Honestly I didn’t mean to honor those who serve our country by eating too many brownies and sitting in traffic. It just kind of happened that way. But I do give my respect and thanks to everyone who works hard to protect the freedom we enjoy in the US. Thank you. I’d give you a brownie, but I seem to be short on brownies right now. Perhaps we can work out a fourth of July deal.

in K+A | Comments Off


Trying to eat “right” is like trying to learn archery in a tiny sailboat in the middle of a hurricane. With a tsunami approaching. In the dark. Well, tell me I’m wrong.
I grew up with a very 50s dinnertime mentality—we ate dinner at exactly 5:30 every night, and we had meat, one vegetable, and a starch. Cookies from a box for dessert. The starch was usually the highlight, occasionally the meat, never the vegetable. Poor sickly boiled vegetables tossed with some salt and indifference.
At some point during high school or college I got my hands on a copy of the Silver Palate Cookbook and attempted to feed leeks to my father one night for dinner. The leeks were not well received. I also tried cooking with fresh garlic, herbs, and lemon juice while reducing the amount of salt. Also not well received. Thing was, I was in love with the SPC. It seemed so…progressive and shocking and delicious.
The SPC cookbook had a 25th anniversary edition released, so I’ve been working on this food thing for at least 20 years. Thing is, even if you spend 20 years trying to get a handle on your eating or your thoughts and feelings about food it’s still such a mess. Eggs are healthy, no they aren’t, they’re too high in cholesterol, no, just eat the whites and leave the yolks, but hey wait a minute the yolks are filled with all kinds of good-for-you compounds, eggs are healthy. As long as they’re irradiated. Or not. And that’s E-G-G-s. How about potatoes, pork, milk, any red meat, sugar, sugar substitutes, sugar sources, or soy. And that’s not even scratching the surface of the weird diet du jour, low carb, macrobiotics, the raw food movement, Paleo diet, and calorie restriction, just to name a few. Oh, and McDonalds.
Right. For a science-y perfectionist like myself this is pretty much just torture. I’m a firm believer in moderation in everything yet I find myself in a shame spiral every time I even think about giving my kids fast food. Ditto Kraft macaroni and cheese. (See? I just lost half of you.) Ditto anything not organic, with HFCS or bleached flour, most white foods (fish and cauliflower being notable exceptions), anything with preservatives, anything from Monsanto, anything with synthetic anything. I sort of wish that I could scrap all of that stuff and the rest of the things on my very long list and still live the somewhat regular life I live now, but I don’t think it’s possible, and I know it’s completely impossible when one lives in a small house on a tiny, tree covered lot with no room for chickens or a sustaining vegetable garden much less a herd of milk producing beasts.
I am trying desperately to find some middle ground which makes sense to me and allows me to believe that I am not unknowingly poisoning my kids or kicking their latent cancer genes/cells into high gear or causing them to grow starfish-like extra limbs. I’m finding that middle ground pretty darn elusive, and honestly even just writing “Monsanto” makes me want to sit down and cry. I love the locavore movement but I’m not wealthy enough to be one. I joined a local CSA and have been searching for a *good* farmer’s market with interesting locally grown goodness. It’s all so frustrating.
Eating. So simple and yet so complicated.
More to come on the changes I’ve made, the things I still very much want to change, and of course my angst about it all.

in Dinner | 2 Comments

y. o. u. r. o. c. k.

