Friday, December 26, 2008

Seeing Red

This is the fourth year for these dressses (although the size four did have to be retired this year). If the little girls continue on their slow growth arc, who knows, dare I hope for one more holiday out of them? I bought these red dresses from Lands End, on sale, big discount, I felt like a winner, for Christmas 2005, pre-Nora, but soon to have Nora, and only Ellie has out grown the dresses and the whole concept of wearing matching outfits with her sisters, actually.

Sometimes I feel sorry for the folks who get our hand-me-downs, who needs three or four of everything, often the same size? But hey, I didn't plan to have triplets, it just kind of happened that way because that's the magic of building your family through interational adoption. I look at other families with stair step children, not lots kids all bunched at the same height and weight, and I think hmmm, that's odd, how did they pull that off?

And I thought it was the last year for all my kids to believe in Santa, but a report from our friend who treated Ellie to a viewing of the tween sensation "Twilight" this afternoon, thanks Lisa on so many levels, most of all that I didn't have to watch it, makes me think that maybe Ellie, 12, still believes, or wants to believe, but I don't dare ask her directly because then she may ask me some hard questions that I don't want to answer yet. Yes, that's me, the textbook example of open communication with your children about the hard facts of life.

But if he does exist, I'd like to give him a piece of my mind, stupid old fart, he has no self-discipline, he brought way too much crap again this year after I specifically instructed him to hold back, but nooo, does he listen to me? Stupid old fart gets all the glory and I get stuck with cleaning up all the mess. As Nora would say, not fayoh.

Good Night Nurse, She Moved to China

While I'm playing hookie from work today, I thought I would share my amazement and admiration for an e-friend who up and moved her family to China this month to become a house manager for a foster group home for Chinese orphans (one of three supported by this charity). I don't know all the details, here's link to the COAT website for more more background information about the charity and its good works in Jiao Zuo, He Nan Province.

My friend's name is Donna, and after much planning and packing, she took her three youngest kids with her to set up housekeeping on the sixth floor of the building that houses one of the foster homes COAT calls Eagles Wings II. I know I tend to the hyperbolic, but good hell, I can't even begin to imagine the preparation and courage needed to turn the life you've built on it's ear and pack it up and try something so different and so generous for five months. Five months is her commitment for now, due to other big events back here in the states she must attend, but I guess she can cross that bridge when she comes to it. For selfish reasons, I want her to still be in China when we make our trip next summer just because I think that would be so stinking cool.

Here's her blog link The Lauries Go To China, and I've added it to the side bar for future reference, because I don't know about you, but I'm hanging on every word.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Best Christmas Gift Ever

And to think I almost didn't get that prescription filled yesterday afternoon because I was doing so well with ibuprofen, what a dummy. So, I haven't been acting responsibly re: my cracked tooth, #19 to be exact, left lower jaw. A chunk fell out a few months ago. I just got used to the jagged edge because I was in big time denial about the necessity to DO something about it other than put my tongue in the hole every waking minute. But, of course, I knew, in my best most grown-up brain, that I couldn't neglect it forever, but the last time I had a crown put in, I agreed to have the permanent tooth glued onto the pretty and attractive stub of the old tooth (is that the creepiest thing in the world?) without novocaine, to avoid the numb slobber mouth effect, and when the glue hit the exposed nerves in the dentin, well, I passed out. I was crying, I had the dentist crying, it was very very unpleasant.

So, with that memory hovering in the back of my nervous system, it was easy to tune out the voice of responsibility that kept nagging at me and saying: geez woman, get into the dentist before it gets bad and becomes an emergency and there you are, in throbbing pain over the Christmas holidays and no way to do anything about it except indulge in buckets of self-recrimination. So, I finally listened to the voice of my better self and the dentist was able to fit me in yesterday afternoon to take a look at the crater I've been neglecting. He didn't want to mess with it, said he'd be "cranking" on my tooth for hours and an endodontist would be in. out. zip. zip. zip in an hour. More expensive (me = self-employed = no dental insurance), but less time in the chair vs. more dollars, no contest. So I walked out of the dentist's office with a referral and two prescriptions: penicillin and Lortab. My very first thought, oh heck, I don't need pain pills, I've been getting along with this pulsing penumbra of pain for many weeks, I don't need any stinking pain pills. But for the bargain price of $5.98, what the heck Mr. Pharmacist, fill 'er up while I run next door to Big Lots and do some last minute panic shopping for stocking stuffers. Two birds, one stone, love it when that happens.

I took two of the penicillin tabs the minute I got home, where good friend Marque was watching all our kids to cover my late arrival home, we ate take and bake pizza, drank a glass of wine, and glory glory, no pain, the penicillin was kicking some cracked tooth butt, or so I thought. I was so happy. Until 12:18 am when the pain woke me up like a lightening strike and I wanted to pull my own tooth out of my head with beading pliers. It took a few minutes, but I rememberd the Lortab and convinced myself that it was worth it to stand up and drag my butt into the kitchen several throbbing steps away.

I've never needed pain pills in my adult life, no surgery, no accidents, very lucky woman, so who knew, who knew?? One small medical marvel later, and sweet bliss, the pain went away. I slept well for the first time in weeks. To hell with my freakishly high pain tolerance, I don't need it anymore, someone has invented a reason not to just grin and bear it. What a gift, what a wonderful Christmas miracle. I'm a little vulnerable right now, what with the throbbing pain on and off and sleep deprivation, so in this weakened state, it might be possible to convince me of the existence of a higher being. Of course, not in the biblical sense, more like a benign and kindly chemist or pharmaceutical researcher in a white lab coat and half-moon spectacles pushed up on his balding forehead, smiling sweetly with a prescription bottle in his out-stretched hand. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, to mix a few metaphors, because I got my gift two days early this year and there you have it, proof positive. Of course, next week, root canal, but until then, I have a way to deal with the Fred Flintsone (remember when Barney would smack Fred's toe and it would pulse big, little, big, little?) effect going on in my head. Who knew? Life is good.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

My Little Buddy, reprise

Remember my Little Buddy? Well, we were intimate with each other several times yesterday. One time right on the 400 block of Main Street, right out there in the open, ooh la la, and we even had a three-way in the parking garage behind 404 South Main, racy stuff. I love my Little Buddy and I’m not too proud to show it, although I think the Honda van is jealous because it started screaming at me when I was preparing for our last episode of togetherness as I was leaving work yesterday evening. I still love the Honda van, but not like I love my Little Buddy.

