August 31, 2008

Over The River And Through The Woods

But it was Grandma who came to us this time! One of the more difficult posts to write is the one that comes almost a week after writing your last, there's just something about having an entire week to summarize. Not that we lead such fabulously interesting lives that every moment of the past 7 days MUST be chronicled online, but within the confines of my own little four-walled cranium I like to think the events of a day are somehow meaningful, even if it's just to me.

That said, who has time to recap 7 days chalk-full of firsts and returns and visits and day to day thrills? I'm officially copping's a slide show. Enjoy!

(PS: Week #1 back at work could not have gone better. Grandma's presence helped to ease the transition enormously and having a 3rd set of hands around the house was absolutely priceless. We're eating up our 3-day holiday weekend together, but feel fully equipped to start another work and school week with only a slight bit of uncertainty. But let's face it, there's always a bit of that, isn't there.)

A week with grandma = LOTS of smiles!

August 25, 2008

The Plan: Overcome all obstacles to bring new toy train from the bottom of the stairs to the top of the stairs. Hopes = HIGH


The Plan: Return to work leaving my flip flops home with Ashton while donning my favorite 3.5" Wonder Woman heels. (If you look closely in this picture you can see Ash helping by attempting to hold my flip flops hostage while pushing my heels towards me. He's clearly excited about his week with Grandma!)

Outcome: I'll spare you the graphic details, but all of my toes will officially attest that there is in fact a grind and I am in fact back in it.

My projected outcome for the end of the week? Loads of playtime fun and cookies for Ash, and a pedicure and massage for momma.

Day #1 = Survived. And maybe even a little bit looking forward to day #2, but don't tell anybody.

August 24, 2008

Nothing Beats...

An afternoon with friends on a gorgeous lawn in beautiful weather overlooking stunning scenery while munching on goodies and tasting delicious local wine.

An evening with friends grilling everything in site (meat, fruit, vegetables, bread, you name it - it went on the grill) while enjoying truly sincere conversation and overall just happiness.

A lazy Sunday morning.

And most importantly for today, nothing beats the feeling of being cozy at home on a Sunday evening the night before everything changes, knowing that the changes aren't something to worry about but are more agents of discovery for a whole new part of life yet to be experienced. Granted, I may be slightly on edge about said "agents of discovery" right now, but eventually I'll see them as something that couldn't have possibly been beat.

But even more important, nothing beats my son's smile. I'm absolutely useless when he turns to full-on giggle mode - useless.

August 22, 2008

TGIF, Kind Of

We thoroughly enjoyed the most fantastic of Fridays today, though it was a bit bitter sweet knowing that it's the last Friday before Ashton heads to daycare, I head back to work, and things pick up significantly for dad at work. We've had a whirlwind of a week trying to wrap up projects at home and solidify plans for the coming weeks, but all in all I think we're all prepared to face the challenge of Monday. Of course it helps significantly that Grandma is here for the first week to help with the transition, and as an added bonus this just might mean some cookies for mom and dad...

This weekend friends are visiting for our local grass fed beef and red wine festival, which means YUM for mom and dad and plenty of picnic fun and playtime with other kiddos for Ashton. And I have a feeling there will be some Rock Band played at some point or another...just guessing.

August 20, 2008

Sunshine And 75 Degrees

I love this time of year in NY, and it's just going to keep on getting better right through the holidays. Plenty of berry picking, apple season, fall colors, Charlie Brown's Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas, and as many baked fruit deserts as you can possibly imagine will flood the next 4 months with wonderful scents and smiles. It still seems a bit surreal that we're actually going to be apple picking, pumpkin carving, and Christmas movie watching as a family of 3 THIS FALL. Never a happier thought.

He may only sleep 9 hours a night and go against every grain of normality in my mind when he's wide awake at 5:30AM, but our son still manages to attain "big ball of cuteness" status every day. Today in NY brought sunshine and 75 degrees so we spent the day picnicking and frolicking on the lawns of the local vineyards. Ate some fabulous sandwiches, rolled around in the grass, met some new friends, and just soaked up the love all afternoon.

It's almost Fall in New York and we're loving it!

August 19, 2008

He Wins.

