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There has been a funny conversation thread on one of my adoption discussion groups about the Russian personality type:  very nice but not outwardly friendly and very very blunt.  Several told of gruff strangers who went out of their way to help without a word or  smile and then gave their child a chocolate upon departure.  My personal favorite is the frequent response “of course, of course”  with dismissive hand gesture.

The discussion started when one of the members complained about comments that a guy in Russia made about her email address.  It had the phrase “Russiancuties” in it and he said in a reply email to her… are your children really that attractive?  Ooh, Gemini hooted and hollered about that one.

When we started the adoption process I worried that I wasn’t outwardly excited enough as other people that I admittedly only knew through their online personalities.  Sample identities:

  • growingfamily@
  • alexssmom@
  • sueadopts2@
  • adoptivemom2010@
  • babiesacomin@

I made up the last one, but the others are real.  Granted these email addresses were probably created during the process to join the adoption discussion group, but they just seemed so much more animated about everything.  We didn’t really tell anybody, didn’t start a blog about the mind-numbing minutiae of the process, and the only thing I bought besides books was the vintage yellow and green giraffe lamp that I kept under my desk without opening for almost a year.

Then I worried that I would become one of those enthralled parents who talks non-stop about their kid’s toenail development and helicopters around every utterance and masticated morsel.  I would spout babytalk non sequiturs in the grocery line, share hilarious poo stories at bookgroup, and enroll my finger-painters in art appreciation classes at the Ogden.

It’s over a year in, and I really don’t have time to worry about any of that shit anymore.  I also don’t worry about anybody else’s parenting style either.  We’re all doing the best we can, and we’re doing it on the fly.  On the job learning experiences ad infinitum, my friend.    I do check in with friends about potential Facebook over posting, and I still read a lot of parenting material, but the difference is, I don’t worry about it.  too much.

Worry is best suited when it’s real, like when you’re in Siberia meeting with government officials who have control over your future life.  During our first trip, our facilitator said gruffly to me, “Rachel, come here, I need to ask you a question.”  Gut clench.  These trips are grueling and anything could go wrong, plus she asked for just me and not both of us.  What now?

We sat down and she said (gruffly), “Rachel, I want you to bring me a refrigerator magnet from your state.  I don’t have one from Louisiana.”  Eyes squinting and blinking, I had to make her repeat it.

It’s just how she talks, how they talk, how they parent, how we parent.  Who the hell am I to judge?

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… says the magician from Frosty the Snowman, Professor Hinkle.

Says we, the parents of very active kids.  Here are some things we do to keep them busy and organized on the weekends.  Variety, newness and structure are key.  Inadvertently slip into unstructured play time and and you’ll soon find yourself pulling dvd’s out of the chandelier and asking rhetorical questions like Why are you standing in the sink and Why are all 16 puzzles mixed up on the floor?

Saturday AND Sunday mornings

Cartoon watching starts around 6am. (from the bottom of my sandy eyelids I worship and thank you, cable television)

Jim makes pancakes and eggs as witnessed by the bountiful array of dirty dishes, pots, pans, drips and schmears as far as the eye can behold.

If I’m not on FlyLady time, then scummy floor maintenance, laundry, and repetitive pick up activities.

Out of the house by 9 or 10am.  Sometimes our back yard.   I’ve been getting lots of great backyard art activity ideas from Play at Home Moms.

Colored rice with Grannie

Playing with shaving cream and colors – Clifton

Sometimes one of the parks in our neighborhood.  Art likes to do my pre-park speech now:  “No running away; when it’s time to go, it’s time to go.”

  • Peters Playspot – walking distance to our house, bring balls and bikes and then fight over them
  • Danneel Park – two-parent park as it is so spread out and higher than other parks
  • Wisner Park – almost perfect size and variety, also can bring Bucky (4th needy man-child in house)
  • Washington Square –  lots of good shade and usually run into someone we know here.

Home by noon for lunch (ask Art what it’s going to be:  hot dogs, carrots and apple sauce)

Wrestlemania – aka naptime struggle from 12:30 – 1:30  (for night time we let them work it out on their own, but naps are critical to the rest of the day’s happiness to let it go to chance)

1:30-2:30 – sweetness sleepytime snuggle boys – continue to nap with me in recliner, watch non-kid tv, read, play with toys

3:00 – 6:00 – Get out of the house again!  Lots of options in our fabulous city

  • Children’s Museum (“shopping park”) – totally worth the membership – different favorite activity every time we go.  I love seeing how they learn and what they’re interested in.
  • Zoo – totally worth the membership and we haven’t even gone to the aquarium & insectarium yet
  • Children’s Wading Pool in front of zoo – free!  (“swimming in the ribber”)
  • Monkey Room – should get a membership here – good for 1.5 hours plus a few snacks
  • Parenting Center (boo hoo – grew too old for this wonderful play area)
  • Library, Children’s Resource Center – only last 15 minutes here, but it’s up from 10!
  • City Park – Story book Land ($3), or mad chaotic playground with one contraption that you have to sprint half a mile around to catch your child dangling from the bars.  Also, don’t look away or attempt a conversation because there’s a big lake.  with ducks.

Dinner out!  Picnic at the fly or restaurant one night a week, only these places

  • Chick Filet in Metairie – clean play area and good food
  • Piccadilly on Jefferson Hwy – strap them into the high chairs on wheels and roll them down the middle aisle away from the food selections.  In the oncoming traffic pretty much.  Get help bringing cornucopia to table and get things you like to eat too.
  • Dat Dog on Freret Street – the new location is so loud nobody notices the screaming kids
  • To go!  Cafe Nino on Carrollton (aka Portion Control Problems), Ted’s FrostTop on Claiborne, Reginelli’s pizza on State Street, one time Greg brought us sushi but I think he was scarred by the experience as he hasn’t offered again.

bath

books

bed

….. for everyone.

I found these videos on my ipod during my Mother’s Day retreat at Crane Creek.  I forgot I was documenting Toby’s last months with us, so they’re a little bittersweet.  Not for the average reader (all 3 of you!).  For me.

The first one is October, 2010, about a minute and a half – good face smooshies and Rio is under the bed attacking Bucky’s foot while he stalks Toby during the endlessly annoying meal routine.

The second is December, 2010, about 4 minutes – the day Toby had a bad seizure and kept walking into things.  The strange thing to me is how quiet the house was then.  We came home with the boys about a month later and Toby passed away about a month or so after that.

Anyway, she was a good old girl.  Love you tobytobytobytobytobytoby.

Toby October 2010

Toby December 2010