Category Archives: Adoption

I Learned Something About Myself Recently…

I suck at puzzles.

How? How can I be horrible at something that requires such precision, such concentration, such….OCD? I mean, I ROCK at sock-mating, and color-coding, and label-making. How can I be bad at putting together a puzzle??

bad at something

You’re probably wondering why it is that I’m discovering this little tidbit about myself so late in life. Well, Brian and I are gearing up for yet another adoption fundraiser, and this one involves a 1,000 piece puzzle. (For more info on the fundraiser, you can click on the handy-dandy little tab at the top of your screen titled “Puzzle Pieces.”)

I just knew, when we read about this fundraiser, that it was gonna be a winner. I mean, not only was it going to give us a project to keep us focused and busy, but we were going to get to spend a couple of days putting a puzzle together, too. And I just KNEW, down to the very fibers of my soul, that I was going to kick ass at puzzles. I mean, I know I rocked them  hard core when I was in kindergarten. Watch out, alphabet puzzle. I’m coming for you.

But the puzzle we chose is…difficult. As in, if puzzles came in difficulty levels, with 1 being the alphabet puzzle and 10 being super-duper puzzle of hardness….well, we chose a level 25 puzzle.

The pieces are TINY. Not kidding. See:

tiny puzzle piece

And to make matters worse, the puzzle we chose is ALL words…so there’s lots of blank space. Ever tried putting together a bunch of plain white puzzle pieces? Yeah. It’ll make you go cross-eyed faster than reading ‘Dune.’

But I had no idea what was facing me as we happily dumped the puzzle out onto the table to get started. I jumped into organizational mode and promptly separated all the pieces by color, then bagged and labeled each color. Boom. Puzzle master.

We decided to start at the bottom and work our way up, and so I chose the correctly labeled baggie, and dumped the pieces out in front of us. After about 10 minutes, I had shuffled the pieces around and felt relatively confidant that, very soon, I was going to be able to locate 2 pieces that fit together.

That confidence was shattered when I looked over to my right and saw that my over-achieving husband had already successfully put together an ENTIRE WORD. In, like, 10 seconds.

Brian the puzzler

This is Brian’s smug face.”

“Ok, fine,” I thought to myself. “So he’s great at puzzles. No surprises there. But I’m sure I can be good at this, too….I just need to concentrate.”

So I stared at the pieces in front of me with a higher intensity, urging my brain to work at the level I know it’s capable of. And still…nothing.

After an hour of staring at the same 25 pieces, I managed to put together about 10 of them.

Abby's pieces

And no, it doesn’t say “YOLO.”

Brian, in the meantime, had managed to put together the rest of the phrase in its entirety, and had started on the next line, giving me the time I needed to feel like an utter and complete failure.

Oh well. There’s always sock-mating.

A Study in Patience

Waiting.

My alarm goes off and the first thing I do, before I’m even fully awake, is reach for my cell phone. I never used to leave it on overnight before…but I do now. I don’t want to miss that call. You know…THAT call. I wipe the sleep from my eyes as I scroll through the messages that came in while I slept. Junk emails, news alerts, a few stray comments on Facebook and…nothing. I toss my legs over the side of the mattress, make my way to the shower, and scrub it all from my memory banks.

Ten-Thirty A.M. I’m in the throes of checking my work email, perusing the internet, or playing Farmville, when my phone sounds. “DING!” It’s the sound I’ve designated for an email coming through. I close my eyes for a millisecond and wish. Hope. Then I reach for my phone again, swipe with my thumb, and guide my operating system to the email folder. When I see it’s another promotional email from this company or that store, I send it to my trash folder, sigh, and go back to whatever I was doing.

Lunchtime, and my four cats are not-so-gently reminding me that they’re hungry. I fill their bowls, and they follow me to their spots, meowing the whole way. Scooter goes on the dining room table, Pip to the bathroom, Dizzy to the master bedroom. Harry goes last, and follows me into the guest room. I pause after setting his bowl down; he doesn’t see me well up as I look around the room that will eventually, hopefully, become a nursery. For now, it is just where he eats lunch, and he goes about the task with gusto. I pull the door closed and dash the unshed tears from my eyes before Brian can see.