6:30AM: Wakeup (despite his 9:30PM bedtime the previous night)
8:30AM: Park #1 (On Manhattan's Upper West Side. It was ok, lots of sand but none of the higher up climbing areas were secured with bars leaving LOTS of wide open space for Ash to tumble 7+ feet, fun for him but more of a stress fest for mom.)
10:00AM: Museum of Natural History (he LOVED it)
2:00PM: Bath (Park #1 and Museum fun left me with a boy caked in mud and museum carpet fur)
2:30PM: Park #2 (Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Good vibe but no water - it was HOT today!)
4:30PM: Park #3 (Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Great vibe, lots of water, specific toddler area - we are DEFINITELY going back to this park!)
9:00PM: BEDTIME!!! (during which he was still wide awake, though fell asleep immediately after finishing his bottle)

3 parks and 1 museum and mom was one tuckered lady. The boy, on the other hand, was ready for more. He officially wore me out today. Gods, if you're listening, please please please conjure a spell or two for a wake up call tomorrow past the hour of 6AM. Momma needs her sleep! Unfortunately my internal clock is still set to "wired during the PM, slow to wake up in the AM" and despite all efforts to head to bed shortly after Ashton I continue to have my most productive hours between 10 - 11:30PM. I either need to figure out how to force myself to sleep by 10PM or convince Ashton that it's against the law to wake up before 8AM. As you can guess the 2nd of those options is currently failing with flying colors so I'll be continuing to work on the first for now. Well, that or learn how to function on 6 hours of sleep and there's a better chance of Ashton arriving with breakfast in bed complete with cappuccino than that happening so I guess I know what I need to work on. (And it's not training Ash to work the cappuccino maker, just for clarification...)

He was so much fun today. So so so much fun.

August 18, 2008

Score 1 for NYC

I used to enter into our NYC trips with fear knowing that a blowout would soon be in our midst outside of the comforts of our cozy changing table, running water, outdoor garbage can, nearby storage bank of clothes, etc... We've changed many a diaper on park benches (which is probably more sanitary than most bathroom changing tables) but there's just something about "the blowout experience" that makes being in a familiar easy access environment something of a Shangri La.

Until today.

Today I slapped myself out of Not Observing The Obvious land and reminded myself that when in NYC you're never more than a block or two away from a laundromat. You say blowout? I say seriously easy access to $2 washing machines that will have your crapped on overalls and leaked over gDiaper clean and dry within the hour. Score.

August 17, 2008

A "Kind Of" Last Weekend

Our "real" last weekend wont happen until next weekend because I'm not officially going back to work until next Monday. But, I am going in to the office for some meetings tomorrow and this week is going include much more time-juggling in preparation, so this was kind of our last weekend. I'm guessing that I'll process the meaning of this by say, December, because I tend to be much more the "huh, so it really is going to be like that" kind of person rather than the "I know exactly how I'm going to feel and how this is going to go" kind of person. I prefer to live it and reflect rather than commit and expect. Nothing wrong with either, just a preference.

We spent the afternoon at the county pool and wore the boy out with loads of splashing, water tossing, sun, and meeting new friends. He fell asleep on the way home from the pool and we thought we might feel bad about transferring him from a quiet sleep in the car seat to dad's shoulder for dinner with a live band - but he slept through it like a champ and I must say it was one of the more civilized dinners out we've had, well, since May 30th. Everyone at The Otter LOVES Ashton so as soon as his eyes were even slightly open they were right there with some mashed potatoes - yum. He's got more than just us wrapped around those adorable little fingers...

As you may have guessed by now we tend to over-plan and then abandon all plans at the last minute and let nature take it's course. That way we still get to claim having "planned and prepared" while maintaining the right to blame the universe for any negative, right? So here is the week-in-advance plan that I'm already staring at and saying, "uh-huh...we'll see how that goes" for our first full week back to work:

Sunday: Grandma comes to town, loves on Ash, and he instantly decides that she is who he should spend all of his time with. Grandma rocks.
Monday: Ashton wakes up and says his first words, which actually form more of a sentence, "Good morning mom, can I play with Grandma today. Pleeeeeeease?" Mom and dad hole up in the office. Ash and Grandma love up the day.
Tuesday: Everyone to NYC!!! Mom and dad work, Grandma takes the true test...can she navigate the NYC subway with a stroller? (my bet is that a particular cab service ends up being particularly well funded that day)
Wednesday & Thursday: Mornings at the new daycare center with Grandma onsite, then back to familiar surroundings with Grandma taking over for the afternoons.
Friday: TGIF Ash style. Location TBD.
The following week: Ash will be loving daycare and mom and dad will be completely ready to share our little rock star with the toddler preschool world.

