Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Z at the beach


She's less sure of the water than B.  I remember him being afraid of the waves when he was little too, so I bet she'll love it when she's bigger too.

 
 

Monday, December 21, 2009

B loves the beach

I think he inherited this from me.  That's odd, seeing as how M grew up by the beach and loves the mountains beyond all else.  And I grew up with the mountains, but feel more at home at the beach than anywhere else.  B seems to have the beach thing going on:

B at the beach

Yes, it's been a criminally long time since I updated the blog.  While we were on vacation my job somehow exploded, and I found myself cramming for a whole week for a big presentation, then flying off to Pennsylvania to deliver it last week.  But now I'm on Christmas vacation, so I'll be catching up.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Two years ago today

B and I were at home on a gloomy Monday afternoon.  I was feeling pretty down, in spite of the fact that my 40th birthday party two days earlier had been a raging good time.  I was blue because I'd been told back in September by our agency to expect our referral off the next list, yet three months had gone by without that phone call.  I'd finally cracked the Friday before, and asked M to call the agency.  They told him they were sorry to let us down, but we'd have to wait for the next list afterall.  It would probably come in January or February.  So I was at the very bottom of the lowest part of our adoption wait.  I'd ridden the rollercoaster -- the high of turning in our dossier, the gradual descent as the realization of how long we'd really wait began to sink in, a gradual climb that began when we turned in our medical conditions checklist, another descent as the promised six-month wait stretched to a year, then the dizzying height of excitement when I heard we'd be next.  Then crash.  Down to the bottom with that Friday phone call between M and the agency.

So back to Monday, December 3, 2007...the phone rang at 3:55pm.  Coincidentally, this is the same time of day B had been born, three years and 344 days earlier.  I saw "Chinese Children" in caller ID, and before I even picked up, I knew.  In spite of the fact that the Friday before, they'd told us we'd have to wait another few months, I knew this was The Call.  And it was. 

Hello? (playing dumb) 
Hello, is this J? 
Yes. (still playing dumb)
This is D with CCAI.
Oh hi, D.  How are you?  (How dumb can I play?  At this point, I was afraid that any hint of excitement or anticipation in my voice would jinx it, and it would turn out to be just some routine call, asking for another bit of paperwork.)
Well, I'm calling to tell you about your daughter.

From this point on, the conversation is mostly a blur.  I grabbed a scrap of paper and scribbled down a few things.  Her name.  Her birth date.  Her medical condition.  Her province.  D promised to email photos to me at home and M at work in the next few minutes.

I called M's office, and it went to voicemail.  I called his cell phone, and it went to voicemail.  Nearly hysterical, I called the receptionist, cited a "family emergency," and demanded that she page him.  He picked up, and the news just poured out of me.  I'm sure I made very little sense.  We opened the email at the same time, M in his office, B on my lap in front of our home computer.  And this is what we saw:



Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Leaving on a jet plane

We're off to visit M's mom, aka Nana, aka Banana, bright and early tomorrow morning.  Look out Virginia Beach, here we come!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Continent house


B has been studying the continents at school and has decorated our house with his school work.  "At least it's better than incontinent house," the UPS guy told me the other day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

So I married a comedian

I was telling M a few nights ago that I sometimes don't like to brush my teeth before I go to bed.  If I've already gotten all sleepy, the extreme minty-ness of my toothpaste is a stimulant of sorts.  I don't WANT to wake up when I'm all snuggled in my bed with visions of sugarplums dancing in my head.  My solution to this problem is simple:  brush my teeth earlier in the evening, before I get all sleepy.  M had another thought though:  I should try a new flavor of toothpaste, something less invigorating.  I asked "like what?" and he said, "Well, it would probably have to be pinot grigio."

Monday, November 16, 2009

So proud of my B!

B was selected by his teacher to be a student ambassador. Two kids are picked from each class (the other ambassador from B's class is one of his two best friends, Joel). According to the permission slip I just signed, B will "develop leadership skills through representing the school at two evening events in the next two months, serving as an interview candidate for articles and photos submitted to local publications, and serving as a host and tour guide during new student visits in the spring."

This Wednesday, he and Joel have decided to wear ties when they lead parents on tours of the school before the school's "Share the Vision" night. We're going necktie shopping after school tonight!

I shouldn't really be surprised that he was selected, given how our first parent-teacher conference went last month. His teacher told me that he is far ahead of all the other students in the class in math, and she believes he is gifted in both math and language. I'm so glad we chose this school for him! I think the attitude of the school and the Montessori approach will really help him both do well in and enjoy school.

So please pardon my boasting, but I am just so proud of that kid that I could explode!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Next F00d Network star?


Guess who made dinner last Tuesday?  I'll give you a hint:  it wasn't me.  We switched our schedules around a few weeks ago b/c B didn't like before-care, and now I don't get home until 6 or 6:30.  But it wasn't M either.  It was B!  He asked if he could make dinner, and ended up making a plate full of sandwiches.  Some were PB&J, some were PB&H (honey), and some were PB&J&H.  M helped him cut them up, and he served them family-style.  He kept putting pieces on my plate, saying "You HAVE to try this one.  It's delicious!"  He was so proud.  And they were delicious!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween

What a sugarfest!  We've had to peel the kids off the ceiling and tie them down to their beds to get them off their sugar highs these past two days.  Just kidding.  Kind of.

