Monday, December 6, 2010

Yes Lola, there is a "Santa."

I knew sooner or later the question would surface. She is five and profoundly curious, I just was not ready for it... "Mom, some of the kids are saying there's no Santa. He's made up like the Tooth Fairy and parents buy the gifts." She wasn't looking at me as she wondered, she continued her scribbles at the dining room table.

Oh crap! Think fast! It is a dilemma. Are we dishonest to tell our children these myths? Are we harming them, creating false hopes? We know the time is so fleeting, they are so little for only so long. The days of footie pajamas and story times and selfless snuggling will end, replaced by self consciousness and peer pressures and children who are growing up.

"Well, what do you think?" I thought it best to ask her, before I added my two cents, hoping for a bit more time to think. "I'd like to think he's real" she said. "Me too, he's real like the feeling you get when it snows for the first time, real the way cookies smell baking, real in the way you hug someone and it makes them happy and it makes you feel happy."

I'm glad she's made her own choice to believe a little while longer. I still believe, don't you?

Friday, October 22, 2010

I See Colors.

I had just read a story to Lola. We're trying to have her in bed by 8-ish lately. She seems to be more agreeable in the morning. Rocket science for parents!

We usually then have this great in depth conversation, our best at her bedtime. It's her way of stalling the inevitable. "Mom, I hate Cameron, he pulls my hair and pokes me on the bus." I asked who Cameron was and told her boys can be a bit silly like that. I told her to give him the most maniacal look she could muster and then tell him to stop or she would eat him for breakfast. She laughed. "Let's not use the word *hate* OK? That's a really strong word to use."

"When I say the word HATE I see the color BLACK. When I hear or say the word SHIT, I see the color RED." Her family rule for Sean and me, is to not have us use the word shit around her. She rules with an iron fist that kid! "Lola, that's what I mean, those are really strong words and your mind and your body are reacting to them by seeing colors in your mind!"

She excitedly propped up on one elbow, the bathroom light across the hall nudging into our private conversation, she squinted, "Mom! You get me, you really get me!!!!"

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's been a while, but I'm back.

Lola's rules for driving.

1. Never wear an eyepatch while driving.

2. Never wear a blindfold while driving to your cousins.

3. Never, and I mean NEVER eat while driving, especially a burrito!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Walmarted Again :(

Little old Greenfield is fighting the Big Box war! A Connecticut developer is (hoping/praying/scheming/plotting/eating our young) planning to build a 135,000 square foot discount store along the French King Highway. Oh the horrors and gnashing and wailing that resound throughout our Pioneer Valley!

Greenfield is a bucolic little town full of charm and hippies, street kids, whole grain families of all shapes, sizes and orientations. There are organic awesome groceries stores rubbing economic elbows with larger, stockholder-ish grocery stores. There are old buildings seeing new interested owners reviving downtown. There are used bookstores, coffee shops, art spaces, adventurous dining (a BBQ joint is opening in the spot now vacant because the Thai restaurant found a larger spot.)

There are families. Gay, straight, off the grid, on the grid, solar panels, family beds, breastfeeding, organic farming, organic thinking....Got Hope? End This War! Love Makes A Family! Farmer's Markets downtown now accepting Food Stamps (now renamed something else?)

You have Mercedes Station Wagons parked next to Smart Cars, parked next to 20 year old Subarus, parked next to Hybrids, parked next to recumbent bikes, parked next to Volvos, parked next to vintage beater cars with a few Mini Coppers to add spice.

You've got students, business owners, bankers, bakers, moms off to the yoga class. You've got your professionals in their ubiquitous white dress shirts jaywalking to their next triumph. You've got the middle class (tightly in the middle...) You've got the Super Comfortable, you've got the struggling who aren't sure about the next day.

You've got your locavores, sensuously rolling in the local fare of this great valley. You've got your McDonalds junkies, Dunkin Donut freaks....Why buy organic fruits and veggies? There's nothing wrong with the artificial coloring in my kids yogurt! You've got vegetarian neighbors, backyard gardens, Kill Your TV, NPR, This Old House.

You've got summer carnivals and Autumn fairs. Two day music festivals. Arts, crafts, Harvest Suppers, local folks and tourists. You've got humanity eating, sleeping, growing, producing, engaging, loving, fighting, living, dying, starting, ending, driving, walking, crawling, building, tearing down, and CONSUMING.

Is a proposed Walmart really going to be the stick in the spoke of Greenfield? Sure there are the stories of underpaid employees, ill treated, overworked, lousy health insurance plans. There are the reported sweat shops run by child labor to produce the Hanna Montana t shirts. There are the tainted deli sandwiches eaten by many. Remember the "news" story a few years back....Donald Trump and then wife Ivana back to school shopping at a *gasp* Walmart!!!!

If you are outraged, then by gum do something about it!!!! Traffic will be a crazed mess on my street for certain!!!! I am not a Walmart fan (I have shopped there. My 5 year old wanted a Hanna Montana backpack for school. That is another story all on its own!) but I can say gratefully that I am not at an economic state to be forced to spend my earnings there. Is anti Walmart sentiment a bit of classicism? Who are the people that shop there, their annual income? Some will say "have you seen the people that shop there?"

Locals are hoping to have the proposed square footage reduced. Lots of Big Box meeting are scheduled locally so all can have their say. Living in this area has made me mindful and fully supportive of spending my dollars as locally as possible. I remember our first snowstorm in our new house and buying a shovel at the local hardware store (long closed now.) I was so proud of myself for spending $17 on that shovel when I could have driven to Home Depot and spent maybe $10?

Is it possible that all can coexist? It's not going to be built smack in the middle of downtown (thank God!) Maybe there are families hoping for employment, health insurance, and less expensive goods. Their everyday worries far outweigh traffic snarls and the insidious global takeover of Walmart.

Sadly, the world is not a fair playing field.

Just my humble opinion...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This Is Too Good To Make Up

"Mom, some people in other countries eat sheep brains, I wouldn't because my belly would be filled with sheep memories."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

All Of This In Five Minutes

"Does it hurt to have babies?" I'm not going to sugar coat this the simplest terms I told Lola it hurts like a shot hurts, only for a while. HA! "Mom, why can't I adopt instead?" Of course I said this was also a way to do it if she wished. I told her she had lots and lots of years to think about this. From my lips to God's ears! "Just adopt for me and let me have the baby. I don't want it to hurt."

"Are superheros real, like in the cartoons?" "No, not with superpowers, X-ray vision, super heated rays blasting from their eyes to melt walls, super power wonder twins activate!" I told her there are REAL superheros. People that help others and make the world a better place. Maybe teachers, doctors, nurses, people that give to those who don't have much. "Like Santa and you and Daddy."

To be ranked with Santa...not bad.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Holy Crap, Or IS It?

We're back from a fantastic, well deserved vacation in Ocean Pines Maryland. Sean's youngest brother,his wife and son live about two hours from there. It was just what I had wished for. Lots of quality beach time and playing in the waves with Lola. Gibson loved the ocean but only in our arms with wave mist tickling his toes. I had more time to get to know my sister in law, who I've always know was a great woman and a devoted mom.

Driving back to Massachusetts was nothing short of hellacious! What Map Quest said would be a 7 and a half hour drive turned into a death rattle of 10 plus hours!!! Traffic was creeping by and we'd see the same irritated drivers with that "just wanna get home" weary expression on their faces. The kids were troopers, watching their DVDs, coloring, sleeping (Gibson), and playing with their stuffed animals. Gibson would hold Pup Pup up to the window and say "I see the pool!" whenever we would pass a body of water. He called the ocean the "pool" too!

We were navigating through New York, lower level, George Washington Bridge when the kids began to sing and make screeching noises together, trying to out decibel each other. Reading directions and making sure we weren't heading into Harlem was a bit dicey and we yelled at the kids to be quiet until we were out of the city.

Under quiet duress, Lola noticed lots of great buildings. She asked who made all the buildings. I told her people, architects, etc. I explained about blueprints and the machinery and bricks, windows, all the stuff needed to fabricate a building. She's often said she wants to be an architect or a rock singer when she grows up.

"Does it hurt when God makes people?" We were gloriously free from the sooty confinement of I 95 and on our way to I 91 when she asked this. "You know, when people are here, when they were born from God." Oddly enough, I never mention the word "GOD." Sure, when she tags along to Mass with the ending promise of a donut, she may have remembered a thing or two, but I usually speak in the "Jesus" lingo to her. The sweet, humble, young man who was the cute Italian ceramic babe nestled in the hay under the Christmas tree. The Jesus who is the Shepherd finding the poor lost baby lamb caught in the wicked bramble. The Jesus who is kind, likes to share his toys, not lip off to Mom, and eats his veggies and doesn't wipe his boogers on the pillow case at night, kind of Jesus.

I could feel Sean instantly tense up at the wheel. "I don't think it hurts him at all baby bear." She persists "But how does he do it?" I suggest by way of women having babies. "But why have babies all the time? Why does he let us do it that way?" My head is spinning and I don't want to dig myself into a religious tar pit. I would rather like to get out of the blankety-blankety car, have a couple glasses of wine and revel at the fact we are finally home!

