Monday, October 26, 2009

In Which I Kick Martha Stewart's You-Know-What

On Saturday I co-hosted a surprise baby shower for Niki. The other co-host was Niki's twin sister, Erin. But Erin lives waaaaay Up North so the par-tay was at my house. Which meant I was in charge of decorating. Yeah, yeah, I heard that not-so-stifled laughter. But guess what. I. TOTALLY. ROCKED. IT.

Martha thinks she is such a goddess (as evidenced below). But who's to say what a goddess looks like?

I mean, Nike dry-fit seems more suitable than layers of gold and gauze for goddess-like activities. You know, like Saving the World (one surprise baby shower at a time). A goddess should be able to move and bend, not just hold a fake golden ball to oddly puckered lips. Plus, Time Gunn would not approve of the hair leaves. So late '70s. And not in a good way.

Yes, yes, Martha can bake. But can she bake with the "assistance" of a toddler?

One of us seems to be a tad bit anal about the kitchen set up . . . while the other one seems to be baking with wild abandon and, dare I say, joy. What would you rather have in your cookies? Anal retentiveness or joy?

Martha puts flowers in pumpkins. And so do I.

Hm . . . the first pumpkin seems to say, Come in, sit down, put your napkin on your lap and DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING, worthless guest! Whereas the the second pumpkin seems to say, Come in, sit down, have some warm apple cider, and if you spill it don't worry. . . We love you here (unlike some other places we could mention)!

Someone's decorations seem to be a bit threatening . . . .

I mean, I wonder what happens to Martha's guests who misbehave . . . My guests were sent home with teeny tiny cutie wootie pumpkins, not moldy skulls. Just sayin' . . .

Yes, we both carved letters into pumpkins . . .

But my pumpkin had the initials of the baby-to-be instead of just random show-offy letters. Who is DKUSF? Someone's pumpkins don't even make sense.

And along those lines . . . .

What the hell is on Martha's pumpkin?? Martha, Martha, Martha . . . don't you know that any departure from traditionalism is risky? LEARN THE LESSON!

For the goody bags . . .

Again with the skulls? Geeze, I wonder what's in the bags . . . Maybe it's just me, but I would choose a cheerful orange bag with a cute sticker instead of the bag with a death symbol on it . . .

Martha's guests may never come back while Niki is still my friend after the shower! It's amazing what we'll do for the people we care about . . .

And here's another pic just because it's cute . . .

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sarcasm - It's all I've Got . . .

Dear Mr. Bardwell,

Thank you so much for refusing to marry an interracial couple. Again. I wish more people had your courage, insight, and total disregard for the U.S. Constitution*. I hope you are also preventing women from voting in your district. You, Mr. Bardwell, are my hero.

It is so clear to me that you are in no way a racist. As you say, you have "piles and piles" of black friends. Golly! You let them into your house! How generous! You even let them use your bathroom! You must be their most favorite friend! Can you imagine if you also let your black friends eat off your plates?? And use your silverware? I know, I know, the world just isn't ready for that yet. You are a pioneer, my friend, a true pioneer!

You say that you refuse to marry interracial couples to protect the yet-to-be-born interracial children from "suffering". Interracial marriages don't last long and the children from these marriages are never "accepted" by, well, anyone. Except maybe Satan. You have even done thorough research to prove the above facts. How you have the time time to do such research, what with all hanging out with your black friends and refusing to marry people, is amazing to me! And to think that some people dare to question your research methods. People today just make me sick. After all, you did talk to both blacks and whites about the issue. Plus, you took time out of your busy schedule to witness some interracial marriages. And, as we all know, attending the wedding of a couple you don't know offers great insight into how long that marriage will last. It heartens me to know that you are out there in the world protecting the sanctity of marriage and the innocence of our children. Can you imagine if people had children without being married or if a married couple didn't want children?! Thank goodness we don't live in a world like that!

Mr. Blackwell, you are a truly inspiring individual. Here are some other causes you might want to considering working on:
The Myth of The Gays: They Don't Really Exist
Global Warming: It's a Lie!
Obama is Bad: Socialist, Illegal Alien, and of Mixed Race (!)
Middle Easterners: They're all Terrorists!

