Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

48 weeks and 5 days to go


p1000646Three is going to be a very long year.  Sabrina is spectacularly 3.  She is full of attitude and sass.  She knows it all and isn’t shy to correct you when you get it wrong (or at least wrong by her 3 year old estimation).  Every slight correction to her behavior results in much whining and flailing and crying and drama.  Oh the drama.  She is bossy and refuses to leave Tessa alone.  Poor Tessa – if we are looking Sabrina will hip bump her so that she falls down or gets of out the way.  If we aren’t looking, she simply takes her by the hand and pulls her shirt so that she falls over.  Sabrina answers every question with “NO!”.  She could be in the desert dying of thirst and if I asked her if she wanted water she would yell “NO!”  She talks ALL DAMN DAY.  Seriously, if she isn’t making words, she is making repetitive noises to annoy mommy.  I don’t know how anyone can talk that much.  Steve, who thinks that Sabrina hung the moon, was ready to throttle her by Sunday afternoon this weekend because she had been so exceptionally 3 all weekend.  And then just when we are ready to lock her in a closet until 3 is over, she does something incredibly cute and sweet.  Welcome to 3.

Here she is in her Ariel night gown, holding her Nemo fish, watching Dora.  (We don’t even have many character items but they all ended up in this photo.)  I think it was the only time she was quiet this day.


And poor Tessa wants to know why her sister gets to have fun at the playground while she is stuck in the stroller.   (Hint: Sabrina doesn’t eat the mulch.)


If you notice every is wearing long sleeves and pants – it feels like fall in Nashville today.  A high of only 68 – loving it!


posted under family | 17 Comments »

Honey Wheat Bread


p1000608This stuff was amazing.  It was moist and soft and yummy.  I used this recipe for honey wheat bread and made some of the changes suggested by reviewers: I increased the honey to 1/3 cup and used 2 1/2 bread flour and 2 1/2 whole wheat flour.

p1000594Making bread isn’t nearly as hard as I anticipated it would be.  It is time intensive but as long as you aren’t going anywhere (it has been raining here for 3 weeks – we aren’t going anywhere), it isn’t difficult.  I’m no expert by any means but 2 successful batches has made me confident to try more.  I have only tip at this point for folks who want to try.  You are supposed to let it raise in a warm place.  I microwave some water which makes the microwave warm and let my bread rise in the closed microwave.


Steve loves it.  The kids love it.  My ass? Not so much.  But yum!



posted under food | 5 Comments »

Martha in the house


I’m busy trying my hand at Honey Wheat Bread today so entertain yourselves with some photos of the wee ones.  I am also making home made chicken noodle soup.  I actually contemplated (for about 2 minutes) making my own noodles.  I nixed the idea because I was afraid Steve might stage an intervention.  When I mentioned it to him, he confirmed that he would have indeed staged one.

Many kids turn signs into some approximation of the correct sign.  Tessa is dainty like her mother so she turned “Eat” (fingers to lips) into stuffing her whole fist in her mouth.  She should be a big hit at frat parties in 18 years.


No great strides or set backs to report in the feeding arena.  But her 6  jars of baby food a day (plus a yo baby yogurt and cereal) habit is getting pricey so we are just about ready to go cold turkey and see if we can resolve the issue through sheer force of will.


Tessa also feels her playful side isn’t adequately showcased on the blog. (Momma’s defense is that no one wants to see photos of the back of her head captured when Tessa is roaming free.)


She still refuses to talk without holding on to something but has taken a few steps when she isn’t paying attention and really doesn’t hold on tightly anymore.


Sabrina still loves her ballerina outfit for dance class.  She still loves the idea of going to dance class.  I’m just not sure that she likes the actual dance class.  I’m torn between thinking her inability to follow directions and difficulty doing a few of the steps and lack of desire to practice things like tiptoe walking or galloping is part of being barely 3 or is a sign she just isn’t that into it.  I think we’ll give it a few months and see what she thinks.  If she doesn’t seem to warm up to it, we’ll try a tumbling class at the local gymnastics place instead.


posted under family | 8 Comments »

What No One Told Me About Adoption


There is a blog carnival going on at Grown in My Heart for bloggers to discuss what no one told them about adoption and then link up.  I’m fascinated reading these posts!  I thought I would add my own list.

