Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Little black babies everywhere!"

Yesterday Zoey and I tried out a new mom and baby class at the gym. It was part music class and part dance/movement class. The instructor--let's call her Barbie--was a tall, tan, hot, fake-blond who was rocking some tight yoga pants and a teeny fit t-shirt. And she was wearing a baseball cap that had rhinestones and glitter on it. Being one who believes that a person's head wear and level of spray-tan tells a lot about them, I assumed we were in trouble. Then she spoke to us.

"So, obviously you adopted?" she chirped. I wasn't a big fan of the use of the word 'obviously' but I smiled and nodded anyway. "So she's from Africa, right?" My smile got tighter and thinner.

"Actually no, she was born in Connecticut."

Barbie was unfazed and there wasn't even a flicker of 'Oh-crap,-I may-have-just-said-the-wrong-thing' across her face. I began to suspect botox as there wasn't that much facial movement at all. Barbie continued, "Oh. Well I have these friends who have 4 of their own kids and then they decided to get another one and they picked a little black baby too, even though they already had some of their own!"

Now at this point, the first thing I should have said was, "I believe the term you're looking for is 'biological child' because Zoey is my own child." Note: this wasn't the first thing I wanted to say. But it was the first thing I could say in front of my child that didn't have 4 letter words other than 'term' and 'Zoey'. But instead of swearing or saying something useful I said, "Well . . . that's great." Yeah, some advocate/social worker/mom I am.

Barbie was still unfazed and didn't seem to notice the look of shock on my face. She went on happily, "Yeah, and then, my other friends adopted from Russia! They went over there to pick out the baby and there was only this one little black baby in the orphanage, because they don't like black babies there, and they picked the little black baby!!!! It's great because little black babies have trouble finding homes you know. But those friends still want a baby of their own."

I wildly scanned the room and looked towards the door hopefully. Was anyone else hearing this? The room was empty and Zoey was busy eating the buckles on the stroller. I tried sending her a telepathic message to do a really stinky poop. But no luck. I was alone with Barbie. I yet again cursed my anal retentive quality that perceives anything other than arriving 15 minutes early as being late.

This might have been as good a time as any to jump in and say that Zoey isn't only African-American, she is also Latino. I don't want half of her racial/ethnic identity to be ignored because it's less visual, and I also don't want to sound like I have a problem with her blackness. That's a fine line to walk. And I don't know how to do it yet. So instead I said, "Adoption is a great thing." I could have at least faked a sudden headache and gotten out of there. But no. I had to stick around for the next train wreck...

"Yeah, and my neighbors? They're black. And they have little black babies too!!" Barbie seemed very pleased about this. She even flipped her blond hair back in excitement.

I had to ask, "Oh... They adopted?"

Now, before you read on, prepare yourself for her response... Are you sitting? Okay...

Barbie squealed, "No! The black babies are their own kids! There's just little black babies everywhere!!"

I literally had no response to this. None. Except to think, Damn Niki for being out of town and missing this.

Barbie's parting comment was, "Well, I have to go get ready to start class. But don't worry, maybe one day you can still have a baby of your own!" And she pirouetted off across the room. After I retrieved my jaw off the floor I wanted to yell after her to come back, that I wasn't done with her yet. I wanted to tell her that she needs to rethink her assumption that every person who's adopted a child still wants to have 'one of their own.' Adoption isn't settling. We are proud of our adoption story and we are proud of our daughter. I don't lay awake at night feeling a gaping whole in my life because I have not been pregnant or given birth. At night I lie in bed picking cheerios out of my hair, exhausted, just like all the other mothers.

But Barbie was on the other side of the room stretching and welcoming other moms and kids. We weren't going to come to any kind of understanding today. If only I could see into her fake-blond head, past the tan, past the rhinestone hat, and past the twangy southern accent that makes everything (even the most insightful of statements, which this wasn't) sound, well, dumb. If only.

I guess we all have stereotypes to overcome.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Give Peace a Chance

You will notice that we are not in South Carolina building sand castles on the beach. No no. Instead we are here at home living with a protester 24/7. And not just any protester. A moody protester who is constantly changing her stance on all issues. Given Cheerios instead of Goldfish? Fight the power! Time to go in the car seat? Hell no, she won't go! Is dada about to change her diaper? Don't let the man beat her down! Is the dog looking at her? Did a dust mote land on her big toe? Any and all issues have the potential to spark radical protest.

I am so not a fan.

