Sunday, March 30, 2008

It's been a nice quiet weekend. We took the kids to the farmers market, the zoo, and a restaurant yesterday. The zoo seemed to be a hit, especially the monkeys. We promised to take them on a safari when we travel back to Africa as a family - assuming all the animals aren't extinct by then.
I didn't manage to take pictures in the zoo, but the top picture was taken in the parking lot. Does that count as capturing the moment? Norah's first reaction when encountering an object is to put her mouth on it - it's a good thing we couldn't get very close to the zoo animals!

Friday, March 28, 2008


As requested by their grammy, here are some videos from this morning.

Watching the World Go By

My children have a new favorite pastime.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

More Easter Pictures

Our friend Clayton sent us these pictures from Easter dinner. I don't think Atticus had ever been up close to a window before that he could reach. He was fascinated by the sliding glass doors in his Grandma Bebe's house.

The doctor recommended the other day that we put Norah on her tummy for two thirty-minute stretches a day. This is not going well - it's the fastest way to see her switch from being a happy, delightful, smiley baby to being a screaming banshee...for 29 minutes straight (she tolerates the first minute well). Hopefully a few days of practice will help her to get used to it - otherwise I'm going to need some earplugs.

Atticus is officially a crawling machine. He is now crawling quickly and all the time. His favorite destination is the bathroom where he always pulls himself up to peer into the bathtub. We'll be installing baby gates on the stairs this weekend!

I bought some washable crayons at the store yesterday. I'm not sure when most parents introduce them, but I thought it might be fun for Atticus to try out. When we got home, I sat him down and showed him how they worked. He promptly took a big bite out off the nibs of two crayons and then drooled pink and black for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Norah and Atticus had a routine checkup scheduled this morning at 10 am. Getting them both out of the house that early in the morning isn't all that easy, but I thought we were doing pretty well. I didn't realize, however, that Atticus's diaper had shifted under the carseat buckle. I popped him into the Ergo where he promptly pooped, not in the diaper, but around it. By the time we got into the office his pants, socks, shoes, Ergo carrier, and mother were all a mess - and I hadn't packed a change of clothes for him. So, if you happened to be driving down the street today and saw a mother carrying her baby outside in the 30 degree weather wearing nothing but a blanket and diaper...that bad mother was me.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to all those who celebrate it. We're having an awful lot of fun in our house. I can't believe how quickly Norah and Atticus are growing and gaining funny new skills. When we went to dress them today we found that many of their adorable outfits that we'd been saving for special occasions no longer fit! These children are shooting up like beans and I need to dress them up more before they outgrow any more of their clothes.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Last night I finally managed to watch Barack Obama's "A More Perfect Union" speech. I'd heard plenty of snippets along with commentary on the news, but this was the first time I listened for myself. Man, oh man, oh man, did it make me itchy to be back in the classroom. Each spring my students are required to write and deliver a speech of their own and Obama's speech would have been a perfect one to make the center of a lesson plan. It was excellent, in my opinion, and it made me feel so hopeful about what could happen after the election.

Also, did anyone else start to feel all tingly when they saw Bill Richardson endorsing Obama today? Just thinking about those two being running mates makes me need to fan my face a little bit.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Healthy Babies

We took a road trip yesterday to see the adoption specialists at a major children's hospital. This was primarily because our insurance company allegedly won't cover certain tests if our normal pediatrician orders them but will cover the same tests when ordered from the specialists. I really don't understand insurance companies.

Ridiculous policies aside, I'm really glad we went. Paul and I both really liked the two doctors who saw the kids. One specializes in infectious diseases and the other in developmental issues. They were both wonderful and stayed talking to us and checking out the kids for well over two hours. Their comments were great. They were very, very pleased and surprised by the state of the kids' health. They said they rarely see internationally adopted children who are so on-target. Atticus and Norah are both healthy weights and heights (Atticus has gained almost four pounds since he came home!), they have great muscle development, they're hitting developmental milestones, and they appear to be attaching quite well. There is nothing like walking through a children's hospital to make you profoundly grateful for healthy children.

