Thursday, November 28, 2013


Heh heh. SIKE. There's no bear attack. I just wanted to stand out and be unique in the world of blog titles today. No "Happy Thanksgiving!" or "Thankful" from me. Bear attack.

(PS. Nobody reads blogs on Thanksgiving. Except me. Looking through 6 years of blog statistics and analytics informs me that I am probably going to be the only person that reads this today. And I like reading about (not experiencing) bear attacks. So may as well play to the crowd today, right?)

After a half-day of work yesterday we headed to Augusta to be with my family for the Thanksgiving break. It didn't take long to get settled into Maximum Vacation Mode:

Namely, the Gone with the Wind marathon on AMC, wine, fire in the fireplace, and playing with my niece all afternoon. I dominated all four. Later in the evening we upped our game a bit by watching a Hallmark movie or 12. Anyone catch that Window Wonderland one? I must admit...I didn't hate it. I feel so ashamed.

Despite staying up til midnight watching Parks & Rec (we're up to season 5!!) I woke up early (SEVEN!!!) this morning. I suck at being on vacation (please see also: trying to sleep in in Mexico). Fortunately for us all, after an hour or so I managed to fall back asleep and stay that way until a decent hour. I was woken at 10 by my husband informing me that there were hot blimmies, bacon, and coffee ready for me. And a fire. And a jacuzzi. It was a much better way to wake up.

I've spent some time perusing the sale ads. Not surprisingly, I spent the most time looking at Ulta's. I'm not planning on going out tomorrow (a change of pace for me, but in my old just seems like the right thing to do) but shopping in my PJs in front of the fire is definitely not out of the question.

We also spent some time in the aforementioned jacuzzi. It's in the 30s outside and DANG if that hot tub didn't feel awesome. Also awesome? Matt's 'going to the hot tub' outfit. Feast your eyes on THAT.

Does it remind you of another fabulous outfit of Matt's? It should. Hahaha! (PS. Matt hates when I share all these embarrassing pictures of him. He keeps threatening to start his own blog and put embarrassing pictures of me on it. Go ahead. Make my day.)

'Twas delightful. Just like my butt-cut bangs.

We still have a lot of eating, dog-show-watching, and general relaxing ahead of us today. I'm thankful for some time to do nothing and hang out with my family. It's been a pretty terrible month, but in the spirit of the day I'm trying to think of things to be thankful for. Don't hate me for admitting that the first thing I thought of is Parks & Rec. Runners-up (runner-ups? GRAMMAR DILEMMA!!) include my awesome husband, our supportive families, my sweet doggie, food, and all of you guys. Thanks so much for your love, support, prayers, and thoughtfulness these past few weeks. I love all of you and I hope you're having wonderful holidays and that none of you get attacked by a bear. But if you do, I hope you survive enough to blog about it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

on commas, graphics, and being correct

In response to our last grammar discussion, I had a lot of people request that I cover comma usage in a future post. That request blessed me, as proper comma usage is an issue near and dear to my heart, but also was a teeny bit scary: there are a LOT of issues to cover when discussing commas. It's not one thing that you can easily sum up in a cute graphic or funny story. It's a lot of issues. So I spent some time over the weekend trying to figure out how best to present some 'comma tips' in a way that would be fun, easily manageable, and ummm...not have everyone immediately closing the browser window and un-following me. Let's be honest. I'm sure there's a fine line between 'aw cute, she's ranting about grammar!' and 'yeah, I don't know what direction this blog is going in but I'm pretty sure I don't like it.' I'd like to stay safely on the 'oh how cute' side of that line.

SO! To our mutual good luck, I happened to discover that there is a portion of the Extreme Grammar Passion world that seems to overlap with the Graphic Design Skillz world and those two got together, had some babies, and voila (yes, that is the correct spelling. Please never, ever, ever, ever write 'wah-lah!' or anything else that looks like that. This tip comes to you for free. Thank me later.)-- a down-and-dirty infographic (or three) illustrating a Comma Issue that many people seem to struggle with: The Oxford Comma.

I love debating the Oxford comma because my position on the topic is so obviously right and it's just great arguing about something you are 100% positive you're correct about. That means that the other person is 100% wrong and needs to be shown the error in their ways and I just love being able to do that. 

I'm going to let these awesome graphics (note: I DID NOT CREATE THESE. I will do my best to cite them, but they appear to be pretty rampant on the internet and I have no idea if these are the original sources) do most of the explaining here, but I suppose I could first at least tell you what the Oxford (also known as 'serial') comma is:

Exhibit A: I am asking for makeup, boots, books, and a baby for Christmas.

Exhibit B: I am asking for makeup, boots, books and a baby for Christmas.

In Exhibit A there is a comma after the word 'books.' That comma is known as the Oxford comma. In Exhibit B there is no comma there. Exhibit B is stupid.

And now I will let these cool pictures do the talking.
The Oxford Comma

I mean, if that graphic doesn't get your heart racing...there might be something wrong with you. It's crazy awesome!!! Wooooo!! 

I feel about grammar the way some people feel about football. Only my team always wins.

Now we will conclude with two touching graphics demonstrating why using the Oxford comma is critical.



I think I've proven my point, right?


And now, to prove I'm a legit grammar professor, we're going to have a pop quiz about today's lesson. Please choose the correct answer below.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Fred Roger is here!

 Way back in the year 2007, Matt and I celebrated our first married Christmas together. Naturally, since we are not insane, that meant we wanted to purchase a (real, of course) Christmas tree that would bring some cheer to our living room. Unfortunately, at that particular juncture in our lives, we were what you might call poor. Like, we had enough money to pay our bills and eat...but that was about it. We budgeted every single paycheck down to the last penny. And somehow that budget did not include a Christmas tree (but it did include gifts, because as Dave Ramsey taught us-- Christmas comes every year! If you're going to participate in gift-giving-- plan for it! So we did. But we forgot to plan for the tree, which is incidentally kind of expensive for people who budget to the penny).

