No, OmegaMom is not about to go on a rant about civil rights violations.
OmegaDotter, having reached the mature age of five, has suddenly evincined an interest in Mandarin. And China in general. And Justice--as viewed by a five-year-old.
We purchased the Follow Jade and MeiMei's Play and Learn Chinese videos a long time ago. The dotter has watched them off and on for years and recited, by rote, some of the songs and words. But a few weeks ago, it was as if a light bulb went off in her head: This is another language! You can say things this way, and it means that!
She hears the words better than OmegaDad and I, and can sing the songs all the way through now. She hears the tones, and corrects OmegaDad all the time (not to pat myself on the back, but I can hear those tones, too, and can imitate them halfway decently). And she delights in saying "peee-goo!" and giggling wildly, just like she likes to say "butt" and "fart" and "booger" and other things that her dad just eggs on.
She decided she wanted to learn to spell "China". Having learned it, she went off to her coloring tools, and drew this, all by herself:
She went to bed with a fancy computer printout of the word, hung it on the wall next to her little bed, and as she was drifting off to sleep, she was muttering, "Cee...aitch...eye...en...eh."
(I use "eh", because the conventional "aye" is always pronounced, by me at least, as "eye".)
When we encountered Janet, one of the moms at the dance studio, OmegaDotter (being delightfully free of the social constraints that had kept me from asking the same question) asked her, "Are you Chinese?" No; it turns out that Janet was adopted from Korea.
The dotter is thrilled to be going to the FCC Chinese New Year celebration in a few weeks.
So "cee aitch eye en eh" has become quite important to her all of a sudden.
Then there's "justice". The dotter has not quite grasped that her wishes aren't paramount, and she's connected that particular (not very pleasant aspect) of childhood with "right" and "wrong" and "not nice".
So...for example...she wants to play at "camping" in the living room. This requires the light to be turned off. At the same time, OmegaDad wants the light on so he can see while he's cooking. OmegaDad informs the dotter that he has to turn the light on.
Oh, NO! Tragedy! Misery! Oh, the injustice of it all! Y'see, she had been "camping" before Daddy wanted to cook. She was first. It's not nice of Daddy to turn the light on.
Or, she has been whiny. Mommy or Daddy snaps at her. (Not nice, I know.) This translates into injustice. And we get a tearful lecture about how not nice we are being, and how it's not fair. Complete with a pout and a flounce and a stomped foot.
So now we have to work on her learning to view the household as a commons; things that need to get done must get done, whether they inconvenience her or not. And the black-and-white world of fair/not-fair, right/wrong will have to encompass the reality of the world: if you're whiny and bitchy to other people, they will usually end up being bitchy right back at you. The Golden Rule, as it were, reversed. I try to always ask her, "Would you like it if I did x to you?"
(This has worked a bit for me with whiny or bossy tones; now, if we are alone and she starts on whining or bossiness, I can say, "Tone!" and she usually stops. Does this work with Daddy? Oh, no. Why? Because he is a spineless jellyfish where she is concerned. I love him dearly, but. But, but, but. She can make a frustrated "Nngggghh!" and he will come running. I, on the other hand, being a Mean Mommy, won't budge. There's an awful lot less "Nngggghh"-ing when Daddy is out in the field, and Mommy is playing at being a Single Mom. Just sayin'.)
The much-anticipated booster seat arrived yesterday, and today was its day of deflowering. The dotter was ecstatic, because it's so much like a Big Person's seat.
This afternoon, Chef OmegaDad did his weekendly cooking-with-dad bout; he and the dotter made "pudding"--aka Chocolate Mousse. Shortly before the cooking session, he cornered me and begged me to take the dotter for a drive after the mousse was made, to which I readily agreed. She was in that I'm-so-tired-I'm-bitchy-and-fussy mode, and the slightest frustration (one of her dolls not sitting properly at the coffee table for the picnic, her little kitchen stepladder not moving where she wanted it, you name it) was sending her into flounces and almost-tantrums.
So after the grand concoction was complete, I harried her around the house, collecting socks (Polartec fuzzies just arrived yesterday as well!) and shoes and coat, buckled her into the booster seat in the Little Green Car, and headed out at 4:15.
After a whiny "Where are we gooooing, Mommy?" or two, she fell into a deep sleep, and I motored up the highway and over to Three Lakes Road.
For a few months, the drive has been The Road Around The Peaks (very pretty), and I had forgotten how much I love Three Lakes Road. But last week, that was the nap drive we took, and same today.
The road winds through the trees, then along the edge of the two man-made lakes and then through more trees, then along the bluff on the east edge of the natural lake. Last week, the road was icy, but today it was clear. The sun was edging toward the horizon behind me. The lakes were covered with ice and snow.
As we drove on, the sun slid further and further down, and the lone set of cirrus clouds to the southwest, peeping over the trees lining the other side of the lakes, started out with a rosy glow. Then the glow deepened, and the eastern edge of the clouds turned a garish orange-pink, framed by the deep gray of the lower-lying, closer puffs, and trailing into pink-purple, then purple, then gray.
This drive was a refuge for me a few years ago, a place of solace and peace. OmegaDad and I were going through an extremely rough time, and I found the drive through the woods and along the lakes settling and centering, an escape so profound that turning around and heading back to the main highway, and back to our house, was painful and wrenching. It is such a blessing to have it no longer be merely a momentary release that drains away so quickly.
At first, as I drove along in the peaceful late afternoon light, I glanced back at the dotter. Alas, the fancy new booster seat, with "wings" on either side of the head and cupholders (yes! cupholders!) was not designed to hold the dotter upright. She becomes boneless when she sleeps, slumping and drooping--and the booster seat couldn't confine her. She was slumped over to the left, bent at the waist, snoring away. But later, as the light faded, she sighed, and stretched, and lifted her body, and turned her head to face the other way.
I wished I had a camera. The peaceful dotter, sleeping in her brand new "big kid's" booster seat. The stunning orange-pink banner of clouds hovering over the trees. But there's no way you can capture that serenity, that peaceful feeling, that surrounds you. If I could, I would.
Things are warming up in the Southwest. And the OmegaFamily is to blame. We guarantee that there will be no more miserable below-zero freezing spells in the next few years.
It's not because of global climate change, which I covered in a post about the National Arbor Day Foundation coming out with a new hardiness zone map, a post which further included various and sundry links to animations and kewl graphics and news articles to support global warming.
You see, I left something out of that post.
It's our fault.
More specifically, in the past few years, it was OmegaDad's fault.
And I wince to admit it, but it will be my fault for the next few years.
About three years ago, OmegaDad went to a ski sale in Small Mountain University Town. While there, he found a wicked pair of SNS-binding cross-country skis, complete with poles, for an absurd price...the reason being that they were last year's cutting-edge skis, and thus obsolete.
He caved. He purchased them.
