Thursday, December 31, 2009

A nice change

Being the mother of Natalie, a freakishly beautiful 5-year-old Chinese girl with a speech delay, sometimes involves having to address or avoid answering inappropriate questions or comments.

"Do you know where her mother is?"

"Is she yours?"

"Couldn't you have your own children?"

"Is she just learning English?"

And sometimes even Natalie is dragged into it. Recently a woman asked her: "Do you like your mommy?" As if I were on loan.

I try to be gracious. I smile, and gently correct them. If I can't think of what to say, I simply pretend I hadn't heard. These comments usually come from basic curiosity, ignorance, or biases that grew out of some personal experience. Sometimes I'm able to shake them off. Sometimes I let it torment me for hours afterward.

The other day I took Natalie with me to get a haircut. She followed me to have my hair washed, and stood next to me as the woman worked shampoo into my hair and I watched a fashion show on the overhead bank of televisions.

As Natalie chattered about hair and princesses, the woman washing my hair said, "My cousin adopted a baby from Russia ..." And I thought: Oh, here we go. I'm always braced.

I tensed up a little.

"And hearing your daughter. Wow, she's so advanced, compared to my cousin's son. Probably from you talking to her in the womb."

In the womb. So advanced.

Well what a nice change. I smiled. Closed my eyes. And felt her fingers on my temples and neck and then the rush of hot water on the back of my head.

"Don't worry," I told the woman. "He'll catch up just fine."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Desperately Seeking Sleeping Beauty

Here's Natalie yesterday, just returned from the eye doctor with dilated pupils and wearing her Sleeping Beauty dress. Here's how our arriving home ritual typically goes: we set down our things, let the dog out and Natalie puts on a princess dress. Yesterday she also added a crown, necklace, bracelet and ring. (And wore all this to the park to play fetch with the dog.) I snapped this pic before we took off.

And today, the more I looked at it, the more I realized that she looked like someone I'd seen before.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An excellent idea

I stumbled upon Nathan Bransford's blog today. He's a literary agent and writer in San Francisco. And today he's got this excellent idea.

For each comment his readers post today, he will donate $1 to Heifer International, my favorite kind of organization - one that doesn't just give, but empowers. Heifer International provides families around the world with livestock and training so that they can make a sustainable living. And part of the deal is that they must pass along one of the offspring of their goat or cow to a friend or neighbor.

So I am following Nathan's example. Since I have so few readers (Hi, Dad!), I'll contribute $5 for every comment to this post, up to $100.

And if you'd like to contribute yourself, here is Heifer International's gift catalog. (You can buy a flock of chicks for $20!)

I know times are tight, but it doesn't take much to make a big difference to someone who really needs it.

Merry Christmas!

Snow White in my kitchen

Yesterday Snow White came to bake us some Christmas cookies.

I didn't know Snow White baked, I said.

"Yeah, Snow White makes pies and soup."

All that's missing is a little bird perched on her finger.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Natalie's Dad

This is Natalie's dad.

He's holding the famous Baby Miss Ann. (He calls her BMA.) He brought Baby Miss Ann to Natalie's Christmas pageant so Natalie would know that her baby saw her perform. It takes a special kind of guy to carry a baby doll, nevermind pose with one on his lap. (It's way worse than carrying a purse.)

He's a great dad.

By the way, don't you think I look like The Penguin?


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Like Your Girlfriend

Moving in together, into the new house, has not been 100 percent dreamy.

We've both been stressed. We've both been busy at work. And we've both been a bit scratchy. Not a lot of romance on Mill Peak Road of late.

Today, we went hunting for a fireplace screen, and having found nothing we could stomach spending hundreds of dollars on at a fire place accoutrements shop in La Mesa, we decided to check Target, which never fails us and didn't today.

But on the way to Target, as I stared out the window, sick of the dry heat and my itchy skin, missing my family, feeling in a rut, I felt the car take a hard right. And I looked up to see a flower shop.

I assumed he was taking a shortcut through the lot, but he pulled into a parking space.

I looked at him.

He smiled. "Let's get you some flowers."

"Really? Ok!"

So we went in and didn't see anything we liked until he spotted a greeting card with a great big bouquet of Gerber daisies stuffed in a Mason jar. We handed it to the florist, and returned an hour later to pick up the arrangement.

I held it on my lap on the way home.

"I love them. I feel like your girlfriend," I told him.

"Were you starting to feel like my roomie?" he asked.


"You're my girlfriend. You'll always be my girlfriend."


When we got home the cat ran away.

But after scaling the hillside and shaking his food bag, we found him and he's safe at home now. AND we're going on a date to the movies tonight. How do you like that?

This day turned out much better than I expected.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Full Credit

I can't decide which part of this I like more: Natalie reading or me getting the credit. She may have a future in PR.

(And doesn't she turn the pages with such purpose?!)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Notes from Mom

Sometimes I leave a note in Natalie's lunch.

When I was little, my mother wrote on my napkin. Or drew curly hair and pointy eyebrows on the shell of my hard-boiled egg. I really liked that.

Recently I left this note, after a particularly successful swim lesson at the Y.
She must have liked this note, because it came home from school with her empty bowls and dirty napkin. She asked me to read it a few times, and then we posted it on the refrigerator.

This morning, while straightening Natalie's papers on the dining room table, I found this.