Sunday, October 31, 2010

What I Really Want

This piece would look INCREDIBLE in our entry. 
It would go great with the brick wall of our loft that was once a factory. 

J found it on the net. I called Cleveland Art to find out how much. 
$1200 plus shipping.
Such an amazing piece and a lot less than J thought it would be. 

Considering I just want it so the kids can hang their coats and toss their gloves, scarves and hats in the winter and their flip flops in the summer, it seems...a bit much.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy 800th!!

This is my 800th blog post on WidneyWoman.

I've really enjoyed this blog. Through it, I've "met" and met some pretty incredible people. This blog has enabled me to document our children's lives as I never would have if it was left up to a pen and paper. Somehow, knowing people are reading it seems to make me want to come back.

One of my favorite aspects of blogging is being able to help people. The adoption info, the Chicago info, the crochet patterns, and most of all, the fun, madness, mistakes, and accomplishments of my family life that helps other people to feel normal or maybe not quite so alone. The emails I receive from people thanking me for living a transparent life really make my day.

This may be "Happy 800th, Widney Woman" but I sure don't feel that old!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Motor Mouth did this self-portrait in K4.
Notice the hair? The kid has always had a strong sense of self.

After showing the K4 self-portrait to Motor Mouth, he asked: 
"Is my skin peach?" It was not. Seems he felt he could do better. 
Here is his 2nd grade self-portrait.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Widney Wednesday - Pumpkins!

It's been a looooooooong time since I've done a Widney Wednesday. While this does not meet up with my usual all out event night, it was a fun time.

J made a Jack-o-Lantern

While I gutted the pumpkins and roasted pumpkin seeds
Carving pumpkins and roasting pumpkin seeds is a very 'Canadian' thing to do. The word 'Canadian' here actually means 'white'. As in, white people do this kind of thing.

It was my first time gutting a pumpkin and roasting seeds.
I researched pumpkin seed recipes on the Internet.
You know what I learned?

Pretty much, do whatever the Hell you want with them:
Dry over night, don't dry them over night. 
Use olive oil, or butter, or vegetable oil, or canola oil. 
Add table salt, rock salt, sea salt.
Add the salt before you dry them, while you dry them, 
before you roast them, or while you roast them.
Fry 'em up in a pan or roast them in an oven.
Bake 'em for 45 min, 60 min, or more.

My husband and kids LOVED them!!
That's all that mattered to me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Race to Nowhere - MUST See Documentary

I have viewed the documentary 'Race to Nowhere'. Now, I'm telling everyone I can think of because we HAVE to help our children. Parents and educators MUST SEE this documentary that talks about the dark side of America's achievement culture.

This remarkable new film shines a light on the price young people pay for this 'race to nowhere.' High-stakes testing has replaced meaningful teaching and learning. Cheating is commonplace. Stress-related illness, depression, and burnout are rampant. Many young people arrive to college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired. Become a part of the grassroots phenomenon that is feeding a groundswell for change.

Watching this movie made me happy our son attends the school he does and made me wish every school in America and Canada would put learning - not memorizing and not teaching to the test - at the front and center of their curriculum. School should be a place of learning, fun, and where creativity and expression run rampant. School should not be the source of stress and anxiety for elementary school children! And not a place where cheating and stress are the norm for high school children.

Attend a screening of 'Race to Nowhere' in your community. In Chicago, Daystar School has a screening on Tuesday, October 26 at 7:00 pm. Tickets are available for purchase online at: for $10 (plus $1.54 svc fee) or at the door $15. The documentary is rated PG-13 and is not suitable for young children. 

If your city does NOT have a screening of this film planned, talk to your child's principal or your religious group. Screening information is available at This is a MUST SEE documentary that everyone should see if they are a parent or educator.

#10: Thermos - As in the Bottle

I was reading the Merriam Webster Dictionary online and found this interesting list: "Top 10 Names From Trademarks" and thought it would make a good blog series. Only the words that struck my interest made my blog.

#10: Thermos

What we now know as the thermos was invented in 1892 by British scientist Sir James Dewar, a scientist at Oxford University.

