Sunday, April 29, 2012

Drunk Camel

Matthew always turns into a camel just before bed. A camel about to set out on a long journey. Across a desert. A parched camel. This is why he still wears Pull Ups to bed.

Tonight he chugged a bunch of water and then still wanted to drink from the faucet when I brushed his teeth. After several long slurps from the running water, I turned it off. "I want more!" He told me.

"Dude," I said, "you've had enough. You're going to flood your diaper."

"Yeah, Matthew," his brother chimed in. "You're going to get drunk."

"What?" I asked.

"He's gonna get drunk."

Stifling my laughter I questioned, "Drunk? How?"

"By drinking too much water," Garrett told me like I was an idiot.

"Honey, you get drunk from drinking alcohol and Matthew hasn't had any of that." Because that's all I need, my five-year-old running around telling people that his little brother got drunk.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Still I Judge Success By How I'm Dressing

I've been thinking a great deal about success.

I graduated from high school with a 3.98 GPA. In college I earned a 3.2 and while that's certainly not something to write home about, I managed to earn it while working part time and participating in a gaggle of theatrical productions--typically behind the scenes which I promise you was usually a lot more work.

I thought I would do something important. And by important, I thought that I would be something big. I wanted to see my name in lights. I wanted, at the very least, to see my name on the chalk board on the first day of school and not because I was still the student who couldn't shut up.

Advanced Placement.

Academic honors.

That is what I was used to and that is what I assumed would always define me.

I'd get married. We'd have two incomes. I'd own a home I didn't lose and we'd have a retirement plan that didn't involve one of us working until the age of 92. Academic success would lead to career success which would lead to financial success.

But compared to what? Compared to my neighbors* who own two homes, drive sports cars, employ a gardener, have a recreational vehicle, regularly check their nice retirement account and wear an expensive wardrobe? Compared to someone in Uganda or Honduras or Haiti who works ten times harder than me just to feed her family? Is she less successful than my neighbor?

Success is the achievement of something desired, planned or attempted. It is also the gaining of fame or prosperity. And I wonder, when did my working definition become the latter? When did success become about earthly prosperity? When did I start comparing myself to everyone around me and why do I struggle so greatly with maintaining a heavenly perspective?

I get turned around
And I mistake my happiness for blessing
I'm blessed as the poor
Still I judge success by how I'm dressing


I don't want to judge success by the clothes I wear or the car I own. I want to "Do what the Lord commands and follow His teachings...Then you will be a success no matter what you do or where you go." 1 Kings 2:3 CEV.

Success is the achievement of something desired, planned or attempted. I just need to remember that the only success that truly matters will be granted or denied at the gates of heaven. May my Master reply, "Well done, good and faithful servant." (Matt. 25:21) and not, "Depart from me. I never knew you." (Matt. 7:23) My Lord does not ask me to be famous or to prosper financially.

He simply asks that I live for Him.

So keep 'em coming these lines on the road
And keep me responsible be it a light or heavy load
And keep me guessing with these blessings in disguise
And I'll walk with grace my feet and faith my eyes.**




*Not my actual neighbors. Just a compilation of people I know. From around. From TV. Whatever.
**Lyrics= Faith My Eyes by Caedmon's Call

Friday, April 27, 2012

Dry v. Wet

Matthew is completely potty trained during the day. Nighttime, however, is a coin flip. He's been dry five out of the last six mornings. He also had really good days when he woke up dry. The morning that he woke up wet was his worst day. Is this a coincidence?

I hope I don't even need to say that we never get upset with him when he wakes up wet. But, when he wakes up dry, we say a lot of "hooray" and "I'm so proud of you." Could this be making him have fantastic days? Do I just need to be a one woman cheer squad where my son is concerned?

"Good morning! I'm so glad you woke up today. Good job, you!"

Because I'll do it. I totally will.

I'll even invest in pompoms.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Birds and the Bees: Or, in this case, only the bees

I know adults who are full on terrified of bees. I'm talking a "Run around the backyard, screaming like a toddler, throwing their own children at the insect in order to protect themselves" kind of terrified. And I get it. Sometimes it's legit. My brother's allergic to bees and one time, at Sea World, one of them flew up under his sunglasses and stung his face while we were all on a ride. Dude looked like Jabba the Hutt for a week.


