Friday, March 30, 2007

Early spring day in the sandbox

It was a gorgeous day and we finally got to spend some time outside. I have a new video camera and couldn't resist filming as the boys played simply in the sandbox.

Note: if the video looks cut off, double click on it to watch directly on youtube.

Quote of the Day: "...I'm not listening!"

At bedtime tonight Owen was acting up because it was his night with Braydon and he wanted to be with me (click here to read my "Quotes of the Day" post from this past Monday with an explanation about our current bedtime situation). Braydon and I have just about had it with these bedtime fiascos. Braydon crouched down and said very firmly: "Owen, tonight there is no acting up. Tomorrow you'll have Mama. Tonight you have Papi. No acting up!" Owen then proceeded to very rambunctiously act up. Within a few seconds, before Braydon could even react, Owen stopped everything, stood perfectly still, looked up at Braydon, and said: "Papi, I'm so mad at myself!" Braydon said, "Why are you so mad at yourself?" And Owen said: "Papi, I'm so mad at myself because I'm not listening!" We had all we could do to not break into hysterics.

Photos from Today

The four of us (as Owen and Kyle say, "OUR WHOLE FAMILY!") went to the park after daycare today. Here are some photos from Braydon's cell phone camera...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Haitian Migrants

101 Haitian migrants who had fled Haiti in a small boat were found yesterday on the shore of Florida. Read the Miami Herald article: click here. Read the Orlando Sentinal article: click here. Or, just look at these photos: click here.

Love Thursday

Braydon, Kyle, Owen -- February 24, 2005
The boys had been home for less than a month. They were still shell-shocked. As were we. You can see it in the faces of these three in this photo. And you can also see the grip Braydon has on both of them -- he's got them snug on his lap; they're not going anywhere. He loved those babies right from the start. And love grows. It grows and grows and grows. Today, his grip is even tighter. And the shell-shock is long gone. Love is all around. Happy Love Thursday, everyone!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"Dora La Musico"

Some days I feel like I suck at being a mother. Some days I feel like I'm 'so-so' at it. And then every once in a great while I have one of those euphoric days when after putting the boys to bed I walk/glide down the stairs thinking, "Man! I *ROCK* at being a mom!" (O.k., granted, those days are very few and far between... I could probably count on one hand the number of times in the past 2.5 years that I've had one of those days... but a girl's gotta celebrate the small stuff, right?!). So, people, last night ---- Last night was one of those nights.

I felt like a million bucks. 'Why?', you ask... Well, let me tell you why. But first, remember, like I said: a girl's gotta celebrate the small stuff. And yes, this is really small. And sorta pathetic. But still. I rock. Sometimes.

Anyway, here is why yesterday I rocked at being a mom: Folks, its Dora Egg Hunt. Yes, Dora Egg Hunt people!!!

Rarely have I made a purchase so perfect as this. I bought it a few days ago because of the "Egg Hunt" theme -- I wanted to get the boys all excited about Easter. But what really convinced me to buy it was that I read on the back that there was a "bonus episode"... a bonus episode called "Dora, La Musica"... and this is how it was described: "The towns-people are having a musical parade but when Senor Shush locks their musical instruments in a music box, Dora and Boots take their own parade to town. Help them find their instruments for their friends, stop Swiper and make great music!" Wow. Dora and Boots have a musical parade? The towns-people have instruments? Great music? "Hmmm..." I thought, "this will be PERFECT!!!" And perfect it was. Yes, perfect it was. We watched it last night for the first time. Both boys loved it. But Kyle especially -- given his love of all things music -- LOVED it. Like, loved it more than he's ever loved anything before. Ever. Within a few minutes he caught on to the whole music theme and announced to us: "It is a marching band!" O.k., people --- Dora *AND* a marching band?????!!!! It does not get any better than that for our sweet little Ky Ky. For precisely 24 minutes last night (the length of "Dora, La Musica") I was The Coolest Mama Ever. And those 24 minutes easily made up for the entire previous 24 hours when I was, at least in my own mind, just doing 'so-so' at this whole Mom Thing. People, yesterday, I rocked at being a mother.


