Sunday, September 30, 2007

I can no do this, Mommy

I debated about writing about this, but, then, I decided, sometimes motherhood means you get peed upon, and why not just be honest about that?

When I took Lana to the doctor's office on Friday morning, the doctor wanted a urine sample. (This is kind of par for the course with Lana, because of the bladder/UTI infection she came home from Vietnam with - if she's running a fever, or has been running a fever, the doctor wants to make sure she doesn't have a UTI again.)

Normally, the doctor's office has these, uh, devices, which, for lack of a better explanation, look like upside down white plastic top hats. And you put the white plastic top hat type device under the seat of the toilet, and it catches the, uh, specimen.

But, on Friday, they were out of these handy devices, so, the nurse handed me a DIXIE CUP and told me to do my best.

Can I state, categorically, right now, that this is definitely one area in which boys are easier to parent than girls? I mean, with boys, at least they can AIM at the receptacle, right? At least this has been my experience the two times in my life as a mother-to-a-boy that this has come up.)

Anyhow, Lana sat on the toilet seat, and I, er, placed the Dixie Cup sort of below and in front of her.

Lana looked at me warily. " How 'bout, how 'bout I jus' go pee in da TOILET? How 'bout 'dat idea?" she said.

"Well, normally that idea would be TOPS in my book, sweetie, but, today, we need to put some pee in this cup."

"I can no do dis, mom." She stated, flatly.

"You don't have to go pee?" I ask her.

"I can no' do dis, mommy. I can NO' PEE ON YOU' HAND. I can no' do it."

"I don't want you to pee on my hand. I want you to pee in the cup."

"No mommy. If I pee on 'da cup, 'twill go on you' hand. I CAN NO PEE ON YOU' HAND, MOMMY. 'DAT YUCKY. Big big yucky."

There is no doubt that Mommy agrees with you, 100%, sweet cheeks, I think to myself.

"How about we just try to hit the cup?" I ask.

Which she does, sort of. Enough for the nurse to test anyway.

"Do you got pee on you' hand, mommy? I sorry you got pee on your hand, mommy, but, you gotta wash now. You gotta wash your hand LONG LONG time. Use lotta soap."

Believe me when I tell you that I did just that. A LONG LONG time, with a lot of soap.


PS - the good news is, it was all for nothing - Lana just has a cold, no UTI

Friday, September 28, 2007

It's Possible I Should Not Be Entrusted With the Care of Other Creatures

I was sitting at our kitchen table this morning eating cereal with Gabriel. (I was eating the twig like high fiber cereal that has virtually no Weight Watcher points...Gabe was enjoying a more kid-friendly bowl of Kix. (Kid-tested, mother approved and all that jazz. We used to buy Berry Berry Kix, which was a favorite of both Gabe and I, but, I cannot find it anymore. I think maybe they don't make it, which is a shame, really, cause it was tasty.)

Anyway, I heard a noise that sounded a little like a baby crying. I said, "Gabe, did you hear that?" And Gabe, being 7, and totally engrossed in his early morning Sponge Bob Square Pants + Breakfast Cereal induced trance-like-state said, "Huh?"

So, I said, "turn Sponge Bob off for a second and listen." Which he did, and we did, and nothing happened. We heard nothing.

So, Gabe turned Sponge Bob back on and I walked towards the foyer, and I heard the noise again, and I realized that it didn't sound like a BABY crying, it sounded like a CAT crying.

I called to Gabe - "Gabe, are you watching the episode where Sponge Bob and Gary get separated?" (Gary being Sponge Bob's pet snail, who, uh, meows a lot, for all of y'all who don't have a 7-year-old in your home and are therefore not intimately familiar with almost every Sponge Bob Square Pants Episode ever made.)

"No mom, Gary's not even in this episode."


I heard the crying again, and I couldn't figure out where it was coming from since my ability to determine which direction sounds are coming from was a casualty of the Great Ear Drum Rupture Nightmare of Thanksgiving Weekend 2005.

I sent Gabe out back to see if the cat was in the pool. (Yes, I know that's insane, but, I couldn't figure out what would make the cat make that pathetic sound, aside from a near death experience.)

The Big Orange Cat had been hanging around me all morning, so, I knew it was the Small Auxiliary Cat that was in trouble.

Gabe came in to report that the cat was not outside. And also definitely not drowning. Which is a blessing, because, truthfully, beside being heartbreaking, having the cat drown in the pool would probably wreak some serious trouble on the liner.

The bus was coming, so, Gabe ran out and got on the bus, and I walked through the house, calling for the cat, which is normally a useless endeavor. The Big Orange Cat knows its name and will occasionally come when called. The Small Auxiliary Cat has NO CLUE what its name is.

I went to check Lana's room (where she was still sleeping) because the cat, despite an overwhelming amount of evidence that Lana does not love him, LOVES LANA like nobody's business, and normally fights like hell to sleep under her bed. Which she hates, because he then waits until she is asleep and then jumps up on her bed and tries to stealthily love all over her in her sleep, which freaks her the hell out. (And really, what normal person would NOT be freaked out by a very furry someone purring like a freight train and licking you out of a peaceful slumber?)

