Sunday, December 31, 2006
As I am usually in a cooking rut, I decided to pull up a chair and away I went flipping page by page. The rest of the family soon lost interest and left me with my mother's old book. It was an hour and a half tour through my childhood. Stuffed cabbages, eggplant Parmesan, pork chops and scalloped corn all those family dinners at 6pm sharp. Not only were there recipes but there were notes on some of the dishes explaining what year she cooked them. Some even displayed notes saying things like "took to Kitty Winke's New Year's Eve Party 1980, excellent." Each note was carefully written in my mother's lovely distinctive careful penmanship. Why couldn't I have perfect elegant penmanship like that?
Midway through I happened upon a Harvey Wallbanger Cake. With a name like that how could you not stop to pay reverence? Hmmmm....Harvey Wallbanger.
1pkg. yellow cake mix
1pkg. vanilla instant pudding
1 cup cooking oil (crisco)
1/4 cup vodka
1/4 cup Galliano
3/4 cup OJ
mix all ingredients and beat for 4 min. Pour batter in floured BUNDT pan. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes
Glaze cake when still warm:
1 cup powdered sugar
Drizzle over the cake when on the serving dish.
My father explained that a Harvey Wallbanger is a drink and was popular in the 1950's. Well golly gee willikers, if I am going to be a caricature of cul-de-sac suburban living then how could I pass up the Harvey Wallbanger Cake to take to the New Year's Eve party 2006? There I would be with my two lovely children, my muffin man walking all of 6 feet to the neighbor's party with my glass cake dish displaying the Harvey Wallbanger Cake molded in bundt pan form with orange vodka icing dripping down all sides evenly. Of course my darling children would disappear to play with their wholesome looking friends once we arrived and I would be free to tout my domestic prowess among adoring friends and neighbors. The spinach ball debacle of 2001 would be long forgotten and I would be free to enter myself as a cooking judge on the Iron Chef early in 2007.
Yes, we would be bringing Harvey Wallbanger Cake to the party. I quickly stole the recipe. (Then told my dad I took a copy since there were no less than three copies of Harvey Wallbanger cake in the pink floral book.) Three copies, I've struck gold I thought. This must be one winner of a cake.
Back at home the muffin man and I took the girls to the grocery. We needed Harvey Wallbanger ingredients. I carefully looked at the list and found a rather old looking tub of shortening labeled Crisco. I must admit I have no idea how old it was but Crisco doesn't exactly go bad does it? I pulled it out of the recesses of the cupboard patting myself on the back for using something just taking up space for so long. At the store we mosey over to the liquor aisle with our two small children looking for Galliano. We had some of the vodka in the cupboard but Galliano was a mystery. Apparently Meijer thinks Galliano is a mystery too. No Galliano. I ask the muffin man if he thinks it is anise flavored like my dad suggested. Perhaps we could get some anise flavored liquored instead? Oh no, the Muffin Man bellows if we are going to get a $30 liquor let's get something that tastes good, like Grand Marnier. (aka, tastes good and could be used in lieu of real date night at our house.) Hmmm, substitute Grand Marnier for Galliano? And then take the recipe that we've never made to a big party where all of our friends can mock me for being the biggest baking ditz in the world? Surely nothing could top the spinach ball debacle of 2001, why not? Sign me up. Galliano is out and Grand Marnier is in. And thus our family trip to the liquor aisle has concluded. But not before the lady in front of us rammed her cart into a six foot tall display of blue bottled liquors shouting, "Oh Shit!" Ava giggles and my man and I stare open jawed. She laughs nervously and looks at us apologizing profusely. I calmly tell her not to worry since we are a family of 4 who has recently spent 20 minutes educating our 4 year old on the difference between Hot Damn and Cinnamon Schnapps. A little profanity is to be expected.
Fast forward to today. I pull out all my ingredients and my shiny new bundt pan. (No, in 15 years of wedded bliss I have never once owned a bundt pan, it was a red badge of courage.) I use all the ingredients carefully. But then the batter is a little thick. Really thick. I re-evaluate my recipe card with 1960's goop stuck to the left side. Damn, crisco as in oil...not Crisco shortening should be used. Who ever heard of Crisco oil? What the hell? Isn't Crisco always the white disgusting stuff that looks like something out of the fat can?
Crap, no avoiding my mistake. In a moment of panic stricken pure genius I up the orange juice and toss in a dash more Grand Marnier to thin the batter. If it tastes gross at least everyone will be drunk as skunks before they notice.
It is in the oven now. Crisco shortening not oil and no Galliano, Grand Marnier instead...in all its glory.
In a moment of looking at the bright side the liquor laced icing made up quite nicely thank you very much.
Here he is. Harvey Wallbanger. I have no idea how it tastes. It's a cake right? I can't exactly dive in and THEN take it to a party.
I'm putting my money on It's a Winner! A little vodka, Grand Marnier, and a nice glass dish (lovely cover not shown) can take a girl pretty far in this cul-de-sac.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
But then I am reminded of how I would like to remember my life when I am old and gray. (Unfortunately I don't think I'll be waiting that long for the gray part.) I want to remember living, trying new things, regardless of the outcome. I guess I would rather live and lose than never live at all. I know the real quote was about loving and losing rather than never loving at all, but it is the same premise right? Of all things, a commercial reminded me of this. Perhaps you have seen it. It has the actress Lynne Redgrave saying that she wants to die dancing the tango, or eating too much chocolate, not die of breast cancer. I hear that message. I want to die drinking a small glass of chardonnay, eating shrimp with killer cocktail sauce on a large front porch giggling hysterically with family and friends about how I wasn't afraid to try something new.
And so, here it is...something new. http://pinkevita.blogspot.com
Email me if you'd like a funky little bag with a bow on top. Everything in life is better with a bow on top.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
I love Christmas in the 'burbs. And, I inevitably I find a giggle in my short everyday travels. Some people say that their children make them laugh. Mine for the record only give me gray hair, for which I had to take a short ride out of the cul-de-sac yesterday to find Clairol's #363 medium golden brown hair coloring to take care of the situation. The Muffin Man watched and said, "Don't they just have some Grecian Formula for that?" "Uhh, yeah and this is it, Bright Eyes." I explained. Grecian formula for girls.