A German company marketed Dewar's invention, and soon thermos became the generic term for any container with a vacuum between an inner and outer wall that helps its contents retain their initial temperature (rather than cool or warm to the ambient temperature).

The American Thermos Bottle Company bought the trademark rights in the U.S., but never managed to stuff the language back into its bottle. After decades attempting to prohibit the generic use of thermos, the then-renamed American Thermos Products Company lost its trademark in court in 1962.

So where did the word come from? A contest: the winning submission recalled the Greek thermē, meaning heat.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

#6: Band-Aid - As in Ouch!!

I was reading the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and came across "Top 10 Words from Trademarks" and thus birthed this blog series. I'm only doing the words I find interesting.

#6: Band-aid

In the early 1920s, a woman named Josephine Dickson – who tended to injure herself in the kitchen – grew tired of trying to wrap her cuts with bulky, clumsy gauze.

This inspired her husband, Earle, to invent what became a simpler, sleeker alternative: sterilized, pre-made adhesive bandages. Earle offered them to his employer, Johnson & Johnson – whose marketing triumphs included shipping free Band-aids to the Boy Scouts.

Although the noun Band-aid is still protected under trademark (i.e., "Band-aid brand"), the adjective band-aid is generic. Since 1970, folks have been using such the term in such phrases as "a band-aid solution."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

#3: Jungle Gym - As in Monkey Bars

I was reading Merriam-Webster Online when I found this article on the "Top 10 Words from Trademarks." This is officially a new blog series and no, I did not skip #2 by accident. I just wasn't interested in the word.

#3: Jungle Gym

In 1920, Chicago lawyer Sebastian Hinton trademarked the Junglegym (one word).

He modeled his structure after one devised by his mathematician father, who had envisioned children learning about three-dimensional space by climbing to specific x, y, and z coordinates.

Over the decades, the beloved structure has been updated, and the trademark status lost. However, newer designs still honor what the inventor called the "monkey instinct" of kids.

The (two word) term jungle gym first appeared in 1923; the never-trademarked, closely-related term monkey bars traces to 1955.

Friday, October 22, 2010

#1: Heroin - As in the drug

I was looking at the Merriam-Webster online site and came across "Top 10 Words from Trademarks".  Fascinating. My favorite line is: "...which unfortunately caused large numbers of users to become heroin addicts."   

#1: Heroin

In 1898, the German pharmaceutical company Bayer began marketing heroin – whose name comes from the German word heroisch, meaning "powerful."
The product was marketed as a cough remedy made from a supposedly non-addictive morphine derivative. It was also used as a cure for morphine addiction – which unfortunately caused large numbers of users to become heroin addicts.
In part because of the growing population of "junkies" (a term that may derive from the fact that some supported their addictions by selling scrap metal), Bayer eventually ceased production and lost its trademark.
In 1914, American officials began regulating opiates, including the generic, powdered version of heroin.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Hate My Blog

I came over here to grab a photo for a work project and got sucked into reading my blog. Yes, I too read my blog. Sometimes, I read the entry titles and I am curious to learn what I actually wrote about. No, I'm not insane (well maybe a little - just enough to keep life interesting for me and for you) but keep in mind I have 5 blogs, 4 Twitter accounts, and Facebook. You can't possibly expect me to remember everything I write.

Monday, October 18, 2010

2 Years, 6 Months

We officially moved from Tulsa to Chicago 2 years and 6 months ago today. J and I were talking. We are still in a bit of shock and disbelief over living in Chicago. "We get to live in Chicago! How crazy is that?!"
Neighborhood Park

Whenever we would have a layover in Chicago on our way to Canada, J wished we had enough time to drive past Harpo Studios and see Michigan Ave. Having worked at Sears Canada headquarters as a computer consultant, I had a natural interest in seeing the Sears Tower in person. Never panned out though.

Now we LIVE here! And were front row center at an Oprah Show, sitting on reserved seats that had our names on them!! Michigan Ave has become our kids' playground and I'm looking at the Sears Tower from our downtown Chicago loft as I type this.

