Friday, December 29, 2006

Racism in our family

****I want to note that this was also published on my blog Incredible Edibles. I don't think everyone who reads one of my blogs reads the others... and I think these stories should be shared. I have many to write about regarding racism in our family... and will tackle one story at a time.****

I’ve been thinking a lot here lately about what little I know or understand about racism. It bothers me a great deal because I feel I am ill prepared to help my daughter through any problems she may have with it. I try to read and be aware - but I am surprised at how many times I hear something and don’t realize the racist underpinnings of what was said. I have a long way to go before I am truly capable of realizing the subtle racism in every day conversation.

What I can do is give a clear picture of the racism that was prevalent in our family. My very first experience of racism that I can remember clearly happened when I was 5 years old. I frequently spent time with my great-grandmother and her daughter, my paternal grandmother, at their home in Noblesville, IN during the summers so my parents had some time to themselves. I dearly loved my great-grandmother, whom we called Mama. I can remember staying there was a fun time. They had a neighbor that had an apple tree. It produced the sourest apples I’d ever tasted, but they made the very best apple pie. And looking out their enclosed back patio (a big luxury back then) I saw my first hummingbird, which was terribly exciting. I remember they had a huge lilac bush outside their living room window, and the smell was heavenly when it was in bloom.

When I was five, I was staying with her by myself. My brother wasn’t there - I don’t know why, but I was the only one staying with her. She had to go to Indianapolis to get her teeth worked on, so we took the Greyhound bus. I remember we were sitting at the back of the bus, surrounded by several black people - men and women. (Back then, I believe the preferred term was Negro.)

Now, I can tell you, my great-grandmother was generous with her family to a fault. She used to give us kids money. Not just a nickel or a dime at a time, but handfuls of change - or better yet - dollar bills! If I had to lose a tooth, I definitely wanted to have it come out while I was staying with her. No quarter for a tooth at her house… the tooth fairy would leave us a couple dollars worth of change. As a 5 year old in 1961, that was awesome. A dollar could buy 100 pieces of Bazooka bubble gum. Or 20 candy bars. Or I could go to the Five and Dime stores in my hometown and buy cheap little bottles of cologne… to a little girl, that was the ultimate.

Now, up until that point, I had never seen any person of color. Everyone in our hometown was white. Everyone. Diversity in our town was composed of whether or not someone was Catholic or Methodist. So I had never seen a black person in my life. My eyes must have been as big as saucers, looking at these people who were dark complected… and, yes, I did wonder if it came off. I wanted to touch them to see if they felt any different, to see if I would be brown after touching them.

They all smiled at me. They all seemed to be kind… and I’m sure they understood my stares. I really wanted to talk with them…. but kept quiet. I was incredibly shy and didn’t know how to open up. Plus I’d had it drilled into my head that you don’t talk to strangers… so as a “good girl” I didn’t open my mouth for anything. Just before we got to our stop in Indy, Mama gave me a dollar bill.

I can’t describe to you why I loved getting dollars instead of change. I know a big part of it was the smell of the money. I loved the smell… and holding that dollar in my hands, I put it up to my nose and breathed it in deeply, savoring it. Then, as any child would, I started to put it in my mouth. (Smells good, it should taste good!) That’s when Mama tapped my hands down away from my mouth and said, “No, no, honey. Don’t put it in your mouth. Some nigger may have handled it.”

Now, I had never up to this point ever heard the word nigger. I had no idea what that was. I don’t remember if I asked her what a “nigger” was or not… but I do know that when I had looked up, the smiles I saw on the faces of those around us had turn to scowls of anger. I may not have known what the word meant, but I clearly understood that it was something that made these people mad. And that scared me.

We got off the bus just shortly after that.

This one incident sticks in my mind today. As a child, I had thought Mama was a kind and generous woman. She always was polite to everyone I saw her speak to… and yet, here she was, for whatever reason, making these people mad because of something she said. I am shocked to think back today how she used the word with impugnity while sitting among the very people she was disparaging. And yet, I don’t even think she realized that what she said was hurtful or mean or degrading. She said it as though she was talking about any other object (”A plant may have touched it.” “A cat may have licked it” “A car may have run over it.”) Then again, since I was only a child, I really didn’t know much about her. She could have said it as the slur she meant it to be… and being white and elderly, was unafraid that she would be harmed in any way.

