Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.



Yesterday was my last day at work.  I haven’t been coy about the fact that I didn’t love my job so I didn’t expect to feel ambivalent when it came down to the last moments.  I expected I would get on the elevator to leave the building with something akin to the last day of school feeling as a kid – freedom and endless possibilities for the summer.   Instead, I felt a little happy and a little sad.  Every day for 2 years, I knew where I belonged and what my day would look like.  Now?  I have no idea what the future holds.  I don’t know who I am as a mom yet so I can’t forumlate a picture of what my world might look like in a month.  But I am curious and excited to figure it all out.

The other reason for my ambivalence was my co-workers.  Everyone gets busy and we forget what neat people we work with sometimes.  A few of us went out for a drink after work and I had such a good time just hanging out and laughing with them.  We rarely socialize outside of the office because everyone is as busy in their personal lives as they are at work.  I forgot how much I like some of the people I work with.  And strangely I made a new friend in my last few days – someone I hadn’t really talked to much prior to my resignation.  She said as we were leaving the bar “I wish I had started talking to you sooner!”  Me too Jill.

So, for now the work chapter in my life is closed.  Weird.  I’ve been working since I was 16 and scooping ice cream cones at Goshen Dairy.  My worst job?  I spent a summer working on a road crew, shovelling 15 tons of gravel a day as we hand patched county roads for $5 an hour.  After college I worked 3 jobs and went to grad school.  I ended this chapter of my work career on a disappointing note because I wasn’t able to make a discernable difference.  But I’ve done many things I am very proud of since I began working 18 years ago.  I’ve helped a lot of people and made a difference in their lives.  Now I am turning my focus to my own family.  It feels a little decadent and a little scary but I know this new chapter will be an adventure.

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The Big Day


It’s Friday. My last day at my job. And there are signs of spring in my yard:


My lilac bush…I am really going to miss watching it bloom this spring.  We have 4 bushes along our driveway and the other side of our yard has about 20 bushes that create a “fence” between us the the neighbor.  The smell is heavenly in the spring.


Pretty weeds in my yard are starting to grow.


And Angus has his ball out waiting to play. It’s a poor excuse for a ball at this point – it is split in half, has nothing inside it, and is being held together by fuzz.

On a sad note, my dear friend Tricia received a Previo yesterday – one that doesn’t have a next day fix.  Go give her some love —> she’s on my blogroll.  Tricia’s always there to cheer everyone else on so let’s give her some support.

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A Mystery


I received an anonymous package in the mail yesterday.  I was a little perplexed by this because I didn’t include myself in the SBPs this round – I figured it might be hard to participate from Guatemala.  The package wasn’t ticking so I tore it open.  What did I find?


If you can’t read it, it says “Hope”.  I’ve mentioned my re-newed hope a few times here lately and thought this was such a sweet, thoughtful gift.  I’ve decided I’m not taking it off until Sabrina is home.  Thank you to my anonymous friend – and feel free to let me know who you are!  I’m continually touched by those who have entered my life during this adoption process.

Speaking of Miss Sabrina, I finally got her March doctor update.  As of 3 weeks ago, she was up to 14lbs 3oz.


My cutie in red.

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The Mouse Who Called 911


This story reminded me of one of my favorite personal stories.  First I have to assure you that this story is completely true – no literary license is being taken.  So gather round kiddies and let me tell you about the Mouse Who Called 911.

I was working in a domestic violence shelter after college.  I had the unenviable weekend shift – 9pm Friday night to 9pm Sunday night.  I was the only staff on duty during this 48 hour period.  I slept on a couch in the staff office in order to answer any middle of the night crisis calls or address any issues a resident might have during the night.

It was late fall and we had an unusual period with no residents in the shelter but because of the crisis line and the possibility of emergency shelter being needed I still had to spend the weekend at the shelter.  It was kind of a spooky old Victorian house.  I never saw anything but I heard things over the years when I was alone in that house that I chose not to investigate – I’ve seen enough horror movies to know that investigating that strange noise never ends well.  This particular fall we were having trouble with field mice seeking shelter in the house.  I worked with some bleeding hearts (Chris – are you reading this?) who didn’t want to kill the mice so they bought the sticky traps.  They wanted to set them free to frolic in the park.

