Sunday, July 30, 2006

On Display

Lots of people at the beach stare at us. I usually yell "Stay by Momma," or "DS, come over here by Momma and your SISTER" extra loud and that ends it.
Today, a man kept staring at me and Miss I. perched on my hip. But then I realized that Miss. I. was pulling my bathing suit top sideways, and I thought maybe it isn't always about race.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Picture Picture

We've been asked, in comments and in email, how our family pictures went. We had a lot of fun, and the pictures are great. Miss I. would not pose by herself, so we ended up taking one of momma and Miss I and one of Daddy and ds. Those are all of our favorites - and I rarely like pictures of myself, but she makes any picture a beauty.
Then we tried again for an individual shot. She would run in a circle, dh and I would each grab an arm, lift her up (making her smile and giggle) and the photographer would shoot just as her feet touched down. The result is a darling picture, just our arms and a beaming Miss I, with her dress flipped up (But Momma you can see her panties -ds).
But Daddy's nightmare discovery: Miss I does indeed look like a young Jada Pinkett Smith, and we are in trouble.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Monster House - some spoilers

It isn't as if they'd named it Happy House, so no false advertisement there.

Monster House is, as ds describes it, funny, scary, weird and sad. It's the last that is most surprising, and that has ds most thrown. (Don't read if you don't want to know too much, and please do not use this review alone to make a family decision. It is very wise for a parent to pre-screen this film).

Dh warned me about the following issues, but encouraged us to go anyway, so I'm passing along the same warnings, with maybe a little more information than he gave me (it was midnight, afterall, when we discussed it):

The story involves two neighborhood boys (later joined by streetwise and private academy educated Jenny): DJ (intense and thin, with pixie-features reminiscent of James of the Giant Peach) and Chowder (round and oafish) who may have accidentally caused someone's death (Chowder: "they call it manslaughter if it's an accident."). The house across the street may or may not be haunting them (in a startling dream image, reaching its shadow hand across the street and into DJ's room as he sleeps), and may or may not murder neighborhood children on Halloween, depending on the success of DJ, Chowder and Jenny's intervention and the willingness of the adult world to cooperate with these barely pre-pubescent three (when the babysitter, disbelieving the trio, DJ his real problem, he suggests "Puberty," and the tension between the two boys is driven by their acceptance or rejection of their impending young manhood) The man across the street (voiced by Steve Buscemi) may have killed his wife, may still have her body in the basement.

I can't give any more of that away.

But I will give you this:

Seemingly well-meaning but clearly inept and disconnected parents (the father backs into his son's best friend in the driveway, though the blame falls to the child) leave their son with a manipulative babysitter (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who transforms herself from Elizabeth to "Z" and brings her stoner boyfriend (Jason Lee) to the house, drunk and drinking. She tosses him out after "unwelcomed advances" (this is putting it mildly), only to search for him later.

(Chowder's dad apparently doesn't notice when he slips out of the house and remains out all night - though he is mad when he calls the next day.)

The representation of African Americans is astoundingly poor. In a seemingly all-white community, the black rookie cop (voiced by Nick Cannon) appears to have been trained more by Police Academy than by the police academy. He may be the only adult to consider the possibility that the children are telling the truth, but this is only because he is seemingly forever a man-boy, with everything that connotes, all of the American history that that reveals or hides.

The representation of obesity and difference is ambivalent: a principal figure is both adored and malevolent.

The ending is sad and poignant, perhaps too much so for a young audience. While possibly cathartic, it may also be confusing. My son followed the film up with questions about love, loss and the afterlife, and felt that all the calamity of the film resulted from the old man's inability (forty years prior) to accept loss and love again. Ds gave this example: "When we are older, and you die, I will just have to let you go and remember that there are more people to love. And when I die, those people will have to . . .".

The children's heroism is the saving grace of the film, and the end really is redemptive (many families left after thirty minutes, stuck forever, I'm sure, with the image of the haunting house reaching for that poor boy) though their heroism involves their (albeit hesitant) use of explosives and a construction vehicle parked with keys in the ignition (a fact we discover early in the film).

In the end, the film is barely this side of Goonies in terms of the fear factor. In positive ways, too, the comparison is apt, given their concerns with puberty, and their affable boy-heroes (think Chunk/Chowder).

