Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tinkle Tinkle

Another update so soon?

Well, I don't time the cuteness. It happens when it happens.

This is how cute she is all the time, I just rarely get to catch it on video. But the time I pull the camera out, the moment has passed. This time I caught a lot of it. A benefit from having a video camera in one's phone.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

First Update!

Mother's Day 2010

Hello World!
I guess it hasn't been THAT long, but Charlie has learned many, many new things so I thought I better update before I get behind. The BIGGEST news is that on Mother's Day, Charlie walked up to me, said "Potty, mama" and led me by the hand to the bathroom where she proceeded to POO AND PEE IN THE POTTY!!!! And she has done so almost everyday since then. She is pulling her undies up and down 20 times in a row during the potty experience and I swear this kid is ready for Pull-Ups at age 19 months! Genius, I swear.

Then tonight, after she pottied, I went to empty the potty and clean it. When I got back, she had pulled the door stop up to the sink to use as a step stool and was putting baby toothpaste on her baby toothbrush and trying to reach the water tap. Which she couldn't reach. Am I naive to be stunned???

Another example of her genius: Last night, while watching some cartoon, Charlie broke into song and dance. She knew the words to "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" even though I've never taught her those lyrics. (Don't even know them all myself... err....) Ok, so she learned them in daycare. Still, it's impressive isn't it? That she would recognize the song and remember the words?

So of course I had to get it on tape.

And of course, the BEST characteristic Charlie owns is that of an industrious child laborer. Ok, that's not really funny. But this picture is.

Happy Memorial Day everybody.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough

My aunt sent me the book "Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough" and I'm a few chapters in. The book has created a firestorm of controvery and Ms. Gottlieb has been on several talk shows defending her position. The truth may set you free, but to be honest, it's depressing me. Here's why: It's actually a realistic look at finding a partner after 35 years old... She' not saying to "settle" as we know it, but to accept certain flaws because we too are flawed. To lessen our list of "must haves" and look for a "good husband" rather than "Prince Charming". That all sounds sane and I can agree with all of that.

Here's why it's depressing. The whole first part(and maybe the rest, I haven't gotten to it yet) she writes about the difficulty, near impossibility, of finding a "good enough" husband. Take this excerpt:

"Having a child in the house changes the specifics - you're never alone and in fact, you desperately crave some solitude - but the longing for an adult partner remains. When I decided to have a child, it had nothing to do with staving off loneliness. It had to do with hoping to find The One without the time pressure of a biological clock. If I was aware enough to know that a child would be no cure-all for a lack of male companionship, I truly believed, in an astoundingly naive way, that I could simply do things backward: child first, soul mate later. But as hard as it was to meet The One before I became a parent, I hadn't anticipated that once you have a baby alone, not only do you age about tn years in the first ten months, but if you don't have time to shower, eat, urinate in a timely manner, or even leave the house except for work, where you spend every waking moment that your child is at day care, there's very little chance that a man - much less The One - is going to knock on your door and join that party."

Sheesh! True!

I've join Eharmony and over the past two weekends sent the first communication out to over 40 men, and gotten 2 responses. That's fine. I only need one husband. But the numbers have definitely changed from when I was 20 and there were 200 unsolicited overtures in my mailbox. I think I have also been naive to think a man would want to join my party... My family thinks it's possible, because they know me and think I'm wonderful. (Thanks family!) But a man would have to be partially insane to willingly jump in my boat, I think. I saw this over the weekend when I brought Charlie and 2 dogs out to eat with a friend and her autistic son. It was a circus. The dogs escaped, the autistic son shrieked, Charlie flung tacos on the floor for the dogs to eat, I got wrapped up in leashes.... Several men walked by and chuckled, but didn't stop to chat, even though my friend made several opening remarks that could have been taken as invitations.

Ladies, we're screwed.

I'm not giving up. After all, I've already paid for 3 months and I'm nothing if not frugal. I would never waste that amount of money. But my sunny optimism has seriously clouded over. Gottlieb has burst my "Prince Charming" bubble. Maybe that's a good thing. We'll see.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Eyebrow Mayhem

Another thing I've noticed about this getting older thing, other than some wrinkles appearing and the diminishing ability to read signs in the distance, is some craziness going on with my eyebrows. I thought the hair growth thing only happened to men. Huh.

Does this happened to you in the mornings?

What are some other signs of age I've got to look forward to?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Steroids and Sugar Daddies

Last night Charlie couldn’t sleep. She’s hyped up on meds. She was bouncing in her crib like a baboon, with her whole body trampolining into the air, butt almost as high as her shoulders, nearly bouncing out of the crib. When I walked into her room, she’d start with the “huh huh huh huh huuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhh!!!” which translates loosely into “pickmeuppickmeuppickmeup


A mother’s worst enemy. And best friend.

I showed Charlie the boo-boo on my finger this morning and explained it was an “ouchie”. She frowned with concentration. “Boo…. boo?” she asked. “Yes, a boo-boo. See? When Mama kisses boo-boos, they feel all better” and I kissed my finger and then waggled it for her to see: “Alllll better!” She looked at me with one eyebrow lowered in suspicion, like she was saying: “What hoodoo voodoo doth you spouteth, Mother?? Do you seriously think I’m going to fall for that???”

When I pick Charlie up from daycare, there’s nothing better than seeing her hurl her little body in my direction, little chubby legs pumping fast to get to me for a bear hug. Huge smiles. But almost as soon as we reach the car, she is whining… sometimes already crying. She’s so tired. It makes the evenings difficult, to say the least. Some days it’s enough to rock her on the couch with a bottle, to have that down time to regenerate. We all need that, don’t we? But some nights even that doesn’t work, and she seems ready to go to bed by 6PM. Which we can’t do or she’ll be up at 3AM. Add steroids into this mix and it’s a moody disaster. I wish I could help her more, but these are long days that I have to work, to afford her daycare. As Charlie would say: “Dah-jeee, whey ahh ewww??” which translates literally into; “Sugar Daddy, where are you???”

What? Doesn't your kid say that?


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Cheering My Old Ass Up

Not much could make me giggle this morning, but this did, so I'm thankful.

I'm taking comfort in the fact that 40 is the new 25.

So there.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I Turn 40 Tomorrow

"It's better than the alternative" is what everyone is telling me and that may be true but I'm not psyched about it.

That is all.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mama Vs. Mommy

I'm teaching Charlie to call me "Mama".

I like it better than "Mommy" for some reason, it sounds warmer to me.

It's more caveman.

More Elvis.

Sometimes I slip, because "Mommy" is what I grew up on, and it's hard to change these types of things mid-stream. She has an easier time saying "mama" anyway. It's such a perfect sounding word, coming out of her mouth, even when she is insistently, impatiently, screeching: 'Ma-maaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!! Ma-maaaaaaaaaa!" it always gets my response.

I'm curious, what do you like to be called and why?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Operating Instructions

Another book review.

“Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year” by Anne Lamott (of Traveling Mercies fame)

I love this book and I’m only ¾’s of the way into it.

Oh, it has GEMS!

Bright sparkly GEMS all over!

Here is one I can relate to: “I have these secret pangs of shame about being single, like I wasn’t good enough to get a husband.”

Or how about: “ …one of the worst things about being a parent, for me, is the self-discovery, the being face to face with one’s secret insanity and brokenness and rage. I have always known, or at least believed, that way down deep, past being kind and religious and trying to take care of everyone, I was seething.” Wow-sa, does that hit home. Those sleepless nights when the baby is colicky and you think you could ram your head straight into a wall from desperation…

About a decade ago, I recall an astrologist doing my chart, he put my birth date, birth place, etc into a computer program, looked up at me and said: “You are completely unbalanced.” I said, “Tell me something I don’t already know.” He said, “You are unbalanced in that you take care of everyone and no one takes care of you.” At the time it was so true. I had a dog, two cats, a townhouse, 14 residents in a halfway house I was directing, and 13 staff members who were mostly looney-tunes themselves. Nowadays, take away 2 cats, replace them with 2 more dogs and a toddler, and I’m in the same position. Except with more responsibility, another house and 200 clients. I can feel rage bubbling up at any given moment, at the slightest provocation. On the other hand, I’m blessed with a great job, a loving family, good health and everything is fine. Go figure. Is every mother like this? Or just me and Anne Lamott??

And the way she describes the dichotomy of motherly emotions is FUNNY: “I wish he could take longer naps in the afternoon. He falls asleep and I feel I could die of love when I watch him, and I think to myself that he is what angels look like. Then I doze off, too, and it’s like heaven, but sometimes only twenty minutes later he wakes up and begins to make his gritchy rodent noises, scanning the room wildly. I look blearily over at him and think, with great hostility, Oh, God, he’s raising his loathsome reptilian head again.”

She confides about her fears about giving birth to a son, rather than the more familiar gender. She writes: “…of course I’m edgy about the whole thing, about having my child having a penis instead of a nice delicate little lamb of a vagina…” and goes on to describe in colorful language the assaults she has endured at the receiving end of penis’ (penii?). I also thought it would be impossible for my body to create a male. When I decided to adopt, it never occurred to me to ask for a boy. I thought I wouldn’t be able to love a boy… they are so different. So foreign. Now that I’m a mom, I realize I COULD love a boy, very much, but it didn’t seem that way during the imagining stage.

She writes about the pain her son will inevitably go through not having a father: “ I don’t have any idea what I will tell Sam when he is old enough to ask about his father. I’ll say that everyone doesn’t have something and that he doesn’t have this one thing, but that we have each other and that is a lot…” I can see myself saying something similar to Charlie.

To try and fill the gap of fatherlessness Anne is amassing a “tribe" to help take care of him, made up of family and friends. Asking for help no matter how difficult that can be. She has people stopping by every day, bringing groceries, cooking, doing laundry, babysitting, taking her son to the park. Jeez! I’m missing out! I’ve been taking care of Charlie 24/7 when not at work, except for when her grandparents visit. Reading that part motivated me to pick up the phone and call a mom I know and suggest we trade babysitting hours on the weekends, which she agreed would be a great idea.

It’s not often I find a book that is both motivating, relatable, AND funny, so I highly recommend this one for all new mothers and even old ones. The love she feels for her son absolutely comes through, this is not a “bashing motherhood” book. Just a realistic, no holds barred type of motherhood book. There’s a gem on every page, every few lines for Pete’s sake! Too many to transcribe here. Go out and buy this book. It would also make a great gift for any pregnant woman, especially singles.

Friday, April 2, 2010

How Do YOU Eat an Oreo Cookie??

While I was making toffee, Charlie wanted to cook too. I put some cereal in a bowl and let her stir it around for a bit. Then gave her a cookie. What a mess! But lots of fun. I love her face when she hears the word "cookie". I remember how exciting that word was when I was little!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

American Idol Jumps The Shark

Is it me or is American Idol A.W.F.U.L this season??

I'm so disappointed!

I don't really like ANY of the contestants. Some of them are PAINFUL to watch and listen to.

Kara still annoys me with her lock-jaw, and Ellen is terrible! If she calls someone "adorable" again, I'll roll my eyes so high they may get stuck. Isn't that pretty condescending to call someone "adorable"? Over and over and over?? Ugh.

When I first heard Ellen was joining the team, I was excited and thought she was a great choice. But really, she's a terrible judge. Not that judging appears to take much insight really. "Flat." "Pitchy". "Wrong song choice". I mean, can't they come up with something else??

That Tim guy's smile is so forced and creepy... DeeDee is a fragile disaster... Lee is utterly forgettable, a cheap Springsteen wannabe... Andrew was AWFUL tonight. I can't believe the judges all loved him tonight. It was GOD AWFUL. The only one I like is Sioban and she is also getting predictable with that ending scream. As Simon said tonight "It's getting boring, Sioban." Oh, I also like Crystal Bowersox. Other than that they are all pretty terrible.

AI has really jumped the shark. I thought that might have happened when they added Kara, but now it's a definite with getting rid of Paula and adding Ellen. It had a good run, and I loved watching for the last 9 seasons. I'll still watch the rest of this season, out of loyalty and nothing else to watch on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. But I wouldn't be surprised if this is the final season. With Simon leaving it's really time to bury this show, unfortunately.


The times they are a changin'.

I guess "X Factor" will be the new show to watch next season.

I made Charlie a toy

While I was at the conference for work, the instructors encouraged us to listen while being creative, a way of learning called "kinesthetic" learning (as opposed to "auditory" or "visual" learning). Well, I don't know if I learned any better, but I had fun making this for Charlie. I won first prize for art made during the week!

My favorite part? The mole. Her mole is made out of one of the smaller sticky eyeballs that I dissected and took the pupil out. The earrings are made out of tiny candy they had sitting out in bowls.

Of course, Charlie won't be able to play with this, it's too delicate and has too many chokable parts, but it's a nice addition to her room. We need to find a good name for "it". Do you have any suggestions? We like Dr. Seuss type names, or anything off beat.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Al Bundy?

The ultimate Sunday lounger.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sometimes I amaze myself.

In order to be a more "motherly-type" mom (rather than the super cool "rock n roll type mom I seem to naturally be)(that's a joke, folks), I decided to try and make candy. Well, also because it seemed fun, and a cheaper way to indulge myself than buying $14.00 boxes of English Toffee in Charleston. My mother told me it was really hard to make, to I entered into this endeavor holding my breath.

Guess what?

Easy peasy! And so delish!

I followed a combination of this recipe and added almonds inside the toffee and crushed walnuts on top of the exterior chocolate, the way I like it best.

Here's the process and how it turned out. Freaking faboosh!

Melting the butter and sugar:

Spreading the toffee on a cookie sheet after mixing in the almonds. Then smearing chocolate chips on top until they melt.

