Friday, February 29, 2008


This morning I awoke to the sound of my two babies happily babbling to one another. I looked over to the crib and they were lying head-to-head and gently reaching out to touch the quilt squares that hang on the back of their crib. It really sounded like they were discussing the various fabrics! Oh this one's so soft! I agree! Let's touch another! I watched them covertly for several minutes and then, instead of grabbing for the camera, I snuck down to get the coffee brewing before they realized I was up!

Obviously they're too little to interact a lot right now, but it's so sweet to watch them together. Atticus likes to "pat" Norah on the head. We're working on the term gently. Norah lunges for his toes whenever they appear close enough to fit in her mouth. She's been watching him creep across the floor and moving her arms and legs in a similar motion. Sometimes they just put their foreheads together and make noises. At times they get so distracted by one another while eating in their highchairs that they forget to eat off the spoon. They are so sweet.

Thank you to everyone who has e-mailed, commented, or called with sleep tips. Last night Atticus still got up 3 times, but went right back to sleep. We bought nightlights for our room and the bathroom where we mix the formula. It occurred to me that he might be scared of the dark and he did seem a lot less panicked when he woke up last night. Eventually, I'm sure we will catch up on our sleep.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

We Signed Up for This

It's a good thing I already feel in love with these children because man, o man, we are not getting much sleep. Norah sleeps through the night so soundly we check repeatedly to make sure she's breathing. She then seems to feel no need to nap for more than 10-15 minutes throughout the course of the day. Atticus, on the other hand, has been getting up 4-5 times a night wanting to be rocked and then needs a 2 hour nap in the afternoon.

I really think this is a symptom of adjustment. It seems like he just wants to be reassured (over, and over, and over again sooooo late at night) that we're here and will come to him. Once one of us picks him up, he's generally happy as a clam and ready to smile beguilingly and laugh. He's so darn cute and charming and huggy that it's impossible to hold a grudge.

At 6 AM I was just getting him back to sleep when Norah woke up for the day. Poor Paul awoke a few moments later to the sight of all three of his family members crying. I'm feeling better now and my mom is coming over soon to let me nap. Bringing our kids home has really made me appreciate living nearby our parents. That offers some comfort these days when it just keeps snowing and snowing and snowing and I think about offers we've had to transfer to a warmer climate.

For those of you who have adopted, I would love to hear your strategies for getting your kids on a predictable sleep schedule without making them cry it out. At this point, I don't feel making Atticus cry it out would be the right thing to do. We're already working on establishing a concrete routine during the day and for bedtime and both kids currently sleep in our room. Bringing him into our bed helps a little bit but he still wakes up and wants to be held.
P.S. Above is one of the few moments when they both napped at the same time (in the bathroom). Did I race off to my own bed for a nap? Of course not - I ran to get the camera!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing. I think you can view more photos of our time in Ethiopia by clicking here. I'm still trying to figure the rest of this out.


Someone asked me the other day why we chose the name Atticus. It was suggested to have the connotation of "white man helps the black people". Whoa. That one stopped me in my tracks and hurt my feelings. You can never please everyone when naming your child and I probably shouldn't even try. However, I don't want anyone walking around thinking we named our son with any icky intentions. That makes me feel sick to my stomach.

First and foremost, Atticus was one of the few boy names we both liked. I think it's a cool name and I've liked it ever since I first read To Kill a Mockingbird. The character of Atticus in the novel by Harper Lee is one that I've always adored. I was shocked when someone suggested his place in literature is that of the benevolent white man who helps the helpless black man. I'd never thought of him that way. The character is so much more complex than that and the quality that always stood out for me was his integrity. He's a man who is kind and polite to everyone he encounters - even racist Bob Ewell, mean and bitter Mrs. Dubose, Mayella Ewell who falsely accuses Tom Robinson of rape, and Boo Radley the neighborhood recluse. Empathy is a quality I value highly in a person and the character of Atticus personifies this. He can put himself even in the shoes of those who despise him and he gently teaches his children to do the same. If we can teach our son to treat everyone as a child of God even when they might not deserve it, to consider the viewpoints of others...we will be doing well. And that is all I have to say about that.

