Saturday, July 31, 2010

Happy news

I have been happy all day.  Want to know why?  Because, after eight months of applications and paper work, our adoption application was approved today, and our profile went online for birth mothers to look at.

So now, a birth mother could choose us at any time--and we could get a baby.  It almost feels like I am pregnant...I hope we are chosen within the next nine months!  (Though it rarely happens that fast, but I am not thinking about that right now.)

Check out our adoption profile here.

I will be posting more information later.  Right now, I need to go to bed...but I just wanted to share the happy news.

P.S.  I have been playing around with different blog backgrounds...I must be "nesting," HA!...but I don't think I love this one.  It might be different tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I'm going to El Salvador.

In 2005, I spent my first summer in El Salvador.  I was a young, skinny, idealistic college student, wanting to make a difference.

This is me, way back then:

I remember the first day that I stumbled into Hogar del Nino orphanage.  Xiomara was at the gate.  She was wearing an orange, hand-woven hat and blowing kisses, shouting, "Teeno!"  This is standard behavior for Xiomara, but I didn't know that then.  I was confused and amused.

This is Xiomara:

I walked around the orphanage and saw all of the kids--I say saw them instead of met then because there were far too many to meet.  I saw young, physically disabled kids in wheelchairs playing with a little basketball hoop.  I saw older, mentally disabled adults rocking back and forth and screaming.  I saw a room full of babies, lying on the ground on plastic mats, crying to be held.  I saw Geovanny, wearing a tie and smiling.  I saw Alonso, waving me over with his eager eyes, wanting to talk though he isn't able too.  I saw iron cages in their bedrooms.  I saw the workers hugging and talking to them.  

I was totally overwhelmed.

I met with the director, and, in my poor Spanish, tried to tell her how much I wanted to help.  I tried to tell her that the Hogar and its work on behalf of the residents was beautiful.

That's when I burst into tears.

I am not a crier, but the swell of emotions was just too much.  On the one hand, this seemed like a safe, clean place for the residents where at least they had food and some love (unlike so many disabled beggars I'd seen on the streets of El Salvador).  On the other hand, how could they sleep in cribs that looked like cages?  How could all 150 of them be given enough attention by just 30 or so well-intentioned workers?  Why weren't the physically disabled kids in school?  How could I possibly make any sort of a difference here?

I remember the director handing me a tissue with a smile.  She told me to come back the next day.

I did.

I came back almost every day that summer.  I fell in love with these faces:

I've been back every year since.  I didn't know if I would be able to go back this summer due to my fertility treatments and our summer schedule with Ryan's Board exams, etc.  But HELP International is willing to pay for my ticket (I now direct their volunteer program for the orphanage), and yesterday I decided, "What the heck, I am going."

So on Monday, in less than one week, I will be taking off to El Salvador for a few days.  Ryan will not be with me, which will make me and the kids very sad, but I hope to make the most of my quick visit.  

I can't wait to hug this girl:

And I hope Xiomara is waiting to greet me at the gate.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I am frustrated tonight.

Here's why:

1.  It is impossible--literally IMPOSSIBLE--to surprise my husband with a gift.  Without fail, he either finds the gift or the receipt or the packaging, and he's not even looking for it.  It makes me never want to buy him a gift again.  Just a minute ago, I heard paper crumpling and then Ryan said, "Kan Jam?" in a confused voice.  I stormed out of the kitchen, and, sure enough, he was staring at the receipt, which I thought I had hidden carefully in my purse.  Too bad he went through my purse looking for a different receipt.  I told him I am going to return it, and he's not getting a birthday gift.

2.  It is like 200% humidity here in Buffalo.  The sweat constantly dripping down my face and back is enough of an annoyance, but that's not where my true frustration lies: I am most frustrated about my mop of hair.  My sisters, unlike me, are good at hair and make-up.  They always have been.  As fate would have it, they were also both born with naturally curly hair--which is incredibly easy to style, especially in humidity.  Get out of the shower, scrunch with moose, and voila...perfect.  I, who cannot manage a round brush or a flattening iron to save my life, was born with the straight hair that turns into a nest of fly-aways in humidity.  Does this seem fair??  Even a pony tail looks terrible because I get wonky curls at the very front.

And so, I think I have forever given up 1. buying gifts for my husband and 2. styling my hair.  Lucky man.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

After spending a week with my little sis, I have determined several things...