Speaking of developmental milestones: I usually put the kids in their bouncy chairs in the bathroom while I shower. Usually they are perfectly happy and often they sleep. On Tuesday, however, Atticus was not in the mood for his bouncy chair and was fussing. When he stopped fussing I peeked out of the shower. He had pulled himself out of the restraining belt and was standing on top of his bouncy chair. He then got down, crawled over to the toilet, and pulled himself up to look into the bowl. I think my days are about to get even busier!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Babies' First Blog Post

I hate to take the words out of my kids' mouths, but they've been tagged to list ten random facts about themselves. Here's what I imagine they might tell the cyberworld:

1. I've learned to feed myself my bottle. I especially like taking a big mouthful of formula and then buzzing my lips.

2. I'm learning to make lots of new noises. Yesterday my mom and papa were sure I had somehow found two bottle caps and was rubbing them together in my mouth! I fooled them though - I was just learning to grind my teeth! My mom says this is her least favorite noise.
3. I really like books. I enjoy being read to, but my favorite part of the process is taking them off the shelves. What to Expect the First Year is my favorite book to handle.

4. This first year of my life has not been what I might have expected!

5. Peeing in the bathtub makes me laugh!

6. I've begun to crawl on my hands and knees and I like to push myself up into the downward dog position.

7. Don't tell my mom, but I like to feed Stella my Cheerios and teething biscuits. I'm pretty stealthy about it!
8. I know how to open the refrigerator!

9. I enjoy dancing to music. Marvin Gaye seems to make me especially happy.

10. Imitating Norah is fun! When she screams or cries, I make the same noises while laughing!


1. I am learning to give kisses. They're pretty slimy!

2. My mom and papa have been making me practice rolling over. Since I hate being put on my tummy, this doesn't make me very happy.

3. I'm starting to get pretty jealous of Atticus because he can move around and get toys that are out of my reach. I'm practicing moving my arms and legs like he does so that I can crawl someday too.

4. My Jumperoo makes me really happy!

5. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and just want to play.

6. I can pick up food off my highchair tray! Now I just need to cut some teeth so I can actually eat the food!

7. Mom's worst nail-trimming fear came true last week: She cut the tip of my finger! I didn't cry. Later on, I was in my Jumperoo and the finger started bleeding again as I rubbed it alongside my leg. I ended up looking like a baby axe murderer with blood spatters all over myself.

8. In the bathtub I like to lower my face and try to bite my toys. It doesn't bother me when my head goes underwater.

9. I'm learning to use my voice in new and exciting ways. I love to scream and smile!

10. I like to hold onto my brother when we're in the stroller. It's easiest for me to hold onto his hair, but sometimes I'll settle for his hand.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Family Outing

We walked to the park this afternoon to introduce the kids to the swings and slides. I think Norah enjoyed herself immensely. The last photo shows how Atticus spent the trip. Maybe next time!

Thursday, March 13, 2008


It's a gorgeous day here and I'm beginning to believe spring may really come. Atticus decided not to nap with Norah this morning so he spent an hour or so watching Stella and me do some yard work. You can see Stella's results above. I moved some rocks because I'm planning on expanding the perimeter of the garden next to our back door. Atticus didn't find that nearly as interesting.

P.S. Here's a picture of Norah from this afternoon.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

10 Random Facts

I have been tagged by Christina.

Rules of play:Post 10 random things about yourself. Choose 5 people to tag and a reason you chose each person (can be totally nonsensical). Leave them each a comment directing them to your blog so they know they are it .You can't tag the person who tagged you (you'll have to make new friends). As a courtesy to the person who tagged you, please let them know when you have posted so they can have the sheer delight and extra work load of reading your answers. Play!!

1.) I waitressed at Nick's Patio, a local dive, for two summers. This always shocks people, possibly because many of the waitresses there appear to have substance abuse problems.

2.) The owner once accused me - in front of a customer - of picking food off the floor after breaking a plate and re-serving it to the customer. The customer told the owner off. I didn't quit.

3.) My first job after college was as the summer education person at the zoo.

4.) I spent a year working as a special education assistant for children with autism. It remains one of my favorite jobs.