And immediately, our awesome winters disappeared. He has gotten to use those skis twice since he purchased them. See? It was his fault!
Then came some recent snows and the icy cold snap. I had forgotten the dreadful OmegaFamily Curse that was laid upon the global climate system, and was much more concerned by the fact that OmegaDotter didn't have warm gloves, gaiters, warm socks, and other good winter paraphernalia to keep her from having icy cold hands after a few hours of playing in the snow.
So I got online and purchased said paraphernalia.
They've started arriving. Some very nice cozy kids' Polartec gloves were delivered to our porch yesterday.
The problem? Well, it's that dad-gummed curse. See, as soon as I sat down at the computer with my debit card in hand, the weather gods took notice. And now it's positively balmy. And it's going to stay balmy until OmegaDotter outgrows every single piece of winter equipment we have for her.
This is an excellent example of something called "magical thinking", which the New York Times recently wrote about, also known in my family as "contrary magic". Other examples are making sure you have a rain date for any picnic you plan (because the planning will surely cause it to rain on the picnic day unless you have a fallback date), never wishing ill upon someone else because "the karma always bounces back!", and knowing that the reason the xerox machine broke down is because you have a Very Important Meeting to attend, where you must give 25 people copies of your Very Important Paper. (Copy machines know these things, y'know. That's why you have to treat them nicely; if you don't, when crunch time comes, that copy machine will remember you, and get you.)
According to the article, "magical thinking" is much more pervasive and easy-to-provoke than one would think. Even in this hyper-technical age, a recent Harvard study showed that people could be induced to believe that their bad thoughts about a fellow research participant was what was causing (fake) pain.
But...even so...I must confess that the OmegaFamily is at fault for the recent warm, dry winters in the southwest. (And, by extension, the weird weather everywhere else, because global climate dynamics being what they are, you have to have weird weather elsewhere to ensure our balmy winters.) Please don't lynch us.
And please do leave me a comment with your most gnawing "magical thinking"...so I know we're not alone!
Technorati: Magical thinking
To the left is Tawny.
Tawny is Barbie's horse.
Tawny is also OmegaDotter's horse as of last night.
(Tawny was not too expensive.)
Tawny makes galloping noises.
Tawny's walking and gallopy noises and whinnying are kind of creepy.
Tawny really walks. All by herself. Very nicely on the linoleum floor in the kitchen and hallway. Badly on the carpet in the living room.
But it's still kind of creepy.
OmegaDotter, of course, adores her.
OmegaDotter, who also got a pink rodeo roping rope, has been practicing roping Tawny in the living room, with instruction from OmegaDad. OmegaDad's report from the feed store is that the guy there told him, in a quiet aside, that the only people he has ever seen purchasing the pink rodeo roping rope are guys. Guys with daughters. Har.
The Dotter turns five today. (We think. We know it's very close.)
This year, she really understands it. She counted down the days, ending last night with, "I'll be FIVE tomorrow!"
What a difference a little more than four years brings. Sunday night, OmegaDad made one of our favorite fun dinners: fluffy sour-cream pancakes (originally a waffle recipe, but our waffle iron is funkified, so it has turned into pancakes), sausages, and whipped cream--lots of whipped cream. Yum.
I have a preferred method for my pancakes: I like defrosted frozen blueberries, dripping with blueberry juice, spread on my pancakes, then covered with the aforementioned whipped cream.
This time, OmegaDad forgot to buy the frozen blueberries. Oh. My. Gawd. It was the end of the world! (Not.)
But...OmegaDotter, displaying her new-found empathy, came up behind me, wrapped her arms around me, patted me, and crooned, "I'm soooo sorry, Mommy! No blueberries...", which trailed off in a mournful tone.
The empathy is definitely a development between ages four and five. Oh, she had flashes before, but now it's full-blown. Daddy or Mommy gets an owie, and she's right on top of it, kissing it and telling us earnestly, "It's okay! It'll get better!" She's internalizing societal rules for "right" and "wrong", so that now, if I park in the Wrong Spot ("Teacher of the Year", because there's no other spot available what with all the snow piled up) while picking up OmegaDad from his class, she spends five minutes going, "Oh, no! Oh, this is not good. Not good at all! Will we get a ticket?! Will the police come get us?!"
Her One and Only True Love, C., gave her a handful of horse, unicorn, and pegasus stickers for her birthday. Now she is insistent that we write him a thank-you note.
Of course, she's internalizing some other things. This morning, on the way to school, she started chattering about the Holy Spirit. "It's invisible! It's all around us! We get to take the Holy Spirit home with us, Mommy!"
Secular school, here we come!
Happy birthday, lovie.
Singing Bird has tagged me for the "Book Meme":
1) Find the nearest book
2) Open to page 123
3) Type lines 6-8 of said book
4) Tag three others
Hers was so topical and beautiful, and mine is rather mundane! I have to admit that the nearest book was really the Atlas & Gazeteer for Arizona, which doesn't have 123 pages, and wouldn't have "lines 6-8". So I grabbed the next nearest book, Marion Zimmer Bradley's Exile's Song.
"...the eyes. All she saw was a rather good-looking man somewhere between forty and fifty, with light-colored hair and deep lines along his mouth, as if he had suffered..."
(While getting the link for the book, I found this movie, Song of the Exile, which sounds rather interesting.)
Oops! Forgot to tag three others!
I think I'll toss in a gratuitous pic:
The dotter dancing around in one of my eBay scores for the Christmas dress-up box, with dangly earrings courtesy of Great-Grandma. (The odd white spots are reflections from the sequins.) Feather boas are now on my shit list, because they shed. And shed. And shed. The only good thing that has come out of the shedding is a rather marvelous "parrot" which the dotter created all on her own.
Eight years ago, when we first purchased our pile o' logs, it was heated by electric baseboard heat. OmegaDad took one look and said, "That has to go!", and we dickered with the sellers to get the money to cover installation of central heating.
We got bids. We went with the folks who were smack in the center of the bid pile. We ended up being extremely unhappy with them (so unhappy that OmegaDad ended up fighting with them about the additional $800 that they wanted to charge us). (In their defense, the time delays were due to a glitch with the county.)
So we had nice warm toasty central heat. In the front of the house. My office--the first room off the furnace--was the hottest room in the house. No matter what happened, from day one the back of the house was chilly in the wintertime. Eh, we figured, it's the lousy ductwork configuration the heating folks left us with, we grumbled even more about the company that put it in, and we made sure that we always went with a different contractor to fiddle with the furnace.
As my (vast hordes of) readers know, we had a frozen pipe burst this week.
A side effect was that we had cold air blowing into the back bedroom.
After the plumber left, OmegaDad gritted his teeth, dressed up in his special khaki maintenance-man suit and work boots, and went under the house to check the damage.
While he was under there he fixed the ductwork that had broken loose due to the burst pipe. Since he was there, he decided to look around. The end result: He also fixed three other areas where the ductwork was not properly attached. We're talking six-inch gaps. He says the crawlspace was nice and toasty.
