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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sunny on Prom

Prom was different than I expected, 'cause it kinda turned out to be hot and sweaty.  But getting ready was the best part.  Getting your hair done and getting your nails done and hangin' with your girlfriends!  I thought my dress was the bomb.  I got down.  Get down get down.  You feelin' me?  My ring was poppin'!  It really showed off my flavor.    My advice for my sister when she goes to prom, go with a guy friend (rather than a boyfriend) or even go with a group so you can dance with everybody.  You don't have to go with someone who's cool  You'll have fun that way.  

I agree... I think... her ring was "poppin'."  I'm not sure what that actually means, but I think it's good.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A search? Would appreciate input...

My head is swirly...

Maybe it's the overexposure to all these therapy sessions, or the school year winding down, or my many many appointments as I get T&J evaluated for head-start preschool next year...  (You mean they would go to school on a SCHOOL BUS?  Get the Kleenex ready!)

But here is what is consuming my thoughts lately.  Birth parents...
Heavy hu?
Papa himself was adopted as a wee baby.  And I don't know how God does it, but God found Papa's mama and papa and family, and through Him, 11-day-old Papa was placed in Granna's arms.  Not a child of her womb, but HER child all the same.  God's handiwork is miraculous.
And now we are into the second generation of adoption, and God has placed T&J with us.

Tess and Jujube were both abandoned in the hospital just after birth.  Their mothers gave birth and left their babies behind.  These two woman provided information about themselves, like their name, address, age, (one was a young woman and the other an older mom with several other children) and marital status.  But the police investigation to locate these woman stated that this information is at least partially false.  We don't know which parts were false.  The information is just incorrect enough to not be able to find these women.  This is not an unusual way for a woman to give up her child for adoption in VietNam.  Sadly, it's common. And my thoughts frequently turn to the two woman that gave this precious gift to us.  We'll NEVER know the circumstances that brought these two women to make the agonizing decision to leave their children.  But I KNOW with 100% certainly that these two women made of this decsion out of LOVE.  Any woman that has birthed or held her child and felt that child grow within her womb knows what I am saying.  Even under the most adverse circumstances, we are mothers.

And they are T&J's birthmothers.  I wonder if they wonder...
I wonder if T&J will have questions... that I certainly can not answer.  They will.

And I wonder about my responsibility to T&J to teach them who they are.

So now we consider embarking upon a search to find their birth mothers.  Should we?  Yes?  No?  Maybe?  Under certain parameters?  Thoughts?  (Chris?  Michelle?  You're so full of wisdom.)  I almost feel it a duty to do all we can on T&J's behalf just in case they wonder.  But Papa seems to have a different perspective.  He's not against a search for their birth mothers.  But he sees no urgency.  Papa contacted his birth mother just after Sunny was born.  He said his choice to do so had so much to do with being a father himself and the idea that a birth parent just wouldn't know how that child is.  I will not share his personal details, but this was an encounter that left him a bit empty and ever so grateful of God's plan for him.  But I think this information, ANY information that we can give T&J about who they are and where they come from is good.  What they do with it, is their choice.  And now that I just laid that down in print, I realize that I heard almost those same words from Granna, spoken to Papa, 15 years ago.  Papa chose to make contact with his birth mother.  His choice.  She only gave him the information.  I think Tess and Jujube deserve the same?  Are there exceptions to the rule?

I would love some discussion from the adoption mamas and just mamas in general.  As you've probably noticed, I'm a bit ambivalent.

PS-My photography protege, Livy, is learning to focus with a short DOF!  Good girl, Livy!  Not sure I like me and all my flaws, but your skills behind the camera are getting better every day!  That's MY girl!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Photo Gallery--Roadside Blossoms

On the way to Patch and Livy's piano recital, I screeched the car to the side of the road and made them get out for this picture.  The desert is in full bloom and flowers are bursting in every patch of soil.  30 seconds later we were driving away.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

National Forrest Service

For Granna (and Elaine too)
Tell me if you'd like any of these emailed to you, and I'll send them your way so you can print them (without the watermark, of course)
Oh my goodness!  Our nephew, Forrest!  How delicious is he!!!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

"Mama, pleeeeease take my picture!""

I remember being 13.  I remember being awkward and unsure.  I remember feeling self conscience and sure that I didn't fit in anywhere.

Livy, now 13, seems to exude a confidence that I'm sure I didn't have at 13.  Oh, if I could bottle all that confidence up and spoon feed it to her when need be.  What a wonderful time in life with so many possibilities and the world unfolding at her fingertips.

So I accommodated her request, of course.

There is an open lot just a couple house down from our home.  Complete with a dilapidated barn reminding us that not so long ago, this land of our neighborhood was not city life as we now know it.  Couple it with sweet light at dusk and it's a place I had been wanting to take pictures.

A prop, like her baby sister always helps too.  
So sweet that Tess just leaned up against that wall just like her big sister.  It's a wonderful role model she has there.   Keep following in those footsteps, Tess!

