Sunday, July 25, 2010

Scenes From a Long Run

Fearful that the October marathon was closing due to an increase in entries this year, we signed up this past week.  All four of us-in order to run with the boys in tow, the strollers must have an official bib.   We normally don't sign up so early and I'm nervous.  A lot can happen between now and October.  I always feel a little more serious once it's official-and I'm worried that we won't be able to keep up with the mileage and the boys. I am finding that the run itself isn't so difficult anymore, but keeping up with a cruising baby and a very active four year old in the hours after a 16-20 mile run has been a challenge (on my tired legs). 

While we were running yesterday morning, I was thinking of how 'the run' has changed for me since pushing a stroller and came up with some thoughts on how I am learning to enjoy and think of this time much differently than in years past. 

I am no longer concerned with time and pace. When adding two more people into the mix of potty breaks, snack time, and hydration it has been next to impossible .  Unlike our adult mindset, potty breaks seem to be a fun adventure for a four year old and dropping a bottle along the road is just great entertainment for a baby.  This has been good for me as I have been noticing the beauty along our regular loop once again.  If I even start speeding up and getting a tad serious, I'm usually brought back to Earth by counting horses, looking for monkey trees and noticing the boats and ships along the river.  The view seems different and more colorful now.  And really, who needs time and pace when you can sing "If you're happy and you know it" and "The itsy bitsy spider?" 

Another big change I've become aware of-those motorists who feel the need to make comments as they drive past-I've been quite impressed that they have noticed the young ones in the stroller and have changed their tune from profanity to just regular old "Hey, you guys are crazy!".  I appreciate that they are watching their language now and would agree that we are a bit crazy.  No offense taken :)

There are some definite advantages to pushing a stroller as well.  The time spent driving out along the route and stashing water are gone, as we now have ample room for several water bottles,  diapers, first aid kits, sweaters, raincoats, cheerios, juice boxes, bananas, gloves, hats, toys, cameras and cell phones. I know that Daddy O rolls his eyes every time I run upstairs for an extra layer of clothing to put in the storage bin-but hey-you never know!

In any case, I am learning how to relax and enjoy the ride. I hope that we can run this marathon as a family, cheer other runners on and cross the finish line with smiles on our faces in October.  I want to say that we did it and we did it together.  There's still a long way to go but I will remain hopeful and the thought of having matching Family O running shirts keeps me going when inspiration runs low (there are just so many things we could do in this department-anybody have any good ideas?)

Mile # 2 & still happy. It can still be very cool here in the mornings and running along the river is even more so-we try to dress the boys in lots of layers.

Potty break and snack # 1 four miles in.

Mile eight and still going strong.

Potty break # 2 at around mile twelve.  He loves to wear my running jacket!

I don't even remember where we were at this point.  We try to switch strollers every few miles to ease the arm tension. I tend to have somewhat of a death grip on the stroller and my hands fall asleep.

Mile 16 and finished!  The first statement out of Boy O's mouth was "Can we ride bikes now Daddy?" . 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

An Open Letter

Dear Candy Land,

I purchased your world of sweet adventure six weeks ago in hopes of teaching our son some useful social & communication skills as well as reinforce his colors in his new language.  At first I thought you were a waste of seven dollars, but in the last few weeks, you seem to have Boy O transfixed.

You have accomplished all that I had envisioned and more.  I have played you over 300 times this week alone and am positive Boy O has his colors down flat, not to mention (to put it mildly) a healthy competitive spirit.

Oh Candy Land!  Our luck can change in an instant and we live for the lollipop and ice cream card-once you make it to Princess Frostine, you are pretty much guaranteed a win.  Although I appreciate all that you are teaching us-I'm so TIRED of your magical landscape.  I hid you high in my closet yesterday morning, but you must have the ability to emit a high pitched sound only children under the age of five can hear in order to locate you.  I tried playing you outside in hopes a gust of wind might carry your many cards to a far away place.  I even purchased the game Perfection so we could move onto learning shapes but all my efforts at sabotaging your game have been useless.

Go easy on me this week-I'm sure I will see you after breakfast,

Mommy O

Monday, July 5, 2010

Before I Forget...

