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

Well.  I finally did it...my itty bitty ad paid for a year's hosting at SiteGround, and I've fiddled with my CSS for the theme, and imported all my Blogger posts and comments, soooo...

Change your bookmarks to the New OmegaMom!

Woohoo!

Old OmegaMom posts will still be here; I have to figure out how to have them redirect to the new site, bleah.  And I have to go and change all my blog aggregators to point to the new site, bleah.  Which means my Technorati ranking will go all to hell.  Bleah.

But it's way cool!  Come and see!

posted by Kate @ 3/31/2007 09:26:00 PM   0 comments

We interrupt this interview...
...to direct all my readers to this post by Journeywoman.  If you read nothing else all weekend, read this.
posted by Kate @ 3/31/2007 09:28:00 AM   3 comments

Making lists

When OmegaMom and soon-to-be-Mr.-OmegaMom were courting long distance, me in the S.F. Bay Area and he in Lubbock, we would rack up huge phone bills talking about everything under the sun.  (Somewhere in this blog is the memory of how we got officially engaged at the end of a conversation that started, "Have you ever wondered how they make potato chips??")  We're talking 7-hour long phone conversations, folks.

(I remember when my cousin K. was courting J., he ended up with similar huge phone bills.  At the time, I couldn't understand it--I was only 18 or thereabouts; it seemed pretty odd that anyone could find that much to talk about with someone.  Live and learn.)

One of our topics of conversation was a pair of lists about our future children:  first, there was our list of Things We Wanted A Child Of Ours To Learn, and then there was our list of Characteristics We Thought Were Important.

As this was all done way back in the mists of time, circa 1994, my memory is somewhat faded...but, when I think about the general gist of those lists, I realize that we've held pretty steady on our ideas.

I tried to consult Mr. OmegaMom on this, because I thought maybe he might remember more than I did.  It wasn't very helpful.  He thought I might have written them down--and I might have, but we'd never be able to find them!

Under Things To Learn, we included:  how to swim, how to dance, how to ride a bicycle, how to canoe, how to ride horses, a foreign language, how to ice or roller skate, how to cook, how to handle money, how to play a musical instrument. 

Pretty basic stuff.  The canoe and horses were from OmegaDad, based on his childhood.  The cooking was because I could remember a friend (male) who went off to college and didn't know one thing about cooking--he had to call his mom from college to ask her how to cook a steak.  I always found baking a relaxation, and OmegaDad's very most favorite hobby is to putter around in the kitchen cooking up a storm.  The money handling is because both of us are not very good at it.

We're working on these things, bit by bit.  OmegaDotter is, as readers know, enrolled in ballet and ice skating classes.  We're teaching her dribs and drabs of Mandarin, but I'd also like her to really know French, Spanish, or German.  The canoeing and horseback riding are coming.  The horses, of course...honestly, we wanted her to learn, we didn't think we were going to end up with a child who was obsessed with them.  And she's got a bicycle and the training wheels are gonna come off this summer if it kills me and the dotter doing it. 

As for cooking--well, OmegaDad has bent his iron-clad rule of NO PEOPLE IN MY KITCHEN WHILE I'M COOKING!!!  (Dammit!) to allow the dotter into the kitchen with him.  She's learning all sorts of basic stuff right now, and helps both of us in various ways in the kitchen.  We hope to have her doing some easy dinners by the time she's eight.  (I will admit here that I'm somewhat jealous of the dotter in this respect; OmegaDad rarely bends that rule for me!)

The instrument will have to wait; Suzuki instruction intrigues us, but there's only so much time in a week, and part of me feels that children need to get a good grounding in just listening first.  Plus there's the question of when one's fine-motor skills are advanced enough to handle it.

Money?  Right now, she's busy saving up quarters for various Good Deeds and stuffing them into a plastic bottle, with plans for daddy to build her a playhouse with the proceeds.  And we got her to trade her second

Under Characteristics, we included:  Integrity, curiosity, kindness, bravery, honesty, self-confidence, joy, a love of learning, a love of science, a love of reading, a love of music.

These are much harder to quantify.  How do you ensure that a child is learning these types of things?  The only thing you can do is teach by example and hope to goodness it sticks.  I fully expect a few years of parental angst when the dotter is in her mid to late teens, but hope that a good grounding in What The Family Thinks Is Right will provide an anchor or touchpoint for those turbulent years.

(Thanks to SBird, whose question was "What traits DO you want her to pick up?"  I'm just amazed that I could remember most of them!)

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posted by Kate @ 3/30/2007 08:20:00 PM   1 comments

The quality of mercy is not strain'd

Good on ya, mates, you came through quite nicely!  Plenty of ideas to tide me over until something in the news piques my interest.

Now to figure out where to start.  Where to start, where to start...

Dirk asks:

Hey, that's what AmFam just did... is this national "ask the blogger a question" week?

Yup, I shamelessly stole the "Ask me some questions!  Please!  I'm desperate!" directly from AmFam; it worked for her, so it had to work for me a bit, too.

Why do you use blogger and not one of the other blogging tools?

Because I'm lazy and cheap.  And because, when all my internet buds leaped on the blogging bandwagon, and I, lemming-like, followed them, they were all on Blogger.  So I went there.  It was quick, it was easy, it was painless, and I could concentrate on writing.

When I started posting on a regular basis, I soon realized that Blogger was, at best, a flawed tool.  But it was still cheap--in other words, free!  And there were all these free templates, and I could fiddle with the HTML to customize the templates.  When I looked at other freebies, I either didn't like them enough, or I discovered, as at WordPress.com, that they strictly limited any fiddling, they only had six templates, and they didn't allow any other templates.  Bah.

Then there was wind of BloggerBeta, and I waited, and waited, and waited to get an invite to switch over so I could take advantage of labeling and a few other things they claimed would be there.  Then I got the invite, and tried to switch over.

Bahahahaha!

Let me just say that my blog is too complex (har!) for BloggerBeta.  I was stuck in Blogger-to-BloggerBeta limbo for quite a while.  Any time I logged in, it prompted me to switch over.  I'd try to switch over and would get an error message saying that I had tried previously, and there was an error, and they'd let me know when it was time to switch over.  I'd log in again, and there would be that same "switch to Blogger Beta" message. Over and over and over again.

Many people in that same situation have been unable to post at all.

I, however, overcame both some of the limitations of Blogger and got around the limbo by using LiveWriter.  It's basic, but it has some nice features:  I can blog offline; I can have a WYSIWYG view of my blogging as I write--in other words, it has grabbed my css and layout, and when I write a post, it looks almost exactly what it will look like when I publish and get online (yay!); and it lets me do bold and italic and underlining and strikethrough and colored fonts and numbered or unnumbered lists and blockquotes and weblinks (SBird, here's how!) with a click of the button; AND it let me post to my limbo-ized blog until I could finally figure out how to get the attention of someone in Blogger support who un-limboized me.

That said, I dearly want to move over to a hosted solution, with my Very Own Domain.  I've found a good place, and am planning to move over, using WordPress, with my own personalized template which I am very comfy with.

Why do you post so few pictures?

Well.  Hm.  Sometimes I do a picture post, usually after the dotter and I have gone somewhere and I've gotten lots of pics.  But I have some reservations.

First off, there are Weird Folks on the web.  Some of the WFs take little girls' pictures and w@nk off to them, the idea of which just creeps me out.  Of course, there's nothing I can do about it, and there may be, for all I know, folks who have already downloaded her pics and are--right now!--"doing it".  Ew.  I have decided not to post a few pics of her especially because of this issue, some very cute pictures, that I just don't want creeps messing with.

Then there are the WFs who like to take other people's pictures (and posts, and sometimes entire blogs!) and pass them off as their own.  WTF?  So far, when I search on phrases from my blog, I haven't found them.  But I do know of a few cases where someone's entire blog was plaigiarized. 