Back to why it is not my children, but rather my neighbors who are putting putting the kick in my holiday season. Here is why. Look at the picture, no those aren't supersized umber colored holly berries. It was taken on the sly by moi today, standing out in the street, with the super zoom acting like my holiday lights were so dang cute I must preserve the moment for the non-existent scrapbook. Pumpkin pie anyone? Maybe the folks at Starbucks could swing by pick them up and use it for my favorite pumpkin spice latte. I'll take mine without the mold. What do you think Mary thinks? Is she saying, "Hey, you remembered the pagan Halloween but you couldn't remember my baby boy's birth?"
Look up Mary, no one forgot about Christmas.
I know this goes without saying but how do you take the time to put up very nice tasteful bough of holly complete with lovely red bows and then not notice that the pumpkins are working themselves into composte on the concrete step 12 inches behind you?
And, yes I do live in a glass house so heretofore no one and I mean no one is ever allowed to open a closet in my house ever again, unless they are related to me and really need a mismatched sheet set or a 27 year old towel with holes.
Recently the Muffin Man won $75 in Vegas while there on business. There is a brand new double or nothing bet with the wife that we will have pumpkin soup by Easter.
And that my friends is the multi-holiday update from this corner of the cul-de-sac. Pumpkin pie and all.
Friday, December 15, 2006
If I could have this all done and complete by this. Then I would indeed be her. And my children would be them. Complete with Alice, because let's face I could use a little help around here.
And so I shopped. The Muffin Man helped with a Costco run or two and by Thanksgiving we were wrapped, slapped, and tied up with a big ole' bow. The loot was neatly stashed into the back of Grammy and Grampy's Lexus heading off the to great white north where we would meet up with it all a nice and tidy 3 days before Christmas where we would be free to drink plenty of these while laughing snidely at those folks too stupid to start Christmas shopping at Easter. Now is when you should be singing "off to Grandmother's house we go" in your head and envisioning this, except my kids are Chinese, but you get the drift.
Except we have a problem. This child has exercised her prerogative as a woman "in training" to change her mind. Remember, Christmas shopping is done and the presents have been carefully wrapped and are conveniently out of state. Instead of whoozees and whatnots...she has clearly stated to Santa (at the mall and at the Children's museum) that she would like widgets and whizballs. Please, with a red bow on top.
Ordinarily, in past years I might have just run out and tossed a plastic card at these people. However, we have the littlest elf living with us now and what good parent in their right mind would allow Santa to bring more toys for one child than the other? I don't think she would. Oh, no Even Steven all the way baby. Not to mention the fact that we have completed 2 adoptions in 4 years, we have 2 college educations to bang our heads against the wall thinking about, and Momma currently has a slight cash flow problem, she has traded in those delightful Italian leather working boots for these. (Sad Momma kicks.) The toy train has come to a halt, and has fallen off the track.
So, instead what do the Muffin Man and I decide to do? We bought this, which in itself is so far beyond way cool except it was not what was whispered in Santa's ear. I plan to dress it up with lots of blingy bows under the tree. Hopefully when she sets eyes on this baby all other thoughts of widgets and whazoos will be a distant memory. A valuable lesson has been duly noted in the Parenting Handbook and filed under the red Christmas tab, go ahead and wait...shop with masses on the 24th.
For those of you feeling especially sad for little Ava, the deprived and unloved little soul. Her birthday is three weeks after Christmas.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
But then again 194 will probably pass in a flash. How do I know this? One baby has been home for over 4 years and the other home 3 whole months. She turned 13 months this week.
I'm watching two of my favorite bloggies travel to China to pick up their babies this week. I can still smell China. I can still feel my stomach turn as I watch someone's live snake dinner swim in the tank and poke his little head over the top. How can it all be gone so fast? We've been home for over 3 months.
I'm sort of bundled up this week too. I'm wrapped up in all that is Christmas and life with an almost 5 year old and a baby who is not really a baby anymore. I vacillate between wanting to enjoy each minute with them while they are small and a desire to figure out what will happen next in life as they grow. They will grow fast and move on to school and beyond. What will I do next? Should I even be thinking of this now when they need me most? I'm not exactly sure why I feel this time in my life holds such opportunity for more than a mom who does all things for kids at home. Perhaps it is a desire to be more than a cliche.
Usually I like to wrap these posts up with a resounding epithet or snappy ending pulling everything together. A lesson for me and for anyone who reads. But there is no lesson yet, I haven't figured out what is next. As always, I pressure myself to figure it out. I'd be well served not to pressure myself and just be. I know that. And yet...still working on it.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Anyone who has pint size mess makers sponging off them eating macaroni and cheese and animal crackers faster than the grocery man can replenish needs this. My Main Muffin Man brought this home yesterday. I looked at him crosseyed trying desperately to seem grateful since we already have a vacuum cleaner.
But we did not have this Electrolux. No sir'ee.
It weighs about 2 oz. and get this, no plug! It recharges itself. Although, I do sort of miss the untangling of a dog leg or neck. It sniffs up bits and pieces of our hourly messes toot sweet. Then if that isn't enough, the little piece at the bottom comes off and becomes a dust buster. You can swiff up nasty stuff while shaking this thing over your head if you like. I used it in all sorts of scary places this morning.
And if that isn't enough of a party for you. Clean the thing out. You just pop the filter thingy off and shake it in the trash can. I found 5 ficus tree leaves mixed with a gignoramous amount of gray matter after only 6 minutes of skipping through my downstairs.
My life as a boring house frau is officially changed. I'm serious if you have a small human who thinks tossing peas off a high chair is blood sport go get one of these. Find a coupon and shop till you drop.
I ask you what man in his right mind would use his birthday money from the in-laws to buy an electrolux? I knew there was one reason I keep the old guy around.
Kudos Electrolux people. About the color? Umm...well now my girls will be able to say that their parents had an oh so retro orange vacuum cleaner. If I can say that my parents had avocado green and mustard yellow daisies on the wall they should be able to tell the tall tale of an orange vacuum.