I've posted before about how Owen and Kyle greet Chinese people in Chinese (click here for example). Yesterday, they again amazed me (and, I must admit, shocked me!) with their linguistic dexterity and ethnic differentiation. I was dropping them off at daycare. Kyle was already unbuckled and was climbing out of the car. I was working on getting Owen out of his carseat. An older gentleman was walking along the sidewalk in front of the car. He was dark skinned and appeared to be Hispanic. I didn't think anything of it, hardly even noticed the man, until suddenly, both boys start shouting to the man at the top of their lungs-- "¡Hola!" The man stopped dead in his tracks and turned to face our car. The boys yelled it even louder -- "¡Hola! ¡Hola! ¡Hola!" The man, absolutely delighted, face glowing, and eyes twinkling, waved and shouted back, "¡Hola!" Kyle and Owen, now smiling and absolutely delighted too, jumped out of the car and ran up to the man. Owen, looking right up at him, then says, "Buenos días!" And the man was beside himself with delight -- "Buenos días!" he said back, smiling ear-to-ear. And with that K & O were off and running and skipping and jumping to the daycare door. I waved goodbye to the man and ran after the boys. Once inside the toddler room I asked the staff about this -- "Have you ever seen them do that?" I said. "Yes!!!" they all said, "All the time!" They explained that when the boys are playing outside and they see this man walk by (he lives in the complex where the daycare center is located), they run to the play-yard fence and shout "¡Hola!" and "Buenos días!" back-and-forth with him. They said that the boys also do this with other Hispanic folks who they see walking on the sidewalk. I said, "Who taught them that?" And the daycare teachers said, "We thought you taught them that????" "No, I haven't taught them that!" O.k., Kyle and Owen have definately have watched their fair share of Dora the Explorer and Go Diego Go videos... I mean, they've been exposed to some real basic preliminary spanish in those videos (just like millions of other American toddlers obsessed with Dora and Diego have been). And they have a couple of teachers at daycare who speak spanish. But I had never before witnessed them actually identify an Hispanic-looking person and say "¡Hola!" until yesterday. One thing is for certain: from the look on his face, I think it is safe to say that it definately made that guy on the sidewalk's day (oh, and it made my day too!).

White Parents, Black Kids

Awhile ago I read a post on the Mayhem and Magic blog (click here for that blog) regarding the question of whether or not white parents can raise black children successfully in the U.S. (click here for that post). I've thought a lot about that question over the years -- and especially over the past 2-3 years. I've also thought a lot about why it is that white parents so rarely adopt black children. It is hard to not notice it... it is hard to not notice how few families do adopt, and of them, how few of them adopt transracially, and of them, how really very very few white parents adopt black children. This seems especially blatant, of course, when you are a white parent who has adopted a black child. Indeed, it is glaring once you are that person. Adoption is on the rise, but white-black adoption rates are dismal. It is ridiculously rare to see examples in real life of white-black adoptive families. Look around. I notice the non-presence of it all the time, every day. I can't possibly pretend it isn't reality. And I'm guessing that soon enough my boys will be fully cognizant of this too, that is if they aren't already. So, it begs the question: why don't more white parents adopt black children?

In case you missed it (many of us probably did, since it was in the Christmas Eve edition of the Washington Post), click here for David Nicholson's article: "Why Doesn't White Adopt Black?" This article has caused quite a stir in the adoption-blogging-community. And here's a post about this topic by an adoption writer: "Being Open To Race, Or Not". Some good literature exists on the subject of white-black adoption. Just do a quick search and you'll find it. One of my all-time favorites is the autobiography Black Baby White Hands: A View from the Crib, by Jaiya John (click here for link). In the academic literature some has been written on the topics of adoption and transracial adoption, but very little has been published on the subject of black-white adoption (or lack thereof). However, two recent books have made a huge contribution. The first is by the well-respected sociologist Barbara Katz Rothman. In my opinion it is the best scholarly thing out there on the topic to-date: Weaving a Family: Untangling Race and Adoption (click here for link). The second is by Rothman's student, Heather Dalmage. Dalmage interviewed members of black-white families, and her book provides an insight to their lived experiences. While the focus is heavily on bi-racial children, it is still completely relevant (and inclusive of) adoptive families: Tripping on the Color Line: Black-white Multiracial Families in a Racially Divided World (click here for link). Then of course there's the Angelina Jolie and Madonna adoption media - plenty of discussion on that in print out there.