I’ll never know.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmases past

This Christmas with our daughter was fun... every year gets a little better, and the magic of the day seems to resonate with all of us when we see the excitement she has when she gets something she really likes. Or when she realizes that Santa came and left her presents... and I had to deal with a hyperactive child last night, jumping up and down on the bed repeating "I love Santa Santa! I love Santa Santa!" - and then giggling hysterically because he came. When she woke up this morning, she wanted to know if she slept well. Then she wanted to know if Santa came (again).

I keep remembering the Christmases we had when I was growing up. As a family, we used to have a Christmas get-together with my dad's side of the family, changing where we would meet each year. One year at Grandmother's, one year at Uncle Roy's and Aunt Doris's, the next year at Aunt Martha's and Uncle Tom's, and then finally at our house - and then we'd start all over again. The houses were small and crowded, and the atmosphere joyous. Everyone pitched in and brought food, and the presents (although not expensive) were fun to open. As a young child, I was so happy to be with family. We didn't have much, but were all happy to be with each other. That changed a lot over the years.

I think the last Christmas we had met together as a group was when I was about 11. We were at my Grandmother's house. My parents thought it would be great to play a joke on Aunt Doris. Now, you have to understand, my Aunt Doris was a snob. She was one of those ladies who looked down on most people, and if something wasn't (in her opinion) top-notch, she was insulted. (It took me years to understand this about her, and when it finally got through, it was because she was criticizing me for something as stupid as in what order to hang pictures on a wall - good grief!)

Of course, her snootiness (if that is a word) didn't stop my dad from playing the joke. He loved life and loved having fun and playing jokes on people. So, he bought her a set of yellow bathroom floor mats shaped like feet - complete with black toenails. When she opened it up, all she could say was, "Well, I never!"

We all laughed. However, even though their actual gift was a nice bottle of their favorite alcoholic beverage, she never found it very funny. Needless to say, after that our Christmases were relegated to just us and Grandmother (either our house or hers).

I remember Christmas when I was 12. I had asked for a pair of pants I had seen in a J.C. Penney's catalog. I thought these were the neatest pants I'd ever seen, and I just knew I would look great in them. (Not "hot" mind you... that kind of thought didn't come to a kid in 1968 - we just wanted our clothes to look nice or cool. "Hot" was to come sometime down the years - when I was in my 20's.)

Come Christmas morning, I unwrapped my gifts and sure enough! I got the pants I wanted. I went straight to the bathroom to try them on and... OH NO! Somehow, I had lost the baby fat and now had curves - my waist was probably several inches too small, and they hung on the lower part of my hips. When the heck did that happen! How could Mom and Dad not see that I no longer had a little girl's build? Those pants got returned, and I don't remember what I ended up with instead. But it was an eye opening moment for me (and my parents, I believe) that I was growing up.

Yet another memorable Christmas. We got up, and I went into the bathroom. When my mom got up, she started walking down the hall... and you could hear the carpet go "Squish, squish". She was walking in water... and the only thing she could do was say it was my brother Richard's fault. He had to have been playing in the bathroom sink and allowed the water to overflow and now the carpet was soaked. And she was furious with him.

I had to point out the obvious... 'Uh, Mom.... Richard hasn't even been IN the bathroom this morning. AND - if the bathtroom faucet had overflowed, there would have been water on the bathroom floor - don't cha think?' She just kept on about how it was Richard, it had to be him, he had to have done something to get her carpet wet.

My dad began investigating and found that the water heater had busted. My poor brother was getting blamed for something that he didn't even have the anything to do with.

I remember probably one of my favorite Christmases was when I was 10. That was the year my mom and dad had given me my first camera. It was a Kodak, and took 126mm film. Actually, it took great pictures! I was so excited, because I could finally do something that my dad could do. However, it was costly to buy film and develop it, so I had to do it with my own allowance... needless to say, not too many pictures were taken with it. But I loved that camera dearly. (I wonder what happened to it? I probably threw it away when I got older, not realizing the sentimental value it would have had for me later.)

In looking back on the Christmas days that were special to me, I am hoping that I am creating special Christmas days for my daughter as well. I hope she looks back on these days fondly when she is a young woman, and hopefully, we won't have any instances of leaky water heaters to deal with.

On the bright side, Mama bought her a Kodak digital camera for kids. I have never seen a little girl get so excited - and she took great joy in taking pictures. I have posted here a few for your enjoyment. The ones of Mama are the ones that will make you laugh... but this is life from her perspective. I hope to nurture in her a way to express her creativity... and to allow her to experiment with her view of the world.