5.) When we got married, Paul and I bought two goldfish and a bottom feeder fish. The goldfish were named Margaret and Alexander because I thought they were pretty names. The bottom feeder was named Paris Hilton. The next day, Alexander died and we replaced him. Paul decided we should number our fish so we (um, I) wouldn't get too attached and we christened the next one Number Three. Four years later, Margaret and Number Three are still alive and kicking. Before we got the dog we used to created obstacle courses for the fish in their tank. Now they're lucky to get fed.

6.) I have been known to cry at Pedigree commercials, 8th grade graduations, and anytime while watching other peoples' adoption videos. I did not cry during my own wedding ceremony or when we met our own kids.

7.) I spent every summer growing up living with my grandparents in the Adirondack Mountains. I was very spoiled.

8.) I am an only child. In four years of teaching I've only had one student who was the only child of both her parents. My students think I'm a freak.

9.) Cheaper By the Dozen was one of my favorite books as a child and I used to want 12 kids of my own. If we were to win the lottery and could both afford to stay home while also hiring a housekeeper I probably still would.

10.) I changed my major rather frequently in college. These included: Political Science, Women's Studies, Studio Art, Dance, Art History, English, and French. In my defense, declaring a major made it easier to get into classes in any particular discipline. The beauty of attending a liberal arts college is that I still graduated within 4 years.

I don't know many people in real life who haven't been tagged and I feel totally weird about tagging someone I don't actually know. There are actually a few, but I don't want to out their online identities without their consent... I will be tagging them on their own blogs though, so don't think I'm breaking the chain letter or anything and sentence me to death or something else equally horrible.

Public Service Announcement

Here's my PSA for the day: Making tuna salad in the Cuisinart is a horrible idea. It's the fastest way to make a disgusting fish paste that will stink up the whole house. Trust me on this one.

I think we may have adopted two of the best-natured babies on the planet. We are having so much fun with them and I don't think a night has passed so far without the two of us lying in bed discussing how lucky we are.
Norah is working hard on sprouting some teeth. This has been going on since we met her last month, but her discomfort seems to have ramped up in the past few days so I'm hoping we may see some actual progress soon. Poor baby. She so wants to chew on her brother's toes, but he moves them too much. She adores the Jumperoo and also seems to be getting a lot of pleasure lately out of yelling in Atticus's face. She makes me laugh.
Atticus is a very vain baby. He loves looking at himself in the mirror and it always makes him smile. He's recently started to carry things around in his mouth - socks are a favorite, especially when he's just taken them off Norah. He gets really into "conversations" where we make noises back and forth to each other. I picture him being 18 and still doing this but that's probably just the worry-wort in me coming through.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

101 Things To Do in 1020 Days

I recently came across a challenge online to write a list of 101 things you want to accomplish in 1001 days. I love lists and the feeling of crossing things off of them, so I was highly tempted to make my own. I was thinking about it last night and realized that those 1001 days would bring me extremely close to my 30th birthday. Better calculations today proved that I have 1020 days until that milestone. I thought about writing the list and then waiting 19 days to post it, but I don't have a lot of self-control that way. Here it is:

Making a House a Home
1. finish this list
2. sand and repaint pillar in living room
3. paint upstairs hall
4. repaint office that I don’t like
5. sand and repaint kitchen woodwork
6. add the baseboard piece to living room
7. fix the damn pocket door on the downstairs bathroom again
8. make curtains for living room
9. have an energy audit done on the house and follow the recommendations made
10. read a how-to book and try reupholstering a chair
11. purchase and paint four more chairs for kitchen
12. refinish the bookshelf in the entry way
13. repaint the front door lintel
14. repaint front door
15. repaint house exterior
16. remove the ugly awnings over the windows
17. move pavers and plant an herb garden next to the back door
18. plant a perennial garden against the back fence
19. plant a vegetable garden and actually use the things we grow
20. find out about the history of our house from the neighbor
Family Life and Fun
21. take the kids on at least three walks per week (0/450)
22. make life books for both kids
23. use the spa gift certificate Paul gave me in 2006
24. read one book a week (0/150)
25. take a 10-mile or longer hike with Paul
26. start adoption process again (? Pending agreement with Paul)
27. make crème brulee from scratch
28. host a barbeque at our house
29. spend a weekend alone with Paul in Chicago
30. spend an afternoon exploring Three Oaks
31. go apple picking
32. take the kids to a nursing home dressed up in their Halloween costumes
33. finalize kids’ citizenship
34. plant strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries
35. grow gourds for fun
36. go to Shipshewana
37. buy one nice piece of furniture that is not factory-new
38. frame 2 pieces of kids’ artwork once they’re old enough to make art
39. steam-clean the rugs and upholstery of our cars
40. run a 10k
41. transition to buying only humanely-raised meat
42. take a dance class with Paul
43. organize Mom’s kitchen for her
44. hire a housekeeper once and take notes on how he/she cleans
45. visit a winery with Paul
46. try cross-country skiing
47. go sledding or tubing with the kids
48. read 1000 books to my children (0/1000)
49. attend college reunion
50. visit Philadelphia
51. visit New Orleans
52. go to the beach at least 9 times in the summertime (0/9)
53. go to the beach once in the winter
54. walk the full length of the East Race
55. ban the TV and internet from the house for a week
56. take a meal to someone who’s just added a child to their family
57. frame and hang photographs of Atticus and Norah
58. update the photo albums (both real and online) at least once a month (0/36)
59. follow the diet recommended by my doctor for three full months and see if it makes a difference
60. take a painting class
61. go hiking with the kids
62. take a swimming class with the kids
63. visit the zoo once the kids are interested in animals
64. try making our own Ethiopian food
65. teach Norah and Atticus the alphabet
66. teach them how to count to 20
67. teach them their colors
68. have brother-in-law, sister-in-law and family over for dinner
Financial Security
69. save 6 months salary in emergency fund
70. write wills
71. increase life insurance
72. meet with a financial planner
73. pay off Corolla
74. continue putting monthly payment for Corolla aside for next car
75. hold a garage sale
76. get a safe-deposit box and put essential documents in it
Good Citizenship
77. write a letter to the newspaper about something that I feel strongly about
78. Do a buy-nothing month
79. make baked goods for neighbors
80. divide perennials and give away extras to neighbors
81. attend a neighborhood association meeting
82. start a compost pile
83. bag our own soil at the recycling center
84. get mulch from recycling center
85. write a letter to the newspaper about something that I feel strongly about
86. sell something on eBay
87. create a custom masthead for my blog
88. learn how to edit YouTube videos complete with music
Professional Development
89. update my resume
90. write a chapter of my own book to see if I like writing
91. find a new job
92. finish filling out paperwork necessary for ENL certification
93. update teaching license
94. make pillows for couch
95. post to blog at least twice a week (1/150)
Difficult to Quantify, But Still Important
96. Remember how luxurious our house felt after Ethiopia – feel grateful
97. remember how blessed we are to have Atticus and Norah in our family – feel grateful
98. Let Paul know how grateful I am to be sharing life with him 99. express gratitude to family and friends
100. resist the “I-Wants” and remember that we don’t need a nicer house, furniture, car, vacations, clothes, neighborhood...feel grateful for what we have
101. take care of and pride in our belongings – keep the cars and house neat and well-maintained so we can get maximum enjoyment out of them

To keep myself honest, I'm going to put this list on the sidebar of the blog and change things that have been accomplished to another color.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Google Server Error? What?

Blogger hasn't been allowing me to download photos and I'm getting very frustrated! Somehow this one photograph of bathtime made it through but nothing else will. Grr...

We had a lovely weekend. Several friends stopped by on Saturday to meet Atticus and Norah and it felt like we had some semblance of a social life again. We moved the kids into their own bedroom and their own separate cribs and they handled the transition beautifully. I woke up the first morning to hear them chatting across the room. Norah was babbling "ma-ma-ma-ma-ma" and Atticus would reply "da-da-da-da-da". I think they were discussing us!

