Monday, August 22, 2011

Birthday stuff

Our kid.


Today was his first day back to school/daycare.  I was so dang proud of him.  He was a bright and shiny super star who happened to do an awesome job of being himself while I began to attempt to reconfigure my day without his constant companionship.  Pretty sure I missed him more than he missed me, but I'm pretty sure that's the way I want it (at least that's what I'm telling myself).

Today also happened to be my birthday.  I just so happen to hate my birthday, so my beloved figured out that it might just work out to celebrate it the day before.  As it so happens, that worked out just wonderfully.  Less pressure, less memories, less whatever that makes the specific day so dang intense.

We did lots of fun things, including some rock throwing.  Some stage performing.  Some desserts.  Some food.  Some wine.  Some laughing.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Presently stuck

I am currently stuck with the really valid concern that someone, somewhere, is going to take what I have said about parenting and post it on some random blog who's entire point is to show how shitty adoptive parents are. And today, after having read some of those blogs, I have to agree... there's a bunch of shitty stuff happening out there. Shitty stuff being said by adoptive parents. Shitty stuff being done by adoptive parents. Shitty this, shitty that, shitty, shitty, shitty.

I am caught up in a web of not knowing what to say. Very recently Claudia asked who wanted to write a post regarding the topic of conspicuousness... I quickly raised my hand and couldn't wait to be involved. I could immediately think about five different occasions to focus on, and had finally started to narrow it down to one when I thought- wait. WAIT. My crap, my discomfort, means nothing right now. Not when I have this incredible boy napping upstairs who is counting on me to make his world safe and secure.

I never, ever, ever would have thought the details in the world of adoption could actually end up being so huge (I'm not giving myself enough credit here, I know... but that's not the point). Although tesoro and I didn't go into it all thinking we were going to "save a child," we did go into it thinking that we were going to become parents and that although it might be tricky at times, the skittly moments would by far outweigh the rest.

I generally feel like there is some kind of cloud hanging out over us. Not necessarily a foreboding cloud, but a cloud all the same. Don't get me wrong, it's not as though we go walking around over in these here parts with an umbrella constantly in hand, but when I take the moment to think... to really just think... well, that's when the cloud makes itself know.  I especially sense it when I read blogs like this. Or this. Or this. And I end up thinking, how could I have ever thought it was going to be easy? How could I have ever thought that our son would grow up knowing that because he was all kinds of loved by us, all that other really shitty, hard, intense, real stuff would heal up?  How can we do absolutely right by him?  By his (our) family?  How?

I think about things I have said online. Personal stuff. Not so personal stuff. And those things I have said out loud. To friends. To acquaintances. And I wonder, what was their perception of what I said? Why did I say what I said? Did it benefit anyone? Did it benefit my son? My marriage? Myself?  Which is the most important (rhetorical)?  And did I pay attention to that who is most important?

Yesterday I sent out some emails regarding the incredible "Ask 5 for 5." I made a personal plea, and I spoke about our son. About fifteen minutes later I sent out a follow-up email, asking everyone to disregard what I had said about leone. About leone's family. I felt like it was possible that I could be seen as using my son... using his story, his history, his future. And although that really wasn't my intent, because it is his story, it is his history, it is his future that has us pushing forward to fight this drought in any way we can, there is no doubt in my mind that HE should never be used (especially by me) in a way that gets others to pay up. To act. To make decisions.

Does that even make sense?

I see leone. I see him for who he is. His beauty. His strength. His agony. His wonder. The things that make him tick, and the things that make him tock. I am beginning to understand things in ways I have never understood them before (perhaps it should be stated that this understanding has come by way of blogs, books, discussions, and time spent deep in thought).  And although his papa and I made the choice to adopt him, he had absolutely no say in it. And he most certainly has never asked us to use his story to try to make a difference in the world. And he MOST certainly never asked to be in a place where he would be viewed differently because he is black and we are white. And the idea of him wanting me to vent about the struggles we encounter with the world? With our life? To just everyone and anyone?  I don't see it.

