Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ah, Stereotypes

Is this funny? I know, sad I have to ask. I kind of think it's funny. But then I remember that shirt adoption is the new black, and I know people who were amused by it, but I didn't think it was amusing at. all. Perhaps I don't have a sense of humor about the right things.

Anyway, I got an e-mail from one of my sisters in law, who happens to be Asian (as in, from the continent of Asia-- it's an intentionally ambiguous ethnic descripter). I think it's hil-ar-i-ous. Jason thought it was funny. And so I'm going to share. . . I was wondering if Marcie would think it was funny, too, because she is Chinese. But then I realized that her interaction with stereotypical Asian families will really be kind of limited to other families because, well, I'm not Asian, and the majority of her extended family isn't either. Then again, I'm not Asian, and I think it's amusing.

Ok, enough of a build-up. Here goes:
Top Ten Reasons Why There Won't Be an Asian President Any Time Soon:

10. White House not big enough for in-laws
9. Engineering, medicine, and law always preferred over politics
8. Oval Office has bad feng shui
7. Can't find decent roast duck inside the beltway
6. Secret service can't handle nagging from mother
5. Dignitaries generally intmidated by chopsticks at state dinners
4. No chance for promotion
3. Lactose intolerance not considered politically correct
2. Senior aides won't take off shoes before coming in
1. Air Force One: No frequent flyer miles

And while we're on the topic of stereotyping, Jason added a number 11 to the list:

11. Job does not require math

Yeah. Even typing it in, I still think it's funny and not offensive. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Car Horns

Each Sunday, a group of protesters collects on the corner of our local Target and Albertson's shopping center corner, holding up signs calling for the end of the war and a recall of our troops. They don't shout. They don't even disrupt traffic. They just share their thoughts on giant poster boards.

Each Sunday as we drive by, I comment to Jason that he should join them the following Sunday. He usually acknowledges my suggestion with a nod and a grunt, and that's the end of it. We both know he probably won't. Not because he doesn't feel strongly enough-- he's very well read on the war (and has actually even read the Iraq Report). But more because Sunday at noon is a time for family.

Each Sunday, while passing the group of war protesters, Jason honks the car horn in support.

But it's been a couple weeks since Casey was awake during our drive past the protesters. (And as a side note, I'm pretty impressed this small collection of people protests this way each week because San Diego generally is a very pro-military, and perhaps more significantly a very pro-defense-contractor town.) So this Sunday, as we drove past, Casey participated in our ritual. And made us laugh.

As we drove past, I made my weekly comment, and Jason grunted and nodded at me, and beep-beep-beeped the horn in support of the poster board carriers. And Casey, from the back seat, shouted out: "YOU CRAZY DRIVER! GET OFF THE ROAD! LEARN HOW TO DRIVE!"

And Jason and I burst into laughter. We talked over each other to explain to Casey that the horn was not an admonition (no, we didn't use that word with our five-year-old), but a honking of support for the people standing outside with the signs. Alas, it was lost on him. Casey looked me square in the eye, after I'd finished saying my part, and said, "Yeah, Mom. Crazy drivers," and shook his head in exasperation, as he must have seen us do a million times.

Now I'm not much of a horn-user. And I'm not much of a yeller. So where do you think he got it from? I'm not pointing fingers or anything . . .


This week I am sponsoring DELINDAWATCH 2008: The February California Bar Exam.

It's simple, really. It's named for a good friend of mine whose name is, if you can imagine, Delinda. You can read about her (and her bar exam plight) at Life After Law School, which is a blog favorite of mine.

You see, Delinda is a good friend of mine who did not pass the July 2007 bar exam, through no fault of her own, I might add. Because she studied like a fiend, I tell you. And I know. Because I was there. And her bar results shocked and stunned me. Not as much as they did to her, but stunning I was nonetheless.

But Delinda is a fighter. And she knew that she'd be able to rock the exam if she took it again. And so began her studying. Which she did while working full time. And part time. Yup. Two jobs. And that doesn't count babysitting gigs, which she did on the side. After all, sans license to practice, the earnings aren't so good. Even with a law degree and a master's degree in tax law.

