Friday, December 23, 2011


Elfe and I are on our way to NY for Christmas. 

Last year, we stayed home for Christmas day and then drove down to NY on the 26th - just barely beating a blizzard down there.  Back then, I made the decision that this year we would go down earlier and spend Christmas day with our extended family; it just felt like the right thing to do.

Now, I'm not sure if it's right or not.

On one hand, my parents' house is bound to be a heckuva lot more festive than mine.  I just barely got a wreath on the door last weekend - I tried to make up for the lack of a tree by buying the biggest, gaudiest wreath in the store, but that's the extent of my holiday decorations this year.  It will also be nice for Elfe to spend more time with cousins and other family.

On the other hand...well, I'm not really sure I can express what the other hand is.  It's hard to put into words, and there's no time to find the words - Elfe is antsy to get on the road already.

The best I can do is point you over to what Claudia wrote at her place, which I very easily could have also written over here if I had been able to find the energy and the motivation to actually do it.  She and I have made a deal to do something about it before 2011 is over, and I have plans to take those steps when I am back in Boston at the end of next week.

Posting will be light-to-non-existent for the next several days.  If I manage to sneak away to a coffee shop with wi-fi while we are in NY, I will probably post a reading list or two, but other than that don't expect to hear from me.  Don't take it as a sign that anything is wrong (especially after reading Claudia's post!) it just means that my parents are not the most tech-y people in the world and it's hard to connect to the Internet when I'm at their house.

Happy holidays to everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Books Make Great Gifts - For Adults Too!

On Thursday I gave you a list of books that make great gifts for I'm here to give you some recommendations for books that make great gifts for the adults in your life!  Amazon links below are affiliate links.

I promise we'll be back to the regular non-commercial programming soon, but in the meantime this may help you finish your holiday shopping:

Adoption Nation - by adoptive father and Evan B. Donaldson Executive Director Adam Pertman, an ambitious overview of how adoption has changed over time and is also changing our families and the US.

My Fathers' Daughter - Hannah Pool, adopted from Eritrea as an infant, discovers as an adult that she has birthfamily there, including a father she thought was dead.  She travels to Eritrea to reunite with them.  This is a fantastic and valuable peek inside the mind of an adult transracial adoptee!

I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla - a great resource for understanding the stages of awareness kids go through around skin color and race.

Held at a Distance - Rebecca Haile travels back to Ethiopia for the first time since leaving with her family at the age of eleven and then growing up in Minnesota.  Questions of identity and trying to reconcile the two cultures she feels a part of are particularly interesting for those of us who have adopted children with memories of Ethiopia. 

Notes from the Hyena's Belly - Nega Mezlekia's autobiography from his birth in Ethiopia in 1958 through 1997, including his involvement in the political unrest and revolution that "was eating Ethiopia's children an alarming rate.  This book was my introduction to the complexities of Ethiopia's modern history.

Beneath the Lion's Gaze - my mother read this one shortly after we returned from Ethiopia, and loved it because she had actually been to many of the places described in the book.  She passed it on to me last year.  It's a novel set during roughly the same time period as Notes from the Hyena's Belly, and gives a much fuller - and more violent - account of Ethiopia's troubled past.

Cutting for Stone - my mother passed this one on to me when I was there for Thanksgiving a few weeks ago.  It's also set in Ethiopia.  I'm about a third of the way through it and enjoying it so far - will try to write a longer review once I'm finished.  

You can find more recommendations at my store on Amazon.  Pick up something for yourself while you're at it - I won't tell anyone!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Books Make Great Gifts - For Kids

With Christmas just around the corner (cue me having a panic attack...), I thought I'd share with you some books that would make great gifts for the kids in your life.  Some are adoption-related, some are related to Ethiopia, some I like because they feature characters of color...but the main thing they have in common is that Elfe and I really like all of them!  I've already reviewed some of them here on the blog, but some I haven't gotten around to reviewing yet.  Any links to Amazon below are affiliate links.


The Best Beekeper of Lalibela - A young girl proves that you don't need to know how to climb trees - or be a man - to have the best honey at the market!

Star of the Week - Cassidy-Li is going to be star of the week in her kindergarten class, but she has to get creative when it comes to including adoption and her birth family on her star of the week poster.

How I Was Adopted - The first book with an adoption theme that Elfe and I read together.  It was super helpful in figuring out where to begin with developing a way to talk about Elfe's adoption story with her.

The Storyteller's Beads - A young adult novel by Jane Kurtz, set during the famine in Ethiopia in the 1980s.  Two girls develop a strong bond even though they seem to be very different.

Fire on the Mountain - Also by Jane Kurtz. A young Ethiopian shepherd boy and his sister outwit a rich man.

Faraway Home - Another one by Jane Kurtz.  This one always makes me cry, as a father describes his life as a boy in Ethiopia to his daughter, and how much he misses it even though it is so different from her life here.

Jump at the Sun publishes a series of classic fair tales in which all of the characters have brown skin.  My favorite is Goldilocks and the Three Bears (Goldilocks gets her name from the golden beads at the end of her cornrowed and braided hair), but we also enjoy Jack and the Beanstalk and Beauty and the Beast.

This is not a book, but it deserves mention here:  Happily Ever After is an animated series produced by HBO, in which classic fairy tales are given a modern multicultural twist and narrated by Robert Guillaume.  Almost all of the characters in the stories are black or Hispanic - even Little Bo Peep's sheep are black - and voices include Whoopi Goldberg, Samuel L. Jackson, Della Reese, Chris Rock, Will Smith, Jimmy Smits, Wesley Snipes, and Denzel Washington.  The DVD I linked to here includes Mother Goose, The Golden Goose, The Pied Piper, and Pinocchio; we also have another DVD from the series called  Robinita Hood, voiced by Jennifer Lopez.

