Friday, February 27, 2009

Oh the Questions and Comments

I think most new moms find that shopping and every day, public tasks can become quite time consuming. What was once a 10 minute trip to target quickly becomes a 45 minute journey. Not just because you have to deal with getting the baby in and out of the car seat ,etc, but because everyone has to stop and ask, "How old?" "So cute." "They grow so fast..." You all know the deal. But today I just wanted to zone out and complete some mundane errands before completely crashing tonight after an excruciatingly frustrating work week. So, off we go to Costco. I put Payton in the baby bjorn, grabbed a cart, found my card, and headed in to the store. Payton and I have grown accustomed to the stares and whispers that sometimes accompany our shopping trips. And I will admit that we do stand out a little bit. I mean, the boy is pretty cute, if I do say so myself :). But some people do more than stare or whisper...they just come out and ask! I typically don't mind and actually find their blatant curiosity a refreshing change from the stares. Well, the card lady (you know, the one that stands at the entrance and looks for your card) just came right out and said, "Is he adopted? Where is he from?" Well.... I put on my nice face and gave my standard answers and we went on about my business. An hour later, we were done. I got out my receipt and carried it to the receipt checker (the same lady!). This time she grinned and said, "I just want to thank you for adopting domestically. There are so many kids here that need good homes." Typically, I would have engaged this conversation about requirements, costs, personal reasons, openness, my belief in a Divine Plan (the red string) for every "match", but I was spent and I was afraid I might be a bit too blunt myself. I just grabbed my receipt and left. Personally, I support anyone choosing to create a family through adoption, domestically or internationally, and think God is truly sovereign over these matters. What is more frustrating is that she, like so many others, is THANKING me?! I don't deserve a thank you for raising a baby that I longed for and was finally blessed with. I am the one who is thankful. Thankful for Payton!

In the middle of my shopping, I answered the typical baby questions (older ladies are esp. prone to stop, ask, and TOUCH his hands [cringe]).

To add to my strange day with strangers, the check out lady at target (stop #2) decided to have a nice, long conversation about how she always wanted to adopt, but would never adopt domestically, because she wants to help a baby in a third world nation. Again, I had so much that I could say, but I was spent. I just said, "Being a mom is wonderful," and left. Who knew being an adoptive mom could be so exhausting. I don't think either of these individuals meant to hurtful, but they clearly have a skewed view of what it means to be an adoptive mommy. We are mommies first, the adoptive part is secondary, and we are blessed and do not deserve thanks or to be judged for adopting internationally or domestically.

On a related note, our trip at costco was successful. I got Pate a britax car seat for $119 (note that this $160 less than the same model I saw at target). Payton will outgrow his infant car seat with 6 more pounds, so I am excited to have a seat for him to grow into soon.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Response to a Coward

The Cowardly Comment to my post Sister Rosa:

"Unless they are demonstrating a clear racial slur, you should be proud of your students for displaying their southern heritage. You probably use to have some southern heritage before being brain washed by the professors at UVA. Your job as a teacher is to be fair and balanced and not try to brainwash your students to your personnel opinion."

Today I received several comments that irritated me a bit. The individual that had the nerve to post them is too cowardly to identify him/herself. I am guessing that it is the same individual that begged me not to vote for Obama in November. If it is, I have an idea as to just who this coward is, but I cannot be for sure. I still find it amazing that someone can say these things, but not own up to it. Really, [insert some not-so-pleasant synonyms for "coward"]?

What irritated me the most was that this person said I brainwashed my students and that I myself was brainwashed by my professors at UVA.

Firstly, professors at UVA would also find your comment(s) ignorant and offensive. They do hire intelligent people at UVA, given that it is, year after year, ranked as one of the top two public universities in the entire country. Furthermore, I would argue that there are several professors in the Politics and History departments that are not liberal "loons" (using the words of this individual who refuses to identify him/herself who also responded to my Just a Chimp? post). These professors are renowned researchers and teachers and I am proud that I had the privilege attend UVA. There are parts of UVAs history that are not so grand (like the attack on our black student president while I was an undergrad, or the fact that it was founded by a man that owned slaves). But what is important is that UVA has come a long way in trying to end self-segregation on grounds. UVA also continues to support programs that attempt to facilitate opportunities for racial discourse and UVA even offers classes taught in the Curry School on Multicultural Education. I wish every person could have an opportunity to hear the perspectives of individuals in that class (esp. people of limited scope, like the individual who posted these comments.)

