Saturday, December 25, 2010

TRAAAAINNNS!!!! (trains trains OMG trains)

It's been a very trainful Christmas so far.

Rick got to be the Daddy Staying Up Late To Assemble Awesome Christmas Gift From Santa, which was a train table with Thomas the Train set on it.

Then there were some additional trains from a more realistic-looking set, but still compatible with the Thomas train line.

Then Daddy got Empire Builder, the classic German board game. AwesomeCloud picked that one out. I was originally going to choose a different board game, but Cloud kept shouting, "Deen! Deen! DEEEEN!" and pointing to a box further along the shelf. Daddy was thrilled when he opened it. Good choice, Cloud.

I haven't gotten any trains. I will probably continue to not get any trains. :)

The cats got gifts, too. They got a new laser pointer. Melody and Riley love it.

This is Melody chasing the laser dot. She obsesses over getting the dot back when I stop playing with her. It's like having two small children in the house. One clamoring over Thomas the Train, and the other clamoring over the red dot.

Riley eventually got overstimulated and had to go out. Here she is getting some quiet time, while perhaps a bit ruefully looking back at the noise and fun. Poor cat got kicked out of Christmas.

Ban Lu, oddly enough, isn't interested in the laser pointer. He just wanted to rub his cheek against my hand when I offered him the dot to chase. (He's tall enough to do that.) He barely even looked down. Strange cat. I thought no cat could resist the dot. It's like World of Warcraft for cats.

We did Rick's family last night, and today we'll do my family. Gotta leave soon, so I'll wrap this up. (Ha ha, wrap this up!)

Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My guy knows it gets better

My husband is in this video. I don't know where; I can't find them! But he said he was in there, so he must be in there.

I spotted AwesomeCloud's onetime babysitter. (We've only needed a babysitter three times, and two of those times his aunty did it.) I spotted one of our actual gay Unitarian friends (but not his husband, who usually works on Sundays).

If anybody (who knows what he looks like) sees him, let me know, okay? This is bugging me. How can I not see him?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

In memoriam, etc.

Today is gravesite visitation day. We will be going to Rhode Island to see the graves of our relatives on my husband's side of the family. Then we will party hardy at AwesomeCloud's cousins' house at the Annual Mega Christmas Party.

In other news, I miss my Prius something awful. I don't think I'll ever warm up to the Chevy Malibu, plus all these visits to the rental agency to renew our rental agreement are wearing on me. At least the rental agent is nice. He seems to crave intellectual conversation, and fortunately for him, I'm able to rise to the occasion. I know how it feels. I crave conversation, too. AwesomeCloud's conversation is mostly comprised of one word exhortations, most of them being "Da!"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I'm not a winter person

I am a New England person. If my winter doesn't have snow and cold then I feel like I'm in the wrong place.

(I've only been in a wrong place a few times. North Carolina was a wrong place to be in the winter, although all in all I had a wonderful experience there in spite of my boyfriend. New Jersey was a wrong place, not because there wasn't snow and cold, because there was, but because the locals whined and moaned and were completely unable to cope, and they did it again and again every year. You'd think they'd all just immigrated from Puerto Rico or Somalia, but no, only a few of them had. Most of them had lived there for thirty, fifty, seventy years or more.)

(Arizona was not a wrong place, because we'd had the foresight to vacation in Holbrook, which is very wintry in the winter. The Grand Canyon had snow. I'd rather die having seen the Grand Canyon with snow than having ridden down it on a burro, and now I can. Die, that is. After having seen it with snow.)

(Not immediately, though, please.)

In spite of this, I don't actually like going out in the cold. I don't like turning up the heat. I don't like the reduced hours of sunlight per day. I do like endless cups of tea, but I don't like having to drop everything and make myself more tea when I'm busy or comfortable or I have a kid climbing all over me. I don't like shoving a struggling, unwilling kid into a winter coat and trying to squeeze both kid and coat into the car seat. I don't like Riley being in the house all the time, meowing for food all day and night and pooping up a storm. Ew.

I don't like the mall at Christmas shopping season. Have I mentioned the mall lately? AwesomeCloud and I are really becoming part of the crowd there. The other mallwalkers stop and talk to us, and sometimes they walk alongside us. It's usually nice and quiet and the lighting is dim and we only have to share the mall with the custodians. At 10:00 AM, when the stores open, most of us have already cleared out.

Starting yesterday, our mall now opens at 7:30 AM. What the hell. Blaring music and blinking lights and noise noise noise. For what? Even now, nobody's there but us mallwalkers... and all the store clerks who clog up the line at Dunkin' Donuts before they open for business.

Then they sit at their cash registers and crank the individual store musics even louder because, without customers, there's nothing else to do.

Winter doesn't even really start until Solstice, the 21st or so, and then Christmas shopping season will end soon after. I only have like a week and a half left to avoid the mall. Maybe I'll go back to taking the kid outside in the morning. Because, 20 degrees or no, it's still autumn. It is. That's a fact.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

You'd think all of our music was obscene

Our poor EI teacher. She's a wonderful, sweet woman who loves AwesomeCloud and is so good with him. She thinks up very creative games to play with him, many of them involving jumping around. (She's working on his gross motor skills.) She was trying to do everything just right, and she came very close.

What thwarted her? Our music collection.

Now, in our defense, we have a very eclectic music collection. Much of it is kid-friendly and has no bad words or objectionable concepts at all. Some of it, like classical, has no words. There's warm and fuzzy folk, rockin' classic rock, Italian crooners, big band and jazz, block rocking techno beats, and front and center is lots and lots of Christmas music.

It is a mere fluke that she chose the CDs she chose, and ended up with the songs she and my son were attempting to dance to.

I was upstairs with the door open, putting the finishing touches on some documents for my job, when i heard the strains of a song called "The St. Stephen's Day Murders." It's about two sisters whose name was Christmas - one was named Mary and the other named Eve. I guess they had reason to disdain the season, for they murdered all their relatives in ways gleefully and graphically described in the lyrics.

Now, we're not planning to censor our music collection from Cloud too much. We grin at the idea of him singing "Come out you black and tans, come out and fight me like a man" someday when he can string sentences together. We'll explain euphemisms to him when he's ready, and meanwhile let him innocently enjoy songs that aren't very innocent. Come on; we all grew up that way, right? He can, too.

And i like "The St. Stephen's Day Murders." I try to hear it at least once every holiday season.

(Well, now I've heard it.)

Apparently, Cloud and his teacher got a good dancing game going, and when it was over, they perused the CD rack for another danceable song. I heard the teacher say, "What else can we dance to? Oh! World Dance Party! Let's try that."

World Dance Party, by The Fools. First song on the CD? "I Love Your Tits."

(Apparently, though, they had a good dancing game going.)

(I resisted the urge to poke my head downstairs and say, 'Umm...' a second time. But it was hard.)

Friday, December 3, 2010


AwesomeCloud is really, really good at having new experiences. Astonishingly good. He must be every first-time parent's dream - he's almost more of a companion than a kid. A companion who laughs all the time but can barely talk, who wrenches your fingers out of their sockets with his tiny hands, who needs diaper changes and asks to be carried frequently, and who strews the contents of the kitchen cupboards all over the house. But a companion nonetheless.

When I feel like hanging out with a friend over coffee and laughing about the absurdity of life, I can do that with him. The absurdities tend to be funny faces and sound effects rather than wry observations. And one of the coffees is replaced by milk in a sippy cup. Otherwise, it's the same.

He eats my cooking. That's huge. Whether it's something frozen i threw together quickly, or something elaborate that took me an hour, he loves it.

If I want to enjoy a few moments on the beach with a friend, I can do that with him. He loves to look out at the water as much as I do. In fact it's not much different from strolling on the beach with an adult, except that my fingers get wrenched.

I wanted to volunteer at the church, so I took him, and it went beautifully. I joined the White Elephant crew and set old yard sale items out on tables. Cloud touched everything, broke nothing, got in hardly anyone's way, and then he spilled soup on himself and munched on a ginger snap.

I love that he likes ginger snaps. And baked goods in general. And anything made out of sugar. He and I are kindred spirits that way.

I can garden with him. It's not ideal yet; when I'm alone I can lose myself in my gardening for a couple of hours at a time. With Cloud, I'm always multitasking. But i can do it.

He still won't let me work in peace yet. That can be a problem, because sometimes my boss needs something RIGHT NOW and the best I can do is 'sometime during naptime'. But work is a solitary endeavor, so my inability to do it with Cloud around doesn't detract from his worth as a companion.

Tonight we're going to the town Christmas Stroll. It's in a different town than the one we usually go to, so I don't know what it'll be like yet. But wandering amid all the stores and lights, carolers and free snacks, is the kind of thing Cloud is bound to have a blast at.

Also, today, I pulled out the djembes and we drummed together for a few minutes. I think the kid has potential. It's hard to judge whether a two-year-old will develop a particular interest or talent in any given activity, but drumming is one of those things that requires not much more than practice to get good at. And it might be fun to drum with Mum.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day, when we remember the victims of an epidemic to which our modern society has had a shamefully poor and spectacularly inadequate response. There's no excuse in this day and age for the outright neglect we've shown this disease's victims. They are desperately poor, socially marginalized, sexually promiscuous and/or drug addicts, and therefore deemed not worth the time and expense of treating.

