Wednesday, November 30, 2005

North Carolina Adoption Story

Hearts that can leap the world

With the ease of a master chef, Pete Cangemi prepared herb-crusted fish, pasta with a creamy sauce and bruschetta for his wife, Eileen, and their three daughters: Raeann, 5, Stephanie, 3, and Alexis, 15 months...

On the night of the 2000 Super Bowl, Pete watched as Dan Marino and his wife hosted a segment on their adoption of a child from China, including video of the orphanage from which the child had come. "That kind of clinched it for Pete," said Eileen.

Funny thing, I remember that spot during the Super Bowl. It was at a time before we were considering China for adoption, but it definitely stuck with me. It's probably the only thing I have in common with Dan Marino.

Some good being done at UT

As much as it pains me, I need to link to this story in The Daily Texan (University of Texas student newspaper) which talks about their China Care program to help adopted children reconnect with their heritage:
The UT chapter of China Care is part of a national organization that was founded by Harvard student Matt Dalio in 2000. The group helps American families with the financial stress of adopting a child, sponsors the Saturday afternoon playgroup for adopted children and also helps pay for medical care and surgery for orphans who have disabilities or special needs.

Incidentally, UT beat my beloved Aggies last Friday in the annual rivalry game. This is becoming a common occurrence, vastly different from when I was at A&M when we beat Texas 8 out of 9 9 out of 10 times. What goes around, comes around. UT hired a great coach in Mack Brown, who appears vastly superior to A&M's Dennis Franchione, and he's really made a difference. Some Aggies might get mad at me for saying this, but I hope UT wins the national championship, if for no other reason than to make the conference look good, same as when Oklahoma was winning a few years back. So for one game, I say: Hook 'em!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Michigan Adoption Story

Alison at home
Little Alison has traveled far in the past nine months, not only from China to the Simpson home in Freeland but in the Americanization of the bubbly, boisterous preschooler.

She hit the ground running when parents Don and Vikki Simpson brought her home in an international adoption in early March, and if she hasn't experienced something in the months since, well, she's quick to borrow memories from her brothers and sister.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Missouri Adoption Story

Coach trades cleats for a new baby
After 19 years of inspiring high school football players to do their best, Farmington High School Head Football Coach John Bacon is resigning.

“We hate to lose him,” Farmington Athletic Director Pat Burns said. “He's a quality person and treats the kids well. I think that shows in how our kids have played on the field the last few seasons.”

Bacon announced his resignation on Tuesday, saying that he and his wife, Tina Betz-Bacon, plan to adopt a child from China.
Sometimes, football just isn't that important.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I'm dreaming of a...

...white Thanksgiving! Nope, we sure weren't expecting this:

This is our deck at around 9:30 PM, the day before Thanksgiving. Normally, I take in the chairs and cover the table around December 1 so that they...don't get snow on them. Looks like I'm too late. Good thing there's no school tomorrow, otherwise it would be cancelled. I guess I'll have to hitch up the sled dogs for our trip to Baltimore tomorrow. Wish us luck.

Wine for Thanksgiving

UCLA law professor, and wine connoisseur, Stephen Bainbridge, has done us the public service of suggesting American wines we might consider serving with our Thanksgiving meal. He makes a good point in that many wines, red and white, pair well with turkey. The problem comes with the supporting cast. What goes with savory stuffing and yams infused with sweet marshmallows? The mind reels.

Since the job of bringing the wine falls to us this year, I was going to find the cheapest plonk I could get away with. Now, I’ll probably print out his recommendations and take them to the local Total Wine store. Our family doesn’t know how lucky they are.

Massachusetts Adoption Story

Love comes home to Norwood
Though they were born half a world away into a different culture, the King children are no different than a typical American child, thumbing through the pages of a children's book or playing with their toys.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"What you didn’t know about adoption"

Terry Garlock writes for The Citizen in Fayetteville, Georgia. He and his wife are also the adoptive parent of two Chinese girls and he's written a column about adoption to commemorate National Adoption Month. I'm not sure I share his pessimism regarding the domestic adoption process, but he makes some good points.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Utah Adoption Story

Adoption option: Lindon family adopts three from China
The last three of Adriana Cassani's pregnancies were increasingly more difficult, but even with five children at home, she and her husband, David, felt their family was not complete. Today, three adopted Chinese children make their family a perfect 10.

