Somewhat Related Links for an End-of-Winter-Day

Yesterday I pushed the apartment door open to see our living room flooded with warm, glowing sunshine. I glanced at my watch: 6 p.m.! Finally, the days are getting longer and the sun is feeling a little bit brighter.

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No filter here, folks!

Here’s a collection of links that are only mildly related–actually, I think all that they have in common is that I picked them:

Recommended by my cousin, an adoption book for children,: Hand Picked. If you’ve read this, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you’re looking for the inside scoop on why a family would choose to foster, The Heartbreak of Foster Care is the blog post for you.

Crazy Story!

This 4 year old is unbelievably creative and way more fashionable than I am!

Head bobs are a source of confusion to non-South Asians, and this video attempts to clarify.…get ready for some ridiculousness.

To be honest, I find my gut-reaction to her body size disturbing. When I saw this sample doll, I thought, “That doll looks fat”. While I only had a few Barbie’s as a child, clearly her shape is the norm in my head. Why are Barbie’s body proportions normal to me?

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But really, why are we ok with this?

One of the things I’m looking forward to after graduating is having more brain-space to read. This blog and list has inspired me to read through the world!

This list about South Asian weddings made me giggle. In my limited experience, some of these ring true! What do you think?

Fudgy, peanut butter, chocolate-chip brownies. ‘Nuff said.

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Playing with baby K at a friend’s baby shower

Happy Friday, friends!

Categories: adoption, dessert, family | Leave a comment

Houseplants Save Winter

I once killed an aloe plant. I know: the fact that a cactus experienced failure to thrive under my care does not reflect well on my gardening abilities. Keep in mind I was about 14 years old, and my concerns tended to be focused on grasping algebra, finding a date to the formal and attempting to look good with braces (impossible). Suffice to say, houseplants dropped off my radar for a good 10 years (with the exception of one plant in university which my housemate dubbed “Varun”. Because I loved it so.much. and it survived.)

Upon moving to Ontario, I experienced the 7 month plague which is Winter and decided I needed something to break up the grey. Over the past 3 years, I have fallen in love with houseplants. Every time we go out of town our friends have 14 houseplants to water! My newest addition is a Yucca plant, which, like the aloe, is also experiencing failure to thrive. (Apparently I’m not good at desert plants)

But before we talk about that, would you look at my amaryllis?! A dear friend gave me a box at Christmas that contained soil, a bulb and a pot, sold together as part of the Amaryllis campaign to raise money to find a cure for Huntingdon’s disease. A very dear friend of ours has Huntingdon’s and every time I see my plant I’m reminded to pray for him and others with the disease. It’s such a beautiful reminder!

When I first planted the amaryllis, it was an ugly looking bulb that Varun was sure would never grow. However, after 4 weeks of sitting in the pot, it sprang into action. I tried to take pictures every day, but sometimes forgot. I never missed more than 2 days–it just grows very fast! Okay that’s a lie, I went to a work conference right when it bloomed, so the bottom row is one week after the row above it.

Et voila!

amaryllis Collage

Is this not the best houseplant/miraculous bundle of joy ever? Yesterday, Varun and I were standing by it marveling.

Me: I still don’t get it. Where did it come from?? All I put in was dirt and water and sunlight. How did it make flower petals?!

Varun: (Something scientific which I forget. It had to do with matter)

Me: Yeah but there’s no matter missing. I mean, the soil’s still there. Oh…right. Sunlight.

Varun: Sunlight isn’t matter.

Me: Yes! E=mc^2. Energy equals matter times the speed of light squared.

Varun: And what’s going the speed of light?

Me: Light!

Varun: (Shakes head)

Anyway, I’m still baffled as to how a seed can turn into a plant with just soil, water, light and air. I know. It sounds elementary; but plant a seed and tell me if you’re not amazed.

So the Yucca plant. It’s not doing well. Maybe because I bought it for $10 at a grocery store or because I brought it home in a snow storm. Or maybe I really can’t manage desert plants.

yucca 1

Maybe it’s not even a Yucca plant. That’d be awkward. Anyway, any insight would be greatly appreciated; I really want to learn how to care for a plant described as “no care”. I did some googling, but still can’t figure out. Is it overwatered? Underwatered? Under-lighted? Help!!!

Categories: Housekeeping, science, winter | 5 Comments

Busting the Valentine’s Day Myth

I once dated someone who, in my opinion, didn’t observe Valentine’s Day to my satisfaction. Being my direct and tactless self, I expressed this displeasure to him. If you ever want to throw water on the embers of a dying relationship, initiate a transatlantic correspondence by snail mail pointing out a 20 year old male’s lack of romantic initiative.

