Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Aside from the Sisyphean nature of housework, things are going well. The sun was shining today and we were actually able to take a walk! Heaven!
Atticus has begun to use a few two word phrases like "Where's Bapa?" and "more milk". Tonight he paged back through a book we'd read and spontaneously pronounced the subject of each page (including "teacher")!
Norah learned how to give hugs a while ago and now adds her own sound effect when delivering a hug: "Awww!" I wonder where she learned that? Sometimes if Atticus isn't receptive to her hugs, she'll grab him by his shirt and pull him toward herself.
The kids received a new baby-doll for Christmas and spent a long time today nurturing her and their other doll. It was adorable to see them giving their dolls hugs and feeding them bottles. (As a side note: Doesn't it seem like a bad idea to make a doll that performs when you abuse it? This new baby sneezes when you put your weight on her nose and laughs when you press hard on her chest. Atticus and Norah love it, but it makes me wonder how they might treat a baby now!)
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
- Atticus is a bubble fiend. He gets so excited about them that he shakes.
- Norah told us her first joke the other night: Do-do-do-do-do-do-do. She clearly thought she was being hilarious.
- Atticus threw a Christmas ornament (a glitter ball I thought was made of plastic) to the dog. It was actually glass and it shattered all over the floor.
- Norah has discovered a love of thumping her way down the stairs on her bottom
- Yesterday Atticus pulled the stool over the the kitchen sink and tried to eat food out of the drain. Then while I was cleaning that out, he climbed on top of the kitchen table and was standing on it. Ah, toddlers!
- They both love to dance.
- The kids have been spending a ridiculous amount of time looking out the front window.
- We have the most patient dog on the planet.
- My brain is on vacation-mode and that's all I can remember right now. We're having a wonderful time though and keeping warm. Eventually I'm sure I'll think of something interesting to post about.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Last weekend Atticus was having a particularly rough night, so Paul cuddled up on the couch with him for some downtime while Norah watched the DVD. To our shock, he realized both kids were performing almost all of the signs! Smart babies!
We've been doing a few signs with them since they were very little - milk, more, and our own rendition of "all done" which consists of hands held high in the air. That last sign came about organically at the end of meals and seemed like a good idea at the time. The reality, however, is that the hands held high in the air get tired quickly and need somewhere to rest. Both of them have begun to wipe their messy hands on their hair when they're done eating. It definitely doesn't expedite the clean-up process and isn't at all convenient when we're hoping to go out in public with them after a meal!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Paul entertained Norah for quite awhile the other day by touching the Christmas tree and then pretending it had hurt his finger. Apparently, she doubled over laughing so hard. Here, she recreates the scene for you. Also of note: We have a pair of minature hiking boots on the tree that the kids love to touch. Shoes!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
We're still new enough to this that I don't have many of my own insights. One thing that has hit home for me is how conspicuous our family is. At first when we came home with Atticus and Norah it seemed normal to me that we attracted a lot of attention. They were our new babies and it didn't feel too weird that people asked questions about them everywhere we went. We had just become parents and it seemed commonplace that the rest of the world was taking notice of it!
These days, our family seems so average to me. Two parents, two kids, two jobs, a dog, a house, and a partridge in a pear tree... We spend our days like all the other families of young children we know. We go grocery shopping and to the park. We rejoice in tiny daily accomplishments like one of the kids mastering a new word or looking particularly cute while doing something. We juggle daycare pickups, dread gross diapers, read about how to handle toddler tantrums, pray to the gods of baby sleep, and sometimes miss sleeping in on the weekends together - normal, normal, normal.
Yet, it's not unusual for us to attract attention when we do these things. We've been introduced as "Paul and Betsy who have two kids adopted from Ethiopia". Someone recently remarked about the fact that one of us referred to Atticus as our son. The cashier at our local supermarket started recognizing me after our second visit. I thought she just had a good memory when she asked where my other child was, but then she pointed out that there aren't too many white moms with two brown babies who shop there.
When we were preparing to adopt, I was mentally aware that we would stick out. It doesn't really bother me, but it is kind of weird to think that for the rest of our lives together as a family we will be labeled this way and set apart from others. We want our kids to have a healthy understanding of our identity as a family created through adoption, but it's a rather bizarre notion that for many people this will be the predominant identity of our family. My kids are just my kids to me. We hug and kiss them, give them baths, repeat random actions that make them laugh, would throw ourselves under a bus to save them... It feels miraculous yet completely normal all at once - just as I imagine most parents feel about their kids.
