Category Archives: Traditions


There is a lush fully-in-bloom orange rose that sits on our kitchen island. Every time I walk into or past the kitchen I see it—the constant reminder that my son has graduated from high school and that this is our summer of transition. We received the rose the evening of Holden’s graduation. Orange, representing one of his school’s colors. The rose for remembrance.

Always one to reflect, I find that I do so more since he has graduated. I think back to how active he was inside of me, craving refried beans, red meat (I don’t eat meat) and fatty foods. He entered this world a planned two weeks early, small and active, ready to forge ahead and he has never stopped. When young he used to line up all of his “guys” just under the fold of his covers, their little faces peeking out along with his as I read bedtime stories to him and the “guys.” And I remember his imaginary friend Peter, although he doesn’t.

Holden began dancing around the age of five, copying N’Sync’s moves and adding to his repertoire. In short order he began to take his boom box (remember those?) around with him in our neighborhood and on vacations, putting out an orange bucket that had “Tips” scrawled on the outside in black permanent marker, while he entertained others with his dancing. I don’t know how great the dancing actually was, but the entertainment value was priceless and he accrued those tips.

Holden exhibited early that he had great compassion and affinity for others. He was available to assist people with tasks, provide translation, and tutor children in younger grades. He also showed a voracious appetite for friendship and life, valuing loyalty and someone’s word.

Time this year has flown. Time with Holden—between studying, athletics, friends, other activities, and exams—has been fleeting. We have, as always, savored what little we have had. Holden stands at the threshold of a rite of passage, excited and prepared to be away from home and at college. We stand there as well, but with a different perspective—with great pride and sadness of separation. Most of our job is done and we hope that we have done it well. We will miss him.

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Filed under Family, Family Celebrations, Growing Tweens & Teens, Parenting, Rite of Passage, The International Mom, Traditions

At the Beach

The decision to spend time at our beach “home” came late, only several weeks before spring break commenced. Due to the busyness of life, we truly hadn’t put any thought into traveling until then.

The focus has been college. All year→ college.  This school year has been nothing short of intense. I can say that Holden has narrowed down his wonderful options and will likely make his decision as soon as we return home.

In the mean time, we enjoy what is seemingly the last family spring break for years to come. College, primary and secondary school breaks rarely match up. The kids are aware of this…

Me? Well, I alternate between feeling wistful and proud. And I also feel selfish, wanting more time to:

  • Be with my kids, watching them with that fascinating absorption a new parent has, soaking them in and memorizing their interactions with one another in my mind to recall later when I miss him and all of them together—giggling, hunched over a competitive board game (we play a lot of board games), or playing bocce and soccer on the beach.
  • Appreciate their siblingness—how they champion for one another, learn from and teach each other with subtle and not-so-subtle lessons. How they really like and love one another and seek to spend time together. Someday, when Mark and I are gone, they will only have each other and it is important that they understand this.

Parenting is challenging (an understatement) and often we question ourselves about how effective we are at preparing our kids for their futures. But when we have time away from the chaos, time where we can really “listen”—sinking deep into the bosom of our families devoid of all of the “white noise”—hopefully we will see that indeed we are doing alright.


Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Family, Growing Tweens & Teens, Multiracial Families, The International Mom, Traditions

Chinese New Year is Here!

We have been busy preparing for our second New Year celebration of 2011, Chinese New Year, which kicks off today, February 3rd. Aside from hanging scrolls, lanterns, and dragons around the house; we cleaned—to keep the good energy/spirits within our home, significantly encouraging good fortune for 2011. We will be making and eating an abundance of Chinese food (especially long noodles for a long life) this weekend when we get together and celebrate with families who have also adopted from China.

We’ve been doing this for years, ever since our oldest daughters joined our families. Most of our daughters are now teens and, if possible, more excited about this important cultural holiday because they understand and enjoy the significance as well as being actively involved in it. The girls help with the many dishes we will share and eat, but their favorite is the preparation and steaming of the dumplings. In fact, if the parents and younger kids don’t pay attention, they may miss tasting the fare because the girls tend to eat the dumplings soon as they’re ready.

For our family, Chinese New Year is just as important as Día de los Tres Reyes, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other cultural and religious events and holidays. And, for the first time ever, we’ve had conflicts for our time. There was no question as to what we should do; the other activities were dropped. As a multicultural family we made it clear that Chinese New Year was the priority.

This is the Year of the Rabbit, the fourth sign in the Chinese Zodiac. According to the Chinese Zodiac, people born in the year of the Rabbit are the luckiest. Their lives begin and end well. Rabbits are nimble, quick, cautious, and clever. Even though they may appear frail and gentle, they are strong-minded and willed.

The Chinese zodiac calendar follows a sexagesimal (sixty-year) life cycle. As I pointed out in an earlier post, Aubry begins her second celestial stem (“second twelve”) of her first life cycle this year.

2011 is the Golden Rabbit, a year in which we can catch our breath and focus on calm. We look forward to replenishing ourselves and our chi (energy) and living in the moment with those who bring immense joy and light into our lives. And, if you are also celebrating the Chinese New Year, Gong Xi Fa Cai!

恭喜發財 (Congratulations and Prosperity!)


Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, China, Cultural Awareness, Family Celebrations, Identity, International Adoption, Multicultural Families, The International Mom, Traditions