Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I'm too sexy for your....bunny?

A few years ago, I remember passing a store in the mall during Easter season that had a cage full of rabbits in the display window. Being a new dog owner and thinking it was a pet store, I stopped and peeked inside. Was I looking at a pet store? No. It was a photography studio. Their gimmick for Easter was to offer pictures with live bunnies. I turned to Ebo and said "I wonder what PETA would think about this?" After thinking it was just one studio's silly idea, I began to see bunnies in every photo studio I encountered. And then there was the baby chick option. I could imagine the scene - a pastel background, fake flowers, a basket full of easter eggs, and the floor covered with rabbit and chicken poop. Not to mention the cute little kids dressed in their Sunday best squeezing a helpless chick while the photographer tries to make them look at the camera.

Last Easter, I lived this drama. My friend's husband was starting a photography business and was offering a photo shoot with live bunnies. I like to support small businesses and the kids were overdue for some portraits, so I agreed. Before we arrived at their home, I gave Sassy Girl and Destructo Boy a lecture about how to treat the rabbits. Gentle, I said. Be nice. As it turned out, we were the last appointment after a long day of shoots. The rabbits (named Bandit and Cinnamon) looked like they were going to commit suicide. After two shots, Destructo Boy forgot what "gentle" meant and started pulling one of the rabbits' floppy ears. The smaller bunny, not sure of his fate, took the opportunity to bolt out of the room and hide (At this point, I think I yelled, "Run, Bandit, Run!"). Destructo Boy crawled after the rabbit and knocked over the giant plastic Easter eggs. We didn't get any posed shots after that, but the photographer did manage to take several pictures of Sassy Girl and Destructo Boy chasing a very scared bunny.

The whole taking pictures with animals thing makes me feel uncomfortable. It ties in with the trend of buying kids chicks for Easter and puppies for Christmas and losing interest after the cuteness is gone. (Now, my mom did buy me chicks for Easter...then proceeded to serve them for dinner about six months later. But that's a different story...). I wonder what happens to the Easter portrait bunnies and chicks. It's not like they can design furniture (Cindy Crawford) or host a talk show (Tyra Banks) when their modeling career is over.

Needless to say, I thought I had seen it all. Then yesterday I received an ad for Easter pictures with....a live lamb! Check it out:

Crazy. What's next? Christmas photos with the manger animals? Valentine pictures with a real baby dressed as Cupid? Give me your ideas!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bureaucracy sucks

The following is an exact quote from the Child Citizenship Act of 2000:

(a) In General.--Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1431) is amended to read as follows:
''children born outside the United States and residing permanently in the United States; conditions under which citizenship automatically acquired
''Sec. 320. (a) A child born outside of the United States automatically becomes a citizen of the United States when all of the following conditions have been fulfilled:
''(1) At least one parent of the child is a citizen of the United States, whether by birth or naturalization.''(2) The child is under the age of eighteen years.''(3) The child is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence.
''(b) Subsection (a) shall apply to a child adopted by a United States citizen parent if the child satisfies the requirements applicable to adopted children under section 101(b)(1).''.
(b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections of such Act is amended by striking the item relating to section 320 and inserting the following:
''Sec. 320. Children born outside the United States and residing permanently in the United States; conditions under which citizenship automatically acquired.

The way I see it, this law says that Destructo Boy became a citizen the moment the adoption was final. Right? As I found out recently, it's only half right. After I received Destructo Boy's new birth certificate, I tried to apply for his social security card. This is what I found on the Social Security Administration's website:

"Please note that the adoption decree (issued in a foreign country or the U.S.) or a birth certificate is not proof of U.S. citizenship for a foreign-born child. Proof of U.S. citizenship can be obtained from DHS."

DHS stands for the Department of Homeland Security. So, even though the law says that my son is a citizen via adoption and he has been issued an American birth certificate, I still have to have additional paperwork to prove he is a citizen. Before you all say "What's the big deal?," I'll tell you what the big deal is. A Certificate of Citizenship (COC) from the Department of Homeland security costs $420. I have to pay $420 for a piece of paper that explains what any idiot should figure out from the adoption decree.

