Wednesday, May 31, 2006
It wasn't supposed to work this way! (Part 8)
I left off in Part 7 with us waiting to hear if Giselle would sign the termination paperwork.

After spending about 2 1/2 hours at our friend's house, we decided to stop at a shopping mall. Oronzo said he wanted to get some matted picture frames, but we both knew we were desperately trying to distract ourselves as we waited to hear the news.

When we got to the shopping complex, Oronzo went to his store and I took Snuggle Bug into a nearby Hallmark store to browse through their 50% off Christmas ornaments sale. That's when I received the call on my cell phone. I had Snuggle Bug in my arms and couldn't pull out my cell phone in time, so I missed the call!

I fumbled with my cell phone and, with shaking hands, retrieved the voicemail message that I saw was from our lawyer. The message he left said, "Hey, OW, it's your lawyer. Giselle's lawyer just called and everything is signed! I'll call you tomorrow. Bye!" The time stamp on the voicemail message was 5:18 p.m. That time remains etched in my mind, and for the longest time, the voicemail message remained on my cell phone and I replayed it more than once.

Afraid to believe what I had heard, I immediately rushed to call our lawyer back to confirm that what he had said was true. I caught him as he was on his way out the door. He confirmed that yes, she had indeed signed, and Giselle's lawyer had told him that she was in pretty good spirits.

I stood outside of Hallmark, holding Snuggle Bug close, and tried to wrap my mind around what I had just heard. She signed! She didn't change her mind, despite the not-so-subtle pressure from her mom. She signed! That meant that we got to keep Snuggle Bug, this precious child, and proceed with our Petition to Adopt! Tears started streaming down my face as the pent up anxiety started to slowly melt.

I quickly called Oronzo's cell phone and shared the news! He was on his way back to pick us up and joined us a couple of minutes after my call. He leaned over and gave Snuggle Bug a sweet kiss murmuring against his soft head, "My son."

We were both overjoyed and extremely relieved. We both felt that things would be downhill from that point on. All that was left was to Petition to Adopt and then have a court date set to finalize the adoption. We left the Hallmark store and went into a children's toy store nearby and browsed. I felt like I was in a daze.

The first person I called to share the news with was my older sister (to be referred to as Tia). If you remember, Tia was the one that called me minutes after Snuggle Bug had been born, heard him cry, and started crying herself. Tia burst into tears of relief when I told her the termination paperwork had been signed. I realized then that the wait had been almost as hard on our families as it had been on us.

Oronzo's first call was to his mother. One-by-one, we placed phone calls to other members of our families, returning all the calls we had ignored, up until that point. It felt so good to be able to tell our family that Snuggle Bug was staying and becoming a part of our family.

I did think of Giselle and Quinn during this time, knowing they'd be grieving for their loss of Snuggle Bug. It dawned on me that there was a sense of guilt on my part, mingled in with the joy. With the signing of the paperwork, it hit home again that our joy and happiness came at the expense of someone else's pain and sorrow. I vowed to do my very best to give Snuggle Bug all the love, guidance, and support that I could to make his birth family's sacrifice meaningful. I also vowed that he would have truthful answers to his questions as he grew older, that he would know as much as I did about his birth parents. They would always be a part of him and I would never deny that connection.

Okay, that's all for now. Believe it or not, there's more to this story (a phone conversation between Giselle and me and much more), so stay tuned for Part 9.

To continue reading about our first adoption journey, see Part 9.

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8:10 AM

Friday, May 26, 2006
Five Ingredients Friday Launch (Quick Cheddar Cheese Biscuits)

Okay, I'm going to start something that I think may be new here in Blogland, something called Five Ingredients Friday. I hope you'll hop on the bandwagon with me.

I love trying new recipes and I'm always looking for good ones that are quick, easy, and delicious! Here's how I'd like it to work. Every Friday, post a recipe that involves only 5 ingredients or less. It can be a main dish, an appetizer, a side dish, a dessert, a beverage...I really don't care...but it must only have 5 ingredients or less. The idea is that it's a quick, delicious recipe to enjoy with your family and friends. You can pull these recipes out of your personal recipe collection, a cookbook, on-line, or from any other creative means that you can come up with.

Once you've posted your 5 ingredient recipe, add your blog link to my post so that others can take a look at yours. If you actually prepare one of the recipes you've found on a Five Ingredients Friday post, go back to that blog where the recipe originated from and leave a comment critiquing how the recipe turned out for you.

Oh, and feel free to use the image that I've created for your Five Ingredients Friday post, I don't mind! Questions, let me know!

Having now established the guidelines, I'll submit my first recipe. This one is dedicated to the cravings of this expectant mother. She felt compelled to stop at Red Lobster for their Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Why pay Red Lobster prices when you can make them at home? Enjoy!

Quick Cheddar Cheese Biscuits
(Makes 8 biscuits.)


  1. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  3. 1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  4. 2 TBSP chilled butter
  5. 2/3 cup milk


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine flour & baking powder in a medium bowl (optional addition, 1/2 tsp salt).
  2. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or 2 knives until coarse crumbs form.
  3. Using a fork, stir milk into flour mixture until a soft dough forms. Do not overmix or overwork dough.
  4. Stir in shredded Cheddar cheese.
  5. Drop dough in heaping tablespoons, 1 inch apart, onto ungreased baking sheet (I use a Silpat mat, they're awesome).
  6. Bake until biscuits are firm to the touch, about 15 minutes.


  1. Try basting the biscuits with melted butter and Hidden Valley Ranch powder.
  2. Freeze these biscuits to have for mini egg sandwiches. Defrost biscuits; reheat for 10 minutes. Fill with scrambled eggs, bacon, and Cheddar.
  3. Complement a spaghetti dinner: use Parmesan cheese instead of Cheddar and add 1/2 tsp dried basil in Step 1 of directions.

And so, Five Ingredients Friday has been officially launched! Please participate because I need some new recipe ideas. Thanks!

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7:13 AM

Up, peaz!
Before I give you the recipe exchange, I have to share something cute! Usually in the mornings after waking up, Snuggle Bug will spend quiet time looking at a book or play with a few toys that we leave in his crib. I'll snooze a bit, listening to him play, and then go get him up and play with him.

Earlier this morning, I woke up to the sound of Snuggle Bug's cute baby voice calling out, "Up, peaz!"

Can I tell you how cute that is?! That's the first time he's done that. I leapt out of bed and went in to kiss him and get him up to play!

I love that he's learning to talk, more and more!
6:58 AM

Thursday, May 25, 2006
Colored Chalk

Guess what Snuggle Bug and I were doing this afternoon? You guessed it, doodling with colored chalk. He loves this stuff! He's even gotten to the point where he's not attempting to eat it very often and earlier this week he said, "chalk," for the first time when he walked outside and saw it sitting on the patio table. He's so smart!

I'm using colored chalk to expose Snuggle Bug to words, shapes, colors, and the alphabet. He gets this exposure through children's books, but the colored chalk proves to be another interactive tool. I also hope to nurture his creative side. When I start drawing pictures, he comes over and scribbles over the top or nearby, to help me. We get chalk all over ourselves in the process. It's a lot of fun! Our driveway is filled with our artistic endeavors.

I'm so excited, I don't have to work tomorrow or Monday and Oronzo and I decided not to go camping, as originally planned over this Memorial Day weekend. We've had a busy month so we just want some downtime at home.

This hasn't prevented me from scheduling three different play dates for Snuggle Bug (one at a friend's house, one at the Children's Museum, and one atop of a mountain for a lakeside picnic with friends and then a piece of pie at an awesome bakery/restaurant). Sunday night we plan to go to an outdoor classical concert with some friends. I also want to work on catching up on laundry and other household chores, do some reading, and maybe watch a movie or two.

Hmm, I think my long weekend is filling up rather quickly. Still, I'm excited that I don't feel the need to go to bed at a decent time tonight and I'll have more one-on-one time with Snuggle Bug. Hooray for long weekends! What are your Memorial Day weekend plans?

Thanks for the responses I've gotten thus far from my previous post. Tomorrow I'll be starting a recipe exchange. Either this weekend or early next week I'll post my first Blog of the Week post. I'm excited to get these things started!
9:13 PM

3 objectives to this post.
Good morning Blogland!

So, last night I had some thoughts swirling around in my brain and I thought I'd post them this morning. I have 3 objectives to this post:

1. Delurk, please- I realize that I'm starting to get a bit of a following here and I love it. Thank you! I'd like to learn a little bit more about those of you that are stopping by, if you don't mind. How did you find me? What about my blog caught your attention? What keeps you coming back for more (for those of you that have stopped by more than once)? I used to be a major lurker for months before I finally got up the courage to start my own blog, so I understand if most of you don't want to leave comments, but can you just give me a quick shout out in this post? I'd appreciate it.