But, the cat was not in Lana's room, nor in any of his other usual haunts, and I finally found him, locked in the basement in the gift wrap and holiday crap closet. Which I could not remember opening at any time in the last week. (But, I did remember having argued with the cat about NOT sleeping with Lana some two days ago, so, I know for SURE the cat wasn't stuck in the closet for a week.)

Husband says he remembers looking in the closet for a pair of scissors yesterday, so, that must have been when the cat got trapped.

Either way, the cat was hungry, thirsty, and p*ssed at me.

He's sulking in the corner right now, and I need to take a certain little girl, who is still sick, to the doctor's office.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Good News In Blogland

Several other Vietnam Adoption bloggers have gotten good news this week, and I just want to send out congratulations!

First, Bunny's Mom FINALLY has Travel Approval to go and get her 9-year-old boy twins. Send her good wishes!

E. at Looking For George received her referral on the 19th, and while I have privately sent her congratulations, I haven't mentioned it on my blog. I also haven't mentioned on my blog that E. is very very attractive when her hair is purple, so, go send her good wishes for her new son and tell her she should definitely go purple again for Halloween at!F95C3C89A943C6DE!1316.entry . (Kidding E!! :-P )

And Ryan and Heather have received their referral of a little girl in Ho Chi Minh City, after a very long long wait!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I believe I am officially the worst adoptive mom of a Vietnamese child on the planet.

It totally slipped my mind that it was Autumn Moon Festival last weekend.

Did I take her to Ann Arbor for some festivities? No.

Did I even bother to LOOK at the moon with her? No.

I think I might officially suck in the area of "honoring birth culture".

It didn't occur to me until I was asked, this morning, by another attorney, who is also an adoptive parent, if I had taken Lana to the Autumn Moon Festival in Ann Arbor. (I should note that this attorney adopted DOMESTICALLY, so, the fact that HE knew about the Vietnamese holiday and I didn't makes it seem even worse.)


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Poor Choice?

I'm home this morning with a certain tiny girl who is running a fever of 103.

And as she snuggles up next to me on the couch, she demands, "read me book, mommy" and she grabs a book off the coffee table - a book her big brother took out of his school library early last week.

And I am about halfway through it, when the following thought occurs to me:

Perhaps "Are You My Mother?" is a poor choice to read to a little girl who's had 3 mothers before her 5th birthday???


Sunday, September 23, 2007

In Which I Blather About the Warren Jeffs Case

In case you haven't been watching the news much lately, a man is on trial in Utah right now, charged with the rape of a 14-year-old girl. Specifically, he is being charged as an accomplice to rape, which is kind of an interesting tactic on the part of the prosecution.

The man on trial, Warren Jeffs, is the "spiritual" leader of a bunch of sick assholes who call themselves the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (I should note here that "bunch of sick assholes" is NOT a legal term, and that the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is NOT associated with what is commonly known as the Mormon Church, or the LDS Church, who I suspect find the activities of Warren Jeffs to be even more despicable than I find them, seeing as he's basically slandering the name of their church in order to justify his actions. I should also note that I am using the term "spiritual" leader in an ironic way.)

In order to understand what Mr. Jeffs is being charged with, you have to understand the law regarding "accessories" or "accomplices" - generally speaking (and please note that I do not have a license to practice law in the State of Utah, so, I am speaking in general terms) - one who is an accomplice to a crime is considered to be equally culpable as the person who committed the crime. I.e., if two folks plan a bank robbery, but only one of them walks into the bank with the note and the gun, they are BOTH still equally guilty of robbing the bank. This area of the law can get kind of murky when something unexpected occurs - let's say the guy who went into the bank with the gun shoots and kills someone during the robbery. Can the guy who helped him plan the robbery be charged with homicide? And the answer is "probably".

At any rate, the theory the prosecution is working under is that Mr. Jeffs facilitated the rape of a 14-year-old girl, and is therefore guilty of rape as an accessory to rape.

And while a lot of people in the legal community are up-in-arms about this, I personally think it's kind of brilliant.

The main argument that is being raised as an objection to this prosecution is that the rapist himself, - i.e. the guy who is attached to the penis that actually penetrated the girl - hasn't been charged with rape.

And I can truthfully tell you two things: 1. I aced Criminal Law in law school (in fact I "took the book" so to speak) but 2. as I have previously mentioned on this blog, my criminal defense practice is limited to housing court.

So, honestly, I do not know whether it is NECESSARY, strictly speaking, to charge the primary actor with a crime in order to go after his or her accomplice. I'm going to make an educated guess that it is NOT. (Any criminal defense attorneys out there, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong about this - or, really, any part of my analysis.) But, I'm going to make an equally educated guess that it is probably pretty rare to charge an accomplice when the primary actor hasn't been charged, and that it is likely almost unheard of in a rape case.

So, what we have here is a case where the guy who did not actually COMMIT the rape is being charged with rape as an accomplice, and the guy who did commit the rape is not being charged with rape (and, I believe, testifying for the prosecution, but, I could be wrong about that.)

