Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

Let me check my calendar


We have been out and about quite a bit this week.  Well quite a bit for us.  Wednesday we went to our first mommy’s play group.  I’ve been dragging my feet about going to one because I have this preconceived notion about what they are like.  It was better than I anticipated but still not sure it is for me yet.  We all met at the play area of the mall.  Sabrina isn’t able to go run around with the other kids yet so I spent the 2 hours trying to keep her entertained while the other moms tried to prevent carnage among their children.  I was able to chat a little bit with some of the other moms but everyone was obviously a bit distracted.  Also, this group has been getting together for awhile so I kind of felt like I was trying to break into a clique.  The women were all very nice and the children were all pretty well behaved.  I just wish we could move conversations beyond kids, breastfeeding, giving birth, poop, and naps.  At least there weren’t any milestone competitions (“Johnny started calculating Pi to the 34rd decimal place at 11 months.”)  I am perfectly happy to talk about Sabrina but throw me something non-child related.  Ask me if I like diet coke or diet pepsi better…something.

Wednesday evening we had dinner with another couple.  (The male half of the couple recruited Steve for his job.)  It was fabulous!  They thought Sabrina was charming but the evening wasn’t all about her.  It is so rare to find a couple that you truly like both halves – and we did.  So we might have a couple friend – woohoo!

Last night, I had a mom’s night out with another mommy group (sans children).  Again, a fabulous evening.  We had drinks and some munchies and just chatted about everything and nothing.  I ended up chatting in the parking lot with another mom for an hour before we left.  It was lovely – I left the house with no diaper bag, wearing cute impractical shoes and dangly earrings which Sabrina would have ripped out of my lobes in 3.5 seconds.

AND, AND, AND this weekend we are heading to PA to pick up the last odds and ends from the house.  My in-laws have offered to hang out with Sabrina and let us go to a movie on Saturday night!  Oh it feels so sinful.   THEN, Sunday morning we are going to my favorite non-child-friendly brunch spot while my in-laws again hang out with Sabrina.  Sigh…it almost brings tears to my eyes.

A few pictures of cuteness to hold everyone over while we are out of touch for the weekend.

She apparently thinks her wagon wheel is pretty freaking hilarious:


And this is my view anytime she isn’t on my lap or I’m not on the floor with her – she is hanging off my leg.


And her cute little bunny feet in her sleeper.  She’s almost outgrown it now but I love this one.


Hope everyone has a fabulous long weekend!

posted under family | 3 Comments »

The Eagle Flies At Midnight


I think a coupe d’etat is being planned.  The dog and the baby are going to gang up on me.  I’m not sure what the plan is yet…but I’ve caught them planning.

“Careful…pretend we aren’t talking.  That mommy is nosy.  She keeps looking over here.”


“Uh oh.  She caught us.  Smile.  Cuteness will distract her.”


“I’ll leave first.  You follow in 5 minutes.  Meet me in the hallway.”


“Damn her!  She caught us again!  Abort! Abort!”


Actually this last photo is an example of how the dog and Sabrina torment each other all day long.  She takes his toys and teases him with her toys.  He lays exactly where she wants to crawl, making her whine and grunt while she tries to crawl over or around him.

posted under family | 9 Comments »

Sloppy Cubanos


I tried a new recipe last night from Rachel Ray’s magazine (love her, hate her – she has easy recipes that are pretty yummy). The Sloppy Cubanos are somewhat like sloppy joes but with ground pork and way yummier – lots of interesting flavors. You can find the recipe here. I couldn’t find chorizo at the 3 places I looked so I used a cajun sausage instead. I made the sandwiches with the dill pickles and swiss cheese as the recipe directed. I ended up pulling off my pickles – I felt like they overwhelmed the lovely spices of the meat. But Steve liked it with the pickles – so give it a try and see how you like it. .

Thought I would throw this one out there for those who have said they like the recipes. And for those who asked how I have time to cook, please know that a lot of nights dinner isn’t worthy of a photo and a recipe on my blog. But since I quit working, I feel like it is my job to clean the house and cook dinner (totally my own neurotic thing, not Steve’s opinion at all). I am not that great at the house cleaning part so I try to overachieve on the cooking aspect. But the only reason I have time to cook is because Steve is a wonderful and active dad. He comes home after work and basically takes over with Sabrina. He feeds her dinner, gives her a bath, and puts her to bed 95% of the time. While he is doing that, I cook us dinner. The result is that we eat quite late (usually around 8pm). When she is a bit older and we are eating as a family? I have no idea how I will pull that off.