Suddenly, the back of the house is not chilly. At all.
Suddenly, the office is at a much closer temperature to the rest of the house.
Suddenly, the furnace is clicking on a lot less. A lot less.
Suddenly, the heat coming out of the vent in the kitchen is not just "nicely warm", but positively hot.
I am having visions of much lower gas bills.
Technorati: Silver lining
Deep in the bowels of a grim windowless building in the industrial area of Denver, lab workers scurry about at the behest of Herr Doktor Popcorn.
Their mission: To develop The World's Most Irresistable Popcorn Smell, so that Herr Doktor Popcorn can conquer the world, one business site at a time.
Once everyone in the world is lured into popping his (variously disguised) bags of popcorn and thus become addicted, he will orchestrate a worldwide popcorn shortage...and lure certain specific people into his devious clutches by promising them glorious bags of freshly popped popcorn.
Of course, there's a gorgeous female journalist out there who is going to find clues, and she will meet a ruggedly handsome (yet secretly sensitive) secret agent who she thinks is part of the conspiracy; they will join forces and Warn The World of Herr Doktor Popcorn's horrible plan. There will be car chases, jet airplane crashes, a few tidbits of discreet sex. The secret agent will be disowned by his agency. The journalist will be the laughing stock of her colleagues. But, at the end, they will prevail and Save The World from the nefarious Herr Doktor Popcorn.
Really. This is the Kozmik All's Honest Truth I am telling you.
It must be.
I am an addict. It's a joke around my office. I have to have my bag of Butter Lover's Act II popcorn. Every day. If I'm foolish enough to not have my bag, someone else in the office will jumpstart my addiction by popping a bag themselves. The aroma sifts through the office, luring me into the break room, where I am brought down--once again--by my addiction.
I truly believe that there are hordes of food scientists employed by all the various popcorn companies whose sole job is to develop better, more aromatic, and stronger popcorn fumes, designed to entice people into reaching for a little flat package of microwaveable popcorn and march, zombielike, towards the nearest microwave to nuke that puppy. These people must be paid very well, because they do very good work.
I snoop my Sitemeter referrals, checking out people's blogs, eyeballing the (often weird) search terms that bring people here (my all-time winner is "How to make sugar cookies", which is searched on an incredible number of times), and just being nosy.
So...there have been a bunch of hits from a place called BuzzFeed, on a page with the decidedly awkward title "Adopting Non-Ethnic Babies".
What's a "Non-Ethnic Baby"? Somebody please tell me.
Isn't everyone of some ethnicity?
There's something so ethnocentric and borderline racist in that title that I was afraid to go check it out. I've seen some nasty sites, white-suprem@cy sites, that infuriate me with their commentary. I figured this was one of those horrid places and tip-toed in, to discover my post grouped with a few other posts about the new Chinese rules and about Jennifer Aniston deciding to adopt domestically...all under a grotesque tag: "We all know what this is leading up to: Adopting designer half-breed babies."
(What's a "designer half-breed baby"? Wouldn't a "half-breed" automatically be a...gasp..."ethnic baby"?)
Sooo...the gist is, I guess, that because China is tightening up its rules, someone posts about the media awareness of issues in Africa, and how it grew during 2006, and Jennifer Aniston is reputed to be investigating domestic adoption, my little screed on domestic adoption myths (very misleadingly tagged "Adoption Abroad Can Be Just As Expensive", which, though true, was not my point, my point being that adopting domestically can be just as inexpensive as adopting from China, grr) was included as part of a "trend".
Y'know, I like my racism nice and clean and obvious, so I can feel quite happy about bashing (neo-N@zi sites, for example). Nasty little jibes ("Non-ethnic babies" and "half-breed babies") set my teeth on edge. If the BuzzFeeders truly think there's a sudden "buzz" or "trend" towards domestic adoption, perhaps they should use that term. And if the BuzzFeeders don't understand what's so offensive about the whole, maybe they should sit down and examine their navels for a while.
(I'm not the only one who feels this way; in the comments on one of the posts listed, someone else got hot under the collar about "non-ethnic babies", which wasn't used in the post being commented on at all...)
But then, all the lead-in tags on the front page are "hip" and "edgy". Maybe they thought it was "hip" and "edgy" to use those terms? That would fit in very nicely with Alas, A Blog's list.
UPDATE: It seems that sarcasm and irony are BuzzFeed's well-known schtick (just shows how out of it I am). Kind of a la Onion. Which leads to a question: am I just being uptight and humorless? Does the use of such terms when done with knowing irony excuse the offense?
OmegaMom is a happy camper this afternoon.
At first, it did not seem good. The plumber (recommended by the folks at work) was still working on Monday's calls late into last night. Small Mountain University Town is, apparently, filled to the brim with burst pipes.
The thought of another night sans H20 thrust fear deep into my comfortable, all-American, upper-middle-class heart. Ack!
And the cold air rising from the heating vent in the back bedroom gave me visions of ripped or torn or ice-encased heating ductwork.
Then the plumber called back. Ah, blessed event! Two cancellations! So the plumber was coming in this morning!
He arrived. He investigated. He found the burst pipe. He replaced it. It cost $95.
Life is good.
The OmegaFamily has water now.
There's still the question of heating ductwork and water damage. Sigh.
Ah, the joyous life of a homeowner. The equity! The pride of ownership!
The great big gaping bust pipe underneath the back bedroom closet, which burst due to the -16F weather we had this morning. The one which is gushing water loudly enough that I can hear it like radio static here in the office. The one which requires that Hippy Dippy Utility Company come out and shut off our water at the water meter. The one which will require a call to the insurance company, plus lots of calls to plumbers.
Ah. HDUC's emergency guys showed up. The water is off. Oh, joy.
The morning began inauspiciously. When I headed out to start the car to warm it up while OmegaDotter was getting socks and shoes on, the car wouldn't start. The starter went "rrruh!....rrrruh!....rrrr...uuuu...hhhh." I stopped. I looked at the official lizard temp on the front porch. -16F. I went back inside and called the office. We waited until the sun really came up and warmed things up--at which point the car started easily.
I dropped the dotter off at preschool, then went and purchased a new car battery.
After work, I picked the dotter up to take her to her skating lesson. The nice fluff-head who was supposed to be teaching her decided to take her back to SnowPlow Sam I. Luckily, K. was there, and K. grabbed the dotter after her official lesson was over, and said, "Dotter! C'mon!" and included her in the next lesson. When I cornered K. afterwards, she told me to just bring the dotter half an hour later, as she was going to teach her, because there was no way she should be back in SnowPlow Sam I.
So we headed home, filled with glee at how well things were going with ice-skating. Only to hear The Dreadful Noise once we got home.
Argh. Ups and big downs today--just like the temperature, which actually got up to 30F during the afternoon.