I no longer know what to say.  How to say it.  Where to say it.  I know that I am human.  I know that I make mistakes.  But I have this fear, this brain-altering thought, that the mistakes made by being thoughtlessly vocal about our lives could (and do) have huge, huge, HUGE implications.  And the fact is, those implications might just not be so damn great.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ask 5 for 5

Today I'm featuring a guestblogger- someone who has figured out a way to do more than just speak about "doing something."  This woman is incredible- I met her very recently and was drawn to her sincerity and compassion.  Please read her message and consider making a contribution....

guest blogger: Sarah Lenssen from Ask5for5
photos courtesy of Cate Turton / Dept. for International Development

First, thanks to il panettiere for allowing me to post on her blog today! Today, more than 25 bloggers, including this one, are standing with me to Ask 5 for 5 for Africa. Here's why....

I began pursuing a BIG dream two weeks ago. After deciding I could no longer avoid the news about the famine in the horn of Africa, I had that gut feeling that I couldn't sit this one out. I HAD to do something because I could. Something bigger than I could do alone. That's when #Ask5for5 was born.

A malnourished child in an MSF treatment tent in Dolo Ado

Two of my children, Ashen and Bereket, were adopted and are from the region affected by the drought in Ethiopia. They would be two of the statistics if they still lived there. I see my son’s and daughter’s faces in the photos of those suffering in the refugee camps. It could have been him. It could have been her. The thought haunts me.

And moms just like us are watching their children go hungry day after day. I can't imagine what it's like, but I have to –I have to be there to help them, because it could have been my children. These families have lost their livestock, their crops, food prices are inflated at the market if there any food there, and don’t have any more lifelines to tap into. Many are traveling hundreds of miles through parched land in hope of finding help. Many are dying along the way. It is estimated that 29,000 children have died in the last 90 days in the famine in Somalia alone.

Malnourished children, weakened by hunger

But I KNOW we can do something about it. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed, we can rally ourselves and our friends to respond! I set up a fundraiser through See Your Impact. 100% of your gift will go to the relief and development organization World Vision, where it will be combined with government grants to multiply up to 5 times in impact!

You’ll receive updates on just how your funding is being used to help save lives affected by famine in East Africa. I'm amazed at how much we've raised already -- over $7,000 in just four days! We blew through our first 3 goals in just 3 days and are well on our way to $10,000 and beyond!

I need you to help me save lives. It's so so simple; here's what you need to do:
  1. Donate $5 or more on this page (
  2. Send an email to your friends and ask them to join us.
  3. Share Ask5for5 on Facebook and Twitter, and join our page to stay updated too!
I'm also looking for 100 bloggers to stand with Ask5for5 to spread the word during Social Media week, September 19th - 23rd. If you're interested, email me,

Extra food for every child under five

Thanks! Please donate and email your friends right now--don't wait for a calmer moment, because if you're like me, other demands inevitably crop up and you won't get to it. A child's life hangs in the balance, but you can help save her!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I love

I did this whole big post, then ended up deleting it.  I hope no one read it, because it was out there for a few minutes this morning.  If you did, forgive me for filling your head with bad writing.

Forgive me for doing it again.

I love my kid so much.  So incredibly much.  Like, so, so, so, so much.

I love the friendships that had been planted at miscellaneous times and truly began to bloom this summer.

I love that I want to write a book with very specific bits and pieces for leone's caretaker, because that means I know him better than I have ever known him.  It also means that I am finally trusting myself as a mother.  As his mother.

I love that I found, implemented, and continue to work on perfecting, a pie crust that I now consider my own.  It will be the one I use for all pies for the rest of my life.  It will also win me prizes, and for that I am appreciative (perhaps presumptuous of me, but all the same).

