July 30, 2009

A Little Background If I May, Then The Fair

Most who stumble across this blog know our story by now, we enjoy our home in a quaint country village a bit north of NYC while being fortunate enough to maintain a humble abode in NYC for the occasional visit. Lots of luck, connections through friendships, and a sincere amount of karma all came together to bless us with such a situation that we're grateful for every moment of every day. Ash is in full time daycare in the village, so our city visits tend to be over long holiday weekends or random overnights when Mike and I can do a hand-off in between work obligations. The bottom line for us is that NYC is where part of our heart is, but is where ALL of the Ethiopian community is so it is an absolute priority for us to maintain our time there, even if it is just a few days a month.

The thing is, I've found myself trying to find additional nights to spend in the city fearing that we're not exposing Ash to diverse enough communities on a regular basis. For some reason I was automatically discounting the diversity that exists here in our hometown, our little village along the Hudson River that's just far enough away from NYC to make it too far for a daily commute. But then I stop and take a look around and am so very quickly reminded why we chose to move here in the first place. There is diversity. There is community. There is color and soul. There are cows and horses...and then there's the Oak Ridge Boys.

Sure, at any given moment the village swimming pool is host to a diverse crowd of Korean Americans, Japanese Americans, Latin Americans, African Americans, and many many others, but at one particular point on one particular Wednesday in the middle of one particular week, Ash just may have been the only African American being forced to watch (in the rain) the headline show at the Ulster County Fair. My friends, he has seen, he has heard, and he has survived torrential rain to enjoy... The Oak Ridge Boys. Live, in concert, one time only. And I swear he's never going to forgive us. But I must also say that based on his smile and his groovy moves I'm guessing he enjoyed it just a little bit.

So, despite the many aspects of diversity within the NYC city limits we're also acutely aware and appreciative of the diversity within our little village and eager to be a part of all of it. The part where Ash learns to say hello in Korean and Japanese via new found friends at the village pool, and the part where he learns the chorus of Elvira and can pump out a killer um-papa-um-papa-um-papa-mow-mow at the county fair. The way my dad used to do it when he'd take us to Oak Ridge Boys concerts when we were young. He has an amazing bass voice that could pump out a killer um-papa-um-papa-um-papa-mow-mow (see videos below). Now that Ash has heard it from the Oaks he needs to hear it from his Papa! (hint hint...)

And I leave you with: Ash & The Oak Ridge Boys

The Oaks circa 1981

The Oaks circa 2009

July 29, 2009

On A Swingset Far Far Away

Lived a little boy and his family, and their two cats and lots of mosquitoes

But then one day (or every day...) it rained

So the boy donned his favorite pair of rain boots and ditched the t-shirt

And ran and jumped and played for hours

And the boy was happy

And then the sun came out!

And the boy quickly replaced the puddles with the swings

Of the indoor and outdoor kind

And again, the boy was happy

The End

Wordless Wednesday

July 25, 2009

Reasons Why Waking Early On Saturdays Is Now OK

Cider doughnuts, raspberry and blueberry picking, 82 and sunny, out like a light for his nap promptly at 12:30, off to the village pool as soon as he wakes up. This is the kind of stuff that Saturdays were made for!

July 24, 2009


Daily, on so many levels. I'll never fully understand or be able to remotely digest why I'm here like this. Why I'm his mom, why he's his dad, why we're what he's got. I'm pretty sure we're doing an OK job, but that wont ever keep me from questioning whether I'm doing well enough not to worry. Because I will always, worry. I'm taken by our own selfish fortune, by his misfortune, by all of our seemingly naive perceptions of how things might just work. Every now and then I glance back at the two year video we created, the archive of posts we've accumulated, and the corresponding library of photos and comments, and I'm taken. He's so perfect and we're so not. It's been in my vision to adopt internationally since before before existed, and perhaps I just never thought what I visioned would actually come to be. But it has. And he's so amazing. And I'm so taken. I hope life continues to take us like this. Daily surprises and ongoing adventures. I think it will, I know we're up for it.


Don't ask...
We've reached 35! He's not exactly the "stand still so I can measure you" type so this isn't a terribly precise number, in fact I'm pretty sure he's almost to 36 inches at this point - aka he'll have no problem passing the magical 36 minimum height line to ride the toddler rides solo while in Disney World this fall.

I swear Ash's vocabulary expands exponentially every single day. We have proper conversations all the time, and morning sing-a-longs have become the standard practice while we suck down our first cup of buna and Ash teaches us the motions to hokey poky. He even has his pretend voice that he uses whenever he's trying to impersonate someone or tell a funny story, which usually involves super pursed lips and his head bobbing around in all directions. And he still has the habit of deciding out of nowhere that it's story time, picking out a book and then plopping himself down in my lap and saying, "Mommy! Read it!" regardless of where we are or what we were previously doing.

