A "good enough" mom muses about alpha moms, adoption, computers, the State Of The World, Internet quirkiness, and the Kosmik All
Firm and Determined

Photo courtesy of PictureLine News Happy New Year to one and all. New Year's resolutions are one of those things that OmegaMom has always scoffed at. After all, the change from one year to another is a totally human artifact, just a symbol at heart. There is no great clock in the sky, tied to the One True Calendar, that ticks over at midnight (which midnight, by the way? Moscow's? London's? New York's?) and announces over the great Jungian collective unconscious that, Lo!, a new year has begun. So why do humans feel this need for a marker, a specific break between this one quantum of time (2005) and the next one (2006), to hang their life's changes upon? It's similar to the need of smokers or dieters or alcoholics to mark a time in the future and say, "Then. I will stop smoking/change my eating habits/stop drinking then." Strongly implied in that is the phrase, "But NOT NOW." A few months ago, OmegaMom had a health screening at work. Blood pressure--check, no prob. Weight--check, no prob. Fasting blood sugar level--check, no prob. (Woohoo! OmegaMom, whose dad, paternal grandmother, eldest brother, and paternal cousin all suffered from adult-onset diabetes, is paranoid about that one subject.) Then came the cholesterol check. Eeeek! Total: 242. Ratio of "good" cholesterol to "bad" cholesterol: dismal. OmegaMom watched, stunned, as the nurse pushed the little chart with the different levels of heart attack risk attached to different ranges of LDL-to-HDL in front of her, and pointed squarely at level 5: Very high risk. Oops. So OmegaMom, the Fear Of God upon her, promptly started a regimen of high-fiber, high-veggies, high-fruits eating, totally cut her beloved Starbuck's Frappucinos (we will not discuss how many of these things she drank in one day), and planned to exercise. The amazing thing is that this regimen made OmegaMom feel much better very quickly. No more spikes of sleepiness in the afternoons (or mornings, or evenings). Brain was more alert and "zippier". She felt livelier and healthier than she had felt in a long time... The problem is that all of this happened 3 weeks before Thanksgiving and the holiday season. Confronted with gobs of yummy goodies at home, at work, at other people's houses, did OmegaMom stay the course? Did she stand firm? Did she follow her new regimen? Of course not. So, now that the holidays are over with, and the lovely, symbolic swing from old year to new is upon us, OmegaMom has succumbed, and made a resolution. Resolved: to get that cholesterol level down to normal levels via healthy eating and exercise. To firm up the flapping old-lady wattles beneath the upper arms. To once more go boldly where no man has gone before! (Ooops. Sorry. Got carried away there.) A bunch of online buds and I have joined the Discovery Health Channel National Body Challenge 2006. Wish me luck. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year's Eve, and that some of your dreams come true in the year to come. (Not all. No-one should ever have all of their dreams come true, because then what is there to strive for?)
posted by Kate @ 12/31/2005 10:23:00 AM   4 comments

Contrary Magic
When OmegaMom was a small lass, one of OmegaGranny's favorite catchphrases was "contrary magic". This was used to describe what would happen if, say, you planned a picnic, invited people, and did not have a rain date: inevitably, it would rain, the picnic would be spoiled, the gods would laugh, and everyone would have a lousy time. There are certain people who are "contrary magic" personified. OmegaMom knew someone who could cause computers to glitch and expensive power tools to freeze up or break, merely by walking into the room, and whose premier production as a director at a small theater company in Rogers Park was interrupted by a fire in the lighting system. The comic strip L'il Abner has such a character, Joe Btfsplk, who wanders around with a black cloud hanging over his head, and is shunned by all his neighbors, because he brings wrack and ruin in his wake. There are times when OmegaMom herself has felt like a Joe Btfsplk. The one year she attended Northwestern University, the Wildcats had a season in which they won no games. Zero. Zip. If she was foolish enough to watch a Bears game with her grandfather, the Bears would inevitably lose. During the Winter Olympics, whatever ice dancing team OmegaMom has set her heart on...loses. When the Omegas started the adoption process for OmegaDotter, the wait between DTC (dossier to China) and referral was a mere 9 months. As soon as they sent their application in, the wait began to stretch. By the time they actually received their referral for OmegaDotter, the wait was an agonizing 14 months. Two months ago, when the shadow of a slowdown at the Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs was just beginning to raise its ugly head, OmegaMom had a luncheon with four long-time work friends. They sat around chit-chatting about this and that, scarfing down the hors d'oeuvres, having a grand old time. OmegaMom clinked her glass, and announced to them all that she and OmegaDad were about to start the process for DotterSecunda. Happy, eager questions pelted her. Everyone was excited. And then the question came: "Will it take as long this time? It took soooo long last time!" OmegaMom uttered this fateful phrase: "Oh, it should be much quicker this time! We're expecting it to take about a year, total." Um. Foolish, foolish OmegaMom. That is known as "taunting the gods". Mr. OmegaMom has a saying: "Man plans, God laughs." Referrals times have slowed dramatically in the past two months. Many of OmegaMom's buddies on the Chinese adoption lists, who are in the process for number one or number two, or even, in some cases, number three, are watching their longed-for referrals continuing to loom beyond their grasp in a Sisyphean manner. Like the Red Queen, they feel like they are running and running and running, only to stay in the same place. My heart goes out to them. No matter how you feel afterwards, when you have your child in your arms, the wait just plain SUCKS DEAD TOADS. Period. End of story. And OmegaMom is feeling like the Joe Btfsplk of the Chinese adoption world. All she can do is offer hugs and condolences. (OmegaMom would like to assure all and sundry that, yes, she is aware that she has absolutely no linkage to the slowdown, and that, yes, she is aware that this superstition is incredibly self-centered. But, boy, it sure seems like fate, karma, destiny, kismet, or the gods laughing.)
posted by Kate @ 12/30/2005 09:07:00 AM   2 comments

So, the URL to this absolutely hilarious send-up of adoption issues was posted on a list I belong to, and I had to share. Warning: If you're new to adoption, the adoption game, adoption issues in general, this may not hit you the right way. If, like OmegaMom, you've been around the block and argued adoption issues endlessly with adoptees, birthmothers, and other adoptive parents, this will make you howl. Onto the hilarity: The Big Bastardly Toy Book.
posted by Kate @ 12/29/2005 11:21:00 AM   4 comments

Some cuteness
OmegaDotter to Mr. OmegaMom, on the way back from the Little Store Down the Hill: "It is my opinion that that is a very small house," pointing to one of the houses they were passing in the car. OmegaDotter to OmegaMom, while handing back a section of mandarin orange: "I can't eat that. I have bugs on my teeth." (This is a case of toothbrushing motivational speeches going astray.)
posted by Kate @ 12/28/2005 06:24:00 PM   0 comments

OmegaMom dreams. She is trying to unwrap a twisty-tie. She twists it this way and that way, and as she does, the twisty-tie multiplies, hydra-like. Soon, she is trying to make her way through a forest of twisty-ties in the misty darkness, stalks wrapped together in a variety of manners, some bent over and wrapped around themselves, some twisted one way then the other, some linked with multiple other twisty-ties in the distance. As soon as she breaks her way through one thicket, another looms before her. And all the time, OmegaDotter is calling, from far far away, "I waaaant it!" Then, she is smushed inside a stiff hermetically sealed plastic package, being shaken up and down. A giant above her is stabbing at the package with scissors, and OmegaMom can't escape, as the scissors come stabbing...stabbing...stabbing. The giant shakes the package in frustration, then finally the scissors find a surface to start cutting, and icy, glasslike shards of plastic begin falling like snow, swirling around OmegaMom and the giant. One of the shards impales the giant, and a drop of dark red giant blood starts falling in slow motion, then splashes onto OmegaMom, then forms a film between her and the plastic packaging.
Back to reality here. Yoohoo! Reality calling! No, OmegaMom did NOT have nightmares like that, but it's not for lack of trying on the part of toy manufacturers. Those of my vast array of readers <::snerk::> who are not parents will not comprehend the terror that toy packaging inflicts upon parents at Christmastime and birthdays. Those of you who are parents know exactly what that nightmare above is describing. Those of you who are soon-to-be parents, take heed: Toy packaging is the instrument of the Devil. Take OmegaDotter's new baby doll. It had twisty-ties around the arms, legs, and neck. The baby-bottle had a twisty-tie around the neck. The plastic bib had two twisty-ties. The baby jacket and baby hat were SEWN TO THE PACKAGE (yes, sewn). The Chinese New Year Barbie? Twisty-ties around each leg, each arm, the neck, the hair, tape over the bent-over twisty-tie ends, and a fiendish hash of tape that attached the mysterious round black thing to the back of the package. (Mr. OmegaMom, in a blaze of genius a day later, realized the mysterious round black thing was actually a stand for Chinese New Year Barbie to be displayed upon. Alas, there was a necessary part that somehow got lost in the Christmas shuffle, so Barbie is doomed to not be displayed, merely played with.) The Spirit horse set? Each horse had four twisty-ties (one for each leg), plus a long flat plastic doodad with holes (akin to a flat yoke) to ensure that the four twisty-ties would lie flat and stay together. The Creative Zen Touch? Hard plastic hermetically sealed package. Wait! Not just one, but two, snuggled inside each other like nesting dolls. Each of these presents (with the exception of the Zen) was accompanied by an almost 4-year-old wanting to Play With The Toy NOW. (The Zen, which was OmegaMom's, was not opened right away; OmegaMom simply wanted to clutch it to her bosom and croon happily.) May I ask the toy manufacturers just what deadly combination of shoplifting prevention and marketing display requires this much packaging? Is it secretly a ploy by anti-American forces, striving to drive one-third of the nation insane on Christmas Day? Or is it a psychological test? Are we secretly being monitored through heating vents so psychologists can research how long it takes before parents and children become so frustrated that they fall upon each other like rabid weasels? Maybe it's an IQ test. In any event, parents-to-be, take note. And take notes. This, too, shall be in your future.
posted by Kate @ 12/28/2005 10:59:00 AM   4 comments

