First Day of School: Stepping Away

September 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Family, Single Parents, Wendy Rhein

By Wendy Rhein

I’m not sure what happened, or really, when it happened. In June I had two little boys -7 and 2 -and now, I have one little boy and one Big Boy. It all started innocently enough. He wanted to make his own breakfast. He wanted to help me chop vegetables for dinner with the serious chef’s knife. And then it grew. He asked for his own music in the car instead of the ‘kid’ music his brother likes to sing; his own MP3 player would be the best option for everyone, he claimed. And then he asked to pick out his own school clothes since I may not get what he wanted. Including a sports coat because that’s what older boys wear if they need to be dressed up. He wanted to run into the drug store by himself to get a gallon of milk. He stopped wearing a shirt to bed.

All of this was fine with me – cute even. Until last week.

School started last week for us and we were all atwitter for the first day of second grade. I drove Nate to school because we had missed the orientation day and didn’t have a classroom number. He insisted that I needed to walk him all the way to class to be sure he was settled. My baby, my eldest, still needed me.

As we walked up the sidewalk teeming with happy parents and shiny-backpacked little ones, Nate suddenly stopped walking, turned and grabbed me around the waist, enveloping me in a tight hug that seemed to surprise us both. It brought an immediate and intimate smile to my face, thinking he needed the reassurance and the closeness that a hug from Mama can bring.

And then he let go.

I walked him into the melee of the entry hall of school with the vice principal loudly and unsuccessfully encouraging parents to drop off their little ones and let them make their own way to classes on the first day. I tried to hold Nate’s hand in the crowd so we could make our way through the now familiar halls. He wouldn’t hold mine. I resigned myself to putting a hand on his shoulder as we nudged our way passed crying mothers looking at the backs of their new kindergarteners for the first time. Out of the crowd, Nate walked in front of me, not next to me, pointing out the music room, the art room, stopping to say a fast hi to friends as they drifted off into different rooms. First day anxiety running high – will he have friends in this new class? Would he (we) like the teacher? Did she (me) pack a snack for the bus?

And finally we land in his classroom at the end of a long hallway. He walked in, one of a handful of kids in the room, and walked right up to the teacher and stuck out his hand. I swelled with pride. That’s my boy! Shaking his teacher’s hand and introducing himself! She welcomed him and told him he could find his desk and put his supplies away. And he was gone. Not a look, not a lean, not a glance back at me. He put his things away, said hi to a couple of kids, put his new pencil box and Star Wars composition book away, and started to work on the welcome form on his desk. I stood there, feeling like the awkward one, waiting for him to run over, give me a hug and ask if I’ll be at the bus stop that afternoon (a request he makes daily that I daily have to refuse) but he never did. After a couple of painful minutes, I walked over and leaned down and quietly said “Ok honey, I’m going to go now. Have a great day.” He would hug me now, I thought. He always hugs me when I take him to school.

“Bye Mom. See ya later.”

That’s it. That’s all I got. I’m not even sure he made eye contact. I walked out of the room with stinging eyes, feeling both proud and sad. My baby was gone. This big kid, who didn’t want to be seen hugging his mother, had surpassed the bear-clutching, sweet-faced boy who had so care-freely leaned into me with the full confidence that I’d be there to hold him up, because I always was. I knew this day was coming and once I could get beyond my own loss I cheered him for his independence and self confidence. He is growing up the way I wanted him to, the way I had worked so hard for him to, despite my own doubts of raising boys on my own. We really are doing fine, more than fine, we’re doing well. But time marches on. It is time for us both to let go a little more. Another inch here, another step away there.

At bedtime he was once again on my lap, telling me all about his day, snuggling his bristly-haired head under my chin, arms wrapped around my shoulders. I told him how proud I was of him for striding into second grade and he said he was a little scared because he didn’t know the kids in his class. We agreed to develop a secret handshake to say goodbye at school that will translate into I Love You, but just to us. I’d tell you about it but it is our secret, my big boy and me.


