Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!
Wishing everyone a safe, happy, and relaxing holiday!
The month of December has flown by! I'd meant to do an update earlier but never found the time (what a shock!). I had a list of things I wanted to do in December and did most of them. Unfortunately we never made it to Edaville which I'd wanted to do because it's closing this year but there's only so much time and energy. I took Jess to the Festival of Trees at Plimoth Plantation and we watched the play Little Red Riding Hood there. Mike and I took Jess to Jordan's Furniture to see the Enchanted Village. That is special to me because my mom used to take me into Boston to see it at Jordan Marsh. I'm so glad that Jordan's Furniture bought and revived it. We also went to see the Christmas LITE show there which is a laser show done to Christmas carols. Jason, Jess and I went to the Cape Codder to see their light display, visit with Santa, and watch carolers. Jess and I went Christmas caroling with our church to 2 local nursing homes and an assisted living center. The pediatric nursing home was hard but Jess was a big hit everywhere. Jess's preschool had a singalong. Mike and I weren't able to go but one of my friends went in our place which Jess enjoyed. I was sad that we couldn't go but I would have been sadder if my friend couldn't have gone. Jess was an adorable sheep in the church's Christmas pageant. Jason chose not to participate but ended up being called to alcolyte. My mom came with us to the pageant which was very special. We had our first snowstorm right before Christmas. That two hour delay for school was very welcome this week! We went to the children's service on Christmas Eve. Jess presented the baby Jesus to the manger and Jason alcolyted. My mom was supposed to come with us but there's a nasty bug going through the nursing home and everyone was strongly advised not to visit or take people out. I was disappointed she couldn't come but hopefully we'll be able to see her during the week.

Jess setting out the manger.

Jess playing with the toy manger. She preferred the ceramic one.

Jess touring the Enchanted Village. Hard to believe this is the same set that I visited (at a different place though) 37 or so years ago.

My favorite little lamb.

First snowangel of the season. It was later than Jess usually goes out but she couldn't resist the first snow.

Jess got a video email from Santa. She was in awe!

Our tree

And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care....

Getting ready for Christmas service

Jess getting ready to present the baby Jesus to the manger

Every year Jess gets new pj's. This year Suki got matching ones.

Gotta put out the reindeer food (with colored sugar rather than glitter to protect the birds).

I couldn't go to Jess's singalong so she gave me a private performance. Here's Rudolph:

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Gift of a Day

As many know, my mom has dementia and has been living in a nursing home for a little over a year. Last year at this time I was in such a bad place. My mom was having bouts of paranoia that sent her over the edge. She'd rip apart her room as well as other residents' rooms looking for my daughter, my niece, whoever she thought was missing and needed help. She was hospitalized several times. A year later, she is still very mixed up about life's details (that's not going to get any better and I've come to accept that) but the paranoia is gone. She thinks she's living in a hospital and that she'll be going home after she "gets better". The past month and a half or so have been very good - she's been in good spirits, able to hold a conversation, recognizes my children and myself; it's lifted some of a weight off of me. I was laughing at something at church a couple of weeks ago and my Pastor said that it had been a long time since he'd seen me smile.

The past month and a half have been so good in fact that I had a crazy idea and decided to go with it. I made reservations to take my mom and Jess to the Ritz Carlton in Boston to the Sugar Plum Tea. I invited my MIL to come along and I am so happy she did. In addition to Jess's love of spending time with her Grandma and my enjoying her company as well, her coming with us enabled me to let Jess participate in the activities without leaving my mom alone at the table. Given her not very tight hold on reality, I don't trust that my mom wouldn't forget why she was there and get up to leave the table if she were left alone. Jess decorated an ornament which was hung on a tree that will be donated to the Pine Street Inn (tricky moment explaining to Jess what a homeless shelter was), shook the bells while a man played the piano and sang Jingle Bells, played on a humongous stuffed bear, and took pictures with Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Nutcracker from the Boston Ballet. The food was wonderful and the service was outstanding. I am so happy that I took the chance and did this.

Jess being goofy. My mom made the cape for me when I was a toddler.
Jess decorating a star ornament.

