July 31, 2007

“Banana starts with B” and other P stories

Posted in Ramblings o' P at 8:30 am by Erin

Warning: there’s a lot of bragging ahead.

I am constantly amazed at how much older P seems this summer than he did last summer.  The difference between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 is absolutely astounding.  Last summer, he was firmly a toddler; this summer, I’m hard-pressed to remember he’s not a preschooler yet.  He won’t be going to kindergarten for 2 more years yet, but it suddenly struck me that he’ll be 5 next year.  OK, not until December of next year, but it’s still next year.  He’s gone through a huge growth spurt since last year, which has a lot to do with it–last summer he was wearing 2T clothes, now he’s in a 4T and I think he’ll probably be 5T around his birthday.  (Note that predicting sizes for the coming seasons is very important if you ever plan to shop at semi-annual consignment sales.)

His big love this summer is dinosaurs.  He was interested in them last year around his birthday, but he’s now obsessed with them.  We read books about dinosaurs: the "How do dinosaurs…" series is a favorite, but he also likes actual fact-based books that tell him about the dinosaurs themselves.  He knows which ones were carnivores and which were herbivores, he knows which lived in herds/packs and which preferred to be solitary.  He recognizes and can name about 25 different types–and hearing a 3-year-old say "pachycephalosaurus" is always pretty amazing (yes, he pronounces it correctly).  He can tell you the difference between a triceratops, a protoceratops, and a styracosaurus.  We went to a dinosaur footprint museum while we were out visiting my IL’s.  He loved looking at the tracks and the bones, and then digging for "footprints" with tools out in the sandbox.  Grandma bought him a mama/baby maiasaura set, which he’s been playing with since then.  (Grandpa bought him the pachycephalosaurus the day before, so it was a dinosaur-filled trip for P.)  And I found him a raincoat with dinosaurs on it at the consignment sale yesterday, which he now wants to wear constantly.

I remember when my brother when through a dinosaur phase, but I thought it was closer to 6.  I’m learning more than I ever knew before about dinosaurs!  It’s fun that he’s so interested in not just playing with the dinosaurs, but also learning about what they really might have been like.

His imagination is also incredible, as he’s constantly making up stories and worlds and playing with his toys.  He can entertain himself happily for 30 minutes or more with only a couple of dinosaurs or cars.  And he really likes to draw (though unfortunately, he seems to have inherited my artistic skill), so he colors a million pictures a day and tells me what’s in them.  He’s had a lot more fun with art this summer–we’ve done a lot of art projects with a friend and her daughter, and he’s really enjoyed them.

Up until a few weeks ago, the only experience P had with the computer was sitting with me or J and playing on the Sesame Street website.  P would choose the game and we’d use the mouse to play it.  Then I heard a friend talking about how her daughter likes to play on the computer and wondered if P could do it.  We bought him a smaller mouse and I showed him how to click on the part he wanted, and how to move it around.  Then I let him play the Cookie Monster game and he did really well!  The next day, I set him up in front of it again (after much begging and pleading on his part) and went out to water some plants.  Eventually, I realized that I’d been outside for quite a while and hadn’t heard a peep from him–wasn’t he bored with Cookie Monster yet?  Yes, but when he got tired of Cookie Monster, he figured out how to navigate around the site and had already played the Count game, done Spanish with Rosita, and was making Grover dance when I came in.  No, they didn’t have computers at his daycare for the little kids.  He just figured it out, probably from watching us when we did it with him.  I was very impressed.

Yesterday when we were in the car, he suddenly said "Banana starts with B!"  And then we discussed what letters other words start with–he knew quite a few!  We’ve tried not to push him into learning his letters or learning to read, because a) he’s only 3 and that’s very young yet, and b) he only gets to be a little kid for so long.  We do talk about letters and sounds with him when he wants to but if his interest wanes, we don’t force it.  He’s learning them anyway.  My baby is starting to learn to read!

Even better, though, is that he’s eating vegetables again!  The only vegetables he ate for a year were broccoli and cauliflower; I had to hide anything else in spaghetti sauce, and I just don’t make spaghetti sauce that often.  But one night he said he was still hungry after dinner.  I was about to tell him he could have some cereal, then inspiration struck and I put a couple of baby carrots onto his plate.  He said he didn’t like them and I told him he didn’t have to eat them but if he was hungry, they were there.  Finally he nibbled at them and proclaimed them good!  Since them, I’ve introduced him to the delights of zucchini, squash, corn, and edamame.  I was so smug when he was a baby–one of my favorite pictures of him is covered in the alphabet pasta with spinach and roasted red peppers that he was eating (I made all of his baby food).  Oh, I paid the price for that smugness…  But he’s eating a few more vegetables now, and so I’m happy.

I can very honestly say that I’ve enjoyed every stage that P has gone through.  Some are more challenging than others (along with all the learning he’s doing now comes the CONSTANT questions about everything, which can be grating after a while), but every one has been fun. 

