Saturday, December 31, 2011

It Wouldn't be the Holidays Around Here...

Without a good ugly cry.

My sister got this book for the kiddos. I was reading it to Melese. It is a sweet book. It is about a chameleon who is sad because he doesn't have a color of his own. He is always changing. He is distraught until he meets a chameleon just like him. Then they have each other- forever. I turned to Kate and said, "It's Meazi and Melese's story."

We all had a good cry.

Steven thought it was funny, and managed to take a few photos.

 Steel yourself- here comes the ugliest...

You're welcome.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Lucky Now

 The lights will draw you in
And the dark will bring you down
And the night will break your heart
only if you’re lucky now

I listen to this album over and over. I love it. I love him. Meazi's favorite track is Lucky Now. She belts out the words in the backseat as we drive back and forth to school. I am feeling very lucky today. This week has been a real mixed bag of emotions. We had to put Teddy down. Even though we knew it was coming, it was still heartbreaking. We have gone from three dogs to none. The house feels empty. Meazi took Teddy's stocking down and brought it to me, a big sad grown-up look in her eyes. Melese keeps babbling about how Lummi, Moses, and Teddy are all going to come back home very soon. We didn't have the vet come here this time. If you recall, we have been through this together pretty recently. The truth is we had more time with Ted than we expected, but it still sucks.

I also got a call from my doctor about a routine blood test I took six weeks ago. He said the results indicated a possible recurrence of cancer. I had to quickly get a neck ultrasound, and repeat the blood work. It turned out to be a LAB ERROR.  Those few days waiting for the results sucked the living life out of me. I imagined the impossibility of caring for my energetic kidlets while going through treatment again. I was an anxious ball of nerves. Fucking lab error- give me a break!

 Luckily, Uncle Mark arrived- in one piece! He is the ultimate tonic for all that ails. Everyone should have an Uncle Mark. The kids are too busy to be sad about Teddy, or worry about why their mother was muttering about lab results in the corner.

We had snow! Ok, well, Hollywood style- mall manufactured soap flakes, but SNOW! Who gives a shit if it isn't real! It was sixty degrees!

 And if the lights draw you in
And the dark can take you down
And love can mend your heart
 only if you’re lucky now

We just took an easy hike, and then ate burritos the size of our heads. We are waiting happily for the arrival of the Royal Wedding, Prince and Princess- The royal wedding of Madison that is.

I hope that you are surrounded by the things that make you feel lucky.

I hope Santa brings you this Ryan Adams album.

Not What I Expected-Everything I Ever Wanted.

 For the two people who read this blog and are not on Facebook, I wrote a new column for InCulture Parent. It's not all Wordless Wednesday people! Well, mostly. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

New Vocabulary.

For the first time in at least two years and three months, Steven and I are having a date night. Nana is in town, and we are taking advantage of her expert babysitting skills. We are going to check into a local hotel, did I mention that we co-sleep? see a movie, and maybe get a bite to eat. We will see a film that Steven chose, or maybe the one that looks more uplifting, the one that I chose.

We may eat spicy shrimp. I have high hopes that no other diners will pelt us in the head with a piece of tortellini. We may even stay up later then 8 pm. We might.

2 years!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Had Another Dream About Lions at the Door

Meazi had a nightmare the other night. She woke me up, saying in a panic, "Mom, I'm having a really bad dream." I held her close and said that it was okay. She told me she had been dreaming that a lion was in our room, getting ready to attack us. He left and went to Simi valley to Tessa's house, then on to G and F's  house in Minnesota, and then all the way to Ethiopia where her brothers and sisters scared him away with a big knife.

I know that this has to do a bit with this post from Cien. I had asked Meazi about this a couple weeks ago, and she said YES indeed, there were big cats in those caves. Big cats.

I can't really imagine what it is like to be Meazi. She is so, so, confident and bold on the outside. At night, once in a while, she wakes up in sheer terror, afraid of a big cat getting ready to attack her, getting ready to attack her family here, and her family there, and her friends all over, everywhere.

Today, for the first time ever, we took the kids to get their blood drawn. I can't believe that this was their first blood draw ever, with us, but due to a lazy pediatrician, and a general outstanding healthiness, there never seemed to be a reason to do one before.

