Monday, July 31, 2006

Like bears in a cave

For once, I'm feeling refreshed on a Monday. It's probably because Petunia and I holed up nearly all weekend long, barely leaving the house except for a grocery/video store run on Saturday and an impromptu hike (!!!) with our friend B. last night. All told, here is this past weekend in numbers:

--number movies watched: 4 (incl. Sarah Silverman's Jesus is Magic--not a choice!)
--number knitting projects completed: 3
--number plans scrapped: 1 (we'd planned to attend the Lowell Folk Festival with L&L and B., but it was GODDAMN HOT on Saturday)
--number rum drinks imbibed: sadly, only 1 each (we ran out of pina colada mix)
--times AJWP craved ice cream: 13
--times AJWP ate ice cream: 3
--times ice cream was first food AJWP ate on a given day: 1
--number miles walked on impromptu hike: 3
--times AJWP thought to self, "I can't believe I'm on a HIKE.": 45, approx.
--times AJWP wished she'd brought water for Petunia and self, rather than just for Clary B.: 1,500, approx.
--times AJWP bled through new Gladrag on hike: 1
--times AJWP felt like a 12-year old girl hitting menarche during hike: 1

Good times, friends.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Old Blue

I've been feeling v. nesty lately, so I decided to go through my Big Box o' Memories. The Box is a humongous Rubbermaid container filled with all kinds of mementoes from childhood through adulthood, and I've been toting it around in some form or another since elementary school. I'm a sentimental kind of gal, so I decided to pull it out to see what things I might pass on to Hester Willa when s/he comes home.

I wasn't prepared for the overwhelming sweetness of this task, for the rushes of tenderness I felt for the little girl I used to be and for the woman I've become. I'd saved everything from the first book I "published" in 1st grade to my high school band programs to a copy of the Boston Globe from September 12, 2001. I have baby blankets in that box, and Cabbage Patch dolls, and a stuffed walrus from my family's trip to Sea World. I have an East German flag, my first pair of toe shoes, my hula skirt, my pencil collection (over 100 strong!) , postcards from my dad, prom and ring dance souvenirs, and a box of old love letters. I have old calendars and journals and my welcome packet from Smith. And also, I have Old Blue:

Old Blue was my first silky nightgown. I loved the feel of the nylon, and I was so grown-up and beautiful when I wore it. When I got Old Blue at age 3, it nearly touched the floor. By the time I gave it up at age 6--I couldn't squeeze my arms into it any longer--it came above my knees. I've held onto it all these years because I treasure the memory of feeling so precious.

I think about the child I was and about our child-to-be and my life feels so full. I've got a load of stuffed animals, baby blankets, and doll clothes in the wash right now, and when they're clean and dry I'll fold them and put them into the toy box we got for Hester, where they'll sit beside hats we knit for him/her and a tiny apron we found at Ikea. I'll put Old Blue in there, too, because who knows? Maybe our Hester will feel beautiful when s/he wears it, too.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My bug bites make the Baby Jesus cry

I'm going CRAZY from mosquito bites. I didn't sleep last night and my prescription bite cream isn't helping much. If you know any itch remedies, I'd love to hear them. These are the ones I already know; sadly, they don't help me much:

--mix up baking soda/water paste; apply to bite
--mix up meat tenderizer/water paste; apply to bite
--apply Vick's VapoRub to bite
--make an X on the bite with your thumb nail

If you post an itch remedy that actually helps me, I'll send you a handmade crosstitch bookmark. I'm for reals, y'all.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Setting sail

Introducing the QE2....

Check it out--I got a secondhand triple jog stroller for my business! It set out on its maiden voyage today, and the kids and I loved it. It's heavy as all hell (the kids alone weigh over 100 lbs., and the stroller weighs 38 lbs. by itself), but it takes the Worcester potholes and shitty sidewalks with ease. I'm loving the QE2.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Pregnant Neighbor had her baby last Tuesday via c-section, and Petunia and I met the baby yesterday. It made me sad to see her and to realize that we’ll never know our child when s/he’s that age.

