Thursday, January 31, 2008

Babymoon?


Did Steven and I just have a Babymoon?



Babymoon n. a planned period of calm spent together by a just-born baby and its parents; occasionally, time spent by parents without their baby; (hence) a vacation or holiday taken by a pregnant woman and her partner.

I guess a Babymoon is supposed to be some sort of last romantic hurrah that couples have before being burdened with car seats, strollers and those addictive little goldfish crackers.

I used to find this word almost as repulsive as Push Present.


Can you have a romantic Babymoon if this is your room?



What about if these people are there too?



Yep, my parents.


Thanks to the extreme generosity of my mom and dad, Steven and I got to visit the absolutely gorgeous island of Kauai. Did I mention that it was beautiful?


We toured the spectacular Waimea Canyon, saw whales swimming off of Shipwreck Beach, took a muddy hike, and sipped guava juice while watching the sun set.We went to a fantastic farmer's market, and Steven snorkeled at Poipu Beach.




It was romantic...

FOR MY PARENTS!


They are so cute together. After forty years they are still affectionate with one another. One night before dinner my dad was watching my mom and he said,

"T, you are looking really stacked tonight. Could you walk back and forth a few times?"

Okay, it sounds a little crude, but the point is my parents still find each other attractive. I think that might be pretty rare.

I don't know what it is. Maybe it is because I had cancer, maybe it is just because I am getting older, but whenever I get to spend time with my healthy parents, I feel extremely grateful. They are agile, vibrant, strong people. I know that this will not always be the case. I relish these days with them. I guess instead of a Babymoon, this trip was my last chance to fully relax with my parents. I am sure that in the future, as a mother of two toddlers, I might not be as much fun to be around. (Not that I am a barrel of laughs now.)

I also felt much more aware of the families traveling with small children. It looks like a complete pain in the ass. Where do you change a diaper on a plane? That is going to be a loooooong trip home from Ethiopia.

Aloha, and Mahalo mom and dad.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Friend or Family Feature...

Today's Feature is:
My brother Bubs!

My brother's name is Robert Nicholas Jr., but everyone calls him Bubba.

Why?

Here is his first picture...


Kind of Bubba-like don't you think?

Luckily he blossomed into an absolutely adorable child.
The nickname, however, remained. He also goes by Corbs, Bubs, Bubbarama, and my personal favorite, Rama. He also uses Rama as a verb, and sometimes even as an adjective.

My brother is like my father in many ways. He is very enamored of Wisconsin's Northwoods area. I guarantee that if you walk into any bar or restaurant up there, and mention that you are a "F.O.B", (or friend of Bubba), you will immediately receive a warm welcome and, most likely, a free drink. (Be careful that you don't use the acronym "F.I.B." by mistake, that means something entirely different up there. It is a derogatory term used by locals to describe people from Illinois who "summer" or "weekend" in the Northwoods).

My brother, like my father, is gregarious, generous, and has the gift of gab. I remember a time recently when we took the boat to a bar on the lake for lunch. Another boat pulled up with four elderly men in it. One of them was connected to an oxygen tank. As this man stumbled a bit while trying to get out of the boat and onto the pier, Bubs said something like,"You think it is difficult now, just wait until after your lunch." In one moment Bubs made a struggling, embarrassed man feel completely at ease. The man broke into a big wide grin and laughed heartily. He suddenly had gained the confidence to trust the sturdiness of the pier beneath him. If you ask my brother about this, I am sure he won't remember. He engages almost every stranger in this way.

My brother loves the Blues Brothers and Animal House. It is rumored that he was the real life inspiration for this character...


In a move that would make Ferris Bueller himself weep with pride, my brother did something that caused his high school to implement a rule that they never imagined they would need. It was getting close to spring break and Bubs really wanted to go to Florida to celebrate. My parents were not too keen on funding this kind of debauchery. Bubs decided to start a, "SEND BUBBA TO DAYTONA," fund raising campaign in the halls of his school. I think he had a sign and some sort of collection bucket around his neck. He raised the money and went to Florida for spring break. The no pan-handling rule still stands at Loyola Academy. It seems that Jesuits were all for fund raising, just not in this case.

