Jan 31, 2008

Fasion tips for toddlers

Jaws has kindly allowed me to pass along this year's hot new styles for girls between the ages of one and three. We're seeing a lot of exciting new trends in toddler couture this season. Item one:

The dress up. Sequins and dripping with fringe, a la Wal Mart. Make sure you accessorize with snow-white bow shoes and your older sister's pink beaded headband on occasion. For day-time casual, we're noticing a trend of bared shoulder. You can do this with any shirt. Simply slip one arm out and wear it toga style.

Your older sister's birthday party lip gloss is the hottest thing right now. Open it, slurp it, smear it. Wipe it on your baby brother's mouth. Glop it on the wallpaper. Make sure the radioative grape-goodness smell permeates your entire residence. Your friends in the binky-and-diaper set will go wild.

Pants are totally out this year. Make sure you build a little chub to show your dimpled knees to their best advantage.

The bunny slipper. A must-have. If you can't find both, wear one. Don't leave the house without them, even if it means your mom has to carry you over the snowy pavement on trips to wal-mart.

And last but not least: hair. The haystack look is what's in this year.

Your mom will want to put your hair in clips; this will help. Take them out during naptime for the perfect, "my mom never cuts my hair or washes me" look. So high fasion. So grunge-derelict. Doors will open. Grape juice will rain down from heaven. People will offer you soggy graham crackers at every turn.

Jan 27, 2008

Goodbye, and sincere congrats

To a man who deserves every honor and happiness that it is possible to bestow upon a mortal (now immortal) person.

Tell her hello from each one of us.

more new people that I like a lot

so I'm adding two more links to my sidebar. One is an old high school and church friend who is a stay-at-home mom like me, with three adorable little girls. THe other is a friend from work/college who I have kept in touch with over the years. They're both really cool people, so you should really check them out.

Jan 26, 2008

My favorite Engrish

Today's Engrish is one of my most favorite, ever.

"For the girl who wants to be just like everyone else."

Jan 25, 2008

article about ethiopian adoption

seven months outdated... the numbers of operating agencies, and of orphans adopted, have risen since this article was written. But still a very good article. Very relevant to what's going on now with Ethiopian adoption.

I think I'm going to do more research about the agency that they laud in this article... it sounds like it might be another very ethical option for Ethiopian adoptions. So far, my list of "for sure" ethical agencies (my own opinion and research feeding this pronouncement, of course) are AFAA and AAI. Anna, a commenter on my other post, vouched for her agency, Wide Horizons. It would be nice to start a list like this. Anyone else want to talk about their agency and experience? Please do.

Jan 22, 2008

celebrating baby-- a poem for Sam.

If There is Magick.

If there is Magick in me yet, I will.

I will. I Will it. Warm drops will

fall (only lightly) on the knotty winter coat

that grandma has knitted, sweatily.

An hour or two with your small, round stare will

hold, and sway, the whirlwind-reaper.

It Will, If there is Magick.

You (another pebble) will be found and named.

Then, son, sling up gravel with those minute hands

as David of old—with the Lord to bless the armor

of your scabby knees; your damp, tousled

helmet & dangling jinglebell—you Will

if there is Magick.

If there is any foolish act that a mother's

mean, red courage can inspire, it will be

I. Me, facing an eternal bar. See—

myself, there beside a bench piled with

lethal evidence. Skin beneath my torn

fingernails. I Will, if there is Magick.

Your voice (small, a whistle) will be heard. It will

be. All will hear, and fall back, startled

at you, and your reality; the bile

that pumps your beating eyes. The breath

that curls your pinky toes. The racket of

the mile of thoughts that hide there,

in your bended tongue—they Will

if there is Magick.

Jan 20, 2008

Random Youtube video

I have no idea what this project was or what organization it was for... it was suggested on one of my adoption email lists that if you type "ethiopia" into Youtube, you find lots of cool videos of Ethiopian kids. Of course I went and did it immediately. Anyway, I loved this random video. :) Ethiopian kids are so awesome. Of course I feel that way; I have tender feelings about Ethiopia, and I've been lead to adopt from there... but I think this video portrays pretty accurately everything I hear and have read from adoptive parents and those who have visited, about the kids there. Happy, wonderful, great spirits. Anyway, if you want to watch a random video of Ethiopian kids, here it is.

Jan 14, 2008



I watch American Idol. The first few episodes where they make fun of poor, emotionally challenged people really bug me, but when it gets into the real competition, I'm riveted. Probably partly because I'm a singer myself and it's fascinating to see someone compete in your sport.

