Monday, August 20, 2007

Hammer Time

Sophie Dog thinks it’s time the NFL brings the hammer down on criminals in its ranks. If the NFL won’t VapoRub Vick, she’s got her own solution:

I happen to hate pitbulls, but I condemn what that sorry excuse for a human Vick has perpetrated, and both the NFL and the judge need to throw the book at him. He will return to dog fighting at the first chance he gets. Sophie Dog and I are going to be so ticked off if he’s simply added to the growing roll of badly behaving celebrity athletes who aren’t held fully accountable for their actions. (By the way, if you lecture me about pitbulls, I’ll simply delete your comments, so don’t bother. Hate ’em, hate ’em, hate ’em. But I respect their right to be treated well.)

About that hammer. Sophie Dog and I were out for our morning jaunt but bypassed the nature reserve and instead headed toward the lake and a three-mile loop back home. As we came alongside the stadium for the local Summer Collegiate Baseball Association team, Sophie’s tail began madly wagging and she began weaving back and forth, her nose up in the air – she’d caught a scent. She plunged into the shrub along the railroad tracks and I fully expected her to come up with an errant baseball, which she has before. What she surfaced with – very proudly – was a hammer, its handle wrapped in … leather, her very favorite chew material. She carried that hammer all the way home, her tail continuing to wag madly. Sophie Dog has invented the HammerStick!

And if the NFL doesn’t send Vick packing, Sophie Dog just may pull a Tonya Harding and give him a good whack with it. I already know she’s got good aim. She nailed me (get it?) in the shin and drew blood, and that wasn’t even on purpose.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hot Cocoa In August

The rain’s been lashing down on us since early morning, more than 8 hours and counting now. My outdoor thermometer hasn’t seen 60 yet. The rain gauge is approaching 3 inches. The poor, drenched hummingbirds sit huddled on their sugar-water feeders (strategically placed under the dry eaves) trying to conserve body heat. Sophie Dog refuses to go out and potty. I had to walk her in my backyard on the leash, and even then, no doggy duty in the pouring rain, as if this slobbering, maniacal beast is too dainty to get her feet wet. I have 17 freelance articles due this coming Thursday night. Rudy Cat had emergency surgery yesterday. Yes, I’m having a pity party this weekend, for myself and the hapless creatures. But it’s about to take a pause with two of life’s simple pleasures: a steaming mug of Swiss Miss and a hunk of Great Harvest bread.

11:15 p.m. update

We've now had about 7 inches of rain today, and it's supposed to continue pouring on through to the morning. I've never seen it rain here so much in one day. It has not stopped pouring. Earlier this evening I had to take that naughty Sophie Dog to the park to do her business, with thundering and lightning. We both got drenched, but she did what she needed and then practically fled to get back home. And I just now took her out back to potty and to check my rain gauge, only to find my backyard flooded over my ankles and my rain gauge spilling over. Ugh. I'm so worried about my basement flooding. I once rented a townhome in another Midwest state where the basement not only flooded on occasion, but backed up with sewage waste. I still have flashbacks from that nightmare. The rain is absolutely pounding down, the thunder is booming and the lightening is crackling. I wish I could enjoy it. Uh-oh, the surge protector just gurgled out some horrible noises and the lights flashed. ...

8 am Sunday update

We had another 4.3 inches of rain overnight, with more rain continuing. We had been in a severe drought in this region for a long time, and the farmers' crops were really suffering. In the last week or so, we'd had about six or seven inches of rain, followed by this current monsoon. Now my gardens are just saturated and smashed down and pathetic looking. We've had lots of flooding, and the Red Cross has had to open shelters for people forced to evacuate. Five people in the region have died from flooding. I'm grateful that my home is dry and safe.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"Not Yet"

I dread going to the beauty salon not only because the bright lights clearly show every wrinkle etched into my forehead and the bags drooping under my eyes (it’s a wonder the airlines don’t charge me extra for carrying them on!), but because conversation quickly takes a turn I’ve traditionally disliked. I’ve been going to the same pricey place for years (I know, why bother!). They have scads of employees probably using a revolving door, and I really don’t care who does my hair, as long as it comes out less hideous looking, so I usually get a different person each time.

Salon time for me is downtime, and while I truly enjoy socializing, I just want to spend a half-hour pretending I’m nowhere. No deadlines, no pressure, no stress. But each time, with each different person, comes the question, a dagger, meant only to innocently forge a bond between two women (one of whom, by the way, has very sharp scissors very close to your eyeballs, earlobes and jugular):

“So do you have any kids?”

Whoomp, there it is.

I’m a woman – a woman of a certain age, no less – so the question has been asked because the answer is so expectedly: “Why yes! Joey is 10 now and Laura is 8, and oh, you should have heard what 2-year-old Petey said this morning, you would just die laughing!”

