Sunday, November 30, 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thankful Thanksgiving Tag- in pictures

I'm thankful for this man and this child of East Africa - who came into my life one after the other, and who together bring a beauty to my life I find magical and delightful I am thankful for this daughter and sister (and premier pie maker) who is a keeper of the family traditions, smart and sassy, and lovely beyond wordsI am thankful for this daughter and sister who sees otters in the pond, reads in her Grandma's chair (here it is "A Room With A View"), and embodies joy
I am thankful for this son and brother, who brings smiles to our faces and reminds us all to be happy and goofy and kind and tender all in the same moment - and who can teach our Finnish "son" how to throw a football! (Schwartz in blue, Waffles in red)I am thankful for members of the committee (read:sisterhood) because I couldn't get there or be here without their wisdom and steadfast friendshipI'm thankful for a bountiful table - a bounty for which I am grateful but no more deserving of than any of my fellow humans

I am thankful for the festive spirit of my family - for the luxury of play right out our back door

I am thankful for giggling and laughing and a life already rich with memories and telling stories; "Remember when Grandma always sprayed whip cream in our mouths?"

Thanksgiving 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

This is my kind of evening

A lot of kids, a lot of giggling, a lot of horsing around, a lot of yelling and being silly. Testicles outnumber ovaries tonight and so there is some gaming going on - (it doesn't look fun to the girls in the house, but the boys tell us it is a lot of fun). There is also some Spanish speaking going on - a lot, actually. Let's see who is here; Schwartz, Waffles and his 2 friends, Twinkletoes, Songbird, and Twinkletoes boyfriend. Plus me and my beloved and Blueberry. That makes 10 of us all in the family room surrounded by ice cream and a chocolate pecan pie that Mr. Silly Pants made today for tomorrow. Uh, but it is getting eaten tonight. Perfect. Did I mention there is a fire in the fireplace? The only thing is that Blueberry won't go to sleep, and it's nearly 10 P.M. Ok, well, almost perfect.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Peeled Grapes!

About 18 years ago I remember seeing someone feed their infant peeled grapes. It might have been my sister. I remember thinking, "wow, that is really over the top!" Guess what I did today? I PEELED GRAPES this afternoon for my sweet son. Yes I did. I peeled the grapes with my bare hands and then fed them to him, gursha. OK, so I'm now in the "I indulge my child" club. I hope the big kids don't feel gipped since I never did it for them, and in fact, I scoffed at it!. But today as I stood at the counter peeling grapes I was totally aware that I was deliberating on my "over the top" opinion - and I kept on peeling them for darling Blueberry. Yeah, I peeled grapes today.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Jane Kurtz's comment about need

I was just reading one of my favorite blogs HERE today - catching up since being on vacation. I read the 3rd entry from guest blogger, the author Jane Kurtz. Jane writes about her efforts to bring books to Ethiopia's children and the hard work of this effort. She says, "In the dark, hard moments, I have several thoughts I hang onto: Need is everywhere, opportunity isn’t. And Money isn’t always the answer; in this case, it is."
Handwringing...yeah, sometimes money is the answer. Damn. I wrote about this 2 posts ago and asked what more I could do? Here's one opinion tonight. Yeah, and we just did an enormous grocery shopping at Whole Paycheck today and I'm wondering what we could NOT have purchased and thus add to our support of the kids. 6 bottles of wine? Organic cranberries? 2 scones and some praline muffins? Maybe the 2 boxes of Puffins cereal or the Odwalla bars? Are you tired of this yet? I'm exhausted by it.

Island Love

Our first trip to the beach near Grandma's house in WA state. Lovely island, lovely beach, lovely son. I can't wait for the tide pools this summer when Blueberry is toddling!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I can't get these beautiful young people out of my mind..

...and I don't want to! Look at them! I mean, really try to see them- they are so incredible. These beautiful children are our young friends in Lalibela. I miss them. I miss them every day. I yearn for the fulfillment of their dreams; for food on their tables, for daily schooling, for work for their parents, for their health, for warm beds and fresh water. What I know is that each and every one of these things for which I yearn are a daily struggle for each of them, a possibility but not a certainty. What more can I do? How can I help? The tiny one is 8 but is the size of a 4 year old. He brings lunch for his working father every day - a 3K walk in each direction.The big boys told me, "he is a very good boy - he works very hard, but he doesn't have enough to eat and he is so small." The young girl's father has died this past month and he was the sole family provider. She tells me in an e-mail, "He was a strong father and always wanted better for us." The brothers were sent to an orphanage when their mother didn't have enough to feed them, and are now out on their own with only shoes to shine. It is their room which is shown here (they are the 2 leaning on each other): I have sent them a small stipend to sustain their lives - oh but it isn't enough for them for more than 6 months- they don't have a bed - the blankets they have now are the 2 travel blankets we had in our backpacks. I blogged earlier about Richard (far left), who is in Addis, the beneficiary of our sponsorship for schooling. They struggle to survive. Richard can't continue his studies unless we continue our sponsorship (and it isn't a small sum). What more can I do? And finally, see these 2 mothers with their children. My heart aches. Some days I just can't enjoy the bounty of my life because of the injustice of what I have seen. What more can I do? If you are going to Lalibela, if you are going to Addis, if you have a thought about what more I can do, please share it with me. Really. How do I make a difference?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Today I celebrate my oldest child's 20th birthday!

