Friday, April 27, 2007

Picture Day

My old, old, old friend, sorry LisaB, but we're approaching 20 years of you putting up with me so that makes us old, old, old and friends, has developed a real passion for photography. After much pestering of me to get the girls cleaned up at the same time and to let her take some photos, we finally met up at the big park for a shoot, as they say in the biz. The photos turned out nicely even though it was a little breezy which made me instantly regret the decision to let Mimi go hairbobless. I had to scrounge around in the bottom of my handbag to find a functional but not photo shoot worthy ponyholder just so we could see her eyes. And the breeze did not do YuYu any favors as she produces a spot on Alfalfa from the Little Rascals imitation as her fly away hair flew off her forehead in a most unfortunate way. However, I can't blame the breeze for the sad fact that Nora doesn't yet have the vocabulary to understand me when I say, "Bud, please stop grimacing," so she looks like she's passing a stone in most of the pictures.

But it was a fun evening and gave me this great shot: a pile of beauties with an Uncle Stew on top.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Big Risk Taker, Who Knew?

All last week, I kept promising myself that when I completed tasks A-C little i-iv, I could indulge myself and write a feel good blog entry about my wonderful little family. About how I’m learning to help Nora see how good choices get “good” attention or how I cannot WAIT for the IKEA store to open next month which will bring Utah closer to the middle of the mass market retail stream (if we could just land a Crate and Barrel my life would be complete), and then I opened yesterday’s big Sunday edition and saw this huge feature article about international adoption on the main local page and all other topics went to the bottom of the pile.

I’ve never felt the need to blog about current events although, of course, this blog exists in real time and of course we are all feeling the pain and horror of the senseless deaths in Virginia, or the forced abortions in Guangxi Province, or can’t comprehend that our tax dollars are being poured down a bottomless bucket called Mr. Bush’s Homemade Civil War. But I am acutely aware of my literary limitations (which is a topic for a future blog, man there are some folks out there in blogworld that can lay it down, they can write their nubs off). I know when I don’t have anything unique to add to the discussion besides a “yeah, me too,” so why create more clutter?

But can you see the headline? Taking a Risk: More Families Adopting. I don’t know how long this link will last, but good hell, what additional scary risk exactly are we taking when we choose to build our families through adoption? And, apparently, according to this headline, the risk of this mysterious scary X-factor that I can’t figure out goes way up when we choose international adoption. The last time I checked, the state pen was not filled exclusively with adult adoptees. Tim McVey, Adolph Hitler and Sueng Hui Cho were not raised by adoptive parents. My Nora is not the only child in her Kindergarten class who can’t read or count and the other “academically challenged” kids in her class are being raised by their biological parents.

I kept reading the article to see if the reporter was going to tie in the disturbing story about a local agency that told big fat lies to Samoan birth parents and US adoptive parents and made a heartbreaking pig’s breakfast of hundreds of lives. She gets there, she mentions Focus on Children and the adoption scam, but that does not seem to be the risk referenced in the headline. Am I reading this too critically? Does the reporter think the risk is that adoptive parents roll the dice and we could get a “bad” one? Who chose this stupid stupid headline? She discusses the extra baggage, the “narrative burden” a transracially adopted child comes with from the start. But she writes about the narrative burden generally, that all adopted children have a big sign over their heads that invites the stranger standing behind them at the grocery store to pepper their parents with personal questions. I just don’t think that happens to the blond-haired, blue-eyed Ukrainian adoptee and her mom, but I could be wrong.

I very much appreciated reading the companion article written by a Tribune staffer who is an adult adoptee. I always want to learn more about the feelings of grief and loss my kids will inevitably need to address as they grow older. I want to be prepared to recognize the issues although I will have no better answers for them when they become old enough to formulate the questions.

So is that the risk? That our internationally adopted children are removed from their birth cultures and may resent us for being the tool of the oppressor when they get older? Does she think that our aopted kids will be the only ones that rebel or reject their parents’ values? Does she think that all adoptive parents are dumb as rocks and haven’t wasted a single brain cell worrying about these issues? That we haven’t wept as the plane taxied away from the Guangzhou/Vilnius/Amaty/LaPaz/Guatemala City airport for the loss we were inflicting on our children by providing them a family? These issues of grief and loss are complex and deep and unending, so is that the risk? That building a family through adoption means we’ll have to talk about tough stuff?

