Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dancin Fool

After dinner, we play Legos, shape Play-Dough, dress and undress the doll, sip imaginary tea and read the same 12 books. Every night. (This is why people watch TV. We get it now.) Last week we discovered ... electronica radio. We stream it through Itunes. Love it. The moves are being perfected. Our most favorite is the Gunslinger, wherein Dessi alternates this fabulous pointing / shooting in sync with the music.

There might be a short glimpse of that in this video, but not much. Not as much as any rational human would want and need.

Dessi has also taken to exclaiming, Mamma / Daddy, I love you. SHe says it alllll the time. It's so awesome. She has a thing for dinosaurs (she's into Where the Wild THings Are right now, and I think she thinks those are dinosaurs), a thing for kicking beach balls, and a total thing for going peepee in the potty. SHe just thinks it is a hoot.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dessi singing

This isn't the best clip, but it's a minor sample of what comes through the monitor every night, for 15 to 45 minutes, before our little Cricket drifts off.

Friday, January 15, 2010


"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
-Anais Nin

If we are thinking of releasing, accepting, forgiving, opening, experimenting, leaping, trying, or loving in a new way this new year. . . there is no better day than today to begin!

Might I also recommend

It is a fabulous website with really great meditation, yoga and pilates videos with such a variety of information and teachers, it streams GREAT (no constant buffering) and it's really fun to see what new thing you can discover or try out.

It costs $10 a month BUT I have a code for a free two-week trial. Cut and paste this into your browser and you are there (you don't have to provide a credit card or anything like that. It's really free.)


Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Potty Training in Three Days

I tried to potty train Dessi at 7 months old using EC (Elimination Communication). After one month of mediocre success it shifted to staunch, back-arched refusal and we just let the whole idea go. Yet I wanted to start again asap because diapers suck.

(Does the above video play? I just downloaded it with my FLIP recorder, but it wasn't so simple.)

But was it really time? She's 26 months. We've had a potty at the ready for the last month, but most times when I offered it she would firmly say, "No. Diaper." Which I thought was pretty funny. She was interested in other people's involvement with it, to be sure. In fact, we were in the stall of a busy airport bathroom recently when she loudly cheered, "YAY!!! Mommy went poo poo in the potty!!!" (In fact, I had merely peed, but, whatever. Good stuff.)

Then we discovered a program called Potty Training in Three Days. The idea being, you just friggin do it. Clothes are removed, salty foods are ingested, therefore copious amounts of water are consumed, and the pee flows. Which means lots of practice opportunities. By the end of the weekend, the child has used the toilet so often that it's practically second nature.

I really didn't see this coming, but ... it worked. (!) The first two days we had about 12 hits and just two misses -- one on my lap while reading (bumMER -- on the rocking chair, too!), and another while watching Elmo; he is her special treat, and I guess she just couldn't pull herself away. But now ... three days, no accidents!

We stayed in all weekend, except for daily one-hour walks up to the lighthouse, during which she wore her big girl panties; we brought our potty along for each outing, and yes, she asked for it every 5 minutes, but it was okay, we had the time.

She still wears diapers at night, and I don't see us getting away from that for another year, truthfully, considering our (my) sleep requirements. But who cares?! There are no more diapers just piling up in our trash. It's almost pretty in there now.

The program doesn't recommend giving tangible rewards but instead proposes a wildly enthusiastic potty dance with every pee or poo. We (I) did that. Really, really enthusiastic -- shame, there's no video. But what really sold her on the potty was getting to choose a fabulous new sticker after each victory. (Thank you, Grandma Alison! Those beautiful stickers are all over the house now!!!!) Every time she looks at her wall, she's reminded of how fun it is to pee.

Yesterday she used the potty during a playdate at a friend's house. I wasn't there, so she had to ask someone else to help her. She did! I think that is the ultimate test and I feel pretty confident now that she will continue on this track. However, for school, at least this week, I've put a diaper on. There are 11 kids and two teachers, and it seems too early to start there; I don't want her to have accidents and then feel sad or start clamoring again for her diapers. (Not that there's anything wrong with accidents. I expected way more of them. Just, to be as gentle with her as possible through this process so that it remains fun. A blast, really!)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Merry Ethiopian Christmas!

Today is Ethiopian Christmas!!

Wikepedia says the Ethiopian calendar is based on the Alexandrian calendar, which derived from the Egyptian calendar. So the dates are all different, and also there's a seven- to eight-year gap between it and the Gregorian calendar (which we use) because of a difference in calculating the time of the Anunciation (when the angel told Mary she would deliver Jesus), since that's more or less the moment that got the current era underway.

Anyway, Merry Christmas 2002!!!

Here's a picture of Dessi at her French school's Christmas recital.


They had been practicing their songs and making decorations for several weeks, but ... it's a good thing we took the picture when we did; she seemed really uncomfortable and was on stage for less than two minutes before seeing us and crying to . I think she was kinda freaked out by the commotion and the throngs of parents up close, photographing and staring at them all.