2. Blog of the Week- I'm thinking of doing some kind of Blog of the Week, where I pick a blog and link it in my post, telling a bit about the blogger to entice others to check them out. Crazy Hip Blog Mamas does a Member of the Week and I really like that, but I don't want this to be a situation where you have to be nominated, I just want to pick a blog that I've stumbled across or that really tickles my fancy in some way and give that blog a plug. I think we all like having a plug now and then. So, if I pick your blog (which I'm bound to do at some point) I'll email you a few quick questions and, with your permission, post your answers and a link to your blog on my blog. What do you think? Would you play along? I'm probably not going to do this BOTW on the same day every week, but I will do it once a week.

3. Weekly Recipe Exchange- I'm in a rut with cooking the same old meals at home. I love getting new, simple recipes. So, I think I'm going to try to launch a weekly recipe exchange, every Friday. I hope you'll check back tomorrow and participate. I need help!

Well, I think that about covers it. I don't know, maybe I'm being too ambitious with these ideas, but I want to give them a try. Don't worry, I'll continue on with our adoption journey and other things going on in my life. These other things will just be little side projects to mix things up a bit.

Hope to "hear" from you!

9:28 AM

Wednesday, May 24, 2006
It wasn't supposed to work this way! (Part 7)
I left off in Part 6 with us having brought Snuggle Bug home and anxiously waiting for Giselle to sign termination paperwork that following Monday.

Our original intent was to stay holed up at home. Since we didn't know if we would be allowed to keep Snuggle Bug, we wanted to save our family and friends the pain of getting to know him only to have him returned.

Somehow, our attitude changed. Despite the uncertainty of it all, we were so excited to have this precious child in our midst and we wanted to share our excitement and joy. We decided to attend a Christmas Eve party that some friends of ours were given and we took Snuggle Bug along.

I'm sure some of you may be appalled that we would take a 3 day old baby out to a party, but it wasn't some wild party, it was a gathering of close friends, many of whom had offered great support to us throughout our adoption process. And Oronzo and I have never been of the opinion that newborns are extremely fragile and should be isolated.

So, we went to the party for a couple of hours. Then, the three of us went to Christmas Eve mass. It was important to me to attend mass with Snuggle Bug and Oronzo. Up until this point, Oronzo wasn't much into going to church and I had been going every Sunday alone. But I asked him if he'd go that night so that I could have my family with me. I told him that we had much to thank God for. He surprised me by agreeing to go.

Christmas Eve mass was beautiful and seemed even more of a spiritual experience to me than usual. I'm sure that was due to the fact that I had a tiny babe nestled in my arms and my husband standing beside us with his arm around my shoulders. I was filled to overflowing with love and peace. I said a special prayer for Giselle and Quinn, as I knew they must be in a lot of pain at this point.

Oronzo surprised me at the end of mass by telling me, "If you didn't go so darned early in the morning, I might attend mass with you once in a while." He was right, I preferred to attend mass at 7 a.m. each Sunday.

"Okay, how would 9 a.m. work for you?" I asked. Was God softening his heart through this child? Family members had assured me that once Oronzo became a father, he'd probably start going to church with us. I didn't believe them. Perhaps they were right after all!

"Better than 7 a.m.," was Oronzo's response. "And we'd have to go out for a family breakfast after mass."

"It's a deal!" I quickly agreed.

The next day, was Snuggle Bug's first Christmas. He didn't seem all that impressed. He was more interested in sleeping and eating. Clara called at 9 a.m. to see how he was doing and we let her know that he was settling in nicely. After chatting with her a bit, I wished her a Merry Christmas and let her know that Giselle and Quinn were in our thoughts. I wondered if they would call. They didn't and I was too afraid to call them.

Later that morning, Oronzo's parents asked if they could come over and spend time with Snuggle Bug. They assured us that they were aware of the uncertainty of it all, but they wanted to see him anyway. How could we refuse?

Peyton and Aleiza came and held Snuggle Bug. They cooed at him, they rocked him, they examined his tiny toes and fingers. They fell instantly in love with him, as we had. They spent quite a bit of time with him and produced and insane amount of gifts for him (this was just the beginning of the grandparent spoiling). They asked after Giselle and Quinn and we told them what we knew.

Before they left, we found ourselves agreeing to stop over for the family Christmas gathering that afternoon. We hadn't intended to stay long, but when we arrived with Snuggle Bug, he was whisked out of our arms and passed around amongst all the relatives. I have one cute picture of Larissa holding Snuggle Bug, balancing him on her extended stomach. At the time, she was 5 months pregnant with Rebecca.

Snuggle Bug was absorbed in to Oronzo's family and showered with love. How could we deny him this, even if we weren't allowed to keep him? It was foolish of us to think that keeping him at home was the best thing for all involved. He deserved those initial days of love, no matter what happened.

That Sunday we stayed close to home, holding Snuggle Bug, caring for him, napping with him, loving him. By this time, Oronzo and I had already worked out a night feeding schedule, each of us taking shifts so that we both got at least a little sleep. It wasn't so bad. As the day of termination grew near, so did our fears. Would she sign or wouldn't she?

Monday morning, we were up at the crack of dawn, restless and anxious. Our lawyer had told us that Giselle was schedule to meet with her lawyer at 10 a.m. to sign the papers. He told us he'd call us after it was done.

10 a.m. came and went with no word from our lawyer. The nail biting began. I realized that I felt sick to my stomach. I was holding Snuggle Bug close to me the whole time, refusing to set him down. I stayed in my pajamas, refusing to leave the house. Family members started calling and we ignored their calls. There was only one person we wanted to hear from.

By noon, I couldn't take it any more and I called our lawyer. It shouldn't have taken 2 hours to sign paperwork, right?!

"Yes, this is OW. I'm calling to ask if you've heard from Giselle's lawyer. Has she signed the termination papers yet?"

"Well, I've heard from Giselle's lawyer. She didn't make her 10 a.m. appointment," our lawyer explained. My heart leapt into my throat at these words! My brain was sluggish in trying to process what this meant.

"Has she changed her mind?" I asked with a catch in my throat.

"It doesn't sound as though she has," my lawyer tried assured me. "She's got some post-pregnancy pain this morning and just didn't feel up to going in at 10 a.m. She told her lawyer that she'd try to get in later this afternoon or sometime tomorrow morning to sign the paperwork."

Our lawyer told me to hang in there and promised he'd call just as soon as he heard anything. I thought to myself, 'Yeah, right. You've left us hanging these past 2 hours without a call!'

I hung up with our lawyer and relayed our conversation to Oronzo. He had a worried expression on his face, but he remained calm. Somehow he always remained the calm, strong one.

By 2 p.m. Oronzo forced me to get dressed and leave the house. We went over to a friend's house so that Oronzo could help him and his wife with a bit of remodeling. I understood that Oronzo needed an outlet and that working with his hands was what worked best for him, so I reluctantly went with him. I hoped that hanging out with our friends would cheer me up and I knew they'd be thrilled to have some one-on-one time with Snuggle Bug.

Okay, more will be revealed soon.

To continue reading about our first adoption journey, see Part 8.

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9:20 AM

Monday, May 22, 2006
I've been tagged!
Last Tuesday I was tagged to do a meme by GiBee. Sorry it's taken me so long to get to this, GiBee. Here goes:

What is your favorite word? Mama-- there's nothing sweeter than hearing my son call out to me, "Mama!" with a brilliant smile on his face.

What is your least favorite word? Stupid-- I don't think anyone should be called stupid. We all possess some form of intelligence, it's just a matter of developing it.

What turns you on spiritually, creatively, emotionally ?
spiritually: music-- I've been involved in church choirs in the past and raising my voice in praise is so spiritually motivating.
creatively: card stamping, cake decorating
emotionally: loving family and friends, tenderness

What turns you off? belittling words shouted in anger

What's your favorite curse word? hell-- my Grandma once told me that I should be able to get my point across without cussing, but sometimes I just can't help myself.

What sound or noise do you love to hear? my son laughing uncontrollably as we find all his tickle spots.

What sound or noise do you hate? my son crying in pain, that's the worst sound of all!

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Writer

What profession would you not like to do? Telemarketer

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say at the pearly gates? Since I believe that Heaven does exist, I would love to hear God say, "Welcome, my child."

Now, I'm going to tag two bloggers that I'd like to get to know better: kpjara and Tracey. Please leave me a comment you two, letting me now if you're willing to do this.
8:44 PM

I'm back!
Oronzo & Snuggle Bug at Newport Beach, CA

I'm finally back! It feels like I've been gone a month, rather than just 3 days. Funny how that works!

Our trip to visit Oronzo's brother (to be referred to as Christian) and his family in Orange, CA went well. We arrived in CA late Thursday night and checked into the Howard Johnson hotel/motel that Oronzo's father (to be referred to as Peyton) recommended to us. Let's just say I was shocked at his recommendation and we won't be staying there ever again. It was not the most pleasant place to stay. It was clean but stark, no "extras", and it was right off the freeway so the surroundings weren't so nice. But it was literally 2 minutes from Christian's house, so at least it was close. Thankfully, we were only there to sleep each night, then we were either out sightseeing or at Christian's house during the day.

