Dust it off

I feel like I’m testing for an echo.

Echo. Echo.

Anyone there?

When I start writing again y’all know its going down. I’ve coincidentally been thinking about this blog more and more within this past week and sure enough, just a few minutes ago I got another crazy comment on this post (from someone clearly hurting from a crazy infertile woman, but that I’ll spare you all from). I think I should go back and read that every once in a while because dang, that was just what I needed to hear. I wrote that over 8 years ago and it all still holds true.

Blogging was good for me. It was some accountability for what I need to do anyway, process my thoughts. In diary I can just be crazy. But here, I had to make it go somewhere and be helpful.

Plus my handwriting is awful. Embarrassingly awful.

My last post was titled “We had a daughter”. My current life post is titled “We have two sons.” Mateo picked out his own outfit today and came downstairs in a royal blue T-shirt, matching mine. I started it. It becomes an unsaid game in our family, because whoever puts it on first in our family will encourage us all to go change and try to match. A little matching moonheads blueberry T-shirt family. We bought them for a fundraiser for a friend of a friend, and they say “Adoption is love” in small letters on a hand drawn heart. He ran to me so proud and jumped into my arms, in which I promptly hugged and squeezed him and smothered his little soft, sweet cheeks with kisses and told him repeatedly how much I love him.

“Look it says, ‘Adoption is love.’ Hey Mateo, did you know that you were adopted??” I asked him as he sat on my lap.

“Yeah” he drawled, as he usually responds to most things.

“You were born in China and then we got to go meet you and adopt you and bring you into our family!”
“Yeah”. Quite agreeable this morning. Maybe he’s actually understanding.

“I love adoption. Baba loves adoption. And so does Gege. It brought us you!”

“Yeah. Oh look Jesus!” Pointing to the fridge. Ok, a little off-topic. Maybe he’s still with me though… “Go up to sky. On soccer ball.” Alright, we’ve lost him.

We’ve had similar ‘conversations’ before in the almost 2 years he’s been home. We’re sure to have more conversations that will cover more of the details, and hopefully he’ll get it at some point, but that just about sums it up right now. Your awkward mom smothering you unreasonably and trying to be all profound, while you’re just trying to be a normal kid and talk about Jesus on soccer balls.

Sorry I squeeze and kiss you boys so much. I just can’t believe these miracles.



We had a daughter

I drove my son and his friend to the park on Monday. It was a rare sunny day in this spring of never-ending stormy showers and we were happy to get out of the house. During the drive I listened to their simple, disjointed conversation in the backseat. I overheard my son say as he stared out the window:

“We don’t have a baby anymore. One day we had a baby. That was all.”

He said it so matter of fact, I admired him. Maybe I’m even a bit jealous of the distance with which he can say those words. Its been almost two months since I placed the baby I called my daughter back in her mother’s arms and I still struggle to say the facts. One day we had a baby. Now we don’t. That’s all.

Four year-olds are resilient. His nightmares stopped the week after she went home, I think. Or at least he stopped crying in the night “I don’t want them to take my baby sister.” I would hug and kiss him and tell him that neither did we, and I’d stay long after he fell asleep again, feeling the breath of this much larger and longer child than the one I just relinquished.

When the morning would break we’d explain to him that this was a good thing. Her mom needed us when she couldn’t parent. She had asked us to be a family for the little girl she couldn’t give that too, and we’d said yes. We’d ohhed and ahhed over ultrasound pictures and been there during labor, when no one else was. “And you were such a good big brother! But the great news is that now she can be a mom to her, so we had to give her back.” I’d grit that last part out, hoping to believe it more and more myself, each time I said it. And that answer seemed to make sense to him.

It is great news, now that she can parent.

I had a conversation years ago, before we had started our homestudy, before we’d officially decided to pursue adoption, about priorities in adoption. It is one of the most paradoxical arrangements, that something could be so tragically mutually beneficial for the parties involved. Mercy for all, a second chance at life for her, and second chance at parenting for us. But that in an ideal world, something so redeeming wouldn’t be necessary. That as adoptive parents, our desire beyond all else should be that the child could be placed with their biological parents.

