Thursday, August 30, 2007

Open Book Answers - Part 4 (by Heather)


This Post's Questions -- Haiti & Hernias & Heck-Who-Knows?!!!!

ManyBlessings said... Do you ever consider going back to Haiti for another adoption? Or are your boys the completion of your family? Does one of your little guys have an umbilical hernia (the nurse in me has wondered for awhile)?

Hello ManyBlessings! We do consider going back to Haiti for another adoption. When we went to get Kyle and Owen at the orphanage Braydon and I each had about 30 beautiful children hanging onto every single inch of us, and longingly looking up into our eyes saying "Mama? Papi?" Taking only two felt selfish, like we should be doing more, and we wanted to each bring home about 10 kids from that place --- it would be hard to not consider adopting more after an experience like that. However, we don't think we will adopt from Haiti again. Mainly this is because we both (Braydon and Heather) feel very very strongly that if we have a third child we want to have it from the time it is newborn. It is very hard for me to write that even now - because I feel so selfish about that. There are so many children who need to be adopted (in Haiti and everywhere), and so it feels so self-centered for me to say 'no' to that. But here's the real deal: When we were planning and doing Kyle & Owen's adoptions, I didn't think I would feel the way I do about this -- so this has been surprising for me -- but I deeply deeply long for a newborn baby. I see tiny newborns and want to weep (still--- and it has been 2.5 years since we brough K & O home!) It is hard (impossible?) to explain, but I feel the loss of not having had Kyle and Owen from the time they were born. In some ways I feel that I can relate (just a teeny tiny bit) to what it must be like to be 'infertile' (I HATE that phrase), i.e., unable to birth a child. I feel like I really missed out on something (not to mention what Kyle and Owen missed out on) by not having my babies from the start. We are unsure as to whether our boys are the completion of our family. We had always wanted three children, and had always hoped/planned to have one biological child. I/We have never tried to get pregnant so we don't know if we're able. But right now we're considering having a third child, and if we do it we will probably be via the bio. route. If we decide we are committed to a third child, but we don't go the bio. route (either by choice or because we find after trying that we can't get pregnant), then we have already decided that we will adopt a newborn domestically. The honest truth of it is that we are so maxed out right now (in terms of our crazy fast paced lifestyle mainly due to the fact that we both have serious careers) that it feels crazy to even be considering adding a third child to the mix. Our thoughts and our feelings don't line up on this. We think that it is totally ridiculous to even consider a third child. But... for some reason (some things in life are impossible to explain - right? - well, this is one of them), Braydon and I both feel that we want a third. I could actually see K & O going either way on this. I think they'd be happy to stay just a duo. But I also think they'd be happy to become a trio. They say they want a baby (they have been expressing that to us for months and months and months). But they are still too little --they totally don't get it what the implications of that would be!!! So... we will see. We go back and forth on it every day. We will see, we will see, we will see.


Re: umbilical hernia --- I have always found it interesting that no one has previously asked/commented about it. I don't try to hide it, so it is always noticeable to me that people don't ask about it (probably the "hush hush" something *different* mentality, but I probably shouldn't assume that). Anyway, it is interesting about the belly buttons----Kyle and Owen had pretty severely distended bellies when we first got them (due to malnourishment). They also both had herniated belly buttons -- the "haitian belly buttons" as "Malia's Mama" calls them. :) Our pediatrician here is an adoption specialist and had already explained everything to us, so we were not surprised to see it when we got them, but still -- K & O's were soooo severe that it was kind of hard to look at. The distended bellies due to malnutrition pushed through the hernias and made their belly buttons even HUGER than usual in Haiti. Check out the above photo. Owen is the one closest in the photo. You can see how severe his umbilical hernia is. Kyle's, actually, was even worse than Owens (if you can believe that). Once we got them home, after several months, our pediatrician did refer us to a pediatric surgeon because she (our pediatrician) said that in all of her years of working w/ orphans she had never seen such severe cases. We went to the specialist. He said that if they hadn't naturally repaired themselves by the time the boys were 4 then he wanted to do surgery. Kyle's has healed almost 100%. He has a beautiful perfect precious belly button now. Owen's is still distended (as you can see in photos on our blog). At this point my guess is that we will do the surgery a year from now because I don't think Owen's will completely heal. At their 3-Year-Old check up last week our pediatrician said that she thinks it has healed about 75% but she's not sure if it will be able to completely heal on its own. But the surgery is purely for cosmetic reasons -- so that other kids don't tease him and he doesn't feel self-conscious of it -- there is no actual medical problem, per se. So, ultimately it is very interesting that Kyle's healed so well (given that his was actually WORSE in the beginning), and Owen's is the one still visibly herniated. I have to add here--- it is also amazing to me how *LITTLE* K & O comment on the differences in their belly buttons! They are both aware that Owen's is "an outie" (that's what we've called it for/with them), and Kyle's is now "an innie"... but it has been left at that. We've gone out of our way to not make a big thing out of the belly button issues, and to not try to "hide" Owens (thus, we don't refrain from posting photos of him shirtless on this blog, etc.), and we conscientiously act like everything is perfectly normal and natural (which, as a nurse, you know, it actually is!)... I think that contributes to their lack of self-consciousness about it. But still, I'm surprised that they haven't made a bigger thing of it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Candle Cake


