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Monday, December 10, 2012

The Violet


The Holiday Issue of The Violet is here! 

I love this magazine: the recipes, the photos, the stories, and the wonderfully creative women who put their hearts and souls into creating it. 

I'm so thankful I got to be a part of this issue.

Click here to check it out. Happy Reading (and happy holidays)!

Friday, November 16, 2012

It'll Be A While


During our foster parenting class, someone asked how long cases typically take. The social worker said something like "typically between 6 and 14 months, but sometimes longer." In my head I translated that time frame as "Doable and OMG-WHAT-AN-ETERNAL-NIGHTMARE." 

On that note I would like to welcome you to my fourteenth month of foster parenting. I would like to say that it has not been an eternal nightmare. The last three months have actually been really nice. The five months before that were... I survived them. The six months before that were also not that bad and totally doable.

If you've ever been to Disneyland and ridden Splash Mountain, you know that the whole ride builds up to a big drop. One time I was on Splash Mountain and someone got out of the their little log seat before the drop, so in order to help that person off the ride the Disney ride operators stopped all the log carts. At the time I was sitting about halfway up the clickety-clackety ramp, just moments from going over the edge. Our cart halted, leaving us hanging, waiting, unsure of when we would start again, anticipating the plunge ahead but not entirely sure of when it would hit us. I'm never nervous about roller coasters, but for some reason that pause in the ride gave me so much anxiety.

Of course after the ride began again, we shot down the waterfall and everything was fine. Naturally we got wet, but I was relieved to know that I didn't have to wait or anticipate the drop anymore.

In terms of our foster care experience I feel like last Spring was the "halted-on-the-way-up" portion - we splashed pretty hard this Summer - and now we aren't quite in Zippity-Do-Da territory, but we're drying off and catching our breath. We're rounding the bend... but this bend is going to be a long one.

We found out this week that it will be about two months until the court sets that date for parental rights to be terminated. Then Mason's biological parents still have 4 months, before rights are terminated, in which they can appeal. The appeal could add an additional 6-12 months on to the length of the case. It is only after parental rights are terminated that we can begin our adoption process - and that (at its speediest) will probably take 4 months. Again, these are just my estimates. Everything can always take much longer.

So what I'm learning is this: patience.

Ugh. I HATE patience. It is my least favorite Fruit of the Spirit, my most challenging virtue, yet it is currently my primary task (not to mention the amount of patience I have to exude on a minute-by-minute basis with my little Wild Man).

About 8 months ago I was crying and praying and I said "Please God, whatever lesson you're trying to teach me here, I just want to learn it and be done."

Naturally, the lesson I'm supposed to learn can only be fully comprehended in t-i-m-e. However, I am thankfully learning this lesson. I am - shockingly - discovering patience inside of me. Now, I am not a deep well of patience, but I am - stupidly - praying that I become one. This concept, this deep well of patience idea, came to a few months ago, and I surprised myself by wanting to have a patience that just flows inside of me. A patience that I can always draw from. A patience that extends beyond myself and gives to others. 

I know that 14 months ago I DID NOT want this well. A lot of the time I still think that it's one of my more horrible ideas, but I am learning. I'm growing. What I thought sounded like an eternal nightmare has turned out to be super, really hard, but also really good for me. Of course now I live with the terror that once I discover this deep well of patience inside of myself that I'm going to have to use it and draw from it and everything in life is going to long and arduous, but that's not a totally rational fear, and I know it.

I have a friend who uses the phrase "in the fullness of time." When I first heard her say it years ago, I didn't know what it meant, but I thought it sounded like a nice idea. I think - in my very long journey towards patience - I'm learning what that phrase means, and I can appreciate that.




Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Where the Wild Things Are




Kiah and I often joke that Mason's alter ego is Max from Where the Wild Things Are. We read that book on a near daily basis, and it's no surprise that Mason loves it. Recently I've been wondering when we noticed that Mason was so wild and mischievous. Then today I was rummaging through some blog post drafts that I haven't published here for one reason or another - usually because I stopped working on them and then forgot they existed - and I found this half post that I wrote when Mason was 11 months old:


I've noticed a trend in Mason's increasing energy level. Every time he increases his mobility, he also increases his energy. I so vividly remember a Wednesday night when Mason was 4 months old. He had firmly mastered the front to back roll over and had recently learned that he could stand on my legs (while I held him under his armpits) and jump. He was the reigning king of 20-Minute Nap Land, which means that he was awake A LOT. On this particular evening I didn't have to work, Mason didn't go to bed til 8:30 or 9:00, and Kiah was at soccer practice. Mason was requiring a lot of entertainment on that particular Wednesday. He didn't want to be in his bouncy chair. He didn't want to be in his swing. He didn't want to lay underneath his play gym. He wanted me to sing, dance, jump, play, and entertain him for HOURS. Kiah called after soccer to see if I needed anything from the store, and I practically begged him to come home. I remember thinking that Mason had to be the most active baby ever.
I WAS WRONG. 
4 Month Old Mason has nothing on 11 Month Old Mason.