One of the most effective things about Zoey's protests is that she is constantly adapting her techniques. One minute she'll be stiff as a board and the next second she's totally limp. Civil disobedience often works well for her as it tires us out and breaks our already fragile spirits. So far she has won battles over pants, nap time, eating paper, and playing with the dog bowl. And that was just today. Inertia and gravity are on her side. So far, weight and size are on ours. I am no longer trying to lose weight with all my running; I've got to maintain my current weight so I don't lose the only advantage I have over Zoey. Demetri is also trying to bulk up with the help of Ben & Jerry's and extra carbs at dinner.

Another effective thing about Zoey's protest strategy is that she will not hesitate to cross the line from non-violence to getting the launch codes for the missiles. And you never know when it is going to happen. Kicking and biting are nothing. When she wants to employ deadly force she uses her baby veloceraptor claws. She'll stick her fingers up noses, in ears, or slice them across the jugular. Blood has been shed. Demetri and I are thankful we still posses sight and hearing.

Zoey will also not hesitate to use bodily fluids against us. Pee, poop, and her latest secret weapon, SNOT (Super Nasty Ooey Things). She will smear snot all over her face and hair in an effort to repel us. She smears snot on our clothes, face and hands when we attempt to pick her up. She has even slimed the dog. Some of her snot even has a cloaking device -- an area will seem clear and then suddenly you are stuck on a snotsicle while two snot bombs have been launched and are locked on to your position.

After Zoey goes to bed at night Demetri and I often huddle together in the darkness and light a single candle. Demetri strums his guitar and we sing Kumbaya. If we are feeling hopeful we sing the more jaunty Give Peace a Chance. Then we cry ourselves to sleep. In the next room Zoey dreams of pretty ponies, goldfish crackers and having her feet tickled by the dog knowing that she will wake up to two parents who are happy to see her, snot and all.

Zoey protesting pants:

Peaceful moments at the park:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring!!! Break???

Zoey and I were supposed to be in South Carolina this week hanging out with the grandparents on the beach. But Zoey got strep and a high fever of 105.9. And in case you were wondering, I did not handle the fever calmly. sigh. Zoey is betterish but still not great. We are still hoping we can make it to SC next week . . .

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Parenting Errors

Dear Ms. Decker,

It has come to our attention that this past weekend you made several Parenting Errors (PEs) ranging in severity from 1 to 5. This letter is to inform you that you are in danger of having your title of Mom revoked. You will be closely monitored in the coming weeks to determine your continued eligibility and appropriateness for the title of Mom.

Below are the PEs that have either been reported to us or observed by us:

1. Prior to attending a birthday party on Saturday you ran out of all-purpose wrapping paper. You then wrapped the gift in inside out Christmas paper and had your child 'fake draw' on the white side. This vain attempt to be cute did not hide your disorganization and lack of preparedness.
PE severity ranking: 4

2. While at above mentioned birthday party, you forgot that there were no buckles in your child's high chair and you allowed your child to plummet from a height of over 3 feet onto a hardwood floor. Further related transgressions include:

a. While attempting to comfort your child from the above incident you yourself cried.
b. You then offered your child gold fish crackers as a gauge to see if she was OK.
c. While we consider safety to be paramount, you also allowed the above
incident to occur in front of 9 other people. We prefer you commit PEs in the privacy of your own home. PE severity ranking: 1

3. Also at the above mentioned birthday party you fed your child kidney beans to see if they would come out in the diaper whole as reported by another mom.
PE severity ranking: 3

4. You paged your pediatrician 3 times this past weekend. Once for the above mentioned fall and twice for fever related issues. As a result your child's chart has been stamped HMP (High Maintenance Parent) and DAP (Dumb Ass Parent). This is an embarrassment to us.
PE severity ranking: 2

5. You allowed your child to watch Dancing with the Stars while falling asleep.
PE severity ranking: 4

6. You are still dressing your child in Christmas PJ's. In case you didn't get the memo, it's March.
PE severity ranking: 5

If you wish to challenge any of the above charges please contact:

Priscilla F. Perfect
Organization for the Protection of Basic Parenting Skills
100 Blissful Way
Nashville, TN


Faith Goody
Parenting Skills Police

Friday, March 13, 2009

Running Like Girls II (with soundtrack!)

Please play the below while reading this post.

Yesterday Kara and I ran our first 5k. It was raining. And cold. But we crossed the finish line in Titans Stadium and waved at ourselves in the jumbotron. VICTORY was ours!!!!!!! The only bad thing that happened was that I majorly choked on some water. Must practice drinking while running.

Earlier last week Kara and I had a freak out about running a half marathon. A co-worker told Kara a horrific half marathon running story involving puke and pain. Kara initially calmly emailed me that she had some 'potentially' bad running news to tell me in person. I responded that it must be really bad if she had to deliver it face to face. Her next email basically said, "WE'RE GONNA DIE!!!!! SAVE YOURSELF!!!"