Doing pics is a pain sometimes.  You have to download them from the camera.  You have to crop them and resize them.  You have to upload them to a photo-hosting service (or your website if you're on a hosted site).  Then...then...you can put them into your blog. 

I waffle on the privacy issue.  Somewhere along the line, OmegaDotter will turn into a teenager, and be all bristly and touchy about odd things.  She may decide that my blog is okay so long as I disguise stuff...she may think it's okay to post pics of her, she may not...

And then there's the fact that sometimes I'm writing about stuff that I don't have pictures of...like, say, cute little four-celled embryos.  I could always "borrow" them, but if I do, I like to give full credit--a link to the giving site, a person's name if I can find it.  Sometimes I forget.  Eeek!

More later.  See how easy it is for me to spew words out if there's a focus?  You guys have generously given me days--maybe weeks!--worth of posts.  Yay!

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posted by Kate @ 3/29/2007 08:57:00 PM   4 comments

Mercy me!
I am throwing myself upon my readers' mercy.  My brain is a blank, and has been for days.  Ask me some questions.  Suggest a topic.  Help!
posted by Kate @ 3/28/2007 07:56:00 PM   9 comments

Brainwashing my child

While OmegaDotter has, with help, discovered that she can sleep through the night, and night terrors and tantrums are a thing of the past, she has been developing a no-doubt age-appropriate Fear Of Things.

Y'know--the Things That Lurk In Shadows in dark rooms and hallways.

I remember this fear, so I try to be gentle with her.  But, this, coupled with her generalized fear of being alone, has led her to requiring OmegaDad or me to stand outside the bathroom when she visits the toilet.  And required her to follow me or OmegaDad around the house rather than staying in a room by herself at night.

This evening, we were preparing for her bedtime.  I was about ready to do our nighttime lotion (the southwest aridity just sucks the moisture out of her skin, much worse than it does mine) when I realized that I hadn't done my preparation (aka a visit to the john and a switch into my comfy sweats and t-shirt, sans bra).

It would only take a minute or two, I knew.

I also knew she would want to come with me, and, geez, guys, I just wanted to pee!  And change clothes!

So I announced I was going to just quickly get my sweats on.  As I expected, her eyes widened, she clutched her blankie, and she said, "Can I come with you?"

(Geez, guys, I just wanted to pee!  And change clothes!)

In desperation, I said, "Now, I just want you to stay here--"

The head shake began.

"--and snuggle with your blankie, and say to yourself, 'I am brave and strong."

Silence.

I said, "Can you say that?"

She repeated, softly, "I am brave and strong."

Then I said, "And I want you to say, 'There is nothing in mommy's bedroom to frighten me.'"

Silence.

I cupped my ear, and she repeated, softly, "There is nothing in mommy's bedroom to frighten me."

I said, "Now, I'm just going to dash into the bathroom--right across the hall--and go potty and get my sweats on.  Do you think you can sit here while I do that?"

She said, quietly, "Can I stay by the door?"

"Okay," and we slid off the bed to the doorway.  I held her shoulders and crouched down to look her in the eyes, and said, "Now, what do you say?"

"I am brave and strong."

"And?"

"There is nothing in mommy's bedroom to frighten me."

She didn't sound convinced.

"I'll be right back."

I dashed into the bathroom, and started changing clothes.

I heard a voice in the hallway saying, "I am brave and strong!  There's nothing in mommy's bedroom to frighten me!"

I finished changing clothes, and sat on the toilet.

"I am brave and strong and there's nothing in mommy's bedroom to frighten me!"

I flushed.  She repeated it.  I came back into the hallway, where she was sitting in the doorway with the blankie.  She looked up at me and smiled.

For a moment, I felt like I had bullied her into doing it.  (I still do, sort of.)  But then she said, with a bounce, "I'm practicing being brave!"

That's my girl.

And she did it when I had to go into the kitchen (just down the hallway) to get her nighttime milk and the book I was going to read to her.  (Bartholomew and the Oobleck, by Dr. Seuss.)  And then we snuggled, and we read together, and she sounded out "Bartholomew" and was very excited to realize that if you run the sounds together, it matched the letters, and then she told me all about how the school had gotten new Barbies and she and K. had built a whole house with a desk and a computer and kitchen and everything.

Brave girl.

So.  Did I do okay?  Dither, dither, dither...what do more experienced moms say?

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posted by Kate @ 3/27/2007 01:14:00 AM   9 comments

Scattershot

The dotter, having had a quick bout with the cold, handed it off to me.  Thus, I spent the weekend id a haze ob bizery.  OmegaDad, having lured the Geography Gals to our house for a Sunday evening birthday dinner, spent the weekend alternately patting me on the head, thrusting various cold nostrums my way, cleaning house in a frenzy, and dealing with the dotter.  By the time the GGs showed up, Banana Split Birthday Cake (a decadent, cholesterol-laden delight from, I am sure, the '50s or '60s) in hand, I was at least alert enough to socialize and eat some of the cake.

In the meantime, OmegaGranny had evilly emailed me a link to The ESP Game, which randomly partners you with someone else (never seen, heard, or named), randomly tosses up a bunch of thumbnail pics, and asks you to label them.  So, while I was dealig wid de code ad de stuffiness, I whiled away away a few hours mindlessly typing in descriptors of pictures.  It's something to do with Carnegie Mellon University and labeling unlabeled pics on the web, supposedly...Anyway, I soon found that even though I could neither see, hear, nor talk to my partners, I got some definite likes and dislikes very quickly.  Some partners were worthless.  Some--wow!  It was like we would zing*pow*zap get the same descriptors over and over again.

What can I say?  I found it addictive.  Bad, bad OmegaGranny!

In the news, we had a Texas legislator whipping up some ill-thought-out plan to pay women $500 to decide to adopt their children out rather than have abortions.  He did, at least, make sure to include verbiage that would keep anyone who did so from being charged for selling babies...No word on fathers, of course.  No procedure for getting the kiddo into foster care, or finding agencies, or anything like that.  Not a word about prenatal care.  Nothing about coercion.  Just *bam*, sign this paperwork (available only at abortion clinics, by the way) within one month after the birth of the kiddo, and voila, 500 smackeroos.  I can't collect the words to properly describe how idiotic I think this is.  I hope this is the kind of throw-away legislation that never makes it out of committee, like the legislation that some of our own state legis-critters have produced.

No great thoughts here, alas.  I'b sdill drying do ged by doze do clear up.

posted by Kate @ 3/26/2007 07:33:00 PM   2 comments

Fun

But there were many categories where the just perfect pic didn't show up...

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posted by Kate @ 3/24/2007 12:33:00 AM   3 comments

PWNED!

At ten to noon, I get a phone call at the office from OmegaDad.  OmegaDotter's teacher had called him, saying OD didn't feel well and was running a low fever.

The dotter was sick yesterday, in that horrid, cranky, whiny way that kids who are somewhat sick are, as compared to the deep, quiet misery of kids who are really sick.  We stayed home yesterday.  This morning, though, no fever, no cranky whinies, pretty much normal kiddo, so I took her in.

So I pack it in and head off to preschool--no big surprise that her fever is back.

When I arrive there's the dotter sitting at the table, bouncing and smiling.  My mommy radar goes off.  Miss M., her teacher, says in a dubious voice, "Well, she was sick yesterday, and she hasn't been feeling good, and she does have a low fever..."

How low is low?  99-something.  Hmmm. 

On the way home, she's smiling and singing and dancing and giggling and happy.

Let me tell you, this child is not sick.

Half of me is laughing, the other half is going, "Grrrr."  I have made it quite clear that this is not to happen again (you can tell she knows I know she isn't sick).  I lectured her about what Mean Mommies do in this situation, about how next time this happens, she will be put to bed pronto, since she's so sick.  I made her take ibuprofen (ewww!).

OmegaDad, like me, was halfway laughing, halfway not, when I called him to tell him we had all been played.  "That little shit!" were his exact words.