  1. I didn’t truly understand that my greatest joy was rooted in another woman’s greatest pain.  In order for Sabrina to become ours, another woman had to give her up.  Sabrina had to lose her birth family and cultural identity.  So much loss for our incredible gain.
  2. That I would quickly stop fearing and jealously regarding Sabrina’s birth mom and foster mom and instead begin loving, respecting, and aching for them.  I so wish I could share this beautiful, joyous little girl with her first mom and her foster mom who loved her for the first 7 months of her life.  I think of them so often and wish they could be part of our family in more than just spirit.
  3. That attachment was a process for all of us.  Someone probably did tell me this but I didn’t hear it.  I thought we were already in love with that photo and that little girl we spent a week with a couple of times.  But when I picked her up and lived in Antigua with her, it was a few weeks before I stopped feeling like her babysitter and started feeling like her mom.
  4. That adoption would bring so many amazing people into my life aside from our daughter.  I’ve had the good fortune to meet so many of you in person.  I told someone once we were all like war buddies – we might not have anything else in common but our time in the adoption trenches forms a strong bond that few others understand.
  5. That 3 years later I would fear my top notch, beyond reproach, ethical adoption agency wasn’t any of those things despite the premium price tag for their services to ensure everything was above board.  What if it wasn’t?
  6. That I would get so tired of educating random people who seem to think it is okay to ask (in front of my cognizant child) “where did you get her?” “how much did you pay for her?” “couldn’t you have your own?”
  7. That I would still be so happy to share our adoption story with random strangers who seemed to be genuinely interested or who just want to swap stories about their cousin Mabel who adopted or was adopted or has a secretary that wants to adopt.
  8. That I would reach a point of almost feeling angry when someone says Sabrina is lucky or we did such a good/charitable/Godly thing by adopting her.  We didn’t save her.  We adopted for selfish reasons not altruistic ones.  We wanted a family.
  9. That some times other adoptive parents would be the most guilty of this and want others to see them as having “saved” a child.
  10. That I would feel myself held to a higher parenting standard in public because my daughter is obviously adopted.  I feel like I can’t have a bad mommy day publicly because people will judge that differently than if I had one with Tessa.
  11. That I would come to love her so fiercely that when I found out I was pregnant, I would worry that I couldn’t possibly love another child as much as I already loved Sabrina.
  12. That I would feel twice (thrice?) the bittersweet joy and touch of sadness with every milestone Sabrina achieves because I feel like I am celebrating it for 3 women: myself, her birth mom, and her foster mom.  I will never forget that I am the lucky one in that trio.
  13. That I should have learned more Spanish more quickly so that I could have had a conversation with Sabrina’s foster mom without the agency person in the middle – I am almost positive she wasn’t translating so much as telling us what she wanted us to hear.
  14. That I could have not one single regret about our specific adoption (because how could I regret anything that brought this amazing girl to me?) but still have many worries and doubts about the circumstances that lead to adoption situations in general.
  15. That when I brought my daughter home to the US, I would be leaving a piece of my heart behind in Guatemala.
  16. That I would continue to worry that no matter what we do, Sabrina will grow up feeling a tremendous loss because she was adopted.
  17. That my husband and I would look at each other almost every single day and ask each other how we got so lucky as to have 2 such amazing, funny, bright, beautiful children.
posted under adoption | 21 Comments »

Donna Reed and Martha Stewart rolled into 1


I have been a domestic goddess for the past few days.  On Thursday, I baked my own pizza crust.  I don’t mean I bought one and baked it.  I mean I proofed yeast, kneaded, punched down, and shaped pizza dough.  It was good but to be honest not really worth the effort.  On Friday, I got really brave.  I did this:


p1000524That, my friends, is home made, fresh from the oven, French bread.  I’ve only made bread once in my life.  It was when I was in high school or early college with my mom.  But look how pretty it turned out!  And it tasted as good as it looked.  It wasn’t hard – you just have to do it on a day you don’t want to leave the house.  The active portions of the process (kneading, shaping, etc) I did while the girls napped.  I used this French bread recipe and followed the advice of the reviewers and only used 5 cups of flour and proofed the yeast with a teaspoon or 2 of sugar for 15 minutes.

p10005311Also on Friday, I made some mighty yummy pulled pork.

Can you tell I am loving my new camera?  Sabrina has started asking me if I want to take pictures of her crackers at snack time.

This is a 3 3/4 Boston Pork Butt Roast.  I rubbed it down with the slightly modified Alton Brown’s Rub #9 which was left over from when I made ribs a few weeks ago.  Then I put it in the crockpot on low with 1 cup of water and let it cook for about 8 hours.  I took it out, discarded the liquid, shredded it with 2 forks (discarding all of the fatty pieces), and put it back in the crock pot with some carolina style BBQ sauce (vinegary and mustardy rather than ketchupy) but you can use whatever BBQ you like best.  I let it warm through for about 20 minutes and voila – pulled pork BBQ.  It is good alone or on a bun topped with coleslaw.

Today I made chili for the football game.  And no, I’m not going to try and give you the recipe.  Something you just can’t quantify.


posted under food | 13 Comments »



It has been a soggy week here.  Thankfully, 3 year olds are entertained my little things.  The “crown” headbands have allowed her to be a princess every day.  We picked up some new “friends” at Target earlier this week:


She talks to them so I guess that means I get a break from the chatter.

