July 30, 2008

Knowing: Then, Now, And Not Yet

I'm officially in full fledged fear mode of using the word "know". I've always been on the cautious side of assuming I know something, but am now seriously considering removing the word from my vocabulary. Don't get me wrong - things are going well, really well in fact. As of today we know think we've found an amazing daycare/preschool solution for Ashton beginning in September when I return to work. And we know hope that the millionth fix to our brand new washing machine will actually make it work. And we know really want our dryer to magically begin working again. (It died the day after we had the new currently not working washing machine installed...)

Ah, the joy of knowing.

Way back in our university years things were easy to know. We knew we were in love, we knew we wanted to travel the world together, we knew we wanted a wedding in Montana and a new life in New York. We knew we wanted children and we knew that the first way we wanted to grow our family was with international adoption. Then eventually we knew it was time to begin the process and we knew Ethiopia was the country. We didn't know everything that would be required along the process. The paperwork, the shuffling and sorting of numbers and documents, the waiting. The waiting, waiting waiting. And then we figured it out, and now we're parents.

And we still don't know that much.

I can't for the life of me figure out what drives his morning and afternoon naps and when or how long they last. And there's absolutely no rhyme or reason to his food preferences. One day he's sucking on a clove of garlic wolfing down an entire basket of sweet potato fries, and then next he's staring at me as though I just used my Manolo's to hammer in a few random nails because apparently I didn't get the memo that sweet potatoes are out, and I have no idea what's in. Then there's the "is he whining because he's worried he won't have enough food" vs "is he whining because he knows if he screams loud/long enough he'll get what he wants" (and btw somebody PLEASE tell me what that is...) conversations. Those are really fun to have, especially in public. It's truly enjoyable to attempt explaining to people that we actually should be giving in to his every wish and whim, because to him everything is still in survival mode and there's no guarantee that he is going to be fed tomorrow. Yes, that goes over really well and everyone completely understands. I just know it.

So, cheers to what we knew and here's hoping for eventually knowing something else at some point in the near future. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it. So much time and so little to do.

July 26, 2008

How To Be A Rock Star

1) Insist on helping clean up the Brooklyn apartment with the dustpan and sweeper.
2) Master the "All Done" hand gesture and facial expression and actually get what it means!

3) Teach your daddy how to truly rock out with your new microphone from grandma
4) Real rock stars carry their Elmo guitar and wear their messenger hats at all times.

Pardon me, rock star coming through...

Flying rock stars are always the coolest. Rock on.

So the last few days have gone really well. Ash truly was a rock star at my company picnic - even handed out some smiles and solidified that he is a water boy. We knew that he loves the water but he LOVES the ocean! Guess we have to plan our vacations accordingly...oh darn. He soaked up the NYC vibe and fit in like a true charmer. He even stayed out late for dinner the last night and made a few friends at the local playground this morning. He seemed to be happy to be back among the country folk upstate this afternoon, and who wouldn't with the local horse and goat welcoming posse! I love waking up in Brooklyn while still being able to say goodnight to the neighbor's horse.

Adjusted? No. Adjusting? Yes. And very well if I may say so myself. SO well in fact that when trying on dresses for a wedding we're attending next weekend I found myself asking for the next size DOWN! You see, that doesn't happen much with me. I'm really good at asking for the next size UP but the other direction is quite foreign. Well, it seems the 17 pound weight I've been lifting for 2 months (yup, it's been that long - will be 8 weeks on Tuesday!) has resulted in a slimming of the upper body. Who would've thought?!!

So I'm going to take my sized down self and my adjusting son and our Brooklyn'ish family across our upstate street to say goodnight to our neighbors, the horse and the goat.

Rock on.

Ash then & Ash now... We love love love love LOVE this.

July 24, 2008

He's A Brooklyn Boy

So I should probably start this post with a warning that there are no pictures. Sorry, but the camera was at the bottom of the diaper bag...with the leaky applesauce. Num.