These two chairs were have just been sitting there in this field.  Not sure why 'cause in the 11 years we have lived here, I've never even seen anyone in this open lot before.  But I LOVE the color and how they blend in so seamlessly with the grasses.
This last picture is by far my favorite of the day.  Something about the glow off the bubbles and the sweet light that hits her face.  I just want her to never grow up even one more day.
Can't always get what we want!
Another day at dusk and another ordinary miracle to cherish.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Arrow of Light goes dark

Our man cub has crossed over the bridge and received the arrow of light!

If you are the proud parent of a boy scout, then you know this is boy scout code, {my boy is no longer a cub scout, but officially a boy scout now} and he can officially presume the responsibility of helping old ladies cross the street.  The Arrow of Light is the highest honor awarded in cub scouts and the only recognition cub scout award that a boy scout can wear on his uniform!  5 years in the making!

And yet this man cub of ours is really just a boy who still does lots of boy things... like make a crazy faces.

In the course of events, the boys have to stand for a long period of time... about 30 minutes.  There is smoke, and there is fire.  The sun sets and light turns to dusk turns to evening.  The Indians pass on their wisdom.  It's all quite profound.  And it's gonna get even more profound in a minute...

Look carefully at that picture above.  That's Patch with the navy blue pants and the incredibly cute round bum!  (sorry, I couldn't resist!)  Do his knees look locked to you?  They didn't to me, or I would have told him to bend them a bit.  Really, I would have!

He's still standing below.

So it gets darker.  The boys are still standing there soaking in all the wisdom.
What I didn't know is Patch's ears started to ring, and it wasn't from all that wisdom he was listening too.
Then sweating profusely, and eventually his vision went grey... then to black.
It happened.
Why does it always come when you're not expecting it?
What you don't see it Patch dropping to the ground.  Amazingly he missed the fire.  The whole profound ceremony came to a screeching halt.  Thankfully, Patch's scout leader is an ER nurse.

After 20 minutes that Patch has no memory of, he did the rest of the ceremony sitting in a chair.  Here, Papa is helping Patch stand to shake the Chief's hand while his leader/nurse is kneeling next to his chair.

And notice how close Patch's Den Leader is standing to him, water at the ready... just in case.

All's well in the end.  Now all cub scouts that are almost boy scouts know to bend their knees a bit when standing for long periods of time.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Crazy 8 Highlights

  • Just to start your Monday off with a giggle!  My Jujube is tooooo cute!  
  • I was pretty sure I heard him wrong, so I asked him to repeat himself.  Cause after all, it was 6:43 in the morning, and sometimes my ears don't work that well at that time of day. But I did hear him correctly.  "Mom, you should buy more sunflower seeds.  They make your farts smell like ketchup."  I looked for the smirk or cheesy grin to give away that he was joking.  But no!  He was so serious and said it all with a straight face and everything!  Then he walked out of the room.   There's always someone to make you smile in a large family!
  • On top of my 5 therapy sessions for T&J a week, Jujube has now qualified for a phonetics program.  That's good.  But it's 4 days a week.  5+4= 9 therapy sessions a week!  That's bad.  It is suppose to help him learn to articulate.    And that's good.  Unlike my other therapy sessions, they do not come to my home though, and I have to drive there.  That's bad.  The program is free courtesy to the WONDERFUL AZ Early Intervention program and the tax payers of our state.  So that's good.  The drive is at least 30 minutes each way in rush hour traffic.  That's bad.  After only one and a half weeks, I can already see his speech improving.  That's good.  Each session lasts only 30 minutes, and for a 1 hour commute, it seems silly and horribly time consuming.  That's bad.  I love being Jujube's mama, and doing what needs to be done, it's in my job description.  That's good.  It just may kill me to now have 9 therapy sessions a week.  That's BAD!
Happy Monday All!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

If Martha made Vietnamese-- Coconut Sorbet and my love affair with Cuisinart!

Just in time for the weekend and with the weather finally turning warmer, I thought it might be time for another cool refreshing treat, perfect for a hot day.  This time it's a dessert.  A sorbet to be specific and perfect for a sweet tooth.

There are versions of coconut sorbet all over south-east Asia.  I think the next time I make it, I think I'll try it just after a spicy hot Vietnamese dish.

A couple pointers-I couldn't find unsweetened shredded coconut.   (And thanks to Chris I knew that using sweetened coconut would make the sorbet far to sweet.  Thx Chris!)  So I took the sweetened shredded coconut and rinsed in it in a colander.  Then spread it on a cookie sheet and put it in the oven at 250 degrees to dry it out.  Worked like a charm!
And a note about coconut milk.  Please use coconut milk.  NOT coconut juice, or coconut cream, or coconut anything else.  (Staci-There isn't actually any milk in coconut milk.  Dairy free!)
We have a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker.  I love love love this appliance!  It has a cylinder that you store in the freezer so it's always ready to go.  And it's not too big either.  It is one of my favorite wedding gifts to give.  In the hot desert summers, often I will just throw in limeade or lemonade made from concentrate.  The kiddos LOVE this simple treat.  The kiddos have been experimenting with fresh fruits mixed with all different kinds of juices, then mixing them in the blender and then adding this mixture to the ice cream maker.  Sometimes they add a bit of sugar if need be.  Making ice creams, frozen yogurts, and in this case sorbet, has never been SO easy with no ice or salt.   (I'm hoping Cuisinart will get wind on my glowing endorsement and will send me one for free!  Maybe this could be the start one of those "give-away" blogs if Cuisinart would throw one my way!!!)  When we have company over, I'll throw mix together whatever juice I have in the fridge and frozen berries I keep in the freezer (strawberries, peaches, mixed berries...)then toss this in to Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker before dinner.  This is such an impressive dessert for company!  I LOVE my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker and so do my brood of adorable kiddos!  It makes me a better mommy!  (Too much you think?)
This recipe is super simple.  First I make a simple syrup with water and sugar on the stove top.  Then mix the remaining ingredients with the syrup and pour in the in your cream maker.