What Mr. Jeffs is actually being accused of doing, specifically, is forcing a 14-year-old girl to enter into a marriage with her 19-year-old first cousin (all together now, can I hear an "EEEEEWWWWWW, YUCK" as you all picture a first cousin of the opposite gender and contemplate that for a second?), which resulted in the 19-year-old cousin insisting that the 14-year-old girl "be a wife" to him. (Let's all say EEEEEEEWWWWWW, YUCK again, shall we?)

There are so many things wrong with this scenario that I'm not even sure where to start, but, let me just throw this out, for sh*ts and giggles:


(Again, I don't happen to know the law in the state of Utah, and, in fact, I would really be curious to know what the Utah code says on that point.)

And also, in most jurisdictions, FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLDS are not allowed to get married.

(See reference above regarding Utah).

Furthermore, just as a matter of curiosity, I highly doubt that these two crazy kids went to the county courthouse in whatever county this alleged "marriage" ceremony took place in to obtain a marriage license, and what do you want to bet that the marriage was not performed by a person who was licensed to perform marriages in the State of Utah? (Again, I don't KNOW this to be a fact, I'm just speculating that this so-called-marriage was NOT a legal marriage in any sense of the phrase "legal marriage".)

Moving on in my (admittedly haphazard and possibly ill-informed) legal analysis - in most jurisdictions, when someone has sex with a 14-year-old girl (with the possible exception of another person under the age of 17), regardless of whether or not the girl wanted to have sex, the act is RAPE. This is called statutory rape, which is very interesting from a legal standpoint, because it is one of the few crimes that does not require INTENT*.

Most crimes require that one intends to commit them. For example, if I go to the farmer's market to buy a packet of oregano, and I buy a baggie of green herbs, and I truly believe it is oregano, even if the bag is filled with marijuana, I'm NOT GUILTY of purchasing an illegal substance, because I BELIEVE I bought oregano. In order to be guilty of buying marijuana, I have to intend to buy marijuana. (Now, I am sure that most defense attorneys will tell you that they all have clients sitting in prison who have been burned on this point - but, I'm telling you what the theory says.)

But the thing with statutory rape is, it's still rape, EVEN IF the person who has sex with the 14- year-old DOESN'T KNOW she's 14. You can be guilty of statutory rape EVEN IF you don't INTEND to have sex with a 14-year-old. (You have to intend to have the sex, but, even if the girl shows up with a believable US Passport and Driver's License that SAY she's 18, if she's really 14, having sex with her is statutory rape.) You don't have to intend to have sex with an underage girl to be guilty, and the underage girl doesn't have to be unwilling. Willing or unwilling, intent or no intent - it's statutory rape.

But, oh! oh! oh! you might say. The boy was MARRIED to the girl. It's different. And she never TOLD anyone she was being raped, so THERE. (I think I've already established that the fact that she never told anyone she was being raped is irrelevant - even if she was a willing participant who was making daily runs to Miss Kitty's House of Trashy Lingerie for more intriguing bedtime costumes, if she was 14 and he was 19, it's Statutory Rape.)

Now, in some jurisdictions, marriage is very likely a defense to a charge of statutory rape. Let's say you have a 16-year-old who marries a 20-year-old. (I believe this would require the parental consent of the 16-year-old's parents, in most states at any rate). Under most circumstances, it would be statutory rape for a 20-year-old to knock proverbial boots with a 16-year-old, but, if they are MARRIED, well, now you have a different ball of wax. We expect married people to knock boots. (In fact, in my state, married people who have NEVER knocked boots together can get an annulment on that fact alone, which would imply that non-boot-knocking-married-people are not actually married at all.) Therefore, marriage would trump the statutory rape statute. However, this presumes a valid, legal, binding marriage.

And as I have state above, I highly doubt that the marriage in question was legally binding. And even it was, it surely should have either been void or voidable. (First cousins, under-age bride who was coerced into consenting through fear for her immortal soul, probably not performed by a licensed officiant, etc.)

So, if the marriage wasn't valid, it wouldn't be a valid defense to statutory rape. And if so, then anyone who facilitated the sex between the 19-year-old and the 14-year-old would be an accessory to that crime.

Therefore, if it is TRUE that Warren Jeffs arranged the (morally repugnant) marriage of a 14-year-old girl to her 19-year-old first cousin, and if that marriage was not legally binding, or even if it was, if it was VOID or VOIDABLE, then DAMN STRAIGHT I think he's guilty of rape as an accessory.

And I'm anxious to see if the jury agrees with me.


*Curiously, bigamy is one of the few other crimes that do not require intent. Which means, I guess, if you accidentally marry two people, without meaning to do so, you're still guilty.

Her name was Lola...

Go on over and send congratulations and good wishes to Nicole, as Baby Lola has finally made her big entrance.


