Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Movin' and Shakin'

Matthew was this amazing little mover and shaker. He lifted his head off my shoulder, IN THE HOSPITAL ROOM, WHEN HE WAS TWO HOURS OLD, and just held it steady, staring at me like, "Whoa, you're white." He walked just shy of ten months and crawled at six. He was/is just a freakishly coordinated human being. This post isn't about him.

Garrett was content to do his own thing. He had no siblings to chase. I was a first time mom and all my friend's babies were doing things way faster than him and I was afraid he'd never figure out how to crawl. He did, at eight and a half months old, in a hotel room in northern California. Then I worried he'd never walk. He did. At twelve and a half months. Not in a hotel room.

Will reminds me SO much of Garrett. They have a very similar "I'm About to Cry Because My Feelings Are Hurt" face. And they seem to be hitting milestones at roughly the same time.

Will has been desperately trying to crawl for a couple of weeks now. He tried the site and bounce which was somewhat effective if not overly practical. The Sit and Bounce evolved into him getting on his hands and knees with his feet tucked up underneath him. He tried, valiantly, to crawl this way, but his feet kept getting in the way. He'd end up sprawled on the floor, mad that he couldn't seem to use the force to make whatever object he was trying to reach come to him instead.

I worked yesterday and Troy told me that Will was SO close. I have to work tomorrow and the next day. The fact that Will decided he'd learn how to Scoot-Crawl today was just great. Albeit hilarious. He kinda walks with one foot while dragging the other foot behind him.

I have spent forever trying to upload the video and Blogger is JUST HAVING NONE OF IT. So I'm sorry. Suffice it to say, he's now capable of reaching whatever he'd like. Which, today, happened to be a Pokemon card that he sucked on until it was effectively ruined. Also, he may or may not have consumed a portion of it.

Roughage. Right?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Commander Lofgreen

The caller ID simply said Salt Lake City. I thought, maybe, it was someone from church who needed information about tonight's Chili Cook Off and Game Night, so I took the call.

Me: Hello?
Her: Troy Bassham, please.
Me: He's not available.
Her: I need to speak to him immediately. This is Commander Pam Lofgreen with the Salt Lake Sheriff's Department.
Me: (Assuming someone was in jail and wanted to see a pastor. It happens.) What is this concerning?
Her: When do you think you'll be able to reach him?
Me: Within a few hours. (He was home but I didn't want to tell her that.)
Her: Ma'am, this cannot wait that long. Does he have a cell phone you could reach him on?
Me: What is this concerning?
Her: There is a pressing matter that needs his immediate attention.
Me: What is going on?

At this point, I really was starting to get worried that something horrible had happened to someone in our church and so my adrenaline started pumping.

Her: I cannot tell you. I need to speak with Troy.
Me: I need to know what is going on.
Her: Are you his spouse?
Me: Yes. I am.
Her: Ma'am, your husband needs to come down here. He failed to appear in court and there is a warrant for his arrest.
Me: What? Failed to appear in court for what?
Her: For jury duty.

It's important for you to know that the adrenaline--from thinking something awful happened to someone in our church--was still flowing all willy-nilly through my body so I was even more confused when she dropped that last bit.

Me: MY HUSBAND LOVES JURY DUTY! He would never not appear.
Her: Is this the first time you're hearing about this?
Me: Yes!
Her: Okay, ma'am, he just needs to come down and sign some paperwork. I just need to speak with him immediately. You need to understand how serious this is. There is an outstanding warrant for his arrest.
Me: Ok.
Her: He needs to call me back right away.
Me: Ok. What is the address?

And then she supplied me with the correct address of the Salt Lake City Sheriff's Office. I looked it up and there is a Commander Lofgreen. But the whole thing seemed ridiculous and so we called the number and spoke to an officer.

Officer: It's probably a scam. We're closed today. You can call back tomorrow.

We didn't get his name though so we called back--just in case. A different officer answer the phone and Troy only started to explain the situation.

Different Officer: Yeah, that's a scam. Please tell me you didn't give them any money.

No. No we did not. THEN I looked up jury duty scam online and oh boy. Apparently she was hoping I would eventually hand out his social security number so she could steal his identity.

I thought it would be fun to call back. She didn't answer. It just went straight to "Commander Lofgreen's" voice mail. I tried again later and she DID answer. "Who am I speaking to," I asked. And then she did not respond.

So, thank you, crazy woman posing as Commander Lofgreen for making me think something awful happened to someone I care about OR that my husband was needed to pray with a delinquent or something. You certainly made it a fun afternoon. And, man, you're acting was good. You had me believing I was talking to a scary cop. The theatre major in me commends you.

