Friday, March 30, 2012

How important is Cultural Identity?

Quinn's new baby doll, Qiao Qiao.

This is Quinn's new baby doll, named Qiao Qiao.  ( Quinn's nickname, sounds like Chow Chow)

My good friend, Sara, found this doll at a specialty toy store in Sioux Falls.  She was so excited that she called me from the store, squealing "I found a baby for Quinn!"   and we all did the Happy Dance.

We were excited because up until now, we had come up with nothing.  Squat.  Zippo.

Chinese Barbie?  Forget about it.  Just a brunette with a fancy Asian outfit.  Once her clothes are off, she just looks like Cindy Crawford.

Ebay or Internet sites that advertized Asian dolls weren't much better- they assume that if you put straight black hair on a doll, you can call it Asian.  How can they ignore those beautiful almond eyes??!  That is one feature on Quinn that I want her to be proud of and to be able to identify with, even if it's only on her doll.  It's one of my favorite features on her, and I wanted her to see it mirrored in her baby doll.
I was naive in thinking it would be easier to find a doll that Quinn could identify with.  I started my hunt while in China, sure that I would find plenty of dolls, but I was in for a surprise.  Everywhere we looked, we saw blonde Caucasian dolls lining the shelves, with the occassional African American doll, but NO ASIAN DOLLS!  At first, I thought that maybe we just weren't looking in the right stores, but the more stores we visited, the more we realized that it was the same everywhere.  When we asked our guide about our doll dilemma, she told us that she too, had a blonde doll when she was a child. 

Hmmmm. Don't Asian children want babies that look like them?  Don't Asian parents want to give their children dolls that look like them?  I just don't get it.  Then again, maybe with the One Child policy, there just isn't a market for toys that promote mothering.

How have Chinese parents missed the Barbie/Cabbage Patch/Bratz/Polly pocket/ blitz that have provided American parents with oodles of gift ideas and filled our children's toy boxes?  Mattel apparently hasn't been very aggressive in their Asian markets, I'm telling ya.

Anyway, back to Quinn :-)

What I do know from much of the reading I've done on adoptees is that it's important for a child's self esteem to be able to identify with their ethnic heritage using positive examples, role models, and exposure with toys that reflect their looks, skin tone and hair type.  I know I can't provide Chinese role models for her to hang out with, don't have access to a Chinese Schools and churches like they have on the East coast, and it will be a challenge (but do-able) to find other Chinese adoptees within driving distance so that she can have a friend that resembles her. 

I might not be able to provide her with an Asian sub-culture here in South Dakota, so I will have to do my best to provide her with the things that I can- family, mothering, lots of love, life in the country, siblings that already adore her, a community that embraces her, and maybe even a pony. :-)   These are the things that I CAN give her.  

And also, a little Asian babydoll that looks like her.

Thanks Sara :-)

Quinn's sharing her sippy cup with Qiao Qiao 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Happy Birthday Camille

Guess who finally hit double digits?

Miss Camille turned 10 on the 22nd.  So Dad and I took her out to her favorite place to eat-  "Camilles Cafe", of course.

Then we took her shopping for a few gifts.  She had already gotten the new basketball she wanted, but sometimes it's fun to go pick out a few treats, compliments of Mom and Dad.

And ended the day with take out Chinese for supper and Ice Cream Sundaes. (Grandma Lee had already brought her cupcakes the day before, along with all sorts of fun presents perfect for a 10 yr old.) 

And the next day, she had her friend Dietrich over for a whole afternoon of outside play and NO SCHOOL!  She said that was her favorite part of having her birthday :-)

Happy Birthday, Miss Camille!

Love Mom and Dad xxoo

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

March Updates~

If I tend to ramble during this quick update, blame it on the Dayquil-induced fog that I've been in since I was hit with the flu last Wednesday.  Since it's been quite awhile since I posted, because of our Lent inspired internet break, I'll just hit the highlights.