We went for a 4 mile run later that night and totally re-psyched ourselves up for the half by listening to Footloose and admiring each others new running gear (yes, I did get a running skirt). We each gave each other the Sporty Spice Award ( a first in training history). We ran hills. On purpose. And we had enough wind left to sing the Rocky theme song at the top. Kara has this amazing Power Butt (think sexy J. Lo-esque). And her Power Butt often gets my Flabby Little No-Butt up the hills.
It's starting to dawn on me that running (or attempting to run) 13.1 miles is a big frickin' deal. We drove the actual half marathon course last weekend. 13.1 miles is far. It even seemed far in the car. Kara was driving and I was navigating. Kara was literally bouncing up and down in her seat with enthusiasm. Much of our conversation went like this:

Me: Take your next left.

K: (bouncing) Oh my gosh!!!! look!!!! We get to run through a neighborhood!!!

Me: yeah, if it's hot when we run people might squirt us with a hose...

K: Awesome!!! People will squirt us!!! Great!!! (bounce bounce bounce)

Me: Go right at the light.

K: Cool! Look! We get to run up this steep, never ending hill!!! How great is that!!

Me: Stay left . . .

K: Sweet! (bounce bounce) We get to run by this sketchy gas station!!!

Me: Yup, and on the next block I hear they throw dog shit on us during the race...

K: (bounce bounce bounce) Dog shit!!!! Awesome!

By the end of the drive I was certain there was nothing better to do in the whole world than run the half. With Kara.

I'm going to be in South Carolina for the next two weeks running solo. I'll have to do a 7 mile run by myself (plus 4 'short' 4.5 milers). I have a feeling I'm going to miss the Power Butt. Plus, I'll have to give myself the Sporty Spice award which just isn't as gratifying. And I won't have any one to tell me that my pale legs and no-butt make the running skirt look good. The hardest part of all this won't be making the 13.1 on race day; it will be getting through the next two weeks of training without Kara.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


So this morning as an after-changing-a-youcko-smello-poopy-diaper reward, I had a piece of my favorite Easter candy: a Russell Stover's chocolate coconut nest. A little piece of the the chocolate fell on my shirt and I picked it off to eat it because one should never waste chocolate ... except that it wasn't chocolate. It was something else.

I felt like this:

Do you have a better (more horrific) poop story? Share it!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Babies, Birthdays, and BFF's

Zoey has a BFF!! It's true! It says so right here. Very official, no? Charlotte's (the BFF's) mom also happens to be my local Mom Hero. Niki has taught me a lot about being a mom. I mean, first of all she introduced me to Puffs (total lifesaver). Plus, she knows where to get all the good (and cheap) kid clothes. Charlotte is 2 months older than Zoey so whenever we hit a new stage Niki has already been there. She either gives us helpful advice ("Try putting her formula in the cup with a straw so she can do it herself") or tells us the cold, hard truth ("Teething sucks and there's not a damn thing you can do about it").

Niki is my hero for other reasons too: She leaves me good voice mails like, "We just had a near princess experience!" and she always has extra snacks to share with Zoey. Niki also knows everything there is to know about any medical condition. And if she doesn't know enough she will google it and email you a summary of the results. Thanks to Niki I now know that when one coughs up green stuff it's actually part of the esophagus that has sluffed off. Nice.

Niki has never once lectured me about how I should make all of Zoey's baby food or I how I should cart Zoey around in a sling to foster attachment. When I tell Niki some of the worst of the worst that goes on at our house ("Zoey sucked on Gilmore's nose after he was sniffing his own poop!") Niki responds calmly with a story of equal horror ("Charlotte ate a piece of cat litter yesterday"). And when Niki, her husband, and Charlotte were all over for dinner and they witnessed Zoey tumbling off the couch due to our lack of parenting skills, Niki didn't get all judgey or grab Charlotte and run screaming from our house, instead she just helped us comfort Zoey.

Recently, Niki may have done something that elevates her from Hero status to Goddess. She made Zoey a dress (see it here). Made it. We had been at a consignment sale where a hopeful but delusional seamstress was selling pillowcase dresses for $28. Niki saw the dress, we both mocked the price, and then Niki said, "I could totally make this. Oh, it is sooooo on!" And then she made 2 of them -- one for Charlotte and one for Zoey.

Charlotte's first birthday is tomorrow. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY CJ!!! And thanks Niki for helping us through the first year and for shooting out such a wonderful BFF for Zoey!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hi Honey, I'm Home!

