Archive for August 2008

A Question About Love

August 21, 2008

It was a question asked out of the clear blue about eight years ago. The Prince had gone to school with me and was running around on the playground with my Kindergarten students. A mom had stopped by to take her child home early and was standing with me enjoying the sunshine, the sight of healthy, happy little kids racing all around, swinging and climbing on play structures. She noticed my Korean born child and started to ask me something. Something that was stuck in her throat and then came out in a rush. She said she loved her child more than she could possibly have imagined. She had from the very first…as he grew inside her. She stumbled over the next part and finally asked me how I could possibly love MY children in that same way?

Wow. That was an interesting moment. It has stayed with me all of these years. Pops up at odd times. Wierd times. I can still see her face…and the face of her child so much like hers. I have thought often about this incomprehensible, defining kind of love that she was talking about. Did I? Do I? I have never felt the stirrings and movements of a little body inside mine. I have not shared that sort of thing with my husband. I have not gone through physical labor pains. I have not given birth. I don’t know if those things could possibly make my feelings any different than they already are.

My husband has daughters from another marriage that he loves desperately. I don’t know that he feels anything less intense for the son and daughter that arrived by plane. He has definitely has had more ‘quanity time’ with these two. Back in the days of weekend visitations we used to commisserate by telling each other we were giving his girls ‘quality time’ at our house. I have since learned that ‘quality/quanity’ doesn’t really matter. It’s ‘time’ that does. Any kind of time. But that’s getting off subject.

My son was four months old when he was first placed in our arms. My daughter was five years old when we first hugged her. We did a paper chase and a homestudy process and bared our souls to strangers and to one another trying to decide if we were right to be parents…and if we were ready to be parents. We waited with hearts in throats for those phone calls and papers that validated our decisions and searches. We put together a crib …and later a bed. Selected clothing we wanted to see them wear. Chose curtains and first books and first toys. Is that kind of what you go through with a pregnancy?

I would imagine that those first photographs that we saw were very much like the first ultrasound images that other people see. I knew instantly that these were my children. I didn’t cry…which I think surprised our caseworker. But I remember a definite tightening in my throat. A swelling in my heart. I couldn’t wait for them to be here. To be in my arms. To feel the softness of their hair. To kiss their cheeks. To smell their smells. Is that what you go through too? The waiting?

Our labor took place in a court room. The ‘birth’ was completed with the dash of a pen. But those days were the happiest days of our lives. Overwhelming happy days. They were safe. They were finally here and they were ours. Is that what you go through too?

We celebrated and stressed over first steps…first teeth….first missing teeth…first days of school…homework woes….and little friendships and fights. We planned overwhelming birthday parties and laid back sleepovers, attended parent conferences and programs. We’ve sat in emergency rooms waiting and worrying. Looking ahead we see boy friends and girl friends, first dates, proms and….shudder…..driver’s licenses on the very near horizon. Is that so very different than you?

I worried about missing the babyhood firsts with my daughter….but I didn’t. We shared a different kind of firsts. The firsts of an older child. The look on a five year old’s face when she bit into her first piece of watermelon….sat on her very first bicycle….went swimming for the first time. It was all there. On a different level. Much like your experiences?

It’s hard for someone who has not gone through an adoption process to understand how we could – so completely and utterly – love someone elses’ child. But they miss the point totally. This is our child. Our son. Our daughter. No more. No less. Completely. Incomprehensible. Defining. Like yours.

"The Case of the Missing Brown Betty"

August 18, 2008

I have been gifted with children who do not like to eat breakfast. They never have. But I guess I can identify because I am not a breafast food eater either most of the time. They would rather wait until lunch to eat. However, when they don’t eat, they – the Prince especially – become evil, growling, snapping turtle beings from another world in another galaxy. Always. So the beginning of the school year presents a challenge in planning to get something into their tummies before the bell rings. The Princess will eat cold cereal….but she likes it dry…in a baggie. Eeew. On rare occasions – when I don’t have the time really – I can talk them into poached egg on toast or a scrambled egg sandwich. Oatmeal with a scoop of ice cream (it’s just frozen milk and sugar…right?) usually lasts well into October. We had a run on cheese quesadillas once….for about a week. My own personal junior high favorite, bologna and mustard on toast, is always a standby and not necessarily that healthy. So I try to get creative. Every summer.

