my little shutterbug — February 19, 2018

my little shutterbug

 

We started to let A use our camera with supervision just before Christmas last year. These are three of the first images she captured:

A shot of her feet and her father’s feet, as he explained how the camera works.

Our neighbor’s front yard candy canes, which she insisted on visiting every day.

And a trippy light display; I’m not sure where she took that one but I like it.

She had been playing with her wooden toy camera a lot, holding it up to her eye correctly, reciting “say cheese!” in a sing-song voice. I don’t know where she learned about “say cheese.” John and I take candid shots only, with our iphones or a digital camera, usually in natural light. We never pose her or prompt her to do anything.

The vast majority of the images of our daughter are only seen by John and me. The rest we share with family by photo sharing via the cloud or with friends through social media. A even has her own Facebook page, which started out as an adoption page when John and I were still waiting to adopt. The social workers urged us to create a website and blog or Facebook page, to let birthmothers learn more about us. But once we were chosen as adoptive parents and A was born, we realized the alarming number of photographs we were taking and knew we’d drive our friends crazy if we clogged up our personal Facebook feeds with baby photos. We turned the adoption page into a repository of pictures of A. The people who go wild for baby photos can still follow and get their fix. Everyone else can unfollow and reserve Facebook for what it was intended – political debates and cute animal videos.

I don’t ask A’s permission to take or share photos. Admitting that fact makes me uncomfortable. I am so respectful in almost every other way. I check if it’s okay before I pick her up or wipe her nose. But when it comes to photographs, I just snap away. My justifications are many; she doesn’t know what social media is. She could never understand the importance of  these images, how they capture moments I never want to forget, like how stunning she was – in so many ways – on any given day. She’ll never be 962 days old again. If I don’t commemorate it, the 962 day old girl will be gone forever.

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This really captures what it’s like to take photos of my 2 1/2 year old these days. — December 10, 2017
good hair — November 19, 2017

good hair

 

I like my baby heir, with baby hair and afros. I like my Negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils. – Beyoncé “Formation”

One of the first questions black women would ask me when I was out in public with A as a little baby was, “Do you know what to do with her hair?” They approached us in restaurants, on airplanes, even walking down the street, with a concerned expression. I’ve always been happy to get their advice.

Natural hair bloggers, Instagram tutorials, and YouTube videos have also been helpful as I try to figure it out.

11 Huge Healthy Afro Hacks (Type 4a/4b/4c) Natural Hair

Complete Toddler Regimen

I spend about twice as much money on A’s hair care products and tools than I do on my own. I started deep conditioning, finger-detangling, and experimenting with puffs and two strand twists when she was around 18 months old. Now I can do very simple braids, too. Here’s a recent effort.

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I’ve always been a makeup and hair product junkie. I find beauty supply stores intoxicating. Now I have another head of hair to take care of, one that couldn’t possibly be more different than mine. My hair is slightly wavy, very fine, and thinning. A’s curls are endless and defy gravity.

We spend an hour or two every Sunday putting it in a protective style, which needs refreshing a few times, but lasts about 5 or 6 days.

This is one of my earlier efforts. My parts were still a little wonky then and her head looked a bit like a grenade, but I don’t hate it.

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My goal is to get good enough at doing her hair that the styles last longer than a week. I want her scalp to be healthy and her hair to grow long and fabulous. It will let my daughter know that she’s worthy of lots of care, it will signal to other people that she’s well cared for, and wash day is mother-daughter time that I enjoy every week. I genuinely love every second of it.

