Saturday, October 30, 2010

Warrior Dash

A while back our friends invited us to run the Warrior Dash with them.  It is a 5k with a bunch of obstacles along the way.  We climbed over cars and haybales, scaled cargo nets, crawled through a tunnel, went down a soapy slip-n'-slide, jumped over fire, and slogged through mud.  It was a perfect way to spend a Saturday. 

Here is Paul pre-race staring down the fire and the mud.

Jason (the Ironman), Ben (in the warrior hat) and Jeff running down the final stretch.  Paul stayed with me so we came in a little later.

Paul about to leap over the final set of flames with me hot on his tail.

Graceful, I know.  I look huge in this photo, but I'm going to say it is just because my shirt was waterlogged and flapping around.  I'm loving Paul's huge smile.

See Paul run.  Run, Paul, run.

 Amy crawling through the mud.  It was COLD.


Paul doesn't look so comfortable walking around post-race.

Lots of people dressed in costume.  I wish we had.  Here are the ghostbusters.

After going through the Warrior Wash (a fire hose).

This penguin team was hilarious.

A tiny warrior.

Not so tiny warriors.

Eating a warrior meal - Turkey legs and pulled pork sandwiches.

After we finished the race, we went home and cleaned up, then headed over to the ward Trunk-or-Treat.  There was an old woman from Germany there and she came over and said how much she loved our costumes and talked with us for a long time.  It was really cute.

Our friend Ginny with her baby Max.

One of the kids from our Primary class.  His whole family dressed as Alice In Wonderland characters.

The little kids were adorable in their costumes.  I had so much fun passing out candy.  

Somebody was giving out these freaky colored vampire teeth and all the kids were going around wearing them.  It was hilarious.

Candy anyone?  We took about 8 apples just because we had them at home and thought they looked cute in our candy bucket, and surprisingly enough they were a huge hit (and most everybody there knew us we figure so it's not so bad that we gave out apples).

Two of our favorite little girls from our former ward.  The older one was also in our primary class (she's the one whose foot accidentally got jammed in the door and required stitches).

This little monkey cleaned all the Milk Duds out of our candy supply.  It was hilarious to watch him picking through to find the little yellow boxes.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Adoption Questionnaire

We have been moving along with the adoption process - at least as much as we can at this point.  Right now it is actually kind of nice because it feels like there is so much to do.  I would much rather have things I can be active about rather than sit around and wait for something to happen, which I am already not looking forward to.

So far we have been gathering documents to prove that we were born, that we are married, that we pay taxes, etc.  All of those go into a little file to be sent to our caseworker.  We have also both had our physicals, which unfortunately included a ridiculous number of shots in both arms to vaccinate us against whooping cough and the flue, check for tuberculosis, draw blood for analysis (turns out I need to lay off sugar - big surprise), and boost previous vaccinations like tetanus.  I got all those shots in one fell swoop and didn't even pass out, which is a bigger accomplishment than you might think since I have actually fainted from shots in the past. 

Thursday morning I had my individual interview with our caseworker.  She's really nice and we bonded over a shared love of Italy and its many beautiful cities.  The interview was super basic - mostly a getting to know you session that meets a state requirement that the caseworker meet with the potential parent "X" number of times.  We went over a lot of questions that I had already answered as part of the adoption questionnaire that Paul and I each have to fill out online.  Because I had no idea how many or what kind of questions would be asked of us, here are questions from the adoption questionnaire (sans answers):

