Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Blogging FAQ's.

I did an FAQ a couple weeks ago on my adoption and some random thoughts I had on it in regards to questions I get asked a lot.

And in case you think all I'm good for is information on adoption (ha!) I've also gotten quite a few questions in recent weeks and months on blogging since it seems like my other job.  I understand why so many people want to do it.  It's therapeutic (if you like writing and spilling your guts), it usually makes you grateful for what you have (because it forces you to focus on the good--no one really wants to read a post about how bad of a day you're having because your iPod isn't working, you have too many random things to do, your house is a mess, you feel fat, your kid didn't take a nap.......again, your cat puked three times, or your an old man backed into you.......at least I don't think they do), it commits family memories to "paper," and bottom line.....it's kind of fun.  I have "met" some great people through this new little hobby on the computer--even if I've never heard their voice or sat across from them for lunch at a restaurant--I've shared thoughts with them right here.  And, in cases like Mom Colored Glasses--hopefully one day it will be way more than just this great idea that's starting to gain some momentum.

So, here we go.............

1.  Where are the most common places to blog?  Wordpress or Blogger.  There are free versions of both and both are relatively easy to maneuver your way through.  I am partial to Blogger.  I've had more experience with it, I think it's much more user friendly, a lot of blog designers that the average person has access to will only design for blogger blogs, and there is just something about it that looks different to me--and I like that different.  I can usually tell instantly if a blog is a blogger blog or a word press blog (besides the obvious logo in the corner).  However, like I said above--they are both fairly easy to use and it's really just a matter of personal choice.

2.  Should you buy your own domain name? I went to a conference this past fall that really solidified my answer of "yes" to this question.  I didn't really think much about it until then.  But here's the deal--if you don't own your blog name, someone else can buy it........and then......if you ever want to do anything more serious with your blog.......like get sponsors and make some money.......you'll have to find a new name--after you've already spent so much time investing in building a blog persona under your original idea.  So here's the deal.....for around $10 you can buy your domain name and get the "blog-spot" out of the URL--plus it feels a little more official.  Head over to GoDaddy.com and see if your domain name is available.......sometimes you have to be willing to settle for a version of it instead of the exact name.  For example, my URL is apairofpinkshoes.com even though I call the blog Pink Shoes.  I'm okay with it.

And if you're using blogger to host your blog--you can buy your domain name right through them, they'll switch it over for you, and automatically withdraw the ten bucks every year to keep you in full possession of that name.  I also purchased a few other names--like mine and my daughters--just in case I ever want to do something with those one day, I know they're mine.

3.  What does it mean to follow a blog? Officially.......it means you've "registered" yourself as a follower of the blog within the actual blog.  See all those little thumb-nail pictures in the right hand column of my blog under the Follow Me sign--those are people who officially follow Pink Shoes.  It's really just a show of support, like......"I enjoy reading what you put out there....keep doing it!"  It's also the way really big bloggers gets sponsorships and advertising.  Companies and stores want to see that there is an established following on a blog before they're willing to back up what's written there with their product.

People who blog love you for doing it.  Promise.

4. Do you think it's important to try and stay as anonymous as possible on a blog? Well.....if you've read any of Pink Shoes before this post you know my answers to this question.  But......there are a lot of thoughts on this question when it comes to blogging.  I know bloggers who never share their children's names, never put up pictures, never refer to the location they live in, never use a spouses name, never reference who their friends and family might be, or use fake names for everyone they regularly talk about.  I'm one of those put-it-all-out-there kind of people.  As a blog reader, I need to feel some sort of connection to the writing--like I'm reading about a real person--and for me that means knowing who the writer REALLY is and what makes them tick.  I also love pictures--it feels authentic and relatable when I can see someones dirty dishes in the background, toys scattered on the floor, messy hair and dirty faces on kids, un-made beds, and broken crayons.  I see that and I think, "This is a mom just like every other mom--even if her posts are happy because she's choosing to be a glass half full lady--she's just..........regular."

So really.......it's your choice how transparent you are.  It's about your level of comfort.  There is one blogger I follow who has made up names (Pringles & Viva) for her kids and never puts one picture on her blog.  But because she's laugh-out-loud funny I love reading her.  That's a rare breed however.

5. Do you think it's important to hone in on a specific kind of blog to be? Not everyone in the blogging world will necessarily agree with me on this--but I don't think it's that crucial.  We're changing all the time as people--one day we're crafty, the next cranky.  One day we feel like super-mom and the next day we feel like ranting about some social injustice.  One day we are lamenting mom guilt and the very next one we're giving our thoughts on a resort in Jamaica.  Write about what you like and what feels like you right now.  People will know what's real if it's really real.  Don't pigeon-hole yourself.

6. What's the difference between Pink Shoes & Mom Colored Glasses? So this one is more just about me and my writing--but I've gotten it a lot.  Pink Shoes is my own personal blog where I'll write about things only pertaining to my life.  Mom Colored Glasses is an online magazine that I co-founded, write, and edit for.  It's a platform for a lot of other 'mom-bloggers' to come together and share information on what they're passionate about.  You're not necessarily going to get funny anecdotes on my potty training woes (they're funny right?) on Mom Colored Glasses--you have to come here to Pink Shoes to get those little gems--but you'll fine recipes, DIY projects, current fads in motherhood, various mom profiles, products we love, and a wealth of other information--some you might be interested in, other stuff you won't be--just like any other magazine.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Funny thing; looking back.....

