Thursday, September 22, 2005

This will make you smile.....

This is an observation from a friend of mine from high school. He pointed out that, among the top countries, it is generally accepted that the American school system is the easiest. In the United States, Utah is at the bottom of the list. In Utah, Wasatch High School is at the very bottom of that list. His point was that by the time we graduated from high school, we were the dumbest kids in the WORLD!! I might have believed that was true.....until I read this blog.

Read these, you will laugh....I promise. Be sure to read the comments...that is where the best one is.

Go Harbor!!!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Has it been a year? Really?

I can't believe it has almost been a year since we brought the little man home. Seeing these pictures makes me realize how much we have all changed this year! Yikes. These pictures are from our pumpkin patch trip last year. We live very close to a place called Half Moon Bay. It is the pumpkin growing capitol of the world. Yes, the world. It is a small strip of land between the ocean and a mountain. Apparently this makes for prime pumpkins growing conditions. They even have a huge festival. Pretty fun. What makes it cool is that you can be standing in a huge field of pumpkins and look up and the ocean is right in front of you. It is a strange combination of orange pumpkins, green ground, blue sky and grey ocean. The colors are very vibrant and I never manage to capture on film what it looks like in real life. In our family, pumpkins and the ocean are forever linked. We always go to the same pumpkin patch and take a picture w/ Lauren in the same place. The goal is to eventually show how she has grown. We have done this every year since she has been born. I have never lived anywhere long enough to do something like this. I imagine I will be dragging her to the same pumpkin patch when she is 16 and hates me. Tough luck for her.

It makes me realize what a different childhood my kids are having, compared to what I had. Don't get me wrong, I love the way I grew up. We moved a lot. I learned how to make new friends and to be ok out of my comfort zone. These are skills that serve me well now. I really can't relate to the kid that grew up knowing the same people since birth and lived in the same house. Here I am now teaching Sunbeams that I have known since birth. My daughter has always lived in the same town, J.J. too. We don't have any plans to leave any time soon. They will probably be those kids that I couldn't relate to growing up. Huh. Life is funny.

This year for Halloween Lauren wants to be Dora the Explorer. I am sad because I wanted to get just one more year out of her being something pretty, like a princess. She is growing up. Jacob is going to be Mr.T. We are shaving a mohawk and everything. It will grow back in 10 seconds. I will never understand how my son can grow his afro out faster then Lulu can grow ANY hair. We shave his head every month, Lauren has NEVER had a hair cut. Again, life is funny.

This post has no point, just babble. My husband has been in New York for a few days and I am missing adult conversation. My mother in law also went through a pretty major surgery today. She has breast cancer and has a long road ahead of her. Chemo starts next. It is scary and makes me thankful at the same time that we have things like doctors and hospitals and chemo so that cancer doesn't always need to be a death sentence. It seems that there are no people left that don't have some kind of brush with cancer, whether it is them or someone they know. It makes me wonder who out of my circle of friends will be the one who gets it. Will it be me? My sisters? I am glad we don't get to know.

On a funny (and also sad and slightly racist) note, today in Walmart I was asked for the third time if I got my baby from New Orleans. Seriously. Are people crazy? Don't they think that the government is going to take more then a few weeks to reunite children w/ parents or family before they start handing them out? Or, do they think I drove to Louisiana and picked up the first black child I saw sitting on a roof or overpass? Is it because he is black? People are crazy.

Crazier every day.

Friday, September 16, 2005

An ode to Disney

This is 3/4ths of the Bingham family, ready for a day at DISNEYLAND. We actually went last February, but it was a pretty awesome trip. I must admit that I was not a "Disney" person a few years ago. I never really get that excited about roller coasters and the best part of an amusement park for me was the cotton candy and churros.

When Lauren was 18 months old, I had recently stopped working full time. I loved working and I loved my job. I was already unsure about the whole "stay at home with the kids all day" thing and I didn't have much of a social support group in Palo Alto yet. I was ready to rip my skin off with frustration (those of you who have an 18 month old might know what I mean). It felt like someone had snuck in to my house in the middle of the night and stolen my sweet baby girl and left the spawn of Satan in her place. February was a dark, dark time for me. My sweet husband decided that we needed a break. He arranged for a baby sitter and he took me to Disneyland for the weekend.

