Monday, April 30, 2007

Torture, Strippers and Soccer

I now know why criminal, nefarious and villainous sorts threaten to torture interrogation victims by fingernail removal. Through actions too benign and meaningless to even bother relating, I managed to rip off half of my pinky-fingernail on my right hand.

Can I just say, that hurt like a B***H. Man. It hurt. Liked, kicked in the stomach, I'm going to vomit, not sure if I can catch my breath, PAIN.

Quite honestly I would probably sell out my own grandmother to prevent feeling that again. So, yeah, as torture techniques go, I'm thinking that one, yeah, it would make me talk. Or make up copious and detailed lies, at any rate. Or anything, really. It hurt, is what I am trying to convey.


The Ohio Legislature has fast-tracked a bill to force "adult businesses" to close between the hours of midnight and 6:00 AM. Also, it would make it a felony for an "entertainer" to come within six feet of a "patron."

My beef with this bill is this: THERE ARE SO MANY PROBLEMS FACING THE STATE OF OHIO. SO. MANY. PROBLEMS. We are having a crisis in the areas of education and employment. Foreclosures are at an all time high. Our schools...ay yai yai...

I'm just about 100% certain that if you took a poll of Ohioans, and asked them what they thought the MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE IN OHIO TODAY is...I'm darn sure that NO ONE, NOT A SINGLE PERSON, would answer that the biggest problem facing Ohio today is that strippers sometimes come within 5 feet of their patrons. But THAT is the bill that has been FAST-TRACKED. OY.

I don't honestly care what strippers do. (I mean this sincerely, but, I'm probably one of the few feminists on the planet who think prostitution should be legalized, regulated and taxed.) I don't think it is the job of the Ohio legislature to tell strippers what time of day they can strip. (And frankly, I'd RATHER they stripped from midnight to 6:00 AM, because, hey, HOW MANY KIDS ARE OUT at that time of day? Nor is my Husband, who can rarely keep his eyes open past 10:30, likely to be out at those times of day, either.) If someone wants to take it all off for money, I say, GO AHEAD. It's just capitalism. Just make it abudantly clear that the business establishment where you do that is what it is, 'cause I don't want to see it, and I don't want to accidently stumble in, innocently thinking I might get a burger and Rum Runner with my Husband, and find naked women in my face (because I do not like my rum contaminated by naked women, don't you know). But, if it's clear it's a strip club, I don't give a rip what it's hours are, or how little the dancers are wearing, or how close they get to the patrons. I DON'T CARE. I have a certain amount of control over the choices made by my own family, and I don't think it's any of my business, or the business of the legislature, to tell anyone what time of day they can ogle naked strangers, if that is the way they choose to spend their free time.

What I do care about is the fact that my tax dollars are paying the salaries of the yahoos in Columbus, who evidently don't think that there are greater issues facing the State of Ohio then how large the pasties are that "Candy Does Canton" is wearing on her fake rack.

I have ranted enough on that subject. I hope the legislature is listening. If you are, and you haven't gotten my point yet, it is this: STOP FIXATING ON NAKED WOMEN AND GET SOME REAL WORK DONE.


I am officially a Veronica Mars addict. This is all The Cracked Pot's fault. But, I won't hold it against her, since she is recovering from a nasty car accident. I am partway through Season 2 and am seriously considering just buying the whole series on DVD since I don't think I can stand to wait for Netflix to get me the next disk.


Lana threw a fit at Gabriel's soccer match on Sunday that lasted 20 MINUTES. TWENTY. MINUTES.

The fit involved the fact that her Daddy was coaching Gabe's team and would not let her play. She quite literally stood on the spectators side of the field and screamed at the top of her lungs for TWENTY. MINUTES.

Other moms asked me, "Is she yours?" (As if, um, if she were MINE, wasn't there SOMETHING I could do to get her to SHUT THE HELL UP. Answer - Yes, she's mine. And sorry, NO. Nothing I can do, to make the screaming cease.) I have a lot of conflicted emotions about the whole scene, which I do not feel up to delving into at the moment. She stopped screaming shen Husband let her stand next to him on the "coaches and players" side while he yelled directives at the field. I'm not sure I can show my face at the soccer field for the rest of the season. I'm going to be "that mom who lets her daughter scream like a banshee in public." It wasn't normal behavior and there was nothing I could do about it, and that was the worst part of the whole thing. I knew it wasn't "normal" ~ and I didn't know how to fix the situation. She was beyond even being picked up and carted home, as there is no way I could have gotten a good enough grip on her to carry her the several hundred yards back to the car. The only person who was capable of calming her was Husband. It was a very helpless and awful feeling...

