Thursday, September 30, 2010

Getting in the Spirit

Confession:  I love to buy seasonal decor junk.  Every year around this time, I walk up and down the aisles of the stores with stars in my eyes, perusing  glittery ornaments or scary table toppers.  I love smelling the spicy candles and imagining how wonderful and festive all the useless knick knacks would look on our shelves at home.  In an effort to curb my semi-annual holiday junk fixation this year, I  opted to forgo buying it from the stores and create it myself. And by 'myself', I mean I have enlisted the assistance of my children to fulfill my appetite for holiday gew gaws. 

Give Boy O a blank canvas, paintbrush, and some orange, white and black paint and voila!-Abstract Halloween masterpiece.

Not only will the paintings look good anywhere in the house, but it was a great lesson in colors.  Candy Land could only go so far....and we were having trouble teaching the difference between black and gray.  Black and white paint was perfect for this lesson.  Not only does he know the difference between the two colors, but he now knows the recipe for the color gray.

A few days later, we used empty glass jars, decoupage glue and tissue paper to make Halloween tea light holders.


This was fun simply because it was so messy!  Glue was everywhere, as was the tissue paper-but thank goodness we cut out shapes for the faces beforehand and it helped with learning to use scissors and reinforce all of the shapes.  Who knew Halloween could be so educational?

Here's the finished product:

Stay tuned, we haven't even gone to the pumpkin patch and I have lots of ideas for Thanksgiving and Christmas...

Saturday, September 25, 2010


After logging in 647 miles, 2 boxes of GU, 10 pairs of shoes (4 if you don't count the 6 pairs from Boy O), 1 new stroller tire and countless cheerios dropped along the way-Family O can (in theory)  now enjoy some extra time in the evening and sleep in a bit longer on Saturday morning-we are officially 'tapering' down our mileage and resting our bodies for the marathon.

With 26.2 miles looming ahead and just 2 weeks away, I enter the taper with equal amounts of excitement and trepidation. There are countless things my mind is focusing on to worry about.  How will we handle spending the night in one hotel room and waking up in time to feed & clothe the boys- not to mention walk to the course in time for the 7 am start?  We've never run a marathon with strollers, so how long WILL it actually take?  I hope I don't bump into anyone with the front wheel....I hope Baby O doesn't need a diaper change...I hope we don't get a flat tire...I hope I can handle the major hill at mile 16.5 and I certainly hope I can handle the downhill portion pushing a stroller.  But most of all I hope that I can keep my wits about me, stay upbeat and finish strong with my family. 

On the other hand,  I am excited. I am excited to show Boy O how to put the tracking chip on his shoe.  I am excited to get up when it's still dark out and walk to the starting line.  I am excited to chatter nervously with those fellow runners beside us. I am excited to hear the gun shot, run through the city and listen to all the people cheering, the bands playing, and read the t-shirts with inspirational stories/funny sayings.  But most of all, I am excited to, along with my husband, push our sons and ourselves to the limit and finish together.

I started running marathons at the beginning of our adoption journey which was a marathon adventure in itself.  There were many times throughout the process when I compared it to exactly that, saying that I was at mile 23 and had 'hit the wall' so to speak.  In my mind, I had stopped moving my legs and my face was streaked with tears.  Then I would hear in the distance, sometimes from a complete stranger, "Hey, keep it up, there's some water ahead-you're almost there!", and I would start to focus again on one foot in front of the other.  It was still hard and I still stopped and walked every once in a while, but I made it. 

So it is fitting that I end this adventure with another marathon to mark not the end of the journey but the beginning of one crazy adventure as a new family. Even though the novelty of the stroller has worn off for both Boy and Baby O, I sincerely hope that they can look back at this experience and know not only that 647 miles of perseverance and determination is what it takes to complete a marathon, but more importantly it is the same perseverance and determination that brought us together (and they aren't too angry that they spent 647 miles in a jogging stroller).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Soccer Star

Sign up for indoor soccer: $45.00

One pair of extra-small shinguards: $12.00

Another pair of shoes (yes, seriously): $7.99

Waking us up at 4:53 am on the morning of the 1st soccer practice fully dressed, shinguards and all: One tired Mommy & Daddy (and also left us wondering how early Christmas morning is going to be)

Jumping up and screaming as my son scored the only 2 goals and successfully hogged the ball whenever he was in the game; he enjoyed every moment: Absolutely priceless!

