Friday, June 29, 2012

Week Two in Review......

I'll start by saying, "I'm Maggie.  I'm addicted to the cross-process filter on PicMonkey."

And I don't want any help with that.

Pinterest Week #2 was great.  Better than Week #1!  I think I picked bigger, messier, crazier reactions, mad-scientist type activities and that is up Georgia's alley like no ones business.

Here we go.......

These little babies really make the round on Pinterest so we gave them a whirl.  I'd grade these an A+.  First however, you should know......I love hotdogs.  Love them.  So--there's not a lot you can do with hotdogs that I wouldn't like.  I know.....what am I?  A seven year old?  This was a great activity for Georgia to carry out, very easy, pretty clean, and almost fool-proof.  They were also fairly delicious.  We'll do these again for an easy lunch for sure!

Side-note......It really is 'octopuses' (according to multiple grammar sources).....always thought it was 'octopi'......who knew? 

I'll say this about this experiment works......perfectly and quickly.
I'll say this second......I'm never doing it again.
I felt sick almost the rest of the day from the smell of Ivory soap.  It is so sickeningly sweet or acrid or something else I can't put my finger on that makes me want to vomit.  It infiltrates your microwave and your nose and I could hardly think of anything else but the smell.  I burned a lemon in my microwave to get rid of the smell and tried eating bananas, Oreo's, peanut butter, and pretty much everything else that I thought would take the scent out of my nose.

Obviously, I know nothing regarding what it feels like to be pregnant......but if you are pregnant and you've got that sensitive smell thing going on--steer clear of this.  I don't even know what I'd grade it--an A for F for foul?

This works great. However, as I suspected......there is no way this keeps a toddler occupied for an hour.  We wrapped this up in about twenty minutes.  Albeit, a good twenty minutes--but that's it.  And that's okay--it was very fun.  I filled up dollar store ketchup and mustard containers with the colored vinegar and we did this outside on the driveway with a tray of baking soda and a cupcake pan filled with baking soda. This one earns an A too.

This is the experiment that I had to purchase 8% hydrogen peroxide for.  And it absolutely works.  The weird thing about this is that at first, Georgia was a little non-plussed with it.  I kind of expected the foam to come shooting out of the bottle--in which case I don't know why I was doing it in the kitchen--but it comes out kind of slow and she just observed it quietly for a few seconds.  And you can see from the bottom middle picture above, something just clicked for her and she went crazy with excitement over this.  She loved playing in the foam that it left as well..........

We'll do this again for sure!  An easy, easy A.  

I'm planning on doing my third Pinterest Week the second week of July!  Join me?  What are you going to do?  Give me some suggestions--what ones should I do?  Leave some amazing links below in the comments!  

Hope you all have an amazing 4th of July!  We'll be heading back here for the 4th and I can't wait!  See you next week!  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Oh darling don't you ever grow up.........

I haven't done a post like this in about a year, but I think they're pretty important.  I want these things written down.  There forever.  A written record to read years from now.  For Georgia.  For me.

Today, while driving through a parking lot Georgia told me that she wanted to be big.  "How big?," I asked.  "Big like you," she replied matter-of-factly.

My heart starts to beat really hard when she says things like this, I squeeze back a few tears, and I give myself a little figurative smack in the face to help me come back to reality and squelch the panic mode that so easily settles in when Georgia says anything about getting older, getting big, having a baby, getting married (right now it's just to Chris, so phew), or going to 'big' which she means college (I drove her by my alma mater one time and flippantly mentioned it's where I went to college and it stuck).

And when I jolt back to real-life and realize I'm driving through an outlet mall parking lot instead of watching a montage of my life play before me in slow-motion set to Taylor Swifts, "Never Grow Up" I remember that I need to write stuff down.

The 'stuff' that really means the most to me about Georgia.  The things that seep through the sieve of our memories when they are replaced with cute memories of the next phase of life.  They aren't things we mean to forget--we just do.  It's like when people ask me now how much formula I was giving Georgia at nine months and I honestly have no clue; it was two years ago, not that long.....but it's like our mind only has the capacity to remember what we have to remember 'right now' about our kids because there's a lot more coming.

But there are those things at every phase, those sayings, those little habits, little mannerisms, quirks, and expressions that should not be forgotten.  I have a few today--I want to lock them in.

Georgia started her first ballet class last night.  Seeing her little body in a pink leotard and tap shoes and soft leather baby pink ballet slippers makes me realize even more how fast she is growing up and how desperately I want to cement into my mama heart all those 'Georgia-isms' that will forever be the epitome of who she is....and who she was.  Writing them down is a way of doing that for me................

