July 2, 2011

Harry...

Meet Harry.


Harry is a turtle we found on a walk yesterday. 
Harry is not thrilled about our having met.
I take offense to his disdain and say,
“Harry! Don’t act like I don’t know you’re in there!”  And when he continues to inch further in his shell, I say,

“Mama didn’t raise no fool! You look at me Harry.  Harryyyy?

(This is an appropriate time for me to address my jacked-up pinky.  When I taught middle school, if someone bumped into me I’d often yell, “OWWWW I think you just broke my pinky!”  I’d slowly lift up my pinky, look at its crookedness in horror, and relish in the sound of 30 people gasping at once. Then I’d wait three awkward seconds to see what the perpetrator would do. After the look of horror, the pleas for mercy, and a quivering lip, I’d pat him on the back and say, “Aww, no sweat” and then walk away.  Just so we’re all clear- I never really let it get to a quivering lip.  No one deserves that.)

Anyhoo, back to Harry.  Harry reminds me of the friends who retreat when you look them straight in the eye, the ones who say, “Oh you want to get real? Okay, well let me get inside my shell, and THEN we can talk about it.”  I really don’t have anyone specific in mind, I just want there to be some grand metaphor for me having brought up Harry at all.  I wanted it to come around full circle and end with a good life lesson.  Oh well.

So, after Harry’s royal snub, I put him back in the creek bed, turned up the song, “You’re Gonna Miss Me” in my ipod, took my sunglasses off and then put them back on in a really dramatic way and walked away.  Slowly.   

If you ever meet a Harry in your life, someone who won’t get out of their shell, someone who tries to just hide in the crowd, remember this little guy, and do what you know needs to be done.  You hold the key to the answers you must unlock. 

You’re welcome.
(This blog post brought to you by the medicine I'm on the for the aformentioned cornea issues.)

July 1, 2011

Cornea Issues

I woke up this morning to my sweet puppy (7 year old boxer/mix) licking my face.  She is so sweet in the morning and is always excited to get some snuggle time. This time however, she was so excited she lovingly swatted the air in the direction of my face… Unfortunately, I moved just in time to have her nail dig into my right eyeball.  Yes. Eyeball.  I sat up and screamed.  She quickly moved to the foot of the bed… “Okay, I think I may have just lost my eye.” I told myself.  “Plenty of people live just fine with one eye, so when you reach for your socket if the ball is hanging out of it, it’s OKAY. I’ll put a bag over my head, and ask my neighbor to take me to the ER.”  After a few quick moments of encouraging self-talk, I reached for my eye, only to discover that YES it was still there, but there was definitely something wrong.  I ran to the bathroom to discover a red line going horizontally across my eyeball and from the line down, it was all red.  Then the tears came.  Not b/c I was crying but b/c my eye couldn’t quit making tears…then the burning, then the blurriness, then the sensitivity to light, then the feeling something was stuck in my eye, then I passed out.  Just kidding.

I didn’t take a picture at the moment, but it looked something like this:
I immediately had flashbacks of sitting in class watching classmates walk in with eye patches. I remember thinking how HORRIBLE that would be. Not because of the pain, but because of the humiliation.   (Perhaps you were one of those kids, in which case, I’m sure it was a good character building exerciseJ)  Regardless, I shook my head with disapointment.  “This is my time for the patch. Its finally here.”  I definitely needed coffee before I could make any logical further plans regarding the eye. 

With one eye shut, and a few loud grumbles, I made coffee, fed the dogs, and eventually sat down in front of my computer.  As I googled, “Cornea scratch”  I could feel my eye getting worse.  Everything I read told me to go to the doctor.  I paced around the house telling myself, “You’re fine. You’re fine. Ask a few people, you'll see... they’ll tell you to stay home.” I HATE going to the doctor. But, long story short, everyone I spoke with told me to go.  My biggest concern was infection. So, I went and my concern was validated.  “That’s some scratch!  Goes halfway across your eyeball.”  “Yep” I said.  “She got me good.”  After some prescriptions for the pain, sensitivity to light, and antibiotic for a possible infection, I’m good.  In fact, I’m feeling great, it still burns when I blink, but that's all good!  You know that feeling when you wake up from a nightmare and then you realize it was a dream and you're so happy? Well, it is that feeling but better.  I woke up thinking I had lost my eyeball, and I didn't.  That is an awesome feeling.  And better yet, I don’t have to wear the patch.  Although, I secretly think I wanted one.  It would have made for a great conversation starter, some pretty badass pics, and I know the 4th of July would have been a lot better. 
Patch or no patch, this turned out to be a pretty good day :)

June 30, 2011

Ghana!!

