Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Still Low Roar

I'd mentioined a few days ago how interested we are in a new possibility. No, haven't heard anything yet, in fact, since it is the end of the month and our SW is insanely busy, the homestudy hasn't even been sent off yet, though this Joy already has a few copies of our file.

The truth is, the waiting isn't too rough yet. We went lightning fast through the homestudy (at least in fost/adopt terms), and aside from the long wait with no information for over a month, we love our agency. Each time we make an inquiry, we're carving out a bit of our hearts, thinking happy thoughts, considering the realities, trying to figure out how to handle excitement or disappointment. Last week, we learned that waiting is easier than saying no.

Not that I'm the Zen Master of fost/adopt or anything. Today, three kids we've got homestudies in on were removed from the photolistings. There hasn't been enough time for them to have already been matched, I don't think, so most likely the region they're in has ample submitted families from which to choose. Just that their profiles have been taken down feels like progress, since if submittals are closed, a decision may be made soon, no? (not until our Mary sends our stuff in, of course, and geeze, I'll be cranky if we've already missed the cut off because our homestudy isn't in yet) It does take a bit of self control to not hound people for information, and yes, I jump when the phone rings, and yes, I check my email nine million times a day, but I've been doing that for years.

If we're still waiting six months from now, there's a good chance I'll be climbing the walls. If we're still waiting a year from now, my bedroom will look something like this.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


This forum conversation is really really bothering me.

Now, I don't know what circumstances my child/ren will come to us with. If there is even the possibility of safe contact with family members, or if they have unrelated people in their lives that are important to them (and I hope hope hope they do, whether family or not), like current foster parents, teachers, friends and friends' parents, well, we've got free long distance, a webcam, and we loves us some roadtrips.

But back to their families: what if it can't be done? In the news around here lately is a couple whose 7 week old baby went into the hospital with broken ribs, broken legs, and a partially healed clavicle fracture, as well as multiple bruises. Seven weeks old. Meanwhile, a teenage girl recently escaped from her home, where she was shackled to a bed for an indeterminate length of time. Though she is 14, she has the weight and height of an 8 year old. Confinement, starvation. If we become adoptive parents to children who have gone through something like that, I would not advocate for openness after the adoption. I would want to run as far as I can from those families.

I don't know how I'm going to be able to find a balance. I don't know how we will decide whether (and how) to exclude or include our childrens' families. Yes, if our kids' families had been able to properly care for them, they wouldn't now be wards of the state. But if that were me, wouldn't I feel the loss just the same? Wouldn't I have guilt, self-hatred, disappointment, and regret? It would be easier to believe that people who do horrible things to their children are lacking in humanity. I wish I could consider them monsters and write them off as such, then never bring it up again, wave a magic wand and make the children forget. But I woudn't want my children to think that way of their parents, as they are a part of their parents. I want to be able to stress that it was the decisions that were bad, not their parents. I firmly believe that shit-talking their parents will be the exact same thing as shit-talking my child, and that's somewhere I'll not be going. But how will I respect someone who has done so much harm to their children that they have lost the right to parent them?

I suppose time will tell. The more we know about a specific child, the more we will get a sense of what the possibilites for contact with his/her family are. Whether it is nothing, letters sent through the state, or visits, we'll figure it out when we get there.

I guess this is why domestic infant adoptions that close are so frustrating to me. Kids coming from state care often don't have their families clamoring for more time with them. I read blogs of women whose children were adopted, or blogs where adoptive moms have wide open relationships with their child's mother, and I am insanely jealous of the open relationship, and my chest starts to hurt when adoptions have been closed. For one reason or another, we'll not likely be getting big girl panties from our kids' mom during pottytraining, won't be sending art projects through the mail, won't be sending invitations to middle school graduation to mom and dad. Hopefully, we'll be able to maintain relationships with someone in their family, or at least someone from his/her past, but most likely, the connection with the original parents is already lost.

I guess all I'm saying here is, "Woe is me." I'm just confused, and sometimes writing things out helps.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Cremation, Ashes to Ashes

Yarr, there's music on this here blog. I found BestAudioCodes.com, and was very nicely suprised by just how many songs they have on there. The controller is in the sidebar, so if you're not into the auditory experience, hit pause.

This song is a bit morbid. Cremation, Ashes to Ashes by Lou Reed, but I have been looking for this song since November 1997, so, um, go along with me for a moment.

Way back when, I saw Time Rocker at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival. Robert Wilson (direction and design) and Lou Reed (songs and music) put together this rock opera, the third in a series. First two were The Black Rider and Alice, collaborations between Wilson and Tom Waits.

Overall, it was kind of like watching clips of music videos loosly strung together by the premise of the pursuit of a time traveling villain. There were bad parts and good parts, and I've been singing the first three lines of this song to myself for nearly nine years.

The scene this song is from is set during the Civil War, where outside a house, a mother reads a letter (Bixby Letter) sent to her by Abraham Lincoln regarding the death of her five sons. She then sings Cremation. The lightwork made it appear she was drowning. What had been a frantic pace (scene cuts, unnerving use of colors and visual effects) was halted during this scene. The lights went low, the set was suggestive but spare, the costumes subdued, and it was quiet for the first time in an hour. For me, this scene resonated because of the chaos that had come before it, and because it so very well distilled grief, and at this time in my life, I was grieving.

Other songs from that show that I can think of off the top of my head are Future Farmers of America, I'll be Your Mirror, Into the Divine, Turning Time Around, Why do you Talk? I've been looking for 8 years for a cast recording, but I don't think they happened. But Lou Reed started singing some of these songs decades ago, so at least I can recreate the show in my head.

Now, off to an end of Summer party at the lake.

Friday, August 25, 2006

How Lucky We Are To Exist

The story below about my great-grandmother has a certain "Holy Crap" quality to it. Shari mentioned in the comments that it is by pure luck that any of us happened to be. In that vein, I'm now going to plagiarize my favorite passage from Bill Bryson's book A Short History of Nearly Everything. It was what I was thinking about when I selected that story, since I knew I wanted to write about Viola, but had planned on talking about the things I inherited from her. But then the digital camera battery was dead, and it wouldn't have worked as well.

