February 26, 2010

The Smoke Joint

If you ever find yourself in Brooklyn, craving wings, and can handle a proper hot sauce challenge then you'll want to stop by The Smoke Joint. I happened to be experiencing all 3 of the above mentioned prerequisites while the universe was puking 3 feet of snow down onto the city, and let's just say most cravings don't go untended to these days so it was off to The Smoke Joint we went. I mean trudged. I mean spent a solid hour bundling up for complete with hat/mittens/scarves/snowpants/snowboots to then slip and slide between icy unshoveled sidewalks and deep slushy pits of puddles. All for an order of Brooklyn Wings, an all-beef hot dog, and the worlds most delectable mac n cheese. Sure, delivery of anything else we could have possibly wanted was a mere phone call away from our warm comfy couch, but then Ash wouldn't have been able to climb and then roll down, climb and then roll down, and climb and then roll down every stinkin' pile of snow in Brooklyn. A deliciously spicy lunch date later along with one soggy pair of pants, two completely soaked through socks, and the only human in NYC actually excited about the snow (along with every other toddler child, perhaps), we said cheers to winter and headed in for naptime. TGIF.

February 22, 2010

Health

Health is a very subjective term. Someone may post on Facebook that they spent the weekend lazily meandering between the kitchen, the couch, and the front door (to pay the sushi delivery guy) only to receive drastically different feedback ranging from "sounds lovely!" to "so the plan is to hit the gym hard Monday morning right?" While another may cheer loudly that their toddler awoke only 3 times during the night allowing them nearly 7 (albeit somewhat broken up) hours of sleep only to be tisk tisk'd by others insisting that the tot should surely be sleeping through the night by now, insinuating on many levels a lack of "health" in the household. Or perhaps a working woman (married or single, mother or not, don't know - don't care) posts at Midnight that her inbox has finally been widdled down to ZERO UNREAD MESSAGES and smiles to herself that a restful nights sleep can finally be had only to endure endless reminders from others about the dangers of being a workaholic. In each case one woman on one side of the fence boasting satisfaction with their real life version of health, and seemingly countless others on the other side ready and waiting to beat down any version of health not fully supported by their own perception of how it clearly should be.

Not that I've been on either side of that fence lately. Clearly not.

Lately the final words spoken to me after any social gathering have more often than not been, "now you take care of that baby in there, you here?" And more often than not I've had to restrain myself from replying with, "But I was REALLY looking forward to doing those belly shots after my combo skydiving-to-backcountry-mogul-skiing class!" Now, I know those words have been spoken with only the utmost love and sincere regard for my ability to keep myself and the unborn child inside of me "healthy" and would never in a million years think wicked witch of the west style thoughts about the deliverer. But, I'd be fibbing if I said I wasn't slightly entertained (perplexed/disturbed) each time I heard the words. And upon reflection of those very moments they still bring about a slight giggle. I mean seriously, thanks for the reminder to keep myself "healthy", I had almost forgotten...

Well, I suppose there was that one moment back when we were preparing our home study and I neglected to deep clean the toilet bowls in preparation for our social worker's visit (GASP!!!), and then that other time when we sent Ash to school in 3 pairs of socks because we couldn't find his shoes (GASP!!! GASP!!!), and then there was that recent event when at 4 months pregnant I toasted to the celebration of my sister's engagement with REAL champagne (GASP!!! GASP!!! GASP!!!). So perhaps the occasional reminder is necessary after all. And by occasional reminder I mean an every so often tap on the shoulder followed by the smile and nod from a friend that says, without speaking one single word:

"I love you. You rock. Keep it up. And if you need a hand, hire a babysitter then give me a call and I'll pick you up in 5 mins, destination your choice."

Now THATS health.

And this, this is health too:

February 16, 2010

Back To The Brown House

When we left NY it was snowing, and returning to NY a weekend later it's snowing again. BUT, given that the time in between those two snowfalls was spent in MN where there seems to be six feet of snow piled everywhere reminding us what "real" winter is, I suppose I'll be a bit more forgiving of our seemingly weaker Northeast version. To paint a slightly more solid picture, if you live in NY and guests come to visit during a snowfall the host's first gut reaction will likely be to call for delivery of hot cocoa and Thai food, whereas the MN host may drag out a box of snowpants and other sledding attire in every size humanly possible thus being able to dress every man woman and child head to toe in enough gear to sustain life in an igloo for at least a month.

Still, sooner rather than later I may be on board with Ash's coping technique of just dressing up and playing make believe till the sun decides to come out and stay out, or at least until we get that first splash of spring color in the local gardens. Ash's character of choice is his newly acquired Woody costume, but I'm thinking about heading in a different direction myself. Perhaps something a la Kirstie Alley in Look Who's Talking with giant bows in my hair and humongous butterfly print empire waste moo-moo's dresses. Don't worry, I'll spare the internets any photo documented proof of that sure to be lovely image and stick to posting the tot's make believe sessions instead. Though if winter sticks around too much longer HE may be the one wearing the gigantic bows on his head...

