How It’s Done Blog


Not a, Baby

Adopting a three-year-old is not very much like having a baby, except in the level of shock to the system. One does not, for example, have to nurse, or wake up every three hours, or carry the baby around for hours on end in the hope that it will somehow stop crying. But the wow factor–the shock and awe and the what have we done–that’s there, in spades. Tonight was a wall-punching night for me. I was congratulating myself on […]

News Flash: Not Everything is About Rory

Or having four kids instead of three (or two, or one, for that matter). At some point over the weekend I said to myself “Self, you have got to quit this blaming it all on Rory/having four kids business.” I had bad days before we had Rory. I had days when I felt like I would never get out of the house, that the dishes would never be done and the laundry would never be washed (Full disclosure: I have […]

Dear Kittymama and other new parents…

I’ve been thinking lately about one particular internet friend, known online as kittymama, and I’ve been thinking about her because the child she brings home will be her first. And I want her to know, in advance, one thing: You hate them sometimes no matter what. Babies, biological, adopted, I’m guessin’ any way you bring them into the family, they screw things up. And I mean that in the most loving, actually dealing pretty well way. When you have your […]

Poopyheads R Us

We have a playdate this afternoon, one of our favorite neighbors and a friend of all three. She, Lily and Wyatt are all playing an elaborate game of make-believe. Rory is not; she likes some quiet time after school to do things without, I suspect, teachers coming over to make sure she is doing them in the approved Montessori way (although she loves Montessori; she has a bell and she rings it constantly around the house, saying “Please sa-ye your […]

Swimmingly

The thing I like best about the swimming pool is that they can all touch. Not that this means I am off in my plastic adirondack chair licking a Jolly Rancher icepop (the biggest vice available at the pool, sadly–where is my mojito?). But I can sit on the side, in primo splashing territory for all the horrible little splashy children in their swimsuits, shoving the ones that don’t belong to me aside and saying jeez, kid, don’t get between […]

Being means WAY more than acting.

There’s been a shift again. Emotion is nothing if not seismic in this family, but this has been a nice, gradual drifting of continents. Rory likes to perform, but sometimes I have felt that she was putting on a father frantic show for us–a show of happiness, a show of belonging, as if her performing it would convince us all. Sometimes she’d be just sitting there, kind of expressionless, and I’d look at her, and I’d get this frantic grin—not […]

Just plain ordinary discipline

Rory ran off in town today, just shot merrily off down the sidewalk and around the corner. We were on a block with no crosswalks and a sort of little plaza, and she was going right back to where we’d been a few minutes ago, before we went to–you guessed it–the potty–so it wasn’t that bad, and I almost let it go. I wasn’t angry or even worried–even if she’d gone a little farther, we live in a small town […]

One Less Kid Than You Have

A wise parent once told me that the easiest number of kids to deal with was “one fewer than however many kids you have.” It’s not the smoothest statement, but it is so true–if you have three kids, going out with two is a piece of cake, and so on. My new addition, even less smooth, is that the easiest number of kids to deal with is one less than the number of kids you wish you didn’t have. Actually, […]

Amish Friendship Bread, Defrosted

On June 6, I completed the squishing and flipping and baking project that is Amish Friendship Bread–which I know for a fact is slowly conquering the country, and may be nothing more than a ploy to get us all to buy at least one package of vanilla pudding this year–baked my two loaves, and froze one. June 6 was just a few days after we got our travel dates. Rory was still pictures and an idea. We were thinking packing, […]

Love, that Thing That We Talk About

It’s been a long time since I visited the “do you love her yet” question. I’ve loved very few people on sight. Most of my friends turned out to be better after you got to know them some (which, in some cases, means I didn’t like them at all until later, when I did). I didn’t fall in love with Rob when we first met. In fact, it wasn’t until about 2 years later that I looked at him, strewn […]

Rory’s Other Mother

How weird must it be, to talk to your kid’s new mom about what she was like as a baby? Is it akin to giving your husband’s new wife a call to tell her what he likes in bed? Only Rory’s other mother knows, and she’s not telling. Because she is a kind person, and because, I suppose, we both know it would change nothing. The way it is is the way it is. She belonged with her first family […]

Powerpuff Girls

Powerpuff Girls Originally uploaded by kjda Bubbles and Blossom. Buttercup won’t play… Which, if you know anything at all about the Powerpuff Girls, is totally typical. You should have heard Lily–oops, Blossom–“but we need someone with beautiful black hair like Buttercup!” “No! I don’ wanna!” I think she would have done it if Lily hadn’t demanded that she dress up. She’d already spent ten reluctant minutes as a fairy. Rory likes to be comfy. I have been cleaning out closets, […]

Alone with the Needy

All night I’ve been thinking–who can I get to hang out with us tomorrow morning? No babysitting Thursday mornings, see, and I’m faced with three hours alone with the dynamic duo, waiting to pick up Lily. Alone, in the house, with Mr. Mario Cart and Miss I Want Scissors I Want Painting I Want Coloring. Actually, both of those activities are fine, as they are individual and require nothing from me except, you know, something about every ten minutes, or […]

Ouchie, Ouchie

Rory is mortally wounded several dozen times a day. Rarely do ten minutes go by before the refrain begins: OUCHIE! OUCHIE! I know, I know that this is more of exactly what I blogged about two days ago. I know this is Rory, who just wants as much of me as she can get, and a true wound is an excellent way to get my full attention. But oh, it is getting old. And hard on Wyatt, giver of all […]

Just a Good Day

Today’s activities included a chanterelle hunt, an activity that required a high tolerance for mud, bugs and failure, as we certainly didn’t find enough for dinner. The kids petered out early when one required the bathroom, but the dog and I soldiered on, finding…zilch. Our only stroke of luck came early, and each child was able to pick one mushroom. Dinner, though, was mushroom free–it just didn’t seem worth the bother, although in retrospect I could have served the one […]

I No Like You!