That's all for now,

Friday, April 27, 2007

Officially Official

Here are Gabriel and Lana, waiting patiently in the courtroom for Lana's "Recognition of Foreign Adoption" Hearing.

All went well and we are waiting for her Ohio Birth Certificate. Everyone at the courthouse oohed and ahhed over my adorable kids. Makes a girl feel special.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Blogs that Make Me Go "Hmm"

Mrs. Broccoli Guy has kindly given me a "Thinking Blogger Award." This is an award/meme where you choose five blogs that get you thinking, and then those bloggers can give five awards themselves. You can read about the origins of the award

I am deeply touched that Mrs. Broccoli Guy has such nice things to say about my blog. I write because I am COMPELLED to write, because I MUST write, but, it's nice to hear that sometimes I have something to say that makes one think!

Here are five blogs that make ME think (excluding Mrs. Broccoli Guy and her nominees, all of which are favorite blogs of mine, and upon which I would bestow a thinking blogger award, had Mrs. Broccoli Guy not already done so!!)

1. The person who inspired me to do this in the first place, JDEgirl. I cannot express how happy I am for her right now.

2. Nicole aka Raising Animals, formerly known as Fo(u)rt Robinson. Vietnam Adoption, pregnancy, tatoos and more.

3. Kelly aka Snips and Snails. Surviving the wilderness of Michigan's UP AND the unknowns of Vietnam Adoption.

4. Blonde Justice. I know a ton of people read her blog, and I doubt she will ever see this. But, her posts about working as a public defender make me think about what it means to be a lawyer.

5. La Turista. A lawyer/mommy who makes me laugh.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Like Athena...

Lana is fascinated by photographs. She pours over them with complete concentration, sifting through them, sorting them, putting them in different piles and re-arranging the piles.

She also loves to look at Gabriel's baby book. I will admit that I am a lousy "scrapbooker" and that, as yet, Gabriel's baby book is kind of haphazardly put together, not necessarily in chronological order. But, Lana loves to look at it anyway, and yet, each time she looks at it, she is a little bit agitated and upset.

"This is Gabriel?" she asks, pointing to a photo. "This is Gabriel and Yi Stace?" she asks, pointing another photo. "Gabriel and Nana? Gabriel and Mommy? Gabriel and cat?"

These questions always lead to the same place. The same question ultimately rears it's head. "Where Lana? Where Lana pictures, Mommy?"

When Lana is pointing to a picture of Gabriel as a baby and a toddler, it is easier (for me) to answer these questions. "Lana wasn't born yet." Is an easy answer. Lana doesn't necessarily comprehend that answer, but, at least it's not an answer that leaves me with a sense of uneasiness. The answer would be the same, even if Lana had been born to us.

Gabriel was about 2 and a half when Lana was born in Da Nang. The photos she asks about of him at this age - I find it difficult to answer her. One set of photos in particular has bothered me since I made an effort, a few weeks ago, to determine what I happened to be doing on the day Lana was born.

I went back through my Yahoo! email account, trying to find an email to me or from me, sent on that day, which would give me an idea of what I had been doing. But, there was only one email from that day. I only save personal emails, but, I tend to send personal emails (at least one or two short ones) every single day. But, from that day, November 5, 2002, there is only one email. From my Labor Law professor, advising me on a question I had sent him a few days earlier, about a paper I was writing comparing the collective bargaining laws of Ohio and Michigan.*

In fact that is the only email in my account from October 28 to November 6, 2002. So, I opened up a November 6 email and determined why there was no correspondence during those days.

My cousin E~ had gotten married in Los Angeles that year on November 2. Gabriel and I flew to L.A. with my mom, my step-dad, my grandmother and my aunt. I didn't return home until November 5.