1.  Gitchy........."It's all gitchy." I have no idea where this came from, but it's here.  If something is uncomfortable, crooked, irritating,'s gitchy. And it's become a permanent fixture in our home.   I think Chris and I actually use it more than Georgia does.  "Hey babe.......those ribs tonight?  They tasted a little gitchy."

2.  Belt-seat.  "Mommy--you're not safe.  You're not wearing your belt-seat."  I get this warning before we've even finished backing out of the driveway and I love it.  I will never ever correct her.  I don't care if we say belt-seat until she's forty years old.  It's a belt-seat. 

3.  "Blaeah."  (Say it like yeah). " you want some applesauce?"  "Blaeah." "Georgia did you have a good time today with Kate?" "Blaeah."  "Georgia....are you excited to to go to Gaga and Pop Pop's?"  "Blaeh."  And of course it's what Chris and I say now too--'yeah' is a thing of the past.  It's 'blaeah' baby.  And for the love......we can't figure out how this started!

4.  "Let's put up a show!"  Literally every five seconds.  And the thing is--I'm happy to 'put up a show' with Georgia.  I'll gladly contribute my rendition of Auntie Em to our Wizard of Oz shows.  I'll put my heart into playing Pinkalicious's doctor, Dr. Wink--but it's never right.  No matter what we do--it's not how Georgia sees it in her mind and she gets upset that we're not doing it right.  No amount of explanations seem to help.  She is a temperamental Scorcese--I'll tell you that much!

5.  "You're my best."  This will be part of the vernacular of our family for years to come.  At random moments throughout the day Georgia will tell us, "'re my best."  "Daddy........I love being your best." Melts. Our. Heart.

6. A 'big bit'.........I love this.  When I tell Georgia that something isn't a 'little bit,' she asks me or says, "because it's a big bit?"  Love.

7.  "I was just going to hug you."  This is maybe my favorite lie.  Whenever Georgia lurches towards me to take something out of my hand, try to hit my arm in a moment of frustration, or is about to start a fit and I stop her sternly she instantly falls to pieces and crys, "but I was just going to hug you."  Oh're my really are.........but your dad and I are on to you.

She was caught up in a movement. 

8.  "I just need to send a quick text."  Yep--that's all me.  And while I cringe when she says it as she punches at a calculator furiously, it's so cute.  I really think it is.  

I have a running list of these on my computer, I try to update it every three months or so.  I put reminders in my phone about it, I leave myself post-it notes, I'm driven to remember.  These little things aren't so little.....they're what we'll sit around and laugh about for years.  

Of all the memories we have as a family from growing up we reminisce constantly about things like how my sister said, "buffle bag" instead of duffel bag, "mipstick" instead of lipstick, and I lied about eating all the left-over cookie dough and blamed it on my mom.  These are the things that only a family shares.  They are those private, happen-in-an-instant, shared with just us pieces of day-to-day-life that are begging to be remembered.  Take a second and write a few down.  You'll be addicted..........

Monday, June 25, 2012

When it's not roses and sunshine.

Since starting this blog over a year ago I've received a number of e-mails from people walking, trudging, and crawling through the infertility mire.  They're always a little different, but the ones that have stuck with me the most are the ones from people who tell me that because of what I write here they feel more ready to explore adoption or in fact are starting the adoption process.  And that gives me chills of excitement, I'll tell you right now.

I don't pretend to believe that my words are what turn on the adoption light for them--I'm sure they're almost there on their own--but I do know after having gone through it that words can provide some kind of confirmation, assurance, a measuring stick, or a feeling of camaraderie that in the end grows a bit of courage to step out there and make a call to an agency, sit through education classes, put together a scrapbook, take out a loan, select a country, meet birth parents, or say, "yes....we'll be there" when they get the call that there is a baby waiting for them at a hospital right now.  

I talk a lot about open adoption in this space.  Our experience with it has been amazing, healthy, necessary, affirming, and the right thing right now.  

Why 'right now'?  

I don't write that because anything is changing about the relationship we have with Georgia's birth mom and family.  I write that because sometimes I worry that my rainbows and unicorns train of thought that I spill out on this blog about open adoption can feel overwhelming to some--who are just staring the process, in the midst of it, or even on the other side of it--people who may be having a different adoption experience with a different set of birth parents and open adoption might not seem like the wisest choice.  

It might not be.  It's your job as parents to decide that.  It's one of your first major decisions in the parenting sphere when you choose to become an adoptive parent.  What will open look like for you? I can tell you that open for me looks a lot different today than it did on the first night that we met our birth parents.  We discussed pictures, a visit once or twice a year, and maybe an e-mail here and there--if you've been reading here long you know that we're way beyond that at this point--way beyond.  

