June 29, 2009

The Day The Horsies Moved Away

You would think that all of our reading and training on the topic of "loss" would have prepared us for a day like today. Nope. And what makes it even more difficult is that I know this is just a preview of what's to come when we really begin talking with Ash about his first loss. These are "just" horsies, she was his mom. Sammy and Dagie (the horsies), and Jigby and Rusty (the goats) were loaded into a trailer and moved to their new home today, a whole exit further north on the expressway - no longer part of the breakfast routine (we sing "Good Mooooorning Horsies!!!") and no longer part of the bedtime routine (I love you horsies, nye nye). I'm stuck in a hotel way too many miles away so daddy covered this one, and we think he understands that he'll still be able to visit his best friends in the entire universe from time to time, but my heart is absolutely breaking for him because I know he understands. He gets that they're not going to be there in the morning and that thought is absolutely crushing my heart. We'll miss you Sammy, Dagie, Rusty, and Jigby. We love you!

June 28, 2009

Cousins And Horsies And No Shortage Of Smiles

It's no hidden secret that Ash has a horsie fetish, so when we started telling him early last week that not only was he going to visit one of his favorite cousins but he was also going to ride a horsie, well, he was bonkers all week. We're the only two families in our immediate extended families who have ventured anywhere east of Chicago, and the day we figured out that we're really only about an hour and a half drive from each other we pretty much vowed to hang out as much as possible.

I can't tell you how cool it was to walk into a house and recognize the people in the pictures on the walls - my grandparents, MY DAD, usually I'm stuck staring at complete strangers (beautiful as they may be) when we get together with friends but not in this case. In this case we're family and its familiar and comfortable and relaxing and, well, like it is when we travel to...wait for it...family! This isn't to discount the bonds that are formed by friendships, as we certainly understand the depth that relationships can reach regardless of any sort of legally binding connection. And I'd even argue that in many of those cases I'd consider those friends as family and would be speaking (writing) about them the same way - as family.

So I guess the whole point is that we dig family. And we had a pretty fantabulous Saturday with family, and just in case you're more of a visual learner, here's some proof. No doubt here that Ash loves his cousin and Ash loves his horsies. Oh, and just in case you're wondering, he still loves chocolate too. Still waiting for those asparagus cravings to kick in...

June 26, 2009

Ash Moonwalks, ABC Style

Yup, we're one of those families who are taking a moment or two or three to celebrate the life of an iconic musician and entertainer. A father to three and a brother to many. A person who made substantial contributions to charities such as the American Cancer Society, Make-A-Wish Foundation, NAACP and many many others not to mention his creation of the Heal the World Foundation. Someone who changed the music industry forever and defined an era. RIP MJ.

A B C, It's easy as 1 2 3


Many have been commenting lately that Ash looks like he's grown so we stood him up to his growth chart and took a look. Indeed he has sprouted a full inch past his two year measurement of 34 inches and is now a solid 35! This is huge progress for one reason only: he is now just one tiny inch away from being able to ride the big boy rides at the amusement park! Not to be mistaken though, we fully intend to fluff the fro extra high at the parks this summer and take the suggestion of a friend and pack his sneakers with rice krispies treats to get that last inch. 36 wont be a problem at all, trust me. Ever since our day at Port Aventura in Spain last spring Ash has sought daredevil adventures, and it just so happens that this summer we're going to find ourselves nearby to several good 'ol fashioned amusement and water parks where we can now be certain he'll get his thrill fill. Hip hip hooray for growth spurts just in time - now this means he's going to start sleeping past 6AM too right? And craving asparagus?