Yours Most Sincerely,

* My super smarty-pants lawyer friend, Niki, tells me that it's really the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution. But writing all that didn't sound as good. So, just know that I know (because Niki knows) where it's all coming from.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

In Which I am Bested by a Fecal Sample Kit

Zoey has been sick most of this week. High fever and no other symptoms. Except for the screaming. And the not sleeping through the night. Yeah. It's been AWESOME. At least I got to watch some good TV (Top Chef anyone?) while Zoey snoozed on my chest. Oh! Added bonus! I got to test the limits of my bladder while pinned on the couch by a sleeping baby. Another highlight was force feeding Zoey medicine every 3 hours. And watching her spit it out and then (brace yourself) smear it IN HER HAIR.

Today Demetri started fall break. We celebrated by taking Zoey to the doctor. Together. Just because we are sickeningly cute like that. Negative for H1N1 and strep. They drew blood to try and determine if Zoey has a viral or bacterial infection. Zoey didn't even cry. It was pathetic. Seriously. Demetri and I sat there feeling helpless while we cradled Zoey, touched our palms to her forehead, and wondered if the 103 fever was going down or up.

I, in particular, must have looked a bit worried. Or crazed. Or maybe it was when I looked at the doctor and said, throwing my hands in the hair, "I'm freaking out. No, I might be freaking out. FREAK-ING." and then teared up. I frequently tear up in front of this doctor for no good reason. Last time, I teared up because I was convinced Zoey was having nightmares about me. Except in nightmares I had glowing red eyes and was screaming through pointy black teeth, "STTOOOPPPPP BITING!" I am positive Zoey's chart is marked with whatever the super secret doctor signal is for PARENT = TOTAL NUTBURGER. Today the doctor looked at me with significant eye contact and said, "Things are going to be OK. Everything. Will. Be. Ok." He backed toward the door, probably considered running for it and/or quitting his job, and kindly added, "Really." 3 times. "Really." (pause with more significant eye contact) "Really."

Both Demetri and I are madly in love with this pediatrician. We've seriously had multiple 15 minute conversations about how much we love him, his office staff, and amazing nurses. This is the main reason why: all of them can keep a straight face while we freak out and ask amazingly idiotic questions for two people who have masters' degrees. Demetri once asked the doctor if Zoey's pinkie toe was deformed because it curls in a little.

Anyway. It was all unclear if Zoey had a viral or bacterial infection. We were sent home with lots of Motrin and Tylenol samples -- probably to keep my hands full so I couldn't do anything nurtburgerish, like throw myself on a nurse and yell HEAL MY DAUGHTER! on the way out. And we were sent home with a fecal sample 'kit'. For the uninitiated there are 3 bottles that are about half way full with liquid. You screw the lid off each bottle and underneath there are little poop shovels with a slightly pronged ends. Your job is to scoop enough poop into the bottle to raise the liquid line to the marked level.

I was undaunted. After all, I've eaten poop. I'm a mom. And a large dog owner. What's a little poop? The shovel was even kind of cute. So we got home. Zoey hadn't pooped yet today so we knew it was coming. Conveniently, Demetri went to run errands. For 2 hours. Zoey pooped. I got the kit and began. Then, something began to gather in the back of my throat. I thought maybe it was bitterness at being left home alone to complete yet another poop related task. But no. No, no. It was a little bit of vomit gathered, there, in the back of my throat. I took a deep breath to try and settle my stomach. BAD. IDEA. The stench from that diaper is still there, clinging to the inside of my nose. As it will be for all eternity. Alas, I will no longer be able to smell sweet roses or peppermint tea. No, no all I can smell is shit.

I completed the kit. I felt dizzy. Nauseated. And, inexplicably, awkward and humiliated. Kind of like how it feels to be in middle school. My Mom Powers were bested by a fecal sample kit that comes with cute little shovels. Oh the shame!