Friday, September 21, 2007


I attended a CLE today (continuing legal education) on Issues in Juvenile Law. (Deliquency, Child Abuse, and Child Neglect). In my state, all attorneys must take 24 hours of continuing legal education every two years in order to continue to practice. Some courts require that attorneys have specific CLE credits in order to continue to practice in that particular court, and the Juvenile Court in my county is one of those courts.

I haven't done much work in this area, but, I decided to take the CLE just in case I wanted to take any cases in the coming year. (Last year, I had to turn down two cases because I hadn't had the CLE that would allow me to practice in Juvenile Court). (And also because I don't want to be stuck trying to get a bunch of hours come December, because, well, that just sucks.)

Anyway, much of the CLE was a review of case law and some discussion of how to use expert witnesses effectively, which was all well and good, and the speakers were actually funny and animated, which is nice.

But, one session just ripped my heart out.

The medical examiner for my part of the state (she serves 21 counties) came to speak about child abuse and neglect cases that, tragically, end on the autopsy tables in her lab. Her lecture was riveting and utterly, completely, and totally horrifying.


The things that she showed us that human beings are capable of doing to their own children, or allowing others to do to their own children*, are...inhuman. All through her presentation, I just felt a volcano of rage exploding inside me. I think if you had put some of the parents of those children in the front of that room full of 75 attorneys, by the end of her presentation, I think we would have torn them limb from limb with our bare hands.

And we were mostly speechless. (Imagine that, rendering a room of 75 attorneys speechless.) Finally, one person raised their hand (it was the Q&A portion) and said, "how do you do this? How do you do this without losing your mind?"

And the medical examiner said, "Funny you should ask that because one of my residents asked me that this morning. She's thinking of changing to a different medical speciality. And I do take these cases home with me, these cases, they haunt me. But, when it's all said and done, I'm the last person who can speak for these babies. I'm the only person who can tell the end of their story to a jury. Someone needs to be their voice."

She's right - these children - their stories deserve to be heard.

There have been few times when I have felt *incapable* of handling a task in the practice of law. I have felt inexperienced, overwhelmed, and in need of assistance and direction, but, if you threw a case at me and said, "Lawmommy, you need to take on this negligence, or medical malpractice or adverse possession or replevin or [insert obscure lawsuit here] action" - I would probably run around like crazy and be stressed out and ask a million questions of other attorneys more experienced than I - but, I have rarely thought, "I just couldn't do that." Even when it comes to criminal defense - (I generally limit my criminal practice to housing code violations) - but, if a judge assigned a crimal defense matter to me, if the case didn't involve a child, I would do it -because I believe in our system of justice, and the importance of defense counsel.

But, as I sat in the lecture hall today, looking at the slides of tiny battered bodies, it occured to me, that I do not think I could defend these parents. And I do not think I have it in me to take assignments from juvenile court in which in would be my job to argue, on behalf of a parent, that a child should be returned to a parent who has abused or neglected them. Regardless of how strongly I believe in system, I just don't have it in me.


*In many of the cases presented to us today, the perpetrator of the violence against the child was the boyfriend of the mother, who was not the child's father, and, in many cases, the abuse had been documented over a long period of time, but, the parent avoided detection by never going to the same ER twice.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Two Memes

Quite a while ago, Bunny's Mom tagged me for the "Middle Name" meme, and I've been all angsty and conflicted about playing because my middle name is pretty unusual - which combined with my first name (which I may have mentioned on occasion on this blog) - makes me readily identifiable to any freaky stalker types. So, I'm playing along with a middle name that isn't mine, but, would have been mine, had my parents named me Jennifer as they originally intended. (Which they didn't, since something like half of the parents of girls the year I was born named their daughters Jennifer. Evidently they were all obsessed with a movie called "Love Story" - in which the character named Jennifer, played by Ali McGraw, tragically DIES after marrying her One True Love, played by Ryan O'Neil. Which I think goes to show you that the mothers in the 70's were kind of twisted and tragic somehow.)

Anyway, I'm told I was going to be Jennifer Grace. So, here goes, five character traits of me, starting with the letters of the middle name I wasn't given:

G - goofy

R - resourceful

A - affectionate

C - concupiscent

E - emphatic


5 Songs Meme

Five Songs That Remind You of High School

1. Don't Cry - Asia

2. Pour Some Sugar on Me - Def Leopard

3. Kiss Me Deadly - Lita Ford

4. Girls With Guns - Tommy Shaw (I am actually kind of desperate (yes, pathetic, I know) to get a hold of the songs on the album of the same name, which is way out of print and insanely expensive to get a used copy. Does anyone know of any music download service that has this? Zune Marketplace (the only one I know how to use) does not. :-( )

5. Manic Monday - The Bangles

Five Songs That Remind You of College

1. Fat Bottomed Girls - Queen

2. Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton

3. Shiny Happy People Holding Hands - R.E.M.

4. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana

5. Runaway Train - Soul Asylum

Five Songs You Would Put on a Playlist for your Significant Other

(I actually just did this (because evidently, deep inside, I am a 14-year-old girl. Who knew? Anyway, these five are actually on the playlist I made for Husband.)