The average species on Earth lasts for only about four million
years, so if you wish to be around for billions of years, you must be as
fickle as the atoms that made you. You must be prepared to change everything about yourself -- shape, size, color, species affiliation, everything -- and to do so repeatedly. That's much easier said than done, becuse the process of change is random. To get from "protoplasmal primordial atomic globule" (as Gilbert and Sullivan put it) to sentient upright modern human has required you to mutate new traits over and over in a precisely timely manner for an exceedingly long while. So at various periods over the last 3.8 billion years you have abhorred oxygen and then doted on it, rown fins and limbs and jaunty sails, laid eggs, flicked the air with a forked tongue, een sleek,, been furry, lived underground, lived in trees, been as big as a deer and as small as a mouse, and a million things more. The tiniest deviation from any o tese evolutionary shifts, and you might now be licking algae from cave walls or lolling walruslike on some stony shore or
disgorging air through a blowhole in the top of your head before diving sixty feet for a mouthful of delicious sandworms.

Not only have you been lucky enough to be attached since time immemorial to a favored evolutionary line, but you have also been extremely -- make that miraculously -- forturnate in your personal ancestry. Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time older than the Earth's mountains and rivers and oceans, every one of your forbear on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and
circumstance to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from its life's quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possble sequence of hereditary combinations that could result -- eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly -- in you.

Status: Dull Roar

We're having a bit of excitement around here. We're very much trying not to get too attached to the idea, but it isn't working very well, even though we know it will probably be weeks before we hear anything else, if we even do. On paper so far, this looks really, really promising.

And yes, I have found a few more research topics.
1. Fostering puppies for the local humane society.
2. Wondering whether a b-day party here and a b-day party where XYZ currently live(s) with current f-parents and friends and teachers would be overkill.
3. Finding photographs of my sister during childhood (crazy bride sister, not first weeek of high school sister) and comparing them to XYZ. Being amazed by similarity. Start thinking about serendipity, fate, destiny, then scold myself for being so silly. Remind self that there are probably two hundred people out there saying same thing to themselves.

What I Want You To Know: My Great-Grandmother

When my great-grandmother, Viola, was little, she and her father walked through the forest once a week to check animal traps they'd set. Part of their route went over a river on a railroad bridge. One particular day, they were halfway across the bridge when they heard the train coming behind them. They ran for the other side. My great-great grandfather scooped Viola up in his arms, and when it looked as if they wouldn't make it across in time, he threw her toward the other side, with all the force that adrenaline gives a father as a train bears down on him and his five year old daughter. He leapt off the side of the bridge. He fell 30 feet into a freezing river.

My great-great grandfather survived. He was sure he had let his daughter die, that she had been hit by the passing train. But going into the river would just as surely have killed her, he told himself. He climbed up the bank of the river, calling her name. He could not find any evidence of her, and surely the conductor would have pulled the brakes had he hit her.

Time passed. My great-great grandfather heard squaking coming from overhead. He thought it was a turkey. It was not.

It took my great-grandmother an hour to find her voice again. She told me ninety years later that she'd forgotten how to talk, that the only thing she knew during the time between being thrown and being found was how to hold on.

She had landed in a tree. She was unhurt. She was safe.

Another Viola story next time.

More stops in the "What I Want You To Know" Blog Carnival can be found at Baggage That Goes With Mine.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I Have a Feeling...

that Columbia University sophomores just got their schedules. I know this because Peter Pazzaglini has just rocketed to the top of my search engine hits. Didn't see that one coming.

If y'all are like I was 8 years ago, you're asking yourself, "Who the hell is this guy? Maybe a grad student? Whaaa? Alumni Development?" (ok, he's not listed in that capacity anymore, but you get it)

I went to the first day of Contemporary Civilizations with an add/drop form.

After 15 minutes, he could have pulled a live skunk out of his backpack and set it loose in the classrom, and I would have stayed.

In our fireproof wall safe, we have the deed to our house, life insurance documents, passports, birth certificates, wills, all those essential documents and small expensive things you need to store safely. My notes, handouts, and papers from CC are in there, too.

By the way, I scored bigtime with both LitHum (James Mirollo) and CC. More than made up for the sniveling marching band geek I had to put up with for MusicHum.

Feeling Brilliant

School started on Tuesday. There's a bus stop in front of my house, which means that 20 kids and 5 moms spend twenty minutes hanging on my sidewalk. This morning, I decided to meet the PreK-5th grade set. Know what the best kid-meeting, mom-melting tool is? If you're me, it's the people-friendliest, most demonstrative 6 pound ball of white and black fuzz wearing a pink t-shirt that you can get your hands on.

There was a LINE of kids waiting to pick her up. Once the kids got on the bus, the moms passed her around.

Even with one faux pas (dog toungue up 7 year old girl's nose), we were a hit. Kids were asking me if I had any kids they could come over and play with. Rock on.

I'll bring her back out tomorrow, or maybe I'll just happen to be gardening during the dropoff this afternoon. To appeal to the boys, though, I'll dress her in camo. Or a fireman's costume. Gotta butch up a toy-sized dog anyway I can.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Possible Future Conversation

Scene: Lovely family of 3/4/5 watching... America's Got Talent on TV. After some very nice dog plays the violin, a commercial plays, wherein voiceover says, "ED is a serious problem, affecting millions of men," or some such.

Child: Mommy (or Hey You, depending on how he's feeling), what's ED?

Maer: Um. (Must not say, "A reason to own a vibrator." Must not say that to seven year old.) What, honey?

Child: ED. Do I have it?

Maer: No, darling. ED is an owie that old men get. (Whew, good job! Too bad I can't distract him with a bouncing ball like the dogs.)

Child: What kind of owie?

Maer: An owie that makes them sad. (Stop asking. You're seven. Damn you, Bob Dole, for mainstreaming Viagra so many years ago. I could have handled a question about douching, but ED?)

Child: Okay.

Child turns back to television in time to watch David Hasselhoff sing Hooked on a Feeling. Maer silently thanks Omar Bradley for leading the Allied Spring Offensive, if only so that this crap isn't on the radio everyday. And, just cause I'm wondering, are Germans into pseudo-kidnapping of prostitutes? Or is it just the relationship between a man and his Kitt that turns them on?