Steven was off of work, thank goodness. He thought we should have Melese go first because if he saw Meazi go first, he would get upset. The phlebotomist asked if we had a preference for who goes first. Steven went in with Melese. I heard him whimper, "I want to go home daddy". He whimpered and whimpered and screamed when they did it. Meazi, who was on my lap in the waiting area began to plug her ears. I felt her tense up. When it was her turn, she panicked. She fought Steven as he attempted to pick her up and carry her to the other room. She began to scream. Melese had come back with big eyes pooling with tears. He showed me his bandage and said it hurt. Meazi was freaking out, screaming and kicking Steven as he walked her back. I could hear her screams and crying from the other room, as they started getting her ready, "This rubber band is called a tourniquet," she screamed again,  my face contorted and I began to cry. The receptionist looked at me and said, "Perhaps you should take a walk around the block?" Yes, yes, I thought. I need to get Melese out of here. I need to get myself out of here. Her screams were unbearable. Immediately my brain went to a dark place, a very dark place. I was a mother in Somalia, in the Congo, my daughter was screaming because someone was hurting her, raping her, beating her. I clung to Melese pacing in the parking lot, wondering what I would do if my children were being hurt by someone, really hurt. Murder, I thought, I would have to murder them. How would I do it? Would I be strong enough? I peeked in through the window, in between two white blinds I saw that the receptionist was looking at me and giving me the thumbs up. I rushed back in as Meazi came out from her simple blood draw (I didn't even feel the needle mom!). Her eyes were huge, tears lay on her cheeks. I told her it was ok. I told her we were going to Jamba Juice and that, yes, she could have whatever she wanted there- whatever she wanted. Razzamataz. The largest size.

Last week Meazi fell and cut open her face. It was a huge, gaping wound. The pink flesh was startling. So, very pink. She had been pretending that her croquet mallets were crutches, and she slipped. The brick lined front walkway was now the scene of a gruesome fall. "It was the yellow one!" She says as I walk by the colorful mallets. I raise a fist and yell, "You lousy mallet!" Releasing some of the worry and sadness at the inanimate object that is much easier to blame then my careless daughter. "Let's never play croquet again with that yellow mallet! " I yell dramatically. Her face, today, is finally looking better. I douse it with vitamin e oil, right before I tuck her in for what I hope is an undisturbed slumber.

Meanwhile, this evening, Steven works hard on a Doro wat in the kitchen. Melese, in his jammies, jumps from the coffee table to my lap on the couch. He jumps high, throws his arms around my neck and yells exuberantly, "I love you mommy, I love you mommy! I love you so much!" I squeeze him back and think that my heart may break into a million pieces.

The heartbreak that is parenting. The joy that is motherhood. The worry about the lions lurking behind every door, and the knowledge that everything has changed.

Everything has changed by knowing them. Everything.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I just signed on to do what seems to be my third Wordless Wednesday post in a row. Sorry about the lack of posts. I seem to be spending a huge amount of time in the car driving the kids around, and I have yet to figure out how to blog while driving.

I have also been waiting to share pictures from what I think was this week's ground breaking for the school in Kololo. Cien is documenting his time in Kololo and I am checking his blog constantly. I believe he has no internet access, so it may take some time to get an update.

I am picturing shovels digging. I believe it is happening right this minute. Thank you, again, to everyone who contributed. I can hardly believe it is happening. If you signed up to be a sponsor and I haven't gotten your info yet, it is because I haven't figured out how to do that while driving either. Please contact me if you didn't sign up, and you want to. I believe we have room for a few more. It will be a group/school sponsorship instead of an individual student situation. We hope to have a Student of the Month. There is also a Facebook group for the school's first sponsors. Let me know if you'd like to be added.

So we wait together, for the first pictures.

While we wait, may I present, Les Lapin...

And des carrots...

All costumes made by Steven. Unfortunately Steven and I are apparently, well uhm, rounder, then we thought. Everyone thought we were pumpkins and not skinny carrots. Alas...middle age.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

In a Good News/Bad News Situation...

Good news, Meazi's school provides free music lessons during lunch.

Bad news, Meazi has chosen the violin.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Just Like Me.