J said, "Who knew when my parents took us to the Planetarium and the Field Museum that I would now be a member at both of those places?!"

Chicken in the Car
When I was a kid, my dad used to say, "Chicken in the car, the car can't go, that's how you spell 'Chi-ca-go'".  He had another one for France and another city.  Cute little ways on how to remember to spell certain cities. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd ever live in Chi-ca-go!!

Two and half years into our love affair with Chicago, all 4 of us are more in love with Chicago today than we were back then.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


When I went to Canada last weekend, the kids wanted to go their uncle's home. He wasn't there. But this was:
The drive to Shangri-La-Di-Da

Side yard

 Back 40

 The pool

View from the deck 

View from the pool's rock waterfall

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Stairs of Death

In Ontario, when I went to school, if you were going to university, you had to take 5 years of high school. You graduated in grade 12 and went on for 1 more year in grade 13. 

I did well in sports and enjoyed health class so I took PE/Health for 4 years. It was only required for 1-2 years. I wanted to take PE/Health in grade 13 but just 1 thing stopped me.

These stairs.

(guys I went to school with at the school's 50th anniversary last night)

From the time I started high school, I knew these stairs loomed in my future. I had no qualms running around the entire school, going up and down other stair cases, running for 90 minutes straight.  I just couldn't do THESE stairs. So I didn't take PE that year. For real.

You see why, right? Those are steeeep stairs!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010


I gave my client 2 weeks notice this week. I am so heartbroken.

For two years, when I go to my client's home to work in his home office with him, it is a bright spot in my day and week. So many times, I have gone over there tired, stressed, sad, broken. But when I leave, it's like a healing balm has been placed on my spirit. I walk out with a spring in my step and I'm really happy. It's not that my client says anything special. He is just one of the most interesting, intriguing, and unique individuals I've ever met.

My client's values are no where near those of mine. His lifestyle is like no one else I've met - that has admitted it! So many people I know would not have worked for him. But I learned so much and was exposed to a completely different way of thinking than ever before. If you are surrounded with people who all hold similar beliefs and values and live similar lifestyles, you don't get to find out what others think. You cease to be challenged in your belief systems and can become stagnant, close-minded, and stuck in your ways.

Since moving to Chicago, I've once again become exposed to people of different faiths, orientation, lifestyle, political views, etc. It's refreshing and feels like home again. I'm sad that someone with such a different voice will no longer be in my life on an almost daily basis.

All that, and let me tell you, my client is one of the nicest, kindest, most gentle and brilliant men ever. I'm really, really sad that my life is just too crazy busy to provide the level of service he deserves. Now that I give it more thought, of everyone I've met in Chicago, I've spent more time with my client than with any of my friends outside of my family and a handful of people from work.

I love my life. But I hate it too. I hate that I have to choose and this is what has to go.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cream of Wheat

I'm so excited!!!!
J is an artist. One of his ancestors was too.
Needless to say, it made sense to gave him a copy of this 
artwork created by Gustavus C. Widney.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Knowing Me Knowing You - October 2010

Here is my favorite interview project once again...

1. Started your Christmas shopping yet?
No. But I ordered this thing for my J that I'm pretty excited about! Can hardly wait for it to arrive!! I hope he likes it. I should wait until Christmas to give it to him but I can't. Maybe that is why I don't buy Christmas gifts so early. I want to give them to the recipient sooner!!

2. Fall is here, what's your favourite cold weather comfort food?
Chili. Ron's Chili but I'm not aware of a Ron's Chili outside of Oklahoma.

3. Are you watching any new shows?
Yes. TMZ.

4. Have you read Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet? 
I just finished my first novel all year. Don't push it.

5. Is the top of your desk cluttered or clear?
Our home is a staging area right now until we get some custom furniture in and paint a few walls, and get rid of other furniture. So, yes, cluttered.

Now, head on over to The Fairy Blogmother to play along.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Open Adoption Myths Debunked

There is a lot of fear and confusion surrounding open adoption. Following are some common misconceptions:

Some think it is co-parenting. It is not. The adoptive couple are the parents. The birth parents have a special relationship with the child, often similar to that of a favorite aunt or uncle. The birth parents are not referred to as 'mom' or 'dad'. Typically, the child refers to them by their first name, or a cute nickname.