It's arrived: Heather's 35!!!

It's Heather's 35th Birthday!






It's a special opportunity to celebrate Heather in all her wonderful roles; as wife, as a friend, as a daughter, soul mate, mentor and mother. She illuminates all our lives in amazing ways and connects to us like no one else. She is a treasure and I know I am not alone in thinking of her that way.


But it's not just her roles in our lives that we celebrate: it's also the center of her being. The who she is part. The person she is part. The brilliant, funny, loving, energetic, thoughtful, soulful, generous, fighter and giver that she is part. The person who was the youngest tenure track hire at Lehigh. The person who was All State in Field Hockey. The person who did the wonderful prints on our walls, expressing amazing things. The person who married me and adopted twin Haitian boys who nearly match her in energy.

I am so happy she is 35. She is not of course (she told me this morning). But, I like and love her more and more each year that passes; she is just getting better and better.

Happy 35th Birthday, Heather!!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Open Book Answers Part 3 (by Heather)


Questions Answered Tonight: Travel & Antics

First, TRAVEL (out of all 67 questions asked, this one is my favorite!) , then Antics.

Anonymous said... We have been reading basically since you started blogging. We can't get over how adventurous you are with two young kids (TWINS!), and how much you travel with them. Our question is what are your biggest pieces of advice for travelling with young twins (we have twin girls age 4 and we still haven't taken a trip with them and make everyone come visit us because we are too scared to travel with them STILL!!!!!!!!!!). Help!!!!?! How do you do it? :)The Tannenbaums (Sharon, Steve and twins Kara and Emma) from Michigan



Hi Tannenbaums! Photos above taken on our recent trip to New Hampshire. I totally understand your anxiety about travelling with your twin 4 year olds! It is hard to handle, and even though we travel quite a bit with Kyle and Owen we still get anxious ourselves! But we LOVE love love to travel with our boys and we make it a top priority for our family. We have been doing it since Day One with them (literally!), because within a week of meeting them we flew with them from Port-au-Prince to Miami, and then from Miami to Philadelphia. I'll never forget the euphoria of that first trip. OMG, it was amazing! Anyway, we do travel a lot with them -- especially relative to most twin families. However, there is one family I know of who travels even more than us with their twins (and I love this family from a distance)! Check out their blog by clicking here. But you're asking about us, so I'll try to stay focused (I love the travel-with-kids topic!!!). We have gone on a bunch of "big trips" (as they call it) with K & O. For K & O a "big trip" is a trip that involves airplanes. We have also done quite a few road trips, but we try to never go more than a 4-5 hour drive away because, basically, our boys have a VERY hard time in the car. They are awesome, however, on airplanes. We're not sure why. Maybe because they've been doing it so regularly through their young lives. I counted it up and to date we've done 10 "big trips" in the past 2.5 years, 4 of which were international involving more than one airplane. That means that K & O have actually been on 24 different flights in their 3 years of life. That's not a lot for Brangelina's kids, but that's a lot for our kids. When they were babies we always travelled with them in the front pack baby carriers. We'd keep them in there the entire flight and never detach them. As they got bigger we had them convinced that they had to sleep on airplanes. We always planned our flights to be during their naptimes and did everything in our power to get them to go to sleep. They almost always did. (yes, it was a shock to us too!!!). Now that they're older they sit in their own seats and they get to watch videos (portable DVD players are *key*!!!), and have their favorite snacks (Kyle eats a whole entire sleeve of whole grain fig newtons on each and every flight now, NO KIDDING). They love when the attendants come by with drinks and nuts. Southwest Airlines is our favorite for travelling with the boys because they are incredibly, incredibly family and child friendly. Knock on wood, K & O have always been *awesome* on every airplane. It still shocks me each and every time. People are always complimented us like, "Wow! Your kids were sooooo great on the flight!!! How on earth do you get them to be so good???" And we just laugh to ourselves because it is hard to believe they are actually talking about our kids (since normally the boys are off the walls with their antics!!! see question answer below!). In terms of hotels/resorts/etc... We have found that travelling with K & O is *much* easier on all of us if we are able to have some sort of suite or villa of some sort with kitchenette and separate bedroom (with an actual door). A little kitchen is a huge help (microwave and fridge at the very least) because then we can do food (or at least some of it) for K & O ourselves and not force them to do restaurants 3x/day. A microwave lets us warm up milk, mac-n-cheese, etc. We almost always travel w/ a cooler with some food/drink for the boys (on flights they will allow you to check food, so we pack it into our luggage). A separate bedroom is a huge plus because we can let them nap and/or go to bed early at night and Braydon and I can still have some time/space. It costs more for this, obviously, but we've found that if we research and search and work at it we can usually find some sort of great deal on an arrangement that works well for us. Lastly, when we travel we try to keep some of our important rituals in tact (we try to stick to our normal bedtime routine of books and prayers & we always are sure to have Owen's "warm milk" for him when he wakes up, for examples), but otherwise we 'let it all go' (i.e., we will sometimes rock them to sleep, let them eat cake for breakfast, let them watch more videos than usual, etc. -- things we normally wouldn't do at home). Then when we get home we try to immediately snap right back to our usual ways-of-being. When we're travelling with them we go into it expecting that there will be lots of meltdowns and tantrums and 'issues' -- and there always are -- but if we're expecting it, then when it happens it feels not-so-bad. And the truth is that the good parts soooo far outweigh all the 'issues' that it is well worth it to deal with that stuff. Anyway, tips... my biggest tip is to just take the plunge and do it! And put "patience" on the very top of your "To Pack" list! :)