He loves Brooklyn. He loves Manhattan. And I'm sure if we took him to the Bronx, Queens, or Statan Island he would love those too. He's just a NY boy through and through, but a Brooklyn boy to the core. We setup the pack n play and he slept really well last night and is currently in deep sleep mode for night #2. He's been wheeled to Carol's Daughter where we picked up some hair milk and introduced him to a local Brooklyn Park (he LOVES slides!) and spent dinner at Sushi D where mom and dad enjoyed a fabulous meal while the child decided that his sweet potato tempura (that the chef prepared special for him) belonged on the sidewalk, not in his mouth... nice move son, how do we teach him that pissing off the local sushi chef is NEVER a good idea?

He's just good all around. Yes, he has a shrill of a scream that activates randomly for no apparent reason and wont stop until an entire box of fig newtons is made available, and YES, if you miss his naptime or so much as THINK of skipping his soy milk bottle at the exact time he demands it WATCH OUT. But aside from those things he really is good all around. And cute too.

He's all cute, all Brooklyn, all New Paltz, and all mine. (oh, and his dad's too...)

July 22, 2008

Brooklyn Or Bust

We do things best when done at the last minute. Tonight around dinner time we decided that it's time to introduce Ash to the Brooklyn apartment, so we leave tomorrow...in 12 hours. Mike has 3 days of NYC shoots scheduled, I have some work related engagements that I'd like to attend, and the apartment is just waiting for us to bombard it with a pack n play and zillions of musical toys and tossing shapes and rings - so why not take advantage of the moment, right? It has to happen sometime and there's no time like the present. He's chilled in the NYC a few times since we've been home but we haven't spent the night yet, so we're cross honoring all prayer coupons in hopes that there's a God out there who will help him sleep through the night without waking the 5 separate families who share walls with us...we wont be in Kansas anymore Toto.

We're hoping the occasional icee or tickle-induced smile will help with the transition!

We're making progress with the daycare/nanny situation. Everything is still pretty up in the air but it looks like we may be able to sign on 2-4 different babysitters to care for Ashton in our home while we work during the week, and all of them are available for the occasional weeknight/weekend date also. And our neighbor (who is the most caring adorable cat sitter ever) offered to start learning the babysitting ropes as well, so we may start breaking her in as early as next week for post-bedtime outings - fabulous! Who knows what will actually end up panning out but at least there are clear reliable options for now. Phew.

So for now we're enjoying our daytime reading sessions

And of course our favorite play mat reorganization time!

It's Brooklyn or bust baby, I think we're ready.

July 20, 2008


Innocence is a sleepy boy in his papa's arms

And innocence is his uncontrollable laughter that makes you want to find ways to extend lunch out because he is just so wonderful

Lastly, innocence is the ah-ha moment experienced when you leave your son for the first time and are able to process everything that has happened over the past year within a few moments. It was a spur of the moment decision but shed many moments of light on areas we need to focus on over the next few weeks.

It went kind of like this:

Me: "Mom, dad, would you mind feeding him dinner and keeping him happy for a couple hours while we go buy a new washing machine and grab some dinner?"

My Mom: (After overcoming the shock that we were actually going to hand him over to her for a while) "Go honey, just go."

Me: (After realizing that I would actually have to let go...) "Are you sure? Let's go upstairs so that I can walk you through the gDiaper process. And here's how you open a jar of spaghetti loops. And here is where we keep his fruit cups."

My Mom: "Really Jo, just go, he'll be fine."

Me: "I know. but still..."

Then we did it. We left the house with our son awake and playing with grandma and grandpa and we went to buy a washing machine. And then we went to dinner. And when we came home, he was still breathing. And then we cuddled him extra long before going to sleep, just because.

We have areas of concern. He latched on to my dad while we were gone much like he tolerates most men that he meets. He has yet to do this with any female. And why would he? He spent 11 months with his mother, 2 months with wonderful nannies, and a mere 6 weeks with us. Every female he's ever known has left him. His mom, the nannies, and as far as he knows...me. He's never had a consistent male in his life who has left him. To him, Mike is permanent, I am replaceable.