Friday, July 21, 2006

Many Things

I don't have enough time to organize this post, but here's what's going on at Chez Bloom:
Miss I. slept through the night last night, awoke with the sunniest disposition, and was a joy for most of the day. She also napped for two hours, which gave me

Playtime with ds. We played the March of the Penguins-inspired board game he invented himself months ago. Journey to the ocean and back. Tomorrow we are going on a date - alone - to see Monster House. Reviews are great, though anyone with a child under five considers it frightening. Those with kids over five said the ending is satisfying and resolves those fears it generated. Words like archetypes and catharsis have been used

so I sent dh to the movies by himself tonight to preview it. He hated to sacrifice our time together, since it takes a lot of work to make that time (I work a ft job in pt hours - so guess which hours I try to cram it into?) but I really think he needed a date with himself, too. That fact is easy to overlook when I've been home all day with the kids and am ready to hand at least one over when he gets home. I should be using this time productively, to buy us another evening later

but I'm blogging and ruminating and thinking less seriously about what we will wear for family pictures tomorrow. In eighth grade we "pictured" our future lives in a collage. Mine included a career as writer and artist, a gazebo, a springer spaniel, and a curly-haired daughter (why I would ever have imagined that, considering my straight hair, I don't know) and son in a sailor suit. Dh always insisted "No sailor suits," long before the arrival of our actual children. But my mom got us great outfits for ds and I., navy and white stripes, and I'm struck by the similarity of my life to that picture - yes, of course, and more importantly, by the wonderful differences I could never have anticipated at 13. (Miss I.'s alone picture will be in a Chanel-inspired pink dress with black and white accents.)

and finally, in the most personally revealing post I've ever written (don't read if easily disgusted): I have ring worm on my arm and I can't get it off. I contracted it from my daughter's scalp. After failed attempts at topical treatment, we are both on oral medications for a long time.

And now I understand those tantrums: the humidity makes it a thousand times itchier. You know how when you have a blister you can think of nothing but your foot? This is worse. It makes you hateful, makes you plan dramatic ways of removing it or removing the arm.
The good news is, the oral meds have 100% cure rate - just doesn't say after how long.
Hope it doesn't show up in the family picture.
Because I have to tell you, that wasn't in my collage.

Five Ingredients Friday - by ds

Ants on a log used to be made with celery, peanut butter and raisins (that's why it was a healthy snack). But lots of kids have peanut allergies. So at Science Camp (Creepy Crawly Week), ants on a log were made this way:

Scooby Doo Graham Crackers

Take one scooby doo graham, spray whip cream on top, and put three raisins in a row on top.
For the yummiest treat, just spray the whip cream on the plate and eat it with your fingers.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Another Shutter Bug in the Making

Ds asked again for a digital camera of his own.
Of course I am thrilled by this, for while photographer was among his career choices last year, this year has been dominated by his plans to become an astronaut-vet (though he cried when he found out how many years of school that would take).
So the plan is to make his own digital camera the marble jar prize, and I'm online shopping for a product that meets his and my requirements. He wants it to shoot fast, have big buttons, and not be too easy to accidentally delete his pictures. I want it to be easy enough to use that he's encouraged, but not so easy that he'll grow out of it.
Our plan is to shoot photos together, and then compare the world from his perspective and mine.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Is This Thing On?!

I'm not ready to comment just yet, but I do think it's worth reading the transcript with commentary by the UK paper the Independent here.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Now for something completely different

I'm working on a post about our new notariety, but in the meantime:
An aa woman in her late twenties, early thirties approached me at the grocery store and asked, pointing to babe in hip carrier, "Where did you get that?"
Stunned silence from me.
She continued. "I love it. My daughter's about the same size. Does it take the pressure of your back?"
"Oh, the hip carrier!" Tremendous relief and embarrasment. "Yes we love it. I think it's from Babies r Us online."
"Well, it looks like it'd be great." Warm smile.

In Shifts

Or, in which I use language that will make my mother blush.

A couple of years ago, I came across an advertisement for a job. I might have considered it, but it said: "Must like shit work."
And I don't so much, so I sent the ad to Leno instead.

When our first blossom was tiny, as you know, dh and I took shifts during the night. This was the only way for either of us to get any sleep -ds's reflux and vomitting were that bad. Now there's the kangaroo sleeper, but that was then.

