Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Difference Between Boys and Girls

Dinner at our house last night:

Mercie is bumping her sippy cup against Eric's sippy cup in a way that can only be described as "flirtatious."

In a high, falsetto voice she said, "Hi, my name is Princess Serafina. What's yours?"

Eric looked at her like she just lost her marbles. "Nothing," is his well-thought out response.

Mercie persists. "What is your name, prince?"

"Nothing," Eric growled.

Mercie tried one more time. "I said, my name is Princess Serafina. What is your name?"

"Sippy cup," says a resigned Eric.

"Oh no," says Mercie, in this same falsetto voice. "Your name is Prince James Eric Potato Head Sippy Cup."

This speaks volumes about gender relationships through the years. Poor Eric.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thinking Ahead

Grace: Oooh! Look at the Christmas lights! Mommy, do we have christmas lights?
Mom: Yep.
Grace: Can we put them outside like that house?
Mom: Sure.
Grace: Like up high, like that house?
Mom: Hmm....we'll see.

Mia: You'd have to climb up on the roof.
Mom: That might be scary.
Grace: You might fall.
Mia: Then you'd be hurt bad. Or you'd be deaded.

Grace: Huh. If Mommy was dead us kids would have a LOT of work to do.
Mia: Grace, I could lift you up to put the clothes in the dishwasher.
Grace: We'd have to make all the dinners, always.
Mia: I can use knives.
Grace: I can open mayo.
Mia: Blech. I hate mayo. Only you like mayo.
Grace: You can have PB & J.

Grace: We'd have to walk to the bus stop all by ourselves.
Mia: Or you could just walk to Timmy's house and go with his family.
Grace: I'd be scared to walk all by myself.
Mia: I'd go with you.

Grace: We'd have to change Eric's diapers. Don't worry, Mia--I'll change him. Except the poopy diapers. You can change the poopy ones.
Mia: Eeewww! I don't want to change the poopy diapers!
Grace: You'd have to. Mommy would be dead; you'd have to change Eric.
Mia: FINE.

Mom: You know, you could do more work right now. You don't have to wait until I'm dead. You could help do more work at our home and maybe then we'd have more time to do fun things, like go to the park or play games, if you helped me do things like laundry.

Loooooooooooooooooooooong, eternally loooooooooooooong pause:

Grace: Nah.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Now Why Didn't I Think of That?

Apparently my jammy problem is solved, thanks to my good friend's husband.

It does bring up a new point, however. My friend (we'll call her Etsy) and I have a running competition for the Queen of Bad Fashion Taste crown. Self-proclaimed title, since I've never actually seen Etsy wear anything that would give her claim. After seeing the creation above, I'm pretty certain we were both off base, and the real Queen of Horrendous Style is her husband, who for the sake of blogging anonymity we'll refer to as Eve.

Just to head off the squawks of protest I can already hear floating down the street (that would be Eve squawking, not Etsy, who is probably snickering into her hand as she reads this post while choking out reassurances to Eve that he is actually a paragon of male style and really, honey, you look even hotter than Edward or Barack or Johnny in a suit), let me make just one succinct point:

Red Sweat Pants. In public.

I rest my case. One thing still puzzles me, though. How did the man whose brain came up with the revolting image above manage to spawn Elise? Now, Emily & Ethan, on the other hand--that makes total sense.

I hereby formally renounce the crown and pass it along to a much more deserving recipient. In the echelons of Bloggersville Warped Style Sense, you reign supreme. Long live Queen Eve.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Jammies Dilemma (Warning: contains bear nudity..a little bare nudity, too)

Item no.2458 that you didn't know (and probably didn't want to know) about me:

I have this thing for cute jammies. They just make my little heart all fuzzy and warm. For real. It's a very simple, tiny thing that makes my life happier. I get very attached to Cute Jammies and everything related--robes, snuggly socks, and adorable slippers. My mom sent me the Cutest Ever Jammies 17 years ago and I wore it down into tatters. Literally. I couldn't give them up. I finally held a retirement ceremony and cried when I put the tissue-thin rags in the garbage. My sister Smolly gifted me the World's Bestest Snuggly Socks for Christmas a few years ago and I was still wearing them when they were threadbare and full of holes.

