Thursday, August 31, 2006

Off to New Jersey

I am leaving very very early tomorrow morning. I am driving to New Jersey with my mother, my brother J~, and my step-dad.

Jealous? Come on, 10 hours in the car? Doncha wanna come?

We have the first two seasons of Arrested Development to watch on DVD, in addition to Grosse Pointe Blank and Blazing Saddles, so, that should help.

Husband and Gabe are staying home, as are my brother's fiance and daughter. So, it'll just be mom and dad and brother and sister. Just call us the Griswolds...

The reason for the trek to New Jersey is that my cousin is getting married this weekend. On Sunday afternoon. Her fiance is Jewish. My insane grandmother is ticked off about that (but, she's bonkers - truly, certifiably nuts - so, it's hard to take her seriously). My mother is performing the ceremony. (Although, technically speaking, she is not licensed to marry people in the State of NJ, so, they are actually having a civil union at the courthouse tomorrow and my mother is only doing the religious ceremony. Which is the emotionally important part. My mother tried to get permission from the State of New Jersey to officiate, but, it was very complex. Evidently, the State of NJ is none too keene on clergy persons from other states galavanting around the Garden State marrying people willy-nilly.)

Anyway, my mother has crafted a very interesting service that incorporates some of the loveliest aspects of the Jewish service and the Episcopal service, which I think is a pretty impressive feat, considering that she is a Methodist clergy person herself. The bride and the groom are happy. No doubt everyone else will grumble, oh well, it's not their day.

Meanwhile, my insane grandmother called last night and told me she wanted me to sue the State of Ohio on her behalf, and that she would discuss it with me at the wedding. Um, yeah, I can't WAIT to find out what that's about. After crazy grandmother phoned, my sister S~ telephoned and said, "Grandma says you are suing the State of Ohio for her. That's insane, why would you do that?" Um...I haven't, actually, done that. Oy vey.

Everyone have a safe Labor Day weekend,

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sending another photo album to Lan

We are sending another photo album and some coloring books and colored pencils to Lan. All things that our "flat" which is the limitation our agency places on sending care packages to our children.

The photo album has the pictures from the first day of school and the baseball game, and also a couple more. I'll try to post them here.

I went out in the pouring rain on Monday night to drive to the Dollar Store at 8:35 PM in order to obtain Barbie labeling stickers, so, I could label our pictures with pink sparkly Barbie labels. I kept thinking, just my luck, I'll get into an accident and kill myself, and everyone will say, "what a shame, she went out in the rain, merely for Barbie stickers."

I'm actually kind of ambivalent about Barbie. I wasn't allowed to play with Barbie as a child, my parents felt she was detrimental to raising a daughter with a proper body image. I had some dolls called "Sunshine Family" instead. They lived in a VW Bus and had miniature Birkenstalks. No, I am not making that up. (See for yourself - you can still get them on ebay

But, lately, I am so appalled by the Bratz dolls that I don't know if I find Barbie upsetting anymore. Is that nuts?

Work is crazy. What else is new, right? I'm evicting a 90 year old man and I have to say, I feel like a big pile of crap about it, and I sincerely hope that Legal Aid takes his case. And let me tell you, it's pretty sad when a lawyer tells you she actually hopes that Legal Aid shows up on the other side of something...

The pictures are me and Gabe reading "Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Gabe and Husband playing a game with magnets shaped like dinosaur parts while the big orange Tom cat watches, and Gabe loving on the small auxiliary cat.


Monday, August 28, 2006

It's Monday...ho hum...

Okay, I realize (based on the 250+ comments that have been left) probably 75% of the blogging adoption community has already seen this, but, if you haven't been over to the Salsa in China website today, GO! It's amazing and wonderful news.

Our weekend was okay. On Saturday we attended a Rainbow Kids event. Rainbow Kids is kind of like Families with Children from China, except that the families have adopted from all over - mostly Asia and South America. I did find it interesting that there were no Eastern European adoptive families in the group, but, we had a very nice time and chatted with some friends from our FCC group, and I also talked to some moms who had adopted their girls from Paraguay fourteen years ago. One of the girls came up to me and said, "Are you adopting?" and I said, 'Yes, we are adopting a little girl from Vietnam." And she said, in her very teenager-like way, "That is SO awesome. Like, so so awesome." And she gave me a big smile and then asked her mom if she could have another Coke.

I overheard her mom telling another mom that the daughter (the one from Paraguay) has been begging to be allowed to have a Quinsinata (sp?). I thought this 15th birthday tradition was limited to Mexico, but, perhaps it is a tradition widespread throughout South America? The mom thought it was because all her friends had huge bat-mitzvah parties last year, and she, not being Jewish, did not get to have one. Also, she said she has been watching way to much "My Super Sweet 16" on MTV. Which made everyone in the group shudder simutaneously. That show makes me cringe.

Other than that, it was a laid back weekend. Husband didn't feel well on Saturday, and Gabe spent the night at a friend's house. I watched two movies, one by myself on Saturday night, and one with Husband on Sunday. The first one, called Brick, was very well done, but, extremely distrurbing. It was a modern day film noir, kind of riffing on a 1940's feel, but, set in a modern high school. Murder, drugs, mysterious characters, interestingly crafted dialogue. Yet, the thing that kept crossing my mind was, "where are these kid's parents?"

The second movie I absolutely loved. LOVED. It was an obscure and stylistically interesting film that I think was released last year, but, it didn't play in our area. It was called "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang", and it starred Robert Downy Jr. as a two bit thief, and Val Kilmer as a tough gay private eye. Okay, I know it sounds like an odd premise, but, it was really both funny and thrilling at the same time. It was a good mystery, with grammar jokes. I can't explain it. It just was really brilliant. But, lots of swearing (a lot) and one scene where Robert Downey Jr's finger gets cut off in a, don't watch when the kids are awake.

In adoption news, I did get verification from our agency that our dossier is in Vietnam, as we speak. Hurray!


Friday, August 25, 2006

Five Weird Things About Me

I have been tagged by Nicole , with the meme of "Five Weird Things".

So, here are five weird things you may or may not know about me.

1. I am addicted to tic-tacs, particularly white tic-tacs, but, also orange and green ones. I hate the cinnamon ones, though. I almost always have tic-tacs in my purse.

2. When I am stressed, nervous, tired or bored, I tie knots in my hair, or twirl my hair around and around my fingers. As a very young child I would pull the hair out of my head. After my parents got divorced, I stopped pulling my hair out, but, I have never been able to overcome the compulsion to twirl it between my fingers. This is such a part of me that my professors in college and law school would regularly ask me, "Do you have a question, or are you playing with your hair?" (I did ask A LOT of question in class, so, sometimes I both had a question AND was playing with my hair at the same time.)