DH and I had always had different sleeping patterns, so we were able to come to a somewhat agreeable arrangement. Shifts were not entirely equal, as I nursed each time (ds rejected the bottle with pumped milk). But on his shift, dh burped, changed and cuddled and held our baby while I slept in peace.

We're back to sleeping in pieces. In theory, that should help us all attach, but here's the problem with our current shifts: Our baby is an active toddler, who wakes up one hour after I gp to sleep and either screams for a long time or believes it's playtime - most recently the latter occurs, for three hours. And so my shift has become a battle of wills. I refuse to have a midnight playdate, though I'm happy to walk, bounce, rock, snuggle. And this does not make her happy,

Dh's shift begins at 5am, when Miss I awakes happily, smiles and says "Up-pah, Dadda" and then "bah." So she drinks her bah, snuggles against his chest, watches a bit of Sesame Street, and falls asleep for another hour.

Once we tried to switch shifts. But I am a light sleeper, and I'm now prepared to wake up at first fussing - this is how to avoid the wrath. So I took my "shift" and still took his, only that day she awoke at 4am. I did what anyone would do - I cried.

I learned several things:
I sleep too lightly
I have terrible luck
I still do not like shi(f)t work, though I do love to cuddle, and bounce and play - at the right times (not night times).

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Frantic Search Turned Up Emergency Cat Food

That is all.

Sad but true . . .

Newly matched (hooray!!!!) hopeful amomma of Of Hope and Hormones wonders how her fur babies will fare after the baby's arrival. Here's how one has done in our household:
When ds arrived, I felt sorry for the Cat, who was treated to salmon to make up for lack of affection.
Tonight, she is being not-so-treated to fish sticks. Because while I realized we were out of catfood after breakfast, I couldn't keep that in my head long enough to do anything about it.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Two Things

Dear I.,
Apart from all the ways I'm trying really hard to be a good Momma to you (even when it feels impossible for me to do) I am working extra hard at two seemingly inconsequential things. These things seem to make the least sense to you, with the exception of my cutting off the Nilla Wafers, so I thought I'd explain them now (and again when you are really listening):
1. I do not want to raise you to be an insomniac like your momma. It may already be too late for Thing One, who doesn't fall asleep easily and sleeps lightly (your screaming is not helping). Please, help me help you develop healthy sleep habits now! Or someday you'll be thirty years old and lying wide awake while your kids sleep just because you know they're about to wake up and you'd rather not be woken (after all, they have been waking you up once an hour, so you're in the habit . . .) Learn from Daddy, who can fall asleep in an instant to capitalize on rare quiet. Or from our friends children, who fall asleep at 8 and know not to get out of bed until 7 am (at 2. years old).
2. I refuse to raise you to be "the tender-headed daughter of a white woman," something I have been warned against and can't get out of my own head. So I'm taking longer than I need to in order to condition your hair and scalp. You might hate it, but you have to learn to sit still-ish now. One grandma and grandpa told your Daddy that they stay up all night to do their grandaughter's hair while she sleeps. Which leads me back to point one, and my exhaustion. Though hey, I'm already up, so . . .
I love you. Now go to sleep - after I condition your scalp.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

La Famiglia

I missed Five Ingredients Friday again.
Actually, I missed Friday. I have no idea where it went.
As I looked through my recipes at 5 to midnight (I was up, so why not), I was reminded of all the things I'll never have the time or free hands to cook again. This includes anything from vegetable fajitas with papaya salsa to anything in the Death By Chocolate cookbook. A long time ago I had hoped to go to culinary school. Now the closest I get is Hell's Kitchen, and we eat out of cans, boxes and yogurt containers.


But the family reunion:
We took ds and Miss I to the dh's family reunion today - a very large annual gathering of very Italian Americans. (Does it count as a reunion if it happens every year?)

Last year we thought we were attending our last, and today we were pleasantly surprised.

Years ago when I was first dating dh, the reunion's long-running rituals were still in place: the men of the oldest generation in attendance (excepting of course, the non-Italian men who had married into the family), would gather at tables while the women prepared dinner, the younger men played bocce, and the children played. Anyone who wasn't a bit Italian felt a bit out of place, no matter how welcome, but it was always fun and strange and anachronistic, and the food was wonderful (this is not a stereotype, people).

