To Clot or Not To Clot

Yesterday was a busy day, what with the Royal Wedding (yes, you capitalize that! c'mon people), kite day at Lily's school, getting Carver packed and dropped off at our church for a retreat, music lessons, a meeting--we thought we'd top the evening off with a trip to the ER.

Poor, poor David. After his knee surgery he developed a blood clot in his leg. He noticed some swelling and severe discomfort on Thursday night, and when it didn't improve the next morning he called his surgeon and went in to get checked out. After an ultrasound on his calf, they were able to spot the clot (Dr. Seuss would be proud) and admitted him to the ER. The blood clot runs from just above his heel to the top of his calf--the entire vein is blocked. Here's how it happens:

You have surgery.
Your body goes into healing mode.
Your blood starts chanting, "Must clot and heal incision! Must clot and heal incision."
It tries to clot really, really hard.
You are unlucky and a clot forms in one of your veins. It grows.

I am insanely grateful for our health insurance, because the whole time he was on a hospital gurney I was not thinking about how much this would cost us. However, being in the ER on a Friday night is not so great. The staff was in-between shifts, and we got a doctor that was hardly there. When they were ready to release us I had to demand why they were sending him home with such a life threatening condition. When I finally had the doctor's attention for more than 15 seconds and she was able to better explain the drug regimen and follow-up routine, I felt somewhat better. But it felt sad that I had to demand it.

And what is this drug regimen I speak of? Well, that's where the photo of hypodermic needles comes in. Shots. Los of them. In his stomach. Given by (wait for it...) me. Oh yes! If you have a blood clot, you get to give yourself (or let your loved one do it for you) shots in the stomach. It's a blood thinner that gets into your blood stream the fastest that way. He's also on a pill form of blood thinner, and in about 5 days when the pill is doing it's job, we can stop the shots. Now, being that David is my very own Prince Charming, the doctor could have told me that I had to eat raw chicken in order for him to get better and I would have done it. But there's a reason I didn't go to medical school.

The nurse gave us a crash course in "how to shove a needle in your stomach and live to tell about it." David got to try and then I got to try. Perhaps one of the strangest things we've ever done together. And then they sent him home. He has to follow up at the Deep Vein Clinic, with all the other delinquents with naughty veins, and it will probably be weeks before he's completely out of the woods. (You want the clot to dissolve and not break off, because that can kill you.)

Here's to smoother sailing ahead. And three cheers to David for being the kind of guy to let me stick needles in him. He's pretty awesome like that.


Just A Little Something For Your Friday (sigh)
Yes, I would have been one of the millions in the street, celebrating.


This Is Progress?

This "theory" that so many Americans have clung to over the last two years--that Obama was born somewhere outside of the United States--has finally come to a head. Donald Trump thinks he's the superhero in this scenario, but really he's just the talking head for the masses across the country who share his view. The belief that is discussed in kitchens and living rooms, slapped on bumper stickers, snapped up by journalists, included in jokes, taught to children, truly believed by so, so many. And what is at the root? Why would it not be enough to take our President at his word, or believe in the election process to be fair and just, or believe the officials in Hawaii, or believe the short birth certificate? Why is all that not enough? I'll tell you why. Because Obama is black.  (I think his middle name has something to do with it too, but that's beside the point.) Our president is black and has a rich, cultural heritage and that pisses people off.

And where is progress? Where is the progress I dreamed of? Not in the bigots who demanded the "long" birth certificate. Not in the news media who keep hounding this stupid story to death. Sadly, not even in President Obama. I am horrified that he succumbed to the pressure. I'm shocked he felt the need to produce more evidence of his birth. I feel betrayed that he caved in to the demands of a bunch of morons. He claims it was to put the issue to rest once and for all, but does he really think this will go away? It won't. He could create a time machine and invite all the skeptics to travel back in time and witness his birth in a Hawaii hospital, and they would still find ways to refute the evidence.

It's a sad day for me. Progress just got tossed out the window.