When I ask family or friends how their day was, I usually get fairly interesting answers. Stuff like: “I was voted best teacher of the year!”, “I was interviewed by the Chanel 5 news!”, or “I was called into my bosses office and given a raise for inventing the cure for cancer.” Even if their stuff isn’t super interesting, it’s at least validating; they did something with their day.

When I get asked about my day, my response is usually along the lines of: “Um…well, Zoey finally pooped after three days and there was a whole Cheerio in it and um . . . you know that piece to the garlic press we thought we lost? I found it in the back of the dishwasher and… Oh! I found vanilla scented trash bags at the grocery store!” On a very good day I’ll have an actual story: “A 3 year-old boy peed on the puppets at the library!” or “I saw Scott Hamilton at exercise class!” If I’m not talking to a very very good friend or another mom, I lose them at the mention on poop. But I’m sorry, if you can’t handle a conversation about poop you just can’t be a big part of my life right now.

This is some of what I did yesterday:
1. Changed diapers
2. Gave Zoey a bath
3. Fed Zoey breakfast
4. Ate my own breakfast
5. Dressed Zoey
6. Did 2 loads of laundry
7. Sang songs with Zoey
8. Played chasey-chase with Zoey
9. Played peek-a-boo

I am revising the list to:
1. Maintained appropriate hygiene levels and contained hazardous smells
2. Helped an emotionally unstable individual prone to violence overcome her aquaphobia
3. Provided daily sustenance and nutrition to sustain human life
4. Modeled healthy eating habits and self-sufficiency
5. Coordinated appropriate attire (factoring in atmospheric conditions)
6. Oversaw the maintenance and usability of 3 wardrobes
7. Taught English to an age-challenged individual without having a language in common
8. Engaged in creative and therapeutic play
9. Demonstrated and instilled object constancy

Yet, somehow, when I’m asked about my day, I will probably still begin my answer with a story about poop.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Wii Fit Kicks Me While I'm Down

Yesterday, there was a series of events that brought into question my confidence, dignity, and value as a person. We went to Kara and Christopher’s house for dinner. Before dinner we played Dance Dance Revolution. Did you know you can get booed in that game? Even if it’s your first time playing, you are on the lowest level, and you’re basically a good person, you still get booed. However, when I asked, “Are they booing me?!?!?” Kara and Christopher loyally responded, “No, no, no. They are booing someone else.” And they said it so nicely and without sarcasm that for a few minutes I believed them.

But then I made the fatal decision to test out Kara and Christopher’s new Wii Fit. The Wii Fit is narrated by a perky chipmunk voice and has an anime-ish feel. You create a Mii character/profile for yourself and then the Wii Fit makes you sit through a series of lectures on health and fitness. Next, it gives you several fitness tests to determine your Wii Fit Age. The Wii Fit’s motto is something like “Fitness made fun!” The Wii Fit was very complimentary to me on the center of balance test and the BMI tests. It was constantly telling me I was “great!” and that I was doing a “great job!” and that my results were “amazing!”. I was feeling pretty good and, in fact, was almost able to hold my head up high again after being booed in Dance Dance Revolution.

Last up was the balance test. After I completed the test the Wii Fit asked me if I fall down a lot. Which I don’t. I’ve fallen twice in my life. On ice. ice. True, last week I did fall up the stairs, but who hasn’t? Then I was presented with my Wii Fit Age. The revelation of one’s Wii Fit age is preceded by an unnecessarily long and anxiety provoking drum roll. Once my age was revealed, so was the Borderline Personality of the Wii Fit:

Wii: Your Wii Fit Age is 52.

Me: What?!?!?! I’m only 33 and I’m training to run a half marathon and I go to the gym!

Wii: Sad, isn’t it?

Me: But … I can’t be 52!!!!

Wii: You are and I was being generous with 52. I’m changing your Mii nickname to Sucky-sucko-fat-pants.

Me: HEY!

Wii: Want to do some yoga?

Me: Yeah! I’m good at that! (pause) Did I just hear you chuckle?

No, no! Get into Tree Pose.

(gets into a beautiful tree pose)

Wii: Ok. You can stop now.

(gracefully gets out of tree pose)

Wii: What are you stopping for, quitter? Your muscles can’t train themselves!

Me: You TOLD me to stop!

Wii: Slacker!

Me: You’re mean. I hate Wii Fit.

Wii: Awwww, is the little bitty baby gonna cry now? You even look like you're 52! You suck!

(power off)

Thank god this was followed by an amazing Indian dinner prepared by Kara and Christopher (Christopher made cheese) and fancy cupcakes. And yes, I had more than 1 cupcake. Why? Because the Wii Fit can (say it with me) SUCK IT!!!