• Elle's World
  • On extended family

    I come from a very large and complex family. Both of my parents are twice divorced, each with children from their marriages. I am the only child of their marriage to each other. Basically, it is a bunch of step-siblings and half-siblings and confusion. While, in total, I have 6 siblings, most days I am an only child. For one reason or another I do not have much contact with my siblings. Also, for reasons that are very real to me I have not spoken to or seen my dad in nearly 4 years.

    A few months ago I got a message from my Aunt (on my Dad’s side) to call her. It isn’t often that a family member from that side reaches out to talk to me. I picked up the phone and we chatted. The real reason for the call was to tell me that one of my uncles has lung cancer. Funny thing about cancer… every single time it gives you the ol’ bitch slap of a reality check. My aunt and I got to talking about my dad and basically she told me I needed to be the bigger person and pick up the phone. Trouble was, I didn’t know where my dad was or what his phone number was.

    A few weeks later my phone rang. It was my dad. It has been at least 5 or 6 years since my father had picked up the phone to call me. No Happy Birthday. No Merry Christmas. It was truly shocking. What’s more, he apologized.

    Since then, my dad has called 2 more times. Once to invite me to Thanksgiving dinner and another to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving. With that phone call he said he would like it if our family got together for dinner or such. I would like that too.

    I made it happen.

    In a round about way (using the hated social media and a telephone) I arranged for my dad, step-mom, sister, littlest brother, little brother and his girlfriend to come to our house for dinner last night. It was the first time all of these people have been in the same house, at the same table, at the same time. It was just us. There was no crazy aunt (different aunt) heckling us. No one was drunk. We sat at a table and ate off of real plates. After dinner, we played a game… like family. We laughed. We smiled. We had a great time.

    It was as if we were a real family.

    It restored my hope that I could have a relationship with people I had nearly given up on. My dad has been sober for over a year. This is huge. I learned he and my sister have a great relationship. I learned my step-mom works very hard to provide for her family (she always has). I learned my littlest brother isn’t as much of a screw up as I thought. I learned that my little brother has turned into a fine young man and his girlfriend is a true delight.

    At the end of the night my son was begging his uncles not to go. He thought these two new guys were the bees knees. That makes me happy.

    It was a giant leap for us. I only hope we can continue leaping forward.

  • Elle's World
  • Maybe this time

    This is one of those posts that I’ve avoided writing.  There are certain subjects that I’ve considered off limits.  They include my sex life, my job (although I blur that line a bit) and most of my childhood.  Ironic that I write about my child’s childhood huh?  Anyway, I also tend to avoid writing anything that may be considered TMI.  However, this particular subject deals with fertility, parenthood and just plain being me.  I have written so many posts over the years about my fertility journey it is difficult to link them all.  I’ve also written about having a second child.  Again, too many to link.  I doubt there are many new readers here anyway.

    For the past 8 1/2 years my husband and I have not done any extraordinary measures to not become pregnant.  8 1/2 years without birth control and not a single pregnancy is impressive if you ask me. The first month many many years ago I thought, “this is it!  Here we go.”  I had optimism and hope.  After the first year that hope started to wane.  It gave rise to doubt, then fear, then depression.

    Maybe this time.

    Each month I said it… Maybe this time.

    We started an international adoption.  We finished the adoption.  We have a beautiful little boy.  The whole 2 years, maybe this time.

    A year after our son came home we actively started trying to get pregnant again.  I took my temperature, I visited my accupuncturist on a weekly basis, I used a digital fertility monitor.  Surely this time. It was purely get down to business and make this happen.

    There was no baby.  There was hurt, sadness and pain.  Physical pain.  I’ve lived with a level of physical pain most of my life.  It’s a pain that most women can’t even imagine.  It is who I am and a part of who I had to be.  Even though I knew what the pain was from I still thought, maybe this time.

    I was holding onto this hairline rope and each month I slipped further and further down.  Every month, maybe this time.  8 1/2 years, maybe this time.

    In October I reached the last few inches of the rope.  The pain was more than I could bare.  There were other factors.  The bleeding.  The bleeding that nothing could slow down.  The two of them were in the way of me living life.  It was who I was.  I had resigned myself to the fact that I would just have to suffer.

    Years and years ago I drove by a church reader board.  It said, “If you’re already in a hole stop digging.”  It changed my life that day.  I dig a hole and the hairline rope was dropping me into the hole.  In December I was at the very end of the rope.  I had a choice.  I could let go and fall into the hole or I could grab hold and pull myself out.  I made a phone call and scheduled an appointment with my OB/Gyn (known as Dr. Awesome).