So yeah, this time it was the dome light over Nora’s seat after getting home late on Saturday evening and not moving the car until Monday morning. I know, I know, you would think I would have taken the advice of the Sisterhood of the Honda Odyssey, but that button on the dash the disables the lights? I don’t like it. I don’t like entering and exiting a dark car, and since it feels like it gets dark shortly after 1:00 pm around these parts, the lights stay on, dammit, becuase, after all, I have a Little Buddy. The funny thing, I was aware of that button, but did not reach any independent opinion about its purpose, so I just ignored it for four years. That’s called not thinking outside the boxy van.

But, I am educable in other ways. I did remember to throw Little Buddy in the back of the van as I left the house because I knew I wasn’t driving far enough to recharge the battery. The thought that didn’t cross my mind? Little Buddy in the back cargo area is hard to get to when the electronic hatch won’t open because the battery is as dead as the doornails. Hope no one had their video going to catch my middle-aged contortionism as I crawled back through the van to get my hands on my Little Buddy.

And the three-way? Well, after my creditors’ meeting in 405 South Main, I FINALLY, and I do intend the caps, because good hell, the cobbler’s children have no shoes, dropped off the readoption petitions for YuYu and Nora (makes the state produce Utah delayed birth certificates) at the state courthouse that is through the block to the East of 405 South Main. And I was walking past the parking garage to get to the courthouse, I looked up to see a couple with the hood up on their car on the first level (open grill work on the garage so you can see, no solid walls) and I asked gallantly: “Hey, battery trouble?” And guess what, yes, battery trouble and my Little Buddy saved their bacon too. My Little Buddy, my hero. Talk about serendipity.

But on the final jump last night, something something, Owner’s Manual something something, after opening the door with a key, something something, alarm will sound, something something, hook up Little Buddy, horn BLARING in my face with hood lid up and head buried by battery, oh good hell, I jumped out of my skin. Honda van, you have no right to act jealously. My relationship with Little Buddy has grown and deepened because of your own weaknesses. Stop crapping out on me and maybe we can try again.

In the meantime, Little Buddy goes everywhere we go, do you hear that? Everywhere. Get used to the idea.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Utah Mom Sir, Utah Mom Am I, Ki Yi

You might have heard of me, I live across the green? My gang it is the jolliest that you have ever seen? You know the one, catchy tune, loud staccato Ki Yi-ing at the end of the chorus? sure, you do. (And for those of you not familiar with the University of Utah fight song, make sure you really project on the Ki Yis!!! Because that’s how we do.) Well, I hadn’t heard of a Utah mom either until just the other day and I’m so glad I heard about it with a time delay, because I might have embarrassed myself a little bit in public if I hadn’t had a minute or two to digest my new label, Utah mom.

My YuYu, my dear one, my heart, prepared a power point autobiography at school. Many weeks ago, YuYu and I sat down at our computer and picked out pictures for her life story. We copied a couple dozen photos that her teacher scanned in for her in the computer lab (if I had known that it was for a computer presentation, I would have copied them to a disky thing, I’m pretty sure I can do that). She used the photos to prepare her Life of YuYu autobiography and I’m sure it was lovely, but I haven’t seen it yet, but I will, it’s saved, we can see it any time . . . I’m not screaming into the parking lot at 6:00 pm to pick them up from aftercare, the last nuts on the tree and they’re locking the doors behinds us.

So the kids in YuYu’s class invited the parents to attend the autobiography presentation on election day. I had back to back hearings at exactly the same time way across town from our school and there’s just the one of me. The one whose clients pay her to remember to show up at the hearings and not commit malpractice, so I just couldn’t be there for YuYu this time. And I get so resentful when that happens. I can’t volunteer in their classrooms for two reasons, really: I work like a mad woman during the hours they are at school and, a classroom full of randomly churning kids? it makes me nuts. There’s a reason I never considered education as a career, ever, I would be a tragically inept teacher. But I do what I have to do to my schedule to make sure that I drive or chaperone on at least two field trips for each of them (that’s eight field trips, so I’m in there pitching), and I make it a priority to attend any special productions their classes put together for parents. But I couldn’t make it to YuYu’s autobiography, so I asked her to tell me about it at dinner that night.

She told me how Ms. L taught them to start with the most important picture: her foster mom.

And then the next one: her foster mom and dad.

And the next one: her whole foster family:

And then, finally, she slipped in photo of her sisters and her Utah mom.

And I have to tell you, her order importance for the photos?, referring to me as the Utah mom?? it got to me a little. I was a little rattled. There we were, looking for all the world like a normal family (well, if normal families only had one parent and the parents and the kids don't match) all sitting around the dinner table, and I’m doing my level best not to act like an jealous pre-teen because I just found out that to YuYu, I'm distinct from her foster mom not by permanence, but by location. You know, really mature stuff. My precious love nugget thinks I’m just a Utah mom. Not a forever mom, not her real mom, just her Utah mom. And then I thought, oh thank gawd I wasn’t in a room full of other parents with YuYu narrating her story and labeling me as the Utah mom. They would not have understood, and I wouldn’t have been able to explain and I would have just died sitting there thinking that they thought I wasn’t a “real” parent. That I was just a space filler and YuYu's "real" parents were pining away for her, the victims in a sordid kidnapping scenario, which they kind of were, they wanted to adopt her but just couldn't afford the fees.

