Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

Trying to be blissful


I got a nice little ego boost this morning from my husband.  First he said that my outfit looked great then after a moments thought he asked if I had a crush on someone at my meeting this morning.  I figured I must look nice if he is wondering if I dressed to impress another man – he is not jealous but nice for him to wonder.  Of course this opinion was shored up by the homeless man who told me I looked nice on the way to my meeting – didn’t even ask me for a quarter after he complimented me.  Guess I should wear skirts more often – it’s good for the ego. 

My meeting went well I suppose.  But can I just tell all of you out in corporate America that powdered creamer is not acceptable?  I don’t care if it changes the color of my coffee; it isn’t cream – its crap!

Then I returned to the office to discover my dealer Girl Scout mom isn’t in today so I have to wait until tomorrow for my cookie fix.  Fortunately, my day started out happy enough that I survived the cream debacle and the cookie disappointment.

You may all wonder why I am talking about compliments and creamer and cookies instead of the elephant in the room – the Protocolo announcement set for tomorrow which could royally screw us all if they try to implement it.  I’m refusing to read about it or research it or even think about it.  We’ve been through this scare twice since I started this adoption and I just can’t handle anymore drama.  When and if they make this announcement, I will be a lemming and listen only to what my agency has to say about it.  I will not comb every message board and website that I can find for further information.  I will read strictly my agency’s opinion and otherwise bury my head in the sand.  I can’t believe that there will be anything else that will muck up or slow down our adoption.  Denial is working for me right now and I choose to believe that ignorance is bliss because being well informed did nothing for me except begin eating a hole in my stomach lining and thin my hair a bit.

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This and That Tuesday


Yesterday marked 3 weeks since our family court interviews were done.  Guess we weren’t blessed with a fast social worker. Sabrina turns 6 months old on Sunday.

Know what tomorrow is?  It is the day I score from my dealer Girl Scout cookies arrive! 

Know what else tomorrow is?  2 weeks since I quit smoking.  They say the first 14 years days is the hardest.

It is also the last day of this round of secret blog pals.  We will be doing a 3rd round.  I will put out the call for those who want to participate again (or become new participants) next week.  I will do the reveal of this round’s matches later this week for those who haven’t figured it out.

I heart sudoku.  I got a sudoku a day calendar so I get to do a puzzle every single day.  They are too easy but I still enjoy it.  I need a pen and a few minutes to fill one in.  Steve? Can look at it and see where the numbers go without writing anything down.  However, he still hasn’t figured out where the big spoons go in the silverware drawer.  Riddle me that.

We have a photo printer but are notoriously bad at actually printing photos out.  I usually wait until I have a bunch and then order them from snapfish.  I hadn’t done it in awhile and ordered 251 photos on Sunday.  Only 8 of them were doubles.  Yikes.  And yes, I believe all of them were of Sabrina – doctor photos, monthly updates and my visit.  Child is going to think the world revolves around her.

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Monday Morning Memo


Dear Co-worker:
Perhaps you aren’t aware, so let me take this opportunity to inform you that there are unwritten bathroom etiquettes that we follow in this office. First, whenever possible, always leave an empty stall between you and anyone else using the facilities. Second, if you are having a conversation with someone on your way into the bathroom stalls, don’t assume that person wants to continue the conversation during her use of the facilities. If you receive nothing but monosyllabic responses, it might be an indication that the other party would rather pick up where you left off when you meet up at the sinks. Not everyone is comfortable tinkling and talking.

Thank you,
The management

P.S. Sorry for the cranky tone. My head is so stuffed up that I can only hear out of one ear and only have 21% usage of my one functioning nostril. Add that to the fact I haven’t had a cigarette in 12 days and you’ve got one big old crank butt on your hands. But still, stop using the stall right next to me when there are 5 open ones further down!

Ho-hum or I can’t imagine why you people keep reading my blog


We had several hours of freezing rain last night so everything is nice and slick here today.  I’m kind of done with winter this year.  Enough with the snow and ice and cold already!

I didn’t completely unpack after our first visit trip so I found some remanents when packing for this last trip.  Steve decided to model the crowns Sig brought for us last time.
dsc01634.JPG I think maybe the FTC ladies looked better in them:


I’m on a middle eastern food kick lately.  I am making Steve take me to a middle eastern restaurant for dinner tonight and I’ve been eating the hummus I made all weekend. I’m a little afraid for my co-workers on Monday.  My hummus is very garlicky and I might knock them all over with garlic pouring from my pores tomorrow morning.

We had dinner with my in-laws last night.  They are board game people (which I adore about them) so we played TriBond.  Basically they game gives you 3 things and you have to say what they have in common. This game makes me a little crazy because my brain doesn’t function that way – at least not quickly.  If I had few minutes to ponder it I might do better.  Examples:
Out * Full * White  – answer?

An average student * A list of Roman numerals * The Earth – the answer?

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Odds and Ends


First, I have to give a shout out to Steph. Amelia is finally coming home! She got news of her OUT yesterday. Steph has had a very long road so we are all doing a happy dance for her here in blogland. I hope she makes it home in time to celebrate her birthday with you Steph! Congrats!

