Friday, April 27, 2012

AVERSE AND ADVERSE

I am averse to change, and this "new blogger look" is having an adverse affect on my comfort level.

I don't really see any improvement and don't quite understand the need to create this kind of user-discomfort.  What for?  To seem "new", "trendy" - not to get stale?

As everyone can see, I haven't been writing too much lately and the reason is twofold - one is that I really am hard-pressed at work, but perhaps the greater reason is self-editing.  I know that none of my children want me to write about them (anything good, bad, or indifferent) where people they know can read it.  That seems a reasonable desire, and to continue to do it seems disrespectful.  If I hadn't made the error years ago of letting people I know IRL have this address it would be fine, but I did - but it didn't turn out that I wanted to write the newsy, cheerful little blog I envisioned then.  And just considering the Golden Rule - I wouldn't want the kids keeping a blog that mentioned ME (to say the least!)

So, what with the kick in the shins from blogger, I thought "I will start a WordPress blog!  What the heck!"  Then, just now, I attempted to post a respose on mamaporuski's blog and (as is typical at least 50% of the time) I wasn't allowed to do so because I wasn't "logged in" or my information wasn't acceptable to them in some way.  There must be some disconnect between how I log in here (at home) versus how I log in at work, or something, because WordPress and I just don't seem to get along anymore.  And I don't want my readers to have that issue.  I love every comment.

So,  I guess I'll stick with blogger, but I have to somehow figure ot how to go anonymous...Then I'll give all you non-local friends the new address. 

Now, for some reason I can't even get blogger to allow me to put in a picture today.  Maybe it is a sign I should drop blogging altogether. 

Signed,

Highly Frustrated


Friday, April 20, 2012

QUICK TAKES FRIDAY

[I note this almost looks like a cooking blog.  Practically all the photos are food!]

1.  I went to the eye doctor and to my amazement was told that my eyes have gotten BETTER and I don't need contacts any longer.....at least my eyes are now 20/20 for both near and far.  However, the contacts corrected them to better than that, so I am not sure..... I'm trying it bare-eyed, to see what I think.

2.  I finally negotiated with Lansing Public Schools for Anastasia to do home-based education - we meet a tutor at the library twice a week for an hour and a half or so.  She is whizzing along with math, and giving this lady a run for her money.  I love to see Anastasia at school; she is so sincere, serious, and just - genuine....  Her masks come down and she is sweet, shy, calm.  It is as though one is seeing the "real" Anastasia, with all of the burdens and stressors that come from family and social relationships completely absent.  Or is it that she feels capable and smart?  I don't know; but I love it.

3.  We celebrated "Zhen Day" at the end of March. Zhen asked for only "useful" gifts - a hat and glasses.  That hat is actually getting a lot of wear - but by Maxim, not Zhen.  I expect he will take the glasses on his trip to Florida.  His class is going to Disney World in May.  He's playing CIA here.


4.  Today Craig and I are leaving for the Parenting in Space conference.  I am so looking forward to this, despite a great deal of trepidation about leaving the kids home alone.  Fortunately, Sergei and Maxim are really responsible....but only Maxim is good to Anastasia.  The social scene is all just a bit tricky....but I don't really have any other option but to let them fend for themselves.  They have good neighbors to call on if something goes amiss.

5.  One of the "bigges" recently was the Mom's and Preschoolers Easter Activity morning last Friday.  It went great.  I had all the kids make the Resurrection Buns; that was a huge hit. Then, last night was Confirmation.  For the first time ever, someone asked me to be their sponsor; I was so honored! 

 6.  Ten cupcakes to celebrate Anastasia's younger brother's tenth birthday.  She has always been obsessed by this sibling.  He was born at home and she helped bring him into the world.  Little Denis - a little blond baby -  disappeared into the hands of social workers not many days after he was born.  But it was not before Anastsia had bonded with him, and the loss she felt is something she's been trying to grapple with for all the years I've known her.   We heard he had been adopted by an Irish family (hence the theme of our decoration), but I have not been able to locate them.  Just knowing he was well, and having a photo would mean so much to her.
6. Maxim is my chief kitchen helper.  I LOVE having his assistance with dinner.  And a time or two he has made dinner pretty-much by himself.   This was hash (delicious!) which he made from the left-over corned beef.