He'll eat anything as long as you promise him he can eat a spoonful of ketchup in between each bite. Seriously. Last night's dinner consisted of 2 corn tortillas stuffed with spicy ground buffalo meat, melted cheese, and guacamole... and at least 1/4 cup of ketchup. The night before I baked a garlicky chicken dish served with rice... and at least 1/4 cup of ketchup. And the night before that he devoured his pasta with homemade pesto sauce... and at least 1/4 cup of ketchup. I'm not certain how when or why I'm going to eventually break this habit. Pretty much every restaurant in America has ketchup, and when we were in Spain he was on his "all french fries all the time" diet and we had no problem finding ketchup there either. Though our trip to Thailand next spring could present some challenges. I highly doubt pad thai is frequently served with a side of ketchup, then again this could present a fabulous opportunity to transfer his addition from ketchup to hot chili sauce which there will definitely be no shortage of! Unfortunately given the intensity of western influence in most of the countries we've visited with our luck the street vendors will probably mimic NY hot dog stands and hand you your green curry with one hand while squirting the bottle of Heinz with the other. Mmm, green curry and ketchup...

Dear Sun Gods,
Please grace NY with your presence this weekend. If you insist on letting the Rain Gods beat you can you at least make a little extra effort between the hours of 3PM-8PM so that we can go to the village pool? We'd really appreciate it. Oh, and if you have any "ins" with the Sauvignon Blanc Gods we could really use something nummy to toast to the weekend with tonight, just make sure it's delivered with a side of ketchup. Thanks a bunch.

July 22, 2009

The Daily Return

I often wonder if putting our lives out there to be judged publicly on the Internet is a wise decision. But then I'm quickly met with the reality that we're being judged daily (both in and outside of the Internet) regardless of what we post, so why not drum up a band of supporters even if it means potentially adding to the list of judgmental whoopits. So, this is a general shout out to everyone who contributes to the daily return. Those who consistently remind us that there is an amazing community of people, a fabulous source of happiness, a daily reminder that not everyone out there thinks that life as it should be isn't possible. Thank you for your persistence, your love, and your anti-whoopitness. It is genuinely appreciated, promise.

July 21, 2009

Wordy Wednesday & Secret Ninja Family Dreams

Wordy Wednesday:
"Mommy Daddy Ashton outsiiiiiide?"
"Daddy! Bike! Nooooow!"
"Mommy NO! Owen's mommy's pasta!"
"Morning, morning, morning, time to rise and shine."
"Ashton's bed?" (We tend to go back and forth from city to village and travel a bit, so he's gotten in a groove of making sure he knows which bed is his depending on where we are. Love it.)
"Gramma pleeeeeease" (He figured out that one last week...)
"More sausage please" (The boy could live on spicy sausage, apple juice, and edamame.)

Secret Ninja Family Dreams:
He has also mastered all of the lyrics to Itsy Bitsy Spider, Mary Had a Little Lamb, and Bouncing Aroung the Room (Phish), the latter of which may come in handy when he accompanies us to his first Phish concert in Saratoga in August.

One of the first mentions of children between Mike and I was at a Phish concert in high school, and then again while at another Phish concert in college (and then again at a few more...) when we looked on longingly at all of the families enjoying the shows together. Well folks, it's time. Phish is coming to NY and our tent is ready and Ash has the bouncing part down pat. Secret Ninja Family Dream #104 is about to be realized. Thanks to this blog I imagine Secret Ninja Family Dreams #1-103 will eventually be unveiled, but right now #105 is in the works and I have planning to do...

July 19, 2009

The Week

I had a week of obligations in the city, Mike had a week of work-as-usual landing him in the city more often than not, so grandma flew in to save our asses behinds. She managed the drop-off/pick-up daycare routine on some days and completely took over on others, did laundry, changed the cat litter, hung out with us at parks, and even drove Ash into NYC for us so that we could spend part of the week together. Rock star. This also means we (husband and wife) had a meal or two together in restaurant(s) sans high chair. It also means there was a magical fairy godmother happy to play trucks, read stories, and make coffee at 6AM allowing certain others to sleep past 6:30 for the first time in ages. Several moments of bliss were savored indeed.

Have you been to a NY Philharmonic performance in Prospect Park? Go. It's so much more fun than their performances in Central Park. Well, at least if you have two year olds in tow... Same amount of space but EVERYONE is psyched to watch the toddlers interpretation of the music instead of scowling at their sometimes louder-than-preferred squeals of laughter and merriment. So much fun.

