Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Humility of Blue M&Ms

So one of my favorite movies is What a Girl Wants starring Amanda Bynes, Kelly Preston, and Colin Firth (be still my heart!). I won't go into the plot and the reasoning behind my love of this movie...just wanted to give a little background to my story. There is an exchange near the beginning of the movie between mother and teenage daughter, the former trying to cheer up the latter. The mom says "I love you a million swedish fish" and the daughter answers "I love you a million red M&Ms." (Forgive me if I's close enough for what I'm trying to explain). It is obvious by the exchange that this has been a private little tradition for the two of them, probably since the daughter was a small child. I really like associating love with intangible amounts of something tangible...and I love candy. So I decided to start this tradition with Mari. If you're still hanging in on for my dose of very cute humility.

The scene: Mari in her PJs, books read, music on, sitting in the rocking chair before bed, head nestled on my shoulder, speaking in very soft, sweet tones.

Mom: Mari, I love you.
Mari: I love you too, Mommy.
Mom: Mari, I love you so much.
Mari: Mommy, I love you so much too.
Mom: I love you more Mari.
Mari: I love you more too so much Mommy.
Mom: Mari, I love you a million blue M&Ms.
Mari sits straight up, looks me in the eye with her eyes flashing bright....
Mari: Mommy, I LOOOOVE Blue M&Ms!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Heritage Camp Calamity (or why I failed at single parenting a hyper 2-yr-old during a weekend getaway)

Disclaimer: This post will be open and honest, my experience at the Ethiopian Heritage and Culture Camp. There were families there having a great time, connecting with other families/kids, learning and growing, etc. There were great classes and seminars, there were activities for children of all ages (although not really geared for toddlers). The staff and coordinators of the camp were sweet, loving individuals whose camp probably was awesome and perfect for a lot of just wasn't for ours. Hopefully in a year or two, Mari and I will try again and be able to enjoy the camp.

Honesty time: We did not have a good was not the place for my two-year-old to learn and grow. There were a couple of kids her age but they participated in activities and enjoyed themselves. Mari was stressed and hyper and clingy and overstimulated the whole time. I kept missing sessions or getting late to speakers because I had difficulty leaving my child with strangers. During the times that we were to do stuff together, she wanted to run off and not be with Mommy. During the times that there were activities for her to participate in, she wanted to be glued to Mommy. During one session, I left her with her group outside (in a large field flanked by woods and a parking lot with a small stream running through it), feeling uneasy as she was just kind of spacing out and not joining in. I even told the caregivers that she has a habit of wandering away and was told she would be watched. Luckily the class that session was in a lodge with big windows overlooking the field. I watched my daughter walk away from the group in the opposite direction from me, cross the stream, and start on into the parking lot. I can run fast when I need to! I took Mari back to class with me but it is hard to get anything out of a class when trying to keep a 2-yr-old quiet. During the campfire that night, Mari wanted nothing to do with singing or roasting marshmallows, she only wanted to get to the lake and see the duckies. (Natural for a 2-yr-old but not really safe at twilight)

Saturday, I had to leave her screaming again with the caretakers in order to make it to class. After that, we went to a family dance class where she made me hold her the whole time. So we scrapped that and went out to the Gebeye (market) they had set up outside and of course, she just wanted to run, run, run away from Mommy. I had to chase her into the woods at one point. So we went back to our car and got our nap stuff (lunch was still 2 hours away even though it was almost M's lunchtime), went into the main lodge and ate some go-gurt and snuggled up to watch Barney on our DVD player. Hot and sweaty and hungry and tired and cranky, Mari thrashed around restlessly while I checked the schedule. The pool was not open yet, lunch was not being served yet, I realized that I had already missed the one session I wanted to get to (Special Adoptions) and the ones in the afternoon were not as important to me.

It was then I took a serious look at things. My goals for the weekend were to have fun with Mari and learn some things for us to do together, connect with other families, and create some great memories. Both of us were miserable at that point. She was overwhelmed and stressed to the point that she really could not handle doing what was asked of her. I was overwhelmed and stressed because I felt like I was spending the whole weekend chasing and scolding and nagging and taking potty trips, etc. I think I could have learned some great things if I had been comfortable enough to leave her to go to the sessions (my mom even offered to keep her so I could go back by myself but I decided this is not what I wanted out of the weekend). And the connecting with families did not happen either. We did meet a few families and exchanged pleasantries but it was not the instant comraderie that I've grown to know in other situations where adoptive families get together. I honestly felt like families were competing to see who was doing a better job with "culture."

