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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hot Memorial Day

Chicago seems to have no middle ground this year.  It's either cold enough for a jacket or hot enough for as little clothing as possible.  After Saturday and Sunday's nasty weather, Monday dawned sunny and humid.  I don't think anyone cared what the heat index was--everyone in Chicago was outside!  The lakefront was jammed with cars trying to find one last parking spot.  We are fortunate enough to live close enough to walk so we packed up our cooler and headed out.  A quick stop for Bahn Mi sandwiches and off we went.

We found a spot under a tree, spread out our blankets, grabbed our food and settled in for some great people-watching.
After lunch we took turns taking Kate on strolls down the beach.
Then resting again--did I mention it was 95 degrees??  Kate's cheeks got really red quite quickly even though we kept her pretty well hydrated.
 
There were plenty of vendors selling everything from ice cream to cotton candy to Chicharróns.  And then there was this poor lady...
These people prey on parents with kids.  One lady loaded down with balls kept stalking Kate because Kate would point at her and say, "BALL!"  We declined to buy her a ball and the lady's face fell.  She asked several times if we were sure...this Parent Marketing is going to get old really fast.

A good day overall.  Kate napped in the stroller on the walk home and the A/C felt mighty good when we walked in the door!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Not a complete waste...

but damn near close to it.  All week long the forecasters had been saying that Saturday would be not-so-nice in the weather department but that by Sunday noon, it would be sunny and warm.  SO not the case.  It poured buckets of rain all day long.  The sky looked like nighttime except for the brief flashes of lightning.  It hovered around 55 degrees most of that time.  It was just a pathetic excuse for a holiday weekend.

The only bright spot in this gloomy, dreary, non-summer-like day was skyping away the morning.  We started out skyping with Spiff and Paul in Singapore.  They are 13 hours ahead of us so their Sunday was already over with.  We got a tour of their apartment on their webcam and a nice catch-up on their news.
If you are interested in following their adventures, their blog is listed over on the right...Singapore Adventures.  They are both foodies and have interesting careers so their blog is quite entertaining, written from the point of view of two guys from the US who decided to tackle Asia and moved in less than 3 months. 

Next we skyped with my mom in FL.
Kate recognized her immediately and kept shouting, "Nana!" at the screen.  Unfortunately, she also managed to disconnect us three times by either touching or kissing the area that has the disconnect button in an attempt to touch/kiss her Nana.  Kate was exhausted by all the activity so Len put her down for a nap while mom and I chatted for another 1/2 hour or so.

Otherwise, this lovely 3 day weekend has so far been a complete wash-out.  They are calling for sunny and 90 degrees today.  Fingers crossed.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Kate's First Haircut

Kate was starting to resemble a punk kid from the deep south with a mullet 'do.  Our friend Karen had been itching for weeks to have a go at her head with some shears so after much discussion about exactly how much of the already little hair she has would be gone, I acquiesced.

Here we are getting started.
I was impressed that Karen could cut a straight line with as much head swiveling Kate was doing trying to see what was going on behind her.
But it is looking better already right?
 She tapered the sides a bit so it would tuck behind her ear and not stick out like the curb feelers she had going on prior to this.
 Side view.
 Happy girl all pretty with her new hairdo!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Afternoon massage

A few days ago, Kate did not nap...no big surprise there.  What did surprise me though was that she laid still for a massage!  I started with her on her back, massaging her legs and feet.  She lay there and wiggled and moaned in pleasure which was quite adorable.  After about 5 minutes on her back (which was about 4 minutes and 30 seconds longer than I expected) she popped up,
grabbed the oil and lay down on her tummy and said, "BACK!"
Then she was off and running...
and over to her bench...
got settled in...
and proceeded to pee.
I guess she was a little TOO relaxed.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Stir fry

In my quest to expand my culinary skills I made a stir fry for supper last night.  I started with grapeseed oil heated on high, then added onion.  Next I added shredded broccoli and carrot slaw.  Once that was in there a couple of minutes I added diced tofu.
Next up was a sauce I made with lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic, sugar, and cilantro.
Serve over brown rice, add some sesame seeds and you've got dinner!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fingerprints and Pho

It's fitting that the sky is weeping on our day to be fingerprinted.  So, this *should*  be the last time we are fingerprinted for an adoption.  That makes a grand total of NINE TIMES our fingers have been scanned.  I asked the biometrics chick why, for the love of god, our fingerprints expire and she said that they don't, the government just deletes the system every so often so they have to be re-taken.

Huh.

I don't think I buy that.

They seriously expect me to believe that they are deleting fingerprints??

Or could it be that the $890 fee that is applied every 15 months is a strong incentive to imply that they need to keep their records "up-to-date"?

Back to the weather.  Rainy.  Windy.  44 degrees.  On May 26 I'm wearing boots and a hooded winter jacket.  It's a fabulous day to have your fingerprints taken (again--not that I'm dwelling on the many, many, times I've had to splay my fingers onto an electronic screen...oh no).

It's also a good day to have a hot steaming bowl of pho.  It's Kate's first pho attempt and I do believe she liked it! (the poor quality pics are b/c we used Len's crackberry...)
 


