Wednesday, February 27, 2008

In the corner

Alternate title: When the nerds finally get comfy

Alternate alternate title: Calling John Hughes

My dear old friend Carrie, recently found on facebook, made my post for me today.

Mostly when you see photos from your past, they are photos that you took yourself or photos you have had in your possession for a while. So it's not particularly surprising.

This one, Carrie had. I hadn't seen myself this way in a long time. Eighteen years. In the corner outside the art room, eating lunch with my friends.

Notable features:
  • pegged pants
  • imitation Converse (they were actually Esprit; I got them at a deep-discount store called Gabriel's in West Virginia. I wonder if it is still there?)
  • thrift-store plaid vest
  • army-surplus backpack
  • notebook containing manuscript of soap opera about Greek hotel magnates, written by me and two friends during our uber-boring World History class
  • bad-attitude girlfriend
  • skinny but cute guy friend trying to look hot
And lest you miss the vital element of the John Hughes movie that was my life in 1989, here is the boy I was falling for at the time:

We grew up and got married.

There's a lot more in the middle, but can't you see this as a movie starring Molly Ringwald?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Laying claim

Over the weekend I was listening to some conference talks on my little mp3 player while folding laundry. This is good because then you can ignore all the kids' mundane requests for things they can really do themselves, like bringing them a blanket while their butts grow into the mattress where they are lying playing Lego Star Wars. And you can get a lot more done and just be like, "Oh, I didn't hear you."

Anyway I heard this talk. About claiming God's promises in your life. It moved me very deeply.

(I was standing at the kitchen counter weeping in a "Together Forever" crying-over-the-sliced-tomatoes kind of pose. Except I think what I was doing was making Ovaltine for K, because he is cocoa-loco and also very loud, loud enough to be heard over the mp3 player.)

Maybe it was so emotional for me because it touched on the pain of wanting but not having children. That is a pain that will always be close to my heart, even though I now think I have all the children I want.

But I think the talk was about a lot more than the promise of children. That was just one example.

We are at a place now where we are just on the verge of the fulfillment of a lot of things. The completion of G's education. Maybe a job. The adoption of our last (I think) two kids. I want these things to be promises fulfilled. I want to deserve them.

I think in some ways we do deserve them. Let's face it, we have worked our butts off for the last 15 years trying to get educated and adopt our kids. We have earned what we are maybe about to get, which is a great job that G can never lose (professors may not make a lot, but the job security pretty much can't be beat) and a completed family, final and forever, sealed in the temple and in God's eyes as if they were born to us.

But when it gets this close you also see that it's really all out of your control. Nobody has to give G a job. Nobody has to give us these kids.

And in a lot of ways we don't deserve the very best. I am still too prideful to give a public account of all my flaws and mistakes and sins, but I sure know what they are. And in bad moments I wonder how anyone could possibly really trust me with these kids, and whether I have been supportive enough to get G through this program in time to take a job this fall, and if it's really possible that three unbelievably, life-changingly good things could happen to us in one week, two weeks from now.

That's when we have two scheduled TPR hearings (March 11 and 13) and there is also a hiring committee meeting that will supposedly make a decision about the job G interviewed for this week (March 10).

But when I heard this, I think I knew:
"I pray that each of us will embrace these exceeding great and precious promises and never let go. And just as God remembered Rachel, God will remember you."
I don't know the future. But I know that's true, God will remember me, and G, and all these crazy little kids playing Wii for 12 hours straight and begging for cocoa and pulling all the books off the bookshelves.

I get so nervous, the last few weeks, and I know that's going to continue to plague me until things are settled. But I also know I have tried my best, at least most of the time, and I'm truly sorry for the times when I haven't, and I know I can trust the Lord.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Rainy weekend with 4 kids

And just me on the grownups' team.

Give me some ideas.

I am starting to panic.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What have you been doing, Mama?

The kids have been off school, and I ended up with three days off work through various means. It's been fun.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

News from the hearing this morning

The hearing went well. Things are not as final as we would like yet but they seem to be headed in the right direction.

We petitioned for de facto parent status. This allows us to be at all court hearings and to be represented by an attorney. This was granted.