Today is Wednesday, January 25th, 2012.  Three years ago on this date I wrote a post for the blog my husband and I started to keep our family and friends up-to-date on our adoption goings-on.  I didn't necessarily post that frequently--it was my first foray into blogging--but I happened to post on the 25th....which is pretty providential, seeing that I only posted three times that January, considering what we ended up doing basically three years to the date in 2012......just last night.  But first.....here's what I wrote back then:


my nemesis....conquered

i am finished with my delightful scrap-book as of ten minutes ago....now, i don't want anyone to get the wrong idea....i have a lot of respect for you ladies (and possibly some very confident men) who enjoy this hobby.

i get it...i mean what's not to love about cutting out countless pieces of paper to realize you are just one piece short of what you really needed so you get to run back to the scrapbook store for one 50 cent sheet of paper, or laying out an entire set of pages and finding one misspelled word that you already wrote in silver ink so you are forced to do the whole thing over again, and your cat constantly climbing up onto the table, counter, roof (wherever you think you can finally get away from him) and walking through paper glue and biting the corner of a picture, or sliding a finished page into the plastic sleeve and the plastic sleeve slides under all the pictures and rips them off the page, or having piles of paper, stickers, glue, scissors, etc. laying all over your kitchen table for weeks on end as you work on this glorious masterpiece.

all that to say...that i'm excited to be finished with this. i really am proud of it and it's so strange to think that this will go from our hands into the hands of someone who will be our birth mom. chris and i have talked a lot about the pictures we've chosen to put in this and would laugh about the context of the photographs and then wonder what someone else will think about them...if they'll notice something about "us" that we didn't notice or pick up on something that really speaks to them that we couldn't possibly have imagined and most importantly if they'll get a glimpse into who "we" are and if we seem to be a good fit for their child.

our home study report is still not officially filed...BUT...the reason that this book will be turned in tomorrow is that we received an e-mail from our social worker on monday requesting that i bring our book down if possible by tomorrow, the 26th, because there is a couple that she's very interested in showing our book to. they are due in march.

they are due in march. they are due in march. those are five crazy words that don't really have any finality for us....as of right now. but they could. and that has really gotten us thinking this week about how real what we are doing is. when we started this process at the end of september that's all it was....a process....and now we're being confronted with a possible end to that process. not that adoption is ever over....it's our reality forever....but those preliminary hoops, so to speak, could be coming to an end. we'll have to wait and see. the anticipation is so exciting and so very cool....we just can't wait to see how it all plays out!

   we did go and register yesterday.....and just in case anyone was wondering babies r us has a special registry    list for parents who are adopting....it's even labeled "domestic adoption registry list." and the strangest   thing.....adopted babies need the same stuff that non-adopted babies need....who would have thought?
It's so crazy to even remember what the old me was like.  That 'me' who was working on a scrapbook to be turned in to our adoption agency for this random couple to look at it.  A couple that took almost three weeks with our book, trying to decide if they wanted to meet in person....changing our life forever.  And when I say it's hard to remember what that 'me' was like I don't say it with anything but thankfulness that I'm so different now.  I have this little girl that is the reason that Chris and I are who we are........now.  I can call myself not only a mama, but an adoptive one--and I couldn't love this crazy road of adoption more for what it teaches you about yourself, your spouse, the struggle that other families go through to come to this amazing decision to make you a parent, a child, and what unconditional love is.  
So, here I am three years to the day that I finished a scrapbook, to be turned in to my agency on the next day, hoping, praying, that it would possibly result in a baby.  I didn't really hold out a lot of hope.  It was a long-shot I thought, it was too quick, and frankly it scared me----because if it did work---I knew (kind-of) what it would mean.  
But it did work.  They chose us.  
And last night, we took our little girl to pre-school orientation--the little girl that was born just seven short weeks after I turned that scrap-book in.  Had someone told me three years ago on this day what I would be doing just three short years later I never would have believed them--and that's cliche--I know--but it just couldn't be more true.  
  Getting ready to head to orientation.  One day--soon, I hope--I'll be able to get pictures of Georgia's face.  For now, she turns her head every time the camera comes out.  Sigh. 

No lie....she asked to bring this apple to meet her teacher.  She saw it in a book we got from the library.......and it's gospel.

My timid girl turned into a different kid once we got into the gym at school--it was like someone set her free.  Who in the world loved those scooters....a.k.a finger pinchers....in elementary school?  My kid does--she was flying all over that gym and was a big sweaty mess when we finally convinced her to leave.  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dear Dorothy, Tin-Man, & the Scarecrow.......

I loathe you.  Literally loathe you.  You consume many waking minutes of my day, and all of my daughters. We took Georgia to see you in the Wizard of Oz at our local theater because we had free tickets--way back at the beginning of December.  You all helped create an addict.  I guess it's true what they say, "The first taste is always free." Since that day I am regularly engaged in conversations like this:

  • "Mommy, what was your favorite part of the Wizard of Oz?"  
And when I say, "The part where Dorothy fell asleep in the poppies," I have to explain why......and I could care less about those poppies--it's just an answer.......but heaven knows I wouldn't mind a few poppies to smoke come four in the afternoon and I'm literally skipping down an imaginary yellow brick road for the twentieth time that day.