                                         
He was all kinds of swollen, is what I'm saying. But when you're not allergic to bees and you run around howling like a crazy person or throw other people in front of you to be the sacrificial stinging victim, it's a bit ridiculous.


I've been stung more times than I can remember, let alone count. And, yes, it hurts. It does. I'm not gonna pretend that a bee sting feels like getting licked by a puppy. But, really, we ought to be feeling more sorry for the bee. "I'm feeling threatened. I know! I'll use my defense mechanism. I'll sting this unsuspecting (or in some cases highly suspecting as he was just prancing around the yard like a buffoon batting me away with his fist) individual to protect myself since he is, well, 500 times bigger than me. And then I'll DIE."


Most bees are just buzzing around, trying to make an honest living. Collecting pollen. Being half of the dynamic duo better known as The Birds and the Bees. Most of them just want to be left alone.


They don't need you flapping your arms defensively at them. In fact, a bee once explained to me that they are actually more likely to sting you in such a case. Go figure.


They don't need you sacrificing your firstborn. Or your husband. Or a total stranger. So stop throwing other people in front of them. Or hiding behind someone else. It's only necessary if you're carrying Epinephrine and would have to spend a significant portion of your life looking like a cross between a toad and the Cheshire Cat*.


For the record, my brother, who is allergic to bees, doesn't throw other people in front of him when he sees one. I'm glad. Because I love my future, as of yet unborn, neices and/or nephews. I don't want them being thrown at the bees. And I've heard that human beings being chucked in their general direction actually does make them feel threatened. Go figure.


My children are afraid of bees. But they're five and three and are also afraid of thunder and the fact that gremlins might live in our closets. Matthew calls them butterflies and runs screaming whenever he sees one. "Ahhh! It's a butterfly! Help! Help me, Mommy! Save me from the scary butterfly!" His fear is not based in any sense of reality because he's never been stung. I don't even know that he's ever had it explained to him that bees are capable of stinging.


Garrett has been stung three times. I think. And he's a total drama llama like his mama so his bee stings have been akin to being told he's dying and has one day to live. He is receiving this news while simultaneously being eaten alive by army ants, struck by lightning, and force fed mashed potatoes.


But again. He's five. He's never once actually died from a bee sting and, despite a bit of swelling, does not have to carry around an Epipen. Still, he's starting to become a rational human being and now, when he sees a bee, he just calmly turns on his heels and walks back into the house.


So let's stop giving the bees such a hard time. They're just trying to carry pollen from one place to another. They really do like to mind their own business. And, unless they're a swarm of hundreds, they can really do very little damage.

But don't even get me started on wasps. Wasps are demonic and must be killed.


*That is how Roger Ebert once described Jabba the Hutt.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Week 16: Our Planet, Earth

It seemed a broad subject to me. One could take a picture of anything, really. Mountains, clouds, dirt, waterfall, landfill. You name it.

I was working out in my garden on Saturday. A ghetto garden. Seriously. A white trash garden. An old kiddie pool filled with dirt. An old tub filled with dirt. We're going to look like a bad episode of Hoarders. But anyway.

Bees were buzzing all around. It is the Beehive State after all. 

So I grabbed the camera.

And I captured this.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Love

He didn't really nap yesterday.

So today it was needed. You could hear it in his whines, see it in the glassy film over his eyes. But he didn't want it.

I offered to climb into bed with him.

It was dark.

The fan was on.

He threw a leg over one of mine and cuddled into my body.

I traced a finger over the bridge of his nose, around one eye, across his forehead, around the other eye. I gently moved it down his cheek, across his lower lip, and up to his forehead again. Repeat.

We stayed that way for a long time. My fingers stopped tracing his face. I nearly fell asleep. He let out a loud sigh and was, otherwise, perfectly still. His eyes didn't flutter.

I watched him sleep.

Then I whispered, "I love you."

His little mouth barely moved as he replied, "I wuv you."

Somewhat startled to find that he wasn't sleeping I smiled and said softly, "Are you still awake?" There was no response. "Matthew, are you sleeping?" Nothing. "Can you open your eyes?" Not a sound. I stayed for several more minutes and he never moved a muscle, never blinked, never made a peep.

"Okay, then." I turned to get off his bed. "I love you."