"A Quilt of Wishes"

Local mom writes a warm welcome
When Lake Samish-area resident Teresa Orem Werner received a picture of the daughter she would eventually adopt from China, she felt an immediate connection.

She was also concerned for her daughter-to-be, who was thousands of miles away.

Who was watching over her in the orphanage? Was she cuddled often? Was she cared for when she was sick?

Orem Werner describes those feelings and the love of a mother waiting to meet her new daughter in her new book "A Quilt of Wishes," which is illustrated by former Bellingham resident Nathan Tremlin.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

"The Best One"

Jeanne Marie Laskas has written a great essay in the "Significant Others" section of the Washington Post Magazine. Yes, I know it's the Sunday magazine. Yes, I know today is Saturday. Let's just say I have all the right friends.

The article is called "The Baby Game" (free WaPo registration required) and it's about Robin and David, friends of the author and her husband, and their being led to adopt a child from China. Mrs. Laskas and her husband, Alex, had adopted two girls from China and their friends had questions about how the children bond with their new parents. A reasonable concern, which Laskas addresses with a touch of humor.

My favorite quote from the article:

Then my husband, Alex, piped in with the embarrassing story of what he blurted out on the bus one day in China shortly after we got Anna. We were with eight other couples, all of whom had likewise just received their babies. "So," Alex yelled. "Does everyone think they got the best one?" It was so crass and so true, and we all fell into uncomfortable laughter. There we were, adoring our babies -- even feeling a bit sorry for others in that they were not blessed with the privilege of parenting this princess, this empress, this most amazing creature to ever grace the planet -- and there, as it turned out, everyone else was likewise entranced with their own little burp machine. "You'll see," Alex said to Robin and David. "You'll see."



A few days ago, friend and fellow blogger Tim referenced an article about a restaurant with a “No Rowdy Kids” policy, which policy was made clear by a sign in the window stating:

Children of all ages will have to behave and use their indoor voices when they come to A Taste of Heaven

Some parents weren’t too pleased with this rule and tried to organize a boycott. The restaurateur was unrelenting and I commented that it was his right to keep his restaurant “brat free”. The parents are free to take their little angels to Chuck E. Cheese’s or some other place that doesn’t have such a policy.

Last night we got to see how Ally behaved in a place that definitely was not Chuck E. Cheese’s.

There is a good Italian restaurant nearby called Zeffirelli’s. Actually, there are two. The original Zeffirelli’s is quite nice. Reservations are a must, many people go there for a nice evening out. We’ve been there a couple of times, before we had Ally. The newer location was not quite so upscale, at least it wasn’t the first time Lauren and I tried it, just after it opened, again before we had Ally. I don’t know what it was about it but it just didn’t have the feel of the original Zef’s.

Anyway, we had a coupon for ten dollars off, at the new location only, so we thought it worth trying again. We walk in and were struck by how different the place looked. Why, it appeared downright fancy. And you know what they did to achieve this?

They dimmed the lights.

I’m quite sure that’s it. Everything else was pretty much the same. If you want to add a star or two to your rating, just turn the lights down. The darker the better.

Oh, and there were no other kids. In fact, I don’t think there was anyone under the age of thirty eating there. They had two high chairs, which didn’t look like they’d been used since the place opened. Ally’s graduated to a booster. They had one of those. Took ‘em a while to find it.

So we sit down and notice there is no kid’s menu. We sort of count on the kid’s menu with crayons so Ally can occupy herself in the meantime. It was okay, she was busy looking around the place, admiring the dim lights. And she could have some of what we ate; the portions are big enough to share.

Ally has had one restaurant meltdown. It happened this past summer when we were on vacation in Myrtle Beach. For some reason, she just would not calm down. Squirming, crying, the whole bit. We couldn’t figure out what was wrong so I told my wife to place my order while I carried the screaming flailing child outside to the parking lot. Some parents wouldn’t be embarrassed by such behavior. I am. I have this old fashioned belief that other people shouldn’t be subjected to your hysterical kid. I’m funny like that.

It took her a good fifteen minutes to calm down. I was ready to grab some fast food and call it an evening, but she finally simmered down.

I’m always afraid it will happen again, but it hasn’t.

And it didn’t last night. Ally was such a good patron, one of the waiters (not ours) came over and said that in his nineteen years in this business, he could count on the fingers of one hand the number of children her age who’ve been as well behaved.

