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The Baby

Friday, April 30, 2010

The sun shines brightly today

No clouds, no wind

But rain is falling and the mood is heavy

I hear him cry and my heart breaks

My tears fall freely as they did all the months of his life

He's holding my kisses and the angel I placed in his small lifeless hand

He is peaceful now, but we are left with the pain of his demise

When he left he took my heart, my joy and my life

How I want him back for just one more day

To tell him I love him, to kiss him and to smell him

Before placing him back into the safe arms of his Creator


It's MY Phone!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Here's something I just don't understand. Phone calls, specifically incoming phone calls from people that get pissy if I choose not to, or can’t, answer my phone.

Come on, it's my phone! I pay the bill, it's for my convenience. I want to know why some people expect me to answer their phone calls all of the time. They don’t care if I'm in a meeting with a client, on vacation, asleep, or in a doctor's appointment they get all bent out of shape if I don’t answer their call. Then when we're together and I do take a phone call (from one of my KIDS) I get shit for it. What's up with that crap? It's shit I tell you. One hundred percent, pure bullshit!

Also, while I'm having a tantrum about phone calls,  If someone has a number that's blocked or unknown to me why the hell should I be expected to pick up?  All of the people I need to speak to are programmed into my phone book, their name comes up and I answer, if I can. If someone doesn't want me to know who they are, why should I have to answer their call? It's MY freaking phone! Those are the same people that tend to choose not to leave a message and then get snippy because I choose not to answer their anonymous call. Give me a freaking break! If it's that important, leave a effin message you narcissistic moron!

I feel better now. Time for cake


Duct tape or an iPhone?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It was really, I mean really, quiet around our house tonight. There was no arguing, no screaming, no dogs yelping. I heard no crying or anything being thrown. Something had to be up. This just doesn't happen in our house.

Most days I feel like this. Even though I'm a stay at home mom and my kids have never been to daycare.


I was beginning to think that I'd taken one too many Xanex. We crept into the living room not really knowing what to expect. Had the dogs taken revenge? Had the kids locked themselves out on the deck again? Had they all eaten that chicken that's been in the fridge for the last, um, several weeks?
This is what we found:

Ok, there's two.

and another

one more

Jake makes five.

Anna-Grace makes six.

They were in the living room within 15 feet of each other. All were there but Michael who was down in his room doing homework, or what he said was home work. No one was making a sound. I'm grabbing my calendar, this is never going to happen again! Oh wait! I need my iPhone to document this once in a lifetime occasion!

Jeff wasn't too happy though. He was a little more than irritated that every child was on some sort electronic device, even the baby. He gave them the "when I was a kid I was never in the house" lecture.


They looked at me and I gave then the "just roll with it" look. They looked out of the window at the hail coming down and the rain blowing sideways then all 12 eyes were back on their still lecturing father. They knew better than to say a word. They let him finish his rant, said the obligatory "yes sir" and went back to being OUIET!

I know he has a point. But there are days that I only want quiet! I don't care if comes from a roll of duct tape or an iPhone.

There are times around our home when iPods and kids mean a sane mom, and a sane mom doesn't happen everyday.


Motorcycle Thoughts and Royal flushes

Monday, April 26, 2010

I was still curled up, buried beneath my blankets when Jeff came in. We had made plans to ride the motorcycles out to the casino on the beach, have lunch, lose a few quarters and ride home. I really didn't want to go. Jeff did so I pulled myself from my haven, got all leathered up and we roared away. My thoughts on that first leg were typical:

  • I hope the kids take the puppy out
  • It's kinda cold out here
  • I love my bike
  • How much longer?
  • Big heard turns
  • Look through the turns
  • I wonder how much a Mac is?
  • I want to go to Vegas
  • What are we going to have for dinner?
Once there we parked our bikes, de-leathered and made our way into the casino and through the maze of canes, walkers, smokers and oxygen tanks.  I played one of my favorite games for about an hour while Jeff walked around.

Jeff was a compulsive gambler about 40 years ago so he doesn't play much. He found his way outside to enjoy the sunshine while I continued to lose quarters. After about an hour I was done, I found my husband and we had a bit of lunch.

 Note to self: the buffet lunches at tribal casinos are icky at best. There are also icky people with no table manners that have macaroni salad dripping from their gaping mouths. I really need to eat before coming to the casino!

