Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

6 days


I can think of little beyond our upcoming visit.  The couple of brain cells left over are thinking about work.  I just have to get through work today and tomorrow.  Over the weekend, I will pack 2 suitcases for myself – one for DC and one for Guatemala.  Saturday we are attending a little holiday dinner with some extended family.  Otherwise, I am free to sleep and pack.  I haven’t been sleeping well.  It looks like Steve has been punching me in the face because my normal dark circles now look like baggy bruises.  So Friday night and Saturday night I will be self-medicating with Tylenol PM.  Monday morning I will leave for DC.  I have a little anxiety over driving to my conference in DC.  Not because I dislike driving long distances but because I despise traffic in DC.  (If you see a desperate blonde with PA plates, for the love of God, let her merge!)  I printed out directions and there are an insane number of highways and surface roads involved in getting to my “conveniently located” hotel.  I’m hoping I can ditch the rubber chicken dinner early enough to wander down to see the mall at night – supposedly the hotel is less than a mile from it.  Tuesday evening I will return home.  Tuesday night it will be impossible to sleep – although not for reasons related to insomnia.  Wednesday morning at 4:00am we will leave for the airport. 

See how boring I am? We’ve been over all of that before – although in less excruciating detail.  Hello, Department of Redundancy Department.  The only other thing I can think of to mention today is:  HAPPY BIRTHDAY MISS EMMA!  Carla’s little one is 1 today.  And I could tell you about the perfect salads I’ve been making for lunch all week (spring greens, raspberries, pecans, chicken and feta with a light pear vinaigrette) but that would be just plain silly.  I could complain that I have a meeting about a meeting this afternoon.  But that is bureaucracy for you.  I’ll try to have something interesting to say tomorrow.

Don’t forget to sign up for the Secret Blog Pals if you want to participate!  We’ve got about 20 ladies who are signed up…but the more the merrier if anyone else is interested, scroll down a few posts.

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Surprise photos with a side of AHHH!



We got our surprise visit photos this morning!  She’s such a cutie!


Holy crap people! Only 7 days!  In 7 days I get to hold Sabrina!  AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!  I’ve been excited but still relatively calm up until the last couple of days.  But now?  Do you remember that feeling you would get as a small child counting down the days until Christmas when it was so close you could hardly stand it?  Or the last week of school – trying to concentrate to get through the end but ready to jump out of your skin because you were so ready for summer to start?  That is totally me this week.  Excited, distracted, day-dreaming.  It is probably a good thing that I will be away at a conference the last 2 days before we leave because I would get nothing done at work.  I keep trying to imagine how it will feel when they put her in my arms – but my brain can’t even begin to comprehend it.

I’ve been struggling with a couple of logistical things – perhaps the old pros can help me.

First, I want to drink coffee.  I am not an addict by any means but I love a good cup of coffee.  But, I’m afraid to drink the water.  Do they heat the coffee hot enough to kill any bacteria?  I know the hotels filter their water but I’m still a little nervous – I really don’t want to spend my precious days with Sabrina locked in the bathroom.  And if I can drink the coffee, do they offer cream?  Because I can’t do it black.  And is the cream safe?  I’m taking my own sweetner because I fear they don’t know about the pink stuff or the yellow stuff.  Should I not be nervous if we stick to the food and beverages in the hotel?

Second, I know the business center at our hotel has computers with internet access.  I will try to update my blog and email my mother.  But I don’t know if I can upload photos.  We are taking a crappy laptop to store photos on because we know our memory stick will likely be full at least once a day.  But will anyone object if I use my camera cable to upload photos in the business center?  Is the connection fast enough to not make me want to poke out my eyes if I do this?  Or should I just leave everyone in suspense until we return as far as photos go?

Third, it will be December.  I am trying to decide what to pack.  The 10 day forecast says our first full day there will be 68 and raining.  Is that a humid 68 where I will still want short sleeves or is that a damp 68 where I will wish I had a sweater?  I was planning to take capris, shorts (for the family floor), and short sleeves with just 1 sweater in case it got chilly in the evening but now I am worried I might want some more long sleeves.  Veterans who have been there in December?

