Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Gift of Hope

2011 is winding down and it has been a life altering year. We changed the course of where we were going.  For some time, we had been stuck in a rut and feeling exhausted about life not turning out exactly as planned.  You probably would never know that about me from looking at me; I would keep my heavy heart under wraps. At the end of last year, we set in motion the steps for us to have a child.  We told our family and close friends that we had decided to adopt.  We left our little Village apartment after 15 years and moved into a space and neighborhood that would be better suited to begin our family.  We put in place a financial plan to save enough to start the adoption process.  In May, we began the home study process with Bethany Christian Services.  It has been a year of examining who we are, what we want out of life and our faith in God.  If someone told me a year ago this would be my life, I probably would not have believed them.  We've made new friends and reconnected with old ones.  People that I would never expected have reached out to support us, encourage us and pray for us.  Words cannot express the gratitude that I feel for each and every one of you.  It feels like I have been swimming against the tide but I made it.  And I could not have done it without you.

As 2012 quickly approaches, I am filled with hope. Hope that I will start swimming with the tide instead of against it.  Hope that the waiting for a baby will not daunt me. Hope that we will be able to save enough for when the time comes to bring our baby home. Hope that we will continue with good health, good jobs and good family and friends.

I received a wonderful gift and gesture from a friend this year. A really cool bracelet in a hope bag. But it wasn't just a really cool bracelet in a hope bag, it was a message to me that she wishes for me to have hope in the new year. That she understand what I want in my life and supports me 100%. That gesture is priceless and I thank her for that.

The really cool bracelet is from Noonday Collection. Noonday is a company that was born from the desire to adopt a child from Rwanda. The company now provides jobs for women to sell fair-trade locally made goods to create a pathway out of poverty. They also provide adoptive families a way to raise funds with trunk shows, something that I will be looking into.  A company that supports artisans from all over the world, advocates for women and children and helps families raise funds for adoption is pretty awesome in my book.

So my wish for you in 2012 is hope.  Hope for a good life.  Hope for a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
Jenn, Marlon, Twiggy and Edie

Behind the scenes of the 2011 holiday card:

Our good friend announced she got Edie and Twiggy Christmas presents which included reindeer antlers. We hadn't decided what our annual Christmas post card would be and so I thought let's run with the antlers. I found our antlers at 99¢ Jacks. And of course we definitely needed ugly Christmas sweaters to complete the look. I went to Cheap Jacks vintage store, they wanted $100 for an ugly holiday sweater. A $100 people!!! I know ugly Christmas sweaters are all the rage, but come on. Another friend suggested I try Kmart and voila! a great selection of holiday sweaters at reasonable prices. Now we are ready! I told my friend that she must come over and see the kitties enjoy their presents and while she is here can she take our photo. She was enthusiastically on board. She came over, we had wine and dinner and wine. We dumped out the kitties stocking and the went crazy over the sparkly balls and the catnip reindeer. Marlon and I changed into our festive attire. The cats were having a great time with their new toys and now was the time to pounce and put those antlers on them. Antlers are on! Quick! Take the picture, take the picture! She was able to take three before the cats could not take it anymore. They promptly jumped off our laps and started shaking their heads, convulsing and twisting their bodies trying to get those antlers off. Once off, they pawed at them to make sure they were dead. It was hysterical. Thanks to our wonderful friend for the gifts to our kitties, the inspiration for our card and for a fun night. This will now be one of my favorite Christmas stories.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


This holiday season I have been thinking a lot about family traditions and what my child will experience at Christmas (hopefully next year).  Christmas is still pretty magical with my family.

Christmas Eve evening is always spent with my mom's family.  My sister and I host dinner now and it's not exactly the same as when we were kids but the spirit is still there. I know Granny and Pop are smiling down on us.

After Christmas Eve dinner, my sister and I plus the hubbies and now my baby nephew head to my Dad's house to spend the night. Yes, we are well into our thirties and still spend the night with my Dad on Christmas Eve so we can wake up together on Christmas morning.  We eat cookies in our new Christmas pajamas and wait for Santa.  At 6 am Christmas morning, we are awaken by loud Christmas music and are greeted by my Dad and Linda wearing Santa hats. We are promptly given coffee (a new tradition).  We sit around the Christmas tree, open presents and smile for photos.  Between you and me, I secretly get up a little earlier and brush my teeth and hair so that I will look somewhat presentable during these photos.  Then we empty our stocking and I'll eat a Reese's peanut butter Christmas tree or whatever candy is in my stocking to hold me over to the next event which is Christmas brunch at Grandma's.

