Monday, February 26, 2007

In which Lawmommy swears profusely and complains about the health care industry

Husband and Gabriel and I had to take Lana to the ER last night.

What a phenomenal waste of our time.

I have rarely ever been so tempted to use the word “fuckwit” in public, but, last night…


To begin with, Lana had a fever of 105.5.

This is a high fever as far as I am concerned. She had also had three doses of Tylenol at the point she was registering 105.5.

So, off we went to the E.R.

They looked at my child. They looked at me. I told them she only speaks Vietnamese so, no, I don’t know if she is hurting in any particular place.

“Why is she here with you?” I am asked.

“She’s my daughter, we adopted her 7 weeks ago in Da Nang, Viet Nam .” ("Viet Nam" Lana helpfully pipes up with a correction of my pronunciation of her homeland, a point about which she is still sensitive.)

“Do you have your adoption paperwork with you?”

I stare at the man in stunned silence for a moment. “No, I do not have my adoption decree with me, since it isn’t something that I CARRY AROUND IN MY PURSE.”

“We cannot treat her without seeing her adoption paperwork,” says Bureaucratic Fuckwit #1.

“Excuse me?” says I.

“You cannot authorize treatment for this child without proof that you are her adoptive mother. Obviously you are not her mother. So we need proof.”

(Obviously, because, you know, I am all of a sturdy-blonde-Nordic-Viking type and not a dainty Asian woman? Is THAT what he was pointing out? Really? Is it REALLY that OBVIOUS to EVERYONE that this tiny black-haired child didn't spring from my loins?? Gee, I didn't notice!)

It is at this point that I am tempted to lean over the desk and grab the Fuckwit by the throat and start squeezing.

“I AM her MOTHER,” I seethe at him through clenched teeth.

“Well, no, you just admitted that you AREN’T her MOTHER, that you adopted her in Vietnam,” the idiot fuckwit goes on.

“At which point I BECAME her MOTHER. For Pete’s sake, no one has ever asked me to prove that I am HIS mother.” I point at Gabriel, who looks up at the guy with a face so like my own that guy looks at me and shrugs, like I have just made his point for him.
“Right, but, you aren’t her mother, so, you know, I need proof that you adopted her.”

(Now, someone dearly needs to explain to this ASSHOLE that adoptive mothers are MOTHERS, but, it wasn’t going to be ME. Not with a child running a 105.5 fever.)

“If you are suggesting that I somehow SMUGGLED a Vietnamese child into the country you are sadly mistaken. I am her MOTHER. The adoption decree is downtown in my law office, half an hour from here. Do you really want me to go get it, or do you want to figure out what is wrong with MY DAUGHTER?”

A supervisor nurse comes over, and she says in his ear, “drop it, Jack. Just drop it. If she says she’s the kid’s mother, just let it go.”

We wait for 20 minutes and they finally call for Lana. At which point the fuckwittery just got worse.

It gives me a headache to contemplate, but, we went from being told she had a kidney infection and needed to be admitted to the Children’s Hospital across town, to being told that she might have pneumonia, to being told that she DIDN’T have a kidney infection to being told that she DIDN’T have an ear infection – NO! WAIT! She DOES have an ear infection, to horrifically traumatizing her by trying to take her blood, then coming back and saying the blood they got was useless and they needed MORE BLOOD…

At which point Husband, who normally leaves medical decision making to me said, “No. No. You are NOT traumatizing this child ANY MORE tonight. You are not coming at her with any more needles when you acknowledge that she is already dehydrated and you couldn’t get any useful sample out of her an hour ago. No. NO MORE. We are going home and we will see our doctor in the morning.”

They insisted that she had an ear infection and gave her a dose of amoxicillin and a list of things to look out for if she had an allergic reaction to it. We kept her fever down with Tylnenol and Motrin, and this morning, when we finally saw a doctor who has been practicing medicine for more than 5 minutes, we were told that she DID NOT have an ear infection or a kidney infection, and in fact that a common respiratory virus, that most children would have had in the US well before the age of 4, probably something she contracted from the babies at the daycare center/preschool, and that she would likely be fine by tomorrow or Wednesday.

Still feeling a little bit angry about the whole thing,

Friday, February 23, 2007

Amazing Gifts

In the past few days we have received some amazing gifts here at Chez Lawmommy.

My real-life friend Vanilla Caribou aka Perpetual Student (real life friend) sent some gorgeous paper doll fairies and other w0onderful children's books and music for both Lana and Gabe! It was such a nice surprise to find a package from A.E.O'R, covered in Canadian Maple Leaves! Thanks so much! (I will send an actual paper thank you note, you know, sometime this century!)