"I wuv you," he whispered again.

I'm convinced that he was somehow subconsciously responding to me. And my heart is happy.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Two Years

Dear Matthew,

Happy Adoption Day, Baby. I can't believe it's been two full years since we stood in the judge's chambers and made everything official. Two years of loving you and hugging you and holding you without worrying that it was all going to end.

Whenever I'm downtown--which in Salt Lake is actually uptown and I sometimes can't get over the confusion in my own mind--and I drive past the courthouse, I want to pull over, get out of the car, and do some kind of jig. But I don't think you can park directly in front of the courthouse so I'd have to drive around until I found a place, lug you and your brother out of the car, and traipse up the steps and, well, I just feel like by the time I went through all that the moment would have passed.

But I think of that day. I think of meeting our Utah lawyer for the first time, nearly fourteen months after you were born, because everything was all tied up in California until then. I think of how surreal it all felt and how it probably took more than a year for me to stop looking over my shoulder for court orders and legal documents and anything at all that would undo our family.

We went to The Olive Garden to celebrate and you cried almost the entire time. But you'd been very well behaved at the courthouse that morning so we really couldn't complain. Garrett seemed to heave an audible sigh of relief and will still, from time to time, say, "The judge said Matthew could stay."

The judge said Matthew could stay.


It was really a bunch of parents finally reaching an agreement. A bunch of paperwork decreeing this or that. A total of five lawyers and two judges. But on that day, two years ago, a judge did, indeed, say that you could stay.

And my soul glorifies the Lord.

Happy Adoption Day! I love you.

-Mommy

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Week 15: In Flight

When this week's theme was posted, I thought I'd see tons of helicopters and airplanes. I guess that growing up in the home of a helicopter pilot just naturally makes my mind go to aviation places. But when the pictures started rolling in, they were mostly of birds. And by birds I mean actual feathered birds, not helicopters.

We live pretty close to a regional airport so I parked on the side of the road and just started snapping shots of helicopters and planes landing and taking off. The weather was perfect--super cloudy--so I didn't have to contend with glares or weird shadows.

This was my favorite picture of the bunch. I love that both the helicopter and the flag are flying.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Stupid Things People Say

It was only yesterday that I was made aware of this tweet from the Catholic League.

"Lesbian Dem Hilary Rosen tells Ann Romney she never worked a day in her life. Unlike Rosen, who had to adopt kids, Ann raised 5 of her own."

And. Just. Wow. There's so much there I don't even know quite where to start. Or end. Or even, really, what to say in the middle.

My husband had this response.

" What you may have intended as a tweet against Rosen is HIGHLY insulting to those of us who have adopted children into our families.  They are not any less loved or cared for because they do not share our DNA.  My stay at home wife works hard and with no less devotion concerning our adopted son than she does in regard to our biological one.  Your statements were offensive, shallow, and ill-conceived . . . unless of course you believe that your adoption into God's family (Romans 8:15/Galatians 4:5) renders you a second class citizen in comparison to the physical descendants of Abraham."


The two sentence tweet is such an absurd non sequitur it's ridiculous. It seems to say that Ann certainly has worked because she raised five children. And I'll be the very first person to say, "Heck yes raising kids is hard work!" But the clause at the beginning of the second sentence then implies that because Rosen has adopted her children, she doesn't have to work to raise them.

I'm too busy rolling my eyes around in their sockets to be overly offended. The ignorance knows no bounds.

Since the Catholic church takes a stance against birth control and abortion, you'd think this tweeter would be in support of adoption, not making disparaging remarks against anyone who's made the choice to build their family in such a way.

Apparently not. Apparently, the person who wrote this tweet only finds biological families valid. I guess he took a Sharpie to his Bible and blotted out the command to care for orphans and widows.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

1 Peter 5:14

Obviously parts of the Bible were written within a framework of historical context. Nevertheless, let's bring some of those incredible customs back.

I'm reviving 1 Peter 5:14.

"Greet one another with a kiss of love..."

Can you even imagine the mayhem in church on Sunday mornings when I start doing this?

My husband is not on board with the plan.

I cannot imagine why.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Tale of Two Stuffed Animals

His name is Monkey.

He is Matthew's favorite stuffed friend.

Caterpillar or Puppy will do in a pinch.