July 28, 2007

Don’t read this if you haven’t finished HP!

Posted in The musings of Erin at 7:11 pm by Erin

If you have to ask who HP is, I have to ask you one question:

Have you been living under a rock?

Not wanting to read it, not having gotten into it is one thing (one thing I can’t even begin to understand).  Not knowing what it is…pitiful.

But I suppose I’d better put in some babbling and spaces so that you can close it before your eye inadvertently hits on something that you didn’t want to know.

I went to a consignment sale yesterday and found some great things, and discovered others.  The first discovery was that it’s nearly impossible to find boys 4T and 5T jeans that aren’t worn out at the knees (I refuse to buy clothes that are already worn out, even as play clothes, because otherwise P’s knees will get scraped up as they start to get holes in the near future).  I also discovered that it is harder and harder to find boys clothes that don’t have obnoxious cartoon characters or stupid sayings on them as boys get older.  And all of the rest of them are either blue, gray, or brown.

I also discovered that P has very little taste (good taste, that is) in clothes.  He okayed several of my selections before choosing one of his own: a bright green Hawaiian-style shirt imprinted with leaves and lizards.  BRIGHT green.  Like searing-your-eyes-out-when-you-happen-to-gaze-upon-this-shirt green.  But he was so happy with it that I bought it anyway.

To my great joy, I found P a Gryffindor vest and shirt!  To make J stop rolling his eyes, I also bought him a Red Sox jacket.

OK, enough blather–quick, close this post if you don’t want the end of the series spoiled for you!


I mean it!

OK, that’s enough.  If you haven’t closed it by now, I’m assuming you have finished the book and are all up for discussion.

First, I loved the book.  Absolutely loved it.  Yes, I could pick plot holes in a couple of places–but why ruin the enjoyment of a thoroughly well-written conclusion to the series?  No fun at all, I tell you.  This is probably why I never did well in English lit classes.  I really like reading a book and just enjoying it.

As soon as the book came, I opened it with trembling hands.  And immediately put it in my purse so that I could read it when we were traveling.  I know myself well enough to know that if I’d opened it then, I wouldn’t have finished up the last-minute things that needed to be done before we left.  It was almost an hour later, while waiting for the train to the airport, that I finally pried it open and began reading.  I read on the train.  I read in line at the airport.  I read while walking from our gate to get food before our flight.  I read while eating the food.  I read almost all the way to Denver (J stole the book away to read the first two chapters at one point).  I stopped reading on the tarmac at the airport to text my sister, who was 20 pages from the end, in order to set up a debriefing the next day.  She’s still proud that she finished before me.  I read all the way to Las Vegas, then I had to stop in order to greet my IL’s.  Plus, it was about midnight Atlanta time by then and I was pretty exhausted.  I also didn’t read on the two-hour drive to their house; instead, I slept.  Then I read for 30 minutes when we got to their house.  My body finally betrayed me and I had to sleep, only to awaken at 7 a.m. Utah time and read for the next 2 hours until I’d finished it.

I was completely enthralled from the beginning.  I was intrigued.  I gasped aloud in certain places.  I read certain sentences and chapter titles to J, because he needed to know them right away.  I laughed.  I cried buckets.  I forgot that I was reading a book and that it wasn’t really happening.  And I came away from it thinking that I couldn’t even be sad that there wasn’t another one to anticipate because I enjoyed this one so much.

I cried at Hedwig’s death, I cried at Dobby’s death.  I was already crying about Percy rejoining his family when Fred died, which just made it worse.  And then I bawled when Fred was lying next to Remus and Tonks after the battle (she created another orphan in Teddy Lupin).  But the part that made me cry the most was when Harry uses the Resurrection Stone and brings back his parents, Sirius, and Lupin.  It really hit me hard that, in the moments before his death, all he wants is his family and those who’ve been so close to him.  She wrote his experience so amazingly well that I sobbed all the way through the chapter.  And then to have his sacrifice protect everyone else at Hogwarts was as fitting as anything could have been.  The circle was brought fully closed.  I loved that she brought Dumbledore back in the capacity as advisor to help Harry finish the rest of it.  But I still cried when it happened.

All of this crying was hard to manage circumspectly, as I was either on a train, plane, or at my IL’s very-small and acoustically-excellent house.  So I reread the book when we came home from Utah, primarily so that I could cry without hiding it.  J rolled his eyes some but, as he’s currently reading the book, he will understand eventually.

I love that Neville destroyed Nagini with the Sword of Gryffindor.  It seemed right that the only person other than Harry, Ron, and Hermione to destroy a Horcrux was the other person about whom the prophecy could have been made.

It did end rather abruptly, what with so much of the action and so many of the Horcruxes being destroyed so close to the end.  At the same time, it had to end at Hogwarts, and they couldn’t have gone there any earlier.  It wouldn’t have been right to go, destroy the diadem, and then have the ending happen elsewhere.  So I can’t complain about that either.

