September 30, 2008

The Favre Effect

So it seems a bit counter productive to be dedicating an entire post to the very individual responsible for most blood boiling moments during football season for all native Minnesotans, but there's an analogy here that lends itself to a current situation that I otherwise couldn't emotionally deal with writing about right now so I'm just going to run with it.

The Favre Effect in current NFL terms means that every team that the Packers Jets play needs to be 100% prepared to intercept the football on every play. He is, after all, the most intercepted quarterback in NFL history so the teams they face are all the better when prepared to capitalize on their opponent's weakness. The Favre Effect - Be ready to intercept the most intercepted. Makes sense.

On to the analogy (and I admit I'm stretching it here...)

The Favre Effect is similar to the process that parents of children adopted internationally go through with their pediatricians. The Favre part describes the many possible health complications that could realize, and the Favre Effect part wraps the ongoing thought in every (or at least my) adoptive parent's mind that although you're taking the best of percautions, something could be tossed your way and be intercepted, winding yourself in a tough scenario to deal with.

Ash tested positive on a skin TB test. His chest xrays taken over the summer were negative, so most pediatricians would say testing positive on a sking test was a fluke. But not those experienced in international adoption, and especially not those experienced in adoptions from Ethiopia. We contacted Dr. Aronson (The Orphan Doctor) and she confirmed that it's likely Ash was exposed to TB and now has Latent TB and should undergo a 9 month preventive treament plan. I could end this with one massive run on sentence detailing how we shouldn't be worried and that when treated even Active TB is usually not fatal and that we're lucky we caught it and are confident appropriate measures will be taken..but to be really really real...

Gods, please don't throw for an interception here - we need a touchdown pass and 9 months of complication-free TB treatment. Please.

Sorry for the NFL analogies, but they're keeping me sane today.

September 28, 2008


My son has been saying "uh-ohhhh" a lot lately and I'm just now starting to understand why.

First there was this (REALLY worth watching)

And then this (Yeah, again - REALLY worth watching)

And now I get it. And as an added bonus we've identified the one green vegetable that Ash will eat AS A SNACK!!! Seriously, he loves edamame as much as french fries. I love it. He loves it. We're all about veggie happiness today - good weekend, good weekend. I wonder if Russia has edamame - how far is Alaska from Japan?

September 26, 2008

September 25, 2008

A Smile And A Wave

Yesterday: Another nice almost-7AM wake up time (6:50 this time, but I'll take it) followed by oatmeal, Legos, a few stories, and a few cappuccinos. And then we dropped him off at daycare and set him down in the toddler room and signed him in - nothing new. But then we got ready to leave and instead of a big hug and a quick cry our little darling was already sitting at the craft table waving goodbye to us with a smile on his face. And then he went about starting the day's craft project without a second thought. A smile and a wave and we were on our way to work.

Then last night we spent time running around in the yard and completing the evening routine, only with the babysitter watching on so that she could do this herself the next time we go out. We put him to bed, made sure the babysitter could sign on to our wireless network so she could do homework while we went on a date, and then we left for the evening. This may all sound like a normal par for the course day to experienced parents out there, but it was freaking surreal for us. We felt like a somewhat functional routine driven family of 3. It was weird. I want it to happen again next Thursday.

Today: He slept until 7:30. Enough said.

September 24, 2008

Moving Right Along

Ashton is 16 months 19 days old and has been in our arms 3 months 21 days. He spent the first 13 months of his life in Ethiopia where he learned to sit up, eat crackers, crawl, pull himself up on objects and even take a step or two. It was in Ethiopia where he mastered the art of projectile vomiting, but also the art of charming everyone within eye shot. He learned a lot during his first 13 months, here are some details on the 3 1/2 that have followed:

*Forget walking, he's running. Up hills, down hills, over and under fences, and through pumpkin patches (my favorite).
*He'll eat anything. He may spit it out or shoot a "why did you feed THAT to me?" look in your direction, but he'll at least try it. He's down to one bottle a day, just before bedtime.
*Ma ma ma, buh buh buh, da da da, and Ay-EEE-aaai-mmm-boooooi (said repeatedly and with varying tones) are so yesterday. Today he's more nuh or ehh (when pointing to a horse), uff (dog), and mow (cat). He also says a lot of Uh-ohhh...
*Meltdowns have severely decreased in frequency, though he still requires a fairly regular reminder of what will happen if he throws himself on the floor and screams loud enough so that even those folks living in Alaska on that island with a road that's not connected to a bridge can hear him.
*I need more refrigerator space. He comes home from school with beautiful artwork at least 3 times a week so I quickly ran out of space on the fridge and started taping them to the walls. He likes finger painting best. We do a lot of laundry.
*Surprise surprise, the boy likes to rock out. He'd rather sit on our laps and read a story with music blaring in the background than pretty much anything else - it's the cure all. Needless to say we end our evenings with a combo rock/read jam session every night.

