More Cutting

May 31, 2007

It was finally time to say good-bye to Camille's wispy mullet. She wasn't thrilled by the process, but her new cut looks very cute (I'll try to get better photos tomorrow). Noah loves getting his hair cut because he gets to fly a Blue Angels jet. He tried very hard to prepare Camille for her first hair cut and he was disappointed that she didn't appreciate the kiddie salon experience that he loves so much (he frequently begs to get his haircut!).

Early Taste of Summer

May 30, 2007

Hot and humid afternoon. The last bite of a popsicle. Cool, melty sweetness.

Library Love

Have I mentioned how much I love libraries? I truly think they are one of the best things ever invented and I can't believe they are free (yes, I know our taxes pay for them...but I love them so much I would be willing to pay a membership fee!). We go to the library at least twice a week. I love watching Noah march into the children's area to find Mr. David. They disappear into the stacks searching for whatever is on Noah's mind that day (usually some sort of vehicle). He emerges with his arm full of finds and then he plops down to read them. Camille's idea of a trip to the libary is to pull everything off each shelf as quickly as possible so by the time I have finished cleaning up one area, she is on to the next one. Unless she happens to come across an Elmo book (what is up with Elmo's appeal to the 2 and under crowd?!).

Today we made the trip downtown to the "big city library". It is a big, new building filled with all sorts of wonderful art, sleek presentations, and a great children's area. Sometimes I think I should have been a librarian. I get such a geeky thrill being surrounded by so many endless possibilities for reading and listening. I love the whole experience of searching for new books and arriving home with new treasures. I come from a family of readers and have fond memories of visiting Aunt Dot at "her" library (the books were good but so were the gum drops on her desk!).But things have changed a lot since those early library visits. It is interesting to see how technology has impacted the libary experience. A part of me misses the old card catalogue system. I loved pulling out those little cards as part of the hunting and gathering process of research and reading. But I also have to admit I love being able to do on-line searches, place requests on-line, and pick them up the next day. And now our local library system allows you to upload books onto your ipod. We also have the self-check out machines which don't thrill me as much as they thrill Noah. The main ingredients are still the same and that makes me very happy. I am always amazed when I meet people who don't use their public libraries on a regular seems like such a necessity, yet after living overseas it feels like the most amazing luxury!

Here are some books I enjoyed recently:
"You Can't Get There from Here: A Year on the Fringes of a Shrinking World " by Gayle Forman
"The Ice Queen" by Alice Hoffman
"The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri
"Cuba Diaries: An American Housewife in Havana" by Isadora Tattlin

And some kid books that have been recent favorites :
"Flotsam" by David Wiesner
"Faucet Fish" by Fay Robinson

We are always on the hunt for good books, so please share suggestions for some fun summer reading!


Noah has recently become obsessed with cutting things. It started with paper and I encouraged this by giving him magazines to cut and then glue into collages. It has now gotten completedly out of hand. I got up this morning to discover he had cut up one of my make-up brushes and some of Adam's work papers. Yesterday he cut up a children's book, some shoe laces, and a big chunk of his hair. The strange thing is when I discovered him cutting his hair I was shocked to see that his hair is no longer blonde. I heard myself saying what my mother says everytime she sees me: "your hair has gotten so dark". And now I am saying the same thing to my child. I know it could be much worse since I did some serious damage with scissors when I was Noah's age. My younger sister has beautiful curly hair and I was always envious so I thought I would get some curls for myself. I woke my sister up early one morning, sat her on the toilet,chopped off her curls, taped them on my head and woke my mom up to show her my new curls. Not a good way to use scissors! I hope I am not headed down a similar path with Noah....we have been talking about getting Camille's first haircut. I just hope he won't consider that his job!