Friday, January 20, 2017


We try to be very (age appropriate) proactive in talking with our children about slavery, racism, and civil rights. Yesterday, Matthew had a substitute teacher. He came home and told us that she talked with them about MLKJ and that she used the N-word.

"Wait. What now?"

He stuttered and stammered and said that she said that people used to use that word.

"Did she ACTUALLY say the word or did she say 'the N word'?" I asked.

"Oh she said it!" Matthew replied.

Guys, I was just about to lose my EVER LOVING MIND. The only reason I didn't was because Troy was there, imploring me to figure things out BEFORE I lost my religion.

"Maybe it was...okay? Maybe...we need to figure out the context," he said. Because I'm married to a man who really wants to give people the benefit of the doubt.

"I AM SORRY," I clenched my jaw, "but a teacher--a SUBSTITUTE teacher--should NEVER actually say that word. Especially in a room that has TWO BLACK STUDENTS!" I turned to Matthew. "I need you to tell me exactly what she said."

"Well. She was talking about that new movie with the ladies who work for NASA and, Mom, she didn't even say it RIGHT! She said, 'NigRO' with an O on the end. I mean she said it ALL wrong!"

"Wait...did she say, NEGRO?"


Now, I don't really know the context in which she said it but it sounds like she was talking about something in Hidden Figures and that it was maybe okay. This prompted our family to have another discussion about the N word and a talk about the evolution of the words Negro, Colored, Black, and African-American.

Matthew always identifies himself as Brown and it's only been recently that we've explained that while he is certainly brown, the world refers to him as a black man. In the course of this discussion of words, I informed Matthew that the only acceptable words to describe him now are Black and African-American.

His eyes grew huge. "Wait! I'M AN African-American???"

"Yes..." I replied.

"Well, okay then."

Thursday, January 19, 2017


To Kate on the occasion of your death and birth,

I never want to leave you there in the ground. I want to scoop you into my arms, run fingers through your curly hair, kiss mocha colored cheeks, dress you in ruffles and bathe you in snuggles. I want to do a lot of things. But I never want to leave you there in the ground.

I imagine you, buried under the grass. I remember your tiny casket and the flowers that were there, trying their hardest to mask death, their colors begging us to look away from the sadness. I remember choosing your grave marker, none of the dozens of choices seeming at all right. Because nothing was right. It was all messed up.

Everything is wrong when your baby is in the dirt.

The stages of grief aren't stages at all. They're fluid pockets of space and time, connected by wires that allow a girl to travel into any of them at any time.

Acceptance comes.

But even two years later, there is anger and sometimes denial, even.

You didn't die. Why did you die? If only you hadn't died. I'm mad at the world because you died.

In the end, I set my face stoic, remind myself of God's goodness and that the essence of who you are is with Him. I thank you for being you and making me fall in love with you so completely. I rub the dust from your stone, place the things we've chosen, tell you how desperately I continue to miss you. And then I turn and walk away.

But I never, ever, want to leave you there in the dirt.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

That's All

I don't want to talk politics. I really don't. During this past year, I had people say to me or, at least, very near me, that people were horrible, awful, terrible people if they voted...

Third Party
Not third party

"Anyone who votes for Clinton is a horrible person."

"If you vote for Trump, you're a racist."

"Vote third party. It's the only option in this election and you're part of the problem if you don't."

"If you vote third party, you're wasting your vote and giving it to ___________."

Here's what I think though. I think, on a sweepingly large scale, our country has lost the ability to empathize, to understand why someone votes a certain way. Obviously, I've been thinking about this for awhile. Well, for two months anyway.

I maintain that I'm still really angry about the options the Republican Party and the Democratic Party gave me. I was politically kicking and screaming for the better part of a year. But it was what it was. And it is what it is.

In the aftermath, I still want to be a person of integrity. I still want to love others. In many ways, I consider myself an artist--even though I never really did much with my art beyond college. The reason I love the theatre so much is because it conveys the human experience, one moment at a time. One person at a time. One idea at a time. It helps us understand people who think differently than we do.

Do I understand why people are afraid of Trump? Yes. I do.

Do I understand why people were afraid of Clinton? Yes. I do.

I know amazing people who passionately or grudgingly voted for Clinton and my life is richer for having them in it. I know incredible people who passionately or grudgingly voted for Trump and my life is better because they are in it. I know great individuals who voted third party and my life is sweeter because they are my friends.

We need to be able to look past our own fear and into the lives and hearts of people who don't vote the way we do. We need to realize that, generally speaking, roughly half the country is always sad or angry or appalled with the outcome of an election. I have voted in five elections. More often than not, the candidate I've selected is not the candidate who ends up sitting in the oval office. It's neither here nor there how I've felt about Bush, Obama, and Trump. What is here and there is how I love people.