On the way out I asked if Jeff wanted to play a few hands of video poker. We claimed a couple of quarter machines and begin to play. A few hands into my game I pressed the deal button yet again. I think I was in a daze by now.

The first card up was an ace of spades, followed by a king of spades. Next was an off suite card that I can't remember, then came a jack of spades and finally a queen of spades. I stared at the screen for probably 20 seconds before I tapped Jeff on the arm and said "Look at this".

Jeff stared at the machine and stared at me. I froze. I wasn't sure I wanted to press the deal button. After what seemed like an eternity I held my breath and pressed the button praying for the ten of spades. The card was dealt. It was the ten of spades. A royal flush! A freaking royal flush!

I looked at the pay line and said 4000 credits. I'd been playing quarters. I couldn't think. I turned to Jeff and asked "how much is 4000 quarters?"

"Uh, Teri, it's a thousand dollars!"

We watched the red digital counter as it counted out the winnings. As soon as it ended Jeff pressed the cash out button.

"What the hell did you do that for?"

"Teri, we're out of here."

Still in disbelief we walked to the cashier, then I realized he had my ticket.

"Give that back!" I snatched it out of his hand. We cashed out and walked back to our bikes without saying a word.

"You know Teri, that could be part of a down payment on a new 2011 Harley."

"Yeah, I don't think so."

Thoughts on the way home:

  • A royal flush?
  • All spades?
  • That was unbelievable!
  • What ARE we going to do with it?
  • We're not paying bills, that's for sure.
  • Maybe we should put it toward the family vacation in June.
  • A freaking royal flush?!?!
We stopped at a light. Jeff looked over and said "maybe we should put it toward the vacation with the kids."

Dilemma solved. Kids. Vacation. Family time.

It was a good day.


Sumo Wrestler or Jockey?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Never in my life have I ever gone up to someone that is really short and asked  "were you a jockey?"

It's never crossed my mind when I've seen someone overweight to ask "are you a sumo wrestler?"

So why do people I've never met come up to me and say "You're tall, you must have played basketball"?

Etiquette For Dummies           The Complete Idiot's Guide to Etiquette


Thoughts, irritants and LBJ

Irritants of the day:

  • Trying to get my iTunes moved to a new computer. Grrrrr!
  • Trying to potty train a very stubborn Yorkie puppy.
  • My corgi is being a pain in the ass.
  • I can't eat.
  • 12 year old boys can have shitty attitudes.
  • My keyboard is screwed up. The cursor keeps moving and I end up typing in the middle of other words and have to re-do the whole thing.
  • Trying to pay $23,000 in bills with only $21,000
  • Having to take money out of savings again.
  • For some reason today I'm really pissed about being bipolar and having to juggle all these meds trying to find the right combination.
  • My four pound puppy is taking up all of my bed.
  • I'm missing my dad A LOT.
  • Michael's truck needs breaks.
  • My car needs brakes AND new tires!
  • My husband wants to put up a fence and we have massive bills to pay first.
  • Owning a business keeps my pharmacist busy filling my xanex.
  • I saw and promptly remove a gray eye brow today!
Great things about today:

  • Anna-Grace is a normal two year old.
  • Jakob punched a bully in the face.
  • Josiah wanted me to cut a lemon so he could taste it.
  • I feel better than I have in months! I think we may finally have the right cocktail of medications to control my craziness!
  • The eBay guy is going to refund my money.
  • Valium
  • Jeremiah actually helped watch the puppy HE pushed for.
  • I didn't have to cook dinner.
  • My eyelashes have really gotten long, Latisse ROCKS!
Thoughts of the day:
  • Iris
  • Ayden
  • My daughter has to have another surgery. This will be, i think, number 16 in the last five years.
  • Snowbrush reminds me of my dad.
  • LBJ was, in my opinion, a piece of  s#!t, I think I'll post something about that in the next few days.
  • I hope my husband will have coffee with me in the morning
  • I'm glad that my daughter won't be moving to Texas. I need her.
  • Where's my valium? I need to sleep.
  • Hoping that Green-Eyed Momster made it though yesterday ok.
  • I think I want a horse and I think that's a impulsive bipolar thought!
  • I will not let bipolar II or autism get the best of me!
  • I REALLY need more Christian Louboutins, well I guess that's a want. And they should probably come after the fence.
  • Lights out


Autism, Quacks and Cops

Friday, April 23, 2010

We thought we had this parenting thing down. We’ve blended families, adopted infants, adopted older kids and dealt with foster kids from all types of horrible situations. We’ve experienced fetal alcohol effects, cocaine babies, mentally, physically and sexually abused kids. We thought that we had encountered just about everything a parent could and were doing pretty well. Well not so fast Cowgirl!

