Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

Oh what a government filled day we have had!


First, I wanted to share the inaugrial load done with our new dishwasher. It’s not pretty but neither are dirty dishes piled in the sink. When it isn’t in use, the dishwasher fits nicely next to the butcher block island and is out of the way. (If you look in the background, you can see the microwave and it’s knob…mocking me.)

We nervously went to our appointment at the USCIS office this morning. Okay, I was nervous and Steve was laughing at me. I was convinced something would go wrong. We were the only people in the place with 5 agents sitting around playing solitaire on their computers. The appointment took less than 15 minutes. They offered us a government issued pamphlet on international adoption and what to expect…I laughed. They have no idea what many families go through while dealing with other countries. Then we went to get our digital fingerprints done. Same agency but across town because we wouldn’t want it to be convenient. We were not even close to the only people there. After about an hour, it was our turn. The people were actually quite friendly and personable – probably because they were required to give out customer service surveys after we were finished (great for the 15 people there who didn’t seem to speak English). So that is done and the wait for the I171H begins!

Then we went to the county office building. We were notified that the school district we live in was appealing our property assessment – they want more taxes. Having no idea what to expect, we went into our “hearing”. (The term hearing is used loosely…it was a guy wearing a headset and some schmuck lawyer. We were there for all of 8 minutes. Parking cost $7. LOVE the government.) We were against them raising the assessment because 1) We have no intention of selling the house until they pry my cold dead body out of the bed in 40+ years so the assessed value matters little to me (some day I’ll blog about the year 2004 when I moved 4 times) and 2) three months after we bought the house, with no disclosure from the previous owner (and she knew, I know she knew), they started cutting down all of the trees in the beautiful 10 acre wood next to our quiet little house and started building 50 condos. I think that seriously effected our property value – and it certainly yanked me off. We bought the house because we were close to the city but it felt like the country. Our next door neighbor’s family had owned the land since the civil war and he chooses to sell it at the exact moment we bought the house. We’ll be “notified” of the hearing officer’s decision by mail.

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BIG things are happening here


First the adoption related big news since that is the point of this whole blog (and drives some of the other big news later). Tomorrow, we have an InfoPass appointment at our local USCIS office. We will also get our digital fingerprints done. A woman on the adoption message board I visit lives in my city and got her I171H in 11 days! We are closing in on the finish line for the paperwork portion of this process. WOOHOO! (I know I already mentioned all of this in my update…but I spent time copying everything they require and filling out the I600A today so it’s on my mind.)

Ok, on to the new big news. Our kitchen is straight out of the 1950’s. Metal cabinets, red and white checked linoleum, awful red (but indestructible) countertops – it’s loverly. The big plan is to not do much with it until we can afford to just gut it and start over. The adoption has pushed that plan back another 10 years. We have no dishwasher and originally said we would live with it until we could afford the remodel of the kitchen…that was when we were childless and figured we could do it in 5 years. Now that it is more likely 10 years in the future and we will soon have bottles and things to deal with, it kind of sucks. I mentioned in the car that we could always just get a portable dishwasher. Steve didn’t know what that was so I explained. He said “And you never thought to mention this was option before now?” I didn’t know that he wasn’t aware they existed.

At Se@rs, he immediately heads for the dishwashers. We find one on sale and he declares that we are buying it on the spot. We’ve been living frugally since deciding to adopt and he decides this is a necessity. We pick it up tonight. I’m quite excited to have a dishwasher again. Is it sad that one of my biggest thrills is a new appliance?

We also replaced our microwave. Long story – I won’t go into it. Let’s just say, I was right and he was wrong. Anyway, my husband fell in love with the idea of a microwave/convection oven combo. I know nothing about this new fangled contraption but he would not be dissuaded. I’m suspicious of this thing…you can put metal in it (on the convection setting). That’s just crazy talk – you can’t put metal in a microwave. It doesn’t even have buttons like my old microwave – it has a few buttons and this big knob in the middle. The knob does everything. I don’t like the knob…I liked the buttons with numbers on them. I understood the buttons. The knob just sits there mocking me.

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Bodily FUNctions


I’ll admit it, I’m squeamish. I don’t deal well with bodily functions or wounds or other icky things. At my high school job, I cut my thumb on the deli slicer. I couldn’t even look at it while it was healing because it turned my stomach. I would take off the bandage, throw some peroxide on it, and re-bandage it without look directly at it. My step-mother had to check it out for me to ensure it was healing. When we had our dog neutered, my husband had to check his stitches because it grossed me out. Ticks freak me out! I always have to ask someone else to remove it because I can’t stand looking at that little parasite buried in my skin. If anyone around me throws up, I have to close my eyes, cover my ears, and breath through my mouth until my dry heaves subside. If I can hear, smell or see someone getting sick, I will too. I’ve changed dirty diapers but it’s been years and I recall it making me gag.