Friday Oronzo, Snuggle Bug, and I drove to Newport Beach and took a ferry to Balboa Island. The ferry ride was quick but fun. On the island, we saw many gorgeous beach front properties with flowers so enormous that I couldn't believe it. Sweet Pea, roses, and Bird of Paradise grew so lush and large that it reminded me of our trip to Hawaii.

Back at Newport Beach, we took Snuggle Bug on a merry-go-round ride and then to the beach to see the ocean. Snuggle Bug was not impressed with the ocean. In fact, he was terrified of the ocean waves (as you can see in the picture above) and refused to splash in the water with us. Once we took him up on the beach, he calmed down and had a grand time playing in the sand with some small local children that were there with their pails and shovels. Snuggle Bug was invited to join the other children and he was happy as a clam shoveling sand into pails. I guess we need to get that sandbox in our yard sooner, rather than later.

Friday afternoon we went to Christian's house and hung out with Christian's wife (to be referred to as Larissa) and their 1 year old daughter (to be referred to as Rebecca). Although Snuggle Bug is 5 months older than Rebecca, they're about the same size. Rebecca is walking, but it's that unsteady drunk walk that babies have in the beginning. The kids had fun playing nicely together while we parents sat around and chatted. It's funny but Oronzo's family views Larissa as a "high maintenance" woman, probably because she was raised in CA and likes to dress nicely and never leaves the house without makeup, but I really like her. Now that we have children the same age, my SIL and I have a lot to talk about.

The four of us took the kids out for an Italian dinner and then hung out at Christian & Larissa's house a bit more before it was time for us to head back to the hotel to put Snuggle Bug down for bed.

Saturday was the day of Rebecca's 1st birthday party. The theme was "big top circus" and Larissa did a great job decorating the back yard. There was a ball pit, a playhouse (decorated with a big tent), a bean bag toss area, horseshoes, and lots of other toys and games for the kids. Lunch was a BBQ and lots of alcohol for the adults! They even rented cotton candy and snow cone machines! There were probably 50 adults and about 25 children under 3 years old. Amazingly enough, all the kids did well! There were no major fights, tantrums, or melt downs.

The party ended around 3 o'clock but we stayed and hung out longer with Oronzo's family. Despite the fact that neither had afternoon naps, Snuggle Bug and Rebecca were like Energizer bunnies and kept going and going and going. They were having so much fun playing outside together. We stayed through dinner and then finally pulled Snuggle Bug away and took him back to the hotel to go to bed. He slept like a rock the minute he was laid in his pack-n-play! He was beat.

Yesterday, we went to mass and then out for brunch with Oronzo's family. We hung out a bit at Christian & Larissa's house after that and then Oronzo, Snuggle Bug, and I left to go back home.

It's heavenly being back in our own home-sweet-home. Last night Snuggle Bug seemed quite happy to be back in his crib and this morning he played enthusiastically with his toys, acting as if they were brand new. He also had fun chasing his kitties around.

I must say, of all of Oronzo's family, I do enjoy spending time most with Christian & Larissa. They've got the same laid back attitude and parenting style that we do. Too bad they live so far away!

It's good to be back to my blog as well. I've missed it. I didn't have time to get online even once while we were in CA. Now I'm off to go catch up on some of the other blogs I like to read!
10:41 AM

Thursday, May 18, 2006
It wasn't supposed to work this way! (Part 6)
The time has finally come for me to devote my energy to writing Part 6 of our adoption journey. I'm going out of town tonight, to CA to spend a long weekend with Oronzo's family for our niece's 1st birthday celebration (yes, I know, I'm a glutton for punishment, having just spent the week with my family). I'm not sure if I'll be able to access my blog or not, so I thought I’d better get Part 6 out before I departed.

I left off in Part 5 with the Giselle calling to talk.

My heart pounded against my ribcage as I heard her voice. I remember we exchanged pleasantries and I asked her how she was feeling.

"I'm a bit sore, but doing better than I expected," Giselle told me. "I'm relieved that it was such an easy delivery for me. How's Snuggle Bug doing?"

I filled Giselle in on the status of Snuggle Bug and then there was an awkward pause before the real reason for the call was announced, "I'm not sure yet but I may want to come say 'Hi' to the baby. If I decide to come, what would be a good time tomorrow?" Giselle asked quietly.

I immediately focused in on the fact that she want to say, "Hi" to the baby, rather than "Goodbye." Is she changing her mind?, I wondered.

I explained to Giselle, "We should be released from the hospital tomorrow, but we won't know for sure until the doctors make their rounds. You could come around 8 o'clock or so, if that works for you. He's usually awake and alert at that time."

Earlier that morning, the hospital Social Worker had taken the release forms to Giselle to sign, giving us the right to take Snuggle Bug home with us and we were told that Giselle had signed them with no qualms. Giselle had checked out of the hospital shortly after that and returned to the apartment that she shared with her mother and younger sister.

"I'll call you tomorrow morning if I decide, I'm just not sure yet," she admitted to me.

"No problem," I assured her, swallowing past the lump of terror in my throat. "We'll be here."

I hung up the phone gently and relayed the conversation to Oronzo. He was much calmer about the whole situation than I.

"You know, it's probably better that she come to see him here, if that's what she decides to do," Oronzo said. "Then she'll know and we'll know once and for all. I'd rather it happen this way then getting a call from her later, asking us to bring Snuggle Bug to her apartment."

I knew he was right, it was best if she had a chance to see him, hold him, and make her decision again. In my heart I knew he was right, but I just couldn't get past my fear of loosing this child that I wasn't yet allowed to call my own.

I decided then and there to shower this babe with all the love I could offer, for as long as I was able. This situation was beyond my control and, now more than ever, I needed to accept that reality.

I wasn't able to eat much dinner that night and I didn't sleep well, in part due to Snuggle Bug's night feedings and in part due to my stress level.

We were up early the next morning, and I anxiously waited for the phone to ring. I just wanted to know what was going to happen, either way. The not knowing was killing me!

The phone rang at 8 o'clock. It was Clara, not Giselle.

"I woke Giselle up at 7:30 a.m. to see if she wanted to go to the hospital to see Snuggle Bug," Clara informed me. "She told me 'No' but she may change her mind."

I didn't know how to respond to that so I simply said, "Okay."

"I'm on my way in to work right now but if Giselle changes her mind, her grandmother can take her."

"I understand," I told Clara. "I'm still not sure how long we'll be here. We're waiting for the doctors to make their rounds."

"Well, I'd appreciate it if you'd call Giselle before you check out of the hospital to check again if she wants to stop by and see the baby."

My mind was screaming, Why is it up to me to try to pressure Giselle into seeing her baby? How can Clara ask this of me?!, but I calmly told her, "Okay." I felt powerless to refuse her. Too much was at stake.

Shortly before 10 o'clock a doctor came in and checked Snuggle Bug over. He was pleased with his progress with eating more and having wet diapers so the doctor agreed to release him to go home with us. As the nurse got the discharge papers together for us to sign, I picked up the phone to call Giselle.

Chloe answered the phone and I explained my purpose for calling, "Your mom asked me to call Giselle to let her know when we're leaving the hospital, in case she wants to stop by to see Snuggle Bug before we take off. We'll be leaving around 11 o'clock."

"Okay, I'll let her know," Chloe promised.

As I hung up the phone, I told Oronzo, "Okay, I made the call. The ball is now in Giselle's court."

We left the hospital around 11:30 a.m. Oronzo pulled the car around to the Southeast entrance and spent several minutes making sure Snuggle Bug's infant car seat was properly secured in the center of the back seat. It took forever to get home and I noticed a lot of cars passing us along the way. I looked over to see Oronzo driving 10 miles under the speed limit. He was being extra cautious with the baby in the car. It was so sweet!

We fed Snuggle Bug when we arrived home, then we put him in a sleeper gown, swaddled him in a blanket (we learned early on that he loved to be swaddled tight), and tucked him into his bassinet next to our bed so that he could nap. I stood and watched him sleep for quite a while before finally dragging myself away to return phone calls to family and friends, sort through the mail, and do laundry.

We never heard back from Giselle before leaving the hospital, and we realized that we were now in waiting mode. We left the hospital with Snuggle Bug on a Friday, Giselle was scheduled to go in to her lawyers office to sign the termination paperwork the following Monday morning, five days after his birth.

I knew that every time our phone would ring, I would be fearful that it was Giselle calling to tell us she wanted Snuggle Bug back. I knew that if she did call, there wasn't a damned thing we could do because we were only considered temporary guardians.

I remember our lawyer coaching us to think of ourselves as babysitters, until the day Giselle signed the termination paperwork. I know he was trying to help us guard our heart, but once Snuggle Bug was born and I held him in my arms, watched as he examined me carefully with intensity, and calmed to my touch, I realized that there was no possible way to guard my heart. Against my will, I was already feeling like his mommy, not his babysitter.