"Because he loves us and it's his way of wanting more people to love each other and not be lonely." I felt pretty smug with my answer and Lola wanted her Simon the Chipmunk stuffed animal she won at the Ocean City Boardwalk.

Later that evening (10 and a half hours later, as fore mentioned) Sean said he wasn't really happy with my answers and didn't want his kids having any false ideas. "Do we really know there is a God?" "Are YOU really certain? I want her to make her own conclusions and not have her believing in fairy tales. I want her to know of other religions and other ways. I want her to have discussions with people and be aware there are other opinions and beliefs."

Sean and I have oil and water views on organized religion and subscribed belief systems. We've made it work so far, after ten years of living together, then a marriage in a Catholic church (thanks Mom), ten additional years of wedded bliss, baptism of both our children into said church, weathering heated arguments about my beliefs and the trauma (mostly self made) and all doubt and good 'ol Catholic Guilt!!! I can say we respectfully agree to disagree at most times. Do I know God exists? I sure as hell hope so. I've lived on this, thrived on this, denied this, banked on this, run away as far as I could on this, bet ponies on this....It's all I know. Am I brainwashed? Blissfully indulgent? Afraid of that huge hand coming down from the clouds to bitch-slap me or smote me.

Do I know God exists? I don't, I guess I really don't. What I do know, what I know deep in my heart, and I know that throbbing organ pretty well by now; I know I wish I were a better person. I WANT to be a better person, I'm just lazy. I want to do better in the world, to make a better world. I'm just lazy. I want to be loved and to love. I want to not judge. I could care less if someone judges me. At the end of the day I know oh so little. Yet, I plunder on, walking the walk, talking the talk, smoke and mirrors and all that gussied up stuff that makes me feel better.

Once in a while, just a small glimmer, a nugget of truth embeds itself in my brain. I look at my two children. There HAS TO BE A REASON for them, a tangible reason they free fell into my lap. I look at my husband, so complex and so readable at the same time, surely this person was meant for me, and just me. I look at nature, such a gift, the people around me, who love me, truly love me. This I know is all true and tangible. All bets are on. This I am taking to the track.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

There Aint Enough Calgon In The World...

Someone tell me, remind me it gets easier? There are days I cringe at the word "MOMMY!" I literally have to barricade myself in the bathroom and throw myself down on the floor, rocking in a fetal position for a few minutes before I have the courage to venture back out and become "MOMMY!" again!

Lola is into raging fits and blaming everything that goes wrong on me. She gets out of the tub and she's wet and cold, it's my fault. We go to the playground and she gets sand in her shoes, it's my fault. She gets marched up to her room for a well deserved time out, YEP, it's my fault. The other day she screamed and called me a "stupid loser!" That vitroil rant earned her another 15 minutes and no TV that night. She fights with me when I brush her hair. She didn't want a ponytail and got syrup in her hair at breakfast....AGAIN, my fault.

The best way to handle these is to also give myself a time out. Gibson has resorted to throwing everything and anything her can get his hands on. He throws his heavy Tonka trucks at Lola. He lobs his sippy cups at Lola's head. He hurtles his plates and bowls to the floor, usually with food still in them. He's taken to spitting his milk out and allowing it to waterfall down his chest and belly onto the floor. He's reverted back to using his fingers in his applesauce and creating his own hair elixir with mashed fruits and cracker crumbs. And I thought sand was hard to get out of his hair!

He loves to play Sean's drums in the attic and will scream "Dums, Dums" until hes's almost passed out. He screams "bathy" at the top of his lungs and rams his head into the bathroom door if we don't open it. Best of all, he takes off his diaper and flings it anywhere he likes. This is most often followed by peeing on the floor or rugs. We've started potty training, silver lining I guess. He found a Coco Puff wedged in the sofa cushion, pointed and said "poop!"

He's insists on clinging to me at every chance. He pinches and hits Lola when they're in the convertible back seat. The car is fairly small and there is less than six inches between their car seats. On the way to the grocery store today I had to pull over and referee their hitting, squabbling, bare knuckle brawl fest.

While Gibby finally took his nap, I thought I'd put off vacuuming and bake banana bread with Lola, some quality mom/daughter stuff. That Betty Crocker moment resulted in a time out for Lola, in her room with no DVD privileges for the rest of the night. The banana bread smells great though. Maybe I'll lock myself in the bathroom with a book and a loaf of that!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Big Thoughts About Babies.

"But how do the babies get in the tummy anyway?" Lola asked this again today. Last month she wanted to know why I wanted children and why we chose to adopt Gibson. Not an easy question to answer. Why did I want children? I was never one of those girls who dreamed of growing up, getting married and having children. I never really thought about it.....until I met Sean and he was eager to have a family far sooner than I was. I felt I had worked hard to become who I was, I was finally comfortable with myself and had quelled all my demons (at least summoned them far, far below for another time.) Having children would change everything. Most selfishly it would change ME!

Two kids and a few years later.....THANK GOD it changed me!!!! So, back to the birds and the bees with Lola. She then asks "Will I ever have babies?" We're driving home from Gibson's first hair cut. "Sure, If you want to have babies..." She's quiet, I study her in the rear view mirror. I know she's really mulling this one over. "I could have two, one for me to take care of and one for Jakey to take care of." Jake is her neighbor, partner in crime, shorter sidekick, preschool buddie, and like Burton and Taylor; they've been stormily married and divorced several times.

"But how do babies get in the tummy anyway?" I told her once before, as simple as possible about anatomy and how the two are needed to make a baby. She knows the correct terms for both sets of anatomy but proclaims loudly she owns a "Pagina!" She doesn't believe it's fair to only have one name and likes the combined sound of both!

Lola has a simpler explaination about babies. She likes to imagine everyone is born with a small, wee baby in their tummies and when you are a grown up, and you decide to have babies; you simply let it grow!

Shave and A Haircut.

I thought summer was supposed to be lazy, spending tranquil days in the shade, cocooned in a hammock, sipping a Mojito, great book in hand? Oh, wait....I have two kids......

Gibson had his first REAL HAIRCUT today!!!! He has the greatest, and I mean the greatest hair! Super curly and it just springs out of his head, these perfect corkscrews of follicle joy!!! Picture Tigger bouncing on his tail in The Hundred Acre get the idea.

Ethnic hair is a bit labor intensive. It needs conditioning and picked out several times a day and nightly. I use all natural hair products without parabens and all those nasty laurel sulfates that strip hair of natural oils. I'm on top of this one! Then I noticed the back becoming matted, the curls were turning into dreads in the back, no matter how much I picked or conditioned.

I phoned a place nearby, Global Cuts, who specialize in ethnic hair. I was assured by Leslie that Gibson was in the best of care. We walked into what appeared to be a classic men's barber shop but with a funky edge. Framed posters of Jimi Hendrix covered the walls, black and white photos of 60's and 70's jazz greats shared space with a large map of Africa, mini flags from all over the world framed the mirrors.

Gibson sat on my lap as the cutting began. I had hoped a few matted strands could be dealt with easily. Leslie suggested a decent trim and said the regrowth would be even healthier. I expected Gibby to be squirming and fussing as she picked through his hair. He did great, I was the one sweating as his black curly locks cascaded to the worn tile floor. Lola said he didn't look like Gibby, that he didn't look like Baby Gibby anymore. I took photos of his abandoned tresses covering the floor and photos of him with his new look. He kept patting his head saying "hair cut!" and then clapping for himself.

He looks older to me now, and I have to say I miss the curls. They will come back and I'll know to be more vigilant with his styling. He's growing up and it makes me a bit sad. I'm not sure what I'm longing for; his curls or that precious time before his trim today. I look at him and my heart breaks, my little Gibby is changing, morphing, growing into a little boy who is becoming so sure of himself at only the age of 2. Lola says Daddy will definitely like Gibby's "new do."

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Cookie In One Hand Is Better Than None

Lola is onto me!!!! I bought Chips Ahoy, Reduced Fat. She and Gibby were munching on their before bed snack. "Mom, these aren't the cookies we've had before." She extended the cookie out before her eyes and gave it a mistrustful once-over. "What do you mean? They're the ones you wanted me to buy." "No, there's something funny with them."

When they are babies, it's easy to make sure they eat veggies and fruits. I find the older they get, they develop color aversion to certain foods. Green to Lola means NO GO!!! I made her spinach ravioli the other night and she noticed suspicious green specks of vitamin goodness. Once in a while she will eat corn on the cob. As a toddler, she loved grape tomatoes and avocados. I'm overjoyed she at least eats apples and blueberries!

Out of desperation and fear of rickets and scurvy, I made fruit smoothies and added two containers of pureed carrots. "Mom, why does it look orange?" I said "Oh honey, that's the color of the fruit." I served it to them both in fancy brandy snifters with straws. They loved them, for about three seconds and then abandoned them. Newman the mutt gave an appreciative wag after licking them both clean.