It is a thought almost impossible to hold in my head. And it’s a reality we have to face daily now. Ten days after she was born, our daughter’s birth mom revoked her consent. Adoption, her plan b, was not necessary after all.

“The great news, is that now she can parent.”

Yes, this is great news, I repeat, as tears stream down my cheeks.

Up, up and…outta here

At bed time, with Sam (3, going on 14)

Me: What was your favorite part of the day?

Sam: Those things, up there, that go up up up. (Randomly pointing to the banners I made him for his room when he was a baby).

Me: The banners? Do you like those? I made those for you when you were little! (Getting all sentimental. He finally notices them! How sweet!)

Sam: Yeah. And I want to give them to S’s mommy to give to baby Christina, so she can put them in Christina’s room.

Me: Wait, so you don’t like them and you want to get rid of them?

Sam: Yeah, those are for babies and I’m not a baby anymore.


Oh. Riiiight.

Tell it like it is, brother.

I guess I should have realized that I was raising up a man.

A completely frivolous post about hair

After a wonderful vacation to a hot and humid tropical island, after a shorter haircut than I’ve had in a while (about shoulder length) I am once again reminded of the utter pointlessness of doing anything to try to control my hair. I literally almost had dreads after 2 days in the ocean. Which brings me to my next point: I need to get dreads.

Just kidding, there is nothing worse than a white girl with dreads.

I need to somehow harness the inner curly turmoil of my hair and just own it. Apparently its not actually ‘curly’ but more, wavy or even better s’wavy. I usually dabble in the crunchy mousse, but there’s no way I can wear that two days in a row. And frankly, it just always looks wet. I haven’t bought any in years. I want to keep the fluff!

I did no ‘poo for a year and it just killed the inner wavy. I’ve been reading more recently about the modified no ‘poo of the curly girl method and I’m going to make a conscious effort to try that out.

I’ve tried to make my hair something its not for my whole life. It seems right about time (hot muggy weather coming my way!) to just admit that I need a little product and to figure it out.

My top goals are to:

1. Figure out how to not make my hair look so, so so, frizzy (some frizz is inevitable, and maybe endearing?), and

2. Figure out how to wear wavy/curly hair multiple days in a row. Because I’m really lazy and do not shower everyday.

Anyone out there figure out some routine that works?

He is exactly the same.

Everything is exactly the same as it was yesterday. Nothing has changed.

Except everything.

Yesterday there was incredible hope. I was blessed beyond measure. Except, it turned out I wasn’t. Not in that way, at least, the way I was dreaming about.

Today things are exactly the same. And I am blessed beyond measure. God is exactly who He was yesterday. He loves me beyond measure. Still. He never stopped.


It is strange, to walk back on this path again, where people don’t get pregnant. Its easy to fall back into this belief that it just doesn’t happen to people like us. Because the months go by, and probabilities seem nothing but impossible.

But I have lived it before. I had magical moment, a hinge in my life where my whole world changed. Things that had been impossible, well, one day, they happened! God was the same before, after, and all the while. I had faith before, but I also have experience now. I remember what it was like to long for something and then suddenly have your wildest dreams come true on a Sunday afternoon.

It does happen to people like us.

I don’t just believe it, or hear it from someone’s friend who it happened to, but I know to be true because I lived it.

In spite of days like today.


It the sweetest dream, isn’t it? To not be broken? To make love with your husband and, things just…work? God be present and nine months later, meet the beloved fruit of your love? Its the sweetest dream, the most amazing fairy tale.

What a love story.

And He can do these things! Just not this time.