Here are some pix. Not many were taken because I was either chasing someone or had that someone glued to my side. I did not get pix of the little kids Mari tried to play with or pix of some of the setups/displays; I had planned to do that later but when I made the decision to leave, it was with finality and peace. We did not make it to the banquet in Mari's beautiful dress...another time, another time.

Panel of speakers

Mari not participating in one of the activities (she's just standing there wondering what the heck is going on). This is when I left her only to go running back out chasing her into the parking lot a few minutes later. Glad I dressed her in orange!

The one time she was truly happy...playing by ourselves on the playground.

The campfire that Mari wanted nothing to do with. That's Mari climbing over the bench in a mad dash for the lake.

Family dance class.

Me and Mari during dance class. Me, hot and sweaty with a hot, sweaty kid attached to me. Mari looking very her face looked most of the weekend.

The Gebeye (Market)

So, maybe in a year or two, we will try again. If you have pre-K and older kids, you probably would have had a good time. It just missed the mark for us.

Dear Mari, I'm sorry that I don't make you learn a set amount of Amharic words a day. I'm sorry that I do allow you to watch American television instead of Ethiopian television. I'm sorry that we do not cook Ethiopian food every day or talk on the phone with Ethiopians every day. I'm sorry that I'm apparently failing in your upbringing as an Ethiopian. I'm also sorry that my expectations for a great weekend made me forget that you are a normal 2-yr-old who is not ready for large crowds of unfamiliar people. You are not ready to be dropped off in unfamiliar places with strange people. You are not ready to have your whole schedule turned upside down and be expected to be happy and easy-going. Mommy will try harder to respect your needs and remember that great memories only come from having a great time's not the place or the activities that make great memories. It's us. You and me. Doing ordinary things.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hi - We're Still Alive!

I know, I've been delinquent. Oh well, you'll get over it! Here is a long overdue post and it's long. A lot has been going on so I'm going to try to keep it short.

The last I talked to you was sometime in May. So here are the last two months.

  • Birthday Party for friend Braelyn - first pinata, cake, park, and ice cream (the first time Mari has actually eaten ice cream...she had a sensitivity about cold stuff)

  • Pool time

  • More ice cream

  • Birthday Party for friend Daniel - more cake and pool time, sprinkler

  • Birthday Party for cousin Madi - more cake

  • Birthday Party for Granddad - more cake

  • July 4th - visit from cousin Brendan, a jumpy house, more pool time, more cake!

  • Birthday Party for friend Brooklyn - rollerskates! and more cake

(Do you see a theme to our summer?)

New things happening with Mari:

  • Fully potty-trained (HIP HIP HOORAY!)

  • Talking in full conversations, often quite funny ones

  • Singing complete songs, over and over and over and over

  • Totally IN LOVE with Barney (sigh!)

  • Insists on being independent - puts herself to bed by turning on music and humidifier herself, climbing in and out of car and buckling herself in, etc.

  • New favorite activites include watercolors, riding bikes, helping Mommy cook

  • New not-so-nice things: "I no listen to Mommy." "I no poo-poo today, I not allowed." spitting, kicking, just plain 2-yr-old-ness

  • New favorite foods - corn-on-the-cob, whole apples, ice cream and popsicles

  • New accomplishments - counts to 20, counts to 5 in Spanish (working on Amharic), knows lots of shapes, knows her safety signs (stop, yield, no walk, etc.), knows the months of the year and days of the week

I have tons of funny sayings and conversations, lots more things she is doing and learning. Just no time these days to write. She is running me ragged. I'm going to try to post more often just so it doesn't take so long to play catchup. So maybe short little posts with some pix. Sound good?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I ♥ Faces Feet

Just for fun! Entering this week's I ♥ Faces Contest. I typically don't like feet but who can resist these scrumptious little feetsies.

This is Mari engaged in one of her favorite activities...scrubbing the pool.

(Yes, an update post coming soon. It's in the works...just can't seem to get much done with a hyper 2-yr-old around.)