Friday, March 30, 2012

Where Are You From?

After reading this post, which then directed me to this other post, I really got to thinking...where am I from?  Who am I from?  What am I from?

I am from battles waged with Nerf guns in a darkly-lit basement; late night summer games of hide-and-go seek tag; and juicy strawberries, tart rhubarb, and crunchy asparagas stolen from patches in the far reaches of the backyard.  I am from camping in the woods, carving our names into too-tall trees.

I am from a brick house, built during the Bicentennial.  I am from a wishing well that advertises our last name and houses baby birds.  I am from small bedrooms with old doors borrowed from homes I will never know.

I am from the overwhelmingly sweet smell of corn at the end of summer, the sting in your eyes and the green in your hair from too much time under water.  I am from the crisp crunch of the burnt grass on your bare feet.  I am from the crickets chirping, stars shining bright, with lightning bugs flashing.  I am from the forbidden side of the barn, full of sand and cockle burrs that hook to your unprotected soles.

I am from the tree red tulips that return every year, unnoticed, under the back patio.  The apple trees and pear trees whose long gone limbs I remember as if they were my own. 

I am from birthday parties with 7-up punch, M&Ms, and little tiny mints; strong women of faith who believe that everything, no matter how hard it may be, works together for God's greater good; from Ruth Chelesa and Byron Harold.

I'm from dinners around a kitchen table with the finish scratched off because of an older brother's marathon homework sessions, outside baseball games with Ghost Men instead of people, and a long line of men who mash up their fried eggs with a fork.

I am from the sound of my Virginia grandmother's voice, praying for God to bless our meal "to the nourishment of our bodies", yodeling, and singing "You Are My Sunshine." 

I am from an antique paper angel on the top of our Christmas tree.

I'm from a smalltown hospital with a doctor who delivered most of the children in my elementary school.  I am from the Black Forest in Germany.

I am from chocolate dream pie, heaped with Cool Whip; salmon patties with homemade macaroni and cheese, iced tea made on the stove; and summer delicacies of fruit pizza and dirt pudding made by an aunt around the swimming pool.

From a woman who swore she would never marry a farmer or a truck driver--but married both!  I am from a woman who found her true love the second time around.

I am from a necklace, with the stone from a long-forgotten engagement ring, from an even longer-forgotten relationship, between two people, one who is my hero and one I never met, that I wear to feel strong, safe, and loved.

So,...where are YOU from?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Smiths

These are The Smiths.

And these are also the Smiths.

Introduce yourselves!  Who are you?

We are the Smiths! Marnie, Paul, Nolan (5), Eloise (2.5) and baby (due this summer)!

We have 2 dogs, Morgan and Nikki, who got in on the bread action as well.

Marnie and Paul met at Purdue. We'll be married for 7 years in September.

At our wedding, Adam brought some delicious cigars, and we have an awesome picture of a bride and bunch of guys smoking them outside our reception. It is not digital otherwise I'd have sent it!

We're taking our first, big family trip together to Costa Rica this April!

Where do you live?

Laurel, Maryland.  Halfway between Baltimore and Washington DC.

The Smiths volunteered to sample a Loaf of Love.  What kind of bread did you get?

Chocolate Mint Oreo

What did you think of the bread?

Eloise: "I like the bread!"

Nolan: "It looks like brownies!"

Marnie: "Not as minty as I thought it would be, which is good! Good distribution of cookie throughout the bread, tasty!"

Paul: "It's good!"

Other notables:
- The baby started kicking right away, we'll take that as she liked it too!
- The dogs loved it! Don't take too much into that though, they also like poopy diapers :)

Who did you share it with?

There was just enough for the 4 of us to sample, little scraps for the dogs, and 2 small pieces the next day for the kids.

(I lovelovelove this picture of Nolan and Eloise sniffing the bread!)

Why do you support adoption?

We support families who decide to take on this monumental task because we feel all children deserve a loving family. It takes very special people like Adam and Lacey to take on something so big and rigorous because you leave yourself open to critiscm by other people's judgments or even just by the people who are analyzing the applications/paperwork/etc. We do believe that there are certain children we we're meant to doesn't matter if they were born directly to the parents or sought after in another country.