And last but certainly not least, DRUM ROLL PLEASE...

7:30PM - 7:00AM - HIS SLEEPING HOURS FOR 3 NIGHTS IN A ROW!!! I'm one proud (and well rested) momma. And I totally just jinxed myself didn't I...

On one last note, we contacted, interviewed, and hired for one night only... a babysitter! Tomorrow night we will put Ashton to bed and then leave him in the hands of another person long enough to go to dinner and maybe even a movie but most definitely a late night cocktail at a bar...without a baby. I'm only slightly concerned because we haven't done this since, well the night be fore we left for Ethiopia in May, and I'm afraid our date night planning skills have suffered a bit. My guess is that they'll come back pretty quickly the moment we realize that we can enjoy our glass of wine in a restaurant without having to employ our super power reflexes in the event that a certain someone decides to throw a certain something (body parts included) in the glasses general direction. It's been a while since I've enjoyed a glass of wine over dinner with only one hand.

But what you really came for...

September 23, 2008

Mesgana Dancers Of Ethiopia

If you happen to be in the NY/NJ area this weekend the Mesgana Dancers of Ethiopia will be performing at 2PM and 7PM on Saturday in South Orange, NJ. Click here for more info. Proceeds from the event will go to the Children of Ethiopia Education Fund.

September 21, 2008


I have to admit I got a bit teary eyed this evening when I noticed my son, who couldn't otherwise care less about TV, was mesmerized by the Bill Maher show. He totally got the jokes but is still fundamentally concerned about how the "fundamentals of our economy" are doing...

Corn! Corn! Corn!

So this is my attempt at drawing my husband's attention away from my obsessive shoe habit and towards all of the fun (free) activities of the weekend thereby justifying said shoe habit. I do promise to share pics of the latest shoe acquisition soon, but the "problem" is only 3 pairs have arrived with the last 2 still in transit, so the the project would just seem incomplete. Well that and the fact that 1 of the first 3 pairs gave me agonizing blisters over the weekend so I'm a little tilted on my opinion of them right now. Freaking heeled mary jane's with the perfect amount of toe cleavage leaving me bloodied in the middle of a pumpkin patch. But they're so damn adorable... Maybe I'll just dye them red.

September 18, 2008


When we first moved from our small town Montana community to NYC 7 years ago I was a middle school math teacher in the South Bronx, Mike was a photographer's assistant in Soho, and our days were very, very different. My first week of teaching was dominated by trying to figure out what to do with the girl rocking back and forth in the fetal position in the back of my room and sorting out dismissal on 9/11. I remember trying to make sure my students were all picked up and escorted home accordingly so that I could manage my own mess of a subway commute to our 5th story walk-up studio in hopes of finding my husband there waiting for me safe and sound. My husband's first week of work involved picking up photo supplies for his new boss only to be caught in the middle of the lower Manhattan subway mess as 9/11 was occurring, soon finding himself scaling the porch walls of an apartment building to get a better angle.

Describing the first 7 years of our marriage would require a myriad of run-on sentences, and will always point back to those first pungent days when we sucked at everything from trying to figure out what to do during a national disaster to dealing with sorting each others laundry. So here we are, 7 years 3 months later. 7 Falls, 4 apartments and 1 house, first 1 cat then 2, first 0 children now 1. One would think that with so much change would come an inherent ability to catch on, deal with, and/or rise to every challenge that dare find it's way in our path. But to be honest, if this were kindergarten in the 80's we'd both be in the "fighting turtles" class with nary a glimpse over the gate at the cooler and quicker "roaring lions" class.