3. I have twice been extricated from dangerous situations on the subway by Jamaican men - once in Tokyo and once in Toronto. The man in Tokyo saved me from being locked in a subway station overnight. The man in Toronto intervened in what I was really sure was going to turn into a mugging. Bless them both, wherever they may now be.

4. I failed my driving test 3 times, and didn't get my license until after I turned 18.

5. I once dated a man who is now a Catholic priest. (Evidently I was his last hurrah.) :-P

Okay, so, I tag family4peace , JDEGIRL , Duchess , spacemom , and Molly


I had a horrible nightmare last night (well, actually, very early this morning), that Gabriel was being taken away from Husband and I, and he was being adopted by a family in Italy. It was terrifying. In the dream, we were at the airport, and the Italian family was walking him to the jetway to board a plane for Florence, and Husband and I were screaming, “Gabriel, Gabriel!” and the family turned to look at us and said, “His name is Jibril now.” (This makes no sense. This is Gabriel’s name in Arabic.* Not Italian.)

I woke up, sweaty and confused. The clock said 4:59 AM. My heart was beating a cannonade inside my chest, and my mind was screaming ‘Gabriel, Gabriel, Gabriel’. I looked over at Husband, who was sleeping peacefully, and the realization that it was all a bad dream washed over me.

I got out of bed and padded down the hallway to Gabe’s bedroom. His bed was empty and the cold fear from the nightmare returned. I turned around and opened the door to the guestroom (he loves the queen-sized bed in the guestroom, sometimes he shuns his twin bed to sleep in there). I didn’t see him at first because he had pulled the duvet up over his head, and he is so thin he hardly made a lump in the bed. But, then I heard his soft snores, and I crawled into bed next to him and just listened to him breathe for a while.

I thought about Lana’s mother, and I wonder if she wakes up in the middle of the night with her heart pounding and her mind screaming “Bich Lan, Bich Lan, Bich Lan.” Does her whole body cry out for the child she left behind at the age of 7 days? How often does she think of her? She has not seen Lan since she was 5 months old (at least to the best of my knowledge, which is, admittedly, limited to the reports that my adoption agency has compiled every 12 weeks for the last 3.5 years). But, she named Lan after herself. Well, they have the same family and multiple middle names, and the birth mother’s first name also starts with “L” and ends with “N”. It must have meant something to her, it must have been important to her, to give Lan a name that matched her own.

Then I thought about Lan’s foster mother, who has been caring for Lan for three years. Twice the foster mother has been told the child will leave her to come to America, the first time just before the adoption shutdown (an adoption that was disrupted by the shutdown), and now, in the last six weeks, she has been told Lan will be adopted by my family. I wonder about her, and how much this will hurt her, when Lan leaves her. How much it will hurt Lan, to leave the only mother she knows.

There aren’t any better options for Lan. Our agency attempts family reunification and inter-country adoption first, both of which have failed. Inter-country adoption is the last chance for Lan. Lan will either be adopted by us, or she will stay in the foster care system, until the kick her out at age 13 or 14. I feel a heavy burden, that I am taking something from her, in order to give her something greater – she deserves a family of her own. We are that family, I believe that with all my heart. I only wish I didn’t have to hurt her so badly at first, in order to give her that.

These are the things I thought about, while I listened to my little man snoring. Eventually, his snores kept me from falling back to sleep, and I went back down the hall to my own bed, where I fell asleep for a few minutes.


* Jibril is what a former relative of mine used to call Gabriel, when he was a baby and a toddler. That relative has since divorced out of the family and returned to Saudi Arabia. He was very fond of Gabe, and always called him Jibril and said he was “just like the angel he is named for.” Why this came up in my dream, I have no idea.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Good Adoption News!

I just got a call from our adoption agency! Our dossier is back from the Vietnamese Embassy and will be ON IT'S WAY tomorrow to VIETNAM for translation and then submission to the officials. Yeah! This is fully one week earlier than I expected it to be back from the Embassy!



Author Christopher Moore and The Quill Awards

My favorite author, Christopher Moore, author of Coyote Blue, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, and Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff (among others), has been nominated in three categories of Quill Awards, for his latest novel, A Dirty Job. The novel was nominated in General Fiction, Audio Book, and Book of the Year. You can go here and vote - there are lots of other categories to vote in as well. But, if you love Christopher Moore like I do, or, even if you don't know Christopher Moore, but don't like any of the other books in the categories he is nominated in, VOTE FOR A DIRTY JOB! Please!


The Big Day Photos

The Big Day

We went last night to Gabriel's new school for open house. We had the opportunity to meet Mrs. VegetableName (his new teacher), who seems like a lovely and caring person. We put Gabe's school supplies in his desk, and met the class guinea pig, and I signed up to help with the class Halloween party. We put his gym shoes in his locker. We walked from the front door of the building to Mrs. VegetableName's room, so that he would know where to go when he gets off the bus.

Gabriel was excited. Husband felt reassured after meeting the teacher. I felt like my heart was breaking in two, or possibly six pieces. I knew it was irrational. We decided we were in the mood for boneless chicken wings, and went to Fricker's for dinner. There were only five tables in their non-smoking section, and all were full. We sat down in an isolated section of the restaurant where Husband and Gabe could see the baseball game on one of the televisions. The three other customers in that section of the restaurant immediately lit up and starting smoking like chimneys. None of them looked old enough to actually legally buy a pack of cigarettes. I glared at them. They continued to smoke. When the waitress came back with our drinks, I stood up and said, "I'm sorry, we're not sitting here." I pointed at the three obnoxious smokers. "I cannot breathe. I can't believe they lit up in front of a six year old. That is obnoxious." I pointed again at the offending smoke stack teenagers. (I should point out, that most of our county has a smokeless restaurant law in effect. The restaurant we happened to be in, was not covered by that law. It is so rare to see people smoking in restaurants, that I had kind of forgotten that people still do that.) The waitress said, "Let's see if a table has opened up in non-smoking." Of course one hadn't.

So, we left. We did not pay for the drinks we ordered. I've never done that before. But, it was just so obnoxious. All three of us smelled awful, just from five minutes of sitting with the smokers. I was unreasonable furious when we got in the car, and Gabe was hungry and started to cry about wanting "some chicken." I asked Husband if I was over-reacting. He said yes, but, that he supported my decision to leave the restaurant, as he would not have been able to enjoy his food. We drove the Buffalo Wild Wings, and once we all got some food in us that was not contaminated by cigarette smoke, we all felt much better.

We came home, packed Gabe's lunch, picked out his clothes for the next day, read some Harry Potter, and went to bed. I had thought Gabe would fall asleep pretty quickly, but, he was up and down several time from 10:00 to midnight. I was asleep the last time he was up, but, Husband tells me that Gabe got up, and moved from his own bedroom to the front guestroom around midnight. I guess he had trouble sleeping.