HIV is eminently easy to control. Its contagion mechanism is terrible. Its true strength is in its near-impossibility to cure once it infects its victim. So if we could just prevent its spread, we'd be golden.

HIV should not still be a problem. We could have kicked it in the 1960's. We SHOULD have obliterated it in the 1980's. And yet here we are: millions upon millions dead, millions infected, new super-resistant strains evolving, and a day to reflect on our miserable failure as a society, thirty years ago and today, to eradicate a retrovirus that our species easily has the ability to outsmart... if only we'd try.

Kudos to Thailand, who so far has been the only community to get it right.

Boo to the Roman Catholic Church, the church of my heritage, which continues to be boneheaded to an astonishing degree all the way up and down its ranks.

And today we may pause in remembrance of those who didn't know the danger they were putting themselves into, those who weren't behaving dangerously but got infected anyway, those who sought help that was unavailable, those who sought help just to be met with more harm and rejection, those who were too afraid to speak up and died alone in agony, those who were forced to die alone in agony because of their social stigmas, and those who sought help at the right time in the right way but were just plain out of luck.

And we may acknowledge that HIV is not yet dead. It's experiencing a slow resurgence. A resurgence we hardly ever hear about.

Oh yes, and, happy first day of Hanukkah.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Okay, NOW it's Christmastime

I still firmly believe that Christmas should start after Thanksgiving. I'm old-fashioned that way.

(I also believe that politicians should cut their campaigning times in half. I don't need to be answering phone polls about who's my favorite candidate a year and a half before Inauguration Day. All the primaries should be in June, not a day sooner, and campaign ads should start around March or April.)

I am grateful to my husband for springing into action and getting 2/3 of the gift shopping done already. That's amazing. Now I just need to drag myself to the store and start carrying my end of the burden. It won't be so bad now that I know we've got the holidays under control. If it were all up to me - and this has happened in the past - not all presents would be purchased in time and some relatives wouldn't be opening any gifts from me.

Additionally, the tree went up this weekend, and we have now commenced chasing AwesomeCloud around with the camera trying to get the perfect shot for the photo-card. Fortunately, we already have one photo that's a contender. I meant to post some of the duds to show you, like the picture of Cloud reaching out to Ban Lu just as Ban Lu decided to be skittish and turn into a blur. But I'm too lazy to go downstairs and get the camera.

Okay, here at least is Ban Lu by himself, before getting skittish. Someday I want to get a picture showing off how extraordinarily big he is, with incredibly long legs. He looks like he's half serval.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Wow, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday. I like it because it's not a commercialized carnival like Christmas, Halloween, and even Easter. And Valentine's Day. (What's up with Valentine's Day? Why is that even a thing?)

It's just cooking and eating. And traveling. All other aspects of Thanksgiving are optional.

AwesomeCloud will be spending a delightful day with his cousins, at Auntie and Uncle's house two towns over. Hardly any traveling, yay! I'll be making a green bean casserole and a ricotta pie. Because on the Day of Gluttony, green vegetables should be swimming in gooey crunchy calorie-laden stuff, and having just one pie is unthinkable. There should be five or six pies. Four minimum.

I come from an Italian family, and our family feast keyword is "variety." Also, "quantity." Additionally, "longevity." My family is famous for its day-long holiday celebrations. Brother- and sister-in-law enjoy going all out for festivities, too, so even though the feast won't last six whole hours, I'm sure I won't be disappointed. (Once I participated in a Southern Thanksgiving in NC. We cooked all morning, sat down to eat, and in an hour it was over. And that was including the one lone pumpkin pie. My host was confused - "Aren't you full? One pie fed everyone, right?" - but after a lifetime of partying it up with variety, quantity, longevity, and ridiculous piles of leftovers, I couldn't adjust to the low-key version of what was basically, to me, an ordinary Sunday dinner. And without even any eggplant parmigiana.)

But just for insurance, I gotta bring just that one extra pie.

Besides, ricotta pie is easy peasy. And the kid and cousins should be given the chance to warm up to it, because it's a traditional part of my family's feast, and I'm family to them now too.

(If you're wondering why we don't go to my family's house for Thanksgiving if it's so wonderful, don't worry. My family gets Easter, which is essentially the same but with ham. I'm not into having photos with the Easter Bunny, but I love the fact that my family's feast is a feast for all occasions. Who would want to do Thanksgiving only once a year?)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

AwesomeCloud, cat lover

Last weekend, we all went to the local animal shelter to look at the 80 cats that are up for adoption. We did not get another cat. However, AwesomeCloud got to interact with cats that are not his own, and he watched other children pet the cats too.

Ever since then, he has, more often than not, petted our cats the right way.

These little turning points may seem trivial, but they're important.

Oh! Another one! I was sweeping, and Cloud sat down on the edge of the hearth and said, "Aw dits."

Then he said it again. "Aw dits. Aw dits." I looked over and he was holding a book. "Aw dits," he said, beaming at me.

I swept past him and peered down so I could read the title of the book. It was "Opposites."

OMG. My kid can hardly speak, but he can read. (Or, rather, he can memorize what things say and then recall them out of context with no prompting.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Chinese name

When my husband and I were taking Mandarin I before we went to China last year, I asked Laoshi what my name meant. She said, "Goat."

I thought that was odd, but funny. It's kind of grown on me in the past year.

Last night I was browsing our Chinese-English dictionary, and I looked up my name.

It means "Gold."


(I'd been so sure she'd said "goat.")

So, okay, I'm gold, and I still believe Laoshi's remark that it's a reasonably common name in China. I'd been under the impression that China had a cultural quirk that made it normal for them to name their girls "Goat." "Gold" makes more sense.

Then I tried to figure out my middle name, but I won't tell you the results - they were kind of dirty.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Boldness - it's the Chinese way!

There aren't very many Chinese people around here. Whenever I do see one when I'm out with AwesomeCloud, I try to make eye contact and smile, just to make some sort of social connection. I nod and smile at all sorts of other people, too; it's not just people who look Asian. I'm doing my part to make sure Cape Cod is a friendly place for tourists.

But this is about Chinese people we meet. Now, it's not true for everybody, but I've noticed that in general, Chinese strangers we meet are bold about asking questions. They ask questions so boldly, they'd make most of us adoptive parents dash for the door if those questions were asked by white people. Sometimes the phrasings they use are astonishingly blunt.

We adoptive parents like to lament and compare the awful questions we're asked in public. We like to make lists of the top ten worst things people have said to us, or the top ten worst adoption myths. We think up pithy answers to prying questions from strangers or acquaintances who are fascinated by, and often poorly informed of, transracial adoption issues.

I've been to a workshop on fending off those questions. There's a book for children to teach them W.I.S.E., a technique for defending themselves from these questions. We learn how to identify the line between small talk and rude behavior... okay, it's more of a zone, and requires a lot of judgment calls. What should my family's boundaries be, and how can I stand up to someone who crosses them? It's different from person to person, but we all realize that there should be boundaries, and that we should shield our children from rude questions.

It's nobody's business but ours. We're protecting our children and ourselves. The boundaries are necessary.

The placement of those boundaries, though, that's a cultural thing. It appears that American boundaries are way in close to us, and Chinese boundaries are a bit further out.

So how do I proceed when the nosy stranger is Chinese? I have mixed feelings about this. My first feeling is that I want my son to see that Chinese people are friendly and approachable. That they may have accents or speak English nonfluently, but that's perfectly all right and not frightening. That people enjoy talking to Chinese people they meet, and by extension, people will enjoy talking to the Chinese person he sees in the mirror.

I want to give the Chinese person a chance to say something pertinent to my son's heritage. Sometimes they do. My son's heritage will come to him in bits and pieces, however our family can gather them, and I'm willing to gather some cultural crumbs from people I meet who are from China.

I want to give the Chinese person some reassurance. They seem to have a special interest in their children, and by "their children" I mean any child who is also from China. One woman asked me if Cloud was Korean. (No, he's Chinese.) "I am too," she said. "Is he from Taiwan?" (No, I said, and told her the city I always use as a reference point for Cloud's region of origin - it's so much easier because Westerners have never heard of his hometown and native Chinese can't understand me when I mispronounce it.)

"I am from there too!" the woman exclaimed. She seemed pleased with the connection, but also concerned. Maybe she was unaware that her region was involved in international adoption. Anyway, she told me a little bit about her own son, and it ended up not being so bad in spite of the confrontational tone she'd taken at the beginning.

I want... maybe, a little, if I can figure things out for myself first... I want Cloud to become familiar with the Chinese style of conversation. Because that's part of his heritage too.

(I'm not saying he should learn it instead of cautious, American-style conversation with all our walls and boundaries. Maybe he can learn both.)

On the other hand, I find that Chinese people have misconceptions about international adoption too. And I sometimes feel as if I were educating them like I sometimes find myself educating white question-askers. (Which is a lot. Of the W.I.S.E. techniques - walk away, invoke privacy, share your story, or educate your audience - I'm primarily an educator.) But while I know what misconceptions my locally-grown neighbors need to be educated on, I can't tell you what misconceptions people of the Chinese culture may bear.

And I also don't necessarily know what my own misconceptions are. I know what I know, and in some cases I know what I don't know. But some of my knowledge might be fuzzy or obsolete. And generally not very accurate. I try. I know how to fudge my gaps of adoption knowledge with people from my culture, whose own gaps in knowledge all seem to be very similar. The adoption myths around here are all pretty pervasive. I can safely assume I know what Americans are thinking. I'm not so good at guessing the Chinese.