Think that'll work? Or will it just cause my kid to say, "Do you have ED, Mister?" to every sad old man he meets? Because that could be 1. troubling, 2. hard to explain to a social worker if he's a sad old man, or 3. freakin' hilarious.

5 Days Post Surgery

I'm getting hits regarding Dog Paralysis. Bear with me if this doesn't interest you, but I think there are a bunch of scared dog owners out there, and so I'm going to tell them that they might be ok. Cause it really really blows when your dog goes limp at 2 AM.

Missy is doing very very very well. My parents picked her up from the surgical clinic today, learned how to express her bladder, were shown the PT moves they'll have to do, and were given instructions on ways to keep her mostly immobile but not crated.

The vet says that her prognosis is better than they could have imagined. In cases where a disc ruptures and causes total paralysis, it isn't good. Without surgery, there is no shot for the dog to regain movement. If a disc ruptures and movement and deep pain sensations are still active, surgery within 48 hours is 80%-ish successful. In cases like ours, with pain, back spasms, a lower back (as opposed to mid back, where most occur) rupture, and no deep pain reaction and paralysis, surgeries done within 12 hours have a 30% chance of a good outcome, which means she'll be almost as good as she was.

She is not yet standing on her own, but she has regained some bladder control. She can wag her tail, feel touch on her back half, and can squat on her back legs for just a bit before she starts to slump. We've been told it can take up to a month for her to be able to stand on her own. The steroids are making her very thirsty. My parents' other two dogs, a Shep-Mix and a Chihuahua, are walking by to check on her every once in a while -- the Shep sniffs her staples, licks her face, then runs away. It seems to freak her out that Missy is hurt, as the Shep is usually the "mommy" to Missy.

So, if you're finding my blog because your puppy has blown a disk, has IVD, or is having a poor reaction to anesthetic, I'm very sorry. Sometimes things can be done. Sometimes things work. Take care.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Puppy Dress Up

Someone out there bought her pup a rhinestone T-shirt today.

It got me thinking about the two pink tees my little pup has, as well as the "special occasion" collars we have for both dogs, ready just in case the pope ever came to visit. (That'd be John Paul II, I was a big fan, as much as a godless heathen can be, at least. This new guy, not so much.)

So I spent a half hour chasing the pap around, then forcing her limbs into shirtsleeves at odd angles. I had really, really hoped to have these photographs finished before The Hub came home, cause, you know, when you've yet to shower, vaccuum, brush dogs, or weed garden, it is bad form to be dressing up puppies and posing them so as to best show off their duds.

No dice. However, he was suitably tickled by my verve, I suppose, cause he grabbed the dog's hiney and held her still.

This is our version of Monkey Torture.

I splurged on actual doggie clothing in San Diego, when I discovered that Lucky Dog was mere blocks away from the Gaslamp Hilton. My credit card smoked for days, and not just after sex.
Big Fuzzy makes a great dog statue. Sometimes I want to put a little sign in her mouth that says "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here," and sit her down on the front porch.
Here's The Hub with the assist. The second outfit is always harder to get on than the first. Little Fuzz also has a collar for the debutaunte ball, but she's so furry now that the rhinestones are merely glimmer.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I Rock at Parenting! Totally!

Whew, what an exciting day with the kids!

We started off this morning with breakfast. Cap'n Crunch with Jolt Cola instead of milk. The kids loved it!

After that, we tried out some of the "backup" activities I'd come up with a few weeks ago.

First, we got up on the roof and cleaned out the gutters. Those little hands are great at getting leaves out of tight spaces!

Next, I taught them how to juggle. Sadly, I'm not very good at the juggling, so I had to call my pal for advice. I asked her if we should start with butcher knives or hedgehogs. She reccommended something I hadn't even thought of -- medical waste! Dude, their hand-eye coordination was spot-on.

After that, I lost track of them for about six hours. They must have had fun.

For dinner, I made funnel cakes.

Then we went to the pet store, where I bought them a ferret with intact scent glands. They said I'm the best babysitter ever! Their parents are going to be so happy I was proactive on this.

Now we're sitting around watching Kill Bill, vols. 1 and 2. They totally loved the part where Beatrix Kiddo takes out Elle's eye. We rewinded that over and over, laughing the whole time.

Okay, not really. I just thought I'd try to scare my mom. I bet part of her believed me until the juggling part.

Since this was a very sudden trip for their fparents, the kids already had a ton of activities planned, since this is the last weekend before school starts.

I fed them bagels with cream cheese and sliced watermelon. The girl misses her fparents, but her anxiety is cured with a phonecall. They usually go with their parents on trips, but not this time, because of the circumstances.

They went to a playdate and school shopping with friends almost all day. When they came home, I made carrot turkeyburgers with american cheese. We all watched Shrek. I french braided the girl's hair. The boy helped William sweep the garage.

Before bed, I read some of the first Eragon book. They liked it, so I'll go pick up a paperback copy for them to bring home with them, since we won't be able to finish it by Sunday.

Overall, a few tears, a little pouting, a bit of testing, lots of dragging feet. They're still unsure about us in general, quiet, and ask permission for everything. I don't think my little dog's feet have hit the ground in 24 hours, and the cat actually shares "her" bed.

Tomorrow we're going to try GeoCaching some easy, local hunts.

Maybe it'll stay this chill for the rest of the weekend. So far, good.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Animal Pics

Peace in the living room.


Not Spasms

Yay, the pup has movement in one of her legs, confirmed by 4 vet techs, not just our hopeful family. Good thing she's smart enough to show them her moves, as Shih Tzus are not known for their brains. Then again, she was bright enough to find me and know I'd take her home, smart enough to wriggle into my mom's heart, and smart enough to get my dad to let her stay. She is not, however, too smart to mistake our neighbor's house for our house and sit on their front porch for three hours waiting to be let inside.

So, Respite

Just for the weekend, two siblings, while fparents are out of town for a funeral. They're sleeping. The cat is curled up on the pillow next to the boy's head. Last night, the girl spent 3 hours throwing a ball for Little McFuzzy. Thankfully, we stocked up on fishsticks and tater tots last week just in case of a "can you take them" call. They wanted to take pictures of our dogs with our camera. This is one we printed out for them to take home with them.

