SARcasm











{April 15, 2016}   Explaining Family

(shared with permission of my brilliant little big kid)

So our oldest has been asking questions lately about our family tree … which between marriage, divorce, remarriage and adoption has come to resemble more an orchard than a tree.

In just the last 48 hours, he has inquired about his birth mother – where she is now, and how he would like to meet her – and asking some insightful questions about why my parents – who I think created the model for ‘Conscious Uncoupling’ seventeen years ago, well before it was cool – “changed who they were married to”.

When I explained that sometimes people can stop being in love the way married people are, while still loving each other very much, he observed “Oh, but that’s sad!”

“But do Nana and Grandpa seem unhappy?” I asked him, “Or Poppa and Grandma, for that matter?”

After thinking about this for a minute or two, his great big smile – as only L can do it – lights up his whole face. “No-o-o …” he replies thoughtfully.

“Sometimes something can seem sad, but be the best thing, and make everyone happier.” I pointed out to him before tucking him in for the night.

He’s also aware that sometimes sadness doesn’t always have happy endings, and that not everyone has the family he does, and that sometimes this can be a sad word, a troubling word. Over this school year, he has become aware of and discussed with us friends who only have one parent, or with a parent who’s ailing … trying to find ways to be supportive, in his own 7-year-old way, to people going through things he can’t even entirely understand.

These little flashes of dialogue – not even entire conversations – last two, maybe three minutes? And it’s sometimes awkward, and hard to know in the moment exactly how to unpack some complicated stuff that not even grownups entirely understand sometimes. But I think these are some of the most important moments in my life with my kids. I think the curiosity is great, and I love that he – and his brother in time – are and will be comfortable to come to us with these questions.

It’s hard in the thick of parenting to know if the millions of lessons and values and moments you try to share with your kids are sticking, and it can be easy to see the missed opportunities, the stuff that didn’t land or get through. But if nothing else, I know this much – my kids will grow up knowing just what a rich, valuable, and diverse thing “family” is, and that it can mean something different to so many people. And knowing that while THEIR family might not all neatly “fit together” in the ways people expect, and we might not all look alike, we are nonetheless as “real” a family as anyone, and that we are lucky to have each other, even as we acknowledge that sadness and loss (because remember, the flip-side of remarriage is divorce, and the flip-side of adoption is a loss and separation as well) that goes into the mix.



{November 24, 2015}   These Are My Children

I am in the process of reading “Between the World and Me”, by Ta-Nehisi Coates and guys – I am struggling really hard. Which I think is the point.

I have always tried to be a good ally to any marginalized community, largely because I’ve been raised to be compassionate, my faith teaches me compassion and hey! It’s just the right thing to do with privilege, is to use it to make sure it gets spread around. Hey, I’ve even gotten the memo that a part of good ally-ship is realizing that it is, by definition, imperfect, and not to assume I have all the answers up here in my (very) ivory tower.

Intellectually, I have understood for a long time that as a society we see coloured lives as cheaper than white lives, and nothing has brought this more firmly home to me than the realization that I am raising young black men – and that I sit there watching them sleep as we see the murderers of Trayvon Martin … Michael Brown … Eric Garner … dear God, Tamir Rice and intellectually I understand “These could be my kids”. Ari and I have had the conversation and have known – if perhaps not understood – that they are going to face some realities that we never have. They will – simply by the fact of being born the colour they are – have racial slurs thrown at them someday. It is not an ‘if’, it is a ‘when’.

And, if they’re lucky – that’s the worst they’ll experience. That doesn’t speak to the police who I had always been taught were there to protect me, but will probably look at my sons with more suspicion than their white brethren in just a decade’s time. That doesn’t speak to the unspoken slights … the dates or jobs or friends they might not get, of course for other reasons on paper but ostensibly for being ‘other’. And the choice between “play nice and be twice as good, or risk violence at the hands of … peers … police … reactionary racists …” – well, I mean …

How do we have that conversation with them? Honestly, in some ways, how dare we presume to have that conversation with them as comfortable, middle class white people who, quite honestly, have been incredibly blessed and privileged – right down to the ability to, quite frankly, adopt our two beautiful boys – by the system that puts them at risk?

