Thursday, August 31, 2006

Baby blankets

Some people really like those tiny baby socks or sweet little buntings. Me? I'm a complete sucker for baby blankets. They're so cozy and warm and soft, and I can't help but love them. Here are Hester Willa's first linens:

Petunia (Mumzy-to-be!) knit the blanket on the bottom and I knit the basketweave one 4th from the bottom. We just finished them! Here they are closeup:

Trista, Hester's godmother-to-be, made the gorgeous quilt second from the bottom:

The orange sock monkey fabric is from ReproDepot and will be used for a slipcover for Hester's Ikea chair as well as for her/his 100 Good Wishes Quilt, and the green things are from Target--Amy Coe Peanut stuff.

The white blanket features a scary squirrel with a nut, which I loved the moment I saw it. It was actually our first purchase just for Hester, and I really love that crazy blanket:

And there you have it, first shots of the nursery as well as a little photo essay on my favorite baby items.

Little stinker

Dear Clary B.,

If you happen to see another stinky black and white critter in the yard, please don't chase it.


Clara endures a midnight bath of tomato juice on our front porch. Poor puppy!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Actual progress

MAPP class is DONE! We'll be assigned our family resource worker (read: social worker) sometime in the next couple of weeks, and then our homestudy will begin. Also, I added a checklist to the right to track our progress cuz I'm anal like that.

Yahoo, y'all!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A rose by any other name

Seriously, it's exciting times over here. Petunia decided on the name that Hester will call her, and my parents are considering their grandparent names as well. Last night my dad told me he's voting for Oma and Opa, but my mom isn't so sure. And then there are my own grandmas, Grandma Hazel and Grandma W________, who might decide to go by those names but who might also choose to switch it up a bit (from Grandma to Grammy). We're all preparing to assume new roles, and it makes me feel like any other expectant parent.

Fun with cellulitis, part 3

Oh! I forgot to mention that I had an appointment with the otolaryngologist last night. It was a follow-up from my most recent cellulitis scare, and the good news is that he's sending me for a CAT scan of my sinuses. It was a good visit: I didn't have to miss work, the doc was pleasant and professional (and v. old school with one of those mirror-headband thingies), and there was no waiting involved. It also sounds like I'll be able to go for an early morning CAT scan--6ish--so I won't have to miss work for that, either. I'm really curious about the whole CAT scan thing--this'll be my first one, and I'm eager to see the results.

DIY weekend

Thanks to our efforts this past weekend, Pet and I are short on sleep but long on pride. We worked our asses off over the weekend and into the wee hours of this morning, but our house is looking better than ever. These are the things we did this weekend and last night:

1. repainted front door (still vivid pumpkin orange, for those who care)
2. painted stairwell--now it's light blue rather than gold
3. stripped wallpaper in upstairs hallways and closet; primed and painted those areas (light blue as well)
4. primed linen shelves
5. got rid of crazy old makeshift clothes rack
6. bought new closet shelving--only $20!
7. installed closet shelving: now our clothes don't drag on the floor! And we have a shelf for pants and sweaters! And there's still room for another shelf!
8. rearranged closet area
9. moved computer, desk, file cabinets, shredder, etc. from baby's room to new office nook
10. cleaned the hell out of everything
11. took dozens of items to the basement
12. set aside 2 trash bags of things for Savers
13. cleaned out baby's bureau

We still have more work to do, but I can't even tell you what an improvement this is. Our biggest accomplishment: There is no more wallpaper in our house--HURRAH! It took us a little over 2 years to banish the wallpaper, but we've finally done it. And now we have a closet shelf with a clothes rail, like real people do! So what if we don't actually have a closet to put it in; we'll hang a curtain or make a screen or something and all will be well. And now we have a special office nook, complete with 2 kitties snoozing on the desk. I'm loving the changes. This place looks better and better all the time.

I'd be lying if I said the homestudy doesn't have anything to do with this, by the way. I know our house is fine as it is, but it's nice to have a deadline for doing some of the things we've been putting off. Also, we don't want to be painting walls or moving heavy furniture once Hester comes home, so it feels good to be doing this stuff now. We're all nesty-like. Good times.

Tonight is our last MAPP class, and I'm glad it'll be over. With the MAPP class done, we'll just have the homestudy to go before we begin to wait for Hester! Eeeeee!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Chipper and cheerful

I'm feeling much better after a little retail therapy at Savers, our local thrift store. I spent $11 and got a vase to replace one of Green Thumb's that I accidentally broke, 3 sweet little baby towels with those little hoods (awww!), and 10 great children's books. I had my eye on some really cute clothes, too, but I'm not buying those yet. The minute I find out Hester's size, I'll be hitting the Savers BIGTIME!

Also, guess who wore a sweatshirt indoors all afternoon? And who was actually a little chilly outside tonight? And who saw real fall leaves on her car this morning? And who has potted mums on her front steps, courtesy of Petunia? That's right--ME! Fall's almost here, baby! I'm getting my handknit scarves ready.

