On Photographers

One of the more interesting self-employment professions.


We recently had a “real” photographer try their hand at some pictures.

I think, depending on the kind of person behind the camera, we are either a photographer’s best buddies or their worst nightmare. We’re incapable of posing – we literally need them to position us like dolls with articulated joints.

The goofy faces never end. Seriously. We could do a three hour session and the self-conscious goofball faces will continue to appear.

In fact, the only real way to get us to quit being morons and actually look somewhat decent is to make us laugh non-stop.

photographer by Elicus
{image by Elicus on Flickr}

Thus, we’ve only had our pictures taken by a professional twice in our many years together. This last weekend was the second attempt. The first one was six years ago (we liked those so much we’ve been using them for everything since then).

We laughed, we goofed, we laughed some more. At one point we did the middle school dance refrigerator shuffle as the camera clicked away. It was fun.

I bet we get some good pictures out of it.

Overwhelmed by money, mostly in a good way.

Part of the front-end adoption process is establishing a budget. It’s not a set-in-stone thing but it is a ballpark thing. Agencies want to know, up front, if we can cover the fees associated with a particular situation.

Private domestic adoption fees range from $30,000 to $50,000. There’s a lot involved in that number: homestudy filing fees, background check fees, fees to cover a social worker’s time in completing a homestudy, attorney fees, court fees, agency fees, expenses for the expectant mom, and lots of other stuff.

We don’t have a spare $50,000. (We also don’t have a spare $30,000, either, in case you were wondering.)

We don’t have a ton of money saved. We have more now than a year ago, especially with me back at a full time job and us with two good incomes. However, we have debt, and our focus has been on paying that down – not on establishing an impressive savings account. That was part of why we never really pursued private adoption where we used to live. We didn’t have the income to even come close, not even for paying off any loans we took out.

Thankfully, our current situation is much different. We are used to living on one salary, so now that we have two we are moving quickly on paying things off. We’re also in a better position to pay off any loans we might take out.

We will be taking out loans. This will not be a debt-free adoption.

We’ve talked a lot about fundraising. That seems to be a thing potential adopters do. It’s not something we’re 100% comfortable with, though. Even writing about it makes me squirm. However, we’ve had a lot of friends and family ask what we’re doing, how they can help. Over the years, they just keep asking. And now we are at a point where we actually could use their support. So we did a shirt and posted “we’re adopting!” along with a link to the shirt.

The response was amazing. It wasn’t just people getting shirts; but it was the incredible notes of support, the “sharing” to their own accounts, the offers of further resources and support down the road. We were totally blown away. Suddenly, we feel hopeful. This is possible; this is doable. We have people behind us.

We probably won’t do much more “fundraising.” I can’t make any real claims about what will happen down the road. I just know where our comfort level is on asking for help and it’s already been surpassed.

But then, so have our expectations.

Kind of overwhelming. In a good way.

The House Gnome

We (Hubs and I) have this trick that I came up with a few years ago – we blame all irritating household habits on a House Gnome.

Clean clothes remain unfolded for several days? That’s how the House Gnome likes it.

Morning “get ready” kit got left askew on the bathroom sink? The House Gnome did it.

Dishwasher never got turned on? House Gnome.

Back door left unlocked? House Gnome.

All the credit for this guy is mine – I made him up because I came into the relationship with Hubs as a hardcore type-A in terms of housework and he came in as whatever the opposite of that is. I was the oldest in a big family and Chores were a huge part of daily life. He was the youngest of a smaller family, and by the time he came along everyone else had the whole home-care thing under control.

The first few years we were married I had this intense concern over the state of the house in general and Hubs had a deep discontent over a few specific things. After a few years and many Conversations, we got to a point where it was a relatively pleasant and livable situation for both of us, but we both still had our moments of “seriously?!” with the other one. And we both kind of hated that.

Enter the House Gnome. We can blame literally everything on that guy. And we both know that what we are really saying is “will you PLEASE do the dang dishes” or “for the love of PETE, put your morning kit away” but it doesn’t feel as direct. Or as cranky. And it doesn’t hurt any feelings.

So weird how that works. But there it is.

Anyway, we were telling some friends about the House Gnome a few weeks ago as we shared “get along” tips and tricks. (Their “get along” trick is Rock-Paper-Scissors.)

So when I got back from a conference, there was this waiting for me:

House Gnome | SundriedTomatoe.Wordpress.com

My friend and Hubs had conspired to make the House Gnome a real thing.

And then I hid him somewhere and he was found out by Hubs a day or two later. And then yesterday morning I found this:

House Gnome | SundriedTomatoe.Wordpress.com

Which made me laugh so hard I almost peed myself.

Changing Tide?

Let me tell you about this past week.