Luckily, we're determined and creative people and we were confident we could find a way to buy a tree that didn't involve taking money out of our savings account and/or begging our parents. We put on our thinking caps and then it happened: our eyes lit upon our spare change jar. 

Spare Change=Money. How much money? Who knows. Maybe enough for a tree? Maybe.

So we counted it.

And lo and behold-- it was enough!!! Over forty dollars!! We were ecstatic. I mean, let's face it: spare change doesn't feel like money. A bunch of pennies and dimes...yeah, on some level you know it's money, but it's just not the same as the money that comes on your paycheck every month. It's like rogue money. Unaccounted for money. Money that can buy a Christmas tree.

So that year we happily counted up and rolled our change and used it to buy our tree. And henceforth and forever more our spare change jar has been referred to as the Christmas Tree Fund. Now all those random pennies and dimes have a purpose! And it's weird because we really don't use cash all that it really mystifies me how so much manages to accumulate. Maybe it's some kind of miracle. Maybe we throw in a penny and God does some water-to-wine action and in November we find a quarter in its place. I don't really know. But I do know that for the last seven years, we've funded our Christmas tree every single year out of our spare change. And we don't really have to anymore. Thankfully we have enough money now that we could just go buy a tree without really worrying about it. But now it's a tradition! On Christmas Tree Day we start with dumping out all the change and rolling it, hoping and praying it'll be at least $40 (the rough cost of the trees we like...which strangely haven't gotten any more expensive in seven years).

So on Saturday morning, that's what we did. The annual Counting of the Change.

This year's grand total: $60 rolled!! We stopped there and quit rolling pennies because seriously, enough is enough. Pennies are stupid. They can be our 'seed money' for next year's tree.

After Catching Fire (OMG amaaaaaazing!!!! I want to go back and see it again!!! Any Athens or Augusta-area takers??) we headed over to pick out our tree.

Yes, Matt picked out his lumberjack-y outfit all by himself and no, I don't think it was an accident. ;)
Tree shopping early in the season means we had way more choices, which isn't necessarily a good thing. Luckily we picked one before it came to violence and headed home with our prize.

Once home, I continued with my Christmas tradition of being a total control freak about the decorating. I guess I didn't make a lot of progress with that this year. Oh well, maybe next year. I got the tree decorated, but not without several minutes of crying because I was sad there was no baby 'helping' me decorate the tree this year. Apparently back when we were anticipating the adoption, I spent way too much time fantasizing about us trying to get a tree and decorate with the baby in tow...and then when it all happened and there was no baby to interfere with our Christmas decorating...well, I just got really sad. :(

But the tree is up, the mantel is decorated, and hopefully I will stop being sad at some point. Or at least not want to cry when I see our Christmas decorations.

The huge ornaments dangling off the mantel are a new addition for this year. Naturally, I got the idea from Pinterest. I posted the snapshot above on Instagram yesterday and by far the best part was the comments about people liking my 'big balls.' Heh heh.

Matt and I have a strange habit of greeting Lola and random inanimate objects in our house whenever we come home from being away somewhere. Obviously greeting Lola makes sense, since she's greeting us, too-- but I don't know if greeting other stuff is entirely normal. But that's us. I tend to greet whatever is most noticeable or new-- Hi Lola! Hi dirty dishes! Hi new rug! Hi gray walls! Something like that. So naturally we've been greeting the Christmas tree. Last night I decided that we should name the Christmas tree so that it would be more personal when we greet it...since it'll be with us at least a month, it seems like a name would be nice. So on the count of three we both blurted out our name choice for the tree: I said Fred, Matt said Roger. Fred and Roger. Fred Rogers-- you know, Mr. Rogers??! I mean, obviously we were on the same wavelength with names there. So we decided to go with a classic double name: Fred Roger. I left off the -s because in light of our recent grammar discussion, it just makes sense to not include an unnecessary and confusing plural name if you don't absolutely have to. So anyway. Now we've had fun greeting Fred Roger and treating him like another pet: as in Erika, did you water Fred Roger this morning? (No, oops...)

On a mostly unrelated note, Saturday night we went out for drinks at Highwire for my SIL Jess's birthday. What I got could probably be considered a 'gateway drink.' Like, if you aren't a big drinker (which I'm not) but you tried this, you might be in danger. 

It's called the Yuletide: hot chocolate, peppermint Schnapps, and whipped cream. And a sprig of fresh mint.

Dying of yumminess. And despite my lack of bartender skills, I feel confident I can recreate this one at home, so it seems that a trip to the package shop will be in my near future. Can you think of anything better than sipping a Yuletide in front of the fire, Fred Roger twinkling in the background, Parks & Rec marathoning on the TV? NO, I CANNOT. So anyway. 8 more hours til I can work on making that happen. Have a great Monday!

Friday, November 22, 2013

(my first) 5 on Friday

This is my first time doing this 'Friday Five' thing...I like to wait until about a year after a trend starts to jump onboard, so I guess this is in keeping with tradition. Or something like that.


Yall- your response to my post yesterday was AWESOME. Seriously- your enthusiasm for grammar truly warmed my heart. And cracked me up. And then I had these awesome grammar questions/conundrums/debates/anecdotes rolling into my inbox all day and it was like NERD OVERLOAD. Sometimes I am super jealous of Grammar Girl  and I wish that I'd thought of it (and claimed that name) first, but yesterday I felt like I got my own little corner of the 'grammar advice girl' market and it was super fun. Thanks for your enthusiasm!