* Survived our Daniel Fast and we all learned alot about reading labels and carefully choosing our food. I think I even lost a pound or two. We ended it by celebrating with a Girl Scout Cookie binge-fest!  (I know- we're bad!)

*  We attended the South Dakota Special Olympics Basketball tournament in Yankton to watch Tanner play basketball.  He did a wonderful job, and as usual, watching these enthuisiastic athletes play was nothing less than inspiring!  I was very proud to watch Tanner feed the ball more than once to a player on the other team with Down Syndrome so that boy could make a basket.  Tanner is as compassionate as he is chatty! Afterwards, they were picked up in a stretch limo to attend a dance held for the athletes that night.

Armed with a Mountain Dew, ready for the night!
* Spent a week without internet or TV as our Lent "offering" and I was really proud of the girls!  They hardy complained at all, and we found so many other things to keep ourselves busy that we didn't miss the TV much.  What I DID miss was the sit down time- I ended up keeping busy many nights until 9:00, then I would wonder why I was so pooped!  Even if I'm not watching TV with the kids, if it's on at night, at least I sit down and do something, so I did miss my down time.
We were also painfully reminded of how much I rely on the computer anymore, from checking my bank balance to looking up a recipe- it has become the quickest information source, and it was missed for that purpose during the week.

* Foster care update- we will continue to have Little Man stay with us, as social workers begin working on reviewing homestudies submitted from relatives.  We would gladly keep him on a permanent basis, but we will do our best to be patient as his caseworker does her best to find him a forever home.  He is a very special little guy, with alot of wonderful qualities and a joy that hasn't yet been stifled by neglect or abuse, so we pray that he will be placed in a home that will encourage him to continue being the happy little guy that he is.  (And if that would happen to be here with us, we will consider it a blessing :-)

* Homeschool has been less "inspired" this spring and more "task" orented, with us plowing through the required readings and assignments with our eyes on the end, instead of meandering through this rich curriculum as we have done with others at a more enjoyable pace.  I think back fondly of the Greek meal and dress-up night we had, our Statue of Liberty costumes, Native American crafts made from nature, and have to hope that we will have time to fit in some fun activities yet this year before summer consumes us and our time.  We are currently studying India, and I'm hoping I can figure out how I can either locate some true Indian food, or how I can magically whip it up in my kitchen.

* 4H- our recent community service project was to go the Nursing Home and play Bingo with the residents.  They LOVED having the kid play with them, and the energy level was infectious!  We hope this will encourage our 4H kids to always think of ways to make other people's lives better.

*  Church update- we had a Family Fun Night with kids at our church.  We served pizza and had families bring their favorite games to play.  It ran from 6-8:30 and everyone seemed to have a great time.  I think this is one activity that we will want to do again.

House update- we've been working hard on the basement, trying to tape and texture it ourselves, with Loren and Bri doing most of the work so far.  The more walls that we do, the bigger the basement seems to be!  We are hoping to get done with it by this weekend so we can begin painting the rooms and maybe putting on trim and doors.  Handy men we are NOT, so we'll see how this goes :-)

With all this early spring weather, and the incredibly long list of projects that need to be done, I'm sure I will have less and less time to post family doings for awhile. 

But we can always post pictures of cuteness!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Here a chick, there a chick...

It's almost spring!!!  And to prove it, baby chicks showed up at our house.

Cheep Cheep.

A Day of Rest

The kids are often challenging us in regards to Sunday, the Day of Rest.  We don't rest.

Because we are busy working during the week, and evenings are often filled with kid events, our weekend work projects often carry over into Sunday.  And with moving the house and all the projects associated with that, this is more often the norm than the exception.

So this past Sunday, after going to church and teaching Sunday School, followed by feeding the brood and doing the farm chores (okay....I'm tired ALREADY!) we headed into the Community Center for a little Family Fun Time.

After a torrid 3 on 3 game, which ended in "a tie", we all headed home for little one's naps and some down time for us old folks.

So............I thought it was a day of rest? 