Braydon and I have had countless conversations about this subject. I (and we) really do not think that any adult should adopt any kid if they don't believe their heart is fully open to the miracle of adoption; if one isn't open to adopting a child into their home, arms, and heart -- for whatever reason -- then they really, really, really should not adopt. And if one is open, but not to a child of a different skin tone than their own, then they should only adopt within-race. And, I suppose, that if one is open to transracial adoption, but not open to a black child, then they shouldn't adopt a black child. But those words are hard for me to even type. It is hard to accept that this (that you'd be open to adoption, open to transracial adoption, but not open to adopting a black child) can be true. Yet, it is. Isn't it? While white parents wait on long waiting lists for white and Asian children, of the 1.5 million orphans in -- for example -- Haiti right now, on average less than 200 are adopted into the U.S. each year. And then of course there's the situation with domestic adoption of black children... and then there's Jamaica... and Ethiopia... and Uganda... and Sierra Leone... and South Africa... and all of Africa for that matter. Millions of infants and children are waiting in the U.S. and the world -- and disproportionately few of the black children will ever be adopted. That's not just a weird fluke. That's not just an adoption-pragmatics-paperwork-legalities-thing. That's gotta be at least partly a race thing. Sadly, unfortunately, and infuriatingly it is at least partly a race thing. And that's putting it mildly. The more we're up front about that, the more potential to begin conversations with ourselves and others that might -- just might -- push us forward.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Photos of the Day: Calm Quiet Moments & Crazy Loud Moments

Kyle Gets Mama to Read Books in the Rocking Chair

* * *
Owen Jumps Off His Bed

Monday, March 26, 2007

Quotes of the Day

Tonight, as the four of us were eating dinner together, amongst other things the following conversation happened. We were talking about the day. Owen was in a happy, chipper mood. All of this was said with a huge smile on his face and bizzillions of sparkles in his eyes:
Owen: "Mommy?"
Heather: "Yeah Owen?"
Owen: "Mommy, thank you for bringing us home safely."
Heather: (slightly taken aback) "You're welcome Owen."
Owen: "Mommy, I love you."
Heather: "I love you too Owen, I love you so much."
Owen: "Mommy, I missed you so much."
Heather: "Owen, I missed you so much today too. When I was at work I was missing you."
Owen: "Papi, I missed you today."
Braydon: "I missed you too Owen."
Owen: "I love you Papi."
Braydon: "I love you too Owen."
Owen: "Papi, kiss me!"

After dinner we were getting the boys ready for bed. We switch back-and-forth each night so that Braydon and I rotate between Kyle and Owen every other night. The boys are in a heavy-duty mommy-mommy phase right now and they fight every night over who gets to be with me (even though the system is firmly established so there is actually nothing to even fight about). It drives both Braydon and I nuts the way they fight over me. We can barely stand it. Anyway, tonight was Kyle's night with me. Owen was throwing a fit. Kyle wrapped his whole body around me and the following conversation occurred. Kyle was clearly happy to have it be his night with me, but he was also feeling sorry for Owen:
Kyle: "Mommy, we need two mommies. Like this-- [holding up two fingers with one hand and pointing to them with the other hand] one, two."
Heather: "Oh, you want two mommies?"
Kyle: "Yes, two mommies. One for Owen. And one for Kyle. Please mommy?"
Heather: "Kyle, some families do have two mommies, but you got a family with one mommy and one papi."
Kyle: "But why? Why only one mommy? We need two mommies. One for Owen and one for Kyle."
Heather: "Nope. We only have one mommy. Not two. We have one mommy and one papi."
Kyle: "Yes. We only have one mommy."
Heather: "That's right."
Kyle: "Just one."
Heather: "That's right-- just one."
Kyle: "Oh man!!!!!"
Heather: "Oh man!"
Kyle: "Oh my gosh!!!"

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Snake in the yard!

It was a beautiful day and we got a chance to spend all afternoon outside - which our whole family just loves.

After playing the driveway, hitting the baseball with Owen, playing golf with Kyle, flying airlpanes, it was "time for the bump-bump slide" which means it was time to go play on the swing set. Which naturally and immediately led to the sandbox.

While the boys and Heather were playing in the sand box, I started to clean sticks off the yard that had fallen over the course of the winter. And to my total jump-up-and-shout-in-surprise one of those sticks was a 2 foot long snake. Heather determined this would be a wonderful teachable moment for the boys. "Quick! quick! Kyle and Owen, quick there is a SNAKE!!!!" The boys dutifully came running.

Kyle took one look, decided the sandbox was far more interesting and went back to playing. Owen on the other hand, followed Heather's cue and began throwing little sticks at the snake to attempt to get it to wiggle. Much to my dismay (and quite vocal dismay) and much to Heather's giggles, this activity got him closer and closer to the snake.

Several times I thought I saw the snake coil its head in such a way to strike my poor, unsuspecting and vulnerable son. Who, also, was escalating the situation with ever increasing-in-size sticks and pokes and prods of the snake. I envisioned our rush to the hospital with his labored breathing as he fought for his life.