At first, I was meh about the epilogue.  It seemed awfully sweet and pat.  Then I decided that I would have been more upset if she hadn’t said anything about their lives afterwards.  I know some people have complained that Harry named his second son Albus Severus, saying that they didn’t feel that Snape could possibly have been the "bravest man [Harry] had ever known" after all they’d been through.  But keep in mind that Harry had been reflecting on Snape’s actions for almost 10 years before that son was born.  The mind of a teenage boy who hated his Potions professor can be very different than the mind of a grown man who understands more of the risk that Snape took.  I don’t find it at all hard to believe that he’d grown up to admire Snape enough to name a child after him.  And I suspect that Harry may have felt indebted enough to Snape to name Lily’s grandchild after the man who loved her his whole life, and who gave his life to protect her son.

I also kind of like that she didn’t tell us their professions.  Everyone wants to know if Harry was Minister of Magic or whatever.  Maybe Harry was a Quidditch player, and now manages a Quidditch team.  Maybe Aberforth retired and Ron’s the new barman at The Hog’s Head.  Maybe Hermione is a stay-at-home mom.  Maybe Ginny went to work breeding pygmy puffs.  Who knows?  It’s fun to imagine it.  At the same time, it would have been very amusing if Dudley had been standing on platform 9 3/4 with his own child, who was off to Hogwarts.  I can’t remember on whose blog someone mentioned that as a possibility, but it would have been pretty funny.

I’m also happy to hear that Rowling is going to publish an encyclopedia about all the characters and places that will get more into their backgrounds than we’ve known so far.

And, in final thought, I’m glad that I will get to rediscover these books through P’s eyes when he is old enough to read them.  Since they do get so violent in the second half of the series, though, it’s probably not going to be as young as I’d once thought!

July 21, 2007

Must be time to start pulling out my hair again

Posted in The musings of Erin at 11:29 am by Erin

It is now almost 2:30 p.m.  We have to leave the house at 3:15 p.m. to get to the airport.  WHERE IS MY BOOK???  We live on a quiet street and every single car and truck that goes by immediately has my head turning towards the nearest window.  I think I’m getting whiplash.  If it’s not here in 30 minutes, I’m stopping at Kroger to pick up a copy before we go to the airport. 

Onto more important things.

We got our I-797 immigration approval in the mail last week!  (Sorry for not posting this sooner, sometimes Harry Potter seems more real than this adoption actually happening.)  So now…we can wait some more.  Whee.

I also apologize for my utter lack of comments on other blogs, e-mails, and return phone calls.  First, I lost my phone cord and couldn’t recharge my phone for nearly a week.  Then, right after that, it dawned on me that I start back to work three weeks from Monday.  All those things that I wanted to get done to prepare for the semester hadn’t been done.  I had to make up a lecture guideline for all adjunct faculty who come to teach labs for the non-major’s bio class I teach.  I have to make up a supply list for the same lab class.  I have to help make up the common final they’re trying to have us start using as part of our final exam for that lecture class.  I still have to meet with my advisees before they can register for the fall, and registration started last week.  I have to make up my syllabi and submit them for printing ASAP.  I have to prepare as many lectures, tests, quizzes, etc. as possible ahead of time to prevent my going absolutely insane again this semester.  Somehow, the summer flew by.

I have an idea of where it has gone.  First, we’ve traveled a lot.  P and I have gone to Florida and Myrtle Beach, we’ve gone camping, and today we leave for Utah to visit my IL’s.  We’re back on Wednesday, home for 10 days, and then we leave for Maine with my family for 5 days.  Traveling alone has kept us busy.

We’ve gotten together with friends a LOT.  At least 2 or 3 times a week, you could find P and I with friends at the zoo, doing projects at an art studio, or just playing at the playground.  Last night, our neighbors watched P so that J and I could have a date for our anniversary, only a month late 😉  They have a son who’s about to turn 3, and he and P get along very well.  This was the first time we’d done it, but P was an angel while he was there, the boys had a fabulous time, and we’ll be trading babysitting with them in the future for certain.

Even when we’ve been home, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time gardening and doing projects around the house, running errands for the adoption paperwork, etc.  No wonder I haven’t had time to do much work for…well, for work.  However, as J pointed out, the reason that I wanted to get so much done was because we thought we’d have our son home earlier in the semester and I was trying to free up my schedule as much as possible.  Since that won’t happen, I have a little more flexibility to get work done during the semester.  But I’d rather have the first two weeks completely ready, because the beginning of the semester is crazy.  Not having to worry about my lectures would really help.

(Was that a truck?  UPS?  Nope, not it.  Damn it, BRING ME MY BOOK!)