Let's talk embryos.
On this side, we have Jennalee Ryan. She's in the news because she has become the proprietor of the world's first frozen embryo bank. She recruits women to provide donated eggs; she recruits men for sperm; she puts the two together, and hey, presto! Embryos. Lots of them.
On the other side, we have hordes of infertile women who desperately want children. And there we have the embryos, no fuss, no muss, no bother, just plunk down
$2,500 $5,000 for a pair of embryos, have 'em shipped to your RE, prepare your body for an embryo transfer, and gestate happily for eight months.
Of course, it's not quite as simple as that, but still, pretty painless compared to shopping for an egg donor, paying for her cycle and your cycle, and offering a "gratuity" for the ability to use those precious, precious eggs.
Jennalee has applied the Henry Ford principle to the whole process--do it in bulk, divide up the costs amongst multiple customers, amortize those egg donors' costs, and give happy, deserving infertile couples the boon of their lives, a child.
I am in the middle, gaping in horror. And thinking about my objections to this whole enterprise has solidified a few beliefs in my muddled brain.
What's wrong with buying ready-made embryos? asks Julie, over at A Little Pregnant. I sat there staring at the blog entry, trying to figure out what I wanted to say. And thinking. And thinking. Finally, I closed the browser window, continued on with our weekend plans, and kept thinking.
What is wrong with it? Why do I feel much less compunction in a couple doing it all on their own, using advertising and recruitment tactics to find a suitable donor, checking the sperm banks for donor sperm, getting their RE to do the work, than I do in this situation?
Well, for one thing, it's the attitude of the businesswoman in question. She's upset that infertile couples have to "prove they will be good enough" to adopt or to accept a donor embryo from another infertile family who happens to have some leftover. You can "avoid the discomfort of involving the biological parents". You don't have to "sell yourself" to or "kiss the butt" of interested birthparents.
Oh, those messy biological parents. Oh, those messy biological ties. *Poof*, wave a magic technological wand, and whoosh, away on the wind they blow.
So I thought and thought and thought, and realized...it's not about the infertile couples. Sorry, folks, I know it's a helluva bitch when you're in the midst of the IF struggle, but...y'know what? It's not about you. This is about the chiiiillldruuun.
This woman's business is codifying anonymous donation to the max. She's marketing the whole concept of free-and-clear, no bio parents to worry about.
No bio parents for the infertile couple to worry about, that is.
Not a single mention of the kids.
In thinking about this, I realized just how very much anonymous donation bothers me. Donation of any type--sperm, eggs, embryos. Because, while it's oh-so-comforting to the people who are going to raise these kids, amazingly enough, the result of all this anonymous manipulation is...a human being.
Gasp! Yes! A real, live human being. Someone with thoughts, dreams, emotions, desires, a personality all their very own.
I'm having visions of teens, filled with normal adolescent angst, finding out through old family files (you didn't go through old family files when you were a teen? I did.) that their parents had bought them from a baby bank. Shades of late-discovery adoptees!
How very easy it would be. Just plunk down
$2,500 $5,000--hey, you can put it on a Visa card, y'know! It's so very tempting. Really, truly tempting. (Of course, there's that newborn thang to deal with--I really liked having an almost-toddler much better than I think I'd like having a newborn. Sue me. I'm weird.)
But...what if I were a psychotic creep, or OmegaDad was, or we both were? Hopefully, those pesky homestudies mentioned above would weed us out early on. Where's the oversight here? These are real, live human beings we're talking about. Would you hand your darling child off to a total stranger with absolutely no idea of what they're like?
Just because you're IF doesn't make you a Good Person. Just because you're IF doesn't mean you have a right to a baby. This is entitlement to the max.
I am so close to starting to lobby for a state law requiring all egg and sperm donations be info-release-required.
(Edited to fix a link because I'm so fumble-fingered. Duh. Edited again, because I can't read. Duh.)
Technorati: Embryo bank
A recent kerfuffle in the Chinese adoption world, wherein those who have adopted from China felt that all Chinese adopters were smeared with misconceptions, produced some commentary around the blogosphere and various lists.
Interestingly enough, there were plenty of misconceptions from people who have adopted from China about domestic adoption, and I feel compelled to address some of the myths.
A common thread amongst people who adopt internationally is how difficult it is to adopt from foster care/the state.
Did you know that in 2004, 59% of all U.S. adoptions were done via foster care? Yes, the children are older than many adoptive parents are looking for--the average age of children adopted from foster care in 1998 was 7 years old--but in the same year, 44% of the children adopted from foster care were between 1 and 5 years old. There are plenty of people in the blogosphere who have adopted via the foster care system, and they are just as happy with their families as we are with ours. It may not be for you, but it's definitely do-able.
Then there's the belief that private domestic adoption is wildly expensive, and that you must pay a specific potential birthmother's expenses.
Yes, it can be horribly expensive, but domestic adoption does not necessarily cost more than international adoption. Our local domestic adoption agency charges a sliding scale fee based on the potential adoptive parents' previous year's income. At the time we started our journey towards adoption, the cap on their fees was $11,000; when we looked last year, their cap was $14,000. This is an all-inclusive fee that covers one adoption; the fees are spread out across the potential birthparent group to cover medical fees, counseling, assistance of various sorts. There is no financial risk to potential adoptive parents: once they have signed the contract, the agency will find them a child to adopt. Now, granted, it may take a while; our local agency told us that the longest anyone had to wait with them was two years, which is about how long our adoption took from start to finish. Just as with international agencies, there are agencies that are more expensive and less so; potential adoptive parents should do their research. (And for the Kozmik All's sake, please be ultra-careful about adoption facilitators! They aren't necessarily regulated; some states have laws against them; and lots of times they're the most expensive path to adoption.)
Then there's the fear of birthparents revoking adoption consent days, months, or years after relinquishment.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not common for birthparents to revoke their relinquishment (Solangel Maldonado, one of the panelists on Paula Zahn's first show, cites a figure of less than 1%; Christine Adamec, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Adoption, got figures of .4%, 1.4%, .5%, and 2%). What is more common is for potential birthparents to change their minds before relinquishing. Of course, in either case, it's wrenching for the potential adoptive parents, and is definitely a fear cited by people who adopt internationally (including yours truly and many of the others in the "Why China" discussion). But it's not a rampant problem--it's just a well-publicized and highly feared problem.
Some people believe that it's impossible for Caucasian parents to adopt an African-American baby, mainly due to the position statement of the National Association of Black Social Workers (originally published in 1972).
Tell that to my former boss, who adopted an adorable AA baby boy through private domestic adoption (and it took her less than six months, from start of homestudy to completion of adoption). The NABSW's main focus was on keeping families together. They also advocate national marketing to recruit AA adoptive parents. Their position is quite similar to that of most people who discuss the politics of international adoption--the first, and best, family is the family of birth. The next preference is adoption within the culture/community, then looking at adoption outside the culture or nation. This is, actually, what the Central Chinese Adoption Authority says is behind their new regulations: the desire to find the best adoptive parents for the children in their orphanages--and they are actively promoting adoption within China as a first preference.
