February 22, 2011

Not Hard

I scheduled some time with Ashton's teachers to discuss our upcoming (booked, confirmed, happening) trip to Ethiopia so that we could chat about ways that Ash's school-day-life could support what he's about to experience. A wonderful friend sent me this link which contains some great talking points and just generally helpful resources for talking to children about adoption so I felt like I at least had something going in to the conversation. I'll admit that other than the handy dandy printable/linkable resources I felt just a bit more than slightly unprepared. I felt like I should have a list of ideas, activities, be ready to volunteer to come in and read adoption related story books to the kids, something. But on the flip side, turns out that what I had was all that was needed. Turns out that the conversation just needed to be started and his unbelievably freaking awesome teachers would just support us from there. Turns out the feeling of being overwhelmed with preparations can actually be a feeling of overwhelming excitement instead. This is going to be challenging, but it's not going to be hard.

No doubt our lifestyle is a natural supporter in the prep process. We just returned from a long weekend in London where both kids, the 8 month old and the nearly 4 year old , were absolute rock stars. They were hardly fazed by the time zone change and skipped happily to school the morning after returning home at 10PM from a full-day transatlantic flight. And when I say Rock Stars I mean Mick Jagger style, or whatever the farthest cry from Justin Bieber style might be. Bottom line, they travel well.

And all this to say that I feel like I can do this, and I feel like I can do it well, and when I screw up certain moments I feel like I'll be prepared to soak in the humility and truck on from there. Of course tomorrow morning may bring on entirely new feelings of anxiety and Leni may decide that the 14+ hour flight from JFK to Dubai will be the perfect hours in which to finally sprout some teeth (current count = 0) and no doubt I'm going to be a somewhat controlled pile of mush for the first few days in Addis (at best). But, we're going. It's booked. We're prepping what we have the ability to prep and letting everything else just settle in to place when it feels like settling. Because one thing we've found in all of our travels is that pushing something to settle quicker than it wants to just lands you in a giant pile of knotted up stomachs and the urge to eat pasta. Lots and lots of cheesy pasta.

So instead we're just enjoying this. There's still pasta, but of the more flavorful and light basil-laced variety. Ash's teachers are psyched to incorporate "adoption speak" into his classroom environment. We read "E is for Ethiopia" with Ash a few times a week. And we're avidly searching for hotels to stay in while in Addis, Gondar, Lalibela, Bahar Dar, and a lodge to spend our last few nights somewhere in the South.

This is going to be challenging, but it's not going to be hard. Hard is for Advanced Calculus and mastering Chinese as a second language. Revisiting my son's birth country and meeting with his birth mother and exploring the land, the culture, the history of the area that created my son isn't hard. A whole lot of wonderful with a bit of challenge on the side maybe, but not hard.

Psyched. Not completely ready yet, but getting there.

February 14, 2011

The Modern Telegram

Shrimp and broccoli curry with coconut & ginger rice at home instead of battling the V-Day restaurant reservation game, heart shaped balloons and special pink and red heart plates and napkins instead of zillion dollar roses and china, musical valentines, and maybe just a splash of champagne (root beer for the tot). Kids make this holiday awesome.

Love, Us

February 11, 2011


It's Teach for America's 20th anniversary (I'm 2001 corps) so the Alumni Summit this year is a bit bigger deal than usual. I was at their 15th anniversary summit 5 years ago held at one of the DC hotels with convention capabilities, but it was nothing like this. This year we've packed out the entire DC convention center and the entire city seems to have been taken over by the "One Day" spirit. I'm aching for some inspiration. This should do it.

And of course, when in DC one must dine at one of the 25+ Ethiopian restaurants (DC is home to the largest population of Ethiopians living outside of Ethiopia) and we managed to pick a gem. Ethiopic was delicious, highly recommend, may even go again if we wind up with a layover in DC on our upcoming trip to Ethiopia. The one where we will meet with his birth mother again. Because the director of the orphanage emailed me directly to let me know she'd spoken with her and she wants to see us when we're there in April. I'm emailing with a real life human being who is talking to Ash's birth mom mere moments before responding to my emails. It's amazing. It's overwhelming. It's exactly what we wanted. And we're nervous as hell. I'm going to do it "right" this time. Because she's there, waiting for us to come, she knows we're coming and has informed us that she'll be there, waiting for us. And the only thing that has managed to calm me has been this...

February 9, 2011


My children are moving. Ash is skiing and Helena is crawling and the universe is spinning. Yikes. PS, Helena is rockin' commando style due to a pesky rash on her tush that even Butt Paste doesn't seem to be curing. Suggestions welcome.

February 5, 2011

Snow Can Be Good

At least that's the mantra we recited on our way to the mountain this morning. A trip planned rather spontaneously in an effort to remind us all that snow is not inherently evil, that it may well have a positive purpose in life. And no, I haven't forgotten that we're both graduates of Montana State University, Bozeman where there was an actual written rule that new snow meant classes were canceled (and that both of us held seasons passes to the hill/mountain from the ages of 13 to 21...), so yes I feel ridiculous even posting this out of sheer embarrassment to the true spirit of winter. But we're not in college in anymore. And we don't live in Bozeman anymore. So post I shall because dear sweet mother of all things true...this winter has sucked.