I know I know...just show a picture of the girls. Tomorrow, I promise.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
As it turns out Santa's photographer was not Santa's helper at all. He worked for the local paper.
He quickly took our names and we were off to see some 10 billion year old meteor that hit Indiana soil in the 1960's in no time at all.
The next morning the Muffin Man was reading the paper and sipping coffee. Hey, lookey there he proclaimed, front page of the Metro State section.
And so that is how Olivia got 15 seconds of fame all within 3 months of moving to the USA.
Note to stalkers: I realize that this picture does disclose our last name and town. Should you feel inclined to disturb our little corner of the cul-de-sac...don't, the Muffin Man is large and not nice to strangers. He weilds a hefty golf club over head to any unsuspecting stalkers. Don't tell me you weren't warned when you get your 15 seconds of fame in the paper.
Everyone else, thanks for the nice phone calls and emails saying you saw the cutie pie over your morning coffee.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Does using your time sitting outside of daughter number one's Chinese school class scribbling ideas on a yellow pad count as developing a business plan? Don't answer that. I even have a name for the whole shebang...I'm seeing it in lights in my dreams. Kidding.
Ok, Miss Laid back bestest baby in the whole wide world is schreeching for a banana or something.
More to come soon or later, hopefully soon.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Taking care of small children full time, tending to a house that is under constant arrest of two pint sized whirling dirvishes, and conjuring intelligent thoughts beyond pork chops and scalloped corn for dinner has proven at times to be a creative energy vacuum for me. All of the day to day, hour by hour and minute by minute happenings in my little corner of the world have at times consumed even the most spirited and creative part of what makes me, well...a happy well balanced me.
This is the part of full time stay at home mother-dom that has sent some of my dearest and most talented mother friends skittering off to a cubicle near them to be amongst movers and shakers. The reality of what I have known in the past is that having it all takes giving something up. By that I mean that the grass is not always so much greener on the other side...both being at work outside the home and not working outside the home takes work and compromise. I am in awe of women who seem to make it work while working. Period.
I am even more in awe of women who have found a way that includes flexibility for what their needs are in any given year. For example, they have a 1st grade child and work while the child is in school but make it home in the nick of time before the bus arrives at 2:50pm. I know women who work doing something at home, while the children nap.
So where is all of this going? Why the work home life balance rumination?
Maybe it is because the last week or so I have been making a concerted effort to be more creative. I have been photographing the kids. (Oh my, even with my delayed snap digital they are cuter than bugs ears.) I have been spending hours dragging those children through the fabric stores in attempt to find the bestest darn trims and fabrics for a new round of handbags.
While Olivia naps my sewing machine has been humming. And it is food for the creative soul. Maybe it is time for me to work on finding a way to make work WORK. I can't work in the cubicle, no offense to anyone who works in a cubicle...I have had some pretty nice darn cublicles in my day. Creative work is what I want. I'd love to dream that it is not too far fetched that I could create a job for myself that let's me create the stuff I'd like to create and that someone out there in the world would find enjoyment from that stuff. (aka, pay for it) I am a child of the 80's after all.
So here it is, some cute pie pictures that I enjoyed taking.
Ava and her friend E at a holiday party.
And some hand bags, just for fun.
Next time, more about conjuring nerve to take handbags to local boutiques.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Ahhh, and on the news front this great day of giving thanks.
I must mention for posterity's sake that sweet darling little Olivia wolfed down turkey, mashed potatoes, Emerils fabulous spinach and artichoke dressing, and an entire piece of pumpkin cream pie that was earmarked for my mother. (Who wouldn't choose to buy my gal's affection with pie?) She also tossed her sippy cup off the high chair tray no less than 6 times with gusto, sending the Muffin Man skittering and mumbling obscenities under his breath. She promptly wore herself out shoveling the grub in faster than I could move it from the kitchen island to her high chair and is now resting comfortably on a triptophan high in her crib.
Ava thought it better to cook this year than eat. She is a pint sized Rachael Ray if there ever was one. I am personally pushing for restaurant ownership and culinary leadership in Vegas. Who wouldn't want their sweet innocent to be slinging hash at the Bellagio in a few years. For all my years slaving silently and passively raising these girls (ahem...) I deserve a free trip to Vegas and have my gal cook a meal for me one day.
We here at the estrogen packed side of the cul-de-sac wish you and yours a very full and thankful belly.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Never in a million would I have ever thought I'd be using the ole' blog to sell stuff. And I'm not, well not really. Ok, kind of sort of....
My local chapter of Families With Children From China has some glass ornaments that they purchased last year and did not ummmm...completely sell out. I said I would take on the little project of reducing inventory of the glamorous store front located on prime real estate in the fashionable arts district of my town, otherwise known as the brown box in the garage.
We are selling them at cost plus postage. They are glass, not plastic. They have the word family etched in the glass in both the Chinese character and English. They come in a pretty darn cute little box, suitable for upscale gift giving. Slap a red bow on it and you'll be ready with a darling hostess gift this holiday season. Or if you are like me and collect ornaments for your kids so they won't have to hang milk crates from the tree in several years perhaps you'd like a few to put away until she moves into that first apartment with the leaking faucets and mice running amok in the kitchen. I guarantee huge oooohhhh and awe factor should you show up with copious amounts of free ornaments at dear child's wedding shower in the year 2020. Aunt Betty's flower vase will hold no candle to your box of ornaments.
This money does go to a registered 501(c)3 and proceeds are donated to Chinese Children's charities. Should you be mildly interested, checks for $10 per ornament can be made directly to FCC Indiana. Email me and based on where you live I will ask for the shipping add on. (I might also ask for a few extra bucks since I want this for Christmas but feel free to ignore me.)
Go ahead, click the view profile button in the sidebar of the blog and then click "email me" when the next window appears. Tell me you'd like to order a few and we'll be instant friends. You'll be one step closer to completing your holiday shopping and all will be merry and bright.
Tomorrow it will be back to low pressure pictures of my kidlets baking pies and stuffing their little faces with turkey.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Birthday carnage, if you will.
