makes me love humanity all the more.

And now... I'm getting all poetic or somethin'.

I get jumbly when I'm weepy. Start thinking about the universe and why we're here and the point to it all and how my children and spouse and I fit in and whether there's a Heaven and if we really will be together for always.

But one good thing that comes out if it is this: I really, truly try to focus on the now. Take a picture to remember then put it away and play on the floor. Hug and kiss and tell them I love them. Talk, talk, talk and read books. Spend time one on one. And try, try, try to remember it all because these moments are so fleeting...


Should I mention that today Ambrose turns 18 months? A full year and a half old now.... wow....

Saturday, April 2, 2011

We have chickies!!!!

After a looooong drive out to Goldsboro, we picked out 4 gorgeous little sex-link chicks. 3 golden, one brown. I'd been looking forward to getting a black on but all their blacks were boys, and only 3 browns were female (and two were reserved).

Our brown is named Pel, my Prettiest Egg Layer. I felt it fit her better than the oh-so-Vulcan T'Pel.

Our goldens are Ponyo (with purple sharpie on her head), Gakadu (white wings) and ChickChick (all yellow).

They are loud and soft and warm and oh so tiny!

We expect them to be in the house for another couple of months before we move them outside. It'll be another 7 months or so before we have eggs, though we expect a high yield with these girls :)

I'm not sure, but I think our Golden Trio are considered Red Stars, and according to Wikipedia: "are a cross between a Rhode Island Red or New Hampshire rooster and a White Rock, Silver Laced Wyandotte, Rhode Island White or Delaware hen."

Though they might also be "Golden Commets." And my little Pel might be considered a Red Star.

No clue! All I know is they're a hybrid, a mix of two breeds that creates a chick where the male and females are easily distinguished upon hatching.

I was sad, though. I still want a silky bantam. One day I will have my silkie!!!


We got the raised bed put together today though we still need the dirt to fill it. So far we picked up and put in 20 bags of compost from Lowes. I'll probably need to pick up 30+ more bags over the coming weeks and I should become accustomed to stopping by every day for 5 bags at a time. Though I'm going to see if I can get someone on Craigslist to deliver 2 cubic feet of compost to my yard in a heap :-P It's more than we need for this one garden project, but I have a couple more garden projects that require dirt so really I'll be stopping at Lowes daily for the next 2 weeks or so just to pick up heavy bags of dirt!

Can't wait to start moving my little seedlings out. The broccoli and spinach are sprouting impressively, while the peppers and lettuce are holding off for a bit longer. I actually hadn't expected any activity at all until this upcoming week so having 50% of my plants already popping up makes me extremely happy and giddy!


I'm looking more into the various methods of urban homesteading and trying to determine our goals. Obviously right now we're plowing full steam ahead but that will change after awhile. The big thing is to A) make positive changes and B) not make so many at once that you burn yourself out.

So we're talking about long range goals, like where we'd like to be 3 years from now. Eating more of our own food, using less water/gas/energy, producing more, consuming less, etc. Also more kids. But that's beside the point :-P

I'm looking into trying line drying for the first time this summer. I do laundry pretty much daily and I could try a clothing line, see if it appeals to me. There's also a portable washing machine that's not that expensive and might be worth having around in case we lose power. Also I could have the kids wash their own clothes. How awesome would that be??? I can totally see P doing all the laundry for me!

I want to clear out the back fence a bit, plant vines all around the chain link, start some mushroom logs going, build that greenhouse by fall and start those plants, and just generally make this house not only more productive but also a place I enjoy coming home to.

Low maintenance, high yield gardens and livestock.

Actual landscaping.

Lower utility bills and children who understand conservation and sustainability.

Late afternoons spent sitting in a garden swing nursing a baby and eating a fresh peach while watching older children run and play.... the sweet smell of flowers greeting me in the morning... the wonderful feeling in my body after eating totally fresh food...

Also? Total gloating rights :) If we pull this off!

So where do I want to be in three years.... Right here. Living well. And thriving.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Personal Goal MET!!!

Yesterday I totally rocked my own socks off.

I made it through the whole Ab Series in my Pilates class without taking a break. Oh, it hurt so good, and OMG I just about screamed for joy when it was done.

And I did it! No breaks to rest my aching abs, no flopping to the floor, no loooong paaaauses between exercises to make it easier.

Oh, sure, it's not perfected. But I DID IT! I did the whole thing! Whoooo!!!!

For the record, I'm coming at this whole "fitness" thing as a perpetual fat chick. Seriously, I've always been big, I've always been out of shape, I've always had trouble jogging let alone running, sports allude me, I'm totally uncoordinated, my arms shake when I carry the baby too long, I couldn't chase a bus to save my life, etc.

I've gotten better over the years. When I graduated college I was around 235 lbs, probably at or above 250 lbs when we adopted P. In a few years I've dropped to around 170 lbs. My lowest teen/adult weight has probably been about 165 lbs, my end goal is 150.

I've been going to the gym since November and I haven't lost any weight. And that's fine, for now anyway. My goal in going there (other than the nice showers, childcare, and girltalk) is to gain: strength, coordination, stamina, confidence. And it's working. Sure I'm sitting still around 170 but I can actually *feel* the muscles in my stomach now. I'm actually enjoying exercise. I enjoy lifting some small weights, working on abs, jumping around, cycling. It actually physically feels nice to work my body, when before it felt like pure torture.

And I'm so proud of myself! Me, the fat girl from school, the overweight stumbly chick, me, making it through a whole ab series while people all around me were dropping (their legs) like flies.


Now I just need to perfect it all and remember to do it more consistently. 10 minutes a day on the floor to strengthen core and back muscles isn't much and has a huge pay off.

And soon, I start "cross training." Nik can run up to 5 miles in a morning. And he started out just like me, flopping and weak and totally unmotivated. So let's see if I can match his 5 sometime in the next several months :)

Oh, and at some point I should probably start bringing the kids into this too, huh... :)