Thursday, November 13, 2008

Love in all its many forms

Eliana has entered a new phase in her artwork. Whereas before she was more abstract, her drawings now tend to reflect what is going with her today. Let's take a look at a recent piece:

Cute, yes? Now let's zoom in for a closer look:

If you look at the center of the photo, you'll see a little person with a line extending from her lips to another person, and a heart next to him. Yes, I said him. His name is Tommy.
I first heard of Tommy on the way from school a few weeks back. Eliana told me she had made up a song for a boy in her after-school program. It went something like this: Tommy cutie, Tommy funny, Tommy sweetie, I love Tommy. This may have been wishful thinking, but I assumed Tommy was another 5-year-old whom she was chasing in the playground, or something equally innocent and innocuous like that. So I asked her:

"Eliana, how old is Tommy?"
"Umm....I don't know."
"Is he in kindergarten?
"No. I don't know how old he is, but he's definitely not in kindergarten."

Well that had me a bit more curious, so I made a mental note to ask her to point him out next time I picked her up. Her after school teacher, Ms. Jodie, beat me to it. A couple days after the Tommy song, Ms. Jodie asked to speak with me before I gathered my child and headed out for the day. She told me that Eliana tends to follow Tommy around most days, and he tolerates it very well and is very nice to her. That particular day, however, Tommy wanted to play with friends his own age. Meaning boys who are 10 years old. Yup, Tommy's in 4th grade. An older man, if you will. Anyway, Eliana was apparently beside herself, wailing and sobbing about how she loved Tommy and he didn't love her back.

Sometimes, as a parent, you experience things you didn't really prepare yourself for. This was one of those times.

I stared back at Ms. Jodie with what I'm sure was a blank look on my face, totally unsure what the appropriate parental response was supposed to be. Ms. Jodie said that she thought it was fine, she just wanted me to know. Ok.

The next day, Ms. Jodie once again pulled me aside, this time telling me that Eliana crawled into her lap with a big smile on her face and announced that she had given Tommy a big ol' kiss. Apparently, she was pleased as punch about it.

Sometimes, as a parent, you experience things you didn't really prepare yourself for. This was one of those times.

I stared back at Ms. Jodie with what I'm sure was a blank look on my face, totally unsure what the appropriate parental response was supposed to be, and feeling a little inadequate that I was now 2 for 2 in that area. Ms. Jodie went on to explain what seemed to me to be a very complicated conversation she had with Eliana about how Eliana had to get our permission to kiss Tommy, and Tommy needed to make sure his parents were OK with it, and then Eliana had to ask Tommy if it was OK, and then I guess it was fine?

Paul handled it thusly:

"Eliana, at school there is a rule that you can't be kissing boys. So no kissing boys at school, OK?"

As far as I know, she has not made any further advances on Tommy. She did, however, tell us the other day that she kissed one of her girlfriends on the mouth, because the other girl asked her to.

Again, not ready. Just so not ready! If I thought this was her way of imitating behavior, if she was talking about having boyfriends but clearly didn't know what that meant, if emotionally she seemed to be feeling no differently toward boys than anyone else, I wouldn't care. But you can see it in her eyes when she talks about boys (she also loves a boy in her class named Anthony, or as she apparently refers to him, Sweetie Pie): she has feelings for them! She's only five!!! I was supposed to have at least 4 more years of opposite gender aversion!! Better yet, I was still holding out hope that she would prefer girls, which hasn't been ruled out given her kiss-on-the-mouth experience with that other girl, but you could tell it was different. She didn't dig this girl the way she digs Tommy Boy. I can't even believe I'm writing this. What on earth am I in for?!

Complete topic change

Speaking of preferring girls, I want to take a moment and get what may be perceived as a bit political. It breaks my heart that California's gay marriage ban passed. When there are so many horrible things happening in the world - rape, abuse, starvation, preventable diseases, unimaginable poverty - why do we expend so many of our financial and emotional resources fighting love? Millions of dollars go into these campaigns to ban gay marriage. Think of how many microloans could be made with that money that could transform third world communities by providing women with the start-up funding they need for their own business. And instead, we're spending it to say that marriage needs to be between a man and a women. Why? Because that's the way it's supposed to be because that's the way it has always been. Which is the most nonsensical reason I've ever heard. What if those in power had successfully used that rationale to prevent women from voting, or to prevent black Americans from having equal rights under the law? What if we used that rationale to justify slavery? After all, the Bible talks about slaves, and slavery in some form has existed throughout the history of civilization. Doesn't that mean it should always exist? So has spousal abuse. So has prostitution. We talk about the sanctity of marriage, so then why not ban divorce if we're so concerned about it? Oh, right, then it might affect us, the majority, and that's not the point at all.

