Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

Happy Halloween


Miss Sabrina is sporting her Penn State cheerleader outfit for Halloween.  (No worries…the pom poms are props for pictures only.  Not a safe for 1 yr old toy.)  I haven’t figured out when trick or treat is here.  In Ohio and PA, the nights were set by the communities.  Here I am getting the feeling that it is always on Halloween night and that is why I can’t find it posted anywhere.  Our local mall is having a little trick or treat thing so we thought we would take her there for a little bit tonight.  I’m not above using my kid for free chocolate.



Think we better save the cartwheel for next year.


posted under family | 12 Comments »

Halloween Movie Meme


Happy Halloween!  I took this meme from Zoot (see sidebar).

I have a love/hate relationship with scary movies. I love to be scared but I hate the gore. So I sit and watch the movies with my hand ready to cover my eyes at any moment. That is why my favorites on this list are probably Silence of the Lambs and The Shining – high freaked out factor, low on the gore scale. I think Saw tops the list on the gore scale. And The Ring is probably the one that disturbed me the most. I don’t remember being incredibly scared – just disturbed for hours after watching it. The horse going off the ferry was one of the worst scenes for me.

Bold those you’ve seen.
Italicize movies you have started but couldn’t finish.
Add an asterisk* to those you have watched more than once.
Underline those on your To Watch list.

  • The Shining*
  • The Exorcist
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  • The Silence of the Lambs*
  • Jaws*
  • Halloween
  • Psycho
  • Seven
  • Rosemary’s Baby
  • Poltergeist*
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street*
  • Friday the 13th
  • The Thing
  • The Evil Dead
  • Carrie
  • Night of the Living Dead
  • The Omen
  • An American Werewolf in London
  • Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
  • The Hitcher
  • Lost Highway
  • The Blair Witch Project
  • Pet Cemetery*
  • Saw
  • The Ring
posted under Misc. | 5 Comments »

Memo to TDOS


Memo to TDOS (aka DMV):

First, I would like to thank you for your convenient hours.  I’ve never lived in a state that didn’t at least try to provide some evening or Saturday hours – but your being open only during the hours my husband is at work provided my 1 yr old the opportunity to visit your fine establishment.  You don’t even pretend to make it convenient by being open for 3 hours on Saturday morning.

Also, I love the fact that I can’t get my plates and drivers license in the same place.  This forces me to explore 2 completely different locations on 2 different days.  Way to encourage us to explore our new city!  The incorrect address on the website also allowed us to explore a couple of new neighborhoods this morning.  Thanks.

I was quite impressed with the “take a number” system you have in place.  In most agencies, you take a number from an impersonal wheel and have a seat.  But not at the TDOS!  Oh no!  You want us to have the personal touch so we have to stand in line for 5-10 minutes, holding a wriggling 20 pound child, waiting for a person to take time away from waiting on customers to provide us with a number personally.  Good thinking!  And the scrolling sign informing us that there were 32 people waiting ahead of us kept me from going to the trouble of counting all of the people in the waiting room – it looked like 50 people so knowing there were a mere 32 people ahead of us kept our spirits from sagging.

While I truly enjoyed the 2 hours I spent trying to keep my child entertained on my lap, I’m sure you’ll understand if I do everything in my power to avoid visiting your fine office again until my 40th birthday when my new license expires.  Thanks for your efficiency and great customer service!

Sarcastically yours,

Michelle – newly licensed driver in TN so no more airport strip searches will be required

posted under nashville | 9 Comments »

Over the line?


When is it okay to discipline someone else’s child?  Or is it never okay?  My gut reaction is that it is never okay but then I read this article in Newsweek.  Does it change your answer when the example is a racist comment directed at an internationally adopted child.  The mother who overheard the comment (made about her child) by the boy didn’t say anything because it wasn’t her place to correct someone else’s child.   Would you have said something?  Would you have been able to be constructive if you did say something given the emotional reaction most of us would have?

Let’s take it out of that extreme example.  Can your sister put your child in time-out?  Should your best friend correct your child if he/she is being rude?  Can an acquaintance tell a child to stop jumping on her furniture if the mother doesn’t speak up to the child?

Another scenario:  you and a friend are having coffee and chatting.  Your child keeps interrupting but you choose to ignore the behavior.  Is your friend out of line if she addresses your child and asks him/her to please wait until you are done speaking?

