Archive for February, 2010

Brian and I often say our lives would make a good sitcom. Take today, for instance, when we were in our local grocery store getting a few snacks for the Canada vs. USA Olympic hockey game. (Yay, Canada! What a close and exciting game!!)

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a health food freak. My husband is on board for the most part, but sometimes he wants to eat something that baffles my mind. Like today in aisle 4 when he spotted some frosted cookies and decided he had to have them.

Now those particular cookies might as well be a bunch of cancer cells as far as I’m concerned so I tried to talk him out of the idea, but he was having none of it. I swear that I spoke gently at first… saying that if he loved me and wanted to see his children grow up he needed to hand over the cookie bag. But he didn’t seem to be hearing me, maybe because he was laughing so hard, but regardless, his mitts were glued to that bag and I had no choice but to try and wrestle it from him while explaining a little louder why I had to do this. It was a bit of scene, the two of us wrestling over a cookie bag in the middle of aisle 4, scaring people. Seriously, shoppers would start down the aisle and rethink the decision once they spotted what looked like a crazed wife wrestling a cookie bag from a husband who had tears streaming down his face but really wasn’t crying.

In the end, we compromised and he got some crappy ice cream treat equally as dangerous. I can’t even bear to say what it is. Hurts too much.

We laughed all the way home.

Remember the sitcom Mad About You? We’re a bit like that, only weirder.

Meanwhile, I watched my first hockey game in years today. I figured I’d have to return my Canadian citizenship if I didn’t join in solidarity with my fellow Canucks and watch the most important hockey game in recent history. There isn’t one Canadian –except perhaps for my mother — that wasn’t glued to that game today. I think my brother Alex needed Zanax to get through it.

I forgot how intense hockey is — take your eyes off the game for a moment and you might miss a crucial play. That is, if you can keep you eyes on the puck. Once I got hit in the head with a puck while sitting in the stands. Those things don’t tickle. Fortunately I was wearing a thick wool hat.

I’m a terrible sports fan because I always feel bad for the team that’s losing, no matter who they are. This time, Canada just had to win — it’s their own game on their own soil at their own Olympics. Plus, it’s just nice when the United States doesn’t dominate in everything. I love my adopted country… but every now and then it’s nice when somebody else comes out on top. Like my good ol’ home nation. Canada is one big beer fest tonight.


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Thinking about privacy

I’ve been thinking a lot about privacy issues on the internet for some time — it’s a big topic.

I do love the internet — it’s opened up all kinds of blessings and possibilities. It’s also an integral part of my work and will become even more so in the future. But there are important issues to wrestle with when it comes to being in the virtual world.

A few things inspired me to put these thoughts down; most recently a blog post by a mom who’s struggling in the early days of bringing home her adopted son. Her language was honest and crass, and her emotions were raw and freely shared. It sparked a little controversy on one of the adoption boards. Almost everyone seemed to respect the experience and feelings of this mother, but a few didn’t understand how she could write what she did about her new son. To me, what was really at the center of the issue was what should (and shouldn’t) be shared on a public blog.  And the fact is, people draw their lines in different places.

The internet has a deceptive quality. It feels quite private and personal — we usually write in the milieu of our own personal spaces, forgetting that once we hit “send” or “publish” or whatever it may be, we no longer have control over that information.

These days I visit many “mommy blogs” — some very famous ones.  I find some of them amusing, funny, helpful, and inspiring. Sometimes, they cross lines (in my view) — particularly when it comes to how they depict their children. When kids are used as a main prop of their blogger-parent’s platform, I cringe a bit inside. I know these bloggers love their kids, but I wonder how many of them have thought through the ramifications of what they write and show?

Adults get to decide for the most part what they want to put out into the big world about themselves. Children don’t. What will it be like for them to grow up having many of their foibles, tantrums, quirks, and milestones available for strangers to read? To know that important moments of their lives were made public? To read that their presence or behaviors caused anguish, pain and distress to their parents?

Maybe it won’t matter because the children of today won’t grow up with the same perceptions of privacy. Given the internet and modern technologies, they’ll be used to not having any; they won’t know any different.

But maybe it will bother them. Maybe it will cause them pain. Maybe they’ll resent having no choices about what was shown and told about them by the very people who were supposed to protect them. And maybe therapists will have lines out the door.

