Saturday, April 30, 2011

Settling In...

This is how a Mommy and daughter are supposed to look, but it took us a while to get here.
She let me hold her, but not too tight. She let me kiss her... if I was quick about it.
She wanted to be in my arms, but her arms stayed locked against me.
I did my best to wait. To give her time to trust me and time to need me. And best of all, love me.
But it was hard to do...
She began to lean back on me if she was tired, but only for a few seconds.
When she put her head on my shoulder I wanted to do a jig! It was like a tiny miracle taking place.
I would point and mouth, "Look!" to whoever happened to be next to us.
She started to cry when strangers tried to hold her. I felt bad for the stranger, but great for me.
That meant I was somebody to her.
Each morning I brought her into bed and tried to snuggle. Instead she just wiggled and pulled my hair.
If she did let me hold her close, it was only for a fleeting moment and I held my breath the whole time.
Then one morning she scooted herself down, under the covers, and settled into the crook of my arm.
She picked up my hand and put it on her head so I could scratch it.
I happily obliged.
Now that is our routine. We cuddle while I rub her head and she usually falls back to sleep.
And sometimes I do too.
This is what it looks like... so easy and natural for most moms.
But for us, it took a lot of work.

Friday, April 22, 2011


You can always count on me to freak out if you tell me about an App that actually impresses me. I don't have that many on my phone, but if I run across a good one, I get happy. App-Happy, to be exact.

Scott showed me an app called Run-Pee. Their tag line is:

Helping your bladder enjoy going to the movies as much as you do.

Now, I usually don't have to leave in the middle of the movie to go to the restroom. I do however, have a few smaller, cuter versions of me who often tell me they have to go....and it's ALWAYS right at the good part. Well, I now have this handy app to assist. This is how it works:

You walk into the theatre and sit down with your GIANT Coke. Then you go to the app and select the movie you are currently viewing. The screen is black with yellow and white lettering so you don't bother other movie goers. You push start when your movie begins. Runpee will tell you when the perfect time is to run and...well, pee. You quietly stand up and make your way to the bathroom. As you are peeing you can read the quick summary of the part you missed! So when you come back, you are up to speed, and feeling happy.

It's a lot of bang for your buck. I think I will try it out this week, but first I will swing through Starbucks and get a Venti Iced Coffee so I can really put it to the test.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Got Milk? Got Mucus?

Got Milk? Got Mucus?

