Knock Knock

October 29, 2007

Jokes are a big thing in our house these days. Very popular with the four year old crowd and now with the nearly two year old. Knock Knock jokes have always been a favorite of Noah's and a few months ago Camille started joining in the fun. It started with a nearly constant refrain of "knock knock" throughout the day and it drove Noah crazy, because the more he asked "who's there" the more she said "knock, knock". Her response to "who's there?" then evolved into "banana"(her take off from the classic banana who? banana who? orange who? orange you glad I didn't say banana?). The "knock knock/banana" routine has now been with us for several weeks. But recently she's been spicing her routine up by introducing new responses which crack her up. This morning I heard her giggling in her crib and when I went in to pick her up she said:
C:"Knock, knock"
L: "Who's There?"
C: "Two Rabbits" (holding up her two bunnies)
L: "Two Rabbits who?"
C: "Mine Two Rabbits" followed by more giggling

And this afternoon after her nap, she greeted me with "knock knock" again but this time her response to "who's there?" was "Abigail (a classmate) with a follow-up of "Jacob (another classmate)". And again more giggling. If she grows up to be a famous comedian I'll enjoy telling stories about her early days of crib stand up. But I am not sure I want her to follow in Margaret Cho's footsteps...don't get me wrong Cho's mama routine is very funny, but I am not sure I am ready to hear my daughter making fun of me or talking about topics that make me blush. Right now her knock, knock jokes are perfect.

Snot Corn

So after being inspired by this weekend's ode to candy corn, I felt inspired to celebrate National Candy Corn Day (Oct.30th). I put a lovely little bowl of my favorite Halloween treats on the dining room table. Pleased with myself because the monkeys rarely go in that room and they wouldn't think to look in such an obvious spot for treats, right? Wrong. Camille (who will be trick or treating as the snot monster thanks to a cold) discovered those little sugar nuggets and managed to claim them all to herself by rubbing two hands full of snot over the whole bowl. Candy corn glistening with snot is not appetizing.

Hopefully you will be able to enjoy a snot-free version of candy corn. And while absorbing that sugar think about what I read on the Brach's Candy Corn Bag: "Each year American's consume enough Candy Corn that if laid end to end, would circle the earth 4.25 times!" That's a lot of Candy Corn. Funny how certain candies have become associated with different holidays...Candy Corn at Halloween, Candy Canes at Christmas, and Peeps at Easter. I am a traditionalist on this topic because I am not a fan of the commercial cross-pollination. Peeps pumpkins just seem wrong and pastel colored candy corn certainly can't taste as good as the original. And snot covered candy corn is never in season. Happy National Candy Corn Day to all of you!


October 28, 2007

Adam and I had fun last night at his office Halloween Party. Can you guess what we were? Cereal Killers. Still working on the kids' costumes for the big sugar fest coming up this week.


October 26, 2007

Soon after I put up the "Questions" post, my cousin,Jennie, sent me an e-mail and we then proceeded to send a few e-mails back and forth. Jennie and I are about six months apart. We are first cousins but I consider her to be like a sister since we basically grew up together. Now we are both parents.I guess that moment of "truth" really is a universal experience. Here are some excerpts from our e-mails today.

I was just reading your blog and am offering up an apology for telling you the truth about Santa. I don't remember telling you there was no Santa, but I do vividly remember the day I asked my mom if there really was a Santa. I had been wondering about it for some time, and one day, while my mom was sitting reading at the kitchen table (the old kitchen at the house on Columbus Street), I asked her if there really was a Santa. She hesitated a little bit and then said she thought I was old enough -- no, there is no Santa, but please don't tell Peter.
It's funny how just about everyone remembers when they found out there was no Santa. It's like it becomes a marker in growing up.


...don't worry about telling me about Santa. I really didn't believe you and I remember continuing to believe my hardest in Santa until I found those presents. Like you I remember the setting when I confronted my mom about Santa. In the bathroom of our old house (that weird bathroom opened up into the dining room...remember that?). You are right I think it must be one of those rites of passage. I had a friend who's mother saved all of her teeth and when my friend found them her mother told her they were just "old pearls"! and my friend believed her!


