Saturday, December 26, 2009


We are slowly digging out from under the weight of Christmas. A white Christmas means a tougher time getting where you want to go, and thus a longer day. While we certainly enjoyed ourselves, we were both exhausted and relieved at the end of everything. We sat on our sofa, glassy-eyed. And then this morning we both got up and went to work.

Perhaps the best Christmas present I received was the snow; for reasons that are boring and complicated, I didn't have to be to work until 7:30am today (the usual is 6:30am). The extra hour did me right, and I didn't feel like I needed to pin my eyes open in order to make it to Starbucks. Best of all, Saturday is the day that I get to do as I please with the little lady I take care of. Not that this means we're running wild; rather, we are content to go to our usual places and end up at my house for lunch and naptime. While she sleeps, I clear the clutter, start some laundry, make some lists. I think about what I want for 2010, and I make a list for that, too.

Some of my goals for 2010 may seem a bit controversial, depending on who is reading and what is read into my plans. I'd like to read a couple of religious texts, neither of which belongs to the faith that I ascribe to. I've found myself frustrated lately by how much people assume they know and how little they actually know. I include myself in that group of people. In the interest of being better informed, I'll be reading both the Book of Mormon and the Qur'an. Particularly in the case of the latter book, I feel like there are a lot of misconceptions and assumptions about what it says or does not say, and I'd like to know what is true and what is not. In an age of e-mail forwards and tea party madness, I'd like to be well informed, and not just by the internet.

The other goals for 2010 are not really goals at all, just things I'd like to do. I'd love to bring home a daughter, but I don't know if that will happen, so perhaps there is a goal hidden there, and that goal is to be at peace with whatever happens, as it happens. I will make a lot more handmade goods, as many as my budget allows. I got this book for Christmas (thanks, Tabor and Drew!) and plan to make both bags inside, hopefully out of oilcloth or other easily-wiped-clean material. (Check out the selection at Hart's Fabric, and just try to tell me I won't have a hard time deciding which to use.) Finally, I'd like to purchase the large items we'll need for Magnolia; even if she doesn't arrive in 2010, having her crib and dresser will be a load off my mind.

What about you? What are your post-holiday/2010 plans?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Make it Merry

This is my favorite Christmas song, and I mean the whole thing--song, Muppets, John Denver.

There is so much to be hopeful about this Christmas, so much to be thankful for, so many ways to show love. May your days be filled with joy and hope and thankfulness and love. Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thinking Out Loud; Just Ignore Me

Lately we have been in touch with a woman who will be helping us with adoption funding. She has given us (uh, me, really) the assignment of writing our story so that we can share effectively with people who may want to help us. I sat down late last night only to come down with a case of writer's block. The problem isn't that I don't know our story; it's just that when it comes right down to it, our story is fairly simple. We believe in adoption. We believe it is the way we are meant to build our family. We believe that every child deserves a loving family, and we believe that we can be that to a child who does not share our DNA. And...and...I've always just known. My heart has always known that what would make my family mine would not be common DNA, but a different kind of bond. Can I just say that and not have to say more? Is it fair to our daughter to go into the deeper issues of tragedy and famine and epidemics and need? I want her story to belong to her, and I want to be her mother because I simply want to be her mother, not because I feel like I should save some poor orphan or be a noble human being. Of course it makes sense that if there are children who need families and we can be a family to a child, we would put the all of us together in one basket and call it good. But to take it further than that? I'm not sure that's the right way to go.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Needed: To Do List Editor

When I write my to do lists, I need someone to stand over me, to hover, really, and say things like, "You're doing what during the half an hour you're home?" and "It does take time to do things like pee." Because I am consistently overly optimistic about what I can accomplish in a given amount of time, and I never, ever, ever think about the fact that I might need to, I don't know, take off my coat or use the bathroom or put away the groceries. In fact, thanks to overlooking these sorts of things, I've got three bags half full of non-perishables sitting on the kitchen floor and I've needed to visit the ladies' room ever since I walked in the door but haven't. I can do it later! I must conquer this list!

But instead what I have when I am making my list is usually someone who is short and thinks that they need a "turn" with the "pen! pen! PEN! MY PEN?" Today a little fellow leaned over so quickly to observe the movement of pen on paper that he poked himself in the eye without even getting to take his "turn? my turn? pen?" and was sorely disappointed that even though the object had injured him, he still wouldn't get his turn.

Maybe what I really need is to hang out with realistically minded grown-ups more often.

You know, besides the baristas at Starbucks.

Or in addition to. I think in addition to would be nice.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'll Have to Have My Husband Install a Button

Oh, these days are full. Yesterday I had every intention of getting all the rest of the handmade goods photographed and put in our Finding Magnolia Storenvy shop, but I was too busy being confused to make that happen, and after that I was busy doing something else, and after that I was busy working, and after that I was finishing up some Christmas crafts while the holiday season is still young. Still, it's OPEN! Just handmade cards so far, and not even all of them that I've made (see: difficulty completing task of photographing products), but you can click here and go on and get some if you want some. (You might want some; I'm told they're nice.) Even better, if you join Storenvy, you can also follow our store so that you'll know when we get new products photographed and ready to go. Coming soon(ish): Original art by Corey McGhee! Kid-sized shirts with art by a kid artist! Adorable baby beanies from Erica! The cutest aprons ever from Nicole! Potholders once I get around to making them! Aaaaaaaand: Official Finding Magnolia tees and tote bags!

