Monday, August 14, 2017

Charlottesville and the racists we know--Microblog Mondays

Like everyone else I'm horrified by what went on in Charlottesville this weekend.

Note, I'm not saying I'm shocked. Racism is as endemic to this country as corn--and just as prolific. I'm reading my friends lists and everyone is shocked--shocked that this is what America looks like now. They're blaming Trump.

Now look, I'm for blaming Trump for anything but people aren't getting this. Trump is now in the Oval Office because of people like this. He didn't create it--he took advantage of it. People are surprised that Trump didn't denounce them harder. It always bewilders me when people are jolted by the fact that a racist was elected to the presidency. Did people really think that when Trump walked into the White House he'd suddenly become a decent human being? Did people think that he would suddenly be an adult? This is a man who has to get two scoops of ice cream while everyone else gets one. He's not going to change.

But other people can. The people you interact with every day--they have changed since you met them. Maybe they've changed for better or for worse but likely they are not the same people you met at the beginning.

Take my in-laws for example. They are majorly homophobic. They think that gays and lesbians are against God and the bible. Don't even get them started on transexuals which they just don't understand--and they admit that. Their church has splintered because of the gay and lesbian issue and my in-laws proudly attend the "non-welcoming" one.

This has understandably led to friction. But I wasn't going to cut off contact with my in-laws. I certainly wasn't going to stop associating with my LBGTQ friends to make my inlaws more comfortable. I kept throwing people together. All of a sudden my mother in law would ask me. "That friend of yours--is she gay?" I said "Yes." and went on with whatever. I kept telling them funny stories about my friends. All of them. Little by little the phobia went away. Little by little they realized that gay marriage didn't hurt their marriage. Little by little they realized they were wrong.

I see a lot of people on my Facebook feed saying "if you think such and such is right, then just de-friend me."  Unlike the hate--I see this on both sides. I'm not de-friending anyone. I will engage when I feel it is called for. I will discuss.

I don't feel that I am helping my friends who are being hurt most by the current situation by closing off my friends who have different views. We won't learn from each other that way. We have to start listening to others before the screaming starts.

I close with my favorite quote from The American President.  It is still so true.

You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free."

Monday, August 7, 2017

Considering the Game--of Thrones --Microblog Monday

This is not a spoiler filled thing on last night's Game of Thrones episode.

However if you haven't watched Season Seven- Episode 3 "The Queen's Justice" there are spoilers. You're warned.

Cersei Lannister is a bitch. Actually that's too nice. She's is a harpy. Actually that's too nice but you get the idea.

Do not f**k with Cersei Lannister because she will kill you in horrible ways. This is truth. Plain and simple.

On the episode in question, Cersei now has custody of the woman who callously murdered her daughter. In her revenge, Cersei gives the daughter of the woman poison--forcing her mother to watch as her daughter dies.

Horrible. Horrible. Horrible.

And yet.

I have a daughter.
I love her more than my own life.
I would give that life for hers without a moment's hesitation or thought.

If someone killed her and I had that someone in my custody--all bets are off. I have a good imagination and I would put it to horrific use to make sure that the person or people responsible suffered as much as I was.

D thinks I don't have it in me. He was amazed that I could think this about myself. Maybe he's right. Maybe my inherent fairness would allow me to give up justice. I also have a problem about making an innocent suffer for the sins of the mother. I give kudos to Lena Headey's amazing acting. She made me feel sorry for Cersei as well as horrified.

And I thought of the people who have lost children to the unspeakable. The parents who sent a child to school and wound up picking them up at the morgue due to the ease of which we have access to guns. That they get up every morning is amazing to me. I think we owe it to the memories of their children to make the world a little safer.

Now let's talk about dragons.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Comforting After Loss - Microblog Monday

I'm in California. Visiting my Aunt. It's so weird not to say "my aunt and uncle," but I lost my Uncle a few weeks ago.

It was a hard visit. The look in her eye was lost. They were married for 73 years and now he's not there. They had no children. If they were bitter--they never ever showed it. During the times of IF hell, they were my rocks. They refused to accept that life without children had no meaning. They also said that their nieces and nephews were more devoted to them than some of their friends children--and we were. We are. All of us offered to have Aunt Vivian come and stay with us, but since we are east coasters and my Aunt thinks of 85 degrees as comfortably cool she said no.

It is the third time I have had to comfort after such a loss. The first was my grandfather, when I was 15. My grandparents missed their 65th anniversary by 8 months.

The second was my father, after my mom passed. They missed their 65th anniversary by 1 month and 19 days.

People don't know what to do or say.
They don't.

People kept calling the loss "a blessing." My aunt, who never swears--I mean she thinks "hell" is bad language told someone that calling this a blessing was "bullshit." I stared at her for about two minutes totally speechless. I was stunned to learn she knew the word--much less could use it in a sentence.

I took Lotus to see her and help comfort. It was disquieting for everyone, but eventually I think this will be good for Lotus. She's going to need to do this--and she rose to the challenge. She drew a picture of her self with a heart and her name. My aunt said it was beautiful.

None of us get through life untouched by loss. Lotus had one early on. It helps to help others.

Now to address my own grief at some point. Probably I'll do what I normally do. Hold it in for a while and then totally lose it. Ah, something to look forward to.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thursday Thirteen - Thirteen that I'm doing right

I tend to get down on myself for how I parent.
I'm like most women, thinking that I am constantly f**king this parenting deal up.
This weekend friends came to visit us. Friends with kids adopted from foster care. I was able to see what I was doing right and what I haven't been doing right. I decided to make this list about what I am doing right since I am so often thinking about what I am doing wrong.

What I am doing right is right for myself, D, and Lotus. I do not presume that what has worked for us would work for anything else. Also this is right now when Lotus is five--when she turns six she might throw all of this out.

