Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I received another one of those "Barack Hussein Obama" forwards in my e-mail yesterday. You know the ones that talk about how he is a closet Muslim and atheist simultaneously? Political opinions and actual fact aside, it chills me that accusing someone of being Muslim is seen as an appropriate and allowable character attack in this country. Bigoted much? As the parent of two black children with "foreign" sounding middle names, it irritates me all the more. I'm sure most people who pass along these e-mails do so without thinking or possibly even without reading through the entire message and I've been trying to think of a way to post about this diplomatically or to ignore the whole thing altogether. I did ignore that same e-mail the first few times it was forwarded to me. I also ignored the forward about how Mexican immigrants are trying to replace good old American values and take over the United States even though the person who forwarded it to me knew that I teach in a school composed primarily of Latino students and should have thought about the fact that I probably wouldn't appreciate getting a xenophobic e-mail like that. Tell me readers, what would you do?

In family news, the kids spent their first morning in their Grandma Bebe's daycare while I had some dental work done. I think they really enjoyed it! When I came to pick them up, Atticus spotted me across the room, gave a huge grin, and started speed-crawling toward me. Norah has begun to giggle a lot and smile to show her pretty new teeth. These two children totally have me wrapped around their little fingers.

Public Service Announcement of the Day: I read this blog regularly. It is written by the mother of many children, two of whom were adopted from Ethiopia and are HIV positive. Erin has asked readers to pass along the following facts:

- HIV can NOT be spread through casual/household contact. HIV is not spread through hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toys, sneezing, coughing, sharing food, sharing drinks, bathing, swimming or any other casual way. It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles).
- HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long and full lives.
- People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support and acceptance as all people do.
If anyone wants more info on transmission, there is great info on the Center for Disease Control website at

P.S. We took Atticus to the doctor today to make sure he didn't have some sort of illness that was responsible for his night wakeups. No such luck. He was pronounced healthy as a horse. I'm very grateful for that, but wouldn't it have been nice if his insomnia could have been cured by a nice round of amoxicillian?

Monday, April 28, 2008

One-Year-Olds Sleep Through the Night, Right?

We had a busy weekend going to the park and celebrating Atticus's birthday. He seemed to enjoy the green-colored cheesecake I made (his first taste of sugar) and both kids seem excited about the swing he got.

In the bathtub at night, Atticus has been standing up and then taking his hands off the side of the tub. I think our little daredevil may be walking unassisted soon.

Norah has been moving a ton this week. She doesn't have any control over where she goes (and mainly scoots backwards), but she sometimes travels the entire distance of the room. Have I mentioned that she has gotten very, very vocal? Any worries I had that she wouldn't ever stand up for herself have disappeared. She is letting her opinions be known!
In the interest of full disclosure, and at the risk of sounding like an ungrateful jerk, I have to admit that parenthood is kicking us in the rear this week. Atticus is such a happy delightful baby during the day and then when he has really bad nights, like the past few... it's just not good. This morning, after last night's screamfest from 1-4 a.m., I had a heart-to-heart with him and told him that one-year-olds don't do this. They need to sleep through the night so they have energy to walk and play during the day. We'll see if this pep-talk has any effect.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Seriously, I'm Such a Bad Camerawoman

I won't be winning any cinematography awards, that's for sure. About 50 seconds into the video I did remember to turn the camera around though so that the video is right-side-up.

When we returned from New York, Paul met us with a swollen looking cheek. He said it seemed to be a gland and didn't really hurt. I finally convinced him on Wednesday to let me schedule a doctor's appointment for today. By then, I'd googled the symptoms and was of course convinced it was a tumor. Google can turn even normal people into hypochondriacs. The doctor's verdict: He has an ear infection that has caused his entire cheek to swell up. It looks like he has the mumps. Hopefully the antibiotics will cure him quickly! I feel like someone in our family has been sick at almost any given point over the past two and a half months. I guess that's what adding new family members, traveling and sleep deprivation will conspire to make happen. I hope we're just about through with the worst of it though.

Below, you can glimpse the most precious real estate in our household these days: my lap.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Atticus Has a Birthday!

Today is my little boy's first birthday. We are so lucky to have him in our lives and think he's one of the most delightful kids ever. Paul and I are now one of those boring couples who spend our evenings sitting on the couch talking about how funny our babies are. These are some things Atticus does that bring us joy:
  • You know how baby monkeys grab ahold of their mothers so tightly that they stay attached even as their moms are swinging through the trees? That's our Atticus. He has one of the tightest hugs ever and he spends a lot of time asking to be picked up.
  • His laugh. This child's giggle makes the whole family laugh along with him.
  • He loves to blow bubbles in the tub. Every night we take off his diaper and then watch him speed-crawl naked down the hall and into the bathroom so he can get to the tub. It's so cute!
  • These days he's getting really into feeding us his food, but sometimes he offers up a bite of something and then snatches it into his own mouth and giggles.
  • Yesterday Norah really wanted to play with some magazine inserts that were on the floor. Atticus kept bringing them over to her and then pulling them away as she reached for them - while laughing of course.
  • He's afraid of crawling in the grass and when set on the lawn he pulls his feet into a yoga position and holds his hands above his waist.
  • He adores doing gymnastics with Paul flipping and climbing.
  • He's beginning to walk around the coffee table and can push his highchair across the kitchen while toddling behind it.
  • Electronics fascinate him. Remote controls, the television, the computer, cords...those are his favorite.