Just Kill Me Now
Lily's birthday is coming up. And so we begin to ask the question, "What do you want to do for your birthday?" It is a minefield. We have to work around her volleyball games, Carver's track meets, David's never being here, and her best friend's travel schedule. Once we narrowed all that down (it was harder than trying to win the lottery) I asked her what kind of party she wanted. Her answer?

A slumber party.

I remember being Lily's age and going to slumber parties and having slumber parties. I loved them. I don't remember my mom loving them, though. In fact, she was downright grouchy about them. She was driven insane to the point where she sat on the stairs next to the room we were in and kept hissing, "Quit talking." I thought she was just the worst mother ever, not to mention a giant party pooper. Now I know better. The woman just wanted to sleep.

So even though I do NOT want a slumber party at my house, it's looking like that's the direction we're headed. I'll let you know the date so that you can Skype me all night long and join in the fun. I'll be awake, after all.


Um, No!

I was listening to an interview on the radio this morning and it pretty much kicked me in the gut. A mother and father were talking about their two boys they adopted from Russia. I resonated with them in many ways: the paperwork, the wait, the grief of having a child in an orphanage, the work, the exhaustion, the unbelievable joy, and so on. But then they said this:

"We've often been asked if we'll make sure we incorporate the boys heritage and culture into their lives as they grow up. And we do! They're living in Mississippi now, so they eat red beans and rice, shrimp, and listen to Hank Williams."

Yes, it was said tongue in cheek, and yes, he was trying to be funny. But his point was that his boys are now a part of his family and they're not Russian guests living with them. They're his boys. And as much as I applaud his deep love for his kids, this struck me as very, very wrong. His boys are not guests, but they are Russian. They will want to know all about where they were born and what it was like there. Keeping their birth country's culture alive in the house does wonders for an adopted child's soul.

I will be the first to admit we could do a lot more with Zinabu and his heritage, but we certainly don't throw it out the window and consider him blessed because now he can eat pizza with us. His "Ethiopian-ness"--if I may use that made up word--is a lot of what makes him Zinabu. How he eats and moves and walks and talks. Very Ethiopian. His questions and concerns about his adoption are soothed when placed in context with where he came from. To insist he's an American now is to shut the door on a very rich and treasured past. I cringe when I hear other APs (adoptive parents) doing just that.


A Prayer For My Daughter
Tina Fey has a new book out entitled Bossypants. I have not read it, so I can't speak for the  book in its entirety, but it does contain a prayer she wrote for her daughter. As someone who prays a lot for her kids, I resonate with this one. Swearing aside (because I usually don't swear when I'm talking to God), it's awesome. Enjoy.
First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.
May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.
When the Crystal Meth is offered, may she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half and stick with beer.
Guide her, protect her when crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.
Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels. What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it.
May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.
Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, for childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.
O Lord, break the Internet forever, that she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers and the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.
And when she one day turns on me and calls me a b*tch in front of Hollister, give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, for I will not have that sh*t. I will not have it.
And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back. “My mother did this for me once,”she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.
-Tina Fey


An Update
Here's a quick look at what we've been up to this week.
Lily at her volleyball game.
Zinabu and Carver trying to "build the Grand Canyon." Their words. Not mine. Please
note how nice I am that I let them run the water and make mud and get everything messy.

Carver assisting Lily with her school's Crazy Hair Day. Want to know what he's listening to?
An audiobook. That's right, baby. Nothing says "crazy" like a little bit of literature.

Part Chia Pet, part Dennis Rodman.

The bears are back. Note mama bear at the bottom while brothers are in the tree, attacking
our bird feeder.

Mama bear on the back porch. She took her sweet time and acted like she owned the place.
I might have been shaking while I took this picture. She's kinda fuzzy.

The Department of Wildlife is trying their darnedest (with tranquilizer guns and all) to capture these bears and relocate them back in the mountains. They are so, so not supposed to be in our neighborhood. It would be nice if it happened sooner than later. I'm afraid to let the dog go pee for fear of an attack.