haze said...
I don't have a question, I just like reading your blog and seeing your boys up to their antics
Thanks Haze. I think. ;0 LOL! Even though you didn't ask a question I couldn't resist posting this photo in response to your comment. This just happened a couple days ago. I bought the boys new toothbrushes -- those pseudo cheapo 'electric' toothbrushes you can buy. Well, K & O absolutely love these toothbrushes. Tonight, in fact, staring lovingly at his new "motor toothbrush" Kyle said to me, with love oozing from his tone, "Mama, I love my new toothbrush. I love it." Anyway, we heard them 'brushing their teeth. Braydon went to check on them. For obvious reasons. He told me I should come see it. I went, and this is what was happening:
In addition to brushing their teeth, they had squeezed out an entire new tube-full of Cat In The Hat toothpaste into the sink. Note that the deflated, squeezed out tube is placed precisely in its place on the counter and they are diligently brushing their teeth in the mirror. Antics!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Open Book Answers Part 2 (by Braydon)


In keeping with the goal of answering all the questions this week, I am taking a crack at the ones I thought were easiest too.... Here we go!


The Fry Family said...
1. What drew you to Haiti? 2. What software program does Braydon use to create those fantastic videos? Blessings,Kristie

We'll answer what drew us to Haiti in another post...
Thank you for the nice complement on the videos - glad you like them! Some are definitely better than others, I am trying to increase my consistency and pacing. In any case, I had been using Adobe Premiere, but my trial version expired (*sheepish shrug*), so now I am using Ulead Video Studio 11 Plus. It's ok; I was much happier with Premiere, but since it's prohibitively expensive and I am not thrilled with Ulead, I am going to try Adobe Premiere Elements. We'll see how it goes; I might have to break down and get the full version of Premiere. For those interested, our video camera is a hard drive based camera - Sony DCR-SR200 (note that the price on the website is waaay off). For me, I couldn't stand transferring tape to computer, drag and drop is so much better.





Do you have any photo tips? What kind of camera are you using? Thanks,-Teena
I did a lot of home work before settling on a camera. I knew we needed point and shoot capabilities for Heather (who has an aversion for technical detail) and a lot of control for me (who likes to exercise those kinds of things). I also wanted to make sure it was pretty fast (startup to shot time, and shot to shot), could handle low light fairly well and was pocket able. We didn't need video on it, or interchangeable lenses or anything like that.

I settled on the Canon Powershot G7. Our good friend Stacey (who is a great photographer) swore by her G4 and now I swear by our G7. I only wish the telephoto was better.

We get almost all our photographic stuff at Beach Camera - they have the lowest prices by far - and for us, the store (for what it is) is about 15 minutes from my office (no shipping). If you do buy anything there, don't get accessories, they are way over priced.