Do not get me wrong. It was only a twinge of hurt and jealousy. I am so grateful to and thankful for YuYu’s foster family. Sharing this beautiful girl with her wonderful foster family and being her Utah mom is Ay Oh Kay with me. But I wonder what the other parents were thinking, or did they even hear/care/note the difference.

I still have huge guilt for taking YuYu from her foster family after they watched her grow and grew to love her for four years. I am so happy for YuYu that she had such a strong start in less than ideal circumstances. She had a wonderful warm mother, a truly doting father and a very proud and protective big brother who adored her, still adore her, who wouldn’t? YuYu is adorable. I get misty, still, when I think of the pain YuYu’s adoption caused these good people. Wanting the best future for their treasure, wishing that future could have been with them. I know that YuYu thinks of them often and with great fondness, no grieving, just acceptance that she is here with a family she loves and the other family she loves is in China, loving her back. YuYu is so well-adjusted, so in love with her other parents, so content and in love with me, but always her foster parents are in her thoughts and I am the Utah mom. Not the only mom, not the forever mom, the Utah mom. And I can live with that.

We just celebrated our fourth year together. If YuYu went into foster care when she was probably nine months old, I’m quickly rounding up on the day when I will have had YuYu with me longer than her foster parents had her with them. But it is apparent that all of the changes in her family life haven’t quite settled out in YuYu’s mind. She knows that this is now her home and her life, but she has such wonderful memories of her life and family in China. Being reminded that I am a Utah mom was a good thing for me. I need to be more aware of what YuYu lost and make sure she knows that I know and that I remember and that I love her even more for what she had to give up to be my daughter.

And it was especially good to be reminded of YuYu’s connection to her foster family since I am already flipping out about taking time from my practice (and I really mean my business and livelihood, practice is a word that doesn’t adequately convey the cash flow aspects of a legal career, it’s not all parsing statutes and writing briefs) next summer to travel back to China to attend her foster brother’s college graduation. Not to mention how much this is going to cost for all of us to travel, makes me cringe to think of the $$$ it will take to just buy the plane tickets. But YuYu will see and feel her beloved foster family and they will see and feel her and even if I end up piling more $$$ on the big mountain of debt, I can’t think of any better reason to do it. YuYu talks and thinks about the upcoming trip all the time. She is ready to fly there tomorrow. I can’t even imagine how exited her parents are for her arrival, can’t even imagine. This is one very special child who has the potential to become an incredible adult and the honor of being her Utah mom, considering how deep YuYu’s love runs for each family, is plenty enough for me. I am a Utah mom sir, Ki Yi!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My Little Buddy

So last summer, another adoptive family with a daughter from the Guilin SWI who shared time in the institution with my Nora although my Nora has a memory like a colander so remembers NOTHING of her first 4.5 years in China, good and bad I guess, but anyway, this great family was going to stop by on their way back out to the toolies so our kids could hang. Being the excellent hostess of renown that I am, I wanted to have the take and bake pizza at least took before they arrived, but the Honda was dead like the doornails. When Jane arrived at my door, I had to make her do the pizza run. Lord knows what she was thinking of me at that point, how conniving, how cheap, all true, but not my purpose that day.

But I was not without hope because the Honda is always dead like the doornails because pokey little children can't keep their pokey little fingers off the dome lights and the big brains at Honda didn't anticipate that eventuality and the damn car dies a slow death over night in hotel parking lots in Las Vegas, or, you know, wherever or whenever it would be most inconvenient. To that end, last Christmas, I asked for and received from my father (he will not shop or initiate gift giving, but if you relay through mom that you need something that Dad feels comfortable picking up for you at the auto parts store or Lowe's, he is okay with that, as long as it does not exceed approximately $75, more than that and he'll piss and moan until you think you've asked him for his PIN), a portable battery charger. What I also should have asked for was a short training session because Jane and I got that sucker all hooked up to the Honda and turned it on and it made a satisfying noise for several hours, but did not give the Honda back it's mojo in the slightest. So I'm thinking, Dad bought me the cheapest POS charger he could find and if I even knew where to recycle all the AA batteries we go through (where do you recycle used batteries?) that sucker would have been in the recycle bin too.

That day I borrowed a plug into the wall charger from my across the street neighbor George (an able-bodied early retired airline mechanic who would no more offer to help me as he watches me struggle with huge bags or topsoil or mountains of leaves or porch light fixtures or mountains of snow, or squat, he doesn't have to, sure, but hell, bad neighbor) and got the car recharged. For the next several months, I would cast disdain laden glances at the POS battery charger on its shelf in the garage, wondering what to do with it, not sure how to dispose of it, but sure that I needed to dispose of it and soon because it's very presence was an aggravation to me: POS charger.

So the weekend before Halloween, the little girls had their last soccer game and if they don't arrive on time, the team forfeits because the team roster drops below six if my kids don't play since they represent more than one-third of the team membership. I tell the kids to go load up in the car as I top off my mug o'joe and while I'm pouring my low-style flavored non-dairy creamer (I'm sorry, I like this stuff, shoot me), the little ones come back in through the garage and tell me that the van is acting funny. Oh shoot. It's dead. I can tell that George isn't home, wouldn't matter, the plug in the wall charger takes overnight to recharge. I call Stewart, no answer (what good is a best friend when he won't answer his cell at 7:40 am on a Saturday morning?). I spy Ron two houses up raking leaves, trot up to ask if we could get a jump, sure thing he says, I trot back down, realize that the Honda is so dead that I can't get the gear lever out of park and, therefore, can't back the car out of the garage to get access to the battery for a jump. I run back up the street to tell Ron, thanks, but no thanks, and he says: "We've got lots of cars, take one or ours." I'm am stunned by his generosity, really, we've spoken on maybe four occasions in three years. I don't go to church in the ward, so I don't know my neighbors as well as my neighbors know each other. I overcome my innate reluctance to ask for or accept help. I accept graciously, get the kids, three soccer balls, my camp chair and blanket loaded and off we go in Ron's sedan. I rack my brain for a way to thank him for his generosity and after too long really, this idea should have been immediate, it was so obvious, it hits me, fill up the tank stupid. So I put $30 of gas in Ron's car and return it to him only 20 miles worse for wear.