This isn’t a new worry or a new conversation – but, only halfway into Coates’ book, I think a new level of personal-ness has crept into this for me. It’s not statistics – X number of young black men shot by police, X number of young black kids being funnelled out of schools and into jails – it’s real people, living their lives scared, every day. Coates’ son is lucky in one sense, to have a dad whose lived those experiences and can talk to him about them honestly, with wisdom and clear eyes. He can look out for his son – in conversation, in example, in brutal awareness of his experiences of the same world.

But how can we truthfully do that when the “world’s” rules – go to school, behave yourself, learn, do well, get a job, get married, buy a house, blah blah blah – seem to have done pretty well by us? But on the other hand … not to  do so could ultimately put our sons’ very lives at risk. We’re not talking hurt feelings and bullying here – rites of passage that everyone seems to experience. We are talking membership in a clan, a tribe, that Ari and I can work our butts off to understand but never be a part of, and as such, never adequately prepare them for.

At the end of the day, I guess, like any parent, I guess for now, we hope our best is good enough. We continue to educate ourselves – honestly, sometimes painfully, even when we don’t want to hear it or think about it.

We continue to challenge racism – whether it is the blatant beating (endorsed by the Republican presidential front-runner, by the way) of a Black Lives Matter protester at a political rally this weekend, or even as seemingly minor as casual, good-natured “jokes” from dear friends and family. We make sure the kids grow up in diverse neighbourhoods, go to diverse schools, are surrounded by a world where they fit in … make sure to introduce them to black culture without appropriating it or tokenizing it … making ourselves available for conversations when they have their first experiences of bigotry, and acknowledging when we aren’t enough, and seeking wise counsel and help. Being aware that, as nice as #AllLivesMatter sounds, it is “White Power” wrapped up with a nice little bow, because if all lives truly DID matter, #BlackLivesMatter wouldn’t need to be justified as a statement or a movement.

It takes a village, and – only halfway through this book, I’m so thankful for mine, and hope to continue expanding it. Let’s all be aware of this – be aware that it isn’t a theory, but a very real, corporeal, literally painful reality – and one we can only hope to navigate … as parents, as a family, and a society … as best we can. I am afraid, but I also agree with President Obama, who said “There’s never bee anything false about hope”. So let’s be that hope, let’s always be willing to call out hate, let’s be open to being called out ourselves, and hopefully we can at least make our little corner of this messy world of ours a bit more loving, a bit more open, a bit more diverse … and a whole lot richer for it. Nothing but love.

 



Since the events surrounding the shooting of unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, MO (details on the incident can be found here and here), I have wanted to write a piece about the realities of raising young black men in today’s world – the world where Brown’s death, and the death of Trayvon Martin remind us that racism still exists, that it is still far more dangerous to be black today than white. But for a number of reasons, I haven’t really felt able to. For one, I have just felt too strongly about it to really be able to string my thoughts together into some narrative whole – it’s been easier to share others’ perceptions that I have found right on.

But perhaps on a deeper level, ultimately, what it has come down to thus far has been this: while our (adopted) boys are mixed-race (born to a white mother and a mixed-race father, is our best understanding), my husband and I are white, and can’t even begin to comprehend the realities they might have to face. While we can make vague claims to having been bullied or mistreated in our youth, in light of recent events in particular this feels woefully inadequate – the reality is, neither of us have ever had racial epithets flung at us. We will never know what it is like for people to assume we must be up to no good, simply because we are (a) young and (b) … well, Not White. Sure, as a woman, some of the bullying I’ve experienced has taken on a sexist/sexual connotation at times, and Ari has had some systemic issues and assumptions to deal with in terms of being Jewish, but let’s be honest – this is a whole different ball game.