In addition to being resourceful, my brother is what I would refer to as an "idea man." He always has new plans and ideas for his future. He is a risk taker. He takes the bull by the horns. He already has a very successful business and is always looking for ways to expand it. He also likes to help others clarify and strive for their goals. He is always willing to lend a helping hand to help his friends and family members reach their full potential.





It couldn't have been easy for my brother growing up in my family. He was the only boy, and the middle child. He was also social, as opposed to studious. He was rebellious like any adolescent. When I think about it now, I wish that I had been nicer to Bubba when we were kids. I don't think I gave him enough love and support.


Here is another picture of my brother Bubba...

Doesn't it look like his face might explode with joy and pride? Why does he look this way? Look at whom he is about to marry...

That's Mary, my babe of a sister-in-law. She is beautiful inside and out.

Oh, it gets better.

Look at what happens next...


These are their girls. Darling don't you think?





How will my adoption impact my brother?

My brother is an excellent father and will be a wonderful uncle. I plan on asking him for a lot of advice. Right now he is navigating the choppy waters of toddler parenting. Betsy is 4, and Abby is 3. They are what we like to refer to as, "Irish Twins." Bubs and Mary have been through a lot. They have learned about acid reflux, sibling rivalry, and the dreaded potty training. My brother spent Christmas Eve here. Betsy had swallowed a quarter and had to have a scary x-ray. My brother was right there with her, holding her hand (even though they only had one protective apron). Luckily my dad got a phone call from Betsy recently. She said,"Papa my quarter is gone!" Everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief.

I am so very proud of my little brother and the life that he has made for himself.

My brother and I share a love for this man...



Two years ago Steven took me to see Van Morrison at the Hollywood Bowl. When I was at the concert I tried unsuccessfully to call Bubs and let him listen live along with me. It didn't work on my stupid phone. The next day I called him and told him he had to find a way to see this concert in Chicago the next day. I went on and on about it, and told him about my failed phone call. The next evening I got a call that I would have saved forever if my phone would have let me. It was "Brown Eyed Girl" live from Chicago. It was a great moment.

Play this..




Bubs, the Celtic New Year is sometime in October. Let's make sure we see each other before then okay?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Happy.

Why do I feel like this today?

Because we received this in the mail...



Somehow when you receive a document from the U.S Department of Homeland Security/U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services approving you for the adoption of "ONE OR TWO" child(ren), from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, it suddenly feels very "real". I feel like it may actually happen.

Melkam Timkat !

Today is Timkat, the Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of the Epiphany.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Friend or Family Feature...

will return later today, or next week (depending on picture procurement).

Also, something has happened. Without going into too many details, an adoptive family has been denied by the ET authorities because of something they had on their blog. They have lost their referral of two children, and are no longer eligible to adopt from ET. This is devastating to them and to the children who were referred.

I sure hope Ethiopia gets my sense of humor. This blog will probably become even lighter in tone. I had planned to eventually delve into some deeper issues about international adoption, but now feel too nervous. After over eight years of unsuccessful attempted family building, I really don't want to blow it.

I also removed my friends and families link. I think I will put it back, but I want to make sure everyone is comfortable having their info here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Uhm...How did they know?

This is what I got in the mail yesterday...


Yep, a diaper.

How did they know that I am a mom to be?

Why does their graphic design look like something out of the seventies?

For future reference, oh secret product fairy, my kids will most likely need bigger diapers than this. They may even be potty trained. Instead of wasting time and valuable resources, why don't you send me something that I could really use...

This is the first beer that I have ever liked. It seems to me that as a new mom to two, I will have more use for this. Don't you think?

Do Your Research.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Would you place children with this person...


Do you think my social worker knows that this is what I meant when I said that we were going to Co-Sleep with our children?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Friend or Family Feature...

Today's Feature is:



My Dad.

This is a particularly tough one to write. Not because there isn't enough to say, but because there is too much. The Friday Feature was started to pay tribute to friends and family who have helped us over the years in some way. How do you pay tribute to someone who has helped you every single, solitary day of your life? It can't be done. I'll just show you some pictures, tell you some tidbits, and hope that those of you who haven't met him will someday have the pleasure .


