Saturday, February 24, 2007


I was struck with open jaw when I first saw pictures of my daughter's orphanage in China. There were 45 metal cribs all lined up with wooden boards that formed the bottoms. Each child was given a white was cloth as their "lovey" or "woobie" as we call it in our house to use as a comfort object. But not one crib had a blanket or mattress to lay on.

This orphanage is situated in the far south of China and it is brutally hot in the summer months. So, yes, I do understand why heavy blankets would not be appropriate. I also know that many Chinese believe that it is best for everyone's health to sleep on a hard surface. If you have ever had the privilege of sleeping in a hotel in China you know what I am talking about. In addition, the nannies have so much to do. Can you even imagine the thought of changing 45 children's diapers, feeding them 4 bottles a day each, lifting them in and out of the cribs to play for a short while on the floor? Overwhelming. How could they add soft comfort objects to the laundry if not absolutely necessary?

But my Western values still crept up a bit when I saw my daughter in a crib with metal and wood only. I bristled at the thought for 7 weeks before I could travel to China and give her a soft pink blanket with satin edging and a pastel flower embroidered in the corner.

My babe loves that pink blanket. She drags it around the house slung over her shoulder with a thumb popped in her mouth. She is Linus. I call the blanket Pink. I usually just call her Pink.

So, when the opportunity landed in my lap to think globally but act locally, I jumped. A woman at Ava's preschool asked me if I would sew a few blankets for Project Linus. They give me the material and all I have to do is sew up some soft warm blankies for children here in my town who might not have their own blanket to love and use for comfort. I think they focus on children who are sick or have found themselves in a circumstance where their parents or guardians cannot afford to give them a blanket of their own to keep forever.

If you like to sew or have a little free time look up your local chapter of Project Linus. I bet they would love a little help. Its a great way to act in a small way but have an impact on a child's life.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Study Hard Kids

My children will simply have to study hard and get scholarships...end of story. We are about to experience a cash cow windfall. (I am in complete denial that this is of course not new money we will be receiving this week, it is only tax credit money for less than 1/2 of what we spent on ye ole' most recent adoption. See photo of ye ole' most recent adoption below, melt your heart cute, yes?

The muffin man and I in our infinite wisdom have decided that instead of responsibly feeding two little kids' 529 plans we would instead throw caution to the wind, bet the trifecta and hope the little geniuses don't academically burn out by 3rd grade and obtain some money from Harvard. Seems like a great gamble since no one is even riding the bus to Kindergarten yet. With Ava, I 'm still hedging my bets the kid can squeeze some cash from the State U at the very least. She is a certifiable future MENSA member. Unfortunately she most often chooses to use her powers for evil and cutting the hair off barbie dolls. It is simply a channeling of energy issue...I have years to tame the beast and I am not worried.

Now the little one? Hmmm...the votes still out. We are furiously working on the fact that American Sign Language does indeed include more than one sign and all the the world's problems can't be solved with the more sign. But she is so damn cute she will be able to use her feminine wiles to charm the heck out of some admissions clerk, I am sure of it.

It is crass to speak of monetary indulgences in the same breath as your loving children but as luck would have it when you adopt...the big pink elephant in the room is often greenbacks.

Like it or not.

So, with the smell of previously spent money in the air I present shiny glory and her sidekick princess fingerprint.

Aren't they shiny? Aren't they pretty? Isn't Momma a complete fool for purchasing stainless steel with 2 small children running amok?

Don't answer that. Secretly, you know you'd be caught up in the show room with all that shiny"ness" too. The back corner of Best Buy is big kid toy heaven, and we had our $.50 worth of candy money in our pockets. For the record they show every last finger print. I have already conditioned and cleaned the fronts of these two appliances 4 times in the last 24 hours. Magnets do not stick, and therefore my kitchen will be preschool artless. It is probably therapy in the making.

So, enough about kitchen appliances want to see another reason why my children better start practicing calculus?