We petitioned for the court to declare us prospective adoptive parents. This makes it so that Z cannot be moved from our home unless they can prove it is not in her best interests to stay. This was also granted.

We petitioned for a release of all records from the county human services agency to our attorney. This was granted.

The main purpose of the hearing which was the termination of parental rights was delayed. The agency is still checking into alleged Native American heritage from S because of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). They have sent out notification to all tribes named and some have responded but not all. This sounds a bit scary and it is true that ICWA can derail an adoption, but only if it is not done properly. It is actually good that they are making sure it is all done properly. Neither S nor her mother (who claims Native American heritage) are registered with any tribe. Likelihood of a tribe interfering in an adoption is very small, but they have to be notified or it will really screw things up.

The new hearing will be March 11. That is the same week as K's TPR hearing. So it will be a big week for sure.

S, her cousin, the cousin's husband, and Z's bio dad were all at this hearing. It was a little nerve wracking but all things considered it came out really well.

366.26 hearing tomorrow

That's the code for a permanency planning hearing.

From everything we are hearing now there are two possible outcomes:

1 - they could TPR and approve adoptive placement with us

2 - they could continue the hearing (postpone it) if S's attorney requests that (apparently he does that a lot ... loser)

Either way will work in our favor. More time will only give us firmer ground to stand on with Z. The longer she is with us the more likely the judge would be to agree that she needs to stay with us.

Your continued prayers and good thoughts are much appreciated!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

A day called hope

Guess what I did today.

I stayed home all day with four kids. Well, home except for a two-hour park outing. And I didn't throttle anybody. I don't think I've even yelled, except for calling people to tell them it was time to leave the park.

It was going remarkably smoothly until just now when I sent them all to absorb the last of the day's sunlight. They decided to play in the hose. Baby, too. It's kind of warm now, but not that warm. Then, at my insistence, they came in and fought over the Nintendo. Not even the Wii. The old Nintendo, the N64 or SuperNintendo or whatever the heck it is. Total knock-down drag-out. So now they are all on their beds crying.

But *I* didn't throttle them, and if they throttle each other, that's their own darn problem.

So maybe I can do this again, someday.

Friday, February 15, 2008

To eat by candlelight

You know G and me, we really go all out. Our entire Valentine's Day plan consisted of putting the kids to bed and then having a nice, simple dinner together before catching up on House online and folding laundry.

It's more romantic than you think to go to bed knowing the laundry is all folded.

Anyhow, I thought you might enjoy instructions for how to recreate my romantic dinner. Wine and butter are inherently sensuous ingredients, and we loved the sweet-sharp flavor of the marjoram with the wine and the velvety polenta studded with sweet, crispy corn kernels.

This is really kind of four different dishes, but I am just writing it as one recipe to show you how to do things in order so they're all done at once. Sometimes that's tricky for me, but with this dinner things go really fast so you can just take it one step at a time.

Valentine Chicken Fillets with Soft Sweet-corn Polenta and Sauteed Vegetables

1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
4 c loose raw spinach, washed and stemmed
1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed

5 tsp. butter, divided

2 chicken breasts, pounded thin

1 tsp. dried marjoram, divided
salt and pepper
3/4 c. white wine

4 c. water
3/4 c. yellow corn meal
1/2 c. corn kernels, thawed if they were frozen

1. Set 4 c. water to boil in a large saucepan with 1 tsp. salt.

2. Melt 1 tsp. butter over medium-high heat in a skillet. Saute bell peppers with salt, pepper and about 1/2 tsp. marjoram. Divide in two and place on plates.

3. Melt 1 more tsp. butter in the same skillet. Add garlic and spinach. Saute until wilted. Divided in two and place on plates.

4. By this time the water should be boiling. Slowly add the corn meal in a thin stream, whisking thoroughly to avoid lumps. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, whisking occasionally while you complete the remaining steps.

4. Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp. marjoram. Melt 1 more tsp. butter in skillet and brown chicken lightly on both sides. Add wine and cook it until you're comfortable enough alcohol has boiled off and/or until chicken is cooked through. Plate the chicken.

5. Reduce remaining liquid in pan by about half to two-thirds. Stir in another teaspoon of butter and salt and pepper to taste.