And I know that just as easily as it could have happened this month, just as easily as it can happen next month. Despite not wanting to get sucked in or “think about it”. There are those two days of the month (if you’re lucky) where you can peak over the fence and allow yourself to dream for minute. I haven’t thought about it in months, but of course, God, it would be this month. I had all the faulty logic to deduce why pregnancy would happen this time as opposed to all the others. My breasts were sore all month and I had a dream on p+13 that God told me I was with child! I don’t dream dreams like that. My sub-fertile friend who gave birth to her first right as I found out I was pregnant with my first, was now giving birth to her second. Surely that meant something, our stories were connected, right? And I did just finish the 56 day novena last month. Of course God heard those prayers and of course, he would answer them!

Of course God heard those prayers. And of course He will answer them. He is the same as he was yesterday. Forever and ever.

So I know how quickly things can change. So suddenly it can happen, it does happen. It did happen. Probabilities fly out the window when you’re staring at a positive pregnancy test, evidence of your child.

The sweetest dream.

But being back here, I know simultaneously how unworthy I am of such a dream. There is nothing I could ever do to deserve such a gift. Again, let alone the first time.

The gift of a child to be responsible for. It feels selfish to even pray for it. I know this to be true.

My daily experience has shown me how humbling, how undeserving, and how much I rely on God everyday to make me into just an acceptable mother. How dare I pray for more?

But God is the same as he was yesterday. And he can do miracles. He did it before. He calls us in spite of our faults, so why not me?

Everything can change in an instant.

And yet, He will be exactly the same. He is our constant.

A fall garden attempt and a year!

I had such high hopes for our garden this year! The results were less than spectacular. It turns out the squirrels really are rabid here and they did not desire to respect our “let’s share the tomatoes because there is enough for everyone, mmk?” I don’t think I’ve seen a red tomato in weeks, despite having 5 tomato plants out there! They aren’t touching the jalapenos though, I can’t imagine why?

Our squash came and went, again, blighted by that same powdery mildew we had in California. I got a few cans of pickles and some zucchini before all the plants died off. I harvested exactly 3 butternut, 1 acorn, 1 spaghetti squash, and a handful of smaller striped squash. I’m pretty sure there is no way anyone actually has a completely “natural” garden.  The more research I do on this seems to conclude that as well, there are just different additives people use of safer origins. So next year I’m looking at getting some sort of cage/covering in addition to more regularly using a fungicide of some sort.

2014-08-25 10.05.08Our watermelon did way better than last year, but unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that we actually ever ate any. I had about 5 ping pong to tennis ball sized melons out there that would just never grow. I had one honeydew that got big enough, but I think I left it on the vine too long (intentionally, to let it ripen) and eventually, something came along and ate half of it too.

2014-08-25 10.05.19

We had several trips this summer as well, which always makes maintenance difficulty! On one 10-day trip out west I hired the neighborhood boy to water because he had always taken an interest in my garden. About 5 days in I get a text from his mom saying that the squirrels ate all the corn. I laughed a little out loud when I read it. I was thinking that maybe they mistakenly thought that the 4 ears we harvested the day before we left were gone missing from the squirrels. But no, when they said the squirrels got the corn, they meant, the squirrels completely annihilated the corn.

2014-08-25 10.03.59Honestly, if my neighbors hadn’t physically watched the squirrels terrorize the corn with their own eyes, I would have been convinced it was due to deer.  The destruction was just so complete.

So, this blog is becoming more of a record of my utter gardening failures.  But, I’m still having fun (kind of) so I’m sticking with it. I did have no hand in growing some wild beans on the fence that resulted in bean pods. So there’s that!

I did recently pull out all the blighted plants/remains of plants (ahem) and put in some fall crops.  Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, romaine, and I even planted some more squash seeds, though I imagine those won’t ripen before the frost because those last ones were planted so late. I will be around more in the fall and its not so unbearably hot, so maybe I’ll be more involved in the maintenance of a garden. Maybe fall gardening is where I was meant to thrive, right?! One can hope :) Pictures of those to come.

Also, I realized that two weeks ago marks a year that we’ve lived here on the East Coast. Its flown by and a lot has happened! Who knew a year ago we’d have convinced someone in our family to move out here, let alone to our neighborhood! I couldn’t be happier than the place we chose to live and I feel so guided by the holy spirit that we ended up here at all. Having a community has made some of the trials of the last year a lot more bearable and its been profoundly meaningful to be able to support others as well. Anyway, more on that later.