So there it is, our perfect transition to daycare plan because the following week he's all in - 3 days a week of full day toddler preschool supplemented with 2 days of mom and dad juggling hours with a few hand picked babysitters. We will be ready. I will be ready. He will be ready. I WILL be ready. He's going to be ready...right?

I will be ready.

August 16, 2008

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Life is certainly going on, bra...

Readoption: We did the research and started the process. The process (for NY at least) looks like this:
1) Find a good adoption lawyer and have a 15 minute call to cover the basic details.
2) Lawyer contacts social worker to obtain notarized copy of home study as well as any post placement reports that have been written. Lawyer then uses this information to file with your county court for a readoption hearing.
3) We drop off Ashton's official Ethiopian birth certificate to the county court. (We could mail it in, but the lawyer reminded us that this document should be considered one of a kind and nearly irreplaceable therefor dropping it in the mail is, well, scary.)
4) A handful of other forms need to be filled out, but essentially at this point we're just waiting for a court date.
5) Court date! The actual readoption will last just a few minutes in our local courthouse, at the end of which we'll receive Ashton's name change documents, social security card (with updated name), NY birth certificate, and all necessary paperwork to apply for a US passport. With a little luck this will all happen by Christmas this year. HOORAY!!!

Ribs: We took Ashton to the Hudson Valley Rib Fest today. 15 minutes in and he was pretty much covered head to toe in sauce.

Rockin Out: We did it, we're Wii owners with Rockband and Guitar Hero (cause you can't just get one or the other...) and are determined to unlock as many songs as possible this weekend. Thank goodness Ashton seems to know how to work the drums pretty well. Like any good 15 month old rock star would!

August 12, 2008

Bumps, Fives, Skin, And Kisses

Ashton has mastered the art of the bump, high fives, give me some skin, and blowing kisses. Somehow we managed to actually have the video camera handy after dinner tonight to catch the whole lot of them in action. Pretty darned amazing in itself right?

Today we completed our first post placement visit. Our social worker came for a visit and Ashton was in great form once he woke up from a nap in his stroller (we're finally getting tricky with ways to make him take an afternoon nap so that he's more on the daycare schedule...I'm guessing he'll catch on in about 2 days and arrange a formal revolt). He showed off his LEGO, walking, block building (and crashing down, of course), and hammering of shapes skills and she took loads of notes as we recounted that last 15 months of our life. You see, we started the adoption process in May of 2007 and Ashton was born on May 5th of 2007. It was just a hare over a year from us starting the process when we finally met our son, and we've now been together exactly 10 weeks today. It's amazing, and I'm really not doing the verb justice by settling for the word amazing, how far things have come in 10 weeks.

The next two weeks are going to fly by. He's going to run quicker, feed himself faster, add more words to his vocabulary, and keep on sharing smiles that make me forget that our washer and dryer have been on the fritz since he came home and we opted for cloth'ish diapers...OH WAIT - NEWS!!! The washer is F-I-X-E-D and the dryer will be later this evening (turned out to be just a broken belt) so we'll avoid the whole re-plumbing option and have a complete set of washing drying animals all set to line up for duty by later this evening. Hallelujah. Holy s***. Where's the Tylenol? (For those of you less familiar with the most sacred of Christmas movies, you'll find the quote about half way down the linked to page)

August 11, 2008

Ah-Hah Moments

There is little that tops an ah-hah moment. As a young married couple who's greatest concern this time last year was getting our home study scheduled and making sure our Sunday NFL picks were in on time, and who today are parents to a beautifully active 15 month old boy, you can imagine we're experiencing quite a few ah-hah's these days.

Ah-Hah #1: Beware the bright night light

Ashton has been waking up at least once a night in need of 15-20 minutes of cuddle time before he'll go back to bed. He didn't do this at all when we introduced him to the Brooklyn apartment nor did he when we were visiting family in MN. Last nights wakeup frustrated me more than usual as I already hadn't been sleeping well, and as I was pushing back the urge to give him a stern "go to sleep it's 2:30AM and you're OBVIOUSLY tired why wont you just go back to sleep!" kind of look I quickly refrained and began thinking about what could possibly be different between his crib at home that would be causing the middle of the night stirrings. Ah-hah. The night light. We didn't have a night light for him in Brooklyn and there wasn't one in his room in MN either. And the one at home is pretty bright. So I removed it, and he went back to sleep. Tonight is the real test - wish us luck. I'm hopeful we'll wake up at 7:30 tomorrow morning wondering, "did he really sleep 11 hours through"? Again, wish us luck.

