A Little R&R


“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along,
listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”
Pooh’s Little Instruction Book

At first glance, this photo may not look very special to you – just a little boy sleeping in a recliner. In reality it is a whole lot more.

This is the little man. Relaxing. As tension-free as he can get. He looks comfortable and natural, not tight from spastic muscles. The crossing of his legs might appear very nonchalant, but it would have taken him multiple tries to get into that position. It is purposeful.

The normalcy of this particular photograph was so striking it was immediately sent to the grandparents. We just had to share this triumph. Before the little man, I would never have considered just being comfortable a triumph. Now I understand how much those things mean when life isn’t “normal.”

My husband decided to move this recliner into our living room to increase his gaming relaxation during my second ill-fated trip to Texas. His intention was for the little man to sit beside him in his special chair, but the little man just wasn’t having any of that. He insisted on sitting in the recliner. I can’t blame him – the recliner is “his” and usually lives in his room.

Now he won’t sit anywhere else.

Our solution? Well, we are taking the chaise off of our sectional to make a permanent spot for the recliner in the living room. I’d fill the entire room with recliners if it would mean more relaxed moments like the one captured in this image. [No. This does not mean we can turn the living room into a theater, husband.]

Nostalgia Week: Art!

My daughter’s illustration of her family. Bo was the cat; you can tell because he has extra legs. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to date this so I can only guess she was maybe three years old.

She was never really interested in taking time to draw people, so everyone looked like this for several years. Dad kind of looks like Mr. Potato Head missing his parts.



Nostalgia Week: Cute Kids, Three Generations

I can’t have a nostalgia week without sharing some photographs of myself as a child. Turns out I don’t have a lot of photos in my house though; they are all still with the people responsible for my childhood. The ones of my mother and I that I’m sharing with you today come from a random album put together by my maternal great-grandmother. They may not be the cream of the crop . . . but you wouldn’t have known that if I didn’t just tell you.

So, three generations – my mom, me, and the daughter. I’m not including the little man because I’m not comfortable putting his baby photos online.


Click on it to enlarge our adorableness.
The thing that sticks out the most to me? My kid is posing; at three months old she was already a ham. Also, apparently hair skips a generation.

Let’s Talk About Adoption (Again)

stephanie 8x10
The PlayfullyTacky kids. Brought together by adoption.

There is a major adoption controversy happening locally right now – a very sad story with many people in the wrong. I intended to write about that today, but had difficulty getting anything on paper. I’m too emotionally connected to improving the adoption system to communicate any intelligent thoughts. Still wanting to write about the subject though, I’m going to talk about some more things to think about when considering adopting. It is important to prepare as much as you can and listen to the experts giving you advice – an adoption failure is devastating.

Remember: When I approach the adoption issue, I’m thinking about adoption through the foster care system. This is what my family has experience with. Similar posts: 10 Questions to Consider When Thinking About Adoption and 5 More Questions to Consider When Adopting.

The following questions come from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

Am I interested in adopting a sibling group? Would I consider adopting a sibling group in order to get the age of child I am interested in?
If you are going to be adopting through the foster care system, this question will likely come up at some point. Although I’ve heard some discouraging stories, we were never pressured to consider a sibling group in any way. I’ve mentioned before that our social worker sent us children outside our “specifications,” but they never pushed us. This is worth thinking about before though – really thinking about. Even if the child you are planning to adopt does not have siblings currently up for adoption, they may in the future. It is not unusual for one child to be cleared for adoption prior to their sibling group. Are you willing to consider taking more children? Are you willing to consider it if the issue arises in the future? If your answer is no, I advise staying away from children who have siblings in the system unless you are willing to continue to facilitate that relationship.

Would I be willing to have on-going contact (open communication) with a child’s birth parents?
Ties with the birth parents are severed once a child is adopted through the foster care system, but I want to talk about their foster parents. It is a thankless, wonderful job. Your child’s former foster parents can be a wonderful resource for you, if they are willing to be in contact (not are all). This is especially true if the child has been placed with them for a while or if they are the first placement for the child. Don’t shut the door on them just because he/she is “your” child now. Foster parents aren’t here to step on your toes.

Could I parent a child who may have been sexually abused, physically abused and/or neglected? Could I parent a child that has an on-going medical issue, may be developmentally delayed, or diagnosed with a developmental disability? Could I parent a child who may have been exposed to drugs and alcohol in utero?
I want to make something very clear. Unless you have dealt with any of these issues personally before, you do not know. Okay? YOU DO NOT KNOW! There is no book, no class, and no degree in the world that can make you an expert on working with abused, neglected, delayed, or disabled children until you have experience working with those children. Even that specific child, as everyone is different. You will need help. You need to accept help and prepare for help. You cannot shut yourself off from others just because you are sure you know enough. YOU JUST DO NOT KNOW!