Last year, maybe several years ago? there were two popular cookbooks giving tips on providing veggie laden meals and snacks by hiding said unpopular food groups into everyday dinners. I'm torn, do you surprise attack and become the "sneaky chef" or do you teach them veggies are good for you, join a farm share, let them help you pick fruits and veggies still warm from the sun.

It continues to be an ongoing battle when Lola wants cookies or chocolate for breakfast. She knows she will get "the look" from me and be handed a yogurt drink and an organic blueberry breakfast bar. I'm not a complete food Nazi. Once in a while if she's running late, I send her out the door with Sean: a cookie in one hand and her toothbrush in the other.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Birdie Blues

Almost every spring, a robin attempts to play house atop the pillar of our front porch. Some robins begin the nest process only to leave under cover of night, their nests half built, a gaping hole with grass and twigs blowing in the warm breeze. It must be the activity of the house that makes them so unsure. I wonder about the birds that build under noisy train tunnels or choose sun scorched street light posts in busy downtown cross sections. They seem to stick it out, or tuck it under, or whatever they do in that nest?

I watched a tentative expectant birdie begin the building. She would fly to our porch with beaks full of grassy brick and mortar. Last week she added some tissues we had left on our side porch. Sean wanted the nest down last week. He's freaked out by birds in general and the poop is unsanitary and gross. I asked him to leave it alone, hoping eggs had been laid. I wanted the kids to see the nest and eventually babies learning to fly for the first time.

A few days ago while Mama Bird was away, I grabbed a step stool and my camera. I hovered the camera above the nest and captured some gorgeous pics of three perfect, bluest of robin egg blue creations. Nature is an amazing study.

I remember several years ago I miscarried our first pregnancy. I was five months along and we had named the baby and received Christmas gifts from family while visiting in Pennsylvania. We lost the baby that New Years Day. That spring, I watched a bird build her nest. Sean knocked it down with a broom and disposed of it in the woods. I watched that bird come back to her roost and take in the horror of no hope, no home, no babies. I knew how she felt; raw, drained, ripped empty, confused. I sat in the hallway and cried for almost two hours.

I showed Sean the photos of the eggs and it triggered that memory. You never forget, you sometimes talk to your spouse about it, even after seven years, and two beautiful children later. Most days I feel slightly like those eggs, soon ready to hatch. I am resilient: yet feel a scuff, a peck, a small crack kept under control.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Boom Boom, Out Go The Lights!

Power outages are a bitch! Some sort of mini tornado swept through Madison Circle (as well as Franklin County and beyond) and played twister with trees and power lines. Walking the neighborhood the next day was a bit eerie with plucked out trees and intricate, one hundred year old root systems pulled from the earth like baby carrots.

Live wires were everywhere and people surveying the damage. I wandered around in my pajamas, coffee less and wondering if preschool was axed for the week. Other folks crept out of their homes looking up at the sky and then the front lawn carnage below. My newly planted perennials held their ground well.

I thought of New Orleans and other areas hit by disaster and thanked God it was nothing like those events. Crews began to arrive on the scene with trucks, blocking access to our circle and firefighters were stationed at all entrance points. Every now and again, one of them would knock on my door to use my bathroom, clomping up the stairs in their heavy, yellow gear. My neighbor had to show up for work, so I babysat her son. Other kids seemed to hone in on my house for a play date. The afternoon was filled with kids, snacks, and water play in the yard.

Sean was home early with flashlights, lanterns and dry ice. Lola was distraught, no cartoons and no computer. I would flick the light switch on in the pantry only to be reminded we had no power. By day three we were all pissy! I could not suffer through another night of whining kids wanting cartoons, warm wine, and Scrabble by lantern.

3 AM, Sean wakes me...."Everyone's lights are on except ours!" I was dreading cleaning out the fridge and throwing away groceries bought the day before the storm. Sure enough, the next morning, everyone was basking in electrified, glorious, artificial light. All were having freshly brewed coffee, reading their papers, sending e mails, making phone calls to other happy full wattage friends. We were still acoustic.

We needed to call an electrician and fast! Memorial Day Weekend was looming and our hopes were fading. Sean made at least 15 calls from the yellow pages. (Amazing, the phone book: we never use the phonebook, we just Google the number!!) A half hour went by, then the cell rang. An electrician was on his way!!! It seems the storm blew, completely fried our breaker panel. We were fully restored within 20 minutes! I hate to see what our bill will be, these guys charge extra for weekends, and holiday. We brewed a lovely, hot pot of coffee, had steaming hot showers and turned on the TV for the kids. Lola was so happy she kissed SpongeBob, leaving lip prints on the screen.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Hey, I just realized yesterday was my ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY as a blogger!!!!!!!

Soccer Stinks!

I have a mean hankerin for bacon this morning! Opened up a packet of Oscar Myer Center Cut and it's in the oven as I write. Is there nothing better than a well behaved toddler happily playing, bacon smells wafting through the house, sun shining in through the windows, a luke warm cup o' joe at my side: I expect to hear the screen door slam and the sound of children jumping through lawn sprinklers. I should have never quit my gig at Hallmark Cards!

Lola wanted to try soccer camp this summer. I was going to sign her up then thought she may not like it. A YMCA employee suggested we try it and then pay the $35 or $40 fee. Wise suggestion on her part! Last Tuesday I picked Lo up from pre school and we headed to the college field. We were a bit early and we watched nets being set up and soccer balls being unloaded from the back of a small van. I brought Gibson's plastic lawn mower and some cookies to keep all occupied. It was a chilly, damp late afternoon and I hadn't thought to bring a blanket or lawn chairs.

Parents soon starting arriving with kids in tow, the kids wearing Y Soccer t shirts and shin guards. We had already missed last Tuesday's first introduction class where they apparently handed out the required goods. Two of Lola's classmates showed up and she was so excited. I said hello to parents and kids settled into groups. One of Lo's friends Mom is a soccer coach so she took Lola with her to form their team.

Lola seemed to be having a blast, running around with her friends. Gibby and I moved closer to the end of the field where her group was, watching them pass the ball with their feet. In the middle of one of the drills, she grew bored and wanted to play with her friend Cameron. I told her Cameron was on another team and practicing like she was doing. She began to get cranky and wanted to roll down the hill. "I don't like soccer, it's boring! I want my friends to be on my team! I don't like that woman telling me what to do!"

I will admit I was really disappointed. Not in Lola so much, but because I thought this might be something good for her, a challenge, something physical, something she could learn and have fun with. She tends to shy away from things if she feels she can't do them. I was hoping this would be a sort of confidence builder. With her recent diagnosis of sensory integration "stuff" I was hoping this would benefit her.

We walked away from her team and up the hill. She was crying. "I want to play soccer but I don't like that woman telling me what to do!" I told Lola this is what is expected. "You have to learn to play soccer and she's the coach, so you have to pay attention and listen to her to know the rules of the game." Such is life, and I worry Lola may have difficulty listening to authority and following rules. Am I worrying needlessly? She's only five. She cried in the car for a while and Gibby was upset because Lola was upset. I didn't say much on the way home, just thinking about the events.

We got home and she wanted to color, have a bath and dinner. "Are you upset Mom?" "No honey, I guess I just wanted you to have fun and at least stick out today's practice until the end. Hey, at least you got this cool t shirt, and at least you tried soccer, I'm proud of you for trying something new!" I gave her a hug and she couldn't wait to show Sean her t shirt and tell him about the "soccer day."

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I took a call from a friend of mine this morning. She crabbed and bitched for a while about nothing in particular. In my best British accent I asked her "Who pooped in your flower bed this morning dearie?" She paused and asked if this has ever happened to me.

She began her tale. She had just put her 10 month old son down for bed for the night. She and her husband had dinner and several glasses of wine. He cleaned the kitchen, loaded the dishwasher, while she took a bath and changed into her pjs. He came up to floss his teeth before checking his emails. "How bout a quickie before you retire for the evening?" she said standing stark naked in the bathroom doorway, trying to hold in her baby paunch and look sexy in the harsh hallway light. "No way, I just had a couple glasses of wine and two helpings-I don't think I have it in me!"

As nonchalantly as could be: when you're naked and needy, she said "Rain check tomorrow?" She sulked off to bed with a book and could hear him downstairs watching HGTV probably caressing a bowl of Chunky Monkey or Cherry Garcia.

Marriage can be hard, taxing, frustrating. Intimacy: same deal! My husband's Aunt told me she has (*WARNING* ADULT CONTENT TO FOLLOW AFTER NEXT PUNCTUATION MARK!) "fuck you" sex with her husband. When they're mad at each other and accidentally bump into each other in the hallway she says "Fuck you!" He replies in kind. Cigarette anyone? Maybe it's more amusing when she tells it?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What Can I Be?

I have baskets and baskets of laundry to do and I should scrub my tub and bathroom floor. Instead, I think I'll blog to you and then have some iced coffee on my side porch while Gibby is still napping.