I wrote earlier about how I will, for one day a week for three months, be waited on by the son of a friend. Ya, he got caught again, smoking in his bedroom, with the door open, while his mom was downstairs making dinner. Great. Something I didn't know was that if you don't go pick your kid up from juvy in a "timely" matter, you get arrested for abandonment. So much for the theory that a night or two in lockdown would be a good learning experience for a kid.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Something that sucks

Shih Tzu + ruptured disc in back = paralysis => pain => morphine => emergency surgery => 30% good outcome

QED this morning sucks


Dear Dr. Google, DVM
Suck it.

Update: Missy is out of surgery. We went and visited her, and she seems to be coming out of it ok. Very groggy, will be on morphine for a few days, and the 12 inch zipper closure scares the heck out of us. Won't know for a few days if the surgery will reverse either the paralysis or the pain, but we did see a little movement in her back legs -- might have just been reflex, sinceshe' not supposed to be able to do that under any circumstances only 5 hours after surgery.

Not Much

I have a lot of things swimming in my head.

For example, innaccuracies in my homestudy, which I just got a copy of today, which is being sent out to children's workers. Our homestudy says we will consider keeping the child's given name... I have no idea where that came from. We did say that if a child was named after a drug (or in Freakonomics fashion, if the child were named Shithead), we would change his name, since we were told that has been known to happen. But... that's not the same as "strongly consider(ing) changing the name or adding a nickname" because we want to "avoid future teasing by other children if there name is too different." No, no, no. To me, it sounds like we feel that every child should be named one of ten things, and anything outside those parameters will be met with legal white-out no matter what. But maybe it will read differently to professionals.

Also, we asked to be certified for 0-18, though we were most interested in 5-16. We were certified for 5-16 only, according to the homestudy. Plus they got The Hub's age wrong (birthdate correct), his job wrong, and it says he was in the military, which he was not.

The recent firstmother-aparent trouble has been very hard for me to read about. I'm not a fan of what goes on in a lot of domestic infant adoption, but I so very much envy there being a possibility of contact with the first family. I wish my kids, whoever they are, would be able to see their parents, get letters, send pictures to them, but it is very unlikely that will be possible. I don't know, it's all zooming around in my head, and part of me is so angry at people who hurt their kids that I can't articulate it well, even though I do think that reunification should be the goal.

I don't really have much more to write. Not feeling bloggy this week, just ready and commenty. But I did begin sewing blankets and dolls this week. Just something to keep busy.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Time for Punishment

Starting this weekend, I will be putting some common sense into an overparented 17 year old's head. Among the lessons for which he is matriculating:

How to Start and Use a Lawnmower, Weedwhacker, Shovel
Landscaping 101
If you're smoking a joint in the mall parking lot and you see a security guard coming, drop the weed.
How to Change a Litterbox
Dog Pooper-Scoopering
How to do Laundry, from Sorting to Folding.
Citizen's arrests done by security guards can also be referred to as kidnapping when he locks you in the back of his car.
Basic Food Preparation: Ramen, Mac and Cheese, Canned Soup, and Beyond
Posession of less than two ounces is called a misdemeanor
How to Vaccuum, Dust, Mop, Scrub, Disinfect, and Organize
Basic Closet Organization
When and Where to Lawyer Up

Seriously, doesn't it sound like my friend's kid getting charged with a Class B Misdemeanor is one of the best things to happen to me this week? She's sending him to all her friends' houses on a rotating schedule every night for the next three months, since he can't be unsupervised, and for the next semester she teaches a class until 8 PM. That's one way to make a kid work off lawyer's fees and fines.

Edited to add:
I just thought of more -- call it extra credit.
How to Store Stuff in the Attic
What a Garage Should Look Like

His mother is encouraging creativity.

The Otter at the End

Thanks to The Lovely Mrs. Davis, today we're celebrating 37 years of Sesame Street. My mother says I learned to tell time at two years old so that I could watch the Street each day, so I knew I would write a post describing what kinds of books, shows, movies, and music from my childhood I plan on sharing with my children. (And yes, I do consider Buffy the Vampire Slayer a part of my childhood, as the series began when I was sixteen.) After I settle the logistics of such a plan, this post becomes a story of how Jim Henson contributed to my neuroses, divined a husband from a boyfriend, and is the lynchpin of a family tradition.

Within the next few months, I will be a mother for the first time. Right now, my husband and I don't know if our child will be male or female, we don't know if we'll have a single child or three, and we don't know if they'll be infants or teenagers. We are adopting from foster care.

When adopting from foster care, you check, or don't check, a lot of boxes to narrow down the children to whom you might be matched. Male or female? 0-5 years old, 6-11, 12+. Single child or sibling group? Degree of legal risk? Limited English proficiency? ADHD? Prenatal drug exposure? These questions aid placement workers during homestudy reviews, but they are preliminary, they deal more in conditions. Later on, you find out how well you suit each other, but families don't get matched to children based on a shared fondness for One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.

Since we're most interested in children over six, our kids will have their own preferences firmly set before we have the pleasure of meeting them. Yes, I'll expose them to the things I like, and the things I liked as a child, but I will not try to remake them in my image. They are already themselves. If my son worships Spiderman, I'm not going to try to convert him to Batman, no matter how much cooler I think the accessories are. My kids will not be blank slates, and if creating continuity means that we spend money on something with Hillary Duff's image on it, I will summon every tool I learned back at the Black Box Theater Company to mask my horror.

I want them to love the things I loved, but lets just pretend that my kids refuse the majority of my musical, cinematic, or literary advances. They have their tastes already, thankya very much, and no Mommy-Come-Lately will turn them into consumers of the works of Butthole Surfers, Henry Rollins, Stanley Kubrick, or Joss Whedeon. The runway scene in The Muppets Take Manhattan will fail to impress, even with all those parasols. While I do the dishes listening to Primus, they will stalk into the kitchen and beg for noise-blocking foam to be poured into their ears Right Now. While I watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer as I fold laundry, they will scoff and mumble about cheesy first season special effects. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH will be pronounced lame. I may even be lectured as to why Jessica Simpson is better than Gwen Stefani. The Fraggle Rock DVDs we ordered last month may procure eyerolls. There's a chance that Roald Dahl, Lemony Snicket, Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss will be rebuffed as bedtime reading, as in, "Mom, don't try to James and the Giant Peach me tonight. I just want to watch That's So Raven."

