Friday, December 31, 2010

Adoption Reading Challenge at Munchinland

The Chronicles of Munchin Land, one of the blogs I read, is offering an adoption reading challenge for 2011. Basically, commit to reading a certain number of books about adoption and report back on her blog.

I'm in - what a great way to work through the stack of books next to my desk with others. Based on what my calendar looks like for the next six months, I'm going to join in at the basic level - 3 books.  Now to choose which ones.

What about you?  Are you in?  As she points out, you don't have to be part of the adoption "triad" to benefit from learning more about adoption and people's experience of it. Let me know if you need ideas.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Climate Alarmism?

The subject of environmentalism is highly popular today with most parents and educators. While our family appreciates the wonders of nature and revels in the amazing variety of animals of the world,  I have mostly avoided exposing our kids to the current earth-friendly trend. I do this both because I think it is alarmist and likely based on bad science and also I find the messages of the movement are not child-friendly or age appropriate for my youngsters.  


Based on my point of view, I really enjoyed this editorial forward to me from Forbes magazine. Let me know what you think. 


(Disclaimer: I really enjoyed and agreed with this piece.  I know next to nothing about either Larry Bell or Forbes and didn't do any research to find if either the writer or the mag are in line with my general philosophy of life.)



The Bell Tells for You
Hot Sensations Vs. Cold Facts
Larry Bell, 12.27.10, 10:00 AM ET

As 2010 draws to a close, do you remember hearing any good news from the mainstream media about climate? Like maybe a headline proclaiming "Record Low 2009 and 2010 Cyclonic Activity Reported: Global Warming Theorists Perplexed"? Or "NASA Studies Report Oceans Entering New Cooling Phase: Alarmists Fear Climate Science Budgets in Peril"? Or even anything bad that isn't blamed on anthropogenic (man-made) global warming--of course other than what is attributed to George W. Bush? (Conveniently, the term "AGW" covers both.)
Remember all the media brouhaha about global warming causing hurricanes that commenced following the devastating U.S. 2004 season? Opportunities to capitalize on those disasters were certainly not lost on some U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change officials. A special press conference called by IPCC spokesman Kevin Trenberth announced "Experts warn global warming likely to continue spurring more outbreaks of intense activity."

... read the rest of the article here.

(edited 12-29: Hubby informs me it is bad netiquette to post the whole text of an article to my blog - copy write issues and such - so I've deleted all but the first paragraph and added a link to the editorial).


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Traditionally Busy

I love the traditions and routines that come with the winter holidays. Of course, this season also presents me with loads of opportunities to become absolutely crazy busy. Crazy is something I've tried to be mindful about this year as one of my on-going goals in my life is to create plenty of space for peace and connection.  Based on this goal, I tried to be mindful of how I planned this December.

Here are some of my favorite moments from the past few weeks in which I got to experience both:
- dipping candles and sharing stone soup with friends to celebrate the winter solstice
- decorating sugar cookies with my family
- chatting and wrapping presents with my hubby
- working with my son frying up donuts for Christmas morning
- sitting quietly by the light up tree while drinking my morning cup of tea

I also created several opportunities to see myself as overworked and under appreciated.  Thankfully, I managed this year to fairly quickly be aware of those moments and find ways to undo them.  Sometimes it simply meant taking a nap. Sometimes a phone call to a friend to express my frustrations or fears helped bring me back to a relaxed, more centered space. Once or twice it meant checking in with others to gauge expectations and then asking for help.

What do you do over the holiday season to feed your heart?  What worked well for you this year?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Too Thick

Lotion woes.  The last batch ran like water, way too thin.  In an effort to thicken it, I added lots of coconut oil.  So much we now can't pump it.

Here's the problem recipe:
2 c coconut oil
1 c jojoba oil
1 c grapeseed oil
1 c beeswax
2 c water

In reviewing it, I see I didn't put in any olive oil at all.  Guess I melt it all back down, add plenty of olive oil and re-whip.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Africa is Really Big

For anyone that suffers from the confusion that Africa is a country - as opposed to the truly huge continent that it is - comes this map.

You Have Not Idea How Big Africa Is (But This Map Does)

Pretty amazing and cool.  And interesting when one starts to contemplate the global politics of it all.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Quick! Run to Costco NOW!

Costco has the most amazing wrapping paper ever in the history of human kind.  It will meet all your paper wants, needs and deepest desires.

The Christmas wrapping paper comes in big, full rolls.  The paper itself is a nice heavy weight that covers boxes well and is easy to work with.  The designs are delightful without being too cutesy.  But very best of all, it is double sided with complimentary colors and designs on each side. Like peppermint candy swirls back with red and white stripes.  Or snowman and reindeer design with bright HoHoHos on the other side.

Sigh.  True wrapping happiness comes in bulk.  Go get yours before they sell out!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Too Old for a Boyfriend

Here's a great post by NakesWithSocksOn on about the absurdity of the terms "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" when it comes to adults.

The post really resonates with me because I know so many people older than me (and I'm over 40 people) that have sweeties to whom they are not married.  Calling those people "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" seems so wrong to me, especially when we're talking about my mother or grandmother. I really appreciate NWSO's eloquent treatment of the subject.

What do you think of it?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Blinded by the White?

Teaching my kids history seems like a land mine to me.  History can be taught from so many angles and is, in many ways, very subjective.  As a white person, trained mostly in European history, I lack the solid background I'd like to have to teach my children about the world in a way that reflects both their races/cultural backgrounds.

After several years of agonizing over various curriculums and approaches I really didn't like, I finally landed on the History at Our House program, which I love. It is a Western Civ history course, which I know many people object to, in general. It is taught by a white man (which some people probably object to in general). But I honestly think understanding the history that has created Western Civilization is vital to understanding the world in which we live.  It also provides a relative reference for understanding the history of other cultures. I've listened to all the lectures over the past few years, and the teacher's treatment of sensitive topics has seemed somewhere between delightful and completely reasonable to me.

Imagine my distress in learning recently that one of the other families I knew was using the program quit.  Not just any family, but a family of color whose mother I hold in very high esteem. They were all so offended by the course's treatment of Columbus that they left the class. This was one of the subjects I felt nervous about and after listening the the lectures thought the teacher handled the very well.

I'm pulling out my Howard Zinn books to see what about the subject matter I'm so completely missing.  I'm certainly willing to teach my kids alternative views of this, and any period, of history.  What really concerns me, though, is my own level of awareness.  How did I completely miss out on what was objectionable?

Am I completely blinded by my White education, privilege and self as to not be able to even see the experience of others?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

10 Year Old Birthday Fun

Sharing a few of my favorite pictures from Theo's birthday fun.