The New 30
The Omegas do not partake of popular culture (aka "TV") very much. Mr. OmegaMom gets high doses of pop culture when he is out in the field--he spends the nights at hotels, and gets a TV fix then. He informs me that I'm not missing much. But even in this pop-free household, we get leakage from the greater world. So it's my understanding that "40 is the new 30"...or is it "50 is the new 30"? AARP, apparently, is touting that "60 is the new 30". The U.S. Census says that there were 50,454 centenarians in the U.S. in 2000 (one of which is my grandma), up from 37,306 in 1990. The U.S. Census is estimating that the number will double in 10 years. So we're living longer. Concurrent with this is the ever-increasing age of women to give birth. In 1970, the national average age at first birth was 22.1 years old, according to the CDC; that average age has increased to 24.9. Photo copyright Jeff Christensen/Reuters FileAnd then there's Aleta St. James, sister to Curtis Sliwa of Guardian Angels fame. St. James gave birth to twins via donor egg/donor sperm a year ago, at age 56. Gotta admit, for a 56-year-old who just gave birth, she sure looks 30s-ish. Of course, the news (and any follow-up articles) generated the usual commentary: "selfish women who put off childbearing to further their careers"; "a mid-50s woman just doesn't have the energy"; "why didn't she just get a dog?"; "it isn't fair to the kids--she'll be in her 70s when they finish highschool". Bioethicist Arthur Caplan chimed in, and, when a 66-year-old woman gave birth via ART, he further went on to demand age limits on reproductive medicine. As a middle-aged mom myself, beginning the work on number two, I have to admit that the commentary gets to me, because it's often applied to women of my age as well. I look at OmegaDotter and realize that when she graduates from highschool, I will be 61. When DotterSecunda comes along, well, only the Kozmik All knows how old I will be when she graduates. There are definitely times when I worry about the age thing. Is it fair? Is it right? What if I take after Dad's side of the family, rather than OmegaGranny's, and kick off in my 60s rather than my 90s? On the other hand, as I have mentioned before, when I was in my 20s and early 30s, I was...well...a flibbertigibbit, a butterfly, not wildly responsible, and very commitment-phobic. To boot, as I have gotten older, I have an increased patience level for things that are the result of childish behavior (rather than the decreased patience level I have for things that are the result of boorish behavior, which is totally different). And having a baby or toddler around the house has increased my patience even more (because otherwise I'd go loony tunes on Mr. OmegaMom, and he'd be left holding the bag). So there are pluses and minuses to the "older motherhood" thang. While part of me tends to agree with Caplan and the commentators, that there's a line beyond which we should not go, another part of me looks around and sees people in their 40s and 50s being more active, more vibrant than I recall them as a child. After all, nowadays retirement villages a la Sun City emphasize the "active lifestyle" in their ads, because they're marketing to aging Baby Boomers to whom the idea of aging is anethema. There are certain inherent biological limits, 'tis true. At least St. James makes it very clear she used donor egg--many older 40s/early 50s celebrities who have had children recently are somewhat coy on the subject. But what if the hopes and promises of current aging research pan out? What if--with the help of medicine--folks can live extended lives that feature extended health and vitality? If that's the case, then the "older motherhood" problem would simply vanish into the mists.
posted by Kate @ 12/27/2005 02:31:00 PM   1 comments

When it comes to passing down family heirlooms, there seem to be three groups of people: those who truly appreciate the heirlooms, to whom they are precious pieces of family history; those to whom family heirlooms are just useless junk; and those who are just plain...well, too immature to appreciate it. Once upon a time, OmegaMom was an immature twit. OmegaGranny gave OmegaMom some precious craftworks in her early 20s, and OmegaMom, being an immature early-20s flibbertigibbit, proceeded to treat such craftworks in a thoroughly unappreciative manner. Some backstory: During the '50s and '60s, the OmegaParents were artsy Bohemians. Living in the Near North Side of Chicago, they hung around coffee houses, held music jams at home, and put on art shows. OmegaMom's dad was a keen photographer and musician, and the house was filled with beautiful photos he had taken--nature pics, portraits, abstracts. There was an Andy Warholesque poster of a Buddha (a copy of which OmegaMom would dearly love to have now, but OmegaGranny can't find any prints, sigh). OmegaMom's mom did crafts: hooked rugs, papier mache sculptures, appliqued wall hangings. The hooked rugs were wonders. OmegaGranny, fascinated with the famous Seven Bridges of Konigsberg math puzzle, created a hooked rug of it, which OmegaMom spent many long evenings tracing over and trying to find the solution. Another hooked rug came about because OmegaGranny, flying over the Midwest farmlands on a business trip, thought the patterns of the crops and the rivers were beautiful, so she created an aerial view of a strip of farmland with a river running through it. OmegaGranny gave these to OmegaMom. Sometime in her twenties, OmegaMom LOST them. The papier mache sculptures were amazing. OmegaGranny would come up with a concept of a fantasy critter, build a framework out of "found items" such as empty paper towel tubes, paper cups, paper plates, and cardboard cut up into shapes, all taped together with masking tape. Then she would pad it with scrunched up balls of newspaper. Then she'd drape it with layer upon layer of papier mache'd newspaper strips, sand it down, and paint it with fanciful paisleys, loops, dots, swirls, etc., all in bright colors. OmegaGranny gave OmegaMom the very first one of these creatures she ever made. Amazingly enough, OmegaMom still has this one. The wall-hangings were glorious. Some were of more of OmegaGranny's fanciful critters, but OmegaMom's favorite was a city night scene, which just shouted out "Near North Side"--highrises in the background, two-flats in the foreground, Volkswagen Beetles driving to-and-fro, neon lights advertising eateries and hotels...OmegaGranny gave this one, and a large sunflower hanging, to OmegaMom. Once again, OmegaMom didn't take care of them. Somewhere in her 30s, OmegaMom realized--stricken--just what a twit she had been about the various craftworks that OmegaGranny had given her, and mourned the thought that she would never see them again. Unbeknownst to her, OmegaGranny had rescued the night scene wall hanging. This Christmas, OmegaGranny gave me the night scene wall hanging again. Trust me, this is a Christmas gift that means the world to me. Thank you so very much, OmegaGranny.
On other Christmas fronts--Santa (aka Mr. OmegaMom) earned mega brownie points from OmegaMom by bringing her a Creative Zen Touch 20GB mp3 player. Ooooh. OmegaMom has been perusing song lists from the '80s. Anyone have any suggestions as to a good subscription or by-song music purchasing site? I gotta be able to get oldie and moldies, not all new stuff. OmegaGranny earned mega brownie points from Mr. OmegaMom by giving him "To a Cabin", by Dorothea Lange and Margaret K. Mitchell. Mr. OmegaMom has wanted this book for 20 years. OmegaDotter got oodles of horsies..."Mini Whinnies" (which OmegaMom is sure to find in the middle of the night by stepping on them), a Breyer "Spirit" set, a framed drawing of horsies, stuffed horsies, a horsie coloring book...anyone want to venture a guess as to what OmegaDotter's favorite thing is right now?? She also got a glory of old costume jewelry from Great Grandma, a variety of dress-up items to play with from OmegaGranny, and various Other Stuff. I feel a rant about toy packaging and conspicuous consumption coming on.
I leave you with this picture of three generations of OmegaWomen. Here's hoping your holiday was as relaxing, fun, and peaceful as the Omegas'.

