Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The next time I think our house would be cleaner if I stayed home full-time, would someone please slap me on the back of the head? Being on vacation is wonderful, but having two toddlers around means it's not anymore feasible to fold laundry, unload the dishwasher or complete household tasks than it is when I'm at work. I need to remember that and let myself off the hook a little.

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Too Relaxed to Compose

Paul and I are both on vacation and it's wonderful. It's been bitterly cold here for the last four days, so we've spent a lot of time lazing around the house with the kids.
Here are some things the kids have been up to recently:
  • 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


On weekend evenings Paul and I often let the kids watch a Baby Einstein sign language DVD while we prepare dinner. We worry about them being underfoot in the kitchen and the hour before dinner is often a rather grumpy time for them. (Can you tell I feel some guilt admitting that we let our kids watch TV?)

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

Transracial Adoption

Paul and I spent some time last night listening to NPR archives about transracial adoption. Three that we found most interesting were Growing Up Black in a White Family, When Mom Doesn't Look Like the Kids, and Black Family, White Child: Another View of Transracial Adoption.

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

The Word of the Day

Snow! Both kids learned how to say it and identify it this weekend. They spent hours watching it fall on Saturday.

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

Siblings' First Hug

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

Norah Goes Solo

Paul and Norah had some one-on-one time over the weekend while Atticus and I napped. He's been going down at bedtime like a champ; we tuck him in, hand him his Dino and bottle, and the kiddo falls asleep right away. At naptime, however, he will occasionally jump in his crib and fuss. Often, if we pull him into our bed to nap with one of us, he's asleep before we count to one hundred. Anyway, father and daughter spent some quality time playing downstairs and Paul was able to get some good videos of her in action. These days she loves to play with hats and bounce on top of the yoga ball.
I loved the time when our kids were still babies, but I'm finding toddlerhood to be so much fun. Atticus has been inventing all sorts of little games recently. A new favorite is asking to be shut in a closet and then popping out and yelling, "Boo!" Norah is highly amused by this and Paul and I find it hilarious for the first ten minutes or so each time we play (the kids could do this for hours). After bathtime the other night, Atticus came up with a new game where he would hand Paul the bath towel, then squat down and yell "Go!" until the towel was tossed over his head. He has also begun to love putting their toys away. After cleanup last night, he found one wayward truck, opened up the toy chest and put it away without any prompting. It won't be long now before we can teach him to fold and put away the laundry! (A mom can dream, right?)