Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Adoption Media Blitz 2013

With the month of L.O.V.E. coming up I have been thinking that there is nothing that we would love more than to have another little one come join our family.  And I am once again feeling motivated to do something toward making an adoption happen, rather than just sitting and waiting for an email to show up in my inbox.  January started off fairly glum for me but my nature is predominantly a happy one, thank goodness, and I am feeling hopeful and purposeful and myself again.  And even though I have some trepidation about "putting us out there" yet again instead of taking a more laid-back approach to being "found" by a birthmom, I don't want to put off expanding our family since 1. Paul and I would love to have another baby, and 2. we think Clara will be a wonderful big sister. 

Our adoption profile just reached 1,000 hits (since last May when it went live after Clara's first birthday) this past week but it only gets a few hits each day on most days.  So we think it might be time for another adoption media blitz since our last one was way back in June 2012 when we asked friends and family to share our adoption info via social media outlets.  That was super successful in terms of boosting views to our profile, which is the most likely way of getting ourselves noticed by potential birthparents.  So if you are reading this, will you please considering doing a quick Facebook status update sharing either the link to our adoption profile:  AND/OR the link to our adoption blog:  And also, if you are on Pinterest, please consider clicking through to our adoption blog and "pinning" it?  You just never know who might see those links. 

I hope this doesn't come off sounding desperate, which we aren't, but rather, as proactive, which we are trying to be.  We feel like there is a birthmom and a baby out there for us and we want to do what we can to find them.  And we SO appreciate your help with that!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Loving where we live

I don't mean this post to be braggy or anything since I know that other areas of the country are having some not-so-fun weather and air quality conditions lately, but we have spent the past couple of weekends enjoying the beaches and towns near where we live.  We went to Half Moon Bay and even though it was chilly we had fun walking along the beach and looking at the waves.  Then we had the most amazing clam chowder ever at Sam's Chowder House.  Seriously, come visit and we will take you there - the view looking out on the water as the sun is setting is stunning and it is the best clam chowder in the whole world. 
We also spent a Saturday in Carmel-by-the-Sea wandering through shops, stopping for lunch at a bakery and enjoying the phenomenal 67 degree weather at the beach just below the Pebble Beach golf course.  There is nothing quite like walking on a beautiful beach in January in perfect weather, although I thought that some people were taking it to excess by actually wearing bathing suits and getting in the water.  It wasn't that warm.  And any time we pull the camera out now Clara says "CHEESE!" and makes this face, even without our prompting.  It takes a few shots for her to relax and look more normal, but this picture was so funny that I wanted to include it.

This past week we actually had a couple of days of rain and I was sitting in the house with Clara totally at a loss for what to do since we had read every book, done every puzzle, played with every toy, etc. and we were both bored.  I was SO glad when it cleared up and we could go for a walk the next day and play at the park.  I swear I do not know how all the moms who are house-bound by snow and ice do it.  Hats off to you - for reals.

Yup, it doesn't get much better than this.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Quiet House

Things have been quiet around here lately.  Now that everyone is feeling better, Clara is sleeping through the nights again and that also helps her naps which had diminished to mere 45 minute stretches and are now back up to about 1 1/2 hour naps.  Clara has shown a noticeable increase in her interest and dexterity with puzzles, books, and art recently.  First though, a picture of her eating apples for a snack.  She is obsessed with apples and eats at least one a day - more if we will let her.  I slice them into eigths for her and she eats them like a slice of melon leaving the skin behind like you would a rind.  Every now and then (maybe 1 in 6 apple slices) she will eat the skin too.  Also, I am loving her long, high ponytail in this picture.

