Wednesday, October 31, 2007

We're Back!

We were in Arizona for a few-day-vaca. This trip was especially special since it was our first vacation with MorMor and MorFar! All six of us flew out early Thursday morning. We returned early Monday morning. It was a fabulous trip! Highlights included hikes in the desert and mega-swimming-pools at the resort. Will post more when I find some minutes to blog. Happy Halloween y'all!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Little Blogging Break

We're going to take a little blogging break. We'll be back in action early next week.
Catch ya later y'all!
H, B, K, O

A Twin Thing

This morning on a whim Braydon put Owen on our new digital scale. He weighs 40.4 pounds. Then he put Kyle on the scale. He weighs 40.4 pounds. I know they are twins and all, but the exact same weight??? It just seems remarkable.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Quote of the Day: "Excuse Me..."

For an explanation of why we still allow Owen to use a pacifier, click here

Owen continues to be completely 100% unselfconscious of being 3+ years old and still using a pacifier. At this point he has only 2 left (all others have gotten lost, broken, or just disappeared over time). The 2 he has left are very old and don't even work very well anymore, but as much as we're willing to let this paci thing continue we aren't going to actively support the habit by actually buying him any new ones. He only uses the paci when he sleeps at night. But just recently we've noticed that Owen might be finally showing signs of starting to give up the paci even for that. For the past couple of weeks we've seen that he'll suck like crazy on his paci as he's drifting into sleep, but by the time we check in on him before we go to bed his paci is long dropped out of his mouth, he's sucking his thumb (so now we have two thumb suckers!), and he seems to sleep the rest of the night without the pacifier. Since he seems to be showing signs of letting go of the paci, yesterday we decided that we should start helping him officially move in that direction. So, last night, unbenounced to him, after Owen fell asleep, we found his paci in his bed and put it on his bedside table, out of his reach. All was good and the night was peaceful. ...Then... very early this morning we're all sleeping soundly and the house is silent and pitch dark. Completely out of the blue I jolt upright in bed to Owen's voice -- saying very calmly and very clearly and very loudly (not yelling or shouting, but definitely loud enough to hear throughout the house): "Excuse me?! Excuse me mommy and papi?! Excuse me?!" Braydon bolted into his room trying to get there before Owen woke up his brother. As soon as Braydon opened the door to Owen's room I hear: "Excuse me papi?! Can you please help me find my paci?!"

This Post Has No Title III

for prior posts in this vein click here

Over the past week or so Braydon and I have had a series of encounters with overt racism. Of course we encounter various forms of racism regularly. Nevertheless, that doesn't make it easy. It is horrifying. Racism has always been something that has horrified me. But it takes on a new level of horror when you're raising black children. I remember talking about this once with a black friend of mine. He told me that racism had always been the dark side of life for him, but when he became a father racism was suddenly in "all caps" (racism became RACISM). Not being black myself, I surely don't even know the half of it. But I'll go out on a limb and say that as a mother, racism is no longer racism... it is RACISM. It screams out at me. It shakes me at the core. It sends me into that crazed-hyper-protective-mother-bear-mode that makes it hard to sleep at night. I hate it. "How can I protect them?" I keep asking myself. And the answer just pounds back every time, slamming me into its wall: "I can't protect them." It feels like an inescapable disease that I can't keep at bay from my babies' tiny lungs -- no matter what I do, they will breathe that air, that sickness will flow in, I cannot keep them from catching it. I think of that After School Special I saw in 4th grade-- 'The Boy in the Bubble.' Surely there is some sort of hygienic protective place where I could hide them so they don't have to be exposed to this? But no, there is not. No such place exists. So, here we are. Trying to live our lives amidst this. We do our best to cope, to let it roll off us whenever possible, to get up and keep going. The looks and stares and inappropriate questions/comments/statements are manageable. But when you take a few heavy hits right in a row, it is hard to not feel weighted down by it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Toward the End of October 2007

