Friday, December 14, 2012


Dear Meazi,

My alarm went off at 5:40 this morning. I wanted to make sure we had enough time to have a proper breakfast before your violin concert this morning. You dressed in a darling red Christmas dress your nana bought you last year. You wore shiny black Mary Jane’s that your good friend Yene passed down to you, and brand new white bobby socks. You looked a little like Norman Rockwell’s Ruby Bridges, skinny legs, braids pulled back, face scrubbed clean, a determined stride in your step. You did very well. You stood behind a pretty tall girl so it was hard to see you, but I saw your bow move gracefully back and forth. After your three songs were over, you moved your head so that you could find us in the audience. Your father, Melese, and I were in the front row. You spotted us and burst into a big wide grin. You were proud. So were we. You handed me your violin case and hurried off to be with the rest of your classmates. You didn’t want to miss PE. Daddy, Melese, and I left your school. Daddy got into his truck and went to work. Melese and I drove to his school.

Dear Melese,

 Today was your last day of school before the holidays. We arrived late and immediately joined the other preschoolers for some songs. They had you and a few other kiddos stand up so they could sing you Happy Birthday. As a New Year’s baby the wanted to make sure they got a chance to wish you a good one. Afterwards I walked you back to your classroom and kissed you goodbye. I went to the restaurant next door to have a cup of coffee and to catch up on some e-mail. I opened my computer and read about the shooting in Connecticut. Tears rolled down my face as I glanced across to the play yard where I knew you were safely playing. A little while later, I packed up my things and walked back to your school. I found you stacking milk crates outside with your most favorite friend. I walked back into your classroom and took a spot on the circle rug anticipating the goodbye meeting that would start in just a few minutes. A classmate’s little brother sat next to me, a two–year old who is so, so, so ready to be in school like his big brother. His mom had just removed his sandy, muddy, socks, clues that he had enjoyed another Friday community day with his big brother. I couldn’t stop staring at his tiny toes. My eyes welled up as I thought about all of the murdered kindergartners in Connecticut and all of those tiny, tiny toes. Kahlil Gibran’s words flashed in my head, ‘Your children are not your children’. I thought about how none of you belong to any of us, and about how all of you belong to all of us, and about how as parents we are responsible for the caring of all of the children within  our reach, should they need us. I grabbed your classmate’s brother’s tiny pink toe. I couldn’t help myself. I smiled at him and he leaned his head toward my shoulder smiling. His mom stood behind us, busy breastfeeding the newest addition to their family, boy number three.  On the rug in the next spot over was the darling blonde girl who always wore sparkly shoes. Today was her very last day. Her family decided to move to Seattle and they wouldn’t be returning in the New Year. Then you finally ran in Melese. You plopped down in my lap and grabbed my hand. Your hand was freezing from being outside all morning. I put my cheek on yours. I opened my oversized sweater and wrapped your body in with mine. I took a breath and knew you were safe for at least this one deep breath.  The teachers began the songs. Your school has a no cell phone rule. I am almost certain your teachers hadn’t heard about the shooting yet. They began this song:

Five little ducks
Went out one day
Over the hill and far away
Mother duck said
"Quack, quack, quack, quack."
But only four little ducks came back.

Four little ducks
Went out one day
Over the hill and far away
Mother duck said
"Quack, quack, quack, quack."
But only three little ducks came back.

Three little ducks
Went out one day
Over the hill and far away
Mother duck said
"Quack, quack, quack, quack."
But only two little ducks came back.

Two little ducks
Went out one day
Over the hill and far away
Mother duck said
"Quack, quack, quack, quack."
But only one little duck came back.

One little duck
Went out one day
Over the hill and far away
Mother duck said
"Quack, quack, quack, quack."
But none of the five little ducks came back.

Sad mother duck
Went out one day
Over the hill and far away
The sad mother duck said
"Quack, quack, quack."
And all of the five little ducks came back.

I held you close as we sang with your friends. I scanned the room, taking in the faces of these children, their parents and your teachers. I tried not to cry.