Yesterday I finally signed up for Dropbox! In keeping with tradition, I waited until the whole concept is super old news to everyone else on earth until I looked into it for myself. It took about a million hours to sync up all the pictures from my phone, but it's almost done now. Really the whole reason I decided to sign up was to get the baby pictures off my phone without having to look at them...but I'm sure I'll find other reasons to like the service now that I have it.


Yesterday Matt and I semi-inadvertently dressed like twinsies. Like, we realized it before we left the house in the that's why I say semi-inadvertently. I guess we could have changed if we'd wanted to. But we like being twinsies, so obviously we didn't. Anyway. One of my co-workers noticed and wanted to take our picture at lunch because our twinsieness was so inspirational to her (or something). Then she put the picture on Facebook. And this story is getting really long and boring but HERE'S THE POINT: One of HER Facebook friends (not someone I know) commented on the picture and said "they look like the couple from Parks & Rec!" And like- WHAAAAT??! Obviously this person is my new best friend. Now, we still haven't even finished Season 4, so we're nowhere near caught the thing is, I'm not sure which couple she is even referring to. Probably by now there are multiple new couples on the show that I haven't even 'met' yet. But STILL! That she thinks we look like 'that couple from Parks & Rec' is probably my greatest life achievement thus far. As long as it's a good couple and not like...Ron and Tammy 2 or something.


Did you know that I sang with the African-American Choral Ensemble when I was a student at UGA? Well, I did. It was super awesome and one of the most fun (and tear-jerky) choirs I've ever been a part of. Anyway, their fall concert is tonight and we are going to attend! I am probably more excited than is appropriate.


In the last...month...???...we have TOTALLY slacked off on our eMeals. And grocery shopping and cooking in general. After the adoption failed, our friends, family, and church were SO generous with bringing us dinners, frozen food, snacks, restaurant gift cards, and asking us over/out for dinner...we absolutely have not had to think about providing food for ourselves in quite some time. But I still get my eMeals meal plans in my inbox like clockwork and now I'm starting to look forward to getting back on schedule and cooking like a normal person. But not for at least another sense in trying to start during a holiday week, right? So December 1. That's the plan. That's when I'll re-join the adults of the world and do things like cook myself my own food again. And also hopefully become less fat because HOMEGIRL HAS BEEN LAZY for the last month and that's just not gonna fly. So, cooking and running. That's the plan. 

And that's a wrap for my first Friday 5! Only 8 hours of work to get through and then it's a weekend of concerts, Christmas tree shopping/decorating, and CATCHING FIRE!!!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

a Christmas grammar intervention

We're approaching the most wonderful time of the year, people. There are a lot of things I love about the Christmas season, and I'm not going to talk about any of them right now. Instead, I am going to focus on one extremely important, often overlooked detail of the holiday season.


IT'S TIME FOR AN INTERVENTION. On your Christmas cards.

It's time, people. Time for us to step up our Christmas card game. I've seen a thousand bloggers talking about Christmas cards this week-- sharing their favorite card vendors, their tips on how to get the perfect family picture, their detailed guides on coordinating wardrobes. I trust that you don't need my help with any of that. But let us not overlook one very important feature of our Christmas cards: what we actually write on them.

I saw some people discussing this on Facebook. I saw confusion. I saw people trying to reach out for help. I saw misinformation being spread. I've seen some heinous grammar offenses on cards I've received over the years. I can't let this go on. I'm here to help.

Luckily there is basically only one HUGE issue when it comes to Christmas card grammar: pluralization of names. And apostrophes.

For this important issue, one I have ranted about many time before, I will refer you to the exact same grammar rule of thumb as always. And this time I even made a graphic!

Yes, it would be entirely appropriate to print this, frame it, tattoo it on your arm, make a decal and stick it on your wall-- WHATEVER IT TAKES TO REMEMBER IT.

When it comes to Christmas cards, I know what happens. You want to say "Merry Christmas from the _____!" (pluralized version of your last name) You're going to be tempted to throw in an apostrophe in your last name. DON'T.

Just because it's Christmas-- you don't need an apostrophe. Just because it's your last name-- you don't need an apostrophe. But apostrophes are festive, Erika! I want to sprinkle them everywhere! They are cheery!


Let's start with an easy example- a last name that doesn't end in any tricky, apostrophe-tempting letters. We'll say Smith. (Note: I'm just trying to pick generic, common (in America) last names-- I'm not picking on anyone in particular.)

Assuming your card is from more than one person in your Smith-last-named family, it's pretty straightforward: Merry Christmas from the Smiths!

Your last name is Smith. There's more than one of you. Stick an s on the end. YOU ARE DONE. Congrats on having a really easy last name.

Correct: Merry Christmas from the Greens! Happy Holidays from the Clintons!

WRONG: Merry Christmas from the Black's! Happy Holidays from the Garcia's!

You see what's wrong there? THE APOSTROPHE.

Apostrophes denote possession. Merry Christmas from the Black's what? Their dog? Their house? Their chair? And why does he or she call him/herself "the Black"?????!!!

If you are lucky enough to have an 'easy' last name like those in the examples above, please just don't overthink it: add an -s and be done with it. CHECK YOUR APOSTROPHES AT THE DOOR.

But there are those of us blessed with trickier last names. Like last names that already end in -s. Or -es. Or -ch, -sh, -x, or -z. Surely we need an apostrophe??


I'm one of you, people. I have one of those dreaded last names. My last name ends in -es. Like Jones (only it's not). So I feel your pain. I know the struggle. It would feel great to add an apostrophe. It would look so much cleaner. 

It would be wrong, so we aren't gonna do it.

Just like any other (non-name) word that ends in -s, to pluralize it you are going to have to add an -es. 

One mess, two messes.

One church, three churches.

One Jones, five Joneses.

One Rodriguez, four Rodriguezes.

Correct: Merry Christmas from the Joneses! Happy Holidays from the Hopkinses!

