Monday, November 30, 2009
One benefit of NaBloPoMo is that it got me wondering just how close to everyday I could post, and how I might structure postings.
From now on Mondays will be "Mindful Mondays". I'm counting this last day of NaBloPoMo as the first Mindful Monday...
"When our eyes see our hands doing the work of our hearts, the circle of creation is completed inside us, the doors of our souls fly open, and love steps forth to heal everything in sight."
I'm not entirely sure what the work of my heart is yet. I'm pretty sure it involves writing. And being in service. And children.
And paying enough attention to myself to figure out what the work of my heart is and how to walk the path with my eyes and heart open.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
The past 29 days have been really nice. Some of them have been great really. I felt inspired and motivated in ways I haven't in a long time. You have pushed and encouraged me. But the past few days I have felt a distance growing between us. Lately you have been needy. Too dependent. A little wearing. I sense the inevitable end of our relationship will be a necessary step in my evolution and growth. I appreciate all you have given and done for me. I really do. You deserve better than me. Someone that can give you all you deserve. I'm not ready for this level of commitment. Go out and find yourself another girl, NaBloPoMo. I'm all out of love. I wish you the best and should our paths cross again in another place, at another time, I hope we can both look back fondly on this time we've shared.
I wish you nothing but the best,
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Swinging is important. I was planning on giving you some solid information on the benefits of swinging, but when I googled it I came up with some, uh, very different "information". And frankly I'm still too sick to be able to sort through that kind of "information" to find what I'm looking for.
The kids I mean.
Although, what happens between two (or more, in this case) consenting adults is no business of mine.
So swing on, one and all.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Last night Erik helped me to bed. Time over the past 18 hours has run together in the way it will when one is so ill they are confined to bed and labored walks to the bathroom. I lay in bed, nauseous, shaking, sweating. He stayed with me. He would leave and come back intermittently to check on me at first. As I got worse, he stayed. He read to me while I shook uncontrollably. He played the guitar for me, a sweet, gentle song, love in the chords. And when things got really bad he made a bed for me on the bathroom floor, where I stayed until 3:00 AM.
This afternoon he rented a girl-movie for me to watch in bed. Carried me back to bed. Offered anything he could, wanting to provide some small comfort. Worry and love all over his face.
I am exhausted now. Weak, ready for bed again after having now been awake for an hour. I hear the girls in the living room. Every once in a while I hear Erik's voice over theirs, low and loving, this voice I have found comfort in for 15 years.
And I am thankful beyond measure for the man it belongs to.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
2. Reveal 7 things about yourself not previously mentioned on your blog.
3. Award 7 bloggers the "Kreativ Blogger Award", post links to their blogs, and leave a comment letting them know of their honor.
This is really pretty nice since it was only four days ago that I started to call myself a blogger. In my mind, I mean. I haven't said it out loud yet. The other day I really did start marveling at the inherent pretentiousness in blogging about my life. Who do I think I am to assume I have anything to say that people want to hear? But there is something so weirdly compulsive about it. And I never think that anybody else is pretentious for doing it, so I guess I'll just keep doing it.
Okay, 7 things not previously revealed on this blog:
1. I could drink you and your daddy under the table. But I'm the biggest caffeine lightweight you have ever seen. It's pitiful. Five swallows and my head feels like cotton-candy. I can feel the residual caffeine left in decaf.
2. I, like Rebekah, have a filthy mouth. I work hard to keep it clean here. I have deleted the "f-word" from my posts more times than I could count. I have been known to change the "Clean It Up" song to say, "And put it away, put it away, put your shit away". Now that I've typed it, I can see that it probably isn't the finest example of my parenting. I usually use the word "crap" in that song if that redeems me in any way.
3. I LOVE, and I mean, LOVE, those cheesy dance movies made for adolescents. Bring It On, Save the Last Dance, Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. Cinematic HEAVEN.