Anyway, we leave tonight for Utah.  We’ll be spending the trip with a large portion of J’s family–parents, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.  P really loves J’s little cousins who are 9 and 11, so they’ll have fun.  They think he’s cool, too.  Hey, who wouldn’t want to be hero-worshipped?  I’m looking forward to the trip and hope it’ll be relaxing.  We’ll be celebrating the day that the Mormons crossed into Utah (I think) on the 24th, with fireworks and parades.  I’ll probably be the only Jew in 100 miles, but hopefully no one will ask me about my personal relationship with Jesus and we’ll be fine.

I probably won’t get on-line much while we’re gone; therefore, until I get back, have a fun few days! 

****Updated at 2:54: It’s here, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

July 15, 2007

It’s torture, I tell you…TORTURE–but in a fun way

Posted in The musings of Erin at 8:00 pm by Erin

My dad informed me tonight that, as the director of a county-wide library system in New York, he has received a shipment that is locked in his office: all of the copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the entire library system.  I begged and pleaded with him to send me just one copy!  I can have that sucker read and back to him before Saturday, no problem–I finished the last book in 4 hours.  I swore up and down that I wouldn’t tell anyone what happened.  I won’t even break the binding!  But apparently he had to sign some sort of "pledge" and "promise" not to open the box before July 21st.  And damn it all, he’s honorable.  I guess that I should appreciate it, since he passed that trait to me and my siblings, but COME ON!  THIS IS HARRY POTTER WE’RE TALKING ABOUT!

He told me just to torture me.  I’m sure he told my sister also, as she’s as obsessed as I am.  My brother Brian (not his real name), however, is another story.  He went through a phase back when the first movies came out in which he looked exactly like Harry Potter.  Even though it has since ended and he really doesn’t resemble him anymore, we still make fun of it.  So right after my dad told me that he had the book and flat-out refused to send it to me, he said "Why don’t you just ask Brian?  After all, he lived through the whole thing."  We all had a hearty chuckle about it.

I saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix the other night.  I feel like I should give a spoiler warning but, since anyone who would care about seeing the movie has likely already read the books, it’s not like there’s anything TO spoil.

I was kind of meh about it.  It’s my least-favorite book anyway (which is like saying "it’s my least-favorite kind of chocolate"), but I was really looking forward to seeing it.  Unfortunately, it skips around a ton and never really delves into anything enough.  I know they had to cut a lot, but I wish they’d put in about 15 more minutes and gotten into certain situations a little more.  The beginning was good and the ending was absolutely fantastic, and I would definitely recommend seeing it.  I was just a little disappointed with parts of it.

But, oh my.  I am absolutely fascinated with Lucius Malfoy.  I don’t know why, but that man can loosen the muscles in my thi…oh sorry, family channel here.  (Seriously, my blog was rated G by that stupid ratings thing.  I was too embarrassed to put it up.)  Ignore the whole Death Eater thing and he’s just…whoa.  I’ve had this kind of reaction to longhaired blonds in the past, but this one kind of took over.  I swear that I went short-of-breath every time he came on-screen.  I told J that he was on top of my freebie list now.  Not the actor by himself (though he’s not bad), just if he’s dressed up and talks like his character in the movie.  Along with the arrogance.  I don’t know why that gets to me.  In real-life it would drive me crazy.  On-screen, though…meOW!*  And now you all have my permission to make fun of me as much as you want. 

*Lucius Malfoy was, according to the Wikipedia article on Jason Isaacs (the actor who plays him), voted one of the top 12 Sexiest Men Who Were Never Alive.  I feel vindicated.

July 12, 2007

Recent conversations

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 9:04 pm by Erin

I haven’t yet blogged about my trip to Florida, have I?  That’s probably because it has taken this long for me to calm down enough to write rationally.  Most of it was excellent.  As I mentioned, we stayed with my favorite aunt and uncle the first night, spent three nights with my grandmother and an aunt who was also visiting her, and spent the last night with cousins (who we would also later see in Myrtle Beach).  We went to the beach twice and the pool twice, P was an angel in the car, and we had an almost-entirely nice time.

The first night at my grandmother’s, however, nearly made me turn around and head back to Atlanta.  We went to dinner.  P fell asleep with his head on my lap in our booth (it is very convenient when your child can fall asleep in any situation, rather than staying awake and being cranky) while my grandmother and aunt sat across from us.  Since P was asleep, it was apparently a good time to begin questioning our adoption.

I’m happy to answer questions about our adoption.  What happens during the process?  Why did we choose Ethiopia?  Why not domestic adoption when there are so many kids here who need a home?  Why are we adopting a toddler?  Why are we adopting another boy–don’t you want a girl?  (I think I’ve answered most of those at some point but if you’re a new reader or just want to know the answer to anything, leave a comment and let me know what you’d like answered!)  I really enjoy educating people about the process and what it’s really like to go through it, about the amazing richness of Ethiopian culture, and all sorts of things. 

There are also a lot of questions that I’m not happy to get.  Don’t you want another one of your own?  Why not do in vitro?  Why not a white child?  Do we really think we can love an adopted/black child as much as P?

