Friday, September 29, 2006

Sick as a dog

Clary B. is sick today. She vomited twice during the night and several times early this morning before hosing down the living room with another vom spray just before lunch. During naptime she had diarrhea indoors, and she had it again tonight when Petunia and I came back from date night (nothing says romance like dog diarrhea, eh?). The vet says not to worry too much and to give her a bland diet of chicken and rice, so that's what we're doing. But poor, poor Clara! She's so sad, and she looks so guilty when she shits in the house. We're very gentle with her and tell her we're sorry she's feeling crummy, but her body language says she thinks she's in trouble. Poor baby! I'll be sleeping downstairs on the couch tonight to be sure she's doing okay. Since she usually sleeps on our bed, I'd feel awful if we abandoned her while she's sick. Let's hope this last bout of diarrhea was her last!

Neighborhood throwdown

Remember Pregnant Neighbor? She's not pregnant anymore and I've hardly seen her since the baby was born 2 months ago. However, she stopped by uninvited yesterday afternoon when I was out in the yard with the kids. Thankfully, her visit was brief; I was just fixin' to tell her I needed to focus on the children when she up and left. This morning I heard from her again and the situation was Not Good.

Here's the back story: Petunia and I live in front of a very strange man and woman. They have this dog, a growling, barking, snarling mutt they call Checkie, and you never see that dog unless one or both of them is yelling at it to hurry up and go potty. Also, they used to throw their dog's shit in our yard. We put up a no trespassing sign and I spoke with the man about it and eventually it stopped, but not before Petunia actually slipped and fell in dog shit that had been covered by falling leaves. So you might say that we go out of our way to avoid this couple. In fact, if I see them out in their yard, I make sure the kids and I aren't anywhere near them. I'd do the same with Clara, but she avoids them on her own. [A weird side note: Ever since I told the man off last year, they've called our dog "Happy Puppy." WTF? Damned right she's happy--she gets to go outside without her people yelling at her, "Checkie, go to the baaathroom!" three times a day. Issues!]

So Not Pregnant Neighbor called me early this morning to tell me about an altercation she'd just had with these very same Strange Rangers. Her kids had been on the Strange Rangers' porch talking to a stray cat; the Strange Rangers came out with Checkie, saw the kids there, and flipped out. "Get the fuck off our porch!" they allegedly yelled. When Not Pregnant Neighbor yelled back at them to quit swearing at her kids, they cussed some more and threatened to tell the police that she and her baby's daddy are targeting them for a hate crime. Whaaa? So of course Not Pregnant Neighbor saw their threat and raised it, calling the police her ownself (I love that southern expression) and filing a complaint against the Strange Rangers. An hour later, she called to ask me to file an affidavit saying that her children are well-behaved.

Can you even believe this crazy drama? We really do have some v. nice neighbors, but these folks are nuts! Obviously, I will not be filing an affidavit, and I will not be getting involved with this craziness. I liked it better when NPN was being rude about her shower gifts and bragging about her belly. Oh, those were the days!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Wanna play a fun game?

Pretend you're a social worker who needs to find a family for an infant . You stumble across the homestudy of a nice lesbian couple who sound like a decent match for your baby. [Now comes the fun part.] What kind of photo would you like to see of that couple before you call their social worker and suggest a match? What things do you want that photo to say to you? Specifically, what do you think of the following photo description?

This photo was taken outside in Vermont in the fall when we celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary (we still look the same). It's a self-portrait of our faces against the backdrop of fall leaves, but it doesn't look like a self-portrait. We look outdoorsy (ha!), homey (we're wearing scarves we knit ourselves), and couple-y (our faces are cheek-to-cheek). This photo hangs in our hallway upstairs. It's one of my favorites.

Does this photo send up any red flags to you? Does it send any messages you'd rather not receive? Can you think of a better photo we might include with our homestudy? We have pictures from weddings (ours and other people's), vacations, the beach, parties, etc. Let me know what you think, 'kay?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

As promised...

Here's the underbelly of that scary, ginormous spider. Eek!

AJWP vs. arachnophobia

Once upon a time way back when I was 7, my mom noticed a big spider in our house. She picked up a shoe and whacked it, but it didn't die. [Cue horror movie music.] Instead, hundreds of babies swarmed off its back and scattered around the foyer; they went into our shoes and rug and made a beeline for the stairs. I nearly died when I saw that, and I've been freaked out about spiders ever since. They scare the shit out of me, and I go all lightheaded and twitchy when I see them.