On our way home I positioned the rear view mirror so that I could just see you. I wasn’t letting you out of my sight. At home I gave you whatever you asked for. First those Annie’s shells with cheese, the ones in the purple box you call bunny mac, and then the giant piece of candy cane I had been disallowing all week. “Take it, please,” I said. “Eat it up.” We opened a huge package. It was party stuff for your ‘Dolphin’ birthday party. You said dolphins were beautiful and that that is why you wanted them for your party. “Ok,” we said. You stacked the plates, and cups, and picked up a party favor and said, “This one is for William.” William is the friend you love the most.

We left to get Meazi. When they finally called her name in the carpool line, I began to cry again. I couldn’t wait to see her. She bounded down the stairs and ran to the car. “What took you so long mom? I was the last second grader waiting.” “I’m sorry,” I said. Melese, you turned to her and said, “Meazi, I ate your peppermint. The big one.” I had forgotten that was Meazi’s piece. She burst into tears. I think she was upset about the candy, but it was also Friday afternoon and she is always exhausted on Fridays at 3:30. I reached my hand back and put it inside her new bobby sock. 

I drove home like that, you, Melese, in my rear view, and you, Meazi, with my fingers on your ankle.  I drove carefully and graciously, for a change.

I brought you both in. Meazi you cried again when you found the minuscule scrap of peppermint your brother left you. I made you both hot cocoas. As you put your lunch box in the kitchen I couldn’t help but think about all of those moms and dads and loved ones cleaning out the lunchboxes of children they would never see again.

Ducks that didn’t come back.

How will we keep our ducks safe?  Our violinists and dolphin lovers? Our ballerinas and baseball players?  All of our ducks?

How will we do it?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bloggity Blah, Trick or Treat

 You may have noticed a lack of blogging here. Want excuses? I'm spending a lot of time in the car. Two schools, two different start times, two different end times = lots and lots of driving. Did I mention that I hate driving? I hate driving.

Can one blog from an I-Pad? Anyone have an old I-Pad they don't want anymore? Maybe I could blog while driving. Or while waiting in a school parking lot for one of my little darlings. Seems like people with I-Pads have their shit together. Please send I-Pad stat to initiate more blogging.

I'm sure you are dying to know what M and m are for Halloween right?

Months ago Meazi told us she wanted to be Aphrodite. There is some disagreement about who suggested that Melese should be Eros/Cupid. I thought it was Meazi's idea, she said I suggested it. Maybe Melese decided himself, but Meazi hated the idea of being Cupid's mother on Halloween so she quickly chose a new Goddess:

Artemis the Hunter.

 Melese remains Cupid.

Sounds pretty highbrow eh? I bet your thinking, "See how bright and creative kids who aren't allowed to watch tv are?"

The truth is Meazi's very first costume choice, months and months ago, was Strawberry Shortcake.

We told her she had to pick something else.

Lucky for us, her favorite book at the time was this one:

She loves this book so much.

We went to the Getty Villa to get some additional costume details...

I'm just happy no one lost a finger this Halloween. Steven used a jigsaw to carve the pumpkins.

Have a Happy Halloween.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Melese's autobiography as told to his teacher:

I'm a boy that's not too big and not that small. I'm just me. I like climbing on the monkey bars. I'm good at the monkey bars. I like going up in the air in an airplane and I like taking the subway. I'm not going to have any kids because my mommy and daddy are going to get tiny tiny like a little baby and I will take care of them and give them food.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Chink in the Armor

 I feel like I need an early disclaimer in this post. I am not judging anyone for what they do with their child's hair. I am not. I am especially not judging my good friends whom I know have had major challenges, and have made very thoughtful, agonizing decisions about their daughters' hair. I think every family has to do what is best for their child. I think every child is different. Every family is different.

That being said, I am sad about this...

On the first day of second grade I picked Meazi up at 3:00. She started to tell me about her new classroom. I asked her if 'J' was in her class. She told me she was, and said, "But mom, there is one thing about that." I kept looking at her in the rear view mirror. Her face got a little contorted in a way I didn't recognize. She said, "Mom, she straightened her hair." J is Ethiopian/American- not adopted.