The upside of this is that I know what Gabriel and I were doing. We were flying from L.A. to Detroit.

The photographs that make me...what? Uneasy? Sad? Melancholy? Guilty? Something that cannot be named precisely? They are the photos from that trip. Gabriel dressed up to go trick or treating in Simi Valley with my cousin's son. Gabriel and I and my aunt visiting some botanical gardens with my friend Jennifer, with whom I had taught English in Japan. Gabriel and I at my cousin's wedding, and later at my cousin's wedding reception. Gabriel dancing to the Irish band who played at that wedding reception. Gabriel and my mom and I, shopping Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. Gabriel seeing the ocean for the first time.

On one hand, I am glad to know what I was doing those days, those days in which Lana was making her way into this world. But, in other ways, I look at those photographs and I realize that Lana, Bich Lan, was not even on my radar screen.

I did not know, then, what I know now. That my daughter was out there, on the other side of the planet. At the time, I believed that Gabriel would be an only child. At the time, I could not conceive of mothering another child.

Lana was born, on the other side of the planet, roughly at the same time Gabriel and I were flying home from L.A. We came home, we went about our lives. I finished that paper on collective bargaining. I went to Immigration Law and Labor Law and Environmental Law classes. I took exams. I went to work twice a week at my job as a clerk for a huge law firm. Gabriel went to daycare. David went to school everyday to teach biology and English. Our lives were not interrupted by the birth of a child.

It's amazing to me, when I look at Lana, who seems (from my point of view) to have sprung magically into my life, fully formed as a four-year-old creature...logically I know she did not spring forth in this form, she is not Athena sprung from Zeus's skull. She came to this world in the usual way. It is only AFTER that that her life became unusual. She did not come to our family in the usual way, which has me sitting in an unusual seat - asking my child, my CHILD, my DAUGHTER, questions about her life BEFORE ME. She has a whole history that I don't know much about. And I find myself almost desperate to know.

We are lucky - we are not without any information. We have photographs, mostly from 2004 onward. From July of 2004 through December 2006, we have four pictures taken every three months. Twelve photos per year for 2005 and 2006, and 6 pictures from 2004, provided to us by our agency. Prior to that, our agency's child update reports regarding Lan contain no photographs. We do have one picture of Lana, taken as a teeny tiny screaming infant, and a package of 24 photographs, all taken on the same day of June in 2003. We also have 8 pictures that her foster mother gave us in a small album, on the day we met with her. We are lucky to have even this much information. I know other children who came home with much less. But, I still wish I had something more, something more to help her remember her life before, and for us to know these things as well.

This morning Lana surprised me by being able to express something of her prior life. She was looking at one of the photos taken of her in Vietnam. In the picture she is wearing a white dress with sailboats on the front, and holding two bottles of Tiger Beer. (Yes, really.) The bottles are capped, so, it's not like she is DRINKING the beer. It looks more like she is walking with the beer to give it to someone. I have OFTEN wondered the circumstances surrounding this photo, which was taken by one of Holt's social workers, but not provided to us until after her "assignment" to us - it was not included in the child reports we were given at the time we were asking to be matched to her.

Anyway, Lana was looking at the picture and she pointed and said, "Oh! Mommy! Lana Happy Birthday! Lana Happy Birthday Party! Lana party, Mommy. Lana, party, picture." I was skeptical at first, Lana being somewhat obsessed with wondering when we will have a birthday party for her. (She has been to about 7 birthday parties for various family and friends since we have been home. She WANTS a party for Lana, that much is clear.) But, I checked the date on the photograph - it is dated by our agency as "Nov. 12, 2005". Only a week after her birthday. So, I believe her, and it's a little piece of her life, for me to know. That on her third birthday, someone cared enough to have a birthday party for her. It's not a lot, but, it's something. I'm hoping that, as her language ability increases, she will be able to look over the other photos, and share something of their circumstances, before those memories start to become fuzzy to her.


*Doesn't that sound like a rip-roaring bestselling thriller and aren't you aching to read it?? :-P

Monday, April 16, 2007

Welcome Baby!

Welcome Baby Colin!

Go over to visit JDEgirl at and give her some congratulations and good wishes!