"Let them eat cake." ~Marie Antoinette
"A lot of cake." ~Olivia Xi GeGe
"Yeah, I know when to say when."
And, no it does not concern me that I 've eaten so much red cake that I might be pooping red for days."
And on that note, Happy Birthday to Me.
Monday, November 13, 2006
But when Olivia turned one I started pining for that day 6 weeks ago at the park when I looked
into her huge brown eyes and silently begged her to stop time. I touched her perfect downy hair that naturally grows a little to the right and willed it to never grow into long girlie pigtails. I looked up to the sky and asked why her little size 4 foot must get bigger. Then again the twinkle in her eye and the way that she tips her head and smiles just a bit when you feed her will only get more endearing and she grows.
Why do mothers sometimes get like this? So sentimental and wishing for ridiculous jerks in time and space? Maybe the moon is full. Maybe deep down I sense she will be my last baby. She will be forever my baby.
In addition to the birthday, there is another anniversary to mark for my Olivia. It weighed heavily on my mind all day. It has been exactly one year since she left a birthfamily and found a caring orphanage to foster her most basic needs. One Year. That is a lot of change for one little 6lb. kid. Indeed, November 12, 2005 was a monumental day for Miss Olivia Xi GeGe. It was a day filled with changes that would knock the average well adjusted adult on their butts and running for the nearest therapist.
On to the celebration. Ava voted for a large friends and family event. As often happens in this benevolent dictatorship she was vetoed. We ordered take in Chinese and baked her a Red Velvet cake with cream cheese icing. It was dry and from a box. But her sister and I tried our best and well, red for love and red for China. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Scroll up for a few pictures of the little gal helping herself to a healthy dose of 1st birthday cake.
Happy birthday baby girl, here's to many more.
Friday, November 10, 2006
It's nice and warm here today and Mom took us to the park. Yeah.
Except now she is posing us like a bowl of fruit.
Let us at that slide.
Who needs freeze tag when I can run away from my mom and her relentless camera.
So, I decided to make my own fun and run laps around the playground.
Check out the Guangzhou special on my feet. Wahoo, I love it when I'm styling.
Friday, November 03, 2006
It is now November 2, 2007 and we still own 22 giant bars of candy. We gave away exactly 3. I have downed 5 leftovers in 2 days. Two for breakfast on November 1st. Two for snack today and I'm not sure about the last one...a sugar high and resulting memory loss is a conspicious thing. Reason number 628 I'm not leaving the house until May and Liv is 18 months old.
How did we only manage to ditch such a low low number of candy bars? We have at least 10 children in the neighborhood, not including the six pack next door. (Yes, six of them.) What has become of today's child? Is no one teaching the fine art of Halloween grabby hands anymore? Is everyone turning to granola? Here's the real clincher. I left a big bowl of 30 large candy bars on our front stoop on Halloween night unattended while I shopped my two kids around the neighborhood. The Muffin Man is in Las Vegas on business eating at Emeril's so I was left solo. Unattended people. The Jack o' Lanterns were lit, the front light glowing. Something is wrong with today's youth they not a) too nice or b) too stupid for words since I have 22 candy bars left! And so, I am left with an icebox full. Poor me. (Just so you learn something in this post, take note that BabyRuths are NOT better frozen like Snickers.)
After my 2 frozen candy bar snack today I decided to catch up with a little laundry. Nothing like 16,000 grams of sugar to get the hands folding.
Here is what I noticed at my house.
Do you notice anything strange? Do you see a trend? A color trend?
Most people do darks and lights. We do pinks and other. Forget the testosterone. Since I was left to contemplate laundry while riding the sugar wave I decided to just wash all the Muffin Man's underwear with Olivia's red jumper to make them pink.
Now my life as a candy eating stay at home mom will be much more simple since we don't need to sort anything...we will simply toss in a pink load.
All in a day's work. That is why I get the big bucks. Now excuse me, it's time for a Butterfinger.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Sunday, October 29, 2006
She knows this "fresh air" term because with her babyhood, we got a lot of fresh air. She knows Mommy gets wiggy if we don't get some fresh air every day. (I think I like the idea of homebodydom more than the reality of it all.) During Ava's baby days we were out clubbing it around town. She she thought sleep was for the weak and feeble minded. Sometimes we'd pack it up and party with the beautiful folks downtown. We considered getting a VIP lounge chair with an open bar of milk and animal crackers. Ava in her ever so gentile and subtle way let me know that we would not under any circumstances be staying at home baking cookies playing with the truckload of toys that had been lovingly purchased during her adoption wait.
And then came Liv. She is fine with a little fresh air. But she can just as easily breathe stale old banana cereal scented air as well. It really doesn't bother her. So, in attempts to buy her undying trust and love, I mean form a secure bond, we have been tethered to a 2 mile string which does not even reach the beltway. We can only go as far as a one quart ziploc bag of cheezy bootie or organic teddy snacks will take us. And that is not far. Yesterday she looked up at me, smiled and explained that she was simply doing her part to save oil for our nation and it's dubious future. Next week she will probably want to trade in the SUV for a VW bus. Peace dudes.
The big compromise each day between running like a greyhound chasing a furry bunny and staring at the walls until they do indeed turn a paler shade of green is "a little fresh air". This is Ava speak for let's blow this taco stand. It happens each day at approximately 4:15pm. She chooses a bike or a scooter and Olivia is dutifully bribed with scooby snacks to ride behind in a stroller. We walk until either we run out of baby snacks or Ava proclaims her legs to be too tired to bicycle any further.
I feel like I am just following along on the ride as I watch the back of Ava's head on the bike and the tip top of Olivia's in the stroller. Step after step. Mailbox after mailbox. It has occured to me these little bouts of walking "fresh air" are somewhat metaphoric for our life right now. Ava leads the way abounding with authority. She clamors for new changes and challenges. A simple stroll will never do for this kid. Make it interesting, raise the training wheels. Olivia toddles happily behind stopping to complain only if food is not plentiful and comfortable sleep is not within a 2 minutes of her happy crib sanctuary. She tolerates the "fresh stuff" but only under the canopy of her stroller turning her head occasionally to make sure I am still there.
