Taking Leave of Tuscany

We arrived in Lebanon this past Saturday. Tuscany was hard to leave behind. It seemed the countryside looked different at different times of the day. It is no wonder that people return time and again to Tuscany. Every morning felt like potential as we whipped open the wooden shutters and let the light pour across the terra cotta tiles. I felt the urge to write on the stone patio surrounded by potted lavender and some kind of geranium. But we had medieval cities to visit, Chianti wines to try, and claustrophobic towers to climb. 

The ancient wine barrels in the Monastery of the Olives, a Benedictine order still there today and still producing wine.
The tiny town of San Gusme, a short walk from where we stayed at Arceno Estates.
View from Piazza Publico (City Hall) tower, looking over Siena’s Duomo
The Castle Brolio. Still owned by the same family since the twelfth century. They also produce a famous Chianti wine.
Michealangelo’s David
Florence’s Duomo. Florence was packed with tourists! But it was for a reason–lots of beautiful art, history, and architecture.
Our patio in Tuscany, Arceno Estates


Italian Distractions

After posting last, we flew out of the country and landed on the coast of Italy. We are lucky to have traveled to the Mediterranean many times. It never gets old. This time we wanted to see the famous Cinque Terre (Five lands). Five larger villages (and several smaller) are tucked into valleys between steep sea cliffs. A hike connects between them, but that seemed like too much work and more time then we had. After reading and planning, we decided the best way to see them was from the sea.  So we settled our home base in Porto Venere. Near the Gulf of Poets and the shipping and Naval port of La Spezia, Porto Venere was built in the twelvth century. There is a small but bustling port and a few islands adjacent. The water was clear and the weather delightful. 

Porto Venere, Italy. Ligurian Region
Beach time! Porto Venere, Italy

Our first day we decided to hop on the ferry to Palmaria Island and take the hike around the island. In our experience, most hikes near a touristic area are usually flat terrain aimed at the less atheletically inclined. This was not that hike. We climbed up 600 feet and down, then up again. The views were amazing. But at the end of five miles,we were ready for food and the beach. 

The next day, with cappaccino in hand, we met our skipper and his boat that would take us to Cinque Terre. Although there are ferries running between the villages of Cinque Terre, we read enough to know they were huge and crowded. So, we opted for a private tour instead. However, with all our focus on the adoption process, we were a little late booking. Instead of some slick sailboat or speedboat, we had, what looked like, a fishing boat without nets. Our skipper emerged sun baked, with long-ish, white hair, and a smile. We cruised along the coast. Farid even jumped into the water of a secluded cove (good for him :). We saw the beautiful and amazing towns of Cinque Terre. I couldn’t help picturing the Genoan and other sailor of history popping into each village to get supplies, or sell their products. Even today, boats swarmed each of the small ports. The nautical life is alive and well. In fact, didn’t we need a boat? We would debate that later, right now we wanted to enjoy the brightly painted buildings of Cinque Terre.

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre
Small Village, Cinque Terre
Vernazza. One of the Cinque Terre villages.

We Have Officially Started…the Wait

Our adoption profile went live today. We put a lot of thought, heart, and few tears into it. So, it feels a little raw to have it out there on the web for everyone to see. I made the video myself, which makes it a little more nerve-racking. In fact, this whole month has been about pushing myself forward and feeling a little exposed during the process. I’ve had to make a conscious effort everyday to choose something different. Instead of clinging to the memory of Jordan and hiding out at home, I’ve tried to reach out to friends and say “yes” to opportunities, knowing that Jordan is still with me.

With that in mind, I had some new experiences: I took day trip with a friend to Grafton, Illinois, a small town on the Illinois river. There is a beautiful park there, Pere Marquette and quaint (some very quaint) little stores along the main drag. It felt like a summer vacation town. Usually, I have an image of a lake house or house on the beach, but in Grafton, there were condos and houses on stilts to rent and enjoy the river.

I, also, met another friend in Chicago for a last minute weekend. During our few days there, I agreed to run a 10k with her (And I don’t run). The Chicago Spring half-marathon and 10k route followed along the lake. I figured it would be beautiful views and if I couldn’t run the whole thing, there was always walking. At the start line, a man with muscular dystrophy reminded us to dedicate  this run to someone special, and of course I thought of Jordan. I kept think of him and smiling. He was with me. I kept up a steady jog for the whole 6.2 miles! It felt amazing!

Now, since our adoption profile is complete and up, I need to be open to whatever happens. A little flutter of anxiety erupts in my stomach if I think too long on the idea of getting matched with an expectant mother. So, I just won’t do that. That’s what my mom would say anyway. 

So here’s the link…


Oh I feel that flutter…better go get distracted. 

The High Wire

They say as you proceed down the adoption track, it can feel like an emotional rollercoaster. I would say that’s true. From moment to moment, my emotions run amok. One moment I am excited about being an “employed” mother again, the next I feel guilty that I want to have children other than Jordan, and then I swing over to worrying I won’t love an adopted child as much as I loved Jordan, then I swish back to being so impatient for a baby I want to throw things.  You wouldn’t know it to look at me. But everyday, I get up on that high wire and try to stay balanced, be productive, make “to-do” lists, remember future appointments and obligations (that one is a tough one), and, ultimately, stay on course to our goal.