That little shit, indeed.


Lest anyone take the "little shit" to heart and decide I'm a Bad Mother, I would like to include a disclaimer:  OmegaDotter is our joy and our heart, and "little shit" is meant in affectionately joshing tones.  And, if anyone wonders why on earth I'm bothering to include this little disclaimer, just head on over to AmFam to get an idea of the humorless and self-righteous folk who populate the world.  (Further disclaimer:  AmFam is not humorless and self-righteous.)

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posted by Kate @ 3/23/2007 02:01:00 PM   6 comments

"Terrible mistake"
"While we love Baby Jessica as our own, we are reminded of this terrible mistake each and every time we look at her."

A couple is suing a fertility clinic for using the wrong sperm in their successful IVF treatment.

The "terrible mistake" is obvious because the child is...well..."darker" than her parents.

I can understand being upset at getting the "wrong sperm".  Usually, when you're deep in the throes of IF treatment, you're stuck on that unique-and-beautiful-mix of you and your spouse.

But...dayum..."terrible mistake"?

They look at their daughter and think "terrible mistake"?

Or, more likely, they let their lawyer put those words down on paper to make it a better case, rather than actually thinking it each time they look at her.  I hope.

Let's hope they win enough money to pay for Jessica's therapy when she's an angst-filled teen who knows that everyone in the world knows that her parents thought she was the result of a "terrible mistake".

Maybe fertility clinics should just start putting a "you git what you git and you don't throw a fit" clause into their service contracts...

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posted by Kate @ 3/22/2007 10:30:00 AM   8 comments

Small white wildflower

In an effort to remove a few of the pounds that my Frappucino habit has put on (ack!), and just generally tone up and feel better, I've been walking at lunchtime.

Today's jaunt was along the (harharhar!) "urban" trail from near my office over to the other side of Local Community College.  Lots of ups and downs.  A distressing tendency to be too close to Pine Tree Drive.  But, here and there, it dipped into the woods, and so I soaked in small doses of springtime.

One dose:  mountain bluebirds.  Ahhh.  You have no idea how blue a bird can be until you've seen one of these little fellas--think of your most vivid deep royal blue Polartec fuzzy--that blue.  With a lovely rosy breast beneath to provide a bit of contrast.  Folks hereabouts know springtime is coming when these birds show up (you also know summer is well along when the bronze hummingbirds arrive, and you know it's autumn when the orioles peer in your birdfeeders).

Whilst walking, I kept seeing little bits and fluffs of white.  Being cynical and snarky, my first thought was that a UPS box filled with snerds had exploded on the road and scattered plastic popcorn hither and yon.  But, upon closer examination, it was yet another harbinger of spring:  small white wildflowers.

Um.

Yeah, yeah, yeah--I know I know the names of these things.  They look kinda like alyssum, see?  In fact, my second thought, after damning the manufacturers of plastic snerds, was that someone had wandered along the "urban" trail with a seed packet of allysum.  But then, I realized, no, not allysum, but...that other white springtime flower.

What's its name?  Yeah, whatsisname.  That's it.

I wandered up and down hill for a while, admiring the oh-so-cleverly-placed penstemon tufts near Local Community College, which almost look natural, reached the entrance to Extremely Expensive Golfing Community With Humongous Houses, turned around, and it hit me:

Candytuft!

Ah hah, I say to myself, I will have to google it when I get back, to be sure.

Huffing and puffing as I sat at my desk, I reached for the encyclopedia...

Okay, I placed fingers on keyboard.  These days, the internet acts, for me, like encyclopedias used to.  I can wander from topic to topic quite easily, browsing like a butterfly on information, and the internet is the most glorious flower for browsing.

I googled "candytuft".  I found Backyard Gardener's entry.  It had a link to pictures.  So I clicked on that link, which actually does a google image search on "iberis".

The pics were close.  Very close.  But they all looked very...garden-y and not wildflower-y.

And there, in the midst of all the flower pics, was a pic that led me to Chalet Iberis

:drool:

So I stayed a while and drooled, then sighed, and returned to the image search to search on candytuft.  I found:  wedding dresses.  Fairies galore--pictures, pillows, stained glass, music boxes, jewelry, statues, pewter figurines, candy...  (Apparently, there is a particular taxon of fairy, the "candytuft fairy", that crouches on flowers with its knees up and arms around its knees.  You've seen it.  I've seen it.  It's a cliché.  It has a name.  Good golly.)  Tarot cards.  Cats.  Yarn.  A horse named "Candytuft" (of course).  A whole slew of pictures of other flowers, linked, by some odd chance, to the word "candytuft":  echinacea?  Bleeding heart?  Lilies?  California poppies?  Hmmm.

Then, in amongst all the images, I found some mention of "wild candytuft", and images or names linked to the Southwest mountains.  And then I found the motherlode (which I'm sure my mom has passed on to me previously):  NAZ Flora's entry on thlaspi montanum, known as Fender's Pennycress or Wild Candytuft, with lots of pictures looking almost exactly like the pretty little white wildflowers I had seen during my walk.

There you have it:  a walk through the odd connections the internet can provide you, and an entry to a very handy resource (NAZ Flora) for anyone who lives in the Southwestern mountains of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado.

(For those who are giving me the hairy eyeball about doing this while working, I plead queries that take a long time to process, so while they were processing, I was flitting from flower to flower.  My query window would flash when it was done, so I'd bop over there, frown, open up the design window, fiddle with the parameters, set the query running again, and bop back to my flower search.)

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posted by Kate @ 3/21/2007 08:13:00 PM   2 comments

Scared

JenEx wrote a post today that zapped straight to the center of my being, about being an outsider at school.

The dotter is about to move into another phase of life, moving from a nice small school where everyone knows her into a (biggish) public school that has three kindergarten classes.  Then, after that, it's first grade, then sixth, then high school.

Right now, she walks in the door to her classroom, and she's greeted like Norm on Cheers:  "OmegaDotter!"  "Yay!  O's here!"  "OD, come here, look at this!"

But already we have a small social issue popping up.  OmegaDotter will sigh and say, "Everyone laughs at me," every now and then when talking about school and her friends.  OmegaDad and I know that one reason everyone laughs at her is because she cultivates it; she is a clown.  She has her mother's overexaggerated expressions and reactions down, and it is funny.  She does it deliberately, waiting for our reaction, and damn, it's hard not to laugh all the time. 

As a result, OmegaDad and I try to let her know that she doesn't have to be "on" all the time, that we love her just as she is and she doesn't need to clown around.  And we have mentioned, in passing, that maybe part of the reason everyone laughs at her is because she encourages it...

She's smart.  She's damned smart.  She's cute.  She's artistic (or so I have been told).  And she clowns around.

I was smart, damned smart.  (I wasn't so cute.)  I was a bookworm and Thought About Things.  And I didn't fit in, at all; never part of the popular crowd, always sort of hanging around on the edges.  I was the person who other people asked to copy off of.  Most of my time in school I felt lonely, which expanded to a big hole of loneliness in high school.  I was awkward, shy, bookish, got good grades, didn't do anything athletic, and lived far away from school.  I went off in my own direction lots of times, and that didn't go over very well, either.  It didn't help that sometimes my teachers were the ones who were poking fun at me, either (I remember one time in sixth grade, when we were supposed to write a story, and I got involved in designing the backstory, a la Genesis, a whole page worth of "So-and-so married such-and-such and had two children, blah-de-blah and something-or-other."  The teacher demanded I turn in whatever I had written...and then, a day later, read it out loud to the class as a prime example of what "not to do".).

My parents were smart, damned smart.  And they report that they were always the odd ones out at school, as well.

We all managed; we all found our little niches.  But it wasn't necessarily easy, and it wasn't necessarily fun, and there were lots of times when other kids were just plain mean.