Norah's name was also chosen because we liked it. Someday our children can either bemoan or celebrate the fact that at some point one of their parents stepped in to overrule name choices such as Martin, Noah, Canaan, Elijah, Stella, Zelda, and Maya. If they're unhappy, they can always choose their own nicknames or get their revenge by naming their own children names that we dislike.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Two Weeks

Norah looks like someone's very old, very toothless, very happy grandma when she grins. She learned to blow raspberries over the weekend and can now sit in her highchair next to Atticus and compete in bubble-blowing contests. She had the mother of all poopy diapers this morning and it didn't bother her in the least until she realized that instead of being given her bottle she was being plopped into the tub. No more oatmeal for her until she goes off to college, or at least until she can manage her own bodily functions.
Atticus, as you can see, loves standing. Also popular: pulling books and CDs off of shelves, pulling on cords, and touching the dog's tags. He's been extremely clingy this week and wants to be held most of the time by either Paul or me. This is a wonderful sign that he's attaching to us, but it can be challenging when both kids want to be held RIGHT NOW and I'm home alone with them. Our various baby carriers have been a huge help on this front and I'm building strong muscles by carrying them.
We had a quiet family weekend - something we desperately needed. Our kids went on their first trip to the farmers market and the grocery store where they soaked up all sorts of attention. They are awfully cute.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Happy Anniversary to the Father of a Boy Genius

Today is our fourth anniversary. Nine years ago today Paul tricked me into our first date by saying that "a bunch of people" were going to Molly McGuire's for coffee. For a relationship based on a lie, we seem to be doing awfully well. Happy anniversary Sweetie. I love you!

This morning Atticus watched Stella walk across the room and said as clear as day, "Dog!" He won't repeat that performance on command, but I'm pretty sure he's a prodigy. Also, he loves slapping his hands on the floor in time to the music that's playing on the computer while I type. Ani DiFranco seems to be a particular favorite. Couple that with his tendency to raise his fist in defiance when angry and I think we may have a revolutionary on our hands.

I cannot understand how a baby as little as Norah can eat so much. Last night as she lunged for bite after bite of rice cereal Paul expressed doubt. Where was all that food going? How could she possibly be hungry? I think she must be having a growth spurt!

I couldn't ask for any anniversary gift greater than Norah and Atticus.

Here's a video of Atticus from this morning. If anyone knows how to rotate videos so viewers don't have to watch with their heads tilted to one side please let me know!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Baby's First ER Visit

Poor Atticus spiked a fever of 104.5 degrees last night right after the doctor's office closed and we ended up in the emergency room. After some baby ibuprofen in addition to the Tylenol we'd been giving him, he was pronounced well. He just has an ear infection and a cold. Scary stuff for us new parents!

I'm hoping Atticus will be back to his normal, cheerful self once he wakes up this morning. It was so sad to see him looking listless and uncomfortable. Norah, on the other hand, is being her cheerful self. She is such a happy baby - especially in the morning when she lies in bed and coos ma-ma-ma-ma-ma while playing with her feet and waiting for someone to pick her up. I haven't captured it on film yet (we've been a little busy and my general impulse in the morning is not to coo and smile), but I'm attaching a video of her a few minutes later waiting for her bottle downstairs.

P.S. Atticus is awake and you'd never guess he was so sick last night. He's creeeping around on the floor trying to chase our big yoga ball. Thank heaven for healthy children!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Has It Really Been a Week?

I can't believe we've been home a full week. Time is flying by! I hope I can say the same thing once Paul goes back to work tomorrow. It's been wonderful having him at home and I'm a little nervous about being on my own! I'm trying to make plans to ward off feelings of isolation around here.

I know I owe lots of people phone calls and thank you notes. I'm sure some more photographs or videos would also be appreciated. Soon. I promise.

Highlights of this week included taking the kids on their first walk (it's been so cold here!) and (drumroll please...) getting them both on a decent sleep schedule. I hesitate to post this for fear of jinxing myself, but they've both been sleeping nice long stretches each night. I know we are very, very lucky!

Some notes from this week:

  • smiling in the morning

  • napping in the bathroom with the shower on

  • sticking her fists in her mouth

  • napping on Grandpa's tummy

  • looking around the room

  • EATING! (every two hours these past few days!)

  • having her diaper changed

  • taking her antibiotics


  • when the bottle is taken out of her mouth

  • tummy time

  • the dog licking her face

She is starting to sit up much better and will reach for objects and hands that are placed in front of her! She will also now lock her legs and put weight on them sometimes and push away using them. Hooray for progress!