I call my dad and let him know that the POS Honda is dead, it COULDN'T be related to dome lights because I had been the last to close up the car when I put Hannah Montana in the back the night before, so would he please buy a new battery for me on the way into town and could he also install it for me and I won't be tormented by the disloyal battery anymore.

Dad and Mom arrive, without a new battery, but with his portable charger. He asks if I had tried to use my charger. I admit to him that the charger he gave me is a POS and that all it does is make a lot of noise and then eventually it dies without ever lifting the spirits of the target dead car battery. He hooks up his portable charger and I watch in disbelief as he turns it on and it makes no noise. I think, wow, his charger is really good, silent and all, no big noises like mine. Then he sits in the driver's seat and turns the key! What are you doing? I ask. I'm starting the car, he says. But don't you have to wait for the battery to recharge? He looks at me through the windshield with such a quizzical expression. But the car will not turn over all the way anyway. He says; let's hook it up to your charger. I say, okay, but it won't work beacause my charger is a POS. He hooks it up to the POS, he turns it on and THERE I see my critical error. I laugh, ha ha. In my previous attempts to use what I had assumed was a POS charger, I had turned something on, for sure, but I had turned on the COMPRESSOR, not the battery charger, hence the satisfying but mis-directing noise. He hooked up my new Little Buddy, no noise, and the Honda came back from the grave with one tell tale dome light left on over Mimi's seat where she had been pouring over her haul of cheap prizes and candy on the way home from the school carnival the night before. Kids, can't trust them.

So all's well that ends well: I rented the neighbor's car for $30, found out that its my Dad who actually owns the POS portable charger because mine worked when his wouldn't and my new Little Buddy is a life-saver, works like a champ and I'll never be parted from it or disparage it to friends and neighbors ever again. And the moral of my story is: get yourself a Little Buddy (make your Dad get you one for Christmas, it will make him feel useful), keep it close to your heart and turn on the right ON switch when the need for its services arises and you will feel safe and happy forever, but don't let your friends know that you have one and they will still have to pick up and buy the pizzas. The End.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

two more cents

So I'm up late, working, I’m tired sleepy and tired mentally, but I've been trying to jump back into the blog, but the longer I go between posts, the lazier I get. I'm picturing myself, watching the rope go around between the two twirlers on either end, both of my hands up and down, up and down, timing my jump, but every time I've tried to jump the past few weeks, I been sucked back into the real world where filing deadlines nip at my ass every time I try to sit down to blog and end up losing the rhythm and just put my head back into the job, but hell, I could really use the diversion and sustenance writing provides, especially when I feel like I'm stretched so thinly.

So I’m corralling my thoughts about the election and how it feels to finally, finally be represented by a leader who reflects my values, and the best way I can describe it?: it feels like a party in my patriot’s heart. And I AM a patriot, I AM a real American even though I AM a big D Democrat and I didn’t realize how very hopeless eight years of
GWBush and a lifetime of being a big D Democrat in the reddest of the red states had left me feeling. I am proud of my country, I am proud that Utah did not have the highest percentage of support for the Republican candidate like it usually does in presidential election years, Idaho and Wyoming beat us out of that distinction this year. I am proud that more of my fellow Westerners figured out that voting Republican is truly voting against their own self interest. But most of all, I am happy that at least 37% of the voting citizens in this state don’t think that I am in league with the devil because I voted for the Democrat because they did too and we can’t all be in league with the devil. I don’t think it works that way, too public, doesn’t the evil one work on a more discreet scale?

I am a life long Democrat and a life long resident in the reddest of the red states. Where, not only as a non-Mormon, but a non-Republican, and a single parent, I have certainly experienced what it feels like to be suspected of being in league with the devil because of the choices I make on my ballot. We pretty much have a one-party political system in local and state government, and seriously, it hasn’t been working all that great for us. You have to go back to the Great Depression when most Mormons were Roosevelt Democrats because the depression walloped our state so badly and like they’re aren’t any atheists in a fox hole, there aren’t many Republicans in a depression, but since World War II, the trend has been decisively red. Well, not so red anymore, you can see streaks of purple and my zip code; forget about it, blue, blue, blue, blue.

But one positive thing of learning to get along as a Democrat in a Republican stronghold, you learn to adapt strategies that keep you from screaming obscenities at the neighbors. I like to think that it has made me a better person, or maybe just caused me to retreat from a fight, but either way, no bloody noses over politics is a good outcome. So when my ancient neighbor Cuma (I really need to ask her the origin of her name one of these days) came down the street the day after Halloween to chat while the girls and I were out front raking leaves, she launched on how many other good causes for which the money Obama (although she said "that man") spent on his infomercial could have been used and that she was just livid about the waste. I was pretty gentle, I told her there were restrictions on campaign funds, he couldn't just spend the money on anything he wanted to, although I’m sure he agrees that hungry people should be fed, because the people who donated to him did so to help him get elected, not to feed the hungry, but she shook her head and said, "well, there's a reason those Democrats are known for their spending." Then she asked if the girls were still collecting for UNICEF and put a $5.00 bill in each of their boxes and marched them up to another ancient neighbor's house so she could donate too. I've lived my whole life trying to gently disagree with my neighbors without offending them because I know that (a) I can't change their minds and pretty much, they can’t change mine, and (b) they are good people who would give $20 to a “radical” cause (US out of the UN is a permanent metal sculpture at a house near my folks' home) because it made my kids feel special.

Living in the reddest of the red states makes me understand that, red or blue, most folks just want what they see as best for the country, and we all see “what’s best” through the prism of our own political biases. Although, each year when the Utah state legislature convenes, I do the mental equivalent of plugging my ears and singing Dixie at the top of my voice for 45 days so I don’t know what those yahoos are doing to the laws of my state to further disadvantage the weak, poor, vulnerable, voiceless and disenfranchised citizens of our state.