October 25, 2007

I remember how exciting it was to hear Noah (and now Camille) enter the first stage of questions. The first question was "what's this" (Camille is at this stage now) and it was all about language acquisition and soaking up information about the world. Then Noah entered the "why" stage which at first was cute, but (and I hope this doesn't make me a bad mama) it quickly became annoying. The constant "why" was like little fingernails on a blackboard. We are now in the stage of deeper thought and philosophical questioning at a preschool level. Like "How does God make airplanes...don't people really do all of the work?" or "Does it hurt when you die?" or "Are you going to die soon?" or "how do babies climb out of their mommy's belly button?" or "Is there wind on the moon?" and "I don't think fairies are real, but do you?"

I enjoy these questions because they are so interesting and often so random. Driving in the car he will bring up a topic we have never talked about before. Or in the middle of dinner. Or in the middle of a crowded public restroom. Whenever and wherever a question enters his mind. I can't always answer them which causes him frustration because he seems to think I am withholding information. We take a very direct approach and name the appropriate body parts, explain bodily functions, and the fact that everyone dies (death is a very frequent subject these days which I remember also being a big concern for our then four year old neighbor in Japan). I did some research and found out that there isn't any wind on the moon which means there are/should be the footsteps from that first famous walk on the moon. These questions push me to think about things I hadn't thought about before. Sort of like having a little anthropologist in our midst and I get a kick out of that.

The fairy question prompted a long discussion about belief and reminded me of how much I loved the idea of Santa, The Easter Rabbit, and The Tooth Fairy. I actually remember the moment my cousin, Jennie told me there really wasn't a Santa. I was so sad and I refused to believe it until I found some hidden Santa gifts in my parents' room which confirmed the sad news. I still wish I had never found out the truth. But Noah seems to be different from me. He approaches it in a much more scientific way and I found myself caught in a precarious situation. Wanting so desperately for him to believe in them, but also wanting to always be honest with him. I tried to change the subject, put on kids music, and was saved by our arrival at his school. He's only four shouldn't he still have unwavering belief in these magical creatures? Or perhaps he takes after his dad in this department. His dad who remembers being the one to tell his classmates the "truth" about Santa when they were all very young. So were you the one to "tell" or were/are you the one still clinging to the magic?


October 22, 2007

We spent a great weekend in Savannah. A city of beautiful homes, huge old oaks, little squares/parks every few blocks, amazing architectural details, stunning light filtered through moss, friendly people, and lots of history.
We were fortunate to rent an apartment in one of the older homes in the historic district and we spent most of the weekend walking, exploring, and enjoying the cooler weather (80s vs 90s!). Noah loved watching the trolleys and horse drawn carriages from our apartment window....funny to fall asleep to horses clip-clopping in the night.

We also spent a little time exploring the riverfront. So much more to see in this unique Southern city...we can't wait to get back again soon.

And a few family shots. We rarely seem to get a photo of all four us together. We'll have to work on that.

Forsyth Park

This is what every public park should be like! Large open spaces, paths through gardens, big oak trees, fountains, picnics, families, artists, art, playgrounds, live music, people of all ages having fun. Just a short walk from where we were staying, we had to make several trips to the park because none of us could get enough of it!
These huge paintings were on display throughout the park. We didn't know about them until our arrival but after getting home I found this article. Camille loved going on the slides and trying to keep up with the big kids. Noah perfected his monkey bar skills. I enjoyed the people watching and Adam got to throw the frisbee around. Two perfect afternoons spent at Forsyth Park.

Dirty Work

October 20, 2007

While the kids were in school the last two days, we spent our mornings hauling dirt. I never thought I would spend so much time focused on dirt but I have spent the past couple of weeks thinking about it, talking about it, and now moving it. We are building a garden at the preschool and I have been hunting for good dirt to get us started. Earlier this week a local company made a very generous donation of beautiful, dark, compost-rich dirt. But unfortunately they weren't able to dump it directly in the garden so we have been spending part of each day hauling and dumping dirt. Hard sweaty work, but also kind of fun. And now I am very excited to get some plants in the ground next week. We will be starting with strawberries, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, and other fall veggies.

Flying Observations

October 14, 2007

My recent flight home was an interesting one (not quite as exciting as some of the greyhound bus trips during my college days, but still interesting).