1)  Consistency
If I say, "Lotus if you do that thing one more time--Plan B is what will happen." Plan B is what will happen and Lotus knows this. Is this 100%? No. Is it better than 90%? Yes. I watched our friends threaten their two year old with everything under the sun and he would just smile and continue on his merry way.

2) Time In
I can't take too much credit for this. Two of the adoptive parenting books talked about it and when I put Lotus in Time Out she wigged. Not just the crying but a total freak out. When I put her in time in--which mean I held her close and immobile as a toddler, she'd fight but after the two minutes she'd calm down and let me in.

3) Listening to what she isn't saying
"Some of the kids were bad at school."
"Really? What did they do?"
I know by her tone whether she is talking about herself or whether she is really talking about the other kids and I react accordingly.

4) What happened at school stays there.
I hope I will be able to continue this when she starts Kindergarten but for now, if she misbehaved at school (rare though that was) whatever punishment was met out at school was sufficient. I want her to feel comfortable telling me about things that happen when I am not there. If I punish her for her misdeeds--that the teachers have already addressed--she won't talk to me.

5) Intervening when she can't.
When she came home and asked what was wrong with her eyes, I thought she might need glasses. Then she told me that a kid at school had been making fun of her eyes. When I took her to school the next day I was mama bear.

6) Intervening when she won't.
A teacher started to call Lotus a little pet name "Little Lotus" and she didn't like it. She told me she wanted it to stop. I told the teacher, and it stopped. I didn't ask her why. It didn't matter. She didn't like it and that was it.

7) "Stop"
A friend told us that we used this like a safe word for our preschooler. I don't like the sexual connotations of that. We are teaching Lotus that when she says stop, people will stop. If they don't, we will intervene and make it stop. When the friends were here, we heard Lotus' stop loud and clear and ran to intervene when she said it a second time.

8) Answering questions honestly.
From the funny and easy, "What's an asshole? Why do so many of them drive?"
To the heartbreaking, "Did China Mommy leave me to be found because I was bad." I answer them with as much honesty as I can. Lotus' memory is incredible and I don't want to be caught in a lie--even a small one.

9) Daddy is co-parent, not the enforcer.

10) Accompanying her to the bathroom when she "wants company."
Also self explanatory.

11) No Tech Table
One of our most hard and fast rules. No phone or tv or screen when we eat at the table as a family. Sometimes we have to take a call (illness), but we explain that is an exception.

12) Co-sleeping.
I credit our amazing pediatrician for this. When we brought her home she slept between us. As she grew older I was worried that we would be told to stop this. Our pediatrician, born in Taiwan, said that she and most of the kids she knew in kindergarten (the equivalent) slept in a family bed.
"I slept in my parents bed until I was 7 years old." She told me. "How my siblings happened--one who is 4 years younger than I  and the other who is 6 years younger than I--that's not something I like to think about." It put me at ease.
Now it is about 50/50 whether she will spend all night in her bed or climb between us at night but it works for us. Your milage may vary.

13) Reading
Our house is full of books and about a third of them are hers. We read all the time.

What are you doing right?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Microblog Monday - Allowing the asshole to come out.

So, a few days ago my Facebook feeds were covered with John Barrowman in a TARDIS dress.

This is not a bad sight to see, as I am a fan of John Barrowman and seeing him is a good thing.

He also said somethings that were taken as anti-trans and that is not a good thing.

To be honest, I don't know the whole story.

To be honest, I don't care.

I think that we need to take a breath and realize that the worst meaning of the sentence that someone typed in a fit of twitterpation is not exactly the worst thing that it could possibly mean. Not everyone hates everyone.

We have a president who fires off tweet storms so he can feel important. Many of these tweets should be ignored.

Why don't we just try to ignore some of the stuff that annoy us?

Hear me out. People are getting crazy about the little things and ignoring the big things.

John Barroman wore a dress to be in solidarity of a television show that is about a fiction character who will soon be played by a female actor.

This is worth analyzing every bit of every word he is saying?

If he said something that is offensive, yes, it is bothersome.
But it isn't the end of the world. If you know him personally--tell him that it bothered you. If you don't--move on with your life. Also, allow him the space to be an asshole--everyone is an asshole sometimes. Maybe this was just his turn.

We're really getting too distracted by the little shit and facing the big one.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Microblog Monday - What's been happening

So here is some of the stuff that's been happening.

1) We went on the first full family road trip vacation with my little family of three, my father, and my siblings and their families that we have done since my siblings and I were in the back seat of the station wagon.
"He touched me!!!"
"Stop hitting yourself!"

It was fun.
It was "interesting."

My sibs and I have different travel styles. Mine is somewhere between plan everything--even your bathroom trips and let's just wander and see what comes. It was...interesting.

2) My uncle passed away.
Since I wrote about how he was dying in January--I have to say that this has been incredible that he held out for so long. He was 96. How could I expect him to live more.

I know this. And I am grieving. Grieving for my aunt who is alone. Grieving because I'll never hear a piece of classical music and not think of him. It hurts.

3) D and I are getting better.

I wouldn't classify us as fixed, but we are touching each other. We are talking and not yelling. We are sending Lotus out to watch TV and talking out our differences instead of yelling or freezing each other out. There is ground to recover but I am smiling more. I am reaching out to touch him more.

And more to come.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Thursday Thirteen --Lessons Learned from My Uncle, The teacher.

On Monday my Uncle passed away.

He was 96 years old.

He had been married to my aunt for 73 of those years.

No one needs to tell me that he lived a good life. No one needs to tell me that it was time for him to go. But hearing the loss in my aunt's voice is horrible. Feeling the loss of knowing I won't be able to pick up the phone and hear his voice is also horrible. I'm trying to concentrate on the years I had him. On what he taught me. So here is my Thursday 13.

1) Laugh when you get annoyed.
Watching my aunt and uncle pack was funny as hell. She'd pack everything and he'd stand at the door of their bedroom and laugh at her. Then she'd yell at him in french. Then they would laugh and laugh.