As the clock ticks on toward five o’clock, I know that the likelihood of an email, or a phone call, becomes slimmer. I begin to relax. Brian turns to me and says, “What’s wrong? You have your sad face on.” I brush it off. “Oh, it’s nothing,” I say. But I’m sure he knows. I see the same look on his face from time to time.

I stand at the kitchen counter, chopping onions, and the thought occurs to me that somewhere in the world, you may be brand new. The woman who carries you, who will eventually choose us to be your parents, may not even know about you yet. But there you are, waiting to come into the world, our world, to fill that void. I smile as I have that thought, and the excitement quickens in my heart. But I shut down the thought process when I start to wonder what your face will look like, what color eyes you will be, what your voice will sound like. It’s too early for that sort of wondering, just yet.

Dinner is served, and we sit and watch the television, enjoying our meal in silence. A commercial comes on depicting a couple who have finally put their children to bed. She offers him his favorite fruity cereal, and they celebrate their victory over parenthood by playing old school video games. Brian turns to me, a huge grin on his face, and says, “That will SO be us soon.” And there it is. I can see it in the glimmer of his eyes, in the smile on his face–his love for you. You’re not even here yet, and we already love you.

As I climb into bed, I check my phone one last time, setting it to “Do Not Disturb,” but leaving it on. Just in case. I dive into my book, or into conversation with Brian about our plans for the weekend, or a chore we need to accomplish, or a fundraising idea to add to the list. After awhile, my eyelids start to get heavy. I turn off my light, kiss my husband, and snuggle in to sleep.

Just as I begin to drift off, I think of you again. I whisper the words into being, so they have a life of their own, “tomorrow. It will happen tomorrow.” Only then do I allow myself to fall to sleep.

Waiting.

waiting

The Potato Salad Challenge

Links you may be interested in after watching this video blog:
Mr. Brown’s Potato Salad KickStarter Page

***Friends and neighbors—-share share share!!! Who knows…maybe our response to this news story will FINALLY make our adoption newsworthy as well!!!****

Inevitable Changes

Twenty-two days.

I’ve never gone so long without writing. No since I started up Abby Gabs, anyway.

It isn’t as if I haven’t thought about it. I have. Every morning, as I’m singing away in the shower, I have the same thought. “I should write a blog today.” And then, as the soap washes down the drain, I wrack my mind for a topic to write about. And quite frankly, for the last three weeks, I haven’t been able to come up with a single one.

bang head here

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Well, that’s not entirely true. I could tell you all about the success I’m continuing to have with my weight loss. Dazzle you with before/after pictures, and regale you with tales of the gym. But the truth is–the weight is coming off slowly, there’s no major number or picture to share, and it’s just part of my daily life now. —>Don’t get me wrong, that’s a wonderful thing! But I’m not so sure it’s “blog-worthy.”

I could write about the silly thing that happened at the grocery story the other day, or the time I walked into an occupied dressing room at the bra store, or the funny conversation I had with Brian in the car on the way to the movies. But those don’t necessarily feel like headlines anymore. True, they were my blogger’s bread and butter for almost 3 years, but as our lives morph and change into something brand new, I’m beginning to wonder if my writing style won’t change with it.

You see, our lives have been totally taken over by this adoption process. It’s all we talk about, it’s all we focus on, it’s all we do. The last couple of months have been dedicated solely to fundraising, and if we aren’t actively making signs, writing up ads, sending out Facebook messages and Tweets, and setting up for a major fundraiser, then we’re actually DOING the fundraiser. (You would be shocked and amazed at how much time and energy it takes to have a rummage sale—especially when you have THREE storage units filled with donations to sell!) While we’ve managed to put quite a nice chunk of change in the bank, I feel like my brain cells are totally absorbed by this whole process. Creativity has been scarce around here, and when I’ve been forced to use it, the entire extent of it goes toward fundraising.

Let’s get to the meat of the issue here, readers (if you’re still even reading…) When I started this blog, it was with the intent that this would be a silly place for you to hang out. Somewhere for you to come to get your daily giggle. I went to great lengths to be the silliest blogger on the internet, to set myself apart from the rest with my weird faces, silly illustrations, and goofy Photoshopped tales. When I can’t think of a topic to write about that falls in that “make ’em laugh” category, I wind up not writing at all. And that’s the current predicament which has left us all without our daily dose of Abby Gabs.