6. Stir corn and last teaspoon of butter into polenta. Plate polenta (you will not use it all ... I like to have leftover polenta).

7. Pan sauce goes over chicken and polenta.

8. Serve by candlelight.

By the way, we are going out tonight ... we have to dress G for his upcoming job interview trip. Should be interesting. Those of you who have shopped with my husband know. I am planning on an In-n-Out Burger, animal style, to fortify me for the experience.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Three words

O! Ba! Ma!

Services and stuff

It's back: My periodic list of cool stuff and links.

Do you like how I make no promises about having a weekly list, a monthly list ... no, it's a periodic list. I've been working in PR for 10 years now, with some breaks, and I have definitely learned the value of the nebulous non-promise.

1. If you ever buy on eBay you can start getting cash back on your purchases. If you buy a lot on eBay you might get a lot back. I know some of you creative, entrepreneurial types (ahem, Dana, Kris) make a lot of eBay purchases buying your supplies; this is your chance to get a new revenue stream going for your business. Or if you are like me, always buying new cords for your electronics to replace the ones the kids chewed through (why are you looking at me so funny?) or browsing for fun vintage finds, you can feel a little better about all the cash you blow through PayPal. If you sign up, make sure to tell them I referred you. The name is shawsinmn. Because when I first signed up for eBay ... oh, it's a long, privacy-compromising story. So, never mind.

2. You might remember how much I have loved finding a wonderful food blog written by a nearby person, Simply Recipes. What's local and seasonal for her is local and seasonal for me. But what if I move to a new place? Well, I am checking out Kalyn's Kitchen. And wondering if I am related to the author. She looks kind of familiar, and I think I am related to about 50 percent of the state of Utah.

3. This is just a fun idea. Sometime when it is Sunday night and you want to stay up late to keep Monday from happening, commandeer the family Wii and make some Miis that resemble members of your extended family. Monday night, have a family baseball game on Wii Sports. It was very fun to cheer on all our aunts, uncles and cousins, not to mention Grandma and Grandpa, even though S and A were the ones doing all the pitching and batting. It turned out that the best hitters were somehow all the girls under 2 - my Z, my sister's daughter R, and my brother's fast-growing preemie sweetheart A. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I made them all short and chubby. The boys got a kick out of it. I got a kick out of it, too, because if you ever made my family play a real baseball game we would all start having bad flashbacks to PE (we all hated it) and probably end up comatose in the outfield from the trauma. But I rock at Wii sports and I bet my family would, too.

4. I am surrendering control of my menu and joining a community-supported agriculture group through Willey Farms. There is another one I seriously considered, Silveira Farms. It is closer and I actually know the family. But my office mate is doing Willey and we can split a box so it's cheaper. I am so economically motivated, it is kind of pathetic. But anyway this is exciting because I am going one step more organic! And local and seasonal! And look at me break away from my neurotic menu and shopping list! I long to find a local dairy that delivers. Then I could just do a monthly trip to Costco for meat and Cinnamon Toast Crunch and be free, free from the grocery grind ...

5. If you have adopted within the last year you may be able to find a photographer to do a free session with your family through Celebrating Adoption. There is some beautiful work on this site. As you might know, I am hoping to be able to use it really soon! Photographers who want to get on board can do so, too!

6. My sisters, very unfeelingly if you ask me, recently went to get their hair cut without me at a hoity toity salon. Well. This is where I get my hair cut. It is as hoity toity as you get in my town and I'm very happy with it. Highly recommended. It's one of the benefits of living in a small town: The best is really not out of reach. (Same was true for preschools; I sent A to this place - the best in town - for less than $500/month, full time.) While both these joints need a little website help, the quality of service really has been great.

7. If you have given up on scrapbooking in favor of blogging (raise your hand with me, girls) but still love the feminine look of a flowery, cute scrapbook page, check out Kris' new blog backgrounds. Free, free, free! And as cute as the URL suggests! Sigh ... my friends are so talented. I want one but I want it purple and proprietary, so no big changes at Watch Out for Mama today, folks.

8. Actually I am making first-year scrapbooks for K and Z, with the help of 8x8 scrapbooking kits like these. Why did I not do it this way before? It's tons faster, easier and better looking. I am tempted to redo the books I made for S and A so many years ago. Maybe sometime. Not now.

