I am happier than I've been in a long time.

Busier, Tireder, but also so much happier.

This week has been slightly insane...

On Monday morning ML took the puppy and headed to Vegas to spend some time with his dad. I think I wrote about our emergency trip to Vegas earlier this summer. That was just the beginning. His dad has been in and out of the ICU since then. Congestive heart failure doesn't get better, it only gets worse. We are hoping for as much time as we can get, but the reality that life is fragile is becoming very clear. His dad has been depressed realizing that he might not regain the quality of life that he had. Thoughtful ML knew that our puppy would be the best chance to cheer his dad up, so he packed the car and headed off.

I miss him like crazy, but am so grateful that he can spend this time with his dad.

On Monday night I got a call from Bestie that her fever had returned. She'd called her OB and was on orders to head to the ER. She'd been sick for weeks after giving birth, but got better after they discovered that she had an atypical uterine infection. The fever was back. I left work and headed to her house. I convinced her to let me keep Little One, since the ER is no place for a two year old to hang out.  I debated sleeping at her house, but ended up heading back to my place so that I could keep an eye on HBear. I curled up with Little One, sang a few songs, and she was sound asleep. It was the sweetest thing to sleep with this precious little girl, although every time she moved I woke a little.

At 6am on Tuesday morning, HBear came flying into my room yelling for me to get up fast, there was a fire in the kitchen.

microwave innards
In my sleepy stupor I jumped out of bed, ran to the kitchen, and discovered that the microwave was on fire. Not something IN the microwave on fire... The Microwave itself was on fire! There were flames! I grabbed the fire extinguisher and quickly covered the kitchen in white chemicals.

HBear was extremely distressed, I was just tired and confused. The cause of the fire was the insulated metal coffee mug that she had put into the microwave. I don't remember when exactly I learned that metal can't go in the microwave, but I can assure you that I knew at age 17 that metal in a microwave will cause sparks and a fire. I made sure that the fire was out and went back to bed. Little One slept through the whole thing. Thank god that I decided to stay at my place.

Bestie ended up being admitted to the hospital for IV antibiotics, and in order for her baby who she is breastfeeding to stay with her she had to have another adult, her husband, with her to care for the baby.

Little One and I spent the morning together, then at lunch I passed her off to her babysitter and headed home to sleep. I was exhausted. I had meetings in the evening, then picked Little One up on my way home at 9pm. We enjoyed another sweet cuddly night together.

On Wednesday, I went to HBear's Back to School night. Honestly I was nervous to go without ML so I invited my mom to come with us. There were only 5 families who showed up, which was sad really, but meant that we got to talk one on one with each of her teachers. She is at a continuation high school which is so different than my experience in school. It was a hard night for HBear and she actually broke down in tears at one point. At the same time that she desperately wants attention I think that our focus on her is also overwhelming. We made it clear to her teachers that we are committed to supporting her and expect their support as well. I can only guess that the teachers are going to give a little extra to the students who they know have support at home.

Earlier on Wednesday I took HBear to an interview for a job working at a local afterschool program. I'd actually arranged it all before she arrived here, but all she knew was that they offered her a job on the spot. I think she felt really good about it. And I feel really good knowing that she'll be busy and productive between the time school gets out and I get off work.

Tonight was hectic, getting off work, eating dinner, and rushing to my Resolve meeting in time. No one came which is disappointing and makes me wonder what it would take to get people to come. But it was okay because I would have had to leave early to get HBear to the church youth group that I insisted she try at least once. We told her that it is important to have multiple social circles, school being one, work being another, friends being another, and a community-based group as another. I tried to explain that these are what makes people balanced and complete. In her pervious life she only had school and friends, so I can understand why the concept is hard to grasp.

But I look at my life and realize how rich and full it is. ML I have many different circles of friends, interesting work colleagues, are involved in a multitude of volunteer community efforts, and manage to value our family above all else. I feel so blessed and lucky. and happy.

It feels so good to focus on something other than myself. To feel like I am contributing to a greater good. To have a purpose for each day. It feels awesome to look down at my growing stomach and feel something moving around inside. To know that my dreams are really going to come true. That the time  for intense pain and grief has passed. It fills my heart with love and joy to watch ML and HBear interact with one another and to imagine him parenting our child with the same tenderness and patience.

Life is good. and I am happier than I've been in a long time.


Perfect Moment

The best thing happened to me this last week. I came home from work on Wednesday to find a piece of mail from my mom.

I opened it to discover the most beautiful perfect baby shower invitation.

It was for me.

A baby shower for me.

I was overcome with emotion, with gratitude, love, with overwhelming happiness.

HBear was right there to experience the perfect moment with me. I called my sister and my mom, leaving the most rambled thank you messages, unable to adequately convey the extent of the happiness that they had sent into my home.

October 16th is the shower date.
I can't wait.