So can I just tell you, the relief I felt to wake up on November 5 to a country lead by a man who reflects my values? It felt wonderful, like a party I get to go to where I'll know lots of people and I won't have to feel like I'm a second class member of society because I'm a Democrat. And I do not over-exaggerate; so many people in this state think you are not a real American if you don't vote for Republicans. But there is no more sappily patriotic American than me and I have the trophies to prove it (grade school patriotic speech champion, two consecutive years, I was on fire). Now I have a leader who reminds me of the pride I felt and expressed out loud to a “multi-purpose room” full of fourth, fifth and sixth graders when I was just a girl and still full of hope. See, was I wrong?, sappy sappy sappy.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

When bad things happen to good apples

Oh, and while I'm still in the playing hookie from school mind set, I just have to share the pinnacle of my culinary achievements. This is what happens when impatient mom slops a little more water in the carmels to make them melt faster so we can all get on to the next fun seasonal event. Look at me, I'm Queen of the Kitchen.

I ran away from my own office today

I ran away from my office today, boy did I need to. A mom and daughter came in at 10:30 (wrong day, they were supposed to be here Tuesday). Daughter is a newly minted professional person (she went back to professional school later in life) and while she was freshly divorced, in school and not making ends meet, she intercepted credit card offers in her mom's mail and opened accounts without permission, bad bad bad scene. Especially since, well, that’s criminal behavior and that kind of behavior could get daughter’s newly minted professional license yanked in a hot second should her mom choose to press it. And things between them started to get so tense, they have not reached a point where they can talk about what happened without tears and recrimination, there is so much anger and guilt spilling out all over my desk, respectively: daughter guilt, mom anger, so I faked a hearing at 11:00 (since they were here on the wrong day anyway) and fled.
I fled my own office to get away from angry sad people who love each other but are wrecked and ruined over what has happened between them. But the help I could offer, the mom didn't want to take, and I am not a counselor/listener/it's going to be all right personality, so I fled. I flew away from them, I cannot fix it for them, I think the mom thought I could wave a wand, and maybe attorney Samantha Stevens could wave that wand or crinkle her nose, me, not so much.

So on my mental health break fleeing from the scene of sadness, I picked up some kid costume things at a here just for the month gone November 1 Halloween store, some new casual black shoes because I was in Fred Meyer (I know, now Smith's, but it took me so long to get used to calling it Fred Meyer). But the Fred Meyer has shoes and it is close to my office and I will never make it to the mall, I only just kid myself that it will ever happen so, there it is, I'm into convenience not fashion don't you know and you that know me IRL as the kids say, know. I filled my tank and ran the van through the car wash because I must have driven through a couple of swarms of bugs between here and Kaysville the past few trips to visit the old folks. I'm loving the new Legacy Parkway even though I don’t drive on it, but others are and that leaves I-15 all open and maneuverable, just like I like it. So I feel SO MUCH better now and even better after I do a little blogging during work hours, ooh, look at me, I’m wasting time, ooh.
I even called my mom while I was running those errands and said, hey, although you think I'm spinning out of control a lot, it could be worse, I could be running up debt on your accounts without your knowledge or consent, so think about that, see, not such a disappointment although my freezer is packed to the gills with sacks and sacks and sack of Bertolli meals. But show me a working mom out there who doesn’t need a few, or many, meal time crutches crammed away in the freezer, huh? Am I right?

It's just that I have been so busy at work, which is a good thing. Mo' money to hack away at the Nora adoption debt mountain caused by the lack of (a) cash flow, caused by my lack of (b) foresight. For a few months before and well over a year after bringing Nora home, I was not creating a big old pile of steaming debt that is not related to Nora specifically, but caused by the Bankruptcy Reform Act for which I didn't adequately or even at all predict the whammy it was going to put on my income at just the same time I was bringing home No. 4 mouth to feed. But with the economy in a tail spin, I haven't slowed down for a few weeks and mom is coming in again to watch the kids after school so I can work late to try to catch up on things. I'm having bad interrupted sleep and really strange stress dreams that I remember because I'm waking up so much which is a sure sign that I’m under a lot of pressure, that and the bad impatient parenting, that’s a pretty sure sign too.

And maybe it's here, while I’m really feeling the strain of being the sole provider, that I'll air my pet peeve (chuckle, like I have just the one). When a member of a two parent household says to me, "I don't know how you do it, when Jack or Jill Sprat is out of town for business, and it's just me and the kids; it just makes me spaz out." Well Mrs. and/or Mr. Sprat, try that scenario without the absent Sprat's paycheck hitting the automatic deposit into your checking account on a bi-weekly basis and THEN we can talk, you know? But I don't say anything; I graciously accept the compliment, keep my lips zipped and smile. Hey, what can I say anyway? I asked for this, I sure did, so don't let me hear myself complaining now that I got what I asked for, but, seriously, sometimes I don't know how I do it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pretty much perfection

A wise friend, who I'm sure is not aware of my blog and is too busy for it anyway, peeled off a little piece of advice at our last bookclub meeting that I gamely hosted at my house a couple of weeks ago (one-half hour after I emptied the house of too many 8-year-old Hannah Montaniacs from Mimi's b-day party) which my suave and elegant friends gamely attended and graciously looked past, over and around the dust bunnies big enough to have reserved parking spaces in the hall and the full size cut-out of the aforementioned secret pop star.

I was at my end of the table lamenting work load and loads of laundry and the general penumbra of guilt that comes part and parcel with more than full-time work, full-time house keeping and full-time single parenting (the genuinely single kind without the benefit of monthly support payments, although many may disagree with my definition of genuine because I don't have to deal with the emotional cost of a reviled ex-spouse that may or may not be forthcoming with said support payments and may or may not be poisoning my childrens' minds). My friend, who is a judge and a good parent, very credible and, as I already mentioned, wise) said to me, very directly, well, yeah, there's all that, and there will always be all that, and sometimes more of that, but just concentrate on making one memory a month and call it good.