It's been party-city around here.  Z's preschool is too PC to observe ANY holidays (sad), but B's school had a costume parade on Friday.  We went from there to another costume parade at M's work, and from there to a family bowling night sponsored by B's school, where there was yet another costume parade.

On the big day itself, we went to a Halloween party at a neighbor's house, then I took the kids trick-or-treating while M rushed home to hand out candy to all three kids that rang our doorbell.  It was a beautiful night -- the best trick-or-treating weather I can remember since B was born.  There was a nearly-full moon, and the temperature was in the 50s.  Most neighbors even shoveled all that snow off their sidewalks for the kids!


B went as Luke Skywalker (of course), and Z was a chicken, thanks to Lisa, whose Emme wore this adorable chicken costume last year.  A friend of M's suggested he should've gone as Colonel Sanders.  He hangs out with some sickos.

In the past, we used to hold onto B's candy & dole it out 2-3 pieces a night, after a good dinner had been eaten.  Last year we decided to put him in charge, with a few ground rules like no candy before breakfast.  It was gone in about a week.  We decided to go with that again.  Think about it -- even if some of the candy mysteriously disappears overnight (which we couldn't pull over on B anymore -- he knows there are exactly 78 pieces of candy in that pumpkin), if you dole it out 2-3 pieces a night, you have Halloween candy in the house until Christmas, when new candy enters.  You dole that out, and next thing you know, it's Valentine's Day.  Then there's Easter (which everybody knows offers THE BEST CANDY OF THE YEAR!!!).  You end up with candy every night for six months.  That's a habit folks! 

So we laid out the four following ground rules.  Inside of these, the monkeys can consume as much candy as they want to, whenever (although the volume in Z's pumpkin is going to be mysteriously cut in half overnight tonight -- I'll be eating candy at work all week).  The rules are:

1. No candy between waking up & eating breakfast.
2. No candy during the hour before dinner.
3. No candy wrappers anywhere but the trash can.
4. Candy must be kept on a shelf inside the closet, with the door shut, when not being actively consumed (think of the damage Kenai could do with a 78 pieces of candy)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sunrise, day before the storm

October 28 sunrise

Snow day

October 2009 snow

We woke up this morning to nearly a foot of snow on the ground.  Actually, we woke up at 5:30, when the automated call from the school district told us that schools would be closed for the day.  Then we went back to sleep, and by the time we got up around 7:00, the snow was starting to pile up.  It's closer to two feet now I think, and still snowing hard.  Who knows how much we'll have by the time it's moved on tomorrow?  I'm trying not to think about it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bad dream

I had nightmare after nightmare last night (I think the stress of being trapped in the house with a bunch of sick people is getting to me).  I'll keep the scary serial killer ones to myself and share just this one with you:

I dreamed that the Brazilian National Symphony played for B's birthday.  Why Brazil?  Does Brazil even have a national symphony?  I have no idea.  B sat there sullenly throughout the performance, which I found rather embarrassing in my dream.  Then at the end of their performance, they played a rousing rendition of "Happy birthday to you," at the end of which B folded his arms across his chest and yelled out "LA-AME!"  How humiliating.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

House of plague

B has been sick since Friday night, with what turns out to be H1N1.  Then less than an hour after returning home from the urgent care visit that confirmed the diagnosis, Z came down with a fever.  She doesn't seem to feel bad at all yet, but poor B is hurting.  He's burning up with fever, 103 even with drugs on board, and has a scary hacking cough.  The doctor said his lungs sounded good though, so apparently the cough is not as scary as it sounds.  This afternoon he started complaining that his legs & his head ache.  The poor little dude.  There's really nothing we can do but keep drugs in him & keep him drinking fluids.  I'll call Z's doctor in the morning, since her age puts her in the high-risk group.  Maybe she'll luck out & they'll give her antivirals. 

Let's hope M and I can hold out.  I don't know what we'll do if all four of us are as sick as B is right now, all at the same time!  At least now that debate over whether or not to vaccinate the kids for H1N1 is moot.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hello Ireland!

Where are you all coming from?  Do leave a comment to say hello please.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A painful issue brings up hard questions

A giant controversy is brewing in the China adoption community.  More and more evidence is coming to light that corruption is deeply embedded in China's international adoption program.  Read more about it here.  It's not a new story -- here's one from 2005.  It's not limited to U.S. media either.  It's actually been a bigger story inside China, with U.S. papers just now picking it up months after it came out there.  For good background on the issue, read the September 30, 2009 entry here.  Yes, I know he's controversial, and I often have doubts about his research methodology, but he's far from the only person beating this drum.  I think we have to pay attention to what he is saying.

