Thursday, August 30, 2012

The thrill is NOT in the hunt . . .

It’s been one of those weeks.

You know, I feel bad complaining because there’s someone out there who has really had a HELL of a week, and, here I am . . . feeling whiny . . . because this week has been less than stellar.

Sometimes, that thought doesn’t help.

Actually, when I first started an entry, three days ago, I was crying silently in my cubby because, doggone it, I had no right to be sad, and that was making me sad, and I really shouldn’t be, which made it worse . . . Sometimes, my brain does more loop-de-loops than a hamster on a wheel. It’s viscous cycle.
Plus it was a Monday . . . a dark, dreary, raining Monday that should have been spent at home . . . Mondays are beasts, anyways, but this was the worst in a long, long time. I went to bed at 6:30 PM just to get away from it. It was nasty, folks.  Gah, Mondays . . .

Mostly it’s due to the house hunt. It’s exhausting and depressing. It’s hit me really hard this week, especially when we THOUGHT we’d found something, only to have it snatched away. Sometimes, you don’t realize how much you care until it’s over. It’s kind of the same thing as that toddler who forgets about a toy, and then she finds it in the trashcans and the world collapses. Yeah, it’s a lot like that . . . only with big toys that you live in . . . and I’m not sure my meltdowns are any more attractive than a toddlers . . . Yeah, it’s not pretty.

The whole desperate search ends up feeling kind of helpless—we’re working as hard as we can, saving up as much as we can, and there is just NOTHING in our price range. I’m not even kidding. We have been checking multiple real estate sites every day for months, talk to the realtor as often as possible, and we come up empty. . . It really is a faith exercise because, at this point, despite all our efforts, the well has run dry.

I guess part of it . . . ok, MOST of it, is that the lack of control bothers me. In every other aspect of my life, I was able to work to make something happen. I had help along the way, certainly, but it SEEMED that by hard work, determination, and wit, I could achieve what I wanted. If I didn’t, it was because I was lacking, not because doors were closing or Fate had other plans. The American Dream, peeps—you work it, you earn it, you get it. Not so much. Sure, you put forth effort, but, do you ever think Something bigger is working behind the scenes? Maybe you work and you get what you need because all the right doors opened because He found it fitting? So, now, I’m sitting going, “Ok, um . . . I’m doing my part! Where’s the house?”

And it’s just not there.

So we wait. I may have loads of tolerance, but patience is not my strong point. I read spoilers because I don’t like to wait for the end. Unfortunately, my life has no Wikipedia site to give away my conclusion. I mean, I know how it all ends, but how do I get there? What happens to me along the way? When do I get there? There’s just no way to figure out the middle mess. It’s the middle mess that’s the interesting bit, the load of unknowns. I have never been good with unknowns. That’s why I research and I plan. My brain and life may be a jumbled, tangled mass of chaos, but I can plan a bloody future. Unfortunately, the best laid plans of mice and men, and all that jazz . . .

The bottom line is that we will be living somewhere in Central Cali. We’re not sure exactly where or when we’ll know where, but we will lay our heads down somewhere with a roof, four walls, and running water, and that’s SO much more than most of the world has, SO much more than even some of our neighbors have. We don’t know the details, and that drives me batty, but life isn’t about making me happy. It’s about a much bigger Story that’s so much greater than my dinky little existence.

So all that to say, I’m sorry I’ve been absent. I’ve missed you all, and I’m crawling out of my self-pitying hole now, I promise.

There has to be rain to make a rainbow, right?


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

If I had billions and billions of dollars . . .

I'd donate to charities.
No, really, I would.
Then I'd travel the world . . .
And then I'd build a house, but not just any house, THE dream house.

With the move looming (so um . . . it's JANUARY not March . . . eek!), Chris and I have been house-hunting like fiends . . . to no avail *sigh* I mean, it's all good--it will work out, house or rent.

Yes, people HAVE asked us why we aren't starting out renting, and, yes, we HAVE considered both options.  Basically, we have friends out there who know the area REALLY well, contacts we're keeping in touch with, and we are not impulse buyers at all.  Through research and conversation, we've determined the areas we'd like to live, and have been given thumbs up by locals.  Also, we kind of hate the thought of the renting blackhole, especially since, with the current economy out there, renting is often MORE expensive than a mortgage. We have a friend out there who has offered to investigate any possible purchase for us, and we would take a trip out to see the place.  So, yes, there's a plan, there's a TON of research going into this, and a great deal of thought, prayer, etc.  So there's that. Speal over.

