family

My Dad

This was originally published over at Medium.com, but I wanted to share it here too. 

My dad is the cool dad.

The one that all my friends tell me they wish they had.

My dad is the brave dad.

The one that baits the hook and handles all the scary jobs, like catching spiders.

My dad is the protector dad.

The one I can always call, no matter the time of day or where he may be.

My dad is the strong dad.

He stands up to the bullies, even when they try to knock him down.

My dad is the example of who I want to be when I grow up.

My dad is weakening,

the strength he once had no longer what it used to be.

My dad is a body being ravaged by an invader,

being overtaken, cell by cell.

Now it’s my turn to be the cool one, put on the brave face, be his protector, and his strength.

Now it’s my turn to be there whenever and wherever he needs me.

Because this is the example he has set for me, and I am, after all, my father’s daughter.

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What Will You Do?

I’m sitting here this morning, my heart pounding in my chest, my brain spinning uncontrollably, trying to find words, having a difficult time putting it all in an order that makes sense to my brain and my soul.

I am trying to find a way to calm my daughter’s anxiety. I am trying to answer her questions.

How do I explain to her that people now feel they have been given permission to judge her based on the color of her skin?

That they can openly harass and deny services to her family members because of who they chose to love?

How do I try to calm her fears that old white men are going to tell her what she can and can’t do with her body?

Please, someone, offer me the words to explain this to her, because right now, I have none.

 

The Melting Pot

No, not the restaurant, although that’s pretty tasty, especially the dark chocolate fondue for dessert. No, this title refers to our country, the United States of America. These days it seems it’s more the divided states of America, but that’s for another post.

Our country is made up of immigrants. Whether they arrived here as recently as yesterday or as long ago as the Mayflower, any way you look at it, there is an immigrant somewhere in our family history. For me, the most recent was my grandparents and my mother, along with her siblings, in 1958. So technically that makes me first generation “American-born” in my family lineage. Of course my daughter is adopted from China, so technically she would be considered an immigrant as well. See where I’m going with this. This country is a beautiful mix of all sorts of people – Native American (the only ones who can claim to have always been here), European, Middle Eastern, Indian, Asian, Russian, Pacific Islanders, I could go on but you are intelligent, I think you get the idea. So what gives anyone the right to claim that their race, their identity, or who they identify with is the absolute right one and all others are wrong.  Just because someone’s skin is a different color than yours doesn’t mean they are inferior or anything less than you.

This also applies to religion. We supposedly have the freedom of religion, in fact the first amendment clearly states “…Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” It goes on to prohibit impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. So again, who is to tell me that their religion is the absolute right and all others are wrong. Just because you disagree with something or someone does not make them wrong. You are allowed to believe what you want, you are allowed to share that message, you can even disagree with me here. But please, be respectful. That’s really what it all boils down to. Respect one another, respect that we all come from different backgrounds, respect that we all have different views and beliefs that shape us. Let’s embrace each other as human beings who are sharing this planet, and try to live in peace and harmony, especially now, and for the future generations to come.

Forever Family

10 years ago, life changed forever. We went from being a couple, married for 11 years (having celebrated our 11th anniversary in Beijing) to 2 days later becoming a family, a forever family. It was March 12, 2001, the day our lives changed forever. The first day we finally met in person and fell in love (all over again) with Li San Yue, in Tuanfeng, Hubei China.

The journey started with paperwork, then waiting, more paperwork, more waiting, official notarizations from the county, the state, the federal government and the Chinese government, then more waiting, and then the day the Fedex package arrived, waiting on that too. The long awaited package containing the most important paperwork of all ~ the picture seen at the left and all the biographical information about our soon to be daughter arrived on January 22, 2001.

Skip forward to March 12, 2001, anxiously arriving at the Civil Affairs Bureau, stepping off the elevator and hearing the distant cries of babies. Heart pounding, palms sweating, stomach in knots… knowing that in just a few moments we would finally get to hold our daughter in our arms for the very first time. I could go on and describe the entire day, the next two weeks, and the journey home, but that is for another post, at another time.

Now we are in the present, 10 years after our first meeting. The little baby we met so many years ago has grown, blossomed, and is developing into quite the  young lady. Bright, creative, and independent and still the most amazing gift I have ever been given. Happy “Gotcha Day” my Chinese firecracker.

Bee-lated Valentines

Valentines day is not a big deal around our house. So when I was out of town this year, it wasn’t as though the world would come to an end. But I had to share this, bee-lated as it may be, because of the emotion and heart and soul that was put into it this year.

Amy handmade 2 cards, one for Dean and one for me. Here is what she wrote. And if you are prone to tears at Hallmark commercials, have tissues on hand.

First Dean’s card.

To – Daddy Love/From Amy Didn’t think I’d forget did ya?

Game: Figure out the list!

Awesome. Funny. Smart. Loving. Cool. Caring. Kind. Fun. Nice. Can’t figure it out? Well it’s about all the adjectives that describe you.