That said, today my friend Anne Theriault (who is a phenomenal feminist blogger who writes over at http://www.bellejar.ca) had this piece, on teaching young children about racism, published at the Washington Post today, and in the ensuing discussion she mentioned that she would be interested in my husband’s and/or my perspective on raising children of colour. And while I can’t say I have any more of a cohesive perspective or message than I did beforehand, I thought I would accept her invitation as a challenge, and at least put to proverbial paper the (admittedly jumbled) thoughts in my head on this issue. This isn’t going to be the most eloquent piece I’ve ever written, but roughly:

  • First, I want to second just about everything Anne says in her piece. We are blessed to live in a neighbourhood that isn’t colour-blind, but diverse, and where our boys are ‘different just like everyone else’. Being “brown” can mean you are native, Arab, mixed-race, Indian, or any other number of things – there are a variety of cultures, religions, languages, and just about everything else in the rainbow that is their school, and just that exposure, in their lives, in the media they absorb, in the world they inhabit, is an important step to teaching the ways in which we are all both the same and different, and wonderfully so. In terms of the ramifications of these things – both privilege and marginalization – frank, age appropriate discussions of the ways in which they, we, and others are sometimes lucky, unlucky, and the struggles people can face for being different, can happen as needed and appropriate.
  • Recognizing my own privilege without becoming overly cynical or jaded. I grew up privileged to be able to trust the police. I was always taught that if I was in trouble or lost or scared or needed help, that the police were helpers and I could turn to them. And don’t get me wrong – I know there are good cops out there and it is a difficult and important job, and there are few people I respect more than a good cop who takes their job seriously and does it well. I want my children to be able to believe in those police officers, and trust in them to serve and protect. But the reality is also plain – perhaps plainer now than it has been in years – that this isn’t always the case, and especially for young men of colour. The reality is, someday our cute little brown boys will become brown teenage boys (although this unbiased mother assumes they will still be adorable), and this in itself can create distrust, fear, and yes, let’s call it what it is, hate. Racism. It might not even be conscious, but it’s there. So who do I teach them to trust, to look to for help? At the same time – I don’t want to raise them to inherently DIS-trust police either, or to be belligerent should a situation arise where a police officer might legitimately just be doing their job. But then, just being able to say that feels like it smacks of naivete, and brings home more than ever how I have never and will never live the experiences my sons might.
  • I take some comfort that we live in one of the most diverse areas of one of the most diverse cities in Canada, whose racism at least feels less dangerous, less charged, somehow than that which exists in the United States. But again … I don’t want to be naive about just how far that gets us. Even in Canada, black males are still disproportionately stopped by police in comparison to other members of the population. And even outside of the realities of law enforcement, boneheads exist here too. FACT: someday, somewhere, our boys will experience being called the N-word. Neither Ari nor I ever have, and there in some ways is nothing we can do to prepare them for that day other than breeding a strong sense of self in them, and keeping the lines of communication open – that we are there for them, and that we recognize we will never fully understand their experience, but we will ALWAYS fully try, and we will always support them.
  • And I guess that last is the ultimate thing I would add to Anne’s list. Expose the boys to multicultural and multiracial media, for sure, and ensure that they have friends from all walks of life, not just racially but economically, religiously, ability-wise etc. – but recognizing in the case of our family in particular education won’t be a one-way street. There will be a point where THEY communicate to US their own experiences of race – their experiences of being black children, and eventually, black adolescents and black adults. And it is our job to listen, to understand, to believe and accept the experiences they share, and not allow our privilege – the privilege of our skin colour, of our age, or what have you – to colour our perceptions of their realities. And on that score – the willingness to have our privilege and assumptions challenged – I think we’re on the right track. At least if the gut punch that Ferguson was to me is any indication – both in terms of disappointment in an institution (law enforcement) I’d always been brought up to respect, and more especially in terms of bringing home very potently that it can be dangerous, even fatal, to be a black man not that much older than my very own babies
My boys, ages 4 and 5.

My boys, ages 4 and 5.



Hi everyone!

