Monday, September 29, 2008

The Sky is Falling

Over the past few weeks, it's been impossible to avoid thinking about the state of our world today. As much as I'd like to go about my daily life believing that everything will be fine, I'm having a tough time thinking about what the future will be like for our children in both the near term as well as the longer term and I worry about our parents and those that are nearing retirement and relying on their nest eggs.

As it stands, we have just experienced the largest one-day drop ever in the stock market, the earth is undergoing climate change that is impacting everything from oceans to polar bears (and those are just a few of the things we can already see, measure and know) and our country is involved in two wars and contemplating another. How could things have gotten this bad?

I don't know what this presidential election will bring and I don't know whether anyone can really turn this ship around soon enough. I do know that if I were a candidate for president right now I would be rethinking my decision. I'm glad that someone is willing to step up and take the job and I hope that it is someone that can return our country and the world to peace and prosperity.

Please think about what's important to you. Is it the economy? Is it foreign policy? Is it health care? Is it the environment? If you know what's important to you, please educate yourself about which candidate shares your views. Don't rely on soundbites. Watch the debates. Go to the candidate websites. And please, VOTE.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Scotch Rocks

Island Boy has had a Scottish nanny for several months now. To be honest, she hasn't really been a nanny for us - more like a babysitter - but it's fun to say that he has a Scottish nanny and she is an actual nanny for a living, so it's not *that* much of a stretch.

In any case, it seems that she may have been his first crush and due to family circumstances (hers, not ours), she won't be seeing us much any more. We're sad to see her go, but we're sure Island Boy will be ok. As my grandfather always said, "She ain't the only peach on the beach".

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Aisle of the Moaning Dolls

We were in Target, perhaps my favorite store, not long ago and I made the mistake of wandering through the Aisle of the Moaning Dolls. I did not know I was about to enter the Aisle when I turned the corner from checking out the trucks and Play-Dough. I just wanted to explore this new section of the store to see what I'd been missing out on over the years.

Things in the Aisle of the Moaning Dolls were pink and frilly as you might expect, and I did not linger. Yet, as I passed, noises began to emerge from the shelves that sent chills up my spine. I was literally too creeped out to turn around and see what was happening. Whatever it was, I wanted nothing to do with it.

I don't know what's happened to dolls these days, but whatever that was, it didn't sound good to me. Realistic? Perhaps when you're dealing with them in smaller numbers, but to me an entire Aisle of them was just plain creepy. This was one occasion when I was happy that I didn't have a little girl to draw me back to the Aisle. I shan't wander there again.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Signed, Sealed, Delivered!!

He's ours! Of course he's been ours now for years (it seems, although it's truly only been months(!), but the paperwork is now officially complete.

I cannot tell you how strange and wonderful it feels to be able to say that! From this day forward, our family need not send personal information to outside parties. Yes, that last piece of nagging paperwork: a one year follow-up, has been completed slightly ahead of schedule. It's not that it was difficult. It's just that it existed.

Now? Done! Finito! Hao le!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Well, we ventured in to downtown LA once again to apply for our little citizen's proof of citizenship. Why? While they tell us it isn't necessary, they don't really mean it.

For example, in order to apply for a US Passport (something we wouldn't even consider NOT doing although a shockingly small percentage of Americans hold them - heck, even the possible future leader of the free world, Sarah Palin, didn't have a passport until just last year!!), we must provide proof of US Citizenship. How do you prove you're a US Citizen? Normally, one would provide a copy of one's birth certificate. Easy? Of course not!

It is true that we should receive a copy of our little one's birth certificate sometime in the next year, but we don't have it now. We have other documents in our possession that should serve the purpose, but as the Wicked Witch of Social Security demonstrated, the reliability of those documents as proof is questionable in many (most?) situations. It's not that the documents aren't legitimate. It is simply that many government workers and others with an interest in such matters are unfamiliar with them and with the variations in the laws and documents from state to state.

Why is a passport important? Here's just one reason other than the fact that it is a relatively easy and reliable way to prove citizenship for many, although not all, things in life: it's been my experience that if you don't have a passport, you won't be able to travel outside the US. Fortunately, I learned this lesson early in my life when I missed out on a FREE trip to Africa as a new high school graduate when someone backed out of their prepaid trip at the last minute. A FREE trip to Africa?! Sign me up!! What's that? I need a passport? Oh. Umm...frick!! I immediately applied for a passport and have held it every since - just in case. I was rewarded years after receiving my first passport with a very last minute business trip to Israel that couldn't have happened without a passport in waiting and I have been rewarded many times since.

But I digress.

For those of you skeptical of your potential for opportunities for surprise last minute international travel, there are other more important reasons to consider obtaining a Certificate of Citizenship. The most critical reason to apply for a US Citizenship Certificate is that it is the only way to update the USCIS database to reflect the citizenship status of your little IR-4 former immigrant. I don't know anyone that wants to risk a tussle with the USCIS database either now or at any very inconvenient time in the future, so it's best to just get this last little business cleared up ASAP.

Bite the bullet and write the check - a whopping $460(!) (how on earth could it cost so much to get a purportedly unnecessary document when a US Passport costs "only" $100?!) and your family will sleep better at night. I know we will - assuming we actually receive the thing without any further hassles, that is.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Your X-Month-Old: Week Y

Do you get these updates on your child? For me, they arrive via email and I am finding them increasingly alarming.