Secondly, I resent the fact that this individual claims that I brainwash my students. I take great pride in helping my students THINK on their own. But I will never, ever let them think that racial intolerance is okay. Because it is not okay. But in terms of their political opinions, I do encourage my students to share and think on their own. I even take a poll at the end of the year to see how "good" I was at playing the so-called "devils advocate" in my classroom. I give my students an evaluation that asks several questions about my teaching methods, what helped them most, least, etc. The very last question has a political spectrum and asks, "What is Ms. K?" Guess what, I get responses ranging from a conservative republican to a communist. Usually split close to 50/50. I would say that I have done my job well! I do not brainwash my kids. Heck, many have asked me about my personal religious and/or political beliefs and I always respond, "Ask me again after you graduate. Then I will tell you." One student actually came BACK to school to ask me the day after she graduated (three years after I taught her). Another student [whose parents (Democrats) I know well], came home and told his dad that he was shocked his teacher (me) was a republican. Hmm. I only teach them my personal opinion? Really? Oh, when were you (cowardly commenter) in my class anyway? Have you ever observed me teach? Do not make claims about my classroom until you've been there, or talked to my students, or read notes from multiple administrators at multiple schools that observed me in my classroom.

I really should not indulge this coward by responding to his or her comments, but the fighter in me just can't shut up and take it. I will fight for racial equality and will continue to infuse my classroom with multicultural education when ever I get the chance to do so.

And one last thing. I am a southern girl and my husband is southern man. We like grits. We have accents. We love the woods. We watch nascar. My husband went to VMI. We live on farm. My relatives once fought for the Confederate army. There are slave graves on the old family plantation. There are things to be proud of in my family history, but that last one I mentioned IS NOT ONE OF THEM. I will never wear a confederate flag. It is a symbol of hate. Period.

Oh, and who are you (the cowardly individual) to tell ME what my JOB is, anyway?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Baby Sign


I LOVE the baby smart LOOK! flash cards. Each night I go through them with Payton and sign the words. He loves to watch my hands fly and he loves the brightly colored cards. Although I am teaching Payton true ASL, rather than so-called baby sign, these cards are a great tool. I hope our hard work pays off and my little man is signing before long.






What to do?







Payton's hair is a little wild these days. He has random bald patches in some places and in other places his hair is nearly 5 inches long. I am pondering what to do. Should I buzz his hair? I am taking a poll, what do you think? Am I a bad mom to give him a haircut before he is one? Leave a comment.

Just A Chimp?

I am thoroughly outraged at the notoriously conservative New York Post for actually running Delonas' political cartoon of a chimp with two bullet wounds in the chest and a police officer saying, "You'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill." The NYP editors and other conservatives claim there are no underlying racial tones, since Nancy Pelosi (rather than Obama) should take the heat for being the actual author of the bill, but I don't buy it. Unfortunately, our country is not progressive enough in its racial healing as one would hope. (I am giving a big shout out to Att. Gen. Eric Holder for calling us (US citizens) out for being cowards when it comes to discussing race issues.) He said, "Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards." Let's put it on the table folks, whether the cartoon had intended racial undertones or not, it is incredibly insensitive, given our nations history. Thoughts?

Monday, February 16, 2009

5 months!