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posted by Kate @ 12/26/2005 01:29:00 PM   2 comments

Merry Christmas!
An excited snow princess wishes you all A Very Merry Christmas!


A Happy New Year!!!
posted by Kate @ 12/24/2005 04:13:00 PM   2 comments

Merry merry, happy happy!
Well, the Christmas tree is up, there are gifts around it, OmegaGranny has made it up the mountain and will be spending tonight and tomorrow night with us. We're gonna go down the mountain with her on Sunday, cook a dinner at her house, and have GreatGrandma join us. I'll try to get some stuff up over the holiday, but in the meantime, enjoy this. (We haven't had ANY snow, so this may be as close as we come to a "white Christmas" here at the Omega household. Bah, humbug.)
posted by Kate @ 12/23/2005 05:10:00 PM   0 comments

Sometimes a cigar...
...is just a cigar. Sigmund Freud When the University of Bath's School of Management recently did a study on the role of brands in the lives of 7-11 year olds, they were shocked--shocked!--to find out that "seven to eleven year old girls subject their Barbie dolls to torture and mutilation." "The types of mutilation are varied and creative, and range from removing the hair to decapitation, burning, breaking and even microwaving." Okay, cool so far. But then they go into a miasma of motivation, claiming the girls are doing this to "reject excess", and that the girls feel "violence and hatred towards the Barbies" because (amongst other things) she is a feminine icon and a symbol of excess. (At least this is how it's portrayed in the press release on the study.) Hunh. This is new? OmegaMom is 46 years old (ack! In 3 years and some change, AARP will be knocking on my mailbox, asking me to become a member!). I distinctly remember dismembering Barbies and similar fashion figurines in my girlhood. I am not alone--there was, lo these many years ago, a quite heated discussion on APC about mutilating toys. This discussion seemed to produce a distinct division amongst the list: there were those who did so as children and regarded it as perfectly normal, and those who did not and regarded those who did as some kind of perverse sickos. (OmegaMom, though she may be somewhat twisted, does not consider herself a sicko.) In addition to beheading Francie (I don't think I ever had a real Barbie) and twisting off her leg (done in an attempt to make her pose like the picture on the Francie case, where Francie's leg was oh-so-elegantly extended and turned out to the side, which the physical Francie had no ability to do), I also shaved baby doll's heads, colored dolls with paint and fingernail polish, pulled toys apart. Now. There were toys I would never, ever have done that to. Rupert, for instance. My beloved stuffed dog with the long bassett-hound ears, who had been so well-loved by me as an infant and toddler that he was a dismal beigish color with spots where his fur had worn off because I hugged him so much...now, Rupert I would never have done a thing to. But at the same time, none of these "mutilations" were done in a violent haze of hatred. It was more of a "what happens when I do this?" attitude. The reason I didn't do anything with Rupert was because I loved him not because I hated the other toys. In the press release, the principal researcher is quoted as saying about the Barbies, "The most readily expressed reason for rejecting Barbie was that she was babyish, and girls saw her as representing their younger childhood out of which they felt they had now grown." Now that is an eminently understandable reason: "When I was a child I spoke as a child. I understood as a child. I thought as a child. But when I became a man I put away childish things." I Cor. xiii. 11 Why'd they have to frantically search for other, more perturbing motives? Sometimes a cigar is just...a cigar.
posted by Kate @ 12/22/2005 12:41:00 AM   0 comments

Christmas meme...
What's a "meme"? In practice, it's a sort of survey that gets passed around on blogs or boards or email lists. In theory...? Omegamom, being a snobby, erudite kinda person, immediately thinks of "meme" as in: Pronounced mehm: "A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another." (The definition is from Dictionary.com; the idea is from Richard Dawkins, coining a word that does to ideas what gene does to biology.) Or is it: Pronounced mee-mee: "A trivial survey of individual information that is all about ME and is transmitted electronically via blogs or emails lists from one person to another." (The definition is from OmegaMom.) Either way, here 'tis, "gakked" from Cubbiegirl: Colored lights or white lights? Both. We do colored lights on the tree, white lights on the house. The real question, of course, should be "big lights or little lights?", or "blinking lights or non-blinking lights". Little and non-blinking would be my answers. Apparently, the latest Christmas light fashion is huge lights. They seem awfully tacky to me. Real tree or fake tree? Real. I know there's a huge advantage in terms of convenience, ease, and cleanliness (no needles in the carpet!) with fake, but the smell of real Christmas trees just transports me right back in time. And the "choosing the tree" trip is grand fun. And if the Omegas could just get themselves together early enough, we could actually go out & cut our own. Maybe next year! I just hope this tree lasts until Christmas; it's turning into a crispy critter. What is your least favorite thing about the holidays? Stress. Shopping. Crowds. Ewwww. What is the one thing that you would like to see under the tree this year? Sigh. An iPod. With 30 GB storage. It ain't gonna happen. What is your favorite thing to do/build in the snow? Cross-country skiing! Not that the Omegas are very good at it, mind you, but we have fun, get exercise and enjoy ourselves. Alas, this year is gonna be a bust, snow-wise. Last year was great. What is your favorite holiday drink? Eggnog with brandy or bourbon. Mmmm. What is your favorite holiday smell? Christmas tree smell! Who is your favorite reindeer? Comet, 'cause he's kozmik! What is your Christmas Eve ritual? We don't have one yet, however, I've purchased PJs for OmegaDotter and I, with plans to open them first, then open the other presents. Are you a Friday after Thanksgiving shopper? You are shitting me. Are you nuts? Voluntarily subject myself to a frenzied madness of competitive shoppers, all searching for the best deal? This sounds to Omegamom like a manifestation of one of Dante's hells. What is your favorite holiday food? A good homemade pumpkin or pecan pie. Store-boughten just won't do--the pumpkin pies are bland, and the pecan pies are a rip-off, mostly sugar goop with very few pecans. How did you find out that Santa wasn't real? I don't remember. I don't even remember believing in Santa, so maybe I never had to cope with the trauma. Who do you want to be under the mistletoe with? Mr. OmegaMom, of course! Have you bought all your presents yet? Ha! Do you spend Christmas with a lot of family? Alas, no. Not much family here in town; we'll have OmegaGranny up for a few nights, and then drive her back home and have a small do with GreatGrandma. Next year, the Omegas hope to do the visit to Mr. OmegaMom's family do, which is Big! And Extravagent! And full of lots of Family! And Fun! (To OmegaMom. Mr. OmegaMom, however, hates going back home. OmegaMom has to spend months slowly preparing him for the anguish.) Do you still make snowmen and snow angels? Of course! What's your favorite Christmas movie? It's a Wonderful Life. What do you plan to do for New Year's Eve? Ab-so-lutely nothing. What's the weirdest thing you've ever gotten for Christmas? Gutters. But I wanted them. What's the most expensive thing you've gotten for Christmas? An engagement ring. How early do you wake up on Christmas morning? As late as possible. But this is no different from any other day of the year! Sleep is treasured in the Omega household. What do you usually get in your stocking? We don't do stockings for us; OmegaDotter gets a stocking this year, and we've had fun coming up with little gifties to put there.
posted by Kate @ 12/21/2005 12:42:00 PM   1 comments

Please bear with us...
...as we strive to make your visit to OmegaMom's spot more relaxing and enjoyable... (Envision a perky flight attendent, a la the Barbies in Toy Story, smiling widely.) OmegaMom is trying to add categories to the blog. It seems that Blogspot has to re-index the website. It seems like this is going to take a while. Why the heck won't Blogspot add a "categories" ability?!?!
Argh! It's still not working! I will give Blogspot Search ONE DAY to crawl my blog, and then see if there's another way to try to do the categories. Harrumph. Categories: [Bloggy Stuff]
posted by Kate @ 12/19/2005 03:20:00 PM   1 comments

A tale of bribery and corruption
OmegaDad is a genius. He bribed someone to get what we wanted. And we got it. Sleazy, immoral devil. He went to Michael's early Sunday morning. He bought: Stickers. Lots of stickers. A cheap plastic horsie. Way-cool draw-on break-apart jigsaw puzzles. Markers (washable--I told you he was a genius!). Two bags. He dumped all the gleanings from Michael's into the bags. He told OmegaDotter that if she took her medicine, she could close her eyes and grab something out of one of the bags. She did take her medicine. She reached into the bags and pulled out a toy (one of the jigsaw puzzle kits). She is a much happier camper. She ate soup at dinner, plus rice. Fever is gone, rash is gone, bumps are gone. Yay! She went to bed at her normal hour, and not a peep since then. Yay! (What am I doing up?!) But I am left with the sad knowledge that my husband is a ruthless conniver and my daughter can be bought by promises of goodies. What a surprise. Categories: [Family] [Mr. Omegamom]
posted by Kate @ 12/19/2005 02:08:00 AM   0 comments