Our 17 yr old son has autism, high functioning autism at that. You may think “well that’s a good thing” and I know that it is. However, being the horrible parent that I am, there have days when these thoughts from out of the blue pierce my soul. Ok now, here comes the bad mom part, there are times that I’ve secretly wondered that if he had to have autism why he had to be one of the ones that can talk. That’s a terrible confession for a mom to make. But this kid has talked non-stop for 17 years!

When Joshua was born Jeff and I were in the delivery room with the 15 yr old birth mother and her mom. Ya know how sometimes you just have a gut feeling? From the minute I first held him I knew something was wrong. I’m not really sure what it was, but he was different from our other babies.

I took him from doctor to doctor. I was told by one that if I didn’t want the baby that he would take him. If I had I been a first time mom that would have freaked me out. We checked Dr. Pompous Ass off of our list. The next doctor told us that Joshua was too smart for us. Another doctor said that we needed parenting classes. Ok, so I’m getting a little more pissed each time. There’s something wrong with my child and no one will help.

His younger years are a blur of doctors, screeching, poking rabbits with pencils, running…..everywhere on his tippy toes and climbing on everything.  Finally when he was seven we got the diagnosis of autism. Everything made sense! I wasn’t crazy, all those quack doctors were. And boy did I let them know! Had someone diagnosed him earlier he could have gotten into therapy at an early age and maybe, just maybe we could have avoided some issues and he would have had a better life.

Besides having to deal with misinformed “I know better than you do” doctors, I had my husband trying his best to encourage me. “Give it just six more months things will be better” he said almost weekly. When Joshua was about 2 ½ my husband told me again give it six more months. I freaked. I’d been carrying this screaming baby around on my back for 2 ½ years! I was tired and I was frustrated. He screamed, he cried, he ran around like a wild child. We couldn’t take him out to dinner, we couldn’t take him anywhere. The only time he was quiet was when he was in that backpack or asleep, and he didn’t sleep much which meant I didn’t sleep much.

Things got better after the diagnosis, well, sorta. Our kids would laugh about “when Joshua attacks”. When he was a little thing, for no apparent reason, he’d get pissed and leap up off of the floor and in one fell swoop take down whoever the real or imagined offender was. That was bearable when he was smaller, but when he got bigger and stronger, oh buddy we were in for a challenge. Police. Ambulances. Hospitals. More stupid doctors. I just knew we’d end up on an episode of COPS.

I think we’re past that now. We changed his meds, took him off Concerta, changed our tactics with him and found an incredible doctor. She’s calm with him, and reassuring to me. She’s an advocate for him in school and is just an amazing woman. She’s helped change our lives.

Tonight Joshua asked me to help him on his blog. He only can access his blog account, A Sensative Poet, on his iPod touch since he’s not allowed to use the computers here (he takes them apart and all kinds of stuff). I took a picture of him to put in his profile. We tweaked it a little bit and I read some of what he wrote. For a kid that has no idea what homework is his writing is amazing. He writes poems, stories and songs. He draws and his favorite class in school is culinary.

Tonight I was proud of my son. He’s a good boy that really does try to do the right thing, just this little thing called autism, and a bit of teenage rebellion get in the way. Days like today I think that he’ll be ok. Then there are days like last fall when my then 16 yr old took his bed apart to carve swords out of the wood that make me wonder if either of us will survive.


The Bengal, A Cockateil and a Checkbook Box

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I had been sitting in the living room with my broken foot propped on an ottoman. Make-shift ice packs of peas and carrots were placed tightly around my bandaged leg. I was trying to relax and watch a little TV. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse my cat, Bangle, scurry by. She’s an amazingly beautiful cat, a Bengal, with a breathtaking leopard spotted pelt. I know, I know….”Bangle the Bengal” you’re thinking? My husband named her. Enough said.

Her stance was that of a conqueror. Her head was held high. She appeared very proud of her stealthy prowess. Her back was straight and her body was tall. Her jaw was tightly clenched. Out of her lips I saw feathers, bright yellow feathers! She pranced by and stopped in front of me. I knew that she was mocking me. She knew that I couldn’t get up. She knew I couldn’t stop her. Her determined stare penetrated my soul. She had been the victor and she was relishing the moment.

