Monday, December 17, 2007
We opened gifts at our house this Saturday because we're going out of town this week. Bryan and I were up until 1:30 a.m. assembling the new train table. As we were finishing, Bryan said, "Now I know why my parents were always so tired on Christmas." Yes, we are just now figuring this out. I anticipate many sleep-deprived Christmas days for years to come, until the kids are old enough to request gifts that do not need complicated assembly. Of course, by then we will probably be waiting up for them to come home...
The late night effort was SO worth it though! I held the kids at bay until Bryan had the video camera ready. They walked in, saw the train table and raced straight for it without a word. Alex soon discovered stockings, candy, and presents, though Sam remained happily in Train Heaven for most of the morning.
Alex and I had been talking a lot about the song, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" which she has requested as her bedtime song for the past few weeks. I also explained to her that good kids get presents, toys, and candy - while "bad" kids get coal, which is like rocks and isn't much fun. When she saw the presents she said, "I was GOOD!" and "I did not pout!" and "I did not get rocks!"
Sam's fun was interrupted by a much needed bath, to his dismay. He did get to keep his Tootsie Pop in the bathtub though, which was a good receptacle for the copious amounts of green drool.
I am loving Christmas with a 1- and 3-year old! It is so easy to make them happy. And fun to see the innocent, surprised happy expressions. I'm glad we get to do it again in another week or so.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Not sure if the link above will work - and don't want to violate any copyright laws but here are some excerpts -
"Which is why you cannot tell someone to “just adopt.” As if there were anything “just” about it. It’s not like, “Hmm, what should I do today? Oh, I know! I’d love to fill out 500 government forms! I’ll just do that today! And then I’ll just schedule multiple visits with social workers, request letters of reference, declarations of good health, a complete financial inventory—I’ll lay bare every aspect of my life that can be summarized on paper. And then I’ll just have everything notarized. In triplicate.”
The complicated process aside, before making a new map for your life and choosing to adopt, you need to go as far as you feel comfortable going with treatment, mourn not being pregnant, and say goodbye to the future you assumed you’d have.
I liked the last paragraph too:
After everything my husband and I went through in our quest for the “miracle of life,” I know now what the real miracle is. Through everything—through miles and oceans and air and time and loss and grief and healing and acceptance and love—we found a way to our son and he found his way to us.
Kudos to you, Sarah Kelly - lots of heads are nodding in agreement and appreciation for what you put into words.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Turns out a construction worker was buried in 8 feet of dirt when a trench collapsed on him. Heavy equipment was brought in to rescue him but they were unable to reach him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
I can hear the news helicopter again, sitting here at my desk on a sunny cold December day. A day just like any other day - for us - but for one man, his last day. May he rest in peace.
Friday, December 7, 2007
In the midst of the Christmas season, with all the shopping and the lights and the cheery music, I am haunted today by two images which have reached around the world to me. It would be easy to forget them, and in prior years I probably would have been able to, at least with more ease than I can now. The needs of the world are overwhelming, and it becomes too hard to think about them all the time. But this year, these two images are lingering in my mind.
The first is a picture of several children at an orphanage in South Korea. The picture was taken recently by an adult Korean adoptee who writes for the NY Times Relative Choices blog (http://relativechoices.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/11/27/south-korea-and-its-children/). She was adopted at age 3 and grew up in the US. Seeing these kids, she wrote, "Looking at those children I could not help but think: I got out."
As great as it is that we were able to adopt Alex and Sam, in slightly different circumstances they could easily have ended up exactly where these children are. They could be the kids in that picture.
The second image is a black and white photo of a baby in a North Korean orphanage, sent to us by Holt International. They have been supporting orphans in North Korea for about 5 years, but this year, due to flooding on top of famine, hundreds of children are starving - and dying in terrible numbers. There is no heat in the orphanages; children are huddling together for warmth. Milk is so scarce that staff workers are grinding rice and grain into powder for "formula." After recently reading about the conditions in post-war South Korea in the 1950s, it strikes me that after all this time things are just as bad in the North--even worse, because they are cut off from many sources of aid that were available in the South. Once again - if Sam or Alex had been born just a little north of where they were - they could be the ones in these photos. The thought brings tears to my eyes.
There is normally little opportunity to send aid from the US to North Korea, due to government policies and other factors. I hope Holt will collect a lot of donations for its North Korea program (see https://www.holtintl.org/gifts/). As for us - how could we say no?
