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Monday, March 4, 2013

Waiving the Red Flag

That's it. I'm done. Winter has officially beaten us all. Little W was in Children's Hospital most of last week with pneumonia. Little H is endlessly snotty and I am recovering from strep, tonsilitis and a sinus infection, ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Nothing was scarier than how sick W was before his Dr sent us to the emergency room. The kid was a rag doll. I thought I was done with W in hospitals for a few decades.
He's home now and convalescing nicely. Trying to get him all better in time for his birthday party. Fingers crossed!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Nor'Easter? More like Bore'Easter

Here's comes the next overly hyped megastorm. Good thing we're all still sick and ready to stay in the house the whole weekend. 
Now Little H is down for the count with a bug just annoying enough to keep him up and crying all.night.long and clinging to me in tears all day. I love a good cuddle day, but not when it's accompanied by screaming. I thankfully, finally got him down in his crib for a nap and when I came down, W was watching a cartoon (lay off, super mom, it's cold and raining and he played his little heart out all day). I took advantage of the serenity and started to clean up the impossibly huge mess in my kitchen from heaven-knows-where and after a few minutes, I heard snoring in the living room. W had fallen asleep watching tv. I quietly switched the tv off, turned off the light and laid a comfy blanket over him. It was such a quiet, intimate moment between us. I tried to soak it up as much as possible. I wanted to curl up in the chair with him, in the blanket, but that would have roused him and he would have gone back to dinosaurs versus Buzz Lightyear again (fyi: the dinos win every.single.time). So my moment of motherly zen was fleeting. But it was just enough to erase all of the mayhem from a sick H and snot covered hoodie and unholy messy house. Thanks for centering me, little guy. You're the best.

Do you ever have moments like that? Where the rest of the world melts away and it's just you, completely in the mothering zone?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How Do You Celebrate Valentine's Day?

It's almost Valentine's Day. We've never done much to celebrate it. We're of the annoying "I celebrate my love to you every day" ilk. But really, do we? Most nights, we clean up after the kiddos, pop on the DVR and stare at our iPhones for an hour before I slog sleepily off to bed and he works from home for an hour or two. I mean, we fully appreciate each other's presence, but we're both usually spent from our days and ready to veg out. I guess that's not really expressing our undying love on a daily basis, but for now, it'll have to do. These kids poop us out.
So while we won't go out to a fancy restaurant or buy each other expensive gifts or enjoy a Love Toilet, we'll maybe sit on the same side of the couch and snuggle a big more, or fold the laundry together or something super romantic like that.
Oh, and I bought myself flowers yesterday. Romance!

Cooking with kiddos

We're all hacking up lungs today. So early on, I decided I wouldn't be changing out of my pajamas. I put the kiddos in comfy clothes and we hunkered in for a quiet day at home. Ok, so quiet isn't exactly the right word. A rambunctious day at home, more like it. I was expecting a good nap out of H because he's been snotty and snuggly so I started to plan something quiet to do for W and I during H's nap. I knew if I had to listen to Toy Story one more time, my head would explode. So I started flipping through my William's Sonoma Kids Cookbook. I got it for W a few months ago. It's a bit old for him, as he can't read or operate a stove. But one day, I know he'll love the recipes in there. For now, he's just my little sous chef. We chose a recipe based on the ingredients we had in the house, cinnamon swirls.
We rolled the puff pastry and spread the sugar with our hands. Messy cooking is the most fun, says W. Then W jumped up and down as I rolled the pastry up into a log and cut it, and placed the pastries on the cookie sheet.
 This recipe was great for a three year old because it only took 5 minutes to make and ten minutes to bake. By the time I cleaned off the cutting board, they were ready.
We gobbled up way too many of them. I'm kind of ashamed of myself, really.
These snacks are completely void of nutritional benefits, but whatever. The kids had a kale smoothie (sshhhh... they don't know there was kale in there) for lunch, so I'm not sweating it. And really, I think the benefit of cooking with Mom outweighs the butter and sugar he inhaled. I hope he always loves cooking with me. It's such a great way to spend time together and it helps reinforce the importance of every day mathematics and following instructions.
Today, a kid's cookbook. Tomorrow, Mastering the Art of French Cooking!

Friday, February 1, 2013

My brain is a gerbil that can't get her footing on her little wheel

I have so many topics to discuss. We went to the zoo the other day which is a whole thing in my head. I'm thinking about taking the Insanity Challenge which is a WHOLE thing in my head. I just made a delicious latte. Ok, so that one's pretty to the point.
My point is that I just can't seem to get anything out of my head today. It's all rolling around in there like a gerbil flopping upside on it's wheel. So here's what I consider to be one of the funniest things on the internet right now. Toodles ya'll.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Holy Sleet, I'm Bored

It's another snowy/sleety/rainy day in these parts. So I've written today off as a lazy day at home, doing puzzles and watching movies with the boys. They played nicely by themselves for about 45 minutes in the next room, so I was even able to catch an episode of my boyfriend, Tony's show, The Layover. Parenting!

