Archive for May, 2009
Which means 2 things:
1. I now have to take a chaperone with me, the littlest one, when I run to the bathroom.
2. There’s a milestone contest winner! Congrats to Mika who guesses that baby would start crawling on May 30.
And we also have a winner for the blog anniversary quiz. Congrats to Yvette who won a byoo-tee t-shirt. Here are the answers to those quiz questions.
1. What day did Hijas Americanas (the book) officially get released/launch? June 1
2. What national television show booked me to talk about Hijas Americanas before I got bumped the day before I was supposed to be on it? The Today SHow
3. What’s our dog’s name? Lola
4. What do I call my husband? BF
5. What did my husband and I get in a Valentine fight over a few years ago? cupcakes (on the surface), but it was not about the cupcake!
6. In what country was our baby born? Ethiopia
7&8 What are two colleges or universities where I have spoken? Here are just a few: University of California- Los Angeles, Tufts University, University of Georgia, Vanderbilt University, Fordham University, University of Texas- El Paso
9. What do I do every year on/for my birthday? Write a list of things to do in the coming year
10. What is the name of the non-profit started after it was inspired by the research in Hijas Americanas and conversations I had with young Latinas? Circle de Luz
Yep. Someone asked me that promptly after our being introduced. The question didn’t offend me in the moment, but it really did startle me as folks aren’t usually that forward in the South (come to find out she was just visiting relatives in our small town and not from the South at all) and certainly not where we live. And it also worried me as I would hate for the question to be asked again at a time when baby can understand what’s being asked because it insinuates something about family that I don’t believe.
I grew up with very little literal family around me. All of our relatives were back in Puerto Rico as my nuclear family made its way through the ebbs and flow of our lives here. And so family, out of necessity, cultural norms, and personal values, to me became not just a literal definition of blood relative but a figurative definition as well– the people who fill up your heart because they care infinitely about you, they get you, they love you in spite of yourself and the people you give that same grace back to in turn.
Although we flew over to meet baby and bring him home, I don’t think about that part of our story as “getting” baby. Because we came together with baby so serendiptiously, so divinely, baby coming into our family, to me, is like my niece or nephew coming into my sister’s family. My niece and nephew were clearly the children my sister and brother-in-law were meant to have. They didn’t just “get” these babies. And our baby is clearly the baby we were meant to have. We didn’t just “get” him. And while we will be open with baby about his adoption– which is a singular event in our lives and not his status (it has driven me insane for the last 10 years or more when a newspaper article refers to a child as someone’s adopted son or daughter when the article has nothing to do with adoption at all)– the feelings we have about how our family came together is that this child was meant to be part of our family.
Getting is such an arbitrary thought when it comes to family, so happenstance, so casual. It’s not how families come together. It’s not how they stay. It is an oversimplication of life, a stripping down of something rich, a negating of our truth.
Nope, I’m not pregnant, but I am loving this blog by Walker Lamond: 1001 Rules for My Unborn Son. It’s a teaser for his upcoming book and it’s a joy. The rule above is # 32.
My father has the open moon face of Morgan Freeman. It is a face that moves me to silence, that shows its vulnerability in every collection of blotched pigment or skin tag. It is a face that has been crowned by cancer.
During a 2004 fall soccer game where my brother coached USC against my alma mater, Davidson, my father jokingly switched hats at half-time when Davidson pulled ahead. I looked down at him and noticed two black splotches and an unseemly lump, abysses of sickness, on his scalp.
“You doing something about that?” I asked.
“Yeah, I have a visit scheduled for Good Friday.”
It was September.
“Good Friday? No. You have to get in there sooner.”
Six weeks later, he had everything removed and biopsied. Days later, I learned that cancer had been there all along, trying to sneak past our family. Weeks later, I drove to Columbia and watched marrow be drained from my father’s hip with a needle the size of my forearm, the first step on his way to radiation. My world shrunk in the face of cancer, narrowing to the road between my house and my parents’. I sent cards that arrived every day of my dad’s radiation treatment. I e-mailed doctors, read medical journals, learned about environmental hazards near my parents’ house, researched cancer clusters. I sat through day long chemotherapy sessions with my dad asleep at my side, his drip alternating from clear liquid to red to tan. My world was consumed with the chronicling of a sickness.
Eventually, the passivity of the treatment process as a family member (the sit and wait, the watch and wonder) was more than I could bear, and the small actions that I had created for myself, the reading, calling, questioning, were not enough. I had to move, and my movement had to change the count so I signed up for a 100 mile bike ride and fundraiser in honor of my Dad and all people who fight blood cancers. I would travel to Lake Tahoe and use this “century ride” to raise money for Team in Training, a fundraiser for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). Not longer after I signed up, my sister-in-law, Kristi, gamely volunteered to do it with me.