Today I wandered over to one of my favorite blogs – The Pioneer Woman – where there is an outstanding collection of picture perfect (and not so perfect) recipes. Looking for something fruity and different to use for breakfast this fall, I happened upon this recipe for Apple Brown Betty. I love the Pioneer Woman. She makes me want to cook butter for my family….and if you have ever tagged through her recipes you know that ‘butter’ is not a typo for ‘better’. Heh.

Anyway, I made some changes to the recipe based on what I have in my kitchen. I cut the brown sugar in half…well way more than half. I dutifully cut seven slices of fat free, whole wheat bread into tiny cubes. I peeled and thin sliced 4 Granny Smith apples. I added a handful of soaked dates – just because I had some leftover in the cupboard from HRH’s chocolate chip date birthday cake. I watered the layered fruit, sugar and bread layers with 4 tablespoons of water and covered it all with slices from a stick of my favorite ‘not really butter’. Wrapped it all in foil and baked that baby. It was out in time for the kiddos to try for…..lunch. Taste tested it with a warm healthy sized serving and it was deeelicious. The Prince wouldn’t touch it. The cooked apples were too brown for him. And he is also suspicious of anything with apples and cinnamon because I have a tendency to toss some hideous raisins in with it too…..or dates. Princess liked it. She likes anything with fruit and can over look the hideous raisins…and dates. She ate a healthy serving. Had another healthy serving myself. Yum. Saved the rest for HRH’s dinner treat.

And then while I was working on a cold tuna salad thing to stick in the fridge for dinner because we have soccer practice and a soccer game in two different directions tonight, I had another spoonful…right from the pan. The not-butter and brown sugar carmelized with the bread cubes quite nicely. So I had another spoonful to celebrate my good cooking skills. Stepped away for a while to check my e-mail and wandered back to stir the cooking macaroni…and took another bite. One wasn’t enough, so I took a second. Or was it a third? Anyway, HRH’s serving kept getting smaller and smaller. Sigh.

So now the pan sits in the sink filled with hot water and soap, soaking all that stuck on carmelized sugar away. And HRH is wondering why there are so many spoons in the sink. Heh. Next time I will save my spoon.

Thank you Alexander G. Bell!

August 16, 2008

I love my cell phone. Truthfully I was the very last kid on the block to get one. I fought it tooth and nail. Why did we really need it? Cell phone waves can give you cancer, right? WHY did we really want ANOTHER bill??? HRH got a cell phone for ‘work.’ Had it for almost a year before the soccer practice mixup incident.

It was one of those nights when he was working late and the kids had to be in two different directions for practice. Prince ended up having to go to a different location. I passed him off to another parent to drive, took off with the Princess to her practice and suddenly realized that HRH would be going to the first location to get the Prince. Envisioning the poor Prince standing all alone at the second field waiting for SOMEone to get him after practice was probably the very first time that I could justify having a cell phone. So I broke. I agreed to get a cell phone. THAT was three years ago.

This is the phone that I got. I insisted on red. No one knew why. And I kept it a cryptic secret for well over a year. Princess was the most adament about finding out why. She loved playing ’20 Questions’ about my phone’s redness. I kept telling her that she had SEEN the reason why but she could never figure it out. Heh.