I screamed to my husband "Jeff! Bangle has Nikki's cockatiel! HURRY!” With that she knew she would now be the prey. She was gone in an instant. Jeff came from out of nowhere. “Down the hall!” I screamed. My muscle bound husband sprinted down the hallway. He made it just as the black tip of her tail made it under my bed.

I grabbed my crutches and somehow pulled myself from up from my chair. What I saw when I finally was standing made my heart stop and my blood run cold. There were yellow feathers everywhere. I held my breath remembering the last time one of Nikki's birds met his end in the mouth of one of our cats. Nikki had been out of town. She called everyday to see how Buddy was. I couldn't bring myself to tell her that her Dad left Buddy out of his cage the day after she left town. Jeff had Buddy on the table with him as he worked on blueprints. The door bell rang. Once he got to the door he began chatting it up with the one Nikki calls “the accomplice in Buddy’s murder.” Jeff forgot that he had left the prized pet on the kitchen table. He thought nothing of it when a cat slipped by his foot and into the house.

I walked into the kitchen several minutes later. I froze as I saw an open cage door. I found scattered feathers and a pool of blood on the dining room hardwood floor. We tried to save the ravaged bird; we really did, to no avail. Poor Buddy spent the next two weeks chilling in a checkbook box in the garage freezer. We couldn't bury him until Nikki came home.

The sight of the feathers curling out of Bangle’s smiling mouth petrified me. I got light headed and thousands of thoughts raced through my mind: “poor Nikki”, “I don't want another dead bird in my freezer”, “damn cat!”, “if that bird is dead I’m going to kill that freaking cat!” I envisioned John Walsh posting my picture on “America’s Most Wanted” for cat murder. I was gonna be sick.

Through the haze of thoughts twirling through my mind I heard something. I could hear Jeff wrestling things around. “Oh Holy Mother of God!” I thought, “The cat’s under my bed with a dead, bleeding cockatiel!” The noise stopped. I could hear Jeff lumbering down the hallway. He came back to where I was standing. His jaw was set. His eyes were those of a warrior. He grabbed one of my crutches out from under me which knocked me back into the chair. Without saying a word he turned back to finish his mission. The fight was on.

Sweat began beading up on my forehead. I could hear the recovery continue. A small feather floated by on a wisp air. What were we going to tell her this time? How in the hell did the cage get left open? I began to mentally survey each of the kids' whereabouts. No one was home. Nikki must have left the cage open herself. “Thank God!” No, I mean, “poor Nikki”.

Banging and cursing were coming from the theater of war. I heard Bangle running down the hallway back toward the living room. Feathers were still in her mouth, lots of feathers, huge, bright yellow feathers. It wasn't just one of the cockatiels; it looked like she had been hunting on Sesame Street! Just as the cat ran past my foot, Jeff jumped and landed on her. My 240 lb husband was playing tug of war with a 16 lb cat and I wasn't sure which one was going to win.

There was growling and hissing, cursing and flying feathers. It was a rolling, screeching ball of determination. Suddenly, after a loud yelp, Jeff jumped up triumphant, Bangle's prey in his bleeding hand. He stood there before me. He was covered with sweat, scratches and feathers. His blue eyes pierced mine as he held in front of my face hundreds of big, yellow, wet feathers. It wasn’t moving. “What the hell is it?”I asked. He shook it out. It was the chickadee costume! My oldest daughter had worn it in a dance recital when she was four years old. My cat, killer of chickadee costumes! Thank goodness it wasn't a cockatiel.

Jeff dropped the dead costume in my lap and told me to wait a minute, as If I could go anywhere with a broken foot and only one crutch. When he returned he handed me Bangle's other "catches” he had found in her lair beneath my bed. There was a princess hat with a few purple feathers left on it, the feathered headband that belonged to the chickadee costume and the bare bone of a chicken leg. What a huntress Bangle is, Conqueror of all things inanimate. My heart slowed. I could again breathe. I was glad that both cockatiels lived and, most importantly, I don't have to tell Nikki "he's in the freezer".


She totaled my motorcycle?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I was ecstatic. On the spur of the moment we decided that we would take four days and head out on our Harleys. Jeff was on his Road King and I was on my brand new Heritage Softtail.