While I believe that if it can be done, it should be done, open adoption may not be the VERY best for the parties involved.......and you definitely want the very best.  Foremost for your child.

But here's the thing--there are some birth parents who don't want to have an open adoption, and as hard as that may be, especially when your child starts asking questions about them and you kind of just look at them with a blank stare--you have to respect that birth parents wishes.  And then there are some birth parents that might not be in a healthy place in terms of being part of your family.  That is hard for me to type.

It's hard for me to type because it feels harsh.  It's not meant to be harsh...just.....true.  Birth-parents choose to make adoption plans for their child for a number of reasons; they're young, they're not ready, they know they can't provide for a child,  they don't have the financial means to care for a child responsibly, they can't provide a stable two parent home for their child and they really want that, or their life is unstable and they know it's not a good environment for a child.  And if the latter is the reason for the adoption I believe it's okay for you to evaluate carefully how open your adoption really should be......if at all......permanently or for periods of time here and there.

After all--your child's birth parents chose you.  Chose you to parent.  Parenting means hard, difficult, uncomfortable, decision making in the face of doing what is absolutely best for a child.  And I believe that we are given a very reliable inner gut instinct as parents--one that gives us the right words to say, decisions to make, thoughts to think, and action to take.  We have to listen to it--even when we really, really don't want to or it feels mean.

So if you're in that place--that hard one--where you know what you want but it doesn't match up with what you have and what you have doesn't seem like the healthiest thing for your family--rest assured--it's okay to make those hard decisions.  Just be you need to be with all parenting decisions......that the decision is really about what's best for your child--and not what's easiest for you.  Easiest for us doesn't usually equal what's best for our child.

If that was the case I would have stopped fighting the battle over watching shows all day a long time ago.

Open adoption is amazing....when it is.  Open adoption is amazing......even when it's a little hard.  You're the parent--you know.  

*While I am not one for disclaimers ,it needs to be stated that this post has little to do with my own adoption experience. I just know that if I was walking a different adoptive road, one that wasn't so 'prettily wrapped' it would give me some assurance to know that it was okay if my adoption didn't look like my best friends or some blogger that has nothing but amazing things to say about open adoption.  So this is for you.  If you need it.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Here we go.....Round 2!

Agh.  I guess I took a little hiatus.  Not necessarily the plan.  Left me feeling a little panicky like a list of things to do that never got anything crossed off of it.  Anyway...........

As promised, I'm launching my second Pinterest week for June next Monday.  I think it's going to be a good one.  I even ordered the souped up hydrogen peroxide from Amazon that I'd need for one of the experiments I plan to do.  It wasn't $1, more like $ I'd call that dedication, right?  It better be freakin' amazing because I don't know what else I'll do with 8% hydrogen peroxide (it's usually 3% in the stores--for the next time you're on Jeopardy).  I have a feeling putting that on a boo boo would send anyone through the roof.

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

Monday: I'm going to be honest.  I'm setting the bar low for myself my first day in.  I've just gotten home from a week at my parents, Chris will have just returned home from a week in hell  Canada fishing, and the week is already crazy with Georgia going to a little backyard Bible club in the afternoons, I'm a shooting a wedding for this amazing girl, Georgia starts her first ever dance class, my mom will be in town, and we're leaving again on Saturday to head back to Detroit for the 4th of July, in addition to all of the regular everyday things that manage to take up a lot of time.  But busy is good.....I am head over heels with busy. So......this is Monday.  And I truly believe Georgia will think poking hot dogs with spaghetti noodles for lunch will be the pinnacle of fun. (There's no link for this idea on Pinterest--I'd love to credit the genius behind it so if you know of the link let me know!)

Tuesday: I am so skeptical of this one, but it looks way too fun not to try it.  I'll let you know or I'll post pictures of exploded ivory soap all over my microwave and kitchen and me having a mom tantrum because big messes in the kitchen about send me over the edge.  I'm flexible like that.

Wednesday:  This is wedding shooting day--I'm leaving at 1:00 and won't be returning until late. I'm crossing my fingers I can fit this in before I leave.  I can.  I know it.  I will. The comment on this pin on Pinterest, possibly made by someone who doesn't really own a clock, said this activity kept their toddler occupied for over an hour.  I think the last time Georgia was occupied by anything over an hour was during one of her R.E.M cycles.  We'll see.  We'll see.