WRONG (but tempting): Merry Christmas from the Jones's! Happy Holidays from the Hopkins's!

I know. I know. It looks crazy. But it is correct.

See, all you're doing in the "Happy Holidays from the ____" example is making your last name plural. So our rule applies.

If you're like me and you have a name that ends in a stupid -es and you don't want it to look even stupider by adding ANOTHER -es (Joneses)...THERE IS A SOLUTION!

It doesn't involve apostrophes. Those can't help you here.

Change your wording.

Happy Holidays from the Jones Family!

Merry Christmas from Matt & Erika!

These are happy ways to work around stuffy grammar rules that make your last name an extra mile long. Change your wording. But never, ever add an apostrophe. Because it's not creative-- it's just wrong. And then people will get your card in the mail and they will be tempted to whip out their red pens and 'fix' it before they can adorn their mantel with it...or worse yet, they'll just hide it away. Their eyes will be unable to handle your blatant disregarding of the rules and they will hide your cute card. Don't put people in that position. Just follow the rules and you'll do fine.

I had some other exciting card-related grammar issues I was going to discuss, but I'm out of day job is calling! I wanted to go ahead and get this posted, though, because I know time is of the essence right now while everyone is designing their cards and if I can save even one card from a hideous grammar error...well, I'll count it as a win. If you have any other card-related (or completely unrelated-- I love ALL grammar conundrums!) grammar questions, feel free to put in a request and I will research and tackle it in a future post! I mean, it took like 5 minutes to make that 'essential Christmas card grammar' graphic, so I'd like to get at least one more use out of it. So fire away-- and just one more time for good measure:

PS. Don't believe me? Even MIT (aka a school for geniuses) feels strongly about this issue! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

more confessions

Not that my blogs are ever particularly cohesive, but I think one reason I love linking up with E for Midweek Confessions is that I don't even feel like I have to try to make an attempt at cohesiveness. It's awesome. They're confessions! They're random! So yay. Giddyup.

1. One of the bizarre things I found myself doing last week (Mourning Week) was having this sudden need for The Perfect Candle(s). I haven't bothered much with candles in a few years (I think there was some health/fertility/artificial scents have some effect on estrogen? reason for this, but I've pretty much forgotten what it was) but suddenly I realized that my house didn't smell like fall and IT WAS NOT OKAY. So Matt and I spent a good chunk of time and change driving around town to every store and seeking out the perfect candle to set the mood in the house. We finally settled on these two from Bath & Body Works.

We've probably burned through 1/2 to 2/3 of the Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin one and it is faaaabulous. And I'm already feeling sad for when it runs out. Also, when I came back to work Monday, there was a random Yankee candle (in a Ginger Spice Cookie (or something) scent) on one of my shelves. My office frequently becomes a collecting/dumping ground for Random Stuff, so I don't know where this came from, but instead of trying to find the rightful owner...yeah, I just started using it. And it's awesome. So...that'll teach you to leave your random stuff in my office.

2. In Post-Adoption-Failure-Recovery-News, I think I'm making progress. Yesterday I decided to update both my Infertility page and my About Me page...I've had a lot of new blog readers stopping by since...ya know...and those two pages have gotten a lot of traffic. And they hadn't been updated in like...months. Old news. So anyway. I wanted to update them, but I also try to avoid talking/thinking/typing about it. BUT. Yesterday I did it and I didn't even cry, so YEAH. I briefly typed out the one-sentence version of the sad story- TWICE- and no tears? Either I'm healing or I need to see a psychologist because my emotional frigidity has reached new levels. One of those. Let's go with the former.

3. I feel horribly under-prepared for Christmas this year. Since our Christmas plans all pretty much revolved around a) having a newborn, b) being on maternity/paternity leave, c) being really poor due to Expensive Baby Stuff, and d) being deliriously happy because we had a baby...and well, now none of that applies...I just don't know what to do with Christmas. Despite that, I'm going to decorate this weekend. Hopefully if it starts looking festive, festive feelings will follow and I'll get my normal level of Christmas (and birthday) excitement back.

4. Catching Fire comes out this weekend!!!!!!!!!!!! Matt, Mollyanne, and I have our tickets for the Saturday 12:15 p.m. showing. I know. Who goes to the movies at noon? Hopefully just us and not a lot of stupid noisy teenagers, that's who.

5. Matt's growing out his annual Winter Lumberjack Beard (with my full support...until I decide it's too scratchy).
Progress as of this morning
Growing out the beard is always highly entertaining because it means I get emails like this:

 Sorry, but if you don't think that the phrase 'beard holes' is hilarious, there's something wrong with you. We spend probably 80% of our waking time talking about the beard holes and it never stops being funny.

With that, I'm done. Have a great Wednesday, and may your beard holes not be too hurty.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

an outfit. and a reunion.

Going back to work was a fantastic choice. Yesterday was a great day- I was busy (but not too busy), had productive goals to work towards, and was surrounded by people who were ready to laugh, encourage, cry, or grab coffee-- whatever mood I was in at whatever minute, they were there with me. It was fantastic. I cannot overstate how much I love this job and how thankful I am to have it. I also cannot overstate how great it was to go home and do nothing except watch 25(ish) episodes of Parks & Rec. We finished Season 3...onto 4 tonight!

Today I'm wearing a fun new outfit (another reason working is great: you always have a ready excuse for buying new clothes!) and managed to convince Matt to take pictures of me this morning before we left the house. I felt like I needed photographic proof that I wear something other than my I just felt cute, so there's no shame in documenting that, right? Right!