Showing off the Nerf gun his sister gave him.  This gun was definitely his most hoped for present and his sister got big points for being the one to acquire it.




Admiring the Nerf vest from his Grandpa, which until this vital moment he didn't even know was part of the Nerf arsenal.  He keeps it fully loaded by his bed at night.


Now completely geared up for birthday fun - what you can't see is the important contraption on his back, a camelback water back pack (from his seriously outdoor geeky grandma), thus enabling him to shoot many, many, many Nerf darts at his friends without even the need to pause for a drink.


And finally the birthday party.  10 boys shooting foam darts at each other for two hours.  Serious, sweaty, wild (and well facilitated) fun.















Watching kids grow is a privilege, but watching them indulge in being the focus of their day is so much fun!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Parenting What Is

Do you ever have the experience where you know something is true, and when that thing is true there is a best way to proceed, but somehow the dots haven't fully connected yet so you continue to do the wrong thing even when you're staring at the right thing?

I'm coming out of the fog of that right now.  For months and months now, I've been telling people Rosie is non-emergent. Emergence, according my nascent understanding of Neufeld's term, is essentially our ability to play alone - to have our own thoughts and ideas come through us. Sometimes he calls it "venturing forth."  Emergence comes from a state of maturity that is a result of complete attachments and a place of rest, basically trusting that we are safe and our needs will be met.

I think.  Right now.  Boy, nothing like trying to explain a concept to help clarify how much still don't completely understand about it.  But I think I'm close.

Anyway, I've known for months that right now Rosie is not is a developmental place to play by herself. Which of course would mean that at all times, she needs some sort of external stimulation/support - me, her daddy, her brother, the dog, a book on CD, a friend - until she moves back into an emergent stage in her growth.

But guess what I've been doing?  Two or three times a week, I've been scheduling work time for myself that assumes the kids will play peacefully on their own. And how's that been going? Terribly.  Theo's off reading or doing legos or creating PVC pipe inventions and having a good old time, and Rosie's at my elbow whining and begging for ideas. Ideas she never takes my up on - because they are all projects for her to go off and do on her own. Duh!

Last Friday my neurological pathways finally connected - if she's non-emergent, scheduling time for emergent play will fail miserably. She'll be anxious and lonely, I'll be frustrated and behind on the work I want to do.  So I stopped asking her to play on her own.  Even before she started whining, I got out some projects we could do together and started working.  I put away my work that required me separating from her and got out things she could do with me or next to me, like cooking and fixing items around the house. I put on a movie for her when I really, really needed to concentrate on my computer for 30 minutes.

She lit up.  She's been so much more happy and relaxed.  There have been lots more hugs and kisses and fewer tantrums and hits.

Now that my experiment has a clear result, I need to figure out what to do about it.  Really, the question always seems to be, how do I meet everyone's needs?  How do I give Rosie the connection she needs and get the personal time that I crave?  Several ideas seem to keep coming to mind.
- Getting help from other adults to watch her so I can have focused work time rather than trying to steal minutes in the day. Daddy?  Housemate? Babysitter?
- Rosie's a very visual learner.  Maybe setting her up with educational videos wouldn't be the end of the world?
- Projects, projects, projects.  If I'm going to be present to her, I need something stimulating and fun to fill our time.  A few nights ago, I printed out 3 lapbooks I think we'll enjoy working on together.  I've also purchased Crafting Fun 101: 101 Things to Make and Do with Kids.  The book along with a box of related supplies will make a lovely, busy Christmas present for us together.

I'm feeling nervous that giving so much time and focus to Rosie will keep me from getting the personal time I want.  And yet, I'm confident that meeting her where she is really at right now will create so much more peace and rest in our home.  So I'm going to give it a try. And if kids grow the way they usually do, just about the time I get really good at providing generous amounts of attention for Rosie, she'll grow out of the need for it and long for time to play on her own.

Wouldn't that be sweet?




 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Up To Standards?

During my visit to Wyoming with my grandmother, the topic of conversation inevitably turned to homeschooling.  She expressed what I interpreted as honest curiosity about how I know what to teach and how to teach it.  Did I take direction from the schools or the state or some other governing board?

Much explaining about Bill and my personal educational theories and standards drew nothing but blank looks, as if I were speaking some foreign tongue to which she had never been exposed.  Finally, I resorted to the fact that each state publishes their standards on the internet, and I could access those at any time.

Ah, a light of understand begins.  And then after a few moments pause, "Each state has their own standards?  How do you choose?" Hmmmmm.  Maybe skip the part about personal education standards this go around, I try the whole, "well I pick and choose what makes the most sense to me."  Gets a nod of understanding.  Encouraged, I throw in, "but there are lots of things in the standards I don't agree with."   Which gets a surprised "like what?"

Now I know I've found my way in with my grandmother.  She loves the fine arts. So I trot out our family's values for art and music, foreign languages and love of learning.  Suddenly she lights up with the possibility of what my children and I can do with our learning time at home.

And in that moment, I'm guessing that not only did her concerns for my ability to teach to various standards set by a state education board relax, but I also met her standards for the life and education that her great-grandchildren should have.



Monday, December 6, 2010

Who's Daughter?

Last night Rosie and I watched Elf together (she watched it earlier in the day with Bill).  Usually, I steer FAR away from adoption movies as they can be such mine-fields.  But Elf is recommended and enjoyed by several adult adoptees I know, so we rented it.

I was pleased.  I think it handled the adoption related issues pretty well, and it created a few openings for conversation about what reunion can be like.  I've read a lot of reunion related blogs, so this gave me an entrance to sharing some of those people's basic experiences with Rosie. I think she needs to hear some of the variety of these experiences right now as I know she's thinking a lot about being connected with her first mama.

Just after we finished the movie a friend called. I entered conversation with her by saying my daughter and I had just finished watching the movie Elf, to which Rosie shouted out, "I'm not your daughter, I'm K's daughter." I hugged her and told her how glad I am she likes that about herself. I also reminded her she will be both our daughter forever, and she will always be in both our hearts. She smiled at me and went to work on a puzzle.

I really am glad to see her shouting out the complexities of who she is to the world.  It will take her far.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ouch!

I woke up at 5am with the beginnings of a serious migraine.  I spent most of the morning trying to find relief, throwing up and snoozing. Somehow around noon I started to feel better. So no thoughtful blog post today, but all offers of sympathy accepted.

See you tomorrow.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Yee Haw! Updated Template.

Look at me!  I updated the blogger template after years and years of the same old thing.

Not that I was planning a new, updated and seasonally appropriate look. The old format was too narrow for us to see the whole Eureka! screen so changes had to happen. I may be a tad on the practice and routine  part of the human spectrum.