(And you're welcome for not posting a picture.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The First Mom's Night Out: Torture, Tears, and Store-Bought Baked Goods

The first Mom's Night Out I ever attended was a potluck when Zoey was just a few months old. Let me pause while you take that in. POT. LUCK. As in everyone is supposed to bake something. As in here's-some-extra-work-for-you-to-do-before-you-go-out. As in you're-a-mom-so-you-must-bake. I brought these fancy cookies with jam and chocolate in them. From Kroger. I didn't bother to hide the box. And, seeing as how it was potluck, I assumed it was casual. I showed up in cords and one of my 'nice' long sleeved t-shirts. Apparently, this was a fashion faux pas as the other moms entered the house (carrying their home made baked goods) in swishy skirts showing off tanned and shaved legs, sandals with pedicured toes, and tiny tank tops displaying lactating boobs and flat stomachs. Except for one woman.

One woman came in a sequenced dress, 6 inch heels, and an updo. I had to stifle a laugh while the other moms had to stifle their apparent jealousy. Ms. Sex-on-a-Stick even talked to me. She said, and I quote, "It looks like your loosing some of that pregnancy weight!" Um . . . a) I had never met her before and b) um, well, I HAVE NEVER BEEN PREGNANT. I responded, "We adopted so I never had any weight to lose. It's great!" Ms. Sex, sequence glittering in the overhead track lighting, looked at me like I was an idiot and said, "No, I mean, it looks like you've lost weight from having the baby." I tried to smile. I probably failed. "Yes, I know what you mean. But I've never been pregnant . We adopted." Believe it or not, this conversation went on. And on. Until I said, "Yeah, I lost all my pregnancy weight", stuffed my mouth with another Kroger cookie, feigned interest in a nearby wall painting, and walked away.

Dinner was torture. I sat, staring at Caesar salad and watery lasagna, while other moms talked about the "blissful" and "fulfilling" experience of motherhood. Granted, I was deep in the well of post-adoption depression at this point, but I would have been willing to dig deeper just to get away from these women. I sat contemplating how soon I could leave. I really wanted to fake an illness but, as I barely had the will to go on living amongst such perk and June Cleaver-ness, I sat. And sat. And then snuck out as dessert recipes were being exchanged. Then I sat some more. In my car. While I cried. I think the tears were from feeling so other. So not part of those women. Not part of how they dressed. What they baked. How they talked. And, painfully, not part of the blissfulness and fulfillment that was their experience of motherhood. I was so sad and so tired and so overwhelmed that I couldn't see that their momness didn't have to be mine. Now I do. And I have not been to a potluck since.

(Stay tuned for Mom's Night Out Part II -- that in which we Whip it, Whip It Good)

Monday, October 12, 2009

I Need a Pep Talk

So over the weekend I was obsessed with checking Facebook. Well, more obsessed than usual. I had 3 different "friends*" post status updates that either were offensive or led to a slew of offensive comments from the "friends" of my "friend". It was kind of like passing a car wreck on the highway -- You tell yourself not to look. You look. Then you feel scared and a little bit sick. Except in this case I felt angry and sick. And I kept looking.

The comments involved racism, homophobia, and/or misogyny. One status update was meant as a joke (I think). Some of the other comments did involve some sarcasm but most did not. For example, one person (not my friend) wrote that lesbians should be "strangled". He then said he was "kidding". But for me, that comment was way past funny. WAY past. Another "joke" (again, not by my friend) stereotyped all people from the Middle East as suicide bombers. Racism does not amuse me. Homophobia does not amuse me. Hate isn't funny.

There was a total of 30 offensive comments between the 3 different status updates. To be clear, there were at least 20 other comments that I didn't like (cutting remarks about Obama, for example) but weren't really "offensive". A difference in political opinions is one thing. Attacking the rights, self-worth, and very existence of certain groups of people is a whole different ball game. A game that I have zero tolerance for. Zero.

I would sit at the computer and read off the latest comments to Demetri. Then I would say (and spell, as Zoey was present) exactly what I thought of the comments. I would tell Demetri what I was going to write in response and he would come pry my fingers off the keyboard and beg me to think before I responded. Hm, thinking, what a novel concept. So I did. I thought. And thought some more.

Today my anger has turned into a kind of a sadness. I don't feel a part of my community because my community is dominated by homophobia and racism**. It is dominated by people claiming that lesbians are a result of people "turning away from Christ".*** There is a culture here of hate. It goes way back. It goes deep. And it goes mostly untalked about. Unchallenged. Unnoticed. I have found my friends that go against this culture. At times, we all have had to keep our mouths shut. It feels bad. It feels vaguely dirty. And today I feel weighed down by all the badness. I feel coated in griminess.