I'll be stepping on blocks and books and dinosaurs all day today. But you know what I won't be doing today? Going onto Pinterest for "rainy day" ideas for toddlers and preschoolers. Because you know what? All that horse sh!t is just a lot of flipping work for mom. I made cloud dough once for W and blargh! I was cleaning slippery flour off my kitchen floor for days. And my house smelled sickeningly of baby oil all day. I wanted to ralph. So, I won't be filling a bag with finger paint and taping it to my door. I won't be making any more god forsaken cloud dough. And I won't be making an indoor mini sandbox with rice. My kids can rot in front of the television, thank you very much. Screw you, Pinterest! I free myself of your vice grip. I will be a god-for-nothing, lazy parent today. Ole!
I will NOT be making any more f@&king cloud

Speaking of lazy parenting, I'm currently reading an excellent book. I haven't read many general parenting style books. I can recite the Essential Guide for Parents of Preemies and You Can Adopt, but that's where my parenting research kind of fizzles out. I perused The Happiest Toddler on the Block for a while, but it seemed so far fetched to me. Like, for robot parents. Not parents who have lazy days. Then I found the book I'm currently reading and I just fell in love. It's called The Idle Parent, by Tom Hodgkinson and I think it might have been written just for me. It's magic in type form. Teaching kids to 'just be' and sitting back to let the magic happen is my kind of parenting style. Please, check it out if you're like me and just want to let you kids be free range from time to time so you can sit back and watch No Reservations while snarfing a Diet Coke float for lunch. 
Some of the key points in his idle parent manifesto are:
  • We pledge to leave our children alone
  • We reject the idea that parenting is hard work
  • We drink alcohol without guilt
  • We lie in the bed for as long as possible
  • We read them poetry and fantastic stories without morals
  • We reject the inner Puritan
  • We try not to interfere
  • We both work as little as possible, particularly when the kids are small 
  • There are many paths    
Sounds pretty ok, doesn't it? Coming from a childhood where I suspect my mother was a so-called "helicopter parent," it only make sense for the pendulum to swing back the other way. Not sure if this is your bag or not? You know this book might be for you if any of the following are true:
  • You're happy letting your kids run free at the playground while you play Words with Friends on the bench
  • You let your kids climb up the slide the wrong way, even while other moms are screaming at their kids for the same apparent atrocity
  • You wait for the mother at the birthday party to finish her story about how cake is a big deal because at home, they mostly eat BULGAR, then tell her happily that sometimes you let your son walk to the bakery to eat a cupcake for lunch.
  • You calmly wait for a howl after a large crash before you get up to see what or who is broken. 
  • Your baby proofing begins and ends at plugs in electric sockets and an upstairs gate.
  • You don't shelter your kid from good music, just because there's cursing in it
Check it out. It's a good thing. Also a good thing? The aforementioned Diet Coke float I just made to wash down my lunch. Yessiree, today's shaping up to be an ok day.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ain't No Party Like a Liz Lemon Party Because a Liz Lemon Party is Mandatory

Next week marks the end of one of my favorite shows of all time, 30 Rock. I want to have coffee with Liz Lemon. She's on a very short list of amazing sitcom women. And I will just miss her so very, very much. Not much else to say about it, really. So here's a bunch of YouTube clips from a really classy show. Weep not for the memories.

At least I still have Leslie Knope. Now walk away from YouTube, Linds...

...In Which I Find Some Time for Me

Confession, ya'll: I pluck my eyebrows in the car because it's the only place I have to do so. And I only do it about once ever six weeks. So... yeah. When I paint my nails, I text pictures of the event to my friends. Just today, I took ten minutes to master the art of sock bunnery and was so proud, I texted it to the friends I knew would feign interest. Taking time to do things for myself is very, very low on my list of priorities (and I don't consider sitting on the stool in the kitchen, pinteresting on my iPhone while hiding from the kids "me time"). But that's something I'd like to change this year. The kids aren't in a constant state of AAAAACK anymore and I think I've got this mom-of-two thing down a bit more and I'm ready for a little Summer of George.