Well, yesterday, it was good, very, very good, pretty much perfection, and I'm here to wrap it in waxed paper, tie it with string, and call it good.

Another wise mother of my acquaintance, who seems to have come instinctively loaded with the making memories strategy in her parenting quiver, generously shared her inside scoop (get it?) on the top secret pumpkin patch location (yeah, top secret, about 2 miles from where I grew up, who knew? I thought pumpkins came from the front of Albertsons and that was that, well they get to the front of Albertsons from this place). Equipped with empty bladders and warm jackets (you never know what kind of facilities, or lack thereof, one may encounter), we headed North yesterday on a morning that just screams for a cliche: picture perfect. Good heck, mid-October in our great state known world wide for what? oh yeah, snow, and it was dry, warm and so sunny, so really? other than what that damn electoral college does to my vote, what is so wrong with this place? Rhetorical, purely rhetorical, no need to answer.

Last one in the pumpkin patch is a rotten squash.

Wait, we don't need no stinkin' coats, where do you think this is? Utah?

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(Don't know how I just stranded that line of magic code, can't seem to fix it either, oh well)

Come on sis (they call each other sis, is that too much? I love it) let's ditch the little losers, they're slowing down our pumpkin hunting mojo.

Come on sis, let's take the high road and we'll be in Scotland afore ye.

Who you calling loser? Look at us Ma! Top of the World, um, top of the hay bale maze!

So many pumpkins, so litte time. Come on, you knew I had to say it, they're standing in the middle of a big honking pumpkin patch, how could I not say it?

Ellie, cut your hair, we don't get paid when you wear a logo sweatshirt if the logo isn't visible. Go Utes anyways. And that is about the most I can rev up for my alma mater, I so don't get the wearing 'o the red, unless the Utes play the Ys, then, yeah, GO UTES, I can spend a few more capital letters for that.

We learned in school that some eggs have a long incubation period, wait, wrong science unit.

Sis, come look, I found the perfect one, oh, crud, shouldn't have blinked, look sis, I found the other perfect one!

Mom, if I don't get me some help with this cart, your Social Security payments won't be able to even touch my therapy bills.

YuYu, we drove all the way to Farmington for pumpkins, come on, go big or go home, or well, yeah, we'll go home too, but come on little gal, load up, we're in the middle of a big honking pumpkin patch.

Total cheesecake, but did you notice, matching themed $4 t-shirts? I was in it to win it yesterday, they'll remember the matching t-shirts for sure.

Okay, cart is full, time to bring it on home, many hands make light work.

Many hands also make cart crooked.

Okay you amateurs, let the big sis have at it, I'll show you how it's done, although this is my first time in a pumpkin patch too because until today, Mom thought pumpkins came from the front of Albertsons. I feel so cheated, hope Mom's Social Security payments will be enough to cover all the therapy.

Okay, finally, the last 20 yards to the car, Mimi finally pitches in to help. I don't call her the princess of everything for no good reason.

Sorry girls, all sales are final, too late to take any back. Just start lifting, it's only 80 pounds of pumpkins. Put your backs into it, tote those bales.

No really, my hands are full with the camera, just keep lifting, it will be done before you know it, really, trust me, I'm your mother, would I lie to you? oh yeah, well I really thought that pumpkins came from the front of Albertsons.

And despite Mimi's pained expression, a good time was had by all and a good memory was stored in the childhood memory banks, I'm pretty damn sure. One month down, infinity to go.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Irrefutable Logic


Can't really argue with it, just find it kind of odd and, truthfully, a little disturbing,coming from a second grader, but that's my kid, just kind of odd and disturbing and totally gorgeous.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Look who's 8 (and totally gorgeous)


The fair Mimi Catbird turned eight yesterday and she is a heart swellingly beautiful child, am I wrong? Oh good heck, look at this kid, she is a delight to see and even more delightful to know and love. Happy Burtday my lovely girl, my Hannah-mad darling, my pixie, my #2 daughter even though she is chronologically my #3 daughter but I brought her home after Ellie so I think of her as DD#2. What a tiny, happy baby was placed in my arms a little more than seven years ago and look at the beauty, look. at. the. beauty. These milestone days make me remember to be grateful, and that I am, I am. Oscar Hammerstein said it for me, I must have done something good.

Oh and the other three aren't too shabby either.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Audited, Seriously?

Just what you want to see, right? An audit inquiry from the Utah State Tax Commission arrived a few weeks ago and it has been sitting on the corner of my desk while I stewed about it. The audit only has one action item: Deduction for Adoption Expenses. My first reaction was to drive over there with Nora, find the yahoo that flagged my return and ask, What the Hell? I don't have time for this, here she is, do you think she got here on her own dime?

But I've come down from that ledge a little and I'll spare you all the rest of the content of my response related to my 2005 and 2006 returns and adoption related expenses for both YuYu and Nora and when they can be claimed for state and federal tax purposes. I'll just cut and paste one paragraph where I try to weasel out of paying the bank a buttload for copies of three year old checks:

2. Although the USTC audit form requests copies of cancelled checks related to the 2005 adoption expenses, I have declined to provide those copies. The expense of obtaining all those copies from my bank is prohibitive and would not provide proof of all expenses where some expenses were incurred by electronic funds transfer or wire transfer. I have, however, enclosed a copy of adoption related expenses itemized by my personal finance software program for your review. When preparing my response to this audit inquiry, I realized that the cost of our airfare to China (families must travel to China to adopt their waiting children, children are not escorted to the adoptive family’s home country) had not been recorded and the actual 2005 adoption related expenses exceeded the amount claimed on my 2005 USTC return by well over three thousand dollars. Obviously, an international adoption does not happen for free and copies of the cancelled checks would not be especially probative under the circumstances. I have also enclosed a photo of myself, center, my third daughter YuYu on the left and my fourth daughter Nora on the right. This photo was taken by our Chinese guide seconds after we first met Nora and Nora met us. Nora is the unhappy one. Nora is real and the expenses related to bringing her home were real and within normal parameters and copies of cancelled checks are not going to be more or less useful than the enclosed transaction register.

