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.

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Hasta La Vista, Baby

There wasn’t a lot of TV while I was growing up. I wasn’t exposed to pop movies or TV shows – my parents were relatively vigilant about making sure what I and my siblings saw was age and value appropriate.

As a result, I hit adulthood without seeing a lot of the classics of my era. Hubs has taken to the task of educating me on 80s and 90s pop culture like a fish to water.

Recently he had me start on the Terminator series. It was a rare geeky moment for him when he was telling me that this movie (the first one) was the start of “all that sci-fi stuff you love.” And it looks like he’s right.

Hasta La Vista, Baby | SundriedTomatoe.Wordpress.com

We’re on the second one now (it’s much better than the first) and Hubs says that’s really all I need to watch – the rest were just money-makers.

I have to say that I’m having the most fun quoting lines before we even get to those parts in the movie. Some movies (and songs) are so much a part of popular culture that you don’t even have to have seen them to know when the key lines are coming up. I’ve already wowed Hubs three times by anticipating a key quote: “I’ll be back,” or “hasta la vista, baby.”

I get a kick out of it because he’s always amazed – I think he thinks I’ve secretly seen the movie. “How did you know that?!” This movie-marathon is fun for both of us. 🙂

What other movies are a key part of 80s and 90s culture? I’m always adding to my “catch up” list.

Also, I want to look like Sarah Connor in Terminator 2. Minus the bangs.

Hasta La Vista, Baby | SundriedTomatoe.Wordpress.com

Course Correction

I have been using “I” for a lot of posts recently, mostly because it’s easier to write, even when what I really mean is “we.” In contrast, today is definitely a “we” post, even though it gets tricky to write.

The foster-to-adopt process started for us back in early November of last year when we attended an orientation meeting hosted by Child Protective Services (CPS) in the nearest major city – about two hours away. We drove to the city on a Saturday morning and spent the day listening to workers talking about the basics of the foster and foster-to-adopt process. It was a lot of information we already knew but it was a worthwhile trip to get some faces and some personal accounts of how things play out.

Since then, Hubs and I have been on our own, filling out lots and lots of paperwork and trying to anticipate what the needs will be so we are at least somewhat prepared. Our previous experience with government processes (plus a lot of reading about foster/adopt through the state CPS system) means we are aware that there will be “emergencies” where someone somewhere dropped the ball or forgot about us and we will have to scramble to make up the deficit.

[image source]
[image source]
Our human contact since that orientation meeting has been abysmal. Combined with the mountains of deeply personal paperwork that just keeps on growing, the whole experience thus far has been discouraging on the best days, but mostly deeply troubling.

Hubs and I have had multiple conversations about this, especially as the holidays approached and sailed by. Neither of us feels any kind of peace about the process; most days we feel increasing anxiety and unrest. There’s a growing thought that we are working hard to become part of a system that will certainly ignore us throughout the whole process (years) and will probably be a malign presence in our life.

This isn’t a good option for us. With the information we have right now, this has become a situation where we need to take a step back and look for better, healthier options for us and for any kids who might come into our lives.

Of course, gloriously, this means more waiting on our part. Whatever our next step is will cost a LOT more money, so we need to adjust our approach and squirrel some cash away. (When I say “some” I mean “a lot of.”) Until then, we will keep on keeping on, and continue to hope for some kind of miracle that will wipe out all this agonizing and planning and being responsible.

Until then. BLERG.

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[image]

On Barrenness and Priorities

barrenness and priorities | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com

I’ve upped my intake of reading materials from folks who are dealing with infertility, medical interventions, and adoption. Hubs calls this “Matrixing” – essentially collecting a huge amount of information in a very short amount of time.

Certainly I’ve also spent a lot of time reading fact-based information, reports from private, non-profit, and government entities on the trifecta mentioned above. This is good info, and it rarely includes any information about what it’s like to start down the road of “alternate methods” of having a family of more than two.

So I’m just thinking out loud, here, sharing my own story of what it’s like to be looking at this from our unique perspective. Everyone’s story is different; I’ve gained a lot from reading about the paths others have taken, from their stories. Here’s a bit about mine (ours) at the moment.

barrenness and priorities | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com
from sharecare.com (click for the full infographic)

Recently I read an illuminating post by Hannah Bunker, where she details the related yet distinct challenges of barrenness vs. childlessness. Barrenness is a physical inability to bear children. Bunker’s point, a meaningful one for me, is that no matter how you end up with children, this physical inability has deep-seated emotional weight. It’s the body failing at one of its basic functions.

Medical interventions sometimes allay infertility, but not completely. IVF for infertility is akin to insulin treatment for diabetes; it addresses the symptoms but not the body’s failure to do what it’s meant to do. And infertility treatments often fail; Bunker is speaking to the distinction between a body that is medically infertile or unable to conceive/be pregnant naturally (where medical interventions help) and a body that is barren, unable to bear offspring at all, under any circumstances (where medical interventions are useless).

Adoptive families speak to the distinction of “being pregnant” and “having kids” when they discuss adoption, post-adoption, and how adoption experiences intersect with infertility struggles. The same theme occurs everywhere: “I have no words for how incredibly grateful I am that we are no longer childless. AND there will never be a day that I do not grieve my inability to bear children.”

barrenness and priorities | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com
from msw.usc.edu (click for the full infographic)

This thought, repeated over and over again in the first-hand accounts I’ve read, resonates deeply with me and our situation. Since last summer Hubs and I have spent a lot of time in thought and discussion regarding our childlessness. We both want kids and we both want a pregnancy. Separating those two wants was a huge part of our discussions in 2013 – we knew they were distinct yet related priorities.

It was difficult. We struggled (still struggle) with how to prioritize those wants. We had to (have to) separate a lifetime of thinking of those things – being pregnant and having kids – as the same thing.