But I not only had to contend with ALL of those questions from my grandmother, both good and bad, I also had to contend with being told that we shouldn’t adopt a toddler, that P wouldn’t be able to adjust, that we don’t have a clue about what we’re getting into with adoption/a toddler adoptee/a special-needs child, that I wouldn’t be able to work like I do when we have two children, etc.  (If these sound familiar, it’s because both she and my mother have expressed all of these concerns ad infinitum in the past.)  I finally went off on my grandmother, albeit in a calm and rational voice, and explained that we didn’t just make the decision to adopt on a whim.  We’ve been talking about it since before I was pregnant with P, more than FOUR YEARS AGO.  We didn’t make the decision to adopt a toddler or a special-needs child on a whim either.  I told her that being questioned in the way that she was makes it seem like she doesn’t think we’re adults who can make our own well-researched decisions about how to build a family.  I also explained that I have every intention of continuing to work full-time because if I don’t, we have no health insurance.  And that my mom worked full-time with three of us, and was an excellent role-model.  And that, while my job is sometimes stressful, I love it and 8 months a year of four-day weeks (and not even full days on two of those) is about as conducive as you can get to full-time work while raising a family.

She told me P won’t be able to adjust to having less attention from J and I because we pay him "too much attention" already.  Wait, I thought working full-time was a problem–but now he gets too much attention?  When my aunt, who is the oldest of my grandmother’s three children (my mom is the middle and they have a younger brother), pointed out that she adjusted to having younger siblings, my grandmother claimed that it was because she didn’t pay as much attention to my aunt as we pay to P.

While there, I was also told that I should be doing more with my degree–apparently, my grandmother doesn’t see teaching at a community college as appropriate for someone with a Ph.D.  I pointed out (yet again) that I love my job and the flexibility it gives me for raising my family, and that getting a more "impressive" job would mean losing that flexibility.  In the same conversation, my grandmother talked about my cousin’s wife, Frances (not her real name).  Frances is a medical doctor who has been working a very high-stress medical research job for the last few years.  They have two children, ages 2 and 4.  So she quit to take a less-stressful medical job closer to home that will allow her to spend a ton more time with her children.  My grandmother praised her for that.  Somehow, she missed that she was telling me in one breath to get a more stressful job while using the next breath to say that Frances was doing the right thing by spending more time with her children.

The next day, she asked some questions about Ethiopia.  I enjoyed answering those questions until she asked "And Ethiopians don’t really have Negroid features, do they?"  Wow.  All I could do was stammer out that I wasn’t really sure what she meant, that I think most Ethiopians are very good-looking.

It has taken me a month to write all of that down.  I may have forgotten some things.  I was pretty pissed at my grandmother that night.

Oh, but that’s not all!  That grandmother and my mother have probably been the two least-supportive people in our family about adoption, which hurts more than I can say.  My mother has previously made the same comments as my grandmother and implied the same things about us not knowing what we’re getting into.  My mother does infant and toddler speech and feeding therapy.  She knows about special-needs children, since she’s been working with them for 35 years.  And I know that J and I don’t have that experience.  BUT it is also because I’ve seen my mom work with these kids that I was open to the idea of special needs in the first place.  It wasn’t the scariest thing in the world.  Because of my mom, I know about the resources that are available to us.  Hmm, I should probably tell her that.

She asked the other day when we would have a picture of our son.  I said I didn’t know but that they continue to refer special-needs children all year (even while the courts are closed) and I hoped it would be soon.  I mentioned something about our approval for 0-30 months, and she was shocked.  "I thought you wanted 12-18 months!  30 months is really old," followed by some more thoughts about how P wouldn’t be able to adjust.  Since I’ve heard this all before, I merely sighed internally and reiterated that P will adjust to a child of whatever age because he has no preconceived notions of what adjustment to a sibling should be like.  She continued on until my dad finally told her "30 months is fine!" and my mom dropped it.

I’m tired of defending our decisions.  If we’d gotten pregnant, no one would have questioned whether we were making the right decision.  If we’d given birth to a child with special-needs, no one would have asked whether we could handle it.  People wouldn’t have wondered whether we could love our second child as much as we love P.

I know I’ll have to do it forever.  Being an interracial family will be outward evidence that we have adopted, and we’ll get impolite questions from people we’ve never seen before.  I can handle those surprisingly easily.  Quick education, snark, or "I don’t feel comfortable telling you about our family’s choices" will suffice with those.  But the questions from family are wearing me down.  I know it must be hard to see your children as adults, making adult decisions and raising a family of their own.  At some point, though, there has to be acknowledgement that they are adults and can make their own decisions, and you should just be there for support.  I hope that’s a lesson I can remember when my kids are adults.

