Friday, September 30, 2011

In Sickness & In Health

It's been a relatively quiet week at our house as I've been knocked out of commission by the dreaded "change of seasons" cold.  I woke up Tuesday with a tingle at the back of my throat and by Thursday I was pretty much sleeping the day away.  Todd has been on full time doggy duty, cold medicine purchasing and dispensing, and otherwise taking care of all the miscellaneous household things that I have been sleeping through. 

Todd is the best person to have around when you're sick.  He's a wonderful caretaker with never ending patience and generosity.
Then again, I might be a little biased.

Todd and I met online in the winter of 2005.  The first conversation we ever had was about nailing jell-o to the wall.  That is not a joke, but it should give you some insight about the kind of sense of humor you are likely to see around here.  That is literally what we talked about.  Todd's wedding gift to me was the printed transcript of our entire first conversation and we both got a good laugh over how completely random it was.  It also went on for something like 3 hours. 

That first conversations led to more online conversations and then eventually phone calls that lasted all night long.  There were days I would hang up the phone and hop in the shower to go to work.  I have no idea how I survived that period in my life.  I broke all my rules for Todd.  Stupid dating rules about when to talk and how to talk and who should talk to who first.  It took a month for us to meet and when we did, it was at 4 a.m. for breakfast at Perkins.  Not one single thing about our relationship started off traditional.

It was easy, though.  It was always easy and it always felt right.  There were no fundamental issues between us.  Todd is the most easygoing person on the planet and he's the perfect complement to my occasional neurotic tendencies.  We're a team, and we've been a team from the beginning.  We both pitch in to make our household run, we both pitch in to make our relationship work.  I imagine that we'll both pitch in when this house is filled with dirty diapers and midnight feedings as well.  This is the natural rhythm that we fell into together, and it works so easily and so effortlessly and I cannot imagine it any other way.  I have said, from the very beginning, that I am more myself with Todd than I am with any other person on this planet - and that's the only way this marriage could ever work.

I am reminded of this, especially, in these days when I'm not feeling so great.  I am free to whine and pout and crab and sleep and Todd?  He just keeps on taking care of me. 

He's going to be such a great daddy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Blog # 2 From the Resident Nerd

So we hit WELL OVER the 250 mark (257 the last time I checked) which means that our little web of information must be starting to spread out.  For myself, to see the numbers keep going up is always exciting because even if someone just hits the "Like" button on our Facebook page, it still shows that they took the time to do so and to me, that's always a good thing no matter what.

So, now its time to get down to the meat and taters of it all.  What shall I write about?  I was actually ready to write about this last night but decided to just take the time to kind of get my words together first so it didn't seem like a total jumbled mess.  So, here goes!!!

I want to talk about friendships today.  We all have had or have them now in our lives.  But the one thing that is most evident to me is how when things come up in your lives, you can truly tell who your true friends are and are not.  In high school, I guess I would have considered myself not to be associated with one clique or another.  I was just kind of in the middle group that seemed to get along with everyone.  Now some 15 years later, I would still consider myself that way.  However, now I feel as if I am old enough to determine who my true friends are and who my acquaintance's are.  I have found that my true circle of friends is quite a small group really but what we lack in numbers, we more then make up for in strength and support.  Its these true friends who have been the most supportive and the biggest source of inspiration as me and Shell go through this whole process.

Basically, I already knew who my closest circle was but by going through and starting this process, it has been really impressive to see all the people who have come forward with words of support or even helping out by getting the word out.  Again, you will hear me say this a million and one times but I just feel as if I can't say Thank You enough to all the people who are there for us and to all the new people who have come forward to offer support.

OK, so now that the serious issue is done, now onto the rebuttal about the Jedi Mind Trick post my lovely wife Shell blogged about.  Well, I am still a Padawan yet so my full Jedi Mind Trick skills are far from enough to make her do that (definitely a nerd sentence right there ).  In fact, when she mentioned the whole theme of the basement, I literally pinched myself several times to make sure I was not dreaming.  So, there, now the air is clear on that. 