June 25, 2009

Chocolate Milk Round Two

New rule: No more store bought chocolate milk. I'm beginning to think that all of the store bought (aka, loaded with sugar) chocolate milk Ash has been drinking lately might just be contributing to some of the less than ideal attitude he's been giving us glimpses of as well as the inching up of his wake up time. First 7:00, then 6:45, then 6:15 and 5:55, and then this mornings oh so lovely WIDE AWAKE at 5:30 moment which was just thrilling. Prior to about a week ago the only chocolate milk we were giving him was the homemade kind, mostly 2% milk with just a teaspoon or so of Hershey's sugar free chocolate syrup. But then we spent a long weekend at the Brooklyn apartment, followed by multiple evenings out this week all of which resulted in purchases of chocolate milk anytime we passed a Starbucks, sat down at a restaurant, well, you get the idea. Its just no coincidence that the behavior and sleep patterns started to change just about the time his daily sugar intake quadrupled.

So we're back to being the chocolate Gestapo which means back to the 1 teaspoon of sugar free Hershey's syrup in his evening milk and 60 calorie sugar free chocolate pudding for the after school snack. After a few short whimpers he got the picture today and seems to be on board with the new plan. I'm not planning on completely nixing chocolate, I mean come on, it's not BAD it's just not great in large doses and can even be completely ok when of the sugar free variety. So that's the new plan, sure to be replaced sometime relatively soon with an even newer surely better plan, and then eventually replaced with an entirely different plan when he decides he hates chocolate and wants to eat strawberry ice cream all day long. So tell me, at what point is he going to start craving asparagus? Maybe if I dip it in sugar free Hershey's chocolate syrup first...

A happy boy with his 60 calorie sugar free chocolate snack.
Mommy = 1, Chocolate = 0!

June 23, 2009

Chocolate Milk

That's the new obsession, chocolate milk. He used to run to the counters at coffee shops and grab a juice box of apple juice, orange juice, yellow juice (lemonade), but those days are so over. Now its directly to the $2.50 organic Horizon chocolate milk. Only tonight he got confused. We were on our way to the park to fly a kite (first day with no rain in a looooooong time) and stopped at the coffee shop for some beverages. I thought it a little odd when Ash selected the apple juice instead of the chocolate milk, but decided to run with it and made the purchase. About 50 feet from the coffee shop he promptly changed his mind and thus ensued a 2 hour crabby whine fest of "no want it apple juice, want it chocolate milk!" It was fun.

So much fun that we got to drag him from the park to the car (no kite flying for us today), from the car to the grocery store (where of course we ran in to more acquaintances than usual, God forbid we stay under the radar when the tot's pitching a fit...), and from the grocery store to home where we finally put him in bed, turned off the lights, and said night night. At 6:30. About 3-4 minutes later I opened his door and he (without prompting) hugged my legs and said "sorry mommy" in the worlds most perfectly adorable voice. And then he asked for chocolate milk. What's a mom to do? If I denied him his one earthly pleasure yet again there's no way he would understand WHY mommy was being a bitch mean person because we were definitely far enough removed from the original scenario for him to connect 2 hours earlier at the coffee shop with 2 hours later at home AFTER he had apologized and been all cute. Needless to say the boy got his milk. His chocolate milk, to be exact.

And then the rest of the evening happened. The part where daddy slathered spicy saucy BBQ sauce on the chicken on the grill. The part where the 3 of us sat on the swings on the playset and pointed to each of the farm animals across the street, calling them by name. The part where Ash drew me a picture of a motorcycle at his new art table and then kissed me goodnight on his way up to read stories with daddy. When that kind of an evening happens I'm left thinking to myself - why the hell didn't I just give the boy his chocolate milk? Oh yeah. Mommy power, must preserve the mommy power. Oh, and try to keep the boy from becoming a spoiled demanding peapod. Or something like that...

The boys in all their cuteness

June 21, 2009

Two Boys And a Platza, Thai Style

Platza Oak Leaf Treatment:
Lie down while in the Russian Room and a platza specialist will scrub you (actually beat you) with a broom made of fresh oak leaves, sopping with olive oil soap. The oak leaves contain a natural astringent, which will open your pours, remove toxins, and actually take off layers of dead skin. Some described the platza as "Jewish acupuncture".