26 weeks

How far along? 26 Weeks
How is Mommy Feeling? 
- I am feeling great. I love this growing bump even more than i imagined i would. I love feeling the baby move around and wish that it would never stop. I love knowing that its only a matter of time before I finally get to meet this little person. 
- Tired. If i could take a nap everyday I would. There are some days I can't resist and actually leave work to come home and rest. 
- Out of breath. I've been out of breath since we got the bfp. Just walking from my car to the office leaves me winded.
- Excited that we have made the switch to a midwife for a homebirth. I love the idea of being able to labor and deliver in the comfort and safety of my home. 
- For whatever reason, hitting the 24 week viability mark was a huge milestone for me. Since then I've started relaxing into the reality of this pregnancy. In fact I think that I was waiting for this before I felt comfortable writing more weekly summaries, I just needed to know that we were going to get here.

How is Daddy Feeling? 
- 'wonderful' he says. which makes my eyes fill with tears. 
- He has been able to feel the baby's movements for a few weeks now, which also makes me so so happy.

Total weight gain? 
- oh geez, I had to stop stepping on the scale because it was freaking me out. I've been monitoring my diet pretty closely, focusing on protein and limiting carbs, so I know that nutritionally I am in good shape. At our Midwife appt last week I weighed in at 185 - up 30 lbs. She told me that I should expect to hit 200 lbs before the end of this pregnancy. yikes!
- My legs, feet, and ankles are swelling. Not a ton, but enough that i am bothered by it. I've mentioned it to my midwife, masseuse, and OB who all have checked me out and assured me that i'm well within normal ranges and to expect it to increase.
- Thirst - I am drinking so much water and pretty vigilant about carrying a water bottle with me at all times.
- Heartburn started a while back. I have bottles of tums scattered all over the place. It comes and goes, some days I don't have any and other days it feels like I am popping tums every few hours. On a few occasions it has even woken me up at night. 
The Belly? 
- I've definitely got a belly. Did I mention that I LOVE it! We haven't taken any pictures, and really need to get the camera out to document it as it grows in these final months. 

The Boobies?
- Cleavage is kind of fun :) 
- The boob pain has started to subside which I am so grateful for. I don't have to wear my sleep bra anymore and it is okay once again for ML to touch me!
- The nipple pain is also starting to subside. I still have to be very very careful to keep them safe, but so long as I do my job well they don't hurt. (this includes checking my bra multiple times per day to be sure that they are not being bent or twisted. I have to make sure that they are perfectly centered on the fabric.)
- I continue to use the breast warmers that I ordered from Australia, but only when I know that I'll be outside or in a cool place. Even better than the breast warmers that reflect my own heat are the camping hand warmers that actually heat up when you open them. I keep them in my purse and can quickly pop them open and stick them on the outside of my bra when I feel a boob attack coming on. 
- I've never had this problem before getting pregnant, but when i eat crumbs keep falling into my cleavage! I have to scoop or shake the food bits out after each meal. It is too funny.

What I miss? 
- I want a drink. I want a mimosa on weekend mornings, and a cocktail after work. I've never in my life craved alcohol the way I have these past few months.

Big News this Week? 
- Biggest news this week is the addition of HBear to our family. 


Headed to Court

HBear has a court appearance this Tuesday.

I have a lot of thoughts regarding this that I'm not sure I can share openly out of concern that they might find their way back to her mom. For the record, as I voice my own opinions, I do completely understand that her mom was doing the best she could, making the decisions that she believed were best for her family. I will never be able to fully comprehend the complexities of the life that she and HBear shared, but I do have compassion for the challenges that they faced.

Backing way way back, I was one of the few kids I knew in high school that didn't smoke pot. I worked hard in school and was a pretty good kid. I experimented with alcohol and boys a little, nothing dramatic, but was careful not to get caught for my 'bad kid' activities. I lied to my mom on occasion, only because I knew that she wouldn't agree with what I knew I could handle, and also because the few times I did reveal the truth about those situations she freaked out. (Yes mama, its true, I wasn't perfect!)

ML was a straight A student, without even trying. He got away with a lot as a result of his stellar academics. He smoked, he drank, he snuck out, snuck girls in, broke curfew, all sorts of 'bad kid' stuff. He gave his mom all sorts of heartbreak, but because he was a stellar student, held down a job, and managed his own finances, there was little she could do to force him to behave the way she wanted.

HBear, on the other hand, hasn't managed to figure out how to 'play the game' and get away with it. She has not done well in school, doesn't have enough credits to graduate, and yet is still trying to get away with what I suspect is fairly normal 'bad kid' behavior.

About a year ago, probably out of desperation, her mom started calling the cops to the house for help in dealing with HBear. One time it was because HBear and her mom got into a fight and HBear took off, making her mom even madder which led to the filing of a missing persons report, and ultimately her mom insisting that the cops take HBear in on a 5150 (mental health) hold. Other times it has been because HBear was being disrespectful, verbally abusive to her mom, and out of control on drugs. The cops, after determining that no drugs were involved or in her possession, were asked to lecture HBear about being nice to her mom. I've heard most of this directly from HBear, so it is totally possible that there is more to these stories than what I know. Regardless, I just can't imagine ever calling the cops on my child unless our lives were in imminent danger.