1.  It is a tragedy that we live 2,600 miles apart.
2.  She makes incredibly dramatic faces in photographs, and it is funny.
3.  I love comfy make-shift beds.
4.  We are good at setting up tents.
5.  I wish I were Amish.

 By way of explanation...

1.  Niagara Falls for shopping at the outlets and late-night fireworks

This was just fun.  Why doesn't Laura live closer?? I love having a shopping and hanging out buddy!

2.  Hill Cumorah Pageant, Palmyra, NY

Laura was quite thrilled about her clip-on OFF dispenser (please note her facial expression)--no more spraying smelly bug spray directly onto her irritable skin!   Although my glee might not be quite as evident, I was equally thrilled about our Mark's pizza.  Delicious!

3.  The drive-in movie

Ry made us a bed in the back of the Cardon's pick-up truck.  Sooo comfortable and fun!  I found myself wishing that I could sleep in the back of a truck on an air mattress every night.  The stars and the fresh air were lovely.  

4.  Camping in Allegany State Park

While Ryan got a fire going, Laura and I were given the job of setting up the tent.  We're not really outdoorsy girls, and if you look closely, you will see the obvious confusion on Laura's face as she wrestles with the poles.  BUT, we must have done something right because at about 2 a.m. it started pouring, and yet, we stayed warm and cozy all night long.  Here we are in the morning modeling our handiwork.  (I think we had just taken the fly off to dry.)  We must be good at setting up tents:

 5. And finally (I saved the best event for last) a journey through Amish Country

This was honestly one of the coolest things I've done since living in New York.  We felt like we had stepped back in time.  We watched in awe as boys in straw hats and girls in bonnets rode by in horse-drawn carts.  As we meandered through quaint farm houses and observed grazing sheep and fluttering laundry (the Amish don't use electricity which means no dryers), I felt a little bit envious of the simplicity and slow-pace of life.  I know, I's surely not as romantic and idyllic as it looks, but I really admire the way that the Amish live.

Each family has a trade of some sort and sells goods directly from their home, so you just stop and check out their clocks or rocking chairs or wooden toys or farm-fresh produce.  Our favorite was, of course, the candy shop.  The dark chocolate goat milk fudge was TO DIE FOR.  

If you live in New York and you haven't been to Amish Country, I highly highly highly recommend it.  Take an afternoon off and go for a drive.

It was a great week.  I miss you already, Sister!  Come back soon.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hanging out with Ry

Ryan on a recent camping trip

I love Ryan.

I love twilight...not the book, the time of day.  I call it the "witching hour."

I love driving down the highway with the windows rolled down.

Combining all three of those loves makes for a perfect evening.

Last night, Ryan and I went out to dinner to a little hometown Italian place in Getzille, NY.  It was a bit of a drive, but I loved every minute of it.  We rolled down the windows and watched the sun go down while blasting Mat Nathanson.

Over sun-dried tomato ravioli, we talked about life.  It's been some time since Ryan and I have talked about life because I was out west for a while and then my little sis immediately came to the Buff for a visit (more on that later).  I've missed talking to Ry.  When my sisters and I are together, Ryan doesn't get to do much talking.

He told me about a book he is reading--The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky.  Ryan loves to read and learn and think, and he is often reading five books at a time, all on different subjects.  I myself find it hard to sit down and read.  I am too A.D.D.  I think my husband and I balance each other out.

We talked about his pedo applications, and I had a mini-panic attack at the dinner table.  I started breathing deeply and asking when the applications are going to be finished.  He told me to calm down--he will take care of it.  I am skeptical because I am a control freak.

We didn't want to stop talking, so we ordered a slice of apple pie for dessert.  As we shared it, we talked about our goals for the rest of the summer and wondered why we never really meet any of them.  Why is it so much easier to talk about a goal than to pursue a goal?

We didn't talk about fertility treatments or adoption because nothing is happening there, and it's a little frustrating to talk about something that you have no control over.  It was nice not to talk about it.

On the way home, Ryan asked if I wanted to rent a movie.  I thought about how much I had been hoping to clean our apartment when I got home--but I said "yes" to the movie anyway.

After considering several options at Family Video (including "Post Grad," "Creation," and "Dear John"), we decided on "Extraordinary Measures."  It is about a family with kids with disabilities; we know and love several similar families and thought it might be a good tear-jerker to end our night together.

But at 11 p.m. (early for us), we decided that we were too tired to watch the movie and went to bed instead.  We'll have to watch the movie tonight.

We snuggled all night long.  We are snugglers.