The flight into Louisiana was very bumpy thanks to stormy weather and an old prop plane. I hadn't felt that sick in a long time. Once off the plane we had to walk across the the runway only to discover the door to the terminal was locked and no one was responding inside. Felt weird to be standing out there watching other planes come in and wondering why they didn't realize a whole flight of passengers was standing outside on the runway. After finally getting inside, I headed to the bathroom where I ran into the flight attendant who told me she had thrown up twice during the flight. That made me feel better. If someone who flies all of the time got sick twice and I only felt that way but didn't get sick, that must mean I am better at flying right?..that's my twisted competitive side exposing itself.

On the flight back home, I had a layover in Memphis. I hadn't flown into Memphis before. So here is a warning for those vegetarians flying into Memphis: change your flight or be prepared. It is a vegetarian nightmare with a BBQ place every few feet, smiling pig faces, and the overwhelming aroma of roasting flesh. I am not a vegetarian so I enjoyed the local fare, but I can only imagine it wouldn't be a fun place to have a layover if you kept Kosher or you were a vegetarian.

The final leg of my flight was an interesting experience in American social/economic class. I sat between two very different men. One was a very well dressed vice president for a large railroad company with several vacation homes around the world. He spent most of the time glued to his laptop and trying to ignore the other man. A young guy dressed in shorts, a Grateful Dead t-shirt, and a very loud southern accent. I spent most of the flight listening to him. A construction worker from Mississippi who offered me drugs (Xanax) while taking some pills with his cocktail. A very chatty guy who moves every three months working on hotels across the South. A smoker who kept talking about his desire to smoke on the flight. I am not a smoker. Can't stand the smell or the idea of it. Glad it is not allowed in most public places. But this guy actually had some good business ideas for catering to smokers: movie theatres for smokers and flights specifically for smokers. I don't get much opportunity to hang out with construction workers so it made the flight go by quickly.

This is what I love about traveling. The unexpected conversations. The chance to meet people you don't ordinarily hang out with. Their stories. Things out of context that suddenly make sense or feel right or make me think a little more carefully. The funny and annoying things that happen along the way.

Bunny Love

October 13, 2007

When we got that memorable referral phone call telling us about our sweet Mei-Mei in Taiwan, Noah and I went shopping. We found a cute little pink bunny with a silky blanket attached to it.I slept with that bunny until we traveled to Taiwan (one of the things recommended for enhancing attachment) and we placed it in Camille's crib on her first night with us. Since that night she has always slept with her pink bunny. A few months later Camille received a similar bunny blanket, which quickly became known as the yellow bunny. Those two bunnies have traveled the globe, have been well loved on a daily basis, been through countless washings, and have been the source of tears and panic when we couldn't find them.

I spent most of this past summer searching for a "back-up" bunny in anticipation of preschool and the awful chance that one of the original bunnies might get permanently lost. I finally found one. Not identical but very similar. A few weeks before school started, we attempted to introduce the new bunny into the family. This did not go well. Camille initially seemed to think the bunny was cute and would carry it around the house, push it in the stroller, and act cordially towards it. But at night time she became hysterical if the new bunny was in her crib. She would scream, throw it out of the crib, and not stop crying until the bunny was removed from the room. She started school and brought her "pink" bunny to school for the first few days. And the bunny did not leave her arms during those first school mornings. The bunny came home full of snacks, sand, and mud and was a big part of the smooth transition to school. Until the dreadful morning when I realized I had left the pink bunny at home. I happened to have the new bunny in the car and since that day that bunny has officially become "school bunny". School bunny is a very important part of school, but she does not sleep in the crib and Camille never asks for her at home except in the mornings when we pack her school bag.

And now there is another bunny in our house, "Nana bunny". Nana brought a new bunny with her earlier this week. As with school bunny, the attachment process is on-going. "Nana bunny" has worked her way into the daily nap, but she is still not allowed to sleep in the crib during the night. Camille's attachment to her pink and yellow bunnies is strong and deep. I was foolish to think that I could ever truly have a "back-up" bunny for those two magical bunnies. I hear her talking to them each morning in her crib. She feeds them, she attempts to put diapers on them (not easy on silky blankets), and she holds them close to her face while sucking her thumb and nodding off each night. It has been interesting to watch her react and relate to the newer bunnies.