Strong medicine
Have I mentioned that OmegaDotter is sick? Again? A search on "how often children get sick" results in this, from About Pediatrics": "It is normal for young children to have six to eight upper respiratory tract infections and two or three gastrointestinal infections each year." Excuse me while OmegaMom runs screaming from the room. A search on "how get children take medicine" results in 23,300,000 hits. It is empowering to realize I Am Not Alone. On the other hand, it is depressing to realize that there isn't a definitive answer, repeated by all 50 of the top hits. My daydream is to find a child's cold/flu or fever medicine that does not require any cooperation from the child. A patch would do nicely. Then you could slap that puppy right between the shoulder blades whenever your child is feverish, in pain, somewhat incoherent, and definitely uncooperative. OmegaMom even, in the depths of the night, considered for a brief period the idea of BenGay for dotter--only to remember that it is definitely a topical ointment. In other words, maybe OmegaDotter's fever would go down wherever the BenGay was rubbed, but nowhere else. Besides, given the writhing and screaming that accompanies any attempt to get OmegaDotter to ingest nice bubble-gum flavored fever medications or nice bubble-gum flavored cold/flu medicines, the BenGay experiment would have been a catastrophe, with BenGay flying all over the bedroom. But, damn, that patch idea sings through my head at 1:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. A search on child fever red spots bumps is not reassuring, as the second hit is all about Chicken Pox, and the third is about Scarlet Fever. Google is a Bad, Bad Thing. Categories: [Family]
posted by Kate @ 12/18/2005 07:21:00 AM   1 comments

This has been posted on at least two Chinese adoption email groups within the past half-hour, so I figure it's okay to post it here. For background, check out my December 1 and December 2 posts, plus this article. Hunan Closes to Adoptions Copy of a post by Brian Stuy on Global Adoption Triad site "I'm in China, so don't know if this has hit Stateside yet, but the CCAA has closed Hunan Province to adoptions until further notice. Apparently the issues with the baby smuggling are raising additional concerns, so to avoid international censure they are closing down this one Province for adoptions. "Additionally, I think you have heard the the Chinese government has prohibited Chinese newspapers from reporting on this event anymore. These two events show that the Hunan story is not yet close to resolution, and thus was broader than most people initially thought.--Brian" I don't know what this means to folks who currently have referrals from Hunan and are waiting to travel...my heart goes out to them in such an uncertain time. Categories: [Hunan Situation] [Adoption Issues]
posted by Kate @ 12/17/2005 09:43:00 AM   0 comments

Wedding Bells
*C*O*N*G*R*A*T*U*L*A*T*I*O*N*S* to my longtime bud the Desert Rat, who is marrying Mr. Wolf today. Mazel tov, kiddo. May you and Mr. Wolf find joyous shelter in each other's arms for many lovely years. Categories: [This 'n That]
posted by Kate @ 12/17/2005 08:55:00 AM   1 comments

Religion and the great divide
This is a touchy subject. Let me state at the outset that the Omegas are not religious. Spiritual...agnostic (as in "I do not know")...but not religious. Omegamom's background on one side is that of at least three previous generations being non-religious; on the other side, it is Anglican, high-Church Episcopalian, with a large dash of New England reticence. On the one hand, she got quite a dose of religious pomp and circumstance, going to church with grandma and grandpa on Sundays at Saint Luke's, which had, amongst other amenities, the most wonderful organ with a trumpet fanfare that would make the air quiver when playing "Hail Thee, Festival Day" for Easter. (This left OmegaMom with a great love for old religious music.) On the other hand, she spent summers with the other grandparents, and got a similarly hearty dose of...well...total disinterest in churchy things. OmegaDad's background is Southern Baptist and Church of Christ. (The lack of music is something he makes note of.) He is virulently anti-fundamentalist as a result. He tells tales of noticing at an early age that the people who were the most churchy in the congregations tended to be the ones who were the most hypocritical. He had a short stint in his early 20s when he spent a great deal of time with Father John, a Catholic priest who shared his passion for fishing, discussing various religious subjects. Anyway. My attitude towards religion and spirituality tends to be that it's something that...well...it's private. (Remember that "New England reticence" mentioned above?) It's definitely not something that you should be pushing on other people. The Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons who come to our doors are chatted with briefly, we accept their tracts, sometimes read them, and then toss them into the recycle bin. Luckily, we haven't had any who were more assertive (and having a large growling barking slavering dawg on the other side of the glass doors provides a grand deterrant). In various email lists I have been on over the years, there's a certain etiquette to follow. On infertility lists, you make sure you mention in the subject line when you're talking about pregnancy, birth, kids, etc. Flame wars would erupt regularly, when new people who had children would innocently post about them, be requested to put the proper code in the subject, and promptly feel hurt and defensive. Folks with long-term primary infertility (no kids) would try to explain the pain reading about little Johnny's cute behavior at the family gathering could cause them. Folks new to the IF game would counter with how bitter and miserable the others were--after all, didn't they all want baybeeees? They didn't feel that way! Surely a mention or two of someone's child or pregnancy couldn't possibly be painful! Religion is such a touchy subject that many email lists devoted to particular subjects have similar etiquette rules. If your post is pretty much religion-oriented, you are requested to put "(God ment.)" or "(rel.)" or something of the sort in the subject line. In the Chinese adoption community, there are myriad lists...especially those related to the "DTC" date. (DTC="dossier to China".) When you submit your dossier, given the standardization of the Chinese adoption process, all the folks who sent in their dossiers in the same month are likely to end up receiving referrals at the same time, and also likely to travel at the same time. DTC groups are a way to provide community for folks who are waiting (and waiting...and waiting) for their referrals. You chit-chat, you talk about nurseries and pediatricians, you do scrapbook exchanges, you maybe join a "100 Good Wishes" quilting square exchange, you share your ups and downs about the wait and life in general. (When we traveled to China, there were two other families in our travel group who I had gotten to know on our DTC group.) The problem sometimes comes that folks to whom religion is very important clash with those to whom it's not. Some DTC groups are overrun with religiosity. Some aren't. And the flames start up..."Please remember that there are folks on the list who don't want to be told that the support of Christ will help us with the wait." "Are you telling me to not share my love of Christ?! It's an integral part of my life and I won't be told to shut it out!" "Some of us are very satisfied with our spiritual life and don't appreciate being told that there is Only One Way." Etc. Y'see, there's a great divide. Some Christian churches actively promote proselytizing (sp?)...it is an integral part of their religion that they must shout it to the rooftops, they must Share The Word of God, they must Witness. If someone doesn't want to listen, they seem to feel that this person must be "shared" with, because otherwise, they are Lost. (Funny story: a friend of mine, back in Chicago, walking down State Street at lunchtime, is followed by an itinerant preacher, haranguing her about the Word of God. At one point, he proclaims to her, "WOMAN! You are LOST!" Having had it, she spins around and shouts at him, "Then why are you FOLLOWING ME?!?!") And then there are folks like us Omegas. To people like us, people who insist on Sharing The Word of God, after being requested not to, are being...well...pushy. And, in some cases, downright insulting. After all, telling someone that their deeply held beliefs are going to lead them straight to hell isn't the best way to win friends and influence people. Telling other people that they are misguided, foolish, lost, should be praying to Jesus for forgiveness, or whathaveyou, is a surefire recipe for hostility and defensiveness. To top it all off, most of the people who tend to Witness (either live or on lists) also tend to complain that Christianity is being persecuted in the U.S. (when 80% of U.S. people surveyed identify themselves as Christian), blather on about activist judges secularizing society (but don't mind activist judges who try to codify religious belief into law), want prayer in school to be required (or simply don't understand why a whole slew of people don't want prayer in school), push for teaching Intelligent Design as science, want to restrict or abolish women's ability to have abortions--no matter what reason--based on their religious beliefs, and seem to have a really hard time separating the idea of legal marriage versus religious marriage. Anyway, there's been some hoorah on one of the DTC groups, and it has split into (at least) two. Folks who want respite from endless prayer circles and admonishments that Jesus will support them in their times of trouble (the referral wait is lengthening) have formed their own group, and, from what I hear, it's growing by leaps and bounds. Sadly, I think this split reflects society at large. How do you reconcile two such drastically opposed world views? I hope the U.S. can find a way. Because it sure is getting ugly out there. Categories: [This 'n That] [Adoption Issues]
posted by Kate @ 12/17/2005 12:32:00 AM   0 comments