I've been trying to stick to a consistent bedtime for Lola. Sean is usually home from work between 7 and 7:30. Some nights, 8:30. On those nights, Gibson is in bed and we squeeze in some time together over wine talking about our days (Sean and I, not know...the wine...) Once Lo is in bed Sean and I have dinner around 9, leaving us, as a couple little time to communicate.

So, up to bed go we. Lola spied a book on the table "Twenty-Odd Ducks" Why, Every Punctuation Mark Counts! Great colorful illustrations and tongue in cheek education about duh...punctuation! I was hoping for more insight into colons and semi colons. Anyway, I read her the book. She didn't understand why every two pages had the same sentence but different pictures. (The magical use of punctuation and how it carries a meaning!)

We finished the book and I rubbed her back for a few minutes. "OK, mom has gotta go spend time now with Daddy and have dinner." Several whimpers and small kicks to the bed, "You know what I hate about being 5? When I grow up no one will lay with me at night!" Very sweet, if tragic, insight about growing up for Lola. It's such a push-pull age for her. She wants all control and says she wants to be the boss, yet she realizes she'll lose something by growing up.

"You know you will always be my baby, even when you are an old lady." I soothed her hair away from her eyes, so big and blue. "What can I be when I grow up?" She's told me she wants to be an illustrator, an architect, teacher or rock star. "Eliase has two mommies, I could be a mommy just like you!" I told her that sounded like a great idea. She told me she could help take care of Gibby. She was silent for a while and I thought she had fallen asleep. She turned over and said "But what if Gibby grows up too?

That's my worry, they are growing up too fast and I barely have the time to catch the memories.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

All Is Quiet Upstairs

A new follower!!!!! Thanks Elaine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gibson was eerily quiet this morning. We've opted to remove the baby gate that leads upstairs. He enjoys climbing the steps and he's quite agile even with his sippy cup, blankie, and Pup Pup. The other morning I was taking a shower and he greeted me with a plate of scrambled eggs I had made for him minutes earlier. He lost not one chunk of egg on his way up!

Someone forgot to flush the toilet and Gibby had a hay day playing in soggy toilet paper, smearing it all over the floor and walls..gross! Lola's favorite quote lately, "I'll never understand babies!" On one particularly exasperating day she quipped "Well, he can't get any worse."

Gibby will enter day care sometime in mid June, two days. It will give me a bit of a break and spend some quality time with Lola. We've decided not to enroll her in her day care's summer camp, instead have her home to have fun at the lake and play dates with friends. I may regret this decision. She can be a handful, very temperamental, and prone to over reacting to situations.

Through some intervention we've learned she may have SID, Sensory Integration Dysfuncion. Yea, I know...very scary to me! The term defines someone who has difficulty with processing sensory input. It has to do with the central nervous system not operating smoothly and Lola working super hard to integrate her senses. Children with poor sensory processing are more likely to over react to everyday stuff, lose control, and take longer to calm down after a tantrum. We took her to an occupational therapist who determined her core strength and balance are rated low. In a nutshell, all of these things are tied together.

The more I'm reading up on this stuff, the more "Ah Ha!" moments I'm having. She is craving more stimulation because she lacks these stimulus feelings elsewhere. She's incredibly loud, and dramatic and playful. Her "I GOTTA BE ME!" moments as I like to call them. She tends to freak out at the movies because of the loud trailers shown before the movie. Her shirt sleeves have to have a certain length, now she hates wearing leggings, she battled last winter with her teachers over snow pants and boots, she hates, HATES, having her fingernail and toenails clipped, she has recently gotten over her fear of scissors and had her tresses trimmed. Again, these all have to do with heightened senses and her ability to process them (or so I am trying to puzzle together?)

In short, a bit of a modulation issue...different kids have different temperaments and most times hers clashes with mine. Great learning tool for me, to model my reaction to what is really going on with her, figuring out why she is really hesitant to try something or defiant on some days, wanting all control most days.

It's Sunday night, and we've just had an enormous battle getting Lola to bed. I set the timer and said ten more minutes. She screamed, had a raging hissy fit and said she hated her life. I have to be firm and show no emotion. She's had a big weekend. I'm hoping she doesn't wake Gibby up. This post has taken me several days to write which is not the norm, usually I bang one out.

I'm going to stick to my parental guns, seek help, and continue reading my books from Amazon. Lola's school behaviorist stopped by Thursday for a visit. I love her insight and she truly loves kids and agrees Lo is a fantastic kid. Who wouldn't? She is!!!!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Iggy Pop at 62 - Times Online

Iggy Pop at 62 - Times Online still have my heart! Lola picked out her own clothes this morning. A vintage Rolling Stones T shirt and a cute pair of denim capris with embroidered flowers down the leg. She wanted to know if she could wear my old Ray Bans to school. Of course!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Love You This Much

Spent over an hour trying to assemble ZhuZhu Pet Condos and a slide! I sat cross legged (Indian style as it was once referred to, before the PC Police started busting heads!) on the floor until there was no feeling in my legs. Kinda had this floating feeling as if I had reached a higher level of consciousness. No, I realized, just loss of circulation to the lower extremities!

Nugget and Mr. Squiggles are a hit. The best part, you don't have to feed them or clean out their cages. They are battery run hamsters who squeak and chirp and talk to each other and run along tunnels and rooms of elaborate homes (some assembly required....) Gibson and Lo spent at least an hour last night, playing peacefully with them.

There is also a grotesque amount of Bubber tracked through the house too. A bit like Moon Sand, a bit like Playdoh, feels great to mush and squish it together!!! Very therapeutic. Great colors, never dries out, supposedly gluten free and non toxic. Why gluten free? It's a floor wax, it's a dessert topping!

Lo's Luau is this weekend at the YMCA. More gifts, more mayhem. Mayhem is her favorite word lately. Poop seems to be the most popular this week. She's singing all songs about poop. It's a phase, I know.

She asked me last night if I love her more than Gibson. I love you both all the time, all with my heart I told her. "Don't you love me more because I was born first?" I wonder if she was asking pecking order or if the question had more to do with Gibson and his adoption. "I'll show you, look," I drew a heart on the back of a piece of scrap paper. "This is my heart." I drew a line down the center of the heart to show two halves. "One side is for you and one side is for Gibby."

"That makes sense." She was off to the living room to play with her ZhuZhu Pets.

Monday, April 19, 2010

High 5 Lola Rose!

Monday morning. Lola and Gibson are watching The Squeakquel (Alvin and the Chipmunks) upstairs in Lo's room. All is relatively quiet for now so I'll blog as long as time (or the impending smell of smoke or shattering glass) allows!

Today is Lola Rose's 5Th birthday!!!!! 5 WOW!!!!!!!!! I remember the day so clearly. It was a Tuesday and I had a doctor visit scheduled that morning. Around 3 AM I had to pee, I waddled to the bathroom and peed, and peed, and continued to pee. Then it dawned on me...HOLY CRAP, MY WATER BROKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I climbed back into the warm bed. Sean stirred, "Everything OK?" he sleepily mumbled. "Yeah, my water just broke." I was oddly calm. We both fell back to sleep.

I woke to the smell of coffee. Sean was downstairs on the phone calling work. I showered, dressed, makeup the whole sha-bang. Guess what? I was four centimeters dilated at the doctor's office. "Today is the day folks!" We were told to come back when contractions began. Back home, more phone calls. Sean made me eat a bowl of granola with sliced bananas. "Honey, honey, Sean, I need you!!" The contractions were overwhelming. Simultaneously I felt like my head and pelvis were being sent on opposite roller coaster rides. I was having a hell of a time breathing. "EEEhhhh OOhhhhhh EEEEhhhhhh OOOOhhhhhhhhhh," back to the doctor. Who's this puffed up pinata of a woman?

Family was on the way to Massachusetts from Pennsylvania. We settled into the delivery room. Drips, IVs, monitor machines. Nurses names written, erased and rewritten on the dry board all afternoon. My midwives coming and going. Doctors peeking in, prying open, prodding, poking...This had been a long journey. Two years of fertility treatments, a high risk pregnancy, five months doctor ordered bed rest: we were READY TO HAVE THIS BABY!

The anesthesiologist came in to play pin the tail on the puffy ladies back. Third time a charm! Bingo! I was psyched about the patient controlled epidural, the first for this hospital! I was happy, scared, anxious, giddy. Sean was by my side with that goofy Christmas morning glow! Several hours later I was given a pre flight cocktail. Soooooo nice. I was Shecky Green cracking jokes with the nurses. "I'll be here for the next three days, thank you, thank you, try the roast beef on your way out!"

Flowers were being delivered by the armloads. The room was filling up with fragrance and sun. We opened the windows, I could hear the street traffic below. OUCH OUCH OUCH OUCH....Dress rehearsal is now over! Now I was really uncomfortable!!! Sean's Mom popped into view. "SURPRISE WE'RE HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!" She blew into the room followed by my quieter Mom and Dad. Hugs, kisses, flurry of how was the trip, etc...I promised myself I would not cry when I saw my parents. Too late. The pain was fast and furious, a train wreck inside my body. I heard the nurse say "Are you alright?" She was addressing my mom who looked rather pasty and limp. Mom was escorted out of the room and passed out in the doorway. Dad and Mom were in the room next door recuperating as I gave birth.