Attachment is a complex is smells, tactile sensations, shared experiences, love, tears, time, it is conscious and unconscious work,and many other magical components. During social work school and my early work experiences, I did a lot of reading on the subject. I attended workshops specifically focused on attachment. I worked with families struggling with serious attachment issues. During my pregnancy, I started to think about attachment in a more personal way as I prepared to become a mother. I dreamed and day-dreamed about my unborn son, I kept a journal, and read tons of parenting books, but nothing quite prepared me for those first few months of extreme exhaustion and extreme emotions. I would often just stare at him for long stretches of time, blown away by his perfection and his miraculous existence. I felt overwhelmed with love, anxiety, and the huge responsibility of being his mother. And then as we began our adoption journey, I began a whole new level of preparation. Paperwork, internet searches, adoption groups, and lots of time for waiting and worrying. I again attempted to prepare for another unknown experience. And again nothing quite prepared me for the flood of intense feelings. The surreal experience of having a child suddenly placed in my arms, my pounding heart, those dark eyes studying me, my tears of joy soon to be followed by tears of sadness while watching her birthmother kiss her good-bye....nothing can truly prepare you for these things. But Camille's attachment to her bunnies is my first real experience of observing attachment in action. Even with my own children, I felt so immersed in the dance that I couldn't really step back or track the process as it happened. Now I am seeing it with the bunnies and my sweet little girl and it makes me smile.


Not only did I get lucky to have such a wonderful mother-in-law, but my kids are lucky to have the most amazing Nana on the planet. A big thank you to "Nana" for making my trip to Louisiana possible, for the peace of mind in knowing they were in good hands, and filling their days with all sorts of wonderful things like cupcakes, games, songs, and new toys. They are still talking about all of the fun they had with Nana and Camille has spent the past couple of days searching for Nana around the house. Thank You!

Pieces of Home

October 8, 2007

One of my mom's pieces for her upcoming show
Spider on the porch October prairie view from the front porch
Being "home" and helping my mom has been good. I am so proud of her and all of that she has accomplished. My mom has always been very creative but this upcoming show will also highlight her sense of humor, her compassion, and her skilled pack-ratting/collecting. In addition to her fabulous (and funny) jewelry collection, she is also working on an installation that relates to Hurricane Rita which had a huge impact on this part of Louisiana (a few weeks after Katrina hit, but still often overlooked). I am in awe of her and feel very lucky to have such a talented mama.

In addition to my mom's show this weekend, Festival Acadiens will also be taking place. I have been going to this Cajun music festival since I was a little girl....depending on the weather danced in mud or danced in dust, but definitedly danced because I can't resist moving my feet when I hear those sweet sounds. And this year's festival poster is also a special piece of "home" since it is a reproduction of my dad's painting of the old farm house where I grew up. And now that painting is hanging over our fireplace. I'll miss the festival this year because I need to get back to my other home where the monkeys roam. But if you are in Louisiana be sure to check out the Gute exhibit and be sure to do some dancing at the festival.

It has been nice to be at home with my parents. Just the three of us....can't think of the last time just the three of us were together. But I have to admit that having been away from my monkeys I am starting to feel "homesick" for them. I have been missing the morning patter of feet and the croaky morning voices calling "Mama, Mama". I miss Adam's funny stories, Noah's creative questions, and Mei-Mei's slobbery kisses. All pieces of "home" whether it be in Louisiana or other parts of the world. Funny how "home" can have so many pieces, so many meanings, and so many places.

Louisiana Bumper

I am back in Cajun country helping my mom get ready for her exhibit. Saw this bumper sticker yesterday and couldn't resist capturing it. Hunting is a big part of the Cajun culture but I didn't realize it was now being used as a juvenile delinquency program...hmm, kids and guns = less crime, who knew? I think we will just stick with soccer for right now.

Seeing the bumper sticker also reminded me of a magazine I found while searching on-line for some southern garden books. Somehow gardens and guns just don't go hand in hand for me. According to Garden and Gun magazine, I must not really be a 21st century Southern American, are you?