As for photo tips, this is what I have discovered: Heather is an amazing editor. If I cram as much as possible into the picture, get the lighting right and play with the controls, she can work wonders. But here is what I think in general (file under for what it's worth):

1. 2/3 rule: I like highlights of things to to be 2/3'd to the left or right and up or down - almost never in the center of the picture.
2. lighting: I find that black people are best lit from an angle - not above. Deep afternoon and early morning lighting are far and away best - very different, but the best. White people are better from above, but not directly from above. In general, lighting from the side is best for everyone.
3. For portraits, tilt the subject's head forward for a more flattering shot. It elongates the face and adds angle to the chin.
4. Capture a moment, not a portrait: It's better to sit off to the side and catch an event as it unfolds rather than set it up. This could be personal, I hate having my picture taken.
5. Always remember you're not capturing a moment, you are creating an image. You select what goes in the little box, and where it goes. Prep for a moment to happen before it happens.

Rob and Mandy Brelsford said...
I love someone elses question about how you and Braydon met! ~Mandy :)

Heather and I met in college. We went to a small liberal arts college in rural Maine with 1,600 students. We never met until the first day of our final year (which is crazy and just shows how popular she was and I wasn't). I showed up at a party in the basement of a dorm. I spied Heather across the room, she spied me; we met at the chair in the middle and started talking. We have not stopped talking since, and I am sure we never will - thank goodness!


jazzmoh said...
My question is not really profound but why doesn't Braydon post more often?
Why don't I post more.... that is actually really tough. I could blame time, that I am working full time, and starting a company. But Heather has just a demanding schedule and she finds the time. Frankly, I don't have a great answer, I wish I could blame something, but only I am to blame. I love our blog and love to contribute, I am now starting to do a little better with doing more. I have never been good at the regular communication work like this, but I'll work on doing some more.

Open Book Answers Part 1 (by Heather)


We are going to be answering these Open Book questions in no particular order. We're also going to be posting some semi-random photos with some of the posts (just cuz we aim to please and we've caught wind that y'all don't like it if we post too much text without photos!!!)

Tonight I'm just picking five to get myself started. These are, to me, the five easiest to answer. So, here goes...

laurafingerson said...
What does a typical daily schedule look like for you? I have posted these a couple times on our blog and I find it so interesting and informative to see how other twin-families manage all the things one has to do during the day to keep the family going (waking up, sleeping, eating, getting groceries, cooking, playing, working!, etc.).

Hi Laura!!! Why does it not surprise me that a Sociologist asks this question?!?!! The interesting in the mundane!!?! Anyhoo... yes, I too am fascinated by other families' daily routines (especially twin families). Our routine varies by season (winter, spring, summer, fall as well as what is happening in the academic year --- semesters, crunch times, etc.). This summer we've been in VERY laid back schedule (much more laid back than ever before because I was able to have a very flexible work schedule this summer), but we're about to break out of it big time (as the fall semester and end of summer is upon us)... Here's what our summertime daily routine has looked like (mid-week that is. weekends are always flying by the seats of our pants and we don't really have any "typical" weekend routine):


  • Braydon and I try to get up when our alarms go off at 6am. Honestly, if truth be told: this summer we've hardly ever actually gotten out of bed then. We've slacked off on that this summer!

  • Boys wake up sometime around 7:00


  • Cuddle in our bed for as long as they'll tolerate (usually no more than 5-10 minutes)


  • Braydon & Heather take turns showering and getting the boys their morning milk/breakfast/hanging out with the boys


  • Braydon leaves for work 7:45-8:30ish, depending on his day, Heather plays with the boys around the house until 10:00


  • Alex arrives and takes over with the boys at 10:00, Heather goes to work


  • Alex with the boys 10-5... doing all sorts of things including outings (playgrounds, parks, playdates, errands, concerts, fountains, creeks, ice cream, out for lunch, picnics, etc., etc., etc.) and home-time (swimming pool, sandbox, swings, bikes, lunch, snacks, nap/"rest hour", reading, playing, etc., etc., etc.). Note: the boys normally eat lunch around 11:30/12:00ish and have snacks mid-morning and mid-afternoon.


  • 5:00 Heather finishes works and takes over with boys, Alex leaves. Mama and boys play, swim, hang out, etc.


  • 6:00 Braydon finishes work and takes over with boys (usually giving boys shower or bath)


  • 6:00-6:30 Heather frantically tries to get dinner on the table


  • 6:30 The Family Dinner


  • 7:00/7:30ish (depending how long dinner lasts), hang out a little bit as a foursome, sometimes watch a 20 minute video (Little Einsteins and Curious George are current favorites -- this summer we probably watched a video about 3-4 times per week) then head upstairs to get ready for bed (brush teeth, wash face/hands, lotion on skin and hair, pajamas, etc.)