4. I began a novel last fall. At the rate I'm going, I will be happy to have a first draft by the time I'm 75.
5. I'm not a germaphobe. I'm of the "You can eat it, I'm sure it's fine", 30-second rule, exposure-to-germs-makes-you-stronger ilk. Except for birds. Birds freak me out. They are gross. I will confess that I have managed to pass this phobia on to all three of my girls, who all know that the only way to pick up a bird feather if you don't have rubber glove handy is by pinching it with a leaf. And if you touch it accidentally you'll probably pay for it by contracting something that involves a trip to the hospital. That's not unhealthy, is it?
6. Since last November, which for those of you counting makes an entire year, I have been struggling with chronic gastritis brought on by the stress of the adoption process. Last spring I was encouraged by my doctor to get an endoscopy, or as I call it, "swallow the camera". I said, "No fucking way." (See #2) Not really. But I thought it. So I walk around like a 65 year-old man with a beer and beef problem, swallowing licorce and slippery elm tablets like they're candy, hoping that in 6 months it will be a distant memory.
7. My cyber-friends do not know that I drive a passenger van with flames, (see here). I still haven't fixed the right side where we were hit, so I now only have them on one side which is somehow MORE like me than having them on both.
And the Kreativ Blogger Award goes to:
1. Carrie. Carrie is a fellow Austinite and mama to three. She is hilarious and a poet when she writes about her children. I'm thrilled every time she posts. Her family is crazy gorgeous.
2. Cindy. OK, so Rebekah already nominated her, but this woman... I just like her. She is funny, sincere, self-deprecating, and mama to the most adorable triplet boys from Ethiopia. Everyone should have a chance to know of her blog, so I'm telling you now.
3. Kari Anne. I don't know Kari Anne personally. She is another Austin mama. Wicked funny. Smart. Strong. Author of Haiku Mama.
4. Erin Henderson. She took her blog private and I miss it. This means nothing to you since I can't link her, but her blog was hugely important to me. Adoptive mom extraordinaire and advocate for HIV+ adoption.
5. Kelly Rae Roberts. Kelly has a huge following and does not need my support. But I'm going to mention her here because she promotes, supports, and fosters creativity through her blog in a way that is accessible and freeing. And who couldn't use a little of that?
6. Karen Maezen Miller. Author of Momma Zen. Grounding, beautiful, compassionate wisdom offered up here. I would love to have a cup of something decaffeinated with her.
7. Janna. Janna's blog is private, but it shouldn't be. She is mama to four. Creative, funny. I want to be her when I grow up. I'm hoping this pushes her to go public.
Thanks for the inspiration everyone!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The beauty and simplicity of three daughters is not lost on me. Together, they are "the girls". I only need to wait a few days before I can do a full load of pinks, reds, and oranges. We are crayons and paper. Books and stuffed animals. Hula hoops and dancing.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Whenever an adult is sick in our family, it leads us to remember two family stories. The first happened when I was a teenager and my father was sick. He groaned and shuffled his way down the stairs to find my mom and I in the kitchen, where my mom was making dinner. He asked what we were having. My mom said, "Soft tacos." To this my Papa moaned a little and stated that he had never had soft tacos. We tried not to laugh in his face.
The second involves me. This happened long before children when Erik and I were in our mid-twenties. I was sick. It had come on hard and fast and Erik said to me gently, sweetly, helping me into bed, "Baby, I think you have the flu."
To which I replied, in all seriousness, "I don't have the flu, YOU have the flu."
I meant it too.
In some wicked twist of fate I had a mom's night out scheduled tonight with some women I adore from the girls' school. They will eat Tex-Mex, drink different versions of margaritas, and a couple of them will say something so dirty it might make someone else pee their pants.
I will put everyone to bed, eat my weight in chips and homemade guacamole, and drink a sorry excuse for a cocktail in their honor.
