Thursday, January 22, 2009

I love Chuck

Two facts you need to know for this story to be cute..........

1. My parents nicknamed me Chuck when I was an infant. Some family members still call me that.

2. Marin knows this kids song called "I Love Mud"

So this morning, Marin was sitting at the kitchen table enjoying the breakfast I just made her and I was nearby packing her lunch box. Suddenly she breaks into this song.....

Chuck, Chuck, I love Chuck
I'm absolutely positively wild about Chuck
He makes me good breakfast, then he packs my lunch box
Absolutely positively super duper Chuck!

Then she looked over at me and grinned and started giggling, then asked me if I liked it.

She is such a cool kid.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Today I took Marin out of school at about 11AM to come home and watch the inauguration with me on the TV and have lunch. Marin was very excited about this because she was the only student in her class doing so.

Marin was very attentive as all the dignitaries filed in and she named the ones she knew like George and Laura, Bill and Hillary, and Joe Biden. She was really excited when Obama's two daughters walked in with their Grammy.

When Obama was finally shown walking through Congress on the way to the podium Marin leaped out of her chair and exclaimed "It's him! It's Barak Obama. He so handsome. I love him. He has brown skin like me but he's not from Ethiopia. I want to marry him!"

Then we watched the whole event. Toward the end Marin said "Daddy, did you know they get to do a sleepover in the White House tonight?"

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Emmy Comaneci

We signed the kids up for gymnastics lessons two weeks ago. At the end of the first lesson, she as already doing a running tumble, and was promoted into the next highest class. After the second lesson, she was promoted again to the next class. Now she is with the Junior High kids.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

diversionary tactics

I took Emmy to the quick care for an ear infection.

In one of the exam rooms, a teenage girls was vomiting her guts out. I mean this loud reverberating, throw your entire alimantary canal on the floor type vomit. Emmy, being curious, wanted to see it. Of course I told her "no" and explained why.

Emmy relaxes, gets pre-occupied with something else, and then says "Daddy, what that sign say way over there? I can't see it." I scan the room and see this little sign way across the room, probably a no smoking sign or something, so I say that. "No, it not's that Daddy, no red cross" (geez, they learn about america fast!) So I step a little closer to the sign to see what it really says.

WHen I did that, Emmy made a beeline for the door to the room where the other patient was puking. I caught her just as she was about to turn the knob. She looked up at me with her 'gotcha grin' and said "Daddy I almost tricked you. I was really close."

One mother, watching all this asked "And how old is she?" "Just turned 4." "Dear God, you are going to have your hands full."

Man, don't I know it.

confidence crisis???

We were a little concerned about Marins' confidence level and we happened to mention that to a teacher.

In response, the teacher gave us a homework assignment to list all the reasons we love each other.

Marin wrote, about Emmy: funny, amazing, happy, smiley

Marin wrote, about herself: cute, gorgeous, smart, beautiful, gorgeous.

OK, so maybe our concerns were unfounded after all.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Some assembly required

Tonight I had an opportunity to watch Emmy eat her peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I make these sandwiches the same way I imagine most parents do.
- put the peanut butter on one entire side of one slice
- put the jelly on one entire side of another slice
- put the two coated sides facing each other
- cut in half so little hands can manage

Emmy takes the sandwich apart so she has four pieces of bread facing her coating side up. Then she puts the peanut butter pieces together to make a peanut butter sandwich and the jelly pieces together to make a jelly sandwich. She eats the PB first and the jelly second.

When she was done eating I asked her why she did that.

She said "because I like the jelly part best and I want to eat it for dessert."

When I asked her where she learned to do that she said "I teached myself."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Street smart

I took the kids to a birthday party of an Ethiopian family in our community. The father, who had never met my kids, still speaks Amharic. He was asking me a little about the kids and he asked me if he could speak Amharic to Marin because he wanted to see if she remembered. I told him OK.

So the guy starts talking to Marin and she just stares at him with a blank face. Totally unresponsive. Almost like a death mask. Finally the guy turns to me and says "I guess she forgot."

Later, in the car on the ride home. Marin started asking me questions about the man.

"Why did he ask me where I live?"
" Why did he ask me if my shoes were comfortable?"
" Why did he ask me if I like cake?"
" Why did he ask me to dance with the kids?"

and on and on and on.

Finally I said, "Marin, so you do understand everything he said?" Obviously yes.

"Then why did you pretend to not understand him?"

Marin said "Because I thought he was from Ababa Kakos (the director of the orphanage) and he came to take me back to Africa."

The poor kid. It never even entered my mind that she would read the situation like that!

Too fast

You know that game we used to play as kids when you're giving someone a high five.

High five! On the side! Down low! Too slow! (while pulling hand away so the other guy misses).

