Thursday, December 14, 2006

Happy Ammon Day!

I met the Stephen, Stephani, Lan and Ammon at the airport this afternoon and here they are in all of their .3 megapixel glory because I left the real camera and the small, but thoughtful, token gift for the kids on the kitchen table this morning and had to resort to the camera phone.*
Edited to read STEFANI, yes, I have met the woman on more than a few prior occasions, but from reading this entry, you might think I went to the airport to ambush strangers with my camera phone, and it's REALLY bad because what's my pet peeve you may ask?, well I'll tell you because with the general tone of discontent running through this blog, you would be right to guess that I have more than one pet peeve, but this time the particular peeve that makes spelling Stefani's name wrong is how upset I get because my name is ALWAYS spelled incorrectly. And congradulations ?!?! please, for the love of Mike people, congradulations?!?!

Stephani said it was okay to post Ammon's picture because she and Stephen were going to crawl into bed and wouldn't be heard from until next week. They are exhausted with a capital Ammon. It's Stephani's story and she will tell it so much better than I can, so until she gathers her strength, these photos of tired Ellison's will have to do. They are well and healthy, just tired. Posted by Picasa

*And a big hand for the middle aged mom who didn't let technology whip her ass. this is the first time I've ever figured out how to get a picture off my phone, I'm hip, oh yeah I'm hip. Just don't text me, I couldn't receive and read a text message if there was gun pointed at my head, sad, sad, but true.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Treasures from the Orient

There was a package on the porch when we came home this evening and I assumed it was from Nanning, but NO! it was from Guilin and Nora's foster family. There was a sweet note, in English, thanking me for taking care of Xiao Ye and FIVE, count'em, FIVE hand knit sweaters, I'm all a flutter. I cannot craft, but I can appreciate hand made items and probably appreciate them more because I could never produce anything wearable or usable with my own two useless appendages. But will you look at these?!?!?!? they're gorgeous. I'm so pleased, these are expertly knitted garments, the stitches are uniform, the seams are incredibly neat and few, I'm just amazed by these sweaters.
When I developed the disposable cameras I sent ahead, I was disappointed on two counts: (a) all the pictures had been all shot in the morning at the Guilin train station and on the train to Nanning with the SWI staff member who escorted her, and (b) from the photos of Nora on the train, I could see that her family had sent her off in many layers including a beautiful lavender, hand knit sweater that the SWI minder had obviously relieved her of before she brought her to me at the Civils Affairs office in the Lottery Hotel in Nanning. I was sad that Nora lost that sweater, it was lovely and it also looked hand made and it would have been a tangible legacy from her foster mother.
Well, thanks to her foster mother's continuing generosity, Nora has another sweater almost just like the one they sent her off with last January and I am pleased for Nora. There were also two photos of Nora's foster sister, she looks to be about two-years-old now, such a sweetheart. I hope some day to hear that she has been placed with a permanent family, that would be welcome news.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Cinderella's Castle

Well, she could live there, if she had a temple recommend (wink wink, inside joke). Took in the lights at Temple Square on Sunday night with dutch uncle Stew after he fed us dinner WITH a dessert, my kids were stunned and all like dessert ?!?!?, dessert ?!?!? what's that? (I don't make dessert any more because they eat their two puny bites and leave the rest of the scrumptious stuff just staring at me and I start to hear the voices, eat me, Eat Me, EAT ME, so yeah, no dessert).
The weather was just right, still warmish, just starting a drizzle that didn't turn into snow fall until we were just pulling into our gararge as we returned home.
We popped into the little visitor center on the south side of the square to warm up a little and because it looked like a choir was getting ready to sing (a small, non-MoTab choir, but they had spammy matching outfits and it looked like it was going to be at least well-rehearsed) and it was a little surprising to the system to have the church's messages of ever-lasting bliss jumping off the walls at me. The last time I went inside a visitor's center in Temple Square was when I was a teen and I barely had the self-awareness to question my high school band leader's philosophies let alone a world religion. I had forgotten the hard sell. These folks really really want you to find happiness and a way to keep your family together forever and eternity. If any of the volunteer missionaries who were working the crowds last night knew my older brother, I think that it would not be hard to convince them that eternal family togetherness would be hellish and a reason to run, run fast, from any religion that would keep you hooked up to that jerk FOOOORRRRREEEEEVVVVVEEEERRRR. Families are Forever is a frightening proposition depending on the personalities of the constituent members. Shiver.