But here's the plan: Our kids are going to be exposed to so much new stuff, that just once in a while, something will have to agree with them -- call it the blind squirrel theory. If we can find one CD's worth of music that we all tolerate, be it Tom Waits, Dinosaur Jr, Cat Stevens, Beck, or Nirvana, we'll listen to it till the wheels come off.

With all that said, there is one movie that is important to me, and this movie I will play even in spite of any protests, whether our children are 2 or 15 when they become our family.

For about twenty years, I had fragments of a movie floating in my head. Name of the movie? Nope, didn't have that. Characters in the movie? Fuzzy singing potatoes, if I had to name a genus and a species. See, I thought that I'd seen this move in first grade, right before the Winter vacation, sitting crosslegged in Mrs. Lindbloom's classroom. But then I never saw it again, and you'd figure that, since it was a Christmas movie, it'd be as overplayed as those freaky claymation Rudolph ones. So every once in a while the sing-song phrase, "There ain't no hole in the washtub," would cross my mind, and I'd become further convinced that my childhood was spent under the hazy influence of too much DEET in the bugspray, and that I had hallucinated the entire movie. C'mon, singing potatoes?

Fast forward nineteen years. I was pretty sure I was in luuuurve. And this time, he had a job! He was nice! He wasn't still sleeping with an ex! The background check my father ran came back clean! Yes, in every way, I was thinking William was the man for me. It was in those first few weeks, the weeks where you gaze at each other and are both lulled and electrified by the other's words, where each touch sends a sizzle down your spine, that I thought to myself, "There ain't no hole in the washtub." I found it strange that my mind would characterize this blossoming relationship in those terms, a line I hadn't reminded myself of in years. I laughed out loud.

I said to him, "I think I saw a movie a long time ago about a washtub, and the washtub was good because it could still be used to wash clothes. Does that sound silly? I just thought of it."

He paused, then said, "You mean Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas?"

I think I looked at him like Britney Spears trying to figure out whether to drink at a bar or drink at home. "Was it about fuzzy potatoes?"

"Well, they're potatoes in the form of otters, I guess."

"Do they sing, 'There ain't no hole in the washtub?'"

"Repeatedly. You know, I watched that movie every Christmas morning from three until I was twelve."

Validation, thy name is William. Twenty years of questioning the safety of feeding children lutefisk evaporates. No, snow blindness did not cause insanity, and DEET? Bring it on.

As for William? I married him six months later.

Our first Christmas together, I unwrapped the collector's edition of Emmet Otter.

We watch it together, fire in the fireplace, snuggling under a blanket on Christmas morning.

Our kids will, too.

We can't wait to know them, whoever they are.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Oh, my

St. Nectaire cheese is some stanky stuff. Belly-lint smelly. "Rye, straw, and mushroom" I can handle, but not assjam. Must find disposable tupperware and put it in a throwaway coffin to contain the musk, cause I think this might settle into the curtains if left on its own.

Doesn't taste too bad, though.

Edit: Um, I can't get the smell off my hands. Lemons only added to the bouquet. Really, it's like I went searching for my wedding ring in a bucket of raw sewage.

So I'm a Planner

The Hub isn't real fond of checking out profiles. He believes our agency when they say that our kids will likely come to us from our region as fost/adopt placements, not straight adoption. While I don't disbelieve that statement, I can't just sit around and not do anything.

However, the kids I mentioned a few posts down seem to have done a number on him. He asked me this evening if I'd heard anything from their caseworker (I had, but only a form letter telling us to get information from our SW so as not to clog the works with pointless emails, which I'm totally cool with). Plus, he showed the video to the ladies at his office, and they once again went nuts. (By the way, before I met and married him, these ladies did their damnedest to get him to settle down with a nice girl, they think he's the cat's pajamas, and even if he went into work naked snorting blow off a hooker's ass, he'd still be the person they tell their sons to grow up to be like.) What this means to me is that he's on board.

Now, once I have a go-ahead from him, I launch into research mode as a way to own the situation. I've done this to varying degrees with lots of kids, and once I do it, they bounce of the website faster than a ham on Easter. I'm okay with that. I've learned a ton. When one kid's favorite food was Italian, I spent a week trying out Northern vs. Southern styles. When two brothers lurrrved to play hockey, I knew the dates and locations of tryouts, practices, and then tried to block out how expensive hockey equipment would be. When IEPs were involved, by golly, I learned what the heck that was. See? Research.

However, these kids didn't give me that much to go on. They love animals. Cool, we have those. Youngest will till fields. Um, maybe we can be weekend sharecroppers, or just teach him how to start the lawnmower? Middle child likes his Gameboy. Woot, so do I. Oldest plays volleyball, loves to draw, gets good grades. Me, too! Yay for drawing! She also wants a young mom. Hey, I' only 13 years older than you are, it would be almost physically impossible for me to be your biological mother, that should count! They like to ride horses. Yay, there's a family 800 feet away that trades barn chores for lessons!

See, nothing I could really get my hooks into and start learning about. A sibling group last month lead me to FFA and 4H, so I've got the animal husbandry angle down pat. I have already had the opportunity to discover how many AP classes our public high school offers, and their national ranking. And I am hopeful that my Sims/World of Warcraft/Oblivion: Elder Scrolls prowess will impress the snot out of any boy in the 10+ range.

So I called up my little sister, who is 8 months older than the oldest child in this group. (This is the sister with the reproduction-repressing babyhood, not the one who couldn't pick out bridesmaid dresses if the fate of Starbucks depended on it.) And guess what? Next year, her best friend's Quinceanera will be featured on MTV on My Super Sweet 16.

This is plenty of tizzy-inducing information. Problem solved.

I should know all about the Quinceanera, but by the fluke of moving from North Star to Lone Star at 15 years and 11 months, I do not. The Quince was a thing of the past, something already relegated to photographs on the mantle and a tiara hanging on the bedpost by the time I made acquaintance with my high school pals.