While she naps, or in the evenings after Clara goes to sleep, I have been quilting.  I enjoy the process of choosing fabrics and piecing blocks together - it is so orderly and I love getting precise corners or angles to line up perfectly.  I checked out a book from the library called "The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt" which is a collection of letters of advice from farm wives in the 1920's in response to a magazine's query for short essays describing whether actual farm wives would encourage their daughters to also marry farmers.  I guess the magazine received something like 7,000 responses and ended up publishing some of the best ones and creating 111 quilt blocks inspired by the different letters with names like "churn dash" or "buzzard's roost" or "spool".  This book is a collection of those letters along with the 111 quilt blocks and I have been making my favorite blocks from the book and enjoying reading pastoral descriptions of farm life and the taste of fresh butter and eggs and bread.  I also am enjoying this quilt because it is super scrap friendly and I still have scraps left over from past projects that I am trying to use. 

The biggest problem with the book is that there is very little instruction (actually, none really) on how to put the blocks together other than to print off templates for the blocks.  But templates are kind of a difficult way to piece a quilt top because sewing triangles is MUCH harder than sewing squares because the fabric, which is cut on a bias, ends up stretching and comlicating things.  I prefer sewing squares on a diagonal, then snipping off the excess of one side of the square and pressing the seam open to get a perfectly sewed and perfectly flat triangle every time.  But that means that I have to draft my own blocks using graph paper and calculate the correct fabric measurements on my own.  I've been enjoying this process too because it feels like math puzzles from junior high or something.  Here is a picture of one of my diagrams and a few of my completed blocks.  I've made about 20 6-inch blocks so far and will probably make another 25-30 blocks or so to have enough for the size of the quilt I want.  I don't plan on making all 111 blocks because that would make a really big quilt.

I've tried getting some pics of Clara with our 2013 calendar for a Miss January post but so far she hasn't been very cooperative (I was trying back when she wasn't feeling her best so I might need to just try again).  This was the best that I got and she was sort of covering up the word "January". 

Oh, and one last bit of randomness - Clara has been obsessed with this necklace that came with the dirndl that Paul bought for me when we were living in Germany.  It is such a weird piece of jewelry but I have always kept it because it reminds me of our time in Frankfurt and it actually really does go well with my dirndl when I have worn it for a Halloween costume in the past.  Anyway, Clara found it and has claimed it for herself.  She loves wearing it around all day and will bring it to me and wait patiently for me to clasp it around her neck.  Love that girl.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Conversations with strangers

Yesterday I read a wonderful book called "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho.  It was originally published in Brazil in 1988 and then translated into english in 1993 so it isn't a new book or anything and maybe some people I know have read it before but I had never heard of it until I saw it on one of those "top books everybody must read" lists that get floated around and are never the same and just the title sounded intriguing. 

It was life-changing.  I almost feel disingenuous making that claim having turned the last page just yesterday after reading the whole thing in one sitting (it is only about 160+ pages) but I completely mean it.  It was beautiful and thought-provoking and I found myself doing some serious soul-searching while I was reading it and in the time since.  To put it succinctly, "The Alchemist" is about a shepherd boy from Andalusia who has a dream that there is a treasure buried at the base of the Egyptian pyramids and after some encounters with strangers he sets off to find his treasure.  Along the way there are numerous omens that he interprets and experiences that he learns from in choosing the path his life with take. 

Anyway, over the past two days I have had random encounters with complete strangers that make me wonder if it is more than just a coincidence that I should have chosen this book to pick up to read from the library just yesterday afternoon.  Not that I am calling these conversations "omens" and not that I am treating them with superstition, but I certainly feel like there has to be some lesson to be learned from these conversations and maybe by my writing this blogpost I will be better able to articulate some of what has been running through my mind. 

The first stranger was a man who was probably in his mid-50's who I met at a deserted activity center near our home called "The Jungle".  It is one of those places with ballpits and plastic tubes and slides and cargo nets for climbing on that are stacked three stories high.  Tuesdays are half-price and I have only been once before when it was packed but for some reason the only people there yesterday were this man and his 2-year old daughter and me and Clara.  While we watched the kids run around and play in the balls and on the equipment, this man and I started talking about raising little girls and he told me about how he raised two sons from a previous marriage and that he had remarried and his new wife is 17 years his junior and so they had this little girl together.  He explained that he retired last year and stays home with their little girl while his wife works.  Then he started asking me whether I stay home with Clara and if she is our only child and whether we would like to have more and I ended up mentioning adoption (no, I didn't go into the whole saga of 2012 but I did mention that we were hoping to adopt again, thinking all the while that maybe I should give him the pass-along card I had in my wallet).

