June 28, 2008

New Rules

Rule #1: Sharing is good until it involves a baby, a cat, a highchair, and a bowl of food.

Look mom, I'm sharing!

Why are you looking at me like that?

Rule #2: Never try to substitute your digital camera with your phone camera (sorry for the poor quality of the above pictures)

Rule #3: When with rash go to the Doctor. Mike was diagnosed with Lyme Disease today but is on meds and on the mend. Three cheers for local drop-in urgent care facilities with fantastic doctors. The patient is doing well but complained of cramps, cold sweats, and body aches before going to bed. Best case scenario he comes out of this with a better understanding of the monthly female joy of PMS and worst case scenario, well let's just skip that one for now.

Rule #4: Love your family. We've had two of Ashton's grandmothers and his great grandmother in town over the past two weeks and the visits have been lovely. Ashton has been all smiles unless you're withholding his fruit cup, in which case it's not-so-smiley, but even then he's still adorable. We love our family for all their virtues but have to admit that the virtue of an extra hand during messy blowout might top the list. Just maybe.

Today he clapped, ate blueberries, enjoyed some bubble blowing time with grandma, (which meant a few minutes of solo mommy & daddy time...priceless!) and conked out around 7PM. Dad followed shortly after once his meds kicked in, and mom will crawl in soon. I love being 3.

June 25, 2008

Learning The Spoon

Ashton decided that today was the day he needed to learn how to use a spoon to feed himself. We're going to need a little more practice...

June 23, 2008

Wash Like An Egyptian

We have a tradition in our household (that is a whole whopping 2 weeks old) where during bath time we blast Walk Like An Egyptian and shout the chorus as "WASH LIKE AN EGYPTIAN!" Ash loves it, and tonight he decided that brushing with his tiny toothbrush wasn't good enough so he stole the much larger more suitable one, mine. I guess we know who wears the pants in this house. (Well, to be factual he doesn't actually wear pants, more like tolerates them until he can figure out how to shake them off and run around in as little clothing as possible. Takes after dad.) If you haven't guessed already, yes - he's feeling MUCH better today!

We spent some time jamming on his musical toy chest

And then had to taunt the cats a little, which can tire a dude out

And acting like a pirate with his new musical toy and rocking out in the tub is always fun!

A very good day.

June 22, 2008

The List In My Head

Is getting out of control.

And I'm not talking about the "Is he hungry? Is his diaper dirty? Is he hot/cold?" list, I'm talking about the "I've already checked all of the above so what on Earth could be wrong!" list. The items on this list vary from adoption oriented concerns to normal run of the mill first time parenting paranoia to general adjusting to a new life process:

Is the Benedryl or Tylenol he's been on for his virus and tendency to break out in hives causing his crying/itching/explosive diapers/crankiness? Or is he allergic to one of the new foods we fed him today? Or did we overexpose him to visitors and new things and new places? What about all of the new drugs he's on for being anemic with high levels of lead? Or the drugs he's not yet on because the blood tests are only about 5% complete? Does he miss his mom?

Oh wait, I'm his mom.

What would the nannies at House of Hope have done? Did he wake up multiple times during the night there? Am I being a pushover or am I just embracing adoption style parenting and this will all magically work out in the long run? Where are his pants?

Wait, what?

Yes, that last question was where are his pants. As I write this we're currently trying our first hand at letting him cry (for shot periods of time) in his crib in an effort to help teach him to "self soothe" and adjust to his new sleep "schedule". Only he's wearing a new 12 month two-piece pajama outfit (purchased at the Target off of Exit 15 on the NYS Thruway due to today's explosive blowout #3) and the pants keep falling down. It's hard to stick to a hard-core my child WILL go to sleep on his own course when you're staring at the baby monitor laughing uncontrollably because his pants keep falling down. Did I say laughing uncontrollably? What I meant was...nope, that's exactly what I meant. Come on, my son has pooped all over, well, most things, so please don't judge me for getting a kick out of his baggy pj pants.

So dad's on his way upstairs to re-pants our son (in proper 6-9 month size this time) and my mind is on to evaluating the pros and cons of gDiapers after the multiple blowout day(s) we've been having that have ruined a drawers worth of onsies, outfits, and even a pair of Robeez. Should we say to hell with being green and go with plastic diapers for the sheer purpose of sanity? Or would that create a whole new guilt-driven list in my head?

We need a return of nap time sex, pronto.