Knocking Through the Door

May 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Family, Single Parents, Wendy Rhein

By: Wendy Rhein

My 7-year-old is more mature than I am. Maybe it is because he hasn’t been hurt or jaded or twisted as I have become in my 43 years. Maybe he is just a better person than I.

I have long suspected that he is an old soul who has more kindness and generosity of spirit than most children his age and certainly more than many adults I know. His intensity and sensitivity continue to amaze me.

The latest evidence of this was found in his announcement that he wants to write a letter to his father.

Following on my comments last week about keeping the door open to their relationship, I think he’s decided to give that door a hearty knock.

They have not seen each other since Nate was a toddler. Nate understands and accepts that his father lives in another state and is not part of our family but the questions have been coming more frequently lately about who this man is, what is he like, and would he like me. The last one is a gut twister.

He says he’s been thinking about it and the first line of the letter will be “hi dad, this is Nathan. I’m seven years old now.” He wants to tell him about his school, his friends, and what he wants to be when he grows up. He wants to tell him about how he loves to build things and how he is training to be a ninja. He wants to say that he hopes his dad will write him back so they can be pen pals and maybe someday they could meet.

I support the letter and yet had to warn him that his dad may not respond, and that if that happens it will be ok to be sad. He rolled his eyes and said he knew that, he just wants to try it and see what happens because even if he doesn’t write back, his dad would probably read the letter and know more about him. (See, this is the wisdom I’m talking about – he can’t control the response, only what he puts out there, and that’s ok.) When I wondered aloud why he was choosing to do this now, he said that he’s seven now and he knows a hundred people, but not his own dad.

Good point.

My immediate reaction was to panic. He’ll be disappointed. He’ll be hurt. He will take it personally when his father ignores the letter. He will be crushed, then resentful, then angry. He will decide that men abandon people who love them and are not trustworthy. (And let’s all say it together: PROJECTION!) But maybe I will be pleasantly surprised. Maybe Nate’s optimism can override my pessimism. I can hope for the better response instead of planning for the worst. Being pen pals with his dad will fill the need he so rightly has for a close connection with a man who should be not just his father but his dad.

I have always said that the door is open for them to connect. I have purposefully kept in limited contact with his biological father and have long encouraged a connection between them but the adult in their relationship has chosen otherwise. I cajoled, I yelled, I threatened, I disappeared, I cried, I flippantly dismissed. I always said that some day, Some Day, he was going to open the door to see this tall, lanky young man with beautiful brown eyes standing on the other side of the screen demanding to know where the hell he has been his whole life. And he would have to answer for his absence. I never thought that would happen this quickly. Or with this kind of love and compassion of a young child, just wanting to know if his dad liked to build stuff out of Legos too.

One of my greatest fears is that as Nate gets older he will choose this man over me as the person he loves more than his cherished poster of all the US presidents. I could close the door, I know. I could destroy his image of this man who would be his dad with my own tainted memories. But I need to be the parent and make decisions that I believe are in his best interest, even if it means that one or both of us gets hurt, again, along the way. He deserves that from his parent.


The Opening Door

By: Wendy Rhein

This passed weekend we celebrated Nate’s birthday with three of his buddies. In typical Nate fashion he wanted an event unlike any other. That dream was translated into an afternoon picnic and romp at an old battlefield fort, now a national landmark. Each of the four seven-year-old boys had his own compass, his own canteen, and a bandana to tie over his head as they explored and played spy games around Civil War era cannons.

As we trekked to our picnic site from the car, each kid carrying something we needed, one of the boys asked Nathan about his father. Before Nate could answer, the same child turned and asked me, “Nathan doesn’t have a father, right?” I replied that yes, he does in fact have a father but he’s not part of our family. Another boy chimed in, “yea, that happens. Same with my cousin, except he has two moms now.” Yes, I said, that’s a family too. “Yea. And sometimes parents have to leave. They can’t stay married even when they love their kids.” Yes, I said. Sometimes that happens too. The third boy asked Nate, “so where is he, your father?”

“He’s in another state. I don’t see him. But my mom keeps the door open just in case we want to see each other when I’m older. Right Mom? (with a big smile on his face and a slight leaning into me) You keep that door open.”

