Don’t say this . . . please

A long time ago I wrote a blog entry about the things you shouldn’t say to a family in the process of adopting. One of those things was, “Once you start the adoption, you’ll get pregnant.” That was said to me by many, many people, and it made my blood boil every time. The act of a sperm and egg uniting to create what will, in 9 months, be a breathing, crying, squirming human HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH a legal proceeding to adopt a child. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Now I’m pregnant. I’m getting the same comment with a different spin on it. I keep hearing this, “This happens so often. A couple adopts and then all of a sudden they are pregnant. It’s so common.”


I know of exactly one couple who had this experience. They struggled for years with infertility and just before they were to board a plane to meet their child, they found out they were pregnant. One family. I know a lot of people who’ve adopted, a lot of people who’ve had children with whom they share biology, and a lot of people who’ve contemplated adoption and ultimately had biological children. One family.


When I tell people that the two things have no relationship, the answer is often something like this: “When you give up on the idea of having a biological child, the stress is gone and then your body is ready to have that baby.”

Ask any parent who has gone through an adoption whether the experience has been stressful. The answer will be, unequivocally, yes. You have tons of paperwork to file, background checks to complete, passports and visas to obtain, and approvals to receive. Your house is examined. Your background is examined. Your house is examined. You have to figure out where you are going to find $25,000 – $50,000 dollars. You have to realize that you are going to be doing the hurry-up-and-wait game over and over for at least 18 months, if not a few years. It’s definitely no walk in the park. It’s not easy. It’s not fun. Sex is fun. The waiting between the sex and the pregnancy test isn’t, but seriously, trying to compare the stress of the two ways to build your family really isn’t fair. (Obviously I’m not talking about IVF here; just  your “standard” reproduction.)

I guess people assume that we just decided to adopt again and poof! this baby happened. That’s not true. I pretty much gave up on the idea that my body was capable of producing a child 5 years ago, not in the fall of 2015. (More about this in an upcoming blog.) I was super stressed about the idea of coming up with money for a second adoption, and about how long it would take. So this idea that because we decided to adopt, we got pregnant, is nonsense.

The bottom line here is this: if you know of someone who is contemplating adoption, find something else to say to them other than “If you just decide to adopt, you’ll get pregnant.” And if you know of a pregnant women (or soon-to-be-dad) who contemplated adoption or adopted a child, don’t say anything like, “See? You just needed to adopt a kid so you could have a baby.” Either way, it’s not a welcome sentiment. Simply encourage or congratulate the couple and then move on to a topic like how ridiculous Donald Trump’s hair is.


The weekend

I have no idea if I’ve ever done a weekend wrap-up, and I certainly don’t intend to make them a habit, but I wanted to share a few highlights with you.

The weekend got off to a great start when there was a knock on the door late on Friday. After I got the dog to relax, I went to the door and saw a package waiting for me. It was my long-awaited, much-anticipated Vitamix!

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I have it sitting on the counter but haven’t been able to use it yet. I’m super excited, though. I think I’ll be making a smoothie tomorrow!

Later that night we actually sent Little Dude to a friend’s house and went out for dinner. We rarely do this, but are trying to find a way to make it a monthly thing, especially before the baby comes. Some friends recently went to the soft opening of a new local restaurant, Vrai, and upon googling it, I found that they had vegan options. Not only did they have items that were easily modified to be vegan, but they had 3 vegan-gluten-ree options. Three! At one restaurant! Around here, that just doesn’t happen. They also had several vegan desserts . . . in fact, most were vegan and only one ice cream had dairy. I felt like it had to be in some sort of bizarro world.

Vrai was great. The atmosphere was great, and it was packed. I recognized a few people, and realized that a lot of locals were there. We were some of the few imports from across the river. The food was amazing . . . so amazing that I just ate it and really didn’t think about taking photos. I did snap one of my entree though. We split an order of brussels sprouts with crushed hazelnuts. It sounded weird but it was delicious. It came with some sort of lemon cream but we got that on the side so S could have it while I skipped it. My entree was a quinoa cake with an avocado cream, tomato jelly and a tangy cole slaw. It was super delicious, but I took a really bad picture. Sorry – I really wanted to eat it.


S got a shrimp fettucine with a poached egg that he said was fantastic. The great meal was capped off with a ridiculously yummy vegan-gluten-free blondie with a side of sorbet. (It was supposed to be house made chocolate salted caramel but, sigh, they ran out.) The service overall was fine, but a little slow. And they overbooked their reservations, so people were waiting. But they’ve only been open for a little less than 4 weeks so I’m sure that will improve. If you live in the Lemoyne, PA area, get yourself a reservation now.

I got to squeeze in a great 7 mile run on the Appalachian Trail on Saturday morning. Unfortunately it still required gloves and a headband, but it was a nice morning so that was okay. I got in another 4 miles on Sunday on “my mountain” and it was a little better; I was in shorts, long sleeves, no gloves and no headband. Spring is coming.