As it turns out my peeps on the internets are much smarter than I am. (Which of course I already knew.) The meeting went well. (As well as could be expected, really.) I worried too much and I fussed too much and I was a big anxiety-ridden goofball of a mother. It’s all good. (I already know I’m a goofball.)
K. and I talked beforehand, I scribbled down some goals for Z., and we went to the meeting. When I say we I mean K., Z., R., and I went to the meeting. I’m sure they were thrilled to see the kids with us, but it helped me to have Z. in the room with us even though she wasn’t supposed to be there.
We signed the attendance sheet and everyone reviewed their reports. This took a long time, too long as it turns out. But they were trying to be thorough and also explain to us the testing and what happened during testing and how they felt Z. did and why and if the tests were reflective of her true abilities. (No. And yes.) We got some good insights. After a long time we got to the point where it was time to state whether Z. was eligible for services or not.
Everyone got a little uncomfortable and started looking at each other. (Not me—I was clueless.) Then they started blabbing on and on and on about the classifications and how she fit into a bunch of different ones and how they all met and talked a lot about where she fit best and slowly it dawned on me that it was going to be bad news. Yep. They reluctantly dropped her classification into the big silence that had opened up and I immediately started crying.
Sigh. I knew that it was likely I would cry at some point during the meeting since I am in fact a crier, but I really didn’t want to. I did a lot of yoga breathing before and during the meeting trying to stay calm and focused. I think I need some more work on diaphragmatic breathing. I did a lot of thinking and preparing emotionally for what *could* happen, imagining scenarios and my reactions to them. I think I need some practice with visualization techniques. I looked at Z. a lot, reminding myself that this was for her and thinking about how much I love her. Whatever. I cried and everyone looked uncomfortable and they all started telling me why it was a good classification and how it was to help her and that everything was going to be ok and that Z. could totally be one of those kids who become unclassified at some point, a real success story. Then K. jumped in and told some big long story about nothing, trying to get everyone to laugh.
I knew they were right. I appreciated their concern and kindnesses. I knew immediately why they had given Z. that classification and how they were trying to help her get all of the services she needs and I knew they knew it was going to hurt me. And it did. Hurt me.
It took me a while (too long) to compose myself and by the time I was able to focus again they had begun racing through the accommodations that were recommended for Z. which of course were more interesting to me since we had read all of the reports prior to the meeting. They apologized, said they had another appointment waiting, handed us the papers and told us we had 15 days to review and sign them. Everyone loves Z. they told us, she is so sweet. K. made a little speech about how thankful we were for their hard work and concern for Z. and how well she was doing and how we knew that was due to them (thank goodness because I was in no place to do it). I nodded and smiled and grabbed up my kids and got the heck out of there.
So it was good, and they’ve offered Z. an aide (which is what we think she needs) and they were necessarily vague because the budgets have all been cut statewide and no one really knows what’s going to happen next year and we all agreed that we will just need to wait and see how she does. They also finally gave her a PT eval but the report wasn’t ready for the meeting so we don’t know the result of that yet. That was something I had decided not to fight for after conversations with many people who told me that they will not give her PT unless she can’t function in the classroom, so that was a nice surprise. We all agreed a few different times that Z. is an enigma, which she is. I left distrusting the administrators even more, but really liking Z.’s team.
It was a good meeting with good people and I think we have a reasonable plan. Whether it will work is anyone’s guess right now. It’s possible it will work I think, so I’m willing to wait and see. I need to spend some time thinking about why I got so anxious and what this all is triggering in me and how I can do better next time. I need to decide if we want to send her to extended school year. I need to review the recommendations although I have nothing to compare them to so I think they will need to be a work in progress, at least for me. Still a lot to do, but a good start.
And. You. Rock.

in Motherhood | 5 Comments

t. o. m. o. r. r. o. w.

Tomorrow is the IEP meeting. I feel anxious and a little sick when I think about it. Mainly because I am afraid they are going to throw something at me for which I am unprepared. And I hate that.
We got her test results on Saturday but sometimes we forget to get the mail (there’s never anything good in there anyway) so I read through everything on Monday morning. A perfect activity for Monday. I cried. K. told me that Z. is still Z. and that nothing has changed. I cried some more. K. told me that we love her no matter what. More crying.
It isn’t that what K. says isn’t true, or that I’m disappointed in her. I just get such a sense of loss when I think about the things she might not have. It’s sad for me. Her test scores were dismal, her IQ a punch to the gut that left me breathless. Only tests, only pieces of paper. But they are also Z. as she is today in some big or small way.
My plan for tomorrow is to go in with our goals for Z. and an idea of how Kindergarten might work for her. And then listen to what they have to say. And remember that everyone in the room wants Z. to succeed at school to the best of her ability. And believe in these people who have cared for Z. so well this year and last.
And not sign anything.

in Motherhood | 7 Comments

doom. gloom. strawberries.