Cranky and crabby

I'm having a cranky, crabby day. And guess what: so are the kids. We're driving each other nuts on this rainy day.

Not that I mind the weather--I'm actually liking it a lot. It's a welcome change to stay inside and do art projects and read books; lately, I've been sweating my ass off outside swinging kids in circles, hopping from the tree to the chair, and saying, "Let's please keep the sand in the sandbox, friends," eleventy billion times a day. Today I didn't have to put sunscreen on slippery toddlers, pack water cups for outside, or remember to check on my supply of diapers in the diaper bag. So all that was good, and you'd think I'd be happy today.

But no. What's been not so good has been refereeing dozens of squabbles over toys. UGH. That makes me crazy. They're even squabbling over toys that are exact copies of other toys, which is hard to watch (of course I understand that there's another long red block by the table, but the kids don't give a shit. They want the red block that their friend is holding and they want it now). And then there's been pushing and hitting and sobbing, which is atypical for these kids. What finally helped was setting them up at the kitchen table with some new art supplies. Of course, they still grabbed each other's colored pencils, papers, pipe cleaners, etc., but at least they weren't within hitting or pushing range. Two of the kids actually fell asleep at the lunch table, another rarity for us. Overtired much, babies? Here's hoping they nap for a long, long time this afternoon.

And as for me, I'm just a crab. I acted like I had lots of patience this morning, but I wanted to tell them to knock it off and quit their crying. I'm all crampy and PMSy and volatile, and I'd be most comfortable under the covers with a hot water bottle and a good book (not this stupid new Patricia Cornwell novel, which SUCKS. Come back, Kay Scarpetta!). Sigh.

I'm glad it's Friday.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Cadavers on display

WOWZA! I'd just finished reading Squasha's post about Body Worlds 2 when Petunia told me that she got me a ticket to their Museum of Science exhibit...for FREE! Yay! Thanks, Petunia! She's the greatest.

FYI, Petunia will not be going to the exhibit as she thinks it's nasty and wrong. And I quite agree, but that's why I want to see it. Also, I think it'll be neat.

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sweets from my sweetie!

Petunia sent me Godiva chocolates! Isn't she so thoughtful and kind? Through a fluke of the Godiva website, the chocolates arrived today instead of this time next week, when our MAPP class will be over. I told her I'd wait till next week to open the box, but I'm glad she gave me the go-ahead to open it today. I just had a praline chocolate truffle--divine! Thank you so much, Petunia. XOXO

Risky business

So last night was the Friends & Family MAPP class, and it actually went very well. The social workers didn't address the racism and homophobia issues from last week, but they did put together a great panel of adoptive parents and adults who lived through the foster care system as kids. Our Friends & Family were the incomparable Jenny PP and also L&L, and it was so good to have them there. Goodness knows we're going to need the support of all of Hester's aunties and uncles once our homestudy is approved, and especially once Hester comes home!

Perhaps the biggest news from yesterday is that after hearing one couple tell their story, Petunia and I are more willing to consider a high risk adoption placement. The parents who spoke last night talked about their unwavering faith that their kids would end up in the right place, whether that's with their birth parents or with their adoptive parents. In particular, the mom said that she sees raising her children as an honor and a gift, and she thinks that worrying about the children's future takes away from the joy they have now. It was very inspirational, and the parents offered us a way of looking at adoption from a position of hope rather than a position of fear. That's good news, eh?

So we're really thinking about it. It would mean that we'd be open to many more children, and to very young children as well. We could be talking about a straight-from-the-hospital newborn--OOH! That's a lot of incentive right there. And I guess DSS needs to recruit high risk parents, since most pre-adoptive parents are looking for kids who are free for adoption (no risk). The social workers explained to us that for DSS, it's best to place a high risk newborn with pre-adoptive parents rather than with foster parents, because if/when the child's goal changes from reunification to adoption, the kid will already be home. So that's very exciting news for us.

And also, this bears mentioning: It sounds like DSS placements can happen veeerrry quickly. One guy told a story about how he and his wife got their home study approved one day, and the next day they met their future child at one of those adoption parties (Petunia and I won't be doing these, FYI). And another family had just completed their homestudy when their children were born; they had to go pick them up in 2 days. How crazy is that? So I'm getting a little anxious about the waiting period. I want to have all of the important stuff done when our homestudy is approved. Plenty of stuff can wait, but we need to have many things in place when we begin to wait, just in case. If our match happens as quickly as some of those families, Hester could be home for the 2006 winter holidays. That's a panic-inducing thought (butohmygodhowFABULOUSwoulditbetohaveababythisyear!?!?). I guess everyone's right: plan for a short wait, but anticipate a long wait.

And y'all already know I plan by making lists!

