A "good enough" mom muses about alpha moms, adoption, computers, the State Of The World, Internet quirkiness, and the Kosmik All
Advertising lost in translation
Naw, this isn't about ads in China or Mexico that simply don't make sense when translated. It's about ads here in the U.S. that simply don't make sense--to OmegaMom, at least. OmegaMom was going to illustrate this article with the particular ads in question, but as is life, as soon as she determined to write on this subject, the ads in question vanished from the face of the internet. Ain't that the way? (Update: OmegaMom, memory prompted by the following paragraph, did a new search and discovered the pics in question, woohoo!)

The specific ads were for a Hoodia patch. What the hell is that?!?! you ask. It's some kind of weight loss thing, extracted from the AMAZING!!! rare South African cactus Hoodia Gordonii...suppresses your appetite!!! Curbs your cravings!!! "A magic plant with a miracle ingredient!"!!!

No doubt, the theory behind these photos is that overweight female person sees these photos and says to herself, "Wow! It worked for them! Lookit how nice and slender they are (and tanned, too!)...I must try it, so that I can look like them!" For OmegaMom, it doesn't work that way. I look at these pics and my immediate response is..."It didn't work for them! Even those skinny minnies have to use this patch! I ain't gonna touch it with a 10-foot pole!" OmegaMom just bopped onto Bally Fitness's website, expecting to be able to grab a few more photos and make gratuitous commentary about advertising for the fitness industry being the same way. Typically, fitness industry advertising features tanned and toned bodies that make OmegaMom want to grit her teeth because it makes it seem that if you go into their facilities, you will be surrounded by these toned fitness automatons. Not my preferred method of exercising, I can tell you; it makes me feel inadequate just looking at those photos. Imagine my surprise when the Bally Fitness website did not feature the typical dark background with oiled toned body highlighted (with no head). It seems that Bally has Heard The Call of The Masses! Their current theme seems to be cribbed direct from Dove--ordinary folk trying to tone up. The tagline is "Meet Your Potential", with pics of everyday people, and a further tag of "They have goals--just like you. And now they're achieving them." I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you! What's happened to the advertising industry that they're allowing such appeal-to-the-ordinary-folk themes slip past the cracks?! Don't they know that the slick skinny toned body is The Way To Go?? Now I can't complain about how the ads for Bally make me more morose, because if the slick skinny toned body people have to go to Bally to stay that way, there's no hope for lazy schlubs like me. Now I have "Meet Your Potential". How the heck can I complain about that?? Damn them. They've ruined the whole flow of my post. I wonder if I can sue?
Quick note: Seems that Ji-In moved her blog for other reasons than the hordes of grumpy adoptive parents. However, I still feel the onslaught of self-justification and put-downs that she was receiving had something to do with it.
posted by Kate @ 3/31/2006 07:00:00 AM   2 comments

Way to go, folks. An adult Korean adoptee dares to voice her opinion on her own blog about some things that adoptive parents say, and how they key into her experiences, thoughts, and emotions about international adoption... And y'all go and hound her with nasty comments and nasty private emails to the point where she feels she has to move her blog and make it invitation only. WAY to go. What, are you Republicans or something?? (←This is a joke, folks. Sort of.) For more info, check out Amber's post. And please, please, please do not dismiss or denigrate adult adoptees who write about the aspects of international adoption that bother them by calling them "angry" or "maladjusted" or "poorly parented" or anything of the sort. Don't label their entire lives by one aspect. For instance, I am angry about this whole meshugginah mess, about the mish-mosh that NCLB, hand-in-hand with certain aspects of educational pedagogy, has made of our schools, about the way our civil rights are eroding under the current administration, about the fact that perfectly happy, ordinary families who happen to be gay are being forced out of areas they've lived in for a long time. Pray tell, does this make me "maladjusted"? Does this mean OmegaGranny and OmegaGramps raised me poorly? Gah. Gimme a break, people. Voices of adult adoptees are important to those of us who have adopted from China, Vietnam, Russia, Ethiopia, Korea. Because, even though some of you dismiss those voices as "angry", you'd darned well better listen to their experiences. Because, one day, your "precious" (don't get me started on APCer's latest evidence of humor-impairment) children may be feeling very similar things, asking very similar questions. And you will get all bent out of shape when adoptive parents of that time decide to call your child "angry" and "maladjusted" and "poorly parented". Goddman, it's noogie time!
posted by Kate @ 3/29/2006 04:38:00 PM   7 comments

Currying favor
Mr. OmegaMom has a flaw. (Gasp! Say it isn't so!) He cannot handle spicy foods at all, sigh. I adore a good chili...a nice, hot kung pao chicken (I make a darned good one, if I do say so myself)...curried chicken on rice, with a goodly variety of condiments on hand...samosas with mint sauce, ahhhh. Alas, all these things attack poor Mr. OmegaMom's tummy violently. It isn't just hot-spicy that does him, but also just "different" spicy. So, over the years, he has learned to avoid these foods. (I get indigestion, as well, but only minor, and it is so worth it!) So I get my Thai or Indian food fix by going out with the Society of Geeky Gals at lunchtime now and then, or sneak OmegaDotter off to a good Mexican restaurant for dinner whilst Mr. OmegaMom is off at one of his night courses getting edumacated. I've been lusting for curry lately. At lunchtime, I was hauled out of training by one of the gals in the administrative area of my department--our document imaging system was being cantankerous and not allowing anyone to log in. While I was fixing various logins and lecturing folks about The Proper Use of Logging Out And How It Cleans Up Connections To Databases (thus helping avoid the dreaded "You have exceeded the number of allowable connections blah, blah, blah" message), the scent of curried lentils being munched on by one of the staff wafted past my nostrils. As tonight was a getting edumacated night for Mr. OmegaMom, I promptly vowed to indulge my lusts at dinnertime. Home we came. Dishes got washed. I hauled out the curry powder, the chili powder, the chicken, the potatoes, the (light) coconut milk, the raisins, the shredded coconut, and proceeded to whip up a truly yummy curry. Not hot, but oh-so-good. OmegaDotter, of course, wanted nothing of it. She subsisted on plain rice with butter, a peapod or two, and some raw carrots. Some day...
Mr. OmegaMom, in his guise as SuperDad! arrived home in time to keep the dotter up an hour past her bedtime. Luckily, though, he didn't reveal to her his catch of the day: the latest issue of "Young Rider", "The Magazine For Horse and Pony Lovers". Featured stories: "You Can Adopt A MUSTANG!"; "the Inside SCOOP on Riding Camp Horses"; "TRUE STORY: 'I Went to a Martha Josey Barrel Racing Clinic!'" (who dat?); "How to Ride a New Horse For the First Time". Bonus bonanza! →HUGE Color Posters!←
Not everything is horsies in OmegaDotter's world. Lately, she has taken to singing and dancing some sets from various favorite movies. One is Doll on a Music Box from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which she performs with adorably jerky doll motions, just like the version in the movie (the link goes to a clip from the Broadway production). The other favorite is Part of That World, from the Little Mermaid. I get serenaded with this every few nights at bedtime by a very earnest little girl in a kitty-cat nightgown who has every gesture, every pause, down pat. "I want to see them dancing...walking around on those--what do you call them? Oh! Feet!" Ah, me. She's my little Drama Queen.
posted by Kate @ 3/29/2006 01:07:00 AM   3 comments