Final product with crushed walnuts on top:

Wowza, this is better than a Heath bar. This is better than what I bought in Charleston. This is candy crack. I need an intervention.

Mom, guess what you are getting for your birthday???

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Shrine Down the Hall

This is haunting and worth your time to take a look.

It "brings the war home" in a way that most articles can't.

I can't imagine the pain these families are going through. To imagine one's child dying so young, and in such violent ways. I simply cannot put my brain around the thought of Charlie's soft body being blown to bits. I think I would absolutely wither if anything like that ever happened to her. War is beyond horrible. It's been 9 years. Too long. Let's bring our family members home. These photographs are a peaceful tribute to the pain left behind.

The one that gets to me the most is the one with the dog curled up on the bed, waiting...

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I’d like to dedicate a full post to my wonderful parents, Charlie’s doting and loving grandparents, who drove 16 hours to babysit for her while I went away on my training for a week. I was able to get 30 CEU’s for my licenses, and have a nice break from diapers for 5 days, without paying anyone or worrying about Charlie’s care.

It’s also just so nice to be around them. When I got back on Friday, we spent time at a bar-b-que that weekend, and at a park, getting take out Thai food and seeing Avatar 3-D (which was AMAZING!! And that coming from someone who dislikes science fiction! Go see it in the theater! You will not regret it!) They always help me around the house. One of my birthday gifts was they hired gardeners to come and ready my garden for spring (a job I was dreading and seriously wondering how I would get done with Charlie to watch 24/7). My yard looks great! My mom is so thoughtful, she bought me pretty new towels to match my bathroom, which I would never do for myself. I would use the old ones until they fell apart. And she knows that. So now I have fluffy, soft, rose-colored towels to envelop me.

My dad replaced all the burnt out light bulbs in the house, including the fluorescent ones and the motion-detector ones, which require ladders and trips to the hardware store. Of course, laundry, grocery shopping and cooking are done. All three dogs are walked, one at a time, by my dad. It’s just so nice. Then they leave and it’s quiet, and the easy life is OVER. No more naps for me. The diapers are back with a vengeance. The adult conversation and companionship… poof! Gone! It’s amazing that these are the same parents I fought with constantly when I was a teenager: we get along well now for the most part and enjoy each other’s company. Boy, they sure have changed. ;-)

Thanks Mom and Dad! See you soon!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Two Cents on Jesse James and His... Ahem..."Mistress" (that's putting it politely)

Alright, so it's not like you haven't read, heard, watched a gazillion articles an interviews on this topic but I have a new beef to vent that I have yet to hear about this whole Sandra Bullock/Jesse James fiasco:

Who is the slime ball who held on to this news until AFTER she won the Oscar??? Was it In Touch magazine??? Or the Neo-Nazi home wrecker??? Because REALLY.... that is beyond cruel. This is supposed to be the happiest time of her life, a culmination of a lifetime of hard work, a celebration and recognition of her talent, and she has to deal with this???? A week after winning Best Actress??? Come on! This is just NOT FAIR.

And I really have the feeling that the reporter or the other woman held on to this news until just after the Oscars because that would sell many more papers. The affair had been going on for 8 or 9 months. There was no reason it couldn't come out sooner, except that some evil person waited to see if Sandra would win and used her win (and the affair scoop) to line their pockets. That is some conniving, ice cold behavior right there.


I really hate cheaters, but in this case I really hate whoever ruined her Oscar moment just as much as her slime ball husband. And to think she just thanked him publicly, in tears, saying no one had ever "had her back" the way he did. Ugh. What a jerk.

What is with these famous husbands?? Doesn't marriage mean ANYTHING anymore??

Ok, that's it, my two cents.

As you were.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I love, love love this blog, but love ain't enough.

I want to share a gem of a blog I found recently, written by a trans racial adoptee named Kevin Hofmann called My Mind on Paper. It's not a view point that I come across very often: the male blogger, the trans racial adoptee, the talented writer, the adult adoptee who can express himself eloquently about all sorts of sensitive topics related to adoption. To find all the above in one person is quite a score! An he blogs! Double score. He takes on some serious topics with skill and talent, and is writing a book about being raised black in a white family. He is not the "angry adoptee" although he does not shrink from the issues either. I think this makes him so accessible to adoptive parents who might be offended or frightened of the "angry adoptee" stance which can come across as.... well... pissed off. (My take on the angry adoptee is that many should really be called the hurt adoptee, or the adoptee who's rights have been taken away.... rather than just labeling them "angry. But that is a whole other post for another day.)

Here is part of an article written by Kevin Hofmann. Check out his blog, parts are heart breakingly sad while others are so hopeful and uplifting. Here's a post entitled "Love Aint Enough". The title says it all, and is a striking rebuttal to the insistence that some families have that "as long as I love her, she'll be fine."


As she prepares her son for school, the mother peeps out the front window and watches the pregnant storm clouds flow across the dark sky. She checks the local weather report and her favorite weatherman says there is a 95% chance of a severe thunderstorm for the viewing area. He also states there is an 80% chance the rain will turn to hail.

The mother hugs her son as he walks out the door to begin his quarter mile trip to the bus stop. Her son seems out of place as he joins his friends who accompany him every morning to the bus stop. They all have on rain coats, hats, and are carrying umbrellas.

The mother decided not to prepare her son for the weather. Instead, she believes if I don’t fed in to the thought of bad weather it won’t happen.


I have written this blog several hundreds of times in my mind. I have wrestled with writing it or ignoring it and I have finally decided to address it.

My fear has been if I address this many will get frustrated and not return to my blog .

So up to this point I have been able to skate around it with the collateral damage being minor; minor for me.

Today, I received an email from a transracial adoptive mother asking me to write more specifically about what is necessary for white parents in raising black children.

I get this question a lot and have been answering it in the most politically correct way I know how. But my real answer is much more one sided. The short answer is, “love is not enough.”

I have found there are two schools of thought with transracial adoptive parents. One school says, “Color doesn’t matter, as long as we give them a loving place to live they will be ok.”

The other school says, “In today’s world, love isn’t enough. We must prepare them for the world we live in.”

I strongly side with the second group. It is important that children of color be prepared for the world they will live in and although love is important, it is not enough.

Often, I get the argument that racism still exists today because we allow it to. If you teach your children about racism and that they may be treated differently because they are of-color this is feeding in to racism and will only cause racism to grow.

This is like the mother who sent her child in to a hail storm with no protection because admitting there is a possibility that there will be a hail storm only causes the hail storm to be bigger.

Whether we want to admit it or not, racism exists and it is important you prepare your children for it. Ignoring racism in your household only makes it disappear in your household.

Once they step out in to the world, it is there whether it is in your face or behind your back.

So how do you prepare them?

Talk about the possibility of them being treated differently simply because they are black or of-color.

When do you talk to them about it?

