Saturday, August 30, 2008

Week 5: Finished

I mailed off adoption paperwork yesterday. The final time line was a month and six days. Our home study is scheduled for next Sunday.

And for any potential adoptive parents reading this blog, here are things I would've done differently:

The first things I would do would be to schedule background checks, the doctor's visits, and the HIV test. It's easier to start with the essays, but those things should be scheduled first because they took the longest.

And I would hound my husband a little more about paperwork. :)

We could've shaved a week or two off our paperwork time if I'd done that.

And today we are finishing our front porch project. I'll have pics later.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Earning Potential

Strange realization...
Today at work it is slow. I decided to browse and see jobs and potential salaries for my hubby for when he gets his Master's and his additional certifications. Unfortunately, the human services field isn't exactly generous with monetary dividends. Guess they think you can live off all the warm fuzzy feelings you get from preventing suicides and taking beaten babies out of homes. Not that the salaries will leave us destitute...but I was surprised that even at large hospitals and institutions in big cities, the salaries aren't much different than here.

And then...just for fun...I typed in my current job. So at this very moment, I make more than my hubby. But when he graduates in December that will probably all change. Or so I thought. If I wanted to continue with this career, and if I wanted to move somewhere big, agencies and corporations are offering salaries in the high five figures for my current level of experience. And a couple more years experience? Six figures. Especially with my background in technology, website coding, and technical writing. Six figures.

Holy crap. (Pardon the French).

It's a weird feeling. It's a confusing feeling in my gut right now. I think here are some reasons why. Please don't judge. These are just the thoughts running through my head in no particular order:

I am not worth that much. I am just a little Idaho girl. The job I do is so fun and so easy. I already feel I make more than I should.

If I can make that much, should I? Justin could be the stay-at-home parent on that salary. Or not. Really, what's so bad about daycare?

How would my husband feel knowing I had significantly more earning potential than him? I have less education. We've been doing it for a few years, and we've never had an issue with it, but I think we both thought those days would be long gone after he got his Master's. Both of us are fairly conservative and traditional--we would both be ok with this scenario?

Why am I even worrying about this? It's not like I'm actively looking for a different job. I LOVE my job here. Justin's still in school. Nothing's going to change.

But if I can make that much money, why not go for it?

I could have a really cool job in a really cool city. Like some powerful, attractive, and sexy-yet-appropriate character in the movies.

WOW! That could be me!

We could have Justin's student loans paid off in no time!

Is a six figure salary in New York really that much? What's the exchange rate from Idaho money to New York money?

But I want to be a stay at home mom. Why do I suddenly feel somehow obligated to chase after all this money and these dream jobs?

It's all confusing. And nothing's happening! I don't need it to be confusing. But the fact is--knowledge changes things. No matter if we do something--or nothing--I'll always know, always wonder.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Good Brown Gravy

I am a gravy moron. I can't make it. My mother has taught me how on numerous occassions, but I just can't get it right. I can make roast--delicious, tender, juicy roast--but not gravy. The main problem I have is that there is never enough drippings left from the roast/turkey/chicken to make the gravy. I know what to do with the drippings, but I just never seem to get them. So I am asking any readers for suggestions.

I made a roast Sunday for my in-laws. The meat, carrots, and potatoes turned out lovely. But not a tablespoon of juice was left in the bottom of the pan. So I desperately tried to make gravy from random things in my house. I used a glass of water, a can of Pepsi, a dash of worchestershire sauce, a few tablespoons of consumme soup, salt, and flour for thickening. It worked, but it was a little sweet. It didn't complement the meat the way gravy from the drippings does. So if anyone has any fabulous "from-scratch" gravy ideas or ideas on how to get more drippings from the meat, PLEASE SHARE!!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Week 4/5

So we are just about to week 5, aren't we? Boise was great. The class was really interesting and we learned a lot. I think most people go into adoption with faith and naivete. There's a common belief regarding adoption is that "love is all it takes." Not true. Our counselors teaching the seminar gently introduced us to all the pain, confusion, and obstacles that are just a package deal with adoption. The shine is definitely off the apple.

But the good news is...none of it changed our minds. We are just more prepared. We are more affirmed in our decisions to 1) pursue a domestic infant adoption and 2) have an open adoption. A lot of people (mostly those of a previous generation) believe that open adoptions are crazy and the best way to do things is to seal all records and throw away the key. Just a bit of a soap box: adoption is a scarring and damaging process. There is no way around it. Compared to the "assimilation" adoptions of the 60's and 70's, the semi- and fully-open adoptions of today are much healthier for all parties involved.

Feel free to have your own opions, but please realize that we have fully researched both adoptions and we truly, really, honestly feel that having an open adoption is best. We WANT an open adoption. It's not just something we're doing to get a baby faster. We WANT it for us, for our child's sanity and identity, and for the mother who is giving us such a monumental sacrifice.

