January 31, 2007

There are times when this mothering stuff feels so twisted. Today I caught myself staring at a two year old gobbling skittles while shopping with her mother in Walmart. And sadly it made me feel better about myself as I thought "my kids have never eaten skittles before....what kind of mother would give her toddler skittles?" But then I quickly remembered how I felt last week when I was confronted by a mom about my decision to give my children milk and dairy products. The conversation started as most child centered conversations seem to start by comparing our children...their weight, their sleep habits, their speech, and other developmental milestones...I hate these conversations. When I happened to mention Camille's history of ear infections, I opened the floodgates for her lecture on the dangers of milk and the link to ear infections. At first I felt stunned..did something drastically change in child-rearing philosophies while I was living overseas? Then I felt bad that I had somehow been creating Camille's ear infections by giving her milk (although she has never shown any signs of an allergy to milk). And as I was driving home I started to become defensive and angry. These feelings built as this woman proceeded to send me daily e-mails with links to sites like . I never thought I would encounter a vegan with such a mission and I never thought milk would be such a controversial topic! And it brings me back to my skittle experience in Walmart. I wish we could all be less judgemental and insecure. I wish there were other ways to get feedback on our job performance as mothers beyond the growth charts, milestones, and on-going comparative discussions with other moms. I guess the true performance evaluations come after your children are grown and hopefully successful, kind, and caring adults. I wasn't really prepared for this aspect of parenting. The parenting books don't talk about how to deal with your feelings of inadequacy, judgement, and competition with other parents. Everyone is always happy to share their advice and their experiences but few are willing to share their low moments or their fears or their insecurities. That's the twisted and at times the lonely aspect of motherhood (at least for me). Thank God for the mama friends in my life who have been there for me at the low moments and allowed me to be there for their low moments.

And as a side note...Adam has joked in the past about this whole idea of drinking cow's milk. Who was the first one to try nursing on a cow? It is kind of weird isn't it? Despite that we will continue to be a milk drinking family. And if you want to feed your kids skittles that's ok (I admit to breaking down and occasionally giving ours M&Ms)

Winter beauty

January 28, 2007


January 27, 2007

On Thursday, Camille and I had a playdate with Dominick and his mom, Lori. Dominick and Camille were at Cathwel together in Taiwan. It was so much fun to meet them and to watch the kids playing...both so happy, healthy, and big! Wonderful to see these beautiful Taiwanese babies being re-connected halfway around the world nearly a year after their adoptions. We are looking forward to lots more playdates!

How much did she cost?

January 26, 2007

Hard to believe it has almost been a year since we held Camille for the first time in Taiwan. With that happy anniversary quickly approaching, I have been thinking a lot about our first year with her and also our first year as adoptive parents. There have been so many wonderful moments, a few scary ones, and also a few that have caught us offguard. We are always happy to share our adoption story, but we have been shocked by some of the questions we have gotten. The first time this happened was just a few weeks after Camille came home. I was in the produce section at the comissary when I heard a voice saying "how much did she cost?". Thinking I had misheard I looked up in disbelief as the woman repeated the question. And stupidly because I was in shock and didn't quite know how to respond, I told her our total costs and her response was "wow, that's more than a car" and then she walked away. It left me feeling shaky, angry, and sort of violated. I was most upset with myself for not having a quick response like "none of your business". It has happened two more times since that first encounter. All have been strangers who didn't have any real interest in adoption and all were strangers who didn't even stop to consider how rude they were being. We will talk numbers with those seriously interested in adoption, but not in the middle of the produce section and not in front of our kids. I have a problem with this question on so many levels.

One is that it is just plain rude. I would never approach a stranger in the grocery store and ask how much their plastic surgery cost. In this age of reality tv, people seem to have forgotten manners and assume that others' lives are on display for them to question and critique.

Two, we are discussing a child not an object. Referring to my beautiful baby girl in such an objectified way is disgusting. Luckily, Noah has never been with me when I have gotten "the question" and Camille was too young, but unfortunatedly it will probably happen one day. No one has ever asked us how much Noah's delivery cost or how much we spent on him in his first year of life, but they don't have any hesitation to ask about Camille's "cost".

Three, how can the cost and value of a child ever be "calculated"? They are truly priceless....every kiss, every smile, every milestone is worth more than anything in my life. I would do anything for my children and it offends me that someone would have the audacity to open a conversation with a stranger about the cost of the most precious parts of another's life. When I hear those words coming out of a stranger's mouth, it is like having a dagger plunged in my heart because it attempts to calculate or question how my family has been family, my life. On another shopping trip (interesting that these convesations have always taken place in very public spaces..shops or restaurants), a woman asked the dreaded question and before I could comment she followed it up with "we talked about adopting but it cost too much and we didn't want to buy our children". Why would you say that to anyone, especially a family that has been created through adoption? Why? People can be so thoughtless, rude, and cruel. I wish I had a tape recorder to play back their question in hope they would hear how crude they sound...but they would probably just repeat themselves.