Me? I am just using every shred of energy to keep up on the walks and taking a big gulp of fresh air in between avoiding the cracks in the sidewalk.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Here's the deal..."All I know is that yes, she gets mighty pissed when she gets bonked on the head with a toy causing her to scrape her chin on the coffee table. Does that count for anything?"
Oh hell, I watch this kid for a living and I honestly didn't know the answer to some of these questions. I felt a little like the innocent guy who gets blamed for the murder early on in the Law and Order episode. "Don't look at me, I'm just her mother. I only watch this kid about 16 hours a day. What do I know? Is anyone going to make dinner, I'm starved. I have no clean underwear. Who is bringing snacks to pre-school this week? Can someone PLEASE bathe that old dog?" I am tragically distracted and paying no attention to anything unless it screams at me or it stinks so bad I have to bust a move.
In the end, she qualifies for no therapy, only a note in the file. A note to call us at 15 months for a speech re-evaluation. It turns out she is slightly speech delayed. But, she got so many points for walking that she isn't delayed enough to qualify for state intervention. (Good thing, interventions should be saved for 16 year olds.) She likes to say Ba and and occasional gullah, gullah. Never a Ma. Oh no, despite my annoying and persistent attempts for a MaMa....nothing.
She celebrated the finality of her 1st Steps visit by walking over to the Muffin Man and pulling a pant leg to be picked up. She popped his hooded sweatshirt string into her mouth and said Da, Da.
This is my reward for changing 3 poopy diapers a day. Da, Da. God love Ava for rushing to my emotional defense and shouting Ma Ma into Liv's face. Man, I love that kid sometimes. But alas, nothing. Only another Da Da.
And Rodney thought HE got no respect.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Stool Samples: check
Physical Exam: check
Ears: fluidy but the over dose of antibiotics should knock it out
Growth Pattern Evalution: normal
State First Steps Program: normal enough not to qualify for therapy; also thoroughly impressed with walking skills dancing pony show...duly noted.
Someone has tossed us a ray of sunshine. We are mindfully thankful, as we know not everyone can rest this easy with the gift of health for their new child. Truly...thank you!
Now, what is not all rosy with this child.
Shopping. She doesn't understand the finer points yet. Obviously this child has many lessons to learn from the Master.
I'm not talking about "the let's take an easy stroll over to the Gymboree to see what's on the clearance rack"shopping.
No sir, I'm talking about the kind where we hunt and gather at the dreaded grocery store. Going on a walk to pick nuts and berries would be easier. I'm about ready to get the little one her own cart give her 20 bucks and say, "See you in an hour, babe. Don't spend it all in one place." Might as well since no one on this planet has invented a grocery cart belt that will contain my little 20lb. Olivia. She could be an direct descendent of Harry Houdini. She can escape from anything. The mini baby bathtub, the over priced five point harnessed high chair, the car seat and anything the lame grocery store has to offer to contain your child safely can be ditched quicker than her sister can name that 6 note tune. Snacks will divert her attention for about 60 seconds. Cushioning her with a blanket to cover the strap works for 90 seconds. Meanwhile we are still aimlessly tossing stuff into the cart on aisle 2 with 12 more to go. And what does dear darling 1st born daughter with whom I am forever karmically bound do in this situation? She sniffs weakness in the benevolent dictator and seizes the moment to divide and conquer. She is a little turncoat if I ever saw one. The prize? Fruity Cheerios if you must know. Her Kashi days are offically over if I can't bribe someone to watch Liv while I grocery shop.
We get home, I'm mentally and emotionally spent. Ava has fruity cheerios, Olivia has her health and we have nothing for dinner even though I spent $239.00.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Hello, my name is Liv and my mother never combs my hair. I have 10,000 hand-me down hair bows and yet...nothing. Not one paste on pink frilly accessory. My shirt has soy barf on it. It stinks. But my mom is super tired of laundry so we are learning to live with it and she decided to cook bacon in the house to cover the smell since going to the mall for a Yankee Candle is out of the question. I would rather not sit strapped into anything.
Want to see my sister at 11 months old?
She wore red velvet and dare I say it...hair bows. Yes, she had one for each day of the week. I plan to discuss this at the Thanksgiving Dinner table in the year 2020. I hear that kid had bling. Where's mine? Huh, I want to know.
Deep down in my heart I believe hair bows are for poodles.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
It has been quite a lot of at home time, much more than I am used to. This is mostly because it is a butt load of work to get two kids in the Durango to head off to a fun filled hour of roaming the aisles at the grocery store where the 10 month old is climbing out of the cart every second because she-just-will-not-sit-in-the cart-seat and the 4 year old is either discussing why people choose to be buried in the ground and why can't we see angels and why can't WE have Fruity Cheerios when EVERY other preschooler this side of the Mississippi gets Fruity Cheerios, they are healthy you know...and what would happen if Olivia ate one of the dust bunnies in the playroom, would she barf green? Our healthy dose of at home time is also partly due to the fact that 10 month old Olivia is happy and engaged, bright-eyed and even sometimes bushy tailed at home. When we are out too much, she pops a thumb in her mouth looks at her feet and seems to emotionally fade a bit. So, we stay close to the barracks. Really close, as in if I don't go to the post office or the bank for even a 30 minute ride in the 'burbs to see the land of the living...I tend to need pinch so I don't find myself banging my head on the kitchen floor.
Oh, I know this is the first leg of the "adoption adjustment" period. I have lots of experience adoptive parent friends who say "The first 6 months suck, they really do. Just buck up feed and diaper the kid and 6 months later before you know it, all will be fine."
Here's the thing, some moments are hard but I wouldn't say the first first month has sucked. How is that for setting the bar high? Some moments are quite frankly brutal. Some moments are so cute and exciting you are overly emotional crying because your (yes, that is YOUR) kids are the damnest cutest kids in the world and you are so grateful to be a part of whatever cutie patootie thing they are doing. Then later that same night you haul off and get close to verbally assulting your child because she and her friend hid one ballet shoe and you have absolutely no time or patience for hunting for a ballet shoe at 9pm. Then you go to bed feeling like a really crappy parent, because good parents are more patient than that. But wait, the 10 month old giggled wildly while her sister tickled her armpits only 2 hours ago, so you can't be the MOST horrible parent in the world.
