Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Get Ready, Cuz This Sh*t's About to Get Heavy*

Or maybe it's not. At least not here.
I have spent the last five days dwelling on the situation regarding adoptions from Vietnam to the United States. There are a lot of people who have spoken very eloquently about it. Among them are Elaine, Kelly, Nicki, Nicole (click on "Blog" and then "The Sad State of Things), and Laura. There is also quiet a heated discussion happening at Voices for Vietnam Adoption Integrity.

I've been writing a post in my head, for five days, in which I "get heavy." But I cannot do it. I don't have it in me. I cannot contemplate this situation anymore without losing my mind. So, please, I know it's a cop out, but, I have nothing more to add than what has already been said by Elaine, Kelly, Nicki, Nicole and Laura.

So, I'm just going to raise my glass in their general direction and say,

"Ditto. "


"What they said."

That's all I've got, folks.
*Eminem, Guess Who's Back

Friday, April 25, 2008

I don't know what to say...

There's a lot of...um...stuff happening with Vietnamese adoptions right now, in the past month or so. I'd be lying if I said it didn't rattle me to my core this morning when I read this Notice From the US State Department concerning Adoption from Vietnam. Honestly, I thought I was going to throw up when I read it.

I contacted my agency today, who asssured me that Lana's adoption was entirely ethical, that the fact that it was approved by the Embassy indicates that the Embassy didn't question our particular adoption.

I'm just...I guess I don't have any words right now.

I love my daughter. I believe she needed a home. I believe she needed a family. I'm choosing to believe that, in the grand scheme of the universe, she truly belongs with us, and that we were always meant to be a family. I don't know how to exist otherwise.


Monday, April 21, 2008

This is my heroin...

Hello, my name is Lawmommy and I have a little problem controlling my addiction to these:

Yes, those are entire garlic cloves. Stuffed into big green olives. And left to my own proclivities, I'm pretty sure I could polish off an entire jar in one sitting.

I blame Family4Peace. She served these at a dinner party we had at her house about two months ago, and I haven't been able to control myself since then. (You've ruined me, D~!) :-P

Sunday, April 20, 2008

My Peaceful Place

Nicki (Stepping On Legos) has issued a challenge to post a picture of the place in your world or your home where you feel most at peace.

This isn't a great picture, but, this is the place where I feel most peaceful - my backyard pool - unfortunately, my backyard spends more than half the year with a giant green tarp over it, but, from May to September, it's my happy place.


Friday, April 18, 2008

What Not To Do In A Jacuzzi Tub

This is possibly the stupidest thing I have ever done as a parent.

Gabe and Lana were both taking a bath in the jacuzzi tub in Husband and my bathroom.

The like to use the jacuzzi tub because it is larger and deeper than the tub in their bathroom.

I went to pull Lana out of the tub and I noticed that I wasn't feeling like her hair was rinsed very well, but, I was tired and not feeling great and I contemplated letting it go. (Yes, bad bad mommy.)

But, when I got her fully out of the tub, I saw it was still FULL of bubbles in the back, so, I said, "Lana, just jump back in for two seconds and stick your head under the water and shake it around." (Yes, I was being lazy. I am a horrible person.)

Unfortunately, I had pulled up the plug and the water was draining.

We live in a new house (four years old) and the drains and the plumbing still work very efficiently.

So, when Lana jumped into the tub and laid down to rinse her hair....


Now, fortunately, the tub was draining very quickly, and I grabbed Lana's head to keep it above the water as it was draining, but, SHE WAS STUCK. Her hair was being pulled down the drain by the water rushing out of the drain, and then it got tangled in the plug mechanism, and I was screaming for Gabe to go get Husband from downstairs, and Lana was just screaming (because she was terrified and because it hurt!)

Husband came running upstairs and jumped in the tub fully clothed and began pulling Lana's hair out of the drain strand by strand while I held her head and pulled it forward.

It was NOT a fun time.

And believe me, her hair was a MESS of tangles when we finally got it out of the drain. (And, a mess, in general.)

After another washing, and soothing of tears (Lana's and mine) - all of us were in our jammies and curled up in bed together in the guest room watching Tom and Jerry. Gabriel turned to Lana and said, with a very very serious look on his face,

"Lana. That was really scary when you're hair went down the drain."