In addition to the dreaded money question, we have had some conversations during the past year with others about our motivation for adoption and our attempts to raise a child from a different culture. In Japan and Taiwan, adoption is still fairly uncommon and taboo (kept secret from the child and others outside of the family) so we have had some interesting cross cultural conversations about adoption. Sometimes these talks were painful. Painful to hear questions about why we would want to raise a child that someone gave away and their assumation that something must be wrong with her or her family for this to happen. Painful to hear their fears that we will be raising a "white girl with an Asian mask" and their belief that children should be raised in their own culture. As uncomfortable and as angry as some of these conversations were, I can only hope that our willingness to also be frank will perhaps have an impact on their view of international adoption.

As a parent, I want to protect my children from harm, discrimination, and injustice but I know that there will be times in the future when they will encounter ignorance and hate. They will be picked on or discriminated against because of their religious beliefs, their skin color, their transracial family,their favorite color (Noah's is pink) etc. I just hope that we can help them prepare for those moments, encourage them to be proud of who they are, and hopefully chip away at that ignorance and hate.


January 22, 2007

Toliets and New York

January 21, 2007

Today while I was cleaning the bathrooms I listened to a long phone message from my dad. He is currently in New York City inhaling the culture, the art, and the big city views. I quickly called him back to express my jealousy and to live vicariously through his descriptions. Oh to be in a big city surrounded by bustle, different languages, and walking distance to anything and everything....that would be so much better than scrubbing toliets. I had to control my overwhelming urge to drop the phone, grab a flight, and have dinner in the city. Doesn't that sound like a good movie...desperate housewife flees dirty toliets to see the Big City? Alright, probably not a great movie but it was a good fantasy for today. I have one bathroom left to tackle so I had better get that done before that urge to flee hits again.

Building Blocks

I feel a little guilty about posting my frustration with Noah. He is a wonderful little guy and I know that some of this behavior is developmental and part of it is a reaction to changes in the last few weeks with our travels and Adam's return to work. So I feel the need to focus on some of the positives since I have recently spent more time feeling frustrated by his behavior. One thing that I have really been enjoying with Noah are his block creations. He loves to build these elaborate neighborhoods and streets for his matchbox cars. And I have to admit that I also love working on them with him. There is something so amazing about wooden blocks that appeal to all ages (are there building blocks in nursing homes? there should be!). There are endless possiblities for creating houses, roads, sculpture, etc. And it is so satisfying to see something physically emerge and then also nice to knock it down and start over. I have been cleaning out a lot of things lately including toys and I realize that Noah's needs (but proably all kids) are pretty basic..trains, tracks, matchbox cars, blocks, puzzles, and books. And yet stores are filled with tons of crap...noisy plastic dust collectors that don't allow for any creative or imaginative play. Watching Noah put all of his focus into building streets and structures makes me happy. Happy to see his intensity, his creativity, and his joy.


We had a good time at the zoo today, but I found myself comparing Noah to the wild animals and realizing that they are better behaved than he has been recently. Seriously, he is driving us crazy and I am starting to wonder if we will survive this stage. My mom has always said the terrible twos was misnamed; it should the be the terrible threes. But now that Noah is quickly approaching four I dread to think what four will be like. His intense engergy, curiosity, sassiness, and sensitivity make for a dramatic combination and some of his recent tantrums have been pretty dramatic. At times he seems to be possessed and I wonder if exorcism exists for Jewish children? It takes so much energy to be calm, consistent, and patient with him these days. Luckily in the midst of the current chaos (ie wild animal training) there are moments of tenderness and I have hope that we will all emerge from this phase relatively unscathed.

Good stuff

January 20, 2007

Books and movies. I am catching up on three years of missed movies and books and I am loving it. Here's what I have seen recently....GREAT (thanks to Pris and Eddie's suggestions)

Little Miss Sunshine
Everything is Illuminated
The World's Fastest Indian

Here's what I have read recently and loved:

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Digging to America by Ann Tyler
The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel
We Thought You Would be Prettier: True Tales of the Dorkiest Girl Alive by Laurie Notaro

And I started a book club for our local adoption group (my selfish and desperate way of trying to find new friends combined with my love of reading!). We had our first meeting this past Thursday and it was a lot of fun. I was pretty nervous about it since I hadn't met the group members until we all showed up to discuss the book (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan). I was worried that it would be one of those book groups that doesn't discuss the books but we actually did and we are all now fired up for future meetings. We showed up at 7pm and didn't leave until 11pm...I guess I wasn't the only one who was excited to be out of the house and conversing with adults!

