We were the closest family possible. Our world was turned upside down on 05/03/09 when my best friend, the person I love most next only to our children, my sister Trina was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. Her body gave out on her on 01/09/10 but she will ALWAYS be a part of our daily life and will continue to be in my posts. I started my blog to chronicle our daughter's international adoption from Guatemala and have continued to use it as a journal.

What you will find is my family trying to adapt to our new lives that were handed to us.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Falling Down

Fall is full of emotional landmines. October is especially difficult. No matter how gingerly I step around the dates, the explosions still go off.

October 9. My grandpa's birthday. My grandpa died 15 years ago in May. I went into a tailspin after his death. It was what prompted me into therapy. I have fought off tears all day today.

October 14. Beya and Papa leave for a week for California. I don't know how I'm going to make it for a week without my rock. I'm dreading this so much.

October 26. Aviana died. My heart goes out to Jen and her family every day but extra hard on the 26th. Avi was such a special little girl and I will be forever grateful that I got to know her and her amazing family but wish like hell we never had to meet them.

October 28. My birthday is always difficult without sissy but this year is even worse.I am turning 40. I lost it when I was discussing this with my therapist earlier this week. I hate crying but fell into a puddle of tears when mom brought up this topic. Trina died when she was 40. She was so sick on her birthday. She had a special birthday treat of having a chemo treatment on her birthday. I, on the other hand, am healthy. I'm inching ever closer to the date of when I will be older than my sister. That should never happen.

October 31. Halloween. The memories of Trina's last Halloween are engraved in my mind and no matter how hard I try I cannot scrub them away.

November brings along it's own landmines but for now I'm just trying to navigate through October. And yet through it all we find time to laugh and live and love. Always love. Dr. B, my therapist, said as long as love comes through everything else will fall into place. I'm holding tight to that and doing my best to just love. It is impossible to love my little family more than I already do and I love my friends that are my chosen family.

I'm very grateful for my life and the life of my family. Together we love through it all.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Almost 40 Things At Almost 40

I'm two months away from turning 40. In my mind I'm perpetually 34. I was 34 when sissy died, that is when she stopped aging which naturally to me meant that I stopped aging too. It is incomprehensible that I could continue living without her, ergo I don't get older since she can't.

Obviously that isn't true and I am encroaching 40.


First off, I hate it when people complain about getting older. APPRECIATE IT!!!! Far too many people don't get the great gift of getting older.

That's not to say that things don't change as you age. They do. In fact I've compiled a list of almost 40 things I'm discovering/learned in my almost 40 years.

1. My hair is thinning. Nobody tells you that your hair changes as you age. It does.

2. My kids don't like me. Maybe it's just their age (almost 11 and 8) but a lot of the time they just don't like me

3. Despite #2, the kids are my friends. I love having conversations with them about life, about playing, about everything. Even the hard conversations like the facts of life, cancer and death. We have a real relationship.

4. My kids DO love me. Sometimes they just plain don't like me.

5. Somewhere along the way I've turning into my parents. I think that's a great thing.

6. Somewhere along the way my parents turned into my best friends. I think that's a great thing.

7. I have realized a lot of the hard decisions and sacrifices my parents made while raising us. Thanking them daily doesn't even come close to making up for the sleepless nights and ache I caused them.

8. My metabolism has slowed. Way down.

9. My skin changed. Sissy always told me what beautiful, young skin I had. I didn't understand at the time that it would change into papery thin wrinkled skin that doesn't bounce back when I pinch it.

10. My body droops.

11. I don't really care that my body droops.

12. I'm not that insane, jealous, paranoid wife I was in my 20's.

13. I am proud of the things I've done and what I've lived through in my almost 40 years. I realize I'm so much stronger than I ever thought I could be and I'm living through things I never thought possible.

14. I have to watch "60 Minutes" Sunday nights at 7 pm.

15. I have gone from watching "VH1 Morning Videos" to "CBS This Morning".

16. "Back to School" day is a holiday worthy of celebrating.

17. My priorities have shifted. This started about 10 years ago (when Asa was born) but more and more I'm realizing there is a finite amount of time and energy I have and the people I use it on are extremely important to me.

