Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Culmination


Meazi graduated from Pre-k a couple of weeks ago.

Steven made her rainbow eggs for breakfast. What exactly is the limit on how much food coloring a child can have?


My mom was here for the big day.


Melese felt like looking presentable...
He loves to hear the sound of his own voice in an auditorium.


Meazi, as expected, likes to perform. Here she is with her portion of the zoo phonics program. I think she had Ollie Octopus and Peter Penguin.

The kids came out of the classroom, and the principal presented them with a lei and a small stuffed fish. The theme was "Under the Sea." Our friend Deb attended, as did our crossing guard Stella.



Meazi was always the first one at school.

I can't really put into words what this school has meant to Meazi, but here is a note that I wrote to her teachers:

In an emergency, during an accident, whenever someone is experiencing trauma, the people who arrive on the scene to help immediately are called first responders. They tend to wounds. They speak words of comfort and strength to those full of fear, and in shock. Sometimes they even restart a heart. We feel like the four of you, the teachers in room 11, are Meazi’s first responders.

Last August, when we brought Meazi and Melese home to America, Meazi continually spoke the words ‘lijoch’ (Amharic for children), and ‘school’. School was one of a handful of English words that Meazi knew. Meazi had experienced huge losses, was unable to communicate her needs to us, and was very, very, scared. We hadn’t expected to put her in school right away. Her paperwork said she was two, and we figured we had plenty of time to think about school after she had been home with us for a while. Upon meeting her in Ethiopia it was clear that she was older. Her requests for ‘school’ were constant and emphatic. Dr. D, another first responder, saw what we saw, and managed to enroll her in your four-year old classroom with a two-year olds birth certificate. It has been, to date, the best decision we have made for Meazi. The four of you have made a huge difference in Meazi’s life. We are forever grateful.

Like every other parent of a Pre-k’er in room 11, we are thrilled that Meazi knows that bats are nocturnal, that pumpkins decompose, and that dinosaurs are oviparous; more than that though, we are so thankful that you L, M, T, and L were there to tend to wounds, to speak words of comfort, and to even restart a heart.

Thank you.

Meazi on her first day of school...


Meazi on her last day of school...

Next stop, Kindergarten.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Growth Chart

I can’t believe that we are down to one dog. The Ted. We have always been a two or three dog family. We have bowls, beds, leashes, and food bins. We have an entire kitchen cabinet full of canine medicines and supplements. We have a sign on our door indicating to courageous firefighters that that they should press on after the miraculous rescue of one pup, to the back of the house to rescue the others. We are dog people.

If you are curious, or if maybe this helps you in the future, I’d like to tell you a little bit about June 22nd. We chose to have Meazi and Melese with us when the vet came over to put Moses to sleep. I had been preparing Meazi, a little bit, over the last couple of months. I told her that Moses was near the end of his long life, that he was probably going to die soon, and that we needed to show him a lot of love every day. On Tuesday Moses went to his bed like he always does. Melese got a bottle, but was not falling asleep easily. Melese kept getting out of the bed. He plopped himself down next to Moses, gave him two gentle pats, and then finally went to sleep. The vet came into our dimly lit room where we all sleep together. She gave Moses two shots, the first a sedative, the second one to stop his heart. We were all there. Meazi had brought Moses two teddy bears, ‘Pinkberry,’ her pink bear that Pip and Squeak made for her, and another small bear. The three of us sat around Moses, holding him and talking to him. The most upsetting part for Meazi was seeing her daddy cry. (I think it was my fourth time seeing Steven cry in the nearly fifteen years that we have been together). Although this part was tough for Meazi, I believe that we made the right decision. I have mentioned before that Meazi has some experience with death. What she didn’t have, until Tuesday, was an experience with a peaceful, gentle, death. Moses simply died in his fleece-lined bed.

Shortly after Moses died, we began telling Meazi our favorite, happy, Moses stories. We told her again about the Easter when he and Lummi ate thirty-six dyed Easter eggs and pooped in Technicolor for weeks, and about the time he and Lummi unzipped our camping tent in the middle of the night, went for a moonlight adventure and then came back and leaned against the outside of the tent, convincing us that a wild animal was about to attack us. We talked about all of the trips we took with Moses, all of the hiking, all of the swimming, all of the fun.

The next part was harder to explain so we stretched the truth a bit. We didn’t think she was old enough, or mature enough, to hear about cremation. She knows about burial. She knows that bodies are placed into the earth. She also knows (from school) that things decompose. When the man from the pet mortuary came to get Moses, we told her he was taking the body to decompose. I showed her where we keep the decomposed body of Lummi (really her ashes) and she asked to see them. So, not totally honest about that, but we felt it was too much. When the mortuary guy came in, smelling ironically like smoke, he saw Ted lying in the hallway, pointed at him and said, “So this is the pup?” Poor Ted, he had already become visibly agitated when he recognized the Kevorkian vet who helped us with Lummi three years ago. I said, “Uhm, No, Teddy is still breathing. Leave him alone please.”We had talked to Meazi about it just being Moses’ body at this point, and that his spirit would always be with us. (I know, I know, a lot for this almost five-year old to take).