Dessert course
Jess with the nutcracker and the sugar plum fairy
The bear was a big hit with the kids.
Jess with Clara and the nutcracker.
Shaking the bells to Jingle Bells - one of Jess's favorite carols
Ruth, Jess and my mom

Saturday, November 06, 2010

I frequently go to several messageboards and forums (some may even say I spend too much time on these places. Some may say that, but not me*S*). Parenting styles is a common thread on these boards and an area of much debate. Here are my views on parenting:
* I will never be a helicopter parent but I feel that as a parent I have a responsibility to my children to keep tabs on what's going on and guide them when necessary while still giving them the freedom to screw up when there won't be irreparable damage done to them.
* I feel the free range movement is bordering on neglect. Yes, let's all drop our 7 year olds off at the park alone. To make it even more interesting, let's advertise this event on the radio so all the pedophiles and freaks in the city know about it.
* I am not an advocate of homeschooling, the Montessori method or the Waldorf method. I acknowlege people have the right to educate as they see fit as long as the children are taught but I am still an advocate for traditional schooling. I feel "unschooling" is an inappropriate homeschooling method and may well produce children who are far below their peers (this is my blog so I am entitled to voice my opinion)
*I think all children should be vaccinated and that religious exemptions should be done away with.
*I think spanking is wrong. Should anyone ever raise a hand to one of my children, they had better be able to run pretty damn fast.
*I think forcing children to eat foods they don't like or to send children to bed hungry is wrong. This doesn't mean I run a restaurant for my children. It does mean that my picky child has learned to cook for himself.

Monday, November 01, 2010

October Happenings

October is one of my favorite months. I love going to pumpkin patches, going to hayrides, carving pumpkins, drinking apple cider, and everything about Halloween.

I took Jess to Bog Hollow to get a pumpkin. We took a hayride and she explored the pumpkin patch until she found the perfect one. We almost weren't able to carve it because she became quite attached.

The fire engine at Bog Hollow was from Melrose. Jess was very patient waiting to play with this hose. I felt like I was giving a Behavior 101 lecture to the parent next to me. He kept saying to hs kid "Oh Baby XX (can't remember the kid's name but dad referred to him as Baby Name). Do you want to share? Oh, not yet? Okay." After about 10 minutes I'd had it. He turned to me and said "He hasn't learned how to share yet." I replied that kids don't learn how to share by themselves and need their parents to teach them. The boy put the hose down for a minute and Jess got it. The boy had a fit because he wanted it back but Jess stood her ground. She didn't yell or push but she didn't let go (You go Girl!) The father seemed put out that Jess didn't give in but that little boy (and his father) need to learn to share!

Jess brushing the pony.

Jess and her cousin Alison at Mike's aunt and uncle's birthday party. It was a surprise for them; they were both turning 65 within a few days of each other. The next day we had a surprise retirement party for MIL. I didn't tell Jess about the retirement party until we'd returned to the hotel after the birthday party because I didn't think it was fair to expect a 5 year old to keep the secret and I knew she'd feel bad if she told by mistake. Jess and her cousins danced the night away.

I had no clue Jess could do a split.

Jess had 2 parties on Friday the 29th. First she went to daycare and had a party. Then her daycare provider brought her to preschool where she had another party. She wore her Tinkerbell costume because I was afraid she'd rip or spill something on her Cinderella costume before the big night.

My friend, Cathy, her daugher Megan, Jess and I went out to eat after Jess dance class in Chinatown. Here they're posing with the female foo dog at the entrance to Chinatown. We thought we were going to go out for regular (Americanized) Chinese food but ended up going for dim sum. While there's a lot I won't eat, I really enjoyed having real Chinese food. We chose 6 things off the carts going around. Three of the things didn't end up appealing to me (the beef and chicken were really fatty and the small dumpling type item was filled with odds and ends) but the other three I really enjoyed. Those 3 consisted of leaf wrapped chicken and rice, steamed pork buns, and baked pork buns. I can't wait to go again! When I got home that afternoon, another friend had written on her facebook post asking if anyone wanted to go to dinner in Chinatown. I told her I'd just gotten back but that I'd love to go in a few weeks (next couple weeks are crazy).

Jess carving her pumpkin.

On Halloween, we went trick or treating twice. Here, she's getting ready to go to the mall in the afternoon. We went with a neighbor and her 3 kids and had a blast!

Jess fell asleep on the way home from the mall and stayed asleep while I carried her into the house. She slept over an hour in preparation for her big night.

It was cold out. Typically Jess doesn't use a carriage anymore but I thought it would be good to put her fleece blanket in it and let her wrap up between houses. Between her turtleneck under her costume and her sweater over it, using the fleece she didn't need to wear a jacket or coat. If I'd thought ahead of this, I would have gotten an orange fleece so it would be like Cinderella's pumpkin.