There are some people who have been actively discouraged by their agencies from adopting an African-American or biracial child. But there are plenty of other agencies out there; if you don't like the attitude or policies of one agency, you can always choose another.
Some express disbelief that adopting an African-American baby can be less expensive than adopting that cherished healthy white infant (HWI).
Much though I hate the practice, and find it distressing that there is, amongst certain agencies, a differential level of costs depending on the racial makeup of the child, it does exist. The reasons? They range from lower socio-economic status of the potential birthmothers, allowing them to qualify for state insurance programs, to supply-and-demand marketing principles. Some agencies use the more expensive programs (HWI) to subsidize the others.
Now. While it makes me grumpy to find people perpetuating these myths, for the most part, people I have encountered online or in person who have adopted have researched the various avenues, and made a conscious choice to follow the path they followed. I'm not knocking anyone's adoption choice; I am knocking not doing your homework, not making a well-informed decision based upon your comfort levels. Far too many people out there make snap judgments based on hearsay.
For what it's worth...
It warmed up to 17 above zero by noon (one of the lovely things about living in the Southwest--in Chicago, if it's -18 at 8:30 a.m., it's likely to be a toasty -8 as a high for the day). We loaded up the skis and the sled, and headed out the back end of Hippy Dippy Enclave in the Woods to play in the snow.
OmegaDotter had her skis on for all of five minutes, then decided she didn't want to ski, but to be pulled in the sled. To the left, OmegaDad as beast of burden.
We skied up the hill, found a nice dry stock tank with steepish slopes, and proceeded to make a good sledding run.
Mom and the Dotter at the top of the sled run, to the right:
Mom heading down the sled run, to the left.
OmegaDotter on her way down:
Mother-Dotter snow angels.
We had a grand time. The skiing was, as always, excellent exercise, and the sled run--though essentially a bunny run--was steep enough so we picked up some speed on the way down. The Dotter enjoyed the snowplay, but by the time we headed back, her little knit gloves were iced up, her pants were soaked through and had huge lumps of packed snow on the hems, and she was tired and cold and just wanting to be home.
So OmegaMom has a shopping list for the dotter: the previously mentioned silk long johns, some polartec gloves and socks, and gaiters. If El Nino actually keeps up, we may have more snowplay in the future!
Snow. Beautiful, white, glistening, clean snow. Lots of it.
We ended up with, oh, about 15 inches total. Yay! Plenty of breaks so that the grader could come by and plow the road, so we're not stuck in any way.
So I want to go out and play. OmegaDotter wants to go out and play. (OmegaDad, the poopyhead, wants to finish up sanding, wood-puttying, and painting the ceiling beams in the living room.)
There's only one problem with this gleaming, glistening day, with the sprays of powdery snow puffing off the pine needles every now and then and glittering in the sunlight like fairy dust.
It's 9 below zero Fahrenheit at the official weather station, but the "official lizard temperature" on our front porch is -14. At 8:30 a.m. (On our other outdoor thermometer, it's -18.)
Dayum, that's cold!
OmegaDad and I have silk long johns; we've had them forever and they're soft and shapeless, but oh-so-warm. Great for cross-country skiing and playing in the snow. We also have polartec gloves--also great for cross-country skiing and playing in the snow.
OmegaDotter, alas, has little knit gloves and no silk longjohns. I've been off-and-on searching for kiddie longjohns, but not with any urgency. Apparently, silkies aren't big on modern parenting lists.
Today's frigidity prompted me to google "silk longjohns kids". And today, wonder of wonders, I found some. Unfortunately, even with the most magical of shipping, there's no way to get them today. Which is when we need them.
So maybe we'll check again in the afternoon, see if that brilliant sunlight has warmed things up any.
Technorati: Below zero
In 10 days, the dotter will be (gasp!) five years old.
Where did the time go?!
(Oh-so-cliché, but oh-so-true.)
Anyway. We are planning a party. Sigh. Yes, we have reached the age/point wherein birthday parties are Da Bomb.
I'm seeking horse-themed party invites. Spirit themed party invites would be best, but, alas, as in all things marketing, Spirit is a thing of the past. I can find "Cars"-themed invites. "Bratz". "Backyardigans".
So far, the invitees are all the "K"-sounding kids plus one or two outliers. C, her One And Only True Love. K, her BFF. K, another almost BFF. A and B, the twins, who I adore--not only are they disgustingly cute little blonde-haired-blue-eyed mopheads, but they are always sunny and cheery. Always. Think Stepford Twins. And maybe M and A. All girls, except for the hapless C.
On the gift agenda is purchasing a car booster seat, to replace our long-suffering Britax Roundabout.
And then there's the item to which "shhhhhh" applies.
Down the road to the highway, you turn right onto Old Hills Highway, rather than follow the paved road left. Cross over the very beginnings of Way Cool Creek Canyon (up here, it's Wellhouse Wash). Drive up a hill. Take a left onto a well-hidden dirt driveway. Drive the winding driveway about three-quarters of the way towards the highway. There's a barn.
It's a horse boarding facility.
They have horseback riding lessons.
The lesson provider may--may--take OmegaDotter. Depending on how mature she is, and how well she behaves.
So I was thinking, a test-lesson. For her birthday.
(There will also be, of course, other gifties. I'm leaving it up to OmegaDad--all I have to do is keep reminding him to keep it light. Otherwise, he'll drown the girlchild in stuff.)
So I'm enlisting my (vast hordes) of readers to keep me on the straight and narrow. I need a nag. Not a horse-type nag, a human-type nag. The horse-lesson provider is available all days except Tuesdays and Thursdays. Email me at omegamom_01 at yahoo dot com this Friday to make sure I have contacted said provider and made arrangements. Please.
Amanda can't stand sidewalk chalk. Amanda, meet Julie, who also can't stand sidewalk chalk! I personally can't handle the sound of chalk on chalkboards, but that's just me showing my age, as these days chalkboards are passé, replaced by whiteboards.
Kris...I know The Secret. Nyah, nyah, nyah! (One of my related weird thoughts at one point in my life was that everyone else was telepathic. Except me.)
Kate (such a good name) insists that her computer programs be opened in a specific order. Kate also has a blog full of really beautiful photos she has taken; you should take a look. I know, I purchased a print. Well, I haven't "purchased" it yet, as I have been seriously remiss in remitting the check. I'll do that this weekend, Kate, I promise!
Miss C. shares my distaste for shellfish, though she branches out and applies it to all seafood. Miss C. also has a fun blog, filled with jokes, bad puns, weird links and more.
Jozet, of Halushki fame, fears empty swimming pools. She also writes hilarious posts, and can make bat bites into keyboard-spraying comedy.
