Feb 27, 2010

Inspire Me

One of my favorite songs of all time, by a little-known artist by the name of Libby Roderick. She's Alaskan, she's a folk singer, she's a bit quirky, yes... but this song is one that always makes me want to dance or run for political office or... sew my own cloth diapers or something. I love it, and I can't find the lyrics anywhere online so I'm going to write them down here from my own memory.

Inspire Me

Everybody needs someone to show them what is possible
Everybody needs someone to go as far as she can see
I need to stand upon the shoulders of giants
I need a woman who's as big as me.

When I was a little bitty baby sitting on Mama's knee
I looked around to see just what the future had in store for me
I needed to see women who were living without limits
I needed to see women making history.

So I said, give me a Woman who can climb the tallest mountain.
Give me a woman who can swim across the widest sea.
Women need women who lead lives of boldest daring.
Tell me the stories that inspire me.

Give me Amelia who went soaring 'cross the ocean
Winnie Mandella who is going to set her people free
Judy Chicago who breaks all artistic silences
These women leave a precious legacy.

When I was a young teenager reading my Seventeen,
I looked around to see just what the future had in store for me
Women in the fashion mags were too small for my dreams, I needed
to see women just as big as me.

So I said, give me a woman who can climb the tallest mountain.
Give me a woman who can swim across the widest sea.
Women need women who lead lives of boldest daring.
Tell me the stories; they inspire me.

I know of women all across the nation
leading lives of courage in the face of fear and poverty
One leaves an abusive home, one raises her five children
Women, we need a new mythology.

Now I am a grown-up woman living in society
I still look around to see just what the future holds for me
I still need women who are shooting like the comets so I can
leave my own starlight in this galaxy. And I say

Give me a woman who can climb the tallest mountain.
Give me a woman who can swim across the widest sea.
Women need women who live lives of boldest daring, why don't you
Tell me the stories, they inspire me.

(BTW I would not recommend looking up Judy Chicago's artwork online, necessarily. Though I do admire the way she's done her best to break some, ahem, silences, and I would go to see her artwork in person if I had the opportunity). :)

Feb 25, 2010

Grouchy Mom

So this morning so far I have:

1) Dragged myself out of bed to find a grand-mal mess all over the floor, after hearing squeals about Squirt getting down the paints and listening to various ominous thuds and crashes.
2) sent Bella up to time-out for insufferable, continuous tattling.
3) nagged the kids for approximately 30 full minutes in a not-always-the-nicest-I-could-be tone to clean up all the paints, paper, toys, and also all their hundreds of little tiny pieces of paper scattered across the floor after making snowflakes.
4) confiscated the scissors and put them on the top shelf and announced, "no scissors for a while."
5) threw away a perfectly good glue stick because the cap was nowhere in sight and nobody seemed to be motivated to find it, then announced, "no more glue for a while."
6) got frustrated at MayMay for crying because I told her we're not going to work in one of her school books today, after she already cried this morning a) because I wasn't giving out oatmeal seconds (I gave them all heaping bowls to begin with and used up the pot) b) having to wait to get oatmeal until the living room was cleaned up and c) I asked Squirt instead of her to "help" me vacuum by turning on the button for me.
7) Mentally cussed out the printer for not listening to my computer, thus not printing off the two worksheets for Bella.
8) Mentally cussed out Skywalker because he's not here to fix my printer problem. (mormon cussing only)
9) Got frustrated at Jaws not listening to me while I explained, half-a-dozen times, how to do her worksheet (she's only 3... sigh.)
10) Got frustrated at Bella because we've done 10, 11, and 12 for five days running and she still seems to really not recognize any of those numbers... her first guess when I held up 10 -- "thirteen??" Sigh. Made her sit and look at them for five minutes instead of drawing her snowman which was what she really wanted to do instead of flash cards.
11) Got mad at Loli because she had taken the snowflakes she "cleaned up" and heaped them on the piano. Asked her to throw them away or put them away, watched as she promptly gathered them up and dumped them on the computer desk. Informed her that she's just as bad as any of the other kids sometimes when it comes to cleaning and she needs to throw away all her snowflakes.
12) Gave a somewhat sharp lecture about cleaning and how, if you clean up as you go, you'll only have little messes... if you don't put things away, you'll have big messes.
13) Turned on PBS kids, sat my toddlers in front of it, and retreated to my room to sulk.

Which is where I am now.

Maybe if I relax and read a chapter of Harry Potter, I can get up and try again.

Feb 22, 2010

Why I Love Skywalker

I haven't been able to do a lot of the stuff I normally do lately. Sundays, the house tends to get messy whether I'm incapacitated or not... I admit I treat Sunday as a true day of "rest," we take it easy after church, get laid-back, I don't nag my kids to clean their messes the way they usually do. SO on Mondays, usually I have a bit of a disaster to clean up after. But, like I said, I haven't been able to do a lot of those things latley... big belly, sciatic nerves, hard to walk, need to lay down after short sessions of activity.