18. Marriage is a hard accomplishment that never stops needing work. Norm and I have been together 21 years. We have both been at points where we've wanted to throw in the towel but we kept going and working and I'm very grateful for the strides we've made.

19. I don't want to got back to my 20's. Never.

20. I can relate to a lot of the "Remember When....." quizzes on Facebook.

21. The music I partied to is now on the Classic Rock stations. ACK!

22. Eyesight DOES go bad. Even with my contacts and glasses I still have a hard time seeing clearly.

23. I have more doctors in my contacts than I have friends. I'm ok with that.

24. Therapy is a tool to help me deal with these almost 40 things.

25. Despite #17 and my dwindling group of family/friends, I have to do dreaded play dates. These are often with parents I can't stand. The books never talk about how hellish play dates are. Hell.

26. I still own what plays in the car. When the kids get a license then they have earned the right to change the song.

27. I know grown people who were born the year I graduated high school.

28. Older people suddenly seem much younger.

29. Fifty doesn't seem old and when I hear that someone in their 70's died I think "oh, they were young." I'm sure this is in some way related to the fact that Papa is 74.

30. The pharmacist knows me by name.

31. I don't care what people think. Really.

32. My kids get older but I don't see myself aging along with them.

33. Friday nights now consist of Family Movie and Pizza Night instead of getting ready to start club hopping at 10 pm. I'm thankful for that change.

34. People call me Ma'am now instead of Miss. It was shocking the first few times it happened, now I've resigned myself to it. Oh, who am I kidding, it's still shocking.

35. Date nights are extremely important to my marriage. Plus they're fun and as cliched as it sounds, it gives Norm and me time to talk about whatever instead of what is going on with the kids at that instant.

36. I try to be more relaxed at everything. Mom has a great way to weed things out. She asks me if it is going to be important in a week. Most of the time it won't matter so I know what to do, or NOT do as the case may be.

37. My memory is shot. I have no memory. I have to take notes all the time because I can't remember things. I think it's a combination of age/medication/bipolar/depression/grief. At least that's what my psychiatrist says. See #23, 24 and 30.

38. Raising kids is a HARD, at times almost impossible, mostly thankless job.

39. I will never stop grieving my sister.

Friday, June 05, 2015


I had a hell of a day yesterday. I was feeling sorry for myself because Asa threw up in my car and I had to clean it out. Normally Beya helps (does it) me out with vomit because I have such an aversion to vomit. I sat down after I cleaned my car and opened People.com to these photos of Joe Biden grieving his son Beau. 

I was instantly put in my place and was unbelievably grateful that vomit in my car was my "problem" of the day.

I was instantly thankful for not feeling like Joe Biden is right now every second of every day.

I was also instantly brought back to when Trina first died. This photo especially brought it home:

The hearse is what did it for me. I'll never forget being at the cemetery for Trina's service when I saw a hearse pull up. My heart instantly dropped and I felt horrible for the poor grieving family that the hearse was there for. It never crossed my mind for several seconds that WE were the poor grieving family the hearse was there for.

Grief is intense. Grief is physically painful. Grief is undeniable. Grief is something that you cannot imagine until you are thrust into the never ending trip that is the loss of someone that you love more than yourself.

My heart aches for Joe Biden and his family. No parent should have to bury one child much less two.

"Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message 'He is Dead'.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good."

-- W.H. Auden

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Yesterday was our second soccer game of the season. Last week we handily beat our opposing team but this week was a different story. Yesterday we played a tough team and at halftime there was still no score. I was sitting next to Beya and two other moms and we were all nervous wrecks. Yes, we take our soccer waaaaay too seriously. After the second half started I discovered there was an asshole dad from the other team standing behind us. He started screaming "encouragement" to the other team. I have rarely wanted to punch someone so badly. Then, as if from a movie, something happened that was so beautiful. Asa made a goal! He cheered himself and as he ran across the field his teammates congratulated him. Asa threw his arms up in relief and pure joy. It was truly an emotional moment. It turned out to be the game winning goal as it was the only goal scored in the entire game. Even better? The asshole jerk shut the fuck up after Asa made the goal!

Soccer is truly a team sport and last week there were six incredible goals scored, none by Asa. But watching Asa make the sole goal of the match, well, chalk it up to a very proud mom moment!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Soccer Season On!