(A note about demographic terms: I know I'm being sloppy with my usages of "white", "American", et al. There are many cases of people fitting into the group or behavior I describe but not into the term I use. I apologize, and I'll try to fix it later if I have time. I am currently out of time.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My son helped me hang a full-length mirror

He really did. Really.

It was pretty cool. He held the ruler in place while I measured the spots for the nail holes, and then my husband came down and held the mirror so I could hang it. By the end, Cloud was beaming. Here was a great bug mirror, twice as tall as he was (actually 5/3 as tall), and he helped hang it!

As is typical of toddlers, he loves to 'help'. He grabs the broom from me and drags it along the ground. He begs to put the dishes away (into cupboards he can't possibly reach - I guess I'm supposed to give him the dish and then pick him up so he can put it in the cupboard). He wants to shut off the light and press 'play' on the CD player at bedtime.

And sometimes, with a little thought and innovation, I can convince him to 'help' in a way that's actually helpful.

He is such an only child. And I am the very image of an older parent with an only child.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mixing paperchasing and pleasure

Cloud and I went to a new storytime today. We loved it. It was a bit of a trek, but worth the travel when we have time. And it had some brown-skinned children. No Asians, though.

I just put him to bed less than an hour ago, and now I have to get him up again so we can go pick Daddy up from work and do more paperchasing related to the accident. Meh. I've barely had a moment to rest, myself.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

AwesomeCloud's adventures in the Chevy Malibu

Our Prius is in the shop indefinitely. When I called the car rental agency to reserve a car, the agent helpfully dumped doom and gloom on me about how horribly, terribly long it takes for the auto body shop to fix a collided-with car. His portentous warnings may be right, though. Our car has not been touched yet. I already asked twice.

So now we have a Chevy Malibu. My first car was a Chevy Malibu. It was a massive 8-cylinder hunk of steel, sky blue, circa 1981. My great-aunt gave it to me when I was just starting college. I could fit 6 of my college girlfriends in it, and frequently did, because I was the only one in our group who owned a car. (Freshmen were not allowed to keep cars on campus, and I was the only commuter in a clique of dorm residents.)

This Malibu is also a hunk of steel. It amazes me that a car a few inches shorter than my beloved Prius has doors so heavy that I can cramp a shoulder slamming them shut. It's also really, really tiny inside. How tiny? When I push the passenger seat so far forward that my husband is eating his knees, my son can still plant footprints in the upholstery on the back of the seat.

I also really, really miss my GPS. And my reverse camera. And my 6-CD player. (The Malibu plays one CD, and in fact already has a CD in it. Unfortunately, the CD has bad language right in the beginning of the first song, so I haven't been listening to it.)

I miss my light doors that close easily with a nudge. I miss keyless entry. I miss 45.3 miles per gallon. And i miss the shiny bright distinctive blue coloring that made it easy to discern from every other car in the parking lot except for all the identical blue Priuses. (There are a LOT of blue Priuses on the Cape.) The Malibu is dark navy blue, a color that doesn't make it any easier to remember which car is mine.

Why is it that people scoff at Priuses in favor of American-made cars? Scoff all you want, owners of cars with conventional engines. My car may fold up like a cardboard box when hit, but in all other ways, it is a far superior level of awesome.

Also, it is astonishingly easy to fix in spite of its shockingly crumpled-up appearance. The doors and crumple zones may be close to insubstantial, but the frame is where the steel's at. My auto body shop may love me more, because of all the extra work I give them. But I can shut my car's door with my toe while holding three bags of groceries and an antsy toddler and it will shut all the way.

Not to mention: 45.3 miles per gallon. Yo.

Yesterday when I left the gas station, i was practically in tears. How do you non-Prius-owners survive gassing up every week?

Ah, but this post was supposed to be about AwesomeCloud's adventures in the Chevy Malibu, not mine.

Well, he enjoys kicking the back of the passenger seat, which is moved forward as far as it will go and is still kickable.

He has also learned to recognize the car in a parking lot. I'm amazed. And grateful. A parent I was talking to at the library said she thinks her son has OCD because of his attention to detail. Forget that! I'm GLAD my son pays attention to detail! If he develops a lifelong obsession with cars, more power to him! And putting used wrappers in the trash and plates in the sink... great! A toddler wanting order is not a disorder. It's a wonderful thing.

I mean, it's not like he's obsessing about picking up his own blocks. Obviously his attention to detail is selective. I suspect his idea of paradise is a house strewn from stem to stern with blocks and cars and balls, but not a dirty spoon in sight. And i'm kind of similar. I pick up the unsightly blocks and cars and balls, but then i leave my unfinished granny squares and issues of National Geographic lying around.

Boy, I'm just full of tangents tonight.

There's really nothing else to talk about. Our post-accident adventures have mostly been paperchasing and errand running, with occasional stops at BJ's so we can feast on food samples.

He can say 'ham." Which is a big deal because he has not been forthcoming with the M sound so far. And then tonight he said 'poem."

Monday, November 8, 2010

National adoption month

I guess November is National Adoption Month. That's what some of the other bloggers are saying.

So let's take a moment to think of AwesomeCloud's original family. Nobody knows who they might be or why they made the decision to allow their stunningly beautiful boy, healthy in all ways but one, to enter the social welfare system. But I can take an educated guess. And no matter if my guess is right or wrong, no matter what the true story was - no matter if his parents were teenagers or migrant workers or members of the up-and-coming Chinese middle class - it's a story of heartbreak and tragedy.

I wish they'd had more access to health care. I wish they'd had more support. Yes, i'm saying what you think I'm saying - I wish my son's original parents had been able to keep him and raise him themselves. I don't think anything would have been wrong with his life if they had. With a little bit of medical treatment, he would have been strong and healthy, just like he is now. He would have been smart and joyful, just like he is now. He would have loved Chinese food and happily said, "Xie xie," and "Hen hao," just like he does now.

The only catch is that he first had to enter the records of CCAA and then be sent to America in order to do that.

It's heartbreaking and tragic that China can provide a child with lifesaving surgery once the child is in the government's possession and earmarked for international adoption. But it can't provide the child's parents with the means for that lifesaving surgery so that the parents may keep the child.

Don't think it's just China, though. The US has its own dirty little adoption industry habits too. Like those church-run charities who promise troubled mothers-to-be all sorts of resources, and then push the adoption option and scare them away from all other options. These organizations provide a service to prospective adoptive families, and everything else is just business.

It's hard navigating the adoption industry and finding an option that is morally clean and honest. Additionally, some of the most upfront options can seem overwhelming just on account of their requirements and regulations. We found that pretty much every system needs reform.

China, at least, is in the midst of a massive nationwide reform. What China does badly, it's attempting to do better. I can't fix the way they handle health care access. I can't criticize them for not providing for AwesomeCloud better. There's only one thing we can do: Once AwesomeCloud had slipped through the cracks of China's flawed but improving system, we were here to catch him. Now that he's here, in safe loving hands, the three of us will all do our best to move forward and be each other's family. Whether he's ours more than theirs or theirs more than ours, I don't worry about. AwesomeCloud is his own person. His life story goes how it goes. The rest of us - parents, more parents, orphanage caregivers, adoption agents, and everyone else - are just supporting characters in the AwesomeCloud Saga.

To my fellow supporting characters, the original parents, I just wish to say this: I know you're there, somewhere. Cloud does too, in a way, and if he doesn't know now, he will someday. I'm sure you're wondering how the AwesomeCloud Saga is going. (It's going well.) I'm sure you hope his Saga is long, meandering, and ultimately happy. We do too. So far, so good.

I'd also like to tell you: your son helped me sew today! With a real needle and thread! I was repairing a tear in his daddy's pocket, and I'd insert the needle and then let him pull it through. He was very good at it and had a blast.

He also does yardwork. He shovels little clods of dirt with his little trowel and sends them flying through the air. Then he laughs. It's very cute.

I wish you could meet him. He's awesome.

I'd promise to find you and introduce you to him someday, but... well... I don't think that would be possible. Thanks to all those government regulations and shortcomings, you know.

We have government regulations and shortcomings over here too. It's not just you.

Anyway, I hope you're doing well.

Happy Adoption Month.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


So. We've been more than 24 hours without a car.

Unfortunately, the car still manages to occupy my mind more than anything except my son. And that's because he starts climbing all over me and/or whining if I let my thoughts drift back to the car for too long. I guess this is the consequence of falling in love with a vehicle that is designed to crumple like a cardboard box if it's hit by a truck.

Hey, at least the lady didn't plow into one of those middle-aged men driving Mazda Miatas. Her truck would've run right over one of those cute little cars and stopped on the opposite side.

The body shop guys don't plan to even look at my car until the adjustor stops by on Monday. So we're left hanging - is it salvageable or a total loss? I wouldn't be surprised if they slap some new doors on it and declare it good as new. But it's possible the opposite will happen.

I was going 20 MPH. The other lady was rapidly accelerating from a dead stop. It would be nice to think that in such a situation, the damage wouldn't be all that terrible. But there is a big difference between a Lincoln Monster Truck SUV and a 45.3 MPG petite Toyota Prius Hybrid.

Would we replace our Prius with another Prius? Absolutely. Like I said, I've fallen in love with the Prius. A Prius owner's love is sublime and hard to shake off. All the jokes out there about Prius owners are true. It's comparable to the love Miata owners feel for their cars. I don't know about SUV owners. I get the impression that many of them love their dogs.

