Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Christmas Moment

I have a confession to make. I don't actually love Christmas day, I always feel let down.

I love December. I love the lead-up to Christmas. The baking, the wrapping, the TV specials and Christmas movies (I think I could recite every word of both The Santa Clause and Elf), and of course, the decorations. Plugging my tree in was the first thing I did whenever I walked in the door. But Christmas day, I could most times do without.

Beyond the tree and the baking and Will Ferrell in tights, my favorite part is finding the perfect present for someone. I shop all year long. I have a spreadsheet to keep track of what I've purchased, but it's the spur-of-the-moment, didn't-expect-to-buy present that puts me in the holiday mood.

I was dating someone early in the fall, nothing serious. We decided to just be friends, and have honestly been better friends than we were at dating each other. When I saw something that I knew he would enjoy, I bought it. But because we're not dating anymore, because we've only known each other a few months, I wondered if he would think that it was too much, that I'm hoping for more, that he would get weirded out in a boy way.  And up until I actually handed it to him, wrapped in Charlie Brown Christmas paper, did I wonder if I should actually give it to him. But I did give it to him.

He said that his parents had sent him money for Hannukah, that he'd gotten some baked items from co-workers, but this was his only real gift, his only package to open this year. And honestly, it was nothing huge -- a tin of cookies (a variety of fabulously decorated cookies, I might add) and a book about Fenway's 100th anniversary. But I could see how touched he was, how genuinely happy he was.

And that's what I love about Christmas, that's the moment I wish for every year. He said he felt bad that he hadn't gotten me anything, and I told him that's not the point. I saw something that made me think of him, that I knew he would like, and I got it for him. That's what I do, that's what I love, that's who I am. And he got it, too.

It was my Christmas moment that I hadn't gotten on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. And I had actually been in a bah humbug mood on Christmas day, for lots of reasons but I think, without realizing it, it was because sometimes opening presents can be chaotic and I don't always get that moment I wish for. But this year, after a couple beers at the Bandwagon Pub, my Jewish friend gave me my Christmas moment.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Ellie's Quilt

Carrie is one of my "bonus" friends. I have bonus adoptive parent friends and bonus IF (infertility) friends. Carrie fits in the first group. We were mutually friended with another prospective adoptive parent (in Florida) through Facebook, and Carrie realized that in a world as small as ours, we lived only a half hour from each other.

We shared the same agency, the same dream for a child from Ethiopia, the same corner of New York state -- and the same frustrations over our agency and our potential children from Ethiopia. We met this summer at Panera and finally had someone to vent to, who understood exactly the place we were in.

After that -- was it a direct result of our counseling session with each other over the "You Pick 2" or was it the final push we both needed -- we both made changes. Carrie went with another agency and very quickly received a referral for a little girl from China, and I met with the woman who is now my attorney for domestic adoption.

Over one of our shopping trips, after receiving the referral, we found fabric for a quilt for Ellie. On a shopping trip with an IF friend, I found a few more fabrics to compliment what Carrie and I had bought. I finished the top of the quilt in time for Carrie's shower, and was able to bring it -- and take it away -- so she could see it.

On Christmas night -- Ellie's third birthday and last without her forever family -- I finished the quilt. A woman at work told me ladybugs are good luck in Chinese culture, so I was excited when I found some fabric that had both a lady bug and an owl (to go with theme of the quilt) so that I could make a patch for the back.

Carrie took the plunge and started a blog so you can see Ellie's sweet little face and read along as Carrie goes over (hopefully in January) to bring her home.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Years Resolutions

For physical health reasons, I am so glad to see the Christmas season be over. I have no willpower. I can admit that. We had treats at work from our vendors. I sampled every single one. Chocolate-covered potato chips, cookies, truffles, gummies, more cookies, more chocolate.

We had a never-ending dish of chocolate and m&m's outside of my office. I ate chocolate for breakfast every morning. Peppermint patties, miniature peanut butter cups, and my favorite, complete with rationalization -- Hershey Krackel because it's made with Rice Krispies so it's like breakfast.