1. More Than This - Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music.

2. Nothing Like You & I - The Perishers

3. Take Me For Longing - Alison Kraus

4. Inisheer - Greg Trooper

5. Morning Song - Jewel

5 Sexiest Songs You Can Think Of

(I make no explanation or apology about what this may or may not say about me)

1. Closer - Nine Inch Nails

2. Essence - Lucinda Williams

3. Flesh for Fantasy - Billy Idol

4. In Your Eyes - Peter Gabriel

5. Shake That - Eminem and Nate Dogg

Anyone who wants to play along - feel free!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Meredith Grey is either An Idiot or A Masochist

Warning: Grey's Anatomy Season 3 Spoiler Ahead


Yesterday on my nightly 2 miles on the treadmill, I watched Episode 4 of Season 3 of Grey's Anatomy.

This is the episode where Meredith has acute appendicitis and has to have an appendectomy and gets high on morphine and says all kinds of inappropriate things. And then McDreamy backs out of the whole "dating contest" Meredith has set up between McDreamy and Finn*, and then SHE breaks it off with Finn.

I'm sorry, but, as hot as the chemistry is between Meredith and McDreamy, that was really stupid, or, Meredith is a masochist who doesn't really want to be happy.

Come on - hot, widowed, thoughtful veterinarian who brings her strawberry ice-cream because he knows it is her favorite....or, hot married self-absorbed surgeon who didn't bother to mention he was married until his wife showed up, and then, rather than staying with Meredith, went BACK to his cheating wife who was dancing the horizontal tango with his best friend back in New York the whole time he was with Meredith in Seattle?

Don't get me wrong - McDreamy, is hot. But Finn? Also hot. Possibly hotter. (This may indicate my preference for hazel eyed brown haired men, I don't know.) And McDreamy was right, Finn IS the better man. Which is why Meredith should have chosen him.

Of course, if Meredith had chosen Finn, then she could have lived, like, happily ever after, and then, I guess, there wouldn't be much of a show. So, I guess her choice makes sense in terms of its entertainment value.

So...question for discussion - who would YOU have chosen, were you in Meredith's shoes? Finn or McDreamy? Myself - I'd go with the guy who knows what kind of ice cream I like.


*Why did no one on this show nickname Finn "McDoggy" or "McVet" or something?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Why Do You Torment Me This Way, Rachael Ray?

Quite some time ago, Husband and I purchased Rachael Ray’s cookbook “365” which has a different recipe for every day of the year.

Now, I do usually LIKE Rachael’s recipes – I wouldn’t have purchased her cookbook if I didn’t, but, I am finding that many recipes from 365 actually take longer than 30 Minutes to prepare. (If you’ve been, you know, living under a rock or taking care of a sleepless child for the past 2 years, it’s possible that you don’t know that Rachael’s shtick is “30 minute meals” – real food you can actually prepare in 30 minutes.)

Anyway, yesterday afternoon I was perusing “365” and trying to decide what to make for dinner. And I saw a recipe called “Pretzel Coated Chicken Breasts in a Cheese Sauce” – or something along those lines. And it sounded good, and decadent enough for Sunday dinner, so, I decided to try it.

So, I pulled some chicken breasts out of the freezer and put them in the fridge to defrost, and I began preparing dinner around 5:30, expecting that we might eat at 6:10 or so.

Yeah…not so much. We didn’t eat until 7:15.

First, I was supposed to crush 5 oz. of pretzels until they were the consistency of breadcrumbs. The recipe called for me to put them in my blender, but, since my blender was recently the victim of an unfortunate accident which rendered it useless, I set about to crushing the pretzels in a small food processor left over from when Gabe was a baby and I had a grand vision of feeding him only homemade baby food. (For the record, that didn’t happen. He ended up being a Gerber baby all the way.)

Anyway, it took forever to grind up the damn pretzels. And then I had to pound the chicken breasts with a mallet, which took a while, so, by the time I had finished that portion of the recipe, it was already 6:00. At which I decided I was REALLY thirsty and what I really wanted was an enormous glass of sweet tea. Which of course I did not have made, so, I put two jam jars in the microwave with a cup of water in each (because I needed some boiling water in which to steep the tea bags and other water in which to melt the 1/3 cup of sugar to make the sugar syrup for the pitcher of tea.*)

I turned the microwave on for 90 seconds and then proceeded with the next part of the recipe, which was to coat the chicken breasts in the pretzel dust, then in some beaten egg, and then again in the pretzel dust.

This was a sticky endeavor that involved messing around with raw chicken and raw egg, so, I forgot about the water in the microwave. And then 5 oz of pretzels was NOT ENOUGH to cover the three chicken breasts I had prepared (even though the recipe had called for it to be enough for FOUR), and I had to improvise and I just covered the third piece of chicken in Italian breadcrumbs.