I had SO MUCH FUN. I finally realized why it is the happiest place on earth. Maybe it was just because I got a break. It could have been the sugar high. No matter what it was, I had a ball and it was a huge catalyst for me in settling into my new role of stay at home mom. Ever since then I have been a Disney fan. Now, I don't wear jeans jackets embroidered w/ the characters on them or anything, but I am a believer in the magical power of Disney.

Lauren was just barely two years old when she went for the first time. Derek's whole family went to Disneyworld in Florida. Lauren had never seen a Disney movie. She was still very much into the Teletubbies and Barney. She didn't even know who Cinderella, Ariel or Belle were. It took exactly 2 minutes for her to be converted. By the end of the trip she knew all of them, and owned some wonderful princess memorabilia. It was the beginning of the end. She is 5 now, but we still have a home full of princess dishes, princess posters, princess dolls. etc. For a while there, if it had a princess on it, I bought it (she was my only child....what could I do?). We actually now own every single princess dress up dress --thanks to my mom who lives near the greatest thrift store on earth. In fact, a new Tinkerbell dress arrived today (Tink is the current obsession).

This last time we went, we went with two other families. My sister and her husband and 1 year old son, and one of my best friends, her husband and two children (one of whom is Lauren's best friend). These are both families that our family really, really loves to spend time with. That is probably why we had such a blast. With that many adults, there was always someone to sit out with the babies or take a little one to the bathroom. The adults got to take turns going off w/ out the kids and the kids all had someone to play with. Even though it rained every day, I think all three families came out of that thinking it was one of the best vacations ever. The mommies and little girls went to the Princess breakfast. The girls got to dress up as their favorite princess and meet ALL of them. I will never forget the looks on their faces. It was like meeting your idol, in person. They took pictures and got autographs. .... It was bliss.

A trip to Disney is not cheap, neither are the things like Princess breakfasts, etc. I have to say that every penny is worth it. None of the families had extra cash at the time and so going involved some sacrifice and budgeting. It isn't very often that the things we look forward to doing are EXACTLY like we dreamed they would be, or better. Having the chance to share this experience with my kids is worth it. It was magical. We even managed to avoid the trap that makes vacations not so much fun for mom; cooking and cleaning and micro managing in a different place. The most strenuous thing I had to do was buckle my seatbelt in the Peter Pan ride. Take it from me, a non Disney fan. Do it. Do it while your kids are little. Let your girls wear their Snow White or Cinderella out fit and your boys can be Buzz Lightyear. Go off season in October or February. If you want company, call us!! We are always up for a trip.

I have several friends who don't let their kids watch TV or refuse to buy princess stuff. They don't like the idea that each of these women needed a man to make the story become "happily ever after". I don't really care. Watching Lauren take her 4 month old brother and waltz him around the living room, complete with dips, was reward enough. Her favorite has always been Tinkerbell. If you were to ask her why, she will tell you it is because she is the only one who can fly. Just yesterday she asked me "Mom, WHY can't humans fly?" She jumps off tall things often, just to try to fly.

Why am I blabbering on about Disney? Derek and I made a rash and uncharacteristically bold decision. After all the garbage and emotional upheaval of the last year, we want to do something FUN as a family. We are going to Disneyland. It is like a milestone for the next phase in our life. Even though this last year has brought our family lots of debt and sadness we will move forward with optimism about the future and the future of our family. Jacob will turn one while we are there and we will be able to celebrate the fact that this incredibly happy and sweet little boy has blessed our lives during the past year too.

Is it in the budget? Not really. Is it absolutely necessary to go to Disneyland to do something fun as a family? Of course not. We don't care. We are going to immerse ourselves in expensive food, long lines and enjoy being in the happiest place on earth. Wanna come?

Monday, September 12, 2005

BabyGate 2005

Greetings everyone,

I am still not much in the mood to talk about the events of the last few weeks, but I am ready to join the land of the living. The short version of the story is that we found out she promised the baby to several families and was taking money from all of them. When she went into labor, she called us and told us to come to Chicago. We thought at that point she must have just been scamming the other families and was still planning on placing the baby with us. Otherwise, why would she have us come out, right? Well, I now know that we can't presume to understand what is going on in the mind of a crazy person. We spent 3 days with the baby. When it came time to sign the papers, she told the social worker that she never planned on signing and that we were helping her to be nice. We left the building and I haven't heard from/spoken to her since. We still don't understand why it was easier to have us come all the way out there, rather then just calling us to tell us she changed her mind. I also never imagined that she would be willing to give up her relationship w/ Jacob. I would assume that she had to know that by handling it like this she was giving up that privilege. Again, I don't understand how her mind works. A friend of ours who lives there and has been very helpful w/ the family keeps telling us that she says "she hasn't decided yet and might still place" with us. I think she just knows what my friend wants to hear and is trying to keep her on the hook as long as possible. Evil takes many forms.