Half of my office is coming down with something.  I want to put a bubble around my desk because I so do not want to be sick while visiting Sabrina.  Don’t these people know better than to come to work and spread their germs?  Did I mention I will be there in 7 days?!?

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Let’s play pretend


Am I the only one who sometimes feels like she is pretending at the whole grown up thing?  I was walking down the street at lunch time and passed this woman.  She was probably a couple of years older than me.  She was dressed well and had an easy smile.  My first thought when I saw her was that she looked like such a grown up.  I don’t know if I look like a grown up but I know that there are a lot of days when I don’t feel like a grown up – I just feel like I am doing a passable imitation of one.

Don’t get me wrong, I behave like a grown up the majority of the time.  I just don’t feel much different than I did at 19.  By all outward appearances, I appear to be a grown up.  I have a home, a checking and savings account, a tiny bit of money in a retirement fund, own a pet, own a car, take vacations, and am adopting a child.  That’s all pretty grown up sounding.  Yet I often find myself thinking “Wow, that is something a grown up would do!” when I plan a vacation or buy a car (or decide to adopt a child!).  Is there a point at which I start feeling like grown up full time?  Will becoming a mom do that for me?  I’m just curious because it would be weird to be 64 and saying “wow, that’s totally something a grown up would do!”

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Turkey Hangover


I am sad Thanksgiving is over.  It is really my favorite holiday – lots of good food, surrounded by family, a long weekend, and no gifts to obsess over or decorations to worry about.  It’s a low stress holiday for me and I’m a big fan.  Now it’s Monday…again…and I have to go back to that place (they insist I show up every Monday if I want a paycheck – sheesh, they are so demanding).  I hope all of you out there in blogland had a lovely holiday weekend.  We truly did.  My mom was in town and I enjoyed hanging out with her.  I managed to avoid anything resembling a shopping mall all weekend – although we did stop at a few cool non-mall places.  We ate well all weekend.  Thanksgiving day was spent with my mom, Steve and my wonderful in-laws.  What more could a girl ask for (well other than some good news on the freaking adoption front…but let’s not go down that road today).


After several of you expressed shock and awe that I was still trying to keep up with blogs the old fashioned way, I did sign up for Bloglines.  I tried Sage,which is a firefox plug in, first but was having trouble getting it to work correctly.  I have to say I’m torn about my feelings for Bloglines.  I love the convenience of looking in one place to see who has updated.  No more wasted time waiting for a blog to load (stupid blogger) only to find that it wasn’t updated. But it feels so much more impersonal reading through bloglines.  I’m adjusting and for the most part liking it. Thanks for the tip ladies!


My success for the weekend is that I managed to pack Sabrina’s suitcase and it is under the 50 lb limit!  Woohoo!  It’s about 45 lbs…all of her things, including the bumbo and the bouncy seat, and 4 of the 6 ziplocs we are taking are in it.  You should have seen me trying to weigh it on our scale without actually using the method of stepping on the scale and then holding it to see what it added to my weight.  I didn’t want to know my weight.


I have about a dozen people signed up for the secret blog pal plan.  (See previous post.)  We will keep accepting new names until next Sunday.  Sign up if you are interested.  We’ve received several from those who don’t have blogs but read blogs and want to be part of the international adoption community – it’s fun to hear from some new folks!

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Secret Blog Pals for international adoption


Tricia asked about how to get a secret blog pal on her blog and then Carla prodded me again about it. So we’ve decided to start our own group of secret blog pals. Someone invited me to join a group awhile ago but I got distracted by something shiny and never signed up. Since I missed that boat and several people said they were interested on Tricia’s comments, we are going to start another group.

What is a secret blog pal? We will “assign” pals to people who sign up. You will receive little surprises in the mail from your secret pal. The little gifts might be hand made or something they purchased. (We want to put a cap on the amount spent so that everyone can afford to participate.) These might be little gifts for baby or for mommy. You, in turn, will send gifts to your pal.
Requirements? If you are adopting internationally or have recently adopted internationally (recent is a relative term but if you are reading our blogs then you are recent enough) then please join in. We are still talking about the logistics (will blog pals change every few months or will you have the same pal forever? what will the $ limit be – we are thinking $10?) so those details will be forthcoming. If you don’t have a blog but read and comment on other blogs, you can still join us but it might be harder for your blog pal to get to “know” you without a blog to read. If you don’t have a blog, I can always post your thank yous here to your secret blog pal so they know you received and enjoyed your package.
To get started, send us an email answering the following questions. None of this will be published publicly and will only be shared with your blog pal.