First we would ride to Crescent City from Happy Valley and rest up to do the Redwoods. Next we would be on to Santa Rosa and ride the sweeping country roads of the beautiful Napa Valley and Wine Country. Everything was packed. The bikes were washed and ready.

Our first stop was the Harley dealership. Jeff wanted to get some new road glasses and of course I found a shirt that I had to have. We were there a while chatting with everyone before we rolled out. The day was beautiful. The sun was warm and bright. We were ready for a wonderful mini vacation on the road.

As we entered the highway I glanced at Jeff. He was looking at me. We were both smiling and enjoying thoughts of the days to come. We made the turn on I-205. Traffic was backed up and slowing. Crap. We were anxious to get on our way. We slowed; it was stop and go for about 5 miles. That stretch of 205 is beautiful. The Willamette River is to the south and a there is bluff  to the north. The trees are tall and dense. It wasn't so bad being stopped there.

We had just passed the 10th street exit. Again traffic came to a standstill. I was watching the car in front of me when suddenly my bike jolted forward. I saw pieces of my back signal light fly past my left eye. I was thrown forward. I hit the highway. I remember trying to hit in a way to minimize injury. I remember trying not to hit my helmet. I loved my helmet. I didn’t want it scratched. It seemed like forever, it seemed like seconds.

I was on the ground and unable to move. I knew not to move my head so I couldn't see what I was looking for. Where are my husband and my bike? I remember thinking that if traffic had been going faster I would have been run over. I saw Jeff and another man. They were talking to me. Even though I could think I don't remember understanding them. It was surreal. People were moving and speaking. Nothing was in sync. Voices were swirling. People were hovering. I wasn't sure what was happening. There were so many faces. I didn't recognize any of them.

I can remember asking Jeff to call 911. I told him my leg was broken. I asked him to call the kids and call my father. There was a woman. She was an ICU nurse. She came from nowhere and she was standing at my head. A silver convertible stopped and a man came toward us. He was a doctor. God was with me. Still I heard no sirens. Where were they? I was lying in the middle of the highway, was anyone stopping traffic? Suddenly people were everywhere. They were all asking if I had been wearing a helmet. I thought that was funny. "It’s Oregon law and I'm not that stupid" is what I was thinking. I didn't remember that my helmet had already been removed.

The asphalt was searing my shoulder and arm. I was crying uncontrollably. Where was my bike? Was it ok? Where's my husband? I want my dad. Who the hell hit me and where were they? Why weren't they there? Were they hurt? Did they even care? My foot was really hurting from my ankle up to my hip. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t understand.

A shadow fell across my face. There was a man with Smith and Wesson glasses standing above me blocking the sun. He had great hair. Where did that thought come from? I think he was an EMT maybe. Then I saw a State Trooper. His shirt said K-9 unit. Where was his dog? Is someone stopping traffic? I want my mom. I want my dad. Please don't let a car hit me. Someone please block traffic!

A man appeared with a collar and put it around my neck. I was now on my back and I was so sleepy. I wanted to drift off. I closed my eyes. I just wanted to sleep. Please, just let me sleep. Someone kissed me, someone with a moustache. I opened my eyes and looked at the three men above me. I was trying to figure out who kissed me. They must have seen the confusion in my eyes. One of them said "It was your husband. We don't offer that service". I remember thinking that was too bad because these guys were hot. They got me situated on a board and I was put in the ambulance. My mom had been in an ambulance the morning she had died. I couldn't breathe. I don’t want to be in an ambulance. Memories of my mom being killed were flashing through my head. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to forget.

I heard Jeff’s voice. “Don’t cut those chaps, they have snaps. The boots have zippers.”

Why was someone trying to cut my chaps and boots?

Someone gave me oxygen. I can remember looking at the eyes of the EMT above me. They were beautiful and golden. I told him how amazing his eyes were. I don't think I'd ever seen eyes that color. Why did I say that? Where’s my mom? Where’s my dad? Why wasn’t my husband with me? Reality had been suspended. Mom couldn’t be there. The hospital killed her. Would they kill me? I couldn’t control the thoughts. They were assaulting me. I wanted them to end.

I could hear a woman’s voice traveling with the breeze but I couldn't see her. I only wanted to sleep, they wouldn't let me. My eyes were heavy. I couldn’t keep them open. Someone was grabbing my face. A voice was telling me to wake up. Where was I? What was happening?