You know. Just your average, everyday little problem.


Book Review
Loved this book. It's a picture book biography of William Bentley, who was the first person to capture snowflakes in photographs. You can see it won the Caldecott Medal of Honor, so you don't need to just take my word for it. It's good.

I loved the illustrations, which reminded me of wood block prints. But even more I loved that this was a story about one man following his heart's desire. He was not famous in his lifetime. He made no money. He was actually ridiculed for wanting to study snow. And despite all that he pursued his passion and did what made him happy. That is SUCH a great message for my children. I don't know what they'll grow up to be. I don't know what their future careers will be. Yet I so want them to do what makes them happy. This book speaks volumes to that very idea. So if you're ever in Vermont, check out his museum. If you'd like to see what he started and to study snowflake photography, go here!

All three of my kids gave this book two thumbs up.


I had a great post written in my mind, and I was all set to add a few photos and talk about some of the fun things we did this weekend. Instead, I'm going to be real with how I feel today.

I am completely wiped out.

We're really struggling with one of our kids right now. Someone is having a tough time with life in general. So much so that we're seeing a therapist. I hate watching this child suffer and I hate that they have big issues to work through. I hate that said issues are pretty much controlling them and they can't see past them.

I guess I don't ever want you to think that life is just hunky-dory here and we never have any problems. That is so not the case. I also don't ever want anyone to believe that therapy is a big scary world that should be avoided. Please don't think that. Some kids see a counselor/therapist for nightmares. Others when they have a difficult time in school. Sometimes for divorce, or death of a family member, or self-esteem issues. If your kiddo ever begins to struggle at all, feel free to contact me and ask me about the steps we took. It is hard to get to the place where you say, "I don't think my parenting alone will fix this." But it is also liberating. Because you hand the problem over to someone else--someone with experience--and you let them come alongside you to help.

It's a relief.


A few of you asked about the how and when of the "drug talk" at our house. Most of you have children age 6 and under. A lot of you have kids 9 and under. So you naturally look to me as the expert on all things. (Insert snickering.) I wanted to share with you how we addressed and continue to address the issue of drugs with our children.

 First of all, I highly recommend this book:

I found this at our local library last year and the title caught my eye. I found it to be an amazing resource and I think it is a must read for anyone who is raising a child in today's world. If your kids are younger, don't think the material doesn't apply to you. I can honestly tell you your kids will be older before you know it.

We talk about all kinds of topics openly. Our children are adopted and they're obviously adopted, so we have not had a choice in the matter of waiting until they're older to have difficult conversations with them. As early as we have been able to, David and I have spoken with them about adoption. We always keep it appropriate for their age level and never give them more information than we think their brains can actually process, but we do talk about it. The topic of adoption is a perfect example of how parents can discuss sometimes awkward or unpleasant issues with their kids. Drugs are unpleasant and sometimes awkward to talk about, but it can be done.

We talk about our values daily. I'm sure you do, too. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that since Carver was 4, I have explained to my kids on a weekly basis that our values may differ from other families' values, but they are ours nonetheless and I expect them to abide by them. Every family does things differently. We are no exception. By bringing your family's values into your daily conversations, your children learn that you care about where they fit into the world around them. As we've had those teachable moments when our values play a role in our discussions, we have also begun to explain to them that drugs will have no part in our family. Don't be afraid to talk about drugs alongside your views on charity, health, and priorities.

Teach your kids to say no. OK, most of your kids are probably really adept at saying no--to you--but I meant that you should teach them to say no to their friends and peers. If they can practice this in the little things, and get used to the idea that they will not burst into flames when they choose not to do what their friends do, it empowers them to say no to bigger things in the future.