It won't be the same, but tonight, it might just be enough.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
And yet, there's this other thing. This idea of paths not taken. The roads we look down, but keep walking on by. I want it all. I want a big, giant life with as many kids as I can take care of well AND time to make art with my hands and to write a novel, and to read, to travel, time to be in service to a greater good, time alone with Erik, time alone with myself. I want it all.
Is it too much to ask?
Am I tired just thinking about it?
You bet your ass.
Will I stop trying?
Friday, November 20, 2009
Because our process has taken so long, our federal fingerprints expired, and we were re-fingerprinted back in June. For some reason that is beyond me, the other part, the part that involves things like the Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizens and Immigration Services, and forms called, I-600, I-600A, I-171H expires not in 15 months like our fingerprints, but in 18 months. Which turns out to be December 4th for us. So we sent a renewal letter. Did what the USCIS page told us to. Twenty-one days later we receive a letter stating that we needed to provide an updated homestudy by December 14th or our application would be denied.
So we scrambled. Called our lovely (local) social worker and left a panicky message. In some evil twist, our specialist (our agency social worker) called to see what are new expiration date was. She was calling to tell us we were going to travel on December 16th. Our lovely social worker moved lightening fast.
They will not put us in a travel group until our processing is complete. So December 16th travel is off the table for us. I will not get to meet Briana. But she has told me she will give Yonas a squeeze before we get there. That helps. So did the other acronyms she and her husband have developed for USCIS.
And we wait.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Have my carpets always been THIS dirty?
Do we really keep THAT much booze on the counter?
Where are all the outlet covers?
Since when is there a STAPLER in Safa's room?
What the hell IS that under Ava's and Eden's bunk bed???
She will be here in 15 minutes. I'm sure there's a spot somewhere I should be scrubbing, a dog hair I missed. Maybe I should brush my teeth.
Tomorrow I will tell you why we have to do this today. I will tell you now it sucks and means we will not be traveling before Christmas.
Until then, here's my blog post about our first ever home study visit.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
"Nobody will stop you from creating. Do it tonight. Do it tomorrow. That is the way to make your soul grow - whether there is a market for it or not! The kick of creation is the act of creating, not anything that happens afterward. I would tell all of you watching this screen: Before you go to bed, write a four line poem. Make it as good as you can. Don't show it to anybody. Put it where nobody will find it. And you will discover that you have your reward. "
I know a poem won't cut it for everybody. But I encourage you to find something you can do for yourself, something that doesn't wait for anyone's evaluation or approval. Something that is yours alone. Keep it for yourself. Go get your reward.
And in a few months time, when you find me depleted and wanting, tell me to do the same.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
"Mama? Sometimes I like it when Ava and Eden aren't in the house."
"Oh, is that right? Why is that?"
"Because sometimes they do crazy things in the living room."
"Well, that's true."
"Yeah. That's why I don't like them in the house."
Friday, November 13, 2009
After brushing their teeth, Ava and Eden came running to me and said, "Mama! Come into the bathroom! We need to show you something!" followed by much giggling. My standard, "Can you bring it to me?" brought more giggling. "Nooooo, You have to come see it."
Now at this point, I should have been scared. But I wasn't because I was too exhausted from the camping trip described below to be lucid enough.
"Look what we found in the sink!" Eden said. I walk into the bathroom and there, in the sink, is a four-inch long sprout of some kind, with another three or so inches of root attached.
"This came from the sink?!"
Erik walked by right at this moment and I showed him. He began to dig around in the sink drain and pull out several more sprouts, one with a pumpkin seed still attached. Also a lot of good old fashioned dirt. Someone, perhaps of the childish persuasion, put a clump of dirt and a few pumpkin seeds down the drain. And they sprouted and grew. They grew in the nasty sink-drain muck. Gag me with a sprouted pumpkin seed.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
We also received his birth certificate today, which is a huge next hurdle. This was the next big step, so that feels really good. In the top left corner there is a small picture of him, a copy of his passport photo that was taken this week. He looks worn down, traumatized, and weary. It kills me. They also shaved off all his beautiful hair. This is standard procedure, it lessens the amount of work for the nannies and keeps lice to a minimum. I knew it was coming, but he is not the boy he was in his social report. He has lost more in his 18 months than I ever will. And it shows all over his face right now.