Sought after.  Hmm...

Did you know that the definition of "sought" means "to find something"?  Yup.  Our children are being sought after...big time.

How do you know Adam and I?

We know Adam from Purdue. Paul and Adam were friends first, Marnie met him through Paul. Combined, we have many amusing memories of those time at Purdue. We also have many fond memories since then - getting to know Lacey, introducing Adam and Lacey to our children, etc. Adam and Lacey aren't the types that have fallen off the face of the Earth once we started down this parenthood path which means so much to us!

When I first met Paul and Marnie, Marnie was just a little bit pregnant with Nolan.  And Adam threw a game of Catch Phrase at me and hit me in the eye.  Good times.

What kind of parents do you think Adam and I will be?

We think the combination of Adam and Lacey will make for GREAT parents. Adam's some times laid back approach will reel Lacey in when needed, and the same goes in reverse! The careers and backgrounds you have, although certainly an exposure to the worst case scenarios, will be a HUGE asset as your child grows and develops. There is no doubt that Adam and Lacey will surround their children with love, if the love and amusment they share about their cats are any indication. It will also be a house full of fun and laughter based on your senses of humor, which is so important when some of the 'noise' gets in the way.

We're so happy and excited for you in choosing this journey. Not only do we look forward to hearing more about this adventure, but we can't wait to see your beautiful family unfold :)

Wow. I'm still caught up by the words "sought after." 

Paul and Marnie, you have been amazing friends to Adam and I.  Thanks for taking care of Adam for a while before he could get to me. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Music Monday: The Promise

I don't promise people things. 

I am in a profession where I have been taught not to promise things, because the reality is that there are a whole lot of things in this world that I cannot deliver on.

I cannot promise children that adults will make the right choices to keep them safe and healthy.  I cannot promise a husband or wife that their spouse will stop fooling around.  I cannot promise anyone that this journey of life will get easier. 

So, in my life, I have promised little to few. 

But to my husband, I have promised much.  I have promised, through the mismatched sentences of our non-traditional wedding vows, a lot.  I am oddly protective of our wedding vows, so I won't share them with you today.  Just know that they hit on the usual stuff of sickness and health, successes and failures, and entering into this agreement (or promise) with limited knowledge of how things will change over time.  And knowing that they will change

I vow to come for you, if you wait for me. 

Yesterday, I came across a story of man who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for 6 years.  And, because I am empathic and relational (and self-centered), my thoughts immediately went to, "What if that were my husband?"  How would I manage if he were gone for 6 years, possibly not knowing if he was dead or alive, if he was coming home at all?  What would I do? 

I would wait.  For 6 years.  For 60 years.  I would wait. 

Trusting that, in war, if I wait, he would return for me.  Knowing that, if it's within his physical and mental capacity, he will come for me.

I vow to come for you, if you wait for me.

And as an adoptive momma, I think of this song too.  A promise to our babies.  That long before they are in our arms, in our home, in our country--possibly before they were even born, we made a promise to ourselves, each other, God, and them, that we are coming for them.

Together again, it would feel so good to be,
In your arms, where all my journeys end,
If you can make a promise, if it's one that you can keep,
I vow to come for you,
If you wait for me.

I promise.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pickle Fingers

There's been a lot of hullabaloo on the Internet about how other countries think it's ridiculous how most Americans celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  Considering most of them aren't of any sort of Irish descent.  Myself included. 

But, golly, it's fun!

'Cause all you need is...

Three friends...

A temporary bicep tattoo...

A free hat with a too-tight chin strap...

A leftover wooly stick-on mustache from last year...

A bagpiper with one extremely large forearm...

And some pickle fingers...


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wounded Warrior Awesome

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."      
~George Orwell

Last week, I had the distinct honor, privilege, and pleasure to be a part of Project Odyssey.  Project Odyssey is a combat stress recovery program, sponsored by the Wounded Warrior Project.  Through my volunteer work with Give an Hour, I was invited to be the mental health contact person for this 3-day retreat in Windham, New York. 