The next day, in an incredible moment, Meazi for the first time ever, walked to the pantry, opened it, and got Teddy’s breakfast ready. It was as if she knew that the sight of two bowls, and two bins, would be way too much for me to handle that first Moses-less morning. She also said, “We have to be extra nice to Teddy today momma. He might be lonely and missing his friend.”

Meazi and Melese came to us with grief. Steven and I have had losses of our own. Moses, (and I realize he is a dog, and that this is a lucky, privileged, women's lament), was the first loss we shared together. It's like we took a black sharpie pen to our family's growth chart, and added a new marker.

On the day following the evening of the sadness, we knew we would have to do something fun and life affirming for the kids. Steven went into work late. After breakfast, the four of us went to the hospital where we were lucky enough to meet two new friends.

Doesn't get much more life affirming than that; twin babies, a boy and a girl, just a day old.

Later that afternoon, Meazi and Melese got to go swimming with Pip and Squeak, and we even went out for ice cream after dinner.


Thank you for your advice on how to handle this. I hope it was the right decision for our family. It was definitely the right decision for Moses.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Imbi! Andellem!




When we came home from Ethiopia,"Imbi" and "Andellem" (I am guessing at the spelling), were the only two Amharic words that Meazi spoke to Steven. I think the translation is, "NO" and "No fucking way," roughly. It was very hard on Steven. She rejected him, repeatedly.

Someone gave us one of the Little Mr. and Miss books like the one pictured above. There are dozens of titles. This is the one we have...




They are cute little books. We have taken dozens of them out from the library.

Meazi decided she'd like to make a book like this for Steven, for Father's Day. I asked her what the title would be. She said,

Mr. Amazing

She couldn't wait until Sunday to give it to him.


She wanted him to have it today.

I was going to post everything she wrote, but I think I'll just keep it between them.

Have an amazing Father's Day.

Friday, June 18, 2010

High Anxiety

Sigh. Where has the time gone? I am well aware that this blog has become, as Steven said, "A picture blog." Between the broken mac and the lack of time, pictures are all I can muster. Perhaps you'd like the stream of consciousness post? Perhaps not.

Moses is nearing the end of his life. It is clear that we are soon going to have to put him down. Steven is ravaged by severe stomach cramps, which I am pretty sure are caused by this sad truth. I am so grateful that these children got to meet our dogs. The cancer vets predicted they would both die years ago. Their lives have not been as much fun since they have been demoted to dog status. They are not invited to co-sleep, and the daily walk is long gone. So we hug them, and we wait for Moses to tell us when he is ready. He is still eating, and wagging, and rolling in the grass, so we know it is not today. But it will be soon. Steven wants the whole family there when we have the vet come to the house. At first I thought that this was a terrible idea. Now, I am not so sure. What is the alternative? Take the kids to the park, and when they come home say, "Moses has died"? These kids know about death. They have seen it firsthand. It seems unfair to come up with something other than pure honesty in this situation. It seems like they should be there with us. I don't know. I am willing to listen to advice on this one. Anonymous comments are still open, despite the fact that I have to delete about a dozen comments a day from the Japanese bathhouse site.

Meazi graduated from Pre-k. My mom came out for a week. I always feel sad when I take my mom to the airport. She is so great with the kids, and they love her so much. Melsese stayed with her for a half an hour without me. He didn't cry. This is huge.

Meazi continues to amaze me. She is so smart. She has an incredible sense of humor. Everyone loves her. Why then am I filled with anxiety about what kinds of things she'll face in the future? I think most of you know through Facebook about the, "Only blond kids on the slide!" incident at our local park. I think I may have overreacted, and perhaps it wasn't racism, but I am wondering how on earth I will ever protect these children from all or the perils that lie ahead. Is it possible that my childless depression has been replaced by pure anxiety? Not good. Am I the only one who feels this much anxiety about her children?

Friday Photo

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Summer Reading

I have read exactly one book since the kidlets came home. It was a good one. This summer I have big plans. I am hoping that the barnacle will let go a little bit, and that I'll be able to read something other than his favorite book. Meazi will be in summer school for twenty mornings in July, so I am hoping to find the time to read again.

First up:

Sometimes a plea you send into the universe is answered. Every time Mama Dog posts something on her blog, I think, "I wish I could read more of her words." This woman makes an article about Sandra Bullock sound like poetry. She is amazing. I can't wait to devour her first novel. You can order it here.

Next (or maybe even simultaneously):

Theresa and Julia have put together a great blog for families like ours. I am not sure how much time I'll get to participate, but I am really loving the dialogue over there. Join us.

Then:
One of my favorite writers.


Next:

Written by the father of one of our Ethiopian buddies.

Then, if time permits, I'd really like to read this....

Jillian also adopted a child from Ethiopia through CHSFS, and like me she went to NYU to study acting. Unlike me, she dropped out and joined a harem. Wowza. She also has a blog. At first glance you might hate her ( beautiful, wildly successful, smart, married to a rock star) but she is actually lovely in person, and you can't help but root for her.

Think I can read all of that?

The other day Meazi had a dream that Todd Parr was her father. I wonder if it is possible for a kid to read too much? Melese still loves this, and squeals on page five when the pup rolls in the mud.

What are you reading this summer?

Wordless Wednesday