There once was a man named Dean. He loved a woman named Michelle and got married and they adopted a so awesomely cool it’s unbelievable daughter. They named her Amy. Amy grew up to think her dad was cool but that grew up to an awesomely nice dude. The End.

Next Michelle’s card.

Happy Beeeelated Valentines Day! (with a bee drawn here too)

To: Michelle Elizabeth Becker (AKA Mom) From: Amy

Didn’t think I’d forget did ya?

Love and hugs to the best mom in the world. I love seeing you everyday! (Except when you’re mad 😦 ) Love you bunches. Amy

Rainbows (drawn) Unicorns (drawn) and Socks (drawn with a hole)

I can’t tell you how much these cards meant to me. Especially after being gone for 10 days away from the two I love most. The work she put into them, the drawings and the sentiment, touched my heart to the very depths. She is one amazing kid.

Thankful

I know it’s not Thanksgiving yet, but today I am thankful. Okay, so we should be thankful everyday, but for the past couple of days I have been thinking about this more than usual. Maybe because I’ve had more time to actually think, maybe because I’m in a new place and haven’t yet made new friends or gotten involved in new activities, maybe it’s been some of the other blogs I’ve been reading and what others have written has challenged me. Whatever the reason, it’s been on my mind and heart.

Now the typical prayer that you always hear around thanksgiving is one that may go something like… thank you for our family & friends, those that are here with us today and those that are far away. Thank you for our blessings and for this food… blah, blah, blah. But have you really taken the time to think about what and who you are thankful for?

In reflecting on this idea, I’ve thought of a lot of people that I’ve had the opportunity to connect with in my life. Some may have been there for many years, some for just a day.  Some of these people I have yet to meet in person, although I do hope to someday. Others have been generous in their time and have met me, not knowing me from a stranger on a bus prior to our meeting. But they all have one thing in common – they have all affected me and contributed to who I am today and who I am becoming tomorrow.

Most won’t be named, some will. Some might be forgotten in this list, because there are many. But even if you aren’t mentioned by name or if you feel you’ve been left out, know that you haven’t.

First off (and this one seems pretty obvious) but it’s my parents. No matter what I’ve done, they have always been there for me. And I know for this I am lucky. There are many out there who can not say this about their parents, and my heart grieves for them. I don’t think I could ever express though how thankful I am for them.

Teachers – over the years I have had some incredible teachers, incredibly good and incredibly bad. And now that I am a parent, I realize even more the impact that teachers have on our lives and our society. If you are a teacher, thank you. If you know a teacher, thank them too.

Past “loves”. This one is kind of weird, but if it weren’t for past boyfriends I wouldn’t be the wife I am today. Dean may or may not be thankful for that one. 🙂 But regardless, their opinions of me, the way they treated (or mis-treated) me, have also made me who I am.

Friends. There are so many I won’t even begin to try to list. There have been the “true” friends. Those that no matter how much time passes, you just pick right up where you left off the last time. They know your heart and your warts, and yet they still love you for  who you are. There are also the “social” friends. Those that you are thrown into life with due to whatever social circumstance you may find yourself in. And sometimes they become the true friends, others are just in your life for that season. And then there are the “superficial” friends. Those that you think are your friend, but come to find out you were just there for a one time use. Regardless of how they have made me feel, they still have impacted my life, and taught me a lesson I may not have otherwise learned.

The last group is one that I call “acquaintances”. These are the people that don’t realize the impact they’ve had on my life, but have in some way said something or done something to change my direction. Whether it be advice they have given, a contact that has been made, or just a different perspective of things that I might not have seen before. There are many that fall in to this group – and they will never know what they’ve done – they are usually the one time meeting, never to be seen again. Or maybe they are the author of a blog or an article that I read, their words having a lasting impact. Whoever they are, wherever they may be, for them I am thankful too.

So there is my rambling on thankfulness today. And to all of you readers, I’m thankful for you too. For without you, there really wouldn’t be a purpose behind these random drops from my brain.

Kids Say The Darndest Things

So we’re sitting at the dinner table, discussing some of the places we saw while we were in Los Angeles. A few were places that I would have rather not have had to explain to a 10 year old (strip club, a bar with men dancing in their tighty whiteys, medicinal marijuana bars…) you get the idea. My mother said something about “don’t go to Europe then – they are a lot more liberal and you would see even more of that there.” She then went on to tell a story about when she lived in Holland. While riding their bikes through one of the “red light” districts, one of her brothers asked my Oma (my grandmother) why were these women sitting in the windows, knitting. Oma explained they were just passing the time, avoiding the question of what the women were really doing. Fast forward back to this evening, upon hearing this story the 10 year old at dinner said “maybe Oma (my mother) should do that since she likes to knit so much.” It was impossible for any of us adults to keep a straight face. Some day I’ll have to explain to her what she said and why it was so funny.