Hope your eyes enjoy the renovation. And better Eureka!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pretty Cute

Little update from October...

If I do say so myself, Bill and I made some pretty cute Halloween costumes this year. We carefully arranged ourselves wherever we walked or sat as the order of our tiles pretty well summed up the pair of us.  We really can be pretty full of it.

Happy Halloween, 6 weeks late!


Birthday Wishes

Today, Theo turns 10.  It's pretty amazing to think he's a whole decade old.  The contrast between his relatively huge self and our 10 month old house guest is quite jarring.  Was he ever that small?  How did he get to be so big and competent and full of his own self?

For me the past decade flew by and I'm so thrilled to get to share in the journey of supporting Theo in becoming Theo.

He choose to celebrate his birthday at breakfast. So this morning at 7am we all gathered around bangers and cinnamon toast to fete his new year.  I like end-of-day celebrations, but I must admit it is a relief to avoid the agony of spending the whole day with a small person impatiently waiting for presents.  He's currently happily decorated from head to toe in Nerf gear and playing legos.

Coming home from the hardware store last night where I made my last minute dash out to get my gift to him, I decided either I'm truly weird or cool.  I came home with 5 - 6 foot PVC pipes and 6 different fittings for them.  Theo will transform them into various weapons and structures over the next year.  He recently learned how to use the pipe-cutter so the world is his universe.

I suppose it is a combination of factors  that compels me to buy strange things as presents - my deep desire for my kids to be creative with their world, my strong urge for them not to expect and demand the newest and shiniest item from the store, and my enjoyment of giving them what really tickles them in their moment of developmental growth.

When he turned one, I presented Theo with a huge storage bin full of rice he could climb in and play with.  Rosie got her own rolls of scotch tape when she turned two just for unrolling all herself.  Around Theo's 5th Christmas, I put a box full of random bits and pieces from our local junk/hardware store. I'm considering 6 rolls of different colored duct tape as Theo's Christmas present this year.

Which all works out to the same end - I adore my kids. I love seeing who they are and what is fermenting deep inside their little hearts, brains and souls.  I love helping draw out the fullness of their bright potential.  And I'm so glad to have the honor of being a parent for these 10 years.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Google Maps Fixation

I just spent half an hour entering all my driving routes into Google Maps.

Because I HAD to know if route A or B to the Goodwill was more efficient.  Also, what is the best way to save 2 minutes getting to the grocery store?  Everyone needs to have the quickest way to park day mapped out, right? Turns out, at least from my house, most of the driving route choices are six of one, half dozen of another.

Interestingly, my favorite route to park day is 11 minutes longer than the Google recommendation.  What they don't factor in, though, is the view.  I *like* to go my way because I love to cross the West Seattle Bridge, notice all the big ships and industrial action going on then cruise along the Viaduct so the kids and I can count ferries, Coast Guard vessels and cruise ships.

So now despite the fact that technology offers me the best, fastest, most efficient way to travel, I'm likely to keep on doing what I've been doing. Isn't there some sort of saying about that?

Eureka!

Last year a friend of mine introduced us to a Canadian cartoon about physics.  Both kids loved the program and watched it obsessively for six weeks.  The links are on youtube, and I was (and still am) super nervous about letting my kids click around youtube without serious supervision. So our physics learning went by the wayside.

Last night, awake with Rosie and her fever, it occurred to me that I could post to them from my blog and then have the kids watch from here.  Of course, I figured there were 10 or so of them, but those Canadians were prolific and produced 30 episodes.  Much copying and pasting later, I think all the embedded links are working.  Bonus for you, you get a chance to easily access these highly entertaining and education treasures from the 1970's!

Enjoy and learn!


Eureka! Episode 1 - Inertia


Eureka! Episode 2 - Mass


Eureka! Episode 3 - Speed


Eureka! Episode 4 - Acceleration, Part 1


Eureka! Episode 5 - Acceleration, Part 2


Eureka! Episode 6 - Gravity


Eureka! Episode 7 - Weight vs Mass


Eureka! Episode 8 - Work


Eureka! Episode 9 - Kinetic Energy


Eureka! Episode 10 - Potential Energy


Eureka! Episode 11 - The Incline Plane


Eureka! Episode 12 - The Lever


Eureka! Episode 13 - Mechanical Advantage and Friction


Eureka! Episode 14 - The Screw and the Wheel


Eureka! Episode 15 - The Pulley


Eureka! Episode 16 - Molecules in Solids


Eureka! Episode 17 - Molecules in Liquids


Eureka! Episode 18 - Evaporation and Condensation


Eureka! Episode 19 - Expansion and Contraction


Eureka! Episode 20 - Measuring Tempurature


Eureka! Episode 21 - Tempurature vs Heat


Eureka! Episode 22 - Atoms


Eureka! Episode 23 - Electrons


Eureka! Episode 24 - Conduction


Eureka! Episode 25 - Volume and Density


Eureka! Episode 26 - Buoyancy


Eureka! Episode 27 - Convection


Eureka! Episode 28 - Heat as Energy


Eureka! Episode 29 - Radiation Waves


Eureka! Episode 30 - Radiation Spectrum

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Amazing Thing About Older Kids

It's 7:25 am and we're supposed to leave for the airport at 8:00. The kids and I are taking a quick trip to Wyoming to visit my grandmother.

The kids helped set out their clothes yesterday and roll them up into bundles. They packed toys and a few books for the flight. This morning they got up, dressed themselves and ate the breakfast I set out for them.

We're all packed and I have nothing to do but wait. Amazing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Brain Full

In that past week, I've tried several times to post.  I sit in front of the computer, my fingers poised to type but nothing comes out.  Or alternatively, I write a bunch of words, decide they make no sense or are way to personal and immediately delete the post.

Swimming around are facts and ideas from:
- Cindy Leavitt's visit presenting more of the Neufeld material, focusing on gifted and sensitive children.  I attended 4 presentations/small group conversations in 4 days and am still trying to incorporate the information.
- Lee Binz, a local homeschooling mom who coaches parents in homeschooling, did a talk three days before Cindy's on homeschooling gifted children. Her ideas dovetailed nicely with quite a bit of Cindy's information. Lee seems to be a very practical woman, so her lecture included the added bonus of how-to's that I'm trying to figure out how to bring into our days.
- I was captured over the weekend with the idea of a professional pursuit.  Something I haven't been interested in for at least 10 years.
- Bill and I considered and passed on the opportunity to adopt a sibling set of 3 children, ages 4, 2 and a baby. Just trying on the idea of suddenly becoming a family of 5 was intense and letting go of it has been hard for me.
- At least 2 other things that are major and important for our family have opened up, neither of which I feel comfortable broadcasting over the internet right now.