I really wish we had the money to do a private domestic newborn adoption.

Friday, July 21, 2006

INFJ nerd alert

Guess who finished her personal profile?


Sink or swim

When I started my business in September 2004, I had to take part-time jobs at Tougas Family Farm and Starbucks to make ends meet. Even so, it was touch and go. Petunia had the patience of a saint, and she encouraged me to keep going even as we struggled financially. I persevered despite my many fears.

During the fall of 2004, I worked those part-time jobs, cared for 2 wonderful little girls in Arlington, and had some drop-in babies here at the house. In January 2005 I had my first full-time enrollment, a 2-month old baby; his brother attended part-time as well. As the months passed, more families enrolled. I got busier and busier. I adjusted my caregiving style as the kids grew older, and now I'm about to implement a full-on circle time, complete with themes. It's all very exciting, and I like the challenge of trying to meets the needs of kids ranging in age from 20 months to 3 years.

In September, however, it'll be back to tummy time, bottles, and teething rings. A new 4-month old will be joining us 2 days a week! I'm looking forward to seeing the older kids interact with the baby, and I'm eager to see the baby grow up with devoted older friends. And also: a baby! I haven't held a baby since my youngest child left infancy, so I'm really excited. Scared, too, but mostly excited. I've never had an infant with so many older kids, but I'm confident it'll work out well.

As I plan for the little guy to join us, I'm considering investing in some products to make life easier. I've been looking at this hip carrier for when the tyke gets a little older, and it sounds like it would be useful for my other kids, too (and Hester too, hello!). Also, I'm in the market for a decent used triple stroller-I've been scouring Craigslist like it's my job. Other items on the "To Buy" list: a stroller cup holder for me and a decent diaper bag. If you have any tips for these items, please let me know.

The upshot of all this is that it looks like I'm in the child care business as long as I want to be. I'm proud of myself for sticking it out, and I owe a lot to Petunia for putting up with me and my big ideas in the early stages of this business. Hell, I owe a lot to her now for enduring a kid-focused house. When I started this program almost 2 years ago, I didn't know if I'd sink or swim. Thankfully, I'm swimming like a fish.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Goiter Girl

The backstory: I spent one of my precious late May vacation days going for a physical, only to sit around the doctor's waiting room for an hour and a half. After nasty homophobic glares from the receptionist (Petunia was with me) and a bone-chillingly cold waiting room, I walked out. I didn't see the doctor; I didn't get any bloodwork done. The only things that happened were weight, temp, pulse ox, and blood pressure. I didn't even take off my clothes. When I got home that night, I changed my PCP with my insurance company since I was so dissatisfied with that doctor.

Fast-forward to today: I got a bill in the mail from said doctor stating that I owe her $40. Full of righteous anger, I called the insurance company. They said the visit--billed as GOITER--wasn't covered since I changed my doctor that same day. When I explained the situation, they said they'd have their patient advocate look into it. So then I called the doctor's billing service, explained the situation, and asked them to look into it too. And now I have to decide, should I call the doctor's office and give them an earful as well? And should I make a stink about fraudulent billing practices? I'm hella pissed, but v. busy with other things, too.

And for the record: I don't have a goiter.


I have big news to report on the adoption track: Last night we received our profile paperwork! The paperwork is tailored to each family, so it has a list of supporting documents (birth certificates, marriage license, etc.) that you need to supply plus scads of other forms. That’s all good with me, though, because: 1) I’m good at paperwork; and 2) WE’RE FINALLY GETTING SOMEWHERE! Everyone knows that adoptive parents have to fill out eleventy billion forms; that’s a given. And now we’re getting to do it, too! And check it out--one of the forms says this:

Personal Profile (To be completed by the prospective foster mother or adoptive mother.)

Did you catch that? They’re calling me a prospective adoptive mother! That validation alone is worth the time it’ll take to complete our stacks.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Over the weekend I had a freakout about naming our child. That first MAPP class stirred up some old issues for me, especially in the naming/claiming department. See, one of my biggest fears with adoption is that we'll be matched with a child whose name I hate. It's a stupid fear--I should be worried about mental illness and whatnot, but I'm not. (Not right now, anyway. That'll probably resurface next week.) Right now I'm worried about names.