Return in Future
Some think open adoption is similar to foster care without involving social services. That the child will be parented by the adoptive couple until the birth parents can get on their feet and then return the child. Nope!!! Open adoption is a legal adoption that goes through the courts and terminates all rights to parenting by the birth parents while granting full legal parental rights to the adoptive couple. There is no going back. The open part is a promise to the birth parents that is not legally binding. However, if you, as an adoptive couple, promise a young girl that you will retain a relationship with her and allow her access to spend time with your adoptive child (the child she gave to you in good faith and with much heartbreak), and you go back on your word, may God smite you where you stand. Or sit. Or sleep.

Death Return
Some think that should the adoptive parents die before the child turns 18 years of age, he or she will be returned to the birth parents. Truly, someone asked me this. The child would go to whomever the adoptive parents designate in a will or if no will, according to state laws. Nowhere in the state law equation does the birth parent factor in.

Baby Snatching
Some think that if the birth parents know where the adoptive parents live, they will come take the baby. Well, if they did that, they would go to jail. Like any kidnapper would. Birth moms do not give away their babies. Birth moms choose a family for the child they love more than themselves. The child they love so much they are willing to sacrifice their desire to parent so their child can have opportunities they cannot provide at the time. A birth mom is not looking to rip a child away from the loving home she chose for him/her.

Some think open adoption is cheaper than closed adoption. Not sure why this would be the case, but it is not. Adoption fees pay for the services provided such as attorney fees, medical and housing expenses, counseling, etc. Some agencies offer a discounted rate for non-white babies. I find this deplorable. Run far from such a place. Every child and every life is of equal value.

Time Consuming
This was my biggest concern - I don't talk to my mom or my sister every day or even every week. How am I supposed to care for a baby and spend all this time with a birth mother????  When you fall in love with your birth mom, you want to spend time with her. We had a great counselor who helped us to discuss each other's expectations. Knowing what the other wants and can handle then meeting somewhere in the middle is key. I will say that typically, there is more attention given to the birth mom in the beginning. As time goes on, you tend to settle into a relationship and frequency that works for you both.

It's Just Not Healthy
Some think that it is better for the birth parents and the adopted children to never have contact. This cannot be farther than the truth. This is an old fashioned, old school way of thinking. It is harmful to everyone in the adoption triad.  No contact is only good for an insecure, needy adoptive parent who wants to pretend their child was not adopted. In 2004, I read a national survey in an adoption magazine that showed over 90% of adopted children either have, had, sought, or desire a relationship or knowledge of their birth parent(s)/family and/or family history. Over 90%.

Studies have proven that children who have or have had relationships with their birth parent(s) have a lower incidence of feelings of abandonment. That means it is healthier for your child. What is healthier for your child, is healthier for you.

Speaking of healthier, having direct access to birth family means a more complete medical history and family in case a kidney, bone marrow, etc. are needed. Our adoption agency has a 15+ page medical history document. However, our son's birth mother was 16 when she gave birth. Her parents were not in the picture. What 16 year old knows their family's complete medical history?? Having access later to ask questions is incredible.

Proximity Changes Minds
Some think that if the birth mother sees the baby often, she will decide to take the child back. Seeing the child often has the opposite affect. Yes, the birth mom's heart will break every time she leaves the child at first. But seeing her child in a caring, loving environment helps to reinforce that she made the right decision. Seeing how much joy her selfless decision gives to a couple helps to reassure her she made the right decision.

I will tell you that when our birth mom went to court to terminate her parental rights, the judge caused a delay by ordering an attorney to represent the her as she was a ward of the state. I started to freak out. What if she changes her mind?? Each time I felt that way, I called her and we chatted casually. Each time, I was reassured of her commitment to her decision. What if I didn't have contact? I would have gone insane for those additional 2 weeks. Insane!!