Lana Meets Bestselling Author

This picture is from a while ago, but, I finally figured out how to get it off my phone. Here is Lana meeting bestselling writer, Christopher Moore, author of Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Bloodsucking Fiends, You Suck: A Love Story, and The Stupidest Angel, among others.

You can see that Lana is not nearly as impressed with this meeting as her mommy is. Some of you may recall that Lana was to have been named Sophie, a name Husband and I fell in love with while reading Moore's "A Dirty Job" last year while we were vacationing in Jamaica. That didn't work out so much, but, it doesn't mean we love his books any less!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Linguistic Jumps

Last night, Lana was standing by the sink, washing plastic dishes. (This was after a minor fit that she threw when David refused to allow her to wash the knives and a glass bowl. Lana is a very thorough dishwasher, but, "gentle" isn't really part of her vocabulary.)

(Incidentally, Lana was feeling much better last night, after two doses of an antibiotic for her ear infection and some Ibuprofen and Tylenol running through her for the ear pain. )

Anyway, Lana was washing the dinner dishes that could neither be hurt by or hurt her, while I was putting coffee in the coffee maker for morning (you know, with the delayed-timer function) - and I said to David, "How many scoops of coffee do you think I should put in?"

Lana answered, "One." Simutaneously, David answered, "Four and a half."

What impressed me with this was not Lana's (lousy) coffee making skills (one scoop of coffee for 8 cups?? Come on!) - but rather, that she recognized that a "how many" question required a numerical answer.

Deciding to test her comprehension skills further, I said, "Lana - who likes to drink coffee?"

Lana immediately answered, "Um...BA! And...Mommy! Stace!!" ("Yi Stace" is what she calls my sister, Stace.)

It's amazing to me, how much she understands, and how much she makes herself understood. (This morning, she made it very clear to David that Mommy would have let her eat fruit snacks in the car and that his refusal to let her eat fruit snacks in HIS car was a cause of immense displeasure to her.) (Sure, it sounded something like "Mommy car froooot snack eat! Wanna eat frooooot snack Ba car!! Wanna eat froooot snack now, Ba!!" But, she made herself understood - perfectly.) (It's true. I do let her eat fruit snacks in the car...does this make me public enemy number one? Or just dental enemy number one?)


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Breathing...In and Out

Things I am no longer holding my breath about:

1. The tax guy finally called. We do NOT owe the IRS $2,000. [Insert enormous sigh of relief here.] No, we cannot claim Lana until our 2007 taxes, but, at least we don't OWE any money. Also, the state of Ohio owes us $33.00. Cha-ching.

2. Lana has an ear infection. While I do not feel good about that, I am kind of relieved to know that there may have been an actual reason behind her sleepless nights. She slept last night from 9:30 to 8:00 AM this morning, with Gabriel.

3. I finally figured out how to make greens the likes of which Lana enjoyed in Vietnam. I have been experimenting with various and sundry greens purchased from various and sundry markets (from collard to mustard and back again), and Lana has turned up her nose at all of them. Yesterday, faced with an excess supply of baby spinach, I tried sauteing (sp?) (I am pretty sure I need an accent somewhere in that word, at a minimum) baby spinach with garlic and, voila - she LOVED THEM. ATE THEM UP. So, should you find yourself with a small Vietnamese child who is missing her greens, here goes:
Saute some fresh garlic in some vegetable oil.
Toss in several large handfuls of baby spinach.
Stir until it looks like, well, cooked spinach.
Drizzle with a little dark sesame oil and some Vietnamese style soy sauce. (NOT Japanese or Chinese style soy sauce - it won't taste right. I suppose it would work in a pinch, though.) Serve to child. Child will say, "OH! WOW! NUMMY! YUMMY! (It's okay to think said child is a FREAK, especially if you have hated cooked spinach your whole life.)

Things I am still worrying about:

1. J~ has a surgical consult with one of the top cancer centers in the Midwest on Monday.
2. I am coughing up a lung. Or something...


Monday, April 09, 2007

Happy Easter and Sleep

Lana has slept with Gabriel for the past three nights and significantly more amounts of sleep have been had in our house.