Second, I want to remind everyone that this round of Secret Blog Pals is coming to an end this week. My SBP outed herself to me this week. Muriel has been an amazing blog pal – she sent so many wonderful gifts and made a donation of $25 in Sabrina’s name to the Missioneros De Camino Orphanage. I can’t think of a more thoughtful gift! Thank you Muriel! We will be starting another round of SBPs in a couple of weeks so start thinking about if you want to participate in round #3.

Lastly, I just want to thank you all for the amazing comments and support in the past week. I’m still stunned by the wonderful community we have here. Between support over quitting smoking (this is day 10 or 11) and all of the responses over my posts about my trip, I feel so loved! I’m glad my honesty helps others but your responses each validated my feelings and I appreciate that.

P.S. To the person who found me by googling “bra had some kind of bugs in it” – sorry, that really sucks but can’t help you out with that one.

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Post visit wrap up


I think everyone romanticizes visit trips and how wonderful things will be when we bring our babies home. We anticipate those visit trips for weeks and envision the wonderful bonding time with out beautiful children. A good number of people out there who suffer from varying amounts of depression after they finally bring their child home because things don’t meet the idealized scenario we have in our heads. We tell ourselves it might be hard but we believe that we can handle it. And many of us believe that we will be one of the lucky ones with a smooth transition home. Many of us have been dreaming of having a baby in the house for years. Then the reality of a screaming, grieving baby enters our home and brings us to our knees.

My first visit trip was definitely the honeymoon. Sabrina was a doll – fussed very little and slept a good deal. Steve and I smiled at each other over the top of her head when she would fuss a little bit. I dressed her in beautiful outfits and watched her peacefully sleep. She was really only full-blown not happy during tummy time – otherwise we had no problems.

Prior to my second visit, my biggest concern was that I would be leaving her at the end of it unsure of when I would see her again. I knew it would be different because she was older and would sleep less and Steve wasn’t going to be with me but I really wasn’t concerned. I had visions of my mom and me bonding over my first child/her first grandchild while Sabrina cooed and smiled. Reality was a little different: Sabrina was sick and my mom and I snapped at each other much of the week. I spent the week feeling inadequate, exhausted, and frustrated. Sabrina spent a good deal of the week being cranky and difficult to comfort. My mom spent a good deal of the week biting her tongue and trying not to interfere.

Honestly, there were moments when I wanted to go home. I would have gladly taken her with me but I just wanted out of that damned hotel. The first visit it was kind of charming. This visit it felt claustrophobic. I had walked all of the halls, shopped in the little shops, sat by the pool, visited the family room – I wanted out! I felt like every little bit of progress I made with Sabrina was futile. The sustained eye contact, the cuddling and seeking comfort from me, the growing trust during bath time – all seemed useless because I knew I would have to start back at ground zero next time I saw her. I was sad because as I figured out what comforted her, what made her laugh, what her different cries meant, I knew all of that would change before I saw her again.

Of course I wouldn’t trade the time I spent with her for anything but this wasn’t a fun visit. During the first visit, I felt at peace and complete for the first time in a long time. This visit, I felt I needed a vacation afterward. Despite the difficulty, I am glad I went. This visit reminded me that we were likely going to have a rough patch of adjustment when she comes home. It reminded me that being a parent is hard work. It reminded me that I need to have realistic expectations for our first several months as a family. It reminded me to catch up on my sleep before we pick her up. Our first trip made me a mom but my second trip forced me to act like one.

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Breaking up is hard to do


nosmoking.jpgThere were a couple of comments when I did the meme post about what was in my purse because I had a couple of books of matches and a lighter.  Most who commented said something like they were sure I didn’t smoke so why so many implements of fire?  Well, I did smoke.  Yep, I’m one of those evil smokers. 

I started smoking around the age of 14.  I used to sort of play at smoking until I moved to NJ.  I got off the bus the first day at my new school and saw kids lighting up.  I was freaking out – there were teachers right there?!? What were they doing?!? There was an outdoor smoking section at this school.  I had trouble making friends and the smoking section gave me a place to meet people.  We had something in common – we were cool, we smoked, we bonded.  So I became a real smoker at age 15.  I never thought I would be 34 and still smoking but here I am.  The problem is that I like smoking.  I always have.  Nothing better than a cigarette and a cup of coffee or a cigarette after a meal or a cigarette and a cocktail…ahhhhh.  

I kept saying I would quit when I got pregnant.  When that didn’t happen, Steve and I quit the summer before last.  We quit for a couple of months.  We made some rules because I couldn’t handle the thought of NEVER smoking again.  We agreed that we could smoke when we drank or when we went on road trips.  This resulted in us spending time in bars drinking when we never used to – just so we could smoke.  Steve had a few bad days.  He smoked and brought me a pack.  We quickly slid back into the habit.   We quit when we went to Guatemala in December.  When I received news of my dad’s passing, the first thing I did was grab a cigarette. 

