Archive for March, 2007

Several weeks = several days for Angie

Thursday, March 15th, 2007


Angelina is bringing home her 3rd adopted child this weekend.  A lot of people in the adoption community are angry that she appears to have completed this adoption in record time.  Early this week, Vietnam said the adoption would be completed in several weeks but that quickly turned into several days.

You know what?  Good for her. We all know money makes the world go round so why would we think it was any different in adoption?  Rumor has it she is donating a couple of million dollars to an orphanage there in return for the adoption being expedited.  Basically, the child she is adopting benefits and a whole lot of children benefit in the orphanage receiving the money so I can’t work up any great outrage over it.  I wish them well.

Gas keeping you up at night?

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

I’m tired this morning.  Apparently around 2:30am a gas leak developed right outside our bedroom window.  Two feet to the left and I wouldn’t have been able to get out of my driveway to go to work today (phew…dodged a bullet there).  Between the hours of 2:30 and 7am, the gas company dug a 4 foot by 4 foot hole in our street.  Did I mention that this took place right outside of our bedroom window?  And are you aware that it isn’t a quiet process to dig up a street? I figure this is good prep for the morning birthday fireworks and loud chickenbuses in Antigua.  I actually managed to sleep through a good bit of it – poor Steve did not. 

I appreciate all of the comments on my aquaphobia.  Maybe I am foolish, but I really prefer not to take antibiotics as a preventative (yes, you can say “I told you so” when I inform you I am too sick to blog from Guatemala).  Kelly mentioned something OTC that I could take and I might try that. 

I have a couple of housing options I’m contemplating. Just having some choices has lowered my anxiety level a bit. 

This mommy-in-less-than-a-month thing is starting to feel more real.  I came home to find the baby monitor I ordered waiting for me last night – as well as the No Cry Sleep Solution book so that I can help Sabrina develop some better sleep habits without making her (and me!) cry it out.  Hopefully she and I can negotiate the issue without help of a book but I’m not betting on it so I’m taking it down with me.

I’m trying to decide how many pounds of peanut M&Ms might be required for my new adventure.  I’m thinking of a number between 1 and 10…anyone care to guess?  Any other food items you all suggest that I take down?  Something you wish you had taken and can’t find there?  (Carla, I can go several months without beef jerky so I can probably leave that off the list.)

I’m getting excited!

Water worries

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

I only have to drag my ass out of bed 12 more times to come here. That is starting to sound good. 

The panic has receded for the most part.  I am now looking forward to my time in Antigua (remind me of this when I whine).  I will miss Steve more than I can say but the trade off is my daughter will be in my arms forever in 1 month.  We all talk about how much easier this would be if we had an idea of when – it is true.  Now that I know when I’ll have her with me the anxiety has gone.  I’m just excited to know that in 1 month I will have her with me and never have to hand her back. 

My lists are out of control.  I have pieces of paper scattered everywhere – desk, purse, dining room table.  I’m making lists of things I need to pack, things I need to buy, things I need to take care of, and things I need to do before I go.  I have to get housing settled so that I can buy plane tickets.  And I continue to have so many questions.  Since I don’t know when I am coming home, do I buy a one way ticket and buy another one way when I am ready to come home?
Do most debit mastercards work in the ATMS in Antigua? And if I decide to bring cash, will the banks exchange it without hassle or do they also prescribe to the no wrinkled bills philosophy?

Do ALL landlords let you write a personal American check for your rent and/or electric bill?  (This seems bizarre to me considering the cavity search I have to submit to to write a check in my hometown these days.)
Someone said you can wash dishes in the water as long as it is hot and soapy and I dry them immediately.  What if I put a little big of bleach in the rinse water?  Would this kill whatever lives in the water?  Can you buy bleach in Antigua?

What about washing my hands?  They say the little water critters live on things, wet or dry.  If I wash my hands and then put them in my mouth, am I doomed?  If I brought a big bottle of hand sanitizer, would that be better than soap and water?

Am I being too paranoid about the whole water issue?

As you can tell, my biggest fear at this point is getting sick.  Caring for Sabrina while sick would suck but being sick in a foreign country while being a single mom would really suck.


Monday, March 12th, 2007

Sorry, no real post today.  I was out of town all day for a meeting so I’ll just leave you with some cuteness:


Also, I’ll let you know that I’m apparently losing my mind.  One day last week, Steve found a box of cereal and a photo of a friend’s baby in the frig.  Sigh…I’m not even blaming that one on blondness – that’s pure adoption/fostering brain.


Sunday, March 11th, 2007

Last night’s shoe purchase soothed my adult-onset OCD. Because I am so overwhelmed with all of the things I need to do in order to get myself down to Guatemala to foster, I’ve been getting stuck on details. Most recently the shoes and giving notice at work. I can now check both of those off my lists.