Last year, however, we were waiting for our second child (whom we were still expecting through a transracial domestic adoption) and while we (dh and I) had never placed much importance on "blood ties" (and to be honest, we went to the reunions nearly annually more out of my curiosity than dh's interest) we were more than usually struck by how strange it was that a little bit of shared dna rated an invitation to a picnic. Family, to our minds, was so much a matter of choice. So we could just as happily have gone to that family picnic as to the aa family birthday celebration at the shelter beside. We teased that the next year, we'd be just as welcome there and would likely have more fun.

This year, though, we realized that while family is indeed a matter of choice, mil and fil chose this family every year. Plus I'm still pretty curious.

The new joke was that Miss I. would not be welcome given Ethiopia's on-going celebration of their defeat of occupying Italians (and the Ethiopians have plenty to celebrate - while once occupied, Ethiopia managed never to be controlled by Western imperialists). But we were proud of Miss I. She didn't mention the Ethiopian/Italian conflict, Mussolini or Haile Silassie once. Instead she smiled at everyone from the safety of the hip carrier and later as she tried to join the still exclusively (now older) men's bocce game.

And we were proud of them.

Certainly things have changed now that a new generation is the oldest (ggma is the only one of hers still healthy enough to attend). But we weren't sure how they would take to the newest Bloom or the idea of adoption at all (we are not close enough for them to have known of our plans in advance, and except for this one skippable day per year it never really would have mattered).

We arrived late, and mil had gone armed with pictures, so most everyone had had time to process. Still we heard nothing but praise for her beautiful dimples, hearty congratulations to her grandparents, and "She has our curly hair," in contradistinction to myself and ds, as we have the straightest, blondest hair of anyone "in" the family. No one was unenthusiastic, and no one was over-enthusiastic (which to be honest sometimes feels worse). Strangely, it seemed as though they found us very normal.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Better sleeping through furniture shopping?

Last night there wasn't any room in my bed for my head. I was so tired, I didn't notice, and slept with my head hanging off the side.
Since it doesn't look like our children will stay in their own beds any time soon, we're shopping for a bigger bed. If there's any chance it'll help me sleep, I'm sold.
(Saturday update: We bought it today and tonight Miss I fell asleep in her own room rather than the cosleeper. sigh).

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Miss Independence Day

We didn't really celebrate Independence Day (though we had a lovely day with my parents): This year July 4 is squished between work days. Ds has an ear infection. And no one in our house slept last night (ds's ear infection awoke him, Miss I. went ballistic when he tried to join us in bed, dh tried to rock I. back to sleep while I lay down with ds, only to be shoved out of bed and on to the floor and then to be asked sadly, "Momma, where did you go?!") And it's rainy here, as it is in 43 other states. So no celebration.

But today we didn't-celebrate with our newest family member (who was, despite our lack of festivity, decked out in star spangled pants). She's already become American in some not-so-good ways: "No." "Mine." Picky eating and refusing to eat from the spoon I've loaded with yogurt and choosing instead to dump it because hey, she can. Shock at Toys R Us (her huge non-blinking eyes and head all a-swivel cracked us up) quickly dissolved into a love of shiny plastic crap with noise and lights.

But it really struck us all day that she is here, with us, now, in America! and that while it only seems to my sleepless brain that I have been both snuggling this little girl and exhausted forever, it was only a little over two weeks ago that she got off a plane, got in line for Immigration and Naturalization with a sealed brown envelope from the US Embassy in Addis, and was on the road to becoming a US Citizen. And that struck us as insanely weird and funny and also wonderful.

Happy first Independence Day, Miss I! I promise we'll see fireworks next year.

Coming soon - a rehashing of the Italian/Ethiopian conflict in honor of and preparation for an upcoming family reunion. Now there's some fireworks.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

A three word sentence in English

Dh tells me I. was speaking much more English in Ethiopia, including "thank you." I'm doubtful, as I've heard a lot of what might be Kembata, some Amharic, about ten English words and lots of babble. But today ds was sitting on my lap and I. said, "Up-pah . . . My . . . Momma." with great effort. The effort was rewarded with lots of giggles and ds sliding over to make room for I. to sit too.