Also, I have decided to show my true nature by putting a couple funny pics at the end of each blog.  I am a firm believer in the power of laughter so that what ya have to look forward to at the end of my!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Our Facebook, and other outreach efforts have far exceeded our expectations.  I remember thinking about what outreach was going to be like and thinking that I'd never be able to do that, that we'd never be able to reach very many people, and - hoo boy - would that ever be way outside of my comfort zone.

What's interesting is how my comfort zone seems to be expanding.  I mean, there are some areas that are still beyond what feels comfortable to me, but I push myself little by little and allow this experience to help us grow. 

There is this saying in the adoption world that "we all get the children we are meant to have."  It's a  test of patience and a realization that this, none of this, is on my own schedule.  Learning how to give up my need for control, and embrace that idea -- that we all get the children we are meant to have, are part of this growth experience.

We're essentially in patience mode, for now, so we plan to take this opportunity to introduce a little bit more of ourselves to all of you.  Some of it will likely not be as deep and meaningful as others, but
we're hoping this will paint a more vivid picture of the kind of people we are, and the kind of parents we'll be. 

By the way, only 13 more Facebook "likes" until Todd writes again.  I know he has everyone waiting on pins and needles, but I may rope him into co-authoring some of these upcoming "getting to know us" updates in the very near future!  Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mean People Suck

Regardless of your personal views on homosexuality, I think we can all agree that this is unbelievably tragic, right?  My heart breaks for this child, this family, and all of the other families who have suffered the same fate.

I'm not a parent (yet), unless you count my furry kids, and while Oliver & Shadow sometimes behave like bullies, I'm pretty sure the intent and the consequences are drastically different.  Regardless, I may be speaking out of turn, as I don't have experience under my belt and cannot claim to have "been there" or "done that" - but parenthood is the goal here and I'm speaking from a place that wants the world to be a better place for my children.

Bullying has been around since the dawn of time.  This is not a new concept.  My own family will occasionally bring up references to times when I, myself, was a victim of bullying and how devastating it was for me and, perhaps moreso, for them to watch me go through.  It's interesting how time glosses over those memories and I have long let them go.  I am living proof that "it does get better" and someday you will be a stronger, more empathetic person for it.  My family used these experiences as teaching opportunities -- encouraging me to recognize how words and/or actions made me feel and to take care in not causing others to feel the same way.  I was (and am) lucky for their support and guidance.  I, obviously, could have gone in a completely different direction with this.

Times have changed though.  My experience with bullying was short lived and avoidable (it was also, comparatively, small potatoes).  I went home at the end of the day and that was the end of it.  Sure, it might happen again the next day, but there were at least 12 blissful hours of recovery.  That is not how the world is anymore.  Social networking has allowed kids to be in constant contact with each other, they are always plugged in and on top of that - the audience is vast.  It's not just whoever is within hearing distance anymore.  It's anyone, anywhere, in the world - really.  How do you cope when you can't ever escape?

Kindness, and respect for things and people who are different from you are such important teaching points for parents.  There's never an excuse for mean behavior.  There's never an excuse to use your beliefs as weapons, cutting down those who you feel are less than you are.  There's never an excuse to let fear dictate and excuse bad behavior.  It is possible to fully believe that you are right, without destroying anyone and everyone who you believe to be wrong.  We need to make it safe for our children to be who they are, and instill in them a healthy respect for the fact that that majority of people they meet in this life will not be like them.  And that's okay.  We aren't meant to be the same.  And we're not meant to judge one another -- that job has already been claimed by someone with far more authority than any of us, and He does a pretty darn good job of it. Leave it to Him, and in the meantime, approach the world with an intent of kindness and generosity.  Teach that to our children.

I don't know what the world is going to be like when we're at this stage of parenting. I don't imagine that bullies will be extinct then, and I imagine we're going to have to come up with our own plan for how to navigate those troubled waters -- protecting our child from bullies, and ensuring that our child is not a bully.  Our plan, for now, is to lead by example. 


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jedi Mind Tricks

When we bought our house, just over two years ago, I told Todd that the downstairs could be his "man cave" to decorate.  That quickly turned into "this tiny bar area in the basement can be yours to decorate":

I had some ideas about what I wanted to do down there.  Most of them involved large prints of classic movies like Wizard of Oz and Breakfast at Tiffany's.  Needless to say, this was not Todd's idea for what he wanted to do down there.  We agreed that we could hang a poster of "The Jerk", and I was willing to allow for one "Star Wars" poster, but beyond that - we were at a stalemate.