We were all up at 7:45, ate breakfast, and Gabe was ready to get on the bus 20 minutes early. He kept running to the front door and asking where the bus was, and when it finally arrived he was giddy with excitement.

Here are some photos. Yes, that is me, waiting in line to get on the bus to talk to the driver. Yes, I was the only mom to do this. But, it made me feel better. I should point out, I did, in fact, brush my hair after this photo was taken. I did not go to work looking like I had stuck my finger in a light socket.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More photos from the game

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Photos from the game

We took my nephew and my son to see the Tigers play last night. As I mentioned in my last post, my aunt and uncle and cousins (who are returning to Africa) and my grandma, my mom, another aunt, and my brother and step-dad went too. Gabriel had the best time. He loves watching baseball with Husband on television, but, this was his first trip to a big league park. It was the first time any of us have been in a long time. As we were walking into the park, Husband remarked, "The last time I was here, I was with TTT." (His friend who was killed in a car accident five years ago.) "Just a few weeks before he died. We came here, me and TTT and M~ and W~. TTT thought about eating a hotdog." (TTT was a vegetarian, that's why that's significant - for most people, thinking about eating a hot dog at a baseball game is, obviously, not at all remarkable.) Husband laughed for a minute and then his voice caught a little bit in his throat and he went to buy some peanuts.

So, it had been over five years since Husband had been to a game. And longer than that for me - in fact, the last Tiger's game I attended (and possibly the only game ever since I was a little girl) was when I was pregnant with Gabriel, in the summer of 1999. We went with my Husband's best friend M~, and a girl he was dating at the time, I cannot remember her name. Husband and M~ went to go find hotdogs and drinks, and while they were gone, a Tiger whose first name was Gabriel hit a home run. I remembered thinking, "If this baby is a boy, and we name him Gabriel (we had already picked that name), I can tell him about this night and how I watched this Tiger named Gabriel hit a home run." So, last night, I finally had the opportunity to tell him that story. It was kind of nice, but, I couldn't remember the last name of the player who hit the home run. I should ask Husband or M~. They would probably remember.

So, here are some photos. It was a late night last night, and I woke up early, and I had FOURTEEN eviction hearings today, and my feet hurt and I have a crazy day tomorrow. I should probably hit the hay, so to speak.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Kindred spirit or stalker-mommy?

There was a new family at our church this morning, who had an Asian daughter with them. She looked to be about four years old. The mother also had an older child with her, who looked enough like her that I assumed the older child was a biological child. This was enough like our situation that I wanted to chat with her after service, but, the family slipped out right after the recessional hymn and did not stay for coffee hour. (Um...yes, I know this probably sounds like an incredibly dull midwestern morning...but, it's comforting in its familiarity.) It's probably best that I didn't have a chance to say hello, because I wouldn't have had time to say more than that. Everyone was very concerned about my friend B~ and her husband, and how he is doing, so, I was busy telling everyone what was happening with them. (The good news is that the patient is doing very well and is sitting up. The bad news is some drooping on the left side of his face and some slurred speech which they are hoping will improve.) I also was put in charge of circulating a get well card for everyone to sign (there really isn't enough room for 90 people to sign a single card, but, we gave it our all.) The point is, I didn't really have any time to chat with her (the adoptive mom), even if I had wanted to.

I started to think about the fact that I am drawn to other adoptive families like a bear to honey. (Or to salmon. Or picnic baskets. Or something. Like a whatsit-sort-of-thing drawn uncontrollably toward another whatsit-sort-of-thing. You know what I mean.) It occured to me that I have begun to feel this way, when I see an apparently transracially adopted family, in much the same way that I felt drawn to other Westerners when I was living in Japan. I would notice another Westerner, and feel compelled to go over and chat. Many other Westerners felt the same way, and we would end up chatting for lengthy periods of time, and, in one case, becoming fast friends. Often, just the novelty of being able to speak at length with another native English speaker was, for lack of a better word, comforting. A recognition that we were both on the same crazy roller coaster ride, living as a gaigin in Japan, both strangers in a strange land, kindred traveling spirits.

I wonder if I will continue to feel this strange compulsion, to seek out other adoptive moms, after Lana comes home, and I wonder how I will feel about being approached, when I am waiting no longer, by the kinship-seeking waiting moms who will come after me? Will I see them as kindred spirits, or as stalker-mommies?

Moving on with other dull moments in this pedestrian midwesterner's life, the large orange cat needs $300 of dental surgery in the morning. Also, he cannot have any food after 9:oo PM this evening, so, I am sure we are going to spend the night with a large orange angry tom cat stomping around our bed and MEEEEEEOOOOOOOWW-ing pleadingly. So, that'll be great. Tomorrow morning is Gabe's "transfer student orientation" at his new school, so, I'm taking the morning off for that event (although calling a first grader a "tranfer student" seems a stretch to me). Then, I'll be going to work for two hours and leaving again, as we are scheduled to see a Tiger's game in Detroit tomorrow evening with my extended family - my aunt and uncle are headed back to Uganda in 7 days, we can't let them leave the Motor City without seeing the Tigers play. (Or, evidently, without packing them a suitcase full of Jello Pudding, Jello, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, and JIF peanut butter. And Spam (!). No, I am not kidding. These are items they still miss, even after 10 years of living in Africa. They live very very far from Nairobi and Kampala, where, evidently, one might be able to find some of these items, but, at a very high price.)


Thursday, August 17, 2006

~SOB!~ My baby is starting first grade!

We had a letter in our mailbox today that was address to Gabe. The return address was the address of the elementary school where he will begin first grade A WEEK FROM TODAY. GASP. SOB. Yikes!

The letter was signed by his new teacher, a Mrs. VegetableName. (Obviously, she is not "VegetableName" but rather, her last name, which I am declining to disclose, is the name of a common vegetable.) This made me think of Mrs. BroccoliGuy at, which made me laugh momentarily, before I threw myself on the couch and had a five minute sulk over the fact that I don't know this woman from Adam and as of next week she will be spending seven hours a day with my child! What if she won't help him tie his shoes?? What if he doesn't make any friends in his new school? What if he refuses to eat any of the food I send in his lunchbox? What if? What if? What if?

I think I am having more anxiety about this than I had about the first day I left him at the University daycare center when he was 11 weeks old. But, in truth at that time, I was sleepless, overwhelmed, exhausted, consumed by the depths of ppd, and was just going to the law school down the street, where I could conveniently run back to the center and nurse him if needed, and I had met and interviewed his caregivers. Also, Gabe wasn't really a whole person to me then. Which is not to say I wasn't invested in him, but, I didn't KNOW him the way I do know. With every fiber of my being.

So, I am little more freaked out about him starting public school than I was about him starting daycare. Which is probably crazy. But, you know, I never claimed to be rowing with both oars in the completely in the water....(Well, except for our homestudy, where I pretended to be, you know, the normalest Mrs. Normal in the capital of Normalville.)