  • 7:45ish Books & Prayers (Braydon reads to them every night -- between 3-5 books per night depending on how much time we have)


  • 8:00ish Tuck in, lights out, nighty night K & O


  • 8:00-9:00is Heather & Braydon clean up dinner, clean kitchen, dishes, laundry, kitty litter, trash, go through mail, tidy up house, etc., etc., etc.


  • 9:00-11:00ish Heather & Braydon work in our home offices (and often I/we blog during that time too -- like, right now!!!)


  • 11:00-12midnightish We try to have a drink together and debrief about the day


  • midnightish-1a.m.-ish Heather & Braydon go to bed. I'm usually asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. Braydon usually reads for awhile in bed before he falls asleep.


  • Start the day again!

Anonymous said...
My question has to do with language- are you planning to expose the boys to the African American dialect? My family has dealt with this through marriage, and I am curious about your plans. . .I guess your boys are still young so maybe you had not had to deal with it yet. . .Oh, I link here from the Fingerson blog, I am a former student of Laura's. . .Michele

Hi Michele. So far we've been conscious of exposing Kyle and Owen to African American dialect in the sense that we go way out of our way to try to make sure they have time (like, real time --- with us not present) with black people, specifically young black people. We're really fortunate because as a college professor I can connect Kyle and Owen relatively easily with great young black men and women from all walks of life. I'm aware that Kyle and Owen are perceived as African American. I personally think of them as Haitian-American, or West Indian, or Afro-Caribbean... I don't really think of them as "African American" per se, but I do understand that is how others do and will perceive them. I fully realize how important it is for our boys to be in black spaces, in "black worlds" and immersed in them. It is going to be a tough road ahead for K & O because they are growing up with white parents. So, we're doing what we can now even though they are still so young. I think the younger we start, the better. I fully expect, however, that K & O will not speak with an "African American dialect" -- no matter how much we expose them to black folks -- because they are being raised by white parents. Also, we live in a predominately white area. And they go to predominately white daycare/school. This summer I read a great new book by sociologist Karyn Lacy called Blue Chip Black: Race, Class, and Status in the New Black Middle Class (click here for Amazon.com link) Braydon and I have been having lots of conversations spurred by this book. I highly recommend it to anyone thinking about these sorts of issues. I expect that in the next couple of months I'll be posting more about this subject so keep checking in on our blog for that!!!

The Tacheny's said...
Does your nanny help you keep the house clean/cook? I dont have a nanny, I work full-time and I cant do it all. Any tips, hints, clues how to work and spend time with your kids and be a wife and homemaker?-Kim

Oh Lordy Kim, I should be asking YOU for tips!!!! LOL!!! I am by no means an expert in this area. Almost daily Braydon and I look at each other at the end of the day and say, "How do people do it???" (meaning dual career families)... then we laugh cuz people actually think we're doing it. What a joke!!! We're barely getting by!!! Our nanny does not do anything but straight child care. That's how we want it. We want her fully focused on K & O. Alex (our nanny) does not live with us. We do have a house cleaner (a wonderful, wonderful one!!!) who comes once each week for 3 hours. We couldn't get by without her. I've posted about her before (click here for example). We are also in the process right now of trying to work out some sort of help with food prep. I'll post about that later if it works out. My only tip is to try to rely on others (even if you have to pay them) as much as possible. Also, I try hard to not let my "Type A" personality get the best of me. I've learned to let a LOT go!!! LOL!!! ;0 One thing we do is totally prioritize our nights and weekends with K & O. We don't ever do dishes, clean, laundry, etc. with the boys awake. We do all that while they are sleeping. We want to spend every minute we can WITH them, playing, snuggling, etc. so we really try to do our 'chores' while they're asleep. That works for us, but we get too little sleep!!! This past spring I read a book that really helped me. I recommend it. It is called This Is How We Do It: A Practical Guide for the Working Mother by Carol Evans (click here for Amazon.com link). I also subscribe to Working Mother magazine (click here) which helps me feel less alienated. Lastly, I have written before about all the craze of the two-career family and I will write a lot more about it, I'm sure. (Check out this post -- click here -- for one example).


Kathrine said...
The only question I might have right now is where to get those triekes? I haven't seen those here at all.

Hi Kathrine in Germany!!! We got the cute bikes at LL Bean (click here). They are Schwinn brand tricycles.


Rob and Mandy Brelsford said...
Who picked your paint colours for your house??? I LOVE them!