So my apologies for the absenteeism. While Christmukah was fantastic – always an amazing time with family and friends, so busy but so worthwhile – the start of 2014 has been … not all bad, necessarily, but eventful. We DID all get sick the first week of the year, which is never fun; Little Tyke missed two days of school due to a broken boiler and one due to this illness, I’ve had 2 job interviews and a few days of work, as well as a special project I’ve been working on with my online school, and Ari’s office is in the midst of a move. Not to mention getting sick immediately after (a) a trip that (b) entails Christmukah, gifts, a week away generally etc., you set yourself quite behind. It was the second week of January before new toys found homes, Christmas decorations came down, etc. This week we had a cleaner come into our house – such a relief! – and only this week or so has it felt like we’ve been back to any kind of routine. Needless to say, during a few weeks where it’s felt like the house, work etc. have been falling down around us, blogging has not been at all a priority, even for someone with as spotty posting as me to begin with.

That said – we’ve learned a lot the last few weeks about time management (yes, even thirty-somethings can learn! lol …), about teamwork, about how awesomely helpful our kids can be if we don’t just take it on ourselves to clean up after them … so I’m guessing now that we’ve sort of found our footing again, hopefully a bit of blog posting won’t be too hard to keep up. And there is LOTS to talk about, from the ridiculously cold weather (and my related jealousy of my mother, stepfather and grandma, who are down in Florida as we speak), to politics, to pop culture (Justin Bieber and Richard Sherman anyone?) … and of course our regular features like my reading list etc. So this is a post to say thank you for bearing with me – over the last year of inconsistent blogging, and the last 3 weeks or so in particular, I’m back and among my New Year’s resolutions (like going to the gym, starting weight watchers and finding a job lol), is to be a more regular presence here … because as anyone who sees me in passing on FB or has the chance to chat with me knows, I have a lot to say. I just need to make more of an effort to come by here and say it! 😀 I look forward to that conversation in 2014.

Blessings, and Happy New Year (either belatedly for 2014, or early if you observe Chinese New Year, as we have often done when years haven’t gotten off to the best start! lol …)

Cheers,

Sarah



{October 15, 2013}   Thanks-Giving

The bad news over the last 3 weeks is that I have been far too busy to blog. The good news is, a lot of what has kept me busy the last few weeks has been good stuff – family and friends, busy-ness professionally etc. But I have struggled to see that. The work I try to do on mindfulness and gratitude has been a bit of a failure. Instead of seeing ‘look, I worked every day last week, which means professional contacts, professional fulfillment and yes, money,’ for example, I saw ‘OMG when am I ever going to get my marking done and clean my house?’. And then, along comes Thanksgiving weekend. And there is nothing like fun and uninterrupted time with one’s family on beautiful fall days to remind you that even – and perhaps especially – in the midst of the crazy, there are so many blessings to be found.

So – at the risk of sounding like one of those obnoxious folks bragging about how wonderful their life is in the midst of others who might be struggling – I would like to take the time to practice some thankfulness and awareness that there are two sides to everything … and that perhaps Thanksgiving (even a bit belatedly) is a good time to look at the brighter one. So – despite my grumbling at times the last few weeks – I am thankful for …

  • Babysitters! And family who enjoy sharing in the freedom of sitters!
  • My family and friends – never before in my life have I felt so surrounded by loving and supportive people, and been so aware of it. It brings me great joy.
  • Especially my little foursome here – we’ve all of us had some cranky, tired, and some ‘just get us through the day’ moments over the last three busy, sick, tired weeks, (illness, new teachers, changing schedules with me working etc.) but I also realize a lot of it is a sign of new growth, new learning, new phases, and we have all been growing TOGETHER as a team … and that’s a cool feeling. And I am thankful that we are a family of strong people with minds of our own, even our littlest ones.
  • Fulfilling work! I am so happy being reminded each and every week why I do what I do at my church, how helpful eLearning is to my students, and even the supply teaching river has been flowing a bit more fully this year (a HUGE part of the busy-ness). It’s been busy, but it has been fun, challenging, aggravating, wonderful, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
  • Health. Between all of us, we have spent two of the last three weeks ill, and it is absolutely amazing to have finally shaken off the bug and to have a home full of healthy people again.
  • The lessons of patience. There is a particular, and very important, phonecall I have been expecting for a week now, and am still waiting. And while I perhaps dislike the suspense, I realize time passing might be a good thing, to teach me patience and to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone.
  • Special occasions. Thanksgiving is such a wonderful and inspiring holiday, and with Halloween and two of my three boys’ birthdays coming up, and the Holidays not far behind, here begins a few of the happiest months of my year … cheer in the cold of fall and winter.