So.  I admit that part of the reason I'm taking OmegaDotter to ballet and to ice skating, and plan to for a long time, is so that she will have a certain physicality that I lacked.  I'm going to dump her into soccer next year.  I'm going to make an effort to keep her in touch with her buddies from preschool, so she has a solid "group" to fall back on.  And we're going to keep emphasizing that what makes a person nice is that person's actions and inner self, not the outer stuff.

But I know that the Queen Bees are out there, and maybe the Dotter will be one, maybe she won't.  No matter--there will be times when she will be hurt by other kids, and I can't protect her from that, and there will be times when she does the hurting.

And it makes me scared.

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posted by Kate @ 3/20/2007 08:09:00 PM   5 comments

The out-of-synch mom

Lately, OmegaMom has been on the dotter's general shit list.

There are two reasons for this:  number one, mommy just isn't fun, the way daddy is.  Mommy takes OmegaDotter for a walk, or out to the playground, and sort of expects the dotter to...well...walk, or play (but not necessarily with mommy).  And then mommy is considered Mean Mommy in general. 

For example:  mommy, when confronted with the dotter crashing someone else's birthday party at the park, and the crashees (very nicely!) offering some cake (whenever they were going to have the cake) before mommy could intercept the offer, shortly before mommy was planning to take the dotter home from the park anyway...well, mommy pretty much said, "Sorry, kiddo, it's time to go home."

This didn't go over very well.

Then, there's the fact that the dotter is suddenly not taking her naps.

So dotter is grumpy, and mommy gets grumpy in return, and dotter gets frowny-faced and whiny, and mommy gets eye-rolling going, and the whole thing turns into a horrible feedback loop where dotter pouts (out loud) that she wants daddy and mommy pouts (silently) that nothing she does makes the dotter happy.

So, moms out there.  Reassure me.  Tell me that you, too, have periods (of multiple days in a row) where you and the child just don't seem to be in synch, and no-one's happy and no-one's having any fun.

Grump.

posted by Kate @ 3/18/2007 07:34:00 PM   7 comments

Any piano player will agree...

Rachmaninoff had big hands:

Har.

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posted by Kate @ 3/17/2007 05:27:00 PM   6 comments

Star light, star bright

Oh, wow.

I wandered over to eBay to check out Dance Dance Revolution packages (yeah, right), and there on the front page was...

"Bid on chance to fly zero G with Stephen Hawking".

Proceeds will benefit the Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation.

I do love the internet era.

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posted by Kate @ 3/17/2007 02:58:00 PM   2 comments

A comet is coming! A comet is coming!

Miss Snark, the literary agent, says--multiple times--"Show me, don't tell me," when she's talking about partials on manuscripts she might be interested in representing.

I've been thinking of this while struggling mightily to "get into" a particular SF series (The Saga of Seven Suns) that OmegaGranny pressed upon me during one of my recent visits.

Perhaps part of the problem is that I started with book two, A Forest of Stars.  Perhaps.  But he's constantly telling, not showing, in a very awkward manner, shoehorning bits and pieces of backstory in in odd places, and it leaves me cold.  His ideas are certainly grand, with a wild intergalactic sweep--space opera with vile evil alien villains, mysterious machinations, killer robots trying to weasel their way into the humans' graces (but why are they not also weaseling into the "good" alien race's graces, as well?) preparatory to genociding them.

But if the vile evil aliens are so vile and evil--show it, don't tell me by saying, "the vile hydrogues were swooping down upon the EDF ships blah blah blah".  I'm reading the story, and so far, the hydrogues don't seem vile and evil to me--they seem cold, mysterious, unfathomable.  They perform horrific acts--that should be enough to make them unpleasant characters; you don't have to hit me on the head with adjectives modifying the race name to make me realize these are The Villains.

(I'm not even going to talk about the scene where some folks are working on a fiery planet, and alarms go off, and it turns out that--omigod--a comet is heading towards them.  And this comet will [maybe] hit them in...a week.  Okay, I am.  Folks, lissen up.  If a comet is heading towards you, you've got months to deal with it, not just a week.  And even if you've got just a week, why the hell would you sound alarms?!  Aren't alarms usually used for something that's going to occur, like, right now?!  The scene is just tossed in there for drama, and it's stupid drama.  The book is littered with stuff like that.  Oh, yeah, and travel between worlds in some parts of the book seems to happen really quickly, whereas in other parts of the book, it takes a long time.  Yeesh.)

To top it all off, the "good" aliens aren't really that "alien"; they're like human beings with some sort of species-wide telepathic bond and tentacular hair, who pretty much act just like humans would act in almost every situation.

Now, I admit that sometimes "showing" can be overwhelming.  One of my favorite SF writers is CJ Cherryh.  Cherryh's typical M.O. is to toss you right into the middle of some byzantine political setup on page one, and you spend a lot of time while reading the rest of the book trying to figure out who's on what side, what the sides are all about, and how the hero(ine) is going to get out of this mess.  It can be hard to cope with, but the "showing" is rushing you along, driving the story.

And, my word, but Cherryh can do some awesome, weird aliens, with weird, alien motivations.  By the end of one of her books, if you stick with it, you'll find yourself almost thinking like the aliens.

Her fantasies are equally byzantine and engrossing, and nothing like typical Tolkein knock-offs.

So, anyway, I'm slogging through this book, and find myself thinking that I should just find an OCR, scan the damned thing into the computer, and re-write it, it's that irritating.  Mind you, it's not bad enough that I'm going to toss the book entirely.  It's fine for a chapter or two while the dotter is slipping off to sleep, and usually sends me to sleep, too.

Harrumph.

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posted by Kate @ 3/16/2007 06:19:00 PM   4 comments

NCLB - No Child Learns Bupkiss

The dotter has been at her preschool, selected mainly for convenient location and because a buddy of mine had her kid there and liked it, since two months after she came home with us.  It's a touchstone for her, an achor, because she's been there so long.  Oh, her teachers come and go, but we keep in touch with some of them, and her friends come and go, but we keep in touch with them, too.  One of the things I worry about (hey, it's me, I've got to have something to worry about, eh?) is how things are going to change this year.

She's going to be going into kindergarten. 

Real school.  "Big kids' school", as she puts it.

We've already enrolled her in summer day camp--mornings in one portion, afternoons in the swim camp.  I'm sure she'll have fun...but...but...it's a big change.

While the preschool was, as said above, chosen mainly for convenience, it has turned into a good learning experience.  Right now, they're learning sounds to go with letters, sight words, the months, the seasons, and, to top it all off, a goodly dollop of religion.  Aside from one teacher who I thought sucked, all her teachers are good teachers--interested in the kids, involving them, nurturing them, letting them learn at a relaxed pace that fits their needs.

What's "big school" going to be like?

My various buddies on lists and blogs who are teachers, or who have kids in school, or who are both, regularly rant about the current atmosphere in public schools--the "teach to the test" approach that has been the inevitable spin-off of NCLB.

The parents of first-graders say that their kids are already aware of the tests, and the need to do well on the test--and it's making their kids (first-graders!) anxious.

The parents of older kids say that their kids are regularly switched out from regular lessons into weeks of practice tests before The Test.

The teachers grit their teeth and complain about school administrators futzing with curricula...all in the name of "passing The Test".  About how in certain grades, the social sciences go poof, because they're not on The Test.  About how music and art and PE are ditched, because they're not on The Test.  About how they're not allowed to do what works with this group of kids, because it's not "proven" to work for The Test.  And The Test is the be-all and end-all for funding for the school...

Teachers and parents report on rah-rah pep sessions before The Test that emphasize to the kids just how important it is for the school that they pass.

Hell's bells--this sort of talk just freaks me out.  The dotter is in that stage of learning at her own pace, just beginning to realize that letters can add up to words, beginning to fiddle with the notion of how, if you take the number six, it's two more than four, and isn't that kind of neat?

