Friday, July 29, 2011


I have gone over and over in my head how to bring up the history of slavery, segregation, and the overall oppression of black people in America, with my daughter. Do I start young? Do I sit her down at some point and talk about it? What will she understand?
And like her being adopted, and having a genetic disorder, I decided it would be best to just start small with things she can understand, and talk more and answer questions as we go along. So I found a book at the library called Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson. It is a child's viewpoint from slavery through civil rights all the way to present day. It's passed down from generation to generation through quilts that showed slaves the way to freedom up North.

As I read to my daughter I had to fight tears. I am NOT an emotional person. But there was just something about sitting there with my daughter and thinking about what her ancestors endured that completely overwhelms my emotion. How can a person really hate someone else so much just because of the color of their skin? How does that hatred go so far as to deem a group of people, as being equal to an animal you could own? I just can't quite wrap my mind around it.

And as I sat there fighting to get through each page in the book I wondered what my daughter was taking in. At some point she asked a question about the pages on segregation. I told her a while ago people with different colors of skin couldn't do things together like we can now. I shared with her the names of some of the amazing people who fought to make it so we can all do things together now. Her response was holding up her arm and saying, 'Abigail habs bwown skin. Mama habs peach skin.' I agreed, and she climbed down from the couch and began building a fly boat (if you don't know what I'm talking about here, read my last post).

But I was affected the rest of the day. I have been watching African American Lives 2 a PBS documentary where a college professor traces the roots of some famous African Americans. All of it has just been stirring my thoughts on race, and what a big mess America has made by trying to make different races. To quote Margaret Atwood, 'I hope that people will finally come to realize that there is only one 'race'-the human race-and that we are all members of it.'

However if the answer really was as easy as everyone realizing that we are all just humans we wouldn't still have the issues with racism that we see now. As a white woman who grew up in a predominantly white world I would have likely believed that racism was not very prevalent anymore.

While we haven't had a large amount of racist interactions, there have been enough at this point for this white woman to realize that even if blacks are allowed 'equal rights' they are not always treated right, or as equals. I don't know how to protect my daughter from it (or if that's even possible). I do know that I am going to do my best to give her the words she needs to respond to people who believe her to be inferior because of the color of her skin.

I think one of the best ways to help her to move forward is to teach her about the past. So I will continue to read, talk, and try to answer questions the best I can for her. If you have any book recommendations (for kids or for me to read), websites that are good, or just advice from a different perspective I would LOVE to hear it. Because for whatever reason, people in America are still being taught to fear and hate this beautiful little girl...because she 'habs bwown skin.'

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wonder Pets, Wonder Pets...

...we're on our way, to help a friend and save the day. We're not too big, and we're not too tough, but when we work together we've got the right stuff. Go Wonder Pets! Yeah!!

Not familiar with this tune. Well then you obviously haven't been to our home in the past six weeks. Wonder Pets is a cute little television show featuring a guinea pig, turtle, and duck who get phone calls to save other animals. They have to work together as a team to problem solve and save an animal. I really like the working together, problem solving, and the fact that there aren't any bad guys. That's our goal in the shows we let Abigail watch at this point. So we mostly stick with Blue's Clues and Wonder Pets. Nobody trying to take their stuff, nobody calling anyone stupid, well you get the point. We are pretty protective of her television watching.
But let me back up a little. We don't actually own a television. All we have is a computer. We received a Netflix subscription for Christmas so all of the shows Abigail watches are on there or on DVD. As a result we have discovered something pretty cool.
Abigail doesn't want anything. She never asks for the newest toy, doesn't have a Christmas list, and doesn't seem to even realize that there are Wonder Pet and Blue's Clues toys available in multiple aisles at a toy store somewhere. Nope. You see, Abigail doesn't see commercials. Nobody is telling her that she needs the newest, latest, look at this gadget and ask you parent to get it for you type of thing. This wasn't intentional on our part, but we will definitely keep it that way as long as possible. I just asked my almost three year old what she would like in her presents she gets for her birthday, her response, 'Big bubbles.' We can so do that.
It has also meant that our little girl has quite the imagination. She watches television about once or twice a week for 30-60 minutes at the very most. Some weeks she watches none. But if you come to our house it is almost guaranteed you will find multiple 'fly boats' being built with different stuffed animals inside and a little girl proclaiming loudly, 'Lenny, Tuck, and Abigail too (or whatever other things she decided to replace the names with). If you had been in Meijer this evening you would have listened to some rendition of that song for the hour we were in there (sorry to those of you who were in Meijer by the way). She can often be found with one of her 'notebooks' (the little tablets that are four for a dollar) putting clues in it and singing a Blue's Clues song.
Once we realized this we have decided to stick with the no commercials as long as possible. It's pretty interesting actually. Since we don't see commercials my 'need' for things has dropped drastically as well. I think the advertising business is good at convincing us we want or need something. I'm pretty happy living in ignorance of all the things I want or need that I don't know about!

Trying to live simply,

Thursday, July 21, 2011


My two (almost three, but not quite) year old is a perfectionist. I didn't realize it until recently. I am a good-enoughist, married to a perfectionist. We tend to balance each other out nicely. He pushes me when perfection needs to happen, I remind him when it's okay to let things go. But our daughter, she's perfectionist to the core, and I'm not sure how it happened.
I know that most studies show that oldest and only children tend to push themselves towards higher standards. Abigail is both of those, for the time being. So I knew that she would likely end up being the kiddo who pushes herself to achieve. I think that might be okay with me, in most realms.