I’m visiting my sister, who recently had a baby. I love my sister, and I LOVE my niece, and visiting is hard. This visit is nowhere near as hard as the last one – I’m thoroughly enjoying myself this time around. Baby makes eye contact, smiles, laughs, baby-talks, and snuggles. (New) Mom has a routine and a confidence she hadn’t built up yet the last time I was here.

When I fall asleep at night, I fall asleep knowing that all too soon I will return to my quiet, childless house. No more baby smiles or conversations or weird faces. It’s borrowed baby-time. For as much as I’m loving the time I have here, it is also an ever-present reminder of what we’ve lost.

There have been two pregnancy announcements in as many days. One was from a young couple whose wedding Hubs and I attended a few years back. Kinda’ puts into perspective our age and how long we’ve been dealing with the whole infertility thing. This is another situation where we will simultaneously be so excited to meet the new baby (and new parents) while being very aware of what we’ve lost.

And then there were birth announcements. A friend of mine from school, who also struggled with infertility, had a gorgeous baby. Another friend who has terrifically dangerous pregnancies gave birth to another healthy baby.

Most days (these days) I don’t have an issue with these things. Most days I have enough distance between me and raw pain that I can feel the joy (and only the joy) that comes with these kinds of events.

Maybe it’s being around an adorable, happy, healthy baby that makes it so much harder to focus only on joy. While I’m visiting this wonderful baby and her wonderful parents I’m LIVING a new-baby life (to some extent) and it’s impossible to disconnect from my own desire to have it for myself. Maybe when it’s not as much of a novelty it won’t be such a challenge.

Rough patch. And a rough patch when I really don’t want one. I want to enjoy the time I have with Baby and New Parents.

So then, randomly, I won an all-expenses paid trip to an infertility and adoption conference in California. I’ve been following the conference (and its enthusiastic attendees) for several years with plenty of mild envy and no real hope of getting out there to go.

And now, suddenly, I get to go.

It’s next month. I expect it to be a bright moment in this journey, this long and never-ending journey. In fact, I’m anticipating it as an oasis of sorts. There’s so much about this kind of life that is challenging and sad and difficult and this trip will most definitely include more than that. I suspect much more.

For some, the conference has been a game changer. Maybe it will be for us, as well. At the very least, it will be a wonderful adventure and that’s something I don’t often get to say about anything related to infertility/adoption/loss.


PS I suspect some People had a Hand in this. I have no idea which People, and no idea what kind of Hand, but I don’t think this was an entirely random (ie: celestially-ordained) thing.

So if you’re one of the People who had a Hand in the trip: thank you. And please share my thanks with any other People.

You’re great and I lurv you.

Some Things About Me

It has been especially nice to have the time to blog semi-regularly and read others’ blogs as well. Lately I’ve been staying on top of a blog called My Perfect Breakdown, written by a sassy Canadian who has (along with her spouse) been through some of the same stuff as we have. I especially appreciate her perspective on having a strong “work/career” identity that has taken a major hit as a result of years of miscarriage and loss.

Definitely speaks to me on a personal level.

As a result of regular following, I’m on her radar and have been tagged to answer some questions. I like talking about myself so I’m totally participating.

The Rules:

  • Link to the person who nominated you.
  • Add the award logo.
  • Answer the questions your nominator asked.
  • Nominate 7 other blogs.
  • Ask your nominees 10 questions.

I’m not going to follow all the rules because I’m a rebel and a badass. And also lazy. But I am totally going to answer the questions.

And nominate some people.

And come up with new questions.

The Questions:

You are most like ________ in Harry Potter. Explain why.

I’m most like Fleur because I’m gorgeous and I speak with a delightful French accent.

Just kidding, I’m probably most like McGonagall. I love rules. I keep a cool head in a crisis. Everyone around me kind of loves me but is also kind of scared of me. My hair looks great in a bun. And if I was an Animagus I would 100% be a cat.

Cardio or weight training or neither?

I’m not a fan of physical discomfort. So neither.

Video games – yes. Physical activity – not so much.

In a perfect world, I would love running and do it every day. In real life, I WANT to love running, and I keep trying to do it… with little success.

Describe your idea of a perfect date night.

Dinner at a seafood restaurant by the sea, sit in sand in the dark talking about things close to our hearts. Then ice cream. All good dates end with ice cream.

Are you a breakfast person? If so what’s your favourite breakfast meal?

I’m not a breakfast person. Lately I’ve been having some success with homemade granola, greek yogurt, and berries. It’s enough savory to keep me happy, doesn’t include eggs, which have been the only breakfast food I can stomach for a good decade, and has enough of all the good nutrients and whatnot to keep me going for the whole morning.

In that perfect world I mentioned above, three cups of coffee would give me all the vitamins, nutrients, and protein I need for the whole morning.

What is on your birthday wish list for this year (other than a baby)?

