Raising Black Childen in a White World

iAdopting black children changes your perspective.  I find myself drawn to other black people now.  I also find myself saying things like “other black people” because I now think I am one. : )  I worry about race in a way that I didn’t before.  I knew racism existed and I knew that I wasn’t a racist.  But, I was white and had the luxury of not worrying about it much.  That has changed.  I think about it a lot now. 

My area is white. Really, really white.  We ended up here by sheer coincidence when we were looking for a place to live.  It was a happy coincidence, though.  My sister lives in this area and the school system is the best around  This was a really great thing since William was a little behind when he started kindergarten.  All the smarts were there, but he needed a little extra help.  And, he got it there.

I was really worried at the beginning.  There was only one other black child in his class and his grade. 
That made him very different.  But, for the most part, there turned out not to be much reason to worry.

One day, though, on the playground, a child told him that he couldn’t climb on some of the playground equipment because he was brown.  To their credit, everyone at the school took it seriously and handled it well.  I got a call from the principal, advising me of the situation, apologizing, and letting me know that he would handle it.  The child was talked to, at length, and had to write an apology letter.  William moved on and I held a grudge against a 5 year old for a year.  I didn’t say I handled it well. : ) 

There was one other comment that he should be going to a black school (ugh).  But, then I never heard anything else from William about any problems at school due to his race.

Until the other day…

Driving home from the store, William blurts out, “At school, someone said I look like poop, because I’m black.”

I started with the popular, but not overly helpful, “Are you poop?”
“Well, there you go.”

Then I started trying to think of something more helpful to say.

I later kind of wished that I had told him to tell them that they look like bird poop because they’re white.  (Brian’s mostly joking, initial response to me, when I told him. haha)  But, I suppose that wouldn’t have been appropriate.

Then he goes on.  “And, sometimes, people say I’m not as good because I’m black.  In kindergarten, they said I should go to a black school.  And most of the kids there are white.”

I started trying to cover all the angles.  Kids can sometimes be mean, but they will learn to be nicer.  You have every right to be there.  It’s just a color and it’s a beautiful color.  Yes, there are more white kids;  doesn’t make them better, just means there are more of them.  How you feel now is why it’s so important  that you never treat people this way.  etc. etc.

I discussed one of the most challenging things he’ll face while navigating traffic on a busy road.

William doesn’t like discussing serious topics.  This is why the heart-to-heart from the other day/two blogs ago was evcn more significant.  When we try to explain something serious to him, we usually end it with, “Do you have any questions?  Anything you don’t understand?”   William will almost always say yes and then ask some version of why the sky is blue. 

I really couldn’t believe he was bringing it up at all.  (I also couldn’t believe he was waiting until summer when I couldn’t do anything about it…) 

At the end of my hopefully inspirational, but more likely, rambling speech, he says “Mom?”

“Yes?” I say, anxiously, wondering what else he will share.

“How about we move on from this?”

“Ok” I say, totally confused, but I guess we were done.

 He then asked me to turn the music back up.  He sang along, happily.

This was so William. 

It’s so hard to get in his head.  So, I might never know if I effectively reassured him, if he shut down as a defense mechanism, or if he just got bored and wanted to hear the music.  Maybe a combination of all three?

William is different, in so many ways and it’s something he’s going to have to deal with.  Ironically, if you get him talking about it, the fact that he’s small seems to bother him more than anything else.  (Antwan is only 3 pounds less than him but 4 years younger.)

 I worry that we’ve made him more diffferent by adopting him.  And, well, we have.  But, I know in my heart, that those three are supposed to be with us and any other challenges that any of us face, will be worth it. 

From the beginning, we’ve tried to instill pride in his color.  We bought books about Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.  We’ve talked about his skin and how pretty it is.  We’ve even talked about how lucky he is that he is unlikely to ever get lice. ( :

I often wonder when Antwan and Lizzie will figure out that they’re black or understand what it means to be adopted. 

Brian talks to Antwan about his skin.  I’ve told Lizzie repeatedly how pretty her hair is (partly, in an effort to off-set all the talk she hears about me not knowing what the heck to do with it). We talk to them about being adopted and how happy we are that they are ours.  We’re trying to make them aware of it without making it a constant issue.  Hopefully, we’re doing a good job with that.  Only time will tell.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to grow up black.  Or what it’s going to be like to grow up with a couple of goofy, white parents.   But, they are and they’re going to. ( :   But, the one thing I know is that we’re the Parkers, for better or worse.  (See! I’m goofy!) The good news is, it’s mostly the better! 


