Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.



I wrote this list back in May. Things to do while waiting for the adoption to be complete. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

  • Teach yourself to knit…by the time the adoption is complete, you can have an entire wardrobe complete for your child – through age 12
  • Stalk other people’s blogs and compare timelines
  • Obsessively check message boards to check up on gossip and compare timelines
  • Rearrange the furniture in the nursery weekly
  • Go to the mall and stalk families with children who look like they might be internationally adopted
  • Stock pile diapers, baby wipes, baby lotion, and baby soap
  • Launder the wardrobe you have purchased for your child repeatedly then reorganize the closet and dresser. Again.
  • Practice your glare in the mirror for anyone to who dares to ask if you have heard when your child will be coming home
  • Learn Spanish. Impress the kid at the Taco Bell drive thru by ordering in Spanish.
  • Practice Car Seat installation drills. Try to get your time down to 45 seconds for correct installation.
  • Get used to the feel of the Baby Bjorn carrier by carrying the cat around in it.
  • Check email for 37th time for messages from your agency.
  • Seek medical attention for the scratches from the cat. Replace shredded Baby Bjorn.
  • Call husband and ask him to send test email to ensure email is working.
  • Call husband and ask him to leave you a voice mail to ensure it is working correctly.
  • Check voicemail for the 24th time in case agency called while you were checking email.
  • Check voicemail again in case agency tried to call while you were talking to your husband.
  • Take deep breathes and try not to come unglued when people tell you that you have to keep living your life normally until you get “the call”

Fortunately, I hear it is like childbirth in that all of this fades once you do get The Call.

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Carla and Emma are OUT!


Carla and Emma are OUT!
Holly and Gia are OUT!
Both mommies will wait for the birth certificate and then HEAD HOME! They’ve both been stuck in PGN for months and months and months. They have been in Guatemala fostering so I am sure they can’t wait to get their daughters home.
It’s so nice to have some good news to report from blog land!
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Ode to Rusty


My sister, Rusty, turns 37 today. Everyone loves my sister. She can hold a conversation with the wall. Something thought of on a whim takes on the highest priority. She can use the word “Dude” to convey 47 meanings based on her tone of voice. She is kind, generous, friendly and funny but talks like she is 10 feet tall and bulletproof. She gives everyone a nickname – my husband is Steve-o, I am Mitchatelli, Dad is Big Daddy, her son is Big Guy, her husband is Mikey. She doesn’t waste time feeling sorry for herself – when something gets her down she bounces back from it more quickly than anyone else I know. She enjoys life. Few people are able to be their genuine selves all of the time but she is – no punches pulled. Can’t tell what she thinks about something? Ask her – she’ll tell you straight up. I love that about her. She is one of those people who can walk into a room of strangers and leave with a dozen new friends. I’ve always envied that. Happy Birthday Rus! I love you. In honor of her, I will share a couple stories she loves to tell people from when we were kids.

My nephew is on the middle school golf team so my sister was at the golf course last week to watch him play. When we were kids, we would sled ride at the golf course. She reminded me of my sledding accident. You remember those pieces of plastic that you bent up in front and stuck your hand through the cut-out “handle”? You absolutely can’t steer a piece of plastic. I ran straight into a tree on my way down the hill – ended up straddling the tree and hitting my forehead on it. Yep. I was graceful even then.

I did NOT stick a lima bean up your nose when you were sleeping. (She claims I did and it went really far up and she couldn’t get it out.) I would remember something that funny!

I didn’t really want the little girl to fall. Rusty and I were sitting on the front porch watching the little girls from next door play. One part of the sidewalk was really warped from a large tree root and it tented up. This little girl (probably 5…I was about 13) was running up and down the sidewalk. Trying to be funny, I said “I’d laugh if she fell.” Well as I’ve learned, karma is a bitch. That night, Rusty and I were going somewhere (probably sneaking out of the house) and I fell right in that spot. Rusty still thinks it is hilarious.

