Thursday, September 18, 2008

Who Needs Money When You Can Have Baked Goods

Soooo ... our girl lost her first tooth! After almost a week of wiggling, it just popped right out while I was helping her floss on Tuesday morning.

(Okay, maybe I dug at the roots with the flosser just a little bit. Sue me.)

Kays was super excited that it finally came out, although the blood threw her for a bit of a loop. She got over it pretty quickly though when she realized it wasn't hurting her. Actually, she went so far as to enjoy using a few Q-tips to plug the hole. Something about looking like a walrus was mentioned (walruses being a source of hilarity around here). Yes, I am such a creative mommy, thankyouverymuch.

Of course I ran and grabbed the camera. I've learned my lesson about living a long ways away from extended family - you don't enjoy the moment, you document it on film!

Let me tell you, it's pretty hard to get a sweet, awww-look-at-my-growing-girl picture of your daughter when all she wants to do is stretch open her mouth with her fingers and poke her tongue through the hole in her teeth. But I persevered and did manage to capture some cuteness.

I dropped her and JT off at school that morning, where of course she had to run into every. single. classroom. and show her (lack of a) tooth off to every. single. teacher. in the school. They all made a very ego-stroking big deal of it and she had a very lovely day.

I, however, spent all day on the web and telephone, talking to family, friends, co-workers, the women on my mom's board, the janitor and the Fed-Ex guy about how much a tooth is worth these days. And not just any tooth, mind you, but a *first* tooth.

{Enter sunbeam coming through the clouds and heavenly chorus of angels here}

What I learned is that there is no standard. In this day and age of economic upheaval, the minimum wage earned for shoving a tooth under your pillow has been shot all to hell. The suggested amounts were all over the place.

Some people said $5.

{Pause while you clean the spit from your huge guffaw off your screen}

(You did guffaw, right?)

Some cheapskates husbands people said 50¢.

{Pause while you shake your head sadly in despair for tighwad cheap meanies}

(Are you done shaking?)

Basically the suggestions were of no assistance, and I was pretty much at a loss as to what was an appropriate amount. This was quite bothersome, as I wanted my daughter's first Tooth Fairy experience to be a glorious childhood moment.

Hey, I'm a first-timer here. Give me a break.

After many calls to the husband, who finally quit answering his cell phone using the convenient excuse that he was "working" - yeah, I'm on to you buddy - I finally decided that the Tooth Fairy would be bringing $2; four quarters and a one dollar bill. Kays loves quarters but is also starting to get curious about paper money, so I thought a mixture of the two would work quite nicely.

I snuck into her room The Tooth Fairy arrived at around 11:00 pm EST and did her thing. She is pretty amazing, if I do say so myself.

Wednesday morning Kays wakes up all excited. (This is extremely deviant from the norm, as she takes after her mother). She immediately goes for the prize and is giggling like a hyena. Happiness abounds in Casa de Madness.

Then she turns to me and asks, "Is that all?"

All? ALL?! Excuse me?!

I took a deep breath and smothered my instinct to beat some manners into her calmly replied, "I think so honey. What else were you expecting?"

"Oh," she says, disappointment obvious in her voice. "In Barbie Fairytopia, the Tooth Fairy brings so-and-so a cupcake. I thought I would get a cupcake. Or a lollipop. Did the Tooth Fairy forget my candy?"

Are. You. Kidding. Me. ????

I agonized all day - AGONIZED, I TELL YOU - about how much money to give her and she just wants a damn cupcake.

Fecking Barbie Fairytopia.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Power to the People, Part I

(or, Holy Shit, That's A Lot Of Linkage!)

So. Let's talk banks. Specifically, let's talk bank fees.


As a young adult,

{Insert pause for hysterical laughter at the idea of an 18 year old being an adult}

I opened my very first checking account with Wells Fargo. I don't really remember why I chose them; knowing me, it was probably because their ATM was the closest one to my house. I must say that I lucked out; Wells Fargo treated me well over the years. I didn't always have a ton of money in my account ... I clearly remember being anal about balancing my checkbook each month due to the fact that I occasionally had a total of 12 cents left by the 31st. And every once in awhile, I took one too many trips to Barnes & Noble that ended up in a stack of shiny new books and that 12 cents turned into a big red minus sign on my account balance. But in all honestly, Wells Fargo charged reasonable overdraft fees and hey, I deserved them. In over 10 years, I never had a problem with them that wasn't solved on the first phone call.

Sadly, the East Coast has not yet reached the enlightened plane required to enjoy the privilege of patronizing certain West Coast businesses, Wells Fargo being one of them. (Claim Jumper and Del Taco being two more, for which I am rendered completely and hopelessly bitter. But my food addictions are another post entirely.) When we hit the road, we were forced to choose a new bank. Since N moved here ahead of me, by default (ha!) he was stuck with the thankless task of finding the financial institution most qualified to handle our complicated banking needs.

{Insert pause for hysterical laughter at the thought of us having banking needs beyond, "Here's our [ridiculously small amount of] money. Don't lose it."}

Surprisingly, he learned there are only two banks that do business on both the East and West Coasts - Bank of America and Washington Mutual.

Okay, I admit, I took his word for it. I sure as hell wasn't going to be doing the legwork myself. If he lied his ass off pulled a fast one on me is mistaken, please, refrain from letting me know about it, m'kay?

Washington Mutual, affectionately if somewhat nauseatingly referred to by customers as WaMu, has a good reputation. But even though they do exist here in Virginia, they are somewhat few and far between. There are a total of 5 within 20 miles of my house. On the other hand, Bank of America (shortened to BofA and pronounced "boffah" if you're lazy) (like me) has more than ten times that many. Dude. BofA had a bad rep back in the day for completely shitty customer service. So completely shitty that the thought of leaving my beloved Wells Fargo for the Big Bad Nasty made me cringe. And whine. And complain. And kick. And scream. And bitch. And moan.

Well, you get the picture.

But in the end, N convinced me to give them a try. He had heard rumors that BofA was turning things around and really working to regain a good rep in the banking world, plus the convenience factor was undeniable. So I gave in agreed and we stepped over to the Dark Side. That was two and a half years ago.

Up until last week, I have actually been quite content banking in the Land of the Dark Lords. There are ATMs all over the freaking place (including at my work, which is handy for those indulgent emergency lunch purchases) and the banking centers have pretty decent hours for us working peeps. The new ATMs are high tech yet user- and eco-friendly; no more cursing up a storm screaming in the drive though lane being SOL due to the lack of available deposit envelopes! The online banking options are a god-send to those of us who are time-challenged and/or due-date-challenged. And we have yet to suffer from buyer's remorse over any of the BofA products we've been suckered into purchased after careful consideration.


