Filed Under (Events) by catharine on Mar-13-08

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by catharine on Mar-03-08

Well, I’ve been going back and forth about whether I should post about this or not, but am throwing caution to the wind–at least as I compose within the editor page; we’ll see if I actually publish this to the web.  Early last month, just about the time our license showed up in the mail, I went to my annual exam.  It was like a little reunion after having spent so much time at the doctor’s office last year.  I even got to have a nice reunion with the trans-vaginal ultrasound or as my on-line girlfriends like to call it, “the dildo cam.”  I’ve just shocked some of my family, but I trust they’ll never mention it to me.  Anyone who has ever done multiple IUIs (you can Google it if you don’t know what that is) like we did a year ago, will have become intimately familiar with this bit of modern technology, and could probably even use one themselves if necessary.  I’m a 15x veteran myself, so I can actually just interpret these things myself these days.  Anyway, last month at my annual exam, my doctor decided we needed to reacquaint ourselves with my ovaries and uterus and so we did and found I have a fibroid.  Have you had these?  I’d welcome any stories unless they end with phrases like “and she died.”  Not to alarm you, they are benign tumors and mine isn’t causing me any problems.  But, as I mentioned how many ultrasounds I’ve had in the previous year, we’re all thoroughly versed in what my uterus was doing 9 months ago, and this is new, so it’s not unlikely that the fibroid is growing.  And should it grow too much larger, it would have to be removed were we to get pregnant.  The chances of that (getting pregnant) happening are about 3% we’re told, but we had planned to someday do IVF and up our chances to about 45%.  Now, however, the prospect of having surgery to remove the fibroid if it gets too big to maintain a pregnancy has pushed “someday” up to “May.”  Or so we were thinking two weeks ago……

All of this seems like a very bad introduction to our (hopefully) exciting news that we submitted our home study!  I’m not sure what we can/should say about this since it’s so early in the process.  We were sent her profile (a picture and two paragraphs); we sat and stared at it for a long time, stared at each other some, then stared at it again, then decided to throw our hat in the ring.  Ciff has interviewed eight landscapers over the past 6 months about the drainage problem in our yard and has yet to find a satisfactory solution, so when he was convinced within less than 24 hours about adopting this eight-year-old girl, I knew we were onto something.  And in his normal, concise manner he said, “yes, I think we should do it,” and so we did. 

The deadline for families to submit home studies is March 10.  So, people we don’t know, who wrote a home study for us that we haven’t read will mail this home study to people we haven’t even met.  “They” will read this home study of ours that we were assured was “good” (another uselessly vague term they bandy about during adoption) and they (the selection committee) will meet on the 25th and choose prospective families for Amber, whom we also have not met either but actually know more about from the two paragraphs we’ve read than we do about the people making this decision for all three of us. So, the 25th is the big date looming before us when we will know what lies ahead–IVF or adoption.  We’re very much hoping for Amber and an added blessing that my fibroid won’t grow so won’t require surgery so we can “just” do IVF at some point in the future, when it seems right–after I’ve completed reading the Little House on the Prairie series with Amber and Cliff has coached her first season of little league.

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by catharine on Feb-08-08

And now, the exciting conclusion to our adventure!  I’m sorry to have kept you all in suspense.  We indeed had our home study just about five weeks ago.  The social worker was in fact kind and gentle and all those things everyone tells you–for the first four hours.  By the fifth hour my eyes had glazed over, and I can’t provide any accurate recollections.  Unfortunately it was at this point (about two hours after I should have eaten something…anything) that he finally started asking us questions about the sort of child or children we hope to adopt.  We’ve racked our brains trying to remember what we said, but since neither of us had eaten or drank anything at this point, and our guest kept cheerfully refusing even water, we soldiered on.  I’m fairly certain we said no to “oppositional defiant disorder” because that sounded ominous enough without a definition, but we can’t be certain about the rest.  We may have adopted blue triplets.  We really didn’t care by the time he left, we were just happy it was over.  “Yes, yes, blue triplets sound delightful–now can we have some water?” 