Okay, that's all for now.

To continue reading about our first adoption journey, see Part 7.

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6:50 AM

Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Happy 3 Year Anniversary to us!
Our Irish wedding rings, being held by the best man.

Today Oronzo and I will be celebrating our 3 year wedding anniversary. We've been together much longer than that (our first date was on Valentine's Day 9 years ago) but I've learned that married life is different than dating.

Oronzo and I built a solid foundation for our marriage with our wedding. We were married in beautiful Killarney, Ireland. Yes, you read that correctly, we were married in Ireland.

People ask us all the time, why Ireland? Getting married in Ireland was Oronzo's idea and it was his compromise to me. You see, I thought I needed to have a big, traditional Catholic wedding complete with hordes of family and friends and a dinner/dance reception. If you haven't guessed by now, large hordes of family (or even small ones) are not Oronzo's style. He likes things small and simple. He tried to see if I'd consider eloping and getting married in Vegas by Elvis. "Hell, no!" was my resounding response.

We went round and round about what type of wedding to have. I wondered if we'd ever get married! Then one day Oronzo came to me and said, "Let's get married in Ireland!"

"Ireland?" I said. "Why Ireland?"

"Well, you always talk about how much you loved going to Ireland with your brother back in '95 and how you want to go back someday. This would be your excuse to go back."

"I'm not sure our families would be able to attend a wedding in Ireland," I said as I pondered the idea.

"That's the whole point!" Oronzo explained. "I'm sure some of our immediate family members would come, but not all the riff raft that likes to show up for a free dinner. I'd get my small wedding and you'd get your Catholic wedding in a country that you love like your second home."

I was skeptical at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I warmed up to the idea. I did love Ireland the first time I went there. It was breathtakingly beautiful! And I learned that although I'm only part Irish, I was easily mistaken for a local several times while my brother and I were there. It truly did feel like coming home.

Once I got on board with Oronzo's idea of getting married in Ireland, I called my local priest and got the ball rolling. Then, we started breaking the news to our families.

Many of our family members were disappointed, some even angry, that I was getting married so far away. A lot of them couldn't or wouldn't come. But when it came down to it, for the most part the ones that mattered most to us found a way to be there. We had 10 people from the States and 10 locals from Killarney attend.

The trip to Ireland was fantastic! We arrived 2 days before our wedding and worked with our B&B owner to get everything lined up that we couldn't do over the Internet. We picked out flowers, we picked out our rings (I wanted rings from Ireland), we met with the restaurant owners that we were using for our rehearsal dinner and reception dinner, and we tied up other loose ends. We made sure to have time to hang out in the pubs at night and drink Guinness and Smithwicks beer and listen to the local musicians perform. Amazingly, everything just fell into place.

The day of our wedding, I got ready in the gorgeous manor house honeymoon suite that we'd be staying in the night of the wedding, while Oronzo got ready in the B&B that we had been staying in (I insisted we didn't see each other the day of the wedding until we met at the alter in church). The picture on the right is me walking down the stairs to get into the horse drawn carriage that Oronzo had hired to take me and my maid of honor (my older sister) to the cathedral. I felt like a royal princess!

When I arrived, with my family in tow, I found Oronzo and his family and best man already there waiting for me. I was too far away to see, but Genevieve took a picture of Oronzo as he caught his first sight of me walking down the eye. His eyes were misty and filled with tenderness and love.

We had a full Catholic mass wedding in the huge Cathedral that you see on the left. It was magnificent! Our wedding was witnessed by those that loved us dearly. The wedding day was not just my day, it was Oronzo's day too. It was our day! I'm eternally grateful for this. I realize now that if I would've forced Oronzo to give me my way, he would've been miserable and that's no way to begin a marriage. As a result of getting married in Ireland, he's happy to tell anyone that will listen about our day!

After the wedding ceremony was over, our horse drawn carriage took Oronzo and I to a nice restaurant in the local town square. The restaurant that we had chose for our reception dinner had only been open a year and they were thrilled to have their first American couple celebrating a wedding in their establishment. They even asked if they could have a local newspaper reporter come and take our pictures and interview us that night, so we made the papers the next day!

After the dinner, our wedding party hit the streets and went to the pubs for a few drinks. We had far more than a few drinks! The locals were tickled that we were making the pub rounds in our wedding attire and Oronzo and I had many drinks purchased for us and many Irish men and women toasting to our health and happiness and showering Irish blessing down upon us. I was having so much fun that I didn't want to leave, but eventually Oronzo and I were loaded up and taken back to the manor house to spend our first night as husband and wife.

We spent the next two weeks touring various parts of Ireland for our honeymoon, staying in B&B's wherever we went. I couldn't have asked for a more relaxing, romantic honeymoon!

That was 3 years ago and I remember it all like it was just yesterday. Just writing about it makes me ache to go back to Ireland, my second home. Oronzo is determined to get us back there before our 5 year anniversary, we may be going back next year.

And how have the past 3 years treated us? Quite well actually. We've moved twice, we've purchased a new house, we've adopted the most precious child alive, and our married life has been pretty darned good!

Don't get me wrong, Oronzo can drive me nuts at times (like when family comes to stay) but I love this man with all my heart! He's my friends, he's my lover, he's the father of my child, he's my dear husband. He was gun-shy about getting married because he had been married and divorced 2 years before I met him, but despite the 5 agonizing years of dating and wondering if he'd ever come around and marry me, I realize now that he was well worth the wait!

And now, dear readers, because you've patiently waded through this anniversary tribute, I'm going to treat you with a picture of Oronzo and me, leaving the cathedral as husband and wife. I normally don't like to post identifying pictures on this blog, but for you I'm going to make an exception. Yes, my Italian husband wore an Irish kilt (in the proper Irish fashion) and looked pretty damned sexy, if I do say so myself!

Happy Anniversary to us!

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7:04 AM

Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Treasure Tuesday 3

My treasure for this Tuesday is the time Snuggle Bug and his grandpa (my dad) have had together this past week.

My immediate family lives in another state, many, many hours away from us. Snuggle Bug and I got back to my home state about four times last year, so we visited more frequently than I normally do and it was nice. Still, the time we had with my family was hectic and rushed.

It's been wonderful having my dad, sister, and nephew here, despite the stress of it all, because it's given Snuggle Bug the opportunity for some quality one-on-one time with them. And since it's on his turf, he's his outgoing, playful self around them, rather than feeling overwhelmed by the hordes of relatives he's usually subjected to.

I'm especially thankful for the time Snuggle Bug and my dad have had together. Of all the pictures I've taken of them this past week, this one is my favorite, because it captures the delight they've found in spending time with each other. Snuggle Bug was running around the back patio in his swim diaper, after getting out of the pool, and his grandpa called him over to look at the toys he was carrying around. Because Snuggle Bug is so light, my dad is able to lift him up onto his lap with no assistance.

I have no memories of either of my grandfathers. They both died before I was old enough to know any better and I have no pictures with them. I feel such a sense of loss because of that. I pray that my dad will be around long enough so that Snuggle Bug has a chance to get to know him. In the meantime, I'm taking a lot of pictures of them together as often as I can.

Thank goodness for grandparents and the love they have to offer!

If you've posted a treasure of your own, let me know in my comments and I'll link you here.

1. Faith

2. Chaotic Mom

3. Mom Nancy

4. Carol

5. Tracey

6. Andria

7. Mary Ann

8. Flip Flop Mamma

9. MotherTeacherFriend

10. Children and Cheerios, On the Loose!

11. Sandra

12. Kim from Hiraeth

13. Sandra

14. Kelly


7:22 AM

Monday, May 15, 2006
Loose Threads 1

I was about to start working on Part 6 of our adoption journey and I got to thinking of some loose threads that I'd like to sew up before going forward. So, here it goes:

1. Mother's Day- my Mother's Day was fantastic! We had a nice, relaxing day and we ended it by going to an outdoor pops concert in the park, meeting up with a couple of our close friends. We brought a blanket to spread out on the grass, a picnic basket of goodies, a bottle of wine, and some pillows. Snuggle Bug had a grand time running around on the grassy hill, flirting with the people camped out around us. He wanted Oronzo and I to take turns chasing him around, so we got him good and wore out! Once the music started, he was swaying and doing a cute little jig to the music and he loved clapping at the end of each song. Eventually he started getting tired and he curled up on my lap, with his head against my heart, and fell asleep as the music swirled around him and the stars beamed overhead. Holding his warm, sleeping body as I rested against the back of my husband and soaked in the beautiful night was the best possible Mother's Day gift ever! I'm so very blessed! My mom spent her Mother's Day in the hospital with my SIL and youngest brother. Not quite what she had in mind.