  • While screeching, "Mommy.....you put your purse down on Dorothy.  She's sitting right there."
  • "Don't move any of these blocks, fake food, dishes, dress up clothes, bits of ripped up paper, broken crayons, or magnets.  They are part of the yellow brick road."
Sweet.  I'll just side-step through a mine field of sharp objects and wet paper (I'm sure you're as lost on this one as I am) in an effort to eliminate one more Wizard of Oz related melt-down.  
  • "What'd you say Georgia?"  "I'm not talking to you--I'm talking to the Scarecrow."
  • "Can we listen to the Wizard of Oz songs on the iPod?" 
I know, I get what I ask for.  I must have been smoking some of those poppies when I down-loaded Judy Garland warbling 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow.' On a brighter note, Chris and I know all of the words to DingDong the Witch is Dead, not something most people since.........1932..............have been able to say.  So, that's cool.  
  • "What was Glinda's last name?"
No idea.  "But she had to have one.  Everyone has a last name." Right--I think it was Jones.  "No, that's not it. " Smith.  "Nope." Gallerini (my maiden name). "Yes.  That's right.  It's Glinda Gallerini." Phew.  Glad that's settled.  
  • While crying, "I'm not ready to eat dinner yet because Dorothy isn't here yet."
I didn't invite her.  She's eating at the Lion's house for dinner tonight.  Get in your chair. 
  • "Wait.  We can't leave this aisle (at the grocery store) because the Tin Man hasn't picked out what he wanted yet."
Yeah, well.....he'll have to find us over in the juice aisle when he's finished picking out his favorite bake n'break cookies because we're moving on.  
  • "Oh no.  There's going to be a storm.  Do you think it will be the same storm that was in the Wizard of Oz?" (And please be mindful that this comment is thrown out there whenever a mention of a storm occurs on our news--which is always--because our forecasters are nuts about storms.  They were born for them, they love them, they're crazy. 
Yes, we're all going to get sucked up in a big giant twister and land in the creepiest world there is.....Oz. (I don't say that--but I'm getting darn close). 
  • "I didn't do that. Dorothy did."
Well please inform her that if she does it again, there might be some spanking up in here--see how the wizard likes that.  
  • "What was your favorite part of the Wizard of Oz? Your other favorite part."
I already told you.........five minutes ago.......and 10 minutes before that.......and 5 minutes before that.  My favorite part was when a great big hole opened up in the ground and swallowed them all.........oh wait.........

But lest you think I'm a total jerk to Dorothy and her main men............I am thankful for ruby slippers..........

because the promise of them resulted in some success on the potty--success I never thought we'd experience prior to the age of five for my un-bribeable daughter.  I guess you should never under-estimate the power of Oz.  Just three clicks of these babies, "There's nothing like the potty, There's nothing like the potty, There's nothing like the potty,".............and we were cheering in the bathroom.  

Oh, and I'm also thankful for tutus and wands and crowns and a great husband......because he's been able to show us what drag-Glinda might have looked like.  

So Dorothy--you drive me crazy, insane really.  However, I'll tolerate you through all this potty training business.  

Just don't get too sassy.  

Saturday, January 21, 2012


We all have them.  We have hundreds of them.  We have happy ones and sad ones.  Funny ones and serious ones.  Defining ones and mundane ones.  But they are ours.  They are ours to tell, to hold onto, to allow to shape our lives, to learn from, to share, or to hold secret in our hearts.

As parents, many of our stories involve our children and events that will one day be their stories.  We create moments so that our children have stories.  We plan vacations, we build snow forts, we create picture albums, we make special dinners, we uphold traditions, we laugh, cry, and whisper together, we play in the backyard on summer nights, we go on picnics, and we lay on beds together reading book after book.........and many of those moments get woven into what will become our children's stories.  Events they will recall to their children, their friends.  Events that will shape who they become.

Their stories.

One of the most significant stories in my life is my adoption story.  The story of adopting Georgia.  The story of deciding that we were throwing in the towel of infertility treatments because we knew there was something better.  The story of meeting Georgia's birth-parents.  The story of bringing her home from the hospital.  All of those adoption moments are mine--my story.

But somewhere in there, my story and Georgia's story start to overlap.  They are entwined.  Because her story was already in the works before Chris and I even chose to adopt....before our adoption story started. She'd already been conceived. Her story actually started first.

I'm not a secretive person.  I lay it all out there.  Some call it verbal diarrhea, I call it honesty.  I also believe that we all go through so much and so many times we feel like we're the only ones even though that's usually so far from the truth.  If more people talked--more people wouldn't feel isolated--and I'm not only talking adoption here.....I'm talking life.  I knew so little about adoption when we started the process.  I'd honestly never really heard anyone talk that open and honest about it--especially domestic adoption.  I really couldn't find any books on it (that were good), I couldn't find many blogs at the time, navigable web-sites, or anyone that was willing to be totally transparent about it--the good and the bad.  It's why I started to blog about it.  I wanted everyone to know.  Writing about it was also therapeutic and helped to sear in my mind what I believed about the process.  And I continue to write about it. 

