Friday, January 27, 2012

Wing and a Prayer

Around the anniversary of Alex's court date, the kidlets and I are going on a special trip.  We're cruising with some other adoptive families and close friends.  I literally can't wait!  I think I am worse than the young school child, almost counting down the days til we depart!  Our destination is Mexico.  We're hoping to even take a dip with some dolphins and generally enjoy some time away, relaxing. 

Because we're headed out of the country, it's time to get Alex's passport.  Tatiana has had hers since our summer '09 trip to Niagara Falls, Canada.  Besides we live 30 minutes from Canada, so a spur of the moment trip there is not out of the question -- and now, you need a passport.  

Most adoptive parents can relate to my stress over sending away for the passport.  All the passport application documents state that for adoptive children who were not born in the US, you need to send their adoption certificate, country of birth-birth certificate and certificate of citizenship.  Oh yeah, and they need to be the ORIGINALS.  You know, the ones you only have 1 copy of and would be very, very difficult to replace.  So yes, just a wee bit of stress sending those off to an unknown office somewhere in never, never land.  

But alas, it must be done, so this week -- it was.  Documents are in the mail and we're now on the clock.  I did spring for the expedited process (meaning RUSH, double meaning pay more) as I have heard this is a good way to not only obviously speed things up, but have a tracking #... so hopefully next week Alex's brand spankin new passport will arrive, along with my sacred originals.  

His passport picture cracks me up, but then again so does Tatiana's.  In T's -- she looks SO young to me.  And it is apparently Murphy's Law that the photo must capture a child's best expression of.... "huh, what?".  So therefore, without further ado, here is Alex's passport picture.  We'll chock the constant mouth open pose of late to cutting molars.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mama Guilt

A couple days ago, another IA mama had posted on Facebook that one of the talk shows (I think Anderson Cooper) had a discussion topic that day of working moms vs. stay at home moms.   I didn't see the show -- because I fall into that category of working mom.  And add to that working mom of 2 young children who somehow seem to dominate most of the TV viewing choices in the house.  Needless to say, the original posting received a LOT of comments - a majority of them very positive.  

That post stuck in my head.  It's a topic very near and dear to my heart.  Not specifically the stay at home mom VS the working mom topic, but more for me the working mom topic.  I haven't had the ability to try out the stay at home mom job.  During both adoptions I received 1 week "parental leave" and that's it.  The rest of leave is to be covered by vacation or FMLA.  Well, vacation had been used up with travel for trips 1 & 2 (and in Alex's case, #3 as well) and with the expense of adoption, FMLA just wasn't an option.  My company sees maternity leave as medical leave -- and with an adoption you don't qualify for medical leave.  I can't complain too much however, they are progressive enough to provide a $5K adoption grant - which is very nice.  Some may choose to supplement FMLA with that $5K, but for me as a single, with the cost of adoption, again it wasn't an option.  I am NOT complaining.  This was all my choice.  So, my stay at home mom life has been limited to about 1 week. 

I personally believe that EITHER choice:  stay at home or working mom, is HARD work.  Let's face, parenting in general is the hardest, best job ever.  This isn't a post on one choice being better than the other.   This is however, a post on my own personal working mama's guilt.  And I'll be straight up honest there is a LOT of it.  Guilt that is.  

My job is demanding and yet at the same time, I laugh posting that.  I.  Sell.  Chocolate.  Milk.  How can it be so demanding?   Working for the world's largest food company, it's all about more.  Sell more, grow more.  More than last year.  Combine that with the fact that my territory is a whole state - demanding.  I have 6 distributors - and a good part of my time is meant to be spent with those distributors:  getting them to (you guessed it) sell more.  Obviously that means windshield time -- travel.        Many times day trips, sometimes over nights.  Day trips are long days -- usually because I am pushing it to go home to see my kids vs. staying in a hotel some where.   Weekdays are a blur:  we're always in a hurry and I never feel like I get any quality time with Tati & Alex, because it's always rush, rush.  Rush out the door in the am, rush in at night, hurry and eat and get a bath completed before bed.  I always say mama is crabby Tuesday - Thursday nights.  

I am unique in my region for work.  On my sales team there are now 3 females -- myself and two others.  Of the two others, 1 is younger and single (no kids); and the other is married and has no kids.  The rest of the team is all men - all of which, minus one, have stay at home wives.  And therefore most of them (including my boss) have NO clue what it entails to be a working mom in our environment.  If I leave the house for 2 nights, I not only have to pack all my clothes and work items, but their clothes/school items.  I have to remember - is gym day at school falling during this time?  Did I pack the tennis shoes?  Is it trash day?  Who will haul my garbage to the curb?  What happens if one of them gets sick?  On and on and on...