Ash dug the chairlift. Maybe because of the scenery, maybe because of the thrill of going to the top of the mountain, but most likely because daddy had stocked pockets. And by that I mean stocked with starbursts. Nothing like a little sugar to psych you up for getting to the top.

Our room has it's own "hot pool" which basically means Ash has decided he'll live here forever. And Leni has decided that she no longer sees any reason to go to bed before Ash. So, we hot pooled, we watched whatever was on Cartoon Network with some popcorn in mommy and daddy's bed, and soaked up a whole lot of just-the-4-of-us.

And then we kicked them out. To their own beds on the other side of the wall. And lest you think we did this in an effort to be all romantic and such, I'll just remind you that I'm currently blogging and daddy's currently scouring Craigslist for a new minivan.


February 4, 2011

February 3, 2011


It was a rough morning drop-off for Ash. One of those mornings where he draws out every possible activity from brushing his teeth to putting on his shoes as long as possible in an effort to put off the inevitable. And when asked why he doesn't want to go to school he replies, "because I really love you mommy". Oh man. He usually loves school, but with all of the snow closures/delays/early dismissals this month his routine has been turned upside down thus causing some out-of-the-norm clingyness. I stopped counting once we hit 10 (yes, 10) but imagine we're somewhere in the boat of 12 full day closures plus 2 two-hour delays plus 1 early dismissal. All in the month of January where there were only 20 possible school days to begin with. No wonder the kid's a bit off.

And to top it all off Helena has finally reached the stage where she appears to actually care when she's being dropped off. Not that she didn't notice before, but there's only so much caring that a 0-6 month old exhibits. Apparently 6 months is the cut-off though as the day she turned 7 months she started giving me the look when I'd drop her off. She totally realizes that mommy's leaving and now seems to really care about it. Her eyes burn a hole smack dab through the center of my heart as they stare me down while I make my exit. It sucks.

I love my children. I love sitting on the floor watching Ash hand toy after toy to his baby sister then break out in gut-bursting laughter as she happily takes each toy only to toss it over her head almost immediately. And should the toy happen to land on one of the cats watch out, he may never regain control of himself and may wind up laughing himself to sleep. I love that my children are comfortable pretty much anywhere, that they'll go to sleep at night wherever we put them, be it at the brown house or the Brooklyn house or a hotel or at Grandma & Papas. I love that we now eat at restaurants as a family of 4 as smoothly as we did when we were a family of 3. Well, almost as smoothly. That last one can still be tricky every now and then, but Leni seems to be catching on pretty quickly. I love that there's a mini ski vaca and a weekend in DC for TFA's 20th anniversary alumni summit and a long weekend in London all in our near future and Ash is looking forward to all of it and Leni probably is, she just doesn't know it yet. Because they both seem to love spending time with us just as much as we love spending time with them. And I love that.

Which is why I absolutely loathe Ash's clingy drop-offs and Leni's laser-beam vision when I leave them at school/daycare. It guts me. I know they're fine 30 seconds after I'm gone. I know they're smiling and happily playing with their wonderful teachers surrounded by all of their friends mere moments after my exit. I know they'll be reluctant to leave when I arrive to pick them up because they're having so much fun, but after a second or two of contemplating this they'll shoot me the worlds biggest smiles and run (or be handed over in Leni's case) to my arms for the worlds biggest hugs.

But that doesn't make the drop-offs any easier.

And don't get me wrong, I do enjoy running for a quick cup of coffee (because "quick" is possible w/o children in tow) and dedicating my attention to the adult world during the work day. My preference is to continue working outside of the home full time while I essentially outsource my job as a parent to my children's teachers. I chose this.

But that doesn't make the drop-offs any easier.

But want to know what it does make even better?

The nighttime giggle fests. The long weekends getting away together. The evenings spent lingering in restaurants enjoying food from every possible ethnicity. The extended trips spent exploring the world together. The Saturday mornings when both kids are brought into bed with us and it's just the 4 of us for a few hours making forts out of the sheets watching the occasional cartoon and reading stories.

I suppose those things make the drop-offs a little easier.


A lot easier.

But I'm still entitled to pout for a little while each morning after the drop-offs, but just for a few minutes. Promise.

February 2, 2011


A word not to be taken lightly within the adoption community. Sure, there's waiting involved in biological births to families but they're in a relatively greater amount of control over what happens during that waiting. There's much less unknown, and a whole lot less "what's my baby doing now and how is he/she interacting with her family" going on. And there's a complete nonexistence of waiting children. Waiting children. And by this I don't mean all children having been relinquished for adoption, rather I'm referring to children who have passed some sort of marker - a dreadful milestone of sorts - that places them in to the category of "waiting child" which basically puts their chances of being adopted at zippy to nil. Children who have essentially lost all rights to to childhood and the ability to develop in to who they could be one day. Waiting children.

Children like this.

And all of a sudden the word "waiting" takes on an entirely new form, an imperceptible being. She's 4 years old and about to be completely screwed. And is just one of many in this position.

Next time you witness someone waiting impatiently in line for their double-tall-nonfat-sugarfree-latte (um, me) just do me a favor and slap me upside my not-waiting face. It needs it.