He turned to me and started telling me about how his second son was adopted and what that experience was like for him holding him for the first time and knowing that even though the little boy wasn't biologically related to him that he was without doubt his child.  The boy is now 15 years old and I could still hear the emotion in the stranger's voice as he related that experience to me.  It left me feeling humbled and grateful and thoughtful.  (And gave me the confidence I needed to give him our pass-along card.) 

Then this morning I was at a bi-monthly playgroup held at the Calvary Baptist church in Los Gatos where there were about 100-150 moms/nannies/grandparents there with probably double that number of kids 5 and under and I sat down with Clara at a snack table so that she could have some water and crackers when the only other woman at the table (a mom about my age I would guess, with a 3-year old little boy) looked at me with a smile and then said, nodding to the gymnasium at large and looking grateful to have somebody to confess this too, "Is it just me or is every woman in this room pregnant?"  I was a little taken aback by her question since there was none of the preliminary chatting about each other's kids and their ages or anything but I had noticed it too and I think that she was feeling some relief that I was clearly not expecting and she had someone to have this conversation with.  I sort of demurred but she went right on and explained to me that she and her husband have been trying to have a second child but have had difficulty getting pregnant again. 

I wasn't quite sure how to respond but didn't even get the chance to because just then another woman with neon pink highlights in her pixie haircut joined us sporting a baby bump that indicated imminent arrival of a newborn and her three-year old daughter.  The two women apparently knew each other because the first stranger reiterated her comment to the new stranger as if to draw her into our "conversation" (to which I had contributed almost nothing at this point).  The pregnant stranger then made the confession that she was dreading the impending arrival of her baby because she "can't stand" the newborn stage and thinks that the first 6-8 months are "the worst" (her words).  She gave us a "you-know-how-it-is" look and then declared that she won't ever have to go through pregnancy again though because she is making her husband have "the surgery" so that there won't be any more kids coming their way.  The first woman and I just sort of stared at each other uncomfortably and then Clara jumped off my lap and ran across the gym so I sort of just excused myself with a "nice-meeting-you-both" and left feeling unsettled by the strange, short dialogue that I had just been a part of.

And now Clara is napping and I am mulling over the three very different perspectives combined with my own experiences with infertility and adoption and mothering.  It is unusual for me to have conversations with complete strangers because typically my schedule is fairly routine with church, gym, errands, and play-dates.  So maybe that is why I am sitting here feeling - I don't know what - flummoxed, maybe?  I guess I was wrong when I said earlier that maybe writing this blogpost would help me articulate what was in my mind because I just don't even know what to say about this other than it has got me thinking about perspective and the many, many different experiences people have with parenthood. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Life lately, according to my iPhone...

Paul and Clara on a Sunday in the church parking lot.  I am in love with Clara's winter dress coat and her black patent leather shoes.  I wish I had matching ones.

Paul's law firm had a winter festival and we stopped by Paul's office first where Clara sat at Paul's desk and pretended to draft her first merger agreement.  I see power suits and board meetings in her future.

Clara has been having fun "practicing" the piano lately. 

I had about 6" taken off when I had a haircut over Christmas.  I'm not super attached to my hair so I'm happy with it this way.  I certainly like the feel of shorter hair better than longer hair, even if I think longer hair looks better on me.  Either way, it is nice to have it be so healthy and I love a good change.  Oh, and this is probably 90% my natural color - only the very bottoms of the strands hold any trace of the last time I had it dyed. 

Paul's has been following Clara's example and practicing the (tiny) piano.