And where do you go to PAY for such treatment? None other than NYC's historic Russian & Turkish Bathhouse, which is where you would've found the daddies of the day this morning. Just a couple of scrawny 30'ish nearly-naked daddies strolling the therapeutic saunas, hot baths, cold plunges and enjoying the platza whipping session among their fellow bathhouse friends, well fed 70'ish all-naked NYC Russians. Follow this with lunch at the 2nd best Thai restaurant outside of Thailand (#1 is in Queens) and you have the makings for a pretty decent Sunday. Extra spicy, lotsa sauce, delicious everything, and martinis that make you wish it was 1:30PM on a Sunday every freaking second.

And the cherry on top? These two, (see pics below) the two reasons that the four of us lucky-as-hell parents get to spend days like this enjoying early morning platza sessions, long drawn out Sunday brunches and a 1:30 martini. Wrap the day with a late evening jam session complete with three guitars and a rousing rendition of Old McDonald and well, let's just say today didn't suck. Ash decided that his new Fathers Day tradition is going to be to give daddy a new bedtime book every year because one of his most favorite things to do is read stories with daddy in his jammies. This years select was Where the Wild Things Are, and just when I thought our jam session was the most perfect way to end an evening I was met with the sounds of daddy and Ash reading his new book over the video monitor - our jam session was quickly bumped to 2nd most perfect.

June 18, 2009


Ash's vocabulary has been exploding lately (as long as it's only mommy and daddy listening, he's developed a bit of a shy streak) and one of his favorite words is "yours". He'll point to my cereal in the morning and pronounce a long drawn out "yooooourrrrs??" and look at me with is adorable tilted head, and of course I respond "yes, mine!" But then when I return the gesture and point to his bowl and say "yours?" he then responds "NO MINE!" So I'm not 100% sure if he gets that the word yours can be used to express ownership of any one person or if he just thinks yours means mommy's. It'll eventually sort itself out, but it's cute for the meantime.

Then today he added the word "puddle" to his frequently used list. Up until now when we'd go puddle jumping he would just point and say "WATER!!!" and then run through it, always in his sneakers because GOD FORBID he actually wear his rainboots when there are puddles outside. Until today - today we both wore our rainboots and we went puddle hunting (it's monsoon season in NY) and let's just say he got plenty of practice using the word puddle. At one point we actually stopped 4 lanes of Brooklyn traffic because two men in two different cars had to stop their vehicles, get out, and watch as the worlds most adorable two year old ran back and forth, back and forth, dragging mommy behind him, as he hopped drop dead center into each and every puddle on the street. Don't worry, we definitely had the right of way and the two cars initially had red lights, but let's just say they didn't care when the lights turned green which initiated a good 'ol Brooklyn honk fest by all the cabbies waiting behind them. If only they too could've seen the cuteness happening that was causing all the commotion... well, they probably still would've laid on their horns for 3 solid minutes, after all it is NYC where a life without honking would be just plain weird.

Ash doesn't know it yet, but he has less than 2 weeks with the horses and goats and chickens living across the street. I suppose that means in about 2 weeks he'll be adding "therapy" to his vocabulary and be making frequent requests. I have no idea how we're going to break this one to him, those farm animals and their darling mother and daughter duo are some of his most favorite things in the world. So, if I post about buying a horse in the near future you'll know therapy failed and we caved. Maybe it could live in the garden?

June 15, 2009

Dear Ashton

While you were at school this morning mommy got the house ready for you to have a slumber party with one of your favorite babysitters. Trust me, you're going to have so much fun! Be sure to show her your train set, your horsie house, and if there's time you could even share your musical instruments with her and have a rock party. And yes, we showed her how to get to the zillion recordings of Mickey Mouse Club House on our DVR and you have our permission to ask to watch Mouse if you'd like. Have very sweet dreams my little man, and please be nice to her and sleep past 6:00AM. We love you!
Mommy & Daddy, official toasters of the town for one night only (http://www.wineenthusiast.com/toast)

June 13, 2009

Yo Mom


We figured out who Kanye West and Andre 3000 must've been copping their style from for the past year. We may decide to start charging a style consultation fee but haven't hammered out the details yet so more on that later. Off to grill some flatbread and check on my avocado/cilantro hummus, and I hear the faintest sounds of someone waking up from a nap...