To my immature self, my anger was justified. Valentine’s Day, as any Hallmark card can tell you, is a day for lavish romantic gestures. Doesn’t every chick flick make this clear? Sure, in elementary school we gave Valentine’s to everyone, but we all knew it was just practice for the Big Leagues: monogamous love. Valentine’s Day, I knew even as a third grader, was about having One Valentine. This Valentine would shower me with roses, chocolate, well-articulated love letters and a surprise outing between Feburary 13th and 15th. As a young girl and later as a young woman, this formula seemed very simple.

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Photo credit: Beth Fisher

In the days before Valentine’s Day, I hear laments from friends both single and in relationships. Joke and not-so-jokes are made about lack of dates, buying themselves chocolate and boycotting red. The angst around Valentine’s Day is quite sad.

I think it’s time we all just be honest with one another: Valentine’s Day is a bit of a farce. For the most part, those of us who are dating/engaged/married are not observing Valentine’s Day with quite the oopmh single people might imagine (or that we might imply to one another on social media).

Of course there are the exceptionally romantic men who represent .02% of the population who booked hotels and restaurants months ago, who carefully noted the colour/size/style of That Thing their wife/partner wants and have it neatly wrapped and ready for February 14th. There are also the couples who have discussed their expectations and decided who’s planning what, who’s buying what and making a nice date out of the day.

But guess what: a large majority of People In Monogamous Relationships find Valentine’s Day just as baffling as People Not in Romantic Relationships do.

I can’t tell you how many wives I’ve talked to who have sheepishly told me the same thing: their fiancé/partner/husband doesn’t really “do” Valentine’s Day. He may be the forgetting variety, the procrastinating variety, the boycotting variety or the I-love-you-everyday variety. But for whatever reason, the majority of couples I know are not clinking their glasses over $50 meals and staring into one another’s eyes on Valentine’s Day.

Here’s the crazy part though: we all think everyone else is! Single people think In Relationship People are set: they have Valentine’s for life. And In Relationship People think other In Relationship People are out having a way better time than they are. AND Veteran In Relationship People think Single People are living the dream–carefree and having romantic dates with mysterious strangers.

Hold the phone.

I’ve mentioned before that some holidays, namely New Year’s Eve, can make you feel like everyone else is out having a better time than you. Turns out, social media in general has this effect on us. Sociologists call it “friendly world syndrome“. The point is, before we grab a bag of chocolates and have a pity party or seethe against our partners for not planning a more romantic evening, let’s all take a deep breath.

Yes, my sister cut her potatoes into hearts.

Yes, my sister cut her potatoes into hearts.

For Varun and I, Valentine’s Day has fallen by the wayside. Not because we’re not still in love, not because we don’t value couple time or romantic gestures. Simply because February 14th has no significance for us a couple. We don’t feel the need to plan a date because it’s a certain day of the year. We may have other plans or papers to write or have just gone on a fabulous date the week before. Love, it turns out, is a million moments throughout the year.

Friends, let’s all give ourselves a little grace this year. In Relationship Friends: Instead of wishing our spouses/partners/special friends into being romantic in the sense that our culture dictates, let’s appreciate the myriad ways they do show affection and love. Instead of waiting all day for that text/flowers/surprise, let’s show love to everyone we meet and make plans and have fun and forget about what we think Our More Romantic Friends are doing. Non-Coupled Friends: Instead of buying the lies media dishes out, know that you are deeply loved and appreciated.

Last week, a friend sent an email to the ladies at our church asking who wants to hang out on February 14th. Ever the social psychologist, I was curious who would respond to a ladies night on Valentine’s Day. I was pleasantly surprised as replies flooded in from women from all walks of life—older, younger, married, single, kids, no kids. No one seemed to mind that it’s the sacrosanct Day of Love. Someone wanted to hang out and a bunch of people said, Sure!

So, what are you up to Friday? 

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Photo Credit: John Rafferty

P.S. It was awesome to see so much enthusiasm after my last post. If you’re new here, stick around! Besides ranting about my opinions on adoption and romantic holidays, I post cultural observations, share Varun’s hilarious comments and basically write whatever I feel like.

Categories: celebrations, customs, love | 6 Comments

Our Own

Too many times Varun and I have been asked, “Oh, are you going to have your own kids too?” Or some variation of this question.

To be fair, I get it. Not every family has read books and blogs and forums about adoption. Not everyone has thought through the nuances of words like “birth Mom”, “biological kids” or “your own”. So in one sense, that’s why I’m writing. So we can think about and change our vocabulary to words with more grace-filled implications.

But on a deeper level, I believe that all of us have some idea of what we mean when we refer to some kids as “(y)our own”. That in some small way, we want to delineate. And that is what compelled me to write this post.

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Photo credit: Shelly Spithoff Photography

What does it mean for our child to be “our own”? It means that they belong to the Rana family. It means that we promise to love and protect and nurture them. It means that they are our responsibility, and our joy. It means we will sign their permission slips, walk them down the aisle, co-sign their first bank account and fight for them.

By persisting in differentiating between adopted and biological children, by delineating between which ones are “our own”, we are subtly sending the message that children who join our family via adoption are less our children.