Whether you are in a time of peace and comfort, or struggling at this moment – or perhaps, as so often in life, a blessed and difficult mix of both – what are YOU thankful for?



{July 15, 2013}   Baby Veronica

As an adoptive parent, I’ve been following the Baby Veronica story for some time now. To save this blog post from getting horribly long, and to avoid the risk of leaving out important or pertinent facts, some thought-provoking insight, and a pretty thorough view of the landscape, can be found by checking out both of the following sites (NOTE: they represent two opposing sides, so please read both for at least something of a balanced view):

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/baby-veronicas-birth-mother-girl-belongs-with-adoptive-parents/2013/07/12/40d38a12-e995-11e2-a301-ea5a8116d211_story.html

http://nicwa.org/babyveronica/

Now I want to clarify I am not on ‘a side’ here. While as an adoptive parent one might expect a natural inclination to side with them, I am sensitive to the touchy issue of removing native children from their homes and cultures, and I do understand the adoption was not finalized at the time Veronica’s biological father asserted his parental rights. At the same time, I recognize at first he had no intention of parenting the baby, and she was raised and settled for two years in what seems to be a happy home with a healthy ‘open adoption’ setup which was disrupted by the father’s reemergence. I can’t help but wonder about ulterior motives – punishing the biological mother with whom he had an acrimonious relationship? a politically motivated move? – while at the same time recognizing this is a sensitive topic and the case of a native child being raised in a native environment always needs to be given some due consideration. Mudslinging aside from both parties – from accusations of not allowing contact to the seeming treatment of ‘child as commodity’, I tend, at the end of the day, to consider this simply a messy and unfortunate situation that is difficult and tragic for all involved.

That said, while reading this article on the topic today, I came across a comment that I found so very offensive as an adoptive parent. And I considered ignoring it as the ignorant ravings of someone who simply had no idea what she was talking about, but have since decided, given how many misunderstandings there are out there about adoption, adoptive parents, biological parents, rights, relationships etc., that it merits response lest anyone else harbour any such attitudes (the kind of attitudes that to this day lead to references to our kids’ ‘real mother’, or whether we will ever ‘have kids of our own’). Here is the comment:

“Her adoption wasnt finalised so they where not the adoptive parents, they have shown by their actions that they don’t give a f**k about her because they want ownership. They know she doesn’t remember them (fortunately their ambitions show many red flags) but that doesn’t matter adoption especially private needs to be banned. You have commodified babies into saleable items people wont adopt these children who need parents, ie these in foster care as that would mean them doing work to help the child. What these who want to adopt want is a healthy baby well sorry the infertile are not owed babies. Everyone has the right to try for a child its up to nature to decide if you can have one.”

Where do I even begin? I will ignore the first accusations – the ones directly aimed at these particular parents – as I’m not familiar enough with the case on a personal level to know whether those accusations are fair or not; they’ve been made on both sides, towards both the biological father’s tribe and the adoptive parents themselves. However … banning adoption? I agree private adoption can be problematic, and I don’t want to pretend that there is no comodification of babies, stigmatization of ‘birth mothers’, etc. I am admittedly on that score speaking from the position of privilege as someone who was blessed to be in a position financially, emotionally, mentally to adopt. And while I have made a promise on many levels not to share the details of our children’s first mother’s story, I can tell you without hesitation and ask for your trust that, while it was more than clear that she loved both boys, struggled with the idea of placing them for adoption, and wanted nothing but good things for them, their lives would have been untenable had she kept them. This is not simply a matter of a woman who was young, poor, or taken advantage of – at least not by us – although those are all parts of her story. You can be young, poor, uneducated, and still manage as a parent. There were deep seated issues here by which, she would not have, and she was in many ways the first person to recognize as much.