On a chilly Tuesday (high of 61) in Georgia, here's what I like to wear to work:

Shirt | Pants | Boots
 These pants are the jam. They're basically leggings (all elastic waist, no zippers/pockets/what have you), so the comfort level is Code Red. BUT- they're a much thicker fabric than 'normal' leggings, so you can feel a lot more comfortable with the 'leggings as pants' thing than I normally would. Also they have zippers on the back of the legs, which you obviously can't see with my boots, but the zippers provide a certain 90s throwback that I really appreciate. Plus they make it a lot easier to pull the pants down and off over your giant feet if you happen to have giant feet...not that I do or anything...

Anyway. And of course, now that I go to find the link for the pants, I discover they're like $10 cheaper now than they were when I bought them Saturday. Of course. That's just how life works. Maybe I'll get another color now...

The bracelet is old and you can't even see my awesome rhinestone-y headband that makes me feel like a princess (got it at Ulta last weekend because you're never too old to pretend you're a princess, right? So get used to seeing this headband), but trust me- it's there. My necklace is a gift from a friend at church- she made it for me last week and sent it with a beautiful card. I love it.

I have a lot of freckles on my chest, evidently. Who knew?

In case you're wondering what kind of jacket a fashionista such as myself would opt to wear with an outfit like this, I'll let you know: this is what I grabbed on my way out the door. 

Although it makes me look like I have huge linebacker shoulders (or maybe linebackers don't have huge shoulders-- whatever football players are the really huge ones, that's what I meant), I still think it's fun. And warm-ish. I never really understand sweaters/jackets with non-full-length sleeves. Like I want my wrists to be really cold or something? Whatever. Obviously I bought it anyway (Loft, like 3 years ago) so I can't judge too harshly. Also, it's not that cold in Georgia. So it'll be okay.

So there you have it. My fun new Tuesday outfit. And in case it's not inspirational enough for you, there's always this:

Thank you Jesus- my brother-in-law is home from Afghanistan. The bundled-up girl (probably sobbing) is my sister and I am so, so thankful for the answered prayers that brought him and his troop home. I don't know if there's any video footage of their reunion (for some reason, Sarah's photo-and-video-posting on Facebook has really slacked in the last few days...???...weird.), but I was happy to finally see this picture. I mean, if Soldier-Family Reunion photos don't tug at your heartstrings, I think you might have problems or something. And when the photo is your sister? Dang. I am so happy for them.

So there you go. Fun outfits and soldiers coming home. You can't ask for much more, really.   

Monday, November 18, 2013

back to real life

After a week and a half of bizarre and emotionally-volatile time off, I'm back to work. I think it'll be good, although I'd be lying if I said I didn't spend some serious time last night trying to figure out how to turn watching Parks & Rec 18 hours a day into full-time employment. Oh well. It was a good run while it lasted. Relatedly, I'm a little bit mad at everyone on earth for not working harder to convince me to start watching Parks & Rec prior to last week. I mean, that show is freaking hilarious. And awesome. I feel like SOMEONE should have let me in on this at some point. But oh well- what's done is done, and now we're a few episodes into Season 3 and it gives me something to look forward to, so that's good.

In addition to watching ridiculous amounts of Netflix, I spent the rest of last week and the weekend pretty much doing more of the same: shopping, redecorating, sleeping, shopping, eating food I didn't cook, sleeping, shopping. Oh, and going to Starbucks. Couldn't let the BOGO week go to waste!

Thursday: Gingerbread latte
Saturday: Caramel brulee frapp

I don't really know what else to say. People keep asking how we're doing...I don't know how to answer that. Fine? Okay? Surviving? I haven't cried in x number of hours? We haven't yet started thinking or talking about our 'next steps.' Right now the thought of trying to adopt again makes me want to throw up repeatedly and punch my fist through a wall. It's been awhile since we've done any serious infertility treatment (other than our surgeries last year), but I already feel myself being drawn back to the siren song of my RE clinic...mainly because at least when infertility treatment fails, you only lose the hope of a chance at a potential baby...and not an actual living and breathing and crying and cuddling baby. I really just cannot do that again. NO. Ugh.

Of course, all thoughts and plans are subject to change on a whim. As usual. 

Now it's time to start thinking about work. And by that I mean going upstairs and catching up with all my awesome co-workers. And also working on my birthday wish list. And figuring out what we're doing for Thanksgiving. Oh yeah, and working. Busy day, I guess.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Distraction has been the name of the game this week. I mean, why deal with complex emotions and difficult situations when you can just pretend they don't exist? Exactly. I love how that terribly useful and profitable psychology degree comes in handy during times like this. Distract yourself! Deny anything bad happened! Deal with it later!! Winning At Life 101.

SO! How have we been passing the time on this lovely week off? On Tuesday I made the very wise and spontaneous decision to go get a massage. See, Matt wanted to go shopping at a tool store and I wasn't really in the mood-- BUT it just so happened that the tool store is located RIGHT NEXT DOOR to Massage Envy. I'm pretty sure that was some smart thinking on some developer's behalf: let's see, Jones...we need to balance out this strip mall. If we put a giant ugly tool store right here, what should we put next door? What will entice women to come along while their husbands ogle chainsaws? Bingo. Massage place. Brilliant.

I took my chances on it being the middle of the day on a work day and hoped I'd get a walk-in appointment. I did and it was so wonderful I can't even describe it. I may or may not have asked the girl doing my massage to move in/marry me/never stop. I don't even feel guilty about it, although she turned me down on all three counts (slightly bruised ego, but I've felt worse pain this week so I'll let it slide). Now I am busy scheming how I can drum up the $$$ (or work it out as a birthday/Christmas gift) for a Wellness Membership there. I know. Can you imagine anything as awesome as getting a massage EVERY MONTH? That there is something to live for. 