Why bring this up?

Because apparently "cute" and "warm" don't belong in the same sentence within the minds of current sleepwear designers. Living in the midst of the Rocky Mountains as I do, this is a problem.

Judging from the offerings in the store, sleepwear manufacturers assume that when we women ask for warm jammies, we mean this:

Not so. No warmth factor here.

Or, at the other end of the spectrum, that we must be hunting for this:

Warm it may be. Cuteness leaves something to be desired.

What is a girl to do?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

National Adoption Month

It's no secret that my family was formed through adoption--when both parents are white and the children are all African-American, biracial, Chinese, or some combination, it's pretty obvious and often garners unwanted attention. We're used to it by now. Okay, not really, but I'm getting better at not kicking strangers in the grocery store. From time to time someone makes a sympathetic comment about how sad it is that I don't have any of "my own."

I have a range of replies to this, most of which are very civil and polite and involve no eye-rolling, and a very few of which pop out of my mouth at certain times of the month when Witch-Wendy surfaces. Lest you think I overreact, I ask how YOU would feel if total strangers regularly came up to and questioned the validity and realness of your family relationships, right in front of your impressionable small children. I thought so.

In honor of National Adoption Month, which, coincidentally, is the month that two of my four had their adoptions legally finalized, I'm going to turn the tables. I've always felt a little sorry for all those poor people whose lives aren't touched by adoption. So, in no particular order, here is my list of reasons that I LOVE adoption and wouldn't in a million years trade the way my little family was created:

1.) I can brag all I want about my kids and it's not an ego thing--those aren't my genes that created those brilliant, talented, loving, gorgeous little people.

2.) Knowing firsthand, in the most personal, down-to-the-bone kind of way, that love is thicker than blood, blind to color/race/ability or any of the other divisions society puts on it.

3.) If someone gets tired of hearing me blather on about my kids, or tires of seeing yet more pictures of said kids, there's always someone else! Birthfamilies exponentially increase the number of people who love my kids, trulymadlydeeply love them. Can a child ever have too much love?

4.) An excuse to immerse myself in new worlds. I've discovered that I love African-American literature and Chinese peasant art, and have a thing for black history. Who knew?

5.) Validation of my ability to parent! Yes, the endless round of social workers, attorneys, and judges is beyond annoying (although we had the very BEST attorney in the world through the whole journey, duly noted). But unlike most parents, I've got at least ten different homestudies that pronounce me a fit parent--heck, most of them say all kinds of nice things about my mothering. And four times a judge has concurred, signing documents that make my relationship with my kiddos legally binding and real. On bad days I've been known to go through some of those documents and read them aloud as a reminder that once upon a time, at least one person thought I was up to the task.

6.) One word: cornrows.

7.) Having each precious one sealed in the temple. It doesn't get any better.

8.) Connections. My children's birthfamilies have become part of my family. I am so blessed to have them in my life. Through the adoption and infertility groups I've been a part of, I've found some of my dearest friends, friendships that transcend our common experiences in adoption and carry over to the rest of life. And because adoption is such a visible, public thing for our family, I frequently get sweet experiences of proud grandparents showing pictures of their adopted grandbabies, or whispered conversations--punctuated by tears and lots of hugs--with relative strangers who placed a baby for adoption months or years ago and felt the rightness of that choice confirmed when they saw our family together.

9.) I've learned things I didn't know about myself. I can survive things I didn't think I could survive. I can love a baby and say goodbye to that baby and know that I'll do it again even though it will hurt again, because even if it's only for a day or a month or a year, it's still worth it to love that baby. I've learned that I can wait. I've learned that I can give up control--yes, even a control-freak like me. I've learned to let go of my plan and let God accomplish His purposes.