I don't want have the dotter's interest in learning things turned into an anxiety-provoking grind.  I don't want her to learn test-taking skills.  I want her to learn stuff.  Science.  Math.  Art.  History.  Geography.  How to play soccer.  I want her to make volcanoes.  I want her to build model French forts out of popsicle sticks, or Spanish missions out of sugar cubes, or whatever the standard build-a-historic-building theme is here in our state.  I want her to learn that reading is fun, rather than a chore.

Apparently, enough parents have had enough of the Testing that they have put pressure on their congresscritters to Do Something About NCLB.  NCLB is up for re-authorization this year, and Republicans and Democrats are joining together to try to work some changes into the reauthorization.

Standards are great.  Standards are good.  We need standards.  But from what I've heard from folks on the ground is that the standards approach that is fostered by the current NCLB structure isn't working.  That it's making things worse, rather than better.

I have a very vested interest in seeing how this all plays out.

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posted by Kate @ 3/16/2007 12:44:00 AM   5 comments

Metal night

Ahhh.  OmegaDad is out in the field, the dotter is asleep.  It's time to rock out on YouTube.  (Go away, Mom, this isn't your style.)

Another Rainy Night, Queensryche:

Rock You Like a Hurricane, Scorpions (I always thought that was "Raunchy Like a Hurricane"):

White Wedding, Billy Idol:

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), the Eurythmics:

I Love Rock & Roll, Joan Jett & the BlackHearts:

Livin' on a Prayer, Bon Jovi:

Twilight Zone, Golden Earring:

Catch 'em while they're hot; Viacom already has had some things pulled (I couldn't find Dear God by XTC, for instance, grrr).

Every once in a while, the dotter sits on my lap while I drench her with rock videos for a few hours (though it's clear that I'm going to have to start censoring my sharing with her a bit more--nothing worse than, say, having to suddenly STOP!!! the video to Relax, ahem, and quickly hit the back button!).  It's a nice break from watching week 6 of last season's ITV "Dancing on Ice" feeeeturing Bonnie & Matt dancing to Madonna's Material Girl.  One.  More.  Time.  (Agggghhh!)

Mud.  Check.  Algae.  Check.  Rock'n'roll.  Check.  Ahhhh.  Being a parent is wonderful sometimes!

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posted by Kate @ 3/14/2007 01:27:00 AM   1 comments

To tell the tooth

I heart the dotter's dentist.  Into the office, out in, oh, 45 minutes, happy dotter, shiny new "princess tooth".

But first, there was the valium.

The dentist had sent us home last time with a cute little envelope with one cute little pink valium pill.

It was lost (or so I thought) when OmegaDad cleaned the car preparatory to our weekend of frivolity.  So, when OmegaDad took off from work yesterday and dropped by my office to swap cars, I sent him haring off to the dentist's office to get another cute little pink valium pill.  Then, last night, I found the first one.  Then I lost it again, having carefully placed it in a place where I knew I would remember it.  Hah.

This morning, an hour prior to the dentist's appointment, I duly got two spoons and some yogurt out, crushed the valium in the big spoon, and dolloped spoonsful of (yummy!) strawberry yogurt on top.

Then I beckoned to the dotter.

She eyeballed the spoon dubiously, knowing there was Medicine there.  "Eww.  What's that orange stuff?" quoth she.

"Medicine.  Take it," I said, in my best you-do-it-or-there-will-be-dire-consequences voice, thrusting the spoon vaguely in the direction of her mouth.

"No, no!  I'll do it!  Let me do it!"

Hm.  Okay, so I handed the spoon over to her.  And I warned her not to spill it.  She began counting three.  She eyed the spoon.  She stopped.  She started again.  She covered her mouth with her other hand.

THEN...then, she swooped the spoon overhead.  And spilled it.

A great big glop of strawberry yogurt mixed with crushed valium landed on the floor.

A mother envisioning a dotter writhing in pain on the dentist's chair lost it entirely, and shrieked, "GODDAMMIT, Dotter, I TOLD you not to spill it!"

Not a shining mommy moment, to be sure.

Then she spilled the remaining yogurt.

I fumed, I fussed, I called the dentist's office to make alternative arrangements, I stomped around...and then I found the (twice lost, once found) other valium pill.  Lather, rinse, repeat, sans the spillage.  The dotter was quite valiant with the valium, taking repeated glops of yogurt until we got the entire dose down, even though it tasty funny and was crunchy.

And then...fifteen minutes later...the valium struck.

Oh, my. 

Long-time readers may recall the mocha birthday cake with chocolate-covered espresso beans.  We have dosed the child up with mood- or mind-altering drugs twice (by accident) prior to today, to wit: large amounts of caffeine in concentrated doses.  I hate to admit, but it was truly funny.

This was the first time I have dosed her up on purpose.  Last night, I realized what I was going to do, and a frisson of worry trickled down my spine.  Valium.  Favored drug for abuse by bored middle-aged housewives.  Gateway drug to bigger and better things.  Eww, in a mommy's mind.  Really.  It kind of gave me the willies to be dosing her up with the stuff, even though it was In A Good Cause.

The dotter on caffeine is hilarious (and tiring).  The dotter on valium is, alas, also hilarious, though much less work to keep up with.

In the car on the way to the dentist's office, she spewed a stream of consciousness happy crooning of silly stuff.  It was when she recited the "God is Great" prayer--as the prelude to the "snack" at "school"--in a high-pitched chipmunk voice and then followed up with, "I'm the helper!  I'm passing out the napkins!  Here, have one!  Oooh, I'm going to throw them all up in the air!  Wheee!  Catch!" that I started snickering to myself.

On the way into the dentist's office, she staggered a tiny bit from one side to the other and announced, "Oooh.  I'm all wobbly."

And afterwards, as we began the nap drive that I knew was inevitable, she proudly proclaimed, "I'm not going to go to sleep, I'll just do a few things first..." and then fell fast asleep in the next breath.

So now she has a "princess tooth" (the crown, you see) which she is very proud of, has had her first well-controlled dose of mood-altering drugs, is sort of dozy, and has a very good dental experience safely under her belt.  No scary dentist visits for her, thank heavens.

It's been a toothy week for the OmegaFamily; I had a filling put in last week, the dotter got her crown, and OmegaDad...sigh...

OmegaDad, whom I have been hounding to go to the dentist for years (what is it with guys and "toughing it out"?)...

A tooth split.  It happened to split just as every single dentist in town was heading out of town to go to the state dental convention.  I found out about this amazing convention when I tried to get him an urgent appointment at my dentist.  No go.  OmegaDad, when informed, toughed it out some more.  (Imagine a deep, gut-level Marine "Hnnnh!" grunt.)

By late Sunday afternoon, it was too much.  He was in pain, excruciating pain (he had been distracted during our expedition to the river).  I made record time back up the hill from Former State Capital back to Hippy Dippy Enclave in the Woods, worried that he was either going to pass out or going to smash his head into the dashboard to stop the pain.  It was not a fun drive; the only consolation was that the dotter, exhausted from sun and fun, was fast asleep and didn't get totally frantic.

Luckily, the gods smiled on us on Monday morning; as I was talking to the dentist's office staff, someone cancelled their 9 a.m. appointment, and OmegaDad was swiftly taken care of.

Hopefully, this is all the dental drama we will deal with for quite a while.

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posted by Kate @ 3/13/2007 04:46:00 PM   3 comments

A three-blogger day, or How The Dotter Learned To Love Algae

In the springtime, we like to venture down to the desert to one of our favorite little spots of perennially running water, the Yet Another Saint River.

This weekend, we swept up OmegaGranny (in lightweight camo pants) for the trip into the desert, and managed to hook up with Singing Bird and her husband as well (pre-arranged).  We met up at SBird's house, where I spent most of my time ogling her artwork.  I wanted to abscond with it all, though OmegaDad said to me, defensively, "Well, we have artwork!   We just don't have it on the walls!"--sad but true.  We have artwork that is in drawers, or rolled in tubes, most unframed, none on the walls.  Sigh.  Anyway, SBird's house is lovely and filled with  eclectic artwork and light, so I am envious.  OmegaDad, the chef chez OmegaFamily, merely lusted over the kitchen, wisting after all the counter space.