And at the consignment sale, we picked up a play vacuum since I seem to be vacuuming all of the time (damn dog).  It is her new favorite toy. She even parks it next to my Dyson.


These kids seriously crack me up.

posted under Misc. | 4 Comments »

PO Box 789


p1000467Sabrina talks constantly.  She talks from the moment she wakes up until the moment she goes to sleep.  With no exaggeration, she is almost never quiet.  When she isn’t forming words, she is making monotonous, repetitive sounds just to see how long it will take to make mommy’s head explode.  Because of this, we tune her out some of the time.  It is just exhausting otherwise.

Not only does she talk a lot, she is incredibly bossy.  She is always telling someone or the dog what to do or not do.

Yesterday, we went to a consignment sale.  I turned out of the parking lot and started to drive home.  Sabrina started telling me I had to stop the car.  This was a new level of bossy.  I asked her why and in typical 3 year old fashion her response was “Because you have to stop the car”.  I only engaged her because I was curious what prompted this.  I was concerned she needed something.  I drove a few blocks before she finally managed to say “Tessa’s straps aren’t done”.  I pulled over and told Sabrina if she was making it up she was going to be in big trouble (there was a recent incident with a button and Sabrina making me think Tessa was chocking while I was hurtling down the highway at 75MPH then careening to a stop to find it not quite accurate).  She was right.  I had done the middle chest clip but hadn’t clipped the straps into the buckle between her legs.  I’ve never forgotten to buckle the car seat straps before.  You can send my mother of the year award to PO Box 789…

Sorry Tessa.  Of course I thanked Sabrina and apologized for not believing her.  Then today we were going some where and she said “Stop the car Mommy” just for the fun of it.


My runner up mother of the year status should come from the other stupid thing I did that day.  The building where the consignment sale was held is decorated for Halloween.  They had a 10 foot tall furry spider in the hallway.  I pushed the stroller close enough for Sabrina to touch it thinking she might find it cute.  She froze and didn’t speak or move until we walked away.  She has said no fewer than 50 times since then “I didn’t like the spider mommy”.  She already has spider issues (she asks us to check her window to make sure there are no spider every night before bed) and my dumbass self thinks she might want to pet the 10 foot tall spider?


Ahh to be 3 and have little things make you incredibly happy.  My sister sent Sabrina a few things for her birthday this week.  Her favorite items were the birthday card with the pin that says “Princess” and the sparkly headbands which she has declared to be crowns.  First thing this morning, Sabrina asked “Can I be a princess now?” which consists of putting on the “circle” (the pin) and her “crown” (the head band).


She even said it was okay for Tessa to wear one.  Tessa wasn’t so thrilled about it.


And yes, we do sit around and exclaim to each other that we can’t believe how stinking cute our kids are.

posted under parenting | 11 Comments »

Things making me feel old


Honestly, my birthday didn’t make me feel old.  It is just a day. Sure the number 37 seems impossibly high when in my head I’m still 23 but it is just a number.  Other things have been conspiring to make me feel old lately.

  • The therapist who evaluated Tessa last week wasn’t just younger than me – she was YOUNG.  I would put her at 25 and only because she had a masters degree – otherwise I would have said 22.  When did professionals become kids?
  • My nephew is 15 1/2 (the 1/2 is important because now he can get a permit to drive a car).  I’ve had some email/messenger conversations with him in the past week that have driven home the fact that he is nearing adulthood.  When did that happen?
  • As some of my old friends approach 40, they are considering “What next?” because they will be facing an empty nest as children go off to college.  As I approach 40, I will be considering “What next?” because my children will be going off to kindergarten.  I also remember a woman who was 40ish who started working in my office after her children went off to school.  I remember feeling rather sorry for her – she was bright but had no ambition.  I couldn’t believe she had interrupted her life to stay home and wipe noses and butts.  I was 25 and that was my perception.  Irony is a bitch.
  • I clearly remember my mother being the age that I am now.  That is just weird because she was always “old” (sorry mom).
  • All of a sudden, I find myself holding things with small print a little further away from my face.
  • Without meaning to, I find myself going on a 5 minute rant about how the kids in our neighborhood play in the street instead of their yards.  Next thing you know, I’ll be chasing them out of my yard while wearing my housecoat and brandishing a broom.
  • The kids who are seniors in high school this year are showing off their “Class of ’10 Rocks” spirit which makes me clearly recall sitting in pep rallies proudly chanting “S-S-S-E-N-I-I-I-O-R! S-E-N-I-O-R SENIORS SENIORS SENIORS!”.  Then I realize that no matter how clearly I remember it, it was 20 years ago that I was a senior proudly displaying my Class of ’90 enthusiasm.
  • I find myself telling my husband as he drools over cool new phones that I just don’t understand why he needs his phone to do anything but make and receive phone calls.  He has a camera to take photos, an MP3 player to listen to music, a video camera to capture videos, and a computer to surf the web.  Why does he need his phone to do those things too?
  • When I heard Patrick Swayze died (how sad is that?), it was mentioned that Dirty Dancing came out in 1987.  I was thinking how much I love that movie and then it hit me: how is it possible that was 22 years ago?
  • When I read People magazine, I’ve never heard of 60% of the “celebrities”.