Have you ever known someone (or maybe this is you personally?) that shopped/budgeted out of a 'savings' mentality? Maybe there's a better term for it, but this is what I mean: "Oh my gosh!! I saved $200 on this dress! Now I can buy shoes, too!" Like...regardless of how much money they ACTUALLY have or have actually BUDGETED for shoes/dresses, these people tend to base their decisions on the hypothetical money they've "saved" and then re-spend that money? Does that make sense? Now this sort of works out if, say, you have a set $400 you're going to spend on clothes today/this month/whatever. Now if you go out and the dress you wanted really is $200 off and so you get it for $200 (then a) you are too rich for me; who spends that kind of money on clothes?), then I guess it's true that you really do now have $200 left to spend on shoes or whatever. But I notice that the people who do this generally don't have an actual budgeted amount of money to spend...they just tend to notice the 'savings' and then re-spend that. 

I'm probably making no sense. But let's move on.

This week I feel like I'm totally operating out of this 'spend your savings' mindset. Which is totally not "me" at all. But there it is. The thing is, we just spent weeks crunching numbers, redistributing funds, and totally re-working our budget in order to allow for the baby and her super pricey needs (primarily childcare, formula, and the increased cost of our health insurance). We had to work hard to free up a LOT of cash to fund those things.

But now?

No baby. No childcare. No formula.


Despite the fact that we earned the exact same amount this month as we did all the other months prior to this, suddenly I am RIIIICCCCCHHHH...because I won't have all these expenses that I'd budgeted for? It's really weird. But anyway. This is how on Tuesday I decided it was totally no big deal to go for a massage and follow it up with a minorly major shopping spree at Ulta. I mean, remember last week (oh gosh, was this only last week?) when I mentioned that I was converting all money into Cans of Formula? Well now I'm still doing that, only since I don't actually have to buy any more formula, it's like all the money is FREE FREE FREE. And a massage is only 3 cans of formula, so like...yeah. 

In conclusion, you should not ask me for any help with your budgeting anytime in the near future. We're going to require a Dave Ramsey intervention at some point.

In the spirit of spontaneity and distraction, I also decided that there is no time like the present for that living room renovation I've been thinking about since spring. I've been planning to ask for painters to paint the living room for my birthday present since I hate painting with the passion of 1000 fiery suns, but...well, whatever. If I wait til then, the Christmas decorations will be up and who wants to have to paint around a Christmas tree? No one, that's who. And I have nothing else to do this week, so LET'S PAINT THE LIVING ROOM!

That's why at 10:00 Tuesday night my living room looked like this:

Wow, this is probably the blurriest and worst picture on earth. Thanks, iPhone! Anyway, all the furniture was smushed in the middle of the room (including the PIANO, which Matt and I moved BY OURSELVES!!!!! Who needs a gym, anyway?), we taped the baseboards and vacuumed the cobwebs/dog hair off the walls (that is so gross, makes me feel like I've been living in a haunted house or something), and were totally prepped to wake up early Wednesday (you know, 10 a.m.) and get 'er done.

And we did!! By 10 p.m. we had two coats of paint completed, tape removed, outlet plates replaced, and furniture back- but in a slightly different configuration.

See...we still have the glider coming. Womp womp. Yeah, the one we special ordered for the nursery. I've been dreading the phone call telling me it's in and we have to go get it and then what the heck will we do with it since we clearly don't have a baby to rock in it? There's nothing I hate like spending a lot of money on a piece of furniture I'll never use and that will make me sad...

So I decided that we absolutely just HAD to find a way to put the glider in the living room. If we put it back in the nursery, I'd lose my mind. If we put it in the living room, it will be a fun and comfy new piece of furniture and it will be used and appreciated, with or without a baby. So while we painted, I brainstormed how we could free up a spot for a lovely new glider to have a home. (Luckily we ordered the glider in a dark gray fabric so it will match just fine.)

Luckily inspiration struck and with a few crafty maneuvers (turning a bookcase into a bookcase slash TV stand, meaning we got rid of the old TV stand and moved the bookcase to the TV 'spot' and then shifted a different bookcase down the wall and NOW THERE IS A FREE SPOT FOR THE GLIDER next to the fireplace) we have a fun and slightly re-mixed living room with room for our chair when it arrives!

 I seriously don't know what I did to make all these pictures so bad, but you get the idea. Now the room is a nice light gray (blue undertones) and feels so much brighter and more open!! I LOVE the new color...and am now in the market for a new rug because I'm sick of the old one, obviously. 

There's Matt in his PJs just now. Real life, people. But see how now the bookcase is holding the TV? Genius, right? (Go here to see roughly how it used to look)

The dining room chair is holding the place for the glider. Lola's portrait will hang over the glider...we just want to wait til it arrives so that we know how to place the picture. But I'm excited to have some new seating in the living room! Hopefully it won't stick out too much...but whatever. Who cares.

So anyway. Now that the walls are painted I am ready to start thinking about decorating for Christmas. In the past I never used a lot of greens, since the whole ROOM was green already and I didn't want stuff to clash/have too much of a good thing...but now I can! So I think I need to craft up some new stuff because it won't be long til it's socially appropriate to start decorating!

And thanks still for all of your continuing support and love. I seriously think that yall's prayers and support are the only reason we're functioning well enough that we can think about things like redecorating and holiday crafting right now. And that instead of losing my mind over the impending arrival of the glider, I was able to make an actual plan for it that doesn't make me sad? That's a miracle, people. So thank you so much for that. 

On a final and unrelated note, I think it's important that you know that my phone auto-corrects anything starting with 'ma' or 'ms' or anything else near those letters to "mwahahahaha." For real. And most of the time it's appropriate. I'm glad that iPhones can appreciate evil laughter as much as I do. The end.

Monday, November 11, 2013

two and a half days

Matt and I want to thank all of you for your constant stream of prayers and support the last few days. These have by far been the most awful days of our lives. Several times a day I find myself thinking something along these lines: "if this is the worst worst worst pain I can possibly imagine, then tomorrow will have to be better, right?"...and somehow that will help me survive another few minutes or hours. Or something. I probably don't even make sense.