Things to do during the homestudy:

--finish Hester's room; take scads of photos
--move desk & filing cabinets into office nook
--organize closet/office nook areas
--strip wallpaper and paint hallway upstairs (closet/office nook wallpaper can wait)
--order fabric for Hester's chair slipcover; make slipcover
--contact lawyer in Worcester for wills, etc.
--decide what Hester will call Petunia as well as her/his grandparents & great-grandparents
--decide about diapers
--line up professionals for consultation once match is made
--meet with our new pediatrician to be 100% sure she's the one for us (we're already 95% sure)
--make a family book to give to Hester if s/he is in foster care when we're matched
--save money for my maternity leave

Actually, that doesn't sound too bad. But then there are things we want to complete before the homestudy, like:

--giving the porch a 2nd coat of paint
--painting the entryway
--painting the front door
--making/finding wreath for front door
--painting the back steps
--finishing the bathroom trim
--finishing the baby's room trim
--repairing the basement steps
--vacuuming the basement

Okay, so that's definitely more work. Better get to it, I suppose!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Ooh, I was out raking up pine needles and maple tags at 6am and the air felt just like fall! I love fall. It's my favorite time of the year, when I'm all snuggly in sweaters and scarves but not actually cold. My favorite weather is sweater weather, and it's on its way!

On Friday I took the kids for a walk through the cemetery on our way to the river, and I am happy to report that Leaves Have Begun to Fall. Okay, it was only a couple of weeping willows and 2 diseased maple trees, but still. I'm not one of these folks who clings to the end of summer; I'm one who actively anticipates fall. I wonder if it's because I always liked school so much?

And speaking of school, I'm dying to buy some back-to-school supplies. I'm making myself wait until after Labor Day when school starts and everything goes on clearance, but it's tough. I'm a sucker for a Sharpie or a new box of crayons. When I was a kid, my mom bought us new boxes of crayons each year for school, even though we were poor and had perfectly serviceable (though broken and used) crayons from the year before. It was like this very special treat, and I loved that she recognized the power of the fresh crayon box.

But back to fall: New England is All About Fall. I'm sure that other parts of the country do fall in a big way; I went to high school in southeastern Virginia, for example, and fall was lovely there. But New England falls are spectacular, all crimson and pumpkin and gold. And we have Cider Day, Pet Rock, and The Big E, plus apple picking, cranberry harvest festivals, and all sorts of other fun things happening in the fall. It's good times up here, I promise.

And it's almost here!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Baby Pea

My new little baby is here today, all 11 lbs. of him asleep and dreaming. I've been looking forward to having another baby with me for 10 months now, and I'm so glad he's here! He's sweetness itself, all velvety skin and urgent little body. I had some trouble figuring out his preferred position for burping, but other than that we're getting along splendidly.

The other kids like him a lot, too. That's saying something, though I'm a little worried that the novelty of having a baby with us will wear off when they realize they can't haul him around and drop him on his head like they do their baby dolls. They sure like his accessories, though--the big kids have had a blast pretending to be babies with the soft rattles and the baby gym.

It's good times here in Kiddieville.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Birdbrain + Lennie = AJWP

So I misplaced my keys last night only to find them hanging on the key rack this morning (in a different place on the key rack, but still; also, I found them after I'd turned the house and car inside out looking for them). I thought I had an EENT appointment this evening, but it's actually on August 28. And I put the first piece of fabric for Hester's quilt in a "safe place," and it's so safe I can't find it at all. I think I'm overdue for a little sleep, don't you? This week hasn't been very restful!

But it has been nice in another way: Last night we received several more squares, scraps, and wishes for Hester's quilt, and they totally make me cry. Each piece is so unique, and each reflects its sender(s) so beautifully: S. and her family sent sage and cream fine-wale corduroy from her daughter's bedding (this is the fabric that's in the safe place, so it's not in the picture); S. sent a starfish/nautical fabric from her beachy home in RI; J&L couldn't decide on just one, so they gave us 3 different squares; L&K sent flowery summery pink and salmon fabric from their girls; and Petunia's brother's in-laws sent some colorful cat fabric in honor of their own kitties.

I admit that when I pulled them out to take this picture, I couldn't stop petting them. By the time Trista receives them, they're going to be threadbare. I put them in an old Godiva box I saved from Valentine's Day, and they make me so happy. Our friends and family are v. kind and so generous to us! I knew that the quilt would help Hester to feel loved and embraced by her/his community, but I didn't realize that it would do the same thing for Petunia and me. Trista is a genius!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

It's a neighborly day in this beautyhood

A couple of weeks ago, there was a shooting in our neighborhood. It happened early on a Sunday morning, but I never heard a thing. I woke up, reached for the Sunday paper, and was like, "Oh fuck--another shooting!"

So you might guess that we don't live in the nicest neighborhood, and you'd be guessing correctly. It's a real neighborhood in transition, and there's a lot of tension between the old way of life and the new way. It's not gentrification, either; it's new folks buying shitty old rundown houses, rehabbing them, and living in them by themselves (single family homes) or with their extended families (triple deckers). Mostly the folks who are doing this are immigrants from Africa, Vietnam, or Korea, but there are also some young white folks moving in from Boston and metrowest (like Petunia and me) and some folks from Puerto Rico.