I love my phone. I can actually HEAR on it. It was just the right size and shape and weight. The hinge has loosened enough to flip open at the flick of a wrist. I can text easily with a single thumb…and I text….alot. HRH got a deal from Sprint one day recently. Ordered two new FREE phones. One for me and one for the Princess. Just like his. Heh. BOTH were sent back post haste. Princess is NOT getting a phone of her own till she is fourteen. Only 357 more days. As for me, WHY would I would want a phone like his? I LOVE my phone. I picked it out myself. I was not ready to give it up. Sprint keeps calling. He keeps telling them I will look when I am ready. Heh.

So, it’s been three years. He keeps hinting. The kiddos and I went looking yesterday. Went to three different places actually. Nothing felt right. Too square. Corners were too sharp. Not…thick…enough. Can’t hear on them. Sigh. Till I found this one with a camera….and a memory disk so pictures can be printed on the computer. I can hear on it. It has a keyboard for texting but I will have to learn to use two thumbs. I guess I am coming up in the world. At least we are still in touch with one another. And Princess is STILL not getting one till she is fourteen. Only 357 more days……

Oh…and I insisted red because of this scene from a season 12 episode of ER. Abby has a red phone. Yep. Once an ER addict, always an ER addict. Heh.

My kid…..

August 13, 2008

My kid worries me sometimes. It’s summer. She is out of bed by 9 a.m., chokes down a baggie of dry cereal and then takes off on her bike. She reports in every 30 minutes on the dot, lets me know where she is and who she is with and leaves again. She is generally in the middle of every game, every circle of skateboarders, every bicycle brigade. Sigh. I know where she is and I don’t know where she is. Worriesome.

Today we were running errands. We stopped at the mailboxes on the way home and she took the keys to get our mail. I watched her chat with an elderly neighbor for a moment and then head back to the car. The woman was inching her way after her, struggling to walk. “Well….thank you for saying that!” the woman called after her with a surprised little smile. My kid tossed the mail key and three advertisments in the car and took off walking for home. She likes to do that. Easier to get out of chores if she is not around when I get there. So, she was off playing with her neighborhood cronies and I didn’t have a chance to talk to her again till we were making our special veggie pizza for dinner. I asked her what she was saying to the neighbor at the mailbox.

“Oh, she was complaining because she didn’t have any mail and I told her not to worry. I don’t get much mail either.”

Sometimes she is just my favorite kid ever…..

Summer Vacation 2008

August 9, 2008

Vacation n : leisure time away from work; devoted to rest or pleasure [syn: holiday] Yeah….riiiight.

Friday – Driving all ding dang day. Arrived in Owego, New York. Stinky hotel hallway but okay room. Used the pool.

Saturday – We were on the road early and had stopped in a small town to have breakfast in a little open diner. There was fog. The streets were empty. All I said was ‘Well, this is very Children of the Corn….’ and the prince refused to get out of the car. Absolutely refused. We found a McDonald’s drive through and we drove on to Cooperstown, NY. Spent the morning exploring the Baseball Hall of Fame. Wonderful exhibits. Babe Ruth. Ty Cobb. Al Kaline. Red Sox. Baseballs….and more baseballs. On to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA. We had been there 16 years before with my stepdaughters. HRH opted to stay in the car. Kiddos followed along…begrudgingly. It was crowded. It was hot. The painter in me loved it all. But, I guess am still looking for someone willing to hit the art museums with me. Sigh. On to Boston. We arrived at our hotel in Brookline exhausted and a little tense having encountered some crazy city drivers. ‘T’ station stop right across the street.