And, really, we're not asking for much . . . 1000+ square feet (I mean . . . at least the size of our current 900 square foot cottage), three bed, two bath, maybe? Oh, and a kitchen larger than a closet would be DIVINE. Please and thank you.
Chris has kind of taken over the house shopping deal--he checks tax, area, water, the works. After months of doing the dirty work myself, I've handed it over, and, wouldn't you know, he's doing a splendid job? He's even narrowed down which areas are risk-zones for tsunamis. I am not even kidding.
Me? I'm in it for the kitchen.
And space.
But mainly the kitchen.
Please and thank you.
No, it's not that I LOVE kitchens, but, quite frankly, if I'm going to spend most of my day in there, I'd like it to be a little pleasant. Ladies, you know what I mean . . .

I try not to reach beyond reality when it comes to home planning, but, oh, Pinterest--you devious little website--has made this dream house thing way too much fun.  The hubs and I have dubbed it "The Mead Hall."
Yes, it was inspired by this scene from "Thor."
When we have unmeasurable wealth, we're totally buying a plethora of cheap coffee mugs to smash in jubilation.
Not joking.

So, without further ado, I present:


Behold mine Mead Hall, perched in the trees of an ancient forest, its bright lights twinkling in the twilight . . . 

And this would be there for any vamps from Twilight . . .  yeah, sorry not a fan . . . but I'll spare you the rant.

Large, spacious, and, gosh and golly, I'm a sucker for wooden detail . . . and big windows . . . and wooden ceilings . . . aw, crud, the whole thing is awesome . . . Just hand it over!
Spiral staircase up the three that grows in the center of my house? Dude, yes, totally have one . . .

Every billionaire needs a secret spinning door in their library . . . what, you DON'T have one?! I pity the fool! This is the highlight of billionaire-ness. Seriously. 
Ah, the family room . . . I think they call it "rustic chic." I love it. I mean just obsessed with it love it. Hunting cabin with flare? Oh, gimme gimme!
And game room  . . . we'd need a pool table, our five gaming systems (yes, it's true--Wii, N64, PS2, GameCube, and Super Nintendo . . . we're old school nerds), and a couple of computers for Chris's WoW hobby . . . and, um Guild Wars 2 anybody? Am I the only person ridiculously excited about this????? OMG can't wait! And . . . um . . . the room? Better than Guild Wars 2, and that's saying something! I love the contrast of the sleek built-in booksheves with the wooden beams in the ceiling.  The more books the better!

I'll now take you into the guest bedroom, where you'll be staying.  Please, make yourself at home and leave us a message or a doodle on your chalk wall. If I had it my way, the walls wouldn't be white--probably a spunky green, but, hey, I don't have a guest room or a chalk wall, so we'll stick with the photo . . .

The guest bathroom . . . I'd probably add a spash of bright color because, alongside "rustic chic" by other obsession is ridiculous amounts of bold colors--especially shades of green and blue . . . Oh, and squid . . . I have a ridonkulous (see? beyond ridiculous) obsession with squid . . . mainly the "man-eating" Humboldt Squid . . .


And now we seek the sanctuary of the Master Bedroom . . . seriously, sanctuary is the best word for this place.  My golly.

We bring nature into the Master Bath with the treated wooden counter and add some modern flare with  the paper lanterns . . .

And then we bath in this sucker and hope no one's in a helicopter playing peeping Tom . . . I'd never come out . . . especially if it has those bubble jets . . . and, you know, since it's my dream house, we're going to say it does. And it's six feet long. Just because I want it to be . . .

And, because we are hoping, one day, for mini mes (mini us? ok ok . . . KIDS), this nursery would be so fun! But not in pink. Can't do pink. Not at all.  Blue please. Or green. Are you sensing a theme of my favorite colors?  Love grays with bold pops of blue green, and white.  I just love the open, spunky feel of this room and the fact that it can be incredibly verstile.

Every house needs a nice home office/art room -- a place where you can escape, relax, and just be creative . . . or, you know, file taxes or something . . . 


  And, of course, the backyard.  I'm thinking a little enchanted forest with a splash of Japanese Garden and a touch of modern zen  . . .

And that, my friends, is the Mead Hall. 

What would your dream house look like? 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Puzzle Pieces: Thoughts on Adoption

Some days, I don't realize what my family looks like.
I mean, I KNOW what they look like, but only through my eyes, not others.