But Monkey's where it's at.

He went missing about three weeks ago.

Strangely, Matthew never said anything. So, obviously, we didn't point out the fact that we couldn't find him. We simply handed him Puppy or Caterpillar and proceeded to scour the house looking for Monkey. I didn't remember taking him anywhere.

When I found him a few days ago, zipped inside a Penguin backpack from Sea World, I was elated.

Turns out when your littlest boy's favorite sleepytime friend goes missing, it really upsets Mommy.

I took the newly discovered Monkey and handed him to Matthew.

He grabbed him with both hands, pulled him into a tight hug, grinned and said, "YOU FOUND MY MONKEY!" So apparently he had noticed that he was missing. He began kissing Monkey's well-loved face. "Thank you!"

And then he proceeded to carry him around for the rest of day, never releasing him from his toddler vice grip.


His name is Elephant. Or Ele (Ella).

He is Garrett's favorite stuffed friend.

Nothing else will do in a pinch.

He has a duck he named Jesus when he was a toddler. That's not pronounced Hay-sue-s, by the way. For a time they were both his favorites and he carried them everywhere. But then it just became all about Elephant.

He's never been missing for longer than a day.

Heaven help us all if he does. You'll hear a scream and know if came from somewhere in the Salt Lake area. It will reverberate over mountain ranges and seas. And the world will know.

Elephant is every bit as important to Garrett as his real live family members, I'm sure of it.

I found them side by side on the floor today. A tale of two stuffed animals.

And I had to take their picture.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Days of Our Lives

Being that we were friends first, our marriage is built on the foundation of teasing one another. Thankfully, we do indeed have Christ as the cornerstone. This morning I was giving my husband a little bit of a hard time--in jest. He wrapped his arms around me as I stood at the kitchen sink.

T: You're being snide.
Me: No, I'm not.
T: You're being bratty?
Me: No. I'm being me. (pause) You chose me.
T: I did.
Me: You waited all that time and then you chose me. (Said as though I thought he'd made a colossal mistake.)
T: I did. And you chose me.
Me: Yeah. But I didn't wait a long time. (pause) I married my rebound guy.

Just another day in our lives.

************************************************
In other news, last night we used a gift card and went to Red Lobster. My oldest son loves Red Lobster. I mean...he loves it. If I was still in elementary school I'd say that he loves it so much he should marry it. And he'd probably say, "Okay!" and buy it a ring. He asks all the time if we can go there and, well, no. We can't. That's not practical. We can really only afford to go there about twice a year. With gift cards. He was thrilled when we sprung it on him.

He ordered popcorn shrimp off the kid's menu.

Troy and I ordered a platter to share. Our plate came with three legs of snow crab, eight battered shrimp and a heap of broccoli. We divided it all in half. Except you can't really divide three crab legs equally. So I took the two smaller ones and gave Troy the bigger one and the chunk of body that they're attached to.

I declared that it is good that we are no longer bound by levitical law and can enjoy crustaceans.

And then Garrett proceeded to want nothing but my snow crab.

His plate of popcorn shrimp and fries went virtually untouched as he pillaged my crab. A quick hand darting over to snatch a piece. Big eyes pleading with me for more. When I told him to stop taking it off my plate, he simply stared at it longingly. When I gave him a bite, he savored it as though it was surely his last meal.

Troy sent bites of his toward Matthew's mouth. My youngest also gobbled it down gratefully.

I put half a leg next to my plate where Garrett couldn't see it. When he'd finished his meal I asked him if he was full. "Yes," he replied.

"Is there anything you'd want more of, if we had it?"

"Only that delicious crab."

I pulled it from behind the plate and handed it to him. His eyes lit up proving to me that if Santa brought him nothing but snow crab next Christmas he'd be happy.

When we left, Garrett asked the hostess, "Would it be possible for me to see one of the lobsters?" The hostess reached into the tank and pulled one out for him to see. Matthew shrieked and ran behind his daddy.

"It's gonna get me!" He screamed.

Garrett touched the lobster and watched it curl and uncurl its tail.

"This is the Red Lobster I'm going to work at when I'm a teenager," my oldest son declared. And, well, if they provide a discount on snow crab legs I'm certain that he will.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Week 14: Softness

Our dear friends were here with us in the Salt Lake valley for the first year and a half of our ministry. Just after Matthew was born, they moved to the Cache valley. We see them as often as we can which is never often enough.