Damn tight sock bun, son. But worthy of mass text? Really? Also, judge not the walls. It was that way when we moved in (ahemfouryearsago).
I'm not gonna like, liposuction my double chin and lay around eating bon bons or anything looney like that.  I just want to do more things for me. Like remember to pluck my eyebrows more than once every six weeks. Or start saving for a new bathroom so I don't have to pluck in the car anymore <insert wishful dream bubble>.
This weekend, I'm supposed to go out with a friend to celebrate her divorce which by definition, means a hangover will be involved. So that's cool. Last weekend we actually got a sitter and went out with friends. Or I'll paint my nails more - and when they start to chip, I'll take the time to actually remove the paint instead of looking like a 14 year old girl for a month. Or I'll make shaving my legs in the shower such a commonplace affair, that I can stop announcing it, proudly.

Sometimes I feel like the only mom who can't hold her shit together. But I can't be, right? Surely there are other women out there who feel the need to document when they take the time to learn how to jam a sock in their ponytail, right? Right?

Monday, January 21, 2013

sniffle sniffle snort

We've been sick since Christmas Eve. W is finally getting over it, but I woke up with a fresh cold this morning, so I know it's just a matter of time before he falls. H has an immune system of steel so he misses all the germs. He's a snotty mess right now, though. He's getting four molars and two bottom teeth. So he's even more delightful than the sick one. I'm fairly certain that 93% of my home is covered in a thin, dried sheen of mucous.
I'm all about natural treatments of cold discomfort. I have a neti pot, and use humidifiers at night and drink ass tons of tea. But I'm all about otc medications for me and the little ones. I try to only give them their Tylenol or Advil before bed, but I'm super quick to pop a pill to be able to face the day. My current favorite is Mucinex because it doesn't make me loopy. I use to love to cuddle up to a box of purple Sudafed, but it makes me trip the light fantastic and that's no good with the little ones that actually want to do something other than stare at the wall, so that's been pushed to the back of the medicine closet, for now. 

What do you do for your kids when they have a cold? What helps them to sleep through the night when they're sick or teething?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Birthday

Christmas is a tough time for birthdays. I'm working hard (and starting early) to make sure H's birthday is always a stand alone event and not lumped into Christmas. There will always be Birthday wrapping paper and Christmas paper. A birthday cake will never be served at a family Christmas party. Henry will have a proper birthday, dangit.
Tonight, I will wrap his presents in colorful birthday wrapping paper. Tomorrow, we will eat bright, non-holiday themed cupcakes and will sing happy birthday at the top of our lungs.
Our littlest boy is one. And walking. How on earth did this happen so fast? We missed the first three months. I guess that didn't help. Then we blocked out so much from the dark days of endless puking. Then BAM. it was birthday time. Our house is infantless once again. And will stay so for a long, long time, hopefully (?).

Trying to Understand the Unthinkable

Ive been crying a lot recently. I don't live near Sandy Hook. I don't know anyone affected. But I'm a mother. And apparently, that's all it takes to be shaken to the very core.  My babies are nearly four and freshly one. We're not in elementary school yet. But even so, when I send W off to preschool twice a week, I never think twice about his safety. Might he get hit or bitten or trip down some steps? Sure. Might he be blown away by a semiautomatic weapon? Gee. Never even gave it a thought. I try my hardest not to think about those babies' final moments. I try not to look at their pictures online. I try not to watch or read the news. Not because I want to pretend it didn't happen. But because I simply can't function once I've imagined the fear and pain they felt - and the pain their families will feel for the rest of their lives. Every time I catch wind of it online or on tv, I break down into tears as painful and fresh as when the story broke. And as the world mourns, there's nothing we can do to help. During a plague or natural disaster, we can donate time or money or supplies. But when twenty babies are viciously and senselessly wiped from the planet, there's nothing anyone can do for the grieving families. And not being able to help is a terrible feeling.

In the wake of all of the violence, the talking heads are screaming into the wind. Was it the lack of gun control or lack of mental health assistance in our broken health care system? The chicken or the egg? Who knows. All I know, is that someone with some of the issues this young man had should not have had easy access to weapons. Machine Guns.

My mind is off in a thousand directions and it's hard for me to form coherent thoughts. All I can say is that none of this makes any sense. How could anyone be so sick? How could anyone look at a six year old and shoot them with a gun? It just doesn't make sense to me. So until it does, I will continue to cry for everyone involved.