2. Unexpected Surprise- Yesterday, I got a sweet email from Giselle, wishing me a Happy Mother's Day and telling me that she hoped we were all well. I responded with a lengthy email thanking her, telling her she was in my thoughts and prayers, and giving her an update on what Snuggle Bug has been up to lately, and attaching one of my favorite recent pictures of him. I do enjoy hearing from her. What was truly a surprise though was receiving another email, this one from Chloe, Snuggle Bug's birth aunt. I haven't heard from her since the day Snuggle Bug was born. Her email said something like this, I was just saying Happy Mother's Day and I am so happy for how much you have given Snuggle Bug. I know Giselle is proud for what he will grow up to be. The sweet simplicity of her message almost brought tears to my eyes. I emailed her back, thanking her for her email, updating her on what Snuggle Bug is doing, and attaching a recent picture of Snuggle Bug so she could see how much he's grown and changed. I was touched that this teenaged girl would think of me and send a message.

3. No baby yet- My sister-in-law has not yet had her baby. My youngest brother and she are now in a major hospital, waiting. The doctor has stopped her contractions, at least for the next 48 hours, and they're giving my sister-in-law IV fluids and steroids to try to help develop the baby's lungs. After 48 hours, the doctors are going to let things take their natural course. If my SIL starts contractions again, they'll try to deliver naturally. If she doesn't start contractions again, they'll keep her in the hospital on bed rest for up to two weeks. If she hasn't had the baby in two weeks, then they'll induce labor. So, I'll have a niece/nephew in two weeks, at the most, maybe sooner. The doctors are hopeful that the baby will be born healthy. So far, there are no signs that the baby is in distress.

4. My relationship with my dad- My dad and I have had some wonderful conversations, usually at night after the boys are in bed and my sister is watching TV. We've talked more openly than we ever have and I appreciate that, as I'm sure he does too. I'm still very worried about him though. He's fallen several times in our home, usually late at night when he's got his prosthetic leg off and he's trying to use his crutches to go to the bathroom. It terrifies me that he's falling so much! So far, there's been no serious injury, but I find myself waking up every time I hear the click of his crutches and can't get back to sleep until I hear him get back in bed. If he falls this much at home, in his own apartment, I'm concerned we'll at some point have to get him into an assisted living facility and I know he doesn't want that. What if he falls and breaks his other leg, or his hips or something? He's on blood thinners due to his heart condition so when he falls he tends to bruise or bleed. Then he has scabs that bust open and blood trickles down his arm. We've spent a lot of time this week running in to get him cold wash clothes to stop the bleeding. It's horrible to see him in this condition! Oronzo sat me down in private this weekend and told me I have to stop trying to baby my dad. He said that only makes my dad feel worse. He told me I have to do my best to treat him like I've always treated him and let my dad ask for help if he needs it. I'm trying, I really am, but it's hard. We have managed to get my dad out to see some sights. He's really enjoying spending time with Snuggle Bug and I'm taking a lot of pictures. He's told me that he's really appreciated the change of scenery, so I'm glad he came.

5. Dealing with my sister and nephew- So, Oronzo and Genevieve tolerate each other. They've had run-ins in the past. They both can be stubborn and outspoken and their personalities have clashed. They've gotten over it, but it seems when they're together the air is filled with tension. I've been holding my breath, hoping their tempers wouldn't flare up at each other during this visit. So far nothing's happened. I have heard caustic, biting remarks about Oronzo coming from Genevieve this week, and I've basically had to tell her to muzzle it. And as much as I love my nephew, Brendan, I must confess that he's a bit much to deal with at times. He is frequently whining, crying, or throwing tantrums. He loves opening and slamming doors (not good when we're trying to keep indoor cats indoors) and somehow managed to totally bust off the door knob on the front door (we'll have to go buy a new one, it can't be repaired, and until we do that we're unable to get out the front door). He's rather loud at 5:30 a.m. when the rest of the household is still trying to sleep. It doesn't help when Genevieve runs around yelling, "No Brendan, no!" at him all day long. My older sister has told me that Brendan is much better behaved when his mother is not around. Isn't that just like a kid! On a positive note, Brendan seems to like to play with Snuggle Bug and the two boys are having a good time together. I'm thankful for that.

Well, I think that about wraps up my loose threads. My family returns home tomorrow afternoon and, I must admit, I'll breathe a sigh of relief when they're gone. I haven't gotten much sleep these past few days. It'll be good to have peace and quiet once more.

Part 6 of our adoption story will come soon.

7:11 AM

Sunday, May 14, 2006
Happy Mother's Day!
Today is Mother's Day. I love it! What a wonderful feeling to be recognized as a mother. Oronzo, Snuggle Bug, and I went to mass, then out for brunch. Snuggle Bug has been in rare form, flirting with little kids in the pew behind us and then with two little girls at the restaurant, flashing his million dollar smile that melts hearts everywhere. For some reason, he's been more snuggly today that usual, giving Oronzo and I frequent hugs. Now we're at home relaxing while Snuggle Bug naps. Tonight we're going to go to an outdoor pops concert and listen to great performers under the stars!

I was looking at Snuggle Bug closely today, thinking wistful thoughts about all the things I love about him. I've decided to make a list, just to reflect:

I guess it's safe to say that I love my child. I absolutely adore being a mother. It's exceeded my wildest expectations. God has blessed me more than words can express. I pray that we're fortunate enough to adopt a second child, sometime soon.

Oh, one last thought. My SIL has gone into pre-mature labor at 32 weeks. Her water has broken and the baby will probably be born today, instead of the due date of July 16th. The doctors are hopeful that all will be well, but your prayers for the safe arrival of my niece/nephew would be much appreciated!

Happy Mother's Day to all you mother's out there, including all the birth/first mother's out there. There's a special prayer in my heart for Giselle.

12:28 PM

Thursday, May 11, 2006
Kids shouldn't have to see their parents suffer.
As humans, we all suffer at one time or another. It's the natural course of life. But kids shouldn't have to see their parents suffer. It causes too much pain!

My dad, my sister (to be referred to as Genevieve) and my nephew (to be referred to as Brendan) arrived safely yesterday late morning. When I picked them up at the airport, Genevieve and my dad seemed chipper enough, despite many hours of traveling. Brendan looked tired and acted shy.

I drove them to my house, stopping along the way for a quick lunch. When we arrived at my house I gave them a tour and got them settled. It didn't take my dad long to need a smoke. I made sure he understood that there will be no smoking in the house. I put some dirt and rocks in one of my empty flower pots and asked him to use it as an ashtray. I didn't want cigarette butts littered all over my yard. He complied without protest.

We all sat outside and chatted for a bit, while Brendan played and Snuggle Bug napped. After a while, Genevieve and I left to go pick up the wheel chair that I was borrowing from a church. I was happy when it folded neatly into my trunk. I guess I was expecting a big bulky one, the kind that are used in hospitals. This one is lightweight and compact. Nice!

When we got back, we hung out at the house for a bit longer and watched Snuggle Bug and Brendan play nicely together. My dad seemed to really enjoy watching the kids and interacted with them as much as he could.

My sister decided that our guest room was big enough to accommodate my dad, Genevieve, and Brendan, so I set up the queen sized mattress and the pack-n-play in the spare room. Then we went to our local pizza joint for dinner. It's a few blocks from our house so we walked...well, we walked and pushed my dad in the wheelchair and he took his crutches with him. He seemed to be getting around quite well with his prosthetic leg.

It was while eating pizza that I noticed large purple bruises all over my dad's right arm. When I inquired about them, I learned that he'd fallen at Genevieve's house the night before they left for the airport and since he's on blood thinners bruises show up quickly. They looked nasty!

After dinner, we went home and put the little boys to bed. Both went down without too much fuss. Genevieve wanted to watch a TV show, Oronzo went into the office to continue working on his big project, and my dad went out to have a smoke. I decided to follow him out there to see if he was in the mood to talk.

I was surprised at how much he opened up to me when I asked a few probing questions. I learned quite a bit, most of it rather sad.

I learned that my dad was nervous about this trip. When I asked why he replied, "It's fear of the unknown. I didn't know if I could get myself packed and drive the three hours to Genevieve's house the night before our flight. In the airport I was afraid that I'd delay Genevieve and Brendan during the security checkpoint and make them miss their flight."

"You made it through all of that. You must feel pretty proud of your accomplishments, right?"

"I guess," he replied unconvincingly.

I asked my dad how long he could wear his prosthetic leg before it hurt him and he told me it varied. He admitted that he was hurting a bit at that moment, having worn the prosthetic since 5 a.m. that morning.

"Dad, you can take your leg off and keep it off around the house. We don't mind."

"I'm feeling a bit embarrassed around Oronzo," my dad confessed.

"I understand why you might feel that way, since you don't see him usually but once or twice a year, but please know that Oronzo is a compassionate man and only wants to help. He isn't at all uncomfortable with your prosthetic or lack there of." I'm sure I didn't convince him to see Oronzo in a different light but I didn't know how to do that. I guess it will take time for my dad to work through his feelings of embarrassment and feel more comfortable around my husband.