Back in late 2005 and early 2006, the Chinese government managed to convince the rest of the world that baby-buying was an isolated incident involving a handful of corrupt orphanage directors, not a widespread problem.  It is beginning to appear that this was not the truth.  It is beginning to appear that it is common practice in many parts of the country for orphanages to pay for babies, and that it has been common for quite some time.  It happens in different ways.  Sometimes babies are stolen outright and sold to orphanages.  Horrific.  Sometimes family planning officials forcibly remove babies from their parents because the parents have exceeded their one/two-child quota.  Again, horrific.  In other cases, orphanages hire "finders" who spread the word that they are willing to pay for healthy babies.  This is slightly less horrific, since it obviously allows someone in a child's birth family to make a choice of sorts.  But is it really a choice?  If the finder's cash payment weren't an option, would the birth family keep the child?  Would they find a family member, neighbor or friend to raise the child if they couldn't afford to themselves?  Is it any easier for a Chinese woman to hand her newborn baby to a stranger, knowing she'll never see her again, than it would be for YOU to do it?  Of course not.

Then there's China's one-child policy (not actually one child in all cases, but let's call it that because it's a simpler phrase than something more accurate would be).  The fines for having a child beyond your family's quota can amount to three years' salary for some families.  If the child in question is beyond quota, how many families can afford to pay the fines?  There aren't any payment plans.  And hiding an over-quota child is not feasible for most families either.  That child could not receive medical care or go to school.  Upon reaching adulthoold, that child would not be able to get a job or a home.  The policy is truly the villain in this story.  It puts Chinese families in unthinkable positions and forces choices that no parent should ever face.  But the policy is not something that we have the power to change, and it is unlikely to change soon.

I think abandonment still happens in China, but it is much less common than it was a decade ago.  I think it most often happens now with single mothers who really don't have a chance to parent their child given the norms of modern Chinese society, and with children who have special needs that are visible at birth.  Again, these parents simply don't have a chance to parent their children, given widespread poverty and the lack of a social safety net in China.  But Chinese families are wealthier than they were a decade ago, and attitudes toward baby girls are changing.  I just don't think that healthy babies are abandoned as often as they used to be.

I'm astounded at the China adoption community's response to this story.  Many are enraged that the media is talking about it.  They seem to be fearful that it will end China's international adoption program, thereby depriving them of the child they've been waiting for.  I understand the heartbreak of the wait; we waited too, although not nearly as long as some will wait.  I can understand how devastating it would be to see your dream of adopting from China come to an end.  But really, would you knowingly enter into an adoption if you had reason to believe these stories were true?  That your child may have been stolen from her parents and sold to an orphanage?  Or that her parents willingly gave her up for money?  I would not.  That is precisely why we discarded Guatemala as an option for our family.  I would not knowingly be a party to this sort of corruption.

Others in the community simply discard this story as lies.  Perhaps it's not true; we don't have conclusive proof afterall.  But it is certainly beginning to look as if it could be true.  How is it helpful to anyone to bury your head in the sand and pretend like it's not happening?  If you already have adopted Chinese children at home, don't you think that someday they will hear about this?  They'll find it on the Internet when they're older, or worse, someone will say something stupid in the grocery store or on the playground, and they'll hear about it that way.  Don't you think you should be as educated as you can be, so that you can have a thoughtful and honest conversation with your child?

And adoption agencies continue to spoon-feed us stories of orphanages full of abandoned babies who need homes.  Are they lying to us, or do they believe it?  If they believe it, should they?  Don't they of all people have an obligation to know what's going on in China, so they can inform their families?

Other questions I'm struggling with include my own unwitting role in this story.  Did I perpetuate this sort of corruption by adopting from China?  Am I obligated to initiate a conversation with Z about this at some point in the future when she is emotionally mature enough to understand it?  Or do I wait until she discovers it to have the conversation?  And have I made it inevitable that she will discover it by blogging about it?  And how on Earth do I talk about this with her in a manner that is sensitive yet honest?

Speculating about Z's history is simply to painful for me to even get into just yet.  I derive minimal comfort from the thought that her special need may have been recognizable from birth, leading her parents to abandon her in a safe place so that needs they couldn't afford to tend to could receive medical care.  But I have a huge amount of soul-searching to do before I can begin to answer any of these questions and begin to contemplate Z's own story.

This is terribly painful for me.  This is something that was not entirely off my radar screen while we were in the adoption process, since the Hunan story broke while we were doing our dossier, but I believed what I read.  I believed that Hunan was an isolated case of corruption.  I believed that abandonment was an ongoing problem in China.  I believed that thousands of children were waiting in orphanages and had little chance of finding families if families like mine did not adopt.  That orphanage care was by definition worse than being adopted by a family of a different nationality and race.  I don't think I could have gotten deeply enough into these issues before we adopted to see them as I do now.  They are infinitely more complex than I could have known.  Somehow, when the child was still an abstraction, these issues remained somewhat abstract too.  It is also true that it has taken me years to discover how many resources are truly available to adoptive parents, and I continue to discover new ones all the time.

