Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Anyone who told me girls were easier than boys was totally lying!

Oh the drama! The epic emotion! The tyranny of the mood-swings of an almost-six-year-old girl!

Seriously, in my experience, a boy child is a WALK IN THE PARK by comparison.

Perhaps it is just MY boy child?

Gabriel started 3rd grade today. Kindergarten, despite being in the same school building, doesn't start until next Tuesday.

Suffice it to say that Lana is PISSED.

We had a mini meltdown last night, that nobody likes her, she doesn't have any friends, she doesn't know anybody in her kindergarten, why does Gabe get to start school today if she doesn't, and, the topper, "EVERYONE" thinks she is "STUPID". (I'm ticked because I think the little girl next door called her "stupid" because she didn't understand something. I have no idea how to deal with that, and it's ridiculous. Lana is, categorically, not stupid.)

She also demanded to know why she couldn't go to kindergarten with one of her friends from her pre-school. When I said, "she's going to Hebrew school and we aren't Jewish" - Lana insisted she could be Jewish if she wanted to be. (Then she demanded to know what Jewish was.)

Anyway, there have been tantrums and tears and gnashing of teeth and high-pitched screaming, and crying that no one likes her and everyone is mean to her.

I am really hoping kindergarten goes well next week. I want her to meet some new friends, I want her to have the kind of friendships she had at pre-school. (I think she has really been missing her pre-school buddies this summer.)

I just hope I can get through this weekend without throttling someone. Or myself.

I am terrified of what "12" is going to look like if "almost 6" is making an emotional wreck of both of us!


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Still I'm On the Dark Side of the Moon*

My uncle J~ had his surgery on Thursday. He is stable and out of the ICU. I am hopeful for the best and fearful for the worst.

Two days before his surgery he was feeling well enough to come down to the office to take care of some things. We had lunch together and I told him I had to be in court at 1:30 and would talk to him after.

When I got back to the office he was gone.

Immediately after his surgery, late Thursday afternoon, I was sitting in Belle's office. (Belle is not her real name, but, it works for a good pseudonym for the only other female lawyer in my office.) Anyway, we had just gotten off the phone after learning that the surgery was over and had gone well, and I just started crying, I think from relief. Belle handed me a box of Kleenex and told me to just let it out. So, I cried and I said, "you know he left when I was in court? I didn't have a chance to say goodbye or anything."

She looked at me for a second and said, "He left while you were in court on purpose. He didn't think he was going to make it through today. He didn't want you to know that."

Ain't that a kick in the teeth.

However, the point is, he made it through. And he's fighting hard to get better. And that's what matters.


*James Taylor, Carolina In My Mind (I find the only songs I want to hear right now, when I am worrying about J~, are the old comforting songs from my childhood - James Taylor, Carly Simon, and John Denver. Weird, huh?)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Imagine you were an assistant/support type person for a small law firm.

Imagine your husband was off fighting in a war you were ideologically vehemently opposed to.

Imagine you have been home with a sick/sleepless baby for 5 days, by yourself, because, well, see above.

What would you appreciate most from the people you work for?

I'm thinking of making her some meals she can throw in her freezer and offering to watch the baby some night so she can go see a movie or something?

I feel frustrated for her right now and I want to do something to make something marginally better, when I know, realistically, there's nothing I can do to end a war...

Monday, August 18, 2008

When did I do THAT?

My babies are back.

They got home yesterday afternoon after a whirlwind visit to Nashville, Memphis, and various parts of Arkansas, and attending a 100th birthday party for their great-great-grandma. They had a good time but were happy to come home.

A funny anecdote from Lana's first meeting with my great-grandma.

(Scene - great-grandma's kitchen)

Lana and Gabriel and their cousin T~ run into the house.

Great-grandma says, "Hey, I know you all! I gotta picture of you all right here on my fridge! Here's my Yankee great-great-grandbabies!" (This is to distinguish them from the rest of her great-great-grandchildren in various parts of Arkansas and Louisiana.)

Gabe and Lana and T~ are playing in Great-Grandma's family room for about 10 minutes. Great-grandma leans into my mother and whispers, conspiratorially, "Do you think her daddy mighta been an Oriental man?"

My mother looks at her in surprise and says, "Yes, Grandma, I'm sure her daddy was an Asian man."

Great-grandma says, "Uh-huh."

Forty-five minutes pass, during which my great-grandma visits with my mom and brother and watches the kids playing.

Out of the blue, great-grandma whispers, conspiratorially, again, to my mother and brother "I just don't Wart (her unlovely nickname for me since I was a very skinny, sickly looking baby) in that child at'all. I just don't see a lick of Wart in that girl."