Lana's first Easter was impressive to her. I believe I have mentioned before that she is a candy fiend, so, any event that brings her MORE CANDY is really tops with her. She has picked up the words, "Wow" and "Awesome" from her pre-school pals. She repeated them constantly over the weekend. I am certain that, despite our Wednesday night Lenten workshops at church, she doesn't have a grasp, conceptually, of Easter, but, she certainly loves the candy that comes with it.

On Saturday morning, she and Gabriel attended an Easter Egg hunt at my mom's church (i.e. the church where my mother is one of 5 clergy persons.) She LOVED this. She wouldn't leave Gabriel's side and he helped her find her 12 eggs while he found his 12 eggs.

From there, we went to my mom's house for egg dying and lunch. Lana really enjoyed coloring the easter eggs, and then she and Gabe and their cousin T~ had another impromptu Easter Egg hunt around my mom's house. They were using plastic eggs, but, my brother and I remembered (and laughed about) the year that our parents hid real eggs around the house, and then 2 of them could not be found, and didn't show up until about 8 weeks later. With a horrific smell. Probably our parents didn't laugh about it AT THE TIME, but, it was funny in retrospect.

We drove up to my in-laws house in Michigan late Saturday afternoon. Saturday night, Lana and Gabriel slept in my in-laws guestroom on a futon couch. (You know, the kind that folds down into a bed? Incidentally, these "futon couches" bear very little resemblance to the futons that Husband and I slept on the year that we lived in Japan...)

Anyway, Lana and Gabe slept fairly well, with Lana only waking up once to go to the bathroom around 4:00 AM, and she went right back to sleep. At 8:00 AM, Gabriel came into the room where Husband and I were sleeping and said, "Lana's not in bed."

"What do you mean, Lana's not in bed?" I asked. (I was dead asleep, which is the only explanation I can give for such a stupid question.)

"I mean, she's not there." Gabe said.

I got up and went out into the living room and kitchen, to see if she was with my in-laws. The house was dark and quiet - my in-laws had already left for 8:00 mass. I checked both bathrooms, and Lana was not in either of them. I went back into the guest room, and looked UNDER the futon couch. There was Lana, sleeping peacefully, under the futon. Since she has been so sleep deprived lately, I didn't want to risk waking her up by moving her, so, I left her there. She slept under there for another hour. (Does this make me the world's most horrible mother?)

We missed going to church, but, since my in-laws church does not have a children's chapel during service, and while I thought I would feel horrible about that, I really don't feel too bad about it. I was not looking forward to trying to get Gabe and Lana to sit still for an hour in a packed sanctuary.

We had a wonderful meal with Husband's extended family - ham, pototoes, perogi, kielbasa and other polish specialties. Everyone ate too much. This was Lana' first experience eating baked ham (at least in the US) and she LOVED IT. She was less impressed with perogi and kielbasa.

I will try to post some pictures later today.


Friday, April 06, 2007


I am SO TIRED. Seriously, so very very tired.

I am not sure what happened to this child who formerly slept like the dead. I miss that child. Because THIS child, this child who has not been sleeping so much for the past few weeks, is EXHAUSTING ME.

We had two nights where she was up screaming like a banshee at 1:00 AM. Then we had some nights where she didn't scream, she just kind of moaned and yelled in her sleep on and off all night long. Nights where she wakes up needing to go the bathroom and then begs to sleep with Mommy or Daddy or Gabriel.

Yesterday, I took the day off and Husband and I drove to Ikea with the intention of getting a loft bed with a desk for Gabriel's room and a bed with a trundle for Lana's room, so that Gabriel can sleep with her occasion. (They both ask to be able to sleep in the same room on a fairly regular basis, so, I thought if her bed had a trundle bed then Gabe could sleep in there for a few nights and maybe Lana would go back to sleeping 10 to 12 hours per night.)

Anyway, we got to Ikea and were totally overwhelmed by the gazillion possibilities. And overwhelmed by how VERY MANY PEOPLE were there on a Thursday at 10:30 in the morning.

So, finally, after 2 hours of wandering around trying to find what we wanted, we settled on the Tromso loft bed and desk for Gabriel (you can see them here and here ) and we wanted the Robin bed and trundle bed for Lana's room. (This

Problematically, they were sold out of the bed and trundle bed. AND THEY HAD NO OTHER TRUNDLE BEDS available either. NONE.