Garnish.  (The salted peanuts are so yummy on top!)
It's that easy.
Kiddos old enough to use a cook top, can do this one on their own.

1 cup of sugar
1 c water
1/2 c coconut milk
2/3 c dried coconut flakes-unsweetened
juice of 1 lime
sprigs of fresh mint
3 T chopped salted peanuts

To make a light sugar syrup---Combine sugar and water in sauce pan.  Bring to a boil while stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and simmer approximately for 5 minutes.

Stir together sugar syrup, coconut milk, shredded coconut, and lime juice.  

Pour mixture into icecream maker and freeze according to directions.  Return mixture to freezer to freeze till solid.

Scoop sorbet into individual bowls and garnish with a sprig of mint and chopped peanuts.  

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tess's Flashbacks

A little background info may be in order.
When we traveled to VietNam and visited the orphanage that T&J lived in, we had a glimpse at the baby room.  This room was about 20'x20' and had about 20 small metal cribs in it.  Each with a baby inside lest we forget.
There was room for 1 or 2 plastic chairs for the nannies.
It might be best to describe the room by telling you what there was not in the room.
There was no rocking chair.
There was no cute bedding, or bumper pads, or even mattresses.
There was no pastel wall paper with bunnies or choo-choo trains.
There were no books to be read at bed time.
There was no soft carpet or rug to catch the fall of a babe who was learning to sit.
There was no floor space for babes to learn to crawl or toddle around.
There were no blocks or trucks or balls or rattles or stacking cups.
There were no toys.

There was a mobile.
In fact there were several mobiles placed around the room, one in the middle of 3 or 4 cribs, so that several babes could look up and watch and listen to a mobile.  These mobiles were the only toys we saw in the room.  Well that and the paint on the wall.  Look here and you'll see a couple pictures of the baby room with the mobiles.

In the last 6-9 months, we have witnessed Tess do what we can only guess is a "flashback."  We have a couple toys, one a music box and the other a small stuffed toy, that play music that sounds just like the same music played in a baby's mobile.  When Tess hears this music, she immediately turns to its source and squeaks a tiny painful whimpering sound.  She pushes the toy away with the back of her hand as if using her fingers would be too much contact.  Then she scuttles back to the farthest corner of her room and sinks into her blankie and sucks her fingers and stares at the empty place where the musical toy used to be.  She stays just like that, nearly silent for 15-20 minutes until I guess her heart finds the courage to come back to us.

Enter one of Tess's wonderful therapists and the suggestion to try to correlate this sound with new positive thoughts and images. (Any fellow psych majors out there?)

Some of the things Tess loves-

  • Collecting.  Collecting anything.  Collecting everything.  Collecting and carrying her treasures around in her hands.  Plastic spoons, marbles, a ribbon, a matchbox car.
  • Jewelry.  Little rings and bracelets.  Bangles and bobbles.  
  • Containers.  Containers to put the things she's collected in.  Baggies, purses, lunch boxes, pockets.  
Enter a retro Strawberry Shortcake music box that I found it on eBay for $2.99, and 2 generous teenage sisters that filled it with their cast offs. 
We get out the jewelry box every couple of days, and I wind it up.  Tess lifts the latch we make a big deal about it because of course it is so special.  We sing as the ballerina turns around and gently touch her skirt, and of course I smile a lot, because this is a good happy time that we now associate with this long-time-ago sound.  
The ballerina music box.  Let us pause.  
Does every woman raised in the 70's and 80's have the same Freudian response to this music box?  Does this sound coupled with that twirling, yet non-proportionately stacked ballerina instantly transport you back to when you were 7 years old?  A time of Cabbage Patch Dolls, and clackers, and  PacMan, too tight Jordache jeans, The Thundercats, crocheted beer can hats, and corduroy everything.  They were good times.
Oooops!  Got sidetracked!

After listening to the music and admiring the twirling ballerina, Tess discovers the jewelry and puts every piece on.  
When she's done, takes the jewels off and places them back in the box.  She closes the lid and fastens the latch.  

It's working... slowly.  She still pushes those music box toys away, but, once it's gone, she goes back to playing.  No more long flashbacks recently.

A child's mind is so so amazing.  To recollect and flashback to memories that you can't remember.  
It is amazing.  
It is haunting.  

More work in progress.  
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