I actually don't really have a point to this mess of sentences but for some reason find myself needing to remind myself that at the end of the day, I'm a brand new mom who used to be someone different and is not quite sure who she is or should be today. Hell, even Sundays are messed up. I'm a die hard Vikings fan turned NY Giants fan who hates Bret Favre Bert Faver and the Packers but now must just hate the Packers without Bert or the Jets with Bert...but I kind of like the Jets and don't really mind the Packers as long as Bert isn't Sundays are just confusing. So, so confusing.

What on Earth does this all have to do with the title of this post, "Shoes" you ask? Abso-freaking EVERYTHING. Come on - when you wake up reminiscing about random years of your life questioning your parenting strategies, your routines, your obligations, what better to do than hunker down and scan the Web for the newest, sexiest, most fabulous shoes you can find?!! So I did, and I found them. Well, actually 3 of them...

Someday I'll take all of those feelings and find somewhere productive to stuff them, but for now I'm going to break in my new Camper Mary Jane's and live a little fun with the most adorable boy in the universe... and he couldn't care less that his mom just might be a shoe junkie.

T-minus 3 hours till T.G.I.F - and counting every second.

September 16, 2008

A Is For... Absolutely Nothing

So we officially failed our first daycare homework assignment. I got a note in Ashton's box when I picked him up yesterday requesting that all parents cut out pictures in magazines that begin with the letter A and bring them in for projects the kids are doing this week. FUN! FUN! We can absolutely do that! But no no, nothing that readily appears in a magazine actually begins with the letter A. Seriously - take a gander at your mags in the morning, the letter A is nowhere to be found. At first I thought we'd have no problem finding an apple or an airplane, but after an hour of combing literally every mag in the house (and I admit we subscribe to a few...) all we could come up with was a picture of Lance "A"rmstrong, some plumbs that we passed off as "A"pples, and a teeny tiny photo of an "A"larm clock thanks to the fall issue of Pottery Barn. Needless to say I was on the receiving end of a rather stern look from his teacher when I picked him up this afternoon as if to say, "seriously, this is the BEST you could do?"

Yup. We'll do better next time. Promise.

September 13, 2008

My Attempt At Solving World Peace (because I heard it's easier than solving toddler tantrums...)

Someone MUST know how to do this - and WHY haven't they written a book letting the rest of us in on all of their dirty secrets for making parenting work? Well as it turns out they have, we've read them, and they suck. So back to square one. Our perfect little 15 month old has turned into a 16 month old which seems to mean a complete disregard for all habits and "norms" leading up to this date. I put "norms" in quotes because one must remember that although my son is 16 months old, I've been a practicing parent for a mere 3 months. So any parents out there with a desire to wag your finger at me saying "16 months is SOOOO much easier than 1 month, or 3 months, or...etc" please pack that finger back in your toddler's nose. (Which, as a side note, we've had to do ridiculously often lately as well. At what point will he start going through less than 3 boxes of Kleenex a week?) Maybe 16 months would be easy had we been building our relationship and norms for that entire 16 months. But we haven't, its been just over 3 months, and norms are still very much so on their way to being built. So there.

As you might have already guessed we're experiencing some, well, changes in Ashton's behavior. Particularly when it comes to behaving. And particularly when it comes to behaving during meal times. I just want my child to scrumptiously yet delicately lick his fingers in delight post delicious meal and smile at the chef in a heartwarming manner that lands us a free desert. Is that too much to ask? Apparently so. So, we're employing all of the tactics and holding our breath that our dear sweet child will return to his culinary ways...soon. Really God, SOON. Please God? Soon?

So, what does a family accustomed to dining out yet TEMPORARILY faced with behavior issues do on a Saturday? Go to the orchards!!!

We live in apple picking country so today we picked apples. And rode a cow train. And took a hayride. And rode John Deere tricycles. And wandered through a corn maze. And wore ourselves out so there was no possible way that dinner could include a meltdown...and now it's almost time for bed.

Thank the freaking Gods we made it. I'm bald and Mike's crying in a corner but the blessed babe is fed and asleep and we're all still alive to tell the tale of another day. A really freaking awesome day.

September 12, 2008

Melkam Addis Amet!

