Saturday, June 28, 2008

You Wanna Hear Something Crazy?

I feel stupid even telling you this, but lately I've been having very positive, hopeful feelings about getting our referral from Vietnam. Is that not the nuttiest thing you've ever heard? Well, probably not. If your family is anything like mine, or the one I've married into, you've heard things waaaay nuttier than that. Amen?

Anyway, for a while there, I was really down in the dumps about all this (along with all the other VN PAPs) and thinking all looked hopeless. I didn't talk much about it, and that gave the impression to a few that this really isn't that big of a deal, but I wasn't talking because it's such a big deal, know what I mean?

Just to be clear for the few in my world that may not know- there are not a lot of rational reasons to hope right now. The situation remains pretty bleak. A few things have happened that could have a positive impact on the final outcome, and there are a few rumors floating around that sound hopeful if they would actually turn out to be true, but as of right now no big changes are on the horizon to make one think the Sept. 1 shutdown will be averted. In spite of all that, the more we've tried to direct our attentions to another program, the more I've had these very calm, gentle, quiet thoughts drifting through my mind, saying, "Just hold on. Your baby is in Vietnam. Just wait." Isn't that lovely? Absolutely insane, but lovely, yes?

So that leaves me with this new found, inexplicable hope and I don't know what to do with it... It's very out of character for this pessimistic old girl, for one thing. Am I to think this is the voice of God, speaking wonderfully soothing words of hope to my desperate heart? OR, have I finally gone over the edge, become completely engulfed in denial, and should start expecting to see fairies or talking bunnies sometime soon? Oh, how I hope it's the first thing. I do believe God is more than able to bring about a miracle in Vietnam, and for that I don't feel crazy- although you may disagree.

"For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37

I believe that. I really, really do. God has proved Himself, and the truth of that verse to me over and over again. And I know Him well enough to know that situations like this are His strong suit. These impossible-looking kinds of things are where He really gets a chance to shine and show His stuff.

BUT, hope does appear to be crazy in common sense terms, for our particular situation. Not to sound like a broken record, but some people may not recall- Our agency has not ever had a single referral from VN. It's not that referrals slowed down or stopped as they did with so many other agencies. It's that there were never any referrals to begin with. Their VN program was a pioneer or pilot program that never really got off the ground. The first batch of dossiers went over to VN over a year ago, and those folks are still waiting too, so the likelihood that our dossier would get a match by Sept. 1st is... well, it's just not good. It doesn't make sense to feel positive about it. Yet, I hope.

The quiet little voice never thinks to tell me when, exactly, all this is going to take place, or how. Is there going to be a new MOU before the deadline? Is our referral going to somehow miraculously come before Sept. 1? **Will Vietnam shutdown then reopen, and then we get our referral? DETAILS, please! It would be nice if my positive inner voice could be just a tad more specific. But, whatever... I'll take any hope I can find. Even if it means I'm crazy.

Of course there's a third possibility... I am hard of hearing, after all. I wonder if my inner voice is aware of that. Maybe it does know what it's talking about, but I'm just not hearing it correctly??? For all I know, it could be saying, "Don't forget to call your mom," but I'm hearing "Don't give up on Vietnam."

So what do you think? Have I lost my mind? If so, I kinda like it. Please don't burst my bubble (mean old September will come along soon enough to burst it for me). Just let me stay here for a while and enjoy it. And there's room here for a few others, if anyone would like to join me...

**(Our dossier will be returned on Sept. 1st if we don't get a match, so if there is an eventual reopening of the program after a shutdown, it would mean starting again from Square One.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Quick Story and a Meme

I just wanted to get this down before I forget it. I'm always thinking I'll recall the funny things Darrell or the kids say, then two weeks later I'm going, "What was that thing you said that made me laugh so hard the other day? Whatever it was, it sure was funny..."

So anyway... Remember I was telling you guys that Darrell and I have never danced together? I mean, we may have kind of danced in our kitchen for all of two seconds at some point in the past 20 years, if him grabbing me and moving his feet while I look confused and say, "Let me finish dinner, dufus," counts as dancing, but as far as being out in public and actually dancing... NEVER. Not once. Which is my doing, not his.

So... We're at the wedding reception and they call for all the parents to get out on the dance floor. I feel that little flip-floppy thing in my gut that tells me I may vomit at any moment, and Darrell says, "It's okay, we don't have to." But, I said no- I wanted to do this. We go out there and begin stumbling dancing for the first time ever and I'm trying to turn it into a romantic thing. You know, looking up lovingly into his eyes and all that crap, because:
  1. This really did feel like a romantic moment
  2. (and, more truthfully) The photographer was right next to us, watching for a good shot
So, Darrell looks back down at me, into the most adoring, loving, romantic face I can muster, and says, "Did Hell just freeze over? Somebody better go check." My head went back as I busted out laughing and I'm pretty sure that's when the photographer snapped his shot. Great.

So onto another topic. Can you tell I like these goofy Internet tag games? I like reading them to pick up trivial, but interesting little nuggets about my favorite bloggers, and apparently I like to do them, too. I doubt anyone even reads mine- since I'm so forthright with information about my undergarments, how much I sweat, etc., etc., how much more could anyone possibly want to know about me? But it's my blog so I can meme if I want to... This one came from Anne's blog, and I'm going to do the same thing she did and tag anyone who reads this and wants to play. All you have to do is leave me a comment, telling me you did it, so I can go read yours! Come on, be nice and play with me!