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Book review--"Bad Mother"

You may have heard of Ayelet Waldman.  She was thrust into notoriety when she confessed in an essay in the NY Times style section to loving her husband more than her children.  As an aside, her husband is Michael Chabon, also an author.

"Bad Mother, A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace" picks up on the theme of her essay in the NY Times.  What is the definition of a good mother?  Is there such a thing or are there only bad mothers and great mothers?  And why do we, as mothers, feel the need to put a label on ourselves anyway?  How many fathers do you know talk about being a good or bad father?

In fact, she discusses this in the first chapter of her book:

A Good Father is characterized quite simply by his presence.  He shows up. In the delivery room, at dinnertime (when he can), to school recitals and ball games (whenever it's reasonably possible). He's a good provider who is not above changing a diaper or wearing a Baby Bjorn.

However, in defining what makes a Good Mother, her polling sample had a difficult time of it, often resorting to hyperbole:

Mary Poppins, but biologically related to you and she doesn't leave at the end of the movie.

She lives only in the present and entirely for her kids.

She has infinite patience.

She remembers to serve fruit at breakfast, is always cheerful and never yells, manages not to project her own neuroses and inadequacies onto her children, is an active and beloved community volunteer; she remembers to make playdates, her children's clothes fit, and she does art projects with them and enjoys all their games. And she is never too tired for sex.

She's everything that I'm not.


And what I've found in my short time as a mama is that this seems not too far from the truth. We women in general are always hard on ourselves. It starts with not being thin enough, smart enough, aggressive enough (or too aggressive), not ambitious enough (or too ambitious, i.e. bitchy) or too maternal, re: smothering (or likewise, not maternal enough--What do you mean you don't want to have kids?? Do you hate children?).

I have to say that when I first read her NY Times essay, I was a bit taken aback.  I was always afraid, before I had a child, that I would not love my child as much as I loved my husband.  And conversely, I was also afraid that I would...that my love for Len would pale in comparison to the love I felt for this new interloper on the scene.  Now that I'm finally here, I realize that the love is different.  Both are wonderful but neither is usurped by the other.  The one area where I feel differently than her is when she discusses how she would cope if faced, "God forbid", with the loss of either a child or her husband.  She could not bear the thought of life without her husband but could move on after the loss of a child.  I don't know if it's because my path to motherhood was so fraught with tragedy and loss but I am rendered paralyzed at the thought of anything happening to Kate.  I know and have friends who have suffered the loss of a child and I know that life continues but I cannot let myself even contemplate that scenario without plunging into despair. It's a rabbit hole I avoid at all costs.

In her book, she spends 18 chapters addressing all the areas in which it could be perceived that she is a bad mother.  Nearly every woman I know can find something in these pages with which they have self-flogged on at least on one occasion.

Did you breast feed?  Yes?  Then you are a good mother!  Oh, but you weaned before she turned two...oh, well...in that case...bad mommy.

Is your child dressing like a sexy witch for Halloween?  You know she'll end up pregnant at 13...bad mommy.

Your child can't speak as well or as clearly as the 15 month old next door?  You must not be talking to him enough...bad mommy.

While there is a lot of humor in her book, be prepared for some stunning self-confessions, areas where you may, in fact, want to label her a bad mother.  She makes some choices that I would have found nearly impossible to make.  But the beauty of motherhood is that there is no one road to take.  Just as every child is different, every mother is different, including parenting multiple children in different ways.

She points out that perhaps the worst way in which we live up to the self-imposed title of bad mother is in our expectations we have for our children--even before they are born.  The life I want for them.  Naturally, we all think our child is the most gifted, the smartest, the most athletic.  But what if they turn out to be like the vast majority of children...just...average?

And what if the unthinkable happens and you find your child labeled with ADHD or Autism?  What if your child is born with a birth defect like cleft palate and no matter how much therapy you provide she still can't speak clearly enough to be understood by her friends?  I hear this last comment quite a bit on the cleft-adopt discussion board that I subscribe to.  In some cases, I hear the undertones...what am I doing wrong?  Even when your child is not born from your body, the implication is that it must be the mother's fault for her child's lack of development.

Ayelet was not without her share of labels being put on her children but I love how she sums up her philosophy:

The worst thing about being so devoted to your expectations is that it blinds you to the wonders of the children you have...

A mother who doesn't worry so much about being bad or good, but just recognizes that she's both, and neither. A mother who does her best, and for whom that is good enough, even if, in the end, her best turns out to be, simply, not bad.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hot enough for the pool!

Yesterday the weather was spectacular...right up until the moment we pulled into Keith and Kelly's driveway for a bbq.  Sunny and warm on the entire drive to the 'burbs and two blocks from their house it started...hailing.  Not just rain...HAIL.  Fortunately, it was short-lived and although the clouds remained, the temperature was still warm and the clouds provided relief from the harsh sun for the girls to be able to play in the pool.

Candice and her daughter Antara joined in the festivities.  The best part was that Len and Keith rode herd on the girls so Candice, Kelly and I could sip sangria and catch up on each other's lives.
 