Mailling address

Country adopting/adopted from

Where are you in the adoption process? (Is your baby home? Are you paperchasing? Do you have a referral?)

Gender, name, age, current size/weight of baby (if known)

Age you are hoping your baby will be at homecoming

Do you have a nursery?  What is or what will the theme be?

Do you have other children at home? If yes, ages.

Favorites or dislikes (for example if you are adopting a girl but hate pink, tell your blog pal this…or if, like Carla, you have a love of all things camo, share that…if your tastes are traditional or funky you can also tell your pal this)

Blog address

Email address

Any other info you think might be helpful for a secret blog pal

If you are interested in participating (you don’t have to “know” the other bloggers…it isn’t that kind of secret club), email us at secretblogpals at yahoo dot com. We will allow 1 week for sign up. Then we will start sending out your secret blog pal information.

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Working in a large office has afforded me the opportunity to see the vast array of products sold by school children these days.  When I was a kid, I sold Girl Scout cookies and usually 1 school fund raiser a year.  The catalog was usually filled with an assortment of crap from over priced wrapping paper to acrylic ornaments with a baby deer ‘etched’ into it.  Things have changed though.  There seems to be a new fundraiser each grading period.  In the past couple of months, I have seen catalogs filled with pizza, hot pretzels, cookie dough in a tub, hoagies, and candies.  Come to think of it, they all seem to be food related these days.

I’m always torn about buying these items (except the GS cookies…I start stalking Girl Scouts around cookie time).  The items are usually way over priced and the quality is often questionable.  The items aren’t certainly anything that I need or even necessarily want.  I have never met these children and likely never will.  My rule used to be that I didn’t buy school fund raiser items from parents.  I would only buy them if the kids put the effort in to sell them.  But I’ve softened that stance over the years.  Many of us don’t live in neighborhoods where it is safe to send kids door-to-door alone and parents don’t always have time to take them out.  And many kids are busy with activities and don’t have time to actively sell these items.  And it’s not like the schools can’t use the money.

At home it’s a non-issue – if the kid comes to my door, I will purchase something from him or her (crap, I hope my neighbors don’t read this or I will have kids flocking to my door).  At work, my new policy is that I will buy a small item from fund raisers if I know the parent, if I can find an item that won’t go completely to waste, and if it isn’t so overpriced it makes me wince.  Guess my tolerance was high the other day.  I’m expecting a tub of cookie dough (makes 3 dozen cookies) for the bargain price of $17.00.

Do you all buy this stuff too?

Black Friday


I miss the 80’s.  Yes, the hair was big, the eyeliner was heavy and the clothes were bad.  But anything low fat was good for you.  No one worried about carbs and calories were an after thought.  All that mattered was fat content.  I could feel virtuous eating pasta, rice, and bread.  I love pasta, rice and bread.  (I went on Atkins for 5 days once and was ready to hijack a bread truck.)  This morning I had a bagel.  I don’t eat bagels very often because I know I shouldn’t.  But man oh man.  A honey whole wheat bagel with a smear of pumpkin cream cheese and a cup of hazelnut coffee – mornings don’t start much better than that.  And the bagel place is right by a cool area down town that does an ice skating rink and big Christmas tree – kind of our mini version of Rockefeller Center.  So it was a good breakfast and some Christmas spirit at the same time.

I don’t shop the day after Thanksgiving.  There are no sales worthy of that type of headache.  I am not a fan of malls to begin with but add in an extra thousand people and I become a major Grinch.  The only shopping we did was at a little neighborhood Italian market.  Yesterday’s wonderful turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes were eaten with such zeal that there aren’t many left overs.  So we went to this little market and got some hand made lobster ravioli and sausage stuffed banana peppers for dinner.  Other than continuing to eat our way through the weekend, we don’t have any real plans.  Just hanging out and enjoying the decent weather and the long weekend.  Hope you are all doing the same!