Here's to making many happy Christmas memories!

OK, so the last one was taken by her daddy.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Another (long version) video of our adoption

OK, so it's a little overkill... but this was the first thing I did for an adoption video... I love all three of these songs, so I wanted to keep the long version, too. This is from my Google account and I love the music and the feel of it. It is similar in many ways to the shorter one, but this one makes even me cry - and I've seen it dozens of times so you'd think I'd get over it by now!

If you watched the short one, I'd be interested in what you think of the longer version. And thanks for taking the time to look!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Finally, an adoption video with music.

I have an adoption video here that I have been working on since last weekend when I finally figured out how to add music. I hope this will be something people will enjoy seeing and listening to. I have a few other ideas for videos and music I want to use and try to show as well.

It's pretty amateurish, and probably not as well put together as it could be... but I didn't want to make a full scale two hour movie... I'll try some new stuff when I do the next video and see if I have what it takes to make it look more professional.

Anyway, here it is, and I hope anyone who happens on it will enjoy it.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Adding music to videos

I finally discovered how to add music to my videos. I know... it's so simple, right? Not for this dunderhead! Once I figured it out, though, I was ready to add music to just about anything. I'm trying to create a video of our adoption trip with music. I got a CD with Chinese lullabies and the music is beautiful... thought one of those would really be great to use.

So.... I have below the video of my daughter dancing her fool head off. In the actual footage, there's no music to most of the video, but adding the music I did makes is pop. Hope you have a laff or two and enjoy!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Warm November Weather

Saturday, we took advantage of the warm weather and went to a local park. As you can see, she enjoyed the heck out of herself... Summer was so hot, and fall came and went so quickly, with a lot of rain on weekends, that we didn't get out much to play much.

And then there was Sunday... with a high around 70 degrees. Our yard was so full of leaves, and we hadn't even begun to rake them... Kenzie went outside to help her daddy. When I went outside to take a picture of them, I was amazed at the amount of leaves that had been piled into the street. When I asked her if she did that all by herself, she said, "Yes... but daddy helped a little." I believe that, sweetie!

Then when I started to go back inside, she said to her Daddy, "C'mon, let's get a move on!" As if he had just been standing around doing nothing... but his blisters tell a different story.

Ooooh - she's a cheeky one. But you can see the pride in her face that she's helping.

Monday, November 20, 2006

100 Wishes Quilt

In previous posts I had talked about a little special needs girl we had been wanting to adopt. As it happened, it didn't work out for us, but the other lady who had been interested was able to get her file and is going to be adopting her. I am so very happy for her and her family.

She asked us if we would give her a piece of cloth for a 100 wishes quilt that she is having made for the child. I said that Kenzie and I both would contribute.

I took Kenzie with me to Walmart and we each picked out some cloth. I put together the cards with a swatch of the cloth taped to the card, our wish, and a picture of us included.

I sat down with Kenzie and asked her, "If you could make a wish for a little girl that is getting adopted, what would you wish for her?"

At first she wished that she would be teensy. I think she was thinking this was a wish for her own little sister. She wants her little sister to be a baby, and we keep working with her on the thought that her sister will most likely be older.

So I explained what I meant by making a wish for someone, such as wishing them good health, or success in life, or much love and happiness.

Her wish then became "I wish I could hug her and kiss her all over."

Out of the mouths of babes. That is the wish I wrote for the little girl's quilt on Kenzie's behalf. And Kenzie signed her own name to it.

Happy Birthday!

Saturday was Kenzie's fourth birthday. I am still in awe at her growth and development.

Friday, I had a birthday party for her at her daycare. It wasn't fancy, but you could tell she felt special, and was reveling in "her" day.

The little boy who sits beside her seems to be crazy about her. When she comes in to daycare, he wants her to sit by him or to give him a hug. OK, she's got a boy wanting to be her friend already... kind of scary for the future.

Saturday we took her to see "Happy Feet". I'll give you a warning. Although the music rocks, and the basic premise of the story is that everyone has something they can contribute to the group, no matter how different they are... there was one disturbing (for me) part to it. The penguins had a religion that worshipped a Penguin God, from whom all the blessings of food and prosperity flowed. And when Mumble (the young penguin that dances) upsets the elders in the penguin group, it takes on a mix of Puritanical overtones with superstitious undertones... Now, as an adult, I understand the background and what is being used here as a basis for the ousting of Mumble from the group. But it may be hard for children to understand if they have any religious background at all. The way it is presented,
it made worship of any deity seem like it was nothing more than superstition. And it didn't set well with me.