But like I said, Delinda's a real fighter. I've been having dinner with her every other week. I consider my meals my meager contribution to staving off the starvation-induced studying that often accompanies preparing for the bar exam. I could make sure she had at least one real meal every other week. Not much. But something.

And Delinda's been in good spirits. That's not to say she's not bitter. I don't know how anyone could barely not pass and not be bitter. But she's used her anger and turned it on those bar examiners. Because she's a fighter.

So this week is the February Bar Exam. And Delinda is prepared. Dare I say more prepared than we were this summer. She knows her stuff. And she knows she knows it. But I think some people are worried that contacting her to check in and seeing how she's doing and how the exam is going will stress her out. So I am hosting DELINDAWATCH as the liaison to the outside world from the inside world of the February bar.

This morning was the first day of essays. There were three. I am not indicating the topics here in case there are bar-takers who are on an accommodation of kind and haven't finished all three essays yet. When I saw Delinda for lunch, as I will each day of the bar exam, she sounded good. Like she knew she rocked the exam. Because I'm sure she did. She didn't eat much of her salad, though I did chide her into some Pringles (pizza flavored) and a coupla thin mint cookies (compliments of a co-worker who left them for us all to share). And she looked a little tired. But none of that matters. Because she was in good spirits.

I haven't checked back in with her this evening, but I will on my drive home from work. And I expect a glowing report of how easy the performance test portion of the exam was this afternoon. And a promise of a good night's rest before the six hours of multiple choice questions tomorrow.

If you believe in prayer, say a little one for Delinda tonight. Not that she kicks butt on the test. I think she will anyway. But that she has the grace to handle whatever the exam might throw her way. . .

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Midnight Blogging

Okay, so the title of this post is a bit of a misnomer, given that it's 3:15 am as I write. I had planned to post about preschooler sleep issues. But instead I have discovered that it's me. I'm the one who has trouble. At least tonight.

Lately Casey has been waking up in the 5:00 am time range. It's still dark. And it's much too early. We've tried sending him back to bed. He refuses. We've tried letting him just get up and play. But he gets into stuff, especially now that he knows how to open the baby locks in the kitchen. We've tried telling him not to get up before his clock says 6:00. But then he thinks any time he sees the number six, he's complying. I've tried covering the second two digits on the clock, but he's uncovered it.

So what to do? I mean short of locking him in his room, of course. He'd crawl over a gate (or figure out how to open it).

And this begs the question, I think-- will we ever resume any sort of normal sleep pattern? When we decided to become parents, people warned us about all sorts of things. And sleeplessness was one of them. But we thought that would last the first couple years. Not five. And truth be told, Casey has, up until now been a really good sleeper. Still, I can't help but wonder if we could be improving this 5-ish wake-up call time.

Any thoughts?

Monday, February 18, 2008


I found this photo when I downloaded them after the wedding trip. I think Casey must have snagged the camera when I was in the bathroom and snapped this shot of Jason and Marcie. The only thing that would have made it better is if their feet were bare. But apparently Casey has an eye for photographic art. That's m'boy.

Road Tripping

I thought our trip up to Oxnard was a fluke because of its length. But it turns out our kids are just not that good in cars. Marcie in particular. She doesn't like to watch movies. Casey prefers movies to music.

We felt a little badly about piling up the van and leaving Sunday morning because the families had invited us to a "Day After" lunch at the beach house. We knew the kids would love the beach house, and we caught a tiny bit of flack from the groom's family when we said we weren't planning to attend. They had made the same drive, and they also had kids (though a bit older). The thing is, their kids are not our kids, and our kids needed to get home before naptime if we were going to get back on routine. And our kids fall apart if their routine does. So as much as we wanted to go to lunch, we knew it would be better for our kids not to.

Thing started out fun. Marcie played with my beautiful boquet. Casey colored. We stopped for gas as we left town, started a movie, and hit the road.

All went well enough for a long stretch. The first 20 minutes seemed to fly by-- mainly because that same stretch of road took us around an hour and a half to complete two days before. And there were bunches of traffic here and there, but we were never completely stopped. About an hour and a half into the ride, Marcie started crying and screaming that she wanted to listen to music. We gave in, promising that if she stopped crying, we'd turn on music. Then begged Casey to agree. And it worked.

