Tuesday, July 31, 2007

family on display

Last week Bryan, Alex, Sam and I traveled to North Carolina for our annual family reunion. For some reason, we seemed to attract more attention than I remember getting recently. (Maybe Sam's noisy squawking and running in all directions contributed...) Anyway, all during the trip, a lot of people (strangers) commented on how beautiful our kids are. At first I didn't really think much about it, because of course they ARE beautiful. But then, while walking around Blowing Rock and the mall and other public places, I kept overhearing conversations springing up around us that had to do with adoption. I began to suspect that we are being noticed more because of our "blendedness" as a family. It's the old "living in a fishbowl" phenomemon we were warned about. You may think you are just out doing normal things all families do, but like it or not, you attract attention, and you might as well get used to it.

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

first overnight away in 2 years

So, last week I went to DC for 4 days and 3 nights for a team meeting. I was somewhat apprehensive about leaving the kids, since I've never been away from them overnight. Even though I leave them 3 days a week to go to work, it seems different not to be greeting them first thing in the morning, and not to be kissing them goodnight.

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

Last night I dreamed there were large holes in our roof during a colossal rainstorm, so that little waterfalls were cascading from various places in our ceiling. This also caused all the wallpaper to come off the walls in the kitchen (in the dream we had wallpaper in the kitchen). As if that weren't enough, I saw a big snake in the living room and before I knew it, Sam was trying to play with it, so I quickly stepped on its head and killed it. Soon other snakes were popping up and Bryan and I were busy trying to catch them and protect the kids from them. Bryan got bitten by one but he assured me it wasn't poisonous. Weird dream huh? At the end of the dream there was also a mouse in the room, and we surmised that all the water was attracting rodents and therefore, snakes. It was nice to wake up to an intact and snakeless house, after that.

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

summertime - random stuff

It is HOT. We've had weeks of temps in the 90s and 100s and it's not letting up anytime soon.

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.