Yes, that is right, I gave my 3 week notice at work on Friday – hence the title of this post. I had been trying to resign since Wednesday morning but kept chickening out. Quitting my job makes it all very real and very final. It scares me to walk away from my income source but I also feel guilty leaving. My boss is so over worked already that I know she doesn’t have time to replace me or absorb my duties. And my project isn’t done…although it is nearer to complete than I would have guessed if asked 3 months ago. It’s funny that I always thought if I could get to this level, I would be able to make a difference. By getting to this level, I’ve simply discovered that the egos are bigger, the need to protect territory is more ingrained, and the memory of why we are all here (to help kids and families) has faded. I did manage to finally get a salary that most college students who didn’t major in psychology might expect upon graduation – woohoo! (By the way – friends don’t let friends major in Psychology.) Yes, I am in a position to effect change system wide rather than just helping one child at a time but the people around me throw up so many obstacles and the system itself is so large and dysfunctional it becomes almost impossible to change anything. Because I don’t like what I am doing now, my identity isn’t wrapped up in my job like it always has been in the past but I still don’t know how to not work. I’ve never not worked. I worked 1 full time and 2 part time jobs for the first 4 years after college while working on my masters degree in my spare time. When I finally eased back to only one job and wasn’t going to grad school anymore it felt positively sinful. Since hitting my 30’s and marrying Steve, my priorities have shifted and the importance of my job has dropped but to not have a job at all is frightening to me. And the fact that my job isn’t that important is a major shift in my identity. It was never about my “career” – it was always about the people that I was helping. I love being a social worker (man I sound like a pollyanna). I loved doing therapy with battered women and kids and addicts. I loved helping parents be better parents. I loved really connecting with adolescents who thought no adult could possibly understand them. I loved helping a broken and defeated woman find her strength and power again. Now I am trying to frame my new job (stay at home mom) in those terms. I’m trying to think of all of the amazing things I will doing to help one child, my child, grow into a happy and confident woman. And instead of pennies, I’ll be paid in giggles and sloppy kisses and sticky hands and crayon drawings decorating my frig and discovering the world through the awe of a child’s eyes. I’m still scared to have quit my job but the terms of the new one seem pretty cool.

Not so Keen

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

A lot of people in my agency swear by their Keens in Antigua.  They say they are the best for making their way around the rough cobblestone streets.  I’ve been looking at some Keens online but really have trouble with the cost of them without trying them on.  I looked around online and kept coming back to a couple of pairs of Skechers that were less expensive and better looking in my opinion – but again hated to buy them without trying them on.  I dragged Steve out to some sporting goods stores tonight but we couldn’t find any Keens or any other sports sandals until the last place we tried.  I found my first pair of Antigua shoes.

dsc01645.JPG Comfy and not bad looking.  Really comfortable actually.  And I think I found my second pair of Antigua shoes too but they didn’t have the color I wanted so I found them on line and will probably order them.  I also ordered a couple of items of clothing for myself since I don’t seem to have much in the way of appropriate summer type clothing.  For summer I seem to have 2 types of clothes – work and slob.  I figured something in between would make me look like less of an ugly American when I leave the casa.
We told my inlaws today that I am going down to foster.  At first I think my mother in law thought I had lost my mind.  But after we talked about it a little more she seemed very supportive.  My mom is offering to come down after Steve leaves to help me with the transition of becoming a full time momma. My best friend is frantically going through her baby items since she was robbed of the chance to throw me a shower she insists on giving me some clothes and things to use.  That will be a help.  And I realized that Steve and I need to go and at least pick out a crib, dresser, car seat, high chair, and rocking chair or I am going to have totally leave it to him to pick out the nursery items that we will need to have in place when we come home.  I want to help pick the things out so we will be doing some nursery shopping before I leave.  So much to do and think about before I leave – I need to go make some more lists!

Calling all Secret Blog Pals!

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

I will send out matches sometime soon but I’m not convinced everyone is in who wants to be in. So let me send out another call for you to sign up if you want to participate. Send me a completed questionaire to You can find the questionaire here.

I had a good chuckle this morning.  On, there was a thread “You might be adopting from Guatemala if…” (it’s quite funny, go check it out) and people were filling in things.  And someone included in her list “You know who Michelle Smiles is.”  Ha! I’m famous!