Pure Toddler

May 24, 2007

Camille is 18 months old and driving me crazy! This stage was also challenging for me with Noah, but with Camille it has been even more of a shock to my system. For so long she has been our sweet, mellow, happy eating baby but lately she spends her time yelling at me, throwing or spitting food at me, and crying in frustration and anger when I don't respond immediatedly or correctly to her demands. She is fiesty and very determined. Unlike Noah she is not as easily fooled or distracted. If she wants chocolate, she wants it and she wants it right now. I feel like I am now her personal short order cook. Placing what was her favorite food yesterday now turns into a daily game of "Guess Today's Favorite Food". We are entering a stage of extremes ranging from anger to pure exhileration. She is obsessed with jumping and a few days ago she was actually able to get herself a few inches off the ground. She was so excited! Today at the park she was screaming with glee while swinging and waving her arms in the free of inhibition and so happy. She works so hard to keep up with Noah. Refusing to use sippy cups, only big cups like Noah. Wanting to feed herself with utensils. Her knees are covered with scabs from falling on bumpy sidewalks but getting up and continuing to chase Noah. Where can I order some toddler armor? or at least baby sized knee pads? She is a great bubble blower and loves being in water. Her favorite book is Sandra Boynton's "Moo Ba Lalala". She still loves to sleep with her two stuffed bunnies. And she melted my heart last week when she hugged me and said "lub you" for the first time. That makes up for all of the recent demands and bossing around in the kitchen. Hard to believe our Mei-Mei is growing up so quickly.

Swimming Success

May 23, 2007

Three days of private swim lessons and Noah is jumping in and swimming with his head underwater! This is the same boy who last week refused to get in the water much less put his head under water or even attempt to float. We are very proud of him and he is ecstatic!
And on the ride home from swim class we had another interesting conversation. This time about death. As we drove past a cemetery, Noah asked "Is that where dead people live?". I confirmed that it was and he quickly followed up with "where do they live?" I found myself saying "they are buried under the ground (if we had been in Louisiana it would have been easy to point out the above-ground tombs)." As soon as I said it I realized how bizarre it sounded and so did Noah: "Why do we do that to dead people? and how do they get dead?". Living with a four year old sometimes feels like living with an anthropologist or a person visiting from another culture. It forces me to realize that things I take for granted or consider ordinary aren't always seen that way.

Noah and Brooke

May 21, 2007

Silly Cousins!

Good-bye Mud

Hello New Yard!
Planting tomatoes (in a mixture of manure, potting soil, and a few tablespoons of sugar and Lyme..hoping for a good crop)

Mama Packhorse

It's 9pm and I am exhausted. It felt like I spent the entire day lifting and hauling things. It started with 25 large bags of mulch...into the back of our van, out of the van, onto our wobbly wagon two bags at a time, and then into the backyard (photos coming soon). Then to the library where I lugged in fifty books for return and brought out forty new books plus a very heavy toddler while whistling for a wayward four year old. Then to swimming class where I had to keep a tight hold on the heavy toddler for a half hour while we watched the four year old master the art of having tea parties under the water. And finally back home where the very fussy and hungry toddler insisted on being carried the entire time I emptied the dishwasher and cooked grilled cheese sandwiches. Everytime I watch one of those PBS reality shows (Colonial House, Prairie House, etc) I am always amazed by how physically fit those women had to be to get their daily tasks done each day. After a day like today I am just grateful I don't have to carry water, chop firewood, and churn butter!

Adoption Week

May 18, 2007

Adoption has been on the brain this week. It started earlier this week with a long conversation in the car. Noah had a ball under his shirt and he said "look I'm adopting a baby". When I explained that he meant to say he was "pregnant". He quickly returned to the topic of adoption by asking "what does adoption really mean?". We've had many conversations and read many books about adoption but this was the most intense conversation we have had about it. He wanted to know why the babies in the baby house didn't stay with their Taiwan mamas. And then he wanted to know more specifically about Camille's Taiwan mama. When I explained that she was sick and couldn't take care of Camille, he became very quiet and then stated, "is she going to take Camille back to Taiwan when she feels better? I don't want her to take Camille." I had to repeat several times that we were her forever family, but he still seemed worried about it.

In my head I have tried to prepare myself for the difficult conversations that we will have in the future with Camille about her adoption, her birth family, etc. But I stupidly hadn't thought too much about what to tell Noah about these issues. It had never occurred to me that he would worry about her being taken from us. Or that it would make me feel so sad to have to tell him about why Camille's family had made their difficult decision. We talk about adoption a lot because we spend a lot of time with other adoptive families. We talk about how families are created in lots of different ways and how some families look similar, but others look very different. At last month's adoption playgroup, I heard Noah and the other preschoolers pretending to take care of babies in the baby house. And in the car ride home, he asked us "how did we know which baby in the baby house was ours?". He is a bright, inquisitive, and sensitive little guy so it shouldn't surprise me that he thinks about these things. But our recent car talks have been pretty intense and I guess they are good preparation for future talks.