Jason decided not to go out trick or treating this year. Instead he handed out candy. He put a small folding table on the front lawn with a tablecloth on it and the bowl of candy on that. Then he hid under the table with just his hand by the bowl. When people got near the bowl, he grabbed them. He said he didn't do it to any little kids.
Jess with her haul of candy.

The front of our house. The purple light was too low wattage but I liked the skull windows.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Things Never to Say to an Adoptive Parent

I saw a list on another blog written by an adoptive single dad. I thought I'd make my own list since, like him, I get so many stupid or very personal questions from people who should know it's none of their damn business. I have no problem talking to people who are polite and don't ask questions that any sane person would realize are offensive but damn! why are so many people so damn rude?

1. How much did she cost? We did not buy a child. We paid legal fees, agency fees, and government fees much like my insurance paid for all of the medical fees involved with giving birth to my son. Do not make my child feel like an object. Do not tell me the story about how your aunt's cousin's best friend's step brothers mother's niece was made to pay extra or any other horror stories. Ever play telephone - chances are the details you have are not totally accurate.

2. You're going to get pregnant now that you've adopted. If I do, I'm going to be asking the Yasmin manufacturers for my money back. I know this is shocking to some, but not everyone who adopts is trying to get pregnant. And, if the person has been dealing with infertility and treatments, do you really think you're helping her? Statistics show that the number of women who get pregnant after adopting when they had trouble doing so before is very, very small.

3. Can you get pregnant? Is that why you chose to adopt? Unless you are my spouse, that is SO not your business. Again, refer to #2 - not everyone who adopts wants to get pregnant.

4. Do you know who her real mom is? I am her real mom. You are referring to her birth mother and if you're not close enough to us to already know the answer, you have no business asking.

5. You're just like Angelina Jolie (or any other famous person who adopted). I don't tend to be influenced by celebrities for fashion or hair advice; I certainly did not look to them to see how we should grow our family.

6. She's so lucky. We are the lucky ones. We cannot imagine our lives without her.

7. Don't you want to have your own children? Jessica is my own child. The term you're looking for is biological and please refer to #2 of this list. (When Jason is present, I get "Didn't you want to have more of your own children?)

8. I could never give up my child. You have no way of knowing why the parent(s) were not able to raise their child. I imagine that it must have been a heartrending decision to make.

9. China doesn't like girls (or any other disparaging comment about an internationally adopted child's birthcountry). I want my child to be proud of her birthcountry and would appreciate people not making disparaging comments about it in front of her especially when they really don't have all the facts. Does that country have its problems? Of course it does just like every other country in this big wide world. I love the USA but honey if you think it doesn't have its own share of problems, you're living in a fantasyland.

9. I could never love a child I didn't give birth to. I'm sorry your heart is so small.

10. Why didn't you adopt from the US? We made the choice based on what was right for our family. If you're so interested in domestic adoption, I'd be happy to give you an agency's name and number to call.

11. I love this one - Are you going to tell her she's adopted? Considering we adopted transracially, this question is pretty inane when asked of us. However, if Jess were caucasian and it wasn't readily obvious that she was not our biological child, yes I would still tell her. I think keeping a secret like that is a horrible thing and will backfire badly at some point. I think the fact of being adopted should be addressed matter of factly early on and not saved for a BIG TALK when the parent feels the time is right. We read stories about all types of adoption (as well as different ways families are formed) and look at her scrapbook frequently.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Jess's first performance
Jess has been taking Chinese Dance for 3 weeks. Today there was a performance at the Oak St Fair in Chinatown. Jess had a blast! Getting her hair into the little buns we were told she needed was not an easy task. I was going to use gel but all we had was Jason's Axe and I didn't want my baby girl smelling like that! I did the best I could, bobbypinning as I made the buns and put about half a can of hairspray on her. When we got to the dance class, I bought the clips we needed. One of the other ladies put them in for her. The bobbypins made it hard to get the clips in but without the bobby pins, the buns would never have stayed. Jess loves her dance class and giggles a lot with the other girls. I talked to one of the moms for a while today while we were in line for a game at the fair after the dance. I'm getting better at understanding the moms' English. We're the only ones in the class who don't speak Chinese.

Jess in costume and makeup doing a dance pose.

Curious George came to the fair.