Team in Training is a fundraising engine for LLS that prepares the average person to complete an endurance event. They provide a coach, a fundraising mentor, weekly training, and travel arrangements. At least 75% of the money raised goes to research or patient aid. Our individual goals were to raise $3700. Together, we raised over $12,000.
At the most basic level, Team in Training allows participants to move for survival. Our own, certainly, but, more importantly and more urgently, the survival of every cancer patient. Each mile has a price, and that price is life.
Since that initial event, Kristi and I have gone on to do more Team in Training events. Right now, Kristi is in the final stretch of her fundraising for her first marathon and I wanted to share her solicitation with you in the hopes that you might be willing to support her with a dollar for every mile she runs ($26.20 total). Thanks so much for considering this important cause!
Here is a post from Kristi:
In 2005, my sister-in-law Rosie and I raised over $12,000 and biked 100 miles as part of the Team In Training program on behalf of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in honor of Rosie’s father, who was diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma during the fall of 2004. In 2007, I raised over $7,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and participated in two triathlons. Many friends helped me reach those goals in 2005 and 2007.
In honor of Rosie’s father, Roberto Molinary, who is now cancer-free, in honor of my friend Matt Smith’s mother, Louise Smith, who recently completed treatment for Mantle Cell Lymphoma, and in honor of the many people who suffer from blood-related cancers, I have decided to sign-up for another Team in Training challenge. As many of you know, I am training for my first marathon on June 27, 2009, as a member of the Western North Carolina Area’s Team In Training Program. My marathon training is going well. This Saturday I will run 18 miles, the longest distance I have ever run.
TNT is The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s largest fund-raising program, bringing in over 73 million dollars this past year alone to find a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma. Each participant in the program pledges to raise a certain amount of money during the 4-5 months they train for their event. I have set a personal goal to raise at least $4,500 for my marathon. Of that amount, over 75% of the money raised will be used by the Society for research, patient services and education.
As of today, I have raised 70% of the $4,500 goal and need your help to reach the finish line of my fundraising goal. Please consider pledging $1 for each of the 26.2 miles that I will run during the marathon for a total of $26.20. Your donation is tax-deductible and NO DONATION IS TOO SMALL. If you are interested in contributing to this important cause, you may send your donation to me made out to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (1925 Providence Road, Charlotte, NC 28211) or you may visit and donate directly over at my website.
Thanks so much for considering!
My father is a veteran of the Vietnam War. He did two long (what war tour doesn’t feel long?) tours in Vietnam, continued to serve in the military until his retirement in the 1980s, and then waged a couple years battle against an Agent Orange caused cancer just a few years ago (it felt like another too long war tour). Growing up around soldiers, being the daughter of a soldier, having been a history teacher, I am profoundly affected by the truth that the price of freedom is often paid with life. My dad did not lose his life in Vietnam, as many– too many– others did, but he might still lose his life to his time in Vietnam as his cancer is basically incurable. And for the bulk of the last decade, many men and women have risked– and some given– their lives for our freedom. Every year on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veteran’s Day, I talk to my dad about my gratitude for his service and take time to reflect on the sacrifices of our servicemen and women past and present. On this Memorial Day, I am thinking of and thanking those who have served and those who are serving with profound gratitude and immeasurable humility. As my Marine buddies say, Semper Fidelis, indeed.
Baby’s 9 month old mark is early next week so here are nine interesting little tid-bits about the kid.
1. He knows how to throw. This is very fun when it involves the two of us sitting on the floor facing each other and we throw a ball back and forth with total satisfaction for thirty minutes. This is not so much fun when I put him in the crib to sit and play while I fold laundry and hang clothes in his room and he pitches everything in his crib over the rail.
2. He is still only going backwards (and that’s only sometimes) with his crawl. And he’s still getting stuck. Forward motion is close. He just needs to take a leap of faith.
3. He loves the outdoors. We try to head outside a lot during the day.
4. Eating puts him out. He clamps his little mouth shut in protest as he would rather be doing anything else but eat. His mother, however, is willing to wait him out. When I was a child, my dad employed what I called patience drills, going as slow as possible when I started to whine to teach me to be patient (and to quit whining). It worked. Today, I can wait through anything including baby’s meal strikes.
