Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday tidbits

Random, odd occurrences today:

I woke up this morning to find my TV on, and a DVD of Space Chimps playing. I'm thinking the cat found the remote on my nightstand, but my son thinks either the cat or dog are actually secret agents like Perry the Platypus on Phineas and Ferb.

My son asked if I'd let him continue his crochet project after he finished his shower. His two favorite things: playing goalie in roller hockey, and crocheting. He's made about a bazillion crocheted necklaces, bracelets, headbands, and hacky sacks. So if you see me wearing an orange crocheted bracelet with matching headband, you'll know why.

My daughter came out of the bathroom saying, "Mom, there's something terribly, terribly wrong with the toilet, and I think it's my fault." Totally serious. Nothing that a mom with a plunger couldn't handle.

I think there may be a pattern here, but I can't quite piece it together yet.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It's not too much

After writing last night, and remembering each child I fostered who went home to birth families, different adoptive families, other family members, I kept thinking about a comment I've heard so many times over the years.

"I could never be a foster parent. I'd fall in love with the child, and would love them to much to give them up."

Fair enough. I know that's what people think. I thought it myself. Until I lived it.

This is what I learned.....

You can never love a child too much. And sometimes, you learn to love them enough to let them go.

It's not easy. Nothing worthwhile in life ever is. A child leaves, and you rejoice for their new life, or you worry they'll never be safe. You think of them, you pray for them, you cry and grieve your loss.

You pray that somehow you've made an impact.

That they'll remember, either consciously or unconsciously, and that your love will have made some small difference.
That the cookies you baked,
the boo-boo you bandaged,
the games you played,
the fears you calmed,
the love you gave,
will stay with them, and become part of this small child, in a home they didn't choose, through no fault of their own.

I'm not a perfect mother, or a perfect person, or a perfect saint. I feel, I mess up, I cry, I admit mistakes - but never defeat.

If I could be a foster parent, then maybe, just maybe, you could be one. It's not for everyone. If you can't do it, there are other ways to help. But if you're interested, take a look here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hockey mama for Obama

Tonight I want to tell you about a little boy.

Nearly nine years ago, my ex-husband and I were waiting. We were preparing. We were nervous, and excited, and awed. We were waiting for a baby. Or a toddler, we didn't care. But we opened our lives and our home and our bank accounts and even our sex life to social workers and licensing workers, in the hopes we would be able to adopt.

One night I got a call. It was our foster parent liaison. My heart skipped about 10 beats before she could say, "Don't get excited. This is NOT the call you're waiting for." I calmed down, and listened to what she said next.

"There's a little boy. He's almost 4 years old. He has fetal alcohol syndrome, ADHD, and we don't know what else. He's been living in a guardianship, and his guardian is having health issues. He's very, very hard to care for, and she cannot keep him. I believe he should be in a permanent adoptive home, but we need for him to be in a quiet, safe, loving place for a few weeks so we can get a good evaluation on him. Do you think you and your husband could take him in? I know you're not fully licensed yet, but we can rush through a certification."

"And he's African-American."

My ex-husband is Russian and German, but if he grows a mustache, he can pass for Hispanic. I'm Russian and French, and except for my potato nose, I could pass for Irish (think fair skin, freckles and green eyes with dark hair). When we filled out our forms, we said we'd adopt a child of any race. And we meant it. So, the last item wasn't an issue at all.

Frankly, the FAS scared the heebies out of me. But we agreed to meet him.

He was living in a home with 5 or 6 other kids, and he was the LEAST handicapped. It was a beautiful home, and absolutely insane. The kids were forced to eat off paper plates in the back yard. Thankfully, it was summer. I shudder to think what they did in our rainy winters. He had really ashy skin, so each night he was taught to rub vaseline into his skin, then clothed in heavy footed jammies put on backwards so he couldn't reach the zipper to remove them. This sweet little 3 year old went to sleep every night, hot and sweaty, without someone tucking him in, rubbing his back, kissing his handsome face.

J and I wanted to take him home that minute, but we completed a few days of "transition" time. He never cried when I drove him away from the only mother he'd known for all of his 3 1/2 years.

He was tall and skinny and looked much older than his years. People expected the response they'd get from a 6 year old, and this little guy was probably not even operating at a 2 year old level. He was a....difficult...child. Difficult to handle, but never difficult to love.

So we brought him home and loved on him. It was easy, most of the time. He had been very highly medicated, and we were able to cut his medication by more than 2/3. When he wasn't the compliant little zombie we'd picked up from his home; we were tested. But we had help. We had a behavior specialist tell us to give him Omega 3s, he had a psychiatrist, and two social workers. We put him on a special diet. I learned infant massage, and worked on him three times a day. I learned physical therapy to stretch his shortened hamstrings. I learned to teach Sunday School so that he could attend, since no one else in our church at the time could deal with him. And I loved him.

When he was evaluated, they added cerebral palsy (how did they not notice this before?), ODD, OCD, and a few other diagnoses. But I wrote a description of him: of his inquisitive mind, his loving heart, his out-of-this-world smile, and a worker took a photo, and within one day an adoptive family was found.

