Wednesday, December 26, 2007

For Ellen, Merry Christmas

*****There was an apparent lapse in quality control during our ye olde x-mas letter stuff, label and seal-athon. And if Emily Post is dead, which shows how clued into the whole world of etiquette and nice manners I am, she may very well be alive, but if she's dead, she's tuning in her grave whenever I prepare our Christmas cards. I use address labels, both return and addressee. If I didn't, well, those who know me know that there would be no holiday greeting from our household if I had to hand address even a single envelope. So here is our holiday letter and accompanying photo for Ellen and whoever else we missed when many hands were making light work.***

Hanson Family Christmas Letter 2007

For starters, I knew I should have had my hair colored before we left for Disneyland, but my skin looks good, don’t you think?

The girls are all amazing. They continue to thrive and grow lovelier every day. Each child is establishing her own unique personality and relationship with the world.

Ellie, my fifth grader, is still on track to become a leading organizational theorist. She is never happier than when making a list or successfully executing a plan. She starts to hover two inches off the ground whenever she walks into Staples or OfficeMax. So many day planners, what to choose, what to choose. I’m not saying that chaos would descend without her help, but the weeks she was away at Girl Scout camp or being her Grandma’s post by-pass surgery home health aide this summer were a little more challenging for me than not.

YuYu still dances to a different drummer, still my delicate blithe spirit. Her internal life is much richer than most and often much more interesting to her than second grade curriculum, which can sometimes be a problem. She woke me up early one morning to tell me she wished that there were no more wars, that people had enough clean water and that our leaders would make better choices. I asked her what we could do to help make changes. She thought for a second, “be kind and recycle?” That’s a good start, my sweet girl.

Mimi is tiny and perfect and defies definition. She is a goofball and loves being the center of attention. We watched an episode of America’s Top Model filmed in China. The models wore beautiful historic costumes. Mimi shot out of her seat, “I want to be a model,” and started posing and voguing. A few minutes later, when the judges were criticizing the flawless models, she said to no one, “That’s harsh, prob’bly not for me.” She may be goofy, but she has a practical side too.

Nora and Mimi are both in first grade this year. I agonized over the decision to promote Nora or keep her in kindergarten for another year. She is bright, but learns differently, and the years she spent in the orphanage have made a mark. I’m glad I didn’t hold her back, because no one will ever or should ever hold Nora back. She fights to read, she fights to speak clearly, she fights to control her impulses and she is winning the war. She gets a green slip for every day of good behavior at school. We keep them in a clip on the refrigerator. I’m so proud of this little warrior, my Nora: the clip is now too heavy to stay up and we need another clip.

From all the happy Hanson girls and one old crone, we wish you the very best and brightest of holiday seasons.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Apple Ipod White Screen of Death

I stared it down and I kicked it's ass. Yay me. Oh my god. This evening I heard Ellie start crying downstairs and I thought she had really really hurt herself. She is generally the most serene child, sanguine, is the best word to describe her personality. So if she's upset, something is horribly wrong. I met her on the staircase. She was wailing, large snotty sobs, and holding her non-responsive video Ipod in her hands. It appeared dead. She was bereft, she was holding the lifeless carcass of her best friend and was looking at me like I should know how to give it the breath of life.

She worked so hard to earn most of the money to buy this techno marvel. She stayed with Grandma after her by-pass and vascular surgeries for weeks on end last summer. Ellie did everything for Grandma that her self-centered and emotionally immature spouse (yes, my own father and more's the pity) should have been doing for his wife of more than fifty years. Instead, dad sat and leered at her from across the room, angry that she was sick and no one was going to fix him a sandwich because his damn hands have been painted on for the past fifty years. I do not exaggerate and I do not tell a lie. I could go on about his deficiencies, but he is so extreme, everyone thinks I'm making it up, but I'm not, he's a jackass.

So, Grandma made Grandpa feel guilty enough that 10-year-old Ellie was covering all the duties society usually ascribes to the able-bodied spouse, pillow plumping, foot rubbing, keeping her company, helping her out of the goddamned recliner so she could hobble to the bathroom. I'm not kidding, he grunts like he's been asked to cut off a toe if she needs help getting up out of a chair, and that we're all saps to help her because she's manipulating us and how else is she going to get her strength back if we continue to baby her. Oh my, seems like I'm stewing in my own caustic pool of resentment and I digress, back to my victory over microprocessors.