Last Thursday I made the drive up and met them at a working farm that was hosting an event called Baby Animal Days. The boys were able to hold baby chicks, ducks, bunnies, and turtles. They pet baby goats, lambs, and calves. They also had the opportunity to see a colt, cats, chickens, and even baby bears.

This week's theme was softness and I had my choice of several pictures that I'd taken that day. Matthew was leery of actually holding the animals but Garrett would have gladly lived in this moment for the rest of his life.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Peas Can We?

Very few things in the world are actually cuter than Matthew's voice. This is why I am going to have to stop taking him with me to the grocery store. Today, while Garrett was at school, The Little Buddy and I went to Winco.

"Mommy," he said, "can we get dat peas?"

"What?"

"Dat. Scoot me cwoser. I show you."

My second mistake, the first being that I took him with me at all, was to actually obey him and maneuver the cart over to the shelves.

He pointed. "Dat." Then he stared deep into my eyes with his own melting pools of chocolate. "I want it. Peas can we?"

And it's that voice. That completely irresistible voice just made the Peach Mango individual applesauces jump into our cart.

I'm powerless to stop it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rhythm

I am shamelessly in love with Amy Grant.

That has nothing to do with what I'm about to say but I just need you to know that whatever snarky comment you're making under your breath is simply not phasing me.

So the other day I was listening to her version of I Can Only Imagine found on her Legacy...Hymns & Faith album.

I've listened to that song so many times by so many different artists.

Surrounded by your glory, what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you, Jesus, or in awe of you be still?
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing, Hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine.


Suddenly, on this particular day, it hit me.

I think Jesus would really want me to be still.

Because, you know what? If I tried dancing, it would be neither glorifying nor God honoring. And I really don't want our Savior's first words to me to be, "Please stop."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Love and Protein

He has anxiety.

He's terrified of strangers and really grouchy when he's forced to be in a crowd of people. Especially if they're looking at him. Absurdly so if they dare to talk to him.

He was born wailing. We thought it was anger.

I usually interpret his adverse reaction to crowds, strangers, anyone who isn't his immediate family, really, as an extension of whatever fierceness he was born possessing.

I've begun to reevaluate.

That anger might well be better defined as fear.

He knew her. He knew the way she smelled, the way she sounded, the way she was. And suddenly, she was gone.

He bonded, quickly, to us. He wanted us. Was comfortable with us. Snuggled into us. When he was put into a situation with new people, he shrieked and clung to me. It seemed like he was angry at the world. Controlling. Manipulative.

I think, perhaps, it was entirely terror.

Afraid we'd go and not come back.

Worried we'd suddenly disappear.

So he claws at me to hold him in a crowd. Still. Not always, but often. He frowns when someone talks to him. Unless it's on his terms. He's reduced to instant tears if one of us leaves without him. It's as though he subconsciously thinks, "I've lost one mother. It wasn't on my terms. I'll be darned if I'm going to make friends or say hello or do anything unless it is because I decide to."

We've continued to be consistent. We've held and snuggled and loved, intentionally. Today, at the park, he made a friend. On his own. Just walked up and made a friend. Later, at the store, he said hi to an employee.

For the rest of the day he periodically ran up to me with his award-winning smile. "Wemember I say hi at store?"

"I do remember," I smiled back. "And I was so proud of you."

Progress.

Slowly we are replacing fear with trust.

I hope.

Of course, we did feed him a heaping helping of protein for breakfast so maybe that's all it was.

Love and protein. A recipe for success?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Week 13: Messy

These boots are one of the best purchases I ever made. I got them last year after the boys begged and begged for them. I finally silenced them by asking if they wanted them for Easter. They said yes and, aside from a few pieces of candy, that was what they got on Easter morning.

They love them. They wear them all the time. Especially Matthew. But that's not Matthew. That's Garrett. Playing in the mud. As my sons are both apt to do.


This is the part of our yard where the boys have "Ant Wars" on an almost daily basis. If there isn't mud, they make it. And you know what, I so don't care. If it keeps them busy and it keeps them outside and I know where they are, by all means, make mud. The brilliant thing about kids is that they wash off.

