Thursday, July 31, 2008

There Is No Me Without You

I just finished reading an amazing book: There Is No Me Without You, One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Africa's Children, by Melissa Fay Greene. My sister-in-law, Shannon, posted a review of this book on her blog, and I had Ian request it from the library right away. It's the story of a courageous, humble woman, Haregewoin Teferra, coupled with many facts about AIDS, Ethiopia, and the orphan crisis. After shedding some tears and having a few laughs, I feel so much closer to my Ethiopian brother and sister-in-law. Here are some of the passages that I felt were worth mentioning:

Page 22:

The Berlin Wall is down, the Iron Curtain has fallen, but it is as if a pulsating wall of strobe lights, televised celebrities, and amplified music has gone up mid-Atlantic or mid-Mediterranean Sea. It is hard to look past the simulated docudramas, television "news magazines," and mock-reality memoirs designed to distract us in a thousand ways while making us feel engaged with true stories. America wrestles with its obesity crisis to such an extent that Americans forget there are worse weight problems on earth than obesity.

Page 153:

All the big action of the household--the scores of healthy children breezing in and out--swept past Ababu like storm winds. He couldn't partake in the life the other children enjoyed, other than to be blown over by it. But he had a small bit of life all his own. When Haregewoin handed him a roll, he gnawed on it. When she scooped him up and showered him with endearments, he purred.

The above excerpt, I felt, really personalized the suffering all over the world. To us, it may seem like an insurmountable task to overcome the poverty, sickness, and suffering in the world. But to that one person, that one child - it is real. That child has a whole life inside of them with thoughts, hopes, and feelings. To group a people and their suffering together, and dismiss it as a whole is impractical and impossible. Because each one lives through each day the same way you and I do: through their own eyes.

Page 216:

HIV-positive and AIDS-afflicted orphans lined up politely to greet Haregewoin. The touch of their parents had survived in the children's beautiful and elaborate names. As each lisped his or her name, Haregewoin fleetingly pictured the mother and father, even the poorest of the poor, inclining their heads above a newborn and conspiring to bestow an extravagant and ambitious name on the baby. Most nonbiblical Ethiopian names have meanings; but the names of these HIV-positive orphans seemed exceptionally poignant.

She met Tidenek(You Are Amazing), and Bizunesh(You Will Become Much), and Asegdom(He Who Makes Others Kneel Before Him).

She shook hands with Mekonnen(Dignitary), and Zerabruk(Descendant of Holiness). Makeda(The Beautiful) had been the name of the Queen of Sheba, and here came a little Solomon as well.

Tadelech meant "She Is Lucky" and Zenash was " Famous." Messaye meant "You Resemble Me" --one couldn't miss the happiness of a mother or a father in that one. Etagegnebu's charming "I Have a Sister!" preserved a moment of family happiness, the rejoicing of a baby's older sibling.

Metekie's very common name, on the other hand, signaled the high infant and child mortality rate, for its bittersweet meaning was "Replacement Child."

Tenagne was "My Health," a touchingly hopeful choice given what must have followed(since Tenagne was now and HIV-positive orphan).

Allefnew's name was almost worse: "We Made It Through the Bad Times."

A scrappy little boy was seen by his parents as a future wheeler-dealer: his name was Million.

In the era of the pandemic, his name took on a different meaning entirely.

As a mother, myself, having the experience of choosing a child's name - this gave me a completely different perspective. Only one of my children's first names has real meaning behind it. However, if my child's name was the last thing I would ever give them, you can bet it would have deep meaning. For some mothers, aside from the gift of life, this might be the only thing they will ever give their children.

Page 227:

One could almost calculate how long a child had been motherless by its diminished cries: a little girl who has lived a long time, even at age two, without individualized attention, wails silently, mouth open wide, tears flowing, yet voiceless. Such a child has learned that full-tilt wailing - of the type that can only be soothed by a mother - takes her down a long road and drops her there out of breath, and she will have to make her own way back, her clean blouse wet and her toy now in the hands of someone else.