Studies have shown children notice racial differences by ages three or four and have some type of racial encounter by age seven.

You can be the one who introduces this to them or you can let the world do it. You have more control over what gets heard and how it is presented if you do it.

A few weeks ago, I spoke to another transracial adoptee and she told me about her experience growing up. She lived in a rural area where she was one of the only blacks. They never talked about racism or being different in her house but when she went to school she was treated and felt different everyday.

One day she came home and poured several gallons of bleach into a bath tub and got in it. She said she was trying to bleach her skin so she could be more like everyone else around her.

Her parents were shocked when they found out what she did because she never said anything about how she was being treated or how she felt.

The collateral damage to me means nothing if I can prevent such a horrible experience from happening.


After school the little boy returned home, soaking wet with bruises on his arms and head. Just as the weather man said it poured with golf ball-sized hail. The boy was angry at his mom for not preparing him for what could have happened, but he held no harsh feelings against the hail and rain that inflicted the damage.


Go check out this one too, called "The Rules". I felt like crying for the little boy Kevin was. I hope Charlie will never experience anything like that, but the truth is, she probably will. It's my job to make sure she is ready for it.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I'm back at home and all is well in the world again.

Charlie gave me a enthusiastic greeting with lots of hugs and kisses, so I was happy with that :-)

I was wondering during the trip what would be signs of healthy attachment and what would be signs of not being attached....

If Charlie cried a lot while I was gone, is that a good sign or a bad sign? If she doesn't cry at all, does that mean she's not attached properly?

What ended up happening was she would cry for a little while after seeing me on Skype, but was easily distracted. She asked for me a few times, but didn't dissolve into paroxysms of grief.

My un-professional opinion is that is pretty healthy.

I think the week long experiment went well and I'll be confident to leave her in the future when I need to do work related trips. Luckily that is only once a year.

Do you leave your kids? For how long and how do they do with that?

Here is an ADORABLE adoption video.... for those who claim "adoption is unnatural". It may be "unnatural", but all kinds of species do it, so that kind of argues that it IS natural.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Just a quick update since I need to run to class.

Charleston is a cute little city and our hotel is in the middle of hundreds of restaurants. I feel like all we've been doing (other than training) is eating. Everything is walking distance and we are smack in the middle of everything we need. The hotel is very nice, and the bed is unbelievable. I could stay in that bed for days.

I do miss Charlie, but not as much as some parents miss their kids. Not yet anyway (Day 3). I do find myself thinking about her at random times throughout the day, and last night at dinner I reviewed our phone call and her cute voice and got some pangs.

Apparently, she is not missing me too much either. Other than a couple of minutes of crying after we Skyped, she seems to be having a blast with her grandparents. We'll see as the week progresses. She did ask to call me last night. I don't want her to be sad, but I also really want to know she is attached and that I'm not just a "bottle machine" or diaper changer to her!

On another topic, I'm fascinate by this woman in my class who I think has either had plastic surgery or botox. She looks good, but slightly fake. I'm staring at my wrinkles in the hotel mirror here, with my 40th birthday fast approaching, and noticing all kinds of wrinkles that were not there last year. Losing weight is great, but it has ONE down side: wrinkles.

So this woman's skin looks translucent and completely wrinkle free. I checked her earlobes and there connect directly to her face. That means plastic surgery, right? I'm not sure she's had any, but I'm PRETTY sure. There's just something about her not quite right. Her skin is shiny.... it looks good though in a way.

I'm not sure I would ever get plastic surgery on my face... there's nothing worse than that pulled look that so many celebrities have (Burt Reynolds, Joan Rivers, to name two). But Botox? Hmmm... Would you ever get Botox? They are not sure what the long term effects are, I don't think. It's BOTULISM that is being INJECTED into YOUR FACE. How can that be safe??? On the other hand, so many people are doing it... I never thought I'd be so vain as to do something dangerous to look better. But then, I never had wrinkles before either.

Would you ever Botox your face? Why or why not?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Our First Time Apart

I'm leaving this morning for a conference in Charleston with my favorite colleague so that should be loads of fun. During the day we will be in training for 8 hours, so that might not be a party, BUT, we are free at 5 PM to do whatever we want at night! And we get paid a certain amount for food and incidentals! Yay! Bubba Gump's Shrimp Company here we come!

This will be the first time since Charlie and I met that we will be apart. That first day, June 20, 9 months ago.... we have not been apart for a single night since then. I have left her all day at day care, and with family and babysitters for a few hours here and there. I wonder what it will feel like?

Will I miss her horribly or will I feel free and unencumbered?

And how will she feel? Her grandparents are on their way to babysit for a week. She loves them so much, I kind of doubt she will even notice I'm gone. When they are around, I'm definitely a "second class citizen" around here anyway ;-) I'm interested to see whether she will miss me or not. I kind of hope she doesn't, because I don't want this to be hard on her, but I kind of hope she does, because it would show attachment on her part. Also, who wants to be so replaceable?? Not me!

I'm bringing my computer so I can Skype if she wants to.

Thanks for watching her Opa and Babcia! Have fun!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Oh What A Letdown. And Up Swing.

Charlie bit again today. TWICE.

One time she did it at the end of the day, moments before I picked her up, so I saw the immediate after effects and what was/was not done.

The new teacher was not there and the secondary teacher was putting ice on the child who was bitten. Charlie was not in time out, just wandering around.

So I put her in time out, gave her a stern talking to, and made her apologize to the girl she bit. I was not impressed with the "immediate" punishment, as there was none when I was watching. Maybe they need two teachers there to accomplish that, as obviously the hurt child needs immediate attention.

But that put me in such a disappointed state of being. After a week and a half of no biting.... I hope this is not Charlie becoming more comfortable in her new class. I knew it was too good to be true... to go from biting 5-6 times a day to zero. The director said: "Oh well, you can expect some back sliding" as though it wasn't a huge deal. But I know my daughter. This is her being stubborn either when the disciplinarian is out of the room, or because no one was watching and she thought she could get away with it. I'm afraid she's back to biting and now she will get kicked out.

I'm sure most of you are thinking, well, good, she shouldn't be in a school with that racist teacher, but A) see last post about whether the teacher is a racist or ignorant and B) this is the most diverse school in my town. Every 3rd family walking down the hall is trans racial. Her class is a toddler-UN. And it's a mile from my house. And it's the most affordable (all the other day cares are at least $100 more per month). And they serve breakfast, lunch and snack and none of the other day cares serve any food, I'd have to buy it (more $) and pack it daily (more time). So I REALLY REALLY want C to stay in this school!!!

On a more positive note, tonight Charlie dropped her baba and milk spilled. As I was getting a rag to clean it up, she pulled the rag from my hands and RAN to the spill. SHE CLEANED IT UP HERSELF. An 18 month old. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT??? I NEVER TAUGHT HER THIS! WHAT A GOOD GIRL!! The PRIDE I felt watching her... took my breath away!!! OMG she is a roller coaster ride of emotions this little one.