My how many month-old?! You must be mistaken!! When did THAT happen to MY little baby?!

Honestly, every week seems a bit too often to be reminded just how quickly my little baby is growing up. It's nearly as unnerving as facing my own annual milestone.

I admit it, there are occasional moments when I fantasize about turning the clock forward, but most often, I realize how precious each week is in a life just beginning and I wouldn't trade a minute of it for anything else in the world.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What If??

I really enjoyed reading this story. I hope you do, too.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Island Boy's favorite word these days is, "please". He has learned that used in combination with other words it can result in good things, so we hear a lot of "More milk, please", "More cracker, please" or simply, "More, please!!"

I am under no illusions. I do not consider myself to be unusually polite, nor do I believe we are raising an unusually polite young man. No, I understand completely that in this context, "please" simply means, "I want it. NOW!"

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Island Boy spent a good part of the summer staring at dirt. Ok, he often actually got right in there and became one with the dirt, but this didn't happen nearly as often as he would have liked, I'm sure.

We have just completed (or nearly completed) a major landscaping project. Although our yard had been perfectly dog-proofed, it wasn't necessarily toddler-proofed and it certainly wasn't what we'd call our home's most attractive asset. So, I spent the majority of the summer managing the project and trying to keep Island Boy entertained along the way - mostly away from home.

That's all behind us now and we finally have a new yard to enjoy. The only problem is that with our new little paradise, it feels like summer has just begun, and of course the calendar refuses to agree. Fortunately, living in Southern California affords us a bit of an endless summer, so we're hoping to ignore the calendar, crank up the patio heater as necessary and enjoy our "summer" for months to come! We've got some serious catching up to do!

New Parent Apology Cards

These are pretty funny, even if they're not meant for actual use.

Monday, September 01, 2008

To the Friends and Families of Those Traveling

Travel news seems to happen in batches and there have been batches and batches of families getting travel news lately (There are also lots and lots of families just entering the courts who will soon receive travel news). To all of you, congratulations!! And to all of you preparing to travel in the coming days, weeks and months, my gift to you is a few suggestions for your friends and family.

Dear friends and family of those traveling:

It's awesome that you're planning to be there for the family when they get home. Whether you're meeting them at the airport, meeting them when they arrive at home, or planning to see them in the first few days or even weeks after they return home, here are some things to consider:

First of all, it's not about you.

Yes, I'm sure you're very excited to see your new niece/nephew/grandson/granddaughter/cousin/friend, but realize you will have a lifetime to shower this new family member/friend with affection.

For now, it's all about that baby boy or girl that has just been through one of the most (probably the most) terrifying experiences of his or her life so far. Every sound that little baby hears is new. Except for the parents that little baby came home with, there are no familiar faces (and the parents have only been familiar in the last 3 or so days), no familiar smells and probably very few familiar tastes or toys. That little baby has just endured a ten-hour plus plane flight - something few adults do well. Your face is new; your smell is new and, unless you happen to speak Mandarin, your sounds are new. If you do happen to speak Mandarin, and the parents don't, feel free to speak it, but remember it's not about you. It's about the baby first and the parents second. You come somewhere after that in order of importance.

While the baby will undoubtedly be irresistible, remember that the thing he or she needs most at the moment is comfort and that comfort is best given by the people he or she knows best: the parents. What the parents need most is your help and support so that they can focus on the baby. Although the child isn't a newborn, this family is like any family welcoming a new child: things are crazy and everyone has huge adjustments to make.

What can you do to be most helpful? Bring food!! Lots and lots of food. Bring enough food for the entire family to eat when they arrive home (probably exhausted and just in time to eat and go to bed) and when they wake up the next morning and to sustain them for the next week in case they are unable to leave the house. This gesture will be appreciated far more than you know.

If you'd like to do something else that will be appreciated beyond measure, insist on taking a number of photos of the new family together. Chances are they haven't yet had a nice family photo taken of them and this is the first time they are all at home together, so take some pictures (and take lots of them, because after a long flight there is a good chance there will be a few duds in there!).

Still want to do more? Make sure the house is clean, plants are watered, cars are full of gas, clothes are washed...anything you can think of that will free the family up to spend time helping the baby adjust. Oh yes, and of course books, clothes and toys for baby are always appreciated, too.

If you're not planning to visit right away, but find yourself visiting anytime in the first few months, the same rules apply:

Bring food! Lots and lots of food! We found it so incredibly helpful (even months later) when we received meals that would last for multiple days and required no effort on our part. Offer to take pictures! Help with household chores or errands (assuming the couple is ok with that).

Here is a very special and very important thing you can do on the 3rd week after the family arrives home: Plan a 2-3 hour get-away with the new Mommy. Insist that the new Mommy accompany you to a movie or to a mall or to a spa or to a knitting group or on a hike, but insist that she get out of the house and away from the baby. Everyone will be better off for this brief time. Trust me. If the new Mommy is like me, she hasn't had any time away from baby since they met (other than during naps, but that doesn't fully count) and she really, really needs it whether she likes to admit it or not. It's also a nice time for Daddy to spend with baby. Everyone will come back refreshed and better for these few precious hours.

So there you have it - lots of ideas for how to show your love and they're all pretty easy.

Congratulations to all of you and happy, happy homecomings!