Friday, June 30, 2006

Fifty Minute Tantrum

Dear readers,
I kid you not and I do not exaggerate. I do know she's a bit shell shocked. I know she has to grieve her losses and learn to accept permanent and unconditional love. I know the shots yesterday have her feeling out of sorts.
But still. Fifty minutes of unrelenting screaming.
The last time this happened (last week, an hour) ds asked if he could have his ears surgically removed so he wouldn't have to hear it. Then he settled for earplugs instead. But what's a momma to do?!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Five Ingredients Friday - One (kind of) Ingredient Wonton Crisps

Between last Friday and this (I'm posting early because I don't think I'll get to sit down in front of the computer tomorrow) I lost my one ingredient recipe. I had to go on a whole kitchen search. One would think I wouldn't need a recipe for this. And yet . . .

---Wonton Crisps ---
1 pkg wonton skins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut wonton skins into 1" strips. Curl strips around handle of wooden spoon. Slide each off of handle, curled, and place on lightly greased (or cooking sprayed - aha! TWO INGREDIENTS) cookie sheet. As you work, keep remaining wonton skins covered so as not to dry out.

Bake for 5-6 minutes, or until crisp but not too browned.

Serve with duck sauce, hoisin sauce, or another favorite dipping sauce (THREE, really!) for an easy, tasty appetizer.
Also good on salads.


We ran into college friends we hadn't seen in nine! years. They now have four kids. The first thing ds said was "Wow. I bet bedtime takes a long time at your house!"

It takes two hours now at our house.

As soon as it takes less than two hours, I will post more. I promise.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

We're not poster children/parents

So we've traded our anonymity in for our opportunity to parent Miss I. - anonymity I never even realized I liked so much, but would still give several times over for this little girl.

Yes, we were prepared for attention, both positive and negative (and the negative-positive attention I've read called the "I'm down wit dat" attitude), as we'd read just about every good book or article (and on-line class) pertaining to transracial parenting and conspicuousness. What I hadn't prepared for was the mismatch in sociability: Where I am inclined to shyness and homebodiness, and my husband and son are more social than I but still reserved, my daughter (while clinging to me, and only while clinging to me - otherwise, she's very shy and anxious right now) is inclined to catch and keep the eye of every stranger we would otherwise pass but are now forced to meet. Some of this is cultural and some of it constitutional. (A friend tells me, wisely, that I and I. both needed the other's influence for balance.)

But all of those strangers we meet have opinions about us - expressed and unexpressed - that they wouldn't have about a single-race family. Because the world is full of same race families - and who has time to judge them all?

And those opinions will affect how they view every other multiracial (particularly transracial adoptive) family they come into contact with. A tantrum in front of an aa family can make me feel like I am showing aa families that white parents are incompetent at parenting black children. A tantrum in front of an old white woman confirms for that old white woman every negative thought she's ever had about unruly black children.

This feeling is not entirely unfamiliar - we were relatively poor by American standards when ds was born, and I always felt like I had to keep him cleaner, calmer, quieter than if we'd had money (ridiculous now) - but the stakes are higher now. A snotty nose, a tear-stained cheek, her (temporarily) dry scalp - all these things call into question my competence or her value --

-- but this I was prepared for.

In truth, it's the positive interactions with strangers that are getting to me. Even these positive interactions,where I. holds onto me tightly and just beams at a stranger who beams back, seems to mean something more than a smiling child in her mother's arms ought to. And a couple of days ago that was enough to make me cry.

But then, it's only been a week and a half, and I'm a little more than a little tired.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Five Ingredients Friday - Key Lime Pie

Here's an easy recipe for key lime pie that only takes a handful of ingredients:

1 15 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
4 large eggs
1/2 c strained fresh lime juice (1 doz key limes = about 1/2 c)

Preheat oven to 325. Whisk together the above ingredients until well-blended. The mixture will thicken as the citrus and milk react. Pour the filling into a graham cracker crust.
For a pie with meringue, let the unbaked pie stand at room temperature as you prepare ingredients for the meringue. Bake the pie on the center rack until just firm enough to support the meringue (about 7 min) as you beat the meringue.
Spread meringue around edges of crust, then fill in middle. Replace on center rack and bake for 20 min (or so) longer.
Let pie cool completely before refrigerating (up to a day).

Next week - one ingredient recipe!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Learning how to love and be loved

American family's most recent post breaks my heart. Because we have been there, and right now we are where she will be. We are parenting a child old enough to remember her losses (and they are many) and not old enough to be able to express them. And I can't really help her much.

Shortly before our referral but after we had expressed openness to an older infant/toddler, I was overwhelmed with the thought that I couldn't help her at all. I was obsessed with the fact that our daughter - as yet unnamed but certainly already born - was starving, suffering through the drought afflicting the south of Ethiopia. And it was a fact. Every day I had to find a way to reject, refuse, ignore my powerlessness to do anything about her pain. And I wondered, every day, if this was the day she would lose her family, everything and everyone she was only learning to love.