Then it's over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house, well that's what it feels like anyway.  We've had Christmas brunch at Grandma's probably all of my life.  Everyone is there by like 9:30 am. We have Christmas cheer (somebody has always brought a new cocktail that you have to try) and sausage balls and coffee cake. By 10 am, we are all feeling relaxed and laughing.  At Grandma's, we open presents first, then photos and then we eat.  We tear into the presents at lightening speed.  After presents, it is time for the annual cousins portrait on the couch.  The cousins are six girls, I am the oldest.  We have posed for the same picture for over thirty years, adding a new cousin along the way.  I really need to find a picture of us for each year, it would be pretty cool to see us grow up on the couch.  Or at least find the first one with all six of us. We take the traditional picture, but now we do another one with the husbands and the kids, etc.  Finally it's time to eat!  We have oyster fritters, breakfast casserole, angel biscuits with sausage gravy, homemade jam, bacon, ham, grits, potatoes and so many delicious things that I can't even think of.  Then you are so FULL that you want to fall into a Christmas coma.  But there is no time for that. Dishes are done and we are out the door to the next visit on our list.

We take a "pretty" one too, but this one is funnier.

This is the only old photo I have, not from the couch series
but we don't we look festive?

We spend the afternoon with Marlon's parents.  They are low-key and I am thankful for that. We sit and talk, maybe have a cocktail and exchange presents.  It's always a nice and relaxing visit.  We need it because we are not done with Christmas yet!  Christmas evening we go to my aunt and uncle's house for appetizers and cocktails.

By the time, we get back to wherever we are staying, we are EXHAUSTED.  Too tired to even check out our loot, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  Christmas is about spending time with those you love.  I can't wait for our kid to experience our family's Christmas magic and start some New York holiday traditions as well.

Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Madness!

I wanted to check in and tell you that I am in the midst of holiday madness.  Between holiday parties, last minute shopping, getting holiday cards out the door, stuffing my face with treats from the office and preparing to visit my family, I have had no time to blog.  I am booked, SOLID!  It's not such a bad thing, I am blessed to have such wonderful people in my life to celebrate the season with.

I love my reindeer antlers.
Edie did not like hers.

I hope your holidays are filled with merriment and good friends.  Thank you for continuing to read Two Cats and Cradle and sending me your love and support!  Happy Holidays!


Special thanks to Auntie Laura from Edie and Twiggy, they may not have loved their antlers, but they sure did love their stocking full of toys!  Meow!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Dreaded Home Visit

I've told you a little bit about starting the adoption process and how every family goes through a home study.  Aside from the mountains of paperwork, thinking about under what situations you would accept a baby and analyzing who you are as a person and as a couple, you also have a social worker visit your home to assess your living environment.  Most people, including me, overreact to this visit.  I had adoptive parents who had been through "the visit" tell me to relax, it's fine.  Not a big deal.  But leading up to the visit you start to think about how your home represents you. Is it clean enough, safe enough, homey enough?  And the next thing you know you are doing all these crazy things to prove that you are going to provide the best home for a child.

Luckily, we had just moved in about six month before, so the actual cleaning part was not that bad.  We do what we call an "hour of power" each week, where we clean as hard as we can for an hour and that usually does the trick.  But "the visit" calls for a more thorough cleaning like I would do for a party or company.  Easy enough. We started on that the weekend before.

The real problem was that the apartment did not feel homey.  We had not put art on the walls yet or really decorated after the move.  The walls were blank and the place just didn't reflect our personality.  This is where we (I) really decided to pour it on.  Marlon is an artist, we had several paintings to choose from to hang on the walls. Done.  We decided we needed pictures of people and of us on the walls. So we bought tons of black picture frames from Target and when we still didn't have enough we asked our friend Jackie if we could have hers.  She had told me a few weeks before that she had a bag full.  Pictures up. Done.  Then I thought maybe we needed new fluffy white towels for the bathroom, a new shower curtain and those sticky things that go on the bottom of the tub. Purchased all. Done.  Oh and we definitely needed rugs.  Purchased three. Done.  Then I started to think we needed plants to show that we can take care of living things.  (Uh, we do have two cats and take care of them fine.) But yes, we need plants!  I know, I am going to make a terrarium in the midst of my mania.  Terrarium, done!  (RIP terrarium, it started to die a week later) The place is looking good now.  We are ready, right?

The day of the visit, our social worker was supposed to come at 2 pm.  I took the day off.  Marlon decided that it was best to stay out of my way and go to work a 1/2 day.  Smart man.  So the day of, I decided the apartment needed to be cleaned again, so I cleaned. Then I thought my kitchen floor looked a little dull, so I waxed it.  I had not put down my rugs yet because I didn't want them to be covered in cat hair. So I laid down all the rugs.   I also thought I needed to bake some cookies, so I baked.  Something in the bottom of my oven burned and the place smelled smoky instead of like chocolate chip cookies. So I opened all the windows, sprayed air freshener and lit candles to make the place smell better.  And then Marlon got home.  Honey bunny, you ok?   What did you burn? Nothing.  Did you wax the floor? Yes.  What do you need me to do? (Other than shoot me with a tranquilizer gun).  He put the finishing touches on everything while I showered and got ready.  The place looked spectacular! 