A couple of weeks ago, Petunia and I were getting out of the car when she was all, "I've been meaning to tell you that there's a really gorgeous spider in our garden. It has the most beautiful web." I twitched a bit and said, "I don't want to know anything about it," but thought to myself, "AARRGGHH! Ix-nay on the ider-spay discussion, Petunia!" But she kept talking about it, and finally my curiosity was piqued. I screwed up my courage and told her I wanted to see it. Petunia led me over to the corner of the garden right by the compost bin (the very same compost bin I use every day, folks!), and pointed to a GINORMOUS evil-looking yellow and black spider in a web. When I saw it, I could barely breathe. Seriously, I thought I was going to fall down. The fucker is huge and evil and scary and BIG, and it lives right by the compost bin in a gigantic web with fucking ZIGZAGS in it. Once I'd stopped shaking, I vowed not to compost again until it was gone. Petunia told me she'd relocate it, but I couldn't stand the thought of her near it.

But every day since then, I've checked on that fucking spider. It freaks me out, but I need to be sure it hasn't moved and gone into the house and crawled into the pantry or something. It's so scary, but it's better to know where it is. On Friday, one of the kids' dads saw me looking for it, so I showed it to him. "Oh my GOD!" he yelled and jumped backwards. "What is that thing? Is it poisonous?" he asked. And then I had something new to freak about--I hadn't even considered the possibility of poison. "I doubt it," I told him, pretending to be brave, "It's just a big garden spider." But what the fuck do I know?

So I googled "big black and yellow spider" until I found my nemesis, and here's what it turned out to be: an Argiope Aurantia, aka Golden Orb-Weaver. Not poisonous, beautiful web reinforced by zigzags cuz it's so fucking huge, eats insects, yada yada. By this point, the spider hadn't moved for 2 weeks or more, preferring to stay right in the center of its humongous web and eat mummified gnats and shit. I decided to try not to fear it, and also to take a photo of it for posterity's sake.

And so this morning found me outside with my camera some 3 feet from the spider and its hideous web of doom. I managed to get a blurry photo of the damned thing's underbelly, for which you know I used the zoom lens (and also, I could only take a picture of its stomach because looking at its back made me feel faint). However, the kids got all excited when they saw me taking pictures of it and they shook the garden fence, which made the spider drop off its web and run away into my neighbor's yard. Holy shit!!! Now there's a ginormous spider on the loose and it's all my fault! I liked it better in our yard, because at least I knew where it was.

Dear Huge Scary Spider,

Please come back soon. I need to know where you are.



Stupid Blogger won't let me post a photo right now, but I'll add one soon.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Picture perfect

Our mountain of adoption paperwork is almost complete. Our three personal references are winging their way back to us, and Petunia will get her medical reference on October 17 at her doctor's appointment. The only thing left to procure is...a single family photo. One family photo. If they'd asked for 5 photos, I'd be more comfortable. Just one photo? That's stressful!

Asshat Extraordinaire talks with Emily & Amy

You know what's funny? Frickin' Tom Ashbrook talking with the Indigo Girls during last week's show. He's such an ass. You can check it out here.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Weekend road trip

After a wonderful weekend with Petunia in western Mass, today was a rude shock. It was a decent day with the kids, but I sure wished I was back at Atkins Farms, or the Northampton farmers market, or the Book Mill. We'll be going back out there this weekend for The Big E, so I'll be sure to bring the camera this time. Too bad we're going on Sunday--J. will be out there on Saturday!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Change, Dare, Worry, Scissors

Welcome to the first ever Life in Two Keys meme!

A confession: I've never done a meme because I'm not sure how to pronounce the word "meme." I know that's a little crazy, but there you have it.* For real, is it meme like "me-me" or meme like "meem"? Or is it something altogether different like "mem," all Frenchy-like? says "meem," but can we really trust them? How do you pronounce "meme"?

At any rate, I got this free-association meme from J.'s site, Cheese and Whine, and I thought it would be fun to play. You just have to take the 4 words provided and write something about them. Here goes....

This is the central theme in my life right now. We're fixin' to become parents, and I know our lives will change forever. That shit is scary, but it's really exciting, too.

This isn't really Dare; it's DARE. When I was in 6th grade, a police officer came to our school to tell us about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. This was just before the DARE program started, but it was close enough that I always think of this particular officer as my DARE officer. This dude was telling us about the addictive properties of cocaine, saying that if you use it just once, you can become addicted. As he talked, I thought about my dad; the poor guy had just had sinus surgery and the surgeon used cocaine to numb his face. All I could think was that because he'd "tried it once," my dad was going to become a coke addict and lose his job and beat his kids, just like the officer said. The result? I came thisclose to reporting my dad to the police. Poor Daddoo!