My sense of time was off. I felt that I had been in the ambulance for hours, at the same time it seemed only seconds. We were at the hospital and I was in a room. How did I get there? What was wrong? My mom had died in the ED. Mom can’t be here. She’s dead. I couldn't breathe. The room was spinning, it was closing in. Blackness was taking over. I began try cry uncontrollably. I want my mom, I want my Dad and where is my husband? A nurse gave me Ativan and I eventually calmed.

Questions were coming at me from every direction. The lights were bright. My arm hurt. My leg was throbbing. More medicine was put in my IV. Where did the IV come from? The pain eased. A man named Won came and took me for x-rays. He was a very nice older gentleman, very sweet. Two ladies took my x-rays and I was back in my room. I don't remember how I got back, but I was back. I wanted to sleep.

The doctor came in. I remember thinking that he looked like he was a liberal. What the hell does that even mean? He was about my age, nice looking with salt and pepper hair and rushed. I knew that he didn’t want to be there. Nothing was broken, only sprained. "Yeah right" I thought, dude needs to look again. It hurts so bad, I can't move my toes. But the x-rays showed no broken bones.

 I had been so worried about having surgery. Not because of surgery, but because just before I was hit Jeff and I had McDonalds. I never eat that crap but it was close and we had a long ride ahead of us so I ate a Quarter Pounder. I didn't want to see that Quarter pounder again. Thank Goodness there would be no surgery.

My husband walked through the opening of the curtain. Where did he come from? I thought he was with me. He said that he took his bike home and brought the Jaguar to take me home. How in the freaking hell can I get into the Jaguar? Where was the Land Rover? It would have been much easier to get into.

“Where’s my bike?”

Jeff drew in a lung filing breath before answering. “It had to be towed. It’s totaled.”

Those words seemed to bounce within my skull. Totaled? Why didn’t they let me see it? I felt a new wave of tears filling my eyes. What even happened?

“Please, take me home; please get me out of here.”

Finally I could sleep.

There would be no Napa.

That was three and a half years ago. A subsequent MRI showed that I had a crushed heel bone. I couldn’t walk for four months. The woman that hit me had been on her cell phone. She never got out of the car. She didn’t render aid. She didn’t call 911. She called her attorney. A state trooper had to beat on her window and threaten to arrest her to get her to open her door.

Thoughts of that day rushed back to me as I was on my bike on that highway this morning and again this afternoon. It will be with me always.

The van that hit me.

New bike!
Yes, those are my lip prints.
I kissed the tank and the painter
clearcoated it.

I love my skull!


You didnt see me

Please, be aware.


Shopping. Shopping for a kid.

Friday, April 16, 2010

We were shopping, shopping for a kid. We looked through books, huge, heavy books filled with pictures of smiling kids. Under the pictures were labels. Each label had all of the ingredients that went into making each “product”. We checked each picture and each label against our list, our shopping list.

That’s how it felt with our third adoption. With our first two adoptions we were the product. We put together marketing campaigns. Those campaigns were distributed to the shoppers and the shoppers made decisions based on our ingredients, our nutritional value and our expiration dates. I think it was easier for us to be the product and not the shopper.

We already had kids, seven all together, so we went about making a list of what we thought we wanted. It was like choosing fruit it seemed to me. “Do I want the green grapes, or the purple grapes? Seeded or unseeded? Organic or not?” We thought we had a simple list: girl under the age of three living in Washington or Oregon. That was it. We looked at hundreds of pictures of girls under three living in the Pacific Northwest that that were free for adoption and not just a “maybe”. How could we choose? The more we looked the more confused we became.

We had tunnel vision. We were shopping for the child that would fit into our lives. We weren’t searching for the child whose life we would fit into. Quite by accident we saw a profile of a child that didn’t match our list. Yes, it was a girl. Yes she lived in Washington. Yes she was free for adoption, parental rights had been terminated. She was six years old, three years over what we wanted. Jeff and I exchanged uncertain glances. To be polite we agreed to look at the picture.

We stared at the smiling face in the school photograph. We turned and stared at each other. We were looking at our daughter. I’m not sure how we knew, we just did. The “label” didn’t matter. It had all sorts of warning signs listed in bold print:

Crack baby

Fetal Alcohol Effects


The list went on. We were shown police records of the people whose rights had been terminated. We were shown the hospital records of our daughter. The phrases that stood out were “smells like brewery”, “positive for cocaine”, “three pounds”, “fragile preemie”. None of that mattered. Our list didn’t matter. What mattered was bringing our daughter home as soon as we humanly could.