10.) I've learned things I didn't know about God. His plan is always better. Newsflash to me. Several times now I've watched mothers say heartbreaking goodbyes to a child they carried, birthed, and loved, goodbyes made possible only because that love was strong enough to do the impossible. I understand the Atonement a little better than I did before. I've sat with women who placed a child for adoption thirty or forty years ago, who remember every detail as if it were yesterday, who tell me that a day has not gone by that they haven't thought of that baby. I understand in a deeper way Isaiah 49:15-16 and just how much God loves us. And I should correct no. 9 above. I can't survive anything on my own. With God, I can come through anything. He's been with me through every loss, every goodbye, every magical and brand new welcome, every moment of connection. I know that He keeps His word, that "I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up" (Doctrine & Covenants 84:88).

Happy National Adoption Month,
from a very happy adoptive Momma.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Darcy, O Darcy, Wherefore Art Thou, My Hunka-hunka?

It has been brought to my attention by my friend Becky (and in all fairness, by my friends Julie N. and Julie R. and Alicia and Jen and Melissa L and Melissa D....we'll just stop there before I get depressed) that I am a bit lacking in the romance department.

We're not talking the actual romance department, in which case my response would be a big, fat DUH, since it's only been a few months since the Man Formerly Known as My Husband officially became the Man Formerly Known as My Husband instead of my actual Husband. Since I plan to start looking for the Man Who Will Be My Forever Husband in approximately forty years--or the onset of the Millenium, whichever comes first--it would be safe to describe my life as void of romance.

However, the romance my friends are referring to is the fictional variety, the type that has 99.9% of the fairer sex swooning over Darcy and his fellow lover-boys. For some bizarre reason I'm lacking that Jane Austen gene.

I've never worried about this teeny little character deficiency until today. Becky asked what other romantic heroes I have, from any other books, and I was stumped. I've been racking my brain all day and I still can't think of a single literary hunkaburninglove, out of the thousands and thousands of books crammed into this brain of mine over the 29 years I've been alive and on the planet. Or has it been 27? Michelle worked it all out for me the other night.

This is a concern. How will I know what I want in The Man Who Will Be My Forever Husband if I can't even point to a pretend, made-up Romantic Ideal and say, "That! I like that! I'll take one of those to go, please!"
Here's my plan: since I have approximately forty years to figure this out, the reading begins now. I just went to the library and brought home three JA novels. I believe I mentioned in an earlier post how I'd rather have a colonoscopy than read JA again. Still thinking that. Bring on the snake tube. But hey--29 year olds don't get routine colonoscopies, so I'm stuck with JA. I'm appealing to all my friends here--please, please give me some romantic book suggestions that might actually work, that might actually make me think "oohlala" and feel all twitterpated. I need a LOOOOOONG list to get through 40 years.

On or before November 14, 2048 I will get back to you with my discoveries. Until then, here is some nice eye candy, which reassures me that I am capable of thinking "oohlala," given the right impetus.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Reminder--Friday, Come, Talk, Read, Blah, Blah, Blah

Friday (that would be tomorrow), come talk books. My house, 8 pm, "Till We Have Faces" by C.S. Lewis. Bring food if you want. Bring random thoughts and questions about the book. Bring a friend. Bring yourself. See you there.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Royal Momminess

It is a well established fact that I am raising three genuine princesses. Sometimes four, depending on the day--Eric hasn't quite been won over to the "prince" concept and sometimes insists that he is also a princess. Whatever. Some battles aren't worth fighting. Besides, those pictures of him in full ballerina getup will be priceless blackmail in his teens. Or not. Knowing him, he'll use it against me by threatening to leave the house in pink princess dress at age 14, and he'd have no qualms about doing it.

But I digress.

Being princesses is not an abstract concept to my girls. It is a definite reality of their lives. This was brought home last week at the dentist's office. Mia had lots of questions about how things worked, and Dr. J finally suggested that maybe she could be a dentist when she grew up. I was chagrined when she looked at him like he'd just suggested she could become a slimy green alien when she grew up. "NO WAY," was her emphatic response. "I am NOT going to be a dentist when I grow up." Silly mommy, trying to show that my child did in fact have nice little dreams for the future, had to ask, "What ARE you going to be, Mia?" Poor, longsuffering Mia gave Mommy the 'you-are-dumber-than-a-rock-but-you-are-my-mommy-so-I-will-humor-you' look and informed us that she will be a princess when she grows up because, duh, she already IS a princess.