It’s Saturday night.  I’ve got the TV on to drown out the sound of a mouse that is stuck in the sticky trap.  He’s squealing now and then.  I am not about to touch it.  The handyman could take care of him tomorrow.  He quieted down and I fell asleep.  Suddenly, around 3am, I hear my speaker phone come on, dial a number, and a voice say “911…what is your emergency?”  I was used to coming suddenly awake to answer the crisis line but this was new.  I jumped up, grabbed the phone, and apologized profusely to the 911 operator.  I explained that I didn’t know how the number was dialed (a 911 call from the local domestic violence shelter can bring a prompt and well armed response – as well as hours of paperwork and a wake up call to my boss).  I hang up the phone, went back to the couch, and immediately hear my speaker phone dial and “911…what is your emergency?”  Again I apologize to the operator.  I hang up and it happens again.  I was imagining headlines in the local paper “DV advocate arrested for prank calls to 911”.  After the 5th time, I finally had to unplug the phone.  I knew I couldn’t keep it unplugged because someone may need to reach me on the crisis line.  I was exhausted and a little freaked out.  I couldn’t imagine how this kept happening but I was ready to working hard to convince myself it was just a glitch in our phone system.  I decided to swap my phone with another phone to see that would solve the problem.  I followed the phone line to unplug it from the wall and what do I discover?  The phone line was nearly chewed through by mister mouse.  It ran right past where he was stuck to the trap.  He somehow managed to cross the wires in just the right way to trigger the speed dial on the phone.  The mouse was calling 911.  (He later chewed off his own leg and escaped from the trap – but that is another, much less funny story.)

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Photos from my shower


I’m still so touched by the shower my co-workers threw for me last week. I need to write some very special, heart-felt thank you cards this week. Someone gave me some of the photos that were taken so I thought I would share them.


The beautiful (and yummy) cake.


Me walking in and finding my surprise shower in the conference room.


Checking out some cute outfits from my co-worker Jill.

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I’m a rebel


My last Monday at work. It is supposed to be in the mid to upper 70’s here today.  That’s quite unusual for western PA in March.  So, I’m thumbing my nose at all of the fashion rules.  No white until Memorial Day?  No seersucker until after Easter?  Phooey!  I put on a white crinkle skirt and blue and white seersucker blazer.  I felt very conspicuous on the street this morning.  Everyone was still dressed in their greys and blacks and browns.  There I was in WHITE.  I don’t normally like to stand out but I just felt being springy today. 

Other than being a fashion rebel, I have nothing to report.  My recent excitement is another list:  I’ve been making a list of places I have to eat before leaving town.  You know food is always a priority in my life.  We got one out of the way yesterday but it was so yummy I want to put it back on the list for one more meal.  How can I not go back and get one more shrimp, portabella, and spinach enchilada?  And the 2 margaritas?  Heavenly!  But I also need one more brunch at Lydia’s, and one more pastrami sandwich at Primanti’s.  I might have to put Mad Mex back into the rotation.  A good pizza is a must.  Ice cream from Bruester’s without fail. 

My worry right now is that I’ve allowed myself to start hoping we might make it through without a previo.  Oops, see now I said it out loud and jinxed us.  I don’t know where I get the hubris to even hope for such a thing.  We’ve been plagued with problems since we started this process – I don’t know why I think this part would turn out differently.  I’ve always just assumed we would get at least 1 previo – because that is indicative of the way things have gone thus far.  I don’t feel like we deserve a smooth PGN ride just because everything else has been f*cked up nor do I feel like it is more likely.  It’s just that this hope has crept in.  Hope like that can be a dangerous thing in this process.  Hope can set you up to be crushed when you receive that bad news call.  Dashed hopes can plunge you into dark depths of despair.  But sometimes you just have to go with it so you can keep moving forward.  And perhaps I’m allowing myself this hope because I know that no matter what Barrios does, I am going to be with my baby girl in less than 3 weeks.