2) There's no cure like travel.
Go away from your base for a while. A Staycation means work--it really does.

3) Music can solve any problem

4) If your emotional state is still bad, you need to listen to more music.

5) Education can solve the world's problems. We should have continuing education for adults--especially civil education.

6) Listening is better with everything. Music, people, problems

7) Don't ask, how can you help--find something and do it.

8) Hand written cards are in fashion. They will always be in fashion.

9) If you dress up for dinner you are honoring your dinner companions

10) Love takes time and work.

11) Once you've reached your 70th anniversary, you can sit silently and hold hands and everyone will just think you are cute.

12) You're not smarter at 95 than you were at 45--you've just seen a lot more and know to keep your mouth shut until asked.

13) Slip from one world into the next holding your beloved's hand.

On Monday night, my uncle passed away. My Aunt was holding his hand.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Microblog Monday - And for worse

We had a wonderful weekend. We truly did.

It intersected the line between fun and productive. Lotus enjoyed it. As I was putting her to bed Saturday night I asked her what her favorite part of the day was.

"Having fun today and you and Daddy not fussing."


When we first brought Lotus home, I had this idea that D and I wouldn't fight in front of her. Then we called it fussing. We tried to always make sure she saw us hugging and kissing and making up. Or at least the PG part.

Lately, to be honest, we've fought so much that fights haven't had a distinct beginning and a distinct end. Last week our fight got so intense that L sat at the dinner table with her hands over her ears.  And sometimes, when I stayed up after the rest of the family was in bed, I wasn't sure that everything was going to be okay.

I love D. He loves me. There is no addiction, no infidelity, no abuse. My grandmother, who was married to my grandfather for 65 years said that with the exception of the aforementioned three things anything can work out. I still believe it.

But the operating word is "work." Our marriage has gone from something that just "was" to something that we need to work through. Our differences which seemed to complement each other like gears that line up perfectly. Now the gears are misaligned and grinding at each other and I'm not sure how to fix it.

Most of it is D's job. He is a teacher, and it seemed that last year they set him up to fail and then pecked at him so he would. To be honest, his administration has been helping him to get better but D is burnt out. He comes home exhausted and hides from the world. I've been home either with Lotus or writing with her in pre-k and I want company. The extrovert part of my ambivert needs adult conversation. D can't handle conversation. Add to that my grief, a five-year-old who has decided to start really pushing her limits, money issues and you get the picture.

We've talked. We've cried. Again we've made the commitment to stay. But it isn't the fairy tale. I don't know how we're going to get to happily ever after. A few times the past month I didn't know if we'd get to the next day. I don't want to leave him. He doesn't want to leave me. Why is this so hard?

Before you ask, D gave me permission to write this out here. I wouldn't talk about it otherwise. Though I think that talking about it outside of the marriage helps. Sometimes you need a fresh look. We both are in counseling and might do it jointly we're not sure. I've had friends who were so good at hiding some of the shit they were going through I had no idea they were going through it.

But lately, I've been asking for help. For breathing space. For time away, for time with people.  So I ask you lot,  if you've been there and have advice for how to stay, I'd love to hear it.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Microblog Mondays - F**k Cancer.

Today I walked my daughter into daycare. Her favorite teacher (Miss S) was sitting with her head wrapped in a kerchief. It was a new look for her and I thought it might be religiously based.

No, she has cancer.

She started at the daycare a few weeks after Lotus did. At 18 Months, Lotus would see her and roll over to her as fast as she could. (She didn't crawl well until after she learned to walk--whatever.) Lately Lotus has wondered if Miss S. had been mad at her. I told her no she probably had other stuff on her mind.

Did she ever.

Cancer took my mom from me. Not the lung cancer that I feared as a child since my mom smoked two packs a day until I was around 10. Not the breast cancer that I thought would claim her when they found a malignant lump due to her due diligence with self-exams. Cervical/Uterine cancer. I put the slash in since by the time they discovered it it was stage 4 and no one was sure where it started.

I told Miss S. about an organization that was so helpful to me and to my mom.  They are called Imerman's Angels You contact them and they will provide you with a mentor. They will provide your caregiver with a mentor so you can talk to people who have been where you are. My mom's mentor was Carrie and she had been through what mom had and mom talked to her for hours. When mom passed, Carrie sent us a card that was so lovely.

For those in your life who might be dealing with this hellish disease, point them here. And if you need a place to donate money--same goes.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Microblog Monday- What I'm reading--or not

I have been reading a lot lately.
I haven't been reading at all lately.

I've been listening.
I've been listening to audiobooks.

I've been enjoying them lately to the exclusion of regular books.

I generally listen to books that I've read before, as the audio gives me a new and different take on them,

The Martian by Andy Weir is unique in that is is the only book that is better on audio than it was as I read it--and I loved turning every page.

The Harry Potter series read by Jim Dale gives a whole new light to the series that I didn't expect.
If I liked the Nora Roberts book, I generally enjoy the Nora Roberts audiobook.

I enjoy listening to Stephen King's books, I didn't expect it. That being said, after listening to IT sleep wasn't an easy thing.

What books do you listen to?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Microblog Monday - The Unasked Question

Lotus is 5 now.

I'm calling this stage the question stage.
"Why are skunks stinky? Why is poopy brown? Why is it raining? Why is the sun shining? Why did that Octonaught do something?"

I love the curious mind behind the questions.
I wish she would actually listen to my answers instead of repeating the question again and again and again.

But there is one question that has not been asked.
"Why was I left to be found?'

We talk about her adoption often if not daily.

"Why do I have brown eyes?"
"Because China Mommy has brown eyes."

"Can we go visit China Mommy?"
"We don't really know who she is."
"Google her."

We talk about how she lived in the orphanage and how the Aya took care of her. We talk about Aya and how she smelled and tasted. How it is okay to miss her Aya and I'm not mad that she does. We've talked about D's biological mommy and how Grandmom adopted D just like we adopted her.