We're going to keep working on this. It's clear that he knows that Mike and I are both currently significant parts of his life. We just need to continue to solidify the fact that we're not only significant, but permanent, and not going anywhere - ever.

Innocence is a good thing that can be all too transparent in the most inconvenient of times. I wish my little love could just see me as his mommy instead of a caring woman passing through. And I will absolutely treasure the moment when he realizes I'm never leaving. EVER. That moment of innocence will be celebrated. Soon, hopefully.

July 19, 2008

A Cup Of Water And Confirmation From Karma

Karma has officially taken over with the going back to work situation and all is now right with the world (well in this case at least). I'm convinced it was karma that took over the movement in my husbands hands yesterday to make them dump a glass of water on my laptop. Some might not initially see how this could be a good karmic sign, however the beads continued to work and this morning after a night of drying out my laptop was in 100% tip top shape. This is confirmation enough for me that all obstacles will eventually be sorted out and karma is on my side. Not even a water bath for my laptop will get in my way! This will, however, most definitely have depleted my karma bank so I better spend my final weeks of maternity leave restoring it. Plenty to do.

We had a miniature family reunion today and are wiped - smiling, but wiped. Pictures to come of a day with dancing aunties, crazy cousins, and a grandpa wearing a bright pink boa around his neck! And of course a few shots of one particular beautiful boy.

July 17, 2008

A Moment With Bias

Warning: Pissy tired female will be authoring this post.

If one more person questions why I'm going back to work or suggests an "easier" work from home employment option or even comes to close to inferring that my current position hasn't been the result of hard work blood sweat and tears based entirely on a guided goal of leveling the educational playing field I'm going to projectile vomit and PROMISE to hit a target that far exceeds Ashton's yogurt experience in Ethiopia. And trust me, it was far. And while I'm at it, the explanation that "someone needs to make the money" in response to the question of why daddy gets to work for now while mommy needs to set the laptop down to care for the baby is just not acceptable.

Almost 140 years ago our country decided that it was OK for African American men to vote. Almost 90 years ago they decided that woman could as well. And as recent as 40-50 years ago our country addressed the "registration complications" of African American voters so that those facing voter registration discrimination could finally cast a ballot. Think of me as a woman, not as a non-man. Think of my child as an African American boy, not a non-white male. Better yet, meet us and eat with us and enjoy our presence together as friends without presumption. We're white and we're female and we're black and we're male and we're proud and we're educated and we're loved and we're loving and we just want the world to be the same.

And it's OK for me to return to work.

July 16, 2008

New Rules

New Rule #1: Never under any circumstances own up to "catching on" or "getting it" when discussing the act of parenting. And NEVER do so publicly on the internet, on a blog for instance. If such an act occurs the previously mentioned "6 week groove" is guaranteed to be flushed down the toilette with little more than a swish and a splash to remind you that catching on and getting it just aren't a part of parenting vocabulary so just run with your groove and keep quiet.

New Rule #2: Don't pay attention to Rule #1. You've got it, you've caught on, and your groove rocks.

New Rule #3: It's OK to divert from the advice in adoption parenting books once you know your child and can sense what they need and how they're going to learn. Nothing matches the connection felt between parents and their children, not even advice from the most prestigious of professionals. A mother's instinct doesn't come from the juice in an umbilical cord and there isn't a specialist out there who has been pooped on bonded with your child as you have. Have confidence in the meaning of that.

The dinosaur swimming pool was indeed a hit, though tomorrow we'll be moving it to a sunnier location. Even in 90 degree heat it can be a little chilly for our little man when swimming in the shade. He LOVED the slide - definitely worth the extra $4.99.

You'll notice the neatly cut up pieces of strawberry on his tray, that he wouldn't touch, because there was a much larger whole strawberry on dad's plate, that he wanted, and he got...

