Wednesday, May 21, 2008

May flowers bring more than Pilgrims...

The kids are not allowed to post a countdown to the last day of school, but many parents are doing the counting for them (yes, that would be me!). Year end projects and final exams coupled with Spring Fever make an exhausting combination. Then toss in the end of baseball season, ballet/jazz rehearsals and performances, award ceremonies... it all adds up to schedule conflicts and the "Who's on First" game.

And pollen season is also gearing up... with itchy eyes that test waterproof makeup and noses that run faster than an Olympian... Why are my eyes so red -- have I been crying? drinking too much? nope, it's allergy season!

We went to school to see our children receive awards for their academic success. This has become an annual ritual that we all enjoy and appreciate. The kids work very hard throughout the year and forgo some "fun stuff" because "school comes first."

This year's awards, however, were particulary special to us as parents. Our daughter earned the "Citizenship Award" for her leadership, kindness, and looking out for others. Lots of kids earn strong grades (something we value and expect), and I'll continue to honor and recognize them.

But this Citizenship Award is particularly special -- it recognizes the traits that are so important to our civil society. As a society we don't really recognize positive character and integrity. We hold it as a standard, yet we've become cynical and come to expect self-centered, greedy behavior as the norm. White collar scandals, marital scandals, and street crime are covered in every media form. People who go above and beyond don't receive the same type of recognition -- it isn't considered "newsworthy." The truth is, it doesn't sell ads.

I am so pleased that our children's school decides to hold up Citizenship as an attribute worthy of recognition. I know that my son is motivated to follow in his sister's footsteps and win the award next year -- how's that for healthy competition?



Sunday, May 18, 2008

Countdown to the end of school year

It's the Sunday night before the last three days of 6th and 7th grade. Sixth grade is a breeze, according to my son. Seventh grade will never end, according to my daughter. How much homework can a student actually have before the last few days of school? Do the teachers really want to stay up late every night the last week of school grading mindless projects? I think not! My daughter, however, believes they do.

So goes our last Sunday night of homework angst. With an uncanny ability to procrastinate, I have found that the only way to force focus on absolute homework is to take away the cell phone.

The "cell phone" to a middle schooler is their primary, and most critical, form of communication with the outside world. They send text messages, e-mails, and leave voicemails for each other on an annoyingly frequent basis.

"Did you just get married and didn't tell me?" I ask. The frequency of the chimes and annoying ring tones can lead an old fart to believe that they are horny newly-weds who can't be alone for more than 45 seconds. If the kids set it on "vibrate" it might become a mother's helper!

When I used the telephone to talk with my best friend who lived three houses down the street, my mom would suggest we actually go outside and talk to each other. Today, with the kids' texting each other, I find myself saying, "honey, why don't you just talk on the phone, like humans?"

I really hope we don't lose our humanity in all this shorthand, techno discourse.



Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Is It Over Yet?

The school year... It's 10:30 p.m. and I'm making crepes for my daughter's French class. "We can't buy them, mom -- they're SUPPOSED to be homemade!" Well now the pressure is on.
I make great pancakes the old fashioned way -- add some water to a bisquick container, shake, and pour.

Crepes are not as forgiving... they are actually pretty snobby. There is no margin for error in the viscosity (I like that word) of the batter. The heat must be just right. And the ladle must scoop the precise amount of batter for the size of the pan so that it covers the bottom of the pan thinly and evenly. This is a level of precision that tests a mom who had a big day at work followed by a mammogram (have you had yours this year?) and a child's chorus performance.

Did I mention that I don't own a crepe pan? Robert will say this must be the ONE kitchen tool not in my possession :) So 3 pans and half a batch of batter later, I've finally got a crepe groove on. Let's hope the ones we send in are as tasty as the broken crepes I had to eat tonight.

5 more days of school left... but who's counting?

Bon nuit, mes amis!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions...

Our I-797 expires on May 29th. We received notice from our adoption agency, CCAI, that it is time to decide whether we want to do the "free" renewal of our paperwork with Homeland Security or let it expire and start over closer to when we are likely to be matched with our child/ren in China. The "free" renewal means that we only have to pay to be fingerprinted (again) by the FBI, update local criminal background checks, homestudy update, updated physicals, and income and employment verifications.
The renewal is good for another 18 months. Then we will need to renew again, as our match time is looking like another 24 months.

Upon reflecting on this seemingly never-ending wait and anticipation for our family to grow, I've learned something about myself: I'm not as patient as I thought.
We've been actively pursuing adoption for 26 months... had we known then that it would be a 4-5 year process, I don't believe we would have commenced the process.

Lots of factors go into this... long-running dreams, expectations, love of parenting...

But we must also facts as they present themselves and adapt as circumstances change.
With a heavy heart, we've decided to rescind our dossier from the China adoption program. We're not getting any younger and the uncertainty in timing has just pushed us beyond our limits.

Katrina and Alexander are disappointed with this decision; they would really like to have siblings. And they would be great "big sister" and "big brother"!

While the reality of this decision sinks in, we are engrossed in all the end of school year activities and baseball and ballet performances...

So ends our adoption journey... not as we had planned, but perhaps as it was meant to be.