It was a good night.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Girlfriends

I spent the last couple of days in Utah visiting girlfriends.  I had a scheduled reunion with my college roommates from Wednesday to Saturday, but on Tuesday, I also snuck in a visit with two of my BFFs from high school, Lizzy Church Bergland and Emily Pond Ricks.

Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of Emily and her cute boys, but I did snag a couple of Lizzy's snoogs:

I wonder where Worth got that hair?? :)

The "White Gables Gals" squeezed in plenty of fun during our three-day reunion, including

Shopping in Park City...

Playing with the funny "smile setting" on Kirsten's camera...



(Not sure why it didn't change Becky's smile)

A "photo shoot"...

Try not to notice how incredibly beautiful and photogenic I am compared to my friends. :)  We took dozens of photos, and I look like this in about all of them.

A day in the gorgeous Utah mountains, hiking to Stewart Falls and then taking the chair lift up to the top of the mountain at Sundance...

I adore this girl. 

After the hike, our feet looked like this:

So we decided that we needed to do this:

It was Tia's first ever pedicure!  

Of course, we also ate plenty of junk food and stayed up way too late talking every night.  It was wonderful.

I don't know why I am so lucky to have great girlfriends in Colorado, Utah, and Buffalo.  But I love it.  What a blessing friends are.  

Monday, July 5, 2010

Hanging with the Old People

Dad decided to fly me out to Colorado to spend the long holiday weekend with my family.  It's been a quick trip, and I'm sorry that I didn't get to see all of my friends here, but I have gotten to see a lot of two of my favorite people...

I was lucky enough to be picked up from the airport by my two adorable grandparents.  These cute "Oldsters" (as I affectionately call them) must know me very well because they drove me directly to Cafe Rio for dinner.


I just can't get enough of my grandparents.  I spent the night at their place on Thursday, and my Grammy put out a night light for me in the hallway, just like she used to when I was a little girl...she is so so so cute.  I got up early to go walking with my Gramps, and he was wearing his standard walking outfit--windbreaker pants with a polo tucked in and a straight-billed baseball cap.  I love it.  I wish I had a photo.

On Friday afternoon, they drove me up to the Colorado mountains (which I love and have missed) and took me gambling.  Yes, gambling.  We played $2.00 each in the penny slots at Central City.  I won 70 cents.

Five years ago, on my 21st birthday, my grandparents "kidnapped me."  They said that they needed to "teach [me] some bad habits," so they took me to Central City to play a dollar in the penny slots.  Unfortunately, since I didn't know where they were going to take me, I left my ID at home.  We were in the casino for about 20 seconds before I got carded.  My Gramps used his persuasive powers to convince the worker that he was a righteous old man who wouldn't pick up a random teenager to take her gambling.  They gave me a wrist band to show that I was 21.

Well, this time, I asked Gramps if he was "teaching me bad habits again," and he said, "No, you have enough of your own bad habits now."  Thanks, Grampy!  Then we went into the casino, and I was not carded once.  So I am obviously getting both more wicked and more's amazing what five years can do to a person.

Friday afternoon, my dad picked me up from the Oldsters' house, and we went out to dinner and pigged out on Mexican food.  The next day, we went to the King Tut exhibit and the Cherry Creek Arts Festival...then we headed back to the grandparents for a Thanksgiving feast.

Yes, my grandma cooked a full-on turkey dinner in my honor.  She said that she was "so thankful" that I had come home to visit that she couldn't resist!  (I really think it was because she had a turkey in her freezer that needed to be used, but the other reason is much more flattering.)

 I love Thanksgiving dinner, and I love my Gram.

Dad and I went to church on the morning of the 4th of July, then went to some friends' for steak and potatoes, and ended the day with, you guessed it, my grandparents!

I made Grammy wear my necklace, so she would be red, white, and blue.

Tonight, we hung out with the Oldies again and went mini-golfing:

Please notice how small my Gram is.  She is standing on a step, and she is still a head shorter than I am!

In the golf game, Grandpa killed us.  His two holes-in-one certainly helped his cause.  I did okay, until my ball ended up in a bush:

Do you see the orange ball in there?
It was downhill from there.

Tomorrow morning, I am headed to Utah for a reunion with some of my college roommates.  We are going to stay up late talking and eating treats, just like old times.  We are even going to make t-shirts, and I've heard mention of a burying a time capsule in the lot beside our old apartment complex in the middle of the night???

If my grandparents bring out the maturity in me, my college roommates bring out the immaturity.  I can't wait...