So, after I had covered the three chicken breasts in the pretzel mixture and the breadcrumbs, and scrubbed my hands and fingernails and the counter so as to banish any food bourne type nasty germs that might have been attached to the raw chicken or raw eggs, I examined Rachael’s cheese sauce recipe and I recognized that it was really just an improvised Welsh Rarebit without the dark beer, and so I scrapped Rachael’s cheese sauce recipe and made up my own Welsh Rarebit**, which, considering I had pre-grated sharp cheddar and good tangy mustard and a nice Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald ale to throw in, was bubbling nicely very quickly.

So, then I put some oil in a pan and let it heat up, at which point I remembered that I was still THIRSTY and really really wanted sweet tea. So, I turned on the microwave again for 90 seconds and watched the oil in the pan to see if it was hot enough to cook the chicken.

What happened next is kind of a blur. But, the microwave dinged and I pulled out the first jam jar and set it on the counter and dropped in three tea bags and set it to the side. I pulled out my sugar canister, and I reached behind me to grab the other jam jar, and as I touched it with my fingers it just…broke. It actually kind of broke in a sort of spectacular way, with pieces of glass flying out of the microwave and LANDING IN THE HOT OIL, along with much of the water that was in it.

I seriously don’t understand how it broke or why it broke – I didn’t DROP the jar, I just TOUCHED the jar.

Miraculously, my hand didn’t get sliced to ribbons, BUT, I must say, that broken glass does NOT fry well. And also that old adage about oil and water is pretty much dead on in terms of accuracy, because the glass and the water hit the hot oil and UGLY things happened. UGLY things.

So, I turned off the heat under the oil and I stared at the stove in kind of a daze for about 3 minutes, wondering how, exactly, to dispose of a pan full of hot oil and broken glass. At which point Husband came down from his shower and I announced, “Well, I have officially RUINED dinner. We might as well just order a damn pizza because THIS is a mess.”

Well, Husband poured the mess into an empty coffee can and scrubbed out the pan and picked the pieces of glass out of the microwave (injuring himself in the process) and put in some fresh grapeseed oil, and had the chicken frying in about 10 minutes. (Although while accomplishing this, he DID suggest that I was personally lacking in the requisite HAPPY HAPPY RACHAELY PERKINESS*** to make a Rachael Ray recipe...grrr....)

I boiled some water in our electric kettle and finished making the sweet tea, and we did actually EAT at 7:15, and the chicken WAS really tasty, and even my kids liked it (without the cheese sauce because they are both food purists who reject sauces of all kinds). But it sure felt like a lot more work than a 30 minute meal!!


* I have been making sweet tea in precisely this way since I was 11 years old, and I have never before had an incident like this.

**This is a dish I can make in my sleep. I am confident in my fondue abilities.

***Oh, come on. Those of you who actually KNOW Husband, don't you think he would have totally STRANGLED ME IN MY SLEEP if he was forced to live with a woman who ever exhibited perkiness on the level of Rachael Ray??? Back me up on this!!

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Gabriel: I'm cold. I want hot chocolate.

Lana: What hot chocolate?

Gabriel: It's a drink. A warm drink. For drinking in the winter, when it's cold outside and you want something to warm you up inside. I need something to warm up my inside, cause it was so cold at my soccer game. But, it's not winter yet.

Lana: What winter?

Gabriel: When it snows and gets real cold. Oooh, and, in the winter, we go to talk to this...person. His name is Santa, and if you are good, you can tell this person, Santa, what kind of toys you want, and he brings some of them to the house, on Christmas, if you've been good. It's awesome. We have to be good, though.

(Gabriel runs to coffee table to grab a picture of himself on Santa's lap and shows it to Lana.)

Gabriel: Here, this is Santa. This is me and Santa. In Christmastown.*

Lana: Why I not in this picture?

Gabriel: You weren't here yet. But, THIS year, we'll get a picture of ME and YOU talking to Santa.

Lana: Yeah! A picture of ME and YOU and Daddy and Mommy! Talkin' to Santa. Awesome!


*Gabriel believes that Frankenmuth, Michigan is actually called Christmastowne. This is because we have always spent Thanksgiving there, and on the Friday after Thanksgiving we take him to see Santa, who is just sitting in the town square. For this reason, Gabe started calling Frankenmuth "Christmastown" when he was about 3 years old.

Friday, September 14, 2007

I really never thought I would come to Britney's defense...

I am shocked to find myself compelled to say what I am about to say.

But, I'm going to say it anyway.

Go look at this photograph of Britney spears and then come back.;_ylt=AkC3fUsXU8O_SuYTlr2NiRknHL8C

Okay, are you back?


Here's the thing. Say what you will about the really bad weave Britney has on her head, but THIS GIRL IS NOT FAT. She's not. She has breasts. She has hips. GOD FORBID a sex symbol in this country should have breasts and hips! She has TWO BABIES under that age of 2, does she not? Hurray for breasts and hips, I say.

No, she's not looking like a skeleton like Angelina Jolie or Ellen Pompeo (and yes, I KNOW Ellen Pompeo insists she is eating. Whatever. Maybe she is. She's still too thin.) Skeletons are NOT sexy.