We loaded up the various picnic accoutrements, the Birds loaded up their (handsome and friendly) dogs, we all drove down through the lava flows and mesas, canyons and heaps of granite, and made it to the river.  This year, unfortunately, we have had little precipitation, so the river was mostly rivulets.  But there was enough to provide us with wet sand for sandcastles, plenty for itty-bitty little fishies to skitter through, and lots for the algae to bloom.  Some of the algae collected in luxurious clumps that looked like prehistoric trilobites, or maybe alien lifeforms come to colonize the earth...the rest floated sinuously down the swiftly flowing river in small fluffs and streamers.

The never-ending chant of the five-year-old:  "Ewww!"  Whenever a clump of algae slid down the river towards her, she would scream and run away, arcs of sparkling water droplets spraying behind her.  SBird and I took to calling out Algae Alerts for the sheer fun of watching her.

But one of SBird's dogs has an interesting quirk:  Fiona loves algae.  Really, really loves algae, especially when it is thrown for her to chase.  A charming small dog that likes to steal algae from your hands is a recipe for getting a resistant five-year-old to decide algae is O-Kay.

The end result:  the Dotter started collecting an amazing green lump of algae, sharing bits and pieces with Fiona.  She culminated the experience by plastering the huge collection of algae on her head, like a crown or an odd fuzzy green toupee.

OmegaDad muttered to me that putting it on the blog would be enough to cause any right-thinking parent out in blogland to call us unfit parents and sic child welfare services upon us.  Har.  Git yer dialin' fingers ready, folks:

So I have managed, somehow, someway, to get the dotter to delight in squishing through mud, and now in playing with oodles of algae.  Soon to come:  bugs and worms.

It was a lovely day, and it was grand meeting SBird and her husband.

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posted by Kate @ 3/12/2007 12:47:00 AM   3 comments

A gift of horses

OmegaGranny saw an ad in her local paper, and brought it to my attention. Do you think, she asked, OmegaDotter might like to see the Lippizaner stallions?

Is the Pope Catholic? Does the sun rise in the east?

In other words, yes.

We told her we were going to go see "dancing horses". She was thrilled. The show was grand. Here are some pics (I'd do a better job, but I'm not using my standard blogging tool):

Then we headed back to OmegaGranny's, and off to dinner at the Raven. Good eats, and live music, with live musicians. The dotter fell immediately in love with the guitar player, and flirted with him endlessly. When we left, she informed us, "I like that boy." OmegaGranny wanted to know how he compared to One and Only True Love, and wanted to know OOTL's name...I answered, "C.", and OmegaDotter, irked, said, "No! His name is Ben, and he's a big boy."

So, Ben, if you're out there, you have a fan. A quite enchanted fan.

(Sorry for the layout, folks!)

posted by Kate @ 3/10/2007 08:42:00 PM   4 comments

Contrary magic

Contrary magic is when you have a picnic planned and, just to be sure, you have a rain date.

Or, say you have the picnic planned, and don't have a rain date.  Then it is sure to rain cats and dogs (at least, this is what happens in the Midwest).

So, imagine there's a blogger.  This blogger goes on a long, lyrical description of how adoption issues are just a small part of life, and mostly it's just background that you have to think about now and then.

Of course, as soon as that blogger hits "publish" on that particular post, the Gods, in all their wisdom and snarky humor, start tossing out adoption issues.  Oh, nothing major, mind you.  Just something to keep that blogger, filled with hubris, on her toes.

The OmegaFamily has a routine on weekday mornings.  OmegaDad, who has to be at work at 7:30 and has a boss who gives him the hairy eyeball if he's five minutes late, wakes up, dashes into the bathroom, and Does His Stuff.  Ever a man who goes against the flow, he doesn't follow the typical pattern for male showering.  In other words, he stays in there a long time.

Then he dashes out, cajoles a hug and kiss from the dotter, gets a hug and kiss from me, and dashes out the front door.

This leaves me doing most of the morning stuff with the dotter.

Our routine has developed into mommy selects dotter's clothes for the day.  Mommy puts them in a pile.  Mommy places the pile on the dining table in the living room.  Mommy informs dotter that the clothes are there.  Mommy goes to get her own clothes.  Mommy goes into the bathroom.  Mommy plops her clothes on the toilet seat, brushes her teeth, declothes, and gets into the shower.

At this point, dotter barrels into the bathroom with her clothes heap, announces, "May I go potty, Mommy?!", mommy coaches dotter (for the umpteenth time) to remove her (mommy's) clothes from the toilet seat, and for Gawd's sake, just pee.  This is a daily routine.  Honestly.  By now, you'd think she'd realize (especially since I tell her) that she doesn't need to ask my permission, and that, to pee, she just has to move my clothes.  I've stopped asking why she won't use Daddy's bathroom (maybe because I wouldn't use Daddy's bathroom, either...).

This morning, while mommy was dousing her hair with shampoo and dotter was on the pot, dotter asks, "Was I in your tummy, Mommy?"

Blink.  Talk about deja vu.  Wasn't I just mentioning this in one of my blog posts?  Like, say, yesterday?

"No, sweetie, you grew in your Chinese mommy's tummy."  (I wasn't in the mood to go into the long explanation about uteri again.)

"Oh.  What's her name?"

"I don't know, sweetie."

"Is she nice?"

"I don't know, sweetie.  I think so."

"Can we go see her?"

"Someday, baby, we'll go back to China.  I don't think you can see her, because we don't know where she is."

"Was I a nice baby, Mommy?"

At which point, I open the shower door, poke my head out, smile at her, and say, "You were an awesome baby, sweetie!"

She grinned at me.

It all went by fast.  No audible angst, just conversation.  But I thought it was a very interesting connection--talk about birthmother, then question about what kind of baby she was.  Sort of a little subtext going on there.

Okay, Gods, I give.  Stop whapping me over the head.  I get the point.  Sheesh.

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posted by Kate @ 3/09/2007 07:20:00 PM   6 comments

Okay, so I left something out

And it reared up its head and roared at me today.

The dotter was puttering around, and somehow, in the midst of her puttering, she was talking about brown skin, and how all the kids at school would go, "Ewwww!" about brown skin.

Sigh.  Time for another talk with Miss Ruth about some diversity emphasis at school.

So, yeah, there's more than sunshine & soft-focus fun.

But, still, being prepared keeps you from feeling quite like someone has punched you in the gut when your daughter just casually tosses a little bombshell like that into conversation.

Yes, with transracial adoption, there are additional issues that, actually, you think about and breathe and live almost every day.

There's the "You have pink skin and mine looks kind of dirty" commentary.

There's the worry about discrimination and differences, and when they'll show up, and how to prepare your child to be strong and capable and able to believe, within themselves, that brown skin isn't something to go "Ewwww!" about.

There's the question of having an entry in your calendar at work ready to blare at you that it's TIME TO REGISTER FOR CULTURE CAMP!!!  And knowing you have, at most, one hour before registration fills up.  (Okay, today it took two minutes.  TWO MINUTES.  I was registered, and by the time I got OmegaDad into the shopping basket [what an intriguing image that is!], he was on the wait list.  Yes.  TWO MINUTES.)  And then the planning to take time off from work so you can drive out there, and hoping you get some info ahead of time of what the H(e)art Talk will be about for kindergarteners.  And realizing that you're likely to have a few weeks of emotional upheaval when you get home.  And realizing that it's all worth it, because the dotter needs it.

