Monthly Archives: June 2009

Real Sisters

Yesterday Belle came home from camp and announced:

“Beth [her counselor] asked if me and sissy are real sisters. I said yes, because duh, what else would we be.”

I was at once annoyed with the counselor for asking something so personal, and proud of my girl’s answer, even if she didn’t really understand the meaning behind the question.

Later, after dinner, I brought it up with both girls and asked if anyone else had ever asked if they were real sisters, and what did they think that meant. Krystal supposed it meant that they weren’t step-sisters or friends, but she clearly didn’t really have any idea*. I prodded by asking what sorts of things did sisters do? What let you know that two people were sisters?

The list we came up with was that sisters have the same parents (check), love each other sometimes (check), drive each other crazy (check and check) and are a family (check-a-rooni).

Yep, my daughters are real sisters, all right.

* I also explained what people really meant when they asked the question.

Survival Parenting

I try to be a good parent. I think we all do. I want what’s best for my kids, and that means taking care of them physically – making sure they have clean clothes and healthy food, and emotionally – encouraging them to do their best and comforting them when things don’t quite go their way.

Then there are the times when it all goes out the window, and you go into survival parenting mode. When the only parenting goal you really have is to make sure your kids stay alive. That happens when Mom gets sick. This is when I wish there was someone else to lean on.

Since Saturday afternoon when I first started feeling symptoms, I’ve been really only able to take care of myself. I spent most of Sunday in bed. It was raining and there was nothing for the kids to do. They watched TV all day. They asked for popcorn while they watched a movie, and that was their lunch. For dinner I did manage to drag myself up to make some tortellini before crashing again. Anything they wanted for a snack I said yes to.

Krystal has assigned herself as my nurse. She has been urging me to call the doctor since Sunday (I finally did on Tuesday). She made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Belle and herself for Monday night’s dinner as I just couldn’t do it. Tuesday morning she got up and went downstairs before coming to see me and brought me a glass of cold water and the thermometer. She said, “Which medicine do you take? I only saw the Tylenol PM, I didn’t see Tylenol AM.” And I laughed and she didn’t know why.

Krystal also made lunches for she and Belle to take to camp on Tuesday. She said she liked playing mom, but she could see how much work it was.¬† I whimpered during the whole 10 minute drive to camp. Everything hurt and it wasn’t getting any better.

The doctor said it’s H1N1, as I’ve already relayed, and that I should expect to be out of commission for 7-10 days. Today is Day 5, and I’m happy to say that I’m seeing light. As I told the girls this morning, I feel better, but not better. Right now my goal is to make sure the kids don’t get it. The doctor suggested wiping down all doorknobs in the house, encouraging frequent hand washing, and keeping food preparation to a minimum. When I told the girls all this Krystal groaned, “I’m tired of playing the mom! It’s too much work!” Of course, Krystal is in survival parenting mode too, since that’s pretty much all an 8 year old has up her sleeve in that department.

I think I’ll take us all out to dinner when this thing finally blows over. We’ll all be ready for it by then.

Swine Flu

Swine flu – heard of it?

I have it.

I have a post in my head about it all, but my energy level is so low this is all I can manage. The doctor says 7-10 days before I feel human again.

Hopefully be back sooner rather than later.

Fatherless Children

In my home we are all fatherless children.

My own father died on June 13, 1997, the Friday before Father’s Day. Yes, on Friday the 13th. But honestly it felt more like Thursday because we’d been with him all day and it was around 1 am that he died. That Sunday, Father’s Day, was really tough. I remember watching the teenage girl next door being picked up for the day by her playboy father and wanting to send her a message to appreciate him while she can – you never know when he might be gone.

Krystal has a birth father, of course, but we do not know who he is. She considers my ex her father, but he is not. Not legally. Since he does not live nearby he is not part of our regular life, and his contact over the past year in particular has been spotty. When he does visit he’s fully “here”, but he doesn’t call for long stretches and just when I think maybe he’s fading away, the phone will ring. Or he’ll have a birthday (2 weeks ago) and I’ll give in and let Krystal call him, which is something I do not encourage.