In order to catch it on video, I had to spill more milk, so now she thinks it's a game.... yea, I'm not thrilled about that but who cares if she cleans it up herself?

So in one day the disappointment, fear, and powerlessness meets pride, joy and warmth. All from two little behaviors.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hair-Gate 2010

I’ve made a decision on “hair-gate ‘10”. I’m not going to say a word to the teacher or the director.

It probably won’t be a popular decision. It might look like I chickened out. In a way I did. In a way, I didn’t.

See, I’m not your average “non-confrontative” person. In fact, I’ve been known to perhaps, at times, get up in people’s faces and let them know exactly how I feel about things. I’ve lost friends because of this, because of not backing down, or feeling I was right and they were wrong. I’m no door mat. My first instinct is to fight for what is just, that is why I spent 4 years in grad school and my career being a social worker. But I’m not going to address the issue with her new teacher and here’s why:

This teacher has access and influence over my most precious *possession* (I don’t own her but can’t think of the correct term here). She can smush Charlie like a bug, on a daily basis, and leave no physical marks. She could belittle her, ignore her, pinch her, or worse, for 9 hours a day and I might never know. She has way too much power in this situation for me to rock the boat. Do I think she would do those things? Of course not! If I did, Charlie wouldn’t be enrolled in school there. But she COULD if she wanted. She has unlimited ACCESS. She could just play favorites and damage Charlie’s self-esteem or other little twisted mind games. She could do those things if she was mad at me or resentful.

I also don’t think that the teacher took her hair bands out for a malicious reason. Yes, she’s ignorant of African American culture. Yes, she’s ignorant of how long it takes to do Charlie’s hair and the pride I take and the love I put into it. But I do not think she was thinking anything like: ”Here’s a black child and I don’t like black people and so I’m going to take her elastics out.” She was most likely annoyed that some of them were breaking, maybe concerned over kids eating them, maybe in a crappy mood and short tempered. It’s passive racism, the same way CVS not having black skin toned band-aids is systemic racism. Still hurtful. Still no excuse for. But I don't think it came form a deliberate place to hurt us.

So, weighing the possible good that can come from this, versus the possible repercussions, I'm not going to address it. What I will do is, over the next few weeks and months, educate her on Charlie's hair process. I will mention plenty of times how long C sat for her hair last night, or ask her, "What do you think of C's awesome braids? I did them myself! See how much work went into each one?" and slowly teach her.

I’m going to buy the stronger elastics and see what happens.

If she does anything like this again, I will definitely go to the director.

And I will be watching VERY CLOSELY for ANY racist overtones coming from her.

I'm on guard.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Some Things Make Everything Alright Again

Tonight, as I lay Charlie down in her crib, and handed her a ba-ba, she said in her cute baby voice: "Tank chew, mama, nite nite" and the annoyances of the day melted away as I stood there with my ice cold heart melting rapidly.

" I love you, Sweetie, very much" I said.

"Lub chew, mama, nite nite."

"Night night baby girl."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Is this Hair Racism??

See post below for details in case you missed the originating post. Here are a couple of my responses to comments:

Kiki, I checked the handbook after you suggested it. It has stuff about keeping fingernails short, but nothing about hair or hair accessorizing.

In response to your lovely long comment (thank you you obviously thought a lot about it) I, too, would be thrilled if someone DID C's hair nicely. In this case though, I did her hair, and someone UNDID it. Without asking. I do think it's slightly racist, maybe not purposefully, but lordy if black kids have to go through this everywhere they go to school, it does seem mighty exclusionary. Also, everyone KNEW she was a white teacher and I never mentioned her color. They just knew a black teacher wouldn't dare undo C's hair which takes a lot of work to do.

But Kik, imagine if you spent an hour on Ola's hair, and did intricate braids, and then when you picked her up, they were all undone.... How would you feel? Then add in that the teacher's a different race, the majority race...

I did ask the director about the little rubber bands and she said they were fine.

Michelle, I did not talk to the teacher this morning because there were other people in the room and I didn't quite know how to approach it... I had imagined she would be alone like usual, not with some other parents in there. That threw me for a loop and I chickened out. Maybe tomorrow. I need to get my momma bear hackles up and protect my baby, or at least inquire politely about WHY she took them out.

I was thinking today, maybe she took them out and the teacher who sometimes does C's hair was going to put in the better kind of elastics that that don't break as easily, but ran out of time? That would have been fine with me. It just didn't feel like that was the case though....( because of the main teacher's attitude the day before about having to pick up pieces of elastic.)

So far, I have been lucky. Even though I live in "the South", I have not experienced any overt racism towards C. Not that I noticed anyway. I hate to think this was our first experience of it, because I was so proud of our little city. But I suppose *they* are everywhere, North, South, East and West. And *they* are ugly everywhere.

Camil2, I have given two of the African American teachers permission to do C's hair. They do a great job, but they only do her hair when I have left it in an Afro. They have never UNDONE something I did (even if I did a poor job). They just plain know better. This DID remind me of the teacher who cut off that girl's braid, although this is NOWHERE NEAR as bad as that. If she had done that, I would have been calling the news stations.

One of my regular readers, who was in ET with me picking up her son, wrote me an email (which I didn't ask permission to post) but basically the first sentence was that this teacher is racist and the reader obviously felt very strongly about it. That was her first reaction reading what happened.

Thanks for all the input. I'm glad I wasn't off base to be irked by this. For a second there, I second guessed myself and thought I was irritated by my work day (which I was) and that I was over blowing the hair thing. Your comments let me know I was on track to feel angry and offended. And I did originally write that she was a white teacher, and then decided I should erase that, as possibly offensive on my part, like I would be starting something by hinting at racism. But since all the commentators knew she was white anyway, I do think that proves if not racism, at the LEAST a cultural ignorance.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I'm in a BADDDDDD Mood.


Stay outta my way!

I'm cranky, angry. If I could, I would take the world by the scruff of it's neck and SHAKE IT. GRRRR!!!! I would lift my lips and show my sparkling canines and tell the world to eff off.

Which is better than being sad and depressed, but not much.

I don't like Charlie's new teacher. There I said it. Chances she will read this are about one in..... how many blogs are there? A zillion?

She is not warm like Whitney was. She is snotty and has no sense of humor. Although, it appears that C has stopped biting, so I should be grateful for that. And I am. i just wish she was fun and friendly.

When Charlie came home from vacation with beads, she complained to the director that the beads were a choking hazard. Whitney denied this and told me not to take them out until I was ready to take them out. The beads were small, and had large holes in them. Whitney said the state classes she took expressly said they were not chocking hazards and were part of the African American culture.

Ok, whatev. I took them out when they were ready to come out. Only then did the director tell me what the new teacher said about them. I didn't argue I just ok, we won't put beads in her hair again. I asked if the little rubber bands were ok, and the director said yes, "if the kids eat them they'll pass right through."