Our social worker called to say she would not be there until 3 pm.  Totally fine with me, I hadn't sat down since 6 am.  So I chilled out for a minute and then the buzzer buzzed and we were on!  She came to the door sopping wet, she got caught in the rain without an umbrella.  At that moment, I realized she is just a regular person doing her job and not there to critique our homeyness.  I instantly relaxed about the visit.  I gave her a towel to dry off with (a fluffy new white one), she ate a cookie and we gave her the tour of our apartment.  She didn't have white gloves on, she did have a checklist to make sure we had smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and a fire extinguisher. Check, Check, Check.  She admired Marlon's artwork and said she hoped we didn't go to too much trouble for the visit.  Oh no, of course not.  She read through our entire home study compiled from all the paperwork we filled out and the answers we provided during our interviews.  It was kind of strange to hear your life summed up in a few pages. She said everything looks great and her supervisor would review our file and then we would know in a few weeks whether we would be accepted into the program.  She didn't see any reason why we would not be accepted.  I gave her a spare umbrella to go home with and then she left. She was actually only there for about an hour.  I breathed a sigh of relief.

Twiggy was totally freaked with all cleaning and arranging.

We heard back the very next week that we were in, not in a few weeks.  Then it sunk in, we are adopting!!  It was definitely the umbrella.

♦ Check out our Fundraising page!

Monday, December 5, 2011

So long, Boathouse...

My honey bunny and I go way back, 20 years in fact.  During those teen years, we went to a lot of concerts at the Boathouse in Norfolk, VA.  We even had a missed encounter at the Nine Inch Nails concert in January 1991, we didn't actually meet until March 1991.  But we were both there.  My Dad emailed to say that the Boathouse was no more.  The Boathouse was heavily damaged during Hurricane Isabel and was condemned.  The place where I had so many awesome times has been torn down.  I am seriously sad about this.  I thought maybe I would slip back into my combat boots and pay homage to the Boathouse.

photo credit - L. Todd Spencer

First let me describe the place to you. It was a small venue on the water, standing room only.  It was dark and kinda of grimy.  The stage was elevated from the floor but you could get right up front and practically touch the performers.  The mosh pit usually formed up by the stage, I guess depending on the band. My bands usually had a mosh pit.  I loved the mosh pit.  I came home too many times with my t-shirt ripped and my boots scuffed, but that was the best.  Anyway, the floor was separated by a chain link fence, one side was over 21 and served beer and the other side was under 21, no beer just pizza and soda.  My Dad called the Boathouse to make sure under 21 wasn't allowed in the 21 section. I know my eyes probably rolled out of my head when he asked me to get him the Boathouse's phone number.  But I have to give him props for good parenting skills.  I get it now.

I saw shows from Nine Inch Nail to Primus to Violent Femmes to Letters to Cleo to Henry Rollins.  I might have also seen Lisa Loeb, but I am not admitting to that.

Me, Jennifer and Angi went to Nine Inch Nails.  Jennifer and I knew all the words and were totally into the music. Angi was a cheerleader and not as familiar. We dubbed her a tape the week of the concert and she learned all the songs.  We picked her up from her game in her cheering outfit and she changed into her black clothes in the car.  We sang Head Like a Hole at the top of our lungs!

I went to Primus the day after I got my wisdom teeth extracted. Hardcore, right?  I tried really hard to have fun, but the bass was vibrating my jaw so bad I could not stay on the floor.  The only way it was tolerable is if I stood outside.  Needless to say we exited that concert early.  Marlon took me to get ice cream and brought me home.

Waiting to get into Violet Femmes, a bird crapped on Marlon.  He was not happy at all. End of story.  Still kind of funny.

I have tons of stories about going to Boathouse.  So many good times!  So long, Boathouse, thanks for the memories.

♦ Check out our Fundraising page!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are? Tim Green

This is the final entry in the series "Who Do You Think You Are?  It has been so interesting to find out about all these amazing adoptees.  You always hear about adoption horror stories on the news, it's nice to know there are just as many wonderful stories out there.  We all have issues, it's what you make out of life that counts.

So without further ado let me introduce you to star defensive end for the Atlanta Falcons and NY Times bestselling author, Tim Green.  Tim was raised in a loving and supportive adoptive family. Growing up, he was an honor student and stellar football player.  Adopted at birth, he always longed to find his biological mother, to let her know he was alright, successful and happy.  He wrote about his journey in the book A Man and His Mother: An Adopted Son's SearchIn an interview with Mark Bialczak, Green said even though he found his biological mother "that can never replace my parents. Nothing can replace who your parents are."

Tim Green currently writes a series of chapter books for tweens called Football Genuis and suspense novels published by HarperCollins!  Yay, Harper! He is also active in children’s charities like the Golisano Children’s Hospital where he serves on the Advisory Board, and the Boys and Girls Club.

So there you have it, adopted people turn out just fine and sometimes better than fine.

♦ Check out the Christmas ornament fundraising page. Only one ornament left - the snowflake!

Sources for content and images: and