We learned our lesson early on that one does not want to overdraw one's checking account, lest one feels so inclined to pay through the nose in o/d fees. Awhile back, during which time I was lazy and forgetful suffering from Mommy Brain, I let the checkbook-balancing routine fall a wee bit behind and well, let's just say the results weren't pretty.

After recovering from my minor fee-induced heart attack, I swiftly took steps to ensure it would nevah. happen. again. ! No, I did not purchase money-managing software to effortlessly whip our budget into shape. No, I did not enroll in financial success workshops to release my family from the burden of debt. No, I did not sign up for online banking. No, I did not push myself to stay on top of all things monetary.

Oh no.

I got a credit card, baby! Woohoo!

Now now, before you go all postal on me, let me reassure you that I did not go charging up the card with frivolous purchases. Not a single one of my purchases were frivolous!

I kid, I kid. The card came with a zero balance, and still has a zero balance. The point of the card was to link it as a backup for our checking account, in case we were to overdraw. See, BofA automatically links your savings account to your checking account as your backup. In theory, this default works just fine ... you o/d your checking, they dip into your savings and transfer the needed funds to cover your oopsie(s). You are charged a relatively small $10 transfer fee and o/d fees are a thing of the past.

In theory.

However, when your savings account has all of $3.42 in it on any given day, this theory gets shot all to hell.

The fun part is when BofA takes your entire savings balance and puts it in your checking, since everyone knows when you o/d, $3.42 is gonna cover it every time.


So you get a $10 transfer fee and then, surprise! You still get o/d fees when (shockingly) your savings transfer didn't quite cover your o/d transactions. Nice. Hence the need to a nice, shiny new credit card with {gasp} thousands of dollars of available credit just sitting there, waiting to fly to the rescue should one be so stupid careless unlucky as to accidentally o/d in the future.

Like, um, me.

Now in my defense, I will say that while I used to be the accountant in our little family, my sucker loving husband took over those duties from me awhile back. I was a bit overwhelmed with my SAHM duties (we really don't need to go there again, do we?) and things like, oh I don't know ... coughbillpayingcough ... were getting neglected. N had sizable chunks of downtime at his old job and he nicely offered to get us back on track. Yes, he's a saint. Yes, I'm a lazy bitch. What, you didn't know this already?

So N did his spreadsheet-tracking, online-bill-paying, actually-looking-at-the-mail magic. And for a long time, it worked quite nicely. Bills were paid, money was flowing in and out (mostly out) without a hitch, the hate mail overdue notices quit arriving in the mailbox. N was overworked happy, I was happy, life was good. Then, due to circumstances beyond our control, N was forced to get a new job. And as everyone knows, when you are a shiny brand-new employee it takes awhile before your direct deposit kicks in. For the first few paychecks, one is forced to actually retrieve said paycheck from one's employer and physically take it to the bank. Oh, the horrors.

And when one forgets to deposit said paycheck on payday yet one's bills are on autopay, one is most likely up shit creek without a paddle. (Thanks, Mom, for teaching me that sweet little idiom. It's one of my very favorites.)

Over the course of one horrific weekend, we incurred approximately $175 in overdraft fees.

One hundred. And seventy five. American dollars.


That's like five thousand dollars in Madness money. Seriously. Just looking at the negatives on the computer screen made me hyperventilate. After my initial breakdown, I promptly proceeded to kick my sainted husband's ass nicely ask N to call the bank and see what the hell happened. After all, I had this lovely credit card sitting there with a zero balance. We should have had a (relatively) small $10 charge and then moved on with our no-direct-deposit lives. Why, then, had the minions of Satan BofA system pulled the $3.42 balance from our savings and then, when we (shockingly) came up short, gleefully charged us over and over?

I was incensed, to say the least. Yet I reigned in my initial reaction because really, this was all just a stupid simple error and could easily be corrected. Right?

To be continued when my brain recovers from the over-linkage shock

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Well, there goes my productivity for the next 2 weeks






{rolling on the floor}

{wipes tears}

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Kingdom for a Title

So, how's life out there in Reader Land? Yes, yes I am still alive and kicking. You know the story - so much to do, so little time. Sadly, it's the blog that gets neglected. However, since my husband specifically took the time to bitch about the fact that I haven't blogged in two and a half months, I decided I loved him enough to put some of my word vomit on paper, as it were.

Honey, this one's for you.

Life is chugging along at the Casa de Madness. Summer has hit and our little corner of the world now resembles a bug-filled steam room. Humidity: love it or kill yourself. Growing up in Southern California did not prepare me on how to properly swim my way through the muggy air in this state. We've been here awhile but apparently the last two summers were "mild". People kept saying this, but honestly, I just dismissed it and assumed I was acclimating nicely. I told everyone back home how the "humidity isn't that bad" and that I "didn't understand why it's so hard for people to deal" with the weather here.

Now I understand. Now I am on my knees, begging forgiveness from He Who Punishes Those Who Make Stupid Statements And Think They're Slightly Superior When In Reality They Do Not Know That Of Which They Speak.

Mercy, I beg of you!

The biggest joy of summer is that our community pool opens and we can once again submerse ourselves in the wondrous Big Blue. Kays and JT had their first swim lesson yesterday, courtesy of one Miss Ashley. Ashley, despite her lack of years, did well putting up with my darling daughter's antics (just watching her I was tempted to shove her head under the water for awhile). Kays is in that stage where she thinks she is being funny but in reality she is being ... well ... let's just say she's not. At all. She also has a very real fear of putting her head under water, which is somewhat counter-conducive to swimming. I'm hopeful that with lessons she'll be able to jump off the diving board by the end of summer, although I'm not--haha--holding my breath.

JT on the other hand, appears to be my child right down to his fish-in-water bones. He is a natural swimmer even at the tender age of 2. Doesn't mind going under and has *no fear* when it comes to the pool. Tip for parents of daredevil children: Do not take your attention off your child for even two seconds while at the pool, or you could possibly find yourself grabbing for said child after he has jumped off the side and gone completely under.

Not that I would know anything about that.

