Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Florida Burke Girls Meet the New York Burke Girls

We arrived in New York safe and sound. (Well, if you don't count being pulled over at the toll booth by the guy in the uniform... but that's another story!) Isabel finally met Lily and Grace (daughters of a fellow adoptive mom whose name is so close to mine, it's eerie) and Gabriela (who is from the same Chinese orphanage as Isabel.) The girls had an absolute blast. So glad we were able to get together. Thanks so much, Lorraine, for inviting us.

I am having a little trouble uploadin pictures. Stay tuned!

You Can Keep Them!

On the way to pick up Isabel from school on Friday I had to pull over on the side of the road. The weather was horrific...and then I saw my first live tornado. When I got to the school, all of the children were in the center room, away from windows. The weather radio was on and reports said that the fifth tornado had just touched down. Here is some video that was captured on our local news. And this, too!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

First Leg of Trip Complete

After a surprisingly easy ten hour trip, (I have been converted to XM radio) we are now relaxing in Virginia.

Twinkles seems to be having some difficulty adjusting to spending the night in a hotel (yeah...RIGHT!!!)

The second leg is a 6.5 hour trip to New York tomorrow. I am excited to be meeting up with a couple of gals who are fellow adoptive moms. The daughter of one of them came home the same time as Isabel; the daughter of the other is from the same orphanage. Isabel is clearly excited about meeting some new friends. The whole way up, she kept repeating, "I can't wait to see my China sisters. Are we there yet?"
[Mental note: Remeber that three-year-olds have NO concept of time or distance.]

Until tomorrow,
Thelma signing off!

Apples, Beans, Maple Syrup and Lobsters

Little Miss Twinkles and I are heading out for our first (really, really) long distance road trip. We'll be visiting family and friends in New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine. Stay tuned for what is sure to be an entertaining vacation!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Asian Designers Hit America

Introducing the New Summer Collection by Designers
Pan Teel Iner and Isabel Burke,
modeled by Tinker Belle.

[Hint: Click to enlarge for more detail.]

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Cool(er) Idea... At Least Visually

So, in light of the current furnace in which I am living [Insert Florida's upper 90s and lower 100s temperatures of late], I decided to change my dining room and living room to give it a cooler, more summery look. I saw the pillows on sale at Crate and Barrel and just loved the bright green color. I knew they'd go well with the pale green on the walls. I took up the area rugs, removed the drapes from the living room and rearranged some of the furniture. If nothing else, at least it feels cooler. What do you think?

[The only before pictures I had were from December.]

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dinner for Fifty...Oh, And Separate Checks, Please!

I am so grateful to live in a city where there is a wonderful FCC community. Not only do we have annual events like Chinese New Year, Dragon Boat Festival and Autumn Moon Festival, we also have monthly activities. While the moms like to get together for our book club we also have play dates and dinners where our girls can spend time with each other.

Tonight was our June FCC dinner and there was a great turn out. I was able to meet some new folks and the kids had fun playing with each other and making some crafts. When I walked out to the car, I was shocked to see that over three hours had passed. How thankful I am that Isabel will be able to grow up with these Sisters from China and have a support system in place as she travels through the journey to adulthood.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Please Go For Option One!

It's the Final Fashion Challenge Friday. Fridays at school during the summer are The triple Crown: Splash Day, Show and Tell and Treasure Chest. Top that off with swimming lessons after school and you have one happy little girl.

On Fridays, Isabel also chooses her own outfits for school. This morning she pulled out two outfits. The first was a cute yellow tank top (which matched perfectly with her yellow polka dot bathing suit) and a pink skirt. I bought cute little pink and yellow plaid sneakers yesterday and the whole ensemble matched.

And then... the second option: blue plaid shorts on top of the polka dot yellow bathing suit with an orange Halloween tee shirt and the pink plaid sneakers.

Hmm... which will it be???

Go for option One! Go for Option One!!!

..................... O well!