Monday, September 20, 2010


A few small steps for Baby O, and giant leaps for Mommy and Daddy!

Baby O has taken a few very small steps on his own, but all of a sudden (tonight), he has decided to REALLY walk! So exciting and we tried to get a quick video of this momentous evening-I will say, that in order to obtain this footage the baby gate was left open. Pure motivation.

Friday, September 17, 2010


A letter to my son on his first birthday.

Dear Baby O,

At seven and a half months old alongside your brother, you flew halfway across the world and made our family whole.  You weren't quite your spunky self at that point-you were recovering from a serious infection resulting from the chicken pox.  The antibiotics made you groggy and for the first week or so, we were only able to catch a glimpse of your exuberant personality.  At one year old, you are bright in every way that I can think of-facial expressions, movements and your laugh has been known to stop traffic in an entire grocery store.

In the past two weeks alone, you have managed to not only outgrow all of your 6-9 month old clothes, but now without warning, the 12 month old clothes are getting tight (in just two weeks!).  I thought we had at least a few months before you needed a new wardrobe and I don't think you were disappointed this evening that most of your presents were clothes as I wrapped each outfit in different size boxes and lots of tissue paper for your entertainment.

You love your big brother so much. In fact for months after you arrived, he was the only one who could make you belly laugh by just entering the room or making a funny face. Daddy O and I were quite envious of his skills at times. We would try to do the exact same thing and you would look at us like we were crazy. It took us a while to each develop our own 'belly laugh' skills.

You are an extremely inquisitive and active baby!  You have this amazing ability to find the one kernel of popcorn that I missed while vacuuming and love to hold it up to me from across the room between your index finger and thumb, smile and put it in your mouth one millisecond before I reach you.

You are crawling and cruising everywhere now, can stand up on your own and take more tentative steps each day.  My heart jumps in my throat all the time-climbing over baby gates and managing to get yourself in the strangest of places. You will be walking very soon, but sometimes I hesitate to encourage you, thinking that a few more days of less mobility might be advantageous for me. 

Going hand in hand with being active, you eat a lot.  And I mean a lot.  This morning for breakfast you ate two good sized bananas, a hefty bowl of oatmeal and of course a side of cheerios.  You also seemed to enjoy your first piece of cake-it was a two layer pineapple/apple cake (supposed to be three, but I ruined one layer-why do I always insist on making the most complicated recipe?).

Our celebration of this milestone was pretty mellow-just you, me, Dad, and your brother-who I might add was a tad jealous of all the attention and presents.  He tried hard to 'help' you open your presents, but once you were preoccupied with all the boxes and paper, it was hard to stop him and you didn't seem to mind. 

I feel old now because I see that the days are going by too quickly and you are growing up before my eyes. 

Happy Birthday and wishing you many more to come, much love,

Mommy O

Saturday, September 11, 2010

100 Mommies

In my description of our trip to Addis Ababa and visiting different orphanages, I remember mentioning that many children referred to visitors as Mommy and Daddy.  I also remember feeling sad upon clarifying that I was not their Mommy, but also happy that I was indeed someone's Mommy.  I thought these kids were just confused, things hadn't been properly explained etc... 

I am beginning to see things differently now.