We started with smoking. The first drug conversation you'll have with your kids will probably be about smoking. Kids are curious (at some point) when they see adults smoking. They want to know what it is and how it works and why the adults (or 15 year olds) are doing it. When our children asked us about cigarettes, we shared with them how they work and how it is addicting. We then told them that smoking is so harmful to your lungs and if they grew up and chose to smoke, they probably wouldn't be able to ride their bikes as hard or run as fast, and they would smell very yucky. Keep it age appropriate for your kids, and let them know what the consequences of smoking are in terms they can grasp.

Elementary school. By the time Carver and Lily were in second grade, we used the term "drugs" with them in a general way. As in, "Smoking and other drugs are very bad for your body." We related it to smoking because that was something they could sort of grasp. "Drugs" was just a word to them at that point, but it was at least in their vocabulary.

Fourth grade. I think fourth grade was the year we really began discussing with Carver what drugs do. We talked about the fact that people used them to feel good for a little while, but that they were illegal and could also do so much destruction. We were pretty specific about brain damage, cancer, seizures, etc. He asked some questions, and we were able to share with him that some drugs are pills and other drugs you smoked. It was then that we introduced the concept to him that at some point in his life someone would ask him if he wanted to try them. We told him this would happen. We even told him that it might happen with a friend. He knew that he should say no, but we gave him the tools to say no. This is key. A lot of parents tell their children, "just say no" but they don't teach them how. We told Carver there could be all kinds of scenarios in which this might happen to him, and we gave him a way of escape in every scenario. We even gave him lines he could use like, 'My parents would ground me and I really want to go skateboarding this weekend." Then we practiced with him. That might sound like overkill, but until a kid practices and you role play with them, their odds of remembering what to say aren't as strong.

Dialogue, not a lecture. Since Carver was in fourth grade, we have occasionally brought the subject up again. You usually know when the time is right. A conversation might lead that way naturally or your child might have more questions. As long as you're making it a part of your family dialogue, it never feels like a lecture. If you just decide one day when your child is 12 to sit them down and tell them to say no to drugs, I doubt your kid will understand the severity or the context of your words.

As they get older, get more specific. Once Carver began sixth grade, we became more specific about what types of drugs he could see, what they're called, and how they work. Last fall the drug "spice" was making its way through multiple cities around the country and it was getting a lot of press here. At the time, spice was legal (it was a concoction of herbs that you could smoke), easy to buy, and mimicked the high you would get from pot. There was a girl in our community who got hurt while high on spice because she thought she could fly and she jumped off a cement wall. (Fortunately, she recovered.) David casually worked it into our dinner conversation, and he told Carver to be aware. (On a side note, spice is now illegal in our city.) We have not told Carver about meth or cocaine or LSD, etc., etc. I'm not that crazy. But at the time, it seemed like a good idea to at least let him know that kids were getting into a lot of trouble for trying spice. That pretty much was all we needed to say.

One day at a time. That's what parenting is, anyway. Don't let your guard down. Be willing to do the work. Keep those lines of communication open. And take it one day at a time.


What Is Parenting?

Parenting is the scariest thing... ever. And it is the best thing... ever. And the hardest and the craziest and the most rewarding... ever. And I knew this day would come. And I knew we'd done everything we could to prepare for it. And we hoped and prayed he would have the strength to stand up for himself. And he did.

Carver was offered drugs today. A little bit of pot. Right after school at track practice.

Have you considered how old your kids will be the first time they'll have to deal with this? Did you imagine 12? We had assumed it could happen, though of course I didn't want it to happen. But it did. And it will to your kids, also. Sometime. Carver attends one of the best schools in our district. There is not a history of drug problems at his school. This was not from a friend of his. This could happen in any town, in any place (not just school--think camp, playgrounds, the pool, you name it), at any time. Sometimes kids make dumb choices and offer those dumb choices to other kids. I am relieved to report that he said "No" and immediately told a teacher. He did everything right.

Funnily enough, this all came out when we were eating dinner. I asked everyone to go around and describe something interesting that happened to them today. When it was Carver's turn, he said, "Well, this was kind of  interesting and kind of bad." And he told us the story. I think I should get an Academy Award for my acting skills--for not completely freaking out and running out the door screaming my head off. Instead, I just looked him in the eye and told him how insanely proud I was. Then we all applauded for him and gave him high-fives. I know that how we reacted went a long way in his willingness to say no in the future, and to tell us about it.