Belle has an unknown birth father too, but also a foster father who raised her until I adopted her at just over 2 years old. We have pictures of him and she has some memory of him, most of which are probably kept alive because of those pictures. I also have email contact with her foster family, which has petered out quite a bit after a flurry in the beginning, and some weirdness in the middle. The nugget that is relevant here is that about two years ago I got an email from the adult daughter that the father had cancer, and this past February she sent an email that he had died in January. I have not told Belle this.

At school this time of year there is always a Father’s Day project for the kids to work on. Belle’s school is very familar with our family make-up, and last year the Father’s Day gift she made was for me. She has also made things for Krystal whenever they make parent gifts – one for me, and one for her, when other kids are making one for each parent. Yesterday she came home with a wrapped gift, and since it is wrapped in tissue paper I can see through it. It is a bookmark (she told me that) with “#1 Dad” on it. I asked her who she wanted to give it to. I fully expected her to say my ex – he is visiting this weekend and Belle calls him “Daddy”, which I think she thinks is his name, even though she understands that he is not her dad. But she said she wanted to give it to Baba, and would I put it in a package and send it to China?

I said I would.

What I think I will really do is put it away.

What I don’t know what, or when, to do is tell her that Baba has died. Is this something I should have done when I learned of it? Or given the unlikelihood of seeing her foster family again is it better for her to maintain happy memories? Although I can’t imagine keeping this from her until she’s an adult, and what will happen when she finds out I’ve known for so long? I think I have my answer – I need to tell her soon.

And what I feel a teensy bit jealous about is that even though I am doing the job of mom and dad in raising my kids, someone else is getting the attention on Father’s Day. Despite the fact we are all fatherless children.

** Cue the harps and violins¬† – I know I am whining about nothing! Really! But I’m thinking about it so here it is.

Buy American?

Do you “Buy American”? If so, why, and if not, why not?

For my part, during most of my consumer life I’ve tended to focus on what’s cheapest, and as I’ve gotten older I skew towards the best value (which doesn’t always equal the lowest price). This certainly means that a lot of my money has gone to purchase goods that were made outside of the USA, and which were sold by the “big box” stores, or online. Volume buying means volume pricing equals lower prices for me, and I’m in favor of keeping as much money in my pocket as possible.

That said, I’ve also started to think about buying local. I have a visceral, negative reaction to the term “buy American” because to me it sounds jingoistic. But buying local feels more personal, less political. It’s about reducing your own personal footprint – when you buy goods made close to where you live you reduce the costs to bring it to you, which can be considerable. It’s also about supporting the businesses of your neighbor, which feels like the right thing to do. This time of year, with plentiful fruits and vegetables in season, this is easier to do with food. For consumer goods I still prefer to spend as little as possible, but I am willing to spend a little more to buy from a locally owned store versus a national chain. Sometimes.

I will admit that I like walking into a store and being free to browse without someone asking me immediately whether I need help. Smaller stores tend to have someone ready, willing and able to help you right away. This can be good if you’re looking for something specific, or have a lot of questions. But when you just kind of want to look around, see what’s there, maybe compare prices, read labels and mull over your decision, having a sales person hovering makes me want to flee without spending a dime. Ideally of course they would be able to read my mind when I walk in and stay in the shadows until I’ve narrowed my choice and need to ask a question before making my final decision. Alas, they’ve yet to implant those mind reading chips in store owners and their employees.

Suffice to say, I’m more aware. Awareness is the first step in action. I won’t promise to buy local all the time, but I will include it in my considerations.

Kick Start

I’ve been very neglectful of this blog of late, and it’s because I can’t quite think of things to write about. So, in order to try kick starting the creative juices, I am giving the Thursday Thunks meme a try today.