I say prioritize because that’s another piece of the landscape that I’ve read about over and over again – the ways folks prioritize the “having kids” and “being pregnant” goals. Adoption meets the “having kids” need. Medical intervention meets the “being pregnant” need.

I’ve only encountered a handful of folks who are only concerned with having kids (ie: adoption only). I have yet to read a blog, article, or comments by someone who is only interested in “pregnancy” (ie: surrogacy, I guess?). The point I’m trying to make is that we are not alone in struggling to separate the two things as we plan for the future. I suppose this is why defining priorities, as hard as it is, becomes useful.

There are those who can’t or won’t participate in medical interventions; they tend to start with adoption. Most, though, seem to begin dealing with infertility via medical intervention (MI). For a lucky bunch, MI works swiftly and well and thus meets the needs for both “being pregnant” and “having kids”. Everyone entering the realm of alternative family-making hopes this is them. For many it’s not.

barrenness and priorities | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com
from thelondonwomensclinic.com (click for full infographic)

If “being pregnant” is the priority, working through multiple rounds of MI is often the story. These folks may never move to adoption. For them, having kids is absolutely linked to being pregnant. Here there are considerations like what type of MI treatment to start with (shots, IUI, IVF), self or donated eggs/sperm, how often to try, when to stop.

And for some, having kids is synonymous with passing on genes. That’s another part of the priorities equation that shapes decisions. This one adds surrogacy to the many MI decisions that must be made.

Those who prioritize “having kids” tend to end up adopting, eventually. Medical intervention is only a means to an end for the “having kids” crowd. So if MI doesn’t work (and it often doesn’t) those folks explore other ways to have kids. Adoption involves considerations like domestic or international, ethnicity, age, gender, sibling groups (?), health issues, etc…

barrenness and priorities | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com
from adoptuskids.org (click for full infographic)

Ultimately, all these groups want a family. It’s the path they take to get there (directed by their priorities) that dictates what decisions they will make and how their experiences differ.

There’s another priority, of course, that doesn’t often get mentioned in the anecdotal world – that of mental health and the well-being of a couple’s relationship as they move through the “alt family” landscape. All alternative processes take a huge toll on those who experience them. Financial, mental, emotional well-being are all challenged and affected. “Well-being” as a priority almost always includes decisions about boundaries, about how much is too much, about when to stop.

Sometimes it includes the decision to accept childlessness.

This part of the process doesn’t get mentioned for a reason. It’s the scariest, the most lonely, the most terrifying outcome of all when starting down the “alt family” road. A finite, life-long NO KIDS, after weathering the storm of every possible alternative to having kids, is intensely frightening.

But after watching (and reading about) so many folks wrecking themselves on the “kids no matter what” priority, childlessness isn’t quite as scary as it once was for us. Decades filled with emotional turmoil, financial instability, and sheer desperation doesn’t seem like a great option.

barrenness and priorities | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com
from norke.be (click to go to the artist’s site)

It’s a lot to consider. We’ve talked and talked, marinated, investigated, ruminated, explored, probed, questioned. There have been a few hard conversations, some frightening realizations. And we’re at a point where our priorities are straight. We have a map.

Time to start moving.

Brown Paper Packages

Two things.

1) I refuse to accept the new attempt at The Sound of Music. There can only be one Maria vonTrapp and that Maria vonTrapp is Julie Andrews, dang it.

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2) A very Merry Christmas to you and yours! We stayed in Texas this year, and opted to try our hand at our own dinner rather than pot lucking with others. We are looking forward to watching what we want on TV and passing out on the couch at 4pm.

We mayyyyyy have opened our gifts early… This is the second year Hubs and I have caved and opened everything well before Christmas morn. We like to use/wear/enjoy all the stuff ALL DAY Christmas Day and you can only do that if you open early.

Also, we are terrible at waiting.

I try to compensate by making sure EVERYONE ELSE in my life gets gifts at the last possible minute, thus ensuring their freedom from the temptation that plagues us. So a few days ago Kitty found herself atop a high-pile of “Christmas Eve” deliveries.

I ship at the last possible minute. More exciting that way.

Where are you going this Christmas Day, and with whom?

(And when do you ship gifts if you’re a shipper?)

(And do your shipments ever include bacon?)

More Late Night Musings

This is a continuation of a post I started last night. You can read that one first, or not. You’re not going to miss anything other than written gold…

2) Infertility/Kids/Pregnancy

Hubs and I have been doing a lot of soul-searching and belt-tightening lately in relation to the “having kids” conundrum. This month marks six complete years of trying to conceive without any pregnancies making it out of the first trimester. Thankfully, it’s been years since the last failed pregnancy so we have had a good long chunk of time to heal from the losses and the associated grief.

That also means it’s been years since anything has happened. For a while we thought perhaps that would be it – there is a certain joy to just being done with something painful. (Maybe peace is a better word…?)

It’s also really nice to be able to sleep in every weekend and go out/on vacation/shopping whenever we want. Just sayin’

At some point in the recent past, however, we decided we are going to go full bore on the family trying for a while. Other options for family-building exist beyond naturally occurring pregnancies so we’re investigating those. You’ll probably hear more about this in the near future. This has never really been an “infertility” blog so I seriously doubt it will become an “alternate fertility” blog. But you will probably get my thoughts and reactions to whatever processes we face in the foreseeable future.

And who knows? Maybe I’ll get all preachy-teachy like the many hundreds of blogs out there with people trying medical interventions, adoptions, surrogacies, etc…

Or maybe I could start a new blog called “Baby Black Market: The Dark and Fetid Underbelly of (In)Fertility, Pregnancy, and Childrearing.” That’d be fun. Make it so.

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Part three, Illness and Distance, tomorrow. Again… if I remember.