Five to ten years ago, this part of town was a disaster. Picture burned out triple deckers lining the main road and drug-addicted folks squatting in them. Picture gang wars and sex trade and drug trade right out in the open, and you're pretty much picturing what our neighborhood used to look like. Add to that a couple of murdered bodies recovered in our neighborhood in the late 1980s and multiple shootings and stabbings (some fatal, some not), and you've got yourself the picture of a really bad neighborhood.

Nowadays, things are much improved. They've even improved from our first days here in summer 2004 when the crack house next door was open for business, the bar at the end of the street sold drugs, and there were trash bags full of dirty hypodermic needles on the sidewalk across the street. These days, children play together in the streets, neighbors leave each other flowers from their gardens, and houses are being painted and rehabbed everywhere you look. The dirty vacant lot on one corner is being turned into subsidized condos, and on another corner, a women's veterans' shelter is being put up. The drug den of a bar closed this past spring; in its place will be a pizza parlor and a computer repair store (imagine!). Things are looking up for this little neighborhood of ours.

But now, another shooting. And my neighbors are scared, and they ask each other and me, "What should we do? Should we try to move? Is the neighborhood going bad again?" And all I can think is that our little house is so lovely, and that we grow tomatoes here, and that (most of the time, when no one's driving by with kickin' bass) all you can hear in our backyard is the sound of the leaves and pine needles rustling in the wind. And that things really are getting better, and that we all just need to stick it out. We need to harness our pride in our homes and our families to make peace the norm for our neighborhood, just like we've been doing for the past several years. And when terrible things happen like this most recent shooting, we need to come together like we did last night, mourning the loss of peace but vowing to strengthen the neighborhood in the wake of violence.

It's not easy. It's scary sometimes. Sometimes I can't believe that my business thrives here, that we're planning to bring Hester Willa home to a place where Crips graffiti litters the landscape (but not for nothing, I really think the graffiti's just kids messing around). But then I remember that so many of my neighbors really care about this neighborhood and about each other, and how our neighborhood is so diverse, and how small businesses can grow and be supported here, and I think, "This is all I've ever wanted." Alan snowblows our driveway and sidewalks, Kim lets us hold her new baby, and Beth comes over to borrow a cup of sugar now and again. The neighborhood kids know my name, the kids' names, and Clara's name. Moving to this neighborhood allowed us to meet and become friends with Green Thumb, a treasure of a person and a truly wonderful neighbor. Despite its faults, our neighborhood is ideal in many ways.

And also, this neighborhood puts us to work! You can't be complacent in a neighborhood like ours; you have to get outside, pick up the trash on the street, and get to know your letter carrier. You have to call the DPW when there's another shopping cart on the sidewalk or Code Enforcement when you see animals eating trash off someone's front lawn, and you have to stop what you're doing on the weekends to make small talk with the lady next door about her dog's new haircut. When you live in a neighborhood like mine, you can make a real difference with your everyday actions. Our neighborhood takes all of the gifts we can give it, but it returns our efforts tenfold.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Last night

Last night's MAPP class was a complete train wreck. The topic was "Connecting with Birth Family, Kin, & Culture," and it made the crazy come out BIGTIME. Confidentiality be damned; the following things were actually said during last night's class:

--"I didn't bring Black people over on boats 250 years ago. I don't have anything to do with it."
--"Why is race such a big deal to them? It's not a big deal to me. I'd hate it if people identified me as white all the time."
--"We have people with alternative lifestyles in this class."
--"Now that everything's so multicultural and mixed race and everything, I don't see why we're making such a big deal about this. In the olden days maybe, but not now."
--"Why are you talking about race so much? This isn't even about race, it's about culture."
--"I can't believe [that mom on the video] said she needs to teach her [Black son] about driving while Black. That's crazy! She's setting him up to see white people and police as all bad!"

The social workers did a very poor job at facilitating the learning. The class was unsafe and it was fucked up. Petunia and I put in a call to them today to ask what the hell happened and to offer them some resources on systems of oppression theory. Here's hoping they acknowledge the situation; it'll suck even worse if they think that yesterday's class was a "good discussion."

I took the whole thing really personally. Too personally, probably. I live my life in such a way that people don't often tell me that I have an "alternative lifestyle," so when it happened I was flabbergasted. And since Hester Willa will most likely be a child of color, every racist comment made me feel crazy protective over our child-to-be. I shed a few tears in the bathroom during break time last night, but now I'm ready to address the racism and heterosexism head-on.

In the meantime, only 2 more classes to go. Then our homestudy will begin.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Lone Star State

Y'all don't even wanna think about messin' with Texas! Especially not at the end of October, since that's when I'll be visiting my brother Orca and his GF Beluga. The 2 lovebirds (lovewhales? That doesn't sound right) just moved in together and they're blissfully happy, and I'm going to crash their party in a mere couple of months. I'm so excited!