With all of this said, it's our job to continue educating ourselves about transracially adoptive families and how to raise happy, healthy children in them. Some of the comments in the NPR segments listed above really hit home and led to some great discussion between the two of us.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Atticus hasn't decided yet whether he's a fan. He doesn't like to keep his mittens on and doesn't like cold hands either. Still, he enjoyed getting a chance to use his swing in the backyard again after he unearthed it.
Norah is officially a snow bunny. Snow cushions your falls, you can throw it, and eat it! What more could she ask for?
We also put up our Christmas tree. Much to my dismay, we needed to set it up behind the couch this year to keep little people from eating/climbing/destroying it. The kids think it's pretty, but they were far more interested in the box. Norah has never climbed on top of anything before, but yesterday she scaled the box just seconds after Atticus took the lead. (Side note: Her messy shirt in the picture demonstrates what happens when you try to give a toddler a sip of your fruit smoothie from a regular glass.)
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Yesterday Atticus scooted up behind Norah, wrapped his arms around her and gave her a gigantic, grinning hug. Then Paul and I melted into two gooey puddles on the floor.
We'll try to get them to re-create the scene for a photo soon.
P.S. Norah and Atticus got a new cousin yesterday! Welcome Madonna Faustina!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Putting on Bapa's boots
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Both babies were fascinated by the Macy's Day Parade this morning. The Rockettes were a particular hit and Atticus did a wonderful job of alerting us to every balloon that came onscreen. The dog show that was on later was also very popular. They are both so good at identifying dogs - even the dumb-looking breeds that look like rats or mops were correctly deemed to be dogs.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Norah has apparently refined her Halloween scary face and was ready to show it to the camera today.
Atticus discovered a frightening (to me) new way to use their favorite push-toy.
Paul has gotten excited about making his first Turducken for Thanksgiving this year - also a little terrifying. Be sure to listen to "The Turducken Song" included at the link site. Dinner should be interesting.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Ruby Bridges's mother was a cleaning lady and her father was a gas station attendant who was fired because of their decision to allow Ruby to integrate her grade school. They eventually divorced and Ruby's mom raised their eight children in a Florida housing project. Her grandparents were kicked off the land they'd sharecropped for 25 years because their granddaughter was in the news. Can you imagine?
Of course I have enormous respect for Civil Rights leaders like Dr. King. At the same time, the stories that bring me to tears are most often those of the unsung heroes who never enjoyed fame or admiration - everyday people who took a stand and did their part to make a change.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Norah spends long portions of her days running around the house with no real purpose other than the joy of running. Above she demonstrates what happens when you laugh too hard with a mouthful of kefir.
Last weekend, when the Paul and the kids met me at the airport, Atticus came running with a huge grin to great me. I am such a lucky mom!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I don't really believe either of the candidates has the power to do everything he's promised. As I drove to work today, through a neighborhood that was recently denounced as a "forsaken ghetto" in our local newspaper, I was so inspired to see it alive with citizens grinning and waving banners while lining up to vote. My students today were almost as hyper and unruly as I'm used to seeing the day before Christmas break. It was an amazing thing to see. This election has helped people to overcome being disenfranchised and apathetic and that gives me enormous hope for our future as a country.
P.S. Obama Poster by Shepard Fairey
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
- When I was little, I had an irrational fear that my parents would abandon me somewhere. Two things comforted me: 1. I knew my mom wouldn't leave her purse (and rationalized that if her purse was with me she must be planning to return). 2. I knew my grandparents' phone number and could just call my grandpa to jump in the car and get me. He would have too, even though he lived 700 miles away.
- He loved children. As a little old man who bore a passing resemblance to Pope John Paul II, he got away with a lot and was known to pick up strangers' babies who held up their arms to him in restaurants and grocery stores. When I was trying to describe to my mom how much Ethiopians doted on Norah and Atticus when we were traveling with them in Ethiopia, I explained that it was like having a country full of my grandpa.
- My grandma wasn't supposed to know, but he sent me shushkis (envelopes with notes and spending money) regularly.
- He and my grandma were married for 64 years. He would regularly stop by the side of the road when he saw wild tigerlilies or sweetpeas and cut her a bouquet.
- As a former funeral director, he taught me how to apply makeup using samples in drugstores while we waited for my mom and grandma to finish their shopping.