Nor are we some elite buying children – we work professional jobs, but were just starting out, making entry level salaries, and went through the public adoption system. While we could afford to take children into our home and give them a decent life, by no means could we have afforded thousands of dollars in overhead to do so – we knew that money would be better spent providing for their education, or even a fun family trip on which to make memories, than padding some lawyer or social worker’s bottom line. We took a great leap of faith, as such, in keeping an open mind to childrens’ age, potential health risks etc. And our sons, when adopted, were high risk. We have been blessed in their health and their growth … but this wasn’t a given. We wanted to be parents, whatever that meant. Did that mean recognizing our limitations – that handling a severely disabled child, for example, would be beyond our ken? Sure. But we had to do some real soul searching through the adoption process of just what ‘wanting to be parents’ meant to us, and it broadened our minds – honestly, any parent-to-be, biological, adoptive or otherwise, should have to go through what we did in some ways. Infertility in some was was a blessing in disguise to explore the true meaning of ‘parenting’.

And as for the infertile not being owed babies, and it’s up to nature to decide who has one … well, when the ability to parent biologically is honestly a lottery ticket, and many undeserving people hit the jackpot while so many who are sincere and genuine in simply wanting to provide a little person a home lose out. It’s not an ‘entitlement’ issue … the adoption process in itself is a crapshoot. Ours went incredibly smoothly and lasted a year ‘bell to bell’, as it were. Others have to wait much longer. Others even more open-minded (or richer) than us might have an even quicker placement. But I do believe people willing to put in the time and the work to prove that they truly want to be parents, deserve … not a guaranteed child, but a chance. That’s all the process offers us, just like that’s all nature offers bio-parents out there. And trust me – the process is tough! If we’d given any sign of ‘healthy white baby, no exceptions please’, I would be willing to wager a small fortune (because I don’t have a big one) that we’d have never been approved for a placement.

I guess my thing is this – I am all for opposing opinions, especially on things so fraught as … well, anything surrounding parenting. Go make babies in the bedroom, in a lab, or adopt ones who are already here …  be permissive or strict, attachment-oriented or more laissez-fair … I might make the same choices, different ones, or be limited in my choices as the case may be, but they’re our choices right, and we will all have our own approach, and as long as your child is basically happy and healthy I won’t go banging you over the head about it. All of this stuff can be problematic and I acknowledge I’m not going to be looking at adoption through the same paradigm as a birth parent or adoptee. But please – if you are going to have a strong opinion, please let it be an informed one? I mean, I know internet message boards and comment sections are prime territory for the mouth (or fingers over the keyboard) moving more quickly than the brain, but don’t tar all adoptive parents with the same brush as some who have used or abused the system … or been failed by it, depending on your – and here’s the magic word – perspective.



I just read the following article over at ThinkProgress (good folks, by the way):

Call To Ban ‘Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl’ Prompts Sensible Response From Michigan School.

And I have just two thoughts to throw out there.

  1. If in reading this book about a young Jewish girl hiding with her family during the Holocaust, who ultimately didn’t survive, the most objectionable and difficult material for the parent in question in the above article to absorb consists of Anne Frank’s thoughts and observations of her body’s progress through puberty/adolescence etc., then she really is missing the forest for the trees. And …
  2. Whatever material we might find difficult, uncomfortable, worthy of oversight and ‘parental guidance’ – be it sexuality, war, violence, or a little old thing like genocide – I can’t drive home enough that the answer is not ban, hide, ignore, head-in-the-sand-ism. Your children, in the course of their lives, are going to learn about all of the above and then some, whether you like it or not. And whatever values you wish to instill in them – non-violence, patriotism, abstinence, bigotry, inclusiveness – are not best instilled by ignorance, but by frank and honest awareness and discussion, lest – for better or worse – they stumble upon this material and (gasp! horror!) develop their own opinions on it anyway.