7. My Iraqi friend invited a bunch of ladies to her house last Friday night for dinner.  It was just an amazing meal!  And I think an evening party for all ladies is just a great idea.

I have to share that one of the most special aspects of the meal was the beverage served beforehand - an Iraqi "martini".  It was served in martini glasses, and had vodka, but othewise was not much like a martini - The beverage was served in a glass bowl, and was really this gorgeous bowl of berries - raspberries and blackberries surrounded by a light vodka-based liquid.  You got a glass of the berries and liquid and a little spoon.  Delicious and just lovely!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

SOMETIMES I ACTUALLY WORK

A few years ago one of my religious education students was still standing in the doorway when everyone else had been picked up.  This little third grader was the daughter of a prominent cardiologist and her parents are very on top of things so I wasn't concerned.  Usually, if this happens, I have to comfort the child, but this little girl began by assuring me:  "My dad was supposed to pick me up, but, well....you know....sometimes he actually has to work."  I could hardly stifle my laughter.

Well, I actually have to work, too.....in addition to handling crisis after crisis, and driving to therapy in distant cities.

This has seemed to be a particularly busy and stressful year, somehow.  I thought I'd just share a few photos and a run-down of a few of the things that have been keeping me busy:

There are always Confirmation events (2 a month!)

And I hosted a Bingo Night for the Religious Ed families
There is a bit of a funny story behind this.  For many years, before I became Catholic, one thing I thought was just wonderful about Catholics was how they built community by getting together to play Bingo!  Little did I know that Bingo is, whenever I've seen it, simply a fundraiser to keep a school open....drawing not on parishioners, but on the wider community.....  I was so disappointed!  I vowed that I'd darned well, make my mistaken vision a reality - at least for one night.  It was; it was a lot of fun.

And we had our Annual Mother/Daughter Conference
The point of this conference is to introduce young girls to the idea of the many changes which accompany adolescence.  It works beautifully, setting mom up as the expert and confidante, "breaking the ice" so to speak so moms and daughters can feel comfortable talking about these things, and presenting some of the "basics".  Usually I have a special speaker who does that "the basics" part.  I do something sweet about imitating the saints, but this time my special speaker couldn't come.  I tried to get someone else, to no avail....this less-than-easy talk was left in my lap.  Oh, well - there is a nice video which covers most of the "difficult" parts.  But - wouldn't you know!  While it worked perfectly the last time we did this presentation, this time - it was dead.  It would not work; I couldn't find the copy.  There was nothing for it - I was left to replicated ALL of the "difficult" content.  But, as so often happens.....my despair led to coming up with a slightly different way to present the stuff; my prayers availed me of the help I needed to un-clench my jaw and talk.....and it went really well.

And we put on our Easter Vigil Afterglow (beginning at 11 p.m.)
I am totally confused as to how a big social, food-service event became my responsibility.....everyone rises to their level of incompetence, I guess.  But, it went fine....and my varicose veins didn't even suffer as much as last year.  I thought the room looked attractive, and the food was pretty good, too.

During Lent I led a weekly faith-sharing group

I took a photo of this corner of the room I used just to show the custodians, actually.  Since I got really tired of having to move that big heavy couch all by myself into this position every week.  There is no reason it can't stay just this way!

During Lent we had a big "Intergenerational Lent Event" - which was a "biggie" as you can tell:

I think they had fun!
We got them "up and moving around" (as they say)

And on Palm Sunday weekend we had our Butter and Chocolate Lamb sale to raise money to donate to New Horizons for Children.  That was an enormous amount of work, but we made over $800 I think.

I should have some photos of butter lambs around, but I don't for some reason!

Now we are moving into first communion season.  We have a Solemn First Communion Mass on May 5, but for a variety of reasons there are always a number of children who make their first communion individually....as this little girl on Easter morning.  (So much for Easter breakfast......)


Monday, April 2, 2012

APPROPRIATE ADOPTION LANGUAGE

In a recent FB post someone asked about October Baby.  There were a few follow-up comments about "adoption language" and how the film had some that was "inappropriate".  Rather than writing a book for a comment, I decided to write a post instead.