The positive is our Home Study is complete and we can officially adopt if we have the opportunity. However, now, we are in the marketing stage: collecting pictures, writing the “Dear Expectant Mother” letter, and trying to present ourselves in an honest, yet cheerful way. It reminds me of a scene from How to Lose a Guy in 10 days— “Yes, we’ve had two miscarriages, but we’re still positive and upbeat about the future. And yes, we lost our son. Yeah, we are terribly sad, but…surprisingly resilient and, you know…upbeat!”

Part of the problem is that I have a bit of an attitude. The match agency sent us a list of required photos and descriptive paragraphs they need written. My first reaction was to, metaphorically, stomp my foot and complain about the restrictions. We needed to take couple shots with our heads close together and without glasses and hats?  How contrived! We need staged action shots?  How inauthentic! We must only submit photos from the last year, maybe two? How can we possibly show our lives without delving into the recesses of our history? We have thousands of photos from our trips and life together over the last eleven years, why take more?

As often happens, I was brought to reason by my husband. Suck it up, Buttercup, he said (in a much more kind and round about way). I took a deep breath and acknowledged he was right. This is what we needed to do. It was not all about me. The birth parents needed to get a sense of our life, so they could choose who to give their child to. When I thought about it that way, the pictures seems pretty important.  So, I’ve reoriented. I’ve written our letters and descriptions. and culled through our photos. We even planned to take a few action shots, and my sister is coming over to help photograph us as a couple. This is what we need to do. We have to keep taking one small step after another, trying to keep our balance as we walk to the other platform across the crevasse. It’s not that far away, right?

Now, it's a little scary, but mostly upbeat.

Mother to an Angel- 2 years

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We had Jordan’s 2nd year memorial on Sunday, March 26th. But today is the day we lost him two years ago. It is really hard to believe that two whole years have passed. In so many ways, it feels like a few months ago. But when I look back at how we felt during that first year, to how we feel now, I can see the change. You do heal some. I think less and less about the night he slipped away and more about the times I held him, played with him, and bathed him. I’m grateful for the diminishing memories of pain. The “What if’s” are less frequent, and I can change a thing or two in his room without massive guilt.  We are doing okay. Thank God.

I was playing with one of our cameras and found some pictures from the NICU. We have a couple of family shots! My husband and I look tired, but we only have this and one other family picture, so I am pretty excited about them.


March Madness 2017

There is no easy way to jump into this so…I had a miscarriage this last month. After the blessings of having Father Archimandrite Sergios and the Icon of St. Anna visit us, we thought we should put our faith in God’s hands and try for a baby. I kept taking pregnancy tests but they were negative despite my overnight bloating (which is usually a tale-tell sign). Days passed my period due date, I took another test. It was one of those plus/minus deals and the plus was just a little too faint to be convincing. So, two days later, I took a digital test. No complicating plus-sign, minus-sign B.S. That Wednesday morning, I believed that stupid test when it said I was pregnant. I immediately downloaded those pregnancy tracking apps and tried to wait to tell my husband since he was at work. I couldn’t, so I took a picture of the test with the caption “So…surprise!?” I knew the result would bring on a load of worry for him but I hoped he would be happy too. He reminded me to call my fertility doctor. So I did and they said to come in for hormone testing.

Man, was I pumped. I pushed away a nagging feeling that I felt too good to be pregnant. By week 5, I am usually yelling at my husband for eating garlic while fatigue takes hold of over my limbs. But I felt great. Like better than I have in months. I just tucked that worry away and said, this is a miracle baby and maybe it will be one of those energizing pregnancies. Denial is a beautiful thing. Two hours after the blood test I got a call from the doctor. He did not have good news. My hormones were ridiculously low. Whatever pregnancy I had going was already on the way out. He was surprised I even got a positive pregnancy test. He told me I would probably start bleeding in the next couple of days. I couldn’t be delusional anymore. Hormone levels that low don’t make sense for a healthy pregnancy. Most likely, the embryo tried to implant but was not successful. I cried. My husband cried. The day was an emotional mindf*#@. Pardon my French.

But…some of the elation of being pregnant stuck with me for days afterwards. First off, having the miscarriage was, finally, a definitive answer: if I am going to try for pregnancy, I need to suck it up and take the fertility drugs. Second, the course we are on for adoption is the right one. Another answer, yeah! Third: I was so scared to have another loss. It was almost paralyzing. But we survived. I mean, I am feeling a little bitter about it today, and can’t say that I am emotionally at 100% but I am still putting one foot in front of the other. We are stronger than we think we are. Lastly,  it means that Jordan was a flipping miracle baby. He fought to be with us. He fought the conditions of my subpar womb so that he could be here and struggle with us. I don’t know why he chose to be our son and engage in the suffering of this life. I am beyond grateful. Really, there is no way to express my gratitude at having that little boy.

In the meantime: The Home study is almost complete. We have one more visit today. Then we just wait for the official write up that says we are on the market as parents. We have looked into some International adoption options as well as domestic. I think we are going to do both. Which means more paperwork and profiles and jumping through flaming hoops. I’m almost ready to face that all. Maybe just one more day of pouting and staring out the window…