NYC parks in the summer = one of the many reasons we will never leave NYC permanently. Water parks everywhere, hot dog stands on every corner, and the Central Park Boat House nearby to grab lunch while the babe sleeps off the morning's adventures. I have a secret love affair with the sauvignon blanc the Boat House serves by the glass and a semi-secret way of "ending up" there just as Ash is drifting off to sleep in his stroller. Don't tell. (Ash is the one off to the right about 4-6 inches smaller than all of his partners in crime...)

We're going to get this. It's a Melissa & Doug piano that Ash walked up to, sat down, and started playing without ANY prompting from us at a random store. He's a born rock star, we knew it.

Cheers to a dinner sans high chair and an uncommon opportunity to stay out way past my bedtime. Also, cheers to Advil, AlkaSeltzer, and lots and lots of H2O the next morning.

And most importantly, cheers to the woman who made it all possible. PS: You owe me a pair of shoes! ;)

July 12, 2009

Practice Makes Perfect

Saturday spent at the Mohonk Mountain House hiking and exploring and day-spa'ing, followed by a picnic lunch on Whitecliff Vineyards lawn tossing the football around, spotting the pond turtles, and soaking up the sun. Sunday spent in Prospect Park, Brooklyn relishing delicious eats, savory wine, fabulous company and the never ending scenery of the world's most adorable 2 year old BFF's. We may be in the midst of the "terrible two's", and our marriage may not be as "easy" in year 8 as it was in year 1, and we may find ourselves pissing each other off to high hell over new found random daily quarks, but weekends like this remind us that imperfection breeds practice. And practice in the form of this weekend is a very very good thing. Something I plan on practicing until absolutely perfect. Gotta love imperfection.

Mohonk Mountain House Hiking

Time for a nap

Can you see the turtles?

Brooklyn baby!

Can you guess what happened next?

Off to keep practicing...

July 10, 2009

Full Disclosure

There's a thing about blogging. Blogging publicly, unpassword protected, out there for anyone and everyone to take a peak. Lest I sound like I'm flattering myself I am humble enough to understand that those who read about our journey are limited in numbers - I'm a far cry from the Dooce readership - but still, there are readers, and they read. The thing is that the readers represent family, friends, colleagues, strangers, potential networks, existing networks, and a handful of other groups all who now know who we are, what we do, why we do it, and what we're hoping to do next.

I think that's why a lot of the blogs I started reading ages ago have since gone private (password protected), while being a big reason for why we're still public. After all, anyone who would subscribe to our family blog would presumably already know our ins and outs - it's those who happen upon us while embarking on their own journey, perhaps seeking some perspective or a tiny correlation to their own circumstances that might prove somewhat helpful that nudges me to keep this public.

So, we're public.

Ash screamed SCREAMED his way through the grocery store when we picked him up from school today(apparently the juice box we gave him was the wrong flavor). Silly us, visions of the first 80 degree and sunny day in AGES spent laughing and frolicking in the yard. Nope. Right to bed, where he continued to SCREAM until the moment he stopped. Then I prepared myself, full-on armor ready to enter the room and be mean mommy. NO juice. NO bike. YOU WERE BAAAAAD! So I opened the door, he reached out his arms, I knelt, and we cuddled.

While he worked on slowing down his heart rate and catching his breath I watched glimpses of my own childhood flash before me. The times when I had participated in activities just a bit worse than demanding apple juice. The times when my mom, much like I had to do today, just cuddled me tightly because she (and now I) knew that I (and now Ash) got it. We got/get the picture, we were/are in need of some reprimand, yet when the moment comes when your wrongness becomes real what you really need is a big hug from mommy. My mom gave me plenty of those hugs growing up, and today I finally got what they have been and will always be about. I may have wanted to punch mommy sized holes in the wall earlier this evening, but the eventual breakthrough of understanding each other and true behavior modification made me feel like a mom. A really good mom.

We then went on to enjoy the greatest of great evenings. Ash helped daddy cut basil from the garden so that mommy could make a pesto pasta for dinner. Daddy grilled spicy Italian sausages. We soaked corn to grill for a sweet ending to the meal. Who would've thought that a night that began with dragging (literally dragging) a tantrum throwing 2 year old through a farmer's market parking lot could possibly end in such bliss. Full-on I've let you scream in your room for 20 minutes so now that you've stopped you had BETTER get that you will NOT do this again kind of interaction, all ending in a Zen-filled atmosphere of oneness.

Don't get me wrong, I know we're screwed. He's too cute and too smart. To combat this I've enrolled us in the course: Parenting 101: How the hell did my parents survive raising ME. Only I'm pretty sure I wasn't this cute...which brings me right back to being screwed.

I'm hoping to get an A, but I'll be satisfied with not failing.