 Melese and I take Meazi to school everyday. We get there early and play on the athletic field. When we first walk in, we always see a man that works at the school. From the very first day, Melese has been mysteriously drawn to this man. Jose (not his real name) is an older gentleman, maybe in his fifties, from Mexico. When Melese sees him he shouts, "Hi! Hi Jose!" Jose walks over, his crossing guard stop sign in hand, and says good morning to Melese. The second day Melese threw his arms around Jose and gave him an enormous hug. Unheard of for Melese who will barely give a smile to dear friends we have known for years. One day, after a similar hug, Jose kept holding Melese as he stopped carpool traffic. Melese helped him 'work' and talked all about it for the rest of the day. There is just something about this man that Melese is drawn to.

After a few mornings of this mutually adorable greeting, Jose told us a little bit about his family. His wife lives in Mexico with their two children, a son and a daughter. Recently his kids had to drop out of school because it was too dangerous to attend. The violence from the Mexican mafia has caused their neighborhood to become a war zone. He showed me pictures of his adorable children. His son is named after him.

Later at home, I was telling Meazi about him. I said that I felt so sad for him, and for his family. She said, "Which part of the story is the saddest to you mom?" I said, "I guess that he can't see his family Meazi, that is the saddest to me."

She said, "Just like me. I can't see my family. He's just like me."

Maybe this is what Melese and Jose have in common. Maybe this is why they hug each other like that each day.

Maybe he just misses his son, the one who doesn't get dropped off at the beautiful, progressive, expensive school, surrounded by guards and kindly employees who could watch out for him.

And what about Meazi? Is she, like him, just working and waiting until a time when she can see her family again?

Please pass the Dalwhinne.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dear September...

Dear September, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

 I usually love September, back to school, chill in the air, sweater weather...

This year September can suck it.

I feel like I could sleep for weeks and still not regain the strength that September has zapped from me.

September has been challenging for these two as well.

We attempted preschool for Melese. Yeah, didn't work out so well. We are trying one more thing next week, but I am pretty sure that he is just not ready emotionally. This discovery needs its own post, but in case I don't get to it, here is the jist:

Melese, why are you so scared when the other parents leave? Did that ever happen to you?

Yes Mommy. Those teachers in Ethiopia, I was left there and no one came back. I was running, and running and I couldn't find Meazi.

Not. Pushing. Preschool.

Meazi has done wonderfully at her new school. She loves it. I have realized that it is virtually impossible to get into this school if you didn't start in Kindergarten. I have been made painfully aware of that fact by the multitude of parents who have approached me demanding to know who on earth we are, and how in the hell we managed to get a coveted first grade spot? Some parents have been warm and welcoming, others have been reprehensible. I have learned some tough lessons about 'invasion of privacy' and how to react to inappropriate questions including, "DID HER MOTHER DIE OF AIDS?"

School drop off has turned me into an ultra defensive, ball of nerves. My eyes dart from side to side as I try and deflect a nosy Nellie, or seem friendly to a kindly Kelly. The good news is that there continues to be a sort of  wondrous force of the universe that continues to place my daughter in the arms of the world's greatest teachers. Her new teachers are first responders like her previous teachers, incredible women who seem to understand Meazi.

I woke up this morning with pinkeye and a cold, but DAMMIT OCTOBER YOU WILL BE BETTER!

It has to be right? Halloween! Melese asked to be Christopher Robin for Halloween. How cute is that and what an EASY costume! Meazi wants to be a bunny, but not a 'movie' bunny, a 'nature' bunny. I'm sure Steven can make that on his sewing machine!

There will be hot cider right?  And beautiful leaves? That field mouse that has been tormenting me will find a new home right? Instead of sitting on our non humane traps and eating his fucking organic peanut butter, taking a poop, and then leaving the trap still set? RIGHT?

I realize that these are small, first world problems, but we are all a bit...

untethered. Me. No. Like. Untethered.

C'mon October...

I'm counting on you.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

C is for Cookie

I volunteered to make cookies for a party at Meazi's school. I received an e-mail requesting "No chocolate chip cookies." Uhm, that is the cookie I know how to make. Luckily Steven was feeling ambitious.

Linzer recipe Here. No hair in the cookies.