Monday, November 30, 2009

Where is ______________ ( fill in the blank); Singing Comfort in the Night

Every night I soak up the opportunity to hold and snuggle my little boy. I put him to bed with a warm bottle,  a rocking chair, his blankie, and singing. I always end with the same song. This post is about the last song.

I sing the final song to the tune of "Where is Thumbkin?", but I make up my own lyrics. I remember singing this song to Waffles when he was a little boy. I'd sing "Where is ____" and fill in the blank with the names of his cousins, friends, and grandparents. I'd make up lyrics and Waffles always loved the routine of his special bedtime song.

Like big brother like little brother - Blueberry snuggles into me, sighs, and I can feel his contented spirit when I sing. He just loves this "Where Is?" song. I have often thought this song anchors my littlest boy in his world, just like it anchored my biggest boy in his world. And yet, for him the anchor necessarily different. Blueberry lives in a house with big kids who come and go in ways I imagine must sometimes perplex Blueberry. So I sing. I sing order, routine, and security into his night and on into his day.

The reality is that Twinkletoes and Songbird are at college. They come home sometimes. They come home for holiday breaks. But, they essentially live away from home. And Waffles only lives with us part time. Every two weeks Waffles leaves and doesn't return until two weeks later. We might see him during the time he's with his dad, and we make good efforts to see him, and him us, but this is hit and miss. Our cat is even a 'shared' pet. I try to make sense of Blueberry's revolving house door with song.

Here are examples of my silly, made up, amateur, goofy lyrics. (To the tune of Thumbkin - more or less)

"Where is Songbird? Where is songbird? She's in college, she's doing homework. Songbird is in college, she is reading books and working hard, we miss her."

"Where is Herbie? Where is Herbie? He's sleeping now, on the floor. Herbie is a good dog, he ran and played today, now he's tired, he's asleep." 

"Where is Grandma? Where is Grandma? She's at home, on the island. Grandma is reading her book, it is a dark night, she's going to bed soon, just like you."

I go on and on...anchoring, making familiar, finding ways to tell a little boy it's ok to go to sleep, just like everyone he loves and everyone who loves him. I mention the boys with whom he stays when I work, the friend we walk with every Thursday, our playgroup friends, my sister and brother and their kids.

It's our routine, and WE LOVE IT!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

When The Family Effort at a Holiday Picture Looks Like Ghosts and Ghouls

We'll try some shots another day, but everyone won't be home again until December 23rd!

Goodness gracious - they  are so awful they make me laugh.

Fairy Production Line

Friday, November 27, 2009

Running Behind(s)

Our Thanksgiving morning started with a 5K run. We named our team, "Sweet Takinis." We believe this means, "sweet turkey's" in Amharic. It was a fun morning with my biggies. I ran the whole way. No comment on my running behind - wide load comin' through - thank you very much!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On how cute black boys do grow up and become black men

There is a lot of conversation in our home these days about racism. I'm taking a class called "Racial Healing" and Mr. Silly Pants is on a Tim Wise reading binge. It's been good fodder for conversation. We're trying to do our work - the work of raising our amazing, beautiful, feisty, tender, sweet, busy, and luscious brown boy.

I did a lot of research about raising an internationally adopted child, about transracial and transcultural parenting, and about attachment for adopted children. I read a ton. I read everything I could get my hands on. I talked with everyone who would listen, and everyone who I thought would have some wisdom and perspective. It has been quite a journey. I can say that my experience has only deepened and become more complicated now that Blueberry is our son - he is real, vibrant, beloved and black.

I don't know how I missed this post by a fellow (and oh so favorite) blogger. Heather says it perfectly, "Cute little black boys do grow up to be black men."  Well, I do know how I missed this post - I was in Washington state on vacation. We were on the Olympic Pennisula when THIS happened.  Heather was writing about the very things that made me cry and weep and convulse with fear and indignation.

So I was thinking about the following challenge for majority folks like me - what would you say about a challenge to bring minority culture into our lives 100%? Try it for a month. Do it for a year. Live it. Breath it. Everything you do must reflect minority culture - music, books, movies, TV, news, magazines,  eating out...everything you do must be with the intention of being outside of the majority experience.

I saw this challenge raised on a film clip we watched in our Racial Healing class - and it got me to thinking. People of color are SURROUNDED/BOMBARDED with images of white culture every single day. Think about it. Turn it around.

Are you up for the challenge? I think I'm going to learn a lot from this experience.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The bug has now been loaded into the ear

Last night Mr. Silly Pants and I took our Ethiopian friends to a Badger Basketball game. I arranged for 4 tickets (2 sets of 2) so we each enjoyed hosting our same gender counterpart - me with Assefu and him with Sisay.