Now we are expecting Miss I., who lost her first family and just last week lost her nannies at the care center (wonderfully kind and loving, if overwhelmed by the number and needs of their charges) to know what to do with us. This is an impossible demand to make on a little person, and I am so sorry for it.

Incredibly, so far she seems to be working it out. At first she ate everything we offered as if there might not be enough, just as she soaked up our love as if there would soon be an end to it, cried as if her heart were breaking every time someone left the room and laughed heartily when that someone returned to her view.

Just four days later, she's already shaking her head and saying "no" to things and foods taking as many as ten steps away from me before running to squeeze my knees or demanding "up-ah," for reassurance that her exploration is safe, healthy, good. Sometimes she even turns the corner from one room to another and then just peeks back at me, to make sure I am there and watching her. These are milestones in our development.

She awoke in the middle of the night last night, and she rolled back and forth and laughed when I placed her in between me and dh (instead of replacing her in the cosleeper), as if laughter was the only way to express surprise and joy that she didn't have to choose one of us for comfort, that she had an abundance.

She tantrums when I put her down, and I whisper how I wish I could explain that this is it, that our family is the end of the road, that it is forever, that I will take care of her, but no words can communicate that to her. For now we will have to understand her surprise when we are still here, until we've been here so long that it isn't surprising. We'll worry about forever later.

This morning ds was feeling a little jealous. He later said, calmly, "I'm feeling sad and angry that you don't have as much time for me." But at the time, he was not so calm. "She doesn't love you," he said angrily.

"You're right," I answered. "She doesn't even know how --- yet." But she will.


Today my kids fought in the car. Dh seemed bothered by ds poking Miss I, and her "Nah!" and pointing to the spot he had poked her (the nonverbal form of the familiar "HE'S TOUCHING ME!"). I said "This is what you wanted!" and smiled.
"Yeah," he replied. "The American freaking dream."
And then he smiled slowly.
I have to say, two kids having normal kid fights in the back seat of the car really is a dream come true.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Billboard, Addis Ababa

(or, globalization. Click to enlarge)

Meeting Miss I.

Sster's post on boomerific includes loving thoughts about the Bloom family (and praise for me, which makes me feel shy), and poses a kind of question (and Kohana's comment poses it more directly): How are meeting your child via adoption and meeting your child by birth alike, and how different? I only have the very personal and specific responses of myself and my husband to offer, but that's all anyone ever has . . .

When I was pregnant with ds, I didn't feel like there was a moment I really met him. (I've heard this isn't common - my sister's first babe was always a mystery) DS just grew into my awareness. At eight weeks, I had an exam for spotting. I "knew" a little bit about him then if I was to believe the very traditional Jamaican nurse, who insisted that the hyperemesis that had accounted for my prior hospital admission made it clear that he was "a very strong, robust boy." She confirmed what I had suspected, so I started talking to my son, whom I'd already been speaking to (and in those terms) with much more confidence. (Once, in my journal, I wrote, "Maybe you're a girl!" and used the name we had chosen in case. In every other entry, he's ds, by name).

I learned about him as he moved, as he grew, and I learned too much about him as my very intensely medically scrutinized pregnancy progressed. And when he was finally born (see entry May 4) my overwhelming feelings were relief and gratitude. But I was not surprised. Since then, I have been surprised by him so many times - by his intelligence, his intuitiveness, his spiritedness, his warmth, his temper, his humor.

I asked dh what it was like meeting I. for the first time. Their meeting, anticipated for two months (two years, really) was delayed a couple more hours by a mishap, which may have been a bit deflating. His first thought, he says, was "That's who you are." Her first thought was panic, and she cried and refused to look at him. Later, she threw shoes and a banana (skills she employs every couple hours). He gave her space, knowing we had the rest of our lives. And thankfully, we do.

My first feelings, when I saw dh, our dear friend, and my daughter come through the doors from customs were relief and gratitude. I cried, and I didn't know whether to run to them or wait for them to come beyond the gates. I was overwhelmingly thankful that they were safe and home. I loved my husband more than I'd ever loved him before. And I loved the little mystery he held asleep in his arms.

He says those are the feelings he had when he first met ds.

Like dh, I knew that we have forever to figure each other out, this mystery and me, but I am not blessed with his unending patience, so for me it's work to watch our lives unfold.

My son said "I'm so happy I feel sad" and he cried.

I had imagined what meeting them at the airport would be like. And in some ways, it was just like that. I knew I would be speechless, knew I would cry.