Some things that you should know:

This is Shelby.  She's a Great Dane.  She's also a service dog (awesome!).  I do not do big dogs.  I got to drive from the airport with her in the car.  I was terrified.  She is the biggest, sweetest, drooliest dog I have ever encountered.

We were fortunate enough to be partnered with Adaptive Sports Foundation on Windham Mountain.  They specialize in skiing and snowboarding for those with disabilities.  This picture is of a mono-ski (or a "sit ski").  It's like a chair with a ski on the bottom.  The skiier has poles with skis on the bottom.  A-MAY-ZING.

This is Pam Greene.  She's the program director at ASF.  She was also suckered into assigned to those of us who have never skiied before.  On the first day, Pam asked what other sports we do, trying to find a connection to the skills you need for skiing.  I said, "I like to do crafts."  She didn't seem impressed.

Indiana is relatively flat.  And, alas, I have not ever skiied before.  So, despite the fact that Adam downloaded the Army's "tactical skiing manual," I was not prepared.  This is the view up from Wooley Bear, the bunny slope that I was relegated to for 1.5 days.  The other two guys who started in the same group that I did were far better than I was, so they got to move on after the first morning.  Sigh.  I was, by far, the worst.

This is me at the end of the first day.  If you look closely, you will see that I have (minor) scrapes on both elbows, as a result of the scrapey fake snow.  You also may notice that I'm soaking wet.  I'd like to say that there is some badass reason for this, but I really just fell off the "Magic Carpet" into a giant dirty puddle of water.  If it looks like I'm cold, I'm not.  It was 65 degrees...perfect weather for skiing.  At the end of this day, I texted Adam the following:

"I am scraped and bloody and wet because I fell in a puddle.  But I am happy." 

Fortunately, when I fell off the "Magic Carpet" the second time, there was no water involved. 
Just a loss of dignity.  It was videotaped.  Shame.

This is me by the end of the second day.  I wish you could see how incredibly high up we are.  On the chair lift over, I told Pam, "This is nauseating.  Nauseatingly beautiful."  This is Joe.  He started out in my group on the first day, but graduated because he was awesome and didn't fall down all the time in water.  But he took some time out of his awesome skiing to take a photo with me and Pam.

The view from the big mountain.  Once I graduated from Wooley Bear, I got to slide ski down What's Next?.  Look at that view!

This is Chad (left) and Carson (right).  Carson was the Instructor and Chad was the First-Time Snowboarder Warrior.  These two were amazing to watch.  At one point, they even did a tandom "pond skim" where they rode their snowboards over this pretty big little pond.  When I say that the people at Adaptive Sports Foundation were amazing...I mean it!  They have some of the best volunteers that I have ever seen!  Thanks, Carson!

Halfway down What's Next?.  Pam basically held my hand and let me crash into her for 2 straight days.  And I slid on my back for a really far distance right after I took this picture. 

(from left):  Claude, Carson, Joe, Me, Chad, Pam, Bob, and Peter

Peter is bad because he took the video of me falling off the "Magic Carpet" the first day.  No, really, he was just another amazing volunteer.  Who gave up his first college Spring Break to hang with us.  I told you--these folks went above and beyond to help out our group.

All fun aside, I cannot ignore the real reason I was there.  I was there because war is messy business.  War is ugly.  War is terrifying beyond anything I can imagine.  We cannot be ignorant to the fact that thousands of men and women are returning to their homes, families, and lives--changed forever.  It's not really about whether or not you support the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It's about people doing a job for our government in order to keep us safe. 

I look at each of these men and think What if this were my husband?  There are not a lot of things that I'm good at...skiing being at the top of that list!  But I am damned good at my job, and I love my husband.  And that's why I volunteer with the Wounded Warrior Project.  That's why I do this.

And so I say thank you.  Words that seem so small for a sacrifice so large.  So empty.  So not enough for all that my heart wants to say.

So thank you.  For your sacrifice.  Your honor.  Your bravery.  Your courage.  Your all.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Music Monday: Luna

Adam listens to weird music.  I'll leave it at that.

And when we first started hanging around each other, he let me borrow his Sia CD.  And it was the only one of his CDs that I listened to that didn't make me want to a) hurt myself or b) cry. 