People (when I say people I mean mothers because I rarely hear men talk about dealing with these things) talk about dealing with vomit, poop, and blood in a very blasé manner. They don’t seem repulsed at all. A woman in my office was talking about her child being sick over the weekend. She said that her daughter threw up and had a poopy diaper explosion at the same time while sitting in her highchair. Then she laughed! I’m sitting there wondering how I would deal with that and my first thought was that I would have to call Steve and ask him to come home from work to clean it up. She assured me it is different when it is your child. I know as a mom I will have to step up and deal with gross things but I have trouble believing that I will suddenly be laughing about these things. I just imagine gagging my way through them. So my question, dear readers, is this true? Were you squeamish but discovered motherhood made you less so?

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I have some progress to report!


Finally, a little movement I can report! On Friday, we finally received the notarized copies of our home study. So I immediately made an InfoPass appointment at our local USCIS (formerly known as the INS) to file our I600A (basically an application to our government to adopt internationally). I was able to get an appointment on Wednesday. We will get a same day fingerprint appointment as well. Someone recently told me the turn around for the I171H for our local office was less than 2 weeks! (The I171H is basically a letter from our government granting permission to adopt internationally.)
Today, we received my birth certificate back from the secretary of state where I was born and FINALLY Steve’s state police clearance letter (done correctly this time – guess 3rd time really is a charm).
Now we are waiting for our FBI clearance from our ink fingerprints and Steve’s CA birth certificate to be returned from the secretary of state there. Then I take everything to the secretary of state here in PA to be certified and send it all off to the Guatemalan consulate to be authenticated. After that, the paper chase will be officially over!!!

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Let me gush a little…


My husband said the sweetest thing to me today: “Thank you for choosing to stay home with our child.” How wonderful is it that he knows, despite my joy at the prospect of doing so, it is still a sacrifice in some ways? He also gets that it isn’t an easy job. During another conversation, I was saying that during the week I would have the baby’s crib on my side of the bed (we’ll have her in our room for a little while when she gets home) and get up with her since he has to get up and go to work. His response? “I fully intend to get up with her during the week. You will need your rest so you can keep up with her all day. You’ll need that sleep more than I do since you’ll be home alone all day. I just go to work and sit on my ass all day.” Go ahead girls…big sigh at that one.

I joke about him being a geek but he is the most amazing man. I don’t know how I got so lucky. He’s almost perfect and really wouldn’t totally perfect be a little annoying? Like those beautiful size 0 blonde super model types with legs up to here that you want to hate but can’t because they are so damned nice and have a brain to boot? But sometimes his good traits are a double edged sword.

What happens when you are trying to pick out a paint color for your home? Do you hear “yeah, that’s nice – can we go now?” or “that looks like the last 12 paint chips you showed me”? Not my husband. He actually cares about those things. Sometimes it is nice. It’s nice to know he cares about how our home looks. But sometimes, it is a pain in the ass. I knew exactly what color I wanted to paint our bedroom: periwinkle. He didn’t like the periwinkle. He wanted green. So we bought green paint. Now we are talking about what color to paint the future nursery. I again am lobbying for periwinkle. He just turns up his nose at it. If I insisted, he would let me have my way. But since he does care, I spend a lot of time trying to find something we both like. I think we finally found the colors.

But I will put up with the interference with my ‘artistic vision’ to get wonderful comments like “Thank you for choosing to stay home with our child.”

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And he gets paid twice what I do


My darling, genius, computer geek husband works hard for his money. This morning, he discovered a new toy and did this to one of our wedding photos. Just call me the comic strip bride. LOL
It was a second marriage for both of us so we kept it casual. We got married at a local park with close family and friends. My best friend’s husband wanted a wedding just like ours because we encouraged our guests to wear jeans and be comfortable. It was a beautiful day and one of the best days of my life.

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The Paperchase is invading my subconscious


A couple of nights ago, I had a very vivid dream. I was working in some non-descript small agency and an older man came in. He was very agitated. He and his wife were trying to adopt from Africa. He had been trying to get a letter written correctly and had been running all over town but no one would type it correctly for him. I, of course, declared that I was also doing an international adoption too and understood his frustration. He and I sat down together and I typed the letter for him. He thanked me profusely. It was very vivid – I can see his face clearly and could feel the paper in my hand.

