Monday, June 29, 2009

About that Quote in My Profile

Some families have a crest. Some have a motto. We have a family, um, shall we say, exhortation (see my profile at right). I think the seeds of it were planted four years ago, when we took our boys to Italy for a couple of weeks. We flew overnight from Houston to London, and instead of connecting directly to Florence, decided on a one-night stopover to see the English sights. 

The kids were brave travelers. But by the third morning of the trip, as we readied to leave the London hotel for the train station and then the airport, my three-year-old looked up at me with big eyes and asked: are we just going to keep going?

Well, sort of. We don't sit still too long around here, and at times I struggle with that. But when time to sign up for the next adventure comes around, I have a hard time saying no. Which leads to numerous marital discussions about the pros and cons of our lifestyle. But weird as it sounds, when we were watching a DVD and heard Ryan Adams exhorting one of his bandmates to play a song this way, we siezed upon the quote and it somehow crystalized something for us. Come what may, we prefer to keep trucking. Like Husker Du, you know? But sort of a bluegrass Husker Du. 

Photo by Flickrer Kurt Christensen.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Breakfast and backups in bed, 7:50 am.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Put Me (on an airplane) and show me a sign...and take it to the limit, one more time.

I did not want to post on this, because I fear people will think we are crazy, still taking the kids to China in spite of all the quarantining that's going on. Just one more tough decision among many, just one more thing to try not to worry about. 

But in the end we assessed the chance of quarantine to be small enough that bringing the whole family is a risk worth taking. So we're off next Thursday, with the boys and my parents along for the ride. Just six more days until we leave.

Photos taken by htownjenny in Marfa, included here because even just the thought of Marfa calms me down a little.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Once In A Lifetime

No, it's not a David Byrne reference. (But you like how I managed to work one in there in a sort of backhanded fashion?) Driving home from the lake last week, I happened to catch Science Friday on NPR, and they were discussing astronomical events of the summer. 

Turns out the longest total solar eclipse of the twenty-first century will be visible in China while we're there, and on my son's birthday too. In a possible fit of overdoing it, I've ordered eclipse glasses for our whole travel group, which includes two other families.

Photo by Flicker buissreddy.


I love that some of you have commented on my "Today, This Week, Someday" planner. It is never far from me now that we have had our China travel dates confirmed. And although my fair couz suggested the Someday section was empty, it actually has one entry: get a composting system for our new house. I'm thinking maybe of a worm palace. The kids would love it, no?

And although I haven't been writing them on the someday section of my notepad, I am thinking a lot pre-travel about long-term goals. I alluded recently to how profoundly I was caught off guard when I had my first child. I ended up getting somewhat derailed emotionally, socially, professionally, and spiritually. I don't expect that to happen this time for a number of reasons, but I do feel at risk in some ways like I haven't been since those days. 

So I'm planning and plotting some ways to stay on track. Maybe soon I will even write them down, either in the someday section, or here at the Axis.

I'm not sure about all that yet, as my plan for this blog is to delve into personal emotions only inasmuch as doing so can shed light on substantive issues surrounding international adoption and parenting. I guess you could make the case that anything goes since all human emotions are universal, otherwise there wouldn't be seventeen quatrillion blogs out there with at least a few readers. 

But I'm not yet totally convinced.

Photo by Flickrer Jess, Beemouse Labs, and representing the lovely plants we will grow with the worm compost. Or representing the flowering of my long-term hopes and dreams. Spared you the photos I could have uploaded, of the worms. Your're welcome.


The following was emailed to me yesterday by our adoption agency, and I have to confess, although I promised not to get my hopes up again until we actually leave Houston, my hopes are up pretty high right now. This schedule has us leaving two weeks from yesterday....

Hi Jenny, 

Your travel dates have been confirmed. Everything is in order and we will
proceed with billing on Monday. 

Here is the schedule we have confirmed:

Tentative group travel schedule: 
7/3 - Depart U.S.
7/4 - Arrive in Beijing 
7/5 - Gotcha Day!
7/5 - 7/17 - Finalize adoption paperwork, tour Beijing, bond with your child
7/17 - Fly to Guangzhou in the evening 
7/22 - AC appointment
7/23 - Family goes to AC to pick up passport with visa and take oath in the
7/24 - Earliest you can depart from China

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Adoption Paranoia

Timely post by Dawn Davenport this week on her frequently interesting Creating a Family blog, about adoption paranoia. After my public fretting about being "ready" for the adoption, Davenport offers a healthy corrective. She emphasizes that while of course adopted children will have special adoption-related needs and issues, many of the things adoptive parents fret about are the same as those biological parents are dealing with.

And with two boys born nineteen months apart, a novice parent I am not. So maybe a little confidence is in order?

Davenport's website and radio show, which I subscribe to as a podcast via Itunes, occasionally have great parenting wisdom that is appropriate for any parent. A recent favorite was an interview with the author of the book Beyond Time Out. You can listen online here.

Photo by htownjenny, after which she rejected poltergeist paranoia and discovered the seven-year-old creator of this work.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Spicewood, Texas, 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I was hanging out in my old stomping grounds yesterday. Where we lived before my first son was born, when I was writing freelance from home and/or whatever coffee shop struck my fancy on a given morning. When I was about to step off the edge of a cliff, and didn't know it. 

But back to yesterday: I was dropping my son (yes, the same baby that blew my mind in 2001) off at day camp, realized I'd forgotten the requisite snack,  and so decided to stroll down to the bagel shop on the corner to pick something up for him. My walk happened to take me past the Chinese consulate. 

(With 80+ foreign consulates, Houston ranks third in the nation--I read once that former Houston Mayor Roy Hofheinz, the driving force behind the construction of the Astrodome, was also a devoted internationalist and helped pave the way for their establishment here.)

It got me thinking about how unprepared I was for motherhood the first time (and yes, I know we're all unprepared, but I believe I was more so than most). Would the shock be the same this time? Are all the books and websites and blogs any inoculation against shock and/or disaster?

I'll let you know in a few weeks.

Photo by Flickrer Nick Douglas

Friday, June 5, 2009

We Have Travel Dates

July 3-24--but they're officially tentative. We were told not to buy our plane tickets until June 19. Mark says he won't start getting excited until then. Personally, that won't do it for me, since we've had plane tickets to China once before. I'll start to relax when we get on the airplane, and not a moment before.

Vignette From Austin

Texas French Bread, Thursday, 8:30 am.