1. What is your least favorite candy bar? Hmm, it’s hard for me to think of a candy bar I don’t like. Anything malted. Do they make malted candy bars? Well, if they do, that’s my least favorite.
2. If I were to call you, what would you say? Hello? Really, that’s pretty much how I answer every call.
3. What is your favorite type of leaf? Leaf? Favorite leaf? I don’t know, birch came to mind first, but I don’t know why. Maybe because it’s a little different?
4. When was the last time you….
– had sex? I decline to answer on the grounds that it will make me seem even more pathetic than you probably already think.
– swam in a lake? About 9 years ago – the guy I was dating at the time had a family place on a lake and we were there all the time. Pools and the ocean since then, though I’m more of a dipper than a swimmer. And a kid island.
– went barefoot outside? Last week. On the deck though, not on the grass.
– ate peas? Just plain peas? No idea. Sugar snap peas I eat all the time. As in yesterday even.
5. Since Father’s Day is right around the corner, tell us about the person that you are celebrating. My own father passed away almost exactly 12 years ago. We may do something symbolic for my girls’ birth fathers, who are unknown to us.
6. Were you dropped on your head as a child? Not that I know of! But I did get locked in an abandoned refrigerator in our basement. That probably explains a lot.
7. How often do you clean your toilet? Yikes. Whenever it seems like it needs it? Which probably works out to every couple of weeks.
8. Have you ever been sunburned? Tell us about it. I have, and it’s not fun. When I was a kid there was no such thing as sunscreen, or at least no one used it. We were all trying to get color. I would actually try to get a mild burn, because I knew it would fade to a tan. Oh, the damage.
9. On average, how many hours a sleep do you get a night? Usually around 7-8. Which doesn’t sound bad, does it? Thing is, I’m one of those people who truly need more like 9-10. And my 7-8 hours are never uninterrupted. These days it’s the dog around midnight and again around 4 am, but it could be a kid (Belle usually) as well. Oh well, we all take what we can get, don’t we. I could get more sleep if I were willing to give up some (awake) alone time. But I’m not.
10 How many hours did you get last night? Last night it was only about 6. Stayed up way too late.
11. Take a picture of something. Post it. This is a dozen eggs my friend gave me. Her own chickens laid them. They are all a different shade of white, cream, tan, ecru, you-name-it, and all a little different size. We had them for dinner tonight. Fresh eggs are yummy!

12. Are the bottom of your feet dirty? Ewww! No!
13. Do you know the names of every member of the family who lives next door to you? Nope. Isn’t that awful? But I do know the names of everyone in the two houses directly across the street. Do I at least get some points for that?

If you read this far, please let me know! Thank for stopping by!

Mocking Me…

I feel like my blog is mocking me.

It’s saying, “Ha ha, here I am and you have nothing to say and you can’t do anything about it!”


I have a lot to say.

I have nothing to say.

I’m not sure which of those is true….can it be both?

Yesterday we celebrated 3 years as a family of three – it was the third anniversary of meeting Belle in China. Krystal made her a very cute card, saying she was glad she was a member of our family, which is contrary to what she so often actually says out loud. Belle, for her part, was as excited as if it were her birthday all day.

I just cancelled the latest appointment with our counselor that I have decided I not only have no connection to, but I’m not sure I even like. I don’t think she’s doing anything special, certainly nothing different, or more, or better than I’ve read in every parenting book or article I’ve ever picked up. Not worth our time. I may try to find someone else. I may not.

Today after school Krystal went to a friend’s house for the afternoon and had dinner there. She came home complaining that she is embarrassed that she likes the TV shows “Arthur” and “Cyberchase” while her friends all watch “iCarly” and “Hannah Montana”, which I don’t allow. My rule is, the characters in the show have to be my kids’ age or younger (with some exceptions). I suggested she tell her friends her mom won’t let her watch them, and she said they then exclaim what a mean mom she has. Oh well.

We saw the new Disney/Pixar movie “Up” last weekend. I have to put it in my own personal Top 5 movies of all time. It was that good. See it. I don’t care if you have kids, or don’t have kids, or your kids are grown. It is a must-see.

And that concludes my randomness for now. My blog may go back to mocking me now. Unless I come back soon with more. We shall see!