“It never goes away”

Posted in TTC woes at 6:00 pm by Erin

On a sunny Sunday morning just over a week ago, I was sitting in my dining room having breakfast with my family.  We’d been talking about how there are 4 chairs at the table.  Anytime there’s a fourth of anything, P always says "That’s for my little brother when he comes home!"  It always makes me smile.  It was a good morning.

Then I looked out of the window.  Our neighbors, Mary and Sam (not their real names), from down the street were walking their Boston terriers back towards their house.  We don’t see them very often for some reason, and it is obvious that Mary is pregnant.

Just that suddenly, it was like the light of the world dimmed.  My throat closed as I pointed it out to J, who said "That’s nice for them."  He’s right, it is nice for them.  They’re nice people and they love kids–Mary’s real name is very close to P’s and when they moved in, she remembered his name after having only met him once for 30 seconds when they first looked at the house.  Come to think of it, I’m not sure why we don’t see them more often.  The times we have seen them, they’ve been really nice and we all have a lot in common.

It just hurts because, as recently as last August, Mary had said that she and Sam were planning to start a family that fall or winter.  So they decided and poof, here it is in July and she’s at least 6 months pregnant.  And now I can’t spend time with them, because I think it would be akin to torture.

It shouldn’t be hard.  I have a beautiful son.  I’m an expectant mom to another beautiful son, hopefully this year.  It should be easy to talk to pregnant women and compare plans for nurseries and daycares, and all of that stuff.  I don’t feel like stopping treatments was a bad idea; on the contrary, I’m absolutely sure that it was the right idea.  Adoption is right for us.

But dear God, what I wouldn’t give to be pregnant!  I think the part of adoption that I have the hardest time accepting is that I won’t have known our younger son from the moment he was conceived.  I may have missed two or more years of his life when he comes to our family.  It’s really hard to know that I’ll probably never know what he was like as a baby.  When he started walking.  His first word.  Who saw his first smile.  Any of that.  I know he’ll have many firsts with us, but I’m already mourning that there are many I won’t get to experience.

I think we’ll probably start treatments again next year, because the ache to be pregnant again is overwhelming sometimes.  P and I spent the first night of our trip to Florida with my favorite aunt and uncle.  This is the aunt who had a son when she was in high school and gave him up for adoption–they found each other when he was 19 or 20 (I was 18) and that was the first I’d ever known about him.  When she got married later and they wanted to start a family, she had endometriosis so badly that it was impossible.  Eventually, she had to have a hysterectomy and ovectomy–part of one ovary was so stuck to her abdominal wall with adhesions that they had to leave it, and now she’s having PCOS-like symptoms (PCOS runs in both sides of my family).  She was never able to have another child after her son. 

I can’t imagine what that must have been like–to have a child she couldn’t raise, give him up for adoption, then not be able to have another child when she was ready.  We talked about it some and I explained that we’d go back to treatments eventually, not because I care about the biology, but because the amazing drive to give birth again hasn’t faded.  She looked at me and said, "Honey, it never goes away.  I had [son] 30+ years ago and I still want to have another one, even though I know I can’t."  The pain was evident in her voice and just rang so true to how I feel. 

I don’t feel anguish over most pregnant women, just a pang of jealousy.  I don’t know why Mary’s pregnancy hit me so hard.  I’m overjoyed to be expecting a son through adoption.  I DON’T want to be doing fertility treatments right now.  But every once in a while, it hits really hard.

July 11, 2007

Courtney, Christy, and Emily–stop reading now!

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 10:27 am by Erin

Everyone else, I need your input.

OK, they should be gone…but just in case…

These three lovely women, and several others, were the writers of our references for our adoption, either the homestudy, the dossier, or both.  I was wondering what appropriate gifts for them would be.  I would like to include something homegrown in my greenhouse, probably some hypoestes or coleus (this is what the coleus looked like a month ago–I think it’s the same plant).  I’d like to do flowers but don’t have anything blooming right now, though I hopefully will have some in a few weeks.  I’m just not sure how cut flowers would do if sent through the mail, since several of the writers are out-of-town.  I also want to get them something while we’re in Ethiopia, but I don’t want to wait until after we’ve traveled to send everything. 

Any suggestions?

July 10, 2007

Taking it back

Posted in The musings of Erin at 3:42 pm by Erin

I know I’ve said it before, but you’re all wonderful.  I can hardly thank you enough for the words of support and encouragement that you wrote after my last post.  I cried myself to sleep that night after another fruitless conversation with J (during which he said that it was "pretty bad" that I needed a break from P–he would kill to have that much time to spend with him).  Then I read your comments the next day and it really helped me remember that a break doesn’t mean that I’m a bad mommy.  It especially hit me that P might need a break from me.  I hadn’t thought of that before but I’m sure it was true.

So we planned a camping trip over the weekend.  It was good for family time; even better, it was nice because P showed that, if Daddy’s around, Mama becomes good mostly for food and hugs after falls.  You’d think that was a problem.  On the contrary, it was really good to see them having such a fun time together.  Daddy’s far more fun for looking for firewood, finding cool bugs and plants, and climbing dangerous rocks that has Mama’s heart in her throat.  I often think that part of my desire for free time is a serious wish that J didn’t work so much and spent more time with P.