Mommy intuition
OmegaDotter is, indeed, sick. Sigh. We're like one great big germ-sharing machine here at the Omega Home. She wanted to go to bed early. In my arms, she was weepy, whiny and snuggly. With OmegaDad, who does the bed thing first, she is bouncy and bubbly; I can hear her giggling and screeching from the bedroom. But when I get there, she will want to snuggle up against me and whimper again. I think some gender roles are innate. Categories: [Family]
posted by Kate @ 12/16/2005 08:12:00 PM   0 comments

Back-up to the future
So I go to check on several of my favorite blogstops this morning, and, one after another, poof!, they are missing their latest posts. It's like taking a step back in time. Of course, in an automatic reversal to high school angst (aka, "memememe!"), my immediate suspicion is that "I've done something to make them mad! They've all gone away and will NEVER SPEAK TO ME AGAIN!!!! Waaaah! They don't liiiiiike me!" My second thought is that I'm sicker than I thought, and have been hallucinating recent posts. Well, no. Turns out that Typepad is having problems again, so people's last two days' worth of posts have vanished into the ether. Immediately paranoid about something similar happening here to Omegamom's little spot on the web, I googled "blog backup". The results: Typepad does, indeed, have an export and import feature (I don't know whether it backs up the commenttrails, though). Blogspot, alas, does not. You can finesse around it by fiddling with your template, as referenced here. Be sure to make a backup copy of your template FIRST!!! Another suggestion, which only backs up the posts, is to have your posts emailed to an address of your choice when they are posted. Categories: [Bloggy Stuff]
We bought a new 'puter, a laptop. Gasp!! Yes--the old 'puter has been gasping and wheezing and rattling for months now, and finally these past three weeks has just been dying at totally unexpected moments. This is all due to a cooling fan dying the death. No data has been permanently damaged, it's just an ongoing frustration. First, there you are, on one of your boards, composing a real zinger of a reply to someone, only to have this odd *poit!* sound emerge from the computer and the screen suddenly go black. So you lose that wonder of composition, and in the irritation of losing it, it disappears completely from your human memory, too. Secondly, if you want to continue on, you have to reset the surge-protector, restart the computer, wait for Windows to scan for broken files, yadda, yadda, yadda. All of which takes far too long. And if you do it too soon, the heat disperser hasn't cooled enough, and the next unexpected downtime comes that much sooner. Anyway. We'd like to transfer our data over from old 'puter to new. (I already used our USB digi-cam to transfer over our cable modem's driver...seems that the hardware wizard really really wants to use the Internet to install new drivers...but if you're trying to install the driver that allows you to access the internet...well, it ends up being like that old Celtic image of the snake surrounding the world, eating its own tail.) I sent OmegaDad off to Staples with a list, which included "null-modem serial cable". The poor folk at Staples didn't know what the hell that was. I feel old. Is there such a thing as a serial-to-USB null-modem cable? (Honest question, and you may feel free to mock me in the comments as a twit who knows nothing about modern day computers...) Would this work? (The laptop was a real deal, and is way cool.) Categories: [Computers]
OmegaMom is sick. OmegaDad is sick. We think OmegaDotter is getting sick; she is being ultra-whiny and running an itty-bitty fever. The folks at daycare tell me a stomach bug is going around. Well, this was conveyed to me thus: "One of the kids threw up in the hall from Miss Betty's class." I boggled. Some kid threw up from Miss Betty's class out into the hall?!?! Ewww! Projectile vomiting! No, no--it turns out it's supposed to be: "One of the kids from Miss Betty's class threw up in the hall." Folks. Can we please use a leetle precision when speaking? It reminds me of my pettest peeve: people who say "All x's do not do y" when what they mean to say is "Not all x's do y". Trust me. There's a difference between "All bees do not sting" and "Not all bees sting". Use that as an example, and everyone can see the difference. Use a different statement, and they seem to lose the ability to understand the difference any more. Grrr. Categories: [Mr. OmegaMom] [This 'n That]
posted by Kate @ 12/16/2005 12:56:00 PM   0 comments

Image courtesy of Sangre Observatory - http://www.sangreobservatory.com/OmegaDad and I met in Northern New Mexico while on internships at Los Alamos National Laboratory. While we were falling in love with each other, we also fell in love with Northern New Mexico. We spent our weekends touring the area, piling into Blue, the pickup truck, grabbing a map, and wandering. We visited Taos, Santa Fe, Chama, fell in love with Bandolier National Monument, the Valle Grande (the caldera of an ancient volcano), the Rio Grande River--everything about Northern New Mexico enchanted us. The mix of old Hispanic culture and good ol' Western U.S. traditions with modern, new age thinking was intoxicating. I daydreamed of working at the Santa Fe Institute, doing intriguing work on artificial intelligence. OmegaDad daydreamed of jobs with the Nature Conservancy, or working with local ranchers to help them manage their lands in a more environmentally conscious manner. Photo courtesy of Earthship Biotecture - http://www.earthship.org/And then we discovered Earthships(c). What a daydream! Living off the grid...having a completely self-sustaining system where we could live more in tune with the Earth, leaving a smaller environmental footprint. Water gathered from nature...recycling the water we used...solar power...gardens indoors...huge windows for drawing the outside in. OmegaGranny, being a skeptical sort, always asks, "But what about maintaining all those systems?" If you do a search on "maintenance earthship", most of the information you pull up is how maintenance-free these wombs are (no gutters, no painting, etc. etc.). Very frustrating--you can't find info on long-term housing issues. How often do you need to fix the pipes? What if the central water system gets, say, caliche'd up? How dependable are the toilets? This guy has some very good information about how to modify standard earth ship designs to avoid roof and window leaks, which are apparently a problem in the original approach. Some of the designs are more out there, woo-woo, and "hippeyesque" than the Omegas would be comfortable with. But so many of the more recent ones include the comforts of modern homes in designs that have less of the woo-woo. We wouldn't want our home to Make A Statement--we want it to be comfy. This last weekend, we toured Arcosanti, a grand (though extremely slow!) experiment in arcology design. (I will devote a separate post to that--pics are on our old computer, and we haven't transferred them over yet.) And it re-sparked our yearnings for an earth ship. Some day...some day. This is our daydream. Categories: [This 'n That] [Mr. OmegaMom]
posted by Kate @ 12/15/2005 10:25:00 AM   0 comments

One Hundred and Two
Marguerite was born in Arizona in December, 1903. Teddy Roosevelt was president of the United States. The day she was born would later be immortalized as "the day which will live in infamy"--Pearl Harbor Day, an event which served as a cultural marker for her generation, in the way that 9/11 and the Challenger explosion were cultural markers for another generation, and the assassination of JFK was for yet a different generation. Her mother met her father as a middle-aged spinster, and they married when she was 40. They promptly had four children (Josephine, Marguerite, Ione, and Edward--who should properly have been named Etienne or Edouard to fit the mold) and one stillborn child. They lived on a farm with orange trees and a variety of vegetables and fruits. Milk was delivered to their home by horse and cart. The milkman was courting one of her teachers, and would drive on his rounds with the teacher up beside him; Marguerite remembers drawing a chalk portrait of the milkman and his horse on the wall of their house. When the Flu Epidemic came around, their father pulled the children from school, hired a teacher, and had them schooled at home to protect them. Marguerite recalls Thanksgiving dinners that were picnics in the Riverside mountains. She and her siblings entertained themselves with plays and performances, written by Marguerite; our family has pictures from when they were in their mid-teens, clowning around, brother Edward "playing" a violin with a saw. She moved to Phoenix in her early 20s, and started teaching at a business school. And then she met Norvin--who preferred to be called "Bill". We have a picture of Bill from when he was about 19, and he looks astonishingly like Lyle Lovett. They fell in love. They married; Marguerite made her own wedding dress, which was blue. They quickly had a daughter, and, a year later, a son. The 30s were tough...so when Bill passed the Civil Service examination, and got an assignment to Jacksonville, FL, making $3000 per year, they were ecstatic. (Many years later, Bill performed IRS audits on Ernest Hemingway on a yearly basis.) Life went swirling on...the children grew up, and, as children tend to do, became independent thinkers, wanting to be out on their own, doing their own thing. They married...they had children of their own. Marguerite volunteered at the local hospital...joined the garden club...won a variety of accolades for ingenious and charming decorations and poetry. Her three granddaughters spent every summer with her, learning stick dancing, having fake "initiations" in the middle of the night, listening to her stories of the mischief she and her sisters got into as youngsters. They moved to Sun City, Arizona, in the early 1970s. They both had relatives who had moved there, and Bill wanted Marguerite to be close to them. A year later, he died. Marguerite lived in Sun City for 30 years. She continued on, as she made new friends, then watched them get ill and die, over and over again. She kept bowling, and told her daughter that she would move into her daughter's town when she could no longer bowl or drive. A few years ago, she gave up her car. Then she decided she couldn't bowl any more. (She was 98 at this time.) She moved up into the mountains to be near her daughter, and there she lives today. She is an amazing woman. She has seen the U.S. go from horse-drawn carriage to supersonic jets and airline shuttles. She has lived through four named wars (World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War) and a wide variety of military incidents. Her life encompasses communicating by telegraph, telephone, and computer. The world has changed a lot in the past 102 years.
We had Grandma's 102nd birthday party this weekend. It was a small but pleasant affair. Various friends from her assisted living home joined in; relatives drove down the mountain to be there; the foodservice folks made her a delicious carrot cake and provided cookies, punch, and munchies; people brought presents and balloons. Sadly, OmegaMom and family don't think Marguerite will last another full year. For a while, we would joke that she would outlive us all, or at least live to 110. Now...well, this lady with the sharp-as-a-tack mind is losing her short-term memory at an amazing pace. And she's tired and bored, and her eyesight is failing quickly. So I just wanted to introduce you to her and tell you her story. Marguerite: Image hosted by Photobucket.com Some party attendees: Image hosted by Photobucket.com OmegaDotter and her GreatGrandmother: Image hosted by Photobucket.com Omegamom enjoying balloons: Image hosted by Photobucket.com Categories: [Family] [Photo Posts]
posted by Kate @ 12/13/2005 02:52:00 PM   6 comments

