Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dear Dawn,

Ask and ye shall receive! Some new photos:

I love my exersaucer!

At the African Festival a couple of weekends ago at ASU
(the boys were off watching the hip hop dancers and Grace was trying to find
a temporary tattoo design that cost less than $10)

George at his school's field trip to a pumpkin patch (which is so NOT like
a pumpkin patch back east!)
George, Nina, and I at George's field trip

Growing and Car Ride Conversations

Nina had her 6-month checkup yesterday. She's huge. 18 lbs (90th percentile), 27 1/2 inches (also 90th percentile). Completely perfect (but we already knew that). She'd roll from one end of the house to the other if you let her and is starting to form actual sounds (other than screaming or spitting everywhere).

So the other day I was driving the kids to school. Here's the conversation that ensued.

Henry: You know what Mom?

Liz: What Henry

Henry: Some of the girls in my class? Well, they think I'm hot.

Liz: (trying to remain calm) Henry, what does that mean exactly?

Henry: It means they think I'm cute and handsome and they want to be my girlfriend

Jack: And when a girl is hot, it means she's pretty and gorgeous.

Liz: Uh-huh. Can we just say people are pretty or cute? Can we not use the word 'hot?'

Henry: No. I'm hot. That's what they said.

Liz: Uh-huh. Henry, do you have a girlfriend? Because the last time I asked you said 'Absolutely not!'

Henry: Yeah, I have a few.

Liz: A few? How about one. I really think it's polite to have only one at a time.

Henry: Okay. Well then I pick Tiffany.

Liz: Why Tiffany?

Henry: Because she has big front teeth like I do.

Liz: Uh-huh. It's important to choose someone with whom you have something in common.

Jack: Well, I still have 6 or 7 girlfriends. And I'm not going to have just one. I mean, I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

Always the sensitive one....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Okay, I was tagged by Trendy Mindy. And thank you, Mindy, because this tagging thing has been going on for weeks and I was beginning to feel left out.

I'm supposed to post 7 interesting/random facts about myself. I'm not real interesting, so this could take the rest of the year.

1. I am thrifty to the core when it comes to clothing. If it doesn't cost less than $10 I won't buy it. This is because I simply KNOW that within a few weeks, almost any item in any store will be reduced to less than $10. Nordstrom's items, kids' shoes, and my every-other-year pair of UGGS are the exceptions.

2. I'm an aspiring gardener. This dream was enhanced after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I'd love to grow everything we eat (except for meat, obviously) in our backyard. The problem is that I do not have a green thumb. Or even a yellow thumb. I planted 28 varieties of seeds two weeks ago and only 3 varieties are sprouting. But that's better than last season. I also recently purchased a composter. But it's not working either. It's just a bin full of stuff that won't compost. I've done more research on composting than I have on why kids whine. Still not working.

3. I am incapable of finishing one book before I purchase (and begin) another. It's an illness. I'm presently reading about five. It stalls any feeling of real accomplishment in my life.

4. I am in love with koala bears. If I could go back and do it all again, I'd be a speech therapist or a zoologist working with the koalas. Or the dolphins. Though I think marine biologists work with dolphins. The mere fact that I don't know indicates that I haven't the brains to be one.

5. The cold hard reality is that I couldn't do either of the above because I could not pass Bio 101. I didn't even take Physics in high school because there was a very rational fear on the part of my parents, teachers, and myself that it might prevent me from graduating (and that was after I narrowly escaped accidentally blowing up the school in chemistry).

6. I am positively terrified of snakes. Just the idea of them raises the hair on my arms. I recently touched one for the first time at a zoo event because the kids wanted me to and I thought it was the motherly thing to do. But it was awful. My next door neighbor accidentally kicked a 5-foot rattlesnake the other day on the sidewalk 500 feet from our house. I'm now afraid to go outside. I think I might become an agoraphobic.

7. I know next to nothing about U.S. history, politics, or geography. This is why I won't play Trivial Pursuit. I feel very uneducated after playing. I know a lot about OTHER countries, other countries' politics, geography, etc. Just not the U.S. I blame this on my social studies and history teachers as I believe that if they'd made it interesting enough I would have paid attention. But now, in my old age, I'm finding some of our country's history interesting enough that I'm proactively learning. I devoured the John Adams miniseries on HBO and I'm very slowly working my way through Don't Know Much About History (because I don't).

I now tag:
Karen Y.
Laurie H.
Nell Ann G.
Martha H.

You may already have been tagged by someone. But just go with it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Too Many Questions

First, I finally have a new blog post out on MomLogic. Check it out if you're interested; it does have to do with having a new baby in the house!

And now, on to my thoughts as of late...