Garrett knows that he removes all muddy footwear and clothing before entering the house. Matthew, well, he's learning.

So thankfully, as I said before, this particular boot belongs to Garrett.

Friday, April 6, 2012

On A Cross

Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, “This Man is calling for Elijah!” Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink. The rest said, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split...

Matthew 27:45-51


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter Candy Drama

Well, I've met my drama quota for the day, how about you?

It was just after 1:00 pm and I'd put Matthew down for a nap. Bless his little soul, he still takes naps most of the time. There's a reason he's my favorite. Oh, okay, I don't have a favorite but if I did, and if it was based on napping alone, Matthew would be the hands down winner. Anyway, he was asleep--or at least well on his way--and I was cleaning out a drawer in my kitchen. Garrett was talking to me (if I had a favorite and it was based on communication skills alone, Garrett would take the cake) and simultaneously sucking on a candy he got at preschool today. It was one of those round, pastel, hard candies that resemble a Lifesaver but are quite a bit larger.

All the sudden, mid sentence, The Rock Star started to scream. It wasn't an angry shriek or a scared sob. It was a turn-your-blood-cold-because-something-is-really-wrong-with-your-kid scream. He immediately clutched his throat. "Ahhh. Ahhh. Ahhhh!" He wailed.

"Can you breathe?" I asked. Because, seriously, if that thing was lodged in a place where he couldn't get air, he was rapidly losing whatever oxygen he had left and I was going to be calling 911 in a New York minute. 

"No!" He wailed. Dramatic inhale. "I can't breathe." Dramatic inhale. "It hurts." Dramatic inhale. "Really bad! Ahhhhhh!"

Okay. So we established that he could, in fact, breathe. My heart rate slowed from an adrenaline frenzied rapid pump to a concerned quick beat. I might have been able to think like a rational adult if not for the screaming. I grabbed the phone.

My husband is no doctor but on more than one occasion I've heard the story of the time he swallowed his Sunday school offering. He was a few years older than Garrett and was taught a quick lesson on why we don't put quarters in our mouths. It lodged somewhere near the bottom of his neck. At the time, they happened to have a doctor attending their church. He took one look at Troy, shoved two fingers down my husband's throat and up came the quarter.

Garrett was pointing to the same spot on his neck that Troy has described as momentarily housing a quarter. I tried to dial Troy's cell. Maybe it was the concerned mother. Maybe it was the screaming. Maybe it was the adrenaline still coursing through my veins. I dialed something like 192-7116 which isn't really even close to my husband's number. And there was no area code involved which, if I actually want to reach Troy, I need to dial. I hung up. "Get me water!" My son commanded as if I was the dumbest human being on the planet and he, himself, possessed a medical degree.

I grabbed a cup, filled it with water, and thrust it at him. He swallowed. "Did it go down?"

"No! It hurts. Ahhh! What are we gonna do? It's going to hurt forever!" At this point he starting swallowing dramatically. When that didn't produce desired results, he began spitting a sticky foam all over the floor.

"I need to call daddy. You need to stop screaming. I know it hurts." I rubbed his back. "I know. I know. I'm going to help you."

I called Troy. Correctly. He didn't answer. I called the office. The church secretary went and got him for me and I asked him what to do. "Should I shove my fingers down his throat or take him to the doctor?" I asked.

"Well, you can try to make him throw up and if that doesn't work you can take him in." 

"Okay. How do I do it? I don't want to hurt him."

"Just shove them down there until he throws up," he replied.

"Okay."

"Keep me posted."

I hung up. Then I took The Rock Star outside. I know. It might not have been my finest parenting moment but, well, I didn't want to have him throw up in the toilet because I didn't want to fish around for the object to make sure it had come up. And, since he wasn't having trouble breathing and, therefore, his death wasn't imminent, I also preferred not to have to clean his vomit up off the floor. Call me a horrible mother but it took an extra seven seconds to get outside and he was irrationally yelling at me the whole time. "No! You are not going to make me throw up! I don't like to throw up. Barfing hurts my throat."

That last one really got me. If I wasn't worried about his pain level at that point I would have asked whether barfing or having something stuck hurt worse. Because if he wanted to live his life with a hard candy stuck in his throat who I am to judge? To each his own.