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Shopping shouldn’t made you feel old


I went to Old Navy last night to pick up a couple of pairs of shorts I could bum around in at the Antigua house. Sounded like an easy errand. I wanted something inexpensive and comfy – Old Navy seemed like just the ticket. Wow. When did I get so old? I spent the entire time walking around the store thinking they needed a geriatric section just for me. About 80% of the shorts had a 2 inch inseam – meaning butt checks hang out of the bottom and we won’t even discuss what my thighs might look like in them. The other 20% came to my knees. I just want normal length shorts – thigh and butt coverage but short enough to be cool on hot days. And the 2 pairs that I found that they called mid-length (meaning normal), were super low rise waist. I hate that because I have no hips or butt (but I have an over abundance of everything else) so I always feel like my pants are falling down. The super low rise often gives even well proportioned girls/women a muffin top – I really will be glad when this trend is over. And one of the 2 pairs was linen. I don’t want linen! Linen looks fabulous on the hanger but looks like you were on a 3 day bender after you wear it for 20 minutes.

Then we went to Baby Depot to do some crib shopping.  My wonderful mother-in-law gave us a generous gift card for there at Christmas.  Steve quickly pointed out his 2 favorite and I liked them both.  Only 1 of those 2 converted to a toddler bed so we went with that one.   It’s looking like baby central in our hallway – crib box, stroller in a box, activity table we bought at the consignment store a few weeks ago.  Maybe we’ll have a baby at home to use it all soon!


Just a crib – nothing spectacular.  It looks nice and the price was right (meaning the gift card covered it).

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Three weeks


Three weeks from yesterday we should be picking up Miss Sabrina forever. I believe the plan is to arrive on the Thursday after Easter, pick up supplies in Guatemala City, get settled in the house in Antigua, then return to GC on Friday to pick up Sabrina for our fostering adventure. Steve will only stay until Sunday to conserve vacation days for additional visits as needed depending on our length of stay in PGN. Unfortunately, since it took me so long to firm up our plans, plane ticket prices aren’t particularly pretty when purchasing 3 weeks in advance (or maybe it is just the time of year).

This (our future back porch) is where I imagine Sabrina and I will be spending a lot of time in the weeks/months to come:


And we got some more new photos yesterday:



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Pictures and a roof over our heads


I am so touched by the shower they threw me today. I can’t even begin to say how much. My boss is a great lady for organizing it! A few photos of the loot – I don’t have photos of the actual shower but someone was taking pictures and I’ll try to get copies. I am sure the look on my face when I walked into the conference room was lovely. Heh.



I can just see her in the purple dress next Easter. Too cute and girlie! Some black patent mary janes and she’ll be all set!


This is a photo of the stroller they gave me. Three moms test drove it and declared it perfect! That’s a good enough endorsement for me!

I also got a BRU gift card and some cash – all of which will go toward a car seat I think.

And finally, I finally got in touch with the landlord about the house I want to rent. I’m sending the deposit tomorrow! So Sabrina and I don’t have to sleep on a park bench in Antigua. It turned out to be a good day after all despite my car having to be towed. I park at the wharf on the river and it flooded unexpectedly today. My boss returned from a meeting to tell me all of the cars were being towed out of the water. Thankfully, my car was far enough away it was towed to safety before getting water logged.

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My co-workers threw me a surprise shower this afternoon.  It was so sweet.  My other shower(s) were cancelled/postponed because I suddenly decided to move to Antigua (makes it hard to put together when I’m out of the country indefinitely hehe).  I’ve been vocal about my scorn of showers but I’ll admit I was a little sad I wouldn’t have one like all of the other mommies.  Then surprise, my boss threw a shower for me! 

Lots of good food, cake (yumm-o), and wonderful gifts.  And NO stupid shower games!  I am so touched and so thankful that I have such wonderful co-workers.  My boss and 2 other co-workers went in together and bought us a stroller!  I was shocked!  I’ll post some photos when I get home.  I feel like a legitimate mommy!  I had a baby shower!  

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