"I couldn't believe it mom."

I don't know how to describe what happened to Meazi while she was telling me about this. I know I should have been looking ahead, on the road, but her face was expressing so many things. I could tell that she had been taken down a notch. Her expression was sheepish, embarrassed, sad, insecure, confused- her little features held more emotion at one time than I thought possible in a face. It was like I was watching her thought process. She has really been trying to still embrace what she calls her freedom hair, but I see life, friends, beauty standards, and everything else, seeping quickly in and making her doubt her self, and her hair.

 Her beautiful, beautiful hair.

She doesn't need to be the spokesperson for natural beauty, I realize that. But it is more than that isn't it? I haven't seen the movie, Good Hair, but I think I need to. I can see my daughter being slowly pressured to not have an Afro-ever. I can see her being asked, in not so subtle ways, to conform. I can see her strong sense of identity shaken.

I see her being slowly convinced that freedom hair is all just a little bit too much. "I think I might like my hair straight" she said,"But just for a bit and then I would wet it to get it curly again."

Dear Meazi, tell that boy behind you who is complaining that he can't see around your hair to croon his neck, or move the hell over.

Smile at the next person who says something about your Freedom hair.

Tell your friend J that you absolutely loved her curls.

And rock on with your bad self.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

In Other News...

That whole "Your own bed" thing didn't quite work out. It's ok. I am pretty sure they won't let us move into the University dorms with them.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

September 12th. Biggest Day Ever.

This Wednesday is a really big day for our family.

This girl turns seven...

This boy tries school again...

And the school opens.

In Kololo.

Wanna place a bet on # of ugly cries??

Saturday, August 25, 2012

For the Ethiopian Team...

Introducing Dibaba and Gebrselassie.

Lijoch headed to a 'come as your favorite athlete' party thrown by some of Melese's new school mates.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

File Under... WTF?

We had a lovely day today. We attended a beach birthday party for a beautiful boy and his incredibly nice family. Enamored with the day, we decided to extended it by purchasing day passes to the beach's adjacent community pool. Before entering I had the kiddos wash the sand off themselves at the outdoor shower.

Meazi and Melese walked to the spigot that has several shower heads. Showering next to them was a young girl around four.

Upon seeing Meazi and Melese, said four-year old girl fled frantically from the shower shouting, "Momma! They're brown! Why are they brown?! Momma, are they sunburned?"

Really Westside Whitey McWhiterson family?  Really? This is the first person of color your four-year old has seen?

You need to get out more. You need to show your kid that not everybody is white.


Meazi and Melese just gave me a look, your basic WTF look.

This is Los Angeles! I mean where do we have to go?


Monday, August 13, 2012

Regrets-New Column

Recently I checked a online community board that I follow. This site is great for pediatrician recommendations, ideas for fun things to do with your kiddos, information about schools, and all sorts of other good stuff. I read a post from a woman there asking about the best fertility doctors in town. This is what I wanted to post in response:

Dear Infertility Patient

Disclaimer: I know plenty of folks took this route and ended up with a family. I ended up broke and broken- financially, emotionally, physically, and mentally. I got cancer (yes, I believe it was related-I was artificially manipulating my body to grow things that weren't already there). In no way am I judging you if this is your way to family.

 I just really wish I had started with adoption.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Spit Camp Update

The camp update is not very interesting. After the morning conversation with CC, I received a message on my voicemail at 12:40 pm. CC's voicemail said that the boy had been picked up, and had "spent the morning in the office away from the other campers doing other activities." He also said that he would miss the following day of camp as well.

At that point I didn't care what had happened to the boy. I thought that the camp rule calling for an immediate suspension for spitting was quite severe, but assumed they had it for a reason and since we signed a contract agreeing to the rules, I thought the rules should be enforced.  More than anything else, I was still shocked that a camp counselor had lied to my face in front of a bunch of impressionable kiddos.

