September 30, 2009

The Best Hugs Ever

The directors of the House of Hope in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (where Ash lived prior to our arrival) are in the US visiting CHI families and we have the honor of hosting them for the NY portion of their trip. We've been looking forward to it for quite a while now, however I had no idea that just one tiny conversation during our first lunch together would have such a profound impact on my heart, my perspective, my... everything. See, Ethiopian adoption regulations include a requirement to send post-placements updates to the orphanage after 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months at home and then annually until the child is 18 years old. These reports include pictures and details about family life, how the child is developing/attaching/etc... and serve many purposes, one of which is to update the birth family with these details. I've read several stories from other families that led me to believe that (for many different reasons) birth families are sometimes unable to obtain and view the reports. We discovered today, however, that this is most certainly NOT the case for our family.

Apparently Ash's birth mother not only travels to the orphanage to retrieve the reports, she complains (loudly) if they're not there on time and in more than one instance has demanded that the orphanage call the House of Hope to find out when the next report will be arriving. It's gotten to the point where when the phone call is made the House of Hope employee will say to everyone, "It's Wondemu's mom, when is her next report arriving?" and everyone knows exactly who they're talking about. She's not only getting them but she's reading them, and I'm sure doing her darnedest to live them and feel them and love them.

As thrilled as I am that I now know she is receiving these updates it also lays heavy on my heart. It makes me sad to think about her reading the reports, viewing the pictures, thinking about what must have been going through Ash's mind when they were taken. Longing for a change in reality so that he could still be with her and giggling to her tickles and cuddling in her arms. It's not right that she's over there and he's over here. The more I think about it, the fact that she actively pursues, waits for, embraces our reports makes me question whether we did the right thing by taking him from her. We knew the circumstances, we knew the reasons behind her decision, we met her and shared what we felt was a deep understanding and connection that far surpasses any other we'll ever have. But we'll never fully understand why life had to proceed as it did, no circumstance will ever fully 100% explain the ending to this story.

So, I'm happy. I'm happy that the story we'll one day share with Ashton is one of extreme love and pain and sacrifice and hope. Hope, because we will one day take Ashton to Ethiopia and we now know it will be possible to meet her again. And, I'm shattered. Shattered by the reality of this, knowing that the fact that I lose sleep wondering how she's doing absolutely pales in comparison to the agony she must feel at night living the reality that she's there, and he's here. And finally, I'm ready to share. Talk openly with Ash about his birth mother and share pictures and stories with him with a renewed confidence that I can end our conversations with...

"And when you meet her again one day, you'll remember her amazing hugs. They're the best hugs ever. They feel just like this."

Wordless Wednesday

September 27, 2009

Writing Between Breaths

So there was this one time, last weekend, when we rocked a Saturday and played with our cousin/aunt/uncle at the apple farm and at Ash's house and smiled lots. Especially during that one moment when we were searching our TV Directory for listings of The Wiggles (Ash's rock star cousin gifted him some seriously cool Wiggles gear) and 9 out of 10 listings were for The Wiggles we were looking for. The other 1 required $9.95 and parental approval. No joke. The adults giggled, then promptly selected one of the OTHER Wiggles options for viewing.

Then there was this other time, last weekend, when we rocked a Sunday and Ash refused to nap during kickoff so we drove him around the block and he promptly crashed for a 2+ hour nap only to awake at the exact moment when Fox switched from the NY Giants game (where we stomped on TB) to the MN Vikings game (where Favre got lucky).

And then there was this one time, today, when I realized that of the 1,000 things I had meant to post about previously approximately 0.02 have actually made it onto Blogger, and now I've got yet another days worth (or approximately 347) more things to write about since today began. All of which I'm sure are equally as tantalizing to the rest of the world as they are to me, clearly. Although at least this one included a somewhat masked porn reference and some good 'ol fashioned Favre taunting. That must count for something and carry me till at least that other one time when... To be continued.