Mothers have been telling their children to drink their milk for decades. In fact, it has been forced upon them as if it is some miracle liquid. There is a sense of pride a mother feels as her kids guzzle the last drop. They feel great knowing they are providing such wonderful nutrition to their kids. In fact, they feel guilt if their children DON’T drink it. If they question the health benefits of milk, they are branded as “ignorant” or even “cruel.” But why would they question it? Don’t we all know that “Milk does a body good?”  It does do a baby’s body good, but why do we as adults buy into that?  Babies are supposed to drink milk until they double their birth weight, but we are the only species to sport “milk mustaches” into adulthood. This brings me to the ad that caught my attention and the marketing campaign that has convinced millions that milk is crucial to your health.  Who funded this ad?  Who conducted the studies proving milk is beneficial and even necessary? The Dairy Industry.  They spend a half billion dollars each year convincing us that you can be slimmer, smarter, stronger, and sassy if you just drink that glass of milk.
The “Got Milk” ad portrays many people (usually famous) standing there with a tennis racket, a guitar, or in a bikini, and on their top lip is an adorable, youthful milk mustache.  The words next to the ads remind you that by drinking milk you are going to ward off osteoporosis, and obesity. Oh, and you will be a sex pot to boot.  Healthy and hot-what more could you ask for?  One specific ad I was reading has Elizabeth Hurley lying in the sand with a skimpy swim suit on.  Her hair is flowing all around her and she is lying there surrounded by little footprints and a shovel and pail.  Her hands are behind her head and she is smiling slightly. The ad reads
“Shocked I am a mom?”
She looks alluring and appealing. She seems to be begging you to come and get her. But who is she drawing in?  Who are the advertisers are trying to convey a message to?  What is this ad trying to say to us? It seems there is more than one message behind this campaign.  In the book Writing Analytically, Rosenwasser and Stephen state that one way to draw out the hidden meaning in something is to make the implicit, explicit. To take what is suggested and make it overly stated. ( p. 6)   I can look at this ad and make a quick summary of it by what I see in the forefront, but when I look at the details of the photo and what is being implied, then I am able to better understand what it being said.  
 I don’t think men are the audience being targeted here. They don’t care if they look amazing in a swim suit. Kids are not the obvious target. They don’t drink their milk in hopes of becoming sexy. Women are the ones who are being appealed to. The message behind the innocent milk mustache is if you drink this, you will transform from the plain housewife into a sex goddess. You will be beautiful and magnetic. So what if you end up with a ridiculous milk mustache on your top lip? Men will want you!  They want you to believe that milk is the key to being desirable. Never mind the fact that the Dairy Industry is releasing most of the studies claiming milk as a weight loss tool.  Milk is designed to turn a 45 lb calf into a 400 lb cow but that fact wouldn’t bring in the bucks.
They skew facts to fit their agenda, and they are free to do so because they have such a huge budget. They have been so successful in this campaign that hardly anyone thinks to question their credibility. They have swayed a whole culture into believing what they say is fact. They have tempted you with beauty and scared you with the threat of brittle bones.
This ad would be harmless if not for the fact that milk can actually be harmful to you. What are the ramifications of this ad? The sheer amount of milk people ingest causes some to shudder.
Mike Adams, editor of Natural News conducted an interview with Robert Cohen, author of “Milk, The Deadly Poison.”  He claims it is downright dangerous to ingest dairy products, especially milk. It is packed with calories, hormones, and carcinogens.  He says milk causes so much mucus in your body, that when you give milk up you can lose three pounds of mucus alone. It is linked to sinus problems, rashes, stomach cramping, allergies, heart disease and even cancer. There are many studies that show milk can actually deplete calcium from your bones.  It also makes you smell bad. The Japanese have coined a term for Americans. They call us the” Butter People” because they can smell the rotten dairy seeping from our pores.  I couldn’t help but wonder which deodorant Elizabeth Hurley wore to keep the photographer from gagging? Or how about taking a picture of a man wearing a milk mustache on his way into a triple bypass surgery?
I bring the opposing view up only to show the incredible success of this ad. Even though there is sufficient alternating evidence showing that milk is not a healthy substance for people, the Dairy Industry has convinced us otherwise. Fear is a strong motivator in advertising.  If a parent walks into a room and says her children are not allowed to drink milk, they are viewed as irresponsible.  Parents buy milk without thinking twice. If you think your bones and your children’s bones will snap in half unless you consume milk, you will never be without it. They also use sexism to draw you in. If beautiful celebrities are looking at you with with a white upper lip and a rock hard body, you will toss a gallon of milk in your cart at each grocery visit.  “Milk, It Does A Body Good,” was a brilliant angle to use for health and beauty conscious Americans.
Interpreting these messages is important so we can find the real meaning behind what is being shown to us.  We need to view these ads analytically before we spend our money and form opinions about products.  The “Got Milk” ad hides it’s agenda behind beautiful celebrities, and doe-eyed children.

  They manipulate with the threat of disease.
They entice with the promise of beauty.
                 I am a mom, and a woman. I want my kids to be healthy, and I happen to want to look sexy, but I question the fact that a glass of milk will produce those results.  The Dairy Industry is making huge health statements that are backed up by their gigantic budget and their own agenda.  Milk is big business.  And it’s become the cultural norm to drink it every day, with every meal.  It takes a lot of critical thinking to see past it all, and find the real intent of this advertising masterpiece.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ok. I am not a techie. In fact, I am SO far from it. I have mentioned before that anything I manage to do on the computer is sheer luck. And I am amazed when it actually works out. When I call tech support (or Beau's friend Robert) and they tell me what to do to fix a problem, I have to ask them to start by saying,

"Michelle, please walk over to your laptop and pick it up."

We then proceed from there.

The thing is, I do want to learn! It just doesn't come natural for me. I have gone back to school recently in hopes of earning a degree in Journalism. It's something I have wanted to to for a long time and I am thrilled/scared. But when I ask certain questions like,

"How do I make my screen brighter?"

 I can just see the other person trying not to look shocked.

 I think it's funny I am in school with Tayler. She and Kyle and I went to an orientation for online classes at the college. We laughed at how silly it was that we were riding there together. We got there late, which was blamed on me, and walked into a full classroom. It felt so awkward ( and so familiar) but there were three computers open in the back of the room. I sat between Tayler and Kyle. The instructor asked us to please turn on our computers and follow along. Of course...MINE wouldn't work. UGH.  I leaned forward and whispered.

"PSSST! Tayler! I need help! My computer will not turn on!"