Here's the thing... I could take or leave all American Idol winners. Except for one.

I'm a die-hard Kelly fan. I absolutely love her voice and her way of singing... it really resonates with me. This is a guilty confession, as I'm not really into pop or diva music at ALL. Really, really not. Anyway, I thought I'd share this video, and a song from her latest album, with you, as the new American Idol season starts... I love these. The first video is the episode where she totally won me. And I've never been the same since. LOL. my list of people I have to see in concert before they die has gone up by one: James Taylor (Saw him on my 18th birthday), Cat Stevens (if he ever performs live again, please Heavenly Father,) Elton John, Ray Charles (Saw him at the Lucky Nugget in Reno, Martin Luther King day 2000) and now, Kelly. I'm sure some of you (Jeremy...) think I"m pretty silly. Too bad for you all. :)

Jan 10, 2008

Covenant wrote me today...

and this is what they said (name changed to protect privacy.)

Hi [nosurgirl]!

I finally have news for you about your manuscript. It went to the managing committee for consideration yesterday, and they decided to table it for the time being (that means basically putting it on hold). Our marketing director is going to research the YA market so that the committee can decide whether or not they think it will be marketable and sell enough copies to be worth the costs of publishing. As soon as they make a more solid decision, we'll contact you.

The committee also wanted you to know that they think you're a very good writer; they wanted me to ask if you are interested it/willing to write things for a more adult market rather than a YA audience. You can just respond to this email and let me know, and I'll pass the message along. Have a good day!

Thank you,

[the editorial assistant]

I'm seriously reeling, I'm so suprised. Wow. Someone who actually knows what they're talking about for sure, says I'm a good writer. Hooray!!! And who knows where this might lead in future?? Even if my chick-lit novel is never published, apparently I have talent and a good chance at getting other stuff published. What more could a budding writer ask for???


top ten things that people should have already invented

These could make somebody rich. I tell you.

1) Walkie-Talkie Socks. Each has a washer-dryerproof bluetooth device in it that activates a unique radio freqency to locate the other. Could also be applied to shoes.

2) Bookmark book-pager. Bookmark that beeps when it's paged from a small bookmarker holding-dock, so that the reader can figure out where the heck they left their book.

3) Fridge-food-freshness censor: if there's something that is going bad in the fridge, the light turns red. If there were a way to document how MANY items in the fridge have gone bad, or if there could be a yellow "warning" light for a food that is about to go bad so it can be used in tonight's soup, that would be even better.

4) Child-size, terry-cloth goggles to keep soap from getting in eyes at bathtime, thus preventing screaming and teary mahem. Also, terry-cloth earmuffs, for my six year old who is, for some reason, terrified of getting water in her ears.

6) Car-seat climate control; protects carseat and various metal parts from becoming too hot in the summer, thereby avoiding any buckle-shaped burnmarks upon toddler legs. Also keeps carseats warm in the winter so that there's something to compensate for the frigid-backseat-until-the-heater-works phenomenon.

7) Edible chapstick. Must look very real, in a real, grown-up looking container with that same waxy quality that seems to attract toddlers and charm their taste-buds. Must contain all natural ingredients, and must be colored so as to preserve the hilarious clown effect.

9) Baby bottles that are actually possible to clean; ie wide enough, without impossible angles or little ridged things on the inside that tend to collect bottle grime. Even better: A system where you can plug each baby bottle into a socket that cleans them spick and span, with perfect-sized brushes and mild detergents. Must also have a rinse cycle, and must be under 5 minutes to use... toddlers can only take so much suspense.

10) Backseat barriers: a partition that can be raised between each seat in order to block child-sized passengers from one another, thus preventing sly elbowing and teasing. Should have a button upfront for easy parental access.

Also, one of those barriers that goes between the front and back, so that parents can listen to NPR in silence and ignore complaints about children breathing upon one another and fighting over toys.

I tell you, someone better get on these, quick. I would spend money on every single one of them. Every single one.

Jan 9, 2008

Ethical Dilemmas and international adoption

I haven't posted about the adoption lately. We've got all our papers turned in, we're just waiting at this point. But I thought I'd post about a more general topic; what's going on in international adoption right now, what's good about it, and what's scary.