We are officially not the coolest parents at school, well at least if you ask the parents. The kids? Well, they think we're AWESOME! We made cupcakes and frosted the Ethiopian flag on each to share at daycare yesterday in celebration of Ethiopian New Year, and according to Ashton's teachers the sugar bombs went over quite well with the kiddos. The remnant red, yellow, and green bits painted all over everyones clothing on the other hand was not quite as big a hit with the parents. Seriously - red, green, and yellow frosting EVERYWHERE.

Dinner at Awash was amazing and has solidified it's place as our favorite NYC Ethiopian restaurant. There was one particular moment during dinner when my spirits were lifted in just the right way. The owner of the restaurant commented to me, "You're so lucky". Yes, we are so lucky and I so needed to hear someone say that. Not because I didn't already know that we're lucky (duh) but because we've been the recipients of the opposite comment on an increasing scale lately and it's been frustrating. Just in the past few weeks I've heard everything from "hopefully one day he'll understand how lucky he is that you plucked him out of there" to "he's so lucky that you chose him" to several other variations on the same theme. Thankfully Ashton isn't yet old enough to understand these comments and therefor hasn't been made to feel like the charity case these types of comments automatically peg him to be. But someday he will, and probably sooner rather than later, and it scares me - a lot.

The restaurant owner probably had no idea how much her comment meant to me. Just a simple reminder that the majority of people do get it. Most do understand that the grieving process for Ashton over having lost so much is an ongoing process and will come in waves, sometimes really difficult ones, and is something that nobody is lucky to have to go through. There's no doubt that he is physically healthier here in NY, but his physical health came with a massive trade off. We're so lucky and so fortunate and so humbled to be his parents, I just hope that one day he understands how lucky we were that he plucked us out of the batch of dossiers, and how lucky we are that he chose us.

Yesterday was a very happy new year, Melkam Addis Amet!

September 10, 2008

Completely Adjusted, Already?

When we dropped Ashton off at daycare this morning he proceeded to turn on the tears as usual however this time Mike and I stayed to chat with one of the teachers about an explosive Jello experience Ash's pants were involved in yesterday. A few minutes later as we turned to leave the teacher holding Ash said to us, "You know he stops crying like 10 seconds after you leave. He's completely adjusted and hasn't had a breakdown during the day even once."

Huh. Our little 16 month old is such a trooper.

Tomorrow we're bringing cupcakes with the Ethiopian flag drawn on top to daycare as a special treat in honor of Ethiopian New Year. Then we're all heading into the city for the night to celebrate at Awash, an Ethiopian restaurant in the East Village. A bunch of our friends are gathering and there will be tons of food and tej (Ethiopian honey wine) so I expect the three of us will roll our way to Brooklyn with full tummies and happy hearts. Can't wait.

September 7, 2008

A Very Fine Sunday

Yesterday's muggy, rainy day spent trying to cool off any way possible at the Hudson Valley Food & Wine fest enticed us to spend today, a much more comfortable 75 and sunny, hiking through our backyard - the Minnewoska State Park Preserve. We're fortunate to live within 6 miles of hundreds of miles of hiking trails, some of the best rock climbing in the country, and the ability to pack up with minimal preparation and head into the woods for a day. Today's route included Lake Minnewoska which just happened to be playing host to the annual SOS event: Survival of the Shawangunks! This event is sort of like a triathlon but insane. SOS is an eight part wilderness adventure race that includes one cycling segment, four trail running segments, and three open water lake swims that together total 40 miles of biking, 18 miles of trail running, and 3 miles of open water swimming. Nuts. At one point during our hike after being passed by the 30th or so runner in a wet suit my husband turned to me and said, "I wonder what decides whether or not they run in their wet suits" (some did, some didn't) and all I could reply with was, "my shock and awe with these people stops after the word "run" babe, wet suit or no wet suit."

I must also plug our new toy for Ashton as we used it at both events this weekend and it served it's purpose fabulously. The Kelty Kids TC was the perfect way to mingle with families at the festival yesterday while keeping Ashton comfortable and with enough room to play with an object or two (small ones, usually a pretzel and an animal cracker!). It has a sizable backpack attached along with a smaller diaper bag/backpack component that zips off (perfect for one of us to carry while the other totes the tot!). It came through again today on our hike keeping both father and son clean and cool (well, aside from the "darling, why is my leg dripping?" episode...) but overall the suspension method for the child and wicking system were very enjoyed. The primary impetus for this purchase was our upcoming trip to Estes Park, CO in October, but it's going to be fantastic for our weekend hikes, festivals, and other random outdoor events when prolonged comfort, wicking system for sweat, and a bit of storage are key.