Spam still sucks. Dad took us camping for a week at Kelly’s Island when we were kids. Dad took Rusty with him to the grocery store to shop for the trip. Rusty assured him that we all LOVED Spam. So he bought enough Spam to feed Rusty, Kelly and I for a week. Only problem was that Rusty was the only one of us who liked it. Kelly and I barely ate all week.

I can’t help that I cough loudly when I have a cold. On that same camping trip, I caught a bad cold. My cough was apparently bothersome to Rusty so she kicked me out of the tent and made me sleep outside in a lawn chair by the fire. (Cough was like that before the next item.)

Thanks for outing me as a fellow smoker – twice! She got caught stealing a cigarette from her mom. She had tucked it into her bra and it fell out on to her mom’s foot. The first thing out of her mouth? “Michelle smokes too!” I managed to sort of convince my dad that she was just trying to get me in trouble. Then, years later, she is in the hospital right after giving birth to her son and says to me, in front of Dad, “Hey Michelle do you have your smokes on you? Let’s go smoke in the bathroom.” I was a senior in college so I was an adult…but still I didn’t want my parents to know I smoked. She thought it was a hoot.

Finally, it was totally your idea to unwrap and re-wrap our gifts that year that we got stereos. Was too. Was. Was infinity. Dad – she’s touching me!

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Hmmm…not sure about that


I just added this count up clock because Elle had it and I thought it was a cool toy.  Now I’m thinking it might just depress me.  Ill leave it up for a few days and see but it might have to go *poof*.

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Great comments


Wow! I loved hearing what everyone had to say about this topic! I don’t usually do open discussion topics because often no one discusses and then I feel like I am talking to myself. And thank you to those who usually don’t comment for chiming in! I love hearing from those who want to comment (plus I can check out your blog too if your ID is linked to it). And those who don’t comment for whatever reason (not enough time, nothing to say, etc), no worries. I won’t pressure you all to de-lurk.

I hope everyone was able to take this post in the spirit it was intended. It wasn’t meant to make any one feel bad or guilty or to invalidate anyone’s journey. I was just curious what others thought. I can see both sides of the issue. And I truly believe that everyone’s pain and frustration is valid – we can’t quantify it and say “look my situation is more painful than yours”. We’ve all chosen to adopt for a variety of reasons and are equally deserving of bringing a child into our home to love – whether it is our first or our 7th (God bless you Sig). This chickenbussing chickenbus is hard no matter what your personal situation! No one would go through this process unless they truly had room in their heart for another child. Thank you all for sharing some of your thoughts. (Anyone else who wants to give their 2 cents worth is welcome comment section is always open!)

And thanks for the input about Bob as well. I’m still turning it over in my brain and waiting to see how it plays out. I appreciate the thoughts to consider.

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Tell me what you think…

I don’t often throw out topics for discussion but a post Tricia made got me to thinking. I’ve often wondered if those who have children have an easier time with the wait portion of the adoption process. They are busy loving and caring for their child(ren) so perhaps the longing for a child isn’t quite as sharp as for those of us who are childless. They aren’t marking yet another occasion without a child in their lives, without a family.But the flip side of that is those who have children know what they are waiting and wishing for (and missing out on post-referral) so perhaps they feel the wait more sharply because it isn’t just an idea/dream to them but something already part of their reality. They miss the baby smell and baby smiles rather than just imagining what it must be like.

So, please offer your thoughts on this. This isn’t meant to be a divisive topic because we are all in this together. I’m really curious to hear what both sides of the issue think. There are about 100 of you who check in daily so feel free to come out of hiding and post a comment even if it is your first. Mine isn’t a controversial blog so as long as you are respectful, I don’t imagine expressing your opinion will create any hard feelings.

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What About Bob?