International adoption has boomed since people like Angelina Jolie and Madonna have brought it into the media. This is good in some ways; there are millions of orphans in need of adoption in various third world countries. More parents means more kids don't die on the street, more kids get raised and given educations and opportunity in this world, more kids get treated for their serious (or just continual,) illnesses, more kids get a Mom and Dad whom they can bond with and love, and heal the grief and loss that they've already experienced.

But it also means that more money is involved. Anytime a bunch of rich Americans or Europeans takes interest in something and is willing to pay for something to happen, the opportunists come out of the woodwork.

Here's what's troubling me lately: the overall trend of international adoption is shifting. Russia and eastern Europe used to be the big adoption country. Then, Romania stopped adopting their orphans out. Then Russia ran into problems (I'm not exactly sure what they are, but I know that the process has significantly slowed, even stalled). Then Kazakstan, another Eastern European country.

A lot of these parents (some already most of the way through the process before it was halted) then turned to China for adoption. The China adoption process was flooded within a year. My aunt brought her baby girl home from China two years ago with just a 9 month wait for referral; now the wait is more along the lines of 2-3 years if you want a young, healthy, infant. That's how crazy it has become.

China responded by making the guidelines for adoptive parents much, much stricter. For instance, you can no longer adopt from China (a young, healthy infant) if you've been on antidepressants, if you're overweight, if you're over a certain age (younger than the cutoff was before).

So these parents went another direction: Guatemala. The Guatemalan process was then flooded, and those opportunists I talked about, which for some reason don't seem to plague the China/Eastern European adoption process nearly as much, came out of the woodwork.

Adoption "Lawyers", would solicit babies from impoverished mothers and bring them to orphanages. THey would pocket half of the adoption fees that American parents paid, and give a small percentage of them to the birth families/mothers. Very very wrong. Very very unethical. The sad thing is: while a large percentage of adoptive parents would be devastated if they knew their adoption was illegal, a great many adoptive parents are so desperate for a baby, they really don't care. They close their eyes to the red flags and warning signals.

Two months ago, Guatemalan adoptions were completely shut down.

That's what happens, people, when we're willing to pay into a system that is unethical, when we're willing to sacrifice ethics in order to be spared a few months (or even a year) of waiting.

Now, these families (some of them almost through the process with Guatemala, or on a Long waiting list with China), are turning to Ethiopia. For a long time, only six or so agencies operated out of ethiopia. In the last two years, an additional thirty agencies applied for license to do adoptions out of Ethiopia.

My agency is the first agency ever to do adoptions out of Ethiopia. When I initially applied, I was told that the wait for babies and toddlers was 18-24 months. This was just as the usurge in Ethiopian adoptions began.

Recently, I have read about newer agencies who are able to refer a baby/toddler age child to a prospective couple within weeks to months. I've also read/heard about agency directors taking policemen and city officials out to dinner at expensive restaraunts, and being promised any abandoned babies/toddlers that they find. I've read about agencies going out to the outer countryside and bringing back busloads of young kids. I've read about birth mothers being paid off by agents to relinquish their child...

in all fairness, I don't think that it's all necessarily the fault of the agencies... they have to hire in-country staff, and they do their best to make sure things are on the up-and-up. But I don't doubt that there are some cases where a blind eye is turned in favor of procuring the babies and toddlers that Americans are so desperate for.

The thing is, you could make the argument that the end benefits the means... these kids are impoverished and need help and would possibly outherwise starve or become 12-year-old mothers, etcetera. But we all know right from wrong. We all know the value of birthfamily, and what sorts of devastating consequences do you think there will be later, when an adopted child finds out that his/her adoption wasn't necessarily legal? That his mother had been exploited in order so that his adoptive parents could have a child?

It's wrong. I'm worried. Ethiopian adoptions are a mess right now. My advice to you people who are thinking of adopting is: Do lots of research. How long has your agency been operating? What is their standing with the Ethiopian government, are they respected or watched carefully for violations of standard? Do they promise quick babies and toddlers? Do they give you an opportunity to meet birth families/parents if they are still alive, and if the parents are dead, do you get information about them? What is your agency's protcol for finding abandoned children/babies? How do they take care of them until the adoptive parents come to pick them up?

And finally, does your agency engage in any other humanitarian efforts in Ethiopia, aside from just doing adoptions?

I can fully reccomend my agency, Americans For African Adoptions. Another one I'm pretty sure of is Adoption Advocates international. Both of these agencies have operated sucessfully out of Ethiopia for 20+ years, both of them engage in humantiarian projects, and both directors will try and talk you into adopting an older child. (to me, this is the clincher, the sign that they really want to help the children, they're not providing a baby service to rich Americans.)