We listened to music for a while, then told Marcie it was Casey's turn to watch some of his movie. She was angry. And she let us hear it. Eventually, about 35 minutes from home, we pulled off the freeway into a rest stop. By then, Marcie was arching her back, kicking and screaming that she wanted out. And Casey was echoing her pleas with whines of his own.

Apparently Disneyland is the exact perfect distance from our home if we want to avoid total meltdowns. If ever I thought a long road trip would be a good vacation plan, I have now adjusted my expectations. They seemed better after their nap.

And this morning, they were asking me about Ann. Where she was. Why. What she was doing. And life was back to normal.

Wedding Weekend

Despite having a horrendous road trip on Friday, the troops mainly rallied on Saturday. I got to spend most of the day with Ann, first getting our nails done, then our hair and her make-up. She got ready in the ranch house in which her grandfather was literally born. She was married on the front porch. The reception was in the barn, and it was a huge, festive party.

I was pretty good about taking photos before the ceremony. Here's a glimpse into my afternoon with the bride (and I must say, it was such an honor to be with her on her wedding day):

The dress:

Ann had a bottle of champagne to share with Julie (now her sister-in-law), who was doing her hair and makeup, me, and her mom. But I've never actually opened a bottle of champagne before, and I couldn't get the top to pop off the way I thought it was supposed to. So I handed it over to Ann to figure out:

She's so expressive, it cracks me up. After she finished getting ready, a phone rang in the room. We all looked at each other, each of us insisting it wasn't our phone. It turned out it was Ann's. She recently purchased a new phone, and playing around with the calendar function, she put her wedding as an entry on the calendar. The phone ringing was a reminder that it was fifteen minutes until her wedding was to start. We cracked up at that. If there were any tension, that certainly broke it.
Downstairs, as we waited for the last few guests to be seated (that would be Jason and the kids who had front row seats), I grabbed a shot of Ann and her brother (her dad walked her down the aisle, but I'd already handed off the camera to Jason by then):

I have some other nice pictures, but they all involve minors, and I'm just not comfortable posting their picture to the Web, so you don't get to see a photo of me because I couldn't crop the flower girl out of them. But I looked fabulous. Just ask my kids.

Speaking of kids, right after I got to my spot on the stairs of the porch, Marcie saw me and burst into tears. I was willing Jason to remove her immediately (with my eyes, of course) because I didn't want anything to interrupt Ann's big moment and big day. I know if Marcie had come running up to me and insisted on hanging on to my leg, Ann would have been cool with it. But not me. I wouldn't have been. Fortunately, she calmed down right away, and when she started crying again later in the ceremony, Jason did step away with her. Casey didn't just let Marcie steal the show, though. He managed to announce quite loudly in the middle of the Blessing of the Hands, that he heard a train pass by. I'm hoping no one noticed but me-- that everyone else was too intently focused on what was happening between Ann and Mark to hear my kids. And if anything, the experience has reinforced my love of child-free weddings.

Don't get me wrong. Casey and Marcie feel a special connection to Ann. Ann is Casey's Godmother. She even danced with him at the wedding. And it probably would have felt strange not to have them with us. But when 8:00pm rolled around and our kids really began losing it, I was wishing we'd brought a babysitter with us so we could stay and have fun after sending our kids back to the hotel. Jason and the kids left a little after 8:00pm, and I left about an hour later, feel quite awkward about leaving the reception so early and yet also feeling odd about sticking Jason with them in the hotel. I didn't actually leave until closer to 9:45, but I said my good-byes to Ann around 9. And Casey was still awake when I got back to the room.

As for the rest of the reception, I think my toast went fine. It's been a long time since I spoke in front of 200+ people, and I forgot the one joke I was going to tell. But I think I did okay.