June 11, 2009


Just a little bit of evening fun with the scanner. Even Bridger got into it! It absolutely amazes me how in tune with life Ash seems to be. He gets things, tries to do things, and just goes after the highest marker all the time. It's as though he sees something sparkly that might be inches beyond his reach and then plots the right coordinates to get there asap. This either means big trouble for us or a guaranteed retirement fund...

June 10, 2009

Long Distance Relationships

During our pre-parenting years we enjoyed the luxury of planning work trips around each other's schedules so that we were both out of town at the same time. When one of us needed to spend an extra day in the city or we wanted to attend an evening event we'd just pack an extra pair of undies and head in to Brooklyn for a night, or two, or three. And when it came to visiting family in MN we were content with booking flights whenever something cheap became available and keeping up via frequent phone conversations in the meantime.

Let's just say that the move from pre-parenting days to parenting days has introduced a whole new level of understanding of the realities behind long distance relationships. There's no point in trying to keep count of the number of times I've spent a few days on the road for work while Mike holds down the fort at home, only to swap roles the minute I return and not so much as high five each other in passing. And I've lost track of the number of times I've actually said out loud "I want my mommy". A trip to MN every now and then no longer cuts it, I long to have family nearby who would spend enough time visiting at our house to have mentioned, in advance, that I shouldn't keep Ash's toy camera upstairs so as to avoid any inconvenient snapshots while everyone is showering and getting dressed in the morning. Yeah, someone like a sister would've pointed that out to me.

This really isn't meant to be a list of complaints about why living a plane ride away from family is tough, perhaps it's just a stated admiration of anyone out there who lives within driving distance of family, a quick comment that I think you're so freaking lucky and should hug your free babysitter relative extra tight tonight. The luxury of having a grandma to step in for daycare pickup duty a night or two so that both mom and dad can be on the road on the same day, a sister around to share parenting advice and point out mommy's seventeen kajillion mistakes before she makes them, a papa excited to have a sleepover with a two year old enabling mom and dad to disappear into the night and not return until the next morning. Those sorts of things are just a few of the priceless conveniences parents can exploit be grateful for when you live near family. Now, I certainly understand that many of the above could be covered by hiring a babysitter, and we have on occasion. But there's a big difference between returning from an outing and paying for a babysitter versus returning from an outing and sitting down for coffee and desert with mom before heading home. Ok, that part might be me complaining just a little bit...

Many would suggest that we should pack up our bags and move back to MN and start enjoying regular picnics in the park together on weekends and casual morning coffee breaks together on a random Tuesday. Unfortunately we're a bit too anchored in our NY lives to dig up our roots and transplant. We love NY, and short of a relocation to Barcelona, Paris, or Tuscany I don't see us putting up a for sale sign anytime soon. The solution then? We think everyone should move to NY. BBQ at our house! Any takers? Anybody?

I have a feeling we'll be continuing (for the foreseeable future) to look on longingly while our friends drop their tots off with grandma to head off to Sunday champagne brunch run errands. Oh wait, as it turns out every single one of our friends with children are in the exact same long distance relationship with their families as we are. I guess that explains why there are always so many children at the local favorite brunch spots, which is just one of the many reasons why we could never leave NY. Dang.

And to sum it all up:
*Finding the delete button on a toy camera is NOT as easy as you would think.
*Keeping up with tradition, we WILL be attending this year's Wine Enthusiast Toast of the Town. Due to aforementioned circumstances this requires hiring an overnight sitter for Ash so that we can stay in the city and be all winey, thus adding a solid 50% to the cost of the event than in previous years. Note to self, log this one as a "+" for living near family.
*Note to self, if you lived near family you wouldn't be going to the best wine tasting event in the world in the first place, log that one as a "-".
*The horses and the goats and the chickens across the street are moving. They're outa here July 1st. Ash is going to need some serious therapy... Or we're going to have to relocate to somewhere with horses and goats and chickens.