{ahem} Have I mentioned the recent addition to the Madness family? No? Well then, let me proudly introduce Clover Creamsicle Marmalade Goldie Madness:

Clover was abandoned by some assface who walked into my store with her and let her loose. We found her just running around, scared out of her little guinea pig mind. Because she was free, I was easily talked into hounded mercilessly by my co-workers until I agreed to take her home. Our dog Tucker really loves her (or wants to eat her, I'm not sure which), but she's not too keen on him. She is warming up to us, though, and comes up to the door of her cage to greet me each day. Really she just wants a carrot, but it's nice to pretend I'm loved.

Tip for anyone adopting a guinea pig: They pee. And poop. They feel no compunction about doing such activities upon your person. Cuddling time should always include at least one spare towel.

Moving right along ...

We've had a lot of 'firsts' over the last couple of months. Oh, those proud moments when your child shines so brightly that you are almost overwhelmed by your parental joy. Those moments you just rush to get recorded in Junior's baby book; those times you snap a million photos so you'll be able to look at them all and reminisce for years to come.

Those moments like when your daughter cuts her own hair ...

Those moments like when your daughter swallows a quarter and chokes on it, necessitating an ambulance trip to the hospital and a surgical procedure to remove it ...

Those moments like when your son decides he loves his new Cars underwear *so much* that he throws a screaming hysterical fit when he pees in them and Mommy dares to remove them from his stinky behind.

Those moments like when your older (stronger, bigger) child gets a little exuberant and pushes your younger (smaller, clumsier) child a bit too hard, leading to a face-plant on the grocery store tile floor and a lip half-bitten through, bleeding like a stuck pig.

I'm telling you, moments like these are happening way to damn often rare and meant to be treasured like precious jewels.

Jewels, I say.

And for those of you who say TV is bad for children, I leave you with this enlightening anecdote ...

Upon arriving home after work last week, Kays marched over to the DVD player and put in a movie. Me being the scheming harried opportunistic mom that I am, I immediately saw the chance to go to the bathroom *on my own* without having two children attempting to beat down the door because they apparently feel the need for supervision and parental guidance at all times. I mean, really. Sometimes Mom just needs to take a crap all. by. her. self. !

So I'm making a beeline for the bathroom when the previews hit the screen. Apparently what began to play was not what Kays expected to see (not, um, that she has the previews to all our movies memorized or anything), because I immediately hear her sweet little voice exclaim,


Oh my baby girl, how I love thee.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


You know, growing up I was never skinny. I never even had that kid phase of "all knees and elbows". I have always been solid.

I wasn't, however, fat. I *thought* I was fat, I *believed* I was fat, but in reality, I was healthy. Actually, looking at pictures, I was freaking hot. Curves, toned muscle. How did I not see that? I think a lot of things contributed to my feelings, but when you get down to the bottom of it, I wasn't stick-thin and I wasn't going to like my body until I was.

I regret that now. I regret never enjoying being in my skin. I regret that for years, I was fit and healthy and strong, yet I never could see that. *Now* I know what fat is. *Now* I know what out of shape is. And guess what? It sucks. I have to wonder if I will ever be happy with myself, if when I get to goal I'll be satisfied, because I never have been. I don't know how it feels to look at myself in the mirror and like what I see. I hope that one day, I will.

I've made a vow that I will do everything within my power to keep my kids from feeling the way I did as they grow up. I will not encourage them to eat less if they say they want seconds. I will not allow their coaches to tell them they are getting to heavy for their chosen sport. I will not be so focused on my own weight issues that by default they become focused on their own.

Instead, I will perpetuate a healthy lifestyle. I will serve healthy foods, so having seconds is never a problem. I will encourage them to participate in sports that don't focus so highly on body weight. I will be at goal before they ever realize I had weight to lose.

I realize I can't *make* them feel happy with themselves. But I am going to do every damn thing I can to help them know what self-confidence feels like.

Because I don't want them to look back on these years with regret.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Stay Awake, Staaaaayyyyy Awaaaaaaaaakkkkeeee!

I am not a morning person.

Not. At. All.

Never have been, never will be.

And I somewhat resent being saddled with two children who think the rising of the sun signals the start of their day. Because when my kids wake up at the freaking crack of dawn, who do you think they come running to? Who's side of the bed do they climb on? Who's covers do they pull off? Who's ear do they scream in? Me, that's who. Not Daddy, oh no. Never him. Always. Me.

{Are you listening, Being In Charge Of All Things Ironic? This isn't funny!}

As far back as I can remember, I've needed more hours of sleep than the average person. Even as a kid, I was a pain in the ass wee bit grouchy if I got less than about 9 hours of sleep. Luckily, when you're a child this is not so difficult to attain. My parents insisted on a 9:00 bedtime while I was growing up, so pretty much by default I was usually rested and happy. (Being a parent now myself, I personally believe that by about 8:00 their tolerance for dealing with 3 kids started crumbling, resulting in us being hurried along to bed before they completely lost their minds and gave into the urge to do something crazy, like running through the neighborhood naked and screaming mindlessly. What, you've never felt that urge? Oh. Okay. Moving right along, then!)

Things started changing when I hit the tender age of 14 and began my freshman year. Ah, high school. That institution of crowded hallways, smelly gyms, lockers glued shut with old gum, sadistic math teachers, and a starting bell that rang at 7:18 am.

7:18 people! I don't even have to be at work that early!

Between sports, homework, family time, and hours on the phone (remember those calls when you'd use 3-way calling to get 18 friends on the phone?), I started running short on sleep pretty early on. Luckily, I could usually sleep in on weekends. My mom dragged us all to church on Sundays, but that didn't really interrupt my sleeping schedule.

When you've been a Catholic since birth, you can sleep through mass even with all the standing and kneeling and praying in unison. Trust me.

Sadly enough, I eventually graduated and was tossed into the cold, cruel world as an *ahem* adult. I managed, for the most part, to continue my pattern of slowly losing my mind not getting enough sleep during the week and sleeping until noon on weekends. Hey, it worked for me. Life went on, years passed, and I didn't think much of my sleeping habits.

When I found myself pregnant with Kays, I learned I was in for months of sleepless nights. I read the parenting books, took the classes. I found out that for a newborn, "sleeping through the night" meant a 4-5 hour stretch. Hah! What a crock. Why don't you call it what it is, a nap long enough to give Mommy hope that her sanity will one day return and short enough to keep that from actually happening. Luckily for me, I was blessed with a child who started sleeping through the night {insert eyeroll here} at about 2 months old.