On every level, this is not the case.

Legally, once the adoption is complete, every adoptive family is just as much family as any other family. The parents have the same legal rights and status, the children have the same legal rights and status. Not very lovey-dovey, but true.

Financially and physically, all of our children are our responsibility. We have the privilege to feed, care for and protect every child who becomes a part of our family.

Emotionally, we will commit to love and support every child who joins our family. Whether they enter our arms wrapped in a fuzzy blanket in a hospital room or donning second hand clothes in an orphanage waiting room, they will be ours. To love and to cherish for life. We are from that moment the kissers of boo-boo’s, confidantes in times of trouble and, if we do our job right, the givers of roots and wings.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly for our family, our children belong to us in a spiritual way. We believe that God has adopted us into His family, and that we are His own. As such, we have prayed for years for the hearts and futures of whatever children God gives us. We intend to pray with and for them, to teach them the truths we hold dear and to commit their ways to God. We want to hold their tiny hands and walk along the path God has laid for our family.

Photo credit: Shelly Spithoff Photography

Photo credit: Shelly Spithoff Photography

I realize that welcoming children into a family via adoption is very different than having children biologically. It is not the same for the parents, nor for the children. I want to talk about and learn together about these differences. However, let’s not confuse the way the child entered a family with their identity in that family. Both adoption and biology bring children, but it’s love that makes them family.

What does it mean to have children of our own? I picture dimples and giggles, tantrums and sticky fingers. I imagine helping with homework and laboring together over hobbies. I envision chats about dreams and waiting up for a return from a first date. I dream of proudly waving goodbye to our young adult, over-joyed at their confidence and ready to support them should they stumble. I desire a mature friendship with our adult children, smiling and reminiscing as history marches on in their lives.

Our own. It means that our children will call us Mom and Papa. It means they will snuggle with us during bedtime stories. It means we will hold them in their brokenness, and rejoice with them in their triumphs. It means they will trust us, and fight with us. It means that we will love them and pray for them and forgive them, even when they’re raging and in turmoil.

So, you ask me, are we planning on having our own? Absolutely. Will they have chai-coloured skin and have a frizzy Amelia-and-Varun-hair? I have no idea. But I do know that all of our children will be cherished with a fierce and deep love. And they will all be our own.

Photo credit: Shelly Spithoff Photography

Photo credit: Shelly Spithoff Photography

Categories: adoption, family, kids, love | 19 Comments

From Concussion With Love: I Built A Fort

This is the corner of the ceiling near our bed. I spent a lot of time staring at walls, making this an apt banner for my mini-series of reflections from my 4+ months of concussion-recovery.

This is the corner of the ceiling near our bed. I spent a lot of time staring at walls, making this an apt banner for my mini-series of reflections from my 4+ months of concussion-recovery.

Remember when you were little, and you’d gather a bunch of blankets and sheets and make a fort? (It’s okay if you don’t, Varun had no idea what I was talking about either.) At any rate, it was great fun. So One Day, I was laying at home bored. Actually, that was everyday. In fact my usual day for three months went something like this:

9 am Wake up (as late as possible)

9:15 Eat breakfast, get dressed

9:45 Have a cup of tea

10:15 Do physio exercises

10:45 Lay down on the bed or couch

12 Have lunch

12:30 Nap

2:30 Sit on the couch

4:30 Go for a walk

5 Have a cup of tea

6 Eat supper, chat quietly with Varun

7 Have a cup of tea on the couch

7:45 Take a bath or lay on the bed or couch

9 Get ready for bed. Sleep.

So when I said I did nothing, I really, truly meant it.

Back to that one day that I had a bright idea. Tired of staring at my walls, I decided to build a fort.

My fort had two levels: the "terrace" (i.e. the floor)

My fort had two levels: the “terrace” (i.e. the floor)

The Second level was the balcony (i.e. the futon with a bunch of pillows on it)

The second level was the “balcony” (i.e. the futon unfolded with a bunch of pillows on it)

I know what you’re wondering: how did you construct such an architectural wonder with a headache? Ingenuity, people.

Bucky ball magnets held up my sheet. Engineering at its finest.

Bucky ball magnets held up my sheet. Engineering at its finest.

Armed with pillows, earplugs and a lavender-filled pillow, I camped out in my fort, the hours of staring and resting somehow transformed. In the midst of an endless blur of sitting and sipping tea, I found a way to lighten the monotony. Incidentally, this was also the day I termed my season of solitude “Concussia”. That’s about 4 months of creativity jammed into one day. Be impressed, friends.

My "eye patch" (as Varun called it) was never far from reach. Thanks, Elephant Candle Holder.

In Concussia, everyone works hard (ha!). My “eye patch” (as Varun called it) was never far from reach. Thanks, Elephant Candle Holder.

Have you ever built a fort? Got any tips?

Categories: Engineering, sleep | 2 Comments