The "strong woman" in science fiction
When OmegaMom was a child, OmegaGranny was always searching out intriguing books for her to read in the local secondhand shops. As a result, OmegaMom has an interesting collection of kids' books from the turn of the century (that would be the previous century, folks), beautifully illustrated fairy tales and stories of adventure and intrigue. Unbeknownst to me, one of OmegaGranny's criteria was strong women in fiction. One area where she located some was science fiction. One day, when OmegaMom was almost nine years old, OmegaGranny handed her an issue of Astounding Science Fiction with an interesting dinosaury-looking winged thing on the cover, and said, "Read it." It was sort of a command. Being a dutiful dotter, I complied. The story was called "Dragonrider", by a woman named Anne McCaffrey. It started quickly, slammed you into the story, and swept you up. And it had wicked cool illustrations. OmegaMom was hooked on science fiction and fantasy from that day on. (My bank account damns you, OmegaGranny!) In later discussions with OmegaGranny, she told me that she gave it to me because she was so glad to come across a story with a woman hero. Not a "heroine", a "hero". Someone strong. Someone who was intelligent. Someone who made her own destiny. She pushed that and other science fiction stories on me to show me that women could hold their own in a man's world, both in being authors and in being the main character of exciting, interesting novels. At some point in the early '90s, seeking refuge from days and weeks and months of immersion in mathematics and computer science, I discovered a subset of science fiction that I term the "Female Warrior Archetype". It's sort of a cross between what OmegaBrother dubs "Tank Books" (Tom Clancey's books fit this description), science fiction, and romantic fairy tale. A "Tank Book" contains lots of page-long descriptions of military machinery, battles, strong men, and politics. The FMA style of SF contains a space-age version of same. The first batch I read were by Elizabeth Moon; the "Deed of Paksenarrion" books were fantasy, but then she did a series focusing on a female starship captain cashiered from the starfleet service due to Evil Machinations of Corrupt Powerful Noblemen Striving To Bring About the Downfall of the Righteous, the Heris Serrano series. I gobbled them up. Then I discovered Honor Harrington. Once again, we have a female military person in the far future dealing with the Evil Machinations of Corrupt Powerful Politicians Striving to Bring About the Downfall of the Righteous. I gobbled them up. Lately, I have come across the Kris Longknife books. Once again, we have a female starfleet officer dealing with the Evil Machinations etc. Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Typically, these female military types are offspring of nobility...or the daughter of millionaires...or a cousin of the emperor. That's the romantic fairy tale part; it would be nice to have one of these Archetypal Female Warriors be, say, from a totally uninspiring bourgeois family from the suburbs of the big town on a small world, y'know? After reading all of these series (I think that David Weber's Honor Harrington was the first), while I'm glad to see the Strong Woman Saving the Day, I think it tends to perpetuate the myth that a Strong Woman has to have connections to be a success. Frankly, my eyes tend to glaze over when the various authors get into the battle scenes. It's the politics behind the battles that really intrigues me. In the Heris Serrano/Esmay Suiza/Kylara Vatta universe, the driving force behind all the intrigue is the impact of longevity drugs on society, and how a certain faction of the established powers that be are trying to consolidate their power before the younger generation realizes just how much the longevity drugs will affect what is seen as "youth" versus "maturity". In the Honor Harrington novels, we have two threads: the conflict between the UK-like Republic of Manticore versus the entrenched welfare state of Haven, plus the impact of the realization that treecats are actually sapient beings. Alas, I cannot remember the political backstory of the Kris Longknife novels; I think I have become jaded by the Woman Warrior genre. Take all this with a grain of salt: I am the person to whom the shenanigans in Babylon V and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and novels by writers such as C.J. Cherryh and Dawn Friedman are aimed. Gimme murky plotting and cynical manipulations, with a dollop of aliens (or a big lump of aliens) and some battles, and I'm a happy camper. (A post that didn't mention horses. I could have, as the Heris Serrano novels have a great deal of horsiness about them. But I wanted a break.)
posted by Kate @ 3/27/2006 06:36:00 PM   6 comments

"I've been searchin' for a blog like you..."
OmegaMom is in training all week, so this is a cop-out post. Everyone who blogs at one time or another will do a post about what search strings people have used to hit their blog. OmegaMom gets hits almost daily on "How to make sugar cookies"; the post that causes this is bookmarked on the right, and is one of my favorites, go look at it and get some warm fuzzies. "Mom @ss daily thumb"...? What the heck is this person looking for? I guess it's in a league with "n*ked mom home in bed" or other such search terms that have a certain sexual connotation to them. Some of the searches leave me feeling a little bit ew-icky; I get quite a few hits of that type because I link to Karen at N@ked Ovary. I'll bet Karen is sick of searches like that. "Definition of efficient entrepreneur". Wow. They found that here?! Excuse me while I go dig through my archives to see if some amazing business administration/hacker type has hijacked my username and password to post that long-sought definition... And, of course, lots of adoption hits recently, of one type or another. Whoops! Gotta go! Lunch break is almost over!
posted by Kate @ 3/27/2006 12:16:00 PM   0 comments

Once again, the colors are way off. This is how the horsies stand (or gallop) right now, from left to right, with color swatches beneath:
(Note the "paint", as requested.) On this one, the colors seem correct.

Johnny asks if there is talk about Real Live Horses. Well, yes. This obsession of the dotter's has been extant now for two years, so it doesn't look like it's going to vanish in the wind. Willies (killer whales) come and go, puppies come and go, but horses are a constant. OmegaDad has told OmegaDotter that she can have a horse when she's 12 or thereabouts. In the meantime, he came up with this idea. Goats. The idea is to buy a couple of goats and start breeding them and selling them, plowing the money into a savings account for...of course...a horse. Goats. Now, admittedly, goats can provide milk. And goat cheese, without which many of my favorite salads would be lost. And, of course, gotta have goat cheese (aka feta) for that culinary delight called spanikopita. Yum. But. Goats?? I'd rather have sheep. Or an alpaca or two. (Of course, alpacas are horrendously pricey, but they're so damned cute. And they would quell Mr. OmegaMom's long-standing desire for a llama. And we could sell the shearings. From either sheep or alpacas.) But, goats?? Picture OmegaMom with a very skeptical look on her face. OmegaMom would like to have chickens. All of this is contingent upon the question of Land. Hereabouts, land is expensive. Elsewhere (like, say, that blip on the map called Bemidji), land is much less expensive. We shall see. I still cherish hope that OmegaDotter's obsession will fade with time, and she will become obsessed with something cheap, like ice skating, or dancing, or patchwork quilting.
posted by Kate @ 3/26/2006 07:56:00 PM   3 comments

Dough. Mess. Ticity.
Mr. OmegaMom is on a sauce-making rampage this weekend. He hauled out his Martin Yan "Chinese Cooking for Dummies" cookbook, made a list, checked it twice, then spent all day today with OmegaDotter, cooking dipping sauce, mustard sauce, teriyaki sauce, chili oil, master sauce, and black bean sauce. So we now have a lifetime's supply of sauces.

OmegaMom spent the morning doing (what else?) horsies. First, there was the small floppy magnet-footed stuffed horsie that OmegaDotter kept requesting new accoutrements for. There's the orange pipecleaner bridle and reins. The bright blue stirrups. The purple saddle. The white and pink legwarmers. Legwarmers?? Hey, don't ask me. I am not the horsie person here. Anyway, the picture is of a horse, though it bears a striking resemblance to a squirrel. In addition, we brought out the acrylic paints and spent many hours painting stenciled horsies in a rainbow of colors. Pictures forthcoming later.
The Omegas went to the 100-day party for the son of our new neighbors. S. is in one of OmegaDad's sustainable living courses. The advantage of living in Hippy Dippy Forest Enclave is that the people who live here tend to be interesting. S. and J. and all their friends sport various tattoos and piercings, and are into vegetarian cuisine. OmegaMom stuffed herself on dolmas with curried rice and raisins, tabouleh, non-wheat spaghetti with the most awesome spaghetti sauce, and vegetarian chocolate cupcakes to die for, and now has a goal of gathering the recipes for each yummy goodie. The 100-day ceremony was non-standard as well. We managed to get a book, a pen, a toy piano on the cloth, but then folks just started contributing items. When T. reached for and grabbed the maraca, after much discussion, it was decided that T.'s future includes musicianship, specifically, either a career in a mariachi band or as a rock drummer.
posted by Kate @ 3/26/2006 06:09:00 PM   2 comments

Math again
OmegaDotter is asleep in bed with horsies and doggies. OmegaDad has finished playing TradeWinds and is also ensconced in bed. The Dawg is outside barking at the moon and skunks and other wildlife. It's not too late, and now it's time for me to set fingers to keyboard and attempt the math thang once more. Like I said, math just wasn't "it" for me. I hated it. Compared to my dad--whom I regarded with something akin to awe, and who ate differential equations for breakfast--I just couldn't figure the stuff out. And even way back then, in Them Olden Dayes, we had "new math", which didn't help...set theory, oh, yes, but fractions? Hmmm. At the beginning of the year in seventh grade, our teacher began teaching us some stuff that was supposed to be pre-algebra. She struggled. We struggled. One day, about 4 or so months into the school year, our frustrated teacher came in and gave us a test on fractions. Then, she sat down with us and asked us about fractions. It came out that none of us had a clue of what to do with fractions. She immediately tossed out the curriculum and spent the rest of the year teaching us...fractions and percents. It was horrid. Boring. Irritating. Looking back, though, I am so glad she did it. It still didn't make me like math. Ew, yuck, bleah. My dad took solace in my constant scribblings--short stories styled a la Conan Doyle; a carefully composed one-page newspaper, using press-on lettering and pasted-on typewritten columns (Ye Olden Dayes, remember!), artfully aged in the oven after being sprayed with lemon-water so it browned nicely, describing the attack on Fort Sumter; a paper decorated with a cartoon of Genghis Khan sitting behind an executive's desk, claiming that his conquering success was because he was the Henry Ford of decision-making. As I said, in my first dilletant year in college, I avoided mathematics entirely by taking a programming class (Fortran WatIV). None of it made sense to me. It was all drudgery. Then, at the age of 32, I returned to college (again), with A Plan. If I could successfully pass trigonometry and a semester of calculus, I would get a degree in computer science. If not, I would go into international relations or graphic design. I lucked out. I got a professor who was in love with math. Not only that, but she could explain it. Suddenly, all that stuff that was drudgery and confusion became clear and beautiful. Yes. Beautiful. Intriguing. Enthralling. Those years of drudgery and practice and foundations paid off, because the scut-work was easy. As a result of Carla's classes, I ended up getting a minor in mathematics, after all those years of hatred. I soaked in Numeric Analysis. I reveled in Graph Theory (very hard, by the way, but extremely pretty). I slogged through Matrix Algebra (eh). I stayed up until all hours of the night, scribbling proofs and equations in my notebooks. And if I hit a particularly thorny problem, my dreams took over, and I would wake up in the morning with The Answer. Because of all that, I got comfy with my math professors and the scientific theories behind computer science, enough so that I applied for that internship at Los Alamos, met my husband, and adopted OmegaDotter. Pretty heavy stuff... Buuut...it's the foundations I'd still like to get to. Part III coming up soon.
posted by Kate @ 3/24/2006 10:38:00 PM   2 comments