Here, and here, and here, and here.  And there's more.....but you get the point. 

So yeah..............I tell everyone, anywhere, at anytime whatever they really want to know about adoption.  In the check-out line at the grocery store, at the library, at work, to the world, and to people who probably don't care.  I tell because I LOVE it.  And I tell because I think it's crucial to spill it as I work to cultivate a culture of adoption with those I see frequently and those I'll never meet but who read what I write here.

I'm reading an amazing book right now (full review and giveaway to come later this month on Mom Colored Glasses) about being an adoptive parent and what my role is in my daughters life--besides the obvious--when it comes to her adoption and telling her story.  It begs adoptive parents to build a life-story for their children--a story that starts before they were placed in our homes, as our children--because our kids need us to shape their beginnings for them in truthful, safe, and honest ways.  "We are our children's storytellers," "Reality is the best option," "Even bad news is good news because it is real news," and  "To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it more fit for its prime function of looking forward," are just a handful quotes amongst hundreds this book has to offer adoptive parents regarding why it's imperative that we build histories for our children that start at their conception--even if the details are sketchy..........because it proves their importance, their reality, and their worth.  We start their stories for them.  It's what all parents do.

It's true we start them.......but they are not ours to finish.  They are theirs.  And I've been thinking a lot recently about how long they are even ours to tell.  And before you think I'm saying I don't feel like I can talk about my child, herald our adoption story, or recount incidents both happy and sad, hard and simple about being a parent--that's not what I'm saying.  I'm saying I don't know how long it's fair for me to talk about Georgia's adoption with strangers and even with people I know without her telling me it's okay--especially in front of her.  I don't want to recount emotions that might not be there for her.  I don't want to assume what she thinks about in regards to being adopted.  I don't want her to think she's some sort of "party trick" that mommy likes to tell everybody about.  I will never know personally what it feels like to be adopted; only to adopt.  I'm sure she will tell me.

She might think deep thoughts about it.  She might not.  Everyone is different.  But regardless--as she gets older, enters adolescence, and connects all the pieces that we've provided for her.........it will be her choice what I say and what I write about being adopted and I'm committed to that.  I can tell my story.  But hers is..........hers.

And I think it's true for all kids.  We need to provide a strong, beautiful, and honest start to their stories.  We need to tell them their stories over and over until they're really theirs.  And then..........those stories need to be told by them--because they are theirs.

So work hard.  Work hard to start stories that your kids will be proud and confident to share for years to come.

Stories make us who we are.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Snow bunny.

Maybe in a few weeks I'll be over this.  The snow and everything that comes with it.  But right now, at least last weekend, I loved it.  Because she loved it.  And it was just so gorgeous behind our house in the woods.  Like the most beautiful.  


In other news......if you've been thinking of a word to define 2012--and many of you told me you were.....check out these bracelets.  

You can customize the word to be "your word." I have one with COURAGE coming my way.  Mom Colored Glasses will be featuring this artist later this month and hosting a give-away.  Stay tuned!  But in the mean time--I can't wait until mine comes in the mail and whenever I feel like wimping out I can look at that baby and hopefully feel a little nudge--or a shove, or a body slam--whatever it takes.  

Friday, January 13, 2012

One word. My word.

I recently read a blog post by my favorite blogger who talked about what word she'd like to use to define her life for 2012.  It got me thinking about what one word I'd say was my word?  It's a pretty intimidating choice.

What if I pick the wrong word...........like say...........joy............and then have the worst year of my life?  And try as I might to be joyful in all things I'd have to look back at the year come January 31st, 2012 and know I failed miserably.  I hate that feeling. Plus.........let's be honest, I've never bragged about being a glass half full kind of girl.

What if I picked the word health........and remembered I loathe exercising.......although hot yoga is winning me over one sweaty session at a time.

What if I picked the word relaxed and told my husband that's what I'd picked?  I'd have to endure him reminding me that I'm the least relaxed person he knows.......the amount of times I have to get out of bed before actually going to bed because I've forgotten to do "one more thing" like dust the coffee table, pick up my boots, start the dishwasher, edit one more photo, send one more e-mail, write down one more DIY idea for Mom Colored Glasses, or check on Georgia attests to that.

So, what word to pick?

I've been thinking about this for about twenty four hours now--because that's what I do....I obsess.  See why relaxed would really be all kinds of wrong for me?  All during yoga last night (which I was supposed to be relaxing through--whatever--an hour and a half of uninterrupted think time while I sweat my brains out and wonder why the guy next to me wearing a speedo didn't think to buy some razors--I'm thinking.....about a lot of things.....good things) I thought.

But here's what I've come up with.


And it's not this knock down, take the wind out of you creative word, I know that.  It's not unique or innovative.  It's not uncharted territory.  I know all of that.  But, it's about what I need to get better at.  I thrive on the safe, the known, the tried and true.  I cling to predictability and stability.  And while all of those things are good sometimes, when you love them too much, they are a road block to something great.  Something that you might never have known about, had you not had the courage to try something new.