Thankful – 6/11/2014

Our AC Unit – On the lighter side of the list, because its only June and I don’t know what people did before air conditioning!

Forgiving myself Sometimes we think we have things all figured out.  And then life continues to happen.  And we get to revisit previous thoughts and forgive ourselves for our limited perspective and certainty back then. I will forever be working on this, but I’m thankful for the realization it needs to happen.

A place to be vulnerable – As easy as this move has been, its hit me more recently that I’ve yet to find when and where I can really be vulnerable. I find that I feel so much shame for my tears lately. Especially as a mom, I shouldn’t be crying. Like, ever. I don’t know whether its a “proper East Coast thing” or the fact that I feel so uncomfortable after I “try to go deeper” in a friendship and feel hung out to dry when I’ve shared too much.  Or the fact that I don’t want to admit that I’m struggling with something. Its always been easy for me to acknowledge I am a vulnerable person, but lately I’ve felt a lot more shame in sharing that. I thought it was due to wanting to “ponder things in my heart” more, like Mary, but I wonder if its not just pride in wanting to look like I have it all together. The internet has slowly become a place I don’t even want to share thoughts like these, what with its glossy pictures of beautiful lives and promises of perfection, so I’ve missed sharing on here as well. Anyway, all that to say, I found a place this morning, and it was so appreciated. I am thankful to hearing ears and open hearts.


A quick search on vulnerability after this morning’s discussion led me to these talks, which were nice to serve as reminders for me to have courage to share. You’ve probably seen them since they already went viral a while back, but I’m thankful for finding them anyway today.

Ted talk on vulnerability.

Ted talk on listening to shame

Thankful – 5/29/2014

For my in-laws. They love my husband and my son so much, it blankets us when we visit them. I am so thankful for their part in our lives and how they smother us with love whenever we see them. Our roots have grown firmly in the foundation they started.

For old friends. Old is always relative term with me. I think it describes how well our souls see each other rather than a length of time, but I love picking up with friends I haven’t seen in a while as if it was just yesterday that we talked. And they truly get you. This happened on our trip and I am so thankful to have these people in my life.

For friends I’ve only met a few times. But have changed my life. Because I simply cannot properly express the feeling that comes with walking into a church with a person you’ve only just met, but “known” for years, and have them point to a specific place and say “This is where I would come to pray for you and for your son, before he was even born.” 


“I am with you, watching over you constantly. I am Immanuel (God with you); My Presence enfolds you in radiant Love. Nothing, including the brightest blessings and the darkest trials, can separate you from Me. Some of My children find Me more readily during dark times, when difficulties force them to depend on Me. Others feel closer to Me when their lives are filled with good things. They respond with thanksgiving and praise, thus opening wide the door to My Presence.

I know precisely what you need to draw nearer to Me. Go through each day looking for what I have prepared for you. Accept every event as My hand-tailored provision for your needs. When you view your life this way, the most reasonable response is to be thankful. Do not reject any of My gifts; find Me in every situation.”

– p. 156, Jesus Calling, Young.

A lot can grow in a week

We just got back from our first trip back to California since living on the East coast.  Sometimes it feels like I never even lived there. and this trip was proof of it.  The whole trip just seemed like a vaguely familiar dream.  I knew those highways, restaurants, flowers and mountains. People were more or less the same and conversations caught back up as if I never left. The scenery was gorgeous, the driving was a price to pay for it, and in a way, it felt like I never left.  But it has been about 10 months since I’ve been away and a new place is where I belong now.  This trip was a weird reminder that ‘home’ for me will always be a moving target.  I sink my claws in when I move to a place, but leaving and getting used to a new adventure isn’t as hard as I anticipate.  At least, it wasn’t this time.


