Archive for December, 2006

Memo to the Head IT Dork

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

Dear Electronic Knight**:

Yes, we all think you are way cool for naming all of the printers in the building after Star Trek ships but could you possible direct your IT Dork Minions to take their heads out of their butts and fix my computer?  I have told them exactly what the problem is and they continue to ignore me.  Instead they suggest I re-boot (yes, that is the first thing I tried) and they install more memory (great but that’s not what is wrong – that’s like changing the oil in a car because it is out of gas).  Why must you all believe that what you do is so magical and complex that no mere non-dorky mortal could possibly comprehend?  Your big words and acronyms don’t scare me (your choice of shoes with those pants do strike a little fear though) – I’m married to one of you and he interprets for me.  Please just fix my computer!  I’ll be over there eating Christmas cookies until you decide to help a girl out.

Sincerely,
The Chick who can’t get anything done at work because it take 3 full minutes to open a new window to write email or save a document

** Sadly, not making this up.  He calls himself the Electronic Knight and has a flash knight on a white stallion in his signature at work.

Smile with a little help from my friends

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

I went back to work today. It was a long day. I would be doing fine – just catching up on email and voicemail from my absence (between Guatemala, conferences, and my dad, I’ve only been in the office 1 day this month). Then someone would stop by to say they were sorry about my dad. When I am struggling to deal with something, I am usually okay until someone offers my sympathy – that tends to be when I break down. So I would start to tear up and we would all pretend I wasn’t. I basically hid in my cubicle all day. Then I noticed when I left work it was dark already – that always puts me in a foul mood. Thankfully it starts getting better after tomorrow. I drove to the UPS store to mail a package to my mom and waited in line for 35 minutes. The UPS store clerks all hate me because we’ve used them for notary services and I’m always making them sign things 3 times before I’ll accept them. I drove home feeling down. But as I walked up on the porch what did I find?

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A huge thank you to some of my agency friends: Angie, Michelle, Sig, Julie, Vicki, Tricia, Lisa, Kendra and Kelly. It really brightened my day (and my mood). Who knew the internet would provide me with such a wonderful support system? You ladies are awesome!

More smiles

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

When we started the secret blog pals, I offered to post messages of thanks from anyone who doesn’t have a blog.  I received this from Julie P.:

I received a wonderful care package from my secret
blog pal this weekend and was hoping that one of you
with a blog (yes I am lame and have no blog) would
please post a couple of pictures for me.
My SBP created a scrapbook / baby book for me!!! It is
so adorable, and I got a great sleeper outfit. The
outfit was super appropriate for this weekend as it
has cookies and cakes all over it - and I baked 6
kinds of cookies this weekend - cookies cookies
cookies.
And my SBP said she would LOVE to see a picture of my
referral as she is still waiting for hers. My referral
wait was 10 very very long weeks. Alejandra (Ally) was
born on November 16, 2006 and we accepted her referral
on Monday December 4. We entered FC on Friday 12/15
and are hoping for DNA authorization this week - but
we all know how long the lines are at the embassy
right now. But I am hopeful. So attached is one of my
referral pics.
Thank-you again SBP who ever you are!!!

Julie P

Here are her photos:

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Congrats on your referral Julie – she’s beautiful!   I’ve seen some other posts about secret blog pal gifts so I hope everyone is enjoying it!

Smiles

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

Okay, the name of this blog is Michelle Smiles…so let’s get back to something less depressing.

First, during the day I was going to plan my father’s funeral, I stopped at the mailbox before leaving town. And what did I find? Some love from my secret blog pal! A darling bib that says I Love Mommy in Spanish and some darling pooh socks. Thank you secret blog pal! (Sadly, I did the matches and I have no memory of who my pal is…it was right before I left for Guatemala and I was shedding brain cells. Yes, I could go look, but where is the fun in that? So, I like everyone else am in the dark about who my pal is – there are advantages to being blonde!)

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Also shortly after my return from Guatemala, I received a package from Sig. I was giddy and guilty when I opened it. She and Vicki took a day trip to Antigua before they departed Guatemala. She purchased a couple of lovely Guatemalan dresses and I was ooohhing and aahhhing over them. I joked that I should have made her my blog pal so she could send me one of the dresses. And what did I get in the mail? One of the dresses:

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Thanks Sig! It’s beautiful. I plan to have her 1 year photos taken in it.