I love that I have been able to spend so many moments with my boy.  Understanding his faces, his voices, the tilt of his hips, the moments that take him to the edge, the times that make him fly.  Truly an honor.  I can't even allow myself to wonder for so many seconds about him not being right beside me during the day next week, or the week after, or the five million weeks after that... it hurts to much.  I am so grateful for your presence... for your person, my darling little one.

I love tesoro.

I love finding out that I am okay, just the way I am.

I have grown.  I am thankful.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Here's some stuff I've recently made.  Both were, according to my husband, pretty dang good. (which makes me, the baker, pretty dang happy)

Interested in trying them on for size?  The banana chocolate chip muffins can be found here, and the peach-a-berry pie is righhhhhht here.

Just in case you're wondering, that pie is made with butter on the bottom.  Butter on the top.  And butter in the middle.  Also?  There's some sugar.  But mostly?  Butter.  Lots and lots of butter.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Daycare prep.

No matter how much I would like to avoid it, the truth of the matter is, it's about time for Leone to head back to daycare.  I know he'll like to be around his friends again, but I worry.

About his food stuff.

His struggle to share stuff.

His need to throw approximately 9,254 rocks into the river every morning stuff.

His sleeping in and then taking his time to eat an egg and toast for breakfast stuff.

And what about the way we cuddle up every day at nap, read three books, sing our song, then part ways with love and well wishes for delightful rest stuff?

And the amount of time we have to play with blocks, the backyard hose, his cars, markers, play-doh, crayons- each other- stuff?

This summer has been delightful, and boy-oh-boy will I miss our days.  I've managed to work into a pretty sweet schedule of working on my papers when he naps, so evenings don't feel nearly as intense as they used to.  And even though Leone prefers his papa as soon as he comes home from work, I get all the time before... and that feels dang good.


Hey, check him out....

This was taken after we bought his new backpack.  He could hardly wait to wear the dang thing.

Oh my boy.  I love you.  Dirty pants and all.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Some bragging....

If you look real careful like you'll see a beautifully shaped shape made in pink crayon, directly under the music note. Do you see it? It's right... up... there.

When Leone was in the UrgentCare room a week or so ago, the receptionist ended up bringing in some crayons and paper (along with the 500 gallons of apple juice for him to consume). I was busy balancing the paper, the clipboard, and the crayons while trying to jam the cup in his mouth when all of a sudden Leone glances down at his paper and declares: "I made a triangle!" Needless to say I did about six double-takes, asked him to repeat and point, and just about lost it when he pointed at the shape and repeated: "I made a triangle!"

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Grouchy old man

See that book on my sidebar?  The one about the recovered skin*head?  Yeah, I'm reading that.  It's an amazing book, but it's incredibly difficult to read and has made me want to throw up on more than one occasion.

Take that book, along with my thoughts about the famine, and the fact that time is ticking away until work starts again, and try to understand that I'm maybe not in one of the best places right now.

Two days ago, a man honked his car horn at my son.  We were on the side of our town's only road, waiting for the cars to pass by so we could make our way back home from the park.  Leone jump started a wee bit early, but nothing significant that I was afraid for his safety.  But alas, apparently Leone had enough of a start that an older man who was at a standstill in his car felt the need to toot his horn a good five times.  (keep in mind that my boy was directly beside me, directly off the street.)  Once that horn honked, Leone managed to climb up one side of my body and into my arms, howling.

To be honest, I don't know what happened.  If it was the "not being in one of the best places right now" thing, if it was this mama bear thing, if it was just a bad day thing- but wow.  I walked directly up to the man's car (please keep in mind this is a small, small town- there are no stop signs, there are no turn lanes, there are no sidewalks... it's just a single Boulevard that makes its way down a two-mile stretch lined with houses, a park, three restaurants, and a couple shops), and as he pretended I wasn't there I could hear my voice rising. I could.  It was getting louder and a bit more gruff with each "SIR!"  But damn if I couldn't control myself.

"SIR.  Were those honks for our benefit?"

