Friday, July 31, 2009

Bon Voyage!

We have had a wonderful time this summer hanging out with Christina and Dinkeneh at parks and pools. Dinkeneh came home from Ethiopia at the same time as Atticus and Norah and the three have become great friends who demand playdates with each other. However, the summer fun will come to an end tomorrow because.....(drumroll)....
The Peep-Eye family is leaving for Ethiopia tomorrow to bring home Dinkeneh's new baby sister!

I am ridiculously excited for them and totally, totally jealous of their upcoming trip. If you're like me and love reading adoption stories, you should head over to their blog and wish them well!
(P.S. The photos are from our attempt at a family game of disc golf a couple of weeks ago. If I recall correctly, we made it exactly three holes with all our little helpers before deciding that it might be more fun to go to the park.)
ETA: Unfortunately, they seem to have hit a pretty upsetting snag and might not be able to bring Sisaye home right away. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers during what is probably going to be a very emotional and stressful time.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Black Women and Hair: The Untold Story

This article piqued my interest today and made me think some more about hair. The author's premise is that chemically relaxing hair is an attempt to look more European and therefore an expression of self-hate.

Almost all my female students of color chemically relax their hair and have been doing so since they were little girls. It makes me wonder how I'd respond if Norah were to come home from school one day wanting to straighten her hair in order to fit in. Would we allow it under the premise that it's only hair? Would we try to dissuade her or make her do research about it first? I don't know.

As a side note, the author Crystal Belle and I attended the same college and I had to chuckle a little at her description of the lack of Black hair care facilities in rural Vermont. When we were visiting that area last month, I checked the local Wal-Mart and found that there wasn't a single Black hair care product on the shelves. It was a good reminder to always come prepared with a large stash whenever we visit.

Potty Training Dilemma

I know I promised I wouldn't write about potty training again. I swear this is more about sibling interaction than it is about poop.

For the past couple of days Atticus has been rocking it with the potty training. His reward for going on the potty is one of those Cars tattoo Band-Aids stuck to his hands or knees and it's very exciting for him. Unfortunately, Norah is also desperate to get a sticker but truly doesn't seem to understand the connection between the action and reward. As soon as Atticus gets his sticker she very nicely asks for one too. We urge her to try going potty to see if she can earn one, but that's just not happening for her yet. Yesterday she started picking up random slips of paper she'd found and trying to plaster them to her knees. Finally, Atticus took her by the hand and led her to me saying, "Please Mama. Sticker for Norah please." It broke our hearts and Paul and I were still discussing it as we went to bed last night. We felt so mean for not giving Norah a sticker.

I think we're going to try giving both of them a sticker whenever one of them uses the potty. Our hope is that this will encourage positive peer pressure rather than taking away any future incentive for Norah to use the potty herself. I feel like this is a slippery slope. Today it's giving them both stickers. Tomorrow we'll be doctoring their SAT scores so that neither of them has low self-esteem.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cutting for Stone

I just finished reading Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. It's a novel set in Ethiopia that follows the journey of a family for five decades. It is one of the best books I've read in a long time - the type of novel that makes Paul annoyed with me late at night because I'm still up reading in bed.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

And Then I Cried...

Do you notice anything different about Atticus?

ETA: We decided to cut his hair. I love the way locs look on him, but they were high-maintenance and he doesn't care how his hair looks at this point. There were some rookie mistakes I made that I will change if/when we put his hair back into locs. I will start with smaller locs and interloc them from the very beginning instead of starting with two-strand twists. I switched over to this method a couple of months ago and it kept the locs in place much better. His hair has thickened up a lot since I started the locs in January and that was creating some general messiness that I wasn't pleased with (the insecure-adoptive-parent-doing hair paranoia again). Overall, the dreadlocs were a fun look and we'll definitely do them again sometime. It just seemed like a good time to make a change.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The African Children's Choir

We went to see the African Children's Choir perform last night. Even though the concert didn't start until Atticus and Norah's normal bedtime, they were both entranced and behaved well throughout it. Unfortunately, I found my camera's batteries were dead when we got there so I don't have any pictures of the actual event. Atticus hung onto Paul and watched the entire performance with wide eyes. Norah was the only person in the room who embraced the leader's directive to get up and dance if the spirit moved you. She jumped and danced and spun so much that I finally took her to the back of the auditorium so as not to disturb anyone.