During the portions that I do recall more accurately I remember that he asked us various personal questions both together and alone and various practical questions; for instance, could we raise a child to be Jewish?  Muslim, perhaps?  Not with very much accuracy, I would assume, as one might suspect looking at our family tree (which we had to submit) and seeing that 75% of the males in our family are named after saints and disciples.  But, no worries.  Apparently our shortcoming, whatever they be, were not significant enough to prevent the state from licensing us.

We received our license on Friday night!  Apparently we have the skills necessary for up to two children up to 17 years with care up to the level described vaguely as “therapeutic,” a term which they left suspiciously undefined–per usual.  What’s even more exciting than that?  A three ring binder of rules and regulations.  Yes, I was salivating.  It was 7:30 on a Friday night and I had to pry myself away to force myself to watch Jane Austen movies and drink wine with girlfriends.  No–I’m not being sarcastic.  To finally have a one-inch thick stack of rules and regulations is strangely satisfying.  It’s like discovering that in fact you do have an anchor on board your ship after drifting at sea for a very long time.  Of course there is no index or table of contents–but I have a ready supply of organizational aids on had at all times and am quickly sifting through it all and bringing some order out of chaos.

 So, what now, you ask?  Of course, we have no idea; no one tells us anything.  Will we meet with our social worker before she starts looking for a match?  Excellent question.  Should we expect a phone call from someone?  Are we supposed to just sit tight–don’t call us, we’ll call you?  We have no earthly idea.  How long do these things usually take?  No idea.  Six months?  Maybe.  Three years?  Possible.  We really couldn’t say.  We will, however, keep you apprised of our progress.  Recent medical events, however, have given us reason to believe we may have plenty to keep us preoccupied in the mean time.  I’ll tell you more about this, later.  In the mean time, please keep our future children in mind since they may very well be waiting for us at this moment.  We are praying for their safety and well-being, and are hoping that they are now in a safe stable home.

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by catharine on Jan-07-08

Before the holidays I limited myself to one phone call and one email to our agency about the homestudy.  I told myself I would not annoy them and press them to schedule the homestudy in the midst of the holidays, I would wait until after the holidays like a normal, rational person who is also busy and has things to do herself.  So, like all of you undoubtedly do when you have resolved not to appear overly desperate when a) applying for jobs, b) dating someone new, or c) adopting children, I pulled out my calendar, counted precisely four weeks out from our health inspection and pencilled in “call regarding homestudy.”  Then, at precisely 9:45 on the designated day, considerately allowing for morning coffee, message checking, and a one-hour I’m-not-a-crazy-woman buffer, I called to check on our homestudy.  They were polite and evasive like all good administrators, and told me they’d call me back, per usual.  But, within hours the social worker was on the phone.  It was like magic!  He was on the phone and could come as soon as this Friday, so I took the first available date.

We took the first available date because it was exciting and because the spring semester begins on Monday so it would be logical to do this before I start hassling with lesson plans and grading, but I mostly took the date because we were anxious to have the undevided attention of an adoption professional–a captive audience if you will–in our home for hours!  Although the whole idea of the homestudy is that he is supposed to ask us all manner of personal questions, I have a well-rehersed list of questions I want to ask him.  Cliff has told me he is not the magic eight-ball of our future adoption.  I cannot flip him upside down and shake tid-bits of significant information about our future from him; nevertheless, I persist.  I persist in this fantasy knowing full well I will be disapointed when he leaves and I still don’t know our children’s names or ages or conditions.  Yes, yes, I know; my husband has already told me–I will practice looking non-predatory and avoid using phrases such as “I’m you’re biggest fan” when he arrives.  I will be on my best behavior because, afterall, we are being judged.