So what are you reading and watching? Please share...I am hungry for more good stuff.

Look Who's Walking!

January 18, 2007

And she's thrilled! I will try to get better photos soon...not as easy to do now that Mei-Mei is on the move.

Morgan Exhibit

January 17, 2007

Sadly we missed another one of my dad's openings (thanks to my mom for sending the photo... really wish we could have been there). I heard from several folks that it is a good show, good space, and ofcourse good work. Here is a link for more info. If you are going to be in Lafayette, Louisiana anytime soon stop by and check it out:


A new baby girl arrived in the world last night! Mazel Tov to Summer and Karl! I will always think of Sophie when I see Japanese magnolias. These amazing flowering trees are popping into bloom right now and they are one of my favorite flowers. They always brighten up grey winter days and herald spring's approach just as I am sure Sophie will bring joy and hope to her parents. When we brought Noah home from the hospital our yard was filled with daffodils and when we brought Camille home there were big plumy purple blossoms on the bushes near our living room (need to find out the name of those plants). It makes me happy to think about sweet Miss Sophie going home soon in her parents arms.

Winter Walk

January 16, 2007

A beautiful, sunny, 70degree day in idea of a nice winter day! A happy family outing complete with a successful letterbox find (after fighting off the snake guarding the hiding spot). Lots of lizards sunning themselves. Two tired out kids. And a blister from foolishly wearing flip-flops. A good day for a winter walk.


January 14, 2007

As with all relationships, Noah and Camille's relationship is an ever-changing and evolving one. I am hoping they will always be supportive, loving, and close but right now I am just hoping they don't cause too much harm to one another! I have to remind Noah that Camille is quickly catching up to him in size (as my sister did and I quickly learned paybacks are not fun!).
This morning Camille attempted to take a bite of Noah's breakfast and he told her "sometimes we need to lock you up in a bear cage" (not sure where that came from but at least he didn't use his hands to express his frustration, right?). Camille is still at the stage of complete adoration for her big brother. She loves to smother him with kisses and hugs. She loves his wrestling, his silly antics, and gets true enjoyment from pulling his hair. It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea. ~Dylan Thomas

Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring - quite often the hard way. ~Pamela Dugdale


Noah and Camille are both at a very busy stage of building their vocabularies. It is interesting to see these bursts of growth. Noah is curious about all new words that he encounters and seems to constantly be asking "what does it mean?". I recently took him to see Charlotte's Web and he spent most of the movie asking about the words "what does languishing mean? salutations? radiant?" Camille is quickly adding to her signing and spoken vocabulary. Her favorite spoken words are ball, more,dog, milk, dada, book and oh-oh. I love watching her sign the words for cat (pulling on her hair instead of pretend wiskers by the side of her mouth) and bird (she gets so excited when seeing a bird and her fingers frantically make the sign much like a baby bird begging for worms...opening and quickly closing her fingers like a beak). One of the things I love most about having kids is seeing the world all over again through their eyes and the daily reminders of how exciting it is to learn new things.

Monkey Business

January 10, 2007

Here is our monkey girl hiding one of Noah's new trains!

A year ago today

Tonight Noah gave Camille a big hug and said "look how much she has grown". It was a sweet moment made even sweeter by the fact that exactly a year ago today we accepted her referral. That memorable phone call sent us into an excited frenzy...getting her room ready, daydreaming about holding our baby girl, deciding on a name, trying to prepare Noah, making travel plans, and sharing our happy news with everyone we knew.We were so excited about our new baby girl...two months old and waiting for us in Taiwan. At that point there were still many things we didn't know. We still hadn't seen her photograph so we didn't know she would have the cutest cheeks on earth or those big brown make-your-heart-melt eyes. We didn't know that she would be such a happy, mellow, huggable little girl. We didn't know how much joy and laughter she would bring to our lives, but we did know that we already loved her

Winter Swamp

January 3, 2007

We spent yesterday afternoon visiting Aunt Janet. The swamp was very full because of the recent flooding and Noah enjoyed his first pirogue (flat bottom Cajun canoe) ride. We also had fun picking satsuma oranges and broccoli in the garden.

Clementine and Camille

New Year's Day and Night

We woke on New Year's morning to discover Santa and Tee Bon Homme ( a Cajun New Year's tradition) had left us treats in bags and under the tree. Lots of fun! We celebrated New Year's night with a bonfire and fireworks. We burned the tree which was decorated with paper chains, cheered Michael on as he set off the fireworks, yelled at the dogs who got too close to the fireworks, and enjoyed the full moon.

January 1, 2007

Happy New Year!
We wish you all the best in 2007!

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