As for my secret blog pal, I finally have the box packed up and will take it to the post office tomorrow. So, if you haven’t received anything from your pal yet, it might be me and you might be getting a package shortly before the new year!

Thank you

Monday, December 18th, 2006

I’m back from hiatus.  I want to express my gratitude to both blogworld and real world friends.  I’ve been so touched by everyone’s support.  I’ve had 68 wonderful comments, many private email, a card from a blogger friend, friends and my boss drove from the city to my home town to attend the visiting hours yesterday (that’s almost 2 hours), old friends from home who made it to the funeral today, flowers, and a collection taken up by my co-workers accompanied by a wonderful card.  I’m amazed by the outpouring of love and support.  Nothing makes it better but it all helps.

The past 5 days have been horrible and wonderful.  My father was a magistrate and was so excited about the court house that was just completed in his town.  He talked of little else for months and traveled around to see the state of the art features they might include.  Before we had lunch last Tuesday, he gave me a tour and proudly showed me all of the features.  There was little he loved more than being a judge and lawyer.  He always said his worst day practicing law was better than the best day doing anything else.  Friday was the scheduled community open house for the new court house and rather than cancel it, they also made it a memorial service for dad.  It was very touching – they presented my step-mother with a photo of him presiding over the first trial in the new court room.  It was a nice tribute to him and gave me an opportunity to see many old friends from the legal community.  Sunday was visiting hours and this morning was the funeral.  We talked with many old friends and heard many fun stories about Dad in his glory days – so we had laughter mixed with our tears.

Now that the details and rituals are over, we all have to work to get back to the business of living without him in our lives.  That’s the rough part.  As much as I hate visiting hours and funerals, I think those things give us something to focus on so we can forget the reality of living our daily lives without that person there for just a little while.  I worry about my stepmom now that everyone is leaving…facing the 2 coffee cups set out by the coffee maker, the slippers by the recliner, the shaving kit in the bathroom, the empty side of the bed.  Those things are harder than any of the rituals we just observed.   I still grieve the fact that Sabrina will never know her grandpa and that Dad never got to hold her or see his baby girl with her baby girl.   I know he read my blog so he saw the photos…that is a small comfort.

One piece of good news: we finally entered Family Court on Friday.

In loving memory

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

of my brillant, stubborn, hard working, hard playing, open minded, smart assed dad. He passed away suddenly last night.

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I hate that he never got to meet his beautiful granddaughter.  I am thankful I had lunch with him on Tuesday.
I know they say God won’t give you more than you can handle but I’m thinking God is seriously overestimating my strength right now.

I’m signing off for a couple of days.

The Rest of the Story

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

I feel like Paul Harvey with The Rest Of The Story.

One thing that made our trip even more special was meeting some of my online friends in person. Sig, Vicki, and Angie were even more wonderful in person than on line. We had a great time having meals together and chatting. And it was great to meet Priscilla in person even if we didn’t get to hang out in Guatemala together. This process has brought some amazing people into my life and I was happy to find they are even better in person.

I mentioned yesterday that I remember the moment that I fell in love with our daughter. Steve also knows the moment it happened for him. He got up with her that first morning around 5:30. He changed her diaper and gave her a bottle then walked her around the hall and the family room a bit to help her go back to sleep. He started telling her that daddy would always protect her and love her and take care of her. He came back to the room with tears on his face. He told me that he had just fallen in love with our daughter…which of course made me cry. Then he made Sig and Vicki cry when he repeated it that night.

We had so much fun learning about Sabrina as we spent time with her:

She always smiles after she sneezes.

She loves to “talk” back to us when we chatter to her.

For some reason, the orange giraffe on her bouncy seat cracks her up. The blue one is just okay.

She must always be in motion. No, you can not sit down and rock her, you slacker. You must be on your feet and walking while you bounce her.

She hates tummy time and will scream until it is over (unless she tries to cheat and falls asleep during it).

Baby poop resembles Stouffer’s Spinach Soufflé to such a disturbing degree that I may never eat it again.

She smiles with her whole face.

She is a total daddy’s girl already and wrapped daddy around her little finger in about 3.6 seconds.

She gets nervous during bath time if she thinks you might get water on her face.

She loves having her diaper changed.

She loves being in her sling.

When not in the sling, she prefers to be carried facing out and sitting up so she can see the world.