I have to go read him some Harry Potter now, and possibly google Mrs. VegetableName and run her through the county and municipal criminal records . Because that is just that kind of crazy overprotective lawmommy I am.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

This and That, and Maybe I have some Anger Management Issues

I have spoken once more with my friend B~, and several times with B~' s mom and brother. B~'s husband, J~, came through the surgery. There was a complication, the surgeons feel they dealt with the issue, but say, "he is not through the woods yet." I am trying to send good thoughts and prayers in the general direction of Sydney, and hoping for the best. B~ did laugh at one point, because she said they kept telling her that J~ was still 'in the theatre' (i.e. operating theatre) and she said, "boy, that's a play I NEVER want tickets to." I think it's a good sign she was able to laugh for a second.


One of the partners in my firm was threatened this morning by a defendant in a civil case. (The partner from my firm was representing the plaintiff, a large bank.) Things got ugly when the jduge ruled against the defendant and in our favor, and threats were made. The defendant was "escorted" from the building by security. I was in another courtroom, just finishing up a short, boring hearing, when the partner came to find me. He had two security guards with him. The security guards were insisting on escorting us to our car, except that we had walked the 8 blocks from our firm to the courthouse. The deputies insisted that we call someone from our firm to pick us up, because the defendant was standing across the street from the courthouse and they did not want him to follow J~ (the partner from my firm) and try to make good on his veiled threats. (The defendant was a militiaman, who was insisting that the Note and Mortgage attached to his house were illegal and moot. Some crazy business.) So, anyway, we had to call another attorney from our firm to come get us, and the security guards escorted us to the car. It was surreal. I've never had an armed guard before. The doors into our offices are locked and the security guard in the lobby of our building took the name of our firm off the building directory for the next 48 hours or so. Just...bizarre.


I was totally and completely outrage by a letter to the editor in our local paper this morning. The writer, who, I honestly don't think makes a lot of sense, states,

Walter Cronkite is still taking credit for helping us lose the Vietnam War. Nice going, Walter. You are a wonderful patriot.
Isn't it amazing how we lost the war without losing the battle? If it weren't for the steadfastness of George Bush, we would have already lost in Iraq the same way, with the help of the same breed.
If the left can invent a word like McCarthyism to quell anti-Communism, why don't we give "Uncle" his due and coin a word like "Cronkitis" to define leftist journalism?
I just finished reading Bamboo Gulag. It's mostly first-person accounts of what happened to the South Vietnamese people after the fall of Saigon. Yes, Virginia, there was a bloodbath. I'm sure it was never mentioned in the New York Times. These people now live in a hopeless situation where their only hope is to acquire some form of watercraft and escape, possibly to America.

I read this and white hot fury crawled through me. First and foremost, I wondered, WHY WOULD OUR NEWSPAPER PUBLISH SUCH A DISJOINTED POINTLESS MESS? and then, HOW DARE HE? HOW DARE HE CALL MY DAUGHTER'S PEOPLE HOPELESS? I wanted to find him and throw eggs at his house. I showed the letter to Husband. He took larger issue with the implication that the media is responsible for what is happening in Iraq, and I was like, 'HUSBAND!! He is calling our daughter's countrymen hopeless!! He is calling them "these people"!! Who does he think he is???!!??"

And honestly, does he believe the Vietnamese are still escaping Vietnam in boats? (And I am not discounting the tragedy of the Vietnam War, or the plight of the boat people, which was very very dire, about which you can read here - I am just truly wondering what decade this a** is living in and who the hell he thinks he is to pass judgment about it.

So, it's possible I am hypersensitive right now, to anything referencing Vietnam, or possibly I need some kind of anger management. It's also probably good that the letter writer lives in a neighborhood far far away from mine, so I will not be tempted to go lob eggs at him.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I cannot believe this day

My day started with me having an argument with a client about whether or not she should fight to regain custody of her children. The simple answer is that she will lose. It is an answer that makes me sad, but, the case is complex and that answer is, sadly, the truth.

Immediately after that, my assistant buzzed me and said, "B~" is on the phone for you. I lunged at the phone. B~ is one of my very best girlfriends, and she and her husband moved to Austrailia last week (for his job, he has been relocated for one to two years), and I had not heard from her since she got on the plane for Sydney. She has not answered my emails.

I heard B~'s voice cracking and shaking from half a world away. What's wrong? Oh dear God, what's wrong??

What's wrong is that her husband is having emergency brain surgery in the morning. Well, in the morning in Sydney, which is 6:00 PM Eastern Time this evening. They've been in Austraila for SIX DAYS. And he collapsed and had stroke like symptoms, which improved dramatically and went away, but, they ran a bunch of tests, and then they told them that he had "a time bomb in his brain", an anerysm (sp?) and that it had to be operated on.

And then, then they threw poor B~ out of his room. The told her she had to go to the "dormitory" attached to the hospital, and wait there for the night, and get some sleep, but, NO, SHE COULD NOT STAY WITH HER HUSBAND.

On the other side of the world, I could hear my friend's world falling apart. She asked me, "why can't I be with him, why can't I be with him?" I had no answer. I asked her where her children were, and she said that her husband's company was hiring a nanny for them, but, in the meantime they were with another American couple employed by the same corporation that employ's B~'s husband. "I left my children with total strangers" she wailed. But B~, it's better for them to be there, than to be at that hospital in the middle of the night.

I listened to her cry and I wanted to crawl through the phone line and wrap myself around her and take care of her. "What can I do for you, B~, what can I do??"

So, I did the only things I could do. I called our priest, Father Paul, (B~ and I go to the same parish) and told him what was happening. He sent an email to every person in our parish, asking them to pray tonight at 6:00 PM. (Which will be when the surgery is starting).

I called her former neighbor, to let her know. And I took care of a small legal matter regarding the sale of their home here in the US. These small things do not seem like enough. Not by a long shot.

I have nothing more I can do for her, not from here. And I feel so helpless. And I hate that she is on the other side of the world, and I cannot hold her hand and tell her that I believe her husband will be okay. I hate that I cannot be there for her.


Monday, August 14, 2006

What was I thinking? Somebody hit me with a stick...

I was sitting in my family room this evening, feeling kind of anxiety ridden about our adoption process (no real reason, no news either good or bad, just a general kind of totally freaked out anxiety that runs the lines of "where is Lana right now and what is she doing and what did she eat today and did she have a bath and what if she hates us" and etc. etc.)

So, I turn on the television to take my mind off the fact that I am having ANXIETY. So, of course The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is a rerun, and the re-run of Law and Order SVU that is running on the USA network is one I have seen two times, so, WHAT DO I CHOOSE TO WATCH?