Anyone who has been within 100 feet of Mckenna when she cries will be able to see the extreme difference.

Page 237:

Like Haregewoin, Hodes saw the epidemiological data every day, personified. The charts in Geneva, Washington, and Paris showed HIV prevalence in soldiers, babies, and prostitutes. They looked absolutely nothing like the bar graphs, pie charts, and line graphs propped on easels in conference rooms in the northern hemisphere.

This quote is similar in point to the previous passage from page 153. You cannot understand the crises by looking at a chart, reading a book, or sitting in a conference room in a nice, air conditioned conference room in L.A. You must see a child clinging to their dead mother, scrambling for something to eat, huddling together for warmth. You must personalize it because it is not something to be completely understood with out completely experiencing it.

Page 277:

One day, about four months after arriving in Atlanta, Helen collapsed in my arms, suddenly stricken with the memory of her late mother. I held her as she writhed, wailing, "Why she had to die?"

A few moments later, she said between sobs, "I know why she died. She was very sick, and we didn't have the medicine."

"I know," I said. "It's true. I'm so sorry."

By then I was well versed in the AIDS orphan crisis, but it floored me that she captured it with such accuracy, brevity, and grief, more powerfully than any of the thousand pages I had read on the subject.

To really comprehend the meaning of the above, I suggest reading this amazing book. It really helps the reader to understand what HIV is, what AIDS is, and what is or isn't being done to eradicate this awful disease from our world.

What an amazing woman Haregewoin Teferra is, and thank you so much Ms. Greene for your extensive research and softened heart that allowed you to create such an eye-opening literary work. It's not the easiest book to read, and by no means a "quick read." But I would put in it my top 5 books of all time. Please, if you haven't read it...go out and grab yourself a copy. It will change your perspective and be well worth your time.


Simple Finds is having a super sweet giveaway! The Portland Beanie Company is supplying the giveaway with an adorable beanie! They are so cute! Go check it out!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

So fun!!

I love this tag! Technically not a tag, but fun either way!!
1. As a comment on my blog, leave a memory that you and I had together. It doesn't matter if you knew me a little or a lot, anything you remember!

2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see what people remember about you!

This has been fun on Carrie and Kelli's blogs...I love trips down memory lane!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Ramblings

When I look back at our week, I feel like it was really busy, but actually it wasn't at all. I slept wrong on my neck 2 Fridays ago and it has hurt ever since. I've had two professional massages and it is only today feeling like it might actually go away. Monday and Wednesday were the worst and I spent the better part of those days on the couch.

I also spent a lot of time listening to fighting with the girls and trying to teach them how to compromise, speak kindly, and be friends. I found the best solution, though, was for each of them to have an hour of "rest" time each day. They were to stay in their rooms, but were welcome to play with any toys, read books, or lie on their beds if they wanted. It seemed that if they had a little bit of time by themselves, then they didn't get so sick of each other.

David has a cold and is breaking all 4 molars, so he's been pretty miserable. He stayed home(with Ian) from church today and took a 4 hour nap! Also this week, he's become a climber! I always knew one of my children would be one. I've heard so many stories of babies climbing out of their cribs, climbing up bookshelves, etc., and I've been so grateful that the girls were never really interested. I knew David would change everything... So far, it hasn't been too bad, nor has he been hard to discourage from climbing - it's just that I've become more aware of his desire and abilities. He's been climbing up on the dining room chairs and has attempted to sit on the table. Since being told, "No," a few times however, he has gotten better and doesn't try it as much. He can also climb up onto the bar stools, which scares me because he can then climb onto the counter...The best part about all of this is that he doesn't know how to get down. One day he climbed onto the dining chair(below) and just sat there saying, "Pee!"(please) until I realized he needed help getting down.