I have no way of knowing for sure, but I think he might have Jedi mind-tricked me. 

It started with this:

I made him this collage of all the swag he picked up at the Star Wars convention.  I gave this to him for Christmas last year, and it was the first actual piece of "art" to hang on our walls downstairs.

Then, for his birthday, I bought him these:

Iron Man and Gambit (from X-Men) to fill in another wall. 
Then, last weekend, we picked this little treasure up:

Captain America's shield - picked up for a steal at Marigold Days.

As we started thinking about how we were going to re-arrange things to make room for this on the walls, I found myself saying "You know, it would be kind of fun to go with a comic book theme in the basement."

I think Todd almost fell over.  At least that's how he acted. I'm not convinced that he somehow tricked me into thinking this was all my idea.  He's sneaky, that guy.

In any case, last night we found one more for our collection (on clearance!), which begins to fill in the last open wall and seals the deal on the comic book themed basement:

Further proof of this Jedi mind-trickery?
I think it looks pretty darn cool, actually.

What I love about this, more than the fact that it looks cool on our walls, is that this is such a good representation of the bond that Todd will share with our child(ren).  He can't wait to introduce all these favorite characters to our child, fostering imagination and a sense of awe.  I am the reader, but Todd is the storyteller.  I watched him make up a story for our dogs the other night, something about Oliver's heroic adventures in fighting off evil squirrels.  The dogs sat listening intently for about 5 whole minutes.  Todd has a gift!  I can only imagine the stories he will make up for our child, about his own heroes and the heroes he creates for them.  He and our child will share these stories, movies, and no doubt hours of make-believe playtime centered around these timeless characters. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Adoption on TV - Parenthood

One of my favorite shows (and as a pop culture junkie, the list of favorite shows is impressive) is Parenthood on NBC.  I'm a huge fan of Lauren Graham from her Gilmore Girls days and in general I find this show to be very sweet.  Season three kicked off with a continuation of a storyline where characters Julia and Joel are pursuing adoption.  In their first scene, they are making an adoption video and arguing over what information is relevant -- do we include the fact that we sometimes listen to Lady Gaga?  How important is the diversity of our music tastes, really?  I can tell you that, as a couple new to these adoption waters - this scene rang VERY true to us.  It's so hard to capture the essence of yourself, your sincerity and all of the little quirks and nuances that make you you.  I'm positive that we will not be chosen as adoptive parents based on whether or not we listen to Gaga - but it might actually be the thing that captures someone's attention.  What do we leave in?  What do we leave out?  I guess that's the benefit of having this blog -- here, you will get everything (including, at some point I am sure, an in depth look at our music tastes)!

The rest of that storyline isn't doing anything for me.  While I know it's (probably) meant to be funny, I'm not really crazy about the "buying the latte girls baby" bit.  It might just be that I've been learning and embracing the whole language of adoption, but it's also that -- that's not how it works.  We're not buying babies, and we're certainly not walking up to pregnant women and asking if we can buy theirs.  I'm interested in how this storyline will play out, but I suspect that in the end it will get the same adoption treatment as most TV shows give which is a shame.  Adoption - the process and the relationships within - is fascinating enough on its own.  A true-to-life portrayal would make interesting TV, I think.  Though, I'm a bit biased about that, I suppose.

In other news, while reading through the archives of Cathy & Dave's Adoption Journey blog this morning, I stumbled upon the fact that George Lucas, one of Todd's biggest hero's, is an adoptive father.  I think now we know the real reason why Todd finally jumped 110% on board!  How very very cool.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Now its Todd's Turn to Blog

Well, Time to keep up my end of the bargain and blog since we hit the 175 mark (We are now at 192 by the way).  So lets get started shall we.

Chicken is good........Peas are best from the garden.........and the thing that ties it all together, CHEESE!!!