People in the real world and their questions

Perception is an interesting thing.  I live my days with three children that are so much mine, in my heart, that I practically have memories giving birth to them.  I know I didn’t, though.  No need to be concerned for my grasp on reality. : )  I don’t dwell on the fact that they’re adopted much unless I’m reminded.  Well, that’s not true, exactly.  I do dwell on it, in a way, because I am so amazed at how the universe brought them to me.  And, how my tears at not being pregnant, month after month, were actually necessary evils so that we would go looking for them. 

When we go out, I’m often asked questions about our family.  I don’t have the ability, if I wanted to, to hide the fact that they’re not biological.  I’m one pale chick and I’ve got 3 beautiful, black children.  The boys are darker and Lizzie is a little lighter.  So, maybe Lizzie could be mistaken as mixed, but not a chance with the boys.  So, people sometimes ask.  And, I don’t mind.  I feel it’s an opportunity to try to educate and encourage others to make the same choice that we did. 

The only thing that I do mind is when phrases such as “real mom and dad” are used.  Because that just hurts.  I am fully aware that I didn’t give birth to these children.  But, in our situation, that’s pretty much the only good thing the biological mother ever did.  (Forgive the anger.)  That makes her the biological mother, but I’m the mom. 

I’ve blogged about this topic before and I’m sure I’m repeating myself a little.  But, it’s a recurring topic.  So, I guess this is a recurring blog.  ( :

I’ve made a promise to myself that I am not going to let it pass anymore.  I truly believe that no harm is intended in these situations, but if I don’t speak up, who will?  And, as the kids get older, hearing these things, will just give them one more thing to be confused about.

Yesterday, we were playing at the mall play area.  Somehow I ended up in a conversation with another mom.  She knew that Lizzie, who was staying close, was my daughter.  Then the boys came by. So, she asked “All three are yours?”  I told her that they were and waited to see what she would ask next, because they always ask another question.

“Do they all have the same daddy?” 

Well, this was new.  But, I was determined not to let the moment pass, so I said “Yes, my husband.  We adopted them.  So, he’s their father.”  I think (actually, I know) that my attempt at calmly correcting her came out more angry and ticked off than constructive.  I really felt bad about that, but, there it was. 

Then she said, “Oh, they’re adopted?  I totally thought they were completely from you.”

It was then that I realized that she was not asking an intrusive question about the adoption or trying to take away Brian’s title.  She had no idea that they were adopted and just figured my children have a black father or two or three.  (Well, they do have black biological fathers, but you get the point..). 

I didn’t know how to respond.  It was a little funny.  It was a little embarrassing.  It was a little rude.  It was a little cool that she thought they were biological.  And, it was definitely not the conversation that I expected to be having.

I’m used to people wondering about the adoption and I think it’s important that the kids hear me talk about the fact that we adopted them and understand that it’s totally normal, ok, and definitely nothing to be ashamed of.  But, wondering how many baby’s daddies I have?  That I wasn’t ready for. ( :

I can add it to the list of things that I didn’t expect when I thought I knew what to expect.  I definitely don’t hold the monopoly on unexpected parental experiences. ( :  But, these are the experiences in our reality.

Wherever we go, people will notice us.  Sometimes, people will ask us questions.  Sometimes, people will compliment us (that’s way more than sometimes).  And, sometimes, people will ask me how many different dads my children have.  I’ve learned my lesson on that one.  Next time, I’ll just say one.  Yes, they all have the same daddy.  Because they do.  And, he’s pretty awesome. ( : 

Adopting foster children and their issues.

He was born 3.5 pounds, 6 weeks premature, at home.  He had crack in his system.  The biological mother was allowed to go home with him because she was cooperative and, therefore, it was labeled “low-risk.”  Two years later, he was put into foster care, with his three siblings, when it was obvious that it was not, in fact, low risk.  He was a foster child until he was five years old.

Then we met him.  And, were thrilled at the chance to adopt him and Antwan! 
(This is the first picture that we were shown.)

Today, William is a happy, goofy, silly boy who drives me crazy on a daily basis.  This, I’ve learned, is his job as my son.  He puts on a good show and it is way too easy for me to forget his past.  And the fact that it still affects him.