My spidey-sense is tingling!
Lifted from PAGent: Your results:
You are Spider-Man You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great power and responsibility.
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test
(I'd show the listing of my super-hero correlations, but my template always gets all wonky with these tests.)
posted by Kate @ 3/24/2006 08:34:00 PM   0 comments

I just want to know...
...what the hell is wrong with some folks?!?!
posted by Kate @ 3/24/2006 12:50:00 PM   1 comments

Clashing world views and apologia
Soooo. We will get back to mathematics soon, soon!, I promise. This weekend. Yah, you betcha! But after having a dearth of posting ideas, suddenly the world comes crashing in, and I have three posts noodling around in my head (Firestorms in the Blogoverse, related to the way cool concept that Chief Cecilia Fire Thunder, of the Oglala Sioux, proclaimed that she would start a South Dakota abortion clinic on the reservation and sidestep the state laws due to sovereignty; Bemidji, MN, which may be more than a blip on the OmegaFamily front Real Soon Now and is the Curling Capital of the USA; and various commentary on the story linked in the previous post). The third topic is suddenly in the forefront, because I have RSS feeds from a few adult Korean adoptees in my blogroll, and it illustrates that the same statement can be viewed in polarly opposing fashion. A parent in the article said this: "With an African-American child we had no guarantee that the mother or a social worker wouldn't come and take the child away," McKenzie's mother, Maree Forbes, said. "With the children from China, we felt safe that there wouldn't be anyone to come back to get them." The two adult adoptees who commented on this statement say they were filled with rage, that it reflects "white privilege", that it discounts any connection between adoptees and birthparents, and more. Gulp. Look, fellas and gals. That kind of statement isn't white privilege speaking. It's fear, plain, simple, stark, unadorned fear. Fear that you will bring a baby into your house and lose your heart to it, only to have someone yank that baby away from you in the first few months or years. In my Why post, I discuss some of the issues that the Omegas delved into when turning to adoption. That fear of losing your heart to an innocent child, then having to relinquish, is very strong. I don't know about the majority of other adoptive parents out there...there are certainly plenty who actively blank out any thought of the birthparents, who deny any possibility that their children will, at adulthood, seek out the birthparents or feel any connection. But there are plenty who don't feel like that, who realize that there are great losses connected to adoption, that their children are losing any connection with their birth culture (and are, therefore, accused of "doom and gloom" when posting about grief and hard questions from their kiddos on The Big List..."be prepared" equates to "doom and gloom" for a bunch of folks, which is why I am constantly putting in disclaimers about how the Omega Family, at least, isn't constantly marching around with a black cloud over their heads...but I digress). The thing is, these adult adoptees are viewing that comment from a perspective of the adoptive parents thinking they will NEVER have to worry about these things. Adoptive parents, however, are viewing it with the perspective of having a baby yanked from their arms by judicial process. So I'm thrown for a loop. What does one say? Yes. This is a very big reason why many adoptive parents choose China. Because, if a child is in an orphanage, the odds are great that no-one is going to come knocking on your door and demand you rip your heart out. Yes, yes, yes, the children have embedded losses. Yes, yes, yes, they had no say-so in the whole process. Yes, yes, yes, the birthparents are very likely still alive, still thinking of those children with broken hearts. Yes, yes, yes, it's "selfish" of the adoptive parents to barrel on, with those huge aspects in the background--but, goddamn it, no-one tells bioparents that they are "selfish" for having kids. That biological pull to have children in the house is HUGE. Huge, I tell you. You have no idea how strong it is until you are in the process, and suddenly your life is revolving around procreation, and it is at all levels of your consciousness. I'm still processing the thought that simply telling OmegaDotter why we chose China over other possible adoption paths may end up with her throwing "white privilege" in our faces, when we thought we were following the most ethical, clean adoption process we could come up with.
posted by Kate @ 3/24/2006 07:23:00 AM   4 comments

Back to adoption for a quickie...
Born in China, Seeking Identity In America takes a look at the oldest of the adoptees from China, who are in their mid teens, and how they view their lives. Check it out.
More on math tomorrow...
posted by Kate @ 3/22/2006 11:38:00 PM   2 comments

Readin', writin', 'rithmetics
OmegaMom's childhood was spent avoiding math. Why? Well, although OmegaMom dearly loved her dad, her dad was a math genius, an electrical engineer, intense and driven. He liked to offer "help" with OmegaMom's math homework. The "help" typically consisted of a two-hour long lecture on advanced mathematics concepts that left OmegaMom's brain spinning like an out-of-whack gyroscope, confused and floundering on a sea of advanced math, when what she wanted was "here's how to solve the problem." Now, logic--logic, OmegaMom loved. She used her own hard-earned money (or was that "hardly-earned"?) to purchase flimsy, cheaply-printed collections of logic puzzles, the kind with a series of statements such as, "The boy who lives in the fifth house likes green pizza; the child in the first house has long hair", then ends with a question: "What sex is the child living in the second house, and what kind of pizza toppings does that child like?" This love of logic puzzles helped when OmegaGranny, needing someone to hack at a BASIC program that produced output of her foodservice research in a nicely formatted manner, couldn't get OmegaGramps to do the work (I don't remember why). So OmegaMom gamely dove into the programs, strove to figure out what the heck was going on, and managed to muddle through. But math or computers as a fun thing, as a potential career? Ew. (This didn't stop her tiny high school from sticking her into a self-taught year of Algebra II, which she forthwith flunked. The only way this was redeemed was by OmegaGranny locating her a summer night class in remedial algebra at one of the local colleges.) OmegaMom wanted to get a degree in history and write historical novels for a living. She delighted in her high school history course paper assignments, because she could invariably turn them into novelettes that explored the ideas and issues in question. What was best was that her history teacher also liked the stories--a win-win situation. When she hit college, in addition to bowling, ice skating, and horseback riding, OmegaMom took German, English, and--to avoid the dreaded mathematics--a programming class. (There's a point to this post, which I am taking way too long to get to. It has to do with children learning math, concrete versus abstract thinking, the need for foundations, and the current tack of "teaching to the test" that schools are taking to comply with NCLB...Next post, will be "Part II", I swear.)
posted by Kate @ 3/21/2006 07:31:00 PM   5 comments

Scribbling is as scribbling does
Kent Newsome reports on a "CyberSalon" held in Berkeley, California this Sunday. The invitation to this salon read thus: "Bloggers and podcasters are suspicious of 'elitist' big media and view the 'democratizing' force of digital technology positively. In contrast, many traditional journalists regard most blogs, wikis and podcasts as amateurish and narcissistic. We wonder if expertise is, by definition, elitist. And we ask if expertise and elitism might indeed be necessary features of a high-quality media." One of the gems that was tossed out at this gathering were these words from a guy named Andrew Keen, a "a veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur and digital media critic": "What is the value of sharing your experiences? I grow weary of your scribblings." What arrogance. At the very heart of the argument lies the question: "what is the purpose of a blog?" Most bloggers out there aren't interested in making a career out of their blogs. This would be a Good Thing, as The Blog Herald claimed last May that the number of blogs had exceeded 50 million. There's no way on God's Green Earth that that many people can make a living blogging. I would wager that, for most, a blog is simply an efficient way to journal, to chronicle your life. I have happened upon bloggers who sparked my interest; when I began commenting on their blogs, they seemed absolutely flabbergasted that someone out there was actually reading what they wrote. The blog is a 21st-century equivalent of the diary kept by almost every literate person in the Victorian era, a place to capture fleeting thoughts, work out what's eating at them, gnaw at political or ethical questions. It's the technological version of the highschool slambook. It's the Christmas newsletter on speed, or the replacement for the packet of family letters that got collected and sent on from parent to child. In the 80s and early 90s, the same niche was populated by people who purchased cheap desktop publishing software and equipment and published local broadsides to be distributed at the convenience store down the street; the difference is that the monetary investment is much less and the convenience factor is much more. Out of that stew of 50 million people spewing out their thoughts on the internet come small communities, circles of people who find other people with similar interests or outlooks. (Think of it as a conglomeration of living Venn Diagrams.) To the people in those small communities, the "value of sharing your experiences" is...well...invaluable. Nobody is claiming that all those blogs out there are, de facto, gems of literature that will gleam forever. What is claimed is that the froth will generate some value, that some people whose eloquent or expert or funny voices would never have been heard before will gain some well-earned followings. Even people who start out with the attitude that "blogs are stupid" can discover, to their amazement, that there are folks out there with voices that appeal to them, and experiences that resonate with them. It fascinates me that there are such widely divergent blogs as those that focus on superficial stuff a la People Magazine, heartrending sharing, delving into the question of the USA's math education problems, and Geoffrey Chaucer reborn. (In other measures of "value", just think of the amazing lode of social science research blogging provides; at the very least, years from now archive-diving researchers will relish the sheer mundaneness of millions of people chronicling their daily lives.) Some people do make a living blogging. More power to them, say I. My scribblings, though, are not done to make a living; lemming-like, I started blogging because all my friends were doing it, and it has become a hobby, an exercise in discipline, and a method of social outreach all in one handy package.
posted by Kate @ 3/20/2006 11:50:00 PM   6 comments