Also coming soon(ish): a button in the sidebar that you can click to get over to our store. I'm sure I could put it there myself, but I'll save that task for someone who's much quicker at it than I am.


EDITED TO ADD: Hey, look! My husband installed a button! Look to the left! Now click it! Wasn't that satisfying?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Best Laid Plans

I pull off the outer cardboard wrapper and then the shrink wrap and bend open my 2010 planner. It's like the Moleskine, but pink and recycled. The pages look a little different, but not much. It's...stiffer. But I chose recycled, and I chose a wee bit cheaper, and now 2010 will be pink, with stiff pages. It will get broken in soon enough. I open to a random week in July, choose Wednesday as the day, and write it down, in ink, with a period at the end to make it count: BEGIN XMAS CRAFTS.

I love all the things I am making this year. They are good choices, every one. But they fall on top of each other, and they expand into my entire house, and I've now got a mobile burning spot on the muscles that run from right shoulder blade, to neck, to head. The only time it doesn't hurt is when I am in bed. I know it will go away if I sleep well and for long enough, but I don't have the time. I don't have the time because I began my Christmas crafts in December.

I think to myself how funny it would be if I have this date mapped out in ink, like it's official, and that's the day we go meet our daughter, and everything changes. Will I still do the Christmas crafts early if I've got a pair of chocolate brown eyes to stare into, and handmade toys to make? Will I still work my heart out on things that are not for her when she is sleeping?


Maybe not.

We shall see.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Pet Peeeeeeve

When people say, "Wait until you have kids!" with that tone, the one that insinuates that I just don't know what I'll be getting into, it really chaps my hide. I am not calling any one person out, but family members do tend to be the worst about this. I work with kids, people. I know a lot about them. I have been with them at every hour of the day and sometimes overnight. I am a childcare professional. I know about the tiny people!

In particular, I would like to point out that, yes, I understand that children like brightly colored plastic toys that typically use size C batteries. This does not mean that we will eventually succumb to buying our children these toys, even if they like them, particularly when they are small*. I know! So mean! But look: We are weird. In particular, I am weird, and I am dragging my husband right along with my weird self on this. I have witnessed children in the throes of joy while playing with a hideous blinking, artificial-music-making monstrosity. I've also witnessed them in the throes of joy playing with tupperware and a whisk. Guess which one I am going to pick?**

This is not just about how annoying I think kids' toys can be. It's not just a selfish wish for only beautiful things in my home (though, yes, that does factor in). It's about a larger philosophy of child-rearing. It's about wanting to create an atmosphere of exploration and imagination and creativity. It's about slower living and purposeful parenting that reflects what we value and believe. And it's about the way I choose to make our home. I want our daughter to grow up in a place of comfort and peace and joy. I'm sure there will be many compromises made along the way, but when it comes to our core principles***, we will stand our ground.

*We are not technology-averse, obviously, and we also understand that our children's preferences will differ from ours as they grow. We plan to make informed decisions, considering every angle, not just if our child really really really really likes it please please please everyone else has one. We will sometimes buy things for them that we don't really love, but we also reserve the right to say no. In any case, we hope to have indoctrinated them well enough that they won't like all the really awful stuff anyway.

**I also plan on making felt food and providing our child(ren) with a variety of Waldorf-inspired toys. You can roll your eyes as much as you want, but just wait until you see the felt grapes I'm going to be making. You are going to be exceedingly jealous.

**We are hippie weirdo tree hugging bleeding heart liberal freaks. We don't do things the way most people do them. We are sorry if that makes you uncomfortable, but we are not sorry that we do it. We love being hippie weirdo tree hugging bleeding heart liberal freaks!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The First Craft of Christmas

I now totally get why people who sew often devote an entire room in their home to that pursuit. I still am a bit confused about the devoted-solely-to-scrapbooking rooms, but whatever. It is unlikely that I will ever be a scrapbooker, so I will remain confused and let the scrapbookers do what they must. But with sewing, there's just so much stuff. The fabric is only the beginning, and then come the notions and trims and interfacing and batting and good grief, maybe I need a whole room with it's own walk-in closet. I would also like a large table of the size and height used to cut the fabric at the fabric store. So basically now I'm looking at turning my whole house into an enormous craft room. We will have to sleep in the basement, with the spiders I disturbed while getting out sewing supplies.

What I really enjoy about sewing is how customizable everything is. Most patterns offer options, and even if they don't, you get to choose your fabrics. Pretty much the whole thing is a bit of a pain, honestly, but in the end, when there's something like this?

first holiday craft project--COMPLETE!