Click for source

Click for source

I think, as a writer, it’s important for me to allow myself to grow and change. I also think it’s hugely important not to put pressure on myself to fit in a “niche.” And so, as my focus shifts, I have to learn how to continue to be a writer as it fits in my new life.

My promise to you, readers, is that I’ll do my best to keep it fun to read. It may not always be funny, but it will come from the most honest part of myself.

And my promise to myself is to keep finding the time, and the inclination, to write: without reservation, without fear of being judged for changing, with the same gusto as before.

Thank you for being patient with me on this journey. I know I’ll find my way back to my creative side eventually. For now, my thoughts are consumed with ‘all things adoption.’ And really? That’s how it should be, for now.

A Conversation With My Blog

Hello, old friend. How I’ve missed you! I’ve thought of you often these last two weeks, and wondered when we’d see each other again. It’s been far too long, Blog. Far too long.

I hope you’ll forgive me for being so lax about maintaining our relationship lately. I’ve had a full plate, and while that isn’t a terrific excuse for neglecting a friend, it is the only one I can offer up to you today.

Yes, yes … we are fine. Thank you for asking. We’ve just been so focused on the adoption process and all that comes with it. Most of my free time recently has been consumed with creating pages for our adoption portfolio. What’s that? Well, Blog, an adoption portfolio is something we send to the agency that they will, in turn, share with potential biological families looking for a match. In essence, our adoption portfolio is like a giant, colorful pamphlet, filled with all the stuff a bio mom would want to know about us.

Of course! I’d be happy to share a few of those pages with you!

Brian's About Me Adoption Portfolio Page

This is Brian’s “About Me” page.

Abby's About Me Adoption Portfolio Page

This is my “About Me” page.

Abby's Hobbies Adoption Portfolio Page

And look, Blog…you’re right here, included in the pages of the most important scrapbook I’ve ever created! Of COURSE I included you … you’re my favorite hobby!

So you can probably see why I’ve been so preoccupied lately. It took a lot of time to filter through our thousands upon thousands of photos to select just the right ones for our book.

You don’t have to tell me that twice, Blog. I know that organizing my photos in a more user-friendly fashion would have helped me accomplish this project in a couple of days, versus a couple of weeks. But old habits die hard, friend. Plus, I’d rather spend my free time with YOU now that it’s all finished, rather than reorganizing my computer files.

Aww. Thanks, Blog. I love you, too.

I know it’s been a brief catch-up for us today, but don’t fret! I have lots of fun planned for us in the upcoming days and weeks. And don’t worry–even when I might disappear for awhile, I’ll always come back to you. Real friends are like that, you know.

(Click for source)

(Click for source)

See you soon, Blog!

All my love,
Abby

A Letter To My Son

While perusing the blog today, I stumbled across an old post I wrote titled “A Letter To My Daughter.” It was an emotional one for me, written without censorship and with the greatest of sincerity. Given our new journey toward adoption, I felt it was only appropriate to also reach out to my Son…wherever he is.

Dear Son,

As I write this, we haven’t met yet. I think you might be out there somewhere, waiting for me, wondering where I am. I can already imagine your giant smile, your infectious giggle, your chubby little arms and legs. I can close my eyes and smell your little boy smell: all sunshine and dirt and chocolate pudding. I can’t quite make your face come into focus–but that will all change, soon. Because I am positive that, as soon as I see you, I’ll know in the bottom of my soul that you are mine. It’s easy to recognize that in someone that you already love more that life itself.

We are gonna have so much fun together, little man. We’re gonna run on the beach, our toes in the sand, chasing the waves as they wash out to sea. We’re gonna dig in the mud and splash in the puddles, till we’re all wet and dirty. You’ll fuss a little when I wipe your face so you don’t get dirt in your eyes, but don’t fret. It won’t take long, and I’ll let you get right back to that all-important mud pie. We’re gonna build giant towers made of blocks, and I’m going to take pictures of you making your “I’m concentrating” face. Then we’ll laugh and laugh and laugh when you knock them all back down again.

