What a photo shoot with AARP looks like: the aren’t we FAB edition

 

Shoot location 1: the ice cream shop.
Shoot location 1: the ice cream shop.

Recently an editor at AARP magazine contacted me to see if we would be willing to be part of a photo shoot about the “Modern American Family”. After several emails back and forth, and lots of clarifying questions we agreed. The huge bonus here was the travel allowance to get four out of five of Shrek’s available children in town for the shoot. They came from as far as San Francisco, and as near as up the street for hair, make up, and click, click, snap, snap for a good part of last Sunday.

But why us? Well apparently we evened out an upcoming story for the boomers on family today-both regionally and in terms of the composition of our blended family in the making. Here’s a few stanzas from a poem I wrote to honor the occasion that might further answer the question:

Remember we want to capture
the nine of you at ease
so the rest of the world
sees the “modern family”
wait, wait that’s it-

freeze

Adoption, blended family
transracial, known donor insemination,
divorce, first marriage at 46, second
marriage at 61, run of the mill,
click-click-snap-snap
kind of thing

Everyone look this way
Relax
Get closer
On 3, 2, 1:

See-family is click click

snap-snap: synonymous
with eating an ice cream cone

as long as it complements the color of your shirt.

The experience was a complete hoot really. (Leading up to it there was definitely some free floating anxiety about just how one is supposed to present as a modern family in the making…) But once we were all here there was  some very sweet family bonding around the edges of it all. The photographers Gregg, and Tom, and Caitlin the glamorous make up artist or “groomer” were part of the blend by the time the shoot was complete. Five thousand tons of delicious food were delivered for our lunch and in six weeks or so the issue will appear.

I was also interviewed over the phone for the story, and am super hopeful that a link to Mama C and the Boys might be included in the copy. Since the magazine boasts the largest readership in the world, it might mean a little boost in readership? For our “trouble” we will also receive a few prints from the day to mark this surprising and magical moment in time beautifully.

 

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Manuscript news and a poem’s premiere

Cover page
Cover page

I am asking for some good vibes out there in Mama C ville. I have sent my “manuscript” (which is actually ten of my poems) out to three different venues. The first two are competitions. I won’t say where, or when so that I don’t end up having one of you being the judge, or married to her, but both are big deals. The third is a residency that Shrek is wildly supportive of me going to if I get accepted. Again, I will wait to give out any identifying details until I know one way or the other. I am just thrilled that I am collecting my work, all or most of which you read here first into a larger body of work to be taken in as a whole. It is time.

I am also organizing a night of readings on race in April locally.

The word I chose to organize 2013 around for myself, is SEEN.  This feels so powerfully important to me suddenly. More on that principal, and how all of us are working on it at the house soon.

In the meantime another world premiere of a Mama C poem which I wrote a few weeks ago. The form is the pantoum, one that I worked on with my students, and they loved it. Several of the lines repeat, so you are only writing 8 lines for a 16 line poem. Give or take a line depending on your style. Enjoy, and thank you always for your support and encouragement. It means so much to me.

A Rushing Pantoum

Always rushed.
Can I have a cuddle?
There is no time for a cuddle now.
Stop pounding on your brother.

Can I have a cuddle?
Where are my car keys?!?
Stop pounding on your brother.
When does do it differently begin?

Where are my car keys?!?
Soon they’ll have their own rides.
When does do it differently begin?
Watching them drive away from me.

Soon they’ll have their own rides.
There is no time for a cuddle now.
Watching them drive away from me.
With a suitcase of everything I didn’t have time for.

-C Anderson 2013

Wearing a hoodie and sweatpants or…

Wearing exactly what Trayvon was wearing, as he was described by his killer on the 911 call.

I wasn’t going to post this picture of my son, because it felt so intimate somehow. So innocent, sweet, and like I needed to protect it.

Then in my grief and confusion this week upon learning about another parent’s loss of their innocent, sweet, and hoodie wearing little boy, who they can no longer protect, I realized it was the least I could and should do, because their son Trayvon is my son Sam.