Temporary fixation in my sights, Jim. Rock and Roll. I loves to throw me some parties, and what could be more family-affirming than planning a Quinceanera (not on the My Super Sweet 16 scale by any stretch, of course, cause, ya know, we're not CEOs of Coca Cola)? So, yup, I'll learn what I can in a "lets be prepared just in case" sort of way, just like I did with PeeWee hockey, the Track Meet Schedule, and trying to understand the appeal of Bratz dolls.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Decision to Adopt

I really like my life as it is now. My husband is amazing, we are happy together, and I think we could continue as we are for years without bringing children into our home. Neither of us has the urge to reproduce yet, and I still prefer puppies over babies.

So we are not adopting because of an overarching biological drive to recombine DNA, nor to cuddle, blow raspberries on tummies, and watch first steps. In reality, babies scare the bejesus out of me. I ascribe this to my youngest sister, who was born when I was a teen, and her very very difficult babyhood, I suppose. No, I was not responsible for her care at all hours as my mother and father were, but I was there to witness the colic (oh my god, the colic), the broken leg (my mom was carrying my sister down the stairs, mom's foot caught in her nightgown, and they fell), and the allergies that first nearly killed her (never, never watch a paramedic trach a baby), then caused a temporary sensory disorder so severe that touching her resulted in bloodcurdling screams so loud that the police once came to our house, alerted by someone walking by our house who thought someone was being murdered. The first year of my sister's life was scary as hell.

Don't take the above paragraph to mean I don't like babies or children. And I'm not going the foster-adopt route to avoid babies (in fact, learning about the attachment cycle during the adoption process has done more than anything else to make me more comfortable with the idea of babies) -- we're still thinking about those. But my story of my sister is part of the reason we're planning on adopting older children, since I don't think I could retain my sanity if a child I am responsible for won't be able to answer the question, "Where does it hurt?" Plus, I've been down the baby path twice in the last sixteen years, and I know that brothers and sisters aren't the same as your own, but I think their coming-along keeps my biological urge sated-- I have a been-there-done-that attitude toward children, sometimes, and I know what ages I like. I do really believe this will make me a better parent, once I am one.

This may sound odd, but we're adopting because we can. The hub and I have a great life, and we'd like to share it. We've read all the "scary books" and we still think we can make it work. We're good people, we think, and we know that we can provide a stable, loving home. We know we can be a soft place to land. We want to be a home for someone without one.

This is not to say we're doing this out of an over-developed sense of altruism. We're adopting children, not social statements, and I don't plan on taking up residence on a cross anytime soon. I'm not an activist -- the only thing I've ever handcuffed myself to is the bedposts. Yes, I'll probably buy a 118,000 minus 1 tee shirt, but that's about as far as I expect my in-your-faceness to go. Yep, I'll have answers for people who ask (I'm anticipating this because there's a good chance my kids will either be another race, or too old to look like they are my biological children), I'll tell my friends about foster-adoption, but above all, I'm going to try to be a good mother to my kids, try to fill in some of the missing pieces there might otherwise be without a permanent family.

I guess what this all leads up to is a question: Is it okay to adopt because you want to, and not because you yearn for a child?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Me, A Source of Hope?

Adoption is still a strange thing for me to get my mind around. When you give birth, you hope for health, maybe pine for a girl or a boy more than the other, but even with all the things that can go wrong, the goal is the same, and it is much up to luck. So it seems to me strange that we're choosing our children.

When I first found Adopt US Kids, I was unnerved, since it reminded me of Petfinder (not to mention AutoTrader, but I can't even think about that). It sickened me to have even thought of the resemblance of the two sites, but there it was. Maybe in a way it makes sense, since the Humane Society preceded Child Welfare, but it was sort of heart-crushing that the same tactics are used to find homes for both children and pets. I'll not dispute the efficacy of photolistings, but the need for them scares me and makes me sad. But I read them, and I ask myself, "Am I his mother?"

I also have an odd reaction to the Wednesday's Child-style segments on the evening news. On one hand, I wish a TV station did that here, so I wouldn't have to rely on ineffective keyword searches where I have to pick a large-ish city then use words like "child love wednesday" for a Google search -- the results can be icky. From another perspective, I think these segments do a lot to gloss over the problems kids face. I just don't know. Are these things good because they get families into the system, or are they bad because they present a rosy picture where there might be a lot of trouble. But it isn't as if I'm immune to the wishful thinking, and I know better. Maybe there are older kids out there who will come into my home and flourish with love and understanding and care, and maybe it will be so hard that I'll sit in the closet and cry for two hours every day. There's just no way to know yet, I suppose.

So I'm sitting around my house watching videos of kids today, and one link I've been forwarded is of 3 siblings. They're in seperate homes, or at least they were 9 months ago when the segment was taped and aired on a local TV station, and although I've seen their writeup over the last few months, I looked at their "moderate" tags and didn't consider them for very long, 'till I was informed that "moderate" can be oh so many things. But I think these are good kids. These are gonna-be-great kids, if that makes any sense. The hopes they have for a family made me cry, cause that's what I do lately while looking at profiles and watching videos of kids. My emotional trigger today was listening to these boys say "I want a mom that is safe," and "I want a mom who will feed me when I need it." So, um, interest form submitted. Ya, I'm sometimes incapable of practicing what I preach, and sometimes I just want to hope for the best.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Digital Voodoo

So now I've left the realm of "Will I be a mom?" and started asking myself "Will I be a good mom?" I have some strikes against me, namely that I don't have kids already and that I might not be a convincing authority figure to a kid who was born when I was 12. There's a chance the purple hair will have to be redyed, too, I'll admit.

Since I'm sick of reading parenting books, bouncing ideas off my friends and family, and researching ADHD, ODD, Conduct Disorder, and RAD, among other things, I've turned to internet voodoo.

Magic 8 Ball Says: Yes
What Kind of Freaky Mother Are You: Punk Rock Mommy
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: ENFJ
What Kind of Muppet Are You: Dr. Bunsen Honeydew

And if that isn't enough, I can go the practical route, and just raise my child according to his zodiac sign. (This is where I start to snort while I laugh.)

Tomorrow, somewhere after forcing my sister to choose the freakin' bridesmaid dresses already, I may even figure out what kind of princess I am. Thrilling.