It took eight months before the paperwork was done and I flew with him to his new home in the midwest. Or midsouth. I was never very good at remembering the regions of the US. We're still in touch, and he's thriving. And I pray for him every day.

I could write a lot more about this little guy, the first child to call me mama.

But what I want to write about is the lesson I learned about racism.

When he moved in with us, we took him to Turtle Bay, and were playing with him at the Paul Bunyan park there. A woman was pushing her kid on the next swing over. She looked at us and said, "Wow. Is he your foster kid, or did you adopt him?" Right in front of him. I have to give my ex-husband kudos for saying, "He's ours."

Anytime we went out, we got comments. I was called a n*gger-lover many times. I learned to respond, "Yes, I am."

I heard him called monkey. I heard him called things I'd never before heard. And I was called things just as bad. By seemingly normal adults. I never in my life had considered that such hatred could be focused on one little boy.

Interestingly, a year later we fostered a little girl that was African-American. She was 3, and she had literally been tossed aside by her mother while she was escaping from police. She was beautiful - and sassy as all get out.

And I never heard one word about her race from anyone.

Why was this? Were people threatened by a black male? That's the only conclusion I could come up with.

And today, when I stood in the lunchroom at work, focused on the wall-mounted TV, and saw Obama sworn in as President of our United States, I cried. I cried because maybe someday this little boy will be able to be anything he wants to be. He will be able to love anyone he wants, and maybe even someday father children of his own, and know that our country decided that, as Dr. King so beautifully said, he will be judged not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I know, I know, I haven't been here for a while. I'm reading so many other people's blogs in the time I would have allotted to write!

And I've had a new addiction, one that's taking up my time, and I need to JUST. SAY. NO.

My name is Annie, and I'm a Netflix addict.

I've got Netflix...love it, love it. I have the plan with one DVD at a time, but UNLIMITED watching online! Let's just say I've seen 12 episodes of Heroes, Season One in a little over a week.

A real benefit is that if I start watching something, and (it sucks) I don't really care for it, I can just stop watching and not feel like I just have to watch it because I paid for it! That's what happened with the movie Indigo last night. Those people may have had a heart for telling a story they believed in, but they should have used part of their budget for acting lessons. Sorry.

I also watched one of the MOST. BEAUTIFUL. MOVIES. EVER. MADE.

If you haven't seen the movie Bella, run, don't walk, to your local store and rent a copy. Or watch it online as I did. It's an incredible story, beautifully told.

My son and I have also gotten hooked on watching a young man from Korea on YouTube. This kid is amazing. Truly. He's got my son inspired to learn to actually PLAY his guitar. His name is Sungha Jung, and if you haven't seen him - I've made it really easy for you to watch. This boy's got a gift.

Have a great weekend,

Sunday, January 4, 2009

You saw her here first

My daughter's first worship song. She sang it to me this morning, and I convinced her to let me record it tonight. It was exactly the same, which tells me she wasn't just making it up as she went along.

I'm pretty impressed.

Friday, January 2, 2009

So, who wrote this thing anyways?

And I say it again - I love to read. I've taken to keeping a book at work that I can read on those days I don't have errands to run. I don't like carrying my "main" book back and forth, because either I'd forget it somewhere, or I'd never get any work done, because I'd be sneaking to the bathroom to read it. Not a good way to keep a job. Besides, the bathrooms are disturbing. More on that, later. Another time, when I haven't just eaten.

I've found that biographies and autobiographies are good at-work books. Mysteries are out, because I want to know what happens next. Same with suspenseful books of any kind. And I'm not much for chick lit. But a biography? There aren't many that you can't pick up and put down again.

Right now, my book of choice at work is "Love, Lucy." It's perfect. I love Lucille Ball - always have, always will. She was an amazing actress and comedienne. I can watch reruns of 'I Love Lucy' and always LMAO. Always.

It's a great little book, written some time before her death. Her children found it after she passed and had it published. She dictated the book, and you can hear her voice in every sentence. It's not too long, just under 300 pages. Each chapter is a gem.

Today a co-worker followed me into my office after lunch, and saw me put the book down. "What's this?" "An autobiography of Lucille Ball." Wait for it......

"Who wrote it?"
"It's an autobiography."
"Oh, wow. So who wrote it?"
"She did. An autobiography is a book written by a person about their own life. Lucy dictated it, and someone transcribed it, and it was published after her death."
"Oh. Wow. There's a lot of words in here."

I didn't make this up. It's true. Granted, she doesn't have the kind of job that requires many written words. And her spoken language isn't the best either. Her speech is littered with "I seen...I done...ANYWAYS" You get the idea.

She grew up here in Redneck Heaven. She's happily married, and a mother and grandmother. I AM NOT WRITING THIS TO MAKE FUN OF HER. She is a really nice person, and I would be heartbroken if she knew that her speech makes me want to start drinking at 8:00 in the morning. Even if she read this blog, which she won't, because she doesn't know how to get to a website that isn't already saved in her favorites. I know this, because I help her every day.