Miss I. herself missed her opportunity to say "Hi, Momma," as she had hoped (and as she had already done on the phone) but she's making up for it by chanting A-Momma, a-momma, a-momma in my ear, just as she sings Abbat A-dadda, Abbat A-dadda (Father-Daddy) quietly when dh is not in the room or when she needs him to help her fall asleep (a task for which the much-awaited Momma just will not suffice). I'm suprised by her beauty, her charm, her temper, her humor, her strength, her intense need to be held by me, to be told she is mine (however much adoption books had said this would be so).

I guess that's all to say that while the meetings are important parts of our stories, I'm learning that it's less about meetings than it is about being.

and we've only just begun to be.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Even Quicker Update! (I think)

Sometime soon I will post about the travelers' adventures, the homecoming and first meeting, attachment, toddler parenting mishaps, and our first two days together. I can't do any of that until the pictures are uploaded and the suitcases are unpacked. But I can tell you this:

Right now, in my room, sleep two of the most precious children in the world - ds, who loves his little sister fiercely already, who makes me prouder and prouder all the time

and I., whose happiest place is on the hip of her Momma, whose smiles are almost always for her brother (certainly kisses are just for him!) but who can't fall asleep without Adadda holding her, and who sings an "Adadda" song of her own invention.

Tonight, dh, absent for what feels like an eternity (and with experiences that he says have, in a good way, aged him) and I will sleep there as well.

I love them so much my heart hurts.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I'm so sorry I haven't kept in better contact, either here or in rl. I will be out of touch entirely for the next couple days, as I finish preparing for our daughter's arrival, dh's homecoming, and our trip to meet them.
Thank you so much for the messages here and elsewhere of support for our family.
Our separation is almost at an end. I can hardly believe that it is Thursday afternoon. Saturday morning, my dear ones will be together with us.

Did I mention yet that I has asked Daddy for her Momma? The picture didn't cut it. I hope the person doesn't disappoint!

I will have so much to share, very soon!!!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Having stayed behind is very hard, but not for the reasons I anticipated. I thought I would mostly be jealous, sad, feeling left out of even more of our little girl's life, and perhaps also that I would feel as if I'd let her down by not traveling to get to know her and her history.

I do feel a little bit of each of those things.

But I'm mostly struck by how much I've missed with respect to dh. I missed the first time he laid eyes on his beautiful daughter. I missed one of the proudest moments of his life - when I. finally rested her head against his shoulder. I missed the first time I. called him Dadda, and the first time she really laughed for him.

I missed all of these moments.

I am also more certain with each moment of my love for both of them, more aware all the time of how tremendously I've been blessed.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Very Quick Updates

Dh has been able to call twice, but only for three minutes each time. He called first to say he had arrived safely, and that Ethiopia was beautiful and the people very gracious. The second time he called to let us know that I., though initially very hesitant (she was aware he was coming to change her life, he says) is beginning to accept him (though in what capacity we're not quite sure).
We miss them terribly.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Finding Nemo was not a good movie to watch today

I wasn't thinking/editting his choices when I let ds pick a movie to watch while I cleaned. I just did what I always do - started the film at the second chapter. The traumatic loss of the mother, staple of Disney films, has always been avoided in our already-anxious household, and will continue to be so with I. But forget the first chapter! Here we have a boy-fish separated from his father, on the day ds said he was "sadder than [he's] ever been" in his "whole life."

Then I didn't want to make it worse by turning it off. So we watched Nemo as if we had never seen it before, wondering whether it would end with Nemo and Daddy together (wondering if ds was Nemo, or if I. is).

And while I know traveling together was not an option for us, dh's departure has made me and ds very blue. As for whether this was the "right" way to do it or not, I think I'll have dh post a guest posting (if he's amenable) when he returns - I will always be torn on that issue, insisting that those who can travel really should just before deferring to the practicalities.

(Review of Cars coming soon.)

Dear I.,
Daddy will be there very soon! He loves you very much.
So do we.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Quick Coconut Rice and Beans (6 ingredients! Aack)

The favorite easy food here right now - canned black beans and quick coconut rice. You'll also learn a little something about me here: I rarely measure. Still . . .

1 can of coconut milk (not sweetened! And my family did notice a difference when I used "lite")
About 1 c rice (I cheat and use minute, and it still works, though the results are more satisfying with traditional rice, I'm sure)

Heat coconut milk almost to boiling. Add a wee bit of nutmeg.
Stir in rice, turn to v. low, and watch carefully.
When the rice has absorbed the coconut milk, place in oven-proof platter, in oven on warm.

Heat a can of black beans on stove-top.
As you do this, slice mango and red bell pepper.

Remove rice platter from oven. Make a dent in the middle, fill with black beans. Garnish with the mango and red pepper. If you want to add a seventh ingredient :) garnish with lime slices as well.