I struggled about whether or not to blog about this.  Obviously I lean toward the idea that I do have an obligation to talk to Z about this someday, or I wouldn't have done it.  The bottom line to me is this:  we, as adoptive parents and future adoptive parents, have an obligation to learn as much about this as we can.  We need to discuss, analyze and debate it among ourselves, so that we can talk about it with our kids someday.  I think they will hear about it one way or another, and they will come to us for answers.  We also need to resolve our own internal dilemmas, and maybe even guilt, over this issue.  That is the road I am headed down now.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

All dressed up



to go out to dinner for Mid-Autumn Festival with the neighbors.  We went out for Chinese, of course.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Crime scene

Chalk kids
I convinced the kids to let me outline them with chalk yesterday. B then made them anatomically correct. That little scribble at the top of his chalk-head is his brain, or so he says.

Inquiring minds want to know


B has been asking me some heavy questions lately. "If the first person on Earth was a baby, how did it get here without a mommy and daddy? Or if a mommy or daddy was first, didn't they have to be a baby before they were grown up? So then how did they get here?"

We talked a little bit about God, what different people and religions think about God and how people got to be on Earth. And we talked a little bit about evolution. But he's curious. And smart. Scary smart.

I think it's time to start taking B to church. Seeing as how I'm such a dirty hippie, it's going to have to be the Unitarian Church. Here is the description of our local UU church's Sunday school program for kindergarteners & first-graders:
"A Discovering Year nurtures children’s spiritual and religious growth through connections to their ever-widening environment. They explore selves, friendships, families, church, nature, and religious and cultural days. Through ritual, sharing times, quiet times, crafts, activities, singing and music, games and movement, stories and talks, they learn to appreciate the worth of each person, to work and play cooperatively, to express feelings, to celebrate human diversity, and to feel part of their UU community."
I hope this will help B start searching for answers to his Big Questions. It will also help me feel part of a community I'll enjoy, since I can go to services while he's in Sunday school. I just hope the church doesn't spontaneously burst into flame when I set foot inside...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Funny girl

Last night we were eating dinner at a restaurant when a man came in wearing an Elmo shirt. Yes, a grown man. In his defense, he was carrying a gift and went to a table where a family with a boy who looked about four-ish was seated, so I'm assuming he wore it to please the birthday kid. Maybe not. Maybe he's just weird, or maybe he's very cheap & found it in the 'donate' bin at church or something.

Anyway, Z took one look at this guy and spontaneously burst into song:

"la-laa la-la, la-laa la-la, Elmo shirt, Elmo shirt!"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Not feeling the love

I have not had the energy to blog lately. I've had a little run of bad luck, and it's had me down. I'll spare you the gory details, but the bullet-points version goes something like this:
  • Somebody slammed into my parked car on 9/19 (I was not in it at the time, so nobody got hurt).
  • The dumbass tow truck driver hauled it to the body shop by the back end, thereby burning out the transmission.
  • Thanks to the transmission damage, the insurance company declared my car a total loss last week.
  • They're only giving me about $8000, which is not nearly enough to buy a car that I feel safe driving my kids around in.
  • So we're looking at used Subarus, with a $10-12,000 auto loan in our very near future.

To top it all off, I fell down on a trail run a couple days after the accident and banged myself up quite nicely, and now I seem to have acquired a nasty cold that today migrated down to my chest and has lodged itself quite solidly there. And I got an email for Z's preschool director saying that there's a confirmed case of flu in her classroom. They're not saying for sure that it's H1N1, but since 90% + of all cases of influenza A are turning out to be H1N1 in Colorado this fall, the odds are good that it is. Oh, goody. I know two families where the entire family has come down with it together. Wouldn't that be fun? Especially with a nice chest cold going to start me off on the right foot.

There have been some glimmers of happiness in all my gloom, like the visit I made to my sister last weekend to snuggle the twinitos and my big win at the racetrack on Saturday (a whole $9!). Let me get the car buying hassle out of the way, return the craptacular Ford Focus to Enterprise (who, by the way, did NOT pick me up on the day of the accident), and refocus myself, and I'll do a nice sunshine and rainbows blog post with some of the many pictures and videos I've been storing up over the past couple of weeks. Maybe that'll happen on Friday.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Accountability

I barely made my 50 mile goal for the month of August, and only by cranking out a 6.7 mile run on the 31st to get me to 50.7 miles for the month. So I have a new strategy: I'm going to have weekly goals instead of monthly goals. I'm going to gradually build my miles each week, and then "rest" a bit every fourth week.

September's weekly goals:
1. Week of 8/31: 11 miles
2. Week of 9/7: 13 miles
3. Week of 9/14: 14 miles Oops, only 9.5. Bad week. I'll try this again next week.
4. Week of 9/21: 14 miles RATS!  I was almost there.  11 miles with one day left, and I was at sea-level (easy running).  Then I got sick.  Let's hope the third time is the charm.
5. Week of 9/28: 14 miles Sick.
6. Week of 10/5: 14 miles Finally!
7. Week of 10/12:  10 miles  10.5
8. Week of 10/19:  15 miles

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

DO SOMETHING!!

It's time to take action on health care reform.

I'm starting to fear that the public health care option is slipping away. I was not an Obama supporter in the early phase of the primaries specifically because I thought his stance on health care was not strong enough. I also thought he wasn't liberal enough in general, but that's another story. I came around because I thought he had leadership qualities and the ability to inspire people in a way that no other candidate had. Sadly, I'm starting to fear that I made a mistake and my initial feelings about him were right.

