Monday, December 29, 2008

A Rooney Christmas

Because of the awful weather for the first two or so weeks in December, we had the chance to hang out with our neighbors a lot. During the summer, we tend to congregate in the street for all the kids to play, but we usually don't see so much of each other when the weather gets wet. It was a lot of fun during the holidays to meet up for impromptu sledding gatherings and visit each other's houses for "Winter Solstice" parties and a "Fishmas" party (yes, it was fish-themed).

I found it funny that when we walked into the Fishmas party, the gaggle of kids already there ran up to us to whisk Abe away while shouting to the host, "Abie is here! Abie is here!" Ted and I, as parents and grown-ups, are officially invisible to the neighborhood kids. It's all about the Abie-baby.

At this same party, I ended up in the kitchen with two other moms and got to experience for the first time the excitement all parents feel about preparing gifts for their kids. The party was on the 23rd, so these two moms were whispering excitedly about all the last-minute things they had to do to get ready for Christmas morning. From a birds' eye view, we were three heads pushed together, conspiring over cups of fizzy blackberry holiday ale. Of course, I got teary, aware of the moment, thankful for being a part.

On Christmas Eve, we hosted an impromptu gathering of the Portland family since everyone was snowed in. We went to a Christmas Eve service and then met at our house for food and drink, most importantly, this Christmas miracle that Ted brought:

Ted had stopped by a neighborhood liquor store for rum for the eggnog and found Becherovka, my beloved Czech herbal liqueur. Mm, mm, mm. It has been very difficult to find this in the U.S., so I am officially thrilled that a continuous supply is in walking distance to our house.

The good thing about having the people around is the constant supply of book readers for Abe. Here, Chris reads Abe his new book from Aunt Annie and Uncle Paul. Thanks, guys!

Abe has no idea what presents await him, doesn't even get the concept of presents, but no matter: he's ready to get this show on the road.

Christmas morning, Ted tries on his new PJs. Abe much prefers the Grinch to Santa. Santa is bad, bad, bad. Abe has major Santa-issues, does not like him one bit.

After opening all his retro fischer-price toys from us, the big prize is brought out: the rocking horse from Granny.

And somehow, on cue, it started snowing again in the afternoon, so thick that getting pictures was difficult.

Everyone came back over for a big Christmas Day dinner. Here, Ted is telling the story about the day he fooled his poor mother into thinking he'd joined a cult. It is truly a great story. I should've recorded it.

I'll leave you with this clip of Abe on his new "woah-woah" (phone) rocking out to Bob Dylan singing "This ole Man" from a CD my mom sent.


I watched Oliver! the other night for the first time and rank this up there with Fiddler on the Roof, my favorite musical. I stayed up until 1am, well after everyone else had gone to bed, to finish it. This song broke my heart. It's in the first half hour of the movie, and even with Abe up and running around the room, it was taking all I had in me to hold it together during this song.
Will I ever know the sweet "hello"
That's meant for only me?
Who can say where she may hide?
Must I travel far and wide?
'Til I am bedside the someone who
I can mean something to ...

...and seriously, my husband was born to play the role of Fagan...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Another Year, Another Self-Flogging

I started out this year's birthday festivities by celebrating the sinking feeling that came at midnight by going to bed and writing down all the things I hate about myself. Of course, one thing on my list is that I am half-empty. There were many other things, like how selfish, lazy, drifting, and distracted I can be. I am too sensitive, get my feelings hurt too easily, care about ridiculous things that I should be able to let go of. This list filled two pages. Writing it all down helped me somehow to fall asleep.

I woke up, came downstairs, made coffee, piddled, logged in to facebook. Ted wished me happy birthday (he's always up way before I am). I saw that I had 43 "new notifications" on facebook. I started crying. Ted sat down on the floor by my chair and put his head in my lap while I cried.

Pathetic, no?

I wasn't crying over being another year older. I was crying because I felt overly-blessed. The self-loathing kicked back into hyper-drive, and I thought, "Who are these people wishing me happy birthday? Don't they know these gross things about myself I so meticulously wrote down last night?"