Maybe next weekend we will all take naps! :-)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Frugal Friday

Our recent Label Reading foray into the nutritional odyssey that is our food source at the grocery store led us to decide that we needed to go back to baking our own bread.

We found High Fructose Corn Syrup, preservatives, artificial colors, dough conditioners, guar gum, and alot of mono-this or thats in the supposedly "healthy breads" at our local store.  We know that most of those ingredients are added for extending shelf life and making the bread look good, but I'm not crazy about ingesting things that I don't need.

Today, we made the best bread with only 4 ingredients: flour, water, salt, and yeast.

Before we baked it.

And it was good.   So good that we wiped out the loaf during lunch and didn't leave any for Dad and Luke.....sorry guys!

It was kind of a small loaf, but I was experimenting with an Artisan recipe for hard crusted loaves, and this one is a keeper.

And since loaves of bread are running anywhere from $1.99 on sale to over $4.00 a loaf, this is SUPER frugal and easy on the food budget. 

Tastes good..... Costs less..... Win/Win.   I'm in :-)

P.S. The recipe is from the Jan 2009 issue from Mother Earth News.  I never throw that magazine away!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Fast

Well, the jury is still out as to the reason that Mom's been a bit, shall we say "crabby", this week.

Pop Quiz:  Is it...
A.  Being cooped up in the house with 4 kids who are somewhat stir crazy because of the weather?
B.  I haven't had a break from parenting for weeks because of Loren's long work hours?
C.  I'm going through sugar and caffeine withdrawal?
D.  I have a teenage son-( no explanation needed)
D.  All of the above.

Anyway, we all had to dig deep this week, which sound so ridiculous even as I'm typing it.  We weren't starving by any means, but we were amazed how dependent we were on the ability to eat whatever we have in the house whenever we want it.  Our bodies craved the sugar, salt, carbs, and caffeine that we have become accustomed to, and when we go without, it nags at you and takes on a whole new level of significance in your day.

(And the fact that there is practically NOTHING that goes into your cupboard that doesn't have one of the offending ingredients that are unhealthy for our bodies is reprehensible, and deserves it's own post.)

To put our little experiment into perspective, we watched a few videos on You Tube that displayed Children's homes in Uganda, a country that is on the edge of a famine.  The kids we viewed were given 3 meals A WEEK at this one "house", and the rest of the week they have to scavenge for food. That is true hardship.  What we were "going through" was child's play.  The nagging of a spoiled consumer that doesn't have to wait more than the time it takes to walk to the kitchen to be sated.

So the girls counted down the hours until Wed night because that was when we had agreed they would fast until,(literally, Bri was announcing the count down all day as if she was NASA)  and they rewarded themselves for their Bad Ingredient abstinence with a bowl of ice cream.

They were very proud of themselves, and it has made them SO AWARE of what they eat and what's IN what they eat.  It was gratifying for Loren and me that they stuck to it and to know that they took this Lenten mini-fast seriously.  I'm not sure that at their age, they would last the 40 days eating as plainly as we have been, but I'm hoping that we can work up to that maybe for next year's Lent Season. 

I'm thrilled also as to how much we all learned from this week- actually participating in this sugar fast educated them much  more effectively than anything I could've taught them during homeschool.
Along with this week's experiment, we watched the DVD "40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor" by Chris Seay, a pastor who encourages this type of fasting for the Lenten season.  He travels to various places in the world that are significant because of their poverty, and explains biblical teachings that encourage fasting to develop a stronger dependence on God.  The DVD was somewhat dry and completely over the heads of the girls, so we will be watching some documentaries on Netflix that focus on impoverished nations and how they cope with poverty. 

I'm hoping in some small way, this fast will make the global food crisis more relevant to my girls, and maybe someday they will have the opportunity to do something about it.

As for our current contribution, albeit done locally, we will be working the local Food Pantry tomorrow from 4:30-6:30, as we do once a month, and hope that our contributions of food and our time helps someone with their involuntary fast.