Ha! I'm an expert worrier, but I'm trying to curb it. My new motto when it comes to worrying: There's no use borrowing trouble.

How much did I love Augusten Burroughs' Running with Scissors? I loved it so much. I'm a total memoir junkie. But now they've made it into a movie, which scares me a little. Will it be as poignant and funny and disturbing as the book? I hope so.

So that's it, my first meme. If you want to play the 4 Words Meme with me, here are 4 new words for you: bruise, pickle, dream, and asshat. I don't want to tag folks, because what if you can't pronounce "meme" either? That would be wicked awkward.

*Do not oppress me for my J-hood, Ms. JPP, cuz I happen to know that you're all crazy about The Words, too.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

15 minutes of fame

I was a total star at last night's infant/child CPR recertification class thanks to my great maternity shirt from Not Showing. It was really overwhelming, but in a good way: The minute I stepped into the classroom, people started exclaiming over my shirt and asking how far along I am (seriously, they used those words). It turned out that one woman in the class is a mom through private domestic adoption and another woman's brother adopted 4 kids through DSS. Holy mackerel! Folks were sharing resources and telling stories and asking questions--it was a great experience.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Here's a kick to the stomach...

Melissa Murgo didn't win yesterday's primary. It would seem that voters in my district are perfectly happy to have the representation of a child abusing, wife abusing, homophobic fuckerface. Melissa came v. close, but she didn't go over the top. When I heard, I felt like puking. My stomach still hurts today. It'll hurt for the next two years.

Recap: Homestudy, Part 1

Yesterday was our first homestudy visit, and it went very well. Even so, it's such a relief to have it over!

I had a really tough day with the kids yesterday--v. short naps for 3 kids, plus one kid who seemed hellbent on a visit to the emergency room (he kept trying to somersault from the sandbox to the concrete patio, and he's only 22-months old). Their parents showed up right at 5:30pm, thank goodness, although one of them was all, "Oh, is tonight that thing you wrote on the sheet? We didn't know when it was." GAHHHHH! But he left quickly, mercifully, so I could change my spit-uppy shirt, hose down the kitchen table, and sweep the floors. Petunia got home at 5:45pm and took care of the furbabies' dinner while helping to pick up a little, too. Ms. Stork arrived promptly at 6pm; although I could have used a few extra minutes to calm down, I was glad she was on time. She came in and complimented the organization of our house, which was v. kind of her. Then we all sat down and got to talkin'.

It turns out we're right on target about the kinds of scenarios we can expect. Ms. Stork brought an email from a social worker who's currently looking for a preadoptive family for a 3-week old baby; Ms. Stork thought it would be good for us to see the type of match we're likely to be offered. The scenario she brought is just what we've been imagining, too: The baby's mom tested positive for drugs twice during pregnancy, and she was in a treatment program while pregnant. The baby was born addicted to methadone and a 51A was filed by the hospital. DSS took custody of the baby; the mom was discharged, left the treatment program, and disappeared. The baby's birthmom had 2 older kids who'd been removed from her home at an earlier date; those kids were living with relatives. Relatives were contacted about taking this baby, too, but they declined. They also weren't sure about allowing sibling visitation with the baby. Now the baby's social worker is looking for a preadoptive family who can weather the court process to terminate the birthmom's rights (no word about the birthdad's whereabouts), which will probably take several years. Bottom line: This baby could be our Hester Willa's twin. I'm glad we've been anticipating the right sorts of things.

So it's sounding more and more likely that Hester will be an infant rather than a toddler. That's SO EXCITING, though I'm getting scared about the whole sleep deprivation thing! Ms. Stork said that we should give it 6-8 months from November before we start getting nutty about waiting, and that feels about right to me. When it happens, it's going to happen very quickly, so it seems like we could put our time to better use by celebrating our last months of life pre-baby. Ms. Stork had news for us about the legal risk thing, too--she said that in the several years she's worked at The Home, all of the legal risk placements were eventually finalized. That's sad in so many respects, but it's also reassuring to us as a prospective adoptive family.

We asked Ms. Stork tons of questions, though I chickened out about the ABF question after we learned that it's best not to baptize your baby until after TPR (termination of parental rights). My individual meeting with her is coming up on Columbus Day, so I think I'll ask about it then. Petunia's individual meeting will happen on October 11, and then we just have one more long meeting to go until our part of the homestudy is over. Unbelievable, eh?