Thursday we got everyone(including myself!) showered and dressed and in the car to go to Mckenna's dance class, only to realize that my key wouldn't turn in the ignition! After about 10 minutes of sitting in the heat of the garage, we gave up and went inside. Poor Mckenna...all dressed up with no where to go(well, somewhere to go, but no way to get there): Ian ordered a new ignition key cylinder and hopefully will get it in by Monday, so we can go camping this weekend!

Friday night Ian and I had our wonderful neighbors come over to babysit while Ian and I went to dinner and a movie. We very rarely get to the theaters, but are both into the Batman movies and were so excited to see Dark Knight....which was sold out(except for the latest showing). So we just went to dinner and came home. The next day, Ian rented a movie and we both really wanted popcorn to go with it, but were out. We decided that instead of buying nasty microwave popcorn, we'd buy a popcorn maker and have real popcorn. SOOOO yummy!!! We both decided that it was way better than going to a theater anyway.
David loved it...
One day Emma walked up to me and said this:

And of course, Mckenna wanted to be a part of the action:

And on another day, David walked up to me saying, "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" with some wonderful new eye wear...

Question of the day: Can you tell me what's missing from this picture?

Mckenna-ism of the Day

Walking up to me from her class at church, Mckenna thrusts her hand in my face with a long, ropelike, red candy and says:

Mommy, I got a Yicka fish!

And later, when she was telling her dad, Emma tried to correct her by telling her it was licorice. Mckenna said, "NO! It's a yicka fish!"

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mckenna-ism for the day

Mckenna: Mom, did you swallow a sword?
Me: What? No...
Ken: Then why do you have a sword in your neck?
Me: (laughing) No, silly! I have a sore neck! That means my neck hurts.

Sisters part dos

Wow, thanks so much for all of the advice and encouraging words! We've been taking a lot of your advice, and they're still arguing, but much less. Emma has realized that when she bursts out in anger or frustration at something that Kenna does, Kenna retaliates and will not back down. So, if Emma begins with a calm voice, Ken is easier to work things out with. If I just remind Emma at the beginning to use nice words, it usually doesn't escalate as fast. So, thanks again everyone!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Emma and Mckenna have been fighting for the past week and a half... and I think I'm going crazy!!! They both have figured out exactly what buttons to push to make the other one mad and they have not stopped!

It started when Emma's drama camp ended. Apparently spending too much time together is not helping. I've vacillated back and forth between solving their disputes, or letting them solve it themselves. Sometimes I do a combination of both where I tell them they have to solve it in 1 minute or I'll solve it(which usually ends up with me taking away the toy they're fighting over).

Recently we've started a new rule: You can only tattle when someone is hurt or going to get hurt. So, today I was in my bathroom getting ready for church. I could hear their voices escalating and I knew I'd hear "MOMMMM!!!" pretty soon. I decided I'd let them work this one out, so when I heard them coming up, I told them they had to stay downstairs and figure it out. Ten minutes later they were still going, and they had to get ready for church, so I told them to come upstairs. Well, that started a whole new argument about who was going to follow David upstairs(so he doesn't fall). Once they were dressed and hair was done, I told them to go get in the car. Another argument ensued... When they got in the car and were supposed to be buckling their seats - another one. We had quiet time on the way to church, and when we got there and were unbuckling...can you see where I'm going with this? And every argument was worse than the previous. They had become so angry with each other that every word out of their mouths would fuel a new fight. And I was ending every argument by yelling at them.

So by the time we walked into the chapel I was fuming. (It didn't help that Ian had put my keys in some random spot last night and it took me five minutes to find them...) To make matters worse, when I was carrying David into the building I realized his weight was making my normal neck shirt become a scoop neck shirt. I adjusted it, but as soon as we sat down I realized it was going to take more than adjusting for this shirt to work. So, as soon as the sacrament was over I left, changed, drove David around to take a nap, and returned in time to teach my class.