    I had to wait 2 weeks for the appointment.  I knew what he was going to say.  The 23rd of December I went to the appointment and sure enough, he said he wanted me to schedule another ultrasound.  My uterus felt enlarged and the pain and bleeding I was experiencing was certainly not normal.  I went for the ultrasound on December 28th.  I’m grateful for the chatty ultrasound tech.  She told me (and showed me) that I had a 1″ fibroid.  This time it was submucosal (the last ones were intramural).  This was what was most certainly causing the excessive bleeding.  I had a week and a half to discuss all of this with Derek.  We talked and talked.  I knew what my options would come down to.  Have the fibroid removed and try, yet again, to get pregnant right away or end my fertility for good.

    Last Friday we met with Dr. Awesome again.  Yes, there is a 1″ fibroid that is most certainly preventing me from remaining pregnant.  In addition I have a hemmoragic cyst in my left ovary.  Both of them are contributing to the excessive pain and bleeding.  I had 3 options.  1) have the fibroid removed.  It would maybe lessen the bleeding and be the only option to preserve my “fertility.” 2) Endometrial ablation. It would remove the fibroid, probably cut down on the bleeding, maybe some pain,  but totally end my fertility.  3) a hysterectomy.  It would remove the fibroid, end the bleeding and because of my previous surgery would have to be done abdominally and he could also fix scar tissue and clean up the endometriosis.  It would also end my fertility.  He told us to think about it.

    We left the office and I sat in the car and cried.  There was no easy answer.  If I have just the fibroid removed I still had the cyst and the endometriosis.  Given my track record of being able to get pregnant neither of us were confident that it would work this time.  If I had the ablation the bleeding might get better, but I’d likely have to have it done again and I would probably still have the pain.  The hysterectomy is major abdominal surgery where they remove an organ.  He was unsure if I would be able to keep my ovaries.  We know 1 will have to go.  We aren’t sure about the other.  If there is any endo on the right ovary it will have to go.  That would leave me with hormone replacement.  It wasn’t an easy decision.

    We’ve never needed to have a biological child.  In the weeks leading up to the appointment we had been researching adoption again.  We needed to know that there was an international adoption option out there that was attainable.  We think we’ve found one and we’re filing the information away in the “future plans” section of our life.  The final decision came down to quality of life.  For the past year I have not been the best person to be around.  Much of that is dealing with the loss of my mother-in-law.  However, I am only a half functioning human being these days.  I want to fall asleep on the couch around 7:30 each night.  I can barely walk up the hill to the bus stop each day because of the pain.  I take more pain killers than I’ve ever taken before.  I am miserable.  I’m tired of feeling miserable.  I am too young to watch my life go by just because I want to keep an organ that I’m not really using anyway.

    I’m opting for they hysterectomy.

    It means 6 weeks of no work and recovery.  It means adoption is option #1.  It means I’ll have my life back.  Sure, I’m scared as hell, but I’m doing this for the right reasons.  Because THIS time it will work.

  • Elle's World
  • A son’s grief

    Derek and his father are very private people.  It is a trait in men in that family.  I’ve been married to my husband for nearly 15 years and with him almost 19.  In all of that time I may have only seen him cry once or twice.  He is not one to overly show emotion.  One way he expresses himself is through video.  He’s been doing this for years and is something he’s very passionate about.  Over the past week he’s been working on a tribute to his mother.  When you ask him how he’s doing he’ll tell you he’s fine.  He chooses to focus on the good things from her life rather than what we’ll miss out on not having her here anymore.  I say what we’ll miss because, let’s face it, she did have a well lived life.  Here’s a glimpse into that life.

  • Elle's World
  • Prognosis unknown

    A few weeks ago I sat on the couch with Derek and mentioned how nice things were right now.  I was happy that I had a job and that this Spring I’ll be able to work more.  Derek had a stable job.  Things were nice.  A few days after that I though, that might not have been a good thing to say out loud.  Now that it was out there surely my world should come crashing down around me.  I am forever the pessimist.  Very few times in our 14 years of marriage have I been able to proclaim complacency.  Very few times in my life for that matter.  In an attempt to be more positive I told myself I was stupid for thinking that and to enjoy life.