Here are some things I liked about Ms. Stork last night:

--She was really casual about the whole thing. She asked us questions in a relaxing kind of way, so that it was more of a conversation than an interview. I appreciated that.

--She empathized with us about the first time we applied to DSS. She told us we didn't need to have a car seat or a crib until our child comes home; in fact, she said it was better to learn more about our child's age and size before we got those things (hello! that's what we told the last social worker!). She even said, "C'mon, babies can sleep in drawers if they need to." That's my kind of logic.

--She said the word "lesbian" comfortably--no self-consciousness, flinching, or inappropriate smiling from her! I can't stress how important this is. She seems like she's going to be a great advocate for our family.

So that's that, our first homestudy visit is over. I think the next two will be more relaxed (she even said that she and I could meet in a Starbucks since her office will be closed that day), and then the last visit will be just fine. Now that she's been to the house and she didn't run away screaming, I'm more confident about her next visit.

Thanks to all of you who have kept Petunia and me in your thoughts throughout this long and grueling process. It's been so helpful to have this little online community, and I've leaned on you more than you know.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Homestudy, Part 1

Well, the house is as ready as it's going to get. Petunia and I are tired but optimistic, with jangly nerves and occasional adrenaline spikes. At this point I'm just praying it's actually going to happen at 6pm, because I sure as hell don't want to go through another first homestudy visit prep period!

Yesterday's mail brought glad tidings, including that great sock monkey from my folks. We also received a card from Petunia's friend S. with photos of her 2 girls, and I received my order from Discount School Supply. I ordered play food for the kids and a calendar/weather system for our newly implemented circle time, and both things ended up being much bigger and nicer than I'd thought they'd be. Also, Petunia brought me a gorgeous bouquet of flowers to celebrate this latest step in our journey to parenthood. As far as I'm concerned, all of that signals a good start to our homestudy.

In other news, it's Primary Day here in MA, which means my nerves are shot anyway. I woke up in the middle of the night all freaked out, and it wasn't about the homestudy; it was about the race for 16th Worcester state rep. EEK! It's gotten very nasty and it's such a close race; let's just hope she bests him this time. Yay, Melissa Murgo!

Monday, September 18, 2006

It's a sock monkey!

Check out Hester's first toy from her/his grandparents--isn't it SUPER cute?

It goes perfectly with the orange sock monkey fabric we got for the nursery chair's slipcover. I just love it, and I know our kid will love it, too.

Also, how perfect is my parents' timing? We received their gift the day before our first homestudy visit! That's awesome. I'm feeling v. lucky and grateful.

Saturday, September 16, 2006 The Big E

The Big E opens this weekend! Too bad we have such a full schedule of activism, home repair, and cleaning today. If we can get it all done, maybe we can go there tomorrow. The sky poured on us last year, and I was disappointed that they closed the giant slide because of the rain. Also, I really wanted to milk a goat. I liked the Avenue of States, though--that's where we got a big bag of organic lavender seeds (I made cookies and sachets with them) and a handmade kitty comforter for Bubby.

I think I'll always associate The Big E with our little kitty Madeleine's death. We went there exactly a month after she died, trying to distract ourselves from our grief at losing her so unexpectedly. Reuben had a really tough time after she died, too--he hid under our bed and in our clothes for a solid month. The night we came home with that Big E kitty comforter was the first night Reuben came out of hiding; we spread it at the foot of the bed and he slept there with us all night. It's silly to think that such a small thing could have such a healing effect, but it did. And it still does.

Here's Bubby lying on his kitty comforter this morning.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Taxes, homestudy, nerves, new friends, coming out, glass pumpkins, child abuse, Ikea

[Note: Frickkin Blogger won't let me spellcheck this post. Sorry for any mistakes.]

--It's 3rd quarter tax day. I sure do hate writing such large checks 4 times a year, but I sure do like knowing that come April 15, I won't be shitting myself. Here's to staving off diarrhea!

--After getting the news about Ms. Stork, Petunia and whittled our "To Do Before Homestudy" list down to the barest essentials. Today I tackled 3 things on the list, and we're moving along nicely. Still, I'm glad that Ms. Stork will be coming at the end of my workday so I can blame any messes on the kids.

--I'm in this strange state of crazy adrenaline and utter calm--my mind's clear as a bell, but my hands are cold and my forearms are tingly. Eek!