When you adopt a child, you want it to be easy.  Of course you do and that’s ok.  Why wouldn’t you?  The trick is to be willing to do the work when you have to face that’s it’s not.  We knew it wouldn’t be easy, we did our research, we thought.

When we met William, we were amazed at how well-adjusted he was, despite what he had gone through.  He seemed so happy and quick to bond.  This was something that I said to my friends when telling them about him.  These assessments of his personality really show how naive we were.  We understood that kids in foster care would have issues.  We had talked about it and researched it.  But, we thought that somehow we had hit the jackpot and gotten the one kid who had seen it all, but really didn’t care all that much, because now we had swooped in and saved him!  Naive.  But, we learned.

It’s true that he was a generally happy kid, but some of the bouncy enthusiasm was due to undiagnosed ADHD which probably drove his apathetic foster parents crazy.  He did bond with us, but he was in tears just a few days ago, because he still wonders if he’ll have to one day leave us.

William doesn’t like change.  He never has.  At the end of kindergarten and 1st grade, he wet his pants “accidently” (a defense mechanism that he utilized way too many times).  After all, it was the one thing that he could control.

This year, he didn’t seem to have any interest in following rules.  He was breaking basic rules for no apparent reason.  I felt like I was losing my mind.  Finally, it dawned on Brian that it was the end of the year and this might be his new way of responding to it. It made me feel a little better to realize that, but not particularly less frustrated.

The next night, at bedtime, I said, in my full-on, weary, mom tone, “If you’re freaking out about school ending, this is not the way to deal with it.”  He instantly broke down into tears.  Having trouble switching gears (like I said, he was driving me crazy), I muttered something unhelpful and left the room.  It took me just a couple of seconds to realize what I had just done and the damage that could cause.  I broke down into tears, too, swallowed my pride and when in to talk to him.

And, we talked and talked.  We started with talking about the fact that school was going to end, no matter what he did, and what he could control was his reaction to it and how breaking our rules, doesn’t make things better.  We moved onto how change scares him and his memories of his time in foster care.  He told me that he went to a bunch of different foster homes to see if they could be his family.  In reality, I think it was actually respite care (temporary care while regular foster parents go out of town, etc).  But, really all that matters is that he thinks that he was rejected by several families.  No wonder he didn’t really believe us when we said that we wanted him to be our son forever.  He admitted that he still worries that he’ll have to leave.  After all this time, he doesn’t get that it’s forever.  That just broke my heart. 

A couple weeks after we got the boys, we moved.  When Brian told William that we were moving to another house, he said “But, I want to move with you.”  We emphaticlly explained that he was.  That seemed so sad.  Three years later, that seems somewhat minor or unsurprising, compared to the fact that he still has that fear.

I didn’t know how to make him feel better.  I said all kinds of reassuring things.  I told him how much I loved him.  And how I wish I had gotten him from the very beginning.  I said all kinds of things and gave all kinds of kisses.  But, is it enough?  I don’t know.

I compare William to a bucket with a hole, in the bottom.  It doesn’t seem to matter how much I put in there, it always leaks out.  I can only hope that the hole gets smaller over time.

I do know a few things.  I know that I love him.  I know that I love him so much that my eyes are welling up as I type this.  I know that he has added an unbelievable amount of joy to my life.  I know that even if he always has emotional scars (and I’m guessing he will) that he is better off with us than in foster care.  I know that he is where he belongs and that I was meant to be his mom, just like I was meant to be the mom of Antwan and Lizzie.  I know that I don’t regret a thing. 

When explaining to him that it doesn’t matter how mad I get at him or how mad he gets at me, we are a family forever; I said “I would rather fight with you every day, then not have you at all.”  (This was too complicated a statement and required a few minutes of clarification. But, hey, I was trying every different way that I could think of to drive the point home.)  But, the point was, that I really would rather fight with him everyday than not have him at all.  But, fingers crossed that I won’t have to fight with him everyday, because my strong-willed, afraid of nothing, Lizzie is getting older and older and I’m gonna need some energy left for that. : )

It’s easier for Antwan and Lizzie.  And, it will always be easier raising them.  But, it doesn’t make it better.  Just easier.  Good thing I like a challenge! 🙂

Antwan’s Got The Whole Situation Under Control.