I want to be there now, to hold his chubby hand while he walks, to watch him sleep, to help him heal and trust we are his final, forever stop. No more sweet boy. No more. Hang on just a bit longer.
We are coming.
P.S. I will bring the funny tomorrow. I swear.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Kelsey, me, Brad, and Sam. This picture is from a trip to Six Flags. We'd stayed in some crap motel (pictured behind us) and were walking over to the crap diner across the parking lot for breakfast. This is hands down one of my all-time favorite pictures of my late teens. The giant denim shorts, the black and white shirts (which I can swear to you we didn't plan) makes it even funnier. We are all so gorgeous and young and happy I can hardly bear it.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
My grief regarding Brad's death is multi-layered and I think it is in large measure because it is impossible not to experience this loss through the lens of motherhood. People grow up and things happen to them. Sometimes wonderful and beautiful things, other times tragic. As a mother I watch my children grow into the people they are meant to become, watch them rise to their best selves and watch them struggle, knowing I can not protect them from the pain that comes with simply being human. I can parent, pray, guide, yell, whisper, bend, take a stand, plead, laugh, worry, hug, and love all I want. But nothing I do will keep the tragedies of life, small and large, away.
And so tonight, as I reluctantly post on this blog of motherhood and life, I send peace to Brad's mother, from the young woman I was when I knew her son, and from one mother to another.
And tomorrow, I will post about motherhood and life. Because the tragedies and joys of life, the lovely and the chaotic, they keep moving on.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Last night I learned that a boy I once knew died. Four and half years ago. His birthday was the 7th.
There was an art class, laughter, The Cure, an Isuzu Impulse, a Six Flags trip, silliness, and the kind of beauty only found in youth.
I have spent the day remembering him, listening to 80's music, watching my girls dance to David Bowie and The Clash, playing heartbroken hide-and-seek with Safa, crying while I waited for her to find me.
Brad, this is for you...
EDIT-- I ran "Pictures of You" by The Cure, but couldn't figure out how to embed it, so I sadly had to delete it
Sunday, November 08, 2009
But I'd like to do my best now to describe my experience last night at Inks Lake State Park. Evening time was your standard group gathering with burgers, s'mores, campfire, etc. The party dispersed. Ava had been invited to sleep in a tent with two other girls.
Erik and I got Safa and Eden in their sleeping bags and Ava settled. All three of them had noses so stuffy they could barely breathe. It was about 9:00. Eden and Safa fidgeted and were generally over-tired and miserable. The park was over-crowded and noisy, we were right across the street from the bathrooms.
Erik and I got into our sleeping bags. The level of noise was insane. Erik said that it was like trying to sleep in the middle of the street in our neighborhood and in a bar all at the same time. We did the kind of complaining that was marked by a solid, self-satisfied notion that we were, on the deepest level, better than the people making all the noise.
Then we heard them. Some kind of humanoid (i'm quite sure humans aren't physically capable of this level of noise-making) whose sole purpose was to create a cacophony loud enough to keep even the most exhausted person awake. They were playing some kind of game. A game that consisted of intermittent whooping and laughter so loud and it made my throat hurt. I leaned over to Erik and said, "I have to practice "Hot Cross Buns" on my recorder, I'm not very good, but I AM loud." He said, "OK. I have to go and check the doors of my 63-door car." We laid there for a very long time. Eden fell asleep. Then Safa. I stared at the tent ceiling and seethed only the way a person can when they are being kept awake against their will.