But seriously, I thought I would put in my 2 cents about my adoption journey so far. Some words that come to mind first off are scary and exciting all at the same time.  At first, I was not very convinced when Shell brought up the words Adoption.  But after a few mini talks about it, I was about 80% on board with it.  Then came our first all day meeting and by this time I was about 90% on board.  The thing that really brought me over the edge was a speaker during the all day meeting.  I can't remember her name but I still to this day remember one phrase that she said:

"Would you rather have a baby in the stomach or a baby on the hip?"

That really hit home with me because it really brought home the whole point of adopting.  Its not about having a child with your DNA, its about making a family of your own.  And that fact really hit me the hardest and made me 110% on board with adoption.  Once we bring our infant home for the first time, they will be a Suhr no matter who gave birth to him/her.  I also feel as if this is a calling for us in that we have a great support system in place and just the way things have been falling into place.

Also, myself and Shell would like to thank everyone who has "Liked" and "Shared" our adoption FB page and the link to the website and the blog site here.  We started the whole outreach process a little nervous about what would happen and so far with just a week started, we could not be happier with the results.  Every night we look at the numbers and just see how much we have grown and every day we say Thank You to all the people who are out there promoting us.  We know its a long process but we look forward to sharing it all with you.

Well, I know alot of people who know me were expecting a more comedic post........Well, here are a couple pics for those people and maybe in the future, I may post another blog or 3.  Again, thanks everyone and lets keep this ball a rollin!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lightening Up

It has come to our attention that an unintended side effect of reading this blog is crying.  Time to lighten this thing up.  Here you go!

 Taken from the very appropriately named:

Four people are laughing at that right now, and one of them is me. 

If you're reading this, you likely already know that Todd has promised to write a blog entry when we reach 175 "likers" on Facebook.  I've been trying to give him some guidelines without infringing on his creative freedom, but when I asked him what he wanted to write about, his initial response was "chicken."  Right.  This is going to be interesting.

In the meantime, I am wondering if I can ask you to chime in on something for us? 
I made these business cards:


...and I have no idea what to do with them.  People mostly seem confused by them when we pass them out, and I'm not really sure where to post them.  My original idea had been to just toss them up in the air and let fate take control of the situation, but nobody seems to think that's a very good idea either.  So, let's hear it!  Your suggestions are welcome and much appreciated!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Little Victories

Our Facebook page hit 150 likers today!  This was a super secret goal of mine that I didn't share with anyone!  I am thrilled, excited, and eternally grateful.

Five months ago, when we were sitting in that Minneapolis classroom learning about how adoption works, the time when we would be actively searching for a match seemed like some sort of distant future time that was always just vaguely "out there."  Todd and I kicked around the adoption idea for almost a year before we actually started to make it happen.  I have had the notion, in the back of my mind, for years that adoption might be what I was meant to do.  I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 17 years old, so by the time I met Todd, I'd had practically a lifetime to wrap my brain around the idea that I might not be able to conceive my own children.  I was ready to adopt almost immediately. I might have been happy adopting before we even tried to have children on our own.  As it was, the minute we hit a crossroads, I knew exactly which path I wanted to take. 

Todd, however, didn't have a lifetime to wrap his brain around the idea of not having biological children of his own.  I owed him that time.  We had several conversations over a longish period of time and we talked with adoptive families and researched exactly what it was we'd be getting ourselves into.  Eventually the desire for a child on the hip became greater than the desire for a child in the belly - for both of us - and off we went.  Our tale is relatively low on angst, although I won't go so far as to say it's without its fair share of sadness.  I don't think that this is a necessarily easy decision to make - for anyone - and even though it's something I feel called to do, something that I know is exactly the right decision for us, it's still a decision bursting with complicated emotions. 

We're ready to be parents.  We are excited about openness - a concept that scared the heck out of us at first, but which now seems like a gift and an incredible opportunity.  My family of origin is non-traditional so the possibilities of how to shape these relationships are endless to me.  We want to be respectful of boundaries and not come off as overly-enthusiastic, but the truth of the matter is that we're thrilled at the idea of building and nurturing these new relationships. 