 
 Antara hamming it up for the camera!
 Antara and M deciding if they want to stay in the pool or come over to the table for snacks...
 Snacks won.
Dressed and ready for more action...bubble machine and lawn toys.
 
 
Kate was tuckered out by the time dinner was over...ribs, slaw, fruit salad, twice baked potatoes...
And finally, lemon squares!  Thanks Keith and Kelly for making and hosting a great spread! 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Why I love our neighborhood

It's not everyday that you see a roasted pig lifted out of a limo followed by a processional of little girls dressed in white and young Vietnamese men carrying red pillows.

Another (small) cold

It was a bit of a rough week.  Poor Miss Kate had a head cold.  Nothing major, runny nose, sneezing.  In fact, it may be pollen as the trees are just putting out all their leaves and the grass is turning green, dandelions are everywhere.  Whatever it was, it was a major disruption to Kate's sleep, and not just naptime but nighttime as well.  She would awaken every night after about 2 hours of sleep, crying miserably.  One or the other of us took turns going in to lay a soothing hand on her back until she calmed back down.  This was followed by relative calm until 1:40am.

Punctually.  Not 1:50am, not 1:30am.  Every night for several nights straight she would awaken at 1:40am and continue crying.  Turns out she was thirsty--9oz of milk thirsty. 

Yes, we are still giving her a bottle.  Mostly b/c we will be traveling to get Lucy soon and she may or may not be still on a bottle--we just don't know what Lucy's feeding routine is.  I don't want to go through a regression with Kate back to a bottle if we've already worked to give it up so we'll work on giving up the bottle by the time they both turn 2.

Same goes with potty training.  Kate seems to be showing all the signs of wanting to use the potty.  She tells me when she has pooped, she does it in secret, she understands what I'm doing in the bathroom.  She will even tell me ahead of time that she needs to poop--she comes over and says "poop!" and then goes behind a chair for a bit and then returns and says it again, turns around and says "check" so I will be sure it's there.  Then she leads me to her room for a change.

She did it again Sunday morning with Len.  She told him "poop", then walked away for a bit, came back, announced "poop" again and then turned around for him to see.

While I would love to pounce on this and get her started, I'm envisioning two 13 hour flights to China and back combined with multiple in-country flights...and the possibility of regression once we bring another child into the family.  And I really don't want to train her twice.  Opinions?  Should I be setting her on the potty when she says that now or just continue with diapers?  And, what kind of potty?  One that she can sit on on the floor or one that is fitted to our toilet?  Can you believe that I have read NOTHING about potty training?  Me!  Who reads and studies up on everything years in advance!

Anyway, back to this past week's events.  As you can see from her picture above, Kate was not having such a good week.  Her appetite flags quite a bit when she's sick so meals are a chore.  She still prefers for me to feed her...
so I'm working on encouraging her to do it herself, with fingers or utensils, whatever works!
She has mastered both the regular sippy cup and the straw version so we're down to only 2 bottles feedings per day, one for naptime and one after supper but before bath and teeth brushing at night.
Saturday night was back to normal.  We had a date night out with a friend for beer and mussels so Tricha was here to feed her supper, do the bath and bedtime routine.  Kate made it through the night and got up at 6:30 as usual and in fine spirits:


And yes, I do have bed head so cut me some slack.  It was a late date night followed by an early morning.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Does a long video make up for a week of no posting?

Let's hope so b/c this video is 6 minutes and 22 seconds of a typical weekend morning.  This should make those of you without small children thankful, those of you sitting with your no foam cappuccino, slowly perusing the NY Times book section, nibbling on your chocolate croissant.

The good thing is that I've been there.  I've been the one sipping my morning libation and thoughtfully reading the paper.  And now I'm the one watching my daughter learn manners and where things go and brushing her back.  And life is good.

Monday, May 16, 2011

More cooking adventures

Tonight I made an Asian soup for supper. 
Since the weather is decidedly NOT SPRING but is instead hovering in the 40s with an even colder wind chill off the lake that has sent me scurrying back to my winter coat, hat, scarf and gloves (even Len had gloves on today so you know how cold it is!!!), soup was in order.

This is a very easy soup to make, less than 15 minutes tops.  The broth is either beef, chicken or veggie stock, soy sauce, star anise, fresh grated ginger and brown sugar.  Add in shiitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, Chinese cabbage or baby bok choy.  Pour the lot over some cooked rice noodles and top with cilantro.  Yummy warm goodness on this cold winter day in May.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Care Package 2 for Lucy

*Note: Blogger has had some major technical difficulties and has been down for at least 20 hours.  Posts keep disappearing and reappearing.  Kate's Love Letter from 5/12 is still missing and I hope they find it and put it back!  In the meantime, I'm posting while I can!

We sent another care package to Lucy today.  This time we used this service.  Included is another camera, some pjs, a blanket, a stuffed toy, some stacking rings (Kate loves them so I'm hoping Lucy will too), some candies for the nannies and a letter to her written in Mandarin so the nannies can read it to her.

There is the possibility of news about Lucy through this organization as they make requests for updates or pictures when mailing the packages.  No guarantees but she did say she would try! 

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