--As I walked the kids home from the playground this morning, I ran into a neighbor and her friend. Her friend was very nice, and after we'd talked for a bit it was clear that he has cognitive differences. At one point, he said to me, "Hey, do you work out?" to which I (of course) guffawed and said no. "Hmm," he mumbled, "I wish I had your body." I love that he turned a sleazy pickup line into a total compliment. This dude made my day!

--Tonight we're going to be in Boston visiting our friend Diesel. She came out to her parents a couple of weekends ago, and she's having a tough time of it. She hasn't seen her folks since then. Holy eff, all that coming out stuff is hard! It doesn't matter how old you are, either; that shit's just tough. Please think good thoughts for Diesel and her GF, Katydid.

--MIT's Great Glass Pumpkin Patch will take place on September 30. Buying glass pumpkins is a blood sport, but after last year's dress rehearsal, Petunia and I are ready for this year's competition. You can definitely expect a post from that day, probably one featuring me "accidentally" tripping a Burberry-clad woman in the race to snag the best tiny pumpkin. Ha! My kneepads are already in the bag, suckahs!

--Our state rep primary race is getting really ugly. Yesterday we got a mailing about John Fresolo's abuse history, complete with a photocopy of the newspaper article revealing DSS-substantiated abuse against his 13-year old daughter. It didn't say who sent the mailing (for obvious reasons, I'm hoping it's not the Murgo campaign), but I'm glad that the word's getting out about his past. He's unfit for public office, and I can't believe he didn't resign when all this came to light.

--AND FINALLY: I really want to go to Ikea. Who's with me?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Introducing Ms. Stork!

We just got a call from the social worker who will be doing our homestudy!!! The good news: she's the good one! No more Ol' Talkie for us; from now on we'll be dealing exclusively with Ms. Stork! HOORAY!

Our 1st homestudy visit is next Tuesday at 6pm. Holy shit! Let the cleaning and home improvement projects begin!


100 Good Wishes quilt update

We've received 25 squares to date, and they're as beautiful and unique as the senders themselves. Here's a little guide to the squares, from top left to right:

1. sage and cream checks from my college friend and her family; the fabric comes from her daughter's bedding
2. starfish/nautical fabric from Petunia's friend in Rhode Island
3. 3 squares from our hair stylist and her GF; they couldn't decide on just one, so they gave Hester 3 squares
4. summery flowers from a family I used to work for
5. kitty cat fabric from Snapdragon's in-laws; they sent a little book with quotes about cats for Hester's scrapbook (FYI, Snapdragon is Petunia's brother)
6. sea life fine-wale corduroy from our betta fish, Boris (you know we had to put stuff in from the pets!)
7. pink and yellow fabric from me; I'm going to embroider it this weekend
8. chili pepper flannel from Petunia
9. sushi print from Josephine (Reuben's contribution is coming soon)
10. doggy print from Clary B.
11. Pride fabric from Petunia's friend in Pittsburgh
12. love & kind words fabric from Hester's godparents, Trista and Russ
13. blue & cream print from my friends in Detroit, in honor of Smith's colors
14. oak leaf and acorn print from baby A.'s family; the oak leaf is their symbol for baby A.
15. mod disco fabric from our dear family friends in Colorado
15.5. [this one fell as I was taking the photo, so it's not in the picture] mint green fleece from my great aunt
16. blue and yellow flower print from Petunia's supervisor at work; the fabric was her grandmother's
17. bright yellow floral fabric from the furbabies' petsitter
18. train fabric from my auntie
19. purple print from a college friend who's studying in India; she got the fabric at an open-air market in Delhi
20. orange flowers from my cousin S.--her wish for Hester is the funniest of all: "Don't become a Red Sox fan!"
21. lime and fuchsia print from my aunt and uncle
22. kitty cat print from my Grandma W________, a cat lover extraordinaire

I love looking at these fabrics. Sometimes I open up their box and just flip through them, touching them all and thinking about the people who sent them. I wish I could figure out a way to take a photo of the quilt scrapbook for my blog, but I can't since all of the pages contain personal info. It's beautiful, though--so moving and special. This entire quilt process is a blessing, and I'm so grateful to Trista for bringing it into our lives.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Don't piss in my eye and tell me it's raining*

I'm pissed off. I like my work and I'm proud of my program, but here's what makes me mad: Disrespect.