But even so, it becomes just part of the tapestry of your life.  It's not overwhelming.  (Okay, some days it is.)  It's not constant.  It weaves in and out.  It's something you need to keep in mind when it comes time to register for school (which is more important:  diversity?  Academics?  Arts?  The school where One and Only True Love is going to attend?).  You become dreadfully aware of just how white a tried-and-true memory from childhood, Pat The Bunny, really is.  (Oh, yeah, and sexist, to boot.)

You think of ways to encourage her to think of her heritage as something to be proud of.

You look for kids' books that aren't all white, that are, equally importantly, not PC mush and are fun.

You cringe at old cartoons, which, while they're full of much more innocent fun than today's, are also full of much more blatant stereotypes.

You try contacting Small Mountain University's accelerated English learning program, because you know that SMU has managed to wangle a "cultural exchange" with a bunch of Chinese universities.

You keep up with FCC activities, even though they are a lick and a swipe, because a lick and a swipe is better than nothing, and it's a venue where your daughter isn't the Token Asian.

You stumble along trying to learn a little bit of Mandarin--knowing, even so, that it may not be her birthparents' language.

Pluses and minuses.  But there is, all the time, a lot of joy.  And a helluva lot of time being just ordinary parents, struggling with ordinary parenting things.

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posted by Kate @ 3/08/2007 07:56:00 PM   5 comments

A limited-time engagement

Connie Stevens, eat your heart out.

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posted by Kate @ 3/07/2007 11:18:00 PM   10 comments

Joy

A noted infertility blogger just went off to a weekend-long agency introduction to adoption; an adoption extravaganza, as it were.  It sounded pretty intense.  There were folks at all stages in the adoption triad--birthmothers, adoptive parents, adult adoptees, potential adoptive parents, teenage adoptees.  Lots of crying.

Some commenters thought it sounded like a graduate studies "intro" course--where the prof's idea is to overwhelm the students, and the small percentage who lasted through the entire course were the ones who were committed.

Some commenters thought it sounded like all they focused on was the Bad Stuff.

So.  The Bad Stuff does exist, certainly.  I've written about various aspects here on this blog.  Unethical adoptions.  Potential birthmothers who feel coerced.  Adoptive parents who aren't told all the gory details about this particular adoption situation.  Adult adoptees who feel like neither fish nor fowl; not fully part of their adoptive families (or culture), not fully part of their birthfamilies (or culture).

Lots of stuff to think about.

Yes, it's good to get an idea of the Bad Stuff.  To go in With Eyes Wide Open.  It's like being a Boy Scout:  be prepared.  That way, when the Bad Stuff happens, it's not a surprise.

But y'know what?  Most of adoptive parenting is just...being a parent, dealing with the standard stuff of parenting.

Am I doing a good job?  What on earth is that thing that just went up my dotter's nose?!  How soon can I get a doctor's appointment?  What's the best school to put the child into?  How do I know when the crying means something serious is happening, versus just "I'm angry and I really, really want you to know it!!"?  Why is my child putting all her toys on the floor where I'm going to step on them in the middle of the night? 

Ice cream cones.  Jumping in mud puddles.  Snow angels.  Learning to draw hearts.  Bedtime stories.  Playdates.  Ballet lessons.  Best friends forever.  Bicycles.  Artwork on the refrigerator.

Adoptive parenting has some extra stuff:  No, you didn't grow in my tummy; I wish you had.  I don't know where your birthmother is.  Yes, you look different than me.  We'll go to China someday so you can see where you were born.

Maybe some attachment issues.  Maybe some sensory issues.  Maybe some unexpected genetic problems.  Maybe.

But if there are issues, they're not insurmountable.  It's not continuous.  It's not a day-in, day-out dirge of "oh-you-poor-thing-you-were-adopted-and-you-will-forever-be-hurting".  It's definitely not an endless feeling of not being entitled to be a parent to this child!  It is, now and then, a wistful wondering of what the birthparents were like...what the reasons were that this child was abandoned...where she got her musical ability...did her parents have eyebrows that fly up like hers?

As your child gets older, you find yourself cramming more and more activities into your life.  Ballet lessons.  Ice skating.  Birthday parties.  Doctor and dentist appointments.  Registration for this, that, and the other.  You get swept along on the tide of life, and realize, suddenly, that your little baby is no longer a baby, but definitely a little girl, who is charging forward into life with zest and interest.  Maybe with a little adjustment here and there to accommodate things you never thought you'd have to accommodate--a "Metcha Day"...a fear of being alone...an ungodly love of horses...

But it's life.  It sweeps along.  You run along with it, leading your child behind you, until one day you realize your child is leading you, dashing headlong forward into the future, and you realize that one day...one day you will have to let go of her hand, let her ride the bicycle of life without your steadying hand holding her upright.

And there is Joy.  Sparkling laughter.  Dancing in the living room.  Discovering new things.  Explaining what a volcano is.  Hugs.  Kisses.

Joy.

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posted by Kate @ 3/07/2007 08:30:00 PM   5 comments

A walk in the snow

It was another glorious almost-springlike day on Sunday, and OmegaDad, buried under his Ethnic Studies coursework, wanted to Be Alone.  So I hauled OmegaDotter out hiking in the woods at the bottom of Hippy Dippy Enclave in the Woods.  The plan was to follow the old railroad grade out southward, but the dotter had other ideas, and struck out cross-country very shortly after we hit the grade.

So we wandered along, walking on old patches of snow that had crusty tops, clambering over piles of old branches, peering at lichen-covered rocks, eyeballing the (very few) little plants that were poking out and thinking that maybe, just maybe, it was time to think of growing.

I persuaded the dotter to take a picture of me.  The first, alas, was just my bottom half, but we laughed, she took the camera back, and aimed again.  The result:  I didn't crop the picture at all!

While the dotter was poking at the snow, and scooping up crystalline clumps of ice, I was finding things to look at, myself.  The bold black and grey stumps standing out against the snow are the result of long-ago logging in this area; before HDEW was a vacation home spot, it was a logging camp (that is also the reason there's an old railroad grade).

A few of the tree trunks were looking the way they would look in summertime--bright yellow bark plates surrounded by black edges.  In the summertime, in the heat, in the midst of the sound of bees buzzing and breezes sighing through the needles, if you press your nose against the bark of these old trees, and take a deep breath through your nose, you are overwhelmed by an aroma of eggnog:  nutmeg, vanilla, other scents blend together into a heady pronouncement of the season.  I was lured by the vision of the bark into taking a whiff; alas, it wasn't warm enough to produce that special Ponderosa Pine fragrance.

In spots, there were areas of very thin ice, which had rumped--maybe by the winds, maybe from the action of melting and freezing again.  They made very satisfying crackling crunches when you stepped on them, but they were so beautiful in the sunlight that I had to stop the dotter from doing that more than once or twice!

After a while, OmegaDotter said that she had had enough.  "This is a long walk!" she pronounced.  I find it wonderful that she has reached the point where she knows she's gone too long, and knows that we will need to take just as much to get back--and this point is reached ever-so-slightly further each time we go out.  Ahhh.  Someday, we'll be doing real hikes!

So we turned around and climbed back up to the bottom of HDEW, to get into the car and head into town for lunch.  We were both very hungry by this point!

 We got all the way into town before I realized (oops!) that I had left my wallet (including--gasp!--driver's license) at home.  We drove back home, drove back into town, ate, hit the road for a nap ride, and then headed off to the mall, so the dotter could play at the mall playground.

Then we went to Clare's.  Ahem.  It is the epitome of girly-girl places.  And OmegaDotter is just now beginning to really get into girly-girlishness.  There were hair doo-dads--the dotter decided she wanted the kitty-cat with the basketball and the basketball ribbon (?).  As the cashier was ringing it up, she asked if we were interested in the "surprise bags", a buck apiece.  Oh, my.  How could I resist?  I grabbed one, we paid, we left, we whisked past all the stores closing up their doorways, and in the car, the dotter sank into a glory of bright blue charm bracelets, her very own chapstick, a little pot of blue glitter dust, and, to top it all off, little faux diamond earrings that fasten with magnets!