5. Loves him a rubber duck. We have them all over the house, the car, everywhere.
6. He is intensely curious and will swivel head to keep his eye on the prize. It’s fascinating to watch his persistence.
7. We knew two months ago, easily, that he was strong-willed. Isn’t it fascinating that you can perceive that about a baby? We’ll see if that ends up being the case but, so far, all signs say yes.
8. He listens to Bach all night long. Before we caught onto the fact that he wanted it on all night long, he would wake up in protest when the cd ended (except we didn’t know that is what he was protesting). While the cd player in his room didn’t have repeat on it, we found an old boom box (you know the ones the size of a laser computer printer) in the garage that has repeat on it and it now takes up most of the real estate on top of his dresser so that Bach can play 12 hours straight. We started with Beethoven but have moved on to Bach. Since his room is right next to ours, BF and I decided that we had to get a cd whose entire offerings we both liked. Funny how I used to have to sleep in absolute silence and in the pitch black dark. Neither matters anymore.
9. He still loves Lola more than she loves him. In fact, any dog is good by him. And any other baby is good by Lola. Just not a baby who stays in her house. Forever. But he’s starting to drop food and she’s starting to realize that the place to be during mealtime is right by baby’s side. Now, if he’d just stop latching onto her hair and pulling with all his might (trust me, I understand Lola, I gave up two more inches of hair to the hairdresser’s scissors last week), they could be buds.
I’ve notived an interesting change to my reading habits. For years, I made myself finish a book, even if it didn’t resonate with me. But sometime in the last year, I’ve just stopped making myself do it. I’ve put the book away, given the book away, returned it to the library without feeling the smallest tinge of guilt. If it doesn’t grab me, it just doesn’t grab me, and I decide it’s not for me to read. Books, afterall, are very personal. We pick them up for our desire to learn, to be entertained, to be touched or moved or motivated. I don’t remember a conscious choice I made to let myself off the hook with finishing a book. I just quit one day and turned that critical little voice in my head off about it (the one that always said, “you know, you spent money on that book, you should finish it” or “that author put a lot of time into that book, you should read it” or whatever other case the voice was making). I wonder now if my reading habits changed because I wrote and published a book, and I certainly don’t expect everyone I know to read it (now buying it is another story. Everyone I know and love should go out and buy 5 copies of Hijas Americanas. And not off E-bay. I kid; I kid). Because I know it’s not a book that will appeal to every single person in the world, perhaps, it’s made me more sensitive to the fact that I don’t have to love and want to finish every single book that I pick up. And that not finishing a book says nothing about me nor does it say something about the book. It just says not this time, not this place.
Do you make yourself finish books that you start?
When I love a book, I can’t put it down; I digest it in days. When I don’t love a book, it takes all the energy I have to make it through five pages in a day. The months that I have gone without finishing a book in the past were the months where I was wallowing in something that wasn’t a reading fit for me. On my list of things to do this year is to read 35 books. So far, I’ve finished just 10 in 6 months (little sleep in the first three months of new parenting kept me from reading since I tend to read right before bed and, instead, I was falling asleep as soon as I went to bed to prepare for the every 45 minute wake-ups). Tackling 25 books in 6 books means I have to do a great job picking what’s next. No pressure at all. But it’s not so much that I want to reach the goal as I want to come across many books that I love to read, think about and talk about later. And so here’s another question for you: what books have you just loved reading?
Finally, I grabbed appetizers with a friend the other night, and she showed me her Kindle. I never thought I could enjoy reading an electronic book, but it’s actually really cool and holds 1500 books. The Kindle, in fact, would solve my dilemma of not enough book shelves in the littlest cottage that could so now I’m thinking about it and wondering if I should save my pennies and splurge on one. Do you have a Kindle? Do you love it/ hate it/ feel indifferent to it? Has it changed the way you read?
So, if you are anything like me, you have a little routine when you sit down to your computer. Maybe you check your email, your facebook and/or MySpace page and then you surf over to a few sites that you like to read on a regular basis. Yep, that’s about how my morning goes once baby goes down. Only after I am done with the little daily checklist of visits do I start my work (leaving me with just one hour of nap time left to get things done if I am honest). Today, I want to share one of the places I visit on my daily roll call of web-sites in the hopes that you’ll add it to your roll call, too.
From the About this Page tab on The Hunger Site:
The Hunger Site was founded to focus the power of the Internet on a specific humanitarian need; the eradication of world hunger. Since its launch in June 1999, the site has established itself as a leader in online activism, helping to feed the world’s hungry and food insecure. On average, over 220,000 individuals from around the world visit the site each day to click the yellow “Click Here to Give – it’s FREE” button. To date, more that 200 million visitors have given more than 300 million cups of staple food. Its grassroots popularity has been recognized with Web awards in the activism category — the 2000 Cool Site of the Year Award and the People’s Voice winner at the 2000 Webby Awards.