Yesterday a parent referred to me as "the sitter." I wish I'd known that earlier; I could've been giving his kids Kool-Aid and Chips Ahoy and plunking them down before the TV rather than planning rad art projects for them and making them homemade BBQ chicken. Here's a tip: Family child care providers aren't babysitters. We're child care professionals, not 12-year olds looking for pocket money.

Today a parent told me last-minute, "I have an appointment at noon, so I'll be here at 1pm." Since her child usually leaves at 12:30pm and the rest of the kids go down for their naps at 12:45-1pm, that put me out considerably. But whatever, I'm a pro; I worked naptime magic and got 3 kids settled into sleep while the 4th child read quietly with me until his mom arrived. Except his mom didn't arrive until 2:15pm. By then her child was crazy sleepy and I was going nuts trying to keep him from waking the other children. Here's a tip: Call your child care provider if you're running late.


Rounding out the list of things making me mad today:

--Meredith Vieira's debut on The Today Show. Couldn't they have given that job to someone who deserved it?
--It's only Wednesday. That sucks.
--Petunia and I got a mailing from John Fresolo, our asshat of a state rep.
--Sock monkeys are damned costly. I want one for Hester's room, but I don't want to pay $17 for it.
--My back hurt all day because I'm not used to carrying baby Pea.
--We were going to go back to the Vineyard this weekend, but now we're going to stay in town.
--I haven't made dinner and now I want to gnaw my arm off.
--Petunia's on a later train, and she's going to be hungry, too.

I'm sure there's more, but that's enough of the pity party for now.

* Title dedicated to JPP. Wanna have a date soon?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Melissa Murgo for State Rep

An anonymous reader just brought my attention to this article from today's Worcester Telegram & Gazette. It's about Melissa Murgo's campaign for state rep, and it shows the positive reception she's gotten from many neighbors in the district. Petunia and I had the pleasure of walking Melissa around our neighborhood 2 weeks ago, and we'll be at an event for her tonight. Worcester residents, listen up: the primary is NEXT TUESDAY, and she needs all the support she can get. We've got to get this hateful man out of office.


And guess who's using this time to check out the baby gym?

It's Big Baby!

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11, 2001

It's five years later. Do you know, I've already forgotten the order of events on that morning--it's some sort of protective denial, I think. Here's what I do remember:

My mom called just as Petunia and I were leaving home in Worcester to drive into Boston. She told me, "A plane hit the World Trade Center." My first thought was that she meant the World Trade Center in Boston, and I was alarmed but not frightened. "Thanks for telling me, " I said. "Accidents happen. I have to go to work now."

In the car, Petunia and I turned on NPR, and that's when we learned that both towers in New York had been hit. We also heard that the Pentagon had been hit and that one last plane was "making its way up the Eastern seaboard," with fighter jets in pursuit of the plane. Clearly, it wasn't an accident at all. The feeling I had upon hearing those reports is indescribable; I burst into tears, simultaneously thinking of my childhood as an Army brat, the kids at my work, my family and friends, and Petunia's and my immediate safety. Petunia was driving, and her knuckles were white on the steering wheel. I couldn't take my own hands away from my face.

We debated whether to turn back, but Petunia was needed at the child psych unit where she worked and I was needed at the LGBT youth center where I worked. We made emergency plans of where to meet up if necessary; we had a Plan A meeting spot and a Plan B meeting spot. When I said goodbye to her that morning, I wondered for just a second if I'd ever see her again.

I think I went to work that morning, but I also remember being at my program director's apartment. Our center was in the long shadow of the Hancock Tower, and there were fears that our youth and staff would be harmed in an attack. I think the decision was made to close the center at some point, though I can't be certain. I do remember that it seemed prudent to stay off the streets.

In the weeks that followed, I watched too much television. I saw things I shouldn't have seen. I called everyone I knew in New York to be sure they were safe; thankfully, they were. I helped some of our youth organize a vigil, and I watched police in riot gear push back a crowd of protesters from the MassPike. I watched on live TV as federal agents searched the Westin Copley Place, mere blocks from my work, as the real life sirens raced down our street 3 stories below.

In the months that followed, I worked closely with a local Critical Incident Stress Management team to counsel the youth at my work. We received funds from FEMA and MEMA, and it boggled my mind that I had anything to do with those agencies. I don't remember much about those sessions; I know that one of our youth was terrified of a biological attack, especially given her job in the Hancock Tower, and that another of our youth hadn't heard from friends who lived on the streets in lower Manhattan. He was frantic with worry.