Earlier this summer, HBear tested positive for marijuana on a home drug test that her mom started giving her last year. Having run out of consequences to dole out her mother called the police to their house, showed them the positive home test, and insisted that they issue a citation. HBear was not under the influence at the time the citation was issued, however did admit to the cop that she'd smoked earlier in the week.

This is the part that I have a real problem with. What the heck was her mother thinking? Who did she think was going to have to deal with this? What kind of parent would turn their own child over to the police for something like this? for pot? seriously?

So on Tuesday, ML is taking the day off work to drive HBear back to her home town to go to court to fight this misdemeanor charge. It actually makes me really angry.

The citation was issued for penal code 647(f) disorderly conduct, specifically being under the influence.

California Penal Code Section 647

Every person who commits any of the following acts is guilty
of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor:
(f) Who is found in any public place under the influence of
intoxicating liquor, any drug, controlled substance, toluene, or any
combination of any intoxicating liquor, drug, controlled substance,
or toluene, in a condition that he or she is unable to exercise care
for his or her own safety or the safety of others, or by reason of
his or her being under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any
drug, controlled substance, toluene, or any combination of any
intoxicating liquor, drug, or toluene, interferes with or obstructs
or prevents the free use of any street, sidewalk, or other public

We are going to ask for a public defender, hopefully have a chance to explain the changes that have been made in her living/school/custody situation, and request to have the case transfered to our County.  I'd love the advice of anyone who has ever dealt with something like this before.
All things considered, this first week has gone much better than I anticipated. HBear is a really nice young woman. She has responded well to the expectations that we've laid out for her. She's been honest and respectful, helpful, and generally agreeable. There are of course the rules that she has challenged but its all been very appropriate. I'd be worried if she was just agreeing to everything!

She misses her mom and her home and her friends, and talks about how great her old school was compared to her new one. This has been a huge change for her and really, I am so impressed and proud of how well she is adjusting.

ML and I are holding firm to the expectations and rules that we outlined. The hardest thing so far has been figuring out how much freedom to give her with new friends. We want her to have the social outlet, but don't want to set her up for trouble. The poor girl has been holed up at home with us and needs to get out, but we just haven't built up enough trust to give her free reign. She had two new friends over on Friday night and we almost had a panic attack letting them leave the house to walk to the beach. Then last night when she wanted to go out for a few hours to one of the girls homes, I insisted on dropping her off and made her promise to text me if they went anywhere other than the home where I left her. She was home before curfew and texted to tell me when they went to BK for shakes. I was so happy that she followed thru on our agreements!

As with so many things in life, one step at a time, one day at a time, one week at a time. Thank you all for all of the support this past week!


A family of three

ML and I spent a good portion of last weekend preparing the house for the arrival of my 17 year old cousin. (We'll call her HBear) ML cleaned and painted her room. My mom brought a desk over. We pulled a mattress out of the garage. Blinds are on order. Towels, bedding, etc. We got it all ready for her.

HBear arrived on Monday. Her older brother drove her down, helped her unpack the car, and delivered the notarized documents from her parents giving us legal custody. Yep, we are officially responsible for the welfare and upbringing of a beautiful 17 year old girl.

For all the drama and chaos that has surrounded her, she really is a good kid.

ML and I had outlined a list of weekly expectations and responsibilities that she will need to meet in order to get a weekly allowance. We are paying her $5 /day to be at school, another $10 for meeting a set of basic expectations of respect, honesty, communication, and personal responsibility, and then she can earn another $10 for doing certain chores. Part of the agreement is that she has to save half of everything she earns towards a car. I'm trying to remember, but $23 seems like it would have been plenty of spending money for the week when I was 17.

We took her to our local high school to get enrolled on Wednesday, but she is so far behind in her credits that they referred us to the continuation high school. Not to be judgmental, but we were really hoping to get her into the regular high school so that she'd have a better chance at meeting the "right" kinds of friends.

She was distraught to learn that the continuation high school runs a full day program. Apparently last year she only had to be at school for 3 hours each day, and had the rest of the day to hang out with friends. When we talked to her mom and previous school counselor about this, they argued that she just couldn't handle a whole day at school and tried to tell us that she'd never agree to it. Ummm. Ohh-kay...

As shocking as it might sound, she seems to be responding well, so far, to the expectations and structure that ML and I have laid out. Granted its only been 5 days, but she has been getting herself up in the morning, catching the bus to school, attending all day, eating dinner with us, and spending an hour each night doing 'homework' of some sort. She's been testing the rules, to see how flexible they might be, but in a very respectful way.

I have to say that I am falling in love with ML all over agin watching him interact with this child. Seeing him rise to this challenge with such patience and commitment really makes me melt. Its like I have a newfound sense of respect and appreciation for him, seeing most incredible qualities in him shine bright.

So far so good. I think that we've got a lot of the right pieces in place to do this right, but holy moly. Jumping straight into parenting a 17 year old... its definitely giving me a lot to think about as we prepare for the arrival of our own little one.


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