Unluckily for me, I then learned The Ultimate Truth. Kids are morning people. Early morning people. People who could easily be mistaken for roosters, except they get up earlier than a real rooster ever would. People who aren't content to lie in their crib and amuse themselves while mommy resides in Dreamland for another hour or two. Oh no. Kids want mommy, and they want her right. Now!

Four years and a second child later, mornings haven't gotten any better. Now there are two miniature delinquents screaming delightfully in my ear. Twice the volume for half the price! Joy.

This morning, my lovely little bugger of a son came toddling in at the asscrack of dawn. Climbed over my lump of a husband, who didn't even twitch (damn the man). Flung himself with great enthusiasm upon my head and shoulders. Shared his joy of the morning with me in his ear-splitting adorable baby boy voice. And for a second, one sweet second, I contemplated letting him play by himself until I could open my eyes without sandpaper scraping the inside of my eyelids. I mulled over the wonders of actually rising from my bed feeling rested instead of like something the cat hacked up.

One second. And then my brain was flooded with the memory of That Day.

That Day, in which I was just a smidge too tired. That Day, in which I didn't open my eyes. That Day, in which I whispered the fatal words.

"Just go play, honey. Mommy is sleeping."

In my defense, I really was asleep in every way that counted. I have only the vaguest memory of me speaking to my then three-year old daughter. I didn't rise up out of unconsciousness long enough to even contemplate actually getting out of bed myself. My lips shaped the words, my vocal chords gave sound to the murmur, but my brain did not engage. All systems were definitely not Go.

Kays, being the obedient, dutiful daughter that she is {snort}, skipped right off to enjoy a morning of entertaining herself.

A three-year old.




A half hour later, Kays was back. Having completed her morning "project", she came to show it to me. Upon hearing her persistent little voice calling for me, over and over, I tried to once again tell her that Mommy was sleeping. However, she kept at it until my sleep-deprived brain slowly caught up with my Miss Independent mouth. I cautiously slitted open my eyes.

And promptly had a heart attack.

As a scream rose up into my throat, a very bright and very harsh light blinked on in my head. Not blood, not blood, NOT BLOOD! She was too damn happy for it to be blood. Standing there, smiling for all she was worth, pleased as punch with herself.

My poor abused brain just refused to process the situation and went into auto pilot. Just get the kid cleaned up and all will be well, right? Yes, yes, a little soap and water and we can pretend this never happened.

As I led her toward the bathroom, I stumbled across Part Two of her little morning adventure.

Not paint, nope. Nothing as simple as that for *my* daughter. She went for the artistic impact that only lipstick can have. Being the inspired artist that she is, she skipped right over the subtlety of a nude shade. Didn't bother with the daintiness of a pale pink. No prissy colors for my girl.

Did you know that soap and water won't remove dark red lipstick from a child's skin, hair, or your hallway carpet?

In the end, I laughed. I laughed and laughed and laughed. One might argue it was simply my overwhelmed little mind finally cracking up, but I hope know it was because I knew I had no one to blame but myself. How could I be mad? So I laughed. I laughed, and installed a baby gate on her bedroom door.

By the way, take it from someone who has been there ... a three-year old can climb over a baby gate. So can a two-year old.

There will be no sleeping in for Mommy at the Casa de Madness. Happy yawning, people.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Finally, Some Service Around Here!

Apparently, I am a lightning-rod for bad customer service.

I will admit, I have expectations when it comes to those in the service industry. My expectations are: I expect good service.

That's it. That's the sum of my expectations.

These days, that's apparently asking too much.

Although N swears the problem comes from living in the great Commonwealth of Virginia, I don't agree. I think customer service everywhere has gone downhill. I know that when we lived in California, I dealt with my fair share of bad service there as well. To this day, I refuse to step into a Hollywood Video because of the treatment I received in a CA store about 7 years ago (no, I won't let it go, thankyouverymuch). But I think that as I get older, as my kids get more difficult to deal with more obnoxious older, and as life continues to add balls to my juggling act, I have become less tolerant of stupidity, especially from those in a customer service position.

Let me preface this by saying I currently work in retail. I am a dog trainer, part-time anyway, and I work at a chain pet store that rhymes with "lets fart". Before I went back to a regular day job, I worked about 30 hours a week in this store. I was not always in the training room; I spent quite a few hours each week on the floor with customers who just didn't understand why choke chains and shock collars don't belong on a 10-week old puppy, or why crating their six month old Lab 10 hours a day might create a problem with excessive energy when he's finally let out. However, I will say that in my 1 1/2 years in this job, I have never - NEVER - had a customer complain about me to my managers. I have never offended anyone to the point of contacting our corporate office. In fact, I have had quite a few customers take the time to tell my managers how helpful I was. I *know* how shitty a day in customer service can be. I *know* that people suck. But I also know that if you choose to work in a customer service position, you have to suck it up, keep a smile on your face, and remember that the stupidcluelessmotherf'ingpos customer is always right. Even when they're not.


I like to think that because of my experience in customer service, I am more understanding toward others in that same position. When I go out to eat and my rare steak is served well-done, I never take it out on the waiter. When I am in Target and my on clearance outfit rings up at regular price, I do not get upset with the cashier. I do, however, expect those people to do their best to fix whatever problem I am experiencing at their establishment. I do not appreciate being given 'the look' and hearing some version of the words, "I don't know how/want/care to help you."

Is that asking so much?

Apparently it is, as I could fill several pages of this blog with bad customer service stories. However, if you remember way back to the title, this entry isn't about bad service (ha! fooled you, didn't I?). It's about that rare, wonderful, lovely moment when you feel like a valued customer, like your business and perhaps even happiness mean something to the sales person standing in front of you.

In Richmond, there is a fabulous children's hair salon called Pigtails and Crewcuts. Now, you may be asking why one would ever have need for a hair salon specifically catering toward kids. I would have asked that myself, prior to having a 2-year old. However, when your child believes down deep in his soul that haircutting is a torture specifically reserved for the Seventh Level of Hell - and said child feels the need to share his belief with the entire world (or at least the locals within a 5-mile radius) - you suddenly grasp the importance of a hair salon that can deal with that perspective.

I took the kids to P&C after a disastrous experience at SuperCuts (let's just say it involved a screaming, sobbing child, sticky lollipop covered in bits of hair, a bitchy stylist, and a crooked hairline that cost $10). Being a stay-at-home mom, it was nice to just pop in mid-week, when the salon was relatively empty. P&C does not take appointments, so if you show up and it's busy, you're just screwed. Luckily, we could easily avoid that problem. Our first visit was excellent; JT had a blast playing with the train table (both before and after his torture session) and Kays loved getting her first mani and pedi. Plus, they got great hair cuts and the price was lower than I had anticipated. It was a good day.