I guess it's impossible to put into words what makes your child so special, but suffice it to say we think we were privileged to adopt two of the very, very best. I wish we could communicate to his birth family how much we love him and how fortunate we feel to have him in our lives. I hope they know that at some deep level.

We'll be having a little birthday party this weekend for Atticus and I'm planning to make his first cake. He's too little to understand birthdays, so I don't think delaying the celebration will matter to him. I don't feel quite ready for him to be a toddler yet - afterall he just got home and he's still my baby. It seems as though both kids just get more fun with each passing day though, so I'm sure I'll love this next stage too.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pictures from My Uncle

The kids were exhausted today. I woke them up after they'd napped for three hours and then Norah was falling asleep in her highchair tonight. I guess traveling affected them more than I'd thought! My uncle took the pictures above at my grandparents' house over the weekend.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Grandpa!

We're home! Introducing Atticus and Norah to their extended family was wonderful. We're so lucky to have so many people who love us and them. They had a very busy weekend and met their great-grandparents along with a dozen other family members and had their very first swim in the hotel pool. They handled the disruption of their routine beautifully and were pretty good about meeting all the new people. I was a very bad photographer and took almost no pictures, but I know my mom and uncle took many, so hopefully they will e-mail me those pictures to post later.

Tonight, however, there are no pictures and I'm off to sit quietly with Paul enjoying a gin and tonic. A weekend getaway with two infants is far more exhausting than traveling by myself!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Baby Dance-Off

One of the best things about having two babies is that we can compete with them! Most evenings Paul and I have a Baby Dance-Off where we each take a baby and "help" them dance. Whomever Paul has usually wins because he comes up with more creative moves like Baby Lawnmower. The weather here was fabulous yesterday so we had our dance-off outside and then came indoors for some baby trapeze artistry. The kids enjoy it, but I'm pretty sure we like it even more.
Apparently, we had an earthquake around here this morning. Our family slept through it.
Does anyone have any tips for keeping Atticus from chewing on electrical cords? They're one of his favorite things and keeping them out of his mouth is taking up large portions of my day. We've eliminated any unnecessary ones, but we'd like to have some light in our house. I've sprayed them with apple bitter (the type you use to dissuade dogs) but it didn't have an effect.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

She Has Teeth!

Just when I was beginning to research infant dentures, Norah cut her first two teeth yesterday. What a smart baby!

On Monday I came down with the virus Paul had last week. I think I was pretty patient while he was sick, but I should have been even more sympathetic and helpful. Yuck. Happily, I think I'm just about over it and should be in good shape for our trip this weekend.

On Saturday the kids and I are flying with my mom to visit my grandparents. In my head, I envision any traveling with the kids as being much like the 47 hour trip home from Ethiopia. I need to keep reminding myself that these flights won't be nearly as bad. Aside from dreading the travel aspect, I'm very excited about introducing Norah and Atticus to more family members. They've both been extremely shy around strangers lately (an excellent sign that they're attaching to us!), so I hope they cooperate and show off how sweet they are!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Photo Shoot

Here is the video Paul shot while he was supposed to be taking pictures yesterday. Key elements that you won't want to miss include our self-written "Ni-ni-ni-ni-ni-ni-ni Norah" song, Atticus pawing her on her face, and me looking into the camera assuming my picture is being taken.

Friday, April 11, 2008


After several days of being ready to chop off my own hair I finally made a hair appointment for this morning. My parents stayed with the kids and I got to go ALL BY MYSELF! Unbeknownst to me, Paul filmed our little photo shoot in which we were trying to get both of the kids to look at the camera. I will have to post that soon because it's pretty funny.
Norah is starting to get extremely vocal and I think she might end up talking before Atticus. The girl has volume in her favor, that's for sure. For his part, Atticus is making huge strides in mobility and learned this week how to wave bye-bye and cover his own face for peek-a-boo. We really don't need to keep toys around for him since all he wants to do is pull himself up on things with occasional breaks to glance at his own gorgeous face in the dishwasher or oven doors. They're both hilarious and we're loving parenthood.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Three Minutes of My Life

I've had some requests for more video of our household stars. Finding a camera-worthy minute when I actually have the camera isn't all that easy, however, so here's a little clip of playtime at our house. As a side-note, I definitely have "mom voice" - which is fine when I'm talking to my kids, but concerns me a little since I caught myself last week talking to the trashcan as I was taking out the garbage. "Brrr!!! It sure is cold out here! I should be wearing a coat! Spring will be here soon!" I'm sure I looked like a maniac to the neighbors and I found it worrisome that the instinct to narrate life continued even when I wasn't with my kids. My middle school students will have a field day with it when I return to school and address them as though they're non-verbal infants.