The worst part of all of this is that we know she committed several crimes, FEDERAL CRIMES. We have tried to tell our story to the Attorney General's office, the States Attorney, the sheriff's department, the FBI. No one cares. They don't want to do anything about this. How is that possible? No wonder women do this, they don't have much fear of retribution. We will still keep trying, but it makes me crazy that the "victim's" get victimized. Again. I am thinking about taking the story to media outlets. It just makes no sense. If you know anyone who might be interested in this kind of story, let me know. I have the names of all the families and agencies involved, I have the dates of contracts signed, money exchanged. These stories might be a dime a dozen, but we have the added twist of having a sibling. Sometimes publicity can shame a state into action.

The good news is that it is over. The waiting and feeling crazy is over. We also have seen her true nature before Jacob is old enough to know what is going on. We had hoped to have an open relationship with her and have her and her boys as a resource for him as he got older and wondered about his African American heritage. Now we know that would be very unhealthy. We will still have AA role models for him, just not his bio family. That is a good thing. I also means we don't have to worry about calls asking for money for the next 18 years. Sigh.

Thank you to all who e mailed me or left kind messages. It really helped. Your kind words and prayers WERE able to penetrate the fog of sadness that I found myself in. I came to terms with the fact that we weren't getting the baby pretty quickly. It was the betrayal by someone we knew and who was supposed to love us and our son that got me. I am still having a hard time with that.

I grieve for that little boy who will have such a different life. I worry about her other kids, especially the oldest, that will not have contact with this brother again. I am sad that this whole episode has become part of Jacob's story and that someday he will have to know this. Life is all about choices and these are the consequences of her choices. She joined the church last month so she has learned all about that. Because of the choices she makes, she has a life full of chaos, drama and uncertainty. Even though she has been given numerous opportunities to go to school, save some money and pull herself out of the mess she has created of her life, she chooses to do otherwise. As a result, she will not have a stable place to live, enough food for her children and eventually it will all catch up with her. Whether it is by her going to jail, getting a disease or the loss of one of her children to a gang or prison, she will have consequences and none of them are nice. I don't even wish that on her. As much as I hate her right now, I wish that she would change her life and make all of this hurt and sadness worth something or at the very least make a better life for her other children and give them a fighting chance at life. I won't hold my breath.

I also know that my family has something that she will never have...a wonderful support network of friends and family that support us and love us. We have rich relationships and satisfying jobs. We have a home that is calm and full of love and peace and not drama and chaos (with the exception of the last year). We have hope for the future and know that good things lay in store for us. This is because of the choices we have made and continue to make. The sacrifices we have made for education, to serve others and to build our family will not go without positive repercussions. I am not fishing for compliments her or trying to be a Pollyanna. I just am saying that this experience has helped us understand this a little bit better. We are able to identify the happy consequences for the choices we made both individually and as a family.

I am an optimist. I know that the right baby is out there somewhere and we will get the family we were supposed to have. I know that if we continue to be prayerful and do our very best to do the right thing, we will be blessed and good things will come. It doesn't mean that there won't be a lot of "suckiness" along the way, but it will all be ok. Derek and I both agree that we wouldn't have done things differently. We did everything we could to help her change her life and we were honest and truthful in our actions with her. When my tiny baby is a grown up man and may be struggling with his situation, I know that Derek and I can tell him truthfully that we did everything we could to help his biological family. That is why we did it anyway, for him. It might now help him much, but it will put my heart at ease.

Thanks again to all of you who were supportive during this whole process. The entire 7 months was a struggle and I know that more then one of you got an earful. They say it takes a village to raise a child, apparently it takes a village to NOT raise a child too. :-)

The next post will be happier. It will be full of puppies and rainbows and butterflies. I promise!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The fat lady sings...

No baby. Ever.

The level of her deception goes so much deeper then we thought. I can't even begin to think about it right now. I think I am in the fuzzy detached phase of grief and will probably have a good long blog to write when I get in to the rage phase.

Words don't seem to be able to capture what I am feeling right now. I am going to hide for awhile and lick my wounds.