Just so you know that it isn’t all DOOM and GLOOM around here 24/7 we went strawberry picking.
And had fun.
And ate strawberries.

in Life, isn't it glorious? | 1 Comment

backing in is still going.

I’ll be the first to admit that I backed into motherhood rather more reluctantly than the vast majority of people on this good earth. It’s been a process, a slow process, for me of making peace with my choices and finding my way as a mother. This year Mother’s Day was less angsty, less guilt ridden, happier, freer. All good stuff.
Which is not to say that I’ve got it all figured out. Last week at some point for reasons which escape me I decided to mention to Z. that she didn’t grow in my tummy, but in the tummy of a woman in China. Acceptable in adoption circles these days, you know. Z. has been Obsessed-With-A-Capital-O these last few months with Mamas. “There’s L.’s Mama,” she tells me every morning at school. “Yes, that’s L.’s Mama,” I reply. Sometimes I add, “L.’s Mama is taking very good care of her” or “L.’s Mama loves her very much”. We go down the list of Mamas each morning at drop off and pick up. We review the Mamas in the grocery store ["There's that baby's Mama!"], at Target ["That girl has a Mama!"], and every place you can imagine in between ["Where's that boy's Mama?"]. So it seems like a good time to talk about Mamas, and how she has two.
Mother’s Day happens. All kids seem unphased.
Today while getting ready for ice skating (which is admittedly stressful for Z.) she begins to throw an out-of-the-ordinary fit while K. is feeding her. She becomes inconsolable and begins to almost hyperventilate. I come over and try to intervene. She launches herself at me and calms a bit. We ask her what is wrong, we stroke her, we sing to her. After a bit it is clear that something is very wrong and I say, “Z. if you are very sad right now and need to cry, it’s ok. Go ahead and cry.” She takes a deep breath, hesitates, and launches into the longest, saddest, wailingest crying fit I’ve ever experienced.

K. and I are taken aback. Flummoxed. Confounded. We calm her down again. K. takes E. to skating. I sit with Z., stroking her, rocking with her. I tell her I will always be her Mama. She cries harder. I tell her I will never leave her, ever, that we will always be together. She cries harder. I tell her that we are buddies and we will always be buddies because we love each other so much. Yep. More crying.
Later when I tell K. what I told her about her birth mother he looks at me like I’m crazy. “I don’t think she can process something like that, Amy,” he says, “She’s not ready for it.” I feel horribly guilty, and stupid too. What kind of a mother would say that to her child when she isn’t ready for it? This kind of mother I guess. But I don’t know if I agree with K. She is sad, sure, and upset. But does that mean she isn’t ready? Can’t handle it? That it was too soon for her? It could mean that. But it could also mean that she is sad, that she has sadness locked away in her from her time in China, from her prenatal memories of her first mother, and that she found a voice for it.
So. Mother’s Day. A perfectly reasonable time for Z. to process, if that’s what it was. A day to celebrate our family just as it is. A day for me to feel my gratefulness rub itself into my skin. A day to ponder Z. and R. and E. and our walk together. A day to feel guilty and joyful, serene and sad, worried and hopeful, calm and irrational. You know, all that good mama stuff.

in Motherhood | 2 Comments

h. e. l. p. m. e. p. t. 2

But I am beholden to you, Mike. I’m most beholden.