That is the "question"...
How many times can one use the word "question" in one one-sentence paragraph?? Many. Revision is a Good Thing sometimes.
Ano's mention of "orange" in her comment on my previous post made me look at it again on my work computer. Urk! Agh! That's gross! So here it is with the flash. The blue horse is actually medium lavender; the red horse is bright orange.
Speaking of comments, your comments are always welcome, you know! Right now I'd even accept a "your blog SUCKS!" comment. Writing something close to every day can become a chore. Thanks to Sitemeter, I know that folks come by to visit. It's always interesting to see how traffic plummets over the weekend--it's nice to know people have Real Lives. Anyway, right now OmegaMom's brain is a great big blank, and she has nothing interesting to discuss. Suggestions, anyone?
posted by Kate @ 3/20/2006 06:13:00 PM   5 comments

Movin' along
I've started in on the horsies: The colors of the horses are almost correct; the color of the wall is wildly off, the wall is more of a slightly yellow cream. This was done sans flash. In the flash photo, the wall color is much closer (though much whiter than reality), but the horse colors are wildly off. OmegaDotter helped by painting the wall with water. Uncle Silly visited us this weekend (one of many BILs); he charmed OmegaDotter by presenting her with presents of more horses. Half the dotter's herd graced the dinner table tonight, and OmegaMom was chastised soundly when trying to push them to the side so she had room to eat. We have opened a new chapter (har)...OmegaDotter's first chapter book, "Brighty of the Grand Canyon". We'll see how this goes.
posted by Kate @ 3/19/2006 10:29:00 PM   1 comments

Like putting a sweater on an octopus
...Or herding cats.
posted by Kate @ 3/19/2006 09:44:00 AM   0 comments

A wee bit of clarification
In my last post, I grumbled about people who imply or state outright that other people shouldn't write to their agencies to inquire about the Hunan case because China might close down its international adoption program and thus, they might lose their referral. I'm sorry I came down so hard. Because I truly understand that almost gut-level fear of having the rug yanked from under you because people won't keep their yaps shut. The closer you get to referral--especially if you're a first-time parent-to-be--the more paranoid you get, the more fearful, the more anxious. You're on edge all the time, just waiting. You know it's coming, but every little bit of negative news in the media makes your heart stop for a few moments, worrying that this particular piece of information is going to be The Straw That Broke The Camel's Back, and your precious hope that has been growing bigger and bigger over the months (the hope that you maybe thought you'd never really feel) is so tenuous, so new to you, that it seems fragile and easily disrupted. Perhaps it's that one feels differently once one has a child with you. It's no longer about the "might be". The theoretical is replaced by reality. A daydream child is now made flesh, and it's not about you any more. There's this other little person in your life, and the stories about possible baby-trafficking are no longer stories impacting your international adoption, they are now stories that might impact this important person in your life. It goes from the abstract--"Will this stop the international adoption program?!" and "How sad that some childen might have been stolen..."--to the concrete--"What if my daughter was stolen from her birthparents?!" OmegaDotter is just now beginning to understand a bit what adoption means, what having a birthmother means, what being born in China and living in the U.S. means. A translucent mental framework is being built, and odd little posts and beams in that framework suddenly *POP* into solidity for her now and then. Right now, it's very sporadic, but I expect this process to accelerate as she grows. I read the commentary from parents of older children adopted from China, and many of them share comprehension milestones. Many of these children, as they reach ages 8, 9, 10, have started having hard questions that they are working through. "Why was I adopted by you? Why not someone else?" "Why did my birthmother leave me?" "Why am I Asian/different?" "Can we go see my birthfamily?" "What if someone stole me from my birthfamily?" (Yes, one parent writing to the Big List reported this question, unprompted.) These same parents, four years ago, discussed having children in the same place OmegaDotter is in now...so, using their experience as a guidepost has been invaluable for me. It's kind of like having the adoptive parallel to toddler milestones: Babbling? Check. Walking? Check. Two-word sentences? Check. Tantrums due to inability to communicate? Check. Growing independence? Check...Wanting the adoption story? Check. Asking about the birthmother? Check. Realization that adoption is different than most families? Not yet...but coming. So the question of possible baby-trafficking, aside from the overall ethical issues it raises (questions which led OmegaDad and I to the China adoption process to begin with), is now highly personal. The good news is that the Hunan case appears to be (a) rare, and (b) somewhat misrepresented. Reports from the trial indicate that the "ringleader" was actually a woman who took in abandoned babies (or acted as an informal "safe haven" for parents who couldn't directly abandon their children) and tried to find orphanages for them. Check out Brian Stuy's blog for more info. (Whether Brian should be considered a "researcher" or not, he seems to have a lot of direct interaction with orphanage personnel.) Anyway, this is a long-winded apology for coming on too strong, too strident. I know lots of folks who are close (hopefully!) to their referrals, and I don't want them to think I'm running roughshod over their spiraling emotions.
posted by Kate @ 3/19/2006 08:25:00 AM   0 comments

On a rampage

I believe:

  • My daughter has two "real mothers", and my status as her adoptive mother is in no way threatened by acknowledging this fact.
  • Writing a letter to your agency to ask if they are in contact with the CCAA about the Hunan baby-trafficking situation, and telling them you are concerned about the possibilities, is not "going on a diatribe" or "dissing China". (Insert OmegaMom rolling her eyes here.)
  • People who are waiting for referrals should be just as concerned as people who already have their children home--not because any such letter writing is going to cause China to "shut down international adoptions" and their referrals are in peril (I am rolling my eyes again), but because if potential adoptive parents bury their heads in the sand and close their eyes to any possibilities of corruption and go "la la la, I can't hear you!", they are part of the problem, not the solution. I welcome anyone who thinks otherwise to look at the Vietnam program, the Romanian one, the Cambodian one, the Guatemalan one, and others. Each and every one of those programs got cut off because of rising evidence of baby-trafficking. Some of those programs were re-opened after the corruption was rooted out. I would much rather have a reputedly squeaky-clean international adoption stay that way, thankyewverramuch.
  • My daughter is going to have her hair cut this weekend. (Thanks to Theresa, Liz, PAgent, Christy, et al. for the comments! I'm wit' yous, buds!)
  • The Missouri state legislature is collectively burying its head in the sand if it thinks cutting off aid for contraceptives for poor women because it's not "an appropriate use of taxpayers' money" is a good move. But, hey! It'll just mean more healthy white infants available for adoption anyway, right? Do they think providing aid for more poor infants, or shoving more infants into the foster care process because of neglect or abuse, is a better use of taxpayers' money??
  • Calling up a neighbor mom and saying, in a creepy voice, "Is this Jenny's mom? I've got her. You'll never see Jenny again", and then getting huffy because Jenny's mom panicked and explaining "I just wanted to let you know Jenny's playing with Jeff" is NOT FUNNY. Get a clue. (No, this did not happen to OmegaMom, but to one of OmegaMom's buds, and OmegaMom thinks her bud is incredibly restrained not to march right over to said neighbor's house and RIP HIS FUCKING HEAD OFF.)
  • If you're a stay-at-home mom who feels like complaining about working moms taking advantage of you because you "have so much time", here's a thought: Tell them "no". It's a simple word. Practice it.
  • Having a Chinese daughter does not make you Chinese, no matter how much you claim it. For a good take on this issue, check out Get Your OWN Cultural Identity!.
  • Blogger/Blogspot is driving me nuts lately and I wish they'd just fix things. I'm tired of seeing fifty kazillion little red exclamation points on my Bloglines blogroll.