Post-outdoor love we headed back into town to teach our son how to poke fun at Bret Favre Burt Faver at the Jets/Dolphins season opener. We decided that just because we're switching alliances from the Vikings to the Giants doesn't mean our Minnesota hearts can't continue to whoop whoop in delight each and every time the most intercepted man in history is again intercepted. We don't plan to teach mean spiritedness to our son on a regular basis, and he will understand the history of the relationship between Minnesotans and the 65 year old quarterback who should've retired years ago... but for the time being he'll make this face when the Wisconsin cheese head turned New York nursing home candidate actually manages to throw for a touchdown:

And then this face when he throws an interception!

NFL week #1: NY Giants 1-0, MN Vikings play Monday night football...might have to suit up in our father/son matching Un-Moss jersey's for that one!

This week includes Ethiopia's new year celebration (Thursday) so we'll most definitely be in NYC for at least a night or two hitting the local Ethiopian hot spots and introducing Ashton to our local Ethiopian community. Without a doubt going to be a very good week.

September 6, 2008

Life Is...

Bringing my baby to school. He loves it, is the youngest and by far the smallest, but no doubt the most keen. This kid is smart. He gets "it" and though I miss my days with him to be honest, I wasn't very good at it - and we're all loving our new "how was your day what did you do at school wow lets catch up over a fun dinner" kind of attitude. It rocks.

Becoming a Giants fan. This sentence isn't one easily written... we're die hard Vikings fans TO THE CORE... till this season. We brought Ash to the Giant's opener at our local Irish watering hole on Thursday night and he cheered and ate wings. Well, for the most part he wined a little about being kept out so late and really didn't enjoy the food... but still firmly aligned himself with the NY Giants as A FAN. (helps that the local pub owner has a daughter with a child just about Ash's age who LOVES him so we can converse about "baby in a bar" stories...but it's the hippie version so trust me, this is all in good fun.)

This week also uncovered the fact that any attempt to work while engaging a 1 year old will ultimately, and OBVIOUSLY in your face fail. Ashton enjoyed a 1.5 hour bath time on Friday just before I called his daycare providers and locked him in full time. We were hoping to sort out a schedule of part time/tag team style daycare, which we quickly figured out is just not possible. Bye bye bath time colors and toys, hello structured (yet so much more fun) daycare loveliness.

And last but not least, I'm going to dress Ash in these pants until they're so tattered they wont stay on. He was the ultimate hit at the Hudson Valley Food and Wine fest today (at the Dutches County Fairgrounds) and then solidified his rein as NY's finest cutie later on. We're so, so, so, so, unbelievably lucky.


We're figuring it out, slowly but surely. There's just so much to learn.

September 1, 2008

Back To School '08

Yes, I've been back at work for a week, and yes, Ashton's primary caregivers during daytime hours last week were his Grandma and daycare providers, and yes, I've been absent from the classroom as a teacher for 3 years now. But nothing brings on the "back to school" feeling like Labor Day weekend, and we're certainly feeling it in our household tonight.

If last week was all about transitions then this week is all about routines. Last week Grandma was there to be a familiar caregiver to our son, plan and prep meals, and even organize the bathroom cupboard that I had written off as being unorganizable. This week we'll be the ones to drop off and pick up Ashton from daycare, and we'll be the ones back to the "normal" daytime schedule we were on pre-tot. To be honest it feels a little weird. I'm going to wake up in the morning, have my playtime with Ash, then bring him to school, then go to work and resume life as usual. Then I'll pick him up, we'll have dinner, and he'll likely zonk around 7:30/8:00 after a LONG day of playing and learning and observing and wondering. Wondering, after all, is hard work for a 1 year old!

My hesitation is no doubt a result of my own need to re-normalize. I have a feeling it's my husband and I who need the routine more than Ashton, though I'm sure he benefits from it as well somewhere down the line. It's back to school 2008 and my gut is telling me I'm not going to sleep much tonight. Better than had we jumped into this without last week's preparations, but still not so much. Grandma, if you're reading, any chance you can swing by around 8:30 tomorrow to hang with Ash and bring him to daycare???

The boy, in all his cuteness...