I'm used to being asked a lot of questions. I'm used to having a lot of opinions thrown at me.

You see, in case you didn't know, when you have multiples, you are a bit of a freak show.

This makes perfect sense. I mean, there aren't many multiples in this country, so when people see them they go nuts.

Did you say, "Huh?" yet?

I thought so. Sorry. I got sarcastic for a second. There are TONS of multiples in this country. They are everywhere I look. I rarely go a day without seeing at least one set of twins while out and about (not counting the two sets at George's preschool alone). Celebrities are having them en masse, as though twins are the new Grammy or something.

When Jack and Henry were born 7 years ago, I could not go anywhere without being asked questions or being on the receiving end of some person's opinions when they learned I wasn't breastfeeding, wondered whether or not I'd ever thought of breastfeeding, or felt me up in Lowe's as they wondered whether or not my boobs were even large enough to feed two children to their respective points of satiety.

I learned to focus my eyes straight ahead and not make eye contact with anyone. When you make eye contact, you invite questions and comments. I'm very good at staring straight ahead.

I sometimes talked to myself, too, so I'd appear less than sane. No one wants to engage a less-than-sane person in a conversation. Unless they have infant twins with them. So sometimes I'd talk to myself and hum to make people really nervous.

I soon realized that, on a very small scale, I understood a bit what it must feel like to be a celebrity. Everywhere you go, someone wants something from you. In the celebrities' case, it's an autograph or a photo or some such thing. In my case, it was information on what position a couple must "do it" in to conceive multiples or how bad the C-section was (and when I mentioned that I didn't have a C-section, the conversation turned to how my va-jay-jay could ever have survived such an experience).

I simply could not go anywhere and do my thing invisibly.

Once Jack and Henry turned two or three, strangers stopped noticing us. And I noticed them not noticing. It made me sad for a while because by the time Jack and Henry were two, I needed people to notice me. Anyone. I had been living a very one-dimensional life with twins and a toddler for so long that I'd engage the pesky late-afternoon telemarketers and would have answered any question asked of me no matter how personal. I may have even willingly shown my boobs if asked nicely enough. I'd have done nearly anything for a little adult conversation.

Much of the public's sudden lack of attention likely stemmed from the fact that Jack and Henry look nothing alike, so most people didn't think they were twins. In fact, when I mentioned to folks that they were twins, I occasionally ended up in conversations that included a lot of "No, they really are," on my end. Like it was my job to convince people. But again, desperate times call for stupid debates.

I accepted that tooling around with two infant car seats is, apparently, just adorable. Tooling around with two screaming toddlers who look no more similar than next-door neighbors is, apparently, not.

I quickly got over the loss of strangers' affections and was glad to be able to go out and about again with anonymity.

I now realize that I'm back in that place. That place where I cannot leave the house without taking a deep breath and preparing for the onslaught of stares, questions, and comments.

And, the reality that these comments are likely to continue---possibly even increase---as Nina gets older, is not an idea about which I'm ambivalent.

I love that people are interested in Nina. I do. I'm very proud to be her mother. I love that most people think she's so beautiful. That they think she looks like "a doll." And some days, if one more person says, "She looks just like a doll. She really does. Honey, come here. Look at this doll...I mean baby...," I think I might lose it.

Some days, I just want to buy a freakin' squash. And some days, Nina just wants me to buy a freakin' squash and get the hell home. And some days, Nina's brothers and sister want everyone to stop making such a fuss over Nina so we can buy the freakin' squash and go home so they can play Wii and fight with each other some more.

Last week in California, I had Nina in a stroller in which she was forward facing. Big mistake. The beauty of having a baby facing you while riding in a stroller is that, to see her face, onlookers must stand where you're standing. Hence, you have an exit. When the child is facing forward, the strangers must stand RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU to see the child. And, most often, your only option to get away is to run them over.

I'm tired of being blockaded in the cereal aisle when I need to get to produce. Especially when the 4-year-old is holding a box of Apple Jacks and screaming, "PLEEEEEAAAAASE!!!!!" while the stranger is asking me why anyone would give away such a beautiful baby and not noticing (or caring) that I need her to get the hell out of the way before I (not to mention the 4-year-old) blow.

So after that particular stranger-of-the-moment moved on from "What happened to her birthparents?" to "She looks just like a doll," I had to politely say, "Yes, she does. And I've really got to get the doll's siblings and, thanks to you, this whopping box of Apple Jacks out of the store now. Have a great day!"


One day recently, Grace said, "Why does everyone pay so much attention to Nina?" I said, "Because she's a baby. Everyone loves a baby."

"Did everyone talk to me that much when I was a baby?" she asked.

"Yep!" I lied.