The power of right-wing talk radio and Fox "News" is so great that they are able to convince people of things that sound utterly ridiculous if you think about it for even a second. Does anyone REALLY believe that the government would set up "death panels" to decide who gets health care and who doesn't? Or that Obama's health care advisors don't value the lives of the elderly? Please. That's just silly. Why would you believe that? Particularly when there's so much evidence to the contrary. And if those things are not true, why would so many people be going to such great lengths to convince you that they ARE true? What could their motive be? I say they stand to profit in some way by keeping things the way they are. They are profiting, whether directly or indirectly, from the profit-based health care rationing system we currently live with.

They've also managed to convince people that the government won't do a good job of providing health care because government can't do ANYTHING right. Again, give me a break! Here's a list of just a half-dozen or so things the U.S. government does well. Big things. And I owe my dad (a lifelong Republican) thanks for helping me think of some of these.
1) The government doubled the size of the country with the Lousiana Purchase.
2) The government thought up and executed the Homestead Act, without which most of us wouldn't own property or a home today (and if you don't think the Homestead Act was socialism, go get a dictionary and check the definition!).
3) The government will come to your house, pick up a letter, and for $0.44, deliver it to the opposite coast, 2,500 miles away, in just a few days. And surprise! The U.S. Postal Service has not put UPS and FedEx out of business yet (the postal equivalents of private health insurance companies in this analogy).
4) The government built and maintains the interstate highway system.
5) Who do you think it is that answers the phone and sends an ambulance to your house in a matter of minutes when you're hurt or threatened? The government.
6) And I suppose you think the U.S. military sucks too. What?! You don't? You think it's the greatest military force on the planet? Oh. That's interesting. And who do you think runs the military? Ah, right. The government.
7) Speaking of the military, let's take a closer look at that argument that they can't do health care right. The VA health care system and Tri-Care, the health care system for our nation's military, are among the world's best. Who do you think runs those? The government.
8) Social security. No, it's not perfect, but jeez louise! The government sends you a check every month! Do you know what happens in lots of other countries when you get too old to work? Either your kids take care of you, or you die.
9) Medicare. Again, it's not perfect, but I personally know many people who would have died without it. My grandfather was one. Since the same corporations that are against public health care don't want to provide health coverage to their retirees, Medicare is the only option for most elderly Americans. Would you prefer that we got rid of this public option?

Today I sent copies of the letter below to my member of Congress, both my U.S. Senators, and President Obama. If you also feel that a public option is an important part of health care, please, please, write or call President Obama and your members of Congress. Don't send them an email -- a call or an actual letter is much more effective. It shows that you care enough about the issue to take the time to sit down and write a letter, or pick up the phone and talk to someone. Feel free to borrow from my letter if it helps.

Find your member of the U.S. House of Representatives & his/her address here; your two U.S. Senators here; and President Obama's address here (go to the bottom of the page for the mailing address).

JUST DO SOMETHING. Now. Please.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Dear X,

I respectfully ask that you lobby forcefully for health care reform that includes a public option. To me, this is a moral issue. Under our present system of health care, Americans who can afford insurance have no choice but to purchase coverage through for-profit companies. These companies do not exist to provide health care; they exist solely to make a profit for the executives and shareholders. Therefore, the bureaucrats who stand between me and my doctor have a clear motivation to obstruct, ration or deny health care. It is morally wrong that Americans are forced to depend on this profit-motivated system.

Health care reform with a public option will offer Americans a health insurance choice that is not motivated by profit. To me, the fact that it will drive health care costs down by creating more competition among health insurance providers is a secondary benefit. There are, or course, other health care reforms that could and should be made:

1) Insurance companies should not be permitted to deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
2) Insurance companies should be prohibited from dropping coverage when a customer in good standing is diagnosed with an expensive medical condition.
3) The government should be permitted to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for drugs provided under Medicare Part-D.
4) Medical records should be electronic, secure, easily accessible, and fully transportable.
5) Providers should be encouraged to cooperate in providing care, and to provide follow-up care.
6) Most important of all, there must be a public option for health insurance.

Don't let the Republicans stop this critical reform. Those who argue against a public option are either woefully uninformed, or are beholden in some way to the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries. If that means Congress must pass health care reform without Republican votes, so be it. That's a good long-term political strategy anyway -- when the public option is wildly popular and successful, the Republicans will look like obstructionist fools.

I have been a registered Democrat since I turned 18, and I have always voted Democratic. I must tell you, however, that this issue is so critical to me that I will not support a candidate in the 2010 or 2012 elections who failed to forcefully lobby for a public option. My votes and my dollars will go to other candidates in the primary and general elections.

Please, don't let this opportunity slip away. Pass health care reform with a public option!

Sincerely,

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mystery baby


Awww, look at that cute little chubster! I'm told it's remarkable that he was wearing a diaper and not stark naked in this picture. Anyone want to guess who it is?

