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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Shameless Plug...

Okay, a little shameless professional plug. I've got a new gig writing a weekly blog on the multiples area of MomLogic.

When the editor contacted me a few weeks ago, the caller ID identified Warner Brothers. I flipped out (I mean, don't some famous people make movies for Warner Brothers? Like, had they seen me in all my glory in Target and determined I was the "next big thing?").

I then deflated upon realizing it was probably a telemarketing scheme. Then, for some crazy reason, I answered. When it became clear that the woman on the other end actually wanted to speak to me about something other than whether or not I could contribute $10, I had to do a fast and furious online lookup of the sign language sign for Shut. It. Down. so that I could communicate that message to my kids, who were screaming at me and each other right outside my office door as I tried to communicate, "Yes, that sounds lovely. I'd love to be involved. Yes, you're correct, I do have it all together."

Okay, so she didn't say she thought I had it all together, but it was fun to pretend that she (okay, anyone) said that. Just for a second. Just sayin'.

MomLogic
is a site geared toward moms, obviously, but it's got a bit more of an edge than, say, Babyzone or BabyCenter (which, for the record, I like a lot and occasionally write for as well). It's more "what's it really like?" than "It's harder than hell but I'm going to write in a way that makes it seem easier than Tiddlywinks."

I often write about how to do things with twins/multiples; I think that kind of advice is important and empowering. At the same time, motherhood isn't always the pinstripes and pinafores and bubbles blowing in the wind we envision when we first see the little blip on ultrasound. So I'm excited to be able to publicly explore the "other side" of it all.

What do you think? If you think it rocks, post a comment under the entry on MomLogic. Pretend you don't know me (even if you really don't know me). If you hate it, there's no need to post a comment. Really, there isn't.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Little Miss Fantastic's Room

video

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thoughts...and Not-So-Much Thoughts...

I love funny people. I found this fantastic piece the other day by a woman in the midst of an Ethiopian adoption and oh-so-honest about some of the feelings she's had. For the record, the fact that she used the word "asshole" so brilliantly really endeared her to me.

Here is the entry


Some of what she said resonated so true with me. I've often wondered, "Instead of bringing a child out of her culture, why don't we do more FOR her culture so that she can stay there?" I haven't yet completely reconciled this.

Interestingly, it's been 2 weeks since we accepted our referral and two things have happened that have stopped me in my tracks.

First, I had my first experience with someone asking if I had any kids "of my own." I mentioned to a woman who worked in The Children's Place that I was going to Africa because I know they keep 99-cent items in the back and I wanted some of them! Long story short, I explained that we were adopting a baby girl, and the woman asked, "Oh - do you have any of your own?"

Now, having twins, I'm used to all the crazy questions, including "Are your twins the kinds that have different fathers?" because they look so different. Lovely. And I know what this woman meant, and that she meant NO harm by it. She just didn't know how to properly phrase her question. But as I jumped to answer, "Yes," I shopped short and said, "I have four biologically." Do I think she heard what I was really saying? No. But that's okay. As it is with twins and strangers' questions and comments, I'm sure it's only just the beginning.

Second, my sweet friend Julie Beeler asked me recently, "So, are you, like, looking at her picture all day long?" and then I read of a family wondering if their baby was cold or teething or playing or sleeping or whatnot. I sat there and I realized, "I am an asshole of a mother." (There, did I use it as brilliantly?)

Because, no, I don't stare at her picture all day long and I haven't even thought about whether or not she's cold, teething, etc."

First of all, I know she's wanting for nothing. The special mothers at the orphanage are beyond amazing. I don't wonder about whether she's teething because she's 8 weeks old and last time I checked, 8-week-olds aren't yet even thinking about thinking about teething.

I don't wonder what she's doing because it doesn't do any good to do that. I don't stare at her picture all day because it makes me anxious about when we can go get her.

I also am a bit busy with four kids and a million business things and that is such a blessing right now because it's helping the time sort of go by more quickly.

But I think I'm not an asshole of a mother because I know that she is always in my heart. In my heart, I have 5 children. I work on her room a little more every day. I find fantastic stuff online and in the stores (much to David's dismay) to buy her. I plan for what we'll do when she gets here instead of worrying what she's doing without me/us. I look to the future.

And when her picture "accidentally" pops up on my computer screen (because I'm an idiot and I hit the wrong buttons all the time) I fall in love all over again.

I know she's okay where she is. And I know she'll come home. And I know that the long-term answer to the issues in Ethiopia is something I hope to forever be apart of.