Again, I love that everyone is interested. I love the opportunity to show people a different side of Ethiopia from the swollen-bellied, fly-infested images they've seen over the TV for the last decade. I love to spread the word that there are many beautiful dolls---I mean children---in Ethiopia waiting for loving families who are willing to share their homes and their lives and their hearts (and, if they can get out of the grocery, a box of Apple Jacks and a freakin' squash to boot).

I do.

But I'll admit it. I'm waiting for a day when Nina can just be a daughter and a sister. When we can go out and be "just a normal family" trying to buy bushes or sheets or lunch. When Nina's not a walking advertisement (or a strolling advertisement, as the case actually is) or the focus of everyone's eyes and curiosity.

A day when I can point toward a faux Christmas tree in Lowe's and ask David WHY they have these things out in October when it's still 100 degrees in Phoenix without giving it my all to ignore, while being painfully aware of (and I do mean painfully), the fact that there are 3 pair of eyes intently focused on us as though we were Brangelina themselves.

I'm waiting for just. one. day. when I can run an errand...or two...or six...and just run the errand. Just Nina and me. Or Nina and me and Grace and Jack and Henry and George (because that's as many people as will fit in the car). A day when no one asks questions. No one points. No one says the word "doll." No one stands between my stroller and the produce aisle. No one mentions birthparents or AIDS or luck.

Just one day.

I'm not complaining. Really, I'm not.

I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Too Much Information

Thank you, Karen, who pointed out that I'd forgotten to post my newest best answer to "What happened to her birthparents?"

If you know me at all, you likely suspect that my answer may be something cunning and sarcastic. But that would be this case. I actually got this idea from someone locally and it happened to come in very handy about 48 hours after I learned of it.

Here's what you say: "You know, there's just a lot we don't know."

The reality is this: if you insinuate that you know ANYTHING, most people will assume that it is their inherent right to know all that you know. It's unbelievable and I wouldn't have believed it to be true if I hadn't seen it and heard it about 368,000 times in the last three months.

Saying that you met the birthmother is often the biggest mistake. When you acknowledge that you did, the questions come like a flood. To any questions you don't want to answer, or don't know the answer to, people will make assumptions. Out loud. I have found myself wanting to protect Nina's birthmother almost as often and as fiercely as I've found myself protecting Nina!

So, if asked by a stranger, I now won't even admit that I met the birthmother. Who cares? Nina will know the truth, and I know the truth, and that's all that matters.

If asked by a friend, I'll acknowledge that I met her and, depending on the depth of the friendship and the motivation behind the questions, there is information I may or may not reveal. But I can count on one hand the number of friends to whom I'd release this information.

If you open up about a bit of a child's history, people start to guess regarding the rest. Most of the time, you know they are guessing wrong, and you so badly want to correct them (because their guesses are almost always negative) but to correct them you'd have to mention that, in fact, you know more than you let on. So you're stuck in this awful situation with an idiot who you want to run over with your stroller, but most of you are too nice for that so, like I, you just stand there with this fake smile plastered on your face wondering what you can to do get out of the situation.

On at least one occasion, I've thought of saying, "Oh, I think my water just broke!" No, I'm not pregnant. But some of these folks are seriously so lacking in brain cells that this might work.

I'm going to try it soon.

It can be very hard to have people make assumptions about your child's life or family. People say, "Oh, her mom probably died of AIDS." Or, "Oh, how could anyone not WANT such a beautiful baby?"

And then I realize that these idiots will say these idiotic things right in front of Nina when she gets older. Trust me on this. I've seen it with our twins. Specifically on the day in an elevator when a woman asked me, in front of the 5-year-olds, which one was smarter.

20 seconds after exiting the elevator, I answered, "Smarter than you? Both of them honey!" but she was driving away by then. I'm never real quick on the trigger because I'm usually too much in shock to respond immediately. It's too bad because I've come up with some real doozies once folks are in their cars driving away.

Idiots are idiots and their idiot-ness knows no boundaries. I mean, if they are dumb enough to say something dumb to begin with, does anyone really think they are smart enough NOT to say it in front of the child (or children) to which they are referring?

They're not.

So, we now stick with, "You know, there's a lot we don't know." People don't know how to push you on this. If you don't know, you don't know. They'll make assumptions, but hopefully you'll be long gone by then.

I heard another story recently that further cemented my desire to tell very little about Nina's history. A local friend was at a fundraising event with her Ethiopian infant and an Ethiopian woman who lives in the area came up to them and was asking lots of questions about her daughter's history. The mom (my friend) was very open, thinking that because this woman was Ethiopian herself, she'd appreciate the information and it would make sense to her. Well, based on what the woman heard, she began making some assumptions. She then felt the hair of my friend's daughter and made further assumptions (silently). She then walked away mid-conversation and will not engage in conversation with them anymore.