Wordless Wednesday

June 9, 2009


We have quite a few anniversaries that have taken place this year, almost to the point where we may need to narrow down the celebrations a bit, but just almost. No narrowing just yet, still in full-on celebrate it all mode which is just fine by me. April 9th was one year since we first saw his face, May 5th was one year since his first birthday, May 16th was one year since passing court, June 1st was one year since beginning the trip of a lifetime, June 3rd was one year since first feeling his breath, June 9th we all touched down on NY soil for the first time as a family of 3, and then there's June 16th which is our wedding anniversary. If you're counting (which I apparently am) that's 7 anniversaries to toast to, and next year there will be yet another, March 6th 2008 is the day the adoption was finalized in NY courts. So, 8 anniversaries in a 3 month period and all but 1 (our wedding anniversary) celebrates Ashton and the adoption.

This year he was 2 years old so to him each of these dates meant just another piece of cake and inevitably some bubbly drink in a "don't touch cup" that he wasn't allowed to go anywhere near. But next year he'll be 3 and chances are he'll be much more aware of the fact that these events are celebrating him and a series of events that led to us becoming a family, and the year after that he's going to get it. He might not be able to verbalize it or even interpret splotchy pictures for a shrink in a way that "assures" us that he fully understands, but that makes it all the more important for us to be ready. Ready for questions, ready to listen, and ready to possibly adjust our celebration schedule in a way that doesn't bring too much attention to every stinking nanosecond that Mike and I celebrated while waiting to bring him home. That's right, scaling it back might actually be in Ash's best interest. The question is, how much?

For the sake of argument I'd like to limit this particular discussion to transracial international adoptions because, well, that's what I know. I'm sure there are identity and race and cultural and many other areas that require ongoing attention, education, and concern with domestic adoptions (both same race and mixed race), but what I know (or at least what I'm hoping to best understand) is the adoption of a black child by a white family from a country other than the US. A situation where a child is transplanted from one culture, one race, many smells, looks, feels, and people who they may never encounter again to a land that is completely different from everything familiar. Not at all better, just different and unfamiliar.

So, naturally, we want to celebrate the events that lead us to becoming a family. But, naturally, we would prefer not to bring too much public attention to something that may (aka, probably will) be a point of confusion or anger or distrust or any number of other feelings for Ash. On one hand there's a mother who has received quarterly updates from us about her son and how he's thriving with us as a family, and will continue to receive these updates (which include pictures) until he's 18. She deserves to have us honor the fact that he is her biological child, her country's child. On the other hand being a boy in America can suck, really really bad, even if you're not the black boy with the white parents who is constantly referred to as "the one who should be grateful" by random passers by on the streets. He deserves to be our child, our country's child.

The question then becomes, how do we balance "hers" and "theirs" and "his" and "ours" so that HE can thrive. Thrive as an Ethiopian, thrive as an American, thrive as Black and thrive as Our Son. How much will be too much and at what point do we worry that he's losing his heritage? Oh wait, he already lost that... Now it's our responsibility to make sure that the heritage he's already lost is one for which he has awareness, pride, and passion. Which circles us right back to how much is too much... We don't want to push, but he, she, they, deserve for us to prepare.

June 7, 2009

The Sequel

I know we should prepare ourselves for many many sequels to the Scary Wavy Woman moment, but truth be told they come in so many different shapes and sizes I'm not sure which ones should be tagged as sequels and which are just newer versions of good 'ol fashioned crazy. We're happily exposed to a decent dose of life between our time spent in the village and in the city, and the most recent exposure (Scary Wavy Woman Does Brooklyn, if you will) shall take the name Scary Photo Woman.