So courage is my word.  I don't want to look back at 2012 and wish that I'd taken some bigger risks--on a personal front and a professional one.  I think back to the things in my life that I've passed on because they seemed a little scary, or took some effort to make happen, or I didn't know how all of the details would shake out so I decided, "that's a no-go."  Stupid.

But here's the thing......the one super courageous thing that I've done in the last three years with a lot of reservation, but I dove in anyway was adopting Georgia.  When Chris and I made the call to an adoption agency in September of 2008 to inquire as to how to start the process with them I was very hesitant.  I thought maybe kids just weren't for us after five years of infertility treatments that resulted in...............less money in our savings account and some scars on my stomach.........and I really thought I was okay with that.  I loved my job and the potential that it held for advancement, I loved our life and our "drop whatever we're doing and head to Chicago for the weekend," or "yeah.....let's go to Mexico again for spring break," mind-set.  But there was always this little nagging in the back of my head that told me I'd regret it if we didn't go for it.  So we did.  Against our standard M.O. we took that bull by the horns and didn't look back.  And we second guessed ourselves the whole way through, "how can we afford this, is it really responsible to spend all of of our money, what if there are no birth-parents that we feel like are a good match, what if we get a baby and the birth-parents change their mind, what if I'm a horrible mom, what if we look at each other once the baby is born and think, 'why did we do this,'?"

But guess what?

It was the best thing we ever did.  EVER.

And it took courage.  It took throwing all of our reservations and what-ifs and logic out the window.  It took looking at my 'cons' list, that consisted of very sensical and well thought out reasons not to pursue domestic adoption, and putting a big X through it.

And that big X was the best thing I ever did.
Because I got this.

Who is now this........

She's the reason that Chris and I do everything that we do.

So this year I'm focusing on courage.  And more X's through scaredy-cat cons lists.  I'm hoping for some new leaves and some incredible growth as a result.

It paid off pretty well that one time, right?

What's your word?
Make it a good one.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Today is.......

this beautiful.........

I'm talking January 11th in Grand Rapids, Michigan with the heat off, windows open, taking walks outside, and snow free lawns.............

I'm talking bike rides in our Hello Kitty Vans instead of snow boots, our sky blue pants to match the one above us............

I'm talking sparkly tassels on tricycles and legs that are getting better and better at making that bike go.......

I'm talking about shadow walks...........

and cozy coupe rides...........

with the windows down.

I'm talking about filling up water guns in January at the spigot......

and cleaning the garage floor............

I'm talking about doing a little spray painting outside for a new project............

and walking behind my two year old thinking, "why can't my hair look like that?"

I'm talking about loving this amazing day.  One that I don't think we've ever had in January.  This weekend..........a major blizzard is predicted.  I'll love that too.  

Happy Wednesday. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Five things I wish girls wouldn't say......

One of the most influential books I've read in the last five years on being a..............human, is Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist.  She's a writing role-model for me and the way that she puts pen to paper and gets out what's in her head makes me just want to pump my fist in the air and shout, "Amen," when I read her books. And I didn't grow up in a community that shouted "Amen."

There is a chapter in her book called 'Princess Free Zone.' I am addicted to it and read it frequently, especially since I'm raising a daughter.  I want the words from that chapter to be so ingrained in my psyche that they are second nature to me and just roll off my tongue when I'm speaking to Georgia.

Is the chapter about discouraging little girls from playing dress up?  Nope.  Is it a chapter that encourages women to bash men and throw out all traditional gender rolls?  Not in any way.  Does it speak of the evils of make-up and cooking and fashion and throwing dinner parties?  Just the opposite.

What it does reinforce is that sometimes, a lot of times, women who feel comfortable fulfilling traditional gender roles (which there is NOTHING wrong with) get that confused with being frail, needing rescuing from a big strapping prince, think it's acceptable to not know what's going on in financial matters of the household, can't have strong opinions and strong minds mentality.  And it's simply not true.

I thrive on traditional gender roles.  I don't have one single problem with them.  I want to do the laundry, I want Chris to mow the lawn.  I want to do the grocery shopping and cooking, I want Chris to take care of car issues.  I want to be home with Georgia and be a full-time mom, I want Chris to handle all of our 401K and retirement details.  But that doesn't mean I don't know about all of the stuff he takes care of (and vice versa).  And I certainly don't pretend that I have no idea about that stuff because I think it's cute.

Over the years I've been shocked at some of the things I hear coming out of other women's mouths in regards to what they know or don't know when it comes to the matters of their house-holds and how they function.  And really irritated.  Irritated, because I think it sends such a harmful message to the daughters, and sons, that we're raising.  And while Shauna really focuses on girls relying on their looks to get ahead and how ridiculous that is, I think it's equally ridiculous that so many women think it's acceptable to "be in the dark" on matters of finance, what they should expect out of a husband, and the whole idea of a spouse giving the other one 'permission' to do something.  That makes you as much of a princess as batting your eyelashes and giggling.

So when I think of raising my daughter in a princess-free zone.........these five comments come to mind........and I think us women should work on striking them from our vocabulary and raising a generation of girls who couldn't even imagine saying them because they've never been privy to hearing them.