The singers, dancers, and drummers were fantastic and we really enjoyed watching them. One thing that bothered both me and Paul, however, was the overall tone of the presentation which was along the lines of "look at these poor, cute orphans" - I find that approach to be very polarizing in terms of Us v. Those People in Africa and I don't like it. I think the group's overall goal - raising funds to educate children - is a very noble one, but I wish they would tweak how they convey their message.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Would You Be Alarmed to See This?

I bought a couple pints of raspberries today at the farmers market and the kids were eager to eat some. The true consequences of allowing Atticus to have them while in his Ergo carrier didn't occur to me until I saw a couple of people driving by who were doing double takes and staring at me. I'd forgotten that Atticus has a tendency to make a tight fist around bits of food and then hold onto them for long periods of time. When that fist contains berries, I guess the results can look a little shocking.

We spent a morning at the zoo the other day with friends. The highlights included the wild bunny rabbit running around the grounds and the construction trucks working on the chimp enclosure.

Friday, July 10, 2009

True Love

The only time I've had to leave a store because my kids were acting out was last month when they threw simultaneous tantrums over shoes. We were in CVS and I had them try on some generic Crocs. Both of them wanted the hot pink pair that was way too small and they didn't take it well when I put the shoes back on the rack.

Today my mom presented Norah with her very own pair of pink faux-Crocs. I have never seen her get so attached to anything. She's currently in bed for the night wearing them, having pitched a fit when they were removed. This is after we let her bathe in them because she was so distraught in the bathtub without them. Eventually we'll have to set some limits on this relationship, but tonight we're picking our battles.

Photo Credit: Flickr public album: Johann Espiritu

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Judge Not

I need to resolve not to read the public comments about articles in the online version of our local paper. They make me insane every single time.

Two months ago, a pair of sisters, ages four and six, were run down by a speeding driver while crossing the street. The four-year-old died immediately and the driver, who had something like FIVE previous convictions for reckless driving, tried to leave the scene. It was one of those articles that makes your heart seize and you can hardly breath. In the comments section of the article, many posters chided the mother for letting her kids cross the street. Today, there was another article stating that the six-year-old passed away last night. Again, there are people from the community who are commenting that this wouldn't have happened if the mother had crossed with her kids.

Paul and I take a lot of measures to keep our kids safe. I'd love to believe that this guarantees that nothing bad will ever happen to them. Articles like this tempt me to bubble wrap my kids and raise them in a padded cell while piping in only organic food that's been pureed so they can't choke. The truth is though, that life isn't safe and accidents happen. Most parents are fortunate enough to escape true disaster, but a lot of it really does come down to luck. Personally, I tend to believe that the danger of overprotecting one's children can outweigh the danger of letting them explore the world.

This is hardly the first time the comments about news articles have riled me up. Anytime there is violence within the city, the comment section quickly devolves into nasty remarks about race. Posters from the suburbs regularly declare that the city is a forsaken ghetto where no one is safe and advise others to get out while they can. What?! Whatever happened to investing yourself in the community to bring about change? Don't even get me started on what commenters say about the local school system where I teach. I'd be the first to say that there's plenty of room for improvement, but most comments seem to suggest that all the problems the schools face are the direct fault of the schools and teachers. Kid brought a gun to school? Why didn't the schools prevent that? Middle schooler threw a rock at a teacher? Why isn't there better discipline in the schools? Why did she have her back turned? I would love to see an online discussion about what we need to do as a community to improve our schools and the general behavior of our youths, but casting stones and sniping aren't going to accomplish anything productive.

I'm thinking of ordering a paper copy of the newspaper so I can avoid this agitation in the future.

More Pictures

We made our own whole wheat pizza dough yesterday.
Anyone who reads regularly might see that sleeping on boats is becoming a pattern.
Atticus went in his first bouncy house at Fourth of July carnival. (Norah decided at the last minute that she wasn't interested.)
All he needs is a gin and tonic or a beer and he'd look just like his parents in our Adirondack chairs. Thanks Grandpa! They're really relaxing!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Parenting Police

Last night I dreamt I was receiving a citation from the police because they'd observed me in a poor parenting moment. I wonder if those go on your permanent record.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Vacation Photos: Part I

We had a lovely vacation at Lake George this past week. It's going to take me awhile to get all the photos uploaded and organized, but here's a sneak peek:
It rained every day except for our last day there. That's okay though, because the kids found the puddles fascinating.
Lake water in the Adirondacks is shockingly cold this time of year, so some of us preferred to do beach yoga instead of swim.
Hand-holding is a relatively new pastime around here. They love to pull each other around and then collapse on the ground.

Blogger isn't allowing me to rearrange my photos, so you may have to guess which captions go with which pictures.