Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.



A lot of folks don’t bother with a blogroll anymore.  I don’t use mine much any more – I read through Google Reader most of the time.  As a result, it has been sadly neglected.  I did a little house cleaning.  I decided that there was no reason to categorize folks by country of adoption any more.  We are all just moms now.  And I weeded out some.  I took out those who went private or hadn’t blogged yet in 2010.  If you resume blogging or go public again, please let me know.  Thankfully, I am able to stay connected with a lot of folks who quit blogging via Facebook.

I read a lot of blogs that aren’t listed here.  I’ve branched my reading out to include random mommy bloggers, food bloggers, and even a few crafty/decorating bloggers.  I’m not sure if I will take the time to add all of those links.

Random cute photo (Tessa’s head looks ginormous in this photo for some reason):


posted under blog, Blogroll | 6 Comments »

Paint w/Booze!


p1020443We had such a fun Mom’s Night Out with my MOMs Club.  There is a new(ish) business in our area that lets you bring wine or another beverage of your choice and then walks you through doing your own painting.  It isn’t quite paint by numbers – but they do hold your hand and break every thing down into simple shapes and tell you approximately how to mix your paint colors.  You can do your own thing or follow them precisely or some combo of those 2.  You can choose what night to do it based on the painting they are featuring.  I did not choose this painting and probably wouldn’t have based on the other choices I saw.  But it was loads of fun and I kind of like my painting.  I don’t know if it something that is available in a lot of areas but check it out if you see it in your town.

For locals click here for the link. They also have locations in AL and a couple other places.

posted under Misc. | 9 Comments »

First Pigtails Take 2


Tessa’s hair isn’t filling in quite yet in the front but the back of her hair is getting pretty long and thick.  She is sporting a mullet.  So I decided some pigtails might distract everyone.  I have to say she looked pretty freaking adorable and I was surprised she left them in.



I did a quick search of my blog to see if I posted a similar post for Sabrina.  I found a post from 11/27/07 titled “First Pigtails”.  Sabrina was 14.5 months old here.  (Tessa is just about 19 months old above.)  Here are the photos from that post:


Look at those chubby little feet and hands!  And that joyful smile that never seemed to leave her face while she was a baby. GAH!  Where did my baby go?


posted under family | 9 Comments »

No more teasing…


p1020364I mean teasing in 2 senses.  First?  This weekend was gorgeous.  This weekend was the reason we were okay with moving south, away from our family and friends.  In February, we had temps in the 60’s.  And sunshine!  We took the girls to the park (without hats or gloves or coats!) and they had a grand time running around.  Tessa gets so tired of being cooped up that she’ll grab her coat and say “Bye-bye? Bye-bye?” and if I say “No” she starts throwing a little tantrum.  But this weather was apparently all one big tease from Mother Nature.  Today dawned gray and raining.  And colder temps are on the way.  Boo-hiss.

The other tease was mine.  I mentioned a couple of weeks ago something medical that had come up with Tessa but I didn’t get into the details.  Ya’ll know I’m not a secret keeper – I let it all hang out around here.  But my psyche was feeling too fragile to open myself up to well meaning advice and stories.  I just couldn’t do it.  The doctor was concerned at her last well check that she still isn’t gaining weight appropriately.  Her height shot up to the 33%tile while her weight fell to the 3%tile.  He first wanted to test her for Cystic Fibrosis.  I freaked out a little.  I promised myself I wouldn’t google and I wouldn’t spell it out on my blog until I had the results from the test. (Head? Meet sand.)

p1020372The test was on Friday.  I took her to our Children’s Hospital.  Some of my long time readers might recall the memos I wrote after my first experience with that hospital.  I will say that this visit was better than that first one but it wasn’t entirely positive.  I won’t rant about it because I am too relieved that the results were negative.  And Tessa was a trooper.  She tends to have zero patience (no idea where she gets that from) but didn’t complain a bit – even when they hooked her up to a machine that looked like an old shock therapy experiment gone wrong.

p1020386Tessa was a little freaked out by the soft and uneven mulch at the playground.

I am so thankful and relieved that her tests were fine.  But I really don’t like going to the Childrens Hospital.  They try to make it bright and cheerful but the moment I walked in the door I started to cry.  I had tears in my eyes for most of the 2.5 hours we were there.  Some of the tears were because of my fear for Tessa but many were for the other children I saw.  The ones who weren’t going home.  Or the ones who obviously spent a lot of time of the hospital between trips home.  For the parents of those beautiful children who worked hard to smile and be positive but the fear and worry and exhaustion was evident in their eyes.   After our doctor called with the results, I sat down and cried some more.  I was happy for us and so heartbroken for those families who weren’t ending their week with good news.