It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child but do we believe that in today’s world?  Don’t we get our hackles up at someone else mildly admonishing our child because we see it as a criticism of our parenting?  But if your child made a racist comment like the child in the article (and you weren’t around), wouldn’t you want someone to let your child know how hurtful that was?  Wouldn’t you want your child to feel a little shame by being called out for that?

Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments…I anticipate everyone has an opinion on this topic.

posted under parenting | 22 Comments »



Most of us obsess over attachment.  We watch for signs.  We read books.  We piss off extended family by asking them not to hold the baby the first few weeks.  We keep a watchful eye for signs of healthy attachment and bonding and celebrate every shred of proof that it is happening.  We try to explain our joy over little Johnny gazing into our eyes while we feed him a bottle.

We have been lucky in so many ways with Sabrina.  She seems to have attached and bonded with us relatively easily.  We struggled a bit the first few weeks in Guatemala but she is such an easy going child that our struggles didn’t compare to those of many who I met.  Even though I am confident in where we are now, I still like to keep an eye on things.  Attachment isn’t just done in 6 weeks or 6 months.  It is an on going issue that we need to be aware of as adoptive parents.

Find the original list of signs of healthy attachment here.  I left off the last couple simply because they aren’t age appropriate for Sabrina yet.  I find that just taking a quick inventory like this every couple of months reassures me that all is well.

# Joyful the majority of the time.  Check.  Sabrina is a definitely joyful.

# Seeks out primary caregiver for comfort and to meet needs.  Check.
# Likes to be cradled and held facing primary caregiver.  Check.
# Makes good eye contact with primary caregiver and initiates eye contact–both close & distant proximity.  Check.
# When primary caregiver makes eye contact, the child smiles back, showing signs of being happy with the interaction.  Check.
# Smiles and exhibits pleasure when seeing self in the mirror.  Check.
# Frequently engages in playful interactions with primary caregiver (interactions initiated by both parent and child.)  Check.

# Uses different cries to alert primary caregiver of needs and wants; easily consoled by primary caregiver.  Usually.  Check.

# Accepts limits placed by primary caregiver.  Usually.  Check.
# Willingly allows primary caregiver to hold bottle, hand feed, and nurture.  Check.

# Melts into primary caregiver when held; lays head on shoulder; holds on when held; faces primary caregiver rather than away.  She doesn’t hold on when I carry her.  But the rest of this – check.

# Enjoys cuddling, hugs, and kisses given by primary caregiver and initiates cuddling, hugs, and kisses without wanting something in return.  Check.

# Can co-sleep without major difficulty.  I can’t co-sleep without major difficulty but she is usually fine with it once she gets over the excitement of sleeping with mommy.  Check.

# Prefers primary caregiver to all others.  This one I can only confidently answer yes in the past 6-8 weeks.  Prior to that I swear she would have left the grocery store with anyone who said she was cute.  Now she gets a little shy with anyone who approaches closely to talk to her.  She curls into me and puts her head on my shoulder – makes me melt!  Check.

# Imitates primary caregiver regularly (actions, language, etc.)  She and Steve have this sighing game in the car – he sighs, she imitates then they both giggles – cracks me up!  Check.

# Content to sit on primary caregiver’s lap or stay in primary caregiver’s arms for an age appropriate amount of time.  Check.
# Settles quickly when held by primary caregiver.  Check.
# Enjoys skin on skin contact.  Check.
# Prefers close proximity to primary caregiver but not in an anxious, desperate way.  Check.
# Consistently sleeps well and peacefully. Usually.  Check.

# Wants to please primary caregiver because he knows it will make his parent happy.  Check.
# Reacts appropriately to pain; wants primary caregiver to nurture him when in pain or sick; easily consoled.  She is a tough little girl but I’ll give this one a check too.
# Uses food appropriately. Recognizes when hungry and full.  She definitely recognizes when she is hungry.  The full part we are still working on.

# Shows true personality to primary caregiver and family and friends (discovering a child’s innate personality takes time.)  Check.
# Initiates “sweet nothing” talk with primary caregiver.  Check.
# Shows appropriate stranger anxiety.  Check.
# Displays age appropriate anxiety at brief separation from primary caregiver but is able to be reassured.  Usually.  Check.
# Reunites happily with primary caregiver with eye contact and physical contact.  Nothing better than the big smile I get when I return or the smile Steve gets when he comes home from work.  Check.