We left on Saturday, under rain-leaden skies that almost threatened to make us cancel our trip.  Fortunately, we persevered.  In our home, it poured–P’s pool had a huge amount of water when we came home.  In the mountains, only 2 hours away, it barely rained enough to feel it, and only for an hour or so.  We went to a beautiful state park with a lake and wonderful hiking trails.  We like to camp and this was the best state park we’ve visited in the 5 years we’ve lived in Georgia.  When we got there, we quickly set up our tent and went for a walk around the lake.  When we were ready, we went back to the campsite, searched for wood, and got our campfire going.  Dinner was served a while later (hot dogs, baked beans, and strawberries).  We waited until it got darker and then roasted marshmallows for S’mores–P, apparently, prefers "plain" and unroasted marshmallows.  Once we finally got P settled into the tent and asleep, it gave J and I a chance to talk for a couple of hours.  Nothing really serious, just some time to let out our thoughts and cuddle in front of a campfire on a beautiful evening.  I felt a lot better that evening, as did he.

I found it very amusing the next morning as P didn’t even want J to go to the bathroom alone–he wanted to go with Daddy, no matter what Daddy was doing.  J finally got a taste of what it’s like to be me, and it helped him understand why a break is sometimes necessary.  After breakfast cooked over the campfire (eggs, sausage, and toast), we went hiking.  And this is what we saw:

100_2829 100_2834 100_2838  It was amazing.  It was gorgeous.  That’s probably not even the best picture from the overlook, but it may be the most dramatic.  The hiking was easy, more a walking trail, but that suited us fine because we haven’t shelled out the money for P to get some actual hiking boots yet (or at least shoes with really good tread).  Afterwards, we rented a paddleboat and went out on the lake for 30 minutes, which P really enjoyed.  He was convinced that Mr. Jeremy Fisher lived in this lake and wanted to look for him.  We found some marks that looked like galoshes footprints (OK, we convinced P that they looked like prints) and he decided that Mr. Jeremy must have hopped away.  But it was just as good to him!

Then P wanted to play on the beach at the lake.  We’re pretty easy-going parents and, though we told him that he could only go into the water up to his ankles (since we hadn’t brought his bathing suit or a towel), knew that he’d be soaked through before he was done.  He was stripped of shirt, shoes, and socks.  Sure enough, only a few minutes into playing, he "needed" water to build a sand Stegosaurus.  All of a sudden, he "slipped"–at least, that’s what he told us after we’d watched him put his hands in and practically cannonball into the water.  Fortunately, being a wise woman, I’d brought him an extra pair of shorts and underwear for him.  We toweled him off with my sweatshirt (that I hadn’t needed) and redressed him just before it started to rain.  Then we headed home.  It was a great trip and we all really needed the time to recharge as a family.

Tonight, I am getting some "me" time.  I have in my hot little purse a ticket to see this at midnight.  I’m going alone.  I don’t care.  It would have been fun to go with someone, but I’ve no doubt that my sister and cousins and I will go see it for a girl’s night out when we go to Maine in a few weeks. 

I’ve also decided to do something else that’s for myself, but also for my younger son.  I’m making him a blanket.  I haven’t done any crocheting in years, so I made a little one for P’s horse (seen here 100_2807  on one chair) first.  Feeling more confident, I asked P to help me pick colors for his little brother’s blanket and began working.  This is the work so far: 100_2840 100_2841 It’s a lot bigger than I’d planned to make it, but I really like doing it.  It’s soothing and helping me remember that I’ll have two sons soon, even if I won’t be able to meet one for a while yet.

I think that J and P are going to start having more time together, and I’m going to stop feeling guilty about it.  This time has already helped me.  Thank you all again–your words strengthened me more than you know.

July 2, 2007

What is the sound of one mom snapping?

Posted in The musings of Erin at 9:52 pm by Erin

I don’t know how full-time SAHMs do this.  I really don’t know how single moms do this.  I feel so overwhelmed and anxious right now, and it all boils down to this:

I really need a break from P.

This is an extremely hard post to write.  We went through primary IF to have him.  It wasn’t much of a struggle once I was diagnosed, but it felt like hell at the time.  I promised G-d repeatedly that I just wanted a baby, that I would love him and always want to be with him (or her, I wasn’t picky).  Most of the time, that’s exactly how I feel.  I want to be with P.  I enjoy spending time with him.  He’s a fantastic little boy–energetic, playful, happy.  He’s spirited and can be stubborn, but who’d want a child with no spine and no personality?  So even while I put him in time-out, I still silently and inwardly cheer that he is an individual.  We usually find new ways to channel that spirit that are acceptable to everyone, and it makes us all very happy.