This is what I woke up to this (Monday) morning, traditionally my worst cleaning morning of the week:

Yeah, to some of you neatniks out there, this probably looks messy. But let me say, this is as clean as the house EVER gets. And it's not an easy feat to accomplish, getting it this clean. So kudos to skywalker... a demonstration of love far better than chocolate or roses.

Feb 21, 2010

Pregnancy pictures

This is for Putz.

Anyway... my sister in law, who took these, is an amazing artistic photographer. I'm very happy with how they turned out. But I'm not going to post *most* of what she took because let's say the internet does not deserve my bare shoulders. Sorry. But they were all very beautifully done, and my favorite is actually a bare-shouldered one (that I guess I'll be enjoying on my own, perhaps display it in my own room, or something). And it was a great experience working with Emily.

Feb 20, 2010

The best of American Idol

... so far it's been Larry Plat.

So, for those of you not watching (are there any? Other than Dave, of course, I mean...) This man came in to audition, one of the standard crazy people auditions.

and THIS is what then happened, in the weeks afterward: (hint: you only need to listen to a few seconds of each of these to "get" it) One of these has some mild swearing (can't remember which one... I think it's the second one)

Deep sigh of contentment for the pop-culture creating genius that is American Idol.

Getting baby hungry

I actually am, now. Just in time. It's kind of nice, because usually during a pregnancy I feel impatient... waiting for the baby to get here. This time I've been so busy and somewhat overwhelmed at times, I haven't had much time to think about it. But lately things have slowed down out of necessity, and I've had more time to relax and really enjoy this child who is not born yet. And I can definitely say a few things about this baby:

She is a mover. Very active.

She is determined. Kicks me repeatedly if I get into a position she doesn't like... kicks continually harder as if to make a point, until I switch sides or change position.

She is not as sensitive to noise as my other babies were. Probably because the house is really noisy now and she's had to adapt.

She will be loved and adored by five little people who don't know exactly how to hold babies/be gentle/treat them carefully, and so she's going to be a tough girl.

SO, I'm getting baby hungry. A few months ago, while surfing the net for funny videos with some friends, we came upon this one. I thought it was HILARIOUS, while Skywalker and Dave thought I was insane. Well I am. It's called hormones. As an expectant mom, that rooting reflex is just an undeniable experience... this tiny little creature relentlessly looking for something to put in its mouth and suck to death. The fact that these baby boys found each other is just too, too hilarious to me.
So, all you hormonally crazy, baby-hungry moms out there: Enjoy.

Feb 18, 2010

Sadness in Ethiopian adoptions

The video I linked to has now aired on CBS.

I feel divided on this.

On the one hand, I'm very glad this particular agency was exposed to be doing unethical things in gaining orphans for adoption. A lot of the problems mentioned are not uncommon in adoptions: The kids are misrepresented as younger than they are; kids are told they're not being adopted but "going on a trip" etc... these things absolutely and positively DO happen and I personally know families who have dealt with these issues.

The thing is, an agency isn't always the one responsbile for the problems. Parents who are in desperate circumstances and feel that adoption is the only option for their children, will say a child is younger so that they have a "better chance." They will sometimes tell their kids they're just leaving them for a while, simply because they can't handle telling them they're being given up forever. One little girl I know had this happen... both of these things. She came to the family thinking she was going on a trip. The family was told she was three, she ended up being much older; around 6 at the time she came home. When she (the girl) realized what had happened, that this was her "new" family and she was going to stay in America forever, there were huge problems of course. Everything mentioned in this video--heartbreak, etc.

The thing is, the agency (in this case, Dove) had nothing to do with the Deception. Dove, like our agency, Adoption Avenues, works with a large, respected orphanage in Ethiopia. Both these agencies (dove and adoption avenues) do not go out recruiting orphans, orphans are brought to the main orphanage and this is where the kids are found. This orphanage is called Le Toukoul, and it is very well respected, well established, has been in operation for a long time and is a big organization with satelite organizations all over the country. They are very careful not only in their ethics of how the children are acquired, but how they are placed with families as well. When I went over there, I was impressed (and a bit annoyed) at how incredibly protecive of their kids and the facility they were. The process is very carefully regulated, checked, and re-checked with each child and each family and every piece of paperwork that goes through the court process in order to make sure all is in order.

Still, this happened-- this little girl ended up coming to America thinking she was going on a trip. And somehow all the orphan dr's at the orphanage decided to go ahead and pass her off as 3 instead of 6, though they must have suspected... but the suriving parent, in the end, was the one who said she was three. So what do they do? Put in the medical report that, because of how many teeth she had and how long her arms and legs were, they thought the father was likely lying about her age?