So my brain is full, but my blog is empty. Maybe a few more days of letting the information ripen will eventually lead to some meaningful output.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Working Through How to Work


It occurs to me that one of the reasons homeschooling is such a challenge, at least in this household, is that Theo is so dang smart.  Not unlike the observation that gifted children avoid futility* so well with their clever minds, I see that Theo's clever little mind works at getting around doing any actual schoolwork.

To be honest, doing school work has no value to him.  And honestly, I don't expect it should as he's 9 years old and can't really hold onto the idea of doing X or Y right now so that he'll be able to reach his dreams when he's an adult.  It is way more fun to build legos. He loves to play on the computer and read comic books, and he's figured out that he can just wait until our "light" days on Friday, Saturday, Sunday to do his 4 required items and then indulge in his passions, rather than doing the full list Monday-Thursday.  And suddenly I find myself faced with a boy who has ZERO interest in working and actually a clear cut plan of how to NOT work as it serves his desires.

I'm feeling stuck.  I don't want to have escalating structures, rules or behavior charts.  What I really want is for us to sit down together in a happy peaceful way and get the work done that I've assigned. I am confident it's not too much - 3 hours of school work a day that includes the history he's passionate about, drawing lessons that make him giggle and the math he just tears through is not too much.

Probably the bit that hangs us up right now the most in our schooling time is my trying to send each of them off to doing their own thing.  As in, "Rosie and I are doing math right now, Theo please go work on your writing." While the amount of separation seems tiny to me, it looks like it is too big for either of my kids. When I send them off to work independently, Theo spends his time messing around, and Rosie hangs on me and whines.  Perhaps there is something intense to them about me engaging with their sibling and sending them "away" to the other side of the room.

My best guess right now is to really focus on the idea of coming along side - literally getting next to him and saying "this is what we're going to do now." Some combination of eliminating the separation, being the big mama and holding the work that needs to be done as a type of futility (as in this is *going* to happen now).

I'm looking for feedback.  Does this sound clear to people?  Am I getting taken for a ride and not noticing it?  How does the theory of "coming along side" to do our school work sound - and any ideas how on earth I'm going to make that happen with 2 kids at the same time?

*************************************

* In Neufeld's attachment based developmental model, experiencing futility is a huge need for humans in general and our kids specifically.  Futility is the realization that life is not going to be exactly the way we want it and that we need to adapt to life.  It is in the process of adapting to what is that we grow, we make space for new ways of being/seeing the problem, and we learn that we can handle the big experiences life throws at us and still be okay.
   Experiencing futility is incredibly vulnerable and shows us our powerlessness.  I think as Americans in general we tend to avoid this vulnerability, and our children who think they need to be big and in charge of their worlds (instead of we adults being in charge) do the same thing.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Small Gift

Today is the 10th day in my heavy-duty commitment to get up every morning and be in charge of my kids, whether Bill is here or not (right now, he's not).  The results shine, both of my kids show in their own way that this is working for them.

Still not a surprise to anyone, this has been a giant struggle for me.  After Bill and I hung up from the session with our consultant in which she told me in no uncertain terms I needed to be up when kiddos arise, I burst into tears.  It is just so hard for me.

Today, I got a tiny gift from the universe (or the legislature however you see it).  Day light savings time.  I got a whole hour of extra sleep.  Manna from heaven for my tired, aching body. I "slept in," yet breakfast is started and children are still sleeping and I have a few precious moments to share my thoughts with you.

I can do this.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Why So Angry?

From John Raible Online, here is a list that begins to illustrate the privilege we non-adoptive people live with but rarely recognize.

As adoptive parents, we've got to carry the knowledge of these needs because whether or not our children voice them, they are there. Always, I think our job is to hear, see and validate adoptees' losses and anger. And way more often then I and we (as a society) do, we need to step up to the plate to speak up and advocate.




Why so angry?

October 24th, 2010 § 31 Comments
At the risk of speaking for other adoptees,

Here’s how I would answer the question: What do angry transracial adoptees want?

We want to feel like we belong, unconditionally.

We want to feel welcome wherever we go.

We want to not be stared at when we go out with our families.

We don’t want to be asked, Is that your real mother/sister/brother/father?

We don’t want to be asked, Would you rather have been left in the orphanage/group home/foster home/street to die?

We want people to keep their hands off our hair.

We want people to stop being curious about our skin, our eyes, our hair, our bodies.

We want to feel normal.

We want to be treated as mature adults and not little children.

We want our sealed records to be unsealed already.

We want our original birth certificates.

We want our foster care files, and our orphanage records.

We want to be able to know for certain if the person we are about to have sex with is biologically related to us.

We want to know where our biological siblings are.

We want to be able to contact our first families—our foster families who took care of us, our biological families whose genetic and cultural heritage we share, our blood brothers and sisters left behind in orphanages and group homes.

We want ALL our questions answered.

We don’t want to be paid for, to be sold, or treated like commodities.

We don’t want to be told we are “lucky.”

We don’t want to be abused.

We don’t want to be exploited.

We don’t want to be studied, researched, and psychoanalyzed, especially when research studies merely justify the pain we have been forced to endure.

We don’t want non-adopted people to build careers off our pain and our struggles.

We don’t want to be the “diversity experience” for our school, our house of worship, our neighbors, or our families.

We don’t want to be told how to feel—don’t feel so angry, don’t feel so sad. Don’t feel bitter. Feel happy, feel grateful, feel lucky.

We want information about diseases we may be carrying, and medical conditions we may be susceptible to.

We want to not have to leave page after page blank when we go to the doctor and give our medical history.

We want to be treated the same as the children born into our adoptive families.

We want our legal inheritance rights to never be contested at the reading of the wills.

We want to be treated without teasing about our origins, as if we aren’t really part of the family.

We don’t want to be told that we aren’t really African American or Asian American, that we’re not real Indians or Latinos, as if we are somehow a fake version of our ethnicity of origin.

We want to be able to go to the store, the movies, the park, or the mall and not be followed around, stared at and singled out.

We want to not be called names, teased, or bullied because we are different.

We want to fit in, and to be able to blend into our environment.

We want to be around people who look like us.

We want to be around other families that resemble ours.

We want to know LOTS of other adopted people.

We don’t want to forever be the oddball, the token, the weirdo, the one who was obviously adopted.

We want to control who knows our adoption status and who gets to hear our adoption story.

We want to be treated with respect.

We want to be loved.

We want to be listened to.

We don’t want to be patronized.

We don’t want to be your token.