  • looking at himself in the mirror

  • vegetables

  • feeding himself

  • scooting around the floor

  • bottles

  • having his diaper changed (He laughs and laughs.) as long as he gets to hold the tube of Desitin

  • holding on to his sister

  • patty cake with Grammy

  • being tickled and kissed

  • touching electronic devices


  • fruit

  • being put to bed

  • seeing anyone eat when he's not eating

Atticus is starting to be able to stand when his hands are held!

I think we're all adjusting well to being a family of four. I'm quickly learning that I need to let go of some of my expectations about how we would parent. Gone for now are the visions of homemade organic baby foods and cloth diapers. Maybe those things would work for me with only one baby, but this week we've had two adults around the house all day and we've still barely managed to get the laundry and dishes done without somebody screaming their head off that they're not getting enough attention. We'll probably transition over to non-Gerber food sometime soon, but I think the cloth diapers are out of the picture permanently. I feel guilty about the environmental impact of disposables, but the extra work combined with Paul's sensitive gag reflex are making me think it's not worth it for us.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Video from Our First Day

More domestic bliss around here. It feels like we've been home for a long time, but in reality this is only our fourth day. We're enjoying hibernating and having family time.

Atticus (9 months? Maybe older according to the doctor) was eating rice cereal and baby food at the orphanage but Norah (6 months? Or maybe 5 months according to some of her medical records from the orphanage) just tried solids for the first time on Tuesday. She's not quite sure what to do with the food once it's in her mouth but she's being a good sport about the whole thing. We tried giving Atticus a little piece of injera (traditional Ethiopian flatbread that is served with every meal) while we were in Ethiopia and he took one tiny bite and projectile vomited. Whenever we ate from then on, it seemed that Ethiopians were eager to hand him a bite of injera and we had to work not to yell in panic. As you can see, he enjoys eating!

Atticus is starting to pull himself around on the floor and will soon be into everything. Norah is beginning to be able to stay in a sitting position. At the orphanage they didn't want us to put the kids on the floor, so I suspect that neither of our kids has had much tummy time or opportunity to explore sitting or crawling. We're making up for lost time around here!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Brother and Sister

We got a full night's sleep last night! They each had one wakeup and went straight back to sleep until 7 AM! We're both starting to feel a bit more human.

Our parents came over again yesterday and gave us a chance to nap since we're both fighting jet lag in addition to colds. Today is sunny, both babies are in a good mood and I think we may be turning a corner. Thank goodness!

Stella is being gentle with the kids. She did eat a baby bottle full of formula this morning (including eating the actual bottle itself), but otherwise is leaving their belongings alone.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Let's See If This Works

We all slept from 9:30 PM to 4:30 AM last night! Hoorah!
I'm going to see if I can attach some pictures to this message and post them. I hope our internet fixes itself soon!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

We're Home!

Our internet is acting funny and I can't access my Wordpress blog or the normal Blogger site. So... no pictures today. Sorry!
We finally made it home yesterday after 47 hours of traveling. The kids were fantastic on the flight from Ethiopia to Washington and slept most of the flight. True to Ethiopian reputation, the other passengers were wonderful and were all doing their best to entertain the babies when they were awake.  At one point, several of them were passing around Atticus and were offering to hold Norah as well. Still, it was an eighteen and a half hour flight and Paul and I didn't sleep. We got held up in the customs line and ended up missing our connection to O'Hare. When we finally caught the next flight Norah's cold, teething, ear infection, and general befuddlement had caught up with her and she screamed blue murder for two hours. By the time we reached Chicago Paul and I were in black moods and ready to drop - just in time for us to find out that snow and sub-zero temperatures at home had caused all flights to be cancelled. Our warm clothes (heck, all of our clothes) were in our checked baggage so we ended up spending the night at the Hilton that is attached to the airport. The bed was lovely and the shower was fantastic, but both kids had slept all day so there wasn't much sleep to be had.
A word about United Airlines: When we got to the check-in desk at 5:30 am the next morning the three employees were not helping anyone, but instead discussing loudly whether their past personal experiences counted as statutory rape. When we had problems with the automatic check-in, followed by problems using the customer service phone which had such a high buzz it temporarily damaged my hearing, they refused to help and said we would have to exit the airport (in negative temperatures with two underdressed infants) and go to an office. After some tears on my part with a nice security guard and some magic on Paul's part with the phone, we made it to the gate only to have another employee call Paul a jackass as Paul walked away. Oh, and we're hoping to be able to pick up our luggage tonight but it's taken several phone calls and we still haven't ascertained that they're actually there and United doesn't deliver lost luggage. I apologize for the rant, but United should remember what they say: A happy customer tells one person about your company; An unhappy one tells ten. I was unhappy.
The grandparents were there to meet us at our finally destination and it was wonderful. Paul and I are officially obsolete and have been replaced. The three of them stayed for the day and allowed us to catch up on our sleep. Fabulous.
Today we saw our wonderful new pediatrician. He said both kids look really good and Norah's horrible wheezing and discomfort are just a cold and ear infection. The kids got a bunch of immunizations. Norah tried rice cereal for the first time (although her head barely reaches the highchair tray). Atticus is creeping around a lot.  He was really crabby after the shots but seems to be happier now that I'm letting him crawl around the floor in only his diaper. I have no idea why that worked, but I'm going with it.
I loved waking up to play with my happy son this morning while our tuckered daughter slept. I love watching my husband rock our kids and comfort them. The past few days have been tiring and stressful, but I figure things will most likely go up from here and here is pretty darn good.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Did I Mention How Slow Dial-Up Is?