I learned later that Petunia's friend's mother was killed in the attack, and so was the sister of an acquaintance of mine. For Petunia and me, however, life went on. We were set to be married on October 7, 2001, and several people who'd planned to attend decided to stay home, out of safety concerns. Our florist told us she'd try to get the exact roses we'd requested, but gently reminded us that delivery planes were delayed and cancelled very frequently. We went away for our honeymoon in Aruba following the wedding, and Petunia sneaked peeks at the news of anthrax attacks in the U.S. while I was in the shower.

Those were dark days, lightened now by lapses in memory. I don't really want to remember that time, but I don't want to forget it completely, either.


Baby Pea does not like to sleep. On Mondays and Tuesdays, my posts are going to be very short. VEEERRRY short.

That's all.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Pet Rock Recap

Pet Rock was fun, though last year's event had more free stuff. The cats were robbed, too--they didn't win a thing at the Cat Photo Contest (Reuben definitely should have won for funniest cat). But Clary Belle had a wonderful time. Here she is, having a blast on the agility course:

She's a real winner!

Yep, She's Gay

A great big ol' dykey-style


to my beloved Petunia, who celebrates 20 years of being
OUT & PROUD tonight!

Happy Coming Out Anniversary, Petunia!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A good morning

It's been such a nice morning. I got lots of sleep last night, then woke up in time to make coffee and see Petunia off to her meeting. I picked up the house, did a couple loads of laundry, read the latest Adoptive Families magazine (and congratulations to Wendy at Not Showing for her ad in the back of the magazine!), and read a little more of The Adoption Reader. I ate Cap'n Crunch, talked with my parents on the phone, and fed the furbabies. I posted, emailed, and wrote postcards. I began to create some tools for my new & improved curriculum, then realized I could buy the exact thing I planned to spend all day making for only $35. I did so.

I feel rested and relaxed, and I'm looking forward to fun times this evening.

I saw dead people

I went to the Body Worlds 2 exhibit at the MoS last night. I'd heard different things about the exhibit--gross, cool, thought-provoking, controversial, sad, rad--so I was eager to check it out for myself. And here's what I thought: It was one of the neatest things I've ever seen.

Yeah, the idea's kinda sick: This German doctor guy gets the idea to plastinate real human cadavers and put them on display...grody, right? Except then I realized that each body was donated for exactly that purpose with an informed consent that can be revoked at any time prior to death. And then I realized that the people who donated their bodies had the goal of being useful, even in death. I can't help but think that's a pretty admirable goal.

[Side note: There's a really neat article in this month's Bust Magazine about a woman who's decided to donate her body to the University of Tennessee's Anthropological Research Facility, aka The Body Farm. Same basic idea--usefulness in death--but a different path.]

So when I went up to the exhibit hall, I was prepared for anything: feeling sick, feeling sad, feeling excited, whatever. But then when I walked in and actually saw the bodies, I was riveted. They were so complex and so beautiful, all the parts working together to create real human beings. The bones and the nerves and the muscles and the organs and all the rest--all the parts are there, right under the surface of our skin. I hadn't been able to imagine my own body before last night; my heart and my bones and my brain were just abstractions to me (I'm a visual learner, can you tell?). But now I feel connected to those parts in a way I never have, and I'm even more fascinated by our amazing human bodies.

I spent extra time last night examining the heels and feet of the bodies, looking at the plantar fascia that've been giving me such problems lately. My doctor told me about foot anatomy during my recent checkup, and when I saw the cadavers' feet I could see exactly what she meant. I could understand just where my pain's been coming from, and I could see how the tendons fit together with the fascia to give me hell in the mornings. It was really neat to understand my own body in a new way.

As amazing as that was, even more awe-inspiring was the section on fetal development. A pregnant woman with terminal illness had donated her body to the exhibit, and her entire body had been plastinated, including her intact uterus and the fetus she was carrying. It was so beautiful, so absolutely incredible, to see that baby nesting inside her uterus. The woman was 5 months pregnant when she died and she was showing quite a bit, and it was magical to see how her fetus fit so perfectly inside her. For the first time, I could really imagine pregnancy, could see exactly how a baby moves inside its mother. How she has to pee a lot because the baby really is sitting on top of her bladder, and how her organs make way for her growing uterus and fetus. How conception and birth is a miracle, how our female bodies are resilient and strong. How we nest in our mothers like Matroyshka dolls, ova within ova within ova, world without end. It seemed that I was alone in this view of the fetal development exhibit, though. Some people got all loud and anti-choice, and other people cried. One man said, "I'm going to have nightmares about this tonight."