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Thanksgiving was great fun this year. We were all reasonably healthy (the kids had runny noses). Cameo and I split up the cooking for Thanksgiving dinner again and it was a true feast. Thank goodness the turkey turned out well - I always feel I don't know what I'm doing when I try to make big meat dishes. I have a new favorite dessert - Bryan's mom's recipe for "Captain Scott H's Key Lime Pie." Yum. The stores here don't carry key lime kool aid, so I used lemon lime and it was OK, but if I ever do find key lime kool aid I'll buy a lot. :-) Cameo's pumpkin gooey cake was very delicious too. We had our friend Jill and Buzz's friend Alison and family and we all played Catch Phrase after dinner. A good game you can play anywhere with any number of people. The kids were playing semi-independently, though at one point I wondered where Sam had gone so I checked. I found Ava pressing down on him in a corner with one of the chair pillows in the toy room. He wasn't complaining, just trying to sit up despite having a pillow and Ava on top of him, and Ava explained something about how she was trying to play with something (translation: trying to keep Sam out of her toys).
It was interesting preparing and eating such a decadent feast while in the midst of reading about the famine in The Good Earth. Several thoughts I've had while reading it...
- Women in this country are very, very lucky to live here and now.
- I thought I worked hard and for little reward in residency - reading about how the people worked themselves to the bone on the land (and still risked starvation) really puts things in perspective!
- Things happen "when the rich are too rich, and the poor are too poor." Reminds me of the line in Les Miserables, "Something's gotta happen now and something's gotta give."
- The protagonist of The Good Earth is a man, but I think Pearl Buck secretly makes the real hero of the story a woman. A plain, silent, selfless, sad woman who no one wanted.
- I cried when I read about Olan's death and Wang Lung's response. I'm pretty sure I liked this book well enough when I first read it in high school (20+ years ago now!?) but I think I appreciate it much more now. How many other books were half wasted on me in high school and college?
Anyway - not much more can be said about a long weekend of feasting and friends and time with my beloved family. I am deeply thankful.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Well, it's one step forward, one step back with the final bit of adoption paperwork. The application for Sam's certificate of citizenship was returned because I sent a personal check and they only take cashier's checks or money orders. I should have known better, having done this all before..."Doh!" Luckily this mistake "only" cost me the money it took to send the application by registered mail ($13 to cover several hundred dollars worth of original documents). What's another $13 at this point? Nothing really. It's just frustrating to make a dumb mistake on the last step!
The amazing thing was, they actually had the rejected application and all my forms back to me within 2 days of their receiving it. Not bad at all for a government office. :-)
On another note, we spent our Saturday morning with the largest mob of costumed people I have ever seen at the zoo's annual Halloween event, Boo at the Zoo. The animals must have wondered what was going on, but they took it in stride. It was great! Alex discovered blue taffy, Sam had his first big Tootsie Pop, and we all had a grand time.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Took my little tiger and pumpkin to Engh Gardens' "Pumpkin Patch" today.
Alex took off through the hay bale maze, so I had to grab Sam and follow before I lost her. Luckily I was tall enough to see over the bales so I could sort of tell where she was. It was cute seeing her little tiger tail wagging along behind her. Sam liked playing with all the tiny pumpkins, and several people commented on what a cute pumpkin he was. Alex wore it 2 years ago, but she would never keep the hat on.
I've decided after all these years I should really just get a costume I like and wear it every year for Halloween. I tried looking around for some fun masks or hats, but all I can seem to find in the regular stores are very ugly, gory, or grotesque. Not to mention boring. There are a hundred variations on witches, vampires, beasts, ogres, etc. Where are all the cute, innocent, funny costumes? Nothing seemed to inspire me. Finally I bought a $2.50 headband with two spiders with "googly eyes" wobbling around on springs on top. If anyone knows where I can find a Lisa Simpson costume, let me know. I would dress up as Lisa and carry a sign with my favorite quote of hers: "The courage of the small embiggens us all!"
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Today we got Sam's social security number in the mail. That means we have ONE MORE STEP in our adoption paperwork - obtaining the Certificate of Citizenship. After 4 years, I am ecstatic at the thought of being DONE!
The last step is exciting, but as with most things in adoption, it comes with a pricetag. The $420 fee for a Certificate of Citizenship is annoying for a couple of reasons. First of all, there is a law in effect that declares our adopted children citizens at the time of their adoption. BUT - despite that law - we still have to pay them $420 for the piece of paper that says it. Second, it is not technically "required" for us to get that piece of paper. Our childrens' passports, birth certificates, and adoption papers prove their citizenship. But passports expire, and in case there is ever any confusion (throughout our kids' lives the laws could change again - not taking away their status but people's understanding of it may be muddled, for instance if they are trying to apply for college scholarships, etc) so it's just nice to have that final declaration. For Sam, it's also a means of making sure he is never called to serve in the Korean army. Korean men have mandatory military service and I've heard about immigrants who were basically drafted after living in the US their whole lives. As I understand it, Sam's US citizenship means his Korean citizenship is automatically revoked.
So, I have downloaded the 7 page application for the CoC and the 8 pages of instructions and I will be happy to get them in the mail, despite having to write that $420 check. Lord willing, by the end of this year, we will be officially FINISHED with adoption paperwork. YAHOOOOOOOOOO!!!