# Show signs of feeling safe in social situations; able to play and interact with others, but stays close and checks in with primary caregiver regularly but not in an anxious or desperate way.  Check.
# Is gentle to self and others.  Usually.  Sometimes hits mommy.

# Gets along with other children & siblings most of the time.  Check.
# Is okay with primary caregiver leaving the room for short periods of time. Conversely, cares that primary caregiver has left the room and shows happiness when that person returns.  Took awhile to get there but can now say check.

# Speech/language skills are developing appropriately.  Check.
# Angry outbursts/tantrums are infrequent, short in duration. Parent can soothe child.  Usually.  Check.


Joyful seems like a good word.

posted under adoption | 11 Comments »



Thanks for all of the bloggy land love!  It really did make me feel better.

Okay, done feeling like the shy, awkward, self-conscious 13 yr old I once was. I just needed to process the situation, feel a little sorry for my self, eat a little chocolate and then move on. I don’t have the patience for drama when it isn’t on the big screen. My feelings are still bruised but I’m done dwelling. I don’t want to get into the situation here because sometime real life things need to stay there.  Thanks for the love all of you. I feel like Sally Fields “You like me! You really like me!” I needed the virtual hugs.

Now a little Sabrina cuteness.

Steve snapped the sleeping princess.


Attached to mommy’s leg per usual:


She still likes her exersaucer but prefers to play with it from the outside now.  She gets a little cranky when confined.


My girl is a morning person – she is always smiling during breakfast.


Be back soon


Sorry for the lack of posting – lots going on.  Grandma is here hanging out with Miss Sabrina.  We went to Opry Mills today and Grandma treated Sabrina to some new fall/winter clothes so I think she is set now for the coming season.

I’ve also been digesting a situation that recently came up with some friends.  I’m very hurt by some things that have happened.  I’m 35 years old and ended up crying myself to sleep last night over this situation – that made me feel 13 again.  Do we ever reach an age where we can shrug off finding out that people don’t like us?  Intellectually I can accept that not everyone can like me.  Professionally I accepted years ago that being effective was more important than being liked.  But, in my personal life, I find it hurtful when people I like have been discussing how I am apparently the root of all evil in the world behind my back (that phrase makes me feel 13 too).

So I will return to licking my emotional wounds and watching Sabrina enjoy her Grandma.  Blogging will happen when I stop feeling like my self confidence has been knocked back to my 13th year.  I’ll post some Grandma photos soon.

Seasonally appropriate recipe


I love this bread (actually closer to a cake consistency but bread doesn’t sound as sinful).  A co-worker brought this to a holiday party at work many years ago and I wanted to eat the whole loaf.  I got the recipe and then lost it a few years ago.  I’ve searched for something similar and couldn’t find anything.  I am not a baker but I had to recreate this bread.  I played around with the ingredients and think I am just about back to the original (Tonya – do you have a copy from KD?).

Pumpkin Bread

1 box pound cake mix 16 oz

1/2 C water

3 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 C solid packed pumpkin (about 2/3 of the small can)

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Beat on low for 1 min.  Pour into greased and floured loaf pan.  Bake 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes.

I like to dust it with powdered sugar when I serve it.  I could seriously eat the whole loaf in a day.



Happy fall!  It actually feels like fall here this week.  It is raining and cold.  The weather has finally prompted the trees to start changing colors.  I’m not loving the rain (though we needed it) but I am loving the fall temperatures.  I was feeling a bit out of sorts wearing shorts in late October.

posted under food | 10 Comments »

The winner is…


Sig has announced the winner of her first raffle.  Over $2000 was raised!  Thanks to everyone who donated or sent good wishes her way!  Click here to check out her new public blog and see if you were the winner.

posted under adoption, blog | 2 Comments »

Recipe Monday


My new favorite salad recipe. My mom made it for me when she visited us in Guatemala and it was yummy. She made it again while I was visiting and I immediately made it when I returned home. Simple but yummy.

Chickpea Salad with Herbs

2 (15-0z) cans chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1/ 4 tsp salt
1/ 4 tsp pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh oregano, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1/ 2 cup red onion, thinly sliced OR 1 bunch green onions sliced

1 Roma tomato sliced

Combine all ingredients. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

I prefer it with green onions rather than red. I leave out the tomato because I don’t like tomatoes.


posted under food | 4 Comments »
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