I’m having one of those days where I feel like I’m failing in every possible way; that, as I said on Twitter, God probably tried to call me to be a desert hermit back in my early 20’s but I wasn’t listening and now I’ve screwed it all up by trying to interact with other human beings. For whatever reason I continue to have an irrational preoccupation with the worry that our Kidsave child Rita isn’t HAVING FUN, and on days like today when everyone is overtired and it seems like one of the kids is screaming at all times and I just don’t have the energy to deal well, I project all sorts of “oh man this place sucks” thoughts onto Rita.
I think that a big part of it is that when someone lives with you, there’s no way you can keep up a facade for too long. It’s painful when you get to that point where the last shreds of the image of you that you’d like for others to have of you gets washed away, and you’re left standing there with only the real you — flaws and everything — to offer. Every day Rita sees more and more that I’m terrible about keeping up with laundry, there are often still lunch dishes sitting out at dinner time, I’m inconsistent with discipline with the kids and all too often I’m still on the computer 30 minutes after I opened my laptop to “just spend a couple minutes on email.” Though overall we’re a happy family, there are plenty of moments where my son is talking back and the baby is crying and my two toddler girls are in a screeching argument over some toy where it seems like we’re anything but. Rita is seeing — and I’m seeing as I look at our life through her eyes — that our family is far from perfect. As I said last week, there are a lot of days where truly the only thing I can offer her is love.
On a brighter note, I love these Hip in a Hurry decals I got at Target for the wall in Rita’s room.
They’re removable vinyl decorations that look like they’re painted on. (This is a bad picture — in real life you don’t see that glare that the flash caused.) It was a wonderfully quick way to add a bit of cheer to the blank white wall in her room.
A fantastic professional photographer named Kevin Gourley came to the house earlier this week to do a free portrait of Rita to support the Kidsave mission. While he was here I hired him to go ahead and take my portrait as well since I often need a headshot for articles and other media stuff. I decided to go for the intellectual look and have him take the shot with my wooden bookshelves in the background. You know, that way everyone would see how studious and smart I am.
When he sent me the proofs later that day, I saw that the most prominent book, right behind my head, was a bright yellow “DUMMIES” book. A little lesson from God on trying to seem smart.
One of the challenges I’ve faced with Rita here is simply adjusting to the Colombian way of eating. In Colombia, they always have big lunches and only eat a few bites for dinner. In our house it’s just the opposite — lunch is usually just a glorified snack, and dinner is the big meal of the day.
I found out the hard way that if they don’t eat much of a lunch, Colombians won’t make up for it at dinner since they can’t sleep well if they’ve had a big meal (i.e. your guests GO TO BED HUNGRY and you feel like disorganized slacker for not getting them a proper lunch). For some reason I manage to be caught off guard by this every single day, remembering at the last minute that Rita would like a big lunch, preferably with a cooked meat as the main course. Luckily she is very sweet and patient and has taken it in stride that lunch often consists of me throwing some Cheetos sloppy PBJ’s on the table while bouncing the baby on my hip.
I love how much we’ve learned about another culture through this experience. In particular, we’ve learned that we really like Colombian food. I was surprised at how completely dissimilar it is from Mexican food: Colombian food is almost never spicy (the Kidsave girls and chaperone don’t like the local Tex-Mex cuisine at all) and involves lots of starches like rice and corn and potatoes.
Also, I’ve discovered an excellent quick and tasty Saint-Diet-friendly Colombian recipe: scrambled eggs with rice. I just make some rice in the rice cooker, scramble a few eggs and throw the rice in at the last few seconds of cooking. Simple and delicious!
Wednesday morning we had to be at the Kidsave coordinator’s house at 5:45 AM for an interview for the local news. Reporter Heidi Zhou and her camera man could not have been nicer, even giving the kids tours of the news van after the interview. The interviews involved walking a fine line since we host families wanted to advocate for the kids, but we’re not supposed to talk about the possibility of adoption in front of them (so that they don’t get their hopes up in case they don’t find families). I think that Heidi handled it all really well.
Oh, and here’s a tip: When the host is looking at the camera and talking to a producer at the station and then suddenly goes quiet, that is NOT your cue to get bored and start making silly faces at the camera for the producer. The host has stopped talking because you’re LIVE ON THE AIR and she’s waiting while the anchor announces your segment. A little lesson learned the hard way.
A lot of people have asked if we have any leads on finding a “forever family” for Rita yet. Due to privacy concerns I can’t give any details, but I will say that we still need a lot of prayers in that department.
I look forward to reading your posts!