My dad pitched in the extra $150 (no shit, the man is made of money and he actually took Ellie's $100 she had saved from helping YuYu with her homework all last year, bastard, really what's a hundred to him?, oh there I go again, father issues? not many) and they went to Walmart and bought a white video Ipod. She has lovingly loaded it with Zack and Cody and Hannah Montana and she prizes it above all else and all others, even me. I do not want to know how she would answer if she was given one of those ethical dilemna questions: your mother and your Ipod are teetering on a cliff, you can only save one, who would you save? I pretty much know I'd be people paste.

So I calmed her down, explained about one-year warranties, made her blow her nose, calmed her down again, more nose blowing, very dramatic, "but Jordan got a scratch on his and it just quit working, sob sob sob." She was really beside herself, but I got her to understand that we could send it off to get fixed, it might take awhile, "how long?" she almost started crying again, but she would have it back no problem.

But I couldn't go to bed without trying to fix it, how hard could it be, the screen was glowing, it was just frozen. Couldn't be that uncommon and it turns out it's not and the condition has it's own nickname: white screen of death. Good old Google:
"ipod video common problems blank screen." Ta Duh, and the step by step by step fix on a non-Apple support page dedicated to helping hapless middle aged parents in the middle of the night walked me to promised land. I am a hero. I gave it CPR and it lives again.

For a brief moment this evening, she would have picked me to save on the edge of the cliff because she thought her Ipod was irretrievably broken. Tomorrow morning when she sees that I saved her world from falling apart around her ankles and her Ipod is fully functional once again, I go back to being people paste at the bottom of the ravine. Oh a mother's sacrifices. Epic.

Okay, off to be the toothy fairy. YuYu lost two teeth yesterday and today, finally. She is not at all like I was at that age, yanking them out with a good hunk of gum still attached, but just needing to have them gone. And, of course, I didn't start losing teeth until the fourth grade, so I was a little more motivated than most.

I'm high tech and low tech mom tonight.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

See what happens?

When your best friend is a big ol' gay ranch hand? You end up with a six foot tall phallus in your front yard. Can't be helped. Wonder what kind of google hits "big ol' gay ranch hand" and "six foot tall phallus" are going to generate.

I was just going to end it there without explanation, but I don't have that kind of restraint. Here's the rest of the story. My good friend Stew*, the girls' best un-uncle, came by this morning to help with the shoveling, and I don't even have to ask, because I never would, because that's my MO. But my neighbor's boyfriend (I guess, why else was he using her snowblower, don't ask, don't tell, I guess) whipped up the sidewalk and took care of it for us. Hey, I'll take home maintenance help in any way shape or form when its volunteered. Even if its an unfamilar man pushing the snow off my driveway on a cold Saturday morning. No way I'm going to run out and stop that kind of thing.

So, with no actual work left to do, Stew and the girls set about building a snow man. This storm brought much wetter snow than last week, but still not wet enough to roll snowman parts according to the classic snowperson building specs, but you could pile it. So it grew and it grew and it grew and really really looked like am emerging man bit, but by the time I ran back in the house to get the camera, Stew had made it look less pornographic, but you can see why I was teasing him unmercilessly the whole time it was, um, growing.

And you've got to love Stew's hip and happening snow gear. He grew up in rural Utah, yeah, it's not all flash and sizzle like SLC all over the state, helping his family run cattle. So the rancher coveralls aren't just a fab fashion statement, they've seen real agriculture action. Stew isn't a sissy drugstore cowboy. He's just a sissy cowboy. He'll drive all the way to Denver just to hit the gay country bars with big dance floors so he can two step with other like-minded boot scooters. Just wish he could find a man here in town who deserves a catch like Stew so he wouldn't have to build them out of snow.

*Stew traveled with me on both Mimi's and YuYu's adoption trips, insisting on paying his own travel expenses, that's a true blue friend. Not like the guy next to him who'll disappear without a trace or so much as a howdya do ma'am by next week. So that's the scoop on the men in my life, either gay or frozen.

Friday, December 07, 2007

White Knuckler

I'm still a little zingy from it, so if I type this out, then maybe I can start to think about going to sleep. The ad agency that handles the Big O Tire store franchisees in Utah (my brother Garth and now, my evil brother Max (he bought the Kaysville store from Dad and Garth this year) are franchisees) buys out a theater at Christmas for a family movie and gives each franchise holder a bunch of tickets for free admission and all the popcorn you can eat (Ellie just about pees down her leg, that girl just loves, loves, loves the popcorn). Last year we saw Charlotte's Web way way way out in the south end of the valley. I felt like I drove to Provo to get there. When we came out it was snowing and really cold, the roads were pretty damn treacherous and it was a slow slidey slog home but worse for my brother and his family heading a lot farther back north to get home. But we all lived.