I kept my eyes closed almost the entire time and held on rabidly to Sean's fingers. He had to take his watch and wedding band off because my grip was so severe. I couldn't remember how to breath and I felt I was drowning. I was flailing in murky black water. Somehow my body knew what to do and took over, I cried out in a rhythm that carried me onward. An internal song I didn't know I knew how to recite. A pushing, a pulling, a straining, a burning, tearing, release, relief. 8:23 PM, Lola burst onto the scene; big, healthy, pink 8 pound 8 ounces and 22 inches long!

Magically pizza was delivered to the room. Champagne was popped. I was being stitched up. Third degree tears and three minute long contractions. Shouldn't balloons and confetti be falling from the ceiling? Ah, but we had our prize didn't we. Happy Birthday Lola Rose :)


Friday, April 16, 2010

Out of the Mouth of Lola


All pirates are Canadian, so says Lola. I asked her where she heard this and she said she read it in the newspaper!

She's also convinced Gibson is either Chinese or a "Mexico" baby? She has this fascination with Mexico and Hawaii lately. "Why do you think Gibson is Chinese," I asked. "Because he eats noodles and fortune cookies." Oh, OK? Gibson has never had a fortune cookie and dislikes the texture of spaghetti.

She also gave me the run down on how prison works. "You do something bad and you get locked up. Then you have to wait, just be patient and the judge comes to your cage and lets you out." It seems a friend of Lola's in daycare has a Daddy who is in jail. Very matter of fact Lola shrugged and said, "You just have to wait your time out."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sunshine On My Shoulder Makes Me Cry

What an amazing, gorgeous day today is! Gibby and I walked downtown to check out the new coffee place and Raven Used Books. We walked over to the Greenfield Energy Park to soak up some rays. Gibson had a great time climbing in, out and over the wooden stationary train.

Gaggles of people were out. Business men in suits leaving the courthouse, people dropping off mail, cafes opening up, shopkeepers Windexing their front windows, two women conversing in sign language sitting in front of Siren Cafe; sipping coffee. There are two guys who sit out in front of Greenfields Market and ask for change. Today's special at La Petite Cafe, turkey club with lettuce, tomato, Swiss cheese and cranberry relish. New construction at The Puskin building caused pedestrian backup on the sidewalk, as did a young woman wearing teeny tiny shorts with cowboy boots. Women with their yoga mats and eco friendly water bottles were coming out of the studio, stepping into the bright sun and the chorus of steady beeping of the garbage trucks.

I watched Gibby play and wave occasionally at me, peeking through the wooden windows of the train. Every so often he would make sure I was still there. I was thinking how lucky I am, how today is this glorious day, a gift. I worried it would all too soon end. I worried there may not be a tomorrow. I began to worry for the safety of my children. I worried the earth or the sun, or some planet would stop spinning on its axis and this monstrous orb would fall flaming from the sky. Sometimes the day is just too perfect and I wonder what will happen next?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Day Without Spongebob

For once it's relatively peaceful at 6 PM on Madison Circle. Usually it's a bedlam of Spongebob Squarepants, noisy toys, and Lola and Gibby competing for air time! There's a flurry of after school snacks, drawing paper, crayons, kicked off sandy shoes and who said something nasty to someone else or what was gross for lunch. "What's that gooey brown stuff they give you on a bun?" I have to say her menu at school is impressive, from chicken teriyaki, stuffed shells, sloppy joes, and assorted fresh veggies and fruits. Healthy snacks twice a day? Not a bad deal.

There were no cartoons today after school. Lola hit Gibby in the face because Gibby was after her toothbrush this morning. I heard him cry and saw him rubbing his cheek. We do not under ANY circumstance tolerate hitting! I told Lola to apologize to Gibson and no cartoons when she was home from school. "Mommy do you still love me?" "Yes, I do, but I'm very sad that you hit Gibby when you should have used your words and taken your toothbrush back."

As soon as we were home she asked for a piece of her Easter candy. The next request, cartoons. "Mom said no because you hit Gibby this morning. This is your consequence for hitting." I was impressed and surprised there was no gnashing and wailing. She and Gibby took their baths then played downstairs with books. I turned on the radio and we had a dance party. Lola taught me a new dance called "The Wedding." You hold each other very close and stiff like it's your first school dance and you're scared shit less. She's growing up way too fast!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mother DOM DOM DOM DOM DOM!!!!!!!!!

Last night Sean and I were brainstorming various ways to regain some parental control over Lola. Maybe we never really had any? She's always "ruled the roost" as Sean likes to say. During our meeting with her teacher and pricipal yesterday Sean was relaying our parenting skills, or I felt, lack of! I was cringing as Sean said we (ME!) placate her, try to reason with her, and give her far too many choices

"She's always bored and wanting things to do! She snacks all the time! It's a snack train at our house!" "We give her (ME!) too many choices at dinner time!" We (ME!) try to reason to her and explain our actions!" I felt any minute Social Services was going to trample the door down and take me away for overindulgence of a 4 year old!

I was on the offensive last night hashing it over with him. Throw me a bone at least would you! I get it though. Maybe it is because he's not at home and parenting 24/7 that he sees our interactions differently. I'm in the thick of it, in the trenches, eating, breathing, sleeping all that is motherdom! It's not criticism it's "maybe try it this way." I'm open to it, believe me! We are fantastic at co parenting. Fantastic in the way we do listen and respect each other's opinions and want the best for our kids, while keeping our sanity.

I parent based on what I know and equally what I DON'T know. For me, parenting is this complicated mess of memories from your own childhood and how you feel you did or didn't get what you needed. I think parents of this generation in our 40s have so many resources now and intellectualize our pasts and mistakes we feel were wrought against us as kids. It might be a bold proclamation to say our generation is taking parenting more seriously, more cerebral.

It's a slippery slope. I find I'm explaining to Lola why I'm taking a certain action when she's done something she knows she should not have done. She's almost 5 but still a child. I have to set boundaries and reinforce them. Lately I say "because I'm the mommy and this is my job!" I need to take my own advice.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fine! Wear Your Pajamas to School!

Sean and I met this morning with Lola's teacher and principal to discuss her behavior lately. She has always been an extremely tactile child and very aware of how textures feel against her skin.

Last winter it was the battle of the snow pants and equally menacing snow boots. They either were too small, too big, too squishy or just plain "bunchy!" Her unwillingness to get dressed for outside snow play was disruptive to her friends and taxing on the teachers. New snow pants and boots seemed to eventually placate her and she would eagerly tell me she had no fits and wore her snow pants and had fun outside in the snow!

New season, new challenges. She loathes getting dressed in the mornings lately. I've tried almost everything but promise her a pony if she'll just put her @#*&! pants on! If it's not a "stomach ache" it's her underwear are too big or too small. Her leggings are either too tight at the ankle or too "bunchy!" I've tried having her choose her clothes the night before to avoid these morning meltdowns to no avail.

Neither of us want to start our mornings this way. Sadly it clouds her entire day and she continues to be melancholy when I pick her up at the end of the day. Her teachers are amazing and recognize how it effects her. This is why we had our meeting this morning.

We agree she is incredibly smart and verbal and reaches a maximum boil over level comparable to the Manoloah! How did this child become so stressed and riddled with anxiety? Damn genetics and how she is uniquely wired I suppose. This incredibly animated, verbose, artistically inclined child becomes crippled with worries. Lately she asks, if she's done something verboten, "Mom, do you still love me?"

We agreed she should see someone who deals with children and anxiety and help us with coping skills and effective boundaries. I blew over $20 purchasing books on Amazon which I'm sure will contradict each other. I bought such titles as "How to talk to your kid, so your kid can talk" and "Setting Boundaries for Easily Frustrated Children." I also Googled "Escape to the South of France for under $200." Amazon didn't seem to have that book!

As I'm blogging about this, I received a call from the school's behaviorist. She recommended someone who she feels has a better grip on these types of childhood behaviors. I can't help but feel somewhat guilty in all of these. Not the best emotional reaction from me, I know. Somewhere deep inside of me, I parent a certain way to compensate for things I feel I may not have gotten as a kid. It can be a vicious cycle. Then little labels pop into my head like "challenging" child or "difficult" or better yet "defiant." I know none of these all encompass or begin to even describe Lola, but the drama lobe of my brain just goes there. Huh, the apple doesn't fall far from the banana tree.

Like all parents, I want the sparring and morning battles to stop. I know it could be far WORSE! It's a bit of a relief that I feel I need a new bag of tricks to help her navigate. It's also a relief that I have a husband who is just as concerned and an equal in the parenting department.

I'm lucky she is happy, creative, theatrical and sharp as a tack even if she is a tad manipulative! I'll schedule an appointment and read my books and hold off on buying that pony.....for now.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Just a few things that burn my toast!

Enough of Tiger Woods and his Mea Culpa!!!!! The guy is a rat bastard who repeatedly cheated on his wife. The many bimbos along the way are equally greasy for telling their stories and letting the world in on their steamy texts!!!!