My mother looks at her in shock and says, "Grandma! She's adopted! They went to Vietnam last year to bring her home!"

Great-grandma nods with sudden comprehension. "Oh! Well! That'll do it. That'll do it."

From this exchange, I can only conclude that my great-grandma has spent the last 18 months looking at pictures of Gabe and Lana and believing I had a tawdry affair with an Asian man....


Friday, August 15, 2008

Damn All Those Beautiful Girls, They Only Want To Do You Dirt*

There is an article in the Chicago Tribune from August 13, 2008, about the perception of beauty through the eyes of a Korean adoptee.

The article is here: Beauty Through The Eyes of An Asian Adoptee. (You may have to login to the Tribune's website to read it, I'm not sure.) (The article is written by one of the members of a group called Paper Lantern, a resource for adult Korean adoptees.)

The writer says that one of the most popular plastic surgeries amoung Asians today is a procedure to make their eyes appear more "Western".

I about fell off my chair when I read that. (Yes, I know. I am continuously surprised by things that really should not surprise me. It's like my jaded button is broken.)

My immediate reaction was, "I don't ever want Lana to have a single thought cross her mind that she is not beautiful exactly the way that she is."

(Of course my second thought is that I don't want Lana to think that physical beauty is really that important, and that it is what is inside of people that really matters. That is an enormous concept and I don't actually feel like I have it in me today to tackle it.)

My immediate reaction is that I don't want Lana to ever contemplate for a SECOND that she would need SURGERY to make her face beautiful. I mean, LOOK at her face.

There are times when I look at Lana and she is so beautiful that it takes my breath away. And I'm not talking about the fact that she is, generally speaking, a joyful soul (because that is one of the many more important things that is beautiful about her) - I'm talking about the sheer, skin-deep, physical beauty.

Maybe I am biased because I am her mother. Maybe I feel okay talking about how beautiful I think she is because I had nothing to do with it. (These are not my random strings of DNA knitted together to make that gorgeous little face. So, it feels like something I can talk about without taking any credit. Does that make sense?)

I don't mean to sound shallow, but I think I might with what I am about to say next.

I did not expect Lana to be a pretty child.
(Hold on, I'm going to duck under the computer while you throw things at me.)

But, it's the honest truth. I was not expecting her to be pretty. In her referral photos, I thought that Lana looked intelligent and interested. But, I would not have described her as "cute" or "pretty".

I'm trying to decide if it is a function of time and situation and love that has changed my perception of Lana's physical beauty, or if she has simply blossomed from an interesting looking toddler into a beautiful girl.

I am about to out a secret shameful thought of mine to the entire Internet.

(I strive for honesty, even when it's ugly.)

Here I go. (Deep breath)

I have OFTEN thought that the reason Lana wasn't adopted by a family long before we were eligible to be matched to her was because her referral photos weren't "prettier". (I'm ducking again for a minute.)

Let's be brutally honest. My daughter's face was on our adoption agency's website for 7 months before we were matched to her - WHY ON EARTH wasn't she adopted by some other family during that time??? (I kept going back to her page on the website and looking at her little face, but, I was afraid to ask to be matched to her because of what happened in February of 2006 with the little boy from the website we asked to be matched to. (That story is here: Two Hearts Broken Or Badly Bruised - it's too painful for me to rehash.) Anyway, I was terrified of having my heart broken like that again, so, we didn't ask to go to committee for her.) It wasn't until we had a logged in homestudy approving us to adopt a child aged 2 to 5 years, AND we were working with the waiting child coordinator, AND we were assured that we could see Lana's file without it being released to any other family for a 48 hour period that we finally took a peek at Lana's file, and we were, in fact, moving forward towards accepting A DIFFERENT CHILD'S REFERRAL.

And thank God we did look at Lana's file. (Because otherwise, Lana would not have come home to us, and we would have come home with another family's daughter. What a mess!) And as I poured over Lana's file, I kept wondering WHAT WHAT WHAT the many, many other families who had looked at her file had seen that had caused them to close up the file and send it back to the agency. Was it because of her age? I couldn't imagine why any number of those other families hadn't jumped at the chance to parent this bright, interested little girl. And at the time, the only thing I could come up with was that her photos made her look like a boy.

Maybe it was predestination. Or fate, or God's plan - I don't know. (I have a hard time wrapping my head around the concept of predestination, because it conflicts with the idea of free will.) Bottom line is, there was something about Lana's file that made other families reject her, but which made me know she should come home to our family. And I was weirdly grateful that her pictures weren't very pretty, or for whatever intangible thing caused the other families to reject her. (And that is horrible, horribly selfish of me, because I SHOULD have wanted for Lana to come home to a loving family as soon as possible, but, instead I am so grateful, so selfishly grateful, that she came home to US.)