I feel guilty about this, too. The "good" adoptive parents keep their children's birth names, honoring their connections to their birth families each time they call the kids in for dinner. The "bad" adoptive families rename their kids completely, erasing those same ties. Many adoptive families fall somewhere in the middle, keeping birth names as middle names and using new first names. It's a real conundrum, though; Petunia and I have a short-list of relatives' names that we'd like to pass on to our child, and we'd love to honor our child and our other relatives in this way. But we also feel strongly that we want to emphasize our child's connection to her/his birth family. What to do? It's a tough call, and it'll be a controversial one at that.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Has anyone read Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex? I'm trying to decide if it's worth my time.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

She's Notorious

Halso, we're going to see Margaret Cho tonight! Happy belated birthday to me!

Belated birthday greetings

I forgot to mention that yesterday was a double birthday in our family--Happy Birthday, Cancers! Daddoo is another year wiser and Clary B. is another year closer to being a normal dog (supposedly, that'll happen magically when she turns 4). Dad liked his Frampton Comes Alive double CD (his idea, not mine) and Clara liked her new doggy toys. Here she is opening one of them:

Note the prey-crazed gleam in her eyes.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Happy Birthday, Clary Belle!


I've been thinking a lot about adoption today, about loss and grief. All along, I've known that something terrible will have to happen in a family in order for Petunia and me to become parents, and that's a painful thought. Here we are, all excited to become parents and thrilled at the thought of bringing Hester home, and here are Hester's birth parents, being told by DSS that they're not allowed to parent their child. Most importantly, here's Hester him/herself, ripped away from his/her family and sent to live with strangers. Loving, kindly strangers to be sure, but strangers nonetheless. It tempers my excitement to think of all the things Hester will have gone through to come to us.

Sometimes I wish we had the money to adopt through a private agency. I like that birth parents have the right to choose adoptive parents for their child--it seems a much better option than social workers getting together to rip a child away from one family and give her/him to another family. At our MAPP class on Tuesday, one of the facilitators said that many kids adopted through DSS feel as though they've been kidnapped from their birth families. That's a thought that breaks my heart.

At least it sounds like we'll have able to have an open adoption. Ninety percent of MA DSS adoptions have some degree of openness, so that's some comfort. I want Hester to know her/his family, if it's at all possible. Although Hester's birth family won't have chosen to make an adoption plan, at least they will know that Hester is still one of them, even as s/he is one of us. And even more importantly, Hester will know this, too.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

This is probably TMI. You've been warned.

Do you use Lunapads or Gladrags? Do you love them? I got my first Lunapad in the mail yesterday and now I'm psyched to get my period. I tried a Gladrag (on the right, looking pleasingly like a vulva) last cycle and I liked it a lot, but Lunapads are just so cute! I also tried the Diva Cup and The Keeper last cycle (ha ha, JPP), and I liked The Keeper better than the Diva Cup. Why the interest in washable products for my ladyparts? I figured that if I'm considering cloth for Hester Willa, I should consider it for myself too. And also, maybe it's time to start treating this ol' body of mine a little better. Know what I mean, Vern?


Even though I was crazy tired last night, I was thrilled to attend our first MAPP class! The adoption process has begun again, this time in earnest. I'm so glad.

The class itself seems like it'll be okay. I was prepared to sit through 24 hours of mind-numbing stupidity, but I think it'll be helpful. The best part of last night was learning more about the timeline, which will go something like this:

Our Timeline

1. We're in MAPP training now through August 29.

2. At our 2nd or 3rd class, we'll receive profile paperwork. The profile prepares us and the social worker for the homestudy, and turning it in signifies that we're ready to move forward. We plan to complete our profiles while we're still in the MAPP class, so we're looking at the end of July through the end of August to get it done.