That's right - Songbird is 20 YEARS OLD today! She is called songbird because when she was a tiny baby she used to "sing" like a little bird - and so this knickname has been hers from the start. I love this daughter; she is such a joy. She giggles and smiles all the time, has a great sense of humor, loves to be outside, is a terrific athlete (she swims and plays softball in college), and is truly the "old soul" in the family. Songbird is deeply compassionate and sensitive. Everything she does is done from a place of feeling - of kindness and tenderness. Some days I think this must be a burden for Songbird, but she carries herself with such grace and wisdom that her tender heart sings more than it aches. Somehow her wisdom and kindness is matched with strength and fortitude. This is why we all love her company - she is our "yes" girl - yes to walking in the woods, yes to watching a movie, yes to playing a game, yes to adventure, yes to friendship, yes to cuddles and hugs (although she doesn't really like me to touch her feet, and I'm a foot person!).

Songbird celebrates her 20th birthday at college today, where she is studying anthropology and biology. She has chosen a rigorous double major to compliment her talents and her interests. Songbird has done a lot in her 20 years - from traveling to Hungary solo, to an exchange year in Ecuador, to volunteering for a summer of service work in Mexico - add family travels to Kenya and Ethiopia and ....well, Songbird is also wordly! Did I mention she's a gifted artist and a musician? Yup, this young woman has my admiration and my adoration. She deserves it - plus some.

I have always known that Songbird needs the world, but more than that, the world needs Songbird! I love you, sweet daughter. Happy Birthday!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Young adult children with an infant sibling - how is it going?

(Songbird and Blueberry)
I've gotten quite a few questions about how my older kids are doing with their baby brother. The questions have been framed in a lot of interesting ways - are they jealous? are they feeling like you are distracted? do they feel replaced? do they like him? are they great helpers? it must be nice to have so many babysitters! - and so forth and so on.
(Waffles and Blueberry)
It got me thinking today - thinking about "how it's going." In a word - SPECTACULAR! Really, no kidding. When we decided to adopt, we framed the adoption as a "we" event. If we weren't all on board, we wouldn't have done it. I was surprised, actually, at our first family meeting that the big kids were "all in" right away. They were ready. It wasn't the first time we had talked about adoption as a family, but it was the first time that we (the parents) brought it to the kids with clarity - "we want to adopt to grow our family - how do you feel about this?" 100% yes was the refrain. Blueberry was a boy for all of us - a son and a sibling.
Mr. Silly Pants and I put a lot of thought into how we would keep the lives of the big kids feeling "the same" with the addition of a new little brother. In fact, we talked to the kids about what we thought would change, and what we thought would not. We also talked about how we would work together as a family welcoming a baby and little brother. It seems to us, actually, that we've succeeded - so far anyway. All 3 of them (make that 4 with Schwartz, our foreign exchange student) have quintessential teen lives - they go out with friends, they join teams, they eat us out of house and home, they have tons of laundry, they resist rules, they do chores, they forget to clean up their dishes, they hang out, they take the cars, they get a little testy now and get the picture. Mr. Silly Pants and I had hoped that the lives that would change most significantly in our household would be our own. Whew - is that true! In fact, we planned for this scenario by asserting that we parents would do all of the feeding, all of the diaper changing, and all of the primary caregiving (baths, finger foods, rocking, etc). After all, our parental primary care makes sense for deep attachment work - Blueberry KNOWS who his parents are -there is no confusion between parent and sibling in our household. And, as we had hoped, sibs get HUGE smiles and giggles, and we parents get the full array of emotions from our sweet babe.
(Twinkletoes and Blueberry)
So, I can answer these questions. No, the young adults are not jealous. They adore the baby. Nope, they don't feel like I'm distracted. In fact, since I am on leave from work this year I am much more present at home - more available, more and better prepared meals, and fewer demands that come with being a high school teacher. Nope, noone feels replaced. Oh my gosh, the kids are all cherished and beloved in unique and powerful ways. And, I'm pleased to say that the father of these young adult children has been super supportive of the arrival of little Blueberry - he even came over and cooked dinner for all of us one night when we returned from Ethiopia. In fact, we celebrated the 16th birthday of Waffles at his Dad's house, all of us (including Blueberry and Schwartz and my husband, of course!). Since we live in the same neighborhood, it makes the small and big adjustments easier. We ALL planned it that way - kids first. I am so lucky that the 4 adults in the young adults lives really do keep them first in their sights. Do the kids like Blueberry? THEY ADORE HIM! Waffles never walks into the room any longer. If Blueberry is in the room, Waffles throws himself across the room in odd rolls and sommersaults in order to get Blueberry to smile. It works! Twinkletoes lays on the floor with him every night while he chews her hair and practices "crawling and pony rides." Songbird makes special trips home from college on weekends to get her little Blueberry "fix." Helpers and babysitters? Well, we haven't gone out yet without the baby. I suppose we could, but because we are so focused on attachment, we haven't done that yet. And c'mon, you know how help goes with young adults - it's sort of hit and miss. That said, I get a lot of help from Twinkletoes and her boyfriend in the early evening when I am making dinner - they almost always are here and entertain Blueberry so I can get the grub on the table. But really, egos are alive and well among my young adult children. I'm glad about that.