Although we tried so very hard to be realistic about our adoption (remember The Plan?) and not get too emotionally attached to the idea of being parents...well...yeah right.

We were parents for two and a half days. We had a daughter. We held her and fed her and changed her diapers and didn't even bother trying to sleep the first night, we just took turns holding her. We said to one another: we waited five years for this baby...why waste time sleeping when we can be holding her? And for two and a half days that's what we did.

And now she's gone and we're back to being sad and lonely and even though it was only two and a half days, everything in the world reminds us of her. I tried to walk Lola this afternoon only to break down crying because it was cold outside, and the cold reminded me that it was cold in the hospital and we had to keep her wrapped up like a burrito because she made the saddest little squawks whenever she was cold.

I miss her so much. I think my heart will never be whole again.

And so we're home and we just sit around and cry and try to sleep and distract ourselves. We're watching ridiculous infomercials, we got Netflix, we're thinking about repainting the living room. I avoid the whole 'nursery-side' of the house like it has the plague. I'm afraid of my phone because I know there are a thousand pictures that I might accidentally look at and I don't know what to do with them. I want them off my phone, but not necessarily gone forever, but how do I do that without having to look at each one of them and put them somewhere? I have all of her stuff- from the bumpers, to her clothes, to things personalized with her name/monogram, to the paperwork naming us her legal guardians (that was fun for the one day it lasted)...what do I do with all of this stuff?

I'm overwhelmed with how cruel this whole situation seems. I'm not angry at our birth mom-- how could I be? It's no crime to love your child, to want to raise her. I can't find it in me to be angry about that. But I'm angry at the situation. I'm angry that if God in his infinite wisdom could SEE HOW THIS WAS GOING TO END...why make us go through it at all? Why all of the signs, the dreams, the 'God moments' that gave us hope and made us think that this was our chance? THAT I cannot handle. THAT is what hurts. This story has no redemption, no point other than pain. 

To cry out for a child for FIVE DAMNED YEARS and then get one for THREE STUPID DAYS? Is this some kind of sick joke?

And yet we keep clinging to God...old habits die hard, I guess. I have no idea what to even pray for. I keep squeaking out a teary Jesus, please and that's as far as I make it and I hope it's enough.

Thank you for every single kind comment, email, text, tweet, and...have I covered every medium of communication? I'm sorry that I've responded to exactly ZERO of them, but I promise that I am reading and appreciating each one. Responding is just more than I can handle right now. I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing right now-- processing? healing? moving on? denying? distracting myself? and so it seems like I'm pretty evenly splitting my time between distraction and crying...and hopefully at some point I'll move on to something more productive. In the meantime, we deeply appreciate your continued prayers and kindness. We feel broken and empty but definitely not alone, and we are incredibly thankful for that.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Devastating news

Hi everyone,

This is Erika's friend Mollyanne.  She asked me to post to share the devastating news with you that the birth mom changed her mind and decided to take the baby back.  Please join me in praying for Erika and Matt.  They are on their way home now.

Friday, November 8, 2013

she's here!

Sorry for the radio silence the last few days. Then again-- not really sorry. I've had a pretty dang good excuse.

Our sweet little girl was born yesterday morning, November 7, at 8:37 a.m. She is a teeny-tiny itty-bitty thing, only 19 inches long and 5 pounds, 9 ounces. She is one hundred percent healthy and one billion percent cute. She has as much hair as your average six-year-old, dimples on both cheeks, and the most perfect little rosebud lips you have ever laid eyes on. I can't share pictures of her publicly just yet, but if you would please just imagine the most beautiful baby you have ever seen and then multiply the cuteness by ten, you're probably getting somewhere near Ellison's ballpark.

It has been alternately wonderful and excruciating. We spent almost a full 24 hours with our birth mom and her family before the baby came-- it was an amazing opportunity for our families (including both my parents and Matt's parents) to get to know one another, to share our lives and our histories and our plans and our fears. I am so thankful for that time we got to share. Matt and I were in the room with our birthmom through the duration of her labor and delivery. Matt cut the umbilical cord when she finally arrived and we all sobbed together for quite a long time. 

 We were given our own room here in the hospital and are happily shuffling the baby between our room and the birth mother's room, giving both families the opportunity to hoard tiny baby cuddles and kisses (and change diapers). Today I have big plans to dress her up in something other than the hospital-issue way-too-big shirt she's been wearing since yesterday and am also scheming about doing whatever it takes to catch a glimpse of those dimples. I haven't slept since approximately Tuesday, so I look like something the dog dragged in, but when I'm holding that sweet baby I really don't care. Right now she's in her other mom's room so I have a few minutes to really admire those huge bags under my eyes in all their's really special. 

(I wrote the stuff above about 4 hours ago. Apparently I'm moving into the 'takes all day to write one miniscule blog' season of my life.)

She's back with us now and she's doing a little tanning for some jaundice, but at least they're letting her do it in our room! I swore I wouldn't let her go to a tanning bed until she was at least 3 (pageants, obvi.) (please no 'helpful' anonymous comments-- I am totally joking) but here I am being permissive so early...

Gotta go feed a baby. What a tragedy. :) In the last 24 hours I've become altogether abysmal at returning texts, emails, and phone calls. I almost feel guilty but then- no. :) But I thank all of you so much for your prayers, concern, and love during this time. We are so incredibly thankful, overjoyed, and still a wee bit terrified-- thanks for coming along for the ride.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Still no baby.

BUT- at least I went to bed BEFORE 9:00 last night and slept the WHOLE ENTIRE NIGHT!!! Woooo! It was a major accomplishment and I'm sure it will revolutionize my entire outlook on life today. Which is good, because I woke up to a less-than-pleasant situation. Or comment, as the case may be. 