On AJWP's Texas-Size To Do List:
--eat as many Pink Lady with Cream snowcones as my digestive system will allow
--partake of many a Tex-Mex meal with Orca and Beluga
--visit the marine mammals that Orca and Beluga rescue, if they'll let me (I promise I won't touch anything)
--parade up and down the seawall and the historic district
--ride in Orca's Mini Cooper (too bad he drives stick so I can't drive it myself)
--tell tales on Orca (his "doll collection," his childhood nicknames, the time I tricked him about The Golden Girls, etc.). Beluga needs to know what she's gotten herself into!
--see if I can't find Canada one of those t-shirts she wants
--help Orca prepare Beluga for our family's Christmas celebration--it'll be her first time celebrating the holidays with The Fam
--go wherever Orca and Beluga suggest...Sea World, San Antonio, anywhere they want

I'm ready for a Texas-size adventure!

Heh heh--She said "Gay Head."

Okay, so it nearly killed me to let Petunia use the computer yesterday while the kids were asleep. She was home with our Reuben and needed it for work-related purposes, which definitely trumps posting on Blogger, but it was hard to hold back. That's cuz I have lots to report, the first thing being that it's doubly confirmed: I don't have a goiter. So suck it, crazy doctah.

As you might assume, on Friday I had a physical. Good news: I'm healthy, at least on the surface. My bloodwork should come back in a week or two, so I'm waiting for that. Here's some bad news, though: my mom had her own lab work done recently and it turns out she's diabetic. Please think good thoughts for her.

Friday night Petunia and I got the hell out of dodge and went to Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It was gorgeous out there in the Berkshires, and it made me realize how much fun it'll be to take Hester there as s/he grows and changes over the years. Friday's concert was a Bach/Handel lineup, and it was wonderful! Js like me gotta love the Baroque composers.
We had lawn tickets at Tanglewood.

On Saturday we went out to Martha's Vineyard; it was our first time out there. Everyone's right--the Vineyard is gorgeous! It was the perfect day for a lovely time with my sweetie.

Aquinnah Cliffs with Gay Head lighthouse--yes, that's its real name.

Also on Saturday, I learned that my former housemate M. and her wife I. have a new son! I'm thrilled for them, and I can't wait to hear more about their baby boy. Congratulations, M., on the arrival of baby Roo!

And that's it so far. Reuben's doing well today after his surgery yesterday, and we have our 6th MAPP class tonight (topic: connecting with birth kin and culture). I'm down in numbers today because of a conjunctivitis outbreak, and I'm making the most of my low-key day. I'll write more soon.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A brief rant

If I tell you in a formal letter on June 19 that I'm taking a caregiver vacation day on August 11, and then I remind you verbally at the end of July, and then I write a reminder note on your child's daily sheet last week, and then I write another reminder note on his daily sheet today, WHY DO YOU ACT ALL SURPRISED WHEN I SAY, "SEE YOU ON MONDAY!"?

Clearly, you are of the P persuasion. That is fine; many of my best friends are Ps (ha). I, of course, am a J--and a Super J at that. So I understand that you might not be all hardcore organized and shit, but GODDAMN, could you please buy yourself a frickkin calendar and USE IT?

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck.

Toughest job in the Army

Last night I called home to talk with my parents and grandma about Hester's quilt. All 3 of them are going to send fabric and wishes, and they're sending things from their dog and cat as well. When I talked with my dad, he told me that he wanted to send a camouflage bandanna from his Army days, one that he used to wear when he was in the field. I was so touched, and I thanked him for thinking of such a perfect piece of fabric.

And BAM! just like that, I flashed back to sights and sounds from my childhood: My dad polishing his big black boots, and the way our black cat Molly stuck her face down into them when he took them off; my dad's olive green duffel bag, packed and ready to go by the door; the matching friendship bracelets I made for him and me whenever he went away; helicopters taking off and landing alongside Orca's and my soccer field; armed military police patrolling our schools in Germany and the bomb checks we had to go through before our buses could come onto base; being really little and running to catch up with my dad--a tall man in uniform--and taking his hand before discovering that the man wasn't actually my dad at all, just another soldier in BDUs.

It's powerful, all this Army brat stuff. It's a central part of my identity. The last time it came up in a big way was when we bought our house--the feeling of putting down roots after a whole life on the run was indescribable. These days, I think about it in terms of how it'll help me relate to Hester Willa--loss after loss after loss, though I was very fortunate to always have my parents, brother, and pets with me. And there are the resiliencies I gained, too, like being quick to adapt to new environments and learning to be hella organized. Sometimes folks ask what it was like to grow up that way; the truth is, I didn't understand that there were other options until I was 10. It was just our life, good, bad, or both.

After I got off the phone with my dad, I looked for Army brat blogs on Blogger. I didn't find any I wanted to read, but I did find the list I posted below. The list totally made me stop cold--I haven't thought about some of the things on there for many years, but other things remain with me to this day. Check it out--that's the Army brat's life in a nutshell.

Army brat list

You Know You Are A Military Brat If You ...