I could not have been more proud in that moment. Proud of how these boys talk to each other and to me. Proud of how they can acknowledge how their lives are different and the same as other people’s. And incredibly, abundantly, and gratefully proud of my own child’s confident response.

Yes, love, we keep that door open.

No fears, no worries, just the honest truth.

And off they ran, this band of brothers, to tackle the fantasies of invisible enemies and “us versus them.” It gave me hope that the “us” is widening and expanding with each year as these boys and others like them grow into men.


A Grown Up Tantrum

March 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Family, Interracial Families, Wendy Rhein

By Wendy Rhein

I did not have my best moment as a parent today. I shouldn’t have any expectations that my kids should recognize or even acknowledge how hard I work to be their mom and to provide for them. I know I shouldn’t but on some days I do.

One of my biggest challenges with being a single parent is the lack of a shoulder or cheerleader to take over when I’m at my wit’s end or to validate that yes, that child was being Voldemort’s spawn and the red-faced yelling match that ensued was indeed justified. Someone who understands the wide-eyed look of amazement I sometimes have when I watch my child step over 7 dirty socks 13 times in one hour as if they are invisible, all the while complaining that he has no clean socks. I long for that occasional reminder that while I signed up for motherhood gleefully with all my being, I did not fully realize the implications of raising two independently minded, strong willed and creative young men, and that my breaking moments are understandable.

One such moment today resulted in my actually suggesting to Nate that if he liked the rules (or lack of) and the constant new legos and $20 weekly allowance for a 6-year-old without any chores that seems to be the norm at his friend Scott’s house (name changed to protect the maybe innocent) that maybe he should go and live THERE. Without me. Without Sam. Without Nana. I even offered to drop him off after school. That way he’d be there in time for the dinner that never includes vegetables and is almost always take out. You want me to pack your suitcase too?

Silence from the back seat.

As I said, not my finest hour.

The problem with listening to your kids is that you sometimes believe them. And this morning in my exhausted and frazzled Monday morning state, I believed Nate. I had been hearing about the glories of Scott’s world all weekend and since 6am today and this morning I actually believed the undercurrent of the comparisons: Scott’s parents are better at this than I am. All those insecurities about not being able to provide everything financially, practically, and emotionally; the ‘never enoughs’ as I like to call them. To be fair, I don’t think that Nate believed that undercurrent, or was even aware of it. I’ll own that one. Just like I own inviting my 6-year-old to move out. I launched into a mental temper tantrum of my own Scott list: I bet Scott’s family shops at Whole Foods all the time, they certainly can with their two professional incomes and the full time nanny who teaches the kids Swedish! And I bet they can take three vacations to Legoland and Harry Potter’s village at Disney every year! And stay at the resort! I bet Scott’s mom doesn’t have to hire a babysitter for $40 to see a $10 movie, no of course not. And of course Scott’s parents never have to nag Scott to pick up his God-forsaken dirty socks!

Lucky for me, I did manage to find some adult restraint and let that all play out in my head and not my mouth. We were quiet for a few miles, which in Nate’s world is an eternity. I was feeling about 2 inches tall, clearly not the role model of single motherhood and doing it all well that I try in vain to be. We arrived at his school and as he was getting ready to leap out of the car and start his day, he leaned forward, grabbed me around the neck and said “I don’t want to live anywhere but with you. You’re my best mom. And besides, Scott’s house doesn’t have cable.”



No Visible Means of Support

February 8, 2012 by  
Filed under Family, Holly Vanderhaar, Single Parents

By: Holly Vanderhaar

I was recently approached about submitting an essay on single motherhood to a magazine. I sent the editor a précis of my motherhood to date: began trying to conceive when I was 36, unexpectedly conceived identical twins, babies contracted twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome in utero. Had experimental surgery. Babies survived. Had tons of help from friends, sister, and Mom. Moved half a country away when my daughters were four. They’re now almost nine.

The editor asked some follow-up questions. Could I talk more about my support network? In what ways is it harder to build one versus having a built-in one, i.e., a partner? What do I do when I want to brag to someone about something “awesome” my kids have done? And whom do I talk to when I want to tear my hair out?