What do you do when you see an offensive comment on Facebook? Do you respond? Do you respond only to friends? To friends of friends?

* Friends is in quotes bc some of my Facebook friends I don't really know all that well. Like, "Hey we were at that conference together once! We're friends!"
**I still struggle with racism. I am working on it. Every day. Like most people that look like me, I will be working on it the rest of my life.
***I would argue that homophobia is a result of people not understanding Christ in the first place. But that doesn't seem to be a valid opinion here . . .

Human Rights Campaign

Friday, October 9, 2009

Toddlers Gone Wild*

Yesterday I did something I swore I would never ever do. I did something that goes against every molecule of my being. Worst of all, I did something I have mercilessly mocked others for doing (Hi Niki!). I went to Chuck E. Cheese. I ate the food. I played the games. I crushed everyone (Niki and a bunch of 3 year olds) in Skee Ball. And . . . it was all my idea.

It all started at Walmart. Niki and I were attempting to shop for Halloween costumes for Zoey and Charlotte. (Zoey's includes a pink tutu. Seriously.) In a moment that may never be equaled in superiority and joyousness, Zoey pointed to the figure on the left and repeatedly yelled out, "Dada! Dada! Dada!"

Soon after, the girls made a joint decision and very 'diplomatically' (with the usual screaming, thrashing, and whining) declared, "We shall no longer be held captive in these rolling wire cages!! We shall roam free -- in spirit and in body! We shall triumph over your iron fisted rule!" And like idiots, Niki and I let the girls out of the carts. They took off. And ran right into the bra section. They perused the padded bras like pros. Niki and I were frightened. Very very frightened.

The girls were then forced to push our carts up to the check-out. Being the exemplary mothers that we are, we debated the merits of filling the carts with bottled water or, say, cinderblocks before making the girls push them. Exercise is good, people! But in the end Niki and I were too lazy to follow through with this genius plan. Well, I was too lazy. Niki is 8 months pregnant . . .

While waiting to check-out, Zoey and Charlotte pulled things off shelves, ran into each other, and generally wreaked havoc. Then, I heard myself say: "Huh. I wonder where we could take them to run around. . . " I ignored Niki's suggestion of "the park" and took the plunge into madness, "How about Chuck E. Cheese?" Niki was stunned into silence.

15 minutes later we had been stamped, admitted past the red plastic ropes, and were ordering overpriced pizza. Then . . . TODDLERS GONE WILD.* Zoey literally ran in circles, not sure what she wanted to see first. Zoey rode a caterpillar. She rode a fire truck. Both of them rode on the merry go round (Zoey stared at her self in the mirror the whole time). They whacked gophers. They punched over ducks (Niki was oddly competitive at this game. I. AM. PUNCHING. IT. WHY WON'T THEY FALL OVER? I am sooo playing again! Just sayin'). We all ate pizza.

And then, oh then! The gimormous Chuck E. Cheese figure went On Air. He sang. He danced. Zoey and Charlotte were in the front row screaming, shaking their booties, and generally worshiping Chuck. If they had bras, they would have thrown them.* It was the finest moment of their little lives. Clearly, we need to get them out more.

* Thanks to Niki and Corey for letting me steal their lines

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Our Adoption Story II: The Boring Part

Ok. So maybe deciding to adopt wasn't as quick and easy as I made it sound in the last post. True, Demetri and I had been talking about adoption before we got married. But it wasn't always with certainty. There was a lot of fear and anxiety. What if we can't connect to someone else's baby? What if there are health problems? What if a birth mother never chooses us? We researched adoption. We read books. We watched informational videos. We overcame our fears enough to move forward. And we were met with a whole new set of questions: Did we have a preference for gender, race, or age? Were we willing to adopt a baby from a birth mom who did not get prenatal care? Who smoked marijuana? Who drank during pregnancy? Who had a history of any kind of mental illness?