What is in the back of your car? My kids sit back there, so I am afraid to look.

What color is your toothbrush? Purple

Name one person who made you smile today. Any one of my kids

What were you doing at 8:00 a.m.? Looking at my clock while still in bed and trying to become coherent. It's Summertime, baby.

What were you doing 45 minutes ago? Helping Olivia choose her ensemble for VBS tonight. These are very big decisions, you know.

What is your favorite candy? Anything chocolate, or See's Peanut Brittle

What is the last thing you said aloud? I just answered Michael's question about the weather today- isolated T-storms.

What is the best ice cream flavor? It's a tie between Jamocha Almond Fudge and Pistachio Almond

What is the last thing you had to drink? Coffee, which I will drink right up until lunch

What are you wearing right now? Capris and a t shirt

What is the last thing you ate? A chocolate wafer (or 6) for breakfast

Have you bought any new clothes this week? Not this week, but I did two weeks ago. Three shirts. Needed something other than my standard uniform of t-shirts.

When was the last time you ran? May 10th. I know that because that was the night of the tornado, and we ran into that nice stranger's house. It takes a tornado to make me run. Nothing else will do it.

What was the last sporting event you watched? Tucker's baseball game last night

Do you have a tan? Yes, it comes in a can. I am a cadaver.

Do you take vitamins daily? No. I go on very temporary health kicks, when I will take them daily for about 3 days. Then I'm done and I switch to MMs.

Do you go to church? Yes

Do you like Chinese food more than pizza? Ummmm... Too hard to decide. I love both.

Do you drink your soda with a straw? Only if I am eating out.

Are you someone's best friend? I think I am... I hope.

What are you doing tomorrow? So far, the main item on the agenda is laundry... What other exciting things will the day bring, I wonder? Oh, maybe cleaning a toilet, or... gee, I'll just let the magic unfold as it happens.

Where is your dad? Heaven

Can you say the alphabet backwards? Yes, but I normally save it for parties. It used to happen accidentally back in my drinking days.

Do you have a maid service clean your home? Yes. Of course I do. You can't keep up with a family of 8 by yourself. The maids' names are, Alex, Michael, Evan, Tucker, Olivia, and Brianna. I make them all dress like Alice from Brady Bunch.

Do you have a favorite pair of shoes you wear all the time? I've recently become a Crocs convert after resisting the hideously ugly, evil things for years. I've gone over to the dark side, and I love them.

What color is your car? Disco Queen Gold

How do you like your popcorn? Movie popcorn with EXTRA butter.

How did you get your worst scar? Being gutted like a fish for four c-sections.

Look to your left. What do you see? A picture of my kids when Olivia was a baby. The boys all look so sweet. What the heck happened?

What color is your watch? Silver with a pink face, but I don't wear it. Anything tight around my wrists makes me feel like I can't breathe. It's weird, I know. Claustrophobia.

What do you think of when you think of Australia? "Maybe the dingo ate your baby."

Do you use chap stick? Sometimes. Paula's Choice brand is the best. BTW- Paula's Choice skincare ROCKS! It has totally improved my crappy skin and it's all I will use now.

Do you have a dog? Yes, and I love every smelly, vomiting inch of him- Buddy the bulldog. My beautiful boy.

Last person you talked to on the phone? Alex- which is never one of my favorite things to do because he can't be nice to me on the phone.

Have you met anyone famous? Not super famous. But I have met several people in the entertainment industry. And once, when I was a teenager, my mom and I went to an art fair in Kansas City and passed by Richard Simmons, who was fairly famous at that time. Boy, was he ever a prissy little diva. Very rude little man. And unbelievably tan.

Any plans today? Tucker and I have some errands to run, then the kids have VBS tonight with a pool party after.

How many states have you lived in? Two. I think... Yes. MO and KS

Do you dye your hair? Oh, yeah. I bet I'm mostly gray. I dunno for sure- I just keep covering that crap up.

Do you like cats? No, no, no, no, and no. I have one. She's seventeen freakin' years old, and will not die. She's intentionally hanging in there until I die first. I just know that's what she's doing. She's probably going to succeed, too. And she will dance on my grave.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

For the Family: A Few More Shots From the Wedding

This post is going to be boring to non-family, so feel free to disregard.

I'm not sure who took these, but they were emailed to us by Kindra (my daughter). Thanks, Sweet pea! Love you!

My girlies with their Grandma

Maybe it's just the Grandma in me, but I say you can't help but love this ornery face. Doesn't he just look like he's up to no good? lol... We are so proud of this little booger.
Three of my handsome boys: Mike- 16, Alex- 18 and Kyle-22
Nick, surrounded by a bevy of beauties
Kindra and Braden
Sara (niece), Kindra, Wanda (MIL), Olivia

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It Gets Worse... Mike Seate's response to complaints about his article.

Since some of you left comments telling me you'd written to Mike Seate (and thank you for that, BTW!!!), the writer of the article about Asian kids being nothing more than fashion statements (Sunday's post), I thought I'd let you know that he has a blog. Here it is:

He's getting letters from offended APs (and posting snippets from them on his blog), but is he apologetic for the horribly mean and ignorant things he said about APs and their Asian kids? Nope. Is he intelligent enough or humble enough to consider there may be another slant to this topic besides his own? Not even close. He's sticking to his crazya** comments, and even expounding upon them, much to my disgust. His most recent post is on a new subject, so he may be trying move on, but his last 3 posts before it are all on the fallout from his stupid article.