"The Miracle of Stairway B" on the History Channel. Yes, I know. What a stupid thing for an already anxiety ridden person to watch. (It's about the 14 people who survived having the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapse on top of them on September 11. Somehow, this little pocket of Stairway B didn't collapse, and 14 people survived. And they kept showing all the footage of that day, and showing the girlfriends and the wives, who didn't know their husbands and boyfriends were alive in the Tower, they were told they were missing and presumed dead, and it was just so emotional.)

My husband kept coming in to the room and going, "this is just going to make you cry."

Of course he was right.

Note to self - do not watch footage of national tragedies whilst worrying over adoption. Just for future reference.


Weekend wasteland and GELLATO!! Yes, Gellato!

I spent most of the weekend feeling lousy and sick and alternately lying on the couch or napping in our guestroom.

I finished reading Lawrence Block's newest novel "Hit Parade" - which is his third book in his saga about a hit man named John Keller. They are dark (well, they ARE about a guy who kills people for a living) and darkly comic, and sometimes sad, but, I recommend them.

Then, I began reading a book by an author named Jesse Kellerman, called Sunstroke. I was hesitant to pick this book up, because it is by the son of the famous husband and wife mystery/thriller writers, Jonathan Kellerman and Faye Kellerman. (Mr. Kellerman writes the Alex Delaware series, and Mrs. Kellerman writes the Peter Decker/Rina Lazurus mysteries). Anyway, I saw them (both of them) last year at a Q&A and book signing, and they mentioned that their son, Jesse, had a book coming out. (They also mentioned that 3 of their 4 children have the same birthday - i.e. same day, different year, which I think is darn odd.) Anyway, I figured that the book by Jesse Kellerman might suck, and that maybe he only got it published because of who his parents are, AND I WAS SO WRONG. Good grief this BOOK IS SO GOOD. It's a mystery, but, WOW. He's good. Really good. So, my apologies to Jesse Kellerman for thinking his book would probably suck. It's good stuff. (I should probably extend the same apology to Christopher Rice, who I avoided reading at first, and who is actually, in my humble opinion, a better writer than his mother, Anne Rice. Well, maybe not better than Anne Rice at the top of her game, but, definitely better than anything she has written in the last decade.) (Okay, not that I think these authors give a rip what a lawyer in the middle of nowhere thinks of their work...)

I tried to watch a movie called Hell Cab, which was so depressing I had to turn it off and put it back in it's Netflix sleeve and send Gabriel to the mail box with it. I had ordered it because it allegedly had John Cusack in it, who I love. But, I didn't get far enough into the movie to see him, or anything else that didn't make me want to anything other than drown myself in the bathtub. So, I turned it off.

David and I then watched V for Vendetta, which was excellent, but which is the kind of thing that could terrify a person who is paranoid about both terrorists and the political climate anyway (as I am), so, after that I had to watch some stand up comedy of Ron White on comedy central. That man makes me laugh very hard. (He's one of the ones from Blue Collar Comedy, and I don't know why I think he is hysterical, but, I do. He slays me.)

Yesterday evening, I was finally feeling a little more human, but didn't want to cook, so, Husband, Gabe and I went out for some excellent Lebanese food at The Grape Leaf. (There is awesome Lebanese food to be had in NW Ohio, let me tell you.) They have a kids menu, so, Gabe can get Mac N Cheese, and then he grazes on our chicken schwarma and rice or beef gahlabba.

After dinner we went to see if the rumors we had been hearing were true - and they were! Gellatto! There is now a Gellatto shop in our city! So, we got some very nice gellato and came home, to swim for a little bit and then watch Iron Chef America.

So, except for the fact that I felt like crap, I can't really complain about having a nice relaxing weekend.


Saturday, August 12, 2006


My real life friend Anya asked in the comments section in my "How Much?" post (and forgive me for not linking to this, I am posting from home and therefore do not have the instructions that Susan over at Persimmon&Pink sent to me on how to do links), what our expected timeline is at this point.

So, I am going to put my entire timeline (actual to this point) and expected (from today forward). (Some dates I didn't write down, so, they are estimated).

December 27, 2005 - received information packs from two agencies

Early January, 2006 - decided to go with our agency because of their reputation for ethical adoptions and their history (to the best of my knowledge they are the oldest working international adoption agency in the US). (Also, all three social service agencies I spoke to recommended them.)

Early January, 2006 - sent appliation to our agency and gathered paperwork for homestudy

Late January, 2006/Early Febuary, 2006 - found the waiting child, C~H~Dung on our agency's waiting child web site, filled out application for that child

February, 2006 - first meeting with social worker for homestudy

February 23, 2006 - learned that we had not been matched to C~H~Dung, hearts broken

March, 2006 - further visits with social worker for homestudy

April 11, 2006 - homestudy approved by agency

April 11, 2006 - I600A application sent to USCIS office in Cleveland

April to June, 2006 - agency sends the files of several children, Tam, Tung, JianXi, Tram, and Yen. Our hearts break with each file. We halfheartedly decide we will move forward with Tram, a 16 month old with a mild medical condition we feel we can handle. (We just don't feel like we can keep looking at files and continuing to say "no".)

June 14, 2006 - I call our agency's waiting child program to ask more questions about Tram, when, for reasons I don't entirely understand, instead of asking about Tram, I say, "what happened to waiting child G05-XYZ?" (A child who had been on their website since December 2005, we had asked about her several times, but, each time, other families were interested in her, and after our experience with C~H~ Dung, we didn't feel like we could handle competing with another family.) Our agency tells us that, in fact, all three of the other interested families have decided they wanted younger children, and she (agency representative) had been meaning to call me about her, but, she was under the impression we were seriously considering Tram. The hair on my arms and the back of my neck stands up. I have feeling of something hugely important happening. Agency overnights us the file of the G05-XYZ.

June 15, 2006 - we fall in love with the child whose photo we had been looking at on line for five months.

June 19, 2006 - we are officially matched to N~T~B~Lan, our little girl.

June 22, 2006 - finally receive request to come to Cleveland for USCIS fingerprinting

June 27, 2006 - go to Cleveland for fingerprinting

Early July, 2006 - receive I171-H form from the USCIS, favorable approval to adopt an orphan overseas

July, 2006 - gather dossier documents, take many many aspirin

July 25, 2006 - send dossier to agency

August 1, 2006 - agency sends dossier to Vietnamese Embassy in Washington D.C.

estimates from this point on:

September 1 to September 14, 2006 - agency will receive our dossier back from embassy, and send to their office in Vietnam for translation.

September 14 (earliest possible) to September 28 (hopefully latest possible) - document finishes tranlation

September 21 (earliest possible) to October 12 (hopefully latest possible) - our family dossier should be approved by the central government Vietnamese officials, and provincial officials will begin review of Lan's dossier

November 21 (earliest possible) to January 20 (hopefully latest possible) Da Nang provinicial authorities will approve Lan's dossier and approve us for travel

December 21 (earliest possible) to Feb 20 (hopefully latest possible) - travel to get Lan and bring her home.