It's pretty worth it. Granted, I could maaaaaybe have chosen something without pleats and had a far more positive experience overall, but we'll save that for my next pattern purchase. For now, I've got three more of those suckers and a whole wad of pot holders to turn out, not to mention the non-sewing crafts.

Next year, I will begin holiday preparations in May.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Moron Central

I hate asking people for things. You might think that I like to do it because I ask people for things all the time on this blog, but I do not. I hate it. I hate inconveniencing people. I hate inconveniencing people especially if it's partly my fault that I need to inconvenience them.

Jarod and I have been trying for some time to get our police clearance letters from the local police. I was told by more than one person that I needed to get it from one of the local stations, any station, just ask for the background check on letterhead and it will be done! But it turned out that this was not the case, and after inconveniencing plenty of people, I finally got the e-mail address of someone who could do what we needed and even have it notarized right there, without our help. I was so giddy at this news that I failed to notice that the person who typed up our clearance letters misspelled both Jarod's first and middle names. I feel like a moron.

I also feel like I don't want to be the one to tell the nice man who typed this up for us that the copy he sent me for my okay had major typos that I did not catch, and thus he printed and had someone notarize a letter we cannot use. So I'm making Jarod tell him, and Jarod agreed to it. Either that makes both of us morons or it makes one of us a really kind, loving person. It's probably the latter.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It Happened Tonight

It was a surprise attack, as usual, out of nowhere. Two threw his blanket over his head and One's head and they both hit the ground, hard. There was an audible THWACK! of body part against wood floor. I raced over, swooped Two into the time out chair with a stern admonishment about tackling little sisters, then looked over One. She was on the bottom, so I assumed it was her body part that made the sound. But she was fine. Pissed about it, but fine. As the hysterics abated, I turned to speak calmly to him about why we can't do that and please apologize and give a kiss, I know you didn't mean to, All over his face, dripping down onto his red shirt. Handy that I put him in that color today, I now think. But then I only panicked, not knowing just where the blood was coming from. In better light, gently swabbing away all the red, red, flowing red, I found it. A neat split of skin, right between his eyes. A missing cell phone, a press of a wrong button, a parent walking into the house just as his phone began to ring from my call, and it was all over from my end.

Three hours and four stitches later, he was fine. He got a new toy car and carried in one of his dad's special footballs from the car. His dad said, "It's all part of being a boy." Two pointed to his band-aid and the anklet they put on as his ID at the hospital. He is fine. No one blames me.

But still, my inner Nervous Nellie still feels a little bit shaken.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day, a day that is devoted to one disease that affects a lot of people of very different backgrounds. I have been thinking a lot about this today because the fact of the matter is that, if I am honest, I must admit that I feel a great deal more compassion for some living with the disease than others. If you are in a high risk group and knowingly engage in unprotected, high risk behaviors, then the consequence is of your own doing. Are we doing enough to educate people so that they know the risks? Probably not. But are there people who know the risks and choose to think that it won't happen to them? Of course. This is true of many behaviors that lead to a variety of disastrous consequences. Use you brains, adults. You know better. Get tested. If you choose to have sex, practice safe sex. Not sure if your partner is clean and they refuse to use protection? Keep your trousers zipped. Keep your panties on. If sex is so important to you that you'd risk getting a disease that is, as a doctor on the radio said today, "a ticking time bomb," perhaps you need to talk to a professional about your life priorities.


The tragedy of this situation is that people are contracting the disease innocently; maybe a husband who is infected brings it home to his wife, or a mother who is infected passes it on to her child during birth. Maybe the needles in the clinics are tainted or the blood received was not clean. This is where the real tragedy lies, that this can be prevented for these innocents, but those who need to take responsibility either don't know better or can't do better. It's a long and twisted history, but it can get better.

This weighs especially heavy on my heart as we trudge ever closer to our adoption. It breaks my heart that children who are HIV+ and orphaned have a much harder time finding a family than those who are not HIV+. It breaks my heart that we have made the choice that we can't be part of that solution at this time. And it breaks my heart that this is even a reality in our world.

I was in Tanzania in 1994, a white teenager in a group of white teenagers carrying a giant fold-up movie screen around Mount Kilimanjaro to show a few films. One was the story of Jesus (he was speaking Swahili! Who knew?), another was called Zawadi, and a third was an AIDS education movie, the name of which I do not remember. There are a lot of myths then (and still now) about the spread and the cure of HIV. I didn't realize then that we were ahead of the game when it came to AIDS education, back in the pre-Bono, pre-RED days, but today I feel honored to even have been a small part of that. One night I held the ropes that kept the screen from swaying and watched the villagers stare up at the screen, their eyes wide with the wonder of a movie in their very own village. It was magical. It was good. I hope to do more good today and everyday. What this little video expresses is so very true. I cannot wait to get back to Africa when we go to get our daughter. Because I do need Africa more than Africa needs me; I need it to build my family, and I need it to remind me of who I am and what I stand for and what I truly need.