Since finding out that the Lehigh University Board of Trustees voted to approve my tenure and promotion I have felt kind of zonked. It does not feel anti-climatic to me, it just feels like a big sigh of relief. I have a desire to just enjoy the simple things of life and let everything else go -- at least for the time being. For the past few days we've sort of been gliding here. Letting dishes and laundry and messes pile up. Letting the To-Do Lists just grow longer. Letting the blog go without updating. Letting life pass us by, in a good way. The passing of time is something so interesting. So often we mourn it. But in this phase of our life here, I'm thinking of all the good wrapped up in it. Time passing is not always bad. Time passed is a good thing when you're just on the other side of the tenure hurdle. That hurdle had been looming for a solid 12 years for Braydon and me. It is a good thing - that passing of time. We feel a huge sense of accomplishment and relief that it is over. I've also been thinking about the goodness in the passing of time a lot in terms of K & O for this whole past month. The month of October is an important one in our family. In 2005 October marked K & O's 'hump month' --- that month they passed a mile-marker in their lives: just as much time spent out of the orphanage as in it. By the end of October 2005 they had been out of the orphanage over 8 months... longer than the the 8 months they had spent in. It was a big deal. Our social worker had told us that it would take as long 'out' as they had been 'in' before we'd see a lot of their post-traumatic shock behaviors resolve. In the case of K & O it was true, almost to the precise day. By the beginning of November all of the heavy-duty issues were gone, our boys were happy and content virtually all the time, and it was clear to us that our family was fully bonded. Now, with October 2007 barrelling along, I have been thinking of that time two years ago. And I've been thinking a lot about how good the passing of time is. Of course I miss the little babies, and then the toddlers, that K & O once were. But these past several days I've been thinking about how happy I am that they are who they are now. K & O are 3 years and 5 months old right now. Here are just a few of the things I adore about them as they are today:
  • they go to bed with relative ease, and sleep through the night almost always
  • we can go to a relatively nice restaurant and be pretty confident they'll behave very well
  • they play together every day like inseparable best of brothers
  • they love their school and they already have formed a very strong group of friends from school
  • they can't even consider going to sleep without their loveys
  • regularly they tell me that I'm "beautiful"; tell Braydon that he's "so funny"; and tell us that we're "the best mommy and the best papi in the whole world"
  • they love babies and talk about babies every day; they can't stand to hear any baby cry
  • they eat us out of house and home
  • their twinship is just as strong as it has been since we've met them
  • their imagination is running wild, 24 x 7
  • they regularly invite people (friends from school, neighbors, random strangers) to their birthday party, even though May 8 is many months away
  • their favorite thing in the world is to jump on an airplane and go somewhere -- anywhere
  • they are soooo happy sooooo much of the time
  • they still have no real clue whatsoever what tenure is all about

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Top 10: Readers' Favorites From the Past Year

(for back story to this post click here and read the comments)

Your Top Ten Favorite Posts from Our First Year in the Blogosphere:

  1. Arranged Marriages

  2. Nativity Angels Steal Baby Jesus

  3. Braydon's Videos

  4. Top 10 Lists: Is There A 'Right' Answer? & Warped Mindset

  5. Open Book Challenge (Answers on posts from August 27-September 3)

  6. Apple Cart

  7. 'Informational' Stuff: Kyle & Owen's Dreadlocks & Things We Did

  8. Dressing Twins

  9. Kyle Shares a Memory & Trauma and Healing in Adoption

  10. ...and everyone loves the Conversations (and the quotes, such as "Hey June... Feel My Muscle")

Monday, October 15, 2007

New Hope Day Trip

Sunday we did our favorite day trip ~~ New Hope, PA. We love New Hope any time of year, but fall is probably our favorite time to spend a day there. Lunch on the patio at the Logan Inn (bloody mary's & crabcakes for H & B; chocolate milk, french fries, & turkey orzo soup for K & O). Feeding the ducks at the river. Strolling the town. Ice cream cones. Watching the train. Checking out the motorcycles. Cafe au lait & almont croissants at The French Bakery. Time for tickles. A gorgeous, fun-filled day in New Hope for the four of us.

Fall Farm Day with The Uhrigs

Saturday was our Second Annual Fall Farm Day with The Uhrigs! Alstede Farms, Chester NJ. Hay ride. Hay Mountain. Hay Tunnel. Pony rides. Pumkin Picking. Apple Tree Climbing. Apple Cider & Apple Cider Donuts. A beautiful day on the farm shared with some great friends!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