Ah-Hah #2: Renting is really sexy when what you own is on the fritz

In the last year we've either had problems with or had to completely replace our septic system, furnace, washer, dryer, shower, outdoor pipes, indoor plumbing, car, CAR CAR CAR, and are in the process of replacing 28 windows and scraping and repainting our porch. Who's idea was it to buy a house? Oh right...we fell in love with the 100 year old original windows (that we now have to replace because of lead content). I love our home, but ah-hah...renting is sexy sometimes.

Ah-Hah #3: I'm never going to get it and shouldn't even concede to being open to never getting it. Karma will step in and make sure that the next thing I don't get will still surprise the hell out of me as her way of proving that not only will I never get it, but I'll never get not getting it either.

Tonight we were in a restaurant eating dinner (trying to keep Ash up past 6PM...waking up at 6:15AM and only taking one 20 minute nap makes a guy tired early) when at the end of the meal he decided to go for a walk. He walked past a few tables, through a crowd, and directly in to the arms of a woman sitting in a booth. She didn't call to him, didn't put her arms out, he just walked right up to her and stuck his arms up ASKING to be picked up! He rarely does this to mom and dad let alone a stranger, and NEVER a female. She must've just had a look or a touch or a vibe or something that called to him - it was tres bizarre. She enjoyed it as much as we did and after explaining to her why we were absolutely dumbfounded we all had a nice laugh and just savored the moment. I have no idea what to expect next with this boy, it's so much fun most of the time. (Oh come on, we all know it can't be all fun and giggles all of the time...surprises are surprises and sometimes they kind of suck. I'm going to refrain from giving examples because the most recent include more bodily fluid than is probably OK to post publicly...I'll spare you the details for now.)

Tomorrow is our first post placement visit with our social worker and today marks the first day of my last two weeks as a stay at home home. Has it honestly been 10 weeks already? Ah-hah...

August 7, 2008

Freaking Favre...

So really, as a MN Vikings fan I spent life learning to despise the Green Bay Packers (and by default Bret Favre) and then the butterfinger winds up un-retiring to sign with none other than the NY Jets! I guess we'll be NY Giants fans this year. Favre in NY, huh. I don't foresee sleeping well tonight...

Speaking of sleeping well, Ashton slept from 8:30PM to 8:30AM last night. 12 hours. For the 2nd night in a row. For those of you still in the waiting stage yet to be united with your babe/s this is HUGE. I'm of the mind that he slept later in an effort to dream away the reality that Favre is now part of a NY team (but will NEVER be a New Yorker, let's just keep that clear) but I find it rather convenient that he decided to wait until 2 weeks before I go back to work to start sleeping past 5:30AM. Way to go son.

Huge strides this week - almost eating with a spoon, almost running (crawling is soooo July, we're in August now people - keep up!) and I swear he assembled tonight's lasagna all on his own, well, at least if you count sucking on each clove of garlic just to make sure it was ok to add to the sauce... he's a good Italian.

Here are some pics from our MN world tour - everything from a backyard BBQ to a wedding to the grand pool party to a day at the zoo. Cheers to all and happy August!

August 6, 2008

All About Crazy

Crazy Sisters

Crazy Cousins

Crazy Great Grandmothers

More Crazy Great Grandmothers

And Of Course, Crazy Aunts!

Where have I been for a week? Well, in a nutshell, in the nuthouse being crazy. And I suppose if we're being grammatically correct that would be nuthouses - as in multiples. You see, for the past week the 3 of us have been on the road touring good 'ol Minnesota and Wisconsin guiding the magical mystery tour of Ashton McGregor. He met Great Grandmas (THREE!!!), grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, relatives and friends. Some traveled across the street and others ventured from the serene North Woods to the scary Twin Cities and survived to tell the tale. I'm of the thought that all found the trip worth their while because let's face it - he's got one freaking adorable smile that tends to melt away the stress from even a 300 mile journey.

Back to reality. Lots to say. Need some sleep and a day of "routine" and returning to being a New Yorker before getting away with saying most of it. It's good to be home.