We both had great nights with our new friends. Let's just tell it like it is; I like basketball just fine but I sure like talking more. So, Assefu and I talked and talked and yelled over the loud announcer. I'm pretty sure everyone in section 207 knows our son is adopted from Ethiopia, knows my heart aches for the realities of adoption and concern for Blueberry's identity, and knows I hope to return to Ethiopia to live for some time as soon as my son is old enough to have the benefit of such an experience (I'm thinking kindergarten).

Mr Silly Pants reported he and Sisay talked about volunteering for a month or so. And they watched the basketball a bit more than we did. But they got it goin' - and I was so happy to hear that. I've sort of been the catalyst and my man has been a good partner and participant. But, it's always better for me if we're both moving with mutual energy and interest.

Loaded and locked - I know the bug has been loaded into the ear and I expect our conversations will begin to evolve. We now have 2 people with whom we have established a rapport and a professional relationship  (for Mr. Silly Pants as colleague in medicine, in particular).

Yeah, I see us living there. I'm allowing myself to get just a little bit excited by the possibility of this and the vision of my life as changing ....... evolving..........transforming.

That's it. Transforming.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

21. 19. 17.

Twinkletoes 19, Songbird 21, Waffles 17
Brownies and Ice Cream
Lots and lots of stories and giggles
and then a beer in frosty mug for the 21 year old - because it's her birthday
*baby Blueberry is asleep; no nap and a long busy day with sibs=early to bed

Friday, November 13, 2009

There is a family in Addis and I just don't understand what he means when he says....

I'm trying so hard to figure out what this means - "I am broken by the hundreds of children I see and filled with hope of the difference that could be made by those children coming to know Jesus - the only true hope that Ethiopia has." 

It was written by a father whose daughter was a roommate of my little Blueberry. She was a little bubble of light and clearly the little love-bug to the nannies in Blueberrys' room. Her smile was huge and her giggle was always at the ready. Now she is back in her country of origin, with her mother and father and siblings.  Her family has relocated to Addis to work with the Vineyard Church (is it a church? a movement?). I'm confused.

I get what it means to be a Christian. I am a Christian. But I don't understand this statement. I want to know what that means. It seems so.....full of white man's secure in a kind of knowing that already exists in a place where Christian Orthodox pracite and Muslim practice is deep and long and honored.

Still, I am envious of the journey to Ethiopia. Perhaps the little love bugs journey will broaden her world of family, as her own first family could now be known to her. But I still wish I knew what he meant.

I should ask him. I just think I need to ask him.

ETA: so I went to their blog and I asked him what he means by this...I hope he answers.

Friday - Free Range Kids

Playgroup is coming here today. We're going to go and play in the woods today - in honor of the practice of raising free range kids. See HERE if you want to be inspired to raise kids to be "free range kids." I know I do!
I have more to say about this - I have some reflections about how the biggies were raised as free range kids long before I had the vocabulary or the resources to read about kids on blogs. :-) 
But, I've got to get ready for the 9 a.m. collection of kids. We'll be in our backyard woods, climbing, jumping, digging in the dirt, and exploring! See you!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Through the eyes of 17

Things I have recently learned from my #1 biggie boy, Waffles:
  • Hawthorne is crap
  • Modern Warfare 2 is bigger than Harry Potter, maybe bigger than Star Wars (yeah, right)
  • Cage the Elephant is the best band ever
  • Electric Owls, not Owl
  • Wendy's is the only place you can get bacon for $1
  • Fly
  • Sweet and Zesty BBQ sauce
  • Mountain Dew and Coke
  • Batman - always Batman
  • eminem is a poet, but the words don't matter
  • Burton, Volcom
  • Only shirts from places you've actually snowboarded yourself
  • Parkour
  • Fringe
  • iphone
  • Soccer
  • NOT a follower

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Adoption Triad

Jane Jeong Trenka wrote this amazing piece "What Adoption Means to Me" from the point of view of her Korean mother. It is powerful. This piece of reading can't/shouldn't/won't leave you - and don't let it.

Blueberrie's first mom didn't "give" her son to me. I know my previous post simplified her actions when I used the term "giving." In an effort to talk about a homily of 'giving', I used the word itself to express that the only person I could think about during the homily was Blueberry's mother. I didn't intend to portray her as having absolute agency in that moment - because I think she was coerced by the conditions of her life - her powerlessness - her poverty - her social status- and too many other things I just don't know about. I've often imgainged what were the combination of factors that really did 'force her hand.' 
I can't get it right in words. Go and read the piece by Trenka.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A giving homily

Today Blueberry, Mr. Silly Pants, and I continued to inquire about places of worship in our community. We're searching for a Lutheran Church here in our home town - the search is made difficult because we are not finding Lutheran places of worship with a diverse membership. But, we continue to search.
There are parts of this search that I enjoy - I like to visit these different communities of worship. I like to hear different pastors speak to their congregations. I like the exposure to different Lutheran communities of worship. I was not raised Lutheran, and my comittment to attend a Lutheran church is really part of my comittment to my husband, who has a long family history of Lutheran faith (both father and paternal grandfather were Pastors).