Here's a craptastic sample of what you'll find there:
"Most claim that their choice of Asian kids -- which require tens of thousands in bribes to be paid to Chinese officials unlike orphaned black kids right here and plentiful in every American state -- had nothing to do with racism. But I had to laugh at how many of the letters... claim that most or all black children suffer from drug and alcohol issues or at least their parents did. People -- where's the love?"

WHERE'S THE LOVE? Are you flippin' kidding me?

I'm searching for words...

Here's a few- Magnificent Moron. Obnoxious Lunkhead. Incompetent Dolt. Obtuse Swine. Inconsiderate Jerk. Rude Dumba**. Uh-oh... God help me.

I don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water, and say that he doesn't have any valid points, because he does. As it was pointed out in my comments the other day, there is a certain trendiness involved in adoption as far as celebrities and Hollywood are concerned. I think most of us recognize that, and I for one have to vomit in my mouth every time I hear some famous idiot talking about their desire to adopt someday because they want to "give back" (usually after they have their own kids first). And I'm always thinking, "Geez! I'd be happy if you'd just give back the ten bucks I wasted on your stupid movie!"

But... the average Joe Blow AP is not a celebrity and doesn't give a diddly flip about being trendy when it comes to something as important as adopting a child, and unfortunately Mr. Seate's remarks are not limited to Hollywood- he's talking about us.

I'm also not so naive that I can't recognize the existence of racism in adoption. I hope you guys realize that, from other things I've posted recently on that topic. Of course it's true there are people who would not even consider adopting a black child. But Seate is trying to take the extremely complicated and personal decision of choosing the country one will adopt from and boil it down to one issue: RACE. Any AP reading this knows it's nowhere near that simple. Some of us struggle, no- agonize, over what country to choose for a myriad of reasons, then if something goes awry like it has with Vietnam, we struggle and agonize again trying to find our Plan B. There are also those of us who don't struggle at all- our hearts are immediately drawn to a certain place and we just Know that's where our child is. It's insulting and ridiculous to suggest that all the thought and planning, and personal reasons that go into these decisions are due to one thing, and one thing only: We are all racists, just trying to avoid the plethora of available black kids right here at home.

Someone I know has mentioned a time or two that I take things way too personally and allow things to affect me way too deeply. I really need to work on that, because reading this guy's opinions is about to make me have a coronary. I guess if the idiotic Mr. Seate is trying to move on, I should let him and I need to move on, too. But, boy oh boy, he sure ticked me off.

There is a Far Side cartoon that goes perfectly with this. I would have posted it, but I don't think I'm allowed to do that (copyright crap, and whatnot). It shows God standing in his kitchen, wearing a chef's hat. In front of him is a big mixing bowl with Earth inside. On the shelf and counter are all kinds of ingredients- insects, reptiles, trees... You see jars that are labeled "Medium Skinned People," "Light Skinned People", and "Dark Skinned People." God's thought bubble reads, "And just to make it interesting..." as He sprinkles onto the earth from a jar labeled "Jerks." Of course it would be funnier if you were actually looking at it, but anyway... I'd like to thank Mike Seate for being the ingredient that has made this past week more interesting!!!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Nick and Katie's Wedding

The day started pretty darn early on Friday. I woke up at 1:30 am with my mind racing about all the things I needed to remember to take to KC with us and just how nervous I was about everything. No joke. ONE-THIRTY. And then I started stressing so bad about being awake and not being able to get back to sleep, that I was not able to get back to sleep. Go figure. So finally I just got up and started getting ready for the day.

Incidentally, I was asked by someone why our son's wedding was on a Friday- they wondered if it was a religious thing, or something, which I kinda thought was funny. No. Just in case you wondered, too- it wasn't religion, it was cash. The price of the place they rented was almost double, I believe, for Saturday. That made Friday sound very attractive, so there you have it- a Friday wedding.

We left the house about 7:30 that morning. Rehearsal started at 11:00. Then lunch. Pictures at 3:00 pm. Ceremony at 7:00 pm, then the reception... We ended up deciding to stay in KC Friday night (Thank You, God, for making my husband do things my way every once in a while. That's nice of You). It was a long day, and I must admit I was ready for bed by around 8:00 pm, just as the reception was getting under way.

We left the place around midnight and got to bed around 1:00 am. Cripes- I'm too old to stay up for 24 hrs. straight. I used to be able to do it with no problem when I was young, but not anymore. THEN, I was awakened at 3:00-in-the-freakin'-a.m. by some loud people partying in the room next door. And I. Was. Ticked. I pulled the grouchy old lady stunt of calling the front desk to complain after they started getting so loud they were waking up my kids, too. I sounded just like my mom. It was creepy (No offense, Mom... Love you).

The ceremony was lovely and sweet- with no complications or flubs- and the reception was great. Everyone seemed to have a really good time. The girls did an awesome job executing their flower girl duties and had a lot of fun. Livie was in awe of the beautiful bride and bridesmaids.

As usual, I spent months stressing and worrying about an event beforehand (I don't suppose you picked up on any of the subtle clues that I was freaking out about this wedding?), then I'm half sick to my stomach by the time the day finally arrives. Because of that, I'm glad it's over and done, but all went well. Nick and Katie looked like they had a great time, and they are now relaxing on their Jamaican honeymoon.