Monday, August 31, 2009

More twinny goodness

My nephews are now two and a half weeks old, and seem to only get cuter with each passing day (cuteness runs in the family):


I'm not sure about their dad's side, but on our side of the family, the last identical twins were my great grandmother Josie and her sister Mary, born in 1887! Oddly enough, they had twin brothers too, although the brothers were fraternal, not identical.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cheap date

Yesterday afternoon I needed to return a couple things at the outlet mall, so all four of us went. As we were strolling from one store to the next, a childcare place caught our eye. Our kids begged and begged to be allowed to go in (they had good toys), and once we discovered their rate was $5/hour for two kids on Saturday nights, we agreed. They even fed them dinner! M and I went to a restaurant at the other end of the mall that had half-price appetizers & drink discounts for happy hour. We shared a plate of calamari & a small pizza, and each had a couple drinks. So for under $50 including childcare, we had date night. At the outlet mall! I'm not proud of that last part, but for $50, you really can't beat it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Worried about BPA?

Did you do what I did a couple years ago? Look for that #7 on the bottom of your water bottles, and discover that nearly every one had it? We ended up buying aluminum bottles from SIGG for everyone in the family. Well, now it's come to light that SIGG bottles also contain BPA. It's in the lining put in all bottles made before August 2008. You can tell when your bottle was made by looking at the lining. If it's a shiny copper, you've got a pre-August 2008 bottle. If it's a dull yellowish color, you're OK.

I'm feeling very irritated about this. Those bottles are expensive! Buying them for a family of four comes close to $100. While SIGG may not have done anything that's actually illegal, like specifically claiming that their bottles were BPA-free, they had to know that the reason their sales shot up suddenly was because people believed this. It feels dishonest to me that they are just now admitting the truth. We bought ours from a co-op with a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee, so I think we're going to try to exchange them all this weekend.

Read the letter from the CEO of SIGG for yourself.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Some pictures

because I know a few people are starting to get the shakes from my lack of posting lately. (Oh yeah, you know who you are!) I'm a little overwhelmed at the moment with Z deep into potty-training resistance (that girl will sit in her own poop for an entire day rather than admit she has to go), being snack mom for 30 kindergarteners in the first full week of kindergarten, trying to figure out my schedule when I have to pick up the kids at two different schools, chronic insomnia (it's my dad's fault) and I forget what-all else. So mostly pictures today!

These are pictures from Miranda's 5th birthday party a couple weeks ago. It was a gymnastics party, and grownups were invited to play too. We did, as you can see. Actually, it looks like only M played, but that's only because I had possession of the camera most of the time. I played too, trust me! You can't keep me off a trampoline!

Both kids in the foam pit -- you ran down a long skinny trampoline then bounced into this. It was awesome, although I have to say it was a lot harder for us grownups to get out of the foam pit than it was for the little monkeys -- they sort of floated on top while we sank to the bottom.



That's the birthday girl in purple:

I busted Z getting into Miranda's makeup after the party: she looks awfully pleased with herself, doesn't she?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Universal health care: a first-hand account

This is a post by a friend-of-a-friend, an American living in Germany. She describes in detail the universal health care available there, and makes some interesting comparisons between the state of health care in Germany and the U.S. It's a good read and should dispel some of the unfounded fears about universal health care that seem to be floating around.

While we're at it, this is a good place to find out whether all the rumors floating around about the proposed government option are true or not. Politifact.com is run by the St. Petersburg Times and won a Pulitzer Prize this year for its investigative reporting in the 2008 election. They do a bang-up job of ferreting out the truth, half-truth and lies in what all sorts of politicians and talking-heads say, and they are completely nonpartisan. They rip President Obama just as often as Sarah Palin!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

B's first day of kindergarten


I dropped B off for his first full day of kindergarten this morning, and it was awful. He was fine right up until he had to go through the door of his classroom, and then he started crying and clinging to me. He had to be literally pulled off me and taken into the room. Of course, all this made me cry too, but I think B was too miserable to notice.

Z and I went down to the parent lounge to wait a few minutes, then went back to peek in to see if he was doing better. He wasn't. All the kids were sitting in a circle, playing a name game, and B was at a table in the back of the room with his head down on his arms, with the head of school talking to him. I waited around until she came out, and she told me that she'd promised him she'd go back later in the morning, and if he was still having a hard time, she'd take him for a walk outside.

He went yesterday for just about two and a half hours, and I guess he cried a little bit then too, but he called me afterward (I was at work) to tell me he "LOVED kindergarten!" I'm hoping today goes the same way.

Poor little dude. Change is hard.



Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunflowers

The kids and I spotted this from the highway on the way up to my mom & dad's last weekend. We had to drive all the way around it, keeping it in view the whole way, in order to get close enough to take a picture without trespassing.


There is nowhere in the world I'd rather be at this time of the year than Colorado.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The amazing B

My creation
Three things B has done this weekend that have blown me away:

1. He figured out how to swim. All four of us went to the pool yesterday, and after years of swimming lessons and a gradually shrinking fear of the water, B is now fearless, and he can swim.

2. He gets multiplication and fractions! This morning, he asked me how long it was until Halloween. I said about two and a half months. It took him all of three seconds to say "So that's ten weeks then?" You could've knocked me over with a feather!