I thought I'd start with some interesting facts.


My dad's nickname in high school was "Hero". He was a football star.

My dad played in the Rose Bowl in 1967. Read this. He held Purdue's interception record for 21 years.


My dad likes Gustav Stickley and Frank Lloyd Wright. This is his house.

This is the view from his house.

When my dad said that he and my mother had decided to move with Katie from suburban Chicago to an extremely small Wisconsin town, we were a little concerned. The place is fantastic IN THE SUMMER. In the winter it is reminiscent of the movie, The Shining. My dad had been going "Up North" ever since he was a kid. The Eagle River area really is a summer paradise. I remember a time when my father took me water skiing. All of the sudden he stopped the boat and I fell. He was pointing skyward to a bald eagle soaring above us. He didn't want me to miss it. After a few years, it seemed like the move would be okay. Then I saw this picture.
Remind you of anyone?

It may be time to leave the northwoods.






This is my dad at my wedding. What? Your dad wasn't Elvis at your wedding? How strange. You should have called my dad, he would have come right over to help liven up your big day. This was not a "One Night Only" event. My dad has been Elvis on several occasions. He has been Elvis in a boat, at a restaurant, at home, and for a group of these people...


He got thank you notes from almost all of the nuns.

He has also been Roy Orbison, but luckily I can't find any of those pictures.

After his performance at our wedding , a friend (who had known my Dad for twenty-five years) said, "Where did you find that Elvis impersonator? He was great!" You may be thinking, I didn't know your dad was a professional Elvis impersonator. Well he isn't. Professional is much too strong a word. It is more of a hobby. My father is a salesman. He has been a salesman for close to forty years. He is on the road right now, making calls, seeing clients, selling lighting. My dad is great at what he does. I think when people think of a salesman, they either think of a smarmy used car seller type, or a depressive, dejected Willy Loman type. My dad is neither of these things. He is extremely confident without being cocky. He is friendly, but not pushy. He is funny. He is a straight shooter. I had the opportunity to accompany him on a sales call here in Los Angeles and he was flawless. It is obvious why he is the best salesman in his company. People respect his experience and his disarming nature. He is a pro.


My father has an optimistic nature. He is a glass half-full/count your blessings/play hurt kind of guy. He is gregarious. He looks for the good in people. He looks carefully to find something in common with every person that he comes across. He gives people the benefit of the doubt. This may explain why my dad is still friends with people he met in kindergarten. That's right, kindergarten. I can barely sustain friendships with people that I met last week! How on earth does one remain friends with someone for so long? I find this amazing, astounding, and admirable. His extreme generosity and optimistic nature have allowed him to build a large circle of friends and fans around him.

My father is extremely generous. He probably would have retired long ago if he hadn't spent so much money on his kids. He and my mother worked very hard to give us everything we ever needed or wanted.When I told my dad that I wanted to leave Illinois and go to college in NYC to be an actress my dad said, "Let's fly out, check out schools, and see some Broadway shows while we are there." It is because of him that I was able to go here, and live here . Up until I went to college I thought that this was pretty much the norm for most kids. I thought that parents were, for the most part, supportive of their children financially and emotionally. When I went away to school I quickly learned that this was not the case. I met people whose fathers had abandoned them when they were young children. I met friends whose parents wrote them off when they told them they wanted to study acting. I had friends in school who worked three jobs to pay for their education. Many of them, because of these time constraints, weren't able to experience much of a college life in Greenwich Village. I feel very, very lucky. It would be great to be in a position to finally give something back to my dad. It would be wonderful to be able to help him in some way. He is the one that is always being asked for help. It must be difficult being everyone's rock all the time, although if you ask him, he will probably say what he said to me yesterday,"Jules, it's water off a duck's back."

When I told my dad that I had met someone in Santa Fe and had decided (after one month) that I would like to give up acting, leave NYC, and move cross country to be with said person my dad said,"I'll fly out, rent a van, and help you move." We had a great trip driving across the country, making some business calls along the way.



How will my adoption impact my dad? I can't wait for my kids to meet the King of Dads, the Bald Eagle (He prefers follicle-ly challenged). He is already a fantastic Grandpa to my nieces. It is a chorus of high pitched ,"PapaPapaPapa,Papas" when they are together.