You know you have a gardening problem when the first thing you do upon arriving at your house after a week away is to run to the backyard and see how your garden is doing! So much can change in a week! I think this is why I love gardening.  Tangible results. My husband says I’m in to all things fertility related (such as NFP, infertility, etc.) and I guess my garden is no exception.

I made some little pictures here to update where we’re at growing wise. I love to look back at these at the end of the season and remember how small those tomato plants started out! Hopefully the labeling will help me remember what’s what!


I made three 12x4ft.  garden beds in total.  I basically have a full on farm back here! If you recall, I dug up about a 14 ft. diameter bed of bulbs to place beds #2 and #3. About a week before we left on our trip, I finally dug up the surrounding bulbs outside of the garden beds and planted grass using a lawn patch repair kit. From far away I think that the grass could qualify as “coming in nicely”, though if you’re up close it might tell a different story. I think from far away the circle is hardly visible anymore, right? Maybe? Stark contrast to what it was a few weeks ago.

2014-04-14 15.28.14

Not really when it was at its worst, but there is a glimpse of how many bulbs I had to dig up.

Though #1 was our “afterthought” its what I’ll start off with first.


I planted the flowers you guys suggested along the fence, but none of them have come up yet. Its been a few months, so I’m not sure what happened. I even planted a “round two” two weeks after the first round didn’t take. Everything else seems to be growing. I had lavender and rosemary growing from seed where the squash is now, but none of it ever came up.  Much like the “oregano”, which never seemed to grow. I will probably just buy a plant and stick it in there. Everything else was from seed.


The other side of the garden has some lavender working it out (behind the peas, not pictured) and some corn.  Our squirrels are little rascals, so only a few shoots are coming up, the ones that I think have survived the scavenging.  Anyway, it makes for an interesting growing pattern for sure!

Now onto #2.

MM_3Most of these are from seeds. Minus a few pickling cucumbers (I’ll have to thin, I’m sure) and the jalapenos.  My sad, sad jalapeño story is that I had them growing GREAT from seed indoors.  Fabulous. And then while hardening off, I saw a few leaves missing. I thought it was from placing them outside. I showed my husband one night when I moved them back indoors how many leaves were missing.  Well, when I woke up the next morning, the ENTIRE PLANTS were gone. All three of my jalapeño plants.  That’s when I realized how bad our mice problem was!!  So I went on a rampage to get rid of those suckers and I think we’re good now. But man, what little goobers.

Also, my master plan is to have jalapeños and tomatoes for salsa and cucumbers and dill for pickles, in case you were wondering if there was a method to my madness.

And the view from the back:

MM_6Yes, I am attempting more melons this year.  After last year’s miserable failure, I wasn’t going to, but then my husband requested them.  So, here’s to round two.

Now bed #3.


I probably have too many tomatoes for my own good, but I thought mine had died, so I went out and bought an extra cherry and roma just to be safe.  And since it still looked like mine weren’t growing, I accepted two plants from a neighbor who had extra.  Then when I came back, mine suddenly caught up and look like contenders after all.  So that makes 7 total (I don’t think I labeled them all here). Maybe I’ll try pasta sauce this year? It hardly seems worth the time, so maybe I’ll stick with salsas.

From the back side:

MM_5Only the cilantro was from seed here.  Everything else I tried to grow inside failed miserably, so I just bought everything else on super sale one day. The broccoli looked so pitiful I didn’t think it would make it, so I planted them all close together. Although somethings munching on them, they actually are all almost thriving (whereas two of the romaine’s already died) and now planted entirely too close (I think). I guess we’ll see what happens from here.  The spinach isn’t growing well at all, so I don’t expect it to last much longer, but hopefully the rest make it.  We’re having salad tonight, as a matter of fact! I harvested right after this picture.

Finally, if you remember, there was a dilapidated bench that was sitting in the back there in the far left corner of the yard.


We had a dead tree removed there earlier this winter so now there is a nice plant to sit and some old roots under that soil, which is rumored to be a great place to have a garden.

ImageAfter the bulb fiasco, I have been too lazy to dig this all up, but I just randomly planted some winter squash back there, and it actually came up.