"Dad, how are you doing in your new apartment? Are you getting by okay?" I probed.

"I'm doing just fine," he sounded as if he was trying to convince himself as well as me. He eventually admitted, "I do feel a bit lonely at times, maybe even somewhat isolated. I may move closer to one of you kids at some point."

I assured my dad that if he chose to move to our state, I'd help him in any way that I could and that I'd love Snuggle Bug to have the opportunity to get to know his grandfather better. I seriously doubt he'd move this far from home, but who knows.

After a bit of silence, my dad surprised me by saying, "Sometimes I have a tendency to feel sorry for myself and I indulge in pity parties."

I didn't know what to say to that so I simply said, "We all do that sometimes." I encouraged him to call me whenever he was feeling down and told him I'd gladly listen. I was amazed that he was sharing as much as he was with me. He's usually not so expressive.

We chatted a bit more and I stressed to him how happy it made me to see him playing with Snuggle Bug. I told him that I regretted my grandfathers passing away before I had a chance to know them.

Then he said the oddest thing, "Unfortunately, I don't expect to live past another five years."

I was floored! Was he feeling so depressed that he was suicidal?

"Are you thinking of doing something crazy, Dad?"

"No. No, not that. I just know that the circulation in my right leg isn't good and there could come a point where the doctors will tell me either I get the other leg amputated or I die. I would choose to die. Loosing my left leg has been too hard. I can't go through that again."

"Do you regret pulling through your strokes last year?" I asked.

"No. I like to think there's a reason that I pulled through, that maybe I have a purpose. I just don't know what it is," he explained.

He went on to explain that he still has a heart condition and that being on blood thinners would eventually take its toll on his body. He just wasn't optimistic that he'd live much longer.

In this bizarre twist of the conversation, we went on to talk about what he wanted for his funeral.

"I want to be cremated and I want an Irish wake. I want everyone to have a good time and I don't want anyone going home sober," he insisted. "I've already made this clear to your older sister and now I'm telling you."

"Okay Dad, whatever you say. I'll make sure it happens that way. But you'd better be around for longer than five years because Snuggle Bug needs to know his grandfather."

"We'll see," was all he would say.

During the course of the hour long conversation, I watched in horrified amazement as my dad smoked at least four cigarettes, one after the other. Is he trying to kill himself by all his smoking? His doctors have told him how harmful smoking is to him, especially now. They strongly encouraged him to quit when he got out of the hospital, but after about two months he started back up again. I know cigarettes are powerfully addicting but after his near-death experience I was hoping he'd be motivated to quit. Apparently not.

The talk with my dad, although a bit strange and sad, was nice. I felt like we connected more than we have in a long time. He went in to bed and I eventually headed to bed myself.

At 2:30 a.m. I heard my dad hobbling to the bathroom with his crutches. He made it in okay but when he came out, he either lost his balance or there wasn't enough light to show him the way and I heard a loud crash! I leapt out of bed and rushed out into the hallway.

"Are you okay, dad?!"

"I'm fine," he said impatiently.

I could see that he was upright on his crutches again so I headed back to my room to give him privacy. Damned if he didn't fall again, once he was in the bedroom! This time Genevieve asked if he was okay, although she was careful not to offer help unless he asked for it. He didn't ask for it. He made his way back to his bed in silence.

I tried to go back to sleep, but my mind was racing and I just wanted to have a good cry. I hate seeing my proud father in so much physical and mental anguish! I feel helpless. He doesn't want our help. He doesn't want his kids to see his perceived weakness. He's a very proud man. I'm terrified that he'll fall and split his head open on our tile floors. I'm mortified for him because I know how embarrassing this all is to him. I wish I could take this pain away from him. I'm angry that he has to go through this and that we have to witness it and there's not a damned thing I can do to make it better. Trying to help only makes him feel worse.

I wish my dad could adjust and maintain more of his activeness. He told me himself that as a 61 year old man, he just doesn't have it in him to recover in that way. He misses tinkering under cars, being a part of the local rescue squad, and doing home improvement projects. I wish he didn't feel so resigned to a short life expectancy and a life filled with loneliness. I wish he'd let us help! Since his hospitialization, I try to put myself out there, from long distance, with phone calls and letters and I get little response back, although last night he told me that the phone calls are nice.

How do I deal with this? I've always known that one day my parents would get old and their health would fail. I knew it'd be hardest for my dad. I didn't expect this to happen so soon and I'm unprepared.

I feel like I have to accept that my dad has given up on life and I have to scramble to learn as much about him before he dies, so that I can pass that information on to Snuggle Bug. I don't know my father all that well and, up until now, it's felt safer that way. By keeping my emotional and physical distance, I've prevented him from having the power to hurt me with unkind words or actions.

I think we're going to loose him soon and I'm regretting that I've never really understood him, that we never understood each other. This pains me deeply. Perhaps his trip here has given me the chance for quiet time with him and the opportunity to try to express to him that, despite our past struggles, I do love him and when it’s his time to depart this earth he will be missed.
7:00 AM

Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Why do family visits stress me out?
I have family coming to visit me today. They're flying in from another state and staying for six days. I'm going to pick them up at the airport in about 2 hours. I have mixed feelings about this visit.

I'll bet you're wondering why I'm showing a picture of an amputee in physical therapy? Well, my dad is an amputee, as of last January. He had a series of strokes that landed him in ICU on a venilator and ultimately resulted in having to have a leg amputated. We honestly didn't think he'd survive and I flew back home with Snuggle Bug, who was less than a month old, fearing that my dad wouldn't live long enough to meet him!

This is part of my stress with the upcoming family visit. At first, it was going to be just my younger sister and her 2 year old son. I was excited about that! I have a guest room and they would've had some privacy. They could join Oronzo and Snuggle Bug for all their baby activities on the days that I have to work. I was looking forward to watching Snuggle Bug play with his cousin (only 8 months older) and to having some girl time with my sister after we got the boys to bed.

Then, my sister called and asked if our dad could join her for the visit as well. My dad and I aren't close. We don't see eye to eye on a lot of things. He had a mean streak as we kids grew up. He chain smokes (I hate it). He and my mom are in the process of divorcing and I'm not pleased with how things are being handled. So, as you can tell, there's a lot of baggage associated with my dad. Still, I do love him and I didn't have the heart to say no, especially when my sister (and later my dad) tells me how he'd really appreciate a break from his life. So, I say, "Sure. He can come too."

Now, I'm stressing. I only have one spare room with a spare bed and logic dictates that my dad should have it. I can't very well ask an amputee to sleep on an air mattress or the couch, now can I? So, now I have to figure out where to put my sister and her 2 year old son, without giving her our bedroom or displacing Snuggle Bug from his crib. Oronzo insists that we do not get turned out of our beds if we're having family staying. I can't put them in the office because Oronzo works from home in the evenings. I guess I'm going to see if having them share Snuggle Bug's nursery (without removing Snuggle Bug from his crib) will work. How is it that my 4 BR, 2 BA home suddenly seems small to me. It's not, it just seems that way.

Back to my concerns with my dad. He's doing great with his disability, he really is. He's got a pretty positive attitude about having to wear a prosthetic leg and walking with crutches or a walker and using a wheelchair when he gets too tired. But I truly didn't realize all that is involved with this disability until now. I have to find a shower chair for him. I'm trying to rent a wheel chair. I'm worried about the width of my doorways. I'm worried about Snuggle Bug leaving toys out that might trip him up (I've spent the last few days cleaning my house from top to bottom in preparation for the visit). We're going to be restricted in the activities that we do this week because he now has physical limitations that he didn't have before.

I'm saddened by the thought that, before his disability, he'd get a kick out of helping us with some of our remodeling projects but now he won't be able to do much more than offer suggestions. I know he hates being pitied, so I'll have to be careful not to act that way towards him. He just wants to be treated normally. My dad turns 61 this August but with all he's been through, he seems much older all of a sudden. He's not the vibrant, active man he once used to be. It'll be interesting to see what his daily life is like now and how much he's willing to let us help him. There's just a whole new dynamic to our relationship that I have yet to learn and this visit brings that to the forefront.

Well, time to get some work done before I head to the airport. Wish me luck with my family visit! I'm going to need it!
9:07 AM

Friday, May 05, 2006
It wasn't supposed to work this way! (Part 5)
I left off in Part 4 with us being escorted to a room on the maternity ward.

The room we were given was a private one. It had a single bed, it's own bathroom, a wooden rocking chair, and a big armchair. The view from the window wasn't very attractive, it overlooked a lower roof of the hospital, but we didn't care. We were going to be too busy looking at Snuggle Bug to bother with anything else.

After the nurse showed us where all of Snuggle Bug's baby supplies were stored, she left the room, closing the door behind her. This was our first true moment of privacy behind closed doors. The silence was wonderful! It had been so hectic and overwhelming up until now. I felt some of the stress melting away as we stood in the quiet room.