September 25, 2009

The Big Class

We survived week #1 of our baby being in the Big Class (Preschool). I'd actually even venture to say that not only did we survive, we totally rocked it. Take this morning for example:

Mommy: Ash, are you ready? We need to leave soon.
Ash: (Carrying his shoes to me) Mommy help put shoes on.
Mommy: OK, should we both put our shoes on and go to the park and just play outside together all day? (Only half jokingly...)
Ash: Mommy no! Me go to big class you go working!

So, apparently there will be no Ash/Mommy hooky days in the near future. Bummer. But it did melt my heart just a little bit to hear the excitement in his voice about going to school to be in the big class. That same excitement about going to school will last throughout his childhood, right?

September 21, 2009

Bunny No Take My House!

Or, Tiger Go Away! Or, Shhhhh, Dragon sleeeeping! All phrases you might hear on a somewhat regular basis around our household lately. It seems as though our tot has some buddies of the animal kind who he enjoys bossing around while still making sure we're all quiet when they're sleeping. So far, from what I can tell, the Bunny is a bit of a thief constantly taking Mommy's socks or Daddy's fork or the latest - Ashton's house. The Dragon seems to be the lazy kind who's always hiding in trees and constantly sleeping. We'll be mid-bite during dinner and he'll throw his finger to his lips and whisper anxiously SHHHHHH! Dragon sleeeeping! And then there's the Tiger, who we just recently met when we finally got together with his best friend from school and the first thing the two of them did was dart halfway across the lawn both screaming GO AWAY TIGER GO AWAY!

And here's how I'm personally benefiting from my son's imaginary friends: Anytime he starts to get even the slightest bit antsy in restaurants at the dinner table all we have to do is strike up a conversation about the Bunny, the Dragon, or the Tiger and we've instantly gained ourselves another 15-20 minutes or so of "Ash the saintly child" time. Of course that's not to say that our child would ever be anything but saintly, well at least if you don't count that one time when he refused to keep his pants on at our favorite Japanese restaurant and insisted on being in his diaper (solo) while bouncing around singing shake-shake-shake-your-booty. But he did blame that on the Bunny, and it didn't seem to wake the Dragon or annoy the Tiger so I guess even that occasion was at least in part excusable.

Oh, and he's officially in the Pre-K class at school. He moved up today with his 2 best school friends and they seem to be handling the transition with flying colors. My 2 year 5 month old child is in preschool with 3, 4, and 5 year olds and he couldn't stop talking about it the entire time in the restaurant at the dinner table tonight. Apparently he was ready, let's just hope the Bunny, Dragon, and Tiger are ready too.

September 20, 2009

Maybe Another Time

I'm finding those very words to be my general reaction to any blog-postable experience. Cute? Adorable? Delicious? Sure, I'll post about it, eventually, maybe another time. Difficult? Trying? One serious mother lover of a challenge? Yup, I'll eventually find the exact right words to share it with the world, eventually, maybe another time. The most beautiful moment ever? A true breakthrough in the heart of humanity? An actual next step to making unprecedented progress? OK. Whatever, one day I'll put that list of links to substantiated research studies together and provide the fool-proof go-to for anyone seeking the "real" truth. Eventually, maybe another time.

(Queue head hanging in shame...)

I seem to be thinking a whole lot more than writing lately and hoping that those words will just magically find their way to my keyboard. Oh, and as a bonus for good'ish behavior I thought it would also be kind of nice to have some cute kid pics to tag along with the words I was hoping would somehow appear under "New Post" in the Blogger account I've been neglecting for...too long. And the kicker? Mr. Cute Kid Pic came through with the images while Mrs. Fails at Writing opened a bottle of Bordeaux and sipped to the tune of an overly full inbox instead of the clever recanting of the days or weeks tales. Way to point a finger Mr. Cute Kid Pic, just you wait, I'll catch up and post something breathtakingly chilling. Eventually, maybe another time.