1 Beautiful Photo of Kyle

2 Owen Funnies

Owen is a very funny boy. He is seriously funny. He likes being funny. And it is often hard to be in his presence without laughing at something he says or does. Here are two of his latest favorite phrases:
  • "I have a plan!" Today, for example, the four of us were on a long walk. K & O were pushing their babies in their strollers. Every time a car would go by we'd all stand on the side of the road and wait for it to pass. Owen, of course, had to wave --enthusiastically-- at every single car as if the people in it were his long-lost friends. Also, Owen, of course, would announce to us from time to time that June was watching the car too, June was walking with us, June was in the stroller, June was helping him push the stroller, etc. (at one point June was even in his pocket-- ???). Anyway, we were all standing by the side of the road, waiting for a car to pass. Owen was inching too close to the edge of the road and it was making Braydon nervous. Braydon sternly told him to back up and move away from the road. Owen held up his hand shoving his palm in the air in Braydon's direction (as in, 'stop talking' or 'you're now talking to the hand') and said very confidently: "I have a plan!"
  • "I'm thinking about it!" Today, for example, the four of us were in New Hope. We were by the river and K & O were feeding the ducks. Owen was questioning whether the duck food was exclusively for ducks or whether he could eat it too. It was duck food (like, grain), and we were repeatedly telling him that it was only for ducks and that he should not eat it. He held up one morsel of duck food and examined it very closely. Then he held it close to his mouth, said, "I'm not going to eat it," and then announced matter-of-factly, "I'm thinking about it!"

Friday, October 12, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

1 Year Anniversary of the Johnson-McCormick Family Blog

Note: To watch slide show with music, click on speaker icon on bottom left corner of black slide show box.

Happy Blogiversary!

October 11, 2007 marks the One Year Anniversary of the Johnson-McCormick Blog. Rather than try to do a retrospective of our past year in the blogosphere we decided to take the plunge and do our first blog 'slide show' ~~ not of the past year, but rather of the year-and-a-half of our lives before we started blogging. Our blog has turned out to be so much more than we ever had imagined when we began it. And our only blog-related regret is that we did not start our blog sooner. Alas, we were waaaay tooooo tired to blog then -- the boys were not easy in the beginning. Not that they are 'easy' now, but they are so very much easier with each passing month. I do wish I had a better record of the early days of our family... not just for our own sakes, but also for the sake of our readers-- so many of whom have had questions about the earlier stages (and our memories of that time are so often hazy that we can't answer those questions with much detail). So, the slide show above is a compilation of photos from our Referral Photo through the Last Photo Before We Started This Blog. We are happy to share these photos with you, and we are happy to share what we do of our life with you through this blog. Most of all, though, we are humbled that you care to look, read, check in, think, and care about us via our blog. Happy Blogiversary to all of our Johnson-McCormick Family Blog readers!!


P.S. What we originally wanted to do to celebrate our blogiversary was to make a Top Ten List of our favorite posts from the past year... but here's an even better idea!!!... how about you tell us what your favorite Johnson-McCormick Family Blog post was, and then we'll compile a Top Ten List of Our Readers' Favorite Posts From the Past Year?!!!?? ...So, please... tell us: What was your favorite post? Share by posting a comment here! :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Donald & Douglas James Go On a "Jumbo Bus"

Kyle (in blue) with his baby Donald,
Owen (in red) with his baby Douglas James
_ _ _
They were on a "Jumbo Bus!"; it was "an airport bus!"; they were in "San Juan"; "at the airport"; on their way to "Virgin Gorda!!!" * They were "bringing the babies on a big trip!"; it was "a VACATION!"; they were going to "bring babies to the BEACH!"; and "teach babies to snorkel!"; and "sleep with babies at night-night!" * The babies were "not scared"; "no, no, no!"; the babies were "super excited!"; "VERY EXCITED!" * But the babies were "crying"; because the "babies cry when they are hungry"; and these babies were "VERY HUNGRY!" * They "could not wait!"; they needed to "feed Douglas James his bottle!"; and "feed Donald his bottle!"; right there "inside the big huge Jumbo Bus!" * In the bottles was "fomla" [formula]; and it was "warm fomla"; and it was "many, many fomlas!"; and the babies "like to drink warm fomla!" * They were "feeding them on the Jumbo Bus!"; and the bus was "going in the airport"; the "San Juan airport!"; and they were "taking care of their babies on the Jumbo Bus" * They each had with them their "baby bag"; and "in the baby bag is a toy, and a bottle, and a wipes"; it is "all for the babies!!!" * After they fed them [for a very, very long time] then they had to "change these babies' diapers!"; because they were "soooo poopie!"; and they needed to "use the wipes!"; to "clean them up!"; and "give them a new diaper!"; and "get them dressed!" * Then they were "back on the Jumbo Bus!"; the babies were "sooooo sleepy!"; and they "put them in their blankets!"; "so nice and warmy!" * And they did it all over and over and over again... non-stop for about 40 minutes... and it was all so very involved.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Family Weekend: Bikes, Fountains, and Traugers Farm