SpaceMom worries about her house burning to the ground. She obviously isn't afflicted with stuff the way the OmegaHousehold is, and doesn't secretly dream of torching the mess to get rid of it. SpaceMom is also a Real Live Rocket Scientist.
Jen, though a vegetarian, likes Campbell's chicken broth. She also has a lovely daughter adopted from China, a lovely biobabe born last year, and a teen boy.
Lizard likes bunched up sheets and blankies, so she can get her feet out. She can also bend the tips of her fingers at the last joint. Now, Liz, you know I love you, so I have to share that one can get one's feet out from under the blankies when they're nice & smooth & tucked in at the bottom; I know this because I do it every night when I'm starting a hot flash. I can't do the finger-joint thing, but I've got really loosey-goosey joints so that when I stretch my arms, they bend backwards. This always grossed out the boys at school. Check out the "Grumpy Old Bitches" blog, which she shares with Miss C. and a few other ladies I know. 'Bout time you started blogging a wee tad, Lizard.
AtypicalBrat (or is that ATypicalBrat?) took the ball & ran with it, onto her blog, where she posted about the terrors of table saws, toast, tantalizing itches, and that favorite pastime of us all, complete mental conversations with the person who has upset her...I thought we all did that? Though I must say, usually I do that at 2 a.m. that night, and the conversation is full of zingers, none of which I remember the next morning.
Welcome, one & all! And thanks for delurking!
I grew up with gardeners; I live with a gardener. Great Grandma won accolades for her flowers in the gardening club in Jacksonville; I can still remember her hydrangea gardens, the shrimp plant, the honeysuckle, the roses. My mom had a different approach to gardening; her gardens have always been much more on the wild side. At one point, someone in our neighborhood called the city on my folks, because OmegaGranny's approach to the lawn was to let the grass grow as much as possible then go to seed, because it was much more natural.
OmegaDad, who at one point made a living as a landscaper, with his own (huge!) greenhouse, has taken each and every one of our living places and turned it into beauty. I still remember the beautiful garden he made in our house in Prescott Valley--we had the world's best collection of plant-napped penstemon which bloomed with great abundance in the heat of summer.
So I'm very familiar with hardiness zone maps. Take a look at this one, developed by the USDA and published in 1990:
In the midst of all the holiday chaos, there was a bit of news that didn't gather much attention. The National Arbor Day Foundation released a new hardiness zone map in mid-December. I found out about this one due to a link from one of my GoodBlogs sites (see the little GoodBlogs widget in the right-hand column). Unfortunately, I don't remember which one, sorry! Anyway, this is the new map:
Here's a kewl animation of the shifting of the zones, if you want to see it, and here's a map of the differences. Note the cool striping effect; this is because all the shifting took place (of course) at the edges of the zones. There were a very few small spots, mostly in the western U.S., that showed colder zonage.
(My husband reports that the USDA published a new map about a year ago, but his commentary is that "It's bogus. It's the same map as 1990, just more detail. Another Bush Administration map.")
This week, there was reportage that the head economist of Chrysler Corporation pooh-poohed global warming. He was, at least, speaking only of the economic effects; I surely hope he wasn't speaking of the scientific validity, because I don't think an economist would be a very good judge of that.
At the same time, NOAA reported that 2006 was the warmest year in 112 years of U.S. recordkeeping.
The Ayles Ice Shelf, one of the six largest ice shelfs in the Canadian Arctic, broke off entirely last August, an event powerful enough to register on seismometers 150 miles away.
The National Center for Atmospheric Research recently produced a climactic model that accurately reproduced the expansion and contraction of ice over the Arctic Ocean for the 20th century (based on recordkeeping). When they pushed it further out, they found that this model showed the summer minimum of Arctic ice vanishing to just about nothing by 2049. (Here's the large size animation.)
A recent article (which I can't find) attributed the higher urgency level about global warming in Europe versus the United States to the fact that most of Europe shares a common climate--flooding in, say, Germany, is likely to affect Poland and Austria as well--whereas the U.S. is so large that it encompasses many different climate regions--so disastrously warm weather in one area may be balanced out by equally disastrous cold weather in another. So, any changes that are occurring occur to multiple nations in Europe, whereas there's no consensus in the U.S.
It could always be a natural cycle. But given the data on human-caused changes to the atmosphere, would it not be likely that, if it is a natural cycle, we are enhancing/increasing it?
Anyway. As I eagerly await the first Big Snow of the year (supposedly. But we do have a Real Live Snow and Blowing Snow Advisory for 12 p.m. tonight to 12 p.m. tomorrow, woohoo!), it's the little things that get me. Like that change in hardiness zones.
I have been tagged by the lovely and warm-hearted Julie to talk about six weird things about me.
1. I fold my underwear after it's laundered. I do not fold OmegaDad's.
2. Like the gentle Kaliroz (also tagged), I cannot sleep in a bed with bunched up sheets and blankets. So, every night, before I get into bed...I make the bed. That's because I am too lazy and have too little time in the mornings to make it...and don't think about it. But when it comes time to lie down in bed, it just drives me utterly bonkers to have the sheets and blankets and quilts all scrunched up. I want it smooth and sleek, with the bloody sheets tucked in at the bottom (can you tell this is An Issue at the Omega House?).
3. When I was about 13, I took to sucking the inside of my elbow. I discovered that if I did it long enough, it got really kewl looking, with lots of little bitty pinpoint red spots. Much, much later, I learned that I was giving myself hickies.
4. For many years, I had to read the last page of any book before I bought it.
5. I can't eat shellfish. I am not allergic, I just cannot stand the texture and the sound they make when you're eating them. Squeak...squeak...squeak. Bleah.
6. For a few years when I was a child, I thought I had a twin sister who lived up in the attic. My parents would go up there to visit her at night time. (It was much better than the period of time that I thought there were ghosts in the attic, especially because the trapdoor to the attic was right above my bed.)
Now, since it's National Delurking Week, anyone who reads this is invited to post one weird thing about themselves as a comment. And/or consider themselves tagged.
Technorati: Six weird things
When OmegaDotter was freshly home, she contracted pneumonia and got tossed in the hospital for three days. While we were there, a candy-striper came by and offered her a selection of teddy bears to choose from. We chose the biggest, squishiest teddy bear, one that was almost as big as she was. When all was well with the dotter, we happily returned home, bear in hands.
Bear was named "Big Bear", which morphed into "BB", which changed to "Bubby". Bubby is a well-loved companion; he has matted hair here and there, and has journeyed on vacations with us.
Recently, Bubby has been christened something else.
Bubby is now "Sister".
Sister has to be dressed in the morning, in one of the dotter's shirts.
Sister has to sit at her own little table, with lots of dinner accoutrements, when we eat dinner.
Sister has to be taken to school in the car (though Sister, luckily enough, goes to a different school, and mom "drops her off" after dropping OmegaDotter off at preschool, and "picks her up" before picking up OmegaDotter in the evenings.