We did more research. Read more books. Had lots of talks, discussions, and arguments with each other and ourselves. Gradually we were able to answer the questions. We did not have a preference for gender or race. However, I was adamant that we adopt a new born. As a social worker I had worked with many many kids that had been adopted after they were a year or older. These kids were great, and many of their families were great, but the kids were working their way through Reactive Attachment Disorder.* And it was always a long, hard battle for everyone involved. Although I was good at working with these kids in a 50 minute session, I knew my limits. We would not be adopting an 'older' child. We also decided that we were only willing to work with birth moms that had at least some prenatal care, who did not drink during pregnancy, and with a limited history of mental illness (depression and anxiety stuff was OK, Schizophrenia etc. not OK). After consulting a doctor, we decided that infrequent marijuana use was OK. After many discussions, we decided an open (or semi-open) adoption would work well for us and for our baby.

Next up: We had to get a home study. This is the part where a stranger comes into your home (albeit a nice, social worky one) and evaluates your potential for parenthood. And, if you live where I live, you are asked to sign a "statement of faith" promising to raise a child you don't even have yet in "the one true faith" as a "follower of Christ". This presented a . . . "problem" for me. Demetri and I were totally unwilling to sign a statement of faith. For one, we would be lying. For two, one does not need to be "a follower of Christ" to be a good parent. Apparently, in this part of the south they haven't heard that two-thirds of the world is not Christian. I called out of state and tried to cut a deal where we would pay for hotel and meals so a social worker could complete a home study. No luck. Finally, through a referral from Demetri's work, we found a teeny tiny local agency (they didn't even have a web site) that did not require a statement of faith. Thank god!

We cleaned the house like it had never been cleaned before. We gave Gilmore a bath. We framed pictures in which we thought we looked 'parental'. We put fire extinguishers in visible places in various rooms. I bought fancy cheese and crackers to serve as a snack. We put on nice clothes. Nice but not too nice -- we didn't want to look like we were trying too hard. We had our paperwork in a brand new, crisp purple folder. We didn't wear shoes when the social worker arrived so that we would look "casual and relaxed" when she came to the door.

The social worker came. She evaluated. She was kind. She gave us another binder full of paperwork. Yes, a binder. We had to get references. Check-ups and blood tests from the doctor ( I even needed a special note as I had a history of minor depression). Proof of marriage. Our educational transcripts (with the college seal). A note from the vet. Fingerprints. Yes, Demetri got fingerprinted at a gun store. Well, not just a gun store, the place also weighed dead deer. As much as I love guns and dead animals, I chose another location for my fingerprints. We also each wrote a 7 page biography. And no, we were not allowed to skip over the humiliating moments of middle school, poor choices that were made about men while abroad, or that one Grateful Dead concert. So yeah, the paperwork was all vaguely humiliating.

The end result? We passed.

* There are many, many "older" children who are adopted that never ever have to deal with this issue.

Come on . . . Don't we look like awesome potential parents?
(Pick us! Pick us!)

Friday, October 2, 2009

And Yet*

So you've probably already read/heard the story about the woman who decided to terminate her son's adoption after 18 months. There were bonding issues, marriage issues, etc. The woman did all the right things: counseling, attachment exercises, more counseling. And yet.

I remember our first 5 months with Zoey. Huge chunks of it were hell for me. It's a special kind of soul breaking pain to love someone so very much and yet feel no connection. You feel thin, transparent. There's nothing you can hold onto or ground yourself in. Any minute, you will blow away. Any minute, you will be gone, a missing person forever. You try and look the part. You smile for pictures. You hold the baby. You are gentle. Careful. But inside you are ashes.

You don't give up.

You. Keep. Going.

And then: Sunlight. You begin to feel. The baby holds your finger. Tight. She cups your chin in in her oh so tiny palm. You notice the sweet smell of her neck, the softness of her hair. Late at night when you hold her and rock her and whisper to her, your bodies are one. You cry from the relief, amazed that one moment can undo so much darkness. Amazed that one tiny moment can be so sacred.

You wait as long as it takes for these moments to pile up. You catalog them, glossy prints sliding over and under one another. Pictures from your life. Pictures from your loving. You wait. And wait. You get better. More practiced. For the rest of your life, and hers, you wait. You let the moments unfold. Because they will. Oh, they most certainly will.

* Thanks to Amy for letting me steal her delicate use of the phrase 'and yet'. Without even asking. You know I love you. And worship you. And think you look very buff.

ALSO, check out a slightly happier post over at Cool Moms Care. It's about soccer. And other stuff . . .