Monday, September 29, 2014

Little Happies - Health, A Live Wire & 'Simmon Spittin'

Linking up with Stephanie for my first Little Happies!

Health!   I'm feeling so much better after a week of feeling miserable.  I don't think it was the flu because everyone tells me that lasts more than a few days. Nevertheless, there's nothing quite like being knocked down for a few days to remind me of how blessed I am each day that I can get out of bed.   It didn't hurt for me to eat a bit of humble-pie, either, and see that the world really does keep turning even when I'm not around.

Having a husband who can handle things when I am down and out.  And after this past week, having a husband at all!    We had a "close call" with Tom this past week.  He was replacing an electrical outlet and somehow, despite taking precautions, he got hit by a pretty good volt.   I was not at home at the time but according to Tom, the boys saw him hit the floor and came running to his rescue. He said the conversation went like this:
John:  Daddy, are you okay?  
Tom:  I'm okay.   I got electrocuted.
John:  It's okay, Dad.  If you died, you would've gone to heaven.

Thankfully, nobody was going to heaven just yet!  We have a new rule in the house now: no electrical work when the other adult is gone.  On this feast of the archangels, I'm particularly grateful for the angels that were watching over my Tom.

Kids who make us laugh.  This morning, I took the boys to a nearby scenic overlook so that they could burn off some energy and get some fresh air. They road their tricycles, examined spider webs, tossed walnuts around and sucked on fallen persimmons.  While we were there, an elderly lady, looking quite somber, walked up to the overlook and the boys immediately launched into telling her stories.  I think she was dumbfounded as they excitedly shared all their adventures with her, complete with Joah giving her an overly-enthusiastic demonstration of how to spit out persimmon seeds and John explaining that "the 'possums will come eat the seeds".   I guess it was kind of one of those "you had to be there" moments but it had me in stitches.   It took a while, but before too long, they had that lady laughing too, and picking up persimmons with them.   I bet she won't forget that moment anytime soon.  I know I won't.

Happy Monday to all!  Thank you, Stephanie.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Just When You Think You Are Getting Ahead... get the flu.

Well, I'm not sure it's the flu, since I haven't actually been to a doctor and had any tests done.  But dang, it sure feels like it could be although Tom insists it isn't.  Fever, chills, sore throat, congestion...all close enough for me.

Let's just say I can be a bit of a wimp.

And of course, I don't have time for this.  Who ever does, right?   I keep re-playing the litany of things I was going to do starting this past Saturday over and over in my head.   Ten pages of questions to answer for an adoption home study, four new dance routines to learn before next Saturday's performance, doctor appointments to make to (love the irony!) get flu shots, music with Tom and the boys on Saturday afternoon, baking a pie on Sunday, etc.   All of that and more now safe and secure on the back-burner.

But now I have another litany that I am playing in my head.  It's the list of everything Tom has done while I've spent the past two days being mostly useless.   Dress the kids, brush their hair, make their breakfast, clean up cheerios, referee a hundred squabbles over who gets to play with which toys, hang up laundry, make lunches, coax grumpy kids into naps, wash dishes, make supper, go to the playground, give baths, etc.   All of that and more while he still keeps me safe and secure and ever on his front-burner.

Maybe getting side-lined for a few days is just the wake-up call I needed. Because tonight, as another day in bed draws to a close, all I can really think about is how blessed I am to have a husband like him.  
And that is the medicine that I really needed.

Friday, September 12, 2014

7 Quick Takes - A Natural Remedy

Seems like a lot of bloggers are in a bit of a funk these days, present company not excluded.  The week kind of started that way for us when Tom woke up on Saturday with a sore throat and fever.   He made a quick rebound but not before he missed a much-anticipated airshow that he'd hoped to attend with the boys. Then there was all the stress surrounding this decision, and now, it is already Friday again.  I really believe all this funkiness going around the blogosphere should at least in part be blamed on the full moon we had this past week.  It was gorgeous but also, powerful.  There's a reason the word "lunacy" is derived from the Latin word "luna" and means what it does.   At least, that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it!

