January 23, 2013

Children's Books About Civil Rights Movement

Eddie came home from school the other week parroting the usual first-grade story that Martin Luther King, Jr. single-handedly got a bunch of unfair laws changed by making one great speech. Granted, he was working off a lesson in his second language (it's a bilingual program), but still. We jumped back into our ongoing conversations about the decades of work by countless individuals that made up the modern civil rights movement, not to mention the centuries of activism and resistance prior to that. Such a big, big topic.

I asked whipsmart internet friend Shannon (via Twitter) if she had any recommendations for quality picture books that we could use to augment our discussions with the kids, because I've been pretty underwhelmed with what I've found so far. And did she ever! I know some of you will also be interested, so I wanted to share her list of children's books about the civil rights movement. Thanks, Shannon!

January 19, 2013

Three Beautiful Things #25

Three beautiful things on a wintery weekend day:

  1. Silence behind the door of the room in which the napping baby lies

  2. Whipped cream

  3. Driving over a bridge by my home one morning, the fog was so thick it swallowed the river, the banks, the horizon. Suddenly I was driving through clouds miles above the earth.
What is beautiful in your world today?

January 17, 2013

Sibling Rivalry...Over Siblings

Of my three children, Eddie is (currently) the only one with siblings in his birth family. Or as he puts it, he has "a brother and sister who live with me and a brother and sister who don't."

Eddie and his out-of-the-house brother and sister share a (birth) mom. The three kids are being raised in three different households, part of three different families, with three different last names, but we just call them brothers and sister. We send birthday presents and occasionally get together in person when our paths cross, much like you might with cousins. Eddie has known about each of them since they were babies.

We spent an evening with Eddie's little brother (now adorably two years old) and his adoptive parents the other week. It was really lovely. Ever since we connected with them in 2011 (definitely one of those heart-pounding-as-you-hit-send email moments for me when we first reached out to them), we've been getting to know one another via Facebook and a couple of in-person visits. BabyBrother's parents are fun, generous people who we really enjoy and, frankly, it has been a giant relief to see our relationship solidify and know that Eddie will have that connection to do with what he wants in the far-off future.

What makes it different (or rather, one of the things which makes it different) from cousins, of course, is that while my kids share the same set of cousins, they don't share the same set of siblings. And there are some Big Feelings about that in our house at the moment. Mari thinks it is incredibly unfair that she doesn't have any siblings outside of this house but Eddie does. Meanwhile, Eddie is very proud that he has more siblings than Mari or Trey does and is not shy about sharing it. Their two stances feed off each other like some sort of snake snacking on its own tail.

"I want BabyBrother to be my brother, too!" "No, he's my brother, not yours!" "Eddie won't share his brother! Wah!"

"Hey Mari, I have sister and Trey has a sister and you don't." "Why does Eddie get to have a sister and I don't? It's not fair!" "Ha, ha! You don't have a sister!"

It's the nature of sibling rivalry to tangle over whatever is on hand, and one of those things on hand in our home is Eddie's bonus siblings. I remember talking with Todd about birth siblings back when we were going through that first adoption process, about how it was as important to us for our kids have a relational connection with any siblings as with their first parents. I definitely did not expect to be moderating the same sorts of bickering about siblings as I do about car windows and board games and crackers. But it makes sense when I think about it. Openness allows an integration of the different pieces and people that make up our children's adoptions into our daily life and right now the kids make no distinction between family connected to them by adoption and family connected to them any other way. Even if, at this stage, that means using Eddie's family as one more thing to compete over in their ongoing sibling rivalry.

January 16, 2013

Bedroom for Two

We moved into our house six years ago now. It's the longest I've ever lived in one place as an adult, after hopping through a line of dorm rooms and rentals.

It is a fine house, and we are grateful to have it. That said, it was built in the 1970s, and it has had a few owners with terrible unusual taste since then. Both of those facts have left their marks on the house, from the popcorn ceilings in many of the rooms to the strange two-tone carpeting choice in the hall stairs. My mind (and Pinterest boards) are full of ideas for changes I'd like to make, both big and small, but, alas, time and money are not unlimited.