So basically that little reflection reminded me that we've been thinking Mason was generally wild... since 4 months old. But oh dear, sweet mother of Mason at 11 months old. You had it so good, and you were right about one thing: 4 month old Mason really did have nothing on 11 Month old Mason, but 16 month old Mason TAKES THE CAKE. When Mason is skateboarding off the roof in elementary school, I'm sure I'll be looking back at the myself now and say "Girl, you don't even know."

I still vividly remember that Wednesday when Mason was 4 months old. It was also the night that I realized making dinner while Mason was awake would be a skill that I would have to acquire. (Note: I have not yet fully mastered that skill with every dish, but I have - thankfully- learned a lot in the last year).

Actually, now that I think about it, that night when I thought I would never make dinner again was almost exactly a year ago. What amazes me more is how it seems like Mason's case had gone on for 100 years, yet I feel like he was that little four month old jumping bean just last month. Now he's a big ol' toddler jumping bean who's climbing and jumping (and sometimes flipping) off nearly every piece of furniture in the house. Thankfully he's learned to strip the couch of its cushions so that he can pad his landings (and increase the jumping surface area of course). Most mornings when I hear him jumping in his bed calling for us I think "Let the wild rumpus start."

Still, regardless of how tired I am in 5, 10, or 15 years, I will always love my little wild man and know that I will be thankful he's my son for every second of every day.

"we'll eat you up—we love you so!"

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Summons

We got the court summons today for Mason's 12 Month Review Hearing. This is the first time we've received a court summons for Mason's case. Of course, we're always allowed to attend court, but it's not required. In this case our presence is still not required, but it's nice to have all the details.

On the last page there's a little box for the social worker's recommendation. It simply reads "FR to PP."

Those six letters mean a lot to me. They mean that the social worker wants to move from Family Reunification (which is what we've been doing for the last 12 months) to Permanent Placement (with us!). No one is recommending continued services this time. The road to adoption could still be a long one, but at least I can be mostly confident (barring any unexpected changes) that it's the road we're on.

I'm getting used to thinking about Mason's permanence in our family. So used to it, in fact, that I shopped for Christmas pj's for him this morning. Yeah. I know. That's what I call comfortably planning in advance. It wasn't even scary.

Here's what I've got so far:

Holiday PJ's



I know it's prematurely festive and a little materialistic, but considering that five months ago I could hardly plan a first birthday party I'm going to call it progress.


Monday, October 29, 2012

A Comment on the Comments

Today this video was posted over at Rage Against The Minivan. It's super funny and totally spot on.

As a transracial family, we get a lot of comments. I think it would be accurate to say that at least one person comments on Mason, his hair, the fact that we aren't the same race, adoption, or something along those lines every time we go anywhere. This is not including all of the people who stare at us or who go on and on about how cute Mason is. Now, I really don't mind 10-15 different people at Target stopping me to tell me that my son is beautiful. It is a little weird when people slow down their cars in the parking lot to hang out the window and comment on Mason's adorableness (this has happened 3 times), but he is super cute and I don't mind the compliments. But not all the comments are so complimentary, and a lot of them just aren't necessary.

I had a couple friends respond to this video with questions. They wanted to know how to inquire about adoption to transracial families and/or what kinds of comments are appropriate to make. These are great questions, and I love when people ask those kinds of things!

For the most part, the comments people make are not usually rude or offensive. Telling me my son is adorable isn't bothersome to me (I do hate it when strangers touch his hair though). Saying "you're the nanny, right?"... well, yeah that's sort of annoying. Asking me how I managed to get such a young baby from Africa is kind of uninformed but not too bothersome. But saying things like "So I bet he like has a drug mom, right? That's how you got him" or "He's so cute! How could anyone give him up? What was wrong with the real mom that she would do that?" I tend to think those comments are obviously inappropriate. Not only are they demeaning and degrading to the birth parents, but even if those questions were asked in a nicer manner, the answers are private. For some reason the fact that I don't look like my son seems to give complete strangers the impression that they have license to ask highly personal information about family history.


I think what people need to ask themselves before they inquire about the dynamics of the family standing in line in front of them at Starbucks is this: Why am I asking this question? What do I hope to gain from this question? How could my question affect these people? If someone asked me the same question about my children, how would I feel?

It's pretty clear to me when people are being nosy and rude. However, when people tell me that their nephew is adopted or their grand-daughter is a foster parent, or when they tell me that they've thought about adoption and want to know more, or if they're asking a genuine question in a kind and respectful manner, I'm more than happy to talk with them. 

About a year and a half ago I did a post on appropriateness, and now that I've been a foster-to-adopt mom for over a year all of those thoughts still ring true. Someone once asked me if having Mason made me want to have my own kids more, and it actually made me feel like I'd been punched in the stomach. As I stood there holding my beautiful three-month old baby boy, I could hardly form words. The person who said this wasn't meaning to be offensive. This person honestly didn't know.