For now here's what you get:

Ash and his BFF Owen had a sleepover and did all sorts of cute stuff and brought their mommies and daddies to tears (laughing) while they sorted out how their slumber party was going to groove and we shook our booties to all sorts of Beatles Rock Band music.

We celebrated Ethiopian New Year with tibs wat and homemade injera and...more Beatles Rock Band.

Ash is moving up to the "big kids" room at daycare on Monday after a somewhat traumatic Friday. But an all too perfect Sunday (which I'm sure I'll post about eventually, maybe another time) left us very confident that these two are ready in every sense of the word.

We cured world hunger, and told nobody. And perhaps we'll post about that later. Eventually, maybe another time.

PS: If you don't get the previous world hunger reference it's been way too long since' you've watched How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Go rent it now, or later, or maybe another time...

September 17, 2009

So About That Schedule...

Screw it. I admit, the very schedule that I swore we'd never have that we quickly grasped for with every ounce of our lives has now been tossed off into the never never land of schedules that once were. Imagine building a gigantic slingshot capable to hurling dome-sized balloons across the state of NY and you may just be able to grasp a glimmer of where the previously mentioned "schedule" may currently be residing. The long and short of it...far far away from here. Yet for some reason there's zero guilt and loads of "holy crap we figured out how to do this!" energy filling our souls.

So about that schedule... Maybe next week.

September 14, 2009

Storytime Monday posted just minutes before Tuesday

So life these days might just be a bit busy. I go he returns, I return he goes, we host we enjoy we pack we prepare repeat repeat repeat. We're both on the road for work a lot lately and this happens to be THE season to be in the Hudson Valley (apples to pick, cider to gulp, leaves changing colors right before your eyes...) so our schedule seems to be about this:

Wave to each other in passing as we "hand-off" mid stride during the week then prep the guest bedroom for that weekend's visitors. Don't even try to get me the slightest bit wrong here, we LOVE our weekend visitors. In fact, they may just be the binding agent to this life we're attempting to call normal. Well maybe not normal but at least a mediocre effort to pursue something somewhat sustainable. In any case we LOVE them. Please don't stop coming to visit us or you may find the 3 of us on the Monday morning news paddling our way down the East River flashing signs that say "they left us alone and we didn't know what to do so we built this canoe and rowed south."

And then mommy had to go to Atlantic City for work and daddy said screws-to-the-chizm and packed the boy in the car so that he and child could sip scrumptioulicious nummies on the seaside by the seashore, in 80 degree weather where the sun actually shines.

And then we discovered

We're in the same spot

Grooving to the music

Just trying to figure it all out

And then finally realized

We've got things sorted

The end

September 11, 2009

The Gallery Hop

Gallery hopping is a term I used to use frequently, way back when Thursday nights meant strolling the W 20's in search of the most interesting openings while soaking in the NYC air and maybe, just perhaps, enjoying the gratis wine and nibbles .

Somewhere over the last year someone abandoned the true gallery hopping experience in exchange for random one-off visits to specific openings. Which, if I might share a lick of advice with that someone, is just a shoddy way to compensate for the fact that a certain someone completely abandoned the true hopping experience just because there's now a tot in tow. Shame on that someone.

Well, this week we that someone fixed that. The mommy, daddy, and boy went strolling sipping semi-decent wine and devouring plates of berries and cheese and bread and pretzels all while enjoying the view, the pictures, the art.

Ash, would you like to see more pictures?

Ash, would you like to go to another picture house?
Ash, would you like to get dinner? (About 2 hours post normal dinner hour...)
(droopy eyed he says...) Yesmoommyy, yyeess...
And then he promptly pooped out. Fell asleep, right then and there, collapsing on daddy's shoulder at the exact moment we sat down for dinner.

So. We sat, we ate, and we very much so enjoyed a fabulous dinner. Together just the 3 of us, 2 with eyes wide open and 1 with eyes wide shut.