Wait, what's that? Loud cracks of lightening and thunder yet a quick check at the baby monitor confirms that Sir Poops Alot is still asleep! Screw the list, I've got a beautiful baby boy to go stare at.

June 20, 2008

Adjusting: End Of Week 3

We've been together almost 3 full weeks. Some notes on process and progress:

104.1, that was Ashton's temperature at 4:10PM today. Luckily our local pediatrician has office hours until 5PM on Fridays so was able to squeeze us in. He checked his ears, nose, throat, chest, did a strep test just to make sure, and concluded that our tot has a sore throat and a bad cold. Poor guy, he was so playful at lunch with Grandma H and even rocked out to the music in the restaurant (it's precious the way he bobbles his head to music!) but by the time we arrived home it was clear there was something up. After the visit with our doc his temperature lowered about one degree per hour and he's now fast asleep, though still not a happy camper. Tomorrow will be an at home play day, all-inclusive style with grilled sweet potatoes (he loves his sweet potatoes!), his very own sandbox, and lots of loving.

As for adjusting, overall we're doing well. We think he understands that we're not going anywhere anytime soon, which for being 2.5 weeks into the in-person relationship is pretty good. We'll continue to be the providers of 100% of his daily needs (feeding, changing, bathing, soothing) for the time being but have been unbelievably appreciative of Grandma's help in the infinite areas where we need it. He crawled into her lap for the first time today and let her cuddle him for a while which was heart melting. He's been eying her for 2 days now and this afternoon must've internalized that she's Grandma and he wanted a piece of that lovin'! His trust is slow to gain but once achieved his grip on your heart will leave you breathless.

It's not all smiles all the time, surprise surprise. He's been passed from loving arm to loving arm for so many months of his life that just because our arms are loving doesn't necessarily gain us his trust. He has needs that we can't meet, like being swept up by the lovely woman who fed him dinner for the two months before we were united and waved the scent of fresh roasted coffee beans around the room at the end of each meal. We can't replace that. The beautiful nanny who shared the most intense stare with our Ashton Wondemu and teared up every time we took him away from the House of Hope in Ethiopia because she knew they would likely never meet again. We can't replace that. His absolutely stunning mother who rocked back and forth throughout our entire meeting unable to lock eyes with us yet the exact expression on them will forever be ingrained on our hearts. We certainly can't replace that. And would never even attempt to try.

Our boy is grieving so many losses, and who knows if that is what's driving his fever today or just some bug he caught on the subway or even just a random temporary spike. But it is now our job as mom and dad to comfort him through his sorrows and introduce him to new love. A delicate balance I'm sure we'll struggle daily to achieve. For today this means garnering the strength to hold down his arms while we shove the thermometer in his ear for the millionth time in a day just to make sure his fever continues to break.

Cheers to the amazing people who held this post over the past months, we remember you and will make sure that Ashton Wondemu does too.

June 19, 2008

My First Swing & Slide

It's been busy since grandma arrived! Ashton is still on the verge of walking and devoured two meals today: Amie's Organic Pasta O's for lunch and homemade soba noodles with taco chicken and corn for dinner. He's always willing to try what you put in front of him and makes the cutest little smushy face when he's unsure of the flavor, but usually decides to eat it regardless. He gets more giggly by the day and we discovered today that he loves the swing and gigantic sand box at the local park (where we ran into our local pediatrician and conned him into reading Ashton's TB test because we missed their office hours by a few minutes...he's going to love us!).

Just a bit of footage of the little dude from today - Enjoy!

Ashton's first swing

Ashton's first slide

June 17, 2008


Ah mornings, oh how they've changed. 9AM then and now...

9AM Then: Still a bit groggy from only having been awake for about an hour and waiting for the caffeine from cappuccino #1 to kick in. The work day has started and the fun of wading through client emails and identifying project tasks for the day consumes the better portion of the morning. Before I know it it's 2PM and lunch is still a distant thought. No problem, a later lunch will help tide me over for our 9PM dinner plans. And I must remember to pick up the laundry I dropped off a few days ago...

9AM Now: Wide awake and wondering what's for lunch. Baby's fed, bathed, had several playtimes, and mom's teeth are not brushed but that's OK because cappuccino #4 would have killed any effort at peppermint fresh breath anyway. The countdown has started for baby's nap time because let's face it, I am over the moon in love with him but I'm also over the moon in love with those 2 hours in the middle of the day when he's sleeping because it enables me to make sure laundry load #2 for the day can make it into the dryer before dinner.