Jess's hair in buns with the flower clips.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jessica!!!!

Today my baby girl turned 5. I can't believe how fast time has flown by (cliche, I know). Last night we took my mom out to Friendly's to celebrate Jess's birthday. Unfortunately, my mom really can't handle the family parties anymore since she gets overwhelmed so we decided to take her out separately with the immediate family to keep it simple. Tonight, we met a friend and her daughter at Bugaboo Creek and went to dinner. Jess loves Bugaboo and kissing the moose. I try to block from my mind just how unsanitary that thing probably is because she does enjoy it so much. She got a piece of birthday cake and everyone sang to her. My friend, Cathy, gave Jess some really cool 3D sidewalk chalk. Things are a little tight right now for us with the extra daycare expense so I wrapped up some stuff that Jess needed and gave it to her for her birthday - feet pj's, new jeans, shoes for her Halloween costume. I also got her a pottery kit she's been asking for every time we go to Michaels and a stroller for her doll, Suki, that I said was from my mom. After we ate dinner, we went to the Children's Place and got an outfit for her to wear for her party Sunday. She wants an afternoon tea party. The invites I made were pretty darn cute; I'll have to scan one and post it.

5 year old fashion plate
Jess and her friend Megan
Blowing out her candle at Bugaboo
Birthday wishes from the Moose
Very excited about her "Suki stroller"

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Never Forget
Where were you when the world stopped turning
That September day?
Teaching a class full of innocent children
Driving down some cold interstate......Alan Jackson

I was teaching special ed kindergarten in Weymouth and we were at circle time. My para nad Itook turns going to the office to see what was going on since the secretary had hooked up a tv there. I can't believe it was 9 years ago. It's hard to believe that a day that is burned in my memory is a day that will simply be something my kids hear adults talk about, something that they learn about in their history books. Jason was only 3 so he doesn't remember it; Jess wasn't born until 4 years later.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I share many traits with my mom (we're both stubborn, opinionated, etc) but one of the biggest traits is our love of travel. I've been traveling since I was 6 months old; I can't imagine not being able to travel. Lately, I've been craving travel. I think it's because my mom can't go anywhere anymore although she's always talking about the trips she's going to go on. I am so very thankful for the trips we did do (especially Bermuda and Nashville) and I deeply regret not finding time to do some others that she wanted to do; when I think of that it makes my heart hurt. It always felt like there'd be time to do it later and now later is too late. It hurts my heart that Jess won't have the same type of memories of my mom that Jason has. Jason was talking recently about how he wanted everyone to go away together for a trip. My mother in law talked about going away so I asked her about doing a cruise to Bermuda. She said she was interested. The kids are excited about going away and I would love to have the chance to build some more memories of their grandparents for the kids. I know some people think cruises are boring because you need to spend some time on the ship but I've found these are usually people who've never been on a cruise (a booze cruise or cruise around the harbor is not in any way comparable). There is plenty to do for those who crave activity and those who want to relax. The food is awesome and the shows are fantastic. The excursions once you dock encompass a wide range of interests. I've been to Bermuda twice and would love to return. It's clean, safe, friendly, and just walking around Front Street shopping is fun.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Our PA Trip
While Jason was at Calumet for 2 weeks, Mike, Jess and I went to PA. We went to Sesame Place which seems more built up than it was when we went with Jason 10 years ago. Jess's favorite rides were the merry go round, Blast off and Vapor Trail (roller coaster). I preferred the raft rides and really enjoyed the lazy river. Our last night there, Mike took Jess over to the Twitterbug playground while I went around the lazy river a couple of times on my own. There were a lot fewer people at that point and it was really relaxing. After two days at Sesame Place, we went to my cousins' for a couple of days. We had a great time with them and Jess loved playing with the babies. She's already asked when she can see them again. From there, we drove halfway home to break the ride up and stayed overnight at a hotel. The next day we went to Mystic Aquarium before finishing our drive home. Jess had fun feeding the stingrays and went on a 3-d movie ride which she liked. She just made the height minimum. We had a great trip!

Cookie Monster and Jess. She's so sweet he can't help but gobble her up.

Jess and Mike on one of her favorite rides. Wherever we go, she always wants to ride the carousel first.

As you come onto the park property, they have several characters "handprints" like a walk of fame. Jess tried her hands in each one. Elmo is the closest to her size.

Jess feeding Maya and Bobby.

Jess feeding the stingrays at Mystic Aquarium