While enjoying a ridiculously beautiful weekend in the city we, along with 11 million of our closest NYC pals, headed to the parks. Sure, one of the parks had a sign outside that read "Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden" and we just happened to be there to celebrate a dear friend's 30th/recent engagement with some pitchers and cookies, but it's outdoors and there are trees so it's technically a park, right? And sure another came in the form of a Rock Band party in celebration of a dear friend's 31st but they have indoor plants and Ash's BFF so I'd call that a park beyond a shadow of a doubt. And so as not to disappoint, there were some by-the-book park visits in there too. One with the gorgeous Baby Edie that ended with a naked 2 year old flashing Brooklyn's finest, and yet another back in the village where Ash seems to have found a village partner in crime who just happens to have some pretty cool parents to boot (no worries Owen, we'll hold true to our BFF prenup and reserve our best smiles, biggest hugs, and raging parties I mean totally appropriate for two year old birthday celebrations...for you!).

And then there's the other park experience that happened over the weekend. Scary Wavy Woman, The Sequel...

This one's actually pretty short and sweet. We were at the local Brooklyn playground enjoying the farmers market, swings, slides, running, jumping and all that is toddler freedom. Ash made some new friends while their parents pondered how to approach us (Is she the nanny? Are they the aunt/uncle? Could they be the superhero adoptive parents sent from God to save the heathens? Love that one, but don't pull it off so well...). All while we stood back and soaked in the sun, embracing the moments when we'd make contact with the set of parents who don't even question our parent status to Ash and just engage in regular 'ol "I'm a parent of a toddler, HELP PLEASE!" playground banter. When all of a sudden we notice Ash running up one of the ramps, on his way to fling himself over a railing or jump off of a ladder, nothing in and of itself out of the ordinary. But there's this woman, this innocent grandmotherly looking woman following him around with a camera. She's taking pictures of him, and not just one "he's so cute, just had to take it" shot (not that that would be anymore ok) but multiple shutter releases took place and each one brought her closer and closer to him. Um, freaky? Let's just say she was the recipient of a not-so-pleased mommy look (and I used to be an 8th grade math teacher, so trust me, I have MASTERED "The Look") and she retreated quickly. Scary Wavy Woman meet Scary Picture Woman. You'd be great pals, I'm sure of it.

Enjoying a new tea set while daddy packs for the city weekend

He loves being a Brooklyn Boy

Cuban happy hour anyone?

Our daddy's are in the other room pretending to be rock stars while we sit here like perfect little angels eating our dinner...

Some Baby Edie love

Water mommy? Pleeeeeeeease...

Back in the village, a rock star and Crazy Photo Woman weekend behind us. Grill + garlic + two 2 year olds tweaked out on chocolate cake = delicious

June 4, 2009

Chillin Babe

Daddy's getting all the love while I'm stuck with iphone pictures and a webcam (skype rocks, even if he doesn't quite get why mommy is stuck in daddy's computer). Two more work days till we're all chillin together Brooklyn style. Here's to hoping that these are the two quickest work days on record!

June 3, 2009

Seeing You

This time last year a picture became real, an image of a little boy became human, touchable. We didn't just see you, we touched and held and hugged you. You've been in our arms for 12 glorious months, still 1 month shy of the 13 months you knew before us. We're still not quite yet to the "we've been together longer than..." stage. And I'm happy about that. Quite honestly I'm going to be sad next month when your time with us will be longer than your time in Ethiopia. It's a part of your life that I cherish beyond beyond and will not celebrate coming to an end. A while back I was looking forward to finally being able to say that you've been with us the longest, that we're your new majority. But I'm not feeling that anymore, now that it's close. Seeing you changed everything, meeting you stopped me dead in my tracks, and now knowing you has brought a new appreciation for each and every breath of every single day.

For a quick trip down memory lane via our trip to Ethiopia and first days home check out our JUNE ARCHIVE. Wow.

Wordless Wednesday