Not me, though. I'm glad I went.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Weekend plans

Saturday is Worcester Pride, but I've decided not to go since last year I felt like a sardine in a can at the new Water Street location. Instead, I'll stay home and do some work: I have all these plans for a new and improved curriculum, but I haven't had the time to implement them. Since Petunia will be gone most of Saturday for a work meeting, I won't feel bad about hogging the computer or being antisocial. I'll feel so much better once my new plans are in place.

And then Sunday is a big day for us--we'll be taking Clary to her 2nd Pet Rock Festival! She had a great time at last year's event, and Petunia and I scored all kinds of free stuff there. I also entered the cats in their cat photo contest, so I'm eager to see if they'll win anything.

Clara prances at Pet Rock 2005.

I hope y'all have fun weekends, too! Happy trails.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Adoptive nursing

So. Adoptive breastfeeding.

I just spoke with a nurse at my health practice and I got the green light to go ahead. My doctor wasn't in today, but her nurse looked over my chart and said that I'm all set to induce lactation. She also said that my doctor is extremely committed to breastfeeding and has nursed her own child while working for the past 2 years. Even better, the nurse says they have at least one other nursing adoptive mama as a patient. I'm glad I called; I feel much more comfortable knowing that my health practice has my back.

The nurse referred me to a local lactation consultant, so I called her, too. She referred me to the ever-popular Newman-Goldfarb protocol, so I feel even more confident that I've been getting good information during my own research into all of this. Since the nurse says that my doctor follows the recommendations of the lactation specialists, it seems like I won't have many problems trying to follow the N-G protocol if that's what I decide to do. So that's good, too.

My biggest fear in all this is that DSS will FREAK at the thought of adoptive nursing. I'm going to get all the info I can beforehand; I don't want to jeopardize our placement in any way, so if I have to nurse on the DL, I will. Does anyone have tips for broaching the subject with our social worker?

Step right up: 2 tickets for big CAT ride!

It turns out that having a sinus CAT scan is like riding the world's most boring amusement ride. Picture the Spinning Teacups, only in a drab setting and without all that thrilling twirling action. First, you lie on your stomach on a sliding table; the table goes in and out of this 2.5 foot circle while a train track-looking thing with tiny camera thingies whizzes around your head. Then you flip over on your back and the same procedure unfolds. I spent most of the time on the table reading stacked boxes of medical supplies: drapes, cannulas, etc., and wondering if they could tell that my eyeballs were moving around like mad. The bottom line: it was boring, but absolutely painless. That's fine with me--I'll take boring over painful anytime.

The cool part happened when it was all over (all 3 minutes of it) and I asked the technician whether I'd get to see the films. "I don't know," she answered, "They're all on computer nowadays." I was disappointed and it must have shown, because she said, "I can show them to you now if you want." And YES, I did want! So I got a 10-second view of my own sinus cavities, which is kinda rad. (Not as cool as the photo of my uterus, but still pretty awesome.) At a brief glance, they looked like the normal ones I've seen online (thanks, Dr. Google), so I can rest easy that there aren't pieces of chicken hot dog from 1998 still stuck up there. So that's good. I have a follow-up appointment with my new BFF, the otolaryngologist, on October 9, so I'll get the scoop on my sinuses then.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Confession time

I've been busy contac-papering the bureau in the nursery and color-coordinating the bows on Hester's teddy bears and decoupaging the switchplates and bubble wrapping Petunia's paintings and organizing the basement and doing 5 loads of laundry and taking out the air conditioners and anchoring the changing table and framing family photographs and working on Hester's quilt scrapbook and updating the kids' portfolios and planning for my fall curriculum and soothing baby Pea to post much lately.

But despite all that, I'm in a good mood and have lots of energy. Nesty much, AJWP?

Friday, September 01, 2006

A sibling for Junior

I learned today that one of my child care kids is getting a new brother or sister! His parents started trying to conceive a couple of months ago, and they must have hit the jackpot right then. They moved into their first house last month, and now they'll be having their second child. They're living their dream, and I'm very happy for them (seriously, I'm not even a little envious).

EXCEPT...this means I'll be losing my first child care kid! He was my first child--he started as a drop-in baby at 3 months and went full-time at 12 months. He's been full-time with me for over a year. And now I'll have to say goodbye to him in January! I can hardly believe it. The other kids will miss him like crazy, too, since he's one of my 2 full-timers. He's a kind, smart, funny little guy who's turning into a real conversationalist. I'm going to miss him very much.