And Lana said, "It was Gabe. It was."

Truer words have not been spoken.

Moral of the story - DO NOT LET your long haired daughter lay down in the tub to rinse her hair if the drain is open.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tell Me How I'm Supposed to Breathe With No Air?

Do you ever have one of those moments when you are driving in the car and a song comes on the radio that is ironically perfect for the moment you are experiencing?

As I hung up my cell phone with the doctor's office Tuesday morning, I turned the radio back on and heard, "Tell Me How I'm Supposed to Breathe With No Air?" And I thought to myself, "somebody please answer that for me..."

Except that, unlike Jordin Sparks, I was not experiencing heart ache, but, rather, lung ache.

I had called the doctor because the cough I'd been hacking around with me since Saturday had turned scary by Tuesday morning, and I felt like, well, like I had no air. Like I was breathing through a straw. Coupled with hacking, coughing, and chills. But no fever, which is weird, cause I normally start climbing up the temperature ladder the second I feel even a little lousy.

At first the doctor's office had said they couldn't see me that day. Then I started coughing and gasping into the phone, and the girl said, "why don't we squeeze you into his schedule at 11:30?"

So, the good doctor sees me, and listens to my chest and says, "bronchitis - pretty nasty." He prescribed prednisone, cough syrup with codeine and a Z-pack.

The unfortunate thing about that particular combination of drugs is that the prednisone makes me jumpy, the cough syrup makes me sleepy, and the Z-pack makes me nauseated.

Jumpy, sleepy and nauseous at the same time. Nice combo, huh? But, it beats feeling like I am slowing smothering to death with no air.

I've been in and out of the office a little, because there are a few cases that I had to deal with, and I tried to avoid breathing on anyone or spreading my ugly germs around. But, mostly I've been trying to sleep. Or read. Or play my Nintendo. Or flip through the latest issue of Cosmo. (In my defense, the only reason I have the latest issue of Cosmo in my possession is because it has Kristen Bell (aka Veronica Mars aka Elle from Heroes) on the cover. NOT because it promises "67 New Sex Tricks" on the cover. (Because hasn't Cosmo been recycling these same 67 sex tricks in a different layout every month since, I don't know, 1991? They've been promising new sex tricks for decades now. I'm just not convinced there have been THAT many changes in the sex department...I mean, 67 new tricks EVERY MONTH?) (I digress.) The point is that la belle Ms. Bell looks lovely on the cover and the interview with her is nice too. So, if you are a fan, and can obtain the issue free of charge, you should read it.)

I'm off to sleep again, now. And to enjoy the bliss of being able to breathe a bit easier.


Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

Last Wednesday evening, Husband and Gabriel fell into a pair of tickets to our local Triple A baseball team. (A team made famous the world over by a certain cross-dressing corporal on a wildly popular military-themed sitcom from the '70s and '80s.)

Husband and Gabe were going to catch some hot dogs at the ball game, so, when I picked Lana up from school, I told her she could pick where she wanted to go for dinner, and I was a bit surprised when she said, "Let's go eat pancakes, mommy."

So we went to a pancake house and we each ordered some pancakes and scrambled eggs, and we played tic tac toe while we waited for our food, and talked about Lana's day at school.

When her eggs arrived she attacked them like she hadn't seen food in weeks. (This is her usual reaction to scrambled eggs. It's pretty much been her reaction to scrambled eggs since the first time we ordered them for her at a tiny little restaurant in Hanoi fifteen months ago.)

When she finished her eggs, she asked me to cut up her pancakes.

As I was cutting the pancakes into neat squares, she said,

"Mommy, I don't like bad men."

I was startled.

"What bad men do you know, baby?"

"In Vietnam," she answered.

I think my heart skipped a beat or something. Some deep and ugly fearsome thing shoved it's arm down my throat.

"What did the bad men do?" I asked her, my hand shaking a tiny bit as I placed the plate of perfect bites of buttered pancakes in front of her.

Lana picked up the strawberry syrup and carefully poured a puddle of it onto the plate her egg had been on. (She likes to dip her pancakes into syrup as opposed to pouring syrup on them.)