But I digress again.

This is the real point of my post: Mia finally figured out that if she's a princess--and she absolutely, truly is--than that must make me...yep, you got it. Okay, she did have a little help figuring this out. Not that I'd have any motive for wanting my kids to believe I'm an Absolute and Supreme Ruler.

For the past three days I haven't been Mommy. I've been Queen. My word is law because we all know that nobody disobeys a Queen. Instead of loud and impatient screams for Mom I've heard sweet little petitions:
"Queen, queen, could I please have more milk, your majesty?"
"Excuse me, my Queen--would you scratch my back?"
"Queen! Queen! I need to go potty NOW" (Even queens run for that particular call).

It's a bit scary how naturally being worshipped, adored, and unfailingly obeyed comes to me.

I could so get used to this.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Reneging Once Again on My Vow to Leave Politics Out of My Blog

In the past 24 hours I’ve seen many posts and comments online with the common thread, “I’m terrified for our country” because of one or another outcomes of yesterday’s election.

I’m bewildered. I feel many things about our country, about this latest election. Fear isn’t one of them.

Last night when I stepped into the classroom I was greeted with a chorus of voices asking if we could get out early. Several students were hoping to get to the polls before they closed; the rest wanted to watch election results. During the short forty minutes we held class laptops and cell phones were open and every few minutes someone would call out the latest updates from the polls.

I teach at a university that had the second-highest voter registration in the country. Only Berkeley beat us out. Far from being manipulated by a liberal media—an accusation I’ve heard leveled at this new generation of voters—these “voting virgins” are engaged, sophisticated, and thoughtful citizens. They think carefully about the issues facing our country. They listen to their parents. They look to history and ahead to the future. They are deeply concerned with the long-range ramifications of political process, for their children, our nation, and our world.

When I voted yesterday it was a quick and painless process. I didn’t have to travel long distances to exercise that privilege. I wasn’t afraid of violent reprisals against me or my family. There weren’t any soldiers with machine guns standing guard. What an incredible country!

We’re living in economic uncertainty and troubled times. Given our national lack of financial responsibility it’s quite likely to get worse before it gets better. We’ll survive. We’re living with increasingly polarized tensions over civil rights and religious liberties issues, and there don’t seem to be any easy answers. We’ll survive. We’re engaged in a global war on terrorism that is pointing out previously unimagined vulnerabilities in our national security. We’ll survive. In fact, we’ll thrive.

This isn’t a starry-eyed Pollyanna complex. Like most citizens, there are social and political issues facing our nation that concern and worry me. Yet I see so many more reasons to rejoice.

Who would have thought that less than a century after women won the right to vote, we’d be in the middle of an election year with an unprecedented number of strong female candidates, for nearly every office, including the vice-presidential ticket? It’s a far cry from the days when medical textbooks taught the ‘scientific fact’ that women’s brains were incapable of intellectual thought because they were smaller. And just forty years after desegregation, who could have imagined that we’d elect our first black president? I tucked my babies into bed last night with the realization that the world Martin Luther King dreamed was so much more a reality than I ever expected to see in my lifetime.

That’s what it’s all about, I believe. We live in a nation that constantly seeks to become better, to learn from the past, to learn from mistakes, to improve upon what we have. It might take a long time, it might be painful, but we never quit trying. We’ve survived Republican leadership; we’ve survived Democratic leadership. We’ve survived hostage crises, economic depressions, energy shortages, world wars, and 9/11. Heck, we’ve survived O.J.’s glove, Monica Lewinsky’s dress, and Paris Hilton’s videos—we’re not about to fall apart because of one election.

Our future is incredibly bright. I look at my students, my children, and I know we are in good hands. More importantly, I look to Him who notes the sparrow’s fall, and I know we are in good Hands. How can I feel anything other than hopeful?