I was just happy that the songs had words.  In English. 

When we first started dating, we didn't see each other much.  So the "two ships passing" reference in the song really hit home to us. 

I believe the world it spins for you...

Fast forward about 3 years. And we got a kitten. We had a hard time trying to figure out what to name the kitten.

Adam suggested Burrito, because our new baby kitten was so little that she wouldn't didn't know how to eat cat food.  But she loooooved burritos.

And finally we settled on Luna. 

You know, like the song. 

Or like the moon. 

Or like Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter (getting warmer....) lunatic.  There.  That's better.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hugo: This Child Belongs to Me

If you have the chance to watch the movie Hugo, I highly encourage that you do so.  After putting it off for a while, because I really "don't like movies with robots in them," we finally watched it last night. 

(I won't give anything away about the movie, because I really don't like when people do that, but I will let you know that there are no robots in the movie.)

However, my ears perk up a little bit extra when there are characters who are orphans in a movie.  Hugo happens to feature two characters who are orphans:  Hugo and Isabelle.  Both are orphaned for different reasons, which are alluded to loosely.  Hugo lives in a clock tower in the train station.  Isabelle lives with her grandparents.

There is a lot of conversation about machines working or not working and how broken machines are not able to fulfill their purpose.  And how all machines are made for a purpose.  And how all people are made for a purpose.  And broken machines are like broken people, unable to do what they were intended to do. 

The following conversation takes place:

Hugo Cabret: Everything has a purpose, even machines. Clocks tell the time, trains take you places. They do what they're meant to do, like Monsieur Labisse. Maybe that's why broken machines make me so sad, they can't do what they're meant to do. Maybe it's the same with people. If you lose your purpose, it's like you're broken.
Isabelle: Like Papa Georges?
Hugo Cabret: Maybe we could fix him.
Isabelle: Is that your purpose? Fixing things?
Hugo Cabret: I don't know. It's what my father did.
Isabelle: I wonder what my purpose is?
Hugo Cabret: I don't know.
Isabelle: Maybe if I'd known my parents I would know.

And my heart ached.  My heart ached for every kid who has ever struggled with that loss of a sense of purpose, because of a loss of parents.  It ached for my future babies, who may or may not have the opportunity to know their birth parents.  Who may or may not have the chance to have a continued relationship with them.  Oh, good God, how I WISH with every fiber of my being that they DO have that chance!  But I am also realistic in knowing that the circumstances that create children being placed for adoption are not the ideal circumstances.

Towards the end of the film, Hugo is sort of captured by the train station inspector (played by the ever-lovely Sacha Baron Cohen...yum!), and is going to be sent to an orphanage. 

Inspector Gustav: We'll let the orphanage deal with you.
Hugo Cabret: No! I don't belong there!
Inspector Gustav: Where do you belong then? A child hast to belong somewhere!
Hugo Cabret: Listen to me! Please! Please! Listen to me! You don't understand! You have to let me go! I don't understand, why my father died! Why I'm alone!
Hugo Cabret: This is my only chance, to work. You should understand!
Georges Méliès: I do! I do! Monsieur, this child belongs to me.

Ba-zing!  At this point, I was full-on bawling my guts out.  (As you get to know me more, you will find that this happens more frequently than it probably should!) 

There is nothing more powerful to me than the words "this child belongs to me."  And, it's not about claiming children or having children be possessions.  It's about children having a place to belong.  It's about everyone having a chance to belong.  I cannot WAIT to find my way to my little pumpkin pie (or pies) and say, "Hey world.  Hey orphanage.  This child...this child belongs to me." 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Music Monday: The Valley Song

    When death, like a gypsy, comes to steal what I love
I will still look to the heavens, I will still seek your face
But I fear You aren't listening, because there are no words
Just the stillness and the hunger for a faith that assures.

This week, death, like a gypsy, came to steal what I love.

And it's so easy to get wrapped up into the idea that God can't hear us or that God just isn't listening because I can't even come up with the words to prayWhere to even begin? 

I am so grateful that God can see the contents of our hearts.  And read the words written in tears on our faces. 