Guessing Game

October 5, 2007

I am getting so much more enjoyment from Shelfari than I ever anticipated. Earlier this week I sent out an invitation to folks in my e-mail address book to join Shelfari so we could exchange book ideas. I didn't know quite how the whole invitation system worked but it turns out when a friend links to my "shelf" it only shows their user name. Which has led to some fun guessing on my part...trying to figure out who the person is by their user/nickname or the books they have on their shelf. Funny to hear the story behind their user name, fun to peek into their reading lives, and a nice way to re-connect with friends.

And speaking of Shelfari, I am getting ready to add this funny book to my shelf. We found it at the libary yesterday and can't stop reading it or cracking up. We were already William Wegman fans, but "Chip Wants a Dog" is good on so many levels (photos, story line, characters).

How did this happen?

I am so excited because I was able to get tickets for an upcoming concert. Fifth row seats. I keep telling Adam about it and he keeps teasing me about my giddiness. I can't wait to see this guy live. We frequently dance around the living around (and the of my favorite songs). I have told my kids about it several times but they don't seem to really comprehend how thrilling it will be in the fifth row. I am embarrassed to admit to it, but yes, it is a children's performer, Dan Zanes. But this is my life these days. I try to mix it up so we are listening to a variety of music not just cutesy kid stuff, but Dan Zanes is good anytime. Quirky, fun, catchy, but not in a sickly sweet way. And I can't wait to experience it live. Oh yeah and I bet the kids will have fun, too. Any other Zanes fans out there? Never heard of him? Here's his site. Check it out and dance around the kitchen with your favorite people. It will make you feel good.

Autumn Holidays

October 2, 2007

Did anyone notice the beautiful full moon we had last week? We did. It was the focus of two holidays for us and another example of how our family's unique "combo" brings two different cultures into connection. At the start of the week we celebrated the Chinese holiday of The Autumn Moon. Our Taiwanese friends (Chih-yen and Jonathan..he's six days older than Camille) joined us in St. Augustine where our local FCC (Families with Children from China) was hosting an Autumn Moon celebration. We missed out on the crafts and storytelling because the kids just wanted to enjoy the playground and the carousel. After a busy dinner at a local Chinese restaurant, we enjoyed home baked moon cakes. And on the long drive home we gazed at the moon. Later in the week we celebrated the Jewish holiday of Sukkot by building a sukkah (temporary structure) in our back yard. You are supposed to eat all of your meals in the sukkah while enjoying the seasonal "harvest" and gazing at the moon. We had fun decorating our sukkah but sadly we haven't been able to fully enjoy it because of the crazy rain storms we've been having.

Mama Overload

Moving too fast, stretched in too many directions, and feeling scattered, I got a sign from the universe telling me to "slow down". Last week I booked a last minute trip home to help my mom get ready for her upcoming exhibit. I thought I had worked out all of the details until yesterday when I realized the kids didn't have school on the day of my departure (which meant I didn't have childcare arrangements for them while Adam was at work). I couldn't believe I hadn't thought to check the school calendar before booking the tickets. And then I spent most of yesterday afternoon trying to find a babysitter without any success. To add to my panic, this morning I realized that I had never received confirmation for my airline tickets. Turns out I never completed the on-line ticketing process and the tickets would now cost six times as much as last week! I feel like such an idiot. How could I be so out of touch with reality that I didn't realize I hadn't fully booked the tickets or question that I hadn't received on-line confirmation? After frantic calls to Adam and my parents, I took a deep breath and was able to find another ticket leaving a day later, but at a much more reasonable price and on a day when Adam can be at home with the kids. My mother-in-law will also be here to help with the kids so that is a huge relief. Now I must return to making detailed lists and deep breathing exercises.

Weekend Fun

October 1, 2007

We had a fun weekend visit with our friends, Leslie and Trent. I have known Leslie since 8th grade and I love whenever we get to visit because it is so eating one of my favorite comfort foods, it warms me to the core. As I get older, I realize how valuable friendships are and to have one that has weathered through so many phases of our lives together is truly a gift. Being with Leslie reminds me of home, reminds me of my awkward teen age years, reminds me of crazy road trips, and with Leslie around there is always going to be good food and good energy. It was also fun getting to know Trent better and we are looking forward to future visits.

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