Unless, of course, I can talk Bryan into adopting again in a few years! ;-)
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Slammin' Sam is a little ball of energy, a 21-pound tornado who spreads crumbs, toys, germs, kisses, and joy. We are in love with him. Well, with Alex it may be more like love-hate, but...anyway, here he is figuring out how to feed Elmo and modeling his shark pajamas. Note that his manhood is not at all challenged by the act of pushing dolls around in a pink stroller. He is in touch with his feminine side.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Lest I let days like this go by without remembering how fun they are, I will blog today's events for posterity...
Sam wakes up and as usual, mine is the first face he sees in the morning. Happy Sam. I wish I had a video of his facial expression, though, when we enter the kitchen and he sees Lena smiling up at us from her seat on the kitchen table. You can just read "What is THIS doing in MY house!" all over him. Later, I'm goo-gooing to Lena and she's smiling and we're having a happy aunt-niece bonding moment, when Sam taps me on the arm. I turn and say, "Yes, Sam?" and he plants a big kiss right on my face. And some people think babies have a hard time communicating without language!
Enter Ava, a few minutes later. She is greeted by Sam with his favorite all-purpose name for people, "Mama!" and she says very seriously, "I am not a mama." Take that, Sam-I-am!
We make blueberry pancakes with pink food coloring (lately Alex is really into colored pancakes) and the girls help stir the batter. While the pancakes are cooking the kids eat frozen blueberries. Soon I have 3 happy kids with blueberry faces and fingers, and spots of squashed blueberries on my recently-mopped kitchen floor.
Soon it's time to go to Calvin's birthday party (he's 3). Alex throws a tantrum over having to wear clothes instead of pajamas, and refuses to go potty (it's 10:30 a.m. and she woke up dry and hasn't gone since last night). I realize I have not had a shower and now I don't have time, so I put on more eye makeup and hope it will detract attention from my greasy hair.
The birthday party is well attended, chaotic, and a big hit with the kids. I enjoy talking with friends I rarely see, and we all say we should get together more but no one has time. Sam pushes trucks around and makes truck noises while Calvin opens his presents. Sam cries when he can't have Calvin's new trains. Alex starts whining that her tummy hurts, which means she REALLY has to go to the bathroom now. I take her to the bathroom but Sam sees us go, which causes his face to crumple and he stands at the door and wails until I let him in, while Alex pees about a gallon and instantly her tummy is better. Later she wants to be "baby Lena" and eats chocolate cake with her hands instead of a fork, and then gets into smearing the cake all over her tray and hands, laughing hysterically. (At least she didn't smear it into her hair, though it would be easier to remove than A&D ointment.) Sam grabs another kid's cake and runs off with it in his mouth, a huge grin on his face. He then climbs up on me, smearing chocolate onto my pants and shirt. He falls asleep in the car on the way home.
We all take naps. Afterwards, the kids get baths and I dress Sam in a cute outfit he could wear to church tomorrow. I make spaghetti for dinner. After picking a thousand strands of red-stained angel hair pasta out of Sam's clothes, high chair, table and surrounding area, I vow to make only "shell" pasta from now on. Sam is whining about something and I hear Alex say to him, "Sam, where is your sunshine?" I smile. My sunshine is right here, all around me.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
So after Sam got up I was in the kitchen giving him a snack when in walks Alex with a huge grin on her face. Her hair was completely PLASTERED with A&D ointment - which has been sitting on her changing table for years without her ever touching it. I couldn't help laughing, but after 4 washes with baby oil and shampoo neither of us was laughing anymore. Her hair is still stiff and sticky. In case you've ever wondered, A&D ointment just doesn't make a good beauty treatment.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Speaking of Sam, he has had a runny nose and 2 white sores on his tongue for the past 2 days. I wonder what this is, and I hope I don't get it. Since he has sneezed directly into my face a few times, I'm sure I'm exposed. Oh goody.
Despite my schedule I've managed to stick my nose into a few good books lately. I've read one chapter of The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, and I can see a kindred spirit in him already. I felt like I could close my eyes and point to the page, and almost anywhere in the chapter I'd land on a good quote. I remember laughing out loud at one description of someone whose "cheese is falling off his cracker." Wish I had a sample for the blog, but I don't have the book with me. I'll work on that.