Ahem. Excuse me while I act all proud and stuff. “Why yes, she graduated top of her class at finishing school”, I said. Seriously, we don’t know why she is the way she is and other kids are, well, not. I hope we’ve had something to do with that, but I’m thinking that it’s just her personality. That and the whole thing about girls being more mature than boys (which, by the way, continues into adulthood.)

Anyhow, I think we’re ready for A Taste of Heaven. Bring it on.

Friday, November 18, 2005

China's Persecution of Christians Continues Apace

Report: China Arrests Priests, Seminarians

Chinese authorities have arrested a priest and 10 seminarians from that nation's underground Roman Catholic Church, a Vatican-affiliated news agency said Friday...

The Rev. Yang Jianwei and the seminarians were detained Nov. 12 in Xushui City in Hebei province, a traditional stronghold of Catholic sentiment in northern China, AsiaNews reported.

Six of the seminarians were released later, but Yang and the four others remain in police custody, it said...

The latest arrests apparently came shortly after security forces detained Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo, 70, from the non-government controlled Catholic church for the eighth time in two years, a U.S.- based monitoring group said Nov. 10...

Religious groups say Jia has been repeatedly detained over his refusal to affiliate himself with the Communist Party-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association, which rejects Vatican authority over issues such as the naming of bishops.

China broke ties with the Vatican in 1951 and demands that Catholics worship only in churches approved by a state-controlled church group that does not recognize the pope's authority.

Worship is allowed only in government-controlled churches, which recognize the pope as a spiritual leader but appoint their own priests and bishops.

Many Chinese Catholics, however, remain loyal to the Vatican and risk arrest by worshipping in unofficial churches and private homes. They are frequently harassed, fined and sometimes sent to labor camps.

The government's Catholic church claims 4 million believers. The Cardinal Kung Foundation, a U.S.-based religious monitoring group, says the unofficial church of Chinese loyal to Rome has 12 million followers.

Pope Benedict XVI has been reaching out to Beijing in a bid to bring all Chinese Catholics under Rome's wing. China has said it would like better relations with the Holy See, but it wants the Vatican to cut its diplomatic ties to Taiwan.

China has every reason to worry about such renegade groups of believers becoming larger and more organized, considering what has happened in recent years across Eastern Europe with the "color" revolutions.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


I wish I had as much time on my hands as this woman (NYT registration required), who tears through about three Penguin Classics a week:

In September, Ms. Gursky received a birthday gift from her husband that earned her the envy of her book-loving friends: the complete collection of the Penguin Classics Library, 1,082 books sold only by for nearly $8,000...

Not since Penguin started the collection in 1946, however, has anyone been able to easily compile or purchase a complete set of the books, which range from ancient Greek poetry to the novels of Thomas Pynchon and include the complete works of Shakespeare, four translations of the "Iliad," 20 volumes each of the works of Henry James and Dickens. (The complete list can be found at by searching for "Penguin Classics Library.")...

Ms. Gursky's collection arrived in mid-September packed in 25 boxes, shrink-wrapped on a pallet and weighing nearly 700 pounds. Since then, Ms. Gursky has spent countless hours unpacking, shelving, categorizing, alphabetizing and rearranging the books. Oh, yes - and reading; she said she had completed more than 30 of the books in the last eight weeks. Even at that rather remarkable pace, it would take her about six years to make her way through the entire collection...

Put Ms. Gursky in the serious-reading camp. "I probably had already read 20 to 25 percent of the books on the list at some point," Ms. Gursky said. "But I like to reread books, and I like to own books I can go back and reread."

Ms. Gursky earned a master's degree in library science at the University of Chicago before returning to Los Alamos, her hometown, and shortly thereafter got a job as a librarian at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where her husband, Richard Bolton, is a physicist. She now works in database support for the laboratory.

"We don't own a TV set," Ms. Gursky said, by way of explaining how she has had time to read a new book roughly every two days since the collection arrived. With four cats but no children, "we don't have anything better to do" than read, she said...

Ms. Gursky discounts those arguments, particularly the paperback one, noting that a collection of 1,082 hardcovers would have been prohibitively expensive. As it is, Amazon's price of $7,989.50 for the collection is discounted by 40 percent (plus free shipping) from a list price of $13,315.84.