This process is a difficult one, fraught with emotion and possible Ethical dilemmas. The idea of adoption itself is a dilemma. Who am I to take two children away from their home culture and country and bring them here? What makes America so much better? My kids miss Ethiopia. They miss their Grandmother, who was taking care of them before they came to the orphanage, until she could no longer afford to. They speak longingly about their brown mom who died. Ethiopia, for them, is a kind of fairy-tale place where everything is amazing and sparkly and full of food and friends.

They love us, too. They love America. They love thier new sisters and brother. But who am I to have caused this huge disruption in their lives?

Honestly, we can't forget the fact that these kids (a lot of them, at least) have absolutely no future. They mention this in the video in a kind of a passing, dismissive way but actually, a lot of these kids do end up on the street as child prostitutes.

Are we saying that it's better to live a life of prostitution, starvation and disease in Ethiopia than live in a family in America? I'm sorry but, we can't ignore the facts, which are that there ARE millions of orphans in Ethiopia with nowhere to go. And only a miniscule percentage of these kids actually come to America, so we can't even say that adoption is a solution to orphanhood in general.

The fractional amount of kids who end up adopted are incredibly, incredibly fortunate. My kids ended up at Toukoul, instead of in the streets. Instead of starving or dying of a wasting type of illness related to lack of food and water. When MayMay first got here, she could barely walk a block. She needed help in and out of the van. She couldn't skip, jump, or run. She was physically delayed, she was malnourished.

The first time I saw my girls I gave them each a bottle of juice--I was told that attachment is fostered if, on your first meeting, you give them something sweet, something they can drink. It's like the nursing bond.

They took those bottles and did not stop until they were empty. Then MayMay pointed at my water bottle, I gave it to her and she did not stop until that was gone too. We went to the hotel room; any water bottle in sight was confiscated, and emptied.

Food and water were all they thought about those first few days and weeks. I could see it in their faces; that grim, intense concentration on food and water. Hugging came after... it wasn't as important, as vital to their little bodies as the nutrients they had been missing.

THey have come here, and their hair has grown several inches, and they both skip, run laugh, jump now. MayMay is even starting to write letters; before she could barely draw a circle. I'd say her fine motor skills were about on the level of a 2-year old's. Sorry if that makes me sound prejudiced or dismissive of Ethiopia. I don't mean it that way.... Ethiopia is a beautiful country. A wonderful culture. I wish with all my heart that kids born in Ethiopia could stay and live that culture and live in their country, live full lives with viable options and access to enough food and health care. But the fact is, this is not the case for millions of children.

My fear at this point is that this news story will cause a fall-out that will make everyone view Ethiopian adoptions as inherrently unethical. I really hope that doesn't happen. I'm glad CWA has been exposed and hope they get kicked out of the country. What happened was really unacceptable. Tragic. In a way, the most horrible form of exploitation possible; in my mind not just because these kids were bought, stolen; but because it meant someone who really NEEDED adoption did not get that chance. A double tragedy.

Anyway, I just had to vent... I'm so glad my kids are here. They are a piece of my heart, a part of my family now.

I'm also very sad that they came here because their mom died. Their dad left. Their grandmother was living in such a state of poverty she knew she couldn't afford to keep them alive. But... the miracle is there was another option than letting them starve or abandoning them to live on the teeming streets of Addis Ababa where there would be a big chance that they would be cruelly exploited until they died from exposure or disease. The lady who ran the guest house we stayed with was helping a woman out who gave a home to "street boys," boys who lived on the street either trying to sell things or who were, yes, prostituting themselves. It is an ugly truth, something I don't like to talk about when talking about my girls' home country, but it is undeniable and it doesn't do anyone any good to gloss over the issue and dismiss it as propoganda, as CBS did in this presentation.

Yes, I'm glad that there was another option for my girls... and so very glad that I have them, as a result of that option.

Adoption is a bittersweet thing. And always will be. But it doesn't have to be unethical. Just so everyone knows... the 70 adoption agencies currently in the country were reviewed, many of them quite rigorously, in the wake of this scandal (the investigation in this report took place several months ago, and stalled the court and legal processes for many of the cases pending in the system... caused huge disruptions, actually.) And only this one agency mentioned in the report came up lacking in huge ways. There were a few other agencies that were told to change things, and when relicensure time came around, some licenses were not renewed because agencies weren't following protocol as strictly as they could. But no other agency, that they could discover after these rigourous investigations by both the Ethiopian government and the Joint Counsel on International children's Services, was actually out Buying Children. There ARE ethical adoptions out there. Most agencies follow the rules, most agencies are not out to exploit children and get money from rich Americans. But yes, if you're thinking adoption... do your research. Do a lot of it. Don't let yourself get desperate enough to be told something that seems too good to be true... as with marriage, you need to keep your eyes wide open before the process.