It's option Two.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

OMG, My Daughter is a Racist… Ooops, Never Mind

You know the drill by now. Morning commute, I’m barely coherent, Isabel is talking up a storm in the back seat and then…she hits me with a doozie. It’s been going on for almost two years. Most of the time, they are quite funny! When they occur, Poor Laurie usually gets a call from me via cell because a) she has a great sense of humor and loves my child and b) I know I won’t remember the details by the end of the day. Thanks, chica!

Most of the time, they are quite funny! I have two all-time favorites.
Last summer (29.5 months) the following took place:

While at a stop light on the way to school one morning, Isabel looked at the truck in the lane to our right and said, “Mom, that man has toys.” I glance over and notice there is a little dream-catcher hanging from the rear view mirror. “Yes, Isabel, that man has toys.” Isabel: "We don’t have toys.” Me: “No, Isabel, we don’t have toys.” There is a 2-3 second pause and then, “Mom, that man has a truck.” Me: “Yes, Isabel, that man has a truck.” Isabel: “We don’t have a truck.” Me: “No, Isabel. We don’t have a truck.” Isabel: “Mom?” Me: “Yes?” Isabel: ”We don’t have a man.”
[I laughed so hard the car behind us had to honk to let me know the light had changed to green.]

Then this past January, there was this:

After her three-year-old check up, we went to "Old McDonalds" for a treat. We get to the drive-thru, I pull up to the speaker and hear an angst-ridden, prepubescent, voice-cracking teenage boy ask for my order. (I didn't think twice about it, as I teach 9th graders and am used to it.) I give him the order and start to pull around the building when I hear from the back seat:
" Whoa! THAT wasn't a girl!... " [Insert 3-4 seconds pause and then...] "but SOO not a man!"
I was laughing so hard, I couldn't even press the button to open my car window.

Other times, Isabel’s will comment on things that bring tears. For all her energy and laughter, she is a pretty perceptive little girl whose ability to process things touches me deeply. The recent incident with the homeless woman was brought up again as we drove past the bench that was, this morning, empty. Isabel immediately wanted to know where the woman was. I suggested that maybe she found a house. Without hesitation and with total conviction, Isabel announced, “She did!” I pray she did.

It is with this background, I bring you to the commute yesterday. We are not even 6 blocks from my house when I hear a police siren. I look in the rearview mirror and see nothing. I continue to drive in the right lane. Suddenly I see the lights in the windshield of an unmarked police car. He accelerates, passes us on the left, and then pulls over the car next to us. All of this is happening as we are approaching an intersection…with a light that just turned red. We had a front seat to the show. I’m watching. Isabel is watching. And then, THIS:

Isabel- I don’t like black police.
Me- (Feeling a pit in my stomach and thinking WTF????) What did you just say?
Isabel- I don’t like black police.
Me- (Determined to find out where this is coming from) Why do you say THAT?
Isabel- I like the white police. I don’t like the black police.
Me- (Starting to hyper-ventilate) Did someone say that to you? At school?
Isabel- No.
Me- (Really starting freak out that racism has entered my daughter’s life at THREE!!!) The white police are good and the black police are good. They are both good. We like all police.
Isabel- (Starting to get irritated with me, evidenced by the not to subtle crossed-arms-over-the-chest body language) Well, I don’t!

At this point, the light turns green and I glance over at the police officer (who, by the way, was WHITE!) and realize that the CAR was black!

I, of course, started laughing (somewhat) hysterically in relief. Later in the day, though, it really caused me to reflect on the whole thing and process what happened. I think that it is important for me to do that. Because I KNOW that this is going to be part of our life together… her walking through the subtle and not-so-subtle racism that lies before her, and me trying my best to give her the tools to do. As a white woman, I’ll never experience what she will. As a member of the majority population, I walk through my life clueless to the judgments that others have passed upon them simply because of their color. I wish it wasn’t so. But it is the world we live in. It is the world that I pray will change with my daughter’s generation. Change to such a degree that this morning’s conversation would never even take place. When a preference of white over black is about a car… and not a person.
Something to think about. At least for me.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

First Swim Lesson

I wish I had my camera with me to videotape Isabel when I picked her up at school this afternoon. She was SOOO excited about her first swimming lesson that she ran from classroom to classroom, opening the doors and announcing it to all the teachers.