We don’t want to be your Asian / Black /Latino /Native /Pacific Islander /African friend.

We don’t want to have our so-called issues ridiculed.

We don’t want to be pathologized.

We want to see ourselves and our families reflected realistically on TV, at the movies, in magazines, and in advertisements.

We want to be part of the majority.

We want the privileges that others get just by being born into their families.

We want to NOT have to decide whether or not to search.

We want information about our origins collected and safeguarded for us for when we are ready to receive it.

We want the power of self-determination.

We want first class–not second class– citizenship. No questions asked.

We want to know how to act Colombian or Black or Native or Korean or Indian or Guatemalan or Ethiopian or Chinese so that when we meet others who look like us, we can fit in and feel comfortable, instead of anxious, unsure of ourselves, incompetent and scared.

We want our families to stand with us against racism, against genocide, and against the destruction of our birth families and communities.

We want families who believe us when we say something racist just happened.

We want our families to speak out against prejudice and oppression.

We want our classmates and teachers to stop being ignorant and small-minded about racial differences.

We want adults to stop romanticizing our cultures.

We want you to stop fetishizing our bodies: our hair, our skin colors, our eyes, our genitals, and other so-called racial differences.

We want you to stop appropriating our culture.

We want families to stop bragging about how they got us.

We want families to stop parading us in front of the company or neighbors.

We want families to stop showing us off in front of the congregation.

We want families to teach us how to be secure in our skin and comfortable with who we are.

We want families to feel as uncomfortable as we often do. Why should we bear the brunt of the racial differences in the family all by ourselves?

We want to have allies by our side, to trust that somebody’s got our back.

We want to learn about our countries and communities of origin. But we don’t want to be forced to go to “culture camp.”

We don’t want to be forced to follow your religion.

We want to be able to ask questions without worrying about hurting anyone’s feelings or risking our place in the family.

We want to be able to talk about our birth families without our adoptive relatives becoming uncomfortable or angry.

We want to be able to talk about our adoptive families without our birth relatives becoming sad.

We want to be able to express how we really feel without you getting mad or sad.

We want to be able to get information when we want it.

We want to be able to not be subjected to insensitive remarks or intrusive questions from random strangers, neighbors, and even friends.

We want the same gifts that the kids born into the family get from extended family members.

We don’t want to have to wonder all the time if this is an adoption-related issue.

We don’t want to have to wonder all the time if something happened because of our race.

We don’t want to be treated like your pet, your project, or the object of your missionary zeal.

We want to be ourselves.

We don’t want to be a poster child for someone else’s cause.

We want to be able to choose.

We want to be able to love more than one set of parents and one set of siblings.

We want to be able to live without waiting for some surprise to pop up unexpectedly: some long lost relative or birth parent, some former caregiver surprising us out of nowhere.

We want the security of knowing that we will never be abandoned again.

We want to be told the truth, and not some feel-good fantasy of “how much we were loved so that is why we were given away.”

We want to trust that our place in our family is forever secure.

We want to believe that we are as capable and lovable as the next person.

We want security.

We want free and fluid identities.

We want inner peace.

We want freedom from racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, and other forms of oppression.

We want social justice.

When we take a stance for freedom and social justice, we want allies standing with us.

We don’t want to carry the burden of difference alone.

We don’t want to fight our battles alone.

We don’t want to fight for adoption reform by ourselves.

We don’t want to fight racism by ourselves.

We want equality NOW.

We want freedom.

We want justice.

We want to be with each other, with fellow adoptees.

We want to be in charge of our lives.

We want our humanity.

We want community.

We want our first families back.

We want our given names.

We want to speak our native languages.

We want our original citizenship reinstated, and dual citizenship if we were forced to leave our motherland.

We want to feel that we count.

We want to feel wanted for who we really are, not who you want us to be.

We want to feel that we matter.

We want to feel real.

We want to be left alone.

We don’t want to feel like the outsider.

We want to blend in.

We want a space to breathe in and breathe out without someone questioning us or invalidating our experience.

We want adoption to be about us and what we need, and not about parents–birth parents or adoptive parents.

We want adoptee empowerment.

We want to be able to take a break from being adopted. Frankly, it’s exhausting.

Finally, we want transracial adoption not to hurt so damn much.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

OK Go Rocks the Dogs

Rosie and I came across this yesterday while enjoying the treadmill video for the 10,000 time.  We were transfixed!

I wonder if watching it over and over again qualifies as some sort of homeschooling lesson?


Monday, November 1, 2010

Another Year on the Fine Line

An ad in my email inbox from Jockey.com (they have sleepwear on sale) reminds me that November is National Adoption Awareness month.  With companies all over the country advertising support for adoption support this month, I feel compelled to write. Again.
There is something weird to me about all this drive to support adoptive families.  Because in the end, I don't really think we're the ones that need support.  Not that I'm going to turn down free money, but I've been vetted and interviewed to bring children into my family. Part of the process of adopting children is proving one has the resources (financially, emotionally and community-wise) to meet their basic needs.  
There's something whacked about a whole nation of marketing focusing on supporting the families caring for children in a second family rather than on meeting the basic needs of the family that brought the child into the world.  How about National Pregnant Mama Month raising funding and awareness about the vulnerability of being a pregnant woman in this country.  Or Parenting Skills Month where companies could bring in funds to create services and support for parents struggling to do differently for their kids than was done to them. Heck, even Foster Families Month where people all over the nation could support children in transition, their first parents who are working to create a home for them, and the foster families that create a safe space for the children during that time. Oh, I have a radical one - National Adoption Eradication Month where the whole country works together to eliminate the poverty, manipulation and privilege that create the need for children to be separated from their families.
Of course, we the adoptive parents are the ones of privilege, getting our "issues" known and helping create national marketing campaigns. Perhaps we could begin to use our powers for the good of our whole community and not just the children we have removed to our homes.
This is where I walk the fine line.  Longing for the placement of a baby in our home NOW and holding the knowledge that my blessing is the result of suffering and oppression of others.

Welcome to National Adoption Awareness Month.  I hope you will share a deeper awareness of the real issues of adoption with those you know this month.  

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Paper Mache in Seattle - Ughhh

I love craft projects.  I grew up doing paper mache.  Several years during summer school we work in the goopy meduim.  We made volcanos and pigs.  I remember my mom making my brother a paper mache hat with a metal bowl for the form.  Probably I worked along-side her making my own creation.

The years have crept by while I've waited for my kids to be old enough to do paper mache with me.  Recently Rosie achieved the age and interest level needed for me to propose the project.   We pulled out newspapers, balloons, toilet paper tubes and various scrapes from the recycle bin.  I mixed up flour and water, and we went to work.  Everything was exactly as I remembered - creating the forms, dipping and layering the newspaper.

