As promised, story of our pilgrimage to Utrecht, Netherlands.
Now before you start worrying or praising that I’ve found religion, I must assure you I haven’t. Reason, logic and basic secular humanism are still the order of the day.
We went to see the Bush Memorial:
Okay, maybe that wasn’t our plan, but the stencil graffiti was opposite our destination.
A little background though first: When I was but knee-high to a grasshopper my dad went on a trip to Arizona. Each night while he was gone my mum played tapes of him reading Dick Bruna’s Miffy stories. Listening to my father’s voice over magnetic tape is one of my earliest memories. I loved Miffy.
Bean has been subjected to the same Miffy books that I loved. I know the rhythm appears somewhat awkward until you get use to it. I know some criticize the simple graphics, but small children love them and I still love them. I think children’s authors and illustrators get a really raw deal. I believe quality children’s books are critical to a lifelong love of reading.
The town of Utrecht is home to the Dick Bruna House. Given we were so close, just a short train trip away…
Why not stop by?
The house is relatively small, simple and beautiful, but very small kid friendly.
Bruna’s graphic design and book cover work is also on display. I had hoped that they would have prints of some of the grown-up book covers, but no such luck. Still a fabulous display and a successful pilgrimage. I present to you a very happy me albeit a little bedraggled.
I’m not particularly known for my organization or tidiness. I contend I am much better than I was in college, or pre-Green, but still not particularly organized. At least not on the surface. Scratch that surface a little bit and you find a woman who has her books separated into fiction: alphabetically shelved by author, poetry, anthologies etc. and non-fiction: history, memoirs, anthropology, biology, nature, physical science, politics, history, gender and women’s issues, travel, education and so it goes on. You get the picture. There are other aspects where my need to categorize runs rampant, yarn: by fiber and weight, fabric: by color and weight, and the fact that the spices and herbs cabinet are currently all mixed up is driving me absolutely batty.
Tonight, one set of bookshelves set up, tethered to the wall (have a toddler you’ll understand why) in the newly painted living room, I got to indulge my need for order and shelve the fiction books into their new location. It was bliss. Bliss to visit these old friends, to discover books half-read, books bought and not yet read, books that I wonder if rereading them now five, ten, twenty years on would make a difference in my perspective of them. I considered for about thirty seconds revising my book organizing to be all hip, modern and color coded like Lovely Design’s shelves. Then quickly dismissed it as absolutely beautiful, but not practical for us. I boxed a bunch of books that I’m sure I won’t miss and won’t revisit and finally allowed Green to add his books to the shelves on the understanding that the organization must be kept. This is funny, he is typically much more respectful of such order than I, but the bookshelves were mine. A place where I actually was successful at organization I feel unduly protective toward.
One of the most exquisite aspects of this process is finding the books that my mum has left on the bookshelves for me to read. Books that she has read in the same feverish manner that I consume books, while visiting us and then left for me to find at a later time. These books are like another form of communication between us. Separated by six thousand miles and yet in the late evening as I sort through and note this is a book to return to, a little hello from my mum.
Making Room in Our Hearts – Keeping Family Ties through Open Adoption by Micky Duxbury definitely does not have the fabulous irreverence of The Kid by Dan Savage, but it shares the same honesty and insight that I’m learning lots from. Definitely one for the whole family to read. It really highlights why open adoption is a good choice.
On our end, progress toward even picking an agency seems to be faltering though not our desire to grow our family. When I look at agencies like Nebraskan Childrens Home or Spence Chapin, whose fees are minimal, at least relatively, I have to wonder why the national non-profit agencies we’re looking at end up costing so much. Both Spence Chapin and Nebraskan Childrens Home successfully counsel most of their expectant mothers and fathers to parent as opposed to placing for adoption where appropriate. They both provide care services for children beyond birth and beyond counseling. They both rely upon the kindness of donors to maintain these excellent services, so where is the money going in the other agencies? I think it is going to national marketing, maybe? If the tax credit associated with adoption disappears (it is supposed to end 2010) we won’t be in a financial position to consider these national agencies. I think I need about a two week time period just to sit down and go through all the stuff.
Since I became a parent I don’t read half as much. No more lazy Sunday afternoons spent lolling around reading fiction. Lolling around reading on Sundays has been exchanged for chasing a fabulous toddler around and I wouldn’t switch it back for the world.
My reading now is snatched in between work and parenting and pretty much all the books are associated with a book club I belong to. Sometimes I just listen to audiobooks on the way to work. I’ve recently begun to squeeze in a few other books, adoption books. Other than Green, who reads for detail while I read for gist, I’m on my own in reading this genre. My own little book club of one. It is rather a limiting book club theme I guess.
The first adoption book, The Kid by Dan Savage, was great for insight pm the adoptive parent’s experience in the initial open adoption process. Not for the faint of heart mind. Dan is your common or garden syndicated sex advice columnist who happens to be gay. He is also, hysterical and maybe a touch crude. Not a book I’ll be sending off to my older relatives to get a better understanding of adoption if we proceed, but it is going to find its way on to the other side of the bed from me for Bean to read. The thing about Savage is that the writing feels honest, and not contrived. I do wonder if there is a follow up. Savage and his boyfriend adopted about ten years ago. If there is a follow up I’m getting it.