What have we come too, in terms of body expectations, when, given SO MANY OTHER REASONS TO BEAT UP BRITNEY SPEARS (like, maybe, her failure to actual SING or DANCE which is, really, her job) - must we hold the standard of beauty to such a ridiculously high bar that we are going to say she is FAT?

So, I implore you, please - if you need to insult poor Britney - go after her voice, her poor choice in hair pieces, her lousy choreography, or her unimaginative lyrics, even her questionable parenting technique, but, really. Let's not say she's fat. Cause she's not.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Air-Blown Halloween Glory

Yesterday afternoon, Lana and I were waiting for my prescription* to be filled at Mega Grocery Store Chain that is Not Wal-Mart, and we had about 20 minutes to kill.

We wandered around the store for a few minutes, and I just let her look at whatever she wanted to look at (with the exception of a rack of condoms in the health and beauty aisle, which I think she was drawn to because the boxes were so many different colors. I am sure that the marketing geniuses at Trojan and Lifestyles would love to know that their boxes are eye-catching to four-year-olds, but, I really wasn’t ready to have “that talk” just yet.)

We came to the “seasonal” aisle, currently decked out for Halloween, which I had been vaguely trying to avoid because Lana is totally a Sugar Addict (as am I), and I didn’t want to have to have a fight about the fact that we were not going to buy a gigantic bag of fun-size Nerds. (Mostly because, if we had a giant bag of fun-size Nerds six weeks before Halloween, they would be LONG GONE before Halloween arrived, which really isn’t something that anybody in my house needs. Talk about a sugar rush.)

In the middle of the aisle were two of those giant inflatable items. You know what I am talking about – recent additions to holiday decorations, also used for sporting events? This is what I mean - ). Anyway, there were two of them: one kind of like this and one kind of like this except that it had a spooky looking house inside instead of the skeleton head.

Lana was fascinated by the ghost coming out of the pumpkin, because, well, she’s four and it was a giant inflatable pumpkin. And also because about once a minute, the ghost would settle back down into the jack-o-lantern and then pop back up again. It was a jack-in-the-box-jack-o-lantern, if you can imagine.

She stared at it. She was TRANSFIXED by all its air-blown glory. At first she just stared at it quietly, and then she made a sound, a sound like, “oooooooooooooohhhhh”, a sound of complete and utter delight.

One of the store employees walked by and said, “Do you like the pumpkin?”

“Shesh” she breathed, almost reverently. (This is how she pronounces ‘yes’ – I don’t know if it’s a speech impediment or a by product of the fact that she is still learning to speak English.)

“What are you going to be for Halloween?” the store employee asked.

Lana looked up at me, confused. (We haven’t really discussed Halloween with her. This contact with the giant inflatable jack-o-lantern-jack-in-the-box was her first exposure to the concept.)

Lana looked at me for an answer to the employee’s question.

“This is her first Halloween,” I said.

The employee looked at me like I was nuts.

“We adopted her in Vietnam eight months ago, so, she’s never seen Halloween before.”

“Oh,” the employee said. “Well, this is sure going to be fun for her. What about Christmas? Do you think she celebrated Christmas before?”

“Probably not - definitely not the way we celebrate here” I said.

“Well, if she’s that impressed with the pumpkin, I think she’s going to be REALLY excited when Christmas rolls around.”

I think the employee might be right about that. Very, very right.


*Evidently, one of the reasons I have had NO SUCCESS in losing any weight, despite all my Sydney Bristow/Dr. McDreamy inspired walking, is because my thyroid has crapped out. Which is why we were waiting for a prescription to be filled.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I’m more than a little bit freaked out today. I think it’s the fact that it’s a Tuesday, again, like it was six years ago.

The sky is gray, here today. It’s not that impossibly blue blue sky like it was six years ago. I am grateful for the gray sky this morning. I think that a blue sky day would have been too much déjà vu.

I’ve written about 9/11 before – on two occasions. I honestly don’t feel capable of writing about it today. I can’t.

Last year, I wrote this: And back in
April of 2006, I wrote this:

I wish I could think of something eloquent or meaningful or poignant or something. Anything. But, I’m coming up empty. I guess I’m flat busted in the word-department today, and I just want to get through the day without tears or disaster.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

Eight Months - A New Normal

Today marks eight months since we went from being a family of three to a family of four.

When I woke up this morning, I thought back to our first night with Lana, eight months ago tonight, in a room in the Elegant Hotel in DaNang, and being, if I recall correctly, more than a little bit terrified. And freaked out. And not sure if I we would make it.

I'm sure that I wasn't thinking about what our lives would be like NOW. At the time, I was concentrating, very hard, on getting through each day...of getting through the trip, of getting home...of getting to know Lana...of getting to know how to instantly mother a four-year-old daughter. It was all so overwhelming, eight months ago.

For a long time after we came home, I wondered when I feel "normal" again. The first month was especially hard. (I wrote about how hard it was here: ).