I can't help the victims or their families. I can't make a donation or send supplies. But I can learn a lesson from all of this. Life is fleeting. You don't know how long you have, so you have to make the most of every minute. Before this shooting, W and I were in a bad place. He was constantly pushing my buttons and I was yelling. A lot. tears and yelling were an hourly affair. Then the shooting happened and I saw my babies in a completely different light. What if they were taken away from me suddenly and our last interaction was tears and yelling? I would be haunted with that forever. So I've been very careful about how I chose to handle situations. He's three. He's not going to be perfect. Do his actions really warrant that negative of a reaction from me? How else can I handle this situation? Life is short and I love my little babies endlessly. I can't reform gun control, I can't cure mental illness, I can't treat all the world's mental illness. But I can be the best mom I can be for my babies for as long as this big, blue marble permits me.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Jingle Bells + Happy Birthday Mashup

Trying to make a December 20th birthday standout on it's own without being steamrolled by Christmaspalooza is hard, I'm finding out. As H grows, I refuse to let it get lost in all the holly and jolly. He's just turning one this year, so we have a few practice runs before he realizes this day really matters.

We decided that since it's so close to Christmas and we don't want to take up out-of-town family's whole day (and because our house is on the small size), we'd have two parties for him. One with Neil's family at his mother's house and one at our house for my family. My freezer and oven are full of layer cakes for each party, the food  has been ordered for both parties and the paper goods are all prepared. Pinterest has been consulted ad nauseum. Two parties. Great idea, Lindsay. My dream is that once he's of friend-bday party age, parents will be dying to drop their kids off for the day so they can do last minute shopping. Or how cool would a NYE sleepover bday party be? And what parent wouldn't love to have an overnight babysitter on NYE?

And since we're talking about it... Does a first birthday party really need to be a big, huge thing? I know of people who have rented halls and had elaborate, catered events. With W, we just had grandparents over our house because he was still on preemie related germ lock down. But even if he had been healthy, I don't know that I would have done much more.

Is your child's birthday around Christmas or another big holiday? What do you do to make it stand out, apart from the holiday festivities?
It's a birthday tree...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

You're Welcome

I could watch this on loop always and forever.

Go the Eff to Sleep!

A few weeks ago, Walt started refusing to stay in bed after we put him down for the night. He'd get up and just stand in the hallway over and over until about 11pm. We tried Nanny Jo's method of wordlessly plopping him back into bed. We tried yelling at him, we tried ignoring him, we tried taking toys away. Nothing works. I know it's just a phase but it's starting to annoy me. Ok, it's way past "starting" to annoy me. I'm totally irked by it. Neil and I feel like we don't get a single drop of time to ourselves day after day. It's wearing on us. Every time it happens, he knows there's no cartoons the next day and I will take his most prized toys, his wooden train set away. It still doesn't stop him - even though he's heart broken when he comes downstairs in the morning and his trains are gone.

Through this punishment, though, something magical has happened. He's only had one day over the past two weeks where he's been allowed to watch cartoons. And you know what? He doesn't miss them at all. He barely even asks me for them. He's like a recovering addict. Before this punishment routine began, if he went a day without watching Pocoyo, he'd be frothing at the mouth. But now, he could care less if he watches anything at all. I use to pop a cartoon on when I put H down for his naps so I didn't have to worry about W getting into trouble or hurting himself. But now that that's not an option, I come back from rocking H to sleep and W is curled up in a chair with a book, pretending to read. It reminds me of the end of the Cable Guy when the cable goes out and people rediscover life outside of tv. It's not like he was glued to the tube all day. But he definitely watched his fair share of cartoons.

So while I hate that we're still fighting the fight over bed time, I love that he's using his imagination 100% of the time during the day. He no longer tells me that he's bored (where on earth did he learn that, anyway?). He can just sit down with some cars or trains ad piddle away quietly for hours. I couldn't be happier.
Speaking of bored, how spot on is Louie CK? I'm so in love with him right now.
Since none of our punishments are working, I'm faced with one last ditch effort. And it's a very scary one for me... no. more. napping. Gah! We'll see how it goes. When did your kids stop napping?

I think I'll be getting this book for Neil for Christmas, this year.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Need Some Sage Advice

Hey guys, I need help. H's birthday is a little over two weeks away and I'm kind of floundering. I want to do something for a few people in his birth family but I'm not sure exactly what. I've been taking monthly photos of him, so I'm going to compile them either into a little book or collage and pass it on - but I feel like I need to honor them in some way. I'd like to think that eventually, we'll be able to celebrate his birthday together somewhere down the road. But that's not the case this year. And the first year seems special to me. It's like, the first big milestone.
Did you do anything special for the first birthday (and/or subsequent birthdays) to honor the birth family and their sacrifice? I love them and want to make sure they're not overlooked.