1.  I have no idea how much money we have....I just depend on my husband to tell me how much I can spend.

I'm sorry but what the what?  It's 2012 girls and the majority of us have held a job at one time or another or still do and are plenty capable of retaining financial information.  If you don't want to be in charge of paying the bills or balancing the check book......fine.  But don't roll over and put yourself in the position of being a "kept" woman.  Know what's going on around you.  Look at the check book ledger, decide together what you spend on everything each month and stick to a budget.....together......one where you're both fully aware of what's coming in and going out regarding money at every turn.....so you know what you can afford to spend and what you can't.

2.  I'll have to ask my husband if I can buy that.

The whole idea of being an adult, and needing "permission" to do something is insulting.  If you really mean, 'I just don't think I can afford to buy that,' than say that.  Don't blame your husband.  That's rude to do to him and makes your relationship sound weird. And if you feel like you need to ask your husband because you have no idea how much money you can spend see #1 above.  

3.  I told my husband he could go fishing.

This is closely related to #2.  I never can understand why people want to make their relationships sound so parental.  Just like I don't think a woman should be told by her husband what she can or can't do, can or can't spend......a husband shouldn't be told where he can or can't go, do or can't do.  A healthy relationship is built on mutual respect.  Absolutely a discussion is to be had before a major purchase is completed, a trip is taken, or a Saturday afternoon is spent away from the family, and sometimes someone doesn't get their way and a compromise has to be negotiated.  But once the discussion is had.......it's had......and you move forward as a couple from it.  

4.  I'll have to ask your dad what he thinks.

Because you have no ability to make a decision?  Because you don't have authority as the parent who is dealing with the situation at hand?  Do things come up where you're absolutely baffled at the best way to handle something?  OF COURSE.  And that's when you're so thankful.....again.....that you have a great husband to bounce ideas off of.  But, maybe a better way to phrase this would be, "Your dad and I are going to talk about the best decision together and get back to you on what we decide." OR "Your dad and I will decide together what course of action we're going to take." But don't eliminate all your authority as a parent by passing the buck so-to-speak to someone who isn't even there in the moment.  

Think about a teacher who every time she has a student misbehave in class she sends them to the principal to deal with.  What do her students learn?  That she doesn't know how to handle the situations that arise in her classroom and she has to depend on someone else to discipline for her.  Your kids will learn that too--don't let them.  

5. I guess I just have to be happy that he did the dishes at all and not worry that it's not how I would do it.

Really?  Is that the kind of reaction you think a man would have if you mowed the lawn the wrong way, cleaned the grill differently than he would, you went to the more expensive oil change place, rearranged the garage in an effort to clean it, or let a bunch of high school students at the corner gas station wash the car during a fund raiser?  

I can just hear it, "I know the pattern on the lawn is all over the place, but at least Maggie mowed, right?" "Oh well that she got talked into a whole bunch of unnecessary stuff at Valvoline, but at least the oil got changed." "So, there's a few little scratches on the car from the high school kids using rags that they put on the ground, but at least Maggie thought to get the car washed.  That was so nice of her!"

The other thing about this line of thought is that I think it's insulting to men.  They're incapable of hearing what you have to say about how you want something done so we shouldn't have any expectation of them??? And I'm not saying that we should freak out if a cup is put bottom up in the cupboard if we'd put it in bottom down, but unloading the dishwasher means putting the dishes away, not leaving them on the counter and vacuuming the house requires picking up everything on the floor, not vacuuming around it.  

So let's not perpetuate the belief that a.) we can't expect things to be done the way we want them done, and b.) we should be so lucky if a man offers to help around the house that we should just take whatever we get, and finally c.) that men can't figure out how to do things the way we want them done--that's just rude--to them.  

**Bonus #6.........Man Cave.  Enough already.  Just...........enough. 

So as Shauna says, "I was taught to expect that men will respect me for my mind and my convictions, not for my ability to stroke someones fragile ego by playing helpless.  I wasn't raised to play dumb, or play cute, or play princess.  I learned to work hard, to develop my skills, to contribute on a team and in a society, and it drives me bonkers when women depend instead on their sexuality or their fragility."

So let's do it girls--let's strike these too often used lines from our verbiage.  Let's do it for our kids.  Do it today.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

One of those days.......

If you're a mom you need pictures like this.  You need pictures like this to look at on days like today.  Days when your child is not happy about anything.......because she's just feeling a little cranky--like we all do sometimes.  But it makes the day........a little hairy.  A little trying and a little, 'I want to sit down in the middle of the grocery store and cry too.'

Georgia is at a crossroads of sorts--the kind where she doesn't really need a nap, but she kind of needs a nap sometimes but won't take one.  And that part about kind of needing a nap catches up with her after day four or five of not having one and she's not entirely her happy go-lucky self.  But we push through and negotiate through a lot of tears and drama and arched backs and cries for her 'cozy blanket' (Georgia's go to when she just isn't feelin' it). And tonight we left Larry's, one of Georgia's favorites because she was just too tired to handle the fun in an acceptable manner.  And when we came home another round of crying commenced which seamlessly transitioned into maniacal laughing which expedited bed-time in a serious way.