So, there you have it. Some of the most common misconceptions of open adoption. I wasn't sure about it myself. The book "Children of Open Adoption" by Silber and Dorner was extremely informative and helped me to understand the benefits of open adoption for my child and therefore for us. I recommend you read it for yourself. often has gently used copies available at a great, reduced rate.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ripped from the Headlines: Roommate Rage!

So there are these 2 old guys recovering from hip replacements. The 81 year old goes postal on the 91 year old. Beats him with a closet rod. The 91 year old dies from blunt force trauma. 

Why did the 81 year old lose it? Seems the 91 year old was singing in Vietnamese. 

The 81 year old is being held on $1 million bail. He faces life in prison. 

This mug shot had to be taken while the 81 year old was in a wheelchair. Notice the hole in the wall? I guess most mug shots taken at this police station are of a standing perp...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ripped from the Headlines: Burn Baby, Burn!

A man's house burned to the ground and his cats and dogs died because he did not pay a $75 annual fee to the fire department.

The man's home is located outside the county line. For about the last decade, the fire department in the neighboring county offered fire service for an annual $75 fee. This homeowner did not pay the fee. When he called 9-1-1, the operator said his location did not appear on their list and therefore the fire department could not go to the scene of his house fire. The man offered to pay the fee in cash when the fire department arrived. This is against policy because if that were the case, only those homeowners whose homes were on fire would ever pay the fee.

The fire department did arrive on the scene when the man's neighbor called as the fire had leapt across the property line. The fire men only contained the fire on the neighbor's property as they had paid the $75 fee.

Gosh, that sounds really harsh and unfair. But I get it. It costs money to put out a fire. More money than any of us realize. We are always shocked when we hear the fire department wants to charge someone for starting a brush fire that costs millions to get under control. By having everyone pay into a fund, the fire department can, I don't know, get new brakes on their truck, pay the fire men, get new fire suits every few years so the fire men don't burn because you threw a lit cigarette on dry grass in August?

I do empathize with the homeowner who lost so much. But I think it is a good lesson to all of us that there are fees for a reason. It's not just a money grabbing scheme. There could be a valid reason for charging what we feel is a foolish charge.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I Am Gay

This morning, I was inspired by my friend, Outnumbered, to be real and tell the world that I am gay*.

*Gay: Having or showing a merry, lively mood: gay spirits; gay music.

Indeed, I am gay. Not in the jumping in the air, clicking your heels and practically stabbing yourself with an umbrella kind of gay. But the life is good and I know it kind of gay. My life is pretty great. If you are happy and you know it, stomp your feet!!

Recently, my son made my year when he told me he enjoys spending time talking to me. Yes, he is 7 and he changed his tune 2 hours later when he didn't get ice cream for dessert, but he said it again a couple days later and I think deep down inside he really means it.

It's amazing how taxing crying can be on an entire family. After 4 years of incessant crying, our daughter has been doing much better lately. It's been a long time since she cried simply because it was windy outside. We have been working really hard to teach her techniques to self-regulate and it seems to be working as well as can be expected for a 4-year old.

My job is busy, all-consuming, yet fulfilling. I have a great group of co-workers and enjoy going to work each day. It feels like I make a difference.

We are in the middle of a redecorating project at home. Our loft looks like a used furniture store or an episode of hoarders right now. But there is a vision. A plan. And an end in sight as soon as our custom furniture arrives!! Our new loft look will finally match our city lives. It feels like we will be more authentic to who we really are. Or who J is considering he is making all of the decorating decisions.

There is some change coming down the pike. I'm excited and anxious for it. It will make life better and more challenging at the same time. But it promises to be a good change for our family.

Is life perfect? No. No one's life is perfect in every area. Grandma Barbara isn't here anymore and that makes life feel really empty sometimes. I have yet to conquer the mountain of laundry that is my nemesis. Single digit clothing sizes seem more distant as each day passes. And while we live in a really cool loft, it is not Trump Tower which means we have yet to become independently wealthy.

I have a great life that I enjoy living most days. And, I'm grateful to Outnumbered for reminding me that every now and then, we need to take account of all the good we have going on and recognize that we are blissfully happy and our grass is pretty green right now.