Today, I didn’t go into work because I wasn’t feeling well. I took a nap this afternoon and had the dream again. But this time, I received an email from someone that I had made a huge mistake on his letter. He then came in the front door of this agency again. He was very angry – saying that I was only hurting his child by delaying this adoption. I apologized and offered to re-do the letter for him. His wife called me and expressed her displeasure as well. We sat down together and fixed the problem in the wording of the letter. He wasn’t happy but was less angry when he left.

Guess I don’t need Freud to analyze that one, do I? Hopefully, my paperchase doesn’t last too much longer, otherwise he’ll keep visiting me. Next time, he might be armed.

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The Games We Play


Does anyone out there still play board games or card games? I grew up playing Operation, Hungry Hippo, Trouble, Battleship, Sorry, Yahtzee, Rummikube, Clue, Gin, Backgammon, Cribbage, Scrabble, Euchre, Rummy and many others. Sure, the Atari fascinated us too (yes, I am that old) but we always went back to the board games. I loved playing board games and still do. Mom and I had these epic on-going scores for our favorite games. We have score sheets dating back to the 80’s for Sorry and the 90’s for Rummikube. They are cumulative and I’m still kicking her butt 2 decades later. Scrabble is another story…rarely am I able to best her in Scrabble. She cut her teeth playing Scrabble with my grandfather who could score 63 points with 2 letters.

My in-laws invite us over for game night every couple of months. Steve and I play Backgammon, Boggle, or Scrabble on a semi-regular basis. At the beach they pull out all sorts of geek games (Carcasonne anyone?). My dad and his wife came to visit a couple of weeks ago and we spent the afternoon playing Oh Hell. It was a nice way to hang out together and catch up. When mom is in town, we play games. I remember Friday nights at my house meaning pizza, Dallas (we were addicted), and games of Sorry. That is something I would really like to do with my child someday (minus the Dallas).

I just wonder if with all of the channels on TV (we had 3, 4 on a clear day, when I was growing up – yes, I am that old), the internet, Xboxes, Playstations, and other flashy diversions I wonder if families still play games together. Do you have fond memories of games as a child? Do you still play games with your family? Are there any new ones out there we should try?

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Random Thoughts


  • To say I don’t love my current job would be a gross understatement. One of my least favorite activities is having meetings which involve a particular lawyer. I would rather bang my head repeatedly into a brick wall than have a conversation with him. But today, we had a meeting and he was almost pleasant. He actually made a concession on a point we’ve been arguing for 7 months. My theory is that he got laid this weekend.

  • Because this adoption process is testing my patience, my poor husband is suffering. I am usually patient and even-keeled with him. Lately though, I snap at him over things I would normally take in stride.
  • I love office supplies. Pens, pretty paperclips, a new pad of paper, planners, folders, sticky notes in fun colors – I love them all.
  • When I walk into any store, without looking at a price tag or trying, I will immediately gravitate to the most expensive thing there. For example, on Saturday we went to a nursery. There were probably 75 big planters/pots out front. Without even getting out of the car, I said to Steve “Oh look at the cool white one toward the end! I love that.” I walked over to it: $149.99. For a freaking empty pot. I bought one for $18.99 that I loved slightly less.
  • I have this want/need to be crafty yet I have no crafty skills. I used to crochet a little but I got away from it and have forgotten how. I tried to teach myself to knit but it isn’t going well – I can do it, just not well. Beyond sewing on buttons, I don’t know how to sew. I tried scrap booking but wasn’t a fan. Every time I walk into a craft store, I get the itch. I want to sew/paint/build/knit/sculpt something really cool. I just don’t know what. I keep thinking I need to find a crafty hobby that I enjoy and then can make a bazillion dollars selling on eb@y while I am a stay at home mom. Bazillion dollar ideas that I can steal anyone?
  • Steve and I were out shopping the other day. He says “Hold still” and starts picking something out of my hair. I freeze, thinking it was a spider. He proceeds to pull out a gray/white hair. I have to say that freaked me out almost as much as a spider.
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Too Funny


Kim posted this commercial on her blog. I have been watching it for days. Steve didn’t think it was nearly as funny as I did until he heard it for the 33rd time. Now he says to me “I pinch”. Don’t know why but it completely cracks me up!

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