We (Tree 4 Hope) held our first annual Zumbathon at our local Gold’s Gym on Saturday afternoon. I do not Zumba, but I helped at the event. It was great; we raised over $800 and everyone had a lot of fun. All of the money raised will go towards building Hope Academy. If you’ve missed out on what Hope Academy is, click here and learn how you can help.

I discovered a wonderful song a few weeks ago and ended up pairing with a guitarist at church to sing it at both Sunday services this week. I am not sharing the file of our rendition, but I just have to share the original. It’s just so good. We weren’t nearly this good, but we did our best.

So that was the weekend in a nutshell. I did a ton of other stuff, but most of it’s boring. And the busy weekend left this baby incubator exhausted, but it’s all good.



An update . . . and baby news!

Little Dude is enjoying some quiet time, so I thought I’d quickly crank out a blog. Well, HE’S not enjoying the quiet time, but I am. Life has changed since my last blog, so here are some updates.

My husband’s virtual reality business is really doing well, and they have a major event coming up in 2 weeks. They are working with some big names in the entertainment industry, so hopefully the exposure will yield additional work for them in the future.

Little Dude and I started homeschooling. We had been doing little bits of stuff here and there, but now we’re doing it 3-4 days per week. It’s going pretty well. He gets frustrated with reading, so I don’t push it. He does like activities that build the foundations for reading, so we’re sticking with those. He likes math, though, so we’re working on addition. He gets frustrated at times, but he’s usually pretty proud of himself, so overall it’s looking good. We also look into 2 animals per week, using coloring pages, videos online, a set of animal cards my mom got me when I was his age, and Wild Kratts! He loves Wild Kratts and can spit out lots of animal facts I don’t even know! So far our homeschooling experience has been fun. I’m not putting any pressure on either one of us since he just turned 5 four weeks ago. He’s not even eligible for kindergarten until September, so this is all just for fun. When he seems like he has enough, we quit.

Our dog, Spiro, is a mess, as always. His allergies are never under control. He put on 20 pounds in 4 months due to a newly discovered thyroid problem. He’s now on weekly allergy injections, two daily allergy pills, daily joint medication for arthritis and twice daily thyroid pills. I’m anxious for spring to come so I can get him out for longer daily walks again. He really needs them!

So now for the big news. My Facebook friends already know this, but I’m pregnant! I’m 13 weeks and am due on 9/8/16. If you’ve read this blog for years, you know that we struggled with infertility. We adopted our son in late December 2011. We had really given up on the idea of ever getting pregnant some time ago, and were focused on doing another adoption. After talking about it for some time, and getting Little Dude’s input, we decided to start another one. Around the same time, I started feeling funny. On a run (of course) I mentioned how I was feeling to my running partner, who is a PA. She simply mentioned that I might be experiencing a hormone change. She was ever-so-gently suggesting I could be pregnant without coming close to saying those words. I took a test the next morning. No one was more shocked than I was to see those pink lines. I’ve taken many, many tests over the years, first for A Conception Story (the TLC web series we did) and then randomly over the years. (I took them randomly because for so long I didn’t have a monthly cycle so there was no way for me to know if I was “late” or not.) I never even had to question whether I saw a line. Those tests were always glaringly negative. This one was positive in about 3.2 seconds. I was shocked.

So far, everything looks good. I’m waiting on some blood work that will let us know if the baby has some possible issues, but for now things look okay. I’m anxious to get through  my first trimester so I can (hopefully) feel better. I’ve been exhausted and battling nausea. Just when I’m feeling better for a few days, those symptoms come back. But it’s all good.

So that’s what is new with us. I hope you are all well!



A holiday recap

I know it’s way late for this, but I was cleaning out the pictures on my phone AND I have some quiet time in the house, so I thought I’d do a quick post about the holidays. Rather than talk about family gatherings, presents received, parties, etc, I’m going to share some of the Advent activities we did. We have a cheap Advent calendar that I got at Target about 3 years ago, and I take ugly slips of scrap paper and write stuff on it. I will NOT get pinned on Pinterest with this setup, but my kid LOVES it and it takes very little time to put together. I’m not one for making complicated stuff. Pinterest crafts usually leave me with a sliced appendage or drunk. Or both. Screw you, Pinterest.

I digress.

I didn’t track all of our activities, but I’ll share most of them. Some days we took little trips, other days it was crafts, and on others we did little service projects. Everything is age appropriate for my little guy and, most of all, cheap.

Playdate with Hawkin, Signe & Malayna: One of my dearest friends moved to Minnesota (where she’s from) 3 years ago. Whenever she comes back East we meet up at a McDonald’s halfway between her in-laws and where we live. This McD’s has a Playplace. Despite my hatred for that chain, we spend 3 hours there, drinking bad coffee and catching up while our kids play.