Rob & Mandy-- My mother and I had a ton of fun picking the colors for the interior of our house! My mom is great with that kind of thing and has been my ADVISOR. When we were in the process of buying this house, I flew her to Pennsylvania for a few days and we picked out everything together: paint, carpet, furniture, etc. It was one of the best mother-daughter times I/we have ever had. Very wonderful sweet memory for me. Thanks for the compliment! Sometimes I feel self-conscious of how "bright" the colors are... but they are so "us" (and now.... they are soooo "K & O" too!!!)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

K & O Summer 2007 Photo Poll

Our blogging goal for this week is to answer all 67 questions from our End of Summer Open Book Challenge (click here and here). Hopefully by Labor Day (the official end of summer), we'll have answered all of your questions and closed this can of worms -- um, I mean, this book for good. In the meantime... (remember, I am a professor and also the daughter of camp directors --- i.e., I don't like 'dead time')... we have a special 'activity' to keep y'all busy! Our first ever... drumroll please... BLOG POLL!!! ;0 Each year, at the end of August we take a photo of K & O sitting in this one particular spot of our yard. Check out the photos on our blog's sidebar to see the photos from Summers 2005 & 2006 (scroll down and look at the far left side of this blog). Today we did the photo shoot for Summer 2007. We took about 20, but we've narrowed it down to 6. Which is your favorite?!?! So, this week, while you're waiting to see the answer to your Open Book Challenge question, tell us which of these photos is your fav (photo numbers are below each photo; and as always you can click on any photo to enlarge). "Vote" by clicking on the poll at the upper left hand corner of our blog!
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Photo 1
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Photo 2
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Photo 3
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Photo 4
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Photo 5
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Photo 6
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UPDATE TO THIS POST: PHOTO #3 WON IN A LANDSLIDE!!!

Spirited Water Babies

K (behind) and O (front) in the swimming pool this evening
---
We have two children. Both are what child psychologists label "Spirited." Anyone who knows even a little about child psychology can see the "Spirited" nature of Kyle and Owen a mile away. Owen is an extremely Spirited child -- he falls on the far extreme end of the spectrum. Kyle is just plain spirited -- a textbook case. Both are hard to handle. Together they are (to put it nicely) "two handfuls." If you've seen them in real life you know what I'm talking about. They are in constant motion, they are loud, they are brazen, they are FULL OF IT all day every day. They test your patience, they let you know what they want, and they are (as someone said to me today) "hard to contain" (uh, yeah, in more ways than one!!!). I try to embrace this about my boys. I tell people they are "full of it! full of spirit!" Luckily for them (or unluckily as the case may be), I, as their mother, can relate to Kyle and Owen's spirited persona's. I am pretty sure that I too was a spirited child, and now-- as an adult-- I am quite aware that I am a spirited adult. Spirited people can drive other people absolutely crazy with their boundless energy, their will power, their persistence, their intensity. Spirited people are extremely frustrating to handle as children and extremely frustrating to deal with as adults. They push the limits, they push people's buttons, they push the boundaries of everything/everyone/every situation all the time. Spirited people are also incredible to witness as they often are the ones to forge new directions and expand horizons. Most great rebels (both horrible criminals and great luminaries) are/were spirited people. Right now I'm reading (for the second time in the past 2 years) a terrific book about raising spirited children. I'm going to post more about that in a couple of weeks. But one thing this book talks about is how much spirited children love water. It is one of the very few things that brings out the best in them and at the same time soothes them. This part of the book is amazing me now, as I read it again for the second time, just as much as it amazed me the first time I read it. Because long before we ever identified K & O as "Spirited" we noticed their complete utter total infatuation with water. Faucets, sinks, hoses, puddles, baths, pools, ponds, lakes, rivers, oceans, boats, bridges, swimming, diving, jumping, floating... Kyle and Owen LOVE water. This weekend we spent most of our time at our swimming pool. Today, after spending the morning at the Uhrig's new house and having lunch with them, we spent some time hanging out by the Delaware River (a 5-10 minute drive from our house). To put it mildly, a Water Weekend = a Happy Weekend for K & O. Here are some photos from this weekend.





Eddy


There are many types of stones and rock ranging in hardness and density and color and texture. All across the world different stones show up at the surface of our planet. And when they do arrive, coming up from the depths of the earth, they are fresh and new - even when they are extremely old. Their form and substance is shaped from the passage to above; their fundamental nature is imposed before we ever even toss a single stone in the river.

But once they emerge in to the light, weathering begins. It can be a deluge, it can be a mist, or sunny. In all cases, the elements have an immediate effect to harden, to carve, to wash away and to bring out different characteristics: on the way to the river, the rocks' shapes start to shift and change, to undergo metamorphosis. And sooner or later, all stones are brought to one river or another in some manner: in padding, skidded or bounced, tumbled down an embankment or tossed in by able hands.