On the adoption side of things, we have no news but a couple of others have had some excitement recently.  Stephanie received her referral – a baby boy for Thanksgiving!   Andrea also received her referral of a baby boy last week!  And Julie left on Thanksgiving day to pick up her son in Guatemala.  Congrats to those who had wonderful news to be thankful for on Thanksgiving!

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Happy Turkey Day!


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Following the lead of many of my fellow bloggers, I thought I would list the top 10 things I am thankful for this year.

1. I am married to the most wonderful man in the world.
2. Next year I know that Sabrina will be playing with mashed potatoes in her high chair at home.
3. Great friends and family.  And that this adoption journey has brought so many amazing new people into my life.
4. That I have great in-laws so I can enjoy spending the holiday with them.
5. Financial stability (mostly).
6. Health and happiness.
7. Momma is here so we get to share the holiday with her for a change.
8. A comfortable and safe place to call home.
9. That despite my often jaded and sarcastic attitude, I am still awed by the beauty of the world and the people around me.
10. Chocolate.

A date with Scrooge


2 weeks!?!  We leave 2 weeks from today to visit our sweet girl!  We are both incredibly excited.  I’m also nervous but Steve claims to have no worries.  I think we are ready gear-wise for the trip.  I washed everything last weekend and am planning to start packing this weekend.  We picked up a couple of munchies to keep in our room (beef jerky – I know Carla will approve – and some granola).  I’ve made my own packing list.  I think this might be the most prepared I’ve ever been for an international trip (picture me up until 3am before leaving for Greece, Scotland, fill in the country, doing laundry and cramming things into a suitcase figuring I can sleep on the plane).

I’m even trying to be pro-active in battling the post-visit blues.  I took the day after we get home off so that I can 1) feel very sorry for myself while lying in bed with the covers over my head, moaning and sobbing at 15 minute intervals and 2) drive to Ohio and pick up my dog who will be spending the time we are gone with his country cousins.  The other thing I have done is plan something that I’m really looking forward to for the weekend after we return.

I’ve been saying since I moved to the city that I want to go see either the Nutcracker or the Christmas Carol.  It’s been years since I’ve seen either and I’ve never seen either here.  I gave my husband a choice between the 2 and wasn’t surprised that he chose Christmas Carol over the ballet.  So I bought tickets to the show the Saturday after we get home.  After the show, we are going to go out to dinner at one of our favorite (and decidedly non-baby friendly nor non-one-income-family friendly) restaurants.  We will eat a nice dinner, drink a nice wine, and enjoy ourselves while reminding each other we won’t be able to do this once Sabrina comes home.  The weekend after that is Christmas and the one after that is New Years – so I should be okay until mid-January.  And mid-January is blah for everyone in this part of the county so I won’t be alone in my crankiness.  By then, mom and I will likely have a trip planned to go back down to visit and I can start a new countdown.  I think that is a pretty decent plan for dealing with a situation that sucks donkeys.

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Michelle’s Soliloquy


Julie is bringing Matthew home next week!  WOOHOO – pink is such a wonderful color in the land of Guatemalan adoptions.  Thinking of her bringing her baby boy home has got me thinking of bringing Sabrina home someday – more the logistics than the warm fuzzy “she’s home” thing.  Steve and I have talked about whether or not we want to give her some Benedryl or Tylenol to help her sleep through the flight to save her, us and our fellow flyers a painful flight if she isn’t happy to be flying.  This has led me to compose my own (okay, not totally my own Shakespear via Hamlet might have thought of something along these lines first) soliloquy on the subject – and yes, it’s really quiet at work this week.

To drug or not to drug…that is the question

Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind
To suffer the slings and arrows of fellow passengers
Or to take arms against a sea of disdain
And by opposing end them?  To drug; to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The crying, fussing and distress of the thousand natural shocks
That babies are prone to, ‘tis a peace and quiet
Devoutly to be wish’d.  To drug; to sleep;
To sleep perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of benedryl what judgment may come
When other parents hear that we’ve drugged our child
Into sleep through this flight: there’s no respect
For taking the easy way out of that calamity;
For we shall bear the whips and scorn of self righteous
Parents, the proud oppressor’s, and experience
The pangs of guilt over drug not needed but given to spare
Ourselves and the insolent fellow passengers hours of crying.

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