Idea Man
This weekend, dinner with OmegaGranny featured a conversation that was somewhat surreal. The town fathers of the town where OmegaGranny lives have a grand tradition of local musicians being invited to busk inside some of the stores on the courthouse square. She had spent an afternoon/evening bopping in and out of stores on the square and listening to music, and enjoyed it greatly. All well & good. Then OmegaGranny informs us that Georgene is performing on the square, too. Then she says, "Interestingly enough, Georgene performs at the Thomas Kincaid gallery..." OmegaDad and I just bugged our eyes out, thinking we had heard incorrectly. Of all the people we can't imagine even wanting to be in a Thomas Kincaid gallery, let alone perform in one, Georgene heads the list. She is a fascinating lady--intelligent, a published writer, exquisite taste, fun to be with, interested in a wide variety of things. The idea that she would subject herself to a Thomas Kincaid gallery...I am still shaking my head over this concept. So later in the evening, OmegaDad announced: "I have an idea. We need to open a new store on the square. We'll call it Thomas GetsLaid Galleries. I think it should feature tasteful gay and lesbian erotica. Don't you think the town fathers would like that??" Well, no, we didn't. But we had to snicker. "It should have pieces of art like the Penis DeMilo..." We were all silent for a few moments, imagining the uproar in OmegaGranny's nice town. OmegaDad hasn't forgiven the town for shaving off hilltops and ripping out native vegetation in the name of development; but when they ran off the one and only strip joint in town, he decided the town had lost its character entirely. I could see him opening this gallery just to spite the town fathers.
One of the major parts of OmegaDad's job is making maps. Each of these maps has a legal disclaimer at the bottom ("This Federal Agency is an equal opportunity employer, yadda, yadda, yadda..."). OmegaDad was making maps for J., one of his coworkers. He got kind of bored. He added a little something to the legalese. A few hours later, J. comes into his office and gives him the hairy eyeball. "'Be nice to nematodes'?" asks J. "They need all the help they can get!" explains OmegaDad. "Out it comes!" quoth J. "See! What have you got against nematodes??" asks OmegaDad. I think we need to do a CafePress T-shirt.
Last night, OmegaDad made his very yummy homemade macaroni. This is based on a recipe from Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, in their The New Basics cookbook. OmegaDad has toned down their recipe somewhat--the girls, as we call them, have never met a recipe with too much butter or cream. Never. So, to keep our arteries from slamming shut prematurely, OmegaDad removes half the butter from their recipes. Or more. Anyway. The mac & cheese was yummy. OmegaDotter ate everything! (I am still amazed. This child has become the eat-like-a-bird champeen.) I had seconds. Yum. As OmegaDad and I were snuggling into bed, I said, "I love your..." He sleepily replied, "I love you, too." "...macaroni and cheese." There was a silence. Then he said, "Well, it loves you, too! In fact, maybe I should trade with the mac and cheese? Let it snuggle down with you?" "That would be kind of messy, I'd think," I replied. We snickered, snuggled up, and went to sleep. Mr. Idea Man--I think I'll keep him. He makes me laugh. Categories: [Mr. OmegaMom] [This 'n That]
posted by Kate @ 12/12/2005 09:27:00 AM   1 comments

Bloggin' ho'
OmegaMom has discovered the seductive, addictive pull of personal blog tracking. It started innocently enough. Someone on one of the blogs OmegaMom visits mentioned that she had a site meter. OmegaMom asked what it was...the blogger replied "SiteMeter". OmegaMom promptly typed it into the address bar and read up on free blog tracking. ("Pssst. Over here, little lady! C'mon. Wanna blog tracker? Aw, sweetie, it's just for fun, no problems, it won't lead to any hard stuff.") So the blog has been metered for three weeks. The first week, OmegaMom would sign in now & then, see how many hits the blog had gotten. It was kind of depressing, actually. A hit here, a hit there. Good ol' internet buds who stopped by. Then OmegaMom added a Java calendar for people to click for archives...and realized that it had been an entire month since she had written anything. The site meter has become a menace in OmegaMom's life. Click! Log in! Who's visited lately?! Hmmm...I need to write a new post! Generate some clicks! ("Heh. Back again so soon? C'mere, lemme give you a little taste. FastQ, Comcast.com, rr.com. Just a little, now!") So OmegaMom ADVERTISED. A post filled with pictures of the OmegaDotter doing cute things! She mentioned it to some friends on some boards and lists she participates in. Surely that would pull in some people! Whoa! One hundred hits! Man, oh, man! ("Whoa, little lady! Getting into it kind of hot and heavy, aren't you? Y'know, you may need some stronger stuff than I can provide...advertising already, hmmm?") The synergy was building. Like all those damned articles say, if you want to generate hits, you need to post regularly. Sure enough, OM has been posting regularly, and people are coming back regularly. It's addictive. I need my fix. It's sad when you let your life be ruled by ephemera like a list of clicks... (Hi, Mom!) It's gotten so bad that this morning, when OmegaMom wandered by the IT department and stopped in to visit old friends, she just had to mention her blog... Bloggers Anonymous?? Categories: [Bloggy Stuff]
posted by Kate @ 12/09/2005 07:16:00 PM   2 comments

Three years ago today
We were in Nanning, China. We had been up for 36 hours straight, flying from Big City to LA, then to Guangzhou, then to Nanning. We had been given a couple of hours at the hotel to "rest". Har. Like we could rest. They loaded us onto a bus and drove us to a government office. We waited in a big room decorated in red and gold, with a dais, podium, flags. We heard them coming. Babies crying, crying, crying. The nannies came into the room one at a time, each carrying a baby. OmegaDad and I looked at each baby, asking each other, "Is that her? Is that her?" Finally, a nanny walked into the room carrying a baby that we recognized instantly. I gasped. OmegaDad gasped. "That's her!" we said simultaneously. She wasn't crying. She was solemnly looking around, eyeing everyone, trying to figure things out. They called our names. We walked forward. The nanny put her into my arms. Image hosted by Photobucket.com We went back to our hotel room in shock. OmegaDad was enchanted, enthralled. Image hosted by Photobucket.com I tried dressing her. As a first-time mommy, it was pretty hilarious--I didn't know what I was doing; she didn't know what I was doing...But we got it done one way or another. Image hosted by Photobucket.com Image hosted by Photobucket.com We have so many pictures from the first six months home of her with that same shellshocked look. Oh, she'd laugh and giggle and play...but looking back, we can see that she was scared out of her wits a lot of the time. Who are these people? What's going on? Am I going to be yanked away from here any minute, just as I get used to it? But as our fourth (FOURTH!) year together starts, I can freely say, she's happy, healthy, smart, funny, beautiful...and it's only in the dead of night that she goes back to that scared to death little girl, and it seems to be happening less and less. Categories: [Our Adoption] [Family] [Photo Posts] [Adoption Issues]
posted by Kate @ 12/08/2005 01:00:00 PM   4 comments