When I picked up Meazi, the counselor was not outside. Meazi plopped into her seat and said, "Mom, that boy was sent home. Did CC call you to tell you he wasn't a liar?" I said that he called to tell me the kid's mom had picked him up. "And did he tell you that he is not a liar? He wanted you to know that he wasn't lying. He thought the little brother had just been dropped off." I looked at her face and she looked so worried. There is a tiny possibility that this could have happened, I guess. It is extremely doubtful. I tried to discuss it a little more with Meazi until she said, "Mom, how many days do we have to continue talking about this?" I mentioned that the boy would not be present on Thursday either and she said, "Oh, that's because he stepped on someone's head. Also, his brother told me their parents grounded him for two weeks for spitting in my face."

Not wanting to make her five day camp experience completely about this kid and his behavior problems, and this counselor with questionable truth telling abilities, I have kind of let it go, sort of. There is a very slight possibility the CC didn't see the kid until after he talked to me, very slight possibility. Shouldn't I give him the benefit of the doubt?

I know that he lied. But my kid believes him. She is visibly worried that I won't believe him.

That night Steven was working out back on a construction project for our kitchen. Melese came running in from outside and said, "Momma! Daddy is lying! He said that I have his tape measure and then he just found it in his own pocket! Daddy lied to me just like that man lied to you!"

At least Melese knows what really happened.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Here's Spit in Your Eye!

Meazi started a one week camp this past Monday. The camp is at a cool place that rescues all types of animals. Yesterday a fellow second grader, on his way to the water fountain, turned and spit into Meazi's face. When I arrived to pick Meazi up, a camp counselor told me about it and said, "I wanted you to know for when it comes up at the dinner table."

I don't think Meazi would have even mentioned it to me as she had big stories to share about feeding two large turtles and an exotic lizard.

I asked her if the boy was vanilla or chocolate. "Vanilla," she said. The camp counselor had assured me the boy's parents would be notified. I read a behavior agreement that Meazi and I both had to sign on the first day. The rules state that spitting is an immediate suspension.

This morning I dropped Meazi off and asked the counselor if we could talk again about what happened. Here is our conversation:

Me: So I am wondering about the spitting incident yesterday, were the boy's parents notified? The rules we signed Monday call for a suspension for the boy.

Camp Counselor: Yes, they were notified and he was sent home yesterday.

Me: Meazi said he was here all day.

CC: He was sent home at the end of the day. We called his mom to pick him up at 3:00.

Me:  Camp ends at 3:00.

CC: Well he is not allowed to come today.

Me: Oh, he was suspended?

CC: Yes, his little brother was allowed to come today, but he was not. His little brother has been dropped off.

Me: Ok. Thanks.

I walked over to Meazi to say goodbye. I said to her, "So Meazi, that boy was suspended today for spitting in your face. He will not be allowed to come today."

Meazi: Mom, he's sitting right there, next to the counselor you were just talking to.

Me: Are you sure? He has a little brother, are you sure that is not his little brother?

Meazi: Mom, I am sure. That is Tony, the boy who spit in my face.

I saw Tony get up from the table and I walked over to the camp counselor.

Me: Meazi says that he is the boy who spit on her. What is his name?

CC: Tony.

Me: Yes. That is him.

CC: Uh, yeah, uhm I sent him to the office.

Me: You just told me he was not here today.

CC: I've just sent him to the office, and we are going to call his mom and tell her he can't be here today.

Me: So what you just told me five minutes ago was untrue?

CC: Well, uh, his little brother is here.

Me: ???

CC: He will be sent home.

Me: I'm sorry. I don't understand? Has his mom been told of the incident?

CC: Yeah, uhm, he is in the office now, I am on my way there too.

Wordless Wednesday

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Three Years Ago Today...

Three years ago we were at LAX, about to start our travels to Ethiopia. Armed with photos, passports, and nervous stomachs, we boarded the plane.

When I texted Steven at work yesterday to confirm the exact date, we had a brief exchange. He ended it with:

I've known them forever.

That Steven, he doesn't say much, but when he does...

Yeah, I feel that way too honey.