If you haven’t already signed the petition, or acted in some way to bring justice to the young man, who looked just like Sammy, only he was ten years older, and armed with a bag of candy for his little brother when he was shot dead, please do so here.

Love Isn’t Enough has a special Trayvon edition here.

Because Trayvon is ALL OF OUR SONS.

I lay awake at night praying that my sons will know what to do, when someone asks them what they are doing there, or in this car, or on that sidewalk with a tone they must recognize immediately as needing to know in a particular kind of way or else.  How will I, the white mama have any idea how to raise them to know what a white man might intend to do to them if they don’t know the right way to act, or else.

Trayvon was just seventeen years old, walking to the store to buy his little brother some candy,  talking to his friend on the phone, visiting his father in a gated community in Florida. His killer, a community watchman, has had no charges brought against him, after admitting to shooting and killing Trayvon 24 days ago.

Please join us in keeping national attention on the injustice. Please join me, in doing our part as parents of Trayvons everywhere to insist that a child is a child, is a child. A child is our responsibility to protect.

3/25/2012 I am adding a link to this post at Rage Against the Mini Van titled “Required Reading on the killing of Trayvon Martin

+++

My deepest sorrow reaches out to his parents, and as well to the parents of the Jewish children, and the family of the Jewish father shot in Toulouse, France Monday, another blatant act of racism and hatred. It is all unfathomable.

Sammy Saturday: It’s that easy

A 5 Star Day Ticket/ Mama C and the Boys

Me: What is this? Can you explain this to your audience?
Sam: 5 Stars. Me. 1-2-3-4-5. It was easy.

Me: Can we talk about this for your Saturday post?
Sam: I have a post every Saturday?
Me: Yes. If you’d like to.
Sam: Oh brother.

Me: Twice in one week, Sam. That is so great. What made it easier this week? It seems like it’s been a great week, start to finish.
Sam: I got the last star for helping my teacher pack up my folder at the end of the day.
Me: Is that not a great time for you usually?
Sam:  Actually that’s right. And I am done talking about this.

Me: One last question?
Sam: Oh brother. OK. What?
Me: How did you do it? I mean what is the thing, besides me offering to double the contents of your savings jar each time?
Sam: The dollars. I want to buy myself something.
Me: OK. But babe, what did you differently today? You said it was easy? Why? If you think about it, it might make it easier, and easier, if you keep doing the thing you did well today. That’s why I am asking.

Sam: (after a long pause) I looked at the kids who were listening and I did what they were doing.

***

Teaching a six year old to be self reflective about his good behavior is not easy. Actually, teaching a forty-two year old the same thing is proving hard for his mother. The above conversation is actually three conversations over the afternoon and evening knit together.

Sammy’s “star chart” was put in place at the beginning of kindergarten to help Sam pay attention to the importance of listening to directions (my words, not the teacher’s) the first time. The school reward: fifteen minutes of computer time at the end of the day.

The frequency of reaching the coveted 5 stars? On average Sam would bring home a 5 star day, about once every two weeks. In a one more last ditch attempt to amp up the allure of it working, I offered to double the contents of Sam’s saving jar each time he received the full five stars this week. (His teacher is amazing, and has maintained faith in the plan. Her goal: make it obsolete. Let’s just hope I don’t have to take out a new line of credit to get there!) A great chance to talk about exponential growth, and encourage him to start saving and actively listening again.

When and if did you bring a monetary reward into play? I’m sure people have big thoughts on the issue. For us, I have to say, it had undeniable results. And, yes, the doubling offer, was a one week deal. Which begs the question, what will I do next week?

Working on it Wednesday: Adoption Symposium/poll

Mama C and the Boys/ Thinking about the warmer months!

I am working on a proposal for this Open Adoption Symposium in Richmond, Virginia in September 2011.

I want to present a not to be missed event. So I need your help. I am asking you to help me present some convincing evidence for the organizers; “I polled my readers and they said…”

So if you could hang out with me for forty-five minutes-to an hour–what would you want me to speak to in the adoption related arena?