I'd love to hear of any traditions or plans you have/had to honor/include the birth family. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ode to the Second Child

Little H is eleven months old now. How that happened, I can't fathom. He's been home with us for eight months, but it feels like a lifetime. He has the funniest little personality and knows what he wants. Thank goodness what he wants is to tail around behind his brother. Because that's all he gets to do. We're either taking his brother to and from school or play facilities, keeping him from eating his brother's toys or being pummeled by his brother (playfully, of course).  He is truly the second child. Give him a view at the front door and a toy to chew on and he's set for twenty minutes.

I finally noticed him signing "milk" a few weeks ago. I thought he was waving to me as I was helping Little W build a train track... but here he was patiently asking over and over again for milk.  Helloooooo negligent mother! I was so happy to see him using words to communicate, I nearly forgot to give him the milk he asked so nicely for. D'oh.

This breakthrough got me thinking. I taught Little W so many signs. But as I sat with H and his requested milk, I couldn't remember a single one. What else was I forgetting to do with H that I did with W? Once W was home and healthy, I fretted over every milestone and taught him so much. I read Leaves of Grass to him as an infant, for flip's sake. By the time he was eight months old, I had read all seven Harry Potter books aloud to him (ok, I read them for myself but I read them aloud so I could read while he was awake. Remember, we couldn't take him anywhere that first winter, to protect his premature lungs from germs so I was climbing the walls). I taught him about 12-15 signs and gave him baby massages almost daily. He had every developmentally appropriate toy on the market.

Exhibit A: Here I am photographing him leaping off of the couch, head first, onto his brother's fort instead of trying to catch him.

I've caught him doing things I would have never let Walt do at his age. He tries (and succeeds on rare occasion) to sneak up the steps. He has gotten away with eating dog food. He prefers to play with wooden spoons and remote controls and dog ropes and the front door rather than developmentally appropriate baby toys.

What's that Henry? You want a baby treadmill? Say no more. I'm sure the 50 year old stadium seat (possibly full of asbestos) will soften your fall. Just try to fall to the left, please.
I wonder if I'm not so far up H's butt simply because he's the second child and my hands are more full, or because I'm a weathered parent and I realize that it's really, really hard to break a baby. An attentive, loving parent really has to work hard to mess a baby up..Especially Little H. He's built like a brick sh*t house. He'll still be a smart, independent member of society even though I didn't read Walt Whitman to him as a six month old. I'm nearly sure of it. But just in case I'm wrong, I'm going to set time aside to read to my little guy some more. And I'm going to teach him all the signs that I taught Walt. Maybe he'll learn them, maybe he wont. But the point is, I'm spending my time engaged with him. I may still find him crashing through the gate and tearing ass up the steps. I might still catch his brother playing way too rough with him. I may still let him play slam-the-front-door-against-the-wall for twenty minutes every evening so I can prepare dinner. But it doesn't mean I love him any less than my first born. It just means I'm a mom doing the best I can. Yeah, ok. I'll go with that.

How did you decide what was right for you?

Here's a hump day question for you. How did you decide what type of adoption is right for you? Open domestic was a no brainer for us the first time around. If there's a "next time," I'm not so sure it would be so cut and dry, though.
There have been several occurrences recently that have caused me to dip my toes into the internet in search of direction for a (very) hypothetical fifth family member. First, our little Henry is turning one in a few weeks. I simply can't believe it. As most moms can probably relate, when your little one hits the big number one, there's a wishy washy wave of sentimentality. The baby is unofficially gone and somewhere deep in the recesses of your head (or tick tick ticking baby maker), you may start wondering if that's truly "it."
Secondly, one of my closest friends recently found herself in the mothering way for the third time. Her other kids are 3.5 and 1.5. This was a surprise, but a darling one to be sure. Our oldest kids are total besties and once H catches up to her middle child, I'm sure they're going to tear the neighborhood apart together. Now I'm not saying I'm trying to keep up with the Jonses at all. But you know the madness that can take over when you're waving adios to your kid's baby stage and someone steps in with a soft little baby. It makes another one seem like a really good idea for a hot minute.

 So here I am, at the internet researching all of my hypothetical options. I'm not too sure that three kids is right for our family. But I'm not 100% sure that two kids is the end for us either. Right now, we're still in the exhausted, overwhelmed stage of having a baby. And I think we're both in agreement that having another infant isn't for us. So that rules out open domestic adoption for right now (unless H's birth parents were to find themselves pregnant again, of course).

Next my thoughts went to adopting through the foster care system. But we don't want to disturb the birth order of our family. My research is limited, but from what I've found so far, it's hard to adopt toddlers or older babies through the system. So that would put having a third child on the back burner for as long as ten years. Side note: If you have experience going through the system, I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Our next option is international. This is looking more and more like the answer for us (except for the costs associated with it, which would be a struggle). I have a short list of countries I would consider adopting from, for personal reasons. Every time I look into international adoption, I get insanely overwhelmed with the amount of paperwork and waiting - as well as plagued with guilt for ignoring children, right here at home. But it's looking more and more like my next hypothetical child would come from an international adoption.