Sunday – Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Got a little help on the way purchasing a ‘T’ pass for the rest of the week. Wondered if we would really use it. Prince wanted to get to the game early. 90 minutes early. In bleacher seats. In the sun. The hot sun. Quietly observing the Big Green Monster. Clouds were rolling in. Third inning light rain felt like the misters at WDW. The 6th inning rain drencher delayed the game by 38 minutes. We left. The Red Sox were winning by 3 anyway. Leaving our car in Brookline through the good graces of the hotel, we moved on to the Marriot Custom House down town. By cab. $26.90 worth of cab. Nice suite of rooms that we were not prepared for. No pool. One bed. One fold out couch. Fridge. Microwave. WAY cool observation deck on the 27th floor. Nice game room on the 26th. Right in the middle of everything. Went in search of dinner in Faneuil Hall and found one we have enjoyed before in Chicago. Crazy waitress made hats with funny offensive comments for all of us. THEN she took the Princess to the back and returned her with 13 helium balloons tied to 13 strands of hair in honor of her upcoming 13th birthday! The Princess was mortified…and yet delighted. We made her leave them in so we could play with the helium when we got back to the room. She was stopped no less than 6 times on the 2 block walk so people could take her picture. LOL Note to self…and anyone else who is interested : The Gettysburg Address sounds WAY too funny in a helium induced voice.

Monday – Marriott Vacation Club spiel. The guy was pinch hitting for the regular salesman and let us go after finding out we usually camp for our vacations. Hee. Took the Trolley Tour but had to walk across town to station 6 in order to get our Go Card issued tickets. Sheesh. The hotel was right across the street from station 1 for crying out loud. We were ready for a ride. Kids were most impressed with the decor of China Town….I think. Didn’t want to eat there though. Got off at Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Shopped a little more. Discovered that Obama was in town. Limos EVERYwhere around our hotel. The observation deck was closed because the Secret Service was using it. In fact, the entire top 7 floors (including the game room) were off limits to guests for the night. The Princess was pissed.

Tuesday – The Princess and I had reservations for a whale watch excursion. HRH and the Prince were headed back to Fenway for a tour. They were also going to be taking our bag back to the hotel in Brookline for the duration of our stay. Whale Watch…hmmm. REALLY looked forward to it. We started out in the bow of the boat because that’s where the ‘good seats’ are. It’s also cold when you are going out to sea and the ‘good seats’ are sans padding. Heh. Bouncing and bumping as the boat slaps the unforgiving waves, I was barely keeping myself – and my camera – together. Princess headed into the covered lounge area because she was cold. I didn’t trust my sea legs enough to move. Took nearly 90 minutes to find whales but did we ever find a mess of them. Wow. The boat engines stopped and the rocking and rolling from the animals diving and breeching and slapping all around us took over. I snapped some pictures, bruised both elbows and bobbled my way to the 2nd deck lounge area to discover the princess stretched out on a padded seat cushion holding her head. Not really sea sick. Sick from seeing OTHERS being sea sick….and a little frightened by the whales flipping all around. Not really her cup of tea after all. We sat there watching for about another hour and then headed back to shore…this time WITH the waves. Inside. On a padded seat. Met the guys at the New England Aquarium. Having done the Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlingburg a few weeks back, this was a bit of a downer. Blue Fairy penguins were cute though. Didn’t stay too long. Got back on the trolley and saw the stuff we missed the first time around. Had dinner at the City Place food court and then went in search of the ‘Make Way for Ducklings’ statue in the oh so very peaceful Public Park. This was a huge deal for me. I remember hearing the book read aloud when I was 4 years old and have used it in my classroom every single year that I have taught. The kiddos delighted in the fact that squirrels were taking peanuts right out of their hands. LONG walk back to the ‘T’ station because of the whale watch bouncing and my aching back. High praise for my very patient family. We were ready for bed back in our Brookline Holiday Inn.