After the even more hellacious seconary IF, I cherish P even more, if that’s even possible.  I recognize that there’s a very strong possibility that he’ll be my one and only biological child, the only one I get to raise from the moment of conception.  I feel like I need to enjoy every minute with him.  That doesn’t mean I have to spend every waking minute with him–ask anyone, he’s very good at playing on his own for a while while I do something else.  But the quality of our time together matters a huge amount.

This summer, we’ve been busy.  We’ve had plans at least a couple of days a week with friends or on our own (to go to the zoo or something).  Even on the days we don’t have formal plans, we go grocery shopping or have to run errands or work in the garden and greenhouse.  We’ve taken two vacations and have two more coming up.  The two that we’ve taken have involved just me and P in the car.  The first trip to Florida was 12 hours each way.  Sure, we made it in 2 days both directions, but it was still 24 hours in the car together in the space of 6 days.  The second trip was 6 hours each way, so it was 12 hours in the car together in the space of 3 days.  P was as good as could be for each of those trips.  We spend a lot of time together.

I feel like I’ve just spent an enormous amount of words convincing you that I like P as much as I love him.  I like him as a person.  I really do.  And I know that part of the reason that I’m trying to convince you is because I feel so guilty over needing a break; more so, for complaining to you about it.  A network of infertiles hardly seems the right place to be complaining that I need a break from my child.  But the truth remains that I just need some space.  A few hours.  That’s it.

At least 3 days a week, J gets home right before or after P goes to bed, which means that I do everything with P all day long.  No help.  One of the evenings he’s home is when I teach Bradley classes, which means that even though he’s here with P, I’m not getting a break–he typically gets home immediately before my students show up.  The weekends are hit-and-miss.  I take P to synagogue on Saturday mornings.  We both enjoy it and J gets some time to himself, which he also needs.  He usually goes to church on Sunday mornings while P and I are home.  This Sunday afternoon, for example, J had a lot of work to do and didn’t feel like driving to his office (for which I can’t blame him–it would have been an extra 50 minutes of driving).  So P and I went on an extensive grocery shopping trip.  When we got home, P went to quiet time while I put away the groceries and got everything ready for dinner.  We had a picnic dinner at the park with some neighbors–they have a son who’s 10 months younger than P.  J came with us for that and I did get to spend some time chatting with the wife while the men were playing with the boys.  It was a lovely evening, but I had to work all day to get it.  And it still wasn’t really a break.

J has absolutely no idea.  Completely doesn’t get it even remotely.  One of the people I’ve spent a lot of time with this summer is a single mom who’s a teacher.  She has a 4 year old daughter from Kazakhstan and is traveling in a few weeks to bring home her second daughter, also from Kazakhstan.  She suggested that before she leaves, we should get a babysitter for our kids one afternoon and go see a chick flick together.  I thought it sounded fantastic and told J.  He pouted because I would be going to a movie with someone else and wouldn’t have any other responsibilities.  Mind you, we’ll still do it but there was absolutely no recognition that perhaps that was a break that I really need.

The past few days with no a/c have just made things worse (we do have it again now, thank goodness).  Tonight, I mentioned to J specifically that I need a break from P.  Just a few hours here and there to myself without anyone demanding anything from me, even something as simple as pulling up pants after the bathroom or getting a cup of milk.  One at a time, they’re nothing.  When they’re continuous, it’s like the buzz of a fly that keeps getting louder and louder and louder. 

What was his response, you ask?  "I told you to leave P in daycare for an extra week at the end of the semester."  As I pointed out, an extra week 6 weeks ago wouldn’t be helping me now.  Plus, I didn’t need a break from P at the end of the semester–that was when I most needed to spend time with him!  I didn’t need time to myself then, I needed to unwind and be silly with my son!  So he said "Put him in daycare for a week."  Thanks, no.  That’s not at all what either of us need.  First, I don’t need that much break.  Just a few hours occasionally would be enough to restore me.  Second, P would be in agony.  He’s going to a new school in the fall, so he would be completely confused to suddenly be thrown back into his old school for a week.  While I’m sure his classmates and teachers would welcome him back, P’s shy and uncomfortable with new situations.  He’d probably cry all week, then be all the more confused when he didn’t have to go back anymore.

I tried to explain this to J.  I kept hoping he’d step up and say, "Why don’t you go do something this weekend for a few hours and P and I will have a good time together?"  They used to have Daddy and P days back when I was teaching MCAT classes all day on Sundays.  They would go to lunch and go to the park, or something else fun.  I keep trying to get them to do it again.  I usually frame it as they would get to spend time together, because what kind of mom would I be to tell them I want them to go so that I can be alone?  Then P begs for me to go, and J says "Come on, we’ll have a fun time as a family," and how can I say no to that?

But.  I.  Just.  Need.  A.  Break.  So why do I feel like such a horrible mom for admitting that I need a break from my child?  And how in the world am I supposed to do this with two of them next summer?