Over the weekend, we had our 8 year old nephew and 3 year old niece stay with us (for the first time ever without their parents), and it made for some good parenting practice.

Bee and I managed to team up to take the kids to the beach for a swim and out to a restaurant for dinner, play in the backyard, cook breakfast and dinner, play boardgames and puzzles, and watch movies.  As a bonus, I even managed to slip away to go to my muay thai boxing class on Saturday for a few hours.

From our experience, albeit a brief one, we have learned:

  • that going out with children requires packing a lot more stuff than just going out on our own
  • that taking the long route while driving will trick a toddler into catching a short nap
  • that a quiet toddler can be much scarier than a noisy one
  • that cooking a meal with a child takes way longer but is so much more fun that way
  • that it’s important for us as the in-charge-adults to try to give each other a break when possible (even if it’s just to let the other one go get a shower or read a chapter of a book or go exercise)
  • that watching those cute little ones snoozing in your husband’s arms will make your heart melt in the best way
  • that you definitely shouldn’t leave dogs and children unattended
  • that more food will probably get on the floor and table than in a child’s mouth while they’re eating
  • that you dance when a toddler asks you dance, and you dress up when a toddler asks you to play dress-up
  • that teaching an 8 year old a new board game and watching him learn the strategies and rules successfully is some of the best fun
  • that children are hilarious human beings
  • that children are also exhausting human beings sometimes
  • that Bee and I work well as a team, and it would be ten billion times harder if we were babysitting solo (single parent, we salute you!) 
  • that we can’t wait to have our own kids filling up our house with noise and games and jumping and dancing and yelling

We just signed up to attend this class next weekend, and I think it’s perfect for our situation!  One of our biggest worries about adoption has been facilitating attachment between our children and us, and I’m hoping that this workshop will have some good insights and tips for us.

This past weekend, Bee and I kept our 8 year old nephew and 3 year old niece at our house.  We were excited to see them because they are some of the most excellent human beings that we know, and as a bonus we got in some parenting practice.  Our niece gave us an excellent primer in understanding the complex language of the toddler, so we thought we’d share our findings with you:

  • "I’m hungry" means "But if you offer me sustenance of any kind, especially my favorite foods, I will freak out."
  • "I’m thirsty."  See above.
  • "I’m cold" means "But clothing is made of evil and you cannot make me wear it, not even if it has Disney princesses on it."
  • "I want to get out of the bath" means "But once you get me out of the bath, I will start hysterically sob-screaming for the next 25 minutes for no apparent reason.  And then, I will stop for no apparent reason, leaving you to wonder if I had been temporarily possessed by the devil."
  • "I’m tired" means "If you’re smart, you’ll drive us aimlessly around in the car until I pass out…but I will only do so right before we are about to arrive wherever we’re going.  And then I will have the mother of all tantrums over the outrage of having my slumber disturbed."
  • "You are a girl.  And I am a girl" means "You are the one who will be taking me to the bathroom.  Right NOW HURRY."
  • "I can do it myself" means "But actually, no I can’t.  But you can’t help me anyway because REASONS."
  • "This was fun!" is basically just toddler small talk.
  • "I am friends with the dog" means "I am going to now murder your dog with my hugs and pokings."
  • "I love you" means "I love you."  And that’s the one that makes the rest all worth it a hundred times over.

Fringe benefit of my learning Spanish: I got to successfully help a library customer en espanol today!

While we wait to hear back from the Peruvian government, Bee and I are trying to get some projects done around the house.  One of the big ones that we had been struggling with is the problem of what to do with the children’s closet.  When we put their bedroom together, we knocked down the wall to the existing (horrible) closet to make more space, and we gutted out the adjoining half bathroom with the hopes of making it into a walk-in closet space.

A few weeks ago, armed with IKEA gift card and dimensions of the space, we set out to buy the perfect closet organization system.  Long story short, we failed.  The system we bought relies heavily on the wall for support and load-bearing, and our drywall was not up for it, even with anchors.  After many hours of trying, which resulted in me laying in a heap on the floor asking Bee to “leave me there to die,” we returned all of the pieces (because of course each part was sold separately) and looked for other solutions.