And then I looked at this picture that I took of her this week at the end of one of her quiet times....the sun is hitting her perfect honey-colored hair, she's so focused on her 'Russian' dolls, she's sweet, so kissable, and she's mine, and the Georgia that is really Georgia.

And I'm thankful for pictures like this, on days like today.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


So............I get a lot of questions about blogging and the random stuff I tell everyone on Pink Shoes.  In particular, I get a lot of questions about adoption.  They're great questions and ones that I haven't necessarily addressed in any particular post so I thought I'd fill you in and give you some answers.  Keep in mind that my answers to these questions reflect one adoption experience; mine.  No two are exactly alike and since everyone enters the adoptive experience in a different frame of mind with varying emotions, paths that led them there, and life situations, my answers to these questions could be a one eighty from a friend of mine who was asked the same ones.

1.  How long did the adoption process take you?

I hesitate to answer this question because my answer is an anomaly amongst adoptions and I two hundred percent know that.  If we were to decide to adopt again I in no way would expect it to go as fast as it did with Georgia.  

Six months. 

We called an agency to inquire about the process in mid-September of 2008, filled out paper-work, took our adoption classes, and finished our home study by the end of the year.  I turned our scrap-book in at the end of January 2009, but only because our social worker begged me to since they had a couple that they thought would be a good match for us, and we met our birth parents February 11th.  Georgia was born mid-March.  Crazy.  Whirlwind.  Totally unexpected.  Totally awesome.  

Her adoption, however, was not finalized until the following December. More on that later.

Getting my fingerprints done.  Yikes--I look strange.  I was kind of scared of this guy.  This office was C to the REEPY.

Sending off our first set of paper-work...............

First check written for the adoption.

2.  How open did you intend your adoption to be when you started the process?

Uh, as open as a door with ten deadbolts on it.  I was completely opposed to open adoption and thought it was incredibly dangerous and risky.  I thought parents who engaged in open adoption were negligent and must have a serious lapse in parental judgement.  I have never had the wind knocked out of me so hard in regards to an opinion I was so wrong on.  

There was a moment soon after we'd met our birth parents, when we were at one of their houses for dessert one night when I just knew, in an instant, we'd never have a closed adoption.  It instantly became a terrible thought to me to never see these people again and not allow them to play a part in our daughter's life.  

That became what seemed negligent to me and I knew I could never have anything but an open adoption....especially with them.

3.  How often does Georgia see her birth mom and family?

That's a hard question to answer because there is no magic number.  We don't have a formal agreement.  We see each other whenever.  We live close.  We go to each others houses, get together for Christmas, meet for lunch; it's really loose.  We'll exchange texts about random stuff just because we want to and I love to see them.  Absolutely love it.  It almost feels like I'm hanging out with family when I'm with them; we kind of are.  We've seen each other about three or four times in the last four months.  

4.  Do you ever worry about the ramifications of an open adoption when it comes to your daughter and her feelings about who she is?

Not really.  Sure, there are these brief flutters of hesitation.  But those are mostly fed by antiquated notions of adoption that I grew up on--that we all grew up on.  Not a lot of research had been done ten, fifteen years ago on the benefits of open adoption.  It's a relatively new "thing" with domestic adoptions and is proving to be extremely healthy and helpful for both the adoptee, the birth parents, and adoptive parents.  I'm reading a book right now about creating a life-story for your adopted child that details where they came from; the good and the bad.  It stresses how much adopted children need to know their histories.  It's crucial to know where you've come from no matter who you are or what the story is.  Georgia will always know.  We've eliminated the mystery.  She never will have to make anything up or glamorize what she doesn't know.  I don't believe that keeping the truth from her on the matter of her adoption will shield her from pain and questioning.  I do believe that it is my responsibility as her parent to help her form a complete story of who she is.  

5.  How much does adoption cost?

It is so all over the board.  I've heard of people paying upwards of $30k for a domestic adoption through a large agency or about half that (like us) through much smaller agencies.  It's not cheap though compared to birthing your child no matter where you do it.  However, there is a federal adoption credit that you can claim on your income taxes and it's a huge help come April 15th.  

6.  Why does it cost so much?

Again, this answer varies.  Our bills included line items like adoption education classes, home study reports, birth parent counseling, court fees, placement interviews, fingerprinting, and a variety of other miscellaneous fees that I can't exactly remember right now.  One of the reasons we chose the agency that we did was because they could show us exactly how much all of the "work" of an adoption cost them in regards to filing documents with the court, counseling birth parents, time spent on a home study, and conducting adoption classes and there was little to no inflation of those items that they were making money from.  

7.  If Georgia's adoption wasn't finalized until she was nine months old did that mean her birth-parents could change their minds up until then.

No.  Not at all--not in Michigan.  Every state has varying laws on adoption and the period within which birth parents can change their minds but none of them operate anymore like the Lifetime movies we've all seen that scare the crap out of us in regards to domestic adoption.  For us, once Georgia's birth parents signed off their parental rights (which happened quickly since they were both present and part of the adoption plan; this isn't always the case) they had about thirty days to contest their decision.  However, contesting a decision like that isn't necessarily as simple as making a call and saying, "I just changed my mind."  According to our social worker they would have needed to prove that they had been coerced into the adoption plan, they had been blackmailed, or some other sort of suspicious behavior.  