Obviously roadblocks and red tape can rear their ugly heads at any time. So, in all honest, this is what I am hoping for. The best I can hope for is to have our daughter home in early January (and please somebody tell me, can I claim the tax exemption for her if I adopt her the last week of December but don't bring her home until January???) I am desperately hoping to have her home by March 1. If I don't, I think I will need some serious Valium.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Twice in a Lifetime

I received this picture today in my email inbox, from my friend D~, who was left a widow and a single mom of a newborn, five years ago, at the ripe old age of 28. It was taken last Saturday, when she married the wonderful J~. Thus proving that sometimes true love can happen twice in a lifetime.

I love you D~. I am so happy for you!


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

On my mind today - Hello Kitty Underpants and God's body

I was out doing some shopping last night. Actually, my whole family was out shopping. Husband and Gabriel met me after work for one of our favorite dinners out - the Pizza Hut Tuesday night dinner buffet. (We cannot do this very often, because it is really not very healthy to have all you can eat pizza and cinnamon bread sticks!) But, anyway, last night we went to Pizza Hut and then shopping, where we found some pants and things that Gabriel needs to start first grade, since he is growing like a weed, yet, not actually gaining a lot of weight, so, he looks like a stiff breeze could blow him over and all the pants he has are now "highwaters". (I swear I DO FEED HIM. Last night he had THREE PIECES OF PIZZA and three regular breadsticks and two cinnamon breadsticks. And fully a quarter of a cantaloupe for bedtime snack. So, no one can accuse me of not feeding him.) Anyway, we needed size 6 pants that had an adjustable waist (you know the kind, with the sort of elastic doo-hickey inside the waist, so the waist can be pulled smaller?)

Anyway, I have not bought many things for Lana, because...well, because I am afraid of jinxing this whole thing, if that makes sense. She has a closet and a dresser, and there are actually a lot of clothes for her, because of my friend B~ and my assistant S~, who have given me so many nice nice things their girls have outgrown. She should be in a 3T right now, based on her most recent height and weight info. But, I haven't purchased much, save the pajamas and shirts that I mentioned a few days ago. Last night, I found on super-triple clearance, the MOST ADORABLE BATHING SUIT, in a size 4T, with Strawberry Shortcake on it. Also, it had a little SKIRT. Like a bathing suit cover up. It was $6.60!! HOW COULD I NOT BUY IT??

Then, we were buying some new underpants for Gabe, and I made my way over to the little girls section. I thought Lana might like some Hello Kitty underpants. (I was assuming I should be able to find Hello Kitty underpants, because my only previous experience with girls underpants (aside from my own childhood during which I was I forced to wear those white briefs with yellow or pink flowers on them, as was every other little girl in the 1970s) was when we lived in Japan and I taught many many little girls, who, terrified of the tall blonde English teacher (me) would hold the tops of their dresses over their heads to hide, thus exposing their underpants, which were, 99% of the time, Hello Kitty or Hello Kitty's friends. (Incidently, Hello Kitty, in Japan, is called "Kiti-chan". If you ever, you know, NEED to know that kind of trivia.)

So, I was thinking I should buy some Hello Kitty panties, and then I didn't see any Hello Kitty panties available for purchase. And THEN, I started wondering if little girls in Vietnam even wear underpants. (Boy that phrase is probably going to cause a hundred hits to this site from perverts of all sorts!) I don't know...does anyone know about the undergarment habits of the Vietnamese?

So, that's mainly what is on my mind today. So, advice, please, on what kind of underpants my child will need. Keep in mind that she will be four in November.

Gabriel evidently has deeper things on his mind, since he woke me at 11:00 last night with the following question:

"After Jesus died, did his WHOLE SELF come back to life, or just his spirit?"

I said, so eloquently from being woken up, "Whu? What? What do you mean?"

"What happened to his BODY??" Gabe asks.

The temptation to tell him to go back to bed and call his grandma in the morning was strong. (What, after all, is the point of having a mother who is a minister if I cannot foist these questions off onto her??)

"Umm...His body came back to life, too." I said. "I think he took it with him to heaven when he left."

"What usually happens to bodies?" my child asks me. (I WAS ASLEEP!!! DID I MENTION THAT??)

"Our bodies stay here." I say, as I attempt to snuggle into my pillow and find my way back to sleep.

"Why?" he asks.

"" I said.

At which point he did.

Our phone then rang at 5:05 AM. It was someone asking for "Debbie". I wanted to scream and yell and ask why the hell anyone would be looking for someone named Debbie at 5:05 AM!!* What kind of business could he possibly have with her at such an hour?!? But, I was too tired to throw a fit. But, I couldn't really fall asleep again, so, I'm tired today - too many sleep interuptions.


*I suppose it is possible that he had a perfectly logical reason to be calling someone named Debbie at 5:05 AM. I once called my friend M~ at 3:45 AM to ask her if she had any nail polish remover in her suitcase. But, we were both catching a 6:00 AM international flight, so, calling her at that time of night made sense, since she was awake. So, maybe the misdialed Debbie was catching an early flight with this guy...who knows?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Meme From my Friend Terri

1. FIRST NAME? Gretchen
2. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? My first name is just one my parents liked. My middle name is Faith, from 1st Corinthians (Faith, Hope, Love)
3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? About three weeks ago when my health insurance company did something so unbelievably stupid that it made my head spin and it took me two hours to sort it out
6. KIDS? Yes, Gabriel age 6, and attempting to navigate a mountain of red tape to bring home Lana, age 3.5, from Vietnam
8. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? Yes, both on paper and a blog on the internet
11. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Not a chance in hell
14. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? I wish I was stonger
16. SHOE SIZE? 8
17. RED OR PINK? Red
19. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My grandpa
21. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Black sandals and black capris (it's a casual day at work)
22. LAST THING YOU ATE? Half a chicken pot pie
25. FAVORITE SMELL? lavendar
27. THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE YOU ARE ATTRACTED TO? Something about the expression on their face
28. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? Yes, definitely. I wish she was closer.
29. FAVORITE DRINK? (with alcohol) Pineapple juice with coconut rum; (without alcohol) sweet tea
30. FAVORITE SPORT? swimming; tennis
31. EYE COLOR? Green
32. HAT SIZE? No clue
33. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? No, and no glasses either
34. FAVORITE FOOD? Cheese pizza; my mom's roast beef with gravy
35. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDING? Happy endings....scary ones give me bad dreams
36. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED AT THE MOVIES? Pirates of the Caribbean 2
39. HUGS OR KISSES? Um...both...depends on who from
40. FAVORITE DESSERT? Peanut butter pie
43. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? Flordia Roadkill by Tim Dorsey; Attaching in Adoption by Deborah Gray; God's Politics: How the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It by Jim Wallis; Harry Potter 1 (reading it aloud at night to Gabe)
44. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Frank Lloyd Wright design
45. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT? Without a Trace (rerun on TNT); The Daily Show with Jon Stewart; Anthony Bourdain No Reservations

47. ROLLING STONE OR BEATLES? Um...neither. Is Alison Kraus an option?
49. WHAT'S YOUR SPECIAL TALENT? Um...I could do an eviction hearing practically in my sleep?