And my husband's co-workers did the most fabulous thing - they took all the blog posts from my Travel Blog and, and all the pictures from my Photobucket site, and had them published in a hard bound book! It's amazing. I cried. I had been feeling guilty about the fact that I hadn't gotten around to getting anything in a scrapbook yet for Lana's lifebook, so, to receive this wonderful copy of our memories of our first weeks with Lana - it's just, it's just perfect.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Bridge to Terebithia

Here is a friendly warning that I hope will not be a spoiler.

Before you take your child/children to see the movie The Bridge to Terebithia, please please please read the book first.

There are two reasons for this:

A. It is a very good book, and
B. I do not think the movie trailers represent what could be a crushing ending for some senstive children (like my son).

My dad actually went to see the movie yesterday afternoon (because he and I had read the book together when I was 10 years old, and had cried together and bonded over it), and he confirms that the movie ends the same way the book does. Which means that Gabriel will not be seeing it FOR QUITE SOME TIME. (Not until he is old enough for me to read it to him first and not until such things do not send him into paroxsyms of month-long-worrying and obsessing over everyone's safety...)

My dad does also say it is a very very well done movie, so, if, you've read the book and are prepared for the ending, it is well worth watching.


Lunar New Year

We did our best to attend festivities for Lunar New Year, which was Lana's favorite holiday in Vietnam.

We attended the Pan-Asian Lunar New Year festival in Ann Arbor last weekend, and this weekend we went to an FCC (Families with Children from China) New Year party, and a party at the home of some friends, R~ and L~. R~ is from China, and L~ is from Houston, and they have two daughters, one who is the same age as Gabe and one who is a year younger than Lana. The kids played well together, but, the thing that Lana really loved was the food that R~ prepared. There were dumplings (2 kinds), shrimp, Chinese style ribs, noodles and moon cakes. Also nachos and chocolate cheesecake for good measure. Lana, seriously, ate a MOUNTAIN of shrimp and Chinese style ribs. I have never seen her eat so much in one sitting.

R~ gave us several sticky rice meatballs to take home with us, as she had forgotten to put those out with dinner. Lana ate FOUR of them for dinner last night, so, I am going to have to get that recipe. In appearance, the meatballs look like a dish that my mom and grandmother make, called, "Porcupine Balls" - which are beef meatballs with rice, so, they look like, you guessed it, Porcupines. However, the spices and flavor of the meatballs are completely different. (In fact, I think Lana would be disappointed in Porcupine meatballs at this point, since they look so much like these other meatballs that she LOVES, and yet taste so different.)

It's been six weeks now, that we have had Lana in our lives. In many ways, it feels like she's been with us longer than that. We grow more attached to eachother every day. We're doing our best to integrate her completely into our family, without losing track of where she came from, without erasing her Asian identity in our Polish-Swedish-American household. Some times I feel like this is a tall order, maybe impossible...certainly our small attempts at Tet feel nothing like her experiences in Vietnam, and Christmas and Easter are going to feel like big new celebrations she doesn't understand yet...I made sure she got a lucky money red envelope, and foods she recognizes, and a lion dance. I'm not sure what more I can (or even should) do...I ask myself, as Lana becomes part of what is now a Polish-Swedish-Vietnamese-American household, does she become a little bit Polish-Swedish-American? Do we become a little bit Vietnamese?


Fat Tuesday

Well, it’s Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday, whichever you prefer. A day that, in my neck of the woods, involves the consumption of fat, fruit filled Polish donuts called Packzis (pronounced Punch-key), followed by a pancake dinner at the church of your preference, or, an excuse to attend bar parties with cheap plastic beads. (I mean, really. Why even bother? You are NOT going to create an authentic New Orleans Mardi Gras experience at a smelly bar in NW Ohio with cheap plastic beads and colorful drinks in hurricane glasses (I'm not even sure if they are able to create an authentic New Orleans Mardi Gras experience in NEW ORLEANS right now, but, bless them for trying to put their lives back to normal and all that.) I have never attended one of those bar parties, even when I was single, because I think it would just make me…sad….oh bother, I’ve probably ticked off readers who love mardi gras parties at bars in NW Ohio).

Anyway, I am passing on the packzis today, because they really are incredibly high in calories, and I’m not that big a fan of them anyway. Give me a sprinkle covered regular donut anyday. I will be attending the pancake dinner at our church this evening, especially because my sister is in charge and my nieces are flipping the pancakes. Family loyalty (and a love of pancakes) and all that jazz.