So wouldn’t you know, well, you would know because the weather forecasters have been warning us for days about this storm, when we walked out tonight, it was really putting it down with about five inches on the ground already. At least this year, the theater was only halfway to BFE, not the full fare, so I didn't sweat it, we'd be home in a jiffy. I drove slowly and safely heading north on State Street until I could hop on the freeway heading back up the hill and then home: twenty minutes max, even at 25 mph. I’m not a timid driver, I have reasonable confidence of my driving skills in snow storms. I wasn’t even thinking twice about pulling into one of those the seedy motels you pass on State Street way out there past that one mall (don’t you love my precise descriptions? Should have been a damn map maker) to wait out the storm. I just kept plowing forward, wishing I was behind the phalanx of plows that was clearing the westbound lanes of the freeway, but still not sweating it.

But I was concentrating on the car ahead of me just a little too hard and followed it off the exit to Park City heading east on I-80. Doh! We don't live in Park City. Okay, now I'm feeling a wee bit sweaty. I-80 it notoriously bad in snow, crap. And no phalanx of snow plows, or even a pickup truck with plow attachment, had been over this stretch yet. It was ugly and I was gripping the wheel and sitting so far forward in my seat, you could have mistaken me for 14 year old on an out of character joyride in her father’s car (not that I would know what that feesl like). And I couldn’t get off, I just had to keep going. I started to think that the seedy State Street motels were looking a lot better than hanging upside down from the shoulder harnesses in an I-80 borrow pit. I pulled in behind a semi, turned on my flashers and just drove. I do not exaggerate: the semi's tail lights and the rumble stips were the only things keeping me on the road. Yikes.

I didn’t dare take either of the ranch exits I passed to turn around because who knows how deep it would have been on those over passes. But thank the gods that I didn’t end up driving all the way to PC just to turn around. I got brave and pulled off at the East Canyon exit because it was lighted, yay, and isn’t that where the salt dump is for the plows? So I got us turned back in the right direction, with the view out the windshield looking a lot like hyperdrive in the Millennium Falcon. I nearly snapped Ellie’s head off when she wanted to know how much longer it would take to get home right as some horse's ass flew by us in the left lane and threw up so much slush I couldn’t see squat or bupkiss. Nothing like a little adrenalin surge to top off the prickly sweats. So 90 minutes after leaving the theater located not too far south, we pulled into our own driveway. And we all lived.

And the movie we risked life and limb to see for free? The Golden Compass. Two thumbs way up. I never take the kids to PG-13 movies, but a mom at school took her 5th and 1st graders and said it was not scary, no worse than Harry Potter and my little girls love to watch the Harry Potters and, what with the buckets of free popcorn to boot, I thought, oh, why not, they can’t watch Disney dreck all the time (although they really could, my girls loves them some Disney dreck).

So when a couple of Coke’s polar bears were fighting it out to the death (albeit bloodlessly, go figure), a scene that was really too intense for 6 and 7 year old eyes, was playing out only six rows removed from five sets of 6 and 7 year old eyes (my niece and nephew too), I just kept saying in a loud stage whisper, “Whew, isn’t this exciting? Not scary, right? What a good adventure story, I wonder what will happen next, whew. That Lyra is a brave smart girl, whew.” My kids were all very excited about the movie and whined “Oh” when it ended without resolution. They left the theater wanting more. Talk about a successful franchise. Count me in the crowd that can’t wait to see the next one.

And for all the leaders of conservative Christian groups who are worried that the movie will create interest in books that are written by an atheist and, therefore, cause more copies of morally corrupt books to be sold? You were right! Amazon has my order which Santa will put in my Christmas stocking and I can’t wait to start reading the series to the girls. Wow, what a good adventure story, right? Ideas aren’t scary, right? Ideas are exciting, whew.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Teacher gifts with a side of smug