The Jessie James/Sandra Bullock saga...If I see another photo of the tattoo tramp I will throw my computer out the sun room window!

Why can't people walk their grocery carts back to the stalls conveniently located all over the parking lots? Must they leave them in the parking spaces? Is America that lazy or inconsiderate? Open up your recently purchased bag of Doritos and walk the cart back where it belongs!

Cashiers that don't look up at your or acknowledge you. They mumble and thrust the receipt at you. How about a friendly hello. Worse yet, they ramble to their bagger/coworker about what they did the night before or how they're pissed they have to work Saturday!

People that toss cigarette butts our their car window.

People that let their dogs ride in the back of pickups.

People that don't buckle their kids safely!

OK, I could go on and on about cruelty to children and the lack of compassion locally and globally. I could rant about racial and religious intolerance. I could rant about lack of respect. I could also get off my ass and join a cause to support these rights.

On the more humorous side...Lola asked the other day for a piece of bread and asked "could a have a little toast on it?"

Friday, March 19, 2010

What Does She See?

I registered Lola for the big K a few days ago!!!! She is super excited to attend "big kid" classes. Her school (if I chose this one) is a five minute walk from our home.

Flushed with excitement and nervousness, we stormed through the front doors. The building had that paper, pencil, Pine Sol, institution odor about it. We registered in the library and copies of her birth certificate and immunization records were made. We passed by the gym and cafeteria looking for the Kindergarten classes.

Lola was running ahead of me pointing to all the student artwork on the walls. "I draw better than that!" Gibson was leaving a trail of pretzels falling from the stroller, marking our way to this higher education adventure.

We entered the first classroom. I had to abandon the stroller at the bottom of the steps and carried Gibson. There were several small tables set up with crayons, paper, puzzles. The room was open and sunny with waist high artwork and education posters tacked about the room. Bright cubbies held children's belongings. Further down the hall, windows overlooked the playground.

We met the first teacher Mrs. Bell. I recognized her from my church. Introductions were made and Lola was asked to make herself a name tag. Mrs. Bell noticed Gibby desperately squirming to get down and investigate. "And who is this?" I picked up a hint of iciness in her tone. "This is my baby Gibson" Lola proudly said. Mrs. Bell didn't ask in that "he's so cute I want to dunk him in my coffee" kind of way. Uh, was she irritated? I reserved my judgement to see what would happen next. "Do you mind if I put him down? There aren't any ramps or access for a stroller." Much too quickly she said it would not be a good idea and he might make a mess in the room and then "every parent would want to let their kids roam around." Wasn't that the point of this open house? The postcard I received in the mail said children and families welcome to pre register??!!!

With a dismissive turn she told her assistant to set Lola up with a project. OK, I thought, let's try this again. I asked how large her classes were what the kids were learning about. She was sitting near her desk and waved her hand over to another table. "There's a photo album and a book we put together about Chinese New Year." She genuinely seemed disinterested and was not making eye contact with me. With the photo album in my hand and Gibson in the other arm I asked if her classes were ethnically diverse. Not looking at me and with her hands on her lap, shrugged "I have no control over that." Without missing a beat I retorted "Of course, if that were the case I would ask you to tell me today's winning lottery numbers!"

By this point my blood was boiling and Gibson and I had had enough! Lola was coloring a picture and I said we had to go. Other parents had filtered into the room and Mrs. Bell was handing out name tags to be filled in. Among the chaos we slipped out. I could hear parents asking questions and children's voices from the hallway. We found the second class and tentatively walked in.

"We have a Lola, I've never had a Lola in my class before!" Lola looked down at her name tag and beamed at Mrs. Isles. "Welcome come on in, I see you already made your name tag." Mrs. Isles was enthused and eager to know us. I asked if I could let Gibson down and she held her arms out to him. He happily went to her and she set him up with crayons and paper at a little work table. She asked Lola where she attended pre school and what her interests were. She explained what her kids were working on and showed me a daily schedule they followed. She told me I could schedule a time to sit in on her class and observe or have open play with her students so Lola and even Gibson could join in for half an hour.

Later that evening I told Sean about our day. I mulled over my exchange with Mrs. Bell for a few days. I am not one to pull the race card. Fortunately, I've had positive exchanges in my community as a multi racial family. My town is not an ethnic hot spot but there is a percentage of African American families and Latino families. I did have one nasty comment from a woman in the grocery store, who asked if I was "babysitting" that little boy.

I phoned the school Principal and relayed my experience. Only later in my telling did I reveal Gibson's race. She listened and apologized and said somehow she would see to it that Lola would not end up in Mrs. Bell's class. Her professionalism and consideration was well appreciated.

Did Mrs. Bell discriminate against us, against Gibson, and ultimately against Lola? Was she just having a bad day? Were we the target of a frustrated teacher on her way to retirement? I think I will give her a second chance. I will schedule open play for Lola and Gibson in her class and see what happens.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Should Race Matter in Adoptions? - ABC News

Should Race Matter in Adoptions? - ABC News

I have spent all morning Googleing this subject!!!!!! Watch the video. I have watched and re watched it several times today.

From my earlier posts you may have learned we adopted Gibson almost 2 years ago. His birthday is June 15th!!! He is a gorgeous mocha mix of African American and Puerto Rican heritage. Sean and I are "white." He is of Irish heritage and I am of Italian and German. There is a wee bit of African American in my lineage as well. I'm sure most of us have a wee bit as well if we investigate.

We did not set out to adopt a child of a different race. We simply wanted another child. I had a hell of a time conceiving. After several years we hit payday and Sean had to move his drum kit to the attic. We lost that pregnancy on a New Year's Day. I was five months pregnant and we had just picked out a name for our baby girl.
After several years of grueling fertility treatments we were blessed with success!!!!! Lola will be 5 this April.

Our doctors advised against another pregnancy but said it was ultimately up to us to try again. While pregnant with Lola, I was ordered to strict house bed rest for the last five months of my pregnancy. Needless to say, I was not up for that again and was truly afraid of more complications or worse, another lose. Adoption seems to be the perfect answer.

We took 12 weeks of classes to educate ourselves about fostering through the state. We knew there was such a need for these kids in our own backyards and felt this was how we wanted to do it. Our caseworker said "It's free to foster but expensive emotionally." We had no idea how emotionally draining this experience would be. The stories these children carried with them from foster home to foster home were horrendous and heartbreaking. Just like the few belongings they had in black garbage bags they carried them from place to place. These children were essentially damaged by their families.

Our experience with The Dept. of Social Services was not a positive one. We knew what we could handle. We did not want a special needs child or a child older than Lola. It seemed every panicked call received from DSS was in need of placing a special needs child with us immediately!!!! I felt horrible saying NO. Time and time again they would phone me at work and say there was a child who needed placed ASAP, but then the caseworker would never call back. Emotions were running high and patience was running low.

Then the call came. I left work an hour early. A child would be at our home for placement. He wasn't "legally free" for adoption. We were to foster with the hope of adopting him. The caseworker said there would be no way the mother would or could get him back. He was African American and about a year old. He had just learned to walk. He was incredibly clingy and cried constantly. He had a stomach bug and diarrhea. With only an hours notice, I borrowed a crib from Lola's daycare and went clothes shopping for him the next day. It was a rough couple of days. I learned from our caseworker he was kept tied in a crib for almost his first full year and his mother had tried to drown him several times in the bathtub.

Before the weekend was over, he was gone. A family member spoke up for him and he was off again. The caseworker came to pick him up and asked if I could make him some sort of lunch. "These kids never get to eat" she said. I remember making him peanut butter and jelly and packing a granola bar into a baggie for him. I had bought him a pair of little Converse high top sneakers. I watch those little sneakers being carried down my front porch. I couldn't look at him.

After taking a break for a year or so, we decided to permanently adopt. One door slams shut, and a window opens to usher in the spring air. Our story of adopting Gibson is miraculous. He was born on Father's Day of 2008. We along with about 7 other families had submitted photos and a biography to the birth mother. The hitch for us, we were notified the night before that she had signed papers giving up her parental rights. Other hopeful families had spent years perfecting their life stories on hand pressed paper and having glossy family portraits done to show. Our story was the last to be given to the birth mom. Sean drove the papers to the hospital 45 minutes away. He couldn't find our caseworker and was leaving in a panic when he spotted her with a baby in her arms in the parking lot. She was just handing over the baby to the foster grandmother. Sean got to see our Gibson that morning. Our caseworker Laurie stammered and looked embarrassed. It was fate that Sean saw him!

When we first talked about adoption we wondered if it would be complicated integrating a black child into our family. We were concerned about heritage and birthright. We wondered how Lola would feel having a black brother, how would they treat her at school? How would he be treated if he were attending a predominately white school? But what we really wanted was a child, a sibling for Lola, a completeness to our family. To sit in a booth at a restaurant. Two to each side!
Black, white, purple, red. He's a glorious boy with the widest, infectious smile. He adores his big sister and has to do everything she does. He has a great sense of humor and squeals when his "Dada" comes home from work. Gibson races our family dog to the front door to see Sean first!