For more recommendations, you can visit my store on Amazon.

I also want to mention - for those of you who don't know or who have forgotten - that I am an Ambassador for Barefoot Books, a children's publishing company with many, many, many books that include multicultural themes and characters of color; it's the main reason I love their books and decided to become an Ambassador!  I have a separate blog where I review Barefoot Books and offer special deals, so head over there if you want even more great gift ideas.

Good luck with your holiday shopping!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Last week I completely forgot to be thankful on Tuesday. 

Not like when I usually forget to post, where I was thinking about it all day and just ran out of time to post.

No, totally forgot about it.  On Thursday I wondered how long it had been since my last post and should I think about writing a new one...and realized I had completely skipped thankfulness on Tuesday!

I think I forgot about it because I was ambivalent about what I really should have been thankful for last week.  The potential ending I had blogged about the week before - the one I had been dreading but also secretly hoping would happen - it didn't happen.

Which left me simultaneously relieved and feeling hopelessly, miserably stuck.

So, I conveniently forgot to be thankful.

I'm still feeling stuck and unsure of how to get unstuck, but I'm not going to let another week go by without being thankful for something:

  • this week I am thankful for my on-line community, who are right now trying to help through a tough spot (that I will probably blog about once things are resolved)
  • I am thankful for some outside motivation that has recently come my way - in the form of quotas and expectations - and that I think might just help me get unstuck.
  • I am thankful that you guys will put up with all the vagueness in this post and understand the thankfulness behind it!
What are you thankful for this week?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Reading List 12-11-11

We are having another low-key, cleaning, trying to get the house organized in preparation for an influx of Christmas gifts...and catching up on the weekly reading list:

John Raible writes about UNICEF greeting cards and international adoption.  I agree with him, for the record.

At Jack & Jill Politics, here's a video of Jay Smooth's "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Learned to Love Talking About Race" TEDx talk at Hampshire College. 

At This Week in Blackness, Black Leaders Get Closeup View of Alabama's New Jim Crow.

Watch this video too, at Los Angelista: "Why'd You Give that N**** Your Eraser?": When Your 10-Year-Old is Called Racial Slurs at School.

At Womanist Musings, All is White in So-Called Multicultural Canada.

Let's end on a slightly more cheerful not - my sister is crafting for Christmas, and showing you how to too:

I, on the other hand, will be lucky if I get a wreath on the front door before Christmas is actually upon us...

Enjoy the readings!

Monday, December 5, 2011

December is Completing 2011

I mentioned last week that I am more than ready to say good-bye, so long, adios, don't-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out, to this incredibly hard and much-too-long year.

But, before I can do that, I know that I have to really examine 2011 in all its gory details and not leave anything hanging.  If I just jump into 2012 without tying up all the loose ends and forgiving myself for all the mistakes I made, I won't be able to create something new after the calendar pages turn. 

So this month, just like the last few Decembers, will be devoted to letting go of this year.  Finishing everything that needs to be finished, making sure I don't bring any leftover mental or emotional crap with me into the new year.  I am already dreading this exercise this year, which tells me that it's the absolute perfect thing for me to do right now.

The other part of completing the year, however, is celebrating the successes.  Despite the overall yuckiness of 2011, there were a few bright spots here and there.  If I don't recognize them and take credit for my own role in creating them, I also won't be able to keep creating bright spots in the future - and, I'll be left with an unrealistic picture of what 2011 was all about.

Will you join me in completing the old year - whether it was a good one or a bad one for you - and getting ready for a new year full of wonder and joy?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Reading List 12-4-11

A few quick readings for you today, then it's back to lazy Sunday activities for me!

From the US State Department, via Ethica:

John Raible says Stop deporting adoptees!  And I say - get your child's citizenship status squared away ASAP!

I meant to give you this link a while ago - my friend Karen shared a great resource for November 17 - Children Grief Awareness Day.  Since we were right in the thick of some adoption trauma grief at our house, it was a particularly timely resource for me...

Amy at Mo' Cookies shares a story that shows UN-ethical Behavior happens in domestic adoption too.

I loved this post, Two Roads at Our Little Tongginator, because it really shows how every child is different and you have to deal with the child you have, not the one you expected to get based on books you've read or the experience of your friend or even your own previous parenting experiences.

Heather at Production, Not Reproduction, tells us that Adoption Doesn't End and also gives us a little something For the Parenting Tool Box.

I know that hiding the fact that our children are adopted is not an option for most of us - and I've got a post brewing about how annoying that has been lately - but this guest post at The Declassified Adoptee, Adopted Me: My Life as a Late-Discovery Adoptee (about a man whose parents didn't tell him he was adopted until he was in HIS FORTIES!!!) really hit me hard.  It is stories like this one that really push me to talk frankly with Elfe about adoption stuff - in age appropriate ways, of course - because if I wait "until she's ready" or "for a better time" it could very easily never happen at all.

Here's a new blog I discovered recently (can't remember how), and my favorite recent post from Thriving Despite Us - Love is Not All We Need...Sorry, John Lennon.

Finally, from They're All My Own, What's the Deal with the Black Kids?

I have more - that's what happens when you take a two-week break from making a reading list, I guess - but I don't want to overwhelm you.  More next week, I promise!

And now, back to doing nothing on a chilly Sunday afternoon...