Bat trapping site (nets over the water)
So, since this was one of those weeks in which I felt particularly susceptible to lunacy, I spent a considerable amount of time outside.   God gave us the natural world as an antidote to what often ails us mentally and I take full advantage of it often.   This past weekend, I helped with a Bat Blitz and put my biologist cap back on for a couple of nights to help conduct bat surveys.  Unfortunately, we caught very few bats, because, again, full moon.  The moon was so bright that the bats could see the mistnets we put up.  Poor planning on our part, yes, but still, we had fun.  One thing we did catch, however, was a flying squirrel.  They are the cutest little things but not much fun to remove from a mistnet if you value all your fingers.   I allowed my fellow biologist to do those honors since he A) had a pair of heavy leather gloves and B) was getting paid, unlike myself.   Actually, the only flying squirrels I have ever handled were the ones I used to sedate and remove from woodpecker cavities. But that is another story for another day.   Just trust me when I say the little critters have a LOT of attitude!

Flying squirrel.  He was rescued unscathed.
Actually, if I want to see bats, all I need to do is step out my front door and look up.   We have a Big Brown Bat (yes, that's its real name;  Eptesicus fuscus if you prefer the Latin version) roosting over our porch.   The boys love it and I would too if it didn't leave its calling card right in front of our welcome mat.  Still, it's pretty cool to have a pet bat.   He's been here since July and will probably hang around (pun intended) until mid October or so, at which point, he'll meet up with his friends and look for a warmer abode, which most likely, will be our neighbor's barn.   Then, come spring, he'll probably return to our porch.  I've known folks who have had bats return for years to the same location, and considering bats can live for 20 or 30 years, I guess I might as well get used to him.  Hopefully he will make himself useful by eating a few of the insects that congregate around our porch light at night and dive bomb me every time I try to open the front door.  

Big Brown Spot = Big Brown Bat
Big Brown Bat calling card (aka guano)

So that was pretty much our weekend.  On Monday, we took some time to pick a few marigolds (Mary's gold) and place them at our statue of the blessed mother.  We sang happy birthday to her and said a Hail Mary before the 30-second attention span of our boys wore off.  Our poor statue of the blessed mother has had a rough life, as you can see in the photo.  She's been knocked over by deer, hit by falling limbs, covered with snow and ice, and moved 500 miles but she still stands there steady and strong, watching over us.

We've been getting a lot of rain here this past month, and I am again reminded of what it feels like to live in a temperate rainforest.  The foggy mornings and afternoon showers have created a damp forest filled with mushrooms of every shape, size and color.  We found these in our front yard this past week. I wish I knew what they are called and am adding "learn mushrooms" to my bucket list because I just am amazed by their diversity.

And where there are toadstools, there must be toads, right?  We found two, one of the yellow and one of the brown variety.  

American Toad, brown color phase.
American Toad, yellow color phase.

Now is also when all of the late summer wildflowers are blooming in our meadow and putting on quite a show.  

Purple Ironweed

There are about a million kinds of asters so, unlike "learn mushrooms", "learn asters" will never make it onto my bucket list.  However, I do appreciate their delicate structure and beauty.

Some kind of aster.
The walnut trees are dropping their leaves, making them one of the first species of trees in the south to do so, and adding to the yellow hues along our lane.  I have particularly enjoyed running in the mornings amid their falling gold leaves, although the occasional gray squirrel chucking a walnut at me as I pass under him does keep me from getting too lost in the moment!

And who could overlook the bright fuscia of the fruit of the big leaf magnolia tree and the strawberry bush!  In the mountains, strawberry bush also goes by the name "hearts a-bustin' with love".  Well named, don't you think?

Strawberry Bush
Big Leaf Magnolia

With all signs now pointing toward autumn, the cool weather we are expecting this weekend will only add to the anticipation.   If any of you go by the woolly worm forecast, and are not quite ready for another winter like last year, you'll be happy to know that the woolly worm that the boys and I found this past week indicated that we are in for a mild winter.   You heard it here first folks!  The woolly worm is as good a predictor as anything I know, although I haven't yet checked the persimmon seeds to see if they are forecasting the same.

