Friday, October 31, 2008

Sick sicker sickest

I have been sick, sick, sick, which explains the lack of thoughtful posts. I thought the first two colds were on their way out when the evil third one struck Wednesday night. Now I'm wondering: sinus infection? I used to get those so bad when I was in college that my mom's friend, an ENT doctor, would suck out all the mucus for me with a special machine at his clinic.

Oh, how I wish for one of those suckers now.

So, in place of a post with any sort of "point," a few things of interest from our sick days:

Hot toddies are wonderful things, until you run out of whiskey.

Check out the amazing squirrel on my other blog.

This Little Bear clip is what I use when I need Abe to be still enough for me to clip his nails. I love it. Thanks, Autumn. This other one is
wonderful as well. Sweet, magical stuff.

Our son is the sweetest, gentlest guy I know. We've been having issues with a slightly older boy we see regularly pushing, hitt
ing, poking, grabbing hair, and rubbing Abe's face in concrete (yeah, that last one pissed me off--was ready to karate-chop a small toddler). When we ran into this same toddler at a park a few days ago, Abe walks right up to him saying "hi" and hands him the rake he'd been playing with while saying "Thank you!" (which sounds like thu-da). Tonight, Abe kept asking for M&M's, which he would promptly hand right back to me, also saying thu-da, wanting me to eat it. He's a giver, that one.

I kno
w this post is very linky, but this news story cracks me up. I laugh and laugh every time I see it.

And because I know it's all about kids in funny costumes, our Halloween pictures:Yes, he's a chicken.

It's fun when dramatic high school students in the neighborhood open the door to hand out candy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My New Favorite Thing

My new favorite thing about Abe is not his gentleness--he's a giver, favorite thing to do in the park is gather leaves to hand to other kids, and he ends most of his days by giving me whatever he'd made his treasure for those hours, today a disgusting gray q-tip. My new favorite thing isn't his sweetness either--the way at bedtime he hums along with me as I hold him bedside his crib to sing to him. It's not his general cuteness, like the way he consistently uses the sign for "more" to tell me that he's finished, or the way he calls our cat Buddy, "Bubba." It's not even Abe's wonder--the way he follows the older kids on our street around with a wide-open face, just expecting them to do amazing, big-kid things for him.

No, all these things pale in comparison to my current favorite thing about Abe. Our son has mastered air-guitar, always when The Talking Heads are playing:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Things Learned in the Last Week

Things learned in the last week, in no particular order:

1. Spider-bites can cause horrifically large and disgusting bruises that last a couple of weeks. The picture I got of the one on my arm doesn't do it justice. I'm afraid people will think Ted's a wife-beater.

2. I'm tired of people "shooting emails" all over the place. Can't we just send them to each other?

3. Cooking a whole chicken in a slow-cooker is the best way to go. Save the broth and make gingery chicken noodle soup for when you've been sick for two weeks.

4. To keep a toddler who likes to scream quiet in the grocery store, dress him in cargo pants and fill the pockets with stuff he can pull out along the way. When he runs out of treasures, refilling the pockets with kleenex or your shopping list should buy you a few more minutes of peace.

5. Putting 3-minute-miracle conditioner on Abe's hair every time I bathe him (but not shampooing) helps to keep it really soft.

6. Bee costumes are cute, especially if they have a little stinger on the butt.7. George Straight writes good songs. I had to look up exactly what a 'troubadour' is, and I'm still not totally clear on the meaning, but damn if George Straight isn't pretty hot for an old man. Yes, I sometimes listen to country music.

8. Do not buy the product Mucinex. Their ads are disgusting, plus the "active ingredient" is the exact same stuff that's in plane-jane robitussin cough syrup, which you can buy super-cheap generic. I would like to thank my RN mother for this knowledge.

9. My son likes dancing to extremely inappropriate songs from the musical Hair. One of Ted's brothers sent us the song "Abie, Baby," and our Abe looooves it. Soon enough, we'll have to start editing it.

10. Nights out are very important, especially if you get to go hang out with someone who shares your love of big buttons.
11. I've got to start wearing my new glasses (they give me a head-ache though). These old ones are a bit too Palin-ish for my taste.

12. Every little boy needs his daily dig in the dirt.

13. I feel happy when I get carded.

14. This is my new favorite smile:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Must-see video

What is said in this interview seems to echo a lot of what I've read in In Their Own Voices, a must-read for those adopting transracially. Thanks for posting this, Filoli.