When you are a working mom (or, for those annoying people of you who would argue that all moms work, a mom who works outside the home), it's not so easy to just swing by the salon at 10am on a Tuesday. In fact, when said salon's hours are 9:30 - 5:30, it's pretty much impossible to *ever* swing by during the week. They've got that covered, though, because they are also open during those same hours on Saturdays. It's all good, right? Well, yeah, except when you're a freak with a second job that has you working every Saturday from 9am to 8pm.

Yep. I'm screwed.

Now, I have a husband. And to be completely honest, he's an exceptional person, both as a mate and father. I know that if I asked him, he would pop a few Excedrin and happily take the kids to get their hair cut. But because I am anal retentive, I like to do these things myself. I like being able to make sure JT's cut is short enough to spike up but long enough to lay down flat, that Kays doesn't end up with unwanted bangs, that no one's eyes get poked out with scissors, etc. etc. I know I am anal retentive and I usually deal with it fairly well. It makes me a great admin assistant, a good home decorator, and one day I'm sure I'll be a wonderful PTA fund-raising organizer. However, it makes for bad times when I can't find a way to get the kids to the salon myself.

Shortly before starting my new job, I realized that nature had taken its course and once again the kiddos were looking at the world through hair-obscured eyes. Being a procrastinator, I waited until the last weekday prior to my new employment start date to take the kids in. Being a reading freak, I got lost in my newest Janice Davidson book and lost track of time.

Leaving at 4:55 + a 25 mile drive at rush hour - a salon that closes at 5:30 = bad bad bad.


When I got off the freeway at 5:32 with still another 3 miles to drive, my frustration with myself and traffic and life in general hit the breaking point. But instead of, oh, I don't know, calling my husband and taking it out on him, I had the brilliant idea of calling the store. Gold star for me!

I think a tiny part of me was hoping they'd pick up and tell me that, yes, of course they understood that I was an idiot and yes, of course they'd be happy to stay open late and accommodate my unreasonableness.

Instead, I got the answering machine.

Did I hang up? Oh, no. I did not.

I listened to a voice telling me that their operating hours were "Monday through Saturday, from 9:30 to 5:30, no appointments necessary!" I looked at the clock and felt my blood pressure rise. I heard that beep, and I unloaded.

"Hello, my name is Jenn, and I just wanted to let you know that I really, really love your store. But your hours suck.

"I'm a working mom,
{Not really a lie, I was working p/t}

"and I left work early today so I could bring my kids in.
{A total lie, but I needed to create a better excuse than simply being daft enough to lose track of several hours. Yes, I'm a horrible person.}

"I left work early, but I hit so much traffic that I wasn't able to get to your salon prior to 5:30.
{Not a lie at all. I did hit a lot of traffic. I did!}

"I realize that for most working moms, it wouldn't matter that you guys close at 5:30 because you're also open on Saturdays. Unfortunately for me, I work a second job that takes up my Saturdays. I start work before you open and get off after you close. This leaves me totally screwed. Honestly, I realize that my situation is not your responsibility, and that for 99% of the working world, your Saturday hours cover their needs. But I just wish that you had one night - one night - with extended hours. 6:00? 6:30? Just a suggestion. It would be really great. Anyway, I'm not going to leave my number because this is more just frustration than it is a complaint. Hopefully I'll be able to bring my kids in sometime soon. You've probably already deleted this, but if you haven't, I just wanted to say thanks for listening. Hope I didn't ruin your day. Bye."

{Pause for my collective audience to recover from their attack of 'Holy Shit This Woman is a Piece of Work-itis'.}

And with that, I drove around until I found a random chain hair salon and got the kids their hair cuts (and once again had to fix the crookedness of JT's hairline after we got home).


Later that night, I noticed I had a voice mail message on my cell phone. I had accidentally left my phone in my car while inside with the kids doing the hair thing, so I figured that's when the call came in. I don't think anything of it, just retrieved the message.

"Hello, this is Mr. Owner at Pigtails and Crewcuts.
{Oh. My. God.}

"I just wanted to let you know that I got your message and I'm sorry that we have been unable to accommodate you. I value all of our customers, and I'd really like to help you out. Maybe we can work something out and do a late appointment one night.
{Seriously dying of shame at this point.}

"You definitely did not ruin my day; I am always happy to hear from our customers. Hopefully we can make this work for you. I'm getting ready to leave the store, but I'd really like to talk to you, so please call me on my cell phone, XXX-XXXX. Hope your night gets better. Bye!"

I'm telling you, I damn near fell over. The owner of the store not only listened to my message in its entirety, he *got my number from his Caller ID* just so he could return my call.


Seeing as how I now felt like a total ass, I so was not calling this man back on his cell phone. I wanted to apologize for my message, though, so I figured I would just call the store and leave another message. Coward, thy name is Jenn. I hit up my own Caller ID, figuring since it's now several hours past closing, I'm good to go with this plan.



{Shit! Shit shit shit!!!!}

"Um, hello Mr. Owner? This is Jenn the Cowardly Bitch, I left you a message earlier ... ?"

"Oh, yes, Ms. Freak Of A Customer Who Makes My Job A Living Hell. I'm so glad you called!"


Actually, the conversation went very well. Mr. Owner was at all times professional and courteous, yet still managed to be personable and funny. He even said my message amused him, with my opening statement that used the words "love" and "suck" in the same sentence. I assured him that I realized how ridiculous I had been to leave that message, and that we most definitely did not need special accommodations; I would just unclench and let my husband bring the kids in. All in all, I was extremely impressed with how he handled the situation. By the end, I even felt comfortable enough to give him my last name and my kids' names when he asked for them, to help him remember us when we next came in.

My Saturday work days are numbered, so chances are by the next time haircuts are needed, I'll be able to take the kids in myself. I'm actually looking forward to it; I plan on apologizing in person and then making up for my behavior by buying a bunch of unneeded expensive hair accessories from them.

It'll be fun, I'm sure.

Although now that I think about it, he probably took that personal information and marked us down on the Moronic Pain In The Ass Customers list in permanent black marker. He's probably just waiting for our next visit so he can surreptitiously snap head shots to tack up next to our names on that list.