It’s a quote from on of my all time favorite movies. (What movie, without googling?) It’s also how I feel. I’m sending out a great big, huge, massive thank you to everyone who commented and emailed and talked to me about that last Z. post. I hope to write each of you individually, but knowing how far behind I am with email I’m loathe to make such a crazy promise as that. So for now please accept my heartfelt thanks.
Sadly I still don’t have all the answers. I don’t have any answers yet. But I feel better, and I’ve been pointed in all kinds of good directions, and I’m prioritizing and thinking analytically rather than in panic mode. So that’s all good. I’ve had good conversations with her PreK teacher, her speech therapist (school), and her OT (private). I’ve identified some parents that I want to chat with. I’m putting out feelers about an advocate, although I think it’s early days for that.
And when I say I don’t have any answers, that’s not completely true. I’ve ruled out homeschooling definitively for the time being and I’m leaning away from private school right now after realizing that many of them will not be able to offer her services. We live in a small district (which has its pros and cons) and I was pretty sure and it’s been confirmed that there is not some kind of smaller class she can be placed in so that’s off the table. Pretty much everyone has recommended an aide for her. Interestingly while her current teacher recommended an aide for Z. she said she doesn’t recommend a full- time aide because Z. would get too dependent on that person and I agree with that assessment.
I’ve realized that I trust all of the people on the EIP team except for the social worker (who I just don’t know very well). As some of you have gently reminded me they have Z.’s best interests in mind and they have been exceptionally kind to her and to me. The administrators are another story, but I expect that’s pretty much the story most of the time. I understand that there are budgetary issues, that my kid isn’t the only one who is going to require extra resources, and I want to be reasonable. I also want to get for Z. what she needs. And I don’t want Kindergarten to be a terrible experience for her. Clarity. Clarity. It’s coming slowly in tiny little bits.
I feel curious about the IEP meeting. Also nervous. And worried. And like I’m in sooooo far over my head. But I expect those feelings are also par for the course for many people. I know more going in than many people in no small part because of lovely people like you.
And I know Z. Not everything. Not every perspective, not from every angle. But I know her. I’m going to hold on to that for now.
I’ll have more to say (probably much, much, much more) in the coming months and I’ll appreciate anything you wish to say back to me.
Thanks again. You rock.
[Isn't that the goofiest photo of Z. and I ever? It is. But it seemed appropriate, seeing that we are sitting in her classroom together and I'm feeling just the slightest bit uncomfortable because someone I don't know is taking a picture with my camera and because I'm wondering about next year. And all of the years after that.]

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7 is fabulous

It isn’t like I haven’t been fabulously in love with E. for the past 7 1/2 years but lately I’ve been falling for him all over again. Seven has been a good year for E. what with the confidence from (I’m guessing) karate and ice skating, his ease with school work, and his burgeoning personality.
He is finally losing some awkwardness with the assistance of karate, ice skating, and his climbing class. He’s been uncoordinated, hitting his milestones late and just not physically where many of his peers were. I worried a bit, not much, and left him be. We’ve avoided soccer and t-ball after some ugliness from the boys in Kindergarten (!), content to see what happened with him while the days were passing and he was aging out of seemingly every sport out there. (Seriously, people, do not get me started on that one.) I adore watching him do anything physical–running, biking, climbing, you name it, I’m there grinning.
I am pretty much confused about what they teach first graders these days but E.’s taken everything in stride—reading, adding, subtracting, beginning multiplication, fractions (seriously???). It is lovely to watch. I love pretty much everything he writes, even the boring school stuff. How could you not love this, a story E.’s working on titled “The Dark Side”:

    Eddie Kindavalley and Claraine S. war walking down the street. They lived in apartment 39. “What shod we chat about next” Eddie asked. “Dogs” Claraine said “and cats” Eddie added.

That’s chapter 1. He had me at Claraine (pronounced “chlorine”).
You never know when they’re going to hit, those moments of ridiculous affection and confidence and knowing. You never know when parenthood is going to reach out and smother you with kittens and rainbows and ladybugs and happy trolls. It’s scary and wonderful at the same time.
Scary and wonderful. I’ll take it.