A week later we sat in a Burger King waiting to meet our daughter. The caseworker was late. We kept checking our watches, looking out of the windows, and pacing waiting for our daughter to be delivered. The minutes crept by, each one longer than the last. I had to get to a phone. I had to see if there was a problem.

I had just left a frantic voice mail for the caseworker when this little sprite of a child burst through the door. She was in white tights, a white turtleneck and a blue jumper. Her ebony hair had been pulled into many braids. Her braids had been secured with hair ties that had brightly colored balls attached. She bolted through the fast food joint. She was screaming “My Daddy, my Daddy, my new Daddy!” Every head turned, every face smiled. Every one there watched a child meet her Daddy for the very first time.

When she got to where Jeff was standing she leapt off of the floor and into his arms nearly knocking him over. She touched his tear stained face and traced the path of his emotion with her little brown hand. Then she threw her skinny little arms around his neck and pressed her cheek against his.

Suddenly she maneuvered herself around in his arms and yelled “Where’s my mommy?” Then she saw me. Our eyes locked and I saw a smile, a smile bigger than I’ve ever seen on such a small child. In an instant she was out of Jeff’s protective arms and into mine. “You’re my new mommy!”

“Yes, I am your mommy.”

She burrowed her head into my neck and giggled. She reached out for her daddy. He put his strong arms around us both. Jeff and I cried, she giggled. Time stood still. Our daughter was with us at last.

That was fourteen years ago. This past March Nikki turned 20. She graduated high school last May at the top of her class. She will begin college this fall studying Criminal Justice and Art History. I can’t imagine our lives had we stubbornly stuck to our list. I can’t imagine our lives without our daughter. I don’t want to imagine what would have happened had we heeded the warnings boldly posted on her “label”.

With Nina

Riding with PaPa

She's 20!

Cruising with mom




What Urban Legends are Made of

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It seems that every neighborhood across America has one, an eccentric person known only by a nick name. We’ve lived in neighborhoods with a “Pond Lady”, a “Carcass”, a “Cowboy Bob”, and of course, “the Cat Lady”. These are the people that are at the heart of urban legends. They are woven into the American fabric.  In our small town is a woman known only as “The Turban Lady”.

The Turban Lady is about 65 or so. Propped on her nose are 1950’s cat eye glasses with tarnished rhinestones. She always appears to be wearing hastily applied bright red lipstick. No one in town that I’ve spoken to has ever seen her without her white turban pulled snuggly onto her head and a pack of dogs by her side. Her house is small, about 600 square feet and is surrounded by million dollar homes. Water stained cardboard boxes cover her windows and trash is piled up high on the front porch. There’s an old camper and an even older car on the back of her lot. Both are completely surrounded by weeds, blackberry bushes and assorted vines. She has a little, old, white Toyota truck with a camper shell on it. She’s frequently seen driving around town in that little truck, always with her turban and always with her dogs.

The Turban Lady seems to be a rather cranky old woman. Years ago I pulled into a parking space that was one space away from the one she had chosen. She leaned out of her little truck and barked “asshole” at me. Then there was the day a few summers ago that my daughter, Karli, pulled in front of her in traffic. It was at one of those spots where two lanes merge into one. The Turban Lady was infuriated. She began screaming at my daughter, flipping her off and tried to run her off of the road. Karli kept driving scared to death and the Turban Lady followed. When Karli came to the turn for our street she drove by it. She was too afraid to let the Turban Lady know where we lived. Karli drove through nearby neighborhoods, down back roads and side streets until she lost her enraged tailgater. There have been similar accounts from people all over our small town. The Turban Lady is not to be messed with.

Today Nikki and I had a wonderful sushi lunch and then went to buy some items for tonight’s dinner. As we pulled into the congested Safeway parking lot we saw the Turban Lady. She was just about to park her little white, dog filled truck. I made sure that I parked several spaces away with a few cars in between my car and hers. Nikki and I waited for her to go into the store before we got out of our car. I wasn’t taking any chances. The woman scares me.

As soon as she disappeared into Safeway, Nikki and I got out of our car and headed for the entrance. Nikki got the basket as I looked at the fruit. We decided on some Gala apples, some bananas and then chose fresh basil and rosemary for tonight’s pizza. I wasn’t going to have time to make pizza sauce from fresh tomatoes so we went down the aisles to find the canned tomato sauce. Nikki and I were chatting away when we turned the corner of the aisle that the sauce was on. My heart stopped. There was the Turban Lady. She was looking at the canned soups.