We were at a basketball game over the weekend and one of the Fathers started playing this game with Emmy. Emmy smacked his hand down low. So the Father did it again, and Emmy smacked him again. After five smacks in a row (and Emmy waiting patiently for a sixth opportunity), the father looks at me with a sheepish grin and says "Your kid is pretty quick".


I left Emmy in the car for a minute while I tool Marin into school this morning. When I returned to the car, Emmy was in the back seat just beaming - all proud of herself.

"Guess what I can do, Daddy?"


" I can burp and cough at the same time."


"Watch me"

And she proceeded to demonstrate.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Mother Africa

I recently found my journal from a 1982 trip to India. It reminded me of the predictions of a fortune teller I engaged in Connaught Circle, New Delhi.

He said "Your first wife will be a cute blond. She is nice, pleasant, has a good heart, and everybody in your family will love her. Alas, she will not be the Mother of your children. You will later fall in love with a woman of dark hair, and she will give you two children. Two daughters. "

I remember telling Colleen that story when we were dating. Kind of as a joke like "We can get married, but we'll probably divorce because this fortune teller told me I'll have children with a dark haired woman."

So I pondered the fortune tellers predictions, all of which have come true except that I am still married to Colleen. Then it occurred to me, the Mother of my two daughters is a dark haired woman, and I did indeed fall in love with an entire culture of women with dark hair, and could this be what the fortune teller intended when he told me his prediction?

It is a mixture of freaky and calming to think about a total stranger having predicted this arc of my life over 25 years ago.

The F word

Marin and Emmy were in the playroom and I was in the kitchen reading the newspaper. Over time I tune into what they are saying.

"You said the F word."
" No you said the F word."
" I'm telling Mama you said the F word."
" No I didn't, you said the F word first."

Hesitantly, I interrupt the conversation to ask "What is the F word?" hoping to God it is not the real F word.

Marin says "You know what it is Daddy." (Isn't that the perfect bait I might have bitten on if I were 20 years younger) "Yes, Marin. I know what it is, but I want you to tell me."

Finally, Emmy, unable to stand the tension yells out "It's fart Daddy. The F word is fart and Marin said it first."

And I breathe a sigh of relief.

If the glove fits............

I can't believe I forgot to post this Christmas story.

About a week before Christmas, I had a repairman come in to maintain the gas space heater in the cold living room (the room over the garage where we have our tree and host Christmas) so we can have heat for Christmas.

Fast forward to Christmas morning, Marin is rummaging around for gifts under the tree and suddenly cries "Come see this! Come see this!" as she proudly hoists a pair of old blue and yellow work gloves. "I found Santa's gloves! I can't believe it!" Then she stuck her nose deep inside one of the gloves, inhaled powerfully, and exclaims "Yup, it smells like Santa!"

We promised Marin we would mail the gloves back to the north pole so Santa can have them for next Christmas.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Speed Demons

I took Marin and Emmy skating for the first time. What a show. They gingerly stepped out on to the ice and hugged the siderail with a death grip. Taking baby steps, we completed our first lap around the rink in about 25 minutes.

By the end of the free skate, Emmy was standing by herself out in the middle of the rink doing turns. She fell a lot, but she always got right back up and skated more, and she got really upset with me when I tried to help her. The kid is fearless.

Marin was a lot more tentative. She began skating better and faster, but was never more than six inches from the rail, and always caught the rail before she fell.

The kids really enjoyed skating and I think we'll do more of it.


People who have been reading the blog know that our children are true orphans and they miss their Mother terribly. One of the ways Marin and I first bonded was when I told her that my Mother died. We told each other stories about our Mothers and then I took Marin to my Mothers' grave site. Marin calls this "Maries' place."

Colleen and I had been talking for some time about buying an engraved stone for Marin and Emmys' parents and placing it beside my Mothers' gravestone. Last month we finally did it. It is a beautiful roughcut stone that we imagine you might be used as a gravemarker in a poor country. It has a few hearts carved into it and is inscribed with:

Our Father Asefa Lema - 2005
Our Mother Ketemash Dube - 2004
Shebedino, Sidama, Ethiopia
Missed by Meron and Emnet

Before Christmas we took Marin and Emmy to the graveyard to show them the stone. Marin teared up, but she was beaming with happiness. She and Emmy asked us to read the stone to them several times. Then they hugged us and thanked us for giving them a place to visit with their Africa Mommy and Daddy.

Love for Daddy

The other day I had to scold Emmy. She ran to her room, jumped on her bed, and pouted.

After a few minutes I heard her cute little sing songy voice making up another song and I thought to myself "Wow. She really got over that one fast." As I got closer, I heard her singing.

I wish my Daddy wasn't my Daddy.
I wish my Daddy wasn't my Daddy.