Lana speared a bite and dragged it slowly through her syrup puddle and said, nonchalantly,

"They hit me. The bad men. In Vietnam. They hit me. Hard."

I am choking on my pancake and the pecan syrup I love so much suddenly tastes like battery acid.

"Did they have a name? Did they live at your house?"

I try very hard not to sound alarmed or concerned. I probably failed.

"No." Lana studies the five kinds of syrup on the table and the waitress pours more coffee into my cup.

"You want more yellow sugar in your coffee, mommy?" (Lana likes to pour in the packet of Splenda into my coffee when we are eating out and I am drinking coffee. She especially likes to do this when we are alone because she doesn't have to fight with her brother over who gets to put the sugar in mommy's coffee.)

Lana opens the packet of fake sugar and pours it into my coffee cup. "Jessica going to wear a pretty dress to school tomorrow, mommy. Maybe I wear a pretty dress too?" she asks me.

I know then we are done talking about the "bad men". And I am conflicted - is she lying about them?

This girl CAN confabulate with the best of them. I am not kidding. She can look me in the eye and tell a lie the likes of which would bring a flush of blushing red shame to my cheeks, and she can tell it without batting an eye.

What am I to do, with this conversation, exactly?


Sunday, April 13, 2008

In dreams...

I am sitting in the piano bar of a local seafood restaurant on the river with my girlfriends, K~ and H~. [This is, in fact, where I was Friday evening, so, not, in and of itself, odd]. I squeeze a slice of orange into my draft of Blue Moon, and the three of us begin to systematically shred a book that is lying on the table between us. [In real life, I squeezed an orange into my Blue Moon and the three of us tore into some shrimp spring rolls and calamari. Not a book.]

I cannot see the title of the book, but, as we shred the pages, we eat them. We lick ink from our fingers.

It's pouring outside.

We walk outside through the rain, and K~ and H~ are gone. I am walking through an open air market in Morocco with Husband. [I've never been to Morocco, I don't know how or why I know that's where the dream has taken me.]

"Morocco is not really Africa," I say. "I want to have a cup of tea. In Africa. In Egypt. We should have a cup of tea there, in Egypt. The real Africa."

Husband and I are standing on an ice flow. I am so cold. The ice flow, somehow, is taking us, inexplicably, to Egypt. For tea.

I am cold, colder and colder, until I am consumed with thoughts of how terribly cold I am.

Suddenly, I am awake, and all my blankets are pushed to the end of the bed. I am curled up around the small auxiliary cat, shivering in our purposefully chilly bedroom, trying to decide what this means...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Vaguely Alarming Incident of the Strawberry Pop-Tart

This is how my morning went:

Gabriel woke up at the insanely early hour of 6:15 AM. He got up and went downstairs where Husband was eating breakfast, and it was determined that there were no Cheerios in the house.

Gabriel, distraught, ultimately consented to eat a strawberry pop-tart. (Actually, it was an organic dye-free strawberry toaster pastry from Costco, but, as far as my kids are concerned, a pop-tart.)

It was...(cue dark foreshadowing music here) THE LAST STRAWBERRY POP-TART.

I came downstairs at 7:15, ate my breakfast, and then went upstairs to retrieve Sleeping Beauty from her bed. (I've been trying to let her sleep until 8:50, but, this morning is my early court morning, so, it wasn't an option.)

There was angry growling as I pulled her from bed and took her to the potty.

She was asleep on my shoulder when I opened the car door to strap her into her seat, followed by crying that she was "too cold, too hot, too tired". I asked her what she wanted for breakfast and, eyes still closed, sleepily she said, "a strawberry pop-tart."


Of course she wants a strawberry pop-tart. How the hell does she KNOW that her brother has eaten the last one? HOW? HOW????

I go into the house. We have blueberry organic dye-free toaster pastries that are the same color as the strawberry ones, so, I grab one of those. I run to the car and hand it to Lana, run back in the house, shoo Gabriel out the door, grab my purse and my coat and my lunch, and run back to the car, where Lana is crying hysterically.

What's the matter? I ask.

"I WANT A STRAWBERRY POP TART. THIS NOT STRAWBERRY." Lana is wailing. She is beside herself.