Payton continues to grow...although he is not gaining weight like he did between months 3 and 4. He nearly weighs 15 lbs. His big head measures 17 1/4 inches and he is 25 inches long. I think he has slowed down his weight gain significantly because he is so much more active than he used to be; rolling and grabbing and kicking and bouncing....you get the point.
Payton has changed in so many ways. My little man hated being on his belly for so long. Now he prefers his belly for playing and sleeping and I am constantly flipping him back over. He is also a thumb only baby now and his sent his pacifiers to the reject pile. He does occasionally chew on his raspberry teether that looks like a paci, but that is about it. Payton has also enjoys to several "new" books, he particularly likes Mommy Calls Me Monkeypants, and Snuggle Puppy. Payton got a new toy from his Great Aunt Linda taht he really loves. We call Payton's new toy Snuggle Puppy and sing the song and he grins in between munching on Snuggle Puppy's ears (see pic). Payton is also enjoying "rough housing"; we swing him in the air and he giggles. (It is also a great arm and ab workout for me :) He still needs to get stronger before I will let Daddy rough house with Payton. Payton is also discovering that water splashes. When we go to the pool he pats the water and squeals when he makes a big splash. Lastly, Payton is at that phase where he puts everything in his mouth. He has a special appreciation for paper. He loves to touch faces and pull of my glasses. Then he tries to eat my glasses.

He is such a darling. We are so in love.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sister Rosa


Today was club day at school. A day I typically hate because I teach mostly freshmen and they are rarely involved with any of the schools clubs. This means I have almost all of my students in class, but I am not allowed to continue with my scheduled curriculum (give tests, collect homework, etc) to ensure that those students involved in clubs do not miss any new material. I am only permitted to review or do enrichment activities.

Today I decided to engage my students in a discussion about race (it is Black History Month). Yikes. This can be dangerous territory. (I mean, about 20% of my students proudly don confederate flag t-shirt, hats, and belt buckles. These same students truly do NOT understand why some people (myself included) find the flag of the "south" terribly offensive, using their common rhetoric that it is a symbol of "heritage not hate.") After the recent news of the rise in hate crimes since Obama's inauguration and local incidents that prompted the Virginia Senate to pass a law that classifies "noose intimidation" (hanging nooses) as a punishable hate crime (before it was only a misdemeanor with no real punishment in Virginia), I decided this was an issue that is more than worthy of discussion in my classroom, even if it was not in the Virginia Standards of Learning for World History 1500-Present.

To get their little wheels turning, I gave them some questions to ponder as they watched Mighty Times , a documentary produced by Teaching Tolerance (a FREE educator resource that is absolutely wonderful and worthy of a few donations!) The documentary sheds light on the fact that Sister Rosa was more than a little lady with tired feet on December day in 1955. Rather, she was a smart woman with a burning fire for racial equality. She knew her one act of civil disobedience would lead to something serious and with the assistance of Dr. King, the Montgomery Bus Boycott led to the end of segregation. Amazing. What my students found most interesting was the fact that the black community of Montgomery remained peaceful, even after several men were killed and several houses were bombed. One student said, "If that was me, I would have fought back." We talked about why Dr. King insisted that the community continued the movement with non-violent tactics and how that approach helped them achieve their goals. Kings leadership helped the rest of America see how outlandish and awful these hate crimes were in Alabama and ultimately urge Supreme Court to review segregation and the federal government to pass laws that would help end the hate crimes in the South.
By the end of class, I sat back and listened as my students took off in discussion, respectful of one another. I was proud of (most) of my kiddos. However, there is always one in the bunch.
Student: How come we have to watch a movie for black history month? There is no white history month.

Me: How many of the historical figures we studied this year were white?

Student: About 90 %

Me: How many of the people have we studied this year were men?

Student: About 90%

Unfortunately, the kid is right. I teach an SOL (standards of learning) class, which means I drill my student with "facts" about people and events that the state of Virginia deems important so that they can pass their end-of-course state wide exam and earn class credit. As you might have guessed, I am not exactly a fan of high stakes testing.

I mean, really. My class should be called "The History of White Men, with an ounce of African, Asian, South American and Women's History." Not the "World History" label that the State of Virginia has given my class. Ugh.

Today I walked away from my class feeling like a good teacher and my students did not learn one single SOL fact, but they were THINKING and learning. Isn't learning about our own social history, so that we can continue to move forward, rather than regress back into a divided, hate-filled society, more important than knowing the date that Jethro Tull invented the seed drill?