She didn’t mind too much when daddy would wake her up for his own entertainment. Except one night when we were having dinner with Angie and her husband, Steve. They were joking that they had never seen Sabrina awake so my Steve decided to get her up. She was so tired that she couldn’t even protest without falling asleep. We were all cracking up at her. Here is a video of some of it:

I was incredibly emotional the entire week. I cried with Sig when she had to give Abby back. I cried the morning of our last full day because I knew Monday was approaching. I cried when I talked with a woman at the breakfast buffet who had exited PGN in 2 ½ weeks and was there picking up her baby. Sunday night, I broke down into tears several times as I started to pack her things. Monday morning, I managed to hang onto my composure until breakfast was over. We waited in our room for 20 minutes before we got the call to bring her down. That was the longest and shortest 20 minutes in my life. I could barely speak on the phone. We took her downstairs and saw her foster mom. Her foster mom was so happy to see Sabrina – she started crying. Sabrina was thankfully oblivious to all of the tears around her. I was sobbing and trying to walk away but our agency rep insisted on a photo – quite the Kodak moment. They might as well have asked me to cut my beating heart out of my chest and hand it over – a dramatic picture but it felt that way at the time.

Steve and I escaped a short way down the hall and then stopped and cried together. We went back up to the room and Steve watched out the window for them to leave. He cried again as they drove away as I sobbed in the bathroom. When I came out, he said he had something for me. He bought me a gift to give to me after we had to give her back. I opened it and found a jade necklace from the gift shop. He said it was so I could take a little piece of Guatemala and Sabrina home with me.

We finished packing our things and then went down to wait for the shuttle. The return trip wasn’t remarkable in any way. I felt emotionally drained. I cried when we finally left Guatemalan soil, knowing my daughter was being left behind. The first morning back at home, I felt so empty when I woke up and there was no crib or cooing at the bottom of the bed.

The thing that I didn’t realize was how quickly I would become her mom and how quickly it would feel completely natural to be thinking of her, holding her, changing her, and the rest 24/7. I was only a mom (in actions) for 5 days but I suddenly don’t know how not to be one. My heart aches because something vital is missing in my life. I am restless because I should be caring for our daughter. Everything inside of me is different now but I came home to the exact same life I left 6 days ago. I actually feel rather disconnected from my life right now because it is so out of sync with my internal reality.

Another video of her smiling and talking to me.

Knowing how painful it is to leave, would I visit again? You bet your ass.

Start at the beginning

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

I’ve been trying to figure out how to capture the experience of our visit for our family, friends, curious bloggers who have not yet visited, and my own memory. I guess the best place to start is at the beginning.

I didn’t sleep at all the night before we left. I was too wound up and too afraid I would sleep through the alarm and we would miss our flight. I cat napped on the plane a little but every time I would fall asleep they would make an announcement about the damn seat belt sign (“Ladies and gentleman the captain has turned off the seat belt sign, please feel free to move about the cabin.”) and wake me up. I met Priscilla in the waiting area of the Atlanta airport. We chatted for a bit before boarding – so wonderful to meet on line friends in person! We were definitely in the minority in the Atlanta waiting area.

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On our flight from Atlanta to Guatemala we had the joy of sitting in a cramped, hot cabin for 2 hours at the gate before we took off so we were late arriving in Guatemala.

Priscilla and her husband joined Steve and me for the luggage free-for-all at the Guatemala airport. All baggage arrive – huge sigh of relief. We parted ways to find hotel shuttles. (Tip: if you want help with your bags, look for the guys who work for the airport in matching polo shirts with badges.) We managed to make our way through the hundreds of people outside the airport and find our shuttle.

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I was nervous because it was 4:30 at this point…last drop off for the babies is 3pm for my agency. I kept worrying that Sabrina’s foster mom took her home since we were late. As we were checking in, the deskman said someone was looking for us…it was our agency rep. Sabrina and her foster mom were waiting for us! We told her that we would dump our luggage in our room and be right back. The Westin is lovely:

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We entered the private room for the exchange and saw Sabrina. Her foster mom got up and put her in my arms. Our agency rep took photos – you may not have noticed that there have been no photos of me from the first day. That is because I hadn’t slept in 36 hours and looked beyond frightening. But I’ve noticed that while Sabrina looked fabulous throughout our trip, I consistently looked rather scary so I will lose all sense of pride and post one of the photos our agency rep took (they sent them to us via email).