The soccer season started yesterday. We had our first game and I was so stressed leading up to it. Asa has been in a group of 6 players that have been together for about 4 years. They know each other really well. They know each others strengths and weakness. They know what the other player is thinking and where they have to be. This season, however, we needed 18 players. We had 6. What to do? We didn't want to split up the kids and have them each join various teams. What to do? Well we decided to see if one of the other good teams (who had beat us twice last season) wanted to merge and create one super team. Thankfully they agreed and practice started last month. Their team had been playing together for a year or two also. Not bad considering we have to have 11 players on the field at all times. 

So, yesterday was our first game. I was all stressed out. What if our kids weren't as good as I thought they were? What if the other team regretted merging with us? What if we lost? What if they blamed our 6 for losing? What if.....?

We got to the field yesterday and it was BIG! We are playing up in our age group which means the teams we're going against are a year older than us. Our 17 players have only been playing together for a month. Who knows how long the other team had been playing together for. 

Our kids got in place, the whistle blew and the game started. We were off for another soccer season. 

The other team scored a goal. I kept thinking if we could lose by a goal then that would be ok. That wouldn't be as soul crushing as if we lost by a lot. But we were only about 10 minutes into the game and we were already down a goal. We had 50 more minutes to play. The game is separated into two 30 minutes halves. I kept time on my phone and looked at it every 90 seconds or so. 

The next thing I knew is we scored a goal! Great! If we could just TIE the game then our kids will have the boost they need to cement them into one great team. 

Long story short we ended up winning the game 6-2! I did feel bad for the other team because I know what it's like to be on the losing end. Fall season we lost every single one of our games. Half of our team had never played soccer before. We know how badly it hurts to lose by a big margin. 

Our team came together and played great. It was the boost we (I) needed to give us some confidence and realize that merging the two teams was the right call. Granted, we are only one game into the season and I will still be a ball of nerves before every game but this was a wonderful start. 

Good job Asa and teammates!!!! 

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Cannon Beach, Oregon

This past week was Norm's 45th birthday. We hardly ever do anything for his birthday so as a gift to him just he and I went to Cannon Beach, Oregon. We stayed at Schooners Cove for two nights. 

If you've never been there, Cannon Beach is a sleepy little beach town that I love. However, we went during the off season, on a Monday and Tuesday, which means a lot of restaurants were closed until later in the week. The one restaurant I was salivating over and looked so forward to eating at was closed until Wednesday night. I didn't discover that little tidbit until the day before we left. ARGH! Oh well. 

We got into town around noon and walked around a bit then had lunch at a hardware store. Yes, a hardware store. I had read reviews and it seemed to be second only to the one place that I really wanted to go to. So off to the Cannon Beach Hardware and Public House. We were both hungry but didn't want to stuff ourselves so we split an order of fish and chips. 

This was our appetizer. It was a delicious blend of chevre cheese with basil and tomato served with crackers and warm sourdough bread. Oh.My.Gosh. It tasted so good!!!

Our fish and chips. It was halibut, so yummy!!! The order was three pieces so I told the server Norm and I were going to split it. She said she could add an extra piece for $5. Yes please! 

After lunch Norm and I were full but not stuffed. It was just the right amount of full to go and walk through town...again. I love Cannon Beach. The last time we had been there was back in 2007, also for Norm's birthday. How things have changed in 8 years. This is a photo from the last time we were there. 

Anyway, after we got all checked in and relaxed for a bit I told Norm I wanted some candy. There are two candy shops in town so off we went. It was after 5pm so most everything was closed. I mean everything. Stores, restaurants, etc.... Luckily one of the two candy stores was open. We also meandered to the local market to pick up some snacks for the night. 

Garlic toast crisps, goat cheese, champagne, crackers and yes..... jalapeno spam. Hey, we gotta keep it classy! 

Norm and I just relaxed the whole three days we were there and had a nice time together. We got a lot of reading done but by Wednesday morning we were both anxious to get home. We got home just before noon! So all in all we were gone just over 48 hours. 

Happy birthday honey! 

Next vacation? Another beach trip to a different town for spring break but this time all six of us are going :) 

Friday, March 06, 2015

Temple Spa

I have spoken of my love for Temple Spa products in the past but it has been a while. I used the lotion this morning and it reaffirmed my love of the items I already have.  