When adopting, you read about the all-important homestudy, how everyone is so anxious beforehand and then finds it’s nothing to worry about afterall, how you don’t have to bake cookies or clean behind the fridge, and about how kind and gentle all social workers are, blah, blah, blah.  Yes, yes, of course.  But do you also know that they separate you and then ask you questions presumably looking for chinks in your amour like some sort of demented newly-wed game.  I feel like Gerard Depardieu in Green Card–we’ve been practicing our talking points, getting our story straight all week.  “Now remember, if they ask us “a” our answer is “b.”  A discerning look from me, then “it should be more non-challant than that.  We don’t want to look too critical, use a non-challant hand gesture.”  We practice this sort of thing with each other in the bathroom mirror.  How to look non-critical, how to execute an artfully convincing non-challant hand gesture.  All because this is going on our permanent record.  It really will.  I’ve read examples of homestudies.  They say things like, “The Smiths are a warm and inviting couple.  They obviously love each other and have an inviting home.”  Reading that sort of thing only makes me look at my husband and say, “make sure you act like you love me when the social worker is here.”  “I do love you.”  “Yes, but make sure you act like it so he can write that we’re a loving couple.”  “We are a loving couple.”  “Don’t you understand!?!  This is going on our permanent record!!!”  At which point, my husband gets this look I can’t define–he pauses for emphasis, then asks me when I ate last.  This is when I know the conversation is over for the time being and then usually find a toasted cheese sandwich thrust into my hands.

So, we are waiting for what has been promised to be five hours of the undivided attention of an adoption professional.  We have vacuumed and dusted and steam cleaned the stains from the living room carpet and all traces, we hope, of any stain from the rest of our lives as well.  We’ll let you know how it goes…

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by catharine on Dec-14-07

We passed our health inspection.  The man from the health department arrived, and my conviction that all would be well wavered only a little when he pulled out his light-saber like gun that he used to measure the temperature of the water in ever faucet in the house.  Apparently 110 degrees is good, but 125 degrees, that’s bad.  So, we stood at every faucet waiting for it to heat while he shot red lazer beams at the water and I looked on.  I followed behind as he peaked inside our fridge and cabinets and mumbled things like “excellent” and “very good.”  Inside I was thinking, “Damn straight! Those spices are organized, savory separate from sweet–what child wouldn’t thrive in an environment like that!”  I followed him through the garage, in which, for a moment, I thought our dreams of parenthood might be dashed by the haphazard placement of the lawn mower and ladder.  I was informed that a two year old wandering alone in the garage could be hurt by these things.  “Uh, huh?  Right..?”  I didn’t tell him what I thought would be the root of the problem in that situation, but I’ll tell you it wouldn’t be the fact that that ladder was left in the middle of the floor.  And, I followed him around our backyard where he praised our well-coiled hose.  “Is that good?” I asked.  “Yes, because of the dangers of entanglement.”  I tried to imagine Cliff or I trapped in the back yard, bound up by the garden hose in some freak lawn watering accident.  It was about this point in the inspection that I started to feel defensive of our theoretical kids–certainly we haven’t met them, but I’m pretty certain they’re going to be smart enough to evade the risks associated with a garden hose.

He also informed me that the tops of our fence should eventually be sanded down because of splinters–splinters are apparently a real danger.  He ran his hands up and down the boards of the fence and along our deck, which didn’t seem like a good idea to me because of splinters.  But, not being a health inspector myself, I didn’t say anything.  I guess I figured any kid we’d have would figure this out on his own, “Gee, when I rub my hands along the grain of wood, I get splinters…”  But, who am I to say.  I nodded gravely, “yes, yes, of course, sand down the tops of the fence line–first thing tomorrow.”  I told Cliff, but oddly, he’s at work today and not sanding our fence.  hmmm….

The inspection was concluded with me hastely slapping stickers on our back door, which is mostly glass, and since our nephew has recently run through a plate glass door, I will concede the need for this.  Once informed of this danger, however, Cliff, who takes all this a little more personally, calculated angles of entry and exit through the door, formulating complex equations taking speed and possible trajectory into account based on the placement of the kitchen table and informed me confidently that it would be nearly impossible for any child to go through our back door.   So there, state-health-inspector guy, we see your over-regulated beurocratic child well-fare standards, and raise you our over-priced and otherwise unused advanced education.

So, now we wait for the homestudy to be scheduled….