O’ The Times They Are A-Changin’

Friday, March 9th, 2007

I had trouble falling asleep last night.  I couldn’t get my brain to stop spinning.  Too many things up in the air right now.  I’m quitting my job and moving to Guatemala.  Housing options seem to be quite limited right now in Antigua.  Sig is looking into something that a group of us could share but if that doesn’t pan out, I’m not sure where I’ll end up.  Logistics aside, I’m about to take permanent custody of our daughter and become a SAHM – major life style change.  Steve is job hunting due to some uncertainty about the stability of the company he is with.  There isn’t much happening in his field in our city so we are looking at a potential big move to another state.  In other words, I may come home and not live here anymore.   All of these changes have the potential to be exciting but with them happening all at once and me having so little control over any of them, I found myself tossing and turning.

Terror is being replaced by lists

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

First let me say YES YES YES I will be taking my laptop and continuing to blog.  I can’t promise it won’t be boring but I will post at least a couple of photos each day.  I wouldn’t leave you all hanging like that!  And someone commented that there is a bagel shop in Antigua – hallelujah!  I love a good bagel with a cup of coffee in the morning (especially since I can’t have a cigarette with the coffee anymore).   

This morning I am starting to feel some excitement instead of just terror.  Of course that could have something to do with the thought of waking up to blue skies and warm sunshine instead of 15 degrees and snow on the ground.  Or it could have to do with my coming into work early to attend a meeting at my boss’s request only to find that the meeting was moved to 1pm.  Or it could have to do with waking up every morning to the face of my beautiful little girl.  The thought that in a month I will be picking up our daughter and never handing her back to a stranger fills my heart with joy (and a little additional terror knowing this is it – I’m a mommy hehe). 

Last night after my consignment sale success, I did some online shoe shopping.  My agency director and now many agency clients swear by a particular sports sandal as being a life saver on the cobblestones.  I have issues spending $100 on an ugly ass pair of shoes (a pair of killer boots would be another story entirely) especially when I can’t try them on first so I’ve been thinking about some less expensive options that offer the same features. I would really like to try them on but it is hard to find sports sandals at this time of year in this area of the country.  I figured this weekend I would try some of the big sporting goods stores in hopes of find some in stock that I can try on.  So in lieu of buying shoes, I followed the sage advice of some other moms and ordered an inflatable tub for Sabrina, an inexpensive baby monitor, and The No Cry Sleep Solution book to take with me.  I’m hoping that the book means neither of us will be reduced to tears at bedtime.

I’ve been making lists. I’ve mentioned my proclivity for list making in the past and moving to a foreign country apparently requires the list to end all lists.  I’m going to start making lists of my lists soon.  My latest list is a list of questions. 

Do I need to take sheets and blankets?  Or does that depend on where I live? Oh God, where am I going to live?
Should I take my own towels?  Someone said the apartments often have towels but they suck.
Kitchens are stocked decently?  Should I bring some sharp knives?  I can’t imagine trying to cut up pineapple with a dull knife.
I love to cook – should I bring some spices or can I buy what I need/want there?
Is the frig/freezer a normal size?  Are there ice cube trays or can I buy some somewhere?
Can I buy a bouncy seat and pack n play there?  Will it cost me a kidney to do so?
Are dairy products safe to drink/eat?  I need milk in my coffee and ice cream.
Is all of the food okay as long as you are aware of fruit/veggies needing washed or peeled?
Where do you do laundry?  Are there Laundromats?  I can’t imagine lugging Sabrina and laundry through town.
Any ATM or credit card problems? 
Are there normal stores where I can buy odd things?  Say I want a pitcher to make iced tea – is there some where to buy something normal like that? 
How hot does it get?  With no a/c am I going to be really uncomfortable if I am still there in June or July?
How rainy is the rainy season?  Does it just rain for a few hours a day or does it rain for days on end?
What if one of us gets sick?  Sabrina’s doctor is in Guatemala City.  Are there English speaking (and maybe US trained) doctors in Antigua in an emergency?

That is just a sampling of my questions list.  You should see the full version.  There is just so much to think about!

I love a bargain

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

Thanks for all of the support about fostering.  I’m still terrified but slowly getting a little excited too.  Now I just need to find somewhere to live!  But these things will work themselves out.

I dragged Steve way across town tonight to go to a consignment sale.  A mom has started a twice annual consignment sale so that moms can keep the majority of the proceeds rather than getting next to nothing from a traditional consignment shop.  I heard about it and had to go.  I realized I have no clothing for my poor child because I’ve given it all to her foster mom.  We found some great things:

dsc01638.JPG An activity table, couple of books and a pop up toy.

dsc01639.JPG And some cute outfits – most were $2 – 4.

I also picked up a baby bjorn.  Sabrina wasn’t as crazy about her sling on my last visit so I wanted to try another kind of carrier without spending big bucks – I was very excited to find one there! There were other things I would have loved to have picked up but they were either too big to take with me or had a limited window of use and I don’t know when we will be home so I had to pass.  Thankfully we found enough bargains that Steve agreed it was worth the drive.

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