I thought about this for a while before I responded. The editor seemed genuinely perplexed. “But how do you cope?” seemed to be the subtext of most of the questions.

Having never been married or otherwise in a long-term, committed relationship, I don’t know any different. How could I possibly articulate how parenting is harder or easier as a single woman? Sure, it would be nice to have another adult in the house when I’m facing a deadline and I need a couple of hours of uninterrupted work time. If I need to run to the drug store at 9:00 after the girls are in bed, it would be terrific to just be able to go. There are lots of logistical things that would be made much easier by having a man around the house.

On the other hand, it’s a relief sometimes to not have to put the work into keeping a marriage healthy. One of my friends was undergoing fertility treatments at the same time I was, only with a husband. Their daughter is just a couple of months younger than my girls. And my married friend is just as likely to feel that I have it easier, because I’m doing it alone.

In this Internet age, it isn’t hard to share my pride and frustration. I can snap pictures with my phone and send them instantly to family and friends. The girls are old enough to chat on the phone, to text, and to email. My mom and my sister are still a big source of moral—and occasionally financial—support. We miss their physical presence. The emotional support is there even at a distance.

But the one thing I’ve learned about myself on this road is that I’m much stronger and more capable than I ever would have believed. It’s not easy, not by a long shot, but most of the time it’s hard in a way that parenting itself is hard, or at least hard for everyone who wants to do it well.

So I told the editor all of these things. I’m still waiting to hear back. It’s possible that they don’t need my contribution for the issue after all, or that they’re still deciding. But sometimes I wonder if it’s easier to sell the story of single parenthood as martyrdom.


The Depth of the Wanting

January 9, 2012 by  
Filed under Family, Single Parents, Wendy Rhein

By: Wendy Rhein

I never had a baby shower for Sam. In the few short weeks leading up to his birth, it felt like a jinx to even consider it. I shook with restraint as I unpacked Nathan’s old baby clothes and washed a handful of receiving blankets. I covertly read up on formula and daydreamed about names. Each of the pre-birth preparations that should have, could have, been filled with such joyful expectation had to be put into check. He wasn’t my baby yet. Anything could still happen. The birth mother could change her mind. It was impossible to not be excited, but I had to remind myself daily that while the pregnancy was ending for her, my journey to becoming Sam’s mother was far from over.

Sam’s birthmother and I spoke every few days during those last 4 weeks of her pregnancy, just a few short weeks after first learning of the possibility of him. We texted and chatted on the phone in sometimes easy, almost sisterly conversations about pregnancy pains, hopes for our existing children, what we were making for dinner that night. Sometimes I checked in after a few quiet days, a breezy “hey how are things” chat to reassure myself that she still wanted to move forward with the adoption plan. The underlying current of those more stilted conversations: do you still like me? Still want me to raise your child? Because I really, really want to.

There are the things that people don’t tell you about open adoption. It takes you back to that awkward dance in middle school when you so badly want to be the one chosen, so badly want to be liked enough to be picked as the favored partner. You create a veneer of calm and nonchalance. You know you can’t show your true self, terrified that if you do, the depth of the abyss of your want will scare the other person off. Open adoption is like that. Please like me. Please give me the biggest gift that anyone can ever give me. Please.

In the weeks leading up to Sam’s birth, his birthmother invited me to an ultrasound appointment. I picked her up at her apartment and drove her to the doctor. When I arrived, I had obviously walked into an argument between her and her mother. She vented during the 20-minute ride to the office about her mother being against the adoption, against me. I was a single woman with a child. She was a single woman with a child. If I could take on raising a second child, why couldn’t she? I was a white woman who was going to raise her black grandson, what was her daughter thinking?

At the time, I remember driving and trying to not panic. What is my role here? She was speaking to me like a friend but speaking of me at the same time. What can I say, what should I say, without sounding like I would say anything to ensure that in the end I am the one to walk out of the hospital with this little baby? But in reality that was exactly the cornerstone of our whole relationship and we both knew it. I genuinely felt for her, as she sat railing and crying, in my car already equipped with 2 car seats. She wanted so much more for her life at 28 than what she had. She had thought she would be more like me, she said. She had thought that she would be a fashion designer by now, would have finished college, and high school. She wouldn’t be supporting herself, her daughter, and her mother on the child support she received for her first child and public assistance. She had dreamed of such a different life. Like yours, she said. But with a man around.