Salonists are not the only women who ask this question. Almost every woman I have ever met for the first time in my adulthood has asked me if I have kids. Because it’s naturally thought to create a common bond among all women. You’re a woman (oh yes, of a certain age), so you must have kids, so I will ask you about them so that we can bond (superficially).

I know that sounds bitter, but when you’ve been asked that same question countless times for years – for years, people! – it wears you down. Whether you choose not to have children or are unable to have biological children, that question is more powerful than you may realize. I’ve always wanted children (some of my family and close friends may not know that, but it’s hard to acknowledge when it seems like it may never be a reality), so this question, “So do you have kids?” has always made me feel lesser of a person. I fully support people who actively choose not to have biological kids, but this question, directed at me, makes me feel as if I’m shrinking down into a great abyss of nothingness. It has made me feel ashamed. It has made me feel hopeless. It has made me feel ungrateful. It has made me feel resentful. It has made me feel unwomanly. Yes, I’ve experienced a sweeping range of psychologically healthy emotions. (Or not.)

But you know where this is going.

Tonight, at the spur of the moment, as I’m wont to do, I called the salon and asked if they had a slot open for a trim, and yes, indeed they did with (so and so) but not for my brows (darn!).

And she asked, “So do you have any kids?”

And I said, “Not yet, but I am in the process of adopting a child.”

First, I think it’s sad that I feel better by joining this club of motherhood. It should be OK that I don’t have kids, whether by choice or not. It’s OK to not have kids. Not everybody needs to have kids to be fulfilled. I highly support that. We are not defined solely by our heirs.

I still feel somewhat tentative saying, “Not yet.” Not yet means “will.”

Sometimes, even after starting the adoption process, when someone asked me “So do you have kids?” I still said no, flatly, and the conversation seemed to stop. I’m still getting used to saying, “Not yet, but….”

But I will be a mom someday, because that’s what I’ve chosen. (If you will be a mom someday but haven’t chosen your path yet to get there, you still can.)

This woman, or girl, who did my hair, was young. But when I told her I was adopting, she had a million questions. She knew nothing; what she guessed about the process was wrong. But why wouldn’t it be? How could she know what adoption means? I didn’t. Before.

“That’s so neat,” she said.

“It’s a privilege that I’m able to adopt,” I said.

She got my bangs just right. Just right for me.

The Final Word (For Now) On Babies R Us

I have one word for my shopping experience at Babies R Us: “Yawn.” I’m sure it’s normally a perfectly lovely store. My local store happens to be rather small, so there wasn’t a lot of stock, though. No white (or red) wooden cribs, for instance. I did enjoy the wider aisles, however, which clearly were designed with Mom-Lugging-Baby in mind (but really, the women I saw lugging Junior around in their convertible car seats looked like they were about to collapse from the strain. Note to self: Use a stroller!) Oh, and the clothing? Yeah, I found not only the exact same brands but the exact same outfits for less money at Sears. No offense to those of you who do like this store, but it was your basic Pablum. I had more fun at Ikea when I went there several weeks ago (for the second time ever) with some of my adopting girlfriends.

No, I have not been living in a cave all these years. When I want to do a little baby or kid shopping, I simply hit my favorite local $pecialty $tores or shop online. That way, you can find unique items. Funky baby stuff. One of these days I’m just going to post a bunch of links to all of the cool sites I’ve found online. I’m sure everyone else has BTDT, but by gosh, I'm going to have f*u*n. Let’s make this adoption wait fun, people!

Truth be told, I will probably venture to the much bigger Babies R Us in the thriving metropolis north of me, especially as I come nearer to buying a stroller (I’m currently eyeing all-terrain/trail-style strollers, like this one from Mountain Buggy Strollers (a company my cousin Asa also recommends) so if you have any you can recommend for or against, do share).

So, enough about Babies R Us.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Please Update My URL

All, if you get a chance, please update the URL for This Is Now by changing it to the URL The old blogger URL of will continue to work, but the site has been transferred to

This Is Now


Thursday, August 9, 2007

What Does This Mean?

I saw this note, dated July 19, 2007, on an agency Web site this evening as I was browsing around:

“Children’s Hope is one of the top five agencies in Vietnam…number one in placing children with special needs,” said Mr. Dao. “Among the 43 agencies licensed in Vietnam only about twenty are doing a good job."

That's curious! So which are the "top five" agencies? And what does "top five" mean? Top five what? I don't understand. Has anyone else heard of this? Do you know what it means? It just makes me suspicious.

That leads me to somthing else: There's been so much talk lately about ethical adoptions, such as Stacy's commentary and of course all of the thought-provoking posts at Voices for Vietnam Adoption Integrity.