I sure hope its the last I hear from our friends at the USTC (and I actually have friends at the USTC, just not in the audit department), but I kind of doubt it. My tax dollars at work, blerg, to quote my favorite TV character.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Run! Don't Walk, it's Honeycrisp Time!!

It's Time!!! It's Time, they are here, run, don't walk to your nearest green grocer and buy as many of these special little jewels as you can haul off in a goat cart because they are only here for a short short time and you need to eat, eat, eat a lot of them so you can savor the memory all year long. I'm serious. This is not hyperbole. The Honeycrisps are back in the markets and they are are "Explosively Crisp! Honeycrisp are fast becoming the most popular apple in the world!"

And lest you think all the extra exclamation points are a little histrionic, then you have obviously never eaten a Honeycrisp because: "Honeycrisp it is more than an apple it is an eating experience!"

I'm getting all the quotations from the "official" Honeycrisp website where they say things like: "We like to say Honeycrisp vs. Red Delicious; "You got the looks, But have you got the Crunch?" Think of that when you eat other apples!"

It is such a bad, amateurish website, but obviously reflects the grower's unparalleled enthusiasm for it's product, which I share whole-heartedly and also approve of the unfettered use of the many exclamation points. And if you can't find these incomparable queens of the fruit world in your local market, you can have them shipped right to your door. And I don't know any service men and women personally, but these good Honeycrisp people are picking up the shipping for any apples going to APO addresses, can you just imagine how good one of these things would taste if your butt was stuck in Ramadi? so I clicked a little donation to contribute to the shipping costs because that got me where my patriotism hits the road. Hard enough that these men and women are sent to stand in harms' way, separated from family, the comforts of home and then, to add insult to injury, to miss the short seasonal window of Honeycrisp availability because you're serving your country? Hell no. That cannot stand. Apple for Troops. I can't end the war, but I can help send apples. Off my soap box, safe to keep reading.

These apples are so good in fact, I know of a local woman who buys them and sneaks them out of the house to keep in the break room refrigerator at her office just so she doesn't have to share them with her husband. Sounds shameful, I know, but once you taste these apples, where: "The balance between sweet and tart utterly seduces your taste buds," I don't think you will or could judge her so harshly. She is definitely making the right decision. He can find his own way to the grocery store if it is that important to him, I say. And she knows who she is and you know it's not me because although I would certainly do the same thing if I had a husband, I don't, so I just keep my apples from my kids: I tell them I'm feeding them Honeycrisps and slip them Galas instead. They don't know, they're kids. I'm doing the right thing. Taste one, you'll see.

Saturday, September 13, 2008



What makes a happy girl even happier? Mooncakes from her foster mother, that's what. Notice Nora in the corner of the driveway photo? That's the "Ohwah! where's mine" face she wears on any occasion when she is not the designated recipient of the package, e.g., every birthday party she has ever attended that was not her own. EDIT[Well, all my worry about anonymity and I posted a picture with our addres on the shipping label clearly visible, damn these high resolution cameras, but no more picture of pouty Nora] END EDIT But she got over it and she and YuYu have been devouring these mooncakes, especially the cute kid-sized little numbers. I had to hide some of the cakes to share with our neighbors (Chinese citizens who work in a medical research lab at the U) to take over when I impose upon them, I mean ask them nicely, to read the letter that came with the package. And we have to save a few to eat under the Autumn Moon and think of friends and family far away who spent money they don't have to express mail mooncakes so they would get here on time and still be fresh.

Mimi and Ellie, both adopted as infants, don't have any affinity for Chinese snack foods including these mooncakes. They tasted a tiny corner of a cake, but that was all I could get down them. YuYu and Nora, both adopted at 4.5, retain their appetites for Chinese snacks and they could eat mooncakes and dried squid strips 'til the cows come home. Ever been driving along, minding your own business, when you were completely enveloped and overwhelmed by the smell of dried squid stips wafting up from the back row? I have and now we have a no squid strip in the car rule at our house so Mom doesn't drive off the road inside a cloud of squidiness.

Happy Mid Autumn Moon Festival!!!

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Plenty Good Enough


See, I'm completely immune to external pressure to perform to a higher treat standard than I could ever achieve without staying up and fussing over it all night before the "big game." My kids call every Saturday game, regular season play, not a playoff or tournament, the "big game." Too much Disney.
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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Her feet are long fellows

At the end of the school year last spring, YuYu's second grade class invited their parents to an Author's Tea. The wonderful Mrs. G compiled the poems into a book and each child scrambled up to the front of the classroom (literally, scrambled, Mrs. G had 28 second grade students and I think each child had at least one adult there for the tea, plus lots of younger siblings, so it was wall to wall humanity) to read their own poem out loud.

So you know that YuYu was in foster care with a family in Nanning for a little over four years and that they adored her and would have given anything to adopt her but could not afford the domestic adoption fees and were compelled to deliver her back to the orphanage on the morning of November 15, 2004, so I could meet their daughter, our daughter, a few hours later. I still cannot think of how painful that must have been for her foster parents to have to let her go that morning. Sure, sure, they knew what they were getting into when they agreed to the foster arrangement. But YuYu was their first placement and she stayed and stayed and stayed with them year after year and they had dared to hope that she could be with them forever, and the news of her impending adoption, which they heard first from me, actually, in a letter I enclosed in a pre-travel treat package, rocked their world. They told me the news of her new family really set them back on their heels, but they were grateful to have as much advanced warning as they could get. They told me that some foster parents who live in their apartment complex don't find out until the day before they need to send their foster child back to the orphanage, harsh, very harsh. But they wanted me to know that even in their sadness, they were so pleased and excited about YuYu's chance for a different future. I admire them for being able to see the positive aspects of having their beloved daughter torn out of their arms. I don't think I could have been so generous about losing an angel to a stranger.