I am just continually disturbed that someone in this day and age (and she's not very old...people in this part of the country have children young - she's younger than I) can graduate from high school and be functionally illiterate. When I lived in Sonoma County, I worked as a literacy tutor, helping adult women learn to read and write. I know their stories, I've seen their pain. It happens, but it makes me want to cry.

Anyway, I've decided that I'm going to try to find some time and find a good literacy program and volunteer again.

Any recommendations?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Anything great in 2008?

I like to look back before I look forward...character flaw? Ridiculous way to cause automobile accidents? Good way to fall off a treadmill? Maybe so, maybe so.

But looking back at my list of resolutions for 2008 may give me some perspective on setting resolutions. Did I make resolutions that were attainable? Are they even things that are important to me today, a year later? Did any of them come with cream cheese? Sorry, I'm a little hungry...more on that, later. Should have had breakfast before I sat down to eat.

At the top of 2008, I was optimistic. I made a list. I had plans. And then I got life-smacked. Suffice it to say I no longer live in the country. I'm a city girl now, sewer and all.

So, for the betterment of no one but me, here goes:

1. Be an encourager. I've done my very best with this one, and it's the one of which I'm proudest (that, and not leaving dangling participles).

2. Eat less junk food - like none. I've been fabulous at this one....for the last 24 hours. Actually, most of the year I didn't do well at all. I gained a few pounds. Got more out-of-shape. My back was VERY bad and it was difficult to exercise, so instead of doing the smart thing, and eating the number of calories I was actually burning (which calculates out to like 12), I ate comfort foods. Which made me very uncomfortable...as in, squished like a sausage into my clothes..had to buy new clothes...whoa, never worn THAT size before, uncomfortable. I tried many different diets. On one, I got sick of eggs and meat. On another, I craved eggs and meat. On a third, I was hungry ALL THE TIME. Three weeks ago, three measly weeks, I started a plan that works on changing the mind as well as the body and it's working well. Cravings are gone, I'm not that hungry, life is good. But I did have some dark chocolate covered dried sweet cherries yesterday at work. Because after all, contrary to some opinions, I am human.

3. Accept not one single date. For the whole year. I'm not kidding.
I wasn't kidding. At the time. But I did accept one date - a blind date set up by my great friend, Michelle. Who thankfully doesn't read this blog. Because, although she swore she'd go out with him if she was single, I think she had been on the elliptical too long and the blood had all flowed out of her brain to her muscles. And I had one disastrous date with a guy I'd dated in 2007...I'm thankful, actually for that one, as it made me remember WHY. I. AM. SO. MUCH. BETTER. OFF. WITHOUT. HIM. But I may keep this one...as I spent more time with my kids, more time with myself figuring out what I really want, and more time with God. But I don't think this should be a year-long goal for me...I'm gonna take it month by month.

4. Make it to the Stirring every week. Invite at least one new person a month.
Well, we switched our place of worship this year, due to unforeseen circumstances that had NOTHING to do with the Stirring...I love it, I miss it, and will always be connected, but now we're going to Neighborhood...but yes, we go every week, unless someone is sick. I've maintained the "invite at least one new person a month" although not many (ok, not any) took me up on it earlier in the year, now we have eight new people I've brought attending weekly. So I'm keeping this one and doubling it.

5. Pray more. Accomplished, but more importantly, I've attained the realization that I need to be living my entire life as a prayer.

6. Use my languages more. Okay with Spanish, but total failure on the rest. And I don't care about this one any more. Tossed!

7. Read more blogs! Successful, but now becoming very time-consuming....while I still find new ones to add, I'm pretty picky. But the ones I've picked I read conscientiously. There's been some really amazing additions to my daily reading list, and I want to seriously thank everyone who enriches my world.

Yes, we're getting close to the end.

8. Try to get the Prince to eat a more varied diet. Okay, to be fair, I did say TRY. Not giving up on this one, but still a total failure.

9. Dance more. Failure. Miserable, unhappy failure. I love to dance. Any kind, anywhere. My passion at the time was belly dance. And my back, though it doesn't pain me anymore (thanks to some really nasty injections), has been very stern with me...and so has my dear Dr. M who has forbidden any of it. Unless, of course, I can figure a way to do it without moving my hips. At all. For those of you who've seen the art of middle-eastern dance, you'll know it involves the hips much more than the belly. So, now I'm working on perfecting the art of head dancing. It's my own thing...

10. Sing karaoke. What was I thinking?

11. Go somewhere I've never been. Like Portland. Failed. Thank you, gas prices.

12. Go to the gym at least four days a week. Some weeks I do well, and some suck. That's life.

And that was it.

I may be back here in a day or two with some more for 2009. I should have thought about this sooner...but I didn't. Maybe I should add "Stop procrastinating" to my list. Maybe later.

Thanks for a great year! May you and yours have a wonderful, happy, and healthy new year!