Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Family Day?

Our Family Day is quickly approaching (February 4) and we're looking for ideas for celebrating. If you're an adoptive family, what do you do to celebrate the anniversaries of the days you met your kids? Ours falls on a Wednesday this year and we've considered taking personal days to hang out with the kids and do something fun. Truth be told though, it's really, really cold here and I'd sort of prefer to save the personal day for a spring day when we can go on a hike or to the beach. Is that terrible? This comes from the mom who didn't feel at all bad about pushing Norah's first birthday party back a week and a half so all her grandparents could attend, yet I feel the urge to make our first Family Day special.

In other news: Norah bounced right off the bed tonight during story time. One second she was sitting in the middle of the queen-sized mattress bouncing along to the story, the next she bounced so high that she landed on her bottom on the floor. I can't quite figure out how that happened. She was a little upset and her brother came over and gave her a huge kiss on the forehead without any prompting. So cute!

I started putting Atticus's hair into dreadlocks tonight. I managed to do about eight of them before he lost patience. If this endeavor is a success, I will post pictures. Meanwhile, at the rate we're going, he's going to be walking around town with a very interesting hairdo the next few days!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Moment of the Day...

Obama's swearing in and speech fell during my lunch hour and I'd told my students they could come watch them in my room if they wanted someplace quieter than the cafeteria. I looked up during the speech to see three of my teenage boys with tears running down their cheeks. Sniffle, sniffle, sniffle. Why don't I ever remember to stock Kleenex in my classroom?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Cloth Diaper Experiment

My snow day combined with today's holiday meant that I had a nice long weekend at home with the kids. I always like to have a little challenge when Paul's away working, so I thought it might be time to give cloth diapers a try again. Before the kids came home, we decided we were going to be all about saving the environment and cloth diapering our kids. That lasted approximately two diaper changes. According to several sources I've since read, including Ask Umbra, it's actually a toss-up as to whether cloth diapers or disposables are worse for the environment. Still, we invested a fair amount of money in our cloth diaper stash and I decided we should either try using them again or sell them. (I should note, however, that we got a TON of use out of our pre-fold diapers by using them as spit-up rags when Norah was still suffering from reflux. For that alone, they were worth the cost to me.)

Anyway, my tolerance for grossness has increased immeasurably in the last year and we're also not overwhelmed by new parenthood anymore. The cloth diapers worked fine and we're going to continue to use them when the kids are at home. In case anyone is interested, we use traditional cotton pre-fold diapers inside Bummis Whisper Wraps. They didn't leak all weekend, washed and dried easily, and the kids seem comfortable.

In other news, we played with dried beans and rice for the first time today. Atticus and Norah loved it, but had even more fun "helping" me clean up. They pushed the Swiffer around for a good 45 minutes. Finally, Norah put on my scarf and shoes. I think she was pretending to be me, because then she came over to me and gave me a very mommy-like kiss on the forehead. Is that what I look like every day when I kiss her goodbye? If only I were that cute!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Snow Days

They never get tired of this. I didn't expect living on a busy street to have such perks!

Atticus nurturing his baby...and then stepping on her face to get her to sneeze
It's been way too cold to take the kids out in the snow, so the snow came in to them.
It's been bitterly cold here this week. Tomorrow they're predicting the windchill will hit -30 degrees, so school is canceled. I guess we'll just have to stay inside and drink some hot chocolate!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cute Things

Some things are kids are doing or have done that I don't want to forget:
  • One morning recently, Atticus woke up and was happily calling out, "Mama! Mama!" When I stuck my head in his room, he began to blow kisses at me.
  • This weekend he began to parrot "love you."
  • The first thing he does in the morning is enquire about his other family members. "Rah-Rah? Bapa?" He wants to be told where they are and he loves going into the other bedrooms to wake them up.
  • Norah has started calling her brother "Ahdy!" We think it sounds very Ethiopian.
  • Yesterday morning, Paul brought Norah into our bedroom to wake me up and she yelled, "Mommy!" There's no better way to wake up.
  • We tried out bubble bath when the kids first came home, but Norah was terrified of it and didn't stop crying until we'd removed all the bubbles from the bathtub. Yesterday I bought some Mr. Bubbles at the store and when Norah saw the tub full of fluffy white stuff she exclaimed, "Oh! Snow!"
  • She makes a beeline for any snow we track in and shoves it in her mouth. There's no need to comment on how filthy it is - we are trying to stop her.
  • Atticus runs to the window now whenever he hears a fire truck passing by. All vehicles are "truck-trucks" except for choo-choos with which he is obsessed.
  • We (finally) hung new curtains in the living room last night. When Atticus saw them he started yelling for Norah to come look. The kids are transfixed by the translucent panels in the middle of our big picture window. I think I'm going to be very glad I only paid $10 for them, because I predict they're going to undergo a lot of trauma.
  • Norah likes to pretend she's cold and say, "Col..." while hugging herself and shaking.
  • One of our books features a gorilla that kicks and the kids now love to kick their legs and yell, "Heeya!"
  • They share their food. Atticus gets the upper-hand in their "trades". He'll finish half his bottle and then walk over to Norah who still has a nearly full one. He then hands her his bottle and takes hers. Ditto with crackers - he'll take a bite of his own and then trade her. At meals they share food across their highchairs. It's really, really cute. If Atticus notices that Norah doesn't have any banana left, he'll hand her some of his and vice versa. If the chairs are too far apart, however, they throw their food at each other. That was a lesson learned.
  • Yesterday when Atticus saw my grandma walk out of the house towards our car he began to yell, "GiGi! GiGi!" Of course, he wouldn't repeat it for her when she actually reached the car.
  • Norah doesn't throw many temper tantrums, but one thing that sets her off is being told she can't go down the stairs yet (she has to wait until I'm ready to help her down). She gets so mad. She is really, really determined when she decides she wants to do something. It's a quality I admire.
  • While shopping with my mom yesterday, Atticus started calling out, "Bubbles! Bubbles!" Sure enough, when my mom looked around she saw a picture of a bubble bath on the wall.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I've tried several times to upload this video of the kids dancing. They love to boogie and they like watching us dance too. These days, the shades of our big picture window are usually open because the kids like to watch the traffic. As a result, I often wonder what passersby must think when they see me and Paul jumping around like cranes and spinning in circles. The kids are too short to be visible, so it must look like we spend our days running around like lunatics.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I generally feel fairly confident in my parenting abilities; I don't think I'm a perfect mom by any means, but I do think that Paul and I are doing a reasonably good job most of the time. Objectively, this means that our kids are healthy and generally happy. They're learning how to say "please" and being taught how to behave in public. Nobody runs around the house naked or hungry for any extended period of time.