After several near heart-failures on my part and epileptic fits of laughter on Heather's part, Heather finally relented and moved Owen farther from the snake than the 6 inches or so he had been standing.

She of course then went and brought the cat over to check it out. Once he realized the snake moved when he batted at it, Cooper promptly chased the thing in to the woods.

Thank goodness it was only a garter snake (note on the picture below, it looks a LOT bigger in real life - for those of you also afraid of snakes - you know what I mean).

3 Fun Things From This Weekend

If truth be told, every single day is jam-packed with fun and funniness. Yes, there is also lots of drama and "terrific-two" tantrums and time-outs-for-naughty-behavior and utter-parental-exhaustion. Just this afternoon Braydon and I were talking outside while we watched the boys play in the yard and I said, "Doesn't it just feel like every day is a wild roller-coaster ride of emotion?" And he said, "YES!!! It does!" But overall, I can honestly say that the peaks of the roller-coaster ride -- all the fun and funniness (all the joy and love and laughter) -- far outweighs all that other stuff we experience in the valleys of every-day-life. I count us as incredibly lucky and incredibly blessed. Here are just three of the fun things from this weekend:

1) Awhile ago Braydon bought the boys little toy airplanes that they can make fly (click here for that post). Within just a couple days of Owen mastering the flying of these planes, Kyle had mastered it too. We have three planes total, so all three boys can play. Owen, Kyle, and Braydon all love to play with these planes. They play with these airplanes every day for extended periods of time -- both inside and out. The latest is that Braydon came up with the great idea to fly the planes up and down the stairs inside the house. He sits on the floor at the bottom of the stairs and shoots the planes up (often hitting the ceiling, a plant, or one of the boys). They all laugh hysterically. Then Kyle and Owen retrieve the planes, stand up on stools, and shoot them back down to Braydon (often hitting the ceiling, a plant, or their Papi). They all laugh hysterically. Then Braydon shoots them back up to K & O. They'll do this over and over and over. It is really fun to watch because they are all three really playing together, and they are all three really doing something together they each individually enjoy.

2) Lately we've been noticing how much Kyle loves to look at himself. He will situate himself in front of any mirror or reflective window he can, and watch himself do stuff. He'll do this while playing all of his instruments, or he'll do this while playing with a toy truck, or he'll just dance/hop/spin solo in front of a mirror. He is completely unselfconscious about it. Which is so endearing! And he is totally unaware that Braydon and I realize his love of watching himself. The latest is that he has discovered that if he situates himself just so on the stairs he can see himself in a small mirror that hangs on the wall of the downstairs foyer. Numerous times a day he goes to the stairs and watches himself do stuff --- especially playing instruments. He just pops off to the stairs to watch himself from time to time. He has no idea we are watching him watch himself. Here he is drumming on the stairs -- you can see him looking at himself in the mirror and he's got the drum tilted just so -- so that he can see himself hit it with the drumstick. He was so engrossed with this watching-of-himself that he did not even notice me walk right in front of him and take the picture. ;-)

3) Owen and Kyle are both pretty good eaters, but they eat really differently in terms of how they pace themselves during any given meal. Kyle has always just powered through his food. He sits down, shovels it in, and then is off and running. Owen, on the other hand, likes to sit at the table for long periods of time. He doesn't rush it. He wiggles and squirms and chats it up with whomever else is at the table, and he plays with his food and gets distracted and nibbles and fools around, and eventually eats it all. K & O both eat about the same quantity of food but Owen takes literally about five times as long to eat his. This leaves lots of time for Owen to discuss deep ideas one-on-one with Braydon and I at the table. The latest is that Owen is starting to understand that the food he eats goes down his throat, into his belly (well, he says/insists that the food goes "into his belly button"), and that the food makes us strong/healthy. At one point this weekend Kyle was long done with his meal and was off and playing. Braydon and I were done too, but we were still sitting at the table with Owen -- who had barely even gotten started on his food. I was telling Owen that he needs to eat his food so he will "have big strong muscles just like Papi!" He loved this idea. He'd take one small bite of food, chew it, and swallow it, and then pull up his shirt sleeve for us to look at his muscles. He was absolutely 100% convinced that each bite he ate made his muscle bigger. "See it?!! See it Mommy? See it Papi?!" And he'd be so proud to show us his muscles. That meal took even longer than usual for Owen to finish. ;0 But it was a very fun meal.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