As a foster parent and as an adoptive parent and as a mother of a transracial family, my job is to offer grace, to think about the meaning behind the words people are saying, and to offer helpful explanations when necessary. For those inquiring, I think it's appropriate for you to pause before asking or commenting, think about the language you are using, remember that you're asking about someone's family, and - I think this one should go without saying - if you can't think of anything nice to say then don't say anything at all.


If you haven't seen the video yet, I highly recommend it. It's a great one!



Thursday, October 18, 2012

True Life: I'm Allergic to Pat the Bunny

First of all, I had no intention of hating Pat the Bunny. It's a great "touch and feel" book, and I know that it's one of those children's classics that lots of people read when they were little and feel nostalgic about. What I didn't remember about the book - that I've discovered now as an adult - is that the flowers in the book actually have a smell.


It would make sense for the publisher to give the flowers a real scent if the children are supposed to be smelling the flowers like Paul. Still, I did not remember this from my childhood. For probably a week after we received the book - before I opened it - I could not for the life of me figure out why Mason's room smelled like my great-grandmother's bathroom. I had to actually sniff out the location of the scent, and it was then that I discovered "Now YOU smell the flowers." Instant congestion. Sneezing fit. Scratching in the back of my throat. True life: I'm allergic to Pat the Bunny.

What's weird is that I still haven't gotten rid of the book. It's like I somehow keep forgetting that those flowers get me every single time. We'll go weeks without reading it, and then Mason will pull it off the shelf and bring it over to me. The second I open it up I'm reminded. 

So aside from being a marginally amusing anecdote, I want this blog post to serve as a reminder: I need to give that book away.

If you would like a copy of Pat the Bunny (that somehow, despite our infrequent readings, has lost it's cover) please let me know. I would happily seal it in a zip-loc bag and send it your way. It's really a darling book, I promise... but not if you have allergies.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal

When Mason first started solid foods I read the book Super Baby Food. This is probably the world's most intimidating baby food book, but it was recommended to me by my pediatrician (who I LOVE). So I read it... not cover to cover because it's seriously bigger than a Bible and far less significant, but I read kind of a lot of it.

Of all the things this book said - and it said lots of things - the concept that I liked the most was the way the author suggested doing oatmeal. Basically, her idea is that you jam as much stuff into oatmeal as possible. She calls is "super porridge," and it's the foundation of the baby's diet from 6months - 1 yr. This make-oatmeal-and-fill-it-with-fruits-and-vegetables concept sounded really doable to me. Plus, my friend Anna had told me that she did something similar with her son. He was alive and well, so I figured it was at least worth trying.

Now, I haven't talked a lot about my baby food/baby feeding thoughts on this blog, but the gist of it is this: I don't like making extra stuff for Mason. I do when I need to, but I like to give him what we're eating as much as possible. Obviously, things like salad are not going to work at this juncture, and not just because he only has 4 teeth. Therefore, I didn't really want to make any of the suggested weird oatmeal concoctions (e.g. Nutritional yeast, avocado, banana, spinach puree oatmeal) because a) that sounds disgusting and b) I was also eating the oatmeal. I could try and turn my laziness into some sort of pretentious feeding philosophy, but basically if I'm making something I'm going to eat it.

Enter Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal. I've made it a little more fun in the last 8 months, and Mason LOVES it. In fact, there was a period of time when he didn't like plain oatmeal, but only ate oatmeal with pumpkin in it. He didn't have all the "spice" until probably 10 months, but I'm telling you canned pumpkin in oatmeal is where it's at.

We took a little pumpkin oatmeal hiatus over the summer, and Mason jumped on board the daddy breakfast train with Kiah and had eggs. But now it's fall. Organic canned pumpkin is back at Trader Joe's. We stocked up and this morning was our first pumpkin oatmeal of the season.

Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal

Ingredients

2 cups old fashioned oats 
1/2 can organic pumpkin 
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 apple
1 pint blueberries
handful walnuts
maple syrup or agave or honey to taste

Directions
Make 2 cups of oatmeal the "creamier way" - this means that you put the oats, water, and a pinch of salt all into the pot at the same time; bring to a boil then simmer.
Once the oatmeal is simmering add 1/2 can of organic pumpkin (I freeze the remainder in an ice cube tray).
Stir in nutmeg, cinnamon and some of your sweetener. Usually I use agave, but this morning we were out, so I used maple syrup. I usually start with a tsp of both nutmeg and cinnamon and then add in a little more to taste at the end. Same with sweetener.
When the oatmeal has simmered for 3-5 min, spoon into a bowl and top with chopped apples, blueberries, walnuts and a drizzle of syrup/agave/honey.*

*Mason doesn't like fruit inside of his oatmeal, so I set him up in his high chair with chopped apples, blueberries and walnuts while I'm making the oatmeal. This makes my process a little easier, and he stays happy.



Enjoy!