She asked me once if Daddy was mad at China mommy. Then she rephrased her question to mean his biological mommy. I said she should ask Daddy. She gave me a look and repeated the question. I said that yes, sometimes Daddy is angry at his bio mommy. Her sigh of relief was huge. I asked if she was mad at China mommy.

She gave me one of those looks--the one that makes me wonder if there could possibly be a seventy year old woman gazing out of my child's eyes. Then she nodded. I told her it's okay to be angry. Then she asked me, "Is China mommy mad at me?"

I said no. Then I braced for it. "Why did she leave me?" And it never came.

It will. I know it will. Then I will have to talk about a cultural preference for girls. I will have to explain about the one-child policy. I will have to state my own ignorance.

But until then, I'm happy and exasperated to answer the other myriad of questions she has. Like a few days ago she asked, "Mommy, what's an asshole and how come so many of them drive?"

Monday, May 22, 2017

Microblog Monday - Bravery

So, on Friday, which happened to be the fourth anniversary of meeting Lotus for the first time, it was time for Lotus' Kindergarten Orientation. 

She was nervous. Heck with her, I was nervous.

Her questions were simple--would the teachers be nice? Would the other kids be nice?

Mine were not so simple.
Would there be other Asians in her class?
Would she be bullied?
Would she bully?
Would school take her love of learning and make it horrible?
Would she be safe?

These are just the top five--I have so many more questions as I'm watching my baby turn into my child.

So together we walked to school and sat with other parents and their kids. I started to make some introductions but Lotus had a death grip on my hand and so we talked and looked around. I looked at the folder with the agenda for the afternoon and it had that the kids would go to the kindergarten room and the principal and others would talk to the parents. I started explaining this to Lotus and her eyes started to fill with tears. I hugged her and she quieted as the orientation began.

First off a bunch of the current kindergarten class came out and sang songs. Yay. Lotus loves to sing and dance. They sang 4 and she knew all but 1 and the one she didn't know looked like fun. Then the teacher asked that the kindergarteners-to-be line up. Lotus hugged me.

"You're not going home?"
"Not without you." She thought about it and rested her head on me for a little. She watched other kids go on the line.

A few other kids were having fits. The one on the chair next to us was not leaving her mom. Lotus went over to her and said "want to go together?" The response from the other child was decidedly negative. Lotus came back, gave me a hug and stood on the line with the other kids. Her chin was quivering, just a little, but she met my eyes and smiled at me. As they walked out she waved at me and I waved back. Then, as she had done four years before, she lifted her head and looked into what comes next. Someone said something to her so my last image of her at that moment was walking away, head held high, with a little smile.

I didn't hear the first part of the discussion because I was musing about how brave my little girl is. How she walked into what came next with  a smile on her face. I thought of the smiles we got shortly after we met her, when she was playing cute. I remember how breathtaking it was when we saw her real smile--the one with her dimple--four days later.  I thought of how the journey from baby to child never takes as long as you think it will.

I thought of the song I first sung to her. You'll Be in my Heart from Tarzan. More specifically the second verse.

"For one so small, you seem so strong. 
My arms will hold you keep you safe and warm. 
This bond between us, can't be broken.
I will be here, don't you cry."

I lifted my head. Smiled. Then I listened to the rules that I, as a kindergarten parent would be expected to follow. I added a few. Be brave. Smile. Walk into the future with head held high.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Microblog Monday - Up Late

So this will be short.

I was up late last night.  Until somewhere past 2:00 am.

No, not with Lotus.

With Lotus' godmother.

We went to visit my sister by another mother yesterday. She's my daughter's godmother. I'm her daughter's godmother. She pushed me to go out with D. I introduced her to her husband. She is my person.

We went to her house and were thinking of doing wonderful things. And  we did.
We hung out.
We talked.
Our husbands went to bed.
We talked.
And talked some more.

With all the texting and Facebook updates and Twitter feeds I needed to just hang out and talk with my closest friend.
And I am so grateful I did.

When was the last time you just hung out with your friends?

Monday, May 8, 2017

Microblog Monday - Hello

So my inlaws are here.

They are able to watch my lovely Lotus so D and I went to the city and won the raffle for The Book of Mormon.

I loved it. It was funny and fun. I'm humming the tunes and enjoying.

And thinking.

I'm Jewish.
We don't tend to evangelize. (Here's some views on why.)  We don't go out and say that if you don't become Jewish you will burn in hell-o. Heck Jews don't believe in hell.

I've never understood why people do evangelize. Why do you care how someone else worships? Even if you think that yours is the one and only way to salvation, there are better ways than saying if you don't worship my way you're going to hell.

You can show your faith by example. (Something our Congress is not doing--as per my last post.) Become a good person and do good works for your friends. Comfort them when they are sick. Watch their children (and don't evangelize to them either!) when they can't. When they ask what makes you so treasured, you can explain how your faith helps you.

I've been told that the seders I make have made the non-Jewish friends I invite consider Judaism. I know several Jews-by-choice who have had relationships with Jewish men/women. The relationship soured but they liked the holidays and the outlook so they stayed.

Religion is one of the most personal choices. It is between a person and their deity. That's it, no matter what organized religion wants to tell us.

That being said--I highly recommend The Book of Mormon.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Christian Does Not Equal Good

So 217 members of the  United States House of Representatives have decided that they want to be mass murderers.

The vast majority of these people identify themselves as Christians.

Accordion to Merriam Webster the word Christian means someone who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ. I decided to look through my husband's bible to see exactly where they might be taking their inspirations.  What I read was surprising.

These people should be acting according to Philippians 2:4:
"not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."

Or maybe Proverbs 3:27:
"Do not withhold good to those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act."

Maybe Romans 12:13:
"Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality."

Because this is blog post and not a bible study I will end with this one.
James 2:14-17
"14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith obut does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 pIf a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 qand one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good2 is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."