Alas, the spring weather has brought other harbingers of things to come:  the state had its first red flag warning of the season this week, and this morning, on the way to preschool, we passed the area forest service office which was swarmed with Wildland Fire Fighting trucks.  We've had a very dry winter, with only half the normal amount of snow.  This means my loyal readers will be hearing more moaning and groaning about fire season very soon...

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posted by Kate @ 3/05/2007 07:40:00 PM   4 comments

Tap, tap, tap...Is this thing on, here?

::blows on microphone::

::skwee of feedback::

Ahem.  OmegaMom is blushing. 

AtypicalBrat (or is that ATypicalBrat?  Interesting how changing one letter reverses the meaning...), of Nonsensical Text, nominated me for a Thinking Blogger Award, specifically citing one of my adoption posts.  Furthermore, she says my posts are always thought-provoking to her.

ATypical also awarded Jouette, one of my long-time buds, for her writing so beautifully about her love for her husband and children. Two more of my long-time buds have also been tagged with the Thinking Blogger Award:  Julie, at Ravin' Picture Maven, and C., over at Blogs Are Stupid.  I have my issues with C., but when she ditches the four-syllable words and writes from the heart, she's very good.

Man!  This is going to be hard to live up to!  I'm supposed to tag five other blogs, but I want to think about this for a while.

In addition, the splendid Miss Cellania has kindly nominated me for the 2006 Best of Blogs award under the category "Best Adoption/Fertility Blog".  One of the qualifications is that the blogs must be small, getting less than 100 unique hits per day--some days, I go over that 100 hits, but right now, I'm averaging about 88/89 per day.  You should check out some of the other nominees; Stirrup Queens looks like it would get my own vote.  If the category were broken out between adoption and infertility, I'd be much more willing to toot my own horn, but I tend to think they're very separate issues, and think there's more need for a good IF blog.  Once one moves to adoption, or has adopted, there's a whole slew of other aspects to discover, but the gut-wrenching emotional need for support or being able to work through the issues is a lot more immediate with infertility (IMO).

Anyway, I'd like to thank my mom, my late dad, my husband, my dotter, and all my friends and lovers and teachers in the past for helping me become thoughtful enough to qualify.  I'd also like to thank the Academy, the press, the designer of my splendid ballgown, and my makeup artist for making me presentable.

Thanks, guys!

NEWS ROUNDUP:

Did anyone see the lunar eclipse?  I forgot about it!  (Hanging head in shame.)  We wouldn't have been able to see the really cool effect of the moon turning red, because the moon is rising early here these days, and the eclipse was on while the sun was up.  But I was interested in seeing what it would look like during daylight.

A former Canadian defense minister says that we need to use UFO technology to combat global warming.

Switzerland invades Lichtenstein!

Hilary Clinton's graduate thesis was ordered sealed by the Clinton administration, but has since been unsealed.  Reading the story, I'm not quite sure what the reasoning was behind having it sealed, as it sounds pretty tame to this semi-liberal-libertarianish person.  It's an examination of the theory and tactics behind a one-time famous Chicago rabble-rouser.  I suppose they thought conservatives would foam at the mouth about it? 

Ann Coulter very carefully doesn't call John Edwards a faggot.  Bah.  Whether one supports Edwards or not, that was icky.  But then, she tends to the icky side.

New cars and warehouse scooters that run on compressed air.

Next up:  God, belief, and evolution.  Should be fun!

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posted by Kate @ 3/04/2007 10:03:00 AM   4 comments

WordPress server hacked

Wow.

I know some of my readers use WordPress, so I thought I'd pass this on:

"If you downloaded WordPress 2.1.1 within the past 3-4 days, your files may include a security exploit that was added by a cracker, and you should upgrade all of your files to 2.1.2 immediately."

Seems that someone busted into the server, altered the files so that any WordPress installs of that version were easily hijacked to run malicious code.

Most of you probably won't be affected, but there are folks who regularly update their software to take advantage of bug fixes and new features.  If you know anyone who's running WordPress, pass the word on.

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posted by Kate @ 3/03/2007 10:10:00 AM   0 comments

Sleepless in New York

Yesterday, the New York Times tossed a story onto the front of their living section, "Whose Bed Is It Anyway?", featuring chic and privileged New York couples who are struggling with their children encroaching on their bed space.

Oh, I so sympathize.  The article, however, doesn't.  Nor do lots of people commenting on the article.

The article talks about "sleep specialists", who charge a pretty hefty fee to see parents and their children.  The article proclaims:  "Ms. Kunhardt and others suggest that parents, stung by the sometimes arbitrary boundaries set by their own parents, are concerned to a fault with the emotional well-being of their children."  Another says, "Mostly the origin of the problem is the difficulty parents have in setting appropriate limits", and then blames the fact that parents just can't say "No."

Many of the comments are the same:  "It's easy...don't put them there in the first place!"  "Why hire a sleep specialist when all you need to do is set limits?  It's just basic Parenting 101."  "...all these stories of kids who just won't go to bed until midnight, and so forth, drive me crazy. Come on, people, parenting is not a democracy. It's *your* job to teach your children behaviors that will help them be successful adults, not just to be their best buddies..."  "Let 'em sleep on the floor!"  "In addition to ensuring nobody sleeps well, the family bed just screams major codependency issues."  "BABIES DO NOT BELONG IN YOUR BED."  "...either the parent trains the child, or the child trains the parent..in this case, it looks like the children are winning the battle..."  "Another disasterous example of insecure, weak willed, and incompetent parenting!"

The implication--or even outright statement--is that any parent who does this is unable to say "No" to their child at all, that their children have no limits, that their children will be forever psychologically scarred by having them in bed with the parents, yadda, yadda, yadda.

My only wish is that each and every one of these people has a child like OmegaDotter. 

We weren't trying to "be her buddy".  We weren't codependent.  Our dotter wasn't "winning the battle"--hell, no.  She was losing the battle.  She was terrified.  We're not talking a child who cries quietly for 8, 10 minutes, then sniffles herself to sleep--we're talking a child who went into full-fledged, terrified hysterics at being left alone.  Period.  Who did the same thing if she woke up alone after a nap.  Who did the same thing if she woke up in some place different than where she fell asleep.  The times we tried the standard advice of putting child to bed, going in at 5 minutes, then after 10 more minutes, then after 15 more minutes--by the time we reached the third go-round, she was hysterical enough so that none of us got any sleep at all those nights.  And it didn't change, night after night after night of this.  The nights that she did go to sleep, she would wake up two hours later (you could set your clock by that) in night terrors.

Sorry, all you parenting experts out there.  We weren't going to let our child scream herself into hysterics night after night after night forever.

One comment I read was from a child development psychologist who said that kids needing to sleep with their parents was a sign of anxious attachment--hear, hear.  Then, he ruined it by stating categorically that it was the parents' fault that the child had the anxious attachment, and, once again, that parents who do this are setting the child up for Damaging Psychological Problems as adults.

B.S.

Y'know, some kids are just born like that.  Some kids are premies who spent the first few weeks of their lives in incubators, separated from their parents.  Some kids are fine up until they reach a certain age.  Some kids need it for just a while, while they're going through transitions.  Some kids are dealing with childhood trauma (like our dotter).  Some kids need a long, long, slow, gentle process.  And some kids do just fine sleeping on their own from the very beginning, and actively resist sleeping with their parents.

OmegaDotter sleeps in a nest by our bed.  It's not perfect.  But she has started talking about wanting to sleep in her bedroom--a little bit.  We're not going to push it this time--the nest is okay with us.  We get to sleep together, without the writhing, squirming, arms-akimbo, foot-kneading child in bed with us, and we sleep the night through; she sleeps all night through and is a happier, healthier child as a result.

OmegaMom wanders off, grumbling about interolerance...

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posted by Kate @ 3/02/2007 09:19:00 PM   7 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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