3. He summitted our backyard mountain. He's been taking walks and mini-hikes on it for years, but today, he went all the way to the top with me. I am thrilled that B likes to hike and is developing the stamina for some real hiking, because it's one of my favorite things to do, and of course I'd love to do it with one of my favorite people on earth!

Upcoming amazing feat by B: Kindergarten, starting Wednesday!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friends


The more time goes by, the better B & Z get along with one another. I'm not saying it's perfect -- they are still brother & sister and spats are inevitable -- but they play together much more than they did a year ago, and there are way fewer instances of sibling abuse. B is no longer looking for opportunities to get rid of her, and actually seems to like her most of the time. Z thinks B hung the moon.

I do have to disclose, however, that just about half an hour ago, Z somehow managed to bite B on the chest in the middle of what seemed like a happy game of ring-around-the-rosies. She bit him hard, so hard that it broke the skin. I hope this doesn't lead to antibiotics...Oh yeah, and see that little scab on Z's chin in the photo? That's where B scratched her.

So no, it's not perfect, but they are doing so much better than they were. Anyway, perfection would be boring, wouldn't it?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Twinnalicious


Aren't they just adorable?! It's hard to believe that B was once that tiny. These little guys are almost exactly the same size he was when he was born.

Andrew Tyler was born at 9:55am this morning, and was followed a minute later by his identical twin Samuel Steuart. Both little monkeys are doing well from what I hear, as is my sister. I can't wait to get out there next month and hug them and squeeze them and smell their sweet baby smell!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

STFU or GTFO

UPDATE: This link was just too good to pass up. Or too bad. It's terrifying, is what it is.

This post has been brewing for awhile. This morning Hayley asked me to rein her in before she did an angry post on the teabagging anti-health care tools (from now just to be called "The Tools," because it's a lot easier to type), and I told her I was the wrong woman for that job because I was about to explode too. Fasten your seatbelts...please keep your hands inside the ride at all times...here we go...

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

I don't know who said it -- apparently not Thomas Jefferson, but maybe Howard Zinn? Anyway, it's been thrown around a lot lately by The Tools whenever someone objects to their highly objectionable behavior at the many townhall meetings that have been going on around the country. I happen to agree with this quote, regardless of its source. Dissent is patriotic. Democracy works best when everyone stands up for their own informed opinion [keyword: informed]. I lived by this phrase for eight looooong years as I watched W dismantle our Bill of Rights, engage in an illegal and unjust war, and cut taxes for the richest Americans in order to drive up the deficit in his attempt to kill government. And I respect any person who wants to offer a thoughtful and informed dissent to my opinions. I will listen, I will think about it, and who knows? Maybe I'll learn something or even change my mind. It's been known to happen.

But this is not dissent, it is not patriotic, and it is not democratic. It's rude and disrespectful, not only to the members of Congress who are holding these meetings, but to every person in the audience and every person who has to watch it on the news (like me). It is designed to inhibit the free exchange of ideas and honest questions by people who want thoughtful answers. The Tools are not dissenting; they are preventing dissent. I'll bet you all the money in my savings account (sorry, but it's not that much) that these are the same yahoos who were yelling "Kill him!" and the n-word at McCain-Palin rallies last fall. I know for a fact that at least some of them are the same @$$holes who held those dumb teabagger parties earlier in the spring, because I'm afraid that I'm related to a few of them and get their irrational and hate-filled emails. Or at least I did, until I marked them spam, and now gmail ever-so-kindly delivers them straight to my spam inbox and I never have to see them.

What are The Tools trying to achieve by this disruption? They want to make sure that nobody gets to hear just how sane, rational, affordable, humane and practical a government-sponsored health care option would be. Why don't they want us to hear those details? Because they know we'll like it, and we'll want it, and we'll make sure we get it. So who would be opposed to a government-sponsored health care plan? Uhhhhh, the health insurance companies? That's the obvious answer. They're the ones who stand to lose. A competitive government-run option would be appealing to a lot of people, and I imagine many of them would dump their hella-expensive private insurance that refuses to cover most of their health issues anyway and snap up the government option. I heard a tool on the radio yesterday saying, "We're just ordinary people who don't like this idea. How many health insurance executives or lobbyists do you think there are in those crowds? None." True. They wouldn't want someone to step on their Gucci loafers now, would they? And yet...I found it fascinating that a former insurance executive is organizing and funding The Tools. Read about it yourself here.

Another tidbit I found fascinating, yet perplexing: Obama's health care proposal is least popular among senior citizens. Hmmmm...don't senior citizens have Medicare? What is Medicare? Single-payer government-sponsored health care! GTFO, hypocrites. It's good enough for you, but not for the rest of us? You can have universal government health care, but the rest of us can go without? It reminds me of this. Jon Stewart is brilliant. He actually got ultra-conservative talking head Bill Kristol to admit that the government runs a "first-class health care system" for our military (gasp! a conservative admitted that government-run health works!), but that the rest of us don't deserve it. Tool.