Erik went to the bathroom. While he was gone, the couple (not part of our group) in the tent next to us (read: right on top of us) started making some noise. I thought: Maybe their having sex. Well, at least it will be entertaining. I really thought this. I heard whispering. Then: "I just don't understand why you have to be such an ASSHOLE!" The promise of distraction was over before it had begun.
Erik returned, I closed my eyes, tried to fake sleep hoping to induce the real thing. Then Ava appears at the tent door. She needs to go to the bathroom. We go. She wants to return back to the tent with us. After much rearranging we get her settled, but it takes her a very long time to fall asleep. An hour passes. Maybe two. Then "Dude" comes on the scene. Loud, obnoxious, drunk Dude. And he brought friends. They are so loud they actually drown out the humanoids. Hours pass. Crickets scream, but finally...quiet. I fall asleep.
Safa awakens soon after and needs to pee. I ask Erik to hand me the potty chair we have moved just outside the tent to accommodate Ava. He hands it to me and I spill pee all over my sleeping bag. I clean it up with someones shirt. Then more noise. Is that coyotes? Owls? Puppies being strangled? My family sleeps. They snore. Car doors slam. I finally fall asleep. A little later, noise at the bathroom. Awake.
What's black and white and stinks all over? A freakin' skunk. Seriously. The funk moves through our tent and hangs in the air while my family sleeps and I cover my face and start mentally writing this post.
Then somehow, miraculously, it's dawn. The man from the couple next to us stirs and they start fighting immediately. Tires screech. Kids yell. Birds cry.
Saturday, November 07, 2009
At any given time, more than half of the country's population of 80 million people is suffering from water-related disease.
More than 250,000 children under the age of five die each year due to diarrhea.
In an era of unprecedented global wealth, four out of every five people on the planet do not have access to running water.
You can help. Please consider making a donation to A Glimmer of Hope. You can donate here to join the effort of a group of adoptive families that are trying to raise enough funds to build a well.
Even 10 dollars will help.
"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little."
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
The flag is fading.
The truth is I'm tired of wearing it. When I change positions in the night, it moves against the chain and wakes me up. I like necklaces. I have many others I'd rather be pulling from my toddler son's chubby hand while carrying him on my hip.
Someday I will give it to him, this talisman of love. Someday when he's old enough to understand what it meant to me to wear his name above my heart and wait.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Monday, November 02, 2009
The combination of doing the cleanse and passing court has been an interesting one. For one thing, I'm sleeping. I am a chronic insomiac, have been my whole life. I generally spend between 1 and 3 hours every night awake. It rarely stresses me out and I rarely put it to good use. It is hard to separate to which events I owe this sleep, but I'm thankful to have it.
Another side effect of cleansing is that along with clearing the physical body, it clears the emotional stuff too. Everything gets stirred up, brought to the surface. You are invariably more thin skinned and raw yourself. Which means I have been weepy, joyful, and awed by how blessed my life is. And irritable and grumpy. But I haven't been filled with the anxiety that had been hanging over me, a low-lying fog of helplessness and restlessness.
I have been thinking for a long time on a world in which Erik and I have the honor of parenting, loving, growing with a child that was not born to us. Moving last week from the abstract to the legal weighs on me heavily. How much I owe Yonas' Ethiopian family. How much I owe Ethiopia. How much I love this child that I've yet to meet.
Becoming raw to the emotions of the adoption process (especially a transracial one) is painful. It toothpick-opens your eyes simultaneously to some of the most beautiful and ugly aspects of humanity.
May I forever remain thin-skinned.
Safa was the requisite fairy. Eden was a peacock. Ava was...well, we don't know exactly what Ava was, but we know she looked cool. Some kind of Eastern European folk dancer perhaps? We found her costume at Saver's (for you out-of-towners, it's a mega-thrift store). I told her when someone asked, she should say, "What do you think I am?". I told Erik we should give her a bottle of vodka to carry around. (We didn't.)