My friend learned through another Ethiopian woman who was there that this particular woman was from one tribe in Ethiopia and, based on my friend's daughter's history and hair texture, this woman assumed she was from a different tribe (with which her tribe did not associate under any circumstances). My friend felt that, by saying what she'd said, she placed a big target on her daughter's back. In the interest of her daughter being able to connect with as many Ethiopians as she can here in the U.S., she's decided to say nothing about her history in order to protect her from being shunned, possibly based on a misinterpretation.

I realize Nina sort of stands out, but what makes people think that all of our children don't have some sort of fascinating story behind how they came to be a part of our family? Assumptions are simply never smart.

A woman said to Nina the other day (as though Nina can answer), "Oh my, and where are YOU from?" I so wanted to say, "Um, my uterus?" just to teach her not to make assumptions. But I refrained. Aren't I nice?

Nina has a story. Grace, Jack, Henry, and George have stories. We all have stories. It doesn't mean that everyone has a right (or a need) to know them.

Just because the fact that you have "a story" is made more obvious by the fact that you're a fantastically gorgeous African child with unbelievably fantastic hair being toted around by your less-than-gorgeous white mother with bad, bad hair does not mean that your story must be shared with every Tom, Dick, and Harry who passes by. Did I mention Dick?

And, as I've learned, some people suffer from a bit more than idle curiosity.

So, for many reasons, the most important of which being a child's privacy and right to be proud of who she is, I think that "You know, there's just so much we don't know" will be my answer of choice going forward.

Next, stay tuned for thoughts on TOO MANY QUESTIONS! (because, these days, there simply are!)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


They can only be serious for about 2 seconds...

Then Jack starts goofing off and Henry can't help but laugh and try to hide it. The photo shoots typically end here.

Do you remember when George Costanza of "Seinfeld" fame suggested naming a child Seven? Or Soda?

I didn't go so far as to name any of our kids Seven (though we came close to naming George "Four" as David waited until thirty minutes after George's birth to engage in a naming discussion with me, beginning by paging through his corporate directory and muttering "No...No...No...How 'bout Lance? Like Lance Armstrong?"




And on it went until he left the room for a soda and I called the birth certificate department and told them to put George David on the certificate and call it a day. When he returned, I told him it was George David or Four. I think he'd learned by that point not to mess with me until at least 72 hours post-delivery, so George it was.

Anyhoo, I digress (again).

Today, Jack and Henry turned seven.

I lazily lay in our less-than-optimally-comfortable hotel bed this morning and was reliving their delivery in my mind (which isn't the most pleasant of memories, frankly. Worth it, but not terribly pleasant) when someone with a very loud voice started poking me (hard) and yelling, "GRACE! GRACE! WHERE IS JACK?"

"Henry," I answered. "I don't know. I'm sleeping. And I'm not Grace."

He trotted back into the living area and opened the door over and over hoping to catch a glimpse of his brother, undoubtedly to scream to him that it was their birthday (just in case Jack didn't know). 

I called him back into the bedroom and said, "Henry, Happy Birthday!"

"Happy Birthday," he responded.

"Henry, it's YOUR birthday. You don't have to wish ME Happy Birthday."

"I wasn't," he clarified. "I was wishing myself a happy birthday."

Happy 7th to the sweetest, loudest, craziest, most creative, most frustrating, most lovable, most terrifying, most amazing 7-year-olds I know.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Breakfast Table Conversation

Okay, so truth be told I don't sit at the breakfast table having conversation with the kids in the morning. My pediatrician would chastise me for this, yet I doubt she does it with regularity either. I spend my mornings standing like a cheerleader in the middle of the kitchen (or while running from kitchen to laundry room to office to bathroom) directing people to "finish eating," "stop talking," "get off the dog," and "bring me your folder for god's sake so I can sign it ONCE this week." And not necessarily in that order.

This morning, Jack was paying little-to-no attention to my requests to bring me his folder because he was too busy talking about how he got invited to Mateo's birthday party but Henry didn't because only Jack's class was invited.

Here is the conversation that ensued when I was close to my breaking point.

Liz: Jack, if you can't bring me your folder, I can't call Mateo's Mom and let her know that you'll be coming to his birthday party

Jack: Well, you can't call Mateo's mom anyway. Mateo doesn't have a mom. He has two dads.

Liz: Okay. That's fine. Just don't tell Sarah Palin.

Henry: He has two Dads?

Jack: Who's Sarah Painting?

Henry: Sarah's painting what?

Liz: Omigod, forget it.