This is not how the 217 members acted. They have decided to kill people. I'm tired of prettying it up. By their actions they knew that people were going to die and they decided to do it. People with pre-existing conditions cannot pay for the extra care and they want to defund Medicaid. This will kill people.

These people are the same ones (mostly) who look at the survivors of gun violence and refuse to make any laws restricting gun ownership.  Understand right now, with the bill that they passes, that a mentally ill person can get a gun--but not help.

For a long time, when you said "I'm too much of a Christian" to do thus and so it meant you were too good. The quote I think of is in The Wizard of Oz.

Aunt Em: "Elmyra Gulch just because you own half the county doesn't mean you have the power to run the rest of us. For twenty-three years, I've been dying to tell you what I thought of you. And now, well, being a Christian woman, I can't say it!"

We are meant to think that because she is just a good person, she can't say what she thinks. Maybe when this was made it was truer. But after watching this Congress, who maintain their Christianity, the quote I think of most is from The Princess Bride. 
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Good people can be Christians. But it takes a lot more than being Christian to be good.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Microblog Mondays -To China Mommy

Dear China Mommy,

Our daughter turns five in a week.

She seems to have developed a fear of heights. That is, until I sit down while she's at the playground and she is off climbing something that she maybe shouldn't be and calling for me.

I love that she pushes her own limits.

She is sounding out words and can recognize over thirty written words. She's going to be reading by herself soon and it humbles me.

Any time she thinks we're angry at her she declares that she needs a hug. We give her one.

We nurture her. We let her watch a bit too much TV, and run herd on her computer and phone time. She's friendly with a lot of the kids at school, but not a lot of playdates,  Kindergarten starts in September so I imagine that will change.

She falls down and scrapes her knees and ankles. when that happens, and there is even a spec of blood she requires a band-aid so she can't see it. My thoughts of a doctor to support us in our old age are out the window.

She hates loud noises, but will put up with them

She still does her parent checks in the middle of the night. She wakes up and asks us to tuck her in again. Actually the checks are closer to dawn. Is that when you left her in her finding spot? Was it close to dawn as you kissed her little hands and left? Did you look back? Or did you know that if you looked back you would have run and picked her up and I would not be writing this blog post, or not to you.

She asks us often why we love her. Why we like her.
I tell her.
Because she deserves love.
I tell her.
Because she is wonderful and kind and beautiful and all good things.
I tell her and I hug her.

Sometimes I get angry at you, for putting fear in our daughter.
Sometimes I feel sorry for you, because I have her, hold her, nurture her and all you can do is wonder.

I respect you.
I bless you.
I thank you.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Learning from the wrong - Microblog Monday

We took Lotus to one of the last performances of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus. She loved it.

Part of it was the cotton candy and the popcorn and the other snacks.

Part of it was the spectacle.

Part of it was the animals. The lions, tigers (no bears),  dogs and kangaroos.

I loved watching it with her. I loved watching her little face glow with excitement.
I also missed the elephants.

I know it isn't right to say it. But here's the thing, I loved watching them. Also if they aren't hurt--something that isn't 100% sure that was true--I think that it gives people an opportunity to see them in person and to care. At a party I met a friend of a friend and she works at the Bronx Zoo--in the bear section. She first became enamored of bears when she saw them as a child at the circus.

One of my hobbies is history--learning, reading, writing.

Someone asked if I had any cringe-worthy musical theater shows that I loved.
I don't.
And I do.

The way Native Americans were portrayed in Peter Pan and Annie Get Your Gun is risible. It is disgusting.


The songs Ugg A Wugg and I'm an Indian Too from Peter Pan and Annie Get Your Gun are so racist I cringe. I won't link to them, but you can find them.

That being said, I was seven years old when I heard I'm an Indian Too. It led to a lifelong fascination with Native American culture. My mother suggested I read the myths and then my parents took me out west to see the land they fought for.

Without those bad examples, I wouldn't have the fascination. I wouldn't have learned how to do the good examples.

Sometimes good can come from bad.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Microblog Mondays - Dear Mom Year 3

Dear Mom,

Tomorrow will be three years
since I picked up the phone
to Dad's voice
saying only
"Honey, she's gone."

I had seen you
two days earlier.
I can still feel
your hand in mine.

You were beyond speech but
when you squeezed my hand
I knew that you knew
I was there.

I promised to take care of dad.
And I have, as much as he will let me.

I told you it was okay for you to go.
It was.
You were in so much pain.
You weren't you anymore.
Dad said, "If there was anything to pull we would have pulled it."
Not for him,
For you,
Because you hated being that way.

I told you you had been a great mom.
I forgave all the teenage crap.
I forgave the adult crap.
I forgave.

I said that I would be okay.
I lied.

I need you.
I never planned on motherhood
without my mother to guide me.

I miss you.
The good and the bad.
I never knew I'd watch Gilmore Girls
To remember how much of a pain you could be.

I know I am not the only one suffering.
Dad still reaches for you in the morning.
Aunt V, your older sister, often time travels in her head
to when you were alive.
My sister and brother live with their regrets.

I have few with regard to you.
I am proud of how I was able to care for you
like you cared for me.

I only wish I could have done so longer.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

An important bit of nothing

Today we readopted Lotus.

We filled out more paperwork.

We went to a court and a judge
smiled at our daughter
and pronounced her our daughter
and forever more.

When she asked,
we tried to explain?
Why did we do this?

Lotus is an American citizen
since after a flight
from China to New York
we placed her foot on the ground
Of JFK Terminal.

Lotus has been our daughter
since we dipped her foot
in red ink
and placed it on the paper
Making a blood-red footprint
that says
She is ours.

How do I tell you
My daughter,
My child,
My very own,
That our country elected a tyrant.
Who hates you?

How do I say that
I worried that
that tyrant might write
new laws. And those laws
would call
you an immigrant
and take you from me.