Now, of course this is all completely hypothetical. Right now, we're no where near making a decision about a third kiddo. But when it comes to family, I'm a planner. So this kind of obsessing is normal for me. If we do decide, one day, to expand our family, I want to be ready to jump right into the process.

On a super nutty side note, once every few months, I get the urge to throw all caution to the wind and just make a baby the old fashioned way. Then I remember that there's a 70% chance of shit hitting the fan again and I'm knocked back into reality. I'm passionate about adoption and believe in it, wholly. So adoption it is!

So that's where my head is this morning. And I know my husband is going to read this and freak out. Ha! No worries Neil... this is all hypothetical. I promise.

I would love some insight for people who have been there. How did you decide what kind of adoption would be right for you? If you chose international adoption, how did you decide on a country?

I don't know about where you are... but it's flipping freezing here today. I'm going to bundle the boys up soon and head out for a lunch date, downtown.We all need some fresh (albeit freezing) air.

Friday, November 16, 2012

All filler, no killer

I love blogs that do Friday wrap ups of quirky things found on the interwebs. I don't spend nearly enough time on the internet to do one of those. But here's some things that have caught my interest as of late.

 Need to smile?

  A girl can dream, right?

 I'm seriously in love with these stupid little things.

An oldie but a goodie. Actually thinking about getting this.

W has been living in this sweet unisex shirt


Gorgeous reading nook

That's all. Have a great weekend, friends.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Adoption Interview Project 2012: My interview with Shannon from Peter's Cross Station

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2012 Heather over at Production Not Reproduction  is the mastermind behind the Adoption Interview Project. I'm so happy to be a part of this blogging community, although my part in it is infinitely small and lame-o. And let's face it, it's pretty much flat lined at the moment. I'm blaming it on my two little maniacs who leave me unable to form complete thoughts most days. Every time I break out the laptop with a blazing thought in my head, two little bodies amble over to me like attention zombies and drain me of inspiration, motivation and lap space. Personal time and space is a thing of the past. I got a really long hug on the toilet this morning. Yeah. I'm not one to ever turn a hug away, but come on...

Stay on topic, Lindsay...
The interview, yes. I was lucky enough to be paired up with Shannon of Peter's Cross Station. Her blog is passionate and informative. She's a smart cookie with a beautiful family created through open, domestic adoption. Shannon has written for multiple online sources about adoption including Babble and BlogHer.. You'd be wise to runnotwalk to her blog and pick her brain. She's a valuable resource to the adoption community.

Here's my interview with her:
Did you and your partner arrive at open adoption easily? Did you consider any other avenues?
We arrived at adoption easily. My partner threw out a short list of fantasy sperm donors among our male friends (the top of the list and his partner became our girls' godfathers), but I was literally laughing as she did. It was a five-minute part of the conversation. Then I said, "okay, I'll research adoption agencies tomorrow."

If we had gone the pregnancy route, one of us (for a number of reasons, my partner) would have had to do a second-parent adoption anyway. So I just figured we would do best to keep it adoption from the get-go and focus on that.

Once we started researching adoption agencies in our state that had a good track record of working with same-sex couples, we found these were agencies that primarily placed African American babies. So then we knew our adoption would be transracial. When I dug just the tiniest bit further it was soon quite apparent to me that open adoption would be best for a child, her first parent(s) and at the very least by association, for us.

So all of these things just fell into place. We never considered international adoption because we knew we would have to closet ourselves to do that, whereas we could be open about our family in a domestic adoption (in our state, at that time--this is not, by any means, universally true for same-sex couples adopting domestically).

When it was decided that you'd proceed with an open adoption, what issues were important to you? Have those issues changed with time?
My dream was to adopt the baby of a woman I could be "best friends" with. I was jealous of families in which both mothers were really involved with the child/ren and the moms were close and talked all the time. But the further along in adoption I get, the more I realize that a woman I am likely to identify with at that level is probably not a woman who needs to place her baby for adoption. A woman "like me" enough to talk on the phone every week and plan all the birthday parties together is more likely to have been coerced into placement--because she could have done it herself.

(I am not saying this is true in every case, and I firmly believe that even a mother who "could" do it, has the right to choose not to--to do something else, whether abortion or placing a child for adoption. But I do think that most of the mothers I am friends with who placed their children would not do it again and many say they were coerced in one or several ways.)

The longer I live adoption the more I see that coercion of mothers to place their babies for adoption is widespread, if sometimes subtle, and is perhaps the number one poison to healthy adoption practices, both institutional and individual.