**Knew the rank and name of the kid next door's father before meeting the kid next door.
**Went on week-long field trips to England, France, or Hungary.
**Stood up for the National Anthem at the start of a movie in a theater.
**Name schools on two continents when asked what high school you attended.
**Never quite finished decorating your place because you knew you'd be moving soon.
**Find that you can easily amuse yourself for hours at airports, train, or bus stations.
**Graduated from a high school you only attended for a year.
**Have friends who complain about your name being the most scratched out in their address books.
**Bagged groceries at the commissary on payday.
**Can ask for a beer in several European languages.
**Don't really know how to answer the question, "What is your hometown?"
**Don't remember the names of your childhood friends.
**Do not understand why many of your friends are afraid to be in an airplane.
**Have to explain that being born in Germany does not make you German.
**Ever tried to take out your ID card when you entered a civilian grocery store.
**Always wish you were back at the last place you were stationed, even 20 years later.
**Answer the question, "Where are you from?" with, "I'm kinda from all over the place."
**Are amazed at and sometimes jealous of people who have lived somewhere for more than three consecutive years.
**Look down on people who have never left their hometowns.
**Are amazed at people who have never seen foreign currency.
**Were asked, "Is it hard always moving around?" when you've never known anything different. **Could recite all of the AFRTS commercials along with the television.
**Can talk to anyone and everyone from anywhere and everywhere.
**Every room you ever had until you left home was stark white, and you couldn't put nail holes in the walls.
**Feared turning 21 because they would take your ID card away.
**Felt like you should be visiting the States rather than living in them.
**Felt like a part of history that was happening around you.
**Get frustrated when others talk about going to their hometown to see old friends, teachers, etc.
**Still get the itch to move every 3-4 years.
**Sometimes feel like an outsider in the civilian world.
**Went into culture shock upon returning to the States.
**Have USAA as your insurance company.
**Think nostalgically about your childhood when military aircraft fly by as civilians complain about the noise.
**Know exactly how horrible AFN commercials were.
**Know how great it is to be able to return to base and your little slice of America.
**Think about PCSing when you hear the words "Mayflower" or "North American."
**Know what the relative value of a pfenning, euro, won, or yen is compared to the U.S. dollar.
**Know about a variety of cultures.
**Ever met another military brat and were instantly bonded.
**Miss shopping at AAFES or the PX.
**Realized that the latest fashions in the States were not the same clothes you bought at the PX.
**Start a major portion of your conversations with "When I was in...."
**Talk to someone with an accent and pick it up yourself.
**Know what time it is when the clock says 14:36.
**Tell everyone you are from a town that you haven't lived in since you were 4 years old.
**Think locals have such a limited perspective.
**Graduated from 12th grade and it's your 13th (or 18th) school .
**Your SSN, home of record, state of residence, and place of birth are far from matching.
**Know what a "click" means.
**Ever had an MP walking patrol go through your neighborhood.
**Know what an MP is.
**Cringed and thought about how much you hated MPs when I mentioned them.
**Have eaten an MRE.
**Know what an MRE is.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Interesting facts about adopting through DSS

More things that I've learned about adopting through DSS:

1. We can't take our child out of state without getting permission from the kid's social worker beforehand. Since we sometimes hop in the car and drive up to Portsmouth, Portland, or Kittery, we're going to need to be careful with this. It's my understanding that permission's always granted, but the social worker needs to know where your child is at all times.

2. We can't consent to surgery on behalf of our child. If Hester needs surgery, her/his social worker will have to give the consent. I assume this doesn't apply in emergency situations, but I will check that out ASAP.

3. We're really not supposed to cut our child's hair into a different style or make any drastic changes to her/his physical appearance between placement and finalization. This isn't a hard rule, just a courtesy we're supposed to give the birth parents.

4. We can't take our child outside the United States, period (sorry, Canada!). Passports are almost never given to kids in care, and vacation is never a reason for issuing them. I guess I can kiss goodbye my dream of taking a preschool-age Hester to Aruba! (And side note: Since the US Passport Service won't grant Petunia and me passports in our legal married names, we're SOL anyway. Fucking DOMA! Gah.)

5. Our kid can be covered under both MassHealth and our private insurance. I called the private insurance today, and they're giving us one covered pediatrician interview meeting free. We'll have to pay out of pocket for any additional interviews we might need. Anyone know a great pediatrician in Worcester?

6. DSS makes you start taking your child for annual dental exams at age 3. That seems wrong to me; I always thought you were supposed to go much earlier than that.

I think that's it. It's a whole new world, this DSS adoption thing. I hope they'll give us a regulations manual so we know what we're responsible for. I don't want to be fucking it up and not even know it.

Government cheese

Last night's MAPP class should have been very difficult since it was all about the sequelae of sexual abuse and domestic violence. However, it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Petunia and I know many survivors of childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence, so nothing we heard last night was new to us.