Oronozo and I walked softly over to the bassinet and peered down at Snuggle Bug. He was fast asleep, exhausted from his morning of being poked, prodded and tested after his arrival into the world. He looked so very tiny and sweet. Oronzo and I were exhausted too, so we decided to curl up on the one hospital bed and take a little nap ourselves. Our first family nap, it was heavenly!

The nap didn't last for long. All too soon we heard a knock on the door and a nurse arrived to prompt us to feed Snuggle Bug. I'd always heard that you weren't supposed to wake a sleeping baby, but we'd learned in our parenting class that with brand new babies you have to wake them for feedings every two or three hours.

I gingerly lifted Snuggle Bug out of his bassinet, unswaddled him to check his diaper, wrapped him back up and then sat down in the rocking chair with him. The nurse handed me a pre-made bottle of formula. I put the nipple to Snuggle Bugs lips and gently twirled it in until he had it firmly in his mouth. He immediately began to gag and I quickly pulled the nipple out. I gave him a few seconds and then tried again. He gagged again! His little face was screwed up in a grimace. The nurse and Oronzo were standing over me watching.

"Am I doing something wrong?" I asked the nurse anxiously.

"No, you're fine. Try again," she replied.

I tried again but got the same results. Snuggle Bug was gagging each time I tried to feed him. I got nervous and asked Oronzo if he wanted to try. He was glad to and he took Snuggle Bug as I got up from the rocking chair. He settled into it and cradled Snuggle Bug closely in the crook of his right arm. He slipped the bottle nipple into Snuggle Bug's mouth and gently wiggled it around inside. Snuggle Bug made no effort to suck or swallow any of the formula.

Oronzo tried for several minutes and finally the nurse told us not to worry and that we could try again in a bit. "It's not uncommon for newborns not to eat much during their first 24 hours. He'll get the hang of it," she assured us.

After the nurse left us alone again, I set Snuggle Bug on our bed and unwrapped him. I wanted the opportunity to examine him and learn more about him. He laid quietly on the bed and looked up at me with a serious expression as I slowly traced my fingers over his face, cheeks, nose, ears, tummy, arms, fingers, legs, and toes. I whispered to him, "You're so soft. We love you so much. We're so glad you're here." Oronzo sat down next to me and watched this exploration, occasionally talking to Snuggle Bug as well.

The phone rang and we were startled out of our reverie. Oronzo answered the phone and I could hear, "You're in room 800. Okay. Hang on, let me get a pen."

It was Giselle, letting us know what room she was in, as promised. Oronzo asked, "Can I get you anything? I can't imagine the food is any good there, can I order you something to be delivered? Okay, I'll call right now."

Oronzo got off the phone and let me know, "She's all settled in a room. She said she's doing pretty good. Quinn's with her, as well as her sister, Clara, and Ellen. I'm going to order them some pizza and bring it to her."

It took about 45 minutes for the pizza, breadsticks, and pop to arrive at the nurse's station. At that point, Snuggle Bug was fast asleep on my chest as we both lay in the hospital bed.

"You stay there, I'll go take everything to Giselle and see how she's doing," Oronzo suggested.

"Okay, that sounds good. Let her know that I'm thinking of her and that Snuggle Bug is doing just fine."

I'm not sure how long Oronzo was gone, because I dozed off to the sound of Snuggle Bug snoring lightly. His warm body was completely relaxed, his head rested against my heart. I've never experienced anything so calming and serene as falling asleep with a tiny babe resting so trustingly against me. So, this is what motherhood felt like. I loved it!

I awoke when I heard Oronzo entering the room. Snuggle Bug was still fast asleep. "How's she doing?" I asked.

"Good," Oronzo replied. "She's in a bit of pain but not as much as she expected. She and Quinn and the family definitely appreciated the pizza and the visit."

Oronozo approached the next topic with caution, "Her family asked if they could come over and see Snuggle Bug. I didn't feel like we had the right to deny them, so I told them it'd be okay. I asked them to call first because he might be sleeping."

My heart lurched and filled with dread. What did this mean? "Did it sound like Giselle or Quinn are having doubts?" I asked Oronzo with a feeling of sickness in the pit of my stomach.

"I didn't get that impression, but I can't tell for sure," he explained. "I think more of Giselle's family want to meet him, maybe say their goodbyes."

It didn't take long for the phone to ring, while I was in the midst of changing Snuggle Bug's diaper.

"Hello. Yes. He's actually getting his diaper changed right now. Sure, come on over." Oronzo hung up the phone and turned to me. "Clara's coming over with Giselle's sister to see Snuggle Bug."

"Okay," was all I could say as I picked up Snuggle Bug and cuddled him close. Tears clouded my eyes as I worried.

Clara arrived with Giselle's younger sister (to be referred to as "Chloe"). We'd never met Chloe before but I'd heard a lot about her from Giselle. I wasn't prepared for how beautiful she was! She was tall and slender with glossy dark hair pulled carelessly back into a pony tail. Her facial features were delicate, with high cheekbones and arched eyebrows. She was young, still in high school. I searched her face, looking for similarities between her and Giselle and even between her and Snuggle Bug. They seemed to share the same cute button nose. She smiled tentatively at me, not speaking.

Clara approached me and I mustered up a smile and placed Snuggle Bug into her eager arms. After asking, "How's the new mommy doing?" she gave all her attention to her grandson. Having her call me a 'new mommy' set me at ease a bit and I encouraged her to sit in the rocking chair.

Clara held Snuggle Bug and cooed at him for a bit while Chloe looked on. Then she asked if Chloe would like to hold him. Chloe stepped closer and took him from Clara. I watched as she carefully held him in her arms, doing a great job of supporting his head. As she gazed down at him a bright smile spread across her face. "He's beautiful," she whispered, her blue eyes shining brightly with tenderness.

"Do you mind if I take some pictures of the two of you?" Oronzo asked. Clara and Chloe were delighted with that idea and Oronzo snapped several pictures. "I'll put these on a website for all of your family to view if you'd like. I'll email you the link."

"That would be great!" Clara told him with a grateful smile.

They didn't stay long and I was relieved at how kind they were to us. They were extremely respectful, taking care to refer to us more than once as Snuggle Bug's 'mommy' and 'daddy.'

Before leaving Clara asked, "My niece is here visiting Giselle. Would it be okay to bring her back later to see the baby?"

"Sure," I replied with strained cheerfulness. Although they were being kind and respectful, it was stressful for me to have them there. My mind told me that they deserved this chance to spend a little time with him, but my heart ached with a fear that the visits would be our undoing.

Clara came back with her niece and they spent time with Snuggle Bug. Later, Giselle's aunt came to meet him. And Clara came back one more time before visiting hours were over and brought a Polaroid camera with her. She took several pictures of Snuggle Bug. She explained, "I want Giselle to have a chance to see him, since she hasn't visited, although she may want to see him before she's discharged from the hospital the day after tomorrow."

I was gripped with terror! It seemed to me as though Clara was putting pressure on Giselle to see her baby and spend time with him. Giselle had told me before his birth that Clara was having a tough time with Giselle's decision to place Snuggle Bug for adoption.

I know, I know. Giselle had every right to see her baby and spend time with him. She even had every right to change her mind and there's nothing we could've done about that. I totally accepted that. But the thought of Giselle being pressured by her mother to change her mind made me feel sick to my stomach.

We didn't know how to respond to Clara. Oronzo simply stated, "If Giselle or Quinn decide they want to spend time with Snuggle Bug, have them call us so we can make sure to be here."

After she left, I began to cry. I couldn't keep the fear and anguish in any longer. Having Giselle's family in and out most of the day and not being able to get Snuggle Bug to drink much at all was just too overwhelming. I sat on the bed, holding Snuggle Bug close and cried. Thank goodness we'd stuck to our guns about insisting that none of our family be present during our time in the hospital. I don't think I could've handled that on top of everything else!

Oronzo comforted me the best that he could, assuring me that it would all be okay. Eventually I collected myself and calmed down. At least visiting hours were over and I didn't have to worry about any more phone calls for the night. Oronzo and I took turns holding Snuggle Bug and walking him back and forth in the small room. He was so calm and rarely fussed at all.

We slept fitfully that night, Oronzo in the armchair, me in the bed, and Snuggle Bug in his bassinet ( I wanted to have him sleeping on me again, but I was afraid of accidentally rolling over on him as we slept). Snuggle Bug woke up a few times and we tried to feed him, with no success. He was still gagging or spitting out the formula. I felt like such a failure! What a terrible mother I'm going to be if I can't even get my baby to drink a bottle.

Nurses came in and out a few times throughout the night and at one point one began to wheel his bassinet out of the room. I reached out and grabbed the bassinet, asking frantically, "Where are you taking him!"

"Sorry. I thought you were asleep. We're just taking him into the nursery to run some tests. He has to have his hearing checked. I'll bring him right back," the nurse assured me.