The kids had a blast rolling around the barn. There were a few openings that left me nervous-- behind the bar and behind the band, but for the most part the kids stayed out of trouble. Marcie managed to get a giant splinter in her hand, but Jason was able to remove it. The wine was imported from an exchange student friend of Mark's-- from Italy. And there was even a chocolate fountain to go with the fresh, fresh strawberries from a nearby farm and neighbor. Ann even thought to pack each child a kiddy bag, filled with a kid cup and a pad of paper and markers and a bottle of bubbles. My kids used the paper pads to draw on our way home the following day:

I hope Ann had a day and a night to remember. I know I did. . .

Saturday, February 16, 2008

On the Road

I tried blogging from the road yesterday, but neither Jason's i-phone nor my Blackberry would let me.

For all the traveling we've done with the kids, we've never stayed in a hotel with the two of them over night. Until now. One of my very best friends and Casey's Godmother is getting married today. And we left town to participate in the wedding.

Jason and I took the day off work. We picked the kids up from school around noon and headed north toward Oxnard for what should have been a three hour drive. Four in traffic. I feel like we headed off with Gilligan and his friends because almost six hours later, we drove up the driveway of the ranch. Yep. Six hours.

Needless to say, things didn't go terrifically well in the car. Casey told us he wanted to go to Ann's house or asked us where Ann's house was about every 45 minutes. At one point, about 4 1//2 hours in, Marcie began screeching in the bag seat, sobbing and screaming that she wanted us to turn off the movie. That's bad enough when you're traveling at full speed, but we were crawling in the single digits. I don't know how Jason maintained his composure. And if Jason weren't with me, I might have lost mine.

So we missed the Rehearsal. And we were even 10 minutes late to the Rehearsal Dinner. Despite having been cooped up in the car all day, the kids were amazingly well behaved at dinner. Casey hadn't slept all day, and both kids fell asleep at the table. Casey nodded off and woke himself up when his head hit Ann's mom's beautiful suede jacket. So Jason checked out of dinner early and took the kids back to the hotel.

I thought they'd both be asleep for sure when I got back in a little after 9:30pm. But no such luck. They were wiggling in bed. And just as they were about to nod back off to sleep, someone checked in to the room next door. With a small and very loud child.

I would normally feel just terrible that my kids have been up since 6:00am and don't really understand how to use their library voices for more than a few minutes at a time, but since they kept us up until after 10:00pm, I don't feel very badly at all.

In just about an hour or so, I'll head out with the bride to begin our primping for the big event. I'm so happy for her, the thought of her pending nuptials literally brings tears to my eyes.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Pay Back

When I was young, I was quite verbal. And quite direct. And neither of these traits were particularly positive. At least if you believe my mom. Apparently I had a knack for pointing out the obvious in the most inappropriate times and places, and in the rudest manner possible. Of course, when you're young-- really young-- it's not quite fair to say it's rude or inappropriate because little kids just call it as they see it. And I was the poster child for this.

For example, once in the checkout line of a grocery store, I (allegedly) asked the checker something along the lines of: "What happened to your face? You have an ugly line on it." My mom calmly told me it was a scar and it wasn't ugly, and then probably hurried me out of the store. I guess I was the kind of kid that would ask, "Why are you so fat?"

I find this odd for two reasons. First, I was attacked by a dog when I was four years old (maybe I was three, but I think I was four). It was a dog I knew. And I was completely taken by surprise when it bit a chunk out of my cheek and tore at my left eye with its paw. There was no eye damage, but there's a small scar there. And I had a giant scar running the entire height/width of my right cheek where the dog had oh-so-kindly removed a chunk. Reconstructive surgery was out of the question because the scar ran across the soft part of my face. And so I learned to live with it. The scar is pretty small now. Some people don't even know I have a scar. But mostly I think people just are too polite to mention it.

Why does this matter? Well, I was pretty sensitive about the scar, and my looks, all through elementary school. And it seems inconsistent that a child so self-consicous about her own looks would be so inconsiderate in commenting about others' looks. And yet my mom certainly has no reason to be anything but honest about it.

When I got older, she used to tease me that some day I would probably end up with a child who also had a knack for stating the obvious in the most uncomfortable situations.

And here I am. Decades later. And it's pay back time.

