April 30, 2010

7-11

7 flights in 11 days and we counted our blessings throughout them all that the toddler we toted along is quite clearly a born traveler. He walked, he soaked in the sights, he spoke Spanish, and he didn't complain when we told him we were getting on another flight to check in to another hotel in another new city. Quite the opposite. He questioned what kind of city we were going to (river, ocean, mountain, volcano, usually based on some sort of geography we used to introduce him to new places), and when we arrived proceed through his standard checklist of traveling to-do's:

Where's our hotel, which bed is mine, when can I put on my swimming suit, and what new food are you going to make me try before you'll finally let me have some ice cream?

The priorities of a 3 year old.

By the end of the trip we were all pretty wiped, but even still as we pulled into our driveway at 12:04AM the first thing he said when he perked up to the porch lights was, "MOMMY! But who's going to turn the volcano dragons into tomatoes at night?" Long story, but basically Quito, Ecuador has some mean dragons living in her volcanoes that Ash insisted on turning into tomato each night before bedtime. Don't worry though, we'd turn them back into dragons each morning. He's going to be the most fabulous of fabulous older brothers, his little sister has no idea how lucky she is. Hopefully she realizes it quickly though, and returns his stellar older brothering with favors of sleeping through the night and just generally high levels of sweetness. It's bound to either be that or they'll wind up ganging up on us in which case we're just plain 'ol screwed.

Grind: It's us, the McGregors. We're back. Please be kind.

April 26, 2010

Spanish

It was our original intent to begin raising Ash bilingual (English/Spanish) the day we arrived home in NY together nearly 2 years ago, but due to various lengthy excuses it never happened. Then last year we brought him to Spain and Costa Rica, and then began planning our trip to Ecuador, and just decided that it was just time to start, dig right in and at least make an effort begin using Spanish on a somewhat regular basis. Thanks to Dora and Diego he has had a bit of built in excitement around the venture. The plan (aka: fog off in the distance of what we can kind of make out as being semi-realistic yet completely subject to a plethora of changes) is to begin by incorporating as much Spanish into the trip to Ecuador as possible. So far, so good - he's a champ at winning over hearts in restaurants and taxis with his adorable hola, ciao, and gracias skills. Then we'll provide a slow'ish build up via books, music, and certain conversational regulars between now and the arrival of his little sis. And THEN. Then when the little sis who he has promised to love and cuddle and teach only adorable behaviors to and never argue with finally arrives... Mommy = Spanish, Daddy = English.

And I would be willing to put money on a bet that our first trip as a family of 4 is to somewhere non-Spanish speaking. Yeah.

April 23, 2010

Swim

video

In the past 8 months Ash has gone from not wanting to anywhere near the water, to being OK as long as someone is holding on to him tightly, to dashing in and out of the breaking waves near the shore, to jumping in to outstretched arms, to today... jumping in and becoming completely submerged then popping up with a gigantic smile on his face while swimming over to the edge to get out and do it again. And again and again and again. With ZERO help from anybody. As of today, the boy swims.


April 22, 2010

Passion

On a recent muddy hike through what Ash called "the turtle jungle" in the Galapagos we were able to pick, crack, and enjoy some of the local produce - delicious passionfruit. Our guide opened the first taste and quickly offered it to Ash, who somehow knew exactly what to do and without haste went about eating the yummy seeds inside. During a similar moment earlier in the week he was offered a taste of pulpo ceviche (octopus) and let's just say daddy might think twice before offering to share next time. It sometimes takes a bit of prodding to get Ash to try the first bite of a new treat, but we can usually talk him into at least tasting most things and then he often winds up requesting more. Or spitting it out. Or making a crazy twisted sour face and then spitting it out. But in both of the cases above the result was definitely a dominant MORE PLEASE!
The boy has a passion for all things new, and you could say we're pretty much loving it.

April 16, 2010

TGIF Cubed

Ash brought his Lightning McQueen life jacket into our room this morning while singing "last day of school, last day of school!". The countdown is down to less than the fingers on one of his hands, which means he's finally able to comprehend the amount of time between right now and when he'll be swimming with the turtles and boating down the rivers hiking to the waterfalls and sipping a home brewed up of Ecuadorian coffee. Being the professional prioritizer that he is, the Lightning McQueen life jacket is really the only thing that he cares about making it into the suitcase, anything else that happens to find it's way in is just a bonus. As for mommy and daddy? This may be the most T to the G to the I.F. CUBED day EVER.