Speaking of Paul, he and my dad had their first ever pedicures over Christmas.  The girls all went for mani/pedis the day after Christmas and it was so nice that when we got home my mom pretty much decided that my dad had to try it.  (It was my mom's first pedicure too.)  I knew that Paul would be easy to convince and the rest of us maybe just sort of steamrollered my dad into going along with it.  I escorted them to the salon and explained each step of the procedure for them.  It was so fun to watch and afterwards my dad proclaimed that he will be getting pedicures on a regular basis from now on because he enjoyed it so much.  Which we knew he would.  And yes, Paul is reading a gossip mag in this picture.

Clara got this miniature wagon for Christmas and has been having fun pulling it around the house with little toys in it (like Mr. Potato Head).

This past weekend we drove to Santa Cruz for breakfast on the wharf (well, Paul and Clara had breakfast - I had eaten before we left because I can't handle the drive there on an empty stomach without getting carsick) and afterwards spent some time looking at the sea lions and following a pretty grungy looking pelican around.

*Thanks, everyone, for your kind comments and emails expressing love and support after that last post of mine.  I really appeciated the words of encouragement and friendship.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Rain Cloud

Lately I've been feeling blue.  Quite blue, actually.  I feel silly and ungrateful admitting that when I have a wonderful husband and a precious little girl who makes me smile every single day, but I sometimes look at the things I post on the blog and know that I'm hiding some burdensome feelings behind the fun and new things Clara is learning and doing or the smiling, happy images of us playing together (which are accurate but not a good representation of many of the overwhelming emotions I have been going through).

The truth is that it has been almost a month now since we found out that we would not be adopting the baby girl we had been expecting for more than four months.  And I still can't get through a single day without thinking of that birthmom and that little girl on an almost hourly basis.  I'm not stinging from this most recent failed adoption the way I felt earlier in the year with our previous failed adoption - I feel more numb and sad about it all this time around.  2012 was a difficult year for us with those two major adoption let-downs where each time we thought that we were literally this close (insert tiny thumb and forefinger hovering near each other) to having a newborn baby join our family. 

We actually heard from "D" this past week letting us know that she still hasn't had the baby even though she had told us back in the first week of December that the doctor's had informed her she would have the baby "any day" due to quite a few complications.  D was writing to tell us that she hasn't had the baby yet but that she is scheduled for a c-section this Monday (still two weeks before her due date) and letting us know what she decided to name the baby.  And that email actually helped.  It is hard going from regular emails with someone who you have come to love and pray for multiple times a day to absolutely no communication after one short email letting you know that that person had changed her mind about whether you are going to have another daughter.  I have been worrying about D and the baby and wondering when and if she had had the baby and it actually eased some of my burden getting that email from D and knowing that D has carried the baby full-term. 

And yet, I sort of want it all to just go away (not D, per se, but "family planning" I guess? which sounds like a cruel joke because there is not much "family planning" that Paul and I can actually do, is there?).  I suppose I don't really mean that and I don't mean to be overly melodramatic about things, but sometimes infertility and adoption is just so hard.  Like over Christmas when it hurt to smile and act normal around the people who know and love us best - our families - just a week and a half after having an adoption fall apart.  Not because they wouldn't care or understand or want to comfort us and be there for us, but more because I just feel so weak and fragile and sometimes when people are too nice to me when I am feeling badly about my life it makes me cry just when I am trying my hardest to hold the pieces of my heart together.  I don't know if that even makes sense or if anyone else ever feels that way but I imagine I'm not the only one who has experienced this which is why I am going to go ahead and not delete this post. 

Or when I am around my sister or sister-in-law or multiple friends who are all expecting babies this next year and I want them to know how truly, blissfully happy I am for them and I want to celebrate with them and not dampen any part of their joy with the sorrow that we so recently went through or turn the conversation away from them and onto me and yet there is a niggling ache inside of me that just hurts and hurts and hurts and while I kept everything together while I was around these pregnant friends and sister and sister-in-law (who I know will read this and I am so, so, so sorry to burden you with this knowledge of how I was feeling over the holidays) I cried over it more often than I care to admit and had a full-on melt-down in front of my mom one afternoon when nobody else was around that was beyond embarassing (and confusing too because you are supposed to confide your deepest feelings and sadnesses to your mom, right? I figure that if there is anybody I shouldn't be embarassed to cry in front of it is my mom for crying out loud! and yet I felt so ashamed!).  And as open as I am about my life with people, this hurt that I am feeling is something that is incredibly hard to talk about or share, I think, in part, because I worry that it will so easily be misconstrued as envy or bitterness or anger, which isn't accurate at all.  I am not jealous.  It is not that I wish I could get pregnant.  I'm just sad.  I just wish things had worked out.  I just feel defeated and outside and alone.  I feel spent.