We were supposed to start yesterday but some kid got sick in the pool and...well, no need for details on THAT one! Needless to say, the class was postponed until today to give them some time to shock the pool with chemicals. When we got there, we saw our neighbors. Isabel and little Berto from across the street are in the same class. He is 6 months younger than Isabel and they are great friends. The lesson was quite fun but was unfortunately cut short due to the lightening of an approaching storm.

In retrospect, I guess I should have talked to Isabel in advance about lifeguards and their whistles. Isabel HATES loud noises. (She flipped out last year when we were on the beach watching the fireworks.) Well, we happened to be seated at the base of the lifeguard chair. Needless to say, Isabel was NOT happy when she blew the whistle to get everyone out of the pool. I have to admit, I even jumped at how loud it was. We'll be back at the pool tomorrow and every afternoon through next Thursday.

And to think... I have been living here for over five years and never knew that the pool was there! (I know where we will be spending a LOT of time this summer.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Water Day

Each Friday throughout the summer, Isabel's school has Water Day. The kids wear bathing suits, bring in beach towels and sunglasses and have a blast.

Though right on the river, there is no actual pool. Sooo, the kids have a blast running around in all sorts of sprinklers, filling up buckets and little plastic pools.

I cracked up when I saw all the little girls' towels lines up nice and neat. (It reminded me of trying to find a place in the sand for my towel as a teenager. The only thing missing was the obligatory smell of Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion.)

The boys' towels, on the other hand, were dropped all over the place in drippy wet piles. Hmmm... I seem to remember something like that from my former marriage.

The fun continued on into the evening with a pizza-pool party with an outdoor movie at our friend Melissa's house.

The girls all got together and played first...

and then after pizza, everyone headed for the pool.

Hot tub with friends.

Little Miss Twinkles just loves the water and starts swimming lessons on Monday.
As nightfall approached, the movie began. Watching Finding Nemo while floating in a pool on a blow-up dolphin... it doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

And I thought MY girl could talk!

I have seen this about ten times and STILL can't stop laughing!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Lower Level Drawing and Higher Level Thinking..... brought to you by the book Harold and the Purple Crayon

I walked into the kitchen this morning to see Isabel drawing on her white board easel. When she saw me she immediately hid her left arm behind her. I was, of course, intrigued. I asked her what she had in her hand, to which she replied, “Nothing.” When I asked her to show me, sure enough, there was nothing in her hand. All would have gone unnoticed had the bright flash of purple not caught my eye. You see… she did answer me truthfully; there was not anything IN her hand. Now, ON her hand…. Well that’s a different story.

Apparently inspired by temporary tattoos she got this past week, Isabel the Inker decided to try her hand (quite literally) at this new venue. I calmly sat down on THAT god forsaken white chair and explained to her (at eye level) that we don’t draw on ourselves. When I asked if she understood, she replied, “Yes, Mommy.” I left the kitchen and headed for a quick shower feeling pretty confident in myself. Fifteen minutes later, I walked back into the kitchen to find this:

Check out that face!!! Can you say REMORSE or WHAT???

That was this morning.

On the way home from the grocery store this evening, we passed by the same homeless woman (complete with her life’s belongings) sitting on the same bus stop bench she had been sitting on when we passed her this morning. Isabel (who notices EVERYTHING) asked why she was still there. I tried to explain to her as simply as I could…(is that even possible when talking about the whole issue of homelessness?) ... that the woman had no home to go to. It was the same conversation that we had this morning when we initially drove past her.

Tonight at dinner, we are eating, Isabel is chatting away and then she gets silent. I look up and she asks, “Is she lonely?”

I have no idea what she is talking about. When I ask her, she responds, “That lady.” It takes me a few minutes (and additional questions) to realize she is referring to the homeless woman. And then…this… “We could be her family, Mom.”

No words. Such a mixture of emotions. Tears of sadness for that woman and all that are like her, tears of gratitude that my daughter understands empathy, and tears of joy that this child is mine.

Quite the day.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

June Book Club

FCC Book Club. Another night of great laughter, good wine and wonderful friends.. with three (daringly courageous) newbies that joined us. The book was funny and wickedly poignant.