And I was expecting her to be smart, and willful, and curious. And I was hoping that she would be happy and affectionate. But, 'pretty' wasn't on my radar.

Which is why her beauty is so stunning to me. Because it was so unexpected.

Which brings me back to my point (I think), which is: My daughter is beautiful. By anyone's standards, she is a physically beautiful child and I want to shout it from the rooftops - my daughter has beautiful eyes - JUST EXACTLY AS THEY ARE.

But, even if she weren't beautiful - she would be walking around with perfectly perfect eyelids. Perfectly useful and suitable and appropriate eyelids. And it kills me to think that anyone would ever put a thought into her head to make her want to change the essence of her ethnicity in the name of physical beauty.


*Sean Kingston, Beautiful Girls

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dear Anonymous Commenter

Last night I got an anonymous comment on a post that I wrote almost 2 years ago.

I will admit that I was in a BAD mood when I wrote the post, and most of you who commented on my bad mood (at the time that I wrote it) were supportive of me feeling tired and frustrated.

The post is about First Grade Homework, and, if you are so inclined, you can go look at it: here

What I find surprising is that I have gotten some ugly comments in the past 6 months on that particular post.

The most recent comment is:

Anonymous said...
Apparently, you do not have an elementary education background.

REALLY??? What GAVE YOU THE FIRST CLUE? Could it be, MAYBE, that the blog is TITLED adventures of law mommy? Or the fact that I blog, pretty extensively on occasion, about the fact that I am A LAWYER?

I DO realize that I was in a lousy mood when I wrote that piece, and I was probably too harsh. And the comment that I don't have an elementary education background is pretty innocuous.

More upsetting is this comment that was left last month(it was long, so, I pulled out certain parts):

...Personally, 8:30 is way too late for a 6 year old to be doing homework anyway. I also agree that they need to be involved in extra-curricular activities but not at the expense of the most important thing- education. Did you sit and have your child read with to, with, or by you that evening? Probably not because it was too late by the time you finished all of your extra-curricular activities and your "veg" time in front of the tv. ...So sorry that your child's homework is interfering with your "busy" schedule. I bet your child's teacher's job interferes with his/her "family" schedule with all of the extra time and money your child's teacher spends on his/her classroom. Stop complaining and be part of the solution...not part of the problem...

Now, I have to wonder if this person has ever read any other section of my blog. Like, perhaps, one of the many sections where I discuss the fact that I am MARRIED TO A TEACHER. Or the fact that I read to my children EVERY NIGHT. Or the fact that Gabriel loves to be read to. I have blogged about all of these things on more than one occasion.

Nor have I complained about homework very often - and HELLO! THIS IS MY BLOG. This is where I come to vent when I am frustrated. So, how is telling me to stop complaining helpful or appropriate?

And honestly, I would be happy to discuss my philosophy regarding my childrens' education with anyone. Even if they want to criticize or disagree. But, if you want to talk to me about my bad attitude about first grade homework, at least do me a solid and leave me an email address or a blog address. But, don't show up and leave a comment on a post that is two years old, insult me, and run away.

It seems to me that's maybe the kind of a thing a first grader might do.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Wanted to see "Wanted"

As some of you may remember, I have a little fetish for Hitman stories. Especially darkly funny hitman stories. Hence my love of the movies Grosse Pointe Blank and The Matador.

I was REALLY LOOKING FORWARD to going to see the movie "Wanted" this week.

You know, the hitman movie with James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie?

You know, this week, when we are childless and Husband and I could go see a movie every night this week if wanted to?

Guess what is NOT PLAYING in my city this week?

If you guessed WANTED, you would be oh so right.

The closest theater playing the movie WANTED is 67 miles from my house.


This is not to say that there are not movie theaters in my city.

Oh, no. We have movie theaters. We have several. Most of which have 12 to 18 screens.

There are no less than 45 screens available for movies in this town, and they are playing...

Are you ready?



No, I am not kidding.

Not even a little bit.

This town is under the thumb of a single movie theater company.

N@tional Amusements has a complete monopoly on first run movies in this entire county.

It costs more to see a first run, evening movie in this city than it costs to see a movie in MANHATTAN. OR CHICAGO. OR LOS ANGELES.

And not only does it cost a fortune ($10 per person for a non-matinee ticket), evidently, N.A. has a complete stranglehold on which movies they are choosing to run on the many, many screens in this town.