I am asking this based on my posts, my voice and my experience as you know it. Also open to ideas I have not thought of! Thanks so much for the help.  (And thanks for this post, on how easy it is to create a poll.) Now, go work on your own proposal so we can all hang out together!

We’ll take the month…

From the archives, a family favorite

Adoption Month is a funny thing. You know, how every day is Mother’s Day, really.  So why do we set aside just one day? So, yes, I’ll take an entire month to celebrate openly, and with fanfare and intention the first best thing that ever happened to our family, adopting Sammy.

In honor of the month, I am looking to post more, praise many who are doing the good work, and highlight one of the most amazing new resources for adoptive families out there, Adoption Mosaic’s new magazine The Adoption Constellation that you can download FREE here! (No need to take my word for it-read it yourself-then subscribe to the print version!) Mama C readers will feel honored that they read one of the articles here first.

This month I hope to delve deeper both into my own unexamined, and deeply considered thoughts on the topic.I hope to include other voices, and viewpoints, and define with slightly more intention Mama C and the Boys.

In the meantime, a repost (below) from last year, just before I moved over to the sleek new format. Our Adoption Day anniversary is this Sunday (November 7th).  In honor of the event, and my family, I promised all of the above that I’d be computer free for an entire weekend.

***

Four years ago today
surrounded by our nearest and dearest
we filled the improvised chambers
of the probate court
at the Children’s Museum
to hear Sam’s-first-middle and last name
decreed with judicious officiousness.

Finally.
Finalized.
Same name.
Delivered.

Same name.
Yours.
Mine.
Ours in the eyes of the state.

Looking down at your name all balanced out as it is-
On the Adoption Decree
one place where we now look so exactly alike.
Good thing type ink mostly comes in black.

To honor and remember
we went to the park the three of us.
And baby Dexter.
Marcel’s baby doll-
the one I gave Sam
to help him get used to the idea
of an imminent Marcel
is now Marcel’s my-baby-doll-Dexter
a reminder that family every day is about who we bring
into the fold
when we need them.

Who is there for us to love.

For dinner Sam came up with the menu:
baked beans and cake.
Then we invited upstairs Sarah and Jay,
and downstairs Uncle too.
For a potluck and a toast.
Sam invited one more friend who he thought
would want to celebrate impromptu.

Happy Adoption Month
to those who have cause to celebrate,
and to those who are rocking
their delicate and huge dreams in the wait.

Mama C    November, 2009

Mixed Chicks Chat

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I will be a guest Wednesday, February 24th on the  Mixed Chicks Chat, the only live weekly show about being racially and culturally mixed. I’ll be recording from the parking lot of my son’s daycare, the half hour before the board meeting.

Fanshen Cox and  Heidi Durrow host the show each Wednesday at 5 p.m. Eastern/2 p.m. Pacific to discuss all aspects of the Mixed experience. The Mixed Chicks Chat hosts the annual Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival each year in June. For more information about the 2010 Festival visit the Festival website. The Festival, a sponsored project of the New York Foundation for the Arts, is an inclusive event targeting the growing population of multiracial and multicultural individuals and families.

Don’t miss this great weekly podcast on www.talkshoe.com. (Keywords: Mixed Chicks)
Subscribe on www.itunes.com FREE and listen whenever you want.

  • Visit www.talkshoe.com and sign-up for a talkshoe account. You’ll receive a pincode that you will need when you call to participate.
  • On the day of the show, dial 724-444-7444.
  • Next you’ll be asked to enter the talkcast id number 34257 followed by the pound sign.
  • Finally, you’ll be prompted to enter your personal pincode, followed by the pound sign.
  • That’s it. You’re LIVE on the show. Remember, you’ll be muted when you first join, so if you want to comment please request to chat by pressing the request to chat button. You can also submit a chat message that we can read on the air.

Thank you to Honey Smoke for the layout of the text for this post.  Listen to her podcast last week here.