Have I changed? YES. Am I a completely different person? NO. Thankfully I have another 10 weeks to settle in to a routine and resume a life with some sense of normalcy before going back to work and tossing the whole bit right back up in the air for a remix. After all, that's who I am. I enjoy changing without becoming different. The title of my soap opera may have changed from Sex in the City to Sex During Nap Time, but at the end of the day the laundry still gets done.

June 16, 2008

7 Years

June 16th, 2001 at the base of Big Sky, MT on the shores of the Gallatin River we said our vows and sealed the deal. Seven glorious years, five continents, 20+ countries, learning "hello, please, thank you, goodbye, how much, where is" in 5+ languages, and now we're a family of three.

We miss Montana.

But we love the friends we've met in New York.

And we REALLY love Grandma's white chocolate cranberry cookies!

But nothing beats being mom and dad to the most beautiful boy in the world.

Life is good. Really, really good. Happy anniversary babe.

June 15, 2008

First Word - Dad!

Today was one of those days that just clicks. Sure it started off with not so much sleep because our son hasn't quite figured out the joy of settling into dreamland for more than 2 hours at a time, but mere sleep deprivation couldn't come close to spoiling this day. The 3 of us started the afternoon off with lunch on the Hudson River where the waitress commented that Ash was the best 1 year old customer ever! It may have helped that his meal consisted of delicious cornbread and sweet potato fries, but we're giving him the "will be fantastic in restaurants" benefit of the doubt. He'll be scooping up sushi with chopsticks in no time... Then we went on to the Storm King Art Center which is a massive sculpture park near us nestled in a beautiful Hudson Valley setting. Ash promptly fell asleep in his stroller (speaking of which, for those of you who have been reading for a while and remember the stroller debate - the Stokke Xplory really is the bomb) and the two of us enjoyed a sunny stroll through the park. On the way home we stopped by Circuit City and picked up my new favorite gadget, the RCA Small Wonder, which is a $100 solution to posting quick and easy videos to our blog. It's inexpensive, small, ridiculously easy to use, so enough already on with the videos! A first Fathers Day well spent.

Ashton said "dad" today. Really, on Fathers Day, could it get any better?

Ashton and mom

Ashton and dad

And a few pictures!

June 14, 2008

Who's Your Daddy?

No question in this household, Dad's the word today! Click here to read a special feature in CHI's June newsletter about the special bond between Mike and Ashton. They truly are a soulful match. Ashton Wondemu is a strong serious loving and giggly boy who knows exactly who his forever daddy is. Happy? Hungry? Excited? Tired? Anxious? Cranky? Just needing something new? Pass him to daddy and on come the smiles! Honestly the bond between these two is just precious, and I'm honored to be a mother in the McGregor family of Mike, Ash, and Jo.

Happy Fathers Day daddy - we love you!

Family & Friends

Aside from endless giggling, drooling, being awake, and learning new foods (we're on to peaches and carrots!) the past 48 hours have also been packed with introducing Ash to family and friends. And now we're in the midst of a massive thunderstorm which can only mean one thing...Christmas movies! Ashton is all over the place with his blocks, shapes games, sneaky maneuvers, and still wont eat peas. Can't imagine why...they're green and mushy, what could be tastier?

June 12, 2008

Our Little Foodie

Today was a foodie day, or at least our new parenting version of one. First came breakfast when Ash was introduced to apples (loves'em), then on to the Gilded Otter where had two new firsts - sweet potatoes AND Otter french fries! YUM! Next was rainbow sherbet that didn't go over so well (those would be the pics of him with a not so happy grin) and then on to fun in the sandbox where we discovered that sand does not taste good. Next came Ash's first meal with all three food groups - starch (rice cereal), veggie (carrots), and fruit (bananas) which officially tested the capacity of gDiapers about 30 seconds after consumption. I suppose we'll take that as a sign that he enjoyed his dinner! We topped the day off by having the new center of the universe in bed by 6:40 (a whole 10 minutes later than last night, progress is progress!) and a civilized dinner for two on the porch. Salad with a homemade cilantro lime dressing and grilled chicken in a siracha/soy marinade. A yummy day.

Sleep? Who, Me?

