May 26, 2010

Table Manners

We have no idea where he picked up the Beyonce tune, though admit it may be the most adorable rendition of All the Single Ladies we've heard yet. As for table manners, well, Daddy should know better. No phones at the table!

May 24, 2010

Summer Rhythm

We live in a region surrounded by various colleges and universities so this time of year always begs to launch us into a summer state of mind a slight bit on the early side. While the locals go from study bound uni students to wandering rock climbing hippies, we in Toddler - Grade 12 land are stuck in "last month of school" syndrome until the end of June. That wont stop us from making sure we can hit the ground running once "summer" officially applies to us though, we just have an extra month to get ready for it.

IT for us this summer =

*Ash is starting a new school, which means participation in their rockin' summer program. He's already had a chance to meet some of the children and explore his new digs during an observation visit, and although he is going to MISS with a capital M-I-S-S his old school, the new situation as it's worked out is really just meant to be. Details another time.
*We're looking for somewhere within driving distance (3-5 hours max) to spend some time at the beach over the 4th of July holiday. Rhode Island has been suggested, though we've never explored the area so are starting at square #1 for where to stay, etc. Anyone out there have opinions on fabulous beachfront hotel/condo/rental units in the New England area?
*Helena is going to eventually arrive. Really, she is, my doctor told me so. She's not going to take up permanent residence in my uterus though some mornings I contemplate how I would word a rental agreement. "Right on time" would be anywhere between July 27th and August 4th though my bet's on a Friday, July 30th water break around 4:30PM and first breath of non-mommy filtered oxygen around 7:30PM. You know, so we have time to grab sushi before heading home.
*Ash has a few weeks of no school in between the summer and fall programs at his school, which conveniently fall right around the time we'll (hopefully) be settling into somewhat of a routine as a family of 4, and is also when we'll be welcoming the grandparents for their first visits to meet the expanded clan. August is guaranteed to be a full, happy, exhausting, love-filled month.
*September. Ash starts his new preschool program. October/November. I go back to work and Helena starts daycare at a program right across the parking lot from Ash. Wait, did I just write November? I thought this was supposed to be about our summer plans... It's not even June yet... Why on Earth am I thinking about November...

Why? Because it's going to be here before I know it, for sure. And that, my friends, is what occupies my mind at 3AM these days. There seems to be a rhythm in the above plan somewhere right?

May 21, 2010

Elections In Ethiopia

Published: May 20, 2010
Diplomats, human rights groups and witnesses say the government is stifling dissent ahead of national elections.

May 20, 2010

Milk And Donuts

In between the daily routines of work, play, travel, and rest we get to squeeze in the occasional mom/dad night out at such events as "Breastfeeding 101" offered by our hospital. There's nothing quite like following up a day on the NJ Turnpike for mom or producing 8 straight days in a row of shooting for dad than a night chalk-full of talk about inverted nipples and nighttime milk leakage. At least there were cookies. I especially liked the part where the instructors informed us that we could all cheer for the fact that once we have the baby and start breastfeeding we can go back to enjoying the occasional glass of wine! HOORAY!!! Hmmm...

A couple hours of boob talk later exhaustion had officially set in and the only place that sounded appetizing was a local wine and tapas bar, where I clearly ordered sparkling water with a lime to go along with my honey glazed duck and curried muscles. Clearly.

And then we all slept soundly until the 6:00AM sunshine popped us up like toast to 70's and sunny and a special request to take a walk to the corner bodega for donuts. I swear there was an order of asparagus and the recommended daily fruit and grain dose worked into those 12 hours somewhere.

May 17, 2010

The Lighthouse

We hang out with a local adoption play group that this weekend lured us to a little hidden gem on the Hudson River, the Saugerties Lighthouse. A quick drive, beautiful short hike complete with plenty of small wooden bridges for Ash to conjure up stories of Ecuadorian crabs living underneath and dragons living beside, and we arrived to Ash's version of paradise: Anywhere with ample sun, sand, and water that makes it feasible to turn said sand and water into gigantic mud puddles fit for jumping, rolling, and just general frolicking. He was less than enthusiastic when it came time to leave, however the near instantaneous 2.5 hour nap that followed was enough proof for me that he had clearly enjoyed himself.

About 30 weeks down and 10 to go until Baby Helena's arrival, which is just a couple weeks shy of the amount of time between when we received our referral for Ashton and were finally able to squish his cheeks in person (12 weeks). So, I'm finding myself right back in that referral-to-travel mentality (which I know has changed A LOT in the world of IA since we traveled given the new estimated timelines from referral to court to travel, so I understand this may be very specific to our experiences), and that's just where my head seems to be. We know she's in there and we know it will just be a matter of time until mom can finally indulge in sushi and champagne the loveliness that's sure to come with mothering siblings, we're just ready. Yesterday.

May 16, 2010

Sunday Styles

Just because it's not quite warm enough to run through your new Buzz Lightyear rocketship sprinkler in your swimsuit doesn't mean you can't race through it fully clothed on your bike. C'mon!

May 13, 2010


Some adoptive parents incorporate pictures and stories of birth families right from the beginning, almost daily, to the extent that their 2 and 3 year olds can tell their complete stories (based on their verbal capabilities of course) to other family and friends. We didn't go this route. Not because we don't think it's the right route or has anything questionable about it, in fact I think it's a truly lovely approach, just not the one we decided to run with. For our specific scenario and for some specific reasons we opted to start slow and then build up to the details later.

