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.

Friday, September 3, 2010

While waiting for the hurricane

Utility trucks were lined up in the mall parking lot. Groups of people were out taking down screenhouses. And Cloud and I went out shopping for a little something to bring to the cookout at my sister's house in NH tomorrow.

I've got appliances unplugged and flashlights lined up, and I'm thinking about a cookout in NH.

The wind is intermittent, and we've had a taste of rain, but nothing serious so far. In fact, it's actually pretty nice outside. Breezy and cool. My husband is off running an errand and he thought he'd swing by the beach, just to see how it looked. I can't imagine it looks very unusual right now. He said he'd be right back.

I put tubs of water around the hydrangeas to prevent them from being blown off their stalks, and baked corn bread to add to the stash of food we won't need to cook first, in case the power goes out.

All this prep and nothing to show for it yet. Sheesh. The 4-day rain shower two weeks ago was worse than this.

I hope I don't eat my words.

I did taste the cornbread. It was good.

When paperwork attacks

Does anyone else have trouble with the post-adoption paperwork?

I MADE myself do the 6-month report. But the 12-month report is still sitting here, undone. It's all the same questions. But I haven't motivated myself yet. I guess I need to motivate myself now. I don't know why I'm being so unenthusiastic. It's just another homestudy - with our sweetheart social worker who is not the least bit threatening - and a 4-page packet.


I know it's important to meet the deadline. The problem, I suppose, is obvious - Cloud is a member of our family, we all belong together, and it doesn't feel like anything more needs to be said.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Rain, rain, hurricane

Would you still want the rain
if it came in the form of a hurricane?

I was asking myself that question, poetically (I think in rhyme sometimes), yesterday. The answer was Yes. We need the rain, as much as we can get - preferably not all at once, but apparently God didn't ask me to weigh in on his weather plan this year.

I read somewhere that the average global summer temperatures are going to be higher from now on. We'll look back at 2010 and realize it was the last cool summer in memory, and they don't make summers like that anymore.

But I digress.

It's still sunny, but the wind is picking up. Most of the stuff in the yard has been brought in, and the basement has been prepped for flooding. I picked the last tomatoes, and am ready for the garden to be washed away. The woodpile is covered. We have candles. They're now saying that Hurricane Earl will downgrade to a Cat 2 or even a tropical storm, but that's still pretty windy.

I love extreme weather. I love the adrenaline rush. I love operating in survival mode. My every action has purpose.

AwesomeCloud doesn't have much experience with big storms - we've had some long storms, and two or three thunderstorms that he tolerated reasonably well. Losing the power might get his attention. But he tries not to cry if he sees we're not afraid, so maybe he'll follow our example and he'll be all right.

We're not expecting to lose any trees in the yard. I asked the arborist to check for weak trees, and all he found were some weak branches which he then removed. So the house is not in any imminent danger.

Also, we had the trees sprayed for winter moths, and they all look so much healthier now! All that winter moth damage from last year has healed over. Hopefully, in spite of the drought, our oak trees are back to being mighty.

But I can't speak for the trees all along the roads in our neighborhood.

(I am the Lorax! I speak for the trees!)

No no no. What I mean is that we may wake up on Saturday morning and learn that some trees are down on the road.

At least we don't live on the coast. We're on high ground.