I recently learned that a member of Steve’s family doesn’t agree with adoption. Let’s call him Bob. Bob’s mom is adopted. Bob and his wife have children through surrogacy. Bob is well educated and has spent a good amount of time in 3rd world countries through work. But Bob feels that international adoption is wrong. (I tell you all of this to let you know that he is aware of the poverty in the world, is no stranger to infertility, and that adoption has touched his life.) I haven’t spoken to Bob about this so I don’t know all of his reasoning around it. Bob’s mom shared this with us because she feels he has talked another member of our family out of considering international adoption. He has always been supportive and asks about our adoption progress when we see him. He has offered to loan us baby items that his children have out grown and seems to be happy for us.

Steve and I were upset to learn that someone close to us feels that way. Steve plans to talk to Bob about this but Bob doesn’t live in town so the conversation hasn’t occurred yet. I’m not sure how to feel about this. Obviously, I don’t have the power to change his views about international adoption – all I can do is offer the information we have learned during the process and hope that it makes a difference. Assuming that he continues to disagree with the adoption, will he be able to treat our child the same as he would a biological child in our family? I never would have guessed at his feeling through our interactions with him – and I’m pretty good at reading people. I haven’t had any worries up until this point about our child being fully accepted by our families. Another member of our family hasn’t been particularly supportive but we’ve all assumed that once our child is here she will be very happy for us. But this news about Bob has me worried that our child might be treated differently. And that will not be acceptable. We certainly don’t want to create tension in our family but we will not expose our child to anyone who might make her feel less than 100% part of the family. At this point, I guess all we can do is talk to Bob about it and see how it plays out. Anyone else have family members who were anti-adoption?

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The one where I start out whining but buck up in the end

Well, as is obvious from my inspiring subjects this week (a 2 part-er on my bathroom, restaurants closing, and diaper bags), there has been nothing to report in adoption world. Carla is still stuck in PGN and Guatemala. Sig had some heart-wrenching news early this week when she lost her referral. But yesterday she received a new referral and feels very connected to this baby. Other than Sig’s yesterday, there have been no new referrals at my agency since the 8 we saw 2 weeks ago. The longer between referrals, the further we fall back on the list due to our agency’s formula for referrals (people who rank higher in ‘priority’ become paper ready and move ahead of us). If I had known about this formula of theirs? I wouldn’t have signed with them. But it’s not something that was revealed until we were well into the process. I never dreamed I would be penalized for being childless when trying to adopt. I talked to people from other agencies and no one has an agency which does that (I’m sure they exist, I just haven’t found one) – it’s based strictly on date of completed dossier at most agencies. Hopefully my decision to use this agency will prove smart later in the process. Monday will mark 5 weeks waiting. There are a few families who have been waiting a month longer than we have so hopefully they will hear some good news this weekend. We fallen far enough down the list again that I’ve stopped keeping track. (I think we may be back in double digits…that’s after reaching #5 or 6 at one point.) I don’t know how many people may have received that coveted 171h and moved ahead to wait for their referrals. And if you are one of them – heart felt congrats. I would never begrudge anyone their baby. I am so happy when I see referrals. My bitterness has nothing to do with those ahead of me on the list. It’s all directed at the inanimate formula which governs the list. And very dependent on my mood.

Chickenbus! I’m a whine ass today. For better news, check out Elle. Elle expressed some regret that she would be away when I receive my referral and she would miss the excitement (she’ll be in Russia picking up Pickle so I don’t think it was really regret…just a nice sentiment). Elle, I’ll still be here whining about the wait when you get home in 3 weeks – you’ll only miss my excitement if you are too busy with motherhood to read blogs for awhile (which would be totally understandable). Safe travels. Also, Stephanie is picking up Emma in China right now. Her post of their first couple of days together is sweet. And Karen is traveling to pick up her baby in China in 2 weeks. AND Mary-Mia is trying to make it through the weekend so that she can finally receive The Call on Monday. So there – I guess there are some wonderful things happening in adoption-land.

I love this clip. Most people have seen it at some point – it’s laughing babies. It just cracks me up.