It occurred to me that I didn’t mention WHERE we are adopting from… Well, after a ton of research, a bunch of asked questions, and a lot of prayer we landed on the beautiful west African country of Ghana!  This country is known for its friendliness and foreigners are greeted with “Akwaaba! You are Welcome!” 

Despite its overall stability, Ghana’s economy is suffering.  45% of the population lives on less than $1 a day.  In a country about the size of Oregon, it’s hard to imagine that there are 1,000,000 orphans!  In addition, it is estimated that 60% of Ghana’s children are involved in child labor or child slavery.  Typically, the extended family would take care of Ghana’s orphans, but in today’s conditions this is not always possible.  Therefore, when the social welfare finds that there are no other alternatives, Ghana welcomes international adoption (AdoptionAdvocates.org, 2011).

This country is absolutely beautiful and is located directly on the coast.  


As we continue in this process we are learning more and more about Ghana.  At http://www.ifitweremyhome.com/ you can compare the United States to any other country in the world. Here are the results for Ghana:

If you were living in Ghana instead of the United States you would…

-         Have 8.1 times higher chance of dying in infancy
-         Be 3.2 times more likely to have HIV/AIDS
-         Have 2 times more babies
-         Use 98.12% less electricity

So there you have it.  We're moving towards Ghana and we'll see where God leads.  We are very aware that the adoption world can be very unpredictable and countries can close or change their requirements at any time.  But for now, we're "Ghana" go get a baby from 2008's friendliest country in Africa :)

Cheers to Ghana!

Adoption...

Most of my readers, (all 3 of you) know we’re adopting.  But just in case, a welcome random reads this here blog, let me fill you in…

The road to adoption began for us many years ago.  For most of my life I have been very drawn to the idea of adoption.  Even as a child I imagined myself mothering adopted children, rarely biological. So naturally, when I met Sean I was curious about his feelings regarding adoption, and was happy to hear that he shared the same desire!  As we discussed marriage and our ideas of a future family, we both agreed that we wanted a lot of children, with a large portion, (perhaps more than half) of them adopted. Seven years, six years of marriage, two houses, 3 degrees, two dogs, one cat (RIP Bam) and two careers later our plans haven’t changed. So last year, we decided to begin our journey towards a family… with adoption first.  We hope to add biological kiddos to the brood later down the road.

We are now 6 months into the adoption process, having been on an official “waiting list” for 3 months. The wait is a bit brutal.  Okay, not a bit brutal… very brutal. One aspect of adoption that most people don’t consider is the emotional roller coaster it puts on waiting families. Even before you have a face, a name, an age or even a gender, you long for your child.  Unlike a pregnancy (I’ve never been pregnant but I’m imagining) you can’t look down at your belly and know your child is being taken care of.  You can’t sit with your child and know he’s with you.  Instead, you are half-way across the world, wondering if he’s okay, wondering if he’s being well taken care of, and wondering what he’ll have to experience before you can get there.  I’ve found this feeling to be particularly potent on holidays.  You are celebrating with your family, but someone is missing… half way around the world… waiting on you to get there.

Many adoptive mothers have said the entire adoptive “labor” from the paperwork to the emotional ups and downs is equally strenuous and emotionally taxing as their biological pregnancies.

Luckily, we have a fantastic circle of friends and family who are eager to ask questions, share stories, and get excited with us.  I know if I need to talk about anything, I have plenty of people to turn to.  This is incredibly comforting and a massive blessing. 

Before we were adopting I had heard stories of adoptive mothers experiencing similar signs and symptoms of biological pregnancy.  At the time, I found that believable but crazy.  Now I know what they mean.  Last month, my hairdresser of 4 years took one look at me and said, “You’re Pregnant!!”  My fine, stick straight hair has become 10 times thicker and wavy.  The change is so drastic that she had another stylist in the salon come look at my head. I’ve also spoken with other adoptive moms who have experienced more intense “symptoms” including morning sickness, skipped periods, and even hemroids during the last week.  Unbelievable.  I find this incredibly fascinating.  Our hearts are longing for a child so badly that our bodies follow suit, doing the best it knows how to prepare for this child.  Unbelievable. 

So while I wait, I pray, I learn, I nest, and I figure out how to tame this new crazy head of hair I have.  


Wish me luck :) 

Kohlrabi...