Speaking of which, our neighbor stopped to help us, and drove us home after the police reports were done and the tow truck guy had come, and she had her dog in her SUV. Duchess the elderly black lab. Duchess was a good dog, after some barking and licking.

Anyway, so, we're carless. We could have gotten a rental last night; the insurance agency assured us they'd reimburse us. But we didn't. We're going to stick it out for the weekend and then deal with it on Monday morning, when people are around so I can ask questions.

Oh, did I also mention that our garage door opening mechanism snapped clean in half? Completely unrelated! And the garage door installer just called and said he was coming... Monday morning. Sweet. Let's everything happen at once please.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Car accident

Kiddo and I were in a car accident. No one was injured except the car. A woman slammed into us from the side while pulling out into the street we were driving down. There's a lot more to it than that. But I just took a hot relaxing shower and I'm going to relax now. Hope all of you had less adrenaline and less time spent on the phone today than I did!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Toy trains, and thinking too far ahead

My son has been fascinated with a giant hobby train in the window of the mall Toys'R'Us.

He's way too young for me to be wondering whether he'll become a toy train hobbyist. But I wonder anyway. Because that's what moms do. We let our minds wander around the world of possible futures. (At least, I do. I've gotten some funny looks from other moms sometimes when I speculate aloud. What do those women think about? Isn't a mind devoid of speculation a pretty dull place?)

So let's say Cloud continues to love trains, and becomes passionate about building train tables with little model houses and fuzzy trees. Would I encourage him? How much? I mean, of course I'm going to encourage him, but how much of the lead am I going to let him take, and how much nudging will I do?

Train hobbyists have convention circuits, you know.

And it also occurs to me that it's not a very big leap from model trains to wargames.


WWII miniatures reenactments with real, working electric trains.

That would be so awesome.

(Yes, I know Cloud is still two years old. I'm just thinking ahead a bit.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Seasonal/political blues

I haven't felt like blogging lately. In fact I haven't felt like doing anything lately.

But I'll tell you a story. I got a political call at lunchtime today. The guy said, "Hi my name is Bob I'm calling on behalf of Jeff Perry I was hoping he could count on your support."

"...." I said.

"Hello?" he said.

"Sorry," I said. "That was a lot at once."

"Oh. Well, I just called to ask you to support Jeff Perry for Congress."

"No," I said.

"No? ....why not?"

"I am not pleased with the Republicans in general right now. They're far too combative."

"Combative?!?" he said. "We're not.. huff huff... sputter sputter..."

"Have you watched TV lately?" I asked.

"Yes," he said. "The system is broken and it can't continue on the way it's going. Don't you want the government to be fixed?"

"Of course I do," I said. "But I'm not sure why you seem so surprised that I used the word 'combative' to describe Republicans." (I mean, geez, mister, you're being it right now. Caught up in the hype - any hype will do.)

"Have you seen what the Democrats are doing?" he sputtered. "Now THAT'S combative!"

"That's true here," I said. "But in general, in the wider view, Republicans' behavior fails to impress me. I would prefer to replace something bad with something better."

(The dirty Democratic politics Bob was referring to was Bill Keating's unpalatable smear campaign, which, yeah, is uncalled-for and off-putting, but not quite what I'd meant by 'combative'.)

"I'm looking hard at Maryanne Lewis," I continued. "I agree with hardly any of her opinions - I agree with two, I think, at most - but at least she's clean."

"Sputter sputter," Bob replied. "Humina humina!"

"Anyway, good luck in your campaigning," I said. "Bye!"

Hey, I'm too polite to EVER end a phone call with anything other than 'bye'. I have an example to set for my son. However I want him to speak to people, that's how I need to try to speak to people. I hope he grows more social skills than I have, though. I seem to have reached the glass ceiling for social skills. I'm as good as I'm ever going to get.

But right now socializing has been stressful and sometimes difficult. Well, it's mixed. When I talk to Karen, a lovely older lady, at mallwalking, it goes well enough. (Except she keeps bringing up astrology, and I'm sorry, I'm much more interested in astronomy.)

But then other times, I come away feeling rotten. Like the time I asked the storytime lady if she'd throw in a few more multicultural books. She apparently thought I meant specific multicultural books, and when I told her I meant multicultural books in general, she told me to search the shelves for some.

So I did.

And there was crap for choices there. Like, really almost nothing. Which is sad and strange, because I'm sure there are tons of multicultural children's books in publication. The children's librarian opined that she was sure the library had plenty of them, but my eyes told me otherwise.

I wonder if the Hyannis library has a storytime. And more multicultural storybooks. And maybe even a multiracial audience.

If it has all three, I'm totally defecting.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Thoughts on pumpkins

I could make some novel jack-o-lanterns this year. If I were to favor a Halloween tradition for my family, that would be one. I'd carve the pumpkins up, industriously make pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie with the insides, roast the seeds, and carve an interesting face into the shell. Then I'd insert a candle and show it off on the front porch.

Last year I carved a bear. Or was it two years ago? Before that... I don't remember. I carved something.

I don't know if it's going to happen this year. I'm behind on household projects - there's a pot of Ban Lu food in the fridge waiting to go into the food processor, and the list of unfinished chores just goes on and on. I spent the morning cleaning up toys and strewn laundry, but the results are disappointing.

I guess I like Halloween well enough, as holidays go. I think two sets of parents ruin it - the Type A overachievers who turned it into an elaborate mega-party-fest, and the paranoid moms and dads who obsess over safety to the detriment of everything else. Seriously, nobody has ever been confirmed to hand out toxic treats to strangers' kids. There's not one confirmed case of that. But the stories persist, and the people who tell these stories expect me to care, and I don't.

What can really be dangerous is when the kids get older and take Halloween as an opportunity to do something stupid. But I'm not there yet.

I'm also dismayed to see the proliferation of costume shops and candy displays. Who buys all this crap? In my opinion, people buy too much. Halloween is the perfect time for recycling and reusing, as kids and parents get all innovative with old clothes and cheap materials. Admittedly, the stores are selling much nicer costumes than they ever did when I was a kid. But I can't see that as a good thing. I will not encourage this trend by actually buying any costumes. Ever. Hey, I can sew. I can innovate. I can make costumes with some durability, to be reused for years. Like my mad scientist costume, which I've worn (or not worn) every year since we released Zephyr & Reginald: Minions For Hire and am wearing (or not wearing) again this year.

And I'm quite proud of my husband's costume. He got it all from thrift stores. I only have to add some finishing touches made of felt, and then I will show it to you.

Kiddo's costume... well. We have two hand-me-down costumes that are quite nice, but which one we choose, and how, remains to be seen. You see, the tiger costume is apparently too fluffy. Fluffy is apparently an issue. Okay. I can respect that. He's gonna wear something; whether it be tiger or no.

My real "rampant consumerism" rant is about Christmas, though. For Halloween, the trend toward greater spending adds nothing to the pleasure of the event, but it doesn't quite ruin it either. Thing is, I like chocolate.

I can enjoy myself and keep it quiet and not do any more grumbling until it's closer to Christmas. And even then, I have my favorite holiday to lighten things up a bit - Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving. It's all food, nothing else. Nobody has added any crazy extra stuff - pseudo-history and football are easy enough to ignore - and they hopefully never will.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Some days, it's not about the kid

Some days, the one responsible for you being at the end of your rope is you.

I finished the tarp and rolled it up. I reassembled the blender and put it downstairs. I took care of the yucky chicken bones. I dealt with an astonishingly gross diaper. And we went to the mall and bought nothing.

That's not a lot of stuff for one morning, but it was still too much for low-energy me. And when Cloud begged for lunch and then spooned his soup all over his side of the kitchen table... he was just being a kid. Soup isn't the worst thing ever to be turned into a toy. But I looked at the soup-covered tabletop, and thought ehhhh, and into the crib he went for an early nap.

Sorry, kid.

I'm napping too... just... upstairs.

(I'll do better next week.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The boy who loved his Prius

See this blue Prius?

My son can not only recognize our car, but he can distinguish any Prius. And lately, he has been. One of his new hobbies is obsessing over other people's Priuses. He hasn't said the word "Prius" yet, but he's been trying. Right now, he points and shrieks whenever he sees one, or has to run over and touch it.

Today we parked next to a dark blue Prius (ours is light blue) and he went over to the other Prius and jokingly asked to be let in. He was laughing and everything.

Yeah, Prius snob indeed. Some people say that anyone who owns a Prius becomes a Prius snob. That may yet be true.

Other than that, today has been kind of a drag.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Me and the intern, hangin' out

So we had our first adoption playgroup this morning. I showed up. AwesomeCloud showed up. The adoption agency's intern showed up - she was very friendly and we had a great two hours chatting while Cloud enjoyed himself on the playground and stuffed his face with brownies.

I had a friend who was going to come, but she woke up sick. She tried to convince her husband to bring the kids instead, but he didn't want to be the only daddy in a big group of mommies.

I wish.

He would have evened out the gender balance anyway, if you count the genders of the kids, because they have one boy and one girl (not counting the older children). But alas, he didn't; oh well; that's how it goes.