So what is the message here at one month home after completing adoption number two? I guess I want to say it is a roller coaster. It's not the same roller coaster I rode for 12 months reading the Rumor Queen and obsessing over adoption videos set to Iz's version of Over The Rainbow. No, I've finally stepped off that coaster but I can't seem to leave the park. I think that is part of the message, part of the lesson...just because you achieve something big in your life doesn't mean you are done. You still need to get up and walk around the park. I'm still here, trying to figure our whether I should hop on the River Rapids ride or climb Everest. Which one will be more settling to my stomach? I honestly don't know. I might be wandering the park for little while longer. I guess this is what hapens when you buy the "ticket is good for life" you know.
Someone pass the cotton candy.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
In most internationally adopted kid's life there comes that doomed day when she must innocently follow her mother or father off to the local international adoption clinic for dum dum dum...a quick prod and general testing.
Yes, this sounds par for the course in any 10 month old's life right?
This day was yesterday for us. She pretty much set the course for telling the infectious disease Dr. what she thought about the whole deal by pooping twice while in the room. He barely winced at the aroma giving him extra bonus points which he needed since he has got to be about as old as some of my older underwear. She checked out fine and he proclaimed her a "keeper". I'm not kidding he said she should be a keeper, ugh ok. Would he ever tell any proud parent to send her back to China in a box? He explained her ears and sinuses looked gross and prescribed yoghurt to protect her stomach since yet another round of anti-biotics are necessary to stop the incessant goo that runs from her nose.
Then he sent us promptly off to the hospital next door for blood work. I've sort of had myself worked into a lather about this stick and run episode for weeks now. This is probably since I still hear Ava's wailing in my sleep from when she presented a non-bleeder elbow four years ago. The phelobotimist (is that a great title or what?) took one little peek at her wiggly stringy arm and called up to pediatric nursing. They came down and asked how old? I said, "ten months". They said, no way we like the newborns. So, Olivia and I followed up with "who is going to get the blood from this kid"? The overly pregnant phlebotimist called an emergency room nurse from next door who agreed to take a shuttle from next door to attempt the feat.
I called the Muffin Man at home while hyperventialing into a paper bag asking him to pick Ava up from preschool since we were going to be a while.
30 minutes later the emergency room nurse, who should be annointed, got 6 vials of Livi blood from a whrithing and heaving infant. She was sweet enough to ask if I was coping alright since I was crying black mascara all over my daughter's pink outfit. Thank goodness it's washable.
We consoled ourselves with Wendy's fries on the way home. Yes, Olivia is comforted by french fries. We are indeed soulmates.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
About the Coke Zero
When my mom was here helping me drag my ass off the floor for that first week home from China that shall forever been known in history as "the brutal life sucking force that was not with me", she purchased some caffeine free diet coke. It's been sitting innocently in the garage ever since. In my whizz bang state of mind that seems to follow me from minute to minute these days I accidently forgot that ALL diet soda drinks are not caffeine free. Fine, I admit it I had two carmel colored beauties yesterday afternoon. Yes, I now 2 seems like a lot but shit, this mama gig to two sometimes kicks me in the butt and a 3pm Coke Zero is like nectar from the Gods. Have you had this Coke Zero? It is not your average Diet Coke junk...it is lovely.
Since there is 1/2 a case of caffeine free coke outside I sort of thought in my mind that this yummy coke free stuff was also caffeine free, otherwise known in my house as drink it until you puke without remorse. Apparently not. I was flying high at 1am. The body was exhausted, mind racing in the Indy 500, apparently that stuff just sends me through the roof. What a strange and horrible feeling. I figured out the whole caffeine business causing sleeplessness at approximately 12:37am.
So, then I started worrying about my exhaustion and patience level with the kids at about 1:15am. It is now 3:30pm the next day and I'm done. Ava is avoiding me like the plague and poor little Olivia is staring me down like a one-eyed wonder. Thank good someone in China thought to send me a napper because that is the only reason I might make it to 8pm. Oh yes, a personal and heartfelt thanks to the gang at Noggin too for making preschool television so great that my 4 year old will NOT step away without adult remote control intervention.
So how does one come down from a Coke Zero high that was still running at noon today? Chamomille tea? Oh forget it, come tonight I'm breaking into the chardonnay and following the kids to bed at 8.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Last night the Muffin Man and I settled down to ride the couch and watch the Discovery Channel's special series on China, revealing it's past and possible future. It was well done, there is no doubt about that. It was surreal seeing some of the sights displayed in a large budget documentary when you were just there 3 weeks ago taking your very low budget film. Their pictures of Tiannamen Square did not have the immense green scaffolding or wholly innocent shots of some lady's rear end taken by a well intentioned four year old. The Forbidden City seemed well, more forbidden and mysterious when shot by the experts at the Discovery Channel. They showed no three year old boy peeing on the ground in his split pants.
When the section about making rice in the far Souther regions of China started I sat in awe. The narrarator explained that these people had been farming this same rice field for over 20 generations. "It was in their blood, their destiny their ancestry", he explained." I couldn't help but to think of my little girl in the dirty soccer uniform sleeping upstairs. She plays for team England of all things. Then I was stopped in my mental tracks as I saw my little far Southern China girl sleeping in her Children's Place jammie set with blue stars. Was rice farming her destiny? Or is club soccer with juice boxes and fruit snacks their destiny? What is destiny?
I could hardly sit still as the program went on to talk at length about China's population control and the effect that the one child policy has had on China's first generation of household's with single children. There is a generation of people in China who feel the weight of their parent's hopes and dreams resting on their small shoulders. There is pressure to succeed, pressure to make them proud. An Olypmic hopeful was featured. She is 12 and does not live at home with her family. She gets scolded for slipping off the balance beam in competition. I'm naive , I know but I will not look at the 2008 Olympics the same. I will not cheer for the Chinese gymnasts to win, I will cheer for them to find childhood.