Yes, I said, I wanted that too. It just hasn’t worked out that way yet.

She wanted to get her GED and raise her daughter in their own apartment. She had even scoped out some daycare options. After the pregnancy, she believed, things would be different. She’d have her life back. After the pregnancy, she would get back what she had put on hold for the last 9 months.

I hope you’re ready, she said, because I’m not buying a single diaper. I’m not taking him home. I need my life back and I know I can’t raise two children, not now. I hope you’re ready, she said as we walked into the ultrasound appointment, her composure regained, her head held high.

I’m ready, I said. Let’s go.


2012 Reflections and Intentions

January 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Family, Single Parents, Wendy Rhein

By Wendy Rhein

I don’t do resolutions. I don’t like the idea of setting myself up to fail by creating some bubbly-induced grandiose goals that are based on pure fantasy and some 11:58pm longing to be someone I’m not. I do, however, believe in reflection and intention.

As any psychologist or self-help reader can tell you, the idea of intention is to put out into the universe the positive energy and words – actual words – for what you want. You speak your intentions in the present tense, making them current and real, and you use precise verbs and nouns. You are not trying or wanting, you ARE.

Reflections are easy. We reflect on things all the time. The problem I find is that they often come out as regrets or unfulfilled desires. At the end of the year I like to reflect on things I learned about myself, about my world, that changed my perceptions or how I operate in the world.

So, as this year ends, I am offering some of my reflections and intentions for what has passed and what is coming. Try it. It is much more fun than promising for the 8th year in a row to lose the same 15 pounds or that you’ll try to be a better communicator.

Reflections – things I learned in 2011.

1. I don’t have to be married to my job to be happy in my life.

2. Elmo is really a 50-something black man with an incredible imagination and vocal range. Compare the visuals of man and muppet. If he can find that red and fuzzy iconic character inside of himself, what can I find in myself?

3. While I was taking cooking classes, something I had always wanted to do and finally did in 2011, I was more creative, more centered, and more focused in all other areas of my life. All of which went away again when the classes were over. There is a lesson there.

4. It is much harder to make friends as a grown up than it was in grade school.

5. Judgments made about me and my family are other people’s problems, not mine.

Intentions for 2012

1. I am writing every day, fiction or non-fiction. Every day.

2. I am taking 4 more cooking classes or series of classes, one each season.

3. I am taking a trip with my best friend of 20 + years, no kids, no spouses.

4. I am dating again, focusing on a life partner and not a dinner date. I welcome dating as an adventure and not a painful blight on 40+ singletons.

5. Oh, and I am 15 pounds lighter and a much better communicator.


I’m Not Ready

December 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Family, Single Parents, Wendy Rhein

By: Wendy Rhein

In the aftermath of yet another ER visit (see my previous post for my love-hate relationship with my local emergency room) and in the throes of overwhelming year-end work responsibilities, I have not gotten much sleep this week.  I have been able to doze off while holding my injured younger son only to wake up with impending “to dos” burning my eyelids. So many things to do, so many things I’d like to do, so many I am not ready for.

Some who know me will say I’m ready for anything. In fact, I pride myself on my ability to plan and yet adjust and organize and accommodate.  I often say “no problem, I’ve got this” to challenges and surprises that come my way. But the truth, the wake-me-up-at-3-AM truth, is that there are many things that feel like they are racing towards me, some faster than others, that I am simply not ready for.

My 43rd birthday. That’s not the beginning of my 40s. At 43 I’m really in it.

My own kids’ blood on the pavement.

Hand-stuffing 5,400 envelopes with hand-folded letters.

Doing my own taxes.

Facing end-of-life care decisions for my parents.

Buying shoes.

Nate riding a motorcycle.