I'm reminding myself not to say, "Typical." It's not like people are trying to avoid me. They don't even know me. To them, I'm just a generic adoptive mom running a perfectly respectable-sounding playgroup that they can come to or not. Everyone chose the "or not" option today. Maybe they'll choose the "come" option next month.

How many months in a row of empty playgroups would you tolerate before you give up? Just hypothetically? I don't really think that's going to happen. I'm just wondering.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Unhaunted hayride

Today Cloud had his first hayride. It was Tobey Farms' Not-So-Scary Hayride. The hay wagon drove around the regular, Scary Hayride path in the middle of the day, when the kids could see that the skeletons had strings and the ghosts were made out of cloth and the witches were inflatable. AwesomeCloud was the youngest hayrider, but not by much - there were some 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds too. I think the presence of the other children eased his trepidation even further.

Navigating childhood fears is an interesting and complex topic. And it's one you hardly hear a thing about. Mommy blogs and child development experts wax long and hard about practically every parenting topic on the face of the earth. Yet I've hardly heard a word about addressing childhood fears, and now that I'm doing it myself, I have no guidance.

I bet it's one of the factors that turn parents into helicopter parents. You start out by rescuing your baby from every perceived scary experience, no matter how harmless, because you figure you can loosen up later when the kid is older. But the kid gets older, and older, and somehow that loosening up thing never quite gets off the ground.

I dunno. I'm just making this up.

At the end, there was a lollipop, which healed any residual anxiety that might have occurred. He seemed a little anxious, but not terribly so.

And he was clingy before the hayride, too. He cut his lip this morning, and it must have been bothering him.

"I can't walk, Mama. My lip hurts. Carry me."

He might've said that if he could. And I would probably have still carried him.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Very good!

This morning, my son said, "Hěn hǎo." That means "Very good" in Mandarin. I'm so proud of him. Admittedly, he was just imitating me. Over the past year, I've gradually lost my Mandarin and really only use "Hěn hǎo" and "Lái lái lái" (Come come come, or come here) on a regular basis anymore.

But he's so good at tones. Probably better than me. I worked hard to learn tones, but he imitates my tones perfectly.

I'm starting to feel a little pang of regret that he's not getting the opportunity to learn Mandarin at this time in his life. He'd be so good at it. I can't guess whether he'd have more success at learning Mandarin than English. I wonder. But there's no way to know.

Now I want to resolve, again, to teach myself Mandarin. Or at least to try harder to keep the Mandarin I know. Unfortunately, resolving and doing are two different things.

Today will be busy. First we're going to the Fall Festival at our friend's Baptist Church. Then we go into Boston for a comic artists' meeting. Then we visit Great-Grandma and Auntie, because they live so close to where the meeting will be.

Then I will drop from exhaustion. Oh well. At least I washed all the dishes, cleaned the fishtank, and got assorted other housework done already. A moderately neat-ish house makes me moderately happy-ish.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Feelin' better

I found exactly the right person to talk to, and I'm feeling better now. Sometimes talking helps.

Not to perpetuate gender stereotypes, but sometimes I am sooo very much a woman. :)

Meanwhile, everyone is excited about AwesomeCloud's strides in language. He's been blurting out new words, sometimes two-syllable words, sometimes two-word phrases, sometimes in appropriate circumstances. For instance, this morning I was crouched down on the floor with my dustpan and brush, and he said, "Excuse me," as he pushed past me.

Actually it sounded more like "Hoo hee." But I'll take it. His affinity for consonants is lagging behind his known vocabulary.

He also says "Thank you." He says it when he gets something he wants. Awesome.

I'm trying to reinforce that one by replying "thank you" instead of "you're welcome." I'm afraid that saying "you're welcome" will just confuse him, since he doesn't know anything about complex verbal exchanges like that one. And because, normally in other situations, if he says something and I'm pleased that he says it, I repeat his phrase back at him to reinforce it. So I should repeat "thank you" back at him too.

But it's so hard. I have to override a lifetime of automatic response conditioning.

There are some new challenges arising with him, too, but I don't feel like discussing them. I just wanted to share the "excuse me" and "thank you."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

In absentia

Sorry I haven't been blogging much lately. I have several excuses.

1) Naptime recently got a little shorter. I guess I should be grateful Cloud still takes naps at all.

2) When I'm on the computer, I frequently have to be working. My husband had the whole summer off, which was great for my ability to find time to do my work. But now he's at work again, and tired in the evenings.

3) When I do get computer playtime, I'd rather be playing Spore. I have my heart set on winning Spore. I feel like winning Spore is a goal within my reach. Right now I really crave having a goal within my reach. Real life isn't offering very many. I want to do something that isn't doomed to fail, and isn't just endlessly treading water. In Spore, I just need to fill my coffers and upgrade my weapons, and I totally have a chance of winning. In real life, not so much.

4) Something happened that's bothering me. It's personal, so I won't blog about it. It comes in two parts - an infuriating part and a worrisome part. I've been focusing very heavily on being angry, to the point where I haven't had any energy left to be worried. My subconscious is probably doing this on purpose. If so, nothing I say about the issue is entirely accurate, and you'd need an emotion interpreter to figure out what I really mean. (Good luck with that.) And anyway, the whole issue is rendered moot by the fact that there's no solution, and no real change in our everyday lives, and therefore I'm not quite justified in calling it a problem. I'm basically pissy over nothing. But it's an infuriating nothing.

There. Aren't you glad I shared that with you?

In slightly better news, I'm starting an adoptive family playgroup. We'll meet once a month. I'm running it.

Yes, me. Really.

I didn't bust my butt to organize this thing, so don't start thinking I've been replaced by an alien clone. It practically organized myself. Even better, I invited one personal friend to bring her two little ones, so I'm hoping she'll come. Aaaaand, this morning at the super awesome playground, I met two adoptive moms and their kids, invited them on the spot, and they sounded very interested.

See? It's a playgroup that organizes itself!

I'll bring some snacks and some toys and the checklist of maintenance tasks I have to perform before we leave the community center. And that's it! Sweet and simple.

Okay, I have an hour left before naptime is over. I have to go play Spore. Bye.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

No, I am the mother. He is my son.

I spoke that line to a woman in BJ's today. She was 'entertaining' Cloud by activating a scary, singing, dancing Mickey Mouse on the shelf. Cloud watched from a safe distance in morbid fascination. The woman kept pushing Mickey's On button, and at one point I warned her not to take it down and try to get Cloud to touch it, because he prefers those creepy moving toys at a distance.

She said to me, "You're not his mother, are you? You're the babysitter?"

I was extremely polite and controlled. I figure that correcting her mistake was embarrassing enough for the old lady. She didn't mean any harm, and she'd been caught by a stranger in the act of prejudging.

I later learned that she'd once kidnapped her own children illegally, and she really wanted to talk about it. But social convention didn't allow her to. (And I'm not THAT much of a street psychologist. No thank you.) So she said something vague about it, I made a vague but supportive reply, and we parted ways.

As my son becomes braver in public, and not so joined to me at the hip, I suppose I will increasingly resemble a babysitter to some people. He was, at the time, eating a BJ's food sample and dragging his feet while he followed me around the store. But so far I've only been asked about my status as possibly not his mother twice.

Much more frequently, strangers assume he's adopted and they want to gush over adoption in general or over the adoptions that occurred in their families.

I guess it's a good thing for the majority of people that they assume correctly. I mean, I could be the babysitter, and he could be third-generation Asian-American with parents just as Asian as him. You never know until you ask.

What question is so open-ended, though, that it doesn't include any assumptions? "So, what's your story?" Hmm. No. That has a certain subtle rudeness to it that even "Is he adopted?", also a somewhat rude question, doesn't have. "Is he adopted?" is rude just because it's presumptuous. "So, what's your story?" is outright prying.

Okay, it's all prying.

It's so hard to deal with all the prying and still stay polite. But I like being polite. Rudeness burns bridges, and I don't have that many bridges.

Fortunately, strangers in general aren't as prying as they were a year or six months ago. I think it has something to do with Cloud's age. People still dote on him left and right, but more and more often, they just say, "He's so CUTE!!!" And made other casual, generalized observations. He's so tall, he's so friendly, etc.

(He's not tall. He's just skinny - or, as I put it to be politically correct, wiry.)

I don't have any stunning revelations about awkward social interactions to give you. Unfortunately, this experience is par for the course in an obvious adoption. I guess it says something about people's awareness of adoption. People, especially older people, know something about interracial adoption and they're interested in learning more about it. They wish to make contact with adoptive families. They want to interact with the darling Asian children.

(I can't do a comparison of races from personal experience; the only reason I single out Asian children here is because Cloud is one.)

It's about them, really. Not about us. And if the person's point of reference is very, very different, as was the case with the old woman we met today, the results can be... odd.

Maybe even disturbing, if one lets oneself be disturbed. However, that is not their intention. Their intention is simply outreach. Contact. And I bet that Cloud's age is a MUCH bigger factor than his ethnicity or familial status. Old people love children.

Maybe their children are my age and their grandchildren hardly ever come to visit.

Maybe they have holes in their hearts because something went wrong in their families.

Maybe people my age would be coming up and doting on Cloud, too, but they're too shy. Social convention doesn't allow for that very much. In China, it does, but not here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

My 24-Hour comic

I did it. On Saturday I drew a 24-page comic book in 24 hours.

I also oversaw a firewood delivery, did two loads of laundry, cleaned the aquarium, and slept for 6 hours.