And, also as usual, I didn't get great pictures. Go figure. But, you're really not expecting them at this point, are you? If anyone else reading this was there taking pics, and got some good ones, will you email them to me, please? I didn't get any good clear shots of Kindra and Kyle, Darrell's brothers and SILs, Steven, Sara, and Daniel, and I'd love some of Nick and Katie's first dance and more of Bri's dancing! Watching her on the dance floor was a hoot! At one point, she was getting so wild that Darrell came up to me and said, "Uh... I think you'd better go out there and get your daughter under control." I looked over and she was doing moves I'd never seen or heard of. We discovered she's not easily embarrassed, that's for sure!!

The professional shots of these balcony poses are going to be gorgeous, I'm sure. Katie is afraid of heights and didn't like being up there at all.

I LOVE this one...Livie and I had done several practice hairdos and had settled on the one we'd do for the wedding, which was a really pretty little updo. She was so excited about it, and talked nonstop about how she couldn't wait to have her hair up and wear her dress, BUT, on the day of the wedding, I could NOT get her hair to do what I wanted it to do. It just wasn't cooperating, so we left it down. I know she was disappointed, but she was such a sweetie about it. She still looked beautiful!One of Katie's bridesmaids was this beautiful young Korean woman on the left side here. Bri just fell in love with her- so did Livie. She's all I've been hearing about. I think my sons kind of liked her, too. The word "hot" was bandied about a time or two regarding several of the ladies there. Teenage boys are so much fun.You've heard of "A Boy and His Dog?" How about "A Man and His Horse?"The partial fam, with 6 of the 9 kids, Darrell's mama and our grandson, Braden. I hope the photog's shots of all of us (with all 9 kids) turn out well. We get so few chances to have everyone together in one picture. Don't my boys clean up nice? Enjoying some cake! I never, ever, ever dance with my husband (or any other man, for that matter- lol!). Can you believe it? Even when we were dating, we didn't dance. I'm so self-conscious all the time and I'm a lousy dancer. It was nice. And I'm glad we got a picture of it. The Tinkerbell Dress is really showing the sparkles here. I was droppin' sparkles ALL OVER that place. You could tell exactly where I'd been! It was so darn hot at this place. I never did put on my Spanx, although I'm sure I should have. That obviously explains, why I look so crazy fat. I would have appeared 75 lbs lighter, OF COURSE, but also a heckuva lot sweatier had I been wearing my "flak jacket." It's a trade-off. Now, maybe my diet will get back on track. I've been stress eating like you wouldn't believe.
Once Bri hit the dance floor, she didn't quit til the reception was over. I couldn't believe her energy, or her complete lack of inhibition. Sometimes, a little inhibition is a good thing. I really need to teach her that, at some point. I don't have any shots of her wildest moves, because I was standing there both shocked and in awe.The pretty young blond in the coral dress is Darrell's niece. As pretty as she is here, the photo doesn't even begin to do her justice. She is one of those Stunningly Gorgeous women and you just can't take your eyes off of her. And she's very sweet. That's about all I have. There are so many more pics that were too blurry or too dark to post- dangit. Again, if anyone has more, get them to me PLEASE!

We took Braden back to the hotel with us Friday night, so his mama could stay out later and have some fun with her cousins. We bought him a new Chiefs hat and T shirt so he can be just like his "Crampa," then we took him and our 4 younger kids to the zoo in Kansas City on Saturday before heading back home. My camera's battery conked out, so I didn't get any cute pictures at the zoo. He came home with us and stayed another night. It's always such a treat to have him over. He's a fun little dude.

I didn't realize my daughter was a "fashion statement!"

How's this for clueless, ridiculous and infuriating? Does anyone else want to help me set this idiot straight? His contact info is at the bottom of the article, and the title below links to the paper's website.

Adopting Asian kids becoming latest fad

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Though I may not be ready for sainthood, I am owed some accolades for having sat through not one, but two, chick flicks with my wife in as many weekends.
Few experiences are as emasculating and downright testosterone-sapping as viewing films made exclusively for and marketed toward the female gender.
Their plot lines are centered almost entirely around emoting and the dashed expectations of true love. I often find myself enduring their 120-plus minutes by thinking, "Boy, she's going to watch six World Superbike races and a whole season of 'Tank Overhaul' for this one!"
Although I spent most of my sentence, I mean time, during this all-estrogen double feature counting lint balls in my pockets and fishing for popcorn caught between my bicuspids and gums, something in both these otherwise interminable films did manage to pierce my thick fog of indifference.
In "Then She Found Me," Helen Hunt portrays a neurotic mess of a woman who screws up every relationship in her life and can't tell good men from rotten ones. Unable to conceive a child naturally, Hunt's character decides to reward herself with something guaranteed to make her character and the audience smile: a Chinese baby girl.
The film ends with long, lingering shots of the kid's smiling face, and half the women around us were fighting back tears. I was, too, but mine were because I'd never recover those lost two hours of my life.
One week later, I suffered through an afternoon screening of the glitzy handbag commercial cleverly disguised as a major motion picture known as "Sex and the City." In that one, Charlotte, one member of the quartet of ditzy, clothes-obsessed main characters, couldn't conceive a child naturally.
The solution? She adopts one of those adorable Chinese babies you've heard so much about -- forcing viewers to spend much of the next 90 minutes of film watching these four screwed-up women as they screw up some kid who would be better off in a rice paddy 7,000 miles from any of them.
Call me cynical, but since when did Asian children become "must have" fashion accessories for upper middle-class Americans?
Along with Calloway golf clubs and season tickets to football games, paying $30,000 to $40,000 to adopt an exotic baby is suddenly viewed as the most chic purchase this side of a pair of Manolo Blahnik pumps.
Never mind that thousands of babies of other races -- most of them black -- go without foster homes and adoptions here and elsewhere in this country every year. It doesn't cost tens of thousands of dollars to adopt a black, Latino or mixed-race child.
But for some reason, even Hollywood is marketing Asian babies as somehow superior and more desirable.
That's a shame. Because if people really wanted to adopt children because of a desire to become parents, they'd just adopt babies, not fashion statements.
Mike Seate can be reached at or 724-320-7845.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Letters to the Editor
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
D.L. Clark Bldg.,
503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
E-Mail address:
Fax number:

How to make me do anything you want...