A comment from an earlier post asked what my impressions of being a first time Mom to both a toddler and a baby was like and how it was different with two. It was a great 'assignment'!  I thought that I should probably write these thoughts down before they become a distant memory. 

I really do think that Daddy O and I prepared for parenthood as much as a couple could.  We took parenting classes, watched instructional DVDs, read endless books on adoption & discipline as well as listened to scores of solicited and unsolicited advice from just about everyone we knew (and a few folks we didn't for that matter).  We baby proofed our home, bought age appropriate toys, clothes, furniture and books.  Just before traveling to Ethiopia, I even took the time to prepare exactly seven family dinners that could be stored in the freezer (I estimated that it would take me exactly one week to recover and start cooking again) and pureed one months worth of vegetables for Baby O.  I also made plans to resign from my full time job as a biologist-in my mind, that just about covered everything.  And yes, in case you haven't already guessed, I have been compared to the character 'Monica' from the TV show Friends.

Despite all my best intentions, I liken the first few weeks of parenting a toddler and an infant to the picture below.  I ended up with pages of descriptions in my journal, but this just sums it up better than words:

Now that I am able to look back, I honestly don't think that anything could have properly prepared me for the reality or shock of going from zero to two children.  I've heard people say that it is harder for us because we started with two boys at such different ages and that we didn't 'ease' into it like a family that gave birth to kids of the same age.  Is it any harder?  I don't know-I've never had just one.  I think it doesn't matter how you decide to start or add to your family or with how many-it will always give your body and schedule a 'jolt' and take time to adjust.  I would venture to guess that as new and experienced parents alike, we are all just as exhausted as the other. That being said, I will say that when I see people with twins or people with more than two, I am silently in awe and want to ask them how they do it.  Two months later, I still feel like the picture above on a regular basis :) by the end of the day.

Having two children, I find myself worrying whether or not I'm spending quality time with both boys equally. Sometimes I feel like I'm being pulled in different directions and have to decide which need to fill first.  "Mommy look!, Look at me Mommy....Mommy? Mommy?  MOMMY?", then when I do turn to look and lose sight of Baby O for one second, he has already crawled over to the dog bowls (which I always seem to forget to put up high in the morning) and either has a fistful of dog food or has turned over the water bowl.  I feel like I'm not as patient or understanding as I could be all the time.   Some days my attitude is a bit lacking. When I find myself getting frustrated, I try to find an activity to do outside with both boys-I am always amazed at what a little fresh air can do for a (aka my) poor attitude. 

Another issue that consumes much of my thought is attachment and bonding-something that every adoptive parent must deal with to some degree.  Are they looking me in the eye? Are they smiling and laughing enough?  Are they comfortable?  More importantly, do they recognize us as their parents?  This last question always leaves me wondering.  Baby O definitely recognizes our voices and faces now.  He will reach for us and lets us know what he needs.  He smiles more and looks us in the eye.  He just started to return our kisses this weekend.  These are huge milestones to us. 
From the outside, I'm sure it looks like Boy O has transitioned beautifully-and he has-given the fact that we have only been home for eight weeks.  He is anxious when we leave the house and new people come to visit-now that communication has progressed, we can explain that we will be coming home and visitors will be leaving. He genuinely wants to be here and  is always eager to please.  People seem amazed and sometimes impressed that he called us Mommy and Daddy from the beginning.  But what they don't understand is that it's just a word to him.  He's just now noticing that other children in the neighborhood call their parents Mommy and Daddy too.  It will take more than eight weeks to know the true meaning of what Mommy and Daddy means in this family.  It breaks my heart sometimes as his parent but those are times that I have to step back, take a deep breath, think logically and trust that the unconditional love we feel for our beautiful boys will prevail.  

Even though I whine and worry a lot, parenthood has been an absolutely amazing ride and it is by far everything I thought it would be and more-with every frustration there are far more touching and funny moments-too many to count.  We are having so much fun. We have waited for what seems like eternity to have our sons with us and wouldn't change a thing.  Not a thing.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Caught In the Act!

The Cheerio bandit strikes again!

With a little help from his friend of course.