July 15, 2008

Cell Phone Today, Swimming Tomorrow

We didn't quite get to the pool today but did purchase a gigantic inflatable dinosaur swimming pool that we'll fill up in the yard tomorrow and is sure to please - the next 5 days are supposed to be scorchers. I see swimming, frozen treats, and a naked 14 month old in our future... That is, as long as any important calls don't come in for him on my cell. My recent method for convincing my husband that I need to upgrade from a Blackberry to an iPhone is to let Ashton use my cell whenever he wants, thereby slobbering all over it and dropping it frequently which (if all goes well) will eventually render it useless, and oh darn in need of a new phone! Sorry love, it's all for the good of our son, really!

Checking out the new pool

Just some of his many important phone conversations

I've been using the coconut oil on his skin just before bedtime for a few nights now and I can't believe how smooth his skin has gotten. It was smooth before using an Aveeno/Arbonne combination (which we still apply every morning) but the evening coconut oil rub is definitely the way to go. Tonight I tried rubbing just a little in his hair so we'll see how that works tomorrow.

On the readoption front, we're definitely going to need to hire a lawyer (the process differs state to state, from what I gather NY is relatively simple but expensive and lawyer intensive) and we're going to go ahead and get his SSN before starting the readoption process. Once we have his SSN we'll move ahead with the adoption lawyer which will coincide with the name change which will necessitate a new social security card. Then we're done, dusted, finished, cheers.

July 14, 2008

A 6 Week Groove

Today I'm feeling it. We've been together 6 weeks which means I'm officially in my 7th of 12 weeks of maternity leave. It's about time I started to feel like (or act like) I get whats going on. Thankfully, today I think I did. I've started waking up 5 minutes before him in the morning (though tonight we're working on a new "let's sleep past 6AM" routine...wish me luck), I can sense when a diaper change is inevitable (pre-stink sometimes!), and I no longer fear putting together a diaper bag for any number of occasions. I will remember the essentials most of the time and those I forget we will find at the nearest Food Emporium. I have a lot to work on in the realm of mommy'ing but I think I'm getting the hang of it. I found my 6 week groove. Phew.

Of course there will continue to be my "wonderings in process" and questions I'll frantically search for answers to and moments when I question everything. Like these:

*Hair: We're currently using a mix of Arbonne and Caren skin/hair products on Ash, though once the free samples my mom gave us run out we'll likely switch to Carol's Daughter for two reasons: The bomb in African hair care and right around the corner from our apartment in Brooklyn. My questions - We went on a friend's suggestion to start using coconut oil, and I'm a little confused about the actual process. Do you apply the oil to the skin nightly right before bed or do you coincide it with bath time or when is the best time to apply? And, when using it on his hair should I leave it in for a while and then wash it out or rinse it out or leave it in?

*gDiapers: We took a break for 3 weeks because Ashton wasn't quite regular and the frequent overloads were creating more laundry than we could keep up with and the frustration quadrupled when traveling. I think a lot of it had to do with his skinny legs just not quite fitting the cloth portion of the diaper allowing for quite a bit of leakage. So we opted for sanity and went with disposables for 3 weeks, but are now happily back to our gDiapers and today he made it through the entire day without needing a new cloth portion! Not one spill! I hope this lasts, I really want to continue with our g's.

It's supposed to be 85 and sunny in NY tomorrow - sounds like a day at the village pool where I will take pictures/video. Today turned in to one long 16 hour play fest with the worlds most energetic 14 month old and he hid my camera for most of it. No worries, I bribed him with Nilla Wafers and got it back after dinner, just after we discovered that he does not like veggie curry.

July 12, 2008

Cutest gBum

We took Ashton on a picnic to celebrate the beautiful weather and also decided it was time to return to gDiapers. We took a break for a few weeks to let Sir Poopsalot develop a slightly more reliable "routine", and after gDiapers released their new really cute brief designs figured this must be a sign for us to return to green diapering. Seriously, check out the new designs - so cute.

The cutest gBum

He decided climbing all over the place during the picnic was pretty fun, and didn't even notice when mom decided the gBum was cuter than the pants...