Background Information
  • Describe your personality, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Describe your hopes, goals, and aspirations.
  • Describe your spouse's personality, strengths, and weaknesses.
Family of Origin
  • Describe your parents, including education, occupation, personality, interests, etc.
  • Explain your parent's method of discipline.
  • What is your present relationship with your parents and siblings?
  • Relate any special experiences or memories.
  • Share any traumatic events that have impacted your life.
  • List significant activities, group involvements, or accomplishments during your years of education.
  • What leisure activities do you share with your spouse and your family?
  • How do you express love and affection?
  • How do you feel about intimacy in your marriage?
  • What are the strengths and challenges of your marriage?
  • How do you resolve disagreements?  What do you do?  What does your spouse do?
  • If you have been divorced, describe your feelings surrounding your divorce.
  • Describe each child including education, personality, health, interests, strengths, talent, etc.
  • Describe how each child feels about adoption.
General Health
  • Describe health issues you have.  List current medications and any hospitalizations.
  • How do you feel about your infertility?
  • Explain counseling you have received.
  • Have you ever experienced any form of addiction? (i.e., substance, sexual, etc.)
  • List health issues in your extended family.
Employment and Finances
  • Describe your education, current employment, and career goals.
  • How do you handle family finances and major purchases?
  • Describe major financial difficulties you may have experienced.  How did you resolve those difficulties?
Church and Community
  • List past and present church callings.
  • List past and present involvement with community organizations.
Parenting Methods and Skills
  • Describe your methods to teach and discipline children.
  • Describe your parenting experience.
  • What is your plan for childcare?
Experiences and Feelings Regarding Adoption
  • What do you know about adoption?
  • How do you think adopting a child will change your life?
  • What does your extended family think about your adoption plans?
  • How do you plan to discuss adoption with your children?
  • How would you feel if your child wanted to meet his or her birth parents?
Experiences and Feelings Regarding Birth Parents
  • What do you know about birth parents?
  • Describe your feelings about birth parents.
  • How do you feel about meeting the birth parents and exchanging gifts, letters and pictures?
  • Can you love and be loved by a child born to someone else?
House, Neighborhood and Community
  • Provide a physical description of your house.
  • List possible hazards in your home and how you manage them for safety (e.g. firearms, medication, etc.)
  • Describe your neighborhood including proximity to other children and access to schools, parks, and other community facilities.
Other Information
  • Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor, felony, child abuse or neglect?
  • Please make additional comments that would help us better know your family.
That is the entire questionnaire.  Pretty long, huh?  Answering all of those questions took a long time too, but it was actually a good exercise to go through and put those responses down in words. 

There wasn't a limit to the number of characters that could go into each response and I may have gotten a little carried away on some of them.  I wrote about the traumatic experience of going to high school in North Platte, Nebraska and how that affected my life.  I wrote about my mom staying up with me late at night all summer long doing puzzles or working on scrapbooks.  I told the story about the time when I scraped my knee so badly as a five-year-old and how when my brothers came running back with my dad he scooped me up, carried me home, and laid me on the kitchen table while I screamed about all the blood and how he turned to my brothers and said "Boys, this is bad.  Looks like we might have to amputate.  You had better get the saw." I still have a four inch scar on my right knee from that that I see every time I look at that leg and so I think about that experience a lot.  If that is not a special experience, I don't know what is.

Next steps for us include getting the 12 hours of required parenting education completed, getting fingerprinted, and getting certified in adult, child, and infant CPR and first aid.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monster Mash & Birthday Bash at the House of Nash

This past Saturday we threw a Halloween party at our house.  We were so glad that pretty much everybody dressed up.  There were lots of little kids and babies.  We had mermaids and witches and tigers and wizards.

Oh yeah, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

 Isn't this little girl the cutest thing ever? 

A witch, a mermaid, Gretel, and Juno.

Juno and Paulie Bleeker.

I made Paul's lederhosen so that we could be Hansel & Gretel. 

Decorations in the backyard.

Our dentist with his family.  He is actually really fun to hang out when I am not sitting in the dentist's chair.

Black Forest cake - my favorite.  Those are cherries on top.

The entertainment consisted of Pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey for the kids and the Giants game for the adults.  Even I watched baseball for a little bit.

It was such a fun party and we enjoyed having everybody over.  Time to start working on our costumes for next year I guess.

Oh yeah, and turns out I (Amy) have reached my limit posting photos through Blogger, so I am now using Paul's account so that I can keep putting pictures into the blogposts.  Has anybody else run into that problem before?  Do you know a better solution?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Book Review

So, photos from our Yosemite vacation are coming - hopefully soon - but I wanted to do a quick post about a book I just finished.  It has been freaking me out in thirty minute increments as I listen to it while driving to and from work.  The book is called "Life As We Knew It" and it is by Susan Beth Pfeffer. 