I sit here in a flurry of self-reflection - some self-indulgent naval-gazing, if you will. Back when I wrote that "darkness" post, I asked if I would feel better in six months or in eight months. And on this anniversary, I can certainly say that I don't feel that darkness today. My life is not "normal" in the way it was before we brought Lana home. But, I believe we have achieved a new normal. It's no longer shocking to me to realize I have two children. The words "my daughter" roll off my tongue without the slightest hesitation. She is my daughter. I am her mother. Not the only mother she remembers - but, the mother who will be here to hold her hand when she wants to know more about the other mothers. The ones who came before me.

And I hope that she understands that no other mothers will come after me. I don't know that she does...probably not yet.

I will tell you honestly that I do not understand Lana the way I understand Gabriel. There are times when I look at Gabriel and I feel like I can the hear the wheels of his brain working. When I feel, instrinsically, precisely, what is happening in his head. I don't ALWAYS feel this way (although I find him most frustrating when I don't feel that way), but I don't know that this means I have a stronger bond to him than I do to Lana. I know other mothers who, when laced with enough tequila, will admit that they understand one of their children more than the other(s). I would venture a guess, that if you asked my own mother, she would tell you that she has almost always understood the motivations of my brother J~ and I, but that the motivations of her other children remain a mystery much of the time. But I won't pretend to think that this means she loves J~ and I more than the other four. Only, probably, that of her six children, J~ and I are the most LIKE HER. And Gabriel's personality is more like me than Lana's - and I don't have the energy to dwell on whether this is nature or nurture, biology or proximity. And it's not really the point.

The point is that, sometime between January 29 (when I wrote the Darkness post) and today, sometime, some day that I cannot pinpoint, this new normal began.

Lana woke up this morning and asked me for "Faffles". She scampered into my bedroom and said, "mama! I want faffles and choc-o-lat" (she pronounces chocolate very carefully - she takes her chocolate very seriously, just like her mom.)

I went downstairs and made her waffles and spread Nutella on them. (Which, by the way, is pretty much sinfully, decadently delicious, but, not the kind of thing you want to indulge in on a regular basis unless you are a 35 pound girl who has only gained 3/4 of a pound in six months.)

We sat at the breakfast table together. She ate her waffles and said, "Mama. I love this. I love this faffle. I love faffles, mama." After a while, she looked at me, with my morning bed head, and said, "mommy, your hair is....[look of deep thought on her face]... messy. My hair is not." (This was wholly untrue - her hair was as much a mess as mine was, if not more.) Her face was screwed up like she was thinking so VERY hard. "No mommy, not messy...not messy...your hair is..." she made a motion in the air, with her index finger, rolling and spinning her hand, while she said, "your hair is like this".

"Curly?" I offered her.

"Yes! Curly! Mommy! Your hair is curly." She thought for a minute. "My hair is not curly."

That's true. My hair is curly. Her hair is not. Somewhere on the other side of the planet, I wonder if the straight haired woman who gave birth to this fascinating creature is thinking about her today. I hope that she knows, that here, on this side of the planet, this curly haired woman loves this little girl, whose life is being shaped by pieces of both of us, very much.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Should this bother me?

I'm trying to decide if I am over-reacting to a sentence I just read on Yahoo!News. It was part of an entertainment news story about Nicole Kidman. The offending portion of the news article reads as follows:

"Kidman and Cruise divorced in 2001 after 10 years of marriage. They have two adopted children, Isabella, 14, and Connor, 12; Cruise has a 1-year-old daughter, Suri, with actress-wife Katie Holmes."

Is it inappropriate for me to have just sworn at my computer over what seems like an innocent sentence in a meaningless, fluff news article about an Australian movie star?

Anyone want to guess what has me in a tizzy?

It's the "[t]hey have two adopted children" that crawled up my craw and bit me on the butt.

Is it at ALL relevant to ANYTHING that Isabella and Connor were adopted? IS IT? And doesn't it make it seem like Suri is somehow MORE important because she is described as Cruise's "daughter" without preamble?

Am I nuts?

What if, for example, after I finish my Great American Novel and it becomes instantly as huge as Harry Potter (um, okay, people, this is MY daydream, okay?? I can be unreasonable in MY daydream) - and a news article appeared about yours truly, and it said, "Lawmommy is a fabulous comic author with an hysterical narrative voice. She lives in medium-sized Midwestern City where she practices in Depressing Areas of the Law, while living with her Very Good Looking Husband and son and her adopted daughter."

If it is said that, I would be PISSED.

And not just because Husband and Son should rather be described as "Incredibly Handsome" instead of "Very Good Looking" - but because if I am going to apply adjectives to describe my family, "adopted" is not one that I would choose. ("Beautiful", "quirky", "energetic", or possibly even "slightly deranged" depending upon my mood, but, I don't walk around going, "this is my son and my adopted daughter." I don't. That would seem, well, creepy.)

But, am I blowing this all out of proportion? (I have been known to over-react, on occasion.)

Is the news media marginalizing Connor and Isabella by categorizing them as "adopted" - are they purposefully describing Suri in a better, more significant light?

Or, are they simply reporting the truth, and the truth is that Connor and Isabella were adopted by Kidman and Cruise? And is that kernel of truth, that nugget of information, apropos of anything??


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