If Jim and John who live next door to you get married, express their desire to be committed to each other until death do they part, how exactly does that affect you? How exactly does it affect anyone?

I get so sad when I think of the thousands, perhaps millions, of couples who have once again had to hear that their love for each other is not valid because it is directed at the wrong gender. It's love, people. Please think through whatever gut-level aversion you may have to the idea of a man with a man, or a woman with a woman, and remember that they are people in love. How would you feel if that were you? Go ahead and believe that it's wrong. Go ahead and attend a church that agrees with you. I don't care, quite honestly, and you have the right to believe whatever you want to. But why the need to turn that into a law?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

News and a question

So much going on!! So, so, so much going on!! I'm thrilled to say the business is growing like a big organic weed. Well, I guess right now it's still a little organic weed, but it's growing quickly and we couldn't be more excited! Or more tired! This Saturday I will be on everything green radio (, which broadcasts on an AM radio station here in the Twin Cities, but the specifics escape me at the moment. I'll try and remember to post it as we get closer to Saturday. The following Saturday I will be on ShopGirls on 107.1, a fabulous mainstream show that covers everything that is big in the fashion and beauty scene, but locally and nationally. The two hosts are way cooler than me and I am thrilled to get to hand out with them in the studio for a couple of hours!! I will be talking green beauty and am so excited I can barely stand it. Those are just two of the highlights. For more information, you can always go to the Nature of Beauty blog, which you can access through the website, or at

OK, now for a question. This has nothing to do with me or my family, but I want to put it out there, because I need to figure this out. What is the deal with people getting mad when you talk on your cell phone in a coffee shop? Is this just about people being pissy about the whole cell phone revolution in general? I don't think I talk louder when I'm on the phone than when I'm talking to a friend, although maybe that's not true. SO maybe I need to watch myself. But I'm here in a coffee shop, I'm surrounded by noisy women chatting about their lives, and a noisy toddler chatting about whatever is shiny enough to catch his attention, and yet the grumpy old man in the corny singles me out to stop talking on my cell phone. This happened last week, too, and the same hippie coffee shop I go to when I have to take our Suburu in to get repaired (which has been way too frequent as of late). Some lady told me that it was rude to talk on the phone in the coffee shop. I don't get it. This isn't the library. Is it more rude to talk when my fellow customers can't hear someone talking back to me? Does the brain register one-way conversations differently? Do people want the coffee shop to be a library with espresso? Or maybe we still tend to talk louder on the cell phone, due to those early years when a call to someone a block away had the clarity one would expect from calling Siberia.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Cell phone use in coffee shops: OK? Rude?

Monday, September 29, 2008

First day of kindergarten and more new pics!

Hello, everyone. Once again, long absence. Things continue to be insanely busy. I keep telling people that I always feel like I'm out of breath, and most of the time my touchie hasn't left the couch. Of course, said touchie's definitely confirm that I have in fact been spending most of my time sitting on the couch. The business is going very well. Very, very well. It's the hardest thing we have ever taken on - yes, including the two children - but just like with the girls, it's amazing to see the direct connection between what we put into it and what we get out of it.

Still, this post is to put new pictures of my girls on the blog. Eliana started kindergarten a few weeks ago, and LOVES it. "Totally awesome" are her words at the end of most days when asked how her day at school went. Meron's verbal skills have taken off to the point where her daycare providers doubt she can really still be less than two. I believe she must be, but it sure adds a little pain to the heart to know that we will never know for certain what her actual date of birth is. She is so sweet, and so funny, and I just dote on her to the point of ridiculousness.

Here they are, the two cutest, smartest, funniest girls in the entire universe.