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by catharine on Dec-07-07

We have finally submitted the last of our application paperwork.  Neither Cliff nor I have Tuberculosis (yes, we join you in breathing a collective sigh of relief), and assuming all goes well on Monday during our home health inspection, and they find that, in fact, we do have indoor plumbing and, in fact, do not have evidence of rodents in the house (these are among the minimum standards I was given), we should be able to begin our Home Study this month–maybe.  It seems difficult to get a straight answer out of anyone, and since we did drag our feet this fall while I taught and finished my thesis, I feel no need to rush anyone along–not that I harbor any delusions of actual control anymore anyway. 

I rarely feel a need to rush at all these days as my five and ten year plans out of college are entirely shot to h#*@ at this point.  First there was a sense of urgency, then there was panic, and finally there was a numbing sense of calm; they say you feel the same way just before you freeze to death.  Why do they make us write those things?  It seems their only purpose is to cause one to have mini life crises at even intervals of five and ten years when it becomes apparent that one’s goals were utterly unrealistic, or at least did not take into account two and a half years of infertility treatment, the bureaucracies associated with Child Protective Services, or the actual amount of time it takes to pay back student loans.  Somehow those details were not calculated into the grand plan–somehow those all important milestones that have literally consumed years of my 20s did not even exist ten years ago.  Maybe the purpose of the five and ten year plan is to evenly space the crises, which would otherwise come at inconveniently unexpected intervals?  Now, I can simply pencil it onto my calendar–“May 15, 2013, begin mini life crisis because you have not built enough equity in your home, you still have not decided if/when to do a PhD, you can no longer recite the first 30 lines of the Iliad in dactylic hexameter.”  The last one probably won’t bother me that much, but you never know–at least I can forgo panic related to it now for a neatly scheduled panic attack five years from now.  very civilized.

 Well, all that being said, we hope to soon announce that the state deems us fit to parent.  My two-year-old nephew will be relieved to know it.  Last night he informed me and his mother that “mamma works, but Catcoo doesn’t work.”  “Catcoo” is my deliciously adorable nickname that I hope will survive my nephew’s toddler years.  Now, why he has concluded that I don’t work is not clear; it certainly feels like work whenever I’m running around after him, and by the time I’ve graded 40 Greek exams in one afternoon, I’m convinced that I work.  But, because he’s two, and primarily because he calls me Catcoo and cheers when he sees me, his conclusions about my professional shortcomings seem not only adorable but also somehow insightful.  Maybe I shouldn’t work!  Maybe all I want is to spend my days with two year olds who claim every object within reach is their’s and demand to eat fig newtons like appetizers before every meal?  I’m certainly considering it.

 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.”  Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.”  As it is you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. (James 4.12-16)


Filed Under (Holidays) by Cliff on Nov-05-07

Halloween 2007Halloween was pretty fun at the Corder house. We had some people over for finger foods and spirits. I don’t know if people feared me but here is a picture of the Dread Pirate Cliff and his booty. I guess a smiling pirate isn’t very scary but he’s got to be doing something right with a beauty like that on his arm.

Filed Under (Thesis) by catharine on Oct-21-07

It’s really done now–there’s no turning back. After a seemingly endless editing process, during which I began strongly to suspect that I was in fact illiterate, I have submitted my manuscript to the thesis office, and although I will have to complete their edits as well, it is now certain that I will graduate in December. I’m breathing great sighs of relief. They tell me I am the 266th soul to be rid of their manuscript this semester–cheers to all 266 of us and whoever came after me.

I inked the final versions of my reconstruction of La Belle‘s standing and running rigging, both of which you can view if you’d like to see an image of my final research. Soon it will be published on the web, so if you happen to be one of the half dozen people or so who takes an interest in 17th-century French rigging, you can peruse it until your heart’s content.

I’m trying to decide how much energy I’ll have to pour into other activities now that this is finally finished–right now it seems to be directed toward our Halloween costumes: a worthy diversion. Stay tuned for images of the Dread Pirate Cliff and his booty, played by yours truly.

Filed Under (Events) by catharine on Sep-25-07

Filed Under (Events) by Cliff on Aug-26-07

Going to Denver in September.