Rory told me she “no like you” for the first time today. It was totally ok, because at that moment, I didn’t like her much, either. She’d thrown a massive, all out temper tantrum at the swimming pool–the kind people date from–remember that time the naked kid screamed in the grass for 20 minutes? Oh, yeah, that was the day they had adult swim… Ah, adult swim. I mocked it at first–who wants to haul their kids out of the […]

Still Not There.

I’m still waiting for the day when life just feels normal. Last night I dreamed that one of our neighbors covered the slopes of their yard with snow somehow, and I walked down the road with Rory, Wy, Lily and Sam and we just happened to stumble across it. It would be Rory’s first time playing in the snow, and I wanted to see her reaction, but she’d wandered off, and somehow we were surrounded by hundreds of families, all […]

No Spoiled Youngest Here, I Guess

Wyatt’s my baby. My buddy, my beloved littlest one and the only one who looks like me. When I got to our sitter’s today I heard him sobbing through the window, and I rushed in–pausing to give Rory a hug on the way–calling what’s wrong, Wy? He didn’t want to come home, that’s what’s wrong. Now, I know Heather’s house is a haven of legos and turtles and popsicles (and it’s SUPPOSED to be, I love that they love it […]

This Rory I Like

She’s getting used to us. I have judged her harshly these past weeks, this girl. I have a personal problem, which is that I invariably believe that whatever is happening right now must and will continue to happen exactly like this, world without end, forever and ever, etc. This applies with kids–Lily will always be unreasonable about the blue plate, therefore I should go buy all blue plates and just end this issue now (so last month)–and in other ways–I […]

Who is this kid, and what did she do with Rory?

At dinner last night: This good, mommy! Thank you! To Wyatt, instead of a slap: You make me so MAD! (Wyatt: You make me so mad TOO!) This morning, 7 am, standing in our room fully dressed: I ready go school now! I get my shoes on! Tonight, awakened from an accidental post-dinner nap on the way home in the car (I tried to put her to bed, but it was just that much too early) and about to have […]

Hoo, Boy

Worst. Parent. Ever. That’s me. Flat out worst. Which is a pity, because the day had gone rather well. Kids playing together, birds singing, sun shining, whatnot. I went out–promising Rory I would come back–and i did, which she seemed to see as a good thing. Better yet, I went for a bike ride with a friend, and every hill just felt good, because it was just so great to be out on my own. And then… I miscalculated dinner. […]

Not the Worst, But Still Not There

An adoption bud is in China right now, three days from meeting her daughter, and she wrote a line about “that sweet little face that needs her mama to come pick her up” and my heart just broke. Rory has a sweet little face, and she could use a mama to come pick her up, too, and in all honesty I’m still not feeling it. I like her fine. She’s swell. She’s even very special, and she’s been through so […]

Warming up–to our babysitter!

We’re discovering a pattern, and it’s a good one. Once something happens once–she meets someone, we go somewhere, someone leaves the house and comes back–and nothing dramatic happens, then it’s ok. It’s worthy of interest, and possibly comment. One thing that’s important is that I notice what’s happening. Mama, come see. Come see Heather. Come see Eli’s daddy. Once I’ve seen—Yes, it’s Heather! Hi Heather! Big deal greeting…. Then we can all go on, somewhat hesitantly. Today is the third […]

School day, redux

School day, redux Originally uploaded by kjda I don’t wan’ go school! That pretty much sums up our morning. Our babysitter, fabulous in nearly every way, isn’t on the school night train yet (and it’s been a tough one for us to get on, too). Rory went to bed an hour plus later than she needs to. She had to be dragged out of bed. All the way to school she insisted–she did not want to go. Wyatt had some […]

Why Are You POKING Her?

I don’t understand. Not that Lily and Wyatt don’t touch one another, or bug one another occasionally–but Rory they feel compelled to constantly poke. If she is sitting on a barstool, one of them is touching her feet. If she is on the couch, one of them is on top of her, prodding her. If she is wandering around, someone is following her–touching her. They poke her in the car, they prod her in the stroller, they nudge her at […]

Be as the Powerful Current (I made that up.)

Three solid i-friends (Mommy, Lori and the mother of Awesome Cloud) are in China right now. Some bonding troubles, not all is going perfectly–but I find myself envying them, especially those last two, who sound, at least, uncomplicatedly happy. I think China really screwed us–and this has nothing to do with Rory at all. But the quarantine…that was so hard, and so scary, even though in retrospect I can see that we didn’t need to be frightened, and so long…you […]