This side dish good with fish, is also a great meal when made in greater quantity.


I wish I had something more profound to say right now:

DH leaves in the morning. We spent all day trying to distract ourselves, and now we're finishing the packing.

So much will happen in this week. For the first time since high school, dh will go on an adventure without me. We've been nearly inseparable since that time, with the exception of a couple of business trips. We hope to talk three times on the phone, and we hear email may be a possibility though it is very slow.

When dh gets back, he will have been someone else's Dad already for almost a week, and I will still have to introduce myself to her and learn how to be her Momma, and ds will have to learn how to share Daddy and Momma.

I. will have left everything she knows with someone she's only known for a week. She will be leaving so much behind, and she isn't old enough (truthfully, thankfully) to understand that. But we will know, and it will break our hearts, even as it brings us incredible joy.

And in a week, our family will be more complete.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

One Less Thing to be Anxious About

Received word this morning that we've cleared ICPC. Supposedly, no more hurdles. Just random anxieties. We'll see.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Full-blown anxieties settling in

Separation anxiety
Paperwork anxiety (copied onto blue paper what?!)
Travel anxiety
Parenting anxiet(ies)
Specifically Toddler Attachment Parenting anxiety
Addition of a sibling anxiety
Work-related anxiet(ies)
Not having done much work these last few weeks related anxiet(ies)

Knowing it's the thing we haven't worried about that will get us anxiety

Realizing I will never sleep for a full night again anxiety
(and knowing that I'm missing my chance as we speak by staying up anxious anxiety)

But you probably didn't come here for that, did you?
I wish I had something great to post, but this is day 7 of a pretty bad migraine, so I can barely read.
But - At preschool yesterday, kids got to talking about twins. Ds said, "I'm getting a twin soon!" so they talked about what it means to be/have a twin. One child offered "Twins look alike." Ds's teacher asked if he and I. looked alike. "Of course not," he said. "She's a girl."

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Date Night

Sweet friends watched ds so dh and I could enjoy a quiet dinner out before the week before he travels. All we could talk about was our children! And then we stopped at a children's store and bought sunglasses for our kids . . . We are hopeless.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Easy-ish Injera

With our update, we received a little bit of information about I.'s favorite foods. She likes bread and cookies best, so she'll fit in quite well here!
She also likes orange, mango and papaya juice, and, like many of the children, Injera and W'ot. The latter is a lentil stew, and I won't share the recipe here - it has about twenty million ingredients, even after the spiced clarified butter, and was way too complicated for picky preschooler tastebuds!
So that won't suit Five-Ingredient Friday.
Neither will the traditional recipe for Injera, with teff flour, but this alternative is the one we tried last week:
  • 4 c Self-rising flour
  • 1 c Whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 2 c Club soda
  • Combine flours and baking powder in a bowl. Add club soda plus about 4 cups water. This part was fun for my preschooler, who had never heard of such a thing as making dinner with soda.

    Mix into a smooth, fairly thin batter. Heat a large, non-stick skillet. When the skillet is heated, pour a scoop of batter quickly onto the pan - be sure to cover the bottom of the pan.

    When the moisture has evaporated and small holes appear on the surface - as with pancakes - remove the injera.

    Wiping the pan with a paper towel dipped in oil between each prevents sticking and excessive browning - but don't get burned!

    Serve w'ot and cottage cheese on injera, if desired - no forks needed.

    The first three I made were very ugly, but the others looked better and tasted great. So don't give up hope after initial failed efforts.

    Thursday, June 01, 2006

    It might not have been this way

    When I became the parent to a very healthy, tiny little boy after preterm labor and his near-loss during delivery, I wondered if that feeling that it might have turned out otherwise would ever leave me. It didn't, really. I often look at him and have the awareness that there was the very real possibility that it might not have been this way. But that feeling isn't so painful, or quite so fresh for me anymore.
    But today I learned that families whose dossiers were accepted relatively close to ours will not make the June 15th cut-off. They won't receive referrals before the Ethiopian courts close for the rainy season. I am brokenhearted for them, though I know that this still means a much shorter wait than the families with daughters in China.
    I am also having that familiar real feeling of potential loss: If our documents, already so late, had been just a little later. If we hadn't been open to a toddler. If she hadn't arrived in the care center just when . . . I might not be waiting 16 days for my beautiful, playful, running!, loving to be cuddled daughter. I might just be waiting. I feel very fortunate, but also very sad: that it might not have been this way is so painfully real.
    I wonder if it is always that way with adoption.

    (The flipside of this is, of course, that had things been ever so slightly different, my 16 month old might have become Miss Jolie-Pitt instead of la petite Bloom. I wonder if my daughter will find that "might have been" painful or amusing. Perhaps a little of both, as all those viable alternatives - and some imagined ones - surely register as losses at some stages).