So score one for our family today. Just one though. We have years ahead of us. And two more kids.

Track and Other Matters

If I had to pick one photo to best represent the personality of Carver, this could certainly be the one. The picture itself is terrible, but I was able to capture Carver's heart. He's such a helper. Such a do-er. Such a go-getter. He had his first track meet last week, and he ran the hurdles and the last leg of a relay. He loved it. The practices are hard, but the meets are the big payoff. I love his coaches because their philosophy is to just get the boys out there, trying new things. They won't use the strongest or the fastest for the events. They use whoever is willing and wants to give it a go. Love, love, love!

So it was toward the end of the meet that Carver picked a spot by the sidelines and cheered on the final runners. Then he helped put away the hurdles. The only kid, by the way, to help put away the hurdles. I wish I could say that this is a reflection of my amazing parenting skills, but it's not. This is pure Carver. He was born this way. This is his personality.

Our weekend was full of fun stuff. Lily's volleyball and church and errands and roller skating. David took the boys to the high school robotics competition. I know what you're thinking. Geek fest, right? Well, there was some of that... but mostly it was like a huge party with different teams competing for top points. David's school has a very diverse team. As in, it's not just a bunch of boys from the math department (though there are some boys from the math department). I love that Carver and Z got to see the competition, because I want them to know that high school is more than angst and football games. I think they're getting the picture. The robotics club is a great place for kids who go on to work as engineers, but also for kids who grew up loving Legos. Totally awesome.

Happy Monday to you!



Do you ever wish you could collapse on the floor and rest? Well, dogs and two-year-olds can, lucky ducks! I can only dream about it. We are post spring break, which means we go into hyper drive. David's schedule is ballistic. It's indescribable. We won't really see much of him until the end of May. Carver is doing track at his school. I love that he is running but he has practice every day until 5:30. By the time we get him home, eat, do homework, practice instruments, and try to infuse a little family fun time, the day is long gone. Z and Lily have their own activities, which we just throw in like it's no big deal. The cost of gas is killing me, because I'm driving around more than ever. It's hard to conserve fuel when you have a middle-schooler and two other kids, as well. Such is life.

Absolutely no complaints, though. I love spending time with them all and seeing them thrive. I just wish we could add two or three more hours to each day.


No Shoes

Today is the best day of the year to go without shoes. Want to know why? Read more here! Click on the "learn more" tab to, well, learn more.

I have two kids that have never known what if would feel like to be without. I have one kid that knows way too much about being without. Shoes were a luxury in his early life. He went without them for so long, he's still not crazy about wearing them, even now. But not having shoes often means people on our planet are risking injury and infection, hardship and disease. And after you've gone a day without shoes, buy a pair from Toms. They donate one pair for every pair that is purchased.

It's a win-win.


Book Review
Where have I been? Let me tell you... yesterday was 80 degrees and I was not about to waste all that lovely weather sitting in front of a computer. Plus the usual laundry and bills and errands. However, I have a great wrap up of our vacation and a book review for you, so here we go.

Vacation Day 5: we drove home. Yep. That's it. And we were so glad to get home. Car trips are wonderful, but sometimes the very best part is when you pull up to your house at the very end.

I recently read this book to Zinabu:

The book takes place in Chad, and the children build their school before starting lessons. It's a simple picture book suitable for all ages. We loved it, especially the part where the kids use a large pointing stick to point out letters on the blackboard. We have video of Z doing the very same thing at his orphanage school. At the end of the book, Z especially enjoyed the map of Africa. He loves maps. He had a lot of questions about why the kids didn't have a school to begin with. Why they were all in the same class. Why they were learning the alphabet. I completely loved the simple, colorful pictures and the story from another culture's perspective. Highly recommended for everyone!