When I was 16, my family brought home one of its missing pieces, a nine month old baby girl from China we named Davie Anne. It was like she'd always been there.
First batch of professional family photos, and my brother and I told our mother that Davie didn't look different--to us, she looked like us. She fit, she was ours. We looked like a whole family, not a now multi-racial family, not a family with a story, not a family that was unique. We were just US. She fit us just like we fit her.
You don't ask a jigsaw puzzle how the pieces fit together or how they came to be. You just accept that they were meant to be united as one.

Davie's referral picture--the very first picture we saw of her. We went NUTS.

Meeting Davie for the first time! She just smiled and smiled and bounced in her walker!

My Dad and Davie Anne on the first day--She was one day shy of 9 months, and my Dad was 51
Three years later, we completed the family with a baby girl just shy of one-year-old. This time, Davie went with our parents to bring Eliana Joy home from China.

Ellie's referral picture--again, we went nuts . . . and we have no idea WHY she's in a car

Again, there was no thought crossing our minds that this might be odd, that we might look different than other families.

A friend of mine has recently blogged a while back about her experiences with their second adoption, mostly about the reactions from the people around her.
Because, really, for those in the middle of the adoption process, it's just like bringing a baby home from the hospital. You hold that child and she is YOURS. She's always been there, she always will be, she's one of you. There is no adjustment switch, this "I must teach myself to love this child." It simply is. It's the most natural thing in the world.

We loved Davie and Ellie even before we began the adoption process. We had been praying for these children before they were even born, asking God to bring completion to our family. We loved them long before we saw their pictures, and, when we did, let me tell you, that love exploded. It reached immeasurable amounts the first time we held them.
I may not be a mother yet, but isn't that how it's supposed to be? Isn't that how it is when you give birth to your child?
You love her in the expectation, you love her when the pregnancy test dances with a little pink plus sign, you love her in the ultrasound, and then, you hold her, and you wonder how on earth you don't spontaneously combust with love.

Still it's a touchy subject. In my own experience, I've noticed men are more hesitant to adopt than women--I guess it pulls on our maternal instincts. Some men express, "I want to have my own, first" or "I don't think I'll love it as much as my biological kids."
Ok, here's the thing: an adopted child IS your own, maybe not in DNA but in heart and soul. And you will totally love her as much as your bios. I promise. You won't even tell the difference. But I understand that not everyone wants to or will adopt, and that's ok. There's no right or wrong to it . . . BUT . . . well, I guess the "but" is that I can't imagine a life without it, without the beauty of discovering your own family in a place you never thought you'd find it. Of sharing love and hope with someone feeling lost. It changes people. It changes the parents and the children--bio and adopted. We literally watched Davie and Ellie blossom in our homes. It's hard to describe unless you see it, feel it, their little personalities wiggling through, smiles appearing on stoic faces.

I'm not here to preach, I promise. It's just something that's near and dear to my heart.
Next time you see a family with a child that doesn't look like the others, remember, she only looks different to you. To them, they see themselves and their own completion.

My family's 2011 Christmas photo--we all totally fit. Totally.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday's Letters


Dear Friday's Letters: Are you the latest entry in history??? Just maybe. Golly. That's the last time I forget to upload pics until the end of the day . . . geez Louise . . .
Dear Furballs: For the love of all that is good in the world, STOP SHEDDING.  Please, I beg you. Shasta, you snuggled with me while I watched Netflix, and when you hopped down, the couch cushion was an entirely different color.  I can’t wear anything—fresh out of the dryer or hanging in my closet for months—without finding it COVERED in hair.  It does not help that one of my favorite colors is black and that the only one of you with a little dark fur is Navi.  This will not do. I have bathed you and brushed you to no avail.  Please tell me this just has something to do with the massive increase in heat and humidity. Please?
Dear Davie and Ellie:
I spent last Sunday evening with you cuties playing in the laziest lazy river in the history of lazy rivers.  You girls are officially not allowed to NEVER get any older. Nope. You’re too big already. You both should have stopped growing at age three but nine-years-old and six-years-old aren’t too bad . . . in fact, I still find you pretty dang adorable. Just no older, k? And sister sleepover/craft day/shopping day at my house ASAP. 