How do I say
that I waited because
I wanted to honor
your China Mommy.
I am saddened because
the birth certificate that
will come from the capital city
of our state
will not have her name.

All I can say
that it was for a piece of paper.
And would you like cake?

And my child will hug me.
And ask if she can
lick the beater when
we make the icing.

I say no.
We will share.
Because we are family.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Microblog Monday - And You

And You*

When I get angry at Lotus, 
or she's done something she knows 
she's not supposed to,
she will cry. 

"I want my mommy!" She'll say. 
She will say this clutching to me.
Her face
buried into my very ample stomach
and breasts. 

"I want Mommy." She cries. 

"I'm right here." I say, holding her close.
"I'm here, baby."
"I'm not leaving."

What she means sometimes is
she wants mommy, 
the one who isn't mad at her,
and is fun.

And I generally get this through my brain,
and I rock her,
and she stops crying,
and she says sorry,
and we're okay. 

Sometimes she cries for mommy
as I am holding her
and I realize there's another woman she's crying for.
a woman who she lived with for five days.

A woman whose heartbeat she heard,
while she was getting ready to be born.

A woman who chose to give birth to her, 
and then made the 
to leave her to be found 
and cuddled 
and loved 
by strangers. 

Lotus cries for that mommy. 
She misses her.
That woman who looks at the world 
from eyes that are like her own.
That woman who,
I imagine,
Aches for my crying little girl
in ways I cannot imagine.
And I don't want to . 

When Lotus does this
We hug each other very hard
and send our love out
and hope China Mommy
can feel it
can understand 
this is the best I can do 
to pay the enormous debt that I owe 
this woman with 
my daughter's face. 

And one time
After being scolded
Lotus said she wanted mommy.
I realized and asked.
"China Mommy?"
She nodded.

She raised her head 
tears soaking  er face
tears soaking my breast
to look me in the eye. 

"I want China Mommy." she said 
lifting her hand to my chin
"And You."

Her head returned
just above my heart
as more tears fell. 

I held her,
and rocked her, 
and internally praised her intelligence. 
Because my four-and-a-half-year-old daughter
summed up adoption angst
in two words. 

* The style of this post is a tribute to the book Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. I am in the middle of this amazing book told in verse so I tried to do a blog post in verse.  Was I successful?  Let me know. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Microblog Monday - Loving My Neighbor

Growing up, our next door neighbors were our dearest friends. I called them Aunt K and Uncle B. If my mother wasn't home when I got off the bus from school I went next door and played in their basement. Uncle B. taught me how to hammer a nail--including how to swear if I missed and hit my thumb. I was told that the words "Shit! Goddamnit! Shit!" in that order was the only way to respond when I missed the nail and hit my fingers. That being said--those words were only for that occasion. I believed that until I got to middle school.

Our neighbors were Catholic and we were Jewish. Every Christmas morning for years we went over there for breakfast where Santa had dropped a bunch of gifts under their tree. Because my parents were on vacation out of the country, Aunt K and Uncle B knew that I became engaged to D before my parents did. I grieved when Uncle B passed away and I still stay in touch with Aunt K.

Because we had such wonderful neighbors I learned how to be a good neighbor. Our across the street neighbors (our house was at the end of a street) were not as wonderful. They loved leaving their car right behind ours even though multiple cars could and did fit into their driveway. They were snobs and told my mother to "watch out for the silver" when I invited my multi-racial group of friends over. But they were our neighbors. Many was the time I would come home and mom had made chicken soup. On the kitchen table was one or two extra containers filled with my mom's chicken soup. She'd tell me to take them next door or across the street because they were sick. If there was death it was a macaroni casserole with our name in masking tape at the bottom of the Corningware pan. This was reciprocated. When I was sixteen, I vented to Aunt K about my crush and how he didn't know I existed and on and on and on.  After giving me a wonderful and nonjudgmental ear, I came home on a very cold day to see a pint of Haagen Daaz chocolate chocolate chip ice cream on our front stoop. "In case of heartbreak," the note read. "open pint. Take spoon. Ingest."

I am lucky that the streak has continued. We have wonderful neighbors. Our next door neighbors teach Lotus about flowers and plan to teach her about gardening. Across the street comes over with their snowblower--often--to dig us out. We say thanks with chocolate chip cookies and brownies.

Love your neighbor is at the center of just about every religion. Help your neighbor.Take care of each other. This is why the Republican Health Don'tCare plan astounds me.

Republicans are supposed to be moral. Where is the morality of telling people that if you aren't white you don't deserve health care? Where is the morality of taking health care from people who need it most. Republicans are churchgoers far more then Democrats. Were they absent when they taught that page from the Bible?

Health insurance is moral to me.  If I am healthy I want the money I pay into insurance to go to help someone who is sick or who, God forbid, has a sick child. If you want health insurance to only cover you, and not your neighbor you have no right to call yourself a good person--regardless of religious denomination. One man asked why men need to be paying for pre-natal care. Was he immaculately conceived? Isn't it a good thing as a nation to have a healthy populace?

I will be calling my congressman and senators and explaining that I want my neighbors healthy. I want my family healthy and I will work like hell to unseat anyone who votes for this bill. I hope all the Americans reading this.

That being said--what are other neighborly things that you like to do?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Microblog Monday - If you become a teacher by your pupils you'll be taught

For the past year, one of the ways  I have been earning money is by tutoring.

I love it. I love talking with the kids and listening to them.

My favorite pupils are siblings.  The boy is a seventh grader. The girl is a high school sophomore. They are wonderful. They are first generation Chinese immigrants and after they learned that I am raising a Chinese daughter, we set aside five minutes from each lesson so they can teach me "things that a stupid American wouldn't know to teach her Chinese daughter."  (Their words, not mine, but I'm not offended.)

They also talk about how they feel and I am watching them grow, and change.