It's autobiographical, covering the last year, and primarily this spring and summer, in my adventures parenting.

Here's a sample page, page 16, the only one so far that I've scanned. I haven't gone through and erased all the pencil marks yet, so the book is still largely illegible, but this page has hardly any text.

Since then, my left hand has been in recovery mode, so I haven't felt like typing anything. I've been reading my blog list, though. I'm still here. I'll type something more substantial later.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Audubon baby

AwesomeCloud and I just got back from the first-ever MA Audubon media and marketing volunteer meeting.

We have been assigned to.... Facebook!


No, no, it'll be fun. It actually plays to some of my strengths. Sure, it takes an enormous amount of restaint for me to write something one paragraph long, but I should learn to practice restraint. The blog idea was nixed in favor of the Facebook one-liners, but it's essentially the same thing... just... shorter... and I get to leave helpful comments when someone asks a question, too. And the staff will provide some of the content - photos and stuff. There's no such thing as too much content, so we'll add some of our own, too. Which means we need to show up more often. Audubon is going to have to become the place we go when we go somewhere.

Oh no. They're all going to become terribly sick of us. We are going to wear out our welcome so quick, it won't be funny.

But, the alternative is to be a lousy media volunteer, and that won't do anyone any good. They're all just going to have to get used to Destructo-Kid tearing around the visitor center, grabbing at fragile birds' nests and horseshoe crab shells and leaving a trail of rubble everywhere he goes.

(Side note to my sister: Yes, it's true. It was a little late coming, but we've finally reached the Destructo-Kid stage. I get what you've been going through now.)

There's not much action going on in the winter, so we'll use this time to implement our systems. I've also been assigned to spiff up the website. This is the website now. I'm supposed to add more content.

So, my long-windedness won't be wasted after all. I can write website articles.


In unrelated news, I'll be doing this on Saturday:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

10 questions meme

Wendy tagged me for a 10 questions meme. I haven't been feeling very writerly or bloggerly lately, but with the contents of my blog post laid out for me already, I guess I can do this.

1. What's your biggest pet peeve?

Weird. Punctuation. Because question marks and periods in the middles of sentences? Are just wrong. I know it's supposed to indicate vocal inflection, but the technique doesn't work. It works a little bit better after months of exposure, I suppose. However, my Bad Grammar Alarm is giving me a headache, and drowning out the intended inflections.

2. Where and how did you meet your spouse?

Funny story! I had just broken up with my previous boyfriend of three years. That was three years of bad relationship, but it took me two years to realize the guy was a bad investment, and one year to get rid of him. Therefore, when I dumped him, I promised myself three whole months in which I wouldn't THINK about guys; I wouldn't LOOK at any guys; I'd still talk to them, but I certainly wouldn't FLIRT with them. No way. Not me. I was free.

But I had almost no friends. My ex-boyfriend didn't tend to like me having friends hanging around. So my co-worker decided he'd remedy this by introducing me to all of HIS friends. (He didn't realize that this is my default state of social existence - I can't claim that I'd've been Ms. Popularity if the ex hadn't driven them off.)

My co-worker invited me to a Monday Night Card Game. I didn't know what game was being played; he didn't tell me, and I assumed it was poker. Me at a poker game would be truly surreal, but I went.

It wasn't poker. It was Magic: The Gathering. I'd never heard of it, but one fellow took it upon himself to teach me to play. There were hundreds of different cards, and each had a lovely piece of artwork on it and some instructions. It was all very complicated and geeky. The guy was very sweet, though, and although I didn't learn how to play Magic until a year later, he and I found something we did have in common: storytelling.

That was 1.5 months after my vow to spend 3 months as a free spirit. I don't miss the other 1.5 months.

3. Favorite food?

Ice cream. I wish it weren't. There's nothing redeeming about ice cream except that it tastes sooooo good.

4. Deserted island...what three things are you bringing with you (no other humans allowed)?

The Boy Scout Handbook - thanks to my husband for that idea. I want to be able to meet my basic camping needs.
A pile of sketchbooks. With all that free time, I may as well turn it into an artist's retreat, right? If I stay there long enough, I may finish Knifeclaw Company AND Zephyr & Reginald: Minions For Hire #4. How sweet would that be?
The scripts. I can't draw comic books if I don't bring the scripts.

5. Favorite TV show?

Um... The Daily Show, I guess. It's the only show I watch. It probably wouldn't be my favorite show if I had more of a selection, but I don't, so it is.

I also watch Frontline, but that makes me cry, so I can't really justify saying it's my favorite.

6. Three adjectives to describe you?

Reticent, fickle, and short.

7. Worst job?

Hmmm. I've had a few bad jobs in my time.

I'm going to say the job at the new age gift shop. I only worked there for one day, without training. Worse, I opened the store that day, and my boss hadn't showed me where the lights were or how to use the cash register or anything! I figured it out myself. Then the Tarot reader was a bitch to me. He wouldn't speak to me directly at all, but muttered unkind things about me within my range of hearing. My second day of work was supposed to be September 12. I showed up, but the owner was wailing about the apocalypse and told me to go home and forget about the job and any semblance of a normal life, because the Muslims were going to get us all. Her vendors were Muslim and were most certainly terrorists, and she had no choice but to close the store. I tried to talk some sense into her. Unfortunately, reason was not popular that day, and I must have hit some really sore spot in her. Weeks later, noticing the store was still open, I went in to ask her about the job. She slipped into the back room, and I was left talking to a new woman who told me that the store owner was really quite busy, and I probably shouldn't drop by anymore. Ever. Not even as a customer.

8. Biggest fear?

Success. It's a strange one, but I know why I fear success.

Early in life, I didn't receive very good guidance in navigating pursuits I was interested in. I wasn't very ambitious, and I didn't know what my options were. I needed some pushes in the right direction. The pushes I got were inadequate, and my achievement bar remained very low.

As I got older, the people around me developed an attitude that everything I did was wrong. I began to have to be careful, because the price of being wrong got steeper and steeper, and no matter what approach I took, it always seemed to be wrong. Even doing nothing was wrong. For a while, I gave up on achievements altogether, because accomplishing something drew attention to myself, and attention was dangerous. Many of my decisions during that time were bad, but you can hardly blame me. I spent years in basic survival mode, on the lower rungs of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. And now that I have the opportunity to climb to the top rung, self-actualization, I hesitate. I don't want to try to accomplish anything - not because I might fail, because I'm fine with failure. I can fail over and over for the rest of my life and never leave my comfort zone. But what if I succeed? What if I accomplish something and it's wrong, and somebody notices? What if I succeed at something and my Hierarchy of Needs foundation is too flimsy? Will my success be disqualified?

9. What's on your mind right now?

How terribly, terribly tired I am. And how my new pedometer is being wasted. I so want to strap it on and watch the numbers go up up up.... but that would require moving.

10. Ideal vacation location?

Northeastern Arizona. Where the climate is similar to New England's - at least in winter - and the last of the southwestern Indian tribes eke out an existence in abject poverty. My soul is drawn to the life of the downtrodden, the oppressed, the person without opportunity. We did that to them - white Americans of European origin - and I want to undo it. I want to die undoing it. I want to see my knuckles bleed from the sheer hopeless effort of paying for the sins of my countrymen.

Okay, that's not really about taking a vacation. But the only time I've been to Arizona was on vacation, and now the idea of vacation reminds me of it.

Now I've worn myself out. I don't know who to tag, anyhow. Half of you have already done this meme, and the other half either don't read this blog or don't have a blog.

I'm going to go play some Spore.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A MICE Saturday

Yesterday started with a comic show - MICE, the Massachusetts Indy Comic Expo. It was in the middle of Boston, an awkward location if you're traveling, but great if you live in the vicinity. We do not live in the vicinity.

It was a nice little show, but there was hardly any elbow room. Not ideal conditions for an active toddler. AwesomeCloud is no longer that tiny boy who could sit quietly in his stroller and watch. Nor is he that little kid who was content not to touch much of anything, as long as someone was paying attention to him. No, now he's a whirlwind of activity and curiosity. He likes to run, not walk, and grab, not look.

So I took him outside, where we wandered around until we found a park with a good view of the Green Line. I can't say much else about the park. It was a typical Boston University park, with a sculpture that was no fun to touch, and an installation-in-progress with a sign explaining what the artist was doing, and not much art to show for her efforts. I probably should not have let AwesomeCloud walk on the art. But the art was on concrete blocks, and I almost would have missed it entirely if I hadn't read the sign. Besides, the sign said the art was supposed to be 'weathered', and a toddler walking on it is a form of weathering.

At about noonish, Cloud and I left Daddy behind and headed to Norwood for our great-aunt's surprise 80th birthday party. We got stuck in traffic and it took us an hour to get there. AwesomeCloud was staaaaarving. Fortunately, Henrichetta had brought a big plate of delicious soft Italian cookies, and Cloud chowed down on those. Aunty was even later than we were, so we got to say hi to people before taking our places to yell, "SURPRISE!"

The party was lovely. Cloud had a grand old time with his nonna and poppa and a dozen aunts, uncles, and honorary aunts. Everybody loved him. Everybody wanted to talk about him. Which was good, because by that time, I was already exhausted and didn't feel like talking about much else. But I can always talk about my son.