She mouthed something but and then turned back to her computer. I didn't blame her, everyone was looking at us. I couldn't believe it. So I turned around to ask Kyle. He wasn't allowed to ignore me. I could tell he was trying not to draw attention to us. He tried to tell me what to do. Then he said,

"Oh, there... you just it turned off. All the way off. "

I assured him I didn't do it. It was not my fault. I had the "lemon." (Of course I did.)

Finally the teacher came over to try and help. She said,

"Oh.... I guess it's broken."

I turned around and gave Kyle a smug look. and mouthed,


I am now in my third week in the Angel online classroom and have figured it out for the most part. Still, it isn't something I just automatically know. It's really trial and error for me. And sometimes I feel so ignorant. But when it DOES work, it's such a great feeling knowing I just conquered a little bit of technology.

 I am glad the instructor told us there were no silly questions.
 And I am glad I can't see her face as she reads my questions.

Oh, and I am glad I am finally going back to school.
Even though it felt like it was too much right far so good.  :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thanks Kyle!

I have to say it is great having Kyle around. He is Tayler's boyfriend, but he is also our friend too.
It's like having another child around ...but one that doesn't talk back, is helpful, thoughtful, and fills in wherever needed!
I have seen him stirring soup with Havensong on his hip, hanging curtains, hauling furniture, and picking up Beau from school when we forget to do it.
 ( And that is often)

Chase thinks he is his personal board game buddy. I think Kyle played games with him for three hours today. Well, other than the time he spent helping my mom hang up a Shakespeare quote on my wall. (Which turned out nicely.)

Is this what a Son-in-Law is like? A Boy Scout in house to lend a helping hand?? (Cheerfully!)

( Oh wait, Kyle IS an Eagle Scout...)

 If so, then what have I been worried about for all of these years?

While Beau is laying on the couch eating chips, Kyle is painting walls.

 He is a good guy.
And this is my little token of appreciation.
Thanks Kyle!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Chess Mom?

I am a Dance Mom. I know how to make a bun in 45 seconds. I can pin plaids and sand shoes with the best of them. (Ok, I always ask the other Moms to pin the plaids.) I know the world of dance and feel at ease there. I know the steps by heart and could dance them myself if not for the fact I would mortify my kids. I know when the bagpiper is playing the sword dance too slow- even if I do watch it through my fingers. I can pick out the winners before they are even announced. I can pin numbers, pull up socks, iron kilts, and have bobby pins coming out my ears.  Tayler and Autumn have boxes of medals and ugly toes.
Yes, I am a Dance Mom.

I am learning to be a Piping Mom. I know they play "tunes" and not "songs." I get chills when I hear Scotland The Brave even after hundreds of times. I know what  drones, chanters, sporrans, and glens are. I drive insane distances for Highland Games and lessons. I know that Nails are not used to hang pictures. I hate to fly but I am pretty sure I am going to Scotland next year to watch the RMM Pipe Band compete in the World Championships. I hear bagpipes even when nobody is playing them. I need to go buy a water trap and hemp.
Yep. I am also a Piping Mom.

But a Chess Mom?

I don't know....I am pretty clueless in this area. Chase adores Chess. He can play for hours and not get tired out. He's tried to teach me but it never goes over very well. I don't think I have the "chess gene."

This weekend he took part in the chess division of the Youth Fair.  Yesterday they had a little tournament and he placed second. He was pretty excited. Last night he kept telling me today was a real tournament. I didn't think he knew what he was talking about, but he insisted. He woke me up early and got me out the door on time. (GASP!) We pulled up to the fairgrounds and there were HUGE chess pieces in front of the doorways and on top of a car.

"Wow!" I thought. "They went all out this year."

We walked in and I was shocked at how official it all looked. There were tables everywhere with chess boards set up. I decided I needed to stay there for the day since it was so crowded. I got the baby all settled and found Chase deep in thought across from a kid, plotting his next move. I couldn't resist the cuteness of the situation and decided to take his picture. I walked up to the table,  told him to smile and clicked away.

"Ummm, You can't do that" I heard from a man behind me.

"Oh! I'm sorry!" I said, turning to face him. He was looking at me like I had three heads.

He went on to explain that you were not allowed to approach the kids, much less take mug shots. After I looked around I realized how silly I was to not know that. All of the parents were far back. I felt like an idiot. I then overheard them saying it was a district competition and those who qualified would go to state.

 I had just stepped into one of those sub cultures, like dance or piping, or Star Trek conventions. I was totally out of the loop. I went and found a chess dad and he filled me in on everything. It took about 30 minutes.

Ok....I got it.
This was a big deal.
And I needed to show a little respect.