Raising these questions makes me a little uncomfortable. I remember struggling with this before I even started this blog, and I continue to think about what kind of presence I want my children and family to have in cyberspace. I want to draw the line in the right place while still using the internet as a tool for communication and expression.

I love bloggers who are honest and real. I love reading about kids and their lives — and seeing their adorable pictures. I love learning about the joys and struggles of parenthood. The challenge is how to make sure it doesn’t become all about me, to make sure I put my kids’ interests first and that I’m always careful about protecting their dignity and privacy. I hope I can strike the right balance.

In the end, each of us has to draw these lines for our own family. As parents, it’s our responsibility.

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I’ve been meaning to post this video for a week. It’s a 3 minute window into the life and training of Ethiopian Winter Olympics athlete, Robel  Teklemariam. It was fun to see a few quick shots of Addis Ababa in the background. I didn’t get to see Teklemariam ski; he wasn’t in the top contenders for medals. But he says he wanted his Olympic racing to primarily  encourage young Ethiopians to consider winter sports.  Enjoy…

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The outside upper part of my left arm is a bit sore today. We had the first of our three Hepatitis B shots.

The vaccine, plus the visit to Passport Health, totaled about $250. At this rate, we’re going to need to win the lottery.

Our insurance, great in most respects, doesn’t cover travel vaccines. They don’t even cover something like Hep B, which is required in the U.S. for anyone working in the health or educational fields.  The Hep B shot alone ends up totaling $240 for each of us. Seems crazy.

Given the cost, we have to think hard about what vaccines to get. Some are more important than others. We’re due for certain boosters as adults, but not sure we can — or even want — to do so many vaccines in a short time. I’d really like to consult with someone. Our primary care doc doesn’t know much about this stuff, and most medical people just say to get them all. I’d like to speak with someone who’s not a vaccine pusher, but knows a lot of about infectious disease. Maybe that’s asking too much.

Today at the clinic was such a typical experience for me. I’d done all the research about which vaccines are recommended for Ethiopia and we had titers taken and we knew what we wanted to get today. But rather than evaluate our level of awareness or information, the nurse spent over an hour going over stuff we already know, explaining things we already researched. It’s not that I expect her to read our minds, but I like to be treated as an individual and not a number.

I’m grateful we don’t have to deliberate getting the Yellow Fever vaccine. It’s the riskiest one. We had it seven years ago when we were preparing for a trip to the Ecuadoran rainforest. We also had one Hepatitis A shot, but never had the second one. We still have immunity, but it could run out so they recommend we get the second one. We had Diptheria-Tetanus then, too, but they recommend a booster. And then there’s the ones we’ve never had:  Typhoid Fever, Meningitis, Polio booster, and more. Ugh, is all I can say.

We were looking at the infectious disease maps and pretty much everything is in Ethiopia. Thankfully, I hear of very few parents coming back with anything but intestinal illnesses. The children will be tested once they’re home to see what they’re immune to, but also to make sure they don’t carry anything that would put family and friends at risk. I’ve heard of children carrying Hep A and giving it to relatives. Kids often don’t get sickened by it, but  it’s not fun for adults.

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I find a lot of helpful things on adoptive boards and blogs.

Here’s a post by an adoptive mom who writes about her adoption of siblings six month’s later. I like her honesty.

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The difference a verb makes

I had what I guess could be called an A-ha moment today. You know, one of those times when something dawns on you for the first time or in a new way.

I participated in an interesting conversation on an adoption discussion board. One of the moms asked how other parents handle discussing adoption with their children, and with strangers. Another mom wrote something in her comments that struck me:

“Adoption is an event, something that happened, but not the entire identity of my child.”

This reminded me just how important language is. When you say “I was adopted,” it makes it an event that happened in the past, something that’s part of your story, but not all of it.  But when you say “I am adopted,” it makes it a state of being, something you are. I think this is an important distinction.

I want to make sure adoption is not the major thing we highlight, but something we acknowledge as part of our child’s (and our family’s) story. Sure, there are unique joys and challenges of being a family through adoption, but mostly, we’ll just be another family.

Our children come to us by birth or by adoption, but then they’re just our children, simple as that.

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You Go Girl.

Is it just me or would this actually be really helpful in Ethiopia??

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