3. Once the MAPP class is finished and our profile is turned in, we'll be assigned a social worker. This is when the homestudy begins. S/he will try to take ~60 days to complete the homestudy, and it's done in 4 visits, usually 3 in our home and 1 at the social worker's office. When all of the meetings are done, the social worker will write up an 8-10 page document called a homestudy. "Homestudy" is a noun as well as a verb.

4. During the homestudy, we'll need to collect personal references and medical reports. Real life friends, consider yourselves warned!

5. When our homestudy is complete, we'll register with MARE and begin to network. Once our homestudy is approved, our wait officially begins. Given the timeline, it looks like that'll happen in the beginning of November. So, by Thanksgiving we should be pregnant!

6. The Wait. The trainers said that a year is a reasonable amount of time to wait; some folks wait less and some wait more. After a year, the homestudy has to be updated.

7. The Match. Matches are made between the child's social worker and our social worker. If they're in agreement about goodness of fit, we get called. After hearing a little about the child and her/his situation, we can either move forward or decide that we're not a good match for that child. If we say we're not a match, we go back into the waiting pool. If we'd like more info, we'd attend a disclosure meeting when we'd have access to the child's files and team members. Once that meeting is done, we're asked whether we want to commit to the child. If we say no, we go back into the pool; if we say yes, we'd start visitation with the child. Since many waiting kids are in foster care, we'd be working closely with the foster parent/s during transition. Once the child comes to live with us, that's called the placement. That's when we'd be bringing home our Hester Willa!

8. Between placement and finalization, we're considered pre-adoptive foster parents by the state. DSS has custody of the child, not us. Finalization can happen in as little as 6 months (that's the minimum time a child can be in your home before an adoption can be finalized in MA) or it might never happen, especially in a high risk adoption. It's not unusual to wait years for finalization when the child is very young.

9. Finalization--FINALLY! This is when we'd go to court and a judge would declare that Hester Willa is our child, now and forever, amen. Let's hope for sooner rather than later, shall we?

So that's it in a nutshell. It sounds like we might become parents in 2007! It could take longer, of course, but in my heart I'm really hoping to have Hester home with us by Christmas 2007. Knock wood, okay?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Our MAPP class begins this evening. I can barely believe it--after 12.5 months of waiting we're finally going to Do Something about bringing Hester Willa home!

I'm so, so excited to get things underway. I'm looking forward to gaining a better understanding of the timeline with public adoption, and I'm excited meet other prospective adoptive parents. I've heard good things about the MAPP training, but I've also heard that it's v. scary. I'll let you know how it goes.

Think about this: As of 6pm tonight, Petunia and I will officially be "trying" again! Invisible pregnancy, here we come.

Madge at the Boston Garden

So the Madonna concert was good times, but it made me feel like an old fogey. Seriously, they should have sold ear plugs along with binoculars--that shit was LOUD. And also, what's with the standing and dancing? I'm on my feet all day, and it would have been nice to sit on my ass and watch Madonna shake hers. Sigh. Those complaints aside, it was a fun show. Madonna's quite the performer, and she cracked me up all night. I only knew a few of her songs, but I was v. glad that one of them was "La Isla Bonita." Also, she sang "Like A Virgin"--it was a true Crapapella flashback (especially your solo, SLC. LOVE IT!). Thanks for a v. fun date night, Petunia!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Happy Tail

Wow, Josie's a star!

Friday, July 07, 2006

And we're off!

In a few hours we'll be off to the wilds of northern New York. Clara will meet her doggie auntie (my parents' golden retriever, Zoe) and Petunia and I will visit with my parents and extended family. We're taking the cooler so we can stop at Behling's for local produce and we'll have dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, the Tin Pan Galley in Sackets Harbor. It won't be v. relaxing because we'll be on the go, but it should be enjoyable.

Here's wishing y'all enjoyable weekends, too.