Let's see...lives in Los Alamos, married to a physicist, no TV, no kids. If that were my life, I'd probably read all the time, too. I wonder if she'll keep up her blistering pace when she gets to War and Peace and The Brothers Karamazov, which I've had for two years and still haven't finished.

Canadian Adoption Story

McBride couple makes international adoption a reality
Kroy and Susan Christison of McBride have adopted a little girl from China.

The couple brought one-year-old Bronwyn home on October 20 after a two-week stay in China for the three to become adjusted to one another and to finish the paperwork.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Missisippi Adoption Story

The Chosen Ones ... Stories of Adoption
In October the Hardins traveled to Guangrxi, China with the trip planned by Children’s Hope International. Their two weeks in the country was filled with travels exposing them to the culture of their new daughter. They visited the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and other attractions.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


The Born To Run: 30th Anniversary 3-Disc set was released today. It includes a re-mastered Born To Run as well as with two DVDs: a 1975 concert at London's Hammersmith Odeon and a "making of" documentary.

It's already on my wish list.

Best rock album ever. I can't believe it was released thirty years ago. I wasn't introduced to it until I was in high school, in the late 70s. That it appealed to a kid growing up in suburban Long Island is testimony to its wide appeal. That it still sounds as fresh today is testimony to its incredible staying power.

Move it

This article in today's Washington Post should be motivation enough for me to start running seriously again:

A Daily Workout Could Add 4 Years to Life, Study Says

Trouble is, you have to spend four years working out to add four years to your life.

I'm starting to feel the urge to do another marathon. I told my wife I wanted to run Baltimore and she gave me a look like I was crazy. It's been two years since my last one and I still feel like I can do it. Thing is, the training goes for about four months, where I'm running almost every day. Easy to do when you don't have kids. Hard to do when you're having fun playing with the little one.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Ally voted today:

Two-year-olds voting: it's not just in Chicago anymore. All right, she insisted on grabbing dad's sticker. And yes that is juice on her shirt. I could have Photoshopped it out, but here at Speaking of Non Sequiturs, we're keeping it real! My daughter sometimes spills juice and I don't care who knows about it. Deal.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Our Persian cat, Ash, is ten years old today. We "adopted" him on January 1, 1996, about five months after we were married. I wish I could say he's grown into a sweet lovable companion but the truth is he's quite the surly misanthrope. More often than not he will either ignore or run away and hide from most people.

Except for me. He will, when the mood strikes him, take advantage of my prone state and park his 14 pound carcass on my chest, stick his butt in my face and knead me with his claws while making himself comfortable. He has never done this with my wife, or anyone else. Why he bonded only with me is a mystery. Here is a picture of him in his most common position, i.e., one of repose:

The reason his hair is so short is because we had him shaved a couple of months back. Since he won't allow us to brush or comb him, without biting or slashing us in the process, we take him to the groomer when his mats get too thick. Here's one from when he was a kitten, probably taken weeks after we got him:

You wouldn't think he'd grow to be such a stinker, would you?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A Virginia adoption story

Here's a story from last year about a local couple who adopted a little girl from China. You might recognize them:

International adoption on the rise


You think I would have known that this is National Adoption Month. I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that I didn't find out until today. At least it wasn't at the end of the month.

In recognition of this fact, I'll try and post more adoption-related articles and stories as I come across them. To get things started off, check out China Adoption News, run by someone who does a very good job of keeping me, and many others, apprised of what's happening in China and in the adoption community.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Child eats brussel sprouts! (In other news, pigs fly)

Ewwww. Don’t they look gross? Who would ever eat brussel sprouts?

Ally would.

Last night I made a couple of nice steaks served with a merlot sauce (Beringer Founders’ Merlot 2002; overpriced at $8, so don’t waste your money) and rosemary potatoes. I thought some brussel sprouts would make a good side dish, so I bought some. My wife wasn’t too excited but said she’d try one. So I boiled them in salted water for about 8 minutes, tossed them with butter and fresh black pepper and…they were a hit. Lauren wanted more.

Then I decided to press my luck with Ally. I’m always surprised by what foods she likes, like lettuce. She can’t get enough. Mushrooms, peas, carrots, green beans: all good. Dislikes are few, onions and peppers being the most notable. So I gave her a small piece of a sprout and she ate it. Feeling audacious, I gave her more. She gobbled them up. I guess we can add another vegetable to the list of “likes”.