Hey, if we've gotta take mug shots, at least our hair will look great.


(In all seriousness, I highly recommend P&C. Take a look at their website, because they have locations all over. They rock.)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Tears in my Heart

I have no words to express how I am feeling this morning.

Last night, a woman was given devastating news.

This woman is an acquaintance from a message board. To be perfectly honest, I don't consider us friends. We don't email. We don't start threads addressed to each other. She is just one of the regulars on the board, as am I, and we have interacted through various posts over the last couple of years.

Yet my heart is breaking for her.

Hers is a story of years of infertility, miscarriages, and failed attempts at pregnancy. She has posted her troubles in bits and pieces, never asking for sympathy, never raging against circumstance. She was simply sharing parts of her life, as we all did. On a message board full of mothers, she was the much loved "mother to be". We all assured her that somehow, someday, she would have a baby to call her own.

She and her husband were in the process of adopting when the country they were working with all but shut down international adoptions. Our board bemoaned the unfairness of it, offered up advice and sympathy, prayers and good luck wishes. Then lo and behold, a new fertility treatment, experimental but with a high rate of success, was made available to this couple. They chose to go for it, to give one last shot at pregnancy and new life. The women on our board were thrilled; posts abounded with excitement and happiness. We held our collective breath, waiting as the days and weeks crept by, devouring every post she made that talked about blood tests and numbers and hormone levels. As the days passed, more and more posts were made with that flavor of certainty, that "this is it!" feeling.

And it was.

It was, two times over. Twins.

I cannot begin to express the unrestrained joy of a mom's board learning that there was another one of us in the making. If cyberspace can have a party, we threw a humdinger. With each post, each new doctor appointment, each mention of morning sickness, each question of maternity clothes, we celebrated.

It has been 20 weeks since that fateful procedure. Less than that since the confirmation of the pregnancy. Even less than that since the news of two heartbeats in one womb.

And now, this woman has learned that one of those heartbeats is housed in a body not meant for this world. A brain that will never develop. A life that will never know quality.

This woman, this mother, is being told by doctors that she should heavily consider ending her baby's existence before she ever draws a breath, so as to give her twin a better chance at life.

Is there any more devastating a choice?

Is there any heavier sorrow that could fall upon a mother?

How can one ever find peace and healing in circumstances like this?

I do not know this woman. I have never met her, never spoken to her on the phone. I do not know her last name or her husband's name. I do not know when her birthday is or what movies she likes best.

But I can feel her pain. It is palpable, even though a computer screen. I can hear her ravaged heart spilling into her words. I can see her confusion, her complete lack of understanding the why of it all.

I do not know this woman, and she does not know me. But we are connected on some level, connected through motherhood, through that unconditional love for the lives we bring forth into this world.

And my heart is breaking for her.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Scratch That

Here I was, all ready to post an annoyingly cheerful blog about how swimmingly my new job is going, and how the kids have taken to daycare like ducks in water. (Despite the fact that Kays got pink eye after only 3 days - it was a mild case and she handled the drops well. We chalked that up to the hazards of daycare and moved on.)


The flu invaded our house on Sunday night. Monday at the doctor's office, the tests confirmed: both munchkins had it. JT also had an ear infection and sinus infection.


Four days later, they are finally back in daycare. N took Monday off, I took Tuesday, and he covered Wednesday and today (in case they were sent home from daycare; we weren't 100% positive they'd make it through an entire day). Luckily, he can work from home, so his boss is somewhat flexible in situations like this. I, however, am not yet out of my third week at a new job and have already begged for time off. Nice.

To top it off, I am sitting at my desk with a fever, the chills, a massive headache, and neck pain. I want to go home and hide under the covers. Instead, I am so apprehensive about asking for even more time off that I'm sitting like a lump at my desk, wearing my jacket, hoping I just die right here to lessen the misery.

Welcome back. Yeah, right.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


The world as I know it is changing.

Up until tonight, I thought it was changing for the better. You see, I am a stay-at-home mom. Technically, I have a job, but it's part-time and at night/on weekends, so it doesn't really count. My job is to stay at home with my kids.

I've never felt I did this job well.

For any of you who read my previous blog (which has been deactivated; RIP, you know I've had issues with the SAHM thing from the get-go. I'm not going to rehash it all. Suffice to say, I have very little patience, a quick temper, and I'm not too interested in doing things my kids want to do. I don't want to make a mess with Play-Doh or paint, run around outside in the heat and humidity, or "find" them in the same place a million times. I don't want them to help me in the kitchen, because it takes longer and makes a bigger mess. I don't want them typing on my computer because, dammit, I'm trying to write a blog here. And yes, today is going to suck, because we didn't get up and at 'em early enough and now it's almost naptime and when you wake up we won't have enough time to do anything before I have to go to work, so no, we can't go anywhere fun.

I'm also not so hot on the housekeeping end of things. SAHMs are, for the most part, expected to take on the majority of the house chores. Makes sense, considering we are home all day while our hard-working husbands break their backs to bring home the bacon. Unfortunately for me (and my husband), a toddler and a preschooler were more job than I could handle - the housekeeping took a back burner to trying to keep up with them. I just never could quite grasp that golden schedule that seems instinctive for so many other moms. Maybe it had something to do with coming home from work at 10:00 pm and finally getting to eat dinner, then spending some time actually connecting with my husband - or vegging out on the couch if connecting was just too much work - taking a shower, and going to be at midnight (or more likely 1:00 am), just to get up when I hear JT calling for me at 7:30 the next morning. I was tired. So very tired, all the time. Most days, I was proud to get us all dressed and keep the TV time to a minimum. Housekeeping, well, not so much.

I have beat myself up one side and down the other over this for the last two years. I haven't really come to peace with it, but lately things have been getting better. The kids are older, they play together (not usually nicely, but still). They're less messy with projects, so we tackle a new one now and then. I'm getting used to being a zombie, so the lack of sleep is not as hard to deal with. Overall, I think we were on the way up.

However, we still have one major problem. We are broke. Flat broke. Not despairingly broke - we can still pay the mortgage, run the heater, and buy groceries - but definitely poor. Our heater isn't on much, our groceries tend toward Top Ramen, and we are on a budget that is tighter than a homophobe's asshole, but at least we are limping along. It's just hard to never get ahead. It's hard to not be able to afford gymnastics lessons for your little girl, or Mommy-and-Me music classes for your son. It's hard to not be able to have fun family outings, because they cost too much. It's hard to swallow your pride when your parents pay for the airfare so you can see your nieces be baptized.