I was going to try to find (and publish here) the letter that I sent Husband (who was, at that time, Boyfriend) from my experience at Carnivale in Nice in 1993. (That being the only authentic Mardi Gras event in my life), but, I couldn’t find the letter this morning, so, that’s not happening. (If I find the letter later today, I may post it, if it is worth reading.)

Anyway, on this Fat Tuesday, I have come to the conclusion that it is time for Lawmommy to stop being fat. Time to get back on the Elliptical trainer and back on the WW wagon. I lost 10 lbs in Vietnam, but, I have gained 5 back in the four weeks since we got home, and I need to slam on the brakes on that train and reverse and start losing again.

My goal is to lose 45 pounds. I figure this will take 10 months. And, now that I don’t have an adoption to obsess about, I should be able to obsess about the WW plan without too much trouble. I just need to tell myself that I want this as badly as I wanted my adoption to happen. So wish me luck.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Birth Mothers

For some reason, I've been thinking a lot about Lana's birthmother lately.

Well, in truth I've been thinking a lot about her foster mother AND her birth mother, and a line from a poem called, "Love Will Grow" which I believe I have mentioned before. The line of the poem is something like, "in your eyes lie memories of other mothers."

This line is particularly true for Lana - memories of another mother. And for her, that mother is Lan, her foster mom. (Yes, the same first name.) When Lana came across a photo of Lan, Phuong (foster sister), Husband and I (from the morning we met them), she was first extremely excited, and happily pointed and said, "Ma!" and pointed to her foster mom, and then a word we didn't understand when she pointed to Phuong, and then "Ba!" when she pointed out David. And then she came to me (I was the last in line in the photo), and she looked confused and freaked out and had a mini-meltdown, and we put the picture away. Her memories of her "Ma" are obviously still very clear to her. And her "Ma" was Lan.

And when I think about Lan (the foster mom), I feel grateful and sad - grateful that she loved this child, that she comforted this child, that she held this child and cared for her and mothered her. I feel sad because I know that Lan (the foster mother) is sad, that she misses Lana, especially right now, this week when Tet is starting.

But, when I think about Lien (birth mother), I just feel...angry.

I know, I know that is SO WRONG on SO MANY levels. But, I'm trying to be honest, and in all honestly, when I think about her, I get mad.

I'm not entirely sure why, but, I think what it comes down to is this:

Lien relinquished her child in November of 2002 to the orphanage. That child (MY child) was matched to a family in America and no doubt Lien was told this. Lana was placed with her foster mom to await departure to the U.S. A departure that didn't happen due to the shutdown.

Fortunately for my daughter, she remained with the foster family for almost four years, awaiting the departure that was 4 years in coming, to Husband and I, and not to the family that was originally matched to her.

I have often wondered, if Lien was informed that Lana had not left Vietnam. I don't know anything for sure, except than on September 26, 2006, Lien signed a new set of relinquishment papers, specifically stating that she had relinquished her in 2002 and was still of a mind to allow Lana to be adopted.

It also has a bit of language where Lien affirms that she "was not married to any person" on Nov. 5, 2002 (the date of Lan's birth.) Perhaps this means she is married now. Perhaps she married shortly thereafter. I don't know. But, I do know, that on September 26, 2006, she signed a paper giving us her daughter, and the address she gave on that day was in DaNang City.

She was supposed to come to the G&R ceremony. But, she didn't come. She did not come to see the people who were taking her daughter to the other side of the planet, and for some reason that I cannot put my finger on exactly, this p*sses me off to no end.

We were told that she lived "too far away" to attend the ceremony, but, that felt like a hollow excuse to me. Four months earlier she was living in the City of DaNang. But, in January she was "too far away" from the city to come?

Logically, I realize that it simply may have been too painful for her to face. Logically I realize that she may have gotten married to someone who knows nothing about the child she relinquished, that she could have jeopordized that relationship. Logically, I know she may have faced losing a job for missing work to attend the ceremony.

But, in my gut, I am furious. Because I jump to the conclusion, that she didn't care enough about Lana to want to know who would love her from now on.

I know it's wrong of me. I do. But, again, I try to be honest here, and this is the cold, hard truth. I am p*ssed at my daughter's birth mother.