A little bit of levity – ya’ll know I’m not above making myself look like an idiot for comic relief.

p1020404I got lost in the parking garage.  When we arrived, I had trouble finding the sky bridge that led over to the doctor’s tower.  They said it was on the 2nd floor of the garage.  I parked on the first floor (section 1E) and took the elevator to the 2nd floor.  No sky bridge.  I wandered and somehow ended up on the 3rd or 4th level so I took the elevator back to the 2nd and found the bridge.  When I came out, I went to section 1E.  No car.  I walked around but no car.  I was tired and feeling a little emotionally fragile.  Tessa was fussing.  It was cold.  The car was no where to be found.  I ended up crying in the parking garage because I was lost.  How pathetic is that?  A woman in a golf cart asked if I needed help. It took me a couple of minutes to stop crying enough to tell her my predicament.  She must see  mommas on the edge a lot because she barely even blinked at this crazy lady sobbing in the parking garage.  She informed me that there are 3 sections called 1E in that parking garage.  WTF?  What is the point of numbering and lettering them if they don’t mean anything?  She swore everyone got lost – that is why they have to pay her to drive around and rescue us all.  She told me to take the elevator up a floor and I should find the right area.  She drove her cart up and met me there – then drove away before I got to my car…maybe she was afraid I might start sobbing again.


Tessa still has some tests in her future to make sure there isn’t a reason she is slow to gain weight but I am thankful to have 2 beautiful, healthy children.


Did you see that?  In this post there are 2 photos with both children! It is so rare that I can capture them both in the frame at the same time.

posted under family | 14 Comments »

VD keeps on giving


Yes, I am 12.  That title makes me laugh.

I love scoping out the bargains after a holiday.  Valentine’s Day is especially fun because you can find some indulgent items for 50% – 75% off.  I picked up 2 t-bone steaks for around $5 dollars and some turtles for half price.  (Which just makes me yearn for my Pgh south side turtle because these commercial ones are fine but they probably shouldn’t even share the same name as those.  Sorry…got off track there.  Let me wipe the drool from my keyboard and I’ll continue.)

What is even better than a great clearance sale?  When you bring home a bonus that you didn’t know you were getting!  See these aren’t just turtles.  Oh no siree.


I opened the box to discover that I had not only brought home turtles but also…


An ELEGANT candy dish.  Just by opening the sides this ordinary box is transformed:


Isn’t it gloriously elegant?  I feel like I should put it in a more elegant spot than the kitchen counter.  We aren’t really elegant folks though so I’m not sure what to do with it.  I hope I can find sufficiently elegant candy to grace our new elegant candy dish once these turtles are gone.

posted under humor | 12 Comments »

Things I’m loving right now…


littleblendsTessa doesn’t eat vegetables.  (She also doesn’t like many fruits.  Strictly crackers, yogurt, cheese, and meat if she had her way.) When she gets older, her flat out refusal will no longer be an option but at this age we can’t reason with her and the gag reflex is strong in this one (as the doc found out with his tongue depressor at our last peds appointment).  So, she doesn’t eat vegetables.  We offer them.  She throws them on the floor.  I thought about trying baby food veggies but I hate to take a step back after all the months we worked to get her to eat solids.  The doctor said it isn’t worth fighting with her at this age and recommended a multi-vitamin. (She also doesn’t like fruit juice so the V8 Fusion stuff is out too.)  Twitter told me about Little Blends.  She loves them – carrot and strawberry is her favorite flavor.  I love that I can get at least a little bit of vegetable in her this way. Stonyfields also makes a fruit/veggie yogurt blend called YoBaby 3in1 Meals but I can only find it at Whole Foods.  If you haven’t seen any of these in your grocery store, check out the organic section of your grocery store because they annoyingly don’t stock it with the regular yogurt in many stores.

sexxycurvesI had a favorite mascara made by Maybelline but they quit making it a few years ago.  I’ve been searching for a new favorite…and I finally found it.  I love Rimmel Sexxy Curves mascara.  It lengthens and curls but doesn’t clump or look ridiculous.  And bonus! It is pretty inexpensive.  My only complaint would be that they don’t seem to make anything softer than black…I prefer a brown-black.

kuhn-rikon-ultimate-can-openerI love this can opener.  I’ve had it for over a year and I still love it.  There is a bit of a learning curve but once you figure out how to operate it, it is awesome.  It doesn’t cut the can open – it uncrimps the top from the can so there are no sharp edges.  There is no blade that gets icky and touches your food inside the can.  The pointed tail opens the ring top cans without breaking a nail.  It also opens bottle caps and 2 liter soda bottle caps.  And it comes in cute colors.  I’ve bought it for my step mom (she doesn’t use it – I haven’t given her sufficient lessons…seriously had to walk my husband through it for a month), my mom, and my mother in law.