Not as hard as living on the street. I know this, and I'm trying not to have a pity party here. But, it's hard.

So I've been looking for jobs. With two kids, a dog, and an SUV that gets 14 mpg, the expenses of me working all day are fairly high. I set my salary requirements to the top of the bar for someone in my field (administrative assistance) with my experience (years) and education (not much). I sent out resumes, lots of resumes. I interviewed, which in and of itself creates difficulties like paying a sitter and buying a new outfit. I watched people's faces try to hide the shock when they asked my salary requirements and I told them. I went home, pissed off that I had spent next week's grocery money for what was just a waste of time.

And then, lo and behold. My phone rang and I was offered a position. Ironically, I had already made up my mind about this particular job - the interviewer was a jackass who made me feel stupid and small. I didn't want his damn job, thankyouverymuch. Luckily, I had an out, a non-confrontational way of saying "stick this job where the sun don't shine" ... the salary was not high enough. I couldn't swing it; there simply was no way. I asked for the weekend to think about it, but I knew I was going to call back on Monday and turn it down.

For some reason, I did not do this. When I called on Monday, I asked if the salary could be raised. I wanted three thousand a year more. I felt audacious asking for this - surely they'd laugh at me. But who cared? I didn't want the job anyway. However, my request was seriously considered and I was told to call back that afternoon.

Shortly afterward, my husband called me with some very, very bad news. He was being sent home from work, pending an investigation of his actions. He told me that obviously, no matter what the offer was, I needed to take that job. We were both devastated. Was he fired? He didn't know. But if he was, well, God help us. I needed a job, and I needed one now.

So I accepted.

Luckily for me, they raised their offer by twenty five hundred. I was shocked, as I had fully expected to be told "too bad so sad" on raising the salary. It was a nice bonus, but all I could think was at least I had a job. If N was going to be fired, we might still be able to hang on by the skin of our teeth.

N, as it turns out, was not fired. His offending action was ridiculously innocuous, and for anyone else would have resulted in a slap on the wrist. Thanks to the very bad relationship he has with his supervisor, however, N was suspended for two days, then ended up with a formal write-up for his file.

But he still had a job, for which we were more than thankful.

In the chaos of this week, the stress and subsequent relief, the scramble to find a child care center, the plans, the budgeting, the everything, I haven't thought much about what it means for me to have a job.

I am thinking about it tonight.

For one, it means we will have a bit more money each month. Not much, but enough that we should eventually pull flush, and hopefully even get ahead. Maybe even one day having the luxury of family vacations, children in extra-curricular activities, and doing the much-needed up-grades to our home.

For another, it means we will have much better medical benefits. No more surprise bills for hundreds of dollars, because N's insurance doesn't cover this or that. No more deciding not to have our children get a non-required vaccination because we can't afford the percentage that would be our responsibility. No more hours on the phone, setting up payment plans with doctors' offices.

It will also mean that my kids are at a child care center all day long. 7:15 am to 5:15 pm. For 10 hours, they will be in the hands of teachers who are paid to help them make a mess with Play-Doh and paint, watch them while they run around outside and enjoy the playground, laugh with them when they play house in the pretend kitchen, show them how to type their name on a computer keyboard. Every day will be fun, filled with friends and projects and activities and games.

And I won't be there.

I'll never be able to say I was good at being home with them. I might have ... I believe we were on the way to getting there ... but we never quite nabbed that prize. Their time at 'school' will be so much better than their two years at home with me. And for them, I am glad that they will finally be getting the environment they deserve.

But for me, I'm sad.

I'm sad, and I don't want to let them go.

I'm sad, and I want to call my employer to tell him this was all a mistake. That really, I'm meant to be at home with my children, giving them the best life possible, so thank you but I don't need this other job.

I'm sad, even though in my heart of hearts, I know I'm doing the right thing. I need to work; we need the money. I picked a wonderful child care center, and they are going to be receiving all the attention and caring and simulation they need to thrive. They are going to love it, I know.

But I'm sad.

I have a lot of things to do tomorrow; household chores and whatnot. I have schedules to write down and details to be ironed out. I have meals to plan and preparations to be made.

But I want to shut it all out and just hug my children. To watch them play, to see the sunlight reflected in their beautiful eyes and feel my heart lift at their laughter. To be their mom, their one and only, their love; to make every moment count. I want to stop time ... but they can't wait to start school, to have such a new and wonderful adventure. They don't know that tomorrow is going to break my heart. They don't know that I want just a little more time to prove that I really can be a great mom. That it's in me to give them everything they need, that I'm capable of doing right by them. They don't know that I'm dying a bit inside to let them go.

I didn't even know. I didn't know this was all inside me, until it hit me that I have one more day before our little world changes. One short day.

I start work on Monday.

And God, I don't want to go.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Not To Be Repetitive ...

But I've got another movie post for you.

Thanks to mom Santa, N got a movie gift card in his stocking this year. For us, this is a really awesome gift (as was the gift card to O'Charley's). See, we don't have a lot of money for extras, and when we want to go out without the kids, money becomes a big problem. To go to a movie, you have to pay the sitter (2 hour movie, 15 minutes of previews, 30 minutes round-trip traveling, 10-15 minutes of getting there early, and 15 minutes of "show sitter the ropes" time = $35, and that's just for a 2 hour movie). You also have to buy tickets (2 adults = $18). So, we're looking at $50-$60 just to spend a bit of time in a theater. I cringe to think we might want to add dinner or even theater popcorn to that.

No wonder we so often choose animated kids' movies ... it's cheaper just to bring them along. (And hey, Enchanted was damn funny.)

But with the magic of a gift card, the expense of the theater is shouldered by that wonderful little piece of plastic. So we went out last Friday night and saw the movie Juno.

DISCLAIMER: Although I don't think this post will ruin the movie for you -- it's pretty clear what the plot is from the previews -- I will be discussing a few specifics. I'm really not going to reveal much, but you may want to wait to read this until after you've seen the movie. And trust me, you should definitely see the movie.

Juno is about a 16 year-old girl who gets pregnant after sleeping with her best friend. She decides to have an abortion, but then can't go through with it. Instead of keeping the baby, she opts for giving it up for adoption. This all happens in about the first 15 minutes. The movie is really about following Juno through her pregnancy, and showing what it's like to be not only a pregnant teen but an adoptive parent hopeful as well.