The boy. I'll call him, Rob, was monosyllabic when we met. Now he talks to me in multisyllabic words. Part of that is trust. I say with only a little pride that he trusts me. I've watched him going from regular teenage boy to activist. We cut tutoring short a few weeks ago so he could go protest at the airports.

Another boy I tutored will run for President of the United States. This is what he says and I believe him. I would vote for him--he's more mature than the person in the White House now.

Then there is the teaching of a little girl which is part of my job as mother. Since I'm not earning as much we've cut down on her Pre-K classes. She goes 3 days a week and then the other two we have as "girls days." Sometimes we sit cuddled in front of the TV.  Sometimes we go to the playground. Often we go to the library. And then there are days I teach her. I teach her about baking. I teach her about mitzvoth. I teach her about me.

And I learn.

I learn that sometimes she misses her China Mommy even though she doesn't remember her. Sometimes she wants her China Mommy, but she wants me too. I learn that sometimes it's okay just to be sad for a while. I learn that hugs are really great.

I've been debating of turning this love of individualized teaching to teaching in front of a classroom and I'm not sure. Until I am though, I like what is happening now. I like helping the kids through frustrations and I become hopeful that they will make the world they inherit better.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Microblog Monday - Amazing Grace

No, I'm not going to start singing.

I have a good voice and it's a fine if over-sung song but that's not what today is about.

Yesterday there was an award show. The Oscars.

At the end of the award show--the Best Picture award, the most prestigious one, was mistakenly given to La La Land instead of to Moonlight.  People rushed onstage and after some awkwardness (best shown here) things were straightened out and Moonlight got to take its deserved victory lap.

I've attached a (not very good) video here.

The most extraordinary part comes around 3:19.  Jordan Horowitz has announced that there has been a mistake. Jimmy Kimmel tries to joke around things and Jordan Horowitz, like the adult he is, said "I'm going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight."


When you think of our political discourse and how it would take a ladder to raise it to the sewer.  To see this grace in the face of horrible disappointment--well it makes me proud. It makes me proud that these artists can remain friends.  It makes me proud that there is still such amazing grace in people.

Bravo Moonlight.
Bravo La La Land

Bravo Jordan Horowitz.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Microblog Monday - We have something in common. We can build on this.

Hey Trump Voters.

I'm not going to ask you how you feel about your choice.
If you're happy and you think he's doing wonderful things and you like the idea of the United States being a part of Russia--nothing I say is going to change your mind. Nothing you say is going to change my mind and the best we can do is wish each other a great day and start talking about the Mets. (I'm really liking their chances this year--just saying.)

But maybe there is someone out there who voted for Trump who is maybe not feeling too happy about their choices. Maybe we can talk.

In the words of David Addison of Moonlighting.

Hey--let's talk about books. Me? I read left to right--how about you?
And when I'm in temple I read right to left--you?

We have something in common. We can build on this.

Let's talk about eating. I like to eat.
I have food allergies. Do you know someone who has food allergies?

We have something in common. We can build on this.

Let's get deep and talk about sex.
Who would have guessed it! I like sex too!
I think everyone should have plenty of sex with whoever it is that they love.

We have something in common. We can build on this.

I'm not talking about people on the far right and far left-- they are forgetting that there are more people in the middle. I am in the middle. I want to talk to others in the middle.

If we don't--that is when America will die.  It won't be because of the current President. It won't even be because of the current Congress  America will die because we forgot that the people on the right side of the aisle cries tears when they are hurt--the same way those on the left side of the aisle do.

I live in New Jersey. I love my child with every breath in my body.
I believe that the woman in Kansas loves her child with every breath in her body

I am a Jew and my religion fills something in my soul.
I believe that Muslims and Christians find something in their religions that fill something in their souls.

I am a woman and I am deeply in love with a man.
I believe that love is so deep that it transcends gender.

We have something in common. We can build on this. Let's start to try.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Microblog Monday - Trust Me

I'm going to start out by saying this is not what I mean to be writing about.

I planned to write about how parenting Lotus is both easier and harder now that she can assert her opinion.

Then I saw an article that a friend linked to on Facebook. Then another friend and another. It was a headline guaranteed to make me see red and start pounding at walls. Then I planned this whole other blog post about how terrible things are today with lawmakers trying to roll us back tot he stone-age.

Then I did my due diligence on the article.  No, I will not link to it. Because--it isn't completely true.  In fact it is mostly untrue.

Is the law talked about in the article reprehensible? Yes.
However, it isn't happening.

With 45's constant and consistent attempt to discredit the media and his reliance on news sites that is demonstrably untrue--though he doesn't see it or acknowledge it--it has been difficult to know where to trust.

I refuse to be like 45 and say "I heard." I have to back it up.  I have taken a page from Mel and trust a few news sources. But I also read other sources so I know what other people are talking about--and in this case, there is enough wrong stuff, it doesn't merit my linking to it. Moreover it doesn't merit my anger.

I miss being able to trust what I read on a news site. But unless it is in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, or NPR--I just can't. I trust these sources because I know how hard it is to meet their journalistic standard.

What news sources do you trust? And why do you trust them?

Monday, February 6, 2017

Why kids don't like to read - Microblog Monday

Since one of my contracts ended I have been making ends meet as a tutor.

I love it more than I thought possible.

One part of my tutoring is something I like to call reading counseling. Where I talk to the kid--most often 7th/8th grade boys and I match a book with their personality and keep trying until something sticks. I am very successful at this.

Tonight I was reading The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems to Lotus. She was giggling all over it--and I think I realized why kids are having so much trouble finding something to read.

We have collectively lost our sense of humor--and think kids should too.

Tell me, seriously, what was the last Newberry award winner where someone didn't die?  Or even if all the named characters made it through alive--was there humor?  Brown Girl Dreaming was beautiful--but it wasn't a happy story.

How do we expect kids to escape into books when the stuff in books is as depressing or more than what they are escaping from?