BOTTOM LINE:

Whether you wish to participate in, or nay, even control, your child’s education, the answer is not  to prevent their education, but to educate yourself so that you can help, participate, advocate. We don’t owe our children ignorance – we owe them frank, honest lessons and as much knowledge and wisdom as we can cram into their heads. Lest they, too, grow up one day thinking the answer to ‘I don’t like that’ is to hide it forever from public view.



{February 17, 2013}   Bad Blogger, and Update

Hi everyone,

So even the best intentions can run into madly busy weeks and months! It’s been nearly three weeks since I last posted – bad blogger! But it has been absolutely insane. Work has been quite the thing on a number of fronts – several interviews, tests, putting feelers out there with some response but no tangible success yet on one front, but things going so very well with my online teaching and church. It’s the Lenten season which means book study time and I’m excited about that, and we began this most solemn of times on the Christian calendar today with Communion, and a message that all are invited at Christ’s open communion table, and by extension to share his journey to the cross, and the period of rebirth and new understandings that followed.

It’s been a fun few weeks/weekends as well, as we have been able to babysit for friends, skate on the canal (Little Tyke’s first time on ‘big boy’ skates was ‘not so easy, but I do it’ – a good attitude we’re encouraging very strongly from our sensitive perfectionist), we’ve gotten LT’s first report card, and he’s become a “Zipper Expert” at school learning how to do up his own zipper all by himself. Little J, who has been known from time to time to have something of a temper, has also been playing really nicely with his friends and his brother. And both got to spend some time on the first Valentine’s cards they’ve really gotten to participate in. Nice. We could have done without some plumbing and flooding issues we’ve had, but those are now resolved and all’s well that ends well … right?

This weekend, however, takes the cake for fun. After a very busy week with much to do work- and ‘around the house’-wise (reorganizing our basement after the above-mentioned flood), my in-laws came up for a visit. They are awesome, by the way. They facilitated us being able to take Little Tyke to his first birthday party invite, where he had a great time. We also got to head out to Winterlude, the big February carnival here in Ottawa-Gatineau area, play on the winter playground and ice slides, have hot chocolate and beaver tails, and … oh so much fun. Before – get this – Ari and I got to go out to a lovely steak dinner for a belated Valentine’s date, and to the movies to see Zero Dark Thirty. I recommend it strongly by the way – although perhaps not at 10:30pm when really tired. It does take some mental energy to follow, and we managed and enjoyed it – but barely, in terms of a few moments of ‘What just happened?’ that I think wouldn’t have occured if we’d seen a matinee, or even an early show. Good stuff though.

And today, after a fabulous morning at church as described above, we had an ‘in’ day, making cupcakes with “Grandma V” and a game of Chutes & Ladders with LT. And now we’re heading into the dinner hour with boys who are just the right kind of tired lol, playing with all their newly-laid-out toys in the basement that’s been off limits to them for a week, and with a wrestling PPV just hours away. YAHOO!

I promise there won’t be a break between blogs that long again, and I will get back to posting about news/important world stuff and not just personal updates – it has been an EXTREMELY busy end of January/beginning of February, however, and I appreciate a really lot your bearing with me. You’ll hear from me again in the next day or two, and until then, be well. XOXO



{November 15, 2012}   Happy Birthday Little Tyke

Little Tyke turned four today. The day he was born, he was about a month early, and we were preparing his nursery … connected, even then. It seems like just yesterday we were meeting him, a beautiful, premature 9-day-old still just learning to eat.

Mommy and baby, Nov. 24 2008.

And now he is a four-year-old school kid in junior kindergarten, taking his first solo swimming lessons and having his first ‘friends’ birthday party on Saturday, proudly letting us know he can ‘climb on big boy things’.

But we all know, he will ALWAYS be Mommy’s baby. Love you, LT – always. Happy birthday. XO

Little Tyke’s first school picture, Oct. 2012.



I have to admit I’m about to break my own rule a bit here. I’m a huge advocate that women in general, and moms in particular, need to be nicer to each other than we often are. We are human parents, with human children, just doing our best. And as long as we keep our claws out, sharpened, and directed at each other, we’re not focusing on the things that really matter.