This movie hit home for me in a way that it won't for many people. See, I found myself in the same situation at the same age. Pregnant at 16. It's an enormous, terrifying, overwhelming place to be in. And just like Juno, I was a "good girl" (although, unlike her, my boyfriend was a loser that I would have been much better off without). It shocked just about everyone, I think, who heard about me. It shocked the hell out of me, that's for sure. Looking back, I don't know why I was so surprised; I don't know how I had convinced myself that I wouldn't get pregnant. Hello ... unprotected sex = pregnancy ... duh! (It also equals STDs, and I can say that it is only by the grace of God that pregnant was all I got.)

Juno experiences that same feeling, that shock of, "Oh my God, it's not real, it's not real, that's not a plus sign, it's not real, oh my God, no no no nononononoooooooooooooooooo!" But she gets past it pretty quickly and decides on abortion with relative ease. When that option becomes unacceptable to her, she grabs onto adoption and holds it with both hands, no looking back.

I was very much the same. I considered abortion, but never very seriously. I don't know why, honestly, because obviously I didn't have extremely high morals at that point. But I just couldn't do it. Oddly enough -- or maybe not so much -- keeping the baby was also never a serious consideration. It just wasn't going to happen. That pretty much left me with adoption.

Just like Juno, once I settled on adoption, there was no going back. From the moment I chose my child's adoptive family (and my first choice was *it*), the baby was no longer mine. I was just growing it for this lovely couple that couldn't grow their own child. I gave birth a month after I turned 17, and I never once regretted that I didn't leave the hospital with a baby girl in my arms. She wasn't mine. I could never give her what she needed. She already had parents, two wonderful people, and my place was only to say goodbye and walk away.

You have no idea how many people thought I was being cruel to "give away" my child. *I* had no idea that my choice was going to be regarded with such scorn. Honestly, the mindset of most of the people in my life was that keeping the baby, finishing high school through a continuation program, going on welfare, and letting my parents raise my child was perfectly acceptable. Or Jesus, go get a quick abortion, because even that would be better than "abandoning" my baby at birth. I was stunned at the number of people who honestly believed I was making the wrong choice, not only a bad one, but a horrible, heartless one.

I can say now, with complete certitude, those people are ignorant jackasses.

I do, however, have to allow them a bit of slack. You see, society, for all it's advances, is still in the dark ages in regards to adoption. I don't know why, but considering the fact that adoptions themselves have changed quite a bit, it's amazing to me that society still regards adoption as the least-favorable, most difficult, often worst choice for a young pregnant woman and her child.

I don't understand.

I don't understand why it is considered easier to get an abortion, when it has been proven that so many women who have abortions often have psychological fall-out for years afterward.

I don't understand why it is less of a stigma to rid yourself of an unwanted child than it is to carry that child to term.

I don't understand why anyone would feel it is better to stop a life before it starts than let a child be raised by someone other than the biological parents.

I don't understand why anyone believes giving a child to an adoptive family is wrong and cruel; that life with biological parents is always the best option, even when that life includes things like welfare and food stamps, never feeling equal to your peers because your are so poor, watching your mom work two or three jobs to pay the bills because she dropped out of school after she had you, and knowing your dad took off before you were born because being a teenage father wasn't part of his life's plans.

I don't understand.

For those of you thinking I must be exaggerating, that everyone knows giving a child up for adoption is selfless and wonderful, think again. I had every one of these things and more said directly to my face.

Then, of course, there are the women who think they really are doing the right thing by encouraging (or pushing, or demanding) the pregnant girl to get an abortion. They say, "Well, *I* couldn't go through with adoption, that would be too hard, so this teenage girl certainly shouldn't have to shoulder that burden," when in reality, they have no idea what choice would be the most burdensome to the girl. Encouraging an abortion just because *you* think it's easiest is beyond absurd. Who are you to decide what is going to weigh on her conscience 1, 10, 20, 50 years from now? Who are you to decide what's *easiest* for someone else?

And please, do NOT spew that rhetoric at me about adoptive children missing a piece of themselves, or feeling abandoned, or wishing they'd never been born. Ever heard of open adoption? Look it up. Open adoption wipes out the issues caused by old-school adoption, when the child could, and often did, have unanswered questions about his/her bio parents. Plus, for the birth parents, open adoption offers so much flexibility. You choose from "I'll tell you everything you need to know, contact me if an issue comes up, but I don't want updates on the child" to pictures and letters to actual visitation (which is what I have). The pregnant mom gets to decide what her comfort level is, then she chooses a couple who agree and are comfortable with the same.

Do all teenage pregnancies end in a life cycle of poverty and parent-absenteeism? No, of course not. But statistically, that is a very common result - actually, the most common result. Do all adoptions, especially in regards to open adoption terms, work out as wonderfully as mine did? Again, no, of course not. Adoption isn't a guarantee of a perfect life. It's a chance. Sometimes it's the *only* chance a child gets.

Is it easy? Hell, no. Giving a child up is never easy. But it doesn't have to be as difficult as it once was. If more people would research and actually *learn* about adoption, I believe it would become more acceptable to society as a whole. In today's world, adoption falls into a wicked catch-22. It's not a common choice, so people don't know much about it. People don't know much about it, so they don't consider it as an option. People don't consider it as an option, so it's not a common choice.

See the cycle?

More people than I care to count told me that, "Once your baby is born and you hold it, you will change your mind. After all, that baby is your own flesh and blood." Um, no. I chose my child's family when I was four months along, and I never wavered. I never even thought "what if". Because, you see, I love her. I love her with all my heart. I love her so much, I couldn't keep her. I couldn't do that to her.

And you know what? I made the right decision. My baby girl has the perfect family who loves her more than anything, and a life that is so much better than whatever I could have cobbled together for her. Do I miss her? Of course. She *is* my flesh and blood, and there will always be ties between us.

Sure, I've wondered over the years what it would have been like if I had decided differently, or changed my mind as so many thought I would. It's been hard at times, knowing that my firstborn was growing up somewhere else, somewhere that I wasn't. But my daughter has a mom, and it's not me, and she is more lucky for that than she knows. She also has her dad, her sister, her grandparents. Her aunts, uncles, and cousins. She has her parent's friends, the ones who are so close they are just like family. And she also has me. She has my husband, who loves her deeply. She has my children, who adore their big sister. She has my parents, my brother, my best friends. She has the biggest family of any child I know. She is surrounded by love.

That's the beauty, and perfection, of adoption.