However the things I'm seeing come out already, are frightening. I encourage her constantly. Great job, you can do it, keep trying, you are get the point. But I realized as she was learning to read that if she couldn't get it the first time, she got frustrated and didn't want to do it. I didn't think a whole lot into it, I mean she's two, and she doesn't need to be able to read yet.

Then this scenario played out. I realized my kiddo didn't like puzzles and therefore couldn't do them. I didn't see it as an issue so much as just wanted to encourage her to learn how. So I pulled out our wood puzzles and sat for hours showing her how to make the pieces match 'this is part of a foot, it has to touch the other piece with part of a foot.' Over and over I saw the same thing. She would try to get a piece in, I would let her try for a few minutes and then either encourage her to turn it, or try a different piece first. After about two or three pieces she would begin throwing them, nearly in tears, and yell, 'I can't do it!'

What? You are two. Why are you being so hard on yourself. I mean really, it's a puzzle of Winne the Pooh. This doesn't say anything about who you are or your worth in life. And all of a sudden that same behavior flashed through my head with trying to read. CRAP! My kid thinks she has to do it perfect or she doesn't want to do it at all...

So we are trying even harder to calmly execute new skills. But in reality I am quite frightened of what a two year old showing perfectionist tendencies means down the road. I know where it led Jason, and we would agree that we don't want her to be quite so hard on herself. I want her to try her hardest, give it her best, and know that some people are great at one thing and not another. Sometimes giving your all in a subject in school gets you a C, and that's fine if you gave it your all. What do you do with a two year old who wants to do everything perfect the first time?

My very cute perfectionist.

Trying to show her how to let things be good enough,

Monday, July 18, 2011

where for art thou?

Well...let's see. We have been camping, to visit grandparents in the next state over, swimming, gardening, sewing, canning, freezing, and through another surgery in the last few weeks. I'll try to elaborate a wee bit on each one.
First of all, you already knew we went camping. I posted pictures and the like. Fourth of July weekend we went to Jason's parent's house for a few days. Abigail went fishing for the first time (with no hook), we had a cookout, layed in the hammock, she played with cousins and dogs, made donuts, went to the Farmer's Market with Papa and Grandpa (and cousin Aric), and we celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. Overall it was a delightful weekend.

Abigail and Mama enjoying the hammock.

Making donuts...this is something grandma has done with all the grand kids, but it was Abigail's first time getting to do it.

I think she liked them a little bit.

The swimming and gardening have all taken place in our back yard. We have been trying to stay cool, which is best done in cold water when you lack air conditioning in your home (and the heat index is well over 100). The gardening has been exciting. We have gotten to eat green beans and peas, add some yummy herbs to stuff, and talk about how it is growing. We have some tomatoes that are almost ready, and some basil. So next grocery trip I will be getting mozzarella cheese to make caprese salad. It is a summer time favorite of our Mediterranean loving family.

I have been doing a wide range of fun things with my sewing machine. I made Abigail a sling for her baby doll (purely because I get tired of having to carry her when Abigail wants to bring her along), and found this cute pattern for a little girl skirt. I have made both a single layer and double layer one. I have no pictures of them, but I promise you they are uber cute, and the easiest things I've ever made (they took me 15 and 30 minutes).

Abigail 'fooching' her 'brown baby' in the sling I made her.

I have started putting away food for the winter from our garden, things that are on sale, and things people give me. I made strawberry and raspberry jam, and have frozen peas and green beans. I am looking forward to canning spaghetti sauce for the first time this year using our tomatoes and herbs in the garden, and juice like I do every year. Canning is one of those skills that I am SO thankful it got passed down to me. It saves us so much money every year...and most of my jars/canning stuff are either hand me downs, or items I've gotten for really cheap at a garage sale. After a few years the purchases pay for themselves anyway.

And last but not least, Abigail had her tonsils and adenoids taken out. That, my friends, has by far, been the hardest/most painful procedure she has had to date. We are on day five, and eating is still very hit or miss, even if we offer her ice cream or Popsicles. She is still in pain during the day, but more so is waking at night and during nap crying in pain. She is clingy and just not fully herself. Supposedly though days 3-5 are the worst. So I'm believing it can only get better from here. Although nothing could top our day two where she was in so much pain she refused to even swallow her saliva. We got an extra day in the hospital (2 nights 3 days) because she wouldn't take anything orally, and began vomiting. I don't know if it's always this bad for everyone, or if she just reacted worse than most kids do (although I think most kids are a little older when they have it done). All I know is that the surgery was to (hopefully) get rid of her sleep apnea (and night waking from it) and thus far we have been up every two hours with he since the surgery. And to be honest the last week before the surgery she was up a couple times each night because of the apnea. We are beginning to wonder if sleeping through the night (which she did from 6 weeks until around 18 months) is a thing of the past.

All right, I think that is all of our going-ons. We have lots more fun stuff planned for the summer so I'm sure I'll still be hit or miss in blogging, but will try to keep you updated.

Praying for sleep,