Off I go to the next soccer game. I suppose I will cheer for my girl regardless of whether she kicks the ball in the right direction or not. I will have a juice box ready for her at the end of the 32 minutes. Destiny is a many complicated thing.
Friday, September 29, 2006
We are busy gals.
Cookies for the preschool fundraiser are happening. We had to have a long discussion about NOT licking the icing knife while icing the cookies especially when the good Luthern folks will be there scarfing down sugary morsels tonight. Don't call the board of health, I'm already on their list due to Olivia's salmonella and I don't need yet another 20 minute lecture from the state nurse about proper hygiene and hand washing. While I was listening to this well meaning nurse I was chasing my 10 month old around on the floor while she popped dust bunnies in her mouth lying on the hard wood as if they were cheerios. And, no damnit she did not get the salmonella from OUR dirt, it was someone else's dirt perhaps along a beautiful Southern Chinese coastal region. The green runny nose is due to our dirt for the record.
We are also spending quite a bit of time perfecting the heave and roll. This is a tai chi move perfected by Chinese sisters the yesteryear bygones. My girls are channeling this move from their ancestors. It is especially helpful when younger sister is getting dangerously close to older and stronger sister's beloved toy. Younger sister gets close...aiyi...heave and roll. Presto, toy is older sister's yet again. Done enough times it will also insure that younger sister's rib cage never grows beyond the desirable 18 inches in diameter. This is encouraged by the honorable parents so that younger sister can always stay cute in her 6-9 month old clothing.
So, as you can see we are very busy. So busy in fact that hoisting 2 children in the SUV for trip to the supermarket usually proves much too exhausting for honorable mother. Now the dark side of this...I am out of coffee creamer and have resorted to baby formula mixed with a little Splenda to do the trick. This is bad right? This is beyond gross right? I swear if you've been up at least 2 times in middle of the night and have't showered in 2 days your standards will be lowered and baby formula substituting as coffee creamer isn't all that bad.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Over the next few posts I will see if I can do a bit of a trip recap. It does offer different perspective to be home from China a few weeks and think back on the mayhem that involves taking a 4 1/2 year old, 2 parents, and 1 grandparent from the Midwest to Newark to Beijing. Take a gander around Beijing for a few days and then fly everyone down to Guangzhou for 12 days. Oh yes, and don't forget about picking up the 9 month old along the way. (This is where the packing gets dicey.) Then take a 3 hour flight from Guangzhou to Beijing, layover for 5 hours and then fly to Newark. Layover 2 hours, wait on the crowed runway for and hour before another 2 hour flight home to where corn grows and people bar-b-que chickens and steaks on their backyard grills. (Not one snake swimming in a tank immediately before becoming dinner here baby!)
There are about 30,000 China adoption packing lists on the internet nowadays. Go download 15 of them and entertain yourself immediately after referral. Then use your common sense. Don't bring a coffee maker, I know I know some of you are little barristers in the making but at the 5 star hotels you can indeed get a cup of joe. Cappiccino at the WS is to die for. You can also leave the flares, large garbage bags, and duct tape at home. Yes, it is the real truth...I've been to China twice and never needed a roll of duct tape. I have no idea why it shows up on over 75% of packing lists.
Here is what you should bring.
Very few clothes. Launder there people. It is a royal pain in the ass to have too many clothes. I swear when you get there, are woozy from the caterpillar fungus, and sleep deprived you won't give a rats ass that you are wearing the same pair of birkenstocks for the 12th day in a row. Tyra Banks does not do China and there is no cat walk. Even our guides were super casual this time.
Pack tons of ziplocs. Pack all your stuff in them and label label label. Then toss in the black sharpie marker to the suitcase. Ziploc your stuff you will need for the first leg of the trip (perhaps Beijing or Hong Kong) and pack that stuff on the top of the suitcase! That way you will not be messing up the WHOLE suitcase early in the trip. Pack the baby's stuff in separate ziplocs at the bottom of the suitcase, won't need that until you meet him or her and packing neatly will be a lost cause by then anyway. When you get to China don't discard the ziplocs. Keep them in the hotel rooms and use them as diaper baggies, dirty clothes containers, extra gift storage, wet swimsuit storage etc... there are 1000s of uses.
If you are traveling with a small child other than the one you are adopting make 2 bags full of fun stuff to do! One is for getting Bubba to China and one is for getting Bubba home. Don't let Bubba get into the second bag until you are leaving Guangzhou. (Hide it in the suitcase.) That way she will have a NEW set of coloring books, markers, toys etc... for the long trip home. This tip saved our weary asses, people. Man, was she jazzed to learn she had NEW crayons and NEW coloring books for the trip home.
Don't take the fabulous new gymboree clothes to China. I know you want to. I know some of you think you NEED to. But don't, save it for her coming home. Here is why. Chances are it might not all fit anyway and since it is expensive Gymboree you won't want to ditch it or donate it. The laundry ladies might even lose it. Ava is still missing some socks and some pjs. If you see a size 4T hot pink Carters jammie set on the streets of Guangzhou near the Lucky Laundry tell Jessie I want it sent home pronto! Here is the other thing, once you meet your baby and see China you will be overcome with emotion and want to do something for these fabulous but poor people who live and work in orphanages. I know it was purely ease my western guilt but I asked our guide to donate all of Olivia's in China clothes and left over diapers and meds to the next orphanage she visited. She happily took everything and told me she would be visiting a Guangzhou orphange next Tuesday. She had almost ourgrown several items anyway, and I knew our friends with great taste would make sure Olivia got a new outfit or two when we reached Western soil.
Don't skimp on the meds for you or the baby. Bring it all. Just walk into your local CVS and open your wallet and have the clerks toss one of everything into that red cart. Don't need a sleep aide? Ha on you, buy it anyway. All normal bodily functions and the probability of them working properly in China are off bets on this trip. Take advil, take cold meds, take cough meds, immodium, stool softeners, buy one of every baby med that is colorfully displayed. Also, buy more than 1 baby tylenol, if your baby needs it for 12 days one little bottle ain't gonna cut it. Yes, you can get most of these things in China but who the hell wants to have to navigate a western pharmacy run at 3 am when you have a screaming infant and a screaming husband? Not me, sister. I took the pharmacy...left the baby toys and took the pharmacy. And, I'd do it again.
