Monday, May 30, 2011

Four more days 'till...


Friday, May 27, 2011

Lily's Hero in Fishnet Pantyhose and Sitting Bull

 Dr. Irene Pepperberg- Hero to Lily G.

Lily's fourth grade class did a hero project where the students were asked to choose a hero and write a report about that person. Each student also made a tin puppet of their hero and at an end of the year assembly were asked to hold their heroes high over head. Lily held her hero Dr. Irene Pepperberg (avian scientist, author of Alex and Me) high to the sky and I am certain that the puppet version of Dr. Pepperberg was the only hero in the 4th grade rockin' the fishnet pantyhose. Which she does indeed wear as noted by Lily when she visited the Cincinnati Public Library in March.

This was Lily's reflection on her hero Dr. Pepperberg.

"Modeling my behavior after Dr. Pepperberg's would improve my life because I wouldn't say "I give up" when something was too hard. I would stand up for my beliefs and not let other people influence me negatively. I would ignore those who tried to discourage me. I would tell the truth even when it was hard and I didn't think that anyone would believe me. Even if everyone teamed up against me, I would  do what I thought was right."
 Lily G.May,  2011

Jamie did a similar project with his personal hero Sitting Bull. Jamie thinks that Sitting Bull is fabulous because when he was 10, he killed a buffalo all by himself.  Jamie drew a sketch of how he imagined this scenario. A young Sitting Bull (looking remarkably like Jamie), riding a chestnut pony and with a spear and speech bubble stating "take that, buffalo!" And of course the buffalo fleeing in bloody terror from warrior brave Jamie, er... young Sitting Bull.  
My favorite part about Sitting Bull was that he was an adoptive father. Mr Bull and his five wives, (Light Hair, Four Robes, Snow on Her, Seen by her Nation, and Scarlet Woman) adopted two of their four children. A son named One Bull and a daughter, Walks Looking.  
Can you imagine being the social worker chosen to help with the Bull family's adoption? I wouldn't want to be the one to explain to Sitting Bull that there were problems that would delay his adoption... like maybe one of his wives had an issue getting the Sioux medicine healer to sign the prospective adoptive parent medical report. Or maybe when he went to get fingerprinted for his background check,  Mr. Bull perhaps learned that the grooves in his fingers weren't quite groovy enough to be electronically fingerprinted. I wouldn't want to be the person who told Mr. Bull that he would have to drive to a federal prison where they have a super-sensitive fingerprint reader machine that could read his too light fingerprints. (Yep, that was me... three adoptions, three trips to federal prison, three times joking with the nice warden about how I would be an excellent thief if I ever felt like stealing stuff instead of adopting a kid... "perfect fingers for burglary..." I've been told by those who know)  
I am glad that Sitting Bull lived during a time when the adoption process was less invasive and that Jamie's hero was able to adopt Walks Looking and One Bull without question, probably more important that he saved his energy for Custer.

Sitting Bull- Hero to Jamie G.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Luke Skywalker Lazarus Lizard

Meet Luke Skywalker Jr. 

Luke is a  Lazarus lizard (aka European Wall Lizard) and was the best little house guest ever. He enjoyed his 2 week stay in an aquarium in the boys room, ate a few store bought crickets and then went back to his home in the bushes next to the front porch. 
Luke is interesting because he is actually of Italian descent. His lizard ancestors  relocated here in 1951 when the young son a fancy pants family vacationing in Northern Italy smuggled a handful of lizards home in a sock. The boy released them in his backyard where they were fruitful and multiplied and now, having survived many severe winters, are considered permanent residents of Cincinnati. 
They are even noted in the Reptiles of Ohio booklet that is put out by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources that I found in the science area of Lily's bedroom library.
I find it remarkable that those hardy little sock lizard transplants stayed together, grew their numbers and eventually took over this place as the only lizards in town.  
I also find it amazing that apparently, in the eyes of a Lazarus lizard, Cincinnati is the exact same climate and terrain as Milan in 1951. 

 Now I will brag just a littlebit...
I have taken more photos of creatures over the years then anyone should, but Luke's portrait must be my personal best photo of a reptile EVER. 
I love how his beady eyes sparkle in the sunbeam and his demure Mona Lisa style grin. Also note the grace of his tiny lizard fingers falling softly into dancer hands. 
Yes Luke, you are one very handsome reptile. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Girls On the Run (and moms too!)

Lily and her tired old red faced mom, post race.