1. Look up at me with this face:

2. Call me "Grandma." Evidently, "Crammaw" is equally effective.

3. Butter me up with lines like this: "Crammaw, I wish we lived near your house, so I could have a day with you every, every day."

4. Ask me to do something for you, buy you something, or let you have something you shouldn't have like sugary bubble gum.

5. I will say "Yes."

6. We will both be incredibly happy.

(My apologies to The Mommy about the sugary gum. I couldn't help it.)
Wedding post and pics soon to come... Stay Tuned.
(And yes, that is The Tinkerbell Dress in the photo above.)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I Don't Know What to Call This Post

How's that for a title? This post is a little rambly and I couldn't decide on a title that summed it up well. I changed it several times, and still didn't like it, so I went with this.

Update: Just in case you don't read the comments for this post, Possum has written a response to this on her blog. While I must be honest and say I do not feel it is a completely accurate interpretation of my thoughts, I wanted to give you both "sides" (although I don't actually think this is a matter of taking sides- it's just a different view. I do agree with several things she says). I felt it would be most fair to link directly to her post instead of just telling you about it. I wanted you to hear what she thinks, instead of just my version of what she said, both out of respect to her and to allow you to get the full gist of her perspective without it possibly being misinterpreted or judged by me. You can read her thoughts on this post here. Thank you, Possum, for your thoughts.

To begin with... I wanted to direct your attention to a blog called Possum's Place , and specifically to the post called The ONLY Way Adoption Should Be, written Mon., June 9th. Awesome post. I loved it, agreed with it wholeheartedly (and I rarely agree with anyone even halfheartedly), and think everyone on earth should read it. There. How was that for an endorsement? A little over the top, maybe? I'm just trying to convey that it's a good, worthwhile read. Go read it. But go after you're done here, because I'm getting ready to say something else. So wait just a darn minute. Geez. Ready to jump ship pretty quick, aren't ya?

As an adoptee, I find it very difficult at times to talk about my adoption-related feelings, especially on this blog. I'm sometimes a little jealous of "Adoptee Bloggers" (like Possum and others, whose blogs offer a view into their thoughts and feelings).

For one: (and I've said this before) Members from all the various factions of my life read this blog, which makes naked, brutal honesty difficult. Oh, how I would love to just let my guts spill all over this blog someday- lol; I could really give you an earful on a lot of different things, not just adoption; get everything off my chest, but... I won't. And several of my family members probably just breathed a huge sigh of relief. A few of my favorite bloggers have recently taken up the practice of protecting certain posts, or even starting a separate protected blog altogether, to allow them to be more open with their readers on certain topics. I can understand why. There are things you may feel like you want or even need to say, but can't when you know certain people are reading. So we remain guarded and only show a portion of our true selves and our lives to the world. Probably as it should be. Honesty can be a dangerous thing! My personal problem with starting a protected blog would be the guilt I'd feel over denying someone the password. If I refuse to give it out to someone, they will know I'm talking about them- Ha! I'd end up giving it to everyone, so as not to hurt any feelings, and I'd wind up in the same boat I'm in right now- guarded.

Two: At 41 years of age, I am still struggling with a schizophrenic mixed bag of feelings regarding my adoption and all parties involved. I could carve my thoughts into stone today by putting them out here to publicly float forever, but tomorrow I may will feel just the opposite and regret ever saying anything at all. I have talked about my adoption facts and feelings a little bit on this blog, and if you missed it, you can find those posts here, and here. I'm sure there are a few others if you're willing to dig, but who has time for that? I'm not that interesting, anyway.

I also struggle with listening to others talk about their own adoption experiences. I don't always agree with everything other adoptees say for one thing, but it's more than that. Disagreement wouldn't be a big enough reason to keep me away from a blog- in fact, that's part of what makes reading blogs interesting, isn't it? Exposing yourself to new and different views, seeing things in a different light, etc... But I think my problem, at least partly, is I have a hard time processing the words and writings of other adult adoptees and birth parents without it affecting me in a very deep, personal way. I get "upset." I do not read any birth parent blogs (and I'm sorry if I offend with my chosen terms here, but I just don't like the term "first parents." I don't care if it's the new, improved lingo. I say "birth" or "bio."). And I don't read many adoptee blogs. I have a few favorites that I feel are excellent, well-balanced and articulate blogs, but just a few.

