27 March 2007

What would you say....

Bella just called home from school because she thought she forgot her lunch. While I was on the phone with her, I checked the fridge and counter. It wasn't there.

I then asked her how hard she looked for that lunch and she responed that she just checked for it once. I asked her what she was going to do to solve her problem. She thought she should go look in her bag a bit harder.

What would you say if I were to tell you that just as I was about to hang up the phone with Bella, I spied her lunch sitting by the door and opted to say nothing to let her do a good double check and come up with a solution?

25 March 2007

Grow tomatoes grow!

This year, I'm growing tomatoes from seed.

I've become fascinated with the thoughts of eating sun-warmed tomatoes freshly picked off the plant from the garden. I've also started to nourish the desire to dabble in heirloom tomatoes.

leaning piles of tomatoes

One of the challenges I foresee with this project is that I don't have grow lights. We do have, however, a fabulous south facing window that gets lots of sun. Of course, it's been rainy and overcast since the seeds have germinated and that's why they're doing this big stretch towards any hint of light.

18 March 2007

Queer politics for 12 and under

Sometimes when you talk to your children about that which is queer and queer-related, you're not really sure if they understand, how much they absorb, adopt or appropriate as politics of their own. Discussions regarding all things LGBTQ are common place in our home. And, every once in a while you hear your nuggets of wisdom come out of someone else's mouth.

At the breakfast table heaped with pancakes and sausages, this conversation was heard.

Neighbour boy: Does your dog, Gus, have a girlfriend?

Wifey: Well, there’s Chloe…a shitsu…but she doesn’t like Gus as much as he likes her. Then there’s Maggie who lives next door.

Me: Gus also has some boyfriends too. Remember Deuce and Sunny from the dog park?

Bella: Our dog is a bisexual. That means he likes both boys and girls.

14 March 2007

Green Thumb Sunday


One of the complexities of adopting older children is what I will term “the nudity factor.”

When babies are born, they emerge naked from the womb. We count fingers and toes, inspect them from top to bottom,examine and count up all their body parts. Daily, through diaper changes or baths, we see our children’s naked bodies.

For adoptive parents with younger children, I’m assuming that early in the relationship, they become familiar with all of their children’s naked parts. Five-year-olds need help in the bath. A two-year-old may need help on the potty. A six- or seven-year-old may need help getting dressed. In the course of daily living, the naked body makes a regular appearance.

We adopted Bella (11) and Bubaloo (9) who are perfectly capable (at least, we think) of bathing, eliminating and dressing themselves. There’s no everyday circumstance where we would just happen to see our kids naked. As a parent, it’s quite a bizarre thing to have never seen your kids’ bottoms or to know whether or not your son is circumcised.

Even more so, as our kids are older, nudity has been a site of awkwardness in the home. Before kids, Wifey and I would sleep naked or walk around the house as such. With kids, we don’t do that, but especially more so because these kids are older kids and carry the entire social stigma around bodies with them. Our kids are no more comfortable seeing the naked parts of the strangers that became their mothers’ overnight, than they are parading around in their birthday suits. Mix the privacy needs of their age with the presence of strangers and we no longer have a naked house.

Over the past two months, as the familial bonds and intimacy have been slowly building, we’ve seen more and more of their naked parts. Seeing a chest while putting on a shirt. Looking at the wound on a leg. Running around the house in their underwear. The oldest one has seen more of us naked than she’s wanted, as she doesn’t understand that the invisible cue given by a shut bathroom door is not “enter” but “knock first.”

With the little one, building that bond of trust and comfort have been ever more prominent in my mind because we do have some medical concerns.

He had a hernia removed over a year ago somewhere in the region covered by underwear that was only discovered accidentally by his foster father when Bubaloo was walked in on in the bathroom. Apparently the hernia was the size of a baseball.

Bubaloo had a few anxious nights before he finally shared with us that he was worried because it looked like the hernia was growing again. After a Dr’s visit he checked out okay.