The staple food funded by clicks at The Hunger Site is paid for by site sponsors and distributed to those in need by Mercy Corps and Feeding America (formerly America’s Second Harvest). 100% of sponsor advertising fees goes to our charitable partners. Funds are split between these organizations and go to the aid of hungry people in over 74 countries, including those in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and North America.
Back to me:
What’s even cooler about The Hunger Site is that it is partnered with many other sites: The Breast Cancer Site (your click contributes to free mammograms), The Child Health Site (your click contributes to child healthcare), The Literacy Site (your click contributes to reading programs), The Rainforest Site (your click contributes to rainforest protection), and The Animal Rescue Site (your click contributes to food and vaccines for rescued animals) and you can visit each one of them from The Hunger Site home page so that you can contribute simply by clicking a button (and not directly out of your pocket if you are experiencing tight economic times)– in less than one minute total- to seven different great causes. So, add The Hunger Site and its partners to your morning to visit list and watch your clicks add up to action.
Suddenly, I realize
that if I stepped out
of my body
I would break
From “A Blessing”
When I was looking for inspiration for Monday’s Beautiful You post, I was reminded of an excerpt of a poem I use in my Body Image Seminar. I find these lines so simple and yet powerful: If I stepped out of my body, I would break into blossom. Indeed, being consumed by our bodies is a guaranteed way to weigh ourselves down in this world, to keep ourselves from realizing our best selves. It is a distracting force, a force that takes away from our power, our truth, our ability, our passion. My students always nod in recognition when I share these lines from Wright’s A Blessing with them.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read A Blessing by Wright and so I decided today to revisit it, to remember what the entire poem addresses. As a quick aside (but not really an aside at all), I should tell you that over the last few years, I’ve really come to love watching the horse races that make up the Triple Crown. BF and I make it a point to not read a thing at all The Kentucky Derby before the day of and then we sit down with the list of contenders to choose who we are pulling for based on their names or some other small detail. Last year, I choose Eight Belles because she was the only female in the race. BF choose Big Brown because he had a couch he loved during his bachelor days (and for about five years of our marriage) that he had named Big Brown. Well, Big Brown won and Eight Belles came in second. I was thrilled and ran off to shower. BF came into the bathroom a few minutes later to tell me that Eight Belles had stumbled after her finish and had to be put down on the track. I cried in the shower. This year, I chose Pioneer of the Nile (the Africa connection) for the Derby. I can’t remember BF’s choice because it was overshadowed by Mine that Bird’s amazing win. For the Preakness, though, I couldn’t help but pull for the only girl in the line-up, Rachel Alexandra, especially with all that talk of Fillies should race with Fillies and Colts with Colts (who knew that horse racing needed a good ole’ dose of girl power). Sure enough, girl power arrived in the horse racing world in the form of Rachel Alexandra. That feel good story was still on my mind as I went surfing for James Wright’s A Blessing, only to be reminded that the poem itself features a beautiful black and white pony who the speaker admires. All the more reason for those final words of the poem to be the one’s I share with you today. Go out and break into blossom!
If you kiss your baby after applying oragel to his gums, your mouth will go numb (since our baby likes to open his mouth in a big O when he gives a kiss).
If you are opportunistic when trying to feed your baby and look for any opening of his mouth to stuff food in, you will inevitably find that one of those openings is the precursor to a sneeze and you will end up with baby food all over you.
If you are as simple minded as we are after three months of sleep deprivation, some jokes will never get old. Case in point: baby takes a bath in a rubber duck. The duck has suction cups on the underside of it for us to hang it on our shower wall after bathing to dry. BF does this immediately after the bath while I prep baby for bed– putting on lotion, putting in hair product, etc. The duck always falls down about 2-3 minutes after BF hangs it up, and when it does, it always sounds very dramatic, like a tree limb falling on the house. The other thing that always happens? I say, “What the duck?” and BF laughs like it’s the first time he ever heard that joke.
If you have thighs and a bum the size of baby’s, which is to say the size of an NFL linebacker’s, you will inevitably get stuck somewhere when you begin to crawl backwards (no forward motion yet, though!). And when you do get stuck under mom and dad’s dresser, unable to go backward any more because your butt doesn’t fit under there and unable to go forward because your diaper’s wedged under there, your parents will laugh while rescuing you.