I do wish very much I had better relationships with my children's mothers but the reasons I don't are the same reasons they truly needed us to adopt their babies. It is sad all around, but at least I know this really was the best thing for my daughters and their mothers--however tragic.

Meanwhile, our door is always open to our girls' mothers. We send lots of letters, pictures and texts. We leave phone messages for birthdays and Mother's Day if we can't get through. When we do have fleeting contact it is always a banner day.

Your family is multi racial. Did you encounter any hesitance within your families or your birth parents' families prior to placement?  If so, how were the issues resolved, post placement?
We didn't really have any race-related problems from our families (on either the birth or adoptive side). If there were issues, people kept them to themselves (which we appreciate!). For many years (until this past June, when my sister-in-law had a baby girl) our children were the only grandchildren or nieces in either of our families. They have been duly spoiled. (Now we enjoy spoiling our baby niece/cousin too!)

Our older daughter's mother did say she chose our profile because it was the only one she was shown with "any color in it" because pictures of our friends included African American people. Given few choices, she was resigned that her daughter would be adopted by white people. We talked openly about this with her. It was a positive conversation overall-as positive as such a sad occasion can be, at least.

Your blog is very passionate. you seem like a great ambassador for open adoption. how do you keep your passion for the subject alive?
My kids, my kids, my kids.

The older they get the more they need their [first-birth-natural-original-
biological-just, plain] mothers. And loving them means wanting to give them everything they need.

I can't deliver their moms under our complicated circumstances, but I can do everything I can to make it clear that those bonds belong to them and always will, no matter what. I can make it clear to them that they get to feel about adoption whatever they feel. I can make it clear that it is not their responsibility to make me feel okay if they are hurting or angry. I can make it clear that they can count on my partner's and my unconditional love--and we trust that they love us, even if adoption and its causes feel sad and unfair to them at the same time. I can make it clear that we are with them and have their backs no matter how they are feeling.

The more I learn about open adoption the better mother I can be to my girls. The more I advocate for open adoption, the better off adopted people will be. I consider everyone involved in adoption to be my extended family. I advocate for moms' rights on behalf of my daughters' mothers; for adopted people's rights on behalf of my kids. Open adoption is one element of ethical adoption and making adoption ethical is one of my priorities in life. I took that on when I chose to adopt.

What are some of the lesser known challenges you've encountered in your multi racial family?
The hardest thing about being an interracial family is finding real, living, breathing interracial places to be in U.S. society.

We live in a very segregated country. Take that as value-neutral if you want to, but interracial spaces--truly integrated spaces--are few and far between. A lot of times, white people will see a brown face in a crowd and feel warm and fuzzy and think they are in integrated space. I find myself counting all the time--I count the number of total people on the playground, then the number of non-white people, then figure the percentage. If it's less than 20% non-white, I feel like I've failed my kids. (No, really. It might sound silly, but it's true.)

Based on my reading and talking to adult transracially adopted people, I think the most important thing a white parent can do for a child of color is provide real peers and adults of the child's race for deep and long-term relationships. Living in a well-integrated neighborhood is a bonus, practicing new food ways or culture consumption is great. Learning to braid hair is a basic life skill, but real people to whom your children can relate are the number one priority.

We are lucky to have had a chance to move to one of the most racially diverse neighborhoods in the United States (statistically) and to have found a nearby dance studio full of African American instructors and students for the girls to attend. We also go to an unusually integrated Episcopal church every Sunday where the girls just blossom and glow under the admiring beams of surrogate aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins who look like them.

But moving into integrated spaces can be uncomfortable for white people--even supposedly anti-racist white people. It's taking a risk that someone won't like you, will judge you in some frightening way; will just be too different to understand. I always say, put yourself in your kids' shoes. If you are always asking them to be the token person of color it's not fair. It doesn't matter if every is "nice" or if your child is "welcome." Asking them to always be the different one is too much for a child. As the adult, as the parent, put yourself on that line whenever you can instead of your kids.

The godfather I mentioned above--top of the fantasy sperm-donor list--is Afro-Caribbean. So even if I had given birth, our family would have been interracial, and seeing as he is a surrogate brother to me, it already was. For us, thinking about living integrated lives far predated learning that our kids would be Black. Both of us were (are) scholars of American culture with an emphasis on race and therefor had (have) colleagues and friends of all races.

But even so, actually being an interracial family requires an almost mundane level of constant awareness of race and how it affects day-to-day life. The older the girls get, the more issues come up. I can now be at some distance from them in public places and watching them negotiate the world as little Black girls (often, when people don't realize their mother is watching) is an eye-opener.