Ooh that’s a fun one. Here are some pictures.

Because I’ve been into quilting recently:

Because I want a backlit-free reading option at night (and my old standby has finally bit the dust):

Because creativity:

Because classics never die:

Beer or wine or neither? And what is your preferred brand?

I love beer. I have no idea why I have such a preference for beer, especially since I am also a fan of wine. Given the choice, I will always choose beer. Maybe it’s the carbonation…


Lagers are my preferred beer and Yuengling (native to Pennsylvania) is my favorite. It’s not distributed in Texas (at all) so I rarely get a taste of it these days. In its absence, I will try just about any kind of beer. Hoppy beers and IPAs are always interesting to me.

What is your dream vacation?

Months-long tour of all the places my family (families) come from to include: Italy, Catalonia, Croatia, Ireland, and Cuba.

What is your dream job and why?

My super-duper dream job is A-list film actress with a long-running TV show as my “regular” job. A few reasons why: 1) I would like to act for a living; I think that’d be awesome; 2) I’d like to be renowned for my acting chops; 3) a few million bills in the bank would be excellent. Just sayin.

My IRL dream job is successful writer. I have to start writing in earnest for that to happen, but I think that one is actually doable.

Flats or heels?

I just can’t wear heels. I don’t know why or what it is but I get terrible pain in one of my feet any time I walk around in a pair of heels. This makes footwear shopping pretty easy for me, and also alleviates some of the special tailoring necessary for trousers when tall(ish) ladies buy heels.

Name 3 little known facts about you.

1) I have a birthmark on my index finger. It came in very handy in high school when I was testing out curse words and trying out obscene gestures like the “middle finger.”

2) I’m really good at accents. Like, savant good.

3) Despite my natural penchant for talking with people and joking and whatnot, I’m actually quite a bit of a loner. I didn’t always embrace my loner tendencies, but in the last year or two I’m really beginning to enjoy it.

Now for tagging. I have no idea who reads this thing anymore so I tag YOU, the reader. If you write a blog, I hereby challenge you to answer the following questions about yourself.

If you could have one enhanced natural ability, what would it be? (This is kind of like super-powers but no laser eyeballs or invisibleness or anything.) 

What is your favorite animal and why do you think that is?

Who would play you in the movie version of your life? Why them?

Speaking of movie versions of your life, what song plays during the closing credits?

Please tell a short story from your life that involves a car. 

What does the world need more of?

If you refuse to accept this mission you are a big giant party pooper. Here’s a badge for you. Put it on your blog.

partypooper badge | sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com


Party Planner

How to be a total douche to people in other fields – that was the alternate title for this blog post. But my mom reads this blog sometimes and I just don’t feel like using the word “douche” in a title is a good “mom is reading this” decision.

I have a work buddy (affectionately known as my partner in crime) who is just insanely incredibly good at her job. She’s the boss of about 30 different departments and should probably have the title of Vice President, certainly does the work for it. I like to trail along and listen to her stories and egg her on when she’s making hard decisions. My job is a relatively lonely one – lots of time in the office writing things. And I’m not in charge of human beings long-term. I just tell them what to do to get projects done. My work buddy does all the stuff I don’t do.

We traveled out to a conference this summer – summer is a big time for conferences and trainings and presentations and whatnot. Because of the kind of work we do, Work Buddy and I tend to travel together fairly frequently. So we’re at this conference. And another person from another organization, upon meeting my work buddy, said,

Oh, you’re the party planner?

Rage swept over me immediately. This work buddy has spent the last 10 years in crap positions, working her way up slowly but surely pretty much by sheer grit. She has only recently become a “big” boss and is still agonizing, every day, over the fact that she’s now in charge of mentoring, supporting, and sometimes disciplining other human beings. There’s a lot of heart, there, and Work Buddy would love to be a Party Planner because she loves people.

But she’s not; she’s outside her comfort zone on purpose. I’m really glad – she’s an incredible boss. I would have killed to have a boss like her when I was working in a department like hers.

So I was so angry. I was like “how DARE THEY SAY THAT?!” The comment was a brush off, meant to be a brush off, and all I could think of was how much Work Buddy didn’t deserve that. Of all the people I work with, she deserves it the least.

She had it covered, though. She just smiled a smile that wise people save for idiots and said, “Close! The party planner works for me.” Then she turned to me and said, “let’s go.”

I loved that day.

Guitar Men

Dad and Bro playing guitar. 20140206-052333.jpg
This image is one of those images that says “home” to me in a million billion ways. Not only the guitars, but those precise looks – the facial expressions. I’ve spent my whole life watching these guys play, looking like they look in this image. They’re locked on, the world is silent. All they hear is the music, all they’re thinking about is the next few chords.

Warms the cockles of my heart.