New Shoes and Afternoon Nap

Today I finally broke down and bought the boys "Crocs" (click here for crocs). They love 'em. We all four think they're pretty darn cute... especially with the little button-y thingys that the boys have in 'em... "Jibbitz" (click here for jibbitz). Owen has a football, baseball, basketball, peace sign, and a bumble bee; Kyle has a smiley face, soccer ball, ying-yang sign, and three penguins. Owen, in particular, loves his. In fact you can't tell from the picture below, but he's wearing his crocs in his sleep for his afternoon nap. The nap is adorable today -- I rocked each of them to sleep and laid them down together in Owen's bed. They're snuggled up real close together and when I listened closely I heard that old familiar sound of their breathing in synch. They used to breathe like that in their sleep as babies when their cribs were so close together. That in-synch-breathing always makes me wonder about my boys as twins and think about how they've been together forever, even in their birthmother's womb. Sometimes this pair is so sweet and darling that I almost can't even stand it --- I sometimes feel like my heart might explode. Today's one of those days.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Someone Else's Thoughts on Black Hair

If you didn't see it, this little NYTimes article from yesterday is worth checking out:

"I Have Taken on My Daughter’s Hair and Won" by Randal Archibold -- click here.

Top Ten: Warped Mindset Reprise - "Do They Make...?"

A few weeks ago I wrote a post called "The Warped Mindset of a Mama of Twin Two-Year-Old Whippersnappers" (click here to read that post). In it I confessed some not-so-flattering things that had recently gone through my mind. Several people have told me that they are still laughing about this post-- especially #10 ("Do they make those dog 'Invisible Fence' things for children???") The funniest thing about #10, for me, is that I actually have thoughts like that a lot -- thoughts that start with "Do they make..."

So, on this dreary rainy Friday afternoon, as the academic year is really starting to take its toll on us, and we're all ready for a vacation (even though we still have many weeks to go before we'll get one), here's another Heather confessional.

My Top Ten "Do They Make..." Questions (True Deep Thoughts From the Past Few Weeks):

  1. "Do they make plastic light bulbs?"
  2. "Do they make childproofed car keys?"
  3. "Do they make very large (like, maybe 1 foot x 1 foot) sponges?"
  4. "Do they make child gates that cover the full height and width of door openings?"
  5. "Do they make steel window screens?"
  6. "Do they make toilet pee pee guards that can be installed to block off the entire rest of the bathroom?"
  7. "Do they make those installable-dog-cat-in-out-door-flap-things large enough for a small child to fit through?"
  8. "Do they make waterproof telephones?"
  9. "Do they make a 'Twin' version of the 'Diaper Genie'?"
  10. "Do they make something to muffle the sound of a djembe drum? If so, where can I purchase two of them?"

Thursday, March 22, 2007

First: Queso Dip

Some of you who are reading this know this about me: I love queso dip. It is probably my #1 all-time worst junk food downfall. Jessica and Patricia and Jen Slavin and Kristen... this one's for you! :) You know how much I love queso dip. Braydon took this photo with his cell phone last night. It is Owen chowing down on his first queso dip at Don Pablo's Mexican Kitchen (click here). He loved the stuff. O.k. girlfriends, seriously... is that not my boy?!! Kyle reacted kind of like Braydon does to queso dip -- he could take it or leave it, and was much more focused on his drink (in the case of last night: milk for Kyle, margarita for Braydon). But Owen -- after a couple tastes of it, he pulled that whole bowl of queso right over to himself and hoarded it like only a true queso lover does. Even scraping the last bits of cheesey gooiness out of the bowl at the end. Man oh man did he make me proud. Now that's my boy!!!!!

Photos from Braydon's Phone

Tonight we dowloaded the photos Braydon has taken with his cell phone. I loved looking through them! Some date back to this past fall and some are from just the past couple of weeks. I think these pictures capture something totally different than the photos we take with the "real" camera. Here are just a few of them...

Photos from Today

We have just a few patches of snow left. One of them is right outside the garage -- where the snowplow pushed the snow into a shady spot. This afternoon the boys spent a long stretch of time playing on that little snow pile. At one point they were "cutting the snow" with their chainsaws. "Just like MorFar" they'd say. "And Bob the Builder" they'd say. Yup-- "Just like MorFar and Bob the Builder" we'd say. And they were lovin' every minute of it.

Inside we got yet another after-dinner-"African Drumming"-Performance. We're fortunate enough to be getting these performances multiple times a day ever since Braydon bought the djembe drums for the boys. They are waaaaaaaaaaay into it.

Kyle feels the spirit.

Owen feels the spirit.

And tonight... a brand new activity! Braydon dug out two of his old conducting batons. And now we've got two conductors. As you can see, we've got two very, very serious conductors.