I can already guess that you and your Dad are going to be thick as thieves. You’ll bond over cars that transform into cool robots, and he’ll teach you all the things there are to know about the planet Cybertron, so you’ll be well-versed. He’ll be the first one to curl up on the couch with you on Saturday mornings for your all-day cartoon-a-thon. He’ll be able to tell you all the best ones to watch, too. Dad is an expert when it comes to these things, trust me, little man. It will make me a little jealous, watching you wax philosophical on the inherent differences between DC and Marvel comics with your Dad instead of me, but it will also make my heart soar inside.

Here are some things you need to know about me: I will at some point lick my finger to remove that bit of ketchup on your cheek. It’s going to drive you bananas, but it’s a mother’s job to make sure her son is spic-and-span (most of the time.) I will be your biggest cheerleader throughout your life, and you will roll your eyes at me during every event–be it soccer, baseball, football, gymnastics, dance, math tournaments, or whatever outlet you manage to fall in love with. I will be here for you whenever you need someone to talk to, and if you’re not ready to talk, I’ll be here just to hang out with you, too. I’ll teach you everything you need to know about cooking, so that one day, you can join your Pops and me in the kitchen on Sundays. And one day, you’ll be able to cook for your first girlfriend, and she’ll be so very impressed with your skills. (Trust me. Girls love a guy who can cook!)

But the most important thing you need to know about me, little man, is that I will ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS, love you–as big as the sky, as wide as the ocean, and as bright as the sun. Nothing can change that.

And so, I’ll keep dreaming of you, and hoping one day that we’ll finally meet. Until then, you are and will always be Mama’s Little Man.

All my love,
Mom

Click for Source

Click for Source

Encouraging Words

Words.

Words are soothing to me. They make me pause to think. They give me goosebumps. They teach me important lessons like civility, optimism, and grace.

I love to share words, to speak them and write them down, to repeat them over and over till they live on my tongue and in my soul.

It’s more than the writer in me, or the reader in me. Words are in the very essence of me.

I seek them out, actively searching for that perfect sentence.

I strive to string them together beautifully, flawlessly, effortlessly.

I surround myself with words: painted wooden signs, quotes jotted down on post-it notes, doodles in the margins of books.

Words give me power. They can be anchors, or buoys, or vessels. They can be wielded as weapons, or wrought with grief. They can be witty and pointed, or placid and dull.

Words are loneliness, and love. They are epic, and trivial.  Words are limiting. Words are freeing. They are weird and awkward, or subtle and shifting.

Words are romantic. Give me a bouquet of words–well-spoken, meaningful, lovely words–over a handful of flowers any day.

Words are more to me than ink on a page. And that is why, when I find myself on the precipice of something big–a life changing event, a major decision, a situation I know will test me–I turn to words for comfort and guidance.

I will write them down, post them in visible places, and horde them, knowing those words will give me the hope, courage, strength, and patience I need when the road gets harder to pass.

Words

The ink will stay as long as I need it to, until I’ve learned the lesson. Then I will wipe it away and replace it with new ink, and different words, surrounding myself with their beauty and wisdom.

I can relish in the knowledge that they are there for me, to serve as a reminder that the path I’ve chosen, while not easy, will be worth the effort of the journey in the long run.

Areas of Improvement

It’s the first of the year. Practically every human being I know is busy making promises to themselves about things they hope to improve upon this year. You might call it ‘making resolutions’ or ‘setting goals.’ Or maybe you just think of it as ‘making a list of all the things I want to do better this year, especially eating more chocolate cake.’  But either way, I’m banking on the fact that you’ve got a list of your own, whether it’s tucked into your brain, typed out on your smart phone, or taped to your bathroom mirror.

I hope success for each and every one of you, whether your resolution is to lose weight, or to watch every single item available to stream on Netflix in the next 356 days. (That’s a lofty goal, my friend. Let me know how it goes.)

I don’t really have goals that I’ve set in stone. Sure, it would be amazing to finally publish my novel, or start a new career, or lose 100 pounds. But instead of focusing on specifics, I’m instead focusing on areas of my life that I want to spit shine till they glow. In case you’re interested, here’s a compilations of those areas seeking improvement.

Blog 1

This probably isn’t a huge shocker for you guys. I’m intent on spending as much time writing in 2014 as ever before. Naturally, this includes AbbyGabs, but I’m also looking to finish the novel I’m currently working on and, hopefully, starting another.