Today I took the kids on a walk, and they asked to go to Starbucks. As we waited for my coffee (my caffeine kick before the hike home with two tired kids and one slot in the stroller seat), a Casey noticed a young-ish woman in line. I saw her when I first came in and didn't think much of it. I thought she was with a couple standing directly behind her in line, and she initially appeared to me to have Down's syndrome.

After she ordered her beverage, she moved over to the waiting area, across from where Casey and Marcie were sitting and snacking on their banana bread and drinking their chocolate milk. And then Casey asked me loudly, "Mommy, why her have a funny face?"

Immediately, I felt panicked. "Shh, Casey, I admonished. It's not polite to comment on people's looks."

But Casey didn't get the hint, "But Mama," he insisted-- quite loudly again, "Why her have a funny face?"

"Casey," I replied in a hushed tone, "we are not going to talk about it here. Everyone is pretty in their own way. You can be friends with people who have all different faces. Go ahead and say good bye to her."

And as quickly as I could, I tried to pack up the kids and scoot out, Casey gawking at her the whole time and me trying not to notice the people around staring at us. I did look the woman in the face as we left and say, "Hey there. Have a nice day." And Casey did softly say good bye (it would figure he'd be quiet then.

Outside I asked Casey why he thought the girl looked funny. Mind you, he didn't use the word ugly, and I don't think she was. But there was something different about her. In retrospect, after I said good bye, I realized she didn't have Down's syndrome. The top part of her face was set forward-- significantly forward-- of the bottom part of her face. And that made her nose look big (though it was a sort of a button nose). And she had braces. And freckles. But heck, I had braces and freckles. Baby I had a funny face back then, too.

Casey couldn't give me an answer. I don't think he could articulate it. And I can't really blame him. She struck me as unusual looking too. And I can't really describe why. And I'd like to think my language skills are a little more advanced than my five-year-old son's are. But I was still embarrassed. I have no idea how I'll handle it the next time he says something truthful yet embarrassing about a person. And yet I have no doubt there will be a next time. Because we all know that our kids are all about pay back.

After reading this post, my mom informed me that the woman in the grocery store didn't have a scar at all. What she had was a mole on her face. And I'd never seen one. And I didn't say anything to the checker; instead, I loudly asked my mom what happened to the lady's face and what was on it. So even more like my situation with Casey this morning than I'd thought. And when I asked my mom for some advice- when I asked what she did, she chuckled. She tried to shush me, and then outside the store told me it was rude to point to people and stare. So pretty much same reaction I had to Casey. But not much help.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Happy (Chinese) New Year!

Last year we made such a big deal out of Chinese New Year. Actually, we didn't, but Jason's mom cooked a big meal, and we dressed Marcie in her "red couch" outfit from China.

This year, the date actually slipped my mind until it was upon us. Somehow I managed to dress both kids in red before sending them off to school (though this was pure luck). But I forgot to send either of them to school with our "China box." This is a plastic container filled with artifacts from China and a couple books. I like to try and send it in a few days before Chinese New Year so that the teachers can let the kids manhandle it.

Last year Jason's mom went into Casey's classroom and even did a presentation. I'm hoping she'll have time to do the same thing this year, but I haven't been very on the ball about arranging these things. Sigh. Maybe we'll do something this weekend.

Anyway, gung hay fat choy (Happy New Year-- phonetically speaking)! And welcome to the year of the rat.

I dragged Jason to a Puget Sound alumni reception. Tonight I met a zoo-keeper and a woman training for triathlons and exchanged information. They are younger alumni and both happen to be originally from Boise, Idaho. It was nice. I plan to totally take advantage of my new zoo-keeper contact. For instance, tonight I learned that invertebrate animals (like spiders) shed their exoskeletons. It's like shedding skin, but it's not skin. It's the exeskeleton. And that means when you find those "dead" spiders and bugs in cracks and crevices of your window and door tracks that seem to blow away, those aren't the animals' decaying bodies. Nope. They've just shed their exoskeletons because they've grown. Which is a cool fact to know on the one hand. On the other hand, that means the spiders are still around. And that's at least a little bit creepy.