My father is a baby whisperer. He does this thing with kids, I think the scientific name for it is... Sleep Hums. He hums, not one long hum, but a series of short deep hums. This soothes a child instantly. The child is asleep in minutes, sometimes seconds. I hope my favorite baby whisperer is available when I have a cranky baby and a raging toddler.

My father has a quality that I think might actually be indigenous to Ethiopia. He includes everyone. Everyone is welcome. He invites the whole village to dinner. If someone is nearby and seems hungry, or lonely, or sad he will say," Come on by for dinner." He is open. He wants to help. He wants to entertain. He wants to nourish. He, visually, may be the closest connection these kids will have to their homeland. He dresses up in white clothing with gold trim while singing and dancing.
This is another picture from my wedding.

My sister had just given a beautiful speech, and my brother had given an equally lovely one the night before. My dad got up from his chair walked over to us, placed his hands on us and said, "You kids know all the right things." If we know any of the right things dad, it is because we learned them from you.

Yesterday was my dad's 62nd birthday. He said, "I have reached middle age."



Happy Birthday dad, I sure hope that you are right. I would like at least another 62 years with you.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Mike-E...

Ethiopian Music Video

I tried to demonstrate the cool Ethiopian dancing (notice the use of the shoulders) for Mark and Steven. Unfortunately it looked like I was having convulsions of some kind. Maybe I need lessons.


Would you place children with these people...

Monday, January 7, 2008

Happy Christmas...

Today is Christmas in Ethiopia.

From Hotelbook.com:

The Ethiopian Christmas, known locally as Ganna after a hockey-like game the shepherds played when Jesus was born, usually falls on the old Julian calendar date of 7 January. The celebration has a gently festive air, especially on Christmas Eve in Addis, where people gather to eat, drink and dance.
Christmas is generally not that important in Ethiopia. This is partly because Orthodox Christianity is more centered around Mary than Christ, but most importantly because death is considered more significant than birth, hence Easter is a much larger religious occasion than Christmas. Only very dedicated Christians fast before Christmas, whereas almost all fast before Easter.



Many people follow the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian approach. On Christmas Eve, a religious ceremony takes place in all Orthodox Christian churches throughout the Ethiopian highlands. The ceremonies are long and involve the whole congregation. Priests dance sedately, swaying side to side in time with their sistrums (percussion instruments), while young men dance around a drummer, leaping and jumping, achieving an almost trance-like state. The ceremony begins sedately and builds up through the night into a crescendo, the music from the church being heard far and wide until the early hours of the morning.

In most towns, Christmas Day itself is largely a family affair, with the occasional game of Ganna being played in the afternoon.

And from howstuffworks:

Around the time of Ganna, the men and boys play a game that is also called ganna. It is somewhat like hockey, played with a curved stick and a round wooden ball.


The foods enjoyed during the Christmas season include wat, a thick, spicy stew of meat, vegetables, and sometimes eggs as well. The wat is served from a beautifully decorated watertight basket onto a "plate" of injera, which is flat sourdough bread. Pieces of injera are used as an edible spoon to scoop up the wat.

Twelve days after Ganna, on January 19, Ethiopians begin the three-day celebration called Timkat, which commemorates the baptism of Christ. The children walk to church services in a procession. They wear the crowns and robes of the church youth groups they belong to. The grown-ups wear the shamma. The priests will now wear their red and white robes and carry embroidered fringed umbrellas.

The music of Ethiopian instruments makes the Timkat procession a very festive event. The sistrum is a percussion instrument with tinkling metal disks. A long, T-shaped prayer stick called a makamiya taps out the walking beat and also serves as a support for the priest during the long church service that follows. Church officials called dabtaras study hard to learn the musical chants, melekets, for the ceremony.

Ethiopian men play another sport called yeferas guks. They ride on horseback and throw ceremonial lances at each other.

Ganna and Timkat are not occasions for giving gifts in Ethiopia. If a child receives any gift at all, it is usually a small gift of clothing. Religious observances, feasting, and games are the focus of the season.