Ultimately, my one vote makes very little difference. Especially since I reside in a state that is always, decidedly, red. And at the end of the day, at the end of my life, I don't think it'll much matter who I voted for. What will matter is how I loved people. Sometimes, how we love people is seen most evidently in the way we care about those who are different.

Regardless of how you voted (and how you feel about the electoral college), these are the numbers I found--


That is a lot of people with very different opinions. They ALL have a story. From the blue collar farmer in Iowa to the Wall Street stock trader. From the black man to the white one. From the single mom to the Texas house wife. From the immigrant to the Native American. Our stories are different so we vote differently. But empathy SHOULD remain.

On Sunday night, at the Golden Globes, Meryl Streep used her speech time, essentially, to talk politics. I respect her right to use the time however she'd like. I respect her freedom of speech. But, personally, I almost never want to hear actors getting political. However, she did say something at the end of her speech that I want to quote.

"...we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy." It is a privilege and it is a responsibility. The world is not black and white. We must have empathy for all: for minorities and majorities, for the disabled, for those with different religious beliefs, for those on the other side of the vote. For all.

And one last thing because it is my blog and I can say what I want. President-elect Trump, you are free to disagree with Ms. Streep. You are free to defend yourself however you'd like on Twitter or in any other forum (although I truly wish you'd stop). You are welcome to your opinions on policy and business and, even, acting. But I am free to my opinion that you are wrong. Regardless of whether Ms. Streep shares your politics or mine, she is not overrated. She is the greatest female actor of our time. And, in the words of Miranda Priestly, "That's all."


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Because This Is Us

Back in September, when all the new television shows were playing their promos, Troy and I kept seeing commercials for This is Us. Somehow, I thought it was only about one woman's weight loss journey. It was intriguing, to be sure, and I knew it had potential but I try to be really intentional about which shows I add to my lineup. We really only watch a few and it takes a lot of great acting and an intriguing story line to make the cut.

Throughout the fall, I kept seeing Facebook posts that said, "Adoptive parents must watch!" and articles with titles like The Show That Gets Adoption Right. And so, over Christmas break, after telling Troy several times that we really needed to watch it, we binged the first 10 episodes. I mean, it started with a casual, "Hey, let's watch the pilot and see what we think," and ended with us wondering how we'll ever make it until Tuesday when the show comes back after its winter break.

The soundtrack.

The storytelling.

The relationships.

I feel so completely invested in the characters.

This show has so many story lines that people can relate to for one reason or another but, of course, for Troy and me, it's the transracial adoption plot that keeps us coming back.

I'm sure there are people watching who relate to Kate and her journey with her weight. I'm sure others identify with Jack setting aside his dreams to provide for his family. Some might relate to Toby or Kevin or Beth or William.

If you have ever wondered what it might be like to be me, watch this show.

Because Mandy Moore as Rebecca Pearson is pretty much my spirit animal.

That is NOT to say that I agree with some of the choices she made to keep certain secrets. Intellectually, with the benefit of 30 years between her adoption of Randall and mine of Matthew, I know and believe that our kids are better off with knowledge and relationships--when either of those things are at all possible. They are better off knowing and they are certainly better off when we allow them to talk about adoption like it isn't a giant elephant in the room.

But what I love about this show is that it isn't afraid to expose our secrets. I try so hard to make sure that Matthew and Will know I'm not threatened by the fact that I'm only one of their moms. And I'm not. Because this world is big enough, Matt's world is big enough, Will's world is big enough, for both of us. But, I'd be lying if I said I didn't love them so very much that I wish I could be enough, the way that I'm enough for Garrett.

I don't know if the story line will continue in such a way that I will always feel this camaraderie with Mandy's portrayal of Rebecca, but as for the first ten episodes, well, like I said, spirit animal.

It's personal. It's thought provoking. The credits roll and we talk about what to do and what not to do. Or what Jack or Rebecca should or shouldn't have said. Or done. It makes me infinitely thankful for these three decades of growth and awareness that separate me from Rebecca. It makes me thankful for the portrayal of their relationship now--that we might see one writer's spin on an adult transracial adoptee and his mother. I love that we see the things done right mixed with the mistakes made.

I am cheering for Rebecca every moment. She is me. We don't make the same choices. No one experience is ever the same as another. Sometimes we're right and sometimes we're wrong. She opens herself up to us, showing her flaws, bruises, and struggles. She navigates loving these three children with their unique needs. She tries to do right by them. She fails and she succeeds.

She doesn't apologize for the fierceness of her love.

My children have two moms.

I am one of them. And I love them fierce.