I know of some books that are fun and funny and escapist, but they are looked down on by teachers. Reading these books don't "count" as much. If you put the fun back in books--you'll have more people reading for fun.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Broadway music saved my life--now it is saving my sanity.

Broadway music saved my life.

More than once.

When I was in sixth grade I had a horrible teacher. Think Snape--except without the forgiving back story. I was depressed. I was suicidal.

My parents were fairly oblivious. I didn't think I could tell them anything.  But they knew I was unhappy. They sent me to my aunt and uncle for a week. Where my aunt and uncle saved my life.

They took me to a show. A national tour of Man of La Mancha. While I had seen several musicals--growing up in a suburb of New York City-- this was the first one I climbed in and lived in. After that, no conversation was had without me bringing up Man of La Mancha. Which was my favorite song today? Then I would play it over and over --rewinding the cassette a myriad of times (because of course I had it on cassette since MP3s were decades away). I memorized the entire book of the musical. I read Don Quixote (a fairly bad translation) when I was 12 years old. I read biographies of Don Miguel de Cervantes.  I took comfort from the fact that even when everyone laughed at Don Quixote and beat him and turned away from him--he still followed the Impossible Dream.  It made me believe that I could go on and do it to.

I got through the rest of the school year. I think part of it was that I told my aunt some of the stuff my teacher said and things got better at home. Things got better.

I'm in a dark place lately. I want to just hold on to my daughter because she makes me laugh. She hugs me and makes me comfortable in a world that has grown increasingly uncomfortable. I then thought of what I used to do when I was uncomfortable and I thought of Man of La Mancha. Got the CD and listened to it. '

And today, today, it is helping me go on. Helping me say that I can follow the quest. No matter how hopeless, no matter how far.

Below is Brian Stokes Mitchell in what I would say is the best version of this.
I will strive with my last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable stars.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Microblog Monday - Defying belief

I am a Jew.
I am now hated by the person who is commander in chief.
   Don't think to tell me about how his son-in-law is Jewish and his daughter is a Jewish by choice. If the President really cared about jews he would not have made a Nazi his chief advisor.

I am scared.
I am terrified.

I am holding my child close because I worry that someone will say she is an undocumented immigrant.

I am encouraged by the protesting.  there was no organized German Resistance to Hitler.

I am encouraged that I am not alone.

I am scared however that one man will destroy in less than four years what took over 225 years to build.

Friday, January 20, 2017

It's done then

He is now the 45th president of the United States.

I didn't watch.

I will be marching tomorrow unless Lotus' sneezes turn into a full-blown cold.

I will  be fighting for health care. I will be contacting my congressperson. I will be making big fusses.

I don't plan to go away.

I am frightened. I am scared. I am furious.

But I'm here.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Microblog Monday - My Real Grandmother

Lotus is named after my grandmother.  My father's mother.

I adored her. I looked up to her--even though by the time I was 14 I was taller than her.  When I spoke of my grandmother, I meant her.

But I met both of my grandmothers. I met my mother's mother. She taught me how to bless the candles on Friday nights. She put dots of honey on my fingers and after I said some of the words right I would lick my fingers. She would read Torah stories to me. I remember her scent.

Grandma G. passed when I was around 7. I remember the funeral vividly. I remember my mother ripping a black ribbon as it was pinned to her suit. I remember that so well that when I was at my own mother's funeral, I flashed back to that day and broke down. It became real then.

But this isn't about my mom--or not really.

I came across a cache of pictures of my mother's parents.  I never met my maternal grandfather, he died before I was born. My then 42 year old mother thought that her missed periods and nausea was extended mourning. She went to the doctor and was declared 4 months pregnant.

There are several pictures of me with my grandmother. But the picture that stopped me cold was a picture of both of my maternal grandparents--taken not long before my grandfather's death.  In it my grandfather is smiling adoringly at my grandmother and she has--an almost shy smile on. It's the smile of a woman who loves the man she is with. It is a beautiful picture of two people very much in love.

I realized that while I had met my maternal grandmother--I didn't know her. Not because I was a child, but because so much of her died with my grandfather. This woman, with the shy, loving smile, this was my grandmother. The one my mother wept for. The one my mother knew.

Lotus met my mother but knew her less than a year. Afterwards my father had a lady friend who slipped effortlessly into the role and Lotus loves her. She knows and loves my father. He is Papa. He can't count. Every time he asks Lotus to give him three kisses he counts "one, one, one, one" He makes her giggle.

Today, I was looking through more pictures and I saw a picture of my father smiling so broadly with my mother in his arms smiling back. This is a lovely picture. I sucked in my breath as I realized I was staring at my real father. The complete one, the one with my mom at his side. No matter how long my father lives, Lotus will never know this man. My father, when he was complete.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Aunt and Uncle

I believe in reincarnation. I believe that some people have been in our lives for many lifetimes.

Here I talk about my Aunt and Uncle.  I'll just call them Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Phil. Both teachers--down to the bone. My uncle taught music. One of his students was Donna Summer with whom he exchanged birthday cards until her death. Her death took my Uncle Phil by surprise--and hit him hard. No teacher wants to outlive his students.

My aunt taught history. She still does when she can.

Both of them outlived younger sisters. Their last trip on a plane was to bury my mother.

They have been married for 73 years.  No typo.

They are 96 and 97 respectively.

And they are dying.

They taught me how to live without children, and it makes me feel terrible that once we had Lotus my contact with them wasn't as frequent.  Part of that was--well parenting.  Part of it was that my Aunt Phyllis would time travel in her head.  Most often she knew who I was when I called, but we were always about to get Lotus.  And my mother was alive.  Hearing Aunt Phyl talk about her in the present tense broke stuff in me.

I believe in reincarnation. I believe that when they leave this earth they will wait for me and we will be born again together.

But right now, I just hope that if there is a merciful Gd, he will take them together.

And I hope that they will hang on until I get out there to hug them, one more time.