I am hoping by putting it out here, in the open, I will be able to get over it. So that by the time Lana understands enough English for me to say anything, I will be able to tell her, and mean it, how much Lien loved her, that she loved her so much she helped to find Husband and I for her. I want to believe that these things are true. I do not want to believe that she didn't care enough to come.

So, there it is. When Lana thinks of her other mother, she thinks of Lan, her foster mom. When I think of Lana's other mother, is is Lan I think of, not Lien.

I know I should be grateful to Lien. I just don't know how to get to that place in my heart.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ann Arbor Blues

My husband and my favorite author*, Christopher Moore (, author of Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, and Bloodsucking Fiends and Whale and A Dirty Job and others, is supposed to be speaking at Borders Books in Ann Arbor tonight. Unfortunately, with the weather so crappy, I am worried he won't be able to make it and then I will be v.v. sad.

If you looking for something funny and irreverant, but thought-provoking, check out his books. His new book, You Suck, is a sequel to Bloodsucking Fiends, so, I would not recommend making that your first intro to him - read either Lamb or Bloodsucking Fiends first.

Anyway, crossing my fingers that he makes it, and that I will be able to get an autograph on one of my books,


*By which I mean to say, he is my favorite author and also my husband's favorite author - I am having all kinds of grammar trouble these days!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I hate it when...

I hate it when you are a devoted reader of a blog, a blog that just touches you in some way, and you go back and read faithfully almost every day and really feel for that person...and then you spend almost a month in Vietnam finishing your adoption and another trying to get your feet underneath you because going from one child to two children is kind of shocking, and then, when you go back to read that blog again, they have gone and PASSWORD PROTECTED it and there is no explanation or anything. I hate that.

So, if anyone knows what happened with (she called her blog the Thin Pink Line), I would dearly love to know. Email me even - l a w m o m 2 0 0 3 at y a h o o dot c o m.


Monday, February 12, 2007

She was suprised to see me

When I arrived at the center at 5:20 this afternoon, she was sitting on Shelly's lap (Shelly being one of her two teachers.) She had a sad look on her face as she watched the other children being picked up by parents. I'm not sure if the look was sad or resigned.

Then she saw me and the look on her face was SUPRISE. The child was surprised I came for her. I think this breaks me heart more than if she had been angry with me. I think, because if she had been angry with me, she would have arrived at the place in our relationship where she feels entitled to be mad at me. And I'm not sure she's quite there.

She cautiously got off Shelly's lap and came over to me. I looked down at her, and she raised her arms up to me. She said, "Bahm!" which, as near as I can tell, means, "pick me up." (At least, this is what this means in our house, where it is said about a gazillion times a day to Husband.)

I picked her up (she only weighs 34 pounds after all) and she wrapped her small hands into my coat. "Do you want to go home?" I asked her. She nodded vigorously. "Gabriel mo?" she asked. (Where's Gabriel?) I said, 'Let's go find him" and she nodded again, vigorously.

I put her down and she ran to get her coat. With her coat on, she showed some excitement in showing me some things in her classroom, like her mailbox.

Husband wasn't home when we got there, as he was at a board meeting.

There was REJOICING when he came home. There were squeals of delight. There was dancing in a little circle and hopping around and cries of "Ba! Ba!" (He was already gone when she when she woke up this morning.)

I am glad she was happy to see him, and I am glad her first day at school was less traumatic than anticipated. I'm a little bit sad that she doesn't believe we will come for her, that we will always return for her. (Considering the loss of her foster mom, can I blame her? Not a chance in hell.)

Heading to bed for the night,

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Harder this time

On a Monday morning in May of 2000, I took my infant son to a child care center on the campus of the University where I attended law school. Gabriel did not cry when I left him the capable hands of Molly, Sam and Jini. I cried, but, Gabriel, a happy (though sleepless) baby, cuddled into Molly's arms and my husband and I left the center. My husband had taken a personal day, so he could come to the center with me. I was due back at work the next day. We actually went to lunch and to see a movie. I don't remember where we ate lunch or what movie we saw, but, I do remember feeling relieved to do something "normal" (wherein my life to that point with tiny Gabriel felt nothing like "normal".)

When we returned to the center to pick Gabe up, he was happily sitting on Jini's hip. I watched him through the observation window. He was 11 weeks old and Jini was just fine by him. Until I opened the door, and Jini handed him to me, and he hollered and butted his tiny baby face against my blouse, pulled on the buttons with his fingers and loudly demanded FOOD. At least I was his one and only for something!! :-)

This morning was different.