After writing this all, I can say with confidence that Blueberry is such a delight for our whole family - we are perfectly adjusted to being a family of 6 (make that 7 with Schwartz!). Blueberry has brought us all closer - it's been a wonderful journey for our whole family. Yes, it's going wonderfully.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mr. Waffles is 16!

Yep, he's done it - he's made it to 16 and remained a totally lovable, kind, and fun young man! The little boy who wore a purple snow suit (later he told me he looked like Barney), wore his sister's hair clips when playing "ourselves" with them, loved to climb and jump off of the gym onto the jumping bed downstairs, and could play hours of "plastic animals" with Twinkletoes.. is 16! He grew up in a household of girls/women and survived with a full repetoire of masculinity - there's no question he's become a wonderful young man. He's a soccer player, an avid snowboarder, enjoys wakeboarding, is an excellent student, a good friend, and a very kind and loving brother and son. I have always said Mr. Waffles, my 3rd child and first son, was the icing on our family cake (Blueberry is now the sprinkles!). He's charming, kind, adventurous, gentle, and so full of humor and good spirit that it is hard not to smile when he is in the room. There is no sour or sullen with Mr. Waffles - the room takes on a festive mood when he arrives. His favorite movie? "Ironman" and the classic, "Night at the Roxbury". Get the picture? Did I mention he has beautiful blue eyes? The thing I love most about Mr. Waffles is his compassionate spirit -and I'll avoid his embarrassment by not listing all of the ways his kindness inspires me and his tenderness encourages me. It's fun to have arrived at 16 with this good young man I am honored to call "son."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Here comes the Judge!

Yep, it took all of 5 minutes to adopt our Blueberry. The happy judge laughed when we walked in and commented, as he read our biographies, "you two remind me of me and my wife, 'He likes fast boats, I prefer kayaks. He has a huge TV, I could do without TV." And so the readoption began. Blueberry sat at the table with his Dad, happy as can be. It was a touching little ceremony, followed by a bad picture (victim of a guys-and-their-gadgets bad camera choice - perfectly observed by ML - thanks for the quip!), and a good cup of coffee at one of our favorite coffee houses downtown. Uh, well the baby had a bottle and charmed the pants off of the coffee house patrons. We ought to get used to that, since he's a charmer.

A new morning - Barack and the Judge's Chambers

We are so excited to awake this morning - a new morning. This is, indeed, a great day. America is a place where the dreams of our founders is alive, our democracy works, and we are have brought CHANGE to America!

And you know what? Blueberry will be in the judge's chambers this morning where his readoption will be completed. THIS is a new morning. We head off to the courthouse with a lighter step and a renewed spirit. This is a family for our times - and I gotta say, I'm super excited about this wonderfully strong First Lady! And our little boy will grow up with our President, Barack Obama.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Blueberry votes for the first time!

With Mommy, of course! Did you vote? Get out and do it! Our family is so excited. We have 4 voters this year. Twinkletoes gets to vote for the first time without Mommy (LOL!). Songbird texted me from college, she voted this morning before her class. Mr. Silly Pants voted before work. Let's all vote - it is our duty.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dancing Sharks, Football Games, and Daylight Savings

Our city has a huge party for Halloween - and the kids made haste to attend tonight. It turns out that Schwartz is an excellent dancing shark. Who knew? Today, Mr. Silly Pants, Blueberry, and I went to college to visit Songbird - who is a sophomore. We attended the football game and then enjoyed seeing the new science center and hanging out with Blueberry's big sister. It was a perfect fall day. We all miss Songbird so much - and seeing her is always such a delight.

Tonight, since I'm not much for horror films, Mr. Silly Pants and I held down the fort tonight watching the History channel's "The Presidents" series. Did you know President Jackson was called "President Jackass" and that's how the Dems got their "jackass" symbol? Jackson liked it and adopted it for the party .I should know that, I'm a social studies teacher (who didn't stuy history, but don't tell anyone!) Exciting life, we know. It's hard to keep up with us! And don't forget to turn your clocks back - that's one more hour of the Presidents! We're only on FDR and it is 11 PM!