And then came time to dry them.  Now, in Montana, we'd do a layer of newspaper in the morning, wait a few hours and add another layer.  An entire project could be covered in 3 layers, painted, and dry enough to take home at the end of 2 days. After 2 hours here in Seattle, our paper mache was still dripping.  After 2 days our paper mache was still wet to the touch.  After 2 weeks they are finally dry and the children's interest has moved on to other things.

Likely I'll pick up the project again in the next few days just to get the pig and mouse eventually done and out of the dining room. However, I'll think twice next time before I propose a project that include the concept of "drying" while living in Seattle.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Are Turf Fields Toxic?

Seattle Parks department is busy laying down artificial turf fields all over the city.  Two new ones just went in blocks from our house, and I notice many at the school fields that have hosted the numerous soccer practices and games we've attended recently.

They smell awful, like plastic and rubber.  Our whole family carries the smell for maybe an hour after being at the field.

So here's my concern - is this safe?  What are these fields made of and are they toxic?  Do I really want my growing children on them for 6+ hours a week?

Based on a quick google search, I'm guessing I don't.  Clifford Law's Personal Injury blog has concerns.  In 2007, The New York Times published an article suggesting "worrisome levels of zinc and lead." Environmental Health News has a 2008 abstract for a study citing levels of toxic chemicals found in every test done and calling for evaluation of health risk to both adults and children.

Toxicity aside, over the years I've seem more than a few articles calling out the benefits of nature for a child's physical and emotional development, even some suggesting enhanced brain development.  There's no way playing on an artificial field is going to yield any of this goodness.

What do you know?  Any good resources to share on this topic? What on earth am I going to do about this quandary when the city is so gung-ho about them?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Political Compass

Resist Racism posted a link a while back to a test to determine one's own political leanings.  Take a short survey to find out where you land on the graph.
Here's mine.  I'm the little red dot towards the bottom.


The trick is, I don't really understand what it means.  Perhaps I would have done better to go to bed and sleep THEN in the morning try to read through the information introducing the test. My best guess is that the test confirms my idea that I am socially liberal and financially conservative.

Anyone care to explain?  And tell me about your test, too!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Apparently Not

For the past few weeks I've struggled to get tickets to the Harry Potter exhibit at the Pacific Science Center.  Issues with my login and the ticket booth's computer stymied me day after day.

Last Friday I tried again.  Pushing many buttons on my phone eventually yielded a receptionist.  I told her I was having problems buying tickets on-line.  She asked for more detail, and I hoped her plan was to connect me with just the right tech person. I enumerated my problems logging into my Science Center account, which had worked this summer when I signed the kids up for summer camp. She started a little problem solving, so I assured her I used the right email address (I only use one),  I promised her I had clicked on the "forgot my password" link many times to no avail. After a pause, she suggested I restart my computer.

Trying to hold back my deeply contemptuous and snarky remarks, I choked out, "Restarting my computer is not going to affect my access to your database."  Deep breath.  And then very politely, "Would you please connect me with someone with technical experience?"

To which she replied, "I was a computer programmer for almost twenty years, does that count?"

You can't believe how much restraint it took me not to respond, "Apparently not."


************************
To be completely fair to the Science Center, said receptionist finally connected me with the membership department.  A lovely man on the other end of the line explained that the box office and the education departments maintained two separate databases, so I need to establish an account for the box office database. He then very pleasantly helped me get the exact tickets I had hunted for so many weeks.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dropped Off the Face of the Earth?

Okay, so I didn't actually drop off the face of the earth as soon as NaBloPoMo ended, but apparently I do better with structure than not. Currently I'm considering posting on all the odd days of the month (because face it, I'm a little odd).  Perhaps that will get all of these thoughts and ideas out of brain and onto the "page."

It is a beautiful sunshiny October morning here in Seattle. We're off to Japanese class and hopefully playtime with friends this afternoon.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mason Ball

Last weekend the kids invented a new game.  We call it Mason Ball.

Our dog loves balls.  He expertly handles anything round in any size.  After several near-punctures with soccer balls, somebody thought to get out the basketball.  It is too big for him to get his very large mouth around, yet still he maneuvers it lightening speed around the backyard with his nose and paws.

Mason Ball is not unlike soccer. The point of the game is to tag the far fence with the ball and then get it down the yard and through the goal, which sits about 3/4 of the way across our small space. It often takes 3 humans against Mason's fast, low, determined self to get the ball through the goal.  We play all-out until Mason lies down in happy, panting exhaustion.

At the end of the game the dog is totally exercised therefore calm and relaxed and the kids are happy and somewhat out of breath. I suspect playing Mason Ball twice a day may affect my children's soccer skills, free of charge.

It is the perfect game!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dog with a History

Something that became instantly clear when we got our new dog is that he has a past.

He knows how to walk on a loose leash.  He thinks he's supposed to sleep on the bed. He'd obviously never met a flag pole before. He has a general idea of what the word sit means.  He knows drop, not out, for letting go of the ball.  Nobody ever flushed a toilet in front of him before. He has a plan for getting attention when people turn their backs to him (bit them in the butt).  He's comfortable with kids, women, men and cats. He's had lots of time playing with balls of all sizes.

Our kids ask a lot about his previous life. When did the other people get him? When is his birthday? Did they take him to doggie school?  How sad might they be that he's gone?  What sort of food did he eat before? How did he get lost?

Some people seem to want us to pretend like we're it for him. Act and think like everything he knows and does reflects his relationship and time with us, like his life began in Port Orchard that day we met him.  Maybe because we just don't know anything about his past.  Maybe because it hurts everyone's hearts to imagine a family out there missing him everyday as much as we are enjoying him everyday.  And yet on a daily basis, he shows us otherwise with some practiced command we discover or obviously perfected trick he has.

He is so clearly a dog with a past that formed him to the pooch he is today.  The more we stretch to find those old commands and habits and invite them into our current lives, the easier life is for everyone and more relaxed he becomes.

So here's my big question.  If it is so deeply clear that my one year old dog comes with a past that needs to be discovered and honored, how can people possibly miss this need for their adopted children? How?





  

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

More House Elf, Less Queen

Friday morning ended up being the opposite of the mama's in charge, everything runs smoothly type of days I've worked towards since I started the Neufeld material. You know, the ones where I feel like I'm Queen of the Universe.

In the middle of the night Thursday, I woke up with a horrific headache.  An hour of fussing around provided me with the comfort I needed to fall back asleep, but I was way behind on rest when Friday morning rolled around.