On Thursday night Paul was making Atticus do back flips. Atticus loved it. The next morning, he had a bad diaper. When I lifted his legs up to wipe his back I was quite astonished when he did a back flip right there on the changing table! It did nothing to help the diaper situation, but it was a pretty good trick.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Play Date

Christina and Aiden came to play with us today! He is just as cute in real life as he appeared and we had a wonderful time meeting him! I think Atticus and Norah were relieved, however, that his visit did not signify the arrival of a new sibling. You can see Norah's reaction to some of her brother's attention (and eventual refusal to let her gnaw on his foot) in the pictures below.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Getting Out of the House

Walking out the door with two babies is a lot more complicated than going by yourself! Between making sure they're fed, diapered, and clothed neatly, and then checking to make sure the diaper bag is prepared and I can transport them easily once we reach our destination... I'm beginning to learn to start getting ready at least 45 minutes before we need to leave. I can't carry them both at once for any significant length of time and putting both in slings doesn't work well either since they're both relatively large. Still, I really, really want to get the out of the house. It's more interesting for them and helps me to keep from feeling cooped up.

Our double jogger stroller works beautifully on the sidewalks even with a little snow. It fits through standard doorways (barely). It's a pain to transport, but it worked fine yesterday at the library and today at the doctor's office. Today we visited my school and met my students. I held Atticus (he has some stranger anxiety these days) and various coworkers carried Norah around for me. She bounced her legs the entire time and was quite content to be passed from person to person and dance along with the Mexican music playing in the office.

Today's multi-media presentation is Atticus-centric and features his growing mastery of the raspberry. Also, please note that the dog's dish did have water in it before somebody figured out how to cross into the kitchen this afternoon.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

One Month

One month ago today we met Norah and Atticus for the first time. It doesn't feel like a month has passed, but at the same time it's difficult to remember a time when they weren't at home with us. Everything other adoptive parents said about forgetting the agonizing process is completely true. These children were so worth the wait.
Paul discovered that saying the word beep to Norah makes her grin like a toothless maniac. Atticus has figured out the joy of blowing raspberries with a mouth full of formula. I know I should discourage this but it makes me laugh every time he does it.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Cold, Wet Babies

This morning when I woke up the temperature was 53 degrees. After weeks of wanting to throw rocks at the TV every time I watched the forecast, it was finally warm but they're predicting the temperature will fall and we'll have snow this afternoon. I vowed I would take the kids out for a walk as soon as they'd both had their bottles.

By the time they were loaded into their stroller it was drizzling ever so slightly. It didn't seem too bad though, so we set off with Stella leading the way. To make a long story short, we were a mile from home when it started pouring. They were okay - we have a hood on our stroller and Atticus was laughing like crazy. By the time we got home though, I had two cold, wet babies, a cold, wet dog, and was a cold, wet mama. I rushed them up for a warm bath (the first time I've ever bathed both at once) and everyone was happy. After their bath I opened the door to find that Stella had discovered Norah's dirty diaper and shredded it before finding a warm place on the couch in which to settle down. Meanwhile, both kids were hungry, angry about being removed from the bathtub, and screaming.
It's been quite a day and it's not even noon.
Atticus has learned to click his tongue at will. Last night when we put him in his crib the first thing he did was to roll over, peer into Norah's sleeping face, and click away. Please note Norah's smile in the photograph above. She smiles a lot but has gotten distracted by the camera whenever we've tried to take a picture in the past. The picture above is the result of a lot of joint effort between her parents!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Pictures for Grammy

My mom has gone out of town for the week to visit my grandparents and made me promise I'd post daily pictures of the kids while she's gone. Here you go mom. We'll miss you this week!

Guess who slept from 10 pm until 8 am? My son! He stayed up extra late last night playing with us. He's such a delightful baby. He was having a wonderful time bouncing on his Papa's lap and exploring his belly button. Watching how happy Paul is when he's with our kids is one of the most wonderful parts of parenthood.

Norah managed to further wrap her grandpa around her finger last night. Our little chow hound was eating when my dad came to visit but as soon as she saw her Grandpa Terry she started refusing to eat and demanding to be picked up by him. She loves his beard and the generous belly that makes napping so easy.

We celebrated my mother-in-law's birthday yesterday and Norah and Atticus got to meet their aunt, uncle, and three cousins. Our five-year-old niece and three-year-old nephew have evidently been taking pictures of our kids into school for show-and-tell and playing "Paul and Betsy" by lugging their baby dolls around the house. I hope the actual meeting didn't disappoint! Family gatherings will now reach a whole new level of joyful chaos! Happy birthday Barb!