Today we heard a homily about giving.  It was a good homily. It hit me just exactly where I am and it has stuck with me all day. There was one profound sentence in response to a reading from Mark: "what about the woman who gave everything she had?"  All I could think of - the ONE AND ONLY woman who came to my mind - is Blueberry's first mom. She, SHE gave ME everything she had. She gave me her son. HER SON.

And then I read this today. Third Mom says,
     "No action is moral if it ignores the bad fruits (think Matthew 7 16) that result from it. This happens in adoption; this good thing that so many promote has led to some appallingly rotten fruit from people who know how to game the system for personal, institutional or governmental profit. Even when an individual adoption is done ethically, if the adopter never gives a backward glance to the families left behind or forward glance to the rights of the adopted, the fruit is just as rotten.
    Promoting material and social justice for surrendering parents and equal access to identity for adopted people has to be the starting point for any discussion of adoption. Promoting adoption without equally addressing these, and not just paying them lip service, creates a lie by omission, an untruth. This seems so incredibly clear to me, I honestly don't understand why people don't see it." 
She's right. She's so right on. I have to be careful about being arrogant. I have to be cautious about feeling somehow clearer or more enlightened than others on this same complicated journey in IA. I have to be wary of my own "knowing" and "certainty" about my own giving - even if I see it as inspired and right. Social justice is not clear as day in all cases. And yet, HIS first mom gave me everything. She gave me her SON. I won't participate in a lie by omission. I won't pay just lip service to her, the one who gave me everything.
I'll muddle through, as awkward and difficult as it feels sometimes. I'm totally on it - right now - on it.
How do you do it - you know, make sense of having been given everything?

Sunday Snapshot

Lalibela, Ethiopia: funeral

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Build a Well

I'm just sitting here awe struck by this project. The video is powerful. The project is inspired. My own personal need to change something BIG in my life is burning a hole in my being - it's BIG, I tell you, it's big.

Watch it. Make it happen. Build a WELL! Then help build a school and a medical clinic.

Powerful stuff. Food. Water. Medical Care. Basics. Human Rights. Human Dignity.
How is it a little boy has caused such a stirring in my heart?

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Heaviness of Having

I have had enough life experience, enough travel experience, enough intimate experience to understand how deeply privileged my life is. Although I grew up in the home of a single mom who struggled (and I remember needing to contribute my newspaper route earnings to keep the heat on), I am also well aware that my family had a net - a net mom never activated, but a net that kept our dreams intact and our family expectations high.

I also remember being at the grocery store with my mom one evening when I had babies who were small and mom's company was a treat.  I was complaining about something or other - perhaps student loans - perhaps the slow pace of moving from student life to professional life - but it was some sort of 'complaint' a daughter might share with her mom. I was complaining as I was mindlessly loading my grocery cart with milk, ice cream, cream cheese, bagels, bread, good coffee (never Folger's for me), brown rice, tofu, fresh fruit and vegetables....My mom stopped me. She said, "look at what you are doing." I looked into my cart. I remembered eating oatmeal for dinner with her. I remembered the many many times she bounced checks for groceries, or insisted that EVEN if we couldn't afford standing rib roast for the holiday we were having it! I swallowed and looked at her. Mom. Sage. Straight Talker. Hard Worker. Victor.

DAMN I MISS HER. She'd tire of my intellectualizing about this - but she'd also kick my butt into action instead of all the head talk.

The heaviness of having is haunting me. And, it's stretching me. I have commited my life to recognizing and acting on my privilege. The privilege of my color. The privilege of my class. I've been married twice - both times to doctors. My husband is the son of a Lutheran pastor. Both of us have had the privilege of upward mobility. Our color, his gender, our education all add to our privilege. I get this. I wear it every single day. I live it every single day.

Have you seen this?
Are you suprised? I am - even when I put in my income from being a public school teacher (notoriously underpaid - plug for fairer pay for public school teachers!).

Heavy with Having - I'm thinking about access to clean water today. I'm thinking about food today. I'm thinking about access to medicine today. Here, there, and everywhere.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday Snapshot

Outskirts of Hosanna, Ethiopia
These boys meet the CHSF bus, I think, for nearly every travel group. The false banana grove is impressive, and a great location for photos. This photo was taken by a travel mate in adoption - he's a marvelous photographer - thanks Mike!

*I'm not doing the noboploboproblemo thing that so many of you are doing for 30 days!