That's it for the moment. More stuff coming ... in a while.

Friday, February 08, 2008

And that ain't all

Social worker visiting this afternoon told us ...

If we sign a simple agreement to maintain sibling relationships, they will recommend us for Z as well.

I am so amazed. His promises are sure, and nothing is impossible.

Adoption woot!

The county is officially recommending us to adopt K! This is good, good news!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Almost grown

This is so exciting: my husband is short-listed for a faculty job!

It is almost like I am going to have a real, grown-up life!

The stars must align and heaven must smile on us for this job to pan out, and for the foster kids to turn into just regular kids (of ours!) within the next six months so that we can move all together. People ask me that a lot. What would have to happen is that we'd have to get them in adoptive placement rather than foster placement, and then we should be able to do an Interstate Compact for Placement of Children and just move all together. And I would go contract and keep doing work for my current workplace, just like I did with my job from before S was born. But with 4 more years experience I can charge a lot more!

We are praying our guts out. If it works, we will have our dream life. Seriously, I can't imagine much of anything that would be better.

It's a very happy day! Even just the dreaming is very, very fun!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Can't believe it

Corollary to the Music Wednesday post:

Look what I just found through that Double X blog entry! It's The Affordable Floors!

Do you know how many times I have googled that and found nothing? Nothing! Not that I am admitting to spending a lot of time googling defunct local bands from Pittsburgh. Oh, no. But oh my gosh!

If anybody, anybody knows where I can get a recording of these guys, please tell me. I wore out my bootleg cassette. Yeah, I know that was illegal. But I didn't even have a CD player then, and I was only what, 14?

Maybe it is not as good as I remember it, I don't know. But the nostalgia will fill in any gaps.

Music Wednesday

It's pretty much a good thing I don't have any extra money right now, because I wouldn't know where to put it.

There's new music out by lots of artists who, in a more carefree time, always merited my CD money. And I've recently found a passel of new musicians to like and listen to.

For serious, Jack Johnson, Sheryl Crow, and Lenny Kravitz all have new albums right now. I am loving Ben Harper, Ari Hest (I know, I told you that already, a few times), SiA, Sara Bareilles, Cat Power, Amos Lee, and all the rest you will see in my list at bottom right.

What to do, what to do ... oh yeah, keep listening to all I want for a measly $12/month on Rhapsody.

The more pressing question: which would I have voted for if they were all in a Screamer of the Week contest*? Sigh. Little waver girl, all grown up and probably boring.

*I actually cast my Screamer of the Week votes between December 1988 and Julyish 1989 at 100.7 "Double X" WXXP in Pittsburgh. Scream if you remember me calling over and over for "Suedehead" by Morrissey!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Monday, February 04, 2008

Cold play

As in cold playground. Although our favorite babysitter did teach A the intro to "Clocks" on the piano (you know, Coldplay) and that was one good reason for leaving the house this past Saturday. It had to happen, before somebody killed somebody.

This is a pretty cool little park in the new neighborhood near my work that I would love to live in and now with the housing bust could maybe afford, but considering that G is almost done with a Ph.D. it might not be a good time for us to sock a bunch of money into a house here. Plus the houses are Ick.

Anyway it was dang cold out there, but I got some cute pictures of the kids.

Z toddled around in the wood chips and only did a couple of face plants.

A (ever the fashion innovator, you will notice) conquered the spiderweb. That mark between his eyes came from a fight with a gate at the afterschool program. Ouch.

K rocked the swings. I can't wait until he learns to pump. I don't mind standing there pushing when it is nice outside. But when the weather's like this I just want to go hide in the jungle gym.

Which is what S did. He is increasingly photo-shy lately - such a mystery because he is really incredibly handsome. Not that you can tell from this fetal-position pose. He got much happier once we got back home and out of the cold.

These two are just too funny not to include. Click to enlarge if you want the full effect of the facial expressions.

And lest you start believing that I somehow don't have a favorite child, I offer you Z's big cheese smile.

Finally, the hottie husband. I really am so lucky.

I am ready for spring, now.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

When you say nothing at all

Sometimes it's because you don't have anything nice to say.