And there's more to this story....the fee for a COC went up from $250 to $420 just this past July. We received all of Destructo Boy's final paperwork before the deadline, so I hurried and sent everything in. A MONTH LATER AFTER THE DEADLINE, I get everything back from DHS with no explanation. After talking to many people WHO KNEW NOTHING, I was forced meet them in person. It was there that they told me that our application was rejected because the Dallas office did not accept personal checks. Okay...they why does it say on the website instructions to "Make all personal checks to Department of Homeland Security"?????? And furthermore, couldn't somebody have written me a note when they sent everything back to me? Even after all my aruguing, they still made me pay the new fee because the application was not processed before the deadline.

So we caved and paid, but that's not the end. By the time all that madness was over, it was the end of August. It's now February. WE HAVE YET TO RECEIVE THIS $420 PIECE OF CRAP PAPER THAT WE NEED TO GET A SOCIAL SECURITY CARD. We called the DHS and they said they are just now processing applications from July. JULY???? It was supposed to take three months to process. What the f*%k are my tax dollars going to? What the f*%k is my $420 going to?

What bugs me the most is that I feel like Destructo Boy is not being treated fairly. In the eyes of the law, he should be a citizen. He IS an American citizen according to the law. When he left South Korea, he had to relinquish his Korean citizenship. The United States of America was supposed to legally accept him as one of theirs as soon as we signed the adoption papers. And technically they have...but he has to provide proof. I am a child of immigrants, so unfortunately this type of discrimination and idiocy is nothing new to me. When my mother applied to become an American citizen, the then-INS office sent her paperwork to the wrong agency and it took months to find it. I am now reliving this burearcratic nightmare through my son.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Life comes at you fast...

I don't mean to advertise for Nationwide Insurance, but their long-running "Life Comes at You Fast" ad campaign seems to have been my theme for the past couple of months. In my last post, my family and I were celebrating a year with Destructo Boy. At the time, I felt like I was finally becoming productive. I had this vision that I would crank out a couple of chapters before the new year. As I found out quickly, this was not written in the stars.

Enter holiday season. All of a sudden, my family starts fighting a losing battle with various viruses. Sickness means kids are banned from day care. Sickness means mommy can't work. Sickness means mommy and daddy get sick too. Now, I don't resent that I have to take care of my little ones when they are ill. On the contrary, Sassy Girl's and Destructo Boy's health are my number one priority. I don't trust anyone besides myself, Ebo, and certain members of the medical establishment to nurse my children back to health. It's just in times like these I resent all the crap I was fed as a young girl on how easy it was to "have it all" (meaning career and motherhood). Yes, it is possible, but rarely was I told about the sacrifices you have to make at both ends. And the guilt - oh the guilt of not being there. When I was six years old, I remember my mother went back to work after years of being a stay-at-home parent. I, being the freakishly literate kindergartener that I was, wrote her letter of protest (I think it said something like "I don't like you to work. You are mean."). My mother has kept the letter to this day. I want to take this time to aplogize to my mom for making her feel guilty.

So if little illnesses and missed day care days weren't enough, there was the surprise hospital stay. This time, it wasn't Sassy Girl or Destructo Boy worrying me to death. No, this time it was Ebo. I must mention that for a guy who has CF, he keeps himself pretty healthy. For the entire time I have known him, he has not had to be hospitalized. However, this time he had been fighting an ear infection for a couple of weeks and was feeling lousy. Right before Christmas, he began taking antibiotics and had a bad reaction. He ended up in the emergency room and had to stay in the hospital for a few days. But miraculously, he was released just in time to see Sassy Girl make her theatrical debut as an angel in our church's Christmas pageant. Of course, my parents came after the whole ordeal was over, so the kids and I were dealing with everything by ourselves. I have to give them credit - they were very good about going to and from the hospital to visit their daddy.

As if this weren't enough, Ebo was also scheduled for foot surgery in early January. As such, he was incapacitated again for a couple of weeks. I swear I should have gone into nursing instead of academia.

In the middle of all of this was Destructo Boy's birthday. I felt bad because I barely had time to plan anything. It was the first time I was ever thankful to live in the suburbs because there is a party place on every corner. All you have to do is show them the money and a party is planned for you. And the best part is that it doesn't have to be at your house.

The next thing I know, it's February. Feburary? Where the f*%k did the last two months go??? Life happened. It's time for me to take a breath.