I also started reading Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith by Rob Bell. I think anytime someone starts talking about "repainting" or "re-visioning" or "re-thinking" some aspect of Christianity, it makes some people really nervous and threatened. There is a Wikipedia page about Bell in which some of his critics call him various names, like "relativist" and "liberal" and the like, but I find it interesting they are calling him these names rather than pointing out flaws in his thinking or inconsistencies in his positions. If they want liberal, they should read something by John Shelby Spong - perhaps "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism", a book whose title I really love (haven't actually read the book though). Bell is pretty moderate, if you ask me. It seems he is just out there saying what a lot of us(maybe most) have been thinking, and is trying to swing the pendulum from way over on the "orthodoxy (right doctrine)" side, to a balance between orthodoxy and orthopraxis (right living). I think it's a healthy change. I bet I'd enjoy going to Mars Hill, the church where he is a pastor. But alas, I haven't found a Rob Bell or a Mars Hill in Utah yet.
Other books to consider, when there is time - Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, by Marcus Borg - anyone out there familiar with this author?
The Kalahari Typing School for Men - by Alexander McCall Smith - I cannot say enough how much I have enjoyed this whole series!
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
As an icebreaker we talked about where we were from and how we came to Utah. Not one person there was a Utah native. Several had just arrived here in the past 1-2 years. Amazingly, I had the (dubious?) honor of having been here the longest (13 years). Makes me feel old, but I probably was the oldest one there aside from the pastor's wife who has me by a few years, I think. Anyway, it reminded me that non-Mormon, non-Catholic Christians are truly in the minority (2%) here.
It also took me back to the days when we first moved to Utah. We went to First Presbyterian church and made friends with a bunch of people who were similar in age to the ones in this group - and they all moved away. I wonder how many in this group will still be here in another 10 years. I think a lot of people who move here wind up moving away again - especially if they're not of the "dominant religious affiliation."
Monday, September 10, 2007
resisting control or restraint in a difficult manner; unruly.
noisy, clamorous, or boisterous: obstreperous children.
[Origin: 1590–1600; < style="FONT-VARIANT: small-caps" href="http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=ob-">ob- + strepere to rattle); see -ous]
In her defense, she hasn't had the best week. She was ill for a few days, and last night she fell out of bed again (we really do need to install that bedrail). She also has not been napping consistently, so she gets more worn down at the end of the day. Between Sam's giving up his morning nap and Alex giving up the afternoon nap, we are all getting less rest these days. Anyway, I hope this behavior will be short-lived. I have heard people say that "threes" were more terrible than "twos" and I'm starting to fear what this year will look like!
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
And then, in the car on the way there, she started crying and saying her stomach hurt. I took her inside and she seemed OK for a few minutes, even playing and smiling at a cute boy (already a natural born flirt!). But I noticed she stopped playing and started grabbing her belly, and soon she said again that her tummy hurt. Was this just nerves? She told me she wanted to go home and, despite my uncertainty as to what was really going on, I decided I'd better be safe than sorry. So we left - and very shortly afterward, she did throw up, thankfully not in the car. All told, I think her first day of preschool lasted about 10 minutes. Poor Alex. I was so disappointed! But VERY glad I didn't leave her at the preschool!
Sometimes things just don't turn out the way you planned.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
It's been kind of a whirlwind month. We spent a busy week at Donner Lake, and between being gone 2 weeks in July and a week in August I'm still feeling behind at work. I also decided to make some slideshows for Alex and Sam, for her 3rd birthday and his 1st arrival day, and this was fun but pretty time-consuming. I tried to post one of them on YouTube but it never did work despite multiple tries - I'm guessing the 35 MB file size was too much, though the YouTube site says my limit is 100 MB. Oh well.
So this Saturday was Alex's 2nd 3rd birthday party, with family and friends at the park. It was really fun, the weather was perfect, and we had a great turnout - I think everyone we invited showed up (33 people counting ourselves and kids)- but between getting up early to work out, working on slideshows, planning and cleaning up after this party I'm feeling exhausted! But I couldn't be happier. Feeling so grateful for my life. :-)
We had the party at Wheeler Farm, a pretty park with large lawns and little streams that are instant kid-magnets. At one point my friend Nancy rescued Sam just as he was leaning over the stream and looked like he might fall in, and later in the evening Bryan looked for Sam and saw him standing in another little stream! Yikes!. I should have been keeping a better eye on him, but I was also trying to rescue Alex from bees, serve dinner to 2 kids, carry stuff from car to table, make party punch, and have some semblance of conversation with friends I hadn't seen in awhile. The older kids at the party were a lifesaver as they helped entertain little kids and keep them from wandering too far. Thanks to Nancy, Alex finally got her beloved bunny cake, with blue M&Ms for eyes, red string licorice whiskers and mouth, and chocolate chip nose. At the end we lit up the remaining sparklers from 4th of July which attracted not only the kids at our party but also random kids from the park who wanted to get in on the action.
After all the excitement I thought the kids would crash. Sam did, but Alex was up until MIDNIGHT playing in her room - since we put the big girl bed in, she is loving the freedom. I think we may have to curtail or end her afternoon naps if we want her to sleep at night.
Signing off - pictures to come soon, I hope.
Monday, August 20, 2007
2 and 1/2...
and now, "I'm THREE!"