Nikki and I looked at each other and decided to take a chance. We would get our tomato sauce and tomato paste and be on our way. I warned Nikki not to make eye contact with her, but it’s hard not to stare when you see the woman. We pushed our cart carefully down the aisle. We didn’t want to rattle her. The sauce we wanted was right behind where she was standing. I tried to find what I was looking for while staying a few feet away but I couldn’t see it. I could feel a panic attack coming on. I was going to have to be her presence longer than I wanted. Any sliver of time near her was frightening enough, but a few extra seconds terrified me.

She seemed to be totally involved in choosing her can of soup. She was reading each label and examining each picture on each can. Maybe we were safe. Maybe I would find my sauce and Nikki and I could be on our way before she knew we were there. I slowly walked up behind her. As soon as I had, I wished that I hadn’t. Something hit me in the face. It enveloped my entire body and nearly knocked me out. It was an overpowering smell of pet urine, body odor, garbage and dirty dog, very dirty dog. I tried to hold my breath. The thought of holding in the putrid cloud that had filled my lungs was battling with my body’s desire for fresh, clean air but there was no fresh air. I was getting light headed and dizzy as I reached down and grabbed two cans of tomato sauce. I quickly dropped the cans into the basket. As I let them go I could see Nikki wrinkling her nose. She had been hit too.

I had to get my daughter out. Hell, I had to get myself out. I still hadn’t taken another breath. My vision was becoming blurry. I was seeing spots. I was going to pass out. Shit! We had to get out of that cloud of funk fast. Nikki and I scurried around the corner and stopped to breathe. Holy freaking crap! The smell was there too. We practically ran down the aisle to the next one before we stopped. Then I could feel it coming on. I was going to puke.

I was gagging. My eyes were watering. Mascara was running down my face. Worst of all I knew that the cameras in the store’s ceiling were catching every tear and every wretch. I was sure each employee within shot of the video feed was watching me stand there trying not to lose my lunch. They were probably taking bets on when I would puke all over the floor. I had to get control of myself.

Nikki came up behind me and asked what the smell was. I couldn’t think about it. I had to think of something else and fast. Oh God, I could still smell it. I had to get rid of that odor. Then I remembered the bag of apples that we had put in the basket. I grabbed one and shoved it up to my nose. Ahhhhh, the smell of fresh apples took me away from it all, but only for a second. Nikki was staring at me like I had lobsters coming out of my ears. She asked again what the smell was and again I could feel my stomach rising. “Nikki, stop! I’ll tell you in a minute”. I pushed the apple up to my nose once more, deeply taking in its fresh scent. I tried to take my mind to another place, a clean place. I thought of being on the beaches of Hawaii sipping a Mai Tai with my husband.

I began to calm and was at a point that I thought I could finally speak. I turned to Nikki and she started laughing, laughing at me, laughing at the situation and laughing from relief. The more she laughed the better I felt and I began laughing with her. We were then able to continue our shopping. We cautiously looked down each aisle beforehand and scoped out the check stands before we chose one. We would take no more chance encounters with the Turban Lady. We had escaped another incident in the store, I didn’t puke. My daughter and I had a good laugh. We just had one more thing to do, call Karli and tell her the entire story.


Prepared For The Worst

Monday, April 12, 2010

Two years ago today doctors worked frantically to save the life of my daughter. We were told that the baby girl she carried would not live. They told us to prepare for the worst.

Karli immediately before the the surgeons began.

The tiny one has been freed.
2 lbs and 14" long
27 weeks

Trying to get Anna-Grace to breathe.

Karli watching over the fragile one.

Nana gets to touch Anna-Grace for the first time.

The first time I was allowed to hold her.

She's proving them wrong.

Anna-Grace's first day home. In the arms of her Uncle Michael.

She has no idea that she's going in for open heart surgery.

Being taken to the operating room.

Right after the successful heart surgery.

A real Diva.

Growing bigger.


Anna-Grace and her brother Josiah were ambassadors for the March of Dimes walk for life.

Anna-Grace is 1

She's happy and healthy. No signs of preemie problems. No more heart problems.

The miraculous Anna-Grace turned 2 today. She proved the doctors wrong. She's our miracle.

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