Chase won two games (matches? sets? ) Then he lost his next one. He came to me with tears filling his eyes and his voice kept catching as he told me. He kept saying,

"Now I can't go to that other place!" (State)

It was one of those moments when you can hardly stand it because they look so sad. In other words...."Owww."

I was trying to be comforting but was a bit confused because he didn't even know he was going to be in this whole thing until, well....yesterday. It's not like we had been building up to this moment.

"Chase...... its ok," I told him.
"You've only been dreaming this dream for like.....45 minutes...."

( I know what you are thinking...but I said it nicely.)

I hugged him and promised him I would find out how to get him more involved. He looked at me for a second and then told me to just Google Whatcom County Chess.

Yes....good place to begin.

I am more than happy to become a Chess Mom. Because when I watched his face while he was playing, he looked happy. Like he'd rather be sitting there than anywhere else. It thrills him, and I could hear his little wheels turning from across the room. And I've been told you can learn a lot of life lessons in chess. ( I had already learned a couple myself.)

I had three thoughts while I stood there in that hushed environment.

1. I need to learn the rules of this game.
2. I need to talk (and laugh) quietly.
3. I need to buy a  very strong close up flash of course.

Any chess mom knows that.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Half The Sky

Holding up Half the Sky

One day an elephant saw a hummingbird lying on its back with its tiny feet up in the air. "What are you doing?" asked the elephant.
The hummingbird replied, "I heard that the sky might fall today, and so I am ready to help hold it up, should it fall." The elephant laughed cruelly. "Do you really think," he said, "that those tiny feet could help hold up the sky?"The hummingbird kept his feet up in the air, intent on his purpose, as he replied, "Not alone. But each must do what he can. And this is what I can do."
— A Chinese Folktale

As most of you know, we have completed our adoption and Havensong is now home. It has been one amazing journey and she has been such a joy to watch as she blossoms more and more each day. While I am so happy for us and for her, there are many children who do not get adopted and who never find their forever families. Half the Sky Foundation was created just for them by Jenny and Richard Bowen who adopted in 1997. They were amazed at the transformation of their daughter who was very behind due to her time spent in an institution. Their hope was that all children would have a chance to grow and thrive with the love and attention that all children need and deserve.

Half the Sky’s mission — to provide family-like nurturing care in the lives of orphaned children — was clear, but the effectiveness of its first pilot programs, launched in the summer of 2000, was an open question.

Could infants thrive under the loving care of their nannies?
Could children living in institutions and enrolled in Half the Sky’s Little Sisters Preschools become eager, happy learners when nurtured in a stimulating environment under the care of teachers trained to patiently encourage children to make developmental leaps?
Could Half the Sky’s staff develop deep emotional bonds with children living in institutions, the bonds of attachment that are crucial for children’s healthy development?

YES! And since the pilot programs were put into place all of the Half The Sky programs have turned out to be a huge success and have provided orphans the chance to learn an grow in loving nurturing environments. They provide training for nannies, and offer the only home like setting most of these kids will ever know.

They have the respect of the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA), the adoptive community and many businesses and private organizations who support their efforts. Individual families choose to support this organization by hosting birthday parties and requesting guests donate to Half The Sky rather than bring gifts. Children host bake sales, lemonade stands and car washes. Every bit helps stretch their efforts across China.

I spoke to a representative recently at Half The Sky, and she told me that the CCAA would like them to reach all of the orphanages in China within five years. They make such a difference in sometimes very sterile environments, transforming orphanages into family like settings. They give the children a chance to feel loved and important. Opportunities open up for these children in so many wonderful ways, from enriching experiences to  furthered education.

 I feel so relieved to know this because it breaks my heart knowing there are so many children who will not be adopted. I am thankful such a wonderful group of people have taken this on and have made it something so helpful, live changing, and beautiful.

Doll Arms

Whenever I need a good laugh, I watch the Doll Arms skit on SNL. Kristin Wiig is so funny. Every now and then SNL stumbles upon a comedic genius, and she is one for sure. She is a favorite around here and the kids act out all of her skits. She has perfect timing and just plain shines when she is on stage. Tayler first showed this to me and I was so surprised at how hard it made me laugh. I remember being busy when she told me to come and watch so I did so reluctantly, but when she came out with those tiny doll arms I lost it. I realize I may be talking it up too much, but each time I view it I laugh.

The other night Beau jumped into the van and said "Hi Mom!" When I turned my head I saw he had a little doll arm waving at me. My mouth dropped open as I looked at him smiling with his cute dimples and waving that tiny little hand.
I am sorry, it just strikes my funny bone.