Antwan’s at a tricky age.  He knows he’s a kid, but he doesn’t want to be treated like one.  Actually, he’s always been like that, so maybe it’s just that he’s tricky.  He doesn’t find anything more frustrating than feeling like he’s not being listened to.  He has somehow picked this up from Brian. ( :  “Because I said so” is no more effective on Antwan than it would be on Brian.

On numerous occasions, Antwan has lowered his voice, told me to calm down, and explained his point of view when I was expressing my disapproval over any given situation.  He truly believes that once I understand what’s going on, all will be well.  But, of course, I really don’t want to know why he has water all over the floor or why his clothes are off or why the toothpaste is on the bathroom wall, I just want him to stop. 

Antwan couldn’t possibly love Lizzie more and puts up with a lot from her.  I have no doubt that he always will.  But, he really hates it when she yells at him.  And, she does yell.  We’ve successfully filled her adorable head with enough self confidence to tell any of us exactly what she’s thinking at any given time.  So, she does.

I think it really hurts his feelings when she yells at him.  Often, he will break down into tears and come to me for a hug as he explains that Lizzie yelled at him. 

Lately, armed with his belief that we are partners and co-parents to Lizzie, he’s been trying another tactic. 

The other day, I hear Lizzie yelling.  Then I hear Lizzie crying.  Then I hear William – “Mom!!  Antwan hit Lizzie!”  So I yell “Antwan!  Get in here!” 

When he comes in, I launch into “You do not hit Lizzie…”  But, I didn’t get any farther.
Antwan – “Mommy!  Mommy!  (He put his finger on my mouth.)  Now you just calm down.  Lizzie yelled at me, so I hit her.  (He paused, seemingly for effect).  She shouldn’t yell at me.”

Now what do you do with that??  I tried, desperately, to regain some appearance of being the parent in the room and explained that I would talk to her about yelling, but it was never ok to hit her. 

So, it happened again.  Same basic scenario.  I hear her yelling.  I’m heading to his room where they are theoretically playing.  Before I get there, she starts to cry and comes running to show me her hurt finger, screaming “Antwan hit me!” I go to talk to Antwan.  He tells me to calm down again and explains again that she yelled at him.  I explain again that we don’t hit. 

Antwan – “She yelled at me,”
Me, trying another angle, “Antwan, you can’t ever hit Lizzie.  She’s just a baby.”
Antwan – “Yeah.  She’s a baby who hit me.”
Me – “Well, yes, but” I stammered.

I really have no idea what I said next.  But, it must have been somewhat effective because I don’t think he’s hit her since.  Or, more likely, he decided based on his own conclustions that it wasn’t the way to handle it.  He is the co-parent, after all. ( :

Three Years ago, we adopted our sons!

Three years ago, today, on May 9, 2008, our adoption of William and Antwan was finalized.  They came to live with us on February 15th, but, on this day, it was made official and legal!

It was a special, monumental day.  And, at the same time, it was like any other day when you have children: complicated, frustrating, exhausting, amazing, and extremely fulfilling. 

In anticipation of the day, I had carefully planned the boys’ outfits.  Being a former fashion-obsessed club-goer who turned into an it’s only-a-little-wrinkled and basically-matches mom; I was very concerned that they looked nice for the ceremony.  They needed black dress shoes, but money was tight.  (Adding 2 boys to a family will do that to you!), so I scoured the consignment shops until I found shoes in their sizes.  I found William’s shoes right away, Antwan’s, for whatever reason, were harder to find.  But, I did.  Success! 🙂

Because it was so close to Mothers Day, we were going to take part in the Annual Mothers Day finalization “extravaganza.”  Instead of just our family, friends, and a judge (like Lizzie’s, later), it was going to be many, many families all finalizing on the same day.  That turned out to be a really wonderful thing to take part in.

As a perpetually late person, I tried very, very hard to be ready on time.  And I was.  But, I soon was reminded why Brian likes to leave extra early, in case something goes wrong.  Because something went wrong.

On the way, to save time (irony!), we ran through the Burger King drive-thru.  We ordered our food, got trapped in between cars, and learned that the computers were down and everything was being done by hand.  (On a super relevant side-note, our car at the time, was having issues with over-heating if it idled too long.)  So, we sat there in line (at least 20 minutes), unable to get out, and watched the little arrow go up and up.  We eventually got our order, which turned out to be wrong, and headed to the nearest store to buy radiator fluid (or whatever you buy when cars overheat!) and wait for the car to cool down.