The shampoo leaves your hair feeling oh so clean but not stripped and dry.

The conditioner smells yummy, tingles and leaves your hair soft and oh so wonderful. I have super dry hair and this conditioner does wonders for it.

Finally, the lotion I have is just luxurious. If I could bathe in this stuff I would. Four and a half hours after I put it on this morning my skin is still supple and smells fresh. 

The first time I placed an order for my Temple Spa products I had to have them shipped from the UK. Thank you Temple Spa, for finally offering your amazing items stateside! 

Now go and order your own Temple Spa and let me know how wonderful it is! 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Happy Birthday Valentina!

Eight years ago today we got "the call". It was one of the happiest days of my life. I'll never forget what a gamut of emotions I went through that day. At first I was happy to have Asa for the day but then I was sad because I didn't have a baby of my own. I was frustrated at waiting for a baby and tired of being patient. I went shopping with sissy and Asa later that day and when I got home I had a message on my voice mail. Our adoption agency was in Boston so I thought for sure I was going to have to wait to get back to them and it was the Friday before a long weekend. When I saw the voice mail I didn't think for one minute that it was going to be "the call". When I called the woman back she broke the news to me. We had opted to not request a boy or girl, we were taking first available which meant our chances were much, much higher for a boy. I planned on a boy. We had a name picked out for a boy. I had the nursery planned for a boy. IT WAS A GIRL! Sissy was convinced we were going to have a girl. She wanted a nice so badly. She couldn't wait to spoil a girl. She couldn't wait to play fashion with a girl. She was so excited to have her girl home. Valentina is very into fashion and has been for a while. I know sissy would have been having a ball with her Vali and they would be scouring fashion magazines, experimenting with clothes, playing dress up.

Eight years ago today, around 3 pm, my life changed forever, for the better.

Thank you Valentina, for being born into our family today.

Our referral photo that we received on 02/16/07

December 2014

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentina's 3rd 8th Birthday Party

Last Saturday Valentina had her "kid" birthday party. Every year I tell the kids they can either have a birthday party and a small gift or they can have lots of money and no party. I've tried to make them realize that birthday parties are expensive and is part of their birthday gift. This year I kind of pushed Valentina into having a small party with her classmates. She is very timid and shy at school and my therapist told me that having play dates the friends that she trusts might help her come out of her shell. The thing is, Valentina is the most confident girl around adults but when it comes to her peers she's almost withdrawn. Since I strongly encouraged her to have a party I told her she could have some extra money but not the full amount I set aside for them. Valentina was fine with that. She picked the theme of Parisian Fashion. The gift boxes she picked out were pretty cute. I didn't get a picture of them but they were filled with necklaces, stickers, a bracelet, blow out and a stuffed poodle. I say this was her 3rd party because we did a small gift exchange on her legal birthday (January 14th), a party with Norm's side of the family after that and then her school party. We're also going to do a few things this weekend since it's her birthday weekend (her celebratory birthday is February 16). 

For her party Valentina chose to invite only her two best friends from school. I know one of them and she is quiet and shy too but Valentina said the other girl she invited is even more withdrawn. I tried to prep Valentina in case neither one of them showed up but she adamant that they would both be here. A half hour after the party was supposed to start nobody had shown up. Valentina ran into my room and cried. It broke my heart and ripped it out. I had told her if she didn't have any guests then I would fill in and eat at the table, play with her and do the crafts we had planned. I stepped in and took over the role of guest and after a while she bucked up a bit. A half hour before the party was scheduled to end one of the girls showed up!!!! We were all happy and relieved. So all in all it turned out to be a good party. We found out later that the other girl who had been invited wasn't able to come because her sister got sick. 

So here are the pictures!

The colors were black, white, pink and gray. I made these poufs out of tissue paper and hung them from the ceiling around the house.

More poufs.

Some of the balloons that were placed around the house.

The table. Valentina set the entire table and chose where to put everything and where everyone was going to sit. There were four settings, one for Valentina, one for each of the girls and one for Asa :)

The cupcake tower.

The birthday girl!

The table again.....

..... and again. I think she did a fabulous job!

The place settings.