And while we're on this subject, may I stop for just a moment to caution you guys about reading adoptee and birth parent blogs? I don't even have one certain blog in mind as I say this, so please don't think I'm picking on your favorite blogger. And I would never advise you to stick your head in the sand and avoid reading blogs that may make you uncomfortable (as I do- hee, hee). My own hang-ups aside, I think it is so, so important for us as adoptive parents to listen to what adoptees and birth parents have to say. I applaud any effort an adoptive parent makes to better connect with their kids' feelings and needs, and I think it's just good, healthy parenting to seek the wisdom and advice of those who have the inside view. We can learn so much from their unique perspectives. HOWEVER... Adoptees are not all the same. Of course you know that. While they do often share a lot of similar feelings, they are not all the same. Some are just plain hateful and P*$$ED at everyone and want the whole world to know it. Some have a good reason to be angry, of course, but just like any other group of people- you will have the ranting ones, the chronic complainers, the drama queens, the glass-is-way-too-freakin'-empty types, thrown in with sound, reasonable types, upbeat, hopeful types, helpful types, plain ole normal, nice but boring types, and nauseatingly cheerful, optimistic types. And a few deep-in-denial types . Then there are the ones who are just hateful to the point of being downright scary. Shocking, scathing, or emotional rants and horror stories make for interesting, titillating reading, but it's not necessarily what we should be immersed in. And while these stories can seem plentiful compared to the "good, nice" stories, these types of perspectives are not necessarily the norm (whatever that is), or the majority. Think about it... if you are "normal," happy, and well-adjusted, how often do you talk about it? How much time do you spend thinking (or blogging), "Boy, I feel so normal, happy, and well-adjusted"? Those would be some boring blogs to read, but those kinds of adoptees are out there, too. They may just not feel the need to write about it. It is possible to grow up adopted and happy. I'm not sure how many of us, adopted or not, feel "normal," but it is possible for adoptees to feel emotionally whole, and mentally healthy. We do not all turn out to be hateful ranters who blog about our horrible parents and childhoods! Listening to a steady stream of the negative stuff is not healthy for an AP, nor is it conducive or necessary for good parenting. It's conducive to fearful, insecure parenting- being sure you will screw your kid up, too. lol. As parents, we need to be informed and educated, not frightened and criticized. As with all things in life: There has to be balance. Just be careful of what you read and buy into, is all I'm saying.

As far as keeping my own head in the sand, I am interested in adoptees' stories and points of view. Really, I am. But they sometimes make me feel things I don't want to feel and think about things I don't want to think about. In my own life, I feel that many of my adoption-related issues will never and can never be fully resolved. I've tried to resolve them, but I'm of the opinion that if more than one person is involved in an issue, it takes more than one person to resolve it. When both sides cannot work together to talk, and listen to each other, and arrive at some type of mutual understanding to "fix" the issue, it's just left there hanging. I don't like that feeling of stuff left hanging. I'm definitely a "closure" kind of girl. When you try to talk to someone and they don't or won't hear you, or can only focus on their own defenses and perspectives, and there's no resolution or sense of closure at the end, you wind up feeling even yuckier than you did before you tried to work it out. So... I keep my unresolved issues hidden under the rug, where I don't have to see them very often. When I'm faced with others talking about their own stories, it lifts the rug, so to speak, and again, I get "upset" (and, again, the word Denial leaps to mind). I often feel uncomfortable about the level of anger involved in the sentiments of other adoptees, even though I sometimes share it. On the other hand, I can start to feel almost squeamish if they have a warm fuzzy attitude toward all the parties involved in their own adoption triads, but wish at the same time that I could consistently feel that way, too. In other words, **I'm screwed up. And I find it's easier to enjoy being screwed up when one isn't constantly bombarded with reminders of one's screwed-up state all the time.

(Before I get any *mean, judgmental comments about how I have no business being an adoptive parent if I'm so messed up about it myself, I'll add a disclaimer:
**Of course, I want to nurture the healthiest attitude possible towards adoption for the sake of my child, and I do feel that my efforts to create a healthy adoptive environment for her have helped me to confront, deal with, and heal a lot of my own icky stuff. Having the blessing of her in my life forces me to remove my head from the sand and face my own issues because- OF COURSE- I do not want her to be screwed up, too, and I do not believe she has to be. I try as much as I can to keep my denial and craziness about my own adoption separate from her adoption. And in most ways, they truly are. I hope, pray, and really do believe that in some ways, my screwed-up-ness can help me be a better adoptive parent to my daughter by helping me to avoid, or at least successfully navigate through, some of the pitfalls APs can fall into, and by having a true personal understanding of some of the painful isolation and mixed feelings an adoptee can experience.

Second disclaimer, to counteract the negativity of the first disclaimer:
*Of course, I do not think any of my regular readers would leave me mean, judgmental comments. I did not mean you. I meant someone else.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Racial Hierarchy

I'm a little slow... Anne has already pointed this out, but just in case you don't read her blog, there is an excellent post up right now over at Anti-Racist Parent called Race Preference in Adoption. Please take time to click on over and read it! It ties in well with a point I was trying to make in this post about the hierarchy of racism that exists right under our noses, although we may not always be consciously aware of it.

I'll check y'all after the wedding. Be thinking of me on Friday and send your prayers my way. I need them more than I can say. They may just keep me from becoming a raging alcoholic by about 3:00 Friday afternoon... Never underestimate the power of prayer.

Have a great week and weekend.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Back From Vacation

Didja even notice I was gone? Seriously, it's not necessary to tell me if you didn't miss me. We just returned today from our little mini-vacation.

We went to... drum roll...

Branson, MO. Whoopidee Doo.