Friday, August 04, 2006

We're In

I really like my agency. The SW that works with verified families is awesome, she's the reason we chose them, and I'm happy to once again be under her purview. These last five weeks since we finished our last home visit have been very frustrating, though, since we never had any updates other than profiles of kids being sent to us with "Are these children someone you'd be interested in?" So even though it sounded like we were going to be approved, I have been very worried, as 5 weeks is a long time to go without hearing much. You know the hamster on the wheel -- the one in my brain? Ya, he's tired.

In all, we did this very quickly. The stuff from our side, the forms, inspections, meetings, classes, etc, was finished within three weeks of setting first foot into our agency. So then we waited. I didn't want to be the pushy, bitchy type, so I waited pretty quietly, and was happy to redo the paperwork that got lost. But I would have liked more communication, even though they are short staffed. Because they are spread so thin, I didn't want to force myself into their workweek.

If I'm having lunch somewhere and my waiter is in the weeds, I tell him not to worry about me, here's what I want, get to it when you can, and watch out for that one over at the table by the window, she looks like a real bitch. I scrape and stack plates and set them on the edge of the table, return salt and pepper shakers to their original location, and if I can, I leave an amount of cash that won't need change.

But lets say I go to my doctor's office, and my appointment is for 9 AM. If my doc walks into the office at 9:45 and announces to his receptionist that he trounced the OB from the third floor in raquetball, I just might turn green and start screaming, "Hulk smash!"

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I Choose My Choice

There's this episode of Sex and the City where Charlotte announces she's leaving her job to focus on having a baby, charity work, and her redecorating project. Miranda gets judgemental and snotty, of course, and Charlotte stews over it until the next morning. Over the phone, she calls Miranda out for sniping at her, and starts yelling, "I choose my choice! I choose my choice!" Miranda gets so bent that she throws her back out, and she ends up flat on the floor, where Aidan, Carrie's boyfriend, rescues her later on.

I'm having a bit of an "I choose my choice" moment right now. Seriously, when people ask/say ridiculous, intrusive, insulting things, why isn't it socially acceptable to tell them to piss off?

Now You'll Get Pregnant!

So, I love my dad and stuff, but somewhere soon after he found out we are planning on adopting, he laid the, "Just watch, now you'll get pregnant!" line on me. Now, yes, I have had a miscarriage*, but The Hub and I have never worked to get pregnant, and I've been on birth control for about ten years, and my dad knows this. So why would he assume that adopting was going to cure some supposed infertility? (I may be, who knows, but at this time we figure that biological babies could be in our future, and we are planning on knocking me up in two years or so.)

After reading many other accounts of adoptive mums having heard this same thing**, I'm going to guess that this is just another thing people say when they can't quite wrap their minds around adoption. Maybe adoption and its many incarnations are just too vast for the brain to absorb. Maybe "Now you'll get pregnant!" is some reflexive outburst like closing your eyes when you sneeze. Maybe the myth of adoption-as-cure is so ingrained that people can't help but say it, even in cases like me and my dad when there's been no evidence to suggest that pregnancy is desired.

Anyhow, here goes my best recollection about that conversation:
Dad: NYGP!
This is where my mother turns the tsk-tsk sound into my father's name: Laa-rry! He also gets the evil eye.
Maer: Wow. That's a crappy thing to say, Dad. I don't know what to say to you right now.
Dad: Huh?
Maer: Well, you know how excited we are about adopting, right?
Dad: Yes, we're all very excited, I was just saying...
Maer: Are you going to love an adopted grandchild less than another? Because instead of talking about the plans we're making now to have children, which is what the rest of us are bouncing off the walls talking about, you're bringing up something entirely different.
Dad: Oh.
This is where I heat up the Guilt Hot Rod, thankya very much.
Maer: So if you'd rather have biological grandchildren instead, if that's what you're trying to say, just let me know, so at least I know what's on your mind while we're figuring this out. NYGP is about the same as turning the hose on us, because the two things have nothing to do with each other, and because it makes it sound like that's what you'd like better. If I'd told you I'd gone off the NuvaRing and The Hub and I were trying all sorts of new positions and he's eliminating hot baths, then you could say NYGP. Until then, crappy.
Short silence, during which my father goes inside the house to fix himself a drink, probably bemoaning all that effort they'd put into teaching me how to speak, then Mom and I start talking about adoption books and parenting classes. Enter Dad from upstage.
Dad: That was a crappy thing to say.
Maer: That's okay, Dad. You like to say things you think are funny, and usually they are, but sometimes you're an idiot. Is that drink for me?

See? Guilt and shame can be your friends. Use them! Someone might even bring you a cocktail!

Anyhow, after reading so many stories of women who came to adoption during or after getting laid out on the infertility railroad tracks, I started to think about how upsetting it was for me to hear it, and how it would probably be about five thousand, four hundred, seventy-two times worse to hear it if adoption were not my first choice method to build my family. I guess all there is to do is stop the asshattery one Captain and Coke at a time. Or key people's cars. Whichever works best for you.

*My miscarriage was a pretty wacky thing, as I had been on birth control, and had been getting my period at the correct intervals over the 13 weeks or so I was pregnant. During those weeks, I drank, had heat exhaustion, went to Mexico, caught worms from the horse I took care of and took deworming pills, drank a bottle of NyQuil during the flu, swallowed diet pills, changed the cat's litterbox, and all sorts of other things you shouldn't do while you're pregnant. Plus, I was still on birth control. I found out I had been pregnant after I'd started miscarrying when I went to the ER because on (what I thought was) an especially crampy day five of my period, the blood started flowing like free beer on tap, which made me faint, which caused me to hit my head on the coffee table, which then required stitches. The Hub was out of town, so my mom came and brought me to the hospital, where all was revealed over the next 9 hours. I remember yelling at my sister, who showed up around hour 3, telling her to stop crying and to get out of the room when the doctor confirmed I was having a miscarriage. I remember the Demerol. It made the acoustic tile ceiling turn from aqua to pink to yellow, and I saw trails. I would highly recommend Demerol to anyone who finds out she was-but-isn't-anymore 3 months pregnant.