First day of school:

My girls being lovey and adorable:

Compatible senses of humor:

Can you even handle those dimples?!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Introducing The Nature of Beauty

OK, I'm pretty sure no one is actually reading this anymore, but I wanted to at least post a little message here to let you know that our business is up and running. We are The Nature of Beauty, LTD, an online (so far) organic and natural beauty and personal care retailer, selling 15 lines of amazing products from around the world - seriously, from Ohio to New Zealand. We are adding a couple more lines of products next week, and hope to continue doing so regularly as things get going. Competition is not strong at this moment in time, but quite honestly we should have put this together at least 6 months ago, if not a year or two ago, because we're going to find ourselves in the midst of some crazy expansion in this area in the next year. So hopefully we can move fast enough to keep up! The site it here:

I'd love feedback, questions, comments, whatever you got. Later, I will post pictures of my honey babies, as they are amazing as always. Seriously, I am enjoying being a mom way more now than at any point in the last 5 years. I love love love having two girls. I still don't want to be a stay at home mom full-time, but I'm very motivated to work from home. We have to let our nanny go, though, because we aren't selling our other house quickly and may not for a while. We just can't afford two homes and a nanny (go figure). I kind of can't believe we're not sinking faster than we are. Anyway, the point is that life is good, the girls are wonderful and so smart. Eliana is now doing puzzles with 750 pieces that are for kids ages 12 and up. Watching her do them is almost creepy. She has a bizarre gift for this, and I'm not at all sure what that means for her future. She's not this gifted at reading or things like that, but her penmanship is quite honestly better than Paul's, and this puzzle thing is incredible. Something about her visual-motor skills and IQ. I imagine I'll bring it up again in more detail...once I know what that detail might be.

I will try and write more when I have another moment!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Update, long overdue

I want to apologize for the loooooooong delay in posting. I have a good excuse, though: Paul and I are starting a business. So between working full-time, taking care of two children, and starting a new business....well, I'm sure you can understand how updating my blog has been pushed to the backburner. But on the bright side, we're starting a business! Can you even believe how crazy we are?! Just when you think I can't possibly outdo myself in the contest for Most Insane Woman Ever, when it seems like I may have finally settled down and committed to a normal, boring life, I dream this up. But when you finally learn just how brilliant and amazing our business is going to be, you will understand why I have been up every night until 11pm putting this together. Unfortunately, it would be a poor business decision to splash our business plan all over the Internet (OK, so I get that this blog does not equal "all over the Internet," but still, you never know who's out there). However, if you happen to have my contact information, and you're dying to know what I'm up to, feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email.

In other non-kiddie-related news....well, peripherally it's totally kiddie-related....I have big, fat ADD. Yup. Apparently, I've had it my whole life. 35 years of undiagnosed, untreated ADD. And yes, I know, I've managed to do pretty well in life, considering. But now that I'm medicated, and know what I'm dealing with, I can't help but wonder how life would have been different had I known, had anybody known. You see, I also have signs of chronic anxiety (I got to do a qEEG as part of my psych testing), chronic jaw tension, and chronic over-functioning. In other words, I have probably compensated for the ADD by trying so hard I've tried myself into a neurotic ball of tension. Let me share just this little piece of data: The bizillion hours of testing they put me through found that my ability to sustain attention and focus on both visual and auditory stimuli is in the <1%,>99%. In other words, I am willing to try and try and try and try and try and try, even if I'm getting nowhere. In which case I apparently keep trying. I won't go on ad nauseum about this, but it hit me pretty hard to have the last 35 years of my life summed up in a bunch of numbers and diagnoses. I guess I can relate to my patients a little better now.

If you're wondering how this related to the kiddies - or rather, the kiddie - it would appear that Eliana has inherited some of my genes. The doctor who assessed me described what the same traits would look like in a young child, and it was as if he had spent hours on end with Eliana. Now, we're not exactly about to diagnose the kid before she's even entered kindergarten, but had you been there, hearing what the doctor said ADD coupled with anxiety coupled with a very high IQ would look like in a 4-year-old, you would see no difference between his description and our offspring. So at the very least we will need to keep that in mind as we make choices like schools and such for our bright, active, hypervigilant little person.

I hope you've enjoyed your update. Maybe not what you expected, huh?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Happy Spring!!

Latest quotable quote from my eldest: "Mom, I ate too much at breakfast. I have a feast in my tummy; a colony of food."

