Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Good for a laugh

I saw this on the counter of our local bakery this morning.

Ups and Downs

These days I'm striving for equanimity, but sometimes I'm struck by the amazing ups and downs all in a single day of parenting. There are the times when I feel a rush of pride and can't stop smiling like today when Ember greeted everyone at the pool with a wave or when she claps her hands together all tumbly and awkward when she's excited. It's so cute!

And then there are moments like today when the lifeguard insisted Beck get out of the leisure pool to publicly humiliate him for accidentally tossing a rubber toy that bonked his cousin on the head while they were playing together. This guy was so obnoxious and disrespectful. Beck is painfully careful about not breaking - or even bending any rules. And to be yelled at in such a way was terrifying for him. I watched his lip start to tremble and the tears began to fill up his goggles. It broke my heart to see him so ashamed and scared. So I just pulled him close and gave him a big hug.

And then a few hours later when I'm trying to get dinner together and the boys are squabbling and Ember is crying, I'm about ready to pull my hair out. And even later after baths and everyone is in jammies and snuggled up to me while we read stories together I feel warm and relaxed and so happy that this is me and my life.

I guess I have a long way to go before equanimity.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ghosts in the Bushes

A Great Disappointment

Remember those chocolate chip cookies I wrote about a few weeks ago? The "perfection" recipe that required both cake flour and bread flour and that needed to rest for a few days in the fridge before baking? Well, we made them and I was completely underwhelmed. Even just out of the oven they were flatter than I was hoping and after 24 hours they were hard enough to hurt your jaws while chewing. What's up with that?

A perfect chocolate chip cookie in my book is soft and generous with a crisp outer crust. The texture should be almost cakey,not doughy, not greasy or flat or hard. My hunt for the perfect recipe goes on.

Friday, October 24, 2008

All done

So, we did it! This afternoon we went to court for the finalization of Ember's adoption. It took about 2 minutes in front of the judge and then it was done. She's ours and we're hers forever.

While we were there I had lots of little flashes on all the steps that brought us to this point. Our initial decision to adopt, all the paperwork and trips over the mountains to get fingerprinted, waiting for our referral and following all the adoption blogs to see what we could expect, seeing Ember's face on the computer screen that day last May when we finally got the call, planning our trip to Ethiopia and then being there, holding Ember in our arms at last.

Oh, it feels so good to be at this point and to know that we have a beautiful little daughter sleeping right now in her crib with her pink blankie pulled lightly over her face the way she likes it. We'll be here to see her grow up and meet the world with that big smile of hers. We'll be here for her forever. And it feels so good to say that.

Witch Hazel

In our front yard.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ember's Name

On Friday we have our court appointment to finalize Ember's adoption. And yesterday our attorney's assistant called us to confirm and then spent the rest of the call going over Ember's name. I carefully spelled each one (there are 4, you know!)and the call ended.

It's sort of funny how prepared we were with her name before we went to Ethiopia. We called her Ember, but it wasn't used on any of her official paperwork or traveling visa or passport. They used her given name and then Chris's whole name. That's just how it's done. It was a little disappointing, especially since naming your child is so personal and is exclusively the parents' right.

So now on Friday she becomes legally part of our family and finally, finally she'll have the name we chose for her on her new birth certificate and Decree of Adoption. I'm excited and relieved to be on the final step of our adoption journey. And I can't wait to see her new name, the name we gave her, on all those official papers!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Dilemma

So this is it: the boys loved swimming lessons last session. Now we're into the second week of this session and Yogi won't get into the water - at least not until most of the lesson is over each time.On the first day of this session when his new instructor introduced herself to the group, he just dropped his head into his hands and wept. I think his new instructor is wonderful and he's had the class before so he knows what to expect. Beck isn't in his class, but is just a few feet away in the other group.

So, what do I do? Force him to continue even though he keeps climbing out with a grumpy look on his face and sits on the edge? If I do take him out am I teaching him that it's ok to quit whenever he wants and for no reason? Should I wait and let him take lessons when he's older? Am I wasting money since he won't swim? These are the situations that I find most challenging in parenting.