So you also know that we are breaking the bank and all five of us are traveling to China next summer to attend her foster brother’s graduation from the military college in Guangzhou. I don’t think the idea of the trip is ever far from YuYu’s mind. Don’t get her wrong, she is a happy, well adjusted child who loves me and her sisters and she just feels lucky to have two mothers (the concept of her first mother has not seeped through her consciousness yet) who love her best.

So think of me, a sentimental softy on even the best of days, sitting with my knees under my chin in a tiny plastic chair, listening to my angel read her poem to her classmates. Imagine the odds looks I was getting from other parents as the tears leaked down my face. Good lord, they’re thinking to themselves, pull yourself together, it’s only a second grade author’s tea. Yeah, only.


The sun warming my body
The soggy fog goes away.
The sun comes out shining on the city
Rain drips from leafs
I feel you though you’re far away
But I can visit you another day.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


A comment to the previous post about soccer treat mom's possibly kinder ulterior motives reminded me of this website alllooksame I stumbled upon a few years ago. I thought I was more sensitive to the differences between Japanese, Korean and Chinese cultures than the average Joe. By the time I took this test, I attended school at the University of Hawaii for one lovely too short semester where I porked up on Asian food like there was no tomorrow, and there weren't too many tomorrows, one semester was all I got, but you name it, I ate it and I ate a lot of it, with two scoops rice and kimchee. All my roommates were Japanese Americans who shamed me into using chopsticks by telling me that 5 million Chinese pre-schoolers could do it so then so should I. And of course, by the time I took the alllooksame test I had traveled to China a couple of times and had read Red Scarf Girl and Wild Swans and whatnot trying to understand modern Chinese history so I could wrap my head around the genesis of the misbegotten one child policy that ultimately brought me to my children. I figured if I couldn't affirmatively recognize something as Japanese or Chinese, well then, it must be Korean by default and if it looked like bulgogi, I couldn't miss.

So I felt confident as I took the test (you go to the exam room link on the right side of the home page). I would have done okay if the test for cultural awareness had been limited to identifying pictures of food, but it wasn't and as it turned out I am just average at identifying the differences between these three major Asian cultures based on the seven other categories contained in the test. But, hey, I sure know my Asian food. So I guess it's a start.

A well meaning friend (and one who does not for sure read this blog) gave me an antique doll dressed in a unmistakably Japanese costume (and even if she did, wouldn't recognize herself because she wouldn't know that the doll wasn't wearing a Chinese costume) before Ellie came home, truly a thought that counts kind of gift. I'm still not sure what to do with that doll.

So it would not have occured to me that soccer treat mom was making a nod at my kids' birth country because they weren't born in Japan. And of course, I'm too self-centered to ascribe any other motive to soccer treat mom other than
a bald faced attempt to make me feel more inadequate than I feel almost every minute of every day as a parent. To stick the knife in and twist where I'm most vulnerable because it is all about me, always all about me. Next thing I know soccer treat mom will inviter herself over to my house so she can shut the hall door real fast and make the dust bunnies jump. She's diabolical.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Saturday Soccer Sushi

This is the first year that I've signed up the little girls for soccer. I could just never figure out how to get everyone to games and practices at different times on different fields, so I didn't push it. I figured if the little girls were interested enough in playing soccer they would nag me, but the guilt got to me first. Ellie has played on a recreational team for many years. She's not exactly in it for the athletics, but I thinkshe enjoys being on a team with a lot of her friends from school and if she wasn't having fun, I figured she let me know and she could stop, but so far, she's hanging in.

The guilts finally got to me though because I also know that the little girls would like to be on a team too, but they don't know enough about how things work to know that they just had to ask me to get what they want. I think they trust me to give them what they need and if I haven't given it to them, they must not need it. So I fudged YuYu's birth date a little so they could all play on one team. I have to rely on parents of girls on Ellie's team to ferry her to games I can't get to on time because I'm with the little girls (which was tough for me to ask for help, so stupid, but I am growing up a smidge). So for the next two months, someone will have soccer practice every night but Thursday and my Saturday mornings will be spent in a folding camp chair yelling until my throat hurts, but hey, it's only two months. And I never was a yeller before, but you try having half the team consist of your own kids (5 and a goalie for the little girls) and see how quiet you remain. Not.

But I have to tattle on the the treat mom this morning. And I could just kick myself for not getting a better picture. I sneaked this picture because I knew I was going to mock her and I felt badly about stealing the image. She probably thought I was some kind of royal wingnut when I sneaked this photo of her treat tray, but swear, I totally passed the camera around at Ellie's game later this morning because none of those parents have ever or would ever go to this level of effort for soccer snacks. I should have flattered excessive-effort-treat-mom and told her a lie like that I wanted pictures for my SIL or just made up someone who always has their eye out for cute kid treats, because no lie, these things are cute, but who was the cute aimed at? the kids or the parents? But I didn't think fast enough to flatter her with some load of crap so I could get a better shot, so this was all I got, but can you see what she's got going on here on the decorative pewter like tray?

Is this any better? can you see the bamboo sushi rolling mats atop a grass green sheet of what, who knows? and she even included a set of artfully placed chop sticks, no lie.

What the hell? who does she think she is setting the treat bar so high on the first game of the season? I, for one am neither impressed nor intimidated (well, yes actually a little bit of both), so boy are these kids going to be disappointed next week when I rip the top off a box of granola bars from Costco and hand them a warm juice bag and call it good.

Over-the-top-treat-mom made Rice Krispie sushi treats, damn. Maybe its the all the accessories that got to me the most, but geez, seriously? no one really expects their kids' soccer treats to get food styling points, or have I been living in a bubble?