There is a not a single movie playing right now that Husband and I both want to see. (Husband wants to see the new Mummy movie, and I want to see Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 and Mamma Mia (because it has Amanda Siefried (hello! Lilly! from Veronica Mars!) in it). But, we would both like to see X-Files and Wanted and we cannot see either of them without driving to DETROIT? (Technically, we COULD see X-Files, if we wanted to go at 11:35 in the morning or 9:55 in the evening, which, IS. SO. NOT. CONVENIENT.)

Yeah, so, instead of going to a movie tonight, we are having dinner with friends. Who are delightful and I'm looking forward to it and all.

But, still!! Darn you and your stranglehold monopoly over my city N@tional Amusements!


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Empty Nest

Gabriel and Lana left town yesterday morning with my mom, my aunt, my brother, and my niece. They are on their way to Arkansas to celebrate my great-grandmother's 100th birthday. This will only be the 3rd time Gabe has met his great-great-grandma, and the first time for Lana.

I would have liked to have gone for the big bash, but, with the situation at work, I could not leave for a week.

I am curious what Lana will think of great-great-grandma. I am curious what Lana's great-great-grandmother will think of Lana.

My great-grandmother is the kind of woman, who, until just a few years ago, would kill a rattlesnake in her rose garden in the morning with the business end of a hoe, shuck a mountain of butter beans in the afternoon and then make a mess of fried catfish and hush puppies for dinner.

I am sure this whole trip will be ripe with new experiences for both Gabe and Lana.

I'm nervous because Lana has not been away from us for more than 2 nights since she came home 18 months ago. I did talk to her this afternoon and she sounded just fine.

I mean, they are traveling with a minister, a nurse practitioner, and an insurance agent. I am going to go out on a limb and say that I think they are probably in good hands.

So, Husband and I are going to enjoy the peace and quiet of an empty house. And the freedom to go to dinner and out to the movies without finding a sitter. :-)


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Now with even more photos! Of camels!

What is the appropriate thing to do with a Japanese person who has only been in the US for 6 hours? Take them out for a camel ride and belly dancing and hummous and schwarma and grape leaves, of course! Thanks to my friend H~ for these great shots of our night at the Middle Eastern Festival back at the end of last month.

Can't Think of Anything To Say,

Nothing says family togetherness like a giant totem pole
Gabe and Lana rock the house at the Seattle Music Project
Hey, look, it's Diesel, Kihnly and Gabriel sipping pop, er, soda Gabe and Lana trying to save mankind by wrestling a gigantic man-eating ant to the ground
Here we have Husband, climbing on a rock. He wouldn't let me come with him for fear that I would plunge to my death, which, no doubt I would have, as I am the world's biggest clutz.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Ballet Shoes

So, show of hands of everyone else who was a big fan of Noel Streatfield's "Shoe" books when they were a little girl??

(Consider that this is me, standing, waving a big hand over my head.)


The books were titled things like "Ballet Shoes" and "Theater Shoes" and "Dancing Shoes" and "Circus Shoes".

They were always about children in England overcoming some kind of difficulty and finding a career in the theater or some other kind of performing art.

I absolutely adored them. You can read about them here.

My favorite, (as it was of every OTHER 10-year-old bibliophile I knew in the 4th grade (okay, so that was 3 other girls, but, whatever)) was "Ballet Shoes", which is about 3 girls who are adopted by an eccentric old uncle who goes missing, and they struggle to keep the house in order while he is away for years, and they make money, somehow, by becoming ballerinas. (In terms of adoption literature, it was written in 1936 and probably is horrifyingly not-PC.)

I was excited when I saw that Emma Watson (Hermione for all my fellow Harry Potter devotees) was in a film version of Ballet Shoes for the BBC last year.

Because I am a freak (you must all know this about me by now), I sent an email asking BBC America if they would be airing the movie in the US, and they emailed back and said that, unfortunately, they would not be airing the film "to our American audience". But, they thanked me for my interest in all things British. And then they suggested that I toddle my pathetic self off to the kitchen to brew a pot of tea and do something productive since I clearly had to much time on my hands.

(Yeah, I'm just kidding about the last part.) (I mean, they DID thank me for my interest in the British Broadcast Corp, that part is true.)

But, I was delighted to see that the film IS being released on DVD in the US in September. See, you can even pre-order it from Amazon. And it will be available from Netflix, too.

So, come September, I suggest you grab your pre-teen daughters (or nieces, or the pre-teen girl still lurking inside yourselves), my fellow Shoe-book and Herminone loving bloggity-gal-pals, and settle in for a night with the BBC and the delightful Emma Watson.

(And no, the BBC is not even paying me for all the mad props I am giving them.)


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