Adoption Basics — November 11, 2017

Adoption Basics

I’m very excited about an upcoming workshop I’m presenting in the San Fernando Valley on December 10. As a marriage and family therapy intern and also an adoptive mother, this workshop will be an amalgamation of my two interests. It’s called “Adoption Basics” and will be for people who are considering adoption but feel overwhelmed by all the decisions or don’t know where to start. I will be answering the most frequently asked questions and presenting information about cost, wait times, fears and concerns, etc. Feel free to join us if you can!

adoption basics flyer

Louie Was Propaganda for Louis C.K.’s Decency. How Does It Look Now? — November 10, 2017
some decent advice from Morrissey — October 16, 2017

some decent advice from Morrissey

…about reducing news consumption. I understand all the arguments to the contrary: they say now is not the time to stop paying attention. Now is not the time to become complacent or (worse yet) hopeless. The people making those arguments make a lot of sense. The world does feel like a dystopian nightmare most of the time and I admire members of the resistance for staying informed and fighting back. But what’s right for one person isn’t necessarily right for everyone. And when I take a break from the news for a day or two – even for a week here and there – I feel much, much better.

Morrisse
photo credit: Jake Walters

Spent the Day in Bed by Morrissey

“I recommend that you stop watching the news / Because the news contrives to frighten you / To make you feel small and alone / To make you feel that your mind isn’t your own.”

The Guardian (back in 2013) made this case for giving up the news as well. In addition to all the ways news consumption doesn’t help our understanding of the world, it negatively affects our health, much like a steady diet of junk food.

News is toxic to your body. It constantly triggers the limbic system. Panicky stories spur the release of cascades of glucocorticoid (cortisol). This deregulates your immune system and inhibits the release of growth hormones. In other words, your body finds itself in a state of chronic stress. High glucocorticoid levels cause impaired digestion, lack of growth (cell, hair, bone), nervousness and susceptibility to infections. The other potential side-effects include fear, aggression, tunnel-vision and desensitisation.

For years, people have suggested that I go on a news fast but I said I couldn’t do it. Now, the current state of affairs nationally and globally is so dire, dark, and desperate that it’s time to try a new approach. My young daughter knows (on some level) when I’m fending off anxiety or despair after making the mistake of reading the day’s headlines. I want her to understand the world and be curious about what’s happening, but she’s still in diapers. I’m still trying to find the right balance between staying sane and staying informed. Chances are, I will go back to following the news and being politically involved again. But today, I’m a better mother, wife, daughter, and friend if I let all of it unfold without being under my vigilant watch.

It finally cooled off enough to leave the house today — September 6, 2017
I work here now! — June 21, 2017
quick update — January 22, 2017

quick update

It seems I haven’t updated this blog since June 8, 2015. Our daughter was born that day, although I didn’t realize it at the time. We were chosen by her birthmother as adoptive parents the next morning, and told to rush to the hospital to meet her.

I’m going to preserve our daughter’s privacy and instead of using her name, I’ll refer to her by her first initial, A.

Man oh man is this a terrific baby. A is feisty, talkative, and confident. Her default setting is happy and relaxed.

My husband and I waited a very long time for her. Most of our time as a couple had been marked with epic losses and disappointments, and now we’re ridiculously happy, almost all the time.

Three days a week, I hang out with A.  Three days a week, I train as a therapist intern, under supervision, seeing individuals and couples. I specialize in depth psychology and I co-facilitate a therapy group for waiting adoptive parents.

My Linked In profile

So that’s what I’ve been up to for the last 19 months. How about you?

School’s out forever  — June 8, 2015

School’s out forever 

When I earned my bachelor’s degree 412 years ago, a surprising number of people asked me if I planned to go to grad school. And I told them all the same thing:

“HELL NO. I never want to write another paper again!”

And then I must have forgotten, because I went to back to school in 2012 to earn my Masters in Psychology and wrote so very, very many papers. Today was my last class.

So let me state unequivocally to the Internet, everyone who knows me, and most of all myself. I really am done with writing papers. Seriously. That’s enough school.

My husband, the neighbors and I celebrated on the front porch with some champagne. Also, it’s worth noting I have literally had this song running on a continuous loop in my head for the last few days:

I especially enjoy the can-can at 2:22. I am the giant, blue monster with the orange boxing shorts.