Sunday, April 24, 2011

Atticus Is Four!

Happy birthday Atticus! We love you! Today's birthday post was authored by Paul:

Things of note:
Atticus loves jokes. He loves inserting "broccoli stew" or "poopoo" into the answer to questions as a punch line. He is an expert at pratfalls.

When you tell Atticus that you are hungry he always suggest broccoli and soup. Occasionally he will suggest eggs as well.

Atticus favorite words this week are "rats!" and "oh man!"

Atticus' stuffed bear ate exclusively cake (10 cakes - 1 for each claw on the front paws) until recently when his bear decided that cake is a sometimes food and now eats mostly vegetables.

He can throw a heck of a tantrum. That passion will drive achievement.

Atticus now pretty much totally explores a new environment on his own. He hiked up a dune twice (and down to the shoreline) with me jogging after him.

Apparently Atticus is pretty quiet at school, but he has made many friends. He greets them with side hugs.

Atticus will still retrieve his sister's Dora upon request.

Default games outside involve chasing his sister, digging, taking toys from his sister, swinging, pushing trucks, and mowing the lawn.

Unprompted, Atticus says that he will be very busy building schools when he is older, but he will still visit Norah.

His "love light" smells like cake.

He is not a cookie because he has hands and cookies do not have hands. (Usually this is his defense against Papa eating him because Papa gets hungry for cookies.)

He loves swinging super high - basically hitting 3 and 9 on a clock. It is unknown how long he will swing - as long as someone is pushing him that high. It makes Mama nervous.

Atticus fears ghosts.

Atticus taunts his sister by repeatedly asking how old he is (4) and then asking how old Norah is (3). He makes similar comparisons of superiority via incessant questioning any time he has something his sister does not.

Atticus can swim the length of the pool without a bubble.

We are very proud of our little boy and feel lucky to have him in our lives! We love you Atticus.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

An Arbor Day Analogy

Amy from Ohio wrote the following comment about this New York Times Motherlode blog post about an economist who claims that parents' choices make very little impact on their children and they should therefore just relax, enjoy the ride, and feel free to have more children. I thought Amy's comment was such a beautiful sentiment that I just had to share it. If Amy from Ohio was just copying someone else, please pass along the reference to me. I'd like to give credit where it's due.

To me, becoming a parent is like getting an unlabelled tree seedling from the Arbor Day foundation.

A parent must find the right amount of water, sunlight, and fertilizer that will help the seedling grow. They need protection from deer, and other things that will mow them down before they can stand on their own. Some seedlings stand strong and firm from the beginning; others need extra support until their roots are deep enough to stand on their own. As they get bigger, some benefit from vigorous pruning; others don't need it at all. Parents have to figure out the right combination for their seedling.

It seems to me that the economist is addressing parents who are trying to turn a redbud seedling into an apple tree. If that's your goal, then no -- nothing you do is going to make a difference. But if your goal is to bring your redbud to full blossom, then where you plant it, how you feed it, and how you prune it will have a huge impact.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Adopted Children Are Doing Just Fine

I had to link to this post by Dawn on which discusses this meta-study of adopted children. The study compared the self-esteem levels of nearly 11,000 adoptees with those of 33,000 non-adopted people and found no difference between the two. Since self-esteem is a huge predictor of healthy personality development and achievement, this is a very reassuring thing to read.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cautionary Tales