I'm working on a video/slideshow, compiling the best of the past 3 years. Fun but it's taking longer than I wanted. She's really growing up. I asked her if she wanted to go to the beach and she said, "That would be fun, actually." She cracks me up.
Love you girl! XOXOXO
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Until it actually happened, I wouldn't have believed how much this would mean to me. The letter was addressed "My beloved Da Eun" and "Dearest lovely Da Eun" (English translation, of course.) Mrs. Kim thanked Alex for growing up so well and said how much she appreciated all the pictures we sent. She said she is still caring for little babies and "they are all so precious in their own way." She also sent a little package of hair accessories for Alex to wear. Incredibly sweet!
I got out the photograph of Alex with her foster mom, which had been put away for a while. I showed it to Alex and explained to her about her foster mom who took care of her when she was a baby. A couple months ago I started explaining to her how she was born in Korea, but I'm not sure how much she gets it. In a way, this letter and gift were the perfect catalyst for me to reinforce the story I've been trying to tell her - the story of her beginnings. For a while I wasn't putting too much effort into it, because she's so young, but I'm convinced it's never too early. I expect we'll be talking about it with Alex and Sam through all their developmental stages, and bit by bit, as they grow, the story will become part of their identity.
I read in an adoption magazine that it's a good idea to practice telling your children their adoption stories, even when they're babies, because then by the time they can understand it you'll be used to talking about it and hopefully it won't feel strained or awkward. At the time, I thought it was a little silly, but the first couple times I talked to Alex about it, it was harder than I thought to find the right words. It's getting easier.
I have a friend with an adopted daughter who doesn't seem to want to acknowledge her daughter's birth parents at all. She's afraid it would be traumatic and she (the mom) really believes that her birth mom had (and has) no significant place in her daughter's life anyway. I can understand that viewpoint, but I wonder what that does to her daughter's image of her own biological mother and her own identity. Like all adoptive moms, I suppose, we will have to figure out what is the best approach for our families. I hope Alex and Sam will never fear talking with me about their birth moms.
Alex's birthday party is approaching and I'm thinking about having a green candle burning during the party in honor of her Korean mom, like we did last year. In addition, I'm considering adding other candles to represent her foster mom and dad, and myself and Bryan. I'm hoping this will encourage people to see, acknowledge, and be thankful for all the people who have loved and cared for her.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
One man approached us in the airport and said his daughter and her husband were considering adoption. He wanted to know how much it cost. I usually love talking to people about adoption (shamelessly promoting it, of course), but I am starting to balk at the "cost" question especially when it is being discussed directly in front of the kids. I want to be honest - yes, adoption does involve fees - but it seems pretty tactless to quote numbers - like putting a pricetag on your kids. And really, if you just met someone who had required infertility treatment to have a child, would you ask them (in front of the child), "So, how much did you wind up paying?"? I read one adoption magazine article that suggested, when asked how much you paid to adopt, to ask the questioner how much they paid for their house! I haven't done that yet but some day I may find the nerve. For now, my answer to the "cost" question is something like, "After the tax credits, it costs about as much as having a baby in a hospital" and "A substantial part of the fees go to support other kids in orphanages who are not adopted."
That said, it still saddens me that adoption fees are often high enough to be out of range for a lot of decent hardworking families. I bet a lot more kids would be adopted if the fees were lower. Once I read that for every healthy baby that needs a family, in the US there are 25 couples looking to adopt. No wonder international adoption is so popular. I also read that before Roe v. Wade, the demand for adoptable babies was pretty much equal to the supply. I'm not sure what adoption fees were back then, but it would be interesting to know.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
The good news was, they seemed to do just fine. My first day back home they both kept within close range of me and wanted to be held a lot, but by the second day back they seemed to be back to normal. Oh, and Alex didn't urinate for 18 hours that first day. A little scary. Of course I can't prove there's a connection between my absence and her withholding, but...it's pretty interesting.
The bad news was that Bryan admitted he felt more relaxed while I was gone. Oh. I didn't think I was that anal, but he says I'm "uptight" since the kids came along. Probably true. I suspect this comes from my criticism of his feeding them hot dogs a lot, putting pots in the "wrong" cupboards, not soaking dishes, and letting them wear their pajamas all day. I think I've probably always subconsciously assumed the role my mom had, which included being in charge of everything involving kids, the kitchen, and laundry. I think it's hard for me to share this stuff with Bryan and let him do it his way. I remember my sister in law telling me she had to learn that "Daddy's way works too." Anyway, I'm trying to un-tighten myself but when you've been a perfectionist this long, it's an uphill battle.