In  1996 a very energetic and motivated woman named Molly Barker- who happens to be a four time Hawaii Ironman triathlete (heck yeah, she's motivated!) founded Girls on the Run with 13 girls in Charlotte North Carolina. Now the 12 week program is offered in 150 cities in the United States and has reached hundreds of thousands of girls and women. GOTR combines the physical training for a 5k with a confidence building guided discussion curriculum for 8-12 year old girls.
Thanks to the dedication of a few wonderful teachers who volunteered to coach, Lily's school was able to host a club for the 4th grade. Lily was nervous about participating at first, but loved being a part of the club from the her very first meeting.

Last weekend the girls from GOTR clubs throughout the city came together for their end of season 5k run beginning and ending by the Paul Brown Stadium, with plenty of steps in between.

Lily did great. She was apprehensive at the start of the race, there was a big crowd, which is good for the organization, but a little bit intimidating for my 10 yr old chica. We jogged the first part holding hands, maybe unconventional- but it worked for us.
I am proud of my Lily and all of the girls who participated in the event and the program. Watching this overflowing display of girl power gives me confidence in the leadership of the women of tomorrow.
Girls are cool.
getting ready for the race...

up the first hill

rounding the stadium


 "We believe that every girl
Can embrace who she is.
Can define who she wants to be.
Can celebrate the differences.
Can rise to any challenge.
Can change the world.

Molly Barker

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sweet 16!

May 14, 2011
9:35 am

Miss Mary turns 16 today. 
Now I can truthfully sing her the lyrics that were sung to Leisel Von Trapp, in the Sound of Music. 

"You are 16 going on 17"
 Baby its time to think
Better beware
Be canny and careful
Baby you're on the brink"

Wishing you a fabulous birthday...
Eat, Drink and be Mary-
my lovely supercool daughter!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Well gifted.

 Mary's three layer marble cake with rainbow chip icing and eggs from the Chungs. 

It should be noted that I was very well gifted on Mother's day... my dears ask that I share their thoughtful mom gifts here.
Mary made a cake. She started this project on Saturday evening after Karl and I sneaked out to go to catch a movie. She said that Rosie "helped" by breaking all of the eggs on the kitchen floor and then passed out asleep on the couch. (Mary said that the fact that she was unconscious fro the rest of the night is what allowed for the cake to be finished.) However, without eggs they were facing a major problem finishing the cake. Without a driver's license or a backyard chicken, the resourceful middle kids saved the day. "Don't worry, we're on it!...Jamie grabbed a flashlight and the trio went door to door in search of eggs.
While I was embarrassed to learn that my darlings were roaming the neighborhood begging for eggs in the dark on a Saturday night, I was touched by their commitment to make the darn cake without asking me to go get them ingredients. Thanks to sympathetic friends,  (Kim and Gene to the rescue!) they found eggs and safely got them home to Mary to finish the cake. 

Henry and his Blockhead...patent pending.

Henry made a very cute blockhead, his own invention... he found a block an then hammered a face on one side. He was amazed at how well it came out and is very, very proud of his sculpture. I think he may look into marketing them. It is, without a doubt, the coolest blockhead I have ever owned.

Lily gave me a lovely necklace made from magazines and Elmers glue. She rolled the magazines into beads, used the glue as a kind of shellac, and strung them all together for a lovely choker...I seriously love my new bling.

 Here is Lily modeling my uber- cool magazine bead choker.

Jamie gave me a very nice card that he made himself and signed "love from your peenit!!!" Which gave me pause at first glance until I realized that "peenit" is inventive spelling for "peanut" which is one of my pet names for Jamie... phew.  

Anna, the girl with the summer job, gave me a cool book and a cool CD. She is doing whatever she can to make me into a cooler mom. I'm doing my hipster best, but Lordy, cool is a high standard. I think an Adele CD just might help though.

The divine Miss Rose gave me her usual gift of an early morning. At 6:05 I awoke to the not so gentle slap slapping of my cheeks, as though I have fainted and must be aroused IMMEDIATELY! Apparently hungry... "I NEED OPA-MEAL!" she shouts, top volume... her little face about 2 inches from my own. Her wake up tactic is loud and proud so that if I don't move right away, she will make short work of waking up the rest of the house.... this is very effective- every time. Maybe next year she will let me sleep in a bit and offer up a crafty item, but this year we kicked off our very early Mother's day together with oatmeal on demand.  