It has been hard shaking those feelings.  I mostly think of myself as a naturally happy person and I have certainly always tried to live by the philosophy that I can choose to be happy and maybe that is part of the reason why this has been such a difficult period for me recently - it is because I don't feel like myself

I know things are going to work out and I'm fairly confident that someday another little one will come join our family.  I feel myself getting stronger each day, especially this past week as I have gotten back into a routine of exercise and prayer and balanced eating and semi-normal sleep (as much as you can get with a toddler with a 102.5 degree fever that lasted four days) that all seemed to go out the window the last few weeks of December.  If I wasn't feeling better about things, I don't know that I could have brought myself to tackle this topic in a blog post.

Anyway, I think that one of the reasons I hesitated to post this is because I feel like I am rehashing ground I have already covered - sadness, heavy heart, adoption is tough, yada-yada-yada - but I know my feelings are valid and probably not unique and I know that I have a number of friends who this might help so I am going to go ahead and hit "publish" at the end of this post. 

I can't say that I am "excited" to see what 2013 brings.  I feel like 2012 aged me more than just 365 days and I am wary of what 2013 will do - maybe I am gun-shy or something coming off of 2012.  Part of me is quietly hopeful that maybe by next Christmas we will have another little one to share the joy of the season with.  Another (smaller) part of me feels like maybe it would be healthier for us to have a year with no activity on the adoption front to "cool our jets" so to speak:  It's not like it is the worst thing in the world to have kids spaced a few years apart and I know that we went for a second adoption really fast when Clara was (and is) still so young since we were hoping to have our kids close together in age.  And a big part of me is hitting myself over the head and trying to get it through my thick skull that I should just let everything happen when it happens and just focus on the here and now of Clara and Paul and Amy.  (Yeah right, since when have I ever been the "just let things happen" type?)

Phew, this bit of honesty has been highly therapeutic.  And now I can get back to posting way too many pictures and not feel as guilty about it. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Baby Einstein

I was looking at the family photos Amy posted on the blog and I noticed Clara making a funny face in the picture with Amy's family. Check out her doppleganger!

Clara Cuteness

It's time for a Clara update, isn't it?

Clara has somehow gotten it into her head that Mommy is Cinderella.  Maybe it is all the times she has seen me on my hands and knees cleaning up when she throws food, but any time Clara sees an image of Cinderella, she starts pointing and proclaiming vociferously "Mommy! Mommy!".  We don't have princess stuff around our house but we got a princess coloring book for a niece for Christmas and we bought Cinderella for Clara to watch on the plane flights to and from Virginia at the start of December.  Then, yesterday the doctor gave Clara a Cinderella sticker.  And each time she has been exposed to Cinderella she does the same thing of pointing at her and exulting my name.  I asked Paul if he taught her that on the sly but he denies it.  I know she is only 19 months old, but still, I'm flattered.

My favorite thing Clara says right now is "kiwi" (pronounced WEE-wee and absolutely the most precious word you will ever hear) and "no".  I'm sure I will tire of "no" soon but for a long time she has just shaken her head in the negative and only in the past few days has she started piping up with a tiny but firm little "no!" when we ask her things like "do you want to read a book?" or "do you want milk?"  She usually follows up with an explanation of what she wants instead, like "show!" or "juice!" both of which Clara prefers to books or milk (and which we try to keep to a minimum for that very reason).   