And between having things to make, things to wrap, baking to finish, traveling to Richmond and DC for a weekend, I made it to the gym a total of four times in the month. For me, that's insane. I make my 4th visit in a week on Thursday night, sometimes Wednesday.

Christmas was Sunday, and Monday morning, I was at Wegmans bright and early with a huge shopping list of healthy things. I made my favorite Hungry Girl chicken pot-pie for lunches and put them in the freezer. I pulled out my WW book and started tracking again. And I went to the gym.

It's amazing how easy it is to get back into good habits, even though the past two months have been one bad habit after another. But it really is easy. The Mariah Carey-Janet Jackson-Jennifer Hudson-Charles Barkley commercials playing on a continual loop have also helped. (Do you just love the Jennifer Hudson one? I can't look away whenever it comes on!)

It seems everyone is ready to be in that healthy mindset, and while not everyone will stick with it, by that time, I will be back in my zone.

I still have about 20 baby pounds to lose and I would really like to have them gone by my birthday in April. So....that's new year's resolution #1.

New year's resolution #2 -- 5K training begins soon. I'm getting my "sea" legs under me again at the gym, interval running and hill training. But come mid-January when the students are back and my gym re-opens on campus, running begins again in earnest. I got my email from the Brain Cancer folks last week. Save the date -- May 6 in DC. And this year, I am running the entire 3.1 miles.

And of course, the most important, new year's resolution, that one that goes without saying, that goes without being numbered, it's just there. I'm doing all I can. I'm staying positive (mostly). It's going to happen.

And so, as I move toward the un-named, un-numbered NYR, I will be moving towards being an even healthier mom-to-be. And while I won't wear it in public, I will wear to bed, with pride, the t-shirt a dear friend bought me. That'll be me for the next few months.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

'Twas the Week Before Christmas

It has been a rough few months in my world, and I for one, will be very happy to flip the calendar to 2012. This will be the year that I am either a parent or I'm not. I can't live in limbo forever and towards the summer, after being on the Ethiopia list for a full two years and with my attorney for one (the total motherhood journey will be five years), I will make the decision how much further I'm willing to go.

Whereas there is a lot of waiting on nothing in international adoption, something is always happening in domestic adoption. Good or bad, whether is works out or inevitably turns out to be a dead end, there always seems to be a possibility. And that, though it takes an emotional toll, is much better than sitting and waiting and not hearing anything.

I have all but given up on Ethiopia. I was on the phone with Jennifer last night and suddenly said, "is today the 17th?" It was indeed the 17th, she told me. And it also was my anniversary on the Ethiopia wait list. It didn't even occur to me. It doesn't even occur to me anymore. Where once I wrote my blog post weeks in advance, excited about counting the months on the wait list, and being that much closer, I don't even think about it anymore. (For those counting at home, yesterday was 19 months.)

Wide Horizons has more than disappointed me. There have been no referrals to speak of in the past few months. There have been no updates. When I reached out to my case manager (she would be the 5th I've had) to ask about any sort of refund. At this point, they have $5,000 from me. Even a partial refund of $1,000 would be something. The response I got was a very terse, "probably not but read your contract."

Great customer service right there.

In my heart Ethiopia is dead, and I am putting all of my efforts and resources into domestic. My very talented friend created a business card for me with my other website and cell phone number on it, and I included them in all 63 of my Christmas cards (not the year to make any cuts from the list). I am doing Google AdWords and some newspaper advertising. I have updated the meta tags and keywords on the site. And most importantly, I have an amazing attorney who is doing her damnedest to make me a mom.

This weekend, I stayed busy (getting over the disappointed of another close but no cigar potential birth mother) -- a little sewing, finished wrapping presents, and lots of baking. After I frost the cut-outs and pull every other kind of cookie out for the assembly of all the trays for the neighbors, I will update with photos.

Updated with the cookie arrangements -- half of them delivered, the other half tomorrow when the rest of the neighbors are home.