For those of you unfamiliar with Branson, or those who think it is just the place where Old Country Music Has-Beens come to build a theater to memorialize themselves before they die, it is so much more than that. There's shopping out the wazoo, and... well, there's mini-golf, and let's see... There's Go-Cart places every 20 feet along the main strip. T Shirt places. Ummm... Bait and Tackle places... And hey- there's mosquitoes! I have bites in places I can't discuss. Oh, and there's a whole butt load of places that spell "C" words with a "K," as in: "Kountry Kuzins Jamboree," just Kuz they think it's Kute, I guess. There's Silver Dollar City, which is both a theme park set in the late 1800's, and an amazing geographical oddity where everything seems to cost $7,995.00. That's for a burger with cold fries and a warm Pepsi. But they have rides. The kids love it. You can't ask for more than that.

Branson is a corny, cheesy, touristy, craptacular celebration of all things hillbilly. It has restaurants like "Starvin' Marvin's" and billboards with words like "pickin'" or "fixin's." Sounds fun, right? Is this a good time to mention I hate pretty much all country music and hillbilly-related endeavors? But we love our trips to Branson. Go figure.

It's also where the Incredible Acrobats of China show is performed, at the New Shanghai Theater, and they held a special event for (China) adoptive families for the second year in a row. We went down for that and made a long weekend out of it. There's nothing like watching a 15 year old shaped like a pencil fold herself in half backwards, with her rear end resting on her head, while lifting off the ground on one hand and supporting the weight of two other people standing on her thighs to make one feel like an ancient, decrepit, fat, fart. Of course, I couldn't do those things even before I was ancient and fat, so... I might as well prop up my feet and have a cookie. Bri loves the acrobats, but she was a little ticked this year not to get a photo op with her favorite performer. The performers had to go right when it was finally Bri's turn. Bummer.

We stayed on the gorgeous lake. The boys love getting out on the lake to jet ski, fish and swim, and I love to look at the lake from the window, after I return from shopping at all the same stores I have at home, and do supremely geeky things like... (major NERD alert!)... go to the Titanic exhibit, not once, but TWICE!! TWO TIMES! What a dork. I looovvvved it!

You know how it seems like people who have geeky interests like this are usually these really intellectual, smarty-pants types? Whaddya suppose happened to me, then? I got a dose of geek without the follow-up of smarts. Not fair.

There's a perfectly logical reason for going to Titanic twice, though. The first time was with Darrell and the three little kids, right after the acrobat show. Call me crazy, but walking around a museum full of irreplaceable and expensive artifacts, painstakingly detailed re-creations, models, and tons of information displayed for my perusal, with three little people who never want to see what's right HERE in front of their adorable faces right NOW, but are only interested in hurrying to the next room to see what's IN THERE- all while The Hub is oblivious and happily immersed in reading and looking at every single thing- does not induce my abilities to relax, focus, and take it all in. My, my, my- that was a long way of saying: I missed a lot. Most of my time was spent walking quickly past a display I ree-hee-heeally wanted to see, in favor of one that appeared to be more kid-friendly, all the while trying to make my
clenched teeth look like a smile while hissing the phrase, "I said get over here right now!"

So... a couple days later I went back with Evan, who had stayed behind the first time to fish with the older boys, and was disappointed when he'd heard we had gone to see it without him. We had a great time. We took our time, and even got those little audio tour- earphone thingies to raise the geek factor a little bit. It was soooo interesting. I think I've told you guys before about my slight (read: "freakish") Titanic fascination, and it's an awesome museum if you're into that sort of thing.

And the best part about a second visit? I didn't have to answer any questions like:
"Hey, Mom? What are we doing after this? Do you know? Can we swim in the pool when we get back to our cabin? What's for dinner tonight? Is there going to be another bathroom coming up soon? Okay then- can we turn around and go back to that last one? Huh? Do you think I'll be able to see The Incredible Hulk? Can you ask Dad if I can? Mom? Hey. Don't you get bored reading all these signs? I do. I mean, this is interesting, but it's just a little boring. Don't you think so, too? Mom. Where's Dad? (Actually, this was one question I was asking as well... Where the #%*! is your father?) Hey... Mom? Did you say we CAN swim tonight? I didn't hear your answer. Mom, do you hear me? Am I talking in your good ear, Mom? Hey. I must be on your deaf side. MOM! MOMMY! Oh. Are you STILL trying to read this stuff, Mom?"

Yeah. Good times. Great memories created for all involved.

We all really did have a lot of fun, but didn't get many pictures to show for it. I guess that's because we were busy having all that fun. You know me- the pictures would have been cruddy anyway.

Next event:
This coming Friday is my son's wedding. It's going to be a long, hectic beautiful, exciting, glorious day. We're going two hours up there and two hours back, all in the same day. The rehearsal is in the morning, followed by a rehearsal lunch, then getting two flower girls dressed and hairdos done (which I am doing myself- FRAP), then pictures, the wedding, and reception, then home at O Dark Thirty Hours. Each of the kids has been enlisted to do something. And then, there's the little matter of trying to stuff a horse into a Tinkerbell costume... Oh, dear.

It's going to be a lovely, lovely day. One we'll remember fondly for years.
It's going to be a lovely, lovely day. One we'll remember fondly for years.
It's going to be a lovely, lovely day. One we'll remember fondly for years.
It's going to be a lovely, lovely day. One we'll remember fondly for years...