"SIR!  Were those honks for our benefit!?" (that one was a bit more sassy sounding, you can be sure of it)

We finally got some dialogue going, but it ended not so very well.  In the end, there I was... crying kid on my hip, both of us covered in river water, antique (meaning badly dented and really, really old) red wagon full of pails and water bottles behind me, and the older (not)gentleman driving away.  I yelled some things that I am not proud of, and truth be told I might have shaken my fist at him had my son not have been taking up residence against my chest.

Errg.  I could hardly see straight.  I have never lost control like I did with a complete stranger.  And with my son hanging off of me?  Truly a sight to be seen (although I'm glad you didn't).

Thing is, I could have easily been mistaken for one of the out-of-control, holy cow did you really say that? moms from Teen Mom, or Sixteen and Pregnant (minus the fact that I look much, much older than they do).  Again, not my finest hour (and yes, I would say it took at least an hour to cool my jets).

Yesterday Leone brought up "the grouchy old man" (yikes!  I might have said that at one point), asking if he was on our front porch as we returned from the Farmer's Market.  He mentioned being scared of the man and has yet ceased to be freaked out when a loud truck drives by us.  And although I swear we never hear car horn honks, its been a fairly regular background noise since the event.

I wish we would have left the park ten minutes earlier.  Just ten.  Then everything would be calm and good and big trucks would still hold their appeal and old men wouldn't be considered grouchy and a mommy wouldn't feel like a busted up pie and a very cautious driver deserved her wrath.

If only the co-pays for therapy weren't so damn high (but that's why I've got you, right?)....

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Sometimes it seems wrong to smile.  To laugh.  To make pie and eat it.

I remember when my dad died- it seemed like the world had stopped.  And that if it hadn't, it should.  And when my mom was really, really sick?  Time was measured by whichever nurse was on shift.  And the fact that people were going about their normal daily lives... it made no sense.

I feel so incredibly conflicted about the drought and famine happening in the Horn along with the reality that I am still able to open a pantry and cook dinner for my family over here in the mountains.  Along with some breakfast.  And lunch.  And snacks in-between.  And some popcorn before bed.

Oh- and I can seek medical attention whenever we need it.  Or even if I don't need it.  And the most recent visit to the dentist?  Yeah, even without dental insurance I could still afford to get my teeth x-rayed and cleaned.

Shouldn't our lives be on pause while we figure out how to make things better?  Shouldn't we all be struck by how horrifying this is?  So much so that we are all gathering forces together and finding solutions?

I am incredibly frustrated by many things.  Why am I not brave enough to sell our house, our cars, quit my job, and give all the money and my time to help?  How dare I buy that Italian ice at the Farmer's Market.  How dare I even be out, driving my car and wasting gasoline when there is so much need and sadness in the world?

Conflicted.  Terrified.  Unsure.

Trying to do my best.

How I wish things were different....


Thank you so much for your thoughts, suggestions, and amounts of empathy shared in the last blog post!  I know it must take time to leave such incredible comments, and we so appreciate it.  I think both tesoro and me were surprised by how many said, "us too!"  At the same time, we were both incredibly saddened by how many said, "us too!"

Our sweet babies.

A couple days ago I watched this video.  Hearing that cry, seeing that mother... my heart.  Oh, my heart.  I can not help but see my son through them.  See his mother.  See his cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents.

The morning prior to the emergency room visit, Leone would scream out in agony.  It ripped me apart.  I knew I had a good 45-minute drive to get him to a doctor, and the idea of him hurting and my not being able to help him as he was safely tucked into his car seat?  Terrible.  It sucked.  SUCKED.  I wanted nothing more but for him to not be in pain- and all I could do was drive my car and sing soothing songs.  Counting on a doctor.  Knowing there was an end in sight.  Knowing that soon, he would be better.

It's hard (incredibly hard doesn't even begin to touch on it, does it?) to think of my boy crying out in hunger.  And then to not have that need met.  From my own limited experience, I know that starvation physically hurts (whether it happens by choice or not).  It mentally hurts.  It latches on to you and becomes the only thing you can think about.