Sam’s risk-taking when he’s a teenager. It’s already scaring me and scarring himself at 2.

Either of them playing football.

My retirement. Not that that is happening any time soon.

My sons signing up for the draft. I come from a long line of military service and couldn’t be more proud but I don’t think any parent is really ready for that moment.

Dating in my 40s. Or 50s.

A low sodium diet. I haven’t been asked to, and I will fight it, fleur de sel in hand.

Trying to get the decorative contents of nine 18-gallon tubs of Christmas goodness unpacked in a 3-bedroom apartment. The idea of culling a lifetime of holiday memories makes me sad.

Letting go of the expectation that Nate’s father will continue to disappoint his son by being absent from his life and not comprehending that someday he will face consequences for that.

Letting go, period.

Last night in an obviously self-comforting move vaguely veiled as a planning opportunity to feed my family, I made a up a soup from the contents of my fridge. Something that involved the repeated movement of chopping that requires minimal focus. (Be careful, I did nick myself while my mind wandered!) It turned out just as I hoped – warm, comforting, textured, and with a bit of a bite. May it have the same effect on you.

Kale, Sausage and Lentil Soup
(Serves 4-6 depending on your serving size)

2T olive oil
2c lentils, rinsed and cleared of little stones
3-4 mild Italian sausages
1 celery heart, diced, leaves included
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 carrots, sliced into ½ inch pieces
2t oregano
4c chicken stock
2 or 3 bay leaves
1 bunch kale, leaves torn into 2 inch pieces
3t ketchup

*a note to start – this would be equally good as a soup or as a stew. If you want soup, add more chicken stock and water. If you want more of a stew, go with the chicken stock here and plan on adding water as needed.

Heat olive oil in a pan. Add the sausages and cook the sausages on the stove top, browning the skins evenly. Finish in a 400 degree oven if the sausages are thick. Once they are done, remove the sausages from the pan and place on a plate, but reserve the pan and the juices in it! Heat the pan over medium heat and add the onions, celery, salt and pepper, and bay leaves. After about 5 minutes, when the onions begin to soften, add the dried oregano. Sauté until the onions are translucent. Yes, this means you are sautéing in pork fat from the sausage. Heart-healthy it may not be but it is beyond good.

While the onions and celery are cooking down, start cooking the lentils in 2 cups water and 2 cups chicken stock in a stock pot or Dutch oven for about 20 minutes over medium heat. If the lentils start to look dry, continue to add a 1:1 ration of chicken stock to water to keep the cooking going. Add the carrots to the lentils. Once the onions are translucent and very fragrant, remove the bay leaves. Cut the sausages into bite-sized rounds on a diagonal (just for looks) and add them to the onion mixture. When the lentils start to open but are still al dente, add the sausage/onion mix to the lentil pot and add any remaining chicken stock. Stir to incorporate. Toss in the torn pieces of kale and let the kale cook down for about 5 minutes in the soup. If you like your greens softer keep stirring occasionally and let it cook over medium low heat. Add the ketchup and let the flavors blend for about 5 minutes, again adding water to your desired thickness. Taste, and add salt and pepper if needed.

Just before serving toss a little red wine vinegar on top of the bowl for a bite of acid. Serve with a chunk of crusty bread.


Reality is as Scary as it Gets

November 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Family, Interracial Families, Wendy Rhein

By: Wendy Rhein

It is that time – the ghosts, goblins, and Super Mario Brothers costumes are out in full force. The weeks of anticipation and planning, re-dressing and ad-dressing promising that the costume is a perfect combo of realism and comedy have culminated in a cold and windy Halloween in the Northeast.

My sons’ purchased costumes (because I am not crafty, as my previous blog proves) are ready to go. Sam refuses to wear anything on his head so I go with Plan B’s costume at the last minute. Nate has been wearing his costume for the last week, testing out the accessory options and experimenting with which shoes will allow him to run faster while the costume is on – don’t ask me for the reason the shoes matter but apparently there is some physics question to be answered here. Finally we are at the big day and as I look at my pint-sized pirate and mid-sized Anakin Skywalker, I can finally answer the question I have been pestered with for days:

What are you dressing up like for Halloween?