The following questions come from the Adoptive Families of the Capital Region, Inc. (AFCR).

Is it possible to talk with families who have adopted from the program you are interested in? Can you talk to parents that did not have a completely positive experience with the agency?
Check into this for sure! If you are working with your local DHS, you will be able to find many people who didn’t have a completely positive experience (really, does a “completely positive” experience even exist in a situation like this?). Our local office has picnics for families considering adoption, foster families, and adoptive families. A simple call out to your friends on Facebook will probably turn up several people who have experience or know people who do. Follow up on these connections! There is nothing like hearing about the process from people on the other side. If nothing else, seek out blogs and articles where people talk about their experiences. Sure, the exact facts might not be the same, but DHS is DHS; it will be helpful.

What post adoption services are provided?
Let’s be honest here, probably nothing. When you walk out of the courthouse, you will be on your own to find a support system, find resources, and navigate the system (if you are still in it, like we are due to the little man’s disability). Again, don’t shut yourself off. Adoption is something to be proud of; you don’t have to pretend like it never happened and you aren’t still adapting to your new family. I mean, geez. We tell parents of newborns to seek help when they need it, the same applies to you.

Cold Hard Cash

So, let’s see. . .
The daughter needs braces: $5,500
The house needs siding: $12,000
The little man needs a van: $35,000
I need a vintage Hermes Birkin bag: $15,000

Okay, that last one might be better classified as a “want”
or, more appropriately, a “never gonna happen.”


Why am I telling you all this? Well, we are starting a number of small ventures to raise extra money – freelance and academic writing, computer repair, a second work-from-home job, a GoFundMe campaign for the van – and one important thing that will affect you, dear readers.*

Mario Coins
Am I asking you for money? No, not directly. In the next few weeks you will start to see ads appear on Yes, I’m monetizing this blog. I avoided doing it for a long time, but at this point every little bit of revenue will help in a big way (and I can assure you, the revenue will be only slightly above negligible). Don’t worry – all of the content remains free and I’ll try to keep the annoying-factor down as much as possible.

I’m researching my best options right now, so you will probably see ads jumping around on the page until I finalize what I like best. I’m also in the middle of a redesign. If you aren’t reading this on, go check it out! I’m open to comments and suggestions. I especially want to know if something doesn’t work on your end.

So, get ready for some changes to the site. I hope you will keep reading my tacky tales; I enjoy writing them.

*Plus, how can a anonymous wealthy benefactor make all of our dreams come true if I don’t post about it? Be logical, people.

Romance, etc.

So, what did you all do this fine Valentine’s Day weekend? Go to the movies to see cheap mommy porn? i.e. Fifty Shades of Grey. [Yes, I’m judging you. Sorry.]

We did . . . well, pretty much nothing. We aren’t really big on celebrating Valentine’s Day (except for the candy) and even less so now that is involves getting a babysitter. I love a nice dinner and gift as much as the next person, but I prefer it on a night not too busy and full of expectations.

I’m not a completely emotionless robot though, so I did fulfill part of my social obligation and purchase a card. My husband didn’t get me a thing. Don’t worry, this doesn’t bother me. He is always the romantic one who goes above and beyond. I’m the kind of person who picks up a wilted bouquet and eats half of the chocolates on the way over.

I think my card reflects my sentiments well.

So, what did we do on the day? I got up early and went to a Junior League literacy event while the husband and the girl started cleaning her room and taking apart her bed. She is upgrading to a queen. We ended up playing bed-around-the-rosie and ended up with a new spiderman bed set for the little man and spreading-out room for the girl. I also made a trip to the last day of a children’s consignment event. It was really picked over, so I only found a couple of things. We made $150 from this sale though, so I’m thrilled.

After tearing the house apart then putting it back together, finishing our taxes, losing hot water and researching how to fix it, making a trip to Lowes for parts, and picking up delicious hamburgers for dinner, we settled in for the evening. A bottle of wine and Winona Ryder triple feature – Heathers, Beetlejuice, and Girl, Interrupted – rounded out the evening.