So yesterday I spent an hour braiding her hair. When I picked her up, her new teacher commented that the elastic bands break. "I found pieces of them all over the floor." She didn't say I shouldn't use them, but she had an annoyed attitude. I counted how many were off: 4. Four rubber bands the size of a dime. "All over the floor"??? Riiiight.

I guess she expected me to undo all the braids that night. Right away. Well, I didn't. I had a hundred other things to do than RE-DO my daughter's hair that I had already spent a lot of time on and gotten express permission from the director to use those rubber bands.

Today when I picked her up, ALL the rubber bands were off. About 20 of them. The teacher wasn't there, she was in someone else's classroom. Am I wrong to be pissed she took them out??? Without asking me??? All that work gone! I bet if she ever had to do braids on a 18 month old she wouldn't have DARED take them out knowing the torture work invigorating challenge that is braids.

So, if I'm not allowed to put in beads, and I'm not allowed to put in rubber bands, how exactly does she expect me to do Charlie's hair? An afro every day???

Doing her hair is part of our bonding time, it's time when I get to take care of her. I enjoy experimenting and learning new ways of doing her hair. I do not want to do an afro everyday.

An afro is for when we don't have time, when we're "uninspired", when we're "lazy", or just to give her hair a break and be totally natural. I like to make her look special and like I cared about her hair.

That's not really why I'm angry though. That's peanuts compared to what REALLY pissed me off. It's work stuff.

Ok, so to counter balance my negativity:
1) I'm grateful Charlie stopped biting in her new classroom.
2) I'm grateful I have a well paid job that is quite secure.

Sometimes I just need to vent and spewing this stuff out into the universe via Internet is strangely satisfying.

Thanks for listening.

Who do you hate today?


I keep expecting her to get down on one knee with her arms in the air and say: "SuperStah!"

This was on our vacation, in the "Kiddie Disco".

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pain in the Butt Tax Info for You

I spent most of this glorious weekend inside working on my taxes, which this year are HIDEOUSLY complicated.

I did get outside with Charlie and two dogs and we frolicked in the park for awhile so that was nice. Also tried out the new Thai restaurant A MILE AWAY, which is pretty good!

But back to taxes. maybe I'll save you some of my headache.

I got the taxes done, but not having a SS # for Charlie yet, I put her Permanent Resident # into tall those spaces and claimed her as a dependent, took the Adoption Credit, and took the Dependent Care deduction.

Got ALL my taxes back! Woo Hoo!


Within minutes it came back as rejected.


You need to go here: and fill out this form to get a temporary tax identification number, WHICH CAN TAKE 8 WEEKS to get. SO don't wait until you are doing your taxes to do this. WHY DOESN'T ANYBODY TELL YOU THIS STUFF AHEAD OF TIME?????

So now I have to figure out how to file an extension, when I already submitted the tax paperwork. Turbo Tax doesn't help much with these situations. It gets stuck in an endless loop. I'll probably just have to print it all out and snail mail it. Which is ok, just... I thought I was done :-(

I am in the process of getting her SS#, but the re-adoption took a lot longer than expected, and I'm still waiting on the state to send something or other before I can apply for her SS#. No way would all this get done before taxes are due.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Dr. Seuss's Birthday Celebration!

Charlie's daycare celebrates birthdays the same way I do: all week long!

This week was Dr. Seuss's birthday. What an fabulous children's author. I love all his work. My all time favorite is "Yertle the Turtle", mainly becasue I love his name. "Yertle". It just makes my tongue giddy.

Monday was "Crazy Hat" day.
Tuesday was "Crazy Shoes" day
Wednesday was "Crazy Hair" day
Today was "Pajama" Day.

Due to biting stress and stress from missing work due to snow again, I totally forgot about the first 3 days. To make up for it, yesterday I helped Charlie dress in all of the above: crazy hat, shoes and hair.

Here she is "dressing herself". She can put on shirts and pants on her own, and is working on shoes.

Here is her "crazy hair" which was just taking her braids out.

Here is her total outfit, with hat and sparkly ruby boots.

Here she is after sneaking into my drawers and stealing a Dali T-shirt and putting it on all by herself.

The most excellent news, that I'm scared to write about for fear of jinxing it, it that she has gone ALL WEEK without biting! She was switched into a slightly older class with slightly stricter teachers (I think) and it stopped. I am bringing her a Lifesaver everyday so she does get a reward, but no chart. The Director ended up nixing the chart, not because she thought it wouldn't work, but because she thought the teachers couldn't be consistent enough (with 12 kids to a class, I understand). Anyway, whatever works is FINE.

Another achievement? She COVERED HER COUGH today. I'm amazed at all these seemingly small things she picks up on. Wow. Blown away.

And here she is playing a game we call "Hoarders". Ahem.
(Yes, that's my bra on top. C STILL is enamored of breasts and everything to do with them. She calls them "bay-bees".)

Who is your favorite Seuss character? Or book?

Almost peed my pants laughing. (Almost, I said!)


Next on list to get: trampoline. Can you IMAGINE my three behemoths on one of these?

Hilarious :-)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother"

I finished "Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother" during my vacation and wanted to review it here. On Amazon, it has some quite polarized reviews. People seem to either love it or hate it. I loved it. Despite a few sentiments I COMPLETELY disagreed with. Some agencies are recommending it for pre-adoption study.

The opening premise:

"The process of adopting a child pushes your personal envelope as a woman, as a mother, and ultimately, as a human being. It takes more courage than you think you have, offers more self-knowledge than you think you want, and reassembles your characteristics into something familiar but changed. It took me a lot longer to become a mother than it did to adopt a baby."

That last sentence rings so true. All of it does really.

I went through this book highlighting passages that struck me as insightful, honest, or funny. Despite the seriousness of the topic, Wolff is able to handle some issues with humor. The second chapter is sub-titled "What If We Get A Dud?" and addresses the (I believe universal) fear that one won't like the looks/personality/spirit of the child referred to you. As she puts it: "Meeting your adoptive baby is like being set up on a blind date with someone who will consume your next eighteen years." Scary stuff. Terrifying.

Yet we do it. Some of us.

When I think about all the things that could have gone wrong, from the process and paperwork and country laws, to the child's health or personality... well, it's overwhelming. I must have been INSANE. What was I thinking??? That I could trust an agency to pick out a child across the world that would be a good fit for me and my family???? That's insane! They don't even pick according to temperament (like you might when adopting a pet)... it's just whoever is the right age and next in line. INSANE.

Then she writes a... strong?....horrible?.... honest? letter to her son's birth mother. It includes sentences like:"I know I should be really grateful to you, but I don't feel very grateful about having to beg a complete stranger for her baby when I really want my own." Woah. That I don't agree with. Adoption was my first choice though, I guess it wasn't her first choice and it shows throughout the book unfortunately. The letter continues: "If you don't feel qualified to be a parent yourself, how are you going to decide whether we are qualified? What kind of person would get herself knocked up by a guy who runs away when he hears the news? Haven't you heard of birth control? Of AIDS? Of abortion?... I don't want my kid to be someone's mistake." Yowzaa.... HARSH!

