Halloween is in the air and my neighborhood takes Halloween very seriously! Skeletons, zombies,ghosts and witches but also crazy orange blow up pumpkins are everywhere. Cobwebs coat front porches and shrubs. Not to mention the tombstones that have sprouted up on almost every lawn. This has made walks with Bodhi more lively, especially now that its dark when we take our evening walk. Bodhi is not quite sure what to make of it all and has had several close encounters with skeletons and black cats, of the plastic kind. The first few tombstones he saw required an extra sniff, but now they’re a good stand in for a tree! One of the neighborhood teens down the street puts up a haunted house each year and collects donations to the local food bank from visitors. He starts working on it months before and its fun to see this crazy elaborate haunted house take shape in his driveway every year. The kids love it and its become a local tradition. And this being low-key Berkeley, the decorations will stay up for a good long while even after fright night passes. No one seems to care that the ghost hanging from the tree looks a bit droopy and out of place come Valentine’s Day. One of my neighbors lined their entrance path with skeleton head lights last year and when they were still up at Christmas, they gave each skeleton a green or red bow on top. Creative recycling at its best….only in Berkeley!
I had a super fun morning today hanging out at Little Farm in Tilden Park with Victoria, Luis, Eleanor and Sebastian. Berkeley has many special places but one of my favorite is Tilden Park. It’s a wonderful park with all sorts of great trails and activities, and only ten minutes from my house. One of my favorite Tilden places for spending time with kids is Little Farm. As the name says, Little Farm is a “little farm” and petting zoo for kids. They have sheep, goats, cows, geese, chickens, rabbits and some really portly pigs. “That’s a lot of bacon!” was a common (if not very creative) refrain from the adults. What I love about little farm is that the “farm hands” are all older kids (middle school age) who come spend their weekends at the farm introducing the little ones to how to brush, clean, and feed the animals. We came prepared with our bags of lettuce and celery and had a great time feeding and petting the animals. Eleanor was an old pro and did a great job of showing her little brother Sebastian that, despite the giant tongue, the mama cow was only interested in the celery and not his hand!
One of my favorite parts of coming back from a long trip is being welcomed home by this snuggle bunny. I missed the little guy while I was away!
Fall always makes me think of my Mom and daffodils. My Mom loved to garden. I got my love of gardening from her. She especially loved to plant bulbs in the fall, before winter set in and the world goes gray and into hibernation. It’s a way to look forward to spring. I love daffodils too, especially large sweeping plantings of them. They are not around for long, but they are the epitome of spring arriving. Sunny and mellow and totally unpretentious, they remind me in that way of my Mom as well. White Flower Farm is an amazing nursery/garden nirvana near where I grew up in Connecticut. They have oodles of bulbs, of all varieties–tulips, crocuses, and daffodils galore. A great thing about good daffodils is that they can self-propagate, so if you plant a few this year, you’ll have more next year and over the years, more and more. (As an aside, east coast daffodil blooms are way better at spreading than on the west coast—I guess you need that cold burst, Spring and daffodils are one of the few east coast things I miss living in California). When I lived in Boston, my Mom and I would go to White Flower Farm and get bulbs this time of year, and now, as a way to remember her, I make a point each fall of sending a bag of bulbs to a friend. I like the idea of sunny fields of daffodils in memory of Mom.
During one part of the process for writing and designing my adoption letter, the designer I was working with suggested exercises to stir the creative juices for writing the text for the letter. One was to make a list of the five things you hope to teach your child. I didn’t end up using this for the letter, but was inspired and came up with ten. To be honest, I’m still learning some of these myself—see #6!
So, here they are…
Ten things I hope to teach my child:
- Be curious. Ask questions. Explore the world around you.
- Be kind and loving with others.
- True friends are rare finds. Cherish them.
- Learn to look on the bright side, even when it’s hard to find.
- Work hard but have fun too.
- Embrace imperfection
- Respect yourself and others too.
- Be open-minded and don’t judge.
- Be brave—you can do anything.
- Above all, be true to yourself
Today I visited the di Rosa Collection in Napa for an “art hike” with Phil and Doug. It was a classically beautiful Napa day, and we hiked up a hill for amazing views of Napa and the Bay Area fog in the distance. I love art that is outdoors and if I ever strike it rich (!!), I’d want my own sculpture garden. For now, this might inspire me to do some work in the garden and maybe look for some funky garden art at my next flea market visit.
Bodhi put up with me working late a lot this week so as a Friday surprise—a new bag of his favorite squeaky balls! There was a time when Friday night was for going out but these days this is more my speed, hanging out on the couch with a glass of wine and my kooky pup.
The adoption agency I am working with (IAC/Independent Adoption Center) has monthly support groups. I braved the rush hour traffic tonight to go to this month’s meeting which was focused on the hospital visit. I am not feeling anywhere near the point of heading to the hospital to meet my baby and his birthmom (though, as they say, you never know when fate will intervene), but I decided to go to the meeting because I’ve been feeling a little down about being in this “waiting” limbo state and I thought it might help to connect with other families. It was a smaller more intimate meeting than others I have been to but really helpful. There were two families who brought their recently adopted newborns.Both were such cuties and about Otto’s age so of course I missed Otto. There were three other people prospective adoptive parents (a couple and a half of a couple), all of whom are, like me, in waiting limbo. Most have been waiting a lot longer than I have so I felt a bit bad to be feeling restless. Some had suffered through some really difficult situations on their adoption journey and their willingness to share even these most difficult stories and feelings was touching. For all of us throwing our lots into the open adoption lottery—adoptive and wanna-be parents and birthparents alike—this is such a giant leap of faith. There are so many unknowns and no guarantees. The whole process is for the sake of this baby and the fated “match”, but we are as much committing to each other, enjoining our lives (whether to lesser or greater degree), our families, our hopes and dreams for this child. I’ll be honest and say that at times, this all feels very weighty and I’ll admit as well that this was probably more than I expected to take on when I started this process. But at the same time, despite the complexities, the unknowns, the angst and yes, even the waiting, I feel fully committed to this path and confident that it will work out . The adoption counselor kept telling us “in the end, it will all be worth it.” I believe her, even if its hard to feel that now.
“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”
Today is my Dad’s birthday. He would have been 87 today. My Dad would have loved being an Opa. He was unfailingly proud of his kids, but I think always a little disappointed at not having grandkids. My Dad didn’t have an easy life but he also knew he had a very lucky life in many ways. He was born just before WWII and spent the first half of his life in Germany, during a difficult period of history, his family and home destroyed by war and the aftermath. He moved our family to the US when I was five, drawn by a better life in a country he has always admired, and started over again in his early forties. He always said his family, and especially we three kids, were the most important thing he ever did. My Dad believed strongly in social justice, fairness, helping others and lived by a strong moral compass. He instilled that same sense of right and wrong in his kids and I know I owe my own sense of fairness and justice to him. My persistence and stubborn streak I get from him as well. He was headstrong and believed strongly in what he believed in, even in the face of seeming to a little “out there” at times. He was a computer nerd before computer nerds were cool. He was not shy to write letters to the editor protesting whatever the latest world or local injustice might be and what teenage daughter in a small town wants that type of attention. He was not definitely not your typical Dad in many ways, but I couldn’t imagine a better father and I miss him very much. Happy birthday, Daddy. I love you very much!