Another good one: "Dad, I won't be able to turn you into a king for two whiles." In other words, Eliana figures that if you can say, "I'll do it in a while," that must mean taking longer than that requires "two whiles." I plan to use it at work ("I won't be able to get that report written for two whiles," or "It'll be a lot of whiles before I'm able to do a simulation at 11:30pm for the India office.").
On another note, it's Spring!! Yay!! We kicked it off with an earlier than usual March Easter, complete with freezing cold wind and lots of snow. But that didn't stop us from having a lovely morning full of Easter eggs, pretty dresses, and happy family time. Well, most of us were happy:

In case you're curious, here's the deal: I can never get my two girls to smile for the same picture at the same time. It's logistically impossible. Either Eliana is smiling while Meron looks devastated or furious, or Meron is smiling and Eliana looks like she will be taking the short bus to school in the fall (I just delete those pictures, so I have nothing to show you as evidence). Separately, though, they are quite the photogenic pair, so maybe they just aren't interested in sharing the spotlight.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Kindergarten, Parenting, and Mike Mauseth

The countdown is on - we registered Eliana for kindergarten. It's an emotional time for most parents, I think. Their baby is growing up, it's the start of a new era, and so on and so forth. For me, it's not really so much that she's growing up. I actually love it, because as she gets older, I enjoy parenting more. We get to have conversations, share our thoughts, she even coaches me when I'm being hard on myself during a mom-daughter craft project ("It's OK, mama, it doesn't have to look just like the picture").

No, the emotions I can barely hold back have to do with my own experience of elementary school. To put it bluntly, grade school was hell. The worst 7 years of my life, bar none. It all started in kindergarten, when I realized I had no social skills. Or rather, the other kids realized I had no social skills. It's amazing how quickly little people catch on to that sort of thing. I didn't know how to break into groups of children playing. I had a hard time understanding the rules of their games and figuring out where I could fit. In short, I just couldn't connect.

In the middle of first grade, my family moved to a new part of town and I had to go to a new school. I was given my first nickname on my first day at the new school. As most of you know, my last name was Elofson. Say it out loud and you realize - as did the very clever Mike Mauseth - that it sort of sounds like Elephant. Mike chose to yell out his brilliant revelation while I was still standing with my mother and new teacher: "Elofson? Hey, that sounds like Elephant. Ha! ha! ha!" And what better way to begin one's career at a new school than with a nickname like that?! The writing was on the wall. Mike, and grade school, would torture me for the next 6 years.

By third grade, things had gone from bad to hopeless. Not only was I socially inept, but I was also very tall and very smart. Did I mention we were pretty poor, and so most of my clothes were from Target, long before Target clothes were cool? Oh, and I had ginormous glasses and long, stringy hair because I hated washing it and my parents were all about letting us make our own choices. So, let's see: no friends, tall, smart, huge glasses, greasy hair, bad clothes. Yeah, I can't imagine why things didn't go so well for me back then.

I don't intend to write an autobiography here, but I wanted to give you a bit of my background so you can understand my nearly posttraumatic reaction to Eliana starting kindergarten. I cannot bear to watch a person I love as much as her go through something that devastating and truly (and negatively) life-altering. We already got feedback from her preschool teacher that she's getting into fights with some of the other kids because she wants to join their games but does not want to follow their rules. She doesn't understand how to adapt, she gets frustrated, starts crying, and when I hear that, I want to start crying, too. She has an amazing preschool teacher who is helping her learn how to be more flexible, and we're doing our best to model that behavior at home, too, and help her practice. But what if she ends up like me? What if she has no friends by third grade and comes home crying all the time, confused and lonely? What if she feels sick every day because school is so chronically stressful?

To be honest, I think I'll home school her if things go that poorly. I know, some of you probably think it's best to make her deal with it. But I'm not sure I agree. Maybe if I am there to school her but also provide more structured social opportunities to allow her to learn in a more guided fashion how to navigate the social parts of life, maybe she would be spared the trauma I think forever altered my ability to adjust to new situations and new people. I don't want to overreact, and I don't want to assume that just because she's having a few problems now it means she is turning into me. After all, many of the circumstances are different, and she is not me.

Hopefully, all of my fears are unnecessary. Hopefully, Eliana will never lose the amazing self-confidence, sense of humor, and love of people that I'm not sure I ever possessed, and maybe that will serve as a buffer for anything life - and other children - will throw her way in the coming years.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Here's Meron today:

Here is Meron's hair:

And here is Cosmo Kramer's hair:

As far as I can tell, if I don't figure out how to style Meron's hair soon, the only way you'll know the difference between Meron and Kramer is if you look at the color of skin and the number of wrinkles.

When we announced our plans to adopt, every black woman we met asked us the same question: "Do you know what to do with her hair?" Being the over-confident woman that I am, I'd always respond, "Oh, I'm very good with hair, I'm sure I'll figure it out when the time comes."