It won't always be the fairy tale it now is. Will he feel he fits in? Will he resent his birth mother and not want that connection? Will he not want any of his cultures or want to deny his heritage? Who will his peers be? For us, for now, we want to celebrate who he is, to maintain his cultures, to support him, to be there for him, to listen, to celebrate who he is, our son.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cafeteria Catholic

I have to admit I am a Wishy Washy Catholic or better yet, A Cafeteria Catholic. I slid my heart and my logical thinking brian along the steel rails and peer over the sneeze guard. What looks good today? How do I feel about myself and God these days?
Interestingly, I think more about Jesus, the saints and Mary more than this "God." The whole Trinity thing is complex. Ok Jesus has Monday and Tuesday. Holy Spirit you can have Wednesday and Thursday and God; Friday, Saturday, and well, because you are God, you have dibs on Sunday.

I grew up in a very strict Catholic family. Rosary after dinner ( I don't really remember how long this lasted.) I just remember feeling odd and embarassed by it and wondering if any of my friends sat around the table with their families doing this? Mass every Sunday and of course the obligatory Holy Days. During Lent we had the cardboard bowl on our table. Operation Rice Bowl. Loose change from fasting during the 40 days of Lent was to be dumped into the bowl and then given to the church. Fasting, Almsgiving, Confession. All those big scary things a kid tries to wrap their wee intelelect around.

I remember giving up chocolate or trying to be nicer to my brothers or more helpful around the house. On Good Friday we would spend quiet time reflecting on the Passion of Jesus. For as long as I can remember that Friday was always dark and gloomy, inside the house and outside. I'm lounging on my bed, picturing the curtain in the sanctuary being torn in half, his Mother at his feet, those around Him realizing what they had done. Heavy stuff.

In college I stopped going to Mass. I thought for myself and was quite content being a "former" Catholic. It's not that I stopped believing, it's more like I wanted my independance, a tempting of fate, having no lightning bolts crashing upon me. I was lazy, sleeping in, wrapped in the arms of the man I was falling in love with.

That was then this is now. I took a path of self discovery and was re directed back to that path in some unexplainable supernatural ways. For now I can say there were voices involved and a gold rosary and a missing Miraculous Metal that found its way onto my bathroom rug after dissapearing several years earlier.

For the past 15 years I go to Sunday Mass. I participate in the Sacraments. Hell, I even venture to confession every so often (more so, than often.) My husband does not understand confession. He wonders what on earth I could possibly have done to warrant telling a priest. I won't say he's anti Catholic, he just is uncomfortable with organized religions in general. He's a great guy because he understands how important my beliefs are to me. He likes the person I am. Both of our kids are baptized Catholic. Though Sean says he doesn't want them believing in heaven and hell. These are battles yet to be fought.

I'm not a bible thumper, nor do I jugde others for their beliefs. I think there's room for discussion and I've always been open to other ideas and challenges. I'm not perfect and no one confuses this testament!!!!! I get pissed off pulling out of the church parking lot after Mass if someone cuts me off in traffic! While sitting in church I wonder what I'll make for dinner that night.

I know what's comfortable for me...... Maybe I should dive a little deeper into this and find a level not so comfortable, stretch myself a bit more. I want my kids to learn compassion, empathy, and charity. I want my kids to understand why Dad doesn't go to church. I think it's OK that his views are different from mine. We've had an amazing 20 plus years together, 11 of those in marital bliss (after he agreed to step into a Catholic Church to make it official!!!)

I'll leave you with a quote that pretty much sums it up for me "God; The more you chase him, the more you catch him."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Is It OK To Hate My Vacuum?

I absolutely loath the new canister vacuum I bought last week!!!! I've had a Dirt Devil Upright for the past ten years and really had no complaints about it. Last weekend we were having some friends over for appetizers and drinks so I lugged out the ole girl to banish the dog hair and lonely remnants of Goldfish Crackers under the sofa.

I noticed the vacuum was spitting out small stones and grit instead of eagerly eating my fine tapestry of dog hair woven into my foyer rug. I unplugged it and turned it over to see if something had lodged into the beater bars. That's when I noticed all the bar bristles were gone, absolutely worn aways by years of use. CRAP!!!!!!

I had yet to whip up my crab cakes and make my crust for my blue cheese and onion tart. Company would be at the front door in under four hours!!!!! I wound the cord along the back of the vacuum and also noticed various spots where Newman had been chewing on it!!! He suffers from occasional chewing fits in the middle of the night (that only my highly attuned ears seem to hear!) and will sample rug fringe, cords from our wooden blinds and winter scarves not put in the hallway closet.

The vacuum had become a bit of a fire hazard I sadly thought. Now she'd given up the ghost and buying a new one was the last thing I felt like doing before guests arrived. In desperation I pulled out a smaller stick model and did the best I could. Thank God for lots of candles and mood lighting!

Last week Gibby and I drove to Target in search of another vacuum. I had done lots of research from consumer's posts and decided on a canister version this time. Prices ranged from high $500 for Dyson models to about $100 for a Dirt Devil canister model. I chose the Eureka Sideswept? Windswept? Sidesweep? We were in and out of Target in under an hour and $150 later. OK, I also picked up a cute Valentine shirt for Lola and socks for Gibby.

I must admit after putting Gibby down for his nap I was a bit giddy opening the box. My Christmas morning excitement turned sour as I pulled out the plastic red pieces. Wow, was it flimsy and cheap looking. I pieced it together and looked down doubtfully at it in its hooker red tawdriness. It had a bag instead of the dirt canister which I thought I might like this time, not emptying the dirt and breathing in all the residue. The compartment for the bag was small at best and I hadn't thought about the extra cost and pain in the ass of having bags on hand. Buyer's remorse was setting in.

After popping it together I plugged it in. Much quieter than my upright. It did suck up the dog hair, I plowed little carpet furrows back and forth, pleased with the suction. Several minutes into the job the hose kinked up, and kinked up again and again!!!! Stupid hose doesn't swivel from the canister base! I had to rely on picking up the base to unkink it and I cursed the design! The canister handle or grip or the pick up thingy was UNDER the front of the canister!!!!!! The plug wouldn't stay in the outlet and the cord could have been several feet longer.

Oh, I loathe this vacuum. I dug the box back out of the recycling and I'm repackaging it and taking it back!!! After I post my consumer thoughts about this model, I'll probably buy another Dirt Devil Upright; if they still make them, and it won't be the color red!!!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Let Go

Lola has quite the temper. She's incredibly verbal, leaps beyond her peers when it comes to expressing her displeasure. We've taught her it's OK to be angry about something and to say such, but we don't want to be willing participants in her physical and verbal meltdowns. We tell her to go to her room until she's ready to calmly join the family.

Last night she was telling Sean about some Looney Tunes Tweety Bird cartoon. I guessed he hugged her a bit too tight (poor neglected child) and she had a huge raging fit. "Daddy stop it!!! You're squeezing too too hard!!!!!!" Then like a whirling dervish she spun out of control and her whole body became red, fierce, and ridged. Her hands clenched into fists and tears were pouring down her face. She stomped out of the computer room, frightening Gibson and causing him to cry too.

"I'm so angry!" Sean and I looked at each other a bit bewildered. Gibson ran over to Lola and was petting her arm. Poor Daddy. I asked Lo what was wrong. She said Daddy always hugs too tight. I said Daddy works all day and doesn't have the luxury to spend as much time as he'd like to with her during the week. I told her he was showing his affection and was so glad to see her after a long day at work.

"Some days I'm just cranky OK! I'm having a hard day!" That was fine. It was the throwing of toys and pillows onto the floor from the sofa that I wouldn't tolerate. "Lola, picture your anger like a red balloon and hold out your hand." I gave her the imaginary balloon to hold. "Don't let go or it will float up to the ceiling and pop!" "What happens when it pops?" "That's when you let go of your anger." Lola said "then you hold it." I told her it was her anger and she was in charge of letting it go.

She told me I was silly and she let go of her imaginary anger balloon. "I need to go tell Daddy a secret, you stay here." She and Daddy made up over a bowl of microwave popcorn and more Bugs Bunny.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Have and Have Nots

I was scanning the local newspaper last night. Sean and I were unwinding from our days with a glass of wine. His days spent fighting The Suits and managing a staff feeling the despair of January and pep talking them into wrangling every penny out there to maintain every one's jobs. It really does come down to that. Budgets have to be met and exceeded. Everyone is being pushed harder and harder to squeeze what blood is left under that stone. My days are spent managing the home. Kids, cleaning, errands, groceries, cooking, finances, the usual Goddess stuff.

We're enjoying our second glass of Malbec as I turn the newspaper page. "Apple unveils iPad tablet-for $499!!!!!! The 3G models will sell upward to $829!!!!!! Who the hell would shell out that kind of money?????? Lots of people I guess. Supply and demand maybe? There are those that love these types of toys. Is it a must for a tech geek? A must for a busy professional? I love gadgets, but honestly don't even know my own cell phone number. I've not even bothered to learn how to set up my voice mail.