It's sort of happening in preschool too. The last few weeks Yogi cries when I drop him off. And yesterday he announced that he's quitting preschool. Today when I dropped him off, he looked at me and said, "You know, Mama, I told you I quit! I told you yesterday I QUIT preschool!" I'm not as confused about what to do in this situation since I need both boys to be there so I can attend infant preschool with Ember. But still, it sort of pains me since I only put the boys in this preschool to have fun. They're supposed to be having fun!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Oh, and this day was perfect. I walked outside early in the morning, the sky still fuzzy and gray. It was windy, but remarkably warm - my favorite fall weather. I pretty much decided right then that the boys would be skipping preschool. Instead, we would drive east towards the foothills of the Cascades to pick our own pumpkins at the Fall City Farm. Uncle was visiting and had made the suggestion early in his visit.

It was a gorgeous day. You know the kind - the hills dotted with bright splashes of fall color, sun shining in a clean blue sky, clouds riding by in their own time. The kids were delighted with everything. We wandered around the farm, found our pumpkins (enormous, by the way!), went out to lunch, admired the scenery and the country drive, saw the Snoqualmie Falls . It felt so good to get away, to be surrounded by so much beauty, and to see our kids so full of wonder, so happy! I needed this day.

Deep Breaths

I've been a little preoccupied lately with visiting relatives and trying to learn how to relax. Obviously, I have no natural talent in this area so I have to learn the hard way starting with 15 minutes of sitting meditation every morning. Eventually I'm supposed to work up to 45 minutes, but after starting with 5 I'm feeling pretty good just getting to 15. My zafu and zabuton are set up in the furnace room downstairs where I can close the doors and be sure that nobody needs to come in. Also, because of the furnace it's quite warm in there which is especially nice in the morning. The other part of my regimen is a daily session of progressive relaxation. It's only been a week, but I am feeling better - muscles more relaxed, heart slowing down and flipping out less. Feeling happier, I think. Deep breaths, deep breaths.

Three kids in a tub...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


There's a real estate salesman who works a lot in our neighborhood who leaves a pumpkin at our door each year with his card stapled to it. The first year we lived here some teenagers used our pumpkin to bash in the back of our car so now I always bring it right in.

This year the boys took one look at it and started asking if we could make a jack-o-lantern. So yesterday, Beck drew a picture of how he wanted it to look, I opened it up, the boys cleaned it out, and I carved it. Beck called it a "ghost pumpkin". The final result does look pretty much exactly like the picture he drew.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bits and Pieces

Here I am. It's 9pm and I just got back from the second session of a parenting class I'm taking. We talked a lot about praise and our "praise junkie society". We're supposed to encourage instead. Take the judgment out of it -- so instead of saying "Good job!" or "I like that!" you should say, "You did it!" or "I sure appreciate your help!" I'm not so convinced that this will make a significant difference in their lives - I mean, will it really effect their self esteem or confidence? But I'll admit that even this one session made me wake up to all the "good jobs" I rattle off all the time.

What else? Ember: she's trying to crawl! Even in the last few days she's made progress. She is constantly turning from a sitting position to getting on her tummy and today she's started being able to support herself on two hands and one knee instead of flattening instantly onto her stomach. She's also recently started having some stranger anxiety which is a big change for her.

And the boys: the first swimming session is over and Beck was promoted to Seahorse. Yogi will do Tadpoles again, but he's putting his face in now. Today is the first class in our new session.

Photos from the weekend:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The City of Ember

This was one of my favorite children's novels and it's opening tomorrow in theaters. If you haven't read it you must - and do it before you see it on the big screen!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Finally, almost three months since we returned from Ethiopia, I've unpacked the last suitcase. It was mostly empty except for the traditional clothes we received from our agency and the shawls we purchased there ourselves. I carefully folded each beautifully woven piece and all the shawls or netela and gabi and zipped them into a small plastic garment bag.