Hunger becomes you.


Oh, how his mother must have felt torn.  Torn, helpless, scared.  I have heard his screams, and I know how they shake you to the core.

I think about her, I think about them.  I think about how they can't rush to the doctor.  How they can't just open a box of crackers to subside the itch in the tummy.  How the solutions can't be found.  How helpless this all is.

Hunger.  Death.  Loss.  Agony.

Yes, Leone, yes.  It makes sense that you are afraid.  That you don't want to share your goldfish.  I get it.  And I love you so much.

Please consider donating.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Thoughts surrounding food

I read this today and just about cried in relief.  Someone else, someone I dig... experiencing the same thing.  Sharing thoughts, insights, questions.

Yesterday a friend met up with Leone and I at the local beach.  It was an incredible day- perfect temperature, perfect blue sky, perfect river flow... perfect.  But then I jokingly mentioned giving her a cheese stick if Leone hadn't of eaten the last one, and BOOM.  He starts saying that he doesn't like my friend.  He wants her to go away.  He doesn't like her.  GO AWAY.

At the time, I hadn't even thought about the damn cheese stick comment.  I was shocked, totally shocked, that he was being so mean and rude to her.  I immediately told him to apologize- he went silent.  Then, he gave her the stink eye.  And said he didn't like her.

Shocked.  Absolutely shocked.

Off we went to sit on the nearest naughty rock I could find.  After two minutes and a stern lecture (right?  cuz' that's sure to help?), we attempted the apology.  Nothing.  NOTHING.  Right back to the naughty rock (with questioning in my eyes, and silent begging that my kid make the right choice here, come on, come on, come on....).

As we go back to apologize (PLEASE!), he mentions the cheese stick.  He doesn't want to share his cheese stick with her.  She can't have it.  No sharing.

(Never mind that there was NO cheese stick to share!  Don't you remember, Leone, don't you remember that you ate it already?)

The morning ends in a miserable fashion- he refuses to apologize, starts timidly throwing some river rocks our direction, and my friend begins to feel a bit abused due to the constant commentary from the one in diapers about how much he doesn't like her.

This morning?  This morning we made it to Target.  As we're driving there, he starts talking about the dollar goldfish containers in the dollar bins.  He wants goldfish.  He doesn't want to share.  I'm not supposed to pay.  Don't give it away.  No sharing.  He wants the goldfish.  GOLDFISH.

I eventually go against every grain inside of me and tell him that the goldfish will be for him only- no need to share.  Leone only.  Then, and only then, does he calm down.  That is, until some random woman happens to walk by our cart as he is munching away on his dollar goldfish crackers... at which point he shoves them under his armpit, frowns, and proclaims "MY GOLDFISH!  I'M NOT SHARING!"


Daycare is steadily approaching.  Last year Leone was made to eat all of his food in a high chair- he was known as the kid who would eat everyone's food at the table.  Solution?  High chair.  Did this ever mean he ate all of his own food?  No.  He would come home with tons of food in his lunch bag- nothing ever consistent.

The past few months have been super nice because he has stopped stuffing fist fulls of food in his mouth- you know, to the point where he would gag every once in a while or eventually have to spit it all out so he wouldn't gag.  Now he typically sticks with smaller bites, but he's all about grabbing food from tesoro and me when the chance it right.

Needless to say, this all makes it a wee bit tricky to teach him about table manners.

Is it possible that the food insecurity from his early days (he left Ethiopia when he was four and a half months), when he was severely malnourished, have impacted him so deeply that what is happening right now is due to that?  Or is it that he's just a tricky little bugger and needs some good old-fashioned discipline?  As I walked around Target this morning, watching him hide his crackers whenever someone would glance at him with a smile, I decided that it must be that first one.  That although he was so young in age, his very beginnings were filled with hunger and he's still trying to make sure he gets what he needs.