About a year ago Braydon and I started purposely blocking off a whole Saturday or Sunday on our calendars, every 6 weeks or so, to do absolutely nothing but chill out at home with our little family foursome. This summer we made a decision to expand on this by blocking off a whole weekend about every six weeks. We call these "Family Weekends." For us it is a way to re-charge, re-group, re-bond, rejuvenate. For us -- all four of us -- it really seems to work. We have found that it works best if we actually go away (preferably overnight). But we can make do at home too. Requirements of our Family Weekends are as follows:

  • No real cooking. We go out to eat, order take-out, or eat simple/easy-to-prepare foods... all weekend long.
  • No real chores. No housework or yard work. No "projects." No To-Do lists.
  • No work. Period.
  • No childcare (no babysitter).
  • No social engagements whatsoever. I.e., no plans with friends, no play-dates, no get-togethers, no birthday parties, no social events. Just the four of us.

This past weekend was a Family Weekend. We decided to stay put at home. It was good. Highlights were

  1. The boys got new bikes! Their first real bikes (with training wheels)! This had been long-anticipated. We had told them we'd get them bicycles when the swimming pool closed. Braydon did tons of research and got his boys the best dang bikes around. ;0 He had brought the boys to the bike store twice to look at their new bikes, get sized for helmets, etc. K & O were very excited. Saturday morning, after we went out for breakfast (Owen had a Belgian waffle; Kyle had a corn muffin; Braydon and I had omelettes), we went straight to the bike store. Kyle's bike is red. Owen's is blue. Happy Happy Boys Boys. FOR PHOTOS CLICK HERE
  2. It was hot and humid here this weekend. Saturday afternoon involved ice cream (Kyle still continues to almost exclusively choose milkshakes?!!?!; Owen is finally experimenting with fun-and-exciting [and drippy] ice cream cones... preferably with jimmies!), and then... FOUNTAINS. for photos click here
  3. Sunday was our Third Annual Fall Traugers Farm Trip. Traugers Farm sells their produce, etc. year-round, and we regularly frequent this farm store. But Traugers Farm in October is a whole other thing. They have horse-drawn hay-rides, their own farm-pressed cider and farm-grown popcorn, tons of pumpkins, and little corn maze made just for little-little kids (they plant the corn very late in the season so the stalks are only about 4-5 feet high). As I'm sure you can imagine, K & O love the whole entire experience. FOR PHOTOS CLICK HERE.

We never left a 10-mile radius of our house, but it was a great Family Weekend nonetheless. See photos below (as always, you can click on any photo to expand).

* * *

The highlight of the weekend, for Braydon and I, was toward the end of our Traugers Farm visit. The boys were calming down a bit from all the excitement and were drinking lemonades. Kyle was wandering around checking out the mums and gourdes. Owen spotted The Farmer (like the head honcho, owner/manager/boss man of this very large operating farm) sitting alone at a large picnic table taking a break and quietly watching the locals and tourists alike swarming his farm. The boys and I had met this man once before -- this summer. It was a hot summer day and we had stopped at Traugers to buy corn. We were the only ones there. The Farmer was teaching a young man how to use the pea-shucking machine. He was clearly busy, but he invited Kyle and Owen to come over and watch. And as they watched he took handfuls of freshly shucked peas and gave them to K & O to eat. The boys loved the peas, of course, and the boys were enamored with The Farmer, of course. The Farmer seems subtly taken with K & O--- a quiet, reserved man of few words... but he ended up giving me my dozen ears of corn for free and telling me to "bring the boys back to see him soon." We've been back before but haven't seen The Farmer again, until Sunday. So... toward the end our Traugers Trip Owen spots him at a large picnic table. Owen proceeded to quietly and calmly make his way to the table, and sit down with The Farmer. The two of them sat there together, taking it all in, just a few quiet words exchanged between them every now and then, for a good 10-15 minutes (a very long time for Owen to sit so still). Eventually Owen was off and running again. The Farmer asked us about the boys -- where they were from, etc. We chatted for a bit. Then it was time to go. Completely unprompted, Kyle ran to The Farmer, climbed up in his lap, and gave him a huge hug and kiss. The Farmer took it in stride, hugging Kyle back. Then he gave Owen a big high five and an even bigger smile. As we were about to leave, The Farmer told Braydon and I that when the boys are old enough he'd like for them to come work on his farm with him. He was entirely serious. He was smitten with them. And the boys with him. It was one of the sweet, sweet moments of this Family Weekend.

Bikes Photos

Kyle's First Crash!
Coming down the driveway way too fast,
not quite fully familiar with how to brake,
slammed right into the tree

Owen lovin' the water bottle!

Fountains Photos