With the car over-heated, us at least 30 minutes from the court house, and the ceremony starting in 30 minutes; it wasn’t looking good.  I started frantically making calls.  None of my professional contacts were reachable, but my family was.  Because, you see, my parents left super early and did not stop for lunch.  Eventually, my parents tracked down the judge’s secretary and we were told to keep coming and they’d work us in.  Yay! 

Good news, but we were still stuck in the Food Lion parking lot with an over-heated, but very sporty Mustang.  I don’t remember how long it took to cool down, it seemed like such an eternity, but we finally started driving again, while anxiously watching the temperature gauge.

We finally made it!  The ceremony was only about half-way through.  We found our family, sat down, and tried to decompress.  Decompressing is slightly challenging when you’re in a crowded room and have been freaking out for an hour and a half.  But, really, I was just happy.  I was so happy to be there and so excited to finally, truly, officially, legally, become a mom. 

Nothing else mattered.  Not the car, not the money issues, not the run in my hose, nothing.

Then Brian pointed out that Antwan only had one shoe on.  Ok, that mattered a little.  We looked all over, but didn’t find the shoe until we went back to the car, later.  Oh well, my boy became a Parker, wearing only one shoe.  In hindsight, that seems about right.  🙂

It was a typical day in our life.  Things went wrong, things went right.  It’s not easy, it’s not normal, but always, always worth it.
I don’t have the words for how lucky I feel to have these boys in my life.  My life is the opposite of everything that I expected it to be.  I never thought I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant (What the heck?  My sister had 4 kids!).  And, I definitely never expected to become a “local trans-racial family” (as they called us on the news).  Well, maybe it’s not the complete opposite, though.  I expected to be madly in love with my children.  And, I am.  And, as much as I wish I could’ve skipped the heartache of trying to have a child, I know that it had to be that way.  If we had biological children, I don’t know if we would’ve thought about adopting. And, that was how it was supposed to be.  And, if we hadn’t wanted children so badly, would we appreciate them as much as we do? 
So, we left that day, parents to William and Antwan.  We felt completely fulfilled.  And, we were.  Little did we know that Lizzie was on the way to fulfill us even more and would be with us in 4 short (hectic) months.  That was also a happy, crazy, things-going-wrong, things-going-right, kind-of day, but that’s for another blog.  🙂 
This is a video of us of the finalization. 🙂  (Thanks to Jennice for filming it!)

I’m not smarter than an 8 year old.

I thought I was pretty smart when I became a mom.  But, everyday, my three children teach me even more.  Either I wasn’t that smart at the beginning or I’m really, really smart now. 

Life lessons from William.

1. A high five is appropriate in almost any situation.
 Buying drinks at the convenient store.  William walked up to the counter and triumphantly set his drink down. He looked at the cashier and said “Hola!”  The cashier was ready for him, though, and said “Hola!  Como estas?”  William stared at him with no idea how to respond.  I explained that it means “how are you” and suggested he say “muy bien.”  Then the famous William smile showed up and he said to the cashier, “Thank you for helping me learn Spanish!!  High five!”  He high fived William and, of course, the other two requested high fives, too.  Everyone was smiling when we left which can’t always be said at 8am.

2. Never forget how lucky you are.
As anyone with kids knows, keeping the house clean is a constant struggle.  I was never a neat freak before, but becoming a mom has made it virtually impossible for me.  I find this extremely frustrating and am obsessed with the day when we move to a bigger house and I can, theoretically, find a way to be more organized. 
Anyway, the other day, William ran across some ads in the van.  He asked if he could keep them and re-use them.  (He’s been learning all about helping the environment at school.)  I said yes, but started ranting about how they’ll just end up on the floor and how they throw everything on the floor.  (I’m not particularly proud of my early morning rant, but there it is.)  And, my wise son said “That’s true.  The house does get trashed a lot.  But, it’s not all bad, we have a family.”  I then remembered how grateful I am that I have my three kids in my life and in my house, trashing it.