From the time we received our referral of Boy and Baby O, we were fortunate to be in contact with other families traveling over to pick up their children.  I was able to give them our son's names and ask if they could take pictures or even deliver a letter or two.  People were extremely kind and giving with their time and as a result, I have hundreds of pictures of our boys in the months before we met them.  I remember spending hours with Daddy O dissecting the pictures and interpreting the facial expressions in each snapshot.  Every picture had a story.  Now we look at those photographs with Boy O and he has names and stories to go with those same pictures.  He will point to kids and say their names if he remembers them, he will point to doorways and explain which one was his classroom, bedroom and bathroom.  As time went by and his English progressed, he started pointing to adults in the pictures and referring to them as Mommy and Daddy.  This was and is still hard for me to hear.  From a logical standpoint it makes perfect sense, but is nevertheless painful to this Mommy who loves him so fiercely and whose definition of Mommy has been limited to only her experience.  Since I know most of the adults in the pictures through previous correspondence, we have chosen to correct him and refer to them by their name.  That's Miss Morgan, or that's Miss Melissa and so on. 

From time to time, he tells me stories of his past-they usually are told from the view of a typical 4 year old-woven with tales of spiderman, motorcycles, and pancakes-I never quite know what to think and where the shreds of truth exist. Every once in a while though, he says something that really sticks in my head and makes my brain itch.  The other day he was telling me about the Mommy in the picture (a woman who was kind enough to personally give him some one on one attention) and I corrected him by saying, no honey, that's Miss Marnie.  Frustrated, I followed it up with "How many Mommies DO you have?" and he responded (very matter of factly) "Oh, Mommy-I have a 100 Mommies.  Teacher Mommy, this Mommy, this Mommy..." pointing to all the women in the pictures.

And it hit me. 

He's right.  For that particular moment in time, they were his Mommy or Daddy-they provided him with what he needed for that occasion.  I was able to see how he responded to adults working at Layla and how much he was loved.  That much was clear.  His teachers were his Mom during class, the cooks were his Mom when he ran by the kitchen for a snack, Baby O's caregiver's were his Mom when they watched him visit his brother, and a traveling parent or volunteer was his Mom when he needed a hug or some reassurance.  And the list goes on...

As an adoptive parent, I was ready to acknowledge, embrace, and explain birth parents and adoption, I was just not aware of the role other Mommies and Daddies would play into the definition of 'parent' in Boy O's world.  It's just a different way of defining the word 'parent'.  At that time in his life, he did have 100 Mommies.  Now the work begins to not necessarily change his perception, but expand it to include other concepts as well.  This Mommy and Daddy will be around for more than one moment.  We will stick and we are here to stay.

Thank you to all the 100 Mommies and Daddies out there who took care of our boys even for just a moment-there are too many to name and you know who you are.  You made a difference in this boy's life.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Boy Defined

Recently I've been reading through a book of poems and quotes about what little boys are made of.  I found this quote that made me laugh-it fits my boys perfectly.  It makes me think back to when Daddy O and I started talking about starting a family.  I remember saying that I couldn't imagine having anything other than a little girl.  Times and feelings have most certainly changed and I can't imagine life without these two munchkins.  The house is louder, messier, definitely busier and I marvel at the energy.  Where DOES it come from and how does it recharge so quickly?

Boy Defined:  Nature's answer to that false belief that there is no such thing as perpetual motion.

Author Unknown

Here are some pictures from the past week that show the side effects of "perpetual motion".  We are now on our fifth pair of shoes and just this past week had to replace the back tire of Boy O's bike.  He had worn the tread completely down (the shoes and the tire). I wish I had pictures of Baby O climbing over the baby gate and us having to buy a special three foot metal one just to keep him in the room, but I didn't find it funny at the time and feel lucky he wasn't hurt. Sometimes I just nod my head from side to side and just have to accept and be thankful they are just very active boys.  The term 'all boy' has new meaning now.

 These are the old shoes compared with the new shoes.  Notice how it looks like a shark has taken a bite out of the back of the shoe.  In reality, it is being used as a secondary brake on the back wheel of the bike.  Speaking of the back wheel.....

While Daddy O was changing the tire, the boys were more interested in playing with them.

And of course, when you go to the store to get a new tire, how can you resist buying new handle grips?  They look like they taste mighty good.

On the road once again!