"Lana, we don't have strawberry. We have blueberry and we have cherry."

(Now, my kids have only disdain for the Cherry Pop tart (which we have in actual Kellogg's Pop-Tart form, and which is, in MY opinion, a superior tart to all other flavors of tart. The cherry pop-tart is da bomb (verily, da cherry bomb) but my children normally disagree with me on this fine culinary point. They shun the Cherry Pop-Tart. The Cherry Pop-Tart is tarta non grata to Gabriel and Lana.)

"I want STRAWBERRY" she wails again.

At this point I am in the car with the key in the ignition. "Do you want a cherry pop-tart instead?" I ask her as I turn the car on.


Seriously, I have no idea how she knows the tart in her hand is blueberry, because these organic dye free toaster pastries all have the same color frosting - vaguely graham-cracker-colored. If "graham-cracker-color" is a color. They all look the same.

I pull out of the garage and hit the garage door remote and the door closes and we are driving down the street and she starts to scream, 'I want cherry! I want the cherry one!!"
And I am ticked because she is pulling this crap a lot lately - waiting to ask for something until it is incredibly inconvenient for us to get her what she wants - I swear she wants to see if we will run in circles for her. (She doesn't have to pee until there is no bathroom anywhere near her, she's not hungry until there is NO FOOD anywhere, she wants a particular toy when it is at the very bottom of the carry-on luggage, etc.)

I had to be in court by 9:15, it was already 8:07, and I needed to get both of them to different schools.

So, I kept driving, and I said, "I'm sorry, you should have told me that when I offered it to you, you're going to have to eat the blueberry one."

"I WILL NOT EAT IT. I WILL NOT." There is screaming and crying and gnashing of teeth.

"Well, then you'll eat it for a snack on the way home from school then, cause we don't waste food."


I about lost it with that one. Gabe was crying cause he said her crying made his head hurt. I told her if she smashed it on purpose she was going to eat it ANYWAY. (She hates to eat things that are broken or smushed.)

I let Gabe off at the elementary school and she continued to cry and scream and tell me I was a "mean, mean mommy" for another 15 minutes, during which I kept saying, "if you're hungry, eat the pop tart" every minute or so, until she finally ate the damn thing.

When we got to her pre-school, her face was a mess of tears, snot and blueberry pop tart remains. She looked pathetic and wretched. "You are mean to me" she cried some more.

I picked her up and took her into class and she stopped crying and laid in my lap in a lump in a chair in her classroom.

I tried to hand her to her teacher S~ and she said, "I want to go to work with you" and S~ convinced her that mommy's work was boring and that they were going to play beauty shop and do jewelry making today, and Lana agreed that sounded like more fun...

And when I got into my car, thinking, well, at least I can turn on NPR and have a few minutes of CALM, I remembered it was *&%$#!@# pledge week and I had to turn the radio off. I hate NPR pledge week. (We pay our pledge every year, we do. I just hate to hear them beg other people to do it. Mostly because I've already paid. Ugh.)

So, that was MY morning...


Monday, April 07, 2008

I interrupt this review for a Photo Interlude

Floating around in the Family Pool

Gabe and Lana hard at work on Sand Masterpiece

Gabe and Lana running down the beach at sunset

Gabe on beach

I have no idea why these photos are of various sizes. I lost my mind a bit ago and spent 10 minutes screaming like a banshee at opposing counsel on a case. He was an a**, but, probably didn't deserve the entire 10 minute tirade about what a lying, cheating, lying, wretched, lying bastard his client is. This was not my most professional moment.

This is why I am a posting photos right now, since, evidently I am not fit company for man nor beast nor opposing counsel.

Here are some amusing notes from my planner on Saturday, while we were trying to get home. I was taking notes because I wanted to remember things to blog about - I just reread them (in my own unique shorthand - they made me a laugh at myself a tiny bit):

6:45 AM - Gabriel is awake. Freakishly sleepless child. Husband took Gabriel to beach for 'one last swim'.

8:30 AM - Gabe and Husband back. Report water is very cold for swimming this morning. Report that there are no bananas (again) at breakfast. This banana shortage is disconcerting, considering we are sitting smack in the middle of banana central.