So there, I've answered my own questions, pulled my feet out of the mud, and trudged on.

Friday, June 13, 2008

For Michael and Heather, Part Deux



As promised, it's Michael's turn. Where does one begin? Here is an introductory list of all things fabulous about Uncle Michael.

1. Michael does this thing where, when he talks to you, he says your name all the time. Like, he won't just say, "You know, the thing is...," he'll say, "You know, Liz, the thing is..." I realized one day that NOBODY (in my world) does this and it's so great. It makes you feel like he's not just talking, but actually talking TO YOU consciously. I talk "unconsciously" all the time. I never stop talking. So this made me so aware of how I talk to other people and I try to use their name as often as I can in conversation.

2. He genuinely wants to know other people's names. In the grocery store, for instance. He doesn't check out and say, "Thank you" to the cashier. He says, "Thank you MIKE." So now I try to do this more, too. Because the cashier is a person, and "a person's a person, no matter how small" (said Horton). And no, I'm not insinuating that cashiers are small, so please don't send me a nasty comment about that.

3. He came over one Sunday and said, "Heather and I want to take the kids on a bike ride and up to get ice cream." I seriously almost felt his head to see if he was really sick. They took the kids, and David and I sat in separate rooms either working or watching football. Very romantic. Michael and Heather even did this activity AGAIN after the first time! I'd already selected them as godparents at this point, but this little gesture definitely sealed the deal as to their worthiness (and craziness).

4. I've never met a man so in love with his wife. It's really quite gross. He rarely calls her "Heather," in fact. He has all kinds of pet names for her, one of which is Tooter which I laugh at every time because, as those of you with boys know, "Tooter" is not necessarily a kind reference. When we had known each other for a bit, I asked how long they'd been married, sure that he'd say, like, two weeks. When he said almost 11 years I almost passed out. They're the ultimate.

5. Michael also has fantastic sayings such as, "I'm just saying" and "bad news bears" and my new all-time favorite (because I can't stop saying it), "off the hook." So, if I constantly tell any of you that something is "off the hook" and it gets you crazy, blame Michael.

6. He's extraordinarily diplomatic.

7. He's also a bit crazy, which helps balance the diplomacy. Like, he recently mentioned something about maybe wanting a second property in Panama. Panama!

8. He's not embarrassed to shout downstairs (okay, so he didn't know I was there), "Honey, I'm in the tub!" (For clarity, he was just informing her, not inviting her.)

9. He won't stop singing that song, "I'm going to write you a love song.." by Sara Bareilles which means no one around here can stop singing it either. I'm actually a bit annoyed with him over this one. It's in YOUR head now, too, isn't it? It won't leave anytime soon, either. Sorry.

10. He's not afraid to go on vacation with our family. It takes a big person, a saint as I previously mentioned, to be this brave. Now, they've only done it once, but we're keeping our fingers crossed for a repeat performance.

In short, the two of them together are sickeningly fabulous. And as it was with Heather's list, this is an unexhaustive one. Is unexhaustive a word? If it isn't, it is now. Who's this Webster guy anyway?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

For Michael and Heather

It is now time to write a post dedicated to the two greatest people on earth - Michael and Heather (now Aunt Heather and Uncle Michael to Little Miss Fantastic -- and likely the rest of our clan as well).

I simply cannot say enough fantastic things about these two. But I'll try. And this post will focus on Heather --- or Heather Together, as I call her.

Heather and I have only known each other for about 10 months. But I swear, it's like I've known her for 20 years. Not even kidding. She's unbelievable. She and Michael can NEVER move (they live right across the street) or we're outta here. And that won't make me happy cuz I love it here.

Here is an incomplete list of fabulous things about Heather Together:

1. She's so unbelievably together. She's a total rule-follower at heart, so of course, I completely get that.

2. She's VERY smart.

3. She knows all there is to know about the political realm and the people behind it which is fantastic because I know zero about this area and she doesn't laugh at me when I ask her what GOP stands for or, well, I won't put anymore examples here because if I did you might conclude that I really am an idiot.

4. She knows all kinds of "weird" things. Like, she'll mention some random and interesting tidbit about something that happened in the 1800s or something --- something pretty much no one else on earth knows.

5. She's an avid vintage "stuff" collector. Her entire house is vintage. She probably uses vintage toilet paper. It's ridiculous. I go into her house and I just want to buy things.

6. She's the bravest person I know.

7. She has never, and I mean NEVER said an unkind thing about anyone (and we've discussed some folks/situations that I thought definitely lent themselves to an unkind word or two, but I ended up uttering them for her and me alike).