At the risk of sounding sanctimonious and smug, oh who am I kidding, what risk, this does sound sanctimonious, but it's my blog and I'll be smug if I want to and I usually want to. So, she typed smugly, if anyone out there in internet world is casting about for an idea for a well-received teacher gift that won't get stashed in a bottom drawer in the back of the room within seconds after the wrapping comes off, visit this link to Angel Covers and check out the donation cards. Angel Covers is another of those incredible parent initiated charitable foundations that brings comfort to orphans just about everywhere there might be orphans who need comfort. These folks took an inclination to make a difference in the lives of homeless children and have grown the program to Africa, China, Russia, the list goes on: I am truly ruly in awe of the kind of energy and commitment it takes to make these big kind of ripples in the world.
I feel good about giving these cards because I know the Angel Cover folks make the best use of every dollar. I get cards for the kids' classroom teachers and their after care instructors and for my Aunt Fay in Texas who always sends the kids a ship load of dollar store treasures every chance she gets and our friend Lynette who traveled to China with us on Mimi's adoption trip and has such a soft heart for kids and gets teary eyed when she opens her card at our annual Panda Express holiday luncheon where said Mimi knocked a full cup, extra large, of Diet Pepsi in her lap last year. Glad she opened the card after the drenching.
That concludes the self-righteous portion of tonight's programming. Thank you for tuning in.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

first snow

Okay, so I made this, but so what, I guess. You know how it goes, you follow a few links, monkey around, it takes too much time, but you don't want give up because, you think, man, how hard can this be? and it takes too long, but you persevere and this is all you have to show for it, a picture mosaic. What the hell are you going to do with a picture mosaic? put it on the blog, that's one, but what else is there? can't think of two.

But what a great day. It's been forever since we had real snow and a day warm enough to be out to play in it. The bitch about Utah snow is that it's too dry for good snow people construction. Greatest Snow on Earth, who says. Well, I guess the ski industry says, and over a million license plates say, but four little girls who couldn't get the snow to stick together to make a presentable snow man say, meh.

But so you don't have to squint, here are some full size photos of our snow day and my driveway, because that's what's really important, a clean, snow free driveway surface. Just wanted you all to appreciate the craftsmanship.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Feeb Feeb Feeb Feeb

Total and utter feeb, card-carrying, any dumber and I'd need to be watered, feeb. So we missed Jaynie. As we pulled into the airport parking terrace with plenty of time to spare, I even commented how nice it was to be at the airport without being pushed for time or up the entire night before. Jane's instructions were for Northwest flight #### arriving terminal 2. We got inside and the arrival board showed only Delta flights which I confirmed with the friendly gent behind the information desk, no other flights besides Delta. So we hauled over to terminal 2 and watched the arrival board, Northwest flight #### until it just disappeared off the board. It never said landed, or arriving or squat and then it was gone. What it DID say, and this is where the density issue arises, baggage claim SIX which is NOT in terminal 1, but, where it should be when there is a CO-SHARE flight with Delta, over in terminal 2 where Jane said the damn flight was going to land. Although I'd like to blame the info desk guy for not say, oh, but sometime Delta CO-SHARE flights land at terminal 2, this was all on me. Especially when you add to the whole picture that I was standing in terminal 2 for over an hour because I had convinced myself that since there was no other family waiting for them, that Jane was obviously going to step off a 24 hour travel day and drive them all back out to Vernal powered by true grit and pioneer spirit. And my tiny mind was okay with that, that Jane's husband and other children where fine to just wait for them to drive out from Salt Lake and they'll all just see them later tonight providing that Jane could keep a car between the lines after a marathon adoption trip and return flight. Feeble, feeble, feeble minded. I just got my ass whipped by an airport arrival board. I am so ashamed. By the time I got smart and headed back to terminal 2, it was way too late and we missed them. Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap. Plus I had to be a good model to show my own kids how to handle disappointment and aggravation when all I really wanted to do was windmill my arms and jump up and down on the bag of treats from the Asian market that we stopped to buy on the way to the airport. I thought we were going to share a special moment with one of Nora's friends from the old days and be useful, or something, and I blew it and that blows. Now we'll have to drive out to Dinosaurland to meet the lovely Miss Jaynie and who knows when the dinosaurs will be migrating. Crap.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sharing the Joy

A local family (mom and older brother are making the trip) are in Guangxi RIGHT NOW, even as I type, adopting this stunning beauty. Her name is now Jayne (Jaynie) and she is a contemporary of Nora's, there is only a few months difference in their ages. Unfortunately, Jaynie sat on the back burners longer than Nora had to wait for whatever the hell reasoning goes behind whose files the SWI prepares and sends to the CCAA in what order and when.