I know about the risk of losing your heart to children who will never carry your biological stamp of approval, so is there another kind of risk of which I’m not aware? I am a leap then look kind of gal. So what is there about international adoption that I am so completely unaware of that I have to even ask this question? I guess I better write to the editor to find out.

And since I still haven't quite figured out how to respond to comments, I'm just throwing another paragraph on this post and italicizing for fun? distinction, because it's the only other font Blogger gives you? A wise efriend, (and who could have dreamed that up a generation ago, that we'd have efriends, when you don't have to buy a stamp for a letter, a penpal becomes an efriend, boggles the mind, but, back to this topic), who, in three sentences distilled my the discomfort and annoyance at that stupid headline (Dawn, you're right, I don't mind the article, but the headline frayed me a bit) that I couldn't make clear in shower of words. That to regard international adoption as a category different from "adoption" is the problem. Not that it isn't different from domestic adoption, but that to set it off as so different, so risky, seems to deemphasize the human characteristics of the children we welcome into our families. They are children, not something different than other children. It seemed to me that this headline gave the article an orientation that the reporter wasn't trying to communicate about the children, but about the process. The headline stressed the alien-ness of the experience rather than the humanness of it. See, it still took me two times the volume to paraphrase the idea, but hey, when you're used to billing your time in 10 minute increments, over-writing is a hard habit to break.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

oh yeah, and $95 I'll never get back

I forgot to add this companion photo to the last post. After the disastrous LAX plane change of 2001, ask me about that story some day when you've got an hour or two, I was this close to getting thrown in the holding cell by an INS security officer, good times, good times. So on this trip, I sprung for an airport hotel and an overnight layover so we wouldn't risk leaving Stewart and all of our luggage behind in Los Angeles again. Yeah, so this is the girls getting my travel dollar's worth at 3:00 a.m. after napping for an hour and a half while I laid wide awake trying to make myself fall sleep by sheer force of will since the last time I slept was more than a day before in China, but my will is not forceful enough and it never happened. So I sat with the girls watching Barbie's Princess and the Pauper for the bazillionth time seething with misplaced anger at Stewart, the non-parent travel companion extraordinaire who had the outrageous bad manners to take an Ambien so he could sleep like a salamander while I suffered. I really do not know to this day why we remain friends, I mean, the nerve of the man.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Buried Treasure

You all know that I got this spammy new camera, for which I haven't, as yet, read the instruction manual, but that's a different personality defect and not the subject of today's chat. So, instead of the fat memory cards, it uses the skinny kind (I realize this is all very technical, my apologies if I'm talking over your head). It came packaged with a single skinny chip with so little storage that 10 pics will earn you a premature beep beep beep, out of memory you big loser, before you even get your shutter finger limbered up. But I had an aha moment when I remembered that my camcorder has a skinny chip for the purpose of taking low resolution, pretty poor still photos (probably not the stated purpose Canon had in mind when it added the feature, but the picture quality is lame). I scrounged around the Kitchen Counter of No Return, actually found the camcorder, raided it for parts and we were off to the races. But soon after the girls started gathering the outside eggs on Easter morning, I got another premature beep beep beep, and thought to myself, WTH, I sure did buy a loser camera; couldn't possibly be me, I found the skinny chip and everything, I was so proud.

So I popped the chip into the reader and, X marks the spot, buried treasure. One hundred and sixty-seven still shots were causing the beep beep beep, most of them from YuYu’s adoption trip from 2005. It’s not that I had never seen them, I knew of their existence although good friend Stew was manning the video on that trip and snapped most of these pics. I know I sent waiting parents copies of the snaps of their Guilin cuties I was allowed to photograph on that trip (and the irony, Nora was somewhere in that HTS pre-school room I was too polite to poke my nose into, wouldn’t that have been a trip if I had caught her on film months and months before she became a gleam in my eye? but, sadly, no). Only now do I remember that I took the card reader to my office for a faster connection to send the files (hadn’t ponied up for DSL at home yet) and I never copied the files to my home computer.