3.  Always pay attention to details.
William is like many adults that I’ve met, at times.  He speaks with great confidence while sharing incorrect information.  A couple of years ago, he insisted that the principal wanted everyone to bring their guitars in a for a picture.  I found this extremely unlikely, but he insisted that he had heard an announcement.  It turned out that the guitar club was having its pictures taken for the yearbook.  So, he was right in thinking that guitars were involved, but incorrect in thinking that he was.
This morning, after being told by William that there was going to be a contest for who could bring the most donated items in, I gathered up 6 bags of clothes.  I made sure to write his name and his teacher’s name on each bag.  This is a slight challenge when trying to write on a plastic bag and you live in a houseful of washable markers.  It just doesn’t work.  Regardless, my competitive side came out and I was gonna make sure my kid won!  As we unloaded the van, William said that his teacher wanted them in her classroom.  I thought this was odd since last year, items were colllected outside the school.  But, as long as Willian won the contest, I would take them wherever!  I had visions of William’s happy face when he won!  Such a confidence building moment!  As we got to the front of the school, patrols began to collect our items and randomly throw them in a bin.  But, his teacher wanted them in her classroom and isn’t there a contest?  They looked bewildered by my questions. They told me that yes, the teachers had bins sitting outside their classrooms, but this was the main collection area.  No, there’s no contest.  It would be way too hard to figure out the winner.  (I had thought that part would be very challenging, too.)
So, I dropped the stuff off, said good-bye to my son who never seems to know what he’s talking about but will pretend that he does, and took our somewhat anti-climatic coupons for free Apple Dippers.

4. Take pride in your accomplishments.
As I go through the course of a day, I encounter William, in various rooms.  This part is not surprising, of course, as we are in the same house.  But, for William, it’s an event.  I walk into the living room, Willam says “Hi Mom.”  Moments later, if I wander into the kitchen, he’ll mysteriously be the too.  “Hi Mom.”  When I come out of the bathroom, there’s William with a “Hi Mom.”  This does, in fact, drive me crazy.  But, I take a deep breathe and remember how lucky I am and. ( :
After a recent round of “Hi mom’s.” William looked at me proudly and said “I said hi to you four times!”  Yay for William! lol.  Achievement is good! 
This morning, I walked into Antwan’s room, “Hi Antwan.”  The cycle continues…

With William’s life lessons firmly in my psyche, I start each new day with the intention of saying hi to people (potentially in Spanish), with some awareness of what’s reallly going on, with pride in my successes and a true sense of gratitude.  Because I really am, so lucky. 

I know some Betas who moved on up!

The other day, I was in the store with the babies and we stopped to look at the fish.  I was looking at the Betas and I noticed that in one container, there were 2 of them.  The first rule of Betas is that you can’t put them together or they will kill each other.  One of the fish looked fine, but the other was pretty beat up.  His fins had been bitten up to the point of barely having any. 

I called Brian. “I’m going to buy a Beta!  And, here’s why!”  – I said, emphatically.  He, of course, agreed.  When I was able to finally get someone to help (irritation intended), she said she couldn’t separate them and they had come to the store like that.  Although, I was sure she could separate them, if she wanted to; I resigned myself to buying both of them, in order to save “Fishy” (the name that Lizzie later gave him.).  To add to my lack of confidence in their fish care abilities, I discovered that they didn’t actually sell the Beta food.  The employee was surprised too and commented that wasn’t even a space for it.  (What are they feeding them?)  Hmm, Brian’s lucky I didn’t come home with all the fish. 

Worried that William would feel left out when we came home with 2 fish, I picked 1out for him.  Then we picked out bowls, gravel, the obligatory decorative tree, etc, and we were on our way. 

William was super excited when he came home to a new pet.  I had put the bullied Beta in his new home, right away, but waited for William to come home, so he could help with his fish. 

The boys had a great time setting up their fish bowls and Lizzie had a great time talking to her fish, “Fishy.” ( :

In the end, what had started as me just trying to rescue a fish, turned into a super fun, family activity with super happy kids. 

I was very, very glad that I had noticed poor, little Fishy.  And, I was also very, very glad that the kids were happy.  I sometimes feel so much pressure to give them the childhood they deserve.  To deserve them.  With just a few twists of fate, they could’ve not been mine.  But, they are and I want them to look back on their childhood and smile. 

On this day, I did ok.  We’ll see how tomorrow goes. ( :

P.S.  Ginger, the cat, was also pleased about the new addition to the family (Racecar, Ming Ming, and Fishy)…a little too pleased.