And I have to say, I felt a little wistful to see those pretty textiles packed away. I love the simple gauzy white cloth with the flash of bright color on the bottom. I just don't know when I would wear one. And now that they're put away it feels even more like our trip is fading into the past. We do have a few things around the house: some baskets, a necklace I bought in Aksum, a handful of beautiful ancient beads, but the shawls and their everyday beauty are quintessential Ethiopia.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Homeschool ?

Tired. Muscle tension. That pretty much covers it for now.

Actually, I did have an interesting experience visiting the Homeschool Resource Center in a neighboring school district. We are considering this as a possibility for our kids, but I'm just exploring our options at this point. As expected, I noticed a few Jesus Now! bumper stickers in the parking lot, some students reading bibles in the library - as well as several girls in burqas and lots of teenagers that didn't look too interested in academics. Hmmm, not sure how well we'd fit in there, but the cool thing about this "school" is that you never have to take any classes on the campus anyway. You do need to have a learning plan and meet with a teacher once every three months, but that's about it. You also get a budget of $500 to spend on the curriculum you use or for other classes or field trips. Could be good, but I want to visit our neighborhood elementary before I make any decisions.

Another day in the park

the latest obsession: Star Wars

Monday, October 6, 2008

Blah, blah, blah...

Well, just when I thought I wasn't doing very well, things took a turn here for the worse. On Thursday night I got a serious episode of sciatica so that on Friday I couldn't walk. I'm not kidding. I could barely move my left leg without piercing pain shooting through my body.

And on top of that Ember started throwing up. She had stopped eating on Thursday so I knew something wasn't right, but although she didn't seem like her cheerful self on Friday, she was still hungry. I fed her a bottle which she vomited onto our couch about a minute later which required a trip to the dry cleaners.

And then during the night on Friday, Yogi started crying and whining and saying that he couldn't sleep. This went on for hours - he tried in our bed, we tried sleeping with him in his bed, nothing worked. Then it occurred to me that it must be an ear infection. On Sunday morning we took him in and the doctor confirmed it. But before we could even get his first dose of medicine, he started throwing up and shaking with fever. That went on for the rest of the day.

But, in spite of all this a few miracles did occur: I needed a new pair of jeans and the first pair that I tried on in the first store I went to fit perfectly. How often does that happen? And then we found an ad on Craig's list for a babysitter looking for work and we interviewed her and hired her for 9 hours a week and she's wonderful! And I've been doing my exercises for sciatica and it's working and I can walk again. And today, nobody is throwing up. See? Miracles!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Portrait of Ember

Ember was a little fussy a few nights ago so Beck said he was going to draw a picture to make her happy. And then he drew this which he explained is a picture of Ember! What makes it extra special is that this is the first time we've ever seen him draw a person at all -- unfortunately, he did it on our white board so all we could do is photograph it. He nailed the hair!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


1. Court date to finalize Ember's adoption: October 24th!
2. Baby sweater: almost finished with front panel
3. Interviewing a babysitter tonight to come and help on a regular basis. Keeping my fingers crossed that she's a good fit for us!


I'm home again after a few days of escape at the cabin. Escape from the housework schedule (it's working, but I'm still sick of doing it all), escape from rushing out of the house to get to the next activity, escape from my kitchen and laundry and all the other stuff that seems to be wearing me down lately. I'm ashamed to admit it since I know how much I have to be happy about, but I'm feeling a little down lately. Ok, a lot down. Mostly it's the pain in my upper back from the muscle tension. It's constant now. ALL THE TIME PAIN. My doctor did prescribe a muscle relaxant which does help, but it also makes you sleepy and slushy and a little dull and unmotivated (thus the lack of posts.)

In the past what has helped me the most is yoga and meditation, but the results aren't immediate and it requires regular practice over many months. I have started up again using Jon Kabat-Zinn's mindfulness-based stress reduction program which is the class I took and that helped me immensely after Yogi was born. I was actually pain free for over a year. It's good stuff. No "slushy brain" side effects either.