Draperies. Now before you get all "My God woman why don't you just fly off to Vegas and leave the kids with Brittney" on me they are semi-homemade. Yes, that is my defense statement, "They are semi-homemade." Double lined panels from Bed Bath and Beyond and then I sewed the accent material on top with matching fun fringe. It was 8 hours of pure stress as I sewed each panel and held my breath as I hoped the hem line would gracefully skim the floor and window seat. The Muffin Man toiled away for hours with a beer in one hand and a drill in the other hanging drapery rods, now that is good family fun. I was hoping for that Architectural Digest look. But then I ran out of trim on the last panel and of course Joann's has no more. Can you say special order with no 60% discount? I'm sure the man at the cutting table shorted me 1 yard of trim. I'm sure my 8th grade mathematical abilities have had no impact whatsoever on this project.

(Sorry about the bad lighting, I'm in an official snit over the fact that my over priced Minolta will not auto adjust for natural lighting. )

The rest of the tax credit, where art thou going? Oh, yeah precious playroom home equity loan. Sometimes being a grownup stinks and sometimes is doesn't. Like when you are happily caressing 6 feet of studly stainless steel.

I leave you with a picture of the hairdresser to Barbie and the Stars. May she never be a beauty school dropout. May her 529 carry her all the way to the book store at the State U, and beyond.

Editing Note: In proofreading it was discovered that this child had a piggy bank on her pjs. God, I love irony.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Oooh, I couldn't resist this material. I had sort of put myself on a no more visits to the fabric store already until inventory was sold but as luck would have it I am not the best at will power. (The ladies at my favorite fabric store are starting to shout Norm! when I roll in with my two little helpers.) Embarassing, I tell you.

It is good luck for Chinese New Year. Since I refuse to clean anything for spring, I think I will settle on something new. Mommy and Me matching. I know, I know....Mommy and Me is goofy but I simply could not resist this lovely bright red silk with the good luck symbols.

I made two sets and maybe someone will want the other set at the Chinese New Year marketplace event we are attending this weekend or over there at Pink Evita.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

15 Months

Here is Ava at 15 months old walking. Olivia is 15 months old popping her beloved thumb in her mouth giving me the coy stare. This is the I just walked on the sofa look.

Fifteen months was a historical milestone in our house. It is still the fodder for backyard bar-b-que stories over Mikearitas and bratwurst for any unsuspecting poor neighbor who gets pulled into the wrong side of the fence with visions of potato salad and deviled eggs. They might have to sit through an excruciating 20 minute tale of "my child walked at 15 months." And here are the 20,000 snapshots to prove it, want to see the video?
Don't you just love the Frankenstein walk? The Muffin Man and I were giddily whooping it up screeching like scared little hamsters as she stumbled through those adorable first steps. We are lucky the fire dept. wasn't called.

This week Olivia turned 15 months old. And since she has been walking since 10 1/2 months old there was no fanfare. No major milestone. Just a day where we started to get snowed in. Incidentally it is two days later now and we are still buried under about a foot of snow.

Although, in Olivia's defense she has started using her American Sign Language signs more this week. She signs for more. She signs for food. If we are lucky and use our imagination she even signs for a drink of milk. Usually she signs more frantically until "I tell her 8 times no, Liv that is more...more of what? What do you need baby? " Then we might get something that looks a bit less like more and a little more like eat. Note to self: Watch baby sign video with both children again this week. All of this may not sound like the stuff that warrants an ABC News Special report but for us it is pretty darn big stuff. The signing is allowing her a voice. A sort of quiet voice but a voice nonetheless. I am betting every proverbial last dollar on this sign language stuff since Liv seems not to be all that interested in mimicking our words.

In other 15 month news what she lacks in verbal Olympics she is making up for in real Olympics. The kid will soon be signed up for 2008 Beijing. She is swinging from kitchen chandeliers and upping and downing stairs like her 5 year old sister. She laughs at my panic voice as I chastise her for climbing in the dishwasher and dryer. She stands on every sofa arm and ottomans are now merely vehicles to be moved around the house to allow her access to higher and more dangerous places to bungee jump. Her favorite toy is the bathroom stool, which she carries around to try to open doors..that are locked.