We had the pleasure of having my dad, stepmom, and siblings visit this past weekend.  Six extra people were packed into this house - filling the bedrooms (minus the nursery, which is currently in a state of wallpaper removal madness) and the couch downstairs.  It was wonderful to spend time with them, it's not an opportunity we get very often.  We enjoyed catching up, playing Rock Band, and watching football.  The house was full and vibrant and alive with people.  When they left this morning, it felt too quiet.  I was sad that the bedrooms were empty again, that the house was silent.  I guess this is as good of a sign as any that we're ready to bring this house alive with happy baby noises and the pitter pat of children's feet.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Like Giants

I wrote this on the first anniversary of 9/11 - and every word of it remains true:

In those days, we finally chose to walk like giants & hold the world in arms grown strong with love & there may be many things we forget in day to come, but this will not be one of them.

In memory of the events of September 11, 2001 & the days that followed. For those lost & for those left behind & for the countless people throughout the world who stepped forward in body, mind & spirit & chose to walk like giants.

 ~Brian Andreas

I bought this poster just weeks after the events of September 11, 2001. I've been a longtime fan of Brian Andreas and as usual, his words struck a chord with me. All proceeds from the poster went to the American Red Cross and while it seems so very little in the broad spectrum of things, it felt good to give a little.

I have no idea what it was like that day. What it has been like since. I've never even been to New York (or Washington, DC or Pennsylvania for that matter). As it is, my life was left unscathed by the tragedies of that morning, and yet I still feel as though it has been forever changed.

In the days that followed the horror of 9/11, it was all I could think about, all I talked about, all I thought about. I prayed to God for weeks afterward (and all through the anthrax scare that followed) to please not let the world end now. Please keep us safe. Please help us. I was terrified and horrified, sad and angry. Yet, I still have no idea--I am sure.

In the months that followed the agony faded. I didn't think about it every day. Some weeks I may not even think about it at all, though those were rare. My life resumed its normal pace. I laughed and danced and drank and feasted. Life, as I knew it, has gone back to quasi-normal. However, I still can't resist an article in the news about it. I'm stil inexplicably drawn to the specials on TV about it. I can't read enough I can't see too many documentaries. I'm still trying to put it together though I'm not sure what it is that's broken. I want to understand. I want to not forget that this wasn't just an action movie--343 firefighters died at the WTC. For real. 23 policemen lost their lives. Thousands of others--civilians just living their ordinary lives on an ordinary day--died. This wasn't a movie set, it was real life. Real people. Real heartbreak.

Nobody talks about this stuff anymore. When I mention it, I'm told that it's a "ready-made downer" and that our government has exploited it so much that it's already lost meaning. Is this how I'm supposed to feel about it? Am I supposed to not want to think about it or study it because it's depressing and it's gotten too much attention already? Is this really where all this has led to? When I want to watch documentaries on 9/11 my roommate gives me evil looks and moves to hibernate in his bedroom muttering "tragic, yes. Do I want to watch a tv show about" in a tone that indicates he's got much better things to do than relive the events that left him unscathed a year ago as well. Does this mean we should leave the pain to those affected by it and go on with our lives like it never happened? Choose Dreamcast games over PBS documentaries because "we're tired of being sad about this?" Is the most valuable lesson that we have learned in the last year that--if it didn't affect you directly you should just pretend like it never happened at all?

I want to think not. So I keep reading, keep watching the documentaries, keep trying to soak up as much information as I can about it. I want to read about the 36 year old widow with 6 children who is choosing, this September 11, to celebrate her husband's birthday in heaven rather than mourn the tragic fate that befell him one year ago today. I want to cry for the firefighters widow who bravely tells the nation that her husband spent his entire life preparing for that day, and of course for all the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 who unwittingly, but unflinchingly, became heroes that day. I want to cry about it because I'm afraid of the numbness that lies on the other side of this sorrow. I want to cry about it because it deserves to be cried about. I want to cry about it because I was very very lucky that day to make it through so completely unscathed while others across the country--and across the world--lost a co-worker, a f riend, a brother, a sister, a daughter, a son, a mother, a father. I want to cry because on top of everything, the events of 9/11 stripped me of an innocence that I'd never even been aware that I had.