By the time I dragged myself out of bed, the day was in full swing.  For several hours without me, the kids played playmobil, ate sugar cereal (and who was the doofus that brought THAT into the house?), built forts and developed a whole plan for the day. This meant that once I brought up my plan for the day, I was the problem not the answer.

Which was exactly as fun as it sounded. I had a critical errand I needed to run. For the next three hours I struggled - I wanted them to eat nourishing food and get cleaned up so we could go downtown. They wanted me to wait on them hand and foot.  None of the food I offered was considered edible, they screamed at me for ice in their water, demanded I fetch them socks and they bickered with each other like crazy. My clear pleasant requests were blatantly ignored, none of my great kid motivating tricks or games worked, none of my grumping helped, and they were still bickering with each other like crazy.  I felt like a house elf working for the Malfoy family in the Harry Potter series.

Then, like mana from above, a friend called and invited us to the beach.  I managed to get the kids out the door, and they played at the beach while I escaped on my critical mission.  I returned with delicious food they were surprised and thrilled by.  The busy physical work in the new environment, the shift from our unpleasant groove and the coup of returning with food righted the relationship.  Suddenly, I was in charge again and the kids were happy to comply, carrying things back to the car, helping set the dinner table, finishing up some chores that had gone undone during the morning.

The frustration and stress of Friday morning followed me for several days.  Being a house elf to two demanding masters turns out to be much harder and more exhausting than being benevolent queen to two cheerful and cooperative knights.

Which I guess gives me two pieces of good information for the mornings I'm struggling to get out of bed. First, the reminder that my getting up first really sets us up for success and ends up being much easier and less work in the long run. Second, when I've lost my grip at home, going out for fun and food is a great way to kindly put myself back in charge.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

"You Know What's Weird?"

Theo watched me counsel Rosie through doing a chore she felt resistant to.  Apparently my chorus of "Honey, I know you don't want to, and I want you to do it anyway" prompted him to a reflective outburst.

"You know what's weird? You tell us to do stuff, and we just obey you.  You tell us to do things and it's like we can't stop ourselves, we just do whatever you tell us."

My explanation to him that this is perfectly normal, I'm the mommy and kids listen to their mommies and follow their direction didn't sit well with his nine year old brain.

"No. It's weird."

Okay.  Weird, but nice, at least for me.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Congratulations to Me!

Here it is October 2nd!  I made it cleanly through September's NaBloPoMo and posted at least once a day.

Writing, and creating the time for it, takes a fair amount of energy for me.  I'm proud of the work I've done.  While I don't plan to continue posting everyday, I still have quite a bit of blog fodder in my brain and intend to post regularly.

Yay me!  And I hope you enjoyed the ride.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Colorblind = Blind

From Tim Wise's blog, here is a really interesting and compelling study.

Colorblindness Reduces Kids Ability to See

People are sometimes shocked by the things I discuss with my children, and the ideas and situations my children bring up with me.  I do it because I think my kiddos need to see and understand what is really happening in the world in order to both survive it (literally for black kids, live) and change it.

This study seems like nice confirmation of my choices.  And encouragement to do more.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Mindlessness of Privilege

Last night, I was taking a big-picture look at my blog.  In particular, I was thinking about categories.  It occurred to me that in the past month of posting, probably the only category I didn't post in was "How White I Am."

Somewhere between surprised and sad and embarrassed, I decided that this in and of itself is a signal of how white I am.  I think about race and its effects on my family most days. But there are days when I can easily not and rarely a day when race related issues are really up in my face. Heck, I can go 29 days without a post mentioning race.

The mindlessness of being white is a privilege most of us white folks probably never fully recognize or understand.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Side Effects

Taking prescription medicines almost always come with side effects.  Taking two of them both designed to mess with my hormones creates some really interesting side effects (I'm taking domperidone and a birth control pill).  There's the lactation, for one.  That is not what either of these drugs were designed to do. But since I and others are using these drugs in a way they weren't tested for, many of the less threatening side-effects are not reported on the drug sheet that comes with the prescription.

This post is for anyone else out there inducing lactation and feeling a little bit crazy and out of control of their bodies. Because really, we are.  But it is nice to know someone else understands.

Last time I took the domperidone, I noticed that I gained between 1/2 and 1 pound a month. Talking with others who've taken the drug verifies that is a normal side effect.  I'm certain experiencing that effect this time, too. Thankfully, the weight seems to come off easily after the medicine is stopped.

Using the two drugs together, I've found that my neck and upper back muscles react very strongly to stress or exhaustion. Which means if I don't get enough sleep or take care of myself in stressful times, I get these giant migraine headaches. Even intense exercise will bring on a headache. A visit with my integrative manual therapist (like craneo-sacrial for the whole body) revealed that women on in vitro fertilization (IVF) drugs often experience the same tightness and migraines.

Perhaps related to the weight gain, I find I'm often resistant to eating protein, even eggs and dairy.  Protein avoidance is definitely new to me as I've spent many of the past years eating very low carb.

Taking all of these hormones is perhaps crazy and weird.  It certainly makes my body crazy and weird.  And, the prospect of sharing the incredible bonding I enjoyed while nursing my other two babies with a third child makes it worth it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cooking in Denial

Long, long ago when Bill and I were married, Teflon cookware was the prized object of the kitchen.  Non-stick and health because it required little fat for cooking, all the books and magazines recommended it.  We dutifully listed the whole Calphalon Teflon series on our registry and received most of it.

Fast forward over a decade and it turns out Teflon kills small birds and poses respiratory and cancer risks to those who use it.  

I know about the dangers of polytetrafluoroethylene (that's what they call it when it isn't trademarked) - I've been hearing this information via my various quirky health newsletters for years.  Yet each night at dinner time, you'll find me pulling out my Teflon lined Everyday Pan with my fingers in my ears singing, "lalalalalala I can't hear you lalalalala."  

It's not that I don't think the stuff is dangerous.  I just don't know what else to do.  There's the aluminum option, but coming from a family with history of Alzheimer's that risk is too high for me.  There's stainless steel, but it turns out it leaches something like 23 other metals that have undetermined safety levels.  There's straight-up cast iron, but it is heavy, hard to care for and doesn't come in the happy array of pan styles I need.  There's anodized aluminum, which sounds like it might be safe but I over-cooked beets in my one anodized pot and it lost all its finish and color which seems totally freaky and compromising to me.

That leaves, as far as I can tell, two options.  Ceramic lined cast iron (think Le Creuset) or a rumored line called Safe Pans (I think).  

One of my friend raves about the Safe Pans, from Australia (?).  They are apparently, true to name, safe.  Also the seem to come in good sizes that are reasonably priced. But for the life of me I can't find them on the internet. Hey friend-who-I-happen-to-know-reads-this-blog, maybe you could post a link to them in the comments section?  