We’ve also have some concerns around his bladder and urination.

Swimming lessons for us have turned into an opportunity to challenge the nudity factor. We use the family room, and to make sure we get out of there in a reasonable amount of time, I’m directing the kids through changing so they can see what our expectations are.

Showering after the swim lesson has revealed the soap touches every part of Bella’s body and Bubaloo doesn’t believe that washing involves any amount of soap.

For the most part, the kids have been changing from swimsuits to street clothes behind strategically positioned towels. I’ve also showed Bella how to hold onto the towel if she’s not comfortable with being completely naked while changing.

Last night, we got our full exposure in this change room event.

Me: Okay, kids time to get changed.
Bella: Okay Mom. (And she gets right to it.)
Me: Bubaloo, would you like me to hold the towel for you?
Bubaloo (as he points to his sister): I can’t change with her in here!
Bella (already standing stark naked): But we’re brother and sister, Bubaloo! It doesn’t matter!!
Me: Okay, Bubaloo take your swimsuit off while I’ll hold the towel as a screen.
Bella (still standing naked): Bubaloo, it’s okay. See, I’m your sister.
Me (parent with a sense of humour): Bubaloo, why don’t you moon her?

Bubaloo, naked as a jay bird, drops his towel to shake his front three times and then turns around to shake his rear another three times.

Not only have we overcome the nudity factor, as his did his sun and moon dance several times in succession for us, we also had to explain that a moon is the butt cheeks only.

12 March 2007

Two Degrees of Separation

Last weekend, I had a two-degree of circular separation incident.

At our annual Bowl-A-Thon fundraising event for camp, I put out a notice that we were desperately looking for a new Treasurer. One of our most fabulous camp counselors, who has been with the project since the beginning (both a kid from an LGBTQ family and LGBTQ-identified), and had put a team into the Bowl-A-Thon, introduced me to BoyX. BoyX looked familiar, talked familiar, and was just in general familiar. Together we unearthed that we went to different universities at the same time. Then, the puzzle was solved.

Separation formula

BoyX – Camp Counselor – Me

Me – Best friend – BoyX

BoyX was the mysterious male that my best friend had a crush. I remember orchestrating several evenings out so we could casually bump into BoyX in an “effortless manner.” The only thing I cannot seem to remember is if we just stalked BoyX for a month or if BoyX and my best friend had actually gone on a single or multiple dates at some point in time.

I write all of this in an ode to tangential thinking that has been invaded by worlds merging by Kevin Bacon pop cultural references. The six degrees of Kevin Bacon has been around for a long time now. And now, Kevin Bacon is playing on the game to help fundraise for charities through SixDegrees.org.

Basically, the site is about social networking (think MySpace) with a twist of charitable conscience. You can create a badge and through this badge you connect to your charities of choice, raise money for them, and learn about the charitable causes near and dear to your heart and those of other celebrities. It calls on the average joe to become a fundraising celebrity.

Right now, the site is running a challenge to provide a matching grant of up to $10,000 for the top six charities. Now, what’s interesting in the end is that it isn’t the dollar total that matters (well, at least once your past the $10,000 mark cause you do want to maximize your matching), but the number of people who donated. Because it’s all about who you know and the number of people you can motivate into giving.

What I love about this is the mixture of pop culture and charity with a dash of celebrity.

I learned about this from Family Pride (now on their mailing list after having attended the not-so-great OutSpoken conference in November, in the sense of not what I expected, but it was another two degree of seperation that got me here) which is participating in the challenge. As of today, they’re ranked 3rd.

Here’s their badge - nicely designed and eye appealing and user friendly - which won't embed in the page.

This is yet another organization that I admire for their smart and savvy fundraising copywriting. They are really good at creating a narrative, pulling on the heartstrings, and motivating you with multiple calling points for action. Albeit, they engage in too much virtual fundraising for my taste, I’d love to be able to emulate some of their donor building and fundraising strategies if we were to secure some high end supporters for camp.