I told him to open his mouth. He batted at my hand, turned, and ran up the slide into his play yard. I turned around. "Okay, fine, I guess it'll just hurt then." I started to open the door. I do this reverse psychology thing on my kids a lot. Sometimes it dawns on me that I'm up a creek if they don't bite. "Hi, just ignore him. He never stops screaming because he's had a candy stuck in his throat for a month and a half." Thankfully he turned and came to me. I shoved my fingers deep down his throat. He gagged. Nothing happened.

"It still hurts! It's still there! Ahhhh!" He wailed. I reached for his mouth again. "No! I don't want you to do it again! I said I don't want to barf!"

As soon as he said that he keeled over at the waist and violently began to heave. I'm still not sure whether he took matters into his own hands or whether his body just took over on auto pilot. He heaved. Foam and sticky saliva came out. He heaved again. More foam. More sticky saliva. He heaved and retched. Up came a chewed tomato. Up came phlegm and gunk. Up came the hard Easter candy.

"Are you okay now?" I asked.

He smiled. "Yes."

I picked the candy up from the grass.

At that point I realized that my right hand was coated with a very sticky, very slimy, saliva. I'm still not entirely sure how it got there. We walked in the house. He saw another hard Easter candy, still in the wrapper. Looking at it with disgust he muttered, "I am not going to eat that."

I washed my hand. It took great quantities of soap and quite a lot of scrubbing to get the saliva off. Apparently his throat started mass producing some kind of coating.

Then I did what any good mom would do. You know, to make up for the fact that I made my anguished child walk outside to throw up. I took pictures.

The set up of this photo is two fold. On the one hand, I thought that by having the candy next to a quarter, people would get an idea for the size of the candy.

On the other hand, well, like father like son, I guess. Maybe 25 years from now Garrett's own child can add a trinket to the "Things Our Family Has Attempted to Swallow" collection. Although, this is not the quarter Troy swallowed. No. Because he actually washed that one off and put it in the offering.
He didn't beat his daddy on size but he's younger so it stands to reason that his esophagus is smaller.

All in all, it was about a five minute ordeal (much shorter than the 15 minute ordeal Troy went through). I have every reason to believe that his body would have broken it down relatively quickly--although I never would have just let it go what with the way he was shouting and sobbing. Thankfully it was just a candy. As Troy pointed out, if he'd had to wait for his body to break down the quarter, it would probably still be there.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Social Experiment

This morning I was reading a blog post by Kristen Howerton. If you aren't familiar, Kristen is the mother of two biological daughters, an adopted African American son and an adopted Haitian son. The particular entry has a picture of babies asleep on a tarp in the aftermath of the earthquake. Matthew crawled up on my lap and, seeing black babies, pointed and said, "It's Matthew baby." I tried to explain that it wasn't him but he was having no part of accepting that.

"I promise you," I said, "you've never slept on a tarp in Haiti."

Matthew understands his unique color within the confines of our family. As such, he thinks any picture of any brown baby is him. I pulled him onto my lap and typed "African American babies" into a Google image search so that we could look at several pictures of kids who share the hue of his skin but don't otherwise look anything like him.

As we looked at different kids, I came across this picture.


I was captivated. I moved the mouse to click on it. There is something about the immense muscles of this huge father holding the tiny child, something about the stark color contrast, something about the love, that made me need to see it bigger than it appeared in the image search. When I hovered the mouse over it I saw the title of the jpg.

Gross Picture.

Perplexed--and not in a good way--I clicked in to the site that the shot came from. It's a site for the Council of Conservative Citizens based in St. Louis. The title of the article reads "New York Times Celebrates adoption of white baby by black NBA star." It was posted in June of 2008. The man is DeMarcus Ware and, for starters, he's in the NFL, not the NBA. The article does correct itself in the body but the title gets it all wrong. This, however, isn't even the tip of the iceberg of what the article gets wrong. It may not, actually, even be on the iceberg at all.

"Why would a wealthy black celebrity go to all the trouble to adopt a white baby, ignoring the multitude of available babies of his own race?" The article asks.

"Why would an adoption agency give a white baby to this bizarre black athlete, when thousands of white couples are desperately waiting in line for the opportunity?" It questions.

"Why is the life of a young baby girl being used for social experiment?" The article implores.