P.S. The last couple of nights have been night-terror free with only simple wakeups for bottles followed by calm returns to sleep. I don't want to write that too big though, just in case it would contribute to jinxing the situation.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


After checking some books out from the library about sleeping and finding advice that ranged from cosleeping to letting Atticus cry it out, I called our adoption agency. One of the wonderful social workers who has adopted three children of his own talked me through everything and said that getting up with Atticus and rocking him is absolutely the right thing to be doing right now.

Conventional wisdom would say that an 11 month-old should be able to soothe himself back to sleep. If he'd been in our home since birth I would probably be advocating to let Atticus cry it out at night. The social worker reassured me though that these midnight cries are probably a way of testing his security here in his new home. He's been through so many changes and he needs to know that we're going to comfort him. In addition, he allayed my fears that we'll spoil Atticus by going to him or create a monster that never, ever sleeps. Deep down, this feels like the right advice to me. I really, really wanted someone to tell us what to do and I finally got that!
Of course, the bad news here is that Paul and I need to keep getting up at night!

In other good news, Norah just rolled over from front-to-back and back-to-front while I was watching her! Right in a row! Progress on rolling over has been slow, so I'm delighted to see her making some strides. She looked really proud of herself!

I Am Not a Good Samaritan

Yesterday I had just put the kids down for their nap when I heard a thunk outside the house. I looked out the front window and saw a man sitting on our front curb rocking back and forth and acting disoriented. It occurred to me to open the door and ask him if he needed help, but I was too scared considering that he'd just apparently thrown something at our house. Instead, I called the police dispatcher and reported what had happened. I said I was concerned that the man might need help and would like someone to drive by and check to make sure he was okay. After finishing the phone call, I looked out and saw him limping down the street, so I opened up the front door. The object he'd thrown? A newspaper. That's right. I called the police because the paperman threw a paper at our house. Whoops. I bet the police officer told that story down at the station.
One reason that I may be a little less rational than usual is that we're having some major sleep drama at our house these days. For the past week or so, Atticus has woken up every night and screamed from about midnight until 4 a.m. He calms down when we rock him, but the minute we put him back in the crib (even if he's asleep) he begins to howl again as though scared for his life. He's very happy and well-adjusted during the day and goes down for naps and at bedtime without a fuss, so we're really confused about why this is happening. In the light of day I can understand that this is probably just a phase and he simply needs some extra reassurance right now. In the middle of the night, however, it's so disheartening and frustrating. It's just awful.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Paul has had some sort of plague this week that left him feeling awful until today. By yesterday morning, after several days of caring for the kids by myself a lot more than I'm used to, I was reading to run for the door screaming (preferably to the nearest airport or bar, or an airport bar - I wasn't feeling picky). Thankfully the weather this weekend was beautiful and provided the kids and I a great chance to play with our new dirt.

I filled in my new herb garden and moved several wheelbarrows full of soil without tipping more than once. Today the kids and I planted some gladiolas. Atticus tried to eat a worm. At one point, I looked over and Norah had fallen over from her sitting position and was happily scooping up dirt and trying to dump it in her mouth.

I love this last picture because it looks as though Atticus has a secret bottle that he's trying to hide from his sister. It was actually Norah's bottle. These days their age difference is really apparent because he's so much more mobile than she is. He loves to take the toys she's playing with and then try to "give them back" by whomping her over the head with them. It's all perfectly innocent and normal, but I'm eager for her to be able to stand up to him. A girl shouldn't let her big brother push her around!

Friday, April 4, 2008

No News Is Good News

One of the best ways to get our kids to nap is by popping them in one of the Ergo carriers and walking around. Of course, this is the absolute last thing I feel like doing when I'm really, really ready for them to take a nap, but it does motivate me to get some chores done. Neither kidlet will tolerate me sitting when they're in the Ergo, so I often end up vacuuming, working on my garden, or doing the dishes or laundry as they fall asleep. Once the child is asleep, it's easy to slip off the baby carrier. You can see Norah's reaction in the picture below.

This week hasn't been terribly remarkable. Paul has had an awful cold that I'm hoping the kids won't catch. We took a few steps backward in terms of sleep and had a couple of really bad nights. Atticus is exploring constantly. This week he has mastered pulling up on any available object and he can now seek out the poor dog when she tries to take refuge on the couch or up on a chair.

We had 600 square feet of soil delivered today for a gardening project. I requested it for my anniversary present this year. As soon as it resembles anything other than a big pile of dirt, I will post pictures!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Paul and I alternate nights to get up with the kids. This works well and seems to help prevent us from feeling exhausted all the time. In addition, they're both sleeping better these days than they were the first couple of weeks they were home. I have a complaint though: Friday was Paul's night and both kids slept through the night (hooray!). Saturday night they got me up seven times. Sunday night they slept through the night. Last night (my night again) they woke up twice. Is this a form of parental favoritism? It's no fair that they're giving their dad an easier time of things!
The second picture is from this afternoon after our walk. I was worried they would broil, but they slept for an hour in our hall all bundled up in the stroller.