This was the last photo from that trip on the camcorder. It is a photo of three very tired (and apparently hot, see how Ellie rolled up her pants past her knees?) sisters on the last leg of the trip on the morning flight from LAX to our fair city. To them, it is the middle of the night, China time, and they are toast. We drove straight from the airport to grandma’s house, crossing no rivers, for Thanksgiving dinner with hordes of Hansons. When I read all the carefully planned transition plans adoptive parents devise for their new additions: no one but mom and dad holds baby for first 37 days, no one allowed in home, grandparents eat grit, for first 75 to 115 hours after arrival, baby only allowed to be fed by mom or dad until age four, etc., I just bet those folks want to report me to DCFS for pulling YuYu off the plane and dumping her into an overheated house full of thirty new uncles, aunts and cousins and the delicious, but to YuYu, decidedly strange smell of roast turkey. Hey, my motto is sink or swim, baby, sink or swim. She did great, no one needs to worry because I disregarded conventional wisdom. YuYu was off my lap and running with her cousins after only an hour of careful observation, then she wanted to be part of the fun. She’s still an excellent, but cautious, social swimmer. My little gal is not a sinker.
It was very enjoyable to rediscover those memories. So glad my new camera requires skinny chips.
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Monday, April 09, 2007

And on a lighter note

The rabbit found us, again, this year, although it is still uncertain how she gains entry. I thought I had hard cooked two dozen eggs, but it apparently doesn’t take me as long (oh God, will this never end, this lot is huge, I’ve been pushing this mower For. Ever.) as I thought it did to mow the lawn and the eggs ended up under cooked. For future reference, if I engage you in conversation this summer and try to make you feel sorry for me because I take care of my own yard because I can’t figure out how to give back yard access to the lawn care professionals when we’re not home because of the Folsom Prison perimeter installed (just shy of the broken glass shards embedded on top of the wall) by previous owners who were Seriously concerned about attractive nuisance liability theory (uncovered ceement pond), tell me to shut my trap and give me no sympathy because if two dozen eggs can’t hard cook before I’m done mowing, I’ve got no room for complaints.
So, in open defiance of the multiple weathermen the rabbit watched as she sat there into the wee hours filling egg after egg after plastic egg with teeth rotting fight inducing zealously guarded ziplock bag with names in big bold Sharpie stroke (MIMI CNDEE) filling treats, the rabbit threw caution to the wind and left the real eggs outside in the grass to be found by four finely tuned egg hunting machines on Sunday morning. The rabbit hedged her bets and hid the HUNDREDS (or maybe it's not hundreds but just felt like it, kind of like how long it feels like it takes to mow my lawn) of candy-filled plastic eggs in the house. However, in spite of the rabbit's misplaced confidence in her it won't rain if I hide them outside strategy, rain it did and all the color came off the carefully colored eggs. And I don’t use the term carefully loosely. I made them strip down to their underwear and sit on the deck on patio furniture without the decorative seat cushions to color the eggs. The rabbit hates dealing with spilled egg dye in the house. The rabbit is only slightly better equipped to handle it on the deck, but, fortunately, the rabbit’s nerves went untested this year. The rabbit discovered that the eggs were undercooked as she distributed them on the lawn, and due to her advanced years, she was too lazy, er in a hurry, to bend down closer to the ground until she heard a couple cracks that sounded like an over-ripe and unappealing melon hitting the turf. Since life is a constant quest to keep adding knowledge, to become wiser, I walked further down that road because I learned that you can throw the eggs back in the vat and cook them good again the next morning. Little bastards were sure hard to peel though.

Someday I hope to learn the secret. The rabbit's mother insists that older eggs peel more easily. Well how the hell old do they have to be? These were purchased two weeks in advance to insure easy peeling, but that didn't buy me any advantage. I had to savage the slimy things to get the shells off. So much for a symbol on new life, these things were only fit for egg salad and there's not too much life affirming about egg salad.

On the commercial side of things, the rabbit was so proud of her restraint this year. The rabbit really cut back on the amount and expense of the crap, er, lovingly selected gifts she left behind in the baskets. But then the rabbit’s mother took the girls shopping and bought them so many clothes that all of the rabbit’s restraint didn’t amount to much against the weight of all the new outfits from grandma. We are heathens, really, no religious observance of any kind, really, even though we live in Utah, really, we don’t go to church. So my kids really don’t need Easter dresses, certainly not for the customary reason kids need Easter dresses, so the outfits the kids selected ranged from June wedding guest (Ellie) to, your mom really let’s you wear that? (YuYu). You should have seen YuYu’s face: the wonderment, the happiness, the eagerness! over this polka-dotted, multi-tiered little number that makes you wonder when she’s going to transform into Mother Ginger and hordes of bonbons are going to skitter from under her swing top.