I'm sure I'll have pics to post afterwards. You'll want to check back for those, huh?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It's in! Everything you never knew you wanted to know about tornado shelter installation. (Picture heavy)

Alternate Title: How Frightened, Paranoid People Restore a False Sense of Security in as Little as One Afternoon

Darrell and I were joking the other day, after that last trip up to the church, about how funny it would be if a huge tornado ripped through our area, wiping out our home and everyone in it while our storm shelter sat outside in the yard, uninstalled and completely intact. Actually, that wouldn't be the ha-ha kind of funny, as much as the ironic/isn't that weird kind of funny. Obviously. Just to clarify, we do not sit around laughing at the thought of our family being wiped out in natural disasters.

But, I betcha now we won't have another tornado warning all year. Probably not even a watch. The scary, threatening storms are done. How do I know? Because... We are now the giddy owners of an in-ground tornado shelter. And doesn't it stand to reason that if you've just plunked down fraploads of money on such a thing, you will never actually have to use it? In my world, yes it does.

The excitement started around here bright and early last Saturday morning. The Backhoe Man came over, ready to start digging a ginormous hole for our shelter. BUT...

He informed Darrell that our chosen location (one that Darrell and I spent quite a bit of time *discussing*) wouldn't work because there was nothing but solid rock down there. Of course.

So, Darrell chose a new spot while I was inside, blissfully ignorant of any problems.

It is right outside our back door.

I'm making a face right now. Too bad you can't see it. If you could, then I wouldn't have to tell you that this is the spot where I absolutely did not want to put the shelter. Who in the %&#* (heck) wants a big hill with a door attached, smack-dab outside their back door?

The upside is, the kids won't have far to go if we ever need to make a mad dash in the middle of the night. All we need to do is open the back door and we're there. That's nice. Very convenient... Of course, it won't be so convenient if a tornado knocks our house down on top of the shelter door, trapping all of us down there, but what do I know? Apparently, as I've been informed by my spouse, Mr. Science, tornadoes almost always travel from southwest to northeast, so the debris should fall away from our shelter's door, not on top of it. Oh. Good. I hope the tornado knows that.

I'm making that face again.

In Darrell's defense, I should add that he didn't really want the shelter there, either. But considering the layout of our yard and the cruddy type of ground we have (rocky), it was the best place to put it.

Anyway.... The Backhoe Man started digging a new ginormous hole (directly outside my back door).
Not to insult your intelligence or anything, but this is the ginormous hole to which I am referring. You probably could have gathered that much on your own. It's much bigger than it appears. There's only so much you can do or say to make a picture of a hole interesting, so let's move on, shall we?Next, the shelter is hooked up to the backhoe, to be lifted and lowered into the hole.These steel poles go through the bottom of the shelter. Concrete will be put over them, which helps anchor the whole contraption into the ground. And here is Evan, trying out his best "Exhaustion Pose," to make it appear as if he's working really hard instead of standing around. There appears to be a beer can on the ground, but we do not litter our yard with beer cans. I promise. That's actually my contractor's can of Full Throttle. And yes, he did go back and pick it up. Good man.Next, the shelter has to be leveled in the hole.The air vents are added. This is the favorite step as far as the Claustrophobic One is concerned. However...The vents (there are two) will stick up obnoxiously above the already-obtrusive-enough hill that will be right outside my back door. You can see in this photo just how close the shelter is to the house. Oh... I feel that face coming back.Then, bags of concrete are put all around the bottom, on top of those steel poles. They are torn open and wet down. This seemed weird to me. I wondered why the concrete isn't mixed up and poured into the hole. But this is how the shelter salesman says it's done, and my contractor assures me this is right, so who am I to argue?You'll notice that Alex seems to be the only one in these photos working. So... Where is Darrell? Where is my trusty contractor? Hmmm...

Oh... Here he is.
Just joking. He was right there working, too. That shot was from last Christmas (Sorry, Darrell. Remember... you like my sense of humor). In fact, not only was Darrell working on ours, but it looks as if he's going to continue working on others. He's gotten enough interest in these to get a dealership going and start selling and installing them. He already has several customers lined up (which means I'm not the only one in town traumatized by these recent storms). I have a funny feeling my shelter is going to become the demo model, with total strangers showing up telling me Darrell sent them over to take a look inside ours.Next, straps that go completely over the shelter, are bolted down and anchored by these big, long spike thingies that screw down through the concrete and into the ground. Of course, the weight of the wildebeest sitting inside with her whole family will also help ensure that a strong tornado cannot suck the whole thing up out of the ground.They filled the hole back up with dirt, which will be watered down and packed in, with more dirt being added over the next few days as it settles. And there you have it. You gotcherself a tornado shelter. Obviously, it will eventually have grass growing over it and blend in with the rest of the yard, so it won't always look quite this tomb-like. I've also just been told by my contractor that those air vents can be cut down after we're finished so they won't stick up quite this much. Now, for the inside:

The Apprehensive Descent

From the outside, looking down, it really does feel as if you're stepping down into a coffin. It looks much smaller than it is, from out here.There's plenty of room inside for all of us, our little survival kit (h2o, first aid, snacks, etc.), plus a few visitors...Like these! They can come and go through the air vents. I hadn't thought of that. Isn't that nice? (Terrible picture, I know, but aren't they always?)This is my cheesy, "wave at the camera, kids" shot...And this shows the boys' feelings about my cheesy, "wave at the camera, kids" shotSo, that's it. And to the two of you who remained for this whole boring post, I thank you. I should give you a prize just for staying.