I'm not sure what to do.  Every once in a while I pick up a snippet of food off his plate- and whew!  Am I ever reminded of what a bad choice that was!  We've managed to get him to ask (although it takes our consistent reminders) for food from our plate, but when the question is pointed at him- NO WAY (well, unless you happen to be tesoro).  And if we happen to go to a gathering in which food is just set out?  Our Leone is the only toddler right next to the buffet, stuffing chip after chip after chip in his mouth.

He is so, so, so... territorial (perfect word for this!) about his food.  I now officially begin to feel nervous when we eat with anyone besides our little crew.  We have food available for him, but he always seems concerned that someone, anyone, might decide to take a huge bite away.  And we've found that if we give him snacks whenever he asks for them, he's full by dinner time- meaning that a gathering 'round our table tends to be far from peaceful and nurturing.

Might you have any words of advice?  Thoughts?  Recommendations?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

You simply must read this

I just finished this book.

It's not about adoption.  It's not about parenting.  It's not about math or literacy.  It's not about attachment.  It's not about teaching.  It's not about religion.

It's about four young women whose parents all entered the USA illegally from Mexico.

It's nonfiction.  It's written by the wife of the governor of Colorado.  It's amazing.

You must get your mits on it.

Check out your library, check out amazon, check out whatever you can to get this perspective.  It's important.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


These two make me deliriously happy.  The little one on the right?  She puts up with a lot of crap the little one on the left hands out.  She's soft, gentle, easy-going, but isn't about to let anyone stomp on her.  The little one on the left?  He can barely contain himself from shouting out in joy each and every time he sees the little one on the right.  He's energetic, exuberant, loud, but knows how to be tender.

Ready for the heavy stuff?  Click here.  And here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Late night TV and being taught a lesson

I admit it.  I watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians.  I do.  I do, I do, I do....  (I'm not going to apologize.  I'm not going to apologize.  I'm not going to apologize.)  There's something about being beautiful, business smart, sexy, spoiled, rich, and at times funny, that draws me in.  Plus I can't get over Kim's ass.  It's true.  Ends up that I'm somewhat of a buns person, which is why I never participate in bowling.  I don't have an ass worthy of bowling and I know (because I do it) that everyone is staring at the buns when one walks up to the edge of the alley and throws that ball down.  And because I can't handle that kind of pressure, I abstain from the bowling alley.  Really, it's better that way.

So the show I watched yesterday featured the two youngest gals in the family being forced to go to a homeless shelter in order to "be taught a lesson."  "To appreciate what they have."  "To stop being so spoiled."  So on and so forth.  They were grouchy, they were bratty, they used an entire bottle of Germ-X to be sure not to catch anything.

After the whole Germ-X scene, the crew is led into a gymnasium with children running this way and that; the pouts didn't go away until one of their older sisters joined the adventure.  At that point they were able to smile and seemed more willing to actually look at the people in the room rather than just scowl.  Within minutes a beautiful young woman who resides at the shelter with her father and siblings extended her hand and gave the Kardashian family a tour.  She was gentle, smart, and laid her life out on the table.

In the end, the ladies leave the shelter much more appreciative of the life they live.  Now, because they have seen "the other side," they will do their best to be less bratty and perhaps even stop stealing their dad's credit card to make incredibly high dollar purchases at every whim.  They can't believe that their bedrooms are the size of the entire living space of the young woman they met and her family members who sleep on bunk beds and the floor.  They can't believe the food that is served.  And the bathroom?  GASP.

You know who I wonder about?  The young woman whose life was showcased in order for the Kardashians to appreciate their own.  How did she feel after they left?  Did she have a  new appreciation for life?  Did she feel good about being an example?  Being "the other side?"  What was it like for her, leading the way, showing her clean living space, all while having to look at the perfectly coiffed heads and faces of the Kardashians as they gasped and shook their heads in disbelief?  I wonder... what did this young woman gain?  What did she lose?  How is she right this very minute?