Why is my heart pounding violently inside my chest? Why do I suddenly feel hot all over? I began to research DeMarcus Ware. He and his wife suffered several miscarriages and a stillbirth before adopting their daughter, Marley. They've since added a biological son to their family. When Marley was born, on February 29, 2008, it apparently sparked debate across the nation. The New York Times article doesn't mention ethnicity. Personal blogs and other articles do.

The Daily Voice: Black America's Daily News Source said, "Do you mean to tell me that the Ware's couldn't have found a little black baby to adopt?"

Mediatakeout.com said this, "...the writer never even mentioned the fact that their adoption was a cross-racial adoption. Guess in today's world of political correctness, you're better off pretending that there's no elephant in the room." It also said, "...maybe the next time around they can adopt an African-American child..."

Marley Ware is actually Hispanic.

Does it matter? I'm not asking if her ethnicity matters. Certainly it does. But does it matter if she's Europian American, Romanian, Spanish, Russian, African American, Korean, Ethiopian, Haitian, Hispanic or Canadian? When it comes to building a family, I mean. Does it matter?

Families become families in all sorts of ways that cannot usually be predicted. When people ask me how we "ended up" with Matthew I tell them that his mother chose us. She looked through countless profiles of countless adoptive parents and she chose us. The Ware's are an African American couple with a Hispanic daughter. We are a Caucasian family--a mostly German mutt-breed, really--with an African American son. If it's acceptable for us to adopt transracially and not them, that is overt racism at its worst. That we whites can do it but those blacks can't is absurd. If it's unacceptable for either of us to have adopted transracially, well, we're just dealing with a different kind of racism. And people need to redefine their idea of what it means to be a family.

Transracial adoptive families face an uphill battle of issues. An Everest of issues, if you will. Adoption. Identity. Racism. To call into question the very essence of our families is unwelcome and unwarranted. It devalues who we are.

There is absolutely nothing gross about that picture. It is one of the most incredible shots I've ever seen. And this one...


Gross? Absolutely not. Gorgeous? Yes.

Family.


Marley Ware and my son, Matthew, are full members of our families, deeply loved and fiercely protected. They are not social experiments.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Torture

An open letter to my neighbors.

To Whom It May Concern,

I find it necessary to explain that I was not, actually, murdering my oldest child tonight. If you live within a three mile radius of my house, you may feel that you were listening in on his brutal death. In reality, he was having a small amount of hydrogen peroxide applied to a dirty skinned knee. Terrified that it was going to send him into an early grave, he fought me with all of his might. Had he wrestled with half as much passion, he would not have ended his season with an official 0-9 record, I assure you. It took several minutes for me to get him into a position where his limbs were not flailing about and assaulting me. During the duration of these minutes, he was shrieking loud enough to power a small city--should that noise have been harnessed and converted into usable energy.

The whimpering you may have heard was not a wounded puppy but, in actuality, my younger son sobbing in the corner of the bathroom. He was begging me to stop. He was pleading with me to allow him to rescue his brother. On more than one occasion, I had to plant my entire body over the top of the older, look into the eyes of the younger and explain that mommy was only trying to help. She was not, actually, inflicting pain upon his brother for the sheer fun of it.

He stood, clutching his beloved blanket, tears flowing down his cheeks, repeating, "I sorry brother. I help you. Stop mommy."

His brother shrieked and sobbed and screamed hysterically. But he did, in fact, survive the ordeal. There was no death by hydrogen peroxide. There's really no need to call the authorities.

Together, Garrett and I explained to Matthew, when all was said and done, that I love them both very much and would never try to hurt them. They are both settled into bed now and neither seems to be sleeping with one eye open, afraid of the psychotic beast who refers to herself as mommy.

Garrett's knee is clean and sporting a band-aid.

Call off the department of child and family services. I assure you it wasn't nearly as bad as it sounded.

Signed,
The Hydrogen Peroxide Torturer

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ridiculous

In my last post I said, "This is the time in Utah when the weather can be 70 degrees on Monday and it can snow on Wednesday. Ridiculous."

Yesterday, when I got home from an amazing women's conference, I changed into capris and a tank top. It was a sunny, pleasant, brilliant day. The high was 79.

In the late afternoon the clouds rolled in.

Today, the thermometer reads 37. It's snowing off and on.