furminatorMy mom sent The Furminator to Steve for  Father’s Day last year.  She apologized that it was a lame gift.  After using it, he said it was the best gift she ever gave him.  He claims its awesomeness must be a result of being made from ground up unicorn horns.   I seriously think we could brush the dog bald with this thing.  It takes off so much loose hair – it is worth the money. They make smaller ones for cats too.  Now if only I could find a way to get my sweet hubby to use it on the dog more often…but he does so many other things around here that I just can’t bring myself to nag.

pumpkinpancakeLast but by no means least, Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix – GAH! This stuff is awesome.  Normally, I might make pancakes once every few months but I’ve made this 4 times in the past 3 weeks.  It is so yummy.  Just enough pumpkin and not super sweet – perfect.  If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, get some.  Now.  Go.  It is seasonal so it might disappear at any moment and you don’t want to miss it!


FTC Disclaimer because apparently they aren’t busy enough – they need to create work by policing little old mommy bloggers.  Ahem.  (Kidding FTC…please don’t sick the IRS on me.)  Anywho – No one asked me to pimp these products nor did they provide me with any monetary compensation or products in return for my giving them some love.  (Although if any of you wants to hook me up, I’ll gladly accept some free TJ’s Pumpkin Pancake Mix.)  The links contained in this post will lead to the products listed but the companies could care less that I am linking up (in other words, they aren’t affiliate links…assuming my assumption of the definition of “affiliate links” is accurate).  I just love my readers and thought some of them might love these products that make life easier/happier.

posted under Shopping | 9 Comments »

In spurts


I am not usually one to compare what my child is doing with what others kids are doing.  My theory is that, saving a medical issue, they will all catch up eventually.  Sabrina made this easy.  She did some things early and other things a little later.  I didn’t worry at all.  Tessa is making this harder.  She was so late to eat solids and walk that I was getting really concerned – and then started doing both in one weekend.  When I talk to any one, I am very laid back about her late-blooming tendencies.  But when I read the blogs of the half dozen bloggers who had babies within a month of me and I read about their babies talking and using utensils, I get a little angst-y.  I wonder if something is wrong.  I wonder if I’m not working with her enough (poor neglected 2nd child).  Then I remember this is Tessa we are talking about.  Tessa does things when and how Tessa wants to do them.  She doesn’t care what the doctor’s chart says she should be doing. Nor does she care what I say she should be doing.

She still isn’t talking.  She says Mama (meaning both Steve and I), Cracker (I know – complex for a kid who doesn’t talk but she loves her goldfish – priorities), Baba (which means everything that isn’t Mama or Cracker – bottle, bath, puppy, ball, bye bye, etc).   This week she decided to master 2 new skills.  One of which I’m not sure I’m thrilled about: stair climbing.


The other is using a fork.  She skipped right over the spoon and went for the fork.  She will eat twice as much if she can use a fork just because it is fun.


Sabrina isn’t sure what the big deal is – she can use a fork and climb the steps.  But she is a little concerned at the talk of Tessa becoming a big girl.


Why do her bangs look like I let Steve cut them again? Gah! I swear, I paid a professional this time…I didn’t do it myself.  They look so uneven – and every time I look at her there is a piece 2″ longer than the rest hanging in her eyes.  Stupid Great Clips $6.99 special.

posted under parenting | 5 Comments »



p1020285I’ve mentioned in passing that Sabrina will be attending pre-school next school year.  (Deep breath.)  I have mixed feelings about it – as demonstrated by bullets (or little arrow thingies because my blog doesn’t seem to like to do bullets).