But alas, SixDegrees.org is yet again another American exclusionary phenomenon in which we cannot participate.

I just wish, yearn, and hope that some fun and innovative fundraising initiatives like this could be launched for Canadian charities. Puhlease!

08 March 2007

Uncaffinated parenting

Today, Bella and Bubaloo have been living with us for 1 month + 3 days. In 2 days, Wifey and I will have been a partnership for 4 years. Since becoming a full time parent, I've upped my daily coffee consumption from 1 to 3 cups. And, this morning was a testament to why I should never again consider parenting without coffee.

Our children, particularly Bella, need lots of cueing and redirection in the morning. Until a month ago, I never really thought it would be possible to ask the question, "what were you doing for the past 30 minutes," and get a blank look. Because literally, she was doing nothing. Sometimes, she spends 20 minutes looking at herself in the mirror. Other times, she spends 15 minutes picking out an outfit, looking for a sock, petting the dog or brushing her teeth. Sometimes she'll use 10 minutes to get her lunch from the fridge and put it in her bag. And at others, she'll take 5 minutes to locate her snowpants and jacket in the front hall closet, which at most has a maximum of 8 jackets in it.

She dawdles, she dilly dallies, and often she makes us late.

This morning, due to a miscommunication with Wifey, we delivered conflicting cues. The end result was that she didn't have her skates ready to go and we had to leave house or we'd miss the bus.

Wifey had prepped the skates the evening before, but neglected to put said skates and helmet in a bag for transportation. The same child who can't remember her mitts, hat, scarf and book bag at the same time and loses precious items to the vortex under her bed daily, isn't quite yet ready to separately carry two skates and a helmet to school (regardless of the fact she literally cannot carry all that stuff).

As I hustled her out the door, Wifey mentioned the skates to Bella. Since it would take Bella the time we didn't have because she opted to spend the last 15 minutes doing ________ (insert tooth brushing here?, and definitely not brushing her hair or putting outdoor clothes on), I had to make the executive call that we couldn't bring the skates.

The flood of tears from Bella and the death eyes from Wifey clearly made that the wrong decision. But, the stubborn person I am who was already freezing my butt off in -31 weather, said screw it, and decided to deliver the logical lesson of choice. I didn't not deliver the lesson of let's support our kids and have them start off the day right, which apparently was not a good choice on my behalf.

"Well, Bella," I said as we trugged down the street. "I know it really sucks that you won't have your skates today to skate. That's really disappointing. Too bad you chose to spend your time upstairs after breakfast instead of getting your skates together. I guess next time, you'll consider making a different choice."

I guess that stung, because the flood of tears multiplied thousand fold, and the walking was even slower. Along with the pouting and feet shuffle/thump on the pavement.

Running down the street yelling "Hurry up" to Bella, dragging Bubaloo by the hand (who was snowpantless and mittless by choice with said items in bag and not on body complaining about the cold), having the Wifey walk determinedly behind us with anger, and the poochie pulling on his leash must have been quite a scene for those making their daily commute.

The bus arrived right away. Bella left without a good bye, kiss or hug. I threw it on thickly sweet, "Have a great day, Bella. I love you." Kissed and hugged a stunned Bubaloo who looked as if his loyalties were divided between his sister and myself. Watched my Wifey storm away muttering about my battles and me.

And then, the poochie took a poo.

In front of the bus stop that had just watched our family drama, acknowledged by lack of eye contact, I searched my pockets for a poo bag. The people were watching my dog poop. I called out to Wifey meekly, "Do you have a plastic bag? The bag went with the kids on the bus."

"No," she responded.

The disapproval and shunning by the gathered collection of neighbours at the bus stop radiated as I threw up my hands and walked away. To no one in particular I called out, "Well poochie, I guess we're going home to get a bag." Just so, you know, the neighbours would know that I'm not THAT dog owner.

I got home. Exhausted. Drank a coffee to gain perspective.

Just for the record, the poop is still out there.