Lest you think I am clinically depressed: I am now fine. I even managed to have fun today. But I think the mood started the night before, Christmas evening, when my sensitivity to noise kicked into overdrive, and I had to run away, not from my family, but from the noise they have every right to make--especially on a boisterous holiday like Christmas--so that I could take in the quiet of our snowy neighborhood for a half-hour by myself. Lori the Introvert was hoping to recharge the batteries by walking by herself in the snow. Except. I just ended up kicking myself for not being able to take it, for being weak, for being selfish, for not doing more with my life, for letting opportunities fly past me, for so often choosing comfort over charity, for constantly failing at being the person I want to be...

I almost always fail at resolutions. The one I tried to keep last year was to remember people's birthdays. But I didn't. I so admire my friend Stephanie who remembers, not just your birthday, but also your brother's--the one she's never met--and all three of your cats' to boot. For a while, she had a sign hanging in her kitchen saying "Live Your Values." No point in talking about them if you're busy doing them. That's how I feel about resolutions. I'd rather just do them than talk about them.

I'd also rather live my values than talk about them. But I fail so often at living my values. And this is what I was beating myself up about last night and this morning. I was inspired by the many well-wishes from people all over the place who know me a little or a lot, all who took the time to wish me well. What a seemingly little thing to tell someone, "Happy Birthday!" But today, for me, the big collective Wish from those I love inspired me to forgive myself a little bit. This group of people lived my value for me, my failed resolution from last year to remember birthdays. They remembered mine in spite of my failure, failure both to remember theirs and all my other many many many failures in general. It felt kind of redemptive.

Is that crazy? Am I overthinking this? Maybe. But I was inspired today not to focus on all the ways I have failed. I simply want my mantra this year to be, "Lori, Live Your Values."

I know, I know, enough with the introspective crappola. Where are the pictures of Abe opening presents? They're coming.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Our world action!

Despite being pretty much housebound (okay, not driving, but doing lots of walking around the neighborhood), life is feeling pretty good. It's definitely never felt more like Christmas than right now.

Something we love about Abe is that he is not easily frustrated, as evidenced here:

This video is from Sunday:

And the same hill today, after a few more inches of snow. Not as exciting:

So to make things more interesting, everyone started sledding down the public staircase:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow Week

What our world looks like right now:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Referral Day Anniversary

It was almost exactly this time a year ago that I was sitting at the computer, enjoying the quiet morning, when just after 9:00am, Mary from Gladney called with the news about a little boy named Abenezer. Together, Ted and I tried our best to listen to the information Mary was telling us while we looked at pictures like this one:
He seemed so fragile, so small. I'd told myself from the beginning of the process that I was not going to get attached until we'd passed court.

Yeah, whatever.

I still so admire those who can pull this off. But I couldn't. It was impossible for me, and what a gut-wrenching three months were ahead of me...little did I know.

A year ago today, now to this:What an unbelievable year. Love, love, love. Thank you, my dear friends in this community, for caring, for giving support and love, comments galore, packages mailed and prayers. In case you missed it, our referral day post is here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sledding in Portland

It's been a while since we posted a video, so with all the snow in Portland, this is as good a time as any. Sunday was the big "snow-day" here, but none of it has melted at all since then, so we bundled up this afternoon and went to a park to introduce Abe to the wonders of sledding.

One thing I love about Ted is his love for quirky objects like the hat he has on in this video, which he's been wearing every time we go out in the cold. He got it during his years in New York City, where he used to ride his bike around Manhattan in the hat. Except, he didn't like to be hunched over while he rode (he's a tall guy), so he turned his handle-bars upside down so that he could sit straight up.

Lanky Ted + upside-down handlebars + the streets of Manhattan + this amazing hat = notoriety. He'd go to work or auditions or for coffee and folks would say, "Oh yeah, you're the guy who rides his bike in that hat."

I heart Ted. I heart Abe. I heart fuzzy hats. I heart Abe in his Oompa-loompa outfit.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Happy 18-month birthday, Babe. We love you mucho mucho, even Bang Bang.
please excuse my dirty kitchen floor.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Photos, Socket update

Joy takes lovely photos:
puckered up at Le Happy

chipmunk cheek with breakfast at home

Thanks for all the concern about my shoulder. I'm going to the doctor tomorrow morning.