Monday, February 04, 2008

China's Spring Festival Storms

One thing I haven't much talked about on this blog is donating to charity. I mean, I have mentioned how much I like St. Jude's. But beyond that, I don't think I've said much. Because this is a blog not just about me and about my family but also about international adoption, I think this post is relevant and probably long past due.

For those of you not aware of the goings on over on the other side of the world, China has been hit by some pretty severe storms, killing off crops and dipping temperatures pretty low. This has affected orphanages because goods cnanot be shipped to them.

If you have some extra cash to spare and you either have a child waiting for you in an orphanage in China or you care about the children waiting in a Chinese orphanage to find their families, the good news is that there's something you can do.

Half the Sky Foundation is an organization that sponors four programs to improve the lives of children who spend their first months and years in an orphanage in China. There are other great charities which also provide support for orphanages in China (and in other parts of the world), and perhaps I will post about them in the future, but today I'm writing about Half the Sky.

Right now, Half the Sky is keeping tabs on how several orphanages are doing during the Spring Festival Storms. And this is not a cute name for an actual spring festival. Things are not good. You can see the list of orphanages Half the Sky works with and their needs on this website, and if you feel so inclined, you can donate so that the children and caretakers survive the storms (literally).

Although Marcie's orphanage is in Chongqing, it is not one of the orphanages Half the Sky works with. There is an orphanage in Chongqing that is asking for floor mats and warm blankets right now, but it's not Yunyang. This worries me a bit because Yunyang is very rural, and if Chonqing orphanage is struggling, things can't be looking so good at Yunyang Chenxiang. I don't have any control over that, of course.

Anyway, I don't exactly understand how your donation right now will immediately help these children if the issue is a shortage of commodities-- I mean if goods can't be shipped, what are they using the money to buy? I don't know. But I do know that the organization is reputable. It's a charitable organization, so your donation is tax deductible. And it's financials appear to be relatively transparent, as they include them on their website. So your money won't go to waste, that's for sure.

If you have another, different, favorite organization you want to encourage people to give to, feel free to post it in the Comments section!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Faster and Higher

Casey received a Stride Rite gift certificate from his birth family not too long ago. Casey was a little pidgeon-toed when he was younger. And he walked on his toes. He wore one of those braces at bedtime for almost a year. It's a distant memory now, but I hated putting it on him at the time. The pediatric orthopedist who saw us told us that wearing properly fitted shoes was really important for Casey. And that he was less in-toed with shoes on than off, which is unusual. But we followed the doctor's instructions. And spent more money on his shoes than our own.

If you've followed the story of Casey for any time, you know that he's got a bit of a shoe fetish, though I don't think fetish is quite the right word for it. The boy has probably 5 or 6 pairs of shoes. He loves them. We always try to buy him at least one decent pair. And by decent, I mean Stride Rite. They are so pricey, but they last forever, and the people there make sure the shoes fit correctly. Don't get me wrong, I love Target for character shoes just as much as the next guy. But they aren't the best things for kids' feet. And yet we can't get Casey to wear his good shoes all that often.

Last week he wore an old pair of Cars shoes. Old enough that the toe was all scuffed and the velcro piece had been re-stapled together more times than I can count. When he came home from school, he announced, "These shoes are broken. I need new shoes." Of course we'd been telling him the shoes were broken for months and begging him to get rid of them. I guess his teacher's opinion is more valid or more important than ours when it comes to shoes. But we sure didn't argue.

We headed straight to Stride Rite to try on some good shoes, which we purchased with the gift certificate from Grandma Linda and Papaw Jim and Haley and Bryce (Casey's siblings). Here are some photos of our adventure:

Casey tells me he runs faster and jumps higher in these shoes. I almost believe him.

Flower Delivery

On Monday I went home from work sick. I'd planned to go right to sleep, but I decided some nourishment was in order, and I ate a can of chicken noodle soup. About 15 minutes after I'd finished, when I was still lounging uncomfortably on the couch, Jason walked in the door. With take-out from Souplantation. My favorite chicken noodle soup. Mmm. Of course I ate more soup. What a thoughtful man. It sure is nice to have a spouse who works close (in proximity) to our home so he can surprise me with such treats.