Well, I found out what Kohlrabi is.  It is a small alien species that tastes remarkably close to broccoli stems and can be cooked into the most awesome of snacks.


Chop off the kohlrabi stems and then slice the “head” into small cubes.  Sautee the cubes in a skillet of butter or olive oil.  Season with sea salt and ground pepper.  When the sides are looking a little brown and the center is a bit more tender, throw a splash of garlic salt on it and, voila, a quick delicious snack. I’m sure it would taste better if you skipped the garlic salt and sautéed it with fresh garlic. Either way, add some garlic. For even more flavor, add some kale pieces in the pan too.  I am in love with this snack and use it as a side too.  Yum! Branch out and try some kohlrabi!

P.S. It comes in purple and white.  Both taste the same. 

June 29, 2011

You are what you eat...

Remember the aforementioned unique goals?  Well, the second goal (after the community class) was to join a CSA, Community Supported Agriculture.  My friend KP and I wanted to go organic.  As she says, “You pay for your health eventually.  Might as well pay for it upfront and enjoy it.”  So, on that note, we forked up the dough and joined a farmer’s co-op.  It. Is. Awesome. 

Every Wednesday between 3:00 and 3:30, we drive to a quiet parking lot, a mile down the road and join the club of other organic/local food eaters.  We all wait in line with our boxes from the previous week, until the man in the ice-cold delivery truck kindly asks for your last name.  Actually, he doesn’t ask. He makes eye-contact with you and you know what he wants.  I wait my turn and when our eyes meet, I proudly say, “McConnell”.  Something about saying my name in line with these other awesome eaters makes me feel cooler.    

He cheerfully repeats the name, “McConnell!” and swiftly turns around.  He returns with a mysterious box of goodness.  I stare at the holes of the box, wondering what’s inside as I hand the second man my check.  With box in tow, I walk away a bit more confident, a slightly better person, and a little bit prettier. 

When I get home I quickly open the box and “oooh”-and-“ahhh” over every item.  Berries, greens, onions, cauliflower, radishes, beets, kohlrabi... still don’t know what that is.  I take bags out and split everything in half.  KP and I share one ½ bushel… thus making the whole venture more affordable.  Now, comes the hard part: learning how to cook with things you’ve never seen let alone tasted before.  Luckily, a recipe is just a click away on the web. Things I’ve made, or in my case, assembled:

Kale Chips (okay, Sean made those… but I ate them.)
Salads, salads, and more salads.
Green onions on red beans and rice
Cauliflower Crust Pizza
Veggie Medley on Rice
Snap peas with dressing
Berries
Obviously, the last two didn’t need cooking.  But I mentioned them anyways.

All of which is local, organic, and goood.  I’m really looking forward to the fall.  I pick the next batch up tomorrow and I can’t wait to see what we get. Such an adventure this little CSA is becoming.


June 27, 2011

Community Class

I quit my teaching job last year. I loved teaching middle school but wanted to pursue other once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. These opportunities included the following:
  
  • Traveling with my husband (he’s a musician)
  • Working part-time from home as a grant-writer and research assistant
  • Pursue my doctorate in education (which I ended up starting a year later…oops)
  • Relax a little and catch a breath before starting a family 

This new lifestyle meant, for the first time, I would be COMPLETELY in charge of my own schedule. Wowwww….   For years I couldn’t even go to the bathroom when I wanted to, (Fellow teachers, you know what I’m talking about.)

Simultaneously, my friend KP fearlessly quit her job and started a new business.  Suddenly we had a lot more flexible time on our hands. So, we met for coffee, and set some goals that would be fun, out of our normal comfort zone, and exciting. (I highly recommend finding a friend and setting goals like this…)  One of these goals was to join a community class.  Well, my friends, we went, we saw, and we conquered. 

For the last three months we have been going to a pottery class offered through our metro community education program.  Three of our friends joined us and the five of us made up the whole class. Our weekly 3 hour pottery class quickly became one of the best things I’ve done in my adult life.  For three hours each week we played with mud, chatted with our super-cool teacher June, laughed about old stories, pontificated about our jobs, and made awesome stuff.  We left each night tired, dirty, and creatively rejuvenated.  What a gift! 




This next semester they’re offering Italian, Fencing, and Badminton.  Hmm… 

Post #1

Keep walking, though there's no place to get to.
Don't try to see through the distances. That's not
     for human beings.
Move within, but don't move the way fear makes
     you move.
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and
     frightened.
Don't open the door to the study
and being reading.  Take down a musical
instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the
     ground.

                            Rumi