When baby Trey arrived, we knew we'd need to figure out the bedroom situation fairly soon, since we now had three children to fit into two bedrooms. Of all the combinations, having Mari and Eddie share a room for the next few years was the one that seemed to make the most sense (and the one they were most enthusiastic about). Snuggled together in my bed one morning, they decided on a nature theme and we set about designing what would soon be their room.

In keeping with Schade tradition, what probably would be a weekend project for some has taken us almost half a year.  Todd and I somehow managed to keep our marriage intact while putting in a tongue-and-groove ceiling (no! more! popcorn!) in an un-air conditioned house during what turned out to be the hottest week of the summer. But over the past several months walls were painted, furniture rearranged, ugly light fixtures banished, and new curtains sewn, all with Mari and Eddie making excited choices along the way.

Yesterday I was putting the finishing touches on the climbing wall mural (there is a climbing wall!) and realized that we were almost finally finished with the room. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, it's become my favorite space in our house. I love resting on the fuzzy green area rug the kids call The Grass, staring up at the wood ceiling. I love the shared sibling space with its bright, outdoors-y colors. I love that the big kids were finally old enough to help create a space they enjoy. It is the one room in our home that finally feels completely "us," and it's a reminder of the wonderful changes that happened in our family this past year that led to its creation.

This is part of the first Open Adoption Blog Hop. Bloggers are answering the question, "What is your favorite room/spot/piece of art in your home?" 

You can visit other participating blogs (and join in the fun yourself) at Open Adoption Bloggers.

January 07, 2013


Todd and I have three nephews and nieces so far, all by way of Todd's brother. Oddly, they've all been harbingers of our own three children.

First Todd's brother and sister-in-law had a baby in 2004. Then Eddie arrived in our family in 2005.

They had another baby in 2007. Marian joined our family in 2008.

After a bit of a pause, they had a third baby in 2011. When Trey unexpectedly came along in 2012, Todd and I jokingly said we should have known he was on his way, since our newest niece was now a year old. Twice is a coincidence, three times is a pattern, right?

We recently found out that our sister-in-law is expecting another baby in 2013. All I could think when the inevitable joke came about how this must mean #4 was in store for us was, "No. No no no no no. I am DONE."

I've had many people tell me that they knew when their house was full, so to speak. Whether it was after one child or two children or six, they just knew their family had reached the right number. I've always hoped I'd stumble into that same certainty, especially after my endless dithering and overthinking post-Mari, sometimes eagerly looking forward to the "big kid only" stage, other times wishing for a third child.

I know part of my present certainty is due to not wanting to relive the way I fell off the emotional cliff after Trey's placement, and I am sure part of it is due to the fact that Trey is still a giggly, smushy baby at the moment (although thisclose to being a toddler, yikes). It may very well be that I will feel differently as his babyhood slips away and it's time to give away the baby things. But perhaps not. I have already handed off the newborn cloth diapers (so wee!) with nary a pang of nostalgia or hesitation.

Whether this sureness turns out to be lasting or temporary, I know how unbelievably lucky to have reached this place. And with a deep sigh of relief, I will embrace it for as long as it lasts.

January 01, 2013

What Were the Best Posts of 2012?

Happy new year, my friends!

Now that we've written all the posts that will be written for 2012, I wanted to make sure you knew that the 2012 Best of Open Adoption Blogs submissions are open over at Open Adoption Bloggers. You can submit one post written by someone else and one post written by you (or just one by someone else, if you don't blog or don't want to include yourself on the list).

One of the things that I most like about this list (which started last year) is that it's not judged or voted on. Every submission is included. If a post resonated with you, it is one of the best of the year. There is room to celebrate all of us, both the big bloggers and the small.

The list will be published on Friday, so hurry on over by this Thursday to make your picks. There are loads more details and a link to the submission form over at the Open Adoption Bloggers blog. I'm looking forward to seeing what you include!

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