I'd like to say I feel much better now, but there are more diatribes just waiting to be vented...

posted by Kate @ 3/17/2006 05:42:00 PM   3 comments

Horsin' around
The stencils came. These are very nice stencils. I highly recommend them. These are OmegaMom's stencils, not OmegaDotter's. So we began the horsie transition. Herewith some photos. (Please note: due to sanding and polyurethaning of logs nearby, there were some polyurethane streaks which popped horribly in the photos, and have been painted out. Also, please ignore any and all indications of dust or grime. Hey. Check out my profile. What does it say? "Lousy housekeeper." Truth in advertising here.) These are all spread out along a five-foot stretch of wall, just above dresser height. I was going to do a panorama-style stitching together of all the pics, then said, eh, forget it. OmegaMom made the mistake of asking OmegaDotter what color she wanted the horsies to be. So...there will be at least one paint, and at least one "Spirit". The rest are going to be all sorts of colors; Michael's provided the acrylic paints, and OmegaMom merely has to figure out how to use the durned things. The rearing horse is about 6 inches high.
posted by Kate @ 3/16/2006 06:32:00 PM   0 comments

Retroactive guilt
Two and a half years ago--give or take a month or two--OmegaGrampa was diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm. OmegaGrampa had been having sciatic nerve pain, and went in to his back doc to get the preliminaries done to have spine surgery to see if they couldn't relieve the nerve pain. While doing a pretty routine ultrasound to see if something else was causing the pain, the docs saw something. The "something" turned out to be this aneurysm. Things went into double-time physician-wise. Suddenly, OmegaGranny and OmegaGrampa were scheduling visits with specialists out the wazoo. OmegaGranny privately complained to me about how long it was taking, and I allowed as how it actually seemed to be moving pretty quickly to me--not "emergency" quickly (which would be within a few days), but "this is serious" quickly (each new specialist got him in within a few weeks). After much to-ing and fro-ing, ultrasounds, cat scans, MRIs, this, that, the other thing, OmegaGrampa's personal physician delivered a verdict: given OmegaGrampa's overall physical condition (long-term diabetes, smoking, heart problems), it was pretty much a given that he had only a year or two left, and open-stomach surgery to repair the aneurysm would be the kiss of death. OmegaMom, being the researchin' fool she is, promptly started googling abdominal aortic aneurysms. Amongst the things she found was this relatively newish approach: artheroscopic surgery through the groin to insert a stent. And she found a place relatively near that had an awesome reputation at doing this surgery, the Arizona Heart Hospital. So she started pitching the stent operation at OmegaGrampa and OmegaGranny. "Do it!" she said. "It has an awesome recovery rate! The hospital stay would only be a day or two! It's nothing like where they cut you open, and you've got a hospital stay of weeks to recuperate!" OmegaMom contacted AHH. She forwarded OmegaGrampa's email to them. She did everything she could to get this thing going. So two years ago, at roughly this time in late March, OmegaMom drove granny and grampa down to Phoenix and ensconced them in a hotel room near the hospital. They went out for dinner. OmegaGrampa, back at the hotel, allowed as how he was scared. OmegaMom kissed him, hugged him, said everything would be okay, and headed back up the mountains. Three days later, she drove back down to Phoenix to hang with granny and OmegaBro--flown in on emergency basis--in the ICU, stroking OmegaGrampa's hand, smoothing his brow, trying to hydrate him--ever so slightly--using a Q-tip soaked in water brushed across his lips. In the few days that we were there, OmegaMom got one grin, one weak hand-squeezing. We took OmegaGranny out and about, asked the specialists questions, explored the area. When there was no change, granny told us to head back up the hill again, get some stuff done. We went back up the hill our separate ways; OmegaBro had some stuff to attend to back at the grandparents' homestead, and OmegaMom had to put in an appearance to appease the dotter, who was bereft and driving OmegaDad nuts. OmegaBro headed from the homestead further up the hill to visit the Omegas. OmegaMom got a call from the hospital, saying grampa had had a severe heart attack and was on life support, and that they should get back to Phoenix now. When OmegaBro arrived on their doorstep, OM hugged him, told him the news, and they promptly started driving down again, crying and talking on the way, with the realization that this would be the last time they saw dad again. We didn't see dad. Mom had the life support stopped shortly after the phone call, because she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was not the way OmegaGrampa would want to be. I remember sitting on the floor outside the ICU room doors, sobbing, my arms around my brother. I remember sitting in the hotel room with mom, late that night, drinking beer and holding an impromptu wake, just the three of us, with mom telling us stories about dad. I remember scattering his ashes with my brother in June at a remote petroglyph site that he and mom used to go to, and crying again. The grief is not something that hangs around like an everlasting black cloud. Frankly, there are long stretches of time when I don't think about dad at all. But there are times, when the angle of sunlight is just right, that I am taken back to that time in an almost crystal-clear fashion. And I find myself wondering... What if... What if I hadn't pushed so hard. What if they hadn't done the stent surgery. What if. But the rational part of my mind looks at all the factors--the surgeons ended up putting three stents in, instead of one; dad had only 20% kidney function going in, which they didn't know; the diabetes was really running its course. There was no way he would have lasted much longer. But there are times it still really hurts.
posted by Kate @ 3/16/2006 01:56:00 PM   4 comments

It's been posted elsewhere...
...but it is far too hilarious to not get more hits. Microsoft redesigns the iPod box. The funny thing is that this video was produced by Microsoft's inside design team, trying to highlight "some pitfalls of packaging/branding".
Now OmegaMom doses herself up with Nyquil, Dotter up with Delsyn, and contemplates the question of why they have been sick so often this winter.
posted by Kate @ 3/16/2006 08:20:00 AM   0 comments

Hair: The Drama
Long beautiful hair Shining, gleaming, Streaming, flaxen, waxen Give me down to there hair Shoulder length or longer - Lyrics to Hair OmegaDotter has "down to there hair". It's long, beautiful hair. Shining, gleaming, streaming, silken, soft. It is a Pain In The Ass. Oh, not for OmegaDotter! No, no! It's a PITA for OmegaMom. Y'see, OmegaMom has just a very few things she's a stickler about, and one of those is OmegaDotter's hair. If she's going to wear it long, she's going to by gosh and by gory have combed hair. So we have this Daily Drama. OD gets dressed (with help from mommy). OD gets her shoes and socks on (with help from mommy). Then comes...The Hair. You would think OmegaMom was murdering her dotter, what with the wails and screams and drama. This is especially true if OmegaDad has (God forbid) forgotten to use conditioner when washing the dotter's hair. We have twisting, we have turning, we have a head yanked away while the comb is in mid-tangle, eliciting yet more screeches. This can escalate into A Scene, alas. This morning, it did escalate. Weapons of mass tantrumming were deployed. OmegaMom sought to escape the drama by going into the parental bedroom and closing the door. The Drama Queen followed. OmegaMom sought escape in the bathroom (closing the door). The Drama Queen followed. OmegaMom, at the end of her rope, picked the dotter up, plopped her onto her bed, grabbed the timer and set it for 5 minutes. More drama. We have discussed the concept of choices. "OmegaDotter, you have a choice, you know. If you want long hair, it must be combed; otherwise it will get all tangled and matted up and look like the matted hair on Dawg's butt. Do you want that?" A misery-ridden dotter, cuddled onto her mommy's lap with a comforting thumb popped in her mouth, shakes her head against mommy's shoulder. "Well, your other choice is to have short hair. It wouldn't get as tangled, and we wouldn't have this scene. Do you like this scene?" "Nooooo!" the dotter wails at the thought of her hair being cut. And another mute shake of the head against mommy's shoulder. This morning's drama lasted 45 minutes. Yes. Forty-five minutes. Argggghhhh! The other threat, of course, is to have OmegaDad do the daily hair combing. This is, if possible, worse. "But Daddy doesn't dooooo it riiiiight!" Picture OmegaMom rolling her eyes. OmegaMom, when ranting at co-workers about it today, was assured that the same thing happened with others' daughters. The lone male, slouching in a chair and listening in with a bemused expression, trumpeted his self-proclaimed hard-assedness, and claimed that he wouldn't be caught in this dilemma. Nope, nosirree! He'd cut it (the drama, not the hair) off at 5 minutes, none of this wishy-washy stuff, kiddo would get spanked and that would be that. (He is a very handsome, charming bachelor, currently working his way through all the nubile young ladies available in town.) Hah. We women laughed in his face. We informed him that the worst offenders were the dads, who turn into mush as soon as they are presented with a little girl baby, and who cave at the merest hint of tears. We looked at each other and lifted eyebrows, as if to say, "Just you wait, buddy!" One of OmegaMom's co-workers said that one memorable morning she threatened her daughter with shaving it all off, and actually got as far as getting out the hair clippers she used to buzz-cut her husband's hair. This is, in OmegaMom's opinion, somewhat drastic...but, oh, the urge is there! Anyway, OmegaMom is seriously contemplating the hair salon this evening.
posted by Kate @ 3/15/2006 05:43:00 PM   5 comments