But, through all this, I'm able to say, "Okay, God, what's the purpose in this?  I know you're here.  Where?" 

I can't see You, but I trust that you are there in all of this. 

While we wait for rescue with our eyes tightly shut
face to the ground, using our hands to cover the fatal cut
though the pain is an ocean, tossing us around, around, around
You have calmed greater waters
And higher mountains have come down.

I will sing of your mercies that lead me through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy. 


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Boston Creme Friendship

My very first job out of college had some definite drawbacks.  Lousy pay, long hours, lotsa stress.  But a few things happened there that made it completely worth it.  The first is that I met my husband.

The second best thing that happened is that I met Nina. 
(this is not Nina's husband--it's our friend Noah)

Nina and I have been friends a long time--over 6 years!  In that time, we've both gotten married, she's had two babies, Adam and I acquired some cats, she's moved a bajillion times.  But our friendship has stayed strong.  I think it's hard to make new friends when you're an adult. 

Nina is the kind of friend that you can just BE with.  We have had long afternoons or evenings just sitting, talking.  In the kids' section at Borders (RIP), hotel lobbies, parks, my kitchen floor. 

Nina is the kind of mom I want to be.  Once, I was lamenting to her on the phone about how I wanted a baby, but didn't want to get pregnant and give birth alone, while Adam is gone.  She did not skip a beat when she said, "You would never be alone.  I would be there with you."  I have amazing friends.

Two weeks ago, Nina came to visit, bringing her two boys with her.  We were the last stop on a very long road trip for them.  Over the years, Nina and I have developed and honed our skills and love for all things Boston Creme Pie.  We've had it at the hospital cafeteria, store bought, and store bought frozen.  So I surprised her with these:  Boston Creme Pie cupcakes!

Of course, I had a little (very cute) help!

We went to 3 Sisters Cafe in Broad Ripple for lunch.  They have an amazing vegan and vegetarian selection.  Everything on the menu looked A-MAY-ZING!  It seriously took us forever to decide.  (Which left us time to spill 2 glasses of water...I swear the tables are unbalanced!)

I had the fish tacos.  I always have the fish tacos.  Anywhere I go. 
If they serve fish tacos, that's what I'll order. 
I don't know why I even delude myself into thinking that I might order something else...

And who doesn't love some serious huggin' during lunch?!
(It looks like there is a little tiny arm growing out of M's back.  This is an illusion.)

M got to play Sorry for the first time. 
I love little kids in "jamamas." (Klara sat in the box and tried to eat the game pieces.)

I got these cutie patootie pictures sent to me after I had left for work. 
M found a package of cookies at Whole Foods that are called "Lacey's." 

Sigh.  How far is it to Oklahoma?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Operation Rainbow Kitten

This post has been written and deleted about 15 times.

I am very rarely at a loss for words.  But I am.  And I have been for 3 weeks.

Because even though I sorta expected it...I was totally blindsided when it happened.  'Cause, the thing was, I wasn't ready.  I'm still not.

If the Army can't get ahold of Adam on the phone, sometimes they will call me to hunt him down or to relay a message.  No biggie.

So when they called on a Friday, I really didn't think anything of it.  And then they said that they were calling because they "finally got mobilization orders."  And then the room started to spin. 

I try really hard to represent Adam in a way that is becoming to his profession.  But it's hard to be professional and all business and remember the message that needs to be passed on...when you feel like you are going to throw up.  And like you can't breathe. 

I wish my husband had been able to tell me about the mobilization orders.  He would ease me into it.  He would wait until I was sitting down. 

Mobilization orders = deployment

So here's the run down, as we know it. 

Starting sometime in July (I love how vague the Army is), Adam will have 3 months of training.  His training will be relatively close to home, though I won't be able to see him for 3 months.  I've told him that I might just go drive around where they're training and hope to get a glimpse of his cute face.  Maybe I'm joking.  Maybe I'm not.  You never can tell.

After that, he will maybe come home for a week or so.  (Again, love the ambiguity of the Army with words like "maybe" and "or so.")  Then he'll go to Afghanistan for 9 months.  Fun.