After that, we went back to MICE to get Daddy. Amazingly, it was already 5:30 when we got there and nobody was packing up to leave! I couldn't find a parking space at first, so I panicked about finding a way to tell my husband to pack up and come downstairs while I was idling out front with my kid in the car. But then my friend Everett, another comic creator, passed by, and I told him to send Rick down. Then suddenly I got a parking space. So it was all right.

We sold $78 worth of books. Wow. We might have sold more, but we ran out of "Unpopular Species" Issues #1 and #2. The comic store owners from Maine were there, and they told us they'd sold out of "Unpopular Species" in their store and wanted more. So we just sold them 18 copies on the spot.

So that was pretty cool. Rick says $78 is a record for us. You know what? Having a lot of different books to sell really makes a difference. It's fun to see which books sell best, but the truth is that we only have a few duds, and most of our books contribute to our success.

There are some weird setup quirks, too. For instance, "I Believe... one cat's spiritual statement" sells better if we arrange it in two piles.

Today I'm supposed to be working on my To-Do list around the house, but I'm moving very slowly. I'm too tired to do much.

Today is also the start of Banned Books Week. Find out if your local library is having a Banned Books Week event, or find a book that somebody has banned and read it. (Unless you're one of the people who goes around supporting the banning of books. Then you're excused. AwesomeCloud's mom is not like that, though.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy adoption day, AwesomeCloud!

Today is our one-year adoption day anniversary. I was going to write a comprehensive retrospective, but I have two reasons not to. One, I haven't felt like writing all week. Or being at all social. Two, we had such a lovely, perfect morning that I'll write about that instead.

It started with me waking up to appetite-killing nausea and a sink full of dirty dishes. No, that's not the perfect part. The forecast said windy with a chance of rain, so AwesomeCloud and I did the only thing that made sense. We went to the cool new playground up the street. It's specially designed for disabled children, with ramps leading up into the structures, shallow slides, and accessories that spin and toot within wheelchair's reach. The side benefit is, it's a wonderland for toddlers who have trouble with steep stairs or ladders and are intimidated by older-kid slides.

The place is usually crawling with toddlers, but today was windy with a chance of rain. So we were the only ones there. It was paradise. A whole huge playground all to ourselves, without the huge crowd jostling him and getting in his way.

After a while, a grandmother and grandson showed up. The other little boy, who was smaller but slightly more verbal than Cloud, avoided AwesomeCloud and played by himself at first. But AwesomeCloud decided to change that. He went up to the kid and started playing with him. The kid pushed him and upset him a little, and the grandmother scolded him ineffectively - the kid was just being unfriendly, and that was that.

But Cloud kept working at him, little by little. And eventually, the kid warmed up. What might have finally changed his mind was that Cloud gestured to the slide that they both wanted to use.

The kid looked at me questioningly. (I'd been giving lots of verbal directions. The grandmother was a mostly quiet type, so somehow I became Teh Authoritay.)

"He wants you to go first," I explained.

The kid suddenly perked up. He slid first, and after that he was much more welcoming of AwesomeCloud's presence.

My kid knows how to make friends!!! Yay!

Then we went home, cleaned ourselves up a little bit, and went to O'ville center. We said hi to our friends the bank tellers, who let us play with some matchbox cars while we waited for our money. Then we ran up and down the post office ramp, yay. Then we went to the library, where there was - surprise - a storytime, and - surprise! - snacks! Cloud ate some snacks and sat thru one story. But I was hungry, having not eaten a thing all morning due to nausea, so we left. We went to the Cheese Shop and got a sandwich and chowder to go, saying hi to Brenda and Bill (and the employee, whose name I do not know) while we were there.

Then we drove to Hyannis Center and parked next to McDonald's. There are hardly any McDonald's on the Cape, and I had a coupon. So we got a fruit smoothie for Cloud and a free frappe for me, and then we strolled with our sandwich, chowder, and drinks to the park near the John F. Kennedy museum. We sat on the bench and ate our delicious lunch. Cloud hogged the clam chowder, like he always does, but I got a few bites at the end.

Then we went end-of-season souvenir shopping. We didn't buy anything. But we went into the vintage clothing consignment store, and it is incredible! Steampunk costumery, here we come! (We still didn't buy anything. I'll go back with my husband later and we can spend some time assembling costumes together.)

We also saw a Duck Tour vehicle up close and personal. Cloud was enraptured by it. It was full of tourists, waiting to start their tour. We let them practice waving at us. It passed us later on, after the tour had commenced, and we got waved at again.

It's important to wave at tourists on a Duck Tours tour. When they're in that thing, they feel like they ought to be waving. And if we wave back, they'll feel like the locals are friendly and they'll want to come back.

I hereby vow to wave at every Duck Tour that passes me while I'm walking. I don't actually work in the tourism industry, but I should do my part somehow.

Then we went back to the car. I won't tell you what we did next. But I will tell you that it's Rick's birthday today, and that has something to do with it.

It's naptime now. When Cloud wakes up and Rick gets home, we'll go out to eat. Chinese, of course. :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Adoption anniversary is coming up

One year ago today we visited Tiananmen Square and then flew to Nanjing.

Today is also Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Sorry, I'm not gonna.

Monday, September 13, 2010


I never showed off my cake.

I made this for a friend. Nice, huh? I rather like how it came out.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Control your dog - please!

I like dogs. AwesomeCloud wants to like dogs. Dogs themselves aren't the thing that's got me so annoyed right now. It's the dogs' owners.

Dog owners love their dogs. Their dogs are like little children to them, or grandchildren, or princesses. Dog owners are very concerned about the well-being of their dogs, and they are quick to defend their dogs against any hostile humans who don't want the dogs around. People who dislike dogs are persona non grata. And anyone who doesn't actively dislike a dog is a dog lover, or at least is able to cope with the dog.

Even if the person is... two years old?

Apparently so!

And if I, Mama, disagree?

I get argued with.

Gah. I want AwesomeCloud to spend time with his relatives. But it's getting to the point where it's easier to avoid the relatives with dogs than to explain to them the adoption issues that turn me into an overprotective parent. This is about adoption. Oh hell yes, it is. But as much as people love to talk and think about adoption, they want it all to be pretty. They want it all to match their nonadoptive parenting experiences exactly. They certainly don't want to alter their own thoughts or actions to accommodate adoption issues. And don't even think about speaking up against the dogs.

But if they think I'm going to accommodate THEM instead of my son... well, sadly, they're right. I screwed up yesterday. It's natural to favor the adult relative's perspective over my son's. My adult relatives argue a very convincing case, and my son is so stoic that it can be easy to doubt that he's struggling.


AwesomeCloud is still learning the act of trust. He may be cheerful, quick to laugh, and full of hugs, but that doesn't mean he's 100% on track with his ability to trust. Sure, he's been a member of our family for 12 months. But he was institutionalized for 18 months. That's quite a time delay, especially when it occurs at the beginning of his life.

I watch him closely and I see signs that he's working hard to learn trust. Adoptive parents frequently use the phrase "fake it till you make it" to describe the act of creating a warm and loving environment for a child before the parent and child form any attachment to each other. Cloud fakes it till he makes it, too. That's the kind of 'trust' you learn in an institution - fake trust.

(I know this from personal experience, of course. I could talk extensively about fake trust. But I'll assume you get the gist of it.)

Cloud has a pretty decent trust of his parents, all things considered, and he's working to build up trust of relatives and friends. It's a lot of work, and he watches people's actions vigilantly. He tests them and tests them and tests them. It's all very passive, and I'm probably the only one who's noticed him doing it.

Most of the time, people pass the tests. There are a few recurring acts, though, that qualify as test failures. Waving stuffed animals at him is a breach of trust. If it's only for a second or two, he forgives, but if you keep doing it, it becomes a black mark on your trust card.

Withholding food is another one. Food is the Great Healer. But not giving him food can create a lot of resentment and a trust issue.

And dogs. AwesomeCloud is interested in dogs. He seems to realize that dogs are animals, like cats, but with higher stakes than cats. Dogs are bigger, faster, more assertive. And they always have a person accompanying them. One person is always the dog's master.

Cloud seems to realize this, and when we're with a dog, I see him identifying the dog's master and watching that person to see how well he/she can control the dog. When the dog crosses Cloud's boundaries, he projects the trust injury onto the dog owner. For instance, if he holds his fist out to the dog and the dog bumps his arm, Cloud looks up at the owner. His face registers small changes in expression. He knows. He's keeping score.

My problem? A lax dog owner earns a very low score. A dog that's allowed to cross Cloud's boundaries without consequence is a mark of failure for the owner.

This isn't about the dogs. I'm not afraid that Cloud will grow up to be dog-phobic because he perceives dogs to be threatening and overwhelming right now. In fact I anticipate him becoming a dog lover, and begging us to rescue a dog at some point.

The issue is with his dog-owning friends and relatives, and how their lack of control affects his development of trust.

We humans may be born with a sense of trust, but recent studies have shown that what happens in our first hours, days, weeks, and months affect our development of trust. AwesomeCloud doesn't have a year's worth of trust just because he's been with us a year. He has eighteen months of fake trust, plus the rudiments of real trust that he's been growing for the past year. I know you don't want to talk about it or think about it, but it's true. That's what adoption is.

Lax dog ownership may be good for the dog, and it may be harmless to AwesomeCloud, but it's detrimental to you.

What's worse, if you fail, then he turns to me to show signs of controlling the situation. That puts me in a corner. Either I meet my son's expectations and make a big show of protecting him from the dog, thereby annoying the owner of the puppy princess, or I let him down with my casual attitude.