And from all reports, Jaynie is having a smooth transition, no trauma, no terror, so far and I wish them all continuing ease as they learn to love each other.

And typing this reminds me to mention that I am a fraud. I get nods from folks thanking me for my honesty about the sometime rocky road to attachment in adoption, but I'm not that honest. I don't want anyone to worry about Nora or think that I'm a monster mom and that Nora should be removed from my home so that she can get the kind of parent she deserves, that all children deserve. I do keep my own counsel a little bit, which you wouldn't really suspect considering I spill on an open blog all the time.

But I read the piece I submitted to Love's Journey 2 from the day in Nanning when I stepped between Nora and an elephant with a head cold and tried to write about how I knew my feeling for Nora would grow and I would learn to love her as much as I drool and fawn over my other three. That I was confident that I would reach the same peak of adoration and all would be right with the world. Well, I haven't. I love that little girl and I would take a bullet/bus/runaway cement truck for her, but maybe not on a day when her behaviors had stomped all over my last nerve and I just look at her and think, when? when little girl? what next? how do we get past this? when do the flood gates open because waiting for erosion/gravity/tiny spoonfuls is hard, not impossible, but hard.

I actually gave in and let my mother take Nora last weekend under the guise of giving Nora a Grandma weekend (all the other girls have had opportunities to stay at g'ma's house without the other three) when the truth was, I needed a non-Nora weekend for myself. Almost two years into our relationship and I needed respite care and not because she did anything that outrageous, but just the accumulation of small annoyances that builds up and I just needed. Away. And I won't lie, it was pretty nice with just the first three because they are so easy to be around, so easy to parent, falling off a log, hands tied behind my back easy to parent, you get the picture. Although, objectively, there is nothing in particular that I can point to that Nora does that is not absolutely consistent with ordinary, run-of-the-mill six-year-old (slightly immature) behavior. She tries hard to meet my expectations, but what six-year-old can mind their p's and q's 24/7? When Mimi and YuYu are tired or crabby and not completely compliant, I don't get freaked out by that in any way, I roll with it, that's what I do. Maybe because I can't predict when Nora is going to lose it, not related to sleep or blood sugar, and I'm on guard all the time for the WHAM: well here's an inappropriate behavior exhibiting a lack of impulse control, the tension builds and I over react.

I really need to loosen up. And I have. I bribe Nora with good things so that she will behave at school and I have recently been dangling a trip to the movie house to see Disney's new princess movie that's out in a few days, love the hype. Nora messed up at school on Monday (after 5 consecutive good days) and I backed down because I realized the punishment (leaving her home with a sitter) would be way too harsh. She helped me fold and put away clothes to earn back her good to go status. I'm not completely uneducable, but close.

So, as we move into a 5-day holiday where I am expected to be a full-time parent and cannot escape to my office like I usually do, wish us luck. Just as I wish Jaynie and her new family all the best as they celebrate their first turkey feast (minus the turkey, substitue the dumplings) together in Guilin.

Monday, November 12, 2007

To Disney, and beyond

I took my computer with me on the Disney trip, but I was way too bushed by the time we got back to the room every evening to even think about opening it up. During the time it took for the computer to boot up, I would have fallen asleep anyway. So I have no contemporaneous descriptions of our experiences, but it’s not like I need to reliably recreate a crime scene from memory, so no loss, but if I hadn’t needed Mapquest that weekend, hauling the laptop around the Western US would have been a completely useless activity.

So, quick trip recap:

We left Thursday morning and drove through to Las Vegas and checked into the seminar hotel and walked into a room bigger than our back yard. The girls thought they were finally in surroundings worthy of their heretofore unrecognized status as descendants of Kings.
Wow, who does excess like Las Vegas? On Friday, my best friend’s brother, SIL and teen-aged niece threw themselves into non-stop girl entertainment while I attended the seminar. On Friday evening , after getting the full run down about the day’s activities, bowling, hot-tubbing, decorating Halloween cookies, board games, dress ups, Disney Channel (big treat, we don’t have cable) and hours of Capture the Princess, I started to get a little worried that Disney would be a huge let down for them. The girls loved their day in LV and I can’t ever thank Phil, Mary and Megan enough. Ever. Not to mention the bags of incredibly cute and hardly ever worn hand-me-downs from Megan. I can’t even begin to calculate how much I will save in not having to buy blue jeans alone. So glad I drive a van. We're talking BIG bags of loot.