If you can explain the background for that one portion of the film so they can understand it, or they are mature enough and have had some schooling to understand what it is about - the rest of the movie is great. I'm looking for the release of the music on CD!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Switched to Blogger Beta

If you can't tell by now, I've switched to Blogger Beta. There's still some quirks the programmers need to get ironed out. I won't tell you not to switch, but I will caution you that you may be spending ungodly amounts of time trying to fix the problems that are caused by the changes.

I had tried to fix the arrangement of pictures in blogger beta and found that 1) it ain't that easy and 2) the "Recover Post" option deleted all my pictures - even though I had saved and posted this one post prior to having to use the recover post option. GRRRRR

If you're like me and are technologically challenged, wait until you can read some posts where the bugs have been ironed out.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Last night we went to a Chinese restaurant to eat. Mommy thought she'd try their Sushi.

I know, I know. Everyone out there is saying "Sushi at a Chinese restaurant? That's like going to a steakhouse and ordering chicken...."

But I picked up some chopsticks and thought I'd try theirs. Truth is, I only like the sushi that doesn't have seaweed in it. I hate seaweed. And I hate any kind of Asian pickle - they are too briny and have a weird flavor in my opinion... and one of the pieces had both seaweed and pickle. YUCK - they don't have enough wasabi to cover that taste! As much as I want to experience and appreciate other cultures and their foods - my preference for certian tastes is one thing I just can't ignore.

When I got to the table and began using the chopsticks to eat with, Kenzie said she wanted to eat with chopsticks, too. So daddy went and got her some. Neither of us showed her how to use them. She just began using them... still awkward, but she was able to pick up stuff on her own.

Roy was incredulous that she could do this. My stupid reply was, "Well, she IS Chinese." (I know, that was a stupid comment - Bad Mama!) He wanted to know who had shown her this... and I know for a fact no one has ever shown her how to use chopsticks... especially not me. She is just a clever kid - and I think most kids will figure it out if you give them time and let them play with it.

Now she wants a pair of chopsticks for herself at home and another pair to take to daycare so she can eat with them there. LOL! I guess I found something to buy her for her birthday next week.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Pre-Christmas pictures

Since the company that takes the Christmas photos charges an arm and a leg for permission to use them on any website (etc.) I got some pics prior to the sitting. Good enough to see what she looks like all dressed up.

Thank goodness that's not a real cat she's holding.
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Friday, November 03, 2006

The CCAA has now reviewed January's dossiers!

I have been waiting to see this for what feels like forever. I know I've been checking the CCAA's website now for a solid 3 weeks daily to see if they had made any movement. Only today did I not go there... and when I went to our local FCC group's Yahoo message board, there was a message from Lisa saying they had reviewed January 2006's dossiers. Ours was logged in on January 16, 2006.

MOVEMENT!!! At least we are going in a positive direction. Now comes the long wait to get a referral. I'm praying we can go either in the summer or fall of next year (at the very latest.)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Halloween party pics & video

You know... you end up making decisions about what part of the American Culture you want your child to be exposed to... and then sometimes, it just happens without really thinking about it. That's what happened with Halloween. We just thought it would be cute to dress her up and let her do it. The first year, she would walk up to the door and (barely) say "Trick or Treat" and people thought she was so cute, they started out giving her several pieces of candy rather than just one. (I tried to stop them, but I was outnumbered by Kenzie and Daddy.) It was done so often that by the time we finally got to a house that only gave her one piece, she looked at them like "Where's the rest?" and said "More". She learned quick.

This year, since we are expecting rain tomorrow, we made sure we went to a Halloween party put on by my husband's place of employment. And she picked the costume - a witch. The outfit was complete with dark purple nails, black lip gloss, a plastic cauldron for her candy (which I put one of those battery operated jack-o-lantern lights in that changed colors - gave it a nice glow coming out of it and I think every kid in the place her age just HAD to see what was in there!) and a glow stick for her magic wand. She was cute as can be. And for a cheap outfit, she won 3rd place in her age category - although I like to think it wasn't so much the costume as it was her "being in the role". She kept waving her magic wand at people, casting spells.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Daddy's Girl

A couple of weekends ago, we went to eat at a favorite downtown pizza joint. This place has been in business since 1953, and serves some really great pizza!