Easy – I’m a mom.

See those stains on my shoulders? That’s a lot of burped milk. Or maybe it is just the remnants of too many faces covered in food or God knows what, coming in for a hug.

And what about my make-up, scary enough for you? These dark circles would look good on a zombie too! And the hair! I keep forgetting to make that root touch up appointment and now I can use the stark grey to my advantage. Who needs the Bride of Frankenstein wig when you can have a skunk look like this? There is a scary spider web on the back of my head too just waiting for a resident tarantula. (I realize there it is dryer lint on the back of my head. What I didn’t realize is that it was there all damn day.)

My jeans are threadbare in the inner thigh from some unfortunate chaffing (and too much candy) and the cuffs are fraying. When was the last time I shopped for myself? That’s right; the kids are wearing my clothing budget as costumes.

Do my socks match? Unlikely, the laundry isn’t done yet. Just go with it. And that greening black and blue mark on the back of my hand? I got that pulling the lost Lego guy out of the dishwasher food trap.

So you see, my little angels, Mom is in fact dressed up as a ghoulish, scary creature tonight. You’re just used to it. Happy Halloween!

This weekend, as we weathered our first winter storm, I made a delicious and easy carrot soup that is sure to keep you and yours warm.

Carrot, Coconut, and Curry Soup. The color alone with brighten any mood and the ginger will kick out the chill in the air.

1 medium yellow onion, diced
2T olive oil
Salt and pepper
1T curry powder
1/2t ground cardamom (optional)
3T grated fresh ginger
3lbs carrots, peeled and sliced into 1 inch pieces
3c vegetable broth (can sub water)
1 can light coconut milk

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent. Add a dash of salt and pepper, the cardamom, and curry and stir to coat the onions and toast the spices. Your kitchen should smell wonderfully right now. Add the ginger. Stir to incorporate. After about a minute, add the stock and the carrots and cover. Let the carrots cook down at a simmer for 20 minutes or until soft. The timing will depend on the size of the carrot pieces you’ve chopped. A fork should pierce them easily. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender. (I use an immersion blender aka, a stick blender, and it is very convenient and easy to clean. Your choice. ) Once the soup is pureed return to the pot and stir in the coconut milk. The milk adds a silky smoothness. Heat to serve.

This batch will serve 4-6 big bowls.


Happy Anniversary Florida

October 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Adoptive Families, Family, Meika Rouda

By: Meika Rouda

I have never been asked if I was gay before, let alone had to sign a sworn affidavit stating that I was not gay. But that is exactly what happened when my husband and I were adopting our son. We were in Florida, where our son was born in 2007, sitting in our lawyer’s office, signing a stack of papers so we could bring him home. When our lawyer looked at me and said, “Are you gay?”, I smiled at him and thought he was making some strange joke. But then he pointed to the paper and asked me again. “I know it is ridiculous, but Florida has a ban on gays adopting and I need you to answer me honestly and then sign the affidavit.” He was being serious and I was shocked. The blatant discrimination was not something I was used to, coming from the San Francisco Bay Area where rainbow flags fly high and diversity is celebrated. I signed the paper, feeling a tinge of sadness on what was otherwise the best day of my life.

A few weeks later, we were sharing the joy of our new son with some friends who are gay and who wanted to adopt a baby. As I was praising our agency and lawyer and handing over contact information, I realized they couldn’t use our lawyer; they couldn’t adopt in Florida. This couple had been together for 20 years, and were both successful, loving, generous men wanting to be parents — but that wasn’t enough because they were gay.

Last year when we went back to Florida to adopt our daughter, we were not asked to sign the affidavit. It was October, 2010 and a few weeks earlier the law had been overturned. It only took one couple to challenge the 33-year ban, fighting for the right to adopt two boys they had raised as foster parents for six years. Finally the ban was ruled unconstitutional. Gay parents who had been fostering kids were now pushing ahead with long anticipated adoptions and creating families.

So three cheers for Florida and a toast to all of the families who became legal this year!

Now we just need to get gay marriage settled.


Next Page »