Google, the Evil EmpireTM V. 2.0, does have its good points. Of course, you already have Google Earth on your desktop. Right? Well, now you can explore Google Mars and Google Moon, as well. Not quite as sexy, but purty damned kewl.
The 2006 Bloggie Awards were announced this week.
Tired of link-and-be-linked? Wanting to retreat from the Blogsphere? You need isolatr beta
Don't like "activist judges" who make you (gasp!) pay parking tickets?? Go to South Dakota to sign this petition. What is it with people?
posted by Kate @ 3/15/2006 10:43:00 AM   2 comments

OmegaMom has a "fine sense of pitch"
Which means that taking this test, to determine if you are tone deaf, was extremely painful. I was gritting my teeth at each sour note. Unfortunately for me, hitting the "NO!" button did not stop the "music". OmegaMom's score: 24 out of 26 tunes correctly identified as "played correctly" versus "played incorrectly". Ouch, ouch, ouch. It's like biting into a luscious, juicy, ripe pear, only to suddenly hit a nail. Please note that the test is, like many USA tests, highly keyed into Western sensibilities and makes a lot of assumptions about what constitutes "familiar tunes". (We have had a run on luscious, juicy, ripe pears at the local Safeway recently. Oh. My. God. I have died and gone to heaven. Not a single nail or worm amongst them.)
posted by Kate @ 3/14/2006 10:46:00 PM   2 comments

How would it affect her?
Theresa recently commented about the Washington Post article: "In my heart I believe the documentation/account of our dd's abandonment is based on what actually transpired for her in the first few days of her life-but the fact that this article makes me question her story at all makes me fear for the day when she has to read these accounts. I have made a habit of saving articles I read re. China since we brought our daughter home-so that some day she might read them and have a better understanding of what life may have been like for the average person-for her birth family-at the time she was born. Not all of the articles pertain to adoption or the abandonment of children. How do I share this article with her when she is older?...Just wondering OmegaMom what your thoughts were reading the article in relation to how Omegadottir might react to a piece like this down the road?" I think that is a hard question to answer. (What a cop-out, eh?) I am not saving the various articles--and I should. The question of where to keep them is a valid one in this household! No closets, no storage space, life going on--where does one keep a cache of "background" like that? Currently, I keep it in my head, and bank on the internets being the internets when OmegaDotter hits, say, 13, 14, and starts asking these harder questions. And there's always the Wayback Machine. As for your question...Currently, OmegaDotter is just at the very start of the questioning stage, and so far it's very easy to keep up with her. A "birthmother" is a very tangible idea, a person far away who has Some Relation, and, because of the word "mother" embedded in it, obviously an important person. "China" is where she was born, a spot on the globe. So I have no idea how OmegaDotter will even be approaching these questions as the abstract notions of abandonment and loss of heritage and loss of birth family move more into her realm of existance. I know that the dotter has some deep-seated issues with the emotional reality of abandonment. Once again, I hasten to reassure readers that we're not hammering at her day and night with horrid tales of being abandoned; I have a version of her story that I tell her now and then, and we bring up going to China to meet her on a regular basis as a tangential aside to whatever we are talking about that reminds us of the trip. But her emotional reality is very obviously there and has been from the start. As a baby, she needed holding and constant reassurance of where we were at all times; waking up alone is problematic for her; disapproval--especially strenuous disapproval!--results in her needing cuddles. I find myself wondering what it was like, to be a week-old baby suddenly left alone by the only familiar figures in her life. What was it like to be taken from her familiar surroundings and plunged into a world of sounds, smells, sights that (probably) were overwhelmingly different, noisier, strange. Then to have it all happen again at almost a year old. I also wonder what it was like for her mother, her father. Was it hard? Was it greeted with surface stoicism and inner heartache? Is it something that they have buried away, grieving her as gone, dead; or is it a thought that pursues them in the night? Or do they lead their lives as normal, only to be blindsided at times by a thought, a memory, that comes out of the blue, sparked by, say, the angle of light coming in the house on a January morning? How has it affected their relationships--with their spouses, with their extended family? Is there anger, resentment, resignation with the government policies that help provoke the abandonment? I've never borne a child; I have no idea what it feels like. I do have tales from birthmothers here in the USA, who say that relinquishing a child has left a forever ache in the background. That may be simply an artifact of a luxurious western lifestyle...the luxury of being able to dwell on things, rather than just move forward, get it over with, move on with the business of living. But all of this is from my point of view, the mother's point of view. How will OmegaDotter view all the possibilities...? I have no idea. I will try to do for her what I am best at: presenting a wide variety of possible causes, possible viewpoints. But, like all other adoptees, she will be left with that overriding question: Other families in China kept their daughters. Why didn't mine? All I will be able to answer is: I don't know. It sucks. And I will try my damndest to keep my, "But it means you came into our family, and we love you very much!" to myself, because that is an answer to a totally different question, and not the answer she will want to hear about The Question. I will definitely tell her about the theories some people have of international adoption either being the result of or promoting baby-trafficking; it's A Truth, and I strive to be honest with her. Then we'll have to work on what it means to her specific situation together. Which is all we can do.
posted by Kate @ 3/14/2006 10:56:00 AM   6 comments

300,000 to 643,000 acres
That's a lot of acreage, dude. That's 468 to 1004 square miles. That's the size of the wildfires in the Texas Panhandle. Holy cow. That's huge. That's in one day. Any of my readers from that area? Stay safe!
posted by Kate @ 3/12/2006 11:45:00 PM   0 comments

A dog's life
OmegaDotter was a dog today. She was boppin' around on all fours, going, "Woof! Woof!", bringing me and OmegaDad things in her mouth. OmegaDotter developed a cold yesterday after our outing (OmegaDad blames the outing; I blame two weeks of germs festering in the body that suddenly decided to erupt). This is actually related to the dog thing, I promise! See, OmegaDotter has a record of being violently opposed to medicine in all forms. My daydream has been that some saintly pharmaceuticals company scientist will finally develop The Child's Cold and Flu PatchTM, and she (or he) will immediately be hailed as a hero by parents of toddlers everywhere and nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by common acclaim. Unfortunately, this remains a daydream. Thus, when the dotter is sick, the OmegaParentalUnits have to resort to bribes, ice cream, threats, and finally, when all else fails, physical force to get the dotter to take medicine. No matter what delicious kid-appealing flavor the medicines come in, there will always be The Aftertaste, which is, as everyone knows, just plain nasty. The end result is a horrid scene. However! On three separate occasions, the doggie willingly and eagerly did an "up" command and got--medicine!--as the "treat"! Will wonders never cease. (The doggie also got horsie stuff as a reward for being so good. OmegaDad has become quite the connoisseur of cheap plastic horsies, locating them for circa $2 at Target, Walmart [the Evil Empire], and other places.)
Final snow total: 28 inches.
posted by Kate @ 3/12/2006 10:37:00 PM   0 comments

The Hunan situation in the news
The Washington Post has an article about the Hunan situation, "Stealing Babies for Adoption". Brian Stuy, of ResearchChina.org, who was quoted in the article, has a few comments. He has written about the Hunan situation a few times in the past; it's well worth searching out his other posts on the subject. His contention is that the people trafficking to the orphanages are typically people who are, one could say, "liaisons" between found abandoned children and good orphanages and between parents looking for an alternative and the same orphanages. From what I've read, the CCAA is ramping up to (a) encourage more domestic adoptions, and (b) really try to ensure that the orphanages that provide children for international adoption are on the up-and-up. But the problem remains: an infusion of hard U.S. currency into countries with economic difficulties (or, in the case of China, areas with economic difficulties) is almost guaranteed to bring on the type of corruption and baby-brokering/buying that has caused other countries to close off their international adoption programs. A lot of people who adopt from China do so because of the squeaky-clean reputation of the system. Large numbers of babies are abandoned, they are in orphanages, they need homes, the centralized system keeps all international adoptions on the same level, so there's no unpleasant surprises for adopting parents once they get to China. And, of course, if you know you want a daughter, given that 95% of the babies adopted from China are female, it would be the logical place to go. The question is, will the changes the CCAA is making keep the corruption level low? How many potential adopters are looking at the news and asking themselves, "Is this just the tip of the iceberg?", and then turning away from China? It would be nice if the government of China would practice transparency on this particular issue. The clampdown on news reportage (I seem to recall that the BBC reporter who ran the news on the trial wasn't there "officially") is a Bad Idea. Of course, it's very Chinese to keep a lid on news stories that paint a less-than-rosy picture of a situation; in the same case, it's very U.S.A.-ian to play "dueling points-of-view" with newspaper accounts. For those who would like a deeper understanding of Hengdong, here's a description written by a gentleman who made a special trip to China to learn more about the region where his daughter came from. Enjoy.
posted by Kate @ 3/12/2006 06:11:00 PM   4 comments