Adjacent to that story "Food aid falling short in Haiti." There was an AP photo of a woman in Port-au-Prince making round swirl patterns in the mud on a brick sidewalk. The photo was beautiful. A shadow of a woman falling over these repetitive concentric designs. In the corner of the photo was a skeletal dog sniffing the ground. I read the caption "Made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening, these cookies were already one of very few options for the poorest in Haiti even before the earthquake." COOKIES? I looked at the photo again. This woman was baking cookies on the hot road. Cookies made of dirt!!!!!!!

My friend and I were discussing tragedy, earthquakes, floods, famine. We were sharing the idea that it's almost heartless to go about your daily business knowing so many suffer around you. Sean and I were wondering where to go for holiday this summer with the kids. We thought of a Disney cruise or maybe Club Med in the Dominican Republic. For the four of us with airfare...about 6-7 thousand dollars.

How do I balance all that I have when there is such a gap between the have and have nots? I sent money to the Haiti relief. It wasn't much, but I had to do something. We're thinking seriously about fostering a Haitian child and we've made some contacts. Some days it's too much for me to bear, watching CNN and seeing those children wandering the streets with a dead look in their eyes. If it is too much for me, how must it be for those trapped, homeless, orphaned, destroyed, torn apart?

So much of this misery happens here, in the States everyday, happens in our neighborhoods, on our own streets. We've decided not to do a big expensive vacation this year. We are going to visit Sean's brother in Maryland and spend time at the beach, getting too much sun, laughing lots, eating great food and sharing ourselves with family.

The most I can do is give to others when I can. Donate food to local pantries, hold the door for someone coming out of the gym, let someone go ahead of me in the grocery store line, not get pissed off when I let a car out in front of me and they don't wave a thank you. I need to remember to pray more, to count my blessings, to love my husband and kids more and more, to have patience, to just slow down and take each day as it comes, as it's meant to be....a gift.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Horse Walks Into A Bar...

I received a letter today from a former friend. I recognized the handwriting immediately. I've been thinking about her and how our relationship ended. She must have read my mind. She and I used to do that frequently, ending each other's sentences, saying something completely loony, out of the ball park as the other was thinking it. A kind of Johnny Carson, Carnac the Magnificent...but we were always on the same page, always.

We met at work. I immediately liked her. She had this head down, mop of hair in the eyes demeanor. She liked me too, which made me adore her even more. I had heard stories about her before she was hired. A manager had known her for 20 years and they were friends. I heard about her horrific childhood and how she became a ward of the state. I heard about the foster homes she had been in, and the abuse physical and mental she endured. She ran away often and had an alcohol problem. I almost felt cheated of a true friendship in those early stages. I knew so much about her, before she had a chance to tell her own story, in her own words.

From the moment I met her, drama was her second skin. Her mother was a pill popping, wisp of a woman who always needed money or her electric would be shut off. She had various doctors who "pitied" her and would in kind write prescriptions on a whim. Her mom phoned the store saying she had run over a garbage can on her way to the liquor store. At least she thought it was a garbage can. Her side view mirror was missing. I can't remember if the police were involved, but we all were.

She was so eager to be loved and to love. A double edged sword. She chose women to date. Over the past decade I knew her, she had three loves of her life, "this is the one" experiences. The first girlfriend I was introduced to was a tall brunette maybe 8 years older than Lee. They had been together for several years and already had a tumultuous "can't live without you or I'll die" union. Another story relayed to me, was the girlfriend was so angry at someone that she literally shit on that person's front porch. If I remember, there were accusations the girlfriend was cheating, and always had.

The second girlfriend was friends with some of Lee's other friends. They moved fast and furious and had an apartment together with in a few weeks. I had them over for dinner to get to know Barb. She clung onto Lee in a possessive, dog pissing on territory kind of way that made me uncomfortable. She was sullen and guarded during the dinner. Lee told me Barb didn't like me and was jealous of our friendship. There were so many warning signs, red flags we all saw. We would console her, give her advice, shake our heads and whisper.

Why do we choose the friends we choose? Usually we make friends with people we work with, an almost forced social situation. You learn to like, admire, or not tolerate certain people. It's a romance, a falling in love period. It's sharing intimate details and secrets. It's letting those know what makes you tick. It's being your most vulnerable, naked to that person.

My hesitation is letting someone know all of me. Maybe I don't want them to know my secrets, my quirks, my hangups? I don't want to reveal all of myself. Maybe this is why I don't have lots of friends. It is such hard work and I am quite selfish and greedy.

I ended my friendship with Lee because she let me down when I needed her most. I won't go into the gory details other than to say I was discriminated against at my former job and took my employer to court. She promised me she would go to bat for me. She had vital information and offered her full support. I dared not ask her, she offered, and I greatly wanted and needed her deposition.

As my lawyer and I were readying our paperwork, Lee panicked and backed out. She phoned me and with lots of pregnant pauses in our conversation could not bring herself to say she was scared. I was the one that said "You're not going to help me are you?" She asked if I was mad at her. I said no, just disappointed. That was over three years ago. I often think of her and her dogs, and the haphazard way she lived her life. I won my case, but lost my job and people I thought were my friends.

My husband asked "Well, do you want her back in your life again?" I'm not sure how to answer that question. I don't miss the sadness in her life. I don't miss the drama and the people who used her up and wanted more and more. I do have a handful of fun, carefree, wheezy laughter moments but maybe not enough to flesh out what I thought was our friendship.

I have yet to reply to her letter.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Michelle Has Left the Building

I'm back. I can't explain why I've been away. I feel pulled in so many directions as of late. Remember the Sit 'N Spin toy? The round saucer base with the middle wheel and you climbed on and spun yourself around and around. Used to be fun. That's how I feel, but without that giddy kid "WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" at the end.

Maybe it's the post, now the holidays are over blues. The tree has been down and the new toys are upstairs in the kid's rooms. January feels well, like flavorless, stale, dirty snow January. I'm not sure why I'm booo hoooing. Let's make a list of crappy and not so crappy things lolling around in my upper hemisphere...

1. Every day passed is another day closer to Spring!

2. Every day passed is another day I've not scrubbed out the tub. Sure, I squeegee the walls down then follow with a spritz of vinegar and a good scrub. Yes I coat the tub liberally with Lysol's Scrubbing Bubbles, like readying a bake pan eagerly anticipating chocolate batter. It's that I can't commit to getting on my knees and really scrubbing with a brush! I will admit, some days it's just easier to close the door.

3. OK I'm bored with this numerical list, so I am going to just free form.

We all know about Haiti. The devastation is immense and overwhelming to me. I can't bear to watch CNN coverage anymore or see those children's faces. I contacted our adoption agency who became like family to us when we adopted Gibson. Sean and I talked about taking in a Haitian child, just to foster for however long we could. From what I've learned it's practically impossible to just get a child out of the country. There is no infrastructure, and an impossible single strip runway. There's the paperwork and legality behind fostering one of these children too. Many of the families won't be accounted for for weeks, months. In their culture, if possible, the children are then taken into relatives care. It seems like such a simple idea, send us an orphaned child and we will care for them as long as needed.

I then thought of the American families who were in the process of adoption before the earthquake. All the paperwork gone, lost. There are families so in love with these children already and may never see their families completed. Sadly, these children may not have survived. Pray Pray Pray.

Life continues, HAS to continue here. With all the loss and sorrow I still think about MYSELF!!! I've put on a few pounds over the past several months. It's pathetic I know, but a crushing blow to my self esteem and wardrobe. I'm a sniveling mess wrapped in brie and bacon. The pathetic meter is on overload!!

I just ordered Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I've always been a Julia fan, watching the show with my mom. Yes, I saw Julie and Julia. Meryl Streep genius in the role. Amy Adams, not a big fan. What the movie did do, and has done for many is put a flame to the pan for love of french cuisine. It really is a gorgeous book and many of the recipes I eagerly savor. I am a happy house wife when I'm all Zen like in my kitchen.

I've gone back to the Y. I've joined the masses of New Year Enthusiasts with their virginal squeaky sneakers and Rah Rah attitude. Thank God for iPods. I do like exercising and with it the sweating. Besides aching abdominals I get a sense of accomplishment. I then reward myself with a lovely basket of fish and chips drowned in malt vinegar.

Lately I'm feeling overwhelmed with parenting. I snap a bit too frequently at my kids and when they duck, my husband's head ends up on the platter. I need a hobby, better yet, I need to work again! I dreamt last night I opened up my own catering business and made mountains and mountains of Chicken Marsala with Marscapone cheese, Dijon mustard and mushrooms. I was just adding the fresh thyme when I heard Gibson cry in his sleep.

I really have nothing to complain about. My kids are fantastic, loving little beings who want the simplest of things from me; my attention. I'm able bodied, strong in mind and heart. I think I'll make my husband a fantastic meal of lamb chops in browned sage butter, mixed greens and butternut squash soup tonight. At the end of the day I'm truly happy we're together, the four of us. Pretty simple, as it should be.