Friday, May 25, 2007

Arrival Day - times TWO!

Two years ago today, we brought Alex home from Korea. Ah, memories. It was a magical, brutal 38-hour day thanks to the 14-hour time change and the long overnight flight. I had a fleeting sense of panic as the foster mother kissed Alex one last time, whispering Korean secrets into her ear, shoved Alex into my arms and ran away weeping. Alex had a great time in the Korean airport playroom, but cried for much of the plane ride, and was subjected to a full-body search in the San Francisco airport. The pictures of our arrival in SLC tell the story: we are rumpled, our hair is a mess, our eyes are tired, Alex is somehow still awake and alert and looking around curiously- but we are finally HOME.

I can't believe how much my baby has changed since then. There is no way to describe the delights of the past two years. I think back to my life before I was a parent and it seems almost one- or two-dimensional in comparison to the full-color, 3-D, high-speed blur that life has been since then. Alex is such a joyful little girl, so animated, so full of life and zest. We are truly BLESSED to have her and days like this just remind me of it.

In addition - an extra-special ARRIVAL happened today here in SLC. John and Cameo's long-awaited baby was born this morning at 7:15 a.m. Cameo went into labor shortly after midnight, I think, and she pushed for about 1 and 1/2 hours before delivering a beautiful 7 lb, 6 oz girl with ten purple toes (see picture). Everything sounded like it went smoothly, a relief since this was Cameo's first "regular"-style delivery after Ava came out by C-section. They really liked the nurse who was on duty (her son goes to our church - small world) and Buzz seemed really happy with the way it all happened. Lena latched on and nursed shortly after birth and seems to be content, quiet, and interested in this strange new world she has landed in.

Two cousins - two arrival days - two years apart. Welcome to the world, Lena. So happy to have you, Alex. My cup overfloweth. :-)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dad

Today my dad is 71. He happens to be in Papua New Guinea right now, volunteering with a surgical mission team, doing primitive anesthesia with some sort of ether contraption. He had been warned about extreme heat, and malaria, and dengue fever, and having to haul a 50-pound box of supplies into the bush, but he still wanted to go. Sounds like dad! He finally retired last year, but I knew he would find ways to keep working. I think he really loves doing what he does.

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

Mother's Day 2007

This is the first Mother's Day since 2003 that I haven't been in the process of "waiting" for a child. There is such a deep inner joy that comes with having some of your life wishes fulfilled. It's not that all of life is perfect now, but in this motherhood arena at least I am feeling full and happy.

I am also mindful of the fact that, due to the nature of adoption, my happiness had to come at the expense of someone else's. Now the tables are turned - it is the birth moms of my kids who are "mothers without a child" on mother's day. I wish I knew if they ever go back to the agency and check out the file on their babies. Do they look at the pictures? Read the letters? Or is it just too painful?

Another mom posted this on a website I frequent. Once I thought these kinds of things were sappy. Now they make me cry. :-)

Legacy of an Adopted Child

Once there were two women who never knew each other.

One you do not remember, the other you call Mother.

Two different lives shaped to make you one.

One became your guiding star, the other became your sun.

The first one gave you life, and the second taught you to live it.

The first gave you a need for love. The second was there to give it.

One gave you a nationality. The other gave you a name.

One gave you a talent. The other gave you aim.

One gave you emotions. The other calmed your fears.

One saw your first sweet smile. The other dried your tears.

One sought for you a home that she could not provide.

The other prayed for a child and her hope was not denied.

And now you ask me, through your tears,

the age-old question unanswered through the years.

Heredity or environment, which are you a product of?

Neither, my darling. Neither. Just two different kinds of Love.

© Author Unknown

Wishing for healing and comfort for all mothers who are grieving lost children. And to the birth moms of my kids: you are in my heart forever.

Friday, May 11, 2007

reasons for eating less beef

Even though I don't eat much meat, I've never seriously considered being a vegetarian. I think it's mainly that I don't want to restrict my diet very far in any direction. I like variety and convenience.

That said, some people in that small group I've been attending were talking about global warming and the surprisingly large contribution cows are making to our "carbon footprint." Not only do they produce that infamous methane gas, but the land cleared and water used for their pastures means less land and water for other food production, and the amount of land, water, hay etc. to support cattle is much greater than to support chickens, people, etc.

According to my vegetarian friends, the single act of abstaining from beef would have much greater positive environmental impact than almost anything else we (as individuals) can do -- including buying a hybrid car. Interesting.

So, if it would stop global warming, would I give up eating beef? Sure. I enjoy a good steak now and then, but I hardly eat beef anyway. For me it would be an easy sacrifice. But then I got to thinking - what if I had to give up dairy? Does dairy production require a similar number of cows and have the same impact on environment? Heaven forbid I should have to permanently forego ice cream!

If anyone knows about the relative impact of dairy consumption on the environment vs. beef consumption, feel free to respond.

Friday, May 4, 2007


The past two weeks I've been attending a new small group. I was invited by one of my fellow church-nursery volunteers. In between holding babies and picking up chewed Cheerios, we had discovered some common interests, and he thought I might enjoy this group. So far, it's been good.

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?