Anatomy of a holiday card

So, I had this idea, matching dresses (at a deep discount, because I just ordinarily wouldn’t go for purple tie-dye), and I’d get them into the kid pic studio, the kind that makes appointments, and they would have hair cuts and clean tights with no holes in the knees and they would be stunning and it would reflect so well on my organizational skills and, well, that flopped. The damn dresses hang like sacks, they didn’t shrink in the vast amounts of yardage necessary to make it look like the girls weren’t wearing tie-dyed cement bags, and no hair cuts because Miss Shanna (who could cut “strong” Asian hair and for whose skills I was willing to drive to her BFE hair salon (manyth East and manyth South, when you grow up in Davis County, anyth South past 33rd is the suburbs of BFE and this salon was in Sandy, two exits past BFE in my universe), she moved back to Wyoming and even though it’s tempting, I won’t take them 7 hours one way for a good hair cut. Conversely, I won't take them 10 minutes away for a bad hair cut either, so, no hair cuts, no fabulous matching dresses, no studio portrait.

So, in a rush to get the cards out because I didn’t generally announce our move to this bigger but not better house 1.5 years ago and I was worried that too many cards that people planned to send us would go to the old house where the forwarding order expired long ago, and if I got our cards in the mail pronto, maybe the wasted postage could be avoided, I slammed some Santa hats on their heads, pushed them up against the fire place and snapped away, growing progressively more threatening as shot after shot came out with crazy eyes.
The last shot that was finally acceptable was taken just before they all started to cry because I was getting so frustrated with them and hissing at them to keep your eyes OPEN, NO ONE BLINKS, NO ONE!!!
Ah, perfection, kind of, almost, good enough, get those bad boys in the mail.

And yes, I HAVE always admired the works of William Faulkner, and I think that the use of periods is greatly over-rated, slows down the mind's eye, takes away from the conversational sounds of reading a great rush of words, dontcha think?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Screwing the pooch, single working mom style

Oh, man, it happened again. In my ethno-centric (or whatever the term is for filtering everything through your individual point of view and that term could be self-centered, me? never) view of the world, I had Nora and Mimi all cleaned up for a birthday party at a local pool on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Yeah, I had them bathe first because it was the civically responsible thing to do, trust me.

When we arrived in the pool area, wahoo, double bonus points, there were Nile and Kim who were parked at the edge of the pool deck over-seeing their 5th grader’s birthday party. And as their guests were arriving, I got to see even more old friends and colleagues, so good day for mom. But it got to be 2:15 pm and I don’t see anyone who looks like they should be there for a 6-year-old b-day party. Finally, I get a little concerned and I ask Nora and Mimi for the b-day girl’s last name so we can check at the desk to see how I might have messed up. I’m starting to get that feeling that, once again, this single working mom has screwed the pooch and not in the way you may think (and, no, not literally screwing the pooch, that’s a literary reference, sort of, remember Gus Grissom in Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff?, he “screwed the pooch” and that phrase has always stuck with me, but maybe I better find a different phrase if I feel compelled to explain that one to this extent, hmm?).
Mimi has no idea what the b-day girl’s last name might be (that is typical for Mimi, she still can’t tell me the names of the kids she plays with at school), but Nora, bright as a button comes up with the last name because “Hanson, then Green,” well close, but she did remember that the b-day girl’s name is always called close to her name in alphabetical order at school, she just got the before and after switched. Ellie ran back from the front desk with the information I already suspected to be true: the b-day party was FRIDAY at 2:00 pm.
Crap, I read the invitation and calendared the time/date on the BIG BOARD OF LIFE and in my handheld device, so I didn’t FORGET the party (although I have done that too), but I did ASSUME that it would be on a Saturday because who the hell can get their kids to a b-day party in the middle of the work day on a Friday? So why would I even think that the party would be on any day except Saturday, well, here’s the answer: I wouldn’t think it. And the really pathetic part?, I pulled this before two years ago. Standing on Laurel’s front porch with Ellie one Saturday afternoon, brightly wrapped present in hand, ringing and ringing the doorbell to no response because the damn party was a memory from the day before and Laurel’s whole family was somewhere else, going on with their lives, even though I was stuck living in an alternate working parent universe.

So, I took some time and visited some more with Nile and Kim, let the two littles swim, held YuYu as she silently cried (she didn’t have a swimming suit on and couldn’t get in the water), paid on the way out the door for 30 minutes X 2 of County Rectaculous swimming (didn’t want to miss a “values” moment, even though we got past the desk on the way in for free because we were going to a damn b-day party, I wanted them to know that we still needed to pay to swim) and vowed to never pull this stupid trick again.

Friday b-day parties, sheesh, have you ever?