After putting beds together all day, the husband went to bed at 10 and I finished the last movie by myself. Me, the dogs, and the rest of the wine. Then I ate a bowl of ice cream left over from last weekend’s sleepover, turned on a documentary about a toy museum in Vermont, and fell asleep on the couch. That last part was unintentional.

The Wedding Polaroid

Ya’ll, I wrote this post about a certain photo. Unfortunately, when I went to get said photo out of the box it has resided in for twelve years, it wasn’t there. I actually don’t have a clue where it could be. Not one to waste effort though, I’m sharing this post anyway. Instead, I’ll share this photograph. Add in a layer of marriage/baby-induced terror and you’ll get the idea.


If I ever do find the missing photo, you will be the first to know.

This is the only photograph I own from my wedding day. I only own one photograph from my wedding day. It is a polaroid taken by the justice of the peace. My parents and in-laws may have taken other photos, but I don’t remember and – either way – this is the only one I own.

Eighteen and pregnant, on summer break from my first year of college, I really didn’t want to plan a wedding. I had to speed up the process of planning a life, so my brain was pretty busy. I also didn’t want to stand up in front of the church and flaunt my “mistake.”

I don’t know why I thought getting married in a conference room at the courthouse by a justice of the peace who was dressed like he was headed to the golf course was the best option. If I had it to do over again, we would have eloped. I had class that morning though. Yes, I went to a summer chemistry class at the local community college a couple of hours before I got married. It is all seems so absurd now.

I have trouble remembering my anniversary because the courthouse was closed on the day I wanted to get married. It still confuses me to this day. Plus, I’m stuck with a date in June. I’m so not a June bride.

I also don’t know why I decided to get married in that dress.* I absolutely regret that. I won’t be too hard on myself though – I was still figuring out my style and was experimenting with a sort of hippy-chic look. Plus, I as a fat girl dealing with a growing baby bump, I was probably just happy to be in something comfortable. I actually just donated that dress to Goodwill a couple of weeks ago; it had been hanging in the back of my closet since that day.

For years afterwards, I thought I would have that traditional wedding. We even saved money for it and planned the event for our fifth anniversary. By then though it just didn’t matter anymore. In fact, it seemed like a colossal waste of money. We had already been married for five years; why did we need to pretend like we were starting fresh? In the end, we took the money we had saved and spent a luxurious week in Chicago [my favorite city, worldwide]. It was an excellent decision.

So, what did I like about my conference room wedding? It was short and planning was nonexistent – I just had to make an appointment. It was cheap. I think we paid $50? I can’t remember exactly. It was low-key. When it comes to big events like this I prefer low-key and simple. We had enough behind-the-scenes drama and didn’t need the hassles of a full-scale wedding.

*I guess you will have to use your imagination.

Holiday Recap

We had an exceptionally good Christmas.

For starters, the little man experienced the magic of Christmas for the very first time. I wrote last year how I hoped to expand the little man’s Christmas experience. He understands gifts, but everything else just seemed like an anomaly to him – nothing special. I wish I could say I figured out how to do that, but no, another year made the difference. We took our annual drive through our town’s light display – the Sherwood Enchanted Forest Trail of Lights – and suddenly a look of Christmas wonderment came across his face. I saw it, you guys; I saw the Christmas magic in his eyes. Success!

On Christmas day, my parents, my mother-in-law, and my sister-in-law came to our house for gift exchange and food. What did we eat? Prime rib, brussels sprouts, macaroni and cheese, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, asparagus, sausage rolls, apple pie, coconut cream pie, and two kinds of fudge. [What are we still eating as of Sunday evening? Prime rib, brussels sprouts, macaroni and cheese, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, asparagus, sausage rolls, apple pie, coconut cream pie, and two kinds of fudge]

The daughter already knew she was getting a GoPro from one set of grandparents and a pair of mint green high-top converse from us, but she didn’t know about the two pairs of Bobs from the other set of grandparents. All items she had requested. Her biggest hit of the day however, was a marshmallow shooter. I like to spoil my kids at Christmas, but I’ll always argue that what you get doesn’t have to be expensive. Most of her stocking stuffers, for example, were things I had traded beauty samples for on a swap site.

The little man didn’t really have a favorite gift of the year. He loves to unwrap and then he likes to sit with his toys surrounding him in a big pile. Like he is the newly crowned king of the toys. And if he sees something else on the floor that is his, he will point at it and say “mine” until you add it to his pile. He doesn’t care what is in the pile at all, but this year he got a tool box, doctor’s kit, and Captain American action figure. We bought him a small trampoline – yay for toys that double as therapy tools.