On a completely different note, I finished reading The Time Traveler's Wife (the greatest things about this trip to DC: time to read, and seeing Phantom of the Opera at the Kennedy Center). The TTW was a fun read - at least, fun at first, and then it got really sad, but I guess that's just art mimicking life. It was well written, very evocative, and got me thinking about appreciating the everyday stuff of life. The other book I just finished, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, was very fun to listen to (I listened in the car) because of the reader's accent(s). As my friend P. says, "It makes you LOVE Botswana." True. I would love to have Mma Ramotswe as a friend. She's one of the most lovable characters I've ever met in a book.
Well, tomorrow we fly out to NC for our annual family vacation. Sam hasn't been on a plane since his airlift out of Korea, and I'm dubious about his tolerance for being confined that long. I'm bringing crackers, cereal, dried blueberries and cranberries, new books and toys they've never seen, dental floss to pull out and unroll (cheap, but Alex liked it last time she was on a plane), the Magna-doodle, a sticker book, and crayons. Oh, and a box of band-aids, that should be a big hit. Alex's new favorite book is "Doctor Dan, the Bandage Man." First published in 1950, it features a very 1950's looking mom and kids putting plain band-aids on their toys and each other. It doesn't seem to matter that there are no Dora or Tigger characters on them - Alex shares that universal toddler trait of band-aid love.
Guess I'll go start packing.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
I have a theory about the origin of this dream...Recently I've been listening to a fun novel in the car, "The Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" by Alexander McCall Smith. It takes place in Botswana and snakes do figure in the story a couple of times. In one episode, the protagonist sees a snake disappear from the road while she is driving and is astute enough to realize that the snake has gotten into her engine block. Bryan and I actually witnessed this once, in Arches National Park. We saw a large hawk swoop down and grab a snake, but then it dropped the snake on the road. The car in front of us had stopped to watch, and then they lost track of where the snake went. Sure enough, it was coiled around the various engine parts under the hood, and we spent some time trying to get it out. Eventually we succeeded, but the poor snake crawled away rather crookedly. That was a bad day for him.
Saturday, July 7, 2007
July 4 we went to the pool with our friend Scott and his 3 year old daughter Lora. It felt good to cool off. Sam has a total kamikaze approach to the pool. He would just walk right in and drown if we didn't stop him. Several times he got a faceful of water, or got his head dunked when other kids bumped him or he just fell, but he just took it in stride. This kid has no fear. I am constantly reminded of his need for supervision. Yesterday he opened the front door by himself and went outside - it was a minute before we realized where he was. Oh brother. Speaking of Sam - today he really and truly signed his first word: "More." I was kind of relieved, because he has been slower with language than Alex. He babbles and shows understanding of what we say, but hasn't said any words for sure.
Luckily I went to the pool on the 4th, because on the 5th I had a skin lesion frozen off my back (probably an AK) and I was told not to go in chlorinated pools for 2 weeks. Hm, that puts a damper on pool time with the kids. Oh well...there are always the sprinklers.
I finished reading a fascinating, and scary, book called The Coming Plague (thanks to Tammy my microbiologist friend). If you're not germophobic now, you will be after reading this. I don't relish getting on a plane this summer after reading about all the diseases you can get, especially in light of the multi-drug resistant TB case last month. There is nowhere to hide from the microbes...
Next week I head to DC for a work meeting. I'll be gone for 4 days, the longest I've ever been away from the kids. :-( On the bright side, a work friend and I are already planning to see the Phantom at the Kennedy Center.
That's it for now...life is uneventful, but I don't mind. Life has a way of generating events, and I'm sure we'll experience something soon enough.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Still, there was a pang as I packed up the bottles and bottle warmer. My baby is growing up and doing it fast! Next thing you know, I'll be sighing with relief when he's out of diapers - but already missing (and forgetting) all the cute things he does now - his babbling, his bow-legged baby gait, and the way he throws his hands in the air when we say "Yay, Sam!" Good thing I have a brand new niece to dote on. She's cuddly, softer than silk, light as a feather and exudes that new-baby smell. Another whole "first year" to observe and marvel at.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
I was thinking about this kind of "love in action" as I pulled into the parking lot of Barnes and Noble on Sunday. A middle-aged man with sandy hair, glasses and a plaid shirt waved me down and asked me if I could spare any change. I don't know about other cities, but I've noticed that in Salt Lake the new story is always that the money is needed for gas. They are passing through town, they ran out of gas, they just need money for gas and they will be on their way. In fact, every time I've been approached in a parking lot in the past few years, this is the story. Anyway, all the reasons not to give money to this man went through my head. "Maybe he's lying about needing gas. He will use it for drugs or alcohol. My money won't do anything for him. It won't change him or get him a job or whatever he needs. Why should I give him my hard-earned money? If I give him money it will just encourage him to keep preying on kindhearted strangers in parking lots." Etc., etc.