We spent time around sick kiddos over Christmas and Clara came home with a cold and temperature that started on Monday and has continued all week long with only short bits of respite thanks to acetametaphin and ibuprofen.  The poor thing has been so hot and miserable and her sleep has really been off because of it (like waking every 1 1/2 hours all night long for three nights in a row and sobbing while I rocked and rocked and rocked her to try to help her calm down).  I took her to the doctor on Wednesday who told me it was just viral (which I was pretty sure of but I just wanted to be on the safe side).  Clara cried through the entire visit (she knows that typically going to the doctor's office means she is going to get shots at the end) but on a happy note we found out that she has put on a little bit of weight and is now 22 lbs. 10 oz.  It's not a lot of weight but she is so skinny and long that I am constantly trying to fatten her up with extra butter or milk or ice cream. 

This morning she discovered two of my hair elastics and has been walking around the house proudly wearing one on each wrist as bracelets.  She also attempts to walk in my or Paul's shoes whenever we leave them lying on the ground outside of the closet and she is frighteningly capable of prancing in heels as long as she is not on carpet.  She still obsesses over my earrings and necklaces, which I sort of wear just for her sometimes.

Clara has all of her top teeth now, including two vicious looking canines that came through just before Christmas.  She still uses those chompers to bite me when I play the piano for more than 5 minutes at a time, which always results in a time-out for her.  Fortunately, she doesn't bite anyone but me, not even Paul really. 

Her new favorite Christmas toy is a basket of plastic fruit with a plastic knife and cutting board.  The fruits have velcro in the middle holding halves together and Clara will sit for half an hour and slice the fruit apart so long as I will stoop down every few minutes to put the two halves back together for her to keep going. 

Clara will count but she needs someone to say "one" to get her started before she will follow up with "two, three".  I'm going to work on getting her up to five.

One last thing is that Clara made a bunch on New Year's Resolutions.  Want to see her list?  Here you go:
  • Break my pacifier habit
  • Learn to speak in short sentences or phrases
  • Learn to offer the prayer at meal/bedtime
  • Gain weight
  • Learn to count to 10
  • Learn to sing ABC's
  • Take swim lessons
  • Start dance/gymnastics
  • Learn to pick up my own toys
  • Learn to sleep in a big girl bed
  • Get a passport and maybe even visit my first foreign country
  • Learn to use the potty
  • Become a big sister
She's an ambitious girl.  Takes after me, I think.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Family Pictures 2012

Each Christmas for the past few years each of our families has let us set up the tripod and take a family picture of everybody.  It is fun to look back at the past years and see how both famlies have grown.  Next years pictures will look very different since we already know there will be a new nephew in Paul's family and a new niece in my family. 

Here is the Nash Family 2012:

We had to take this on the front steps of Paul's parent's house in Alpine immediately after getting home from church before certain people escaped to change clothing.  We only took four shots and this is easily the best of all of them since in others we had kids not looking or adults blinking or not smiling.  From left to right:  Deborah, Colton, Dave, Bobby, Elizabeth, Holly, Donna, Robert, Bob, Grandma Madge, Angelica, John, Vaughn, Paul, Clara and Amy.  Past Nash Family Christmas photos here (2011 - buried halfway through the post), here (2010 - fourth of fifth picture down), and here (2009 - 3rd photo down).

And here is the Casebolt Family 2012:

Poor Emma was running a fever most of Christmas (which has now passed on to Clara and which her dad had come down with the day we took this photo).  So again, we had to be speedy with our photos and not bother with multiple takes.  Out of the few attempts we made, this was the best and that is saying something since Lily wasn't looking at the camera and Clara was pretending to be a dog and sticking her tongue out and panting (a new trick she has learned and which she does every time you say "dog" now).  From left to right:  Jennie, Emma, Lily, Ry, Jessica, Ryan, Cheryl, Russ, Amy, Clara and Paul.  The only person missing is my brother Seth.  Past Casebolt Family Christmas photos here (2011) and here (2009 - 4th picture from the top; I guess we didn't take them in 2010 while Jessica was serving her mission).