The dotter and Sis go everywhere. When OD wants to help with something, Sis has to be carefully placed somewhere to watch. When mom plays Candyland with OD, Sis gets to play, too.
Sis and OD play at going to bed and being woken up.
It took quite a bit to persuade the dotter that Sis didn't go in the bathtub with her, but had a special way to take a bath, in the washing machine.
When I ask the dotter a question, Sis usually has to be included.
It's all very charming.
The dotter called me a "numbskull" this evening. It was well-deserved: I was a Bad Mommy. Today was the first day of ballet after the winter break. Today was also the day I had to upload files to our financial system. Today's file had to include a bunch of missed transactions. Every time I ran the program, I found one last, little thing that needed to be fixed. Next thing I knew, it was 5:50 p.m. Dotter's ballet class starts at...sigh...6:00. It takes me ten minutes to get to Dotter's preschool. It takes her ten minutes to dress up for ballet. It takes us ten minutes to get to ballet.
*Poof* went ballet tonight. Mommy is wracked with guilt. The dotter, amazingly enough, aside from calling me a "numbskull", is in high spirits.
Technorati: Pretend Friends
We have too much stuff.
It migrates through the house.
It congregates on the kitchen counter, the dining table, all over my office, the dotter's bedroom.
It provides an excellent hiding place for growing dustbunnies.
It provides endless entertainment for the monster kitten.
(We are still finding Christmas ornaments. When MK starts batting something around the kitchen we discover it's one of the ornaments. Having had one of MK's accidental discoveries explode when he whapped it into a door, leaving billyuns and billyuns of teeny tiny glittery bits of glass in the carpet, I don't want any more. Please.)
My darling OmegaDad has a sad tendency to help accumulate more stuff. He likes to bring the dotter little cheap-o gifties from the gift shops when he's out in the field. As a result, we have more stuff.
The dotter brings home immense loads of artwork from preschool. As a result, we have more stuff.
I am so sick of stuff.
I have this burning (har) desire to toss a Molotov Cocktail into the front door as I leave for work one morning. Then, when the firemen called, I could say with horrified surprise: "OH, NO!" Then come back to a nice, clean, charred shell of a log home and contemplate...
NO MORE STUFF.
Then the insurance company (having magically missed the evidence of the Molotov Cocktail) would put us up in a swanky rental townhome while contractors swarmed like bees through the husk, redoing all the insides.
And we would return to all-new kitchen cabinets, appliances, closets (oh, Kozmik All, what I wouldn't give for closets!!!), and...
NO MORE STUFF.
The sad reality, though, is that as soon as the lovely newly refurbished innards were available to us, we would...collect more stuff. Sigh.
An intervention is in order.
...I'm still peeved with Paula Zahn and her crew.
The China adoption segment was embedded in a series about racial/discrimination issues in the U.S. It started out with a lady who has written about weight discrimination, and seemed like it was originally planned to be a discussion about the new rules and how they are discriminatory.
Well. Hmm. Yeah, they are.
But y'know what? Most international adoption regulations are discriminatory in one way or another. Hell, most domestic adoption regulations are somewhat discriminatory, too. They must be; if you were handing out children to replacement parents, don't you think you'd be a wee tad discriminatory about whom you handed those kids to? If I were relinquishing a child to another set of parents, you can believe that I would want to be sure those people had been vetted to within an inch of their lives.
But, dayum. Zahn et al. missed an excellent opportunity to actually discuss something that few people outside the Asian/Pacific Islander population actually think about: discrimination against APIs and the myth of the model minority.
OmegaDotter is a pretty smart kiddo. But I don't want people to insist to me that she should be an obvious candidate for violin-playing or the math club, just because she's Asian. I want people to judge her for who she is, and what her interests and talents are.
OmegaDotter is a pretty good-looking kiddo. But I don't want males to look at her (when she's adult) and think "exotic and submissive" because those are the pervasive myths about Asian females. I want men to look at her and think she's attractive because her eyes sparkle and her face is so expressive and because she's intelligent and interesting.
Did you know there were states where people of Chinese descent were not allowed to own property until the end of the 1950s? There are people still angry that Japan has "destroyed" the U.S. automobile industry; any person of API descent is "fair game" to them.
Gook. Jap. Chink. "Ching chong Chinaman, sitting on a fence". People pulling their eyelids back. People asking APIs born and raised in the U.S. "Where do you really come from?" People telling APIs to "go back where you came from!" Offensively stereotyping T-shirts from Ambercrombie & Fitch. Rosie O'Donnell doing "Ching chong" gibberish on national TV in an attempt to be funny.
Zahn & Co. could have had an intelligent discussion about some of these issues--and one of the panelists actually tried to talk about the "hard-working" Asian stereotype as the result of culture, rather than being a racial characteristic. But, no, it was much more fun and easy to talk about how people who want to adopt from China are looking for a beautiful child who will grow up to be a doctor. Instead of discussing actual racial issues, they went with uninformed blather. Bah.
The OmegaFamily has been happily TV-free for eight years now.
Well, I should qualify that. We have a TV, and we watch plenty of videos. But, due to the fact that our pile of logs is surrounded by pine trees and there are a few hills in the way, any TV reception we get is mostly snow. When we moved in, cable TV was on our list, but pretty far down. We kept meaning to get it...
And here we are, eight years later, with no TV reception.
When people talk about Lost, or about Grey's Anatomy, or the (new!) Battlestar Gallactica, I yearn to have TV reception so that I can stand around the water cooler (or the blogosphere) and chit-chat with the best of them.
But then again, I come across something like this, and decide I'm better off without it. You have to search on the phrase "So how would you feel if someone told you you couldn't adopt a baby because you're not thin enough, not rich enough, nor attractive enough?" and start reading to get the full effect.
Those in the Chinese adoption community already know what I'm talking about: Paula Zahn's segment on the new Chinese adoption rules on "Paula Zahn Now", which aired tonight.
I am so glad that I didn't have to watch this piece of idiocy masquerading as thoughtful investigation of issues.
It started out okay, then degenerated into the following:
- People adopt from China because they want "smart" babies
- People adopt from China because they want "porcelain dolls"
- People adopt from China because they're racist
- Why aren't people adopting Muslim kids? They won't because they think the kid will grow up to be violent. (Yes. Really. Someone said this. I suspect it was meant to be sardonic. Perhaps.)
- The tired old, "There are so many baaayyybeeees here in the U.S."
- Only celebrities adopt from Africa, and Angelina Jolie is someone to be emulated ("The Queen of Africa, Angelina Jolie"--probably also meant to be sardonic. Perhaps.)
I was cross-eyed trying to read that transcript.
Then I just got cross.