Thursday: This one involves my crazy awesome hydrogen peroxide.  Again, I have high hopes and I'm banking on success.  I'm choosing to be glass half full about all these chemical reactions but I feel like without the blessings of Mr. Wizard, Bill Nye, or even Sid the Science Kid (and please raise your hand with me if he makes you want to poke your eyes out too) I might be facing an uphill climb--one with foam, and Ivory, and toothpaste, and fizzing baking powder all raining down on me.  Stay tuned.

Friday: This one's for me......and my friends.  And I'll confess, I actually made this Thursday night for a girls night here at the house.  And it's pretty much like crack.  I think.  I've never actually tried crack however.  But this candy is amazing!  Cake batter bark. And check out the rest of the site where this little confection is detailed.  It's adorable!

And to close....this little video (and I'm sorry for it being a Vimeo video--they are painfully slow loading.....I know.......start the load.....go make Thanksgiving dinner and come back......if you want to see it that's definitely a straight to video production however) that I promised Georgia I'd put on my "plog." We were making videos for daddy today and as usual--the lure of silly won out in the end.  Happy Weekend!  My very own Red Green baby comes home tomorrow (with a beard I'm sure) and I can't wait.....and watching The Vow alone right now doesn't make him being gone any easier.....know what I'm saying?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

On the deck.

We'll be hanging out here for most of the week.....on the deck at my mom and dads house where there is no end to the fun.  Fun that absolutely includes this drink dispenser from WalMart that my mom, in one of her many genius moments, picked up for Georgia to play with.  We've been making 'soup,' 'lemonade,''bird seed special,' and the menu goes on and on.

Chris is up in the back, back, back, back woods of Canada fishing, only reachable by a satellite phone (that I demand he rents), and where a boat drops him off at a cabin in the woods and checks on him mid-week to make sure there's no Deliverance-ish wild Canadians hanging out in the woods and that everything is on the up and up.  I won't mention the no-electricity/no-running water/no-bathroom thing or the fact that Chris was excited when he found a sleeping bag at MC Sports that his whole body would fit into and his head was covered when he zipped it mice couldn't crawl on him.

We're good here......on my parents deck, in their front yard......hanging out and playing all week.

Playing a little game of Jenga memory on the front lawn with Gaga.

We celebrated Father's Day with a rainy grill-out on the deck under the awning which is so cozy and when the rain let up we headed to downtown Plymouth (where I hung out as a high school student and 'cruised' the circle around the fountain and pretended to drink coffee when coffee houses started to get cool) and had ice-cream for dinner.

Have a great Monday.  I'll catch up with everyone later this week after we get home from my parents.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Strong Girls. Smart Thoughts.

Recently Georgia has been pretending not to know the answer to things.  Answers that she clearly knows. Pretending she doesn't know the answers to some of the questions she's asked would be like saying she didn't know the lyrics, by heart, to every Wizard of Oz song on our iPod (yep--I sure did make that mistake). Her not knowing--is simply untrue.

Or she'll defer answering to someone else with a, "You tell daddy, mommy.  Can you say it? I don't remember. " And in the last week she's started my least favorite kid thing, and one that I'm determined to break; the whole, "I have a secret to tell you," like she's not confident enough to just blurt it out like she was a week ago.

Sure.  I could pass these off as fleeting kid things.  All kids do it.  It's normal.  Just humor her in it.  It's no big deal and the excuses continue.

But I don't want to.

My husband is a man of amazing words.  He always knows the exact right thing to say, the way to put an argument into words that everyone understands and that is hard to argue with.  The other day I heard him talking to Georgia about this--because this phenomenon of 'Georgia not knowing' is not okay with him either.  He told her, "It's a good thing to know the right answer Georgia.  It's okay.  Don't hide it.  We are proud of you when you know the right answer. And if you know the right answer--you don't have to tell us a secret about it.  Be proud of it.  Say it confidently."

She hangs on the words that daddy says.  She lets them sink in and takes them to heart.  So we've made it a habit to say to her over and over, "It's okay to know the right answer.  Be proud of it."

I think the part that bothers me the most about this is that I see it as the beginnings of a trap that so many girls fall into.  They grow up thinking it's funny to not know, be silly, act confused to get a laugh, let someone else speak up, or follow everything they say with a, "you know what I mean?", "does that make sense?", or "something like that."

How many times have you heard a girl, or caught yourself, saying, "I thought that movie was ridiculous.  The story line didn't make sense and there was no character know what I mean?" Or, "I think history is really cool......I love to learn about other people and places and imagine what life must have been like.......does that make sense?"

As if it wouldn't make sense to like history.  Or having an opinion about a bad movie needs to be someone else other than yourself.