Some of her secret thoughts are more like wishes: "I..secretly wished to be treated with the kindness and special attention bestowed on many pregnant women."

I, too, wished for that. I remember being trounced by a particularly rule-abiding citizen on a online forum. I had written in a celebratory tone that I had used the "Expectant Mother" parking spot in a near empty parking lot in front of Babies 'R Us. She blasted me for that. I remember thinking: "She has no idea what this is like... because if she did, she would have a smidge of compassion and rejoice with me." That there are no physical signs that motherhood was around the corner. As Wolff puts it: "Motherhood was both imminent and elusive... It was very strange and disconcerting to be an instantaneous parent. I may have had a lot of emotional catching up to do, but I had no free time in which to do it." (And I'll add no free energy with which to do it, either.)

One sentence that struck me like a slap across the face was about how adoption "is no one's first choice". It was mine. I can see how if you are struggling with infertility, it might not be your first choice, but using words like "no one" 'never' "always" sets you up to be very wrong, and to offend people in the process. I get what she was saying, but it's not true. I know one adoptee at work, who is glad she was taken away fro her birth mother. it was an abusive situation. So she might also say that adoption was her first choice. There are too many different situations to make sweeping statements like that. but I'm not going to let one sentence put me off a whole book, so I kept reading and I'm glad I did.

The chapters are only a couple of pages and it's a quick read. Even so, there is plenty packed in there to keep you thinking, and learning. Each chapter had me gasping, thinking, laughing, or relating. I recommend the book.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Want to Save $4000.00 on Your Adoption???

I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile, but you know how it goes…. The power goes out for 4 days, you crash your car, the baby’s in the hospital, the beach is calling…life happens.

I wanted to alert everyone to a way to save $2000.00 on their adoption paperwork. No one told me about this, I discovered it myself. Read on, there's also a chance to save double that.

When you have picked up your child and you are back in the states, the time has come to “re-adopt” your child. Yes, she is already legally yours, but the adoption agencies recommend re-adopting her in your state in order to get a new birth certificate with her American name on it, and also allow her to get a Social Security number and then a US passport. If you don’t re-adopt, she will remain a “permanent resident” which is fine, but she’s not a US Citizen with all the rights that come along with that. So it’s worth the additional paperwork HEADACHE.


My agency wanted to charge me $2000.00 to “do the re-adoption paperwork”. I asked what was involved in that and received a LONG email back with all kinds of mentions of forms and this and that. The explanation was so convoluted it made it seem like it would just be SO MUCH EASIER to just write out a check for two thou and be done with it. My dad looked into it a bit and found out that for $200.00 I could do all the paperwork myself, submit it to the clerk of court in my county, and get a home study assigned to me. The clerk of court (who was also the adoptions judge in our case) files the paperwork, and puts out a COURT ORDER for the Division of Social Services to send a Social Worker to do a home study. Thus forcing DSS to send a Social Worker to do this home study job for $200 (as opposed to the $1500-$2000 the agency’s home studies cost!!!). The judge has ordered that it be done within 60 days and it was done on the 59th day. People don't want to mess around with a court order.

This post may be a little confusing, I apologize for that.... I was confused going through the process… Eventually, I found myself sitting with a DSS contracted social worker going over the same questions that the agency social worker had asked me a year ago for my pre-placement home study. Déjà vu, just lots cheaper. It kind of pissed me off, actually, that my agency would inflate the rates 100% for this service. Really. Jeez.

Also, apparently it only costs $200 for a home study. I didn’t know that before going through this. It possible that I might have been able to hire this same DSS social worker on a private basis to do my pre-placement study and saved ANOTHER $1500-$2000!

Another way I saved some cash was I asked the DSS social worker to do my POST-PLACEMENT 3 month report. Basically, she took a few paragraphs from the home study she was writing, slapped on a letter head, and called it a post placement report. For free. My agency wanted me to hire their social worker for another $1000 to do the 3 month post placement report. And the 6 month post placement.

So by discovering this DSS social worker, and doing the re-adoption myself, I have saved $2000.00 for the re-adoption paperwork, and $1000 for the 3 month post placement report and $1000 for the 6 month post placement report. $4000 bucks total.

Just thought I’d share :-) Hope some folks will find this helpful and frugal.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

What Do You Think of My Dating Profile?

I need some opinions. Please have your hubbys' and boyfriends' input, if possible. I REALLY dislike having to "sell myself", it's so awkward and I'm never sure how much is too much and how much is not enough. Here's what I have up at the dating site I have picked. Please tell me if you think it's too something or other, too bragging, not strong in certain areas. Please be honest, I can take constructive criticism as long as it's in a spirit of being helpful.

It's quite long, but on the site it's divided into different sections, so a person would read the Profile Summary and then, if interested, click on other sections to read more.

a reformed adventurer and good with chopsticks.

Profile Summary:

Anyone want to take me out to dinner? I promise scintillating conversation and semi-decent manners. I can air drum with chopsticks something mean. :-) I could tell you all about traveling the world while I grew up: getting bitten by a tiger in India (ok, it was a cub, but still); spending prom night on top of the pyramids (ok, halfway up the pyramids we got busted by the police and had to bribe them); buying a monkey for a pet in the market in La Paz (my mom made me return it immediately); scuba diving off the Sinai... among other things. It was a different way to learn about the world and grow up. Somehow I ended up terrible in geography though.

I'm 38 now and have settled in the beautiful mountains of Western ******; ***** to be specific. One of the hippest places I've found on this earth. I started rescuing dogs after Hurricane Katrina and I do that as a hobby. Anyone who is seriously interested in spending time with me will have to have a high tolerance for furry wagging butts. Love me, love my dogs :-)

If you took me out to dinner, I would most likely do a lot of listening too. See, I'm a psychotherapist as my career, but I will try my best not to analyze you. Too much.

I'm very close with my family, but they live on the East Coast so I only get to see them a couple of times a year.

I open for friendship as well as dating. I'm not open for quick flings, that is just not who I am. As for who I'm looking for, you need to have some education under your belt (world or formal), some ambition, independence, compassion is a MUST, and have a full life! The bonuses would be a sense of humor, and a job. Hope to hear from you soon :-)

PS I love to read, so I need someone who can entertain themselves at times so I can indulge in one of my favorite things...

What I’m doing with my life

I recently became a mother through adoption. My daughter is wonderful. She is smart, beautiful, and into everything. She's from Ethiopia, so I now belong to a trans-racial family.

The first things people usually notice about me

My eyes probably.

My favorite books, movies, music, and food

Books: I read a lot of books. I love reading about people and situations I would never be able to experience. For example, lately I've read a book on the "loves and lives" of two conjoined female twins in the 1800's; the autobiography of a 70's tennis star who went through a sex change operation; a biography of Eric Rudolph; and a memoir by a serial killer's daughter.