I laid back down and tossed and turned, while Oronzo snored loudly in the chair beside me. Eventually they brought Snuggle Bug back. The nurse told me that he'd passed the test in his right ear but not the left. The fear must've shown on my face because she told me, "It's not unusual for newborns to fail their hearing test the first time. We'll try again tomorrow and then he should be tested again in a month.

The next morning we were up early with Snuggle Bug, trying to get him to eat. It still wasn't working. I called a nurse in and expressed my concern, "He still not eating, what am I doing wrong? He's got to get something in him soon, doesn't he?"

It was then that the nurse informed us that they had put a temporary I.V. in Snuggle Bug, while he was in the nursery in the wee hours of the morning, because he was getting dehydrated and needed fluids. I felt horrible! Oronzo and I had been trying to do our best to get him to drink some of his bottle but it wasn't working. He hadn't had a wet diaper yet, only black tar filled ones.

It was decided that the one of the Lactation Specialists would be sent in to see what she could do to help. I was relieved to hear that something was being done. Obviously we didn't know what we were doing, I wanted a professional to help!

Daisy, the Lactation Specialist, arrived as we were picking at our own breakfast. She asked to watch us try to feed Snuggle Bug so Oronzo sat in the rocking chair and tried to feed him with no success.

"This little guy doesn't understand the whole sucking and swallowing thing yet," Daisy explained. She offered to show us some tricks and Oronzo willingly handed Snuggle Bug over to her. Here's what she taught us:

We were ecstatic as we watched Daisy get Snuggle Bug to drink some formula. She got about an ounce in him, which was more than we had done! She encouraged us to try the techniques she had shown us and I actually managed to get him to drink a bit as well. I could've kissed Daisy! As we chatted with her, we learned that she's been a lactation specialist for 42 years, so she's helped feed a lot of babies. She was reassuring and encouraging with us and promised to come back to help again for his next feeding. Alleluia!

Snuggle Bug's second day of life was blissfully uneventful, for the most part. We spent all our time in the hospital room, bonding with him. He was only taken from us once that day, to have another hearing test done. He passed it this second time!

I'm forever grateful for the private time we had with him. Our love for Snuggle Bug blossomed and the love and tenderness that Oronzo and I felt for each other sharpened and seemed more intense. It was like our marriage was entering a new dimension, a higher level. It's hard to describe. I experienced such feelings of joy as I watched Oronzo gently holding this tiny mite, rocking him and whispering to him softly, raining kisses on his small head and face, changing his diaper with such confidence. I always knew Oronzo was going to be an excellent father but seeing him in action was utterly amazing!

I did my best to shove down my anxieties about Giselle's mother and was surprised when there were no visits from them throughout the day. Daisy came back to help us with his feedings and things were getting better in that area. Other than the struggles with the feeding, Snuggle Bug slept a lot and was content to gaze at us calmly as we interacted with him when he was awake. We expected him to cry more but unless he was hungry or wet, he really didn't fuss.

We were in our own private little world, a loving cocoon. Occasionally we were disrupted by a nurse checking in, but all was well, until the phone rang at about 5 p.m.

It was Giselle, wanting to talk.

Okay, I think that's enough for now. I'll continue on with Part 6 of our adoption journey soon.

To continue reading about our first adoption journey, see Part 6.

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6:57 AM

Thursday, May 04, 2006
How did this happen?!
Just for fun, I did a Google search and found this. How did that happen?! I'm listed as 1 of 4,180,000. Pretty cool! I love Google. I use it for all my searches. And Google Earth is amazing!

I'm hoping to find time to continue on with It wasn't supposed to work this way! (Part 5) sometime today. It probaby won't be until after I finish catching up on the engrossing blog of this Crazy Hip Blog Mama. She was voted Mother of the Week and I can see why. I've started with her first blog post and worked up through November 2005 and I'm enthralled!

Do you ever find yourself doing that, discovering a blogger and reading ALL their blog entries to learn all about them? I hope I'm not the only one. I'm turning into a blog junkie, but it's oh so fun! It's diary reading at it's best and I've always loved reading diaries!
9:20 AM

Wednesday, May 03, 2006
What would you pay for an afternoon of pleasure?
View from atop Ferris wheel

Oronzo and I decided to take Snuggle Bug to the fair last weekend. He's never been to the fair before and we thought he'd enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells. I can't remember the last time I've been to a fair, so I must not have gone since I was a kid myself.

Can I just say, I was shocked at how expensive everything was! I started taking mental notes of prices as I walked through the fairgrounds. Here's a running list of what I can remember:

Now, we didn't actually purchase all this food (we were smart and ate lunch before heading to the fair, so all we bought was 2 ice cream cones), I just wanted to list some of what I saw to give you an idea of how outrageous these prices were! Even so, we managed to spend $60 when all was said and done. $60 for about 2 1/2 hours of pleasure. Is that steep? It seems so to me. Maybe that's because this is the first time in my life that I was part of the parent team paying for the fair. No wonder my parents weren't able to take all five of us kids out for these types of entertainment very often!

I guess the important thing is that Snuggle Bug had a great time. We had him in his stroller and he sat up straight and strained forward the whole time, looking every which way. He enjoyed riding on the merry-go-round. He didn't seem to mind sitting on Oronzo's lap as the three of us took a turn on the Ferris wheel. Apparently he's not afraid of heights because he was craning his neck to peer out over the edge of the seat to look down over the fair as the Ferris wheel went round and round. He really enjoyed petting pigs and sheep, as they were awaiting their turn to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. He wanted to pet the huge Clydesdale horses that were pulling around a bright red wagon (petting was a no, no). And he really enjoyed making a sticky mess as he shared my ice cream cone.

I've learned a valuable lesson as a first time parent, apparently I'm willing to pay quite a bit for an afternoon of pleasure for my child!

11:19 AM

Name: Overwhelmed

My complete profile

It wasn't supposed to work this way...Parts 1 through 10

(the story of the private, domestic adoption of our son)

(Part 1)
(Part 2)
(Part 3)
(Part 4)
(Part 5)
(Part 6)
(Part 7)
(Part 8)
(Part 9)
(Part 10- Adoption Finalization)

Fostering isn't for the faint of heart!

(our journey to adopt again through foster-to-adopt, the good, the bad, & everything in between)

Adoption #2- considering the State
More Adoption #2 thoughts
Adoption #2- Back to considering the State
Adoption #2- The Paperwork (Round 1)
Adoption #2- The Paperwork (Round 2)
Family Foster Home Licensing Prep Checklist
Adoption #2- Long overdue update
PS-MAPP class homework assignment
Our preliminary home inspection went well!
Adoption #2: Licensing update
Adoption #2- Foster Facts
Adoption #2: I love it when things go my way!
Adoption #2- The home inspection
Adoption #2- We failed our home inspection!
Adoption #2- We passed the follow-up home inspection!
Adoption #2- Still waiting
Adoption #2- We're getting closer
Adoption #2- An update & a lead
Adoption #2- The lead that didn't pan out.
Adoption #2- We're licensed!
Adoption #2- We have a tiny baby here!
Adoption #2- Update on this precious little girl.
Adoption #2- Quick update on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- Baby Bug is staying longer!
Adoption #2- Baby Bug is growing!
Adoption #2- Overdue update on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- The latest on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- Shopping spree for Baby Bug
Being a Foster Parent Does Not Make Me A Saint
Adoption #2- Another Placement Call!
Adoption #2- Placement Meeting- UPDATED!
Adoption #2- We have Boo at our home!
Adoption #2- Meeting Boo
Adoption #2- I'm angry on Boo's behalf!
Adoption #2- A Birthday Party for Boo
Adjusting to three 3 and under!
Stressful moments in fostering.
Adoption #2- Update on our foster daughters
CPS Workers Jerking Our Chain!
It's getting much worse!
Fostering: Update on Baby Bug
Fostering: Update on Boo
The effects of fostering on Snuggle Bug
The time is drawing near to let go of Baby Bug.
Good conversation with Baby Bug's dad.
Boo has a Permanency hearing coming soon!
My heart is breaking!
Bittersweet news about Baby Bug.
Next Friday is going to be tough.
Packing up Baby Bug's belongings
It's done- Baby Bug is gone.
Working on finding peace, one day at a time.
Referral to the Early Intervention Program
Baby Bug update
Home Inspection for re-licensing
Parole granted for Boo's bio mom
Baby Bug is turning 1 year old soon.
Day 2 of Boo's permanency hearing
A prayer answered today!
Attending Baby Bug's 1st birthday party
Foster news
Good news for Boo's case
Boo's bio family visits
Termination Trial date set!
A new caseworker for Boo
I've been asked to testify in court.
Court hearing for "John Doe"
Contested termination trial begins tomorrow afternoon
Boo's adoption has been finalized!

Beautiful adoption video
Date Night Bliss
Family Rules and Values
In the swing of school
It's time for the kiddos to head back to school a...
Flying home for a nice, long visit!
Baby fix!
Easing back into blogging
A shocking phone call
1 year anniversary for Boo

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