And over here, a well-written perspective from a Christian social worker and mom on an important issue.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Perfect Fit

A few months after we got married, Ted and I were visiting his brother and family in Klamath Falls, Oregon for Christmas. My sister-in-law is an expert thrift-shore shopper who finds the best deals of anyone I know, so I was excited to go with her to dig through the bins at Goodwill (she's the one who sent us that beautiful sweater Abe's wearing in the "Calling Your Name" post--a garage sale find). On this shopping trip, Ted added to our pile of stuff a little pair of size four baby boots. I was touched that he picked something out for a child that we hoped to have one day. The boots hung in my shoe rack in Los Angeles through the first couple of years of our marriage, and after a painful loss and many dashed hopes, I had to move them out of sight. These boots were a reminder to me that I wasn't the only one longing to be a parent. Someone else had picked them out, someone who would be an excellent father and seeing these little boots made me feel like a failure, that I was somehow letting down the most important person in my life...and that's a difficult pill to swallow.

When we moved to Oregon, Ted put the boots in his office, and I'd see them occasionally on the shelf to the left of his desk, amidst the boxes and disheveled papers (and bow-ties, tennis balls, fake teeth and paperclips: Ted's particular brand of off-beat clutter). I just kept them there, relieved to know that someone else was the keeper of the baby boots.

After many long months of waiting for a child to fill those boots and then for that child with tiny feet to grow enough to fit into them, I pulled out the boots on Saturday and put Abe's feet into them. He wasn't sure what to think of them at first, as he'd never worn hard-soled shoes before. He stood up slowly and thoughtfully rocked back and forth a few times from heel to toe. And then he took off. They're a perfect fit.

One of my dearest friends I've made through this world of adoption had for her facebook profile picture during a difficult waiting time a photo of a small pair of tennis shoes resting on a chair. And this afternoon, I talked on the phone with another very sweet friend who is feeling impatient with the wait, despite her best efforts of being realistic about the length. I know the feeling. And I guess I'm writing this now for all the people out there who are longing to fill those shoes. As diligently as you prepare yourself mentally and spiritually for the long wait, bad days are going to come. You're going to feel impatient at times, and that's alright. Feel it and give it up to God.

Just hold on. Sooner or later, you're gonna see that shoe, filled with sweet and surprisingly stinky feet, dangling casually off the side of the stroller, like that's where it's meant to be. With you always. A perfect fit.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Must Read

Please go read this post by Julie, one of our beautiful friends in Los Angeles. And please take the time to watch the videos she's linked as well. This is something that matters.

Click here for the post.


Joy tagged me:

1. In elementary school, my best friend Catherine and I were always the last ones chosen for teams during p.e. The p.e. teachers never once chose me as team captain. I still think they were evil for letting me go through this daily torture.

2. Tim Robbins sat on my feet for about ten minutes at a Christmas party. It was really crowded in that basement.

3. A friend and I were afraid of being charged extra at a small B&B in Germany for being American, so for two days, I was a Slovak-speaking Russian married to a German-speaking Slovak.

4. I once had a group of 30 students stand on their desks for me and say "Oh, Captain my Captain," while clapping, just like the end of Dead Poets Society. I then walked to my office and crumpled up sobbing for about an hour.

5. Right after I perfected my Anna Nicole Smith impression, she went and died of a drug overdose and I felt really guilty for a long time.

I have recurring dreams about three things: being on the Titanic as it's sinking, showing up at the end of my senior year with none of my projects finished (or even started), and some form of me babysitting for Amy Breedlove or Amy flying to Saudi Arabia to take care of Sean Preston and Jayden James during Britney's wedding. I always email Amy when I have one of these dreams, just in case she can find some meaning out of them. So far, not yet.

7. Three of my biggest "real-life" dreams: complete a marathon, own and run a soup restaurant, get paid to write (these are things I find highly unlikely to ever happen, but I still can't help dreaming about them).

I now tag: Courtney, Nicole, Jana, Caroline, Stacie, Julie, Autumn.

Here in the Rooney house, we're all sick. Like, major head-cold, snot-so -thick-I-can't-blow-my-nose kind of sick. All this makes Abe cranky. Well, he's been crankier than usual since he started walking, which makes me think Michelle was right: life now will never be the same.

Abe really does not like any door that is closed. Here is what happens when one of us needs to use the facilities in private:

Talking to him through the door does no good. And lest you think I am cruel for filming our son instead of comforting him, here is proof of how quickly he gets over the closed-door funk:

I really should be doing something useful right about now...

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Bare Necessities

We went to the Multnomah County Friends of the Library sale Saturday and came home with a big box full of wonderful stuff, though somehow a dud made its way in. It's a smallish paperback titled Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Things That Really Matter by Elaine St. James. Okay, so the title really appealed to me, as a common and frequent topic of conversation in our house of late has been the idea of "living simply."