He's regulated a bit on the napping front, usually prefers one morning and one afternoon 40-50 minute nap. The times are a bit random, sometimes 9:30 and 1:30, sometimes 11:00 and 4:00, but he makes it pretty obvious when it's time to go down for a nap so we're just rolling with the flex schedule for now. 40-50 minutes isn't long enough to actually accomplish anything so we usually just take it as an opportunity to straighten up a bit and if we're lucky shower. We did finally install a gate at the top of the stairs so that I can get dressed using both arms (a luxury, who would've thought?) without having to worry about him tumbling down the stairs. His bedtime is more on the consistent end, usually going down between 7:30 - 8:30PM but ALWAYS waking up between 5:45 - 6:30AM. We're beginning to seriously consider a 5:30-9:30AM babysitter...would that be bad?

But seriously, we're pretty much off the idea of group daycare and are now frantically searching for a babysitter (well two actually, one for work days upstate and one for workdays in the city) and have no idea where to begin. Ashton hasn't yet spent a night in Brooklyn but we're thinking this is bound to happen in the next few weeks, and inevitable once I go back to work in August so may start to break him into the idea fairly soon.

So for now we're going to return to focusing on the adorable gBum crawling/walking around the lawn and will go back to the daycare debacle sometime later. It's an issue we're getting really good at putting off...

July 11, 2008

So Close To Running

All three of us are in a spot right now that feels like we're so close to running. The video of Ashton at the end of this post provides a great visual (and personally I think it's worth watching the entire minute and a half just to see the sheer lust of a one year old after Grandma's cookies!) but to summarize...

Ashton: Depending on the carrot you dangle in front of him he'll take anywhere from 2 to 10 steps on his own. He loves the park and loves the pool and LOVES staring at other children, so if you combine animal crackers or strawberry fig newtons with any of those things you can pretty much guarantee yourself a viewing of at least 5-6 steps. So close to running.

Jo: Every day I ask myself two questions. How do people do this for 12 weeks? And, How do people do this for 12 weeks? The first time is usually because I'm dreaming of going back to work and am very excited about being in the throws of things once again. The second time is usually because I can't possibly imagine leaving Ashton with a daycare center or nanny and just want to do it all myself instead of returning to work. The first round of the question always wins, but it's taken me quite a few times of asking myself that question to truly internalize the answer, so I'm categorizing it as close to running. Maybe tomorrow.

Mike: Has never really been one for walking so for the most part is already running and will always be. His challenge resides more in the realm of figuring out where else to run. And he will.

A quick video of Ashton so close to running - any day now!

Quick lead test/county involvement clarification - When a child is blood tested (in NY at least, not sure about other areas) the results are automatically sent to the local county health department which is how ours found out about Ashton's lead levels (which have since decreased to an acceptable level - YEAH!). So, if your little one has blood drawn the results of those tests may be shared with your local county health department automatically and they would then follow up on any red flags. This is what happened to us. Everything is fine, they (now) understand the circumstances, and things are chugging along. Cheers.

July 8, 2008

Things To Do

Because there are many, many things to do. We need to apply for Ashton's social security card, legally change his name, complete the readoption process, and submit our first post-adoption report to our adoption agency. Unfortunately there aren't people lining up to help define this process as there were in the adoption process itself so we're finding ourselves a bit lost. Evidently we'll need to hire a lawyer to complete the readoption but have heard that we can apply for the SSN before this happens (and maybe the legal name change?) though aren't sure at all about whether we should do this pre or post readoption and what the pros and cons are. We'll post more as we work our way through this process.

Another thing we need to "take care of" is easing the county's minds that we weren't the ones who exposed our son to lead poisoning. His blood tests came back with toxic levels of lead (which were retested and are now decreasing, though the county doesn't seem to care...). They inspected our home, which is 100+ years old, and of course found the exterior paint to contain lead. Dr. Aronson (the orphan doctor) spent a significant amount of time on the phone convincing them that we weren't the ones to expose him to the toxic levels of lead, but per protocol they still had to inspect. Long and short of this saga is that we'll have to scrape and repaint some areas of our home which we would LOVE to do TODAY but can't because the county needs to have a formal "plan" in place before we can do anything. So basically they're going to hop on the fact that our son tested for high levels of lead but aren't going to let us fix it until they've filed the appropriate paperwork and planned the right course of action... how about letting us just get rid of the lead??? Frustrating.