Basically it is a story about a 16 year old girl (Miranda), her two brothers and their mom and what happens to them after an asteroid hits the moon which knocks it closer to the earth.  The moon's closer distance affects tides and weather and before they know it everybody is storming grocery stores trying to stock up on food, electricity stops working, and diseases like West Nile Virus start hitting the human race reallly hard.  The story is told through Miranda's journal entries. 

The main problem with this book is that it is really affecting my intentions to stick to a list or a budget when I go to the store.  Instead, I end up throwing this and that into the cart and thinking "I must stock up, I must stock up" like a mantra repeated over and over in my head. 

I even told Paul that I was okay with him buying a gun.  And I am so not okay with that.  But that is how much this book freaked me out.  I did the same thing when I read "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy (which I do not recommend).  I just started the second book in this series - "The Dead and the Gone" which is the story of a kid in New York City and his experiences going through the same event but in a different location.  I just finished listening to the first few days of panic all over again and found myself wandering through Target tonight telling myself that our cupboards are full and our fridge is full and we don't need anything.  It was sort of traumatic.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I am not a very "keep-it-to-myself" kind of person when it comes to sharing things about my life.  Some people are very private and reserved about everything, which is cool - maybe even admirable - but I am not one of them.  But about this one thing I have held back for a long, long time. 

See, it is hard for me to talk about adoption.  Even with my family, it is not a natural, easy discussion.  I think it is because no one in my family has much experience with it.  And so our conversations about adoption feel awkward and clouded with lack of information and uncertainty about what the future holds and what it really means to adopt a child.  I think that everyone worries about what it will be like.  I don't really have those worries myself - I already love our as-yet-non-existent children so much that sometimes it hurts and I just can't wait to meet them and I feel really awed and slightly strange admitting that on our blog but it is true - but I understand why others might have those worries. I think that because I have held back on really sharing my thoughts and feelings about adoption in the way I would share my thoughts and feelings about any other topic, if there is such a taboo around the topic of adoption then it is my fault and I want to break that barrier now. 

So here goes - the news is that we are actively preparing to adopt a child.  Before you get too excited, you should know that this process is going to be long.  As in, it may be three more years before we actually have a kid.  But I'm really excited and I feel like I should let that excitement take me as far along in the adoption process as it can so that when we are faced with months and possibly years of waiting for a birth mother to choose us that I can draw upon this time in the adoption process when I am so hopeful despite the scariness of uncertainty about what our path to parenthood will be like. 

This is something that Paul and I have been planning for a long, long time.  I have known since I was 15 that I wouldn't be able to get pregnant.  I told Paul within two weeks of dating after I got home from my mission that I couldn't have children.  We knew before we got married that we would be adopting.  We discussed timing during law school, especially toward the end when we knew what our job situations would be like.  And all this year, but especially this summer, adoption has weighed heavily on my mind.  The plan really was to wait until January 2011 and then get started.  But back in August, I just knew that we shouldn't wait any longer.  So I called LDS family services and got in touch with our case worker (her name is Heather).  She explained that in California, it typically takes about 6 months to get qualified to adopt.  So we've actually been moving forward with our adoption plans for a couple of months now and we are hoping to be qualified sometime early next year - maybe February or March. 

My guess is that most of you will have a lot of questions for us about this process, so I plan to share a lot of what is required of us to adopt and what the process of adoption is like.  We are using LDS family services, so the process will be specific to them.  The first thing Heather did was to send us three different forms requiring our signatures to get the process rolling.  One was a general authorization type form.  The other two were reference forms - one where we were asked to list our bishop's contact information and one where we were asked to list four non-family references with their contact information.  We filled those out and sent them back to Heather the next day.  Then Heather mailed forms to all of these people to fill out with questions about us that asked things like "What are Paul and Amy's strengths and weaknesses?" or "From your perspective, please describe Paul and Amy's relationship."  Once Heather had all the forms back (it took two months because our bishop was out of town and then Heather was out of town, etc., which has already pushed the approval process out longer than the 6 months Heather originally told me), then Heather called us to set up our first actual discussion about adoption and to give us the real paperwork.