Busy lady

I'm starting to feel overwhelmed with next week's schedule. It's all good stuff, but it's a lot to do. We'll be gone all weekend for the family reunion in northern New York, and this is what we'll be doing when we get home:

Monday night: Madonna concert in Boston, apparently
Tuesday night: Our first MAPP class!
Wednesday day: Con Con in Boston (Petunia); Dad's birthday and Clary B.'s 2nd birthday
Thursday night: Margaret Cho in Northampton! This was a birthday gift to me from Petunia. We heart Margaret Cho.
Friday night: Rest, maybe? PLEASE?
Saturday: Clara and Josie go to the vet; Pet's friend J. is here from Ohio; there's a lily festival we want to go to
Sunday: Sleep and clean all day

Holy crap, that's a lot of happenings.

Potty mouth, maternity shirts, and Madonna

Today the baby started saying "fuck" when he means "truck," and it's killing me. I'm a terrible person; I've been getting him to repeat it all morning for my personal amusement. He's going to grow up to be a shock jock and it'll be all my fault. But I can't help it: He's been saying, "Hi fucks!" "Bye fucks!" and, "Fuck, ooh!" (That last is my personal favorite.) Good thing we have lots of construction happening in the neighborhood. I'll be sad when he learns to pronounce the "tr."


In other baby news, things are progressing nicely with regard to our adoption plans. Our MAPP class begins on Tuesday, and from there on out we'll be in the active stage. We've been inactive for so long that I'm excited to finally Do Something about Hester's arrival, you know? It's thrilling, really--although there will be many bumps, I know we're on the path to parenthood. It all starts again on Tuesday, and I'm feeling optimistic and hopeful. Also, our maternity shirts will arrive on Monday! (No, we won't wear them on the same day, and no, they don't match.)


Also, I just got this email from Petunia:

"Guess what! So, I just got an email from HR about free Madonna Tickets for Monday night. I asked for two and got them. You wanna go on a date with me to Madonna?"

What are the odds she's joking about this?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Freedom Fry

Nothing says "I heart America" like fried dough!

Monday, July 03, 2006

New recruit

So, about 10 minutes ago the mail arrived, and in it was the latest issue of Connections, a newsletter by and for Smithie stay-at-home moms (plus one stay-at-home family child care provider, natch). The editor published my first article about Hester Willa, and I was psyched to see it. I was busy congratulating myself and feeling proud when the phone rang:

On the other end: Hi, this is G., and I'm a Smithie, too. I just saw your article in Connections--congratulations!
AJWP, proudly: Thanks!
G.: When I saw you live in Worcester, I had to call. I'm in central Mass, too.
AJWP: Are you?
G.: Yes! I hope it isn't too strange that I looked you up in the phone book and called...
AJWP, to self: Now that you mention it....
G., continuing: But I thought I'd just touch base with you. I'm a La Leche League leader, and I wanted to let you know if it's not too "out there" for you, you can choose to breastfeed your adopted baby.
AJWP, guffawing to self: Actually, I did know that.
G.: Yes, it's called adoptive nursing, and our local La Leche League can be a real resource to you.

The call went on a little longer, but is this not the funniest thing you're ever heard? I've been recruited by La Leche League!

A birthday message


to my brother Orca!

Frrrozen Hot Chocolate

For Canada, in memory of our trip to Serendipity:

Martha's Recipe for Frrrozen Hot Chocolate for Two
(I finally found it--sorry for the delay!)

1 1/4 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. milk
7 tbsp. sugar
6 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tbsp. malted milk powder
3 c. ice cubes

1. Whip 1/2 c. cream and set aside.
2. Place milk, remaining 3/4 c. cream, sugar, cocoa, & malted milk powder into blender; blend till smooth & frothy.
3. Add ice slowly till mixture is thick & smooth.
4. Pour into tall glasses; garnish with whipped cream & chocolate shavings, if desired.

This recipe looks deadly, so I haven't tried it yet. If you decide to give it a whirl, please let me know how it turns out.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Beach day

L&L invited us up to Plum Island and Newburyport yesterday, and we had a lovely time. It was our first time at the beach in 2 years, and it was so relaxing. Thanks to the Ls for a wonderful beach day!