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Yep, I was near sobbing – she looked up at me and I lost it. She is so beautiful! We got the info we needed from the foster mom (translated by agency rep) regarding her schedule. The foster mom very obviously loves Sabrina a great deal. She looked a little worried about leaving her with this sobbing and exhausted woman. She said she shows Sabrina our photo daily and tells her we are mama and papa. She also asked if we would allow her to pierce Sabrina’s ears as a gift to her. We had discussed this prior to our trip and Steve was against it. Once we were there looking at her, he would have agreed to anything so we said yes.

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We went up to our room and stared at her for awhile. Then we met Sig (and Abby), Sig’s mom (who is a hoot just like Sig), and Vicki (and Alina) from our agency for dinner. We ate in the Italian restaurant and had a lovely evening. Sabrina was in her sling and fell asleep. About an hour into dinner, I looked down at her sleeping and this wave of love and awe and protective instinct hit me hard. I started crying again and couldn’t stop. That was the moment I fell in love with our daughter. I can actually remember the exact moment it happened.

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After dinner, Steve and I worked together to figure out the bedtime routine that would put her to sleep for the night. We struggled with transferring a sleeping Sabrina to her crib without waking her. After 4 failed attempts and 45 minutes, we finally got it right. She slept through the night.

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Steve immediately fell into his role as daddy. What a natural! He changed all the diapers on day one, he walked her, he talked to her, he cuddled her, he put together her bouncy seat with a minimum number of curse words – he was amazing. Watching him with her added yet another dimension to my love for him.

We quickly fell into a routine. Sabrina slept through the night – every night (yes, we were that lucky). She would get up for a bottle between 6:30 and 7:30 (unless daddy got impatient and woke her up early). Then she would go back to sleep until 10 or 11am. While she was sleeping, we would put her in the sling or stroller and go to breakfast. (Yes, what everyone says is true – the breakfasts are wonderful. I was seriously missing my cafe con leche, black beans, and fruit this morning. We ate and drank everything, with ice, and had no troubles at all.) We would go back to the room to play for a little while. She loves her bouncy seat – especially the orange giraffe.

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We would sometimes go to the pool, sometimes to the family room.

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I was surprised that we didn’t spend more time in the family room. Steve was actually more social than I was. I wanted to focus completely on our time with her so outside of friends that I had planned to meet up with, I only chatted with a couple of other families. (If you were one I didn’t really get a chance to talk to – sorry! It wasn’t personal!)

Steve did tummy time with her every day. I hated seeing her cry (she hates tummy time) so he was the better choice. She made improvement in how far and how long she could lift her head just in the days we were there. I did try out the bumbo seat even though she is a little young for it.

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We also tried it in front of the Christmas tree in her Christmas onesie (a gift from Alleen just before we left – thanks Alleen!).

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Then she would eat again and nap through dinner most nights. After Sig and Vicki left, we ate dinner most nights with Angie and her family.

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Gabriella has fabulous hair like Sig’s Abby. Sabrina wants some styling tips since she doesn’t have the same volume:

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Angie and her husband took me out to a market across the street from our hotel. I bought a quilt to hang on Sabrina’s bedroom wall:

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We agreed to have Sabrina’s ears pierced so we bought her some tiny lavendar jade studs at the gift shop in the hotel. Daddy also bought mommy a matching lavendar jade ring. He spoils me. (He bought me another present but that is during the sad part of our tale when we returned her…that I will tell later.)

We basically just spent the week enjoying our new family.

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And quickly discovered we would do anything to earn these from Sabrina:

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More later.

Home

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

We have arrived home safe and sound.  I will gather my thoughts (and more photos) and write a little about our trip.  If you don’t hear from me today, I’m under the bed with chocolate and vodka…join me.

Leaving sucks

Monday, December 11th, 2006

We are in the airport in Guatemala City waiting for our flight home.  Just as I couldn’t capture the joy of the past 5 days in words, I’m having trouble expressing the sorrow of this morning.  Handing my daughter back to someone else – knowing someone else will experience those smiles – was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I will work at some coherent posts after we return home.  Thank you all for the wonderful comments and good thoughts during our trip.  I know each of you are keeping us in your thoughts on this difficult day too.  More when we are back in the US.


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