- Another professional perk: He maintained an excellent relationship with his local Lincoln dealer and they always called him up when they had a good deal. For my college graduation he gave me his Lincoln Town Car. A few years later, Paul and I had to replace Paul's car. I knew if I mentioned this to my grandfather he would give us another car. We wanted to be grownups who took care of our own needs; we quietly purchased a Toyota Corolla. When my grandpa found out about it a month later, he bought himself a new car and promptly drove the old one out for us to have. Until the day we traded those two Town Cars in, I kept finding little vestiges of my grandpa tucked away in the nooks and crannies of the cars: plastic bags rolled and rubber-banded into the tiniest of squares, stray cigars and an ancient pack of Marlboros that he never would have smoked but probably was given and kept "just in case" he ran into someone who wanted them, silk flowers pinned to the sun visors, a bobble-head Jesus...
- He loved dogs and horses. He kept sugar cubes in the car for horses he came across. The neighborhood dogs used to stop by to visit him for treats.
- When Paul announced he would be moving to my college town to be closer to me, my grandpa's first words were "Keep your pants zipped."
- He loved checking up on people and making the rounds. He had a long list of daily stops (the city mission to help serve food, the grocery store to see what he could see, the newspaper store, my mom's cousins' house next door when we were at the lake to find out what people were up to and what was in the candy jar...).
- I lived with my grandparents every summer when I was growing up. Sometimes after evening meetings, he would wake me up with a coffee Fribble from Friendly's.
- He didn't get much time with Atticus and Norah, but he was delighted by watching them swim and getting a chance to hold them.
- He was absolutely the best grandfather anyone could ever wish to have.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
It's been an un-newsworthy week around here. All four of us have had colds and all of us except Norah have been slightly miserable because of them. I know we're not dealing with a serious disease or anything and should be grateful, but I am so sick of us being sick. Ugh.
Atticus has discovered that he loves to have his ears cleaned out with Q-tips. He actually requests it and has tried to do it himself.
Norah continues to keep us on Baby Suicide Watch. She's determined to walk right off the top of the stairs, the bed, the couch... She spent a good portion of yesterday amusing herself by putting a dishtowel over her head and then running around blindly.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Last weekend I was relaxing outside in an Adirondack chair while the kids played wondering why I didn't do more of it over the summer. Then I realized that they've developed so much in just the last couple of months. Norah wasn't even crawling throughout most of the summer and now she's delighted to run around chasing the dog or exploring the yard. It gets better and better. (Yes, Atticus is napping in the first picture.)
Both of them have recently developed a taste for cherry tomatoes and Monday Atticus began to pick the red ones and eat them. Norah followed suit, except she skipped the picking part and pulled the tomato vines straight into her mouth.
He not only figured out how to climb into the kitchen chairs and move a stool around this weekend, but also began to read aloud some of the words from his favorite books. I'm sure he just has them memorized and isn't actually reading, but we think he's a genius nonetheless.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
- They like to compare their bellies. They can both show us where their tummies are and then they like to hold up their shirts and stand face to face laughing. It's adorable.
- Atticus has started to throw temper tantrums when we don't drop what we're doing to read him a book RIGHT NOW. His current favorite is Oops! and we must have read it at least six times tonight.
- He has been transferring his favorite word ("more") to all sorts of things and now uses it to ask for the toy drawer to be opened, to be spun around more, or to get into his highchair.
- Before we stored it someplace secret and high-up, he was obsessed with our iron and would tote it around the house. Don't worry, we never actually use the iron or plug it in, so I doubt we have to worry about him burning himself.
- Norah loves climbing out of the bathtub. She has also learned her brother's trick of using her sibling as a step to get onto the couch. They are so funny.
- We took a family walk around the block the other day and both kids walked 3/4 of the way all by themselves. It was a fantastic way to tire them out and they thought it was hilarious.
Friday, October 3, 2008
My grandma has been in town for the past couple of weeks. She fractured her hip on Labor Day and had a portion of it replaced, so she has been staying with my parents while she recuperates. I can't believe she had such major surgery only a month ago and was walking around the library with us today! She is truly an inspiration.
It's been great to see her more regularly. Since my grandparents live in New York and my grandpa hasn't been well, we haven't gotten to spend nearly enough time together. She totally won Atticus and Norah over this summer by introducing them to their first cookies. Atticus learned to get the box off the table and take it to her since his mean old mama wouldn't have complied. Now that she's in town, the kids know who to turn to for their raisins and Cheerios. In addition, Atticus is besotted by her cane. Go figure. [For the record, those aren't real scissors in the third picture. They're a pair of cooking forceps that have provided endless amounts of entertainment to the kids. Again, whatever works...]