Archive for January, 2008

Only Slightly Crunchy…or How Do I Measure Up To My Mom?

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My mom, June Smith, with her camera.

crunchy-granola (crunch·y-gra·no·la): adjective, slang.  People who embrace such practices as eating whole, organic foods, home gardening, wearing only natural fabrics, lean to the left, practice yoga, make their own yogurt, spin yarn from the wool from their farm, (SHEA), whilst eschewing the pressures to conform to society’s standards of beauty and, as a general rule, tend to wear Birkenstocks, and drink Chai or green tea. 

I am good-naturedly and gently poking fun at this way of life because that’s how I grew up.  I was born in the summer of love (a result of free love, no less…another story…) and my parents, well mostly my mom, were raising me in a way that most people my age weren’t.   My mom made everything and taught me what she was doing while she did it.  We picked berries and made jam from it, she learned to tool leather and made sandals for me.  We never ate out.  My mom had an “ecology NOW!” bumper sticker on her  ’63 volvo.  She was an artist and photographer.  We only vacationed by camping in the Sierras.  And while she didn’t wear patchouli oil for perfume, she was constantly announcing what to, or what not to believe in.  “Question authority!”  “Subvert the dominant paradigm!!”  She went to women’s empowerment groups. 

I went to a pre-school co-op where we made our own tofu and drank coconut milk.  Then, as time marched on and I came of age in the 80’s.  I embraced cosmetics and hair products (we still said products back then…not product) I saved all my babysitting money so that I could buy Esprit clothes from the outlet in San Francisco.  But, I drove my mom’s old volvo, bumper sticker and all.  I only kinda sorta looked the part. 

So as I have evolved and got growed up, I kind of dip into both worlds of polished outside, crunchy inside.  I like to decorate my house but I’m also really into organic gardening and other crunchy pursuits. 

When it came time for me to be a mom, I was planning on heading back to my mom’s way. I had it all figured out.  I would have an unmedicated birth, nurse perfectly for 2 years, use only cloth diapers, make my own strained, organic baby food, and sew Zannie’s clothes myself.  We would never eat at McDonald’s or buy frozen, prepared foods.   We would never watch tv, or buy Disney princess movies that showed women that they were rather useless until they found their princes.  I was only going to buy wood toys and Waldorf dolls from The Magic Cabin catalog and not one single thing that even remotely resembled a video game. 

I fully admit and state for the record right here and right now that I’ve broken every single one of those rules.  You know why?  Because real life gets in the way.  Zannie was in fetal distress and I had a c-section.  Nursing was difficult and once established I ‘only’ nursed for her 16 months.  Cloth diapers and me were not a match made in heaven and I found that there were great organic baby foods ready for the buying at most any grocery store I went to.  I have yet to sew a dress, and the freezer is fully stocked.  Suzannah fell in love with Elmo at the age of two like he was a rock star.  She has fully embraced the color pink as a lifestyle, not just as a color and adores all Disney princesses.  It hurts my inner hippy, it really does.  But I’ve totally given in come to terms with all of it.   I have softened as I’ve grown up and older and I’m glad for it.  So now, oftentimes while I’m cooking quinoa and local vegetables from the farmer’s market, Zannie is watching Mulan for the 150th time and I’m thinking, “Wow…that Mulan, she really kicks the huns’ ass.” 

I was going to try and be a perfect mom.  I was going to be like my mom in the ways that I had loved.  But, I got over myself one McNugget at a time.  So, while in my last post I found out that I’m a Phat mom, I’d like to think that under all that phat is a groovy mother hen whose heart is tye-dyed. 

I know that my mom would be proud of me and the kind of parent I am if she were still alive.  I keep her alive through lots of the things I teach my girls.  Zannie, at the age of 4 had planted an organic herb garden with me and had put in the red wiggler worms in herself.  She eats spinach and tomatoes straight out of the earth.  She colors outside the line and that is celebrated.  I see that fighting spirit in her that is a result of the example my mom set. I really wish she were still alive to enjoy her granddaughters and to teach them the things that I’m forgetting or too tired or lazy to do.  It would be wonderful to have the three generations of women all together. 

Here’s to you mom.  I do my best to continue on with the things you taught me.  Mostly you taught me that usually the hard way produces the best results.  Don’t waste time.  Always have a project and keep your brain busy.  Read good books and teach yourself how to do stuff.  Don’t read the directions.  I’m trying mom.  Without you here, it’s not as fun, but I’m doing my best.  And I’ve come to accept that my best is good enough.  My girls are proof.

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January 28, 2008 at 9:44 pm 33 comments

Does this make me look Phat?

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 WHAT KIND OF MOM ARE YOU?

www.montessorimom.com

January 26, 2008 at 8:02 am 6 comments

Kyrgyz Felt

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I’m excited to have been contacted by April who runs the Volga River Trading Company.  She wanted me to know that she imports the beautiful and vibrant felt shyrdaks, toys and other items made in Kyrgyzstan.  On the site it says:

Volga River Trading Company strives to bring products that we consider to be of outstanding quality, value, and interest to the attention of American buyers. At the same time we support the work of talented Russian artisans from the former Soviet republics, giving them the tools they need to survive in a market economy.

