Gifts & Books
Recent blog posts
- We Are Back
- My Niece The Swimmer
- Elephant Bird -- Some Thoughts on Adoption in Dr. Seuss
- Interview With Cooperative For Education
- At Long Last, My Daughter Sleeps In Her Own Bed
- New Years Resolution: Less Talk
- School, Stress And Stomach Aches
- And The Shootings Continue...
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- New Website For Adoptive Parents Dealing With Children Who Have Learning or Emotional Issues
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As a person who cannot execute a single stroke of Butterfly much less 100 yards of it, I'm wildly impressed with my sister Deanna's three daughters, superb swimmers all. But today I brag about the one in the middle, Astrid Swensen, who successfully defended her title of Division 1 Massachusetts State Champion in 100 Fly with a new meet record of :55.4. Congratulations, Astrid! And congratulations to my sister and her husband, David, too!
Two summers ago, Astrid competed in the Olympic Trials, a thrilling experience for our entire family. Because I'd like to remember those days myself, I'm reposting two blogs I wrote about my sisters' family and their dedication to swimming. Thanks for reading, and GO ASTRID!
Each of my nieces and nephews is unique, special, and talented in her or his own way, and I love and adore them all. But this blog post tells a little story about my sister Deanna's middle child, Astrid.
In December 2010, I stayed for a week with Deanna and her family--Astrid and her two sisters, Mackenzie and Mia, and De's husband David--in Boston, where they live, while I was touring New England for my Mamalita Book Tour. I probably don't have to tell you that Boston in winter is cold, and I mean frigid. Even after piling on multiple layers of down and fleece, including gloves and hat, I never stopped shivering.
But every morning at 5 AM, in the bedroom next to mine, an alarm would go off. As I burrowed more deeply under my covers, I could hear my niece Astrid rustle around quietly before tiptoeing down the stairs to the kitchen, where her father David clutched two mugs of steaming hot tea. David was waiting to drive his daughter to swim practice, and had already warmed up the car.
Off they'd go, so Astrid could swim a few thousand yards, with David, himself a former collegiate swimmer, helping coach the team. A full day at high school for Astrid followed, and afterwards, for good measure, another two hours in the pool.
As any parent with a child knows, you can't "make" someone practice like that. That kind of fierce determination comes from inside. A child either wants to, or she doesn't. And ever since she was a little girl, Astrid has wanted to. She still does.
I find that utterly, impressively amazing.
As I write this, Astrid and her family are in Omaha, Nebraska for the Olympic Swimming Trials. Astrid's event, the 200 Fly, will take place on Thursday, June 28, around 10 AM Central Standard Time.
Sending best wishes to Astrid, her family, and her teammates. You've earned this. ~
Our Guestblogger is Rakefet, an Israeli woman with two internationally adopted children.
My 10-year-old son is currently performing in Seussical, a musical play based on the books of Dr. Seuss. The play inspired me to take a new look at a Dr. Seuss book familiar to me since my own childhood.
I first met Horton the Elephant when I was four or five years old. Horton Hatches the Egg was then, and remains, a popular choice for reading aloud at libraries and in early elementary classes. From the first, I loved the big, gentle elephant with such steadfast principles.
Here is a recap of the book's plot. It starts when a nesting bird named Mayzie persuades Horton the Elephant to sit on her egg for a little while. Mayzie is fed up with the responsibility of caring for it and wants a vacation. She promises Horton to "hurry right back," but actually abandons the egg altogether. Horton is left to care for it through great adversity. He braves storms and freezing weather, taunting friends, and finally being captured by hunters, then sold and put on display in a circus. Through it all Horton continues to diligently sit on and care for the egg.
Almost a year passes while Horton continues his struggles and Mayzie remains on extended vacation. Then Mayzie wanders into the circus, just as the egg is starting to hatch. She demands her egg back, now that the hard work of hatching it is over, and Horton reluctantly agrees. But the hatchling turns out be an elephant bird with a trunk, ears and a tail like Horton's. Everyone recognizes that Horton is the true parent. A delighted Horton is seen returning home with his child.
The Cooperative for Education, an NGO that works in Guatemala, interviewed me about my memoir, Mamalita, and our connection to our children’s birth country.
Below, I’ve pasted the opening paragraph:
Jessica O’Dwyer knows Guatemala. She and her husband Tim adopted two children, Olivia and Mateo, from the land of eternal spring. Her memoir, Mamalita, is a beautiful account of her dogged pursuit to complete Olivia’s stalled adoption—even quitting her job to move to Antigua! In the past 12 years, Jessica and her family have been back to visit Guatemala many times, and have intentionally cultivated a connection with their children’s country of birth. We interviewed Jessica about writing the book and the ways in which she stays connected with Guatemala. Enjoy! -
My daughter has been sleeping with us since she was 18 months old. It began when she would wake up at night and scream every time I tried to put her back into her own bed. Exhausted and frustrated, I would bring her into our bed whereupon she would fall into a deep, quiet sleep.
We continued with this arrangement so we could all have a good night’s sleep. However as the years rolled by and our daughter got older, we started missing the privacy of our own bedroom. When we moved into our new home almost three years ago, we decided it was time to end this co-sleeping arrangement.
The new arrangement entailed her starting the night out in her own bed. If she awoke and wanted to be near us, she would sleep on a mattress beside our bed. Initially our daughter was excited at the prospect of sleeping by herself, but that enthusiasm wore out the first night when she cried all night on the mattress begging me to let her into our bed. This continued for over a week until my husband and I relented. We were convinced that she was not ready to sleep alone.