Well, people, the time has come and I have no freakin' clue what I'm supposed to do. Part of the problem is that Meron screams when I so much as attempt to put one stupid barrette in her hair. Imagine how well she'd enjoy having me tug and pull on her hair for hours at a time! There are classes, I think, and websites, but that leads us to problem #2: I'm way lazier than I ever thought I was when it comes to my children's hair. Check this out:

Sure, that's first thing in the morning, but if you think I manage to get it all perfectly laid down flat and styled with cute clips and braids and what not, you are sorely mistaken. It pretty much looks like this all day long, only with one lone little plastic barrette trying desperately to keep enough hair out of her face so that she can eat peanut butter and jelly without wearing half the sandwich as hair product for the rest of the day.

So my new task is to get with the program on styling Meron's beautiful yet unruly loose black curls. And to find some pediatrician-approved sedative to knock her out while I practice.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Flagrant self-promotion

Hello everyone! I have no idea who is reading this blog, but apparently it's someone other than me, because I promise you I have not logged in 6,000 times. So thanks for checking in, whoever you are! That is, unless you're some creepy child predator, in which case you most definitely do not have my thanks.

Anyway, I'm writing a quick post to encourage all of you environmentally friendly, or environmentally curious, folk to check out my new blog: I've been wasting so much of my time at work (don't tell my boss) reading about all that is Green, I figured I oughtta share what I've learned with anyone who cares. So check it out.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Eliana: preschooler, dancer, total diva

I'm going to put this on record, because surely my friends and family will not believe me later on when my predictions come true: I did not - I repeat, DID NOT - encourage Eliana to be a performer. I have never pushed her toward dancing or acting, and have never encouraged her to be a total upstager. I have never rewarded her exhibitionist behavior, and have never punished her for not performing on command. And yet, mark my words, this kid is headed toward show business, whether I take her there myself or she bikes herself to the nearest theatre to audition.

The other evening Eliana and I went to a small theatre where several local acts were performing 10-minute samples. I knew she would enjoy the ballet school performance, and hoped she might enjoy watching the Suzuki guitar players (kids) and maybe the magician. Sure enough, she thought it was all pretty great, including the host of the event - a goofy amateur comedian who made very funny faces. While we adults found him a smidge off-target, Eliana thought he was a laugh riot. Of course, he appreciated having a little fan sitting right on the aisle close to the stage, so we weren't 5 minutes into the show before the whole audience knew her name. To make a long story short, by the end of the show, the cheesy country-western patiotic lounge singer had invited Eliana up to the stage with her, most likely because Eliana had been upstaging the poor woman by shaking her groove thing next to her seat like she was at a Hannah Montana concert. Eliana loved being on stage. She was appropriately subdued (she chose to march along to the woman's song, don't ask me where that inspiration came from), but hardly scared.

As we were leaving the theatre, Eliana turned to me and said, "I really loved being on the stage, Mom! That was great!!" She was so wired for the next hour or so, bouncing off the walls and talking about her stage debut without so much as pausing to take a breath, I knew she had been bitten by the stage bug. Not sure what I'm going to do about it, but there's no question there is a part of her that is seriously drawn to performance.

I just wish I had some idea where she got it from.....

Monday, February 25, 2008

Mother Guilt (part 984 of 2,938,218)

As I have made clear in previous posts, I do not like staying at home with small children. I cannot handle hour after hour of rolling a ball, meandering at .00002 miles per hour down the sidewalk, or reading the same 5-page book for the eight thousandth time that afternoon. It makes me sad in my brain. I get sluggish, lazy, depressed. I have no patience with my children, I call Paul and yell and cry for no reason, I eat too much, I can't seem to figure out how to make it to the gym or take out the garbage. In other words, I kinda stop functioning. So it's no surprise that I do not like staying at home with small children all day every day. In a way, going back to work is simply the obvious choice, as I cannot tolerate the alternative. Plus, I love working. I love having a job that challenges me, gets my brain revved up, puts to use the 28 years of education I endured. I truly enjoy working.

Which may have you wondering, what's my point? If it's so obvious that I should be working and not staying at home, why am I bothering to write about it....again? After all, most mothers out there still work, I'm hardly out in left field.

My answer is, I'm writing about it again because it's not a simply either/or decision. What I dislike most about having children is that there are so few decisions that feel best for me and best for my children. Whether it's our choice of vacation spots, Paul's and my need to get away and be alone together for a few days, or even getting the optimal 30 minutes of exercise every day while still achieving the best-practice 8 hours of sleep every night, the decision that is best for me is so often not what's best for my children. And that is no more obvious than when I'm trying to think through work-home balance.