Two Holiday-related things:

For Twilight fans, this video is chock full of amusement.

If you like sleep, don't watch this video. I couldn't fall asleep the other night from this song being stuck in my head. That aside, it's becoming one of my favorite Christmas songs.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


So tonight, I'm sitting on my couch with Abe playing at my feet, Joy to my left, and Amy across from me. I pull Abe's barn out of the toybox, but some of the plastic animals fall out in the "no-no" area to my right: on the floor beside the couch. Abe wants his plastic animals. Joy is in the midst of telling me a touching story about how difficult it is to explain to children what "happy tears" are. I want to pay attention to this story, so instead of turning my back to Joy to grab the plastic barn animals off the floor, I end up sort of arching my back and leaning up, with my head still facing left (towards Joy) and my right arm reaching down and behind me to grab the toys.

I try too hard to be polite because what followed was about 3 seconds of excruciating pain.

My shoulder popped out of its socket.

I was speechless, quietly gasping for breath (still trying to be polite), while my right arm is incapacitated. I don't know what to do. I'm panicking, wondering how in heck I'm going to get my arm back into the socket, and as quietly and politely as possible please. For one or two of those three long seconds, everything is black.

I sit back up, facing forward, and this makes the arm pop back into its socket. The searing pain subsides to be over-taken by a dull lingering one (still painful now as I write this). I regain vision to find Abe at my feet staring blankly and Amy across from me looking slightly disgusted.

I think Joy asked if I was okay.

"Oh yeah, I think my arm just popped out of its socket...okay, no, I'm fine, it's what were you saying about happy tears?"

Yeah, I'm slightly freaked out by this. Ted said it's because I'm weak, and a friend from our church in L.A. confirmed this by telling me less bluntly that I might want to "consider seeing a physical therapist about strengthening the surrounding muscles to decrease the chance of it happening again."

Wait. Does this mean I have to start going back to the gym?

On a sidenote: it's been fun having Joy and Amy around. I love showing folks around Portland, where we keep it weird, dislocated shoulders and all.

Update--two hours later: I'm up, unable to sleep, and not just plain-ol' insomnia like usual. My shoulder hurts too bad. Crappy crap crap crap.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

GQ Men of the year

I take photos like this one because, well, you never know what the future might hold...

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things

Currently, a few favorite things about my son.

1. He laughs so hard when I tickle his sides that his lips turn blue.

2. I often catch him standing in front of the piano, looking at his reflection, and making faces at himself, trying out new ones, perfecting the old.

3. He occasionally enters the room where I am with wide eyes, saying "no-no" to let me know that he'd just been pulling ornaments off the Christmas tree or putting paper in the toilet. He's a confessor.

4. He finds birds sitting on top of tall buildings, microscopic at the long distance, and tells me while pointing, "Bir, bir."

5. When he wants me to pick him up, he's starting to now say "up," clear as day, no longer grunting and pulling on my leg.

6. Now that he's learned now to say the /s/ sound, he has the most lovely "yes" I've ever heard. It's perfect, sort of like "yash."

7. While he is extremely sociable, shaking hands with everyone and letting many read him books and hold him, if he's hurt, he goes to Mom for consolation.

8. He snores pretty loudly when he sleeps, just like his dad.

If you want to read something beautiful, go here. These words left me with an ache in my chest. I heart Julie. She's always on the top of my list of people to see when we are in California. What a beautiful soul.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Black Kids in White Houses

Over a year ago, I joined a message board dedicated to Ethiopian adoption. I can count on one hand the number of times I have posted, partly due to the negative and reactionary tone often found on this board. People often get "flamed," and misunderstandings run rampant. I remain a member though because I want to be exposed to what is going on in the world of Ethiopian adoption, whether I agree with the viewpoints expressed there or not.