All of this is just to say that, if like me, you've been in a bit of a funk lately, I hope you take some time to get outside soon and enjoy the creation that God gave us during what is a season of beautiful transition. Just a small corner of His world is bigger and more complex than all of ours and taking the time to notice it is one of the best cures for lunacy I know.

Shirt and shoes required.  Pants optional.

Have a great weekend and thanks to Jen for hosting this Quick Takes!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Harder and Harder

We withdrew our application to adopt with Catholic Charities today.

And it broke our hearts.

It's not supposed to be this way, you know.  Adoption isn't supposed to be so hard. Adopting domestically especially should not be so hard.   Adopting as Catholics working with a Catholic agency, in particular, should not be so hard.

My great-grandmother was adopted.  In those days, if a parent couldn't care for their child, they or others looked for a family they trusted and gave that child to them.  A trip to the county courthouse a few weeks or months later sealed the deal.   Or in my great-grandmother's case, the deal was never made official.  She just lived with another family as their daughter for the rest of her life and took their name. The family cared for her and raised her as their own and until death, she loved them dearly.

I'm not advocating that we return to those days.  Of course not.  I'm certainly understanding of the need for background checks, family histories, tests for communicable diseases, inspections of the home environment, and even, to some degree, the financing of birthmothers' expenses and payments that support agencies who assist couples trying to navigate the adoption process.   All of this is necessary today and understandable.

However, I do not understand why a process that is already fraught with red tape as well as emotional and financial stress, that takes months to complete followed often by years of waiting, why do we make it even harder?

We withdrew our application because it was getting too hard.  Harder than it needed to be.  Harder than, in our opinion, it should be.   We withdrew because someone decided that before a couple completes a home study (and all that involves), it would be "good" for them to attend mandatory trainings for six weeks.  Even if the trainings are located 100 miles away from their home. Even if the trainings require couples with children to find childcare.  Even if the trainings require the couple to take time off work.  Even if the trainings are only offered once or twice a year.  Even if the couple has already been through the adoption process before.

We tried to get on-board.  We really did.   We arranged the child care.  My husband informed his employer that he would not be able to take any business-related trips for the next six weeks, and his employer graciously understood and agreed.   We tried to figure out a way for my husband to make up the hours of work that he would be losing in order to attend the mandatory trainings.  He'd have to work on weekends, or late into the night.  We would be leaving in early afternoons and getting home after our boys were already tucked into their beds, hopefully sound asleep, but without their nightly ritual of bath, story, prayers. We ordered the two books we were required to read, one about open adoption and one about transracial adoption, and read the first 55 pages required before the first meeting.  We burned the midnight oil as we each wrote up our responses to the 22 questions (plus subparts) that the agency asked us to address for our "social history".

In the end, we realized that it just wasn't going to work.   It was too much for us to agree to.   So, we are back to the beginning again.   After already having started this process once before, in November 2012, we are back to square one again.

We will find another agency, but it will not be the one we wanted.  We wanted to work with Catholic Charities because we are Catholic.  We love our Church and when we decided to adopt again, we wanted to do so within our Church, and we were happy to put our finances and time into supporting our Church in that manner, even though we knew our odds of getting a baby were better if we went elsewhere.

And so, I will end where I began, by just asking, why do we have to make this harder than it already is?  What is really necessary for a couple to be ready to adopt?  Is it 6 hours of videos followed by 3 hours of discussion?  Is it completing 10 hours of required reading about transracial and open adoption?   Is it attending 8 hours of parenting classes?    All of this is well and good, but when it gets to the point that these requirements become discouraging, instead of encouraging, to couples pursuing adoption, I think adoption agencies may have missed the bigger point.  I think maybe they have forgotten that what is really required can not be found in a book, or a video, or a support group, or a classroom exercise.

My great-grandmother was adopted by a minister and his wife who were older in age and known throughout the community as "barren" because they had no children of their own despite years of marriage.  They were known to be good-hearted people, hard workers, devout Christians, and financially stable because he got a small stipend each month for his service in the Civil War.   And so, when a small girl was found abandoned at a train station by her mother, it was to them that the child was taken.  Because they met all the requirements.  
And as a result, here I am today.
Just trying to meet all the requirements, too.