April 15, 2010

Fast Coffee

We've been doing a lot of hand-offs lately with one of us traveling for work only to high five the other in passing as we switch spots and the other makes their way out the door and on the road. Ash is well aware of what it means when mommy or daddy hugs just a little more tightly and says goodbye along with "see you tomorrow/the next day" rather than "see you after school". He knows it means we're going to be working past his bedtime, or through the next day or two, and that he'll be hearing his bedtime stories and nye-nye songs through the connection of a cell phone.

Yes, whenever work calls one of us away over night(s) we still proceed with the bedtime routine as usual just with one of us listening in via our cell. And yes, this sometimes means that daddy has to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star while walking the aisle to board his flight home and just deal with the fact that he'll have to explain to those seated near him that he was just saying goodnight to his son. Unless of course those seated near him are also traveling parents, in which case they totally get it - no explanation needed. It also means breakfast is likely taking place at one of the local coffee shops where the 3 of us can eat up every possible second together and prolong the good bye as long as possible. This act is now referred to in our household as getting a "fast coffee".

"Fast coffee" became a phrase one morning when I had to explain to Ash that although daddy was going to the coffee shop with us, he couldn't stay long because he had a plane to catch. So that morning daddy was just going to have a fast coffee. Well, Ash decided the next time that he too would like to have a fast coffee, and then it was my turn to be the one heading out on the road and clearly if I was having a fast coffee the boys should be too, so... the phrase caught on. And now whenever one of us is heading out for longer than just the day of work we all go out for a fast coffee together, and whichever parent leaves first gets the most adorable wave from the window while pulling off and heading on their way.

Fast Coffee and Airplane Twinkle Twinkle: A sure way to melt any working/traveling parent's heart.

April 13, 2010

The Difference

I've been having moments, recently, of the type that leave me frustrated by how people think, or rather react, to my family. Specifically how we chose to grow our family. Comments like "You're pregnant? Congratulations! What, you couldn't have your own before?" Or "Wow that's so great, you deserve it!" Or the multitude of ways people find to inquire about the order and origin of our children (Ethiopia first, biological second), often blatantly asserting that the "normal" way to do it is the other way around. And then there's the countless number of faces made by those who really want to inquire but swear they'll be able to figure it out on their own if they just stare at us for a little while longer, eyes squinted tightly and forehead thoroughly wrinkled, noggin slightly tilted at the neck. And sometimes they even throw in a finger to their lips, perhaps to indicate they're close to discovery or really on to something and if we just give them another minute DADGUM they'll have it! They don't ever seem to get to the point of "having it".

But then I'm greeted with one simple comment and nearly instantaneously the pessimistic sludge that had been building up in my arteries begins to evaporate. It starts with a simple comment often made to pregnant women, usually something along the lines of "you're glowing". But then it ends on a note that completely takes me aback and puts me so deep into my happy place I nearly tip over with bliss.

"You really look awesome. I would actually say you have a similar glow to when you found out about Ashton coming home!"

Nothing about our "own child" or mention of a glow I couldn't possibly have attained before or anything that even remotely inappropriately compares the incredible unique beginnings of our children. Just a really beautiful really honest sincerely heartfelt observation. And that's the difference. You don't have to have adopted yourself or known any close friends who have adopted or even given any thought to the many different beautiful ways there are to build a family. You just have to turn off the presumption button, remove the entitled-to-know attitude, and just see a lovely thing for exactly what it is. Without question. Without judgment. Just loveliness for loveliness sake. My friend, the one who said and later wrote those touching words above, gets it. The difference between her and the the authors of the earlier statements may be subtle to some but is refreshingly breathtaking to us.

April 11, 2010

Sunday Styles

(Ash's new Bkln BFF Konjit!)

April 2, 2010

It's Amazing What You Can Do...

With an oven that doesn't suck paint chips. I've been the slacker parent at Ash's school this year with holiday treats. I managed to bring in store bought cookies for Halloween but completely missed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day, and had it not been for the recent installation of our new oven (that actually evenly heats to the temperature you dial it too - imagine that!) I probably would've let Easter slide by as well. But never fear, new oven + cupcakes + blue frosting + green sprinkles + Peeps + jelly beans = the kids at school no longer assume Ash is being raised in a home without a kitchen. Phew, now on to the next bullet to dodge...