And, a very heartfelt THANK YOU to all of the congrats sent our way over the last week. We're truly blessed to be surrounded by such amazing family and friends, via in person hugs as well as internet XXOO's. You're all so incredibly kind, thank you for all of the love.

February 12, 2010

Mu Shu

When Ash came into our lives almost two years ago he was announced to us first electronically via an email with photos that had traveled from Addis Ababa, and second via a white envelope containing some life details and more pictures shipped from St. Louis via the USPS. Those first two meetings, or introductions you might call them, were our first real glimpses of our first son. He was officially delivered into our arms less than two months later. Two months that began with his transition from his first mother to his extended Ethiopian family at the transition home, and ended with his transition to to his forever family and 24 hours of flights from Ethiopia to Dubai to New York.

Now nearly two years later the family grows again with the addition of a little one, who if were up to Ash we would name Mu Shu (or Moo Shoo, he's been a bit sketchy with the spelling details). This time the announcement came first via some pink lines on a plastic stick, then second by a woman in a white coat who insisted the lima bean shaped smudge on the screen would eventually sprout a head and various appendages. This time the culmination of several months of waiting will be capped with a visit to the birthing center and the arrival of a sister for Ash.

And two years from now when Ash is cuddling his baby sister or teaching her to eat her first cheerios or running to daddy yelling "DADDY! LENI (Helena) BROKE MY TRAIN!" we'll reminisce about both of their truly unique beginnings to life. Each very special, each very unique, each sure to continue to brighten and challenge and amaze us in ways we'd never thought possible. We're pregnant with child #2, potty training child #1, planning an escape to Ecuador and the Galapagos in a couple months, and currently visiting the frozen tundra of MN to spend some quality time with all the grandmas and papas and aunts and uncles and cousins and cats. It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses. Hit it.

And without further adieu, I introduce you to the newest McGregor who will be making her official debut sometime near the end of July/beginning of August, and with greater than 50% certainty (but not quite 100% yet) will arrive with the gender to match the name Helena (Leni) Addis McGregor.
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February 3, 2010

Nerves

We all get them. Whether they're brought on by sheer overwhelming circumstances at work or the vision soaked in while standing in the middle of your laundry/toy/coat/shoe/etc/etc/etc strewn home or the simple anticipation of something exciting lurking right around that little corner over there, all have the ability to spark pesky nervous twinges from deep within. And of course they're not just reserved for adults, even something as full of complete adorableness as a school play can bring on a giant wave of the shakes with little to no notice. Just picture the view of your happily cheering almost 3 year old as he walks across the stage only to somewhat instantaneously give way to a full force launch of a lip quivering tear filled rendition of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. It was his first class performance, and though not without a bit of nerves and a few tears, he made it through like a true champ.

It didn't help that we were out of town the evening that his class was scheduled to perform so he had to perform on a different night, with a different class, full of kids he does not interact with on a daily basis and are on average 1-3 years older than him. But like I said, he faced it like a champ. He strutted his way across the room with the other children and began their performance of 15 songs/poems all of the theme "Seasons" and we smiled on from the audience, hearts warmed and butts snug in the child sized chairs provided for some not so child sized parents. And then he saw us, and what must've been our gigantically horrifying grins and waving camera phones trying to catch a snap of HIM we were looking at HIM we were staring at HIM and he was all "OMG WHY IS EVERYONE STARING AT ME WHAT DID I DOOO?" And about 30 seconds later the lip quiver gave way to the eye rubbing gave way to a whimper gave way to a "DADDY SAVE ME!" And thank GOD for Daddy.

The three of us sat in the audience, Ash singing and acting along with the next few songs and poems, tears long gone and eyes turned to a more longing look of "I wonder if I should tell them that I kind of want to go back up there..." And then their teacher started handing out the dreidels and I asked if he'd like to rejoin his friends, and about a half-second before I finished my question he was on his way back up to the front to claim his dreidel and toot his horn to the Happy New Year song. Nerves be gone.

So now we know. Next time work presents us with a seemingly insurmountable challenge or the laundry piles up so high you begin hoping plastic trash bags are the next "in" look or that super exciting yet not quite completely public announcement you've been holding your breath on feels like it's going to rip through your ribcage a la Sigourney Weaver in Alien just do what Ash did. Let yourself break down just a little and call out for Daddy. If you're really lucky it may even score you pizza and meatballs for dinner.

February 1, 2010

Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger Of A Single Story

Pour yourself another cup of coffee, tea, or whatever your mid-morning beverage of choice and take a 19 minute listen to this. Well worth the moments.