And while there are many rivers in the world - wide and flowing; with boat traffic; little more than a trickle in a nearly dry stream bed - some are truly wild. It's up to a captain to ensure safe passage on any river. But I suppose you can never can tell about the captain until you get there.

And there are so many forces in any river - current, flood, drought, silt, other rock or even a dam now and again. It can be difficult to navigate for even the most competent oarsman, it can demand and shake the very confident of the most worthy seafarer. We are all ultimately lost to the sea; it's passage that we enjoy and relish.

Heather and I found and were tossed two rocks which we gently placed in our river. We know that as we navigate the ever changing tides in our little boat, it's important to moderate the flow over our boys, keep it in check. Keep if from overwhelming them, from undermining them, from carrying them away.

Our river is beautiful and we love it. Our boys love to skip stones in it, we love its flow. But like a good whitewater rafter, we also do everything we can to keep K & O tucked in the eddies of our own quickly weathering stones; keep them safe while we quickly, deftly and jointly work to build their boats and teach them to sail. We know that some day, and we don't really know when, they will captain their own vessel on their own waters.

We have pretty intense schedules and lives. Things tip our applecart, things knock us off our rails. It's mostly our own doing and we make the most of it. Every opportunity that has come our way by luck, work, or birth we have leveraged. It sometimes results in strife, and difficulty and tremendous speed; often it results in reward. We always do our best to keep our boys in our eddies until their boats are ready.
Today we visited our friends Matt, Stacey and Ben. While there, Kyle locked-in on a Hess firetruck. He played with it for an hour, pushing it around the floor, turning the lights on and off, making the sirens blare. He played mostly by himself, but at one point he took me into a darkened bathroom to see the trucks lights. While laying on the floor eyes fixed on the toy he joyfully whispered to me: "Papi, it's soooo beautiful".

Our little stone played and played. For now both are safely in our eddies.


I hope we navigate well.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Dinner Discussion Tonight

Hi - I'm trying out some new editing software and the new blogger video posting - the quality of the files will get better soon! p.s. double click on the arrow to see the video

video

Thought of the Day & Small World Connection

One of our regular readers is "Malia's Mama" (click here to see her blog). I have become fast friends with her through the blogosphere. It is a crazy, crazy, small, small world, but we have a sort of incredible story -- 1.5 years ago I made a photo/scrap book thing that "tells"/documents the story of our family's adoption. I had randomly found a poem on the internet that I adored, and one of the things I put in the book was the poem. Also, right here on this blog, on our Adoption Day this year, I posted the same poem (check it out by clicking here). So, fast forward to a few weeks ago --> I start noticing this woman- "Malia's Mama" regularly posting these really interesting comments on our blog. She's clearly knowledgeable about Haiti, and her comments strike me as unusual (in a good way). We start emailing. We become, like I said, fast friends through the blogosphere. Eventually she shares a couple of her pieces of writing with me. And... one of them is... none other than... the One Child poem that I had put in our photo book and on our blog. O.k., is that crazy, crazy, small, small world or what??? Anyway... I really appreciate "Malia's Mama's" poem(s) and her comments on our blog. After I saw her comment on today's post (click here for that post), a thought that I've had many, many times once again got stuck in my head. This evening I keep thinking this thought that I think a lot:
You can take the boy out of Haiti, but you can't take the Haiti out of the boy.