Crayola Factory: Ordinarily this is a pretty expensive trip but my friend found a homeschool rate that was half the normal rate. We were in! We packed into her giant vehicle and drove our combined 4 kids up there for the day. The kids had a blast, but the craziest thing was that we ran into the manager of a hotel we stay at in Guatemala! He and his family were visiting folks in the NYC area and stopped in at the Crayola Factory upon recommendation from a friend. What a small world!


Visit the “Crazy Christmas House”: This guy goes NUTS at Christmas. It starts on Black Friday and goes until NYE. His electric bill must be ENORMOUS. He even has a Santa and hot chocolate one Saturday in December, free to the public. He refuses all donations. It’s amazing, and way more impressive in person. Just so you get a sense of the size of that Rudolph, my husband is standing there looking at it, and he is 6′ tall. True story.

Hayride Nativity: We stumbled upon a cool living nativity. I had never been to one before. This one was done via hayride. It was very cool. The only downside was that the weather was very nice so the lines were crazy long. But we made the most of it and had a good time. We had to turn in our census form to the Roman soldiers, which was a cute way to track how many people attended!

Hike the “red trail”: There is a great trail system on the mountain behind our house. This fall we took Little Dude on most of it during various beautiful weekends. He kept asking about the red trail. It’s the toughest one of the bunch, and you need to take other trails to get to it, making it a longer hike than most. We told him that it would be at least a 3 mile hike, and not an easy one. He said he was ready. We packed a PBJ for him and he sat and at it at the top of the mountain. He needed a piggyback ride for the last quarter mile, but otherwise did great.

Make a faux gingerbread house: Let’s face it, few people really have patience for these things. We certainly don’t. Instead, we used graham crackers and an icing recipe that was a bitch to work with. I share with you: section 8 g’bread housing.


Glitter Tree: A 4 year old boy + glitter. Imagine the mess. The tree turned out great though. And it looks way better in person.


Pasta snowflake: I wish I would have taken a picture of this, but it’s already packed. I was surprised by now nice a few pieces of dried pasta glued together and painted with silver metallic paint could look.

Bake & deliver cookies to Hospice: We deliver these every year to the Hospice house down the road where my mom spent her final days.


Make a water jug snowman: This was so easy even we could do it. It looks adorable outside.


Watch Polar Express with hot chocolate: I hate this movie but he loves it. And who can resist Ghirardelli peppermint hot chocolate? Come on.

Take treats to the Humane Society: We had to remember our furry friends!


Run with mommy’s friends and “the running Santa”: We do a winter solstice run each year. We run about 3-4 miles and then grab a beer at a local restaurant. Last year Little Dude noticed that the one running friend looked like Santa. Santa-Russ played along. He did so again this year, and even brought a present. So sweet! (About 3 months ago, LD looked at me and said, “Remember when we ran with Santa? And then he drank beer? I didn’t know he could do that!” I didn’t tell him this, but my hypothesis is that Santa has to drink beer to deal with those elves.)

If you have little ones at home, and you celebrate Christmas, consider doing Advent activities next year. We’ve done everything from make a Christmas tree out of a toilet paper roll and a piece of construction paper to have a family camp-out in front of the Christmas tree. You can do this on the cheap, for sure. It’s all about doing things together!

I just don’t know what to say . .

Two folks shoot up a holiday party and kill 14 people. They leave those families in mourning. They leave children without parents. And they somehow decided to leave their own 6 month old baby without parents. Perhaps it’s better for that child to be orphaned than to live with such awful parents, but . . . my God . . . imagine what that child has to live with. Knowing what their “parents” did.

In Ohio, little Kinsley Kinner was beaten to death by her “mother’s” boyfriend. The mother knew what was happening and did nothing. Her father is now left with a huge hole in his heart, and a beautiful 2 year old is gone from this earth.

In Pennsylvania, nine year old Jarrod Tutko weight 17 pounds when he died. NINE YEARS OLD. He was born sick, and his “parents” neglected and abused him for years. He died a horrible, long, painful death. He did nothing to deserve such a life and death.

There are so many stories of terrible parents that I can’t even begin to comprehend them. These stories bring tears to my eyes every time. They break my heart.

Being a parent is not a right. It’s a privilege. It’s hard. It’s wonderful. It’s gross. It’s amazing. There are way too many unfit people who are procreating. And there are too many people like me and my husband who can’t. It’s tragically unfair. Good, upstanding people like us are left to spend tens of thousands of dollars (which are not easy to earn these days) to hopefully-maybe bring a child into our family, while these “parents” reproduce like rabbits and ruin (and at times, take) their kids’ lives.

I can’t even process all of this. I get choked up and can’t talk about it. I can’t even finish this blog entry because I don’t know how. Hug your babies, even if they aren’t babies anymore. And if you don’t want your baby, seek help. There are people who would love to love them for you if you can’t or won’t.