    On Friday, the 8th, Derek’s Dad said Mom would be going to the doctor on Wednesday.  That pessimist in me starting to worry.  I down played it saying it was nothing.  I mentioned it to my boss and we agreed that it wasn’t going to be a big deal… but that pessimism kept nagging.

    Derek had a dentist appointment on Monday and was going to stop for lunch with his parents.  Dad said Mom had a terrible headache and that they couldn’t make lunch.  Wednesday was the doctor’s appointment and Dad said mom had lost a little bit of peripheral vision and they were scheduling an MRI.  My mind jumped to the worst case scenario.

    Thursday afternoon Derek called the house and said, “I’m glad you’re home.”  Of course I was home.  Where else would I be?  He informed me that Mom was in the hospital.  She had a brain tumor.

    I don’t know if this has ever happened to you.  You imagine the worst case scenario and that scenario comes true.  All of it.  My mother-in-law has a brain tumor and my whole world is crashing down around me.  If it hasn’t I hope it never does.

    Where am I?  In a strange limbo that feels like there is no light anywhere near the end.  The woman I turn to for advice, the woman that has been like a mother to me for 18 years*, one of the strongest smartest women I know is laying in a hospital bed with a hole in her head.

    The diagnosis isn’t good.  Cancer.  The prognosis is unknown.

    I can say that I’m angry.  I’m angry with God.  I was angry before, but now I’m downright pissed off.  I ask for prayers and I say them myself, but I am so angry.  For years I heard “God knew what he was doing” when we were waiting for Oleg.  “It was God’s plan.”

    Why is it we praise God when something good in our lives happens and say it was “His plan”, but when something bad happens we say, “bad things happen.”  Why does God have such a good plan and the bad stuff is just that… bad?  I don’t buy it.  The point is, I’m angry.  This shouldn’t be happening.

    Please don’t tell me not to be angry at God.  I have the right to be.


    *This isn’t to diminish my own mother.  That isn’t what this is about.

  • Elle's World
  • If you are praying people*

    If ever there was a time that our family needed prayers it is now.  Yesterday afternoon Derek’s mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  We are rather shocked to say the least.

    She is having surgery today to have a piece removed and after that we’ll know more.

    I don’t have many words to say about all of this at the moment.  That could be a lack of sleep.

    If you are praying people we could use some of those right about now.


    *Mom is out of surgery and everything went well.  The doctor took about a superficial 2″ piece of the tumor out, but left in the deeper portions in.  The tumor is likely malignant, but we won’t have the definitive answer until pathology comes back.  She won’t start treatment until that comes back and until she has a chance to heal for a week or two.

    We are still waiting to go in to see her.  I’m tired of waiting.

  • Elle's World
  • The feast that keeps on giving

    Do you know what day it is? ?Why it’s corned beef day! ?Ahh you thought it was St. Patrick’s Day didn’t you? ?In keeping with our theme of totally bizarre holidays I thought I’d rename it corned beef day.

    I’ve written about St. Pat’s before (here, here and there’s a recipe here) so there isn’t anything earth shattering. ?We are having friends over per usual and adding an informal whiskey tasting this time around. ?This way I don’t have to do wine club and St. Pat’s in the same month. ?I am sure a good time will be had by all.

    Happy St. Pat’s to you all.

  • Elle's World
  • Christmas Wrap-Up

    Would you look at that. ?Nary a Christmas letter to be found around here. ?I’m rather disappointed in myself about it. ?Um, not really.

    The whole trusty family arrived in Washington on the 22nd and we have been on the go ever since. ?We haul the dog with us (she’s finally getting adjusted to riding in the car) and between her and the no-nap-kid it’s pretty much been a whine fest around these parts. ?This week isn’t looking much better.

    So that whole Christmas wrap-up thing.

    Visited the old people (my grandparents). ?We spent Christmas Eve at the trusty in-law’s house. ?We ate food and opened gifts. ?I think the boy was a little confused that his cousin received more gifts than he did. ?What he didn’t realize is that she got all of her gifts from her parents in addition to the stuff from the aunts and uncle and grandparents. ?The boy also didn’t take into account that his biggest Christmas gift was laying on the floor next to him snoring.

    On Christmas Day we went to my parent’s house. ?Talk about the best Christmas ever. ?For the first time all three of my parent’s kids were in the same room. ?Little, Leo and Brian came. ?My step-brother Zac showed up and it was like we were a real family. ?Ok, we are a real family, but one that is so mixed. ?I think Zac got a kick out of these “new” sisters of his. ?Zac and I have been together at Christmas for the past 7 years or so, but this is the first time he’s seen Little and I together. ?What a riot. ?The old people joined us for dinner and I had the best time.