Wednesday – Dreary and cool day. We took the ‘T’ to the JFK Presidential Museum and Library. What a wonderful, wonderful museum. It began with a short film about the beginning of his political career and then you followed an exhibit path that took you to the middle of the convention hall, a shop window where you could watch the televised debates, a set of benches to watch a video of the inaugration and a series of rooms that focused on the development of the Peace Corp (first proposed in a speech at U of M!), the space race, the elegant White House atmosphere created by Jacqueline, the Cuban Missle crisis (with another short film describing the issue), the Kennedy brothers…and finally a small dark hall with multiple small tv screens running the Walter Cronkite report of the assasination and funeral. Very short and tasteful…definitely designed not to over shadow the accomplishments of the Kennedy Administration. As you walked out there was a television screen with Bill Clinton describing his meeting JFK as a high school student and the impact it had on him. Nice end to a good visit. On the bus taking us back to the ‘T’ and planning what to do next when the Princess grabbed my arm and asked that we PLEASE not have to look at any more OLD stuff. LOL. So we hit Newbury Street. There were definitely some shops of interest. In Newbury Comics I talked the Princess out of a teal studded black belt and flying bat belt buckle and into a more appropriate and funky Mario Bros. imprinted belt. (Sheesh. She is just THIRTEEN!! What kind of adolescence are we in for???) HRH found a rare BTO recording -meaning he doesn’t already own it – and the Prince and I became button collectors. Found one for him that reads ‘No one knows that I am a Ninja’ and another one that reads ‘Guns don’t kill…Ninjas do!’ He was delighted. Hee. We found a small market and got some fruit and sandwiches to take back to the hotel for dinner. It was a hike to a ‘T’ station and we moved over a block from Newbury St. to find it. Definitely NOT a normal tourist route. Got lots of disdainful looks as we studied our map. Heh.

Thursday – Up early and on the road OUT of Boston before morning traffic could hit. Nice weather and a pretty drive. .Arrived in Gettysburg around 3:30. Hotel is small and very old. Cheap too….considering. Hit a touristy gift shop. Bought a CD for the car which would take us on a tour of the battlegrounds. Rainy and cool so we decided to try it out. Lots of monuments. Got lost. Stopped for dinner and tried again. The middle school band had played a piece about the battle called ‘High Water Mark’ (Prince had a trumpet solo) and that’s the spot we were post interested in seeing.. Well, the Prince and I anyway. HRH was just driving. Princess was napping. Too many OLD things. Hee. We found High Water Mark – the location of Pickett’s Charge – and Prince got out to roam a little bit. The rain storm was giving me some very dramatic sky for picture backdrops. Cool.

Friday – Happy 13th birthday, kiddo!! On the road again…headed for home. Nice, cool drive the whole way. Very little traffic actually. Everyone is tired. Lots of talk about all we had done and seen. Relaxing. Got home around 5 pm. The cat was glad to see us. Emptied the car and picked up a very dusty and happy dog up from Puppy Camp. Everyone is in it’s place. All’s well with the world. Mountains of vacation laundry to do. Ugh.

If the slide show below doesn’t play for you automatically….just click on ‘view all images’ and it will run. Enjoy!

Big Busy Three Days

August 1, 2008

The Princess will be 13 in another week. First it was a skateboard ramp….and then it was a rip stick…..and she finally settled for a new bike. A motocross bike. Like the one she flipped over at camp. Which is now sporting a broken back brake cover after just one day ’cause we gave it to her early and she was crowded into a skid by a car going too fast on a dirt road. Scraped knee….BIG time…..lots of tears….but Dad fixed it all and a new cover is on it’s way from the manufacturer. And THIS is what 53 looks like. Finally. There were 15 of us. Dinner was great. The song and horns were obnoxious. And oh so much fun. Sometimes it’s a good thing that my birthday comes first. Hee….. My son, the Youth Police Academy graduate. His team of ten students – one of four – took the Best Teamwork medal tonight. He has learned to take finger prints, dusted for finger prints, driven a golf cart on a traffic school course, participated in simulated traffic stops, practiced criminal take down methods, done a crime scene investigation, practiced shooting fire arms on a simulator, observed a K-9 drug busting unit in action, and on and on and on. I think it was the highlight of his very busy summer!

And NOW the dog is at Puppy Camp, the car is packed, the ipods are charged and we are OFF to Boston for a week!