in Motherhood | 3 Comments

organic stress relievers

I’ve been wanting a food-producing garden for quite some time but if you saw our postage stamp of a back yard you might have been as flummoxed as I was. Space concerns aside, this year I finally put my foot down figuratively but emphatically and told K. in no uncertain terms that I was getting raised beds for my birthday. I mentioned this to my good friend T. who emailed me a link for little raised bed kits thereby making me really, really happy and solving my problem of how to motivate K. to produce my raised beds. [Thank you T.! Kits for raised beds. Who knew?]
After probably more effort than you would need to expend we have three raised beds at home and a clear bed with new soil at the beach house. We aren’t fast, but we get the job done eventually. The plants are in, the seeds are sewn and watering is happening. And now that it’s all in place I feel serene. Really. Serene! I love to go out back, I love to look at the plants and watch them grow, I love to smell the herbs (planted mint just to pinch the leaves), I love the fact that the boxes are there, in my yard.
Why did I wait so long? I don’t know, but I can tell you that my 40s have brought me to the place where if I have wanted something for a long time, something that will not go away, I’m looking for ways to make it happen. Life’s too short yadda yadda yadda. I’ve got my vegetable gardens! I’m in love with almost every leaf! (Why do the tomato plants have nasty looking leaves already? We haven’t even done enough to screw them up yet!) I feel serene!

in Life, isn't it glorious? | Comments Off

13 isn’t always a bad number, right?

Another Earth Day, another anniversary for K. and I. 13 years it is this year, 13 years of relative peace and comfort with each other.
That said, year 12 was not our best year. In fact year 12 was the year a giant tick arrived out of nowhere to land on the scalp of our relationship. He dug in, shoved his ugly little arachnid hypostome (i.e., sucker tube) under our tender head skin, and started to suck out all the good, nourishing stuff he could syphon off. He grew rather plump before I saw him, and by rather plump I mean he was a gigantic loathsome blot of ectoparasite wretchedness. Bottom line: you do not want a giant tick befouling your relationship.
To put it more bluntly, there were a lot of economic and other stressors which trickled into our relationship, some hard times, loneliness on my part, some fear too. This thing, this partnership with K. which is so vital to my happiness and wellbeing has a seeming life of its own some days. K. + me = a whole new entity in a way which I really didn’t understand until year 12. And that whole new entity? Is kind of hard to control some days, running and skipping and lurking and disappearing like it does. Also that new entity does not understand the threat of the tick.
People tell me all of the time (older, wiser people not living in a bubble of denial as it turns out) that even good marriages have their rough patches. And in the past I’ve been known to nod knowingly while thinking to myself That’s true. But not for us. Yeah. I won’t be doing that again any time soon.
So. Parts of year 12 really sucked. And here’s what I learned. Try not to freak out. There are definitely times to freak out and times not to freak out, but try not freaking out first. Communicate, especially when you don’t want to, especially ESPECIALLY about what you don’t want to. (That thing? That giant disease carrying, blood sucking mite in the middle of the room? Maybe talk about that when you are able.) Figure out what you are afraid of, face it, and then move forward, somehow. It took me months and months to realize my feelings, understand them, accept them, and move forward. Too many months really. Especially after 15 years of therapy.
Hopefully if you find yourself in a year 12 you are married to someone like K., someone who is committed to talking it out, committed to sticking around, understanding the stakes and accepting that there will be not-so-good times, times when you are completely out of sync or wanting complete different things or feeling deep down just freaking angry about something that won’t go away. And I said to myself more than once “This Too Shall Pass” and you know what? It did. Finally.
And man, how I love him. So, so, so very much, more now than I did when I married him, more now than before we hit our latest rough patch, more now than when I was breathless every time I saw him. He’s a good man, honest, caring, thoughtful and filled to the brim with integrity. I desperately needed a man like him in my life for most of the years he wasn’t there, and I’m so grateful to have him now.
We kicked the giant tick to the curb and got on with the business of being married and raising kids. Today we are like two little bunnies frolicking in the back yard. (I’m sure K.’s imagery would not involve bunnies, but mine does and it’s my blog so bunnies it is.) We had a good anniversary and I’m looking forward to year 13. Also I bought a big tube of OTC organic non-pesticide-containing tick repellant, and I’m staying out of the tall grass for a bit. Happy Earth Day, people!

in Life, isn't it glorious? | 3 Comments