Recently, someone on the board linked this article, which I strongly recommend you read. It's caused quite a bit of debate, which I completely understand. These are hard things to read. Reading this article produced in me the same feelings I had when reading a group of blogs I found last year about
adult adoptees who were chronicling their search for their biological roots and discussing how awful it was for them to have been adopted. These blogs, full of truth and bitterness, um...freaked me out. A lot. "Black Kids in White Houses" made me scared that one day Abe is going to look at us with bitterness and tell us that "love wasn't enough" (one of the claims the article supports).

It is a lot to try to go into in a short amount of time (namely, while Abe is taking a nap), but one thing I came away with after reading this article is that the adoptive families that "failed" did so because of an attempt by the parents to be "color-blind." As parents of a child of a different race, we can never ignore the reality of racism that our children are going to face when they are older. This is so much a no-brainer to me. And I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Any parents adopting a child of a different race is doing their child a disservice if they don't read books like In Their Own Voices. We must must must listen to what adult transracial adoptees have to say about their experiences growing up in a family that doesn't look like them.

I mull over these issues every single day. That is my responsibility as a parent of an African child, a responsibility that I must take seriously. I will do my best to nurture in Abe a pride in his Ethiopian heritage, all while hopefully inter-twining the Irish/Scottish/German/American Southern roots that he gets from Ted and me. We'll probably be eating a lot of Guiness stew, with spaetzle, injera, and black-eyed peas. We'll all get grafted in to each other into a very unique family tree.

Such is my hope, but it is easy to be overcome by fear when I read transracial adoption horror stories. I'd been feeling some of that fear lately, and yesterday afternoon in Home Depot, we had an encounter with a man that left both Ted and me in tears, good tears.

While Ted was ordering paint, Abe and I were looking at the displays of Santa figurines. I was delighted to find a row of brown-skinned Santas, and while I was poring over them, an African American man approached us and said, "Ah, I see you're looking at the black Santas because of your boy there." I smiled and nodded and he said a few words to Abe before walking away, though he kept looking at us from a distance.

Ted got there soon after and I showed him the Santa I'd picked out. As we were walking to the register, the man approached us again. Many times when people see Abe with only one of us, they assume that one of his parents is African-American. But I suppose that after seeing both of Abe's parents, the man realized that he had been adopted, so he came up to us to ask us about that.

It turns out that this man had also been adopted into a white family as an infant. I was so excited to hear what he had to say to us. He first expressed to us what a good thing adoption is. His parents adopted another African-American child after him, and he told us about how good it was for him to grow up with a sibling that looked like him.

I asked him if his parents had a very d
iverse community of friends, and he said, "no." He explained that his adolescence was extremely difficult. Finding a place where he fit was very hard for him. But he then said that his father, a professor, did his best to try to understand what it meant to raise an African-American son, not just a white son. I wish he'd had more time for us to ask him more about this.

Finally, I asked him what advice he would give to people like us, white parents trying to raise children of African descent. My heart was actually beating faster as I waited for his answer. I was hanging on his every word.

His answer?

"Just make sure you love him. Let him know every day how much you love him, and it's all going to turn out okay."

A lump rose in my throat as I fought back tears. I looked at strong Ted, and saw the tears already in his eyes. We both thanked the man and Ted told him that this is the one thing we know that we'll do right in raising Abe.

I know that it's naive to think that love is everything. We still need to do the work of educating ourselves about issues of race and adoption, but I was so comforted to hear from a man who is personally and acutely aware of the difficulties of being raised in a white family, that quite possibly, love can have the power to cover the mistakes that we will surely make as parents of an African child.

So maybe love isn't everything, but it surely accounts for a heck of a lot.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I've been slowly being inspired by things like the "craziness" of the holidays to write again...but not quite yet. In the meantime, I've been doing a lot of reading, and this evening, I read a lovely piece by our friend Danni, the mother of the amazing Judah. This piece explains perfectly the gratitude I feel for the women who loved our children while we were waiting to get to them. Not all children have this. I sometimes refer to myself as Abe's "third and final (hopefully) mother." It would be absolutely wrong to ever discount his mother by birth and the mothers who took care of him in the Gladney home until I got there.

Go read what Judah's mother has to say here.