Salmon Casserole again


dsc04593I haven’t cooked anything new or exciting in the past couple of weeks so I thought I would rerun this recipe.  As fall approaches (on the calendar if not in the weather department), I start thinking of casseroles.  I’m not a salmon fan.  This is the only form of salmon I ever cook in my home so if you are on the fence about salmon give this a try.  It is a childhood comfort food for me – it was always a bit of a treat when my mom made this.

Salmon Casserole

1 16oz can RED salmon (yes the pink is cheaper but there is a reason)

2 C crushed saltines (about 1 sleeve)

2 T minced green onions (I always forget these)

1 C skim milk

Clean salmon of bones (down the middle you will usually find some yucky round bones). Flake salmon with a fork. Add saltines and onion – mix well. Place mixture in a 2 quart casserole dish. Drizzle milk over it. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

White Sauce (If you want to sound fancy, you can call it a bechemal sauce):

3 T margarine

3 T flour

1 1/4 C skim milk

2 or 3 dashes of dried dillweed

Melt margarine over low heat. Add flour and stir until combined. Gradually add milk, stirring well. Cook on medium until bubbly and thickened, stirring constantly.  If you have an older child, get him/her to stir because it takes awhile and gets boring.

You can make the casserole without the white sauce but the sauce livens it up a bit.

mouthwateringbutton-1-2-1 As always click the button to visit Rachel for other Mouthwatering Monday recipes being shared around the web.

posted under food | 3 Comments »

They say its your birthday



I was surprised at the feelings evoked by taking my child into the Children’s Hospital.  As I was pushing her to the clinic in the hospital complex, I felt like people were examining my child to determine what her label was.  (Paranoid much? Apparently I am, thanks for asking.)   I just wanted to put a sign on her declaring her perfectly normal.  Someone in the elevator lobby remarked “She is just watching everything.”  I smiled and nodded but inside was thinking “Of course she is.  She is perfectly normal – why wouldn’t she?”  Silly?  Completely.  It made me really feel for the parents of children who do have labels hung by doctors or society and the assumptions that those labels carry.  Aside from my own neuroses, our experience with the Children’s Hospital this time was much more positive than our last encounter.

p1000444Tessa’s evaluation yesterday was largely a non-event.  I guess in some ways I was secretly hoping for a solution.  I wanted them to say “If you do X, then her eating issues will be solved.”  As is often the case, they gave me some opinions and possibilities and maybes.

Basically the therapist discussed her eating habits and problems with me and then watched Tessa eat for 45 minutes.  She decided that Tessa has “poor tongue lateralization”.  This means that she only moves her tongue forward and back rather than any side to side movements.  This means she can’t adequately manipulate her food to chew/gum it sufficiently and it is often taken to the back of her mouth before it has been chewed or gummed enough to swallow and the gagging/vomiting begins.  It also explains why she often ejects food with her tongue even when she seems to want to eat it – she can’t manipulate it around in her mouth with her tongue like most of us do.  This is something that should resolve itself with time and a little assistance.

untitledThe therapist suggested we continue to offer her table foods cut into tiny pieces and that we use an oral-motor stimulation tool like this one from Nuk.  We’ll stroke the insides of her cheeks and sides of her tongue with it to encourage the development of the lateral tongue movements.  (I can’t even imagine the scary google searches this paragraph will trigger.)

The other possibility is that her frenulum is a little short (that is what connects your tongue to the bottom of your mouth) and doesn’t allow full movement of her tongue.  Tessa threw a holy fit when the therapist tried to look so she couldn’t be sure about that.  They can clip it if it is too short but we are going to give it a month to see how she progresses and to allow her pediatrician to see if he can get a better look in her mouth.  While I didn’t get any definitive answers, it was a relief to not hear any possibilities of the autism spectrum or sensory issues thrown about – I had mostly ruled them out for other reasons on my own but still had a little tingle of fear in the back of my brain.

In other news, I have some how managed to attain the age of 37 today.  Happy birthday to me.  And my thoughts go out to all of those remembering 9/11 for much more sobering reasons.


posted under parenting | 31 Comments »
« Older Entries