This morning I took Lana into that same center, and we were greeted by Jami, who soon replaced Jini in Gabriel's small heart. (Jami replaced Jini when Jini left to teach at a public elementary school when Gabe was about 5 months old. Jami is still referred to, by Gabriel, as "my Jami". Gabe's first word was "ma-ma", but, his third word was "mi-mi" (his tiny infant word for Jami.)

Anyway, Jami greeted us with her own darling baby girl (hi Lily!), and then Lana and I walked down to her classroom. I put her boots and her snow pants her cubby, and hung up her coat and signed her in, and I sat with her for a few minutes, and read a short story, and then I held her close to me and kissed her face, and she clung to me, and I disentangled myself from her and...I left.

I left and she screamed and I could hear her screaming as I walked away. I felt like someone had stuck their fist through my chest and was squeezing my heart. I did not feel relieved. I felt...awful. Logically, I know that she is 4 years old and is used to be in school all day. Logically I know she was bored at home all day with Husband. Logically I know that Husband needs to go back to work so that a) he doesn't lose his mind being home all day and b.) so that we can continue to pay our mortgage!

But, illogically...I felt lousy.

I had been sitting at my desk a few minutes when the director of the center called to tell me that she was doing okay. That she had stopped screaming, that she was sitting with her teacher, that she was thinking about eating a banana, that she was a little sad but, not hysterical. I felt...less horrible.

And I just got off the phone with her teacher, who told me that she had settled down on her cot to rest after lunch, and she is, right now, fast asleep. That she ate a whole piece of pizza and three slices of apple for lunch. She stays close to her teachers, and is being, as is typical for Lana, "watchful".

I still worry. I worry that she will be angry when I pick her up. I worry that she will allow this anger to disrupt her attachment to me (she seems to love David without strings and with total abandon, but, her feelings about me, I think, are more complicated. She will tell David she loves him, both in English and in Vietnamese*. She told me she loved me once in English, at David's urging...)

Worrying for my watchful girl,

*I THINK she is telling him she loves him in Vietnamese. What she says is "Mai yeu toi" - which, as near as I can tell is the words "You love me." I suppose she might be asking a question, but, I am assuming it is just that the words are in a different order...anyone happen to know how to say "I love you" in Vietnamese?


A Small Vent about the Dollar Bill

Various news agencies are reporting this morning that 3/4 of Americans are opposed to replacing the dollar bill with a dollar coin. This, in spite of the fact that:

"Even though doing away with the bill could save hundreds of millions of dollars each year in printing costs, there is no plan to scrap the bill in favor of the more durable coin."

HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS. If we just switched to using a coin instead of paper for our $1.00 piece.

The news points out that the last two attempts to switch to the dollar coin have been unsuccessful. But, it doesn't point out WHY. (Because, of course, they didn't bother to include ME in their poll. The news would be so far ahead if they would just ME first. :-P )

They have been unsuccessful because they were STUPID. I say that unapologetically, and frankly it boggles my mind that intelligent people could have come up with those plans because they were, hands down, STUPID.

Why were they stupid?

Because when the coins were issued, they were not significantly larger than the quarter so as to be apparently worth more money. Hand's down. That was the problem. The coins just need to be BIGGER. Not enormously bigger, but, for example, larger than a quarter in a such a way that a nickel is larger than a penny.

Yes, I know the vending machine lobby is probably behind the reason why the coins were issued so closely in size to the quarter - but, we are talking about saving American taxpayers HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS A YEAR. All simply by using a coin intead of a piece of paper. It's a brilliant idea. Let's embrace it. Let's just not do it stupidly.

The new coin is being released this week. I hope it's bigger than a quarter.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Mish Mash

Astronaut Love Triangle:

So, I had a post rolling around in my head about the female astronaut embroiled in a love triangle who evidently went OVER THE DEEP END and assaulted (and maybe had intentions to kill) a romantic rival. But, Spacemom has far more understanding of the situation and go read her take on it:

Anna Nicole Smith:

Is dead. Does anyone else find this story really really bizarre, or is it just Anna Nicole's life that has been bizarre? I really like Anna Nicole when she was modeling for Guess? in the 90s - because I loved that she had boobs and hips and wasn't a stick insect and everyone thought she was sexy as hell (because she was). So, as a girl with hips and boobs myself in the 90s (and, um, even more boobs and hips in the '00s) I cheered for models with boobs and hips...anyway, I just think the whole situation is...odd.

Progress at home:

This morning, totally unprovoked by me, Gabriel kissed his sister and told her he loved her before he got on the bus this morning. Lana kissed him back. Very very cute.