Sunday, May 8, 2011

5 Mothers

There are five mothers who I am especially grateful for and would like to wish them the very best day, (month, year, decade, eternity) imaginable. 
The first is my own mom for everything she has done for me for the past 43 and 3/4 years. As the poet Tina Turner once famously said... "you are simply the best"and no one knows it better than me. Also, thank you Jo, for being Karl's mother and putting him on this planet because there is no way that I can  imagine my life without him.
On the outskirts of Guatemala City there is a brave tough lady whose inner strength is beyond remarkable. This woman managed to build her own house for her own family with her own hands out of found cinder blocks. She gave birth to my oldest son and then made a plan for him that allowed me to be his mother. Thank you, S.
On the other side of Guatemala City is another strong mother who is making difficult decisions and working hard to piece together the kind of life where her own family will thrive and have a good future. I am so grateful that C. made an adoption plan for the baby boy that she knew she could not raise... Henry is a dear blessing.
Somewhere in the heart of the capital of Ethiopia is a woman who gave birth to my strong, funny youngest daughter. While Rosie's beginnings are more mysterious to me, I know without a doubt that she was loved and cherished during her youngest months because of the little person that she is now. In her earliest months, someone gazed into her baby eyes with love and convinced her that she was a gift to this world.So thank you to her first mother for nurturing my tiniest daughter in Addis Ababa until I met her, you gave her the loving start in life that she deserved.  

And thanks also to these six Wombats for being who they are and for turning me into a mom- I really am the luckiest mom ever.

 My monkey hat team- May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers Day!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mud, Boys and Power Rangers

Here are my guys taking advantage of the post rainstorm pit of our backyard. Lots of mud combined with the violent turmoil of three Red Rangers all trying to dominate the same puddle, made for two happy little dudes.

At some point my dear sweet little boys lose the rangers and take it to the porch...
"Take my picture NOW!"
says The Rosemonster,  not wanting to be left out of all of the good times of her ever loving family.

After whomping the catpoop out of each other and then backyard swamp mud wrestling,  these muddy brothers remain on good terms with each other... at least for the moment. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

No Biking in the House Without Wearing a Helmet!

About five years ago I met Melissa Fay Greene, author of the brand new book No Biking in the House Without a Helmet. She was in town on a book tour promoting her book about the HIV/AIDS crises in Africa, There is No Me Without You. Melissa and I share a mutual friend, Nancy Kayes, mom to 19 kids, many of whom were adopted. Nancy had graciously agreed to introduce me to Melissa. I was in the process of putting together a book of photographs of adoptive families called Now We are One. I was very nervous in asking her for a favor... I knew it was such a busy time in her life, that she was in the process of adopting 2 brothers from Ethiopia, and her life was particularly hectic- but I really thought that foreward from her would be perfect for the book. Since  Now We are One was done as a benefit for international adoption, I felt ok about asking her for help.  When Nancy introduced us, I quickly explained the project and asked if she would contribute....she quickly answered "Absolutely!" I thanked her. "Of course, of course," she replied. 
And that was that, one ABSOLUTELY! two OF COURSES! and a couple of weeks later I have a wonderful foreward for Now We Are One. Needless to say, I was blown away by her immediate positive reaction and generosity.
Her new book is a terrific account of how her family was built, by birth and adoption and is well deserving of the wonderful reviews that it has received.
The book is smart and funny and very, very real. I am thrilled that such a talented writer chose to build her family through adoption because she is able to describe to joys and challenges so perfectly. There have been countless times when I wish that I would have written down more of the details after each child became a part of our family. Especially during the time of emotional blur during the immediate months following each new addition. Melissa writes of this time beautifully and brought back many memories some very happy, and some of "...holy crap, what have I done to myself and my family!"In her writing, Melissa didn't hide those "holy crap" times and it was interesting to see how the shifts in her family dynamics were addressed. My good pal, Nancy Kayes, has told me (and many others) that when we are at the end of our rope to call her for a phone counseling/venting session. Along with my own mom she has been my "go to" for parenting advice. With 19 kids under her belt,  she has definitely seen it all when it comes to kids. It was a pleasure to read a chapter in the book about the Kayes family and realize that Melissa also has reached out to Nancy in moments of parenting panic. She had previously interviewed the Kayes family for an article in the New York Times and was impressed by the way that they treated each child in their remarkable family. Me too.   

Ok... so here is my official book review for No Biking in the House Without a Helmet.
This book is one very gifted writer's, thoughtful, entertaining and completely engaging account of how their family was formed. I found myself unable to put it down.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Darth Vader Recycles!

For an Earth day project Jamie chose to express his commitment to recycling through music. He has just learned the Star Wars Imperial March on the piano and thought that if Darth Vader reminded people to help the environment, they would pay attention, sort their recyclables and help save planet earth.
Here he is as Darth, playing the famous scary theme and reciting his poem in what Jamie considered to be the most authentic Darth Vader voice he could muster up. 

"Do not allow yourself to be destroyed as Obi Wan did.... 
Cardboard, newspapers, batteries and cans.  These things can be used to make something new.
Pop bottles, plastic containers and glass. Recycle these things and your earth may still last. Milk cartons, yogurt cups, a box, aluminum. Send them to recycling, instead of to the dump. Paper bags, plastic one, your old homework, too. Toss them in the green bins or they will crush you.