We had another day of baby holding and visiting. This morning they both fell asleep on top of us. Atticus had fallen asleep on Paul's lap three times now and he thinks it bodes well for father-son bonding - napping is his favorite activity too. I don't want to jinx anything, but so far this transition is going really, really well. They are both so even-tempered and happy! The only time either one cried today was when they weren't being held. Norah gave me a big grin when they brought her in from the nursery. Atticus continues to smile a lot. This afternoon there was another family in the room that was meeting their SIX new kids for the first time. Needless to say, it was hectic! I didn't cry yesterday when we met Atticus and Norah for the first time (it all happened too fast), but watching the other family today really choked me up. Both of our babies were fascinated by the other activity in the room.
We talked to the orphanage doctor today who basically just repeated that both kids are very healthy. We will be meeting formally with their nannies tomorrow morning. Although the orphanage is a bustling place, it's obvious the kids have been very well cared for. I think our kids' nannies were reluctant to give them to us today! Tomorrow we will most likely be checking the kids out of the orphanage.
When we weren't visiting with the kids today we were exploring the city a little and visiting the Ethnological Museum. It was okay. It's amazing to drive down the street here looking at people. Modern business women will be walking next to men dressed in traditional robes, next to a sheep herder who's whipping and herding his streets in the middle of the city (Paul pointed out that about 50% of the questions I've asked the driver have been about the animals - it fascinates me)...I've never seen anything like it.

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Monday, February 4, 2008

So Much Information...Such Slow Internet Service!

We're here! The flight was looonnnggg but fine. The plane wasn't very crowded and we both had room to spread out. This morning the sun came up as we were flying over the Nile and desert. It was amazing and would have been the highlight of the day except...

We met our kids! My mom is going to kill me because we didn't have the camera ready to record meeting them - we were waiting and waiting in the office and then suddenly the nannies appeared holding Norah and Atticus!

They're delightful. Neither of them cried all afternoon while we were playing together. Atticus is rolypoly and likes to push high up on his hands and sits pretty well unassisted. He laughs like crazy when you tickle his belly or play with his toes. He fell asleep in Paul's arms.

Norah is much smaller and shorter than Atticus. She was quiet and very happy to look around at us. Her main talent right now seems to be spitting up and she doused both of us several times. She's not pushing up or crawling yet, but she's very alert and seems like a happy baby. She has more hair than I'd expected. She kicks her legs like crazy when you put her on her belly.

We met another adoptive parent from our agency this morning who recommended we take toys with us when we went to the orphanage. I'm glad we did because the meeting room didn't have any toys! The kids both especially seemed to like the rattles that light up.

There are no words to describe Addis Ababa. It's beautiful and chaotic. The roads are primarily dirt, goats are herded along the streets, apparently none of the traffic lights work, there are donkeys on the city street outside our room and goat entrails along the road. It's insane and I'll be sure to take lots of pictures!

Friday, February 1, 2008


I'm fiddling with buttons and I think I should be able to post to this blog via e-mail if necessary.

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