So, you tools of the ultra-right, of the growing American corporatocracy, go home. We don't want you at any more town hall meetings. Some of us actually want to discuss the merits and flaws of universal, government-run health care. We want to hear varying opinions, criticism, praise, and analysis. We want to make up our own minds. We want to have a hand in shaping what eventually comes out of Congress. But we can't hear over all your shouting! In other words, we grownups are trying to have a conversation, and your two year-old hissy fits are preventing it. STFU, or GTFO.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What the....??

At about 1:30 this morning, I woke up to an annoying and insistent sound. I laid there for a few minutes listening before I figured out what it was. "Oh, it's just Kenai playing with his squeaky ball." It stopped and I fell back asleep. But the instant it started again, I sat up in bed, wide awake this time. Unless Kenai had learned to open doors and let himself out (trust me, he's not that smart), something else was playing with his squeaky ball in the backyard.

I got out of bed and tiptoed downstairs. I stood in the dark and looked at the backyard until I saw it: a fox. It jumped up on our fence, walked along the top, then jumped down into the yard behind us.

Who knew a fox would play with dog toys?!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

iRun

Goal #1 was 50 miles in July; I ran 62.1.
Goal #2 was to shave 30 seconds off my pace; I shaved 21 seconds. Since I exceeded goal #1 by 25%, I think I'm OK not quite making it to goal #2.
Goal #3 is to be able to run 10 miles by mid-September. Since I met my secret goal #4 on the last day of July -- run a 10K -- I am feeling optimistic about reaching goal #3.

My August goals:

1. Get faster. I'm going to add one interval run per week to my routine, and hope to cut 24 seconds off my average pace by the end of the month. M swears by this four-minute program he read about: run at your maximum for 20 seconds, then rest 10 seconds; repeat eight times. He says everyone he's read about who tried it got faster. I'll give it a try, but I may die. At least I'll try it on a track, instead of on single-track up the mountain like he did. Nutcase.

2. Continue to keep my miles up. Since I'm really working on speed this month, I'm going to keep the goal for my monthly total at 50 miles.

3. Run another 10K at the end of the month, and run it faster than I did in July. How much faster? I don't care. Just faster.

4. And still aiming to be able to run 10 miles by mid-September.

Friday, July 31, 2009

B & J's excellent adventure, part two

Picking up where we left off...B and I took the train from Philadelphia to just outside Annapolis, MD, to spend the next six days with my sister and her husband. They live on a beautiful horse farm with tons of fun stuff for kids to do.

This is my sister, 34ish weeks pregnant with twins. You can't even tell she's pregnant from behind (that was definitely NOT the case with me -- I had a full-body pregnancy). They're due to be born by scheduled c-section on August 13.

B rode a (very large) horse the first day we were there:
I don't know why he looks so bored in this picture. Honestly, he looked so happy and proud of himself the whole time I saw him up there.

Other critters on the farm:

My sister hates the peacocks. Apparently they've gone rather wild and started breeding out of control, and have a habit of pooping on her roof. I wouldn't like that either, but they are pretty to look at, aren't they?

Sylvie, my sister's elderly (and slightly neurotic) dog


Moo, my BIL's dog. B fell in love with her because she followed him all over the farm, everywhere he went.

A sweet kitty that lived at the neighbor's

One of Bizzy's goats

More horses

Georgia, my sister's first horse, and still her favorite I think


And there were other things to ride besides horses too:




And kids to play with:
B & Bizzy, who must be some sort of cousin to him by marriage, but don't ask me to name that relationship exactly

Jumping on the trampoline at the neighbor boy's house -- they hosted the weekly Tuesday cookout while we were there (wouldn't you love to live in a place where everyone on the road took turns hosting a cookout on summer Tuesday evenings?!)

The clubhouse at the neighbors' place

B and his new buddies entering the clubhouse (I have no idea what was in there; it could've been a chicken coop for all I know)

B & his buddies from the cookout


My brother-in-law's sister (is she my sister-in-law? my sister-in-law-in-law?) is building a straw bale house on the farm, and they've been having mudding parties every Saturday. About 50 people show up every week to help them mud the straw. We dropped by to check it out, but didn't stay to help:





We had a very special visit one day while we were there. Rony from Insane Mommy brought her lovely Abby & Katie over to spend an afternoon with us. Rony and I met online in the run-up to the presidential election last year. We are both part of a very small minority in the adoption community: liberals. As you may remember, I got rather vocal here on the blog last fall when election time rolled around, and Rony and I bonded over that. As it turns out, we had plenty of things besides politics to talk about. She was loads of fun, and I will definitely be looking her up whenever I'm in the DC area.
Rony, her girls, and me. That's B's rear end you can see up at the top of the picture. I don't know why, but he freaked out when we tried to take a picture, and ran away crying. Strange child.

The crazy kids jumping on Bizzy's trampoline; Bizzy had left for the beach the day before, which is too bad, because I think she would've had a blast with these three monkeys.


Sadly, all vacations must come to an end. Here's B on the bus from the airport terminal to our car:


It's good to be home though. I missed M & Z a ton. Z's speech improved tremendously in the 11 days we were gone. Really, it's astonishing. And the gardens are on the verge of taking over the yard, especially the vegetable garden.

It really was an excellent adventure though...