I fell in love with the handmade felt animals and ornaments while in Kyrgyzstan.  I was shown how the felt is hand-dyed naturally using flowers and herbs. Please support this shop and think of it as a resource for our children from Kyrgyzstan. The artisans in Kyrgyzstan put so much work into these beautiful items and I’m so happy to showcase it here.  Please go to: www.volgarivertrading.com

January 23, 2008 at 10:25 am 14 comments

One Hot Mama!

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Our Kyrgyz Adoption Community is small but my experience in connecting with others adopting from Kyrgyzstan has been wonderful.  We take care of each other by taking pictures of our waiting kids if another one of us in in country, we email each other for support, information and for laughs. Suzanne is no exception. She drove down from the Bay Area to our little neck of the woods yesterday and it was an afternoon of big fun.

She arrived with gifts of books for Izzy and Zannie and we chatted a bit at our house. She is going to be a great mom, especially for a daughter because she is fun and asks all the right questions.

We ventured on to lunch and dove right into talking about babies, Kyrgyzstan, travel, food, boys, motherhood and everything else in between. (Read: Things not appropriate for a family blog!!) Anyway, all you other Kyrgyz bloggers out there…you should be so jealous!

Here is our picture. Not my best picture…but excellent of Suzanne and Izzy.

January 20, 2008 at 10:37 pm 11 comments

Global Issues Start With Me (A Repost)

The following is a post I wrote nearly a year ago.  In response to my last post regarding Daniel Drennan’s article, I remembered this post and feel that it’s worth putting out there again because it directly speaks to the moral and ethical questions of international adoption. 

I read blogs lately a lot, most of them written by someone in the adoption triad. I’m reminded by these writings several important things when it comes to adoption and has solidified many of my own stances and beliefs regarding adoption. The main things I’m reminded of are that adoption is borne of imperfection and loss. I mean, let’s stop, as a society, putting a pretty bow on it and calling it a gift. The abandonment of girls in China, the extreme poverty of peoples across the world, and in our own country, there is a great deal of pressure put on young women who are in a certain socio-economic situation to relinquish their babies. I have experienced my own great feelings of sadness, confusion and persistent emptiness all stemming from adoption. It’s real, and it goes on and on. If that weren’t so, my reunion would have been a piece of cake and I’d have this terrific relationship with my first mother, which I do not. Also, the losses surrounding adoption are chronic and everlasting. Becoming an adoptive parent has not only left me unchanged in my belief that there needs to be sweeping ethics reform and acknowledgment of those losses within the adoption community and outside of it as well. So now what? What do I do now? As a girl who was once very active in the adoption reform movement in my 20’s, part of me wants to say, “Shhhh…don’t tell anyone I’m adopting.” And if someone does find out, particularly all you lovely adoption bloggers out there, I feel like saying, “I’ll be good! I promise! I’ll do all the right things and take her back to her country every year and speak her language and cook her country’s cuisine and we’ll learn to make beautiful felt rugs”… and anything else I can think of. Just don’t hate me ’cause I’m adopting. See, that’s the adoptee in me. Don’t reject me! I’m ok! Really I am!

But I am. I’m adopting. And you know what? I’m SO SO SO SO SO SO glad I am. There it is. I’ve said it. Hmmm. No thunderbolt yet.

So, the thing is, how do I, and therefore we as a society and global community reconcile adoption? On a microcosm, how do I reconcile being adoptee and adoptive mother? How do I navigate myself so that I “reflect the change I want to see in the world”? By standing up and lending a small but distinct voice in the adoption world. I can stand up for myself by declaring that closed adoption was a tough road for all involved. My adoption didn’t at all serve my first parents. They were promised that they would be able to go on and ‘pretend like it didn’t happen and lead normal lives.’ It left them hurt and confused and with wounds and they both live lives that reflect those wounds. I can stand up in particular for my first mother who, in response to her experiences during her pregnancy and relinquishment of me, forged her own armor which she feels she must wear for the rest of her life. She is aware that it protects her from hurt, but that also it is bondage and barrier.

Most of all, the change I want and must reflect is in my parenting my daughter whom I have yet to meet. So, yes. I will cook her country’s cuisine, learn to craft felt like they do in her country of origin and buy beautiful things on our trips there. By honoring her place of birth, I honor her and her first mother and family. And while I’m doing so, it’s still not enough. Because orphanages aren’t simply filled with children whose parents have died and need homes. No, there are children around the world who are in orphanages because of poverty, hunger, politics and other countless reasons. THAT is the change that I must be a part of, and ultimately must be a part of adoption reform. Yes, it’s that global. So, simultaneously I am adopting and ultimately working toward eradicating the need for people across the world to feel as though they must relinquish their babies and children. There is so much work to do. Our foster care system is broken. The western world has too much to eat and so much of the rest of the world is starving. Where do we begin? It begins with me. In my own adoption stuff and in adopting my daughter – it starts with me. And while I can’t solve much in the way of the world’s problems, I can do what I know to be true and right. Love is a great beginning, but my daughter is going to need so much more than that and I’m so OK with that. That’s my job. That’s what every adopted child needs. She will reflect the kind of parenting that I very much needed. These are the things I can do. That’s the thing. Yeah. That’s what I wanted to say.

January 4, 2008 at 8:48 pm 4 comments


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