Now, I'm not saying that mothers working outside the home is bad for children. I don't think it is, especially not when we're talking long-term effects. But in the short-term, well, my kids want me home with them. Eliana wants me taking her to preschool and picking her up, she wants me to take my turn reading a story to her class in the middle of the day or chaperoning a field trip. Meron's wants are somewhat more straightforward: she wants to be touching me every minute during which she is awake. And I can do none of these to their satisfaction while I'm working full-time. Sure, I can drop Eliana off once a week or so, and I can probably manage to chaperone a field trip before the year is up, but it's not as much as the "other mothers" are able to do (all of Eliana's classmates save one other mother work at home). And I don't have a prayer when it comes to satisfying Meron's desire for all Mama all the time. So I usually go to work feeling like I'm failing my children, and go to bed feeling like they did not get enough time with me.

Working part-time is clearly the ideal solution. I have figured out that much, in case you were wondering if my brain was incapable of finding a happy medium. But quite honestly, that is easier said than done. It's a lot easier to do, for example, if you have a few years built up at a job, where you've made yourself indispensable enough that they're willing to let you pull back if it means you'll stick around. But I'm still very much in the early stages of my career. Even when I was planning to go into private practice, the person I was going to going into business with was pushing back on me a bit when I said I wanted to work only 20 hours per week. Not to mention that when you're working part-time in an office or business where most everyone is working full-time, the dynamics can get a bit weird. Not only that, but it becomes all too easy for your 20 hours a week to start looking more like 30 hours per week, plus another 10 that you end up doing from home, because everyone else is still working and so you find yourself getting asked to do something on your one day a week you have blocked off. So unless your part-time job involves working for yourself, it's not always as straightforward as negotiating a cut in hours.

And there's another reason I hesitate to go part-time: I want a career, not just a job. I want to commit myself to a career path and really invest myself in it, become really good at what I do. Working part-time makes that all the more difficult. I mean, really, how much meaningul work can you do in 20 hours? The answer, in case you're wondering, is not much. Or at least, not as much as I want to do.

So there you have it. Two parts of me that are quite large, quite noisy, and fighting for dominance: The part of me that wants to be with my children, wants to sacrifice my sanity a bit if it means they are happier, and the part of me that wants so badly to have a career to be proud of, a career that I can look back on and say, "I did that! Me and my brain and my hard work!!!"

Hopefully some day soon I will figure this all out. Until then, I guess just being aware that those two parts of me exist will have to suffice. In the end, I hope my children grow up to understand that no matter what they think of my choices, I love them very much. And i hope that for myself, I will look back on the choices I made and feel at least mostly good about them.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The First Annual Bly Family Vacation

I know, I know, you might be asking yourself why I'm calling it our first family vacation since last year Paul, Eliana and I went on a cruise. But now we're a complete family, and so this is the first offical family vacation as I see it. We went to Cancun. If you just rolled your eyes, groaned, or thought to yourself, "Gosh, I didn't picture Terri as a Cancun kind of person," well, you're right. I hate Cancun quite honestly. It's dirty, crowded and hell-bent on setting the feminist and environmental movements back 50 years. However, it's also easy to get to, NWA flies direct from Mpls to Cancun, and where else can you find a Chile's on the beach? When you have two small children, sometimes you have to make compromises, and I felt better knowing we would find food our kids would eat, clean(ish) water, and low crime.

We rented a 3 bedroom, 4 bathroom condo on the beach. That, I have to say, was the best vacation-related decision I have maybe ever made. It was fantastic, and so great to have enough space for the girls to run around when we were inside, and a large patio to dry our suits and a full kitchen for preparing meals. I will attach pictures so I don't have to spend too much time describing the place. But if you're interested in learning more about the condo, you can find it at, and go to the link for the condo in Cancun. The owner has two other homes, one in Puerto Vallarta and the other in Hawaii.

Aside from the Hooters, the garbage, and the commercialization, we had a fine time. I wouldn't call it relaxing, since I'm not sure relaxing and children ever go in the same sentence (or blog entry), but it had some very fun moments.