And then, afterwards, like marriage, I have found it's best to keep my eyes half-shut. For better or for worse, my kids are here. I'm pretty dang sure my adoption was ethical, but you can't ever know 100%. What I do know: My family was lead to this. A series of small miracles made this possible.

In the end, I trust Heavenly Father far more than any joint counsel or government agency... my girls are meant to be here. And I can allow my heart to rejoice fully in the fact that they are, and enjoy the miracle of my family. Because it is truly a miracle, having every single one of my kids here for me to love and teach. I couldn't ask for anything I want more in this life.

Feb 14, 2010

Old Spice Commercial

You know how I like to collect funny commercials?

So Skywalker and I went to see a movie the other day and this commercial played during the time everyone was waiting for the movie to start. After it finished, there was absolute silence for a second, and then everyone started laughing.

Valentine's Day

I have had good and bad valentine's days. To be honest it has felt a little creepy, sometimes, this holiday; a day when people are obligated to put on a public show of their love. On the other hand, I love being a part of this kind of "groupthink," where masses of people are all thinking of love and romance, and hopefully redeeming things like charity and love for our fellow man, in general.

Roses are awesome. But I don't really need them.
Chocolate... now that's something different. If there ever is an excuse for chocolate, then I will definitely be in on it.

For me, this has become a sweet reminder, though. Skywalker proposed to me on Valentine's Day. Yes, I know it's cliche. But it is also sweet, when you think about it. Because I have had difficult Valentine's days, that practically erases it all and makes it about "us" and not necessarily about public display and gift-giving.

One thing that does make me tender-hearted about Valentine's day is the feeling I had in my home growing up, that it was a day to show anyone you loved them. Not just a romantic partner. Mom found a way to show all of us she loved us on valentine's day. I didn't date much in high school but I got a rose from my mom. And it was just as special (perhaps more so) than when I got roses from a boyfriend or spouse. "I Love You," I say it a lot to Skywalker, and he says it a lot to me. But to have a day to focus on that love really is a good reminder. And to show those around us we love them... it's kind of a nice way of breaking the ice if we're not used to saying those words.

So it's kind of like Wesley on Princess Bride, when he said "As You Wish?" Instead, today it's "Happy Valentine's Day."

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you.

Feb 11, 2010


This woman's testimony touched me a great deal. Because I've gotten to know her (through blogging) these last couple years, and, coming from her, this is utterly amazing.

I've felt the way she does at certain points in my life.

But, the still small voice is a Real Thing. And seeking that voice, and remembering previous manifestations of the spirit, and looking forward to future ones--

That's called a testimony. And I have one.

Feb 9, 2010

winding down...

This has been an interesting week and a half. This pregnancy has seemed to fly by, because I haven't really been able to pay much attention/brood over/read every single little entry on babycenter.com or my pregnancy books. Truthfully, I haven't practiced breathing at all. Bad, I know.

But last week, my body seemed to suddenly catch up with me. I get tired and have to lay down instead of doing dishes or folding that load of laundry I planned on. I get that lame sciatic nerve pain and so I have to be careful how long I sit, or else I end up not being able to walk.

And dang it, it's inconvenient. I've got 5 kids, two of them who regularly require carrying sometimes... plus try huffing up my steep stairs to put a struggling, 40 lb 5 year old on the time-out bench because she's refusing to go herself. Try doing that and then not yelling really loud. I don't, but it takes lots of effort. Effort that makes me tired.

I'm grateful in a way for the respite from some responsibility. It gives me a chance to watch cheesy TV episodes I'd never normally watch. LIke, I'm totally put out that Ally left this week. I was rooting for her.

Also it gives my kids a chance to have lots of one-on-one cuddle time because I'm laying down a lot. So I'm still a good mom, right? In spite of the fact that I'm spending a lot of my time lying in bed, recovering from sciatica and relieving some pressure. They know where to find me.

They are watching a lot of disney movies lately, though. And Avatar. I think Loli has a crush on one of those characters... I don't know the name, they all sound similarly japanese to me. But my kids have apparently all become expert air, water, fire, and earth "benders." And they regularly demonstrate their skills to each other

Bella: look, Loli! I'm pouring FIRE right onto your HEAD."
Loli (does a graceful, tai-chi like gesture with her hands and arms.) "Well I just sent a tidal wave across the whole living room."

Well, imagination is a good thing to develop too, right?

I'm a good mom. A good, 8-months pregnant mom. At least they're not watching Television.

Feb 7, 2010

Get away with it...

This has absolutely nothing to do with feminism.

This is a question for Denice.

Why is it that jerky, immature men (and women) get away with it?


The End