A few weeks ago, a white woman tried to kick them off a swing so her daughter could use it. She had no idea their mom was observing the whole exchange. My older girl was about to give way, but her little sister shook her head defiantly. I was proud of her and let her handle it for a few minutes more before letting the other mom realize who I was. I hope she was darned embarrassed. And I don't really mean darned.

As a blogger, how did you learn to draw the line regarding the girls' adoption story or their birth parents or even just daily life?
I haven't learned where that line is, so I tend to err on the conservative side. I try not to tell someone else's story if she doesn't have equal access to tell it from her own perspective, so I say very little about the kids' moms. I feel kind of the same way about the kids. Up to a point, talking about kids is the same for everyone--teething, crawling, walking, potty-training, cute little kidisms...but my kids have reached an age now when they are much more individual and their stories are more about them and who they are than just about me having cute kids. Yet they are too young to tell their own stories from their own perspective. So I have cut back on blogging generally and blogging about the kids and OUR adoptions specifically.

That said, there are many stories I do tell in more private venues. I am open with anyone who emails from the blog to ask a specific question because they are doing their own adoption research of one kind or another or because they identify with us and want to share or ask advice, or whatever. I also tell more in detail at adoption conferences and other places where the information is targeted in a particular way to improve adoption overall or someone's family specifically.

I'm a new adoptive mom and our new addition looks a whole lot like my husband and I. So when it comes up that he was adopted, I get weird responses from people. I find that I'm still tripping over my words a lot when asked the usual, nosey questions about adoption. How did you find your voice regarding inquisitive strangers and acquaintances?
I'm an over-sharer. I am also a teacher. So I usually assume people mean well (you can tell when they don't) and talk frankly about the truth of our situation. If my kids are around, I will still talk about it, but I will include the kid/s in the conversation so they don't feel talked about. If the kids are at all uncomfortable we keep it simple and change the subject.

The biggest problem I have is the "oh what a saint you are" response people sometimes (often) have to recognizing us as an adoptive family. It really makes me angry, because well-intentioned or not, the person is implying that it is especially difficult to love my children. It is not. It is wildly easy. Ask anybody who's been on the receiving end of one of their smiles.

I am also really angry when people automatically assume it's okay to say negative things about their mothers. I bite my tongue and pretend I don't understand, then start speaking admirably of the girls' moms. "Oh her mom is such a genius!" "Oh she has her mom's eyes, that's why she's such a beauty!" "Her mom works so hard..." etc.

To say rude things about my kids' flesh and blood is to ay rude things about my kids.

Do you remember one stand out moment where you felt the connection between you and your new child? Was the bonding experience relatively similar for you each time, or did you have different experiences with each child?
This is not the case for everyone--whether a parent by birth or adoption--but I really did feel an instant connection with each of my girls the second I laid eyes on them and held them.

In the case of my younger daughter, I was waiting for the social worker to bring the baby from the hospital in the lobby of the agency (a building that held many other offices too), in front of a huge plate-glass door. People were getting off the El across the street and walking home from work. (It was rush-hour, and in fact, the social worker was stuck in traffic.) When she walked through that glass door, she put the baby right in my arms and said "congratulations, you're a mom again!" and I was thinking "wow, those people walking by outside might see this and have no idea what a profound moment it is in my daughter's and my life." It was a little bit surreal and really happy.

I had to go to a courthouse recently to get some document for something or other (I forget) and was flooded with a happy feeling. It occurred to me that the last two times I had been in a courthouse were to petition to adopt my daughters. So I have this bizarre happy association with annoying bureaucratic spaces now!

Thank you, Shannon for allowing me to drop these questions on you at the last minute. And thanks for some fresh inspiration to keep chugging along with this little blog.

Now, behind the jump is my attempt to sound like an intelligent adult with more than one synapse firing as I answer Shannon's questions...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Question For You

Are you in the open adoption triad? How do you stay in touch with your birth family / adoptive family?
I recently created a blog for our birth family to read.  Little H has a big birth family that we keep in touch with. There's the birth mother and father, her sister and mother and his two grown children. H has a big fan club and might be the most loved kid alive. For the first few months, I was emailing them (one big group email). But I thought it would be nicer for them to have a running script of his life and the pictures to go along with it. So I created a blog for them. It's not any easier or harder for me than sending an email. But it's more soothing for me, I think. Something about the routine calms me. And I think he'll get a kick out of reading it when he's older.
Side note: it's gotten me thinking about creating an email for W and emailing him now so Future W can read emails from his momma.

If you're in the adoption triad somewhere, I'd love to hear how you correspond with the other parties.