After the concert, a very skinny Papa Noel rode up on a donkey cart, bearing gifts


This is Dessi at my parents' house for Christmas Eve


Here with her fabulous Uncle Kevvie (my fabulous brother)


and here during a Christmas Party at the business my family owns


Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

People Ask the Darndest Things

Many Senegalese will unabashedly ask us about Dessi's parentage. If it's just either Eric or me with Dessi, they'll ask, "Is she yours? Is she Senegalese?" And then a slew of inane follow-up questions. If it's all three of us together, I will be asked, "Is she yours?" (I nod.) Well, but who is the father? (I point to Eric.) Yes, but, who is the FATHER? She is black, you are white. Who is the father? Etc.

It sorta goes on and on. They don't notice my discomfort or take the hint about minding their own B-I Business (which, I don't even know what that means, really). Nothing short of a complete explanation will make them leave, although I haven't yet tried, 'It really doesn't concern you.' (I don't know French well enough to be snotty with it.)

It is odd to compare this situation -- where everyone assumes at least one of us is the bio parent -- to the response in Whitefish, Mont., where people see me with a black baby but never consider that I could be married to a black man. So that the first question they ask, when they do ask, is, Where is she from? Or, less appreciated, Where did you get her?

Last week in a Whole Foods (WHOLE FOODS!) in Tampa, Florida, a woman in the bathroom said, 'She has such an unusual face, do you mind if I ask, What is she?' (I looked confused. Stunned, I am sure. I looked away. I looked for the door.) She continued, 'I mean, What is she? Is she mixed?' (I nodded. I have had a mind to start telling people in America, when they ask where I got her from, to say she is my biological child, just to make them feel the same way that they sound. But since that's hardly taking the high road, I haven't done it yet.) Anyway, the woman said, Because I'm mixed and so I was just wondering if she is mixed or ... what is she?'

I said, "She's my daughter." And I picked her up and left while the woman sort of looked stunned and said, "OK. Uh, OK," and shrugged her shoulders as if to say, 'Look, it's no big deal to talk about this.'

One week later, and the question still seems crass to me. I know she must have just worded it wrong, but it suggests Dessi is defined by her biology. It's sad to me that sometimes people seem to note first that Dessi's black versus that she's friggin the sweetest cutest funniest smartest child ever. I guess that wherever we live, and no matter how old Dessi gets, these questions aren't going to stop.

I thought living in Africa would help us bypass all this -- that we'd be less conspicuous. There are tons of blended families and faces from all over the world here. But really, we are only somewhat less conspicuous, and there are far more nosy people here, so it all evens out to Difficulty For Me.

Which brings me to, It's not supposed to be ABOUT me. But here come the I's.

I get mad and I am helpless and I feel inept that someone's putting my child in this position yet again. I am protective and defensive and I feel superior and egoriddled. And I am mad. To be fair, I just want to protect Dessi. But if inside I'm bristling, if I cannot release my aversion to this apparently unavoidable situation, then I'm not protecting Dessi at all, and she will ultimately be the one who takes the hit. She already knows that the questions are about her; my tenseness and terse replies will intimate that she, or at least our varying skin tones, are a distress to me.

That being what it is, I am seeking ways to shut it down while celebrating diversity. Next on the list is to point into the distance while exclaiming, "Hey look, an owl!" Then walking away when they turn their heads.

OK, not really. I don't know the French word for owl.

But should I be making this into something FUN for Dessi and me? If the goal is to protect Dessi, then it's notable that, at least for the moment, she doesn't really seem bothered by it at all. What if she never is? Then all my fretting and contracting will have been for nothing. What if we just right away said, "Yes, she is adopted from Ethiopia. Isn't she a peach?" And then let it go. It is not lost on me that the way Eric and I feel about these random invasions probably will dictate the way Dessi feels about them.

My current approach of avoidance also involves looking somewhat unapproachable when I suspect we're being noticed (I perfected this look during my high school years.) And that's just wrong. That's not where I want to be. My meditation teacher (Tara Brach) spoke once about how tiring it is to avoid someone at a party. You can look like you're having a great time, socializing and laughing, but you're not really free because you've always got one eye on that person and are maneuvering around the room to avoid the 20' circle of space around him or her. Tara used it as a metaphor for the things we repress in our consciousness or the things we don't want to talk about, but ultimately the outcome is the same: We're not free.

Maybe... I mean, probably, I have a right to feel annoyed. (I'm right and they're wrong! Say it with me!) But it's worth asking: Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy? And after all, I have said plenty of things in my life. Maybe even some ignorant things. Maybe even some hurtful things. (Don't tell anyone.)

Maybe I don't have to spend 10 minutes with anyone who asks, but if I could shift to compassion and release my feelings of, to be honest, what might amount to some condesention on my part, and if I could deliver a sentence that is kind and that cuts it short ... well, it would be a mighty good day for me.

I will work on this.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Animal Tested?

Here is a link to a list of beauty products that are tested on animals:

I did happen to note that Curly Q's products are cruelty free. So, yay on that!