Before we get to that- I heard that my post yesterday wasn't showing up in people's feed readers for some reason? Several people emailed/tweeted/texted wondering what was up and thinking that my non-blogging meant something had happened. Sadly...nothing's happened and I did blog at the exact same time I always do...only it wasn't showing up for some reason? No idea how to fix that, but in case you missed it-- I blogged yesterday. There was no major news or excitement, which is apparently why Blogger thought it wasn't worth letting folks know about the new post or something. Who knows. 

At any rate, I woke up this morning to a lengthy and vitriolic comment on yesterday's post. It really wasn't the best way to wake up. I only had about two seconds to enjoy the fact that I'd slept for over nine hours and then BAM- comment notification in the inbox. This should teach me to read emails in bed...

The screen shot is a little hard to read, but the comment is still live on the post if you want to go read it there

I must admit-- I haven't gotten a whole lot of negative comments in all of my years blogging. I know it's supposedly par for the course, but I guess my 'course' has been pretty non-controversial and since I have a relatively small 'audience,' I haven't been met with much negativity yet. But there's a first time for everything, I suppose. While my initial inclination was to just ignore and delete the comment, I ultimately (obviously) decided not to. While I don't think that the author of the comment was really looking to open up a dialogue (given the fact that he/she remained anonymous), I feel like she (for the sake of ease here, I'll pretend the commenter is female) did raise some valid points that are worth responding to. I would probably suggest that using a little bit less judgment, anger, and name-calling would go a long way in helping her 'cause', but I'll try my best to ignore all of that and hopefully clear up any misunderstandings about the things she mentioned.

First of all, I can only guess that the commenter isn't a regular reader here. I say that because I honestly feel like (and can/will 'cite' my sources) I have addressed both of her issues. But that's okay. I don't expect people to read through years (or weeks, as the case may be, since both of these issues have risen during the past month) of my writing...but then again, if you're going to attack someone, I would at least think you'd want to make sure you were making valid 'attack points,' right? 

The Birth Father Issue 

I think she makes a very good point in general. So often, we (and I mean a general, community-as-a-whole "we") do really run over the birth father and his rights/feelings/place in the adoption discussion. It is something that I personally am very aware of and concerned about. In fact, it's something I directly addressed a number of weeks ago, which is why I said: 

In my humble opinion, that is not "ignoring the fact that this baby has a birth father." It is not "too selfish to acknowledge that someone else is this baby's REAL parent." I am the first person that will admit it isn't my place to judge whether her birth father loves HIS. OWN. DAUGHTER or not. I have never stated that he didn't, nor attempted to villanize or judge his ability to parent. We do not know much about him at all, and we would never try to 'truck over' him just because we are "desperate for a baby." 

The fact is that-- and this is due to the laws in our state, not anything that Matt and I or anyone else has 'done'-- at this point, the birth father does not have any legal rights to the baby. As I discussed (and gave references to outside sources) here, at this point, the birth father could not take custody of the baby when she is born, whether or not Matt and I (or any other adoptive family) were in the picture. So if we 'back out', it's not like he 'gets' her. The baby would go to the state. The birth father does and will have the opportunity to proceed with the process of legitimization once the baby is born no matter where the baby is. It's true that in this state, birth fathers have a humongous lack of rights by virtue of their DNA, compared to birth mothers. However, I am not personally responsible for that and would suggest that contacting the Georgia Legislature would probably go much further towards correcting that issue than attacking random bloggers will. 

For the record, Matt and I are in 100% agreement that we could never in good conscious proceed with the adoption if we find that the baby's father is willing and able to raise her. How could we live with ourselves and tell our daughter we did what we thought was best if...we didn't? But at this point we don't know, so I would ask that you give us a little grace to figure things out. 

The Crib Bumpers Issue

First of all, the commenter begins by stating that "no one else here seems to be willing to say it..." ("it"=crib bumpers are dangerous, etc.) Well, that isn't true. I have had a number of commenters leave non-hate-filled, kind comments gently stating the exact same thing. Feel free to check out the comment thread on this post-- several people kindly suggest that I reconsider the bumper thing, as they are in fact not considered safe. I appreciate the willingness of these girls to point that out in such a mature and loving way-- they use a tone that can lead to adult discussion and dialogue. On this issue (or any issue), I certainly don't expect everyone in the world to agree with me and I don't expect that what I think is 100% correct or best-- but pointing out the truth in love is always the best way to start a conversation. Attacking rarely is. But anyway-- just so Anonymous knows-- people ARE willing to say they have a differing opinion, and I am thankful for that.

However, the fact remains that I also have already addressed this issue:

I know that bumpers are unnecessary and potentially dangerous! Of COURSE I know that! Good grief. I would never risk my future child's health and safety over something ridiculous like bumpers. Like many parents, I want the bumpers right now because they are CUTE. And because the baby won't be sleeping in her crib (once we even GET a crib, ha) for quite some time! She will be sleeping in our room (in a 100% safe, non-recalled Moses basket and/or pack and play) for the first few months, most likely. The crib will be a large piece of furniture taking up real estate in the nursery and I plan to have it cutely decorated so that it's nicer to look at. Once she actually starts sleeping in the crib, I will remove the bumpers. I will probably reattach them if we have a 'crib photo shoot' or something. But I really think that declaring me to be making a 'horrible parenting mistake' at this point is a little bit premature. Let's save that judgment for a situation that actually merits it.

Anyways. I think I've spent enough time on this. I really do not want this to turn into any name-calling or anything-- I think that while Anonymous's tone and choice of words leaves something to be desired, she obviously cares a great deal about babies, so I wanted to address the issues just in case anyone else was thinking the same thing. 

With that, I'm off to embark on another day of work. Have a good day!