I also want to cry because there was such beauty in the face of such horror. I want to cry because for the first time in my life I witnessed people rise to the occasion and shower those around them, and those far from them, with kindess. I watched bloodbanks overflow and read tales of people who packed up and headed across the country without a second thought--to lend their hands in New York. I want to cry because Wal Mart ran out of flags. I want to cry because we have heroes now. Real ones. I don't want to forget and I don't want to pretend like it never happened. I don't want to lose this empathy and compassion. I don't want to forget the greatness that I saw in people in the days after--the way they walked like giants and wrapped love-strong arms around the world.

Perhaps most of all, I don't want to forget the events of September 11, 2001 because it's the most poignant illustration of how important it is to love the ones you love. Let them know. Let it show. Live your life. Be happy.

God Bless.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Quote

So...about the quote.  You know, the quote.  You've surely noticed it by now.  I have it plastered on just about everything related to our adoption journey.  You've seen it on our adoption website, and you've seen it here, and if it looks familiar to you, it's probably because you're familiar with Brian Andreas and/or Storypeople so you've also probably seen it here

I love this quote.  It is the perfect representation of what our vision of our family looks like.  It's also a representation of the families that we've come from.   We love to laugh - loud, and from the belly.  And we love to share this laughter with the people we love.  In fact, it might be said that it's an expression of love - this laughter, and how we share it.  We love noisy family gatherings with 20 people talking all at once as the volume level rises to a dull roar.  I remember falling asleep as a child, to the sound of my family playing cards, laughing and yelling.  To this day, it's still one of my favorite sounds to fall asleep to (I actually can't sleep in a silent room).  This quote is so us.

I've been holding on to this quote for years.  I don't remember exactly when I first saw it, but I think may have been before I even met Todd.  I wrote it down on a little blue post-it note at work.  The little note under that says "Baby Room".  This quote has been earmarked for something like this for a long time.  The post-it note has survived about 3 office moves and currently lives in a pile of clutter on my desk (with the smiley face ring, the salt, and the pile of Keith Urban concert pictures).  I couldn't have known when I found it, how much it would come to mean to us, or how we would wind up using it.  In that respect, I feel a little bit like it found me - and then waited patiently for us to get to this point.  In any case, we're finally putting it to work for us and it is more relevant and meaningful to us now than ever before. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

In the Beginning...

Five months ago Todd and I were sitting in a little classroom in a Minneapolis office building taking our first itty bitty baby step in our adoption journey.  It was just an informational meeting - a high level overview of the services and programs that the adoption agency offered.  We'd done a lot of talking about adoption, a lot of reading, but we still didn't really know what we would be in for.  I remember the moment the presenter told us a popular way to do adoption outreach was through craigslist.  Todd and I looked at each other, our eyes wide with surprise.  CraigslistReally

We left that informational meeting with a good feeling.  We felt pretty confident that we'd found a good fit with the agency and we were ready to move forward.  We knew we would be entering into the infant adoption program - the only thing we had trouble wrapping our brains around was the outreach idea.

Craigslist? Really?

As we walked out the door of that Minneapolis office building, Todd turned to me and said "I know we got our dog off of Craigslist, but do you really think we could find a baby there?"  We were both skeptical.  At that time we resolved that we would just go into the waiting families book, outreach was too far outside of our comfort zone.

Over time, something has shifted in us.  We've gotten more comfortable with the idea.  Maybe it's that we've gotten more educated, but I also think that it's something we've become inspired to do through other people's stories and our own decision to fully embrace this experience.  We believe that adoption is something to get excited about - so we've decided to step far outside of our comfort zone and make the most of our resources. 

Last night we launched our Facebook page - I'd had it locked and loaded, ready for distribution just waiting for the green light from our adoption worker.  We've spent the last 24 hours watching people "like" it and "share" it.  We've seen friends of our friends, strangers to us, outreach on our behalf and suddenly this thing feels so much bigger than us.  We are humbled, inspired, and bolstered by the love of our friends and family and the kindness of strangers.  Thank you - is not a big enough sentiment to express our gratitude. 

We have some other outreach projects in the works.  I ordered business cards and we're considering putting magnets/decals on our cars.  And, oh yeah - it turns out that Craigslist idea wasn't so crazy after all.  We did this tonight:

The sky's the limit!