Weather report
OmegaMom is really doing the Snoopy Dance now. So far, we have gotten 24 inches of snow. We may get a little bit more; the Winter Storm Warning is still in effect until noon, but the sun has just peeked out from behind the clouds. OmegaMom and OmegaDotter went out to play in the back yard yesterday afternoon with Dawg, who adores snow and shovels it with his nose...then we went off for a walk around the neighborhood. OmegaMom promptly slid on her butt a few times on the (extremely) slick road, as did dotter. Lots of snow was eaten, thrown, and packed. Last year, a slide onto her bottom would have precipitated a very unhappy little girl who would want to go inside Right Now!, but this year, she stayed out until her cheeks were beet red and her sweats were soaked through and coated with packed lumps of snow. What a difference a year makes! (Miss C.: Ahem. The "Southwest" encompasses a huge elevation range, from below sea-level in Death Valley, to the Rockies in Colorado. We live at 7000 feet; a typical winter will see us having about 90 inches of snow. This is the first snow we've had all year. CA, I think this will push the start of fire season out to the normal late May/June timeframe, for which I am very thankful!)
posted by Kate @ 3/12/2006 08:59:00 AM   4 comments

Let it snow!
Woohoo! OmegaMom is doing the Snoopy Dance here. The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for our area, with predicted up to 18 inches of snow by Saturday night. This is the first WSW we've had all winter. Being a superstitious type, OmegaMom refuses to believe the hype. We'll get 5 inches of snow, watch. But 5 inches is better than nothing, which is what we've had all season. Maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to (whisper) break out the cross-country skis tomorrow.
posted by Kate @ 3/10/2006 11:02:00 AM   2 comments

Learn to walk before you try running
OmegaMom is plum tuckered out. The fuddy duddy short course on connecting databases to websites is over and done. I came home from the class Monday night and Wednesday night and just fell dead asleep when shepherding the dotter into her sleep. Now it's time to rehash things. Always before, when I've taught a short course on website programming, it's been using a prepared curriculum and aimed at techie types. So there turned out to be an awful lot of things that I "ass"umed. These students had had (maybe) one programming course before. And maybe one website design course. They had amazing and awesome ideas about their research projects. It was grand fun to listen to their first description, then, as the weeks passed, showing them how to approach each little special "enhancement" they needed to make their project work. But the shortness of the course and the lack of programming background conspired to make it more and more frustrating to me as the weeks passed. I had to keep scaling back my Grand Plan further and further, because we weren't moving forward as fast as I had planned at the start. But. The good aspect is that the students who were at the last class (which, unfortunately, was at the same time as an unexpected championship game for Mountain University, thus, only half the students showed up!) all seemed very psyched with how it had gone, and felt they had learned something. The best indicator was that they all asked if the course (an experiment) were going to be offered again in the fall semester, and all of them agreed it would be better as a full semester course. So there ya have it. It was great, it was fun, it was exhausting, and, boy, did it eat into my spare time! And it was interesting for me to see how teaching people without the background is so very different from teaching those who do have the background. It makes you realize that, when you have become proficient at some task, a lot of it becomes subconscious. When you walk as an adult, for instance, you don't consciously stop and think, "Now I put my right foot out, then shift my weight so it's balanced over that foot; now I put my left foot out, etc." But when you look at a toddler just learning to walk, you realize that there's a great deal of mechanical, physical stuff going on that has become deeply ingrained in your brain. It's a major accomplishment for a toddler to reach the point where he can walk without thinking about it. My linguistics fuddy duddies needed to learn to walk before they could try running. Something for me to remember if I decide to teach the course again.
posted by Kate @ 3/10/2006 07:36:00 AM   0 comments

Another good read
Dawn, over at This Woman's Work, has an essay on her open adoption over at Salon. For those who are considering open domestic adoption, I'd say it's a "must read".
posted by Kate @ 3/07/2006 08:28:00 PM   4 comments

Because I have a daughter
...the latest news on the ban-abortion front has me worried. I don't like abortions; I don't think anyone does. It's not like folks who are pro-choice are out there urging all and sundry preggo females they encounter that they should get abortions. But. But. I have a number of female friends who have been raped. I have a SIL whose first (eagerly awaited) pregnancy was revealed, at 12 weeks, to be a fetus with severe defects. Looking back, I know that one of my best friends in grammar school was being molested by her stepfather. I had a friend who religiously took her birth control pills, but still got pregnant. The governor of South Dakota signed the bill outlawing all abortions except in cases where the mother's life is in danger. Those lucky, lucky women who were raped or subjected to incest can have emergency contraception, whoopee. Mississippi has a similar law wending its way through the state legislature. Pinko Feminist Hellcat has an excellent post about the current anti-abortion push. Read it.
posted by Kate @ 3/07/2006 09:49:00 AM   4 comments

More conversation
Yesterday morning, OmegaDotter was watching Free Willy 3. (OmegaMom has dubious feelings about this movie. Free Willy was charming. Free Willy 2 was iffy. Free Willy 3 has a lot of violence, which bugs me. But OmegaDotter, when given a choice, often chooses number three over the other two. Hmmm.) At the end of the movie, Willy the whale gives birth (maybe her name is Wilhemina?). This movie has been viewed off and on by OmegaDotter for a year. Suddenly, yesterday, the lightbulb went off in her head. She came dashing in to the office. "Mommy! Mommy! Willy had a baby! Come see, come see! A little baby whale!" So she dragged me into the living room and pointed at the TV, and, sure enough, there was Willy (Wilhemina?), complete with baby. Then the ending credits started to roll. OmegaDotter promptly asked to see the "part with the baby!" again. I obliged. Then she returned to the office, climbed on my lap, and said, "I was a baby! And I came out of your tummy!" Erm. Sigh. "No, sweetie, you didn't come out of my tummy. Your daddy and I went to China to adopt you. You came out of your birthmother's tummy." "My birthmother in China?" "Yup." This has all been very sudden. Birth and babies and birthmother questions showing up. It's one of those developmental leaps that children take, which you can view clearly in hindsight, but they are sometimes hard to describe. Some leaps are very easy to pinpoint: beginning to walk. Beginning to talk. Suddenly using two-word or three-word sentences. Suddenly using adjectives. The birth of imaginative talk. But this one is harder to describe--it's more internal; it's as if the mental gears are suddenly meshing in just a slightly different manner, and more abstract notions are beginning to take hold. Watching a child grow and develop is one of the most fascinating things one can do. But, while it seems so very individual and amazing when it's us and OmegaDotter, I know, from reading on various lists, that she has hit an adoption milestone almost dead on in terms of age. The next big one is between 7 and 9 years old, when the adopted child begins to realize that, having been adopted, that means that someone, somewhere, abandoned them. Oh, in domestic adoptions, you can reassure the child that the birthmother "made an adoption plan"...but from discussions with adult adoptees, even the ones who are pretty sanguine about adoption and truly love their adoptive parents say that underneath it all, no matter what story was told, there is the one overriding emotion: Why didn't she want me? Why did she give me away/leave me/abandon me? Some respond with anger. Some with grief. Some with both. But we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Right now, she's just beginning to add two and two, and come up with babies and mommies and birthmothers.
posted by Kate @ 3/06/2006 09:07:00 AM   1 comments

Can and can't
(Shamelessly stolen from a board I'm on.) Things I can't do: The two-finger whistle--for the life of me, this one eludes me. I have managed to do it ONCE in my entire life (fairly recently), and it amazed and delighted me so much that I spent another hour trying to reproduce the sound. Nothin' doin'. Snap my fingers the "proper" way--I can snap my fingers using the thumb and the ring finger, on one hand, but I have never been able to do it using the thumb and middle finger or thumb and index finger. All I get is a "flub...flub...flub" sound, no crisp snap! Turn a cartwheel--While my cohorts in elementary school were turning cartwheels all over the place, I was left behind. Keep a house neat and orderly--I try. I really do. But what I need is a hired person whose sole job is to follow each and every member of my household around, picking things up and putting them in their Proper Place. I can keep myself in order. Add a husband and a dotter, and I'm hopeless. See the "magic pictures", the ones where you are supposed to focus in one spot in a hodgepodge of color, and suddenly a picture appears? I think it's a trick. I think those so-called "magic pictures" are really what they look like: unformed blobs of color. The people who claim to see the pictures are actually just saying it because they're afraid everyone else can see the pictures, and admitting they can't would make them a failure of some sort. Balance my checkbook--The less said about this one, the better. Complete a craft project--I have an endless supply of half-finished craft projects littering my past. Things I can do: Put my heels behind my neck. Cook an awesome spaghetti sauce from memory. Bake an endless variety of quickbreads. Type 120 words per minute. Walk on my knees in the lotus position. Read from a book in an interesting and entertaining manner, with different voices for each character and appropriate dramatic phrasing for the narrative. Cross-country ski. Read topographic maps. Write programs in a wide variety of programming languages. Fold a fitted sheet. Make origami cranes. Recite the "Jabberwocky" from memory.
posted by Kate @ 3/05/2006 10:59:00 AM   3 comments