But one of the things that *I* personally thing really matters, is the emotional wellbeing of our children … and I do have to admit to becoming a bit dubious when issues, regrets, unresolved grownup emotions end up impacting our relationships with them. To wit – Nicole Kidman.

Now I want to start out by saying that Ms. Kidman is a phenomenal actress and I am a fan of her work. I also completely sympathize/empathize with her on so many levels – I can relate to her struggles with infertility, her journey to becoming a parent via adoption, and even her desire, after that experience, to still experience pregnancy and childbirth. While I haven’t experienced anything like being married to, divorced from, or co-parenting with Tom Cruise (thank God), I can assume it must be crazy-making, and I have sympathy with that too. She’s been handed, in many ways, a highly imperfect life, despite her many blessings, and I want to admire the lemonade she’s made out of her lemons – having adopted two beautiful children, having two biological children, a successful career and now a happy marriage … and I admit there’s much I don’t know, not being ‘inside’ her world. I’m sure she’s a great mom, and would never intentionally hurt her children, and what I’m about to quibble about is semantics … it’s words. But. since we all know ‘Words Matter’, I feel kind of compelled to get this of my chest. So I apologize in advance for breaking my own cardinal rule of non-judgement on my fellow women and moms, and appreciate in advance everyone’s forgiveness for a bit of a venting session.

I worry for Kidman’s older kids, Connor and Isabella, who she adopted with Tom Cruise, and her relationship with them when, now that she has also become a biological mother, she says things like, “Having my baby has been a healing experience. It took me so long to have a child. I feel enormous gratitude. [My baby] Sunday has healed an enormous amount in me. It’s a very private thing, but she just has.”. Bearing in mind that this “taking so long to have a child” bit, comes as her two adopted children are almost grown up. “So long” indeed.

And this isn’t the first time she has raised up her biological children, and the experience of ‘having children of her own’ over the years, as she is also responsible for such quotables on parenting, pregnancy and adoption as … “[Pregnancy is] why I’m glad I’m a woman. Men will never have a life inside of them – it’s why I’d never choose to be a man!” … and “now my priority is my family – my baby, my husband – and that’s non-negotiable,” with no mention of her two older children.

Now look. Let me backtrack here a bit and say I don’t necessarily expect her to be an adoption advocate. I will speak to my own experiences, but I don’t, myself, necessarily advocate. We had an overwhelmingly positive experience, but that’s not everyone’s story, and it isn’t ideal for everybody. Just like pregnancy, or fertility treatments, it needs to be entered into with care. I guess I’m just thinking, it’s something that is already so stigmatized in some ways, and ignored in others … could she at least maybe then approach it quietly, in a matter-of-fact way? When this famous, respected woman makes no secret that she values her connection to her biological children more highly than the one she shares with her adopted children, it is unhealthy both for her kids, and for the profile of adoption generally. She doesn’t need to help it and advocate for it – but when it’s already so ghettoized, could she perhaps at least ‘Do No Harm’?

Especially when, frankly, given how controlling and scary Scientology generally and Tom Cruise in particular can seem to be at times, I suspect there are probably much stronger reasons she feels disconnected from Connor and Bella than DNA, or a lack thereof. And I could even see, admittedly from the outside looking in, a great deal of sympathy for this young woman who had her children taken away from her by a horrible situation, person, organization. I in fact tend to assume the best of her when discussing her and Tom’s situation, using terms such as  ‘parental alienation’, and I know there are so many other issues at play here,I just wish she understood that too. I’m not inclined to judge simply because she’s a non-custodial parent – and in fact, if that’s the right decision for your family, then good for you! – or even her feelings about her children, whether they result from adoption/genetic issues, or other – we can’t help those. And again, as I said, I don’t even doubt, in private, that she loves all of her children and is a fantastic mom. I guess, considering her public profile, I’d just think she would then choose her words wisely and speak with a bit more care towards them, or not at all – especially as she speaks of valuing privacy. For such a ‘private’ individual, I just find myself wondering if in her grief, her oversharing might be hurting her children, and contributing to the negative perception some might have towards adoption. Just my two cents from over here in the peanut gallery.



et cetera