Lana cried for 5 minutes before falling asleep last night. Hurray for sleep. Gabriel slept in his own bed last night! Hurray for sharing my bed with just Husband. (What a novel concept!)


An attorney on the other side of one of my cases full-on LIED to the judge in a hearing yesterday. I mean, a bold, bald-faced LIE. And that lie resulted in a two-week continuance of the hearing. Which I will ultimately win, but, I am so angry I want to strangle that attorney. WE TAKE AN OATH. WE TAKE AN OATH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We take an oath and HE VIOLATED IT. HE LIED TO THE JUDGE. I want to spit on his shoes. Seriously. How can he LIE TO THE COURT when he has raised his hand in front of GOD AND EVERYONE AND THE SUPREME COURT OF OHIO and promised not to do that??

You know what?

When an attorney testifies in a court of law in the State of Ohio, he doesn't have to take an oath.


Because we have ALREADY TAKEN AN OATH that we will always tell the truth in court. BECAUSE THAT IS PART OF OUR JOB AND PART OF OUR CALLING AS LAWYERS. And yesterday, that lawyer made all lawyers look bad. Because he violated his oath.

I am incensed about this, and I cannot prove that he lied (because I do not tape conversations I have with opposing counsel although perhaps I SHOULD) and I want to grieve him or strangle him or both...and I cannot. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR....

More later,

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Conflicted about sleep issues

Oh this wandering and confused Lawmommy...

So, since we have had Lana, I have laid down with her at night to get her to go to sleep. At first, she fell asleep in 5 minutes. Not surprisingly, since we have been home from Vietnam, the amount of time I have lain (laid? lied? geez! why is the verb "to lay" so difficult!!) with her has increased dramatically. Two nights ago, I had been lying with her for 40 minutes. It was 10:15 PM and I had just HAD IT. The end of my rope had been met. I needed a shower. I needed 5 minutes alone with my husband. I needed to not be lying (laying?) in a twin bed with a four year old.

She has discovered that if she wraps her fist around the sleeve of my pajamas, she can feel me get up and she wakes up and cries for me not to leave. After 4 attempts to leave her bed, I just got up, kissed her face, stroked her hair, and said, "I love you. Go to sleep." She cried and screamed and carried on like I was stabbing her repeatedly with an ice pick.

Every four minutes I went into her room, stroked her hair, kissed her face, and said, "I love you. Go to sleep."

For 30 minutes she screamed like a banshee, with me going in every 4 minutes. Then, when I went in her room, she was holding her crotch like she needed to go to the bathroom. So, I picked her up and took her to the potty. When I put her back in bed, she cried for about 1 minute and then she was asleep. She slept until 7:30 the next morning, but, I felt very conflicted about whether or not that was the right thing to do.

Last night, at 8:50, I got out of her bed after reading a book, singing a song, and cuddling in the dark for about 5 minutes. She cried like crazy for 5 minutes, and then I went in and put her sheet on her (she will only cover herself up wtih a sheet, no blankets), and said, "I love you, go to sleep" and stroked her hair for about 30 seconds. She cried for 4 more minutes. (It was 4 minutes exactly, because I was sitting on my bed feeling lousy watching the minutes tick by), and after the 4th minute, she went totally silent. Then, she started snoring. It was 9:01 and she was asleep. I was able to watch Law and Order: SVU and take a shower by myself, and, to be perfectly honest, it felt like heaven. (I haven't watched any "grown up" tv since we left for Vietnam, and I really LIKE tv. I know that is stupid, but, I do like it, and I miss being able to watch Gilmore Girls or whatever.)

But, I hate letting her cry. I HATE it. I find it almost physically painful. (I am the same way about Gabe crying, and I don't usually let him cry alone unless he is being REALLY REALLY BAD.) But, she needs to sleep. (She obviously needs to sleep. I had to physically pry her out of bed at 8:30 this morning, so, clearly, she needs her sleep and has not been getting enough of it.)

Not sure if I am doing the right thing,

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Dear Minnesota,

Dear Minnesota,

I have nothing against you, per se, as a state. I have, in fact, enjoyed visiting you in the sweet sweet summertime when your lakes are beautiful and your climate is temperate and your moose are wandering free. I appeciate that you provided home and hearth for my Scandanavian grandparents, I do, truly.

But, I've gotta's 1 degree here in Ohio. ONE. DEGREE. And despite my Viking genes, I AM COLD.

So, please refrain from sending us any more of your air.