I know how you all find my memos somewhat amusing – go check out Aardvark’s letters.  She does it better than I do!

posted under food | 15 Comments »

To put your minds at ease


For all of you who were concerned about Sabrina wearing the same bib for 2 different meals…some proof that she does have more than 1:


She does the more sign constantly now.  She doesn’t really know what it means.  She knows when we say the word “more” to make the sign and she associates it with food.  She’ll use it to tell us she is hungry or that she wants more or that she wants her bottle.  We are working on teaching her the difference between more and eat and some other things.


She has another tooth coming in on top – it is ready to break through today or tomorrow so she is being a bit of a crank butt today.  She was giving me the stink eye all morning.


We did have a break through this afternoon. We were at the grocery store and I bought a fountain drink.  She kept whining to for the straw (she likes to play with them) so I put it to her mouth for her to chew on (she has never understood to suck and drink out of the straw).  All of a sudden she started drinking my diet pepsi!  I hated to stop her because I was so excited she suddenly understood the straw but didn’t want her drinking all of those chemicals.  When we got home, I put her milk in a straw sippy cup and eureka!  Success!


posted under family | 16 Comments »

Linguine with Clam Sauce


Here is an easy, tried and true recipe from my personal stash.  Two things:  1) if you want to try the recipe, go buy fresh parsley – the dried stuff will only add some color but no flavor and 2) don’t even bother making this if you aren’t going to bother with good cheese on top – seriously it will be a little blah without the cheese.  If you don’t have one of these already:


go and buy one.  Then buy yourself a little block of Asiago cheese.  You’ll never use that Kraft stuff again.

Linguine with Clam Sauce

1 T Olive Oil

1 bunch green onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 C finely chopped fresh parsley

1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes

1 dash ground cayenne pepper

1/2 C dry white wine

1 C water (I use a cup of the water the pasta boils in because it helps thicken this a little – it is a very, very thin “sauce”)

2 10oz cans of whole baby clams or chopped clams

12 oz cooked linguine

Saute onion and garlic in the olive oil for a couple of minutes to mellow the flavor a bit.  Add the rest of the ingredients to heat through – simmer a couple of minutes.  Toss this with the cooked linguine.


Serve with grated Asiago or other hard italian cheese.


posted under food | 10 Comments »

Branching Out


First off, thank you all of the explanations for the peculiar Southern behaviors I asked about. I’ll take them under advisement the next time someone driving is in the left lane 10 miles below the speed limit with Bush bumper sticks and I am considering perpetrating an act of Northern Aggression. I’ll also consider buying myself a tube of lipstick since apparently that is required down here.

Now on to a topic which encourages everyone’s participation. When I started this blog, it was after reading several adoption blogs out there. I liked what I was reading and I wanted to play too. (Some day my archives will return so you can all glory in the wisdom I spewed before and during the adoption process.) I’ve written a couple of times recently that I’ve been struggling with the “What now?” question. I’m not really an adoption blogger anymore. Sabrina is home. We fortunately aren’t struggling with attachment issues for now. So I guess that makes me a mommy blogger who happened to become a mommy through adoption.

I still read a lot of adoption blogs. I read the ones in my blogroll and I have a private stash on Bloglines. 90% are adoption blogs. I’ve stumbled across some non-adoption blogs that I enjoy but haven’t actively looked for them. Until now. I started reading some mommy blogs after the BlogHer conference when everyone was linking everyone else. Some I really like but I haven’t added any of them into my blogroll or Bloglines feed yet. I am hesitant to make the leap. I love our adoption blog community. I “know” many of you. It is a safe and mostly warm and fuzzy place to blog. Commenting and linking to the bigger mommy blogging world invites strangers (who might not be so nice) onto my turf. What if someone puts gum in my hair?

Anywhoo, back to the participation part. I want to hear about blogs you love – blogs that I don’t have in my blog roll. Give us the link in the comments and we will all go check them out. They don’t have to be mommy blogs or adoption blogs – just the blogs that you really like to start your day with. I want to branch out a bit and discover some of the other great stuff out there in blogworld that I might be missing.

posted under blog | 20 Comments »

This Yank needs some explanations


There are a couple of things that I would love to hear about from my Southern readers.

First, what is up with the way you all dress?  It has been 105 degrees for the past 4 weeks.  I was at the grocery store this evening after the sun went down and it was still 98 degrees out yet I was the only one wearing shorts in the entire store.   I even had on a tank top and I never, ever wear tank tops in public.  (I haven’t worn a tank top outside of the house since ’96 when I waved at someone and my upper arm waddle took out 2 small children and a petite waitress.)  Everyone in the store was dressed in pants.  Many people even had on long sleeve shirts.  I was breaking a sweat just looking at them.  In the north, as soon as it hits the upper 60’s we break out our shorts and flip flops – we might have to wear a sweatshirt with them but by damn we will wear our shorts as long as possible each year.