Look, Paula, do us all a favor. If you're going to talk Chinese adoption, maybe (just maybe) you should ask, oh, folks who are involved in Chinese adoption? Like perhaps some Chinese adoption agencies? Or parents of adopted Chinese children? As someone who has never watched your show, I can assure you I will never now watch your show, because it's obvious you (or your program manager) don't do your homework on the topics being discussed.
If you (generic "you") want to know why people choose to adopt from China, may I recommend Johnny's excellent "blog-trail", "Why China" as a place to start?
Once upon a time, I thought rather seriously about getting a degree in international relations. Then, I figured, I could get hired by the CIA or the State Department, and have a grand old time traveling the world, seeing vibrant other cultures, and being on the outskirts of the movers and shakers. A glamorous life called!
But there was this thing I had heard about the Middle East.
That they considered boiled sheep's eyeballs a delicacy. And that if you were invited to partake of them, it was considered a huge compliment, and you must ingest said boiled sheep's eyeballs.
My grand plan for choosing a career path at the time depended upon me passing pre-Calculus without flailing about. Three choices: graphic design, international relations, computers. Flunking pre-Calculus would rule out computers; then I'd move on to the other branch of the choice tree.
I passed pre-Calc, then moved on to Calc, and it was decided: the degree would be in computer science.
Bye, bye, boiled sheep's eyeballs.
I have boiled eyeballs right now.
I am on Zithromax and albuterol. The doc at Small Mountain University Health Center muttered about walking pneumonia, decided I don't have it, though I have a horrid cough and low ability to do the puffer-that-measures-your-breathing-ability thing. She decided that the ZPak wouldn't hurt and probably would help.
I actually went in to work today...then, after about two hours of foggily staring at my computer monitors, and barely being able to complete some pretty mindless tasks, I decided "Screw it", got the appointment (as requested by both OmegaDad and OmegaGranny), and then came home. Now I'm staring foggily at the computer monitor at home.
Bed calls me.
(OmegaDotter has said goodbye to the fever, thankfully, and is left only with the cough.)
Technorati: Boiled sheep's eyeballs
While in the midst of the marathon attempt at cleaning house ("attempt" because every time I cleaned, someone in the house would drop something, move something, accrete something, and the "cleaning" would be, once again, messed up), I found a bag.
The bag contained books from OmegaBro & family, leftover from when their kids were toddlers/preschoolers. I rummaged through the bag, realized what a trove it was, went through the books, and placed most of them on OmegaDotter's bookshelf.
One, however, I kept aside.
Titled "Little Star", it's the tale of a young Indian girl, Little Star, who (whaddasurprise) loves horses. She is given a beaded necklace by her grandmother, a necklace that will grant her one wish. She encounters numerous situations where she wants to use her wish, but finally uses it to help save a mare in foal...and her father gives her the foal, which has a star upon its forehead.
Well, of course I had to pull it out for OmegaDotter. Much more to her tastes than, say, "Big Dinosaurs of the World" (from the nephew's collection). (Though she'll like that, too, but not half as much.)
I snuck it beneath her brand new "Raggedy Ann" book by our bedside.
When bedtime came about, OmegaDotter went to get "Raggedy Ann"...and found "Little Star" just beneath it. She took in a breath...she leafed through it...she demanded we read it for her bedtime story.
She snuggled down beside me, handed me the book, and said, "Whose book is this?"
I told her the story of the bag of books, and said, "It's yours, lovey."
"Mine...?!" she breathed.
"You saved it for me?"
"Of course, lovey."
She had such a smile of shining, trusting joy on her face. It's hard to describe, but it was the essence of "you saved this special book just for me, and it's so exciting, and I love you so very much for knowing I would like it." She kept sneaking little sparkling sideways looks at me with that special smile of joy while I read the story. Then, when she snuggled down in her little bed besides ours, she still had that smile on her face.
Man. That was just...well, if I could bottle that special moment up, I would, so I could take it out again on cold, grey, drizzly days, just to feel all warm and wiggly inside again. One of the shining moments of motherhood, that's for sure.
The end of 1997 was going well. After a year's worth of attempting to find a job worth having in Prescott, and working as a temp at Small County Justice Court, entering traffic ticket information into the computer system, I finally broke down, contacted a technical contracting firm, and immediately got a job down in Phoenix.
This led to some interesting logistics: OmegaDad was going one way every Monday morning until Friday afternoon, and I was driving the other way. I spent the weeks down in Sun City with my grandmother; he spent his weeks out in the field. We joined together on the weekends.
The money was munificent. When mid-November rolled around, we eyeballed our bank account and realized we could take A Vacation! Woot!
We decided we'd head out to California to see my horde of fun relatives at Lake Tahoe for New Year.
As we discussed it, a light bulb went off in my head. Just like all those cartoon strips. Really!
Or more like those Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney movies, the ones where one or the other says, out of the blue, "I know! Let's put on a show!"
In this case, the lightbulb moment was, "Hey! OmegaDad! Let's get married while we're there!"
We had originally planned to get married five months after I moved in with him, in May 1995. But two months before the wedding, spurred by a call from my eldest brother (do not ask me how it happened!), I blurted out on the phone, "We're cancelling the wedding." Something the bro had said somehow keyed in to all the angst I was feeling about the whole idea then, and my fears surged to the fore, and boom the wedding was cancelled, just like that.
We're talking I had the wedding gown made already, we had rented chairs and tents and stuff, and were on the verge of getting invitations sent out.
What can I say? I took marriage very seriously, and was still freaked out that I was living with someone, let alone planning a wedding. And, being an immature twit, I was still resentful of being stuck in (boooring!) Lubbock, TX, instead of living in (beee-yoo-tiful) San Francisco. Mostly, though, it was Fear, with a capital F, of committing myself to this weird, scrawny Okie who had stolen my heart.
Somehow or other, OmegaDad was amazingly calm and understanding about the whole affair.
Anyway, fast forward those two years...and there I was with this lightbulb going off in my brain:
"I know! Let's put on a wedding!"
OmegaDad, no dullard, seized the moment and said, "You betcha!", or words to that effect.
I arranged everything on the internet: the wedding chapel, the plane tickets, the officiant, the flowers, the cake. By the end of the week, we had called all & sundry and informed them.
Unfortunately, since we realized that it would be difficult for folks to get plane tickets and lodging and suchlike, we couched our phone calls in a "If you can't make it, we'll understand" manner. This translated to a bunch of folks as "We don't want you there." I am forever horrified by this miscommunication and saddened that, as a result, many people who we would have been delighted to have join us didn't come.
But. In the end, our very small wedding went off without a hitch (except for my maid of honor not being able to make it, and never contacting me again). We flew out to Reno, drove to South Lake Tahoe, met up with aunt and uncle and myriad cousins, got dressed up, signed the papers, had a lovely little reception in a nice restaurant at the lakefront, and greeted the first night of 1998 as Mr. and Mrs. OmegaDad.
Happy anniversary, OmegaDad! It's been an amazing nine years!