Archive for June, 2012

A lesson from my niece

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Thank you to everyone who sent positive thoughts to my niece as she competed in the 200 Butterfly at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska this morning.

Astrid didn’t qualify, but she swam hard and finished strong. Competition is tough in the 200 Fly and my niece is young–15 years old this month. Just to swim in the same water with that elite crop of competitors was an honor in itself.

Yesterday I wrote about Astrid’s dedication–the elements braved, the miles swum–and after watching my niece today, I realized something else: We work hard, but we don’t always win. Some of us will drop out; some of us will go back and try even harder. 

You don’t have to wonder to which group Astrid belongs.

Tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, Astrid will dive in the water, and log her yardage. She’ll give her all. She won’t give up.

I look at Astrid, and am inspired.






Brag alert: My niece and the Olympic Trials

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Each of my nieces and nephews is unique, special, and talented in her or his own way, and I love and adore them all. But this blog post tells a little story about my sister Deanna’s middle child, Astrid.

In December 2010, I stayed for a week with Deanna and her family–Astrid and her two sisters, Mackenzie and Mia, and De’s husband David–in Boston, where they live, while I was touring New England for my Mamalita Book Tour. I probably don’t have to tell you that Boston in winter is cold, and I mean frigid. Even after piling on multiple layers of down and fleece, including gloves and hat, I never stopped shivering.

But every morning at 5 AM, in the bedroom next to mine, an alarm would go off. As I burrowed more deeply under my covers, I could hear my niece Astrid rustle around quietly before tiptoeing down the stairs to the kitchen, where her father David clutched two mugs of steaming hot tea. David was waiting to drive his daughter to swim practice, and had already warmed up the car.

Off they’d go, so Astrid could swim a few thousand yards, with David, himself a former collegiate swimmer, helping coach the team. A full day at high school for Astrid followed, and afterwards, for good measure, another two hours in the pool.

As any parent with a child knows, you can’t “make” someone practice like that. That kind of fierce determination comes from inside. A child either wants to, or she doesn’t. And ever since she was a little girl, Astrid has wanted to. She still does.

I find that utterly, impressively amazing.

As I write this, Astrid and her family are in Omaha, Nebraska for the Olympic Swimming Trials. Astrid’s event, the 200 Fly, will take place on Thursday, June 28, around 10 AM Central Standard Time.

Sending best wishes to Astrid, her family, and her teammates.  You’ve earned this.   ~


Joining another blog site, “Adoption Under One Roof”

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

For years, before we adopted our children, I worked in offices. And while the work itself interested, invigorated, and enlightened me, what I miss most is the hubbub of the place: the conversations across cubicle walls, the heart-to-hearts over sandwiches, the personalities, the dramas, the excited recitations of weekend plans, and later, on Monday, the recap.

So when a friend and fellow adoptive mom, Lisa S, invited me to join her and the other bloggers at Adoption Under One Roof, I accepted immediately. True, I remain a solitary writer at my dining room table, alone with a cup of coffee and my laptop, but somewhere out there, at different dining room tables, drinking their own cups of coffee, sit the other contributors–my colleagues.

I love the idea of that.

My plan is to keep up while I contribute to Adoption Under One Roof. We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, here’s the link to my very first post.

Who said “Life is change”? Onward. ~


Books on CD

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Where have you been all my life, Books on CD?

I had been dreading the prospect of this week and next, when Olivia and I must drive long hours to and from a series of appointments she needs. But that was before I stumbled upon the “Books on CD” shelves in the kids’ section of our public library and discovered the dozens of stories waiting to be heard. A revelation, and a revolution. Never again will I view a car trip in the same way.

Monday through Wednesday, we listened to Cheaper By the Dozen, by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, read by Dana Ivey.  As a 244-page book, this is not a selection Olivia would ever read.  But Dana Ivey is a wonderful actress and Cheaper by the Dozen a hilarious and very well-written tale. Olivia loved it. We both did.   

Today, we start on another classic, Old Yeller. I’ll let you know how it goes.


Coming this fall: “Somewhere Between,” a documentary focusing on 4 girls born in China and adopted to families in the US.

Friday, June 8th, 2012

I learn so much about adoption from people who are themselves adopted. That’s why I plan to see this new documentary by Linda Goldstein Knowlton, Somewhere Between, as soon as it is released this fall. Below is a description written by Linda Goldstein Knowlton and posted on the film’s website, and a link to the documentary trailer on YouTube.

“My daughter’s name is Ruby. She is five. When my husband and I adopted her from China we had no idea what lay ahead. In an instant, we became a family. I began to think about Ruby’s future and started to wonder how her coming of age would differ from mine.

SOMEWHERE BETWEEN tells the intimate stories of four teenaged girls. They live in different parts of the US, in different kinds of families and are united by one thing: all four were adopted from China, because all four had birth parents who could not keep them, due to personal circumstances colliding with China’s ‘One Child Policy’. These strong young women allow us to grasp what it is like to come-of-age in today’s America as trans-racial adoptees. At the same time, we see them as typical American teenagers doing what teenagers everywhere do…struggling to make sense of their lives.

Through these young women, and their explorations of who they are, we ourselves pause to consider who we areboth as individuals and as a nation of immigrants. Identity, racism, and gender…these far-reaching issues are explored in the documentary. And with great honesty and courage, these four girls open their hearts to experience love, compassion, and self-acceptance.

What’s it like to grow up as a minority today – and what is it like when your family is part of the majority? How does the changing face of the American family affect us all? How do we fulfill our own destinies? Four determined teenaged girls help us find those answers in SOMEWHERE BETWEEN.”