What was new to me, however, is that our child will be eligible for WIC. I knew about MassHealth, and MBHP, and free state college tuition, but I didn't know that our kid will qualify for WIC from time of placement until legalization. That's awesome news, since WIC's such a great program. I've been a big proponent of WIC since high school, and I'm psyched that our child will be eligible for benefits. Free milk, grain, fruit...hello! That's a Big C. parent's dream come true! I'm glad our country does something right where children and families are concerned.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Dear New Englanders,

Can you recommend a campsite on the Cape with the following amenities? My perfect campsite:

--allows dogs
--allows campfires
--has private hot showers
--has toilets
--has somewhat private campsites

Petunia and I want to go camping with Clary B. after Labor Day, but I'm not so down with the whole shitting in the woods thing. Or with cold showers. Or, really, with nature. Thank you in advance for your advice.


Monday, August 07, 2006


It's August 7, so today my 2nd youngest child turned two. This means that today is the day that Petunia and I are finally able to reapply to DSS for adoption. We've waited nearly 14 months for today to arrive, and it's actually here. And some unusual things have happened today:

--Petunia wore her "Adopting" t-shirt from Not Showing, and she'd forgotten that today was The Day when she got dressed early this morning.
--Hester's new quilt arrived, and it's gorgeous! Trista only sent it out on Saturday, so it got here much more quickly than we'd expected.
--We went out to eat tonight to celebrate The Day, and a staff member complimented Petunia on her t-shirt. "My friend makes those," he told us. It turns out he knows Wendy and her husband, and he'll be meeting their new son Jake soon.
--When we got home from dinner, we discovered that our neighbor Green Thumb had stopped by with some squash and zucchini for us. She also left us a huge bouquet of golden flowers.

Coincidences, friends? Maybe, maybe not.

I'm so happy.

Our weekend

Here's what Petunia and I were up to this weekend:

On Friday we went to Shakespeare in the Park. It's held on the Common every year, and this year's play is Taming of the Shrew. It was an awesome production, but because I'm a loser with a 9pm bedtime, I missed the second act in order to catch some shut-eye. Yes, right there on the lawn, drooling apricot turkey crepe onto my sweatshirt. Classy lady!

On Saturday morning Petunia and I asked our dear friends Trista and her husband R. to be Hester's godparents. They said yes! Our family just got a little bit bigger. I feel so blessed.

On Saturday afternoon, Petunia and I took a spur-of-the-moment trip to the wilds of Northampton, MA. I went to college in Northampton, and it's still the place I feel most at home. While we were there, we did tons of shopping. It seemed like the whole town was having a sale, so we got some things for ourselves, our workplaces, and for Hester Willa:

Check out this neon yarn from Dalegarn! I've been eyeing it since it came out, wanting to make some crazy '80s-style knit garments for Hester. They had it on sale at Northampton Wool for $1/ball! And they also had my v. favorite Wendy brand Touch It Feel It Love It, which I always said I'd get for our baby, for $3/ball. Yowza!

And then to make me even happier, my favorite hippie children's store (it's a Waldorf shop) had a 70% off sale on many children's books! I got a bunch for work and a couple for Hester, plus Petunia picked out a great CD for Hester. And then I found some board books at The Raven, a used bookstore, for wicked cheap, too! Blogger won't let me upload the photo of all the books, but believe me when I tell you they're awesome.

On Sunday, we planned to get up early to paint the porch (2nd coat), but instead we slept in. We spent most of the day making cards and writing letters, which was restful and fun. We also composed and sent out emails to our friends and family, asking them for fabric squares for Hester's 100 Good Wishes quilt, which Trista will be making for her/him (it was Trista's idea; boy, aren't we lucky to have such a generous and talented friend?). And on Sunday night, we went over to our friends L&Y's house for dinner. We haven't seen much of them since their honeymoon, so it was super nice to catch up with them.

And that was it--that was our weekend. It was a really good one!

Thanks, Blogger

These are the books and the CD we got in Northampton. Check it out: we got 10 books and a CD for the price of 2 books! The Big Cs strike again, baby.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

schatzi baby

I have some exciting news to share: Our dear friend Trista has started her own quilt business! The divine Miss T. is a v. talented artist and therapist, and she's designed and created a line of one-of-a-kind baby quilts. She's calling it schatzi baby, and you can check out her work here. If you're expecting a baby, know someone who is, or have a little one of your own, a schatzi baby quilt would be the perfect gift. I'm not just saying that cuz she's my friend, either; Trista made me an apron and oven mitt to use for my business, and the kids (and their parents) love them!

Here's the Orange Bubbles Oh! quilt we bought for Hester Willa.
Congratulations, Trista, on the grand opening of your online store! Petunia and I are v. proud of you.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Hester's baby book

Last night Petunia worked late, so I hopped in the Grey Ghost and headed over to the Christmas Tree Shop (and adjacent candy shop for some chocolate covered gummi bears. LOVE THEM). But anyway, guess what I found in the children's section for $2.99:

Hester Willa's baby book!