So, here's the hardest part of all of this--nobody knows what to say.  I think the best respone I got was a from a client.  The conversation went like this:

Me:  So Adam is getting deployed.
Client:  Shit.

Yup, that's it.  That's about all you can say.  Shit.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Maid of Honor

This is my best friend, Jessica.  (Have you noticed that all of my friends are super smokin' hot?)

She was my Maid of Honor in our wedding.  It's a good friend who will walk you down the aisle (and hold your hand the whole way because you are so nervous and your legs are shaking so much that you can't walk without someone physically holding you up.)

And I was the Matron of Honor in her wedding.  I bawled through her wedding.  I think now's probably as good a time as any for everyone to get really comfortable with the fact that I'm a huge cry baby.

 Jessica was kind enough to try a Loaf of Love.

So, Jessica, introduce yourself...tell us some things about yourself...

I am a social worker, like Lacey, and met Lacey in school.  Lacey and I got married this past year, a month apart, and were each other’s maid of honors. My husband and I don’t have any kids, although our dog Holly thinks she is one (and truth is, she kinda is!).
We do plan on having kids someday and are also considering adoption, although we would be considering local adoption primarily (and then maybe from Latin America, as I have a passion for there). I love arts and crafts and am pretty good at it- when I decide to do it. I really like jewelry making and even made all of my bridesmaids’ jewelry, along with my brooch bouquet- yes it is as awesome as it sounds! Hopefully, you will be seeing some examples of my jewelry making skills on Etsy this year to help raise money for the Miller adoptions!! Oh, and if you can’t tell from the post, I like pictures!

 Where do you live?

We live in Broadripple in Indianapolis, IN. Fun fact: people always ask where I am from and I say Indiana as I have lived in 9 different towns in the state!!

What kind of bread did you get?
We received Chocolate Oreo Bread.
Your thoughts about the bread?
IT WAS AMAZINGLY YUMMY!! There were Oreo chunks throughout and chocolate swirls…seriously, you should try this! Surprisingly, it was not as sweet as I thought it would be, but again you could make me bread made completely out of chocolate and it probably would be just right!!
Who did you share it with?
Honestly, my husband got a bite, and I devoured the rest of it myself…it lasted 2 days!
Why do you support adoption?
Children, unfortunately, are often on the receiving end of bad decisions and bad outcomes. I work with children everyday who have been  abandoned and abused and it always breaks my heart to know that they have not experienced the joy and love that being part of a family can bring. I believe that adoption provides children with a family, which really is something a lot of us take for granted. Seriously, even if you didn’t have the “best family”, it truly makes a difference to have experienced the love, bond, and safeness that a family provides!
How do you know us?
I met Lacey when we were co-officers on the School of Social Work Student Association. I then met Adam after him and Lacey had been dating for a little bit as Lacey lived in Lafayette at the time. Over the past 7 years, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know them both even better and am thrilled to call them both friends.
What kind of parents do you think we’ll be?
Fun and quirky. Lacey is probably going to hate me for saying that, but at the same time if you know Lacey and Adam you would probably agree that these adjectives describe them. Now, I don’t mean fun and quirky in the way you might describe a bad date. I mean that Lacey and Adam truly are happy and fun people to be around.  They know how to enjoy life, on a daily basis, and I think they will do this for their children as well. Now quirky…Lacey would be the first one to tell you that her and I are well, different…lol, not only from each other, but just in general. For example, where Lacey is quiet, I am loud (ok, maybe super loud), where Lacey is more reserved, I am very outgoing. There are other things too, like eating lots and lots of veggies (they are my least fave food group) and getting her PhD (I took a vow never to go back after my MSW!).

However, all fun aside, Lacey and Adam will be loving and consistent parents. If you have ever been around Lacey and Adam and their cats, you will know they are loving cat parents. If you have ever just been around Lacey and Adam as a couple, you know they are a loving couple AND if you have the joy of being their friend, you also know they are truly loving friends. There is no doubt in my mind this love will also spill over to their children, and in fact, I would go as far as to say they already love their children and they haven’t even met them yet!  So, seriously.  We have the best friends.  (And I'm crying again.)