But here he was, asking me for help. Another voice spoke in my mind. "Give to him who asks of you, and to him who would borrow from you, do not turn away." I imagined Mother Theresa and the missionaries, who give away everything that comes to them and make it a point not to turn anyone away who comes to them for help. There is a freedom in that. I don't need to know the history of the one in need, or the outcome of any gift I give. As Momma T. said, "We are not called to be successful, but we are always called to be faithful." I gave the man some money. Maybe I'm a sucker, but in some way it is hard to describe, it was more satisfying to know I gave something away than to listen to all the reasons not to. Maybe this is part of the meaning of "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
Friday, May 18, 2007
He also loves outdoor adventures. I don't know how much this is a reaction to spending his early years in Brooklyn, but once he moved out west he never looked back. He drove, rafted, hiked, backpacked, and motorcycled pretty much the entire Western US. I wish I had a map of the miles he's covered, including umpteen trips through the Grand Canyon. When he gets back, I'm going to encourage him to write a memoir. I bet he's got stories I've never heard.
So, here's to you today, Dad. I hope you're having fun, using your mosquito netting, and keeping your patients pain-free. Happy 71 to you!
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Once there were two women who never knew each other.
Two different lives shaped to make you one.
The first one gave you life, and the second taught you to live it.
One gave you a nationality. The other gave you a name.
One gave you emotions. The other calmed your fears.
One sought for you a home that she could not provide.
And now you ask me, through your tears,
© Author Unknown
Friday, May 11, 2007
Friday, May 4, 2007
Last week, one of the group members invited us to his home - which he brought to us. It's a converted bread truck in which he has been living for the past three years. A white painted board on the back proclaims "Simplify" in green letters. Five portholes punched into one side provide light; the inside is spare but inviting and clean, with a faint smell of varnished wood and a camp-out feeling. He explained that he used to have a three-bedroom house full of stuff--but became convinced he really didn't need it. He plans to spend the summer on the road, sharing his home and his "simplify" message with whoever happens to be open to it. He pointed out to us that the average US family has decreased in size since the 1950's, while living space has increased - to the point where we now have 6 times the living space our grandparents had. "Give away your stuff!" he encourages. "You'll be amazed at how good it feels."
Refreshing - and challenging. I love the fact that this guy is living out his convictions--"walking the talk", so to speak. I've always liked the concept of living simply, though I haven't practiced it consistently. I sincerely enjoy the process of de-cluttering, and I think if I lived alone I would prefer a smaller, emptier space - but since kids have entered my life, the process of accumulation has already accelerated. How much time do we spend just trying to sort through and clear away the sheer jumble of stuff that comes at us?
I remember reading an article about the psychological stress of all the choices we have to make now - from buying a digital camera to simple grocery shopping. Is it possible to have too many choices? I remember trying to choose a health insurance plan when I was hired for my current job. It literally took me an entire day. I pored over the fine print trying to compare apples to oranges and weigh multiple types of benefits against each other. Choosing a cell phone plan, or buying a computer, is the same way. Even if we didn't own a lot of stuff, or gave most of it away, just living in this world requires us to navigate complex systems on a daily basis.
So, besides giving away your stuff, and not buying junk you don't need in the first place, what other ways can we simplify? Should simplicity be an end in itself, or should we focus more on managing the complexity we necessarily face - taking from it what we can and minimizing its potential to overwhelm us?
Friday, April 27, 2007
As good as this felt, I feel a little guilty. It felt so decadent to spend the whole day on ME, doing what I like. But still, I had a great time! I think the fact that I'm working and earning money helps me justify the cost. And when I picked up the kids at 5 p.m., they were happy. We took them to McDonald's for dinner and then got their portraits taken at Sears, and they were happy, well behaved, fun to be with, and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening.
So - you moms out there - how often have you done this? What did you do on your day off?
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Ironically, I misplaced my keychain the day of Sam's adoption in Utah's great hall of justice, the Salt Lake County Courthouse. At the time I thought, oh well - I'd rather gain a kid and lose my keys than the other way round.
But that was when I had no idea how much car dealers charge to replace keys and those little "keyless entry" remote controls. We could get copies of one car key at Lowe's for a couple bucks, but the Toyota key has a "chip" to prevent such convenience. This way, the dealer can charge $45 for the replacement key, $138.75 for the remote, and of course an additional $45 for the "labor" of programming the remote. The Chevy dealer - isn't this amazing - charges the exact same fee for the programming, but the Chevy remote is "only" $45.
This all reaffirms my view of car dealers. It's kind of like dealing with surgeons - I don't want to at all if I can avoid it, and in the end it's just painful. I'm still trying to decide how much it's worth to me to be able to lock/unlock my car remotely. Before kids, I wouldn't have cared at all. Now, I really like it.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
A little background: in the movie, Drew Barrymore's older sister is revealed to be 38 (same age as yours truly). Hugh Grant performs at her high school class reunion, which happens to be the class of 1987 (my class). Hugh Grant is an 80's pop music "has-been" - he was a big star in the 80's but has since been relegated to playing at, well, high school reunions. At the reunion, when he performs, the women in the crowd go crazy. Later, Hugh Grant jokes about his following among the "menopausal" crowd. Maybe it's just supposed to be hyperbole, but really, is that society's understanding - that we 30-somethings are already having hot flashes?