Some of the entries won't apply to Hester's situation, but most of them will. And also, there's a special page just for kids who were adopted! The language for parents isn't gender-specific, though it's definitely written for 2 parents and the grandparents are always called "Grandma & Grandpa." Still, it'll work nicely for our particular constellation of family. And not for nothing, the kids I know are crazy for Todd Parr. I think that Hester will get a kick out of his/her wacky baby book (not to be confused with his/her lifebook).

Yay, Big C.!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Going with my gut

Two weeks ago, I got a referral for my business from one of my current families. Their neighbor was looking for 10 hours/week for their little girl, so they passed along my name. I thanked them warmly and waited for the call, and when I got it I told the other family that although I didn't have any openings right now, they'd be the first family on my waiting list.

Well, the mom called back and asked if I had any time at all, elaborating that she'd like 10 hours, but saying that she can make do with whatever I have. She sounded aggressive and desperate. Against my better judgment (and not wanting to lie), I told her I had Mondays available for another child. She said that sounded great; I told her I needed to touch base with my other families to be sure nobody's schedule was changing in the fall.

It turned out that no one else needed that Monday slot, but when I called back to offer it to her, the mom interrogated me in a rude and unprofessional manner. She tried to get me to change my available interview times from after work to weekends, then tried to guilt me into changing the times I said she could visit my program with her daughter (I'd said 10a-12p any day; she wanted to come during my kids' naptime when her child would still be awake). I started feeling really uneasy--all the signs pointed to a high maintenance and humorless mom, someone I'd never willingly choose to work with. But I talked about it with Petunia, and we agreed that we could use the money. I called back the mom, and we said we'd meet for interviews and paperwork on the 19th. I wasn't looking forward to it, but I knew she planned to have her daughter start preschool in fall 2007. "It's only for a year," I told myself, "And besides, I can infiltrate the Tatnuck Sq. market."

But then yesterday my new baby came to visit, and my unease about the prospective new family turned to dread. I was so excited to meet baby Pea and to see his mom again, and it made me realize how much I didn't want to meet the other family. So I weighed the pros (more money; the family had been referred by a current family; I'd have a good presence in an affluent neighborhood) and cons (the mom sounded like a nightmare to work with; I'd have to balance the needs of a new toddler as well as a new infant with the needs of kids already enrolled; I might piss off the referring family), and decided to listen to my gut. Something feels very wrong about this family, and I don't feel comfortable taking them on. It felt wrong from the first conversation I had with the mom, and it feels even worse now. I called this morning and left a polite and gracious message for the mom, explaining why I couldn't take on her daughter at this time.

I feel lighter than I have in days.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


This morning Josie ran down cellar as I was emptying the dehumidifier. When I picked her up to carry her upstairs, I realized she had a 4-inch long wood shard sticking out of her abdomen. At first feel, an inch or so of wood seemed to be just below the surface of her skin--just a splinter, though a frickkin' huge splinter. But a little while later, I picked her up and thought I felt the wood going into muscle or internal organs.

Petunia hightailed it home from Boston to take Jo to the vet, and we were lucky to learn that the wood didn't pierce anything besides skin. Josephine'll take an antibiotic and we'll torture her with warm compresses, but she'll be just fine. I, however, am not so fine.

It felt AWFUL to know that I had families depending on me when I needed to take care of my cat. Petunia came home to cover, but she won't be able to do that all the time--she has kids and families who depend on her, too. If the situation had been a clear-cut emergency (bleeding, Jo acting weird, etc. rather than Jo acting fine), I would have cancelled my 3 families without a second thought. But since it was only a dicey situation rather than an out-and-out emergency, I felt so torn.

I pride myself on the consistency of my child care program, and the only accommodation I've asked families to make in almost 2 years of business is for my MAPP class. I haven't called in sick or taken time off without giving at least 2 weeks' written notice; usually, it's closer to 4 months' notice. But now I'm going to become a mom, and I'm worried about the standard of care all around. I worry that I won't be able to care for Hester because I'll be meeting the needs of 5 other families (and getting paid to do so, don't forget), and I worry that I won't be able to meet my families' needs because I'll be caring for my son or daughter. Gah--I wish this felt easier. I guess it's the first of many, many work/home struggles and compromises Petunia and I will have to make when we become parents.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Did you know that I was in Mu Alpha Theta*?

In the mail today from my bank:

"This advice is to notify you of an error in your ATM deposit which was made on the above referenced date. The corrected deposit listed in the 'New Amount' has been processed to your account."

So I scanned down the letter and GUESS WHAT! I fucked up my math and shorted myself $100 on a recent deposit. The bank caught my error (can you believe it?) and credited me the Benjamin. That's rad, but what makes me feel like a complete idiot is that they copied the back of my deposit envelope with my handwritten shitty math that reads, "$195+$40=$135." What's even worse is that when I saw their figure--$235--I was like, "Oh shit, the bank fucked up." It took me three tries to get it to come out like they did and to understand my error.

Note to self: Carry the one, dumbass.

*High school math club, baby! They invited me to join because I had awesome grades in math. I guess they didn't know that I sat with my math teachers for 1:1 tutoring most days after school. Sorry, suckahs! You know I put it on my college applications, though.