Deus ex Machina
Sooo... My Place Of Business is moving away from regular FTP to secure FTP. The ITS department replaced the good ol' FTP program with something called "Secure FTP" (wow! What a creative name!). For months, I have been trying to log into my unix space using that program, being unable to, and saying "Screw it--I have better things to do with my time!", and using Dreamweaver or the Telnet program instead. Today, needing to fiddle around with uploading and downloading some files for one of the folks in my department, I took the bull by the horns and called the ITS help desk. Lovely folks there. Really! I used to work there. I would work there again in a heartbeat if they had a place. But there were layoffs a few years ago, and I got axed, then found a job as an admin assistant so I could keep accruing those nice retirement bennies, then, after a year at the admin assistant position, said to myself that they had gotten their money's worth out of me, and began looking for another computer position. Which I now have. Thank heavens. I am a computer person. I know computers. I love programming. I play around with websites and java and VB and css. I'm good at working with people, so this department (200+ people) is a good fit for me. I am not good with accounting or odd regulatory requirements as to where you buy from or what forms to fill out or whether you can use state funds for purchasing, say, lunch for the team at the end of the semester to thank everyone...so being an admin assistant was super stressful for me. Oh! Sorry! I digress! Anyway, I called the help desk. Jean answered. I explained my problem. She said it always worked on her system. (This is a standard answer from help desks. It also, amazingly enough, is usually true, because Help Desk folks have got their computers tuned and cleaned and scrubbed of weird and wonderful viruses or spyware.) She deleted her stored FTP session. She re-ran the program and typed everything in by hand, as I was typing everything in by hand on my end. It worked on her system. It didn't work on mine. We ran through every option in the SecureFTP program, and mine were set just like hers. She finally tried to log in as me on her computer, rather than using her username. Whammo-blammo, just like magic, her SecureFTP didn't work. We puzzled it about. We tossed up ideas at each other. She IM'd her teammates. Lots of good suggestions, none of which applied to me. And then one of them messaged something about "does she have the menu turned on on ServerName?" Yes. Telnet into ServerName. Turn the menu off. Okay. All of a sudden, now my SecureFTP connection works. WTF? Please. I know that help desk folks are known for knowing odd and esoteric solutions to computer problems that no-one would ever think of trying. But this was so odd and so esoteric that even the help desk folks didn't know it! Why on earth would that menu thing interfere with the secure FTP, when it didn't make a bit of difference with the normal FTP? Color me puzzled. Color you bored. I'll talk about something more widely entertaining next time! Categories: [Computers] [Work]
posted by Kate @ 12/07/2005 12:36:00 PM   3 comments

Starry, starry night
Image hosted by Photobucket.com The night sky where the Omegas live is awesome. Perhaps 80% of the time, you can see the Milky Way. The constellations pop in a way that citydwellers could never imagine. As a child, OmegaMom lived in Chicago. A wonderful city, lively, interesting, full of parks, beaches, places for children to play and explore nature, science, art. Damned fine shopping, too. But the stars there are...well...pathetic is the word that springs to mind. Oh, you can see the Big Dipper and Little Dipper, a few more constellations. But the Milky Way?? Fat chance. OmegaMom has a vivid memory of one childhood camping trip to the Indiana Dunes. This was way before today's rather strict control of who camps where, when and how; OmegaMom's very Bohemian/Beatnik parents and their buddies simply drove as close as they could to the beach, marched on down close to the water, built a huge bonfire, and set up sleeping bags (Tents? Were there tents? Memory is cloudy on this point.). Ray Watkins got out his guitar, OmegaGranpa got out his banjo, marshmallows were toasted, the fire roared into the sky with sparks dancing in the breeze. When OmegaMom turned her eyes away from the dazzling bonfire, and looked out over the lake, her back to the light, and let her eyes adjust...stars started peeking out. More and more of them. And still more. As her eyes totally adjusted, to her awe she saw a path of stars arching across the sky. The Milky Way. It was stunning. It was something she had read about, heard about, but never seen. Glorious. Exciting. She laid on her back in the sand, listening to the music and the singing and the roar of the bonfire and the sound of the waves lapping on the beach, and stared up into the sky, amazed. Nowadays, OmegaMom and OmegaDad can drive home from work in the twilight, and, if it's late enough, and dark enough, when we open the car doors and stumble out onto the concrete landing pad...we merely have to glance upward and we are slammed with stars. The Milky Way leaps forth immeidately, with no need to wait for our eyes to acclimatize and adjust. It's just there, beauteous to behold. We can step onto the back deck in the middle of a moonless night, and see how the Milky Way has moved across the sky from where it was when we got home. And on those nights when the Perseids or Geminids or Orionids are putting on a show, we can haul our sleeping bags out on the deck or into the yard, stare up at the sky, and begin counting meteors. (The meteor storm of a few years ago was the best--we set our alarms for 3 a.m., staggered out of bed, and OmegaMom peered sleepily out the windows in the back door to see if it was really going to be good or not...through the windows, she saw a fireball streak across the sky. 'Nuff said: we hauled ass out into the cold darkness and watched for an hour, jaws dropping. That was a spectacular show.) While there are things that OmegaMom and OmegaDad miss about the city, we wouldn't give up our nightly sky show for the world. Categories: [This 'n That]
posted by Kate @ 12/06/2005 11:39:00 AM   0 comments

How to make sugar cookies
So OmegaDad thought it would be fun to make sugar cookies as a family project. Step one was mom creaming butter and sugar. (I'm old-fashioned. If you're gonna cream butter and sugar, you gotta do it by hand.) Image hosted by Photobucket.com Steps two and three were flour, baking powder, salt...hands... Image hosted by Photobucket.com Image hosted by Photobucket.com Image hosted by Photobucket.com Step four was mixing the wets with the dries (we left out the part where OmegaDad was completing the wet mix): Image hosted by Photobucket.com This required a bit of clowning around--OmegaDotter decided to "get" OmegaDad, then giggled with glee. Image hosted by Photobucket.com Image hosted by Photobucket.com Forming the dough into balls: Image hosted by Photobucket.com Image hosted by Photobucket.com OmegaDotter got her first whack at a rolling pin. Image hosted by Photobucket.com Cutting out cookies. Image hosted by Photobucket.com OmegaDad made OmegaDotter a few special horsie cookies: Image hosted by Photobucket.com OmegaMom demonstrates how to ice the cookies, then it was OmegaDotter's turn. Image hosted by Photobucket.com Image hosted by Photobucket.com How many sprinkles can an almost-four-year-old put onto a sugar cookie? A lot. Image hosted by Photobucket.com OmegaDad's special horsie cookie in all it's glory: Image hosted by Photobucket.com Christmas cookies in a variety of not-very-Christmassy colors: Image hosted by Photobucket.com The artistes at work: Image hosted by Photobucket.com Image hosted by Photobucket.com The finale--what a mess!!! Thank goodness for wax paper! Image hosted by Photobucket.com Categories: [Family] [Cuteness] [Photo Posts]
posted by Kate @ 12/04/2005 09:42:00 PM   3 comments