Here is what we have so far in there:

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We built a big corner storage unit from ClosetMaid, and our clothing bars will attach to the unit so that we’ll have a nice L-shaped space of shelves and clothes.  Each kid will have one of the sides with two rails for clothes (one high, one low), and the shelving will be shared storage.  We also kept one of our IKEA purchases, the cute rolling laundry hampers seen in the photo.

I’ll be happy once we get the clothing bars mounted, and I also found some wall-sized blackboard decals that I’ll be attaching to the blank wall to create a fun art space for them to draw on.  Pictures to come once I get that up there!

The shelf in the kiddos’ room that is home to all of the Peruvian items that we have been able to find.  I hope they like it as much as I do!

  • Imagine this dialogue between me and the recorded voice ("Maria") from my Pimsleur language course, then switch the language to Spanish, and then file the whole thing under conversations I will probably never have in my life.
  • MARIA: Do you see that woman over there?
  • EM: Yes, I see her.
  • MARIA: She is very big.
  • EM: Yes, she is very big.
  • MARIA: She is North American.
  • EM: Why do say so?
  • MARIA: Because she is drinking milk.
  • EM: Yes, North Americans drink a lot of milk.
  • MARIA: She has two big glasses of milk. Maybe she is sick.
  • EM: Why do you say she is sick?
  • MARIA: Because people drink milk when they are sick.
  • EM: Perhaps she just really likes milk a lot.
  • MARIA: Perhaps.
  • EM: Goodbye, ma'am.

Adopted: We Can Do Better is one of the best documentaries about international and transracial adoption that we have watched, and I recommend it to anyone who is pursuing this type of adoption.  It took us a while to track it down, but interlibrary loan was able to come through for us.

Adopted is primarily the story of Jennifer Fero, a Korean American who was adopted as an infant and subsequently raised in a white community.  As an adult, she is still struggling with her identity as an Asian woman, and she believes that her parents, though loving, did not support her self-discovery and actualization in the ways that they could have.  Admittedly, they adopted her in the 1980s, when there were not yet a lot of studies or research on the subject of transracial adoption, and though Jennifer understands that about them, she is exactly right when she says that she expects today’s adoptive parents to do better.

Though Jennifer loves her parents dearly, she explains that she felt hurt that she grew up in a “colorblind” environment in which her race was largely ignored (except for the inevitable bullying at school).  She, like many adoptees, wants her race and culture to not only be noticed, but celebrated and respected and explored.  Race is a huge part of a person’s identity, particularly when they live in an environment where they are noticeably in the minority.  As Jen’s parents are both ailing with severe illnesses, she is running out of time to fully connect with them in the way that she wants to.  Jen is so honest and open throughout the course of the film, and it is incredibly valuable to hear her speak so frankly about what she has gone through and is going through as a result of her upbringing.

Dovetailing with Jennifer’s story is that of the Trainer family, currently in the process of adopting a little girl from China.  Wide-eyed and hopeful, they are just beginning their journey as a multiracial family and considering the challenges and joys that will come along with having a daughter who doesn’t look like them.  

This is such an important film, I was moved to tears multiple times, for Jen and for the families.  Bee and I are both grateful that we got to see it, and it was a wonderful conversation starter between the two of us.  We want to do right by our children, and this DVD really drove that home for us.  We are committed to always keeping adoption an ongoing conversation in our household, long after the paperwork is finalized.  Adoption is a lifelong journey, and I just hope that we are equipping ourselves as well as we can for it.  Highly recommended.

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At the festival we went to recently, they had a selection of Peruvian food that we could try in the cafe.  In addition to a big plate of yucca fries, I also opted for arroz con leche, or rice pudding, and it was pretty satisfying.

A dessert made with rice, golden raisins, cinnamon, and milk (and probably other things too), my pudding was dense and warm and sticky and sweet, but not too sweet.  It was a nice balance between sweet and savory, and it was a lot more filling than other rice puddings I’ve had before.  Overall, it’s a dish I would have again happily, and I imagine it wouldn’t be too hard to try to make it myself when I have a little time to play in the kitchen.

We just got an email that our dossier documents are in Peru!  

Our lawyer down there will be working to translate everything into Spanish so the government can review our case.  We are one step closer, bebés!