You know, after all that work staying IN the tube, she totally ditched it in ten minutes to swim like a fish

Good LORD the goggles! Love those goggles! And the "cheese!" faces! Can't get enough, I tell ya!
 Dear Hubs: I know you woke up and said you feel sick . . . but I still get the feeling you’re playing hooky . . . how is it that you can totally get away with this???? Well, if you really are ill, I apologize for all my doubts . . . but, know, until proven innocent, I’m watching you.
Dear Work: First off, thank you for keeping me past the summer program.  I know the pay decreases a bit, but, still, it’s work, and, with the move looming, I need the money, so thank you so much.  I love all of my coworkers, and it’s a good place, so there’s that.
When I speak with my new supervisor, she asks, “So, what projects do you have with communications?”
“I think I’m pretty much finished except for some scanning, but that’s kind of an ongoing thing for their records.”
“Oh, ok. Well, I’ll see what projects I can have you do.  Let’s see if we can get you something more exciting than scanning.  For instance, Payroll has a filing project going on now that they could use help with.”
I’m still waiting to hear the exciting part . . .
Dear Sunsets: You are my absolute favorite. For real. In fact, you're so gorgeous, your photos don't need editing, and that, my friend, is an accomplishment. WOW!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Apparently, I'm a vegetable . . .

Last night, I was called a yam.
Yeah, like a sweet potato.
It’s partially my own fault, really. I made up a word: “yammish.”

I should have known that in cases like these, my own weapons are used against me. The hubs is a ferocious adversary, and, I, apparently, am the farthest thing from remotely intimidating.

No kidding: my first grader students—you know, little kids who break down crying at the tiniest thing—told me repeatedly that I wasn’t scary. In fact, they behaved for two reasons:
1. If they got a “fuzzy” taken away, they didn’t get to go to the treasure box.
2. If they thought I was going to lose my mind . . . One time, I put my hands over my ears, and one little girl started screaming, “Guys! Stop! She can’t take it anymore!!!”
So, anyways, they weren’t scared of me.

My middle schoolers laughed at me when I thought I was my most terrifying. It ended up as a running gag. I’d get all worked up, and they’d laugh, and then I’d laugh because they were laughing, and then one of my six-foot seventh graders would look down at me and say, “Mrs. B, don’t even try. You’re just not scary.”
Well, geez . . .

The hubs isn’t much better. The phrase, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” invokes no fear, no terror. You’d think that my monthly hormone surge might, but, even then, I’m not scary—I’m just emotional, and, for a man, quite perplexing. There is no fear, only frustration.

So, last night, I am attempting to insult Chris. When I insult someone I love, I call them “boob.” My cats are boobs, my dog is a boob, and Chris, believe it or not, is also a boob.
In case you were wondering, a “boob” is some kind of loveable idiot. Or something. Sometimes, I think I just like getting away with saying the word when it’s completely NOT necessary.


When he didn't react to the first declaration, I decided I needed to up the ante. I shouted the first thing that came to mind . . . and that was  "You're a yammish boob.”

You know exactly the kind I’m talking about.
I have NO idea what that says about my psyche, but it can't be good, right?
I mean, really, where does this stuff come from that's suddenly exploding from my mouth. "Yammish boob?" Really, brain? That's the best you can do? Golly wolly. I have no hope.

Chris isn’t insulted (big surprise). In fact, he’s never insulted. I just can’t seem to get the insult factor down. Just about every time, he laughs at me. After being called a “yammish boob,” he looks at me, mouth open in a grin only seconds from laughing. “A what?”
“A yammish boob. Ha! I just made up a word! It should be a word. Yammish.”
“You’re yammish.”
“*GASP!* I AM NOT!!! I am not a yam!”
“Yes, you are.”
“No! I’m not orange, and I’m not lumpy and odd shapes, and I’m not squishy.”
He pinches me. “You are a little squishy.”
“AM NOT!!!”
“And you are shapes . . . ”
“Everyone is shapes!”
He picks at a strand of my hair, “And, you know, your hair . . . it’s kind of perfectly . . . the color of sweet potatoes.”
“I am NOT a yam!”
“Yeah, I think you are.”

Now that I think about it, Anne Shirley is lucky that she got away with just "carrots." I think being compared to a squishy orange tuber is far worse than a skinny orange veggie that helps with eyesight . . . maybe?

About ten minutes later, Chris said my Pipkin was yammish. I tried to defend her, but we both knew it was futile.

She is more a yam than I.