Kenzie loves this place - and started goofing off for me so I began to shoot photos. She so dearly loves her daddy. But she began saying, "Hey Mama, take a picture of this" and then she'd "pose" for me.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

What will your epitaph say? Here's a few I like for me...

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I coudn't choose which one I liked the best. They are each apropos in their own way.

Take this quiz at

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Piss Ass: This had to happen sooner or later...

I picked Kenzie up yesterday from daycare, and we were having a lively debate (I thought it was friendly... guess it wasn't from her point of view) about who "owned" the blankies (two very old linen towels that I had bought at an auction years ago). When I sat down on the driver's side, she said, "You're a piss ass."

What the?

She'd never heard that term from me nor my husband (who doesn't use any profanity or vulgarity at all).

OK - here is the moment when I either do it right or do it wrong. I asked her one more time to clarify what she said... and she looked me straight in the eye and said "Piss ass". Clear as day. Grinning. I even questioned it to be sure...

I just glared at her and told her that that was a bad word, that I was not happy she said it.... and I didn't want to hear another sound from her for awhile.

Not... another... sound.

Several sniffles later, she starts to talk...

I told her the only thing I wanted to hear from her were two words: I'm Sorry.

OK, technically that's 3 words...

By the time we got to the pharmacy, she asked if she was going inside. I told her I only wanted to hear "I"m sorry" - and I guess she'd had enough time to think about it, so she said "I'm sorry, Mama." And she actually sounded like she meant it.

I then told her that we don't call each other names, and that what she said was very bad. I also told her that I know I sometimes seem mean, but I am responsible for making sure she grows up to be respectful, considerate and knows that she can say she's mad and state why she is mad without calling people names.

I know that when she was 2 and even through most of this past year, if she said a word that was (in our home) considered a bad word, I could ignore it, and if we didn't repeat it or use it, she would drop it. But she is now at a point where she is beginning to have a better understanding about words, their meanings, and how to use them.

Time will only tell if I handled this one right. I guess this can be the trial run for when she's a teenager and calls me a stupid bitch because, as we all know, teenagers are the smartest people in the whole wide world... right?

Wonder how I'll handle it then.

OH, and by the end of the day there were lots of hugs and kisses and "I love you"s. I never go to bed mad at her... She always gets the softer, sweeter side of mommy at the end of the day.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Where is that dialect from?

Here lately, Kenzie has been doing something that is driving me crazy. She has been talking like a backwoods hillbilly. Living in South Central Indiana, a lot of people here have the typical southern Indiana dialect... but we dont' speak like that in our home. I am sure there are certain things we say (such as how we say "greasy" or the word "that") that would place (at least me) in the southern region of Indiana, but I do not have a [strong] Hoosier twang to my speach unless I affect it... on purpose.

And normally, Kenzie speaks very plainly, without any noticeable dialect (at least for this portion of Indiana). But here lately, sometimes she has been saying things with a definite dialect that I am trying to place. I thought perhaps, being in a college town, she would have heard it from someone she is in contact with daily at the daycare... a lot of the younger women working there are college students from all over the U.S. But that is not the case... none of the women I have talked with have this dialect.

I can't tell if it reminds me of Arkansas... West Virginia.... ?????? I just have no clue. I mean... there is only one syllable in the word "help"... but Kenzie is saying it so it sounds like "heyalp". She has this dialect down to an art... "Yeeou wanna put lotion on mah laigs? I kin heyalp yeeou."

Then I got to thinking.. one of the favorite movies at the daycare is a Goofy movie. Hmmmmmm.... Goofy kinda talks like this... maybe she is imitating that.

Wherever it is coming from... she can switch it back and forth between strong dialect and no dialect in an instant. I'll hang in there and hope it's just something she is going to grow out of.

And then again... If this is something she is doing on purpose, she is going to make one really great little actess.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

IU Campus Walk

Indiana University has one of the most beautiful campuses in the U.S. I took Kenzie on a walk through the campus... she got all excited to see the squirrels and chipmunks scurrying about looking for food.

It was a perfect fall day. I'll try to get back to the campus with her in a week or two when the leaves are in high color.

I got the biggest kick when she saw the bronze statue of Herman B. Wells - she kept stepping on his foot to check and be sure he wasn't real. When she felt comfortable, she sat beside him.

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