So if you ever want a list of interesting ones, let me know.

Food: I like Ethnic foods the most. Thai, Indian, Ethiopian, Mongolian. Not so much Japanese or Chinese though.

Music: Everything from Abba to Zappa. I still have a lot of vinyl. Bowie is a fave. So is Parliment/Funkadelic.

Movies: I went to film school before reality hit. I LOVE movies. I spend 4 days each year at the ***** Film Festival in heaven. The Deer Hunter is an all time fave, but there are so many others....

The six things I could never do without

My dogs, my family, my super comfy bed, a library, netflix, daily massage. Oh wait. I don't have that last one at all. I guess I do without it, but I don't like it one bit.

I spend a lot of time thinking about

animals suffering. It drives me crazy.

On a typical Friday night I am

out with friends to dinner and movies, or hanging out at home. I don't do the bar thing.

The most private thing I’m willing to admit here

I sometimes get tired of taking care of the kid, the dogs, the clients, the house, the garden....

I'm looking for someone to ON OCCASION take care of me. But not all the time, I'm fiercely independent.

You should message me if

after reading my profile you think we'd have an interesting conversation over dinner, you love animals and want them to be part of your next relationship, you are a kind and compassionate person. You can make me laugh.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Nom nom nom....

As soon as I walked into Charlie's daycare room I knew something was wrong. The assistant director and her teacher were kneeling near her chair, into which she was strapped (like a high chair).

She had a bad biting day.

The Assistant Director looked so forlorn.

She almost had tears in her eyes.

She said: 'We all love Charlie so much.... "

I asked Charlie why she does this and of course she can't answer. She knew she was in trouble and we were all concerned. She started crying in such a pitiful way, the kind of crying that is real, that has hiccups and trembling bottom lips being sucked in and out. The Assistant Director looked at her, then at me, shook her head and looked so sad.

She reiterated that an action plan will be started tomorrow. I asked what that was, exactly, and she said she didn't know, and the Director would explain (the Director is away this week).

I brought some ideas from the comments, like moving Charlie to a room with older kids. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR HELPFUL COMMENTS. We are also going to try an hourly behavioral chart for a week and see if there is any point to it, or if she is too young. Because although she is 18 months, she is very precocious and I think an hourly reward MIGHT be enough for her to pay attention. The Assistant Director listened and will bring all the ideas to the Director tomorrow. Tonight I will make a chart and I'll bring stickers and LifeSavers tomorrow as rewards.

The Assistant Director said she didn't know what was in an Action Plan because the school had never had to use one before. I replied: "Wow, Charlie is the WORST kid in the ENTIRE SCHOOL???"

And she said: "Isn't it funny, she's the one we love the most... I'm not suppose to have favorites, but she is definitely my favorite. She's Whitney and Gabby's (her teachers) favorite too."

I said:" Hmm... I guess some folks burn brightly at both ends, like an absent-minded genius or a depressed artist... Charlie is the most lovable biter."

They freed her from the chair, which is being used to hold her when they can't hold her hand or watch her closely. She ran into my arms and sobbed into my neck like her little heart was breaking.

My poor girl. She just doesn't understand what's she's doing wrong.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Biting. Again. And Again.

Charlie continues to bite at daycare.

They have started implementing an “action plan” which consists of writing her up whenever she does it “due to the length of time this behavior has been going on” and having me sign the paper when I pick her up. I fear this is the first step to kicking her out of school.

Other parts of the action plan include having her wear a teething ring on her wrist, having her wear a pacifier on her shirt and giving that to her when she bites (I doubt that will work… she has never had a pacifier and didn’t like it when I tried to switch her to one at 9 months).

The school is kind to me and explains in an understanding tone, but my anxiety shoots up anyway.

If I had to take her out of this school, I’d just have to put her in another… nothing much would change as far as her biting goes until she just grows out of it. So changing schools seems pointless for Charlie. I get the school’s point…. They can’t have kids being bitten frequently.

I don’t know what else to try. I have tried:

- giving her a daily morning reminder not to bite, and a daily verbal praise when I pick her up if she hasn’t bitten anyone all day

- sharply saying “no!’ when she bites me, and putting her in time out

- fake crying when she bites me to show her it hurts

- swatting her diapered bum once when she bit me so hard and it was an instinctive reaction to the pain. I also yelled out

- the school puts her in “cool down” (a version of time out) whenever she does it. They also tell her “no, that hurts” and make her hug the kid as an apology afterwards.

I have NOT tried:

- -biting her back. I hear mixed reviews of this. Some say it works instantly. Others say it’s hypocritical and abusive.

- - a behavioral chart. I wonder if she is too young to understand what that is…. Also, I’d have to get the school to do most of the rewards. She could get an M& M or sticker for every hour she doesn’t bite. It’s a lot of extra work for the staff and I wonder if they’d be willing to do it… Hmm… I think she just might "get it" if it was done on an hourly basis. A daily basis is too long for her age. I’m a total behaviorist as I know it works with the dogs and has worked in many ways with Charlie already… the chart would be a way to reward her when I’m not around. The punishment then becomes a lack of reward if she bites. No sticker.

The teachers say it happens at seemingly random times. Sometimes when she is wanting a toy. Sometimes when she is being affectionate. Sometimes there seems to be no precursor or reason.

Any advice moms? I’m at the end of my rope here. Between her illness and her biting, not a day goes by when I’m not tense and stressed out due to her. All the while, I’m falling deeply in love with her, which actually makes everything MORE important, urgent and all-consuming.

(Painting by Jon Baldwin)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Week In Pictures

Ready for beach action.

Being courted by her cousins.

Queen of Sheba, life is tough...

With her aunt and cousin.

Modeling the latest in beach wear, including her Opa's hat.

An exhausted baby is an... eventually quiet baby.

Getting her hair done in braids. I've been told by several African American women that putting braids in her hair is "ghetto" and I shouldn't do it. But considering we were on an island and 90% of the female population had braids... Notice my sucked in cheekbones. I'm almost Kate Moss, huh?

Total strangers actually gathered to watch Charlie dance and take pictures of her. I kid you not. I've never seen anything like it. One man even told me "She's a rock star in the making". A male teen said: "She's the cutest baby I've ever seen." I cannot begin to describe the commotion she caused everywhere we went. It got to be a bit uncomfortable towards the end of the week, when women jabbering in strange languages came over and stroked her skin without asking and like they'd never seen black skin before. One couple stared at her so intently it was like they were checking out a strange animal at the zoo. Even upon returning to the States, when I thought life would go back to "normal", a man let me get ahead in the customs line (he let me cut about 50 people in line), and people were STILL ohh'ing and ahh'ing. I hope now that we are home things will settle down again.

One of Charlie's beautiful cousins, Zoe.

She had much fun with her grandparents too.

My angel.