The delicacies of "Proper Adoption Language" now amuse me, because despite my care and "sensitivity" - my adopted kids care little for them.  And, somehow I think proper respect requires me to see them as the experts.

In their effort to communicate clearly, the most typical and natural language is what they use. (Usually labeled "negative" or "inappropriate" by those who set themselves up as experts.)  My children never hesitate a moment before saying that they were an "orphan", or designating their birth mom as their "real" mom - the two biggest no-nos.

For a while, I tried to nudge them toward "appropriate" language, but I now believe that in doing so I was being insensitive.  My children have made it clear that they do consider their biological mothers their "real" mothers.... Most of my children remember their mothers.  None of them have one positive memory to relate....but, that doesn't mean they should have to deny reality. They would all say that I am "nicer", "better", "more loving" and the mom they are supposed to be with  - but to be fair, we all would say that our mother is the person who gave birth to us.  Am I supposed to deny my adopted children their reality?  I do that by insisting that the mother they remember wasn't actually "real".   And if I call one of their moms their "birth mom", they give me a bit of a confused glance....it occurred to me, they don't remember their birth - so what's that about?  They remember being their mother's child.  They remember calling her mother.  They remember other people referring to her that way - and now I am supposed to tell them that was all wrong?  She was just a "bio-mom"; I'm their "real" mom.  Talk about insensitive!

A couple of years ago I boldly stepped forth and attempted to start an "Orphan Ministry" in our church.  This is not a typical feature in Catholic Churches....though the Church does a lot around the world and locally caring for orphans, the ministry does not usually trickle down in a hands-on way, at least overtly, to the parish level.  I wanted to change that.  To my amazement, of the seven people who came to our first meeting, three of them were there to blast me out of the water for using the word "Orphan".  (All were professional social workers, by the way.)  Let me tell you, in their righteous indignation, they completely took over the meeting.  Despite their expertise, though, none could give me another word to describe a child without parents.  Instead they were trying to push the ministry to care for foster children.....who are "not all orphans" as they pointed out.  No amount of my trying to say that it was actual children without parents I was hoping for the organization to help, made any difference. The first six months was spent "finding a new name" since (obviously) "Orphan Ministry" wouldn't work, scriptural or not.  We finally settled on "Loving Homes for Children" which, while nice and "sweet" - means nothing to people.  We've not gotten one new member under that name, whereas even now occasionally someone will call to say that they remember one time seeing something in the bulletin about our parish having an "Orphan Ministry" - were they dreaming?  What is language for, if not to communicate?  By using the politically correct wording, we can sometimes completely fail to do that.

I notice from an on-line list that we are supposed to say "Court Termination" rather than "taken away".  Oh, how gently put - but when my daughter remembers vividly having the authorities come and physically TAKE HER AWAY - isn't it a bit insensitive to sugar coat what happened?  Children don't care about court.....but being taken away - they understand and remember that.  Every detail is seared on her memory....and I am supposed to refer to a  court order?

How it tore my heart when Ilya said "My mom didn't want me."  Oh!  Ilya - you can't say that!  You should say, "placed for adoption" (according to the inappropriate/appropriate translation list).....only, of course, he wasn't.  He was first unwanted. Not being stupid, he could tell, and he's told me.  Then he was given up (another no-no) to his grandmother (but he considered it a blessed event), then he was taken away from her, and now he says "I'm adopted."   Am I supposed to say, "No, Ilya.  You can't say that; say you 'were adopted'."  I suppose we are supposed to imply by that last nicety that he is now my "real" child.  But, that is too sweet, too simple, with none of the truth in it.  My children feel they belong in our family, but they are not confused about how it came about, and the difference between them and the kids we gave birth to.  I hope (and believe) that they would say we love them just as much (it is so true), but they realize that they are adopted...and in saying so they attest to the truth and complexity of their lives.  I refuse to tell them that is inappropriate.

Who are we supposed to be protecting with this "sensitive language"?  I wonder if it isn't ourselves.....perhaps we don't want to have to consider the pain in adoption.....  By sweetening the language, we sometimes remove the truth, and I just don't think that is doing anyone any favors.