8. She is AMAZING with our kids. She has the patience of a saint. And it takes a lot of patience.
It pretty much takes a saint. Maybe I should call her Mother Heather.

9. She is ridiculously modest.

10. She has crazy sayings (which I've adopted) like, "Easy peasy" and "Smartie" and "Simple Simon." Like, things aren't easy, they are "easy peasy" or "simple simon." And whenever anyone says anything even remotely intelligent, she'll say, "There you go smartie!" I particularly appreciate this because I feel less intelligent by the second.

11. She's gotten me to appreciate biographies, autobiographies, and all things historical. I pretty much can guarantee I'll never pick up another "fluff" book again.

12. She's gotten me to SO appreciate the color green!

13. She's totally and completely honest --- in a very respectful way.

14. She's never made me feel guilty about my Starbucks habit because hers is worse.

That list is completely just the beginning. But some things I simply must keep to myself! Plus, if I say too much more everyone will clamor for her. Kind of like a great babysitter. You have to keep some of the info close to your chest (or whatever the phrase is - something to do with cards, poker I think - I should ask Heather. She'll know.)

Tomorrow, I will dedicate my post too all things Michael. So stay tuned.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Awareness: Part 2

Clearly, I'm on an awareness kick right now. This isn't terribly like me. But I think that for those close to us, this sort of awareness sheds light on some of the meaning behind our journey.

After seeing a documentary like this, I look at our four children and, for a split second, I imagine one of them being an orphan. Once you have children, most parents can tell you that every awful story you hear on the news or read in the papers involving children (which is why I don't watch the news or read the papers, rendering me slightly stupid at this point), almost subconsciously you imagine your own children in such a predicament. It's such a painful experience that I quickly move on to another thought. If I don't, I'll lose my mind. There should be NO orphans in this world. And while we can't solve the problem for all 143,000,000 of them, we can solve it for one and we feel blessed and honored to be granted the privelege and responsibility of doing so.

I honestly do not believe that adoption is the long-term solution to these issues. It is SURELY the short-term solution (or, at least, one of them). The long-term solution is to ensure that everyone everywhere is self-sufficient. That everyone is given the tools and the knowledge to be self-sufficient in their environment. Surely, that is everyone's God-given right. And surely, what those tools in place, this number (143,000,000) can be reduced.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

We Have a Baby, Baby!

Well, folks, after 21 weeks (and change) on the waitlist, we've officially accepted the referral of a BEAUTIFUL 6-week-old baby girl. We received the referral yesterday, but because she has a minor medical condition, we wanted to take some time to consult with different doctors to ensure that we were prepared to accommodate any needs she might have related to her condition.

I cannot tell you how weird this is. David just called and he said, "Wow. It happened so fast!" I said, "Excuse me? What land have YOU been living in?" He meant that one minute we were still waiting and the next we had this beautiful baby to plan for.

So, now we wait for travel. But honestly, even though I'm dying to get to her, 5 months on the Guatemala list and 21 weeks on the Ethiopia list? I think I can handle the next little bit (I hope).

More soon!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Awareness

I'm not the type of person who waves my "this is my cause" flag super high. I do what I do, support what I support, and that's that. But this story is really too important not to share.

I remember when I first learned about the people of Ethiopia, the children, who were starving. I don't remember exactly how old I was. But I remember the constant images of children with bloated bellies from malnutrition. The flies everywhere. The dumps.

Then, at some point, those images ceased to fill the television screens and the newspapers. And, here in our society where we do almost everything in excess, most of us (including myself) forgot. We forgot that somewhere, on the other side of the world, people were starving to death because, in a country so dependent on agriculture, there was no available food source. We forgot that people were living an existence that we could not fathom in our wildest nightmares.

I read a story like this (which was on CNN a few weeks ago) and I realize that this poor mother has no place to go to find help for her child. There is no food whatsoever. Her 3-year-old daughter weighs little more than my fourth child did at birth. It's simply inexcusable.

I don't know what the solution is. But what I do know is that "out of sight out of mind" is not okay. We need to see these images. We need to read these stories. We need to be reminded of this travesty. And we need to ask ourselves how we can help these people. There is power in numbers. And the numbers of people living this type of existence in our daughter's birth country --- living this type of existence ANYWHERE --- is not okay.


SHANTO, Ethiopia (AP) -- This year's poor rains have nearly killed Bizunesh.

art.starvation.ap.jpg

Bizunesh is 3 and weighs less than 10 pounds. "There is nothing ... I beg for milk," her mother says.