He confided that he was bummed I'd left work early because he'd actually had flowers delivered to me. Not ten minutes later I got an e-mail on my Blackberry that a package was waiting for me at the front desk. I had to wait to see them until Tuesday, but I enjoyed them for the rest of the week. I've never gotten a flower delivery before. They're beautiful:

Saturday, February 02, 2008

My Future Family

So now that the brunt of the cold seems to have passed, I can get back to more important things, like blogging. Jason has cautioned me against writing too much in a single post (which I apparently am already generally guilty of), so I'll have to break it into a bunch of smaller posts over the next few days. Despite being sick last week, I do have things to write about-- like Casey's new shoes (compliments of Grandma Linda and Papaw Jim), the bachelorette party I sort of hosted, and an image of Casey's name-writing abilities.

For those of you who don't know, the wait in China is growing by the minute. We knew when we opted to return to China for B.S. #3 that it was probably a 2 - 3 year wait. But now we think we may be looking at more like a 4 or even 5 year wait. As our paperwork was submitted in October of 2007, it means getting a referral in around October of 2011 and traveling in early 2012. And that puts at least 6 years between Marcie and B.S. #3, a few more years of an age difference than we planned or are even prepared for. We've decided to pursue an interim, concurrent adoption. And though it's not definite, for the time being, we're contemplating Ethiopia. We are not planning on withdrawing from the China program. And we're not planning on beginning this next adoption process until the summer, probably. The plan is to be home with B.S. #4 (out of order, we know) some time in mid-2010. We'll decide what to do about our adoption from China as we acclimate to being a family of 5. If we decide to proceed (which is our current plan), instead of a 6 year age gap, we're looking more at a 2-3 year age gap. Not sure how we'll afford four kids. Or where we'll sleep them all. I mean, our house isn't tiny, but it's not roomy either. Four bedrooms and 1700-ish square feet feels crowded awfully fast. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Anyway, I'm documenting our Ethiopia journey (in case that's the ride we decide to take) at Seeking Baby S. in Ethiopia. I'm pretty must just posting Ethiopia-adoption-related items there right now, but who knows how it'll grow.

Now you may be shaking your head at us for mixing and matching children from different cultures into our family-- or even contemplating doing so. And you're certainly entitled to your opinion. We're no Brad and Angelina, and we don't have the means to traipse the globe with our klan of kids, reminding them of their roots and integrating cultural information and traditions into our daily lives with great consistency. This is something I struggle with because of course I want my children to feel attached to their places of birth-- it's part of who they are. But in the end, children from Ethiopia need homes, and we have one we'd like to share. So there it is. For now.

Anyway, all this is a very long-winded introduction to two photos my good friend snapped today (unbeknownst to me!) when we were out in a suburban strip mall for lunch with our kids. Because there was no music class today, I took the kids down to Lucas's house for a play date. That's where we stayed during the fire storm, and Casey loves visiting Lucas because Lucas has two cats. And also because Lucas lives near the boats, trains, and airplanes. When I announced we were going to Lucas's house for a play date this morning, Casey's eyes got wide and his jaw dropped open: "REALLY!?!" he cried. And he raced off to get dressed immediately, then proceeded to hound me for the next thirty minutes while I got ready to go.

After music class each week we've been eating lunch together with Lucas's family at Quizno's, which happens to be next door to the music class. Casey was the first one to notice the sandwich joint from their sign. He kept telling us, "It's toasty!" It took me a while to learn that's the advertisement for Quizno's. Apparently Casey has seen this on T.V. and it's made an impression. Anyway, with no music class this week, we decided to at least keep the lunch part of our routine. But the parking lot was a bit crowded, and I parked pretty far away from the Quizno's.

When lunch was over, and it was time to go, I walked the three kids over to my car. Casey had driven to the restaurant in Lucas's car, and we needed to transition his booster back into the mini van. But of course none of the kids wanted to be separated. So Grace drove her car over to mine, and I walked with the kids. And here's how she captured me on film:

Is this my future? I can only hope that in the years to come, when I am crossing busy parking lots and intersections with my children that they, like these three kiddos today, will listen and follow my directions when I call out "Freeze" and "Stay close" and "Hold hands." I should only be so lucky . . .