While I was driving around I had time to think, and while I am still at a loss as to how I can help my daughters become friends, I realized that the anger and frustration I was feeling was the same anger and frustration Emma and Mckenna feel when they fight and I yell at them. I realized my cranky attitude wasn't helping them. I am just now starting to lose the agitated feeling I had all morning, but I've realized that the saying, "When Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" is so true. When I'm upset, I'm not helping the girls work out their problems. I'm adding more negativity to the environment which will lead the next discussion in the same direction.

So I feel like I've figured out half of the problem...but I'm going to defer to you guys for the other half. What do I do when they are in the middle of an argument? I feel like I've tried everything. I know I need to give them more positive opportunities to work together and solve problems together(thank you supernanny!) but I don't know what to do when they are both so upset. Some arguments can be worked out with just a little bit of suggestions, but there are many times where they are both in the wrong, both upset, and there really is no solution that will make everyone happy. Help!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ode to My Feet

Dear Feet,

This letter has many purposes. First and foremost, I wish to thank you for the 26 1/2 years you have held me upright, walked to me school, learned to ride a bike, kicked a soccer ball(even when the rest of my body was deathly afraid to), kicked me to swim meet victories, drove our first car, allowed me to walk in stilettos and adorn your cute little toes with flowers and polish.
Second, I'd like to apologize for the times I didn't treat you so well. I'm sorry for running you over with a motorcycle and letting it drag you across the pavement. I'm sorry for calling you Barney Rubble feet. I'm sorry for cramming you into those stilettos. I'm especially sorry for forcing you to hold my weight through my three pregnancies.
In the past year, we've been through a lot. I know it's been hard for you, but I really tried to make things easier for you both. When the pain began, I vehemently researched everything I could to make you better. I then did everything I could to make you better. I treated you the best I knew how. But I guess it just wasn't enough.
All along you'd been deceiving me. I thought you were in pain from my attempts at exercise and lack of proper stretching. I really tried to make things easier for you...only to find out you'd been lying to me. It is your own fault, you know. How could I have known that your bones weren't assembled correctly? That they are all supposed to flow in the same direction - but you have bones that face the other way - that you have neglected to correct. And because of your wayward bones, you and I have been in ridiculous pain for the past year.
But really, the worst part of all is that because of your deceitful nature, we cannot walk in the 3Day. That really hurts. If you had been honest with me from the beginning, we could have figured this out together. But, now we have to get orthopedics made for you and go to at least a month of physical therapy. I understand that expecting you to walk 60 miles over 3 days is a lot, but you could have done it! We could have made it. Now, we will have to wait.
Lets make a deal. You be open and honest with me - letting me know what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong, and I promise I'll do everything the doctor says to make you better. And maybe, just maybe we can have some more fun adventures. I'll even let the massage therapist spend a little extra time on you this weekend. What do you say?

Signed: Your loving legs and up.

(P.S. It's no longer Plantar Fasciitis. It is now a planter muscle sprain. In both feet. Yay.)

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Happy Post

Hooray for Monday!! Today was a great day. I took the kids to a movie in the morning. They were all great; David even fell asleep for the second half. When we got back in the car I had a message on my cell phone from Joanne at Benjamin Franklin Elementary, stating that there was a spot in their first grade for Emma and asking if I would please hurry and call back so they could get that spot filled. Oh happy day!!!

I don't think I posted about this, but Emma had some issues in her last class. I might sound like I'm bragging, but really, I'm being honest: Emma was pretty much the smartest kid in her class(according to her teacher), so she was getting bored with her work or finishing it early and then getting bored. Because of this, she was acting up and getting into trouble. I finally realized what was going on and took the wuss approach(remember how much I LOVE confrontation?) and had my sister talk to her teacher. Things did improve a bit, but I still felt like Emma needed to be more challenged. So I put her on the waiting list for a charter school here. I went to the orientation and left feeling like I really wanted Emma to go to that school, but that there wasn't a very likely chance she'd get in.