Apparently, Ms. James is writing to those in a higher tax bracket than us because she introduces such revolutionary ideas as getting rid of the housekeeper and cook. Um, housekeeper I can see, but cook? Who employs cooks? I suppose I shouldn't have ignored the endorsement on the back cover by Oprah Winfrey saying, "Elaine, you're our role model."

I was already rolling my eyes through the first half of the book with her suggestions to read a book instead of go shopping and not buy brand-new cars, but I was ready to throw the book across the room when I read in her chapter, "Clean up Your Relationships":

I'm referring to an impossible marriage or a relationship that isn't going anywhere, and that is causing you stress or pain...get out.

My issue is with her use of the word "impossible." What does that even mean when applied to marriage? Who hasn't felt the exasperation of looking at a conflict that seems impossible to solve? And who hasn't felt stressed by your marriage or been hurt by your spouse? Get out? Really?

Don't we have enough people giving up on their marriages?

By far, though, the most helpful advice she gave was chapter 75: "If It's Not Easy, Don't Do It." Who is she writing this load of crap to? She ends the chapter with this nugget of wisdom, "Think how simple your life would be if you eliminated the difficult things--the things that probably weren't meant to be anyway--and concentrated on what was easy."

Alrightee then. I'll remember that the next time Abe is screaming in my ear with a diaper full of last night's black bean soup and a nose full of green snot that really needs to be suctioned out. Ugh, that's just too hard...
damn it, if I hadn't already fired the cook, I could have had her do it for me. I guess I should just take Ms. James' advice and walk way from the relationship with my son since reading Eclipse would be a whole lot easier than wrestling a 16-month-old.

This morning, while this song was playing, I realized I prefer simplicity Baloo style:
Now when you pick a pawpaw
Or a prickly pear
And you prick a raw paw
Next time beware
Don't pick the prickly pear by the paw
When you pick a pear
Try to use the claw
But you don't need to use the claw
When you pick a pear of the big pawpaw
Have I given you a clue ?
The bare necessities of life will come to you
They'll come to you!
And don't spend your time lookin' around
For something you want that can't be found
When you find out you can live without it
And go along not thinkin' about it
I'll tell you something true
The bare necessities of life will come to you

Whatever, no deep thoughts here, just frustration at having paid $1.25 for such a stinking load.

Oh, and what is the deal with folks stealing their neighbor's political signs? Nearly every day, someone on facebook writes that their sign was stolen from their yard during the night (and always an Obama sign). Sigh. Hearing that people are behaving so idiotically truly, honest-to-God upsets me. Can't we be more civilized than that?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Calling Your Name...

Could the following people send us an email? Thanks.

Sara S.
Carol P.
Hollis B.
Cynthia M.

Hope you're all having a lovely weekend.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fall in Portland

I don't usually sleep well. But when I do, like two nights ago (last night was a different story), I'm amazed at the seemingly boundless energy I have at my disposal. So yesterday, after a good night's sleep, I walked with Abe on an errand to the post office. It's only a few blocks away but is down a steep hill. Getting back meant either going back the same way (boooring...I've inherited my hiker-father's wanderlust) or getting up one of the public staircases in our neighborhood. I opted for the latter, pulling Abe in his jogging-stroller (not that I ever jog) up 117 steps. Yes, I counted. This was the view from about half-way up.

Experiencing a long walk on a sunny day in fall made me really think about how much I love Portland. For one thing, we actually have seasons here (as opposed to that other place we spend a fair amount of our time), and fall is gorgeous. Sure it rains a lot, but I don't mind that, as I always welcome the excuse to brew a pot of Barry's tea and bundle up in my orange sweater bought last year in Ireland. I sometimes even bake, like last night's chocolate-chip pumpkin muffins (I'm not a fan of baking, but I really wanted the smell of pumpkin in the house).

When we do have a sunny fall day, the streets of Portland look like this:
Unbelievable. All that rain makes everything so green and fresh. And Portland is full of old, classic, craftsman style houses, each one unique and often with whimsical touches that make taking long walks an exercise in discovery of why those "Keep Portland Weird" bumper stickers are so popular.

Case in point: On our walk home yesterday afternoon, I found this cat:
Yes, he's in a harness and a leash, tied to the front porch. Why would someone do that to a cat? Well, I've always thought that one can get the most accurate feel of a neighborhood by checking out the friendliness of its cats. Do they scamper away to hide under cars when you approach, or do they come at you for some lovin'? In Portland, the cats are so friendly that some have to be harnessed and leashed to keep them from following strangers home.