    Christmas morning was quite magical for the boy. ?Amazingly, he slept until 7:20. ?The dog was up earlier than he was. ?We heard his bedroom door open and then feet running down to the family room. ?A few minutes later the running was coming back to us and he ran into our room and said, “MOM DAD! Santa brought me a new scooter!” ?Best Christmas moment evah. ?Especially since I had forgotten to put the scooter out the night before and did it when I put the dog out at 6:00. ?Santa also brought the boy a new guitar so he and daddy can jam. ?Derek and the boy gave me a new scarf, a sherpa hat and the third season of The Tudors. ?There was also a gift for me from Santa. ?The envelope said:

    To Lisa:

    For all your hard work to help those who have none. ?Thanks for working in my spirit.

    All my best, Santa

    I cried. ?Not because of what was inside, but because I spend so much time to raise all of this money for children who have nothing and I don’t ask for anything in return. ?This year I have felt like such a failure. ?I had planned on sending the money to Russia on the 18th or 19th of December. ?As of this moment, it still isn’t sent. ?I have never had such an issue with trying to give away money. ?The bank has given me problems, paypal wouldn’t confirm our account and when we tried to transfer the money into our personal account it took almost a week. ?The good news is the money is now accessible and we will go to transfer it this afternoon. ?I only hope that it will get there in time for the children to have a good New Year.

    So what was inside the envelope? ?Tickets to the Cake concert on New Years Eve.

  • Elle's World
  • Something besides chocolate and dogs

    Our world has been overwhelmed with chocolate and animals, but that isn’t all that’s has been going on. ?Besides Thanksgiving.


    Look how beautiful that turkey is

    The Trusty Mother-in-Law celebrated her birthday. ?I would tell you how old she is, but I’m not mean. ?It doesn’t matter because she’s beautiful. ?See…


    This is one of the only photos we have of her with her eyes open. ?And they are even slightly closed. ?You could take a totally candid photo of this woman and she would have her eyes closed. ?I “favorite” family past-time at restaurants is to take photos of each other. ?This just so happened to be the trusty MIL’s birthday lunch. ?We often need to entertain the small child so we whip out the camera (which I always have with me) and take photos. ?It is a great way to capture fun family events.

    The same day as the trusty MIL’s birthday, my own mom retired from working in her horrifically craptastic job. ?She’s worked at a grocery store since time and it isn’t even that nice of a grocery store. ?It is full of meth heads, thieves and gypsies. ?It’s a rather skeevy place. ?We brought mom some roses for her last day and to officially say our good byes to the hell hole. ?Because she pretty much had free reign to do whatever she wanted she let the boy check out someone’s order. ?Which I’m sure the customer just loved the day before Thanksgiving.


    Congrats Moms!

  • Elle's World
  • Meet the newest member of our family

    I had a meeting at church yesterday afternoon so the trusty husband and the boy went home while I caught a ride with a friend. ?I walked in the door and the trusty husband said, “so I had an interesting phone call.” ?My response was, “should I get a drink first?” ?To that he said, “um, maybe… no… maybe.”

    While I was at my meeting the trusty MIL called to ask if we were serious about actually getting a dog. ?We’ve been talking about getting a dog for well over a year now. ?We’ve searched almost daily on the Humane Society website for a dog that would be a good fit for our family. ?We found a Jack Russel mix that we thought was going to be a good one, but it was claimed by two people and there was a court case pending about it. ?We didn’t want to be involved in that. ?Then we did some researching and thought we had decided on rescuing a pit bull. ?We were working with a local pit bull rescue and were matched with a 7 year old female who was just a love. ?We did some thinking about it and realized that we were 3 months away from our last post placement report and didn’t know how biased our dumbass social worker was about dog breeds. ?While the Russians could not repossess our child, they could make it difficult for future families. ?Pit bulls have a bad enough rap, I didn’t want a family missing out on having a child just because our social worker was stupid. ?We also got to thinking about the dog’s age and how the boy would react to potentially only having this dog in his life for a short period of time. ?Back to the drawing board. ?A few months ago we found a boxer mix puppy on the Humane Society site that I thought would be perfect. ?The trusty husband had his heart set on a Boxer (me on a Pit Bull). ?I went to check out the puppy and some slack jawed yokels took her right out from under our noses.