I like dogs, but if I choose to meet my son's needs, I'm going to appear very much to be a dog-hater. It's not about the dog. I've dealt with animals much more challenging than dogs - opossums, hawks, Canada geese. I don't actually think your dog is going to hurt my son. But somebody has to start passing his trust-tests, and if it's not you, it should be me.

We'll like dogs for dogs' sake later, when we get one of our own.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Some adoptees' perspectives

I've been perusing adoptees' blogs lately. Their perspectives are eye-opening - sometimes painful, sometimes hope-inspiring. I try to expose myself to the possibilities because, even when AwesomeCloud learns to speak, he may not always tell me what's going on in his head.

There are identity issues. International and transracial adoptees may feel self-conscious for standing out, and they may grieve the loss of their birth culture. They may take issue with their lack of exposure to the birth culture in their childhoods, or they may resent other people's expectations that they're more familiar with that culture than they actually are.

They may take issue with the attitudes and language of adoptive parents, or of adoption communities on the internet, which are frequently dominated by adoptive parents. Sometimes it feels as if adoptee bloggers are policing adoptive parents for bad behavior, and sometimes it feels as if we adoptive parents are policing each other.

That's why I sometimes say, "I need to stop reading blogs!" I'm not the only one who says that, either. It can be hard to read the bickering, resentment, and open hostility within the blogosphere. I'm a member of the group with the loudest voices and the best representation - adoptive parents - which is an advantage and a disadvantage. On one hand, I have a lot of allies. On the other hand, I'm already guilty, no matter how hard I try to dance around the landmines and sidestep the potholes.

And this is on top of me being a member of another powerful group - the wealthy white person. We may be a worldwide minority, but in English-speaking society, and to some degree in other societies as well, my opinion matters. My wishes are respected. My voice is heard. I, as an individual, may feel nearly powerless in a sea of louder voices, but as a group we white people are at the top of the power hierarchy.

And I'm making myself responsible for raising a nonwhite person and teaching him how to competently wield this white power. I must also prevent him from losing his Asian self in the process.

Of course, that's not how I see it personally. Personally, I'm raising my son, and I want to equip him to make his way in life and succeed to the best of his ability. I want to teach him to chase his dreams, grow from his failures, learn lessons from everything he sees and everyone he meets, find happiness whatever his life situation, believe in himself, and make the world a better place.

I don't think, "Haha, I'm inserting an Asian into white culture! Take that, fellow whiteys!"

(Okay, sometimes I think that. But with a sense of humor.)

(C'mon, aren't you mildly amused by the notion that white people will be a minority in the US in 20-odd years, and we families who adopt internationally are helping the process along? Don't you feel like throwing your head back and cackling, "BWAhahahaha!"? And that in spite of our children's nonwhite race, they'll have all the social and educational advantages of their white peers?)

(See? I'm growing more comfortable talking about race.)

(Maybe too comfortable.)

(Okay, listen. This is what happens when a person who can't grok the nuances of racism, because racism is a social phenomenon and she's always struggled to understand social phenomena, tries to get herself to discuss the topic anyway. She may not have Deep Insights about racial truths, but she can identify some racial truths and state them. Maybe some people will cringe when they read my remarks, but all remarks about race make somebody or other cringe.)

(Wouldn't it be cool if we could talk about race without making each other cringe? I'm trying! I'm probably failing, but I'm trying!)

But my point is, although I'm aware of my son's race, I don't use it to make very many decisions. Maybe a couple of small decisions. I'd like to find a male Asian martial arts instructor for him someday. I may never find one, but I'm going to look for one, in case one exists. The big decisions, however, are all about resources and opportunity and not about race.

Well... that doesn't always have to be true. But it's true now.

Within the last week, we've had conversations with two Asian adoptees who shared their own perspectives. And, just like in everything else, real life is a very different place from the internet.

The first was our waitress at IHOP. She had a long, flowing black braid, and as we finished our pancakes, she came over to our table and remarked that AwesomeCloud was adorably cheerful. She asked if we'd adopted him, and if he was Korean. She'd been adopted from Korea and she said she frequently met other Korean adoptees.

"I don't have any Korean culture in my background," she said cheerfully. "My parents are consummate rednecks!"

"Have you ever been interested in exploring Korean culture for yourself?" I asked.

"Nope," she said. "I'm not that interested. I'm interested in baseball!"

(I'm totally paraphrasing this conversation.)

So we talked about baseball awhile. It wasn't a very long conversation, because she was working at the time, and Cloud had quite finished his pancakes. But she was very clearly certain of her worldview, and it included a love for culture and some lofty goals. Those passions and goals, however, were not related to Korea. (Aside from any context in which Koreans play baseball.) She told us the story of how her parents approximated her original Korean name to create her 'American' name, which is something reasonably familiar and common, but perhaps spelled a bit differently. She had a good sense of humor about racial identity and perceptions.

The second girl was a teenager who was adopted from China. We already know her and her mother personally, and we've had adoption-related conversations with the family before. This time, I told the teen that AwesomeCloud's 1-year adoption day anniversary was coming up.

(I don't use the term 'Gotcha Day', and besides, 'Gotcha Day' was the day before adoption day. Celebrating both would be like celebrating All Saints Day the day after Halloween, which, yes, some people do, but we sure don't. I guess we could have an adoption day eve and call it 'Gotcha Day', but... um... no.)

I reminded the teen that this time last year I'd been telling her all about how we were just about to leave for China! Any day now! We marveled together at how much had happened in that year, with the adoption and AwesomeCloud's growth and development.

"Are you going to have him learn Chinese?" she asked. "One of my regrets was that I didn't take any Chinese classes until a few years after I was adopted. I wish I'd started when I was five or six, before I forgot the words I knew when I was three and had to start over."

I sympathized and reassured her, "I'd like our whole family to learn Chinese. We're waiting until Cloud can speak a little bit in English, just to get the general act of speech going. But once he does that, I figure we can start thinking about learning Chinese too."

She approved.

"I feel it's important for his parents to learn along with him," I added. "If we just make him take lessons, it might create a rift between us."

She shrugged. "Maybe, maybe not."

I got the impression that she was in the "maybe not" category, herself. She seems very poised and secure when it comes to the topic of adoption. I think she and her mother are very open and comfortable with the topic. Maybe she has always been able to discuss her feelings with her mother and allow the family to deal with them together, instead of creating a complex conflict in which culture and identity become tools for negotiating her place in the family.

She's a remarkable teenager, not stereotypical at all, and maybe that's why. While other teens are at odds with their parents over any number of issues that they can't fully articulate, this girl seems to go right to the words and discussions. She seems a lot more mature because of it.

In fact, she seems more mature than many adults.

It's possible that either one of these adoptees harbor unspoken hurts inside and are simply good at emphasizing the positive while talking with others. It's possible that if I knew them intimately, they'd tell me dark secrets that eat at their souls. It's possible that they keep blogs and discuss adoption issues on the internet.

But I can only report my own experiences. One girl, whose family hardly addressed the culture issue, is happy with her chosen niche in American culture. The other, whose family has discussed adoption at great length, can comfortably and intelligently discuss those issues with other people she meets.

I suppose there are as many ways of facing culture and identity issues in adoption as there are adoptees. The bloggers who discuss crises and problems therein are as honest and genuine as the people who claim to have found their equilibrium. Maybe more so. Maybe not. However, it's good for me to have these types of conversations with people in real life. It gives me a wider view of what to expect in AwesomeCloud's future. Neither of the girls claimed they hadn't experienced any trauma - they didn't have to. I know they experienced trauma. I know Cloud experienced trauma. But what comes afterwards, now that the trauma has already happened?

Any number of things. It depends on the individual and on the circumstances. And to some degree, it depends on us.

I don't plan to keep quiet about adoption, or to brush Chinese culture under the rug. I'm a communicative sort, and I plan to communicate.

The nuances, however, are to be determined. Cloud himself will be an influence on that.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I RUINED "The Wheels on the Bus"

I admit it. I did. I ruined it.

I've never liked that song. It wasn't an old staple for me; in fact, I never heard it until my much younger sister learned it at her preschool or something. Or maybe my mother, who taught preschool for a while, added it to her repertoire at some point. Anyway, by the time I heard "The Wheels on the Bus" I was already far too old to appreciate the song.

It wasn't on my list of songs to sing AwesomeCloud. My own list of songs is a little odd, including such children's classics as I've Been Working on the Railroad, Sister Golden Hair, Boom Boom Pow, and the Chemical Brothers' Block Rockin' Beats. Recently I added Run Run Away by Slade. Well, the cover version by Great Big Sea, which essentially sounds the same, but sped up.

And Do You Know the Muffin Man - another recent addition.

The speech therapist introduced The Wheels on the Bus. She told me he enjoys it and suggested I sing it with him on my own.

Okay. We did so tonight. With the addition of socks. Hey, I was folding laundry. And all of a sudden, the socks on the bus were going swish, swish, swish. And the AwesomeCloud on the bus was doubling over in hysterics, wrapping himself in Daddy's extra-long swishy white tube socks.

The speech therapist won't be at all amused when she starts singing that song again and AwesomeCloud interrupts her to run and get a pair of pendulous socks. Because nobody can practice their speech when they're giggling that hard.

I ruined the song forever. And I'm (not the least bit) sorry.