Another interesting thing about the class in Boise. We were the only couple there doing domestic infant adoption. And we were the only childless/infertile couple. We thought we'd be able to network and bond with other couples going through the same thing, but not quite. All the other couples had children and were adopting internationally.

We had this exact cheesecake. It is to die for!

We stayed at the Hyatt. Such a nice hotel. Very luxe. I was sad that it was only for one night. We ate at The Cheesecake Factory on Friday. My meal ended up being too spicy, and the waitress was so kind to bring me a different entree without any fuss or making me feel guilty. We knew we were going to give her a big tip. We got our cheesecake to go, and when she handed over our bag, Justin gave her $15. We then realized that we didn't have any forks to take with us to the hotel to have our cheesecake. The restaurant was closing and it was hard to find any staff. So, being desperate, I just plopped in a metal fork. "With that tip, we paid for it," I said. Then just as we were getting ready to go, the waitress came up, saying she hadn't given us a plastic fork. I tried to take it from her, but she was quicker and opened our to-go bag and plopped it in--right on top of the metal fork. She didn't make a big deal out of it, just said "I'll take this one" and retrieved the metal fork. I was so embarassed to get caught attempting to steal a metal fork. Please believe me when I say that when she brought the plastic fork, I fully intended to put the metal one back. And now I'll never return to the Boise Cheesecake Factory because I am a fork stealer and everyone knows it.

On Saturday we ate at Joe's Crab Shack--our favorite restaurant in Boise. It's kind of become a tradition for us. We drove home that night. I had a couple crazy days at home, then headed off for my company's convention in Salt Lake City. That was brutal. I hate convention. I dread this week all year. Our shifts were--not exaggerating--7 a.m. to midnight. On your feet the whole time. In nylons. In HEELS. Oh the pain!!!! So that was Wednesday through Saturday. Justin was intending on mailing the adoption papers in while I was gone, but alas, that didn't happen. His parents ended up coming for a visit on Friday and just left today. So he needs to finish up his resume/work history and that's it. Then we have EVERYTHING! All letters of recommendation! All background checks! All of EVERYTHING! Whoohoo!

(On a side note about work: last week, I was called down to Human Resources to discuss my proposal. The company has no intentions of altering their current benefit plan. However, they choose to offer certain forms of assistance to people who request it. While they have requested I keep it confidential, they are offering me a certain amount of aid. I am happy that I am able to get assistance and I am happy that I did it my way. Though I wish the end result would've been a permanent change in benefits, I won't deny my gratitude for their help.)

Justin is on call this week. About once a month he does on call service for Child Protection Services. One week of being on call is $500 extra, but it's a lot of hard work. He's been picking up extra shifts for adoption money, but he emotionally and physically can't handle it more than once every four or five weeks. First of all, there is no such thing as a good night's sleep (he got a call at 2:30 this morning from someone wanting to change their afternoon appointment. What are they thinking?). And then there is the really draining part of having to actually respond to emergencies. We were at the baseball game tonight when Justin got called in on a case of an infant with a fractured skull. This baby is alive and is being life-flighted to Salt Lake (in July he responded to a case of a 2 month old being beaten to death by the father). These situations are literally, physically nauseating. I am sure they have a violently potent effect on anyone involved, but it just really feels like a sucker punch to me because I can't have children. And here these people are abusing and killing their babies. There's nothing fair about it.

But, I am proud of the work Justin does. It's hard. He tells me how hard it is to assess and interview these parents--these murderers--and keep calm. How hard it is to not physically do to them what they have just done to their innocent, helpless child. He is stronger than I would be, because it's all for the children. It's not about justice, it's about the children. He's still at the hospital now.

Other craziness in the household--Justin started school yesterday. First day of the last semester. Maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I haven't had a weekend to myself in...hmmm...maybe a month. My good friend and colleague Jessica had her last day of work today. She is headed to BYU for her master's degree. I learned that the wife of my friend and former supervisor, Cameron, has cancer. My zucchini is ripe and beautiful. Justin's glassed broke in half in the middle of church. The weather was downright chilly today. And the Chukars lost their game tonight.

So I am sending out love to all those who need it tonight, for many, many different reasons.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Week 3: Almost there....

So you may have noticed I renumberd my weeks in my adoption timeline. Before, I had labeled the very first day as week one, and then I decided that I would call that week zero and that week one should be labeled after the first seven days were completed. So, now we are at week three...this means that it has been 21 days since we put our application in the mail.