As they get older, more and more of the guilt sets in.  What do I do about the kids choir at church?  (They practice after school on Wednesdays - a busy day for me usually - and are done by 4pm.  Who picks Tati up?)  What about softball or soccer?  Practice and then games are many times @ 5:30pm.  I can't always be home by then.  

I am VERY lucky to have a wonderful support system with my mom.  However, with the amount of travel I do, I am very conscious how much I have to lean on her.  I personally don't think it's fair to ask her:  "Hey, can you pick up my kids and schlep Tati out to T-ball practice, sit there and oh yeah make sure Alex sits patiently too".  Because 2 year old are known for sitting patiently, you know.  It's just not a fair request on ANY of them.

And as lucky as I am to have a great mom/support system, I will also admit that I KNOW that I am lucky, in this crazy economy, to have a job.  A good job.  I know it's a good job, even though I don't personally like it some days.  I have a great salary and a lot a great benefits.   And there lies the source of my guilt - lucky to have a good job, but missing my kids and wanting to provide something better for them.  Sometimes I describe it as STUCK.  

What does this have to do with that original Facebook posting I referenced?  Simple -- stay at home mom or working mom:  we all have our issues and guilt.  The grass always seems greener on the other side... 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

It's A Small World...

During Tatiana's adoption I became horribly addicted to blogs.  They were my lifeline.  I read and scoured everyone I could get my hands on!  I lived vicariously through those who were traveling before me.  I was experiencing my own emotional roller coaster with lots of my new "friends".  

Over time Facebook moved into first place and blogging took a backseat.  Now many of my bloggy land friends are Facebook friends and I thoroughly enjoy keeping up with them on Facebook AND blogs.  The International Adoption community is a small one, and it never ceases to amaze me the new families that I "meet" through this crazy, wonderful network.  

Another one of my friends is stepping back into the IA pool.  Yvonne is one of the funniest, sweetest, most helpful friends I have ever met.  She and her son, Connor, welcomed sister Elina into their hearts and family a couple years ago.  Elina is from Bulgaria and has a dual leg limb difference.  I have LOVED watching Elina blossom and grow in her new family.  Yvonne is a FABULOUS mom and that should help the two boys she's hoping to bring home.  You can read all about Yvonne and her boys on Reese's Rainbow.  If you have the ability and feel compelled, please help her cause!  

Like the 147 million orphans in the world, Danny and Dante just want a loving home and a mom who loves them.   They'll hit the jackpot with Yvonne, Connor and Elina!!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Post Holiday Wrap Up

I had planned on catching up sooner, but due to some odd, un-named (as of yet) sickness, it's now January 1, 2012 and I have lost all of my vacation!  Argh!

Thankfully, I managed to stay semi-healthy through December 25th pm.  We had a fabulous Christmas with family.  Alex's first Christmas at home was a blast!  I am not sure he understood it all -- and probably thinks:  "weird trees in house, extra lights here and there, open presents, wait a few days, open more presents, eat lot of foods". 

We hosted Christmas Eve here at my house for my mom's family.  This used to be a long standing tradition that was never missed.  However, for the last few years it's been rather on again, off again.  I guess that's what happens as we all get older, but I am thankful my kids to got experience one of my most treasured childhood memories.  

Christmas Day the kids slept until 8:30am!  Even when they did wake up, there was no rush to open presents -- Tatiana knew what the day was, but she was content to look at her stocking and ease into things.  Yes, mama is VERY spoiled by such good little kids!  Gramma Darlin joined us and we opened mama presents, and Santa presents and finally had a late breakfast.  After some down time, we were off to Great Gramma's for more merriment.  And that's when I started feeling sick.... 

Alex opening presents, Christmas morning 

 Tatiana opens a Karaoke machine!

 After a long Christmas Day

Tatiana and BFF, cousin Mary, on Christmas Eve -- striking poses 

Christmas Eve - ready for bed

My kids have been awesome this week.  Sick, crabby, mama didn't have the energy to do half the projects we had planned, but they were still very well behaved.  Now, if we can just find space for the new things.   Tatiana managed to stay up until mid-night with me last night to watch the ball drop.  Her comments:  "Mama, did it break"??  I just worship that girl.  She was the best date I have EVER had on a New Year's Eve.  

Next weekend is the Russian Orthodox Christmas and 8 months home for Alex!  It's hard to believe that just last year at this time I was waiting, not so patiently, for travel dates to head to Russia to meet the little guy.  The past 8 months have flown by, yet in most ways, it feels like he's been here forever.  I can't wait for the days when Alex can stay up til midnight too!