Today we went to court to re-adopt Camille in the State of Florida. It felt both surreal and good to testify in front of the judge that we would always take care of her. I think all parents should have to do this before leaving the hospital. When I was working in the foster care system, it always struck me that licenses and tests were needed for so many things in our society (fishing licenses, driving tests, etc.) but for a job as challenging as parenting there is no license or paperwork or training required. Going through the process today felt like a monumental step. Every other part of our adoption paperwork has just gone through Fed Ex. But today felt very official and I felt proud of our family. We had a very nice judge and a wonderful lawyer. Camille slept through the entire process. At the courthouse we met another family with two newly adopted sons from Ethiopia. It felt nice to see another family at the same stage as us.

And on Sunday we will have our final visit from our agency's social worker. Her report will be sent to our agency, the orphanage in Taiwan, and Camille's birth family. Most of the time I kind of forget that Camille is adopted. It just feels like she has always been in our family and yet this week has been a good reminder of the miraculous way she entered our lives and all of the emotions that come with, loss, wonder, gratitude. With Mother's Day earlier this week, Camille's birth mother has been in my thoughts a lot lately. Adoption is truly a wonderful way to build a family, but it isn't easy. The paperwork, the legal hoops, and the waiting are all challenging parts of the process, but I think the emotional issues of loss and identity are the most challenging.


May 16, 2007

Today I ventured into KMart (how they stay in business is beyond me since I always seem to be the only shopper in there) with both kids. It was just supposed to be a quick trip to the garden section to check out the mulch selection. As to be expected it with two kids in tow it turned into a bigger ordeal. First a potty stop, then I remembered I needed a new broom, and then I caved into Noah's begging to walk through the toy aisles. I just caved. And the caving just got worse. I let Noah and Camille each leave the store with a new toy (I have been trying to make a conscious effort to decrease buying random stuff and curtail Noah's obession with buying everything in sight) and I didn't even check the prices on the toys. To really top things off I bought a box of banana moon pies and we ate them all the way home. Happy kids full of sugar and new junk toys. $15 of happiness that wore off once we got home. But it was hot, I was tired, and there are just some days like that.

While I am confessing things, here are a few more:

I hate feet. Can't stand to be touched by other people's feet (except for baby feet). I love to eat things that are super sweet with things that are super salty. I don't eat them at the same time but alternate bites (one sweet, one salty, etc). Salt and vinegar chips with chocolate. Moon pies with funyons. I was wearing Duck boots held together with duct tape the night I met Adam. I have a fear of being struck by lightening or choking to death. I don't brush my children's teeth enough and Adam always cuts their fingernails because that parenting job scares me. I am a terrible packrat. My e-mail box has over 2000 messages in it including some from 1998!

Southern smells

May 15, 2007

For the past few weeks we have been experiencing some serious smoke from all of the surrounding fires. We flew over the largest fire on our return from California and it was quite a sight at night... angry fiery welts spreading through swamp and forests. The morning after we arrived I woke with a start because their was such a strong smell of smoke I was sure the house was on fire. The rest of that day was very strange and reminded me of camping in the northwest. There were periods of drizzle throughout the day, heavy smoke which looked liked fog, and the smell of a smoking campfire (but without the fun of smores). The next day was sunny and very windy with a tropical storm off the coast and it reminded me of Okinawa when a typhoon was brewing. But since those two strange days we have suddenly had some smoke free days (although the fires continue) and the smells of the South have been in the air. Jasmine blooming on fences, magnolia trees heavy with blooms, gardenias starting to bloom with their intense perfume. These smells feel like home to me. When my friend, Summer was visiting we took a walk along the river and talked about how different environments can leave an imprint on you. For me oak trees, prairiescapes, rice fields, azaleas, and the scent of jasmine, gardenias, and boiled crawfish will always produce a gutteral feeling and connection to home.

California trip

We made an unexpected trip to California to visit Adam's grandma who was having surgery. Not an easy trip (Camille was sick for most of the trip and she is not a great traveler)but we were very glad we made it out there to spend time with Adam's family. Noah and Camille loved spending time with their California cousins. We can't wait to see them all again at the beach this summer.

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