I will leave you with a lesson in ottoman surfing 101.
1. Move bathroom stool into playroom
2. Climb bathroom stool to get onto ottoman.
3. Hop on and start giggling, do a little dance on top of ottoman.
4. Wait for Mom to scream "Sit Down, Olivia Xi." 5. Look at sister for giggle partner.
6. Sit down since Mom's blood vessel above right eye is starting to turn blue and bulge.
7. Refuse to get off ottoman and start the less dangerous surfing session.
Que up Hawaii Five-0 music.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

No, they are real dinosaurs

What is up with everyone and their mother needing to know if my little ladies are REAL freaking sisters? Yes, I know this has been thought and over thought and published and over published by adoptive parents and psychologists alike. But I am officially over it. Maybe I am hormonal but seriously everywhere we go someone needs to comment about their biological makeup. I don't see anyone making comments when a red headed child strolls up to the counter while is brunette sister rips down the bubble gum display.

My new response will not be polite and with a sweet smile. No more large bulging eyes silently begging the cashier not to say anything else when I simply say, "Yes, they are real sisters." for the third time while she ever so slowly rings my diaper wipes.

Today it wasn't just are they REAL sisters it had to be expounded upon to include how lucky I was to actually get children with the same biological parents since she had heard that was not possible in Korea. Huh? (She thought they were REAL sisters when I quietly told her Yes, they were real sisters.) Obviously she wins the award today for being the most brightly colored jelly bean in the jar. Paste a blue ribbon on her forehead.

Ava just rolls her eyes now. It's becoming classic.

Here is our new story. They are not real sisters, they are in fact real dinosaurs though, resurrected from a most holy and freezing cold tomb in the North of China. They were thawed in a superior cryogenic process and given cute little matching Asian looking faces. But underneath their DNA matches and they are truly little triceratops. Alert the media. Call Oprah. And let's be done with it.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Thinking Non-White

I am a white woman. Very white. I grew up mostly in the suburbs of middle class America, mostly on the east coast, and had mostly white friends. My parents taught me to be aware of judging others, they taught me not to hate. For that I am grateful. I would never presume to tell anyone I am completely without racial and socio-economic prejudices because I believe it is truly the extraordinary human being who does not have some prejudices no matter how small.

Now I am a white woman still in the suburbs...and I have children of color. I am trying my best to raise them around people of color and it isn't always easy. I believe racism is nurtured not nature. I hope that by exposing my children to people of different beliefs and cultures somehow when they experience "different" they will embrace it and not run scared.

This morning I saw Joe Biden, a senator from Delaware apologize to Barak Obama for comments he made about Barak Obama being the first man of color in the presidential run to be good looking, clean, and articulate.

I know this comment. I know it because my daughters sometimes hear comments like this. They are compliments, but they are steeped in racial prejudice and ignorance. Obviously Barak Obama is not the first African American politician who is or was extremely articulate. Regardless of what your opinions are about people like Jesse Jackson and Carol Mosely Brown, I don't know how you could argue that they aren't or weren't charismatic and articulate.

My daughter sometimes hear from educators that she is "so smart". (Which of course she is.) Then she might hear a small off handed comment about Chinese adoption and that's the way to go if a parent is interested in a smart child. It makes my stomach flip every time.

When we watched the Indianapolis Colts win the AFC Championship almost two weeks ago we watched the coach Tony Dungy field numerous questions and comments about he and Lovey Smith would be the first two African American coaches for face off during a Super Bowl. I was appalled. Both men had just successfully taken their teams to the Super Bowl and all the media could capture was that they were both black.

As I watched the Joe Biden story this morning I decided he would not be getting my vote. I know his comment was probably not spoken in malicious intent. But he showed me he is lazy in his chosen word. He is not in tune with with non-white America.

I don't like to think of myself as the type of parent that is overly sensitive about each and every comment I hear from well intentioned but perhaps not well educated people on the topic of my children. And yet, in some sense maybe it is good not to let every phrase or question slide by while defending the masses justifying with well intentioned ignorance.