Speaking of driving a van, on Saturday morning we left LV and headed out for So. Cal. We hooked up with the Ellison family just outside of LV and I followed them the rest of the way until I peeled off in Anaheim (they were staying the night a litter further south). I tell you kid, that’s the only way to drive, I just sort of drafted off Stephen the whole way down. He picked the lanes, when to pass, the freeway links and I just followed in my ovine mini van. So relaxing, the only way to fly.

It seemed like I blinked and we arrived in Orange County on Saturday afternoon, so we had time to check into our hotel room and then zoom over to Newport Beach so the girls could put their toes in the sand and say they’ve seen the Pacific Ocean. This was YuYu and Nora’s first glimpse of an ocean, that I know of anyway.

YuYu could have stayed all evening and gone back every day. The next big vacation will have to be beach oriented for my YuYu Bee. She just loved it.

The kids had a GREAT time in Disney. I had fun having fun with them and sharing their Disney Character, live, in the flesh, euphoria.

Nora was pretty good, for Nora. When she went through turnstiles, she kept purposefully trying to wham whichever kid was in back of her with the turnstile, like no one would notice that she was aiming and timing the twist. After the third day of that, and many calm warnings and always trying to grab her to go last, I finally lost my temper with her on the Disneyland train stop in New Orleans Square. A fine scene for everyone waiting for the train to see: overwrought Mom hissing in small, tired, hot daughter’s face until she cried. It wasn’t so much the whamming that made me so angry, it was the insincere apology she bit out to Mimi that made me fly apart. Nora, as always, was only sad that she got caught, not that she was leaving bruises on her sisters every time she managed to get in front of them in a turnstile. But after herding four kids under ten years old through Disney single handedly without ever losing any of them, if that was the worst of it, I think I should get the freaking mother of the year award.

I tell you kid (my mom has a friend that peppers her conversations with “I tell you kid,” even though they are both over seventy now), the constant vigilance of keeping track of them wore me down to the nubs. And I do mean constant, “C’mon Meems, fast feet, fast feet,” “Nora Bud, if you can’t stay by me, I’m going to tie you to me with a rope, I swear to God,” “YuYu Bee, please please please keep up,” “Girls stay together, stay together, please, keep me in your sight,” “Ellie, thank you little friend, I could NOT do this without you, you are the best.” It is just very very tiring, but all the Disney moments, “MOM!! That’s Ursula, she’s REAL!!,” made it completely worthwhile, although we won’t be doing Disney again soon, I need a spiritual rest. And the girls need to run A LOT of excess adrenalin out of their systems.

We met up with with the Ellisons in Disney on Sunday afternoon (THEE CHI family (you kind of need the local cultural reference to understand that one, e.g., Thee Church, and be conversant in Chinese WC adoption lore)) for a really nice party at the home (well the g’parents’ home, but oh, wow, so nice, what a treat) of a So. Cal CHI family in Encino on Sunday afternoon.

It was also a very real pleasure to get reacquainted with So. Cal Super Parents C and D and meet the two children they’ve brought into their family since the first time we met a few years ago here in Zion.

Okay, maybe it’s just me, but bombing down the Hollywood Freeway with exit signs for all the great streets of song and film flying past, it just gives me a tingle. I also had the privilege a meeting an efriend in the flesh: a calm and fun single mom from the Bay area and her darling, darling, precocious is the understatement of the century, child L, and if I get her permission, I’ll post some pictures and a link to their own blog. D and I mistimed Monday evening and didn’t get around to feeding our kids until 9:00 pm at the IHOP on Harbor Blvd. YuYu, my waif, almost fell asleep on her pancakes; she just does not have a very deep well to draw from when she’s low on sleep. So maybe that admission nixes my mom of the year trophy, but, hey who knew only two of four logs were running on Splash Mountain? And once you’re inside the mountain, tough luck brother, you’re stuck, ride or die.

And, of course, the Highlight with a capital High: The Princess Lunch at Ariel's Grotto. You can't put a price on princess love, unless of course you're Disney, but a chance to meet the "real" princesses, priceless (Is VISA/Mastercard/evil consumer credit lender still running that contest for a write your own ad? I might be onto something).

We trick or treated on Tuesday evening at California Adventure and that was pretty fun too. Lots of characters were out and about and the Disney people had treat stations set up around the park and my kids who were worried about missing out on Halloween if we didn’t get back home in time the next day, got pounds of candy that night. Those Disney folks covered all the bases. That’s what makes them great.