Our paperwork is 90% complete. We have four of our six letters of recommendation. We got a message from our doctor's office today saying our HIV tests and medical forms are ready to be picked up. On a side note, we are both HIV negative. I *knew* we would be, but it's the first time I've ever been officially tested for it--though we both have donated blood with no problems. And it's a little unnerving. I couldn't help but wonder what if. Maybe my dentist had a cut on his finger...Or maybe the virus mutated and is now airborne. Anyway...silly paranoia. We're fine. Back to the story.

So for our background checks, we thought we'd have an easy in because Justin knows some people at the state building. Well, that connection didn't pan out the way we thought it would and we had to go through the same process as everyone else with the same waiting period. When we went to schedule our fingerprinting appointment, the soonest appointments were three weeks out. Yikes! I was upset. But then, I was smart. I checked the availability of surrounding towns and saw that a town about an hour south of us was pretty wide open. So we scheduled fingerprinting for today. Justin and my appointments were back to back. So we both snuck away from work and drove an hour to get our prints done. As luck has it, I was running behind getting away from work. My empty light came on and I had to stop for gas. And I messed up reading the directions to the state building. All those delays added up and despite Justin's seamless and very speedy driving, I was about ten minutes late to my appointment. And that was ten minutes too late. They wouldn't take us both at that point. Justin's schedule is a little more flexible than mine so I went ahead and had my fingerprinting done. It is neat that it's all done digitally now, so I didn't have to get messy ink all over my digits. It took all of five minutes and even though my fingerprinting only went five minutes into Justin's appointment, they flat out refused to do his as well (and weren't very nice about it either). But they did let us know that one of their workers is going to our town next week to help out since they are so backed up. So we have a heads up so Justin can make an appointment here locally tomorrow morning as soon as those appointments show up in the system. I was upset though. All the little delays were my fault and I was in tears the whole way home. (Another side note--I've been uber emotional lately. It must be the Lupron/menopause thing.)

One more background check and one more letter of recommendation. I think we are right on schedule to have our home study done at the end of August. Hopefully, our house will be ready by then. We've been working on getting the basement clean and organized and it alway seems like the mess gets worse before it gets better.

Tomorrow we are headed to Boise for the weekend where we will attend a mandatory adoption training seminar at our agency's headquarters. We're looking forward to celebrating at Joe's Crab Shack. Celebrating what, you might ask. Well let me tell you. Tuesday was a good day. First, I booked our hotel in Boise through First time I've ever used the whole "name your own price" thingy. We got a room at the Hyatt for $55. Normally $90. So I was happy about that. And then as I was wandering the halls at work, I was nabbed by the VP of Administration (the lady I addressed my proposal to) and pulled into her office. Basically, it's a secret, but my company will not be changing their benefits policy. However, like I had heard rumblings of, they do help good employees who ask and they are offering a generous amount of assistance to me. We are thrilled. Even though it would be great if they changed their benefits policy, I am happy that I still was brave enough to ask them even when the marketing VP thought it was a bad idea. I was true to myself and I am receiving a personal blessing for bravery.

So, I need to pack tonight so we can leave for the state capitol tomorrow. I can hardly keep my eyes open and I am not even sure this post is coherent.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Summer Camping

We've had a lot of fun camping this summer. My parents purchased a new/used camper trailer and headed up to their favorite spots in Island Park. All my siblings (except Brad) have made it up to visit for a weekend or two. Justin and I had a weekend all to ourselves then also went up with Julie, Aaron, and Camden, and Jordan and Afton. We drove up to Sawtelle Peak for the first time ever, canoed down Big Springs river, visited the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana, and ate at a restaurant that made no small matter of their dislike for customer service. We especially remember the cardgame by lantern-light when Afton couldn't get why everyone was so bothered by the swarming moths. "They're only butterflies," she kept saying. Dad entertained himself (and the rest of us) by trying to start fights between the bugs and then throwing them into the hot wax of the citronella candles. Fun memories.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Week 2: Doctors and Such

Well, I'm a few days late of the "week 3" deadline. So this last week we've been getting people to write our letters of recommendation. We have one of six back (thanks Mike and Deatte!). We went to the doctor on Tuesday for his approval. He has been my family's doctor forever. He even delivered me. He always asks about my parents by name and he remembers a lot of details. Although...he is always under the impression that either my sister is a concert pianist. So not true. I get tired of correcting him so I just play along and say that she doesn't play professionally any more. Weird.

Our dear caseworker Claire let us know that as soon as we are done with our essays we can turn those into her so she can review them while we wait for things like background checks and HIV test results, so that is really cool. She has assured me the homestudy won't be that big of a deal--we don't need to overhaul our lives our install a home security system or anything crazy. But I think it's just a trick. I still continue to fully stress out over it.

On a side note, my BFF from my childhood cut her hair. I haven't seen it this "short" since sixth grade. Take a look.


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