How much?

I have had a few people ask me “how much is this adoption costing you?” I don’t really consider these questions rude. For one thing, I think most people who know me know that I am not generally uncomfortable discussing money (although I understand that some people are). Also, I think the people who have asked are either adopting themselves from a different agency, or seriously considering whether they have the funds to adopt.

So, I’ve decided to go out on a limb and be brutally honest. (Also, my husband, out of curiosity, asked me last night exactly how much we have spent so far.*)

So, this is how it breaks down:

1. Application to agency $200.00
2. Payment to homestudy agency for homestudy $1,200.00
3. Three copies of birth certificates of Husband and self $97.00
4. Ohio criminal background check for Husband and self $64.00
5. Dossier fee to agency $2,795.00
6. Three certified copies of marriage certificate $6.00
7. Immunizations (so far) $590.00
8. Application to USCIS (I600A form) $685.00
9. Payment to International Adoption Doctor $150.00
10. Local police background check (two adults) $10.00
11. Ohio county certification (10 documents) $10.00
12. Ohio Sec. Of State certification (10 documents) $50.00
13. Michigan Sec. Of State Certification (2 docs X 2) $4.00
14. Parking ticket incurred while at Michigan SoS $10.00
15. Program fee to agency, which is almost $2,000 less than
our agency’s usual fee for Vietnam, because Lan was a
waiting child, and which I am getting ready to send $8,500.00

So, the grand total so far is $14,371.00

Obviously, there will be significant travel costs in addition to this amount. We are eligible for a roughly $10,000 tax credit in the year that the adoption is finalized (and we can carry over any left over tax credit for at least one more year, I’m not completely clear on that), and we may (and I stress may) be eligible for a $2,000 county grant – however, our income may exclude us from that.

Anyway, for people considering this, that’s the breakdown and the bottom line, at this point of the game.

For comparison, our health insurance carrier paid roughly $10,500 for my pregnancy with Gabriel and his delivery and our care for four days in the hospital (the most expensive part being the 8 hours Gabe spent in the “transitional nursery” after his birth, which is one step down from NICU – owing to the cord incident at his birth).


* being as we were bored and upset about gas prices after watching the news, I also figured out last night how much we spent last July on gasoline, as compared to how much we spent this July. If you are interested, we spent $224 on gas last July, with an average cost per fill up of $17.05 (this is actually skewed a little high, owing to two fillups in Chicago, which were $5.00 more expensive than any other fill up). We drove to Chicago and back last July, as well as to my friend H~’s wedding in northern Michigan (about 5 hour car trips in each direction, for a total of 20 hours of car trips). We spent $175 on gas this July, with an average fill up costing $25.90, and we haven’t traveled anywhere this summer – so, we filled up less than half the number of times we filled up last summer, and spent only $50 less. It’s just…depressing. And we both own cars that get roughly 30 mpg. I cannot imagine what people are doing who have cars that don’t get that kind of gas mileage – pulling their hair out, I guess.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Here, idiot, have a clue

Allow me to share a piece of legal advice - abso-frigging-lutely free. I am basing this advice on a courtroom incident I recently observed and feel compelled to share.

Do not sit in the gallery of the courtroom and attempt to dissuade your little sister, who is taking a very generous plea deal for involuntary manslaughter*, that she should not, in fact, do so. The judge does not appreciate unsolicited advice from the gallery (or from anywhere for that matter.) After the judge leaves the bench, DO NOT, under ANY circumstances, stand up and yell something that sounds like, "KICK HIS ASS."

Further, when the courtroom deputy tells you to sit down and control yourself, do not turn to said deputy and say, "YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO." (, yes, he CAN tell you what to do. It's pretty much his job description.)

Thereafter, and I mean this SINCERELY, do not "put up your dukes" as if you want to go two or three rounds with the courtroom deputy.

After the courtroom deputy restrains you against the wall of the courtroom, you should not tell him that you will "never f**king never stupid pig a**hole" put your hands behind your back. You should not, at this point, attempt to bite the deputy.

After the deputy and three of his law enforcement friends from other courtrooms have thrown you to the ground in front of the family of the victim that your sister killed, you should not continue to fight them, because, they will pretty much get their way at that point, and you will be handcuffed. Four deputies against one idiot are bad odds for the idiot.

As you are hauled to your feet and taken to the jail, that is conveniently located right up the block from the courthouse, you really should not continue to express your desire to cause bodily harm to the judge. That's the kind of thing that gets extra charges added to the list of charges you are quickly compiling.

Oh, and one last thing. When you need a lawyer, under no circumstances, whatsoever, should you ask for me, Lawmommy.

*thereby getting only 12 years and avoiding a life sentence for murder

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Cake

Having no choice, I was forced to leave work at 2:45 yesterday, in order to go home and frost the cake. My assistant, S~, thought this was hysterical. However, she also looked relieved because this also meant I would stop putting files on her desk for her to work on. So, it was kind of a bonus for both of us. :-)

Anyway, I came home, and made the frosting. Four pounds of powdered sugar, a pound of butter and various other sundry ingrediants and a small breakdown/freak out (regarding the fact that the cake was melting) on my part, resolved by Husband putting the cake in the freezer for half an hour and our taking a 30 minute respite in the pool, we finished frosting the mildly frozen cake (much easer that way).

The cake was very plain - two 9x13 cakes, stacked on top of eachother, with a layer of frosting between, covered in sunny yellow icing. Plain, but, evidently tasty, since it is all gone. There are two eggless chocolate cupcakes left over, but, I must confess, eggless chocolate cake is kind of dry. My niece, the one who is allergic to eggs, seemed to like them, though, and several of her cousins ate them as well, which is good because it doesn't make her feel quite so left out and/or different. (She is severely and dangerously allergic to both eggs and all soy products, so, her diet is very limited, which is hard, I think, when you are 11 years old, and have to read the ingrediants of every single thing you put in your mouth.)

Anyway, I would say the surprise birthday party was a success, and it was good to see everybody. My aunt K~, the one who is living in China for two years, said she will try to meet us in Hanoi when we are there to get Lana*, which I think will be nice. (She also looks almost like my mom's twin, although they are not twins, they look very very much alike. We joked that we could tell Lana that she was meeting Grandma...(my son and my nieces and nephews usually call her "the other Grandma" when they see her, because she does look so much like my mom.)

Well, that's about all there is to report,


*although Lana is living in Da Nang, we will have to travel from DaNang to Hanoi in order to get her visa from the US Embassy, in order for us to leave the country.