9:09 AM - Bellman arrives 21 minutes early to take bags. Scramble to throw last few things in suitcases and get them zipped.

9:30 AM - last breakfast in Paradise. Mmmm....toasty bagel with real butter and guava jam. Mmmm...Jamaican coffee...Mmmm fresh pineapple....

10:00 AM - waiting in lobby for bus to take us to the airport

10:30 AM - waiting on enormous retired Japanese tour bus to take us to the airport

11:00 AM - why isn't this f**king bus moving already?

12:00 PM - one hour riding creaky enormous bus, I tell Husband I am writing a new prayer for the Book of Very Common Prayer* called, "Prayer to Avoid Vomiting on a Crowded Bus"

12:15 PM - Dear God, please do not let me vomit on this bus...very very sick...very very very car sick, would pay someone to shoot me and put me out of my misery

12:30 PM - Finally arrived at MBJ airport, willing to pay porter enormous sum of money if he will just find all our bags and drag them to the line for Northwest Airlines. (He does this for $7.00. He is a Saint.)

1:00 PM - have achieved boarding passes and a state of being that does not include sensation of imminent vomit, waiting online for security check

2:30 PM - flight delayed. paid $12 (US!!) for tiny teeny pizza. curse airport vendors everywhere, (may they be struck down with car sickness in a foreign country on a Japanese bus!!)

3:00 PM - buy another liter of rum. (Because, hey, we can take 4 liters back with us, so, why not max out that duty free allowance?)

3:15 PM - have existential crisis of fragrance whilst looking at duty free perfume. have been wearing same perfume since 1993. I don't buy a bottle of it and wonder if I am too predictable. Husband indicates I am insane. Children trying to drive us crazy on purpose. If they weren't here I would be buying them souvenirs right now, but, since they are here, and fighting, I want to kill them.

3:30 PM - board flight...in a thunderstorm....we are going to die

4:30 PM - dear God the turbulence

5:00 PM - more turbulence and I really don't want to die

6:00 PM - have I mentioned how very much I want this plane to land in one piece??? My head might explode from anxiety about the turbulence...

Obviously, the plane landed in one piece.

I must go do some legal work now. Will return with a continuation of my review of the resort shortly.


* This is a reference to a book by Chuck Palahuik called "Survivor" which both Husband and I read on vacation, and not a reference to the Anglican Book of Common Prayer

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Lawmommy's Review of Beaches Negril by Sandals part 1

I think I am going to have to do this review in parts because I am very tired and have waded through something like 200 emails from work and my brain needs to go to sleep soon.

Anyway, first off, let me say that Husband and I have been loyal Sandals returning guests for something like 10 years. When I say that we have spent a boatload of money on Sandals vacations, I mean that we could have, literally, purchased a boat, a nice one, with the money we have happily been giving to Sandals for the last ten years. I've been a happy customer, is my point. We've been to Sandals resorts in three countries - we've only not been to the ones in Antigua or the one in Cuba. (Antigua because it has never been convenient to get there, and Cuba because technically it would be illegal to spend money there. And I value my law license more than the intrigue of sneaking into Cuba to stay at Sandals. Although it looks beautiful and I would LIKE to go.) What I am trying to say is that I have been generally very happy with the Sandals corporation, so, that may color my opinion of our stay.

The most important thing about this resort is this: if you are not traveling with children under the age of 16, seriously, do not go to this resort. There is no point. Sandals has many other properties that you will enjoy more if you are traveling without kids. Children are the focus of this resort, there are kids everywhere, and you will have much more relaxing vacation elsewhere. (If you are traveling as a couple, or with a group of couples, I highly recommend this resort, which is just amazing. Sandals Whitehouse. This one is also fabulous, although getting to St. Lucia can be a pain. Sandals Regency St. Lucian). Anyway, Beaches Negril by Sandals is a good choice for families with children. It is a bad choice for people who are not traveling with children, especially if they are going to complain about how many children there are on the resort. (Go to Hedonism IIor something, (geez!) (Um...that link to Hedonism (which is NOT a Sandals resort) is probably not work safe, btw).