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Can close businesses in a single bound


Remember my post of weird things that happen to me or around me? Like Taco Bell running out of taco meat? Or the pizza place being out of pepperoni? Well there is another odd thing that I didn’t mention. Whenever I find a favorite dish at a restaurant, they take it off the menu. There was this certain pizza and certain microbrew beer at a local pub that made me very happy. Both gone. The horseradish crusted Chilean sea bass at Atria’s? Finito. My favorite portabella and shrimp soft tacos at Mad Mex? Vanished. Seriously, it happens a lot. It’s like a weird (and undesirable) super power. This weekend it seemed to spread beyond just menu items to engulf entire restaurants. (Thankfully none were even close to my favorite…but they served a purpose.)

Last Friday night, Steve says “Let’s go to Damon’s.” We like to go there, have a couple of drinks and play trivia now and then. We arrive – out of business. Because we were in the mindset for that type of food, we head over to Lonestar. Out of business. The next night we decide to go to a movie and grab something to eat beforehand. We decide on a restaurant right across the street from the movie theater. Out of business. We decide to run through the Taco Bell drive through just to grab something quick. Out of business. This seemed extremely odd because there are new businesses opening all of the time in our area so it certainly isn’t stagnant as far as new business goes. (I mean we just had our 3rd Target in a 10 mile radius of us open up.) What happened to them all? And did they all close at the same time or did we just not notice until now? If I have this power, why can’t I make all King’s Restaurants disappear (King’s is the most foul chain I’ve ever been in – think Denny’s with much worse food and a lot more dirt).

But the news that sent me over the edge was this: DSW closed. Not all of them, just the one closest to me. I love DSW (I hate paying full price – I’m all about bargains). I’m not quite sure how I can go on without access to name brand discounted shoes. (I know…I started with food and ended up at shoes. But doesn’t everything always come back to shoes?)

**I’m really reaching for things to talk about these days. Nothing is happening in adoption land for us so I have no news.

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Ahhh…the joys of home ownership


When Steve and I began looking at homes, we quickly realized that we wanted a house, not a townhouse or condo. (Steve has a thing about agreeing to rules which limit his freedoms to do what he wants with his own home. Yeah – we would go over big at the condo association meeting.) Because of our shared disdain for cookie cutter McMansions (although I do love their kitchens and walk-in closets), we also realized we wanted an older home because they tend to have more character. This is an easy decision to make where we live because it is an older city. The McMansions lie further out in the farther flung suburbs and we wanted a short commute. We had a couple of other criteria: 1) we didn’t want to be mortgage poor no matter how great the house, 2) I refused to buy a house without a driveway (on street parking is very common in many neighborhoods), 3) I refused to lug groceries up 2 flights of steps to get to our front door (this is a very hilly city and people like to perch houses on the edge of small cliffs), 4) I wanted enough space between me and the neighbors that I couldn’t stand between the houses and touch both (also not uncommon in this old city of ours), and 5) I didn’t want to live in a valley near a creek (there had just been a pretty major flood). It was November, I forgot to put central a/c on the list. (Stupid, stupid, stupid!)

With the character of an older house, you also get the quirks. The couple who owned the house before us lived here for 50 years. We bought it from the widow after the husband passed away. The man was a do-it-yourself kind of guy. He DIY’ed before you could run to Home Depot and find everything you needed. Standing in my basement and viewing his handy work makes me think of my own grandfather fixing things around the house. In that day and age, you fixed things so they worked – there really was no right or wrong way if it got the job down. Well, viewing the work many years later, I have to say perhaps using coat hangers and twist ties to hold up the pipes and wiring works but it sure ain’t pretty. And these unorthodox ways of completing projects makes any home improvement project we tackle much more difficult.

So why this meandering narrative about our house? Well, it is to set up tomorrow’s post. I have been without a bathroom sink since Sunday. That is largely due to the older house we bought (from the man who liked to do it himself) making it a less than easy job. I’m waiting for running water before I declare the project a success and show the before, during, and after photos. My father-in-law is involved in the project now. I’m no longer worried. I will have running water AND a vanity which is mostly intact after this evening. That was in question for the first couple of days.

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