Second, what do Southerners (or at least those in Nashville) have against turn signals?  Is it not manly to let others know you plan to turn or change lanes?  Does the little blinking light mess with the aesthetic of your pretty car?  I have almost rear-ended countless people in the 2 months I’ve lived here.   And I know everyone out there is nodding their head thinking “Oh that isn’t a Nashville thing – it is the same here” but I am serious in saying that I’ve never seen such a vast majority of people not signal.   And the few people who do signal then drive for the next 6 miles with their blinkers on.

Third, stop cruising in the left lane.  If multiple cars are passing you on the right, that might be an indication that you are going too slow to be in the left lane.  Get the hell out of my way!

Southern manners are even present when driving.  In Pittsburgh, if it takes you more than .5 seconds to take your foot off the brake and put it on the gas when the light turns green, at least 3 people will honk at you.  Here?  People take forever to get going when the light turns green – and no one honks (except maybe me).  It isn’t a difficult concept.  Green means go.  Go is the long, skinny pedal on your right.

That is all for now…I will probably have more questions in the future.  The cranky nature of my questions may have something to do with the heat.  I looked at the 10 day forecast and it says it is only supposed to be 88 next weekend.  Did you hear me?  I said “only” 88.  I don’t think I’ve used the word ‘only’ in front of 88 degrees ever in my life.  But when that is almost 20 degrees cooler than the past month you start to think it sounds lovely.

posted under nashville | 8 Comments »

A good laugh


My friend, Priscilla, forwarded this to me today. If you need a good laugh, check out this e-bay auction. The auction has ended so no fear that you may buy something just because you click on the link. I want to take this woman out for a drink! What a hoot!

In other news today, Sabrina and I had lunch with the lovely Melanie and Pilar at the mall food court today. No photos – never got my camera out. But it was great fun meeting them! Unfortunately the play area was closed because apparently a child got sick so violently that they had to close the play area for complete sanitizing for the rest of the day.

And for daddy, who is away on business and hasn’t seen Sabrina sign “more” yet.

Yesterday at lunch:


And to prove it wasn’t a fluke – today at breakfast:


posted under humor | 19 Comments »

If you’ve been following…


the recent happenings in Guatemala surrounding adoptions (seizing control of a private hogar, arresting attorneys who work on adoptions, declaring that anyone involved in adoption is part of organized crime, etc.) check out this open letter to President Berger from the ADA. It was printed in the Guatemalan newspaper yesterday.

posted under adoption | 58 Comments »

Light bulb moments


It seems as though the light bulb has suddenly switched on for Sabrina in a lot of ways in the past 4 or 5 days. I’m amazed that after months of working on some things, she suddenly got them all at once.

We’ve been working on a couple of signs since I picked her up. I thought if I started with 1 or 2 she would “get” them and then we could expand her vocabulary. We’ve been using the signs for “more” and “all done” for months. She has ignored us completely. I thought she used more a couple of weeks ago but it was never repeated. Today, she suddenly started signing more during lunch. I was floored. She continued to do it through lunch and again during dinner.

She is able to stand on her own now. She only does it when she isn’t paying attention – if she thinks about it, she falls. Today she stood next to a chair for a full minute.

She is so busy. She’s been active for awhile but she is really busy this week. She is playing intently with her toys. She is also starting to involve us more in her play.

She actually drank quite a bit out of a sippy cup today! Woohoo! After months of playing with them, she is finally starting to drink more than a sip.

She is understanding more of what we say everyday. If we ask her where is the puppy she will point to the dog. She now says baby and puppy. Baby doesn’t seem to hold meaning for her but she is starting to direct puppy at the dog instead of just random objects. She also says mama and dada pretty randomly but I can see the concept starting to gel for her.

She is giving hugs. She has been giving kisses for awhile (big, wet, open mouth ones) but wasn’t seeking or returning hugs. This weekend she gave me several hugs and has continued with this. Melts my heart when she does it – nothing sweeter.

I am amazed at what an amazing transition she has made to us as her parents. I still worry about attachment and keep my eye out for regressive behavior but she really has done tremendously well. I even worry sometimes that she has done too well (you hear stories about people being home for 6 months and suddenly all of these attachment issues popping up) but I am starting to relax about it some. She is so happy and well adjusted. If issues come up later, we will deal with them. Okay, enough commentary…some photos from the last couple of days.

She found a flyer to replace her pamphlet:





She has also suddenly started sucking her thumb at times. Not sure where that came from!



posted under family | 12 Comments »
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