Now Le Creuset defines sexy in the cookware world - amazing variety of shapes and sizes and eye-candy colors.  Super high quality, it lasts forever and can be passed down from generation to generation. Nobody in on the internet registers any safety concerns.  But I balk for two reasons.  Mostly, the stuff is expensive.  My Everyday Pan now goes for $64.  The Le Creuset equivalent (the iron braiser) runs $200.  The cost of replacing my entire cookware set would be phenomenal.  Still a factor, though less shocking, is the weight of these pans.  Cast iron is heavy and I wonder how I and the kids would manage working with such heavy pieces.

And here I am back where I started.  A house full of hungry people and likely unsafe pots that are actually in my kitchen ready to use.  I guess they'll have to do for another meal or 100.

How about you? Do you cook in the land of denial, too?  If not, what pans do you use?  Anyone think the concerns are all  red-herrings raised by a jealous industry?

Monday, September 27, 2010

3 days left!!

Not that any of us are counting, but there are only 3 days left in September.  That's a lot of blogs posts from yours truly.  And I think I'm going to make it through the month.  Wheeee!

What Are Bicyclists Thinking?!

Usually I'm a pretty calm and sedate person.  But one of my very serious pet peeves comes out loud and clear when I'm driving.  Bicyclists who don't think they need to follow the rules of the road.

I saw it today.  Pulling up to a 4-way stop, I noticed a cyclist tailing the car in front of it through the intersection.  No stop.  Not even a pause.  Good thing the bus driver noticed him and didn't clip his back wheel as he slipped past.  I see people on bikes fly through yellow lights, weave in through heavy traffic to get to the front of the left turn line at a light, change lanes without signaling and regularly ignore stop signs.

All this cycling behavior really ticks me off.  Because I REALLY don't want to be the driver that hits them.  Traveling at 35 miles per hour, my minivan can do some serious damage to a person, especially one whose speed approaches 25 mph.  Being responsible for the death of another human being and living with the sadness and horror of such an atrocity is not something I care to experience.

Not surprisingly, I treat maneuvering two tons of metal through the streets at un-human speeds seriously.  I'm trained to be a careful driver. I had hours of driving under my belt driving with my dad by early puberty and a good high school drivers ed teacher.  As an adult, I scored high in a motorcycle safety course and graduated from a mini-truck driving course. All of these drilled safe car handling into my head.  I do my best to be attentive, present and aware of the entire driving scene around me.  But there is little I can do to help protect people who don't play by the rules of the road.

In case the idea that bicyclist are required to follow the same rules of the road as car drivers is a surprise to you, here is the City of Seattle regulation:

Section 11.44.020 RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF RIDER.  Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to a driver of a vehicle, except as to the special regulation of this chapter and except as to those provisions of the Traffic Code which by their nature can have no application.

Carless people putting me at risk of endangering their lives tend to turn up my volume.  So, if you're out driving around town and hear some manic yelling, "My car can squash your head like a watermelon!!!", smile and wave.  It's just me expressing my safety concerns to a near-by cyclist.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How (some) Homeschool Parents Party

image from evergreenmoms.com
Last night, I hosted about a dozen other homeschool parents (sans kids) to a "Parents Night Out."  Besides the fun of sharing potluck dinner together, the purpose of our gathering was to create art!

Years ago in Florida at a similar gathering, I and a lovely bunch of mamas from the community at OneHotMama dyed playsilks.  Besides being fun, this was a very frugal move, considering that one can buy a silk scarf and the dye for about $4 when they usually cost about $12. My kids played daily with the silks for 5 years until the silk disintegrated.

With my ever-present "how hard can it be?" approach to new projects and a serious reluctance to overpay for new scarves, this summer I proposed the outing to our local homeschool yahoo group and got a huge response.  Many hours on DharmaTrading and plenty of phone calls to customer service later, I'd worked out that I really had no clue what I was doing.  Enter another mama who actually loved dying and knew what to do.  A short conversation with her lit my way and within the hour I'd ordered over 150 silk scarves and a rainbow of dye. Now the adventure was truly afoot.

Back to last night, we supped on the potluck feast and started our project.  Our start was a little slow while we worked out how to set up and what exactly to do with so many people, buckets, silks and dye choices.  And then people got comfortable with the project.  We saw beautiful designs, fun color combinations, people cheering successes and helping each other with problem solving.  Twelve people rinsing in only 2 sinks created little niches for chatting and those same 12 people trying to get at 7 buckets in a small space created plenty of intimacy.

At midnight the last friend left, having helped me finish cleaning up the kitchen.  I went to bed with a washing machine swirling with vinegar and over a dozen gloriously decorated silkies.  Better yet, the happy glow from a house full of laughing, learning, sharing friends.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Quiddler

Santa Claus brought me a new game for my stocking last Christmas.  Quiddler is sort of a combination of Scrabble and Rummy.  Bill and I love to play games together and for years had serious Scrabble competitions. Come kids, I lost the concentration required to actually beat Bill, so Scrabble had to go on hold. We've played other board, card and word games over the years, but I've always missed the word manipulations.

Quiddler requires short spurts of concentration and allows time for chatting or helping out a kid.  Because there are a set amount of hands, the length of the game is limited.  And I get to make random letters into words.  It is by far my new favorite.  Right now I'm ahead 76 to 49.  Hope my luck holds!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Music in My Head

Last month, I spend the weekend with a group of friends.  Suddenly, in a pause in the conversation, someone said, "Freeze.  What's the song going through your head?"

Mine was Sweet Jane by the Cowboy Junkies.  His was something obscure I'd never heard of but was tangentially related to the topic at hand.  One other person had something going.

What shocked me was that about half the people in the room didn't have any music going at the time - maybe 6 people. I can't remember a time that there wasn't background music in my brain.  And I can remember far back.

Often my internal song comes from the constant input of my external world.  Right now I'm REALLY working to keep hubby's horrible zombie song from becoming the standard track in my brain (it is just so damn catchy and the kids randomly burst out singing it).  For the past few years it has often been one Suzuki guitar song or another.  During the many years I worked in retail, my internal music came from the ever present top 40 radio stations playing through the speakers.  Sadly, for several office years, it was the muzak I heard on my way up the elevator in the morning.

Several times a day, my brain attaches some lyrics to a conversation or situation.  You know, someone is telling me they moved last weekend with some help from their friends.  Then I'm all Beatles for the rest of the day.

So how about you?  Does you have an internal soundtrack?  What's playing right now?  Or are you quiet inside?  What's that like?