Thank you. That is all.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Bluegrass and Baptism...

We took Gabriel and Lana to the Museum on Friday night. Our art museum has special events every Friday night, and the museum is open until 10:00 PM on those nights. Gabriel had been studying “France” at school the week before last, and, as part of that study, he and his classmates had painted their own versions of Monet’s Water Lilies. Since then, Gabe has been asking to go downtown to the museum to see one of the real Water Lilies (his teacher told the class that we have one of Water Lilies series here). So, on Friday afternoon, David brought Gabe and Lana downtown, and I met them at the museum after work. They were waiting for me at the entrance, and when I walked through the doors Lana came rushing at me, her arms wide, her face grinning, hooting “Mommy!!!!!!!” at the top of her lungs. It was cute. And also loud. We got “shushed” by the guard. We walked around the museum and Gabe was extremely impressed with the Water Lilies. He sat on the bench across from the painting (it is a very large painting) and stared at it for several minutes. Then he said, “It’s so beautiful, isn’t it?” He also liked looking at the other impressionist paintings in the museum collection, and some of the hyperrealism and of course he loved the sarcophagus in the Egyptian collection, as all children seem to. He was less impressed with 16th Century European art. I don’t blame him. At 6:30 we walked over the Cloisters section of the museum, because they were having a Bluegrass band playing. Can I say that Lana is not impressed with bluegrass music? Gabriel, on the other hand, loves bluegrass music and was having a great time listening to the band, and asked David to ask the band to play “Big Rock Candy Mountain” – which is a song from one of the “O Brother Where Art Thou” CDs that is pretty much Gabriel’s favorite song in life. Since Lana was not enjoying the music, I decided to take her and head off to meet our friend Shelly, who was babysitting a child who is going to be in Lana’s preschool class. (Well, rather, a child is WHO is the class that Lana is GOING to be in.) Lana and A~ (the other little girl) played for about an hour. I hope that they will be good friends, as A~ lives less than 2 minutes from our house, and since they will be in the same class, I think it would be convenient for them to become good friends. (And yes, I’m just the kind of person who would choose my child’s friends based on convenience for me. Shoot me.) I was glad that they had a good time playing together, as attempting to leave the museum without David and Gabriel with us resulted in a crying fit. The fit subsided during the car ride, thank goodness, so, by the time we got to A~’s house, she was not screaming or crying anymore. I should mention that we stopped (Lana and I) to get some dinner at Wendy’s (between the museum and A~’s house.) Lana’s foster mother described her to us as a “watchful child” and it really is an appropriate description of Lana much of the time. She watches people very intently. While we were at Wendy’s, she was openly staring at a man who was eating there with his small son. She was quietly eating and following the man with her eyes. It was like she couldn’t take her eyes off of him, and then it occurred to me that she may not have ever seen a black man before. (There are black students in her class at pre-school, but, she has only seen the children, not their parents, since she and David have been visiting the school in the late mornings when no parents are around.) The man, who had his hands full with a cranky toddler, did not seem to notice, and I’m glad he didn’t because I’m afraid that it might have come off as rudeness instead of curiosity. __________________________________________________________

Yesterday morning we took Lana to church for the first time. She balked at going to children’s chapel with Gabriel (we expected as much), so, she sat with us through the service. We were at 9:15 service which is a family friendly service, where people don’t mind so much if there is a fussy or squirmy child. She mostly sat on David’s lap, and she was quite shocked when the organ began the processional hymn. After her initial shock, she opened her mouth now and then and pretended to sing. (She also pretends to sing when I sing to her.) She was, as usual in new situations, very watchful. However, she did make noise one time…oh my. My ten year old niece was sitting next to her, and they were drawing pictures on a bulletin. My niece drew a picture of Jesus (standard oval head, smile, with a beard), and Lana looked at it and excitedly pronounced, “Bac Ho!! Bac Ho!!” Jesus Christ as Ho Chi Minh, who would have thunk it? Fortunately, I don’t think anyone in the congregation knew what she meant! During announcements, Father P~ introduced Lana to the congregation. Next week, we are going to have a blessing over her adoption during the service. It’s a short blessing, but, I feel, for me at least, this is very important. Here are the words:

Dear Friends: It has pleased God our heavenly Father to answer the earnest prayers of N. [and N.], member(s) of this Christian family, for the gift of a child. I bid you join with them [and with N. (and N.N.), who now has a new brother (sister)] in offering heartfelt thanks for the joyful and solemn responsibility which is theirs by the coming of N. to be a member of their family. But first, our friends wish us, here assembled, to witness the inauguration of this new relationship.