I'm sorry if this post is disturbing... but you can understand, how disturbing it is to me, as a prospective adoptive parent, to have the country I have chosen turned upside down the way it has been of late. Pretty soon, Ethiopian adoption will develop a bad reputation the way that Gautemala has, and people might see me in the street with my kids and wonder if I stole them or not.

It makes me sad... it makes me happy.... it's an emotional rollercoaster lately, this adoption.

Jan 4, 2008

a good way to give a Mom a heart attack...

So, since we moved our bedroom downstairs, it's nice in the afternoons to pop in a movie and take a nap in the next room. It's getting close... I can tell because all I want to do lately is sleep. I love having the bedroom downstairs; I can hear everything through our slotted door, so I can intervene in case of an emergency, and I also can take a quick nap without worrying about the kiddoes. Until this afternoon. This is what I woke up to.

I panicked, until I realized...

red paint, people. Red. Paint.

She got it all over the carpet, too. Arghh. Oh well... that's what I get for taking a nap, I guess. :)

Jan 1, 2008

Easy, Quick, Delicious pineapple upside down cake

This is one of my most FAVORITE ways to manipulate a cake mix. MMMM. (does that sound dirty? Sorry. Wasn't meant to be. I don't think.)

1 butter-recipe yellow cake mix +ingredients to make said cake mix
2/3 cup apricot jam
1 can of pineapple rings
3 TB butter.

Melt the butter in a 9X13 pan in the oven. Mix the juice from the pineapple rings and the apricot jam together, pour over the melted butter. Lay the pineapple rings evenly over the bottom of the pan. Stick the pecans in the middle of the pineapple rings. Pour the prepared cake batter (according to box instructions) over these layers. Bake according to oven directions, then find a flat serving dish of some kind that is oven-safe. Carefully turn the pan over, wait a few minutes for the cake to come unglued, tap carefully all over the bottom of the pan before carefully removing. Soemtimes the pineapple rings stay stuck to the bottom of the pan, just peel them off and put them back on the cake. Put cake in the oven for an additional 2-3 minutes, to get that nice, brown-sticky-glaze thing going.

Serve warm or cold. Cold is more yummy in my opinion.

Note: this recipe is not healthy, but it IS vegetarian. It would be vegan even, if the cake mix didn't require eggs. :)

serious reminscing

Skywalker and I are in the process of cleaning out the office. We're talking boxes and boxes of stuff that ought to be either incinerated or stored in deep dark places where we will only venture once a year or so. Actually, some of these boxes are leftover from our move about a year and a half ago. Yes, we've slacked. Sigh. Oh well, we're getting it done today.

Skywalker suggested that I gather all the paraphenalia together from my previous marriage and put it in one place, so that Loli can have it all one day. I went through pictures, letters, postcards, birthday cards. It was quite an interesting journey. I don't feel the hurt or fear anymore, or even the stomach clenching worry about Loli and whether she's OK or not. IT's all good. We're past that, thank God. So going through, much more objectively this time, I have come to some conclusions:

1) Loli's biological father loved her very much, even though he didn't do right by her.

2) He was a good husband, the part of him that I knew. A very good husband, and a good person, who was crippled by his life experiences and his own way of dealing with them. He could have been the best father/husband in the world, and I could have stayed married to him, if he had been able to work his issues out before doing what he did.

3) He was relieved to be relieved from the responsibility of being my husband, loli's father, and an active church member, because it was causing too much agony and dissonance for him. Not because he didn't want us.

4) Skywalker and I are much more eveny matched as far as emotional maturity and responisbility are concerned... but he (loli's bio dad) had a lot of potential, and could have become that, had he made different choices.

5) I was very, very, very, very young when I married the first time. I was also a very strong person. Holy cow. I don't know what it is about going through and reading old notes, old articles, looking at old pictures, but it gives you fresh perspective, and I am proud, today, of that round-cheeked little 21-year old girl who went through all that. In the same way I'd be proud of a little sister. And I see that same sort of strength in Loli... I feel very, very, very blessed to be who I am, and to have been raised by the people I was. I owe everything to my family who taught me that strenght of endurance and character.

So, reminscing over.... the room is cleared out now, and our bed is moving DOWNSTAIRS ( a very, very good thing, as our stairs are probably a 45 degree incline and I'm not planning on climbing them anytime soon after having this little bugger. :)