Sster at Boomerific posted (quite a while ago, alas, and I am just now getting to it): "...how about a post in the next day or so about what brought you to adoption and what ethical/moral/political/personal battles you have had to wage surrounding that decision? I'm looking for something more than "I wanted a baby," because we all want babies (see, I'm a little selfish too. just a little. you know.). Everybody's story is so different and interesting." This is all in the midst of a discussion of "baby shortages" and altruism versus selfishness involved in the process of adopting. Then, this week, the topic on Adoption Parenting included a similar question. What brought the Omegas to adopting? Well, we started out the usual way: when we got together and knew it was going to be permanent, and looked at my age (34), we said, "Whoops! Time to get started on that family thing!" Unlike the majority of adults, sex just didn't seem to do it. We went off to get tested. OmegaDad was found to have three sperm, one of which wasn't bad...(not literally, but that's OD's joke). We waited until we had $$ for IVF with ICSI. That's when we found out that OmegaMom's eggs were fried--we got one lone little embryo. Got pregnant for three weeks. Tried again. Got cancelled. The eggs were really fried. OmegaDad, who had had three years to ponder the "what if it doesn't work?" and "OMG, my body is dysfunctional!" issues, immediately promoted adoption. OmegaMom, who was stunned to find out that she had the eggs of a 48-year-old at the ripe old age of 38, went through the requisite angst for about a year, during which she seethed with envy at pregnant women, hated baby showers, cried a lot, and turned into a shrew. During that year, at OmegaDad's prompting, we trotted off to the local domestic adoption agency, where we hit a snag. Turns out that LDAA, being bound to a conservative religious organization, wanted us to be married three years. We had only been married one. Whoops! In retrospect, it was a Good Thing. This gave OmegaMom a chance to work through lots of issues and research the adoption world. I started out on the Adoption Debate board on iVillage (I'm not linking to it because I'm still peeved that they changed the format to one where you have to click through zillions of ads to see the posts--besides, the format killed the board pretty dead, and I haven't been back there in ages). I met and talked with birthmothers, adult adoptees, adoptive parents who had adopted from a variety of systems--domestic private, domestic via the state, international, family, etc. It was a learning experience. I distinctly remember one Sunday afternoon emerging from the office to sob on the sofa, telling my husband that the birthmothers all hated me and it was horrible and I was never going back there, blah, blah, blah. Of course, I went back there. I learned a lot about the Bad Old Days of domestic private adoption, where young unwed mothers were forced by their families and adoption agencies to relinquish their childen, even though they didn't want to. Of being in labor with unsympathetic nurses who essentially told them they were Bad Girls and Deserved What They Got. Think this is all gone? A relic of the time when appearances mattered? I know of a case where the teen birthmother was shipped out of town to give birth--without support of friends or family--and her baby was handed over toot sweet to the adoptive parents, because the birthgrandparents didn't want the neighbors to know. This was in 2001. I read stories of people adopting from the state. Some had to wait years. Some went the foster-to-adopt route, had a child placed with them, only to have the child removed because the birthparents had finally gotten their shit together or because (for some unknown reason) the social workers decided the child needed a different foster family. I read stories about people adopting from the state who discovered--after the adoption papers were signed--that the files on the child(ren) they adopted had been carefully vetted so that any "issues" were hidden away. Being an optimistic sort, I tend to think this was a case of social workers meaning well, wanting to get children out of the system and into families. I read stories about international adoptions that turned out to have been the result of corruption and baby-brokering. OmegaDad and I discussed things endlessly. We started out thinking of domestic private open adoption--we thought that was most ethical. Then we heard stories of potential birthmoms who felt obligated to relinquish their children after months'-long relationships with potential adoptive parents. One day, we went through a series of scenarios where the birthmother realized, shortly after relinquishment, that she had made a mistake...when would we feel ethically bound to return the child to its first mother? One month? Two? Three? Six? It was a hard discussion. We couldn't bear the thought of having to return a child after having it in the family. But we felt ethically bound to do so. So we looked at international adoption. OmegaDad, being enthralled with Hispanic culture, wanted to adopt from a Latin American country. At the time, there were a number of articles about corruption in the systems--baby selling, mothers being lied to and discovering that their children, supposedly being cared for in orphanages while the parents made their way through a tough financial spot, had been adopted out, stories like that. I looked into international adoption from two countries where babies in orphanages were typically abandoned due to cultural and political issues (things that no one person could make a difference about)--India and China. And, to be crass, these two countries were much less expensive to adopt from than others. And there were all these girl babies. Babies in societies where not having a family was a big societal ding. Girls in societies where--in my cursory examination--it seemed that females were relatively low on the totem pole. Thirdly, I had heard that the mortality rate for babies in these orphanages was very high. So...these two countries satisfied us all around: Healthy babies available. Girls (we had resigned ourselves to boychildren if I ended up preggers, because OmegaDad's family was ALL BOYS for three generations). Societal issues that made it seem that it would be better for the child to be adopted internationally rather than remain in an orphanage. At the time, adopting from India was taking 18 months from start to finish. China was taking less than 12. We wanted a baby now! So we turned to China. What happened? The time from start to finish for China almost immediately lengthened. It took us 9 months to get our dossier completed. It took 14 months for us to get our referral. During this time, I began reading about transracial adoption and conspicuous families. Began reading about subtle racism. Began listening to adult international adoptees. Realized there was more to this whole thing than I had originally thought. But those are topics for another post, because this one is just too darned long. Later, gators. Categories: [Our Adoption] [Adoption Issues]
posted by Kate @ 12/04/2005 10:41:00 AM   9 comments

So the latest is here: Orphanages Involved in Infant Trafficking* Note, waaaay down at the bottom of the article, this: "Some of them were even sold to foreign adopters, said the official, adding that they are now looking into the hometowns and whereabouts of the trafficked infants." So. Does this mean foreign adopters working outside the Chinese system? Or does this mean foreign adopters who used the (naively believed by me) squeaky-clean Chinese adoption system? Dunno. I emailed our agency. True to its word, they responded within 24 hours. In fact, the director of the agency emailed me back almost right away, saying that they are asking their Chinese staff to investigate and clarify, and that he will keep everyone updated as soon as they get more news. Then, of course, he says that, so far as the agency knows, all adoptions are through "reputable" orphanages. The swiftness of the response makes me think that I'm not the first to email/call them! Me = naive. Sigh. I'm beginning to think that the folks who say corruption is inevitable in any form of international adoption (which is usually from poor areas to richer countries) may be more correct than I thought. I changed my link title; I was thinking "Welfare organs" meant charity organizations, but now I think they're talking about the Social Welfare Institutes themselves. Categories: [Hunan Situation] [Adoption Issues]
posted by Kate @ 12/02/2005 07:04:00 PM   2 comments

Just before Thanksgiving, a person posted some links to news stories about orphanages buying and selling babies on the Big List (APC). Baby-selling orphanage in Hunan cracked down Hunan orphanages sells babies, says report Charity workers in Hunan orphanage arrested for selling babies Since then, there have been maybe--maybe--20 posts about this. This, on a list that averages 3000 messages per month. A commenter on Soper's blog says that she was sent a private email asking her to please not talk about the recent stories on the list. Someone posting on Adoption Parenting (an awesome resource for adoptive parents of all stripes, by the way) says that the clippings about this story are definitely going into her daughter's lifebox. Then she asks, somewhat puzzledly, why aren't there more posts about this on the various lists? Well, I'm wondering, too. My POV: I'm worried. The orphanages that bought/sold/traded babies did so with some orphanages in the province OmegaDotter came from. What if...? What if, contrary to our original assumptions, OmegaDotter was stolen from her first parents? What if the story we've been telling her all along is just a pack of lies? There are plenty of adult adoptees who found out that the stories their adoptive parents told as they were growing up were just so much nonsense...adult adoptees who find that, yes, they were stolen from their original families, sold to orphanages, given made up origins, then sent on their way to adoptive families across the world. Naturally, adult adoptees who have this background are angry--at the system, at the corruption, at their adoptive parents. All along, one of the things that drew us to the China adoption program was that it was stable, ethical, the children available for adoption were truly abandoned and truly needed parents. The answers to ethical questions that I saw related to other paths to adoption, particularly international adoption, seemed crystal clear in the case of China. And now, I'm left wondering: what if it's not so? What if this is the tip of the iceberg? These people were selling babies to other orphanages, in other provinces. What were the people at these other orphanages doing, in their turn? How far does this go? Does the soaring demand of Western parents for adoptable infants from China, and the accompanying mandatory donation to the orphanage, inevitably cause corruption of this sort? But not a word--not a peep--do you hear on the big lists. All is quiet. Don't talk about it, don't think about it, maybe it'll just go away, la, la, la, I can't hear you! My personal fear is that this is the beginning of a very large crackdown. Of course, such a crackdown would be good for the system--rout out corruption, clean the system up, make sure that the babies that are available are not the result of kidnappings, baby-buyings. But such a crackdown would probably require a suspension of international adoptions while the CCAA got down to the bottom of things. (Please note: I am not claiming anyone else said this is what is happening. This is not a rumor of what's going on. This is my fear only.) And since OmegaDad and I are thinking of number two, my selfish side wants the whole story to just go away. The other side of me looks at OmegaDotter and hopes and prays that she was not stolen away from her parents from some province far, far away from where we adopted her. I hope to god that she is, indeed, from the province where we adopted her, that, if she wants to try to locate her birthfamily as an adult, that there is, actually, some hope. But, in the meantime, silence. Shhh. Let's not talk about it. Categories: [Hunan Situation] [Adoption Issues]
posted by Kate @ 12/01/2005 11:41:00 AM   2 comments

About Me
Name: OmegaMom
Home: Southwest
About Me: Middle-aged mom of a 4-year-old adopted from China. Love science, debate, good SF and fantasy, hiking, music of almost every style. Lousy housekeeper. "Good enough" mom.
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