Friday, August 04, 2006

I want to slap somebody

I just saw this article about the reaction of readers to a baby breastfeeding on the cover of Babytalk magazine.

One reader actually responded, ""Gross, I am sick of seeing a baby attached to a boob," the mother of a four-month-old said."

GROSS! She described the photo as GROSS! She also stated that she is "sick" of seeing a baby attached to a boob. Perhaps it is her own baby she is sick of being attached to her own boob?

I was astonished that 57% of people polled are opposed to women breastfeeding in public. WHAT?? Sorry, but, babies get hungry in public. I nursed my son in all sorts of public places, from the Detroit Institute of Art to the midway at an amusement park. I never exposed myself in the year that Gabe nursed. Why should a baby eating the way God and nature intended, offend anybody?

I'm not suggesting that all mothers should nurse their babies. But, I am suggesting that people, all people, should be just FINE with mothers who choose to nurse, nursing their babies. The idea that someone would actually hide the picture of the nursing baby from her husband makes me just...appalled.

That's all.


Let them eat cake

I'm not sure what I was thinking when I insisted that I would make the cake for my grandmother's surprise birthday party.

First, let me say that it is REALLY going to be a surprise, because her birthday isn't until next month. However, this weekend is the first time in five years that my mother and three of her sisters will be in the same place at the same time. (Unfortunately, the fourth sister will not be's a long story, but, suffice it to say that she was not able to come home.) But, anyway, my Aunt S~ and Uncle L~, who have been living in Uganda for the past ten years, are home for a few months. (My uncle traveled to Rwanda eleven years ago for a three week trip with Doctors Without Borders. He came home and said that he had to go back to Africa, that the need for doctors was so immense, he could not ignore the need. So, he and my aunt and their three children left their comfortable life in Houston*, and went to Uganda. My uncle has been working at a teaching hospital and running an AIDS clinic. My aunt does things like teach about the importance of clean drinking water and woman's health issues. (She had to homeschool their three children until they got to be high school age, at which point they went to a boarding school in Kenya.) They have come home for a few months to bring their second daughter home to go to college. She will be joining her older brother at a small liberal arts college in Michigan.)

Additionally, my Aunt K~ and Uncle P~, who have been living in China for the past year, have also come home. They normally live in Los Angeles, so, we don't see them very often anyway, but, none of us have seen them for more than a year. So, they came back from China, visited their (grown) children in L.A., and now they are visiting us before returning to China for another year. My uncle related. I have no idea, to be honest. I just know his company said, "we need you in Beijing for two years" and he said, "okay."

The point of this is, these people have been scattered across the globe, and for this weekend, we will all be together (save Aunt J~, who is stuck in Washington), so, a surprise birthday party was in order for my grandmother.

At which point I insisted that I would make the cake. Why? Because I am insane, that's why. No, because I hate store-bought cake? Maybe. And even my mother, who is a cake maker extraordinaire (she made all the wedding cakes for my and my siblings weddings, and is the standard cake baker for most family birthdays and christenings and wedding and baby showers) said, "why don't you just put whipped cream and fruit on the cake and call it a day?" But no, I insisted that I would make the cake, and I would FROST IT, with my mother's secret frosting recipe, and it would be delicious, although not particularly attractive, since I lack my mother's artistic ability. (You are wondering why my mother isn't frosting the cake herself, aren't you? Long story...)

The cake is baked, as well as a dozen eggless chocolate cupcakes, as my niece is allergic to eggs, so all family gatherings that involve cake must also involved eggless cupcakes. They are not frosted. I am at work. The party is at six pm.

This is a conundrum of the first order....


I'll let you know how it turns may, in fact, be neccessary to just throw whipped cream and fruit on the cake and call it a day...


*to the extent that living in Houston could be called "comfortable". My aunt insists that living in Texas was good practice for living in Africa. Although she did almost always have working electricity and plumbing in Texas, and she never had to butcher her own dinner...also, she said the bats in Texas are considerably smaller

Thursday, August 03, 2006

World Still Mad

I'm finding it increasingly difficult to watch the news. The weight of the suffering in the middle east lies heavily on my heart, sometimes if I am listening to NPR or watching CBS Evening News, I feel like I cannot breathe.

I'm not sure if this is directly related to the fact that I know Lana is out there and I have no control over her life or well being at this moment. Logically, I know she is half a world away from the fighting the middle east, but, she is still within striking distance of Crazy Man Kim Jong Il, and I wouldn't put it past him to use the distraction in the middle east to start lobbing rockets at his neighbors, because, truly he is whack job.

I feel slightly bad about the fact that the situation in Cuba is vaguely reminding me of the Richard Dreyfuss movie, Moon Over Parador, and I start to giggle a little bit whenever I hear about Castro and his brother. (Which is not to say that I think Fidel and his brother are funny, just that I think Richard Dreyfuss is funny in that particular movie. I'll shut up now.) (Also, I have not let go of the hope that someday my beach loving self will have the opportunity to walk along the beaches of Cuba, which are supposed to be among the most beautiful in the world.)

I am trying to concentrate on things I have control of, like my caseload.

Yesterday, I was in the middle of real estate closing, when my cell phone rang. It was my assistant, S~, who said that one of my clients was on the phone, insisting it was a "matter of life and death". It was an ugly matter, involving a custody dispute that involves a young teenager with a life threatening condition. The child hates to be with one of the parents, and, in my opinion, manipulates her condition to make herself more ill when she is with that parent.

It was awful to be in the middle of the situation yesterday, and I felt totally helpless. I am not permitted to speak to the child directly. I could not get a hold of the guardian ad litum (the attorney who is appointed by the court to represent the children), and ended up doing an emergency page of the child's physician, who said he would handle the matter from that point. In the meantime, I tried to finish the real estate closing. It was a rough afternoon.

Anyway, in adoption news, our dossier is at the Vietnamese embassy in Washington D.C. for authentification. My agency estimates it will be there for four to six weeks.

That's all the news for now,

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What the heck is wrong with me?

I said the rudest thing yesterday and I just can't believe it came out of my mouth.

Conversation between Lawmommy (LM) and Across the Street Neighbor (ASN)

LM: Hey A~! How are feeling?

ASN: Lousy, it's so hot and I feel so huge.

LM: When is that baby due?

ASN: September 11.

LM: (Lawmommy makes pained sad face). Maybe he'll come a day or so early.

ASN: Um...maybe. I've got to go back inside, it's too darn hot out here.

I CANNOT BELIEVE I actually made an "eeewwwwwwwwww" sound when told of her due date. What is WRONG with me?

And now I am worried that she thinks I made an eewwww sound because I think she is so huge she doesn't look like she has six more weeks to go, when, in fact, I made the eeeeeewwww sound because, well, what an unfortunate birth date to have...

I'm going to remind myself not to open my mouth again without thinking...ever.


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