    We put dog finding on the back burner.

    One of the trusty sister-in-laws works with a lady who breeds show boxers. ?Sis talked to the lady and they had a litter of puppies being born at the end of November. ?This particular breeder has some sort of agreement system if you adopt a show dog. ?I was going to contact her last week, but got distracted by something shiny and forgot. ?We also didn’t want to spend $800 on a championship line show dog.

    Last week the trusty MIL mentioned that she saw boxer puppies in their paper. ?Really, was our response. ?Thus prompting the call on Sunday.

    The trusty in-laws drove to the owners house because she had 2 little girls left. ?If we were serious they would get one for us. ?As we were approaching the Christmas Tree Farm (did I mention yesterday was Christmas tree day?) the phone rang. ?”When you are done getting your tree you need to come pick up your new child,” the trusty FIL said. ?Um, ok.

    Last night this little girl joined our family.

    She is a brindle Boxer Mastiff mix. ?She is 8 weeks old and has no name yet. ?When I’m not totally sleep deprived (not because of the dog, but rather the wind) I will tell you a little more about her and our first day together.

    In the mean time… anyone have any suggestions on a name? ?We are having a rough go of it. ?The boy suggested Gemma (with a hard G) and the trusty husband said Bella. ?I don’t like either of those.



  • Elle's World
  • Thanksgiving 101

    Wow, I now realize that last year was the 10th year I’ve cooked Thanksgiving dinner. ?It all started because in 1998 we lived in Las Vegas and the trusty family said they thought it would be fun to have Thanksgiving in Vegas. ?The trusty MIL thought we’d just go to some restaurant for dinner. ?I would have no part of that. ?Then the trusty aunts and uncles and vegetarian cousins decided they thought Thanksgiving in Vegas would be fun too and I am stupid and said SURE! come on over. ?Tracy, you can eat cranberry sauce. ?And thus my adventure with cooking Thanksgiving dinner began. ?It beats the heck out of running around from house to house eating 1400 turkey dinners.

    I’ve been using the same turkey recipe for about 7 years now and I get rave reviews. ?Of course it is the same 5 people eating the turkey every year, but they wouldn’t lie to me… right? ?3 years ago I switched to buying a fresh turkey. ?It takes the pain in the ass work out of hoping your turkey is defrosted in time. ?The trick is brining the turkey. ?Evidently, this is the hot new thing (as of last year). ?Guess I’m just a trend setter. ?So here is how you go about delicious turkey.

    Take 1 preferably fresh organic turkey and pull out the bits that come with it (save those). ?Rinse it off and place it in a 5 gallon bucket (that is hopefully brand new and labeled “for poultry use only”). ?Add to that the brine. ?DO NOT buy your brine. ?You don’t need to. ?Brine is simple. ?Take 1 cup of kosher salt, 1 gallon of vegetable stock, 1/2 cup brown sugar and a bunch of peppercorns and bring it to a boil. ?Then cool that down to at least room temperature (refrigerated is best). ?BRINE! ?Place turkey, brine and a gallon of heavily iced water in the bucket and snap on the lid all the way. ?If you live in a colder northern state place the bucket on the back patio the night before Thanksgiving. ?If you live in a warmer state, well… invest in a 2nd fridge.

    Thanksgiving day take the turkey out of the bucket and rinse it again. ?Put it in your roasting pan, tuck the wings behind the breast so the turkey looks like it’s lounging about. ?Make a shield for the breast out of double layer aluminum foil and set that aside. ?Put a sliced apple, 1/2 and onion, 1 cinnamon stick and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe bowl and nuke it for 5 minutes. ?Put the cooked apple and onion inside the cavity of the bird. ?Add 4 sprigs of rosemary and 6 sage leaves to that and then slather the whole bird with grapeseed oil. ?Have your oven preheated to 500 degrees and open every window in your house and turn on every fan. ?It will get smoky. ?Take down your smoke alarms if you have children with sensory issues like mine. ? Throw the bird in the oven. ?Cook it at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. ?Don’t open the oven. After the 30 minutes put the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and place the previously made shield over the breast. ?Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and set the thermometer for 161 degrees. ?A 14-16 pound bird will take about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. ?Now you may have a martini. ?Let the bird rest about 15 minutes when it’s finished and reward yourself with another martini.

    You have now successfully made Thanksgiving dinner. ?Who needs the rest?