From there, there was an additional ninety day period where there were more visits from a social worker as she compiled her final report to send to the state to petition for permanent adoption and to request a court date for an adoption finalization hearing.  Our social worker sent all of that paper-work in late September.  It takes a while to get a court date because family court is really busy and you get a court date when they have an opening.  It really has nothing to do with your situation or birth parents or something not going right.  It took two months from the time that our social worker filed our paperwork to get a court date and we only had three weeks notice once she did.  

But here's the thing...the hearing in court is more of a ceremony and a celebration.  Your adoption is in the clear once your social worker sends in a court request...and really much before that.  While it's an awesome thing to hear a judge bang a gavel and legally change your daughter's last name to Terryn........there was no reason to fear Georgia being removed from our home much past that thirty day period right after she was born.  And even then......I never really thought about it.  We were very lucky when it came to the extremely open line of communication we had with our birth parents from day one.  They told us over and over what a good decision the adoption was.  

But like I said, that's in Michigan.  

Adoption finalization hearing.

Outside the courthouse on Georgia's adoption day.

8.  Will you do it again?

The most popular question. I have no idea.  I struggle with this decision daily and I just don't know.   I have no clear direction in my mind.  I wouldn't want Georgia and a sibling to be any closer in age than 3-4 years apart so I still have a little time to deliberate.  If we decide to add another child to our family, it will be through adoption and we would hope that the situation would be one where we could have another open relationship with birth parents.  

That's it for now.  If I missed something you're dying to know about the process or anything else for that matter, let me know, and I'll do another FAQ sometime soon!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year. New Bed. Sad Mama.

I'm mean.  I'll admit it.  When I mentioned big changes in my last post of 2011 I'm sure I had all of you thinking things like, "They're getting a new cat!", "They're finally painting the living room gray.", "Maggie's going to convince Chris that they should get a trampoline for Georgia."

Oh--that's not it. 

You were thinking bigger?

It is bigger. 

It's a big girl bed for the peach.  At least that's the big change I'm writing about today anyway. 

And while this change might seem insignificant to all you veteran moms it's a big deal for me.  Probably the change that I've had the hardest time with yet when it comes to Georgia growing up.  No more formula?  Yes, please! Removing the changing table from her bedroom?  Finally we can free up some more space! Walking? Love it--she can go anywhere with me. No more baby gate at the top of the stairs? Shoot--I really loved tripping over it every day.

But the big girl bed?  That's a little bit of a blow.  There is now nothing in her room that is reminiscent of a baby (save for a little box of diapers and wipes that I'm convinced will be there................forever), oh...........and the mobile I made for her that I just can't bear to take down.  It looks like a big girl room; a play kitchen with food strewn everywhere, real books--not the cardboard kind--littering her bed, art supplies, hot pink and orange tutu's peeking out of toy bins, and jewelry all over the dresser that she WANTS to wear..........and don't even think of moving it.  She knows where her elastic rhinestone bracelet was put down the night before and it had better be there in the morning.  She remembers where she left her plastic Hello Kitty bracelet before bed and she looks for it right away to get it back on her wrist.  This girl needs to be bejeweled.  Period.  And that's cool. 

But all of that, plus an adorably cute twin bed is a bit sad for me.  She's really growing up.  I'd heard it had to happen, I just didn't expect to want her to remain two for a few more years as much as a I do. 

So to start the new year we dis-assembled the crib.
But I had to take a few last pictures of her in it first..................

Last morning in the crib.  I took my camera with me when I went in to get her and shot this.  I know--a flash first thing in the morning..........a little crazy.  But she was laughing.  I promise.

Last few minutes in the crib.............right before we started the tear-down.

Georgia really was excited for the new bed, despite what this picture indicates.

Watching it all come down...............she's laughing,  I'm tearing up behind the camera.

A big empty hole where my baby's bed used to sit.  It was there before she was born....just waiting for her to come home from the hospital..................and now........it's sitting in a pile in the middle of the living room in the basement.

Making progress.....................

And the fun stuff.  Not wanting to spend MORE money on a bed right now coupled with the fact that finding the perfect antique wrought iron bed is impossible plus needing to maximize space in Georgia's bedroom I decided to use one of these amazing headboard wall decals that I found at Land of Nod.  They have a number of different patterns and colors to choose from.  $40!  And so unique--definitely a great idea Land of Nod.  It takes a little patience and little spousal bickering to put up--but worth it in the end.

I guess I was practicing my deranged maniac look above.  Or maybe that's how Chris and I confirm that we do in fact love each other amidst a home project.

How great is that matryoshka pillow?  Georgia loves those little ladies!  Check out Darlybird for that pillow and more!

And as bittersweet as this new big girl bed is for me..............I can fit on it and in it with her, and that is fantastic.  I have to keep reminding myself that even though she's in a big girl bed--she's still my big-little girl...........and even though they have to grow up............they're always our babies.  Always.

This picture was taken when Georgia was one week old.

And this one.....two and a half years later.....this afternoon.  It is crushing to me how time goes by.

Love you Georgia.
And time, you slow down.  

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