For the teens and twenty-something crowd who most likely make up the majority of this movie's target audience, I'm sure "38" does sound hopelessly old. But I protest: I still like to think there's a difference between late thirties and early fifties (the average age of onset of menopause). When you're 18, though, I think it all looks the same. Old.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Friday, April 13, 2007
- I finished reading The Great Influenza - a good, if long, book about the influenza pandemic of 1918. Scary. I didn't know it primarily killed people ages 20-35. We are so not prepared for the next time it happens. I passed up an "emergency food kit" at Costco, a big bucket of preserved food for $99 that's supposed to last 6 weeks. Some day I'm going to get just a little more paranoid and start buying that stuff. For now, we are still hoping to rely on the mercy of our good Mormon neighbors in the event of catastrophe. :-) Today, in fact, the same good Mormon neighbors invited us to an "emergency preparedness" event at the local ward.
- Bryan's grandma, Great Nana, hasn't been doing so well. She's been combative and non-cooperative at the nursing home. :-(. She even threw her Bible at one of the aides and called her a "hussy." This is about 6 weeks after starting Zoloft...sigh. It's sad.
- Am currently reading "The Courage To Be" by Paul Tillich. Apparently this book was all the rage when it came out, but by the time I was in college had dropped off the required reading lists. I like it but it's pretty heavy stuff. I feel like I'm back in college again. I wish for a group to discuss it with, but I doubt I'll find one anytime soon. Maybe online.
- Listening to "When We Were Orphans" in the car - a detective story taking place in London and Shangai. The reader is one of the best I've ever heard - he ranks up there with Willem Dafoe reading Steven King's The Langoliers. He does voices and accents really, really well. It makes me glad I'm listening to it rather than reading it. Fun.
- Alex said something cute the other day. Her pants had no pockets and she said, "Oh, I'll go get my overballs. They have pockets." Overballs. As my friend Nancy said, "If she were a boy, that would be true!"
Sunday, March 25, 2007
I guess I am having "survivor" guilt. I am no more "worthy" than those who are suffering, and dying, merely because they are caught up in circumstances beyond their control. I happened to be born into relative privilege, and on top of that I've been "lucky" (or "blessed") in a lot of other ways. When I read books like The End of Poverty (by Sachs) or The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne, I feel both hopeful and impatient. I'm glad there are people out there who are really making a difference; yet I wish the difference were more tangible.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Despite what you might think, for an "educational" CD, it's not as boring as I thought it would be. For example, when using the word "relentless" in a sentence, the narrator says:
"The rabbit's appetite was relentless. He ate and ate until he was all swelled up like a furry balloon. Then, he exploded."
Overall, the readers do a good job of entertaining you while presenting groups of related words. Problem is, after the first 15 minutes I realized I already knew most, if not all, of the words. Is my vocabulary really that exemplary? I doubt it. I also subscribe to "A Word a Day," which delivers a new word to my inbox each morning. Many of these words are new to me, like today's. "Calvous" is another word for bald. I will always remember it because my friend Tammy's son Calvin was essentially bald for his first 2 years. Unlike my kids, who both needed haircuts before their first birthday, Calvin was quite a calvous little guy. :-)
Oh well. If anyone has any good recommendations for books on CD or tape - preferably older ones, so I can get them free at the library - please feel free to suggest them!
Monday, March 19, 2007
And for a rendition of "I will survive" like you've never seen before, check this out:
I've known a lot of musicians, but not many with the combined musical and comedic talents of these two.
Joo is of Korean heritage and was raised in England, according to his bio. I enjoyed hearing him count in Korean ("hana, dul, set, net").
Thursday, March 8, 2007
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
It's painful to imagine my own children might ever feel this way, but realistically it would be very natural for them. And it's a double whammy - to an adoptee, it can too easily seem that they were not "first choice" for EITHER their biological parents or their adoptive parents. Ouch.
Like many adoptive parents, we did try to conceive before starting the adoption process. Unlike some, we also always hoped to adopt someday. When we ran up against infertility, we decided to forego any treatments and proceed directly to adoption. We knew we were already interested in adopting, even if we eventually conceived, and it just seemed like adopting was the right way for us to become parents. Will knowing this help Alex or Sam? I don't know. What I DO know is that I have absolutely no regrets. I can't imagine life with any other children besides the two I have. I may not be able to keep them from internalizing the messages society sends to adoptees, but I hope we'll be able to have honest dialogue about it all someday.