Girls need to be confident about what comes out of their mouths.  They need to know that no one needs to validate those thoughts, put a proverbial seal of approval on them, or agree that, 'yes........that does in fact make it's okay to think it.'

I think intrinsic confidence starts at home.......when our girls are little.  When our girls think it's cute or demure to act like they don't know an answer, when they want to whisper an answer into our ear instead of saying it confidently.........we need to help them understand.......that's not how we do things.

We say it........proudly.  Because what you have to say is important.

And I'm not saying that I want Georgia and other girls, or anyone for that matter, to be this big barreling force that steam roll over everyone else, blurting out every thought that comes to their minds whether they're intelligent or not just because they always have to be talking.  And I'm not saying that I think making sure that our children's self-esteems are this big gooey mess of love and good feeling and you can do no wrong because you're the best little gift this planet has ever received is the right thing either--sometimes we all need to be taken down a notch.  And let's be honest--over inflated self-esteems are the last things American kids need.

I'm saying that I want Georgia to listen to that voice inside her that tells her, "You know the right answer.  You can say it.  Don't keep that in.  It's important for people to hear." If she's smart about something I want her to revel in it, in a humble way, not cover it up, over and over until that flame is all but distinguished.

I spent a lot of my life pretending I didn't like stuff that I actually loved or that I liked stuff that I couldn't stand.  I didn't tell people I loved to write and that I spent hours in my room typing stories on the word processor I'd asked for as a birthday present. They'd think it was stupid for sure.  I wasn't honest about the fact that I could have cared less about playing sports until after two ridiculous years on the middle school basketball team in which I scored no points and wore black Calvin Klein high tops because they looked cooler to me than Reebok pumps.......and they flat out were--let's be honest.  And I remember too many times to count how often I feigned not knowing something while with a group of friends because I thought people would think I was weird that I had remembered something 'like that' or that I'd be interested in something so........schooly.

And it scares me.  Because with everything that makes me a mom.........I desperately want my daughter to feel stronger, braver, smarter than I did while growing up.

I'm also not naive to the fact that girls, or kids, raised in an environment that contain all the ingredients to turn out the most confident, self-assured young women don't always end up that way.  I know this because I believe my parents provided an environment that should have resulted in a stronger, more courageous me.  It's hard to predict though, what that boy on the bus might say to you that sticks forever, what one teacher might throw out casually but it leaves a mark, even what a parent might say without thinking you've heard--but you did.  

And that's why I think I need to be that much more vigilant about these early days with Georgia when she expresses trepidation about giving the right answer, being right, talking in front of other people, looking people in the eye when she talks, and knowing things.

If she wants to be quiet, reserved, a discerning follower..........or.........if she wants to be out-going, boisterous, energetic, and a wise's fine.  But I want her to be sure.  Sure of herself.  Confident in her knowledge.  Able to say what she believes and thinks in a kind way that doesn't need validation from someone else with a 'does that make sense?, do you know what I mean?, or 'something like that.'

I want that so much for her.

I think that as far as America has come regarding equal opportunities for boys and girls, sometimes I think we've missed the mark.  It shouldn't be so much about equal playing time and heaven forbid there is one more boys sport than a girls sport at school, or that women can now break through that glass ceiling (see the forest through the trees with me here) but about equality of thoughts and words.

It's a strange dichotomy that so often girls from educated families who are provided opportunity after opportunity for empowerment frequently think of their thoughts and opinions as sub par until they are well into college or have established themselves in their career.

My hope for Georgia is that we can work through these three year old days of hiding behind my legs, pretending not to know the right answer, or feeling like she needs to whisper secrets to me.  We'll practice being confident, learning that it's okay to be smart and to know things.

The earlier we practice confidence and believing that it's okay to know what people are talking about--the better.  Things like this I won't pass over lightly as a kid thing, as a phase, or just as 'that's who she is.' I know what it can turn into; I've seen it--in the middle school students I taught for a decade and in myself.  And stopping it starts early.  Like as soon as you see it.

Georgia doesn't need to be the president (in fact she believes George Washington is still the president despite all the time we've spent practicing Barack Obama's name), she doesn't need to be the CEO of a company, teacher of the year, or climbing the corporate ladder.  She doesn't need to be the most creative mom ever, a renowned humanitarian, an author, or a photographer.

She needs to be confident.
When she knows something is right, when she's interested in something, when she's explaining something.........I don't want her asking for validation, suppressing what she really thinks, or worse--not saying anything at all.

She has it in her.  All of our kids do.  We need to bring it out of them.  Or at least work as hard as we can at it.

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