Last but not least, the BEST thing to do. GO TO THE POOL! I took Ash to the local pool today and he L-O-V-E-D it!!! He crawled around the kiddie pool and loved bouncing and splashing and playing in the spray areas. He's such a honey. He's taken up to 10 steps on his own, talks (in his own really cute language) to us all the time, and still wins the hearts of the restaurant staff when we take him out to lunch/dinner.

Next post - the daycare/nanny saga...holy crap.

July 5, 2008

Meets And Greets

My sister came to town yesterday and to kick off a fabulous weekend the 4 of us enjoyed an afternoon Brooklyn BBQ at casa cloverlandfarm. The you better make it a double family (soon to be triple!) were able to make it as well and Ashton took to the girls immediately. He was mesmerized by Hilina's singing and Saida's quick moves and loved soaking up the rays while basking in the kiddie pool. He even got to ride on his first Harley at a local toy store in Brooklyn (watch out Papa!) before heading upstate. Today he turned 14 months and spent the day being adorable and loving his Auntie Jewels who gave him the coolest new toy - a Sesame Street push/ride along truck that sings about colors and shapes! He spent the evening pushing it around the house and took multiple steps on his own while rolling it from one side of the living room to the other, and even showed off his skills of being able to mount his new truck forwards, backwards, and sideways...we have a climber on our hands.

Two days of photo ops:

Ashton discovering the joys of the local toy store upstate:

Ashton loving the giant bubble machine!

Happy 14 month birthday Ashton - Mama and Dada love you!

July 2, 2008

A Day Of Food And General Cuteness

Lots of firsts today:
*Ashton's first lunch at a Japanese restaurant. He enjoyed chewing on the pickled veggies and loved the seaweed salad dad fed to him using chopsticks! (No raw fish this time...yet)
*He discovered animal crackers! Grandma brought them last weekend and today decided it was time to open the box. About 4 crackers in to the experience he even forced himself to take 4 steps COMPLETELY SOLO just so that he wouldn't have to put the box down to get from point A to point B! He tipped over after the 4th step, but it was still adorable.
*I was chopping garlic while feeding him dinner and he pointed to one of the whole cloves. Those of you who have met Ashton know that when he points to something you had better give it to him, so I did. And he sucked on it...the entire clove of garlic. I had to pry it out of his hands about a minute into gut-busting laughter - he had no idea what was so funny.
*General cuteness - the last 4 pictures are just because.


July 1, 2008

July? Seriously?

I'm literally in shock. I have absolutely no idea where June went, and am completely unwilling to dedicate any energy to figuring it out so am running with the plan to be really excited about it being July and just passing off June as a month that was. The last 30 days have been, have been, crap I just can't finish that sentence. Assigning an adjective feels like way oversimplifying. We flew to Dubai then Addis Ababa and met our son and then traveled with him in Ethiopia and actually took him home with us!

We introduced him to his new bedroom and the completely foreign idea of sleeping one to a crib in a room all by yourself, alone. We worked through this and now he (might) kind of like it and has gone from eating anything you put in front of him to actually being picky (don't you dare show him the fruit before he's finished his vegetable - and if you show him a freshly baked sweet potato forget about it, that's all he'll eat!). He's still shy, but but he GIGGLES! Playtime has gone from being crazy over the top observant for any signs of things that may need attention to just good 'ol fashioned playtime. When mom puts him in his crib for the night he knows she'll be there when he wakes up, and he still saves his messiest diapers for dad (I'm convinced this is on purpose, used purely as an excuse to get more time with dad!).

He's met family and friends and the necessary locals (the toy shop owner, of course) and will meet his auntie Jewels this weekend. And at the end of every single day I'm still his mom and Mike is still his dad. It just doesn't get any better.

Ashton clapping for the first time to Waltzing Matilda

Happy July everybody, and congrats to all of the recent CHI referrals!