I also found out that Ellie, 10.5 years-old, is still a firm believer and that I don’t even have to be that careful about hiding the fact that the rabbit is me, she still really wants to believe in the magic. Even faced with the overwhelming evidence that no magic is involved in our Easter celebration, such as bags of crap, er, lovingly selected gifts in the back of the van, clearly visible and easily discovered, the swim suit she picked our from the Land’s End catalog in her basket and the Land’s End box still in my bedroom, my not very well disguised handwriting on the money egg in their baskets, she remains convinced that the rabbit is not me because of my stunning persuasive skills:
Ellie: Mom, are you the Easter rabbit?
Mom: Ellie, think about it. Have I ever just given you money without making you earn it?
Ellie: No.
Mom: Okay, how do you explain the $10 in that money egg? Would I ever just give you money for nothing?
Ellie: Oh, you’re right, you’re not the rabbit.

I rest my case.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

One at a time


is so stinking easy, especially if you have a little bit of a crush on the one. It's spring break next week, so I'm doing the working mom shuffle to arrange child care. Ma and Pa took DDs 1, 3 and 4 out to the home place this afternoon until tomorrow afternoon when they need to leave for funeral in Idaho, so Tuesday is still up in the air, hmmm, I need to knit a thicker support net. So here I am tonight with only the charming, easily pleased, uberadorable YuYu because she has a Brownie event tomorrow afternoon and will need to go to work with me until I take her to the SAHM-planned (obviously) event to celebrate their epic victory in the cookie wars with great feasting and feats of skill and awards for bravery (Little Ceasar's pizza, swimming and new badges).
There wasn't enough time to do much together, a bath where I got creative with the tub crayons, carrying clean laundry up the stairs and singing She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain with YuYu giggling go hard at the crazy lyrics I was making up that she got a side ache, then folding great mountains of laundry (with only two pair of Ellie's clean knickers to be found in the whole entire heap, hmmmm, not a good sign) when YuYu wanted to know if I was boring, well yes, but what she really wanted to let me know was that she was bored, so we talked about the meaning of bored and she said: "Mom, you really do know everything." Easy to see why I have the mom crush on her, yes?
But what was most noticeable, sadly, sadly, noticeable, to me was how relaxed I was without Nora. How easy it was to sing and be fun and make up games and not have to worry about Nora spinning it out of control and into the badlands of competing/needing me to focus the fun on her, or at least demanding and making sure in loud and intrusive ways that she gets her fair share of the fun which usually sucks all the fun out of whatever fun I initated anyway. She just NEEDS so much from me, needs so much more than the other three combined. Needy, to the point that she hangs on me and I feel like I have to suppress myself and only make small gestures, only give small portions away because she'll just need more and more and more and more and more never ending until I just don't see how I can ever give enough, so I don't want to create any expectations I'll never have enough resources to fill. If I loved her like I love YuYu, it wouldn't feel like work to try to fill her up, but the magic isn't there yet and it still just feels like work. I've been quiet about the slow progress, but there it is, it goes slow, not even steady; just slow and erratic with just a splash of guilt to make it emotionally exhausting.
Well, interesting how that post just got away from me. Hmmmm.
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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

New camera


Hmmm, new improved mega mega pixel but same old shutter bug. I guess I better actually read the manual. How cliche.
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Monday, April 02, 2007

It's official, I think, China July 2009

Here is the babelfish translation from the email I received in response to my question about attending Huang Wei's graduation ceremony. I think that it says we are invited. Huang means yellow, but his name symbol is not the same as the yellow symbol, so, whatever, it's a free translation, can't complain, but you'd think it could sort out yellow from a name. Oh boy, Guangzhou/Guilin/Nanning/Chongqing in July, can't wait, it will be so comfortable and cool, the timing just couldn't have been better.

"Marji and treasure treasure; □□hello, on March 31 we received the mail carrier's bag which you mailed, the true feelings thank you the vitamin healthy product and the cashew which chose for us, we extremely liked. Huang Weidao in July, 2009 graduates. After we must come you Guangzhou to participate the yellow great study graduation ceremony the news to tell him, yellow great is extremely happy, he also very much thought of the treasure treasure in US'S content life, and was anticipating you come that one day."
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