I drove straight through from Anaheim to home on Wednesday; can I say thank you thank you and a few Hosannas to the gods of ceiling installed DVD players? and still made it back home in time to trick or treat on Halloween (not bad time, I drive fast, but safe, fast but safe). But it went something like this: Pulling into the garage at 7:30 pm. “Girls, quick, get your coats on, run downstairs, find a crown in the dress up box, grab your treat bag (already full from the Halloween party at California Adventure) and let's RUN! before it gets too late.” I tell you kid, after hitting all the houses on our street and the circles, we got back to the house around 8:45 pm where it finally caught up with me. After driving them like cattle for the past many days, not enough sleep and 12 hours of continuous driving, I was actually shaking from fatigue. The girls, on the other hand, slept a lot of the way back, were wired on candy and PST (to them it felt like 7:45 pm), and that was a bad combination. I made them brush their teeth and go to bed even though they were not ready or even tired, and I fell into bed, splitting head, and tried to sleep. Kind of an anti-climatic end to a really fun vacation, but such are the physical limitations of single parenting.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

We're here, we're here

Just a quick drive by to end any needless worrying by our internettie friends over our health and/or well being. We are hale and well, but technology is conspiring agains my middle-aged ass, I crowed too loudly about being hip and with it. The universe is letting me know that I am neither and that I must take a smack down.

Somehow, someway, the DSL connection on our home computer punked out. I know the DSL line still works because when I drag my laptop home to work into the wee hours, because that's what lawyers do, don't know a one that doesn't work long hours and if you do, let me know because I want to practice in that area, I have no problem connecting. I need to call Daniel the computer geek guy who fixes my messes over to the house to fix it, but then I think, well, as long as I have to pay for a home visit, why don't I drag the other extra tower home from the office, make space, get another station ready for him to connect to the little home network because God knows I'm incapable, but then I don't because that would take effort and I'm low on effort/energy whatever it takes to do much more than clean an occasional bathroom, occasionally.

So the days go by and I think about things to blog in my head, there are things that are reportable in our lives because, after all, we just got back from the Disney pilgrimage AND a pipe burst on the third floor of my office building (my office space is in 1898 school building, really cool, exposed brick and all, but recently sold and set to be entirely renovated for an entirely different purpose and I'm moving in 23 days anyway) and I got flooded out of my office (gross, yuck, so discouraging) and that was really fun yesterday, not to mention anytime you try to get away from your office when you're self-employed, it takes a truly Herculean effort to nail enough flapping ends down so that you don't commit malpractice or neglect during the time you are gone and that kind of contributed to the blog silence. Plus, I'm feuding with my erstwhile law partner, jackass, and that is emotionally draining me more than I like to admit, jackass.

And Nora has been spitting on other kids. She had a bad week in October, there was a flurry of yellow and red behavior write-up cards flying out of her back pack every evening, but she pulled it together and strung several "green card" days in a row, I fussed and made a big commotion over her good behavior, but this week, she's spitting, disrepecting, not listening, disrupting, again. If there was ever a kid that should have come with an instruction manual, this is the kid.

So, I'd love to share the Disney photos, pictures of true princess love, and I'll take my laptop home this weekend, if only to protect it from any other mishap in the last month I have left in this building, and do a little uploading.

Thanks for the concern, I'll get back in the swing of things some day, maybe, or not.

Friday, October 05, 2007

ahead of the curve

I'm middle-aged and unhip in the bad way as opposed to unhip in the good way like moonboots on Napolean Dynomite. I unintentionally turned up a top 100 tunes/album/whatever the hell list when I was clicking around the web the other day and I kid you not, I did not even recognize ninety percent of the bands/artists/whoever the hell on the list. I exclusively wear comfortable shoes and we don't even have cable. But as I type, I just realized that regardless of my age, middle or otherwise, I have never been hip. A quick search of the memory banks and wildest thing I can come up with on the fly was the time I sneaked into the back door of a "The Knack" concert at the University of Hawaii student union when I was 19 because my surfer dude friends Howie and Lucas dared me and I didn't want to be left standing around like a loaf outside for a couple of hours. But I couldn't even enjoy dancing (there weren't any chairs, just the band on a short stage above a gym floor, obviously booked way before they had a number one hit) to My Sharona because I kept waiting for the tap on the shoulder and the bums rush out the front door when someone in a position of authority discovered our devious scheme. I'm so pathetic that way. And, really, age does have a lot to do with it too: I'm always the oldest parent at back to school or driving on field trips, always. And, yes it causes me no small amount of heartache that I am a dull reflection on my bright and energetic children. They did nothing to deserve being stuck with an old AND unhip mom but when you don't start building your family until your, late, ahem, thirties, someone has to pay the price.