This would be a great place for them to spread out and grow if they actually make it, so I’m hoping they stick with it (and I remember to water them!).

Sub-fertility and (slowly) learning to embrace my square peg

I’ve hesitated writing this post for so long because it never seems to come out quite right.  I fumble with the words again and again and my pride doesn’t want to put it out for people to read, imperfectly, because it comes from such a tender part of my heart that I’m afraid to expose it to ridicule.  I remember reading posts similar to what I’m probably about to write when I was primarily infertile and there was probably not a post I understood less.  But YOU already have your child! Why are you still whining!

But the fact is, I’m still sub-fertile.  And I’m still learning to live with that.  

I wish I was better about writing when the days are great because then I wouldn’t look so consumed with this subject.  But I’m still not that great at writing about great days, bragging about happy events. I’ll leave that to others.

The raw truth is that around the turn of the year, the time coinciding with so much anger in my life, coincided with a year of cycles with no baby. I have so many reasons to have hope for our future, and I do, but that unfortunate anniversary played a part. I tried my best to ignore it and I really thought I was at a place where I had accepted that we had our child and that was it, whatever else come what may, but the reality of living with sub-fertility will always be with me.

Sometimes I think the infertility experience creates muscle memory that is really hard to shake. I thought that was just what was going on.  A year of cycles, yes, but that’s OK. I didn’t want to fall into a game of counting, charting, checking, stating, and drugs, because I know little ones come slow for us and I just want to enjoy what I have for once.  This beautiful post from the other day and this timely one from today speak perfectly to my overall feelings and perspective on all that I have now. 

The fact is that even while being completely grateful for what I have, the reality of being sub-fertile means my motherhood does look different from most women, especially most Catholic women. I was very unprepared for how to deal with that. Its not a given that I’ll have more children to raise. The solutions to my child’s behavior problems aren’t as simple as “Oh he’ll learn that when he has a sibling”.  I don’t have the fatigue that accompanies constant pregnancy, but I don’t need to feel guilty about having a hard time with “just one”.

As much as I wanted to ignore it, I really had to confront this constant murmuring that was going on in the background face on at the start of year and realize the my dreams that I have in my life need to be 100% my own because I can’t live a life that I think a “Catholic mother” is supposed to live.  I need to live the life that God is calling me to live right here and right now.

I’m sub-fertile and I’m not trying to fit my square ‘motherhood’ peg into a little circle anymore.  

There’s no use idealizing having a large family and what I would do if I just had more children because I would seriously be missing out on everything that God has planned for me and the son he has already graciously entrusted me. And the truth is all mothers have to figure this out for themselves.  Although so often we just want to fit in, following someone else’s idea of what a Catholic mom should look like, or what any mom should look like, doesn’t work when you’re talking about unique individuals, sub-fertile or not.


There was a moment several months ago where I was having a heart to heart with Mary and I just asked her, was it really enough, just having Jesus? Were you really totally satisfied, or did you think things like what I think now, about wanting more children?

I really felt like her answer was loud and clear, piercing my heart, “Really, Jesus was enough for me.  Jesus is enough for everyone.”

Talk about getting the smack down from your mom.  But sometimes I need tough love.


The fact was that today was a “reminder” day.  I was asked when we’re having more kids. I was let in on a friend’s imminent  pregnancy announcement and I continually learn humility from a son that “is a biter”, which, if I were the type of parent that took credit for all my child’s successes, would also mean I would have to take credit for his faults.  But, luckily for me, I’m not that type of parent. Whew. 

I am trying to listen to the little voices during my prayer time that point me towards things that I am called to do.  One of the things that has helped me combat my anger and frustration over what I can’t control is allowing myself to dream about what I can work towards.  And then set goals to make those things happen.

I am not called to have a large family right now. Maybe not ever, but certainly not now.

So what I am called to do?  Well, this is me, trying to find that square place to rest my square peg.  My little, perfectly square shaped Alison motherhood peg.