September 7, 2009

The Bama Song

Every time we buckle in Ash asks for the "Bama song" (Barack Obama by Micahel Franti). Oh sweet boy you know your way to your mamma's heart, keep on loving son. Keep on loving.

September 6, 2009

That One Thing

We tend to run in grooves. We feel out our surroundings, wiggle our way into a routine, and run with it. "It" can be for our life at home or our life while traveling or our life while switching between the two, but in any case the grooves always manage to appear just in time to settle ourselves into them and feel tracked. Kind of like when you're driving through mud and finally squish your tires into the main ruts so that you can actually get somewhere somewhat smoothly. Tracked.

It's always most obvious how tracked we are when other influencers are introduced into the routine. We see how easy things could be if we had JUST THAT ONE THING that would make life SO MUCH EASIER. But our tires are always snuggled into the ruts just tightly enough so that we don't actually need THAT ONE THING to stay afloat, and even after a quick glimpse of it we're right back on track, tracked, snapped back into our own groove. But the memory of that quick glimpse tends to live longer and longer each time we see it - at first sight treating it as nothing more than a wishful vision, but at most recent sight actually pondering the possible long term effects if said-glimpse were to actually BE.

This weekend we've had the great honor of hosting Gamma. She grocery shops, she makes sweets for the tot, she does dishes, she takes over so that mommy and daddy can actually go out on a Saturday night, she chases the tot around the shopping mall for an afternoon so that mommy and daddy can see back-to-back movies, she IS THAT ONE THING that would make life SO MUCH EASIER and HOLY FREAKING HELL why does she have to leave in TWO DAYS??? Why? Because we're tracked. We're New Yorkers and the vast majority of our family are Minnesotans and the groove we've built for ourselves is one that needs to be sustainable by just the 3 of us, accept of course for those brief moments in time when family comes to visit. And oh my my do we take advantage of those...

Despite how you may be reading this my head is not buried in the sand. I don't think we're the first family to live an airplane's distance away from family. And I certainly don't think any portion of our situation is unique or hasn't been conquered in the past. I simply take issue with the fact that the groove that we've found seems to be impeding our ability to create the kind of groove we really want to have. The one where we go out as adults in the evening hours on a semi-regular basis instead of just when family's in town. We're obviously dedicated to raising our son in a way that introduces him to all things culture and art and culinary and yadda yadda yadda...but sometimes it is kind of nice to just enjoy those things as adults all the while knowing the tot's enjoying his own evening playing with Papa or baking with Grandma or swinging with the cousins.

Sometimes the groove we've built just doesn't seem to accommodate the life we'd like, and the realization of this is only amplified when THAT ONE THING that would make everything just magically fall into place hangs out with us for a few days and reminds us of where we wish we could be all the time.

I'll be honest, growing a family far far away from your other family is a lot harder than I thought it would be. A LOT. And I'm regularly faced with the label of inferior due to the fact that thousands, millions, ZILLIONS have done this in the past, and done it so so well. I guess I just haven't figured out their secret yet, because each time family comes to visit and we have the person on hand to watch the tot while we do laundry, or run to the store, or enjoy a appetizer out in public alone, or a movie in an actual movie theater, I'm amazed that this lifestyle exists. And then I'm faced with the reality that the only way this lifestyle could actually become a lifestyle for us would mean moving way too far away from everything else that we love that is our life in New York.

And then, right smack dab at the end of a long holiday weekend, the grooves suck us back in. Family flies back to their home and the work week starts and our routine-as-usual slides comfortably back into place. Only each time this happens it becomes a bit less comfortable and a bit more "couldn't we find a way to make this more like when THAT ONE THING is around all the time" and then we're too tired to complete the conversation and table it for later. Which basically means until the next time THAT ONE THING is in town.

Thankfully for us there's Skype to keep the tot up-to-date on the MN latest, but unfortunately Skype hasn't figured out a way to offer long distance babysitting. Now THERE'S a market I'd invest in.