I'd do the whole trip again. Man, I love this adoption travel shit.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Olivia is a dream. She is the fairy tale child. I was not expecting or prepared for the fairly tale. I have a friend who has two Chinese children and she speaks often of the emotional fairy tale adoption that was her first child. No one is more surprised than I am to get the fairy tale the second time around! I am embarassed to admit that I was too uptight and scared as a first time parent to enjoy the ups and downs of babyhood with Ava. I want Olivia to stay 10 months old with every fiber of my being. (I am the mother who has professed to being a kid mom, not a baby mom.) I wanted Ava to be three years old at this stage, I pined for preschool. It is me...I'm flawed. Ava wanted to move contantly as a baby and be out of the house, so we did. We went somewhere everyday, I am not exaggerating. We had completed Kindermusik, the Children's Museum classes and Gymboree by the time she was 15 months old. She hated the house, this is also hard to say since it was in part a bit of a rejection of all that we had to offer. Why did she cry in the house? And love the mall? Olivia is different, she is alive in that playroom. Ava is even now alive in that playroom, she plays with Olivia non-stop with toys she hasn't looked at for 2 years. Olivia is the catalyst for a new type of trust and love in our family. I am dumbfounded, humbled and in awe that China would let us take her. Sometimes looking at her huge wise old eyes makes me tear up. Everything this kid does is golden in my jaded eyes. Every grin, every mimic, every nod of the head makes me swoon with mommy love.
I was unprepared...am unprepared for loving two equally...differently but equally. What was I thinking? I would adopt clones? No, but I just wasn't prepared for the emotional rollercoaster of two darling girls, two different and wise as sage children.
I've been thinking about how the next few posts will shake out. Perhaps a trip recap? Of course there is a short packing discussion for adoptive families since no one else in their right mind would be interested in ziplocs. Should I share the Olivia Day video? I have several pictures of the girls that I will post soon of course, and maybe even my follies with the pediatrician who called yesterday to tell me that the board of health will be calling us as the identify the type of Salmonella Olivia has and how we should treat it. Oh, more diaper joy to share with the state, fabulous. Right now they are busy with spinach E coli so we can talk to them next week. (I knew that the diaper situation wasn't normal, damnit.)
Who cares about all the details....I am in love with two ladybugs. May they both sleep peacefully through the night.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Then came Olivia. Let me preface this by saying she has got to be the sweetest human being known to man. She might even qualify as the "super human easy baby" award winner for 2006. I'm actively looking for a place to nominate her. I feel so guilty for trying so hard to force her on to our schedule. Whatever that means. I don't even really know what schedule I would choose if I could. Yesterday in a moment of active desperation and trying to gain control over a household run by a 10 month old, I dug out a pink post-it note and jotted down a sample daily schedule. It includes the 4 bottles, 3 meals, playtime, and 2 naps. I have it stuck to my calendar.
This is my half assed attempt at a baby, household and world peace. Miss Olivia blew a big fat rasberry when I showed it to her. She is apparently a fly by the seat of her pants girl. She likes to sleep late and eat often. No schedule required since Mommy and Ava look at her all day trying to read signs of what she needs or wants.
So it is onward and upwards for us. Today she slept until 9am after sleeping through the night, how can I even utter one word of whine with that? (Did I not say perfect kid?) Schedule smedule...maybe we will just continue to wonder what our next hour will be like for the next several weeks. So what if I can't seem to get out of the house for more than 30 minutes at a time since she either gets hungry or tired or poops all over the place anytime I attempt to plan to set foot more than 30 paces away from the playroom. Perhaps tomorrow I will pull out the big guns, the lime green post-it notes and rethink the schedule.
Some people have asked me recently about ziplocs. I'm letting go of the schedule thing and I will talk about ziplocs and packing soon. For those of you who haven't taken time away from your precious world to hang out here at twoladybugs I was somewhat crazed about ziplocs before leaving for China last month. Ziploc folks recently wrote me a letter thanking me for the 2 gallon sized endorsement. I'm expecting kickbacks, I wrote back. Anyway, yes ziplocs are the bomb and ironically they hold "the bomb" too, if you are having to deal with baby bombs if you get my smelly drift. Heee.
More to come on my bouts with mental retardation and small ingenious breakthroughs where China packing is concerned.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Monday, September 18, 2006
We have been home a week and these are the only photos I have taken. Shame on us, I know. They are somewhat half assed and do not show how absolutely over the top cute my Olivia is. I suppose they are representative of our life this past week though. We have been militantly focused on Olivia's need to eat. The kid is a machine. 4 bottles and 2 meals a day, but wait make that 3 meals a day since today she pitched a big ole' stink when she woke from a nap only 1 hour after being fed. I thought for sure teething had set in or Damian's child had awoken from a 3 week slumber. Turns out the kid only wanted some pureed bananas and a cheese cracker. Go figure.
I think there is a lot you forget when you are a second time parent. This perhaps falls under the same category as when women give birth and they forget about the excrutiating pain so soon that after only a few months they are getting happy with hubby and presto another birth in under two years. The same goes for how much you forget about how much time babies take. They are like little time sucking hogs pulling at your pant leg, before you know it it's 3pm and you are still in your jammies with an unmade bed following a long trail of primary colored toys from the bedroom to the living room...she's in her third outfit due to one poopy incident and one barfing incident mind you, but nothing is getting done. Except that you notice that you saw her toothless little grin 3 more times than you did yesterday. So you think ok, dust bunnies will wait, we will just buy more bottles rather than cleaning the old ones, and the bill collectors will surely understand. Who the hell cares, she is smiling!
Ahhh, this is life with a 10 month old. My mission shall be to capture this smiley phenomenon complete with big sister proudly grinning as soon as a load of laundry moves from one pile to another and both girls appear to be in a somewhat agreeable mood.