The first time we adopted I was stunned by how often the following scenario unfolded: Me: We have exciting news. We're adopting! Other Person: My third cousin/friend-of-a-friend/eighth grade lab partner adopted. You wouldn't believe what a hard time they had! First, it took eight years and they lost a bunch of money. They had to travel to Farawayistan eighty-two times and it cost so much money. Their child was found in the trash/on the street/in the toilet. Boy, he/she sure is cute! S/he has so many Issues though - temper tantrums/radical attachment disorder/ADHD/being a complete asshole during adolescence. Can't you have kids of your own? Do you want to hear about the gynecological treatment/supplements/shots/hanging upside down/voodoo prayer ritual that got my other third cousin pregnant? Aren't you worried that you won't love your adopted baby? Why do you have to adopt foreign babies? Why can't you just adopt little white babies from here in the USA? It's super exciting that you're adopting though. Good luck! Seriously, you wouldn't believe how many times people said this crazy stuff to us. Would you launch into tales of pregnancies gone wrong if a friend announced that she was pregnant? No? Chances are good that you know some of those stories but wouldn't haul them out because you'd understand that the moment wasn't appropriate. You might roll your eyes at the acquaintance on Facebook who posts a picture of a positive pregnancy test and then starts talking about names before they've even heard a heartbeat, but you wouldn't comment that you yourself suffered multiple losses and then terrible morning sickness and hemorrhoids, but good luck! That would make you a jerk and even the most obtuse people seem to understand that. Venturing into the land of adoption isn't for the faint of heart. You don't have to poke around too many corners of the world wide web to find out that things can go wrong, parents can change their minds, programs can shut down, undergoing trauma will leave invisible scars on children...The list goes on and on. Any good adoption agency will not sugarcoat this. Odds are high that if someone is announcing adoption plans, he or she already knows more about it than you do as an outsider to the process. All of this is to say that I hope our family's experience during this adoption is never held up as a cautionary tale. Atticus and Norah's adoption was an unusually smooth process. It still managed to cause me plenty of angst and sleepless nights, but at the end of the day the paperwork went through without a hitch, the timeline unfolded as predicted, and we ended up with two fabulous kids who adjusted far more easily than we had a right to expect. Adding onto our family this time around has had a few more bumps so far and there promises to be more turbulence on the horizon as MOWA decides how to proceed with processing adoption cases. Even if the whole thing explodes in our faces and we end up losing fees and having our hearts broken, however, I cringe to think about our story being told to send potential adoptive parents running to the nearest fertility clinic. I reserve the right to rant and whine if we run into problems. Much crying will ensue and donations of red wine and crunchy potato chips will be accepted. The fact remains though that we signed up for this wild ride. Literally. Then we got it notarized in triplicate. I won't lie - sometimes this fact causes me to hyperventilate a little bit. That creeping worry that the weird guy at Sam's Club who chose to overshare his third cousin's adoption story might be proven right is overwhelming. I fear that if this journey ends in disappointment we'll be arming our own personal creepy Sam's Club storytellers and sending them out into the world to spread our cautionary tale one gory detail at a time. That's a lot of extra weight to carry on a road that is rocky and challenging to begin with. Please, if you're going to talk about our adoption experience, tell people this: The paperwork and waiting part sucked and I cried frequently. Sometimes the crying was rational; other times it wasn't. Lots of times I doubted the adoption was ever going to happen. Then we ended up sharing our lives with these two miracles. Sometimes they have issues, but they're so entwined with the types of challenges that all little kids have that it's nearly impossible to be certain which are presenting because of the circumstances leading to their adoptions and which are just personality quirks. Because of adoption we have a perfect little girl who sings when she's supposed to be sleeping and introduces herself to everyone she sees. We have a perfect little boy who hugs better than anyone and is already planning the best way to protect his new baby siblings during thunderstorms. We have tantrums over which clothes to wear, boogers and peanut butter smeared on the couch, and way too much dirt being tracked through the house. I've been turned into a mommy blogger who is usually satisfied with posting a few pictures of my kids along with cute stories about them. We don't get enough sleep and we sometimes can hardly think because of the noise... and then we put them to bed and talk some more about how cute they are and how much we love them. In short, it's exactly what we signed up for and it was totally worth the wait and fear. [ETA: I have no idea why this stupid post isn't reflecting my formatting. I promise I wrote using paragraphs. Darn it.]

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Cheering Squad

Paul very nicely brought Atticus and Norah out to cheer me on at the end of my 10k race today. They made crossing the finish line a lot of fun (even if they did immediately start begging to be carried).

I was bemoaning the state of our backyard yesterday - It's seen better days. Much better. Paul pointed out that we could have a very nice lawn if we just got rid of the dog and the kids. I'll keep that bit of perspective in mind when the grass seed I planted inevitably gets trampled or dug up before it has a chance to establish. We may not be mistaken for a golf course anytime soon, but I'd rather have the kids.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

We made it to spring! The day started off a little slow, but we ended up having one of those perfect afternoons with trips to the farmers market, the pool, the beach, and then a quick tour of Notre Dame while I was picking up my race packet for tomorrow's 10k. We wrapped it all up with tilapia and asparagus on the grill. Heaven.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring Break 2011

We visited the mall with my parents yesterday and Atticus was enthralled by this jumping activity. I couldn't let him ride by himself, of course, so I tried it out too. Despite momentary feelings of terror as I was being strapped in, it was really fun and Atticus beamed from ear to ear the entire time.
My parents have been taking classes at the Apple store, and the kids joined them to try out some of the games.

They also tried out the piano at Nommie and Grandpa Terry's house.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Waiting [Im]Patiently

Today we hit another month's anniversary of waiting for a referral. [Note: A Google search reveals that "month anniversary" doesn't exist since the root of anniversary refers to a year. People who make up the rules of such things suggest alternates such as lunaversary or mensiversary. Whatever. It's my blog and I think mensiversary is a horrible word.] Paul has a client who resides in the same state as our adoption agency and tonight the client called Paul's cellphone at TEN O'CLOCK and our hearts did a little pitter-patter when we saw the area code. Last week, our adoption coordinator called me late at night. Since our agency has an unofficial policy against calling families that are waiting, I was really hoping she was calling with a referral. Instead, she was just calling to follow up about an email and to tell me that there was no news other than an acknowledgement from the care center in Ethiopia that they are aware our family exists. So... the call could come tomorrow, or it could come six months from now, or I suppose it could possibly take even longer than that - though I'd rather not go there mentally right now.