Eliana is a total fish (see pic). She probably spent close to 4-5 hours in the water every day. When she wasn't swimming, she was playing computer games. I will not be posting a pic of that, as it is just not that interesting to look at, and a little embarrassing as a parent to admit I allow my 4-year-old to play computer games at length. Still, she was a blast to take on vacation. She was last year, too. I think it's pretty clear Eliana isn't hyperactive and in need of medication - she just likes to be really active. She was so happy the whole week, so well-behaved, and just delightful.

I wish I could say Meron was as much fun. I don't know if it was being out of her routine that threw her off, or being in a new place, or the two molars she pushed through the week we were there, but man was she off her game. She was highly suspicious of the ocean until the very last day. The pool she loved, as I imagine for her it just seemed like the biggest tubby in the universe. When she wasn't in the pool, though, she was usually in some stage of grumpiness (see pic from our last night at Chile's). She was particularly difficult when we'd go out for dinner and I have no idea what that was about.

My mom came with us. That was a bit of a godsend, as it gave Paul and I one night to go out and have some time to ourselves. We don't do a very good job of making sure we have dates anymore. It was nice to have that time and I think we need to do more of that in the future. Even though there were some difficult moments, overall it was a nice week, and I would absolutely go back there again with the kids - but only if my mom, or perhaps a nanny, came with us! Here are a few more pics of us enjoying the sun, the sand, and the water.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

I have never been so glad to see the back side of a year. 2007 was, without question, an exhausting, trying, stressful, emotional rollercoaster. My only wish for 2008 is that it be less of all of those. And that we are able to dig ourselves out of debt. That feels more like a pipedream, though, than some kind of New Year's resolution, so less drama is the official goal for my new year.

Switching topics now. I want to say to any of you reading this blog because you're considering adoption: It is the best decision I think we've ever made. And if you've wondered whether it's possible to bond with an adopted child as well as with a biological one, my experience has been yes, yes, and more yes. I feel a connection with Meron that I'm not even sure I felt with Eliana at the same age. It's possible that Eliana just never slowed down long enough for me to feel as connected with her. She was either awake and moving, or asleep, without much in the way of transitioning from one state to the other. Meron takes her time to fall asleep, and loves to snuggle in with me before doing so. Lately, she has started a beautiful little routine that brings tears to my eyes every night. She finishes her bottle and I hold her so that her head rests of my shoulder, facing away, and I hug her with both my arms and rock her. After a few seconds, she takes a deep breath and lets it out. I do the same. Then she does it again, and I respond. We do that a few times, and then she lifts her head, looks at me, gives me a kiss, smiles her huge dimply smile, and then puts her head back down on my shoulder. I get a little choked up just writing about it. When we do this, I feel an enourmous connection with her, as though we merge our souls for a few brief seconds, we kiss, and then she falls asleep. It is an indescribably healing, spiritual experience for me, and by far my favorite part of the day. So yes, I have so far had the most positive experience with adoption imaginable, and I love Meron more than I ever thought possible.

Lest you think I'm planning to send Eliana to boarding school next year and forget all about her, never fear. She continues to be a challenge, certainly, but she is a brilliant, delightful, energetic little person who will one day make a noticeable impact on the world, that is certain. She and I are still a team, and love taking her to the movies, the theatre, the zoo, the grocery store, you name it. She's my favorite little companion and makes me laugh on a daily basis. She is now in the process of mastering a 300-piece puzzle, is well on her way in reading, plays computer games on her own, and this afternoon when she was upset with me in the car, muttered, "Mom, you're unbelievable." I could say the same thing for her. She's starting to express some fatigue with having a little sister. The first sign of this was when she was sleeping over at her friend's house and told her friend's mother that Riya (her imaginary friend) likes to kill babies. Call me an over-interpreter, but I'm guessing it may be connected to having a baby sister who most decidedly has been getting on her nerves lately.

Meron, by the way, is now walking all over the place. She has not only caught up on all developmental milestones, but is a little ahead of the average. Eliana is ambivalent about all this mobility. Meron can now take apart Eliana's towers, walk over to where she's sitting and pull on her hair, and follow her around making all sorts of loud noises. It's the noise Eliana complains about most, ironically. Eliana hasn't stopped making sound since she emerged from the womb, so I'm not sure she has much of a leg to stand on when it comes to complaining about another young child's sound production, but nevertheless, she doesn't like the noise. She told me yesterday she wants to trade in Meron for a different baby. I'm going to file this under normal and not worry too much about it.

I'll post Christmas pictures very soon, hopefully tomorrow, so check back.