3 Year Olds Check Ups


This morning the "whole family" (as K & O say) went to the Doctor's Office for Kyle and Owen's 3-Year-Old Physicals. It is always an event going anywhere with K & O. They take every place they enter by storm. The Doctor's Office is no exception. The folks in the waiting room stare at them and try not to giggle, the nurses all swoon over them and offer them lollipops, the doctors indulge in their own proud roles in K & O's medical success story, and we -- their parents -- hold our breath just hoping that neither of them break the stethoscope. K & O delight in going to "The Doctor's" each and every time. Bizarrely, they even claim to "like shots!" ???! Today Owen even asked for a shot: "Can I please have shot please? I like shots!!!" ??!! Lucky for him, he got to have one. Kyle too. They were both fascinated with it (I'm not kidding) and never even flinched when the long needle filled with the Hep A vaccine was shot deep into their upper arms (heeding our very conservative doctor's advice we opted to get the Hep A since we travel with the boys off the beaten path in the Caribbean and let them eat, as the doctor said it, "local flavors" while we're there). Anyway... like with any "whole family" outing, I could go on and on about this one. The biggest piece of info to come out of it was no surprise: both boys are waaaaaaay off the charts for height and weight. Our doctor was so excited to "chart them" that she was actually giddy when it came time to mark their percentiles. She announced proudly that she's "never seen anything like it" (quote, unquote). She also mentioned (being a mother herself) that she "can't wait to hear what our grocery bill is when these boys are sixteen"... As usual, Braydon laughed proudly when she said that, and I cringed in fear. Here are their 3 year old stats--
Owen: height = 41.5 inches, weight = 39 pounds
Kyle: height = 41 inches, weight = 38 pounds
Our pediatrician explained that the boys are "over what the charts show" so she told me that if anyone asks I should just say that they are "above the top 5 percentile." I thought to myself, "O.k., but nobody usually asks that." I get it though, she's just thrilled about K & O. She takes pride in it. She expressed repeatedly to us how proud she is of their medical story. K & O's pediatrician has been with us -- every step of the way, medically, with our boys. She was "on the case" (as she says) even before we brought them home. Today she even snuck us into a room where on a large cork board she has proudly displayed multiple photos of Kyle and Owen which show their remarkable recovery, growth, and all-around-health/medical journey over time. She has always asked me for "update photos" but I never realized why until now. Now I know that she displays them proudly in the office for all to see. She deserves to be proud.




Wednesday, August 22, 2007

August New Hampshire Trip


While everyone was coming up with questions for our Open Book Challenge we were in New Hampshire for our annual summer trip. Today I heard Kyle explain it to someone as our "trip to MorMor and MorFar's House and Cottage." Precisely. My parents still live in the home where I grew up in the Mount Washington Valley. My parents built their house and it is absolutely beautiful. My mom's side of the family also has a summer cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee. My great grandfather built it and Kyle and Owen are the 5th generation to love it. And man oh man, love it they do. I didn't think anyone could love "the cottage" (as we call it) more than my mother or I (my mother grew up spending summers there and she adores the place immensely; I have a special love for the place too -- amongst other things, Braydon proposed to me on the dock there). I now realize, however, after seeing my boys there for their third annual summer visit, that it is very possible that my boys love it even more than any generation before them. I am so happy about that. We had a wonderful 6-day vacation, we took tons of photos, and I'm going to post a lot of them here. Hopefully the pictures will do justice to how special this annual pilgrimage is for us!
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Highlights this year were~~ the airplane rides to-and-from (I can't even explain how much K & O love everything about air travel -- including the chance to get a rental car); swimming in Loon Lake; MorFar's tractor; homemade pizza cooked in my parents' new earth oven; K & O's second annual trip to Story Land with their cousin Sadie (Kyle's favorite ride: the Flying Fish, Owen's favorite ride: the Bamboo Chutes); lobster & steamers on the picnic table at the cottage Friday night; many, many rides in "MorFar's Boat!"; K & O "driving" the motorboat with MorFar (Kyle was completely obsessed); spending time with Stina, Tim, and Sadie (Auntie Stina is always a huge highlight for K & O!!!); being in NH for my Aunt and Uncle's 40th Wedding Anniversary party on Sunday; fresh veggies from my mom's gardens; lots of swimming and playing in the water; kayaking; walks along the dirt roads; K & O throwing rocks -- still their favorite pastime anytime they are anywhere near a body of water; a special motorboat ride to Wolfeboro for ice cream; beautiful sunsets; fried clams, etc. from Sawyers Dairy Bar on Monday night; coffee by the water every morning and every afternoon; K & O's first time fishing; a lot more sleep than usual for Braydon and I (thanks to my parents for taking the early morning shifts with K & O!); a special visit from Mrs. Peterson on Friday night and a special visit from Ed & Andrea (and Morgan) on Tuesday; lots of laughs with/at K & O; lots of quality time with MorMor and MorFar.
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Our family loves to travel. Being able to go to such a special place (my home, our family cottage) is especially awesome for us. It is crazy, crazy, crazy to travel with two rambunctious three-year-old boys. And it definitely has its 'moments' -- Kyle got sick from eating too many pepperonis on pizza night; Owen threw some seriously nasty tantrums each day; Kyle fell off the dock (fully clothed) and almost drowned (literally) and I (Heather) had to jump in (fully clothed) to save him (literally); our flight back to Philadelphia was delayed for two hours; both boys came home coming down with cold/flu bugs; the packing and unpacking is a drag, etc, etc, etc... but... all in all -- the bottom line is that we love it. All four of us. We just love going on family trips. Wouldn't trade it for the world. Don't get me wrong, we love to come home too. But there is nothing that cements our family more than a little vaca. Hope you enjoy the photos!~~

MorMor & MorFar's House











Story Land 2007