So, I quit again when I went to Guatemala this time.  I have a much easier time quitting when I am out of my element.  I didn’t even think about smoking in Guatemala – I wouldn’t want to expose Sabrina to it.  We have both committed that we will have a smoke free household before she comes home.  Today is day 8 smoke free – they say the first 14 days are the hardest.  It is much harder to not smoke when I am going through my normal day.  My first thought when I get into the car to drive to work or after work is to light a cigarette.  When I sit down at the computer after work to read blogs or email, I reach for a cigarette.  I’m seriously okay without the nicotine now – it’s just that I don’t know what to do with my hands or how to mark time.  Smokers mark time with their habit.  We think “I’ll smoke a cigarette and then I’ll go make dinner” (hush, I always wash my hands) or “I’ll do the dishes and then I’ll sit down and smoke a cigarette”.  I don’t know how to not do that.  With the exception of those few months over a year ago, my entire adult life I have been a smoker.  I’ve been smoking for 20 years.  That’s a well ingrained habit.  How do you break it? 

My best defense so far is mint.  I hate menthol cigarettes so I hate gum or mints when I am smoking.  That and little dum-dum suckers help.  I tried blow pops once but my jaw ached so badly after the first couple of days I had to give them up – that gum is tough!  The only thing that has truly stopped me from “just one” in the past 2 days is that I know it will taste like crap and make me nauseous.  But sometimes that isn’t even so bad sounding.  Any other reformed smokers out there have any tips on how to resist the urge?

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I’ve got to quit saying never…


Still putting together a post of thoughts on this second trip…and thank you to everyone who has chimed in that this was a normal experience.  It is helpful to know I’m not alone in this.
I’m sure everyone was riveted by my Target post and the new sandals I bought for my trip.

dsc01448.JPG Remember these? Well they did this to me on the first day:

dsc01632.JPG It is out of focus because no one really wants to see a close up of days old blisters. I wore bandaids for the rest of my trip. They were the only shoes I took – I was trying to pack light.
You might also remember that several times I’ve mentioned my habit of jumping on a trend when it is dead? (Still thinking I might check out those MP3 things everyone has been talking about someday.) My mom talked me into these Mary Jane style shoes that I believe I’ve said more than once I would NEVER own and I might even have mocked my dear friend Carla for hers – so mock away my friends:

dsc01633.JPG At least I’m not the guy at the airport selling these ugly ass but oh so comfortable things. He was dressed in khakis and wearing a white pair with white socks – I’m surprised the guys at the sunglass hut kiosk don’t beat him up. He wears them to work every day – usually with socks he says – and he showed me the new line being introduced and had the audacity to call one style “the executive”. I told him you can’t use rubber (sorry he told me several times it is actually foam) to make a shoe and then try to pass it off as something acceptable for a workplace unless you get splashed by bodily fluids while working.

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Catching up


Okay, I said I would catch you all up. Saturday night was a bad night. Sabrina just flat out refused to sleep in her crib – she woke up 6 times between 10 and 11:45pm. I didn’t want her sleeping in the bed because it just makes me nervous. Mom was complaining that she was tired and wanted to sleep. I was frustrated. Sabrina was pissed. It wasn’t a happy place. Around 3am exhaustion won and I put Sabrina in bed with me. I didn’t really sleep though because I was worried about Sabrina smothering or rolling over on her.

As a result of all of that, we were all a little cranky on Sunday. I was so tired I was seeing double.

dsc01614.JPG Here is her cranky self at breakfast. That face cracks me up!

dsc01617.JPG You can see both my hand and my mom’s hand trying to entertain her so that we might finish our cafe con leche. It took quite the effort to keep her happy.
Sabrina had a severe meltdown early in the afternoon – cried for 45 minutes for no reason I could discern and nothing I could do calmed her. I actually seemed to make it worse. At one point she calmed down a little until she saw my face and then lost her mind again. My mom came in and found me crying that she hated me. She took her downstairs so I could take a nap. I realized when I laid down that I was running a pretty high fever so that accounted for my feeling so out of whack. I slept for 2 hours and woke up feeling like a human being again. We had a much better evening and night on Sunday.


Monday I had to give her back to her foster mom. I managed to hold it together until after I walked away. I sucked it up pretty quickly then headed to the airport. Mindy and her husband (from our agency) were a help and good company on the way to the airport and during our wait for our flight – thanks Mindy! I arrived home around 12:30am.

dsc01625.JPG Final wardrobe change.


I will post later about my overall thoughts on this trip. It was definitely different than the first and much harder. But I still feel like a piece of me is missing this morning as I sit at the computer and not worry about someone in the bouncy seat beside me becoming extremely unhappy.

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Heading home


Yesterday was a little rough and the night before that was just plain ugly so I haven’t had the energy to update all of you.  We had a good evening and night so we are ending on a good note.  I’ll fill in the lost day once I return home.

I have a couple of hours before I have to hand Miss Sabrina back.  Even though this trip has been more of a challenge, I am going to miss her terribly.  I’m leaving Guatemala with a heavy heart, not knowing when I’ll see my little girl again.

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