The rangy 3-year-old weighs less than 10 pounds, or 4 kilograms. Her long limbs, weak and folded like a praying mantis, cannot carry even her slight weight. She cannot speak. She doesn't want to eat. Health officials say she is permanently stunted.

Bizunesh -- whose name, sadly, means "plentiful" -- is one of untold numbers of children hit by this year's double blow of a countrywide drought and skyrocketing global food prices that has brought famine, once again, to Ethiopia.

"She should be bigger than this," said her mother Zewdunesh Feltam, rocking the listless child. "Before there was maize, different kinds of food. But now there is nothing ... I beg for milk from my neighbors."

The U.N. children's agency said in a statement Tuesday an estimated 126,000 Ethiopian children urgently need food and medical care because of severe malnutrition -- and called the crisis "the worst since the major humanitarian crisis of 2003."

The U.N. World Food Program estimates that 2.7 million Ethiopians will need emergency food aid because of late rains -- nearly double the number who needed help last year. An additional 5 million of Ethiopia's 80 million people receive aid each year because they never have enough food, whether harvests are good or not.

In Shanto, the crisis is vivid. A feeding center run by the Irish charity GOAL has admitted 73 starving children in the past month.

Some, like Bizunesh, are frail and skeletal. Others, like 4-year-old Eyob Tadesse, have grossly swollen limbs in a sign of extreme malnutrition.

Eyob, whose mother said he used to be a lively, talkative child, sat in a stupor, unable to speak, not moving even to brush away the flies that swarmed all over his face. The sunny room humid with a recent, too late, rain shower was made gloomy by an eerie silence despite being full of sick children. Chronic malnutrition can affect children for life, stunting their growth, brain development and immune systems, which leaves them vulnerable to a host of illnesses.

Many mothers said their families were trying to survive on a gluey, chewy bread made of the root of the "false banana" plant -- one of many wild or so-called famine foods that Ethiopians depend on in times of trouble.

It's not known how many children have died or are starving now. Local and international aid and health workers say between 10 and nearly 20 percent of Ethiopia's children are malnourished -- 15 percent is considered a critical situation. In 2006, Ethiopia had 13.4 million children under the age of five, according to UNICEF.

In Shanto, a southwestern agricultural area that grows sweet potatoes, recent rains arrived too late to save the harvest.

Samuel Akale, a nutritionist with the government's disaster prevention agency, said the hunger will get worse. "The number of severely malnourished will increase, and then they'll die."

WFP officials say the drought has affected six of Ethiopia's nine regions, stretching from Tigray in the north to the vast and dry Somali region in the south, though not every part of every region is affected.

Spokesman Greg Beals said the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is preparing an appeal for additional tens of millions of dollars.

"This is a real crisis that needs to be addressed," he said.

Ethiopia is a country with a history of hunger. It escalated to notoriety in 1984 when a famine compounded by communist policies killed some 1 million people. Pictures of stick-thin children like Bizunesh were broadcast onto television sets around the world.

This year's crisis is mild in comparison. But drought and chronic hunger persist in Ethiopia, a Horn of Africa nation known for its coffee, a major export. In 2003, droughts led 13.2 million people to seek emergency food aid. Drought in 2000 left more than 10 million needing emergency food.

Drought is especially disastrous in Ethiopia because more than 80 percent of people live off the land, and agriculture drives the economy, accounting for half of all domestic production and 85 percent of exports. But many also go hungry because of government policies. Ethiopia's government buys all crops from farmers at fixed low prices. And the government owns all the land, so it cannot be used as collateral for loans.

Aid agencies say emergency intervention is not enough and are appealing for more money to support regular feeding programs.

"What we're doing at the moment is waiting until children get severely malnourished, taking them into the feeding program, getting them back to a level of moderate malnutrition and then watching them cycle back," said Hatty Newhouse, a nutrition adviser from GOAL.

There are fears that the next harvest also will fail.

"We are crying with the mothers and the children," said Akale, the nutritionist.

Monday, June 2, 2008

NUMERO UNO!

Okay, we're FINALLY number one! I can hardly stand the suspense. Keep checking on us, folks, it could be any day now!

And, incidentally, if anyone has a clue how to save an image off a site when you're on a mac, please let me know. I'm ready to do away with the whole apple concept forever.

:) (I'd put a real happy face, but I don't know how to download it off the stock exchange website onto my mac, remember?)