So you can imagine my glee when my urban dictionary word of the day popped into my inbox:


High five, mini celebration, yay me. I turned my laptop into a brick and used the right word WEEKS ahead of discovering that I was using the freshest jargon, slang, argot, the lingua franca of the times, shall we say, to describe it. I'm hip, that's right I'm hip. Although using a term like lingua franca and admitting to being 19-years-old when I saw The Knack perform My Sharona at the height of the band's popularity probably just off-set my hip credits and now I'm back in the unhip column, brick or no brick, oops.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

When Macoun met Honey Gold

It was magic. I'm spoiled for life. I don't want any other apple. I just want to be left alone with a crate of these babies. Oh good hell, it's like eating cider except that it is "explosively crisp." The Honey Crisp are back in the local groceries and life is good. Buy some now. They won't be back until next fall and you should not live another day without crunching up one of these gems. I often, more like constantly without ceasing, fantasize about finding my life's work: the job that would fulfill my destiny and my best purpose in life. If I could stand by the apple display at Albertson's and hand out samples of Honey Crisp apples all day long, I think my prayers would be answered: a shill for the apple industry, heaven. I could be pushing Honey Crack, um, Crisp apples on the uninitiated. I can see it in my mind's eye: sad sad shoppers would taste these amazing apples and throw their arms around me and thank me for showing them the light and the way and for filling their small desperate little lives with hope again. I'm just saying, these apples are fine and could possibly be life changing. Buy some now.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

the tooth fairy is bleeding me dry

But that will be nothing compared to what the orthodontist is going to do to me. Back when I was dentally naive, I thought Ellie's teeth were going to be trouble. The two top incisors look like they're trying to escape each other and are running for the hills in opposite directions. I took her for the orthodontist consult and was told to come back when she lost the rest of her baby teeth and four years later, I still have no reason to schedule the next appointment. And even after the little pearls finally give up the ghost and drop out of her mouth, the permanent teeth take their own sweet time to make their appearance on the gum scene. And I mean drop out; there is NO way this child would ever assist a tooth by the normal methods, e.g., wiggling and worrying it until it's ripe for the pulling or just wrapping string around it and a door knob and letting your older brother help nature take its course. No, no, no, Ellie's teeth, loathe to come out in the first place, get no encouragement from the management. So, yeah, she'll need spacers and braces, but no biggie really, no major renovations.

But then the three littles came along and my orthodontic innocence evaporated. All three of them, oh good hell, it's like total tooth soup above the gum line. The x-rays make you shiver. The toothy confusion is truly truly frightening for a parent to see. And on top of the scraggle tooth thing Nora and YuYu have going on, Mimi's tiny pretty head isn't big enough to house more than 10, maybe 12 teeth tops. I just live in dread of the money that I'm going to have to pour into their mouths by way of the orthodontist's boat loan. Boat, nah, with their teeth? we're probably talking Ferrari payments more like it since they'll all three be in braces at the same time . . . and college at the same time . . . and driving at the same time. What was I thinking, I would really like to know, I'm a crazy woman, but that's not news, more about the teeth.

So Nora's bottom center incisors popped up behind her firm and secure baby teeth about two weeks ago and I was wisely counseled to be patient, to wait and see if nature would give an assist to the desiduosity (word?) process, and it did. She pulled out her first tooth yesterday and today, she just wiggled, worried and finally offered up the second tooth to be yanked by me because it was bugging her so badly. She is the only child of mine that doesn't winge and whine and clamp her lips shut so tightly that they disappear from her face when all I want to do is just want to take a look. And I even remembered, without prodding, to leave the money under her pillow last night. I hope I do as well tonight, but you never know, the fairy has proved to be fairly unreliable in the past.

The tooth that came out of Nora's head this morning was stained on the back side. I tried to use the stains as motivation for her continued efforts at good dental hygiene. "See," I said, "why you need to keep brushing your teeth bud? That's from when you were in the orphanage." "Yeah, that's why they shoulda boughted me a tootha brush." Even in an event as universal to child rearing as losing teeth, the adoptive parent is handed another poignant reminder that your child spent the first 4.5 years of her life without so much as her own toothbrush not to mention comfort and affection. Poor little sprite.