We're working on routines. They're not going to happen quickly, so all of that patience we've learned over the past year is going to once again come into play. But more on that later - we just got the little guy to finally go down for a nap so I'm going to steal this opportunity to jot down a few notes from our trip.

Things we're really glad we brought:
*Lots of wet wipes. Especially now that we're entering the rainy season there are millions of ways to get dirty and not having access to a washing machine we went through wet wipes like oxygen.
*Snack trap. Ashton was so proud when he finally figured out how it worked, and as long as we kept it stocked with Cherios he was a happy snacking boy.
*Alka-Seltzer. For us it's the wonder drug. Our stomachs tend to fare pretty well when traveling, but every now and then a small bug in the tummy or headache or just plain "feeling a little off day" will occur and can be cured with a dose of Alka-Seltzer.

Things we wish we'd brought:
*More wet wipes.
*Lactose-free formula. It is fairly common for children who haven't had access to breast milk (among other causes) to be lactose intolerant. We got lucky and HOH happened to have one tin of milk-based lactose-free formula which was a life saver. Ashton was vomiting after almost every bottle until we switched to the lactose-free formula.
*Organic banana baby food: The only ingredients are organic bananas and water and Ashton LOVES it. For older infants who are starting to eat fruits this could be a healthy supplement to the other options available during lunch and dinner time. We bought rice cereal while we were there flavored with bananas which went over well also.
*Travel size liquid laundry detergent

Things we wish we'd left at home:
*Clothing for us. We packed way too much for ourselves when a couple pair of pants and skirts with a selection of easy cotton shirts would have been just fine.

Just some things to note:
*On Stacie's recommendation we brought gift bags and some tissue for our HOH gifts and then assembled them once we were there. This allowed for nice presentation without taking up too much space in the luggage. The afternoon of our last day at HOH we walked around to each nanny, guard, cook, driver, etc... and thanked them and handed them their gift bag. On our final day in Addis we also tipped the drivers.
*Prior to visiting Ashton's orphanage we stopped by a grocery store to purchase formula, diapers, and toys to donate. We were very glad that we did it this way instead of hauling these items over with us from the US.

OK, the planned 2 hour nap just turned into a 40 minute nap so gotta run. I'll add to this list as things come to mind and can't wait to read about adventures from other traveling families!

June 11, 2008

Paparazzi 101

Get in line ladies!

Me and my peeps

June 9, 2008

Momma Sing Sing Thatcha Gotta Jiboo. Papa Sing Gotta Jibboo!

We made it. We're in one piece (well 3 actually) and short of our washer/dryer deciding that today was the day to cease functioning all is well and settled. Thank goodness for corner laundromats with drop-off service. Ashton did incredibly well on the flights. I don't know if his new diet had anything to do with it or if he's really started to entertain the idea of attaching to us, but we saw smiles and giggles that we had never seen before and it was so much fun. He is quite a tease, however, so as often as he'd flash a smile he'd also flash a closed-mouth grin with some serious eye contact behind it saying, "watch out, I've got you wrapped around my little finger and I'm not afraid to use it!" He completely conked out once we got from JFK to our car, and slept the entire 2 hour ride home. I highly doubt he even knew he was in a car seat. No, this he didn't figure out until we went to the grocery store and then he decided that he indeed does not like car seats. We'll be working on that. Can't wait till we get to introduce him to Brooklyn and the NYC subway!

He LOVED his first meal in his highchair. The fact that he had access to a handful of Cherios that he didn't have to fish out of a snack-trap was just heaven to him. Don't get me wrong, he loves his snack-trap (and sharing his Cherios with daddy), but to have so many Cherios right in front of him with zero obstacles all for the taking? Baby sugar. His first bath at home was alright, although we're still searching for the fine line between "wow this is fun there are so many toys look at this one go splish splash" and "get me out of here I'm freezing cold what are you mad woman?!!". We'll be working on this also.

It's 95 degrees and hot, humid, and sticky in NY today and tomorrow so we have the fan blasting in Ash's room and the cats are sprawled out in the coolest part of the house looking as though they don't plan to move until someone serves them an umbrella drink. We're watching Ash's every move with our handy-dandy video baby monitor while contemplating the best way to post our top 10 lessons learned from the past 9 days. Not guaranteeing any real pearls of wisdom, but we did have a few "ah-ha" moments that might be useful to share. So, once we realize we're no longer in Oz with HOH nannies nearby to help or the staff at the Sheraton Addis around the corner to change crib sheets we'll pull it together enough to write them down and share with the lot of you getting ready to travel. Till then here are some cute new pics!