Today I am grateful for Sister Rosa's bravery and strength to take a stand. I only wish I had a tiny bit of her courage and initiative. She literally changed American History by choosing to sit. Amazing. Let us all keep our Eyes on the Prize.

Stick 'em!

Yup. Go ahead a give my little man a MMR shot as scheduled. I have posted before about my concerns and personal investigations into childhood vaccinations and the claims that they (esp. the MMR vaccine) can be linked to autism. It has been all over the news lately that the doctor who originally linked the shot to autism faked or "adjusted" much of his data to support his case. What is even more scary is the staggering numbers of measles cases on the rise. My friend, Frances, forwarded me this article . It discusses the number of cases in the UK and suggests that less than 80% of children in the UK are vaccinated for measles. Now I definitely don't feel like a bad mama for going ahead with Payton's vaccination schedule. Moms, what are your thoughts on the issue?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sveta

A friend of mine at church recently shared a heartbreaking situation with me. My friend, Michelle, is an adoptive mom to two beautiful children, Anya and Katya. She has a true heart for orphans and her heart aches for Sveta. Katya, Michelle's 9 year old daughter, shared with me a little about her friend (10 y.o.) Sveta. Sveta is in an orphanage in St. Petersburg and is running out of time before she will be moved to "the bad place," as Katya said. "The bad place" is the older child orphanages which are even less desirable than the younger child orphanages. Michelle is in touch with a social worker that works with a group located in St. Petersburg and receives occasional updates about Sveta from this social worker.

Michelle is trying desperately to find a family for Sveta. Sveta has somewhere between 8- 16 months before she will be moved to "the bad place." Sveta recently gained "true orphan" status, and it is my understanding that both of her parents are deceased and her extended family has declined their rights to help Sveta. This status will make Sveta's adoption much more simplistic than if she was not labeled. I am not certain of Sveta's health, other than she may have some indications of orphanage effect. My heart also aches for Sveta and I would love to see her find a forever family to welcome her with open arms. Older children truly struggle in orphanages and are often forgotten about. As we send prayers to God for Sveta, I hope she can feel us embrace her all the way across a great ocean and many countries and I pray God grants her the peace and innocence that should accompany childhood. After all, Jesus does love the little children, especially the "least of these," like Sveta, who do not know an earthly mommy or daddy.

If you or anyone you know is interested in helping such a sweet child, I will gladly pass on Michelle's contact information. Michelle has pictures of Sveta but I do not want to post them because I think it will violate some type waiting child law in the US or Russia, and I certainly do not want to be a stumbling block to her adoption. Michelle is willing to help out any way she can, including traveling to meet and/or pick up Sveta. Please, lift up Sveta in prayer... and all other children craving the love and hugs and security of a forever family.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

SNOW DAY!!!




Payton's first snow angel.

Notice Jackson pushing/chasing us down the hill.



The horses enjoyed the morning sun and the beautiful snow covered trees.

Okay, I have complained a fair amount about the whole working mom thing, but I must say that it is not ALL bad. Today was our third ice/snow day in two weeks, which meant I was able to spend the entire day with my boys and puppies...and get paid! Awesome. I think teachers like these "snow" days even more than kids do. This morning we bundled up and took to the hill for some super sledding. We had a blast as a family: the three of us went sledding while the dogs ran like crazy! Carmen particularly loves snow and reminds me of a little mole as she plows her way through the snow with her nose. Our few inches of snow was just enough to give us a fabulous morning of fun.


While we were playing I could hear the neighborhood kids squealing with joy. Their dad had hooked up the sleds to the tractor and was dragging them through the fields. My Dad did this for us when were kids and we loved it. Sometimes we would have five sleds all connected so the the last person really whipped around and usually flew off. Miraculously, there were never any broken bones! I must say that it really paid to be a farm kid on snow days (minus cracking the water buckets for the animals). We would always end our tractor sledding with hot cocoa at my Granny's house. I always think of her on snow days and how she would add the extra marshmallows for us. Payton will soon enjoy some of these traditions with his Grandma, but I wish he could have met his Great-Granny. At least I have some fond memories to share with him about her!


So sad to be done playing in the snow. Maybe we will get another snow day soon?