Ebb and flow
Since the Dotter was young, we have taken her on nap drives on weekend days. OmegaDad has his favorite routes; I have mine. My most favorite is to drive out on Three Lakes Road, out past Lower Dam Lake, Upper Dam Lake, and out to Big Natural Lake, then turn around at the wildlife lookout on the bluff, and back into town. It's a lovely drive, and very restful. The changing of the seasons is very noticeable along this drive, what with the march of the flowers bringing succeeding waves of different flowers dotting the roadside in spring and summer, and waves of golden flowers covering the hillsides in early fall, then the coming and going of ice floes on the lakes and snow dusting the hills or burying them, as the case may be. Then things warm up, the ice floes melt away, and springtime arrives with the mountain bluebirds and the nesting bald eagles. Last year at this time, there was water everywhere. We had had two years' worth of precipitation in the space of four months. Over the course of those four months, I watched on my drives as the water came pouring into the Dam Lakes, and the extent of the lakes was pushed further and further outward. Finally the time came when water went rushing over the spillways--something that hadn't happened in years. People from Small Mountain Town drove out on the weekends to park by the spillways and gawk at the water flowing over and down. There was so much water that the parking lot at the boatramp was halfway under water, and the various trees whichhad been safely high and dry for years were girdled with water up to their lower branches. Everywhere you looked, there was water. Pouring down little hillside rivulets, rushing down the dry washes, flooding the lower-lying spots in the forest. Big Natural Lake, which had been bone dry for years, began filling up in March, the ground was so saturated. (The folks that were used to four-wheeling through the dry lake beds were bummed, and it was amusing to see the signs declaring "No vehicle traffic beyond this point" barely poking out of the lake.) That spring and summer, the plants grew rapidly, the grasses sprouted lush and thick, the flowers put on a stellar show, and all the pine trees--which had been dying off rapidly for the previous two years due to drought and a pine bark beetle infestation--looked healtheir than they had for quite a while. Alas, since we got two years' worth of water in such a short span of time, this year the Weather Gods are laughing. We have had, as noted previously, no rain. The big southern California storm which dumped 10 inches of rain in a day a few weeks ago moseyed our way and dropped a trace. A trace. We now have lots of lovely grayish-gold grasses, tinder dry and waiting for a spark and a bit of wind. We have pine trees which are already showing signs of dying off again. It starts at the top, with a few clumps of yellow or white needles, and then, amazingly rapidly, it sweeps through the whole tree, until, in one or two short months, the entire tree is golden brown rather than green. The next year, the pine needles have weathered to a silvery gray, and then they get blown off in one of our autumn or spring windstorms, and the following year they are tall gaunt black skeletons. So, while the drive was lovely as usual, I couldn't help but notice the newly dead trees peeping out here and there, and the trees with the disastrous touch of yellow up top, heralding another dead tree to come. Two years ago, there were some stretches of the forest where up to 90% of the trees died off; I'm hoping nothing similar happens this year. I console myself with the realization that the current thickness of the woods is not natural, but an artifact of 100 years of fire suppression, and that this is Nature simply taking her course. But it's still sad to see.
posted by Kate @ 3/04/2006 03:43:00 PM   0 comments

Bedtime conversations
The other night, OmegaDotter was snuggling with me as I read her her bedtime book, "Cats (a First Discovery Book)". (Digression: The First Discovery series is reeellly cool, and I'm going to buy more as soon as I can.) "Cats" has one page with information about female cats having kittens, which I have used as a springboard for discussions about birth, babies in uteruses, babies in general, and--ahah!--OmegaDotter having been born to another woman, her birthmother. (For those who worry about adoptive moms drenching their children in sorrow and sadness about birthfamilies, let me reassure you that this is an on-again, off-again thing, very factual, and usually OmegaDotter is much more interested in the picture of two kittens playing on the opposite page.) So we reached that page, and the dotter, drowsy with sleep, her eyelids at half-mast, suddenly asked me, "Where's my birthmother?" "She's somewhere in China, we think." "Can we go see her?" "Well, sweetie, we don't really know where in China she is." "Oh. Where is she?" "She probably lives somewhere near Guilin, where you were in the orphanage." "Oh." And then it was time to choose which kitten we liked best.
Last night, after the night's chosen book was read, OmegaDotter asked, "Can we talk about horsies and ponies?" "Sure. What do you want to talk about?" "Horses and ponies!" (Silly mama.) "Wellll...I've been thinking about maybe signing you up for pony camp this summer. Would you like that?" Gasp! "Oh, yes! Can I ride some of the ponies??" "Yes. You'd learn to ride them and ride different ponies and take care of them." "Oooh!" Silence for a few moments, then: "I ride SilverMoon all the time, mommy." "Yes, you do. But SilverMoon wouldn't be at the pony camp, you'd have to ride other ponies. Is that okay?" "Yes!" And then it was time for her stuffed horsie backpack, Dreamer, to ride around on top of mommy for a few minutes. Then she fell asleep.
posted by Kate @ 3/03/2006 07:45:00 PM   2 comments

Oh, what fun it is in the Omega house today! The wee lass woke in a snarky mood. She came whining into the bedroom. "I waaaaant a mooooovie!" No. Whining is not what gets you what you want in the Omega house. "I waaaaant it!" No, OmegaDotter, you have to ask for it nicely. She pitched a fit. Snot flying, screaming, pounding the floor. Ooba dooba. The fit got so bad, that we informed her (when it was over) that since she had behaved so badly, she was movie free for the day. Bam! Into the fit again. Then, when we were picking her up: "I waaaaant to go to the stooooore!" (There's a store at the corner where daycare is.) No, OmegaDotter, we don't whine when asking for things. "I waaaaaant iiiiit!" And whammo-blammo, right into another fit, screaming, crying, snot, the whole nine yards. She calmed down before we reached the store near our house, and so we all went in for some stuff. "I waaaaaaant a moooooovieeeeee!" No, OmegaDotter, remember this morning? "But I waaaaaaaant iiiiiiit!" Sorry, kiddo; we told you this morning no movies today, because you were so badly behaved about it this morning. BAM! And yet another installment, which entailed OmegaDad carrying a screeching, flailing demon child out of the store, and John at the store laughing and saying, "Toby never does that. Neeeeeever!" (Toby is 4 years old as well.) Then John and Pat and the other neighbor commiserate. And OmegaDad and I sit in the car with a screaming, flailing, out-of-control child until she calms down enough to get into the carseat. Lordy, lordy. We know it's a stage. We know it's normal. But the dotter simply loses it, and can't pull herself out. Life is tough for four-year-olds. You have to start learning about "civilized behavior". You have to learn to start behaving nicely around other people, or they just won't want to have you around. You have to start moving from your nice, safe cocoon of babyhood and into the big, wide world around you. Lest you think this is OmegaMom being snotty, let me confess: I can remember being ten years old, and throwing one tantrum apiece at each set of grandparents' houses. What I remember most is that both grandmothers, pressed to the limit by the tantrums, informed me that if I ever behaved like that again, I would not be welcome there any more. (It obviously left an impression on me!) So if OmegaMom was still able to become demon-possessed at that late stage in the game, it seems pretty fair to say the Omega household will encounter days like this in the future.
posted by Kate @ 3/02/2006 06:24:00 PM   3 comments

Please stand by...
OmegaMom's life has been hectic lately. Mountain University is switching versions on the financial system, going from an oh-so-old-fashioned text-based interface to a NEW! IMPROVED! →web-based← interface. Oh, joy. There are times—data-entry times, in particular—when web-based interfaces do not really make things better. Anyway, this entails pulling together a wide variety of test plans from a wide variety of departments, OmegaMom's included. So OmegaMom has been scurrying around trying to corral non-techie people and entice them into giving her details on how they use the current system so we can test the same processes on the new system. The problem is that some of the non-techies balk: "How can I possibly provide a test case when I don't know what the new version even looks like, or how it works??" OmegaMom also foolishly agreed to teach this night course to the linguistics fuddy-duddy candidates. It's all great fun, the FDCs are all rarin' to go and have great ideas on the types of interactive research they'd like to toss up on the web (many of which require OmegaMom to go scurrying off to Google to locate ways and means to implement them), buuuut...but it eats up three nights a week that OmegaMom would rather spend vegging out (or blogging). Then there's the fact that OmegaDad is taking a course himself, one night a week. So OmegaMom is precluded from vegging out on that night, as well. The Trusty Justy sounds like one of its wheelbearings is going bad, so we are down to one car. The Dawg pooped on the living room rug sometime today, because all the Omegas forgot to let him out this morning. OmegaMom has to get out the Suck Machine (a steam vac) to clean the mess up. OmegaDotter is having transition problems with the New Bed/sleeping in her own bedroom routine. To top it all off, OmegaMom has a toenail fungus. You will all get much better blogging entries from OmegaMom Very Soon Now, I promise.
posted by Kate @ 3/01/2006 10:47:00 PM   3 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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