I find myself these days scouring timelines and blogs, and I have come across referrals and adoptions that seem, well, odd. You know, tiny babies. Unusually long referral-to-travel times. Few details about the baby from parents who've otherwise publicly shared the minutiae of their daily lives for months. I'm sure we're all doing this. Checking each other out. Scratching our heads. But I'm pretty certain that if I were referred a tiny infant, a baby just a few weeks old, I'd have an incredibly hard time saying no thank you, I prefer to work with an agency whose ethics are beyond question.

That's why I'm so grateful I won't ever be in that situation with my agency. I'm confident that my agency does stick to the highest standards. Everything is above board.

On the other hand, are all of these very early referrals truly potentially unethical? Or are there situations in which they may not be? My mom raised this question one day when we were chatting. She wondered if it's possible that VN birthmoms plan their baby's adoption in advance, which is how some other countries can operate. If a VN birthmom plans to place her child for adoption, there's no abandonment, and that would seem to cut down drastically on the paperchase, yes? Unfortunately, I haven't yet seen this topic addressed over at Adoption Buzz, which I've enjoyed reading but which has also inspired numerous follow-up questions in my own mind.

So, can VN birthmoms make arrangements in advance for their baby's adoption? How often does this happen? Might this explain some referrals of very young babies (i.e., under four months?). Insights, anyone?


This was the scene from my backyard this evening -- a very still, humid evening. The small spot of orange is the flame keeping the balloon aloft. But as you can see by the second image, I'm not sure how well it was working! Yikes. (P.S., more on Babies R Us another time.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Small Steps Forward

Although there's not much movement directly related to bringing home Baby, I do feel like I've made some small steps forward with the adoption in general this past week. I have:

  • Made an appointment for Aug. 20 for a visit to my medical institution's global medicine/travel medicine clinic to get started on any necessary vaccinations and review Vietnam travel health issues.

  • Made an appointment for another round of fingerprinting for next week to comply with the new Adam Walsh Act.

  • Made some changes to my retirement and savings accounts to take a dependent into consideration.

  • Written out a rather large check for my agency for its International Adoption Program fee.

  • Told some of my neighbors about the adoption during our National Night Out get together last night, and met a couple neighbors from up the street who have infants and toddlers.

  • Signed up for two more graduate classes this fall, as I continue to work toward my master's degree (which rivals adoption in slow progress).

So, yes, there are plenty of things to do during this interminable adoption wait! OK, I'm off to play a few gentle rounds of fetch with Sophie Dog (off the DL - disabled list) and then, drumroll please, off just to look at Babies R Us, which unbelievably, I've never been too.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Attention Single Adoptive Parents

I'm going to start a blogroll for single parents who are adopting. If you're a single adoptive parent and want to be included, please just post a comment with a link to your adoption blog. And if one of these blogrolls already exists, let me know!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Tragedy In Minnesota

I've driven this bridge many times, and now it lays in a heap of rubble, rending so many lives in ways we'll never know or understand. Bad news has gleefully danced a jig around me today in so many different ways.

More On Baby Gear (AKA Fun Adoption Wait Diversions)

My girlfriends and I have been gabbing lately about what baby gear to buy for the little munchkins hopefully arriving before we no longer have to worry about FMLA since we’ll all be retired by then. (I’m not feeling bitter about it, truly, and I do need to post a follow-up about the adoption progress as previously promised.)

In the meantime, baby gear: Always a fun topic, streaked with a bit of stress since we want to make sure that 1) Baby is safe as possible and 2) even if the rest of our homes look like crap, Baby will be stylin’.

So my friend Jennifer F. (no relation), who’s busy preparing for twins, managing a two-year-old and juggling work so isn’t a blogger (yet?), tipped me off to a neat book called Baby Bargains (“as seen on Oprah,” the cover shouts out). The book, now in its 7th edition, is subtitled “Secrets to saving 20% to 50% on baby furniture, gear, clothes, toys, maternity wear and much, much more!” I’m sure most parents and parents-to-be have it in their to-buy book list or already have a dog-eared copy, as mine is quickly becoming (also replete with lots of those sticky flags, which I used to hate but currently love). Where was I going with this? Oh yes, baby bargains. I’m not sure about 50% off, as I’ve seen a lot of really expensive baby gear listed, along with a few options to get by on the cheap, but it’s still proving an interesting resource.

I’ve also discovered that the book has companion Web sites that may be of interest. For instance, you can read actual parent reviews of products. (The Britax car seats appear to be a big hit.) And you can check out message boards.

The book’s Web site also offers corrections, updates and other material that couldn’t be squeezed into the book.

Just a warning: I’ve found the Web sites incredibly frustrating because they take forEVER to load. And they are not easy to navigate. I also don’t expect to rely solely on the book either. What’s perhaps most valuable about the book is that it explains pros and cons of various features and what can go wrong. It’s a good jumping off point for your own additional research, and of course, helpful input from family and friends who’ve been there. (Um, hello, family and friends, that would be you!)