When your cats start acting like dogs, you know you're in a good city.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Toddler Camping 101

It was a week ago today that Ted was driving bleary-eyed down from Mt. Hood from our camping trip while Abe and I slept in the car. That morning, while cooking our breakfast as Abe "drunken sailer walked" around the campsite, we realized the reason we go camping: breakfast outside. It's all about that moment for us--waking up outside and cooking in the midst of trees, hopefully with a mountain or two in sight. It makes me feel like a kid again.

Here's our list of suggestions for camping with a toddler:

1. In the dark, restraining devices are your friends. I was constantly terrified of Abe wandering off into the dark of the woods and getting carried off by that pack of coyotes that was wailing most of the night.

2. Arrive early enough to get things set up before it gets dark. See above note.

Abe helping Ted set up the tent.

3. Before going to bed, make sure every scrap of food is put away (in the car) or raccoons will scamper about and steal your freshly-baked brownies. Or bears may show up and maul you to death.

4. Dress your wee one in lots of layers to go to sleep. I had Abe in long-sleeved, one-piece footed pajamas with another layer of a henley onesie and wool pants. Oh, and with socks under the footed pajamas.

5. Sleep in a pop-up camper or the car/van rather than a tent if possible. Abe slept fine but moves around a lot so neither of us slept well at all. If you're determined to tent-camp, bring a pack-n-play for the kid to sleep in so he doesn't roll around. The pack-n-play is also a handy spot for putting the toddler while you're trying to set up camp in the pitch black.

Abe discovering the fun of rolling around in a tent, which he proceeded to do for the next 10 hours or so.

6. Have a flashlight on hand for reading once you're snug in your sleeping bag. I started Twilight this way and couldn't imagine a more perfect way to start this book (thanks, Stacie!). The flashlights are also handy for late night trips to the bathroom and for shining light in the faces of raccoons.

7. On the subject of breakfast: those little cans of espresso with cream are the way to have your morning coffee. They fit perfectly on top of a small burner and get warm within a few seconds. And they're so much better than instant and save you the trouble of trying to use a french press or percolator ("There was a fish! In the percolator!" Anyone?)

9. First thing in the morning, only allow photos taken like this one:
Notice the can of coffee getting warmed up on the burner.

10. If you're camping at Timothy Lake, go on and jump in, even if it is September.
For me, one of the best things about camping is the renewed appreciation of the comforts of home. I think Ted could live the rest of his days on an air mattress in a tent in the woods, but I like a warm bed and shower now and then.
This photo has nothing to do with anything. I just find it funny that Abe, a certified member of the Thumbsucker Club, discovers his "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" bink every now and then.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Our Own Rocky!

And now for the big announcement:

The big event happened two weeks ago today while we were visiting Ted at work on a TV show set in Van Nuys (do we have a future actor on our hands?) which explains the odd location in the video. And now, our life is pretty different. Click here to see what most evenings are like now in our house.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Moments with Abe

Abe has discovered screaming just for the heck of it--no tears, just high-pitched screeching. Any ideas what to do about that? It's truly making me crazy.

Tonight we were doing our night-time thing: Abe on my lap having a little bottle, me having "Mom's bottle" (a Hornsby's cider) while we sat at the computer desk reading commentary on the debate (sigh...) and going through blogs.

Abe sucked down the last of his bottle and started flailing it about while I started reading Craig and Cindy's blog. I look over at Abe right at the moment he whacked himself square in the face with the empty bottle. I clicked "play" on the video they'd posted right as Abe's face squished up into sad, bemoaning, pitiful wails. He sat up and leaned into my chest for comfort through his crying which was a convenient way for me to hide my stifled snicker at this "injury," but then...the magic happened. The music overtook him. He leaned back and looked at me, face red and wet from tears, but with a look of shock at the glorious sounds coming from the speakers. He made his surprised, raised-eyebrows, mouth in a perfect "O" look and still with tears on his face, started to clap and shake his head.

He looked at the computer, then looked at me, back and forth, clapping nonstop and bobbing his head through the entire song as his tears dried and face lost all that fierce red. At the end of the song, he joined in with the "woo-woo-woos."

We played the song about three more times. I carried him up to bed, and as I whispered in his ear before laying him down, I teared up, thanking God for this soulful, screeching boy.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Disbelief Suspended Temporarily

This evening, this could be heard in our living room:

Lori (looking up briefly from her book): Ugh! This would so never happen!*

Ted: Um, aren't you reading a teen vampire novel?.

Posts about our camping trip or that "Abe announcement" I alluded to a few days ago seem to be put on hold, thanks to technical delays and my starting Twilight, the book "all the cool kids are reading" (right, Caroline? Have you got it yet?).

*I was referring specifically to the blood-typing lab done in the Forks High School biology class