But she did!!! Hallelujah!! And I was sooo excited, so I turned around to tell Emma(we were still in the car), and she burst into tears! The sweet thing was so distraught because she was never going to see her school friends again. And honestly, I don't think she ever will, so I didn't have much to say to that. I told her all of the good things about her new school and how she'd make new friends there, but I wish I could have said something like, "Oh sure, you'll see them again..." -not true, she probably never will!

Emma has 2 kinds of crying: 1. The dramatic, over-exaggerated, slightly fake, "look at me" cry and 2. A real cry. Number 2 is extremely rare and only happens in cases of extreme pain and/or extreme sadness. This was a case for number 2. So we pulled into a gas station and she crawled into my lap and just cried and cried. I almost cried with her, I felt so bad. She is such a loving kid. She just loves to make friends and be a part of what everyone else is doing. She never turns friends away. She's always wanting to meet new people, have friends over, go to people's houses, call everyone. Anyway... I'm just so so happy for her that she can go to an awesome school that will challenge her, where she can really thrive, and most importantly: be happy!

She calmed down enough for us to go to Sonic for lunch, which cheered her up. We brought Daddy some lunch at work and headed home where David fell asleep eating a cookie:

we cleaned up, watched a movie, read a book, made dinner, baked a cake, ate dinner - where Mckenna made the best face ever because I told her she couldn't have any more watermelon(notice the dripping juice on her chin from her 3rd hunk of watermelon goodness):

had FHE on gratitude, and decorated our Volcano Cake a la Emma:

It was a good day.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


I couldn't think of anything to title this blog, so instead I just used the best word to describe how I'm feeling.

OK I'm about to admit something that I'm sure will shock you all, but ...whatever. Ian and I have been married 7 years at the end of this month, and I have still not legally taken his last name. When we were first married, things were just so crazy and busy that I never got around to it. We changed them on our bank accounts and stuff like that, but never through SS or the DMV. And then we just kept popping out these babies which made it harder and harder to get the motivation to go. I've always kept a copy of my marriage certificate in my wallet so whenever we fly, or buy a house, or any other time I've needed proof of his last name, I had it.

3 years ago I had to renew my license, so I thought I'd change it then(got a babysitter and everything). When I went there, they told me that I had to change it through Social Security first. So I just renewed it and moved on.

I finally decided that 7 years was long enough and on Monday I went with Mckenna and David(Emma was at camp) and changed it through SS. No problems at all. I was in and out in under an hour. They said I needed to wait 2 days before I changed it at the DMV.

So yesterday morning(Wednesday) I got a babysitter and drove to the DMV with all of my paperwork in a nice and tidy folder. When I got there, I filled out my paperwork and took a number. They called my number, I went to counter number 12, laid out all of my paperwork and told the woman what I was there for. She took one look at my marriage certificate and told me that I had the wrong kind and would need to get a certified copy before I could continue. Huh?! For the past 7 years I've used that exact license(not a copy) for everything under the sun - including Social Security. You'd think that since I have to have my SS card changed before I go to the DMV that the DMV would take one look at my SS card, one look at my marriage cert and say, "OK, you're good to go!" But, sadly, no. And to make matters worse, I asked for the manager - to be sure - which only escalated my emotions so that when she came over and told me the same thing, I started to get tears in my eyes. I tried to hide it by looking down, but then I think they noticed because the manager said that if I could get the city of San Diego to fax a copy, she'd accept that. So I packed up as fast as I could before the tears could fall, and tried to rush out...of a door that doesn't open. Then, after I did find a door that opened, I stepped off a curb that I didn't know was there...GAH! I was just trying to hurry out before anyone noticed what a wuss I was, but instead, made everyone realize what a klutz I am.

I got in the car and had my cry, then called the San Diego Recorder and found out that they only give you a certified copy if you snail-mail a form to them and they will snail-mail it back to you. In 2-3 weeks. I know that waiting 2-3 more weeks is nothing compared to the past 7 years, but I was just so frustrated that for the 2nd time I couldn't do it.

So I went to the mall for some retail therapy. Oh yeah...and if you couldn't tell I'm PMSing.