Anyway, I'm not kidding myself that a visit to Sandals or Beaches is a true Caribbean cultural experience. I know it's not - and that's not why I'm going there. I'm going there to relax, be pampered, swim, snorkel, bask in the sun, nap, eat too much rich food and drink too much rum than is probably good for me.

So, I'll divide this review into three parts: the perfect, the good, and the disappointing.

The perfect

1. The Beach. The beach in Negril is everything the brochures tell you the beach in Negril is - seven miles of gorgeous white sugary sand and water so beautifully blue you almost cannot believe it is real. Every afternoon about 4:45 we went onto the beach and stayed there until after the sun set. This is my favorite time to be at the beach because a good portion of the other guests have left, and I don't have to worry about finding a cabana or a beach lounger in the shade to prevent burning to a crisp. The kids would build sand castles (there were tons of sand toys scattered around the Beaches beach), and Husband and I would float on one of the anchored floaties in the waves or lie on the beach loungers, watching the kids play in the sand or reading a book. Lana and Gabe were absolutely BLISSFUL during this time of day. And every day for about the two hour period of late afternoon I would think, "This is perfect. This is perfectly perfect. This could not be more postcard perfect." So, the beach, and our afternoons on the beach, definitely fall into the perfect category. (A caveat - there are some biting mosquitos or something on the beach - Beaches sprays for them, and Husband and the kids did not get any bites. I got ten bites, but, Husband says that is because I am delicious. And I am. To bugs anyway. They love me and always have.)

2. Kids Camp. The resort has a kid's camp program that works like this: if your children are under the age of 2, there is a nursey program. I don't know anything about it, because I don't have an infant, but, there were lots of families with infants at the resort.

If your kids are 2 to 3, or 4 to 5, the kids camp is open from 9:15 ish to 6:00. The nannies have activities planned all day, and will take the kids to lunch if you so desire. We didn't ever leave Lana in the camp for that long - she was most there from 10:00 to noon and 1:00 to 4:00. They have supervised swimming in a very shallow pool, arts and crafts, visits with Sesamee street characters, sand castle building, etc. The children are divided into the age groups of 2 and 3 year olds, and 4 and 5 year olds. (You should take three plain white tshirts and leave them at kids camp with your child's name written on the collar because they will do various t-shirt decorating activities throughout the week.)

If your kids are 6 to 7, the camp is available from 9:15 ish to 5:00 PM and from 6:00 to 8:00 PM. If your kids are 8 to 12, the camp is available from 9:15 ish to 5:00 PM and from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. The nannies will take your kids to lunch and dinner if you want them to. Gabe did the evening camp 2 nights and we hired a nanny to stay with Lana on those two nights (the nanny stayed with the nannies who were minding the kids camp that evening, but, we paid $10 per hour for Lana for those two evenings, whereas Gabe was free.) The older kids have planned activies and also a snorkel trip two mornings, and they go to the Family Pool and Waterpark everyday instead of the very shallow baby pool. (There are lifeguards.)

Gabe and Lana both enjoyed Kids Camp, although Lana was much more hesitant than Gabe. Also, she was upset that she couldn't be in Gabe's group. On the whole, I wished that we had gone with another family who had similarly aged children (so they would be with someone they knew at Kid's Camp) - but, it worked out nicely and it gave Husband and I some time to be alone, and kept the kids busy with fun stuff.

Okay, I'll be back tomorrow with the Good and the Disappointing, because I am falling asleep.


and it's burnin and I have returned*


Nose - burned.

Shoulders - burned.

Cleavage - burned.

(Fortunately, the rest of the family has escaped the burnage. Only my Scandavian skin could not be saved by the multiple daily applications of SPF 50. Yes, 50. FIFTY. All I can say is that if I hadn't covered myself in 50, I would probably have burned up in some sort of spontaneous combustion international incident.)

Tired, but, mostly happy.

We got back to our house at 11:15 last night. (We were supposed to be home by 8:00 ish.)

Lana and Husband still asleep. Gabe and I watching cartoons.

Long review of the family resort we stayed at - Beaches Negril by Sandals - coming later today or tomorrow.

* Okay, so, I do totally know that Eminem is NOT referring to sunburn with this particular lyric, but, I couldn't resist the quote, which is, for credit's sake, from "The Way I Am" from The Marshall Mathers LP.

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