In this same vein, I’m also looking to further my writing career this year. I’ve already signed up for my very first ever writer’s conference, PubSmart, which will take place here in Charleston in April. I’m excited, and exhilarated, and scared out of my gourd that everyone around me is going to be able to sniff out the noob in the room. (That would be me.) So I’m stocking up on extra-strength deodorant, holding my head high, and hoping that I’ll get something worthwhile out of this conference. Most likely scenario–I learn some stuff I didn’t already know. Best case scenario–I meet an agent who’s so excited to meet me and hear about my stuff that she’ll backflip herself right into a publishing contract with little ol’ me. Here’s hoping, right?

Blog 2

I don’t necessarily mean making more of the green stuff (although don’t get me wrong. That would rock.) I’m thinking more along the lines of budgeting. Saving. Building a nest egg. Finally buying a second car. That sort of thing.

Because between you and me, the first year of having Brian on a nurse’s salary, as opposed to a bartender’s salary, was a fun one. I mean, we were spending like we had money to burn. (Dolla bills, y’all.) So I’m hoping to curb that enthusiasm this year, and really start to build a good foundation for our financial future.

Blog 3

Big shock. Abby’s getting back on the weight loss train. Again.

Here’s the thing: I have never conquered my battle with weight. Not once. But, I’ll keep trying until I find the formula for success.

So I’m trying a different approach this year. I’m easing into it. Counting calories (because that’s crucial for me to be successful.) Drinking water. Making healthIER choices. Moving more and eating less. I’m taking Brian along with me for the ride, and we’re determined to whittle a few inches from our growing waistlines. It’s not going to be easy. It’s rarely going to be pretty. But we’re going to feel better, and sleep better, and have more energy to do the fun things we love. And that’s all the payoff I really need, in the end.

Blog 4

I can already hear a few of my closest friends rearing up to argue with me over this one. Here’s the thing: I’m a perfectly nice person. I smile at people in the grocery store checkout line. I make small talk with the postal worker when I’m buying my stamps. I’ll give you the shirt off my back if you need one, even if I’m wearing my ugly grandma bra. But there are 3 situations that turn me into a not-so-nice person.

I have road rage. There’s no doubt about it. Driving often frustrates me, and anyone who’s ridden in the car with me will attest to that. This year I want to find my zen behind the wheel and stop cursing so much at truckers who cut me off without even a second glance. (Peabrain.)

I have work rage. I’m less-than-friendly with certain customers because they’ve been so hateful and rude to me in the past. I get annoyed with other customers because they’re slow, or easily confused, or generally nosy. And quite frankly, my phone etiquette sucks. There are a lot of reasons for this that I won’t go into here on this public forum, but I’m going to work on being nicer to the people I encounter at work.

I have poor self-esteem. I mentally beat myself up all the time: over everything from how much I eat to what I say to people, and especially about my body. I think the words “Fat” and “Ugly” on a daily basis–about myself. I’m a nice person…most of the time. It’s time for me to start being nicer to me.

Blog 5

This is a fun one. I firmly believe that, in order to be a good writer, you also have to be an avid reader. And I do read a lot already, truthfully. But this year, I’m setting a goal for myself to finish 50 books in 2014. It’s not such a huge stretch–I’m sure I’ve read that much before. I’ve just never counted. So I’m going to make a list of the books I read, ones I plan to read, and challenge my friends to compete with me. I ♥ books.

And finally…

Blog 6

It’s no secret to our friends and family (and most of the readers here) that 2013 was a difficult year for Brian and me as we uncovered the truth behind our problems with infertility. It was a difficult path that we had to take together…and one that we’ll continue to navigate as we move forward with our plans to look into adoption this year.

I may not have a child in my arms by the time the Christmas tree goes up, but I’m hoping we will have made serious progress toward opening our home, and our hearts, to a child looking for us as much as we’ve been looking for them. We have so much love to give, and while we’re nervous about the coming challenges, we’re (finally) ready to tackle them head on.

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It may seem that I’ve set myself up for failure this year, with these lofty goals. And so many of them! But I firmly believe that we can accomplish improvement in every area of our lives that we want to, if we stay focused and driven. These are the things I want most for my life right now. And so if I want them, I have to work for them. Right?

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”  –Louisa May Alcott