  Oh, and P.S. 
This morning, I received this message over our business IM:

Chris: i wrote a poem for you. would you like to hear it?
Me:  it's not the beautiful love type, is it? is it too much to hope for?
There once was a man from Siam
Who ate himself into a jam
Along with his food
His poor wife he had chewed
Because she was only a yam
Sarah: you're awful

And, yes, I snickered despite myself . . . which is frustrating because he's in the cubicle next to mine so he can totally hear me . . . which only massages his ego . . . Clearly, we're the kind of folks who express their love through teasing, torment, and sarcasm.  It keeps life interesting ;]

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The feet of people walking home

I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t miss London.
 Spring semester of my junior year of college, I arrived in London.  I had scrapped and saved for two years, and had been dreaming of this trip for over five years.  For three months, I studied, I went on tour after tour, and I wandered and wondered. I did so much of that--walking through the city, thinking, just drinking it all in.  I left friends, family, and boyfriend in the States, but, somehow, I was home. 

 “Die Alone” by Ingrid Michaelson plays and I’m walking down Baker Street, looking for my mother’s hotel, as she’s come to visit me for my 21st birthday, and the world is bright. “Sad Sad City” by Ghostland Observatory comes on, and I’m dancing with Mark on the Tube like we’re the only people in the world. I still remember the hand motions we created. I play “My Moon, My Man” by Feist, and Kellye and I groove down the street on Russell Square, ignoring every stranger because we are young and alive. It’s all that matters.   There is a quiet, warming joy, the kind that makes you smile like you have a splendid secret, and you skip a little as you go, greeting every stranger like a friend.  I was at home, walking those streets. Some days, I miss the walking more than anything.

I walk into the hotel sitting room in my pjs where Mark and Billy drink beers, hiding them whenever someone walks by. Mark tells me I looked pretty, standing there in a cami and checkered pants, and I retorted, tactlessly, “It’s because I have boobs, right?” and he laughs.  The three of us talk about television, and, next thing I know, Billy is showing me his favorite Family Guy clips while I am perched in the chair beside his. After I had gone to bed Billy went into the basement and told everyone, “I’ve just been watching Family Guy for like an HOUR with Sarah Pete, and she’s actually really cool.” I was "in" from that moment on—the breasted girl without tact who loved Youtube and hated shopping.

Me, Mark, Kellye, and Billy's hands posing as one of the "Last Supper" pieces we studied in Art History. We ate lunch down in the hotel basement--miss that little place.
I love gray, dreary days because I’m back there, back on Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, and Leicester Square. If it’s particularly cold and grim, I’m at Dover Castle, trying to spy the French coastline through the mist.  Almost every day in England is gray and sunless, with a chill in the wind and always the threat of rain. 

I am in the Tate Modern (that our art professor called “rubbish”), staring in awe at a Jackson Pollock piece or in the V&A Museum, adoring the marble sculptures, my favorite. Maybe I’m lost in the British Museum, soaking up history, or exploring the vast Science Museum with Melissa who devours the medical section.  God, there are no museums like there are in London.  I could get lost forever and be happy as a clam for the rest of my days.

A piece of the Berlin Wall at the WWII Museum
I am back in Piccadilly Circus at night, on my way to a play, and, suddenly, without reason I NEED a new book. I haven’t read anything new in a month and dart into a book store like a woman possessed, rushing downstairs into the basement where I am surrounded by paperback classics. I buy Frankenstein and Moby Dick and feel as if my heart is whole again.

When I want to walk in the woods, I remember Ambleside in the Lake Country, and it feels like a fairytale. I’m convinced it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world, lost in a forest that you know must be filled with faeries, if you’re looking in the right place.

I open a book by Lewis, and I remember the Eagle and Child.  I’m in Oxford, and it’s the worst kind of dreary—perpetually gray with rain that’s almost more a thick mist. You’re freezing and soaked only because it doesn’t stop. I separate from the group to seek out the famous pub, and I am hopelessly lost. I have no watch, no phone, and I am terrified that I will not only be left behind but never find my destination, my purpose for coming to England in the first place: to sit where they sat, to see where they smoked, and drank, and dreamed together, a group of brilliance who changed everything.  I found it, and everything was beautiful.

I’m on our coach, sitting up front with Paul our driver who is every bit Irish—witty and never to be taken seriously—trying to take pictures of the Scottish Highlands, again, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.  We travel up through Scotland, down through Wales, and then back to London.  The first place we visit is St. Andrews—the home of golf—and I know, If my heart were a place, it would be St. Andrews with its rocky seaside, where I perched for hours. No Spring Break will ever compare to this one.

Every time I see a picture or a shot of London, something in my aches a little.  When you find home, you’re always longing for it. It never stops, not even once, as the years go by.  It will always be my soul’s city.

“After all this time?”