We met with Heather this past Monday for about 45 minutes at her office.  Basically she just explained the process that we will be going through - filling out paperwork, getting physicals, getting CPR certified for infant, child, and adult CPR, writing a letter to birth parents, collecting photos of ourselves, getting fingerprinted, attending parenting education classes and child abuse education classes, etc.  The main reason it takes so long to get approved in California (compared to other states where the process is less arduous) is that in California we actually first have to become certified foster parents so there are all these extra requirements like the child abuse education classes.  The fingerprinting takes the longest though, according to Heather, because it has to work its way through the machinery of the State. 

So, that is pretty much where we are at:  we have all the information and now we just have to start gathering documents and checking things off our list.  I imagine we will be mostly done with the work we need to do by Christmas and then will just be waiting for our fingerprints to be approved through the state.

I am not going to lie - I have already had some feelings of anger and frustration about this process, not about adoption itself or anything, but more about the questions that are being asked of us and of our friends.  As wonderful as our friends who agreed to be references are, it was frankly embarassing to feel like we had to get permission to have a kid when all of them could just do it on their own without talking to anybody about it first.  I understand and am grateful that adoption agencies want to make sure they aren't getting wackos trying to adopt, but I guess it was just the first reality-check for me that this process, while wonderful, probably isn't going to be all fun and happy and perky all the time. 

Well, there is a LOT more I have to say about all this and I am still trying to gather my thoughts and all, but we have a couple days off work and Paul and I are literally about to head out the door to drive to Yosemite.  Quickly though, I just wanted to tell everybody who reads our blog that we really appreciate your friendship and we will be asking for your help as we go through this journey.  At some point as we get closer to being approved, we will ask that you help us find our child by talking to people in your ward about listening for an unwed mother who might be trying to decide what to do about the child that she is carrying.  We might ask you to talk to your own moms and ask them to talk to their friends about it (the mom network is one of the best ways that adoptions go through apparently).  We will probably start an adoption blog and provide a button that you can add to your own blog.  We may even do pass-along cards with our information that we will send to you to post in your church buildings or wherever (apparently that is a totally normal thing that a lot of adoptive couples do).  But for right now, your love and prayers and support are enough. 

In the meantime, here is a link to an amazing blog by a family that adopted their two children.  Her post sums up a lot of what I have been thinking and feeling and have worried about or hoped for as Paul and I have been preparing for this. 

We love you guys.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


October is my favorite month.  And coincidentally it is my birthday month!  I think I've mentioned before on here that Paul and I celebrate birthday months, not just birthdays.  What this basically means is that we do whatever we would normally do in any other month, only we say that we are doing it as part of a month-long birthday celebration.  Case-in-point:  Today we went and bought a lemon tree to plant in the backyard.  Therefore, it is my birthday tree.  Awesome, right?  Go ahead, try celebrating your birthday for an entire month and report back on how much you love it.

We removed a dead lemon tree from this spot a couple weeks ago.  Today I helped Paul dig a hole for our new lemon tree.  It was hard work, but I just imagined myself as Zoolander posing with the pick-axe and went to town on the hard earth. 

Once the hole was deep enough and wide enough, we mixed potting soil with the existing dirt and planted our tree.  We went with a Lisbon lemon tree which is more resistant to extremes in temperatures (unlikely in the Bay Area, but you never know) and is supposed to produce the kind of lemons that you buy in the grocery store.  If you look closely, you will see that our tree actually already has two little lemons on it. 
Once the tree was settled into its new little home beside our fence, we gave it a nice long drink.  Now we have to wait and see whether it will survive.  I don't think there is any reason why it should not thrive, but since neither Paul nor I have done much gardening before we're just hoping that one of us has a green thumb. 

We have lots of fun things planned for the rest of my birthday month, including a trip to Yosemite, a 30th birthday party/open house, a 5k known as a "Warrior Dash" where we will be jumping over burning logs, climbing haybales and cargo nets, and crawling under barbed wire through mud, and culminating in the traditional end-of-birthday-month-costume-and-sugar-fest, known to the rest of the world as Halloween. 

Life is good when you are a libra.