Ashton enjoying his first plane ride

Ashton meeting Bode and Bridger (Bode is in the background...safe)

Bath time and eating time (and a look at his drop-you-dead-in-your-tracks closed-mouth smile I spoke of earlier!)

June 8, 2008

Taking Off!

We're leaving in about one hour for a final tour around Addis then it's off to the airport for the 19 hour trek to JFK. Ashton Wondemu is doing fantastic. The lactose free formula is working wonders and as long as there are cherios nearby he's ok not eating anything off of our plates (although he still gives it a good 'ol fashioned try!). He's a complete flirt with dad - he'll lift a cherio to Mike's mouth, hesitate a little, then stuff it in his own mouth with a HUGE smile on his face. He definitely knows what he's up to! His naps are always about half in the crib and half on dad, and he loves playing with his My Many Colored Days board book. He has 5 little Tonka toy cars and I swear I've heard him say vroom a few times while we've been playing with them. He hasn't gained much weight, still around 17 pounds, but we're sure his new diet will soon change that. That and the fact that we're having one of the best orphan doctors in the world do his first checkup once we're home (Dr. Aronson, www.orphandoctor.com) have kept us at ease. He can walk as long as someone is holding his hands, and has taken a couple of steps on his own. He's going to be off and running in no time. He notices everything with his huge bright eyes. He's flashed quite a few smiles today and the HOH staff told us yesterday that he's going to make a fine New Yorker. We think so too! 
Lot's of firsts over the next 30 hours. First plane ride, first taxi ride, first ride in a car seat, first time at home in New Paltz, first time with cats, first time in his very own bedroom, first time getting over jetlag... Many fun moments ahead!  

June 7, 2008

One More Picture

Couldn't resist adding this one!

New Diet, Fewer Spewings

We are so thankful that there are other families on this trip with us who are not first time parents. We've basically bombarded them with a zillion questions and they've been kind enough to share their experiences with us. And they don't even care when he spews bright pink yongurt all over the van (and me...and others) or when he spews bright yellow...uh, yeah that stuff...all over the van later that same day. Even better they've been kind enough to examine said spewings to let us know if they're the healthy kind or the kind we need to be worried about. For the most part they're the healthy kind, and Mike and I are getting very good at cleaning up disasters quickly! We think he's lactose intollerant and switched to lactose free formula today, and have also reverted to a diet more customary to a 6-9 month old both of which should help reduce his spewings. He may be 13 months old, but physcially he is more like 6-9 months so we basically need to start from scratch with his diet. Formula, rice cereal, bananas, and cherios every now and then. He'll catch up soon, but for now it's slow and steady.
We did decide to leave tomorrow (Sunday) which will put us in to JFK Monday at 7:45AM. We just want to get him to a doctor and have him examined so that we can be 100% sure we're doing every neccessary to get him back on track. We're bummed that we'll miss out on 2 days of exploring Addis, but we've had an amazing 7 days and will return one day. 
New favorite phrases:
Oh don't worry, that's completely normal!
Oh don't worry, that will wash right out.
Oh don't worry, my son's explosion ruined the hotel crib. They're probably going to have to burn it.
Oh don't worry, my daughter projectile vomited across the dinner table at the restaurant last night, it hit the man sitting next to us square in the back.
Just a couple pictures - Enjoy!

June 6, 2008

He's A Daddy's Boy!

I can't belive we're already on day #6 of this adventure. We received Ashton Wondemu's Ethiopian passport complete with his American visa today, so we're free and clear to return to the USA! Due to some medical concerns (nothing too serious, but worth taking the propper precautions) we're going to head home early and leave either Sunday or Monday evening. This will put us back in NY on either Monday or Tuesday morning so that we can schedule a visit with Dr. Aronson next week instead of having to wait until the week after. It's been an amazing week. We've done more laundry than ever before (gDiapers are fantastic, but tend to leak here and there), met amazing people, seen unforgettable sights, and are anxious to be settled in at home so that we can propperly reflect on every minute. We met the birth mother today. I still can't even think about it much less write about it without tearing up. She is an amazing woman. We're so excited to reintroduce Ashton Wondemu to his birth country in a few years. We were thinking we would wait 7-10 years, but after this experience I'd be amazed if we weren't back in 5.
On with the pictures - Enjoy!