[The Celebrant asks the parent or parents]

N. [and N.], do you take this child for your own?

[Parent(s)] I do.

[When if the child is old enough to answer, the Celebrant asks]

N., do you take this woman as your mother?
[Child] I do.
[Celebrant] Do you take this man as your father?
[Child] I do.

[Then the Celebrant, holding or taking the child by the hand, gives the child to the mother or father, saying]

As God has made us his children by adoption and grace, may you receive N. as your own son (daughter).

[Then one or both parents say these or similar words]

May God, the Father of all, bless our child N., and us who have given to him our family name, that we may live together in love and affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Anyway, it is very important to me that we have this blessing, quite literally in front of God and everyone. I cannot put my finger on why this is so very very very important to me, but, it is. So, we will have it, next Sunday.

After the service, we also had a long conversation with Father P~ about whether or not to baptize Lana at this time. We are members of a congregation that practices infant baptism and adolescent confirmation of that baptism. (I know that some are opposed to infant baptism, but, this is what is normal for us.)

However, Lana is obviously not an infant, but, neither is she old enough to request baptism on her own. After some discussion, we decided that we will baptize her now. Our reasoning (which some may disagree with) is that we baptized Gabriel when he was less than 3 months old, before he knew or understood anything about faith, ergo, why should we refrain from baptizing Lana, who also, at this point, also has no understanding about faith? (We are making an assumption that Lana was not actively involved in any other faith with her foster family. It is possible that we are wrong about this. It is possible that she was Buddhist, Roman Catholic, or even a follower of Cao Dai ( a religion unique to Vietnam that blends Christianity, Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Taoism.) But, we tend to think that she was not, for a variety reasons, the largest being that she (her foster mom) didn’t mention it to us. We talked to her foster mom for quite some time, and she told us her daily schedule and what she likes to do. She never mentioned any kind of religious activity, so, we are assuming there was none.

I do realize that this is a choice that David and I are making FOR LANA, and that one day she may choose to reject that choice. But, on the other hand, it was also a choice that we made FOR GABRIEL. And he too may reject our choice. That is what free-will is about. But, I cannot justify making one choice for my son and not making the same choice for our daughter. She’ll no doubt be ticked about the water on her hair…

More later, LM

Friday, February 02, 2007

Spring Rolls

First, I want to say thank-you to everyone for your kind and supportive thoughts on my post below. I am feeling better - I don't feel great, but, I don't feel wretched, either. And not feeling wretched is definitely an improvement!

Yesterday afternoon, a Vietnamese family invited us to come to their home for dinner for traditional Vietnamese spring rolls. We thought this was a very gracious and generous offer, and we had a lovely evening.

Most people probably think "spring roll" and imagine a "spring roll" from a Chinese restaurant - sort of like a smaller version of an egg roll. But, a traditional Vietnamese spring roll is different. Sort of like a burrito. But cold. With shrimp and vegetables.

It was a very social kind of meal. We sat together at the table, and we dipped hard rice paper disks into bowls of warm water. When the rice paper was soft, we put it on our plates and then put cool rice noodles, strips of cucumber, cilantro, mint, green onion, lettuce, beef and shrimp into the roll, then rolled it up, and ate it, dipping it into a garlic sauce. It was very good. We have had pre-rolled spring rolls before, both in Vietnam and at a Vietnamese restaurant in Chicago - but, I didn't care for them on those occasions because they had been chilled and it hurt my teeth to bite into them (my teeth are sensitive to cold) and I don't usually eat cold foods (except ice cream, which requires no biting) because I hate the way cold food makes my teeth feel. (I even heat up milk before I put it on my cereal in the morning. I don't like cold food is what I'm trying to say.) But, because we were fixing these ourselves, they were more room temperature than cold, and they were really really good. Lana was in heaven. She ate two whole rolls and some plain shrimp.

What she didn't do for most of the 3 hours we were there, was TALK. I kept telling the family that she DOES speak Vietnamese to us all day long, but, she was not keen to speak to strangers. Finally, towards the end of the night, she began to talk a little bit to D~, who was playing with Lana and D~'s 2 year old son. Afterward, D~ told me that Lana has a strong "central" dialect in her Vietnamese, and she may not be completely understanding the southern dialect of their family. I hope that if we visit them again she will be comfortable enough to speak more freely. I would love to know what she is thinking of all this - her new life, etc!


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