The one big thing that can reduce me to a puddle of doubt and paranoia, however, is hair. Maybe it's silly, but I live in fear that strangers will judge my parenting abilities by the appearance of Atticus and Norah's hair. I wouldn't blog about this, except that it seems like a lot of adoptive parents have these same concerns. If you're a white parent who is raising black children, haircare is one of the few areas in which you really can't rely on your own experience and the parenting skills that were passed down from your own parents. When it comes to tantrums or nutrition, we have plenty of resources and memories of our own to refer to. Haircare, on the other hand, is a brand new animal.

Whenever I drive by a mother walking with a toddler daughter who has gorgeous cornrows or beaded hair, I have to fight the urge to pull over the car and demand to know how she got her child to sit still long enough to accomplish the style. Seriously, I would gladly spend time plaiting Norah's hair, but even getting it into three or four poufs is a monumental challenge. Our little ball of sunshine and smiles turns into a teary, sobbing, snot-covered tornado the second we take a comb to her hair. She screams. She cries. She thrashes her head from side to side and tries to run away. She's been known to bite. And those people on my adoptive haircare board who claim their daughters keep the same hairstyle in for weeks at a time? Obviously their kids aren't spending much time doing somersaults, napping with their hands in their hair, or dumping yogurt and cottage cheese over their heads.

I have pictures of the kids on my screen saver at work and my students love to look and comment. When some of them started to tell me I should bring Norah in for homeroom and let them do her hair because they could make it look so much prettier...well, the insecurity reared its ugly head. I made a panicked phone call to our friend Leia begging her to come over to evaluate my skills.

Leia and her husband and three kids came over for a play date yesterday. Most importantly, we had a great time and it was fantastic to see them again (it's crazy how long you can go without connecting with someone once you and your friends have kids - their kids have all grown about a foot since the last time I saw them). Secondly, she said Atticus and Norah's hair looks fine. She showed me again how to do twists and cornrows (using her daughter as our guinea pig) but said it was crazy to expect a little girl Norah's age to sit still for that long - as long as we're keeping her hair healthy and scalp moisturized we're fine. Eventually, she promises that Norah will become vain enough to sit still for more elaborate styles. She also let me test the Dark and Lovely products she uses on her own kids and suggested using a slightly heavier moisturizer on Atticus since his hair is coarser than Norah's. In addition, she recommended trying a wide paddle brush instead of the wide-toothed comb we've been using. Thank you, thank you, thank you Leia!

P.S. Since bringing the kids home, I've largely gotten over my fear of asking other people about their hair. I used to feel really uncomfortable about it, but I've always gotten good responses when I compliment someone on her hair and ask how she does it. My teenage students can be particular wellsprings of information about hair and skincare (even though they sometimes make me feel inadequate). They LOVE talking about hairstyles. Did you know that doing extensions can take up to 14 hours? I had no idea. One of the best tips they've passed along is to use Vaseline instead of Aquaphor to moisturize skin. I've found that it's just as good and about a tenth of the price of Aquaphor.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Future Restaurant Critics?

I thought the kids were "throwing" food this summer when they dropped things they didn't want onto the floor. I was so deluded.

These days they're throwing food in earnest. The projectile radius keeps getting bigger and bigger. Lesson learned: Don't turn your back on Atticus when he has a bowl of baked beans.

The most frustrating part of this is that their opinions vary from day to day. One day Norah will gobble down sweet potato like it's going out of style. The next, she'll scream, "NO!!!!" and sweep it off her tray as though she's truly offended that we even tried to give it to her. Even their beloved cottage cheese doesn't make the grade some days. (Happily there are a few fall-back items that never seem to fail, namely pineapple, yogurt, and avocado. The only catch is that we must have plenty of these on hand if we offer them. Atticus threw a mother of a tantrum last night when we ran out of pineapple.) Atticus begged for a cup of milk tonight and then entertained himself and Norah by taking large sips and spraying it out of his mouth. Mama was only a little amused.

According to the toddler books we've read and our friends with kids, this behavior seems to be normal for babies their age. Generally, we take away their food trays as soon as the throwing begins. The catch, however, is that if they haven't eaten enough they wake up at night. What to do? This will pass, right? In the meantime, we feel like we should contact Gordon Ramsay to see if he needs any cute kids to help him make rude comments about food and others' cooking skills.

In other news, our social worker came for our last post-placement visit this afternoon. She arrived. The kiddos acted happy and well-adjusted. She left. It was totally unremarkable aside from the fact that it signifies the kids have been home nearly a year. Crazy.

I keep thinking of things I should write about: the true joy of having toddlers (Really, they're so much fun!), tantrums, lessons I've learned from my students about the shifting concept of race in this country, hair (!)... One of these days I'll get around to those posts!