** I'm reading lots and lots of blogs, lots of Foster/Adopt, lots of IA. I'm fascinated by all the different routes there are and want to learn about them, without my own LID. There are a lot of funny, great moms and on-paper moms out there, and I like to read their stories, as it detracts from my own land of the lost situation. But there are a lot of us out there in one stage or another, and they are making this process so much easier. For a while there, I was thinking that in order to get my Mom Card, I'd have to start wearing pleated pants with tapered legs, start denouncing gay marriage, have my hair frosted, and keep a box of white zinfandel in my fridge. I'm not so scared as I was a few months ago, before finding these other women's stories. So, you know, thanks.

Baby Names

We're not planning on changing our children's names unless they want to change them, but I went to this site about stupid baby names from JenEx's blog, and I'm thinking that if I could find these people, I could really help them out. I'm thinking I'll suggest they name their kids using Beer Advocate's Top 100 Beers. Very unique, and will really class up the playground with all those kids named DeVodka, Alize, and Miller! Here are some very very helpful ideas:

Masala Mama
Double Bastard
Alpha Klaus
Trois Pistoles (actually, this is one of my favorite beers ever, yay Unibroue)
Dogfish Head
Old Horizontal

Now seriously, none of those are worse than Luv Joy Seamon, right?

Maybe I'll list the counties of Minnesota and Wisconsin next. Just watch, 20 years from now Le Sueur and Fairbault will be lighting the baby name list ON FIRE.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Crush Syndrome

I cannot look at children right now. Each time I do, and each time I let myself consider a child or a sibling group, I affix a slice of my heart to them. I am a girl who needs to claim, who needs to consider, who needs to relate. By now, though, I am exhausted. As I have said before, I am Adoption Magic.

With the first children, The Boys, I fantasized hourly. I imagined painting their bedrooms, introducing them to our dogs, sending out adoption announcements, going to track meets, building lego cities, baking pizzas for sleepovers, teaching them to drive, hosting Thanksgiving dinners, helping study for AP tests, visits to their sisters, inviting their sisters down for two weeks during the Summer and sleeping in quilt tents in the living room, high school and kindergarten graduations, college move in day... who am I kidding, I was imagining filling up their side of the aisle at their weddings, waiting in the hospital while their children were born, and wondering if they'd bring me comfy slippers and red tulips when I am a happily demented ninety year old living in a nursing home.

During the certification process, I looked at everything I did as doing it for these kids. Yay, I'm so excited to take the cat to get her rabies shot, cause I'm doing it for The Boys! Woot, mowing the lawn is great, cause I'm doing it for The Boys! Writing this six page autobiography is the perfect way to spend a weekend, cause I'm doing it for The Boys! PRIDE classes rock the house, cause I'm doing it for The Boys! Learning about the depraved things parents do to their children is tolerable, because I'm doing it for The Boys! Teach me that CPR, cause it is going to bring me closer to The Boys!

When The Boys came off the waiting children list, I felt like I'd swallowed a black hole. Because I had built up so much for them in my mind, put all that energy toward them and out into the world, I felt all those weeks of wishing, planning, hoping, and loving rushing back at me, back to my heart, collapsing it, and disappearing. Crush Syndrome for the soul, I suppose. Turns out the only medical treatment is amputation.

I made it through our homestudy meeting that morning. Then I threw up. Then I cried. That night, I was the saddest and drunkest girl in the world. The next morning, I was able to remind myself that The Boys now belonged to someone, that they would have a family, that they would be taken care of, and that maybe a piece of them had already been made better by whatever cosmic force I'd released into the universe toward them.

By the end of the holiday weekend, I'd felt the worst, and had reconciled myself to thinking that maybe The Boys had been placed into the family that had their sisters, or maybe it was someone they already knew, but wherever they were going, it had to be a great place, since only a week before they'd not had any prospects coming around the bend. (Noticing a pattern here? Yes, I have a rich inner life.) At our social worker's suggestion, I'd written an email to The Boys' caseworker the morning they were removed from the photolisting regarding their status. When I saw her name in my inbox, my heart only stopped for a moment. I expected a cursory reply, and a reminder that there were thousands of children available, and thanks, come again.

I was not expecting to be told that The Boys were placed on hold until their profile could be updated to include three other siblings, at which placement would be pursued for all five children together. I threw up. I wobbled into my husband's study, croaked the news, then went into the garage to forage for my emergency cigarette stash. I sat on the front step and cried, lighting three smokes off each other, then watching them burn down.

So they are still out there, hanging in limbo. Who knows when they will be ready for placement together, as their sisters' status may be legally resolved in a week, or not for two years, and the oldest is already so near aging out of foster care that every week is valuable. Add to that we don't know, and won't be told, anything about the three "new" children other than the fact of their existence, and this situation zooms past improbable and lands smack on impossible. And that's without discussing the mere idea of five children. They might age out of foster care, the oldest most certainly will. Because of their new fiveness, we will leave them in foster care and hope someone else will love them. We suck.

They will never know how much we wanted them. They will never know how we've walked away from them.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Dear Kids

Here's some of what we hope for:

Weekend trips to the beach
Stories at bedtime, buying books
Homework spread all over the kitchen table
Someone else who likes homemade macaroni and cheese
Thanksgiving Dinners, Halloween costumes, 4th of July fireworks, valentines
Monopoly, Scrabble
Christmas vacations spent with family at opposite sides of the country
Sports games, school plays, dance recitals, cheer camps, skateboarding
Family portraits
Disneyworld, Six Flags, Seaworld, Knotts Berry Farms
Combing eBay for Lucky Jeans, Hollister shirts, and Adidas track jackets
Introducing you to snow and iceskating on lakes
Explaining why Christina > Britney
Walking across the Mississippi River
Sleepovers at our house
Not having tons of leftovers each time we cook
Forcing you to watch the Firefly DVDs
Concerts at Gruene Hall, tubing trips down the river
Video games, skeeball, rollercoasters, wrapping presents, roquefort cheese
The Hub's business trips to cool places where we all get to tag along

Fun and Easy Gaphics

This site makes supercool anime style graphics. I rarely have a flower in my hair, but I do carry a little pooch around with me when she does her obnoxious I-wont-jump thing.