I'm sorry. This is freaking IKEA. Reasonably priced fashionable Swedish furniture solutions!! HOW CAN THEY HAVE NO TRUNDLE BEDS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE?? HOW???

And THEN, despite following their instructions for actually locating the boxes we needed for Gabe's bed and desk, we were not able to actually find them. We had to find an IKEA employee (no easy task considering the place was SWAMPED) and they took us to the aisle/bin where the boxes were supposed to be, and low and behold, the boxes were not there. So THEN a manager had to be located, who had to make phone calls, who spoke to someone who said that, "oh, yes, those desks had to be moved to different location because of x, y or z." (I don't remember). So, THEN, we had to go that aisle to find the desk, which was sitting in a bin marked, "MALM Queen Sized Bed Frame". Which the bin WASN'T, because it was filled with boxes of Gabriel's desk. So, heaven help any IKEA customers who wanted the MALM bed frame...

Anyway, we got it home and Husband put the bed and desk together and Lana was ticked because Gabe got a new bed and she didn't. So, we told her she could sleep in Gabe's room in her sleeping bag.

And there was much getting up and down by the children, and then there was much screaming and yelling about them not being asleep and lines were drawn in the sand about what was going to happen if a parent had to come into the bedroom again, and then, of course, we had to go back in, and then Lana was made to go and sleep in her own bed and all hell broke loose. By which I mean she screamed for about an hour (during which time I had a complete and utter meltdown because she has been giving us a hard time with sleeping for two weeks now and I've just about reached the end of my damn rope) and she finally fell asleep in her own bed, against her will, around 10:45. And then she was up screaming and yelling at 12:15, and she refused to go the bathroom, and then when put back in her bed she demanded to go to the bathroom, and then claimed that she was in pain but couldn't identify where, and I gave up and took her into the guest room where she fell asleep and I kind of fell asleep, except that she woke up every now and then to cry for no apparent reason for a minute or two, which would wake me up and then it takes me a while to get back to sleep, and then she would cry for a minute or two again and the whole stupid cycle began again.

Anyway, the point is, I'm tired. And fed up with this sleep nonsense.

This mornign she woke up and announced that she "NO SLEEP IN LANA'S BED. NO SLEEP THERE." And, frankly, I was tempted to chuck her and the bed out the window.

Anyway, I have no idea what to do about this situation. We have been to the doctor and she is not sick. Any advice would be appreciated.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007


I feel like I have spent the last two days consumed with worry.

I worry, first and foremost, that J~ might die. This worry eats at me like some kind of wretched rabid squirrel has taken up refuge in my chest cavity. J~ is my uncle, my boss, my mentor. J~ is the glue that holds our small law firm together. J~ is the glue that holds that small side of my family together. J~ is glue. He must not die. He must not.

I worry that Lana is going to struggle in school because her "cognitive language" base has been destroyed by the loss of her first language. (Perhaps I shouldn't read articles about older child adoption and language immersion when I am already consumed with worry.) Still and all, I worry.

I worry about British sailors taken hostage by a madman. (It looks like this worry is one I can scratch off my list.)

I worry about the fact that I haven't heard from my tax guy and it's already the 4th of April.

I worry about the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

I worry about my friend T~, who lost her baby on Monday, at 5.5 months gestation. ( if she just PUT HIM DOWN SOMEWHERE and doesn't remember where he is, and not as if his heart, unexplainedly, ceased to beat within her.) Monday was, truly, a horrible day, all around. T~ won't answer her phone. I worry about myself, as a human being, that I am almost relieved that she doesn't answer. I don't know what words to offer, right now, if she did answer. She is a professional friend, not a true blue Girlfriend, but, still and all - I worry about her.

I worry, I worry. I need one of those worry stones, I think.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Hard Things

Hard Thing to hear (from a family member):

I am heartbroken to tell you that J~'s cancer is back. (J~ being someone as important to me as my father.)

Hard thing to say (to a client):

I regret to inform you that your mother is dead. On the bright side, here's the $9,000 she left you, even though she hadn't seen you since 1971.


Dear Cancer,

Dear Cancer,

You suck ass. Seriously. Could you leave my family alone for a while?

I hate you.


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