The husband and I exchanged our customary “as seen on tv” gifts – more about that on Wednesday – and they were a hit, as usual. I filled his stocking with a rape alarm a la Gavin and Stacey while he got me a new sunglasses holder for my car (I broke the other one and have been driving with it hanging open for a year). I rounded off his gifts with a new drill (as requested) and a framed green beetle (real). He surprised me with a teacup set I had been wanting – he doesn’t care for my teacups, so I was surprised to see them under the tree.

Plus, for the first time ever, I picked out a gift for my sister-in-law that she actually liked. More than liked – she was excited about it! See, my sister-in-law is difficult to buy for and has cerebral palsy too, so her emotions about her gifts show on her face. It doesn’t hurt our feelings, but it was awesome to be able to hit the jackpot this year. I had a stroke of genius and got her a lounging/floating thing for the new pool they are putting in.

We didn’t take one single photograph. When they left, we napped and it was glorious.

Now comes the worst part of the holidays: taking everything down and having to wait until next December to do it all again.



My little girl-butt turns twelve on Saturday. Unbelievable, I know. We celebrated with a few of her friends at a painting party last weekend and will be taking her out for the brunch of her choice on the actual day.

In honor of this special occasion, I want to share twelve cute things she said when she was little (once upon a time I used to blog her nonsense). Just thinking about some of these things melts my ice-cold heart.

  • My finger tastes good because of the play-dough.
  • That television isn’t on. Maybe it’s a clapper. [claps in an effort to turn on the television]
  • Everything I’m saying to you is a sentence.
  • While watching television, Dad jokes that a song playing is “old school.” She looks at the television and says: Yeah, that is a school. You can tell it is old. That is an old school.
  • Titter! [Translation: Thank you!]
  • Yah-der! [Translation: I love you!]
  • Dabu! [Translation: Grandma!]
  • Rachel Ray is going on vacation and – guess what! – we can join her!
  • [yelling] Come in here and turn me something on that isn’t the damn old news!
  • Daughter: Did you watch the thing to see who won to be president?
    Mom: We didn’t elect the president yet; that was just the debate.
    Daughter: Yeah, they argued. [gestures with hands to indicate back and forth] But they tied so now they have to do it again.
  • You have a habit of yelling! [aside] Just like Daddy!
  • I’m gifted. That means I’m smarter than you.

Christmas Past

For a short time, the daughter had a due date of Christmas Day. She was actually born on December 20th by scheduled c-section. Christmas 2002 was fun, scary, busy, and painful all rolled into one. My legs were still swelling from retaining water – pretty bad, actually, but the doctor didn’t take me seriously – so holiday celebrations were difficult. The daughter got a huge Clifford doll from my parents and we took photographs of her riding it. She was asleep, of course. We decorated a tabletop tree, put up a string of lights, and did tiny stockings. It was a simple holiday.

This year we had the bright idea to set the Christmas tree up in our master bedroom. This meant our all-over-the-place-walking-child would stay out of the tree. It also had the added bonus of allowing me to snuggle in front of the tree every night. When Christmas morning rolled around, we all sat on the bedroom floor opening presents. Right next to the television stand with the sharp corners. That was in the room so our daughter wouldn’t trip and fall into it. . . You can see where this is going. She caught her forehead right on the corner and we spent half a day in the emergency room waiting for an x-ray. It was just a flesh wound, but she spent the next couple of week with a nasty bump/bruise and bandaid on her head.

Our first Christmas in our own home. Well, one we owned anyways. We moved in just before Halloween, so things were still a little bare around the holidays (apartment to house is a big change). We decided to stay home on Christmas day and stop the grandparent shuffle. Eventually my parents decided they would come to us – just couldn’t bear to be away from us! – and we made spaghetti with Cajun meatballs. It was delicious. Now, everyone comes to us and the husband cooks a massive meal. It is fun, but I’ll always look back on that low-key holiday fondly.

Our first Christmas with the little man. Nothing special happened this year, but it is the first holiday enjoyed by our family in its current form and the first time I had to buy for presents for two kids.

I had my median sternotomy with thymectomy in early December and was just starting to feel alive by Christmas time. Outside, the neighborhood was covered in more inches of snow than we’ve seen in recent years, but – sadly – I could only enjoy it from my couch. We had the family up for dinner and opened presents. Thanks to pain killers, I think I enjoyed most of it. Can’t really remember many details though. There were coordinating sock monkey pajamas for the kids, a bow for the daughter, and a small ball pit for the little man.