  • It is expensive!  The free option in my area is through the local school and the program is tiny compared to the number of kids in the area so they accept applications and do interviews to determine who needs to be in the program.  Criteria are murky.  And they don’t inform you if your child has been accepted until June.  Around here, you need to commit to a pre-school before that or they will all be full so you can’t wait around for that.  The free option has to be Plan B.  Plan A is only 2 days a week because with momma not working that is all we can afford.
  • It means my baby is growing up (WAH!).  I struggle every time I stop and realize what a little girl she is now – the baby-ness left her long ago but it still makes me catch my breath when I see glimpses of the person she is becoming.  Also, this will truly be the first time other people will exert steady influence over her.  Her world has been 90% Mommy and Daddy for the past 3 years.  Now I’m supposed to allow teachers and other grown ups to influence, teach, and guide her.  GAH!  AND what about Mean Girls?  I die a little every time I think of the first time other kids are mean to her.  I don’t want her to get her feelings hurt or want to change something about herself to fit in.
  • She is going to LOVE it.  I know this and it makes me proud.  She is such a social creature that I completely expect her to flourish in her new school.  She is already excited about it and cried a little when we told her we had to leave after our tour of the facility.  She asks daily if she can go to school yet.
  • It will be good for her in so many ways (see above: Mommy & Daddy = 90% of her world).  She doesn’t seem to have a strong intrinsic motivation to learn and I think keeping up with her peers and pleasing her teachers will give her the extrinsic motivation and hopefully kick start a little ambition/love for learning.
  • Her new school is wonderful.  It just opened and was started by 2 moms, previously elementary teachers, who were looking for pre-schools for their children and couldn’t find one that had it all (see above: expensive).  It has an indoor playground for days that it is too cold/hot/raining.  Each class has a pet and a garden.  The outdoor playground area is quite nice.  And the art teacher is bilingual so she teaches Spanish while doing art projects daily.  (So wish we had a Spanish immersion pre-school around here.)
  • Honestly, we love it so much that if the free option would be offered we would have to think about it.  Free is good but there are so many great things about the school we have chosen.  Plus, the free option is 5 days a week and I Sabrina might need to be eased into school so the 2 days a week is a good start.
  • The first boy she dubs her “boyfriend” better watch out.  Daddy won’t take kindly to sharing her affections.
  • And to be totally honest, as much as her starting school makes me hyperventilate, it also makes me do a happy dance.  Six hours, twice a week, with only 1 child sounds blissful!
posted under parenting | 9 Comments »

Nap time woes


I adore my children.  Really I do.  But one of my favorite times of day is nap time (see also: bed time).  Once Tessa was about 8 months old, I managed to work their naps out so they both napped at the same time . I need that break in the day.  It allows me to facebook, read blogs, shop online, catch up on TiVo, make phone calls, shower, do the dishes, and eat.  I’ve been holding tight to this tandem nap time but came to the sad realization this weekend that it needed to change.

For the past 3 weeks, Sabrina has only been napping maybe 2 out of 7 days.  Instead of sleeping, she was spending that time playing in her bed.  I was prepared to allow her to stay awake and make it “quiet” time in her room to rest because that would still give me a break.  But I realized that she naps on the days that we are out running errands and she gets to bed a bit later.  And she is whiny on the days she doesn’t sleep at all.  It was obvious that she needed the nap – she just needed it later in the day.  Tessa, on the other hand, still needs the earlier nap. I’ve adjusted them so that they still overlap for 30 minutes so that I can grab a shower without an audience.

Sabrina loves this new schedule because it gives her 90 minutes to play with the things that only come out when Tessa isn’t around (games and puzzles and things with small pieces easily lost – we have a rubbermaid container of “big girl toys”).  Tessa likes it because she gets an hour without Sabrina grabbing things away and generally bossying her around.  Momma, very selfishly, doesn’t  love it.  I love the individual time.  I like that Sabrina is napping.  I don’t love losing my 2 hours of quiet time during the day.

I am reminding myself that in 6 months Sabrina will be starting pre-school and I will have 2 days of quiet(er) time which will make me sad in a different way.

posted under parenting | 5 Comments »

Don’t even have photos…


Bad blogger! I have no news (there is a medical thing with Tessa but I don’t want to put it out there yet…I think I need resolution before I open myself up to internet advice – not because I don’t adore your input but because my anxiety level is high and I’m not googling so more information/input probably would be bad for my psyche right now…but before anyone else worries she is fine).  I even haven’t taken photos in days.

I met up with some other blogger friends/adoptive moms and didn’t take my camera.  Did you hear me?  It isn’t just that I didn’t take photos – I didn’t even take my camera with me.  It didn’t even occur to me until I had been on the road for 20 minutes.  Tessa has been sick (just a cold – nothing to do with above) which means she is whiny, crabby, doesn’t know what she wants, and just all around high maintenance just like her momma when she is sick.  We’ve wiped her nose so many times that she has little scabs on and under it.  Poor thing!  But I was so frazzled from dealing with Tessa that the camera didn’t even cross my mind.  It was awesome to see Carla and Melany – even if our meeting was too short.

We went to another couple’s house to watch the Super Bowl.  Tessa was darling in a Steeler’s jersey (she didn’t want anyone to forget where her true loyalties lie).  Sabrina and our friends’ little girl had a ball running around.  Many photo opportunities of cuteness and fun – but again didn’t even take the camera.

Now Sabrina is catching Tessa’s cold so I am surrounded by copious amounts of snot and whine.  I can’t wait until next year when Sabrina goes to pre-school and brings home even more germs to share!  Other than snot, all is well in our house.  Hope the same is true in yours.

posted under family | 8 Comments »
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