Wearing the crown she decorated.

All in all it turned out fine. Tonight we are having pizza (she gets to pick out from where) and watching "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" (she got to pick out the movie). My girl is so special and I'm so thankful for her. I will never forget the day we got "the call" on February 16, 2007. The woman with our adoption agency called me and her exact words were "Well, it's been a long road. You have a baby and it's a girl!" It was one of the happiest days of my life and I'm so thankful for her.

Happy Birthday Valentina!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Field Trip

----Disclaimer: I just want to get this posted so I didn't bother with proof reading this post. I apologize for any grammatical errors and misspelled words.-----

Asa had a field trip last week to the local utilities building. One of the chaperons had to pull out that morning so it was just the teacher and myself herding 20+ fourth graders. The teacher let Asa pick six students to go with him so I was in charge of 7 kids. I'm horrible with names and matching names to people. Horrible. I joke that I forget anything that was told to me more than an hour ago but it really is true. Give me a list of names and try to match them to faces and I'm completely lost. I studied for 5-10 minutes before we left trying to memorize the names and kids I was going to be in charge of. I still managed to screw them up. I've been to a few field trips so I've learned the best way to keep an eye on my kids is to be really bossy. And loud. Basically I'm just myself. I'm proud to say I managed my kids......until the end. I lost a kid. Again. Yes, I this was not a first time occurrence. It was at the end and I was trying to get my kids lined up to leave and get on the bus when I realized I couldn't find the only girl in my group. The teacher asked me if I had everyone and I had to admit that I was short one student. Luckily she hadn't gone far and the teacher was able to find her. It turns out she was just outside the room we were in and she was already lined up, waiting for the rest of us. It wasn't as bad as the other time I lost a kid. We were in a giant science museum and they decided it was time for a fire drill. As we were filing out of the museum I realized I was short one child. I told my teacher and she freaked out. Of course it wasn't helpful that another mom lost one of her kids also. She had lost her own son! After about 10 minutes an employee came out with the two lost kids. Mine was ok, I'm not sure he even knew he had been lost but the other kid was crying, poor thing. So yes, I'm an expert at losing kids at field trips. After all of that Asa told me he thought it was boring. Oh, and one of the kids (not mine) threw up on the bus one the way back to the school. I have a thing about vomit. I hate it. I'm really, really adverse to vomit. Of course Asa always throws up when he's sick. He can have a simple cold and he still vomits.I am lucky in that all I had to do was walk past the spot where the kid hacked up. It was still gross to me.

Plus I have Valentina's field trip coming up to look forward to! Yay! I'll just try not to lose my daughter.

Speaking of Valentina, she had a panic attack last night. My poor daughter has inherited my anxiety. I was always scared of having bio kids for fear of passing on my screwed up mental problems to them. Once I realized we were going to adopt one of the greatest things was thinking about how I was going to have a mentally "normal" child. I knew there might be attachment problems but when you're paper chasing none of that stuff comes into your mind. All you can think about is "this is it! I'm a mom! I want my baby. NOW!" I never once thought that her attachment could manifest itself into anxiety when she was older. Actually I take that back. I know that mental problems are something that you are born with. It is not a nature vs. nurture, it's all nature. Does her attachment have anything to do with her anxiety? It might. Will I ever know? No. All I know for sure is that Valentina has anxiety and gets panic attacks. It just slays me because I know what it is like to have them. I feel so bad for her. Last night her stomach was grumbling and she got scared thinking she was going to get sick. Valentina hates getting sick as much as I hate vomit. I explained to her that it was just her tummy growling (she said she was hungry just before bed but I told her it was too late, I'm such a bad mom but I wasn't going to give her ANOTHER dinner when it was after 9:30 pm) but she was already going off the deep end. She cried and told me she was panicking. I did my best to calm her down but it's horrible watching your child go through something that you know feels crappy. She eventually calmed down enough to go to sleep but it was waaaaay past her bedtime.

So that's about it. That's what we've been up to. Or at least all that I want to talk about right now. I have been inspired to make a dessert for Valentine's Day (thanks Jen) so we'll see if that works out. If it does I'll be sure to post photos of my attempt at dessert. I'm sure it will go great with our dinner.....Papa Murphy's.