Well, it's later. Now. And I'm finding it more and more difficult to come up with the right language, despite the plethora of resources out there on the Internet and in libraries and at book stores, that doesn't make me cringe each time the words spill out of my mouth.

For example:

Ashton knows he has two mommies, me and his Ethiopia Mommy. Sometimes he asks what her name is, sometimes he asks where she is, and almost always the questions have ended with something like, "can she be my purple mommy and you be my blue mommy and I be Lightning McQueen and..." Needless to say it was clear that he hadn't entirely grasped the concept of who or where his ETH mommy is. Then earlier this week after an unexpected visit to the hospital's labor and delivery wing (all is fine and healthy, just a temporary bug) Ash seemed to really get the fact that his baby sister really is in my tummy and one day we're going to go back to the building with the free strawberry ice cream (labor and delivery wings are stocked!) and his baby sister is going to come out of my tummy and plop herself right into his strawberry ice cream. Or something like that. Anyhow, this led to a realization which led to a statement...

"Mommy, baby Helena is going to come out of your tummy just like me when I was a baby?"

Um. Hmm. "Well honey, yes, baby Helena is going to come out of my tummy just like you came out of your Ethiopia mommy's tummy when you were a baby. "

"But I want to come out of your tummy."

"Honey, you came out of a very special tummy and then mommy and daddy came to get you."

Ugh. It's that word. Get. There are variations of it's use but most of the time it comes out "when we came to get you" and just hearing the words come out of my mouth gives me a round #2 tasting of whatever we had for dinner the night before. Don't get me wrong, there is a reality behind the process that made us a family that is beautiful, but there's also an absolute presence of an ugliness surrounding the circumstances, one where I'm positive Ash's ETH mommy is not currently saying "when that family came and got my son" with a smile on her face. OK maybe she manages to squeak out a tiny grin from time to time, but then again maybe not. Probably not.


It's not that I'm not comfortable sharing his story. We have a truly happy story that just happens to contain some inexplicably painful history. When I talk to him about his story it is always with pride for his beginnings and an expectation that those beginnings will have a presence in his ongoings forever. It's just that talking to a girlfriend and saying "when we went to Ethiopia to get him two years ago..." conjures up VERY different feelings than when I'm holding him in my lap and looking into his bright big beautiful eyes and say "after you came out of your ETH mommy's tummy and we came to get you..." It just does.

Perhaps it's because I inherently connect the word get to the situation of removal. Actually, that's exactly it. When you go to get something you're removing it from something else and in this case that act of removing, to me at least, deserves a better word than just get. Unfortunately launching into a multi-lined poetic dedication to the moments when we were physically joined as family probably isn't an option. That indeed would cause more confusion than not. So for now we're stuck with simple sentences, small groups of words, and that damned word got.

And let me just make sure I've made one thing very, very very very clear. I am forever grateful to the process we chose to begin building our family and the people, countries, and agencies that made it possible. I could not possibly be more proud of my son's beginnings. And I am absolutely 100% dedicated to doing my best to raise my son as a happy, healthy, self-aware, proud, confident, Ethiopian/American/African American/New Yorker/McGregor. That's the point. I feel like, somehow, the word got just minimizes the history that occurred before we got him.

So, later tonight when we talk a some more about his story and show him pictures and relive our first moments together, I'd really like to have discovered the magical phrase that replaces "when we picked you up" or "when we came to get you" with something that does the moment a bit more justice, yet still makes sense and applies to the logic of a 3 year old.


"Your Ethiopia mommy loved you so much and wanted you to grow up to be a strong healthy boy, but she couldn't do that by herself so she asked us to be your mommy and daddy too. So we went to Ethiopia and all became a family."

Not one mention of the word got. OK, there are about a million follow up questions to that there moment that will surely leave me rolling the sounds g-g-o-o-o...t off my tongue, rendered completely incapable of finding a substitute word or phrase, but it's a start. And I'm open to suggestions. Lots and lots of suggestions.

May 12, 2010

May 10, 2010

To Plan A Party

First, you wait
Then, you indulge
Next, you play
And of course then, you rest
But most importantly, you love
Thank you to everyone who helped make Ash's 3rd birthday celebration such an amazing weekend. We love you all and feel so lucky to have you in our lives.


Thank you to all of the mothers who have helped make being a family such an incredible experience. Happy Mothers Day to a group of very special women, we love you.

May 5, 2010

Happy 3rd Birthday Ashton!

Ash's request for his 3rd birthday breakfast: Chocolate cupcakes with blue frosting and Lightning McQueen and bacon and to watch his Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer movie. Easy 'nough. Thus begins several days of birthday fun and celebrations. Today with his friends at school, tomorrow as his MN fan club flies in to town, and Saturday with the Brooklyn contingency. Cupcakes, cupcakes, and more cupcakes. If you happen to run into our proud little 3 year old today definitely make a point to ask him how old he is. The response you'll receive will sound something like this:
"I'm 3. NOT 2, I'm 3. YOU'RE 2, but not ME! I'm 3!"

May 2, 2010


We've now moved the old office into the new office which enabled us to move Ash from his old baby room to his new big boy room which means the beginnings of turning his old room back into a proper nursery are well underway. When I arrive at the top of the stairs I'm now greeted with a big boy room to my left and the workings of a baby girl room to my right. Holy crap.